The Gillespie Family and Marie Seise –
the first female Chinese Immigrant
The Gillespies are thought to have brought the first Chinese immigrants to America.
Mr. Charles Van Megen Gillespie was the first American to reside in the British Hong Kong. He owned a warehouse there built in 1842, where he traded wine, liquor, chandlery supplies, piece goods, building materials.
In Hong Kong his wife, Sarah Bentner Gillespie, hired a personal maid, who became known as Marie Seise (no one seems to know her Chinese name – she was once married to a Portuguese sailor named Seise), with whom she became very close. When the Gillespie’s returned to the US on the Eagle on February 2, 1848, they brought Marie and 2 other male servants with them. These are thought to be the first Chinese immigrants.