Nathan, Matthew (Governor)

1862-01-03 — 1939-04-18





Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Matthew Nathan GCMG PC was a British soldier and colonial administrator.
He variously served as the Governor of Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, Hong Kong, Natal and Queensland.


1862-01-03, Matthew Nathan was born in Paddington, England.
He was of Jewish descent and the second son of businessman Jonah Nathan and Miriam Jacob Nathan,


1903, Nathan was appointed as Governor of Hong Kong.
During his tenure, Nathan was credited with the establishment of a central urban planning and reconstruction policy.
He regulated the growth of Hong Kong and built major thoroughfares in the Kowloon Peninsula.
The construction of Kowloon-Canton Railway started under this period.





Since the first years of Hongkong, even before the formation of HKJC, the heads of Hongkong were connected to racing.
Most of the Governors regularly donated cups, usually in their own names.


Sir Matthew Nathan, did not attach his name to the Cup, which was called thereafter “The Governor‘s Cup”.


Governor Nathan owned but only one pony.
His pony, named CHING, which, was always ridden by the HSBC Chairman Mr Mackie.
The name “CHING”, of course, was entirely impersonal and might not be political.
The shouted “Ching!” (rendered “Jing”) was frequently* heard among the railbirds at the morning training gallops at the Valley.
It governed the pressing of stop-watch buttons.


1905-02-21, the first day of the Annual Race Meeting, Governor Nathan’s colours (Red, blue sleeves and cap) was left in documentation.
The Governor arrived shortly before the bell announced the start of the first race and remained on the ground throughout the entire day.

His own stable being entered, he naturally took a keen interest in the racing.
His only pony, CHING, which, with Mr Mackie riding, was third in the Valley Stakes.
That is according to page 60 of《Pow Mah》written by Henry Ching:
“Sir Matthew Nathan, Governor in 1904-7, had in 1905 one pony, named CHING, which, with Mr Mackie riding, was third in the Valley Stakes.

But according to 《Hong Kong Daily Press》, in that Valley Stakes, CHING was ridden by Johnstone, not Mackie.
Instead, Mackie, riding SPIRTLE, was unplaced.


Nathan left Hongkong and was made Governor of Natal, province of South Africa (until 1909).
In that same year, he was raised to a higher rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


1909, he returned to England and took up an appointment as secretary to the General Post Office, a position he served until 1911.


He was Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue between 1911 and 1914.


Not Sir Matthew, a “Mr Ching” had a stable, his pony names being appropriately expressive of urgency.
“Ching” was also a nom-de-plume beloved of racing writers.


Sir Matthew was appointed Governor of Queensland and served in that position until 1925.





1939-04-18, Matthew Nathan passed away at West Coker, Somerset.
He might be the only un-married Governor of Hongkong.
He developed successfully the Central, Western and Kowloon districts, especially in the issues of traffic and transportation.
Governor Nathan also set the example that a long term racing tradition, the Governors‘ Cup was inaugurated.





Places named after him:
Nathan Road, the main commercial artery in the Kowloon Peninsula (otherwise known as the Golden Mile), was named after him.


The construction of Nathan Road, 80 feet wide heading straight to nowhere.
It was originally named Robinson Road, because there was a similar name on Hong Kong Island, the street was renamed in 1909.
And it was dubbed “Nathan’s Folly”; residents thought it was a foolish idea that would create traffic concerns and other problems when the wide boulevard was proposed.





Photo Gallery


Video Showcase



Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah; HKJC Archives; Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.





You need to log in to vote

The site requires users to be logged in before able to vote for this post.

Alternatively, if you do not have an account yet you can create one here.