Richard Olaf Winstedt



Richard Olaf Winstedt (Sir) (b. 2 August 1878, Oxford, Englandd. 2 June 1966, London, England) was a British colonial administrator and scholar.1 Besides introducing numerous reforms as the director of education for the Straits Settlements, he is also remembered for his contributions to the study of Malayan folklore, history and language, on which he had published many works2 over a 50-year period.

Early years
Winstedt studied at Magdalen College School and New College in Oxford, England. He then joined the Colonial Service and requested for a posting to the Federated Malay States, arriving in Perak in late 1902.3

Civil service
Education

In 1903, Winstedt became the acting assistant inspector of schools in Perak.4 Visiting remote villages, he rarely saw other Europeans. His interactions with local villagers helped him to master the Malay language. He subsequently became the district officer for Kuala Pilah, where he attended many rural functions and became very familiar with local culture.5

With his knowledge of the Malay language and customs, in 1916 Winstedt was appointed assistant director of education for Malay schools in the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States.6 Following fact-finding trips to Java and the Philippines, Winstedt recommended a greater focus on handicraft and horticulture in the education system, so as to better equip Malays for kampong (village) life. He also played a key role in the establishment of the Sultan Idris Training College in Tanjong Malim, Perak, to address the shortage of Malay teachers.7 In addition, the Translation Bureau was established under his direction. The bureau played an important part in the preparation of textbooks for the Malay vernacular schools.8

In 1924, Winstedt became the director of education.9 Besides widening the curriculum for girls, he also recruited more inspectors to enforce new education standards and centralised the supply of textbooks to ensure a comprehensive distribution system.10 Winstedt drafted Malaya’s first Education Code and assembled a team of expert staff to help him master every aspect of educational issues.11 However, his educational policies of lowering the school-leaving age and focusing on vernacular subjects such as basket-weaving – which were designed to preserve the students’ traditional lifestyles – was later criticised for hindering students’ advancement.12

From 1921 to 1931, Winstedt was the first president of Raffles College, an institution that he had helped establish. In 1928, he became the chairman of a medical research committee that was involved in securing the College of Medicine’s financial footing.13

Other key civil service appointments
Besides serving as director of education, Winstedt was also a member of the Straits Settlements Legislative Council and the Federal Council of the Federated Malay States.14

In 1931, Winstedt was appointed general adviser to the state of Johore, although he had been due for retirement in 1929.15

Scholarly work
Lexicography and folklore
Winstedt’s fascination with Malaya and its rich vocabulary led him to assist fellow British colonial administrator and scholar Richard Wilkinson in research before publishing his own works.16


In Perak, Winstedt met a celebrated poet who interested him in court ceremonies. He also spent many hours with an old Sumatran warrior whose stories he later transcribed and published. Winstedt collected vast amounts of original material that were included in his articles on Malay folklore.17

During Winstedt’s long recovery from blood poisoning, Wilkinson recommended that he study Malay grammar.18 The outcome was possibly Winstedt’s most significant work, Malay Grammar, published in 1913. Between 1914 and 1917, he also published a three-volume English–Malay dictionary.19 Another notable publication by Winstedt is Shaman, Saiva and Sufi: A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic (1925).20

History
Winstedt co-authored a short history of Malaya in 1918. He studied the subject in greater depth during his final years in Malaya, starting with the history of Johor and followed by those of Perak, Negri Sembilan and Selangor.21

After retiring to Britain in 1935,22 Winstedt published a translation of the Sejarah Melayu (1938). Among his subsequent publications are A History of Malay Literatur(1939) and Malay Proverbs (1950).23

Recognition
In 1920, Winstedt was conferred a Doctor of Letters degree by the Oxford University. It reportedly the first doctorate conferred by a British university for research in Malay.24

Before Winstedt left Malaya in 1935, he was elected a professor of Malay language by the Royal Society of Malay Literature of Johore, the designation being Pendita Bahasa Johore.25 That same year, Winstedt was also conferred a knighthood.26

In recognition of his work A History of Malay Literature, in 1945 Winstedt became the first colonial civil servant to be appointed a fellow of the British Academy.27 Two years later, he was awarded the Royal Asiatic Society’s triennial gold medal in London, and an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Malaya in 1951.28

