Manuel Teixeira*

The first person to publish a study of journalism in Macau was José Gabriel Bernardo Fernandes, born in Macau in 1848. This study, in the form of an article, was entitled "O Jornalismo em Macau" (Journalism in Macau) and was first published in Coimbra. Later, it was reprinted in Goa, Macau and in the Boletim da Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa in 1888-89.

As a general rule, those few references which exist concerning journalism in this region are not entirely accurate. An example of this is the reference made by Georges Weill in Le Journal: Voltaire said that China had had newspapers since time immemorial. This statement may be interpreted as true if a purely official paper, reserved for a privileged few, is understood as a newspaper. The Residents News which appeared in the Middle Ages was reserved only for the governors of various provinces. The Peking Gazette, founded in the seventeenth century, was sold to the public but was still an official publication.

Actually, the real press started only in the nineteenth century under foreign influence. The first newspapers appeared in 18171in Macau, a Portuguese city; in 1853 in Hong Kong, a British colony; and in 1857 in Shanghai's European concession.

The printing of newspapers in the overseas colonies appeared with the constitutional regime after Dr. Francisco Soares Franco presented the first bill on freedom of the press to the Constituent Assembly in 1821. After the bill was approved, the censorship first implemented by the Marques de Pombal in 1768 was abolished and the colonies started to publish their own newspapers. In India, the Gazeta de Goa, written by India's head physician, António José de Lima Leitão, was established on December 22nd, 1821, and printed in Nova Goa's Government Press. In Macau, the Abelha da China was established on September 12th, 1822. In Angola, the Aurora, established in Luanda in 1855; in Mozambique, the Progresso was established in 1868 in Mozambique City. In Cape Verde, the Independente, written by F. Pinto Colho, was established in 1877; in S. Tomé e Príncipe, the Equador was established in around 1870; in Guinea, the Fraternidade, in 1883. The poorest province in this respect was Timor as it only founded its own 'Official Gazette' after it was separated from the Government of Macau. We can deduce from this that the overseas press started first in India and was followed closely by Macau.

The oldest newspaper in the world was published in Peking. Founded in the year 400 BC by Iou-Chaung, it was called Peiping-Pao. It used wooden type and continued production until 1939 when it was suspended during the Japanese occupation of Peking. Production of this newspaper lasted for one and a half thousand years, offering a marked contrast to Macau's short-lived newspapers which have operated on a "here today, gone tomorrow" basis.

Despite the fact that Macau's newspapers tend to have a short duration, it must be noted that there is no full collection of them. On the 11th of February 1889, Major Rafael das Dores gave the Clube de Macau a full collection of newspapers and papers published in Macau. Unfortunately, the club's Library like many other private and public libraries, was plundered by its users and the collection disappeared without a trace.

In the Macaense, dated the 23rd of November, 1919, Silva Mendes reported that: In fact, most of the newspapers published in Macau have disappeared. There is no official collection, and as far as we know there are only two private collections of some importance: one is in Shamian (Canton) and belongs to Mr. Inácio Pereira; the other is in Shanghai and is owned by Mr. Alfredo de Sousa. The Abelha da China, first published in 1821, the Gazeta de Macau, published in 1824, the Chronica de Macau, founded in 1834, the O Verdadeiro Patriota, founded in 1838, and the Gazeta de Macao, in 1839, as well as other publications, have all disappeared and cannot be found.

Pedro Angelo had a far from complete collection which was bought in 1945 by the Leal Senado Library, now the Macau National Library.


The first issue of this newspaper was published on Thursday, the 12th of September, 1822, and the last one, no.67, was published on Saturday, the 27th of December, 1823. Founded by the leader of the Constitutional Party, Lieutenant-Colonel Paulino da Silva Barbosa, and published by the Vicar of S. Domingos Monastery, Fr. António de S. Gonçalo de Amarante, this political weekly was printed in the Government Press and was a thorn in the side of the Conservative Party led by Magistrate Miguel José de Arriaga Brum da Silveira.

