Treaty of friendship and commerce between Great Britain and Siam/Treaty

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Treaty of friendship and commerce between Great Britain and Siam  (1856) 
Treaty signed April 18, 1855; ratified April 5, 1856



Friendship and Commerce


Great Britain and Siam.

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and all its dependencies, and Their Majesties Phra Bard Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mongkut Phra Chom Klau Chau Yu Hua, the first King of Siam, and Phra Bard Somdetch Phra Pawarendr Ramesr Mahiswaresr Phra Pin Klau Chau Yu Hua, the second King of Siam, desiring to establish upon firm and lasting foundations the relations of peace and friendship existing between the two countries, and to secure the best interests of their respective subjects by encouraging, facilitating, and regulating their industry and trade, have resolved to conclude a treaty of Amity and Commerce for this purpose, and have therefore named as their Plenipotentiaries, that is to say:

Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Sir John Bowing, Knight, Doctor of Laws, &c., &c.;

And Their Majesties the first and second Kings of Siam, His Royal Highness Krom Hluang Wongsa Dhiraj Snidh;

His Excellency Somdetch Chau Phaya Param Maha Puyurawongse;

His Excellency Somdetch Chau Phaya Param Maha Bijai-neate, &c. &c.;

His Excellency Chau Phaya Sri Suriwongse Samuha Phra Kalahom, &c. &c.;

and His Excellency Chau Phaya, &c, Acting Phra-Klang.

Who, after having communicated to each other their respective full powers, and found them to be in good and due form, have agreed upon and concluded the following Articles:—

Article I.

There shall henceforward be perpetual peace and friendship between Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and her successors, and Their Majesties the first and second Kings of Siam and their successors. All British subjects coming to Siam shall receive from the Siamese Government full protection and assistance to enable them to reside in Siam in all security, and trade with every facility, free from oppression or injury on the part of the Siamese; and all Siamese subjects going to an English country shall receive from the British Government the same complete protection and assistance that shall be granted to British subjects by the Government of Siam.

Article II.

The interests of all British subjects coming to Siam shall be placed under the regulation and control of a Consul, who will be appointed to reside at Bangkok: he will himself conform to and will enforce the observance, by British subjects, of all the provisions of this Treaty, and such of the former Treaty negotiated by Captain Burney in 1836, as shall still remain in operation. He shall also give effect to all rules or regulations that are now or may hereafter be enacted for the government of British subjects in Siam, the conduct of their trade, and for the prevention of violations of the laws of Siam. Any disputes arising between Siamese and British subjects shall be heard and determined by the Consul, in conjunction with the proper Siamese officers; and criminal offences will be punished, in the case of English offenders by the Consul, according to English laws, and in the case of Siamese offenders, by their own laws, through the Siamese authorities. But the Consul shall not interfere in any matters referring solely to Siamese, neither will the Siamese authorities interfere in questions which only concern the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty.

It is understood, however, that the arrival of the British Consul at Bangkok shall not take place before the ratification of this Treaty, nor until ten vessels owned by British subjects, sailing under British colours and with British papers, shall have entered the port of Bangkok for purposes of trade, subsequent to the signing of this Treaty.

Article III.

If Siamese in the employ of British subjects offend against the laws of their country, or if any Siamese having so offended or desiring to desert, take refuge with a British subject in Siam, they shall be searched for, and, upon proof of their guilt or desertion, shall be delivered up by the Consul to the Siamese authorities. In like manner, any British offenders resident or trading in Siam, who may desert, escape to, or hide themselves in Siamese territory, shall be apprehended and delivered over to the British Consul on his requisition. Chinese, not able to prove themselves to be British subjects, shall not be considered as such by the British Consul, nor be entitled to his protection.

Article IV.

British subjects are permitted to trade freely in all the seaports of Siam, but may reside permanently only at Bangkok, or within the limits assigned by this Treaty. British subjects coming to reside at Bangkok may rent land, and buy or build houses, but cannot purchase lands within a circuit of 200 Sen (not more than four miles English) from the city walls, until they shall have lived in Siam for ten years, or shall obtain special authority from the Siamese Government, to enable them to do so. But with the exception of this limitation, British residents in Siam may at any time buy or rent houses, lands, or plantations, situated anywhere within a distance of twenty-four hours journey from the city of Bangkok, to be computed by the rate at which boats of the country can travel. In order to obtain possession of such lands or houses, it will be necessary that the British subjects shall, in the first place, make application through the Consul to the proper Siamese officer; and the Siamese officer and the Consul having satisfied themselves of the honest intentions of the applicant, will assist him in settling, upon equitable terms, the amount of the purchase money, will mark out and fix the boundaries of the property, and will convey the same to the British purchaser under sealed deeds. Whereupon he and his property shall be placed under the protection of the Governor of the district and that of the particular local authorities; he shall conform, in ordinary matters, to any just directions given him by them, and will be subject to the same taxation that is levied on Siamese subjects. But if through negligence, the want of capital, or other cause, a British subject should fail to commence the cultivation or improvement of the lands so acquired, within a term of three years, from the date of receiving possession thereof, the Siamese Government shall have the power of resuming the property, upon returning to the British subject the purchase-money paid by him for the same.

Article V.

All British subjects intending to reside in Siam shall be registered at the British Consulate. They shall not go out to sea, nor proceed beyond the limits assigned by this Treaty for the residence of British subjects, without a passport from the Siamese authorities, to be applied for by the Consul; nor shall they leave Siam if the Siamese authorities show to the British Consul that legitimate objections exist to their quitting the country. But within the limits appointed under the preceding Article, British subjects are at liberty to travel to and fro under the protection of a pass, to be furnished them by the British Consul, and counter-sealed by the proper Siamese officer, stating, in the Siamese character their names, calling and description. The Siamese officers at the Government stations in the interior may at any time, call for the production of this pass, and immediately on its being exhibited, they must allow the parties to proceed; but it will be their duty to detain those persons who, by travelling without a pass from the Consul, render themselves liable to the suspicion of their being deserters; and such detention, shall be immediately reported to the Consul.