Other appointments
Winstedt served as president or vice president of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in the 1920s,29 and was a member of the Raffles Library and Museum committee.30

Post-Malaya activities
In 1935, Winstedt joined the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he taught Malay and served as one of the school’s governors for over 20 years.31 He also joined the Colonial Office advisory committee on education, presided over the Association of British Malaya, and served as both president and director of the Royal Asiatic Society from 1940 onwards.32

During World War II, Winstedt made twice-weekly Malay radio broadcasts for the British Broadcasting Company. After the war, Winstedt and other eminent ex-Malayan officials opposed the British government’s controversial and ultimately short-lived Malayan Union plan. He remained a prolific writer into old age and died in 1966.33

Selected bibliography
1913: Malay Grammar34

1914–17: An English-Malay Dictionary (Roman Characters) in Two Volumes35
1916: Colloquial Malay: A Simple Grammar with Conversations36
1916: Malayan memories37
1920: Dictionary of colloquial Malay (Malay-English & English-Malay)38
1923: Education in Malaya39
1925: Shaman, Saiva and Sufi: A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic40
1929: Simple Malay Grammar for the Use of Schools41
1933: Right Thinking and Right Living42
1933: Eastern Tales43

1938: The Malay Annals, or, Sejarah Melayu; the Earliest Recension from Ms. No. 18 of the Raffles Collection, in the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society, London44
1939: A History of Malay Literature45
1944: Britain and Malaya, 1786–194146

1947: The Malays: A Cultural History47
1948: Malaya and its History48
1950: Malay Proverbs49
1955: An Unabridged Malay-English Dictionary50
1958: An Unabridged English-Malay Dictionary51
1958: Pelita Bahasa Inggeris52
1960: Kamus Bahasa Melayu53

Family
Winstedt married Sarah Mary O’Flynn on 2 March 1921. She was the first female doctor in the Malayan Medical Service.54




