Andrew Caldecott

Sir Andrew Caldecott GCMG CBE KStJ FRAS FRSA (26 October 1884 – 14 July 1951) was a British colonial administrator.

Andrew Caldecott
28th Governor of Ceylon
In office
16 October 1937  19 September 1944
MonarchGeorge VI
Preceded byReginald Stubbs
Succeeded byHenry Moore
19th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
12 December 1935  16 April 1937
MonarchsGeorge V
Edward VIII
George VI
Colonial SecretaryThomas Southorn
Norman Lockhart Smith
Preceded byWilliam Peel
Succeeded byGeoffry Northcote
Acting Governor of the Straits Settlements
In office
17 February 1934  9 November 1934
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded byCecil Clementi
Succeeded byShenton Thomas
17th Colonial Secretary of the Straits Settlements
In office
23 May 1933[1]  7 December 1935[2]
MonarchGeorge V
GovernorCecil Clementi
Shenton Thomas
Preceded byJohn Scott
Succeeded byAlexander Sym Small
Personal details
Born26 October 1884
Boxley, Kent, United Kingdom
Died14 July 1951(1951-07-14) (aged 66)
Itchenor, Sussex, United Kingdom
Olive Mary Innes
(m. 1918; died 1943)

Evelyn May Palmer
(m. 19461951)
  • John Andrew
  • Joan
  • Rev Andrew Caldecott (father)
  • Isobel Mary Johnson (mother)
Alma materExeter College, Oxford
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese郝德傑
Simplified Chinese郝德杰

Early years

Andrew Caldecott was born on 26 October 1884 in Boxley, Kent, United Kingdom. He was the eldest child of Rev Andrew Caldecott and Isobel Mary Johnson.[3] His mother was the daughter of Rev Stenning Johnson.[3] Lieutenant John Leslie Caldecott (1886 – 9 September 1914), Andrew's younger brother, served in the Royal Garrison Artillery and later served as the aide-de-camp to the Governor of Nyasaland. John participated in World War I and died on 9 September 1914 in Nyasaland (now Malawi) at the age of 28, with his remains buried at the Karonga War Cemetery.[4]


Andrew Caldecott studied at Uppingham School in Rutland and was awarded scholarships, enabling him to be admitted to Exeter College of the University of Oxford.[3] He achieved outstanding academic results while in college and had been awarded scholarships. He gained a third class in Classical Honour Moderations and subsequently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics (second-class honours) in 1907. In 1948, he was conferred as an Honorary Fellow by Exeter College.[3][5]


Malayan career

Upon his graduation from college in 1907, Caldecott joined the Colonial Office in November of the same year and was posted to Malaya. He initially worked in Negeri Sembilan as a Cadet of the Federated Malay States (FMS).[6] He served as Acting District Officer (DO) of Jelebu from 1909 to 1911. In 1911, he was appointed as Acting DO of Kuala Pilah, and was transferred back to Jelebu to serve as DO in the same year. He was re-appointed Acting DO of Kuala Pilah in the following year.[7] In 1913, Caldecott was transferred to the Federal Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur and assumed the office of Deputy Controller of Labour.[6] He subsequently held various positions, including Assistant Secretary (AS) to the Chief Secretary (1914 – 1916), 2nd AS to the Federal Secretary (1916 – 1920) and Acting AS to the colonial government (1920 – 1922).[7] Caldecott went on leave from September 1922; he took up the ad hoc appointment as Malayan Commissioner at the British Empire Exhibition[5] held at Wembley Park in the United Kingdom in 1924 and 1925. During the exhibition, he was in charge of the coordination of the Malaya Pavilion. Thereafter, he was conferred CBE by the British government.[6][8]

After the exhibition, Caldecott returned to Malaya in March 1926 and worked as Town Planning Administrator and State Valuer of Ipoh; he was transferred to the Housing and Public Works Department Enquiry Committees as chairman in December 1926.[8]

He was appointed Deputy Controller of Labour and Acting Under-Secretary to the Straits Settlements in July 1927, until 1928, when he was promoted to Secretary for Postal Affairs of the Straits Settlements and FMS as Officer, Class 1A.[9] Since then, Caldecott had been assigned to serve in local authorities; he became Acting Resident of Negeri Sembilan in 1929 and Acting Resident of Perak from 1930 to 1931. He was appointed to serve as Resident of Selangor,[6] until March 1932, when he was transferred back to the central government of FMS as Chief Secretary. He served as Colonial Secretary of the Straits Settlements from May 1933 to February 1934.[1][8]

On 17 February 1934,[10] Caldecott worked as Acting Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner of FMS, when Sir Cecil Clementi, the then-Governor of the Straits Settlements retired due to illness. During his tenure as Acting Governor, Caldecott upheld Clementi's policy of decentralisation.[11] He was re-appointed Colonial Secretary when Sir Shenton Thomas took office on 9 November 1934.[8]

During his time in Malaya, Caldecott earned a reputation for his ability to settle disputes between different ethnic groups which made him popular with all races, a rare feat for a colonial administrator given the diversity of the Straits Settlements population.[12] He also served as the first president of the Football Association of Malaysia.

