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28 Jan 2022
updated 28 Jan 2022


John Annan Bryce
(1841/4 – 25 Jun 1923/4)

John Annan Bryce was born into a Protestant family in Belfast but they moved to Edinburgh while he was still at an early age. He was the younger brother of Lord Bryce, one-time Chief Secretary for Ireland and later British Ambassador to the US.

He was educated at Eton, thereafter graduating MA from the University of Glasgow in 1866 and BA from Balliol College (University of Oxford) in 1872 – possibly implying that he was a Snell Exhibitioner.

After completing his education he went to Rangoon in 1875 in pursuit of a career in commerce. He sat on the Legislative Council of Burma as a member and, later, Chairman of the Rangoon Chamber of Commerce and, being of an adventurous spirit, during his time there embarked on a number of explorations into unknown regions of Burma and Upper Siam. The results of his explorations were communicated to the Royal Geographical Society and he sat for two terms on the Council of that Society.

He moved to India in 1883 where he was head of a large commercial concern in Bombay. He subsequently decided on a political career and in 1906 was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Inverness Burghs but lost his seat as a result of the redistribution of constituencies in Scotland in 1918.

Although as an MP he had been a firm supporter of Home Rule for Ireland, he was very much of the British establishment, being a director of the Westminster Bank, the Bombay, Baroda and Burma railway companies, the English, Scottish, and Australian Bank, and the Atlas Assurance Company as well as being Chairman of the British Westinghouse Company.

The story of the Bryces – Annan and his wife Violet – and their magnificent obsession with a small island far far away, is to be told in this Connection.