Walter Makepeace



Walter Makepeace (b. 22 December 1859, Coventry, England–d. 1941) was a journalist and editor of The Singapore Free Press. He was also active in numerous local organisations in Singapore and is best remembered for co-editing One Hundred Years of Singapore, the colony’s official history commissioned to commemorate Singapore’s centenary in 1919.1

Early life
Makepeace was educated at the Birmingham and Midland Institute as well as Saltry College in Birmingham, United Kingdom. He came to Malaya in 1884 to join the Straits Settlements Education Department and became a schoolmaster in Malacca.2 As a skilled shorthand writer, Makepeace also worked as a court reporter.3

Journalism and publishing
The Singapore Free Press
Makepeace left government service in 1887 after he was asked to go to Singapore as the Legislative Council’s reporter for no extra pay.4 He joined the Free Press as assistant editor, but the paper also appointed him legislative correspondent. In the absence of formal transcripts, his reports served as the official record for 16 years. No thanks to the tedious council proceedings, Makepeace noted that the public galleries had no repeat visitors.5 Makepeace’s role as a reporter of Legislative Council proceedings enabled him to acquire a great deal of knowledge about colonial affairs as well as personalities.6

In 1895, Makepeace and William St. Clair became joint proprietors of the Free Press, and Makepeace was named business chief. Eleven years later, he became joint proprietor and editor with Reginald Davies. Makepeace was known to be an encouraging and sympathetic employer. He obtained Malaya’s first linotype typesetting machines for the press. The machine was installed in the paper’s premises above Robinson’s store in Raffles Place, and Makepeace performed minor repairs himself.7 He had an international readership as a correspondent for Reuters and the Paris edition of the New York Herald, and represented Malaya at the 1920 Imperial Press Conference in Ottawa.8 After his retirement in 1926, a street off Bukit Timah Road was named in his honour.9

One Hundred Years of Singapore
In 1918, the Singapore Centenary Committee commissioned an official history of the colony to be written and tapped Makepeace, who possessed both literary skill and a vast knowledge of Singapore affairs and history, as senior editor. He was assisted by Gilbert Brooke, Roland Braddell (former attorney-general of the Straits Settlements) and a committee of former Singapore residents in London. Their efforts brought to fruition One Hundred Years of Singapore, which was published in 1921, two years after the actual centenary.10

The book relied heavily on newspaper sources and personal reminiscences.11 Unable to accommodate the history of the Chinese in Singapore into a few chapters, the editors commissioned a separate companion volume on the Chinese, One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore (1923), compiled by Song Ong Siang.12

Community activities
In 1888 Makepeace enlisted in the new Singapore Volunteer Artillery (later the Singapore Volunteer Corps), of which he allegedly quipped: “Whereas Singapore is a small piece of land surrounded entirely by water, the Singapore Volunteer Artillery is a small body of men surrounded entirely by officers”.13 He retired as a captain and honorary major in 1914 but remained on the reserve list until 1920. He was recalled in 1915 to command 200 special constables during the Sepoy Mutiny. Makepeace received the long-service medal and officially retired from the service in 1920.14 During World War I he served as a propaganda officer for the region and despatched thousands of documents across the Far East.15

Makepeace participated in numerous and diverse local organisations A Freemason, Makepeace became the Worshipful Master of Singapore’s oldest lodge, Zetland in the East, in 1894 and district Grand Master in 1919.16 He was also active in the Straits Settlements Association, which sought to safeguard the interests of Singapore’s business community both domestically and in London, and was elected its vice-president in 1919. Between 1890 and the 1920s, Makepeace was secretary and then treasurer of the Masters and Mates’ Association and its successor the Singapore Merchant Guild Association.17

Besides being on the Education Board, Makepeace was also a member of the Raffles Library and Museum Committee and served as librarian, vice-president and honorary secretary of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.18 In addition, he was involved in recreational activities such as the short-lived Singapore Cycling Club,19 the Chess Club20 and the Swimming Club, of which he was captain and later president.21

Return to England
By 1926 Makepeace had been in Malaya longer than most European expatriates; he returned that year to England to settle in Bristol.22 He died in 1941.23

Family
Makepeace married Miss Pitt (d. 1934) in 1901, and they had two daughters and a son.24

Publications
Reith, G. M. (1907). Handbook to Singapore with map [Microfilm nos.: NL 24341, 30196]. Singapore: Fraser and Neave. (Original work published in 1892; revised by Makepeace in 1907.)

Makepeace, W., Brooke, G., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1921). One hundred years of Singapore. London: J. Murray.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.91 MAK)



Author

Duncan Sutherland



References
1. Fisher, J. S. (Ed.). (1925). Who’s who in Malaya 1925 [Microfilm no.: NL 6705] Singapore: J.S. Fisher, p. 124; Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 320. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. v. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Urcan, O. G. (2007). Surviving Changi: E. E. Colman, a chess biography. Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 794.1092 URC)
2. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 320. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Romney, P. H. (1935, October 8). Makepeace and Davies as I knew them. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 155. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
4. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. vi, 155. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
5. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. vi. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
6. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. vii. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
7. Romney, P. H. (1935, October 8). Makepeace and Davies as I knew them. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6; The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. vi. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
8. The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 245. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
10. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. vi. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Burton, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 697. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 320. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
11. MR. G. W. A. Trimmer. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2; Koh, B. S. (1996, July 27). The Republic’s life, from settlement days to recent times. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Singapore history. (1925, February 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Romney, P. H. (1935, October 8). Makepeace and Davies as I knew them. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 320. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (18841942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (18841942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Romney, P. H. (1935, October 8). Makepeace and Davies as I knew them. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.; Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. vvi. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
17. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. I). Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. vi–vii. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
18. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 317. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884­1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 317. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
20. Urcan, O. G. (2007). Surviving Changi: E. E. Colman, a chess biography. Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 794.1092 URC)
21. The Singapore Free Press and the men who have made it. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884­1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Romney, P. H. (1935, October 8). Makepeace and Davies as I knew them. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 6; As I was saying. (1933, August 28). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Fisher, J. S. (Ed.). (1925). Who’s who in Malaya 1925 [Microfilm no.: NL 6705]. Singapore: J.S. Fisher, p. 124.
24. Untitled. (1901, October 14). The Straits Times, p. 2; Mrs. W. Makepeace. (1934, July 27). The Straits Times, p. 13; News of Malayans at home. (1933, September 23). The Straits Times, p. 12.; Mr. W. Makepeace Jun. weds in England. (1937, October 27). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 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
Personalities
Makepeace, Walter, 1859-1941
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Personalities>>Biographies
Journalists--Singapore--Biography