Robert Minturn Clarges Ruxton 1876-1946, son of a Admiral William FitzHerbert Ruxton, joined the Essex Regiment in 1897, and began his association with China in 1900 when he was seconded to the First Chinese, or Weihaiwei, Regiment. This was the only unit of Chinese solders the British army ever raised, and was based in the Leased Territory of Weihaiwei in Shandong. It saw action in the 1900 Boxer War, and some of its men marched in the Coronation parade in London in 1902, but was disbanded in 1906. Ruxton then seems to have been in South Africa, but he returned to China working for the Chinese government’s Salt Inspectorate, between 1914-27, and again as a financial advisor to the National Government on Prevention Affairs from 1931 until at least 1937. During the First World War, like many Britons working in China who had experience of working in Shandong, he served in the Chinese Labour Corps on the Western Front.
The photographs in the collection are an eclectic mix of photographs that he seems to have taken himself, especially those showing people and scenes in Weihaiwei, and the men of the Weihaiwei Regiment, and others taken, collected or purchased elsewhere. Ruxton served in Peking and Shanghai in his later posts, and also made inspection trips into the Chinese countryside. His step-daughter married a British consular official, who later joined the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, and who was himself the son of Bishop Cassels, one of the China Inland Mission’s ‘Cambridge Seven’. There are photographs a’plenty of the life and leisure of expatriates, but the records of Weihaiwei and rural China show that Ruxton had an inquisitive and open mind about the land and its peoples.