Talma, Edwy Lyonet

Talma, Edwy Lyonet, commonly known as E. L. Talma, (b. 1 March 1874, Barbados–d. 6 July 1930, Singapore) first came to Malaya in November 1896 and held various appointments in the Malayan Civil Service.1

Early life
Talma was born in Barbados and was educated at Harrison College, Barbados, and Christ College, Cambridge. He obtained his B.A. degree at Cambridge and was admitted to the Inner Temple, London, as member of the English Bar.2 He was a Barbados Scholar in 1891 and fourteenth Wrangler in 1894, and he obtained the Certificate of Honour (Council of Legal Education) in 1912.3

In his younger days he was an esteemed cricketer and represented matches for Malaya, the Colony, Singapore and Penang. He was also a good lawn tennis player and a golfer. He was the first captain of the Racecourse Golf Club, a position he held for a number of years.4

Talma held various appointments in the Malayan Civil Service and was recognised as a brilliant civil servant who had given 30 years of devoted and loyal service to the state. He also sat on the Legislative and Executive Councils. Mr Talma retired from the Malayan Civil Service on 1 April 1924 while holding the post of Deputy Colonial Treasurer. Subsequently, he went into partnership with a Mr Battenberg, forming the legal firm of Messrs Battenberg and Talma. He started his practice as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court from the firm of Battenberg and Talma on 1 January 1924.5

Career history6
Nov 1896: Appointed a Cadet, Straits Settlements.

Jan 1901: Officer, Class V, Malayan Civil Service.
July 1904: Officer, Class IV.
Aug 1907: Secretary, Mohammedan and Hindu Endowment Board.
Aug 1911: Officer, Class III, Civil Service.
Between 1911 and February 1916: Held various appointments in Civil and Criminal Courts in Singapore.
Mar 1916: Officer Class II.
May 1917: On Special duty at Somerset House, Strand.
Nov 1917: Collector of War Tax, Singapore.
Feb 1918: Collector-General of War Tax, Straits Settlements.
Jan 1919: Officer, Class 1B of Malayan Civil Service, and continued to officiate as Collector-General of War Tax, Straits Settlements.
Jan 1920: Appointed Collector General of Income Tax, Straits Settlements.
May 1920: Acting Treasurer, Straits Settlements; Member of Legislative and Executive Councils.
Jan 1922: Appointed Deputy Treasurer, (A), Straits Settlements.
1 Jan 1924: Commenced practice as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court in the firm of Battenberg and Talma.
1 Apr 1924: Retired from Malayan Civil Service.  

He was a distinguished member of the Cambridge University where he was fourteenth wrangler in 1894. Professionally, he was a distinguished and brilliant civil servant who held the high office of Treasurer as well as a competent lawyer who maintained the high traditions of the two different professions. He was highly respected and well loved by his fellow colleagues who offered many tributes on his death.7 He was also one of the leaders of the Eurasian Community. A stretch of road in Lorong 8–12 in Geylang was named Talma Road after Talma.8

Talma died suddenly on 6 July 1930 at 11 am while playing golf at the Race Course Club. He had not been in good health for some time but his death came as a shock and greatly saddened his friends and colleagues. He was buried at the
Bidadari Cemetery in Singapore, officiated by the Reverend J.V. Westlake.9

Zaubidah Mohamed

1. Who’s Who in Malaya, 1925 (Singapore: [s.n.], 1925), 171 (Call no. RRARE 920.9595 WHO; microfilm NL6705); “Sudden Death of Mr. E. L. Talma,” Straits Times, 7 July 1930, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Sudden Death of Mr. E. L. Talma.”
3. Who’s Who in Malaya, 1925, 171.
4. “Sudden Death of Mr. E. L. Talma.”
5. “Sudden Death of Mr. E. L. Talma”; Who’s Who in Malaya, 1925, 171.
6. Who’s Who in Malaya, 1925, 171.
7. “Sudden Death of Mr. E. L. Talma.”
8. S. Durai Raja-Singam, Malayan Street Names: What They Mean and Whom They Commemorate (Ipoh: Mercantile Press, 1939), 143–44. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 RAJ)
9. “Sudden Death of Mr. E. L. Talma.”

Further resource
"Mr E. L. Talma Dead," Malaya Tribune, 7 July 1930, 10. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at July 2019 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. 

Civil service--Singapore--Biography
Talma, Edwy Lyonet, 1874-1930
Colonial administrators