Contributing to the history of Penang were the father and son team of Alfred DeWindt and Henry Alfred.
Alfred, the son of Thomas, was born in Malacca on 26 March 1844. He quickly rose through the ranks of the British government administration to become Consul of Siam and Agent for the Perak Government. His obituary best describes his ahcievements.
Photo: Thanks to Jackie Ogle
Penang Gazette & Straits Chronicle 26 Oct 1915 Pg 4
Obituary Mr. Alfred De Windt Neubronner.
We deeply regret to record the death of Mr. Alfred DeWindt Neubronner, the father of H. A. Neubronner, which took place at his residence, No. 3, Perak Road, early this morning.
Mr. Neubronner, who was born on the 26 March 1844, was a descendent of a noble German family, which had the right to assume the prefix of Von, and settled in Malacca about four generations ago. He commenced life as Chief Clerk to the Resident Councilor of Malacca, and after some years was transferred to a similar capacity in Penang. He left that office to become Consul for Siam and Agent for the Perak Government. His services were so valued by the Siamese Government that he was at first given the rank of Phra by the late King of Siam and subsequently of Phya Dwip Siamkitch, the highest rank that can be attained by a civilian foreigner. He could speak the Siamese language and was an authority on subjects connected with the Kingdom of the White Elephant. He was also Chief Coroner of this Settlement, which position he held for 25 years.
About a month ago he retired from his position as Consul-General having served the Siamese Government for upwards of 38 years, ceasing to be the Agent of the Perak Government about 5 years ago. Until very recently he was a member of committee of the Penang Free School and the Mahommedan and Hindu Endowment Board. In olden days, he was frequently employed as interpreter by the Straits Government during the Naning War, the Sungei Ujong disturbances and accompanied the members of the Siamese nobility on various occasions to England.
Mr. Neubronner, who was greatly liked by those who came in contact with him, was, in his younger days a very keen sportsman, and a good snipe shot, and was fond of marine fishing, in conjunction with Mr. E. W. Presgrave, Mr. Joe Mathiew of Butterworth, and the late Mr. Malcolm Anthony. His wife was a French lady who had been previously married to a Mr. De Souza and who died in England in 1912.
Mr. Neubronner leaves a son, Mr. H. A. Neubronner, who is the Vice-Consul for Siam and five daughters Mrs. H. W. A. Deterding, Mrs. J. Laird (now in London), Mrs. F. O. Halifax (Stockholm), Mrs. Oechale (Peru) and Miss Hilda Neubronner.
The funeral takes place at the Western Road Cemetery at 5 oclock this afternoon, the cortege leaving his residence, No. 3, Perak Road at 4.30.
Henry Alfred Neubronner (6.6.5 on the Family Tree)
Alfred's son Henry Alfred was born in Malacca on 19 April 1871. As a young boy, he was sent to London for his education and eventually emerged as a Fellow of the Rolay Institute of British Architects in 1899. He returned to Penang to become one of the most renowned architects designing and building many of Penangs most historic bulidings such as the Kapitan Keling Mosque, The Hong Kong and Shanghi Bank and the Bank of the Netherlands Trading Society known later as ABN AMRO and even later as the South China Cafe.
Photo: Thanks to Glynnis Neubronner (126.96.36.199.2 on the Family Tree)
Some of his other works were:
1900-1905: Several dwelling houses for European & Chinese & Malay Nobility in Penang & Kedah.
1907: New Chinese School - on pile foundations Penang.
1908: New Cricket Pavilion for Penang Cricket Club.
1908: Resident Manager's house - The Charted Bank of India, Australia & China - Penang.
1909: Reconstruction & alterations to Penang Golf Clubhouse.
1909: Resident Manager's house - The Mercantile Bank of India - Penang.
1910: Commemorative Monument for the Armenian Community - Penang.
1902-1911: Alterations and additions to the Eastern Oriental Hotel - Penang and The Grand Hotel - Ipoh.
