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l-'oiinder of Singapore. 
photographed by Emery Walker from the picture in the National Portrait Gallery, 

[i. Frontispiece 














All Rights Reserved 

The Merchants and the Factors and the long-forgotten 

Who sowed the seed of Empire in a rudely furrowed sod ; 
The race of trader-statesmen and the clan of trader-fighters 

Who laid the lines of order by the grace and will of God, 
The sons from these descended, with the peoples in their 


The men who bear the burden of this heritage to-day, 
Each toiler in the noonday with his heart amid the reaping. 
To these and those that watch them do I dedicate this lay. 

J. A. N. 


The writing of the articles in this book has been a 
labour of love : how great a labour only those who have 
worked in Singapore and have had occasion to rummage 
in the scrap-heap of its history can realise. Here there 
is no dolce far niente such as the home-staying English- 
man imagines the East to grant. All are busy men, 
whose days are too full of work, and whose hours of 
rest and recreation are none too many. Year in, year 
out, the Government and mercantile offices are open, 
the Courts sit, the newspapers go to press. Even the 
public holidays are only so nominally for most men, 
and the private holiday is merged into the long leave 
to which we all look forward. We have no cultured 
class with ample leisure to spare for making an exhaus- 
tive chronicle of the past, so that it was obvious that 
the only way to get the history written was to divide 
it into articles and call for volunteers. It has been our 
good fortune that so representative a number of authors 
have been public-spirited enough to turn their leisure 
hours into more work, and to them the Committee 
responsible for the history tender their heartiest thanks, 
confident that the general public interested in the welfare 
of the town will add their mead of praise. 

Such a method of compiling a history of a hundred 
years of varying civic, public, and social life of a number 
of communities such as Singapore contains must neces- 
sarily lead to some lack of proportion between the 



contributions of the enthusiasts in the subjects dealt 
with. Also the amount of matter to be considered, and 
appropriate illustrations, grew enormously as the process 
of compilation went on. The Editors' task of eliminating 
was greater than that of compiling, and they are con- 
scious that the necessary limits of the work and the 
cost of production have had to influence their decision 
as to what could go in. Nevertheless, they hope that 
no aspect of the Colony's life has been omitted. The 
history of the Chinese community is to be more fully 
dealt with in a separate publication now being written 
by Mr. Song Ong Siang, and the article in this work 
is but a very short summary of the history of the hundred 
years of the Chinese in the Straits. The same enforced 
brevity applies to other communities, whose records are 
not easy to obtain. 

The Committee which undertook the work consisted 
of Mr. W. George Maxwell, C.M.G., the Honourable 
Mr. F. M. EHiot, O.B.E., Mr. Song Ong Siang, Mr. C. 
Bazell, the Rev. W. Murray, and the three Editors. 
Its thanks are due to the Government of the Straits 
Settlements for financial assistance and for a ready 
access to Colonial records. Many have assisted with 
their recollections and with advice, and have freely lent 
material for the illustrations. Though it is perhaps 
invidious to mention names, especial thanks are due to 
Mr. Elliot for the use of the blocks which illustrated 
Mr. Buckley's Anecdotal History ; to Mrs. G. P. Owen 
and Mr. A. W. Bean, whose unique collections of photo- 
graphs have been an inexhaustible mine ; to Mr. W. E. 
Hooper; to Mr. M. Rodesse ; to Mr. R. W. Braddell for 
the loan of his unique collection of caricatures ; and to 
the heads of the mercantile firms who have helped in 
the difficult work of tracing the history of the firms. 
Mr. H. N. Buckeridge and Mr. Hibiya have been of 
the greatest assistance in preparing the photographs for 
the illustrations. 


Finally, the Committee was most fortunate in having 
the assistance and co-operation of the London Sub- 
Committee, Mr. T. H. Reid, Mr. G. Brinkworth, and 
Major St. Clair, and in finding Mr. Murray willing to 
lend the prestige of his house to the enterprise. 

Walter Makepeace. 
Gilbert E. Brooke. 
Roland St. J. Braddell. 


August 1919. 






Singapore Prior to 1819, by C. O. Blagden, M.A., Reader 

in Malay, University of London . . . . . i 

The Foundation of the Settlement, by C. O. Blagden . 5 
A Short History of the Colony, by Roland St. J. 

Braddell ........ 12 



By the Rev. William Cross, M.A. 32 



Some Account of our Governors and Civil Service, by 

Bernard Nunn, Resident of Malacca . . . .69 

The Legislative Council, by Walter Makepeace . . 149 



Law and the Lawyers, by Roland St. J. Braddell . 160 

Crime. Its Punishment and Prevention, by Roland 

St. J. Braddell ....... 244 

Piracy, by Dr. Gilbert E. Brooke ..... 290 





By James Lornie, Collector of Land Revenue, Singapore . 301 



By F. J. Hallifax, formerly President of the Municipal 

Commissioners, Singapore . . . . . • 3^5 



Inhabitants and Population, by Hayes Marriott, Acting 

Colonial Secretary, Straits Settlements . . . 341 

The Eurasians of Singapore, by A. H. Carlos . . 363 

The Chinese of Singapore ...... 374 

Singapore's military history 

Singapore Defences, by Walter Makepeace . . . 377 
Singapore Volunteers, by Lieut. -Colonel G. A. Derrick, 

C.B.E., V.D., Commandant S.V.C 384 

Eurasian Volunteers, by A. H. Carlos . . . 392 

Volunteer Recollections, by Walter Makepeace. . 394 

The Military Contribution, by Walter Makepeace . 399 

Early Volunteering and Shooting, by Walter Makepeace 402 
Singapore and the Great War, by W. Bartley, of the 

Straits Settlements Civil Service 405 


education in SINGAPORE 
By C. Bazell, formerly of the Education Department . . 427 





Scientific Observations and Records, by Dr. Gilbert E. 

Brooke ......... 477 

Medical Work and Institutions, by Dr. Gilbert E:Brooke 487 
Raffles Library and Museum, Singapore, by Dr. R. 

Hanitsch, Ph.D., formerly Director .... 5^9 

Dr. R. Hanitsch ........ 567 

Archaeological and Heraldic Notes, by Dr. Gilbert E. 

Brooke ......... 567 



By Walter Makepeace 

Early Days — Charles Wishart — Sir Harry Keppel — 

William Cloughton — Pilots 578 








Vanity Fair Cartoon by R. W. Braddell. 

From a sketch by Lieut. Begbie. 

Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 

Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 

Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 
From a painting by himself. 

Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 

Caricature by R. W. Braddell. 
























STEPS ........ 

the river and old ellenborough market in the 

dalhousie pier and the old town hall, where the muni 

cipal offices were until 1893 


CHETTY (moneylender) 



THE S.V.A., circ. 1895 


pearl's hill AND SURROUNDINGS, 





DR. R. HANITSCH, PH.D. .... 









By C. O. Blagden, M.A., Reader in Malay, 
University of London 

To write a history of the old Singapura would be some- 
thing like the task imposed upon the children of Israel 
by Pharaoh : for where should one seek the straw to 
make those bricks with ? What has come down to us 
in the form of Malay tradition, written and unwritten, 
cannot be traced back beyond the sixteenth century, 
when the place had long been nothing but a distant 
memory. We need not, therefore, wonder that the 
material is hopelessly mixed up with myth and legend, 
affording no sure foothold for historical reconstruction. 
The most that can be done is to focus the few scattered 
gleams of evidence into a thin ray that may shed some 
feeble light upon the obscurity of the past, while setting 
in its true perspective the little that is really known on 
the subject. At bottom, Singapore is but a phase in a 
long process of evolution often deflected by outside 
influences and interrupted by catastrophic changes. 

The essence of it all was the command of the interna- 
tional trade-route between East and West, from Indo- 
I — 2 


nesia and China to India, Persia, and Arabia, and vice 
versa, which ran immemorially through the Straits. 
Even in the second century of our era Ptolemy notes 
names of Indian origin on the coasts of that region, 
given no doubt by Indian seafarers, some of whom be- 
came settlers, and eventually founded small Hindu and 
Buddhist states. When the veil is again partially lifted, 
we find in the seventh century one such State in 
Southern Sumatra, with its capital at or near Palem- 
bang. Its Buddhist rulers bearing the dynastic title 
of Maharaja are repeatedly mentioned by Arab travellers 
and geographers, and for centuries the State kept up 
close commercial and diplomatic relations with China, 
which are duly recorded in Chinese histories. Soon 
extending their sway over the Sumatran homeland of the 
Malays, properly so called, to the north-west of their 
capital, the kings of Palembang by degrees possessed 
themselves of out-stations far up the Straits, to Achin 
Head on the one side and what is now Lower Siam on 
the other. By methods which we should call piratical 
they took toll of all the trade that passed that way. 
Every vessel had to come into one or other of their 
ports, or take the alternative risk of being attacked in 
the narrow seas. As a matter of fact, they were practi- 
cally forced by circumstances to come in somewhere. 
The produce of the Far East was brought down by the 
north-east monsoon, that of the West by the south-west 
monsoon. The exigencies of barter, coupled with the 
slowness of navigation in those early days, made an 
exchange depot a necessity, and the Straits were by 
nature predestined to that end. 

The only question was as to where, precisely, that mart 
should be located. In early days Kedah, one of Palem- 
bang's most important out-stations, which had long been 
a port of call for navigators from India, was also ap- 
parently the favourite one from the Persian and Arab 
point of view. But the Chinese were induced or com- 
pelled to put in at Palembang on their way, and thither 
also went many traders from Western Asia, though it 


made their journey longer. But wherever they went, 
Palembang took its toll of their merchandise. 

For five or six centuries this state of things went on. 
In spite of occasional attacks on the part of the Javanese 
and the great Tamil dynasty of Coromandel, Palembang 
continued to hold its own, and dominated the entire 
region of the Straits. But fairly early in the thirteenth 
century we find evidences of impending trouble : the 
Palembang Empire begins to dissolve, partly perhaps 
from internal causes, partly under pressure from without. 
Already one or two of its out-stations or vassal states had 
begun to set up their independence : an instance is 
given by the Chinese writer Chau Ju Kua about a.d. 
1225. Towards the close of the same century, there 
arose in the north of Sumatra a little cloud, which was to 
grow ere long into a mighty storm and sweep the Archi- 
pelago. The North Sumatran settlements were adopt- 
ing Islam. Before venturing upon such a radical change, 
they must have practically slipped away from the over- 
lordship of the South. Meanwhile, in the far north of 
the Peninsula, and on the isthmus leading to it, even 
worse things were happening. The Siamese power had 
overcome the Cambojan kingdom, and was pressing down 
upon the Malay outposts in the region of Ligor. The days 
of the Maharaja's Empire were manifestly numbered. 

It is somewhere in this period, between a.d. 1250 
and 1 300, that we must, I think, conceive of Singapore 
starting upon its brief career of independent existence. 
How long it may have been a port of call before that 
time we do not know. The old native name of the place 
was Temasek, or Tumasik as the Javanese records spell 
it. Singapura was its Indian title, conferred upon it, 
no doubt, in reminiscence of some other " Lion City " in 
Kalinga or elsewhere. The legends which grew up 
around its name and fate are embodied in Malay litera- 
ture, but are not worth repeating or discussing here. 
We may infer from them that for a century or more it 
was a flourishing port ruled by kings of its own, who may 
have been descendants of the Palembang house. We 


learn from Chinese sources that early in the fourteenth 
century a Siamese naval expedition failed to take the 
place. Later on, somewhere about a.d. 1377, it was 
raided and devastated by the Javanese of Majapahit, 
who at that time conquered a considerable part of the 
Archipelago. But they did not apparently think it 
worth while to occupy the place permanently, and so it 
lapsed into insignificance and obscurity, being completely 
eclipsed by the new emporium of Malacca, of which 
Singapore now became an unimportant out-station. 
Towards the end of the fifteenth century we find mention 
of a governor of Singapore who was late in coming to 
make his obeisance to his sovereign lord the Sultan 
of Malacca, and was executed as a traitor accordingly. 
In the early part of the seventeenth century, when the 
Portuguese had long been masters of Malacca, and its 
Malay dynasty had fled and established itself in Johore, 
there was a harbour master (Shahbandar) at Singapore, 
which seems to indicate that at any rate a certain 
amount of trade found its way there. But the fame of the 
old town survived its importance, and the circumstances 
of its tragic fall left a deep impression on the Malay mind. 
It can never have been a very big place. When it 
was refounded in the nineteenth century, few traces of 
its former existence were discovered , and they were not 
such as to indicate any great importance. Local tradi- 
tion still pointed to the hill, now occupied by Fort 
Canning, on which the old palace of the Rajas had stood, 
and which no local Malay even then dared to ascend. 
But perhaps the only surviving relic that might have 
proved to be of historical value was a much-weathered 
inscription on a rock near the mouth of the Singapore 
River, which was wantonly destroyed a few years later 
by a vandal at the head of the Public Works Depart- 
ment. Some of the fragments were recovered and sent 
to the Calcutta Museum,' where all trace of them has 

» The Editors have been successful in securing, through Dr. Hanitsch's 
kindness, a photograph of a fragment of the Calcutta stone, which is 
reproduced on the opposite page. 


now, it seems, been lost. So that clue, if it really was 
one, is gone for ever. 

In the history of the Straits, which in essentials is the 
story of the rise and fall of successive commercial 
emporia, there is a sort of irregular periodicity. From 
very early days, Kedah, at the northern end, was the 
outstanding port of call, and such it remained, under the 
suzerainty of Palembang, probabl}' till about the middle 
of the thirteenth century. Then the pendulum swings 
to the southern end of the Straits, and for a century or 
so Singapore, soon becoming independent of Palembang, 
seems to have been in a fair way to make good its natural 
geographical claim as the predestined trading depot of 
this region. But it had rivals in the small ports of 
Northern Sumatra, which now also emancipated them- 
selves. Then came the disastrous Javanese conquest, 
and the pendulum swung again, but this time haltingly, 
only as far as Malacca. Malacca may already have had 
a fairly long existence as a port, but there is not much 
evidence of it. It now held its own for nearly four 
centuries. Then, towards the end of the eighteenth 
century, Penang, the modern representative of Kedah, 
was founded, and soon began to take the lead. A few 
years later the refounding of Singapore once more 
brought the commercial centre of gravity down to the 
southern end of the Straits. 

It is a chequered story, and looking back upon it we 
see how through it all two contending forces have been 
at work. On the one hand, natural physical advantages 
of position, and on the other, political considerations. 
Powers outside the Straits — Palembang in early days, 
Majapahit in the fourteenth century, Batavia in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth — in turn disturbed the normal 
course of development that would have flowed naturally 
from the physical conditions. It has been reserved for 
our own times to create a freedom of trade which has 
given the geographical advantages of Singapore their 
full scope. The moral is plain for all to draw, and needs 
no comment here. 



By C. O. Blagden, M.A., Reader in Malay, 
University of London 

To anyone in touch with Malay traditions and local 
history, as Sir Stamford Raffles was, the existence of 
the old port of Singapura must have been a familiar 
fact. It is the peculiar merit of the new founder that, 
he applied this piece of common knowledge to the 
special requirements of his own time. The refounding 
of Singapore resembles in some degree the incident of 
Columbus and the egg : another man might have done it 
equally well, but did not. Already in the year 1 703 the 
travelling Scot, Alexander Hamilton, had had the place 
offered to him as a gift by the then Sultan of Johore, and 
remarked, with characteristic prudence and foresight, 
that " it could be of no use to a private person, tho' a 
proper place for a company to settle a colony in, lying 
in the center of trade, and being accommodated with good 
rivers and safe harbours, so conveniently situated that 
all winds served shipping, both to go out and come in." 

In 1 81 8 the position of affairs in the Straits and the 
Far East was a critical one for the British East India 
Company. Under the treaties which were framed after 
the Great War of those days, we had agreed to restore 
to the Dutch, in substance, their great island empire 
which during that war we had captured from them and 
from the French, the temporary masters of the Nether- 
lands. In that retrocession Malacca and its dependencies 
were comprised, and Malacca was, in fact, transferred 
on the 2 1 St September 181 8. The change meant that, 
unless something were promptly done, the Straits would 
fall under the command of the Dutch, and British trade 
would again be excluded from the Eastern Archipelago. 
Raffles saw the danger, and was determined to strain 
every nerve and stretch every point in order to prevent 
such a catastrophe. From the Government of Bengal 
he succeeded in obtaining for himself a commission to 
look out for a port to the south of Malacca which should 


serve as an emporium for British trade after Malacca 
was given up. The Governor-General, in granting the 
commission, hedged it in with a careful proviso against 
doing anything that would raise objections on the part 
of the Dutch authorities. As a subordinate govern- 
ment, Calcutta could not take it upon itself to thwart 
the policy of Westminster. 

There are, however, occasions on which a Nelson will 
put his blind eye to the telescope, and at the decisive 
moment Raffles determined to follow that recent prece- 
dent. Indeed, it is difficult to see how he could have 
carried out the main object of his instructions without 
in some degree infringing them in the letter : for the 
two things were incompatible. The Bengal Govern- 
ment wanted a port, and at the same time desired to 
avoid international complications. Yet it is pretty clear 
that, whatever site had been selected in that part of the 
world, the Dutch would have been sure to protest. At 
first Riau was considered, but when the news came that 
the Dutch were about to occupy it or had already done 
so, the thoughts of the Bengal Government, prompted 
no doubt by Raffles, turned to Johore (which then in- 
cluded Singapore) as a possible alternative. Having 
received his final instructions, and guided by what he 
knew of Singapore's former importance, Raffles left Cal- 
cutta about the loth December 181 8, arrived at Penang 
on the 30th, organised his little expedition in six ships, 
and departed for the south on the 19th January 18 19. 

That he had a pretty clear view of his objective 
appears plainly from his correspondence at this time with 
the Governor of Penang (who disapproved of the whole 
project) and with the Chief Secretary to the Government 
of Bengal, in the course of which he points out the 
special advantages of Singapore. But already on the 
1 2th December he had written a private letter toMarsden, 
wherein he says : " My attention is principally turned to 
Johore, and you must not be surprised if my next letter 
to you is dated from the site of the ancient city of 
Singapura." However, his mind was apparently not 


finally made up, and he was ready to visit other places 
that might possibly be suitable for his purpose. Accom- 
panied by Major William Farquhar, late Resident of 
Malacca, who had left Penang a few days earlier, and 
whom he overtook in the course of the voyage, he put 
in at the Kerimon Islands, near the western entrance of 
Singapore Straits (as recommended by Farquhar), but 
found them unsatisfactory, and set sail towards the 
Johore River. On the afternoon of the 28th January the 
little flotilla came to an anchorage off St. John's Island, 
near Singapore. That same day Raffles went on shore 
and had an interview with the Temenggong, the local 
Malay chief, who had settled on the island some years 
before with a few score of followers. It would seem 
that from that moment the matter was decided in 
Raffles's mind ; his plans, if somewhat vague till then, 
now took definite and final shape. Singapore was to be 
his new foundation, come what might, for at that instant 
he fully realised its topographical advantages, and saw 
that he had indeed found what he had been in search of. 
Raffles was by temperament an enthusiast, but he 
can hardly have been unaware that a settlement in that 
place would very probably raise protests on the part 
of the Dutch Government. Local politics were in a 
tangle. For about a century the historic Sultanate or 
Empire of Johore, which included also Pahang, the Riau- 
Lingga Archipelago, and much else besides, as well as 
Johore proper and its island dependency of Singapore, 
had been in something like a chronic state of dissolution. 
This was mainly due to the impotence of the Malay 
Government in face of the turbulent intrigues of a 
number of powerful and enterprising Bugis chiefs from 
Celebes, who had settled in the Riau-Lingga Archipelago 
during the eighteenth century. The titular Malay Sultan 
resided in the island of Lingga; but the real power behind 
the throne was the Bugis Yang-di-pertuan Muda (or 
Viceroy) of Riau, and the two principal Malay dignitaries, 
the Bendahara and the Temenggong, had virtually be- 
come territorial chiefs in Pahang and Johore respectively. 


J?^'ov-4;^: .J)lyJ.;y Jr'tJ-^^D"^ 





though they still owned their allegiance to the Sultan- 
ate. That phantom throne, moreover, was suffering 
from a disputed succession. Some few years earlier 
the younger son of the late Sultan, in the temporary 
absence of his elder brother, had been seated upon it 
by the Bugis Viceroy, who was friendly to the Dutch. 
But this act of state had not by any means received the 
unanimous consent of the leading Malay high officials. 
However, the new Sultan had been formally acknowledged 
by the British East India Company in 181 8, a treaty 
having been made with him in August of that year. 
But that arrangement had been forcibly overridden in 
November by Dutch interference under the claim that he 
was a vassal of the Government of the Netherlands, on the 
strength of former treaties made by the Dutch East India 
Company with one of his predecessors. The principal 
British authorities contended that such former treaties 
were obsolete, and were not revived by the changes conse- 
quent on the peace, and the matter was under discussion 
at the time. Meanwhile, the Sultan's elder brother had 
taken no active steps to assert his pretensions, but was 
living quietly as a private individual at Riau. 

Raffles determined to avail himself of this imbroglio 
in order to further his plans. He at once sent Farquhar 
to Riau on a mission to the Viceroy, and a message was 
also despatched to the disappointed heir, Tengku Husain, 
generally known on account of his seniority of birth by 
the title of Tengku Long. Farquhar left on the 30th 
January, and on the same day a provisional agreement 
was made at Singapore between Raffles and the Temeng- 
gong, acting both for himself and for the Sultan, that 
is to say the claimant Tengku Long. In consideration 
of an annual payment to the Temenggong of three 
thousand dollars, the Company were to be allowed to 
establish a trading station at Singapore or some other 
place within the Government of Singapore and Johore, 
the Company agreeing to protect the Temenggong, and 
the latter undertaking not to enter into relations with 
any other nation nor allow foreigners into his country. 


Pending the arrival of the new Sultan, who was expected 
to come soon, the Company could select a place to land 
their forces and materials and hoist their flag. 

Farquhar returned from his mission on the 3rd 
February. Though he had failed to secure the active sup- 
port of the Bugis Viceroy, who felt bound by his recent 
agreement with the Dutch, he had at any rate gained 
his passive acquiescence. Meanwhile, on the ist Feb- 
ruary, Tengku Long had arrived and paid Raffles a 
visit, and on the following day Raffles fully explained 
the situation to him. In pursuance of the understand- 
ing then come to, a definite treaty was made on the 6th 
February between Raffles, for the British East India 
Company, of the one part, and Tengku Long, now 
formally proclaimed under the title of Sultan Husain 
Muhammad Shah, and the Temenggong, of the other. 
Save that an annual payment of five thousand dollars 
was allotted to the new Sultan, the treaty did little more 
than confirm and slightly amplify in some particulars 
the provisional agreement of the 30th January. It was 
eventually, in its turn, superseded by a further treaty 
(dated the 2nd August 1824 and ratified on the 19th 
November of that year), which enlarged the permission 
to establish a trading station on a very limited portion 
of the island of Singapore into the complete cession of 
the whole island, and its adjoining waters and islets, in 
full sovereignty and property, to the East India Com- 
pany. Nevertheless, the 6th February 1819 is the true 
birthday of Singapore as a British Settlement. On the 
following day Raffles> the new founder of Singapore, 
having done what he had set out to do, departed from 
his new Settlement, leaving it in the charge of Farquhar 
as Resident and Commandant. 

It cannot be denied that in all this transaction there 
was much that inevitably invited criticism from several 
different points of view, and in actual fact the controversy 
that it raised embittered the rest of the founder's career 
and probably shortened his life. On the technical 
question of the supremacy claimed by the Dutch over 

■',*A. ^A^^^rc.r^-A ly^*- 





^■/i^y- ii ^' ■■'■■■ ■ " 


1. 10] 


Singapore in virtue of their ancient, and now renewed, 
relations with the Sultans of Johore, there was a good 
deal to be said on both sides. It has all been said, at 
great length, elsewhere, and need not be repeated here. 
Admitting, also, that Tengku Husain had the better 
claim to the throne, it did not lie within the scope of 
Raffles 's commission to regulate the succession of the 
Johore Empire, a necessary condition precedent (as it 
happened) to the acquisition of Singapore. The whole 
transaction was essentially an act of state, not to be 
justified by any formal legalities, but only, if at all, on 
wider grounds of public policy, and retrospectively by 
its results. On the other hand, the Dutch had had 
relations with the Johore Empire for upwards of two 
centuries, and had held Malacca from 1641 to 1795. 
Yet during the whole of that time they had never 
availed themselves of their opportunities to turn the 
natural advantages of Singapore to account. It would, 
of course, have competed with their Settlement of 
Malacca, which itself was cramped and checked in its 
development by the jealous pohcy of Batavia, their 
colonial capital. So when they raised objections the 
moment anyone else tried to do what they had neglected 
to undertake, their protests sounded rather like those 
of the proverbial dog in the manger. 

There was, however, in this case the important 
difference that at the critical moment the objector was 
not in possession of the actual matter in dispute. Pos- 
session, as we all know, is nine points of the law, and 
in the end it prevailed. In 1824, after many protests, 
the Dutch Government withdrew its objections, and 
entered into a give-and-take treaty, which settled the 
question in our favour. But much heartburning re- 
mained, and the traces of it are by no means extinct 
even now : that fact is generally ignored by English 
writers, but it is desirable that it should be fully reahsed. 
Yet, taking a broader view, it may fairly be asked 
whether, as against any technical claims based on a 
more or less disputed title, the real benefits resulting 


from the establishment of the new free port do not 
decisively bring down the scale. For the foundation 
of Singapore struck the death-knell of the bad old 
system of commercial monopoly on which the Dutch 
Colonial Empire had too long subsisted, and forced it to 
adopt the more modern and humane methods which 
have contributed so materially to its present flourishing 
and prosperous condition. In view of these results, 
the descendants of the contending parties of 1819 may 
well join hands in accepting an accomplished fact, which 
for the world at large, as well as for themselves, has been 
of such enormous practical benefit. After a hundred 
years, we may hope that this old controversy will close 
on a note of friendship and mutual goodwill. 

Nor need we now use harsh language about the British 
authorities who at the time disapproved of Raffles 's 
brilliant but highly irregular tactics. They were im- 
mediately let in for a peck of troubles, and they cannot 
reasonably be blamed for not foreseeing as clearly as he 
did the prospective advantages of his action. But to 
the founder belongs the great credit that he did foresee 
those advantages, that in his mind's eye he pictured to 
himself Singapore as it is to-day, and decided that for 
such an end much must be risked; that he faced obloquy, 
international controversy, the censure of his official 
superiors, and the ruin of his own career for an ideal 
which seemed to him to outweigh all these, and not for 
any personal reward. When he retired from the public ser- 
vice, a broken man, that memory was his solace, and we, 
who have profited by his brilliant stroke of genius, are in 
duty bound to recognise the grandeur of the conception 
which a century of realisation has made familiar to us. 


By Roland St. J. Braddell 

Singapore is the capital of the Crown Colony known 

by the somewhat unfortunate name of the Straits 

Settlements. This Colony at present comprises the 


island of Singapore, the island of Penang, the town and 
province of Malacca, the territory and islands of the 
Bindings, Province Wellesley, Christmas Island, the 
Cocos Islands, and the island of Labuan, and their 
dependencies. These Settlements comprise some 1,600 
square miles, but are very scattered ; thus, Singapore is 
700 miles from Labuan, no from Malacca, 270 from 
the Bindings, and 350 from Penang. The last census, 
that of 191 1, gave a total population for the colony of 
714,069 persons. 

For administrative purposes the Colony is divided 
into four Settlements : — 

( 1 ) The Settlement of Singapore, which also includes 

Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands ; 

(2) The Settlement of Penang, which also includes 

Province Wellesley and the territory and 
islands of the Bindings ; 

(3) The Settlement of Malacca ; and 

(4) The Settlement of Labuan. 

The administration of the Colony is entrusted to the 
Governor, who is assisted in carrying on its government 
by an Executive Council. The chief executive officers 
are : at Penang, the Resident Councillor, who has a seat 
ex ojjicio on the Legislative Council, and at Malacca and 
Labuan the Residents, who do not have such seats. 
Singapore is the seat of government, and there are 
situated the headquarters of the Governor (who is also 
High Commissioner of the Federated and Unfederated 
Malay States and British Agent for British North 
Borneo) and of the militarj'^ forces of the Colony. 

The first Englishman through Malayan waters was Sir 
Francis Brake in 1578, during his famous voyage round 
the world ; but the first Englishman to travel in the 
Peninsula was a London merchant, Ralph Fitch, in 
1583. He returned to England in April 1591, and in 
that same month Lancaster commenced his first voyage 
to Malaya. It proved a disastrous failure. He anchored 
at Penang in June 1592, with his men in the last stage 
of weakness from scurvy. At Penang he buried twenty- 


six of his crew and Mr. Rainold Gouldring, " a merchant 
of great honesty and much discretion." These, then, 
were the first Enghshmen known to die and be buried 
in the Straits, but their last resting-place is unknown. 

In 1600 the East India Company was formed. It 
had for its principal object trading in Malaya. It may 
thus be said fairly that the early Malayan trade was 
the parent from which our great Indian Empire sprang, 
and, as will be seen, Malaya, so far as it was British, 
was directly connected with India until 1867. 

In 1684 the East India Company's Government at 
Madras established a fort and factory at Indrapoer, and 
on the 2Sth June 1685 Fort York at Bencoolen, from the 
establishment of which latter fort may be dated the real 
dawn of British power in Malaya. In 1763 the fort and 
establishment at Bencoolen were formed into a separate 
presidency, with a Lieutenant-Governor at its head ; but 
though the British were thus established in Sumatra, they 
had no foothold in the Straits of Malacca, while, on the 
other hand, their great rivals, the Dutch, were estabhshed 
at Malacca, and had been so for more than a century. 

The British accordingly judged it necessary to establish 
a commercial port in the Straits of Malacca, and at first 
Acheen was considered the best place. A Mr. Kinloch 
was sent to the King of Acheen towards the end of 
1784, but his efforts at negotiation proved fruitless. 
Then Captain Francis Light proposed again the island 
of Penang, and in 1 786 negotiations were opened by him 
with the 'King of Kedah for the cession of the island. 
These proved successful, and Captain Light, with a body 
of Marines, landed at Penang on the 15th July 1786, 
where the British flag was hoisted on the nth August 
1786, the eve of the birthday of " the first gentleman 
in Europe," in whose honour the island was renamed 
" Prince of Wales's Island," by which name it was long 
known. Penang, or Pinang as it is more correctly, is 
the Malay name for the betel-nut palm {pokok pinang), 
with which beautiful trees the island abounds. 

The occupation had taken place by virtue of an agree- 


ment entered into between Captain Light and the King 
of Kedah ; but the latter was far from satisfied, as he 
considered that there had been a breach of the agree- 
ment, as indeed there had. Early in 1 790 he gathered a 
quite formidable force at Prai, and declared his intention 
of attacking Penang. Light got wind of this, and at 
once got together a force of 400 armed men, with whom 
he attacked the King in his stockade, captured it, and 
put to flight the fleet of war prahus which had gathered 
for the attack on Penang. On the ist May 1791 a 
treaty was concluded by Captain Light with the King 
for the cession of the island. This treaty seems to 
have been negotiated under the impression that the 
King was an independent sovereign, whereas he was in 
reality a tributary of Siam. The British government 
over Penang was, however, expressly acknowledged by 
the Siamese under the Treaty of Bangkok in 1826. The 
expression " King of Kedah " is preserved because the 
old records refer to him under that style : his real title 
was, of course, Sultan. 

Penang was practically uninhabited when the British 
acquired it ; but the success of the Settlement was at first 
rapid and startling, so that within three years of its 
acquisition Captain Light, who was appointed Superin- 
tendent from the first, was able to report that there was 
a population of 10,000 on the island, which was continu- 
ally being increased, and that its imports had reached the 
value of £130,000. 

Light died of malarial fever on the 2 1 st October 1 794, 
and lies buried in the old grave-yard in Penang, where 
there is also a simple tablet to his memory in St. George's 
Church, which church was consecrated in May 1819. 
Francis Light's name ranks second only to that of Sir 
Stamford Raffles in the history of the Colony ; like 
Raffles he was persecuted by the East India Company's 
officials in India, and also like Raffles he died a poor man. 
He was born at Dallinghoo, near Melton in Suffolk, and 
received his education at Woodbridge Grammar School, 
after which he entered the Royal Navy, serving as a 


midshipman in H.M.S. Arrogant. In 1765 he left the 
Navy, and went to India to seek his fortune. At Cal- 
cutta he was given command of a country ship which 
traded with Siam and Malaya. In 1 771 he was employed 
by Messrs. Jourdan, Sullivan & de Souza, of Madras, as 
their agent at Kedah, and it was in that year that he 
first laid a definite proposal before Warren Hastings for 
the acquisition of Penang as " a convenient magazine for 
Eastern trade." His elder son. Colonel William Light, 
laid out the city of Adelaide in Australia, and his memory 
is solemnly toasted everyyear at theielection of theMayor. 
His portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. 

At first the Indian Government were not too pleased 
at having acquired Penang, but events in 1 797 altered 
their views. In that year the island was made the 
rendezvous of the expeditionary force despatched from 
India against Manila. This force numbered 5,000 Euro- 
peans and a correspondingly large body of native troops. 
It never got beyond Penang, as the objects for which 
it had been despatched were accomplished without its 
aid ; but the experience gained drove home to the 
official mind the extraordinary value of the place. 
Colonel Wellesley, afterwards Duke of Wellington, was 
one of the force, and he wrote a memoir about Penang 
and its possibilities which had a great effect in India, 
none the less so because his brother, the Earl of Morning- 
ton, arrived shortly after as Governor-General. 

In 1800 the island was given a regular form of govern- 
ment, and Sir George Leith, Bart., was appointed the first 
Lieutenant-Governor. On the 6th June that year he 
concluded a fresh treaty with the King of Kedah, where- 
by we obtained the cession of the district known as 
Province Wellesley (so called after the Duke of Welling- 
ton), on the mainland opposite Penang, and it became 
and has always remained part of the Settlement of 
Penang for administrative purposes. The territory at 
first obtained in the province was a mere strip of coast 
little more than three miles in width, and running from 
the Muda River to the Krian River. In 1831 its limits 


were extended and its tenure better defined by treaty 
with the Siamese Government, and in 1 867, by a further 
cession by the same Government,, the boundaries were 
further extended. In 1874, by treaty with Perak, 
another slice, the Trans- Krian, was added, so that the 
province now has a coast-line 45 miles in length, its 
extreme width being 13 miles and its least 7^. The 
object of its acquisition was, of course, to render more 
secure our tenure of Penang. It is very valuable agri- 
cultural land, and it is interesting to note that the price 
which we paid for the first cession in 1800 worked out 
at a little over a penny an acre. 

In 1 801 Penang was given a proper judicial administra- 
tion, Mr. John Dickens being appointed magistrate ; 
he was an uncle of the great novelist, Charles Dickens, 
and had been practising at the bar in Bengal. The trade 
of Penang went ahead so much that the Indian Govern- 
ment, imbued with a sense of its great importance, in 
1805 raised Penang to the rank of an Indian Presidency, 
under a Governor and Council, and its relations with 
the home authorities and the Supreme Government 
of India became the same as those of Bombay and 
Madras. The first Governor was Mr. Philip Dundas, 
who arrived with a numerous body of officials, including 
no less than twenty-six Europeans. 

In 1807 the Crown granted a Charter of Justice for 
Penang, and by it established " the Court of Judicature 
of Prince of Wales's Island," which Court first sat in 
June 1808, when the first Recorder, Sir Edmond Stanley, 
took his seat on the Bench, Thomas Stamford Raffles, 
the founder of Singapore, being the Registrar. 

The ancient history of Malacca, like that of Singapore, 
is a matter of much doubt, practically the only guide 
being the Malay Annals {Sejarah Malayu). If they are 
to be believed, then after the destruction of Singapore 
a number of fugitives, headed by the King of Singapore 
himself, established themselves at the mouth of the 
Malacca River and founded the city. Mr. R. J. Wilkin- 
son, C.M.G., however, considers the Annals unreliable, 


and thinks that though probably a party of refugees 
did do something to found the old town of Malacca, it 
is extremely doubtful if they were headed by the fabulous 
Iskander Shah, King of Singapore. The name of 
Malacca is taken from the Phyllanthus Emblica, or 
Malaka plant. 

As early as a.d. 1403 the Chinese annals mention 
Malacca, and they tell us that in 1405 its king was re- 
cognised by the Emperor of China, and received a chop 
(seal), a suit of silk clothes, and a yellow umbrella. The 
Chinese work called Ying Yai Sheng Lan, dated a.d. 
1416, speaks of the Malacca Malays as devoted Maho- 
medans, and says that they paid very little attention to 
agriculture, but were good fishermen, using dug-outs, 
and that they possessed a currency of block tin, lived in 
very simple huts, raised some four feet from the ground, 
that they traded in resin, tin, and jungle products, made 
very good mats, and that " their language, their books, 
and their marriage ceremonies are nearly the same as 
those of Java." 

The town became a trading centre of very great im- 
portance, so that it attracted the notice of the Portu- 
guese, when, to use the words of Sir George Birdwood, 
they burst into the Indian Archipelago " like a pack of 
hungry wolves upon a well-stocked sheep walk." In 
1511 they captured it under the leadership of Albu- 
querque, and after some desperate fighting. The Portu- 
guese held Malacca for 1 30 years, a period of disaster 
throughout, in which, with the exception of courage 
and daring, they exhibited none of the qualities fit to 
rule an Asiatic people. Amongst their other follies, they 
declared a crusade against the Mahomedan religion, and 
in their endeavour to establish a commercial monopoly, 
waged a piratical war on all who opposed them. This 
brought them a host of enemies, and Malacca was con- 
tinually being besieged by the Malays and Javanese, in 
addition to which for forty years before its fall the 
Portuguese were assailed by the Dutch, who besieged 
Malacca in 1606 and 1608 without success. In 1641, 


after a nine months' siege, the Dutch captured it, and 
held it for 1 54 years. 

One of the most romantic episodes in the history of 
the town was connected with the visits to it of St. 
Francis Xavier, " the Apostle of the Indies." On his 
first visit in i 547 he scourged the inhabitants for their 
vices and their crimes ; but his teaching produced only 
a temporary effect, and on his subsequent visit he found 
the people had relapsed into their former iniquities. 
" Before his final departure," wrote the late Mr. T. 
Braddell in Logan's Journal, " Malacca was publicly 
cursed. Standing in the church door, the Saint took 
off his sandals, struck from them the dust, and declaring 
the place accursed, refused to bear away so much as 
even the dust from the earth. The curse is said to rest 
on Malacca to the present hour, and is frequently brought 
forward to account for the wretched state of decay and 
misery in which the place is now found." That was 
written in 1858 ; the cynic would remark to-day that 
the price of rubber has proved a most effective antidote 
to the poison of the Saint's curses, for Malacca pros- 
pers like the wicked. 

On the 2Sth August 1 795 the Dutch in Malacca capitu- 
lated to a British squadron under command of Captain 
Newcome, of H.M.S. Orpheus , and Major Brown, of the 
East India Company's service. In thus occupying the 
place the British Government acted nominally as the 
protector of legitimate Dutch rights usurped by Napoleon 
Buonaparte. In that role the British were prepared 
to hand back the Settlement to its rightful owners on 
the conclusion of the Peace of Amiens in 1802. But 
as war was resumed before the retrocession could be 
made, the occupation continued. The cost of adminis- 
tration was heavy, and there was practically no return, 
as trade had to a large extent been diverted to Penang. 
Lieut. -Colonel Farquhar, then Governor of Penang, pro- 
posed under these circumstances that the place should 
be abandoned after the destruction of the fortifications. 
The Court of Directors agreed, and the fortifications were 


destroyed in 1 807 at very great cost, only a single gate- 
way at present remaining. Raffles, by a vigorous 
despatch, got the Directors to change their policy of 
evacuation, and the British occupation continued. Three 
years later the wisdom of this was shown by the use made 
of Malacca for the Java expedition which assembled 
there in 1810. The force, which consisted of 6,000 
European troops, an equal number of native troops, a 
train of artillery, and some cavalry, was collected to 
destroy the revolutionary government established in 
Java under Daendels, one of Napoleon's marshals. 
The British landed near Batavia on the 4th August 1 8 1 1 , 
and gained a decisive victory over the local forces led by 
General Janssens at Cornells on the 26th August. The 
island became British, and Raffles was appointed its 
Lieutenant-Governor. It was handed back to the Dutch 
in 1 8 1 6 under the Treaty of Vienna, under which same 
treaty we restored Malacca, but not until 1818. 

This treaty was signed in 18 14, and the British were 
therefore bound in that year to restore Malacca to the 
Dutch. It accordingly became necessary to obtain a 
station which would command the Straits of Malacca if 
England were not to lose her trade. Singapore was the 
place eventually selected and finally ceded to us by the 
formal Treaty of the 6th February 1 8 1 9. By the Treaty 
of the 17th March 1824, the occupation of Singapore 
was confirmed by the Dutch, and Malacca was restored 
to the British, in whose possession it has remained ever 
since. By this same treaty we gave up Bencoolen. 

After its transfer back to us in 1825 Malacca was 
governed by a Resident subject to the authorities at 
Penang. The affairs of Singapore were administered 
by Sir Stamford Raffles as Lieutenant-Governor of Ben- 
coolen, with a Resident as the chief local executive officer, 
until 1823, when they were placed under Bengal. 

In 1 826 Malacca and Singapore were united to Penang, 
and the three stations formed into one Settlement, 
under one government, consisting of a Governor or 
President, with a Resident Councillor at each station. 


The three stations were designated " The Settlement of 
Prince of Wales's Island, Singapore and Malacca," but 
they still continued to constitute an Indian Presidency. 

On the 1 8th October 1826 a treaty was effected with 
• the Sultan of Perak, whereby he ceded to the East India 
Company the island of Pangkor and the Sembilan Is- 
lands, nominally in order to bring about the suppression 
of the piracy of which these islands foriried the head- 
quarters. As a matter of fact they were never occupied 
until 1 874, when by the Treaty of Pangkor we obtained 
confirmation of the cession and the addition of that piece 
of territory known as the Bindings, which were at first 
administered by a British official from Perak, but shortly 
afterward became and are still part of the Settlement of 
Penang for administrative purposes. 

On the 27th November 1826 a second Charter of 
Justice was granted by the Crown, which established 
" The Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales's Island, 
Singapore and Malacca," and the new court sat for the 
first time at Penang in August 1827. 

On the formation of the separate government at 
Penang in 1805, hopes were entertained that the Settle- 
ment would become one of considerable importance, and 
in consequence an establishment on a large scale was 
sanctioned, as has been seen. The lavish provision of 
officers caused the civil establishment alone to reach 
the sum of £58,393 per annum ; the Governor received 
£7,820, the three Councillors between them £11,880, 
the secretary to the Government £1,760, the assistant 
secretary £1,320, and so on. In 1806 the Governor 
reported the value of exports actually cleared through 
the Customs House during a period of six months only 
as being .$1,766,731 ; but from 1 810 the trade became 
stationary, so that by 1814 the total loss on the Settle- 
ment to the Indian Government was £81,448. Orders 
were given for reductions, but they were not attended to, 
so that in 1829 the Court of Directors gave positive 
orders to the Supreme Government in India to reduce 
the establishment and break up the local government 


altogether, which was accordingly done by Lord William 
Bentinck, Governor-General of India, who visited the 
Straits, landing in Penang on the i6th March 1829. His 
Lordship is said to have remarked that he could not see 
the island for cocked hats ! In 1830 the Presidency was. 
abolished, and the three Settlements were placed under 
the Government of Bengal. Mr. Fullerton's proposal 
to make Malacca the headquarters station was dis- 
approved of, and Singapore became the headquarters of 
government in 1832, and has remained so ever since. 
The civil establishment was ultimately fixed at £\g,iy6; 
the Resident received £'i,6oo, the Deputy Residents at 
Singapore, Penang, and Malacca £2,400 each, the Assis- 
tant Resident at Penang £1,296, the Assistant Residents 
at Singapore, Province Wellesley, and Malacca £720 

Owing to a misinterpretation of the Charter of Justice, 
the titles of Governor and Resident Councillor had to be 
restored in place of Resident and Deputy Resident, but 
the Settlements continued, nevertheless, to be subject 
to Bengal. In 1858 the East India Company was 
abolished, and the Settlements came under the newlndian 
Government, and so remained until the transfer in 

In 1 83 1 the Naning War was waged. Naning is in the 
north part of Malacca, and covers about 240 square miles. 
In 1830 Penghulu Dool Syed, abetted by the surround- 
ing states, put himself in open rebellion, and in October of 
that year crossed the boundary and seized some land 
belonging to a Malay British subject, who applied to us 
for redress. The Penghulu refused to listen to our re- 
monstrances, so a force was despatched against him in 
August 1 83 1, thus commencing the war. Our first 
attack was unsuccessful, and the force retreated to Ma- 
lacca, leaving two six-pounder guns in the jungle. In 
March 1832 the second campaign nominally opened, but 
nothing was done until June, when H.M.S. Magicienne 
commenced a blockade of the Linggi and Kesang Rivers, 
and our troops captured Tabu, the residence of Dool 


Syed, who escaped and wandered an outcast until 1834, 
when he surrendered. The war is a very inglorious page 
in the history of British arms ; it cost £100,000, and in 
the final operations our troops took ten weeks to cover 
the last twelve miles of a march the goal of which was 
only twenty- two miles from the town of Malacca. 

In 1857 the European population of the Straits had 
begun to agitate for severance from the Indian control. 
They petitioned the Houses of Parliament, and amongst 
the many points which they made were that the Straits 
were too far from India for the Government there to 
understand their needs ; that the Indian Government 
took very little interest in them since the loss of the 
Government's trade monopoly with China; that the 
community was not represented, as there was no Council 
of any kind ; and that the Indian Government had 
entirely neglected to cultivate good relations with the 
neighbouring Malay States, which last was a particularly 
burning grievance. After six years of ceaseless agita- 
tion Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of Hongkong, 
who was on his way home, was ordered to stop at Singa- 
pore and report on the question, which he did. In 1866 
the Government of the Straits Settlements Act was 
passed by Parliament, and on the ist April 1867 the 
Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony. 

It will be as well to see how the three Settlements had 
prospered up to this date. The trade of Penang remained 
stationary from 1810 to 1844, the figures for these two 
years having been £1,106,924 and £ i , 1 1 0,036 respectively. 
By i8?3 it reached £1,687,347, and from that year the 
progress was marked and steady, rising to £3,838,353 in 
1859. The trade of Singapore rose from £2,563,124 in 
1823 to £4,241,334 in 1830 ; from 1840 the increase 
was steady and continuous till 1857, when it reached 
£10,062,187, while in the next year it increased very 
nearly two and a half millions, the highest point which 
it reached prior to 1861. 

The effect of the establishment of Singapore on the 
trade of the other two Settlements was marked. Penang 


fell off from £1,352,722 in 1822 to £708,559 in i83i,when 
the revival commenced. Malacca had a total of £3 1 8,426 
in 1826, which decreased gradually, until in 1844 it was 
only £159,529. From that year, however, Malacca re- 
vived, and the increase was progressive, until it showed a 
total of £920,227 in 1859. 

In 1865 the total trade value of the three Settlements 
was £18,570,080, the revenue being £193,937 and the 
expenditure £115,529; so that it could be claimed that 
if they were constituted into a Colony they would be 
able to pay their way. India was content to agree to the 
separation, for the Government there claimed that the 
military establishment cost it annually £300,000, towards 
which the Settlements contributed only £63,000, and the 
fact is that the Straits had always been a burden on the 
Indian finances, due principally to their neglect by the 
Indian Government. Thus Sir Harry Ord, the first 
Governor, made the Colony pay its way, and left it in 
1 871 with a very respectable credit balance. 

How the Straits have prospered as a Colony may be 
seen from the fact that in 191 1 the revenue amounted 
to £1,331.076, the imports to £46,437,349, the exports 
to £39,887,146; while by 1916 these figures had risen to 
a revenue of £2,021,331, imports £63,242,000, and 
exports £57,436,000. 

Until the transfer the three stations were garrisoned 
by sepoys from Madras, assisted by a detachment of 
native and a small force of European artillery also from 
Madras, the latter being for the fort and arsenal at Pen- 
ang ; two extra native regiments had been raised in the 
Madras Presidency especially to supply the requirements 
of the Straits Settlements. In about 1857 a small force 
of Madras European artillery was sent to Singapore, 
and constituted the first European troops of any arm 
stationed there. In i860 the garrison at Singapore 
numbered 1,093, of which 904 were sepoys; at Penang 
622, of which 514 were sepoys; and at Malacca 216, of 
which 174 were sepoys. 

With respect to works of defence Penang long pos- 


sessed the fortification called Fort Cornwallis ; but in 
1866 it was believed to be incapable of affording pro- 
tection either to the town or the shipping in the harbour, 
and no other military works existed there. The old 
fort at Malacca had been dismantled, as we have seen, 
and no other defences of the same nature were constructed 
afterwards. At Singapore a small work called Fort 
Fullerton existed at the mouth of the river, but was 
left incomplete until 1858, when it was completed, and 
other fortifications on an extensive scale were commenced, 
being completed prior to the transfer. 

On the transfer the Colony received an Executive and 
a Legislative Council, the constitution and functions of 
which bodies are at this date governed by the instructions 
of the 1 7th February 191 1 . At first the chief executive 
officers at Malacca and Penang were entitled Lieutenant- 
Governors, but when Captain Shaw, Lieutenant-Governor 
for Malacca, died in April 1879, the office was abolished 
in that Settlement, and the title changed to Resident 
Councillor, the officer having a seat upon the Legislative 
Council, as was the practice until comparatively recently. 
When Major-General Anson, Lieutenant-Governor of 
Penang, retired in July 1882, the office was abolished 
there also, and a Resident Councillor substituted, with 
a seat on the Legislative Council, as is the practice 
now. Penang objected violently, and from time to time 
agitations were commenced and petitions sent to the 
Secretary of State. The grievance still remains, and 
only quite recently it was again suggested that the 
office of Lieutenant-Governor should be restored. 

We come now to a very important episode in the history 
of the Colony, the pacification of the Native States, as 
they were called. After Raffles and Crawfurd a succes- 
sion of officials, knowing that the Supreme Government 
in India did not wish to have any trouble about the 
politics of a quarter so distant, deliberately shaped a 
course of utter neglect towards the Native States, 
although the Press and the public were frequently urging 


As Sir Frank Swettenham wrote in his book British 
Malaya, few things are more remarkable in the history 
of the Straits than the gradual loss of interest in, and 
knowledge of, the neighbouring Malay States. He points 
out how research into everything Malay was the guiding 
force of Raffles 's life, and how his example stirred men 
like Marsden, Crawfurd, Logan and Braddell to study 
and write on the subject, an enthusiasm which lasted 
until 1 860, when, of all the leading contributors "to what 
may be called the English literature of Malaya," only 
Mr. Braddell remained, and his duties as Attorney- 
General occupied all his time during Sir Harry Ord's 

Sir Frank says that in the first years of the Colony's 
history, from 1 867 to 1 874, it is almost inconceivable how 
little was actually known of the independent Malay 
States in the Peninsula. " What was understood," 
he writes, " was that, in many of the States, there was 
going on some kind of domestic struggle between rival 
claimants to power who, from time to time, as they 
could raise funds or gain credit, sent to the Colony for 
arms and ammunition to carry on a warfare which 
claimed comparatively few victims and in which the 
fortunes of the combatants varied with bewildering 
rapidity." When the Chambers of Commerce of Singa- 
pore and Malacca petitioned the Government protesting 
against the turmoil and anarchy that prevailed in these 
States, Sir Harry Ord caused the answer to be made that 
if they choose to run the risk of placing their persons 
and property in the jeopardy which they were aware 
would attend them in the Peninsula, ".they must not 
expect the British Government to be answerable if 
their speculation proves unsuccessful " 1 

However, the hand of Government was forced by a 
development of the disturbances in Selangor which had 
drawn Rembau and Sungei Ujong, two of the Negri 
Sembilan, into the quarrel. The Sungei Ujong chief 
and one of the Selangor chiefs directly invoked British 
aid, and Sir Harry Ord visited the scene of the distur- 


bances in 1872, where he patched up a sort of peace that 
proved quite useless. In Selangor for years a family 
feud, in which the Sultan's three sons represented the 
opposition, had led to perpetual turmoil and placed 
the property of traders at the mercy of any body of 
marauders who might take a fancy to it. In the autumn 
of 1873, when Sir Harry Ord's administration ceased, 
affairs in Perak were in a disgraceful, state owing to the 
quarrel about the succession to the Sultanship, and a 
continuing fight, with heavy losses on both sides, between 
two factions of Chinese who were struggling for the 
possession of valuable tin mines. These two factions 
were known as the Go Kuans (the five tribes) and the Si 
Kuans (the four tribes), and the mines over which they 
fought lay around Larut. The Mantri of Perak espoused 
the cause of the Go Kuans, and gave them all the assis- 
tance he could. The Si Kuans had seized and stockaded 
positions between the Go Kuans and the sea, but as the 
Mantri owned two small steamers and was the recognised 
authority in Larut, he kept his friends supplied with 
food and arms, and attempted to starve into submis- 
sion the Si Kuans, who, however, were helped by their 
friends in Penang. These two factions waged a very 
real warfare, and no one was safe, for the Si Kuans estab- 
lished a fort on the Larut River, and fitted out big 
fighting-boats, armed with guns. They attacked the 
boats of H.M.S. Midge, and a fairly long action ensued, 
in which they were beaten off ; but two British officers 
were wounded. They also attacked British police stations 
at the Bindings and in Province Wellesley. 

A policy of inaction could clearly be pursued no 
longer, and Lord Kimberley sent out the new Governor, 
Sir Andrew Clarke, with definite instructions, which were 
duly carried out. The Governor sent Mr. W. A. Picker- 
ing, the Chinese Protector, to the chief centre of distur- 
bances in Perak to see if the leaders would be prepared 
to accept his arbitration on their differences. Mr. 
Pickering was completely successful. The Treaty of 
Pangkor was signed on the 20th June 1874, and forms 


the legal foundations of the system of administering what 
are to-day the Federated Malay States. A Proclama- 
tion in November 1874 ushered in the new regime by 
the appointment of Mr. j. W. W. Birch as Resident of 
Perak, and Mr. J. G. Davidson, the Singapore lawyer, 
as Resident of Selangor. 

Mr. Birch was murdered in 1874, and the Perak War 
followed, the British force consisting of 2,000 troops, 
1,500 of whom were British soldiers, aided by a strong 
Naval Brigade, and being commanded by Major-General 
the Hon. F. Colborne, C.B., and Brigadier-General 
John Ross. The force met with stubborn resistance, 
and protracted operations were necessary before the 
country settled down under the British protectorate ; 
in the course of these operations Captain Channer won 
the Victoria Cross. 

Im 888 a British subject was murdered in Pahang, and 
Sir Cecil Smith, then Governor of the Straits Settle- 
ments, demanded an explanation and satisfaction. The 
former was unsatisfactory and the latter was not forth- 
coming, but serious consequences were averted by the 
Bandahara taking the advice of the Sultan of Johore and 
asking for the appointment of a British Resident. In 
October 1888 Mr. J. P. Rodger was appointed, while 
Mr. Hugh Clifford, who had already spent some years in 
Pahang as Governor's agent, remained to assist the 
Resident. Disturbances broke out in Pahang in 1894, 
which necessitated long, harassing, and expensive military 

The formation of the State now known as the Negri 
Sembilan began in 1883, but did not assume its present 
position until 1895, when Sungei Ujong, the last out- 
standing State, was merged. 

In 1895 the four States of Perak, Selangor, Negri 
Sembilan, and Pahang were formed into the Federated 
Malay States, and since then their prosperity has been a 
tale of wonder. 

In 1886, by an Order of Her Majesty in Council, the 
Cocos or Keeling Islands were annexed to the Straits 


Settlements, and placed under the Government of the 
Colony. These islands had been discovered in 1609 by 
Captain Keeling, of the East India Company's service, 
but they attracted no further attention until Captain 
Ross visited them in 1825. Finding them unoccupied, 
he returned to Scotland, and induced some people from 
there to come back with him and colonise them. Return- 
ing to the islands in 1827 he found Alexander Hare and 
a party of colonists settled in them. The two factions 
lived on bad terms with each other, and though many of 
the Ross colonists left the place owing to its being already 
occupied, the Ross influence exceeded that of the Hare. 
The latter, an idle man of most eccentric character, 
was gradually deserted by his followers, who went over 
to Ross. Finally Hare left the islands and, it is said, 
came to Singapore to die. 

In 1854 Ross died, and was succeeded by his son Mr. 
J. G. Clunies-Ross. The islands, which had from time 
to time been visited early byships of various nationalities, 
received a formal visit early in 1857 from H.M.S. Juno, 
when Captain Fremantle took possession of the group 
in the name of the British Government, and appointed 
Mr. J. G. C. Ross to be Superintendent. In 1878 the 
islands were pla'ced under the Government of Ceylon, 
so remaining until 1 886. In 1 903 they were incorporated 
in the Settlement of Singapore, and are the headquarters 
of a cable station on the route from Cape Colony to 
Australia. In 1914 the German cruiser Emden was 
destroyed off the islands by H.M.A.S. Sydney. 

By a Proclamation of the 23rd May 1900 Christmas 
Island was annexed to the Colony, and by an Ordinance 
of 1900 it became part of the Settlement of Singapore. 
The island had been annexed by Great Britain in 1888, 
a settlement being made there by a party of twenty 
•persons from the Cocos Islands. By Letters Patent of 
the 8th January 1889 the Governor of the Colony had 
been made also Governor of Christmas Island. It 
possesses extensive deposits of phosphate of lime, which 
are quarried by the Christmas Island PhosphateCompany, 


to which company the island is let on a ninety-nine 
years' lease. 

The first connection of the British with Labuan was 
when in 1 775 theywere expelled bythe Sulus from Balam- 
bangan, and took temporary refuge on the island. It 
became a British Colony by cession as a quid pro quo 
for assistance in suppressing piracy. The Sultan of 
Borneo, Omar Ali Saifudin, himself made the offer, in 
conjunction with the Rajah Muda Hussin, in a document 
addressed to Queen Victoria in 1844, in consequence of 
the visit of Captain Sir Edward Belcher in H.M.S. 
Samarang to Brunei to enquire into rumours of the deten- 
tion of a European woman there. The Sultan became 
terrified by a report that the British were going to attack 
his capital, and the document mentioned above was 
drawn and despatched with a view of preventing such 
measures. No advantage was taken of it at the time, but 
when Sir James Brooke, K.C.B., was appointed Her 
Majesty's Agent in Borneo, the Sultan and the Rajah 
Muda, in accepting the appointment in February 1845, 
again expressed their adherence to their former declara- 
tions, and asked for immediate assistance to protect 
Brunei from the pirates of Marudu, a bay at the 
northern extremity of Borneo. This assistance was duly 
granted. In April 1846 the Sultan plotted the murder 
of the Rajah Muda, who committed suicide to escape 
assassination. Sir Thomas Cochrane, the Admiral in 
command of the station, then attacked and captured 
Brunei. In November 1846 possession was taken of 
Labuan, and a treaty was effected with the Sultan on 
the 24th May 1847. The British flag had been hoisted 
previously, on the 24th December 1846. 

Labuan was made a Crown Colony, and given a Gover- 
nor, Lieutenant-Governor, and a staif of British officers ; 
and a Legislative Council was created for the new colony. 
It was governed as a Crown Colony until 1889, and in its 
palmy days was the centre of a thriving trade. Much 
was hoped from the deposits of coal which the island 
possessed, but they have never proved profitable. The 


Colony was nearly always in financial straits, so that from 
1890 to 1906 it was placed under the control of the British 
North Borneo Company, its establishment as a Crown 
Colony having been broken up. By Letters Patent of 
the 30th October 1906 it was ordained that Labuan 
should become part of the Colony of the Straits Settle- 
ments, on a day to be proclaimed by the Governor, 
who duly proclaimed it as the ist January 1907, from 
which date it became* and remained part of the Settle- 
ment of Singapore until 191 2. Since the ist December 
191 2, it has been a separate Settlement, but part of the 

This completes this short account of how the Colony 
reached its present position. The various events in its 
more domestic history will be found referred to in other 
articles in this work — events such as the fixing of the 
dollar and the expropriation of the Tanjong Pagar Dock 
Company, for instance. 


By the Rev. William Cross, M.A. 

When Sir Stamford Raffles landed on the mangrove- 
covered bank of the Singapore River on the 28th January 
1 819, he was almost thirty-eight years of age. A long 
record of extraordinary achievements in imperial service 
had placed his name high among the statesmen and 
pioneers of the East Indies. He came in the full ripe- 
ness of his developed powers, and every step he took 
for the establishment of a new colony was marked by 
the confidence and unerring touch of one who wielded 
an instrument perfectly edged. Some nine brief days 
he remained ; but when he left, it is not too much to say 
all the plans of the future city were so clearly defined 
that not even after one hundred years are these plans 
exhausted or superseded. 

Some men build pyramids and palaces, and therefore 
are remembered ; some discover continents ; some write 
imperishable books. These are extensive and arresting 
claims upon fame. Raffles planted a seed. That was 
all. But it was the seed of a city, and the city was 
destined to become a nerve-centre of the whole world. 
The poet says the thrilling music of the moon sleeps in 
the plain eggs of the nightingale ; the throbbing power 
of great events lay in the little trading-station erected 
among the Kalat trees on that river-bank during the 
nine memorable days a hundred years ago, and the far- 
sighted mind of Raffles knew it. 



r. 32l 


What he had done before 18 19 

His birth was appropriate to his destiny. On board 
a merchant vessel of which his father was captain, as it 
lay off Jamaica on the 5th July 1 781, he first opened his 
eyes upon the world. Things were not prosperous with 
that captain, and when the boy was but fourteen years 
of age straitened family conditions compelled him to 
leave school and seek employment. In 1795 he was 
taken on the temporary staff at the office of the East 
India Company, passing to the permanent establishment 
five years later. It is worth noting that when Raffles 
entered the Company's service, a young man, some six 
years his senior, named Charles Lamb, was there. To 
Lamb the offices of the great trading company were 
the end of all adventure. Fixed there for some thirty- 
three years to what he called " the dry drudgery of the 
desk's dead wood," the genial essayist found his appro- 
priate fame. One wonders if ever he took any notice 
of the earnest, thoughtful boy who for ten years was his 
fellow-clerk, but whose ambitions were far too restless 
for the desk. There is no record of any intercourse, 
although they must have crossed one another's path 

The desk could not hold Raffles. From the com- 
mencement he had his eyes upon the ends of the earth. 
In night study he tried to make up for his lack of educa- 
tion. His spirit fretted because he had been taken from 
school too soon. Courses of study in languages and 
science were mapped out for leisure hours. From an 
intimate letter we get a peep into his habits and his 
difficulties. One night, he tells us, he was deep in his 
books. He used to read into the small hours of the 
morning. One little candle was burning beside him. 
It was past midnight. The door of his bedroom-study 
was pushed open, and the voice of his mother rebuked 
him : " Tom," she said, " are you not in bed yet ? It's 
very late. You are wasting money burning so many 
candles, and you know we cannot afford it." 



This was pretty hard upon the young student, for at 
that time he was the chief wage-earner in the house, his 
guinea a week being the family's mainstay. Raffles 
never forgot his early experience of pinching poverty. 
His difficulties acted as spurs to his determination to 
make the great adventure of going abroad. 

It came as a reward and a great opportunity to a 
chafing spirit when he received the offer of a secretaryship 
in the Company's new Presidency at Penang. Raffles 
was now twenty-four years of age. The story has often 
been told of how he mastered a book knowledge of the 
Malay language during the five months of the voyage ; of 
how in a very short time he displaced the resident and 
incapable interpreter ; of the letter making some enquiries 
about Malay customs sent by William Marsden to Gover- 
nor Dundas, which Dundas could not answer, and so 
passed on to his brilliant young secretary for attention. 
Ambition grew like a tropical flower within Raffles's soul. 
Amusing it is, but very significant, to find him writing 
home to his uncle in England asking him to make the 
" most dihgent enquiry for me with every particular 
you know, respecting the family of my grandfather, 
and back from him to the date in which the glorious 
Knight Baronet Sir Benjamin Raffles strutted his hour." 
The young secretary had discovered somewhere the 
name of his vanished ancestor who shone with the tinsel 
of one of King James's cheap titles, and it touched some 
chord in him. " At all events, get the family arms 
drawn and emblazoned with their supporters, etc." 
The youth was feeling definitely after fame, and wished 
to think he had some family traditions. It was about 
this time that he tried his 'prentice hand in statesman- 
ship. Feeling seedy in health, he got leave to take a 
short sea trip as far as Malacca Town. Malacca had 
been marked for destruction by the authorities in Penang, 
for Penang trade needed fostering, and Malacca was an 
irritating little rival to the new and pet Settlement. 
Abandon Malacca, and force its stream of trade towards 
the favoured centre. That was the policy. The Supreme 


Government at Bengal, a thousand miles away, had 
supinely acquiesced in the selfish representations of the 
Penang traders. An edict had gone forth that every 
public building in Malacca was to be razed to the ground, 
and the population were, practically, to be driven away 
from their ancient home. When Raffles came for his 
few weeks of holiday, the sheer folly of this policy forced 
itself upon him. Always quick to respond to historic 
associations, and equally quick to see the inner meaning 
of the fact that for centuries Malacca had been a native 
trading port, he grasped the problem with vigour. To 
his mind Malacca appeared as a natural door for com- 
merce in the Straits. No other place had any traditions 
of past glory. Malays, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and 
now the British had all built civilisations there. But 
this had seemed nothing in the eyes of the traders in the 
northern Settlement. All they saw in Malacca was a 
contemptible trade rival. 

You cannot force trade, said Raffles. Trade must be 
free if it would flourish. Associations, native customs, 
historic memories, provided you have the natural 
facilities, all act as magnets for trade. You may drive 
trade out of a place, but in doing so lose it altogether. 

The upshot was that the young secretary went clean 
past his Penang masters, and wrote such a letter to Lord 
Minto, the chief of the Bengal Government, that the 
whole policy was reversed, and the discreditable des- 
truction was never carried through. 

Not bad that, for a young fellow's first effort at states- 
manship. The small fry who flourished in Penang did 
not like him for it. 

Great events were then on the move in Europe. 
Napoleon was at the zenith of his power. Holland and 
all its colonies had come under the French rule. Dutch- 
men and Frenchmen were laying their heads together 
to drive the British out of the East Indies. Rumours of 
projected armaments against various British stations 
filtered through the gossip of the native bazaars. But 
the lethargic authorities paid no heed. Raffles felt the 


undercurrents, divined the movements of the Dutch, 
but could get no one to listen to his ideas. At last he 
took his political life in his hands by a bold move. It 
was the move of one who by a secret intuition knows 
the psychological moment has arrived, who sees or makes 
opportunities. He left his family, embarked in a small 
vessel for Calcutta (June 1810), and presented himself 
before his chief. Lord Minto. There had been some 
talk about Raffles being appointed as Governor over the 
Molucca Islands, and Minto, thinking his subordinate 
had come to ask for this, was dismissing him with the 
remark that the post had been promised to another, 
when Raffles made reply that it was not about the Moluc- 
cas he had ventured to come, but about some other islands, 
" well worthy of my Lord's attention — Java, for in- 
stance." Raffles himself has put it on record that when 
he mentioned " Java," Lord Minto cast upon him a 
strange, keen, penetrating but kind look, such as never 
could be forgotten. His bullet had found its billet. 
The bold move had found a responsive spirit in the bosom 
of a real leader of men. Discussion, the shaping of 
plans, a secret compact followed. Minto had long 
desired information, and a man. Both had now come 
to him unexpectedly in the visit of this unusual secre- 
tary. So back Raffles came to the Straits Settlements 
with a commission as Agent to the Governor-General 
in the Malay States, his headquarters to be Malacca. 
For several months Raffles worked under this commis- 
sion. Not a whisper of his plans reached the Dutch. 
It was known, of course, that something big was con- 
templated, but no one penetrated the purposes of the 
genial, smiling Agent who talked so affably to everybody 
and seemed so free from state anxieties. At last all was 
ready. Minto himself arrived. When consulted upon 
the project of an attack upon Java, even the Naval 
Commander-in-Chief thought it madness. Raffles was 
able to override even that opposition. In June 1811 
the fleet sailed, choosing a channel which all the naval 
experts condemned, but recommended by Raffles from 


information given to him by the natives. The attack 
took Java by complete surprise. The battle of Cornelis 
crowned the daring adventure with success, and the 
vast territory of the world's loveliest island became a 
British possession. 

It was only fitting that the one man whose genius 
had seen and seized the opportunity should now receive 
the responsibilities and honour of the adventure. Minto 
was big enoughand generous enough to see that. And thus, 
by one step, the obscure young secretary (thirty years 
old) became the ruler of the new conquest as Lieutenant- 
Governor of Java. For the next five years Java was 
under Raffles 's care. This undoubtedly was the greatest 
period of his career. The full strength of his genius 
expressed itself in the immense problems of those years. 

We may gather up the influences of Java upon the 

man Raffles under three heads. These will tell us how 

he was prepared and made perfect for the one imperish- 

^ able act which was to outshine even the glory of Java 

* in his career. 

In the School of Tyranny he learned the hatred of evil 
and perceived the real destiny of Britain in Malaya. 

In the School of Slander he learned how bitter must 
be the pathway of the man who is determined to truckle 
to no evil. 

In the School of Sorrow he learned that vastness of 
patience and certainty of touch which is the crowning 
supremacy of human gifts. 

Only after his character and his work had passed 
through the three-times-heated crucible of such training 

I did the Power, who disposes of what man is and of what 
man does, deem Stamford Raffles ready for the deed that 
was to make his memory immortal. 
The School of Tyranny left its deep mark upon Raffles, 
burning into his soul a hatred of hate and kindling a 
very deep passion for liberty. It has been said that 
ityranny is suicide, and there is not a story in all history 
surpassing, in proof of this, the story of Java. Its rich 
volcanic soil, combined with the patient labour of a 


simple and contented people, had made Java a natural 
paradise when the Dutch entered it as traders and 
conquerors in the seventeenth century. They came as 
children of light and liberty, for, during the century 
previous to this, Holland had been the supreme bulwark 
in Europe against the cruelties of Spain and the In- 
quisition. By a strange fatality this excess of success 
in the cause of liberty seemed to slay liberty in their 
souls. The Dutch were traders rather than statesmen. 
They made the mistake of thinking colonies should 
exist for the benefit not of the natives, but solely of the 
colonists. This mistake was a guiding principle in their 
national policy. Against this policy of colonising 
plunder when it was at its full ripeness Raffles came up, 
and it revolted him. He found many of his own race 
advocating it, and the revulsion hardened into a granite 
opposition. There can be no doubt that much of the 
bitterness he encountered from the inner circle of the 
Company that employed him was due to their hatred 
of his policy of fair play and freedom for the natives. 

The lessons he learned in the School of Tyranny have a 
direct bearing upon his eagerness to found Singapore. 
The new trading station was a deliberate blow at tyranny 
and monopoly and racial prejudice. " You cannot go 
on with tyranny beyond a certain point," he would say. 
" The kris and the bullet finish the story. You may 
clothe the acts of tyranny in careful official language, 
you may cover the deeds of cruelty with the plea of 
commercial necessity, and it may all seem safe and plau- 
sible on the pages of your reports and ledgers, but the 
ink of the writing is blood-red, and the shadows on the 
screens are shadows of ruined villages and debt-ridden 
peasants, and after that, the bodies of white men lying 
gashed and hidden in the jungle. Whereas the prosper- 
ous effects of fair and statesmanlike dealing come to the 
surface every time." Such thoughts were not the mere 
vapourings of an eloquent tongue. In actual experience 
conduct and character crowned the precepts. Raffles 
ruled Java for five critical years. He was able to claim 


that in these years a revolution was effected which two 
centuries of Dutch administration had scarcely dreamed 
of. Slavery was abolished ; the use of torture in the 
law-courts was abolished ; trial by jury was instituted ; 
a system of land tenure was devised which made the 
Government's income depend upon the people's pros- 
perity. The removal, in these various directions, of 
shackles that hampered free development of a people's 
resources and energy sent the revenue up to seven times 
the highest total reached under the old regime, and 
inspired those feelings of confidence and just dealing in 
the native mind which are the best guarantee of loyalty 
and peace. 

When the island was restored to the Dutch in 181 6 
all these changes were quietly accepted and continued. 
Tyranny itself had been taught a lesson of enlightened 
statesmanship. And the gulf between the old and the 
new is bridged by the work of a man whose courage and 
genius could neither be denied nor prevent him from 
being hated. 

Hated ! of course. No man can do work which over- 
turns other men's policies and deprives rascals of ill- 
gotten gains without being hated. Such hate, however, 
may be a clean thing. There is, besides, an unclean and 
slanderous hate, and Raffles found this to his cost. " A 
man's foes shall be they of his own household," says an 
ancient manuscript. Raffles found the saying all too 
true. His slanderers were his associates. There were 
two of them : one was Blagrave and the other was 
Gillespie. Blagrave was proceeding to the Moluccas in 
the Company's service shortly after the British were 
established at Batavia, and, attracted by the new Colony, 
readily accepted a temporary post as secretary on 
Raffles's staff. A very brief experience of him was suffi- 
cient to prove his unsuitableness. His personal habits 
were disagreeable, and his talents were not brilliant 
enough to compensate. So Raffles told him he was no 
longer wanted in Java, and should go on to his own billet 
at the Moluccas. Blagrave declined to take such instruc- 


tions, and was summarily dismissed. Instead of going 
on to the Moluccas he made his way to Calcutta. In 
Calcutta he met General Gillespie, who also was chafing 
with anger at Raffles. Gillespie was a man of consider- 
able influence and achievements. As commander of the 
troops in Java he had been given a seat on the Council 
when Raffles was made Governor of Java in 1 8 1 1 . The 
two never pulled together. The military mind collided 
with the political. Raffles wanted to reduce expenses 
and send away some of the troops as unnecessary. 
Gillespie always stood out for a full military establish- 
ment, pleading the possibility of a re-invasion by the 
French from Europe to recover their lost island. Some 
costly appointments on the military staff were made by 
Gillespie, and Raffles, with his hand on the money-bags, 
would not sanction them. These, however, are just 
the ordinary and perpetual collisions found everywhere 
between the civilian and the soldier ; and had the dis- 
putes remained within that official atmosphere, there 
never need have been serious trouble. It is always the 
personal rather than the official conflict that stirs the 
muddy depths of enmity. After the battle of Jocjo- 
carta in June 1812, the troops under the command of 
Gillespie got out of hand, and plundered the captured 
town. Gillespie apparently acquiesced in this breach 
of British rule, and Raffles as Governor strongly pro- 
tested. The General was compelled to admit his error, 
sheltering himself with the weak excuse that he had been 
wounded, and consequently discipline in the army had 
been allowed to slacken. After the work of military 
subjection was completed, Gillespie went to live at 
Tjipanas, in the mountains beside the mineral springs. 
There he lived in luxurious retirement, developing an 
extensive estate. Being head of the army he claimed 
exemption from the taxes imposed by Government ; he 
also hired labourers, but refused to pay them wages, thus 
claiming to be a law to himself, in spite of the definite 
assurance of the Government to the natives that all 
labour would be duly paid for. It was indeed an insolent 


attempt to reintroduce for his own personal benefit the 
feudal system which had been the widespread evil of 
the former Franco-Dutch rule. Raffles made sure of 
his facts, and then drew Gillespie's attention to the 
misconduct. To such a man as Gillespie interference 
like this was unheard of, and intolerable. That a 
civilian should meddle with a military officer's privileges ! 
What rudeness and indecency was this ! He sputtered 
out his rage. But against the calm, suave, studied 
politeness of Raffles he made no more impression than 
spray against a rock. This point, too, had to be yielded. 
Something still more serious came out in the controversy. 
At Samarang there was an orphan school for girls. The 
General had used the terror of his name and office to 
demand for immoral purposes a girl from that school. 
Misconduct of this kind in Batavia itself had before this 
tarnished the General's reputation. Evidently he be- 
longed to that school of thought where selfishness and 
lust override the ten commandments. When these 
things came to Raffles 's ears he refrained from pushing 
enquiries to an extremity, for the publicity of an open 
rupture between the Governor and the General would 
tend to weaken the Government's authority. And so 
Gillespie escaped. 

In the career of Raffles one has frequently to encounter 
quarrels of this kind. Wherever he went undercurrents 
of enmity ran strong. In Penang it was Bannerman, 
in Java it was Gillespie, in Singapore it was Farquhar. 
One wonders who was to blame. It certainly looks bad 
when the same one quarrels with many ; and the im- 
mediate judgment suggests that the one could not always 
be innocent. Why did so many of his compeers hate 
him ? Did his ability provoke their jealousy ? Was 
it the fact that he had come into the service of the Com- 
pany, not by the usual way of family tradition and 
I favour, but by the force of sheer merit, and so always 

seemed an outsider and an upstart ? Was it ? 

There are many surmises easy to make. But this may 
je said, that in all the quarrels one can recognise a high. 


clean, disinterested earnestness over against the loose 
morals and the slack, proud disdain of those who despised 
the natives and who thought themselves born to rule, 
ruling being interpreted as arrogance. lago said of Cassio: 
" The daily beauty of his hfe makes me ugly," and 
Shakespeare thought that a sufficient seed of hate and 
tragedy. Such a saying may be the key to the mystery 
of Raffles's frequent quarrels. 

It happened that Lord Minto retired from supreme 
office a few weeks after the fuming Gillespie arrived in 
Calcutta. He was succeeded by Lord Moira. The new 
" Pharaoh " did not know " Joseph " ; and it was easy 
for Gillespie to drop poison into his chief's mind. 

Blagrave and Gillespie laid their heads together, and 
on the I St January 1814 Lord Moira 's Council had before 
them formulated charges against the administration in 
Java. All the proceedings were conducted by the 
Secret Department. Seventeen definite charges were 
examined, the chief being that Raffles had been a private 
purchaser of Government lands at the time he was 
Governor of Java ; that he had rejected a tender of a 
higher sum in one lot than the price he and his friends 
were willing to offer ; that he had rewarded his chief 
friend and co-partner in these transactions with the 
lease of a mountain famous for its edible birds' nests 
(a Chinese delicacy) at an unduly small sum. A cunning 
mixture of truth and falsehood held these charges to- 
gether. It was true that Raffles had privately purchased 
some Government land, and this was against the rules 
of the Company. But the situation was exceptional, 
and critical for the whole future of the Colony. In the 
chaos of the times public confidence had to be restored. 
The commercial leaders would not purchase unless they 
had the Government in some way behind them. To 
meet the case Raffles took his reputation in his hands and 
became a joint-purchaser with others at a public sale of 
land. This gave the necessary confidence, and the 
commercial future of the Colony was assured. Lord 
Minto, in his original instructions to Raffles, had fore- 


seen the possibility and sanctioned it. Gillespie himself, 
as a member of the Council, had given his consent at the 
time. Of course the fact that the Governor became a 
private purchaser of land was open to very grave 
objection. It was a risk incurred to encourage timid 
purchasers, and it attained its purpose. Why did Gilles- 
pie not protest at the time ? He was present at the sale. 
He was silent when he should have spoken ; now he 
spoke when he should have been silent. What motive 
prompted that ? 

The other charges were mostly false. The birds' 
nests were mares' nests. A fair price had been paid 
for the lease. No one save those who wished to 
besmirch Raffles ever thought of saying otherwise. As a 
result of the secret enquiries a letter containing the whole 
string of charges and demanding explanations was drawn 
up with unseemly haste, and on the 24th February 1814 
it arrived in Java, without previous warning of any kind. 
It fell like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. 

A dramatic scene, partly vouched for by eye-witnesses, 
partly revealed in private letters, partly guessed at by 
the sympathetic imagination, enables us to see far into 
the workings of Raffles's mind. The day the letter 
arrived a large party of British and Dutch residents had 
assembled at Government House, Buitenzorg. A play 
was to be performed by the members of Raffles's staff, 
and a ball was to follow. After three years of strenuous 
toil Raffles had attained the pinnacle of his success, and 
had so gained the confidence of all that even the heredi- 
tary enmity between Dutch and British had vanished. 
There did not seem a cloud in the sky ; and this brilliant 
assembly celebrated his achievement. In the midst of 
the festivity the blue packet with its red tape and seal 
was handed to the host, and, excusing himself to his 
guests, he retired for a few minutes to peruse the message. 
When he returned no visitor could perceive the slightest 
alteration in his manner. He went in and out among 
his friends and guests with that alluring smile Abdullah 
speaks of, engaging, animated, losing himself in the 


happiness of his companions. Only Olivia, his wife, 
saw the look of suppressed pain that lingered in his eyes. 
It was very late when all the guests had retired, and 
relaxation was possible. He sank into a chair, for a 
moment felt as if he would faint ; a sudden pang 
stabbed him somewhere in the centre of his skull. Then 
he recovered, felt calm, and looked up at Olivia, smiling. 
The smile did not deceive her. 

" What has happened, Stamford ? " she asked. 
" Something is wrong. Tell me." 

" Oh, it's only a letter that I have received from 
Calcutta. I must answer it at once. Here it is. Read 
it. While you are reading, I will think out my reply." 
She took the big blue packet from his hand, opened 
it, and slowly read. But as she went on, a surge of feel- 
ings welled up within her and clouded her eyes so that 
she could not see the words. Suddenly she burst out : 
" Oh, I can't stand it ! " 

" Stand it ? Stand what ? " Raffles quietly asked. 
" I cannot stand your quietness in face of this slander. 
You ought to be raging and stamping 1 " 

As she spoke, she herself crumpled up the papers in 
her hands, crushing them with passionate gestures ; 
then she threw them on the floor and stamped on them 
with her foot again and again and again. 

" Don't, Olivia, don't ! That's Government paper. 
You must show it proper respect." His raillery was 
lost on her. 

" No ! " she cried hysterically. "It's a viper — a 
slanderous viper — a cold-blooded, stinging viper, and 

you ought to be battering and slaying it. Oh, I'm so 

sorry ! " 

The wave of indignation had spent itself as suddenly 
as it had risen, collapsing into womanly weeping. For 
a time the room was perfectly still, save for the convul- 
sive beating of her sobs. When she recollected herself 
he was saying, " That's better, my dear. You are a 
good wife to me. You have helped me and cleared my 
brain by exploding rage for me. Now I can write my 



reply clearly. See, I will get pen and paper and write 
it here. We shall write it together, and slay this viper 
of slander before we go to bed. Then we shall both feel 
better in the morning." 

And the letter that was written may be read on page 
225 of Mr. Boulger's most excellent biography. 

The sequel to all this is very sad reading. Before 
Raffles 's reply reached Calcutta General Gillespie was 
dead ; a brave soldier's fate had overtaken him in the 
battle of Kalunga. The Government Secret Depart- 
ment which had been so hasty in accepting the charges 
became very slack and slow in considering their refuta- 
tion. Thirteen months passed before Lord Moira's very 
stiff and unyielding minute on the subject was issued. 
Meanwhile many things had happened. The great 
European war was ended. The British had given Java 
back to the Dutch. Olivia was dead. And (but very 
grudgingly) Raffles had been appointed as Governor of 

Before taking up his new duties he went to England 
for his first furlough. There he memorialised the 
Supreme Council at Leadenhall Street for a full acquittal. 
Then it was found that so averse to Java and its value 
(although it was the richest of the Eastern Islands and 
more valuable at that time than British India itself) 
were the nincompoops in office that despatches from 
Java had not even been opened. The complete justifica- 
tion of the policy and work of Raffles came very tardily 
on the 13th February 181 7. He had been in the School 
of Slander for three bitter years. 

When Raffles was saying good-bye to his Java staff 
in March 1816, he did what great men, who are also men 
of deep feelings, on rare occasions have been known to do 
— for a brief moment he dropped the official reserve, and 
spokewords that gave a vision of his innermost sanctuary. 
" You have been with me," he said, " in the days of 
happiness and joy — in the hours that were beguiled 
away under the enchanting spell of one of whom the 
recollection awakens feelings which I cannot suppress." 



It was of Olivia he spoke. Whoever would under- 
stand the soul of Stamford Raffles must ponder over the 
element of enraptured romance he hints at in the 
words " enchanting spell " which then escaped from his 
lips, loosened for an instant. 

The spell had lasted twelve years when the words were 
spoken, and, though he married again and had all the 
diverting allurements of a family of young children to 
dim the memory of Olivia, it is undoubted that she 
was for ever to him as one who had been buried in 
his heart. 

She was ten years his senior, and a widow when he 
first met her. One day in August or September 1804, 
a tall Irish lady with flashing black eyes, calling herself 
Mrs. Olivia Fancourt, presented her petition at the East 
India House for the pension due to her late husband, 
who had been an assistant surgeon in India from 1791 
until his death in 1800. It fell to Raffles to receive and 
arrange the lady's business. .So, across the counter, 
talking prosaic details of finance, our Romeo met his 
Juliet. Love cares nothing for conventional barriers. 
Difference in their ages and widowhood created no 
difficulty. Some six months later, when Raffles received 
his appointment to Penang, the two were married in the 
Parish Church of St. George, Bloomsbury, and sailed 
away together for life's adventure in the Far Eastern 

And it was not only upon Raffles that the enchanting 
spell of Olivia lighted. In the highest circles she shone 
as a star. Among the ladies of the Court at Calcutta 
Lord Minto distinguishes her as " the great lady with 
dark eyes, lively manner, accomplished and clever. She 
was one of the beauties to whom Anacreontic Moore 
addressed many of his amatory elegies." John Leyden, 
in a letter, called her " my dear sister Olivia," and, in a 
poem written immediately after a visit to Penang during 
which he had been the guest of Raffles and Olivia at 
" Runnymede," and had been tended through a time 
of severe sickness by his hostess, apostrophising the 


departed year (i 805), this great scholar and friend of Sir 
Walter Scott thus expresses the soul of friendship — 

But chief that in this Eeistern isle. 

Girt by the green and glistening wave, 
Olivia's kind endearing smile 

Seemed to recall me from the grave. 
When far beyond Malaya's sea 

I trace dark Soonda's forests drear, 
Olivia I I shall think of thee 

And bless thy steps, departed year. 

Abdullah, whose reminiscences are our chief authority 
for the personal touches in Raffles's career, speaks of 
Olivia as one " in every respect co-equal with her 
husband's position and responsibilities — ^when buying 
anything he always deferred to her. Thus, if it pleased 
his wife, it pleased him. Her habits were active — sewing 
— writing — always at work with diligence, as day succeeds 
day. Unlike the Malayan women who, on becoming 
wives of great people, increase their arrogance, laziness, 
and habitual procrastination, Mrs. Raffles kept her hands 
in continual motion, like chopping one bit after another. 
She did the duty of her husband ; indeed, it was she who 
taught him. Thus God had matched them as King 
and Counsellor, or as a ring with its jewels." 

This moulding influence of Olivia upon her young 
husband was supplemented by the even more remarkable 
influence of John Leyden. They were a trio of friends. 
Three months in Penang under Raffles's roof welded 
them all together in a friendship that was passionate and 
lifelong. The great dream of a Malay Empire under 
British guidance was stimulated in Raffles's mind during 
the intercourse of those memorable days he spent with 
the spacious and fiery mind of the amazing Scottish 
scholar. There had been an ancient Malay Empire. 
Even to-day the Malay bears the marks of an imperious 
and dominant race. Aristocracy, like the perfume of a 
faded flower, hovers about many of their ways. But 
luxury and success spoiled the hardihood of the imperial 
race. Long centuries ago, the crowd of States had been 
united under one suzerain. He was the Bitara, or Lord 


Protector, and ruled in Java. Why not revive the 
ancient title under the British flag ? asked Leyden. 
Might not the Governor-General be the " Bitara " of 
a new Malayan Confederation of States ? Let the rights 
of individual rajahs be respected. Let the freedom of 
the seas be established. Let piracy be swept from the 
avenues of trade. Let slavery be abolished. Let the 
Chinese, or any others who came only to oppress the 
honourable citizens, feel the power of a strong, just rule. 
Under such a " Bitara " as the good Maharajah of 
Bengal (as Leyden suggested to Lord Minto himself) 
this could all be done. Away with the Chinese tax- 
farms ! Away with the Dutch monopolies ! Away 
with the Americans who recklessly introduced firearms ! 
Malaya for the Malays ! Let kindly civilisation, with 
freedom of trade, freedom of religion, freedom of educa- 
tion, bring peace to the torn and plundered islands of 
ancient Malaya ! 

Raffles, Olivia, and Leyden were welded together into 
a triple chain of noble ambition as such thoughts as these 
were melted and moulded in the furnace of their friend- 

Together the three of them went to Java in 1811. 
The success of Minto's expedition seemed to herald the 
fulfilment of their vision. Alas, two days after the 
battle of Cornelis, Leyden died ! His eager mind had 
drawn him immediately to the archives of Batavia, 
and he commenced a study of the papers for help in the 
scheme. He went into a room that had long been 
closed up, spent some time examining the musty insect- 
bored volumes on the shelves. When he came out of 
the room he was a stricken man. Two days of fever 
and he died in Raffles's arms. This was a cruel stroke 
of sorrow. One of the friends would never see the dream 
fulfilled. But two were left. So, as we have seen. 
Raffles and Olivia carried through their great Java 
work. Three years they toiled together, and then 
Olivia followed Leyden into the shadows. Raffles was 
now alone. And when the crash came in 1816, and the 


British removed from Java, the dream seemed com- 
pletely vanished. 

The next three years, till 18 19, must have been bitter 
and solitary. Many a day, had we been able, we might 
have interpreted his feelings in some such way as this : 
He is stationed at Bencoolen ; as his enemies sinisterly 
think, shunted there out of the way. When we look 
in upon him he is in a reminiscent mood. The day 
has been nerve-racking and tiring. He has closed his 
eyes, and the paper he was reading lies idly upon his 
knees. This, as Abdullah has told us, is his favourite 
attitude for meditation. Abdullah knew not to disturb 
his master when he fell into such an attitude. This 
time, however, the tired mind has dropped into something 
deeper than reflection. The weary brain has stolen a 
march upon his will, and he sleeps. In his sleep reminis- 
cence becomes a vision. The miracle of ancient times 
repeats itself, and the shadow on the dial has gone back 
several degrees. The years are abolished. He is back 
in Java again. Java ! His lost Paradise. Olivia and 
Leyden are with him. He and they have just been 
talking of their Malayan dream. Somehow, every time 
Raffles felt himself sorely pressed with cares of state 
; and out of touch with the harmonies of things, every 
time the petty, tantalising demands of life jarred him, it 
, was always to these two his soul reached back. Oh, 
I how full and glorious had been those Java days 1 Olivia 
is sitting beside him at the table. Across the room, with 
[ his back towards them, stands Leyden ; he is searching 
[for some book on the shelf. That is like him ; like the 
[eager student and the friend of the great Sir Walter. 
jLeyden turns, his big eyes shine out of his round, 
iboyish face. He has found the book he wanted. Then 
Ihe talks. How gloriously Leyden talks 1 . . . Then, with 
[a slight shiver, the dreamer awakes. The paper falls 
from his knee. He makes a quick gesture to catch it, 
and the movement brings him completely back to his 
lonely world. " Dear me ! I must have been asleep. 
Are they gone? quite gone? Where are they? They 


were here so vividly a moment ago. Where are they — 
my friends, OUvia and Leyden ? Their bodies are in 
Java. But they, where ? And the great dream of 
Malaya we dreamed together 1 Is that completely 
vanished too ? " 

It seemed vanished ; but it was not so. The School 
of Sorrow had now completed the work commenced in 
the Schools of Tyranny and Slander ; and of Raffles, 
as of Charles Lamb, S. T. Coleridge might now have 
said : " I look upon you as a man called by sorrow 
and anguish and a strange desolation of hopes into quiet- 
ness, and a soul set apart and made peculiar to God 1 " 

A soul set apart, indeed ! An instrument now com- 
pleted, tempered, and ground and set I And when 1819 
arrived, the hour of Singapore's destiny struck, for the 
man of her destiny was ready. 

II. Steps Towards Singapore 

When the fatal decision was made that Java was to 
be handed back to the Dutch, it seemed the knell of 
British ascendancy in Malaya. Nothing was able to 
stay the encroachments of the monopolists. Pontianak 
and Malacca fell into their hands. Experienced British 
traders prepared to withdraw. The Native States began 
to accept the inevitable. Driven from honest trading, 
and made desperate by the extreme severity of the 
white man's punishments, pirate parties increased all 
along the coasts, until the seas became infested with 
danger. Devotion and patriotism, which might have 
been the pillars of racial virtue, became crimes. Soon 
Raffles was driven to say, " I much fear the Dutch have 
hardly left British traders an inch of ground to stand 

On the 20th March 181 8 he arrived at Bencoolen to 
take up his new work as Governor there. Difficulties 
beset him on every side. It was known that he was in 
great disfavour with the London Secret Committee. His 
friends on the Governing Board had to use their utmost 
influence to prevent his being recalled altogether and 


put out of the service. The fact was that the authorities 
had accepted the Dutch ascendancy in the Far East as 
settled, and were in terror lest any fresh collision of trade 
interests in the Straits might involve trouble and war 
in Europe. Now Napoleon was crushed they were 
determined at all costs to maintain peace. But Raffles 
had come back to Malaya with a clear policy in his mind. 
He saw farther into the future than any of his contem- 
poraries, and to his mind the time had come for a 
supreme stroke. It was now or never. Singapore 
was the point of action he had secretly determined on. 
His secret was known only to one or two. 

His first step towards Singapore was the winning of 
Lord Hastings, who had succeeded Lord Minto as Gover- 
nor-General in Bengal, whence all movements of policy 
were directed. In a letter intimating his arrival at his 
post as Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen, Raffles asked 
permission to visit Calcutta to lay before the Supreme 
Council there his ideas concerning Sumatra and the 
Archipelago. He was cordially permitted. Hastings 
was big enough to apprehend and accept his brilliant 
subordinate's daring suggestions, and Raffles came away 
from the interview with a special twofold commission : 
to settle the Acheen dispute and to occupy or create a 
trading station somewhere south of Malacca, Rhio and 
Johore being indicated as possible places. But even as 
he sanctioned this new move, Hastings, remembering 
the opposition to Raffles at home, had some misgiving. 
Raffles instinctively had an inkling of this wavering in 
^he mind of his chief, and determined to act with light- 
ing promptitude. On the sth December he received 
lis completed instructions. On the 12th December he 
sailed in the Nearchus for Penang. On the 3 1 st December 
he arrived at Penang. Here, however, he was beset 
with a myriad obstacles, and an extraordinary and 
dramatic duel of interests and wit ensued during the 
next three weeks between Governor Bannerman of 
Penang and the newly appointed Agent, seeking at last 
the realisation of his life's long dream. 



Again a little imagination is needed to get inside what 
happened. New Year's Eve at the dawning of 1819 
opens the drama. The arrival of Raffles dropped like a 
stone into the peaceful pool of official life in Penang. 
Plottings and small ambitions were violently upset by 
his coming. Governor Bannerman, either because he 
had accepted the supremacy of the Dutch in the Straits 
as an irretrievable fact, or, more probably, because 
jealousy prompted him to resent the new commission 
which made Raffles independent of the Penang Govern- 
ment, did his utmost to upset the new scheme. The 
affairs of Acheen and the establishment of new trading 
stations had hitherto been in Bannerman's hands. It 
was natural for a small man to feel resentment at the 
intruder who poached upon his preserves. And these 
preserves, especially in Acheen, were in very delicate 
condition at this juncture. Johor, the legitimate King 
of Acheen, was a highly educated man, but had fallen 
under evil influences and drunken habits. There had 
been disputes in the royal house, and a band of chiefs 
wished to depose Johor and make Saif king. Saif was 
the son of Syed Hussain, a wealthy Penang merchant. 
The security of the rival claimants depended upon which 
of them could win the support of the British authorities 
in Penang. By lavish gifts and secret intrigues the 
Penang merchant had so wormed himself into favour that 
the Penang Government had joined the plot to dethrone 
Johor and establish Saif as King of the Acheenese. Six 
months before this, both claimants had sent representa- 
tions to Lord Hastings, and it was the settlement of this 
dispute that had been put into the hands of Raffles. 
Raffles, it was rumoured, favoured strongly the claims 
of Johor, the legitimate king. His coming was very 
untimely for the plans of Syed Hussain and the officials 
of Penang who were involved. These had got round 
Governor Bannerman, and roused his already jealous 
feelings against one whom they called an interloper. 

The other item in Raffles 's new commission was dis- 
tasteful to the entire policy of the Penang officials. 



Any trading station further east than Penang would 
be bound to threaten Penang's prosperity and leading 
position. For many years it had been the policy of 
the Penang Government to prevent this. And now 
that the Dutch had taken over Malacca, it became a 
fixed policy that no British trading station should be 
established as a rival to Penang. Raffles was the one 
man in the Service who had all along stood up against 
this traditional and parochial policy. At last, by his 
persuasive tongue, he had convinced the Chief in Bengal 
that a larger policy was possible as well as expedient. 
Unless the British secured a station somewhere on the 
main trading-route round the south of the Malay 
Peninsula, the Dutch would soon have entire control 
of all the Far Eastern commerce. 

The Dutch were pressing in everywhere. The supine, 
not to say scandalous, attitude of the Penang officials 
gave the Hollanders chances they were quick to seize. 
Malacca itself had been given up to them in September 
1 81 8, and Major WilHam Farquhar, the late British 
Resident, was actually in Penang waiting for a home- 
ward-bound ship, disgust at the futility of opposing the 
Dutch encroachments making him irritated at the 
whole Service. When Raffles reached Penang he 
immediately found a kindred spirit in Farquhar. The 
news had just arrived that Rhio had been occupied by 
the Dutch. To Farquhar's mind the only other avail- 
able spot for a British station was the Karimon Islands. 
Any day the Dutch might land there. No one men- 
tioned Singapore. It was a decayed and forgotten 
place. Yet already Raffles had settled in his mind that 
Singapore was the destined place. Among so many 
enemies he kept his own counsel. 

The Dutch were pushing into Acheen affairs. A 
Dutch brig sailed into Teluksamoy and sent a present 
of three guns to King Johor, saying they would become 
his protector and restore his authority if he gave the 
word. Johor was tempted, but answered that he would 
wait first for the reply now daily expected from the 



British. The truth was, he had received a private 
letter from Raffles sent even before Raffles went to 
consult Lord Hastings in Calcutta, and he trusted in 
that. Still, if the British failed him, he would put him- 
self under the Dutch flag. Knowledge of this crisis 
made Raffles feel that there was no time to lose. Both 
in Acheen and in the search for a new trading station 
in the south, days, if not even hours, might turn the 

In both directions Governor Bannerman was blocking 
the way. He would not consent to give Raffles the ships 
and men he needed, neither for the one part nor the 
other of the double commission. He persisted in urging 
delay. There were difficulties, he said. They had 
better refer the whole matter again to Bengal. The 
new Dutch encroachments raised new questions. All of 
which was simply a clumsy effort to keep Raffles 
kicking his heels in Penang, and prevent him going 
either west or south. 

Raffles, as we have seen, found a kindred spirit in 
Farquhar. Let us listen to them talking over the 
breakfast-table at " Runnymede," where Raffles and 
his wife. Dr. Jack, and Farquhar were gathered one 
morning during the first week of 1819. 

Farquhar : " What do you think you will do ? " 

Raffles : " I haven't made up my mind yet. Things 
seem to be very crooked here. Even bribery and 
corruption are afoot. Do you know, yesterday a string 
of pearls was left here as a present to my wife from some 
wealthy Arab — Hussain himself, I think. Does he 
think he will bribe me ? I can't make out what the 
Governor wants. He will neither consent to my going 
to Acheen nor to my going south. And he knows very 
well that every hour is precious. We are likely to be 
ousted from the whole country if we do not hurry up." 

Farquhar : " Well, I am done with it. I want to get 
home. Now that the Hollanders have Malacca and 
Rhio, we may as well retire. There is only one small 
chance left. That is, to get Karimon. Karimon is the 


only possible key out of our prison. Once let them get 
Karimon, and the whole trade route by the south is 

Raffles (bending his head down upon his hands, 
with finger-tips pressed together, and a faint flicker of 
a smile hovering on his lips) : " Then you think Karimon 
is the place. Well, will you join me in securing it ? I 
am commissioned by Lord Hastings to settle the Acheen 
affair first, and after that to go south and find a site 
for a new trading station. From what you say, and 
from what I know, delay is fatal. If you would go on 
to secure Karimon, I could go to Acheen, settle that, 
and then come on to join you. In that way we might 
foil the enemy in both places." 

Farquhar was persuaded. Raffles, of course, had no 
intention of making Karimon the place. But he felt 
himself in the midst of plottings. He remembered his 
misgivings about Hastings. As a matter of fact a 
countermanding letter was actually on the way pro- 
hibiting him from making the effort to found a new 
colony. Nothing but the promptest action could gain 
the day. He went to his desk and wrote to Banner- 
man : 

" My commission is to go first to Acheen and settle 
the dispute there. After that I have to proceed south 
and make a stand for British interests at some point 
beyond Malacca. The Dutch have taken Rhio. This 
was anticipated by Lord Hastings. My commission 
tells me to find a spot the Dutch have not yet occupied. 
In my mind I have such a spot where we may maintain 
the British flag flying. I cannot disobey my instruc- 
tions, and therefore must go to Acheen first. My 
decision is made. Give me the necessary facilities so 
that I may send Farquhar to search for likely places 
down the Straits, until I am ready to join him." 

This was exactly what his enemies wanted. Banner- 
man and those around him now thought they had 
Raffles in their net. Arrangements were hastily made, 


and on the i8th January, Farquhar, in charge of a Httle 
squadron of ships, left Penang Roads and sailed towards 
the south. Farquhar's ships were hardly out of sight 
when Governor Bannerman wrote to Raffles earnestly 
urging him to postpone his Acheen mission, on the plea 
that a reply to a reference which had been made to the 
Bengal Authorities was due in a few days. Raffles was 
to be held up idle in Penang. This was what Dr. Jack 
sarcastically called " Bannerman's master-stroke." 