Governor of Hong Kong

In 1935, Caldecott was appointed governor of Hong Kong.[13][14] His tenure was the shortest in Hong Kong colonial history, for he was appointed the second last Governor of Ceylon a little more than a year later to handle the threat to the British administration caused by the overwhelming national liberation movement in Ceylon. When arriving in Hong Kong to assume the Governorship, Caldecott, unusually, elected to wear civilian dress, something that would not happen again until the arrival, in 1992, of the last colonial Governor, Chris Patten. His departure to Ceylon was met with dismay by the community as he had become a respected figure. Locals had petitioned to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for him to remain but to no avail.[15]

It was during Caldecott's tenure that Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport received its first regular arrival, the "Dorado" and the Queen Mary Hospital opened as an adjunct hospital to the Hong Kong University (the hospital is now under the control of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority). Caldecott called the promotion of Chinese civil servants to replace the European ones, a policy not realized until the signage of Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984.[16] His tenure also saw the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, with more than 100,000 refugees from the Chinese Mainland flooding into Hong Kong to escape the conflict.

Governor of Ceylon

He was sent to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to examine the situation in the island closely and report on issues such as the governing structure, the representation of the minority communities, the franchise etc. His observations regarding these issues had an important impact on the evolution of the Ceylon constitution.

Caldecott was governor during World War II. During his governance, in 1938, the first diesel locomotive ran to Galle, in 1939, the Bank of Ceylon opened, and, in 1942, the University of Ceylon was established.

Personal life

Caldecott married Olive Mary Innes, daughter of J. R. Innes, CMG in 1918.[5] He knew his wife while she served as a civil servant in Malaya. She died of illness in Ceylon in 1943.[17] Following her death, Caldecott married Evelyn May Palmer (1877-1974), widow of Dr John Robertson and daughter of the Rev. Henry Palmer and Clara Jane Marten, in 1946.[5] Olive bore him a son and a daughter,[5] namely John Andrew Caldecott, CBE (25 February 1924 – 14 July 1990)[18] and Joan Caldecott.[17] His son was Chairman of M&G Group.[18]

Caldecott had a wide range of hobbies. He had published many articles with regards to the affairs of Malaya, and had written books about Malayan history in his early years. In his late years, he published two collections of supernatural fiction, "Not Exactly Ghosts" (1947) and "Fires Burn Blue" (1948).[11] Besides writing, his other hobbies include drawing, playing the piano, tennis and golf.[11]

Caldecott composed the melody to the Negeri Sembilan anthem, Berkatlah Yang DiPertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan.


Awards and honours

Places named after Andrew Caldecott

In Hong Kong, Caldecott Road, a road in New Kowloon, is named after him.

In Singapore, Caldecott Hill, Caldecott Close, Caldecott MRT station and Andrew Road are named after him, and Olive Road is named after his first wife.

Caldecott MRT station in Singapore, named after Andrew Caldecott

See also


  1. "Colonial Secretary". Malaya Tribune. 24 May 1933. p. 11.
  2. "Mr. A. S. Small". Sunday Tribune (Singapore). 8 December 1935. p. 1.
  3. John O'Regan, "Caldecott, Sir Andrew (1884-1951)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 5th edition, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  4. "Malawi", South Africa War Graves Project, retrieved 12 May 2009.
  5. "CALDECOTT, Sir Andrew", Who Was Who, London: A & C Black, 1996.
  6. Association of British Malaya, British Malaya, Newton & Company, 1936.
  7. The Colonial Office List, London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1923.
  8. The Colonial Office List, London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1948.
  9. "F M.S. Appointments". The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser. 28 June 1928. p. 14.
  10. "Mr. A. Caldecott". Sunday Tribune (Singapore). 18 February 1934. p. 9.
  11. "Sir Andrew Caldecott – Distinguished Services Rendered in Straits and F.M.S. – 28 Years Endeared Him to All Classes", The China Mail, 12 December 1935, p. 6.
  12. O'Regan, James (1994). From Empire to Commonwealth: Reflections on a Career in Britain's Overseas Service. Radcliffe Press. p. 38. ISBN 1-85043-777-7. Andrew Caldecott came out the Malay States in 1907 and rapidly established a reputation for energetic ability. [...] He was deservedly very popular with all races and a keen sense of humour made him a most delightful companion at any time.
  13. "Sir Andrew Caldecott Leaves on Dec. 7". The Straits Times. 18 November 1935. p. 12.
  14. "No. 34223". The London Gazette. 26 November 1935. p. 7509.
  15. "Totidem Verbis: Andrew Caldecott". The Straits Times. 24 January 1937. p. 14).
  16. Goodstadt, Leo F. (2004). "The Rise and Fall of Social, Economic and Political Reforms in Hong Kong, 1930—1955". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. 44: 64.
  17. John O'Regan, From Empire to Commonwealth: Reflections on a Career in Britain's Overseas Service, The Radcliffe Press, 1994.
  18. "CALDECOTT, (John) Andrew", Who Was Who, London: A & C Black, 1996.
  19. "No. 33125". The London Gazette. 19 January 1926. p. 453.
  20. "No. 33831". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1932. p. 3571.
  21. "No. 15136". The Edinburgh Gazette. 4 January 1935. pp. 9–11.
  22. "No. 34297". The London Gazette. 23 June 1936. p. 4013.
  23. "No. 34365". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 January 1937. p. 692.
  24. "No. 35184". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1941. p. 3284.
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