Edward Brandis Denham

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Sir Edward Brandis Denham GCMG KBE (1876 – 31 May 1938) was a British colonial administrator. He served as Governor of the Gambia (1928–1930), British Guiana (1930–1935) and Jamaica (1935–1938).


Edward Brandis Denham was educated at Malvern College and Merton College, Oxford. Joining the colonial service as a cadet in the Ceylon Civil Service, he later served as colonial secretary of Mauritius (1920–1923) and acting governor of Kenya (1923–1928). He became Governor of the Gambia in November 1928, finding it hard to deal with the general strike called by the Bathurst Trade Union in late 1929. In January 1930 he left the Gambia to become Governor of British Guiana.[1]

He was appointed Governor of Jamaica by the colonial office in 1935. His short three-year stint was troubled with political and social unrest. There had been serious riots at the docks in Kingston and Falmouth in May and October 1935. 1938 opened with a cane cutters' strike on Serge Island Estate in the parish of St. Thomas. In response, Governor Denham fired off anxious telegrams to the colonial office in London. To head off trouble, Governor Denham appointed commissions to investigate wage rates and unemployment, followed by emergency public works initiatives.

The Governor found the islands' problems complex and difficult to solve. Denham thought the real problems of Jamaica were less economic than political. The recent emergence of a group of well-educated mixed-raced Jamaican politicians posed the main threat to British colonial rule. Imperialism and democracy proved difficult to merge, but a system of democratic ruling of the Jamaican people allowed Sir Edward Denham to continue his rule of the islands.

Denham died of a heart attack at Kings House, the Governors' residence, on the 2nd of June 1938[2]. On the 4th June 1938 the crew of HMS Ajax (22) buried the Jamaican Governor at sea at sunset after his coffin was taken to the ship on a gun carriage. In 1944, six years after his death, Jamaicans were granted universal adult suffrage, an idea initiated by Governor Edward Denham. An area in the western section of Kingston called 'Denham town' is named after him and in his memory the Sir Edward Denham Memorial Prize is awarded at Royal College Colombo since 1939.


  1. ^ Hughes, Arnold; Perfect, David, eds. (2008). "Denham, Sir Edward Brandis (1876-1938)". Historical Dictionary of The Gambia. African Historical Dictionaries. 109. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 50. 
  2. ^ https://www.geni.com/projects/Governors-of-Jamaica/8140
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Middleton
Governor of The Gambia
Succeeded by
Herbert Richmond Palmer
Preceded by
Gordon Guggisberg
Governor of British Guiana
Succeeded by
Geoffry Northcote
Preceded by
A. S. Jeef, acting
Governor of Jamaica
Succeeded by
Charles Campbell Woolley, acting