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Full text of "An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, from the ..., Volume 2"

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An anecdotal history of old times in 
Singapore, from the foundation of the 

Charles Burton Buckley 


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M iltiecdotal Ristorp 
or Old Ciitics . . 
In Singapore . . . 

CWitb Portraits and Illustrations) 


The Foundation of the Settlement under the Honourable the 
East India Company, on February 6th, 1819, 


Transfer to the Colonial Office as part of the Colonial 
Possessions of the Crown on April ist, 1867, 


c:harles burton pijcki fy 

In Two Volumes-Volume II. . 

[|IU rights xntxbth.] 

Singapore : 
Printed by Fraser & Neave, Limited. 



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ALMOST every issue of the weekly paper contained accounts of 
several deaths by tigers, and the "Tiger Club" was frequently 
mentioned. The Club killed a large one three miles from town on 
a gambier plantation about New Year's day. A week after, one of 
the Native Infantry was killed by a tiger, and the party went out 
and wounded it, but it escaped in the thick jungle. A day or two 
after, they disturbed another tiger and two cubs. The Tiger Club 
j^iive a reward of $100 to a Chinaman who caught a tiger in a pit 
where it was shot. Two men in the plantation had been killed by 

(Jang robberies were very frequent in the town, large gangs of 
Chinese attacking shops. The following is an account of such rob- 
beries in one paper, and it is only one of many : — " On the night of 
the 17th January, a most daring robbery was perpetrated in the town 
by a gang of Chinese. About 10 o'clock a band of between 60 and 
60 Chinese armed with muskets, pistols, swords, spears and shields 
attacked the shop of a money-changer named Mohamed Abdulkader, 
on Boat Quay. He was sleeping in the verandah outside his shop 
which was locked, and was awakened by the Chinese beating some 
ratiau shields; then they lighted three or four paper matches and 
broke open the shop, which they immediately plundered. The robbers 
wounded two Klings near the shop, and then carried away five bags of 
money and gold. One of the constables, who (a European, presum- 
ably) was going his round with a peon at the time, came on the 
Chinese while plundering the shop. They immediately knocked the 
peon down, and fired several blank cartridges at the constable, who, 
thereupon went to procure assistance, but by the time he succeeded 
in collecting the guardians of the night and returned to the spot, the 
robbers could not be overtaken. 

*' Another robbery took place about two o'clock on the morning of 
the 23rd January. About forty Chinese attacked the house of a Kling 
writer namod Andry Narrain (adjoining the Hindoo Temple) which they 
broke open, and about ten of them armed with swords and axes en- 
tered the room where the owner was, and, whilst some by threatening 
signs kept him quiet, others broke open three boxes from which they 
took $130. and 3^ buncals of gold, which they carried off. One of the 
inmates of the house was severely wounded on the head and body. 
The robbers had their faces blackened so that they could not be identi- 
fied, and they preserved a strict silence. They were two or three 
peons on the spot, but though they sprung their rattles, no efficient 
force came till after the robbers had gone away.'' 


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408 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The first Chinese Hospital or Poor House had been built from the 
proceeds of the Government Pork Farm, whicli had been imposed for 
that express purpose. The building was finished in 1834, but the Govern- 
ment used it as a Convict Jail, because the Convict lines, tlwat had 
been commenced before the Poor House, were not finished, and not 
sufficiently large to contain all the convicts ; and the poor were put 
in an attap bungalow run up for the occasion, to which exception 
was made. Complaints were also made of the number of sick Chinese 
who came from the plantations in Rhio and other Dutch places, to 
take advantage of the hospital, which was not intended for them. 

This year saw the comrnen cement of the present Tan Took Seng's 
Hospital. The Freti Press of the year wrote of it thus, beginning on 
the 25th January : — " We are glad to learn that there is now every 
chance of a suitable hospital for the reception of diseased and aged 
Chinese paupers being erected, and what is still more gratifying, chiefly 
through the means of the Chinese themselves. C-ham Chan Sang, u 
Chinese merchant, who died a few days as^o, has by his will bequeathed 
$2,000 to the hospital, and we understand that a short time ago another 
wealthy Chinese merchant, Tan Tock Seng, presented $5,000 towards 
this object. We have no doubt that we shall hear of their example being 
generally followed by their fellow-countrymen in the Settlement, so 
that sufficient funds will speedil^y be obtained. A number of diseased 
Chinese, lepers and others, frequent almost every street in town, 
presenting a spectacle which is rarely to be met with, even in towns 
under a pagan Gt»vernment, and which is truly disgraceful in a 
civilised and Christian country, especially one under the government 
of Enjjlishmen. 

