Zeng Jize 1839-1890

A native of Xiangxiang in Hunan province, he was the eldest son of the leading reformist minister Zeng Guofan and inherited his father's title of Marquis in 1877. Apart from a traditional education, Zeng managed to gain an understanding of Western science and was one of a very few officials who had learned English. Considered a leading light in diplomacy by his own as well as subsequent generations, he was appointed minister to Britain and France in 1878, and served a total of seven years (1879-1885). Before his return to China in late 1886, Zeng was assigned to a post overseeing the newly established Board of Admiralty. When he arrived in Beijing he was given responsibility for the Zongli Yamen, and in 1889 for the Tongwen Guan. He died the next year as an official of the second rank, aged fifty-one.