Sr. Hutchinson, otra vez, no dice V. nonsenses, no tonterrias: [1] A Bigoted Response to Thomas J. Hutchinson's
Two Years in Peru


By Edmundo Murray


Thomas Hutchinson decorated by the Union Masonic Lodge of Rosario for his work during the cholera outbreak, July 1867
(The Paraná, With Incidents of the Paraguayan War, 1868)

When, in October 1870, Thomas Hutchinson was appointed British Consul at Callao, the port of Lima, he was probably preparing for his retirement in Wexford after fifteen years working for the British consular service. His projects for the most peaceful time of his life included writing numerous travel and exploration accounts, and perhaps visiting continental Europe. He could not foresee at that time that one of his books, Two Years in Peru, would elicit such a negative response in the Spanish-speaking world.

Thomas Joseph Hutchinson was born on 18 January 1802 in Stonyford, County Wexford. Although little is known of his childhood or his family - undoubtedly of Anglo-Irish background -, his parents may have owned a rural property in the parish of Kilscoran, near the major source area of nineteenth-century emigration from Wexford to Argentina. [2] In his formative years, he undoubtedly received a good education, which allowed him to travel to Germany and study to practice as a medical doctor. He graduated in 1833 from the University of Göttingen as a physician and surgeon. [3]

Hutchinson first went to West Africa as the Pleiad's senior surgeon, and served in this capacity on the 1851 exploration of the river Niger. His initial views on the possibility of educating the native population were later reviewed and he held extreme opinions on the African peoples. He was acknowledged by contemporary authors as 'knowledgeable but eccentric' (Burton 1863). Back in London, Hutchinson married his wife Mary, and in 1855 was appointed British Consul for the Bight of Biafra, based at Clarence Port, Fernando Po. [4] The family adopted an African child, Fanny Hutchinson, who lived with them for the rest of their lives. Hutchinson was dismissed in 1861 on the grounds that he was too partial to the interests of the merchants of Liverpool, being replaced by Captain Richard F. Burton (1821-1890), the famous explorer, linguist and travel writer. Hutchinson's attempt at being appointed to the consulate in Tenerife failed, and he was sent instead to the Argentine city of Rosario as British Vice-Consul. In 1867, he was appointed temporarily to the Montevideo consulate, where he owned the Farmacia Británica. Between 1870 and 1872 he was British Consul in Callao, Peru.

In 1874, Thomas Hutchinson retired from the Foreign Office and went to live in Ballinesker Lodge, Curracloe, parish of St. Margaret's in County Wexford. From this base he travelled extensively on the European continent and published several books. Then the family moved to Middlesex in England, and finally to Italy. Hutchinson died on 23 March 1885 in his house at 2 Via Maragliano, Florence.

He was a prolific writer, and his books of travel and exploration include seven works covering Africa, South America and Europe, and a few published lectures about ethnographic studies in Africa and the production of cotton and meat in South America. [5] While he was in Rosario, Hutchinson also edited a short-lived newspaper, the Argentine Citizen, which appeared weekly from 10 January to 25 April 1865, and was primarily concerned with encouraging immigration from Britain and Ireland and with British investment and trade (Marshall 1996: 17). [6]

Miguel Lobo y Malagamba (1821-1876)
(Museo Naval, Madrid)

His books were published in London and Liverpool, on which Hutchinson's eyes were set. However, his accounts of Africa and South America received no applause in the consular, business and scientific communities in England. And his readers in South America were none too impressed. In Argentina, President Bartolomé Mitre observed that Hutchinson wrote 'with neither order nor scientific method. Hutchinson is a character with a passion for travelling, and for travel writing. [...] According to Captain Burton, the famous explorer of Central Africa, his [Hutchinson's] books have not been too widely accepted in England. [...] In spite of my high opinion of Hutchinson as a person, my gratefulness for his consideration, and my respect for his untiring industriousness, I must say that his books, even if they do include some helpful information, do not broach any particular idea nor do they have any durable character. Without a doubt, his best work is an English-language statistical and trade newspaper that he published here.' [7]

In Peru, where Hutchinson spent the final stage of his career in the British consular service, Two Years in Peru elicited anger and negative reviews in the local press. But his worst critic was the veteran officer of the Battle of Callao, the Spanish admiral Miguel Lobo.


Invectives and Diatribe

On 8 October 1870, Thomas Hutchinson was appointed Consul at Callao, with a salary of Ł600, plus Ł385 allowance and outfit (FO 61/261). [8] On 1 March 1871 he sailed from Liverpool on the Cordillera, arriving at Callao on 22 April with his wife and daughter. Most of his reports include accounts about crimping at Callao harbour, a problem caused, he claimed, by Peruvian, Chilean, British and Spanish captains. Hutchinson's health was then failing and he was on leave for most of 1872 (FO 61/263). Back in England, he retired from the consular service on 24 February 1874 (FO 61/286).


1 - 2 - Appendix


Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2006

Online published: 1 October 2006
Edited: 07 May 2009

Murray, Edmundo,
Sr. Hutchinson, otra vez, no dice V. nonsenses, no tonterrias: A Bigoted Response to Thomas J. Hutchinson's "Two Years in Peru" (1873)' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 4:4 (October 2006). Available online (, accessed .


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