Author

Duncan Sutherland



References
1. Social and personal. (1921, February 18). The Straits Times, p. 8; Scholar is dead. (1966, June 5). The Straits Times, p. 5; Dr. Winstedt’s place in history of Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
2. Dr. Winstedt’s place in history of Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 9; Scholar is dead. (1966, June 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. 32 years’ service to education in Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 12; Perak appointments. (1903, January 7). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. 32 years’ service to education in Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 2, 4. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
6. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 4. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
7. Kennard, A. (1969, August 4). The trials of District Officer Winstedt. The Straits Times, p. 16; Dr. Winstedt’s place in history of Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 9; Malay education. (1922, December 4). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Dr. Winstedt’s place in history of Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 9; The Onlooker. (1940, March 10). Mainly about Malayans. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. 32 years’ service to education in Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Chelliah, D. D. (1960). A history of the educational policy of the Straits Settlements with recommendations for a new system based on vernaculars. Kuala Lumpur: G. H. Kiat, pp. 71, 78. (Call no.: RCLOS 370.9595 CHE); Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, p. 141. (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF)
11. Winstedt, R. O. (1965, November 20). The big buildings 40 years ago. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
12. Roff, W. R. (1994). The origins of Malay nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, pp. 139–140. (Call no.: RSING 320.54 ROF)
13. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
14. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
15. 32 years’ service to education in Malaya. (1935, April 13). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
17. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
18. Winstedt’s services to Malay scholarship, Malay education. (1965, February 1). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 3–4. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
20. Notes of the day. (1936, February 26). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 7. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
22. Dr. R. O. Winstedt. (1935, April 5). Malaya Tribune, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 7–8. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS)
24. Dr. R. O. Winstedt. (1920, June 21). The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Another honour for Dr. Winstedt. (1935, April 26). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Nine Malayans in birthday honours list. (1935, June 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Adviser (1884–1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 7–8. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS); Scholar is dead. (1966, June 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Gold medal for Sir R. Winstedt. (1947, October 10). The Straits Times, p. 1; 3 Asians get hon. degree of L. D. (1951, May 18). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Royal Asiatic Society. (1921, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 7; Royal Asiatic Society. (1927, March 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Untitled. (1927, January 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 7. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS); Two Malay sultans honoured by king. (1935, June 3). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 6–7. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS); Sir. R. Winstedt new A. B. M. president. (1937, July 22). The Straits Times, p. 13; Winstedt, R. (1945, November 15). The Malayan Union. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Bastin, J. (1964). Introduction: Sir Richard Winstedt and his writings. In J. Bastin & R. Roolvink (Eds.), Malayan and Indonesian studies: Essays presented to Sir Richard Winstedt on his eighty-fifth birthday (pp. 1–23). Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 8. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BAS); Scholar is dead. (1966, June 5). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Winstedt, R. (1913). Malay grammar. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Call no.: RCLOS 499.15 WIN-[RFL])
35. Winstedt, R.O. (1914–17). An English-Malay dictionary (Roman characters) in two volumes [Microfilm no.: NL30200]. Singapore: Kelly & Walsh.
36. Colloquial Malay. (1916, April 20). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Winstedt, R. (1916). Malayan memories. Singapore: Kelly & Walsh. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 WIN-[RFL])
38. Winstedt, R. (1920). Dictionary of colloquial Malay (Malay-English & English-Malay). Singapore: Kelly & Walsh. (Call no.: RCLOS 499.13 WIN-[RFL])
39. Winstedt, R. O. (1923). Education in Malaya [Microfilm: NL5380]. Singapore: Fraser & Neave.
40. Winstedt, R.O. (1925). Shaman, Saiva and Sufi: A study of the evolution of Malay magic [Microfilm no.: NL25787]. London: Constable & Company, Ltd.
41. Winstedt, R. (1929). Simple Malay grammar for the use of schools [Microfilm no.: NL11800]. Singapore: Kelly & Walsh.
42. Winstedt, R. (1933). MPH supplementary English readers: right thinking and right living [Microfilm no.: NL26229]. Singapore: Malaya Pub. House.
43. Winstedt, R. (1933). MPH supplementary English readers: Eastern tales [Microfilm no.: NL26229]. Singapore: Malaya Pub. House.
44. Winstedt, R.O. (1938). The Malay annals, or, Sejarah Melayu; the earliest recension from Ms. no. 18 of the Raffles Collection, in the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society, London. Singapore: Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 SEJ-[GBH])
45. Winstedt, R.O. (1939). A history of Malay literature. Singapore: Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. (Call no.: RCLOS 899.2809 WIN)
46. Winstedt, W. (1944). Britain and Malaya 1786–1941. London: Longmans, Green. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 WIN)
47. Winstedt, R. (1947). The Malays: a cultural history. Singapore: Kelly & Walsh. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 WIN-[HYT])
48. Winstedt, R. (1948). Malaya and its history. London: Hutchinson’s University Library. (Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 WIN-[RFL])
49. Winstedt, R. (1950). Malay proverbs. London: Murray. (Call no.: RCLOS 398.99923 WIN)
50. An unabridged Malay-English dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, July 31 from OCLC WorldCat website: http://www.worldcat.org/title/unabridged-malay-english-dictionary/oclc/8152643
51. Winstedt, R. (1958). An unabridged English-Malay dictionary. Singapore: Marican & Sons. (Call no.: RCLOS 499.28321 WIN-[MSN])
52. Winstedt, R. (1958). Pelita bahasa Inggeris. Singapore: Marican. (Call no.: RCLOS 428 WIN)
53. Winstedt, R. (1960). Kamus bahasa Melayu. Singapore: Marican. (Call no.: RCLOS 499.2303 WIN)
54. Page 8 advertisements column 2. (1921, March 7). The Straits Times, p. 8; Social and personal. (1921, February 18). The Straits Times, p. 8; Kennard, A. (1969, August 4). The trials of District Officer Winstedt. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 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
Winstedt, Richard Olof, Sir, 1878-1966
Colonial administrators
Colonial administrators--Singapore--Biography
Language and literature>>Literatures>>Austronesian and Oceanian literatures>>Malay literature
Personalities>>Biographies>>Colonial Administrators