(Data: Thanks to Royal Institute of British Architects Records. London)
Extract from Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya (1908) by Arnold Wright & H.A. Cartwright: Pg 751
"Mr. Henry Alfred Neubronner. Distinguished alike in his profession as an architect and in social and sporting circles, Mr. H. A. Neubronner is one of the most popular men in Penang today. He is the only son of Alfred Dewind Neubronner and was born in Malacca in 1872 (1871). He was educated at Alexandra Park College, North London and by a private tutor in the metropolis and at Lowestoft, and before he qualified for an Assistant Surveyorship at H. M. Office of works, London, he passed the qualifying examination as a Professional Associate of the Surveyors Institution and later, the Associate Examination of the Royal Institute of Architects. After practicing for some time in London, Mr. Neubronner came out to Penang, where he was attached to the Siamese Consulate. Later, in conjunction with Mr. Alan Wilson, he established the firm of Wilson & Neubronner architects and civil engineers. Most of the principal public buildings and private mansions in the settlement have been designed and their construction superintended by his firm. He is a member of the Royal Society Club, St. Jamess, London, and of all local clubs. Since his boyhood he has been a keen cricketer. When only nine years old he played for Alexandra Park College, and very quickly got into the first eleven of the school. He also played football for that Institution and later for the Clapham Rovers and Civil Service (Association). He gained his Middlesex County badge in 1897, and played right-forward in the English team against France at Paris in 1898. Since 1899, he played for Pinang both at football and cricket, and has taken part in practically all the inter-settlement and inter-State matches, captaining on two occasions, teams representing Pinang. Mr. Neubronner is also an excellent tennis player, having been runner-up for the championship of Pinang on three occasions. In golf, gymnastics, billiards and swimming matches, he has figured as a prizewinner, and has also met with success as a runner at athletic sports. At one time he was senior non-commissioned officer in the Pinang Volunteer Corps, and is now on the Reserve. In 1902, 1904 and 1906 he won the rifle championship, besides numerous other trophies; attended the Hythe School of Musketry, and passed out with distinction; and in 1905 reached the second stage in the competition for the Kings Prize at Bisley. As further showing the scope of Mr. Neubronners tastes, it may be added that he is a member of the Pinang Hunt Club, the Choral and Orchestral Society, and the Dramatic Society. He possesses an exceptionally good high baritone voice. As a member of the Pinang "Impressionists" he gained first honours in water-colours for his pictures "Desolation," "A Malay Settlement," and "Sunset Glow." Mr. Neubronner is Vice-Consul for Siam, and resides in Perak Road."
Catherine (Kate) Louisa Deterding nee Neubronner
Born in Malacca on 6.5.1872.At age 22 she married Henri Wilhelm August Deterding
Wedding In Penang Daily Advertiser, 27 July 1894 pg 3
“On Saturday afternoon at St. George’s Church, the wedding took place of Mr. H. W. A. Deterding, Agent in Penang for the Netherland Trading Society, with Miss Kate Neubronner, third daughter of Mr. A. D. Neubronner J.P., Consul for Siam. The Rev. L. C. Biggs, Colonial Chaplain, officiated, and the service, which was fully choral, was taken part in by a specially selected choir of friends of the bride and bridegroom. The Church which had been prettily decorated for the occasion, was filled during the ceremony by a large and representative company, amongst whom were the Hon. Dr. Brown, Mr. Kruijt, Consul General for the Netherlands, Major and Mrs. Day and the Officers of H. N. M’s. gunboat Batavia and Satelliet. Punctually at half past three the bride arrived and, leaning on the arm of her father and attended by her two sisters, Miss Neubronner and Miss Dollie Neubronner, walked up the aisle preceded by the choir singing the beautiful wedding hymn, “The voice that breathed o’er Eden.” At the chancel she was joined by the bridegroom, accompanied by Mr. G. H. Slot, as best man. The service was then proceeded with and soon the happy pair were leaving the Church, while the organ pended forth the stirring strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. The bride looked very sweet in a gown and train of white duchess satin, with tulle veil and wreath of orange blossoms. She wore no jewels, but carried a lovely shower bouquet of orchids and stephanotis. The bridesmaids were charmingly dressed in silver grey and blue frocks with hats to match. The carried bouquets of blush roses and wore gold and pearl brooches, the gift of the bridegroom. The brides mother and sister (Mrs. Laird) were also most becomingly dressed, all the costumes indeed being both handsome and effective. A reception was afterwards held at “Hill View” by Mrs. Neubronner, which was largely attended. Mr. Kruijt, in a happy and amusing speech, proposed the health of the newly married couple, which was warmly responded to, and soon afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Deterding, amid a shower of rice and good wishes, left for “The Highlands” where a short stay will be made. After their departure, the weather being all that could be desired, the guests proceeded to the lawn, where to the fine music of the Penang Band, dancing was engaged in and kept up with great spirit until the shades of night compelled everyone reluctantly to leave, hoping at the same time to return before long to take part in another similar event. The presents it may be said were numerous and handsome and particularly useful.” Pianag Gazette
Extracted from ‘From Allotment Field to Heaven’s Gate’ by Teresa Collins and Jane Valsler (2008) pp 21-24
Chapter 3: The Church that Kate Built
With tourism rapidly developing and many people deciding to make permanent homes in the town, the congregation at St Joseph's Chapel grew. Less than a year after the chapel opened, attendance had exceeded all expectations. In September 1909, Fr Carter received a letter from Bishop Keating giving him permission to build a church adjoining the chapel. The Bishop told him that it must be erected debt free, with the contractual details and money entirely Fr Carter's responsibility. The plot of land that had been purchased in 1906 was more than large enough for this church and work began in the winter of 1909.
The generosity of Catherine Louise Deterding (1872-1916) was kept a secret during Fr Carter's lifetime and it is only now that the full extent of her support can be acknowledged. Known in the family as Kate, she was the third daughter of Alfred de DeWindt Neubronner (Consul General for Siam and Agent for the Perak Government) and Angelique Marie DeSouza, a French widow (nee Arnott). Kate was born in Penang, an island off the northwestern coast of the Malaysia peninsular, where her home was Perak House.