The moment Raffles received the Governor's communi- 
cation, he took action. Official sanction now covered 
the apparent disobedience to the order of his com- 
mission, which was Acheen first and then the new colony. 
A special messenger was secretly sent to Farquhar, 
whose ships, outside the harbour, were at anchor waiting 
for the tide that would enable them to pass through 
the shallow south channel. Farquhar was instructed 
to proceed slowly, and expect Raffles to make up on 
the squadron. It was well on in the afternoon when 
that message was delivered and Farquhar sailed. The 
ship which had been waiting in readiness to take Raffles 
to Acheen was in the harbour. All that night busy 
men were carrying Raffles 's baggage on board. Before 
daybreak the eager dreamer, now on the verge of his 
great adventure, was in his study writing a reply to the 
Governor, and saying : " I agree to your request to delay 
my journey to Acheen. Meantime, not to waste time, 
I am off to join Farquhar and to carry out the second 
part of my commission, and to found the new colony in 
the South." 

When Bannerman, and the various officials and others 
who had duped him, got up on the morning of the 
19th January, it was to find that the bird had broken the 
meshes of the net and flown at daybreak, not to be 
recalled. The memorable voyage had begun. There 
were six ships in the little fleet. It is worth while re- 
calling their names : two cruisers, Nearchus and Minto ; 
and four merchant ships. Mercury, Indiana, Enterprise, 
and Ganges. The Minto carried Raffles. 


To please Farquhar they halted and inspected Kari- 
mon. It was found to be impenetrable jungle and quite 
unsuitable. On the evening of the 28th January they cast 
anchor at Pulo Skijang, and the moment for the glorious 
beginning had arrived. 

III. The Glorious Beginning 
Mr. Buckley, with his characteristic painstaking, has 
arranged for us a host of minute details by which we 
are able to follow the movements of Raffles almost 
step by step when he landed in the morning. The 
entrance to the river was thick with mangrove trees. 
The little canoe, carrying Raffles and Farquhar and one 
sepoy soldier, was rowed up the stream some 400 yards. 
On their left was a slight hill covered with jungle, and 
beyond that a wide stretch of marsh. No inhabitant 
was to be seen on that side of the river. On their right 
appeared a clearing with some forty or fifty Malay huts 
and one larger house. A few coconut palms stood in 
the foreground. Boats, swarming with men, women 
and children, retreated up the river as the strangers 
advanced. Opposite the big house the canoe halted, 
and the two adventurers landed. Farquhar sat down 
under a tree, saying : "I'll wait here and keep my eye 
on the boat." Raffles walked up to the house. Far- 
quhar then followed and came to the edge of the 
verandah. The Tumungong came out and gave them 
some rambutan. Then Raffles went inside. The con- 
versation that followed made a favourable impression 
upon the Tumungong, and about four in the afternoon 
Raffles and his companions returned to the ships lying 
at anchor near St. John's Island. 

Next day the work of colonising was begun. Tents 
and baggage were brought ashore. The scrub that 
filled the plain was cut down to make room for the 
tents. A well was dug, and, as a token of friendship, 
all drank of the water. Raffles spent most of that day 
with the Tumungong, and a preliminary treaty was made. 
More than this the Tumungong was unable to do, for 



though he was chief of the island of Singapore, he held 
his rights under the Sultan of Johore. A difficulty 
arose because of this, for the Sultan had recently died, 
and the succession was in dispute between two sons. 
Hoosain, the eldest son of the late Sultan, was on the 
island of Pinigad, near Rhio, waiting there till the 
dispute should be settled. According to Malay custom, 
no Sultan could be enthroned without the necessary 
regalia, and the regalia was in the jealous possession of 
Tunku Putri, the widow of the late ruler. Farquhar 
was therefore dispatched to interview this spirited old 
lady. When he landed in Pinigad, he found Sultan 
Hoosain quite willing to follow the lead of the British. 
Abdullah gives a gross and graphic picture of this 
potentate. He was a fleshly man, shapeless with fat, 
as broad as he was long ; his head was so sunk in his 
body that he seemed neckless. He walked with feet 
wide apart as if balancing the mass he had to carry. 
The voice that issued from his wide, sensuous mouth was 
husky and toneless. When he sat, he slept. This was 
the man Farquhar returned with on the sth February. 
Meantime, Raffles had made considerable progress with 
his scheme. The ground of the coming city had been 
surveyed. " Here I am in Singapore," he wrote to 
Mr. Marsden, " true to my word and in the enjoyment 
of all the pleasure which a footing on such classic ground 
inspires. It is the very seat of the ancient Malayan 
Empire. There will be violent opposition on the part 
of the Government of Penang. But if I keep Singapore 
I shall be satisfied." On Saturday, the 6th February, 
the fruits of Raffles's survey appeared. A careful treaty 
was drawn up, inscribed on sheets of rough, thick, white 
foolscap. The British were authorised to establish a 
factory, and in return the Tumungong and Sultan both 
agreed that no other nation should receive trading 
rights in the place. Full protection of the Malays was 
guaranteed by the British, and ample income allowances 
for the two chiefs were ratified. To this document the 
seal of the Honourable East India Company, on thick. 


red sealing-wax, was attached. Raffles signed. The 
chops of the Sultan and the Tumungong were made by 
holding the brass seal in the smoke of a lamp until it 
was covered with lamp-black, and then pressing it 
upon the paper. That same day Raffles, as Lieutenant- 
Governor of the new station, handed to Major Farquhar 
a long letter he had drafted, conveying minute instruc- 
tions about the future development of the city. At 
last the dream was becoming a visible reality, and the 
quick spirit of Raffles saw already the crowds flocking 
to create a fair and flourishing colony. That lonely 
week of thought planted the seed of a hundred years. 
Even to-day the plans he conceived for the future of 
the city he loved to call his " political child " make 
wonderful reading as they are unfolded in minutes, and 
proclamations, and speeches fortunately preserved. In 
them we see the dreamer as a practical statesman. He 
foresaw the amazing mixture of races that would gather 
at the new port upon the highway of the seas. To meet 
this unusual condition he laid aside both the idea of 
maintaining by law the customs of the natives and the 
idea of imposing European laws with their civilised 
but foreign processes. His guiding rule was to reach 
after first principles, and to make the government of 
the Settlement stand simply for the suppression of 
crime, the security of property, and the encourage- 
ment of the free growth of moral and mental gifts in 
the whole populace. The Malays were compelled to 
lay aside the kris ; gambling and cock-fighting were 
made illegal because they induced quarrels and robbery ; 
slavery was prohibited ; the use of opium and spirituous 
liquors was strictly regulated in order to suppress 
intoxication ; the far-reaching principle was laid down 
that if a woman debased herself by prostitution, no one 
save herself was to be allowed to trade upon her sin — 
a brothel was to be an impossibility in Singapore ! The 
whole trade of the port was to be free and open to all. 
A copestone was placed upon this arch of civic life by 
the establishment of a college, founded and generously 


endowed for permanent generations, in which Malayan 
and Chinese literature was to be fostered, and education 
afforded for the sons of the higher classes of natives and 
others. " Education," said Raffles, " must keep pace 
with commerce in order that its benefits may be insured 
and its evils avoided. However inviting and extensive 
the resources of a country may be, they can best be 
drawn forth by the native energies of the people them- 
selves. Singapore is the most eligible situation for an 
educational establishment. It is a place, central among 
the Malay States, hallowed by the ideas of a remote 
antiquity, venerable in its associations and memories 
as the seat of their ancient government and the home 
of their ancient line of kings. If commerce brings 
wealth to our shores, it is the spirit of literature and 
philanthropy that teaches us how to employ it for the 
noblest uses. It is this that made Britain go forth 
among the nations strong in her native might to dispense 
blessings to all around her. I am sanguine in my hope 
that Singapore will stand foremost in effecting that 
grand object of Christian civilisation." 

Under the sway of such elevated and imperial thoughts 
the foundations of the Lion City of Malaya were laid 
a hundred years ago. 

It is somewhat disconcerting at first to remember 
how few of the days of his life Raffles really spent in 
the city which for ever embalms his fame: in 1819, 
from the 28th January to the 7th February, ten days ; 
in 1 820, from June to September, barely four months ; 
in 1822-3, from October to June, another eight months. 
That was all, just one year, in three broken visits ; 
and three-fourths of the time he suffered from head- 
aches that seemed to split his skull. Yes, it is somewhat 
disconcerting to think of it. But he came to his work, 
an instrument set to perfection. Time is not needed 
for great work, if the hand that works is a master-hand. 
One has seen a painter, after long brooding, moving 
backward, forward, to this side, to that side, standing 


abstractedly as if doing nothing, while the onlooker 
grew aweary of waiting, suddenly step up to the 
canvas and with the quick flick of his hand put just 
one tiny speck upon the painting ; no more ! but all 
the skill of concentrated genius appeared in the wonder- 
ful and glorious effect of that divine touch. The 
picture lived. And one has seen a golfer address his 
ball with flourishes and glances and measurings until 
it seemed as if nothing but palaver was in the game, 
and then, a subtle swerving of the lithe body, a sudden 
complicated jerk and stroke, and the ball rose from 
the grass as if inspired and ran like a live thing straight 
for its hole, and disappeared. Such a master-painter 
and such a golfer was Raffles, only he painted upon the 
canvas of an empire's life and struck the golf-ball of 
an empire's destiny. 

In one of his letters he said that he liked to look 
" a hundred years ahead" ; and during that week in 
February 1819, and during the brief visits he made 
afterwards to see how his political child fared, his eyes 
always had the far-away look of the dreamer who dips 
into the future far as human eye can see, though his 
hands were always those of the practical worker. Over 
Singapore, therefore, as over few of the cities of the 
world, hovers the glory of an ideal. 

Raffles foresaw that there would be violent oppo- 
sition to the new colony, and sure enough the storm 
came from almost every quarter. The Sultan and the 
Tumungong funked, and sent cringing letters of ex- 
planation to the Dutch ; the Dutch Governor of Malacca 
wrote to Governor Bannerman of Penang that Singa- 
pore had been seized by force, and threatened to attack 
the new station. Bannerman replied deprecating any 
acts of war, pleading that he had written the Governor- 
General denouncing Raffles and all his doings. It was 
a base despatch, from a man who looked into the 
future with fluttering and cowardly heart. At the 
moment he wrote this letter of trembling fear. Banner- 
man had in his hands an urgent appeal from Farquhar 



asking for reinforcements in view of the expected Dutch 
attack. Bannerman replied : " Give up this mad 
adventure. Are you justified in shedding blood ? 
You have the cruiser Nearchus and the brig Ganges 
with you. Remove your party in them. You must 
not expect help from me till I have heard from Bengal. 
A force from here could not oppose the overwhelming 
armament at the disposal of the Batavian Govern- 
ment." The letter to Bengal had ridiculed the founding 
of Singapore as one of " Raffles 's aberrations," and so, 
on the 2oth February, Lord Hastings wrote : " Raffles 
was not justified in sending Major Farquhar. If the 
post has not been obtained he is to desist from any 
further attempt to establish one." Had Raffles gone 
first to Acheen, as his original commission instructed 
him, Singapore would never have been founded. For- 
tunately, the post had been secured three weeks before 
that despatch was penned. In a later despatch 
Hastings said that since the station had been occupied 
and the British flag hoisted, the inevitable had to be 
accepted and the flag maintained. When the news 
reached London the Secret Committee at India House 
could not restrain its fear. They seemed frantic with 
anxiety, and wrote Hastings as if in immediate dread of 
a war with Holland : " Any difficulty with the Dutch 
will be created by Sir Stamford Raffles 's intemperance 
of conduct." And these were our practical statesmen ! 
But the practical mystic had baffled them. Events 
proved that the " political child " was safe. In July 
1820, to his cousin. Raffles summed up the situation : 
Instead of being supported by my own Parliament 
I find them deserting me and giving way in every instance 
to the unscrupulous and enormous pretensions of the 
Dutch. . . . The great blow has been struck, and though 
I may personally suffer in the scuffle, the nation will be 
benefited. I should not be surprised were the ministers 
to recall me." 


IV. The Crushing of a Titanic Soul 

While Singapore was thus lifting up its sunrise head 
the shadows of sunset were grimly gathering on the 
pathway of its founder. Bencoolen was the head- 
quarters of the Settlements under his care, and thither 
he went when he left Singapore on the 9th June 1823. 

The East had now lost its fascination for him. No 
wonder ! He who had been the proudest and happiest 
of fathers was suddenly bereft of all his children. 
Leopold, " the handsomest and most princely little 
fellow that ever lived," just two years old, sickened, 
and after scarcely a day's illness, died in June 1821. 
Charlotte (the " Water- Lily " he called her), four years 
of age, and Stamford, eighteen months, both died in 
January 1822. In an effort of desperation to save her 
life it was hastily arranged to send Ella, the only 
remaining child, home to England. Under the strain 
of all these griefs he collapsed. " I have been desper- 
ately ill," he wrote in February 1822, " and confined to 
a dark room the last ten days. A severe fever fell on 
my brain, and drove me almost to madness. . . . All 
our thoughts and all our wishes are now turned home- 
wards. . . . Left without a single child ! and how recently 
we had a round and happy circle ! " 

Death struck at friends as well as children. In Sep- 
tember 1822 Dr. Jack, the companion of many travels, 
the chief enthusiast with Raffles in amassing the huge 
collection of fauna and flora and curios now packed 
in the Bencoolen sheds waiting for the homeward 

Iourney, Jack, who was to have accompanied him to 
England, was struck down with acute malaria, and 
lied in Raffles 's house. " All my future views of life," 
aid the bereaved friend, " were intimately blended 
vith plans and projects which we had formed." In 
823 another letter tells of another blow. " My dear 
and valued friend, Captain Salmond, is no more. ... I 
have just opened his will and find he has nominated me 
as his sole executor in the following words : — ' I appoint 


my only friend, Sir Stamford Raffles, to be my executor, 
and I pray God he will take charge of my estate and 
children.' The loss of poor Salmond is quite a death- 
blow to the Settlement. How is it that all we love 
and esteem, all those whose principles we admire, and 
in whom we can place confidence, are thus carried off 
while the vile and worthless remain ? " 

All this accumulation of woes fell upon a nature of 
wonderful natural buoyancy. Raffles always impressed 
people with his bright enthusiasm. Abdullah said of 
him : " He spoke in smiles." One can see the slightly 
stooping figure of middle height, with fair hair crowning 
a massive and shapely head, coming forward, eager to 
talk, the spontaneous smile, like the flame of a lamp, 
lighting up the whole face. Little things gave him 
delight. He would go into lively laughter at the 
gambolling of a monkey or the prattle of a child. People 
were always on the watch about his house to sell him 
curios. The discovery of a rare plant or an unusual 
animal was certain to draw his interest and make him 
happy. He loved to have people about him, and in 
any entertainment that was afoot he was the centre 
of life and spirit. Simplicity, energy, courage, hopeful- 
ness were the secrets of his character. Yet he never 
was physically strong. It was his spirit that carried 
him through. Attacks of illness crippled him all his 
days. In his later days one of his hands became 
cramped. He suffered agonising pains in the head. 
It was observed that his delicate and sensitive mind 
was easily thrown into moods of depression. " Sir 
Stamford is a very bad patient," wrote Dr. Jack once, 
" there is no keeping up his spirits when he is ill." Of 
religion he rarely spoke, but he went far into the heart 
of things when he said : " To me Christianity is the 
simplest of all religions, and therefore the best." In 
the eyes of the natives he seemed a king. He loved the 
Malays, and they in turn worshipped him. Of Henry 
Esmond, Thackeray said that if he had gone into the 
woods the wild tribes would at once have hailed him as 


Sachem. That is the kind of man we have in Stamford 
Raffles. Men marvelled as they saw him controlling 
business. He would write a despatch himself, and at 
the same time keep two assistants going to his dictation 
upon other business. His personal staif toiled for him, 
responding with eagerness to the energy of that brain 
and the sympathy of that great heart. 

As last he was ready to leave the East for ever. All 
that remained to do was to gather together the accumu- 
lations of natural and literary memorials of his Eastern 
life. Between Raffles and the Company that employed 
him there were many causes of quarrel. One of the 
chief was his expenditure of the Company's money in 
collecting objects of natural history and scientific 
interest. The fat merchants of Leadenhall Street saw 
no gain in securing quadrupeds and birds for a Zoo- 
logical Garden, or in dried specimens of tapir and 
seladang for a museum, or in manuscripts of ancient 
Malayan learning. Raffles, therefore, had to put his 
personal fortune into his scientific collection. And 
when the chartered ship Fame was ready at daybreak in 
February 1824 to stand out to sea, she carried as her 
cargo a perfect menagerie and museum, animals and 
plants and curios, as well as some three thousand draw- 
ings and maps, one a great map of Sumatra on which 
he had spent years of labour. Many of these things 
were priceless because they could not be replaced, and 
the whole was reckoned by Raffles to have cost him 
something like £30,000. 

How peaceful his mind must have been that day as 
the ship glided on ! The long struggle of ambition was 
crowned with success. With work well done he was 
returning home, bringing his sheaves with him. The 
garnered treasures of the long years were safely stored 
beside him. Everything promised a quiet voyage, and 
after that retirement and well-earned rest. Alas, one 
day's sailing was all that ship attained ! The night came 
down, and most of the passengers had retired to rest 
when, at 8.20 p.m., the alarm of " Fire ! " shrieked 



through the ship. A careless steward had gone down 
to the store-room with a naked hght in his hand to draw 
off some brandy. HesHpped,theUght fell, the hquid took 
fire, and in a few minutes the whole ship was in flames. 
Ten minutes after the cry of alarm, all the crew 
and passengers, most of them in the scantiest of hastily 
snatched garments, were out on the sea in two frail, 
small boats : and Raffles saw his life's work blaze to the 
heavens in blue saltpetre flames, and then vanish in a 
cloud of dull smoke. Eighteen hours later it was a very 
faint and famished company that landed on the beach 
of Bencoolen, glad to escape with the bare possession of 
life. It was two months before another ship could be 
ready. During that time, by dint of incredible labour. 
Raffles had gathered again an immense store of specimens 
to make up as best he could his heart-breaking losses. 
The titanic soul was stunned and bruised, but not yet 

So, behold him again on his way home, halting at St. 
Helena, where he receives the news that his mother is 
dead, landing at Portsmouth on the 22nd August, shaken, 
but " in better health than could have been expected." 

A few months later we find him settled in his new farm- 
home at Hendon, with William Wilberforce as his 
neighbour, and deep in the counsels of Sir Humphrey 
Davy, who was promoting the Zoological Gardens at 
Regent's Park. But every bit of work now takes virtue 
out of him. Headaches of the most violent nature 
render him useless for days. A stroke that looked hke 
apoplexy pointed a dismal and grim finger towards the 
end. He recovered, and again became full of schemes. 
Many of his friends urg»d him to take up Parliamentary 
life, and the prospect of this dangled alluringly before 
his eyes. First, however, he must get his financial 
affairs settled. There were several accounts between 
him and the Honourable Company in a state of uncer- 
tain abeyance, some of them old accounts reaching 
away back to the days of his administration in Java ; 
complicated items that we need not tarry to explain. 




Enough that they were financial vexations ; and that 
Raffles hoped the Directors, remembering his services 
and his losses on the Fame, would treat him fairly, if 
not generously. A poor pension of £soo was mooted. 
In case of possible demands, should the Directors harden 
their hearts, he had placed his Eastern property in the 
care of the great banking house of Palmer in India. 

On the 1 2th April 1 826 the bolt from the blue fell. The 
Directors revealed themselves as flinty, hard as steel. 
A peremptory demand for the refunding of moneys up to 
the sum of £22,272 was made. The total was worked 
out with mathematical minuteness in petty percentages 
and extra charges, in disputed " out-of-pocket " ex- 
penses and so forth — one item being " house-rent in 
Singapore," as if they were dealing with some runaway 
tradesman. A few days after this demand was delivered 
the mail arrived from India with the news that the great 
banking house had failed, and in the wreck £16,000 of 
Raffles '.s property disappeared. He was driven to the 
necessity of craving indulgence until he could sell the 
investment he had put aside for his family. Without 
doing this he could not meet the claim. 

Take a last imaginative look at him. He is sitting at 
his table in Highwood, the Hendon house, one arm limp 
at his side, the other flung across the table upon a heap of 
papers all covered with weary figures and writing : " a 
little old man, all yellow and blanched, with hair pretty 
well bleached." The smile is wintry now. How old is 
he ? Feelings would say something like a century. The 
years say forty-five, if he lived till the 5th July. On the 
15th June, in a letter to his clergyman cousin, he wrote : 
" I have had a good deal to annoy me since I saw you 
last, but it is a worldly affair, and I trust will not mate- 
rially affect our happiness." The hay harvest drew him 
out to his fields, and a few sunny days seemed to banish his 
cares. After that he was sick and low for several days 
with a bihous attack. On Tuesday, the 4th July , he retired 
about eleven o'clock. The household had planned a 
special day for the morrow ; it would be his birthday. 


Early on the summer morning his room was found 
empty. Search was made. At the bottom of a flight 
of stairs, struck by a stroke of epilepsy, lay the worn- 
out body. The mighty spirit had at last escaped to its 
well-earned rest. 

The Life is the Man. What a man does reveals what 
he is. Simply in the record of his shining achievements, 
with no embellishment save the colouring brought by 
eyes of sympathy and admiration, conscious of his 
limitations but wishing only to remember his amazing 
and sterling virtues, his stirring and golden example, 
we hail across the century that great soul whose per- 
manent monument is a living and noble city, and whose 
memory will abide as a true empire builder and a great 
Christian statesman, in the name Raffles of Singapore. 




By Bernard Nunn, Resident of Malacca 

The subject is undoubtedly one which finds fittingly a 
place in a book commemorating the Hundredth Anniver- 
sary of the foundation of the Settlement of Singapore. 
For the history of a place is the history of the men who 
make it and live in it ; so that if we could portray the 
lives of our governors and civil servants fully and accu- 
rately, there would result a complete record of Singa- 
pore during her hundred years of life. That would be, 
however, not the history of Singapore as a single town or 
settlement, but as the capital (if not the mother city) of 
British Malaya. For though the Settlements rose one 
by one and remained for a time under separate govern- 
ments, and though Singapore was the latest founded of 
the original three, they were very soon welded into 
one whole, at the head of which, almost at a bound, 
stood Singapore. And the prescient settlers of the 
Straits, official and unofficial alike, were ever labouring 
towards a further end — that of intimate relationship with 
the neighbouring Native States of the Peninsula. This 
article will show that the history of Singapore from a 
time very soon after her starting-point was that of her 
sister Settlements, and that gradually, imperceptibly, 
but inevitably it became entwined with that of the 
Malayan States, until the two main groups formed the 
British Malaya of to-day. 
And we cannot confine ourselves to an account of the 




lives and career* of governors and civil servants merely 
in their relation to Singapore history and local politics, 
omitting reference to their actions in the other Settle- 
ments and in the States. Our most modern claim is 
that we have one Civil Service, and the Straits Governors 
have been connected with the Native States from the 
first inception of British relationship with the latter. 

It is proposed, then, to give a brief account of the 
leading officers of the Civil Service, whether their careers 
were mainly connected with Singapore or not, and, in 
doing this, reference will be made to their idiosyncrasies 
as well as their talents, their personal characteristics at 
the same time as their politics, all with the deep respect 
due to good and honest men who have deserved well of 
their mother country and of British Mala5^a. The history 
of our progress is so complicated that, in order duly to 
set our stage and marshal our actors, some division into 
act and scene is necessary. This may, perhaps, be effected 
by separating the story into four main periods, as fol- 
lows : — 

The Four Periods 

I. The founding and early History of the Settlements 

to the date of Combination, 1826. 

II. The Combined Settlements under the East India 

Company to the date of the Transfer to the 
Colonial Office, 1867. 

III. The increase of intimacy with the Native States 

of the Peninsula to the date of the Federation of 
the Malay States, 1896. 

IV. Modern Times. 

Period I, 1 786-1 826 
The First Period presents the initial difficulty of being 
remote, and the books from which information is gathered 
all betray to a somewhat marked extent the personal 
feelings and predilections of the writers rather than the 
clear, cold facts of the true historian. But this method 
in many ways commends itself to us who pry for personal 
detail and local colour amid the dull precisions of fact. 



And the real romance and glamour of those days cannot 
fail to attract, as one by one the actors take the stage, 
just as the first view of the Straits, even in this matter- 
of-fact age, does still impress and charm the new-comer. 
Of course Malaya had endured a long and chequered 
past ere ever the British came to know or have dealings 
with her. But of the old warrings of Malay, Portuguese 
and Hollander, tales and legends of Sang Superba, 
Wertemanns, Francisco d 'Albuquerque, and their like, 
ancient captains and seafarers in the Golden Chersonese, 
we have not to tell. At the time our First Period opens 
the Dutch were the European nation most in view in 
this part of the East, for they held Malacca and many a 
territory and island in the Straits, while the famous East 
India Company, whose name is even now used by natives 
as the designation of the British Government, was 
content with one poor station at Bencoolen in Sumatra. 
Up to 1786 the British had no foothold in the Straits. 

Captain Francis Light, 1786-94 
Then our first actor comes on the stage. Mr. Francis 
Light, a shipmaster and friend of Warren Hastings, 
arranged the cession of Penang, in those early days 
known as Prince of Wales's Island, in honour of the then 
heir to the throne (afterwards George IV), whose birthday 
fell on the day succeeding the formal taking over of the 
new Settlement in 1786. The other contracting party 
was the Sultan of the neighbouring State of Kedah, with 
whom Captain Light was on excellent terms, though it 
appears that there is no ground for the tradition that 
he married the Sultan's daughter and received Penang 

I as his wedding-portion. Captain Light became Superin- 
tendent of the island and Settlement, and will always 
have the glory of having founded the first successful 
" Colony " of the East India Company. So we find 
him approved even by that sarcastic chronicler, Mr. J. T. 
Thomson, F.R.G.S. (" late Government Surveyor Singa- 
pore "), after whom is named Thomson Road, who cites 
him as an example of the superiority of the " uncove- 


nanted " over the " covenanted " Civil Service of the 
(by him) very much detested and execrated Company. 
We shall allude to Mr. Thomson's views later ; in this 
instance his rare praise is thoroughly deserved. 

Captain Light's plans and dreams were not limited 
to the furtherance of British interests in Kedah and the 
northern portion of the Peninsula. His guiding idea 
was to establish his country's influence in this part of 
the world, and so curb the aggressive policy of the Dutch ; 
and he perceived that the means to this end included the 
securing of the Straits, an achievement which would also 
safeguard our trade with China and the Farther East. 
But it was necessary for him to deal first with Kedah 
in order to establish Penang, the new Settlement designed 
by him as the taking-off place for later advances ; and 
it turned out that the inevitable problems and difficulties 
that ensued formed his life's work. He is a romantic 
and a great figure, and he undoubtedly laid the foundation 
of British authority here, thus obtaining for us the 
nucleus of what is now British Malaya. 

Penang remained a Settlement subordinate to Bengal 
until 1805, and in these years was ruled by Superinten- 
dents and Lieutenant-Governors. During this period 
government servants were largely dependent for their 
salaries on private trading, and about this Mr. Thomson 
has much trenchant, and in some instances well-deserved, 
criticism to make with reference to the acts and speeches 
of certain of the higher placed officials, one of whom, the 
last Superintendent, Major MacDonald, he quotes as 
saying, with reference to the non-official colonists, who 
in those days were only present on sufferance or licence 
from the East India Company : " As merchants only 
should Europeans be permitted to settle ; if to their 
convenience a few acres of ground for a house, garden, 
and a few cows were thought necessary, I certainly am 
of opinion it [sic] should be granted ; and, where a 
spirit of industry — a love of improvement — is evinced 
in Europeans, worthy of indulgence, I should have no 
objection to an extension of grant." No wonder that 


Mr. Thomson styles him " a grammarless, inflated, and 
insolent puppet in power ! " 

After this gentleman we find a Lieutenant-Governor 
at Penang, Sir George Leith, who arranged the purchase 
of Province Wellesley from Kedah in 1800. This even 
then fertile tract of country was later benefited, as was 
also Penang, by the Siamese invasion and devastation 
of Kedah in 1821, the fleeing population of the latter 
making excellent settlers in British territory. But in 
those days unfortunate Kedah was ceaselessly ravaged 
by the Siamese and by internal strife, while at the last 
even the British appear to have assisted her enemies, 
with the result that " the Province " was replenished 
with colonists, and " Englishmen speculated and grew 
rich on the troubles of their neighbours " (Thomson). 
That historian is content to leave the responsibility at 
the door of the East India Company rather than at that 
of the Home Government, and modern writers have 
concluded that the Company's blame lies only in failure 
generously to assist an old and friendly neighbour. 

Mr. Robert Farquhar was Lieutenant-Governor of 
Penang in 1803, and Mr. Dundas was first Governor in 
1805, when the Settlement became an independent 
Presidency of India. As such she continued under 
several undistinguished Governors until 1826, when she 
formed one of the " Incorporated Settlements of Prince 
of Wales's Island, Singapore, and Malacca." 

Malacca, i 795-1 826 
Between the years 1795 and 181 8 the British were in 
occupation of Malacca. We had taken over that Settle- 
ment in the first place nominally as protectors of legiti- 
mate Dutch rights usurped by Napoleon, and were pre- 
pared to restore the place to its real owners at the 
Peace of Amiens in 1802. But the war went on, and 
the cost of administration became heavy, trade having 
been largely diverted to Penang. It was under these 
circumstances that Mr. Robert Farquhar, Penang's 
Lieutenant-Governor, recommended that Malacca 


should be abandoned and her fortifications destroyed. 
This proposal was sanctioned by the Court of Directors, 
and the historic monuments of the past razed to the 
ground at great expense ! And Malacca would have 
been deserted by the British had it not been for the 
efforts of the greatest of our pioneers in Malaya, Thomas 
Stamford Raffles, who strongly urged on Lord Minto, 
the Governor-General, the fact that such betrayal of 
the local population would be a reflection on British 
credit. Raffles had come out to the employment of 
the East India Company in 1805 as Assistant Secretary 
at Penang ; he afterwards became Colonial Secretary 
there under Governor Dundas, and later, after a visit 
to Calcutta in 1807, was given by Lord Minto a special 
commission to act as " Governor-General's Agent in the 
Eastern Seas." The wisdom of his advice to continue 
the Settlement of Malacca was soon proved, for the 
expedition which assembled for the conquest of Java 
used the town as a base in 181 1. 

By the Treaty of Vienna in 181 8 Malacca was given 
back to the Dutch ; but she was again taken over by 
Great Britain in 1824. In 1826 she joined her sister 
Settlements as above stated. 

Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Java 
After the conquest of Java Raffles became Lieutenant- 
Governor of that island at the age of thirty, and after 
only six years' service ip the East. He stayed there 
for five years and then went home to recuperate. On 
his return he was appointed to the charge of Bencoolen, 
the mean original Settlement of the Company in 
Sumatra. He had been knighted at home, and Ben- 
coolen was made a Presidency in order to give him the 
title of Lieutenant-Governor. It was about this time 
that he laid before the Governor-General, Lord Hastings, 
his scheme of occupying a central station in the Straits 
south of Malacca. Two treaties were made, the first 
with the Temenggong of Johore on the 30th January 


1 8 19, the second with the Sultan and Temenggong on 
the 6th February of the same year, as a result of which 
Singapore was founded and placed under the Govern- 
ment of Fort Marlborough, Bencoolen. Colonel (then 
Major) William Farquhar was associated with Raffles 
in the quest for a suitable barrier to Dutch influence in 
the Straits, and he, and others on his behalf, have 
claimed the honour of founding Singapore. It is 
remarkable that one of his supporters is the famous 
Abdullah (as chronicled in the Hikaiat), but later his- 
torians, notably Sir Frank Swettenham, after examina- 
tion of the evidence, have convicted the Munshi of 
hearsay, and on the exhibits — the two treaties — have 
given judgment in favour of Raffles. 

Early Days of Singapore, 1819-25 
There followed a period, 1819-25, when Singapore 
was a struggling Settlement : for the first five years 
subject to Bencoolen, with Raffles at the latter seat of 
government ; for the next two subordinate to Bengal, 
after the retirement of Raffles to England. 

During the early part of this time she had to strive 
against attacks and discouragement, which fortunately 
Raffles was near at hand to combat. Lord Hastings 
even, at one time, bade him desist from his enterprise 
for fear of Dutch susceptibilities ; at another, Colonel 
Bannerman, Governor of Penang, tried to wreck the 
: new foundation, and counselled the Calcutta authorities 
to that effect. This sisterly jealousy was no doubt 
caused by Penang 's failure to found a Settlement at 
Rhio. As Swettenham sums up the situation — " Had 
it not been for Raffles, his insistence, his arguments, his 
.labours to secure supporters for his scheme, it is certain 
ithat Singapore would have been abandoned by the 
British, and equally certain that it would now be a Dutch 
possession." And with Raffles's final triumph he asso- 
ciates the mercantile community of the Settlement, 
who exerted all their influence to aid him. 

Raffles went home in 1824, and, after having been 


attended by almost every imaginable misfortune, died 
there two years later, " a little old man, all yellow and 
shrivelled, with hair pretty well bleached," as he him- 
self records — and only forty-five years old. Among 
his many and varied acts in Singapore he furthered the 
administration of justice by appointing magistrates, 
founding Residents' courts, and instituting trial by jury. 
He did much towards the planning of the new city, and 
he instituted a system of land revenue. He was ardent 
in the cause of education, and founded the famous 
institution, now known by his name, to which succeed- 
ing generations owe so much. He abolished slavery 
in Singapore and Malacca. He left behind him the 
outlines of a constitution for the Settlement for the 
guidance of Mr. John Crawfurd, a new Resident of his 
selection, thus laying the foundation of that enlightened 
administration which has admittedly secured her lasting 

Raffles and Light were the first of our nation to recog- 
nise the importance of introducing British influence 
into the Malayan Peninsula and Archipelago in order to 
counteract that of the Dutch in Java. And, as the 
former himself wrote in the early days of Singapore : 
" You may take my word for it, this is by far the most 
important station in the East, and as far as naval 
superiority and commercial interests are concerned, of 
much higher value than whole continents of territory." 

It was his prescience and persistence only that 
secured for us what, we have termed the capital city, 
the centre and starting-point from which sprang, first 
the Straits Settlements, and later British Malaya. Sir 
Frank Swettenham expressed it in another passage : 
" To him we owe Singapore, the gate of the Farther East, 
a naval base of the highest importance, a great com- 
mercial centre and the most prosperous of British Crown 
Colonies. Indirectly, the foresight which secured 
Singapore for the British Empire led also to the exten- 
sion of British influence through the States of the 
Malay Peninsula. ... In this no British party and no 



British Government can claim to have taken any part. 
. . . The man to whom the credit belongs gave his 
talents and his life to achieve an end which he believed 
to be necessary to the prestige, the power and the trade 
of England in the Far East." 

It is some consolation to us, as it must have been to 
him, to know that, when he left Singapore for the last 
time, the esteem and affection towards him of all 
nationalities was shown in the most heartening farewell 

Colonel William Farquhar, First Resident 

A word must here be said of Colonel William Farquhar, 
the other outstanding figure of the earliest period of 
Singapore's history. He was an officer of the Indian 
Army, and was present at the surrender of Malacca in 
1 795. He was in charge of that Settlement as Resident 
on several occasions, and there has been some difference 
of opinion as to whether it was he or Mr. Robert Far- 
quhar of Penang who destroyed the fortifications in 
1807. The discredit for this act of vandalism probably 
belongs to the latter. He was Resident at Singapore 
between the years 1819 and 1823. 

At this period Singapore was regarded by the Supreme 
Government as a military station. The Resident, 
■ among his other duties, was the pohce magistrate. 
Other Government officials were, apparently, an Assis- 
itant Resident, a master attendant, a chaplain, a police 
[.officer, and a survey officer. Farquhar's term of office 
; was not specially noteworthy. It is understood that 
[it was he who first suggested the establishment of a 
Court of Requests, a name that survived up to modern 
times. He also at one time inquired of Raffles whether 
European merchants could be permitted to correspond 
with the Native States ! He vied with Raffles in town- 
planning, paying especial attention to the left bank of 
the river. And he is responsible for the magnificent 
esplanade, the land there being preserved on his protest 


Ava. He also wrote papers on scientific subjects, and 
contributed to Logan's Journal. In 1856 he published 
a Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Isles. He was 
first President of the Straits Settlements Association 
formed in London in 1 868, the year of his death. Among 
the principal acts of his Residentship the one perhaps 
most discussed at the time was' his effort to legalise 
gaming in order to produce revenue. Here Raffles was 
against him ; but Buckley states that the preponderance 
of European public opinion was with Crawfurd, on the 
ground that a Farm could control gambling, whereas an 
inefficient police force could not. Mr. Crawfurd also 
laboured to establish a system which should separate 
executive and judicial authority. But the most 
important historical events of his term of office were 
the two treaties of 1824. 

The Two Treaties of 1824 

The first, made with the Johore authorities, obtained 
the complete cession of Singapore and the final aliena- 
tion of all native claims to title thereto. The other 
was the treaty between Great Britain and Holland, 
under the terms of which the British gave up all their 
possessions in Sumatra, with an agreement that no 
future settlement should be made there, while the Dutch 
gave up Malacca and agreed to abstain from all political 
interference in the Malay Peninsula. They also with- 
drew their objections to our occupation of Singapore. 
So at this date we see not only our capital city finally 
and completely established, but also the scope and field 
of her ambitions and future enterprises clearly and dis- 
tinctly defined. 

Mr. Crawfurd was succeeded by a Mr. Prince, who had 
been in the Bencoolen service, where he kept a private 
river for the purpose of private trade, and, according 
to Raffles himself, maintained himself for many years 
without any charge to Government. 


The Three Settlements United 
The three Settlements became the " Incorporated 
Settlements of Prince of Wales's Island, Singapore, and 
Malacca " in 1826. They also formed a fourth Presi- 
dency of India. This event closes the First Period of 
our history. Until 1826 there were no Governors of the 
Colony, only Governors of Penang since 1795 (succeed- 
ing Superintendents and Lieutenant-Governors), while 
there were Residents at Singapore and Malacca, with 
Raffles as Governor-General's Agent and Lieutenant- 
Governor of Bencoolen in the background. Nor was 
there a Civil Service proper to this country, the only 
civil servants being a few covenanted officers of the 
East India Company, drawn from the Bengal and 
Bencoolen services, together with military officers and 
a larger number of the " uncovenanted " taken into 
government employment from other occupations. But 
there were signs of the formation of a local Civil Service 
in the fact that young officials from the Company's 
service in other places were being appointed to junior 
posts of Assistant Resident and the like in the Straits, 
and there, by various stages of promotion, were rising 
to the higher ranks of the administration. One of the 
first of these was Mr. S. G. Bonham, afterwards to be 
Governor of the Incorporated Settlements, and, later 
still, Governor of Hongkong. 

Period II, 1826-67 
Our Second Period describes the history of the 
Combined Settlements under the East India Company. 
During this time the country must have been at least 
happy, if the old proverb is true, as there is really little 
to record. Gradually but surely Singapore asserted 
herself as the most important of the Settlements, and 
it is therefore with her domestic politics, her small local 
bickerings (usually of unofficials versus officials), her 
slow but sure climb upwards to prosperity, that (after 
the first few years at any rate) historians have mainly 
concerned themselves. 


Mr. Robert Fullerton, First Governor 

The first Governor of the Straits Settlements, Mr. 
Robert Fullerton, a Madras civilian, resided at Penang, 
which in those days ranked as senior — witness the 
order of the names in the title of the Colony and its 
Court of Judicature at that time. Under this arrange- 
ment there was a Resident Councillor in charge of 
Singapore, and probably one at Malacca, though little 
is known of the last-named, except that Mr. Fullerton 
at one time desired to make it the capital for some 
reason unexplained. His term of office was not a par- 
ticularly auspicious one. He discouraged freedom of 
the Press, and, like some of his predecessors, objected to 
the presence of " Settlers " without licence from the 
East India Company. The latter, however, on refer- 
ence made, decided that as the persons then in question 
had obtained " respectable employment," there was no 
objection to their continuance at the Settlement so long 
as they would " conduct themselves with propriety 1 " 

Mr. Fullerton also had difficulty with the Chinese 
agriculturists over a land-tax which he wished to intro- 
duce, and, worse than that, he got into trouble with the 
Company because the revenue of the Straits did not 
increase as the expenditure certainly did. So the 
Governor-General himself. Lord William Bentinck, 
arrived in 1827, and remodelled the system of govern- 
ment. Mr. Fullerton was swept away, and Mr. Ibbetson, 
once Resident Councillor of Penang, reigned in his stead. 

Soon afterwards the Straits ceased to be a Presidency, 
and came under the Government of Bengal. We may 
say here that in 1851 they passed to the control of the 
Supreme Government of India, whence they finally 
emerged as a Crown Colony in 1867. 

There is nothing of importance to note with regard 
to the Civil Service during this administration. A 
Recorder was appointed from home, and various civil 
servants sat in the Court of Requests, notably Mr. 
Bonham and Mr. Presgrave, the latter a name later 
well-known in the Straits. We also learn that civil 


servants were expected to pass examinations in Chinese 
and Siamese, an admirable rule tending towards effi- 
ciency, though one may doubt the wisdom of selecting 
Siamese as the second language while no mention is 
made of Malay. The junior officials of the Service were 
apparently described generally as " Assistants " at this 

Mr. Ibbetson 
Little is known of Mr. Ibbetson, who held office till 
1833. But during his period occurred the two Naning 
wars, the result of unrest among the natives of that 
district, now part of Malacca, upon the British taking 
over suzerainty from the Dutch. There was also con- 
siderable friction between the Executive and the 
Judiciary, and in the years 183 1-3 the Governor pre- 
sided over the courts in the absence of a Recorder. 
Mr. Ibbetson himself held Assizes. 

Mr. Murchison, 1833-7 
He was succeeded by Mr. Kenneth Murchison, who 
also presided in the Courts until the arrival of a Recorder. 
Mr. Murchison had served previously in Penang, where 
he had cultivated a very remunerative hobby, to wit, 
land. For the Indian Government still, it seems, en- 
couraged their Straits officials to invest their savings 
in this manner ; and in this connection, we may note, 
from criticism of the class for their keenness in this 
direction which has been recorded, the existence of a 
recognised Civil Service in the Straits, which had come 
into definite being since the combination of the Settle- 
ments. It was no doubt still but an offshoot of the 
E.I.Co.'s service, but the remarks of Mr. J. T. Thomson 
refer to that variety of the species domiciled in this 
country. According to him the sea-front in Province 
Wellesley was the property of " the Company's chief 
official," who planted his two rows of coconut trees in 
front of the ancient plantings of the natives. The same 
individual maintained private ferries over the rivers, 
and between Georgetown and the Province, also appro- 


priating the holdings of the inhabitants and driving 
them from their patrimonies. And as to proof of these 
charges ? Mr. Thomson, apparently, had none to bring. 
His information seems to have been drawn from native 
sources, for he was evidently at least as much under 
such influence as the officials he chastised. Nor does 
he ever name the persons he attacks. Oh the whole, it 
seems that several pinches of salt are needed for the 
digestion of his narrative. 

But as we are on the subject of the Civil Service of 
this period, and of Mr. Thomson, a few final quotations 
from that mordant writer may not be out of place. 
Writing in 1865 he says : 

" Thirty years ago the E. I. Co.'s Civil Service was 
rapturously named the finest Service in the World. 
To live in it for twenty-one years and to do nothing, 
either good or bad, but merely to beware of committing 
oneself, was all that was necessary for the attainment 
of fortune, pension, and honour. . . . Once nominated, 
the Civil Servant had no further care in this world, for 
had he not talents for the political or revenue depart- 
ment, he was always fitted for the sacred office of a 
Judge. And were he not fitted for that even, it was of 
little consequence — he could always draw his monthly 
salary bill and take his pension in due course." 

He explains this by saying, " In early days the E. I. Co. 
were mercantile adventurers, and their servants adven- 
turers of all grades," for early civil servants were 
" merely nominees of the Directors ; the service was 
closed to talent." And in bitter conclusion he remarks 
that while civil servants were " privileged classes " in 
India, they were not drawn from the " privileged 
classes " in England, the Service being not confined at 
all to the aristocracy. 

Mr. S. G. Bonham 
Mr. Samuel George Bonham, whose name as a civil 
servant has already been mentioned, succeeded Mr. 


Murchison in 1837. He, like his three predecessors, 
resided at Penang, at least at the commencement of his 
term of office. Of him Mr. Thomson remarks : " He was 
an upright man judged according to his lights, forgetting 
how power might have been abused by an incompetent 
or dishonest successor. As a good Company's servant 
he was desirous to relieve Government from the heavy 
burden of instituting a Court of Judicature, in which 
he saw no use when such men as himself and Thomas 
Church were there to perform the offices of judges of 
the people. He retired from charge of the Government 
respected and beloved by all who were so fortunate as to 
have access to him. With him was not found any of the 
repulsive hauteur of the Bengal Civilian." One wonders 
what personal feelings lie behind these remarks, which do 
not altogether disguise the powder in the spoonful of jam. 
Mr. Bonham is also singled out for praise as having 
allowed unofficials to serve the Company's Government. 
He afterwards became Governor of Hongkong, and 
was created a baronet for his services. As already 
stated, he was one of the first Straits civil servants, 
having been appointed Assistant Resident in Singapore 
in 1823. He had originally come out to the Bencoolen 
service at the age of fifteen. During his Governorship 
" the last remnant of Slavery which existed in the 
British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca has been 
for ever abolished by the unanimous accord of the in- 
habitants themselves." So Buckley quotes from a 
Government notification signed by Mr. Bonham in 
1842. We must also record that during his twelve 
years of office, first as Resident Councillor and later as 
Governor at Singapore, he saw that Settlement, which 
now became the seat of the Straits Government and the 
residence of the Governor, increase in importance every 
year until it was recognised among the first of the com- 
mercial ports of India. Mr. Bonham was distinguished 
for his liberal hospitality, especially exhibited during 
the continual passage of troops and men-of-war on their 
way to the various China expeditions. 


Mr. Thomas Church 
A prominent civil servant of his time was Mr. Thomas 
Church, who became Resident Councillor in Singapore in 
1837. He also had been a member of the Bencoolen 
Civil Service, and, on the abolition of that Government, 
was transferred to Penang. In 1828 he was Deputy 
Resident at Malacca, and in that capacity had some 
dealings with the Chief of Naning before the war of 
1 83 1. He retired in 1835, but, changing his mind, came 
out again and actually administered the government for 
a time in Singapore, displacing Bonham (who was then 
acting) owing to some uncertainty as to their relative 
seniority. Afterwards he served under Bonham ; but 
his hopes of succeeding him were disappointed, a 
rumour, according to Buckley, being current at the time 
that it was known in Calcutta that he did not give good 
dinners, which difficulty was felt to be insurmountable. 
He was in charge of Singapore during a part of the 
next Governorship, but he did not act as Governor, 
Mr. Blundell directing the Government from Penang. 
Mr. Church was renowned as a diligent worker, disposing, 
inter alia, of the greater part of the civil business of the 
Singapore Courts, visits of judges being then rare and 
hurried. The verdict of the time was that he was a 
very useful public servant, unaffectedly anxious for the 
welfare and advancement of Singapore, which owed 
him much. He was also thanked by the rulers of Johore 
for his help and advice, which helped to make that 
country " populous again." He seems to have had a 
reputation for a certain closeness, but he was at times 
generous if not liberal. His wife, who survived him, 
died in Singapore as late as 1884. " Singapore may 
well wish to see his like again, . . . one of the most 
hardworking, conscientious men that ever came there." 

Major Low, circa 1850 
Another famous civil servant of this time was Major 
Low, whowas employed as magistrate, chief of police, etc., 
mainly in Penang, till 1850. He was also a writer on 


the agriculture, geology, and history of the Straits and 
the Malay Peninsula ; one of the first in a field in which 
our Civil Service has since so greatly distinguished itself. 

Mr. E. a. Blundell, circa 1843 
Another officer of outstanding eminence at this period 
was Mr. Edmund Augustus Blundell. It was confi- 
dently expected that he would succeed Governor Bon- 
ham, but the powers that were willed otherwise, and 
Colonel Butterworth held office from 1843 to 1855. 

At the time of Colonel Butterworth's appointment 
there was considerable criticism directed against Lord 
Ellenborough, the Governor-General, who seemed " to 
place his special delight in depressing and mortifying 
the Civil Service, and bestowing all the lucrative and 
honourable posts on the Military." Thus Buckley 
quotes the Singapore Free Press of the time. And 
stress was laid on Blundell's claims to office as being 
familiar with the language and customs of the people, 
and a keen agriculturist who might have encouraged 
cultivation and opened up new districts in the Settlement.' 
Mr. Blundell went to India for a time on transfer, but 
he returned as Resident Councillor, Malacca, in 1848, 
at which date the same paper hoped that his appoint- 
ment there was only preliminary to his restitution as 
Governor of the Straits, and that " our present worthy 
Governor " would receive an appointment in his own 
profession. Mr. Blundell did come back in that capacity, 
but not till 1855, a sufficiently long wait. 

Colonel William John Butterworth 
Colonel Butterworth entered on his duties in a blaze 
of unpopularity, not of course directed at him person- 
ally so much as against the Company for passing over 
Mr. Blundell. But, though thus handicapped at the 
start, before he left Singapore he had won the good 
opinion of the inhabitants, who gave him a most hand- 
some address on his departure. His twelve years of 
office saw several improvements and innovations. He 


did a great deal in the cause of education, and he estab- 
lished the Volunteer Corps, which boasts the proud 
motto " Primus in Indis." The trade of Singapore 
also during this period continued largely to increase. 
Governor Butterworth has been described as " a perfect 
gentleman, though a good deal of a military Bahadour." 
He was also, it seems, an arbiter elegantice, who at- 
tempted to introduce black as the social evening wear 
instead of the white of that fortunate day. And his 
efforts in this direction have, to a certain extent, un- 
doubtedly been successful, though there appears to be 
some tendency nowadays towards a counter-revolution. 

An address of the Chamber of Commerce on his retire- 
ment, which Buckley quotes, leaves no doubt that he 
earnestly advocated every measure calculated to pro- 
mote the interests of Singapore, that he did not per- 
petuate the fault of some of his predecessors in making 
personal access a difficulty, and that he was truly 
appreciated by the mercantile community. 

One noteworthy event of his administration was an 
epidemic of Chinese rioting, indirectly due to troubles 
in China, but probably the work of secret societies, 
with which he dealt firmly, his proclamations pointing 
out that the Government would not put up with such 
behaviour from alien sojourners in the country. In his 
work the Governor was well supported by Mr. Thomas 
Dunman, who had been appointed Superintendent of 
Police, and had already placed that establishment on a 
sound basis. He held this post from 1843 to 1871. 
Mr. Thomson also instances him as a type of the use- 
ful " uncovenanted servants " of the Company. 

Another notable civil servant of this time was Mr. 
William Willans, who became a clerk in the Land 
Office in 1842 and retired in 1882 as Colonial Treasurer. 
He was a nephew of Mr. Church, and held at various 
periods nearly all the official posts of the Service. On 
his appointment as Coroner, in addition to being Chief 
Clerk of the Treasury, Official Assignee, etc., etc.,the Free 
Press said : " He is a young gentleman of great activity, 


but how he will be able to attend to all the duties of 
his multifarious employments we are quite at a loss to 
conceive." Several young gentlemen of the Civil Service 
have probably since broken his record ! Mr. Willans 
died at Brighton in 1903, and the Free Press, in an obi- 
tuary notice, praised his kindliness of disposition, re- 
marking that his friends noticed in him a likeness to 
Thackeray's Colonel Newcome. 

The paper also recorded that he cultivated a nutmeg 
plantation of i ,600 acres, which is now the site of Tanglin 
Barracks. He -is also worthy of note as having drawn 
a pension for twenty-one years after a service of forty 
in the Tropics. 

Mr. E. a. Blundell 
Mr. Blundell succeeded Colonel Butterworth as 
Governor, after having been out in the cold for twelve 
years. He had been a Penang civil servant since 1821, 
and had served in India for a time after Mr. Bonham's 
retirement from the Straits. He acted as Governor on 
several occasions before his permanent appointment. 
Curiously enough, when he did succeed to the highest 
post of government, he disappointed expectations. 
During his administration there was constant friction 
between the official and unofficial elements. At one 
time the whole of the " independent and unpaid " 
Justices of the Peace resigned office on a question as to 
the appointment of the police, who were termed " dis- 
gracefully inefficient." There was also an attempt to 
introduce port dues on shipping, to which the merchants 
made successful opposition. The government effort 
was described at a public meeting as "in direct viola- 
tion of the principles upon which the Settlement was 
established and calculated to endanger the very exis- 
tence of its trade." There was trouble, too, in the 
enforcement of new Police Acts, ending in riots, and the 
policy of the Governor and conduct of the authorities 
in afterwards failing to support their subordinates was 
severely criticised by the unofficial public. It was even 


threatened to report the Governor to the Supreme 
Government, but this idea was not proceeded with. 
Mr. Blundell was, however, rather roughly handled by 
the Press, and before his retirement became even 

In connection with Mr. Blundell's term of office, Mr. 
Buckley has pointed out that, on the authority of per- 
sons present at the time, the Governor was consulted by 
Lord Elgin, then British High Commissioner in China, 
and on his way thither, in the old Government House 
on Fort Canning, as to the advisability of diverting the 
troops bound for China to India, on the news just re- 
ceived of the outbreak of the Mutiny. Mr. Blundell, 
as we know, had Indian experience, and on being 
questioned as to whether in his opinion the trouble was 
likely to spread, answered in the affirmative. He is 
undoubtedly, then, entitled to a share of credit for a 
decision which probably saved Calcutta. Major McNair, 
who was present at the time as Private Secretary, is 
one of Mr. Buckley's authorities for this account of the 

An interesting light on the condition of the Civil 
Service about this time is thrown by a petition to the 
Secretary of State in 1856, which claims that " Several of 
the officers discharge duties which are not implied in 
the designation of their offices." Thus the Resident 
Councillors of Penang and Singapore were Treasurers 
and Auditors of their own accounts, Accountants- 
General of the Court, Superintendents of Lands, Regis- 
trars of Shipping, Vendors of Stamps, and Presidents of 
Municipal Commissioners,while at Singapore the Resident 
Councillor " was also Registrar of Imports and Exports, 
and it was utterly impossible with such multifarious 
duties to give them the attention they required. The 
Resident Councillor at Malacca, however, has ample 
time for the performance of the duties incident to the 
various offices he holds as stated." It appears, then, 
that at this time there were Resident Councillors at all 
three Settlements. But we think that a later generation 




will scarcely now endorse the remarks as to the leisure 
of the official head of Malacca. 

Colonel Cavenagh 
Mr. Blundell was succeeded in 1861 by Colonel Orfeur 
Cavenagh, a Mutiny veteran, who came to the Straits 
expecting to stay a short time only, but actually endured 
till the transfer to the Colonial Office in 1867. He had 
the reputation of taking a great personal interest in his 
work, and he identified himself with the life and the pro- 
gress of Singapore. He stood out against attempts to 
impose prejudicial taxation, such as income tax and 
tonnage dues. He was especially known for the readi- 
ness with which he invariably made himself accessible 
to all classes of the community, and was in all respects 
a most popular chief. He died in 1891 as K.C.S.I. 

The Coming Transfer 

At the very commencement of his administration it 
was evident that the transfer of the Settlements to the 
control of the Colonial Office was imminent. And it 
is here that a brief account of the reasons for the transfer, 
taken largely from Mr. Buckley and Sir Frank Swetten- 
ham's book, to both of which we are indebted for many 
(not all acknowledged) quotations, may be given. The 
principal cause of the transfer was the feeling in Singa- 
pore, which had been growing for years, that the Supreme 
Government in Bengal was able to give very little atten- 
tion to the affairs of the place, so far from Calcutta and 
so different from India in many respects. It was also 
certain that but small interest was being taken in the 
now rapidly extending relations of the Straits with the 
Native States, the ultimate aim of Raffles's policy and 
the goal of the hopes of all thinking citizens of Singapore. 
Matters of foreign policy also, dealings with neighbour- 
ing powers, such as, in particular, Holland, were being 
delayed by having to pass through the office of the 

Another most important reason for the change was 


urged by Lord Canning, the Governor-General at that 
time. This was the necessity of providing a Civil 
Service which should, ab initio, become acquainted with 
the language and customs of the Malays and Chinese of 
the Settlements, rather than a collection of Indian 
officers who must commence the study after different 
experiences elsewhere. Lord Canning insisted that if 
the Straits Settlements were to remain under India it 
would be necessary to devise a system by which its 
servants should receive a special training, and that 
without such a provision the Indian Government would 
not be doing justice to this country. 

In spite of these strong reasons for transfer, opinion 
on the subject, even in the Straits, was not unanimous. 
But one of the chief deciding factors in its favour was 
clearly the belief that under the Colonial Office there 
would be more encouragement for the cultivation of 
intercourse with the Native States of the Peninsula. 
And, as Buckley reminds us, the strongly expressed 
desire of Europeans in India after the Mutiny to have 
their government placed directly under the Crown gave 
the Straits Settlements, then part of India for adminis- 
trative purposes, an opportunity of raising the same 

To cut a long story short, the transfer, which had been 
discussed throughout most of Mr. Blundell's adminis- 
tration (he, it may be noted, was not in favour of it) 
and all of Colonel Cavenagh's, finally became settled in 
1867, after multitudinous references, reports, speeches 
in Parliament, etc., etc. The most vexed question at 
this time was as to the extent of the military contri- 
bution to the Imperial Government. 

Some remarks of an author writing just before the 
transfer, Mr. John Cameron, F.R.G.S., may be of interest 
here. He described Colonel Cavenagh as "a most 
painstaking Governor," one who made himself acquain- 
ted with the most minute affairs of government, and was 
well acquainted with the character and peculiarities of 
the population. " But," he comments, " the Hmited 


power of the Government of the Straits was little calcu- 
lated to develop administrative capacity. Though 
surrounded by important interests, the Governors 
have but too often found that they can interfere neither 
with dignity nor with effect. It is to be hoped that, 
under the direct control of the Imperial Government, 
the Governor will be vested with full powers as Her 
Majesty's Representative and Plenipotentiary in the 
Malay Peninsula and Indian Archipelago." 

As to the accomplished fact, the same writer also 
made some valuable remarks. He admits neglect of 
the Settlements by India, who had nothing in common 
with so distant a Province, but adds that Raffles founded 
Singapore on so liberal and enlightened principles, that, 
in spite of neglect, the enterprise of her merchants and 
excellent geographical position gave her a high com- 
mercial importance. " Penang and Malacca prospered 
with her, though not to the same degree." He claims, 
however, that the Indian Government never sought to 
make a profit out of the Straits, and only tried to raise 
sufficient funds to cover civil and military expenditure. 
He eulogises the care of Raffles and Crawfurd, who 
watched over early development, and did not try to 
hurry on enactment after enactment in ill-directed haste, 
and he finally sums up by saying that " the Indian 
Government will hand over a trust honestly kept." 

With this measure of praise and blame to the past 
incumbents of the hegemony of the Straits, we come to 
the end of our Second Period. A very important stage 
in our history has been reached. That nucleus of British 
influence in the Malay Peninsula, the Straits Settle- 
ments, was now ready to expand and develop on the 
lines dreamed of by Raffles and laboured for by the ener- 
getic citizens of Singapore who followed him. To aid 
that expansion and development it was necessary, as 
Lord Canning, Mr. Cameron, and others foresaw, to 
possess Governors with less hampered powers and civil 
servants specially trained and educated for the task in 
hand ; the former to be responsible directly to the 


Home Government, and not through the medium of 
Governor-Generals in India. The latter to be " Our 
Civil Service," not a collection of military officers and 
gentlemen sent haphazard from Bengal. 

Period III, 1867-96. 

Our Third Period comprises the years between the 
date of the transfer and the date of the federation of 
the Native States. 

During this time the aim of Light and Raffles, and of 
all those foreseeing citizens who had fought for and 
brought about the transfer, was definitely achieved — the 
extension of British influence from the Straits to the 
Malay Peninsula. The foregoing periods had seen the 
first foundations of scattered Settlements gradually 
formed into one edifice ; seen this edifice shed the scaffold- 
poles of India's protection which it had outgrown, and 
stand at last firm in its own strength and inspiration. 
The present period sees the Governors, officers, and 
private citizens of the Crown Colony no longer content 
with a starting-point of British influence in the Middle 
East, but ever insisting on the establishment of that 
influence throughout the whole of Malaya. And, in 
examining the history of this important stage of develop- 
ment, we see, bound up with it, the growth of the Civil 
Service, that necessary instrument to aid the progress of 
the great idea, advancing on the lines advocated by Lord 
Canning, Thomas Braddell, and others who had the 
country's interests at heart. 

Colonel Harry St. George Ord, 1867-73 
The first Governor under the new regime was Colonel 
Harry St. George Ord, of the Royal Engineers, who 
came to the Straits from the West Coast of Africa. He 
was an unpopular Governor, being regarded as masterful 
and overbearing, and extravagant in his views of what 
was due to the dignity of his office. He did not seek 
advice, and did not accept it when it was tendered. 
On his arrival the usual Crown Colony constitution, com- 


prising an Executive and a Legislative Council, came into 
being. The new Governor's character being what it 
was, it is not surprising that the unofficial element was 
soon in opposition. All the same, Ord was a man of 
strong character and ability, the latter especially finan- 
cial, for, coming to a country which had always been a 
burden on Indian finances, he made it pay its way, and 
even accumulate a credit balance. But it must be 
admitted that his administration did little to advance 
the dominating aim of this period. Herein he differs 
from the majority of his successors. And in the end, it 
may have been an advantage that the first Governor 
should have let the Colony first settle down to the 
changed order of things, and see the worst points as 
well as the best, in order that, after reaching social and 
financial stability, she might be in a position to develop 
her plans farther afield, reculer pour niieux sauter. 

Sir Frank Swettenham, in his British Malaya, has 
selected Governor Ord as an example of the evils, criticised 
by Lord Canning as above described, incident on the 
recruitment of officers from India or elsewhere, men 
wholly ignorant of Malay customs and affairs, for 
service during the early period of the country's history. 
He accuses Ord of having used all his influence to have 
the arrangement carried out by which the British 
abandoned their treaty obligations in Sumatra in return 
for Dutch concessions in West Africa, a result of which 
was to let in the former for the costly Ashanti expedi- 
tion and the latter for the interminable war in Achin. 
He goes on to say that Penang in particular suffered 
severely from the consequent hardship and misery in 
Northern Sumatra and the anarchy and piracy that 
followed ; adding that, as Raffles's object had been to 
secure for Great Britain the keys of the Straits of Malacca, 
Achin in the north and Singapore in the south, it looks 
rather like the irony of fate that the first Colonial Gover- 
nor should have devoted much of his time and all his 
influence to undo part of the work of the Founder of 
Singapore ! 


Sir Frank also criticises the lack of interest shown by 
Governor Ord in the Malay States, and remarks that, 
except for some visits to the East Coast in his yacht and 
some intercourse with Johore, he did little towards the 
cultivation of that friendship with the States by which, 
according to Raffles's injunctions, British influence was 
to be there advanced. And he adds that, in the early 
days of this period, the knowledge of Malaya and 
things Malay, which had been Raffles's guiding force, and 
had inspired Marsden, Crawfurd, Logan, and Braddell, 
was gradually dying out. For Braddell only remained, 
and he at that time, as Attorney-General of the new 
Colony, was too much occupied for such researches. So 
during the years 1867-74 little was actually known 
of the independent States of Malaya. Government was 
not sympathetic to commercial enterprise in that 
direction, and it appears that piracy and oppression, 
strife and bloodshed, were the order of the day in those 
countries. When Ord did on one occasion attempt to 
use his influence to settle matters in the State of Sel- 
angor little good was effected. Disturbances there and 
also in Perak continued. For, as Sir Frank remarks, 
" Where all classes and nationalities are fighting, where 
neither life nor property have safeguard, where crime 
meets with neither inquiry nor punishment, the wisest 
counsels unsupported by power to enforce them will be 
in vain." 

Colonel Macpherson, First Colonial Secretary, 
Straits Settlements 

Among the principal officials of this time was Colonel 
Macpherson, formerly Resident Councillor at Singapore, 
who became the first Colonial Secretary, S.S. Mr. 
Willans was Treasurer, and held that office till 1882. 
Major McNair was Colonial Engineer, and Mr. Braddell 
was Attorney-General. Colonel Henry Man was Resi- 
dent Councillor at Penang, and acted as Governor in the 
interregnum before Governor Ord's arrival. 



Major McNair 

Major McNair is famous as the builder of St. Andrew's 
Cathedral from the design of Colonel Macpherson. He 
also built Government House. In both cases convict 
labour was employed, as described in his interesting 
book, Prisoners their own Warders. He also put into 
order and completed the waterworks of Singapore. 
In 1875 he was Chief Commissioner in Perak during the 
disturbances, and he was later Resident Councillor, 
Penang, being created C.M.G. in 1879. He acted on 
several occasions as Colonial Secretary, and was noted 
for his consideration and courtesy. 

Governor Ord went on leave in 1871, and the news- 
papers hoped he would not return after his " restless, 
turbulent four years." He did come back, however, 
and in 1873 three Unofficial Members of Council resigned 
as a protest against the uselessness of their membership. 
The Press ascribed this action to Sir H. Ord's " inordinate 
greed of power and personal vanity, which kept the 
community in a perpetual state of ferment." Yet 1873 
is described as a very prosperous year, and there is 
little doubt that the Governor's good management of 
revenue and keen regard for government money- 
making placed the public finances in a sound position. 

Major-General Sir Andrew Clarke, 1873-5 
We have said that there was little in Governor Ord's 
administration to advance the dominating aim of this 
period of our history. But, though for a while in the 
background, the dream of Raffles, the purpose of his 
successors, was still alive. All that was required now 
was the man — someone to lead and encourage our 
colonists on their journey to the much-desired goal. 
Good fortune sent Sir Andrew Clarke. Then really 
began the great period of progress in the history of 
Malaya, a period marked by the tenure of office of some 
of her most distinguished servants. 

Major-General Sir Andrew Clarke arrived in Singa- 
pore in 1 873 with definite instructions from the Secretary 


of State, Lord Kimberley, to make a new departure in 
policy. He was expressly directed to ascertain the 
actual condition of affairs in each of the Native States, 
and to report what steps could be taken by the Colonial 
Government to " promote the restoration of peace and 
order and to secure protection to trade and commerce 
with the native territories." He had also orders to 
give attention to the provision of British officers to 
reside in the States. 

These instructions practically conceded the whole 
point on which the Straits commercial community had 
for long been insisting. Fortunately, Sir Andrew was 
the right man in the right place. He had an excellent 
way with natives, especially of the ruling class. One 
of his interests in this part of the East was his personal 
friendship with King Chulalongkorn of Siam. As 
Governor Sir Andrew was most popular, and succeeding 
Governors have paid tribute to his great qualities, per- 
haps the highest praise possible. As the first actual 
builder of British Malaya, of which the Straits Settle- 
ments form but a part, he was a pioneer of Empire 
ranking next in eminence to Light and Raffles. 

Sir Andrew lost no time in dealing with the situation, 
and he proceeded to pacify the States of Perak, Selangor, 
Sungei Ujong, and Rembau in turn. Among other great 
qualities, he possessed the happy capacity for picking 
out the right men to serve as his instruments, and for 
giving them his unswerving support. This encourage- 
ment was undoubtedly a determining cause of the fruit- 
fulness of this period in capable and distinguished officials. 

The first State to be dealt with under the new policy 
was Perak. There strife was rampant, not only between 
the Malay chiefs, but between the Chinese settlers, who 
engaged in constant clan dissensions, so that, in order 
to prevent anarchy, it was necessary to deal with both. 

Mr. Walter Pickering, First Protector of Chinese 

It was Sir Andrew Clarke's good fortune to find ready 

to his hand Mr. Walter Pickering, who at that time was 


in charge of Chinese affairs at Singapore. He was the 
first " Protector of Chinese," and his name survives to 
this day as a designation, among the cooUe class at 
least, for the Chinese Protectorate at Singapore. Mr. 
Pickering had had an adventurous career, having been 
wrecked and practically enslaved for some years in the 
island of Formosa. He came to Singapore as a Chinese 
interpreter in 1871, at the age of thirty, and retired in 
1 889, five years after being created C.M.G. He possessed 
the greatest influence with the Chinese of the Straits, 
many of whose dialects he spoke, and he is famous not 
only for his work in the Native States, but for his later 
collaboration with Governor Sir Cecil Smith in the 
abolition of Chinese secret societies. It has been said 
of him that he succeeded in proving that the object of 
the Chinese Protectorate was to defend the Chinese, 
not against possible foreign aggression, but against 
exploitation by their own countrymen. A writer in 
1885 said that his qualifications for the post of Protector 
of Chinese were " of such an exceptional character that 
it is in the highest degree unlikely that the office can 
ever be filled by another." Later history may perhaps 
question the truth of this conclusion ; it can only 
endorse the implied tribute. It is not surprising that 
Pickering's work roused the opposition of the worst 
elements of the Chinese races in the Straits, and several 
attempts were made on his life. 

The Treaty of Pangkor, 1874 
Mr. Pickering died at home in 1907, famous as the 
first of a line of officers, expert in Chinese language and 
custom, who have formed one of the most valuable of 
Malaya's assets, and whose record has entirely proved 
the wisdom of Lord Canning's demand for civil servants 
specially trained and shaped for service in this country 
of so many peoples, manners, and creeds. His mission 
in Perak was entirely successful, and, as a result, a con- 
ference was arranged between the Malay chiefs and 
Chinese headmen on the one side and the Governor on 


the other. So came about the Treaty of Pangkor, 
the 20th January 1874, the legal foundation of the 
Federated Malay States of to-day. Under its pro- 
visions a British Resident in Perak was appointed, 
whose advice should be asked in all questions save those 
of Malay religion and custom, and who should oversee 
the collection of revenue and the general administration 
of the State. 

Messrs. Arnold Wright and Reid, in their book The 
Malay Peninsula, describe this policy of Sir Andrew 
Clarke as a bold one for a pro-Consul to follow without 
definite instructions from home, the British Government 
being, by a stroke of the pen, committed to an active 
intervention in Malay affairs from which they had pre- 
viously shrunk. The Governor was, however, enthu- 
siastically supported by the best mercantile opinion in 
the Straits, and this step was characterised by the 
Straits Settlements Association as " the most important 
that had for years been taken by the British Govern- 
ment in the Straits of Malacca." Sir Frank Swettenham 
also remarks that Sir Andrew was a man of energy and 
decision, ready to take any responsibility, who decided 
that this was no time for talking ; the situation de- 
manded immediate action, and he would take it, reporting 
what he had done, not what he proposed to do. 

Mr. J. W. W. Birch, Colonial Secretary, 1870-4 
At the signing of the Treaty the Governor was accom- 
panied by his Colonial Secretary, Mr. James Wheeler 
Woodford Birch, who, after a mission in Perak in the 
same year, was appointed first British Resident of that 
.State, a post which it is said he was anxious to obtain. 
Mr. Braddell, who was throughout largely concerned in 
the settlement of the Native States and appointment of 
the first Residents, was also present, and so was Major 
McNair. Mr. F. A. Swettenham was there, too, having 
been employed about that time in many missions 
among the various disputants, and being immediately 
after the Treaty associated with Mr. Pickering in seeing 


that the Chinese kept their part of the agreement. 
Among his various comments on the event is the follow- 
ing : " Lord Kimberley gave Sir Andrew Clarke the right 
to open the door of the Malay Peninsula, he even sug- 
gested where he might find the key. The permission 
was entrusted to the right man, and Sir Andrew put the 
key to the lock, opened the door, and left the rest to 
his agents and successors." 

But, as he also remarks, the new departure was not 
plain sailing, for the real difficulties had not even begun. 
And " only after the loss of many valuable lives, the 
expense of infinite persistence and resource, did the 
experiment end in complete success." For (he goes on) 
it was one thing to send two or three white men into this 
new unexplored country, telling them to give good 
advice and to regulate its finances and administration, 
" with no force behind them but their own courage, tact, 
and ability, and the spectacle of British power miles 
away." It was quite another thing to evolve peace, 
order, and prosperity out of these difficult conditions. 

We repeat that Sir Andrew was skilled in finding men, 
and emphasise his good fortune that there were such 
men at hand as he found. He next proceeded to the 
negotiations by which Selangor obtained a British Resi- 
dent in Mr. J. G. Davidson, with Mr. Swettenham as 
Assistant, also in 1874. And affairs in Sungei Ujong 
and Rembau were, at any rate temporarily, settled by 
Mr. Pickering after a very stormy time, the former 
State obtaining an Assistant Resident in Captain 
Tatham, R.A. 

Our account of the Governors and Civil Service has 
now reached the period when their history is concerned 
with that of the Native States rather than with that of 
the Colony. All the leading officers of this time were 
more or less connected with the big events of the 
Peninsula. The domestic politics of the Straits Settle- 
ments towns are rather in the background. And we are 
left with an impression of Sir Andrew Clarke as a great 
man, popular and sympathetic, to whom belongs the 


fame of being the first founder of the Federated Malay 
States. His features, as preserved in the splendid bust 
in the entrance hall of the Singapore Club, are a mirror 
of courage and determination. The names of the leading 
civil servants of his time have already been mentioned. 
During the remainder of his administration there is not 
much to chronicle. But Swettenham warns us that all 
the reports of the Residents showed that there was 
abroad a feeling of unrest, and that those whose profits 
and influence were threatened were not taking kindly 
to the new order of things. 

Sir Andrew Clarke left the Straits for a seat on the 
Council of the Viceroy of India in 1875. 

Sir William Jervois, Governor, 1875-7 
He was succeeded by Sir William Jervois, also of the 
Royal Engineers (the third of our Governors in succes- 
sion to belong to this famous Corps), and the new 
administration was to witness the inevitable outbreak 
against the changed order of things. And we may well 
contrast the policy of these two Chiefs of the State, 
who, though undoubtedly aiming at the same result, 
yet strove to achieve it in widely different ways. Sir 
Andrew Clarke's policy with respect to the Native 
States was to prepare them gradually to take their 
place in the British Empire by giving them advisers 
who should guide the chiefs, but not dictate to them, 
and, while pointing out their duty, refrain as much as 
possible from interfering with their authority. Sir 
William Jervois, on the contrary, was not fond of the 
native rulers, and he tried to hasten the development 
of the country by making the States " protected " ; 
he designated the officers stationed in them as " Queen's 
Commissioners " instead of Residents, and his policy, 
instead of being one of " advice," became one of " con- 
trol." It has, however, been doubted whether time 
enough had been allowed for Clarke's policy to justify 
itself, and whether to hasten a new one, which smelt so 
strongly of annexation, was not more than ill-advised. 


Sir William, at any rate, immediately on succeeding to 
office, became engrossed in the Malay problem. 

Trouble in Perak in 1875 

At this time the Resident of Perak was finding diffi- 
culties in his official dealings with Sultan Abdullah, who 
had gained his throne under the Pangkor Treaty. Means 
to enforce the Suzerain's demands were wanting. It was 
doubtless for this reason that Governor Jervois decided 
on the appointment of Queen's Commissioners, and 
prepared agreements to carry the change into effect, 
to which Abdullah, on ascertaining that his rival would 
sign them if he refused, finally assented. 

The negotiations were conducted by the Resident, 
Mr. J. W. Birch, and Mr. Frank Swettenham. Pro- 
clamations necessary to give effect to the new arrange- 
ment were handed to them to distribute in the principal 
Perak villages. It was while engaged in this duty 
that Mr. Birch was murdered by the Malays at Pasir 
Salak on the 2nd November 1875, Mr. Swettenham 
narrowly escaping. 

Then, of course, ensued a general flare-up, in the 
course of which the Governor came in for official censure 
as having taken the new measures entirely on his own 
initiative. The Home Government appears to have been 
apprehensive that the troops of the necessary punitive 
expedition that followed might be employed " for 
annexation or other political objects," and to have 
realised with horror that the Governor's action had 
committed them to onerous responsibilities. 

The immediate result of this " curious experiment in 
administration," as Swettenham calls it, was that Mr. 
Birch was avenged, and the lesson taught that British 
authority could not be flouted with impunity. But Sir 
Frank draws the moral that twenty years of " good 
advice "would not have accomplished for peace and order 
and good government what was done in six months by 
force of arms. So, by precipitating an inevitable crisis, 
Governor Jervois's policy may perhaps be rated as above 


that of Governor Clarke. At any rate, " from this point," 
say Messrs. Wright and Reid, " may be said to date 
the introduction of the Pax Britannica into Malaya." 
Though for some years more there were isolated incidents 
to disturb the peace, the country as a whole acquiesced 
in the arrangement which brought her directly under the 
aegis of British control. 

Sir William Jervois has been described as " a man in a 
hurry," and his policy of haste has been criticised. Yet, 
again to quote Swettenham, the means by which he 
relieved the situation in Perak, which had reached an 
impasse, were as far from those he had devised as the 
end was better than any which his proposals could have 

Mr. J. W. Birch, First British Resident, 
Perak, 1874-5. 

Mr. Birch also had the reputation of being rather 
hot-headed ; but it is certain that his only error (if such 
it can be called) was in allowing his zeal to outrun his 
discretion in his eagerness to right the wrongs of the 
country which had been committed to his charge. For 
he- displayed the greatest energy in travelling far and 
wide, and inquiring into the complaints of the poor and 
oppressed. He set his face firmly against the odious 
practice of debt-slavery and other evils of the time, and 
it was undoubtedly on account of his efforts in this 
direction that he became unpopular with the chiefs. 
For, while Abdullah and his party had gained the end 
for which they had invoked British assistance, his 
adversaries, of course, regarded the British Resident as 
their natural enemy. All these causes led to the un- 
timely death of one of the most devoted and energetic 
officers Malaya ever possessed, and one who left behind 
him a brilliant example for his successors. 

There is really little to record of the history of the 
Colony during this period, in which the stirring events 
in the Native States naturally overshadowed everything 



Sir William C. F. Robinson 

Governor Jervois retired in 1877. He was succeeded 
by Sir William C. F. Robinson, who remained in office 
two years. Apparently during this brief term he never 
visited the Malay States. He did, however, issue " In- 
structions to Residents," warning them that they had 
been placed where they were as Advisers and not as 
rulers, and would be responsible if trouble were to spring 
out of a neglect of this principle. But, as Mr. Arnold 
Wright points out in his Twentieth Century Impressions, 
the then Secretary of State, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, 
realised that at this stage much must be left to the 
discretion of the men actually on the spot. The Resi- 
dents were selected specially for their knowledge of the 
Malays, and they could not merely stand by and look on. 
It was fortunate, indeed, that the head of the Colonies 
recognised this fact, and to him therefore falls a share of 
credit for the successful result of the labours of these 
early years, in which a lack of courage would have 
militated seriously against the chances of such an 

The outstanding happenings in Singapore during 
Governor Robinson's administration were such homely 
events as the completion of the waterworks, the forming 
of the Straits branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, the 
opening of Tanjong Pagar graving-dock ; and in Penang, 
the laying of the foundation-stone of the Town Hall. 
During the rule of three Governors, between the years 
1 873 and 1 879, there is really nothing of more importance 
than the above to record as regards the Colony. But, 
all. the same, she was continually if slowly increasing 
in importance and prosperity, and Singapore had by 
this time assumed a fitting garb in which to reign as 
the capital city of a British Malaya which was clearly 
soon to be. 

And in the Malay States these few turbulent years 
comprise the total sum of her unhappiness under the 
new conditions. With the troubles safely over, a 


better time quickly came, and an era of consummate 
peace and prosperity followed hard on the bad old 

Sir Frederick A. Weld, Governor, 1880-87 

Undoubtedly the most important administration of 
this latter part of ou/ Third Period was that of the next 
Governor, Sir (then Mr.) Frederick Weld. His term of 
office, which was longer than that of the three last 
Governors combined, was full of importance and benefit 
to the whole Peninsula. Again, however, as is natural 
in the light of then recent events, it was not with the 
Straits and Singapore that the new Governor's dealings 
were primarily concerned. 

His efforts were mainly directed towards the con- 
solidation of the welfare of the Malay States, and he 
was also fortunate in having the assistance of excellent 
officials to look after the Colony during his frequent 
tours of inspection. His age, as we shall see, was again 
one of great civil servants, both in the Colony and the 

Mr. Weld, before he came to Malaya, had been Governor 
of West Australia and of Tasmania, and had at one time 
been Prime Minister of New Zealand. At the time of 
his arrival here the Residential system in the States was 
in full swing, and the country was increasing in riches 
and prosperity ; but there was still building and buttres- 
sing to be done. The traditions of many years had to 
be broken through and the way made clear for the 
smooth running of the machine of to-day. Here Mr. 
Weld scored, just as did Sir Andrew Clarke, owing to 
his personality. He had the faculty of inspiring affec- 
tion in those who served under him, and he also won 
great influence among the native races. 

To the excellent Life of Governor Weld, by Lady Lovat, 
there is an interesting preface by Sir Hugh Clifford, 
who at an early age was one of Weld's officers. He 
sums up the Governor as follows : that he was more of a 
statesman than an administrator ; he saw the brilliant 


future of the protected Malay States, and he ordered all 
things for the attainment of it. He displayed great 
energy in acquainting himself with the country and what 
was going on in it, making frequent journeys in all parts 
of the States. He recognised that their internal admin- 
istration would have to be assimilated closely to that 
of the Colony, but he made it his business to ensure 
that that assimilation had a slow, gradual, and natural 
growth. It was owing to this policy that there came 
about the cordial understanding between Malay chiefs 
and British officials that is the rule to-day. For he 
saw that anything like annexation would have turned 
the native rulers into enemies, and he showed his 
statesmanship in his absolute avoidance of it. 

While engaged in the affairs of the Native States, Sir 
Frederick (for he was created K.C.M.G. early in his 
administration, and became G.C.M.G. a few years later) 
left the direction of affairs in the Colony to his principal 
officers, Mr. Cecil Clementi Smith being Colonial Secre- 
tary, Singapore, and Sir A. E. H. Anson Lieutenant- 
Governor of Penang. Among the outstanding events 
of the time in the Colony was the resettlement of matters 
connected with land. The Governor also encouraged 
Indian immigration, which he favoured in preference to 

Sir Cecil Clementi Smith was Colonial Secretary from 
1878 to 1885, and, as he succeeded Sir Frederick as 
Governor in 1887, a fuller account of him will be given 

Major-General Sir Archibald E. H. Anson was Lieu- 
tenant-Governor of Penang, being the last officer to hold 
the ampler title, one which is still coveted for its chief 
official by the citizens of the Northern Settlement. He 
administered the government of the Straits on occasions 
during the term of office of Governor Ord and during the 
intervals between those of Governors Jervois and Robin- 
son, and of Robinson and Weld. He was a Crimean 
veteran, and took an active part in the Sungei Ujong 
War of 1875-6. He became Major-General in 1879, 


and retired in 1882. But as is natural considering its 
history, the best-known names of the Weld period are 
those of the officers employed in the Native States. At 
this time the system of appointing cadet officers for the 
Civil Service of the S.S. by open competition -was in 
force, but had not assumed its present shape. Be it 
whispered that Governor Weld was not of opinion that 
the young officers of the establishment were suited for 
the early spade-work in the Native States. As he 
wrote on one occasion : " It is too much to expect young 
officers of the Cadet S.S. Class to manage the affairs 
of Sri Menanti and Johol. They have not the experience, 
nor do they carry weight enough, and no amount of 
cramming or success in competitive examinations will 
teach a man to manage natives and win their confi- 
dence." He therefore relied on the men of experience 
whom he most fortunately had at hand, such famous 
officers as Low, Rodger, and Martin Lister. Yet it is 
a little difficult to understand the real meaning of Sir 
Frederick's comment. For when he came to the Straits, 
as we shall see, the first competitive scheme had pre- 
sented Frank Swettenham, C. W. S. Kynnersley, and 
others who had already won distinction, while the second 
(to which he probably referred) has produced many 
more really great men to whom the country continues to 
owe a debt of gratitude. We may also, perhaps, re- 
spectfully interpolate that, in spite of his remarks. Sir 
Frederick still did make use of a very young man for 
an exceedingly difficult and dangerous service when he 
sent Mr. Hugh Clifford on a mission to the State of 
Pahang at the age of twenty-one. True the latter had 
then been in the country for over three years, and his 
selection was entirely justified by its success ; but may 
we not surmise that one of the other young officers might 
not have been trained and used in the same way ? Some 
of them and their successors have done a good deal 
in the same line since. As a result of Mr. Hugh Clif- 
ford's mission, Pahang finally asked for and was given a 
British Resident in 1888. 


Sir Hugh Low, Resident, Perak, 1877-89 

Sir Hugh Low was Resident of Perak from 1877 to 
1889, and tliere earned the right to be considered one of 
the most successful of our administrators. He was 
famed for his tact and consideration to the natives, and 
one of his greatest reforms was the final abolition of 
debt-slavery. It was during his term of office that the 
immense prosperity of the State of Perak had its begin- 
ning. As Swettenham points out, when Low arrived 
in Perak the State was overwhelmed by a heavy debt, 
with no visible resources to meet it. He left it with 
a flourishing revenue and a large credit balance. The 
same writer adds that Sir Hugh understood, what those 
in authority should never forget, that the only way to 
deal with a Malay people is through their recognised 
chiefs ; moreover, they should be consulted before taking 
action, not afterwards. He died in 1906, having on his 
retirement been created G.C.M.G. 

Mr. John Pickersgill Rodger was appointed first 
Resident of Pahang in 1 888, a post he held for eight years. 
Later he became Resident in turn of Selangor and 
Perak, and he was appointed Governor of the Gold Coast 
Colony in 1903. He became K.C.M.G. in 1904. 

The Hon. Martin Lister, a brother of the present Lord 
Ribblesdale, was Superintendent of Negri Sembilan in 
1887, and afterwards first British Resident till 1897. 
He died on his way home on leave. He is cited by Sir 
Frank Swettenham as an example of those Residents 
and District Magistrates who gave of their best to 
secure the success of the country, and died while still 
holding offices of great trust and responsibihty therein, 
one of those English servants of the Government to 
whom " the present prosperity of the Malay States is 
mainly due." 

When Sir Frederick Weld left Malaya in 1887, the goal 
of Sir Andrew Clarke's efforts, the bringing to the 
country of civilisation and a higher position in the scale 
of humanity, was nearly in sight. The work was carried 


along on the same lines by Weld's successors until 
Federation was attained in 1896. 

We see, then, that Sir Frederick's term of office was 
mainly devoted to a fostering care of the States of the 
Peninsula, while the administration of the Colony was 
entrusted to his officials. The natural trend of events 
made it inevitable that while the Settlements were 
comfortable and prosperous, the chief acts of the heads 
of the administration were connected with an attempt 
to bring about the same happy state in Greater Malaya. 

Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, Governor, 1887-93 

Sir Cecil Clementi Smith succeeded Sir Frederick Weld 
as Governor. He had had a brief period of service in 
Ceylon before he returned as Governor to the Straits. 
As regards the Native States he continued the policy of 
his predecessor, and always sympathetically regarded 
the idea of federation, which was beginning to loom 
large on the horizon. He also strongly supported rail- 
way development, which was making great strides at 
this highly progressive time. 

When he first came to the Straits he had seen service 
in Hongkong, whence he obtained his knowledge of 
Chinese character and custom. He is described as a tall, 
stately personage, dignified, and a fine debater, and after 
his retirement was held in high esteem by the Home 
Government. During his term of office here there 
was remarkably good feeling between Government 
House and the community at large, as the Press of the 
time remarked. Public matters were carried out in a 
moderate and sensible manner, and " with attention, if 
not always in concurrence with, the views of the public " ; 
and, when Sir Cecil left the Colony for Ceylon in 1885, 
everyone was unanimously in favour of his returning to 
the highest post. 

In every way in which interest could be shown in the 
domestic problems of the place Sir Cecil was conspicuous: 
he had all the interests of Singapore and the Colony near 
at heart. He was a strong advocate of the cause of 

Vanity Fait Cartoon by R. W. Braddell. 


education, herein following Raffles's example, one of his 
aims being as far as possible to educate Malays with a 
view to employment in the administration. It was 
largely through his efforts that there has grown up that 
body of Malay officials now taking an " active and re- 
sponsible share " in the government of the F.M.S. 

Sir Cecil was also a firm supporter of the Singapore 
Volunteer Corps, of which he was Honorary Colonel 
from 1890 to the time of his death. Perhaps the most 
important measures passed during his terms of ofhce, 
as Administrator and as Governor, were those which 
aboHshed secret societies, to the great satisfaction of the 
Chinese community at large. In the Straits Chinese 
Magazine, of a date some years after his retirement, there 
appears an article by a Straits-born Chinese on the sub- 
ject, praising him for an action for which " present and 
future generations of Chinese must feel ever grateful." 
The actual debate on the first Societies Ordinance, 
passed during his administration of the Government in 
1885, is described as a model of force, in which the Ad- 
ministrator ; Mr. Bonser, Attorney-General ; Mr. W. E. 
Maxwell, acting Colonial Secretary; Mr. A. M. Skinner, 
Colonial Treasurer ; Mr. Shelford, Mr. Adams,. and others 
took part. The measure was carried by ten votes to 
seven, and has been cited as an instance in which the 
official vote, although utterly opposed by the unofficial, 
has amply justified itself in the years that followed. 
Sir Cecil, in his speech, " tore to pieces " the description 
by one speaker of the societies as " cherished institu- 
tions," characterising them as the " cherished institu- 
tions " of a lot of scoundrels and blackguards, and he 
announced his intention of seeing the measures proposed 
carried through, and not left as a damnosa hereditas 
to his successors. During his term of office as Governor 
in 1889 a revised Ordinance was passed, improving 
on the former one ; and it was in his administration 
that a Chinese Advisory Board, consisting of representa- 
tives of all Chinese races, was appointed, " an institu- 
tion which has to the present time proved of the greatest 



utility and benefit, not only in affording facility to the 
Government for ascertaining the feelings of the Chinese 
community on any question it may choose to raise, 
but in securing for the Chinese an easy and inexpensive 
means of ventilating their views on any subject which 
might be considered by them inimical to their interests." 
Sir Cecil died in London in 1916 ; he had since his 
retirement visited the Straits on his way out to Shanghai 
to preside over the Opium Commission in 1909. As 
was evident on that occasion, from his reception by his 
former officers, he was among the most popular of our 

Sir J. Frederick Dickson, Colonial Secre- 
tary, 1885-92 

During a brief absence of Sir Frederick Weld in 1887, 
Mr. John Frederick Dickson administered the govern- 
ment. He had been appointed Colonial Secretary in 
1885 after Sir Cecil's transfer to Ceylon, and he held that 
office till 1892. He was a good debater and a man of 
much ability, but he was much criticised at the time for 
an order that no foreign transport nor man-of-war should 
go into New Harbour without leave of Government, 
a prohibition which it was said would do Singapore 
irreparable mischief by driving away the lucrative 
business of coaling French transports during the Annam 
War. This rule was, however, soon modified, no doubt 
to the satisfaction of the mercantile community. Mr. 
Dickson was created K.C.M.G. in 1888, and again ad- 
ministered the government in 1890. 

Mr. William Edward Maxwell succeeded Sir Frederick 
Dickson as Colonial Secretary in 1892, and held office 
till 1895. His record is to be found elsewhere in this 

The First Cadets 

Mr. Dudley Francis Amelius Hervey, who was 
Resident Councillor in Malacca from 1882 to 1893, had 
been appointed a Straits Cadet in 1867, the year of 



the transfer, the first officer of that class in the Straits. 
During a long career he held many and varied ap- 
pointments until he settled down at Malacca. In his 
earlier service he accompanied several expeditions, 
among others, proceeding to Acheen to inquire into 
the treatment of British vessels there. He also went 
on political visits to Kedah, Pahang, Trengganu, Kelan- 
tan, and Selangor in 1870. In 1883 he accompanied 
Sir F. Weld to Negri Sembilan to pave the way for 
opening up the Residential system there. He became 
C.M.G. in 1892, and remained at Malacca till his re- 
tirement in 1893. He died in 191 1. 

Mr. a. M. Skinner 
Mr. Allan Maclean Skinner held the substantive 
appointment of Colonial Treasurer from 1881 to 1887, 
when he became Resident Councillor in Penang, an office 
which he retained till 1897. He was the second Cadet to 
be appointed, coming out in the year after Mr. Hervey. 
In his early years he took an active part in the bombard- 
ment of Selangor in 1871 and the Perak negotiations in 
1874, and in the proceedings generally which established 
British influence in the Peninsula. He was created 
C.M.G. in 1890 " in recognition of good work done." 
He originally helped largely to found the Straits branch 
of the Royal Asiatic Society, and edited and contributed 
to its Journal for several years. Ill-health forced his 
retirement in 1897, and at the time of his death he was 
engaged in writing a history of the Straits Settlements. 
He acted as Colonial Secretary on several occasions 
between 1884 and 1888. He was the first Inspector of 
Schools in theColony,and the originator of its educational 
system. He died at home in 1901. 

LiEUT.-CoL. Sir C. H. B. Mitchell, R.M.L.I., 
Governor, 1894-9 
After a short interregnum, in which Mr. W. E. Max- 
well administered the government, Lieut.-Colonel Sir 
Charles BuUen Hugh Mitchell succeeded Sir Cecil Smith 


local racial problems when he first arrived here, he very 
soon acquired the necessary insight to deal successfully 
with races such as Malays, Chinese, and Eurasians. For 
his personal traits were fairness and frankness ; he never 
flinched from duty, however disagreeable. He was 
watchful also to prevent uncalled-for restrictions of the 
privileges hitherto enjoyed by Asiatic settlers. He was 
benevolent, though firm and decisive. Though he was 
often, on his arrival, criticised for love of economy, and 
he used to boast of having " an economic soul," critics 
soon recognised his sincerity, and in the end became his 
admirers. And the writer concluded : " We feel confi- 
dent that the Colony will long cherish the memory of Sir 
Charles Mitchell." A tribute of this kind given with 
such obvious sincerity in a paper published by our 
Chinese fellow-citizens may worthily form a Governor's 
in memoriam. The sentiments expressed in it were 
shared by all other sections of the community. 

There were no other events of outstanding importance 
to Singapore or the Colony during Sir Charles Mitchell's 
administration. Her history was one of peaceful and 
prosperous development, after the indignation aroused 
by the question of the military contribution had died 
down, and the financial position had begun to improve 
about the year 1895. 

The Federation, ist July 1896 
But Sir Charles Mitchell had entered on his term of 
office with a still more important mission than those 
detailed, being no less than to report on the advisability 
of federation for the four chief Malay States. His 
report was in favour of the scheme if the Malay rulers 
approved it, and this they did. So federation came into 
being on the ist July 1896, when the Governor of the 
Straits Settlements became High Commissioner for the 
Federated Malay States and Consul-General for British 
North Borneo, Brunei, and Sarawak. 

Mr. Frank Swettenham, who had been British Resi- 
dent of Perak since 1889, was appointed First Resident- 


General, F.M.S. He was created K.C.M.G. the next 
year. In British Malaya he deals at some length with 
the reasons that made federation desirable and indeed 
necessary. One of the principal of these was the diffi- 
culty of the Governor at Singapore exercising any 
really effective control over men so circumstanced as 
the British Residents of the States, and this had led to a 
system of journals transmitted by them to Singapore 
from time to time, together with estimates of revenue 
and expenditure submitted yearly, with an annual 
report on administration. Sir Frank points out that in 
ten years the Residents found they had no time to keep 
journals, and so that method of supplying information 
to the Governor was abandoned. Also that, being in 
those days separated from correspondence with each 
other by lack of means of communication, they were 
inclined to follow their own lines without particular 
reference to their neighbours, while, save in the years 
from 1876-82, when there was an Assistant Colonial 
Secretary for the Native States stationed in Singapore 
(Sir Frank himself for the greater part of the time), 
there had been no real attempt from headquarters to 
secure the much-needed uniformity. In fact, each 
individual Resident was beginning to go his own way and 
to resent interference. So differences of system and 
policy grew as the States developed, and, after being 
only irritating, became unbearable, until federation 
became a necessity. The weak point of the Residential 
system, Sir Frank concludes, was that it placed too much 
: power in the hands of one man, and this made it desir- 
[able that a satisfactory arrangement should be evolved 
[under which a bad man could not " do an infinity of 
[harm without hindrance." And so " a system which 
[ on the whole worked admirably for twenty years had to 
give place to the natural outcome of that system." 

It was Sir Frank himself who drew up a scheme of 
federation and submitted it to Sir Cecil Smith before his 
departure. He also visited the States, explained the 
scheme to the Malay rulers and British Residents, and 


secured the consent of all. He states that the Malay- 
rulers cordially approved the scheme because it did 
not touch their status in any way, though it formally 
recognised the right of the Resident-General to exercise 
a very large control in the affairs of the States. He 
was not styled an Adviser ; his authority, both in the 
general administration and as regards the Residents, was 
clearly defined. He was plainly declared to have exe- 
cutive control under direction of the Governor of the 
Straits, who would in future be termed High Commis- 
sioner for the F.M.S. The Malay rulers believed that 
federation would make them stronger and more im- 
portant, and the rulers of the richer States were large- 
minded enough to welcome the opportunity of pushing 
on the more backward ones for the glory and ultimate 
benefit of the whole Federation. They clearly realised 
the great advantage of an arrangement by which they 
should stand together as one, with inter-state friction 
and jealousy banished, and in possession of a powerful 
advocate who should voice their requirements to head- 
quarters far more efficiently than any Resident could do. 
As to the Residents, Sir Frank says that, though they 
realised that the scheme would deprive them of some 
authority and status, they welcomed federation because 
they saw that the existing arrangement was unsatis- 
factory and becoming impossible, while the new one 
would make for unity, efficiency, and progress. 

The names of the Residents in the year of federation 
may here be recorded : Mr. W. H. Treacher, C.M.G., 
Selangor (news of his death at home came the other 
day) ; Hon. Martin Lister, Negri Sembilan ; Mr. J. P. 
Rodger, Pahang; Sir (then Mr.) Frank Swettenham, 
C.M.G., was, as we have seen, Resident, Perak. 

So the Federated Malay States " arrived," and, with 
the new order of things, Kuala Lumpur in Selangor, 
then a little mining town, was, on account of its central 
position, selected for the seat of the Resident-General 
and the heads of Federal Departments. As Messrs. 
Wright and Reid write, it was an insignificant place, 

I. llS] 

District Grand Master 1895-9. 


with apparently no future. And they continue that 
" in the last seventeen years there has been called into 
being a new capital, well worthy to take its place among 
the leading cities of the Empire." 

We close our account of this period with the dream 
of Raffles well on its way to realisation, and all the 
labours of our pioneers during all the years of our history 
amply justified. There has never been any looking-back : 
the Federated Malay States from this point have only 
gone on increasing in years, riches, and honour. 

Period IV, 1896 to Present Day 
Our Fourth Period, which tells of modern times, com- 
mences with British Malaya fairly established and ready 
to work out her destiny. Just as the bickerings and 
strugglings among chiefs and peoples in the Malay States 
were happily over and done with, so also the great 
Colony of the Straits Settlements found herself well set 
on the prosperous course which she has continued to 
follow without interruption until to-day. 

The years of which we shall now narrate the happen- 
ings will merely show milestones on the path of progress, 
no less in the Colony than in the nowadays famous 
Federated Malay States. The labourers on this well- 
trodden road will be found to include among their 
number the names of many men who deserve well of 
the commonwealth, not least, by any means, among them 
being those of the Governors and Civil Servants. 

In this article, treating as it does of Governors and 
Civil Service, with the history of the country displayed 
as the environment of their lives and deeds, one cannot 
any more divide the tale of the development of the two 
halves of British Malaya, the Straits and the States. 
For the Straits Governor commences this period as High 
Commissioner for the F.M.S., and the two Civil Services 
in the course of it become united. So, for once, speaking 
of the Civil Service before we tell thej^story of the indi- 
vidual Governors of modern times, we give a brief sketch 
of the history of the Civil Service of the two divisions 


of British Malaya, the Malayan Civil Service as it now 
begins to be called. 

History of the Civil Service in British 

In early days our officials were recruited from the 
ranks of the Indian Civil Service, the Presidency of 
Bencoolen in particular being drawn upon, as in the case 
of Messrs. Bonham and Church. These two officers came 
to Malaya early in their careers, after some experience 
of the natives of kindred races, and proved in all ways 
more sympathetic and more successful than their 
brethren brought in direct from India or the Indian 

We have noticed that the latter appointments were 
constantly and severely criticised, and have recorded 
Mr. Thomas Braddell's advocacy (in 1858) of a close 
Civil Service, specially recruited and leavened by the 
admission of qualified members from among the " people 
outside," as a leading Straits official once designated 
the unofficial element. We have applauded, too, the 
stress which Lord Canning laid on the importance of the 
provision of such a service of our own, which he made 
one of the first reasons for severance of the Straits from 
India and placing them under the Colonial Office. It 
was this insistence, doubtless, that prompted the first 
appointment of a Straits Cadet (for that title then came 
into general use) in the actual year of the transfer, when 
Mr. D. F. A. Hervey joined our Civil Service. At this 
time appointment appears to have been by selection 
without examination : only two Cadets came out under 
this early system, the other being Mr. A. M. Skinner, 
who joined in the following year. Who shall deny that 
in these two cases the method of appointment was 
justified ? 

First Competitive Scheme 
In 1869 Lord Granville made certain alterations in 
the arrangements " for the selection, etc., of such Cadets 



^B as might be required for recruiting the Civil Service 
^B of the Straits Settlements," and a scheme of competitive 
^B examination by the Civil Service Commissioners was 
^B started. This fixed the age of candidates as between 
^B twenty and twenty-three, and directed obligatory and 
^» optional subjects as the test of fitness. A similar scheme 
was approved for the sister services of Hongkong and 
Ceylon about the same time. 

