chapter  3
22 Pages

The company compradors

WithAbe Kaori

This chapter explains the general functions of the company compradors in the foreign houses, suggesting possible factors that transformed the commercial compradors into indispensable and able economic middlemen. Focusing on the emergence of the different types of compradors, the chapter highlights the complexity of the comprador system in the private sector in nineteenth-century Hong Kong. The population of compradors gradually increased throughout the nineteenth century, sharply increasing from the late 1860s to the early 1870s. The company compradors were crucial internal intermediaries for foreign firms in Hong Kong throughout the nineteenth century. As they fulfilled multiple functions, commercial compradors became important members of staff in foreign firms and banks in mid-nineteenth-century Hong Kong. Compradors mainly acted as cashiers, bankers, agents, heads of Chinese staff and traders. The company compradors filled the requirement for middlemen from both the foreign and Chinese mercantile communities.