By order of the provisional government, the controversial issue of the 28th of August, 1823 was later burned in public at the gates of the court. By that time we know that the outspoken editor of Abelha, Fr. Gonçalo de Amarante, was no longer Superior of the S. Domingos Monastery as, in a document dated the 2nd of December, 1822, the Superior mentioned is the Dominican Fr. Luís de Santa Rosa Pereira. When the constitutional government fell on the 23rd of September, Gonçalo de Amarante and other liberals such as Domingos José Gomes and João Nepomuceno Maher took refuge in Canton. On the 16th of October, 1823, he was still in Canton hoping to return to Macau as soon as the government changed. Some time after that he left for Calcutta where he died.

After the 23rd of September, 1823, the Abelha supported the new government and was published by António José da Rocha. The first issue under the new editor was published on the 27th of September.

In his Esboço da História de Macau (Introduction to the History of Macau), published in Macau in 1957, Artur Levy Gomes states that: In 1823, the Abelha newspaper, with an overtly liberal stance and edited by a Dominican, was transformed into the Gazeta de Macau on the 27th of December thus becoming the Conservative Party's official newspaper under the management of António José da Rocha, an Augustinian monk. The provisional government ordered the last issue of the Abelha to be burned in public on this very same date as if in retaliation for the autos de fé of the Inquisition.

The events reported above should be corrected as follows. Firstly, the last issue of the newspaper called A Abelha da China was published on the 27th of December, 1823, while the first issue of Gazeta de Macau, which replaced the A Abelha da China, was published on the 3rd of January, 1824. Secondly, the issue of A Abelha which was burned in public was published on the 28th of August, 1823, not on the 27th of December, 1823, and the paper retained its name until the end of that year. Finally, even though António José da Rocha was living in the St. Augustine Convent he was neither an Augustinian monk nor a man of the cloth, but merely a layman. Both A Abelha and Gazeta were printed at the Government press which at the time was controlled by the City Council (Leal Senado). The Gazeta newspaper published its last issue towards the end of 1826. The director and manager of the Government Press was Francisco António Pereira da Silveira who resigned from the post on the 7th of September, 1825. He was replaced by Francisco António Seabra on the 13th of September, 1825.

In his book Historic Macao, Montalto de Jesus refers to these two newspapers: A major event during this period was the publication of the first Macau newspaper in 1822, the weekly Abelha da China which was founded by Barbosa and published by the Head of the Dominicans. Matching the activities of this religious order, this paper really was a bee buzzing around the Conservative Party. The offending edition of the 28th of August, 1823, was burned in public by order of the provisional government. After Arriaga was reinstated, the newspaper was suspended and replaced with the Gazeta de Macao. 2 Montalto is right. The name of the newspaper Abelha (bee) was chosen on purpose because the paper was intended to 'sting' its political opponents, even though there was another newspaper with the same name in Goa. The newspaper editor was the vicar of S. Domingos church, but shortly afterwards Friar António de S. Gonçalo was replaced as Superior of the Convent even though he remained in charge of the newspaper. As this priest was a fine preacher he was invited to preach in official ceremonies such as the Coronation Day of King João VI on the 26th of December, 1819.

Although Abelha da China was censored, the authorities still let it publish the most violent attacks on the Government's enemies. J. M. Braga summarizes the most important documents published in its pages: Notes and information sent by the Secretary of State of the Overseas Ministry regarding the instructions that must be prepared in Goa and given to the Bishop of Peking to enable him to handle relations with the Chinese concerning Macau. This document was sent by the Viceroy to the Governor of Macau, Bernardo Aleixo de Lemos Faria, in 1784. The Macau original is lost but there is a copy in Lisbon.

Investigation into Councillor Miguel de Arriaga and his affairs

This was a violent attack on the magistrate who happened to be the leader of the Conservative Party and had taken refuge in Canton. The article mocked the magistrate's business affairs and their poor results. It was written by Francisco José de Paiva and was published on the 14th of November, 1822.