The first Cadets under the new system included Mr. 
F. A. Swettenham, and it remained in force till 1882, 
the Cadets coming out in these years including Messrs. 
J. K. Birch, C. W. S. Kynnersley, A. P. Talbot, H. 
A. O'Brien, E. C. Hill, F. G. Penney, E. M. Merewether, 
and W. Egerton. Mr. E. W. Birch came out also during 
this time, but was apparently excused examinations, as he 
had previously been employed for a time in the Colonial 

Second Competitive Scheme 
In 1 882, when Lord Kimberley was Secretary of State, 
; open competition for the services of the Straits Settle- 
: ments, Hongkong, and Ceylon was initiated, successful 

candidates being allowed to choose in their order among 
'the vacancies in the three Colonies. There was a 
, preliminary (qualifying) examination, followed by com- 
' petition under a more advanced scheme. Candidates 
.under this system appear at first to have spent a time 
lat one of the universities after the qualifying exami- 
1 nation. The Cadets first appointed under it were 

Messrs. R. N. Bland and W. Evans, followed in the next 
[years by, among others, Messrs. R. G. Watson, A. W. S. 

O'Sullivan, J. O. Anthonisz, G. T. Hare, E. L. Brockman, 

and J. R. Innes. The limits of age for candidates were 
[between twenty-one and twenty-four on ist August, the 

month in which the competition was held. 

It must be remembered that the system of entrance 
(examinations for Cadets then applied to the Straits 

Settlements only of the two parts of British Malaya, 

appointments of officers of the same class in the Malay 


States being made by nomination. During part of this 
time, from the later 'Eighties onwards, they were ap- 
pointed to the several States and entitled Junior Officers. 

Third Joint Scheme 

In 1896 Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, then Secretary 
of State for the Colonies, decided to cancel the scheme 
in force since 1882 in favour of the examination pre- 
scribed for the Home and Indian Services, and in that 
year the system of joint examination and selection of 
successful candidates between the three main services. 
Home, Indian, and Eastern Cadetships, was instituted. 
The services which the term " Eastern Cadetships " 
then comprised were Ceylon, Hongkong, Straits Settle- 
ments, and Federated Malay States, the last-named 
coming into line upon the federation. 

This system continued in force until interrupted by 
the Great War, and was resumed, with some modifications 
caused by war conditions, on its termination. As 
was clearly inevitable, the two Malayan services after 
1896 became gradually interchangeable. It had always 
been stated that an officer in any of the three last- 
named services (not Ceylon) might conceivably be 
changed from one to another, though this rarely happened 
in practice. About the year 1906 it was definitely laid 
down that the Cadet Services of the Straits and the F.M.S. 
were to be regarded as one for purposes of promotion. 
So, in a few instances earlier, and constantly after 1908, 
Cadets originally gazetted to one of the two services 
have been transferred from one to the other ; and 
it is now expressly stated in " Rules and Regulations " 
that they must distinctly understand that they " will 
be liable to be transferred at any time from the service 
of one of these Governments to that of the other," such 
transfer taking place in practice, in the majority of 
cases, on promotion of a Cadet officer to a higher class. 

A later development has been the admission of the 
Unfederated or Protected States into the confrater- 
nity, for Cadets of the S.S. and F.M.S. Services have 


for the most part been seconded for the executive, 
judicial, and administrative posts in the new countries. 
Supernumerary appointments in the two elder services 
have therefore been created in order to provide a number 
corresponding to that of the seconded officers. 

" The Malayan Civil Service " 
Our Civil Service, then, embracing as it now does the 
three main branches of Straits, F.M.S., and Unfederated 
States, among which the Cadet officers are interchange- 
able (though Cadets are still gazetted to either S.S. or 
F.M.S. on first appointment or on promotion), has clearly- 
reached a stage when some common title is desirable, 
and the recently elicited feeling of the majority of its 
members has proved to be in favour of the name" Ma- 
layan Civil Service," a most worthy and important 
appellation, as well as a very gratifying proof of present 
unity and friendship. 

The Civil Service and the War 
Before leaving the subject of the Civil Service and its 
past and present constitution, we think it will be recog- 
nised as fitting and proper that some mention should 
be made of the part played by its members in the Great 
War. At the end of the year 191 4 there were in the 
Malayan Civil Service, composed of Straits and F.M.S. 
Cadets, together with the junior officers and one or two 
others appointed to the F.M.S. Civil Service before 
federation, 211 names. This number includes a few 
Cadets who came out in that year. Of these 2 11 , no less 
than forty-five served in the War. Ten of these were 
killed in action, or died on or as a result of service. 
Their names are : — John Beach, Tom Lowis Bourdillon, 
George Eric Cardew, William Stanley Fames, Robert 
Claude Hawker Kingdon, Harold Evelyn Pennington, 
Harold Stedman Richmond, George Hawthorn Minot 
Robertson, Guy Hatton Sugden,and Alan Austin Wright. 
They were all officers of the junior classes of the Service. 
Of these, T. L. Bourdillon was awarded the Military 


Cross ; other recipients of this honour, happily surviving, 
being Meadows Frost, Alan Custance Baker, Thomas 
Perowne Coe, and George Montgomery Kidd. The 
first-named is now an officer of twenty years' service, 
having come out originally in 1898. 

Truly a glorious record, and one of which the Civil 
Service may well be proud, holding as it undoubtedly 
does a foremost place among those of other professions 
in all parts of the Empire. It must be remembered 
that a wise decree allowed only the younger and fitter 
of those actually in Europe to join the Army, it being 
considered that the King's Service in this country 
required the others to remain at their posts. 

The Period of British Malaya 
Throughout we have to bear in mind that, though 
the Colony and the Federated Malay States still remain 
absolutely distinct, yet the Governor of one is the 
High Commissioner of the other, and the officers of their 
two Services are interchangeable. Henceforth we are 
speaking of British Malaya, and it is her history that 
we relate in telling the stories of our Governors and 
Civil Service. And apart, of course, from the Great 
War, whose horrors scarcely touched us and whose 
far-reaching consequences, even, failed to divert our 
unswerving course, the most important historical 
fact of this our final period of development is the 
admission of the Protected or non-Federated States 
into the confraternity, the dreams of our founders and 
forerunners becoming thus fully and finally realised. 

After the death of Sir Charles Mitchell there was an 
interregnum of nearly two years, in the course of which 
Sir James Alexander Swettenham, who was Colonial 
Secretary during the latter part of the late Governor's 
term of office, and Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, 
then Resident-General, F.M.S., successively adminis- 
tered the government. It is a remarkable and unprece- 
dented fact that two brothers should have held in turn 
this high office. 


Sir J. A. Swettenham 
Mr. James Alexander Swettenham, C.M.G., as he 
was when he came to the Colony, was appointed a 
writer in the Ceylon Civil Service in 1868, and served 
there till 1883, when he was transferred to Cyprus. 
He was made Colonial Secretary S.S. in 1895, and created 
K.C.M.G. in 1898, when administering the government 
during the absence of Sir Charles Mitchell, on leave. 
His service in the Straits was spent entirely in Singapore. 
In congratulating him on the honour of K.C.M.G., the 
Straits Chinese Magazine said : ' ' The strict and incessant 
attention that he always gave to the multifarious duties 
of his post as chief of the Secretariat has indeed become 
proverbial. By a happy coincidence his brother. Sir 
Frank Swettenham, is at the head of the affairs of the 
neighbouring F.M.S., between which and our Colony 
there exists such close intercourse. We may fairly 
hope to see, during the administration of the 
brothers of the two countries respectively, a greater 
interdependence and mutual intercourse resulting from 
a stronger community of interests between them." 
The same magazine, after Sir Frank's subsequent 
Governorship and retirement, in mildly criticising what 
the writer considered to be a lack of sympathy on his 
part with the Chinese population of the Straits, compared 
the different attitude of Sir Alexander, especially in 
respect of matters such as Chinese education. Sir 
J. A. Swettenham became Governor of British Guiana 
in 1 90 1, and he was afterwards Governor of Jamaica 
between 1904 and 1907. During his second administra- 
tion of the Government of the Straits the Singapore — 
Johore railway was commenced. 

Sir Frank Swettenham 

In September 1901 Sir F. A. Swettenham was 
appointed Governor. Earlier in the year he had, as 
Administrator, entertained our present King and Queen 
on their visit to Singapore during the Ophir voyage. 


Sir Frank's career has been touched upon at various 
times throughout this article, but we may here sum it 
up. He passed into the Straits Civil Service after 
competitive examination, under the first scheme for 
Cadets, in 1870. After some years spent in various 
posts in Penang, he was Assistant Resident, Selangor, 
and Deputy Commissioner with the Perak Expedition 
in 1876 and 1877. He then became, successively. 
Assistant Colonial Secretary for Native Affairs from 
1876 to 1 88 1, Resident, Selangor, in 1882, Resident, 
Perak, from 1889 to 1895, and first Resident-General 
of the F.M.S. from 1896 to 1901. After his retirement 
from the Straits he was created G.C.M.G., and has 
performed various war services, being appointed, during 
191 5, Joint Director of the Official Press Bureau in 
London. He has been made a Companion of Honour, 
one of the few to hold that distinction. 

One of the most noticeable points in connection 
with his record is that he was the first Governor of the 
Straits, and the only one up to the present whose 
career has been entirely spent in our Civil Service ; 
and his appointment to the highest office here must 
have been most pleasing to him, not only because it 
kept him in the country which he knew and loved, but 
on account of his views, already quoted, as to the 
necessity of a Malayan Civil Service for Malaya. We 
should note, however, that his later years of service 
had little intimate connection with the Colony until 
his administration of the government in 1901. For, 
as we have seen, his time was spent mainly in the Native 
States, and it has been justly stated that their enormous 
prosperity after the federation was largely due to his 
eff'orts. On his promotion to the Governorship, an 
English weekly paper remarked : " Never was a big 
appointment better deserved," and, in allusion to his 
selection as first Resident-General, " it was only fitting 
that this post should be given to the man who directly 
effected the federation." 

During his brief Governorship, from 1901 to the end 




of 1903, nothing of great importance befell either Singa- 
pore or the Colony. In the F.M.S., on the other hand, 
forces were already at work, which led to the final result 
of attracting the other Native States of the Peninsula 
to British suzerainty. To allude very briefly to this 
development before turning to Sir Frank's administra- 
tion in the Colony, it may be noted that in the early 
years of the twentieth century British influence began 
to show in the State of Kelantan, where Mr. R. W. Duff 
had, with the approval of Government, started his 
" development " enterprise. As a result of some 
friction with the Siamese authorities, Siam being then 
Suzerain of the State, Sir Frank went to Kelantan in 
1902, and brought about an agreement limiting the 
Suzerain's powers, and at the same time arranging 
for the appointment of a British officer to act as Adviser 
to the Sultan. This was the first step towards the 
extension of British influence in the Unfederated States, 
the main historical event of this our modern period. 

In a speech, at a farewell banquet given to him on 
his retirement in 1903, Mr. John Anderson, the Chairman, 
summed up the principal acts of the departing Governor's 
term of office. As the Free Press reports it : 

" The scheme commonly known as Mr. Matthews' 

(of Coode, Son and Matthews) Harbour Scheme was 

really projected by Sir F. A. Swettenham, to whom the 

Colony was also greatly indebted for the currency 

[conversion scheme, now in its first stages of introduction, 

fto give stability to the gold value of the Singapore 

[dollar. It was his strength and influence that led to 

lobtaining sufficient money for the construction of the 

iVictoria Memorial Hall, as the Town Hall was not large 

lenough for the growing community. Sir F. A. Swetten- 

[ham had had to do with the completion of the first 

[effort of this Settlement in railway working, with an 

[aim to promote and contribute to a trunk line from 

^Singapore to Burma and India." 

Mr. Anderson also advanced the suggestion of a bridge 
lacross the Johore Straits, to be called Swettenham 


Bridge. And he remarked on the unique record of 
the Governor's service in the Straits, of which we have 
spoken. He, too, tributed Sir Frank's labours in the 
F.M.S. and his poHcy there, which " has contributed so 
much to the welfare of the Colony." 

A writer in the Straits Chinese Magazine, lamenting 
his early retirement and praising his eminent fitness to 
direct the government of the Colony and the F.M.S. , 
remarked that " with an accurate and extensive know- 
ledge of the history and language of the native population 
of these lands, Sir Frank has been able to use his keen 
critical judgment, his sharp sense of humour, and his 
business acumen with most fruitful results in the 
administration of the most prosperous of British Crown 
Colonies." All expressed opinions draw us to a con- 
clusion as to the service of this, our own Governor, 
that he was one of the principal benefactors of British 
Malaya, not only as a pioneer, but as an administrator 
as well. 

Yet he is even more widely known as a real lover of 
the Malay country, an expert in the language and 
customs of its people, and one of a band of literary men 
whose writings have introduced Malaya to the world 
outside. His books, The Real Malay and Malay 
Sketches, are put in the hands of all intending visitors 
to these parts as a guide to the country's life and legend. 
And the personal element which enters into the character 
sketches and studies makes them all the more attractive, 
especially when he describes the early efforts of the 
British officials in the new country, their difficulties 
and dangers. Who that reads is not thrilled by the 
chapter describing the murder of Mr. Birch and the 
writer's most narrow and remarkable escape from the 
same fate ? Besides this. Sir Frank is a lexicographer 
and a grammarian, as witness his English — Malay 
Vocabulary and the part-written Dictionary, both of 
which have served as first aid to the new students. 
And a historian as well, for the work herein so often 
quoted, British Malaya, contains chapters on the old 


history of Malaya and on the development of the F.M.S., 
which cannot be surpassed for interest and knowledge. 

Mr. C. W. S. Kynnersley, C.M.G., 1872-1904 
Mr. Charles Walter Sneyd Kynnersley was appointed 
a Cadet in 1872. He held at various times nearly all 
the posts of the Civil Service in the three Settlements. 
He also accompanied the expeditions to Perak and Sungei 
Ujong in 1875, and went with Sir Frederick Weld on a 
mission to Borneo in 1887. He was Resident Councillor 
at Malacca in 1895, and held the same post at Penang 
from 1897 to 1904, administered the government for 
a few months in 1897 ^^^ 1898, and acted as Colonial 
Secretary for a time before his retirement. He was 
created C.M.G. in 1899. The Singapore Free Press of 
March 1902, when he went on leave, said of him that it 
was agreed by all that he had done yeoman service for 
the Colony, which had been his home for thirty years, 
and drew attention to his somewhat unique record of 
having been at the head of each of the three Settlements. 
The writer added that Mr. Kynnersley had managed 
to keep himself free from the bonds of the Red Tape, 
never repulsing anyone who had anything to offer for the 
good of the Colony worth listening to. And that, as our 
representative at the Coronation of King Edward VII, 
he would be a true one, alike for his personal 
character and his public career. Mr. Kynnersley died 
at home of heart-failure in 1904, and the same paper 
then said that " it would be hard to name any Govern- 
ment official who had a higher reputation for quiet, 
steady work, sound judgment, and courtesy to all with 
whom he was brought in contact. As Resident 
Councillor, Penang, he was greatly regretted in the 
Northern Settlement, and his reign here came to an 
end amid the regret of all classes of the community." 

Sir E. W. Birch, 1878-1910 
Mr. Ernest Woodford Birch, eldest son of Mr. J. W. 
IW. Birch, first Resident of Perak, was appointed a Straits 
I — 10 


Cadet in 1876, though he only came east in 1878. In 
his earher years he was for some time Land Officer in 
Malacca, where his name is still well known among the 
Malays for his connection with the Ordinances relating 
to Customary Land and with the perfecting of the 
Penghulu system. Later he was British Resident in 
Negri Sembilan andSelangor,andwas for a time Governor 
of British North Borneo. He is best known, however, 
as British Resident of Perak from 1904 to 19 10, being 
created K.C.M.G. while holding this office. It will be 
long before his name is forgotten in the State, or indeed 
anywhere in the F.M.S. 

A " Many Happy Returns " column in the Planters' 
and Miners' Gazette, reprinted after his retirement on an 
anniversary of his birthday, spoke of him as " a shining 
example of optimism," and ascribed his great success 
as an administrator to his personal touch with the 
people, which he did much to impart to every District 
Officer and Assistant who came under his spell. And the 
writer quoted from a farewell address to him in a Chinese 
theatre at Ipoh : " The name of Birch shall never be 
forgotten amongst us. . . . The example given by you 
of independence, loftiness of purpose, fidelity to friends, 
and of patriotism will still shine before us, so that you 
may know that here in the Malay States, and above all 
in Perak, you have not lived and worked in vain." The 
same article lauded his magnetic personality and 
wonderful influence, all that he did for Kinta's capital 
and her scattered villages, where his was a " household 
name " among Malays, Chinese, and Tamils, as well as 
Europeans. And concluded that in his retirement he 
still clings to the links that bind the Homeland and 
Malaya, " but these are nowadays composed of rubber 
and tin, serving in themselves as a daily reminder of the 
development that these industries made in Perak during 
the term of his administration." 

Sir Ernest was famous also for his capacity for games, 
though it has been remarked that he liked to have his 
own way in " running things," one story going that he 


came to Singapore with a visiting team, and took charge 
of a smoking concert given in their honour by the S.C.C. 
with great success. We may add that during the War 
he has especially identified himself with Malayan war 
charities and schemes such as the F.M.S Hospital and 
provision of comforts for the crew of the battleship 

Sir Walter Egerton, i 880-1904 
Mr. Walter Egerton was also a Straits Cadet, being ap- 
pointed in 1880. His early service was as Land Officer 
in Province Wellesley ; but he afterwards served in all 
the Settlements, acting as Colonial Secretary in Sir 
Alexander Swettenham's administration after the death 
of Sir Charles Mitchell. He was Resident of Negri 
Sembilan from 1902 to 1904. He had considerable 
knowledge of engineering, of which he made use when in 
charge of Sungei Ujong in the pioneer days. He was 
famous as an organiser and administrator, and was also 
one of the first to take an interest in rubber-planting in 
I the Straits ; for, when Acting Resident Councillor there 
I in 1 899, he persuaded native planters in Malacca to try 
this form of cultivation, to their immense subsequent 
profit. He was appointed High Commissioner, Southern 
[Nigeria, in 1 903 , and Governor of Lagos in 1 904 . Created 
fK.C.M.G. in 1905, he became Governor of the amalga- 
mated Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria in 
1 1906. He was afterwards appointed Governor of British 
|Guiana in 191 2, and he retired in 191 7. 

Sir E. M. Merewether, i 880-1 902 
Mr. Edward Marsh Merewether came out as a Cadet to 
the Straits Service in the same year as Mr. Egerton. 
He served in all the Settlements, and acted for a time as 
|Resident Councillor, Malacca. He was British Resident, 
Selangor, in 1901, and left Malaya in 1902 to take up 
the post of Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Secretary 
to the Government of Malta. He was created K.C.V.O. 
in 1907, and appointed Governor of Sierra Leone in 


191 1. He has been Governor of the Leeward Islands 
since 191 6, becoming K.C.M.G. in the same year. 

Sir Hugh Charles Clifford, i 883-1903 
We have already spoken of Mr. Hugh CHfford in the 
time of Governor Weld. He joined the Perak service 
as a Cadet in 1883, and was Collector of Land Revenue, 
Kuala Kangsar, in 1885. His mission on special service 
in Pahang in 1 887 paved the way for the appointment of 
a Resident in that State. He himself was Assistant 
Resident there in 1888, and he acted as Resident several 
times thereafter, displaying much energy in dealing with 
those discontented with the new order of things, whom 
he hustled out of Pahang and into the independent States 
of Kelantan and Trengganu. After a short period as 
Governor of British North Borneo, he was made Resident 
of Pahang in 1901. He then left Malaya, and served as 
Colonial Secretary, Trinidad, from 1903 to 1907, when he 
was appointed Colonial Secretary, Ceylon. He was 
created K.C.M.G. in 1909, and was Governor of the 
Gold Coast from 191 2 to 191 9. He now holds the 
appointment of Governor-General of Nigeria. His 
chief work in Malaya was in connection with Pahang, 
of which State he is one of the principal benefactors. 
A distinguished literary man, he has written much about 
Malaya and her people, both in the form of short stories 
and longer works. Of the former and best known are 
Bush-whacking and In Court and Kampong. Of the 
latter Saleh, a Study and A Sequel. He is also joint 
author with Sir Frank Swettenham of a Malayan dic- 
tionary, and he has translated the Penal Code into 

Mr. a. W. S. O'Sullivan, i 883-1 903 
Mr. Arthur Warren Swete O'Sullivan was appointed 
a Cadet S.S. in 1883, and served in many of the posts of 
the three Settlements. While Assistant Colonial Secre- 
tary he was selected by the Colonial Office for the appoint- 
ment of Colonial Secretary, Trinidad, but before he could 


take it up occurred his untimely death at Singapore in 
1903. He was a strong supporter of the Royal Asiatic 
Society, an obituary notice in whose Journal described 
him as an able and hard-working officer with a talent for 
languages, being proficient in Dutch, Tamil, Malay, and 
more than one dialect of Chinese. He laboured to open 
up the wide field of Dutch learning and research into 
the Malay language to English readers, so setting an 
example which later scholars have followed with dis- 
tinguished success. 

Mr. G. T. Hare, C.M.G., I.S.O. 1884-1904 
Mr. George Thompson Hare was appointed a Cadet 
S.S. in 1 884, and spent his first years in China studying 
the Hokkien language at Amoy. He was undoubtedly 
the most notable of the " Chinese Cadets," and a true 
follower in the steps of the famous Pickering. On the 
federation he was appointed Secretary for Chinese 
Aflfairs at Kuala Lumpur, and in British Malaya Sir 
Frank Swettenham has recorded the unique influence 
that he established among the Chinese, and the benefit 
that his knowledge of the revenue farm system brought 
to the Government finances. In 1903 he took up the 
newly created post of Secretary for Chinese Affairs, S.S. 
and F.M.S., the famous old title of Protector of Chinese, 
Singapore, then falling into abeyance for a time. Ill- 
health unfortunately soon caused his retirement, and he 
died at Singapore in 1904. He wrote exhaustive articles 
on Chinese subjects, as, for instance, those on the Wai 
Seng Lottery of Canton and the game of Chap Ji Ki, 
published in the Royal Asiatic Society's Journal. He 
was also the editor of the Hokkien Vernacular and the 
Text-book of Documentary Chinese, which are still in use 
in the examination schemes for Cadets studying Chinese. 

Sir John Anderson, Governor, 1904-11 
Sir Frank Swettenham was succeeded as Governor by 
[Sir John Anderson in April 1904, and a most eventful 
era in the history of British Malaya began. We enter 



with a certain diffidence on the task of giving a necessarily 
brief description of the outstanding events of this ex- 
tremely modern period in the Colony and in Greater 

Sir John Anderson entered the Colonial Office as a 
result of the open examination for the Home Civil 
Service in 1879. He later served on several Commis- 
sions, and was Secretary to the Conference of Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain, then Secretary of State, with the Colonial 
Premiers in 1902. In the previous year he had accom- 
panied our present King and Queen, in their world-tour 
in the Ophir, in the capacity of representative of the 
Colonial Office, and it was then that he paid his first 
visit to the Straits. Afterwards he served on the Alas- 
kan Boundary Commission, and then became Governor of 
the Straits, where he remained, with two short hohdays, 
till 191 1, when he was appointed Permanent Under- 
Secretary of State for the Colonies. In December 1915 
he came out to Ceylon as Governor at a time of con- 
siderable stress in that Colony, and he remained there 
till his death in March 191 8. He was created G.C.M.G. 
in 1909 and K.C.B. in 1913. 

Of his career in Malaya it has been said that " he jerked 
the Colony out of a rut, and did something," and he has 
the credit of starting a new order of things. Among 
the chief features of his administration was his municipal 
policy, in which he displayed his considerable legal 
knowledge. He strongly stood out for " back lanes " 
against an unofficial opposition, which was for a time 
successful, his attitude being that the state of numbers 
of native houses in the larger cities of the Straits should 
not remain a permanent scandal, and that there was a 
higher point to be considered than that of capital and 
other interests; in short, that "light and air" must 
somehow be admitted into such dusty and unwholesome 

Another was the famous expropriation of the great 
Tanjong Pagar Docks. Here he was quite of the general 
opinion that the price fixed by the arbitration was 


'• 134] 


excessive ; but he had the courage of his convictions, and 
carried on the work, one of his last public utterances in 
the Colony being of his firm belief in the future of the 
port. And, though his policy has been criticised, 
it has always been admitted that he boldly and in a broad 
spirit tackled the question of the future. For the 
acquisition of this property by the Government was but 
a starting-point in a series of public improvements de- 
signed to strengthen Singapore's commercial position. 
Taken with the construction of the railway through 
Johore, commenced about this time, it gave a new signi- 
ficance to the port, and opened up for it a fresh vista of 

Yet another of Sir John Anderson's important acts was 
the fixing of the value of the Straits dollar, a matter 
dealt with elsewhere in this book. The importance of 
it was the steadying influence to trade, though there 
has always remained some criticism as to the wisdom 
of choosing such a relatively high rate as two shillings 
and fourpence. Messrs. Wright and Reid remark : 
" It is contended that the rate is against the interests of 
the exporters of Straits produce, but as time goes on 
there will be less grumbling heard, more especially when 
it is recognised that the fixity of exchange has had a 
direct influence in bringing capital into the country for 
personal investment, while the comparatively high rate 
of the dollar has had an indirect but beneficial influence 
in attracting much-needed labour to the Peninsula." 

Another event of considerable importance for the 
Colony was the institution of the Government Monopolies 
Department as a direct result of the Opium Commission 
appointed in 1907. For its report, while pronouncing 
against prohibition, suggested a system of proper control 
" of what, in excess at any rate, is admitted to be a 
wasteful and seldom beneficial habit," and at the same 
time pointed out the vital importance of the opium 
revenue to the local finances. 

In this connection we may here quote the remarks of 
Messrs. Wright and Reid on Sir John Anderson's proposal 


to substitute an income-tax for the revenue likely to 
be lost under a new policy as to opium. " Sir John," 
they say, " was a sound administrator and a man of 
exceptional discernment, but in this instance he had 
miscalculated the forces likely to be arrayed against a 
proposal of this kind. The European community almost 
to a man condemned the scheme which was calculated to 
cast an undue burden upon them, owing to the inevitable 
evasion of the impost by the wealthy native classes. On 
the other hand, the natives were up in arms against a 
tax which seemed to them to carry with it such undesir- 
able possibilities in regard to their personal freedom and 
the privacy of their business arrangements." And they 
conclude that " with statesmanlike instinct the Governor 
bowed to the storm, and income-tax was relegated to 
the official pigeon-hole, probably never to be brought 
out again." 

Well, inter arma silent leges, and the patriotism of all 
classes of the community during the War has shown that 
in a time of stress, when there comes a chance of bearing 
some of the Mother Country's burden, selfish protesta- 
tions are also silent. 

Sir John Anderson also effected various changes in the 
Civil Service, not all of which were greeted with appro- 
bation by its members. It is true that he instituted the 
practice of appointing civil servants to the Judicial 
Bench, and continued a new departure by which they 
were made heads of the Municipalities ; but on the other 
hand he was somewhat criticised for reducing the status 
of certain appointments during a period of temporary 
financial difficulty about the year 1910. 

Events in Greater Malaya 
In 1907 Labuan, after a somewhat varied career as a 
Colony, independent and dependent, was annexed to 
the Straits, and became part of the Settlement of Singa- 
pore. A further development occurred in 191 2, after 
Sir John's departure, when she became a Fourth Settle- 
ment of the Colony. 


In 1906 the Governor S.S., who had been Consul- 
General for Brunei, British North Borneo, and Sarawak, 
became High Commissioner for Brunei, as the result of a 
treaty with the Sultan, who had expressed a desire for a 
more definite form of British protection. In 1908 the 
Governor became British Agent for British North Borneo 
and Sarawak, instead of Consul-General, as he had re- 
mained since 1896. In 191 1 the title High Commissioner 
for the F.M.S. was changed to that of High Commissioner 
for the Malay States. 

This last change was due to the transfer of suzerainty 
over the Native States of Kedah, Perils, Kelantan, and 
Trengganu from Siam to Great Britain, under the Anglo- 
Siamese Treaty of 1909, the first steps towards which 
event were taken in the time of Sir Frank Swettenham. 
And according to The Malay Peninsula, the new regime 
instituted in 1902-3 did not long work smoothly, owing 
to the existence of jarring elements which were bound 
sooner or later to come into collision, while a German 
scheme for a railway connecting Siam and the F.M.S., 
being brought to the notice of the Foreign Office, was one 
antecedent of the treaty. On completion of the formal 
arrangements, Sir John visited Kelantan and announced 
the assumption of the British Protectorate there. The 
authors quoted go on to say that the desired goal was 
then reached, the spectre of foreign interference in the 
Peninsula being laid for ever. 

It was during this administration also that the im- 
portant State of Johore came into closer relations with 
Great Britain. Earlier pages of this article have indi- 
cated the necessary connection between such near neigh- 
bours as Johore and Singapore throughout the history 
of the latter as a Settlement. In 1885 the then Sultan 
placed his foreign relations under the control of the British 
Government, and undertook to receive a British Agent 
at his court. In our Modern period Mr. C. B. Buckley, 
author of the Anecdotal History so often quoted by us, 
acted as an unofficial Adviser to the present Sultan ; 
and, in consequence of a request from the Sultan in 191 o. 


Mr. D. G. Campbell, C.M.G., of the F.M.S. Service, 
was transferred to Johore to act as Adviser, and on his 
death Mr. F. J. Hallifax. 

The Federal Council, 1909 
The Federated States also were not unaffected by the 
changes of this progressive period. In 1909 an agree- 
ment between Sir John Anderson, as High Commissioner, 
and the rulers of the States was signed for the constitu- 
tion of a Federal Council, consisting of the Rulers, Resi- 
dents, unofficial members, and some heads of depart- 
ments, the last-named subject to the recommendation 
of the High Commissioner and the approval of the 

The High Commissioner presides at meetings of the 
Council, of which the Chief Secretary F.M.S. is, of course, 
also a member. This latter office was instituted, very 
shortly before Sir John left Malaya in 191 1, in place of 
that of Resident-General, a post created at the federation 
in 1 896, and, after a history of only fifteen years, swept 
away by the flowing tide of centralisation. 

As we have already stated, Sir John Anderson became 
Permanent Under-Secretary for the Colonies in April 
1 9 1 1 , after a very strenuous seven years' work, when ' ' he 
left the Colony . . . with a reputation not surpassed 
by the record of any of his immediate predecessors." 
Messrs. Wright and Reid continue: " His name will always 
be coupled in Malayan history with the territorial 
changes which are to influence so tremendously the 
political future of the Malay Peninsula." "His rule 
here," said the Singapore Free Press in a memorial 
notice, " was certainly distinguished by work done, and 
he was personally deeply respected by all." The same 
paper recorded that he was confronted by very difficult 
problems on his appointment as Governor of Ceylon, 
the chief being the inquiry into the matter of the rising 
there in 1915. It was extremely tiring and delicate 
work, " but Sir John, who had ever considered the 
public service before his own health or feelings, worked 


incessantly and thoroughly, and dealt with the whole 
matter. There is little doubt that the anxiety of this, 
together with his ordinary duties as Governor, made 
inroads upon his health greater than it could stand, and, 
as he refused to quit his post as long as he felt he was 
able to carry out his duties to the State, it may truly be 
said that his death is a sacrifice to the interest of the 
Empire, which has thereby lost one of its most distin- 
guished rulers." In our Legislative Council, four days 
after his death, the Governor, who had served under him 
as Colonial Secretary S.S. and Chief Secretary F.M.S., 
after reference to his brilliant intellect and excellence as 
an administrator, said : " In addition. Sir John was always 
willing to assist and to advise. I may say that he was 
not only a very gifted man, but a very human man. 
Many here in Malaya have lost a good friend. ... He 
died, as he would have wished, at work for the good of his 
country to the very end." And a leading unofficial 
member added : " He was a broad-minded and far-seeing 
man, and I think we can, without offence to those who 
came before him, say that from the day of his arrival in 
the Colony we seemed to emerge from a somewhat paro- 
chial atmosphere into a clearer, healthier, and freer one." 

Sir William Taylor, 1901-10 
Mr. William Thomas Taylor served in Cyprus 
from 1879 to 1895. He was Auditor-General of 
Ceylon from 1895 to 1901, and acted as Colonial 
Secretary there. He was appointed Colonial Secretary 
S.S. in 1 90 1, and administered the government before 
Sir John Anderson's appointment in 1904 and during 
one of the latter's short terms of leave in 1906. He was 
Resident-General F.M.S. (the last to hold the substantive 
appointment) from 1904 to 1910, when he retired, having 
been created K.C.M.G. in 1905. He has latterly been 
in charge of the Malay States Information Agency in 
London, and was mainly responsible for the successful 
administration of the F.M.S. War Hospital in 


Mr. F. G. Penney 
Mr. Frederick Gordon Penney was appointed a Cadet 
S.S. in 1876, and was the first Cadet to become Colonial 
Secretary, in which office he succeeded Mr. Taylor in 
1905, after having been Colonial Treasurer since 1898. 
He retired in 1906. In his earlier years he had experi- 
enced the usual varied career of the Straits Cadet, seeing 
service in all the Settlements, and his retirement was 
much regretted. 

Mr. R. N. Bland, C.M.G. 
Mr. Robert Norman Bland was appointed a Cadet in 
the Straits service in 1882. He held various offices in 
the three Settlements, and was also in charge of Sungei 
Ujong from 1893 to 1895. He became Colonial Treasurer 
in 1904, and was successively Resident Councillor, 
Malacca, from 1904 to 1907, and of Penang from 1907 
to 1910, when he retired. He became a C.M.G. in the 
latter year. He is the author of the illustrated work 
Historical Tombstones of Malacca, which has done much 
to preserve the records of monuments of the past, 
otherwise only too likely to perish, and he was a frequent 
contributor to the Royal Asiatic Society's Journal. 

Mr. W. Evans 
Mr. William Evans also became a Cadet S.S. in 1882. 
He studied Hokkien in Amoy, China, and the greater 
portion of his earlier service was spent in Chinese de- 
partments, he being Protector of Chinese, Singapore, 
for some years up to 1903. During this service he had 
on one occasion the unpleasant experience of being 
detained by riotous coolies when endeavouring to make 
peace in an immigrant depot, and it is surprising that 
he escaped with little damage, some of his assailants 
having to be shot by the police before he could be re- 
leased. In 1904 he was seconded to South Africa for 
the purpose of organising Chinese labour for the Rand 
after the South African War, for which service he re- 
ceived the thanks of the Government of the Transvaal. 


On his return to the Straits he was Resident Councillor, 
Malacca, until 19 10, in the course of which service he 
acted as Colonial Secretary on several occasions. He was 
the last to hold the title of Resident Councillor, Malacca, 
officers in charge of that Settlement since his time not 
being members of the two Councils and being designated 
Residents. He became Resident Councillor, Penang, in 
1910, and retired in 1913. 

Sir E. L. Brockman, 1886 to Present Time 

Mr. Edward Lewis Brockman also started his career 
as a Cadet S.S., having been appointed in 1886. His 
early service was spent in various posts in the Colony, 
where he acted as Colonial Secretary in 1905-6. He 
acted as Federal Secretary F.M.S. in 1907, and as Resi- 
dent-General in 1907-8. At various times he has 
acted as, or held the substantive posts of. Resident in 
Perak, Pahang, and Negri Sembilan. He was appointed 
Colonial Secretary S.S. in 191 1, and Chief Secretary 
F.M.S.,in succession to Sir Arthur Young, in the same 
year, an appointment which he still holds. He also 
administered the government of the Straits for some 
months in 191 1. He became C.M.G. in 1908 and 
K.C.M.G. in 1912. It was during his term of office as 
Chief Secretary that the battleship Malaya was pre- 
sented to the Imperial Government by the Federated 
Malay States. 

Sir Arthur Young, Governor, 1911-19 
Sir Arthur Young succeeded Sir John Anderson as 
Governor S.S. At the time of writing he is still our 
Governor, though he has definitely announced his 
approaching retirement. It is noteworthy that Sir 
Arthur (as pointed out by the President of the Singa- 
pore Municipality at the ceremony of unveiling of the 
Raffles Statue in its new abode, in front of the Victoria 
Memorial Hall, on Centenary Day , the 6th February 1 9 1 9), 
has broken all records for length of service as Governor 
under the Colonial Office, his nearest rival being Sir 


Frederick Weld. The record of Colonel Butterworth, 
who held the post, as we have seen, under the India 
Office for twelve years, is still unapproached. While 
holding the Secretaryship since 1906, and since his 
appointment as Governor, he has enjoyed merely a 
shadow of leave, for, having gone home a few weeks 
before the outbreak of war, he immediately returned, 
and so has remained at his post practically throughout 
the struggle and all its attendant difficulties and an- 
xieties here. He was created G.C.M.G. in 1916 and 
K.B.E. in 1918. 

The principal happenings of his Administration in the 
Colony could not fail to be overshadowed by the more 
stirring events in Europe. Yet Singapore witnessed 
even so the final completion of the great dock scheme 
in the opening of the Empire Dock by the Governor 
in 191 7, the opening of the King's Dock having taken 
place about a year before the War. There were other 
occurrences of varied importance, mainly, except for 
the tragic interruption of the mutiny of February 1915, 
of an (outwardly at least) ordinary " carry-on " descrip- 
tion. Certainly the Colony halted not nor stayed in 
her progress, and the rumblings of the world earthquake, 
save on that one occasion, left her quite unscathed. 
Honour and credit for this state of things are undoubtedly 
due to those who had to con the ship and weather the 

As already stated, a tax on income, a war-tax, was 
introduced. The Ordinance creating it came into 
operation on the ist January 191 7, and was intended to 
give an opportunity to citizens to take some share in 
the financial burden of the Mother Country during the 
War. This new institution was on the whole most 
patriotically received, and has produced a very acceptable 
contribution to our Empire's resources. For the same 
purpose excise and other duties have come into being 
both in the Colony and the F.M.S. And we must not 
omit here an allusion to the magnificent response of 
British Malaya to imperial needs both in men and money. 


I. 142) 


It has been said that, taking into account the whole 
number of British men in our confraternity here, the 
tale of those who volunteered for active service rivals 
that of any other country of the Empire. And as to 
contributions to War funds and charities, the amount 
subscribed by all races and classes of our people, in 
Colony and Native States alike, is really immense. 

We must notice an increase in prosperity in all the 
Malay States, Federated and Unfederated, which have, 
practically without interruption, advanced since their 
admission to British suzerainty. Through railway com- 
munication between Bangkok and Singapore was 
established in 191 8, by completion of the line through 
Southern Siam, Perils, Kedah, and Prai. A section of 
railway is also open in Kelantan. 

In 1 91 4, on the initiative of the Sultan of Johore, a 
subsidiary agreement to that of 1885 was signed, by 
which a General Adviser, with powers similar to those 
exercised by British Residents in the F.M.S., was 
appointed in that State. 

In May 1919 the State of Trengganu came into line 
with the Unfederated States in accepting the appoint- 
ment of a British Adviser. 

Throughout all his various activities of official 
life Sir Arthur Young has always been noted as 
an all-round sportsman, though it is, we believe, 
not even yet generally known that he played twice 
for Scotland versus England in the Rugby Inter- 
nationals of 1874. On his first arrival in the Straits 
he was a regular player in cricket matches at the S.C.C, 
and he was a winner for several successive tournaments 
of" the Veterans " at lawn tennis. He is well known 
as the keenest of golfers, and was President of the Singa- 
pore Golf Club for many years, only relinquishing the 
post on his impending retirement. 

In the course of his duties he has travelled far and 
wide in the Peninsula, and he made a special journey 
of inspection to Gunong Tahan in 191 2 in search of a 
site for a hill station for Malaya, to which we may 


hope it will be decided to give,as he himself has suggested, 
the name " Arthur's Seat," or some other commemorative 
designation. His generosity in the cause of all War 
charities has been most notable, and his unfailing 
kindness of heart in dealing with the too often tragic 
(if trivial) affairs of the most humble subordinates of 
the Government service has been most sincerely 

We will conclude this very brief account of his admin- 
istration with an excerpt from another article on the 
subject : " His rule is too recent to need any more 
detailed chronicle, but posterity will agree with his 
generation that in all things he has upheld the honour 
of the British flag and the great Service to which he 

It is, of course, clearly obvious that the task of a 
writer dealing with this modern period, in relation to its 
leading Civil Servants, is not an easy one. We do not 
propose, therefore, to attempt to speak of more than two 
or three of the prominent officials of Sir Arthur Young's 
administration of whom no account has so far been given 
in this article or elsewhere in this book. 

Mr. R. J. Wilkinson, C.M.G., 1889-1916 
Mr. Richard James Wilkinson has spent his whole 
career in various offices of the F.M.S. and the Colony. 
He was appointed a Cadet S.S. in 1889, and served in 
the Colony till 1903, when he became Inspector of 
Schools, F.M.S. He was Secretary to the Resident of 
Perak in 1909, and acted as Resident, Negri Sembilan, in 
1910, obtaining the substantive post in 191 1 . He made 
his mark in the Education Department, where he intro- 
duced modern methods and broke away from old 
traditions. He was then noted as a ready writer, keener 
on the scholarly side of the Government service than the 
Executive, and had no small share in directing public 
attention to the history and development of Malaya, 
in the capacity of general editor of a series of hand- 
books on Malay subjects printed under the auspices of 


the F.M.S. Government. Among his various works 
the famous Dictionary of the Malay Language has 
proved of immense assistance to students and scholars. 

But he was not to be left in this, to him, probably 
most congenial sphere. 

Soon after his rather unexpected appointment as 
Colonial Secretary in 191 1, he administered the govern- 
ment of the Colony, and he was doing so for a second 
time at the outbreak of war in 19 14, Sir Arthur Young 
having gone on leave some two months previously. At 
this important crisis he had the exceptionally onerous 
task of preventing panic and disaster throughout 
Malaya. And the result of his efforts has been well 
summed up as follows : " Public opinion has endorsed 
his method of dealing with the food and tin questions in 
which he went to the best authorities locally, and, having 
heard their views, brought to bear on them a keen 
critical faculty, and courageously accepted the responsi- 
bility of acting on his judgment." Surely a curious 
position for a man who had in his early service been 
considered a somewhat retiring scholar, to find himself 
in. And may we not comment that the brilliant result 
reflects some credit on our system and the Service in 
which he had been trained ? Mr. Wilkinson became 
C.M.G. in 1912. In 1916 he was appointed Governor 
of Sierra Leone, in which post he is still serving. 

Mr. F. S. James, C.M.G. 
Mr. Frederick Seton James succeeded Mr. Wilkinson 
as Colonial Secretary in 19 16, after a period of service on 
the West Coast of Africa dating as far back as 1896, 
in the course of which he was Political Officer with the 
Aro Field Force in 1901-2. He was created C.M.G. in 
the latter year for his services. He acted as Colonial 
Secretary and Deputy Governor of Southern Nigeria on 
various occasions between 190 7 and 191 2, and as Governor 
and Commander-in-Chief in the latter year. On the 
amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 
he was appointed Administrator of the Colony. Since 
I — II 


his arrival in the Straits he has inaugurated with the 
greatest success the local " Our Day " movement in 
connection with the Red Cross, which has obtained in 
three years well over three hundred thousand pounds 
sterling, and achieved for Malaya a position among all 
contributors in which she rivals even the great self- 
governing colonies. 

Appointed to the direction of Food Control in 191 8, 
he was later seconded as Food Controller, and has 
addressed many meetings throughout Malaya, urging 
on citizens of all races the duty of making the country 
self-supporting. At the time of writing he has again 
assumed his substantive post of Colonial Secretary, and 
it is announced that he will administer the government 
on the departure of Sir Arthur Young. 

Mr. D. G. Campbell, C.M.G. 
Mr. Douglas Graham Campbell joined the Selangor 
P.W.D. in 1883 from Ceylon. He afterwards became 
a District Officer in the same State, and he made his 
mark in the development of the land system under 
Mr. W. E. Maxwell. He was Secretary to the Resident, 
Selangor, in 1 901, and Resident, Negri Sembilan, in 1904, 
acting also on various occasions as Resident of Selangor 
and Pahang. Early in 19 10 he was appointed by Sir 
John Anderson to be Adviser to the Sultan of Johore, and 
he became General Adviser to the Johore Government 
under the agreement of 1914. He was created C.M.G. 
in 191 2. He died in 1918, at Singapore, after a very 
brief and sudden illness. An obituary notice in the 
Times tributed the financial success of his administration 
which made Johore " the envy in a few years of the other 
Native States," and called special attention to the 
reform of the land system there carried out under his 


We have come now to the end of the story of our 
Governors and Civil Servants, and of the land which has 


been a scene of their labours. And we have shown, we 
trust in not too wearisome a fashion, though, we are 
aware, only too inadequately, the gradual development 
of this great dominion of British Malaya, which has 
witnessed the growth and expansion of the Service from 
which its British officials are drawn. 

We hope that incidentally we have proved by examples 
given that the Old Country has done well by the young 
in providing her with men deserving well of both. And 
may we not, when we think of the difficulties, doubts, 
and dangers through which she has been steered, have 
some confidence in the future skill and judgment of a 
Service which has already produced such men, to guide 
her through the years in that peace and prosperity so 
often promised us to follow after the great world con- 
vulsion ? 

Before closing, however, we will anticipate a criticism 
which can hardly fail to be made. What has much of 
the tale that has been told to do with Singapore and her 
Centenary ? The answer is, that it must surely be 
clear that we have paid her the greatest compliment in 
our power. We have shown her whole history to the 
present time, not confining ourselves to a " village- 
pump " chronicle of her petty struggles and squabbles. 
We hope we have succeeded in displaying her as the 
absolute rock and foundation on which the whole of our 
confederation and confraternity depend ; as a city 
grown-up and dominant, not merely an eager little 
town ; as, in fact, the centre to which all her more 
youthful or less important sisters refer, the capital and 
crown of British Malaya in being, with Raffles, Light, 
and all the other seers famed for ever as dreamers 
" whose dreams came true." There is another matter 
that we must also in our concluding words note and 
never forget, namely that the stories we have told of 
distinguished officers are samples only of those of many 
other great ones of the company of " The Men in the 
Long Field," as Alfred Lyttelton once termed the 
Colonial Civil Service. 


These are the " lesser stars," of Newbolt, a galaxy 
that includes many who died at their posts out here, 
and as surely for their country as ever our young and 
valiant brothers of the Service who gave their lives in 
the Great War. 

They are men of whose like a well-known novelist, in 
one of his latest books, made an ex-naval lieutenant, 
who became a colonial administrator, say: " We have 
to go about the world and make roads and keep the peace 
and see fair play . . . that's the job of the Englishman. 
He's a sort of policeman. All the world's his beat, India, 
Africa, China, and the East, all the seas of the world. 
This little fat green country, all trim and tidy and set 
with houses and gardens, isn't much of a land for a man 
unless he's an invalid. It's a good land to grow up in 
and come back to die in, or rest in. But in between. No 1 " 

The following books and papers have been consulted 
and, in some cases, largely quoted from in preparing this 
article : 

Mr. C. B. Buckley's Anecdotal History of Old Times in 
Singapore ; Colonel Vetch's Life of General Sir Andrew 
Clarke ; Mr. John Cameron's Our Tropical Possessions 
in Malayan India ; Lady Lovat's Life of Sir Frederick 
Weld ; Mr. J. T. Thomson's Some Glimpses of Life in the 
Far East, and Sequel ; Sir Frank Swettenham's British 
Malaya ; Messrs. Arnold Wright and Thomas H. Reid's 
The Malay Peninsula ; and the former's Twentieth 
Century Impressions ; the Straits Chinese Magazine. 

To the writers of or in the above my best acknowledg- 
ments are due ; I also tender thanks to the following 
gentlemen who have assisted me with their advice or 
material at their disposal : H. Marriott, R. St. J. Braddell, 
and W. Makepeace, 


By Walter Makepeace 

The Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements 
dates from 1867. It meets generally in Singapore, and 
the present Council Chamber is the large room of the 
old Court which was replaced by a new Court House built 
in 1 864 ; but Council has met on occasion at Government 
House, and on the 12th September and 28th December 
1872 meetings were held in Penang, and at Malacca on 
the 1 7th September of the same year. At the Penang 
meetings Mr. F. A. Swettenham acted as Clerk of 
Councils, and at the Malacca meeting Lieutenant H. St. G. 
Ord, 78th Light Infantry. His Honour the Judge of 
Penang, Sir William Hackett, sat at the meetings later 
in the year. 

The Council first met in Singapore on Monday, the 
1st April 1867, when the Royal Instructions dated 5th 
February 1867 and Colonel Harry St. George Ord's 
commission under the Great Seal to be Governor and 
Commander-in-Chief were read. The Chief Justice 
(Sir Benson Maxwell) administered the oaths to the 
Governor, and the oaths as Members of Council were 
then taken by the Chief Justice (Sir Benson Maxwell), 
Brigadier C. Ireland (commanding the troops), the Acting 
Lieutenant-Governor of Penang (Colonel A. E. H. 
Anson), the Acting Colonial Secretary (Colonel Macpher- 
son), the Attorney-General (T. Braddell), the Colonial 
Engineer (Major J. F. A. McNair, R.A.), the Honourables 
W. H. Read, F. S. Brown, T. Scott, and R. Little, M.D. 

By direction of His Excellency the Governor, the 
Chief Justice declared : " That the Islands and Terri- 
tories known as the Straits Settlements cease to form a 
part of India, and are placed under the Government 
of Her Majesty as part of the Colonial Possessions of 
the Crown." 

Mr. H. F. Plow was first Clerk of Councils. Acts were 


passed for the appointment of public officers, for powers 
for the Govemor-in-Council and the Lieutenant-Gover- 
nors, for the performance of certain judicial duties and 
replacing the Recorders, for declaring dollars legal tender 
and public accounts to be kept in dollars and cents. It 
was resolved to open the meetings to the public, a short- 
hand note to be taken of the proceedings, but not to be 
published by any person without the authority of the 
Council, the Clerk to supply a report " for the informa- 
tion of the Editors of the several local newspapers." 

Four meetings were held in May, and in June Colonel 
Cooke replaced Brigadier Ireland. The first petition 
was presented by Mr. Read in June, referring to the 
Excise Bill. 

In the following notes the names of the Unofficial 
Members of Council are given, with the years in which 
they first took their seats. The Official Members of 
Council changed so often, as promotion or leave occurred, 
that their names cannot be recorded. 

1867.— C. H. H. Wilsone. 

1868.— nil. 

1869.— W. R. Scott; W. Adamson. 

1870. — Hoo Ah Kay Whampoa. 

1 87 1. — -J. J. Greenshields. 
In this year the Administrator delivered his Address 
on the 17th May, and retired, the Officer Commanding 
the Troops taking the chair. The Auditor-General 
brought up the Address in reply to the speech of His 
Excellency, prepared by a committee appointed for that 
purpose, and it was unanimously adopted. If His 
Excellency's speech be read, the Address in reply will 
be seen to consist of " We concur." The Bills for the 
Singapore Railway Company and the Singapore and New 
Harbour railways were brought up, and Counsel, Messrs. 
Atchison, Aitken, and ' Guthrie Davidson appeared. 
There were some lively passages at arms, and witnesses 
were called to speak to the respective merits of Tanjong 
Pagar and New Harbour. Many meetings were occupied 
by this enquiry. 


The Table of Ordinances passed in 1 870 is a long one — 
twenty-seven in number, including one for the abolition 
of imprisonment for debt, for establishing a money-order 
system between the Colony and the United Kingdom, 
to suppress common gaming-houses and lotteries, and a 
contagious diseases ordinance. 

The Council of 1871 included the Governor, the Chief 
Justice, the Officer Commanding the Troops, the Lieu- 
tenant-Governors of Penang and Malacca, the Judge of 
Penang, the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General, 
the Treasurer, the Auditor-General, the Colonial Engineer, 
the Honourables W. H. Read, F. S. Brown, T. Scott, 
W. R. Scott, William Adamson, and Hoo Ah Kay— eleven 
official members and six unofficials. 
1872. — -T. Shelford. 

Sir Benson Maxwell strongly objected to the renewal 
of the Act 20 of 1867, giving the Governor power 
to deport not only aliens but others. The I)uke of 
Buckingham and Chandos did not accept all the Chief 
Justice's points, but he laid it down that the person to 
be deported must be summoned before the Executive 
Council, if he chose to be heard before them, and a 
written record of their opinion of the desirability of 
removing him from the Colony. " It is very question- 
able whether a Colonial law can properly authorise 
deportations to any place beyond the limits of the 
Colony," and the section was to be amended, ordering 
the banishment and prescribing a punishment if he did 
not remove himself. The Chief Justice and Mr. Read 
protested when the Bill was brought up for amend* 

In September of this year Mr. T. Scott, Mr. W. R. Scott, 
and Dr. Little resigned their seats on the Legislative 
Council, strongly protesting against the Juries Bill 
and " the uselessness of being on the Council." Sir 
Harry Ord's rule had not proved acceptable. The 
Grand Jury, whose presentment had been made the 
vehicle of the expression of public opinion, was abolished. 
The Militia and Municipal Bills had been withdrawn. 


The resignation of the three members " in consequence 
of executive rough-riding" was accepted; but early in 
the following year Sir Andrew Clarke sent for them, read 
the letter from the Secretary of State accepting their 
resignations, and offered them reappointment, which was 

1874.— H.W.Wood. 

1875-— J- M. B. Vermont; R. B. Read. 

1876. — David Brown; J. R. MacArthur ; 
Walter Scott. 

1887.— I. S. Bond. 
August 1886—" The hon'ble I. S. Bond has sent in his 
resignation as a member of the Legislative Council. . . . 
There is a very general feeling that it would still further 
weaken the minority if he retires. As the Government 
have shown the example of setting law at defiance (on 
the Malacca Lands Bill), and as the Chief Justice has 
been taken away (on an excuse of following other Colonies 
which no one now believes to be the real one), it is neces- 
sary to have a lawyer in the Council who is not bound 
to follow His Excellency into matters which his judg- 
ment and honest mind would refuse to carry him." This 
is a contemporary comment. 

1879.— Robert Campbell; S. Gilfillan. 

1880. — F. C. Bishop; J. Graham; A. Currie. 

1882.— W. G. Gulland ; G. M. Sandilands. 

1883. — Seah Liang Seah. 

1884.— G. T. Addis. 

1885.— T. Cuthbertson; T. Shelf ord. 

1886. — John Allan; John Anderson; John 
Very protracted debates were held in the two last 
years over the Malacca Lands Ordinances. The 
Legislative Council meeting on Supply took from half- 
past two till nearly seven o'clock. Mr. T. Shelford, 
Mr. T. Cuthbertson, Mr. Burkinshaw, and Mr. Allan 
(Penang) all spoke on the question of appointing a 
British Resident at Johore, and lost by the usual official 
majority, nine votes to seven. But the unofficial 


agreed to spend another $50,000 on the forts of Singapore, 
and $30,000 for the Queen's Jubilee. 

1887. — C. W. Conington ; John Finlayson ; 
H. W. Geiger ; J. P. Joaquim. 

The debate of the year was the Municipal Ordinance, 
over which in committee many disputations took place. 
1888.— J. Y. Kennedy, 

In 1889 took place what is probably the classical 
debate in the history of the Council on the Societies 
Bill, well worth reading even after this lapse of time. 
There were many vigorous and lucid speakers among 
the unofficials, while it would be difficult to find better 
debaters than Sir Cecil Smith and Mr. J. W. Bonser. At 
the conclusion of the second reading Mr. Wm. Adamson 
asked permission to retire without recording his vote, but 
the Governor ruled he could not do so, and the measure 
was carried by the eight official votes to seven unofficial. 
It is interesting, after a lapse of thirty years, to attempt 
to assess the relative values of the opinions expressed 
in the light of the operation of this Ordinance. 
1890. — G. S. Murray ; Tan Jiak Kim. 

In the preceding year Mr. T. Shelford laid on the table 
a formal protest against the Municipal Ordinance, and 
again, in 1890, protested against Clause 12 of the Oaths 

In 1 89 1 Sir J. F. Dickson, who had been Colonial 
Secretary to Sir Frederick Weld, and was popularly 
believed to be the power behind the throne, died. It 
is recorded that the Colonial Secretary made a remark- 
able speech on the Chinese Immigration Ordinance, 
" which was disclaimed by the Governor as an expres- 
sion of Government opinion." 

1 891 also saw the great combined struggle between the 
Legislative Council and the War Office, through the 
Colonial Office, on the amount of the military contribu- 
tion. Every member of the Council was willing to pro- 
test to the utmost, and the resolution was carried by 
seven votes to six " in the usual way," " under instruc- 
tions." Mr. Shelford again put in his protest, which 


was unanimously adopted by all the members of the 
Council, the Official Members expressing their sympathy 
with the " opposition." 

1892. — T. C. Bogaardt ; A. L. Donaldson. 
The year following there was the debate on the Regis- 
tration of Partnerships, and much divergence of opinion 
among the unofficials. 

In November 1893 a vacancy occurring for Penang, 
the Chamber of Commerce nominated Mr. A. Hutten- 
bach. The subsequent election was declared null and 
void, and Dr. Brown was declared the candidate for 

1894. — ^A. Huttenbach ; Lim Boon Keng. 
The longest recess took place in this year, 1895. The 
Legislative Council met on the 2nd September, after a 
recess of eight months. This was, of course, due to 
the resignations of members over the military contri- 
bution, and the refusal of office of others asked to take 
their places. 

1896.— J. M. Allinson ; D. Logan; W. J. 


The Municipal Amendment Bill was keenly debated. 

In committee the Attorney-General, Mr. Shelford, and 

Mr. Burkinshaw are each credited with sixty reported 


1898.— Dr. W. C. Brown. 

1899. — C. Stringer. 

1900.— T. E. Earle; W. H. Frizell ; C. W. 

Laird ; J. Bromhead Matthews. 
1903. — Hugh Fort ; D. J. Galloway ; John 

1904. — E. W. Presgrave ; W. P. Waddell. 
1905.— W. H. Shelford. 
This year the Tanjong Pagar Arbitration Bill was 
considered, and Mr. Hugh Fort appeared as Counsel at 
the Bar of the Council. 

1907. — A. R. Adams ; T. S. Baker. 
1908. — E. C. Ellis ; M. R. Thornton. 
1909. — C. McArthur. 


1910. — F. W. Collins ; C. W. Darbishire ; R. 

191 1. — D.T.Boyd; C.I.Carver; W.W.Cook; 

G. Macbain ; Seah Liang Seah. 
1912. — H. M. Darby. 
191 3. — D. A. M. Brown. 
1914. — E. D. Hewan ; C. H. Niven ; F. M. 

191 6. — John Mitchell. 
191 7. — R. J. Addie ; A. Agnew. 
191 8. — D. Y. Perkins. 

Notes and Reminiscences 
For the first four years the debates of the Legislative 
Council were reported in the official proceedings in 
full, but who the reporter was is not stated. As Mr. 
Arthur Knight was, even as far back as 1 870, in the 
Audit Office, it may have been he ; but then the 
difficulty is to explain how for three years following no 
verbatim reports seem to have been published. The 
newspapers were not allowed to publish any report at 
all of the proceedings of the Legislative Council except 
those officially supplied, so we find constant complaints 
of the reports being delayed. The debates certainly 
seem to have been of a high standard, and there is a 
notable report of a debate between the Chief Justice 
(Sir Benson Maxwell) and the Attorney-General (T. 
Braddell), full of force and legal subtlety. 

The writer of this article, then in Government service, 
left it in 1887, partly because he was asked to come to 
Singapore to act as shorthand reporter in place of Mr. 
Knight, going on leave, without extra pay. This was 
an error of judgment on his part, for joining the 
Singapore Free Press, he found he had to do the reporting 
of the Council for that paper — also for nothing — as part 
of his duties, and they were used for the time being as 
the official reports. On occasions later, in 1905, when 
the official shorthand reporter was on leave, he had to 
do the same, and for the past three years a member of 


the Singapore Free Press staff has acted as official short- 
hand writer. However, the point is, that from 1887 
to 1902 he had plenty of opportunity of " sampling " 
Council eloquence. The Clerk of Councils, who is 
usually the Assistant Colonial Secretary, and acts as the 
official recorder of both the Legislative and Executive 
Councils, is expected to possess the diplomacy of a 
Cecil and the secrecy of a Queen's Messenger. He gener- 
ally succeeds ; or else is transferred to another appoint- 
ment. Mr. H. F. Plow was the first Clerk of Councils ; 
he was also private secretary to Sir Harry Ord. Mr. 
A. P. Talbot was for long the Clerk of Councils, and as 
such he was hard to beat. 

In the old Council Chamber (which in theory every 
British subject may attend when the Council is sitting, 
but there is no record of any person not connected with 
the Council attending more than once) there was one long 
table. In a room notoriously bad for sound this made 
reporting somewhat of a task. Major McCallum tried 
wires along the ceiling, but the punkahs prevented these 
having any beneficial eff"ect, especially as the newspaper 
reporters sat at the backs of the unofficials, who (again 
in theory) were the only orators whose speeches the 
public wanted to read, though, as a matter of fact, they 
were far more keen to hear expositions from the 
Governors of their policy. The atmosphere was depress- 
ing, and when the debate went on after 5 p.m. a few 
solitary candles were brought in. But it must have 
been the punkah's soporific effect that led to a three 
hours' debate eventually being cut down to three 
columns. The writer always used to be interested in 
the Officer Commanding the Troops. He hardly 
remembers one who could resist the temptation to 
forty winks, and Sir Charles Warren without disguise 
closed his eyes to think deeply upon the plans he was 
making for the conversion of Singapore into a fortress. 

Sir Frederick Weld was the Governor when my semi- 
official connection with the Council began. He was 
a moderately good speaker, with a good delivery, but, 


like many other people, he could not always understand 
what " those damned dots " meant when it came to 
dealing with figures. On one occasion he was reading 
his address, and on coming to the figures of revenue, 
something like $1,763,000, he turned to his Colonial 
Secretary, after one or two tries to put them as 17 
somethings, 176 other things, and wanted to know what 
he was to say. Sir Frederick Dickson, who had been 
an official in Ceylon, having something to do with 
figures, prompted him, and the old gentleman went on 
happily with what was quite a statesmanlike address, 
till he came to some more millions. 

Sir Frederick Dickson had, in common with Mr. 
Thomas Shelford, a keen tongue, and a most illegible 
handwriting. Sir Frederick once rather astonished the 
Council by pleading for more roadside trees to give 
shade to the natives, even if it meant spending a few 
thousand dollars extra on repairs to the roads. On 
another occasion Mr. Shelford mentioned that a certain 
clause in the Municipal Bill would not be approved of 
by the " people outside," and Sir Frederick rather con- 
temptuously asked : " Who are the people outside ? " 
The writer had reason to remember this, because as 
official shorthand writer the references were duly put 
in the transcript, and he became the shuttlecock for a 
lively game, for the Colonial Secretary struck out his 
query, but Mr. Shelford, who had later got home some 
of his most stinging remarks on this text, declined to 
cut out his very smart retorts. With the cunning of 
a real Government official, the reporter, failing to please 
both gentlemen, fired in his verbatim transcript officially 
to the Clerk of Councils, and left him to settle the matter. 

Writing of verbatim reporting, Mr. August Huttenbach 
was most difficult in this respect. Perhaps he thought 
in German — though he was an excellent English scholar. 
At any rate, quite half of his sentences were never 
finished at all. The reporter took the usual liberty of 
making thehonourable member'sspeech readable, andwas 
on one occasion taxed with not giving a verbatim report. 


Would he do it ? With pleasure. He took great pains, 
and got the " hms and hahs," the duplicated words, and 
all the rest of it, and faithfully reported them. Mr. 
Huttenbach read the speech through, smiled, and 
interrogated " Really ? " " Really? " " Then I leave 
it to you, Mr. Reporter." 

Mr. Thomas Shelford was a very clear, incisive, and 
capable debater. He had a most complete set of Council 
papers and records, and got up his speech as any lawyer 
would his opening address, long quotations and authori- 
ties all pat. He made rough notes of the speech, and 
was seldom far away from them. The sting of the 
remark was generally in the tail of the sentence, and 
the speaker had a knack of dropping his voice there, 
making it very difficult for the reporter to hear. How- 
ever, Mr. Shelford 's notes, when you could read them, 
were a help. The finest ending the writer remembers 
was in a speech attacking the Crown Agents for the 
Colonies, and giving as an instance an indent " for that 
common and well-known garment the sarong," for the 
inmates of Malacca Hospital. " The Agents sent out a 
consignment of ' red flannel petticoats ' — fit emblems 
of the department itself." 

The heads of the local banks used to be nominated to 
the Council in olden days, till the head offices, with a 
narrowness of view that one would not have expected, 
forbade their managers to accept the post. Mr. G. S. 
Murray, of the Mercantile Bank, was a tower of strength 
to the Government in financial and trade matters. He 
spoke very clearly but extremely quickly — i8o to 200 
words a minute. Mr. W. H. Frizell, of the Chartered, 
was the most polished speaker the writer remembers in 
Council, his occasional speeches being perfect models 
of English prose. Sir Cecil Smith was also a very fine 
speaker, with a singularly easy delivery and clearness 
of expression. 

Legal members of the Council as a rule were severely 
practical and clear, and did not indulge in florid speech- 
making. Sir John Bonser and Sir Walter Napier were 


good debaters, and very keen. The writer's best 
experience was that of Mr. Hugh Fort's speech at the 
Bar against the Tanjong Pagar Expropriation. In a 
speech of 1 4,000 words not half a dozen corrections were 
found necessary. 

Sir Charles Mitchell was bluff and outspoken, and there 
never was any doubt as to his meaning or his intention 
to carry out his designs. Sir Frank Swettenham was a 
good speaker, equally plain in his way of demolishing 
arguments against him; but there was a subtle suggestion 
of sarcasm in all he said. Sir John Anderson was an 
exceedingly nervous speaker, and never in his public 
speeches did justice to his wide and accurate knowledge 
of matters and the clear and far-sighted views he took. 
He was always clear, but seldom rose to eloquence. 



By Roland St. J. Braddell 

Wherever an Englishman goes, he carries with him 
as much of English law and liberty as the nature of his 
situation will allow. Accordingly, when a Settlement 
is made by British subjects of country that is unoccupied 
or without settled institutions, such newly settled 
country is to be governed by the law of England, but 
only so far as that law is of general and not merely local 
policy and modified in its application so as to suit the 
needs of the Settlement. 

When the Settlements of Penang and Singapore were 
occupied by the British, the only existing population was 
Malay, consisting of a few famihes at each place, and sub- 
sisting on fishing and piracy ; there were no settled 
institutions, and the places were virtually unoccupied. 
The two Settlements, then, came under the rule that 
English law was introduced either on the ground that 
they were unoccupied or that they were possessed of no 
settled institutions. Over this question there raged, 
however, a controversy based principally upon the 
proposition that as both places were part of the territory 
of Mohammedan sovereigns (the Rajah of Kedah and the 
Sultan of Johore respectively), therefore the law of the 
land, or lex loci, to use the legal term, must be Moham- 
medan law. This controversy did not receive its quietus 
until 1872, when the Privy Council adopted a decision 
of Sir Benson Maxwell, and held that the law of England 



was the law of the land, with the necessary modifications 
as to its application. All the actual decisions bear upon 
the Settlement of Penang, and there is no decision as to 
Singapore, because it has always been recognised that 
no distinction can be drawn between the two Settle- 
ments for this purpose. 

Before approaching the legal history of Singapore, it 
is necessary to take a very short glance at the legal 
history of Penang up to the date when the Union Jack 
first flew from the Singapore beach. In 1786 success- 
ful negotiations with the Rajah of Kedah were concluded 
by Captain Francis Light for the cession of the Island 
of Penang, and on the i ith August 1786, the eve of the 
birthday of the Prince who later became George IV, the 
British flag was hoisted, and the island re-named " Prince 
of Wales's Island." Legal chaos existed in Penang 
until 1807, when a Charter of Justice was granted by 
the Crown, and the Court of Judicature of Prince of 
Wales's Island was established, consisting of the Gover- 
nor, three Councillors, and a professional Judge, styled 
the Recorder of Prince of Wales's Island. This Court 
had jurisdiction in Penang only, and when Singapore 
was founded, in 1 819, the Penang Court was quite unable 
to give any assistance to the new Settlement, even if it 
had been disposed to do so. The Charter of 1807 is 
usually referred to as the First Charter. 

By our first treaty with Johore, in 18 19, we obtained 
only a lease of part of the Island of Singapore, with 
the right to erect a factory thereon ; the full cession 
of the island was not obtained, and even what had been 
done was at first unacknowledged by the Crown or 
Parliament. The Government in India, therefore, felt 
that it was without any power to delegate authority to 
the local officers for the due administration of justice. 
Law and order, however, had to be preserved as far as 
possible. Sir Stamford Raffles, in 18 19, accordingly 
instructed Major Farquhar, the first officer in charge of 
the new Settlement, to consider the larger part of the 
population as camp-followers, subject to his military 
I — 12 


authority as Commandant, but pointed out that by 
virtue of his office as Resident he was necessarily also 
Chief Magistrate, and left it in his discretion to act either 
as Commandant or Magistrate. In his instructions of 
the following year Raffles emphasised further that 
Singapore was to be considered as a military post rather 
than as a fixed Settlement, the Resident being instructed 
that no artificial encouragement was to be given to the 
immigration of natives. 

Justice, civil and criminal, was administered by the 
Resident by summary process, and after the manner of 
a court of conscience. Punishments were confined to 
very small pecuniary fines, imprisonment and hard 
labour, never exceeding six months' duration ; and 
where disgrace accompanied the offence, whipping, in 
no case exceeding three strokes of a cane. In the capital 
offences of murder and piracy the only resource was to 
imprison the offenders indefinitely when the evidence 
was unquestionable and clear, which it very rarely was. 
Captains (or heads of castes) and Penghulus of kampongs 
(villages) were appointed amongst the Asiatic races, and 
were looked to for assistance in keeping order, and for 
advice on matters affecting native law and custom ; a 
Police Force was constituted and paid for by the Govern- 
ment and the Night Watch Fund subscribed by the 
mercantile community. 

In 1823 two Regulations were passed, which provided 
for the establishment of an efficient Magistracy at Singa- 
pore, and for the mode in which local Regulations having 
the force of law should be enacted ; and it is amusing 
to note that the first regular administration of justice 
in Singapore was ordained by what were in all proba- 
bility illegal instruments. The power of framing Regula- 
tions, which were executive orders, was vested in the 
Governor-General of India by an Act of Parliament of 
1773, but subject to certain conditions and with certain 
limitations. The gravest doubts existed as to the 
validity of those issued for the Straits, because the 
conditions mentioned in the Act were generally neglected, 


and many of the Straits Regulations were held from 
time to time to be invahd, notably the Singapore Land 
Regulation of 1834. On the other hand, the Regis- 
tration of Imports, and Exports Regulation of 1833 
was only repealed by the first Registration of Imports 
and Exports Ordinance of 1886. Whether valid or 
invalid, the Regulations were the only form of local 
written law until 1 834, .when the Indian Acts com- 

Returning to the Regulations of 1823, under Regula- 
tion Ilia Commission of the Peace was issued appointing 
certain gentlemen as Justices of the Peace, and amongst 
their names occur those of A. L. Johnston, Alexander 
Guthrie, Charles Scott, and C. R. Read. Two of the 
Justices were to sit with the Resident in Court to decide 
civil and criminal cases, while two others acted in rota- 
tion to perform the minor duties of their office. Juries 
were to consist o,f five Europeans, or four Europeans 
with three respectable natives. The Resident's Court 
was to sit once a week, the Magistrates' twice ; the 
offices were to be open daily. Regulation VI of 1823 
provided further for the administration of justice, and 
Sir Stamford Raffles issued a Proclamation stating the 
leading principles of the justice to be administered 
which, though of that type commonly termed " natural 
justice," seems to have been admirably suited to the 
needs of the new Settlement. The following paragraphs 
from the Proclamation give an idea of the spirit of the 
whole : 

" Let the principles of British law be applied not only 
with mildness, but with a patriarchal kindness and in- 
dulgent consideration for the prejudices of each tribe 
as far as natural justice will allow, but also with refer- 
ence to their reasoning powers, however weak, and that 
moral principle which, however often disregarded, still 
exists in the consciences of all men. 

" Let all the native institutions, as far as regards reli- 
gious ceremonies, marriage, and inheritance, be respected 
when they may not be inconsistent with justice and 


humanity and injurious to the peace and morals of 

" Let all men be considered equal in the eye of the law." 

Those words contain the secret of British colonising 
success, for they state in the main our policy with regard 
to the native races to be found within our Empire. As 
will be seen later, the Charters and the Judges have 
done all in their power to preserve the freedom of native 
institutions upon which Sir Stamford Raffles insisted. 

In January 1824 Mr. Crawfurd, the Resident, re- 
ported that he was engaged in administering, as far as 
possible, Chinese and Malay law to those races, which 
though legally incorrect, must undoubtedly have proved 
a great attraction to Chinese and Malays to settle in the 
island. He went on to report that " the case with 
respect to Europeans is very different : there exists 
no means whatever in civil cases of affording any 
redress against them nor in criminal cases any remedy 
short of sending them for trial before the Supreme 
Court at Calcutta." It is, indeed, a sad fact that both 
in Penang and Singapore in the very early days of those 
Settlements the Europeans were lawless and turbulent ; 
many of them set a disgraceful example, and being 
virtually immune from the law, openly flaunted the 
authorities. It should, however, be remembered that 
very many of these breakers of the law were low-class 
adventurers attracted to the new Settlements by the 
hope of spoil ; to the majority of their earliest European 
settlers both Penang and Singapore owe a debt of very 
great gratitude. 

By 1824 the necessity for a proper judicial system in 
Singapore had become urgent, and soon after the treaty 
of that year granting to the British sovereignty over the 
island, Mr. Crawfurd wrote to Bengal on the subject, 
asking for a Charter of Justice to be obtained from the 
Crown on the lines of that granted to Penang in 1 807, and 
for the appointment of a professional judge. In 1825 
Singapore and Malacca were annexed to Penang as one 


Presidency, and on the 27th November 1826 the Crown 
granted a new Charter of Justice to the East India 
Company for the three Settlements, by which the juris- 
diction of the Court of Judicature at Penang wasextended 
to Singapore and Malacca, and the Court was renamed 
" The Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales's Island, 
Singapore, and Malacca," Penang remaining its head- 
quarters. The Court consisted of the Governor, the 
Recorder, and the three Resident Councillors of the 
Settlements. But for the changes of nomenclature and 
extension of jurisdiction the new Charter (commonly 
called the Second Charter) was the same as the old. 

The Judges of the Colony have without exception 
held that the Charter of 1807 introduced into Penang 
the English law as it then existed, and in a series of 
decisions dating from 1835 they have also held that the 
Second Charter of 1826 introduced into the three 
Settlements the English law as it existed on the 26th 
November 1826. The Charter was a loosely drawn 
instrument, and many of the Recorders, notably Sir Ben- 
jamin Malkin, criticised it on that account ; but one is 
by no means sure that this very looseness was not its 
principal virtue, for it enabled our Recorders gradually 
to build up a series of decisions which may now be called 
the common law of the Colony, exercising a ripe discre- 
tion and wise choice which might have been seriously 
hampered, to the detriment of the young Settlements, 
by a closer wording of the Charter. In particular was 
the door left wide to the Judges to decide what modifi- 
cations of the English law were necessary on account 
of the religions and usages of the Oriental races living 
in the Colony. The Third Charter of 1855, which still 
has force, retained the words of its predecessors in this 
last respect. It may be sufficient, therefore, to quote 
the words of Sir Thomas Braddell in a judgment, con- 
curred in by Sir William Hyn5man-Jones, in the cele- 
brated Six Widows Case in 1907 : 

" Now it may be perfectly true to say that the Charter 
does no more than adopt a principle in agreement with 


the law of England, but it does nevertheless expressly 
declare that the Court of Judicature shall have and 
exercise jurisdiction as an Ecclesiastical Court so far as 
the several religions and customs of the inhabitants of 
the Settlements and places will admit. 

" I am unable to regard this declaration in the light 
of being surplusage and intended to do nothing more 
than if it simply declared in general terms that the 
Court of Judicature should have and exercise jurisdic- 
tion as an Ecclesiastical Court according to the law of 
England without more. 

" The qualifying words seem to me to have been 
• inserted because it was recognised that the laws of 
England would necessarily require to be administered 
with such modifications as to make them suitable to 
the religion^ and customs of the inhabitants who were 
intended to be benefited by them. They were dictated 
from a regard for that constant policy of our rulers to 
administer our laws in our Colonies with a tender solici- 
tude for the religious beliefs and established customs 
of the races living under the protection of our Flag, and 
I regard them as such as a charge to our Courts to 
exercise their jurisdiction with all due regard to the 
several religions, manners, and customs of the inhabi- 

Polygamy amongst Mohammedans and Chinese has 
accordingly been recognised, and the offspring of such 
unions treated as legitimate, the Statute of Distribu- 
tions being construed so as to cover the widows and 
childrenof MohammedansandChinese; on the other hand, 
the Chinese practice of adoption has not been recognised, 
nor have the Chinese been allowed, in defiance of the 
rule against perpetuities, to tie up their property for 
generations with a view to the due performance of the 
" Sin-chew" or ancestral worship. 

The Court set up by the Charter of 1826 for Singapore 
and the other Settlements was a Recorder's Court, which 
differed essentially in its constitution from the King's 
Courts of the principal Indian Presidencies. At these 
latter the form of process had all the technical intrica- 


cies of the Superior Courts in England ; in the Recorder's 
Court the forms were so simphfied as to suit the Enghsh 
law to the state of society among the native inhabitants, 
thus making the administration of justice cheap, simple, 
and so far efficient. It suffered, however, from a most 
serious defect, for the Governor and the official members 
were not only Judges of the Court, but superior in rank 
to the Recorder. In this manner there was a most 
impolitic union of the executive, legislative, and judicial 
functions ; and the independence and dignity of the 
judicial functions were necessarily impaired or degraded 
by placing the only lawyer, and only efficient judge of 
the Court, in an inferior and dependent situation. This 
state of affairs, which was the source of endless friction, 
continued under the Third Charter of 1855, and was 
only finally abolished in 1868, though as a matter of 
fact the executive officers did not sit as judges for a 
long time before the latter date. 

The first Recorder under the Charter of 1826 assumed 
his duties in August 1827, and almost immediately there 
began between him and the Government " those mis- 
chievous discussions," as the Indian Law Commissioners 
later termed them, which eventually led to his recall 
and removal from office. The records of the Court 
abound with the disputes which took place between the 
Executive and the Recorder, Sir John Thomas Claridge, 
great irascibility of temper being shown on both sides. 
Singapore was the principal sufferer, for the Recorder 
refused to go on circuit, his reason being the " direct 
insult offered " to him by not providing him with a 
proper ship in which to travel. As a consequence, the 
Governor, Mr. Fullerton, had to hold the first Assizes in 
Singapore on the 22nd May 1828, the Resident, Mr. 
Murchison, sitting with him, but not the Recorder. A 
suitable ship was, however, provided the next year, and 
in his charge to the Grand Jury the Recorder poured out 
his grievances, one of which was that he had not been 
provided with a steam vessel as he had been given to 
understand in England would be done ; he also made 


general allusions derogatory to the Court establishment, 
and his charge to the Jury formed one of the heads of 
accusation against him on his recall. It was about this 
time that steamers had first been talked about in 
Singapore, with the result that a violent controversy 
broke out between the Malacca Observer and the Singa- 
pore Chronicle as to the merits of such vessels. The latter 
paper had the last word, when it remarked that steamers 
would lead to the resort to Singapore of " penned up, 
bilious individuals " ! Whether this remark referred 
to the Recorder or not, however, did not appear. 

At the September Assizes, 1829, there was tried the 
first false case in Singapore of which a record remains. 
Singapore was described once by the late Mr. Justice 
Edmonds, Deputy Public Prosecutor at the time, as 
" a town of false cases," and the lengths to which 
Asiatics will often go to gratify their revenge by 
bringing false cases against their enemies are amazing. 
In this particular case, a Malay girl, named Ley Wha, 
was charged with administering arsenic poison to a 
Chinese family to which she was cook, and Kim Seang, 
a Chinese man, was charged as an accessory before the 
fact. The defence was that a packet had been given 
to the girl by a Javanese woman, named Champaka, 
who had told the girl to put it in the food, as it was a 
charm which would prevent her mistress from beating 
or ill-using her. It was further proved that Champaka 
had been the mistress of one Che Sang, a rich Chinese 
who bore a grudge against Kim Seang, and who was the 
father-in-law of the head of the family to which the 
Malay girl was cook. Kim Seang was a book-keeper to 
Messrs. Napier and Scott, and Mr. Charles Scott gave 
strong evidence on his behalf, proving an alibi for him, and 
also swearing that he had heard Che Sang threatening 
Kim Seang. The accused were unanimously acquitted, 
but no steps seem to have been taken against Che 
Sang, who was the principal Chinese merchant of 
his time. The case is referred to because it is a perfect 
type of an Asiatic false case, and has been the fore- 


runner of thousands. Che Sang was a character in his 
way. He was a miser, keeping his money in iron chests 
(as everyone did then, for there were no banks) and 
sleeping amongst the chests. But in spite of his miserh- 
ness, he was a great gambler. One day he lost a con- 
siderable sum, which caused him so much distress that 
he cut off the first joint of one of his little fingers, with 
an oath not to play any more ; but so ingrained had the 
habit become that even this did not cure him, and he 
returned to his gambling, from which it is said that much 
of his fortune had originally come. He died in 1836, 
and his will was the cause of a Singapore Jarndyce v. 
Jarndyce, which was not concluded until 1880. He used 
to boast that he had so much influence over the Chinese 
that, any day he said the word, he could empty the place 
of all the Europeans ; fortunately, he never tried. 
His funeral was attended by from five to ten thousand 
people, so that it certainly seemed as if there was some 
truth in his boast. 

Sir John Claridge was recalled to England, and dis- 
missed from his office, though the Privy Council held 
that no imputation rested on his capacity or integrity 
in the exercise of his judicial functions so as to preclude 
him from further employment ; but he was never again 
employed under the Crown, though Parliament was 
several times moved in his behalf, the last time as late 
as 1845, by Mr. W. E. Gladstone. Whatever the merits 
were between the Executive and Sir John Claridge, the 
latter had the sympathy of the people of Penang, and 
before he left, addresses were presented to him by 
European and Chinese merchants, the names appended 
to them containing those of all the best-known of the 
Penang mercantile community. The Chinese address 
was a very amusing document, and is so typical of the 
old-style Chinese flowery writing that it is well worthy 
of notice. It opened with these words : " All the 
merchants and people of the Island of Penang, bowing 
to the ground, present themselves before the bar of the 
great official Judge of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, 


Tuan Hakim the Magnate " ; it then praised the virtues 
of the Recorder, of whom it is stated that his " strict 
purity and integrity also exceeded the ancient Heang 
Chung Whang, who, when he watered his horses, threw 
money to pay for it into the River Wei " ; and it con- 
cluded with the confident hope that " Your Excellency 
will return to your office in this land, and cause all the 
merchants and people of the island again to see the 
azure heaven of your countenance, and enjoy abundantly 
the renovating showers of your administration. What 
a delight this will be ! " 

After the Recorder's departure, the Resident Councillor 
continued to conduct the business of the Court in Singa- 
pore until the 30th June 1 830, when the three Settlements 
ceased to form a Presidency, and were made subordinate 
to the Government of Fort William in Bengal. The order 
bringing this change into force directed that in place 
of a Governor there should be a Resident or Commis- 
sioner for the affairs of the three Settlements and a 
Deputy Resident at each of them. As a result, the 
erroneous opinion was come to that the Charter was 
virtually repealed, for it constituted the Governor and 
three Resident Councillors as Judges of the Court, and 
there were no longer any such officials. The Court 
accordingly proclaimed itself out of existence. No 
tribunal was put in its place, though for a time Mr. 
Murchison held a Court in Singapore at the request of 
the merchants, for which he received an official reprimand, 
and was told to close the Court. The administration 
of justice thus entirely collapsed, and a regular crisis 

Public meetings were held in Singapore and Penang, 
and petitions were sent home to Parliament. But matters 
went from bad to worse ; prisoners committed for trial 
filled the gaols, there being no Court of Oyer and Ter- 
miner; a complete stagnation of business arose from 
want of confidence in securing the fulfilment of contracts 
or obtaining payment, since the only Court in" existence 
was the Court of Requests, which had jurisdiction only 







up to thirty-two dollars. This regrettable state of affairs 
lasted until the 30th March 1832, having commenced 
on the 30th June 1 830. In 1 83 1 the Court of Directors in 
London informed the Government in India that a wrong 
view of the matter had been taken, and that the Charter 
was still legally effective ; but to remove all doubts they 
ordered that the styles of Governor and Resident 
Councillor should be restored. This was done in course 
of time, and the Court reopened in 1832, in which year 
Singapore became the headquarters of Government, and 
has remained so ever since. Penang, however, remained 
the headquarters of the Court, since it was found that 
the legal work there was more intricate and important 
than at Singapore, and also because the Recorder's 
official residence was at Penang and he had none in 
Singapore, to which the Court only removed its head- 
quarters after the Third Charter of 1855. 

The new Recorder, Sir Benjamin Malkin, arrived at 
Penang in February 1833. He was a man of very exten- 
sive learning, and although he was in the Straits only 
until June 1835, he left his mark on our law by some 
very important decisions. Sir Benjamin had been a 
Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1835 was 
appointed Chief Justice of Calcutta, where he died in 
October 1837. He was very popular in the Straits, 
taking a leading part in public affairs at Penang, and 
being widely known for his generosity and interest in 
any useful or charitable object, for which his purse- 
strings were ever ready to open. He had been one of 
the active managers of the Marylebone Savings Bank in 
London, and he caused the establishment of a savings 
bank in Penang in 1833, for which he drew up the rules 
and called a public meeting to set it going. A proposal 
to establish a similar one in Singapore the same year 
fell through, and it was not until 1874 that one was 
founded in the Post Office. 

Sir Benjamin Malkin's judgments were scholarly, and 
showed how profound a lawyer he was ; the subjects 
with which they dealt were frequently very intricate, 


but many of them remain ruling cases to this day. 
Thus in 1835 he decided that a Mohammedan might 
ahenate his property by will, despite the Mohammedan 
law to the contrary, and in his judgment also decided 
that the law of England was introduced into Penang 
by the Charter of 1807, applying in this case a previous 
decision of his to the effect that the Charter of 1826 
abrogated the Dutch law in Malacca and introduced the 
English law. To him was due that most important 
Indian Act XX of 1837, by which it was provided that 
all immovable property situate within the jurisdiction 
of the Court, as far as regarded the transmission of the 
same on the death or intestacy of any person having a 
beneficial interest therein, or by the last will of such 
person, should descend as chattels real. 

During Sir Benjamin's tenure of office the first Law 
Agent was admitted in Singapore in 1833 — Mr. Napier, 
the merchant . The three Charters of Justice all provided 
that suitors might appear by agents permitted or 
licensed by the Court either generally or specially for the 
particular occasion, but they provided for no qualifica- 
tion to be possessed by such agents. They also provided 
that the licences should be held at the absolute discretion 
of the Court, and should be revocable at pleasure without 
any reason being assigned. The first order regulating 
the admission of Law Agents was passed by the Court 
at Penang in 1 809 ; it followed the words of the Charter, 
and provided for Law Agents general and special. In 
the next year the licensing of General Agents was 
abrogated in consequence of the necessity to recall the 
licence issued to Mr. Thomas Kekewich for libelling 
an officer of the Court and for contempt. A most 
extraordinary case concerning the will of Mr. Keke- 
wich is to be found reported, in which the Court held the 
will to be a " wicked, false, and malicious libel " on 
the Court in consequence of statements made in it, and 
the executors were committed for contempt in daring 
to ask for probate of the will I 

The Order of 18 10 remained in force until 181 7, when 


two professional gentlemen, having applied in Penang 
for admission, the Court ordered that General Agents 
would be appointed in future, and this practice continued 
until 1839, when Sir Wilham Norris discontinued it, and 
ordered the admission of Special Agents only. This 
was in consequence of an attempt to do away with Law 
Agents altogether. A young lawyer from India had 
applied for admission in Penang, and had been entirely 
refused, after which he commenced a newspaper cam- 
paign, arid, having the public behind him, finally forced 
his admission, though only specially. The practice of 
admitting only Special Agents continued until 1852, 
when Sir William Jeffcott discontinued it, bringing in a 
body of rules providing properly for the admission of 
Law Agents, and in particular requiring them to pass an 
examination. When the Supreme Court was established 
in 1868, the Ordinance effecting it provided that all the 
Law Agents of the old Court of Judicature should be 
" Advocates and Attorneys " of the new Court, and this 
name was continued until the Courts Ordinance of 1878, 
when the present style of " Advocates and Solicitors " 
was introduced. 

The Courts Ordinance of 1873 was the first to put the 
Bar on a proper footing and require a genuine qualifi- 
cation for admission, providing for either an admission 
in the United Kingdom as barrister or solicitor, or the 
local qualification after examination. It also provided 
for a yearly certificate to be taken out upon payment 
of a fee, and. the payment of an admission fee. A pre- 
vious attempt to require the payment of an admission 
fee had been made by an Order of the Governor-in- Coun- 
cil under the Courts Ordinance of 1868, but, upon the 
application of Mr. Isaac Swinburne Bond, Sir William 
Hackett held this to be ultra vires in 1869. From the 
beginning the lawyers have practised both branches of 
the profession by whatever name they were called, and 
the present style of Advocates and Solicitors describes 
accurately their functions. 

Mr. Napier's name is worthy of remembrance in Singa- 


pore, for he took a leading part in its affairs for many 
years, being one of the best-known characters in the 
place in his day, and a general favourite. His peculiar 
way of carrying his head and of brushing his hair, com- 
bined with a general swagger, earned him the nickname 
of " Royal Billy." He it was who invested Mr. James 
Brooke, then Governor of Labuan and afterwards 
Rajah of Sarawak, with the K.C.B. in 1848. The 
investiture took place in the Singapore Assembly Rooms, 
and judging from a description by Mr. W. H. Read, in 
1884, of the ceremony, Mr. Napier appears to have 
spread himself considerably. Mr. Napier was Lieutenant- 
Governor of Labuan, and the Queen's Warrant for the 
investiture was accordingly addressed to him. Mr. Read 
writes : " Fully impressed with the importance of the 
functions he had to perform (and perhaps a little bit 
more than was necessary), the Lieutenant-Governor 
endossed his uniform, begirt himself with his sword, 
and was marshalled into the room prepared for the cere- 
mony in ' due and ample form.' His head was higher 
than ever, his hair more wavy, and with the strut of a 
tragedy tyrant, he proceeded to mount the steps of the 
dais, and, to the horror of the assembled spectators, sat 
down on the Royal Throne I There was a general titter, 
and the Admiral, Sir Francis Collyer, who was present, 
made an exclamation more vigorous than polite in its 
language. The ceremony proceeded, and Sir James 
Brooke made a suitable reply, which, as a local paper 
observed, 'alone saved the whole from* becoming a 
burlesque,' so utterly did ' Royal Billy ' overact his 
part. Peace be to his ashes I A better fellow and a 
truer friend, or a sterner enemy, did not exist, and one 
soon forgot his little failings in the society of a man of so 
amiable a character, and so well up in most subjects." 

Admiral Keppel was a great friend of Mr. Napier, to 
whom there are many references in the Admiral's diary. 
It was at Mr. Napier's house, in 1843, that the Admiral 
first met Rajah Brooke, then Mr. Brooke, and, as he 
puts it in his diary, " was initiated into the mysteries. 


depths, and horrors of pirates in the ways of the Malay 
Peninsula." In 1848 the Admiral brought the Napier 
family back to Singapore from England in H.M.S. 
Meander, and a sad event occurred on the voyage, which 
the Admiral records in the following truly nautical 
fashion on the 17th February : 

" At daylight Napier's little boy, James Brooke, aged 
5 months, found dead in its bed — blow to the parents 
— supposed to have gone off in a fit. Poor Mrs. Napier 
— ^poor Napier ! Nurse in hysterics." 

The entry is worthy of Mr. Jingle ! Of all the notes 
about Mr. Napier in the Admiral's diary, this is the most 
likeable, though all show a true friendship : — 

" Sth October 1844. — Lots of rain — Napier spliced this 
morning — ^Tiffin at Balestier's to meet the happy pair. 
Good fellow Napier and a pair well-matched." 

The bride was the widow of Mr. Coleman, the architect, 
to whom Singapore owes so much. 

Mr. Napier's best claim to remembrance, perhaps, is 
that he was one of the founders of our admirable morning 
paper, the Singapore Free Press, in 1835, which he edited 
until 1 846, when he retired from practice as a lawyer and 
handed over his editorial pen to another lawyer, Mr. 
Abraham Logan. In 1848 Mr. Napier returned to the 
East as Lieutenant-Governor of Labuan, having on his 
staff as Secretary Mr. (afterwards Sir) Hugh Low, who 
married his daughter by his first wife. Miss Catherine 
Napier, in 1848. Admiral Keppel has the following 
shrewd entry in his diary of the voyage out in the 
Meander : 

" Sth May. — Miss Napier having this day attained her 
nineteenth year, champagne and a dance in the forecabin. 
Think there is something in the wind between her and 
Low ! " 

Napier Road is named after Mr. William Napier ; 
it led to his house, built in 1854, where Tyersall is now. 
Heretired from the East in 1857, when Boustead and Co. 
sold the house and its sixty-seven acres of ground. He 


was the first Chairman of the Straits Settlements Asso- 
ciation, founded on the 31st January 1868, the first Free- 
mason to be initiated in Singapore, in 1845 at Lodge 
Zetland, and one of the two Presidents of the first cele- 
bration of the Feast of St. Andrew in 1835. He took a 
keen interest in all that went on in the place, and was 
a generous subscriber to all charities ; to education in 
particular he gave much time and trouble, being a 
Trustee of the Singapore Institution from 1836 to 1857. 
The administration of justice in India and its depen- 
dencies, and the whole question of their good government, 
had been causing considerable anxiety in England, with 
the result that in 1833 there was passed a most impor- 
tant Act of Parliament by which a body, styled the 
Indian Law Commissioners, was appointed to enquire 
into the jurisdiction, powers, and rules of the Courts 
of Justice in India and its territories. The Report, 
dated 1842, contained over two hundred pages of mat- 
ter concerning the Straits alone, which led to endless 
correspondence, conflicting minutes, and bewildering 
suggestions, including one by Lord Auckland, the 
Governor-General of India, to the effect that the 
Recorder's Court should be abolished. None of the sug- 
gestions was carried into effect, and the net result of it 
all was a great waste of public time and money so far as 
the Straits were concerned, for matters were left in 
statu quo ante. The Act, however, went on to make 
important provisions, for it constituted a local Govern- 
ment for the whole of the territories of India, consisting 
of a Governor-General and Councillors to be styled 
" The Governor-General of India in Council." To this 
body was entrusted, among other functions, the power 
of legislation within its jurisdiction on all save certain 
excepted subjects. From 1834, accordingly, the Indian 
Acts began to apply to the Straits, but only such as did 
so expressly or could be held to do so impliedly. The 
old Regulations were superseded, and until 1 867, when a 
local Legislature was constituted, the Indian Acts formed 
the local written law of the Straits Settlements, in ad- 


dition to which there were, of course, such Acts of Parlia- 
ment and Orders of the Crown in Council as were applied 
to them. The Indian Acts applying to the Colony were 
revised by two Commissioners under an Ordinance 
of 1889, and a few of them, notably the Wills Act of 
1838, are still in force at this date. 

Great inconvenience had been experienced owing to 
the Court of Judicature possessing no jurisdiction in 
Admiralty ; at the very first Assize held in Singapore, 
Governor Fullerton, in his charge to the Grand Jury, said 
that " two persons accused of piracy must now be dis- 
charged for want of Admiralty jurisdiction, a defect 
already noticed, and which it was expected would in due 
course be amended." This was quite up to the best 
standard of official assurances, for the first time when the 
need of Admiralty jurisdiction in the Straits had been 
expressed was in 1803, by Mr. Dickens, the first profes- 
sional Magistrate in Penang, and an uncle of the great 
Charles Dickens ; and though Governor Fullerton 's 
" in due course " was uttered in 1828, it was not until 
1836 that the Court was at last clothed by Act of Parlia- 
ment with this most necessary jurisdiction. The waters 
of the Straits were infested with pirates, there had been 
many serious failures of justice, countless murders had 
been committed, innumerable ships captured and looted, 
and Grand Juries had made repeated presentments of 
the state of affairs, but it took officialdom fifty years to 
wake up, from 1786 to 1836. By 1835 the position had 
become intolerable, and petitions were signed by all 
the European mercantile community to the King and to 
the Governor-General of India on the subject of piracy ; 
the position at that time was so bad, indeed, that Euro- 
peans in sampans were actually attacked in the Singa- 
pore Roads while on their way to visit their ships. 
Piracy was perfectly organised in Singapore, and a large 
trade in arms was openly conducted in Kampong Glam ; 
in the Dindings there was a regular pirate stronghold, 
where the prahus went to refit, and where the pirates 
kept their stores, plunder, and captives. In 1836 H.M. 
I— 13 


Sloop Wolf arrived, commanded by Captain Edward 
Stanley, R.N., and when she attacked the Bindings 
stronghold no less than eighty men, women, and children 
were freed from captivity there. For long after the 
Court was given the power to try pirates their malevolent 
trade continued, for though they could be tried, the 
first difficulty was to catch them. It took years to 
stamp out piracy, and even as recently as Good Friday 
1909 there took place one of the worst cases that ever 
occurred in the vicinity of Singapore. A Chinese junk 
had left Singapore the night before bound for Saigon ; 
at about one o'clock in the morning, when she was at 
a point one mile from the coast of Johore, and some 
twenty miles from that of Singapore, two boats crept 
towards her from the shore, the first containing four men, 
the second ten. The pirates, who were Chinese and 
Malays, climbed noiselessly on board the junk, and then 
fell suddenly on the sleeping crew and passengers with 
axes, parangs, krises and knives. In a minute or two 
the junk became a shambles ; five men were hacked 
to death, two terribly wounded were thrown into the 
sea, and four left covered with wounds on the blood- 
stained deck ; but seven who were in the hold succeeded 
in hiding themselves, and were not hurt. Five Chinese 
were arrested and duly convicted of piracy ; as the crime 
had taken place out of the jurisdiction, no charge of 
murder could be brought against them under the Penal 
Code. These five men were duly sentenced to death, 
but the case became a leading one, for Mr. V. D. Knowles, 
counsel for the defence, took the point that the Courts 
of the Colony have no jurisdiction to inflict capital 
punishment for the off'ence of piracy. This point was 
reserved by the Chief Justice, Sir William Hyndman- 
Jones, and on being heard by a full Court, was decided 
in favour of the defence, and the five miscreants escaped 
a well-merited hanging, but were sentenced to penal 
servitude for life. 

In September 1836, a new Recorder, Sir William 
Norris, arrived : his immediate predecessor, Sir Edward 



Gambier, who had arrived in 1835, had been appointed 
a Puisne Judge at Madras in 1836. Sir WiUiam Norris 
had been called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1827, 
and been appointed Chief Justice of Ceylon in 1835, 
after having served there previously as a Puisne Judge. 
He held office in the Straits until June 1 847, an unusually 
long period, and retired on pension to England, where 
he died at Ashurst Lodge, Sunningdale, in September 
1859. During his tenure of office as Recorder he did a 
very great deal to mould and form our law, and his 
name may be linked with those of Sir Benjamin Malkin 
and Sir Benson Maxwell as its fathers. 

In November 1839 Sir William Norris opened the 
new Court House in Singapore, and it will be convenient 
here to give a short history of the present Supreme 
Court building. The site on which it stands was leased 
in 1827 to Mr. Maxwell, the merchant, who built upon it 
a handsome house to the designs of Mr. Coleman, the 
architect, which he leased to the Government at five 
hundred rupees a month. In 1841 the Government 
bought the site and the house for $i 5,600. The original 
building, which was situated where the Puisne Judge's 
wing of the Court is at present, was standing until the 
whole structure was altered in 190 1. A new wing was 
added in 1875, which explains the date on the Royal Arms 
over the Chief Justice's chair at present. In the early days 
the building formed the Government offices, the Court 
being held in a centre room upstairs and the side-rooms 
being used as offices for the Resident Councillor and 
other officials, while the Land Office was accommodated 
downstairs. In 1839, however, a one-storeyed building 
was added at the side of the original house, and the 
Court was held there, the main building being given over 
entirely for Government offices ; it was this new building 
which Sir William Norris officially opened. In 1854 
it was presented by the Grand Jury as totally unsuitable 
for a Court of Justice, owing to the noises which issued 
from an adjoining shipbuilding yard ; but nothing was 
done until 1 864, when the building was turned into a 


Post Office, and the foundation-stone of a new one was 
laid. This building was used as a Court House for a few 
years only ; then an exchange was made. The Court 
House was made into the present Council Chamber, and 
the Court went back to its old site, the building being 
extended in 1875 and reconstructed in 190 1, as has been 
said. The present Court House is admirably suited 
to its purpose, the two Courts being lofty and well 
ventilated, with ample accommodation for the Bar, the 
Jury, and the spectators, while the acoustics are excellent. 
The central tower, including the Bar robing-room, is the 
only part of the old Court now remaining. 

The records during Sir William Norris's tenure of 
office disclose most forcibly the relations which subsisted 
between the executive and the professional judge. 
Following in the wake of his predecessors, he frequently 
laid stress on the defective constitution of the Court, 
and recommended the complete separation of the 
judicial and executive functions. Soon after his arrival 
he had evidently realised the attitude of the executive, 
for there is a curious note of his in the Penang records. 
Governor FuUerton had written a minute in 1829 
recommending the abolition of the Recorder's Court 
and the substitution therefor of a Mayor's Court on the 
old Indian model, in which the Resident would preside 
as Mayor, with merchants sitting as aldermen. The 
Governor referred to the system of the Recorder's Court 
as " more expensive and worse adapted than any system 
which could be devised." In the paper containing this 
recommendation Sir William Norris in 1836 had under- 
lined the words quoted above, and added in the margin, 
" You say so because you could thus brook the inde- 
pendent spirit of the man who is entrusted with the 
administration of that system." 

