Passing of BNB Governor who produced first compilation of laws
Published on: Saturday, April 24, 2021
By: British North Borneo Herald
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IT is with great regret that we have learnt of the death of Mr E P Gueritz at his home “Labuan,” Seaton, Devon; in his 84th year. 

With him passes an outstanding Borneo personality of a bygone generation: there can be few left in this country who remember his stalwart and imposing presence. 

Edward Peregrine Gueritz (pic) was born on the 18th December, 1855; and having been educated privately and at St Andrew’s Collegiate School, Stoke Newington, he entered the Sarawak Service, in which he remained from 1874 to 1877 when he left to join the Bank of New Zealand, Christchurch, as Correspondent, subsequently being appointed Accountant in 1878. 

In 1880 he left and came to North Borneo, where he served as Assistant Resident, Kudat, from 1882 to 1884, when he retired on reduction of staff. He then joined the Federated Malay States Service and was appointed Collector of Land Revenue, Sungei Ujong in 1885, later serving as Collector of Land Revenue and Magistrate, Jelebu, from the commencement of the Protectorate until 1890 when he rejoined the North Borneo Service, and was appointed Acting Resident, Province Dent. 

After serving as Acting Government Secretary Mr Gueritz was confirmed in September, 1892 as the Resident of Labuan and Province Dent. 

In 1893 Mr Gueritz returned to England on sick leave and on his return to the State in 1894, was appointed Postmaster-General of North Borneo and Labuan. Thereafter, he successfully held the posts of Editor, British North Borneo Herald, Sessions Judge, Acting Secretary to the Governor, and Acting District Officer and Officer-in-Charge, Native Affairs, Sandakan, until July 1896, when he was appointed the Governor’s Deputy.

From December, 1896, to March, 1897, Mr Gueritz superintended the Public Works Department prior to departure on furlough and on his return in 1898, he was appointed Government Secretary. In April, 1899, Mr Gueritz, Mr Cook and Mr Little were named Commissioners to administer the Government during Governor Beaufort’s absence on leave. 

Mr Gueritz was appointed Judicial Commissioner in 1901 and during his tenure of that office he produced the first compilation of the laws of the State entitled “Proclamations and Notifications of the State of North Borneo, 1883-1902”. 

The appearance of this volume was welcomed not only by Government officers of the State but also by the many non-officials who were often forced to be their own lawyers, to whom the provision of a properly arranged and complete set of the laws in force at that time in the State — the reliability of which was guaranteed by the position of its author — proved a great convenience. 

On his return from furlough in 1908 Mr Gueritz was appointed Deputy Governor and Acting Governor respectively, subsequently receiving the full appointment of Governor and Commander-in-Chief, North Borneo, in October and Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Labuan in addition on December 6th of the same year. Mr Gueritz continued as Governor until 1910 when he went on leave to England where he resigned his appointment on retirement during the following year. 

The early years of an officer’s service are his impressionable years and Mr Gueritz used to say that he learnt everything he knew of administration from his service under the second Rajah of Sarawak. 

This was doubtless an exaggeration, due to his admiration of that great administrator, but Sarawak gave him a good training in outstation work under the patriarchal system of that time, and his service in the Federated Malay States gave him an insight into more modern methods of administration. 

Both experiences stood him in good stead when he became the first member of the North Borneo Civil Service to be appointed Governor of the State. When he was appointed Governor the country’s finances were at low ebb and to him fell the ungrateful task of imposing rigid economy in Government expenditure for some years. 

The State undoubtedly owes much to Mr Gueritz’s skillful government in those early days, under which the country’s prosperity and trade greatly increased, and before he retired he was to see the first great rubber boom and the start of that industry to which the country is chiefly indebted for its present prosperity. 

His departure was marked by universal expressions of appreciation of the skill, fairness and administrative capacity exhibited during his tenure of office as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the State. 

In 1886 Mr Gueritz married Miss Anne Maria Cole, the daughter of Mr Maurice Cole of Paston Hall, Petersborough. There are not many of us left who knew her in this country but those who did will remember her as a charming hostess and a loyal friend. 

There was one daughter of the marriage who subsequently married the late Mr A C Pearson who was later appointed Governor of North Borneo from 1915 to 1922 and again from 1925 to 1926. After the death of his first wife in 1930, Mr Gueritz married again. He is now survived by his second wife and by his daughter, Mrs A C Pearson, to whom we extend the deepest sympathy in their bereavement.

Edward Peregrine Gueritz was Governor from 1904-1911.


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