" A public meeting of the inhabitants was held on Saturday last to 
take into consideration a letter which had been received by the Governor 
from the Bengal Government, 'i'his letter is an answer to one from 
the Governor, enclosing the draft of an Act for the suppression of 
mendicity and loathsome exposure at Singapore, and relative to the 
erection of the hospital, for which purpose Tan Tock Seng had offered 
$5,000. The Deputy-Governor seems to have got the idea that it is 
merely to please the fastidious 'M^]uropean, and quasi Europeans," that 
the hospital is to be erected, and he therefore thinks that the Chinese, 
who are almost the only parties who would be benefited by the hospital, 
ought not to be made to pay for its support, but that the whole 
community ought to be taxed for it. We believe that the Chinese 
would have had no objection that the funds required should be 
raised by a pork farm, and this tax would have pressed very lightly 
upon them. 

"The monthly expenditure of the hospital mij^ht, we understand, be 
calculated at from 5450 to SoOO per month, say $6,000 per annum. This 
sum the Bengal Government seem to think must be raised by means of a 
new tax or r»ite, and it was one of the objects of the meeting to show that 
snch a measure would be unnecessary. From official documents it was 
shewn that there existed a large surplus both on the general revenue 
and in the Assessment fund, and it appeared to the meeting that, 
before a new tax was imposed upon the inhabitants, the fnnds arising 
from those already existing ought to be exhausted. 


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1844 409 

"The recommendation of the meeting that the proposed Pauper 
dospital and the European Seamen's Hospital should be under one roof 
would be advantageotis in many ways. We sincerely trust that nothing 
may happen to mar or hinder establishment of the hospital. It has 
long been required; and, so far back as 1829, called from the Grand 
Jury a very strong representation." 

ReaoLUTioNS of a Public Meeting held at Singapore, on Saturday, 

THE 3rd February, 1844. 

Tan Took Seng in the Chair. 

A letter from the Under Secretary to the Government of Bengal 
to Colonel Butterworth, c.b., Governor to Prince of Wales' Island, 
Sini^pore and Malacca, No. 1244, dated at Fort William, 18th December, 
1843, having been read by the Chairman — 

1st. It was proposed by B. J. Gilman,- seconded by Tan Kim Seng, 
and unanimously carried : — That it appears to this meeting that the 
Government of Bengal is under a misconception in supposing that the 
.proposed erection of a Pauper Hospital for the reception of the Chinese is 
to " please the European and quasi European/' portion of the inhabitants, 
and that the Chinese are indifferent on the subject : that on the contrary 
it is the opinion of this meeting that the Chinese are, as a body, most 
anxions that the same should be carried into effect. 

2nd. It was proposed by C. Spottiswoode, seconded by T. 0. Crane, 
and unanimously carried : — That it is the opinion of this meeting that 
the erection of a Pauper Hospital is absolutely necessary, and that the 
funds for the support of the same should be provided from the 
General Revenues of the island. 

3rd. Proposed by W. Napier, seconded by Syed Omar and 
unanimously carried: — That it is the opinion of this meeting, that, 
with • reference to the last published Official Statement of the Revenue 
and Expenditure of this island, any further tax for the purpose of 
supporting a Pauper Hospital is unnecessary. 

4th. Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by M. P. Davidson, 
and unanimously carried : — ^That on its being decided that a Pauper 
Hospital be built, it is desirable that the Executive Government do 
take measure for the prevention of the importation of sick paupers 
into the island. 

5th. Proposed by C. A. Dyce, seconded by J. Guthrie and 
unanimously carried : — That funds having been provided for the 
erection of a European Hospital, it is the opinion of this meeting 
that it would be expedient and desirable to unite the proposed Pauper 
and European Hospitals under one roof, as in that event the funds 
would be amply sufficient to erect a large, convenient, and sightly 
building, divided into distinct establishments, for Europeans, Chinese, 
and other Natives of Asia. 

6th. Proposed by W. R. George, seconded by W. H. Read, and 
unanimously carried:— That the proceedings of this meeting be forwarded 
to the Hon'ble the Governor, with a request that the local Government 
will afford their countenance and support to the same. 

7th. Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by T. Smith and 
carried unanimously: — That a petition to the Supreme Government 


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410 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

embodying the foregoing resolutions be drawn up in English and 
Chinese, and signed by the inhabitants, and that it be thereafter 
sent to the Honourable the Governor for transmission to Bengal." 

