This page was created by Peter Thilly.  The last update was by Kandra Polatis.

Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Brokers and Middlemen

To ensure success brokers must be employed—I was quite helpless without them and before again sailing for that or any new market I must procure from Macao at least a couple. JM B2 7, Reel 495, 50, May 27, 1835.

In the Jardine-Matheson archive, "brokers" are the Chinese people who either facilitate opium transactions or themselves purchase the drug. In the above quote, Captain MacKay notes that brokers for trips to southern Fujianese ports like Shenhu Bay can be found in Macao. Not many of these brokers are named in the archive, but one does appear with some detail and frequency: a certain "Mr. Yabe."

In 1834, Yabe first appears as a contact of the enigmatic Prussian missionary, Charles Gützlaff, who was then working for Jardine-Matheson as a translator. In the second quote, Yabe essentially recommends the receiving ship system, much as Shi Hou was alleged to have done a few years later.

Your correspondent Yabe of the firm Sam Toan Moh (三全茂), sighs under the wrath of the Mandarins and does not dare to come on board, he has however fulfilled a part of the contract, and I doubt not will trade more largely. JM B2 7, Reel 495, 10, February 2, 1834.
Yabe repeatedly requested Mr. G to tell me that he wished to have a ship up every month as he prefer purchasing from foreign ships than run the risks with their own boats, he also said that he has made arrangements with the Mandareens for the next arrival, they will not be troublesome unless some fresh hand come on at the station. JM K1-2, Extracts from Company Records, 10, September 8, 1834.

A few years later, in the months following the arrest of Shi Hou and his compatriots, Yabe is living in fear.

Capt. Dodd observed on the 5th Instant the Mandareen junks landing their men at Mr. Yabe's village and a fire soon after took place. The reports are that Mr. Yabe, a broker who trades largely with us, left the village in time and the Mandareen burnt his house and several other people's. JM A8 123, 12, April 1837.
There has been proposals by Mr. Yabe, but he was in such a fright the other day that he told me to go away for 10 to 14 days. JM B2 7, Reel 495, 150, June 16, 1837

In some of his final appearances in the archive, Yabe has gotten into even hotter water in connection with a lineage feud and some slain government officials.

You will observe by the enclosed occurrence that our business in both bays have been much interrupted by a large fleet of Mandarins and I have been informed that their appearance here has been in consequence of Mr. Yabe's party shooting government officers when interfering in a fight with two villages. JM B2 7, Reel 495, 188, April 21, 1838.
During the last week the brokers are under a great alarm by the arrival of the Chu Kang and another officer from Foo Chow Foo. They have come to settle a query between two large towns, and also to squeeze the party that shot a Government officer last month near Mr. Yabe’s village. I believe the latter is settled on a payment of $8000, and these officers are expected in the bay in a day or two, many of the brokers have absconded, and most of the principal ones came off to me last night to remain for protection here, and the others beg me to leave for 10-12 days, but it is quite uncertain if it is the intention of their officer to interfere with the opium dealers or not. JM B2 7, Reel 495, 224, September 24, 1838.

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