Ancestors: 900 Years in The Life of A Chinese Family - Qing Dynasty

Qing Dynasty

Qin Songling (1637–1714) was a great-grandson of Qin Yao. He passed the metropolitan examinations in 1655, an extraordinary feat for an eighteen-year-old, and became the youngest-ever member of the Hanlin Academy. His career suffered a setback in 1660 when he was suspended for nonpayment of taxes. He was probably personally innocent of any wrongdoing, but the taxes were on property that a relative of his had registered under his name without his knowledge. Over time his reputation was rehabilitated, and in 1679 he was readmitted to Hanlin. In 1681 Qin Songling was appointed to the exalted position of keeper of the imperial diary, which kept him in close contact with the Kangxi Emperor. He took responsibility for overseeing the examinations for the district including Beijing in 1684, but a scandal forced him to retire that same year. He was not disgraced, however. The Kangxi Emperor would call on him several times at his home in Wuxi over the remainder of his life.

Qin Daoran (1657–1747) was the son of Qin Songling. Upon his father’s recommendation, in 1703 he became the official tutor of the Kangxi Emperor’s ninth son, Prince Yintang. Over the following years, the Qing Dynasty became embroiled in a controversy over which of the Kangxi Emperor’s sons would succeed the aging monarch, as the emperor stripped his second son Yinreng of his position as crown prince, then reinstated him, then demoted him again and refused to name a new heir apparent. With no clear successor to Kangxi, Yintang supported his older brother Prince Yinsi. The Kangxi Emperor suddenly died in 1722, and his fourth son Prince Yinzhen quickly had himself installed as the Yongzheng Emperor. He quickly moved to suppress the rival claims of his brothers, and as a supporter of Yintang and Yinsi, Qin Daoran was imprisoned and threatened with execution. Interrogated repeatedly over several years, Qin Daoran attempted to cooperate fully and testified about several years of treasonous and unseemly behavior by the princes. In the end, Qin Daoran was not executed but received an enormous fine, which he and his family was never able to pay. He was imprisoned in a cell in his hometown of Wuxi until 1737.

Qin Huitian (1703–1764) won the release of his elderly father Qin Daoran by appealing to the Qianlong Emperor. He served in the imperial bureaucracy, becoming vice-minister of rites in 1742 and vice-minister of punishments in 1752, and wrote the ‘’’Comprehensive Study of the Five Rites’’’, which was finished in 1761. In 1755 Qin Huitian was named to a highly prestigious position, that of a lecturer on classics to the emperor and his ministers. He was promoted to minister of works, then minister of punishments. In his later years Qin Huitian took on varied responsibilities, serving also as grand minister of the Board of State Music and Chancellor of Hanlin Academy, despite deteriorating eyesight which made the meticulous calligraphy required of a Chinese minister difficult. As Qin Huitian’s health declined the emperor repeatedly refused his requests to be allowed to retire; in late 1764 he was finally granted permission to return to Wuxi for convalescence, but he died en route.

Qin Zhenjun (1735–1807), grandnephew of Qin Daoran, achieved renown in October 1774 for his role in defending the city of Linqing from Wang Lun’s White Lotus rebels.

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