Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Liang Lun-shu

LIANG Lun-shu 梁綸樞 (T. 拱辰, H. 星藩), 1790–1877, Aug. 4, a native of Canton, was engaged in foreign trade and was known to Westerners as Kingqua. His father, Liang Ching-kuo 梁經國 (T. 調禮, H. 左垣, 1761–1837), for years a clerk in a Chinese firm trading with Westerners at Canton, established in 1808 a similar business of his own which he styled T'ien-pao 天寶. He thus became a Hong merchant or member of the Co-hong (see under Li Shih-yao). Western merchants called him Leang Kingkuan (Liang Ching-kuan 梁經官), or simply, Kingqua, corrupted from Kingkuan, and this name they also applied to his son. Liang Lun-shu was the third son of Liang Ching-kuo. In 1809, at the age of twenty (sui), he graduated as hsiu-ts'ai, and during the years 1810–37 competed fourteen times in the provincial examination, but was not able to obtain a higher degree. After assisting his father in business for several years, he inherited (1827) the firm, T'ien-pao, but as a Hong merchant adopted the name Liang Ch'êng-hsi 梁丞禧. His Hong was on the Pearl River, the third east of the British East India Company. In 1830, owing to his inability to pay a heavy tax levied upon him by the Hoppo or Superintendent of the Canton Maritime Customs, he was disqualified as a Hong merchant, but in the following year by bribing the Hoppo and by obtaining the support of his fellow Hong merchants who paid the delinquent taxes he was allowed to resume his business. Thereafter his firm prospered for a time but when the privilege of Hong merchants to monopolize foreign trade was abolished in accordance with the Treaty of Nanking of 1842, Liang Lun-shu's Hong gradually declined.

Owing to his wealth, Liang Lun-shu won considerable social and political influence. In 1828 he contributed 95,000 taels to a fund for works in Honan and was rewarded with the rank of taotai; and again, in 1832, upon contributing 20,000 taels to a fund for coast defense in Kwangtung, he was given the rank of Salt Controller. When Canton was threatened by the Taipings, he and a few others donated money to a war fund, and organized a volunteer corps. In 1854, when the city was threatened by rioters known as Hung-chin-tsei 紅巾賊, who captured various towns and villages round Canton, he and Ho Jo-yao (see under Ch'ên Li) were instrumental in organizing a volunteer corps which in the following year distinguished itself by suppressing the rioters. During the uprising the Kwangtung provincial authorities borrowed from Liang and Ho, as well as from other wealthy men, some 400,000 taels for war purposes. But finding themselves after the war unable to repay the sum, the mandarins offered both Liang and Ho official ranks which it is said they declined. In 1857–58, when the allied forces of Great Britain and France attacked Canton (see under Yeh Ming-ch'ên), Liang and Wu Ch'ung-yüeh [q. v.] negotiated several times with Harry Parkes (see under Yeh Ming-ch'ên) to save the city. Though Liang's desire for peace was motivated by his personal interest in commerce, his services were later handsomely recognized. On the recommendation of the governor-general of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, Lao Ch'ung-kuang 勞崇光 (T. 辛階, posthumous name 文毅, 1802–1867), Liang was honored in 1862 with the nominal rank of second class official, and on the recommendation of Mao Hung-pin (see under Lu Hsin-yüan) and Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.] he was decorated in 1874 with the single-eyed Peacock Feather.

One of Liang Lun-shu's brothers, Liang T'ung-hsin 梁同新 (T. 應辰, H. 矩亭, original ming 綸機, 800–1860), graduated as chü-jên in 1818, and after competing ten times in the metropolitan examination, obtained his chin-shih degree (1836). After leaving the Hanlin Academy, he served as a censor (1850–52). In the summer of 1850, when the British plenipotentiary, Bonham (see under Yeh Ming-ch'ên), proceeded to Tientsin in order to negotiate directly with the Peking authorities on the right of British residence in Canton (see under Hsü Kuang-chin), Liang Tung-hsin memorialized the throne recommending a conciliatory policy toward Great Britain because of her power and because of her desire to develop trade with China. Not long after, he again memorialized the throne recommending prohibition of the Christian religion which he regarded as the cause of all the prevailing civil disturbances. After several promotions he was appointed, late in 1857, to the post of prefect of the Metropolitan area, Shun-t'ien, a post he lost in the following year for alleged mismanagement of the provincial examination. A son of Liang T'ung-hsin, named Liang Chao-huang 梁肇煌 (T. 振侯, H. 檀浦, d. c. 1886, age 60 sui), was a chin-hsih of 1853 who served as prefect of Shun-t'ien (1870–73, and 1879) and as financial commissioner of Nanking (1879–86). Another son, Liang Chao-chin 梁肇晉 (T. 振康, H. 少亭), became a chin-shih in 1874, but died young.

[Kwangtung shih-san-hang k'ao, (see bibl. under Li Shih-yao, 1937) pp. 250–55, and 333–38; 番禺縣志 P'an-yü hsien-chih (1931), 19/13b, 16a, 20/27a, 39/25b; Morse, H. B., The Chronicles of the East India Company Trading to China, vols. III and IV (1926) passim.; Hunter, W. C., Bits of Old China (1885), pp. 82–108.]

Hiromu Momose