An ancestor, Johann Anton Neubronner, had settled in Malacca in 1789 when it was under Dutch rule. Between 1832 and 1957 Penang was under British Colonial rule and part of the Straits Settlement, along with Malacca and Singapore. It was a major trading post for tea, spices, and cloth.
Henri Wilhelm August Deterding (1866-1939), the son of a Dutch sea captain, married Kate in July1894. Henri began his career in banking but left Holland in 1884 to work for the Netherlands Trading Society in Deli, Medan and Penang. It was in Penang that Henri met Kate. He joined The Royal Dutch Company for the Working of Petroleum Wells in the Dutch East Indies, in 1896.
Henri and Kate returned to Holland from the Dutch East Indies in 1899. Henri became the Managing Director of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company in 1900 and two years later the Managing Director of a huge new trading organisation, the Asiatic Petroleum Company. This consisted of the Royal Dutch Company, Shell and the Rothschild's oil group. In 1902 he moved to England with Kate and their three children, Adolphine, known as Dolly (born 1895), Henry (born 1897), and Ronald (born 1900). Their first home was at Sydenham in London, later moving to Beckenham in Kent.
Henri liked horses and hunting, becoming master of the Old Surrey Hunt. He also enjoyed shooting, so weekends and holidays were spent in Norfolk, considered one of the best counties for this. Henri decided that he would like a country house and in 1907 agreed to buy the Kelling Estate in Norfolk, with the sale finalised in 1908 at a cost of £16,000. He acquired with it the ancient title of Lord of the Manor of Kelling and Salthouse. In the same year he became the first Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell.
Henri decided to rebuild Kelling Hall (right), the family using Beck House in the village while this was happening. The plans, by the architect Edward Brantwood Maufe (1883-1974), for the new hall were completed by the end of 1911 and in early 1914 the family moved in. It became their permanent residence.
Henri was an extremely wealthy and a very generous man, a believing Christian but not aligned to a particular denomination. Kate had money of her own, her death certificate indicating that she was of 'independent means'. Kate was therefore able to pay for the land and then finance the building of St Joseph's Chapel, the house called 'The Close', the church, the school and the presbytery. The cost must have been in the region of £25,000" a century ago, a sum approaching £2,000,000 in 2008.
Kate is believed by the Deterding family to have had some sort of second sight. G. Roberts author of ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World. The Life of Sir Henri Deterding’ (1976) pp385-6 relates that Henri regularly commuted between London and the Royal Dutch Offices at The Hague. On 21 February 1907, he was due to sail from Harwich to the Hook of Holland on the steamer 'Berlin'. Kate became concerned about this trip and phoned Henri throughout the day, telling him that she had a feeling that something terrible would happen to him if he made that particular journey. Although Henri dismissed her fears, he finally agreed to delay sailing until the following day. That night the Berlin was wrecked at the entrance to the New Waterway off the Hook of Holland with the loss of one hundred and twenty eight lives. Henry believed that Kate had saved his life.
(pp 30-33) Kate Deterding regularly attended St Joseph's, sometimes with her Mother and her younger sister Hilda, who lived for a time in Sheringham. Kate appears to have been a strong, assertive woman, very affectionate towards her children and sensitive to the pressures of her husband's work. Fr Carter and his sisters often visited the Deterdings at Kelling Hall.
Kate's ancestor Johann Anton Neubronner was originally a Calvinist, but adapted to the Dutch Reformed Church because the Dutch were dominant in Malacca. As time passed some Neubronners became Catholics, others became Anglican. In February 1916 she states `I have been feeling busy about my religion' and towards the end of the month she began weekly instruction in the Roman Catholic Faith from Fr Carter. Kate was received into the Catholic Church on 18 April 1916.
Photo taken at Kelling Hall. Holt, Norfolk, England in Spring 1916 courtesy of Terri Collins: Standing: Fr Carter, Kate, Henri, Hilda (Kate's sister).
Seated: Adolphine (Dolly, Kate's daughter), Mary McArdle (Fr Carter's niece), Cissy King (Fr Carter's elder sister), unknown lady & gentleman.
After her baptism she wrote 'Hilda gave me a rosary and Father Carter blessed it for me. I felt very happy.'
Just three weeks later on 10 May 1916, Kate tragically died. She fell on Kelling Hall garden steps while running to fetch some roses for visitors who were leaving. She ruptured her spleen and although a doctor operated on her in the kitchen at Kelling Hall, he could not save her life. Kate's last words 'Patience, patience the world is nothing. Children do not neglect God' are inscribed on her grave.
Her grave was marked by an ornate headstone with the inscriptions: "who wished her resting place to be near the Church she loved so much" and "Patience, patience, the world is nothing. Children do not neglect God" (her final words)….”