Sir Alexander William George Herder Grantham, GCMG (Chinese: 葛量洪; 1899–1978) was a British colonial administrator who governed Hong Kong and Fiji.
Early life, colonial administration career
Grantham was born on 15 March 1899 and was educated at Wellington, the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and Pembroke College, Cambridge.
He was gazetted in the 18th Hussars in 1917 and joined the Colonial Administrative Service in Hong Kong in 1922. He was the Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong for a short period in 1933. In 1934, he was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple and attended the Imperial Defence College later that year.
Grantham became Colonial Secretary of Bermuda from 1935 to 1938, and of Jamaica from 1938 to 1941. He then served as Chief Secretary of Nigeria from 1941 to 1944 and as Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner for the Western Pacific from 1945 to 1947.
Immediately after his tenure as High Commissioner ended, he became Governor of Hong Kong, until 1957. He opposed his predecessor, Sir Mark Young's proposal of expanding social services on the grounds that the local Chinese population cared little about social welfare. Instead, he proposed the election of Unofficial members of the Legislative Council among British subjects only with the Governor holding reserved power to override LegCo decisions.
Legacy of governorship
His tenure marked the beginning of a unitary housing policy by the Hong Kong Government. In December 1953, a fire burned down a large slum area in Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon, killing nine and leaving many homeless. It was under Grantham's administration that the government began to build settlement houses for the homeless. From that point on, the government was deeply involved in low-cost public housing programmes that allowed many Hong Kong people who could not afford to own a flat to live in government-owned housing estates at relatively low cost. The housing programme eventually evolved over time to allow people to buy low-cost housing and receive favourable loans to buy their own houses.
Grantham grew up partly in Tientsin where his father practiced Law, both his father and brother was killed in World War I. His mother then remarried Johan Wilhelm Normann Munthe and the family moved tho Beijing. He was married twice. His first marriage, in 1925, was to the well-travelled Maurine Samson, daughter of the late Amos Roland Samson and Liberty "Libby" Cole (Neal) of Champaign County, Illinois. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, she had lived in Boise, Seattle, San Francisco and Honolulu before their marriage. The Governor's official yacht, a Hong Kong health clinic and a locomotive were all named "Lady Maurine" after her. After she died in 1970, Grantham married Mrs M. E. Lumley in 1972. Grantham died on 4 October 1978.
Places/facilities named after him
- Alexander Grantham (1965). Via ports, from Hong Kong to Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press.