Thomas Braddell



Thomas Braddell, C. M. G. (b. 30 January 1823, Rahingrany, Ireland–d. 19 September 1891, London, England) was Crown Counsel of the Straits Settlements (1864), and the first Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements (1867–82). Before joining the legal profession, he was Assistant Resident Councillor of Penang. He was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (C. M. G.) in 1882.1

Career
When he was nearly 17, Braddell travelled to Demerara (which is today part of Guyana in South America) to learn sugar planting. After gaining some experience, Braddell moved to Ayer Hitam Valley in Penang in 1844, where he was employed by Messrs. Brown & Co. to manage a sugar estate called Otaheite. This posting marked the beginning of the Braddell family’s association with Malaya. Two years later, Braddell was appointed to take charge of the Batu Kawan Sugar Estate in Province Wellesley, also owned by Messrs. Brown & Co. Besides being the estate manager, Braddell also owned one-quarter of the property. Unfortunately, the sugar crop was destroyed by floodwater, and the estate wound up shortly afterwards.2


Leaving sugar cultivation behind, Braddell then joined the British East India Company, and was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Police in Penang, on 1 January 1849. A few months later he was transferred to the municipality as secretary, after which he took charge of the police at Province Wellesley. In 1851, Braddell was transferred to Malacca where he remained for the next three years. While stationed in Malacca, he managed to suppress, with only the police force and no military aid, the Chinese clan riots that broke out in Singapore in 1854 and had spread to Malacca. For his courageous efforts, Braddell was promoted to the position of Assistant Resident Councillor of Penang, making him the first uncovenanted official to hold such a high-ranking post. It was reportedly the fastest promotion in the government service at the time.3

Notwithstanding his speedy promotion, Braddell was aware that uncovenanted employees would not normally be granted the top positions in the civil service. While employed with the EIC as Assistant Resident Councillor of Penang, he decided to study law to better his prospects. On 10 June 1859, Braddell was called to the English Bar by the Society of Gray’s Inn. Three years later, Braddell left the East India Company service in Penang and moved to Singapore, where he set up law firm Logan and Braddell with Abraham Logan. Braddell was subsequently appointed Crown Counsel of the Straits Settlements in January 1864 and then Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements in April 1867. He held the latter designation until December 1882. As attorney-general stationed in Singapore, Braddell was tasked with drafting Singapore’s own body of laws as well as remodelling local court procedures. Apart from these appointments, Braddell also served in the Chinese Secret Societies Commission and the Prison Commission.4

In February 1858, Braddell wrote a pamphlet titled “Singapore and the Straits Settlements Described”. This was in view of the agitation, started in 1857 by the European mercantile community, to transfer the control of Singapore from the India Office to direct rule under the Colonial Office in London. Several of Braddell’s recommendations on how best to govern the Straits Settlements were adopted and eventually implemented. Braddell was also instrumental in helping the British successfully conclude the Treaty of Pangkor with the Malay States in 1874.5

Interests
Braddell took a deep and personal interest in the conditions and customs of the Malay Archipelago. His thoughts and concerns about the region are reflected in the numerous articles that he penned. Many were published in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia (also known as “Logan’s Journal”), founded and edited by James Richardson Logan, the younger brother of Braddell’s law firm partner, Abraham Logan. Braddell’s writings covered a wide variety of topics concerning the Malay Archipelago, ranging from historical events and geography to royal genealogy and social issues such as opium-smoking and gambling.6


In his book, British Malaya: An Account of the Origin and Progress of British Influence in Malaya (1907), Frank Swettenham, the first Resident-General of the Federated Malay States and Governor of the Straits Settlements from 1901 to 1904, commented that by 1860, Braddell appeared to be the only European resident still possessing a deep enthusiasm for knowledge of the archipelago. Charles Burton Buckley, author of An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore 18191867 (1902), noted that Braddell had originally planned to write a book about the history of Singapore, being “one of those… who were very willing to use their spare time in endeavouring to record the history of the place, the growing importance of which they foresaw and appreciated”. Owing to Braddell’s extremely busy schedule, however, that arduous task was left to Buckley, who compiled his book based in part on Braddell’s manuscripts.7