One of the greatest causes of friction was as to the 
respective powers of the professional and lay judges, and 
of the right of the former to sit in appeal on the decisions 
of the latter. A typical instance may be given by way 
of illustration. In September 1846 Mr. Thomas 


Church, Resident Councillor of Singapore, and so a lay 
judge of the Court, passed a decree giving possession 
of the vessel Iron Queen to the owner's agents, and con- 
demning the captain in costs, which not being paid he 
was taken to gaol. Sir William Norris arrived on 
circuit in November, and the captain petitioned him, 
whereupon the Recorder granted a rule calling on the 
owners to show cause why the Resident Councillor's 
order should not be reviewed and set aside. Mr. Church 
was much incensed, and filed on the record a protest 
against " the novel and unprecedented proceedings of 
the Recorder." Sir William, however, had the matter 
argued and made the rule absolute, holding that he as 
professional judge had power under the Charter to set 
his lay brethren right when they erred. The extra- 
ordinary attitude of the executive officers to their 
judicial duties may also be illustrated by Mr. Salmond's 
action when he was appointed a Judge at Malacca in 
1847 ; he insisted on taking the oaths of office in his 
palanquin outside the Court, and overruled the protests 
of the Registrar, who objected to this undignified 

In addition to continuous friction with the lay judges. 
Sir William Norris was further hampered by having no 
professional lawyers at the Singapore Bar. Much 
depended on the Recorder, particularly in criminal 
cases. In those days, of course, the prisoner could not 
give evidence ; but his counsel was not allowed to speak 
on his behalf either, nor was he allowed to have a copy 
of any of the depositions of the witnesses called against 
him, having to rely on his own memory solely. The 
usual sitting Magistrate was a civil servant, the Justices 
of the Peace mercantile men, who attended occasionally 
when the presence of two Justices was required by law. 
That Sir William Norris should have been so successful 
in his office, therefore, redounded even more to his credit 
than a perusal of his admirable judgments would show. 

In 1840 he inaugurated the present method of swear- 
ing witnesses, for he held that Indian Act V of that year 


was law in the Settlements, and that native witnesses 
would therefore have to be affirmed . The Indian Act was 
limited to Hindus and Mohammedans, but Sir William 
Norris held that its provisions should be extended by 
analogy to Chinese under an Act of George IV, which 
gave courts a discretion to affirm Quakers and Moravians. 
In his judgment he said that the Indian Act " may well 
be hailed as a just and wise measure, no less due to the 
honour of Almighty God and the credit of a Christian 
Government than to the scruples of conscientious judges, 
magistrates, and witnesses," a somewhat sweeping 
assertion ; but Sir William was celebrated for occasional 
eccentricities of language in his judgments. His sentence 
in a Penang amok case is preserved in the third volume 
of Logan's Journal, and is typical of a judicial style long 
since passed away. The accused had lost his wife and 
only child, and as a consequence ran amok, having 
pointed out which facts the Judge proceeded : " Unable 
or unwilling to submit with patience to the affliction 
with which it had pleased God to visit you, you aban- 
doned yourself to discontent and despair, until shortly 
before the bloody transaction, when you went to the 
Mosque to pray ! — to pray to whom or what ? Not 
to senseless idols of wood or stone which Christians and 
Mohammedans equally abominate, but to the one omnis- 
cient, almighty, and all-merciful God, in whom alone 
Christians and Mohammedans profess to believe ! But 
in what spirit did you pray, if you prayed at all ? Did 
you pray for resignation or ability to ' humble yourself 
under the mighty hand of God ' ? Impossible. You 
may have gone to curse in your heart and gnash with 
your teeth, but certainly not to pray, whatever unmean- 
ing sentences of the Koran may have issued from your 
lips " ; and so forth and so on, with much about the 
Devil described as the " father of lies " and " a murderer 
from the beginning." The marvel is that the accused 
did not run amok again in Court ! 

But to return to the swearing of native witnesses. 
Prior to the Indian Act of 1840 natives had been sworn 


by the oath most binding on their consciences, such as 
swearing on the Koran at the Mosque for Mohammedans 
or cutting a cock's head for Chinese. The present law 
is to be found in the Oaths Ordinance of 1890, which 
repealed the Indian Act. 

Despite the differences between the Recorder and the 
Government, he acted as legal adviser to the latter, as 
did the other Recorders, a system against which many 
of them demurred, considering that it placed them in a 
most anomalous position in Court. Mr. W. Caunter 
had been " Law Agent to the Hon'ble Company " at a 
salary of six hundred rupees a month from 1828 until 
the suspension of the Court in 1830, and in 1834 Mr. 
Balhatchet held the same appointment for a month or 
two ; otherwise, the Company had never had its own 
advisers. The Recorders continued to advise Govern- 
ment until 1864, when Mr. Thomas Braddell was 
appointed Crown Counsel at Singapore and Mr. Daniel 
Logan Crown Prosecutor at Penang. 

Sir William Norris was succeeded by Sir Christopher 
Rawlinson, who had been Recorder of Portsmouth ; 
he held office until 1850, when he was promoted Chief 
Justice of Madras. M. Fontanier, who had been French 
Consul at Singapore, gives a description of the Recorder 
in his book published in 1852, Voyage dans I'Archipel 
Indien." He says that Sir Christopher was very tall 
and very thin, and if he had not had a prepossessing ap- 
pearance, would have much resembled Lord Brougham. 
He had been a Police Magistrate at London before 
becoming Recorder at Portsmouth, so M. Fontanier 
says. In the course of his duties in the latter office he 
attended a civic reception of Louis Philippe on his 
arrival in England. As the Recorder was attired in his 
robes and full-bottomed wig, and was a very tall man, he 
was unable to stand upright in the saloon of the ship. 
This tickled the King so much that he remarked, laugh- 
ing, " Que voulez-vous ? Quand on a fait ce vaisseau 
on ne pensait pas a votre perruque ! " M. Fontanier also 
gives us a description of the scene in Court when the 


Court of Judicature sat at Singapore. The Governor 
presided, with the Recorder on his right and the Resident 
on his left ; the Recorder sat in his robes, but the other 
two wore no uniform. The Recorder decided the points 
of law as they arose, and was the only person to speak, 
but " so well that one could not understand why he 
did not form the Court alone." If a Frenchman could 
see this, it seems strange that the executive officers 
could not have seen it also ; but they seem to have 
regarded jealously their right to sit in Court ; indeed. 
Governor Bonham actually tried in his day to abolish 
the office of Recorder altogether. 

In 1848 jurisdiction was conferred on the Court for 
the relief of insolvent debtors by an Act of Parliament 
of that year, the Recorder being the sole Commissioner 
or Judge of the Insolvent Court and Mr. W. W. Willans 
the first Official Assignee. The Act had been passed as 
the result of agitation by the merchants of Singapore, 
■ and of the first three insolvents to come before the Court 
one had been in gaol for five and a half years ; he was 
discharged. The Court thus established lasted until 
1870, when the Supreme Court was vested with juris- 
diction in Bankruptcy ; the present law is to be found 
in the Bankruptcy Ordinance of 1888. 

Sir Christopher Rawlinson's best work was probably 
his rigorous attack upon the defective system of prison 
discipline. He stated that although the High Sheriff 
was nominally charged with the control and superin- 
tendence of the gaol, yet, owing to his being annually 
appointed and other circumstances, he had very little 
to say in the matter, and was next to useless. The 
Recorder recommended the abolition of the office of 
High Sheriff and the appointment of an Inspector of 
Prisons, reforms which came about during the time 
of Sir Benson Maxwell, who took up the agitation com- 
menced by Sir Christopher Rawlinson and brought it 
to a successful conclusion. 

From the time of the First Charter the Governors 
annually appointed the High Sheriffs, who in turn 




appointed their Deputy Sherififs. The High Sheriff 
was paid by the fees received ; the Deputies were allowed 
a small monthly salary by the Government, but they did 
all the work, the High Sheriff being a mere figure-head. 
This system continued after the Second Charter, though 
by an Order of Court in 1827 the Deputy Sheriffs were 
also allowed to receive in excess of their salaries one- 
half of the fees granted to the High Sheriff. This 
arrangement continued until 1832, when, on being ap- 
pointed High Sheriff for that year, Mr. Salmond, a 
gentleman already referred to, kept all the fees for him- 
self, a brain-wave which appears to have appealed to 
nearly all his successors. Both Sir Christopher Rawlin- 
son and Sir Benson Maxwell considered the office of 
High Sheriff as a lucrative sinecure and nothing more. 
In 1859 the High Sheriffs were deprived of the fees, 
which were paid in future to the Treasury, and the High 
Sheriff and his officers received fixed salaries. From 
i860 the title of Sheriff was used, the " High " being 
dropped, and in 1868 a Sheriff was appointed for each 
Settlement ; this is the practice to this day, the office 
being combined with that of Registrar of the Court. 

From the earliest day of the Settlements until about 
i860 the Sheriffs always called any public meetings 
necessary on the requisition of members of the com- 
munity. This right to a public meeting was insisted 
on by the public for long ; thus in 1827 a High Sheriff in 
Penang refused to call one when required to do so, with 
the result that the Grand Jury presented the matter as 
follows : 

" The Grand Jury present that custom, if not law, has 
made it imperative upon the Sheriff to call at the request 
of the community any public meeting to which there can 
be no legal objection." 

The sanction of Government was necessary, but this 
would seem to have been a formality. These old 
Sheriff's meetings played a vitally important part in the 
history of Singapore, for the public seem to have been 


always ahead of the Government in those days, and 
hardly a thing worth the doing in the way of better 
government was done until one or more Sheriff's meetings 
had urged it. By this means, in conjunction with the 
Grand Jury system, the public for long had a very 
real voice in public affairs, of which in these days they 
are practically entirely deprived. 

Shortly after the Second Charter the High Sheriff was 
entrusted with the charge of the civil and criminal gaols 
of the Colony ; but the power was, of course, delegated to 
the Deputy Sheriff at each Settlement, who was allowed 
a European gaoler and a staff of peons. This system 
continued until the passing of the Prisons Ordinance 
of 1 872, when the Government took over the entire charge 
of the prisons, the Sheriffs being relieved of that duty 
and Inspectors of Prisons appointed for the different 

A new Recorder came in 1850, in succession to Sir 
Christopher Rawlinson, who was promoted to be Chief 
Justice of Madras. This was Sir William Jeffcott, born 
in Ireland in 1800, and of the Irish Bar, where he went 
the Munster Circuit. In 1 842 he emigrated to Australia, 
and, before doing so, was presented with handsome 
pieces of plate by the Circuit and the solicitors in 
testimony of his merits. A Dublin paper said of 
him prior to his departure : "As a lawyer he was 
among the most rising on the Munster Circuit. Nearly 
related to the late lamented Chief Baron Wolf, he 
possessed much of his ability, integrity, and sterling 
independence of character. Indeed, Mr. Jeffcott has 
established a reputation at the Bar of being a sound and 
a safe lawyer," which reputation he fully sustained as 
a Judge during his tenure of the Recordership in the 
Straits. While in Australia he officiated as a Judge of 
the Supreme Court at Port Philip, but not finding the 
country congenial, he returned to Ireland, where he 
resumed his practice at the Bar. As will be seen later, 
he became the first Recorder of Singapore, and it is said 
that he was much disturbed as to his future, which was 


supposed to have led to his death in Penang in October 
1855. In private hfe he was highly esteemed, being of 
a generous and benevolent disposition and very charit- 
able. He took a deep interest in education in the Straits, 
and embraced every opportunity of promoting its im- 
provement. As a judge he is said to have been rather 
irritable owing to a painful internal malady, but the Bar, 
which understood this, respected and liked him, and his 
death was deeply regretted by all who knew him. 

Sir William Jeffcott's best work was a thorough re- 
vision of all the practice of the Court, including the 
regulations for the admission of law agents ; this 
work was painstaking and thorough, and reading through 
the rules which he passed, one can realise how useful 
they must have been in the administration of justice. 

In 1 85 1 a very remarkable case was tried before 
Sir William Jeffcott and the lay judges. Mr. Buckley 
says that it caused a greater excitement in Singapore 
than any before or since ; but he was writing at the 
beginning of this century, and the case of Effendi, 
referred to later on, probably holds the record at this 
date, at least amongst the Asiatic communities. 

The accused was a man named Haji Saffar Ally, 
the Malay and Tamil interpreter in the Police Court, a 
man of great importance among his own class and beyond 
it. In September 1 850 a policeman on patrol duty came 
upon a little Arab slave-boy lying in the road shockingly 
maimed, burned with hot irons, and wounded. The 
poor little fellow, who was only twelve years old, told 
the policeman that he was in Saffar Ally's employment, 
and that he had been ill-treated by his master and 
others. He was sent to the hospital for treatment, and 
in time Saffar Ally, his eldest son, and four others were 
committed for trial ; but when the Assizes came on in 
October the boy was not to be found. It appeared that 
a man in police uniform had come up to the hospital with 
a letter authorising the boy's removal, and had gone 
off with him. The Recorder suspected foul play, and 
refused to hear the case in the boy's absence ; so he 


committed the prisoners to gaol in default of their 
finding bail, and stood the case over to the next Assizes. 
The result of this was that a most revolting and cruel 
murder was committed by Saffar Ally (who had 
succeeded in finding bail) and some others whom he 
persuaded to assist him. 

The boy had been got out of the hospital by means of 
a false uniform and a forged letter ; Mr. Dunman, the 
head of the police, found that he had been taken in a 
sampan to Rhio, but brought back again, after which all 
trace of him was lost. Later a native heard a Kling in an 
adjoining house talking in his sleep, and crying out that 
he had killed a boy. The listener gave information to 
the police, who discovered that the body was likely to 
be found somewhere up the Singapore River. For two 
days the police rowed slowly up and down the river, 
until at last they observed some bubbles in the water, 
which burst as they reached the surface, and from which 
a bad smell arose. A peon dived down, and eventually 
the body of the boy was found, with head nearly cut off, 
the feet tied together, a rope round the neck and another 
round the waist, joined into a sort of network and 
weighted down by a heavy stone. Lastly, they found a 
boat with blood-stained boards close toSaffar Ally's house 
on the river. It was proved that this boat had been 
borrowed from the owner by Saffar Ally after he had 
obtained bail, on the pretext of its being needed to 
convey firewood. One of those concerned in the crime 
was used as Queen's evidence, and gave a circumstantial 
account of the murder, which was committed on the 
night of the great Hindu festival. 

The excitement at the trial was very great, and al- 
though it rained heavily all day, an enormous crowd 
congregated outside the Court all the time of the trial, 
which commenced at nine in the morning and did not 
conclude until after nine at night. The accused were 
convicted, and hanged a week later. 

Crime is said to be hereditary, and in Saffar Ally's case 
this proved to be so, for thirty-four years later his son, 


Akbar Ally, was tried for forgery ; and the natives 
crowded the Court inside and out, as at his father's trial. 
The case was again a remarkable one, for the prisoner 
had been for years a clerk in a certain class of lawyer's 
office, where men such as he can do a lot of villainy if 
their employers are careless, since many natives appear to 
trust the lawyer's clerk as much as the lawyer himself, a 
trust which is remarkably seldom abused. Indeed, the 
account of the practice of law in Singapore would not be 
complete without a tribute to the honesty and capacity 
of the better lawyers' clerks, many of whom are men 
of importance in their own community, and most useful 
members of society. Akbar Ally was one of the black 
sheep, and had embarked on a whole series of frauds, 
for which he was convicted, dying in gaol. 

In 191 2 another little Malay boy was cruelly murdered, 
the body being thrown into the sea opposite Raffles's 
Reclamation, where it was observed by a police officer 
at low tide. A Malay named Effendi was arrested and 
tried for the murder before Sir William Hyndman- Jones, 
the Chief Justice, and a special jury. After a trial 
lasting six days the accused was acquitted, and the 
authorship of the murder remains a mystery. On the 
last day, when the verdict was given, the Chief Justice's 
Court was crowded almost to suffocation, natives filling 
every available space, standing in the corridors, and even 
down the stairs, and right out into the space between 
the Court and the Victoria Memorial Hall, so that far 
more than three-quarters of them could see and hear 
nothing, but had merely come to await the verdict. 
When the Jury returned to Court, after a short retire- 
ment, and acquitted the accused, there was a loud and 
prolonged outburst of applause, the reason for which was 
by no means gratification at the triumph of innocence. 
The case for the Crown was circumstantial, and was most 
powerfully, though absolutely fairly, presented by Mr. 
George Seth, Deputy Public Prosecutor at the time. 
Singapore at tbat time suffered from an epidemic of 
book-makers, which had in the end to be stamped out 


by the passing of an Ordinance making betting an 
offence. One of the fraternity was in Court and heard 
Mr. Seth's opening, with the result that he commenced 
betting long odds upon a conviction. These odds 
dropped day by day as the defence played their cards ; 
but he had made a very bad book, and though he hedged 
towards the end of the trial, it appeared that the loud 
applause was due to successful bets I These facts, 
which came out after the trial, had a good deal to do 
with the eventual driving of the book-makers out of the 
place, as the Chief Justice on hearing of them was 
naturally much incensed. 

In 1854 very great dissatisfaction was expressed in 
Singapore owing to the infrequent visits of the pro- 
fessional Judge and the bad decisions of the lay ones, 
with the ultimate result that in 1855 the Crown granted 
a third Charter of Justice, by the combined effect 
of which and an order of the local Government in May 
1856 the Court was composed of two divisions : the one 
had jurisdiction over Singapore and Malacca, and con- 
sisted of the Governor, the Resident Councillors of 
Singapore and Malacca, and the Recorder of Singapore ; 
while the other had jurisdiction over Penang and Pro- 
vince Wellesley, and consisted of the Governor, the 
Resident Councillor of Penang, and the Recorder of 
Penang. There were thus to be two professional judges, 
one resident at Singapore and the other at Penang. 
Beyond these alterations the new Charter was a repeti- 
tion of the second one, and the Courts have held that it 
introduced no new body of English law. It is still in 
force in the Colony, and in the celebrated Six Widows 
Case its terms were strongly invoked, as has been related 

By the new Charter Sir William Jeffcott was appointed 
Recorder of Singapore, at a salary of eighteen thousand 
rupees a year, the same as he had previously been 
receiving ; but it was provided that every future Recorder 
of Singapore was to receive twenty-five thousand. 
No Recorder was appointed by name for Penang, but it 


was provided that the salary of the post should be 
twenty thousand rupees a year. 

The new Charter was duly proclaimed in Singapore 
on the 22nd March 1856, and as Sir Wilham Jeffcott 
had died, Sir Richard Bolton McCausland, of the Irish 
Bar, was appointed Recorder of Singapore, while Sir 
Peter Benson Maxwell, of the English Bar, became 
Recorder of Penang. 

Sir Richard McCausland sat on the Bench in the 
Straitsfor ten years, retiring on pension in 1 866, and living 
for many years afterwards in Ireland. He was called 
to the Bar in Ireland, and prior to his appointment to 
the Straits had been secretary to his uncle, Lord Plunkett. 
He was a very kind-hearted, genial Irishman, a sound 
and experienced lawyer, and a thoroughly courteous 
gentleman on the Bench. In private life he was im- 
mensely popular, and in particular his services were in 
great request as an after-dinner speaker, for he possessed 
the true Irishman's wit and capacity for the right word 
in its right place and at the right time. On St. Patrick's 
Day, the 1 7th March 1 866, a farewell dinner was given in 
the Town Hall to him, the like of which, it was said, 
had not been seen in the place before. Tables were 
laid round three sides of the room, and were all occupied, 
Mr. W. H. Read being in the chair. 

Sir Peter Benson Maxwell became Recorder of Singa- 
pore on Sir Richard McCausland's retirement, and Sir 
William Hackett, previously Chief Justice of the Gold 
Coast Colony, was appointed Recorder of Penang. 
Sir William Hackett had taken his degree at Trinity 
College, Dublin, in 1846, after which he was called to 
the Irish Bar and went the Munster Circuit. In Novem- 
ber 1 85 1 he was called to the English Bar at Lincoln's 
Inn, and joined the Northern Circuit, but practised 
principally at the Chancery Bar until August 1 861 , when 
he was appointed Queen's Advocate of the Gold Coast, 
of which Colony he became a Chief Justice, and at one 
time, in 1864, Lieutenant-Governor. He was knighted 
on his appointment to the Recordership of Penang. 


On April ist 1867 the Transfer took place, and the 
Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony ; by the 
Government notification of the same date it was 
announced that Her Majesty had been pleased to approve 
of the Recorder of Singapore being styled the Chief 
Justice of the Straits Settlements, and the Recorder of 
Penang being styled the Judge of Penang. Thus ended 
the era of the Recorders, and as the Transfer always 
must be the great dividing-point in any local history, it 
will be convenient now to look back a little before 
continuing to deal with the legal affairs of Singapore 
when it formed part of a Crown Colony. 

The position which the Court of the Recorder held in 
the eyes of the public is best shown by what Mr. Cameron 
wrote of it in his book Our Tropical Possessions in 
Malayan India, published in London, 1865 : 

" To the non-official community the Supreme Courts 
have served the purpose of a representative institution, 
and have always been a wholesome check upon the 
mal-administration of the Government. In earlier 
times, when the Company's servants, responsible only 
to an indifferent council at Calcutta, paid little regard 
to the interest and little respect for the opinion of the 
mercantile residents, the Supreme Court remained as 
a place of appeal, where the Grand Jurors might from 
time to time raise their voice in such a manner that it 
could not be well disregarded. The judges have always 
been men of standing ability, barristers of the Court at 
home, whose acquirements were such as to obtain for 
them from their Sovereign the distinction of knighthood, 
in addition to the honour of an appointment of no small 
value. They were completely secured from the Indian 
Authorities, and by supporting the presentations of 
their Grand Juries, have done good service to the 
Settlement, independent of the value of their ordinary 

The success of the Court was due to the Recorders 
themselves, who were all able and distinguished men, 
and most of whom were promoted to high positions on 
the Indian Bench. They were well paid, and, as a result, 


able lawyers were attracted to accept the position. The 
salary of the Recorder under the First Charter was 
fixed by it at £3,000 per annum ; but when the other 
two stations were added under the Charter of 1826, the 
salary was raised to Rs. 18,000, or nearly £4>ooo per 
annum, at the rate then current. Under the Third 
Charter the Recorder of Singapore received Rs. 25,000, 
or £2,500 per annum, the Recorder of Penang Rs. 20,000, 
or £2,000 per annum. These salaries were naturally 
attractive, and when we come to deal with the present 
conditions of salary and pension of the Judges of the 
Supreme Court, more will have to be said on the subject. 
The office of Registrar of the Court is a most important 
one, and Singapore has been singularly fortunate in 
having had able Registrars, both before and after the 
Transfer. As will have been seen, Singapore received 
a separate Court establishment only after the Third 
Charter of 1855 ; before that there had been one 
Registrar for the Court, residing at Penang, and having 
under him two " Senior Sworn Clerks," one at Singapore 
and one at Malacca. Mr. Alexander John Kerr was 
the Registrar of the Court from 181 8 to 1855, in which 
year he was offered the Senior Registrarship under the 
Third Charter, but refused it, and retired with thirty- 
eight years of splendid service to his credit. Although not 
a professional, he was held in great repute as a lawyer, 
and the records abound with papers and legal opinions 
of his, drawn up at the request of the Executive, by 
whom he was frequently consulted. 

Mr. Kerr having refused further office, Mr. H. C. 
Caldwell, Senior Sworn Clerk at Singapore, was appointed 
Registrar for that Settlement, and Mr. A. Rodyk, Senior 
Sworn Clerk there, at Penang. They declined the 
salaries offered them, but asked to be allowed to keep 
the fees, as had been the previous practice. Government 
sanctioned this, and the Registrars continued to be paid 
by fees until April 1861, after which date all fees were 
paid into the Treasury and the Registrars were paid 
salaries. This meant a great loss of income ; how great 
I— 14 

194 Law and crime 

may be seen from the fact that Mr. Kerr had latterly 
been in receipt of an income of over seventeen thousand 
rupees yearly. It is small wonder, then, that it is recorded 
how one of the Registrars used to go about for some years 
after 1861 complaining to all and sundry that he had 
been robbed " of his fees " ! The salaries paid were very 
low, and continued to be until the eighties, when the 
Judges took up the matter ; but even at this date the 
Registrar of the Supreme Court receives far too low a 
salary in the opinion of many competent to judge. 

Mr. Caldwell came to financial grief, and left the 
country in 1856, paying off all his creditors later on, 
and Mr. Alexander Muirhead Aitken was appointed in 
his place ; he had been admitted as a law agent in Singa- 
pore in 1852, and later, in 1 864, was called to the English 
Bar. He retained the post a very short time, and in 1857 
Mr. Christian Baumgarten was appointed, and held the 
post until 1874, when he resigned it and resumed private 
practice. He had been admitted a law agent in Singa- 
pore in 1846. Mr. Baumgarten, a tall, fine-looking old 
gentleman with grey hair, was a great character, and 
greatly beloved by the young men who formed the 
petit juries of those days ; " old Bummy " they irrever- 
ently called him, and loved to have a little joke with him. 
He was a very bad reader, for he had the misfortune to 
have lost several front teeth. The result was that he 
often made a sad mess of the documents which had to 
be read out in Court ; but being a kind-hearted, good- 
natured old gentleman, was quite ready to join in the 
titter that used to run round the Court when he broke 
down at some particularly difficult word. There are 
some kind folks whom the world laughs with but never 
at, and of these was Christian Baumgarten. He died 
in 1887, loved and respected by all who knew him. Like 
Mr. Catchick Moses and Mr. M. J. Carapiet, he always 
wore a tall, black, beaver hat, and it is a curious fact that 
most of Singapore's characters in the old days did the 
same ; it was a headgear which only very few wore, but 
which those who did appear to have lived up to. The 


I. 194] 


Baumgartens, like the Velges and the Rodyks, were an 
old Dutch family that continued to reside in Malacca 
after the place had been ceded to the English ; and they 
were a very legal family, for Alexander Baumgarten was 
admitted a law agent in 1 862, Alexander Augustus Baum- 
garten in 1 863, and Horatio Augustus Baumgarten in 1864. 

As has been said, no professional qualification was 
necessary to become a law agent in the old days. The 
first lawyer to be admitted in Singapore who possessed 
a proper qualification, and who attained to any position 
at the Bar, was John Simons Atchison, admitted in 1859. 
Up to that date the most able Singapore lawyers had 
been Mr. W. Napier, already spoken of, Mr. Abraham 
Logan, Mr. Robert Carr Woods, senior, and Mr. Alexan- 
der Muirhead Aitken, mentioned above as having been 
Registrar for a short period. 

To two lawyers Singapore owes its excellent journals, 
the Singapore Free Press and the Straits Times, the 
former having been founded in 1835 by Mr. W. Napier, 
the latter in 1 845, with Mr. R. C. Woods at its control. 

When Mr. Napier retired from practice in 1846, he 
was succeeded as editor of the Singapore Free Press by 
another lawyer, Mr. Abraham Logan, who later, in 1848, 
purchased the paper from Mr. W. R. George. Mr. Logan 
had been admitted in Penang in 1842, with his famous 
brother, James Richardson Logan, the founder of 
Logan's Journal ; the only qualification which the 
brothers possessed was that they had read law at 
Edinburgh University. After practising a few months 
in Penang, Mr. Abraham Logan advertised, in September 
1842, in the Singapore papers that he had commenced 
practice as a Law Agent and Notary Public. Bar 
etiquette had not then been introduced, and was not, 
indeed, until the beginning of the 'Seventies. The follow- 
ing advertisement by Mr. R. C. Woods in the Singapore 
Directory, which he founded, is amusing to note : 

" Debts recovered. Rents collected. Bills and Loans 
of money negotiated, and every branch of Legal Agency 


One wonders that nothing was added about " cheap- . 
ness and despatch," though those commodities are not 
generally associated by the public with old Father Antic 
the Law. 

Mr. Abraham Logan became one of the leading lawyers 
of Singapore, and was one of its foremost men for many 
years. He was born at Hatton Hall in Berwickshire, the 
31st August 1 816, his younger brother, James Richard- 
son, being born at the same place on the loth April 1819. 
The two brothers arrived in Penang in February 1839, 
and having been admitted law agents there, left for 
Singapore, where they started practice together in 1842, 
and continued together until 1853, when James Richard- 
son Logan went to Penang, with which place his name 
is more particularly connected, and where he died in 
1869. A monument is erected to his memory in front 
of the Penang Supreme Court ; the inscription states 
that his death in the prime of life was regarded as a 
public calamity. He deserves, undoubtedly, a full bio- 
graphy ; but its place must be in the history of Penang, 
when that comes to be written, and this very short notice 
of him must suffice here, as his name was connected but 
slightly with Singapore. 

Not so Mr. Abraham Logan, who, although he died in 
Penang in 1873, spent the best years of his life in Singa- 
pore working for the public good, and acquiring merit, 
as the Buddhists say, to no small extent. His residence 
was at Mount Pleasant in Thomson Road, and his office 
in Battery Road, at the rear of Messrs. John Little and 
Co. 's premises at that time. After his brother's departure 
in 1 8 s 3 , he practised alone until 1862, when he was j oined 
by Mr. Thomas Braddell. The firm of Logan and 
Braddell continued until 1867, when Mr. Braddell 
became Attorney-General and Mr. Logan gave up 
practice. Its present representative to-day is Braddell 
Brothers, the partners in the firm since Mr. Logan's 
retirement having been Mr. J. P. Joaquim, uncle of 
Mr. G. R. K. Mugliston, lately Secretary to the Straits 
Settlements Association, Sir Thomas de Multon Braddell, 


Mr. R. W. Braddell, Sir John Bromhead Matthews, 
Mr. T. J. M. Greenfield, Mr. John George Campbell, 
Mr. V. D. Knowles, and the present writer. The 
Attorneys-General were allowed private practice until Mr. 
Bonser's promotion to the Chief Justiceship ; and that 
accounts for the fact that although Mr. Thomas Braddell 
became the first Attorney-General of the Colony, he was 
able to continue practice. Sir John Bromhead Mat- 
thews, who had retired from the firm in the 'Nineties 
and joined Mr. Presgrave at Penang, was also appointed 
Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements in 1909, 
but being appointed Chief Justice of the Bahamas 
shortly after, did not assume the post, which later went, 
in 191 1, to Sir Thomas Braddell, who held it until he 
became Chief Judicial Commissioner of the Federated 
Malay States in 191 3. Mr. Charles Garrard, Registrar 
of the Supreme Court at Malacca, compiler of Garrard's 
Ordinances, was an assistant in the firm for several 

Some idea of the leading part played in public aff'airs 
by Mr. Abraham Logan may be formed from the follow- 
ing committees to which he was elected at public 
meetings of the community, and which form almost an 
epitome of the history of Singapore for twenty-five 
years : 1846, to form a Presbyterian Congregation in 
Singapore and procure a minister therefor ; 1852, to 
draw up a memorial to the Court of Directors to obtain 
the appointment of a resident local judge in Singapore, 
which memorial resulted in the granting of the Third 
Charter; 1854, to petition Parliament upon currency 
matters; 1856, to petition Parliament against certain 
objectionable Acts passed by the Bengal Legislative 
Council, and again in that year to draw up a memorial 
against tonnage dues; in 1858, to petition Parliament 
against convicts being sent to Singapore ; 1 860 , to petition 
Parliament against the proposed imposition of an income- 
tax ; and in 1 862 to draw up a memorial to the English 
Ministry and the Viceroy in India against the military 
contribution. He played a leading part in the agitation 


which brought about the Transfer, being a member of 
committees appointed in 1857 and 1862 to petition 
Parliament on the subject, and in 1864 being one of the 
committee that drew up a most important report on the 
finances, resources, and commerce of the Straits for the 
Commissioners appointed to report upon the proposed 
Transfer. Mr. Logan left Singapore in 1869, and went 
to Penang, where he died on the 20th December 1873. 
He was Secretary of the Singapore Chamber of Com- 
merce from its foundation in 1850 to 1868. 

Mr. Robert Carr Woods, senior, was born on the 31st 
July 1 816, and in 1840 he went to Bombay. Whilst in 
India his time was spent chiefly in writing for the Press, 
and he paid much attention while there to the native 
character, in order to study which he travelled in India 
for some time in disguise, being more than once mis- 
taken for a political spy as a consequence. In 1845 he 
arrived in Singapore to be the first editor of the Straits 
Times, which he acquired later. In 1849 he was ad- 
mitted a law agent in Singapore, and his knowledge of 
the native character, his talent and uprightness won for 
him an extensive practice. He was called to the Bar at 
Gray's Inn in 1 863, as were many of the law agents during 
the 'Sixties, since the Benchers of that Inn, at their re- 
quest, made an arrangement, allowing them to be called 
in a very short time, provided that they engaged only 
to practise in the Straits . The only obj ect of the arrange- 
ment was to raise the local status of the lawyers — a very 
desirable one, too, for if the Bar is to be really efficient, 
it must possess the respect of the public, and the status 
of a barrister-at-law was in those days high in the social 
scale, higher indeed than it is now. Mr. Woods lived 
at first in Zetland House, and from there the Straits 
Times was first edited ; later he bought and created the 
beautiful property, well out of town on the Serangoon 
Road, called Woodsville. Botany was his favourite 
hobby, and the laying out of the grounds at Woodsville 
was a labour of love ; in selecting his trees he gave 
preference to those, such as the champaka, which would 


aflford food for birds by their fruit, with the result that 
not only were the grounds of Woodsville the best laid 
out in Singapore, but in them was to be seen a greater 
variety of birds than anywhere else. Mr. Woods was 
an enthusiastic Municipal Commissioner, and it was 
fortunate that during one of his terms of office, in 1865, 
the task was entrusted to him of laying out the new 
cemetery which the Municipality had just acquired, 
and which is now known as the Bukit Timah Cemetery. 

The one blot on Mr. Woods's career was his unfortunate 
persecution of Rajah Brooke in 1854 ; the Rajah was, 
of course, acquitted of all blame, and he generously and 
pubHcly forgave Mr. Woods in 1861. Mr. Woods acted 
as Attorney-General in 1870, and in 1875 was appointed 
to act as Senior Puisne Judge ; but his health had begun to 
fail : he sat on the Bench only for a few times, and died 
on the i6th March 1875, being buried in the cemetery 
which he had rendered one of the most picturesque spots 
in Singapore. His funeral was attended by His Ex- 
cellency the Governor, all the leading officials and 
unofficials, and it may be doubted if any man has left a 
greater blank in Singapore by his death than Mr. Woods 
did, for he was the mainstay of nearly every hospital, 
school, charitable and other public institution in the 
place, giving to them his money and his time without 
stint. He was one of the very few Europeans who 
adopted Singapore as their permanent home. From 1 861 
to 1872 Mr. Woods was in partnership with Mr. James 
Guthrie Davidson, in the legal firm of Woods & Davidson. 

Mr. Davidson was one of the ablest men who have 
ever practised at the Singapore Bar. He was admitted 
an Agent and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Scotland 
in February 1861, and being a nephew of Mr. James 
Guthrie, the well-known merchant, came to Singapore 
to seek his fortune, and was admitted as a law agent 
in July 1 861, joining Mr. Woods in partnership. His 
ability and his thorough knowledge of his profession, 
acquired in one of the leading offices in Edinburgh, were 
soon recognised, and his name came to be one of the 


best known at the Bar. Mr. Woods understood the 
native character well, as has been said, and had a large 
native practice ; it was only natural, therefore, that Mr. 
Davidson, too, should acquire a large native clientele. 
So well did he come to understand them, and so well 
did they like and trust him, that the natives of 
the Peninsula came to look upon him as a friend on 
whom they could depend entirely, and there was no 
doubt that his influence, like that of Mr. W. H. Read 
and Mr. Braddell, was very extensive. In 1872 he was 
appointed Resident of Selangor, and later of Perak, but 
he resigned the Government Service in 1876, after doing 
very admirable work in the Native States ; indeed, it 
was fortunate that there was such a man free to assist 
the Government in its difficult task. Perhaps there is 
no one whom the Asiatic will trust closer than his 
lawyer, no one in whom he will place more confidence ; 
and this may to a great extent explain the very big 
influence which the lawyers of Singapore have exerted 
in the past in the history of the place. It is also a fact 
that they were generally " agin the Government " in the 
early days, as indeed were most people. 

Mr. Woods having died, Mr. Davidson went home to 
England, and returned, in December 1876, with Mr. 
Bernard Rodyk, and these two gentlemen commenced 
practice in 1877 as Rodyk and Davidson, a firm which is 
still in existence in Singapore, and was led until last year 
by the Hon. Mr. F. M. Elliot, O.B.E., a nephew of the 
late Mr. C. B. Buckley and a grand-nephew of Captain 
EHiot, of the Madras Engineers, who did such splendid 
work at the Singapore Observatory in the 'Forties. Mr. 
Elliot is a grandson of that Sir Henry Myers Elliot who 
was Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, and 
who came to Singapore with Lord Dalhousie when 
the Governor-General visited the place in 1850. Mr. 
C. B. Buckley was a partner in Rodyk and Davidson 
for a long time, and other partners have been Messrs. 
E. J. and William Nanson, Mr. C. V. Miles, and Mr. H. B. 



Mr. Davidson died in February 1891, at the age of 
fifty-three, as the result of a carriage accident, while on 
his way to the Cathedral from his house, Ardmore. He 
was one of the foremost men in Singapore, and truly one 
of those whose character and conduct should be a shining 
example to those who come after him, as the Attorney- 
General said in open Court when Bench and Bar assem- 
bled to do honour to his memory. He took a leading 
part in the affairs of the place, although he always 
refused a seat on the Council, as did Mr. C. B. Buckley. 

The most amusing episode in Mr. Davidson's career, 
and one which caused the greatest excitement at the 
time, is that related in the reported case of Davidson v. 
Ord ; it occurred in June 1867. Mr. Davidson was 
retained to appeal against a decision of the Commis- 
sioner of the Court of Requests, Captain Ord, and he 
duly gave notice setting out the grounds of appeal. 
Later he received a chit from Mr. Norris, the Clerk of 
the Court, asking him to call at the Commissioner's 
office on the following Monday. He did so ; the 
Commissioner, however, was not in his office, but 
sitting in Court, where Mr. Davidson found him. 
Captain Ord objected to Mr. Davidson having sent the 
notice of appeal, saying it was an improper one and 
improperly served. Mr. Davidson replied that he knew 
his own business best, and required no instructions from 
Captain Ord, who then said : "I treat your notice with 
contempt, Sir," throwing it on the table. Mr. Davidson 
replied : " If that is all that you have to say to me, you 
might have saved yourself the trouble of sending for me, 
and me the trouble of coming to you." Captain Ord 
retorted that he had a great deal more to say to Mr. 
Davidson, but the latter said he did not wish to hear it, 
and walked away. As he reached the door, Captain 
Ord called out in a loud tone : " You are fined $25 for 
contempt of court," and Mr. Davidson somewhat 
natura lly replied : " I wish you may get it." The fine not 
being paid, Mr. Davidson was lodged in the Civil Gaol. 
All sorts of dodges were tried to get him out, the Governor 


himself, Sir Harry Ord, even going up and asking him 
to come out I In the end the fine was remitted, and out 
Mr. Davidson came. He took action against Captain 
Ord, and duly recovered a small sum of damages. Sir 
Benson Maxwell holding that the gallant Captain had 
no power to commit for contempt. Mr. R. C. Woods 
appeared for Mr. Davidson, and the Attorney-General, 
Mr. Braddell, for Captain Ord. The whole affair was 
delightfully Gilbertian, and should be a lesson of how 
not to do it. 

Mr. Davidson's great opponent at the Bar in the 
'Sixties was John Simons Atchison, a brilliant lawyer and 
an eccentric character. Like Mr. Davidson, he was a 
relative of a Singapore merchant, Mr. H. M. Simons, 
and in consequence had his office in Messrs. Paterson, 
Simons and Co.'s godown, as do Messrs. Drew and Napier 
at this date. Mr. Atchison was admitted an attorney 
at Westminster in 1855, and came to Singapore in 1859, 
where, being a man of exceptional ability, he soon 
acquired an extensive practice. He was a rather tall, 
small-boned, but very fat man, weighing some eighteen 
stone, with a round, jolly-looking, clean-shaven face. A 
man of such an appearance might be expected to be a 
great character, and Mr. Atchison certainly was. One 
of his eccentricities was to drink enormous quantities 
of soda-water ; another was his dress — patent-leather 
shoes, with cotton drill trousers, a fancy cotton waist- 
coat, and dark blue frock-coat, with, of course, a black 
silk hat. He took no exercise, always driving about 
wherever he wanted to go in a very small victoria drawn 
by a sturdy piebald pony. He was always agitating 
against the Government, holding a sort of general re- 
tainer for the public, and devoting many hours of valuable 
time to its service, very often with but scant recognition 
or thanks. His particular bugbear was the Executive 
Council. One Sunday evening Mrs. Atchison came back 
from the Cathedral to their residence, Blanche House 
(at the back of the late Teutonia Club), and remarked 
that prayers had been requested for those members of 


the congregation then at sea, but that she could not 
think who it could be. " My dear," said Atchison, 
" I can tell you who they are. It must be the Executive 
Council, because they are always at sea." If a friend 
declined to join him in any of his many agitations he 
would say : " Never mind, old fellow, when I write my 
history of Singapore merchants you shall have a chapter 
all to yourself " ; but like most of the best books, it has 
never been written. His clerk, F. T. Cork, was an even 
better-known character than he was, being perhaps the 
best-known lawyer in Singapore, although a subordinate. 
Guide, friend, and philosopher, Cork used to live with 
Mr. Atchison when the latter's wife was at home, and 
used to tender good advice without fear or favour to his 
principal on things legal and general ; the abuse that 
Mr. Atchison would shower on him in return was a con- 
stant source of amusement. Mr. Atchison had a fiery 
temper, and the rows that he and Mr. Davidson used to 
have in Court were continuous ; but as soon as they got 
into the robing-room, they were the best of friends — a 
case like that of Montagu Williams and Douglas Straight. 
Mr. Atchison only bothered about the cases with big 
fees, and it was Cork who used to have to look after" the 
bread and butter of the office," as he called it. Mr. 
Atchison's attendance at the office was irregular ; he 
might be in Court, he might be in a long chair on the back 
verandah of his house reading, or he might be at the Club 
agitating against the Government ; but Cork was always 
at the office, and so came to be very well known and 
trusted, the relationship between the two being that of 
counsel and attorney. It was Cork who introduced the 
system transferring land by means of printed forms, 
which he did in order to meet the wish of the natives 
for some cheap form of conveyance. One Chief Justice 
stated in the Legislative Council that although the system 
might be called cheap and nasty, still any of these forms 
that had come before him gave good titles and were effec- 
tive. Mr. Atchison died in 1875 at Bangkok, where 
he had gone on a retainer in a big case. 


Mr. Alexander Muirhead Aitken was admitted as a 
special law agent in Singapore in 1852, and was called 
to the English Bar at the Middle Temple in 1864. He 
took a leading part in public affairs for many years, and 
his name is to be found on many of the committees 
appointed at public meetings to carry on local agitations. 
As has been said, he acted as Registrar of the Court for a 
short while in 1 856 ; and in 1 870 he acted for a month or 
two as Attorney-General. Otherwise he practised pri- 
vately, in 1 861 with Mr. Abraham Logan, leaving him the 
next year, and from 1871 to 1873 with Mr. Bernard 
Rodyk. In 1873 Mr. Alexander Leathes Donaldson 
joined Mr. Aitken, and the next year they were joined 
by Mr. John Burkinshaw, the firm being called in the 
Directory Aitken, Donaldson and Burkinshaw, though 
in the Bar records Aitken and Co. Mr. Aitken retired in 
1879, and the firm became Donaldson and Burkinshaw, 
as it is to-day. Of the various leading members of the 
firm more will be said later. 

Resuming now the thread of events after the Transfer, 
it must first be remarked that for some years Judges 
were on the two Councils. At first a place was given to 
the Judge of Penang on the Executive Council and to the 
Chief Justice on the Legislative Council. The last 
Chief Justice to sit on the latter body was Sir Thomas 
Sidgreaves, but the title " Honourable " is still retained 
by courtesy for the Chief Justice, the other judges being 
addressed as their Honours. In 1871 the Judge of 
Penang was given a seat on the Legislative as well as the 
Executive Council ; this lasted until 1 878, when he ceased 
to have a seat on either body. 

Mr. Thomas Braddell was appointed Attorney-General, 
and stationed at Singapore, while Mr. Daniel Logan was 
appointed Solicitor-General and stationed at Penang ; 
the arrangement as to stations has been followed ever 
since. The Attorney-General has always been a member 
of both the Legislative and the Executive Councils ; 
the Solicitor-General has never been a member of either. 

The duties which fell upon Mr. Braddell were very 


arduous, and only a man of his great physique and in- 
domitable purpose could have coped with them. Those 
who knew him always tell how the light on his verandah 
burned into the small hours of the morning, night after 
night, even after those dinner parties for which he was at 
one time celebrated. The task of giving the Colony its 
own body of Statute Law was immense ; legislation from 
India had never been very successful, and had been a 
source of complaint by the public on many occasions. 
Mr. Braddell was much criticised at one time for his many 
amending Bills ; but a great many of these were caused by 
the Colonial Office in England, and when he retired, early 
in 1883, he left behind him a very valuable body of laws. 
One of his first tasks was to remodel the Court and 
its procedure. By an Ordinance of 1 867 the Governor 
ceased to be a Judge of the Court, and by another of 1 868 
Ik the Resident Councillors ; this latter Ordinance abolished 

~ the old High Court of Judicature, and substituted for it 

the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements, a title 
which has been retained ever since ; but the Charter of 
1855 was preserved, save so far as its provisions were 
inconsistent with the new Ordinance, and all Courts 
Ordinances since have preserved it also. 

In 1870 the old Insolvent Court was abolished, and a 
Bankruptcy Court substituted by an Ordinance which 
followed on the lines of the English Bankruptcy Act 
of the previous year. Imprisonment for debt was 
abolished, and all the debtors released from the Civil 
Prison. Sir Benson Maxwell, the Chief Justice, gave 
great assistance in this Ordinance, with reference to 
which the Governor, Sir Harry Ord, remarked that the 
Legislative Council " must justly feel proud that the 
Colony has taken the lead of others and followed so 
closely the steps of the Mother Country in the intro- 
duction of such valuable measures of legal reform." 

The next great task was the reform of the Criminal 
Law, which had proceeded on the lines of the English 
Common Law, and of which the procedure was cumber- 
some. The Indian Penal Code had been made law in 


India in i860, but the Act did not apply to the Straits ; 
however, a few weeks before the Transfer the Governor 
had passed an Order bringing it into operation as from the 
I St July 1867. This Order was repealed by an Ordinance 
of 1867, as the Bar opposed the introduction of the Code. 
It was brought in finally by an Ordinance of 1 87 1 , and the 
criminal procedure was brought into line with it, and 
gradually with the Indian Criminal Procedure Code. 
In 1874 the Grand Jury was abolished, which caused 
three unofficials to resign ; it had done splendid public 
work prior to the Transfer, but its duties were found 
irksome, and to take up too much of the time of the senior 
merchants. Moreover, as there were unofficials on the 
Legislative Council, it was felt that the functions of 
the Grand Jury with regard to public grievances could 
quite well be performed by the unofficials. The intro- 
duction of the Penal Code and the simplification of 
procedure were undoubted benefits to the community. 

In July 1 871 Sir Benson Maxwell retired, and the 
Colony lost an invaluable public servant, at whose 
judicial career it is now necessary to look. No lawyer 
coming to the Straits can hope to practise his profession 
with justice to himself or benefit to his clients unless 
he familiarises himself with Sir Benson's reported 
decisions. Two years after his arrival in Penang he 
pronounced, in the case of Regina v. Willans, a judgment 
of which any English judge might have been proud, 
however great. It is one of the roots of the law of the 
Colony, and a study and knowledge of it are essential 
to anyone concerned in the administration of justice 
here. A Mr. Duncan Pasley, the manager of the Valdor 
Sugar Estate in Province Wellesley, preferred a com- 
plaint against an agricultural labourer for having 
absented himself from his work on the estate, but the 
Magistrate, Mr. Willans, declined jurisdiction, as he 
held that, having previously convicted the same labourer 
for a previous absenting, the jurisdiction given to him 
by the Act 4, Geo. IV, c. 34, was exhausted, and that he 
could not punish the labourer for a fresh absenting upon 


the same contract. As a result a rule was obtained 
calling upon Mr. Willans to show cause why he should 
not hear and adjudicate upon the complaint. Sir Benson 
made this rule absolute, holding that the Magistrate was 
wrong in his view of the law, and it is interesting to note 
that though he did not know of it at the time, the Court 
of Queen's Bench in England had decided the same thing 
the same way some months before. In his judgment 
Sir Benson went into the whole question of how far 
English law applied to the Colony, and that is why the 
judgment is so important. As Mr. Buckley, himself a 
lawyer, observes in his Anecdotal History of Singapore, 
Sir Benson " had so much reliance on his knowledge of 
the law and his readiness to alter his view of it, if it were 
shown to be in doubt, that nothing that arose was left 
undecided, and the temptation of a weaker mind to 
avoid any doubtful or troublesome question, by deciding 
a case upon some point which had never been raised, as 
Sir Benson's successor did, never occurred to him." 
This fearlessness of character gave to the Colony the 
judgment in Willans's case, and many other judgments 
without which the law here would have been much the 
poorer. Sir Benson settled for ever the vexed question 
of the lex loci, as has already been mentioned at the 
beginning of this paper ; he also decided that the Statute 
against Superstitious Uses and the Statute of Mortmain 
did not apply to the Colony, but that the rule against 
perpetuities did, and the Privy Council upheld him. 
He consolidated and settled the general question of the 
modification of English law to suit the native inhabitants, 
and the rule that he laid down with regard to Chinese 
marriages has been followed ever since. In 1867 he 
decided in a case in Singapore that the Chinese were 
polygamous, and that the secondary wives of Chinese 
are entitled to share in the widow's third under the 
Statute of Distributions equally with the first or principal 
wives. In 1907 this judgment was violently attacked 
in the famous Six Widows Case, but Sir Benson's decision 
was upheld in the Court of First Instance by Sir Archibald 


Law, Acting Chief Justice, and in the Appeal Court by 
Sir William Hyndman-Jones, Chief Justice, and Sir 
Thomas Braddell, then a Puisne Judge. Mr. Justice 
Sercombe Smith, however, dissented, and came to the 
alarming conclusion that no union of a non-Christian 
Chinese domiciled in the Colony could be legal unless he 
were married according to the English Common Law, a 
decision which would bastardise a tremendously high 
proportion of the Chinese in the Colony. 

The facts in the Six Widows Case were that a Mr. Choo 
Eng Choon, who was a bank compradore and nick- 
named " Tongkat Mas," or " gold walking-stick," had 
died intestate in Singapore, leaving a very large fortune 
behind him. No less that six Chinese ladies came forward 
claiming to be his widows, as a result of which the matter 
was referred to the Registrar, Mr. C. E. Velge, to find 
who were the lawful widows and issue of deceased, and 
that gentleman found that there had been one " principal 
wife," who had pre-deceased Mr. Choo Eng Choon; 
that after her death he married one of the claimants as 
" principal wife," and had taken three of the others 
as " inferior or secondary wives" ; while the remaining 
two were pronounced to be wives in no possible sense of 
the word. The proceedings before the Registrar were 
very long, and much interesting evidence was recorded 
as to Chinese marriage customs. The Registrar's 
certificate was attacked on the ground that the Chinese 
are not a polygamous race, and that if they are the Courts 
of this Colony will not recognise polygamous unions. 
The attack failed, as has been stated, but the case was 
not carried to the Privy Council. The case began in 
October 1905, and concluded in June 1909 ; no less than 
eleven counsel were engaged in it, including all the leaders 
of the Singapore Bar, as the questions raised were of 
vital importance to the Chinese generally. The position 
with regard to Chinese marriages is very unsatisfactory, 
for their law is not really followed ; but in the main it 
is better that a great number of the Chinese should not 
be bastardised, and, until legislation is introduced on the 


subject or unless the Privy Council unsettles the current 
of local decision in the matter, the Six Widows Case 
remains the last word on the subject. 

Sir Benson Maxwell published in 1 866,fromtheGovern- 
ment Printing Office, a book called The Duties of Straits 
Magistrates, which was prescribed for the examination 
of all civil servants. The fifth chapter on the Con- 
struction of Statutes, consisting of thirty-nine pages, led 
in after years to that well-known leading textbook. 
Maxwell on Statutes, first published in 1 875 in London and 
now in its fourth edition. Sir Benson was also part author 
of the reports known as Maxwell, Pollock, and Loundes, 
of which there is no copy in the Colony. The writer has 
not been able to verify the title of these reports. 

While Sir Benson was Recorder in Penang, he did 
away with a very long-standing custom, which had 
prevailed from the proclamation of the First Charter in 
1808. It had been the practice at the opening of the 
Court each day for the High Sheriff or his Deputy, along 
with his staff, to receive the Recorder at the entrance to 
the Court, and to conduct him to the Bench, remaining 
standing until the Court had been proclaimed. The 
Sheriff carried a white wand, the Bailiffs black ones, a 
Jemadar carried a long silver-plated stick, and two 
Soubadars carried each a silver-plated dragon-head 
staff. This practice was in accordance with the East 
India Company's practice in India, where all officials 
at that time carried on with great state. Sir Benson 
stopped it on the ground of economy, but the silver 
sticks still precede the Chief Justice into Court. Some 
of the peons in the Court at Singapore still wear the 
brass badge, on the scarves across their chests, of the old 
Court of Judicature. The only other relics in the Court 
at Singapore are the two interpreters' stools, one in 
each Court, the peculiar shape of which has often been 
remarked upon. They had their origin in the following 
curious way. Mr. Braddell, the first Attorney-General, 
was a very big and powerful man, who found that his 
weight tired him a good deal as he stood up in Court ; 
I— IS 


so he had two stools made, one for each Court, of such 
a height that as he stood up he could partly sit on them. 
When he left the Colony these stools were cut down, and 
are the present interpreters' stools. In Raffles Museum 
will be found the first seal of the Singapore Court of 

Sir Benson Maxwell retired in July 1871, and 
in 1882 was appointed to organise the Courts in 
Egypt after the British occupation, a post of great 
importance at the time. He died at Grasse, in the south 
of France, in 1893, but his name will always live in the 
law of this Colony. His career is dealt with further in 
another article in this work. 

When Sir Benson Maxwell retired he was succeeded 
by Sir Thomas Sidgreaves, who held the position until 
he retired in February 1886. He was born in 1831, 
and was educated at Stonyhurst and London University ; 
in 1857 he was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn, and 
went the Northern Circuit. He was knighted in 1873. 
Sir Thomas did not enrich the law to any great 
extent, but he was greatly respected and liked by the 
Bar. A sound, if not a great lawyer, his strong common 
sense and knowledge of the world enabled him to over- 
come the difficulties of his position ; he was, perhaps, 
most in his element as a criminal judge, his summings- 
up in particular being models of judicial oratory. 

The best of his reported decisions is undoubtedly 
his judgment in 1 874 in the Admiralty action concerning 
the Chow Phya, the names of the promovants in which 
are in themselves almost a history of the 'Seventies ; they 
were Harry Minchin Simons, W. W. Ker, W. Paterson, 
W. Cloughton, Joseph Burleigh, Jos^ d 'Almeida, and 
Hoh Ah Kay, or, as he is better known, Whampoa. A 
rather curious coincidence about this case is that the 
master of the Chow Phya was one George Orton, 
brother of the Tichborne claimant, Arthur Orton, 
whose trial for perjury was then proceeding in London 
and causing wild excitement. 

Like Sir Richard McCausland, Sir Thomas Sidgreaves 


was a well-known speaker at social functions, being 
greatly sought after in particular as a proposer of the 
healths of newly married couples, and many were the 
brides who started on the sea of matrimony with a 
cheery God-speed from Sir Thomas. Socially he was 
very popular, his hospitality being well known, and 
amply supporting the high dignity of his office. To 
the profound surprise and regret of his many friends in 
the Straits, news was received that he had died by his 
own hand two days before Christmas 1893 '> 1^0 reason 
could be assigned save a temporary derangement. 

In March 1873 a young man presented himself to the 
Supreme Court at Penang praying to be examined for ad- 
mission to the Bar, and if successful to be admitted ; but 
his prayer was opposed because he was not yet twenty- 
one. The Judge, Sir William Hackett, reluctantly 
held against the young man, but allowed him to be 
examined, which he was in due course, and, having 
passed with flying colours and attained full age, he was 
admitted to the local Bar on the ist May 1873. The 
young man was Robert Garling Van Someren, until lately 
the doyen of the local Bar, of whom a fond farewell was 
taken by his brethren and by the Bench at Penang and 
at Singapore towards the end of 191 8. For forty-five 
years Mr. Van Someren practised in the Courts of this 
Colony, and upheld their highest traditions. No man 
who has ever practised in our Courts has ever earned or 
deserved a higher affection, a higher esteem, or a greater 
place in its annals. Gifted with a marvellous memory, 
he scorned notes beyond a few odd jottings on his brief, 
and to the very last it was a marvel to everyone how a 
man could store in his brain the knowledge which Mr. 
Van Someren did. Over and over again the writer has 
heard questions put to Mr. Van Someren in the Court of 
Appeal, quite off the particular points which he was 
arguing, but which he would answer out of the stores of 
his memory by referring to some case bearing on the 
question, and frequently by giving the names of the 
parties and the volume and the page of the report, 


without referring to note or book ; and the writer 
hardly ever found his references to be wrong. Just 
before he retired he argued an intricate point in the 
Court of Appeal, dealing with immovable property, in 
a way that would have brought the highest credit on a 
leader of the Bar at the zenith of his powers and his 
physical strength. 

Mr. Van Someren was born at Penang on the 15 th 
March 1852. His father, Peter Robert Van Someren 
(who had been born in India, educated in England, and 
thereafter had returned to India), was persuaded to go 
to Malacca by a relative, Mr. Samuel Garling, who was 
Resident Councillor in Malacca. In about 1832 or 1833 
Mr. Van Someren's father was placed in charge of the 
Land Office at Malacca, and later in Penang,where in 1 837 
he married Cornelia, youngest child of Mr. John Rodyk, 
who, like Mr. Van Someren's grandfather, was a Dutch- 
man, and who had been Governor of Ternate, which was 
blockaded by British men-of-war during the war between 
England and Holland. Ternate capitulated to the 
blockade, and John Rodyk, amongst others, was made a 
prisoner, and transferred to Bencoolen by the English. 
After the exchange of Malacca for Bencoolen in 1824 the 
British Government removed, and John Rodyk volun- 
tarily went to Malacca, and from that time resolved to 
throw in his lot with the British, as did many other 

Mr. R. G. Van Someren was the second child of the 
marriage ; his elder brother, Mr. Samuel Van Someren, 
died in 191 2. His father retired from Government ser- 
vice and went to India in 1857, but returned to Penang 
the next year. Through the influence of Mr. Alexander 
Rodyk, the Registrar of the Court, and of Sir Peter 
Benson Maxwell, he was appointed Coroner, which in 
those days was a salaried office of importance, and which 
he held until his death in 1 861 . On his death his young 
children were taken charge of by their uncle, Mr. Alex- 
ander Rodyk, mentioned above, and in 1 864 were sent 
to England for their education. In December 1868. 


I. ai2] 


Mr. R. G. Van Someren returned to Penang, and was 
articled to his cousin, Mr. Charles Rodyk, a younger 
brother of that Mr. Bernard Rodyk who has been men- 
tioned as one of the founders of Messrs. Rodyk and 
Davidson. Immediately on his admission to the Bar 
Mr. Van Someren was taken into partnership by Mr. 
Charles Rodyk. Later he practised in partnership in 
Penang with Mr. Gregory Anthony and Mr. T. Gaw- 
thorne. In 1900 he came to Singapore, and commenced 
partnership with Mr. Edaljee Khory, a Parsee barrister 
and a very popular Freemason, after whom a Lodge of 
Mark Masons in Singapore is named. This partnership 
continued until Mr. Khory 's retirement in 1908, after 
which Mr. Van Someren practised alone until he retired, 
but chiefly as Counsel. 

Mr. Van Someren's name will be preserved for many 
years by his splendid book on the Courts and their 
procedure, which is now in its second edition : no one 
but he could have written it, and the present which he 
made to the profession of his vast stores of knowledge 
was a fitting gift from one who was always ready to 
lend his assistance to any of his professional brethren 
who asked it. He was, in particular, always exceedingly 
kind and helpful to the junior Bar, and the writer had 
on many occasions to thank Mr. Van Someren for assist- 
ance or advice. 

In 1876 Mr. Van Someren married Alice, daughter 
of Mr. Abraham Logan, who has already been mentioned. 
All of his sons have served in the Great War : Robert 
Abraham is a doctor in Government service in connection 
with sleeping sickness in Uganda, and on the outbreak 
of war he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, in which 
he is now a Captain, with the British East African 
Forces ; Alexander Grant Vermont, who is a Major in 
the Royal Army Medical Corps (Regular Forces), served 
during the War in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and in the North- 
West Provinces, and is now on the staff at Lahore ; 
Walter Noel was a Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, 
and was wounded in September 1918 in France, but is 


now convalescent ; Victor Gurney is a doctor and 
L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S., L.D.S. of Edinburgh University- 
he was in British East Africa when war broke out, and 
became a Captain in the forces there ; Claude Donald 
was a Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps, and was 
killed in the great German attack on the 21st March 
191 8, after fighting from 3 a.m. till 7 p.m., when he fell, 
the only person left untouched in his detachment being 
one small " runner," who made a desperate effort to 
carry back his Lieutenant's body ; but he was too young 
and too small, for Lieutenant Van Someren was a big, 
strong man ; finally Vernon, who was a student at Gray's 
Inn, but joined up on the outbreak of war, fought through 
Ypres, Loos, Bethune, Hulluch Quarries, the Somme 
battles, and the great battles which ended the War, 
gained the Military Cross, the Distinguished Service 
Order, and the Croix de Guerre, and became the youngest 
Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army (he was twenty-three 
on the 26th November 191 8). The record of his sons 
during the War is therefore something of which Mr. Van 
Someren is justly very proud. 

The Rodyks were a very legal family. Of the sons of 
the old Mr. John Rodyk, Mr. Van Someren's maternal 
grandfather, Alexander was Registrar at Penang, 
William Registrar at Malacca, and James Sheriff of 
Penang ; while of the grandsons, Bernard and Charles, 
already spoken of, were lawyers at Singapore and Penang 

It is necessary now to return to the history of the 
Supreme Court, which was re-constituted in 1873, when 
provision was made for four Judges, two at Singapore 
and two at Penang. This Ordinance first created the 
local Appeal Court, and therefore more Judges were 
necessary. In consequence of this, Mr. Snowden, then 
Senior Magistrate at Singapore, and Mr. Justice Philippo, 
a Puisne Judge at British Guiana, were appointed Judges 
of this Colony. The former, however, held the post 
only a short time, being appointed a Puisne Judge at 
Hongkong, and in his place Mr. Theodore Thomas Ford 


was appointed. Mr. Ford, or Sir Theodore Ford as he 
is to-day, was born in 1829, the son of Mr. George 
Samuel Ford, an English solicitor. He was called to the 
Bar at the Middle Temple in 1 866, and for three years 
worked on the staff of the Weekly Reporter in the 
Chancery Courts. In 1868 he joined the Western 
Circuit, and was appointed to the Straits Bench in 1874, 
becoming Chief Justice in 1886, being knighted in 1888, 
and retiring in 1889. Sir Theodore is living at Upper 
Norwood, and those who remember him on the Bench 
out here speak of him with respect and affection. He 
was always most punctual in taking his seat on the Bench. 
He also suffered from a slight hesitancy of speech, which 
made him speak very slowly and impressively. During 
the trial of an Assize case he came on to the Bench one 
afternoon at two o'clock sharp, with the result that one 
of the jurors, a well-known watchmaker, was absent. 
Some minutes elapsed before the Juror walked in, and 
without any hurry or apology took his seat in the Jury- 

Sir Theodore said to him : " You — are — late, Mr. 
Motion — ten — minutes — late — I think." 

The Juror looked at his watch, and said : " No, my 
Lord, five minutes only." 

" Very — well — Mr. Motion — as you — are — a — watch- 
maker — you ought — to — know — the correct — time — but 
— as I — am — the Judge — I — know — the correct — fine — 
that— is— fifty— dollars 1 " 

The Ordinance of 1873, which re-constituted the Court, 
also gave the Bar its first real code of regulations, as has 
been pointed out previously. Quick to recognise the 
advantage of receiving a proper status, the Bar organised 
itself in 1875, with the avowed object of raising the 
standard of etiquette among its ranks. General meet- 
ings came to be held regularly, under the chairmanship 
of the Attorney-General, to deal with matters affecting 
the profession. The first of such meetings occurred on 
the 30th July 1875, when Mr. A. L. Donaldson was elected 
Honorary Secretary, and the advantage of having a 


pcnnaneiit executive committee brroming apparent, 
veiy quiddy the fiist Bar QHmnittee was dected a few 
months later ; it consisted of Messrs. Bond, Donaldson, 
and Edwin Koek. From that time onward a Bar Com- 
mittee has been elected annually. In 1907 the G>urts 
Ordinance made this body a statuttHy one, and gave it, 
what by consent it had had befme, the charge of the 
etiquette of the i»trfession, wiuch, as introduced in 1 875, 
b that of the Ri^ish Bar, with the necessary modifica- 

The most imp<Htant year in the annak of the Court 
was 1878, when the SujHeine Court was finally recon- 
stituted, and three most imptHtant Ordinances were 
introduced dealing with the Courts generally, the i»t>- 
cedure to be followed, and the body of law to be 
administered. In 1875 Ei^lish law had undergone a 
mighty upheaval by means of the Judicature Act, and 
the rules made under it ; Equity was fused with Common 
Law, iHxxedure was siiq>Iified, and many anachronisms 
and injustices were swqit into the lumber-room of the 
lanr. Mr. Braddell had been working away since 1867 
<m the improvemoit of local law and procedure, and he 
at mice seized <m the Judicatnre Act as the very model 
necessary, in which the Bar fully suppcnted hun. By 
this means we were saved the pos^le calamity of having 
to suffer under the Indian Gvil Procedure Code, as do 
the Federated Malay States to-day. By the Courts, 
the Cvil Procedure, and the Civil Law Ordinances of 
1878 sweepii^ refcxms were introduced into the Straits, 
and the law put oa a proper basis ; by the last of these 
Ordinances Mr. BraddtH introduced the English law 
rdatii^ to partnership, corporations, banks and bankii^, 
principal and agoits, carriers by land and sea, marine 
insurance, average, life and fire insurance, and "mercan- 
tile law generally," by wiudi last expression we have 
received such important English Acts of Parliament as 
the Sale of Goods, Bills of Exchai^e, and Infants' Relief. 
To a mercantile community this goierous introduction 
of Ei^Ush law has proved a very great blessing, and it 


was all done in the simplest language and in a single 
section. Indeed, the outstanding feature in all Mr. 
Braddell's work was the simplicity of the language used 
and the wide generalities by which the Courts were left 
to exercise a wise discretion. There was none of that 
pronounced distrust of the Courts which modem 
legislation shows, that extraordinary desire to pro\nde 
for everything and to close every chink and cranny 
against judicial interpretation. The block of legislation 
thus introduced in 1 878 stood until 1907, when Sir Walter 
Napier repealed and re-enacted it all with amendments, 
modifications, and additions, bringing it all up-to-date 
in the most masterly fashion. 

In 1876 Mr. Braddell had provided for procedure by 
and against the Crown in an Ordinance which is still in 
force, ver\- little amended. It was a novel and original 
piece of work, which other Colonies have adopted, and 
for which the English law officers of the CrowTi gave him 
great credit. The greatest novelty in it was that the 
Crown was allowed to be sued in tort. 

For his work on the Ordinances of 1878 Mr. Braddell 
received high commendation from the Governor, Sir 
\V. C. Robinson, and from the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, who obserN'ed at the end of his despatch 
intimating the allowance of them : " I cannot conclude 
this despatch without expressing my sense of the care 
and ability with which the Attorney-General has pre- 
pared these Ordinances." 

In 1 876 the number of Judges was reduced to three. 
Mr. Justice Phillips was appointed temporarily, but only 
held the post for a few months. 

In 1877 Mr. Justice Thomas Lett Wood was 
appointed. He was educated at Westminster School and 
Trinitj- College, Cambridge, where he took his MA. 
degree in 1846. From that year till 1851 he practised 
as a special pleader, and was then called to the Bar at the 
Inner Temple ; from 1 864 to 1 866 he acted as Attorney- 
General of Vancouver ; from 1 866 to 1 870 he was a 
member of the Legislative Council of British Columbia, 


and was appointed Chief Justice of Bermuda in 1871, 
which post he held until his appointment to the Straits. 
In 1886 he became Senior Puisne Judge, and in 1892 he 
retired. There is a portrait of him in the Supreme Court 
at Penang. He was a very venerable-looking man with a 
long white beard, but was most active in mind and body. 
He astonished the natives by the strenuous tennis, 
walking, and riding in which he indulged, for they could 
not understand how such an old man, as they thought 
he must be, could be so strong. Mr. Justice Wood was 
fond of sitting late to finish Assize cases, and on one 
occasion adjourned his Court from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to 
enable a jury to make up its mind whilst he went home 
to dinner ! He was a very sound Judge, but his great 
independence of speech and his views in general deprived 
him of that promotion to which most people considered 
him entitled. 

In 1883 Mr. Braddell retired, and Mr. John Winfield 
Bonser was appointed Attorney-General. Sir John 
Bonser, as he became, was born in 1 847, the son of the 
Rev. John Bonser, of Hastings. He was a man of 
brilliant parts, being a Scholar and later a Fellow of 
Christ's College, Cambridge, winning the Tancred 
Studentship in Common Law at Lincoln's Inn in 1869, 
and being Senior Classic at Cambridge in 1870. In 
1 872 he was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1 883 
was appointed Attorney-General of the Straits Settle- 
ments, which post he held until 1893, when he was 
appointed Chief Justice. As Attorney-General his work 
was scholarly and sound, and he will be remembered as 
the Attorney-General who put through that most 
important and difficult group of bills to reform the 
Land Laws, in particular the Conveyancing and Law 
of Property Ordinance and the Registration of Deeds 
Ordinance ; he also brought the Bankruptcy law up- 
to-date in 1888. In his practice at the Bar (for he 
was allowed to practise privately, though he was the 
last Attorney-General to whom this privilege was 
allowed) he was best known as what is called a case- 


lawyer, and his reputation stood very high. Unfor- 
tunately he made himself very unpopular over the 
military contribution, being the only member of the 
Legislative Council to support the proposals of the Secre- 
tary of State, with the result that his appointment 
as Chief Justice met with harsh criticism in the 
Singapore Free Press, though the Straits Times warmly 
supported it. However, he held the post a very short 
time, being appointed Chief Justice of Ceylon in 1893, 
which appointment he held until 1901, when he was 
appointed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy 
Council. Sir John's first wife (whom he married in 
1 883) was the sister of the brothers Nanson, of Messrs. 
Rodyk and Davidson. He died in 1914, after a brilliant 
and useful career. 

As has been said. Sir Theodore Ford retired in 1889. 
He was succeeded as Chief Justice by Sir Edward 
Loughlin O'Malley, who was born in 1842, and was the 
son of Peter Frederick O'Malley, Q.C. He graduated 
at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1 864, and was called to 
the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1 866, after which he 
went the Norfolk and South-Eastern Circuits. Sir 
Edward was a keen politician, but was unsuccessful in 
his efforts to get returned to Parliament. He contested 
Bedford in the Conservative interest in 1868 without 
avail, but when Mr. Gladstone first introduced Home 
Rule, and caused thereby the great split in English 
politics. Sir Edward, being a Home Ruler, changed over 
to the Liberal Party. In January 1906 he contested the 
Kensington South Division in the Liberal interest, and 
the very important election at Lewisham in December 
1 9 10, on both occasions as a Liberal and unsuccessfully. 
From 1876 to 1879 he was Attorney-General of Jamaica, 
and from 1879 to 1889 of Hongkong. He held the Chief 
Justiceship of the Straits Settlements from 1889 to 1892, 
and made himself exceedingly popular socially and with 
the profession. He gave a close and painstaking at- 
tention invariably to even the most trivial cases, and 
bestowed a careful study and consideration on his judg- 


merits, appeals against which were almost impossible, 
as he always used very sharp-pointed pencils for writing 
his notes, which were very short and ornamented with 
numerous sketches ; indeed, more sketches than notes 1 
Perhaps he will be best remembered for his work on the 
draft Criminal Procedure Code of 1892, which became 
law, with certain amendments, in 1900, and, though re- 
amended and re-enacted since, is the Code in force at 
this date. It was based on the Indian Code, and its 
introduction has undoubtedly been very beneficial to the 
administration of justice. He did not remain long out 
of harness after his retirement, as he was appointed Chief 
Justice of British Guiana in 1895, which post he held 
until 1898, when he was appointed Chief Judge of 
H.B.M.'s Ottoman Empire, from which he retired in 
1 903 . In 1 909 he was a member of the Royal Commission 
on the Mauritius. It is very interesting at this date to 
recall that during the Franco-Prussian War Sir Edward 
joined the Red Cross Society, and assisted in nursing 
the sick and wounded. At a later period he became a 
Charity Commissioner, and did much work in alleviating 
distress in the East End of London. Sir Edward is an 
Esquire of St. John of Jerusalem and a Justice of the 
Peace for the County of Oxford, where he is now living 
at Cuddesdon, a kindly, sympathetic man, and remem- 
bered with affection by all still out here who knew him. 
He was succeeded by Sir Elliot Bovill, who was born 
in 1848, a son of Mr. William John Bovill, Q.C. He 
held office only for five months, dying of cholera, which 
he contracted in Malacca, where an epidemic was raging, 
and where he had gone to hold the Assizes. In the 
few months Sir Elliot was here he made himself recog- 
nised as the ablest Judge since Sir Benson Maxwell, 
and his sudden death was deeply deplored by the 
Bar and by the public, with whom he was a firm 
favourite. He was President of the Singapore Golf Club, 
and being an old Leander oarsman, had taken great 
interest in rowing locally. He was succeeded by Sir 
John Bonser, as has been said already. 

4 s 

o S 


In 1885 the number of the Judges of the Supreme 
Court was again raised to four, and in 1886 Mr. Justice 
Sheriff, who had been Chief Justice of British Honduras, 
was appointed third Puisne Judge, and Mr. Justice 
Pellereau, Procureur and Advocate-General of the 
Mauritius, fourth Puisne Judge. The latter retired in 
1890, and died in 1892 ; he was personally very popular 
with all classes, and was a strong lawyer and an impartial 
judge. His impartiality was particularly noticeable 
in those appeals against his own judgments, on which, 
under the old Rules, he had to sit. Not infrequently 
during an appeal he would point out to the Appellant's 
Counsel points in his own decision which were perhaps 
the weakest. The reports contain several very useful 
decisions of his, but nothing very important. 

Mr. Justice Pellereau was a great classical scholar, 
and rather fond of Greek and Latin quotations in his 
speeches and notes, which led to misunderstandings 
sometimes. In a certain case before him the Tamil 
interpreter having described a prawn-catcher as an 
" apprehender of prawns," the Judge wrote the words 
down, and added the Latin word sic. On appeal the 
copyist, thinking that perhaps a mistake in spelling had 
been made by the Judge, wrote down " apprehender of 
sick prawns," which caused much amusement in Court, 
and outside as well. The late Mr. A. Y. Gahagan, who 
was an inimitable raconteur and mimic, used to introduce 
a garbled version of this incident in his little sketch 
A Scene in the Singapore Police Court, which will doubtless 
be remembered by many old residents. Mr. Pellereau 
was a very handsome and dignified figure on the Bench, 
and most courteous and kind in his manner. He 
put down gang robbery in Province Wellesley by the 
heavy sentences which he passed. 

Mr. Justice Sheriff remained here a very short time, 
exchanging in 1887 with Mr. Justice Goldney, of British 
Guiana, an arrangement which the Secretary of State 
permitted. Sir John Tankerville Goldney was born in 
1846, the third son of Sir Gabriel Goldney, Bart., of 


Bradenstoke Abbey, Wiltshire, thus coming of a family 
that had been settled in Wiltshire for several centuries. 
He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, 
Cambridge, where he graduated in 1867. He was called 
to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1869, was Attorney- 
General of the Leeward Islands, 1880, Acting Chief 
Justice there from 1881 to 1883, when he was appointed a 
Puisne Judge at British Guiana. He remained in the 
Straits until 1892, when he was appointed Chief Justice 
of Trinidad, retiring in 1900. He is a Justice of the 
Peace for Wiltshire, and was High Sheriff of that County 
in 1910, and resides now at Mark's Park, Corsham. Sir 
John Goldney did some exceptionally useful work here ; 
he and Mr. Bonser were appointed Commissioners in 
1889 to determine what Indian Acts still remained in 
force, and to revise and publish the same. He was one of 
the Committee who prepared the draft Criminal Pro- 
cedure Code in 1892, and he did most useful work on a 
Commission to consider the Police Force, which will be 
referred to in another paper dealing with that force. 
Such decisions of his as have been reported show him to 
have been a sound lawyer, and possessed of hard common 
sense. He will perhaps be best remembered as the 
Judge who tried to introduce the wig into these Courts, 
whereby a veritable storm was raised, for such members 
of the Bar as were English barristers went into Court 
in their wigs, much to the annoyance of Mr. A. L. 
Donaldson, who being a solicitor and a very senior 
member of the Bar, had to submit to a practical illus- 
tration of the fact that he belonged to what is termed the 
junior branch of the profession. The result was wild 
excitement in the profession, much writing in the papers, 
and a Bar meeting at which " the wearing of wigs was 
deprecated until an order was issued to that effect " and 
" uniformity in the matter of forensic costume " was 
considered desirable, a motion proposed by Mr. Donald- 
son and seconded by Mr. William Nanson, also a solicitor, 
and carried by twelve votes to two, one member not 
voting. There followed a second motion to the effect 

From a painting by himself. 

I. 222] 


that the English barrister's wig was unsuitable for this 
climate — carried by eleven votes to one ; and so say all 
of us, though the late Mr. Justice Earnshaw, when 
sitting in his own Court, always wore his wig. As a 
matter of fact, there is no real rule as to an advocate 
and solicitor's costume ; in Singapore solicitors wear 
barristers' gowns, in Penang they wear their own proper 
gowns ; barristers at both places, of course, wear stuff 

When Sir John Goldney came here from the West 
Indies he brought with him a superb negro butler named 
Eraser, who ruled the household with a rod of iron, and, 
like most of his race, was exceedingly fond of fine raiment. 
Eraser was a well-known figure in Singapore while 
the Goldneys were here, and there are many stories of 
him, but not fitted for this sober history. Mr. Justice 
Goldney had great common sense and shrewdness ; but 
he once startled his Court by stating from the Bench 
that " no one's house furniture should exceed $2,000 
in value." He was one of the founders of the Singa- 
pore Golf Club. 

Having brought the history of the Court down to 1 893, 
it is necessary now to look at the prominent members 
of the Bar since 1867. The first name that occurs is 
that of Mr. Jonas Daniel Vaughan, who had a career that 
was long, varied, and useful. In 1 842 he entered the 
Bengal Marine as a midshipman, and went straight off 
to the China War in the Tenasserim. He was present 
with the fleet, under Sir William Parker, at all the oper- 
ations from the capture of Chefoo to the ratification of 
the Treaty of Peace under the walls of Nankin, including 
the battle of Woosung and the capture of Ching-Kiang- 
Eoo, for which services he received the China Medal. 
After the war he served on the Straits station in the 
Phlegethon, and was present at the capture of the town 
of Brunei and the destruction of the strongholds of the 
Lanun pirates on the north-west coast of Borneo. Later 
he became Chief Officer of the Company's famous war 
steamer, " the fighting Nemesis," as she was called. In 


1851 Governor Butterworth appointed him Chief Officer 
of the Hooghly, and later Superintendent of Pohce at 
Penang, an office which he held till 1856, when he became 
Master Attendant at Singapore. From 1861 to 1869 he 
was Assistant Magistrate and Resident Councillor at 
Singapore, when he retired. He was called to the Bar 
at the Middle Temple in 1 869 while home on leave, and 
on his return was admitted in Singapore. He was a man 
of exceptionally wide information, and his knowledge 
of scientific subjects was unusually large. He wrote a 
good deal of useful matter about the history of Singapore 
in the newspapers, and occasionally acted as Editor for a 
time when others were absent ; this was done purely in 
the public interest, for in those days the papers did not 
have a circulation sufficiently large to allow of any 
pecuniary remuneration. Socially he was immensely 
popular, for he was a fine singer and the best amateur 
actor of his day. His practice was chiefly a criminal one, 
for which his experience in the police and as a magistrate 
peculiarly fitted him, as did his great knowledge of the 
native ways and customs. In March 1875 he was 
appointed as a temporary Puisne Judge, but he resigned 
in August, and resumed his practice at the Bar. His 
death was sad and mysterious ; he had been on a visit 
to Perak, where his married daughter was living, and was 
on his way back to Singapore in the s.s. Malacca on the 
17th October 1891. He was in good spirits that night, 
and talking to the Captain on deck at nine o'clock, but 
was not seen afterwards. There seems to be no doubt 
that he fell overboard by accident in the night. Mr. 
Vaughan was a veryold friend of the writer's grandfather, 
Thomas Braddell, and when the Supreme Court met on 
the 28th September 1891, to do honour to Mr. Braddell, 
who had died on the nineteenth previously, Mr. Vaughan 
made a long speech from the Bar, in which he did more 
than justice to his old friend. It was fitting that 
the same number of the Straits Law Journal should 
contain the obituary notices of these two old friends 
whose careers had such similarities. Mr. Vaughan, like 


Mr. Braddell, was one of the foremost Freemasons of his 

Mr. Isaac Swinburne Bond was called to the Bar at 
the Inner Temple on the 26th January 1867, and was 
admitted to the Straits Bar on the 31st July 1869. He 
practised alone until 1881, when he was joined by Mr. 
Alfred Drew, who had been admitted a solicitor in 
England in 1881. Mr. Bond was the first lawyer to be 
placed on the Legislative Council in 1877, from which 
time he served until he retired in 1886. He was the hero 
of an amusing episode which has been frequently told, 
but which will bear telling again. It occurred at a 
garden-party in Singapore, and he was Acting Attorney- 
General at the time. Attired in top-hat, frock-coat, and 
plaid trousers, he was expatiating to a lady on the beauty 
of a tree under which they were standing. He had, 
however, the misfortune not to have noticed a nest of 
those red ants called Keringas ; this omission the Keringas 
repaired very quickly, and the unfortunate gentleman 
soon found himself in such agonies that he tore off to his 
palanquin, into which he jumped and drove away. As it 
proceeded down the long drive, garments hurtled out 
of the window one after another, concluding with the 
plaid trousers 1 However, the story is probably by that 
inimitable raconteur, Mr. Benjamin Trovato, whose 
circulation in Singapore is abnormal. 

After Mr. Bond's retirement Mr. Drew practised 
alone, until he was joined by Sir Walter John Napier in 
1 889, when the firm became Drew and Napier, as it is to- 
day. Of its leading members more will be said later. 

It has already been mentioned that Mr. A. M. Aitken 
was the founder of the firm of Donaldson and Burkinshaw. 
These latter two gentlemen were in leading practice 
from the 'Seventies until the 'Nineties. Both of them were 
respected and popular, and did much useful work in the 

Alexander Leathes Donaldson was admitted an 
Attorney at Westminster in 1865, and to the local Bar 
in 1873 ; John Burkinshaw was admitted an Attorney 
I— 16 


at Westminster in 1863, and to the local Bar in 1874. 
When Mr. Bond retired his place on the Legislative 
Council was given to Mr. Burkinshaw ; in 1 893 it went 
to Mr. Donaldson, in 1 896 back to Mr. Burkinshaw, Mr. 
Donaldson having retired in 1895. ^^r. Burkinshaw con- 
tinued to be on Council until 1902, when he retired. He 
died in England in 1909 ; Mr. Donaldson is still living. 
These two gentlemen built up the leading European prac- 
tice of their day, and their jack-in-the-box possession of a 
seat on the Legislative Council undoubtedly gave the 
firm great influence. Both of them were sound legis- 
lators, displaying force and wisdom in their speeches, and 
being of undoubted assistance to the deliberations of the 
Council. Both of them were extensive landowners in 
Singapore, and their estates still exist, Mr. Donaldson's 
in the region of Orange Grove Road and Mr. Burkin- 
shaw's next to Tyersall and at Mount Elizabeth. Mr. 
Donaldson lived at Orange Grove, which the gharrj- syces 
long called " Rumah Donaldson " ; Mr. Burkinshaw at 
Mount Elizabeth, which similarly was known as " Bukit 
Burkinshaw." Mr. Donaldson's sister married Mr. P. T. 
Evatt, of Messrs. Lyall and Evatt, a well-known and 
popular sportsman, broker, and accountant, the news of 
whose death in recent years was received with great 
regret by his many friends in Singapore. 

The literature of the profession had been greatly 
enriched in 1885 by the publication in Singapore of three 
volumes of Law Reports by Mr. James William Norton 
Kyshe, at that time Acting Registrar of the Court in Ma- 
lacca ; a fourth volume appeared in 1 890. In the compila- 
tion of these reports Mr. Kyshe had the invaluable assist- 
ance of Mr. Van Someren. The reports are admirable and 
well chosen ; they contain also a most invaluable historical 
preface, and the amount of work put into them by Mr. 
Kyshe must have been very great. Mr. Kyshe was 
educated at Downing College, Cambridge, and was 
called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1880. He passed 
the Civil Service examination in 1871, and after holding 
various appointments in the Mauritius from that year 


till 1 877, he became Deputy Registrar at Penang in 1 880, 
and was Sheriff of Singapore in 1892. In 1895 he was 
appointed Registrar at Hongkong. He retired on 
pension a few years later, practised for a time in Cairo, 
and died recently in England. 

In June 1888 the Straits Law /owrna/ was commenced, 
under the able Editorship of Mr. S. R. Groom so far as 
the legal side of it was concerned. It continued until 
June 1892. In 1893 the Singapore Bar Committee 
commenced issuing the Straits Settlements Law Reports, 
which have continued to be issued by them from time 
to time ever since. 

On the 8th November 1893 Sir WilUam Henry 
Lionel Cox was appointed Chief Justice. He was born 
in 1844, the son of Dr. George B. Cox, M.D., of Mauritius, 
and was educated at the Royal College, Mauritius, being 
called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1 866. In 1 880 
he was appointed Substitute Procureur and Advocate- 
General of the Mauritius, and in August of that year 
Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court. In August 1886 
he became Procureur and Advocate-General, which 
position he held until his elevation to the Chief Justice- 
ship here. He retired in 1906, and is now living in Eng- 
land. Sir Lionel was perhaps the best Assize Judge we 
have had here, having a wonderful grasp of facts, and was 
a most ready speaker, notwithstanding certain peculiar- 
ities of accent due to his being equally fluent in French 
as in English. He had the ability to place the most 
complicated facts before a Jury in the simplest manner. 
Though most courteous, he was very careful to preserve 
the dignity of a Judge both inside and outside his Court, 
and woe betide anyonewho presumed to undue familiarity. 

The best story told about him is really not so much to 
do with him as with infantile precocity. The march of 
education in Singapore had familiarised the young with 
a good deal more, apparently, than they were intended to 
learn. A father and mother were disputing over the 
guardianship of a small boy, and Sir Lionel, who was a 
most kindly man and who took a peculiar interest in the 


young, insisted on seeing the little man. He was duly 
produced, and, standing in the witness-box, his head just 
appeared over the ledge. Sir Lionel addressed him : 
" Now, my little man, your father and your mother each 
of them wish to take care of you. Tell me, which would 
you pwefer ? " 

The little man answered with no hesitation : " I don't 
care a d — n I " 

" Ah," said Sir Lionel, " there spoke the voice of the 
father ! I give you to your mother's care ! " 

Sir Lionel had two favourite recreations — bridge, or 
" bwidge " as he called it, for his r's always gave him 
trouble, and reading Horace and Virgil in the original. 
Sir Lionel's rubber of bridge was a rite performed by him 
with regularity at the Singapore Club. Now, you cannot 
play bridge except for money, and once you play a game 
for money you commit the act of gaming or gambling. 
If, moreover, you are rash enough or stupid enough to 
commit this act in what the law calls a common gaming- 
house, the results are apt to be unpleasant. In the local 
Ordinance the expression " common gaming-house " 
covers a multitude of sins, and the question arises as to 
whether it covers gaming in a bona fide social club. A 
decision of Sir Lionel Cox has always been followed to 
the effect that gaming in such a club is quite legal. As 
a matter of fact. Sir Lionel went out of his way to decide 
the point, and the case is often called " Cox's after- 
tiffin bridge case " as a consequence ! 

He was, perhaps, not a profound lawyer, proceeding 
rather on the principle that if he found his facts rightly, 
the law was generally pretty obvious ; and in this he was 
right, for very few appeals against him seem to have been 
successful. He was exceedingly popular with the Bar, 
and was a great favourite socially in Singapore. 

In 1892 Mr. William Robert Collyer, I.S.O., was 
appointed a Puisne Judge ; he was born in 1842, the 
second son of Mr. John Collyer, a County Court Judge, 
whose family seat was at Hackford Hall, Reepham, 
Norfolk, where Mr. Collyer is now living. 


Mr. Collyer was educated at Rugby, and was a scholar 
of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he 
graduated in 1865, from which year until 1867 he was an 
Assistant Master at Chfton College. In 1869 he was 
called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, and after holdfng 
appointments at Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast, was 
made Queen's Advocate of Cyprus in 1 88 1 , which position 
he held until he came to the Straits Bench. When Sir 
John Bonser was appointed Chief Justice, Mr. Collyer 
became Attorney-General, holding that post until he 
retired in 1906. Mr. Collyer was a typical English 
gentleman, of an old-fashioned type now fast disappear- 
ing. He was open-hearted, hospitable, sporting, with 
strong convictions and prejudices, but never believing 
evil of anyone or anything, and incapable of a mean 
action. He endeared himself to everyone with whom he 
came into contact, and the interest which he took in 
everything that made for social and moral betterment in 
Singapore made his place a very hard one to fill when he 
left. The way he got through the arduous work which 
is the lot of an Attorney-General, without breaking down 
and with great speed, has always been a marvel since he 
left, and it may well be said of Mr. Collyer that his true 
value as a public servant was never realised until he had 
retired. The most important Ordinances which he put 
through were the Municipal Ordinance of 1896, the 
Women and Girls' Protection of the same year, the 
Tramway Ordinance of 1902, the Indian Immigration 
Ordinance of 1904, and the Railway Ordinance of 1905. 
His annual output of Ordinances was always over 
twenty, while in 1902 it was no less than thirty- 
seven, an output never exceeded, and only equalled by 
Sir Walter Napier in 1907. In addition to all this he 
used always to conduct the principal Crown prose- 
cutions at the Assizes, and of course he had to give 
opinions and advice to the various Government 

In February 1893 Sir Stephen Herbert Gatty was 
appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court. He was 


born in 1849, the son of the Rev. Alfred Gatty, 
Vicar of Ecclesfield, York, and sub-Dean of York 
Cathedral ; he is thus a brother of Sir Alfred Scott 
Gatty, the Garter King at Arms. He was a Scholar 
of Winchester and New College, Oxford, was called 
to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1874, and 
went the North-Eastern Circuit. In 1883 he was 
appointed Attorney-General of the Leeward Islands, 
and from 1885 to 1892 of Trinidad, where he received a 
Colonial Patent as Queen's Counsel in 1891. He was 
in the Straits only a short time, being appointed Chief 
Justice of Gibraltar in 1895, and being knighted in 1904. 
Mr. Justice Gatty is best remembered here as being the 
only Judge we have ever had who participated in amateur 
theatricals and sang a good comic song at a smoking 

In February 1894 Sir Archibald Fitzgerald Law was 
appointed a Puisne Judge. He was born in 1853, the 
son of Mr. Michael Law. He took his degree at Oriel 
College, Oxford, for which University he played Rugby 
football. In 1879 he was called to the Bar at the Inner 
Temple, and from 1880 to 1892 he served in various 
appointments in Cyprus. In 1906 he was appointed 
Chief Judicial Commissioner of the Federated Malay 
States, and was knighted in 1908. 

In July 1894 the four Judges in the Colony were, 
therefore. Cox, C. J., and Collyer, Gatty, and Law, J. J. 
Straits Produce summed up our Bench in the following 
witty lines : 

Three Judges from three distant islands sent, 
Mauritius, England, Cyprus represent ; 
The first in elegance of speech is strong, 
The next in comedy — the last is— long ; 
The Fount of Justice felt there was a flaw. 
And so to make a Bench she added Law. 

Mr. Justice Law was an exceedingly sound Judge, 
though not a very quick one. The best of his judgments 
is undoubtedly the one he delivered in the Six Widows 
Case. He never was prepared to take anything for 


granted, but always liked to feel his ground well before 
he trusted to it. When Counsel stated propositions of 
law of which he was not certain, he had a habit of saying 
in a deep voice, which made the remark quite terrifying 
to the junior Bar : " Well, Mr. Briefless, you say so — 
but I don't know." The writer has endeavoured to 
express the tones of voice and the final crescendo, having 
been many a time forced by the remark to produce or 
fail to produce authorities. Sir Archibald was a most 
satisfactory Judge to practise before, courteous, patient, 
taking infinite pains, and eventually delivering thor- 
oughly sound judgments, though, of course, like all 
Judges, he did not always receive the approval of the 
Appeal Court. Mr. Gilbert Carver, of Messrs. Donaldson 
and Burkinshaw, married one of his daughters. 

By this time the Bar had received several increases in 
its strength. In March 1889 Sir Walter Napier was 
admitted, and joined Mr. Drew in partnership, thus 
founding the firm of Drew and Napier. Sir Walter 
was born in 1857, the son of Mr. George W. Napier, of 
Alderley Lodge, Cheshire, and was educated at Rugby 
and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. On leaving Rugby 
he had been articled to a firm of solicitors at Manchester ; 
but he broke his articles, and went up to Oxford instead, 
where he took a first in law. After holding an Inns of 
Court Studentship in Civil Law, he was called to the Bar 
at-Lincoln's Inn in 1881, and practised as a " local " 
in Manchester from 1882 to 1888. His talents speedily 
appealed to the litigants of Singapore, and to the general 
public, to whose service he devoted much of his time. In 
1 896 he was appointed an Unofficial Member of Council, 
and held the position until 1897, being reappointed 
from 1900 to 1907. He was Attorney-General from 1907 
to 1909, when he retired, and received the honour of 
knighthood for his great services. After his retirement 
he served, in 191 2, on the Colonial Office Committee on 
the land tenure of West African Colonies and Protector- 
ates, another member of the Committee being Sir 
William Taylor, K.C.M.G. 


Sir Walter's first participation in public life in the 
Colony was by a speech at a meeting held in the Town 
Hall, in 1890, to endorse the protest of the Unofficials 
against the Military Contribution. Not long after this 
he became Secretary of the Straits Settlements Associ- 
ation, in which position he acted during practically 
the whole of the time that he was not on the Legislative 
Council. In March 1893, as Secretary, he drafted the 
Memorandum of the Association on the Military Contri- 
bution question, in which Mr. W. G. St. Clair gave great 
assistance. He was not content, either, to leave his 
own profession where he found it ; he worked hard to 
improve it, and the legislation of the Colony, even before 
he became Attorney-General. It was upon his sugges- 
tion that the Bar Committee commenced the publication 
of the Straits Settlements Law Reports, and he was the 
first Editor in 1 893. In 1 898 he published his Introduction 
to the Study of the Law Administered in the Colony of the 
Straits Settlements, an invaluable piece of work that was 
well received by the Judges and the profession, and 
favourably reviewed by Sir Frederick Pollock in the 
Law Quarterly Review. This work was accepted by 
Oxford University as a dissertation for the degree of 
D.C.L.jtowhichSir Walter proceeded in 1900, his brother, 
Professor H. S. Napier, Merton Professor of English 
Language and Literature, proceeding to the degree of 
Doctor of Letters at the same time. Sir Walter also 
contributed articles and papers on legal subjects to the 
Straits Chinese Magazine and the Straits Philosophical 
Society, of which he was one of the original members. 

Sir Walter's career as a legislator is unique. He is the 
only Unofficial Member of the Council who has ever 
introduced a Bill and got it passed into an Ordinance ; 
indeed, he did it twice. He prepared those two most 
useful pieces of legislation, the Married Women's Property 
and Partition Ordinances, both of 1902. The former is 
still in force, and the latter is now absorbed into the body 
of legislation introduced by Sir Walter as Attorney- 
General in 1907, which reformed the civil procedure and 


civil law of the Colony. In 1904 he had printed for 
private circulation a very valuable memorandum con- 
taining suggestions for the improvement of the law of the 
Colony, and laid it before H. E. Sir John Anderson, who 
had arrived in the Colony about that time. Many of 
these suggestions were ultimately carried out during 
Sir Walter's Attorney-Generalship and after. Thus, 
one of the suggestions was for the consolidation of the 
Merchant Shipping Laws which Mr. Huttenbach had 
urged in 1895 and 1896, and the necessity for which had 
been endorsed by the Shipping Commission of 1898. 
When Sir Walter was Attorney-General he took up 
this question, and prepared the very valuable measure 
which became the Merchant Shipping Ordinance of 
19 10, and in which he had the assistance of Captain 
Boldero, R.N., and Commander Radcliffe, R.N., each of 
whom was Master Attendant, and of Mr. W. J. Trowell, 
while in the work in London he collaborated with Sir 
Ellis Cunliffe, the Solicitor to the Board of Trade. 
Sir Walter's name must always stand high in the law, 
and deserves the remembrance of all practitioners at our 
Bar. One of Sir Walter's great opponents at the Bar 
was Mr. William Nanson, of Messrs. Rodyk and Davidson, 
and a good story is told of one of their battles in Court, 
which illustrates Mr. Nanson's Httle eccentricities. He 
always went on the plan that if the Judges did not know 
any law it was their fault, and he would not be bothered 
to go out of his way to teach them. On this particular 
occasion Sir Walter Napier was moving for an interlocu- 
tory mandatory injunction, and he went into it all with 
his usual thoroughness and acumen. Mr. Nanson, who 
had been fidgeting throughout the speech, got up to 
reply as soon as it was finished, and this was his reply : 
" My Lord, it is one thing to ask for an interlocutory man- 
datory injunction ; it is an entirely different thing to get 
it " ; whereupon he sat down ! On another occasion he 
had appeared unsuccessfully for a client, who was ordered 
to pay over a fairly large sum of money to the Official 
Assignee. Mr. Nanson applied for a stay of execution. 


but the Judge did not see why he should grant it. " Well, 
my Lord," said Mr. Nanson, " it is like this. If we pay 
over now, the Official Assignee will distribute the money 
among the creditors, and when your Lordship's decision 
is upset our money will be gone ! " He did not always 
come off best in his encounters with the Bench, however. 
On one occasion he was appearing for Syed Mohamed 
Alsagoff, and raised a long technical objection against 
his opponent, based on a Statute of Charles II. He 
went into this Statute at great length, and commented 
on its application to the case he was arguing. At last 
Sir Lionel Cox could stand it no longer, and brought it to 
an abrupt conclusion with this remark: " But, Mr. 
Nanson, you see the star of Alsagoff had not awisen in 
the days of the Mewwy Monarch I " 

In 1893 Sir Hugh Fort was admitted, becoming a 
partner in the firm of Messrs. Donaldson and Burkinshaw. 
Straits Produce at once pounced on the fact, and 
. announced it thus : 

"In order to add to the defences, a well-known firm 
of lawyers have recently set up a fort of their own. It 
is not probable that a fortress or any smaller forts will 
be added for some time." 

They never have been, for Sir Hugh died unmarried in 
London in June 1919. It is said that Sir Hugh had the 
finest brain of any man who has ever come to the Straits, 
not merely in legal affairs but in public ones as well. 
He was a Member of Legislative Council from 1905 to 
1908, and again from 1909 to 1910, being knighted in 
191 1 after he had retired. For years he held a leading 
place in Singapore life ; he led its Bar, the Unofficials 
on its Legislative Council, and his word was law in all 
matters of sport and club life. As an advocate Sir 
Hugh was deadly ; he pounced on a weakness, he made 
the strength of his own case seem impregnable, and he 
was always cool and collected, while to his opponents 
he was fairness itself. 

He possessed one eccentricity that endeared him to 

I- 2341 



the native spectators of the tennis tournaments at the 
Cricket Club : he always wore a white handkerchief 
round his head to prevent the perspiration from dimming 
his spectacles, and the natives never got reconciled to 
it, so that Sir Hugh always had a good gallery. As an 
owner and as a member of the Sporting Club Committee, 
his services to racing in the Straits were invaluable. 

Sir Hugh was born in 1862, the son of Mr. Richard 
Fort, of Read Hall, Whalley, Lanes., who was Member 
of Parliament for Clitheroe. He was educated at 
Winchester and New College, Oxford, and was called to 
the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1887. While at the 
English Bar he was part author of Talbot and Fort's 
Index of Cases, a most useful work, though out of date 

Of the other partners in Messrs. Donaldson and Burkin- 
shaw were the Hon. Mr. C. I. Carver, who just recently 
retired, Mr. Harold Millard, who gave his life for his 
country in the Great War, Mr. Gilbert Carver, on 
active service till May 19 19, Mr. H. R. L. Dyne, Mr. 
Dudley Parsons, and Mr. H. B. Layton. 

