Henry Gurney

Henry Gurney

Infobox President
honorific-prefix = The Honourable
name =Sir Henry Gurney
honorific-suffix =

order =British High Commissioner in Malaya
term_start =1 October 1948
term_end =6 October 1951
deputy =
predecessor =Sir Edward Gent
successor =Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer
birth_date =birth date|1898|6|27|df=y
birth_place =Poughill, United Kingdom
death_date =death date and age|1951|10|6|1898|6|27|df=y
death_place =Fraser's Hill, British Malaya
spouse =Lady Isabel Lowther Weir
religion =Christian
constituency =
party =
languagesspoken =

Sir Henry Lovell Goldsworthy Gurney KCMG K.St.J. (27 June 1898–6 October 1951) was a British official who was assassinated by communist insurgents during the Malayan Emergency


Gurney was born on 27 June 1898, in Poughill, in Cornwall. [A. J. Stockwell, ‘ [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33611 Gurney, Sir Henry Lovell Goldsworthy (1898–1951)] ’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, October 2006 accessed 21 November 2007] He was the son of G.G.H. Gurney and Florence Gurney. He was educated at Winchester College and University College, Oxford. He married Lady Isabel Lowther Weir in 1924 and they had two sons, Michael and Peter.


He served in the King's Royal Rifle Corps from 1917 to 1920. [LondonGazette|issue=32343|supp=yes|startpage=4388|date=2 June 1921|accessdate=2008-01-02] He joined the Colonial Service and was posted as the Colonial Servant in Kenya, (1921). He also posted as the Assistant Colonial Secretary in Jamaica, (1935), Chief Secretary to the Conference of East Africa Governors, (1938–1944), Colonial Secretary in Gold Coast (1944–1946), Chief Secretary to the Palestine Mandate Government (1946–1948). Gurney became British High Commissioner in Malaya on 13 September 1948.

In the 1947 New Year Honours, he was promoted to Knight Commander (KCMG) of the Order of St Michael and St George, which is the second highest rank in this order — when he represented the British Government as the Chief Secretary to the Palestine Mandate. He had previously been a Companion (CMG) in the same order. [LondonGazette|issue=37835|supp=yes|startpage=1|endpage=3|date=31 December 1946|accessdate=2007-11-30] In 1949 he was made a Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John. [LondonGazette|issue=38804|startpage=60|date=3 January 1950|accessdate=2007-11-30]


On 6 October 1951, he was shot to death on his way back to Fraser's Hill for a meeting; the guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party ambushed his Rolls Royce during the Malayan Emergency period. According to Lady Gurney who was with him at the time, he sacrificed himself to the attackers in order to protect the lives of his wife and the driver. Although he had been a short time in Malaya, his contributions and effort to the Malayans will never fade. He established the Advanced Approved School and the Henry Gurney School in Malacca, as well as many other schools in various Malay States.


Although Gurney was knighted by King George VI, Malayans from all classes and nationalities, having already given him their esteem and affection, kept his memory green, and when he died on 6 October 1951 they would mourn him as a friend who "has gone home to the mercy of God". At that moment, his funeral was not only attended by his family members and British Officers in Malaya but also attended by the Malayans from all classes and races. Today, Gurney Road in Malacca, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are named after him. The town named Pekan Gurney in Perak is also named after him. The popular beachfront Gurney Drive, in Penang, is also named after him, as well as the Henry Gurney Prisoners School in Teluk Mas, Melaka. Gurney was buried at Cheras Christian Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In his tombstone (shown on the right) inscribed with:


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