Apart from producing numerous original articles about the Malay Archipelago, Braddell, who was well-versed in Malay, translated several Malay works into English that were published in Logan’s Journal. His translation of a passage from the Hikayat Abdullah (or Stories of Abdullah), describing the pervasive threat of piracy in the Singapore Straits during Stamford Raffles’s time in the region, so impressed Buckley that the latter commented that it “reads like a passage from the Arabian Nights”. Braddell’s keen interest in and knowledge of Malay culture, fluency in the Malay language as well as his courteous manner, earned him the respect of the Malay populace, including the Malay chiefs who would often approach him for advice. Braddell was also an ebullient Freemason and reportedly held every single appointment associated with Freemasonry with exception of the position of District Grand Master.8

Family
Braddell married Anne Lee in 1852. They had two sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Thomas de Multon Lee Braddell, was appointed Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements in 1911 and was Chief Justice of the Federated Malay States from 1913 to 1917. His grandson, Roland St John Braddell, was a prominent lawyer who became legal adviser to the United Malays National Organisation and the Conference of Rulers in Malaya, and was the joint editor of  the centenary publication, One Hundred Years of Singapore.9

Departure
In late 1882, Braddell had to retire due to injuries sustained in a bad carriage accident. He died at the age of 69 at his home in South Kensington, London, on 19 September 1891.10




Authors

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Alex Ong




References
1. Attorney-General’s Chambers. (2015, 26 November). Overview of AGC’s history. Retrieved 2016, August 15 from Attorney-General’s Chambers website: https://www.agc.gov.sg/Who_We_Are/Our_History/Overview.aspx; Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 697–698, 781. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 423, 428. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Tan, K. Y. L. (Ed.). Essays in Singapore legal history. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic & Singapore Academy of law, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 349.5957 ESS); Death of Mr Thomas Braddell. (1891, September 21). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 696. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 423–424. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
3. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 637, 696. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 424. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Tan, K.Y.L. (Ed.). Essays in Singapore legal history. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic & Singapore Academy of Law, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 349.5957 ESS)
4. Tan, K. Y. L. (Ed.). Essays in Singapore legal history. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic & Singapore Academy of law, p. 80. (Call no.: RSING 349.5957 ESS); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 183, 196, 204–206, 216–217, 276–277, 287–288. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 424–425. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 696-7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
5. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 25. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 425–426. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819–2005. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 85–87. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS]); Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 666. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Swettenham, F. (1907). British Malaya: An account of the origin and progress of British influence in Malaya [Microfilm no.: NL 19101]. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, p .176; Death of Mr Thomas Braddell. (1891, September 21). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Swettenham, F. (1907). British Malaya: An account of the origin and progress of British influence in Malaya [Microfilm no.: NL 19101]. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, pp. 111–112; Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 195–196. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 425. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 46, 697–698. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Ang, S. L. (2016, January-March). Logan’s Journal. BiblioAsia, 11(4), 25. Retrieved from BiblioAsia website: https://www.nlb.gov.sg/Browse/BiblioAsia.aspx
7. Swettenham, F. (1907). British Malaya: An account of the origin and progress of British influence in Malaya [Microfilm no.: NL 19101]. London: John Lane the Bodley Head, p. 112; Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 26, 125–126. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 425, 697–698. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
8. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 6, 49–50, 697–698. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 426, 428. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Death of Mr Thomas Braddell. (1891, September 21). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 428–429. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Allen, J. de V. (1967). The Malayan Union. New Haven, Connecticut: Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University, p. 117. (Call no.: RSING 959.506 ALL)
10. Death of Mr Thomas Braddell. (1891, September 21). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 427–428. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])



The information in this article is valid as at 2011 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.

 

Subject
Braddell, Thomas, 1823-1891
Colonial administrators
Law and government>>Jurisprudence
Attorneys general--Malaysia--Malaya--Biography
Attorneys general--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Colonial Administrators