Article VI.

All British subjects visiting or residing in Siam, shall be allowed the free exercise of the Christian religion, and liberty to build churches in such localities as shall be consented by the Siamese authorities.

The Siamese Government will place no restrictions upon the employment by the English or Siamese subjects as servants, or in any other capacity. But wherever a Siamese subject belongs or owes service to some particular master, the servant who engages himself to a British subject, without the consent of his master, may be reclaimed by him; and the Siamese Government will not enforce an agreement between a British subject and any Siamese in his employ, unless made with the knowledge and consent of the master, who has a right to dispose of the services of the person engaged.

Article VII.

British ships of war may enter the river and anchor at Paknam, but they shall not proceed above Paknam, unless with the consent of the Siamese authorities, which shall be given where it is necessary that a ship shall go into dock for repairs. Any British ship of war conveying to Siam a public functionary, accredited by Her Majesty's Government to the Court of Bangkok, shall be allowed to come up to Bangkok, but shall not pass the forts called Pong-Pachamit and Pit-Pachanuck, unless expressly permitted to do so by the Siamese Government; but in the absence of a British ship of war, the Siamese authorities engage to furnish the Consul, with a force sufficient to enable him to give effect to his authority over British subjects, and to enforce discipline among British shipping.

Article VIII.

The measurement duty hitherto paid by British vessels trading to Bangkok, under the treaty of 1826, shall be abolished from the date of this Treaty coming into operation; and British shipping or trade, will thenceforth be only subject to the payment of import and export duties on the goods landed or shipped.

On all articles of import the duties shall be three per cent, payable at the option of the importer, either in kind or money, calculated upon the market value of the goods. Drawback of the full amount of duty shall be allowed upon goods found unsaleable and re-exported. Should the British merchant and the Custom house officers disagree as to the value to be set upon imported articles, such disputes shall be referred to the Consul and proper Siamese officer, shall each have the power to call in an equal number of merchants as assessors, not exceeding two on either side, to assist them in coming to an equitable decision.

Opium may be imported free of duty, but can only be sold to the opium farmer or his agents. In the event of no arrangement being effected with them, for the sale of the opium, it shall be re-exported, and no import or duty shall be levied thereon. Any infringement of this regulation shall subject the opium to seizure and confiscation.

Articles of export from the time of production to the date of shipment, shall pay one impost only, whether this be levied under the name of inland tax, transit duty, or duty on exportation. The tax or duty to be paid on each article of Siamese produce, previous to, or upon exportation, is specified in the Tariff attached to this Treaty; and it is distinctly agreed, that goods or produce which pay any description of tax in the interipr, shall be exempted from any further payment of duty on exportation.

English merchants are to be allowed to purchase directly from the producer, the articles in which they trade, and in like manner to sell their goods directly to the parties wishing to purchase the same without the interference in either case of any other person.

The rates of duty laid down in the Tariff, attached to this Treaty, are those that are now paid, upon goods or produce, shipped in Siamese or Chinese vessels or junks, and it is agrees that British shipping shall enjoy all the privileges now exercised by, or which hereafter may be granted to Siamese or Chinese vessels or junks.

British subjects will be allowed to build ships in Siam, on obtaining permission to do so from the Siamese authorities.

Whenever a scarcity may be apprehended of Salt, Rice and Fish, the Siamese Government reserve to themselves the right of prohibiting, by public proclamation, the exportation of these articles.

Bullion or personal effects, may be imported or exported free of charge.

Article IX.

The Code of Regulations apprehended to this Treaty, shall be enforced by the Consul, with the co-operation of the Siamese authorities; and they, the said authorities and Consul, shall be enabled to introduce any further regulations, which may be found necessary, in order to give effect to the objects of this Treaty.

All fines and penalties inflicted for infraction of the provisions and regulations of this Treaty shall be paid to the Siamese Government.

Until the British Consul shall arrive at Bangkok, and enter upon his functions, the consignees of British vessels shall be at liberty to settle with the Siamese authorities all questions relating to their trade.

Article X.

The British Government and its subjects will be allowed free and equal participation in any privileges, that may have been, or may hereafter be, granted by the Siamese Government, to the Government or subjects of any other nation.

Article XI.

After the lapse of ten years from the date of the ratification of this Treaty, upon the desire of either the British or Siamese Governments, and on twelve months' notice given by either party, the present and such portions of the Treaty of 1826 as remain unrevoked by this Treaty, together with the Tariff and Regulations hereunto annexed, or those that may hereafter be introduced, shall be subject to revision by Commissioners appointed on both sides for this purpose, who will be empowered to decide on, and insert therein, such amendments as experience shall prove to be desirable.

Article XII.

This Treaty, executed in English and Siamese, both versions having the same meaning and intention, and the ratifications thereof having been previously exchanged, shall take effect from the sixth day of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six of the Christian era, corresponding to the first day of the fifth month of the one thousand two hundred and eighteenth year of the Siamese Civil era.

In witness whereof, the above-named Plenipotentiaries have signed and sealed the present Treaty in quadruplicate at Bangkok, on the eighteenth day of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five of the Christian era, corresponding to the second day of the sixth month of the one thousand two hundred and seventeenth year of the Siamese Civil era.

John Bowring.
(Signatures and seals of the five Siamese Plenipotentiaries.)