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Sir Walter Hillier, KCMG CB (1849 – 9 November, 1927) was a senior British diplomat and sinologist and later became Professor of Chinese at King’s College London.


Early life

Walter Hillier was born in Hong Kong and educated at Bedford Grammar School and at Blundell's School in Tiverton. His father was Charles Hillier, British Consul at Bangkok, and he was the brother of Edward Hillier, one of the most respected bankers in Hong Kong.

Diplomatic career

  • 1867 – appointment to the Consular Service and service as an interpreter in China (followed by various promotions)
  • 1879 – Assistant Chinese Secretary in Peking (in 1883 accompanying Sir Harry Parkes to negotiate the treaty with Korea
  • 1885 – Chinese Secretary
  • 1891 - Consul-General in Korea

Later career

Hillier retired in October 1896 and from February to April 1901 was attached to the Legation in Peking as special political officer for Chinese affairs with the rank of acting First Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. This involved his appointment as adviser to the military authorities in China at which time he was Mentioned in despatches. A stone memorial was erected to Hillier and to a British military officer at Shan-hai-Kwan to recognise the protection afforded to Chinese during the times following the Boxer Rebellion. From 1904 – 1908 Hillier was Professor of Chinese at King’s College London. From 1908 – 1910 Hillier served as an adviser to the Chinese government, in particular advising Li Hung-chan during his time as Viceroy of Zhili.


Hillier was recognised for his knowledge of the Chinese language and teaching of the subject. His publications included:

  • Hillier, Walter Caine, 1916 The Chinese language and how to learn it : a manual for beginners / by Sir Walter Hillier K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, London
  • Hillier, Walter Caine, & Backhouse, E. & Barton, Sidney, 1945 An English-Chinese dictionary of Peking colloquial / by Sir Walter Hillier Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, London
  • Wade, T. F. & Hillier, Walter Caine, 1886 Yu-yen tzu-erh chi : a progressive course designed to assist the student of colloquial Chinese, as spoken in the capital and the metropolitan department / prepared by thomas Francis Wade and Walter Caine Hillier Inspectorate General of Customs, Shanghai


  • Death of Sir Walter Hillier, The Times, 11 November 1927 (pg. 18; Issue 44736; col E)
  • The late Sir Walter Hillier, The Times, 17 November 1927 (pg. 16; Issue 44741; col E)


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