Letter from the Governor of Portuguese India to the Leal Senado

These letters were written in Goa on the 11th, 20th and 24th of April, 1823, and were published on the 26th of June, 1823.

Supplement to Abelha da China, dated the 10th of July, 1823

This contains the correspondence exchanged with the Chinese authorities concerning the presence of the Portuguese frigate, Salamandra; transcriptions of documents relating to a public meeting held at the Leal Senado on the 16th of January, 1823, and extracts from the Gazeta de Goa, dated the 1st of March and the 12th of April, 1823, dealing with the political situation in Macau.

Letters between the Leal Senado and some citizens

Among the letters published are those of the Baron of S. José, from Porto Alegre, Counciller Manuel Pereira, Domingos Pio Marques, Father José Joaquim Pereira de Miranda, Rafael Botado d'Almeida, Cláudio Adriano da Costa, Ludgero Joaquim de Faria Neves and others.

Minutes of the City Council meetings and correspondence on the political situation of Macau

These were published on the 24th of July, 1823.

Letters from the Governor of Goa, dated 24th April, 1823, and some reports on Macau and Portugal

These were published on the 21st of August, 1823.

Extracts from newspapers published in Paris, London and New York on the political conditions in Portugal and other subjects

These extracts were published on the 28th of August, 1823. 3


According to Gabriel Fernandes, the first issue of this weekly paper, which replaced the Abelha da China, was published on the 3rd of January, 1824, while Rodrigo Marin Chaves, in his "Efemérides" published on page 36 of the Anuário de Macau of 1922 says that it was published on the 1st of January, 1824. It was printed at the Government press and the name of António José da Rocha, resident at the St. Augustine Convent, appeared as its editor, but the real editor was an Augustinian friar in accordance with an article dated the 4th of July, 1824, written by Father Nicolau Rodrigues Pereira de Borja:

The editor of the Gazeta de Macao is not António da Rocha as appears on the front page; the real editor is a member of the clergy who has taught Theology.

The Gazeta folded in late December, 1826, as is reflected in the following letter from the Leal Senado addressed to Francisco Ant6nio Pereira da Silveira:

Dear Sir,

The Leal Senado agreed in yesterday's session to terminate payment of expenses related to the Gazeta of this city. I hereby request you to draw up an inventory of the property of the same for the Accounting Department of the Leal Senado. Macao, the 30th of December, 1827

Respectfully yours,

Miguel Pereira Simoens

Both the Abelha da China and Gazeta de Macao were printed at the Government press which was controlled by the Leal Senado.

In a letter dated the 7th of September, 1825, the Leal Senado had accepted Francisco António Pereira da Silveira's resignation from the post of Director and Manager of the printing shop, and replaced him with Francisco António Seabra who was supposed to take over the job one week later. This printing shop was later lent to the Head of the S. José Convent, Father Nicolau Rodrigues Pereira de Borja. On the 12th of July, 1829, the Senate advised Father Borja "to return to the Leal Senado's Attorney the Printing Shop with all its equipment and types as recorded on the inventory signed by yourself when you first received the same Printing Shop".

On the 13th of July, 1829, Father Borja told the Senate that he had sent a letter to the Attorney advising him to take over the printing shop. As far as I understand from the documents I have checked, the printing shop was to have been sent to Goa as stipulated by the Government of the Capital of India. However, that stipulation was not adhered to because on the 12th of March, 1831, Father Joaquim José Leite notified the Senate that he had "asked the Leal Senado's press to print some books which amounted to some forty-five patacas, and the Leal Senado could collect that amount". The Senate replied that bearing in mind his good services "It was decided not to charge anything for the printing of the books".


This weekly paper was founded in Canton by James Matheson, but many issues were published in Macau, at the Jardine Matheson & Co. building on Rua do Hospital. The Chinese still call this street Pak Ma Hong, or the "white horse company" because the building featured a white horse on the facade as part of the company's coat of arms.

