Kingsmill shows an awareness of the Leonid
Storms of 1833 and 1866, but gives no indication that he knows of the Andromedid/Bielid
outbursts. By stating that he has not seen any account of this event
he describes I am again led to wonder why he would not know of the incredible
Andromedid displays of his century given that he does seem to have access
to certain popular astronomical "news." But it could be that
he is ignoring tthe Andromedids and focusing on the Leonids because he
knows his calendar is more consistent with the Leonid, not Andromedid,
events. Further, given that he is addressing a Western and mostly
Gregorian-oriented audience in his article, he would have been remiss not
to have noted any calendar differences had they applied.
He feels his information may throw light on the "conditions of the orbit." Once more he *seems* to be focusing on one meteor stream -- the Leonids, as his last sentence in the article would suggest. Again, he could simply be unaware of the Andromedids. He is aware of the time-lapse between his observation and the ultimate report. But the concern here is is not about his memory ( i.e. dates) but the fact that science had to wait so long to hear from him.
The time of the event, and the direction of his observation, do not appear to shed much light. The moon was waning gibbous, two days past full and quite close (10-12 degrees) to zenith in Shanghai for 3:00AM Nov.15. These are poor conditions for meteor events, but Kingsmill makes no mention of this bright lunar illumination. As mentioned by John Greaves, the nearly new moon on the 27th would have been no impediment for observations. It would have made little difference what direction Kingsmill's window faced if a truly spectacular event was in progress. We are given the time and duration which is fortuitous. It is also noteworthy that he mentions nothing of the sky conditions, but given the context the sky apparently was at least somewhat clear during the storm (see below).
Kingsmill goes on to state, "The meteors were flying in every direction from the radiant point..." On the 15th the Leonid radiant was closer (roughly 45 degrees) to the zenith than the Andromedid radiant. 1hr 24 +44 the Andromedid radiant was only about 20-23 degrees (as near as I can tell with my planetarium software) off the horizon in Shanghai, so such a description would be more apt, conjecturally, for the Leonids rather than the Andromedids. Kingsmill would have needed an unobstructed horizon for his above description to have been more adequate for the Andromedids. Were unobstructed horizons possible in such a large, highly populated city? The fact that he mentions "every direction from the radiant" might imply he had a clear sky. Interesting also is his use of the word "radiant," a clear indication he was not entirely ignorant of matters meteoritic.
"I expected to hear from other quarters an account of the phenomenon, and was much suprised to find it apparently had not been noticed elsewhere." Important here, I feel, is what Kingsmill means by "other quarters." Does he mean locally (China, Asia) or worldwide? If he is in touch with reports from Europe and the Americas for that date, the implication is that he is aware that there were no reports of a meteor storm for that date in 1886. He may indeed have been up on current events. This is most likely, because he loses contact with "current events" after his subsequent trip to "the interior." Thus it may be possible to assume that Kingmill knew his event was unique -- important when we consider whether or not Kingsmill is just confusing his dates and has really just witnessed the Andromedid spectacle of 1885 --*not* 1886.
His trip to the "interior" seems to have been rather soon after the event as he states he did not have time to report it. Thus he may have missed out on news from Europe regarding the Andromedid storm of 1885 and *did* get his date wrong by the time
he informed _Nature_of his observation. Fifteen years is a long time, and one years difference is not much over that span. He ends by referring to the Leonid storms of 1833 and 1866, but again, no knowledge of the Andromedids is given. This is surprising given that the 1872 event was witnessed throughout Western Europe.
One question that arises is whether or not China would have been well placed for the peak of the Andromedids in 1886, one year after the Western European storm. Another, already touched upon, is how "current" Mr. Kingsmill was with respect to events across the globe. Why is he silent about 1872 but not 1866 and 1833? What is his nationality (this would have a bearing on what he knew about the 1872 event, perhaps). How good was his memory after fifteen years -- Nov 15th really only seem to fit if he *was* using the Julian calendar and witnessed an Andromedid event. Where are all the Chinese reports of this event -- after all, the Chinese are perhaps our most historically reliable source of information about astronomical events?
Everyone loves a detective story!