James Hardie-Douglas

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James Douglas (7 September 1878 – 4 December 1956) was a diplomat and Polish independence activist.

Born on 7 September 1878 in the Russian Empire, within area of modern Ukraine, he was Polish of Scottish descent. His ancestor moved from Scotland to Ukraine in the 19th century to open there a sugar mill.(See sugar refiners list )

Douglas graduated from a gymnasium (middle school) in Kyiv. He was an activist for Polish independence, and a member of the Polish Socialist Party. In 1904 he was a foreign correspondent of Lviv-based newspaper Słowo Polskie, based in Japan. There, together with Józef Piłsudski and Tytus Filipowicz, he was also a part of a diplomatic mission on by the Polish Socialist Party.

During the First World War, from 1914 to 1918, he served in the 1st Artillery Regiment of the Polish Legions of Austria-Hungary. During the interwar period he worked in the diplomatic service of Poland, including being a consul in Harbin, China from 1931 to 1933.

He died on 4 December 1956.

His son, Jakub Douglas (1920–1998) fought in the Warsaw Uprising during the Second World War, and his grandson, Jerzy Hardie-Douglas (born 1951) is a politician, who was a member of the Sejm of Poland from 2019 to 2023.

Research notes:

James Hardie-Douglas was the Polish ambassador in China in 1910.

Hardie-Douglas family derive from Scottish settlers who came to polish Gdansk in XVIIth century.

James Hardie-Douglas, the Polish Ambassador in China(1) in 1910, had a brother, Edward, a sister Sophia and two further siblings.

It appears the Zophia (Sophia) married Mr Januszewska. This is probably Jeszy Januszewska (or Januszewski) who was co-author of testimony 301-6045; during the occupation a member of the Resistance Movement, collaborated with the Jewish Military Union (ZZW), in charge of the 'Passport Section', where Waclaw Kosek was active, which was confirmed by Janusewski in his testimony; at the moment of writing a member of the Society of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy (Zwiazek Bojownikow o Wolnosc i Demokracje, ZBoWiD), lived at Grochowska Street No. 240, flat 99 in Warsaw.  I have found no children from this marriage.

James married Anastazja Kochalewicz and they had 3 children, Joanna, Irena and Jakub who all married and had children.

James's grandson, Jerzy Hardie-Douglas is Mayor of Szczecinka.

Additional information:

James Douglas, McPherson(?) (born September 7, 1878 in Ukraine , died December 4, 1956) - Polish consular official and socialist activist.

A Pole of Scottish origin, whose ancestor was brought in in the mid-nineteenth century to start a sugar factory in Ukraine. He attended the 5th Junior High School in Kiev. In 1904 he stayed in Japan, performing the duties of a correspondent for the Lviv newspaper "Word Polskie" and carrying out, together with Józef Piłsudski and Tytus Filipowicz, the tasks of the PPS (Polish Socialist Party). He made the war campaign of World War I in the 1st Artillery Regiment of the Polish Legions (1914–1918).

In the interwar period, he worked in the Polish foreign service, incl. as the consul of the Republic of Poland in Harbin (1931–1933).

Orders and decorations
Independence Cross (August 2, 1931)
Cross of Valor (twice)
Golden Cross of Merit (June 28, 1939)

1.  As far as I can tell, there was no Polish embassy in China in 1910. Probably the Consul in Harbin, China 1931-1933 - or is this his son?
2. The city of Harbin in north-eastern China was co-founded around 120 years ago by Polish engineers who built the Chinese Eastern Railway. However, traces of this several thousand strong community have been disappearing quickly in recent years, which is why scientists want to document them.

Polish workers came to Manchuria at the turn of the 20th century. Tsarist Russia was buildig the Chinese Eastern Railway, which is a branch of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Alongside the Chinese and Russians, there were many engineers, technicians and workers from Poland. They were refugees, specialists, as well as people looking for a better place to live, including the intelligentsia.

The Polish community concentrated in the city of Harbin - the area for development was selected and plans for the city drawn by Eng. Adam Szydlowski - it was in his opinion the perfect place to reload goods due to the favourable location near the Sungari River. Earlier there was a village with the same name. According to one of the translations, Harbin in Manchurian means "a place of drying nets", which indicates that it was a fishing village. Currently, the city is one of the largest urban centres of Manchuria, a region in north-eastern China.

I can find no evidence that there was a Polish embassy in China in 1910, but a building of the Association "Gospoda Polska" at Glucha Street in Harbin was built with the contributions of the Polish community as a company with shares in the years 1912-1914. It housed a theatre stage, a primary school, clubs and associations, and in the years 1920-1936 it housed the consulate of the Second Republic of Poland on the top floor. A picture from 1932 shows members of the Polish Youth Association.




Sources for this article include:

•  Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland.

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