In 1896 Sir Evelyn Campbell Ellis came from Hong- 
kong to join Messrs. Drew and Napier, in which firm he 
became a partner. He was born in 1865, the son of 
Dr. Robert Ellis, M.R.C.S. In 1891 he was admitted 
as a solicitor in England, but it was as an advocate that 
he excelled, like Sir Arthur Adams, K.B.E., of the Penang 
Bar. Sir Evelyn was an Unofficial Member of the 
Legislative Council from 1908 till 1916, and was Acting 
Attorney-General in 191 2 and 191 3. On the departure 
of Sir Hugh Fort, Sir Evelyn Ellis took his place as 
leader of the Bar, leader of the Unofficials, and President 
of the Sporting Club. He and Lady Ellis, whose early 
death was so deeply deplored, were most hospitable and 
popular ; and when they left for England, they left 
behind them a social blank. One hears that during the 
War Sir Evelyn's talents found scope for employment in 
Government offices in London. 

At the Bar Sir Evelyn Ellis seldom lost a case ; his 


methods as an advocate were far more blunt and emphatic 
than the more rapier-like thrusts of Sir Hugh Fort, but 
just as effective. Neither in Court nor in Council would 
he brook opposition, and from the very definite way he had 
of stating his propositions he came early to be known 
as Cocky ; one can say this, because he always insisted 
on his friends calling him by that name, which was one 
of affection, and intended only to sum up his very force- 
ful character. Sir Evelyn was a monster for work, and 
if genius really is an infinite capacity for taking pains, 
then he possessed it. 

After Sir Walter Napier, Sir Evelyn's principal partner 
in Messrs. Drew and Napier, was Mr. E. F. H. Edlin, or 
" Peter "as he was always called, from the fact that he 
was a nephew of Sir Peter Edlin, Recorder of London. 
No more delightful man to know and to be a friend of 
has ever come to the Straits ; he was sympathetic and 
generous in disposition, a very sound lawyer, and a keen 
sportsman. His sad death in 191 3 cast a gloom over 
the whole place, and he is remembered with regret and 
affection by many both of his profession and outside it. 
The other partners in the firm have been the Hon. Mr. 
D. Y. Perkins, Mr. M. J. Upcott, and Mr. P. Robinson. 

From the middle of the 'Nineties to the middle of the 
next decade was the Augustan era of the Singapore Bar, 
and it must be many years before the high standard 
reached then can be attained again. The prospective 
litigant had Napier, Ellis, Fort, C. I. Carver, Wilham 
Nanson, F. M. Elliot, the brothers Braddell, Rowland 
Allen, Delay, Emerson, and Van Someren from which 
to choose, and, if he could not find one of them to satisfy 
his requirements, he deserved to lose his case. 

The firm of Allen and Gledhill was started by Mr. 
Rowland Allen, who came out to Messrs. Joaquim 
Brothers in 1895, having been called to the English 
Bar in 1893. Mr. John Joseph Gledhill joined him in 
1901, and since then the partners in the firm have been 
Mr. Leigh-Clare, Mr. L. E. Gaunt, Mr. H. C. Cooke- 
Yarborough, and Mr. Richard Page. 


I- 236] 


The firm of Sisson and Delay was started when Mr. 
James Arthur Delay joined Mr. Sisson in iSyi. Mr. 
Arthur James Sisson was admitted in i88S, and was in 
partnership with Mr. Edwin Koek for some time. The 
other partners in the firm have been Mr. Charles Emer- 
son, >Ir. Clement Everitt, and Mr. H. D. Mundell. 

When Mr. Justice Gatty was appointed Chief Justice 
of Gibraltar, the vacancy on our Bench was filled by the 
appointment of Mr. Andrew John Leach, who had been 
educated at Sir Roger Cholmondeley's School, Highgate, 
and St. John's College, Oxford. He was called to the 
Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1876, and practised in Hongkong 
for some years, acting as Puisne Judge and Attorney- 
General on several occasions between 1887 and 1895. 
He retired in 1Q04, and shortly afterwards died of 
cancer, from which terrible disease he had been suffering 
in Singapore, and which made him naturally rather 
irritable on the Bench. 

Mr. Justice Leach was the best equity lawyer we 
have ever had in the Straits. He was very genial and 
full of humour, a keen cricketer, and a golfing enthusiast. 
He was rather a terror in his Court, where his sarcastic 
remarks and sharp tongue lashed impartially Counsel 
and litigant. Legal stories are not generally so humor- 
ous to the public as to the lawyer, and " laughter in 
Court " frequently follows a remark that seems far from 
funny ; but the following account of an occurrence in 
Mr. Justice Leach's Court possesses genuine humour. 

The plaintiff was a young man, whom we will call 
Isaac Moses, and he arrived in Court accompanied by his 
mother, a large lady dressed in her best satin dress, and 
wearing a hat composed principally of red feathers ; 
she took a seat near the witness-box. The son entered 
the box, and before being sworn was asked by the Judge 
what was his name. " I key " was the reply. " What 
does Ikey stand for?" came from the Bench. The 
silence of astonishment overwhelmed the plaintiff. 
" Will you answer me ? " came sharply from the Judge, 
who glared at the witness through large spectacles. 


The witness shuffled, but no words came from him ; his 
mother said in a stage whisper, " Isaac," which the 
young man promptly repeated. 

" Tell that woman to sit at the back of the Court and 
keep her mouth shut, or I'll turn her out," thundered the 

" What's your other name ? " 

" Mo — mo — motheth." 

" Very well, Isaac Moses, now you can be sworn." 

A Bible was handed to the witness, who, grasping it 
quickly, was about to kiss it, when a roar came from the 
Judge, who was well known to be a devout Roman 
Catholic, " Stop — what are you ? " 

The witness dropped the Bible and stared at the Judge 
tongue-tied for some seconds. 

This was too much for the mother, who, hiding her 
face behind a large fan, whispered loudly to her progeny : 

" Say you are a Roman Catholic, Ikey ! " 

Doubtless the ceiling fell and justice was done ! An 
eye-witness told the writer this story, and it is too good 
to escape preservation. 

In 1897 Sir William Henry Hyndman-Jones was 
appointed to the Straits Bench. He was born in 1847, 
the son of Mr. William Henry Jones, of Upper Norwood, 
and was educated at Marlborough and Trinity College, 
Cambridge. In 1 878 he was called to the Bar at Lincoln's 
Inn, and was sent in 1 880 to enquire into the working and 
administration of the Barbados Police Force. The 
next year he was appointed to act as a Judge of the 
Barbados Court of Appeal. After serving in various 
legal capacities in the West Indies, he was appointed to 
the Straits Bench. In January 1906 he became Chief 
Judicial Commissioner of the Federated Malay States, 
and in August of that year Chief Justice of the Straits 
Settlements. He retired in 1914. His successor, 
Sir John Bucknill, in a speech which he made to 
the Bar on taking his seat, referred to Sir William as 
the " Nestor of the Colonial Bench," and a more apt de- 
scription could not have been given. The Bar hoped 


1. 2381 



that he would be appointed to the Privy Council, a 
distinction which he more than deserved, but the 
appointment was not made, and Sir William lives in 
retirement at Jersey. 

Sir William was the beau ideal of a Judge, learned, 
quick at grasping law and fact ; of most stately presence, 
and possessed of a fine figure, he dominated his Court, and 
filled it with an atmosphere of dignity that accorded with 
the finest traditions of the Bench. Courteous and kind, 
he had always a helping hand for the struggling junior, 
and he certainly taught more law and more etiquette to 
the younger members of the Bar than any Judge who has 
ever sat here. Jurymen speak of him in the highest 
admiration, but to the Bar he was perhaps at his best 
when presiding over the Court of Appeal. Counsel were 
kept to the point, decisions were rapid ; there was no 
constant interruption, no wrangling with Counsel, and 
work in the Court of Appeal, while he presided, was a 
pleasure and often an education. 

He was possessed of a strong sense of humour, but it 
did not evince itself by jokes. He had a habit of placing 
his handkerchief over his mouth when anything appealed 
to his risibility ; but the blue eyes over the handkerchief 
told their tale, and the Counsel who could call a twinkle 
into them by a witty remark did not find his task any 
the more difficult in consequence. 

When he said anything humorous he did it in such 
a dry and logical way that it became all the more 
funny. During the hearing of the Appeal in the 
Six Widows Case he convulsed the whole Court by a 
little passage which he had with the late Mr. Montagu 

Mr. Harris was a very sparkling and amusing speaker, 
but he was not very logical, and in the course of his 
argument he invited the Court of Appeal to step into 
the shoes of the deceased Choo Eng Choon, to which Sir 
William drily replied that in that event the Court would 
be assembled elsewhere. Harris retorted that he meant 
during Choo Eng Choon 's lifetime, to which Sir William 


further replied that in that case the Court would have 
nothing to do with the matter ! Sir William was the 
only Judge who could deal effectually with Mr. Harris, 
and he did it always in so kindly, humorous a way that 
the latter had to accept defeat. 

When the same case was before Sir Archibald Law, 
Mr. Harris waxed very indignant at the attempt to 
upset his client's rights. " It is unreasonable," he said, 
" for my learned friends to come here with antiquated 
Chinese laws and attempt to upset the law of this Colony 
in half-an-hour ! " 

Sir Archibald said with a groan : " Half an hour ! 
In four days, you mean ! " 

" What is four days in eternity, my Lord ? " Getting 
no reply, Mr. Harris answered himself by saying, ' ' A mere 
drop in the ocean I " And to those engaged in the case 
it certainly seemed to be eternity before we had done 
with it. 

In 1 90 1 Mr. Swinford Leslie Thornton was appointed 
a Puisne Judge. He had practised at the local Bar a 
short while, and was appointed Registrar of the Court at 
Malacca in 1 887, a post which he held for some five years. 
In 1894 he was given the Attorney-Generalship of St. 
Vincent, and in 1896 was made Resident Magistrate at 

Sir John Anderson caused the retiring age for a Judge 
to be fixed at fifty-five, reserving the right to the Execu- 
tive to retain their services after that age if thought fit. 
Mr. Justice Thornton was the first to suffer under this 
rule, and his retirement caused great indignation. 

The next Judge to suffer by the rule was Mr. Justice 
Fisher, who had been appointed to the Straits Bench 
after long services in Ceylon, Cyprus, and Jamaica ; and 
he was so cut up about it that he literally died of a broken 

It is said by many that this rule has robbed the Bench 
of its independence, the more so now that all our Judges 
but one are from the Civil Service. The question of the 
appointment, salary, and qualifications of our Judges is 


at present one that is exercising the Bars of Singapore 
and Penang very much, and the present position is 
vastly unsatisfactory. 

In 1907 Sir Thomas Braddell was appointed a Puisne 
Judge. He is the only member of the Bar who has ever 
received the substantive appointment, though in the 
'Seventies temporary appointments were made from the 
Bar. As Sir Thomas is the writer's father, and as his 
career is dealt with elsewhere, more cannot be said about 
him here. 

When Mr. Christian Baumgarten resigned the 
appointment of Registrar in 1874, the post went to Mr. 
Charles Eugene Velge. He was a son of Mr. J. H. Velge, 
who was well-known in Singapore in the old days for 
his hospitality. Mr. C. E. Velge had been called to the 
Bar at the Middle Temple in 1 870. He held the Registrar- 
ship until 1907, at the end of which year he retired, 
dying in September 191 2. Mr. Velge was a splendid 
Registrar, and throughout his long career held the com- 
plete confidence of Bench and Bar. He was exceedingly 
fond of racing, and was as good a judge of a racehorse's 
capacities as any man who has been out here. 

When he retired he was succeeded by Mr. Felix Henry 
Valentine Gottlieb, who had joined the Government 
Service in 1 880, and had been called to the Bar at the 
Middle Temple in 1892. He was a son of Mr. Felix 
Henry Gottlieb, F.S.S., F.R.G.S., who was also a 
barrister, and who had joined the Government Service 
in 1 846, holding many legal appointments in it until 1 882, 
when he resigned and commenced private practice in 
Penang. He was a sornof old " Captain " Gottlieb, who 
through the influence of the Duke of Clarence (afterwards 
William IV) had been in the Naval dockyards in 
England , and became the first Harbour Master at Penang. 

Mr. F. H. V. Gottlieb's brother, Mr. G. S. H. Gottlieb, 
was also a barrister, and practised in Penang and Cairo, 
where he died. Mr. F. H. V. Gottlieb died in 191 7, 
having remained at his post, after he was overdue for 
his pension, from a strong sense of duty ; he felt that by 
I— 17 


carrying on he was doing what little was possible to 
him during the Great War, and his death came as a 
great shock to the Bench and the Bar, in whose respect 
he stood very high. 

The first Chinese barrister to be admitted to the local 
Bar was Mr. Song Ong Siang, M.A., LL.M., in 1 894. He 
was born in 1871, and was educated at Raffles School, 
Singapore, and Downing College, Cambridge. He held 
the Guthrie Scholarship from 1883 to 1888, and entering 
the Middle Temple in 1889, had a brilliant career, for he 
won the Scholarship in Constitutional Law and Inter- 
national Law in June 1889, and the hundred-guinea 
Studentship in Jurisprudence and Roman Law in June 
1890. He was called to the Bar in 1893. Mr. Ong 
Siang has worked for the welfare of his countrymen 
in Singapore for many years. He is a fine rifle-shot, and 
has always been a keen Volunteer, having formed one 
of the Straits Contingent for the Coronation in 1902. 

The second century of Singapore history finds the 
Singapore Bar on those pleasant terms of friendship 
which should always mark its conduct ; its doyen is 
Mr. Edwin Rowland Koek, who was admitted in 1888. 
The War has made gaps in our ranks. We have had to 
mourn the death of Mr. Philip Walton, S.V.A. (Donaldson 
and Burkinshaw), accidentally killed in the Mutiny on the 
1 8th February 1915 ; Captain Harold Millard (Donaldson 
and Burkinshaw), Northamptonshire Regiment, who, 
after serving through the Gallipoli Campaign, was killed 
in action on the Western Front on the i ith April 191 7 ; 
Captain C. R. a Beckett Terrell, M.C. (Drew and Napier), 
Royal Field Artillery, who was^killed in action on the 
Western Front on the 10th June 191 7 ; and Lieutenant 
Hector Alan Lane (Sisson and Delay), East Lancashire 
Regiment, who was killed on the 25th May 1915, at the 
second Battle of Ypres. 

In addition to these gallant souls, we remember with 
pride that out of our not very large number the following 
have served during the Great War : Captain Gilbert 
Squarey Carver (Donaldson and Burkinshaw), ist 



Cheshire Regiment, wounded on the Western Front on 
the 9th October 191 7 ; Captain A. K. a Beckett Terrell 
(Drew and Napier), Royal Field Artillery, served on the 
Western Front ; Lieutenant W. M. Graham (Drew and 
Napier), who was first engaged on ambulance work on 
the Western Front, then joined the French Air Force, and 
afterwards the Royal Flying Corps, and who also served 
on the Italian Front, was awarded the Croix de Guerre 
and the British Military Medal ; Lieutenant-Commander 
L. E. Gaunt, R.N.V.R. (Allan and Gledhill), who served 
with the Grand Fleet ; Mr. H. C. Cooke- Yarborough 
(Allan and Gledhill), Ambulance Driver, British Red 
Cross attached to the Italian Third Army ; Captain 
J. A. Lucie-Smith (Allen and Gledhill), Dublin Fusiliers, 
served in Salonika ; Mr. T. G. Ryott (Allen and Gledhill), 
Corporal H.A.C., served in France ; Lieutenant E. W. 
Willett (Allen and Gledhill), served in Mesopotamia with 
the Transport ; Lieutenant C. Dickenson (Sisson and 
Delay), R.G.A., who had the misfortune to be captured 
in the Hitachi Maru by the German raider Wolf 
while on his way to England ; and Lieutenant 
R. L. L. Braddell (Braddell Brothers), R.G.A., who was 
in the fighting on the Western Front from the German 
attack in March 191 8 to the signing of the Armistice. 

The writer hopes that this article may not be thought 
too biographical : after all, the history of a place such as 
Singapore is chiefly the history of the men who lived in it, 
and the thought that an endeavour to show what manner 
of men the Judges and lawyers of the place have been 
would prove of more value than the statement of facts 
and details of a dry nature that would be more fitted for 
a law book. That this article contains many omissions 
he feels very conscious, but seeks to excuse himself in the 
following lines from Lamquet : 

J'ai tant de choses &. vous dire 

Qu'on en ferait un livre entier, 
S'ii me fallait vous les 6crire 

J'y sScherais tout I'encrier. 

The best thanks of the writer are due to Mr. Maurice 


Rodesse, of the Supreme Court, whose long acquaintance 
with the Court and its characters is now unique, and 
who, with his usual unfailing courtesy, has supplied the 
writer with much of the material in the later part of this 


By Roland St. J. Braddell 

The scope of this article covers so many matters of 
importance to our community of mixed races that the 
writer has thought it best to divide it into separate 
sub-headings rather than to attempt to cover the whole 
ground chronologically, a course which could only lead to 

The Police Force 

The history of the Singapore Police Force really begins 
with the appointrnent of Mr. Thomas Dunman to it ; 
prior to that the police were little better than the old- 
fashioned " Charleys," and were hopelessly insufficient 
and inefficient. The first head of the police in Singapore, 
appointed in 1819, was Mr. F. J. Bernard, a son-in-law 
of Major Farquhar. In 1 82 1 he had under him a writer, 
a jailer, two sergeants, and seventeen constables. By 
1 84 1 the force consisted of the Sitting Magistrate as 
Superintendent, three European constables, and an 
assistant native constable, fourteen officers and no 

Writing in 1828, Mr. Crawfurd mentions that several 
cases of murder occurred in the course of the year, 
perpetrated in open day and witnessed by numbers ; but 
he says that the proportion of such crimes was not so 
high as in Penang owing to the higher price of labour in 
Singapore, and the consequent hearty and flourishing 
condition of the Settlement. 

Mr. J. T. Thomson, writing of the 'Thirties, mentions 
the great number of murders that went unpunished in 
consequence of the great laxity of the Government. 


He says that he had not been two days in Singapore 
before he came across the dead body of a Khng, lying 
across the pubHc road, within half a mile of the town, 
with his throat cut from ear to ear, and that he had not 
been here six months before he fell across five human 
beings weltering in their blood, also lying on the public 
road two miles out of town. In four years he counted 
no less than twenty bodies of murdered men on the 
public roads, all within a few miles of the town. As 
usual, during this period the police were hopelessly 
underpaid ; the real head of the force received only £60 
per annum. The result was that they made up theif 
pay out of the gambling which was rife all over the 

In 1 83 1 the force consisted of only eighteen men, and 
that was a year of great lawlessness, as was 1832. The 
Chinese Hoeys or secret societies were a constant source of 
trouble ; the first mention of them occurs in 1831, when 
the Resident Councillor sent a list of questions about 
them to the Superintendent of Police, but no action was 
taken. At that time it was said that a secret society 
exceeding one thousand men was established in the 
jungle, where they actually had an armed fort. In 
1832 the Grand Jury, in their presentment at the Assizes, 
referred to the numerous burglaries that had been com- 
mitted by gangs of Chinese in bodies of fifty to one hun- 
dred men. They said that the atrocities of these 
villains had increased to such an extent that if some 
active measures were not taken to put a stop to their 
career, there was every possibility of their becoming so 
powerful that it would not be safe for anyone to reside 
at a distance from town or to settle as a cultivator in 
^•the interior. Nothing much seems to have been done, 
and crime and lawlessness continued unchecked for 
years until, as a result of a long series of robberies and 
attacks by numbers of armed Chinese, a public meeting 
was held at the office of Messrs. Hamilton, Gray and Co., 
on the loth February 1843, with Mr. Thomas Oxley, the 
Sheriff, in the chair. A number of resolutions were 


passed, calling attention to the prevalence of crime, and 
asking for the improvement and more energetic manage- 
ment of the police. 

The Government acted at last, and in September 
of that year appointed Mr. Thomas Dunman, an assistant 
in Messrs. Martin, Dyce and Co., to the office of Deputy 
Magistrate and Superintendent of Police. Mr. J. T. 
Thomson, in a later book about the Straits, wrote that 
' ' it was Congalton who swept the Malay waters of pirates ; 
it was Dunman who first gave security to households 
jn Singapore by raising and training an efficient police 

The Resident Councillor, however, was ex officio 
Commissioner of Police, and Mr. Dunman 's position was 
not satisfactory at first. In 1856 strong opinions were 
expressed that the duties of Commissioner of Police 
should not be hampered with magistrate's work and 
duty in the Resident Councillor's office, and as Governor 
Blundell shared in this view, the Governor-in-Council 
from Calcutta agreed to make the office a separate and 
distinct one. It was, naturally, conferred on Mr. 
Dunman in June 1857, and on the Transfer he became 
Commissioner of Police for the whole Colony, retiring 
finally in 1871. 

Mr. Dunman's success was pronounced, and Mr. 
Buckley says that one secret of it was that as he was known 
and liked among all classes of the community, European 
and native, they were willing to give him assistance and 
information. He used to go about the town at all hours 
of the day and night, so that little went on that he did 
not know about. He was, also, thoroughly trusted by 
the headmen of the secret societies, who knew that they 
could trust him not to divulge the source of any informa- 
tion which they gave him. 

During his period of office there were three serious 
outbreaks of riot. The first occurred in 1846, in con- 
sequence of the authorities refusing to allow a funeral 
procession at the burial of one of the headmen of a 
secret society unless it did not exceed one hundred 


persons. But the most serious troubles that have ever 
occurred in Singapore, excepting the mutiny of the sth 
Light Infantry in 191 5, were those of 1854. 

Trouble had been brewing between the Hok-kiens 
and the Teo-chews for some time ; but the actual cause 
of the outbreak was, as is often the case, quite trivial. 
A Hok-kien and a Teo-chew had a quarrel over the price 
of some bananas, high words ensued, the quarrel was 
taken up by the bystanders, and blows followed. The 
battle grew in extent, and spread from street to street ; 
all the shops and houses were quickly closed and barri- 
caded, and the fight became general throughout the 
town. Mr. Dunman found that the police could not 
cope with it, so the military were called out and parties 
landed from H.M. Ships Sybille, Lily, and Rapid. They 
succeeded in clearing the streets, but the spirit of clannish 
hatred had become thoroughly aroused. None of the 
shops dared re-open, and when any of the streets was 
left unguarded the men on both sides would rush out 
and commence the fight again. Finally, finding that 
they could only fight at short intervals and in small 
numbers in the town, the two clans marched out in 
large bodies into the country, where many pitched battles 
took place, and large numbers were killed on both sides, 
the heads of the dead being cut off and carried on the 
spears of their adversaries. 

All the merchants' godowns in town were closed and 
business completely suspended. The residents were 
sworn in as special constables, as also were many of the 
captains and officers of the ships lying in the harbour, 
and detachments of these were sent all over the country- 
side while the military guarded the town. The rioters 
offered little resistance to the Europeans, so that not 
one of the troops, police, or specials was seriously hurt ; 
they were only anxious to fight each other. After about 
a fortnight both clans began to quieten down, and 
matters were eventually cemented up between them by 
the most influential of the Chinese merchants. In a 
great measure owing to these riots, the Singapore 


Volunteer Rifle Corps was founded in this year. Mr. 
Dunman was thanked by the Government for his services 
in the riots, and was presented with a sword of honour. 

The next riots occurred in 1857, but were not nearly 
so serious ; they were due to the passing of a new 
Municipal Act which the Chinese did not understand. 
The military and the volunteers were called out, and 
distributed through the town, so that peace was soon 

In 1863, or thereabouts, the police were first put into 
regular uniform, the idea being introduced by Mr. 
K. B. S. Robertson, then Deputy Commissioner of 
Police, who died at Mount Pleasant, Thompson Road, 
on Good Friday 1 868. Mr. Dunman never wore uniform, 
however, except on very ceremonial occasions. The 
full dress of the native police, Malays and Klings alike, 
was dark blue serge coat and cap, white trousers, and 
black shoes. In 1879 there were complaints all round 
against the serge, which was too thick, and which at that 
time was used for ordinary work, both for trousers and 
coat, the white trousers being used only for parade and 
special duty. The Police Commission of that year 
recommended a lighter serge, and for day duty khaki, 
but it was not until 1890 that khaki was experimented 
with. At that date drabbet tunics were in use by both 
Europeans and natives. A hundred men were put into 
khaki to begin with, but they were made to wear white 
gaiters, which proved very unpopular owing to the trouble 
of keeping them clean. By 1 893 khaki was found to be 
a success, and the force was put permanently into it, the 
gaiters being done away with ; blue serge and white 
gaiters, however, remained the full dress until 19 10. 
The officers' full levee dress of dark blue cloth, velvet 
cuffs and collar, with silver braid, was abolished in 
1902, and white drill substituted as full dress. The 
result is that no commissioned officer of the police can 
wear a uniform in England, not even the probationers 
when undergoing training at the Royal Irish Constabu- 
lary School. 


Mr.Dunman was succeeded on his retirement by Colonel 
Samuel Dunlop, R.A., C.M.G. In 1875 he became 
Inspector-General of Police for the whole Colony ; this 
title had been introduced in 1871 by the Police Force 
Ordinance of that year. Colonel Dunlop performed 
other valuable services besides his purely police duties. 
In November 1874 he was sent as Commissioner with 
the forces despatched to quell the disturbances in Sungei 
Ujong, and in November 1875, after the murder of Mr. 
J. W. W. Birch, was appointed Special Commissioner 
temporarily for Perak affairs. He organised the expedi- 
tion which captured the Pasir Salak stockades, and was 
present at their capture. During the December opera- 
tions in Perak he was Commissioner to the Forces, and 
accompanied General Colborne's force up the Perak 
River and across country to Kinta. He remained in the 
police until 1 884, when he was appointed Acting Resident 
Councillor in Penang, which post he held for a year, and 
then returned to the police. In 1889 he was appointed 
President of the Singapore Municipality, and retired in 
1890. His daughter married Mr. W. P. Waddell, of 
Boustead and Co. 

The police force from 1857 to 1871 was under the 
Police Act of 1856 ; the Police Ordinance of 1871 was 
repealed, and re-enacted in 1872, under which latter 
Ordinance the force remains at this date. 

Although Mr. Dunman had been very successful with 
the police, considerable dissatisfaction with the state of 
the force was expressed in 1870, so that the Honourable 
Mr. Thomas Scott took up the question in the Legislative 
Council, and drew up a very careful memorandum on 
the question, which he addressed to the Governor in 
February 1871. As a consequence the Ordinance of 
that year was passed. In his memorandum to the 
Secretary of State upon the Ordinance of 1872, Governor 
Ord pointed out the necessity for accommodating the 
police and their families in proper quarters. At that 
time they were distributed all over the town, wherever 
they could find accommodation. A beginning was made 


by building married quarters at the various country 
stations, and a marked benefit to the service at once 
evinced itself; but it was found impossible to do this 
in town. The withdrawal of the native troops as a 
result of the Transfer had, however, placed the Sepoy 
Lines at the disposal of the Government, and accommoda- 
tion was found in them for a number of the police. 

By 1879 the police had got into a very bad state ; 
there were no less than 770 cases of crime in the force in 
1878, when it numbered 5 50, and complaints were general, 
with the result that the Unofficials took up the matter 
in Council, and a Commission of Enquiry was appointed, 
consisting of Mr. Cecil Smith, then Colonial Secretary, 
Mr. W. W. Willans, the Treasurer, and Messrs. W. H. 
Read, Walter Scott, and T. Shelford, the last three all 
being Unofficial Members of the Council. The force 
at this time consisted of an Inspector-General, a Super- 
intendent, a Chief Inspector, six inspectors, ten sub- 
inspectors, two sergeant-majors, eleven sergeants, forty- 
two corporals, and four hundred and fifty-four con- 

The Commission highly recommended the superior 
officers. Major Dunlop, they said, though having no 
special training, possessed the advantages of the valuable 
education which his scientific corps, the Artillery, gave ; 
but they found that he was unduly lenient, and had 
weakened the moral of the force consequently. The 
inspectors were mostly enlisted in the Colony, and gained 
their position more by force of circumstances than by 
their own merit, but the inducements were too small to 
attract better men. Here was the old story of parsimony, 
and at this present date, although the police are an 
admirable force, their pay and pensions stand in need of 
great increases if the efficiency of the force is to be 
preserved. The Commission found that the inspectors 
were not, as a body, men on whose fidelity and capacity 
reliance could be placed. Corruption was believed to 
exist amongst them to a greater extent than was provable 
in a Court of Law. 


The native force was composed of Malays and Klings 
in about equal proportions, and of them the Chief 
Justice, in his evidence before the Commission, said that 
he found them very ignorant and deficient in intelligence, 
with some marked exceptions. Bribery and corruption 
were rife amongst them ; Mr. J. D. Vaughan, the lawyer, 
said that they were just as bad as they had been twenty 
years before when he was in the police. They were 
hopelessly over-worked, getting about four hours' rest 
at a time, with the result that they were always going to 
sleep on their beat. One sub-inspector said, in his 
evidence, " During the night I go the rounds. Gener- 
ally I find the men asleep on their beats. They sit down 
and drop off to sleep." Their hours of duty were a six- 
hour stretch, and they were physically unfitted for it. 
In 1884, however, one still finds the Inspector-General 
reporting that the Malay and Kling constables were 
over-worked, seldom getting more than three and a half 
hours off duty at a time. 

In their evidence Major Dunlop and Messrs. Braddell, 
the Attorney-General, and Ommaney, Superintendent 
of Police, stated that they preferred the Klings to the 
Malays, but most of the other witnesses held the contrary, 
as the Klings were prone to drink, bribery, and cruelty. 
The Commission reported in favour of having Malays 
only, but Klings continued to be appointed for years 

There were no rules or regulations for the governance 
of the police ; certain clauses of Ordinances were read 
at Roll Calls, and the corporal of each section was sup- 
posed to go round and teach the men their duty. 

The detective branch under Inspector Richards was 
highly spoken of by his own superior officers, the Chief 
Justice, the Attorney-General, and many others. He 
had eighteen N. CO. 's and men under him, all Klings and 
Malays. Chinese informers were very largely relied on, 
as they are to this day ; Chinese had been tried as regular 
detectives, but had failed, as they entered the secret 
societies and devoted themselves to the interests of those 


societies which paid them best. The Commission found 
that on the whole the detectives worked well, but were 
far too few in number. 

Paragraph 57 of the Commission's Report reads as 
follows : 

" The different races, the numerous Secret Societies, 
the wide-spread communities, and the extent of country- 
all render it most difficult to provide a satisfactory and 
honest supervision by Police over these Settlements. 
At any rate it cannot be done without much greater 
expenditure than has yet been incurred ; but inasmuch 
as it is among the first duties of Government to ensure 
reasonable protection to the inhabitants of the Colony by 
which the persons are attracted here to develop its 
resources, it may be earnestly hoped that now the 
Revenue permits, no further time will be lost in placing 
the Force on an efficient footing." 

The Commission's recommendations involved large 
increases of pay, but they quoted in support this 
language of a former Secretary of State : " There can be 
no such short-sighted and injudicious economy as that 
which would refuse the necessary outlay for maintaining 
the police in a state of complete efficiency for the preservation 
of order and the enforcement of the law, without which 
industry can never flourish.'^ The words are printed 
here in italics, because they cannot be over-emphasised. 

Among the many recommendations were the estab- 
lishment of police schools for the education of the police, 
concentration on the Malays as the recruitment popula- 
tion of the police and a rejection of the Klings, and the 
introduction of Sikhs. 

The Government, as usual, cogitated long over this 
Report, so that Major Dunlop, in his report for the year 
1880, said that the delay in giving effect to the recom- 
mendations had brought the force to a lower state than 
he had ever known. " Many years must elapse before 
the evil effects of this delay must pass away," he wrote, 
and also the Government inaction presented " a disas- 
trous check to local recruiting." 


In 1 88 1, however, a move was made, police schools 
were started, the police were relieved from the duty of 
keeping order in the Magistrates' Courts and serving 
summonses and process, which latter duties were en- 
trusted to peons under ushers responsible to the 
Magistrates, Chinese interpreters were appointed to the 
most important divisions in Singapore, and the Inspec- 
tors were arranged in classes. The Inspector-General, 
in his report for this year, stated that " for the first time 
for many years no inspector has been dismissed the 
force." In the next year the improvement was further 
marked, the establishment of good conduct pay having 
materially assisted. 

The year 1881 was a most important year in police 
annals, for two new contingents were introduced, the 
European and the Sikh. On the 25th March two 
inspectors and twenty-one trained European constables 
arrived in the Colony, and on the next day an Assistant 
Superintendent and fifty-four Sikhs arrived from the 
Punjaub, while a further batch arrived in August, and the 
full contingent for Singapore and Penang, 165 of all 
ranks, was complete by November. The Assistant 
Superintendent was Mr. Stevens, who volunteered for 
service in the Straits force and brought the Sikhs from 
the Punjaub ; he was their first officer, and had much 
to do with the success of the experiment. 

The European contingent " came out with exaggerated 
ideas of the value and nature of their appointments, and 
when they came to realise that money was not so valuable 
here as in England, and that they were intended for 
work, not show, they exhibited a considerable amount 
of discontent." However, they soon realised that their 
officer^ were using every endeavour to secure their 
comfort, and so settled down and worked satisfactorily. 
In 1882 Major Dunlop was able to report that the con- 
tingent was proved, and that it had smartened the native 
police up considerably ; but he recommended that their 
pay was insufficient. In 1892 the European contingent 
was reported to be in a mutinous condition : grievances 


over pay as usual, and grievances which were fully 
justified. In 1906 the inspectors were reported as being 
the backbone of the service, and since then the system 
of employing Europeans as constables and sergeants 
has been done away ; they are used only in the higher 

The Sikh contingent proved an immediate success, 
and the service became very popular in the Punjaub. 
In his report for 1881 Major Dunlop said : " I have no 
hesitation in stating that the Sikh contingent will form 
the nucleus of an admirable armed police," and so it 
proved. In 1890 he reported that they were the best 
and most satisfactory contingent in the force, and in 1 894 
a large part of them volunteered and were employed in 
Pahang during the disturbances there. In 1891 and 
1892 the Sikhs were first employed on beat duty, and, 
proving a great success, have been so utilised ever since. 
Finally, it may be recorded with satisfaction that during 
the Mutiny in 191 5 the Sikhs stood fast, and proved 
themselves worthy of their salt. 

In 1886 the new Central Station was occupied ; this is 
the present one. The old one had been reported by 
Major Dunlop as in a ruinous condition, and full of vermin. 
In 1902 the administration block of buildings was pulled 
down, and the offices were moved to temporary buildings 
on Hong Lim Green, at the back of the Police Courts. 
In 1905 the present police offices were completed and 

Towards the end of 1888 another Police Commission 
was appointed to enquire into the causes of the difficulty 
in recruiting for the native police force. The Com- 
missioners were General Sir Charles Warren, G.C.M.G., 
the Honourable Mr. William Adamson, and Mr. Justice 
Goldney. As a consequence of their recommendations, 
a new scale of pay was introduced in 1 890 for the Sikh 
and native contingents. 

The Commission reported also in favour of employing 
more Chinese ; at the time of its meetings there were 
six Chinese constables at Kreta Ayer and a few employed 


in the Detective Department. In 1890, therefore, a 
fresh departure was "made by bringing down twenty-five 
Chinese constables from Hongkong, and a second batch 
in the next year. They were a disastrous failure, as many 
of them were found to be of the Hongkong criminal 
classes ! The venture ended in entire failure, and it was 
not until 1902 that an experiment was made again with 
Chinese. Plain-clothes constables were appointed, and 
proved a success. There are Chinese in the force at this 
date doing well as sub-inspectors, detectives, and 
uniformed constables. 

Colonel Dunlop was succeeded as Inspector-General 
by Mr. Robert Walter Maxwell, third son of Sir Peter 
Benson Maxwell, the Chief Justice, whose secretary he 
was from 1869 to 1871, when he joined the police. Mr. 
Maxwell had acted as Inspector-General on several 
occasions prior to his appointment in 1891. He was a 
very good officer, but unfortunately had to retire owing 
to ill-health in August 1894, dying in England in 1895. 

In 1 89 1, as a result of the report of the Commission 
of 1 888, the duties of the Inspector-General were changed 
from executive to administrative, and the Chief Police 
Officer became the head of the executive. At first the 
Inspector-General was given a room in the Government 
Offices, and though he was put in direct telephonic 
communication with the Central Station, this was found 
to be a bad arrangement, so he moved over to the Central, 
where his offices have been ever since. 

Mr. Maxwell was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Pennefather, who was appointed in 1895, and who had 
previously served in the Inniskilhng Dragoons. He had 
had no police experience, and always remained the 
military officer rather than the policeman. He retired 
in 1905. 

In 1897 a detachment of Malay pohce went home for 
the Diamond Jubilee, and were attached to the Malay 
States Guides under Lieutenant-Colonel R. S. F. Walker. 

Previous to 1904 appointments as officers in the force 
were made by transfers of officers from other Colonial 


police forces, and by nomination of gentlemen by the 
Colonial Office ; but in 1904 a new syStem was introduced, 
the Police Probationer system. Entrance to the com- 
missioned ranks in our police is now gained only after 
examination and probation. Many of the probationers 
are sent to China to study Chinese, a most necessary 
qualification in a place where the vast majority of the 
criminal classes are Chinese. The new system of 
appointing officers has proved a great success, and the 
type of officer that now comes to our force should ensure 
its future. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Pennefather was succeeded, in 
1 90 5) by Captain William Andrew Cuscaden, I.S.O.,who 
was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was 
senior sophister, and who served in the 4th Royal Dublin 
Fusiliers, in which battalion he was Instructor of Mus- 
ketry. He entered the Gold Coast Constabulary in 1 879, 
became Assistant District Commissioner at Lagos in 
1880, receiving the thanks of Government for organising 
native levees and raising a force of 6,000 men. In 1883 
he was appointed Chief Inspector of the Straits Force, 
and the next year Assistant Superintendent of Police. 
" Tim," as he was always called, was a most genial 
Irishman, very popular socially, and a successful police 
officer. He was a huge man, and had played Rugby 
football for Ireland, but like most big, powerful men, was 
very kind-hearted. He dearly loved an Irishman 
naturally, and while he was here the Police Courts rang 
with the brogue, for nearly all his recruits came from the 
Royal Irish Constabulary. He retired in 1913, and when 
the War broke out resumed his old position of Instructor 
of Musketry, in which he did most useful work, helping in 
the training of the new battalions. One of his sons is now 
Chief Police Officer in Johore. 

In 1906 the Malacca depot for training Malay police 
was started under Inspector Tyrrell, and has done very 
useful work. This inspector performed valuable ser- 
vices while he was out here, but he fell sick, and resigned 
in 1908. 


■ 256] 


In 1 9 14 the present Inspector-General was appointed, 
the Hon. Mr. A. R. Chancellor, and under him the police 
have flourished. He has had the unique honour of being 
appointed to the Legislative Council, the first Inspector- 
General to be so appointed. 

The writer is glad to pay a tribute to the police of 
Singapore after thirteen years' experience of them and 
their work in the Police Courts. Despite the poor con- 
ditions of the service, the inspectors are a capable, hard- 
working, and honest set of men, and one only hopes that 
the future will see such all-round increases in pay and 
pensions as will make the force one an appointment in 
which is sought after. 

Considering the time that the force has been in 
existence and the good work that many of its members 
have put in, it has been much neglected in the bestowal 
of honours. Mr. Dunman received a sword of honour, 
as we have seen, but no decoration. In 1847 Constable 
Simonides received a gold medal for having suppressed 
1 1 1 gambling dens in ten months. Major Dunlop 
received the C.M.G. and Captain Cuscaden the I.S.O. 
and the King's Police Medal. Mr. Van der Beck received 
the I.S.O. for his services as Financial Assistant, and 
retired in 191 2 after 41 years' service, a magnificent 
record. Imperial Service Medals have been won by 
Sergeant-Majors Bololoh and Puteh, each with forty 
years' service. King's Police Medals have been won 
by constables Salabad Khan and Mohamed Ali bin 
Nabi, both for bravery. The circumstances are such, 
that a record of these deeds of bravery cannot be 
omitted ; they were acts that the whole force and the 
public may well be proud of. 

At 9 p.m. on the 21st July 1914, P.C. 154, Mohamed 
Ali bin Nabi, was on duty in Hailam Street when he heard 
the sound of fighting in Bugis Street near by. He 
proceeded in the direction, and saw a Malay sailor named 
Mahmud bin Hitam fighting with another. He arrested 
Mahmud, when the latter's comrade Ismail came up 
and rescued him, both running off, followed by P.C. 1 54. 
I— 18 


Mahmud, after a little, turned, and drawing a knife, tried 
to stab the constable in his chest ; but the latter succeeded 
in warding off the blow, getting his hand severely cut in 
doing so. The constable then took a cane from a man 
seUing them near by, and again approached the two 
sailors, whereupon Ismail came up and knocked him 
down with a blow on the jaw from his fist, and as the 
constable lay on the ground he was stabbed by Mahmud 
in the left shoulder, after which Mahmud ran off. The 
constable could not now use his left hand or arm ; but he 
gave chase, and, coming up with Mahmud, brought him 
down with his cane, which he then dropped and seized 
Mahmud's hand, grasping the knife. This, however, 
Mahmud managed to slip to his other hand, and got home 
a stab on the constable's back, which caused him to let 
go. The chase then began again, and the constable once 
more came up with Mahmud. Both men rolled over on 
the ground together, Mahmud stabbing furiously at his 
captor, who could use only one hand. In all probability 
the constable would have been stabbed to death, had not 
Mr. Goodman, of the Chinese Protectorate, come to his 
assistance, as well as a Lance-Corporal of the K.O.Y.L.I., 
who knocked the knife from Mahmud's hand. Another 
Lance-Corporal of the same regiment and a civilian also 
came up, and Mahmud was arrested. The constable was 
wounded in six places, but made a marvellous recovery. 

At 8.30 p.m. on the 8th June 1916, a Cantonese named 
Koh Yeow Swee was stabbed to death in Pagoda Street 
by two other Cantonese named Lam Chai and Ah Sap. 
This was the culmination of trouble which had been 
brewing between a lot of hew workmen employed by a 
goldsmith in South Bridge Road and the old lot of men 
whose places had been taken by the new ones. The 
men above-named met as they were heading two gangs 
which had collected to fight the matter out. Following 
the murder, a free fight started between the two gangs, 
who were armed with knives and iron bolts. The police 
were quickly on the scene. Amongst the first arrivals 
was P.C. 281, Ali, of the Central Station. He attempted 


to arrest one of the Chinese, who struck him several times 
with an iron bolt, besides which the constable received 
some stab wounds ;,but he managed to hold his prisoner 
until assistance came. Police reinforcements arrived, 
and many of the rioters dashed into Wayang Street, 
where they continued to fight. P.C. 292, Salabad Khan, 
was alone on beat duty in Wayang Street, but he went 
straight into the fight, and attempted to arrest one Lim 
Ah Wah, who was armed with a long knife. The 
constable pursued Lim Ah Wah for some distance, when 
the latter turned suddenly and stabbed the constable 
in the chest below the left collar-bone. The constable, 
however, closed with his assailant, whose arms he 
managed to pin to his side. During the struggle that 
ensued Salabad Khan received two more stab-wounds, 
but still held his prisoner, though weak from loss of blood. 
Assistance eventually arrived, and Lim Ah Wah was 
secured. Salabad Khan reached hospital in a state of 
collapse, and was not expected to live, but he made a 
marvellous recovery, fortunately. 

Detection and Registration of Criminals 

The detection of crime is, of course, a matter of 
supreme importance to any community. We have seen 
how the Police Commission of 1879 reported favourably 
on the detective branch of the police force, and since then, 
naturally, vast improvements have been made. 

In 1889 Detective-Inspector Richards, who may 
almost be described as the father of our detective force, 
took his pension, after twenty-nine years' service ; his 
retirement was a great loss to the force, but his successor, 
Inspector Porteous, proved every bit as capable. 

In 1884 the detective force had been organised under 
Inspectors Holmyard and Richards as a separate depart- 
ment, and was mentioned in that year for its good work. 
In 1899 Chief Inspector Perrett, of the MetropoHtan 
Police Force, was appointed to Singapore. It was a 
new appointment, and its object was to make the super- 
vision of known criminals systematic. This is an ex- 


ceedingly important branch of police work, and the extent 
to which the detective forces in Europe rely upon it is 
very great . Criminals have a habit of always committing 
the same type of crime, so that when, for instance, a safe- 
robbery occurs, the police turn up their record of known 
safe-robbers, find out which are out of gaol, hunt them 
up, trace their movements at the date of the crime, and 
generally arrive at a discovery of the criminal. 

In 1 90 1 a Criminal Registration Department was 
started, with Chief Detective-Inspector Perrett in charge. 
He got the work well in hand, and in 1902 the finger- 
print system was studied, and introduced in the next 
year, in which the Inspector-General was able to report 
that both it and the registration of criminals were in 
thorough working order. Chief Detective-Inspector 
Perrett was promoted to Assistant Superintendent in 
1907, since when he has retired. He was a very capable 
officer, with a very pleasant manner in Court, where he 
conducted his prosecutions with skill. 

The success of the finger-print system in Singapore 
was largely due to Sergeant Flak, who was responsible 
to a great extent for the system of registering them. 
He retired, became a planter, and then went to New 
York, where he entered the finger-print department, and 
revised the system there throughout. 

In 1902 the Criminal Procedure Code was brought into 
operation, and by it a great and beneficial change was 
introduced in the investigation of crime by giving the 
police proper powers of summoning witnesses and taking 
statements from them compulsorily. Mr. J. R. Innes, 
C.M.G., was appointed the first Deputy Public Prose- 
cutor, and was of the greatest assistance in facilitating 
the work under the Code ; indeed, without his help its 
novel provisions could hardly have been made intel- 
ligible to the force. Mr. Innes was Acting Chief Judicial 
Commissioner of the Federated Malay States when he 
retired in 1919. 

In 1904 the Detective Department was reorganised, 
and the new post of Chinese Sub-Inspector was created, 


Mr. Tay Kim Swee being appointed. He resigned 
fairly recently, and is now clerk to a firm of lawyers. 

In 19 10 a central finger-print registry was started at 
Kuala Lumpur and placed under an expert. This was a 
wise move, as the interchange between the Colony and 
the States, each having its separate registry, led to delay 
and confusion. 

The great value of the finger-print system was illus- 
trated in 1 9 1 2 by Chief Detective-Inspector Taylor, in the 
New Bridge Road gang robbery case, which will be 
noticed later. 

Mr. Taylor is without doubt the finest detective we 
have had out here, and the public owed him a great debt 
of gratitude while he was in charge of the Detective 
Department. Originally in the Army as a gymnastic 
instructor, he joined the Metropolitan Police Force, 
from which he went into the Railway Police as a detective, 
and this proved a fine training-ground for his service 
in Singapore. In the Johore Piracy case of 1909, which 
is mentioned in the article on " Law and the Lawyers," 
he put in some very clever work ; in 191 2 he routed out 
the foreign pimps and bullies who lived on the proceeds 
of prostitution, and in that year broke up Mah Tow 
Kuan's most dangerous gang of robbers, referred to later 
in this article. One of Mr. Taylor's smartest bits of 
work occurred when a robbery at a foreign firm of pearl 
merchants had resulted in the removal of a whole season's 
catch. Consternation ensued ; but the police went at it 
all through the night, so that the next morning Mr. 
Taylor was able to report thirty-six arrests and the 
recovery of every one of the pearls ! In 1 914 Mr. Taylor 
was appointed head of the Preventive Service of the 
Government Monopolies in succession to Mr. Howard, 
who had done yeoman service there, and also as Chief 
Inspector. Mr. Taylor's departure was a great loss to 
the police force, to which it is hoped he will return when 
the Criminal Investigation Department starts in earnest. 

The formation of this department is essential, and its 
absence during the Mutiny and the War generally must 


have been felt severely ; it resulted, at all events, in 
Fort Canning having to perform duties that belonged 
more properly to a Criminal Investigation Department. 

In 1901 the estabhshment of a C.I.D., as it is usually 
called, was first advocated. The present Inspector- 
General has been working for long on a scheme, which is 
now to come into operation. 

A Criminal Intelligence Branch is to be organised, and 
housed, it is hoped, in a fine new administrative block 
to be erected on the corner now occupied by boarding 
officers' quarters at the junction of Cecil Street and 
Robinson Road, near the Detective Station. In this 
same building the Criminal Investigation Department 
will be housed, under an Assistant Superintendent and 
four inspectors, with a staff of detectives, on considerably 
higher rates of pay than the uniform branch so as to 
attract a good class of man. The department is to be 
divided into five branches : (a) Criminal Investigation, 
(b) Banishment and Deportations, (c) Police Gazette, 

(d) Criminal Museum for instructional purposes, and 

(e) Photography. 

In the near future it is hoped to start a police depot 
for the systematic training of the future members of the 
force, which will supersede the present archaic and 
inefficient methods. 

If these reforms come into being, the Settlement will 
owe a great debt of gratitude to the energy and foresight 
of its present Inspector-General. They are essential 
reforms, as anyone engaged in criminal practice at the 
Bar will say at once, and they should not be hampered by 
that parsimony which has for so long blocked the way 
of police reform. 

Notable Crimes 

So far as the statistics of crime go in Singapore, they 
show it to be far above any town of its size in Europe ; but 
how far these statistics are really reliable is a matter into 
which it is not proposed to go here. The Government 
possesses one very powerful and most necessary deterrent, 


banishment; but this applies only to aliens, and not to 
British subjects. 

The power of banishment was first conferred on the 
Government by an Indian Act of 1864; the present 
powers are contained in the Banishment Ordinance of 
1888, by virtue of which any alien may be banished if it 
appears to the Governor-in-Council that his presence in 
the Colony is inconsistent with the public safety or 
public welfare, and if the person whom it is proposed to 
banish claims to be a British subject, the burden of 
proving that fact lies on him. The power rests in the 
sole discretion of the Executive Council, and the Supreme 
Court has held that it cannot interfere in any way what- 
soever. As Sir Walter Napier wrote in an article in the 
Straits Chinese Magazine in 1 899, " that a man may, if he 
be an alien whose presence in the Colony is considered 
undesirable, be summoned before the Executive Council, 
deprived of the assistance of Counsel, and tried by a 
Court every member of which is sworn to secrecy, 
irresistibly reminds one of the Star Chamber and of 
Courts Martial in France." Agitations against the 
Ordinance have often been engineered ; but it is an 
essential one for the good government of the Colony, 
and there is not the slightest reason to suspect that the 
powers have ever been abused. 

The orderliness of large crowds of mixed races in 
Singapore have frequently been a matter of comment 
and surprise. Thus in the Pohce Report for 1887, the 
Jubilee year, the Inspector-General observed that " the 
enthusiasm evolved by its celebration amongst the 
Chinese and Malay and Tamil communities was most 
remarkable, and the peace and good order maintained by 
the immense crowds collected in the towns of the Colony 
showed how genuine the rejoicings were and how very 
contented our mixed population is." Similarly, the 
remarkable absence of crime during the Diamond Jubilee 
celebrations was noted in the Report for 1897 ! and 
recently the Centenary Celebrations, which caused an 
enormous concourse of people at the Race Course, 


were marked by a total absence of drunkenness and 

The most frequent type of crime in Singapore is 
against property, and of it gambling is the father and 
the mother. Gambling is one of the curses of the Colony ; 
it is the cause of the greatest distress and misery, too 
often because of the appeal which gambling makes to 
Chinese women. It is always rife in Singapore ; but at 
times there are gigantic outbursts, that force public 
attention upon it. The Gambling Suppression Depart- 
ment does its best ; but if gambling is to be really 
suppressed, the Department must be reorganised and 
enlarged, and a vigorous campaign must be instituted 
against the owners (and "not merely the occupiers) of 
common gaming-houses, most of which are well known to 
the police. A reliance on informers such as is now the 
case is merely futile, and plays into the hands of these 
people, who are well known to levy toll from the gaming- 
houses in return for not informing. 

At first gambling was permitted by the Government 
under licence; but in 1823 Raffles asked the opinions of 
the Magistrates about the desirability of such licences, 
and they unanimously represented their great and 
growing evils ; so the system was abolished and public 
gaming prohibited. The evils of gaming were thus 
recognised within the first four years of the Settlement's 

It was alleged, in support of the gambling farm, that 
by putting it under regulations the quantity of vice was 
diminished ; but Raffles said that independently of the 
want of authority in any Government to countenance evil 
fof the sake of good, he could not admit that the effects of 
any regulation whatever, established on such a principle, 
could be put in competition with the solid advantages 
which must accrue from the administration of a govern- 
ment acting on strict moral principles, discountenancing 
vice, and exercising its best efforts to repress it. 

It is not merely a matter of ethics or morals that 
gambling should be stopped, nor does the mischief lie 


in the fact that the pubhc are cheated by the gambhng 
proprietors, for as a matter of fact they very rarely are. 
The real mischief lies in the fact that gambling is an 
inherent vice with the Chinese and the Malay, and that 
too great indulgence in it almost invariably leads to 
crime. There are hundreds of well-known cases of 
prosperous chops [firms] being ruined by it, estates 
dissipated, and employees embezzling their employer's . 
property, while robbery and theft are too often the 
result of serious gambling losses and consequent im- 

In 1870 the Chinese petitioned Government for the 
suppression of the Wha Whey Lotteries, then wide-spread 
all over the town. The petition stated that " this gam- 
ing has an irresistible allurement to silly poor natives to 
rush headlong into it," and it referred to the consequent 
crime and ruination of both sexes. As a consequence 
the Gaming Ordinance of 1870 was passed in exceed- 
ingly strict terms. 

In 1886 things were so bad that a Commission of 
Enquiry was appointed, and in consequence of their 
report the present very strict Ordinance of 1888 was 
passed. The Gambling Suppression Department was 
instituted in 1889 to carry out its provisions. 

As has been said, every now and then there comes a 
great outbreak of gambling in Singapore. In 1893 the 
great Wei Seng lotteries were held all over the town in 
defiance of the law, and were stopped only by the 
banishment of some of the most influential gamblers. 
This is a form of lottery of which one never hears at this 
date ; another form that has gone out is the Wha Whey, 
which with the Wei Seng seems to have lost all popularity 
since 1903. 

The last outburst of gaming occurred in 191 6, when 
the Johore Gambling Farm was still in existence. The 
trains to Johore were crowded, and huge lotteries were 
held in Singapore, decided by the Johore declarations. 
So widespread was this wave that lotteries were actually 
discovered to be held by the employees of a big European 


bank and a big European firm, the tickets being sold on 
the premises, though, of course, on the sly and without 
the knowledge of the employers, while a most flourishing 
lottery was conducted in the Marine Police Station until 
discovered by the Inspector in charge ! There was also 
at least one murder traced directly to Chap Ji Ki. 

Singapore is on the whole singularly free from serious 
crime ; but every now and then it is startled by daring 
crimes, and it may be interesting to note shortly a few 
of the more serious cases. 

On the 31st March 1887 persons residing next to 
No. 70 North Bridge Road, a coffee-shop, complained 
to the police of ill-odours arising from the house. The 
police broke it open, and found that the occupant, a 
Russian Jewess named Sally Rosenburg, had been 
murdered, and her body thrown into the well. ' Three 
days previously a man named Sigismund Grabowski had 
been found wandering about at New Harbour Dock 
almost without clothing ; he stated that an attempt had 
been made to drown him. He was sent to hospital, and 
discharged on the day the murder was discovered ; but 
as the police found that he had been seen recently in 
company with the deceased woman, he was arrested and 
charged with her murder. After very great efforts to 
obtain evidence — efforts which extended to the bringing 
of evidence from Japan — he was duly convicted ; the 
sentence to death, however, was commuted to penal 
servitude for life. This was a particularly brutal murder, 
for the murderer first strangled the woman, then battered 
her head with an iron bolt, dragged her downstairs, and 
threw her into the well. The principal piece of evidence 
against him was his hat, which fell into the well, and 
which he forgot to take out of it. The cause of the 
crime seems to have been jealousy. 

During the course of the trial of Grabowski there was 
some reference to the premises being bewitched, and it 
is an extraordinary fact that two more murders took 
place at those same premises, the last being the " Globe 
Hotel Murders," as they were called. 


About eight years after the first murder another 
Russian Jewess, who also kept a coffee-shop at 70 North 
Bridge Road, was murdered by strangulation. She was 
found dead some days after the murder, and the culprit 
was never discovered. 

In 191 8 a third Russian Jewess, Mrs. Sally Liebmann, 
proprietress of the Globe Hotel, as 70 North Bridge 
Road was now called, was murdered by a Chinese servant. 
She was first strangled, and then beaten about the head 
with an iron bolt. The murderer dlso killed an old 
lodger named Landau. The object of the murder was 
robbery, but the servant took singularly little. He was 
duly hanged. One wonders whether any other house in 
the world can have been the scene of such extraordinary 
coincidences as were shown by these three murders. 

The last murder brought up again the question of 
registering domestic servants. In 1886 a petition was 
sent to Government for this purpose, signed by all the 
best-known inhabitants and firms. A Bill was prepared, 
but the Hailam Kongsi agitated so hard that Govern- 
ment dropped it. In 1893 the Inspector-General, in his 
report, advocated it owing to the many thefts by Hailams 
in Singapore. " At present," he wrote, and it is just as 
true to-day, " certificates of characters are handed over 
by one servant to another, and so long as a man does his 
work well, no questions are asked by his master." In 
189s there was an outbreak of burglaries in Tanglin ; 
in one week only no less than four European houses were 
rifled. The servants were considered by the police to be 
at the bottom of nearly all these burglaries, and com- 
pulsory registration was again advocated. In 1904 the 
Police Report again stated that the Hailams were re- 
sponsible for most of the thefts in European houses. In 
1907 no less than eighty Hailam servants were sent to 
gaol. Recently an Ordinance providing for compulsory 
registration was passed, but Government has not yet 
brought it into force, although the case for registration 
is overwhelming. 

From the end of 1901 until April 1902 there was an 


outbreak of thefts and burglaries in Tanglin, which cul- 
minated in the shocking murder of Mr. George Ruther- 
ford, manager of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company. 
On the morning of the loth April burglars broke into his 
residence at Ardmore. Their entrance awoke one of the 
inmates, and the alarm was given by a lady, who was 
immediately attacked by one of the burglars with a knife, 
and was wounded several times. Mr. Rutherford was 
just entering the room when the burglars rushed out 
past him. He endeavoured to grapple with one of them, 
and was stabbed in the abdomen, the wound proving 
fatal within a few hours. The burglars then made their 
escape ; but enquiries were made by the poHce, with the 
result that three Cantonese were arrested ; two of them 
were hanged, and the third died in gaol at Penang, while- 
serving a long term of imprisonment. Inspectors 
Brennan and Howard did fine work in breaking up the 
gangs of burglars in 1902 ; the latter retired as head of 
the Government Preventive Service. 

Perhaps the most daring murder that has ever occurred 
in Singapore was the Pasir Panjang murder in 191 1. 
The deceased was a Chinese Towkay, who lived in a bun- 
galow at Pasir Panjang, and he was murdered by three 
men, who showed the greatest daring. They first cut the 
telephone wires from the house so as to prevent com- 
munication with the police ; then wearing masks they 
walked into the house, enquired of the persons sitting in 
the front room which of them was the Towkay, and on 
being informed shot him dead, after which tliey made 
their escape. The only clue was a straw hat, and as the 
bungalow was some way from the nearest police station, 
it was some time before the police could get to work. 
However, within forty-eight hours they got on the track 
of the murderers, and then began a most exciting chase. 
The three men were tracked into the country, and thence 
to the Serangoon River, where it was found that they 
had taken a boat to Johore. They were then tracked 
through Johore, and right up the east coast to Bangkok, 
where two were arrested. The third escaped to Hong- 


kong, with the police still hot on his track, and thence 
to Macao, from which place there is no extradition. All 
sorts of ruses were employed to entice him into British 
territory, but they were unsuccessful. It was, however, 
ascertained that he joined a band of Chinese rebels, 
and was killed during a looting expedition. This case 
reflects the highest credit on Chief Detective-Inspector 
Nolan, who had charge of it, and Sergeant Ah Chong, 
who tracked the miscreants, particularly when it is 
remembered that most of the ground over which the 
murderers were tracked was jungle. 

The detective force has been fortunate in possessing 
three very fine Chinese detectives. Sergeants Ah Chong, 
Hup Choon, and Ah Piew ; their nominal rolls (on which 
are recorded the various cases with which they have been 
concerned) are such as any Scotland Yard man might be 
proud of. 

The Pasir Panjang murder was not the only case in 
which Sergeant Ah Chong distinguished himself. He 
had much to do with the dispersal of a very desperate 
gang of Cantonese robbers that gave great trouble in 
191 2. This gang was responsible in that year for the 
gang robbery at 141 New Bridge Road, a spirit-shop 
near the Railway Crossing. The leader of the gang was 
a most desperate criminal, Mah Tow Kuan, who had been 
banished for gang robbery in the Federated Malay States, 
and of whom more will be said later. The gang entered 
the shop at about 8 p.m., and called for drinks, which were 
served. At a given signal they closed the door, and 
threatened the bar attendants with knives and revolvers. 
Then, having collected all the property upon which they 
could lay their hands, they left the house, going along 
New Bridge Road, firing as they ran. The alarm once 
given, the robbers were followed by a number of persons, 
amongst others by one of the shop assistants, who was 
fatally stabbed by one of the gang. 

In the meantime some European police and warders, 
hearing the report of fire-arms near their quarters at 
Pearl's Hill, appeared on the scene, and arrested one of 


the robbers ; the native poHce arrested two more, and 
shortly afterwards a fourth was captured. Later still 
four men were caught. Out of the eight one was hanged, 
one got a life sentence, two fourteen years, and two ten 
years ; the rest were acquitted of this crime, but sen- 
tenced for other gang robberies. Two of those first 
arrested had previous convictions for highway robbery 
at Taipeng. 

This was the most daring robbery ever committed in 
Singapore, and it was fortunate that swift punishment 
overtook the criminals. The drinks had led to their 
undoing, for Inspector Taylor carefully preserved the 
glasses, took the finger-print impressions on them, and 
so fixed the guilt upon the criminals. The case is prob- 
ably a world's record, owing to the number of convictions 
obtained by means of finger-prints only. 

The final disruption of this gang is also a very exciting 
story. The police discovered that they were in the habit 
of visiting a certain low resort in Chinatown, and Sergeant 
Ah Chong was instructed to have it watched. He put 
two police touts on to this duty, and one evening they 
saw three of the gang arrive. They both went off^ to find 
Ah Chong ; but while they were away five more of the 
gang entered the house, so that when Ah Chong returned 
there were eight men to tackle, a fact of which he was 
unaware. He was accompanied by one of the touts, and 
a very powerful and active detective, who has since made 
a name for himself, and is now a sergeant in Malacca. 
The gang were always armed, and had never hesitated to 
fire on their pursuers, but although this was known to 
them. Ah Chong and his companions went upstairs to 
arrest the robbers. The first man to step into the room 
was the detective, and he discovered eight men and a 
woman in it. The eight men were all armed with 
revolvers and knives, which they at once produced. 
Seeing what was in the wind Ah Chong and the police 
tout at once made their escape from the house, the 
former going off to summon the police, and the latter 
staying to watch the house. While the gang were 


questioning the detective, one of them stood in the door- 
way of the room with his legs apart, guarding the exit. 
Another of them suggested that the detective had better 
be killed, and at that moment the woman sprang on his 
back. He immediately bent down and shot her over his 
head ; then he slipped through the legs of the man at the 
door, throwing him over at the same time, and dashed 
out of the house, after which he and the tout closed and 
barred the front door. The eight robbers then took to 
the roof, and the police coming up, a cordon was drawn 
round the house, but not before some of the gang escaped. 
An all-night chase over the roofs followed, in which 
Captain Chancellor and Inspectors Taylor and Sheedy 
and others took part. Several of the gang were caught, 
one attempting suicide, but the leader, Mah Tow Kuan, 
escaped. Many attempts were made to capture this 
man in Singapore without success, but he was finally run 
to earth in Java, extradited, and punished. During the 
midnight chase across the roofs it appears that he was 
concealed in a dark spot near which Inspector Taylor 
came several times, but without seeing him. When he 
was brought before the Inspector after his extradition, he 
said : " Is this the Tuan who came near me that night? 
It is lucky he did not find me, for I had him covered with 
two revolvers the whole time." Members of the gang 
said that on occasions Mah Tow Kuan had executed 
traitors and others to preserve discipline. This man 
had a most extraordinary head, very flat looked at full 
face, a very narrow, high forehead, and the back of the 
head projecting so that it looked like that of a woman 
with her hair done up at the back. His head accounted 
for his name, since Mah Tow means a bean, and the shape 
of the head was not unlike a bean. 

One of Sergeant Hup Choon's best bits of work was 
when he and Sergeant Bachee (commonly known as the 
hanlu or ghost) went along the Dutch coast as private 
individuals to look for the boat in which the Johore 
pirates of 1909 committed their depredation. They 
eventually discovered it, jammed on a rock and water- 


logged. It was floated with barrels tied on to keep it 
up, and Bachee and another Malay brought it to 
Singapore, after a very rough voyage, in the course of 
which Bachee said he " died several times " ! This is 
a good instance of police thoroughness, for the boat was, 
of course, a most necessary piece of evidence. 

There was at one time a big outbreak of godown 
burglaries in town. They were engineered by a very 
clever gang of Chinese, which was broken up largely 
through the instrumentality of Detective-Sergeant Ah 
Piew. At first two men were caught and convicted ; but 
on the very night after their conviction Sergeant Ah 
Piew captured the two ringleaders, who were in a private 
rikisha. He tied their queues together, and walked along 
behind the rikisha, which he ordered to proceed slowly to 
the nearest station. One of the two burglars had a 
small pocket-knife, and with it he cut apart the queues 
of himself and his companion. On entering a dark street 
where no one was moving about, the burglars and the 
rikisha-puller then turned on the detective, and a struggle 
ensued for twenty minutes, in which the detective was 
stabbed all over the body and the burglars escaped. 

Sergeant Ah Piew was a very fine detective, with 
plenty of initiative. On one occasion a murder occurred 
at Ann Siang Hill, and the murderer got away. Ah 
Piew was put on to the case ; but the very same day he 
disappeared, and as days went by and no news could be 
got of him, he was thought to be dead. About three 
weeks after, however, he walked up the steps of the 
Detective Station in a very ragged and famished con- 
dition, together with a Chinese in an even worse condition 
than himself. When asked where he had been, it appeared 
that he had got on to the track of the murderer, and 
followed him across the sea and into certain foreign 
territory near Singapore, where he managed to catch him 
and bring him back. . On another occasion Ah Piew in a 
similar way tracked a culprit right through the Federated 
Malay States, and managed to capture him and bring 
him back. The native police do not usually show initia- 


tive, and Ah Piew was much missed when he retired ; 
he is now dead. 

The most celebrated robbery that has ever occurred in 
Singapore was the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank case 
in 1901, when $270,000 in notes were stolen out of the 
bank safe and a mighty sensation caused. The crime was 
committed between Saturday the 25 th May and Tuesday 
the 28th, Monday having been a public holiday. Some 
months prior to the robbery the duplicate keys of the 
safe had been stolen from another bank where they were 
kept ; these keys the thieves had evidently obtained, for 
the safe had not been broken open. Enquiries were 
made and fourteen Tamils were arrested, $7,000 being 
found in several places. Later on information was 
received that a suspicious telegram had been sent to 
Colombo by one of the persons arrested, and this clue 
being followed up, $257,000 were recovered. The head 
tamby of the bank and others were convicted ; they 
had removed the notes in a portmanteau, and then packed 
them up and forwarded them to Ceylon by the French 
Mail. Chief Inspector Jennings had much to do with 
the successful issue. He had retired from the police at 
the time, but was retained by the bank to assist the 
regular authorities. The case had a sequel, for the 
accused charged some of the police with maltreating 
them to extract confessions, but after a trial at the 
Assizes all the police so charged were acquitted. 

Burglary and house-breaking are amongst the com- 
moner of crimes in Singapore, which has had its Charles 
Peace. During the last quarter of 1907 an epidemic of 
burglaries broke out in Tanglin, and continued until a 
Chinese named Lim Koon Kee was arrested in Grange 
Road at four in the morning on the 7th January 1908. 
On his person were found a silver watch, the property of 
an officer at Pulo Brani, and a gold pin and studs, which 
had been stolen from the Officers' Mess there. Further 
enquiries were made, and the lodging occupied by his 
wife was searched, where a great quantity of stolen 
property was found. His success was the fruit of 
I— 19 


individual cunning and daring. Local experience shows 
that burglars work in couples, but Lim Koon Kee, like 
Charles Peace, preferred to work alone, and, like that 
great burglar, was a mild-looking individual of respectable 
appearance. He was put away for a long term and 
released at its conclusion, whereupon another epidemic 
of burglaries broke out, and continued until he was again 

Coining and forgery are very common crimes, and 
hardly an Assize goes by without one or two cases. In 
1898 the Far East was saved from a flood of forged notes 
by the arrest in Singapore of two Germans named Grosse 
and Schultz, passengers to Hongkong by the German 
Mail. They tried to buy 500 sovereigns from a Tamil 
money-changer in return for notes of the Hongkong and 
Shanghai Bank. The money-changer had actually 
parted with £236 in gold when he became suspicious, 
and by means of a trick got Grosse to go with him to 
the bank, where the notes were pronounced to be 
forgeries. The police were called in, the steamer 
was searched, and counterfeit notes to the extent of 
$221,015, besides instruments for forging more, were 
found in the possession of the Germans, who were 
arrested and received long sentences. Letters were 
found in their boxes which showed that the forgeries had 
been carried out in Cologne. 

Traffic in deleterious drugs forms another type of 
offence that is fairly common owing to its profitable 
nature. Morphia was introduced into the Colony in 
large quantities in 1906 by some European chemists, 
and administered as an antidote for the opium habit. 
The cure was worse than the disease ; the poorer classes 
found it cheaper, and a roaring trade was done. The 
Opium Farmer, to protect himself, began importing the 
drug, but Government stepped in and prohibited him. 
Stringent legislation was passed, and the sale of delete- 
rious drugs save under a licence became heavily punish- 

Offences against the Revenue are, of course, very 


common. A large smuggling business in chandu is run 
by Hailams,but it is chiefly for transhipment to Australia. 
They employ agents of every nationaHty,even Europeans, 
and the devices used are very ingenious ; but our pre- 
ventive service is very smart, and the penalties inflicted 
are very heavy. Amongst places utilised for the conceal- 
ment of chandu may be mentioned the soles of shoes, 
the wooden framework of deck-chairs, false bottoms to 
buckets and boxes and cooking utensils, vegetables and 
fruit, bicycle tyres and bedstead frames. Finally it may 
be remarked that there is a singular absence of sexual 

Secret Societies and the Chinese Protectorate 

The Triad Society may be said to be a thing of the past 
in Singapore at this date ; but for years these societies 
played a great part in the life of the place, and no history 
of Singapore could be complete without a notice of them. 

The secret society proper was really a political 
organisation ; they were all branches of the great 
Chinese Secret Society, the Thien-Ti-Hui or Hung 
League. This great Triad Society was established in 
China in the seventeenth century, and had for its object 
the overthrow of the Manchu Dynasty. To belong to it 
in China held a person liable to decapitation, and every 
endeavour was made there to stamp it out. It was 
extraordinary, then, that for many years our Govern- 
ment should countenance it in the Straits. Commencing 
as a purely political movement, the Triad Society soon 
cast a baneful influence over every branch of the 
administration of government in China. In the Straits, 
however, the purely political aspect hardly existed ; 
the secret societies were, in fact, but large friendly 
societies. Every sinkeh (new-comer) joined them on his 
arrival for the assistance and advice which the headman 
could give him. The Chinese are accustomed, or were 
in the past, to lean upon or dread some superior and ever- 
present power in the shape of their Government, clans, 
or village elders, and it was natural, therefore, that the 


ignorant Chinese who came to Singapore in the old days 
should have flocked into the secret societies. In 
addition to these new-comers, most shop-keepers and 
traders were members, in order to receive the protection 
of the society which they joined. 

These societies were good in so far as the headmen 
were the counsellors and protectors of their ignorant 
countrymen, and in so far as they assisted the authorities, 
which they did to a large extent ; in fact, both Mr. 
Pickering, the first Protector of Chinese, and Major 
Dunlop, the Inspector-General of Police, at one time 
advised the necessity for retaining them because other- 
wise the police would often be powerless. They were bad 
in so far as that disputes between rival societies fre- 
quently led to rioting and bloodshed, and they were also 
dangerous to a certain extent for the reason that each 
society, or Hoey, contained a large proportion of lawless 
and unprincipled characters, so that some of them offered 
a degree of protection to criminals when the headmen 
were evilly disposed. As late as 1893 a secret society 
was discovered, called the Sui Lok Peng On, or Broken 
Coffin Society. Its members travelled as passengers 
between Penang, Singapore, and Hongkong, and robbed 
other passengers on the voyage, throwing their rifled 
boxes overboard ; hence the name of the society. In 
1902 another, the Kwong Woh Pit Soi Society, was 
formed by some Cantonese for the purpose of committing 
gang robberies, and had its headquarters in Sago Lane. 

Amongst the first laws enacted in Hongkong was one 
for the suppression of Triad Societies. The Ordinance 
of 1845 described them as " associations having objects 
in view which are incompatible with the maintenance 
of good order and constituted authority and with the 
security of life and property, and aff'ord by means of a 
secret agency increased facilities for the commission of 
crime and for the escape of offenders." 

These words were even more true of Singapore ; but our 
Government was more time-serving, and, looking weakly 
towards the uses of the societies, it shut its eyes to 


their dangers, so that it was not until 1 869 that anything 
was done towards dealing with them, although Grand 
Juries and public meetings had repeatedly urged action. 
In that year the Government legislated for the regis- 
tration and control of the societies, but not for their 
suppression. It acted in consequence of riots having 
taken place in Penang between members of two 
societies there, which resulted in great destruction of 
property and loss of life. The Ordinance carried out 
the recommendations of a Commission of Enquiry 
consisting of Messrs. Braddell, the Attorney-General, 
W. H. Read, Thomas Scott, and F. S. Brown, Members 
of the Legislative Council ; and the operation of the 
Ordinance was entrusted to the police, who carried it out 
very slowly and in a very slipshod fashion. 

There was no European officer in the Straits who was 
a Chinese scholar until 1871, when the late Mr. William 
Alexander Pickering, C.M.G., was first appointed as 
Chinese Interpreter to the Supreme Court. He was one 
of the most remarkable characters who have ever been 
here. He spoke Hok-kien and Cantonese especially 
well, and also Kheh and Teo-chew. In 1877 he was 
appointed to the newly created office of Protector of 
Chinese. His success was instantaneous, and to this day 
the Protectorate is called Pik-ki-lin, the Chinese version 
of his name. The Protectorate opened in that year in a 
Chinese shop-house in North Canal Road ; from there it 
moved to two four-storey shop-houses in Upper Macao 
Street, then to a new shop-house in Boat Quay, and 
finally, in 1886, to its present offices, which were 
specially built for the purpose, in Havelock Road. 

As soon as the Protectorate was started, the registra- 
tion and control of the secret societies were transferred 
to it, and Mr. Pickering soon reduced chaos to order. He 
had under him two student interpreters : Mr. W. Cowan, 
who later became Protector of Chinese in Perak and 
Selangor, and the late Mr. Hoo Wing Chong, who was 
a nephew of the late Mr. H. A. K. Whampoa, C.M.G., 
M.L.C., and was the first Consul for China in Singapore. 


Mr. Pickering gained the most extraordinary influence 
over the Chinese here, and the Protectorate under him 
acquired those traditions that have made it, perhaps, 
the most efficient and beneficial department in the 
Government Service. These traditions have been ably 
fostered and added to by subsequent Protectors, such as 
the late Mr. G. T. Hare, the late Mr. G. C. Wray, the 
late Mr. Warren Barnes, Messrs. C. J. Saunders, Peacock, 
and Beatty, the present Protector. If the police are 
the Government's right arm in suppressing crime, then 
the Protectorate is its very powerful left arm. 

In 1878 Mr. Pickering was able to report that the 
registration of the societies was complete, that the head- 
men had rendered prompt and efficient assistance when- 
ever called on, and that there was a growing disposition 
to refer disputes and quarrels to the Protectorate instead 
of fighting on every occasion. The party in the wrong 
was invariably ordered in serious matters to pay com- 
pensation in money or to apologise to the aggrieved 
party, presenting to him a pair of red Chinese candles 
and a piece of red cloth. At the same time, as a token 
of respect to the Protector, a pair of red candles was 
always presented to him, so that in those days the Pro- 
tectorate always had from twenty to thirty pairs of red 
candles, wrapped in Chinese red paper, hung up on the 
walls of Mr. Pickering's office. The Protectorate to this 
day is just as popular with the Chinese for the settle- 
ment of their disputes, though, of course, many are 
referred to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. 

In 1878 a refuge for Chinese women was established, 
and ever since of all the good work done by the Pro- 
tectorate not the least has been its work in the pro- 
tection of women and girls ; the Poh Leong Keuk Home 
for women was first occupied in 1887, since when it has 
done splendid work. 

Mr. Pickering used to visit the lodges of the societies 
frequently, and often attended the initiation of candi- 
dates. The lodges were run on lines somewhat similar 
to Masonic ones : each lodge had its Master, and all 


combined to form a Grand Lodge with a Toa-Ko or 
Grand Master; but for many years previous to 1876 no 
one had dared to come forward and undertake the 
onerous and responsible duties of that office. Each 
lodge had a substantial Hui-Koan or meeting-house ; 
thus Carpenter Street is still called Ghee Hok Street in 
Chinese, from the fact that the Ghee Hok Society had its 
meeting-place there, and China Street is similarly called 
Ghee Hin Street. The Grand Lodge had a very superior 
building at Rochore, where twice a year the Five 
Ancestors were worshipped, and feasts with theatricals 
held in their honour. 

In 1879 the Police Commission went into the question 
of suppressing the secret societies, and reported against 
the expediency of Government using the societies for 
assistance in keeping order and arresting criminals, which 
they said was only bolstering up the waning influence of 
the headmen and office-bearers ; but nothing was done 
until a brutal assault on Mr. Pickering by a member of 
the Ghee Hok Society, in 1887, brought the question 
vividly to the front again. This attempt on Mr. Picker- 
ing's life was considered to be due to his action in getting 
the Gambling Commission appointed with a view to 
suppressing the gambling then very rife in the town. 
The criminal, a samseng (hired bully) named Choa Ah 
Siok, went to the Protectorate with the head of an axe 
hidden in his sleeve. On arriving before the Protector, 
he hurled this weapon at Mr. Pickering's head. For- 
tunately only a glancing blow was the result, but the blow 
caused complications that led to Mr. Pickering's retire- 
ment in 1 889. Choa Ah Siok was captured, and received 
a long term of imprisonment. While in gaol he stabbed 
Chief Warder Harrington in the stomach, and for this 
offence was given a life sentence, in the course of which 
he died in gaol. Mr. Pickering died on the 26th January 

In 1 888 Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, the Governor, opened 
the question of the total suppression of the secret socie- 
ties with the Secretary of State, and his despatch is 


very interesting. He stated that there were in that 
year eleven societies in Singapore, with 1,122 office- 
bearers and 62,376 members ; while in Penang there were 
five, with 361 officers and 92,581 members. This gave 
a total of 156,440 registered members; and some idea 
of the size and influence of these societies in the Colony 
may be gained from the fact that the 1881 census num- 
bered the Chinese at 153,532. By 1888 the Chinese had, 
of course, increased enormously, but the figures are 

The Governor gives an account of an initiation which 
he had witnessed, and says that all the sinkehs on arrival 
were made members of some one or other of the societies : 

" A lodge is held. They are admitted one by one 
under an arch of drawn swords. Passwords are taught 
them as they go on from stage to stage round a lofty 
altar decorated with the insignia of the society. Sub- 
sequently the oath is read out to them from a paper, 
which is burnt, and the ashes are mixed in a cup with 
water into which a drop of blood is made to fall from 
the pricked finger of each novice. A portion of this 
horrible mixture is then drunk by everyone, and after 
a cock has been strangled and thrown out into the street 
— one of the officers of the society shouting, ' May ye 
perish like that cock if you break the oath you have 
taken ' — the ceremony is concluded." 

The whole ceremony, which was very long and very 
interesting, will be found described in two articles by 
Mr. Pickering in Numbers i and 3 of the Journal of the 
Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

As a result of the Governor's taking the matter up, an 
Ordinance was put through in 1889, which provided for 
the total suppression of the secret societies. The en- 
quiries instituted to ascertain the best substitute resulted 
in the creation of the Chinese Advisory Boards in 1890. 
A substitute was, of course, necessary, as otherwise the 
large number of ignorant Chinese in the Colony would 
have been left without guidance at all. 

The Straits Chinese Magazine, in 1897, said that the 


gratitude of the Chinese was due to Sir Cecil Smith, who 
was unsupported by the Unofficial Members of Council, 
but was backed only by his Executive, particularly Sir 
John Bonser, the Attorney-General. 

A very well-known figure at the Protectorate is that 
of Mr. Ho Siak Kuan, who joined the Government Service 
as a student interpreter in February 1884. He was 
born in Canton, where he studied Chinese in Canton City, 
and coming later to Singapore, learnt English at 
St. Andrew's Mission School and Raffles School. Ever 
since entering Government service, Mr. Siak Kuan has 
worked in the Protectorate, where for many years he has 
held the position of Chief Chinese Translator. He was 
standing beside Mr. Pickering when that officer was 
assaulted. Owing to his long connection with the 
Protectorate and his straightforward character Mr. Siak 
Kuan has earned the respect and confidence of the 
Cantonese, Hok-kien, Teo-chew and Kheh communities in 
particular, and his influence amongst the various Chinese 
communities generally has been of much assistance 
to the Government. 

The exact functions of the Chinese Protectorate 
have never been defined. It is responsible for the ad- 
ministration of the Societies Ordinance, the Women 
and Girls' Protection Ordinance, and the Native Passen- 
gers' Lodging House Ordinance. Until indentured 
labour was abolished in 1914, the Protectorate used to 
control all Chinese indentured labour. One of the most 
important of its duties is the recommendation of persons 
for banishment, more especially in the cases of traffickers 
in women and girls, the headmen of dangerous societies, 
and promoters of public gaming. The Protector is 
Chairman of the Chinese Advisory Board, and thus is 
the channel through which the Board conveys its views 
on proposed legislation, and other matters to Govern- 

The Protectorate endeavours to know as much as 
possible about the Chinese in Singapore and their affairs, 
a difficult task with such a large Chinese population 


speaking at least ten different dialects, but one that it 
has always performed with great success owing to the 
high personal qualities which its officers have always 
possessed, and the confidence and trust with which they 
have always been regarded by the Chinese of Singapore. 

Prisons and Convicts 

The original gaol seems to have been a wooden build- 
ing near the end of the east bank of the river, and was 
only intended to be temporary ; but it was not until 
about 1833 that a new gaol was built on the site of the 
present Central Police Station. It was built on a swamp, 
and was inundated at every high tide, which was very 
prejudicial to the health of its inmates. It was, more- 
over, a very insecure place, the custody of the prisoners 
depending practically upon their inability to avoid being 
hunted down in the small Settlement. In 1833 the 
Grand Jury presented that certain prisoners who had 
escaped had done so because they were permitted to go 
a considerable distance outside the gaol without any 
guard to fetch water. The wall round the gaol was only 
a few feet high, and on Sundays those imprisoned for 
debt used to enjoy a walk in the evening by the simple 
expedient of stepping over the wall 1 Being built on a 
swamp the gaol sank gradually, until the prisoners had 
finally to be put in what had been the upper storey of 
the building. On the 6th February 1847, the twenty- 
seventh anniversary of the Settlement, the foundation- 
stone of a new gaol was laid at Pearl's Hill, now enclosed, 
and forming a part of the present Criminal Gaol. 

These gaols were those in which were detained persons 
awaiting trial and persons imprisoned for debt ; they 
were called His or Her Majesty's Gaols (whichever was 
the case), and were under the control of the Sheriff for 
a long time. 

No history of Singapore could be complete without 
some considerable reference to its very remarkable 
convict system and to the work done by the convicts. 
At about the time, 1787, when the transportation of 


English convicts to Australia was sanctioned by our laws, 
convicts from India began to be sent to Bencoolen, a 
place singularly adapted for the purpose. Sir Stamford 
Raffles had the faculty of ameliorating the conditions of 
all the places into which he came, and of their inhabitants 
it is natural, therefore, that it should have been he who 
first set to work to improve the condition of the convicts 
at Bencoolen, with the result that a large body of people 
who had been living in the lowest state of degradation 
soon became useful labourers and happy members of 
society. He thus laid the foundation of the remarkable 
Singapore system ; for, when Bencoolen was given up, 
the convicts were removed, in 1825, to Singapore, where 
Raffles's system continued to be applied to them. 

The convicts thus received into Singapore numbered 
eighty from Madras and 1 20 from Bengal, and Singapore 
continued until the Transfer to rank with Malacca, 
Penang, and Moulmein as the Sydneys of the East. 
Lines were built for the reception of these convicts and 
more, up to the number of seven hundred, while space 
was left for extension so as to accommodate two thousand. 
The lines were on the present old gaol site, and extended 
from Bras Basah Road to Stamford Road. They con- 
sisted of long ranges of low attap-sheds enclosed by a 
high wall, but being built on swampy land were far from 

Although the utilisation of Singapore as a convict 
station drew frequent opposition from the public, it 
turned out to be a boon to the town. Labour was scarce 
and expensive, with the result that the convicts were 
soon employed to reclaim swamps, make roads, and erect 
buildings and bridges, so that for years the history of the 
convicts is the history of the Public Works Department. 
They filled in the swamp to the east, and made Com- 
mercial Square (the present Raffles Place) ; they built 
St. Andrew's Cathedral and Government House ; they 
made South and North Bridge Roads and the big roads 
leading out of town into the country ; and it is impossible 
to walk anywhere in the town and environs of Singapore 


without continually being reminded how the place was 
once a convict station. 

As the convicts were the labourers for the Public Works 
Department, it was natural that the post of Superinten- 
dent of Convicts should be doubled with that of Executive 
Engineer; and even after the Transfer, when the post 
of Colonial Engineer was created, that officer at first had 
his offices in the old gaol at Bras Basah Road. In 1833 
Mr. George Drumgold Coleman was appointed Superin- 
tendent of Convicts and head of the Public Works, and 
he it was who first began the employment of the convicts 
on large outside works by reclaiming land from the sea 
and marshes. He died in Singapore in 1844, and was 
succeeded next year by Colonel Man, of the Madras 
Native Infantry, who held the post until 1855, when he 
was promoted to the position of Resident Councillor at 
Malacca. The Public Works Department was constituted 
in 1872, and two Royal Engineer officers and two non- 
commissioned officers were sent out from England to 
make it efficient. 

The system of control applied to the convicts at 
Singapore is best described by the title of Major McNair's 
well-known book. Prisoners their own Warders, and at the 
time when it was evolved it was as far ahead of con- 
temporary thought as was the free trade upon which 
Raffles insisted for his new Settlement. Its author was 
Mr. Bonham, who, finding that the convicts worked 
willingly and behaved well, discharged the peons who 
had acted as warders, and selected certain of the convicts 
to supervise their fellows, giving them pay and advan- 
tages over the rest, and thus affording a strong 
inducement to the convicts to behave well. 

The convicts were allowed great latitude ; indeed, the 
paper in 1856 said that they possessed privileges which 
many free subjects did not. Besides working almost 
unguarded on the roads and other public works, the con- 
victs were in great demand for long as domestic servants. 
They were paid both for their private and public work, 
and the short-period ones generally contrived to save 


enough to set themselves up on their release as cattle- 
keepers or owners of bullock-carts, carriages, and horses 
for hire ; one died in 1865 leaving $50,000 to his heirs. 
In the early days the convicts were allowed to go freely 
into the town to make any necessary purchases, and at 
the Mohurrum were allowed to go in procession round 
the town until 1856, when the practice was stopped. It 
will be seen, then, that some of the worst characters from 
India were kept in check by what was really almost 
personal influence alone ; and not merely were they kept 
in check, but happy and contented. In 1854, during the 
Chinese riots of that year, the convicts were actually so 
reliable that they were employed to follow the rioters into 
the jungle and disperse them, which they did, and duly 
returned to captivity with none missing. 

The secret of it all seems to have lain in three prin- 
cipal factors : the personal influence of the Superin- 
tendents, the system of promotion, and the provision 
of congenial occupations. The mention of this last 
factor serves to remind one of the wonderful economic 
organisation of the gaol. It has been stated how the 
convicts were used as labourers and domestic servants ; 
it remains now to notice shortly how they were used as 
artisans. The introduction of handicrafts was due to 
Colonel Man, who commenced by carpentering on 
European methods and with English tools. By 1849 
the work of the convicts was such that no Chinese 
carpenters could come near it, and it may be remarked 
that the old Guthrie's timber bridge across the river was 
entirely the work of the convicts. Brick-making and 
blacksmith's work was next started, with equal success ; 
a large brick-field was started in 1858 at the Serangoon 
Road, under a trained European brick-maker, and bricks 
continued to be made there until the abolition of the 
convict system in Singapore. The pits can still be seen 
between Balestier Road and Moulmein Road. In 1867 
a silver medal was won by the convicts' bricks at the 
Agra Exhibition. The blacksmiths learnt to cast and 
forge from the raw state all ironwork needed for public 


works, and eventually there was practically no trade 
that was not taught and carried on in the gaol, which 
consequently became one of the most wonderful sights 
of the town. The long lounge cane chair which is to be 
found so much in use all over the Far East was invented 
and perfected in the Singapore convict gaol. 

It has been said that the lines originally were long 
ranges of attap-sheds ; but these were gradually replaced 
by permanent buildings, until by 1 860 the whole gaol 
had been rebuilt, and every building in it was a permanent 
one ; so that the proverb amongst the convicts was that 
" an open kampong had become a closed cage," and this 
cage itself was entirely made by its inmates. This gaol 
extended from Victoria Street to near the present 
Ladies' Lawn Tennis Club, the main entrance being in 
Bras Basah Road ; the only parts remaining now are a 
portion of the Maternity Hospital in Victoria Street, 
including the entrance to it, and the present Malay 
Volunteer headquarters. 

After the Transfer a great change came about ; but 
before going to that it will be as well to look at the careers 
of the men who made the old system what it was. 

Of our three great prison reformers, Colonels Man and 
Macpherson and Major McNair, Dr. Mouat, the Inspec- 
tor-General of Gaols, Bengal, reported in 1865 that they 
were " entitled to rank in the first class of prison officers 
and reformers in India." 

Colonel Man, who was appointed in 1845, died in 
England with the rank of a General Officer. His last 
office in the Straits was that of Resident Councillor at 
Penang, and after the Transfer he went to the Andaman 
Islands to inaugurate the Singapore system there, as all 
the transmarine convicts were sent to these islands after 
the Transfer. 

In 1855 Colonel Man had been promoted to the 
post of Resident Councillor at Malacca, and he was 
succeeded as Superintendent of Convicts by Colonel 
Macpherson, of the Madras Artillery, who held the post 
until 1858, when he succeeded Colonel Man at Malacca, 


and became Lieutenant-Governor in 1868 and Colonial 
Secretary later. He had served in the China War in 
1 84 1 -2, and in 1843 was appointed Staff Officer to the 
Artillery in the Straits. He goes down to posterity as 
the architect of St. Andrew's Cathedral, in the compound 
of which there is a monument to his memory, and in the 
body of which there is a memorial window over the west 
doorway. He died in 1 869, in Singapore, and lies buried 
in the Bukit Timah Cemetery. 

The next Superintendent, and most famous of the three, 
was that very able officer, Major McNair, R.A., C.M.G., 
F.R.G.S., F.L.S., of the Madras Artillery, who had come 
to Singapore in 1856 as Adjutant to the Artillery. He 
first came to the Straits in 1853, but was posted to 
Malacca at that time. He retired in 1884, and so had a 
residence in the Colony of thirty-one years. In 1861 
he learnt photography in England while on leave, so as 
to introduce into Singapore the practice of photographing 
convicts. In 1867 he was appointed Colonial Engineer, 
and the first works which he had to undertake were the 
construction of Government House, which he completed 
in 1869, and the waterworks, with which previous 
engineers had tinkered without success. Mr. Buckley 
thought his best epitaph would be that " waterworks 
were finished in his time, and the water ran through the 
pipes." In 1875 he went as Chief Commissioner to 
Perak during the disturbances, an account of which he 
wrote under the title of Perak and the Malays. His 
eldest daughter married Mr. Thomas Scott, of Guthrie 
and Co., and his youngest, Mr. Charles Stringer, of 
Paterson, Simons and Co. He shared with Mr. W. W. 
Willans, the Colonial Treasurer, the honour of being the 
oldest surviving servants of the Honourable East India 

To return to the history of the prisons and convicts, 
it should be remarked that the local convicts were kept 
in the same gaol as the transmarines. The Prison 
Commission of 1872 reported that this was bad, because 
punishment was lost sight of, and no deterrent or re- 


formatory influence was brought to bear. This Com- 
mission reported that the whole prison system for the 
local convicts was utterly defective. From the Report 
it appears that the men worked in association by day 
and slept together in one ward by night. The Com- 
mission consisted of Messrs. J. W. W. Birch, Colonial 
Secretary, T. Braddell, Attorney-General, and Thomas 
Scott, Whampoa, and W. H. Read, with Dr. H. L. 
Randell, the P.C.M.O. The Attorney-General and Mr. 
W. H. Read did not agree with the employment of 
prisoners on non-productive work, such as the tread- 
wheel, crank and shot drill ; but the rest of the Commis- 
sioners did, and Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, 
ordered a tightening up of discipline and more severe 
punishment. Penal labour, he said, should not be 
sacrificed for the profit to be derived from the industrial 
labour of prisoners, for reports from Governors of 
Colonies where penal labour had been introduced were 
uniformly in its favour. So the old system passed, and 
the convicts were employed no more upon public works. 
In 1873 the transmarine convicts (of whom there 
were 1,327) were removed to the Andamans, save those 
who were released or were shortly to be released. The 
gaol was handed over entirely to the Colonial authorities 
for a criminal prison ; but it proved unhealthy, and was 
condemned later by a Commission of Enquiry, which 
advised the erection of a new one. In the meantime 
the new prison system had been introduced. The 
essential features were penal labour, separation and 
classification of convicts, penal diet, and remission for 
good conduct marks. On the 13th February 1875 
there was a serious outbreak at the criminal prison, in 
the course of which the Superintendent, Mr. Dent, was 
killed. The immediate cause of this outbreak was due 
to a preconcerted arrangement on the part of some 
Chinese prisoners in the middle grade to eifect their 
escape. They were able to concert their plans because 
the prisoners were not yet entirely separated ; working 
unobserved, they prepared many of the weapons used 


in the outbreak. The Superintendent lost his Ufe in 
defence of a warder who was being attacked, and it is an 
extraordinary fact that none of the warders at this time 
were armed. 

A Committee was appointed to enquire into the cir- 
cumstances of this outbreak, and they recommended the 
construction of a new gaol on the cellular plan at Pearl's 
Hill, near to the Civil Prison. The construction of a new 
gaol had already been considered by the Government ; 
at first it had been proposed to build it at Pulo Brani, 
but eventually the site of the present gaol was settled 
upon, and Major McNair drew up the plans for a new 
cellular gaol (the present one) on the most approved 
English model at the time. The foundation-stone was 
laid, on the 30th January 1879, by the Governor, Sir 
W. C. F. Robinson, and the gaol was completed by 1882, 
when the prisoners were all moved in and the old gaol 
site was abandoned. 

In 1877 trained warders were first introduced, a chief 
warder and two warders being brought out from English 
convict prisons. The experiment proved successful, 
and these men gave efficient aid in improving the state 
of discipline. But the success of the new system was 
due chiefly to Major W. R. Grey, the Superintendent 
who succeeded Mr. Dent. In 1875 he went through a 
special and thorough course of training in England, and 
was very well reported upon by the various Governors 
of the prisons to which he was attached. How thorough 
this training was may be seen from the fact that he served 
a week in all the offices from assistant warder to Governor. 
Major W. R. Grey had been in the 30th Regiment, and 
had served in Ceylon, China, and New Zealand before 
coming to the Straits. He was through the China War 
of 1 860, mentioned in dispatches, and specially promoted 
to Major. He was also mentioned for his services 
during the campaign in New Zealand, for which he held 
the medal, as also the China medal and clasp. He was 
appointed Superintendent of the Singapore gaol in 1 875, 
and Inspector of Prisons in 1880, retiring in 1893, when 
I — 20 


he was succeeded in the latter post by Mr. (now Sir) 
E. M. Merewether, ever since which time the post has 
been held by a member of the Civil Service. 


By Dr. Gilbert E. Brooke 

" And a little breeze blew over the rail that made the headsails lift, 
But no man stood by wheel or sheet, and they let the schooners drift." 

From the dawn of ocean-going trade the cupidity of man 
was probably at work in devising the best methods for 
relieving the trader of his merchandise as swiftly and 
cheaply as possible 1 Opportunity makes a thief ; and 
the facilities afforded for ambush and escape by the 
numberless islands, creeks, and mangrove swamps of the 
Malayan Peninsula and Archipelago were dominant 
factors in determining the freebooting career which was 
so largely adopted on the trade-routes of those regions. 

As early as June 1823 Sir Stamford Raffles applied for 
a vessel to cruise against pirates, whose attacks on 
traders he described as being extraordinarily frequent, 
and as affording serious obstacles to native trade with 
Singapore. On the 27th August in that year, Mr. 
Crawfurd, the Resident at Singapore, hired the ketch 
Bona For tuna, Captain Johnston, to proceed with troops 
against the pirates of the North-East Coast I The rate of 
hire was to be $500 for fifteen days, with $167 extra if 
five more days were required. The troops were in 
charge of Dr. Jackson, and the Government was to make 
good any enemy damage. The ketch, however, returned 
on the I ith September after a fruitless search. 

The first piratical attempt on a European vessel from 
Singapore took place in May 1826, when seven pirates, 
who had shipped as deck-passengers from Singapore to 
Batavia by the Dutch schooner Anna, rose and attacked 
the crew during the voyage. They were, however, 
driven into the sea and drowned. 

It was in that year that the fifth number of the 










- -c*^ 





»! O 

O S 


Singapore Chronicle contained an excellent sketch of 
Malay piracy — probably from Mr. Crawfurd's pen. A 
peaceful agricultural population was to be found chiefly 
in Java and in certain districts of Sumatra. Most of the 
other coastal regions of the Peninsula and Archipelago 
supported a Malay population, nominally fishermen, but 
usually pirates, with the secret connivance of their 
reigning princes. 

The pirate " prahus " were generally from forty to 
fifty feet in length, with a beam of about fifteen feet. The 
decks were made of split Nibong palm, cut into lengths 
so that any part of the deck could be rolled up. They 
were furnished with a large mainsail for'ard made of 
kajang (mat) stitched on bamboo spars, hoisted on a 
tripod bamboo mast, and there was generally a smaller 
sail on a single spar aft. The smaller prahus put up a 
thick plank bulwark when fighting ; but larger ones, like 
the Illanoon (Lanun) prahus, were fitted with a stout 
bamboo ledge, which hung over the gunwale fore and aft, 
and was flanked with a protecting breastwork of plaited 
rattan about three feet high. The ordinary crew 
consisted of about twenty to thirty men, but they were 
augmented by a rowing gang of lower caste or captured 
slaves. A small prahu would have nine oars a side ; 
a large one would be double-banked, the upper tier of 
oarsmen being seated on the bulwark projection and 
hidden behind the rattan breastwork. The armament 
consisted of a stockade near the bow, mounting iron 
or brass four-pounders, and another stockade aft, 
generally furnished with two swivel guns. There were 
also four or five swivels, or "rantakas," on each side, 
mounting small brass guns. The pirates kept their hair 
long, and let it loose in battle to increase their ferocious 
appearance. Many of them carried bamboo shields, 
and they were armed with spears and krises, and such 
muskets or other fire-arms as could be obtained. As a 
rule, in the early days, they chiefly attacked vessels 
which were stranded or becalmed, but their daring 
greatly increased as years went by. 


Their hunting-grounds, of which Singapore was one 
of the favourite pivots, formed an ideal venue, not only 
on account of their topographical facilities, but because 
they lay in the main routes of commerce, which became 
yearly more prosperous. 

As the trade of Singapore increased, the menace of 
piracy loomed on the horizon with unpleasantpersistence. 
Many remedies were suggested, of which perhaps those 
by Crawfurd were as reasonable as any. He suggested 
that industrial habits should be encouraged amongst the 
natives ; that a ready and free market should be found 
for their productions ; that discovered piracy should be 
condignly punished ; that native princes, when found 
to be implicated, should be heavily fined ; that the head- 
quarters and haunts of pirates should be destroyed ; that 
thevarious European Governments should act in concert ; 
and that armed steamboats should be more frequently 
employed in hunting for and attacking the pirate fleets. 

Notwithstanding these and other suggestions, however, 
piracy continued its course more or less unchecked for 
the subsequent twenty years, and Government assistance 
was often spasmodic and ill-directed. The Netherlands 
Indies Government were occasionally to the fore in taking 
official action. The Governor-General, Van den Bosch, 
whotook office about 1830, combined the Naval Residency 
cruisers and small-draft schooners into an anti-pirate 
flotilla, which was put in charge of a Captain Kolff, an 
officer of the Colonial Marine. An admirable report by 
this officer (which was, however, not published until 
1846-7, when it appeared in the Moniteur des Indes- 
Orientales) showed the wide distribution of pirate haunts, 
comprising Mindanao, Sulo, the whole of Borneo, Buro, 
Pilolo, Celebes, Billiton, Lingga, the East Coast of 
Sumatra, and all the southern portions of the Malay 
Peninsula. This Dutch action roused the British 
Government, who sent H.M.S. Southampton to act in 
concert with the Honourable Company's schooner 
Diamond, and they were instrumental in routing a fleet 
of thirty prahus ; and the Governor-General of British 


India wrote to the Governor of the Netherlands Indies 
recommending concerted action, a suggestion heartily 
acceded to by Van den Bosch. 

