Sunday 1 June 2014

Two Postmaster letters and a return card

Horace Dabell and Gilbert Fenton both had long and distinguished service in the postal department of North Borneo. They both eventually became Post Master General.

Horace Abalone Dabell was the assistant Postmaster General. The letter is self explanatory. The PMG at the time was Cecil Forrester Newton Wade and I think the initials within the green GPO cachet might be his as such stampless official covers, by regulation, should be endorsed by a superior officer.
Dabell went on to be PMG at Jesselton from 1932 to 1934 and also from 1935 to 1938.

CFN Wade          National Archives
I can not find an image of Dabell yet. CFN Wade who was PMG at the time was more well known. He did some very important work for North Borneo philately in the pre and post war periods. 

This is a more grotty specimen even though it was written 20 years later by Gilbert Corelli Fenton who was acting PMG. This time the GPO seal is in black and we also have the Official Paid cancellation. Proud has only one date recorded in his book. This is the other date but other similar covers do exist.
GC Fenton born 1893 was initially appointed as a wireless assistant in January 1921.

This is a rare and very seldom seen reply GB postal stationary card which was returned by Fenton in answer to an enquiry. The stamps referred to were the King George V Silver Jubilee issue of 1935. His signature is abbreviated on this occasion. 

GC Fenton    National Archives

What follows is an attempt to compile a  list of known postmasters and PMGs working in North Borneo. There will be omissions. The district officers in outstations were a jack of all trades which also included acting as lead postman for the area.

Edward Richard Connor
Edward Richard Connor first postmaster of Sandakan in 1883 and probably only for a few months.

TW Allen  postmaster Sandakan 1883.

WR Flint        National Archives
William Raffles Flint  first postmaster Kudat 1883, Sandakan 1884-87. PMG Sandakan GPO 1888, 1900. He was put in temporary charge of the BNB Constabulary in June 1885, also March 1887 and appointed second in command of the constabulary in January 1888 to Captain R D Beeston. That eventually would be his professional preference. 

H B Dunlop  Acting PMG at Sandakan September 1887 while Raffles Flint was on leave. He was employed at the Treasury Department for 3 years before joining Abrahamson & Co as assistant manager in 1888. Came back to take charge of the post office for the second half of 1893.

Henry King Sturdee  PMG and Harbour Master appointed November 1889 to ?December 1892.

P F Wise  Acting PMG July-December 1891.

E F Skertchly Acting PMG  from ?December 1892 to August 1893. Some years later he was the editor of the Hong Kong Telegraph before becoming the editor of the Pinang Gazette.

EP Gueritz     National Archives
Edward Peregrine Gueritz   PMG February 1894 to ?1895. He was more famous for being the Governor of BNB between 1904 to 1911.

WH Penney      National Archives
William Hughes Penney PMG January 1895, 1898, 1900. Acting PMG 1906.

Walter Henry Hastings  Acting PMG March 1899

Richard Scott Atkinson  PMG 1902, 1907, 1914, 1916.

Benjamin Scott Keasberry postmaster Jesselton 1904. previously sub treasurer of Gaya, Gantian and Jesselton and later on the treasurer of Jesselton.

Quee Boon Seah  postmaster Kudat 1905. A chief government clerk and magistrate for many years, he was one of the most prominent Chinese citizens in Kudat.

William Charles Weedon  acting postmaster Jesselton 1905, acting PMG 1917.

P Van Langenberg  postmaster Sandakan January 1903.

George Clerk Irving  Acting Postmaster General Jesselton GPO 1912-13.

Frederick James Moysey acting PMG 1918.

Cecil Forrester Newton Wade PMG 1920, 1924-27, 1929-1931. PMG postwar including 1949.

Horace Abalone Dabell  Ass PMG 1920, 1922-2, 1926, 1928-29, 1931
                                          Acting PMG 1928
                                          PMG 1932, 1935-40

Gilbert Corelli Fenton   Acting Ass PMG 1921, 1923, 1925, 1929, 1931
                                          Acting PMG 1934
                                         PMG from 1940. Letter above says he was Acting PMG in 1939.
Charles Fenton  PMG 1954

It was difficult to find out the exact terms of office. The above dates are the times that they were mentioned as PMG in announcements in the Herald.

References: The BNB Herald & Official Gazette
                      BNB Civil Servants List by Colin Chew


  1. Hi, I have the WW1 medals awarded to George Corelli Fenton so I'd be pleased to hear from anyone who knows more about him.

    1. I wonder whether George Corelli was a sibling of Gilbert Corelli?

  2. As far as I know, George Corelli was not a sibling of Gilbert Corelli - Corelli being Gilbert's middle name, not surname....