Bremer, Commander-in-chief, and Elliot, Plenipotentiary, &c. &c., by this Proclamation make known to the inhabitants of the Island of Hongkong, that that Island has now become part of the Dominions of the Queen of England by clear public agreement between the high officers of the Celestial and British Courts; and all native persons residing therein must understand, that they are now subjects of the Queen of England, to whom and to whose officers they must pay duty and obedience.
The Inhabitants are hereby promised protection, in Her Majesty's gracious name, against all enemies whatever; and they are further secured in the free exercise of their religious rites, ceremonies, and social customs; and in the enjoyment of their lawful private property and interests. They will be governed, pending Her Majesty's further pleasure, according to the laws, customs, and usages of the Chinese (every description of torture excepted), by the Elders of Villages, subject to the control of a British Magistrate; and any person having complaint to prefer of ill-usage or injustice against any Englishman or Foreigner, will quietly make report to the nearest officer, to the end that full justice may be done.
Chinese ships and merchants resorting to the Port of Hongkong for purpose of Trade are hereby exempted, in the name of the Queen of England, from charge or duty of any kind to the British Government. The Pleasure of the Government will be declared from time to time by further proclamation; and all heads of Villages are held responsible that the commands are duly respected and observed.
Given under Seal of office, this 1st day of Feb. 1841.