The first result of this action was the appearance of 
H.M.S. Wolf in May 1831 ; but instead of deahng with 
pirates she was used to blockade the coast of Kedah. 

In August a number of Bugis Nakodahs, headed by the 
chief of the Bugis kampong in Singapore, notified the 
Government that their trade was being jeopardised 
by the pirate fleets of Pulo Tinggi ; and that, if the 
Government did nothing, they would be forced to leave 
Singapore altogether. H.M.S. Crocodile and H.M.S. 
Cochin were at once despatched, but returned empty- 

During the following June, as no further official action 
was being taken, the Chinese merchants of Singapore 
armed four large trading junks, with the idea of using 
them against pirates, in which service they proved very 

In 1833 H.M.S. Harrier destroyed a notorious haunt 
in the Straits of Dryon. Pirate fleets blockaded the 
coast of Pahang, but lay low when the Government 
schooner Zephyr went up to look for them. At the ses- 
sion of Oyer and Terminer of the Court of Judicature in 
May, the Grand Jury reverted to the subject of piracy, 
and the Recorder, Sir B. Malkin, remarked that the 
matter of Admiralty jurisdiction had been overlooked 
when framing the Charter of the Straits Court. Things 
got worse rather than better, and, on the 23rd April 1835, 
a public meeting was held, at which a Memorial was 
drafted to the Governor-General in Council asking for 
effective measures to be taken ; and a further Memorial 
to the King in Council, asking for the grant of Admiralty 
jurisdiction to the Straits Court. These Memorials had 
the desired effect, for Letters Patent were issued on 
the 25th February 1837 granting Admiralty jurisdiction 
to the local Court. H.M. sloop Wolf, Captain Edward 
Stanley, arrived once more, in March 1836. Her First- 
Lieutenant was a Mr. Henry James, who died in 1 898 


as a retired Commander, in his ninety-ninth year. His 
life was published in 1 899, under the title of A Midship- 
man in Search of Promotion, which narrates the doings 
of the Wolf in Singapore. The concession on the part 
of the Government of India in sending the JVolf was not, 
however, quite as generous as would appear at first sight ; 
for, on the 13th January 1836, the Governor informed 
the merchants of Singapore that the Supreme Govern- 
ment had directed him to submit a draft Act and Schedule 
for the levying of duties on imports and exports " to 
meet the expense of effectually protecting the trade 
from piracy ! " This caused great alarm, and vigorous 
measures were taken to prevent this death-blow to the 
prosperity of the Settlement. The opposition proved 
effectual, and the intention was abandoned. 

It was about this time that the authorities at Singapore 
sought the co-operation of the Resident at Rhio. The 
latter official was sympathetic, but pointed out that, 
although the population of Rhio and Lingga was alto- 
gether bad, it was notorious that a great number of the 
pirates actually lived in the New Harbour and Telok 
Blanga districts of Singapore itself — where they got 
their information and their powder and shot, and where 
they were able to get rid of their booty without difficulty. 

The Wolf was at first occupied in taking captured 
pirates to Calcutta for trial, whence they were brought 
back after conviction and hanged on the beach in 
Singapore. When Admiralty jurisdiction was obtained, 
the Wolf devoted herself to pirate-hunting, in concert 
with H.M.S. Rose, and the H.C.'s schooner Zephyr 
(Captain Congalton), especially off Tanjong Panyusu 
(Point Romania) in Johore. They often met with in- 
different success, but commented on the vast numbers 
of wrecks and skeletons with which the shores and 
islands of Johore were strewn. 

In May 1836 H.M.S. Andromache, Captain Chads, 
arrived from Trincomalee on special anti-piracy work. 
Mr. S. G. Bonham, the Resident Councillor of Singapore, 
was appointed Joint-Commissioner with Captain Chads, 


and the expedition left Singapore on the 23rd June, pro- 
ceeding via Rhio to Gallang, where they destroyed a noted 
pirate stronghold. They then worked up the east coast 
to Pahang, and then sailed via Singapore for the Siak 
River, in the north-east of Sumatra, eventually returning 
by way of Penang and the Native States. Their diary 
and report constitute volume 335 of the Early Colonial 
Records in the Straits Settlements Secretariat. Captain 
Chads had already seen active service, having been 
First-Lieutenant of the frigate Java, which was fired, and 
sank in action with the American ship Constitution, on 
the 29th December 1812. Years afterwards, Captain 
Chads was in command of the Cambrian in Singapore 
Harbour, when the old Constitution entered the port 
round St. John's Island. The old captain's eyes 
glistened, and he was heard to remark : " What would I 
not give to have twenty minutes with her now 1 " 

Another man-of-war which frequented Singapore 
about this time was the Raleigh, Captain Michael Quin, 
which did valuable work in the neighbourhood of Lingga, 
on the lines mentioned by the well-known Senior 
Surgeon Montgomerie, who had written a long report to 
Government on " Piracy and its Prevention." 

In March 1837 the steamer Diana was sent to Singa- 
pore by the Indian Government, and was given to 
Captain Congalton, who had commanded the Zephyr 
and other Government schooners for many years. The 
encounter of this first Colonial steamer with pirates 
is worth recording. She was the first steamer to be 
built in India, with a tonnage of 160 and a speed of five 
knots. Her complement consisted of three Europeans 
and thirty Malays. In company with H.M.S. Wolf, 
which was a sailing craft, she started off on her first 
adventure, leading the way by virtue of her superior 
speed 1 They fell in with six large pirate prahus, which 
were attacking a junk. The pirates, seeing the smoke 
from the Diana's funnel, took her to be a sailing ship on 
fire, and scenting an easy prey, they transferred their 
attentions from the junk to the Diana. To their horror, 



the vessel came right up against the wind, and poured a 
destructive fire into each prahu as she passed it, and 
then repeated the process after turning. For nearly 
two years the Wolf and Diana worked together, chiefly 
on the east coast of the Peninsula ; and many a pirate 
was caught and stronghold destroyed. In recognition 
of his services, the mercantile community of Singapore 
presented Captain Stanley, of the Wolf, with a hundred- 
guinea sword ; and he was both the recipient of thanks 
from the Chamber of Commerce and guest at a public 
dinner in his honour. 

Captain Congalton got no public recognition of his long 
services, but his name is one which will never die in the 
annals of the Colony. He was born in Leith on the 23rd 
March 1 796, and ran away to sea as a boy. After reaching 
the East, he joined the H.C.'s armed schooner Jessy, 
Captain Poynton, as Mate. He was in that ship in the 
Burmese War, and there he won the approval of the 
famous novelist Captain Marryat, of H.M.S. Lame. 
In 1826, when Captain Poynton was made Harbour 
Master at Malacca, Congalton took command of the 
Zephyr, and remained in the Colonial service until his 
death in 1850. 

For a few years the fierce activities of the pirates 
seemed actually to diminish ; but a recrudescence soon 
occurred, and the period 1 843-9 was full of gruesome 
activity and dogged retribution. The attacks were often 
made quite close to Singapore, as in the case of a junk 
which left with twenty-two crew and twenty-six pas- 
sengers, and had six chests of opium as part of her cargo. 
She was shortly afterwards set upon by pirates, who 
butchered forty-three, and looted and burnt the junk. 
The five survivors were picked up by H.M. brig 

It was about this time that the Hon. Harry Keppel, 
twelfth child of the fourth Earl of Albemarle, and later 
an Admiral of the Fleet, began his long connection with 
the East and friendship with Sir James Brooke of Sara- 
wak. In 1 843 he was in command of the Dido, which did 


doughty deeds against the pirates of Borneo, and de- 
stroyed vast numbers of prahus. 

To the Hecla fell the honour of finding a new method 
of attacking the enemy. They allowed the prahus to 
get alongside, and then turned their fire-hose on them 
charged with boiling water. The pirates, who were 
generally nearly naked, preferred to face the sharks, and 
promptly disappeared overboard ! 

During the following year H.M. surveying ship 
Samarang, Sir E. Belcher, K.C.B.,had an uncomfortable 
experience. They were making some observations off 
Gilolo, an island near Celebes, when they were attacked 
by ten Klanoon prahus. They managed to destroy 
several of the latter ; but Sir Edward was wounded 
in the thigh by a one-inch swivel ball, which knocked him 
into the sea. One of the officers of the Samarang was 
a midshipman named Brereton, a cousin of Sir James 
Brooke, and a great-nephew of Dr. Wilson, the Bishop 
of Calcutta, who laid the foundation-stone of St.Andrew's 
Cathedral, Singapore, on the 4th March 1856. 

In 1849 the Sarebas pirates became very active, and 
H.M.S. Albatross, Captain Farquhar, was sent to deal 
with them. This turned out to be the largest pirate 
engagement on record. They fell in with a fleet of more 
than a hundred war-prahus, manned by about 3,500 men. 
This whole fleet was practically demolished, and Captain 
Farquhar and others were awarded £20,700 by the 
Singapore Supreme Court. Sir Arthur Farquhar, K.C.B., 
was afterwards Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific and 
at Devonport. 

From the year 1 849 Malay piracy gradually declined ; 
but a reign of Chinese piracy began, which did not die 
out until the 'Seventies. As an example of their methods 
the case of a Cochin-China junk might be mentioned. 
After anchoring in Singapore, a number of Chinese 
boarded the ship, which they would have searched and 
doubtless looted had it not been for the intervention of 
a French missionary-passenger, the Rev. Father Beurel. 
When the junk was about to leave Singapore, another 


French missionary took passage by her ; and Father 
Beurel, who was afraid of what might happen, apphed 
to the Master Attendant (Captain Russell) and the 
Resident Councillor (Mr. Church) for protection. This 
was refused, as one gunboat and four of theTemenggong's 
vessels had already gone to Pedra Branca, and the other 
gunboat could not be spared. Off Cape Romania the 
junk was becalmed, and they were at once attacked by 
pirates. The crew had only two muskets, and things 
looked serious when the missionary's pistol (which was 
overloaded) exploded and put him out of action. 
Fortunately a breeze sprang up just then, and they were 
able to shake oif the prahu and to return to Singapore. 
The year 1855 saw a remarkable increase in piracy, 
chiefly Chinese. The Government steamer Hooghly 
proved to be too slow, so a public meeting was held in 
May, at which the following resolutions were adopted : 

" I. That the meeting viewed with deep concern the 
ravages committed by pirates, Chinese particularly, 
in the immediate vicinity of the port, to the great destruc- 
tion of human life and detriment to trade. 

"2. That in order to remedy the present insecurity 
of life and property, petitions be prepared and forwarded 
to the Supreme Government, the Houses of Parliament, 
and the Admiral on this station, urging them to take 
vigorous measures to suppress piracy in these parts. 

"3. That the Singapore Community are so thoroughly 
convinced of the necessity of protection for the junks 
now about to leave for China, and so indignant at the 
long-continued supineness of the Authorities on the 
subject of Chinese piracy, that if the men-of-war now 
in the roads will not interfere, the Community itself 
agree to subscribe to hire an English vessel to see the 
junks safely beyond the Gulf of Siam, and that the local 
Government be requested to license the said vessel. 

*"' 4. That the meeting highly approves of the conduct 
of the local Government in detaining the suspicious junks 
now in the harbour until the trading junks are safely 
beyond their reach. 

"5. That Messrs. Guthrie, W. H. Read, Logan, and 


R. DufF be appointed a Committee to carry out the 
foregoing resolutions." 

The result was that the Admiral was ordered to send 
a vessel to the Gulf of Siam. 

During the next fifteen years piracy died out ; and, 
for the latter half of the Colony's life, instances have been 
rare and adventitious. On the 5th May 1884, at early 
dawn, a tongkang was at anchor outside New Harbour, 
and her crew of six were fast asleep. The boat (which 
was loaded with twelve piculs of rice) had left Singapore 
on the previous afternoon, and anchored off Pulo Sudong. 
Suddenly a prahu from Pulo Siking, containing six armed 
Malays, came alongside, and methodically proceeded to 
kill the Chinese. The sixth man (in the attitude of suppli- 
cation) had his hands cut off and throat gashed, and was 
left for dead. The pirates were about to disembark the 
rice into their prahu, when Pilot Captain J. C. Davies 
passed in his steam-launch on the way to s.s. Glengarry. 
Seeing something amiss, he approached the tongkang ; 
but the pirates prepared to attack him, so he backed his 
launch and then rammed the prahu, which sank at once. 
The pirates dived, and swam to a reef, where five of them 
were captured by the headman of Pulo Bukum. Accom- 
panied by three boatsful of Malays, they were brought td 
s.s. Glengarry, but were mistaken for additional pirates, 
and were received with a fusillade, much to their disgust. 
The five men were convicted, and hanged outside the 
gaol on Saturday, the 2nd August,in the presence of about 
5,000 of the public ; and the bodies were buried at the 
foot of the gallows. 

The final piracy of the century took place on the 
1 2th April 1909, at Cape Romania, a spot which had seen 
so many similar encounters in the past. A large junk 
bound for China was becalmed on a bright moonlight 
night, and had anchored some distance from shore. The 
crew and passengers were all asleep, when they were 
stealthily attacked. Five had already been mutilated 
and killed, and four more had been seriously injured, 
when a dog barked on shore, and the pirates hurriedly 


decamped. The junk returned to Singapore on the 
following day with her gruesome cargo. 

This closes our brief review of piracy and its connection 
with Singapore. 

For the first fifty years of the Settlement's existence 
the evil ran like a scarlet thread through the warp and 
weft of local circumstance. Not a week passed without 
the shadow dominating the horizon. Not a volume of 
official correspondence was bound that did not contain 
its reiteration ad nauseam. 

To-day the grandsons and great-grandsons of the 
bloodthirsty and turbulent pirates assimilate mild in- 
struction at the feet of Government Gamaliels, and make 
their peaceful pilgrimage when the necessary tale of 
dollars is complete. 


By James Lornie, Collector of Land Revenue, Singapore 

About a hundred years ago all land in Singapore was the 
property of the State. The history of the land tenure is, 
therefore, a reflection of the views of successive adminis- 
trators regarding the best means of encouraging the 
permanent occupation of the land and the amount of 
compensation to be paid to the State for the total or 
partial surrender of its rights. The Treaty of the 6th 
February 1 8 1 9 between Sir Stamford Raffles and Sultan 
Husain and the Temenggong Abdul Rahman was merely 
an arrangement which secured permission to erect a 
factory or factories on part of the Sultan's dominions. 
It was natural, therefore, that in the early days of the 
Settlement httle could be done beyond making what 
appeared to be the necessary reservations for public 
purposes, and arrangements for the settlement of the 
various nationalities who flocked to it as soon as it was 
founded. In a letter dated the 2Sth June 1819, Raffles 
gave instructions to Major Farquhar regarding the allot- 
ment of the ground available, and instructed him to take 
proper measures to secure to each person " the indispu- 
tive possession of the spot he was allowed to occupy." 
A proper register was to be kept, and each occupant was 
to be granted a certificate entitling him to clear a spot 
of ground of specified dimensions, and to hold it according 
to such regulations as had been or might afterwards be 
established for the factory. These instructions, however, 
were not fully carried out. From the very beginning the 
influx of settlers was too great to be dealt with by Major 



Farquhar and his limited staff, and when Raffles returned 
in 1823 he found he had to alter many of his arrange- 
ments. At an early date permanent leases appear to 
have been given, and about the beginning of 1 823 instruc- 
tions were received from India that land was to be let 
either on perpetual leases or for a term of years to the 
persons offering the highest amount of quit rent. The 
Bengal Government apparently intended to limit the 
term of the leases to ninety-nine years ; but their views 
were not followed by the local authorities, the explan- 
ation given in 1827 being that in the minds of the 
applicants a ninety-nine year lease conferred too limited 
an interest in land. In the same year it was reported 
that 576 of such leases had been made by Sir Stamford 
Raffles, or Major Farquhar by his authority, that the 
leases conferred only the privilege of occupancy and 
conveyed no right, not even that of transfer to others, 
and that the rents of them had never been paid. In 
addition to these leases, what were known as location 
tickets were issued, giving the right of possession for 
two years, during which the land was to be cleared and 
application made for regular leases — -a modification of 
the original certificate of occupation. 

It was not long before it was found that the arrange- 
ment with the Sultan and Temenggong required modi- 
fication, and before his final departure in 1823 Raffles 
made an agreement by which, with the exception of the 
portion which had been allotted to the Chiefs at the 
beginning of the year, the whole of the island of Singa- 
pore and the islands immediately adjacent were placed 
at the entire disposal of the British. This agreement was, 
however, regarded as incomplete, and the final settlement 
was left to his successor, Mr. Crawfurd, who carried out 
the negotiations which ended in the Treaty of the 2nd 
August 1824, by which the island of Singapore, and the 
adjacent seas, straits, and islands, were ceded to the East 
India Company in full sovereignty and property. At 
the beginning of the same year the Treaty of London 
had been signed, by Article XII of which the King of the 


Netherlands withdrew his objections to the occupation 
of Singapore by British subjects. The uncertain tenure 
of the island and a long discussion regarding the form 
of grants for a time prevented the issue of permanent 
titles; but in a report in January 1824 Mr. Crawfurd 
recorded his opinion that in order to attract agricul- 
turists it was necessary to give a good and permanent 
tenure, of a simple nature, with few formalities of transfer, 
and without real property rights as in England. To 
discourage the appropriation of large areas by specula- 
tors, he proposed in the first instance to grant an 
occupation or location ticket, entitling the holder 
to a permanent grant after a proper survey, provided 
the land had been cleared within a specified time ; this 
procedure, he pointed out, would reduce the number of 
conditions in the grants, and enable the area granted to 
be defined with precision. His proposals were approved 
in a letter of the 2 7th October 1825 .which authorised him 
to issue location tickets and to grant leases to persons 
having commercial establishments at Singapore or 
desiring to settle there. The location tickets were 
issued in great numbers, apparently without registration, 
and in 1827 it was computed that they had been granted 
in the vicinity of the town to an extent only 14,000 acres 
short of the whole area of the island, which was accounted 
for by the fact that the measurement of land could not 
keep pace with the rush of applications. 

In 1826 took place the incorporation of Penang, 
Malacca, and Singapore as a single Settlement under the 
Government of Penang, Resident Councillors being 
appointed for Singapore and Malacca. This resulted in 
a serious attempt being made to settle the land question. 
The lands cleared and occupied were then estimated 
to amount to 13,800 acres, most of which was 
held without any title whatever. The explanations 
given were the sudden increases of population, and the 
fact that as rent became payable only on the issue of a 
grant, many persons preferred to postpone their applica- 
tions for the permanent title. In January the following 


year a notification was published that all persons who 
failed to fulfil the terms of their contracts to clear and 
build on land before the ist May would forfeit 
their rights, which led to the resumption of 217 lots of 
leasehold land. At the same time persons who had 
complied with the conditions of their titles or location 
tickets were granted new leases in the form which had 
been approved by the Government of Bengal. These 
constitute the earliest of the existing titles, Numbers 1-43 
and 46-53 being issued on the 20th April 1826. The 
exchange proceeded with considerable rapidity, and in 
1828, after the new titles had been issued to all who 
were held entitled to them, it was reported that they 
comprised 481 lots of land amounting to 313 acres, and 
that, with the exception of two for what is now known as 
Government Hill and Mount Sophia, they were within 
the narrow limits of the town. 

About the same time Mr. FuUerton, the first Governor 
of the combined stations, fixed the terms on which 
999-year leases could be obtained by the holders of land 
within the town limits at a quit rent of $45 an acre — the 
average rate of the earlier titles. In the case of lands 
outside the limits of the town, it was felt that there was 
not sufficient information available for the determina- 
tion of a fair rent on a permanent title, which led to the 
introduction of a system of renewable leases . Applicants 
were allowed a certain period in which to clear the land 
for which they had applied, at the end of which they were 
required to apply for a survey of the land they had 
cleared, when they became entitled to a series of fifteen- 
year gradually increasing rents up to a maximum 
originally fixed at $10 an acre, and subsequently reduced 
to $6 for lands beyond the limits of the town, but within 
two miles of the Bridge of Singapore, and $3 outside 
these limits. At any time during his tenancy the holder 
of a fifteen-year lease was entitled to a 999-year lease 
at the rate declared to be the maximum. 

These conditions formed what was known as the 
Singapore Land Regulation of 1830, which made pro- 


vision for the appointment of a Superintendent of Lands, 
Registrar of Titles,Transfers,and Mortgages, and Collector 
of Quit Rents, fixed the terms of which land could be 
obtained and the procedure to be followed, and the fees 
to be charged in the registry. This regulation was 
approved by the Court of Directors of the East India 
Company; but about 1833 it was declared by the 
Recorder to be invalid on the ground that the Governor- 
in-Council of Prince of Wales's Island, Singapore, and 
Malacca, on whose authority it had been passed, had 
no power of passing regulations except for imposing 
duties and taxes. In approving the regulation the 
Court of Directors had taken exception to the term of 
999 years and the fixed quit rent of $45 an acre for town 
lands, and asked that these matters should be recon- 
sidered, the result of'which was that the Bengal Govern- 
ment in 1 83 1 sanctioned all leases already granted, but 
prohibited the issue of any further leases on the old 
terms. This decision left matters in considerable 
uncertainty, and apparently the local authorities per- 
mitted various persons to occupy land without title, 
and without payment of rent, in the hope that titles 
could be obtained on more favourable terms when 
experience had shown this to be necessary. In 1833 
the Governor reported that 415 acres were held on 
fifteen-year leases under the old regulation, the holders 
of which were anxious to know the terms on which they 
could obtain renewal, and that in his opinion the price 
of agricultural produce was so low that no one was likely 
to engage in agricultural pursuits unless he could obtain 
land on long leases or a grant in perpetuity at a rent of 
one to three rupees an acre, according to the situation 
and quality of the land. In 1836 the Agricultural and 
Horticultural Society drew up a petition to the Governor- 
General, pointing out that the soil of the island was 
suited to the cultivation of cotton, sugar, pepper, and 
nutmegs, and that in their opinion a great portion of 
the island was likely to remain an impervious jungle 
unless a more liberal system of sale or leasing of land 
I — 21 


was adopted. They asked, therefore, that lands might 
be sold outright, or leased for a term of not less than 
ninety-nine years. In forwarding the petition, Mr. Bon- 
ham, Acting Governor, remarked that the small amount 
of quit rent which the petitioners were prepared to pay 
for land would seem to indicate that they were not very 
sanguine as to the suitability of the soil for the cultivation 
of the products specified in the petition, and that so far 
from the greater portion of the island being likely to 
remain an impervious jungle, cultivation had never 
extended so rapidly as at the time he wrote, owing to the 
rise in the price of gambier, which rendered it probable 
that all the high ground in the island would be under 
cultivation in four or five years. All this land was being 
occupied by Chinese planters without title, and as most 
of the earnings of the Chinese cultivators were spent on 
goods which paid an excise-tax, he did not think the 
Government was likely to lose thereby. In his opinion 
it was better that the soil should be cultivated than that 
large tracts of land should be encumbered by speculators 
who would take advantage of a low land-tax to hold up 
land in the hope of making a profit from its rise in value. 
The petition arrived at a time when the affairs of the 
Straits Settlements were receiving a considerable amount 
of attention from the Government of India, and it is 
referred to in a minute of the Goyernor-General, Lord 
Auckland, in which he dealt at great length with the 
history of the land tenure of each of the Settlements, the 
nature of the various products, and the best means of 
securing permanent cultivation of the land. The conclu- 
sion he arrived at was that the best policy was to grant 
the land in perpetuity at a fixed rent, or at rates of 
rent assessable according to some fixed principle ; but 
in view of the restrictions imposed by the Court of 
Directors, he proposed to grant twenty-year leases, 
renewable at a fixed rent for a further term of thirty 
years, for so much of the land as had been for the last 
five years cultivated or chiefly occupied with produce 
of a specified nature, or in cases where money had been 


sunk in irrigation works or the erection of valuable 
buildings. In the case of town lands he favoured sixty- 
year building leases, or preferably similar leases, for a term 
of ninety-nine years. A decision of the Governor- 
General-in-Council, in accordance with these views, was 
communicated to Mr. Young, the Commissioner, specially 
sent from India to report on the land administration of 
the Straits, and was published by him as a Government 
notification on the 7th September 1837. The appoint- 
ment of the Commissioner was made under a special 
Indian Act No. X of 1837, and in the same year another 
Act, No. XX, of great importance to the Straits, was 
passed providing that all land in the Eastern Settlements 
was to be treated as if it were and had always been of the 
nature of personal property. At the time the Act was 
passed the only titles existing in Singapore were leases, 
so that for the time being it affected only Penang and 
Malacca. At the beginning of 1838 the first of the 
present ninety-nine year leases were issued, in accordance 
with the notification of the preceding year, seventy-one 
leases bearing date the ist January 1838, and during 
the next few years they were issued in considerable 
numbers. The prices obtained for the early leases 
naturally compared unfavourably with what had been 
paid for 999-year leases ; but there was soon a 
considerable improvement, and the number of leases 
issued about the year 1842 shows that there must have 
been considerable demand for land throughout the town. 
The ninety-nine year leases were subject to the condition 
that a tile-roofed house should be erected on each 
leasehold within a period of two years : the sixty-year 
leases which were issued in 1838 and 1839, and have all 
expired, only required the erection of a house. 

In the case of agricultural land the terms were not 
regarded as satisfactory. In his report on the land 
tenure of the Straits, the Commissioner expressed his 
strong disagreement with the policy of short leases 
favoured by the Court of Directors. His objections 
were based on the experimental nature of the policy, 


which was entirely different from what had proved a 
success in all the larger colonies throughout the world, 
the lack of encouragement to incur the expensive outlay 
required for the cultivation of valuable products, and 
the existence of a more beneficial tenure in Penang, 
Province Wellesley, and Malacca, and also in Ceylon. 
The evils of the short-lease system he summarised as the 
encouragement to speculators to hold large tracts of land 
in the hope of disposing of them at a profit, the use of 
land under the pretence of agriculture for the extraction 
of timber and the burning of charcoal, the partial clearing 
of land for the sake of one or two crops, and the wasting 
of the soil by the cultivation of pepper, gambler, and 
other exhausting crops. He had little sympathy with 
the gambler planter, whom he regarded as by no means 
the pioneer of colonisation as some had supposed, but 
rather as the locust of cultivation. In his opinion 
nothing was clearer than the fact that the man who in 
a country like the Straits merely cut down the large 
forest trees and neglected to follow this up by effective 
clearing and treatment of the land was not a benefactor, 
but an enemy of agriculture, the mischief being aggra- 
vated by the forcing of the soil to the utmost by gambler 
and pepper planting. At the same time he considered 
the interests of the people and the State would be better 
served by the small native cultivators than by the more 
imposing efforts of the spice cultivators or the specula- 
tive undertakings of the growers of sugar and cotton. 
During his stay in the Straits, Mr. Young was also 
engaged in a report on a draft Act for the collection of 
land revenue and the registration of transfers of land, 
and in 1 839 this Act was passed by the Legislative Council 
of India, and received the assent of the Governor-General. 
The Act, known as the Straits Land Act, made provision 
for dealing with unauthorised occupation of Crown land, 
the granting of leases, and of permits for temporary 
occupation pending survey, the erection and preserva- 
tion of boundary marks, the subdivision of grants and 
leases, the collection of land revenue, and the registration 


of mutations of title. The last provision had been the 
subject of some discussion, and a suggestion had been 
made to omit it altogether and leave it to be dealt with 
in a separate enactment. The Singapore Land Regulation, 
with its provisions for registration, had, however, been 
repealed by Act X of 1837, and Mr. Young strongly- 
urged the necessity of having some form of registration, 
and the Government of India adopted his views. The 
provision made was admittedly imperfect, and it was 
expressly stated that it was to be replaced as soon as 
possible by a more elaborate system ; but it remained in 
force in Singapore until it was superseded by the 
Registration of Deeds Ordinance of 1886, and it is in 
force in Malacca at the present day. 

The Act provided that the conditions of land alienation 
should be determined by the Government of Bengal, 
but this Government preferred to leave the matter to 
the Government of India, which had passed the Act, and 
early in 1840 the subject received the consideration of 
the Governor-General-in-Council. The question of the 
term of the leases was again brought up, when it was 
decided that without reference to the Court of Directors 
no longer term than that provided by Section V of the 
Act could be granted. This was the term of twenty 
years, renewable on certain conditions for a further 
period of thirty years, as laid down by Lord Auckland. 
At the same meeting it was decided to sanction the 
appointment of a Surveyor, with a suitable establish- 
ment, for Singapore, and in November of the following 
year Mr. J. T. Thomson came to Singapore to take up the 
duties of the appointment. Soon after his arrival a 
notice was published calling upon all holders or occupiers 
of land to point out their boundaries, and the first serious 
survey of the island was undertaken. At this time 
agriculture was in a flourishing condition, and there were 
further demands for an improvement in the conditions 
on which land could be obtained from the Government, 
which now obtained the support of Mr. Bonham, Acting 
Governor, and of the Resident Councillor, Mr. Church. 


In a letter dated the 2 ist June 1 842, the former proposed 
the alienation in fee-simple of all land required for agri- 
cultural purposes within two miles of the limits of the 
town at a rate of ten rupees an acre, and of all land 
situated at a greater distance from the town at five 
rupees an acre, the rate of ten rupees to be subject to 
modification by the local authorities according to cir- 
cumstances. These proposals were referred to the 
Government of India, and approved in April 1843. A 
few exceptions were made in the case of certain lease- 
holders ; but the restrictions in their case were removed 
the following year, when it was declared that the object 
of the Government in relinquishing their rights in the soil 
for ever was not so much to secure an immediate and 
adequate pecuniary return as for the purpose of creating 
improving proprietors. In the case of town lands no 
modification was allowed, and the issue of ninety-nine 
year leases continued. 

The Court of Directors had previously left the matter 
to the discretion of the Government of India, and time 
has fully justified the criticism contained in the following 
comment made by them on receipt of the news of the 
decision : " From the map which you have now trans- 
mitted of the town and environs of Singapore it appears 
that the new limits within which the land is to be retained 
as the property of the Government coincide in most 
places with the present outline of the town, and that its 
future extension is scarcely at all provided for except on 
the western side. We presume that this was well 
considered ; but we should have expected that you would 
have reserved at so flourishing a Settlement a more 
ample margin for future increase." When it is remem- 
bered that three years previously Mr. Bonham had 
reported that there were many valuable spots adjacent 
to the town for which he could obtain a rental of five 
rupees an acre, and strongly urged the desirability of 
granting ninety-nine year leases for all land for which he 
could obtain this rent, and that among the areas affected 
by the decision were what is now the most densely 


crowded part of the town — the area round Sago Street, 
and locaUties hke Government Hill and Oxley Rise, 
situated over a mile from the mouth of Singapore River, 
it is easy to see that the Court of Directors took a sounder 
view of the matter than the authorities and the Govern- 
ment of India. 

The new titles — the existing freehold grants— are 
expressed as made under Indian Act X of 1842, an Act 
for the simplification of conveyancing, and from 1845 
onwards they were issued in large numbers. The original 
intention of granting them for the encouragement of 
agriculture was soon forgotten, and large areas were 
alienated which have remained tidal swamps until this 
day. Curiously enough the decline of agriculture 
started almost immediately afterwards, and in the major- 
ity of cases the Government had as little success in their 
endeavours to create improving proprietors as they had 
in obtaining an adequate pecuniary return. No change, 
however, was made in the land policy until the transfer 
of the Settlements to the Colonial Office in 1867. After 
that date a few grants in fee-simple were made, which 
may have been on terms previously approved ; but in the 
majority of cases the titles were 999-year leases, which in 
some cases contained a provision for renewal for a further 
period of 999 years. The rents fixed were very low, and 
there were no onerous conditions, so that these titles are 
practically as favourable as those granted by the East 
India Company and the Secretary of State for India 
before the Transfer. From i88o onwards the terms be- 
come harder, and for the first time appeared a condition 
prohibiting the use of land for burial purposes without 
the consent of the Governor, an indication of one of the 
great evils which had grown up under the previous 
system. The great drawbacks at this time were the 
absence of a systematic survey of the island and the 
inadequacy of the Land Office staff, which allowed 
encroachments on Crown land to go on unchecked, and 
favoured the accumulation of arrears of rent. It was 
obvious that the whole question of l^nd administration 


modified in favour of the Municipal Commissioners, but 
the principle of the Ordinance remains the same. 

In recent years, with the rise in the value of land due 
to the prosperity of the rubber industry, there has been 
a noticeable tendency towards the formation of large 
estates and the disappearance of the small fruit and 
vegetable cultivator from many parts of the island. A 
change of this nature can hardly be said to be in the 
best interests of the Settlement, and to counteract it 
there has been a marked increase in the number of 
permits for the temporary occupation of Crown land, 
which are renewed year after year, and have had con- 
siderable effect in keeping the small cultivator on the 
land. With the same object in view it has recently 
been decided to issue thirty-year leases at reduced rates 
of premium and quit rent, requiring the cultivation of 
one-fifth of the land with fruit and vegetables. It is 
hoped in this way to increase the supply of foodstuffs, 
and to give a better tenure than that of the annual 
permit, but at the same time one which will not be 
sufficiently attractive to encourage the absorption of the 
land in a large estate. 



By F. J. Hallifax, formerly President of the Municipal 
Commissioners , Singapore. 

A HISTORY of the Municipality of Singapore within the 
Umited space at the disposal of the writer must be either 
a bald chronological table with lists of names, events, and 
statistics, or must elect to refer the reader to other records 
for mere statistics, and content itself with being little 
more than a sketch. 

The chronological and statistical method, though 
doubtless it would appeal more strongly to a specialist, 
would be out of place in a history such as this, compiled 
as it is to commemorate one particular milestone in the 
life of the city. A century in the life of a city is " like 
an evening gone." What the archaeologist of a.d. 2019 
will seek to find in the archives of the Raffles Museum 
of his day will not be how many dollars we collected and 
how many we spent, but rather to get an idea of what 
sort of a city it was in its younger days. The dry bones 
of statistics are available in many forms, much more 
accurate and concise than any likely to be found in a 
Centenary History, and it is certainly not this volume 
that the student would take down from the shelves if 
he wished to lighten some dark spot of revenue, expendi- 
ture, or vital statistics. I will attempt, therefore, to 
outline the growth of the Municipality since its birth, 
making passing references to outstanding events and 
persons only so far as they affect the Municipality, and 
must leave the curious reader to fill in details of the 
picture for himself from the materials to be found in 



musty records of the Municipality or of the Government. 
For interesting incidents and persons other than muni- 
cipal the reader must seek elsewhere in this volume. 
Lists and rows of figures unfortunately cannot be alto- 
gether avoided, but they will be introduced as sparingly 
as possible. 

Municipal government owes its life in the first instance 
to the need for roads. Before long roads have to be 
followed by drains, and then by the collection and destruc- 
tion qf the refuse that accumulates on and in them. 
The provision of means of lighting would probably 
follow next, water supply being still left to individual 
effort, and not becoming a municipal care till a later 
period. Then with the growth of the community it 
becomes necessary to interfere with private and insani- 
tary ways of living and of obtaining water, and a 
Municipal Water Supply and Markets would be estab- 
lished, which in turn would lead to the evolution of a 
Health Department. would come organised 
protection from fire. Legislation for the constitution 
of the Governing Body would not necessarily be an early 
stage in the evolution, though the collection of money 
to pay communal expenses would have to be provided 
for from the beginning. Such things as building 
regulations, public gardens, and amenities would only 
come within municipal purview at a much later stage, 
with means of public transport and public housing 
probably last of all. 

The bibliography of the Municipality can be dismissed 
in a very few words. In the beginning there was no 
special municipal law, the town, such as it was, being 
administered directly by the Central Government. But 
the Government had other things to attend to, and was 
apt not to give as much attention to the parish pump as 
the inhabitants of the town thought it deserved. So 
agitation was set on foot, and produced a Municipal 
Committee or Watch Committee, the first embryo of 
the Municipal Commissioners of to-day. It was modest 
in its scope, and was concerned chiefly with providing 


and upkeeping a small force of police to keep order in the 
town, though it also drew the attention of the Government 
to such abuses as it considered should be dealt with, a 
function that it shared for many years with the Grand 
Jury. Various Committees were formed to attend to 
drains, street lighting, and regulation of buildings, the 
first recorded being in 1822, but no special municipal 
law was enacted. The Committees were appointed as 
occasion demanded ad hoc, and had no continuous life, 
nor were they in any way representative. Naturally 
they failed to give satisfaction. Strong protests about 
them induced the Government in 1854 to take steps to 
extend the Indian Municipal Laws to the town, but it was 
not till 1856 that an Act to establish a Municipality was 
passed. This remained the charter of the town for thirty 
years. The transfer of control from the East India 
Company to the Home Government involved merely the 
adoption of the Indian Act, which was not superseded till 
1887, when the first Municipal Ordinance by the Straits 
Settlements Government was passed. The representa- 
tion on the Governing Body was intended to be popular. 
In this it cannot be said to have had any conspicuous 
success. This Ordinance remained in force till i8g6, 
when an amplified Ordinance superseded it, which was 
in turn repealed and superseded by the Municipal 
Ordinance of 191 3, the law in force to-day. By the 
last-mentioned Ordinance all pretence of popular 
representation on the Board of Municipal Commissioners 
was finally abandoned. It had never been more than a 
fiction, and had led to abuses. It is (more or less) 
authentically related that one of the infrequent contested 
elections was won by one vote by an astute candidate 
with a memory for faces. He sat at the polling-booth all 
day. Voters were not numerous, and it was easy to tell 
for whom their votes would be cast. As the hour for 
closing the poll drew near, it was pretty clear that there 
was going to be a dead-heat. This was a contingency 
that had not been altogether unexpected, and an extra 
voter or two had been induced to remain in reserve in an 


adjoining hotel. The proud privilege of exercising their 
rights of " popular representation " would not alone 
have brought them to the booth, but they were willing 
to wait and confer the honour of their votes on anyone 
who would supply them with refreshments at inter- 
vals. At the psychological moment one was supported 
to the polling station, and his strategic use of re- 
serves duly rewarded the candidate by a victory by 
one vote. 

An index to the activities of the Municipality will be 
afforded by its finances. In the beginning whatever 
funds were required were doled out of the general 
revenues of the Government. There was trouble about 
using such funds for the benefit purely of the inhabitants 
of Singapore, and in 1825 or .1826 an assessment on 
houses to defray expenses of municipal works had already 
been established. It brought in about $400. Previously 
the Committees had evidently been hard put to it to 
find money, the most original method of raising it being a 
proposal to have a public lottery for the purpose. In 
1840 the assessment on houses was fixed at 8| per cent., 
reduced to 8 per cent, in 1843, but very little appears to 
have been attempted. Buckley records that in 1843 
" $1,900 was spent on roads " and " a sum of $18.62 
was spent to enclose the Esplanade." 

With the passing of the Municipal Act of 1856 the 
revenue and expenditure were put on a more regular 
basis. The rapidity of the growth of the town as 
revealed in the accounts of income and expenditure is 
remarkable. In 1856, the first year after the establish- 
ment of a regular municipality, the income amounted to 
$56,688.72 and the expenditure to $62,799.96. Inci- 
dentally this is instructive as an early instance of 
precocity. To spend more than your income is perhaps 
normal for municipal commissioners of longer-established 
municipalities, but it would have been expected, perhaps, 
that in their first year they would have cut their coat 
more according to their cloth. 

In 1863 the revenue had increased to $114,928.87. 


The expenditure was on the right side of this for the first 
time, and stood at $103,319.62. 

Twenty-five years later, in 1888. the revenue stood at 
$597,929.48 and the expenditure at $S39.097-SS« This 
was the first year after the new Municipal Ordinance 
had been brought into force. Taking the figures of 
municipal revenue and expenditure as the criterion 
from 1887 onwards, the growth of the town was steady 
if not rapid. This continued till 1902, when there was 
a slight set-back ; but the progress was resumed the next 
year, and has continued ever since. The $597,929.48 
of 1888 had grown to $4,514,543 in 1917, and expenditure 
had increased from $539,097.55 to $4,263,787. For 
the growth of thirty years these figures are remarkable. 

With the passing of the Municipal Act of 1856 a 
regular Municipal Council was established. The first 
Chairman was Captain H. T. Marshall, Superintendent of 
the P. and O. Company, and member of the Chamber 
of Commerce. A secretary was naturally appointed at the 
same time, the first holder of the post being Mr. C. R. 
Rigg, who held it for ten years. Captain Marshall's 
tenure of office "was only for one year. When he vacated 
his appointment there seems to have been some difficulty 
in filling it, for no less than three other gentlemen held 
the office before the next twelve months. 

The Directory for 1857 gives ' ' Assessment Department, 
Commissioners, pro tern., Chairman H. T. Marshall, 
Captain McPherson, Thomas Dunman, ex officio, John 
Harvey, Tan Kim Seng ; Secretary and Collector of 
AssessmentjChristopher Robert Rigg; Overseer of Works, 
L. Pahill, temporary office. Commercial Square, over 
Messrs. J. G. Boyd and Co.'s godown." In 1861 the 
Municipal Secretary had a room in the Police Office, and 
the Commissioners held meetings in the old Court House. 

Afterwards Captain Macpherson seems to have held 
the substantive appointment for ten years till 1869, 
with short intervals, probably when he was on leave. 
During the intervals the office was temporarily filled by 
others, of whom the best known in the history of Singa- 


pore is Mr. W. H. Read, who was Chairman for a few 
months in 1 869. He again held office from 1 875 to 1 880. 
Mr. J. W. W. Birch, whose subsequent death in 1875 in 
Perak led indirectly to the estabhshment of the Federated 
Malay States, was Chairman from 1 870 to 1 874. Captain 
McCallum, R.E., afterwards Sir H. E. McCallum, 
G.C.M.G., Governor of Ceylon, was Chairman for three 
years, from 1883 to 1886. Mr. Alexander Gentle was 
Chairman for ten and a half years, from June 1890 to 
the end of 1900, the longest single period. There was 
one interval in it of eight months, in 1897, when Mr. W. 
Egerton, afterwards Sir W. Egerton, K.C.M.G., Governor 
of British Guiana, acted for Mr. Gentle while the latter 
was on leave. From the retirement of Mr. Gentle to 
the present time the office has been held by Messrs. 
J. O. Anthonisz, two and three-quarter years ; W. Evans, 
three months ; E. G. Broadrick, six and a half years ; 
F. J. HalHfax, seven and a half years ; W. Peel, at 
present in office, with short intervals during which 
Messrs. J. Polglase, R. J. Farrer, and Dr. W. R. C. 
Middleton have acted during the absence on leave of the 
substantive holder. 

The office of Municipal Secretary has seen fewer 
changes. The first Secretary was Mr. C. R. Rigg, who 
held office from 1 856 to 1 866, when he resigned. He was 
succeeded by Mr. H. Hewetson, who came from the Land 
Office. He died in 1 882, and is chiefly remembered as an 
enthusiastic amateur conjurer. Judging from the pieces 
of discarded conjuring apparatus left lying about, he 
appears to have found time to keep his hand in practice 
during business hours. He was succeeded by Mr. D. G. 
Presgrave, who went on leave in 1891 and did not return 
to Singapore. The vacant office was filled by Mr. John 
Polglase, who still holds it in the centenary year, 
a period of continuous service of more than a quarter 
of the total life of Singapore. 

Of the municipal engineers, the first was Mr. J. W. 
Reeve, who was appointed in 1858. Previous to that 
time such advice as was required in engineering matters 


I. 320] 


was provided by the technical advisers of the Govern- 
ment, occasionally supplemented by civil engineers in 
practice in the town. Subsequent holders of the 
appointment were Mr. Carrington (died at Batavia in 
1878 while on short leave), Mr. Howard Newton (went 
to Bombay and died in 1897 of cholera), and Mr. T. C. 
Cargill. Mr. Cargill left the Municipal service in 1883, 
and set up in practice in the town as a civil engineer. 
He designed the present Coleman Bridge, and built 
part of it as a contractor. Mr. James MacRitchie was 
appointed in 1883. He built the filters at Bukit Timah 
Road, and did much to improve the roads of the town. 
On his death, in 1895, Mr. S. Tomlinson was appointed 
from Bombay. He held the office till 1900, when he 
resigned, and was succeeded by Mr. R. Peirce. Mr. 
Peirce effected a very great number of changes and im- 
provements during his tenure of office, the most impor- 
tant of which are the extension and improvement of the 
water supply and the installation of a water-carriage 
system for sewage for the city. He resigned on account 
of ill- health in 191 6. The work of the appointment had 
by that time increased so greatly that it was decided to 
split up the duties. Mr. B. Ball was appointed Municipal 
Engineer for roads, sewers, and general engineering 
works, and Mr. S. Williams was put in independent 
charge of the waterworks. The lighting of the town 
was also at the same time made an independent charge, 
under the control of Mr. J. P. Hallaway as Gas Engineer 
and Mr. J. H. Mackail as Electrical Engineer. That is 
the constitution of the Municipal Engineering Depart- 
ment in the centenary year. The pubhc health of the 
town seems to have been left to look after itself for many 
years. Epidemics of disease fortunately never became 
serious, and such advice as was required was supplied by 
the Medical Officer of the Government. It was not till 
the Municipal Ordinance of 1887 was passed that a 
separate Municipal Health Department was established. 
Dr. W. Gilmore Ellis, of the Government Medical Service, 
carried on the duties till 1 892, when Dr. E.G. Dumbleton 
I — 22 


was appointed. He held office only for about a year, 
and was succeeded by Dr. W. R. C. Middleton, the present 
Municipal Health Officer. After a few months in the 
office in 1893, Dr. Middleton went to England in order to 
qualify in Public Health. He returned in January 
1894 with the Diploma of Public Health, and has held 
the appointment of Municipal Health Officer for the 
quarter of a century that has since elapsed. During his 
periodical absences on leave, the work was carried on 
by Dr. J. A. R. Glennie, his chief assistant. 

The lack of a properly organised Health Department 
in the early years had its inevitable consequence. The 
growth of the town was only regulated in externals, and 
that but very slightly, while out of sight the insanitary 
conditions of China were perpetuated in their new homes 
by the ever-increasing stream of Chinese immigrants 
who were attracted by the growing trade of the country. 
Houses were not built fast enough to accommodate new 
arrivals, and overcrowding was the result. The resis- 
tance to disease acquired by generations of living in 
insanitary conditions in their own country enabled the 
Chinese to support conditions in Singapore that would 
have exterminated a race less inured to them. But, as 
the Health Department became more firmly established, 
and as more reliable statistics of death and disease 
became available, it became obvious that everything was 
not as it should be. Professor W. J. Simpson was 
selected to come out from England and report on the 
sanitary conditions of the town. He made an exhaustive 
examination of the town in 1906, and submitted a very 
complete report, which disclosed an appalling state of 
affairs in the life below the surface. The result has been 
that enormous sums of money have had to be spent in the 
closing years of the first century of the life of the city to 
undo the damage caused by the laissez faire policy of 
previous years. As the century closes the authorities are 
keenly alive to the need of sanitary improvements in the 
housing and habits of the people, much good work has 
been done, and much more is under consideration. But 


w tf 



the cost of undoing the damage will be enormous, and 
the inhabitants of the town will need to make up their 
minds to support a heavy burden of taxation before they 
will be able to claim that their city is as good as it 
ought to be. 

The town is well served with roads. Raffles took 
care that this should be the case, and ensured it by the 
instructions he issued in 1 822 to the Committee appointed 
to arrange the planning of the town. This minute of 
the 4th November 1822 may be called the first Town 
Planning Act for Singapore. The Committee were 
instructed " to line out the different streets and highways, 
which should as far as practicable be at right angles." 
The breadth of streets was left undetermined ; evidently 
the point had been discussed, but there had been differ- 
ence of opinion. Detailed instructions were given with 
the purpose of having an orderly and well-laid-out town, 
with " kampongs " reserved for various nationalities. 
Within the limits laid down (three miles along the coast 
from Teluk Ayer to opposite Tanjong Rhu, and inland for 
a distance varying from half a mile to a mile), the roads 
and streets then laid down are the streets of to-day. 
The parallel streets from Beach Road inland as far as 
Bencoolen Street on the north side of the river represent 
the oldest portion of the town. On the south side the 
land was a swamp, and such orderly and easy arrange- 
ment was not possible, though the inland portion as far 
as Cross Street was evidently dealt with by the 
Committee. But this must have been at a much later 
date, for it is obvious from the absence of bridges that 
practically all the life of the town was on the north side. 
A single wooden bridge, built about 1822, was for many 
years the only direct connection between the two banks, 
other than that afforded by a ferry service. A second 
bridge was apparently not required till 1840, when a 
brick bridge was built by Mr. Coleman, and called after 
him. This joined New Bridge Road and Hill Street, and 
remained in existence till 1886, when it was replaced by 
the present structure, but retained its name. The first 


Elgin Bridge was renewed in 1843. Cavenagh Bridge 
was built in 1 868, and remains now as originally designed. 
It may be conjectured that the period about 1880 to 
1890 saw the most rapid development of the business 
quarter on the south side of the river. Ord Bridge 
(1886), Read Bridge (1889), and the two bridges at 
Pulau Saigon ( 1 890) were all built in that period ; and 
Battery Road itself was found to be too narrow for the 
busy traffic of the business quarter, and had to be widened 
in 1890. 

Anderson Bridge, the most imposing of the bridges 
over the Singapore River, was built in 1910. Something 
had to be done to relieve the congestion caused by the 
narrowness of Cavenagh Bridge : it was decided not to 
attempt to enlarge it, but to build an entirely new bridge 

Roads added later may occasionally be identified by 
their names, e.g. New Bridge Road, which undoubtedly 
was made about the time that Coleman Bridge was made 
( 1 840) ; Prinsep Street was made through the land 
granted in 1859 to C. H. Prinsep for a nutmeg estate, and 
would therefore date subsequently to that grant. 
Havelock Road, Neil Road, and Outram Road bear their 
dates upon them; they were made about 1857, ^J^d 
named after the heroes of the Indian Mutiny. A map 
of the town dated 1858 shows Orchard Road extending 
only to where the junction with Nassim Road is now. 
There is much to be said in favour of a system of naming 
roads and streets by which some indication is given of 
the dates of their construction. 

Grange Road was made about 1 866 ; it previously 
existed as a private pathway through Dr. Oxley's 
property, but only as far as where Irwell Bank Road 
now is. Paterson Road was opened up at the same 
time through private property. It was foolishly saddled 
with conditions imposed by the owners of the property, 
which have operated to its detriment as a public road 
ever since. 

The roads within the municipal limits in the centenary 

c = 



year extend to about 119 miles. The state in which 
they are maintained has often been the subject of favour- 
able comment by visitors from other cities, though it 
must be confessed that the inhabitants of Singapore 
have not always been so loud in praise. The amount of 
money spent on the roads is naturally very great, and 
out of all comparison with the expenditure in the earlier 
days, when roads were often mere tracks, when there were 
no rubber- tyred vehicles and no motor-cars. We have 
become more exacting than our forefathers in the 
standard we require in our roads, and naturally the bill 
for maintenance corresponds. In the last years of its 
first century of life Singapore spends annually very little 
short of half a million dollars in keeping its roads in order. 

The Conservancy of the town, one of the most im- 
portant spheres of activity of the Municipality, has 
grown from nothing to its present dimensions. Drains 
and refuse had to look after themselves till they obtruded 
too much on public notice. Then spasmodic attempts 
were made to deal with them, the first recorded being 
in 1827, when a Committee was appointed to look into 
the question and get the frontagers to build their drains. 
The Committee did as much as it could, and reported 
about a mile of drains completed in the town. System- 
atic destruction of refuse was not established till 1889, 
when the first incinerators were built at Jalan Besar. 
These were supplemented by additional ones erected at 
Tanjong Pagar and Alexandra Road, and all the refuse 
of the town, amounting to about 600 cartloads a day, 
is now scientifically destroyed. About 2,000 coolies are 
now permanently employed in cleaning the drains and 
keeping the streets free of refuse. 

The disposal of sewage has always been a difficult 
question. The style in which the town is built and the 
absence of access to the backs of the houses make 
collection by hand an unsatisfactory method. Sewers, 
on the other hand, were said to be unsuitable for a town 
in the tropics with an ignorant population. The advocates 
of a sewerage system made no progress till Professor 


Simpson, in 1906, issued his report on the sanitary 
requirements of the town. He strongly advocated 
sewers, and recommended the Shone system of evacu- 
ation by automatic ejectors worked by compressed air. 
The low levels on which the town is built make it impos- 
sible to have a complete system of gravitation sewers, 
and pumping, automatic or otherwise, seemed to be the 
only remedy. In 1911 the Municipal Engineer, Mr. R. 
Peirce, submitted a scheme by which the town was divided 
into sections. Gravitation sewers were to be used to 
certain central points, whence the contents of the sewers 
were to be pumped to a distance and there disposed of 
in accordance with the latest scientific methods. The 
scheme found more favour than Professor Simpson's, 
which was to have been very costly, and was adopted 
by the Municipal Commissioners to be carried out. 
Progress was retarded by the Great War, but the close of 
Singapore's first century sees the city with the frame- 
work of a modern sewage system, and with an installation 
for disposal of sewage in full and satisfactory operation 
at Alexandra Road. 

The water supply of a large city is always an 
important and often a troublesome question. In the 
early days of Singapore this did not trouble the heads 
of the Local Government over much, and the inhabitants 
naturally were quite content to draw their water from 
wells without any care for the future. In the first 
instance the authorities did not appear to be so much con- 
cerned for the supply to the people as for the supply to 
the shipping. Singapore's importance depended on its 
attractiveness to trading vessels, and it was highly 
important that vessels should be induced to touch at 
the port for fresh water. There were no streams in the 
island suitable for water supply, so a small reservoir was 
built. It was inadequate and badly made, and as early 
as 1823, less than five years after the flag was hoisted 
in Singapore, Mr. Crawfurd, the Resident, proposed to 
spend $1 ,000 on a new reservoir and waterworks. But 
nothing was done for the supply of the city, which 


depended as before entirely on wells. As the town grew 
the wells became more and more inadequate and more 
and more insanitary. What had been a well in an open 
garden or compound, reasonably capable of providing 
good water, had become a well in the courtyard of a 
house, surrounded on all sides by a crowded population 
whose drainage was the source of the water at the bottom 
of the well. Complaints were frequent, and much 
hardship was suffered in times of drought ; but by some 
fortunate chance no epidemic of disease seems to have 

In 1852 a report was made byJ.T. Thomson, proposing 
a scheme for the supply of water to the town from the 
head-waters of the " Singapore Creek." It was to cost 
;£28,ooo to complete, and was to provide 546 million 
gallons of water a year. The establishment required for 
maintenance was to be two peons and ten convicts 
under the supervision of an officer. Nothing came of this 
scheme. In 1857 Tan Kim Seng offered $13,000 for the 
purpose of bringing water to the town ; he proposed to 
get it from Bukit Timah. Nothing practically came 
of this scheme either for about five years, when it was 
finally decided to make an impounding reservoir at 
Thomson Road. For this, of course, far more money was 
required than Tan Kim Seng's $13,000, so that donation 
was used in erecting a fountain near Johnston's Pier to 
commemorate his generosity. The fountain was erected 
in 1882. 

The impounding reservoir at Thomson Road, for 
which the plans were approved about 1862, remained 
the only source of water till 1900. It had had to be 
enlarged about 1891, and again in 1904. In 1900 the 
Kallang River Reservoir was constructed, part of an 
elastic larger scheme which was to be put in hand as 
the need for more water should arise. This need was 
made very evident by a water famine which occurred in 
1902, which caused much discomfort to the inhabitants 
and a good deal of trouble to the authorities. Each of 
these schemes required supplementary service reservoirs 


to allow the water to reach the houses by gravitation. 
The service reservoir on Mount Emily was the first of 
these, built about 1878. It was followed twenty years 
later by the service reservoir on Pearl's Hill. 

The water from the impounding reservoir was received 
at a pumping station at the foot of Mount Emily. Thence 
it was pumped up to the high-level reservoir. No 
filtration took place till about 1889, when the first 
filters at Bukit Timah Road were constructed. Since 
that date the filters at this station have been gradually 
extended, between the years 1892 and 1895, and after- 
wards again between 1898 and 1904, and between 1906 
and 191 1. At the present time there are seventeen 
filters at Bukit Timah Road. But this was not enough 
to deal with all the water supplied to the town, and when 
the Kallang River impounding reservoir was built in 
191 1 an additional battery of nine filters was constructed 
at Woodleigh. The total area of the filters at the present 
time is very nearly thirteen acres. Even this is not 
always sufficient ; a small proportion of unfiltered water 
has frequently to be used for consumption in three or 
four months in every year when consumption is heavy. 
Not that this is a point of any great importance ; the 
necessity of filtering the water at all has always been 
questioned from a sanitary point of view. The catch- 
ment areas for the two impounding reservoirs have been 
cleared of all human habitation or activity, and possible 
sources of contamination have been carefully excluded. 
If it were not for the fact that unfiltered water is apt 
to cause deposits in the pipes, and so both to increase 
the expense of pipes owing to shorter life, and to de- 
crease the amount of water that the pipes can carry, 
there would be no necessity to filter the water at all. 
The area of the Thomson Road catchment is 1,890 acres, 
and of Kallang River catchment 3,007 acres, the two 
reservoirs between them being capable of holding a 
supply of water sufficient for the requirements of the 
town for a period of several months, even if no rain 
fell at all. 


The pumps for elevating the water to the high-level 
reservoirs at Mount Emily and Pearl's Hill are capable of 
dealing with about 9,500,000 gallons a day. This was 
considered quite a safe maximum not so many years ago. 
Thomson's water scheme in 1852 provided for a total 
annual supply of 546,000,000 gallons, a good deal less 
than 2,000,000 gallons a day. Thomson doubtless had 
an eye to future requirements, but his calculations of 
the probable growth of Singapore were very wide of 
the mark. The 7,000,000 gallons a day mark has been 
habitually passed for some years, and the 9,000,000 
gallon mark is now too near to be safe. Further exten- 
sions both of the pumping plant and of the high-level 
service reservoirs are indicated for very early in the 
second century of the existence of Singapore. The site 
for an additional high-level reservoir has already been 
obtained from the Government, on Fort Canning. 

It is extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, to 
ascertain the total amount of money that has been sunk 
in the various works for the supply of water to the town. 
It has, however, been ascertained that $686,872 were 
paid between 1878 and 191 8 for the various pieces of land 
required for the impounding reservoirs, filters, service 
reservoirs, and pumping stations, offices, etc. 

In the same period of forty years $2,321,017 were spent 
in construction works on the two impounding reservoirs 
and $469,597 on the service reservoirs at Mount Emily 
and Pearl's Hill. Filters absorbed $2,427,936 from 
1889 to 191 3 ; buildings for the Water Department 
$200,786 from 1878 to 1914. 

The pumping station was first installed in 1878 ; but 
the engines had to be replaced by more powerful ones in 
1893, at a cost of about $67,000 ; and again in 1902-6, 
when the existing set of Worthington pumps was in- 
stalled, at a cost of $145,000. The total money sunk 
in the pumping station and plant is calculated to be 
$282,539. Mains represent a total outlay of $2,125,888 
between 1878 and to-day, and meters $214,991. 

The grand total of capital outlay in the waterworks 


as they exist to-day, and excluding the not inconsiderable 
sums occasionally spent in the earUer years before the 
water system assumed its present form, is calculated to 
be $8,8i 1,054. 

The lighting of a town is of nearly as great importance 
as its water supply, and should be before it in point of 
time, and it is in some measure an index both of its 
prosperity and orderly government. Absence of good 
lighting means increased opportunity for evil-doers. 
The history of Singapore is full of references to gang 
robberies and burglaries, some of which attained almost 
to the dignity of military operations. In 1 842 an attack 
was made by an armed body of about fifty persons on 
a house near the river in South Bridge Road, and other 
similar robberies were of frequent occurrence. An 
attack on a house on Mount EUzabeth in 1846 was 
carried out by a gang of about 200 Chinese, and appears 
to have been a regular siege. With better lighting of 
the streets the chances of escape became much less 
favourable, and we hear less about gang robberies, 
though they continue, of course, to occur. 

The streets were first lighted in 1824, but the lighting 
was very feeble. Oil-lamps (probably coconut oil or 
animal oil) continued to be the only medium of light 
till 1864, when gas was used for the first time, supphed 
by the newly established Gas Company. Petroleum did 
not begin to be used till 1868. The Gas Company 
continued in existence till 1900, when it was purchased 
by the Municipality, and has been a Municipal Depart- 
ment ever since. The purchase-price was settled at 
£41 ,420. There have been many additions and improve- 
ments to the plant in subsequent years, so that the 
capital value of the concern in 1917 stood at $1,282,510. 
It has been an excellent investment financially, contri- 
buting a handsome profit each year to the relief of rates. 
But it is questionable whether a smaller degree of pros- 
perity would not really have been a greater advantage 
to the town, for it cannot be denied that the prosperity 
of the gas-works has not been without influence in 


holding back the more extended use of electricity. In 
this respect Singapore is very far behind the times, a 
fact to which the municipal authorities have at last 
awakened. But for the Great War this reproach would 
have been removed before the centenary year. 

The electric lighting of the town was installed in 1906, 
the light being used for the first time on the 6th March 
in that year. The current is purchased in bulk from the 
Singapore Electric Tramway Company and sold by the 
Municipality for distribution as a monopoly. The 
installation at present covers only a small portion of the 
town — the suburbs are untouched. The financial results 
of this arrangement are moderately satisfactory ; but the 
initial mistake of failing to provide its own generating 
station will always, it is to be feared, be an obstacle to 
prevent the Municipality from reaping as great benefit 
as it might otherwise have done. 

One of the most noticeable features of Singapore is 
the character of the traffic in its streets. In the earlier 
days the Municipality, such as it was, concerned itself 
very little about the traffic. The most it did was to 
enumerate vehicles and horses, and collect taxes on 
them. The returns for 1840 showed 170 four-wheeled 
and forty-four two-wheeled carriages, with 266 ponies ; 
from which it may be inferred that a certain amount of 
locomotion was on horseback. Contemporary accounts 
of the state of the roads would confirm this. No great 
change in the character of the traffic took place for 
forty years, though naturally its volume increased. 
Horses and ponies were universally used, and the horse 
trade was a big business. Horse auctions were held 
periodically in Raffles Square— it was not till 1886 that 
they were discontinued. In 1880 there arrived the first 
specimens of the jinrikisha, which was eventually des- 
tined to become such a distinctive part of Singapore 
street life. Jinrikishas were first imported from Shang- 
hai in that year. They became popular at once, though 
apparently naturally not with the drivers of gharries, 
who saw their bread being taken from their mouths. 


and who accordingly struck work and caused a good 
deal of inconvenience in 1881, the year after the jin- 
rikishas arrived. But they grew in numbers year by 
year, till at the present time there are about 9,000 daily 
plying for hire in the streets, with an army of 20,000 
coolies, who gain their living by pulling them. It was 
not to be expected that such a number of ignorant 
coolies would be kept in order without some trouble. 
Threats of strikes and attempts at disturbances have at 
times been made, but nothing of importance has ever 
come of them. The most serious was a strike which 
lasted for seven days in January 1903. At first the 
control was in the hands of the pohce. It was not till 
1888 that it was handed over to the Municipality. The 
increasing number of jinrikishas (there were about i ,800 
of them then) was causing concern to the authorities, 
who proposed to limit their numbers ; but this proposal 
was never acted on. A special department to look after 
them was established in 1892, and a special Jinrikisha 
Ordinance passed in that year (Ordinance V of 1892). 
The control is now regulated by the Municipal Ordinance 
of 191 3, but the special department remains. 

But for jinrikishas and a certain number of gharries, 
which are gradually becoming altogether extinct, 
Singapore is badly served in the matter of means of 
locomotion. Steam trams were started in 1 885, and ran 
as far as Rochore, but the enterprise had a life of only a 
few years. In 1905 the Singapore Electric Tramways 
Company was established, the only public transport 
company in Singapore. The effect of cheap and rapid 
transport is very clearly evident in the districts served 
by the Company, where new suburbs are in process of 
springing up. 

The volume of traffic in the main arteries at the present 
time is surprising. In a period of twelve hours 12,572 
vehicles were counted passing over Cavenagh Bridge, 
14,451 over Coleman Bridge. The majority were 
naturally jinrikishas. Of these, statistics were taken 
in 191 7 over six main bridges simultaneously for one 


period <rf tvdve horns, and die residt siiowed that 
72,772 jinriktshas cr os s e d one waef or die odwr in that 

Statistics of tiaflh: do not aiyrar to have been taken 
at any r^iolar inlava ls. Compaiisans are tbocfete 
impossiU^ bat ^nres are araibblr for 1910 and 1917- 
These show that 214 motor-cais crossed Andoson Bkii%e 
in 1910 in tivdvc boms, cnmpared with 2/167 ™ ^9^7- 
This is pcihaps not smprisnig, wfaui it is icmenibered 
that the nse of motor-cais is of such modem giumtlh ; hot 
boOock-caits have been witii OS fiton the bc^imung, and 
nn^^ ahnoist be eiqiected to d e ticj& e in »—"■>«**'> as 
motor traffic i u a e ase d . Y^ in 1917 i;oo6 boDoi^- 
carts crossed Ii i sliluli on Bridge, near the Raffles Hotd, 
in LwiJvc horns, <iiwmiaied with 563 in 1910. 

The m imirip a l m arkets of 5Sn ga p ore are five in 1 
atthepresoittinie. The nerd far adifitionala 
tion Ibs abcad^been reoognised, and at least two 
ones win before hwg have to be built. The fiist m ar ket 
was bodh in 1822. It was a fish maiket at Tdnk Ayer, 
and had to be removed before kxig " as a m ea siu e of 
pofice " and " far the general c on v en ie n ce and deanfi- 
ness <tf the pboe." In 1825 anew bail£ng was erected, 
estimated to cost $4,316.60, on the site of tiie present 
Telnk .\yer Market. This was said to be a " vciy 
commodioas " one, an octagonal bnildii^ <rf 120 feet 
(fiameter. It was the only gmeral mai fcet in the town, 
and as early as 1841 it was very evident that it was not 
enoogh far the needs of the fdace. Kllmborough 
Market was boilt in i84S> fallowed by Rochore Market 
and Chrde Terrace Market in 1872. FHtmbii^i»^l i 
Market was enlarged in 1 899 by the adifitian of a boiUng 
vdiich formed part of the E diu b iu gh Ednfaitian of 
that time. The vdH^ baildDDig was bot^b^ as it stood, 
dismantled, txot^b^ oat and re-erected as a portioa of 
the market. The old baihfing at Tdnk Ayer was 
replaced by a larger m ark et in the year 1894. Ordiard 
Road Market was built in 1894, and Kanrfang Keiban 
Market in 1913. Between 1888 and 1917, diat is firam 


the date of the estabhshment of a formal Municipality 
to the present time, a total sum of $589,457 is recorded 
to have been spent on the erection and extension of the 
markets. The right to collect fees and tolls in the 
markets was " farmed " till 1909, the farmer finding it 
a very lucrative business. In the interests of public 
health the farm system was abolished in EUenborough 
Market in 1909, and in all the others in 191 o. The 
markets have since then been managed directly by the 
oflEicers of the Municipality. The profits have probably 
not been so great as under the farm system, but the loss 
is more than counterbalanced by the gain in cleanliness 
and good order. At the present time the markets 
bring in a gross revenue of nearly $300,000 per annum, 
and compare very favourably with markets in any of 
the other large Oriental cities. 

Singapore has, in the hundredth year of its existence, 
neither a Town Hall nor proper Municipal Offices. 

The first Town Hall was known as the Assembly Rooms, 
and was situated at the foot of Fort Canning, at the 
junction of Hill Street and River Valley Road. It was 
a very modest structure, with an attap roof. It lasted 
for ten years, and then had to be demolished. It was 
replaced by the Town Hall, where is now the Victoria 
Memorial Theatre. There was a great deal of trouble 
about the building of it, and there were quarrels about it 
at various times as long as it remained a Town Hall. 
The foundation-stone was laid by the Governor, Colonel 
Butterworth, in 1855, with elaborate ceremonial, but 
the building does not appear to have been completed 
till 1 86 1. It was used as assembly rooms, municipal 
offices, and library for many years, proving inconveni- 
ently small. In 1891 it was described as " Singapore's 
Black Hole." 

The Victoria Memorial Hall was begun in 1902, on a 
site adjoining the old Town Hall. The foundation-stone 
was laid by Sir F. A. Swettenham on the 9th August 
1902. It was completed in 1905, and formally opened 
by Sir John Anderson on the 18th October. The total 


cost was $357,388. It was perhaps intended to take 
the place of the Town Hall, which was converted into 
the present Victoria Memorial Theatre, but has never 
been put to any but very occasional use. 

The Municipal Offices were in the old Town Hall till 
1893, when they were moved to Finlayson Green, to the 
building now occupied by the Borneo Company. There 
they remained till 1900, when the present magnificent 
site was purchased for $300,000 ; but the magnificent 
offices to correspond remain still to be built. 

Singapore, as a municipality, is singularly lacking in 
public amenities. Botanical gardens exist, and a very 
good museum, but these are not in any way under the 
control of the Municipahty. The beautiful esplanade 
(fifteen and a half acres) is vested in the Municipality it 
is true, but the control and management are leased to 
the Singapore Cricket Club and Singapore Recreation 
Club. It was in 1 822 that this open space was saved by 
Colonel Farquhar from being handed over to the builders. 
Sir S. Raffles had intended all this district to be used for 
commercial offices, and it was only through Colonel 
Farquhar 's protest that this was not done. " We are 
indebted, therefore, to Colonel Farquhar for the present 
esplanade " (Buckley). The only other public open 
space is what is called " People's Park," at the foot of 
Pearl's Hill, and this is the only municipal open space 
in Singapore. It was handed over to the Municipality 
in 1 889 for use as a public garden and recreation 
ground. It must be confessed that it is not a success 
from either point of view. 

Of public monuments Singapore can boast of three : 
a statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, unveiled in 1887 in the 
middle of the Esplanade, and removed in the centenary 
year to its present site ; a memorial of the visit of the 
King of Siam, erected in 1872 in the form of a bronze 
elephant in front of the Town Hall ; and the Obelisk, at 
the mouth of the Singapore River, erected in 1850 to 
commemorate the landing in Singapore Island of the 
Marquis of Dalhousie. There is also the public fountain, 


erected in 1882 near Johnston's Pier, to commemorate 
a public-spirited offer by Mr. Tan Kim Seng to improve 
the water supply of the town. 

Incidentally it may be mentioned that the first 
specimens of the beautiful avenue of angsana trees at 
the Esplanade were brought from Malacca in the very 
first year or two of Singapore's history. The original 
trees flourished at the mouth of the river for sixty years 
before they died of decay. The existing avenue on the 
sea side of the Esplanade was planted about 1890. It 
afforded a glorious sight when the trees were in bloom, 
but it is to be feared that its days are numbered. The 
trees were attacked in 191 6 by an insidious fungus 
disease, which had already destroyed many trees in 
Penang, and many of them died in spite of all efforts to 
save them. 

In the course of its history the town went through 
the ordinary stages of development in the matter of 
protection from fires. First of all there was, as usual, 
unrestricted building and no protection at all. Raffles, 
in his foresight, laid out the main lines of streets, but he 
did not at first concern himself so much with the con- 
struction or position of the houses. The inevitable fires 
took place, and each one, on the well-known principle 
of locking the stable door after the theft, led to agitation 
for protection. A big fire is recorded in 1830, which 
caused damage to the extent of $350,000, and burned 
down Philip Street and one side of Market Street. " It 
cleared away a lot of badly constructed houses, and led 
to a great improvement in the street." By a curious 
coincidence, which had a habit of recurring in later years 
till quite a recent date, this fire took place at Chinese 
New Year. In those early days the only defence against 
fire was the use of convicts, troops, and volunteers to 
fight the flames. The next stage was the formation of 
a volunteer brigade, but many fires were necessary 
before this was achieved. From 1830 to 1843 the town 
appears to have been in danger, on several occasions, 
of being reduced to ashes. By 1 846 the popular agita- 




I. 336] 


tion seems at last to have resulted in one fire-engine 
(probably a manual) being provided, in charge of the 
police, but its services were not as effective as they might 
have been, owing to lack of water. By 1 864 the police 
had two engines, Guthrie's had one, and the convicts had 
one, so progress was not rapid, and much loss was suffered. 
But the town was indirectly benefited on each occasion 
by the destruction of numbers of huts and rickety houses. 
On one occasion as many as 210 native houses in 
Kampong Glam were burnt down, and on another 
about 140 (probably one-tenth of the town). 

It was not till 1880 or 1881 that anything like an 
efficient Brigade was organised, and it is interesting to 
note that its officers (volunteers) included a future 
Governor of Ceylon (then Captain H. E. McCallum), a 
future Governor of the Straits Settlements (then Mr. F. 
A. Swettenham), and a future Governor of Sierra Leone 
(then Mr. E. M. Merewether). This Brigade was small, 
but quite efficient as far as it went. The trouble was 
that it did not go far enough, and fires continued to 
occur and do great damage as before; the period just 
before the Chinese New Year seemed to be specially 
favourable for outbreaks. There were extensive fires 
in 1884, 1886, and 1890. In May 1889 a proposal was 
mooted to build a fire station in Raffles Square, but it 
was abandoned owing to local opposition. In 1888 
the Brigade took its present form of a properly equipped 
professional brigade. It proved costly in comparison 
with the old volunteer brigade, but its cost has been 
saved many times over to the town in the decrease in 
loss of property by fire. The time for " turn out " 
was reduced to a matter almost of seconds, and fires 
at Chinese New Year ceased to occur. When a powerful 
engine took to rushing up to a fire and getting to work 
to extinguish it within a few minutes of the outbreak, 
the causation of " accidental " fires ceased to have 
attractions. Traces of the causes of the " accident " 
were almost certain to be left, and then trouble occurred 
in recovering insurance moneys and in other ways. The 


annual loss by fire is now very small compared with the 
enormous value of the property at stake, and in view 
of the risks to which it is exposed. In the last ten years 
the average annual loss has been $51,500, a total which 
was greatly swelled by an exceptional loss of $183,000 
in 19 1 6. Since the Brigade became a municipal concern, 
in 1888, the total loss has been $2,671,000, an average 
of $89,000 a year. 

The Brigade is an all-motor one, with quite up-to-date 
equipment housed in two stations, the Central Station 
in Hill Street and a smaller station in Cross Street. 
Horses ceased to be used in 191 2. The outbreak of a 
fire continued to be signalled to the town by the firing 
of a gun on Fort Canning till 1896. In that year this 
signal was discontinued, and no public signal is now 
made. The Brigade depended on its own vigilance or 
on the telephone till 1915, when a system of street fire- 
alarms was installed, with alarm-boxes at convenient 

In the earliest days, naturally, as there was no 
Municipality, there were no municipal limits, but it 
was not long before it became evident that some limits 
would have to be fixed if the town was to develop in an 
orderly fashion. In 1822 Raffles took this in hand, and 
laid down his first skeleton plan for the future develop- 
ment of the city. He appointed a Commission, con- 
sisting of Captain Davis, Mr. George Bonham, and Mr. 
A. L. Johnston, to enquire and report how best the town 
should be laid out, giving them general directions for 
their guidance. Though his new Settlement was as the 
apple of his eye, and though no man more thoroughly 
appreciated the importance of the city he was founding, 
his first estimates of what it was likely to grow to were 
modest in the extreme. He thought a stretch of about 
three miles along the coast from Teluk Ayer to the 
Rochore River would be enough, with space reserved 
for extension inland for from half a mile to a mile. 
These, then, may be considered the first municipal 
limits, and Raffles 's Memorandum the first Town 


Planning Act. If he could revisit the scene of his work, 
he would find a city stretching from Pasir Panjang to 
Tanjong Katong, say eight to ten miles along the coast, 
and more than four miles inland. 

Raffles 's Memorandum was the first Municipal Ordi- 
nance, and it may claim to be as good as any that has 
followed it. It did not make vain attempt to deal with 
every mortal contingency, but contented itself with 
indicating the main lines by which the Commissioners 
should be guided, leaving much to discretion, and 
allowing for the possibility that circumstances might 
alter cases. 

The area of the Municipality in the centenary year of 
the city is about thirty square miles. The municipal 
limits were first definitely laid down in 1887, under the 
new Municipal Ordinance of that year. They remained 
unaltered for nearly twenty years before they were 
revised and republished again in 1906 under the provi- 
sions of the Municipal Ordinance of 1896. Since that 
date they have remained unchanged, with the exception 
that a portion of the Tanjong Katong district was 
included in 191 8. 

In 1827, nine years after the foundation of the town, 
the population was 13,732. There were no " municipal 
limits " then, but there was no population except in the 
town itself. In the next year the population had grown 
to 15,834. In 1 88 1 the census gave a population of just 
about ten times as great, 1 53,493. Since then the census 
has been taken regularly at ten-yearly periods, the figures 
for 1 891, 1901, and 191 1 being 161,595, 206,286, and 
259,610 respectively. In the centenary year the popu- 
lation within municipal limits is estimated to be 305,000. 

Singapore in the hundredth year of its life is a big 
city, equipped with good roads, magnificent harbour 
and dockyards, miles of wharves, a water supply 
adequate for its needs for many years to come, passably 
well lighted, and boasting a partial but efficient system 
of sewers by which the sewage is conveyed to a distance 
and disposed of by modern scientific methods. 


Many substantially built offices, banks, and godowns 
testify to the volume of its trade and the prosperity of its 
inhabitants. The many palatial dwelling-houses of the 
merchant princes, scattered far and wide over the suburbs, 
add their convincing testimony. Sir Stamford, " re- 
visiting the glimpses of the moon," might well feel proud 
of the city which he founded in the face of jealous 
opposition, which he nursed so wisely in its infancy with 
far-sighted solicitude, and whose growth and importance 
have so amply justified his most sanguine and confident 



By Hayes Marriott, Acting Colonial Secretary, Straits 


In attempting to write an account of the inhabitants 
and population of Singapore, it is necessary from the 
nature of the subject to rely almost entirely on the labours 
of those who have gone before. I have not hesitated to 
borrow from any source that was available to me, and 
I acknowledge my indebtedness to all those whose work 
has enabled me to compile this paper. 

Singapore is now, and since its foundation always has 
been, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. 
In 1897 J- D. Vaughan says that it contained twenty- 
eight or more nationalities. In the 191 1 census no less 
than fifty-four different languages were recorded as 
being spoken in the Settlement and forty-eight different 
races (counting Chinese and Indian as only one each) 
were represented. 

I propose to take the history of the population as nearly 
as possible in chronological order from the date of its 
foundation in 18 19, tracing its progress up to 191 1, 
when the last census before its hundredth birthday was 

At its foundation the population amounted to about 
150 individuals dwelling in a few miserable huts under 
the rule of an officer of the Sultan of Johore, styled the 
Temenggong. About thirty of them were Chinese and 
the rest Malays, who had accompanied the Temenggong 
when he settled in Singapore in 1 8 1 1 . 



Abdullah, the Munshi, who did not come to Singapore 
until several months after its foundation (and who 
cannot, therefore, be implicitly relied on) states that when 
Raffles landed there were on the banks of the Singapore 
River four or five small huts and a few coconut trees, 
and that the Temenggong lived in a somewhat larger 
hut. He states that at the end of Kampong Glam 
there were two or three huts belonging to Orang Laut, 
of the Glam tribe, where kajangs and sails were made. 

It seems very possible that the numbers of the Orang 
Laut may have been under-estimated. In 1848, in the 
Journal of the Indian Archipelago, there is a notice of a 
settlement of Beduanda Kalang in the Pulai River in 
Johore. These are said to have been the descendants 
of a settlement in Singapore which was removed by the 
Temenggong upon the cession of Singapore. They 
originally consisted of a hundred families, living in as 
many boats, but owing to the ravages of small-pox had 
by 1 848 dwindled down to eight families. Another tribe, 
the Orang Seletar, closely allied to the Beduanda Kalang, 
were still in considerable numbers in the rivers and 
creeks flowing into the Old Strait and into the estuary 
of the Johore River. 

In an account by an old inhabitant of Teluk Saga (pub- 
Ushed in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Straits 
Branch) who was living in 1 882, and who remembered the 
landing of Raffles, it is stated that there were at the time 
under one hundred small houses at the mouth of the 
river, and that the only large one was the Raja's (i.e. the 
Temenggong 's), which stood back from the river near 
where the Obelisk stood in 1882 (not far from the site 
of the Cricket Club). He also mentions that there were 
about thirty families of Orang Laut, half of whom lived 
in their boats near the site of the present Government 
Offices, and the other half in a place called Kampong 

Some of these Orang Laut were still in Singapore in 
1 82 1, for Crawfurd, in passing through Singapore, men- 
tions a visit from some of them. He describes them as 


of rough exterior, with an awkward and uncouth speech. 
Otherwise he could observe but Httle essential difference 
between them and other [sic] Malays. He says 
that they had adopted the Mohammedan religion, and 
were divided into at least twenty tribes, distinguished 
usually by the straits or narrow seas which they 
principally frequented. By far the greater number 
were born, lived, and died in their miserable canoes, and 
their sole occupation was fishing. They had been 
notorious as pirates, and he describes them as indolent, 
improvident, and defective in personal cleanliness. 

These Orang Laut, besides being the ancestors of some 
of the Johore settlers, are with little doubt also the 
ancestors of many of the present inhabitants of the 
villages of Selat Sinkheh and Teluk Saga on Pulo 
Brani. Abdullah the Munshi's description of men who 
" jumped into the sea from their boats, dived like fish, 
disappeared from sight, and rose again on the surface 
400 or 500 yards from where they went in " reminds one 
very much of their present day descendants, who clamour 
for silver pieces whenever a steamer enters or leaves the 

After its foundation the town of Singapore grew very 
quickly. On the nth June Raffles wrote that his new 
Colony was thriving most rapidly, and that though it 
had not been established four months it had received an 
accession of population exceeding 5,000; these, he added, 
were principally Chinese, and their numbers were daily 

In spite of the endeavours of the Dutch to prevent 
emigration from Malacca to the new Settlement, and in 
spite of the still greater dangers from pirates, good 
prices and high wages induced the Malacca Malays to 
take the risk. " Those who reached Singapore made 
profits of over 100 per cent., and when this became 
known the eagerness to go increased the more." Most of 
these emigrants were labourers and small shopkeepers, 
but within eight months fishermen also went, and within 
a year had erected fishing stakes in Singapore waters. 


Unfortunately the troubles of the Malacca Malays do 
not seem to have ended upon their arrival in Singapore, 
for Abdullah tells us that in the early days the truculent 
Rhio Malays were too much for the more peaceable 
immigrants, and that feuds between the two were con- 

As early as June 1819 the number of different nation- 
alities had so increased that it became necessary to make 
regulations regarding the allotment of locations. It 
was arranged that the Chinese should move to the 
southern side of the river, forming a kampong below a 
large bridge situated probably near where Elgin Bridge 
now is. All the Malays and people belonging to the 
Temenggong were to move to the same side of the river, 
to form a kampong above the bridge. 

The control of the island at this time was a double 
one. The English only held the land from Tanjong 
Malang to Tanjong Katong as far inland as the range 
of a cannon shot, but excluding the kampongs of the 
Sultan and Temenggong. All persons living within 
these boundaries were under the authority of the 
Resident ; outside, the inhabitants were under their 
respective captains, heads of castes, or Penghulus, with 
a right of appeal to a Council consisting of the Sultan, 
the Temenggong, and the Resident. 

In February 1820 the population was already more 
than three times that of Bencoolen, and was still rapidly 
increasing. In 1821 the population was estimated at 
4,727 persons, of whom twenty-nine were Europeans, 
2,851 Malays, and 1,159 Chinese. In July 1822 Raffles 
describes it as overstocked with merchants ; but in 
November of that year he appears to have changed his 
opinion, as he says that in little more than three years 
it had risen from an insignificant fishing village to a 
large and prosperous town containing at least 10,000 
inhabitants of all nations, actively engaged in commercial 
pursuits which afforded to each and all a handsome 
livelihood and abundant profit. 

In this year (1822) the Chuhahs (natives of Madras) 


had so increased in numbers that they petitioned for the 
appointment of a captain or headman, and in October of 
that year a Committee was appointed for appropriating 
and marking out the quarters or departments of the 
several classes of the population. It consisted of three 
European gentlemen, together with a representative 
from each of the principal classes of Arabs, Malays, 
Bugis, Javanese, and Chinese. In the directions given 
to this Committee for their guidance, suggestions were 
made for the location of the Chinese on the south-west 
of the river, the Bugis on the spot beyond the residence 
of the Sultan in Kampong Glam, the Chuliahs up the 
Singapore River, and the Arabs in Kampong Glam, 
immediately adjoining the Sultan's residence. The 
Malays, being principally attached to the Temenggong, 
would not, it was considered, require a very extensive 
allotment, and were expected to settle near Panglima 
Prang's (River Valley Road) and on the upper banks 
of the river. 

In January 1823 there were no less than nine European 
mercantile houses, and it is stated that there was abun- 
dant employment for capital as fast as it accumulated. 

In January 1824 the first census was taken. The 
population consisted of 10,683 persons, and included 
74 Europeans, 4,580 Malays, and 3,317 Chinese. 

In a report written about this time by Crawfurd 
(then Resident of Singapore), it appears that the Chinese 
were principally Macaos and Hokkiens. The latter are 
described as the most respectable and the best settlers. 
All the merchants and most of the good agriculturists 
were of this class. The Bengalis were few, and only 
menials ; the Klings were numerous and respectable 
traders ; the Bugis are described as numerous, and 
distinguished from the other islanders by industry and 
good conduct. They were, however, all traders and 
not agriculturists. 

With regard to the proportion between the sexes at 
this period, Mr. Crawfurd states that among the followers 
of the Sultan and Temenggong the proportion of women 


to men was two to one, but that among the free settlers 
this proportion was more than inversed, and that in the 
case of the Chinese the disproportion was so great that 
there were at least eight men to every woman. 

Censuses were taken in 1825, 1826, and 1827. In 
these censuses the floating population, the convicts from 
India, and the military withtheir followerswere excluded. 
In 1827 Crawfurd estimated that the convicts numbered 
about 600, the military about 1,300, and the floating 
population about 2,500. He states in regard to these 
censuses that the most rapid increase of the population 
took place after the formation of the Settlement, when 
the field was nearly unoccupied. The most numerous 
class of the inhabitants was the Chinese. In Singapore 
they were commonly divided into five classes, all 
industrious. These were the Creoles, a mixed race ; 
natives of Macao and other islands at the mouth of the 
Canton River ; natives of the town of Canton and other 
seaports of the Province of the same name ; natives of 
Fokien ; and, finally, a race of fishermen from the sea- 
coast of the Province of Canton, commonly denominated 
Ay a.' 

He describes the Creole Chinese as intelligent, always 
acquainted with the Malayan language, and occasionally 
with the English ; they were considered inferior in 
industry to the rest, but were beneficially employed as 
brokers, shop-keepers, and general merchants. The 
emigrants from Fokien were considered superior, both 
in respectability and enterprise, to the rest of their 
countrymen. Next to them came those of the town of 
Canton and other principal ports of that Province. The 
Chinese of Macao were not considered very respectable, 
and the lowest in the scale ; the most disorderly, but the 
most numerous, was the race of fishermen. 

The next numerous class of the population were the 
natives of the islands. Incapable of maintaining com- 
petition in almost any line with the Chinese, these had 

' I have been unable to identify this race. It is most probably that 
we now know as Teo-chiu. 


rather diminished than increased during the preceding 
four years. Their principal employment was as fisher- 
men, wood-cutters, boatmen, and petty cultivators and 
petty shop-keepers. The most respectable were the 
Bugis, who were almost always employed in trade. Of 
the pure Malays, the most docile and industrious were 
the emigrants from Malacca. The lowest in the scale 
were the Malays of the immediate neighbourhood, and 
the worst among those were the retainers of the native 

The Indians of the Malabar and Coromandel coast 
stood next to the Chinese, and of the Asiatic population 
came nearest to that industrious people in usefulness 
and intelligence. 

Speaking of the British settlers, Crawfurd states that 
during the first eight years of the history of the Settle- 
ment no restraint or condition whatever was imposed 
upon the settlement and colonisation of Englishmen, 
no licence was demanded, and they were permitted to 
own property in the land upon terms as liberal and easy 
as could be supposed in any new settled colony. Few 
as were the British settlers of Singapore, they constituted, 
in reality, the life and spirit of the Settlement ; and he 
adds that it could be safely asserted that without them, 
and without their existing in a state of independence and 
security, there would exist neither capital, enterprise, 
activity, confidence nor order. 

Censuses were again taken in 1829, 1830, 1832, 1833, 
1834, and 1836. 

In Mr. J. G. Bonham's report on the census of 1829 
he notes that the principal addition to the previous 
census appeared to be among the Chinese, and that 
though it was a notorious and well-authenticated fact 
that agriculture was on the decHne, indeed nearly 
extinct, yet no less that 883 more male Chinese appeared 
to be engaged in the interior of the island than in 1827. 
He had questioned some of the principal and best- 
informed Chinese on the point, and they fully corrobor- 
ated what the census showed, and they stated, what 


Mr. Bonham had reason to know, that numbers of 
Chinese Hved together in the country, without any 
visible means of Uvehhood, and who, there was too much 
reason to apprehend from the frequency of robberies 
recently, must live entirely on plunder. He considered 
that the surplus of the Chinese population had come over 
from Rhio. 

The figures for these earlier censuses cannot, however, 
be regarded as very accurate. In 1833 we are told 
that they were collected by the two constables who were 
attached to the Settlement, and who had many other 
duties to perform. No fixed principle was adopted 
with regard to the headings " Europeans," " Native 
Christians " and " Indo-Britons." Some enumerating 
officers appear to have included as " Europeans " all 
who wore European clothes, while others seem to have 
endeavoured to distinguish those who really were of 
European extraction. Moreover, as stated before, the 
convicts (whose number in 1833 was estimated at about 
1,200) and the military and their followers were not 

In 1833 the number of European mercantile houses 
had risen to twenty, consisting of seventeen British, one 
Portuguese, one German, and one American. 

Censuses were again taken in 1 834 and 1 836. Writing 
on the latter census, Newbold states that the Europeans 
and Chinese constituted the wealthier classes. The 
Europeans were for the most part merchants, shop- 
keepers, and agents for the mercantile houses in Europe. 
Most of the artisans, agriculturists, and shop-keepers 
were Chinese. The Malays were chiefly fishermen and 
timber-cutters, and the Bugis almost entirely engaged 
in commerce. The Indians were petty shop-keepers, 
boatmen, servants, etc. He remarks upon the dispro- 
portion between the sexes, and accounts for it by the 
strict prohibition of the emigration of females from 
China, to the fluctuating nature of the population, and 
to the obstacles presented to a permanent settlement by 
the land regulations then in force. With regard to the 




alleged prohibition of the emigration of women from 
China, Mr. J. D. Vaughan states that there was no law 
in China prohibiting the emigration of women, but that 
there was a reluctance on the part of the Chinese to 
quit their native country, and that it was only necessity 
compelled them to do so. 

In the census for 1836 (and probably in the earlier 
censuses, for the divisions in 1829 were Singapore, 
Kampong China, Kampong Glam, country and islands) 
the Settlement was divided into two portions, the town 
and country. The town extended from the Rochore 
River on the east to Mr. Ryan's Hill (now Bukit Pasoh), 
and inland to a line drawn parallel to Mount Sophia. 
Within this area there were 12,748 males and 3,400 
females. By nationalities there were 8,233 Chinese, 
3,617 Malays, and 2,157 Klings, the remainder consisting 
of Bengalis, Bugis and Native Christians. 

The country comprised all the island outside the town, 
and included the neighbouring islands. It was sub- 
divided into two districts, viz. Singapore Town and 
Kampong Glam. The population of Singapore Town 
amounted to only 4,184, consisting of 2,358 Chinese, 
i>7SS Malays, and the remainder mainly Klings and 
Bugis. The district of Kampong Glam, including the 
islands of Pulo Tekong and Pulo Obin, had a popula- 
tion of 9,652. Of these 4,288 were Malays, 3,178 
Chinese, 1,575 Bugis, and the remainder Javanese, 
Balinese, Bengalis, and Klings. 

A striking feature was that not only was the propor- 
tion of females to males greater in the country, but the 
actual number of females was greater in the country. 
It should, however, be pointed out that the Chinese 
females enumerated in this and the earlier censuses 
cannot have been pure Chinese, and must be the Creoles 
or half-breeds referred to by Crawfurd. In 1837 it is 
recorded that no Chinese woman had ever come to 
Singapore from China, and it is said that only two 
Chinese women had ever been in the place, these being 
two small-footed ladies who had some years previously 


been exhibited in England. Even as late as 1876 Mr. 
J. D. Vaughan stated that he knew of no instance of a 
respectable Chinese woman emigrating with her hus- 

At the census of 1840 the population had risen to 
39,681. The total included the floating population, the 
military force of the station, and the Indian convicts. 
It is stated that if these had been excluded, the increase 
over the census of 1836 would have been about 4,000, 
of which fully three-quarters were Chinese. 

The Chinese at this time are said to have been chiefly 
Hokkiens, Khehs, Teo-chius and Cantonese. Between 
1840 and 1850 the immigration of Chinese into Singapore 
was very large. In 1843 the number was 7,000, in 1844, 
1,600, while up to March 1845, 6,833 had arrived of the 
latter, 1,168 by square-rigged vessels and the remainder 
in junks. In 1848 the number arriving in square-rigged 
vessels was 1,330, and in junks was 9,145. The junks 
came down from China towards the close of the north- 
east monsoon, and the greatest number to be seen in 
the harbour was in March and April. 

Writing in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago in 
1848 Mr. Seah Eu Chin estimated the total number 
of Chinese in the Settlement at 40,000. This was appar- 
ently an over-estimate, as the census figures for the 
following year show. These, he considered, consisted 
mainly of Hokkiens, Malacca-born Chinese, Teo-chius, 
Cantonese, Khehs, and Hailams. The greatest number 
of married Chinese were among the Malacca-born, the 
next greatest amongst the Hokkien shop-keepers, and 
the least amongst the Cantonese (he evidently forgot 
the Hailams). He puts the total number of married 
Chinese at 2,000. 

At the census of 1849 the population was 59,043. 
The Settlement was divided into four parts, the town, 
the country, the rivers, and the islands. The population 
of the town was 25,916, the country 22,389, the rivers 
1,929, and the islands 2,657. In addition, the military, 
convicts, and floating population amounted to 6,152. 


This was said to be a very small increase over the 
census of the preceding year (the figures of which I 
have been unable to obtain), and was accounted for 
by the fact that the soil of the island was getting ex- 
hausted, and that plantations were being opened up in 

For the year ending the 30th April 1850 the number 
of immigrants was 10,928, of whom 7,726 arrived in junks 
and 3,202 in square-rigged vessels. 

In 1852-3 the number of Chinese immigrants into 
Singapore was 11,434. Towards the end of 1853 large 
numbers arrived from Amoy. There had been dis- 
turbances in that city, and many of the immigrants had 
taken part in them. As considerable financial assistance 
had been given to the rebels by the Singapore Chinese, 
they brought with them the wives and families of many 
of the most respectable Singapore Chinese merchants. 
Mr. Vaughan, however, who arrived in the Colony in 
1856, states that a Chinese woman was seldom seen out 
of doors at that time, whereas twenty-five years later 
they could be met at every turning, sauntering about 
with their children, or driving in omnibuses and hack- 

The census of 1 860 was taken by the police, and the 
total population amounted to 81,734 persons, of whom 
2,385 were Europeans and Eurasians, 50,043 Chinese, 
15,202 Malays, and 12,973 Indians. From the 1871 
census report it would appear that the figures of this 
census were absolutely unreliable. From 1871 onwards 
the censuses have been taken at regular intervals of 
ten years. 

At the end of this paper I have set out the figures for 
each census of the Settlement so far as I have been able 
to obtain them, and from the last five censuses I have 
added details in respect of the European (and American) 
and Chinese races. An examination of the figures for 
the censuses from 1871 to 191 1 shows a large and steady 
increase in almost all nationalities. 

Amongst the Europeans the increase in the British 


is much larger than in any other nationahty, and though 
the total increase in the others is considerable, the 
individual increases are insignificant. 

The Eurasian community, which is important as being 
indigenous, has more than doubled since 1871. 

The Malay races are well holding their own. The 
Malays of the Peninsula have a natural increase, while 
the Javanese and Boyanese are still increasing by 

In the 191 1 census the Chinese and Indians were 
divided into Straits-born, China or Indian-born, and 
Chinese or Indians born elsewhere. The languages 
spoken were also enumerated, but as a considerable 
number of the Chinese and Indians speak Malay or 
English, the totals of the persons speaking Chinese and 
Indian languages do not at that census tally with the 
totals of Chinese and Indians enumerated. 

Amongst the Chinese the most notable rate of increase 
is in the Straits-born, who since 1881 have risen from 
9,527 to 43,562. The Hokkiens run them very close in 
an increase during the same period from 24,981 to 
90,248. The Cantonese, Teo-chius and Khehs also show 
very large increases, and the Hailams more than main- 
tain their numbers. A remarkable feature is the sudden 
appearance in the 1901 census of 12,888 Hok-chius. 
These dropped to 3,653 in the next census (191 1), and 
their places were partially taken by i ,925 Hing-Hoas and 
3,640 Hok-Chhias. 

The Indian races have increased from 10,754 in 1871 
to 27,770 in 191 1. 

Amongst other nationalities I need only mention the 
Japanese, who from a single individual in 1871 had in- 
creased to 1,409 in 191 1, and whose numbers have with- 
out doubt considerably further increased since. 

The proportion of females to males in the population 
has been very constant throughout the history of the 
Settlement. Omitting the census of 1849 (when the 
proportion was only 20-4 per cent.), the proportion has 
never been below 23-4 per cent. (189 1) nor above 28*9 




per cent. (191 1). It is encouraging that the proportion 
in the last census is the highest recorded, and as in that 
census there were enumerated in the Settlement no less 
than 42,022 females and 38,308 males whose birthplaces 
were in the Colony or Malay Peninsula, it is clear that 
there is now the nucleus of a large settled population. 
Taking the Malays, the Straits-born Chinese, and the 
Eurasians collectively, it is interesting to note that the 
females outnumbered the males in 191 1 by 108*5 to 
100. This is further borne out by the age constitution 
of the population. 

In England and Wales, at the 191 1 census, the pro- 
portion of children under fifteen to the whole population 
was 30-6 per cent. In Singapore at the last five censuses 
the proportion has been : 1871, i8-i per cent. ; 1881, 
16-4 per cent. ; 1891, 14-3 per cent. ; 1901, 17-4 per 
cent.; and 191 1, i8-i percent. It is evident, therefore, 
that though the proportion is still low, there is at least 
a tendency to improvement. 

The population and prosperity of Singapore will 
doubtless be always largely dependent upon outside 
factors. We have seen how a disturbance in Amoy sent 
many settlers here, and it is well known that famines in 
India have a marked effect upon immigration into the 
Colony. The price of tin is immediately reflected in 
the numbers of Chinese immigrants, and the opening 
up of rubber estates is responsible for the large influx 
of Javanese. But the figures of the censuses clearly 
prove that there is a steady increase in the numbers of 
those who look upon this Settlement as their home, and 
it is to this permanent population that the Settlement 
must look in the main for its future prosperity. 




Vaughan's Manners and Customs of the Chinese of the 
Straits Settlements, 1879. 

Newbold's British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca, 

London, 1839. 
Sir F. Swettenham's British Malaya, London, 1907. 
Hikayat Abdullah, Singapore, 1880. (Malay edition.) 
Journal of the Indian Archipelago, Singapore. 
Crawfurd's Embassy to Siam, 1 82 1 . 

Memoir of the Life and Public Services of Sir Thomas 
Stamford Raffles' by his Widow, London, 1835. 

Anecdotal History of Singapore, by C. B. Buckley, 1902. 

T. Braddell's Statistics of the British Possessions in the 
Straits of Malacca, Penang, 1861. 

Cameron's Our Tropical Possessions in Malayan India. 

Census Reports. 








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Arabs . 





















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'Journal of the Indian Archipelago, iv. 10. 

t Braddell's Statistics of the British Possessions in the Straits of Malacca, Penang, 1S61, 


POPULATION— (con<."MM«(i) 









Europeans and Americans. 

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British Military- 







Total Europeans 





















Malay Races. 







Balinese . 


















Boyanese . 




















Javanese . . 







Jawi Pekans 






Malays . . . 




II 471 










Total Malays 







Indian Races. 

Bengalis and other 

Indians not particu- 

larised . 







Burmese . 





















Indian Military . 






Total Indians 





















Annamese . 





















Fiji Islanders 



Japanese . 
















Persians . 























Turks (Asiatic) . 




Convicts . 







Total others . 







Grand Total 







POPULATION— (con«».««<i) 


189 X 








Europeans and Americans. 

Resident . 







Floating . 













British Military 

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Total Europeans 




















Malay Races. 























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Javanese . 







Jawi Pekans 





















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Indian Races. 

Bengalis and other 

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Indian Military . 






Total Indians 















Africans . 







Annamese . 





















Fiji Islanders 





Japanese . 














































Turks (Asiatics) 







Convicts . 







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Jawi Pekans 


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Indian-born Indians 
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Indians bom elsewhere . 










Total Indians . 








Arabs . 


Fiji Islanders 








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Total others 




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♦ Exclusive of Floating Population 





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By A. H. Carlos. 

A hundred years ago there was no Eurasian in Singa- 
pore, nor until Raflfles came any Europeans or Chinese. 
It was the generous policy of the founder of the Settle- 
ment to make it free to all races, and from that freedom of 
residence has sprung the important section of the com- 
munity sometimes called the Domiciled Community 
in India, the Burghers in Ceylon, which has this year 
decided to adopt in Singapore the name of Eurasian for 
the fresh start made in organising and making itself 

Thomasz Farrao, the earliest remembered Eurasian of 
Singapore, was born in Penang, his father coming from 
Bangalore, being a man of means who traded between 
India, Penang, and Burma in copra and rice a hundred 
years ago. In the early part of the nineteenth century he 
settled in Penang, and three children, Thomasz, Anthony, 
and another, were there born to him. Thomasz came 
to Singapore a few years after Raffles had founded the 
Settlement, and he seems to have been one of the first 
men to own land on the island. A daughter-in-law is 
still alive, and several grandchildren. Anthony remained 
in Penang, and traded between that port, Burma, and 
the port which afterwards became Port Weld. 

