John Anderson (colonial administrator)

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His Excellency
Sir John Anderson
Sir john anderson.gif
Governor of Straits Settlements
In office
15 April 1904 – 9 April 1911
Preceded by Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham
Succeeded by Sir Arthur Henderson Young
22nd Governor of Ceylon
In office
15 April 1916 – 24 March 1918
Preceded by Reginald Edward Stubbs
acting governor
Succeeded by Reginald Edward Stubbs
acting governor
Personal details
Born (1858-06-23)23 June 1858
Gartly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died 24 March 1918(1918-03-24) (aged 59)
Colombo, Ceylon
Political party None

Sir John Anderson GCMG KCB JP (23 June 1858 – 24 March 1918) was a Scottish colonial administrator, who was once the Governor of Ceylon and Governor of Straits Settlements.


He was the only son of Mr. John Anderson, the Superintendent of the Gordon Mission, Aberdeen. Before he was twenty, he graduated MA at Aberdeen University, gaining a first class in mathematics and being awarded the gold medal of the year.


Two years after graduating, he entered the Colonial Office as a second class clerk. In 1887, he was Bacon Scholar of Gray's Inn, and in the following year he was the Inns of Court student.

He proceeded with Sir John F. Dickinson in 1891 to Gibraltar, in order to inquire into the matters connected with the Registry of the Supreme Court. He was next appointed as the private secretary to Sir R. Meade, Permanent Under-Secretary of the State for the Colonies, in 1892 he served as the British Agent for Bering Sea Arbitration.

From 1883 to 1897 he edited the Colonial Office List, later he appointed as the principal clerk. He became the secretary to the Conference between Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and the Colonial Premiers in that year he had considerable opportunities of gaining an intimate knowledge of the feelings of the self-governing colonies. For the second time he was despatched to Gibraltar in 1899, on this occasion to inquire into the rates of pay of the Civil Service there. He returned to London in the same year and remained until 1901, where Mr. Joseph Chamberlain chose him as Colonial Office representative to accompany T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of Wales, then the Duke and Duchess of York, on their famous tour around British Empire on board HMS Ophir. It was during that trip that Sir Anderson saw for the first time the colony over which he would preside.

In 1902, again he acted as the secretary to the Colonial Conference, and in 1903, he received thanks of the Canadian Government and the Confederation medal for services rendered in connection with the Alaska Boundary question and other matters.

In 1904, he was appointed as Governor of Straits Settlements where he served till 1911. In 1916, he was appointed as Governor of Ceylon. In Ceylon he played a major role in settling many problems and riots that started in 1915 and suppressed harshly by the British.

He suddenly fell ill at Queens Cottage, Nuwara Eliya in 1918 and died on 24 March 1918. It is recorded that his Maha Mudaliyar, Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, who happened to be at his bedside, wrote:

"Sir John was the first Governor of this country to die while his term of office in Sri Lanka and was as yet unfinished, and every circumstances combined to make his death a matter of genuine and universal grief, so that it seemed almost a personal loss. May our people of Lanka take an example from this Great and Good man!"


He was appointed a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1898, and a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1901 when he was due to accompany the Duke and Duchess of York.[1] In 1906, he was awarded LL.D. from his former alma mater.

Anderson School in Ipoh, Malaysia was named after the then High Commissioner of the Malay States, Sir John Anderson, the school was formally opened on the 6th of February 1909.

Anderson Road and Anderson bridge in Singapore was also named in his honour.


  1. ^ "No. 27288". The London Gazette. 22 February 1901. p. 1349. 
  • Daily News
  • Arnold Wright, Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya, 1908
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham
Governor of Straits Settlements
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Henderson Young
Preceded by
Reginald Edward Stubbs
acting governor
Governor of Ceylon
Succeeded by
Reginald Edward Stubbs
acting governor