The first issue of this commercial periodical was published on the 8th of November, 1827, in Canton, and the last issue was printed on the 30th of March, 1844, in Hong Kong. Initially, its editor was W. W. Wood and later John Slade. According to J. M. Braga: The newspaper was founded in Canton, but at the end of every trading period when the merchants had to leave Canton, it was published in Macau. Thus it was published in Canton for six months and in Macau for the other half of the year. However, whenever there were problems with the Canton mandarins, the newspaper remained in Macau. Its editor was W. W. Wood, an American from Philadelphia, son of that city's tragic writer. He arrived in 1825 and was as good as Chinnery in terms of talent. As to ugliness, both argued that the one was uglier than the other.

As well as being the editor, he was also a typesetter. The newspaper covered business and social affairs, but at the same time it published articles on contemporary events, essays on China and the Chinese, and sometimes on Macau and the Portuguese.

Robert Morrison was invited to write for the newspaper in exchange for which he would be paid seventy five pounds a year: A remuneration that I could donate to any charitable institution. Today, I wrote three sheets of paper for The Canton Register. Mr. Wood and Mr.... do not speak Chinese nor do they seem capable of collecting information from local people. I have nothing else to do with the newspaper. I send my contribution because it must be given support. 4 In addition to a full record of goods traded in Canton, it features a wide range of articles on habits and customs of the Chinese and other Oriental countries. Almost every page is full of original articles and that is what has built its reputation abroad as it has helped people to learn more about the Chinese.

J. M. Braga comments that this newspaper was printed in Macau at a company called Magniac & Co., which became Jardine, Matheson & Co. at 1, Rua do Hospital, after 1832. It was an attractive mansion which was demolished in 1944 in view of its derelict state.

In 1831, Wood resigned from the Register to join Russell & Co., Printers. As he continued to be very fond of newspapers, however, he founded the Chinese Courier and Canton Gazette, published every Saturday. The first issue came off the press on the 28th of July, 1833. John Slade succeeded as editor of The Canton Register, a post he held until 1843.

The Canton Register featured a commercial supplement called the Canton General Price Current which was first published in 1833 but its publication was not regular.

J. M. Braga goes on to say that: The Canton Register kept this name until it moved from Macau to Hong Kong when the title was changed to The Hong Kong Late Canton Register; it was first published on the 20th of June, 1843, and its publisher and editor was John Cairns. The last issue was published on the 31st of December, 1859, with Robert Strachan as editor. The supplement was called Hong Kong Register: The Overland Register and Price Current. Its first issue was published on the 30th of August, 1845. 5


This was a monthly literary newspaper published in Macau by the British East India Company at the printing house of the same Company. Its first issue was published in June 1831 and the last in May 1832. Its editors were John F. Davis and C. Marjoriebanks respectively.

Anders Ljungstedt published some articles on Macau in this newspaper such as a "Brief Notice of Early Foreign Intercourse with China" and "Of the Portuguese Settlements in China, principally of Macao". These unsigned articles were later published as a book in 1832 in Macau, with the name of its author and the following title Contribution to an Historical Sketch of the Portuguese Settlements in China, principally of Macao, of the Portuguese Envoys and Ambassadors to China, of the Roman Catholic Church and Missions in China and of the Papal Legates to China. by A. L. Kt. Macao, 1832. These articles, revised and augmented, appeared also in The Chinese Repository with the publication of a supplement in Canton in 1834 and an edition in Boston, in 1836, entitled An Historical Sketch of the Portuguese Settlements in China, and of the Roman Catholic Church and Missions in China by Sir Anders Ljungstedt, Knight of the Swedish Royal Order of Wasa, Boston, printed by James Munroe & Co.1836.