Among the older names well known in Singapore, that 
of Leicester stands out in relief. Edward Barnaby 
Leicester was transferred from Bencoolen to Singapore 
in 1827. He was the son of Robert Leicester, who went 
out as a writer to India in the Company's service in the 
middle of the eighteenth century. A brother, John 
Leicester, also came to the Straits, but of his descendants 
only one is remembered. He was chief clerk in the 
Police Courts, and the compiler of the Straits Law 
Reports published in 1877. But the family had soon 
settled down to that honest, steady, and responsible 


work in the Colony which is so characteristic of the good 
Eurasian famihes. The 1847 Directory has the name 
of six : Edward and John, clerks, Imports and Exports 
Office ; Edward R., clerk in the Accountant's Office ; 
James, in Boustead,Schwabe and Co.; and William, whose 
occupation is not given. Edward Barnaby's descendants 
have spread throughout the Colony, and played an import- 
ant part in its work and development. Three of the sons, 
William Edward Barnaby Leicester, John Barnaby 
Leicester, and Henry Barnaby Leicester (the last-named 
by a second marriage), have done earnest and conscien- 
tious work for the Government. The youngest, Henry 
Barnaby Leicester, is still alive, having been in the service 
of the Tanjong Pagar Co. since January 1882, passing 
into the Harbour Board, where he is still employed. 
Thus we have still living the son of a man who served 
under Sir Stamford Raffles. The child of his elder 
brother, William Andrew Benjamin Leicester, took up 
the Medical Service, and his two sons are in the service 
of the Colony. William M. Leicester, a son of John, 
adopted the same profession, and went to Edinburgh, 
where he graduated M.B., CM. 

Before the original unveiling of the statue of Sir 
Stamford Raffles in 1887, enquiry was made in the 
Straits Times if there were any whose fathers had been 
connected with the Bencoolen service under the illus- 
trious founder of the Colony, and three were named : 
Francis Nicholson, of Syme and Co., President of the 
Singapore Recreation Club ; Jonathan Edward Hogan, 
Chief District Surveyor, Singapore ; and James Henry 
Leicester. A fourth not mentioned by the newspaper 
was Henry Barnaby Leicester, a contributor to this 
History, who has been mentioned above. 

Francis Nicholson, referred to above, was the son of 
George Nicholson, clerk to Captain William Scott, 
Harbour-master at Bencoolen, afterwards in charge of 
the Marine Department in Singapore. 

The doyen of the Eurasian Community of Singapore 
at the present day is George Samuel Reutens, in his 


eightieth year. He was born at Penang, the son of 
PhilUp Reutens and Clara Painter, the daughter of the 
famous rounder-up of pirates a hundred years ago, 
But Painter's real name was Pinto, which he changed 
when entering the East India Company's Service on 
his arrival from Lisbon. Phillip Reutens of Penang had 
a healthy family, twenty children by his second wife, and 
one of his sons, Patrick Allan, was for thirty years Secretary 
to the Straits Steamship Co., Ltd. He was a first-class 
chess-player, as so many Eurasians have been, to mention 
only Paul Mclntyre, L. M. Cordeiro, T. R. Miles, and 
G. S. Reutens. 

Mr. G. S. Reutens was educated in Penang, joining 
John Company in 1856. The year afterwards he was 
transferred to the Marine Department in Singapore, and 
retired in 1 902 . He has had thirteen children ; one of his 
daughters married Captain Carruthers. He has some 
interesting details to give of his grandfather's career. 
Captain Painter was commander of a British schooner 
carrying twenty-four guns. After his first raid on the 
pirates he brought a number of them into Penang, and 
was instructed to carry them under hatches to Calcutta 
to be tried. The Grand Jury there did not return a true 
bill, and the pirates were sent back to Penang, and there- 
upon instructions were given to him not to bring any 
more pirates into port. It is related how well he carried 
out this instruction, and the Straits of Malacca were 
made comparatively safe. 

Hogan is another Penang name. John Hogan was 
sent to Bencoolen by the East India Company over a 
hundred years ago. After the transfer of Bencoolen he 
went over to Penang, and became Collector of Land 
Revenue. His son, Jonathan Edward, was for many 
years in the Survey Department of Singapore, and his 
grandsons, Henry Clarence Hogan and Edward Hogan, 
are well known in Singapore. H. C. Hogan was educated 
at the Raffles Institution, and went to work with J. M. 
Cazalas, one of the first engineers and mechanics here. 
Later he married a Miss Cazalas, and managed the busi- 


such as Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, his 
substantive appointment then being Chief Clerk of the 
PoHce Court. After his retirement he became convey- 
ancing clerk to Mr. Farrer Baynes, that brilliant though 
erratic lawyer. He was instrumental in founding the 
St. Anthony's Boys' School, and later St. Anne's School. 
Two of his sons followed the medical profession, and a 
daughter married Nelson Leicester, a descendant of 

The name of Yzelman goes back to Jacob Yzelman, 
who left Leyden for the East about 1 799, and settled in 
Rhio, where his children were born. For a time he was 
teacher in Malacca, and the Baumgarten and Westerhout 
families were among his pupils. He came to Singapore 
in 1 847, and his sons, Herman Gregory and Ernest Jacob, 
followed the teaching profession, Ernest being one of 
the first masters at the Raffles Institution. A younger 
brother, B. A. Yzelman, was appointed Head-master of 
the Kampong Glam Malay School in 1876. 

The Angus family is an old one in Singapore, and none 
more respected. Gilbert Angus and his brother William 
came over from Bencoolen about seventy-five years ago. 
Gilbert was a partner in Whampoa and Co., and after- 
wards in business on his own account. His son Gilbert 
was a well-known trusty skipper sailing out of Singapore. 
The sons of William turned rather to mechanics, and have 
made their mark as engineers. 

So the tale could be told of Fernandez the taxidermist ; 
of the Batemans, who half a century ago were land 
agents ; the Deskers, one of the first butchers ; the 
Clarkes, whose livery stable was started over forty-five 
years ago ; the Cashins, at one time of the Opium Farm ; 
the Cordeiros ; the Corneliuses, showing how great has 
been the influence in the development of the Colony of 
the Eurasian families. 

We conclude with one who has attained distinction in 
Government Service, Mr. J. N. van der Beek. His 
ancestor was a Dutch settler in Malacca, and his father 
was Francis Charles van der Beek, who was born in 


Malacca in 1831, and there married Adrianna Grosse. 
Mr. J. N. van der Beek was born in Malacca in 1855, 
and was educated at the Raffles School under Mr. Bagley, 
joining the Government Service in 1871. He was Clerk 
at Government House under nine Governors, commencing 
with Sir Harry Ord and ending with Sir John Anderson. 
In 1903 he received the I.S.O. for long and faithful service. 
The record of the Eurasian Community is less easy 
to follow than that of some other sections of the com- 
munity, but enough has been written to show that in 
the history of the hundred years they have played 
their part faithfully and well in commerce, the law, the 
medical service, the Government Service, and as inde- 
pendent tradesmen and merchants. 

Queen's and King's Scholars 
The Queen's Scholarships were founded by Sir Cecil 
C. Smith, then Governor of the Straits Settlements, 
in 1885. What was initiated by him was, during the 
regime of a later Governor, Sir John Anderson, reversed 
in 1909. Into the reason for the reversal of policy we 
need not enter ; much has been said for both sides. The 
impression, rightly or wrongly, in the minds of the domi- 
ciled community is that the reversal may be attributed 
to a possible fear that the aspirations of the sons of the 
soil were likely to create a situation such as exists in 
India and other progressive countries, where the per- 
manent population is demanding a large share in the 
administration of the country of their birth through their 
educated members. 

Two scholarships were given every year from 1886 
to 1905, then from 1906 to 1909 only one. For some 
years the scholarships meant £180 a year ; this sum was 
later increased to ;£200, and finally to £250 per annum. 
It will be seen from the subjoined that the Eurasian was 
in the running nearly every year. 

Winners, C. S. Angus and James Aitken. The former 
qualified in London as a civil engineer, and returned to 


Kuala Lumpur and joined the F.M.S. service. Both 
were from the Raffles Institution, Singapore. James 
Aitken is a well-known lawyer in Singapore. 

P. V. S. Locke received his early training at the 
Penang Free School, and won a scholarship from the 
Raffles Institution. He graduated M.B., Ch.B., at 
Edinburgh, and returned to Penang, where he built up a 
large practice. 

Dunstan A. Aeria, like his predecessor, studied first 
at the Northern Settlement, and finished at the Raffles 
Institution. He passed in civil engineering in London. 
After doing good business at Kuala Lumpur, he has 
settled in Singapore, and is engaged on construction 
work at Johore. 

H. A. Scott was a Raffles scholar. He passed in 
London as civil engineer, and on his return to Singapore 
joined the Municipality as Building Inspector. He was 
the son of Thomas Scott, who owned a restaurant in 
North Bridge Road some sixty years ago, and married 
a daughter of Francis James Clarke. He died some 
years ago. 

H. O. Robinson and F. O. DeSouza. The former, who 
was from the Raffles Institution, passed as civil engineer 
in London, and on his return joined the F.M.S. Service. 
The latter was the first pupil from the St. Joseph's 
Institution, Singapore, to win the scholarship. He 
proceeded to Edinburgh, where he graduated M.B., 
CM. On his return he started on his own account, 
and is a general practitioner with a large practice. He 
married Beatrice, eldest daughter of the late Anthony 
Mclntyre, who was for many years a book-keeper at 
Boustead and Co, 


A. H. Keun passed out from the Raffles Institution, 
and graduated M.B., CM., at Edinburgh. He joined 
the Government Service on his return, and resigned while 
he held the appointment of Colonial Surgeon, Malacca. 
He is the son of the late A. H. Keun, who was an active 
member of the Community over half a century ago. 

H. C. Keun, brother of A. H. Keun, was also from the 
Raffles Institution. After graduating M.B., Ch.B., at 
Edinburgh, he practised at Wolverhampton, where he 
died in 1903. 

H. A. D. Moore studied first at the Raffles Institution, 
but won the scholarship from the Anglo-Chinese School. 
He graduated M.B., Ch.B., at Edinburgh, and remained 
in England. 

J. C. J. da Silva was first at St. Xavier's School, 
Penang, and later at the Raffles Institution. He was 
enrolled at Guy's Hospital, London. During his first 
two years he displayed great promise, and attracted the 
special attention of his teachers. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, he was not as careful with his limited allowance of 
£200 per annum as with his work, with the result that 
for the next two years he was always in pecuniary 
difficulties. He could not afford to meet his fees, so 
that at the termination of his four-year scholarship he 
found himself hopelessly stranded in London. After 
hacking at journalism for a few years, he returned to 
Penang, and was for many years Sub-Editor of the Straits 
Echo. He died in 191 8, at the early age of 41. 

R. E. Smith was from the St. Xavier's School, Penang. 
He took up medicine in London, but returned to the 


Straits without completing his course. He is a B.A. 
of Emanuel College, Cambridge. On his return he 
joined the Educational Department of this Colony, and 
was for some years on the staff of the Raffles Institution. 
He is at present Head-master of the King Edward 
School, Ipoh. 


William Samuel Leicester passed out from the Raffles 
Institution. He is a B.A. of Cambridge and M.R.C.S. 
and L.R.C.P. of London. On his return he joined the 
Medical Department of this Colony, and is now the 
Medical Officer, Pahang. He is the son of the late 
Andrew Barnaby Leicester, who served the same 
Medical Department for twenty-five years, and grandson 
of William Samuel and great-grandson of Edward 
Barnaby, who came to the Straits a century ago. 

R. H. McCleland is L.C.E. of DubUn. He is from the 
Penang Free School. He passed in engineering at 
Trinity College, Dublin. He is at present in the Civil 
Service of this Colony. 


W. J. C. LeCain was from the Raffles Institution. He 
passed as Civil Engineer in London. He is a B.Sc. 
(London), A.M.I.C.E., A.K.C. England. He returned to 
Singapore in 1909, and is a partner in the firm of Seah 
and LeCain, of Raffles Chambers. Of mathematicians 
he is one of three of whom the Community may well be 
proud . 


Noel L. Clarke won the scholarship from the Raffles 
Institution. He proceeded to Cambridge, and graduated 
B.A., B.S. A telegram from Singapore announcing the 
serious illness of his mother made him leave the Univer- 
sity, but before he could proceed south he received the 
message of his mother's death. He remained in London, 


and completed the M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. course, taking 
the L.S.A. degree at the same time. He returned to 
Singapore in 1909, and in a short time worked up a very- 
large practice. At the present day he is one of the 
leading medical men in the city. His love of sport is 
well known. He is a good left-hand bowler, and has 
played in many important local cricket matches. In 
the Community he is recognised as one of the prominent 


The order of the scholarships was E. R. Carlos, F. R. 
Martens, and R. L. Eber, all of whom were from the St. 
Joseph's Institution. Martens, who is not a British 
subject, was debarred. It is known that his average in 
higher mathematics has never been beaten, he having 
secured 99^ per cent. 

Ernest Richard Carlos was the youngest son of Albert 
Benjamin Carlos and Rose Isabella (Brisson), who came 
to Singapore from Madras in 1880. He studied at 
Edinburgh, and in the short space of five and a half years 
graduated M.A., B.Sc, M.B., Ch.B. Besides his studies, 
he took a keen interest in the literary activities of the 
students. In his last year he was elected a member of the 
Committee of Management of the Edinburgh Uni- 
versity Union, it being the first time in the history of the 
University that an Easterner held such an office. He 
returned to the Straits in 191 1, and for a short period 
was with Dr. Noel L. Clarke. His health, however, had 
begun to give way directly after he left college, and to 
recoup he gave up private practice and made some 
voyages as a ship's surgeon. He died in 191 5. 

Rene Lionel Eber, eldest son of Frederick William 
Eber of the Government Service, went to Cambridge, 
where he graduated B.A. He is a barrister, now in the 
firm of Braddell Brothers, and is well known in musical 
circles. He is the grandson of Alberto Eber, who in 
1850 was in the firm of Jose Almeida and Sons, after 
whom Eber Road is named. 



J. R. Aeria won the scholarship from St. Xavier's 
School, Penang. He proceeded to Edinburgh, and 
graduated M.B., Ch.B. He is now Medical Officer at 
Muar. His cousin, W. A. Aeria, was for many years in 
the Medical Department of this Colony. 


C. H. da Silva, a St. Joseph's boy, was barely sixteen 
when he won the scholarship. He proceeded to Cam- 
bridge, and after a brilliant career, graduated B.A., 
LL.B. He was too young to qualify as a barrister, and 
had to wait in London a year before he could pass out. 
He returned to Singapore, and joined Battenberg and 
Chopard. After the death of Mr. Chopard this firm has 
been known as Battenberg and Silva. It will be remem- 
bered that da Silva was Counsel for the defence in the 
trial of the 5th Light Infantry mutineers. 


Stephen de Souza won the scholarship from the 
St. Joseph's Institution, Singapore. He proceeded to 
London to take up engineering. At the outbreak of 
war he joined up, and was given a commission. He 
has elected to remain in the Army. 


George Russell won the scholarship from the Raffles 
Institution and proceeded to England, where he also 
took up engineering. At the outbreak of war he joined 
up, and was sent to Mesopotamia with the British Forces. 


There are evidences of the early intercourse between 
China and the Islands of the Archipelago to be found in 
the discovery of coins dug up in Singapore in 1827 from 
the ruins of the ancient Malay settlement (Crawfurd), 
in the presence of porcelain of a former age found in 


Borneo and Java, and in the literary records of China 
itself. The latter attribute the first intercourse to 
A.D.421. After a long interval, it was resumed in 
A.D. 964, the date of the earliest coins used, the only 
coined money of the Archipelago before the advent of 
Europeans. Albuquerque, when he took Malacca, 
found Chinese junks lying in the roads. Dr. Dennys 
thinks there is not much evidence of their settling as 
early as that, for Barros, in enumerating the different 
nations who had settled in Malacca, makes no mention 
of the Chinese. In view of the distant period at which 
intercourse took place, it is extremely likely that the 
Chinese had settled in Malaya, and this is confirmed by 
the Chinese traveller Sam-po-kung, who says that the 
Chinese of Malacca had formed a continuous settlement 
for six centuries. 

To deal fully with such a long period of connection 
would need more space than is available in this book, 
and only a sketch of the Chinese in Singapore can be 
given, to compile which Mr. Song Ong Slang's MSS. 
of a separate and important work on the Chinese of 
Singapore has been placed at the disposal of the writer. 

Newbold says that when the British flag was hoisted 
on the plain, there were 1 50 fishermen and pirates living 
in a few miserable huts, and about thirty of these were 
Chinese. Neither Raffles nor Abdullah Munshi mentions 
Chinese settlers at the founding of the Settlement, but 
as Raffles, early in June 18 19, gives instructions for 
the separation of the kampongs, and states that four 
months after establishment the population had received 
an accession of more than 5,000, principally Chinese, it 
is quite plain that the Chinese population was even then 
of considerable importance. A little more than a year 
from the foundation, Raffles said that there was a popula- 
tion of ten or twelve thousand, principally Chinese again. 
Although this estimate was a sanguine one, there is no 
doubt that from the earliest days of the Settlement the 
Chinese bulked largely among its inhabitants, and early 
took up a high position among its merchants and crafts- 


men. In 1 822 Raffles had occasion to divide the Chinese 
into classes, and to establish a Chinese kampong. 

One of the earliest settlers was Seah Eu Chin, who 
came from Swatow in 1823. He was a young man of 
learning, his father being Secretary to the Yamen of a 
Sub-Prefecture. Seven years later, when he was twenty- 
five, he was established in Kling Street in a considerable 
business as commission agent, supplying the junks 
trading from Singapore to various ports. He was the 
first to start gambier-planting, having tried many other 
cultivations first. In 1840 he became a member of the 
Singapore Chamber of Commerce, and in 1850 he headed 
the deputation of the Chinese to Lord Dalhousie. He 
lived till 1883, and saw his sons become very influential 
men in the town, among them Mr. Seah Liang Seah. 

This is quoted as a typical instance of the founding of 
influential and wealthy Chinese families in the Straits. 

By 1850 the Chinese had reached over fifty thousand 
out of 80,000, by 1 881 they numbered 86,766 out of 
139,208, and in 191 1 there were 219,577 Chinese out of a 
total of 303,321. Consideration of these figures will 
show how impossible it is, even if the material were 
readily available, to treat of the Chinese Community of 
Singapore adequately in a book of this description. 
Some of the leading men are referred to in various 
articles. Their careers as individuals are full of interest, 
and have not failed to attract the attention of previous 
writers on Singapore, residents and casual visitors. 
The Chinese Community of late years has greatly 
progressed in organisation. With long centuries of 
organised life behind it, this is not to be wondered at, 
and it would take a very big volume to tell of all their 
numerous activities in the mart, in friendly and charit- 
able societies, in works of private charity, individual and 
collective, the liberal support they have always given 
to education, works of public utility and ornament, and 
the splendid foundation they form for the business 
prosperity of Singapore. 




By Walter Makepeace. 

The history of Singapore as a fortified place does not 
reveal any creditable or consistent policy. Raffles, in his 
Memorandum of 6th February 1819, bases his recom- 
mendations on the advice of Captain Ross, supplemented 
by his own personal inspection. On the hill overlooking 
the Settlement he gave authority for constructing a 
small fort or a commodious block-house, capable of 
mounting eight- or ten-pounders, with a magazine of 
brick or stone, and a barracks for thirty European 
artillery and temporary accommodation for the rest 
of the garrison in case of emergency ; on the coast 
one or two strong batteries for the protection of the 
shipping ; at Sandy Point a redoubt, and further east 
a strong battery. " These defences, with a Martello 
tower [these were mostly erected on the English coast 
at the end of the eighteenth century as a defence 
against a French invasion] on Deep Water Point . . . will 
in my judgment render the Settlement capable of main- 
taining a good defence." He recommended confining the 
cost of these to the lowest possible limit, and appointed 
Lieutenant Ralfe, of the Bengal Artillery, to be the 
Assistant Engineer to Colonel Farquhar, at a salary of 
$200 Spanish per month. He made arrangements for 
naval support, and directed a general account, with 
particulars of every disbursement under Military Estab- 
lishment, and a quarterly return of the expenditure and 
remains of military stores. 



Colonel Farquhar had to take up the first gun with 
Malacca men, no Singapore man daring to ascend Bukit 
Larangan (now Fort Canning). The real Fort Canning 
was not constructed till 1859. The height of the hill, as 
determined by Mr. J. T. Thomson, is given as 156 feet. 
The construction of the fort made necessary the removal 
of Raffles 's House, the old Government House described 
in Begbie's book (1833), the centre part being the original 
house, and tradition is that it was here that Lord Elgin 
walked up and down all night long when he reached 
the momentous decision to divert the troops intended 
for China to Calcutta to aid in the suppression of the 
Indian Mutiny (Buckley, pp. 652, 653). The fortifi- 
cations were completed in 1861, and the European 
artillery, hitherto stationed on Pearl's Hill, overlooking 
what is now People's Park, were handed over to the 

At the transfer Fort Palmer had seven 68-pr. guns, 
eight " 8-inch shell guns " (mortars), and two 13-inch 
mortars, two of which later were placed in front of the 
Memorial Hall, with a few 13-pr. carronades. 

Fort Palmer was then a small earthwork overlooking 
the eastern entrance to Keppel Harbour, and had five 
56-pr. guns. In the early 'Nineties this fort was made, 
for that time, a formidable defence, with four lo-inch 
breech-loaders, which now lie on the ground laid bare 
by the cutting down of the hill to get soil for the Teluk 
Ayer second reclamation. These guns were the first 
fired by electricity in Singapore, under Colonel Burton 
Brown. A number of officials and civilians were asked 
to the first practice, the target being a barrel with a red 
flag, floating away at sea. A lucky shot early in the day 
sank the barrel, upon which the Colonel remarked that 
the practice was over, implying that too great skill had 
spoiled the show. This was believed by a few people 
who knew nothing about artillery practice in those days 
at 8,000 yards. When Fort Palmer was finally disman- 
tled the guns were tumbled down the hill. An Indian 
contractor bought one for a ridiculously small sum, $40, 


we think, one of the conditions being that he had to take 
it away under forfeit of $200. He spent weeks trying 
to handle the unwieldy mass, and finally cried off. Any- 
body who wants an imposing pair of gate posts could 
have the guns now as a gift. A similar experience was 
that of Robert Allan, of Riley Hargreaves, who bought 
two of the old 7-inch muzzle-loaders. Splendid metal 
they are, and Robert broke some dozens of drills 
and used many pounds of dynamite in trying to break 
them up. He also gave it up as a bad job, and used 
the guns, so it was said, as the foundation for a punching 
machine. There are several of these old guns waiting 
for someone to take them away, little hurt by their long 
exposure to the weather, but where they are they will 
remain till the lallang grows over them, and some future 
cultivator strikes his " changkol " upon them with much 

Fort Fullerton was built by a civilian from Madras, 
who was sent here as Governor in 1825, and who made 
himself conspicuous by his general wrongheadedness. 
When he arrived. Government House was a bungalow 
in front of the Court House, and all the residents " lived 
on the other side of the river." The demolition was 
begun in 1865, as it was thought that the battery would 
draw the fire of an enemy " upon the most richly 
stored warehouse in the place," and ended in June 1873, 
at the time of a rumour that Sir Andrew Clarke was to 
fortify Singapore at a cost of ;^20o,ooo or £300,000, 
" which would be met by flat mutiny." The complete 
demohtion was not over till 1890, when the first Volun- 
teer Drill Hall was built by Major McCallum, and a gun 
emplacement for a 7-inch muzzle-loader constructed for 
S.V.A. drill purposes. This finally disappeared when 
the Reclamation from Johnston's Pier to the mouth of 
the river was made. In the reconstruction of 1 854, super- 
vised by Captain Collyer, R.E., who had convicts placed 
at his disposal, the original battery was enlarged to thrice 
its former size, and armed with 56- and 68-pounders. It 
extended from the river to Johnston's Pier, with a house 


for the officers in the centre, barracks for the soldiers 
alongside the road, and fine trees planted. The estimated 
cost of these works was $840,000. 

Fort Faber had two emplacements just above the 
Istana Lama, half-way up the hill, to command the Selat, 
Sinki, and the western half of the harbour. Their 
emplacements still exist, as do the granite sets laid 
down on the top of Mount Faber for two mortars. 

The money spent on the fortification has amounted to 
so great a sum that no wonder (1867) " the military 
expenditure was regarded by the mercantile community 
as very unsatisfactory, and it swallowed up in 1863 
nearly one-half of the revenue." The petition of the 
inhabitants in 1 860 or thereabouts said : 

" From the extensive fortifications . . . which have 
of late years been constructed in Singapore, as well as 
from large and costly barrack accommodation which has 
been provided for European troops, it would appear to 
have been the intention of the Government of India to 
convert Singapore into an important military station, 
these works obviously contemplating the maintenance 
of a force far beyond all local requirements in its amount 
and character." 

The petition went on to favour a local corps, and to 
deprecate the further employment of a contingent from 
the Madras Presidency, sickness being so generally 
prevalent that " a few weeks after their arrival . . . 
frequently reduced the regiments to mere skeletons." 
The local force to be recruited on the spot, to combine 
Eurasians, Malays, Bugis, Javanese, with a small 
European force to support them, would be found sufficient 
for all local exigencies. 

For Singapore a force of 400 privates and the necessary 
officers was estimated to cost £15,000 per annum. 

Two small swift steamers, similar to Her Majesty's 
despatch-boats, and of very light draught of water, to act 
against the pirates, partly under the Governor's orders 
and partly manned by natives, were recommended for 


the protection of trade and the suppression of piracy, 
more especially Chinese piracy, " which has increased of 
late years to a great extent." The Hooghly was old, 
very slow, and ineffective. The Mohr and Tonze were 
ordered for the Straits, but Admiral Hope, of the China 
Station, could not spare them, as he wanted them for an 
expedition up the Yangtse. The advantages of Singapore 
as a naval depot were pointed out, " within easy reach 
of supplies of teak timber from Siam and Java, as well 
as our own territory of Mulmein." 

After the Transfer the fate of the Singapore defences 
was keenly discussed. In April of 1 872 the 80th Regiment 
arrived, " still wearing the Scotch cap and heavy red 
tunic " while on duty here. The garrison was then 
1,024 men, and cost £62,713, of which the Colony paid 
£52,000. It was borne in upon the public mind that 
the Colony was ' ' defenceless, ' ' and £ 1 8 ,000 were proposed 
to be spent on armament, including rifled guns, electric 
torpedoes, batteries, including the mortars for Mount 
Faber (which were never placed there), all on the main- 
land. Six years later an exhaustive paper on the pro- 
posals was laid before the Legislative Council. 

Lieutenant Henry E. McCallum began his Colonial 
career as Private Secretary to Sir William Jervois in 
1875. The Governor recognised that he had a brilliant 
young officer, and called upon him for assistance in 
preparing a plan for the fortification and defence of the 
place. In 1878 Captain McCallum was brought back 
from Hongkong, where he had gone on military duty, 
and given sole charge of the designing and construction 
of fortifications for the station, and from that year date 
the present defences of Singapore, which in the nature 
of things are now almost obsolete. 

The main idea seems to have been to transfer the 
forts to the islands to the south of New Harbour, thus 
denying access to an enemy to the docks, stores of coal, 
and works. With this object the forts were constructed 
at the east and west entrances to the harbour, and looking 
southward, on Blakan Mati and Pulo Brani, a sub- 


sidiary fort being at Pasir Panjang, on the north shore of 
the New Harbour. Pasir Panjang was subsequently 
removed from the scheme of defence. There was also 
a fort at Tanjong Katong, armed with two 8-inch 
Armstrong guns, come by through the accident of their 
passing through Singapore at the time of the Franco- 
Chinese War. Tradition has it that the origin of Fort 
Tanjong Katong lay in the fears of the merchants of 
the place, who asked, " What is to prevent a man-of-war 
coming in from the east and shelling the town ? " On 
which the military authorities, with great guile, mur- 
mured, " We never thought of that," and built Tanjong 
Katong on the sea-shore — most substantially, with the 
Colony's money — placed the two guns, which were no 
earthly use elsewhere, in position, and gave orders that 
on the outbreak of war the fort was to be abandoned ! 
It was an early example of military camouflage. The 
guns being on the sea level, a high tower was built for 
range-finding instruments, but on the sands it shook so 
much that the delicate operation of determining the range 
was impossible ; besides, the range of the guns was use- 
less ; there was no adequate supply of ammunition for 
this gun, which is of a calibre outside the British Artillery 
scheme ; and a landing party could have taken the fort 
without much effort and without serious losses. When, 
therefore, during practice the R.G.A. blew the chase off 
one of the guns, declared (and denied, but the tampion 
was never found) to be due to failure to remove the 
muzzle tampion, the fort became, as it was always 
intended to be, a real " wash-out." 

The construction of the new forts on the islands was 
proceeded with vigorously. In 1887 all the rights on 
Blakan Mati were acquired, and the following year 
Button Island was taken over. 

The Commissariat and Ordnance Department was 
removed to Pulo Brani, and it was then discovered 
that the part of the island leased to the Straits Trading 
Company ought to have been at the disposal of the 
military. Before long the major portion of the fortifi- 


I. 382] 


cation was completed, and then arose the trouble of the 
armament, which the home people failed to supply. To 
call the attention of the British public an advertisement 
was placed (at Mr. W. G. St. Clair's expense, we beUeve) 
in the Daily News every week, " When is Singapore to 
have its guns? " In March 1889 six Hotchkiss guns 
arrived for the protection of the mines defending New 
Harbour. Some were placed in subterranean casemates 
near Lot's Wife, the narrow western entrance. In April 
of that year the Straits commenced as an independent 
military command under Sir Charles Warren, a regular 
Tartar, but who succeeded in making Singapore the 
fortress it is. In August 1 889 the first of the heavy guns 
was shipped. An announcement was made in February 
1890 that " the two I o-inch guns yet remaining . . . are 
now completed by the makers." The makers seem to 
have been the chief people to benefit by them, as they 
were the Fort Palmer guns. In November 1890 the 
9*2 guns were tested, and in the next year the S.V.A. 
Maxim guns (cahbre 450), subscribed for by the pubUc, 
were received. 

Nothing need be said of the present position or arma- 
ment of the defences of Singapore, but the preceding 
facts must be understood in order that the attitude of 
the public on the Military Contribution may be appre- 

The G.O.C.'s that have held the substantive command 
in the Straits are : 

1883 (Hongkong). Major-General J. N. Sargent, C.B. 

1887 (Hongkong). Major-General Cameron, C.B. 

1889 (Straits). Major-General Sir Charles Warren, 
G.C.M.G., K.C.B. 

1894. Major-General H. T. Jones Vaughan, C.B. 

1899. Major-General J. B. B. Dickson, C.B. 

1905. Major-General Sir A. R. F. Dorward, K.C.B. , 
D.S.O., R.E. 

1906. Major-General R. Inigo Jones, C.V.O.,.C.B. 

1907. Major-General T. Perrott, C.B. 
1910. Major-General T. E. Stephenson, C.B. 


1914. Major-General R. N. R. Reade, C.B. 

1915. Major-General Sir D. H. Ridout, K.B.E., C.B., 


By Lieutenant-Colonel G. A. Derrick, C.B.E., V.D., 

Commandant S.V.C. 

It is an interesting historical feature that the institu- 
tion of a volunteer force in Singapore took place 
several years before the great volunteer movement in the 
United Kingdom, which took its rise in 1859. 

The raising of a Volunteer Corps for Singapore was 
first mooted in 1 846, after the Settlement had been dis- 
turbed by an alarming series of Chinese riots. In 1854, 
as the result of the recurrence of Chinese riots and the 
outbreak of the Crimean War, a public meeting was 
held on the 8th July of that year, with the concurrence 
and support of the then Governor, Major-General W. J. 
Butterworth, C.B., at which it was decided to form a 
Volunteer Corps, under the name of the Singapore 
Volunteer Rifle Corps. 

The total membership of the Corps when raised was 
sixty-one. The Governor became its first Colonel, and 
Captain R. Macpherson, Madras Artillery, its first 

At the first review of the Corps, held on the 8th March 
1855, the Governor read a despatch from the Supreme 
Government of India, noting, in terms of approbation, 
the promptitude with which the Singapore Volunteers 
had come forward with the offer of their services, and 
expressing the hope that their example might be followed 
in other parts of India. At a later review, held on the 
26th November i860. Colonel Orfeur Cavenagh, the then 
Governor, in an address, alluded to the formation of the 
Corps which had the honour to be the first enrolled in 
India, and was therefore entitled to bear on its colours 
the motto Primus in Indis. 


This continued to be the Corps motto until the separa- 
tion of the Straits Settlements from the jurisdiction of 
the Indian Government in 1867, when it was changed to 
In Oriente Primus, which motto the Singapore Volunteer 
Corps still bears. 

In the early part of 1 868 the Corps was augmented by 
the formation of a half-battery of Field Artillery. The 
officers and N.C.O's had to provide themselves with 
horses, and the members to find a pair of ponies for each 
gun and ammunition wagon. 

There were many vicissitudes in volunteering in Singa- 
pore in the years following, the Corps at times dwindling 
to a mere remnant, then again showing something of its 
old activity. In the year of the Jubilee of the reign 
of Her Majesty Queen Victoria (1887) it had once more 
shrunk to a small half-company, the late Major Grey, 
.Superintendent of the Gaol, being the Commandant 

Noting the altogether inadequate constitution of the 
Corps, which then contained not more than half-a-dozen 
Europeans, Mr. W. G. St. Clair, Editor of the Singapore 
Free Press and an old Burma Volunteer, urged, in an 
article in that journal, the value of a Volunteer Artillery 
Corps as a local reserve to the Royal Artillery in garrison, 
and he got together some friends, who had all served as 
Volunteers before coming to Singapore, to form a 
Provisional Committee for the purpose of taking the 
necessary steps to place the matter before Govern- 
ment ; and on the ist December 1887 a Sub-Committee 
of that body, consisting of Messrs. W. G. St. Clair, G. 
Bruce Webster, and M. Bean, was granted an interview 
by the Governor, Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, G.C.M.G., 
there being also present at the interview, Major-General 
Sir W. G. Cameron, the General Officer Commanding 
the Troops, who was here on inspection. Major Davies, 
Military Secretary, and Lieutenant-Colonel Cardew, 
2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment. The result 
of the interview was entirely satisfactory, the Governor 
accepting with pleasure the services of a roll of Volunteers 
I — 26 


submitted, and asking the Provisional Committee to 
proceed with the work of organisation. 

The Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps was disbanded by- 
proclamation on the 1 6th December 1 887, and the Singa- 
pore Volunteer Artillery embodied by proclamation on 
the 22nd February 1888, the hst of enrolled members at 
the date of embodiment being ninety-six ; of these, fifty 
per cent, have since passed over to the great majority, 
seven only now remain in Singapore, of whom only one, 
the present Commandant, has remained on the active 
str-ength of the Corps since its formation . The Governor, 
Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, G.C.M.G., became the Honorary 
Colonel of the Singapore Volunteer Artillery on the loth 
February 1890, and remained so until his death on the 
7th February 191 6. 

Mr. W. G. St. Clair, who may justly be termed the 
" Father of the Corps," joined the S.V.A. on its formation, 
as a Sergeant, and remained an active member until the 
Sth February 1903, at the time of his retirement being, 
as Senior Major, the Second-in-Command, and having on 
more than one occasion acted as Commandant, during 
the absences on leave of the substantive holders of the 

At the outset the S.V.A. was detailed for work on 
the 7-inch R.M.L. and 8-inch R.B.L. coast defence 
guns and so continued until towards the end of 1896, 
when the unit took charge of the mobile armament, 
consisting of a battery of 7-pr. M.L. mountain guns, 
these being in 1903 exchanged for lo-pr. B.L. mountain 
guns ; when, however, in 1906 the latter were withdrawn 
from the command, the S.V.A. reverted to its original 
role of garrison artillery, and has ever since remained 

In the year 1889 four Maxim guns were subscribed 
for, to be presented to the S.V.A., one by H.H. the late 
Sultan of Johore, one by the late Mr. Cheang Hong Lim, 
and the remaining two by the Chinese, Arab, Malay, and 
Chetty Communities. 

The guns arrived in Singapore on the 4th April 1891, 


and were formally presented at the Queen's Birthday- 
Parade, held on the Esplanade on the 28th May 1891. 
This acquisition made the Singapore Volunteer Artillery 
the first Maxim-Gun Company in the British forces, 
regular or auxiliary. Since 1902 the Maxim-Gun Com- 
pany has been worked as a separate unit. 

In the year 1891 the present Drill Hall (the head- 
quarters of the Corps) was built to the design of Major 
(afterwards Sir) H. E. McCallum, G.C.M.G., the first Com- 
mandant of the reconstituted Corps. It is an excellent 
example of a really useful building for Volunteer 
purposes, being lofty and airy, and having a floor-space 
in the main hall of 100 feet by 55 feet. It is constructed 
of wood, with a corrugated iron roof, and was originally 
erected on the site of the present Master Attendant's 
office, where it stood for sixteen years, when it was 
taken down, removed, and re-erected on its present site, 
so that it has already withstood the ravages of climate 
and white ants for over twenty-seven years, and will still 
be good, with ordinary care, for many years, a fine 
testimony of the excellence of design, material, and 

The S.V. A, continued to be the sole Volunteer unit until 
after the outbreak of the South African War in 1 899, 
when the British battalion of the regular garrison of the 
Settlement, having been withdrawn and substituted by 
a native battalion of the Indian Army, the British 
community in 1900 formed a Volunteer Rifle Corps, which 
at first consisted of 100 members, but soon increased to 
nearly double that number. These Rifles, raised during 
a national crisis, were discontinued in 1904, when the 
regular garrison was again brought up to its normal 

In 1 90 1 a further considerable increase took place in 
the Volunteers, which now became known as the Singa- 
pore Volunteer Corps. 

An engineer unit of Europeans was raised, which still 
forms an important unit of the Corps. Originally 
known as the Singapore Volunteer Engineers, it was later 


on permitted to assume the title of Singapore Royal 
Engineers (Volunteer). 

The Singapore Volunteer Infantry was also raised, 
No. I Company being formed of Eurasians, No. 2 
Company of Chinese. 

Each company had separate headquarters, No. i 
Company in Bras Basah Road, and No. 2 Company in 
Beach Road, adjoining the S.V.C. headquarters, where 
later the Chinese Volunteer Club was built by pubHc 
subscription amongst the Chinese Community, the build- 
ing being opened by His Excellency the Governor on 
the 4th May 1907. 

A Cadet Company was also formed from a nucleus of boys 
who had been given elementary drill at Raffles School ; 
their number was added to in 1906 by the inclusion of 
companies from St. Joseph's Institution and the Anglo- 
Chinese School. As the boys were mostly Eurasian 
and Chinese, it was hoped the Cadets would act as a 
feeder to the infantry. This, however, failed to be the 
case, and in the early part of 191 8 the Cadets were with- 
drawn from the S.V.C, and school cadet companies 
unconnected with the Corps were formed in substitution. 

In February 1909 the Eurasian Company of the S.V.I, 
was disbanded, the present Malay Company of Infantry 
being formed to take its place. The Eurasian Com- 
munity, after the outbreak of war, however, more 
than once petitioned Government to be allowed 
again to take a place in the Volunteer Corps. The 
Government acceded to their petition, so that a new 
Eurasian Company of Infantry has now been enrolled. 
The members of the Company have been carefully 
selected, and good results are expected from it. 

In 1914 the Medical Company, S.V.C, a development 
of a Bearer Section forming part of the S.V.A., was 
reconstructed, reorganised, and formed into the Singa- 
pore Field Ambulance Company, a very useful and 
important unit of the Corps. 

So the Corps continued in varying degrees of activity 
and popularity until the outbreak of the Great War on 


the 4th August 1 914, which naturally gave a great 
impetus to volunteering. 

Immediately following the declaration of war, the 
Corps was by proclamation embodied for active service, 
and detachments of the S.V.A. and S.R.E. (V.) at once 
proceeded to take up mobilised duty in the forts, duties 
which were carried on throughout the War practic- 
ally without a break. 

As was the case at the outbreak of the South African 
War, the reduction of the regular garrison at once brought 
about the re-formation, from the British Community, of 
the Singapore Volunteer Rifles, closely followed by the 
formation of the Veterans' Company of that unit, these 
two companies now forming the strongest British 
section of the Corps. 

The Rifles, very soon after their formation, together 
with the Maxim Company, took up certain mobilised 
duties in connection with local defence ; the two Infantry 
Companies were almost continuously engaged from the 
commencement of war on mobilised guard duties ; the 
Field Ambulance Company's officers replaced the 
R.A.M.C. officers of the garrison, and the men were 
occasionally mobilised for hospital duty. 

As one of the results of the War, on the 1 5 th February 
1915 there occurred the mutiny of the battalion of 
Indian Infantry garrisoned here. Of this mutiny much 
has been written and said ; suffice it to state here that 
the Singapore Volunteer Corps on that memorable 
occasion thoroughly proved its value as a most impor- 
tant factor in the suppression of the mutiny and in local 

The Corps then received its " baptism of fire," and, 
as is recorded on a bronze mural memorial tablet erected 
in St. Andrew's Cathedral, lost two officers and nine 
N.C.O.'s and men during the outbreak and the operations 
connected therewith. Weeks of strenuous work were 
carried out by all units in the operations which resulted 
in the defeat and rounding up of the mutineers. 

One of the lessons learnt by the mutiny was the neces- 


sity for all European residents being trained in the use of 
arms, and in order to ensure that all British residents 
here should be trained for local defence, the Reserve 
Force and Civil Guard Ordinance was passed, and 
became law on the 1 6th August 1915. 

Under its provisions all male British subjects between 
the ages of eighteen and fifty-five who are not members 
of His Majesty's Army or Navy or of the Volunteer or 
Police Forces of the Colony are compelled to undergo 
military training, those between the ages of eighteen 
and forty being at any time liable by proclamation to 
be transferred into the Singapore Volunteer Corps, those 
above forty being enrolled as a Civil Guard. On the 
26th April 1 916, by proclamation, all Reservists between 
the ages of eighteen and forty were transferred to the 
Singapore Volunteer Corps, whose ranks were thereby 
very much augmented. It may now be said that all 
able-bodied British subjects in the Colony, as well as a 
large number of non-European British subjects, are 
trained men. After the entry of the United States into 
the War, the American subjects resident here, at their 
own request, were attached to the S.V.C. for military 

In passing it is worthy of note that the local Reserve 
Force and Civil Guard Ordinance was the first enact- 
ment passed in any British colony imposing compulsory 
local military service. • 

In 1919, another unit, viz. the Electric Light 
Section, S.V.C, was added to the Corps. It is com- 
posed of Malays, is enrolled for continuous mobilised 
duty, and lives in barracks. 

Other units of the Corps are the Band, the Scouts, 
and attached to the Rifles are Motor Cyclist, Scouts, 
and Signalling Sections. 

Incommonwithother ColonialVolunteers,the members 
of the Singapore Volunteer Corps have not failed to rally 
tq the Mother Country's call for help in the Great War. 

Over one hundred officers and men enrolled themselves 
in the Imperial Armies, the bulk of them receiving 



commissions, and every month thereafter men continued 
to join up. 

Some have made the " supreme sacrifice," while 
promotions and distinctions have been won by others ; 
but all have proved themselves loyal, worthy, and hon- 
oured sons of the Empire. 

The altered conditions under which a large number 
of the members of the Corps have been enrolled, and the 
nature of the duties now being carried out, differ so 
materially from those of the original " Volunteer " 
enrolments and duties that the term " Volunteer " is 
no longer considered applicable to the Corps' designation, 
and Government has already decided to designate the 
combined Volunteers throughout the Settlements " The 
Straits Settlements Defence Force," the Singapore 
Volunteer Corps becoming the " Singapore Defence 

Legislation is already in hand defining the obligations 
of the members ; but although there is this change of 
name, the old patriotic spirit which animated the Singa- 
pore Volunteer Corps in the past will doubtless remain 
unabated in the Singapore Defence Corps, and the 
Corps will continue to live up to its proud motto : 


As the Singapore " Volunteer " Corps may now be 
said to exist no longer, it will perhaps be of interest to 
record the names and terms of office of the various 
Commandants of the Corps : — 

Sir H. E. McCallum, G.C.M.G., 2nd March 1888 — 
8th March 1897. 

Major R. Dunman, 8th March 1897 — loth March 

Colonel A. Murray, V.D., i8th April 1899— ist March 

Lt.-Col. E. G. Broadrick, ist March 1905 — 31st Decem- 
ber 1910. 

Lt.-Col. G. A. Derrick, V.D., nth March 191 1 ; still 
holds the appointment. 


By A. H. Carlos. 

In the first Volunteer Corps which was formed in 1854 
there were, considering the strength of that Corps, a 
large number of Eurasians. Many of the names of these 
men have, however, passed out of history ; George 
Samuel Reutens, who was a member in 1870, is perhaps 
the only survivor of his Company. His brother Patrick 
Allan Reutens, Patrick Isaiah Woodford, Leicester, 
William Clarke, P. J. Seth, Jambu, Angus and Edwin 
Tessensohn, are names remembered of the Corps which 
was in existence in the late 'Seventies. The men in those 
days were drilled at the Police Bharu, then the head- 
quarters of the European Police Force, next to the 
present Sailors' Home. Target practice took place at 
the Racecourse, and many a prize fell to the doyen of 
the Community, George Samuel Reutens. When in 
season snipe abounded round and about the Race- 
course, and the practice of rifle-shooting was profitably 
intermixed with pleasure. 

Through indifferent recruiting and the scant recog- 
nition of imperial needs the Eurasian began gradually to 
disappear from the ranks of the Volunteers, and in the 
latter part of the 'Eighties there remained hardly one 
member of the Community in the Corps. The continued 
influx of Europeans began to make itself felt in Singapore 
about that time, and the separation into social planes in 
the island made itself evident. The Eurasian is by 
temperament retiring and by training unable to make 
himself heard, and this tended for many years to keep 
him from participating in the defence of the Colony. 

Individual members of the Community were, however, 
alive to the possibilities of having exclusive Eurasian 
Companies, and when G. W. P. Guest and Daniel C. 
Perreau moved in the matter, the S.V.I, was formed 
somewhere in the year 1894, and the best-remembered 
names of its members are N. B. Westerhout, J. B. 
Westerhout, A. Westerhout, Edgar Galistan, R. D. de 


Silva, A. Long, H. S. Finck, and a few others. However, 
this Company was disbanded in the first decade of the 
present century. Why and how this happened need not 
be gone into, although, in passing, it may be remarked 
that the Corps was not wholly to blame. The want of 
esprit de corps, the absence of sympathy between officers 
and men, the absence of continuity and regularly trained 
officers, and a feeling of injustice (right or wrong) that 
the authorities did not appreciate their services were 
no doubt contributing causes. 

When the Great War began, on the 3rd August 1914 
Daniel C. Perreau wrote to the Colonial Secretary placing 
the services of the Eurasians at the disposal of the 
Government for local defence. Four days later Mr. 
M. S. H. McArthur wrote on behalf of the Government 
thanking the Community, the last sentence of this letter 
reading : 

" It is not, however, possible at present to say whether 
any fresh steps will have to be taken for local defence." 

On the 8th August Mr. Galistan addressed a similar appeal 
to Lieutenant-Colonel Derrick, with a similar result. On 
the 1 8th February 191 5,when the mutiny wasin full swing 
in the town, Mr. Perreau again approached the Govern- 
ment, and received a reply notingthe contentsof this letter 
and promising due consideration. Later on, in May 
1915, Edwin Tessensohn also suggested to the Govern- 
ment the formation of a Eurasian Company of Volun- 
teers. The result of this appeal was the same as the 
others. In June 191 5, while the " Reserve Force and 
Civil Guard Bill " was under consideration, the Singapore 
Free Press strongly advocated the policy of allowing the 
domiciled community to participate in the defence of 
the country. Various letters appeared in the Press 
about this time on the subject, and it was in the latter 
part of June 191 5 that Mr. Tessensohn received a letter 
from Lieutenant-Colonel Owen, making an appointment 
to discuss the question of utilising the services of Eura- 
sians, These gentlemen met, and certain proposals from 


the General Officer Commanding were conveyed to Mr. 
Tessensohn. At a meeting held on the 4th July 191 5, 
the seventy Eurasians that had met learnt that the 
Government asked them to serve as clerks, store-keepers, 
telephonists, signallers, engineers, etc. It is hardly 
surprising to learn that these proposals were rejected. 
When it is realised that for six to eight hours every day 
Eurasians do the self-same work for their living, there 
is little wonder that they refused to do similar work after 
office hours. There were among the Community some 
enthusiastic and earnest workers, and these, after due 
deliberation, and inspired by the fact that the man- 
power question was becoming acute, convened a meet- 
ing of the leading members of the Community and 
thrashed out the matter. The result was a mass meeting 
at St. Andrew's School Hall on the 7th March 1918, 
• when the following resolution, proposed by Dr. Noel L. 
Clarke and seconded by H. R. S. Zehnder, was carried 
by an overwhelming majority : " That the Government 
(or H.E. the Governor) be again asked to consider the 
question of forming a Volunteer Corps of Eurasians." 

The meeting marked a day unique in the history of 
the Eurasians of Singapore. Never before had the 
Community banded itself together for the cause of 
raising its status. There were over two hundred present, 
and the different classes, which had for nearly half a 
century kept each other at arm's length, dropped all the 
differences which had tended to keep them divided. 

On the 9th April 19 18 the Community was given what 
it had been asking for for over three and a half years ; 
one hundred men were enrolled, and on the 4th July 1 9 1 8 
the men were inspected by General Ridout and sworn in. 


By Walter Makepeace. 

The soldier's first thought is of his weapon ; angry 
adjutants and sergeant-majors often suggest that it is 
the volunteer's last thought. Let this first sentence 


disprove the soldier-man's " grouse." That master of all 
trades, W. H. Read, the first everything in Singapore, 
penned a note in 1857 that the Singapore Volunteers 
found their weapons heavy, " being more accustomed to 
handle the pen than the sword." It was the Enfield — 
Brown Bess. The Snider rifle was served out to the 
Volunteers in 1 869, and the writer carried out his first 
class-firing with this delicate weapon in 1878, so he can 
claim to some knowledge of the varieties of " the Volun- 
teer's first care." The Martini-Henry was the king of 
rifles till the 'Nineties, when the Lee-Metfordcamein, and 
in its various marks still neatly pierces the canvas target. 
By the way, Charles Fittock, who was an enthusiast 
when the iron target was used, patented one with a 
detached centre, so that every bull rang down the range 
to the limits of the 600 yards firing point. A few 
Sniders were turned out, with their big curved bayonets, 
to delight the special constables during the mutiny of 
191 5, when the size and weight of the cartridge led to a 
discussion as to whether the objective of the " specials " 
was not the Elephant ! 

It was proposed to establish a mihtia in 1872, as 
the reorganised police force was not considered strong 
enough, to be armed with the Snider rifle ; but this 
was objected to "on the ground of Prussianism." 
That was the ostensible reason. While the Infantry 
have been seldom called upon to change their guns, 
but only their fire discipline and tactics (which have 
been described as different every week, and always 
a month behind the W.O. changes), the Singapore 
Volunteer Artillery has always been turned on to some- 
thing new — old rather, since they got the weapons 
discarded by the Regulars. The first gun was the 
7-inch muzzle-loader, with a swinging derrick that had 
to be dodged if one wanted to escape a broken head, and 
a jointed rammer that insisted on catching the trigger- 
finger. The old soda-water gun went off right enough 
when the lanyard was pulled, and the different operations 
of depressing, sponging (not forgetting to serve the vent), 


putting in first cartridge, then shot, then wedge-wads, 
elevate and run up could be carried out by a good squad 
in two minutes for a round. Next, after a spell at the 
8-inch Armstrong breech-loader, we were turned on to a 
field-gun, the nine-pounder, which, when fired from the 
sands at Tanjong Katong, turned completely over some- 
times, and when limbered up to a narrower-tracked 
ammunition wagon, invariably did so on the slopes of 
Mount Faber, where field drills were carried out. The 
" team " consisted of two Deli-gharry ponies, real kickers 
and squealers, that didn't mind somersaulting. The 
best gun-team had two of the Darkes in it, because the 
ponies responded cheerfully to their language, and at a 
pinch either Fred or Billy could pick up the frightened 
beast and put it on its legs again. 

The fort artillery work was often the 8-inch Armstrong, 
of which there were two at Tanjong Katong, the "wash- 
out " fort. One incident comes back to mind. There was 
a big teak semaphore in front of the battery, and on one 
rare occasion of practice, the target being a drifting barrel 
with a red flag in it. No. i gun followed the target till 
Sergeant St. Clair yelled out " Target obscured." Sir 
Charles Warren, the G.O.C., looked over the sights and 
agreed. Sir Charles Mitchell, the Governor, looked over 
thesightsand disagreed. The twoCharleses putten dollars 
on their opinions, and the word was given " Fire No. i ." 
A prodigious splash out to sea on the right, and a semi- 
lunar gap in the stout teak post settled the question. 
Who paid for the post and the shot is not recorded. 
History passes a friendly hand over the mistakes of the 
militarily high in rank. Now, a couple of years after- 
wards, the R.G.A. were out at practice with those guns 
(and the S.V.A. have always congratulated themselves 
on being absent), and the chase of one was unaccount- 
ably blown off. They never found the muzzle tampion 
of the damaged gun, and quite a fuss was made of the 

Just before the 8-inch gun was used (1891) the Corps 
had been presented with four Maxim guns subscribed 


for by the community. They have been in the Corps 
ever since, although converted from 450 to 303, and 
otherwise modified as to carriage. The Corps then had 
a spell at the 2*5 screw gun, then greatly in vogue as an 
immense advantage in mountain campaigning. Major 
McCallum (either for this or the 9-pr.) had a land range 
made at Bukit Panjang, on the Bukit Timah Road, and 
regular practice was carried out. Unfortunately the 
target was on such swampy ground that the shell would 
never burst on impact. Opportunity was taken to test 
the small arms men at one or two practices, and whitened 
chatties were put up on posts at unknown distances. 
Four hundred rounds from the best range marksmen 
resulted in two broken chatties, whereat the attendant 
tambies murmured Hikmat (magic), which set us wonder- 
ing whether the native is so void of a sense of humour 
as generally suspected. After a spell at the old 9*2, the 
S.V.A. were eventually turned on to the 6-inch Q. F. guns, 
the most gentlemanly of the whole crowd, and, incident- 
ally, the heaviest man-handled gun, which is perhaps why 
the Volunteers have it allotted to them. The new 
9'2 guns were later tackled, at the same time as the 

The camps have always been a feature of the S.V.C., 
cosy and soldier-like in language in the old days, when 
there were only gunners, strenuous and more soldier-like 
in language when all the units were in camp together. 
What used to be Boustead's rattan godown at Tanjong 
Katong, now next to the Swimming Club, was the usual 
site ; but many cheery camps have been held under the 
coconut trees near the Grove, some very wet (as to 
weather) at Keppel Harbour, and others in recent years 
in the forts, where the gunners and engineers had a chance 
to work together with guns and searchlights — all very 
good times. 

In 1895 there was a regular Camp Gazette, and copies 
which survive show that slang and humour are not the 
products of the present generation alone. The jokes 
recall many memories to those who heard them, and 


know the writers. Nobody was above criticism. James 
Graham wrote quite decent poetry, and extemporised 
on known songs, which Major McCallum sang at the 
Smokers in the evening : 

Beyond the new Fish Market, underneath Fort Palmer's frown. 

Lies a piece of reclamation which is slowly settling down ; 

Where the stones are sharp as bayonets and the smells are sweet 

as hay. 
And no one ever goes there but the gallant S.V.A. 

Down in Teluk Ayer Bay, 

Where they drills the S.V.A. , 
Can't you hear the bullets pinging as the Maxims blaze away 

Down in Teluk Ayer Bay, 

Where the smells is new-mown 'ay. 
And the sergeants swear most 'orrid on the firing practice lay. 

For those who can never remember the words, and only 
a few tunes, an S.V.A. chorus was devised — when none 
other is known — a version of the Old Hundredth. It 
was a tradition that the Sergeant-Major should always 
sing a song, hke the little Major (C. J. Davies), whether 
he could or not, and few who heard it will forget Sergeant- 
Major Grimmer's " When shall I send you the cradle ? " 

Ever proud of the place of the artillery in the British 
Army, the gunners put on side, and treat with contumely 
the other branches of the Corps. And really, when the 
first Rifles unit was formed, while the Boer War was on, it 
was ridiculous to see a few elderly gentlemen standing 
on one leg, or marching round the Post Office to the 
" left, right " of the Drill Sergeant. Those who cheer- 
fully dismounted the gun and limber, flung the fragments 
over a five-foot barricade of Sandy Morrison's soda- 
water cases, over themselves, and snapped the fragments 
together and opened fire, saw no outlet for their energy 
in ceremonial parades. When by chance these veterans 
meet, years afterwards, recall the happy young days and 
mourn that " volunteering is not what it was," they 
might remember what Willie Reid, of the Hongkong 
Bank, said : " Man, but you're forgettin' your chum 
Anno Domini." 

Here is a camp song (1894) that in some way antici- 
pates by twenty-one years what afterwards took place : 


A Fragment 
Oh ! when the row shall start in Singapore, 
You will wish you 'was a member of the Corps, 

And could go and have your fun. 

Round a comfortable gun, 
Instead of marching till your feet get sore, 

" Rahnd the Town," 

Up and down. 
Keeping civil order for the Crown, 
While those they don't require 
Can come and jadi tukang ayer. 
And bring us ayer batu 

From the Town. 


By Walter Makepeace. 

Undoubtedly the greatest effort made by the Colony in 
its history was that resulting from the increased military 
contribution demanded by the Imperial Government. 
From the creation of the Colony it had been self-support- 
ing as to its civil establishment, and in addition had 
paid £59,300 for the years 1868 to 1871, £si)595 iri 
1872-3, and £50,845 from 1874 to 1889. Early in 1890 
the Secretary of State demanded, in addition to sums 
for barracks and military works, a contribution of 
£100,000 per annum. The grounds for the increase 
were : (i) that it was one of the terms of the constitution 
of the Colony that the Home Government should not 
be called upon to defray any part of the civil or military 
government of the new Colony, and (2) that the revenues 
of the Colony were in such a flourishing condition that 
they could bear without inconvenience the increased 
amount. In obedience to instructions. Sir Frederick Dick- 
son moved in the Legislative Council that the revenue 
for 1890 be charged with the sum of £100,000. No 
official said a word in favour of the vote, except that it 
was done in pursuance of the Secretary of State's des- 
patch. The motion was carried by the seven official 
votes to six, tradition having it that one official member 
registered his vote " under compulsion, aye." 


Mr. Adamson and Mr. Shelford then moved a resolution 
protesting against the doubled demand, and declaring 
that in no case should the Colony be called upon to pay- 
more than half the cost of the garrison. This resolution 
was accepted unanimously, the Governor holding that 
its acceptance did not invalidate the vote given by him- 
self and his official colleagues, by direction of the 
Secretary of State. The Straits Settlements Association 
in Singapore and in London held meetings of protest. 
The Official Members of Council, with two exceptions, 
addressed minutes pointing out the injustice of the 
increased demands. In 1891, the Imperial Government 
having refused to diminish their demands, two similar 
votes were carried by the official majority. Mr. Thomas 
Scott, on behalf of the Straits Settlements Association, 
sent in a powerful memorandum. In June 1891 Mr. 
de Lisle moved the House of Commons in committee to 
reduce the vote of the Colonial Office by £300, and called 
attention to the grievances of the Colony ; but the motion 
was lost, though Mr. Goschen said, in order to meet the 
view of Sir Thomas Sutherland, that if the revenues of 
the Colony should decrease, the Government would feel 
inclined to review the situation. In 1892 the condition 
of the Colony seemed to warrant, an application on this 
ground, but the original home demand was insisted on. 
The following year a memorandum was drawn up by 
Mr. Walter Napier, expounding the whole matter on 
behalf of the Straits Settlements Association, it being 
claimed (i) that the contribution exacted was of 
excessive amount and obtained in a mode opposed to 
the principles which should regulate the relations 
between the Mother Country and one of her Colonies, and 
(2) that the present financial state of the Colony was 
such that the payment would not be continued without 
grave consequences to its future prosperity. 1 894 saw 
the final crisis of the protracted dispute. In London 
and Singapore the agitation continued. A question 
was asked in the House and evaded by Mr. Buxton. 
On the 26th July a deputation waited on Sir Charles 


Mitchell and put the whole case before him, asking him 
to telegraph home. In August questions were again 
asked in the House of Commons, and at the end of five 
years the contribution was reduced to £80,000 for 1894, 
£90,000 for 1895 ; for the next three years £100,000- 
£120,000 with a reiterated claim that it was the duty of 
the Colony to bear the whole cost of the garrison, hinting 
that in 1899 it might have to be £144,000 or £153,000 
according to two different estimates. 

Public opinion at the end of the year was turning in 
favour of the resignation of the Unofficial Members of 
the Legislative Council, and of all who held honorary 
civil office under Government or on Government nomi- 
nation, as a protest. This was actually carried out 
next year, and a large public meeting in the Town 
Hall unanimously supported and approved of these 
resignations of the Unofficial Members of the Council 
(not all the Penang members), the whole of the Jus- 
tices of the Peace, and the members of the Chinese 
Advisory Board. Offers to other members of the public 
of appointment to replace those resigned were refused, 
by Mr. Bogaardt among others. Under protest, the 
enhanced payment was made till 1895. ^^ February of 
that year, Mr. William Adamson, on behalf of the Colony, 
wrote a memorandum in which he quotes Mr. Shelford : 
" All we ask for is simple justice. We are quite willing 
to pay for the cost of our own trade ; we are willing, in 
conjunction with other Colonies, to pay a just apportion- 
ment of our Imperial obligations ; but we protest as a 
gross injustice against being called upon to pay for the 
protection of what is practically wholly and entirely the 
British commerce and trade which passes through these 
waters to other parts " ; and he pointed out that the 
Straits paid £100,000 for a garrison of 1,558 ; Hongkong 
£40,000 for 2,966 ; Ceylon £81,750 for 1,659 ; Mauritius 
£18,750 for 875 ; South Africa and Natal £4,000 for 
3>33i ; West Africa nil for 1,163 ; Jamaica and the West 
Indies nil for 4,288 men. 

The matter was subsequently settled on a basis of 



percentage of revenue, Lord Ripon accepting the Colony's 
terms, viz. 17^ per cent. The Defence Contribution 
Bill was read on the 7th May 1896. The question 
subsequently was raised as to the cost of barracks, etc., 
and the method of computing the assessable revenue, 
and finally 20 per cent, was adopted. 


By Walter Makepeace 

The invaluable Buckley gives the following account 
of the start of volunteering in Singapore, and the date 
justifies the old motto Primus in Indis. He writes : 

" On the evening of Saturday, 14th February 1857, 
the Singapore Rifle Volunteer Corps was presented with 
a set of colours, which had been prepared for it by Mrs. 
Butterworth, the widow of the late Governor, under 
whom the Corps was embodied, and who continued its 
Colonel up to his death. Governor Blundell presented 
the colours to Mr.W. H. Read, the Senior Lieutenant, and 
addressed the Corps. Mr. Read replied, and the following 
is the final passage of his reported speech : ' We seek 
not the glory of the battlefield, nor to embroider the 
names of victories on these colours. Ours are less 
martial, more peaceful aims. Our object is to assist in 
protecting the lives and property of the public, and to 
show the evil-disposed how readily Europeans will 
come forward in the maintenance of order and tranquil- 
hty. Should we ever be called upon to act, we shall be 
found prepared to do our duty, contented with the 
approbation of the Government and the applause of our 
fellow-citizens.' " 

The story is carried on by an article in the Straits 
Chinese Magazine by Mr. Charles Phillips, who had been 
asked by Mr. Song Ong Siang to write a short account 
of the early days, and it was found after Mr. Phillips's 
death among his papers. His connection with the Volun- 
teers began in April 1 866, the Corps consisting, at the May 
birthday parade, of Captain Commandant H. E. Wilsone 
(Hamilton, Gray and Co.) ; Lieutenant von der Heyde (a 


partner of Behn, Meyer and Co.) ; Ensign R. Duff 
(William Macdonald and Co.) ; Hon. Surgeon Dr. 
Little, and forty-seven N.C.O.'s and men. They did 
well at drill this year, and were complimented by Major- 
General Sir Orfeur Cavenagh. In 1868 a drum-and- 
fife band, under the Drum-Major of the Madras Native 
Infantry, encouraged the men, but when the regiment 
left Singapore the band failed for want of an instructor. 
This year also a half-battery of artillery was added to 
the Corps, and carried on for some years, but for want of 
interest created by firing practice it gradually declined, 
and the guns and horse equipment were handed over to 
the Perak Government. Field exercises with hired 
ponies, and more often, when the ponies were not avail- 
able, man-draught by the gunners, may have been too 
strenuous. " Europeans were few in those days, and 
there was absolutely nothing to encourage them in 
volunteering but hard work." When the Duke of 
Edinburgh visited Singapore (1869), the Corps provided 
a mounted escort and a guard of honour of sixty-two 
men. The mounted escort was much admired and 
praised, and the members of it were : Messrs. R. Dunman, 
McPherson, J. C. Ker, R. W. Maxwell, G. A. Maclaverty, 
Bligh, Rae, C. E. Velge, O'Laughlin, and C. Phillips — 
most of whose names occur elsewhere in this history. 

This year saw the change from the old smooth-bore 
to the short Snider carbine, chosen by Colonel McPherson, 
and it proved a fairly good weapon from 100 to 300 yards. 
The stimulus to rifle-shooting created a new interest, and 
raised the strength of the Corps to over one hundred men ; 
but as the Racecourse range was only 400 yards long, it 
was later abandoned (in 1878), and the old artillery 
range at Balestier taken over. The start of rifle-shooting 
dates from the Snider, and competitive shooting began 
in earnest, prizes for shooting being given by Mr. W. H. 
Read (who was the first Volunteer enrolled), then Captain 
Commandant, Lieutenant Duff, Sergeant (R.) Dunman, 
and Sergeant Buckley. The last-named held his com- 
mission till 1878, when he retired to allow Major Grey 


to reform the Corps, which by this time had fallen off 
sadly in numbers. The Rifle Association was formed in 
1873 ; but in the two previous years matches had been 
fired against the Gordon Highlanders and the 80th 
(Staffordshire Volunteers), but the short Snider was too 
great a handicap against the military long weapon. 
Few civilians joined, as they were not able to get rifles 
useful for competition; but the disadvantage notwith- 
standing. Colonel Cardew complimented them in 1887, 
remarking on the value of good shooting. Through the 
'Seventies there were many skilled shots, R. Dunman and 
Charles Phillips (though with characteristic modesty he 
himself does not mention it) being among the best. The 
opening of a military range at Tanglin took away a great 
element of interest in the Association, which nevertheless 
recovered in the late 'Eighties, when the Martini-Henry 
came in, and from 1887 W. G. St. Clair played a large part 
in the encouragement of this sport, so essential to soldiers 
and volunteers. 

The first challenge for a shooting match outside the 
Colony was sent to Shanghai in January 1872, and 
" considering the prevalent weather of Singapore the 
risk (on the date fixed) is rather one-sided." The 
matches were established on a regular basis in 1889, 
though there was no match in 1890, and Penang came 
into the triangle of Shanghai, Hongkong, and Singapore 
on five occasions ; but the Northern Settlement was lowest 
of all, except on one occasion, as might have been 
expected, considering the small choice compared with 
the larger Settlements. Up to 191 3 Hongkong had 
won 10, Singapore 9, and Shanghai 5 ; the 1904 win for 
Singapore was made in a tie of 919 with Hongkong by 
scoring highest at the longest range. 

There have also been odd matches, Singapore Volun- 
teers against Ceylon and Rangoon. The annual meetings 
of the Rifle Association have for many years been a great 
source of encouragement to shooting, and the keen 
competition has brought to the front many excellent 
shots, such as C. M. Phillips (son of Charles Phillips), 


R. W. Chater, and M. K. Watt, who have been tempted 
to try their luck and skill at Bisley, against the represen- 
tatives of continents and gold medallists, under different 
climatic conditions to those under which they usually 

In individual efforts, F. M. Elliot gained tenth place 
in the King's Hundred in 1905, and Chater thirty-fourth 
in 1908, while Phillips won the City of London Cup in 
1 9 1 o. In 1 9 1 o the local Volunteer Corps very sportingly 
sent a team of eight men (not its best, but only such as 
were able to get leave) to compete for the Empire Shield 
and the Kolapore Cup. The totals in the former were : 
Great Britain, 2,177; Canada, 2,105; Australia, 2,045; 
India, i ,973 ; Singapore, i ,972. " The Orientals failed at 
the longest range." Individual scores for Singapore 
were : Major Elliot, 259; Sergeant Galistan, 257; Lieu- 
tenant Cuthbert, 256; Captain Phillips, 253 ; Sergeant Tan 
Cheow Kim, 248 ; Sergeant Long, 239 ; Sergeant Walker, 
232; Lieutenant Kemp, 228. In the Kolapore Cup the 
figures were : Great Britain, 798 ; Canada, 796 ; Australia, 
7T] ; Guernsey, 770 ; Malay States Guides, 763 ; South 
Africa, 756 ; India, 745 ; Singapore, 742. For Singapore 
Tan Cheow Kim, the first Chinaman to shoot at Bisley, 
headed the list with an excellent 99. 


By W. Bartley, of the Straits Settlements Civil Service 

The war history of Singapore has been singularly un- 
eventful. With the exception of the mutiny of the 
5th Light Infantry, which will be dealt with later, there 
have been no spectacular occurrences ; but in spite of this 
lack of the picturesque there has been much of interest. 
The position of Singapore as a distributing and collecting 
station for the Netherlands East Indies, Siam, the Philip- 
pines, and to a certain extent for the Treaty Ports of 
China, in all of which there were at one time large enemy 
interests, gave full scope for testing the efficacy of the 
Trading with the Enemy Regulations, while her total 


dependence on sea-borne trade and supplies, not merely 
for her prosperity, but for the very means of existence, 
rendered her peculiarly liable to all the effects which 
arose from the shortage of shipping. The restrictions 
on export, which became so general that all countries 
suffered from them, bore at first with peculiar hardship 
on Singapore, owing to the fact that the main exports 
were of great military value, and were controlled from the 
very outbreak of hostilities, though the hardship of this 
was in the later stages perhaps more than counter- 
balanced by the fact that they were of such value that 
shipping had to be provided to deal with them. 

The war history of Singapore is, in fact, not the history 
of a place, but the history of a system of legislation 
restricting commerce, and its interest lies in the imme- 
diate effects of this action and the lessons which can be 
deduced from them with regard to trade and possible 
trade restrictions after the War. 

Before dealing with this, however, it is desirable to 
give a short sketch of the actual history of Singapore, 
which, like all other parts of the Empire, was completely 
surprised by the outbreak of war. Even on the 3rd 
August, after news of the declaration of war on Russia 
arrived, it was confidently believed that the British 
Empire would not be involved. On the 4th August, 
however, with the news of the invasion of Belgium, it was 
realised that the worst was to be feared. The German 
subjects of military age left for, examination 
of ships in the harbour commenced, and there was a 
frantic rush for supplies of rice and milk. Fortunately 
the supplies of rice were ample to stand any strain, and 
the milk difficulty was efficiently met by a scheme of 
retail distribution inaugurated by the Nestle and 
Anglo-Swiss Milk Co. in conjunction with Govern- 
ment, which at once broke the famine prices to which 
milk had been rushed by an unreasoning panic. 

Formal notice of the declaration of war between Great 
Britain and Germany quickly followed, the local forces 
were placed under the Army Act and mobilised, the 


German ships in harbour seized, and the imports and 
exports of rice, dried fish, and flour strictly regulated 
to ensure food supplies. All export business stopped, 
and for the first (but not the last) time in the history 
of Singapore the tin market was suspended, while all 
credit ceased. On the loth August all the German 
inhabitants signed internment papers, and the crews of 
the German ships Chowtai, Ranee, and Quarta were put 
on shore, while all immigration of Chinese and Indian 
labourers was prohibited. 

The same day saw a beginning of a return to the normal 
as local shipping restarted running. The stoppage of 
the tin market threatened to have a very serious effect ; 
but this was met by a Government undertaking to buy 
all tin at a fixed price, and this, together with immediate 
action for the repatriation of surplus labour, calmed the 
situation. Overseas shipping restarted, and although 
British ships were advised to avoid the trade routes, 
conditions became almost normal, except that the 
Chinese merchants for a time acted under the belief 
that a moratorium was established. 

On the 2ist September, however, the German cruiser 
Emden appeared in the Bay of Bengal, and started her 
career in local history by the capture of the Indus, Lovat, 
Killin, Diplomat, and Trabboch, and all trade routes from 
Singapore westward were closed. 

On the 26th September came the news of the shelling 
of Madras, while on the ist October arrived the second 
list of the Emden' s victims, the Tymertc, King Lud, 
Ribera, Foyle, Buresk, and Gryfervale. Her ground of 
action was, however, now fairly defined, and on the i sth 
October the British cruiser Yarmouth sank the Marko- 
mania, one of her tenders, and recaptured the Greek 
collier Pontoporos with a prize crew on board, and brought 
her to Singapore. Hopes of the Emden's capture were 
rife, when on the 23rd October came her third and 
last list of mercantile victims, the Chilkana, Troilus, 
Benmohr, Clan Grant, Benzevell, Exfort, and Egbert, oif 
the Minicoys. On the 28th October came the daring 


raid on Penang, which resulted in the sinking of the 
Russian cruiser Zemchug and the French torpedo-boat 
Mousquet. This was the last exploit of the Emden, for 
on the 9th November, while raiding the Cable Station 
on the Cocos Islands, she was intercepted by H .M. Austra- 
lian ship Sydney, and after a running fight went on shore 
in flames. 

During her time of activity, however, it became evident 
that the local Volunteer Forces were not sufficient for the 
work of manning the forts and miscellaneous garrison 
duty, and a movement was set on foot which culminated 
in a meeting on the 23rd October, at which the forma- 
tion of the Singapore Volunteer Rifles was decided 
upon. On the 28th October voluntary enlistment for 
Kitchener's Armies started locally ; on the ist November 
it was decided to form a Veterans' Company of the Singa- 
pore Volunteer Corps, and enrolment commenced on the 
24th November. The first Malayan contingent for the 
New Armies sailed on the iith November, and on the 
23rd November the granting of commissions locally for 
the Home Armies was announced. With the destruction 
of the German Fleet under Admiral von Spee at the 
Falklands on the 9th December, the last possible menace 
to Singapore and to local shipping was removed for the 
time, and an uneventful period succeeded until the 
dramatic outbreak of the 5th Light Infantry on the 
15th February 1915. 

Before dealing with this, however, it is necessary to 
explain the military position in Singapore. Prior to the 
War the garrison, excluding the forts, consisted of two 
regular regiments, one British and one Indian. The 
British Regiment, the first battalion of the King's Own 
Yorkshire Light Infantry, had left for the Front at the 
end of 1 914, and the garrison duties were performed by 
the native regiment, the 5th Light Infantry, and the 
Singapore Volunteer Corps. The 5th Light Infantry 
was an Indian regiment of old standing, raised in 1 803 
at Cawnpore by Lieutenant F. M. Johnson, and is credited 
with having been one of the few native regiments which 


remained loyal during the Indian Mutiny. The bat- 
talion in Singapore was recruited chiefly in the Ranga 
district. This regiment was under orders to proceed to 
Hongkong by the troopship Nore on the 1 6th February, 
and to assist in the garrison duties 200 men of the Johore 
Forces had been sent to Singapore on the 14th February 
and stationed in the Tanglin Barracks. The forces in 
Singapore then consisted of some Royal Garrison 
Artillery and Royal Engineers, a small detachment of 
the 36th Sikhs, the Singapore Volunteer Corps, a detach- 
ment of the Malay States Guides, and a detachment 
of the Malay States Volunteer Rifles, who were in a 
training camp at Normanton. The sth Light Infantry 
had been inspected prior to their departure, all prepara- 
tions had been made, and the ammunition had been 
collected at the Quarter Guard prior to embarkation. 
So far as the public knew, there was no reason to expect 
any trouble, and it is difficult to beUeve that the Mihtary 
Authorities were any better informed, as the French 
cruiser Montcalm was in harbour, and part, at least, of her 
crew in Tanglin Barracks until about forty-eight hours 
before the outbreak, and could presumably have been 
detained until the 5th Light Infantry had sailed. 

Such was the position when at about 3 p.m. on the 
15 th February the Mutiny broke out with starthng 
suddenness. A shot was fired at the Quarter Guard at 
Normanton, the Guard Room was burst open, and all 
the ammunition was distributed. The first victim was 
Captain Maclean, R.G.A., attached to the Malay States 
Guides, who was shot in his quarters. Captain Boyce, 
of the 5th Light Infantry, who attempted to quell the 
disturbance, was shot at the same time ; but the other 
officers of the 5th Light Infantry who were on the spot 
made their way to the camp of the Malay States Volun- 
teer Rifles, who, under Captain Sydney Smith, threw 
themselves into the bungalow of Colonel Martin, 
Officer Commanding the sth Light Infantry, and with 
him put the house into a state of defence. This party, 
consisting of Colonel Martin, Major Cotton, Captain Hall, 


and Captain Ball, of the sth Light Infantry, together with 
Captain Sydney Smith and eighty-two men of the Malay 
States Volunteer Rifles, was promptly besieged in the 
bungalow and the telephone wires cut, so that no reliable 
information could reach headquarters. 

The remainder of the mutineers appear to have 
divided themselves into two main bodies, one of which 
advanced towards town by the Pasir Panjang Road, while 
the other went across country to Tanglin Barracks. The 
former party met and shot Mr. C. V. Dyson, District 
Judge, Singapore, Mr. Marshall, of the China Mutual 
Insurance Co., and Mr. and Mrs. B. M. Woolcombe, of 
the Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. Stragglers from 
this body, or a part of it which proceeded towards Pasir 
Panjang instead of towards town, also shot Messrs. 
McGilvray, Butterworth, and Dunn in the bungalow of 
Mr. McGilvray at Pasir Panjang, and also Lieutenant 
Elliott, of the sth Light Infantry, whose body was found 
near the junction of Alexandra and Pasir Panjang 
Roads. Messrs. Edwards, of Guthrie and Co., Collins, 
of the Straits Bulletin, and Evans, of the Borneo Co., 
together with Private Leigh, of the M.S.V.R., were also 
shot in Alexandra Road. This completed the tale of 
murders committed by the first detachment, which was 
prevented from penetrating into town by the timely 
landing of the crew of H.M.S. Cadmus, which was 
fortunately lying in port, and to which early news of the 
mutiny was communicated. 

The second main division reached Tanglin at about 
4 p.m., and caught the forces there completely unpre- 
pared. These forces consisted of a section of the S.V.R. 
under Second-Lieutenant Love Montgomerie, which 
formed the guard at the main entrance to the German 
prisoners' camp, and a company of Johore Forces, which 
held the other posts . Why no warning had been conveyed 
to them has never been explained, but the results were 
disastrous. Captain Gerrard, of the M.S.V.R., Captains 
Culhmore and Abdul Jaffar, of the Johore Forces, Second- 
Lieutenant Love Montgomerie, of the S.V.R. , Sergeant 


Sexton, A.S.C., Sergeant Beagley, R.G.A., Corporal 
Harper, S.V.R., together with Privates Drysdale, Holt, 
and Cameron, S.V.R., and Private Jacob bin Salleh, of 
the Johore Military Forces, who were on duty there, 
and Corporal Lawson, of the S.V.R., who was present, 
though not on duty, were killed, while Privates James 
Robertson and Wodehouse were wounded and left as 
dead. The prisoners of war camp was thrown open, 
and the mutineers fraternised with the inmates. 
Nothing resulted from this, however, except the escape 
of seventeen prisoners, of whom six were recaptured 
almost immediately. This body of mutineers withdrew 
after they had thrown open the prisoners- of- war camp, 
and their later movements are uncertain. 

On the same afternoon a couple of stragglers pene- 
trated into town by Sepoy Lines and shot Captain Izard, 
R.G.A., and Major Galway, R.G.A., in Outram Road, 
also firing on Inspector Meredith, S.S.P., who escaped, 
although his horse was killed. They then proceeded 
along New Bridge Road, where they shot and killed 
Messrs. Wald and Smith, of the Eastern Extension 
Telegraph Co., Dr. Whittle, of the Government Medical 
Service, and Warder Clarke, of the Singapore gaol, 
wounding in addition Mr. Flett, of the Eastern Extension 
Telegraph Co., and Mrs. Whittle. They penetrated as 
far as the Central Police Station, where they fired on the 
Sikh guard and then disappeared. This covers all the 
known actions of the mutineers until dusk on the 15 th 

On the other side, preparations for defence were 
organised rapidly. On the first news of the mutiny 
coming to hand the Volunteer Guard on King's Dock 
moved out, and covered the road at Keppel Harbour, 
where they were quickly relieved by a landing party 
from H.M.S. Cadmus, which pushed out towards Pasir 
Panjang. The Sikh poHce were concentrated at the 
Central Police Station and the S.V.C. were mobilised at 
the Drill Hall. Parties were organised to bring in the 
women and children from the suburbs, and accom- 


modation was provided for them on the steamer Ipoh. 
Martial law was proclaimed, and strong pickets sent 
out to Tanglin Crossroads and the end of Cluny Road. 
The bulk of the R.G.A. were brought from the forts to 
the P. and O. Wharf, which was made headquarters, and 
Lieutenant-Colonel Brownlow, R.G.A. , with a force 
composed of the Cadmus landing party and some R.G.A., 
proceeded to the junction of Pasir Panjang and Alex- 
andra Roads, with a view of relieving Colonel Martin and 
the M.S.V.R. This force was strengthened during the 
night of the 15th by details from the S.V.C. and some 
armed civilians, and before dawn on the i6th started to 
advance up Alexandra Road against the barracks. 
The composite force then consisted of the Cadmus 
landing party, eighty strong, twenty-one Royal Garrison 
Artillery, fifty Volunteers, principally members of the 
recently formed S.V.R.,and twenty-five armed civilians. 

The Cadmus landing party, which formed the firing 
line, came into touch with the mutineers at about 
5.30 a.m., and the S.V.C. advanced to support them and 
occupied the barracks. Heavy firing on the left flank 
held up the attack for a short time, but the armed 
civilians, under Captain Brown, S.V.I., were thrown into 
some of the barrack buildings to mask the mutineers' 
fire, while the Cadmus party and the S.V.C. moved to the 
right and attacked from higher ground. The mutineers 
broke, and the bungalow of Colonel Martin was reached. 
The combined forces, which were not considered strong 
enough to hold the position, retired back along Alexandra 
and Pasir Panjang Roads to Keppel Harbour, sweeping 
the Golf Links on the way. The total losses in this 
operation were one killed. Stoker Anscombe, of H.M.S. 
Cadmus, and six wounded. The losses of the mutineers 
were never stated, but thirty to forty prisoners were 
taken. On the same morning, about dawn, an attack 
was made on the Orchard Road Police Station, which 
was garrisoned by police and armed civilians, but the 
mutineers were beaten off^, leaving two dead behind them. 

The 1 6th was a day of organisation. About 200 


European special constables were sworn in, and a force 
of 190 Japanese, raised by the Japanese Consul, were 
supplied with arms by the Military Authorities. All 
motors were requisitioned for transport purposes, and 
two armoured cars hastily constructed out of motor 
lorries. On the afternoon of the i6th eighty or ninety 
of the mutineers surrendered to the forces at Keppel 
Harbour. Although it was hardly realised at the time, 
Singapore was already safe, for there was no further 
fighting, though lively sniping occurred for some days. 
The removal of the women and children to ships in 
harbour continued, the Eastern Extension Telegraph 
Company's cable-ship Recorder, the s.s. Nile, and the s.s. 
Penang being placed at the disposal of the Military 
Authorities. By the evening of the i6th a complete line 
of posts had been established from the P. and O. Wharf 
to Cluny Road, cutting off the mutineers from town, 
and forces with motor transport were ready to move to 
any threatened point. There were no further European 
deaths, the last being Lieutenant Legge, Medical Co., 
S.V.C., and Gunner Barry, R.G.A., who were killed on 
the 1 6th February. 

As a result of prompt action taken by the authorities, 
assistance commenced to arrive. On the 17th the 
French cruiser Montcalm returned, and landed 190 men 
and two machine-guns, on the i8th the Russian cruiser 
Orel landed forty men, on the 20th the Japanese cruiser 
Tsushima supplied a landing party of seventy-five men, 
and on the 21st the 4th (T.) Battahon of the King's Own 
Shropshire Light Infantry arrived from Rangoon by the 
s.s. Edvana. By that time, however, out of a total of 
815 men in the mutinous regiment, 61 5 were in custody, 
and fifty-two killed, wounded, or drowned, and nothing 
remained to be done except to round up stragglers. 
This was a matter of some difficulty, owing to the nature 
of the country, and took over a month. A court-martial 
composed of Lieutenant-Colonel Brownlow, R.G.A., 
Major Edge, 4th K.S.L.L, and Captain Ball, sth L.L, 
was established, which passed sentence of death on forty- 


one of the mutineers and various lesser sentences on 
125 others. The executions took place outside the 
Singapore gaol, and were witnessed by a huge concourse, 
who appeared to have little sympathy with the con- 
demned. A military funeral at Bidadari marked the 
close of an episode, the danger of which is now almost 
forgotten, and tablets in the Cathedral and the Victoria 
Memorial Hall, together with a sad array of graves at 
Bidadari, are the only remaining marks of Singapore's 
trial. To the inexperienced the most remarkable 
feature of the mutiny was the way in which a trained 
Indian regiment broke before the attack of a half-trained 
force, and the greatest credit is due to the Military 
Authorities for what appeared to be the rash way in 
which they took the offensive with insufficient and raw 
troops. A Commission under Brigadier-General Hoghton 
was appointed to enquire into the causes of the mutiny, 
but its findings were never disclosed, and the causes of 
the trouble are not known. The trial of a prominent 
Indian merchant, Kassim Mansoor, and his condemnation 
for high treason, apparently was not connected with the 
Sth Light Infantry. 

Immediately after the mutiny Singapore fell back 
into its old quietude, and there was nothing further to 
mark the progress of the War until the spring of 191 7, 
when, with the start of the German campaign of unre- 
stricted submarining, the lack of shipping became 
noticeable, while the increasing stringency of the export 
restrictions in Europe forced her to seek new sources 
of supplies, which were found in Japan, the United 
States of America, and Australia. The shipping difficulty 
to the United Kingdom was met by an Imperial arrange- 
ment, which placed a fixed amount of tonnage at reduced 
rates at the disposal of Singapore for commodities 
which were of vital importance to the United Kingdom, 
and was a gold mine to those exporters who were fortu- 
nate enough to secure space in the controlled ships, as 
they annexed the extra profits represented by the differ- 
ence between the controlled and the uncontrolled rates, 


and with the exception of the copra industry, local 
interests did not suffer heavily. The restrictions on 
import into the United Kingdom, however, ruined for 
the time a most thriving local industry, the tinning of 
pineapples. This industry, which had an out-turn of 
about four milhon dollars per annum, and was com- 
pletely in Chinese hands, ceased to exist, and practically 
all the factories were closed down ; but as European 
capital was not involved, the matter attracted little 
attention. In March 191 8 the Dutch ships in harbour 
were seized, but all except the Rochussen, Van Heeniskirk, 
S. Jacob, Van Overstraaten, Van W-aerwijck, and Goentoer 
were quickly released. Fearing a recurrence of similar 
action, however, the Dutch ships boycotted Singapore, 
and the K.P.M. office was closed ; but this was a very 
temporary state of affairs, and trade was soon resumed. 

As the interest of Singapore in the War was almost 
completely financial, it is fitting that the last three 
items of interest should be purely monetary. The first 
of these was the requisitioning of all local British tonnage, 
which took effect from the ist May 191 8. The other 
two were connected with the two main industries, tin 
and rubber. On the 8th May 191 8 the Government of 
the U.S.A. announced that the importation of rubber 
for the three months of May, June, and July would be 
restricted to 25,000 tons, and the same limit was set for 
the following three months. It was also arranged that 
preference should be given to Central and South America, 
in order to conserve shipping space. 

In 191 8 the imports of rubber to the U.S.A. had been 
177,000 tons, so that the proposed reduction was very 
drastic. It does not appear to have been definitely 
discovered whether these limits were really enforced, 
but the effect of the announcement on the Singapore 
rubber market was disastrous, and prices at the auctions 
fell below the cost of production of the majority of 
estates, at one time touching thirty-nine cents a pound. 
A Committee was appointed on the 1 6th August, and on 
the 2nd September changed to a Commission, to enquire 


whether Government should give protection or assistance 
to the rubber industry, and if so, what form such Govern- 
ment action should take. This Commission presented 
a report, dated the 2nd October, recommending a drastic 
compulsory reduction in output, and either the formation 
of an Imperial Monopoly in rubber under a Rubber 
Control Board, which would buy at one shilling per pound 
for first-grade rubber, or failing this, that Government 
should notify its willingness to buy rubber of a specified 
grade at a specified price. They recommended eighty 
cents per pound as the price of first-grade rubber for 
this purpose. The news of the Armistice on the iith 
November, happily, saved the situation. 

Tin, however, was a more interesting question. The 
demand for tin caused by war requir^tnents had steadily 
forced up the price, until in the early part of July 191 8 
it stood at $160 per picul in Singapore, and at an even 
higher figure in Batavia. In theory this should have 
resulted in larger supplies of ore ; but the reverse proved 
to be the case, and there appeared to be every prospect 
of still higher prices. 

On the 12th July the buying of tin was prohibited 
except under licence ; but this apparently had no effect, 
either on supply or price, which rose to $185 per picul, 
but fell back again to $1 75. At this point a single buyer 
alone was authorised, and the price fell steadily from 
$175 per picul on the 14th August to $143.10 per picul 
on the day upon which the Armistice took place. The 
steady fall had the peculiar effect of bringing extra 
supplies on the market, miners presumably using every 
effort to accelerate output before the price went still 

This really finishes the war history of Singapore. But 
before turning to the history of legislation, there are 
two matters which deserve mention. These are the 
War Charities and the Committee of Food Control. The 
charities are, of course, inextricably mixed up with those 
of the whole Malay Peninsula, the collections for which 
on the 31st September 191 8 amounted to $5,171,174.39. 


Of this amount $2,581,958.09 was collected by funds 
organised in Singapore, although the money was not 
all collected in Singapore itself. 

The Committee of Food Control was appointed under 
the Imperial Order in Council of the 26th October 1896, 
and came into existence on the 3 1 st May 1 9 1 7. Its activi- 
ties, so far as the public are aware, were confined tomaking 
orders as to the price of milk, fish, and a few other minor 
articles. Whether they were in any way responsible- 
for the fact that during eighteen months of war, in spite 
of a shortage of shipping anti. embargoes on the export 
of almost all foodstuffs from the countries of origin, 
Singapore never suffered from any lack of essential 
foods is unknown, so that it is perhaps unsafe to criticise 
them too severely. 

We now turn to the less spectacular, but not less 
interesting aspect of the subject — War Legislation and 
its effects. The War Legislation, with the exception of a 
few Ordinances for special purposes, may be divided into 
four main heads : military service and training, control- 
ling and winding up enemy interests locally, restrictions 
on trading with the enemy, and restrictions on import 
and export. 

The miscellaneous legislation is not of great interest. 
It consisted of the Naval and Military News (Emergency) 
Ordinance, 191 5, prohibiting publication of news of 
movements of ships, troops, and kindred matters ; the 
Seditious Publications (Prohibition) Ordinance, 1915, 
prohibiting publications dangerous to the public peace 
and stopping the importation of dangerous literature ; 
the War Loan Ordinance, 1916, allowing the raising of 
money to be lent to the Imperial Government for war 
purposes ; the Registration of Aliens Ordinance, 191 7, 
to keep control over the movements of aliens in the 
Colony ; the War Tax Ordinance, establishing a tax on 
incomes to provide a contribution to the Imperial 
Government for war purposes ; and the Increase 
of Rent (War Restriction) Ordinance, 1917, to prevent 
increase of rent of smaller dwelling-houses. 


The legislation dealing with military training is more 
interesting. The local forces in the Colony at the 
outbreak of war were governed by the Volunteer 
Ordinance, 1888. It was found that this law was not 
sufficient for dealing with large bodies of mobilised 
Volunteers, and on the 9th October 191 4 the Volunteer 
(Amendment) Ordinance, 1914, was passed, putting the 
Volunteers for disciplinary purposes on the same footing 
as the Regular and Territorial Forces. On the i6th 
August 191 5, when it was realised as a result of the 
mutiny that a local force of sufficient strength to deal 
with internal troubles was not merely desirable but 
necessary, in view of the fact that the Regular Forces 
might be still further depleted, the Reserve Force and 
Civil Guard Ordinance was passed. This Ordinance 
provided for the registration of all British subjects of 
pure European descent between the ages of 1 8 and 45 who 
were not already Volunteers. All such persons between 
the ages of 18 and 40 were made subject to compulsory 
military training, with the option of entering the Volun- 
teer Reserve, while all between 40 and 55 were subject 
to semi-military and semi-police training in the Civil 
Guard. In December 191 5 the Volunteer Amendment 
Ordinance, 1915, was passed, but it was merely to make it 
clear that the Volunteer Forces were subject to certain 
disciplinary arrangements, whether there were Regular 
Forces in the Colony or not. On the 14th April 191 6 
the Reserve Force and Civil Guard Amendment Ordi- 
nance was passed to merge all members of the Reserve 
Force, and all those undergoing military training, into the 
Volunteer Forces, and to give the General Officer Com- 
manding the powers to draft such men into any unit 
which he deemed fit. This measure was necessary, 
because the Volunteers alone were subject to mobili- 
sation, which in consequence pressed very heavily on 
their small numbers, and also to bring the Volunteer 
Forces to full strength. The Volunteer Amendment 
Ordinance, 1916, of the i8th May, gave a statutory 
footing to the Cadet Corps by attaching them to the 


Volunteer Corps. On the 14th December 191 7 the 
Volunteer Amendment Ordinance, 191 7, was passed to 
provide for compulsory parades under penalty, and to 
empower the Commanding Officer to impose certain 
penalties for disobedience and neglect of duty, and a later 
amendment provided for notices of such compulsory 
parades and a penalty for not attending the prescribed 
number of non-compulsory parades. 

The next Ordinance — the Registration and Medical 
Examination Ordinance of the 8th December 191 7 — 
marked the initial step towards compulsory foreign 
service, registration, and medical examination of all 
British subjects of pure European descent between the 
ages of 18 and 41, and their classification for active 
service, but was not coupled with any compulsory 

Boards were established to certify whether a man was 
indispensable or not ; but even if the Tribunal declared 
that a man could be spared, he was not subject to com- 
pulsory service, nor could he terminate a contract for the 
purpose of offering himself to the Military Authorities 
without the consent of his employer. It was, in fact, the 
dying effort of the voluntary system, and was succeeded 
by the Military Service Ordinance, 191 8, an Ordinance 
which came too late to be of much practical benefit, but 
which was a courageous attempt to release men for 
service in the field. 

This Ordinance was passed on the 20th July 191 8. It 
provided for re-examination of all Europeans between 
the ages of 18 and 41 , and that all Class A men should be 
liable for compulsory military service abroad unless they 
applied to and were exempted by a tribunal on the 
ground of imperial interests or special hardship. This 
closed the tale of volunteer and kindred legislation, and 
left Singapore with a compulsory volunteer force under 
the same discipline as the regular army and the nucleus 
of an overseas force in a fairly advanced state of training. 

We now turn to the second main branch, the control- 
ling and winding up of enemy businesses locally. This 


is extremely interesting as showing the development of 
the status of an enemy for business purposes and the 
steps which proved successively necessary to prevent the 
Central Powers from benefiting by their foreign estab- 

The Legislation started with the Alien Enemies 
Winding Up Ordinance, 191 4, passed on the 9th Decem- 
ber 1914. This Ordinance empowered the Governor to 
appoint a liquidator to wind up any business which was 
carried on by an alien enemy or enemy company, or by 
anyone on behalf of such enemy or company. An alien 
enemy was defined as the subject of a Sovereign or 
State at war with His Majesty, while an enemy company 
was a company one-third of whose share capital was held 
by enemies or one-third of whose directors were alien 
enemies. The decision of H.E. the Governor on question 
of status was final, and he had powers of inspection of 
books in order to decide. The first amendment to this 
was passed on the i6th April 191 5. It regularised the 
position of the liquidator of Behn, Meyer and Co., and 
provided for the order in which debts should rank, 
making debts due to persons residing in or doing business 
in the Colony rank first for payment. The second 
amendment, passed on the 19th October 1915, and 
entitled the Alien Enemies Winding Up (Further Amend- 
ment) Ordinance, 191 5, went still further, and prevented 
the liquidator from paying any liabilities except those 
incurred in respect of trade carried on in the Colony. 

This is the first recognition in our war legislation of 
the international character of trade. On the 26th June 
1916 the Alien Enemies Winding Up (Amendment) 
Ordinance, 1916, marked a further advance of drastic 
nature. The former criterion of enemy character lay 
in domicile according to established law. It was now 
extended to cover nationality irrespective of domicile. 
The law further decreed that all debts and all shares due 
to or acquired by a firm which was being liquidated 
should vest in the liquidator, including debts and shares 
outside the Colony. It also provided that anyone who 


bought the goodwill of a liquidated firm should be 
prohibited from using the name of such firm without the 
consent of the Governor, thus freeing Singapore of 
enemy names. Moreover, the surplus assets, if any, were 
to be paid to the Custodian of Enemy Property, an 
official whose appointment will be referred to later. A 
further amendment allows creditors to be paid for debts 
due by the head office of a firm being liquidated out of 
the proceeds of the liquidated branch after the preferred 
creditors' claims have been satisfied. It also provided for 
dealing with secured creditors who were enemies, and 
depositing the proceeds with the Custodian, for finishing 
winding-up operations after the War if necessary, and 
for deleting from the Registry of Companies firms dis- 
solved by the Governor. 

The next amendment allowed appeal to the Courts 
against the Governor's decision as to enemy character, 
but it also prohibited thepurchaser of any enemyproperty 
from purchasing on behalf of an enemy or enemy firm 
or from disposing of such property to an enemy or enemy 
firm within five years of the end of the War. This is the 
first indication of the possibility of a future boycott of 
enemy interests. 

The next and last step was the Alien Enemies Winding 
Up (Amendment) Ordinance, 191 7. This made the 
definition of an enemy company much more stringent, 
as one director or one-tenth share of the issued capital 
was sufficient to give enemy status, and the rules to 
prevent indirect transfer to an enemy were made much 
more strict. It also provided that the liquidator should 
not sell any property to any person other than a British 
subject without the sanction of the Governor, and that 
no such property should be passed to an enemy or 
foreigner in any way. Clean titles to such property 
were also provided for. 

The third branch. Trading with the Enemy, is closely 
connected with, though distinct from, the winding-up 
legislation. It started on the 31st October 19 14 with 
the Trading with the Enemy Ordinance, 1914, which 


prohibited trading with Germany and Austria-Hungary, 
gave power to the Governor to appoint controllers to 
local businesses, and prohibited enemy subjects from 
carrying on business as bankers except under licence. 

On the sth June 191 5 this was followed by the Trading 
with the Enemy (Amendment) Ordinance, 1915, which 
provided for the appointment of the Custodian, to whom 
all moneys due to enemies must be paid. It also pro- 
hibited attempting to trade or offering or agreeing to 
trade with an enemy, and made assignments of debts 
or the like by an enemy invahd. A further extension, of 
the 14th July 191 5, prohibited payment of dividends by 
companies in the Colony to people of enemy nationality 
wherever resident, and provided for the payment of such 
sums to the Custodian. The Trading with the Enemy 
Amendment No. 3, 1915, went still further, and extended 
the amendments of the 14th July to cover all securities, 
provided for payment to the Custodian of capital falling 
due to an enemy, for a return of all bank balances and 
debts of over $200 to the Custodian, who could apply to 
the Courts for a vesting order, and extended the status 
of enemy for these purposes to all persons declared 
enemies by proclamation. This was a most important 
departure from previous legislation, as it gave enemy 
status to people of enemy nationality in China, Siam, 
Persia, and Morocco, in which places enemy countries had 
extra-territorial jurisdiction. 

The next stage is marked by the Trading with the 
Enemy (Extension of Powers) Ordinance, 1916, which 
prohibited trading with any person or firm wherever 
domiciled if of enemy nationality or association, after 
publication of such names in the Gazette. This practically 
ended the question of enemy status for trade purposes. 

The next amendment, the Trading with the Enemy 
Amendment Ordinance, 191 6, of the 2nd May, was on 
completely different lines, and enabled the Custodian to 
purge local companies of shareholders of enemy nation- 
ality wherever resident. This provision was also final 
in its own line. 


The Trading with the Enemy (Further Amendment) 
Ordinance of the 23rd June 191 6 prohibited payments 
by the Custodian to a person of enemy nationaUty 
wherever resident. 

The total result of this legislation was that all enemy 
firms in Singapore ceased to exist, that local businesses 
and companies were purged of all interests held by 
persons of enemy nationality, that all such interests 
were vested in the Custodian, with the right of disposal 
to British subjects, and that trading directly or indirectly 
with all firms of enemy nationality or association wher- 
ever domiciled was prohibited. The names of all enemy 
firms disappeared from Singapore, and all local property 
and moneys owned by enemy nationals were disposed of, 
and the proceeds held by the Government for the post- 
war settlement. 

