The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports

Rugby player's 100th Wedding Anniversary 


Artifact of the Month Number 14 - April 2015  (for previous artifacts see bottom of page)

Artifact 13, March2015 

By the early 20th Century, the male rugby players in Shanghai had moved away from the predominently bachelor life that their 19th Century predecessor's had lived. Shanghai had developed as a city and was a safer place to live. More unmarried women were living in the treaty port and were marrying and having families who themselves often had extended families in China if not in Shannghai itself.

The artifact of the month I have chosen is the marriage certificate and report of the wedding of a man who played rugby in Shanghai in the five years leading up to the start of the First World War. Sydney Henman arrived in Shanghai from England in 1909. I have included a more detailed biography of his life elsewhere in this site and will focus on his marriage on this page.

Previous artifacts of the month

Sydney married his fiance Dorothy Margaret Bondfield on 9 April 1915 at the Union Church on the Bund. This was the church adjacent to the Union Church Hall in which the Shanghai Rugby Club had been founded just over ten years before. The service was officiated by the Reverend Charles Ewart Darwent who took up the post of Minister at the Union Church, Shanghai in January 1899.  For the next twenty years he was a prominent and popular figure in Shanghai, before moving to Tianjin in 1919, where he died in 1924.  Darwent published his photographer-friendly guidebook 'Shanghai: a handbook for travellers and residents to the chief objects of interest in and around the foreign settlement and native city' in 1904.  

Dorothy, the daughter of a missionary, George Henry Bondfield, was born in Amoy in 1887 (present day Xiamen). Her father wrote a history of the Union Church in Hong Kong in 1904 published by the China Mail. The 1911 census shows her living in Chiswick in West London on Fairfax Road. She was listed as a teacher, an occupation confirmed in the report of the wedding below which notes that she was the Headmistress of the Shanghai High School. It would appear that she was merely visiting her family in Chiswick at the time of the 1911 census. The report below goes into some detail about the happy occasion. It notes that they returned to England. While there, Sydney signed up to serve his country. To find out what happened next see here .