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John Wistar Shaw

Sir John Valentine Wistar Shaw KCMG

Fourteenth Governor of Trinidad and Tobago

Born in Derby on the 14th February 1894. 

Died 1982 in Hastings, Sussex.

He was a British colonial administrator.

He was educated at Repton, and in the First World War did military service from 1914 to 1919.

He then joined the Colonial Administrative Service.


Gold Coast

  • Assistant District Commissioner, 1921–1925

  • District Commissioner, 1925 -1928

  • Assistant Secretary, 1928–1935 Palestine

  • Assistant Secretary, 1935–1938

  • Senior Assistant Secretary, 1938–1939

  • Departmental Chief Secretary, 1939–1940 Cyprus

  • Colonial Secretary 1940–1943 Palestine

  • Chief Secretary 1943 Palestine and Cyprus

  • Acting Governor, Cyprus and Acting High Commissioner for Palestine for several periods, 1940–1946.

Honours and legacy

Shaw was awarded the CMG in 1942, became Knight Bachelor in 1946, and KCMG in 1947. His papers are held by the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House, with additional itemsat the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds.

He worked for the British administration in Palestine between 1935 and 1940.

Then served in Cyprus in 1943, after which he returned to Palestine as Chief Secretary to the Government of Palestine. He also served as High Commissioner for Palestine after the departure of Harold Mac Michael.

On the 22nd July 1946 after the bombing of the King David Hotel, By the members of a Jewish terrorist organisation the Irgun Tsvai Leumi.

The hotel was the base for the British military command in Palestine and the British Criminal Investigation Division. The southern wing of the hotel was completely demolished and 91 people were killed (28 British, 41 Arab, 17 Jewish and 5 others, with 45 injured)


He survived but felt unable to continue work and was sent to London to rest. When he returned to Palestine he was being targeted, so he left the country secretly in September and was succeeded by Henry Gurney.

Months after the bombing he was appointed High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago, a letter was sent by Irgun Zvai Leumi to bomb him there but it was successfully intercepted and disarmed.

He was appointed Governor and Commander in Chief from 1947 to 1950.

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