W. N. T. Tam

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W. N. Thomas Tam (譚雅士)
Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong
In office
3 December 1939 – 25 December 1941
Appointed by Sir Geoffry Northcote
Preceded by T. N. Chau
Personal details
Born 21 July 1900
Hong Kong
Died (1976-04-08)8 April 1976 (aged 75)
Hong Kong
Spouse(s) Jessie Pui-chun To
Alma mater University of Hong Kong
University College London
Oxford University
Occupation Barrister-at-law

William Ngartse Thomas Tam (Chinese: 譚雅士; Sidney Lau: Taam4 Nga5 Si6), OBE, JP (21 July 1900 – 8 April 1976) was a Hong Kong judge and member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.


Third son of Lung Foo Thomas (alias Tam Ha-si) and reputed to have Kaiping roots, W. N. Thomas Tam was born in Hong Kong in 1900. In his early years he was known as William Ngartse Thomas, his close friends called him Willie. He went to the Diocesan Boys School, graduated from the University of Hong Kong (BA 1920), and University College London (LLB 1923), and was admitted in 1920 to Inner Temple before being called to the Hong Kong Bar. He also received a Diploma in Economics and Political Science from Oxford University in 1922. It was only at Oxford and subsequently that he used Tam as his surname, whereas his brother George and his descendants have retained Thomas as theirs.

He was a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1939 until 1941 when Hong Kong fell under the Japanese occupation. He was appointed to the Chinese Cooperative Council set up the Japanese. In 1947, Tam was appointed to preside at the Central Magistracy.[1] During the war and shortly after he had had a law practice with Kan Yuet-keung and George She.

Tam was a director of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and was also Chairman of the Po Leung Kuk from 1936 to 1937. He was made Justice of the Peace in 1933 and was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire[1] on the King's Birthday Honours 1951.

He married Jessie To Pui-chun, daughter of Dr To Ying-kwan, on 2 November 1929, at St. John's Cathedral. They lived at "Jessville", named for his wife, on the hillside of Pok Fu Lam.[2] He died on 8 April 1976 at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital at aged 75, leaving two children and two grandchildren. His son-in-law was Yang Ti-liang, later to beg Chief Justice of Hong Kong.[1]


The Jessie and Thomas Tam Charitable Foundation has made significant donations to worthwhile causes including HK$5 million to the Hong Kong Cancer Society,[3], £1 million for the 2012 NHS project, “Inflammatory Bowel Disease Registries in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. A Comparative Study of Disease Pathogenesis in the Far East and West”,[4] and through the W.N. Thomas Tam Fund for Chinese Studies at Oxford University to support Chinese education at its Faculty of Oriental Studies.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "副按察司楊鐵樑之岳父 前中央裁判署法官 譚雅士老先生仙逝". Kung Sheung Daily News. 9 April 1976. p. 7. 
  2. ^ Wordle, Jason (11 October 2009). "Out and about". South China Morning Post. 
  3. ^ "Retirement with a Mission". Civil Service Newsletter. Hong Kong. June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Dr Marcos Harbord". Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  5. ^ "W.N. Thomas Tam Fund for Chinese Studies". Oxford University, Faculty of Oriental Studies. 
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
T. N. Chau
Chinese Unofficial Member