The laws relating to imports and exports, the last 
general branch, are probably those best known to the 
pubHc, as they affected almost all kinds of business. They 
are divided into two branches, the restrictions and the 
machinery for enforcing them. The original restrictions 
were imposed under the Arms and Explosives Ordinance, 
191 3, which gave the Governor power to prohibit the 
import and export of articles of the nature of explosives, 
and also foodstuffs, except under Hcence. At the end 
of 191 S, when the restrictions on export became more 
strict, and the necessity for restricting imports also arose, 
the Arms and Explosives (Amendment) Ordinance, 1915, 
was passed, giving the Governor power to prohibit the im- 
port or export of any articles. This was followed, on the 
I St November 1 9 1 5 , by the Arms and Explosives (Further 
Amendment) Ordinance, 1915, which gave power to pro- 
hibit by proclamation the export of anything to any place 
unless consigned to persons named in such proclamation. 
Proclamations, with lists of approved consignees, were 
issued in regard to China, Siam, Persia, and Morocco, and 
trading with firms or persons of enemy nationality in 
those countries was effectively stopped. This system of 
approved consignees (generally known as White Lists) 


is the only really effective method of preventing supplies 
from reaching undesirable consignees, as it is impossible 
to put up dummy covers, as may be done with Black 
Lists. The next Ordinance, the Arms and Explosives 
Amendment Ordinance of the 4th April 1916, struck a 
deadly blow to the German trade with the Netherlands 
Indies and Siam. It prohibited the transit through the 
waters of the Colony of any goods without the permission 
of the Registrar of Imports and Exports. Prior to this 
date the direct ships from Holland to the Netherlands 
Indies, from Denmark to Siam, and from Spain to the 
Philippines carried large quantities of goods either of 
enemy origin or to enemy firms through Singapore, and 
such goods could not be interfered with. It was not pos- 
sible to seize such cargo and to detain ships until enemy- 
tainted cargo was unloaded. The German firms in Siam 
were thus completely cut off from supplies, as all their ship- 
ments from Europe had to passthrough Singapore, and the 
German trade with the Netherlands Indies was very con- 
siderably curtailed, though they still had some direct com- 
munication with Holland. This practically completed 
the legislation relating to restrictions, the only further 
amendment being one to make employers liable for the 
acts of their servants, a very necessary provision in the 
case of native firms, in which it is often practically 
impossible to discover who is primarily responsible for 
any illegal act. 

The administration of these Ordinances depended on 
the Registrar of Imports and Exports (War Powers) 
Ordinances. The first of these, the Registrar of Imports 
and Exports (War Powers) Ordinance, 1915, required 
certificates of origin for goods from certain places 
and statutory declarations of ultimate destination for 
goods sent to certain countries. It gave power to 
call for landing certificates for goods shipped to 
foreign destinations, and empowered the Registrar to 
seize summarily any goods which he suspected to be of 
enemy origin or to have been imported in contravention 
of the laws relating to trading with the enemy, and an 


averment. of the Registrar that he was not satisfied on 
these points threw the onus of proof on the suspected 
party. Even in a free port such as Singapore this 
Ordinance was remarkably effective as regards imports, 
but its value for checking exports was not so great. An 
Amending Ordinance of the 5th April 191 6, however, 
dealt with exports in a much more stringent and effective 
manner. It empowered the Registrar to refuse export 
of any goods to foreign destinations, placed heavy 
penalties on export even of free goods before the permis- 
sion of the Registrar was obtained, and created a pre- 
sumption for exports similar to that already in force for 
imports, i.e. made an averment by the Registrar that 
he was not satisfied that goods had not reached an enemy 
country or a statutory enemy prima facie proof that 
such goods had gone to an enemy destination. At the 
same time, ships' owners, agents, and masters were made 
jointly responsible for any shipments on their boats 
contrary to regulations, and ships' manifests were made 
primd facie proof of import or export. This made the 
check on export almost as effective as that on import, and 
no further amendments were necessary except that of 
the 28th June 191 8, which regularised the granting of 
licences, gave power to inspect books and documents, and 
to demand information if any' offence against the laws 
relating to import or export was suspected, and imposed 
an extremely heavy penalty for false statements made 
with a view of obtaining a licence to export prohibited 

It is difficult to imagine a system of law which could 
be more efficient without a large and well-organised 
preventive staff. 

It was necessary to set artificial bounds to the scope 
of this article, and when the Armistice was declared that 
date was chosen as a suitable ending. It saved the rub- 
ber situation, and although tin was and apparently will 
be in an unsatisfactory condition for some time, it may 
safely be said that the War left Singapore in a state of 
unexampled commercial prosperity. Her able-bodied 


population of British subjects of European descent is 
trained to take its part in any future trouble which 
may arise. Enemy trade names or enemy interests in 
trade or in local property no longer exist, and eifective 
machinery has been established to prevent the entry of 
enemy goods in future if such action is decided upon. 
The problem of the future is to decide how far it is 
possible to ban enemy traders and enemy goods from a 
port whose prosperity largely depends on its distribution 
trade. We have had an example in Germany itself of 
strong protection linked with free ports, and the pros- 
perity of Hamburg is an object-lesson which must not 
be lost sight of. To prevent the re-establishment of 
businesses of enemy nationality will be comparatively 
easy. To prevent the import of enemy goods except in 
small quantities will not be difficult. To do the former 
would hardly injure Singapore, but to do the latter may 
have a serious effect. We can only trust that if the 
century-old policy of Sir Stamford Raffles is reversed, 
the development of the Malay Peninsula will compensate 
for the possible loss of foreign trade. 


By C. Bazell, formerly of the Education Department 

If there were no other evidence, the views of Sir Stamford 
Raffles on the subject of education alone would be 
sufficient to prove that he was far in advance of his time. 
In England no annual grant towards education was made 
until 1847, and it was not until 1870 that good schools 
were planted over the country. But in a minute read 
to the leading inhabitants of Singapore on the i st April 
1823, Raffles said that " by raising those in the scale of 
civilisation over whom our influence or our Empire is 
extended we shall lay the foundations of our Dominion 
on the firm basis of justice and mutual advantage " ; 
that " education must keep pace with commerce in order 
that its benefits may be ensured and its evils avoided." 
But he warned his audience against expecting too early 
a harvest from their sowing : 

" The progress of every plan of improvement on the 
basis of education must be slow and gradual ; its effects 
are silent and unobtrusive, and the present generation 
will probably pass away before they are fully felt and 
appreciated . . . but a single individual of rank raised 
into importance and energy by means of the proposed 
institution may abundantly repay our labour by the 
establishment of a better order of society in his neigh- 
bourhood, by the example he may set, and' by the 
Resources of the country he may develop." 

Surveying the position of Singa;pore with regard to 
the surrounding countries, he pointed out " the advantage 
and necessity of forming an institution of the nature of a 



college which shall embrace not only the object of 
educating the higher classes of the native population, but 
at the same time that of affording instruction to the 
officers of the Company in the native languages, and of 
facilitating our more general researches into the history, 
condition, and resources of those countries." 

Such were Raffles 's views and such his intentions ; but 
whether it is that the climate here forbids any sustained 
effort, or that the curse on Sang Raj una Tapa, told in a 
tale of jealousy and disloyalty, still hangs heavy over 
the place, his high ideals passed away with their author. 
The Bengal Government regarded Singapore as an 
unimportant outpost, the business men considered their 
own profits, not their wider obligations, and the College, 
betrayed by its trustees and neglected by the authorities, 
stood for forty years a whited sepulchre of Raffles's hopes. 
The tale must begin here. Founded by Raffles himself, 
the College, now Raffles Institution, is the only scholastic 
link with the distant past. In its history is contained 
the story of how the children were neglected until the 
Community, and later the Government, had learnt to 
appreciate the wider outlook of Raffles. Next must 
come the history of the various missionary bodies, who, 
in healthy rivalry first of all for the good of their pupils, 
kept aloft the torch of learning, but later, under the evil 
spell of the place, sought in unchristian competition their 
own advancement. The East India Company gave way 
to the Colonial Authorities, but the time for educational 
awakening was not yet. Finally, after a hundred years' 
lethargy, theGovernment, roused by the more enlightened 
activity of a foreign mission, has decided to contemplate 
a college of its own. 

If, then, at last Raffles's dreams are to be realised in a 
new Raffles College, the story of the past, with its efforts 
and its failures, set down without partiality and without 
concealment, would be a fitting introduction to a mor^ 
successful future. 

Raffles's original plans for his college were modified 
somewhat, in consequence of the proposal of Dr. Mor- 


rison to amalgamate with it the Anglo-Chinese College 
from Malacca — which proposal was never carried out, as 
the College was eventually transferred to Hongkong — • 
and it was decided to have three departments in the new 
College : 

( 1 ) A scientific department for the common advantage 

of the several colleges that may be established. 

(2) A literary and moral department for the Chinese. 

(3) A literary and moral department for the Siamese, 

Malays, etc. 

Subscriptions were raised, trustees were appointed, 
and on the sth June 1823 the foundation-stone was laid 
by Raffles himself. To free his foundation from any 
financial anxiety Raffles promised, on behalf of the East 
India Company : 

(i) A grant of $300 a month. 

(2) A free gift of land, 600 feet along the sea front and 

1,140 feet inland in depth to Rochore Street 
(now Victoria Street), lying between the Fresh- 
water stream (at present the open drain) and 
College Street (now Bras Basah Road). 

(3) A large block of land, " a hill with the land ad- 

jacent to it to the northward, and at the back 
of Government Hill," i.e. Institution Hill to the 
north of Fort Canning. 

(4) One thousand five hundred acres of uncleared 

ground (500 acres for each department). 
The start was auspicious, and a successful future might 
have been prophesied, but Fate decreed otherwise. 
From its earliest days its growth was thwarted by the 
hostility of Mr. Crawfurd, Raffles 's successor, and the 
apathy of the Trustees. The Government in Bengal 
was willing to follow where Raffles led, and in reply to a 
letter from him dated the 20th May 1823, concerning the 
grants made, while deprecating his haste, as the continued 
occupation of Singapore by the British was still uncertain, 
did not cancel his arrangements. Also, two years later, 
Mr. Crawfurd was told : " We are, however, disposed to 
give all reasonable encouragement to the education of 


the natives, and we shall not therefore withhold our 
sanction from the grant of a monthly allowance of $300 
in aid of the Establishment, for such time as it shall be 
required. And we do not disapprove of the endowment 
of each of the departments with an assignment of 500 
acres of uncleared ground on the usual terms." But 
Mr. Crawfurd obviously disapproved of Raffles 's scheme, 
and used his influence to prevent its success. First of all 
the grant was not paid, though Raffles himself wrote from 
Bencoolen on the 23rd January 1824, asking him to 
advance the money, on his ( Raffles 's) responsibihty ; 
and later, in spite of the reply, quoted above, to Craw- 
furd's minute of the nth May 1825, in which he asked 
for a decision on the matter, the grant was still unpaid 
in February 1826. Following up his first success, Mr. 
Crawfurd, in a despatch to the Court of Directors, 
suggested that Raffles 's ideas were too advanced to be 
of any use, that the school was too far away from the 
town to attract pupils, and that a wiser plan would be 
the adoption of a scheme of elementary education. His 
views prevailed, and early in 1827 the Trustees were 
informed that the Government subscription should be 
applied solely to the establishment of elementary schools. 
Up to this time the Trustees had done nothing, and now 
their inactivity was to lead to more serious loss. On 
the 9th January 1827 a warning was issued by the 
Government that all lands not built upon or applied to 
the purposes originally intended would be resumed on 
the ist May, a perfectly equitable action. But on the 
nth January, only two days later, the Trustees were 
informed that the 1,500 acres mentioned above were 
to be handed over for the use of the officers of the 25th 
Regiment, who had recently arrived. This high-handed 
action failed to make the Trustees realise their past 
neglect or to rouse them to any activity, and they 
surrendered their claim in a letter dated 27th February, 
sent by John A. Maxwell, Acting Secretary, Singapore 
Institution, to the Honourable John Prince, Resident 
Councillor : 


" SiR,^On behalf of the Trustees of the Singapore 
Institution I have the honour to enclose a document 
under their signature by which they renounce all claim 
to the lot of ground referred to in your favour of the 
1 9th ultimo, and I trust the same may be considered satis- 
factory with a view to the object for which it has been 
framed. The Grants referred to, viz. 499, 500, 501, are 
in my possession, and are ready to be delivered up if 

After this betrayal of their trust, further remissness 
was only to be expected. On the i8th August of the 
same year the Trustees appear to have attempted — 
unsuccessfully — to sell the Institution to the Govern- 
ment. Not to be baffled, they then thought of turning it 
into a town hall or reading room — a proposal that 
drew forth a strong protest from Macao from Dr. 
Morrison, one of the original Trustees. A meeting was 
held on the 20th November 1828, the last held until 
1836, to discuss the matter. Everything, apparently, 
was abandoned, and for nearly eight years Raffles's 
aspirations lay buried in what the Singapore Free Press 
described in 1832 as " the unfinished building or ruin " 
that stood " an eyesore to the Settlement, affording a 
convenient shelter for thieves." 

There were in Singapore Malay schools, mentioned 
by Raffles, where the only teaching was a parrot-like 
repetition of the Koran. The Rev. G. H. Thompson, 
of the London Missionary Society, also taught in a house 
at the corner of Bras Basah and North Bridge Roads, his 
wife teaching six Malay girls. In 1829 there were two 
Cantonese schools, one at Kampong Glam and another 
in Pekin Street, a Hokkien school with twenty-two 
boys and an English school with an attendance of forty- 

This lack of a school of any standing moved the new 
Chaplain in 1833 to apply to the Government for a grant 
to establish a free school. A place was given him near 
the foot of Fort Canning, by High Street. A Singapore 
School Society was formed, subscriptions were raised, 


and on the ist August 1834 the Singapore Free School 
was opened under Mr. J. H. Moor. When the building 
fell into disrepair, the Committee thought of applying 
for the use of the buildings of the neglected Raffles 
Institution. The formal application was made on the 
15th September 1837. 

Meanwhile, on the ist January 1836, a meeting of 
subscribers to a monument to be erected to the memory 
of Raffles decided that they would best perpetuate the 
remembrance of the eminent services rendered to the 
Settlement by completing the Institution founded by him 
for the purposes of education. The Trustees, now only 
two in number, were shamed into action. They met 
on the 5th January, nominated ten others to act with 
them, and thankfully accepted the subscribers' proposal. 
Subscriptions again came in ; repairs were started, and 
in December 1837 the Singapore Free School was removed 
from High Street to the Institution, then for the first 
time used for its original purpose. The new venture was 
managed jointly, the Trustees reserving to themselves 
the right of resuming the buildings after one year's 
notice,andafter refunding $1,800 that had been advanced 
for repairs. But later, to avoid the inconvenience of 
having two authorities for the Singapore Institution, the 
Trustees and the School Society Committee, on the 9th 
August 1839 the latter resolved " that from henceforth 
the whole shall be vested in the Trustees of the said 
Institution, and that the School Committee deliver over 
to the said Trustees all funds and property of every 
description over which they have hitherto exercised 
any control ; and that the said Trustees be requested 
to appoint a School Committee of a certain number of 
members from their body annually." 

The new Trustees did better work than their prede- 
cessors, but failed equally to realise the future possibilities 
of Singapore or of the school. On the ist March 1844 
they opened a girls' department in the Institution, 
details of which will be given later. In 1853 they estab- 
lished two annual scholarships for boys who had been 


resident in Singapore for the three years immediately 
before the examination. But in 1856 the unhappy 
suggestion was made that the land at the back of the 
Institution should be sold, and that they should dispose 
of " the existing building and ground to the Government, 
and apply the proceeds to the establishment of schools 
in central positions of the town." Fortunately this 
merely remained a suggestion. Far worse were their 
actual deeds. In 1839 they obtained from the Govern- 
ment a formal grant of the land on which the Institution 
stood as far back as Victoria Street — one of the original 
grants given by Raffles ; and the next year they asked 
for the hundred acres on Institution Hill, but only twenty- 
eight acres were allotted to them. They then, in 1 840, 
sold the land behind the Institution, between North 
Bridge Road and Victoria Street, in nine lots on a 999 
years' lease for an annual quit rent of $15 per lot, and 
five years later the property on Institution Hill was 
disposed of for an annual quit rent of $225. So much 
for the business man's control of educational finance. 

This Governing Body directed the destinies of the 
Institution until 1857, when an action was brought by 
the Hon. E. A. Blundell, the then Governor, against the 
two resident trustees, William Napier and Thomas Owen 
Crane, requiring them to show by what right they 
managed the affairs of the Singapore Institution. The 
decision of the Court was postponed, for some reason or 
other, until the 3 1 st May 1859, and said that ' ' the educa- 
tional establishment called the ' Singapore Institution ' 
was well founded, established, and endowed as a charity 
by the late Hon. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles," and the 
Court ordered the Registrar to enquire into the original 
endowments of the said Institution and report ' ' by whose 
default any part or parts of the said endowment have 
since been forfeited or lost " ; and instructed him to 
propose a plan for the application of any funds according 
to the intentions of the said Sir Thomas Stamford 
Raffles, "or as near thereto as circumstances will admit, 
having regard to the present income of the said Institu- 
I — 29 


tion." The Court further instructed him to appoint 
twelve trustees, and to prepare a proper plan for supply- 
ing such vacancies as might from time to time occur. 
In his report of the 9th July i860 the Registrar declared 
that " the unjustifiable resumption of the land with 
which the Institution was endowed has been the means 
of crippling the resources of the Institution, and has 
disabled the Trustees from carrying out the views of 
the said Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles " ; that the nomin- 
ation of the Trustees at the meeting on the sth January 
1836 was irregular, and that their subsequent acts were 
irregular and liable to be set aside. The Registrar then 
appointed patrons and trustees, and advised the new 
Trustees to make application to the Government for the 
" restoration of the 500 acres to each of the departments 
of the said Institution which had been unjustly resumed 
by Mr. Prince on account of the Government, and for the 
raising of its present subscription in aid to the sum 
originally sanctioned by the Court of Directors." This 
report was adopted by the Supreme Court on the 27th 
April 1 86 1. 

After the new Trustees took over the management, the 
Institution entered on a new lease of life with new ideals. 
Before we proceed further with that history, however, 
it will be worth while studying for a moment the early 
inner history of the school during this period. The school 
funds were raised by public subscription, by a Govern- 
ment grant, and by fees collected from certain of the 
scholars. In 1854 the paying section of the school, boys 
in the upper school who paid $4 per month for their 
education, was done away with, an arrangement that 
was altered in 1857, when those who could afford it had 
to pay according to their means. After this date the 
reports are always headed " Singapore Institution 
Schools " instead of " Singapore Institution Free Schools" 
as before. But the business community was, on the 
whole, indifferent to education, and subscriptions were 
few. In 1855 the monthly return from subscribers 
was $69, while the Government grant was 400 rupees. 


In the report for this year a detailed account of the 
expenditure is given to show that the Trustees allowed 
no waste. Six boys on the foundation were fed and 
clothed out of the general fund, " at an average cost of 
six dollars per month each boy, for which they obtain 
eight coats, eight pair trowsers, eight bajus, eight pair 
night trowsers, shoes about three pairs, one cap, six 
pillow-cases, six towels ; their food consists of fish, 
pork, and curry, at a cost of three dollars a month each, 
the clothing averaging two dollars per month, the remain- 
ing one dollar provides [sic] sundries such as washing, 
mending, plates, dishes, mats, blankets, etc." 

Originally the Institution contained English, Chinese, 
and Malay classes. There had been a Tamil class as 
well in the school in High Street, that was discontinued 
in 1 836, when the transfer to the Institution was contem- 
plated. The Malay department was abolished in 1842, 
owing to " the great apathy and even prejudice which 
exists among this race against receiving instruction." 
Of the Chinese masters we read in 1839, " two and an 
assistant teach the Hokkien dialect, one the Cantonese, 
and one the Teochew. Generally speaking, they are 
diligent and attentive. They are paid according to the 
average number of boys they collect daily." Two years 
later the Cantonese and Teochew dialects were stopped, 
as the teachers were unable to collect enough pupils to 
justify the expense. In 1859 Mr. W. W. Shaw, seeing 
the need of good interpreters, and knowing from experi- 
ence how the native interpreters were likely to be 
influenced by the Chinese secret societies, handed over, 
in conjunction with a friend, $500 invested at 9 per cent., 
to last for five years, to give prizes to Protestant European, 
Anglo-Indian, or Portuguese lads to induce them to study 
Hokkien and Teochew with a view of getting good non- 
Chinese interpreters. This class first started in 1864, 
with twenty-six boys. In the next year the fund was 
increased by donations of $500 from Chinese residents 
and $1,000 from Alexander and James Guthrie, whose 
interest in education in Singapore deserves a lasting 


record. These classes were continued until 1894, when 
financial troubles brought them to an end. 

The English school was divided into an upper division, 
with four classes, and a lower division. The curriculum 
was what might be expected at that time : English, 
arithmetic (including book-keeping), history (which 
comprised outlines of ancient history, together with 
histories of Greece, Rome, England, and India), chrono- 
logy, natural history and philosophy, geometry, mensu- 
ration, trigonometry, the use of globes, writing and 
drawing, developing the memory, if not the intelligence. 
Religious exercises were practised out of school hours, 
but were not compulsory, except for scholars and 
foundationers. The examinations were public, and were 
usually well-attended by the subscribers. In 1870, 
however, the Trustees decided " that the style of public 
examination pursued at the school is somewhat tedious 
and unattractive : on future occasions a more entertain- 
ing and satisfactory programme will be provided." 
Occasionally there was difficulty in obtaining teachers — 
a mutter of the coming storm. In 1855 there was an 
average attendance of 130 boys, " but their number has 
much increased of late, throwing upon the teachers a 
far greater amount of work than can be effectively 
performed by one European and two assistants, one of 
whom is a native Portuguese and the other is a Chinese 
convert." Ten years later, under the new regime, we 
read that " the staff of masters is utterly inadequate 
to the number of boys under tuition," and in the re- 
ports there are constant references to resignation of 

In those early years much seems to have been packed 
into a small space. In 1839 a wing to the Institution 
building was furnished. " It is spacious and well 
adapted to the objects for which it was intended. The 
upper rooms are occupied as a residence by the new 
Master, the Rev. J. T. Dickinson; one of the large 
lower rooms is occupied as the Chinese schoolroom ; 
and the other is used as a printing room, where printing 


work on a small scale is conducted for the benefit of the 
Institution." Three years later the right wing of the 
building was completed, and was " occupied by one of 
the masters and his family ; and the large rooms in the 
main building are now exclusively appropriated to the 
general purposes of the Institution, the one being used 
as a committee-room, the other as a library." This 
library was open to subscribers to the Institution, and 
was moved from the building in 1862. There were 
also in the building the boarding departments for the 
boys and for the girls. 

The new Trustees appointed by the Supreme Court 
formally took over the school property on the 1 5th June 
1 861. At once they enquired into the matter of the 
lands that had been granted originally and illegally 
alienated, but the Supreme Court declared " that the 
sales of various lots of Institution lands are valid by 
lapse of time, even if they were originally invalid," and 
the question was dropped until 1873, when another 
unsuccessful attempt was made to recover them. " It 
appears that by the Statute of Limitations the Institution 
is deprived of all legal claim on Government for the 
restoration of the lands, or for compensation, more than 
twelve years having elapsed since the decree of the 
Supreme Court was issued." The Registrar's advice to 
ask for the full grant of $300 a month was ignored. 

For a time the mercantile community showed a 
little interest in education. In 1865 Messrs. Guthrie 
made another donation of $1,000 for the endowment of 
a Malay scholarship, the interest being used for the 
general fund until instruction was again given in Malay. 
A prize fund was started in 1872 by Messrs. Young and 
Mooyer with an endowment of $2,000. 

Not only were the Trustees more energetic than their 
predecessors, but they also had a definite policy in view. 
In 1870, on Mr. Bayley's resignation — he had been 
head-master for fourteen years — it was agreed, at a 
meeting at the Town Hall on the 1 2th February, that a 
graduate of one of the home universities should,be sought 


for, the time having arrived " when some step might be 
taken for the further development of the views which 
were entertained by Sir Stamford Raffles," and the next 
year Mr. R. W. Hullett, of Trinity College, Cambridge, 
came out as head-master. His arrival marks a distinct 
advance in the progress of education in the Colony. 
Capable and fearless, for thirty-five years he fought for 
the advancement of learning. From the time of his 
arrival up to the time that the Institution was taken over 
by the Government there is a record of constantly 
increasing effort, hampered always by an ever-increasing 
lack of funds. 

In 1 87 1 boys were sent from Siam to commence their 
education preparatory to proceeding to Europe. To ac- 
commodate them a separate department was estabhshed, 
the Girls' School being moved from the Institution for 
that purpose. But the boys were withdrawn the next 
year, as an English school had been opened in Bangkok. 
Considerable interest in education was shown by Sir 
Andrew Clarke, Governor from 1873 to 1875. In 1874 
the Government undertook to keep the Institution 
buildings in repair. A fixed grant was also paid yearly, 
and was formally recognised later, in 1885, as being " in 
compensation for land originally set aside by Government 
for the endowment of the Institution." In 1876 a new 
wing was opened to serve as a school-house for the sons of 
Malayrajahs and chiefs, the foundation-stone havingbeen 
laid by the Governor on the 7th May 1875. As, however, 
the Malays were unwilling to come, the upper part of 
the building (the end opposite Raffles Hotel) was used 
by the Raffles Museum and Library until 1887. 

In 1883 the boys' boarding department was moved to 
the house in Beach Road vacated by the girls, and in 
August of the next year it was again moved to the corner 
house in Bras Basah Road, opposite the school, where 
Raffles Hotel now stands. In September 1887 the 
boarding department was discontinued. As founda- 
tioners had been maintained since 1840, it was decided 
that there was " a moral obligation upon the Trustees 


to maintain and educate a certain number of necessitous 
boys as foundationers," and that "the number should 
not exceed twelve." This number gradually dwindled, 
and in 1 896 the last of the foundationers left. 

When Mr. HuUett arrived, he found old-fashioned 
methods in vogue. New methods were soon introduced, 
and new life was diffused into the teaching. As the 
Inspector of Schools reported, " Mr. Hullett has evidently 
done good in checking the ambition that learns too much 
and too fast." The aim of the Trustees and of the staff 
was gradually to eliminate the lower standards until 
only higher work remained. The first difficulty to cope 
with was casual attendance and excess of pupils i 
To stop inattendance a monthly fee of 1 5 cents was 
levied in 1872, and in 1876 a graded scale of fees was 
introduced, only to be raised again two years later, 
when those in the upper school paid $1 and those in the 
lower school (all classes below Standard IV) 50 cents. 
But in 1 88 1 we find " the old difficulties of excess of 
pupils, unmanageable classes, want of teachers, and 
scant accommodation have still to be deplored." More 
definite steps were taken in 1883, when only those were 
admitted who could pass Standard I, and no boy over 
eighteen years of age was allowed to remain in the school. 
When the possibility of the Government establishing 
higher scholarships was mooted in 1884, " the Trustees 
think that the time has now come when the Institution 
must gradually leave to others the work done in the 
lower classes, and become in a certain measure a sort of 
high school for the more elementary schools which have 
lately increased so rapidly." In 1888, in pursuance of 
this plan, arid " in accordance with the wishes of the 
Government," Standard II was made the qualification 
for admission, and the advisability of affiliation to 
the London University was considered. 

During this period, there was close co-operation 
between the Trustees and the Government. In 1875, 
when the Government opened English branch schools at 
Telok Ayer and Kampong Glam, the management of them 


was handed over to the Trustees, who after a year's trial 
handed back the responsibihty to the Government. In 
187s Mr. Hullett was released from his duties to act as 
Inspector of Schools, and three years later the Trustees 
allowed Mr. Alex. Armstrong, one of the Institution 
masters, to take charge of the Government school at 
Malacca. The Institution was looked upon as a semi- 
official school. In 1890 " it was arranged that four out 
of the five Government schools should give instruction 
only in Standards I and II, that one (Cross Street) should 
give instruction as far as Standard IV, and that after- 
wards pupils should pass on to the Raffles Institution." 
And in 1889, when the Government decided to maintain 
a special class to teach physical science and chemistry, 
" pending the completion of a chemical laboratory and 
lecture-room, for the purposes of which the south wing 
of the Institution is being adapted. Government classes 
are now held at the Raffles Institution for teaching the 
various subjects required in the examination for the 
Queen's Scholarships." On his arrival the new lecturer 
was appointed Government Analyst, and as his extra 
duties prevented his fulfilhng his duties as a teacher, the 
classes were abandoned at the end of 1890. His office 
and laboratory, however, were still in the Institution 
building until 1895, when they again became available 
for school purposes. 

This progressive policy was justified by its results : 
in 1879, of the total number of boys examined, 331 
were in the lower and 107 in the upper standards; in 
1892, 71 were in the lower and 212 in the upper standards. 
In 1894 the Inspector of Schools minuted " an Institu- 
tion, in which an opportunity would be oflFered of obtain- 
ing a more advanced education, is now one of the more 
pressing educational needs of the Colony, and I trust, 
therefore, that before long it may be found possible 
to give effect to the proposal made a few years ago by 
the Trustees, that an education of the kind should be 
provided at the Raffles Institution, the instruction given 
there being confined to higher education only." In 


the competition, too, with the rest of the schools in all 
parts of the Settlements for the Queen's Scholarships, 
the Raffles Institution easily held its own. 

But this progress cost money. As higher work 
became more general, more European masters had to 
be brought out. Subscriptions failed to increase enough 
to meet the growing expenditure. In 1890 the Trustees 
had suggested that the Institution should be taken over 
by the Government, with a representative committee to 
manageit,and were told, in a reply dated the lothNovem- 
ber, that " His Excellency, after fully considering the 
matter in Executive Council, is unable to concur in any 
such suggestion, or to hold out any prospect of the 
Institution being taken over by the Government under 
any circumstances." Every possible retrenchment was 
made. The Malay class started in 1885 was discontinued 
in 1893, because " in the condition of school finances 
the expenditure of $150 was not justified." The next 
year the Chinese class also was closed, as "the Government 
discontinued the grant for the payment of a teacher, and 
the Trustees were unable to meet the expenses of this 
class without a vote." In October 1899 boys were 
again admitted in Standards I and II, the Trustees acting 
on the minority report of a sub-committee and reversing 
the policy pursued since 1888. 

Financial considerations led them to this. In the 
lower classes numbers were large and instruction com- 
paratively cheap, so that such classes were a source of 
income. On the i6th October 1901 the attention of 
the Legislative Council was called to the existing state 
of pubUc instruction in the Colony, and early in 1902 a 
Commission of Enquiry into the system of English 
education in the Colony was appointed. Their report, 
issued in April of the same year, contains the following : 

" The Trustees of the Raffles Institution have urged 
the Government to take over the school on the grounds 
that management by Trustees who are constantly chang- 
ing is unsatisfactory, and that they find it impossible 
to maintain an adequate staff of fully qualified teachers 


from home, as they are not able to offer pensions, and the 
funds of the Institution do not permit them to give as 
good terms as those received by Government teachers." 
The Commission recommended that the Institution 
should be taken over by Government, and on the 
I St January 1903 the Government assumed the direct 
management and control of the Raffles Institution. At 
first all went well. In July commercial classes, both 
day and evening, were started, and, unlike those in other 
schools, flourished without a break. Practical mechanics 
and science were also taught, and in 1904 another labora- 
tory was equipped for elementary mechanics and experi- 
mental science. A change came in 1906, when Mr. R. W. 
Hullett retired. Since 1903 he had been acting as 
Director of Public Instruction ; but his presence had 
inspired the school, and had sustained the Government 
in its efforts. After his departure no one had the 
courage to importune the Government, or else the 
authorities turned a deaf ear. His scheme for gradually 
eliminating the lower standards was duly accomplished. 
When the school was taken over, out of a total of 530 
boys there were 24 in Standards I and II. First of all 
these two standards were abolished, then Standard III, 
and after October 1906 no more boys were admitted to 
Standard IV. Three years later " Raffles Institution • 
was unable to find room for all the Standard V boys 
who wished to enter in November," and these boys 
had to be accommodated in the Government branch 
schools. In 1903 there were only forty boys in the 
special Cambridge and commercial classes ; in 1909 
the number had increased to 150. But while the lower 
work was being excluded, the masters necessary for 
higher work had been leaving Government service, 
without a voice being raised in protest, and without any 
effort being made to retain them, until in 191 5 there were 
"no less than six vacancies on the European staff of 
Raffles Institution," and those vacancies were not caused 
by the War. In the next year a new laboratory was 
equipped without there being a master to use it. One 


other useful addition to the building was a large examin- 
ation hall, that had been opened in 191 2. 

In physical education Raffles Institution has been 
fortunate in having its own ground for recreation. In 
1902 a Volunteer Cadet Corps was formed, and was 
attached to the S.V.C. Until 1906 the Corps consisted 
in the main of Raffles boys. After that other schools 
took more interest in it, until it was disbanded after the 
mutiny in 1915. 

Raffles Girls' School 

This school, as already mentioned, was opened in the 
Institution buildings on the 4th March 1844, with 
eleven pupils, six of whom were boarders receiving food, 
clothing, and education free, and five day scholars. In 
1 871, in order to provide accommodation for boys who 
were expected from Siam, the girls were moved to a 
house in Bras Basah Road, adjoining the Institution. 
The yearly rent was $660, and when this was raised in 
1877, the school was moved a little way down Beach 
Road. " To this many of the parents raised the objection 
that the day scholars had so far to walk alone." For a 
long time a Committee of eight ladies supervised and 
directed the activities of the school, the Trustees merely 
providing an annual grant ; but in 1878 the Trustees, 
wishing to co-ordinate the financial affairs of the Institu- 
tion, took over the direct management themselves, 
asking the ladies simply to visit and make reports and 
suggestions. To judge from the reports issued during 
the first thirty years by the Ladies' Committee, their 
chief object was to shelter the girls from the many 
temptations to which they appear to have been exposed, 
theprovision of someform of education being buta second- 
ary consideration. The girls were in charge of a matron, 
who " is especially valuable in the moral and religious 
training of the children ; but [sic] she has also kept them 
neat and tidy. ' ' Financial problems constantly exercised 
the minds of the Committee, for they had to manage 
with the amount allowed by the Trustees. The cost for 


boarding each girl was $s per month, and in 1855 this 
was reduced to $4, and " with the saving thus effected, 
a daily teacher was engaged for a temporary engage- 
ment." Later an assistant was engaged to teach for 
$10 a month, together with board and lodging for herself 
and her two children. In i860, when a resignation left 
the school without a teacher, the ladies undertook the 
work themselves. The results achieved justified, in 
their opinion, the care expended : thus we find " three 
of the girls thus rescued are at this time gaining their 
living in Singapore as domestic servants, and conducting 
themselves to the satisfaction of their employers ; a 
fourth is most respectably married at Sarawak " ; and 
later, in November i868, one of the free boarders was 
married from the school " with the full sanction of the 
Committee." This may have led to the fact that in 
1 87 1 "to the ordinary branches of education that of 
cooking was added for the boarders." 

By this time, however, current ideas on education were 
filtering out from England, and in the report for 1871 for 
the "first time the need of a certificated mistress is 
insisted on. That a real demand for education was 
setting in is shown by the steady increase in the number 
of day scholars : in 1 854 there were sixteen boarders and 
three day scholars " in pretty regular attendance " ; ten 
years later there were twenty-eight boarders and forty- 
three day scholars ; and in 1883 the number of boarders 
was sixteen and of day pupils 118. In 1 873 the Govern- 
ment made an extra grant to pay the salary of a certifi- 
cated mistress, who duly arrived out in August 1874. 
From 1876 onwards the reports of the examiners and 
of the Inspectors of Schools are most satisfactory, a 
curious feature being the apparent inability of the girls 
to do arithmetics 

General dissatisfaction with the site of the school led 
the Trustees in 1881 to commence building a Girls' 
School on their own ground on its present site, the 
Government giving $6,000 towards the cost of $15,000. 
The plans were prepared by the Acting Colonial Engineer, 


and the work was undertaken by the P.W.D. " in 
consequence of the difficulty of getting reasonable 
contracts." " The ground in the playground was filled 
up with the earth which was removed from the Esplanade 
by the S.C.C." The new school was opened on the 23rd 
July 1883, and its usefulness was attested by an imme- 
diate increase in numbers, so that in 1884 the Inspector 
of Schools minuted that " the attendance has increased 
about eighty per cent., and there is scarcely sufficient 
accommodation for the number of pupils at present 
attending the school in the four class-rooms it contains. 
As there is every probability of the increase continuing, 
I trust the Committee may be able to provide additional 
accommodation by enlarging the present building." 
Four years later a class-room and a dormitory were added 
to one of the wings, the Government giving half of the 
contract price. In August 1888, the better to deal with 
the problems that kept arising, the Trustees formed a 
" Ladies' Committee " to manage the school, reserving 
in their hands the control of the teaching staff and all 
expenditure of sums over $20. This Committee set to 
work, and three of its decisions were adopted in the 
next year : 

(i) That no boy over the age of eight years should 
remain at the Girls' School. 

(2) That the fees for boys should be $2 a month, for 

girls $1. 

(3) That after Standard VI girls should pay $3 a 

month instead of $1. 
But all their schemes for improving the school were 
checked by the steadily increasing financial difficulties. 
In 1 89 1 a special committee of the Trustees, appointed 
to consider the matter, reported that during the last 
five years there had been a loss of nearly $3,000 on the 
working of the school. This loss was adjusted in a pro- 
vidential way. In 1 890 the Trustees had decided that the 
money given by Mr. W. W. Shaw and Mr. James Guthrie 
for the Chinese and the Malay scholarship funds was no 
longer required for its original purpose. In all this 


amounted to $6,967, of which $3,000 was the original 
donation and $3,967 the accumulated interest. On 
being consulted by the Trustees, these two gentlemen 
directed that the money should be invested at seven per 
cent, and put to a " Guthrie and Shaw " foundation for 
the Girls' School, on condition that no part of the money 
should be spent on building. In this way the difficulty 
was solved for a time ; fresh efforts were made ; in 
August 1 89 1 the fees were raised to $2 a month, but 
at the end of 1893 the boarding establishment had to be 
closed. It was also proposed to discontinue altogether the 
Girls' School, but fortunately the lack of money prevented 
this, as the Trustees would have had to compensate the 
mistresses had their agreements been cancelled, there 
being nearly three more years to run. The closing down 
of the boarding department, however, ended the financial 
trouble, and the school became self-supporting. 

All this time its educational prestige had not 
suffered, and in 1902, just before it was taken over by the 
Government, the Director of Public Instruction referred 
to it as " an admirably managed establishment." On 
the I St January 1 903 it became a Government school, and 
from that date one has to depend for information on 
official reports that veil any good work done by Govern- 
ment servants under formulas and statistics. In 1904 
a training school for normal work was erected by the side 
of the main building, and on the ist February 1906 a 
training class for women was opened, with an attendance 
of three. Its numbers soon increased, and it has been 
ever since the one satisfactory and constant feature in the 
training of local teachers. In 1 9 1 2 an addition was made 
of two class-rooms at the North Bridge Road end. 
There had been no special preparatory school for English- 
speaking boys, and up to 191 7 these had been able to 
attend the Raffles Girls' School ; but owing to lack of 
accommodation these boys had to be refused admission 
in 191 8, and now they are taken only in the Infant 
School. In prestige as well as in results this school is 
easily the leading Girls' School in the Colony. 


Missionary Schools (and Others) 

The story of the gradual development of Raffles Insti- 
tution has been given in detail because its connection 
with the past entitles it to pride of place, and the standard 
of its achievement has been hitherto the standard for the 
other schools in the Colony. 

It is now time to trace the history of other educational 
bodies that have done good work in the development of 
the Colony, but whose services have not received their 
proper recognition. There are many schools that 
appear for a time, and then quietly disappear, leaving no 
memorial. In 1855 " the closing of the Rev. Mr. Sames's 
school, by the departure of that gentleman for Europe, 
had occasioned an increase in the number of children 
at the Institution." In 1861 there was a school at 
Tanjong Pagar, containing forty-eight Malays and nine 
Chinese, that was " established and maintained at the 
sole cost of Mr. Guthrie, the proprietor of the land in the 
neighbourhood of the village." In April of the next 
year Christopher Morgan Pillay founded a school in 
Prinsep Street, under the auspices of the Ladies' Bible 
and Tract Society ; and the same year the Rev. Mr. 
Venn started a school for Chinese boys in Chin Chew 
Street, and another in Victoria Street for Eurasian and 
Kling female children. Such schools generally endured 
only for the hfetime of their founders. In 1872 there 
existed a small school run by the Rev. Father Pierre 
Paris, of the Society of Foreign Missions, where the 
teacher received $10 a month and " instruction is con- 
fined to English reading (with a strong Kling accent) and 
writing from copy." This school received occasional 
help from the Brothers, but was described in 1874 as 
being supported rather than aided by the Government, 
and in the next year it was closed down. In 1873 
" Ramasamy's School," kept by a Tamil, was inspected 
by request. " He charges fees of $1 and more, and yet 
many go to him from the cheaper and larger schools." 
No Government grant was given, and two years later no 


trace of it is found. In later times a free school was 
opened in Havelock Road by Cheang Jim Hean, the 
son of Cheang Hong Lim, was inspected for the first time 
in 1893, and received a Government grant. It had an 
average attendance of forty-five boys and taught up 
to Standard IV, but " on the death of its founder in 1901 
was closed suddenly, without notice to masters or 

It is impossible to trace and put on record all the 
schools that have existed in Singapore. Of those that 
have been discontinued, special mention must be made 
of that conducted by Mr. B. P. Keasberry. In 1 840, as a 
member of the London Missionary Society, he opened a 
day school for Malays in Kampong Glam, but had to give 
that up owing to his pupils' unpunctuality and non- 
attendance. Having severed his connection with the 
Society in 1 847, Mr. Keasberry lived in Singapore, until 
his death in 1875, as a self-supporting missionary. 
Realising that a day school was of little use at that time, 
he moved two miles out of town to Mount Zion, in River 
Valley Road, and opened a free boarding school of a 
strictly religious character. If their parents consented, 
Malay boys were taken for one to four years, and were 
educated in the vernacular and in some practical work, 
especially in printing and book-binding. None of the boys 
were required to profess Christianity, but attendance at 
the daily Bible reading and at Sunday Chapel was com- 
pulsory. Lessons in the Koran were not allowed, nor was 
the Friday holiday given. In 1872 there were thirty- 
five boys, and we find that most of his pupils earned their 
living later as clerks, interpreters, and printers. The 
value attached to his school is shown by the liberal 
Government grant, and by the desire of the Inspector 
of Schools to make the school the training college for 
Malay teachers. When the Training College was opened 
later elsewhere, a small industrial class was formed 
" to carry on Mr. Keasberry's work." In 1858, in 
conjunction with his wife, he tried to start a Malay 
Girls' School, but the attempt was a failure, as was also 


a day school for Chinese. In 1869 we find " Mr. Keas- 
berry's efforts were not confined to his school, and in 
particular we may note his numerous translations of 
English works into Malay " ; and later, in 1872, " the 
Mission Press which was started when the school 
flourished has printed almost the only educational works 
that are in the language." On his death in 1875 the 
school was closed. 

The varied history of another school must be given as 
an excellent example of the short-lived enthusiasms of 
Singapore. The Eastern School was founded about 
1 891, for the purpose of teaching Chinese boys English, 
and was conducted by Eurasians under an advisory 
committee of Chinese. It was situated at first in two 
shop-houses near Tan Tye Creek, below Fort Canning, 
in River Valley Road, and was moved in December 
1893 to the top of a storehouse in Hong Lim Quay, in 
Kampong Malacca. The school was to have been closed 
by the Government, but the Rev. A. Lamont took it over 
in 1895, on behalf of the English Presbyterian Mission. 
He was full of enthusiasm, and under his care the school 
prospered. The school was moved to " The Mansion," 
and again, early in 1 896, to the old Government Training 
College in Club Street, at Gemmill's Hill. Its supporters 
believed (so one reads in the Presbyterian Church report) 
that from the attendance and the results at the annual 
examination it promised to be one of the permanent 
institutions of the Colony ! Towards the end of 1 896 
Mr. Lamont returned to England, and after his departure 
the Presbyterian interest in education gradually faded 
away. For four years the school struggled on, until the 
management was handed over to the American Methodist 
Mission in 1900. " It had not been a success under the 
old management, and at the time of transfer the staff 
was deplorably weak ; I fear that the Managers have 
taken on themselves what is likely to prove for some time 
a heavy burden." This forecast proved too true, and 
after 1902 the school was closed. Other educational 
work had been started by the Rev. A. Lamont. In 


1 89 1 evening classes for Chinese wishing to learn English 
were commenced under his supervision in the " Chinese 
Educational Institute," a building at the corner of Hock 
Lam Street and North Bridge Road. Under the 
auspices of this society a series of popular lectures were 
given in 1892, on literary and scientific subjects, on 
Saturday evenings in the Raffles Institution. This effort 
likewise came to an early end. Mention must be made, 
too, of Our Lady of Lourdes Anglo-Tamil School, a small 
school for Tamil boys, that was founded in 1885 and 
became an aided school in 1886. In 1901 it was reported 
as inefficient, and after 1904 it ceased to exist. 

But our chief concern must be with the larger mission- 
ary schools that have survived to the present time. 
They have done most valuable work for Singapore. 
When the Government shirked the burden in 1870, 
these schools, as they came into being, undertook the 
task. Their worth was recognised in the beginning, and 
attested by the ready response from subscribers of all 
denominations, and by grants of land and money from 
the Government. It must, however, be remembered 
that some of these establishments are conducted by 
alien bodies setthng to do their work in a British Colony. 
Their allegiance and their funds are centred elsewhere. 
The Commission of 1902 reported that " with regard 
to the schools managed by the Christian Brothers and 
the Convent schools satisfactory data cannot be arrived 
at. The returns of income and expenditure furnished 
by them are admittedly incorrect, it having been the 
custom to correctly state the income and such part of 
the expenditure as is paid to other than members of 
these communities, to deduct such expenditure from the 
income, and call the balance ' salaries of teachers.' " 
In the same report we find, " The Anglo-Chinese schools, 
managed by American missionaries and decidedly less 
strongly staffed (i.e. than Raffles Institution), manage to 
practically meet all their working expenses from the 
fees and the Government grant alone." This poHcy 
of making a missionary school pay its own way brought 


it about that, " the Anglo-Chinese Schools, both in 
Singapore and Penang, while they adhere to the code 
rule as to the number of teachers, are in reality under- 
staffed, both as regards number and quality of teachers." 

Many references are made in the reports to the saving 
of money effected by allowing the aided schools to carry 
on the education of the Colony. In 1 894 it was observed, 
" As opportunities present themselves, it is advisable, 
therefore, to allow missionary and other bodies to under- 
take the work now being done by the Government 
English schools, the Government contributing towards 
the expenditure in the form of results grants." When 
it appeared that all education would be abandoned to 
them, the Government paying out annual subsidies, a 
policy of mutual distrust, self-advertisement, and self- 
aggrandisement was adopted, and the managers, regard- 
less of their pupils, allowed their sectarian differences 
to decide their course of action. In 1890 a Government 
science class was established for the benefit of those 
preparing for the Queen's Scholarships. " It has been 
hitherto held in the Raffles Institution building, and the 
other principal schools of the Settlement have on this 
account objected to their pupils joining the class." 
Nine years later an endeavour was made to arrange for 
a certain amount of co-operation by interchanging boys 
for the study of special subjects. The suggestion came 
to nothing, as each school was jealous of its monopoly 
of certain subjects, and refused to allow the others to 
share. When Mr. R. J. Wilkinson proposed, at a 
conference of Managers, that there should be a central 
high school for advanced work, instead of the many 
small classes in the various schools, the project was 
rejected by all except by a Government and by an Eng- 
lish mission school. 

These facts do not belittle the value of the education 
given, but merely show that, as a public work, all educa- 
tional work must be able to bear the light of criticism 
without sheltering behind the cloak of missionary 
enterprise, and that in missionary work as well as in 


education there must be a constant striving towards a 
higher ideal. Let us now consider the various schools. 

St. Joseph's Institution 

This, the senior missionary school, is a Roman Catholic 
educational estabHshment. Its foundation was due 
entirely to the enterprise of the Rev. Father Beurel. 
In the Singapore Free Press of the 22nd June 1848 there 
is an account of his proposed school, to be " open to 
everyone, whatever his creed may be." Money and 
teachers were needed. The former he raised from sub- 
scribers of all denominations ; in a letter to the Governor, 
dated the 1 6th September 1 868, he states that he raised a 
sum of money not less than $2 1 ,000 for educational and 
charitable purposes in Singapore. For the teachers he 
went to France, and returned in 1852 with six Christian 

The school was opened on the ist May of that year, in 
the disused church at No. 8 Bras Basah Road, under three 
of the Brothers who had come out. On the i st November 
1863 Colonel Cavenagh, the Governor, made the school 
its first grant in aid. In addition to this official help. 
Father Beurel stated that public subscriptions for the 
maintenance of orphans amounted to $20 per mensem, 
besides an annual grant of $300 from the French Govern- 
ment. Though the school was originally intended " for 
the gratuitous education of boys of all denominations " — 
in 1862 there were fifteen orphans " gratuitously edu- 
cated and supported " — changes were soon made. 
School fees were levied in 1 863, and in 1 872 the Inspector 
of Schools reported : "The school is, of course, of a strictly 
Roman Catholic character. The Director assured me 
that none are refused admission on religious grounds ; 
but having entered, I do not think that pupils of another 
creed are invited, or in practice allowed, to withdraw 
from the religious instruction." As the school grew, 
new and larger buildings were required. The Govern- 
ment was approached, and in 1863 the present site was 
granted for so long as the Christian Brothers maintained 


a school. In 1867 the new school was opened, and pro- 
gressed steadily until 1881, when " the management was 
transferred from the Brothers, who left Singapore, to 
the French Mission, and for some months the school was 
left without any proper teaching staff." This was a set- 
back ; but partly owing to the energy of the French 
Mission, and chiefly on account of the fact that the school 
consisted mainly of English-speaking boys (in 1882, out 
of 147 presented for examination 114 were Europeans 
or Eurasians), a complete recovery had been made by 
the time the Brothers had adjusted their differences and 
returned in 1886. In 1900 the school buildings were 
enlarged by the addition of two semicircular wings, the 
Government giving $6,000 on condition that an equal 
amount was raised in subscriptions. The numbers 
increased, and once again it was necessary to enlarge the 
school, and in 1907 the new building was erected in 
Waterloo Street, the Government giving $20,000 out 
of the total cost of $27,000. In 1890 there were 312 
pupils at the school ; now there are four times that 
number. This increase is due partly to the control the 
Roman Catholic Church exercises over its children, not 
allowing them to go elsewhere, and partly to the nature of 
the instruction given, which in 1898 was described as 
" exceptionally sound and honest." Though no brilliant 
results have been achieved, good steady work has been 
done. The Community has always recognised its worth 
by its generous subscriptions, the Government by its 
ready grants, as doubtless the Roman Catholics would 
be the first to admit. 

The Convent 

The Rev. Father Beurel's efforts did not stop at the 
Boys' School. On the 7th July 1849 he wrote to the 
Government asking for land next to the church in 
Victoria Street to found a charitable institution for 
females of all classes. When he was told in reply that 
sufficient land had already been given for churchpurposes, 
on the 1 8th August 1852 he bought with his own money 


the house at the corner of Victoria Street and Bras 
Basah Road. In i860 he bought the adjacent lots of 
land that had originally belonged to the Raffles Institu- 
tion. The convent was first opened in 1854, under 
Mother St. Mathilde, with one class attended by Euro- 
pean and Eurasian girls. In 1 862 the Government report 
states : " The Sisters' School is divided into two depart- 
ments, the upper being intended for the children of the 
wealthy and the lower for those of the poorer classes, 
each class receiving the education suitable to their 
position in hfe." In that year eighty-two out of 145 girls 
were"almost entirely dependent on the Sisters." In 1872 
Mr. Skinner reported that " the revenue is considerable, 
amounting to about $10,000, a large part of which is 
gained by the pupils' needlework and the Sisters' 
efforts in disposing of French goods. . . . The School 
fees and boarding charges amount to about $3,000, so, 
putting the orphanage aside, the School itself may almost 
be considered self-supporting." The pupils, then, were 
taught to read French as well as English. The School 
was first inspected by the Government in 1881, and since 
that time has fully justified its position as an aidedschool. 
In 1892 the large building along the southern boundary 
was erected, the Government giving one-third of the 
cost, the rest being collected chiefly from the non- 
Roman Catholic members of the Community. Eight 
years later the Government was ready to assist the School, 
promising $1,700 as a building grant, provided that an 
equal amount was raised by subscription. Another wing 
was erected in 191 3, the Government contributing 
$20,000 towards the total cost. The official reports on 
the work done have been consistently good, and the steady 
increase in numbers testifies to the utility of the school. 
In 1894 the average enrolment was 253 ; in 1900, 263 ; 
and in 191 4, after the opening of the new wing, 621. The 
work done is chiefly in the Lower Elementary classes, 
for out of the 621 pupils in 19 14 there were only seventy- 
three in the Higher Elementary and but nineteen in the 
Secondary classes. 


St. Andrew's School 

In 1 871 a Chinese Mission School was opened in 
Victoria Street, in " a Chinese house, roomy but ill- 
constructed for the purpose, for which a rent of $16 
monthly is paid, $3 of which is recovered from a sub- 
tenant." This school was founded by the Rev. W. H. 
Gomes, in connection with the St. Andrew's Church 
Mission, and was managed by a Chinese catechist, Loi 
Fat. From the beginning English was the only language 
allowed ; Bible instruction was given for one hour daily, 
and all the pupils were expected to attend. The value 
of its teaching was soon recognised, and in November 
1 871 the Government sanctioned a capitation grant of 
forty cents per head. In 1874 " the new church on 
Fort Canning Hill, which is also to be used as a school- 
room for the present, is now finished," and the school 
was accordingly moved there. At first the numbers 
were small, and Standard II was the limit of instruction ; 
but steady progress was made, until in 1 884 " the number 
of pupils attending the school is so large that the Mission 
Church building in which the school is at present held 
scarcely affords sufficient accommodation for the pupils." 
In 1899 there were 215 boys on the register, and, as it 
was decided that St. Peter's Church could no longer be 
used, a new school was erected hard by, the Government 
giving half the cost. This new building was opened on 
the I St March 1900: "The new school is bright, clean, and 
airy, but is scarcely large enough for the number of boys 
who now attend the school." To afford temporary relief 
a drill-room was turned into a room for Primary classes, 
an arrangement that still continues. A further addition 
was made to the school in April 191 2, in which year the 
numbers rose from 245 to 345. The standard of educa- 
tion had been steadily improving, until in 191 3 we find 
that the school " since the Rev. J. R Lee took charge 
a few years ago has changed from a purely elementary 
and poorly staffed school into a thoroughly efficient first- 
grade school teaching up to and beyond Standard VII." 


In 191 5 a new block was built, at a cost of $17,000, to 
which the Government contributed $6,000, half the 
estimated price. At the same time the old Mission 
House was converted into a boarding house. 

St. Anthony's School 

A school for girls was opened by Father Jose Pedro 
Sta. Anna da Cunha in 1879, in a small house in Middle 
Road. The next year it was moved into a compound 
house in Victoria Street, near the church. As " St. 
Anna's School" it was inspected in 1 880, and was reported 
as " under a competent English mistress aided by an 
assistant, and the high percentage of passes obtained at 
the inspection is especially remarkable considering the 
short time it has been in existence." But, " the school 
building is small and unsuitable for the purpose, and the 
case is one in which a building grant would be well 
bestowed. ' ' The school was moved into a larger building 
in 1882 ; but further accommodation was still required, 
and in 1886 a new school was built in the church com- 
pound, the Government contributing $4,000 towards 
the cost. Boys had been entering the school, and it was 
now known as " St Anthony's Boys' and Girls' School." 
The girls were chiefly Malacca Portuguese, and this school 
was the only one where they could suitably be taught. 
There was, as we read in 1887, but " poor material dealt 
with in the school, the children being mostly those of very 
poor persons, and of a class who resent anything like a 
proper amount of discipline being exercised over their 
children." In 1893 two separate schools were formed, 
the ground floor of the Parochial House being used for the 
boys. The Girls' School was under the control of the 
Father of the Portuguese Mission until 1 894, when the 
Canossian Nuns arrived from Macao and took over the 
sole charge. The numbers in both schools increased 
steadily, and satisfactory progress was made. In 1900 
" no school showed greater improvement than St. 
Anthony's. This was due chiefly to the untiring and 
intelligent supervision of the Manager, Rev. Father 


Victal. This school is greatly in want of a better building. 
I understand that the management has ample funds 
available, and is only delayed by the difficulty of finding 
a suitable site." Additions were made to the buildings 
in 191 2, and the present average enrolment of the two 
schools is 640. 

The Anglo-Chinese Free School 

In the report for 1887 mention is made of a school for 
Chinese at Tanjong Pagar, with an average attendance 
of 100, supported by Mr. Gan Eng Seng. This gentle- 
man, the chief store-keeper of Guthrie and Co., had 
opened, in 1885, a school of his own in a shop-house at 
Tanjong Pagar, to afford free education to his fellow- 
countrymen. In 1 888 the Government made it an aided 
school, and the next year offered a site between Cecil 
and Telok Ayer Streets, on which Mr. Gan Eng Seng 
erected a building at his own expense. This new school 
was opened by the Governor, Sir Cecil Smith, on the 
4th April 1893. Until the founder's death Chinese was 
taught as well as English, and fees were asked only from 
those who could afford to pay. After Mr. Gan Eng 
Seng's death it became for a time a purely English 
school, charging the usual fees. In 1898 a second build- 
ing was erected, at his own expense, by the school 
President, Mr. Hok Yong Peng. In 1905 " new and 
commodious class-rooms for its primary classes" were 
opened. The study of Chinese — Mandarin taught 
through Hokkien — was made compulsory again in 191 3, 
and the children of poorer parents were once more 
admitted free. 

The Malaysia Mission of the Methodist Episcopal 


This Mission arrived in Singapore in 1885, and com- 
menced its school work in the following year. There are 
three schools in Singapore that deserve separate men- 
tion : 



On the I St March 1886 the Rev. W. F. Oldham 
opened a school at No. 70 Amoy Street, and, as the 
numbers grew, on the ist November of the same year 
a new school was opened at the foot of Fort Canning, 
the Government having given the site, and the 
Chinese having contributed $6,000 to erect the building. 
It was first inspected in 1887, when sixty-seven boys 
were presented, and from that date it has been an aided 
school. Within two years of its foundation there were 
350 pupils in attendance, and in 1889 a large building 
close at hand was rented and the five lower standards 
placed in it. The Government recognised the value of 
the work, and gave an additional strip of ground and a 
building grant of $3,000. In 1891 the Inspector of 
Schools wrote : "The school has now an excellent teach- 
ing staff, and with proper organisation it ought without 
difficulty to be able to maintain its position as one of 
the principal English schools of the Colony." In its 
early years its character as a mission school was marked. 
This led to some trouble with the Chinese, and in 1896, 
" owing to an agitation amongst certain Chinese on the 
subject of religious teaching and attendance at religious 
services, which were alleged to have been insisted on (the 
school) lost a considerable number of its pupils." The 
storm, however, blew over. In 1893 a new building was 
opened. In 1888 Bellevue, on Orchard Road, had been 
purchased for a boarding house ; in 1897 this was rebuilt 
as Oldham Hall, to accommodate the Principal, his 
family, and the masters, together with room for several 
classes. In 1900, to make more room in the school 
proper, the three upper classes were moved into this 
house. The Government gave more land near the 
church in Coleman Street in 1905, together with a grant 
of $1 1,500 towards the new building. This was erected 
the next year at a total cost of $27,000, the balance 
being raised by local contributions. The general level 
of the teaching improved, and in 1907 the school was 


made Grade I in all departments. Further additions 
were made to the building in 1908, and in 1909 a separate 
afternoon school was started. This afternoon school 
was moved in 191 7 to Waverley House, and the special 
classes into Zetland House. 


In 1888 there appears in the Government report the 
name of the Methodist Mission Anglo-Tamil Girls' 
School, teaching up to Standard I, and the next year it 
appears as an aided school. Up to October 1891 the 
school met in a house in Short Street ; after that date it 
was transferred to the Christian Institute, in Middle 
Road, at the corner of Waterloo Street. Meant for 
Tamils at first, it soon attracted children of all races, and 
in 1893 its name was changed to the American Mission 
Girls' School. Reference must here be made to a 
boarding house and school for English-speaking girls 
that was opened at View Place, Mount Sophia, in 
May 1894. In 1897 the establishment became a board- 
ing house simply, the girls being sent to the Middle Road 
school. The steady increase of numbers necessitated 
better accommodation, and in 1898 the present site 
in Short Street was purchased, the sale of the Middle 
Road property helping to cover the cost of the new site. 
The new building was opened in February 1900, the 
Government having given $3,000 towards the cost. The 
Government report for that year says : " The American 
Mission Girls' School suffered from a weak staff, and 
the work shown in the standards was poor. An inter- 
esting and apparently successful start has been made 
here in kindergarten work." In 1908, however, the 
school was classed as Grade I throughout. Additions 
were made to the school buildings in 191 2. 


The Mission started a small school for girls in the 
Telok Ayer district, and in 1 889 it came under the Govern- 
ment Code, teaching up to Standard I. In July 1890 


it became an aided school, and was duly inspected in the 
following November. From 1891 to 1898 its name no 
longer appears in the Government list, as apparently 
it had become more of a mission to children than a school. 
In 1899 application was again made to have it admitted 
to the privileges of the Code, and once more, in 1900, it 
became an aided school. This same year the Govern- 
ment promised $3,000 for a new building on condition 
that the Mission raised an equal amount. The Govern- 
ment's offer was not taken advantage of. In 1902 the 
school was transferred to the building of the Eastern 
School, and another move was made the next year to a 
shop building at the corner of Cecil and McCallum Streets. 
The school was classed as Grade II throughout in 1908, 
but the next year the Inspector of Schools minuted that 
the school was " understaffed owing to the absence of 
Miss Olsen on leave." A new school being urgently 
needed, the Government gave a site in Neil Road and 
made a loan for building purposes, and in 1910 the 
new school was opened as the Fairfield Chinese Girls' 

These are the principal schools of the Mission, but its 
educational activities do not end here. One of their 
efforts was less successful than usual. The Eastern 
School was taken over by them from the Presbyterian 
Church in 1900, and was closed after the inspection in 
1902, although the Government had offered a fine site 
and a building grant of $3,000, provided that the Mission 
raised the remainder of the required amount. 

In 191 5 there were five day schools and two boarding 
schools conducted by the Mission. A Tamil school for 
boys was opened in 1889, and became aided the next 
year. It then had a varied history ; it disappears in 
189s from the Government list, to reappear in 1898, 
when it is inspected, and in 1899, when it becomes an 
aided school once more. It was then situated in an attap 
building on the site of the present Kandang Kerbau 
Market in Serangoon Road. In 1909 the school moved 
into a rented house further down the road, and in 191 3 


became the Serangoon English School. There is also 
an aided school at Gaylang belonging to the Mission. 

Other Schools 

Other aided schools there are that do good work, but 
are of too recent foundation to call for separate mention, 
as the Singapore Chinese Girls' School, founded in 1899, 
and the Seventh Day Adventist Mission School. One 
school, not aided and apart from the Government Code, 
deserves a brief notice. A school was founded in 1842 
by Mrs. Dyer, of the London Missionary Society, and was 
situated in a house in North Bridge Road, about where 
the Anglo-Chinese Dispensary now is. In the 'Fifties 
it was moved to River Valley Road, and again to an old- 
fashioned house on the sea front, where Raffles Hotel 
now stands. In 1861 the present house on Government 
Hill was built, under the supervision of Colonel Collyer 
and Major McNair. In 1843 the school was taken over 
by the Female Education Society, and in 1900 by the 
Church of England Zenana Mission. The school now 
has about 100 children on the books, mostly boarders, 
and is now on strictly missionary lines. 

The Government 

So far the story has been one of individual and of 
missionary enterprise. Behind these efforts there has 
been in most cases a power sometimes indifferent and 
occasionally benevolent. The attitude of the Govern- 
ment must now be taken into consideration. However 
much various educational bodies may claim to be inde- 
pendent, apart from the Government they can do 

The Bengal Government at first was doubtful about 
the continuation of Singapore as a British possession. 
Trade, and the preservation thereof, was its chief anxiety, 
and Raffles 's schemes were allowed to drop. But once 
the occupation was recognised as permanent, the 
Government's attitude towards education was friendly 
and liberal. Although the Company refused to shoulder 


the burden itself, it was always ready to assist those who 
undertook the task. Sites and building grants were 
freely given, and yearly contributions made. In 1863 
the Government instituted six scholarships of $6 a month, 
tenable for one year. The subjects of the examination 
were those already mentioned in connection with the 
English curriculum of the time, the total number of 
marks obtainable being 1,170. There were thirty-eight 
competitors, and the highest number of marks actually 
obtained was 935 and the lowest five. Vernacular 
education was not entirely neglected; in 1856 two 
Malay day schools were founded, one at Teluk Blanga 
and the other, known as Abdullah's School, at Kampong 
Glam. This latter, " a thatched building, was pulled 
down under the orders of the Municipal Commissioners " 
in 1 86 1, and a new school had to be erected. 

When the Transfer to the Colonial Office was made in 
1867, the new Government apparently continued the 
grants paid by the old. Official attention, however, 
was drawn to the far from satisfactory account of the 
present state of education in the Colony, and a Select 
Committee of the Legislative Council was appointed to 
inquire into the matter. On the 8th December 1870 
they reported " that the progress of education had been 
slow and uncertain," partly owing to the want of 
sufficient encouragement from the Government. ' ' There 
are a great number and variety of schools in the Colony, 
some purely educational, others combining charity with 
education. Many of these are under the control of the 
Roman Catholic clergy, but all, apparently, having a 
system of their own, unchecked, as a rule, by any Govern- 
ment supervision. By Government grants in aid, by 
voluntary subscriptions, and other means considerable 
sums of money have, during the last few years, been 
expended in the cause of education, but owing to the 
absence of effective supervision and the want of well- 
defined principles on which the schools should be con- 
ducted, your Committee is of opinion that the result has 
been far from satisfactory." The Committee saw but 


two courses open : (a) " either to begin de novo and 
thoroughly reorganise all the existing estabhshments, 
or (b) to take the schools as they now are, and by a 
gradual process endeavour to place them on a more 
satisfactory and improved basis." 

They expressed their unwillingness to interfere with the 
vested interests of the missionaries, and recommended 
the second course, disregarding the fact that in most 
cases the Government hadgiven the land, had contributed 
towards the cost of building, and had made a yearly 
grant. It is difficult to see why the Committee talked 
of " vested interests." 

This was a step fraught with serious consequences. 
The wiser and more statesmanlike course would have 
involved the expenditure of a large sum of money ; and 
the deciding factor in the Government's educational 
policy has always been financial considerations. The 
Commission of 1870 recommended more attention to 
vernacular schools. The money voted to pay the 
teachers was insufficient : they were underpaid, and 
consequently were often unsatisfactory. In 1886 an 
official comment is that " not a single teacher now 
remains who was a teacher in any of the Singapore 
schools five years ago." They could get larger wages 
as pohcemen or peons. In 1891 the average salary of 
a Malay teacher was $11 a month, but officialdom was 
" unwilling to recommend any increase " on the ground 
that with the larger number of vernacular schools there 
would be increased competition for the posts, and com- 
petition would keep the salaries down. Parsimony and 
indifference go hand in hand. A training college for 
Malay teachers, opened in Singapore in 1878, was, on the 
recommendation of a " retrenchment committee," closed 
down at the end of 1895. However, it was reopened 
at Malacca in 1901, but the headship was reserved for a 
member of the Cadet Service, regardless of his quahfi- 
cations or the interests of the teachers. How did the 
teachers fare? In the report for 1904 it is written: 
" Mr. H. C. Sells succeeded Mr. R. J. Farrer as head of 


the College on the 6th July, Mr. Robinson was in charge 
for the whole of the school year, with the exceptions of a 
fortnight in March (when Mr. Marsh superintended) 
and a month again from the loth August to the loth 
September (when Messrs. Pringle and Horth successively 
undertook the supervision of the College). On the ist 
December I [Mr. F. G. Stevens is writing] succeeded 
Mr. Robinson as acting head." 

Now the College, under a qualified head-master, does 
excellent work. In this same year there were in the 
whole Colony 375 Malay teachers, and the average per 
month of their total salaries c^me to only $13.88. 

This policy of starvation was not confined to Malay 
education only. There has been a constant succession 
of resignations from the Government Service both of 
European and of local teachers. In 1887 the official 
report states : " I consider that the efficiency of the 
Government schools is greatly impaired by the fact that 
so many of our certificated teachers leave us after 
completing their three years' engagements. They 
either return home or find more remunerative employ- 
ment elsewhere. We cannot expect to keep them unless 
some prospect of advancement is held out." In 1900 
the Colonial Office obtained two masters from the West 
Indies, as " owing, apparently, to the unpopularity of 
educational service in the Straits among scholastic 
bodies in England suitable men could not be procured." 
During the years 1908 to 19 10 fourteen Europeans and 
thirty-one local teachers resigned from the Raffles 
Institution and the High School, Malacca. This was 
not merely a temporary exodus. In 191 3 three 
Europeans and thirteen local teachers resigned. Certifi- 
cated teachers, Scottish graduates, Welsh graduates 
from universities, and some from Oxford and Cambridge, 
have all come and in their turn gone. 

Naturally this attitude of the Government towards 
their teachers reacted on the aided schools. They adopted 
the same methods, and were criticised for poor results. 
In the report for 1895, i^i connection with the aided 


schools, we find "it is of course impossible to get really 
efficient teachers for the salaries which in many cases 
are paid." Four years later the masters in aided schools 
" as a class are much underpaid, and often inefficient. 
In one school of over 200 boys the average salary of the 
teachers was $18 per mensem, or about ;£20 per annum. 
In another school, teaching to a high standard, an 
interpreter had to be sent for on the inspector paying a 
surprise visit, as none of the teachers present could 
speak the language in which they were giving instruc- 

In 1886 we read : " From a return recently prepared 
by the Audit Office it appears that the amount spent on 
education since the Transfer up to the end of 1 88 5 , after de- 
ducting fees, etc., received is 2*71 per cent, of the revenue 
received during the same period. The estimated expen- 
diture for the present year is 4-43 per cent . of the estimated 
revenue." In later years the authorities failed to rise 
even to this standard, although the educational problem 
was greater than before. In the two years before the 
War the amount voted for education was less than 
3 per cent, of the revenue actually obtained in the Colony, 
and of those sums in 191 2 nearly $31,000, and in 191 3 
nearly $23,000, were returned to the Treasury, owing 
to the fact that Government terms were too low to induce 
men to come out. 

This policy of drift has had its inevitable result. The 
Inspectorof Schools in 1890, when summing up the work 
of the previous ten years, wrote : " In Singapore and 
Penang there is not a single Government English school 
in which instruction is given up to Standard VI, the 
highest standard of the Code, and the duty of providing 
an education in English sufficient for the requirements 
of the Settlement is left entirely to the Raffles Institution, 
the Penang Free School, and the Mission Schools." And 
four years later : " The English education of the Colony is 
almost entirely in the hands of missionary bodies or of 
committees over which the Government has no direct 
control." And finally it was left to a non-British 

I— 31 


missionary society to recognise the educational need of 
the Colony. 

The Committee of 1870 recommended that there 
should be a Superintendent or Director of Schools, 
whose duties " would, of course, extend to a thorough 
supervision of the schools receiving grants in aid from 
Government throughout the Colony, and he should reside 
chiefly at Singapore." In 1872 the office of Inspector 
of Schools was created, Mr. A. M. Skinner being the first 
to hold the appointment. Three years later his duties 
were combined with those of Inspector of Prisons and of 
Hospitals. The title was changed in 19.01 to that of 
Director of Public Instruction, and in 1906 to Director 
of Education, S.S. and F.M.S., an Inspector of Schools 
for Singapore and Malacca being then created. 

Vernacular Schools : Boys 

The Committee also recommended a large extension 
of vernacular schools in which the boys should be taught 
to read and write native and Roman characters. Mr. 
Skinner first made a thorough inspection of all the aided 
schools, and then devoted his energies to getting a system 
of vernacular education into working order. His diffi- 
culties were many ; he had to contend with the apathy, 
and at times the hostility, of the Malays and a lack of 
teachers. In those days education had no attraction 
for a Malay : as the 1887 report puts it, " but Httle 
worldly advantage is gained by their children attending 
school. In fact it is a pecuniary loss to them, when they 
are without the service of their children." In 1872, at 
Raffles Institution, out of an attendance of 386 only 
thirteen were Malays. The Bandarsah schools, where 
the Koran was taught, were naturally opposed to the 
spread of a more liberal education, and the attempt that 
was made in 1881 to incorporate them with elementary 
schools was a failure. There were, as we have related 
already, two vernacular schools already in existence. 
That at Kampong Glam was found to be degenerating 
into a Koran school, and Mr. Skinner had to 


reorganise it. Other schools were opened at either end 
of the town so as to provide faciUties for the children 
in those districts. A school was opened at Tanjong 
Pagar in 1874. " Application was made from Govern- 
ment to the Hon'ble Thomas Scott for a site for a school 
here. The result has been not only the gift of a site for a 
school, but also a further gift of $500 to establish scholar- 
ships in it from James Guthrie, Esq. The thanks of the 
Community as well as of Government are due to these 
gentlemen for this further proof of the interest they take 
in the progress of the Settlement." In comparison 
with this we may quote from the Education Report three 
years later : " The Government's interest in the subject 
since the Committee's report in 1870 has scarcely been 
maintained at that point the Committee seems to have 
anticipated." To encourage the Malays to learn English 
four scholarships of $3 a month, tenable for one year, 
were offered. The holders were to attend the principal 
English school in the Settlement, and Raffles Institution 
allowed them to enter free. In 1874 a fee of one cent 
weekly was charged in the better Government vernacular 
schools. This was discontinued in 1886, as it was found 
that the teachers paid the fee so as to increase their 
capitation allowance. In 1876 there were large attend- 
ances in the schools at the west side of the town — there 
were 1 50 at Telok Blanga and thirty-one at Telok 
Saga (on Pulo Brani). The Maharaja of Johore gave 
his residence at Telok Blanga as a school, and in October 
a high school was opened there with an English and an 
industrial class. " His Highness has always taken much 
interest in education, and has assisted its progress in 
Telok Blanga and the neighbourhood both by the in- 
direct use of his influence and by the direct and liberal 
loan of a large building for the Malay College " — thus 
the report for 1880. To meet the ever-increasing 
demand for teachers, on the ist March 1878 the High 
School was turned into a Malay training college, and 
speedily justified its existence. In consequence of an 
outbreak of beri-beri in 1891, and on the advice of the 


Medical Officer, the college was moved to a site on 
Gemmill 's Hill. Four years later, on the recommendation 
of a retrenchment committee, it was closed down. The 
need of teachers, however, caused it to be reopened in 
1 90 1, this time at Malacca, where it now is. 

The casual attendance of the pupils was also a source 
of trouble. In 1881, " to ensure as far as possible pupils 
remaining longer at school than is the case at present, 
the parents and guardians of all applicants for admission 
to the schools are now required to enter into an agree- 
ment, with a money penalty in the event of a withdrawal 
of a pupil from the school without sufficient reason within 
three years from the date of admission." This arrange- 
ment, however, appears to have lapsed very soon. 

The building of schools went on steadily, and efforts 
were made to disarm hostility by using the schools as 
local dispensaries, chiefly for fever mixture. In 1889 
there were twenty Malay schools in Singapore, with an 
average attendance of 813. As a contrast we might 
take 19 1 6, when there were sixteen boys' schools, with an 
average attendance of 1,068. 

Gradually the Malays were beginning to realise the 
advantages of some education. In 1888 those boys who 
had passed Standard IV in the vernacular were admitted 
free into any Government English school. In 1884 
English up to Standard II was taught in the Kampong 
Glam Malay School. This instruction was discontinued 
for two years, and was restarted in 1 890, this time under 
a European master and up to Standard VII. The 
two branches of the school, the English and Malay, were 
united into one larger school in 1897, called Victoria 
Bridge School. The present school buildings, however, 
were not built until 1906. A surprising advance was 
made in 1 891 , when a night school for adult Malays was 
opened in the Kampong Glam School, with an average 
attendance of forty-two. The next year fifteen more 
night classes wereestablished in Singapore, and continued 
to do excellent work until, in 1 894, " in consequence of a 
faUing off in revenue," they were abolished. 


In 1893 a Committee appointed to enquire into the 
education of Malays in the Colony had no fault to find 
with that given in Singapore, where the results of the 
boys' schools appeared to be quite satisfactory. 

Malay Girls' Schools 
The Malay girls' schools have not fared so well. The 
Malays were opposed to female education, and their 
children only attended in response to pressure. The 
first school was opened atTelok Blanga in 1 884, and could 
show sixty pupils the next year. In 1887 it had to be 
closed, " the attendance having sunk almost to nil." 
The next year it was reopened, but in 1889, " owing to 
the departure of Ungku Anda, who had taken great 
interest in the Telok Blanga Girls' School, and to the 
fact that over twenty families having children in the 
school removed with her to Johore in April last, the 
attendance at the school is less than was the case last 
year." The first official inspection took place in 1886, 
and from that time onwards we find constant references 
to the difficulty of getting children to attend or of finding 
competent Malay mistresses. As late as 1906 it appears 
to be nearly hopeless to get Malays to show " any interest 
in female education." In 1 893 the average attendance of 
Malay girls in Singapore was one hundred ; nine years later 
we find two girls' schools, with an average attendance 
of sixty-five; in 191 6 there were five schools, and an 
average attendance of 108. " Two of those girls' 
schools are non-Government, conducted by the Methodist 
Mission ; the attendance is small, mainly owing to 
religious scruples on the part of the Mohammedan 

English Schools 
In dealing with the teaching of English the Govern- 
ment was greatly helped by the fact that other schools 
had done the pioneer work, and also that with the excep- 
tion of the Malays all races in Singapore were eager to 
avail themselves of any opportunity of learning English. 
The policy adopted was to afford the various nation- 


alities the opportunity of learning elementary English 
through the medium of their own language. The first 
two schools, erected in 1 874, at Cross Street and Kampong 
Glam, were entrusted to the management of the Raffles 
Trustees, who handed them back to the Government after 
a year's trial. By the end of 1 879 there were six Govern- 
ment English schools, three at either end of the town, 
for Malays, Chinese, and Tamils respectively. Of the 
Tamil schools that near Cross Street was incorporated 
with the Cross Street English School in 1885, and the one 
in the Kampong Glam district was closed in 1894, as 
the American Methodist Mission had a similar school in 
the near vicinity. In 1882 the English class attached 
to the Malay College at Telok Blanga was moved to 
Kampong BharUjWhichwas made a general branch school. 
Excellent work was done there, but in 1898 " the atten- 
dance was so poor that the school had to be closed." 
The head-master was transferred to the Kampong Glam 
Chinese School that " was so badly taught." This latter 
school appears in 1907, with an enrolment of thirty-eight, 
and after that date is seen no more. The Cross Street 
School had a happier history. It was first opened in 
1 874, and in ten years' time was teaching to Standard VI, 
then the highest standard. Its numbers grew, and it 
was so well conducted that it was proposed, in 190 1, to 
" establish a Training School in connection with a new 
Cross Street School." The training scheme did not 
materialise, but a new school was erected at Outram 
Road. This was formally opened by the Governor, Sir 
John Anderson, on the 26th February 1906, and is now 
known as Outram Road School. The demand for educa- 
tion was great, and the old Cross Street School had to be 
kept as an infant school preparatory to Outram Road. 
After the necessary structural alterations, it was opened 
on the 1st December of the same year, and by May 1907 
had 370 pupils. In 1914 the school was moved to a far 
healthier position on Pearl's Hill. 

In 1 891 another year was added on to the course for 
the study of English by the creation of a Standard VII, 


and for the first time the Cambridge Local Examinations 
were held in Singapore. Before this the only serious 
secondary work had been the preparation for the Higher 
or Queen's Scholarships, a short account of which must be 

Queen's Scholarships 

" In order to allow promising boys an opportunity 
of completing their studies in England, and to encourage 
a number of boys to remain in school and acquire a really 
useful education," the Government, in 1885, offered two 
Higher Scholarships of ;£2 5o a year, tenable for five years. 
These were to be awarded according to the result of a 
special examination set by the University of Cambridge, 
provided that the candidate had reached a certain 
standard in English. The scholarships were actually 
awarded for the first time in 1 886, as in the previous year 
the prescribed standard in English had not been reached. 
In 1894 and 1895 only one scholarship was offered, " in 
consequence of the falling off of revenue." Between 
1897 and 1902 they were awarded on the result of the 
Cambridge Local Senior Examination, but from 1903 
onwards a special examination was again held, more 
suited to the needs of the Colony, candidates having to 
pass the Cambridge Senior first. From 1908 onwards 
only one was offered : " It is intended to expend the 
money saved by the abolition of one scholarship on the 
improvement of education in other directions." After 
191 1 even this one was abolished also, and the improve- 
ment is still to come. It has been urged that these 
scholarships led to the few brilliant boys being exploited 
to the detriment of the many. For some years these 
scholarships stimulated the only secondary work in 
Singapore, and later a pass in the Senior Examination 
was a necessary preliminary. For those who believe 
that it is detrimental to the formation of character to 
take a boy from the enervating surroundings of Singapore 
and plunge him into the more stimulating atmosphere 
of Western life it is a sufficient answer to refer to the 
careers of Lim Boon Keng (Raffles Institution, 1887), 


Song Ong Siang (Raffles Institution, 1888), and Gnoh Lien 
Tuck (Dr. Wu Lien Tek : Penang Free School, 1896). 

As Mr. Buckley, on page 138 of Vol. I of his Anecdotal 
History, gives a misleading account of the progress of 
these scholarships, and as exaggerated claims to successes 
in the past are often made, a plain statement of fact is 
given herewith. Between 1886 and 191 1 inclusive, 
forty-five scholarships were awarded (only one was given 
in the years 1890, 1895, 1896, 1908-11). Of these, 
Raffles Institution gained 21, Penang Free School gained 
II, St. Xavier's, Penang, gained 6, St. Joseph's Institu- 
tion gained 5, and the Anglo-Chinese School gained 2. 

In 1902 the whole scheme of education in the Colony 
was considered by a Special Commission appointed by 
the Government. Besides the taking over of Raffles 
Institution and certain alterations in the Queen's 
Scholarships, the Commission recommended the starting 
of commercial and science classes at Raffles Institution, 
and that " classes in drawing, geometry, mensuration, 
and the use of tools and simple machines be also started, 
if or when a sufficient number of pupils can be found 
ready to enter them." Scholarships also were suggested 
for boys intending to study industrial, survey, and 
commercial subjects. Local teachers were to be trained, 
the boys in the Normal School that had already been 
sanctioned, and the girls in a training class to be estab- 
lished in connection with Raffles Girls' School. 

Commercial Classes 

It remains briefly to summarise the results of these 
suggestions. At the end of 1900 a grant was sanctioned 
for boys in commercial classes equal to that given for 
pupils in the " special " (i.e. the Cambridge) classes. 
The Anglo-Chinese School and St. Joseph's promptly 
opened classes, and in accordance with the report of 

1902 a commercial class was opened at Raffles. But by 

1903 there were only two such classes in Singapore, at 
Raffles and St. Joseph's, containing twenty boys between 
them. Commercial reform was in the air ; a sub- 


committee of the Chamber of Commerce arranged an 
annual examination for candidates over seventeen 
years of age, and oifered prizes. The first examination, 
with sixteen candidates, was held in 1904, and a second 
the following year. After this, in true Singapore fashion, 
nothing more is heard of these examinations. To induce 
boys to stay longer in the commercial classes, the Govern- 
ment offered, in 1905, two scholarships at Raffles Institu- 
tion. These classes are meant for boys who have passed 
Standard VII ; but, to quote the 1910 report, " very few 
boys remain for the whole two-year course, the majority 
leaving before they have acquired a sufficient knowledge 
of commercial subjects to be of much use to them. 
This is due to the ease with which they can get employ- 
ment, and to the fact that a completion of the course 
does not as yet appear to ensure a larger commencing 
rate of salary at commercial establishments." And 
again, in 191 2, " as an illustration of this, I may mention 
an advertisement which appeared recently for thirty 
boys who had passed the fourth standard." Before the 
business man criticises commercial education, he should 
see that his side of the matter is in order. 

Industrial Education 

" In 1879 five Malay apprentices were attached to 
the Jawi Peranakan Printing Press for the purpose of 
learning printing and book-binding. In 1881 a Malay 
Printing Press was established by His Highness the 
Maharaja of Johore in the Malay College at Telok 
Blanga, and in the revised code of 1879 the subject of 
surveying was included in the list of extra subjects for 
which special passes are given." Thus the report for 
1882 sums up previous efforts to encourage industrial 
education. In this year scholarships were instituted 
for boys who wished to become engineers, surveyors, or 
engine-drivers. They were worth $180 per annum, and 
were tenable for four years. The holders were required 
to apprentice themselves to the Tanjong Pagar Dock 
Company, or some other engineering firm, to learn prac- 


tical engineering. Apprentices were also attached to the 
EngUsh Printing Office. For the first five years only five 
were awarded, but in 1 892 seventeen held scholarships. 
In 1 90 1 evening classes were arranged for the holders, 
but either because the need for them ceased to exist, or 
more probably because the Government failed to adver- 
tise the fact of their existence, they soon died out in 
Singapore. A survey school had been sanctioned, and 
the Commission of 1902 recommended that it be trans- 
ferred to the Raffles Institution, and there its history 
ends. In 1899 a scheme for training engineering and 
surveying apprentices at the Roorkee Engineering 
College in India was drawn up, with the hearty support 
of the Colonial Engineer. Two candidates were selected, 
and all arrangements made, and then the Government 
cancelled the whole scheme on the grounds of expense. 
The history of the Medical School does not come within 
the scope of this paper, but it is worth recording that 
before the opening of the Medical School in 1905 boys 
were occasionally sent to Madras to qualify as assistant 

Training of Teachers 

A constant problem in local education has always been 
the training of local teachers. For a long time each 
school has made its own arrangements. In 1901 we 
read : " The head-mistress of the Raffles Girls' School has 
been very successful in training female local teachers, 
and it was suggested that if the school were taken 
over by the Government, a training school for girls 
should be started there. This was done, and the school 
has more than justified its past reputation. In its other 
ventures the Government has been less fortunate. In 
1903 " an attempt was made during the year to start a 
training class for teachers," but it met with no success. 
A scheme for training pupil teachers was then introduced. 
This failed also, and in 1906 a Normal Class for local 
teachers was substituted. It is difficult to praise either 
the way in which the class is run or the results. In 


1916, out of 230 junior teachers in Singapore, 137 were 
qualified at this Normal Class that is held out of school 
hours, sixty were attending the class, and thirty-three 
had no qualifications whatsoever. There are rumours, 
however, that the Government are contemplating a 
proper Training College. 

The Reformatory 

To provide juvenile vagrants " with the possibility 
of earning an honest living on their discharge," a 
Reformatory was opened in February 1901 at Bukit 
Timah. With this work must be associated the name 
of Mr. J. B. Elcum, who for many years was closely 
connected with the Education Department. He felt 
that " many of these boys have hitherto had no chance 
whatever of escaping a life of crime," and tried to make 
the place a reformatory and not a prison for juvenile 
offenders. Two and a half hours a day were devoted to 
school work and five to work at some trade. At the 
end of 1905 the present buildings were opened. In 
1906 the boys were put to work on their own vegetable 
gardens outside the wall, and in 1910 they planted two 
and a half acres of land with rubber, the sale of which 
helps towards the upkeep of the establishment. The 
value of this Reformatory is proved by the fact that Mr. 
Prior, the Superintendent, constantly hears from his 
old pupils, who have grateful recollections of the good 
training that they received. 

Such, then, is the history of education in Singapore for 
the past hundred years. Some indication of its future 
course may be gathered from the references to a College 
that are current at this time. Mr. Hullett suggested 
this in 1888 ; it was hinted at by the Inspector of Schools 
in 1 890. It remains for the Government to decide even 
at the eleventh hour upon a policy. The time for 
disconnected efforts is past ; efficiency demands unity 
of control. The function of a government is to govern 
and to lead the way. If, as Raffles wrote, " education 
affords the only means of effecting any considerable 


amelioration of expanding the powers of the human 
mind," it is now high time for the Government to take 
control of the destinies of the children committed to its 
care. Others have done the pioneer work, and while 
gratefully acknowledging their labours, the Government 
should take over the burden that it is more fitted to 
bear. So, and not otherwise, will Singapore become, 
as Raffles wished, the centre not only of commerce and 
its luxuries, but of refinement and the liberal arts. 

Mr. R. W. Hullett 
As a trainer of scholarship winners, Mr. Hullett, the 
former Principal of Raffles Institution, was no less 
successful than he was in shaping the destiny of the 
many Straits boys who passed through the school. 
Richmond William Hullett, M.A., of Trinity College, 
Cambridge, took up the appointment of Principal of 
Raffles Institution in June 1871, when the school was 
not under Government. He seems to have entered 
keenly into the life of Singapore, for in the late 'Seventies 
he owned a griffin, and was found on the committees of 
several bodies then having charge of the educational 
work of Singapore. From August 1874 to April 1876 he 
acted as Inspector of Schools, in addition to his duties 
at Raffles. From April 1903 to September 1906, the 
concluding te^m of his thirty years' work, though 
nominally Principal of Raffles, he discharged the duties 
of Director of Public Instruction, S.S. He was devoted 
to his work, and sought recreation in botany and garden- 
ing, wielding the changkol (native hoe) for exercise, and 
for many years served on the Committee of the Botanical 
Gardens. Thirty years' strenuous service is unique in 
the history of education in the Colony, and his influence 
can hardly be over-estimated, for he inspired masters 
and pupils alike with high traditions of " the School." 
A Hullett Scholarship, established by his old pupils, 
perpetuates his memory in the Institution, and when he 
died, in England, in November 1914, no one mourned 
his death more than his old pupils. 



By Dr. Gilbert E. Brooke 

" Yes, the old lost stars wheel back, dear lass, 
That blaze in the velvet blue. 

They're all old friends on the old trail, our own trail, the out-trail. 
They're God's own guides on the Long Trail — the trail that is always 

To the general public the records of atmospherical and 
astronomical observations are usually voted a weariness 
to the flesh. Meteorology, as far as most people are 
concerned, consists in tapping an aneroid barometer to 
see if the weather is going to improve, or gazing at a 
jejune thermometer with languid interest after a breath- 
less night. 

It is not intended in this chapter to weary the reader 
with endless columns of figures, but rather to put before 
him a short sketch of the progress made during the 
century, and a brief record of local work in meteorological 
and allied subjects. For the benefit of the searcher 
after detail, however, three short tables are appended. 

Soon after the occupation of Singapore the need was 
felt for a survey of the coast and island. This was 
carried out by Captain Franklin, of the Quartermaster- 
General's Department, being completed in 1822, and the 
chart was used by Mr. Crawfurd when he went round 
the island, with Mr. Forrester and Lieutenant Jackson, 
to take formal possession after the Treaty of the 2nd 
August 1824. In this chart Blakan Mati was called by 
its early name, " Pulo Panjang " ; and P. Brani, " Pulo 
Ayer Brani." The signal flagstaff of the station was 



on the little island, Pulo Tambakul, or Goa Island (which 
is now known as Peak Island), and was moved thence to 
St. John's Island in February 1823. The charted 
soundings were not very accurate, and but little was 
known about local tides ; so much so, that in 1833 orders 
came from Bombay to carry out tidal observations. 
They were begun in the following year, but the establish- 
ment allowed was very insufficient. 

I n 1 840 Second-Lieutenant Charles Morgan Elliot , of the 
Madras Engineers, a younger brother of Sir Henry Myers 
Elliot, Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, 
was sent to Singapore to establish a " magnetic observa- 
tory." He reported his arrival on the 12th September, 
and by the end of the month had selected a suitable site 
one and a half miles from town, " beyond the company's 
grazing ground . ' ' The Observatory had wooden walls and 
an attap roof, but the floor and pedestals were of granite. 
It was built in a bend of the river just to the left of the 
approach to Kallang Bridge, and his house was on the 
opposite side of the road. 

When the place was in order, the local Government 
abolished the old tide-reading establishment, and trans- 
ferred the duty to Lieutenant Elliot, who started a 
proper tide-gauge in January 1841, and began regular 
observations of rainfall and temperature at the same 
time. The four and a half years during which this 
capable young officer was stationed in Singapore were 
full of busy incidents. Not six months had elapsed 
before his health began to give way, and he went on a 
two months' trip to Batavia. Unfortunately he had 
forgotten that the Company stood in loco parentis to the 
various residents in its dominions, and he was in disgrace 
when he returned for having gone without leave ! 

The following year saw him in temporary charge of 
convicts, and also in charge of public buildings as 
Inspecting Engineer. He also went for a month to Rajah 
Brooke, in Sarawak, to make magnetic observations. 
After leaving Singapore, he spent some time continuing 
his observations in different parts of the Archipelago, 


and went to England, where he published his results in 
the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, of 
which Society he was made a Fellow. He later returned 
to the East, where he died in 1852. 

Thus ended the first series of scientific observations, 
after which there was a long gap, until the efforts of Mr. 
Vaughan in 1862. Mr. Jonas Daniel Vaughan was 
originally a midshipman in the E.I. Co.'s steam frigate 
Tenasserim, and attracted the attention of Colonel 
Butterworth in 1842. In consequence, he was trans- 
ferred to the Straits station, where he did some pirate 
hunting in the Phlegethon and Nemesis. This versatile 
officer was then appointed Superintendent of Police at 
Penang, from which place he was transferred to Singa- 
pore as Master Attendant in 1856. From 1 861 to 1869 he 
was Police Magistrate and Assistant Resident Councillor, 
and then went on furlough to England, where he was 
called to the Bar from the Middle Temple, and acted 
for a short time as a Puisne Judge in Singapore. Not 
only was he a good musician and amateur actor, but he 
found time for a considerable amount of literary work 
and papers on local subjects. 

The local rainfall and temperature observations which 
he made between 1862 and 1866 have been continued 
to the present day, first by Mr. Arthur Knight, and then 
(with wind, humidity, etc.) by the Medical Department 
since 1869. These records have been taken by the 
Assistant Surgeons, a valuable work. One of them, 
Mr. Leicester, went to Calcutta in November 1881 to 
learn the work of a meteorological observer, and returned 
in January 1882. No note has been taken of other 
meteorological phenomena, such as earthquakes, etc. 
Fortunately Singapore lies well outside the active 
volcanic belt. Earthquakes — of which there have been 
examples in 1873, 1874, 1892, 1896, and 1907 — seldom 
amount to mcJre than a distinctly perceptible tremor. 

Of thunderstorms Singapore has not been without its 
fair share, and the damage done by lightning has been 
considerable, though in recent years the frequency and 


severity of the storms seem to have distinctly diminished. 
In August 184s the steeple of the first St. Andrew's 
Church was. struck by lightning, and one of the tablets 
near the altar was splintered. It was again struck in 
April 1849, when the punkah and walls were badly 
damaged, but fortunately the church was empty at the 
time. In March 1850 the Fort Canning flagstaff was 
splintered ; and in May of the following year the Mount 
Faber staff suffered the same fate ! Twenty-five years 
later the stone beacon at Sultan Shoal was destroyed ; 
and, coming to more recent times, the spire of the present 
St. Andrew's Cathedral was struck in 1891. 

Hydrographic surveys have been made occasionally 
since the early one of 1822, previously mentioned. The 
last survey of the century was carried out in 1909 by 
H.M. Surveying Sloop Waterwitch (at one time a yacht 
belonging to Mrs. Langtry). The Commission included 
Lieutenant and Commander H. P. Douglas (afterwards of 
the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty), assisted 
by Lieutenants J. S. Harris, J. S. Schafer, F. E. B. Hasel- 
foot, and C. H. Knowles. Lieutenant Schafer (eldest son 
of the great physiologist. Professor Schafer), who after- 
wards left the Navy for rubber-estate work in the Feder- 
ated Malay States, rejoined the Service at the out- 
break of the Great War, and his valuable life was 
cut short by the explosion of a mine in the North 
Sea. The Waterwitch finished her naval career by being 
accidentally rammed by the Governor's yacht when 
lying at anchor in Singapore Roads. She was afterwards 
raised, repaired, and sold. 

This chapter would not be complete without reference 
to solar or sidereal observations and time-ball work. 

The first move that seems to have been made in this 
direction was by a Captain William C. Leisk, the Surveyor 
of Shipping to the Insurance Offices, who wrote to the 
Government in July 1847 suggesting that a time-ball 
should be fixed on the Fort Canning staff for the use of 
shipping. Two years later the desired permission was 
obtained, and Captain Leisk had a ball dropped from 


the yard-arm between the hours of nine and ten a.m. 
daily (weather permitting), notice of the time being 
given on the previous day. How long this time-ball 
continued in operation it is impossible to say ; but Ellis, 
the Master Attendant, in his annual reports of 1883 and 
1 884, pointed out that an observatory and time-ball were 
badly needed, and that he had recommended them for the 
previous ten years. He had an astronomical timepiece in 
his office, regulated by solar observations, and the noon- 
gun at Fort Canning got the time twice a week. 

The result of the Master Attendant having thus started 
the ball rolling was that Mr. W. H . M. Christie, the Astron- 
omer Royal, made suggestions in 1889 on the require- 
ments of the new Observatory, which was finally built 
on the old Fort Fullerton site at the mouth of the river — 
lat. 1° 17' 14" N. ; long. 103° 51' 16" E. A 3 -inch reversing 
transit telescope, by Troughton and Simms, was duly 
installed ; and two chronometers — a sidereal and a mean 
solar — by V. Kullberg, were ready about 1893. 

The time-ball, at first intended for Blakan Mati, was 
erected at Pulo Brani, and was working until 1905. 
Then began the present phase of the history of the Ob- 
servatory. Mr. R. S. Fry, who was in charge of the 
Observatory for so many years, reported in September 
1903 that the accuracy of the standard clocks was being 
impaired by vibration from theneighbouring reclamation, 
and he suggested that the Observatory should be moved 
to Mount Faber and the time-ball also taken there 
from Pulo Brani. The suggestion was acted upon, and 
the Observatory was built on Mount Faber, in lat. 
1° 16' 8" N., long. 103° 49' 24" E. 

On the 25th April 1905 the instruments were moved 
from Fort Fullerton to their new home, and after a 
month's testing and adjusting, came into use on the 
ist June 1905. 

Standard time of the 105° E. meridian (i.e. seven hours 
ahead of Greenwich mean time) was adopted in the 
Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States on that 
date, and is still in use. 



Anecdotal History of Singapore, C. B. Buckley, 1902. 

Notices of the Indian Archipelago, J. H. Moor, Singapore, 1837. 

Early Colonial Records, vols. 374, 379, 381, 383, 386, 397, 402, 

477, 541, and 518. 
Singapore Directories (various early). 

Marine Department Annual Reports, 1883, 1884, and 1885. 
Medical Department Annual Reports and Meteorological Returns. 
Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. 7 

(June 1881) ; No. 12 (December 1883). 
Journal Indian Archipelago, vol. 11, 848. 

Notes on the Meteorological Tables 

The observations between 1820 and 1825 were made 
in an attap shed on the present Fort Canning Hill, 
chiefly by Lieutenant-Colonel Farquhar. Those from 
1 841 to 1 845 were made by Lieutenant Elliot in his obser- 
vatory near Kallang Bridge. 

A continued series of observations began on the ist 
January 1 869, under the new Colonial Office regime, and 
are complete to the present day. The observations from 
1869 to 1873 inclusive were made at the old Convict Gaol 
Hospital, which was on the now vacant ground adjoining 
theS.V.L headquarters, and opposite the Museum, where 
the bridge to Bencoolen Street is situated. From 1874 
onwards the observations have been made at Kandang 
Kerbau. Many unofficial observers have rendered help 
in the past, as, for instance, the late Mr. Arthur Knight, 
who kept a continuous record of the rainfall for many 

In analysing these tables, several features are very 
prominent. December and January are consistently the 
wettest months of the year ; the only other month 
approaching them is November. February and March 
are the two driest months. 

The wettest year that Singapore has had was in 191 3, 
when the total rainfall reached 13 5*92 inches. The 
driest year was 1877, when only 58' 3 7 inches were 
recorded. The lowest recorded temperature seems to be 
62° F., taken on the grass on the 27th July 1882. 




































































































































84 63 


1 , 








































































































2919 -75mi. 






2490- 5 mm 



n 1918 1 







2794 S 

2667 i 











Annual Rainfall at Singapore 

S.W. Monsoon 

- 1 

*!.£. Mousoon 




















































































































Monthly Rainfall Distribution in Singapore 

Driest Month = o. Wettest Month = • . 


Mean Annual Mean 
Minimum Mean Maximum 

























1S69 1 


















1874 1 














































































• \ 

















1904 1 























































Shade Temperature at Singapore 


The monsoons are an interesting subject. Theweather- 
year may be considered as beginning in October, which 
is a month of featureless rainfall and transitional winds 
from all quarters, which show a slight preponderance of 
southerly elementfromthe expiringSouth-West Monsoon. 
The North-East Monsoon then begins in November, and 
continues from the north-east for five months to the end 
of March. This is the dominant monsoon of Singapore, 
and is characterised at its commencement by producing 
the three wettest months in the year, and closes with the 
two driest months. The type is also dominant, for 
any element other than north-east is almost entirely 
absent during the whole five months. 

At the close of this monsoon another transitional 
month is found — April — during which the winds are 
variable and distributed. Both the transitional months 
of April and October are frequently characterised by the 
explosive gales known as " Sumatras," and by thunder- 
storms. - 

The five months from May to September inclusive will 
be seen to constitute what is calle