Her Owners’ Profiles

Eveline’s First Owner – Fitzroy Lloyd

Charles Sidney Fitzroy Lloyd was born on 11th November 1875 in Pittenween, a poor fishing village in Fifeshire, Scotland, from where many merchant seamen originated where his father Felix Fitzroy Kelly Lloyd, coming from a well established family originating from Chester, was a Clerk in Holy Orders.  He was educated at the famous Fettes College in Edinburgh, then started out in life as a seaman and on 27th July 1899 he joined the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs as a Watcher in the Marine Department, at the lowly salary of 50 taels per month (3 taels: 1 Sterling pound around then).

The Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs was run by colourful independent expatriate management under the control of the Chinese Government with the tacit approval of the Western powers until the 1940s.  Its role was to protect foreign traders from rapacious local officials, to ensure the Chinese Government received its customs revenues and to serve as an effective trading bridge between China and the world.

By 1911 he had been promoted to Clerk, and in 1914 to Supervisor and eventually retiring in that rank in 1928 having spent some years as Inspector of Southern Lights at Army.  These were not especially senior positions but nor were they lowly and it is apparent from stories in Social Shanghai that Fitzroy was keen on sailing and clearly, whether by design of otherwise, seemingly married “well” on 1stFebruary 1902 to Miss Rose Ethel Hanisch, aged 28 (hence Eveline’s first name of “Ethel L”, although for clarity she will always be called Eveline on this website). The marriage took place at the Holy Trinity Cathedral , a grand structure that still remains there to this day followed by a reception at the bride’s mother’s house at 35 Whangpoo Road, located just at the end of the Bund and at that time a very smart address. The Bride’s late father had served with the Chinese Imperial Post Office, then a division of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs and was clearly part of a wider Hanisch family of who were Prussian nobility of German origin that had settled in Shanghai by the late 19th century.

Fitzroy appeared to have been active in the Shanghai Yacht Club for many years prior to his acquiring Eveline and to enjoy a lively social life mixing in the better circles. His salary alone would not have funded it so it is likely he was either aided by his in laws or very possibly had been lucky enough to earn prize money that Customs Officials could earn if they managed to intercept a large amount of contraband as Watchers could do! He was reported to have attended the 1907 Marine Engineers Fancy Dress Ball dressed as a Moonlighter and the 1911 Customs Club Fancy Dress Ball dressed as Sir Walter Raleigh!

It appears that Fitzroy saw himself destined to rise from Rear Commodore in the Shanghai Yacht Club to the prestigious position of Commodore and desired to link this with the delivery of a larger cruising cum racing yacht. The only records of Eveline’s arrival are held in Lloyd’s Register of Shipping or as mentioned in Shanghai’s leading news paper, North China Herald.

His racing success seemed to be limited even with his earlier day racing yacht Atlantic III. Limerick composing was a popular pastime then and one published before he became Commodore in Social Shanghai had verses on the Club’s leading sailors included a humourous but telling verse on Fitzroy and his yacht as follows:

“There was a boat called the Atlantic

Whose skipper did things that were frantic

He ran down a junk

Made her crew in a funk

By his awful sayings romantic”

This humorous verse, which was clearly based on a real incident involving Fitzroy and a junk, was picked up by the North China Herald and made into a cartoon captioned “Oh, Lloyds!”.

After serving just one year as Commodore following his election in April 2011, he stepped down from this position and indeed from the Committee although he appeared to continue to be active socially and otherwise including becoming in 1915 Shanghai’s Scoutmaster overseeing the various scout troupes in the Shanghai area and even having a Lloyd Road named after him.

One can only speculate whether Fitzroy’s stepping down was linked to the birth a daughter on February 2, 1912 or to the murder that took place on Eveline on November 17, 2011. This death and the ensuing trial was extensively and vividly reported in the North China Herald. It was reported that a laodah (or crew member) of Eveline was strangled in one of the cabins and his body dumped into the Huangpu river with pieces of iron tied on not far from where Eveline was anchored at Putong Point. Only 2 of the 4 laodah involved were found. These 2 were charged and convicted in the Court for Foreign-Chinese cases at Nantao as being “accessories after the fact”. They were sentenced to just 3-4 years in jail with hard labour due to them being under 20 years of age and after a seemingly emotional and passionate defence by their defence counsel.

Mormon source records in UK indicate he died in 1941 in UK. Contact was eventually made with Fitzroy’s granddaughter in New York who confirmed the family’s ownership of Eveline which was always described in the family as Uncle Sid’s yacht and but sadly no photos or records had survived.

Eveline’s Second Owner – J.E.R. Harris and C.F. Harris

These particular owners did not seemingly register their ownership at Lloyd’s Register of Shipping and the only reference to date of their ownership is in 17th May 1919’s The North China Herald in its report on the proceedings at the Yacht’s Club’s AGM when these 2 gentlemen were listed as the owners of the yawl Eveline with J.E.R. Harris also being on the Club’s Committee as Official Timekeeper.

Eveline’s Third Owner – Monsieur O. Bersani

According to the 1927 Edition of Who’s Who in China, O. Bersani was the Technical Sub Manager of the Compagnie de Tramways et D’Eclairage Electriques de Shanghai, seemingly the number two man to the head. The name indicates a Corsican origin and he did not seem to be featured in the Yacht Club’s activities or indeed in any English language media coverage.

Eveline’s Fourth Owner – Capt. Herbert Edgar Middleton, M.B.E.

Captain Middleton was born in Croydon on March 1, 1884 the son of Herbert George Middleton of Leytonstone, Essex who was (according to the 1891 census) editor of The Spanish Journal and Secretary to a “Public Illegible” and living at 19 Sunningbank, Croydon. He was educated privately, indicating some degree of family affluence and arrived in Shanghai in May 1907 to join the finance  department of the Shanghai Municipal Council where he was active in the famous Shanghai Volunteer Corps as a Lieutenant attached to the Maxim battery. 

During World War 1, he served in the Machine Gun Corps of the Essex Regiment being injured in the Battle of Ypres in 1917 (coincidentally in the same battle as the current owner’s father was injured!). He participated in a British military mission to Siberia in 1918-21 after which he returned to his employment in Shanghai  where he stayed being promoted gradually until he reached the senior rank of Assistant Treasurer in 1939/40 when he retired.

Middleton was active in the Shanghai Yacht Club holding the position of Secretary and Vice Commodore at various times. He clearly owned other yachts over time. He appeared never to race Eveline.

He married Georgina Beatrice Middleton who was living in Woodmancote, Sussex when she died in 1964 and it appears they had 3 children Helen, Oliver and Peter. Of Middleton himself, there has been no trace of him or where he died after his retirement. Tracing this family might enable the mystery of when, why and how Eveline came to Singapore to be unraveled!