John Frederick Adolphus McNair
McNair was educated at King's College London and at the School of Mines. He was a multi-talented civil servant in the service of the Straits Settlements. He was an engineer, superintendent of convicts, manager of public works and a member of the commission for the pacification of Larut following the signing of a peace treaty, in 1874.
McNair's childhood was filled with the study of geology. Over time he amassed a large collection of metals. He later had this transported to Madras where he was to begin his first job.
In 1846, at the age of 17, McNair left England to take up employment with the British East India Company, (E. I. C.) at Madras, India. McNair studied and was fluent in Hindustani, a skill that would stand him in good stead.
From Madras, McNair was transferred to Malacca (part of Straits Settlements in 1853 to be responsible for the Madras Native Artillery reporting to J. B. Westerhout, then the advisor to the government of the Straits Settlements.
He was then posted to Singapore, where he took up an appointment as private secretary and aide-de-camp to the Governor of Straits Settlements. In 1857, McNair was appointed Executive Engineer and Superintendent of Convicts in the Straits Settlements (Penang, Malacca and Singapore) and he was also in responsible for Public Works and the Oriental Gaol in Singapore.
His strong command of the Hindustani language meant he could easily converse with Indian convicts which was particularly useful since he had only one assistant, a European warden, the petty officers being selected among the convicts themselves.
In 1867, he accompanied Sir Harry Ord the new governor of Straits Settlements back to Singapore, when control of the Straits Settlements was transferred from the India Office to the Colonial Office in London. He was appointed Colonial Engineer and through his efforts, the building of the water works which had been plagued with failures, was successfully completed.
In 1875, he was appointed Chief Commissioner for the Pacification of Larut in Perak. One of his fellow commissioners was Capitan Cina Chung Keng Quee. In 1882, he was appointed Acting Resident Councillor to the Governor of Penang. He resigned his position in 1884 on medical grounds after a distinguished career in the Straits Settlements spanning many different positions (he had acted as Colonial Secretary in Singapore at one time) and locations (he was once in charge of artillery in Labuan).
His several missions to Siam (now Thailand) gained him familiarity with its King of Thailand and was conferred with the Order of the White Elephant by his majesty King of Siam. On 24 May 1878, he was knighted with C.M.G.. 
- Twentieth Century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources, by Arnold Wright, Published 1908
Perak and the Malays (1878) by Major Fred. McNair
Prisoners their own warders (1899) by Major J.F.A.McNair