C. R. Boxer, on page 286 of his book Fidalgos in the Far East, states that for a long time this book was the only serious history of Macau and even today it attracts a lot of interest despite its obvious defects. These defects are in part compensated by the fact that Ljungstedt used the municipal archives which have since disappeared while his more obvious mistakes were later corrected by Montalto de Jesus in Historic Macao (Hong Kong, 1902; Macau, 1926). Ljungstedt's book was translated into Portuguese and published by the newspaper Echo Macaense between 1893 and 1896. However, no supplement including all these articles was ever published and it can thus be said that there is no Portuguese translation published as a book.


J. M. Braga reports that On Tuesday, the 28th of July, 1831, this newspaper was founded by W. W. Wood of the American company Russell & Co.. The community welcomed the newly published newspaper as it featured some lively comments about people and events. The Courier followed a different path from that of The Canton Register. Its pages featured articles on the European people's affairs, local news, information on mechanics, factories and other Chinese affairs.

On the 14th of April, 1832, its name changed to The Chinese Courier but the newspaper's guidelines remained unchanged. Its last issue was published on the 23rd of Sep tember, 1833. The Canton Courier was shortlived, because as it used to criticize some of the policies of the East India Company, this Company decided to suspend the subscription of twenty-four copies thus making The Courier unfeasible.


This was a monthly literary and historical magazine which was edited first by Mr. Elijah Coleman Bridgman and later Dr. Samuel Wells Williams. The first issue appeared on the 31st of May, 1832, and the last in August 1852. From 1842 until November 1844 volumes XI and XII of this interesting record were printed in Macau, but by December it was being printed in Hong Kong. "This twenty volume collection is probably the best work ever written about Chinese history, literature and costumes", stated A. F. Marques Pereira in his 1868 work "Ephemerides comemorativas da historia de Macau e das relações da China com os povos christãos".

J. M. Braga adds that The Chinese Repository's founder and first editor was Rev. Elijah Coleman Bridgman, the first American missionary to China, who counted on help and financial support from D. W. C. Olyphant, an American businessman, who supplied the premises and bought the printing equipment in Canton insuring the publication against any loss.

J. M. Braga quotes K. S. Latourette's A History of Christian Missions in China (New York, 1932): This renowned newspaper's goal was to supply foreigners with information about the missions but also to inform them of the laws, habits, history, literature and events in the Chinese Empire. It gave a useful interpretation of China to those Westerners who, despite living in the country, were quite ignorant about it...

Dr. Samuel Wells Williams joined the newspaper in 1833 and was its editor until its last issue in 1851 (the year in which Olyphant passed away), while Bridgman helped him in running the newspaper until 1847. Among the writers were some Orientalists like Robert Morrison, Sir G. Stanton, J. F. Davis, James Leg When conditions were favourable, The Repository 's typesetting equipment used to go to Canton and it was there that the newspaper came to an end. The Repository's stock was quite large but disappeared during the fire of the Foreign Camp (on the 14th of December, 1856). The last issue comprised a full index of its twenty volumes.

The reprinting of The Chinese Repository was carried out by Tokyo's Maruzen Co. Ltd. together with a Japanese translation. Unfortunately the collection was destroyed when the publicity premises were bombed during the last World War. Only volumes 1 through 15 of this reprinted edition were spared. 6

(Extract from the initial part of the chapter "Jornalismo em Macau", in A Imprensa Periódica Portuguesa no Extremo Oriente, by Father Manuel Teixeira, supplement to "Notícias de Macau", Macau, 1965).


1 It should be noted that in Macau it started in 1822 rather than 1817.

2 Montalto de Jesus: Historic Macao, Macau, 1926, p. 279.

3 J. M. Braga:" The Beginning of Printing at Macao", supplement to Studia Nº.12, July 1963, Lisbon, pp.77-79.

4 J. M. Braga, ob cit, pp. 80-81.

5 Idem, pp. 88-90.

6 Idem, pp.100-101.

* Father Manuel Teixeira has published over one hundred books about the Portuguese presence and the Church in the Far East. He is a Member of the Portuguese Academy of History and numerous international associations.

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