Thomas Sutherland (banker)

Sir Thomas Sutherland

"P and O". Caricature by Ape published in Vanity Fair in 1887.
Chinese 蘇石蘭

Sir Thomas Sutherland, GCMG (Chinese: 蘇石蘭, 1834 – 1 January 1922) was a Scottish banker and politician, initially elected to represent the Liberal Party and then as a Liberal Unionist. He founded The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation which was the founder member of HSBC Group and directed the P&O Company.


Sutherland was the son of Robert Sutherland of Aberdeen. Educated at Aberdeen University, he got his start clerking in the London office of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). Soon after, P&O promoted Sutherland to superintendent, assigning him to Hong Kong to manage the firm's Asian operation.[1] In 1863 he became the first chairman of the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock. In order to help finance the burgeoning trade between China and Europe, and explore the potential for China--United States trade, Sutherland established The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1865[2] and became its first vice-chairman. He was appointed member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1865 to 1866. In 1872 he was appointed Managing Director of P & O.[3]

In November 1884, Sutherland was elected at a by-election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Greenock.[4] A Liberal, he was re-elected in 1885, but when the Liberals split over Irish Home Rule he joined the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party. He was re-elected as a Liberal Unionist in 1886, but lost the seat at the 1892 general election. However, he was reinstated when his opponent was unseated on petition,[5] and held the seat until he stood down at the 1900 general election.[5]

Sutherland died in London in 1922. Sutherland Street in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong was named after him.


Sutherland in 1880 married Alice Macnaught, (died 1920), daughter of Rev. John Macnaught of Holy Trinity Church, Conduit Street, London. They had two sons, and a daughter, Helen Sutherland (1881–1965), known as an art patron; one of the sons, Eric Macnaught Sutherland, died in the Second Boer War, the other during World War I.[6][7]


  1. Winn, Christopher (2012). I Never Knew That About the Scottish. Random House. ISBN 1407028936.
  2. Finel-Honigman, Irene (2009). A Cultural History of Finance. Routledge. p. 116. ISBN 1135238510.
  3. Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  4. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 548. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  5. 1 2 Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 510. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  6. Harcourt, Freda. "Sutherland, Sir Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36373. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. Bill Peschel; R.C. Lehmann; P.G. Wodehouse; C.L. Graves, E.V. Lucas, Bernard Partridge, E.T. Reed, Arthur Conan Doyle, F.D. Grierson, Ralph Wotherspoon, N.R. Martin (19 November 2014). The Early Punch Parodies of Sherlock Holmes. Peschel Press. p. 282. GGKEY:F7G5E4WJ95H. Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Stewart
Member of Parliament for Greenock
Succeeded by
John Bruce
(unseated on petition)
Preceded by
John Bruce
Member of Parliament for Greenock
Succeeded by
James Reid
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Charles Wilson Murray
Unofficial Member
Served alongside: Francis Chomley, James Whittall
Succeeded by
Hugh Bold Gibb

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