Roland Evelyn Turnbull

Sir Roland Evelyn Turnbull KCMG (1905 – 23 December 1960)[1] was a British colonial official and governor of British North Borneo. His major influence is mentoring Brunei's former ruler, SOAS III. He stated that in 1959 to one of his Colonial Office colleagues that the Sultan came to regard him as β€˜his father’.[2]


Turnbull was the son of George Turnbull. He attended King's College London and St John's College, Oxford.[3]


In 1929 Turnbull joined the British Colonial Service as a cadet and was first attached to the District Office at Tampin in Malaya.[3] In 1931 he went to Terengganu as Collector of Land Revenue.[3] In 1933 he became assistant secretary to the High Commissioner in Malaya.[3] In 1934 he was appointed British Resident in Brunei where he remained until going on leave in 1936. From 1937 to 1940 he was attached to the Colonial Secretariat.[3]

From 1940 to 1943 Turnbull was Colonial Secretary in the British Honduras. During the war from 1943 to 1945 he was employed in the Ministry of Defence. Following the war he was Colonial Secretary in Cyprus until 1950. On 9 September 1948, he married Sylvia Emily Woodman Burbidge, a daughter of Sir Richard Woodman Burbidge, 2nd of the Burbidge baronets.[1]

From 1950 to 1953 Turnbull was based in Cape Town while serving as the Chief Secretary and Deputy High Commissioner for Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland (BBS). In his final position he was based in Jesselton as the penultimate Governor of North Borneo from 4 March 1954 until 1959.[4] It was during this time that he appointed Keith Wookey as Resident in 1956 to Sandakan, North Borneo.

Turnbull was invested in 1956 as a Knight Commander in the Order of St Michael and St George.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Sir Roland Evelyn Turnbull". 2006-04-08. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  2. ^ Hussainmiya, B. A., & Mail, A. H. (2014). " No Federation Please-we are Bruneians": Scuttling the Northern Borneo Closer Association Proposals. Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
  3. ^ a b c d e Anon. "Malayan given high post in Br. Honduras". Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 5 April 1940, p.5. National Library, Singapore. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  4. ^ "Chronology of the Constitutional and Political Heads of Sabah". Salleh Said Keruak. Archived from the original on 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Ralph Hone
Governor of North Borneo
Succeeded by
Sir William Goode

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