Reginald Edward Stubbs

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Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs
SirReginaldStubbs.jpg
16th Governor of Hong Kong
In office
30 September 1919 – 1 November 1925
Preceded by Sir Francis Henry May
Succeeded by Sir Cecil Clementi
Personal details
Born (1876-10-13)13 October 1876
Died 7 December 1947(1947-12-07) (aged 71)
Spouse(s) Marjory Stubbs
Alma mater Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Profession colonial administrator

Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs, GCMG (Chinese: 司徒拔) (1876–1947) was a British colonial governor, who was once the Governor of Hong Kong. He caused controversy while Governor of Ceylon over the Bracegirdle Incident.

Early life and education[edit]

Reginald Edward Stubbs was born on 13 October 1876, the son of William Stubbs, a historian and bishop of Chester and Oxford, consecutively. He was educated at Radley and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He obtained first class honours in Lit. Hum. in 1899.

Early Colonial Services[edit]

He entered Colonial Office in 1900 as a second-class clerk, eventually serving as acting first class clerk from 1907 to 1910, when he became a permanent 1st class clerk. In that same year, Stubbs was sent on a special mission to Malay Peninsula and Hong Kong. He was a member of West African Lands Committee in 1912, and became a colonial secretary of Ceylon in from 1913 to 1919.

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

He was appointed Hong Kong Governor in 1919, a position he served until 1925. Beginning from his governorship, the Chinese translated names of British Governors are made to look more like real life Chinese names.

During Stubb's tenure, strikes were frequent, thus harming the Hong Kong economy in the process. In 1922, seamen went on strike in Hong Kong, followed by a large strike that involved workers in Hong Kong and Canton, China. The strikers demanded the annulment of the "unequal treaties" (Treaty of Nanking, Treaty of Peking, and New Territories land lease agreement, which, altogether, allowed British control of Hong Kong). The strikers also demanded better treatment of Chinese labourers on Hong Kong.

At first, Stubbs tried to suppress the strikers with legal and forceful means, but the efforts backfired, and caused an exodus of more than 100,000 Chinese labourers to China. This further damaged the economy, and Stubbs left Hong Kong in 1925.

Stubbs received an M.A. degree during his tenure, in 1920.

Post-Governorship[edit]

After his stormy tenure as Governor of Hong Kong, Stubbs was made Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of Jamaica a year later, in 1926. He would hold this position until 1932, when he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Cyprus. He would serve in this position until 1933.

Governorship of Ceylon and the Bracegirdle incident[edit]

In 1933 Stubbs was appointed to his last position in the Colonial Service: Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

In 1937, he was prevailed upon by the White planters to became involved in an illegal attempt to deport Mark Anthony Bracegirdle, an Australian planter who had gone over to the side of the workers and joined the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). Bracegirdle was served with the order of deportation on 22 April and given 48 hours to leave, but he defied the order, going into hiding instead. The Colonial Government began a man-hunt, but was unsuccessful. The LSSP started a campaign to defend him. At that year's May Day rally at Price Park, Colombo placards declaring 'We want Bracegirdle – Deport Stubbs' were displayed, and a resolution was passed condemning Stubbs, demanding his removal and the withdrawal of the deportation order.

On 5 May, in the State Council, the LSSP members Dr N.M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena moved a vote of censure on the Governor for having ordered the deportation of Bracegirdle without the advice of the acting Home Minister. Even the Board of Ministers had started feeling the heat of public opinion and the vote was passed by 34 votes to 7.

On the same day there was a 50,000-strong rally at Galle Face Green, which was addressed by Dr N.M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, condemning Stubbs. Bracegirdle made a dramatic appearance on the platform at this rally, but the police were powerless to arrest him. They managed to arrest him a couple of days later, but a writ of habeas corpus was served and the case was called before a bench of three Supreme Court judges presided over by Chief Justice Sir Sidney Abrahams. The brilliant H.V. Perera, the county's leading civil lawyer, volunteered his services free on behalf of Bracegirdle; he was made a King's Counsel (KC) on the day that Bracegirdle appeared in court. On 18 May order was made that he could not be deported for exercising his right to free speech, and Bracegirdle was a free man.

Stubbs retired shortly afterwards.

Retirement[edit]

A year after his retirement, Stubbs became the vice-chairman of West India Royal Commission (until 1939) and Chairman of Northern Division Appellate Tribunal for Conscientious Objectors from 1941 to 1947.

Personal life[edit]

Stubbs married Lady Marjory Stubbs in 1909. The couple had two sons and one daughter. Stubbs himself died on 7 December 1947.

Honours[edit]

  • CMG, 1914
  • KCMG, 1919
  • GCMG, 1928
  • Honorary Fellow, Corpus Christi College, 1926
  • Hon. LL.D., University of Hong Kong, 1926

Places and things named after him[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yanne, Andrew; Heller, Gillis (2009). Signs of a Colonial Era. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 2, 66. ISBN 978-962-209-944-9. 
  2. ^ Revival of Royal vs Trinity boxing dual after lapse of 50 years
Government offices
Preceded by
Henry Edward McCallum
Governor of Ceylon, acting
1913
Succeeded by
Robert Chalmers
Preceded by
Robert Chalmers
Governor of Ceylon, acting
1915–1916
Succeeded by
John Anderson
Preceded by
Claud Severn, Acting Administrator
Governor of Hong Kong
1919–1925
Succeeded by
Claud Severn, Acting Administrator
Preceded by
Brig. Sir Samuel Herbert Wilson
Governor of Jamaica
1926–1932
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Ransford Slater
Preceded by
Sir Ronald Storrs
Governor of Cyprus
1932–1933
Succeeded by
Sir Herbert Richmond Palmer
Preceded by
Francis Graeme Tyrrell, acting
Governor of Ceylon
1933–1937
Succeeded by
Maxwell MacLagan Wedderburn, acting