Roland St. John Braddell, 1880-1966
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Dato Sir Roland St. John Braddell (b. 20 December 1880, Singapore - d. 15 November 1966, London, United Kingdom), a prominent lawyer in the region, was the eldest son of Attorney-General Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell, and grandson of Thomas Braddell, the first Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements. He was also joint editor of One Hundred Years of Singapore , and author of numerous legal and historical publications.
Roland Braddell was born at "The Castle" in Cavanagh Road, Singapore on 20 December 1880. He received his education at King's School, Canterbury, and Worcester College, Oxford where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1904. Braddell was called to the Middle Temple Bar in 1905, and to the Straits Bar in the following year. A prominent lawyer in the Straits Settlements, Johore, and the Federated Malay States, he practised in Braddell Brothers, the law firm established by his father Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell and his uncle Robert Wallace Glen Lee Braddell. In addition, he served as Sultan Ibrahim of Johore's private legal adviser for many years.
On several occasions, Braddell was commended by the colonial government for his active participation in public affairs. He was appointed member of the Statute Revision Commission in 1910, and Municipal Commissioner from 1914 to 1919. Braddell was also a member of the Raffles Museum and Library Committee. He participated in the Housing Commission to look into Singapore's housing needs in 1917, as well as a study commissioned by the University of Malaya in 1953. The latter study, which culminated in a report that was published in early April 1955, was done jointly with Professor R.G.D Allen, who was then Professor of Statistics at the University of London. Popularly known as the Allen-Braddell Report, it recommended the establishment of a separate Faculty of Law to provide training for future lawyers of Malaya.
Braddell played a significant role in the negotiations leading to the formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1948. As early as November 1942, he had been in favour of British plans for a unified political system in Malaya after an envisaged victory over the Japanese, remarking that "there was a 'God-sent' chance to clear up all the country's troubles when the Japs are put back where they belong..." However, the British idea of a Malayan Union faced strong protests from the Malay community, partly because the proposed system required the Malay Sultans to relinquish all their sovereign powers to the British Crown.
Consequently, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) was founded on 1 April 1946 to lead the opposition against the Malayan Union. Braddell, for his part in the struggle against the Union, served as UMNO's legal adviser, helping its leaders draw up a proposal for an alternative arrangement to replace the Malayan Union. The British eventually conceded to local protests and abolished the Malayan Union, supplanting it with the Federation of Malaya in 1948. Braddell would also go on to serve as legal adviser to the Conference of Rulers from 1948 to 1951.
Braddell was the author of many legal and historical publications about Singapore and Malaya including Commentary on the Common Gaming Houses Ordinance (1911), The Law of the Straits Settlements (1915), and The Lights of Singapore (1934). He was also editor of Straits Produce, and co-editor of the centenary work One Hundred Years of Singapore (1921). In addition, Braddell was Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, as well as Member of the Council of Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
Family and Interests
Braddell married Dulcie Sylvia, the only daughter of mental specialist Dr Lyttelton Forbes Winslow, in 1906. They had one son, Thomas Lyndhurst Braddell, who was born in 1908. Like his father Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell, Roland Braddell was actively involved in amateur theatricals. A member of the Singapore Amateur Dramatic committee, he co-wrote a musical farce called The Rajah of Stengahpour, which starred Braddell's wife Sylvia. Staged at the Teutonia Club in July 1907 the drama performance was reportedly a great success. Braddell was also a collector of fine Chinese antique porcelain. His collection, which was placed on loan to the Raffles Museum in 1913, included blue and white dishes, and a vase from the late Ming period, as well as various specimens of vases, bowls, cups and plates from the Qing dynasty.
Braddell continued to practise law in the 1950s. Upon retirement at the beginning of the 1960s, he moved to London, where he passed away on 15 November 1966. A funeral service in memory of him was held at the Mortlake Crematorium in London on 21 November. Four years later, the University of Singapore Law Faculty inaugurated a new public lecture series called the Braddell Memorial Lecture to commemorate him.
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Alex Ong
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(Call no.: 320.95951 LAU)
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(Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE)
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(Call no.: RSING 959.5 MOH)
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Cheong, Suk-Wai. (1999, October 26). This small faculty packs a big punch. The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 4, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Deaths: Braddell, Roland St. John [Microfilm: NL 4846]. (1966, November 16). The Times (London), p. 2.
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Milestones of the NUS Faculty of Law (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2007, from National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law Web site http://law.nus.edu.sg (then click on Law > About Us > History & Milestones)
The information in this article is valid as at 2007 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.