Kennedy Gordon Phillip Tregonning

Kennedy Gordon Phillip Tregonning was an Australian academic who taught at the University of Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. Tregonning was born in Australia to a medical doctor, Donald Rupert Charles, and his wife. He was
one of three sons, and all three boys attended the Christ Church Grammar School and Hale School in Western Australia. Tregonning left school in 1941 and joined the army, and later, the Royal Australian Air Force. After World War II, Tregonning resumed his education, enrolling in Adelaide University. He graduated with honours in Political Science and History in 1949, and went on to become a history lecturer at the University. In 1950, Tregonning went to New College, Oxford on a Gowrie Scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Letters, and completed his third-year research on a Nuffield Scholarship.

After completing his postgraduate studies, Tregonning joined the University of Malaya in Singapore as a lecturer in the History department. He lectured on modern Southeast Asia. In 1959, he succeeded Cyril Northcote Parkinson as the Raffles Professor of History. Tregonning’s students included Chiang Hai Ding (historian, Singapore Member of Parliament), Wong Lin Ken (historian, Singapore Member of Parliament), Lau Teik Soon (Singapore Member of Parliament) and Joseph Conceicao (Singapore Member of Parliament).

In 1959, while he was head of the History department, Tregonning became the first person to be awarded a PhD by the University of Malaya under its new constitution. In 1960, he founded the Journal of Southeast Asian History (renamed the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies ten years later). Besides teaching, Tregonning researched and wrote major publications concerning the history of Southeast Asia and Singapore. They included North Borneo under Chartered Company Rule: North Borneo, 1881-1946, Straits Tin: A Brief Account of the First Seventy-five Years of the Straits Trading.