On Monday morning, the 25th July, 1844, the foundation stone of the 
new Pauper Hospital at PearPs Hill was laid in the presence of the Hon'ble 
Thomas Church, Resident Councillor, Tan Tock Seng, by whose 
munificence the fundtj for the building had been supplied, and a 
number of other gentlemen. A brans plate was deposited beneath 
the foundation stone, on which was engraved the following inscrip- 
tion : — 

The Foundation Stone 


The Chinese Pauper Hospital 


was laid on the XXVth May, MDCCCXLIV, 

during the Government of 

The Hon'ble Colonel W. J. Butterworth, c.b.. 

Governor of Prince of Wales' Island, Singapore 

and Malacca. 

The Hon ble T. Church, Esquire, 

being Resident Councillor at Singapore. 

The funds for the erection of this building were 

furnished by the humane liberality of 

Tan Tock Seng, Esq.. J.P., 

Chinese Merchant in Singapore. 

It was the wish of several brethren of the Mvstic craft that 
the ceremony of layiu*^ the foundation of the building, which was to 
be appropriated to those purposes of charity and benevolence which 
are recognised by Masons as among the fundamental articles of 'their 
constitution, should be performed with Masonic honours, but it was 
unfortunately found to be too late to make the necessary arrange- 

The foundation stone of the European Seamen's Hospital was 
also laid at this time on the same hill. The two buildings, still 
standing, were designed by Mr J. T. Thomson, the Government 
Surveyor, and were said to be very handsome edifices, adding much 
to the appearance of the town. The Government had been slow to 
recognize the necessity for providing a hospital, and as the first 
introduction of anything like one was due to private enterprise, it was 
not thought to be astonishing that it was left to generous minded 
individuals to do what they could to alleviate the necessities of the sick 

As the Chinese who flocked into the Settlement were mostly of 
a poor class, it followed as a matter of necessity that some of them 
would at some time or other be thrown on the charity of the public. 
Men in failing health, exposed to all the vicissitudes of the climate, 
soon became helpless and unable to earn their living; while others, 
from neglect of superficial scratches or slight wounds, soon suffered 
by their abrasions becoming sloughing ulcers, and they became street 
mendicants, to the annoyance of the general public. On this account 


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1844. 411 

Sen^, a generous-hearted and philanthropic Chinese geiitle- 
5 the hospital at his own expense, and his son Tan Kim 

Tan Tock 
man, built 

Chin^ added to its accommodation. 'J'he Government provided only 
medicines and medical attend Hnce. I'he dieting whs met by contribu- 
tions and subscriptions from all classes of society. The management of 
the financial department whs in the hands of a Conmiittee, Hoo Ah 
Kay, Whampoa, being the Treasurer, and Seah Eu Chin looking after 
the food supply. 

The paper in November, 1852, contained the following paragraph 
about the Pauper Hospital: — ''For some time past the patients admitted 
into Tan Tock Seng^s Hospital liave been far more numerous tlian 
there are any means of accommodating, and the consequence has been 
a great overcrowding, so that the diseases of the patients instead 
of being alleviated liave in fact been aggravated by their reception 
into the Hospital. The Committee of management have for some time 
past been fully alive to the inadequacy of the accommodation and 
most anxious for its increase, and indeed had procured plans from 
Mr. Thomson, the Architect of the original building, for its 
enlargement, but the want of funds has hitherto prevented them from 
making the additions required. Under these circumstafices, some of the 
principal Chinese residents met the Officiating Governor yesterday, for 
the purpose of considering what steps should be taken ; when the 
difficulty was solved by Tan Kim Ching, the son of the founder 
of the Hospital, offering to defray the entire cost of the additions, 
estimated at two thousands dollars, provided Mr. Thomson's plan 
was adopted. This act of liberality on the part of Tan Kim Ching 
thus removes the main difficulty, and his generous example has been 
followed by others of his countrymen increasing the monthly subscrip- 
tions, so as to allow of the benefits of the Hospital being materially 
extended. The monthly income of tlie Hospital, however, will still 
he inadequate to meet its requirements, and we therefore trust many 
others will be induced to contribute towards its maintenance and 
thus iissist in conferring a great boon on their helpless fellow-creatures 
who must otherwise be left to perish in their misery/* 

Here (wrote Dr. Rowell in 1885) one would wish to inscribe in 
letters of gold not only the names of the Founder, his son, and of the 
Treasurer and Purveyor as given above, but, chief of all, of that early 
Committee of management, the names of Colonel Macpherson, Resident 
Councillor, Thos. Dunman, Commissioner of Police, and Mr. R. C. 
Woods; not that there were not others, but these were the most 
prominent. But for them, the Poor Fund would have dwindled away 
as a lump of ice in the sun at a very early stage of its existence, as 
it did when they passed away from the scene of their .labours. Mr. 
Dunman knew how to put the " screw *' on in the shajie of "fees for 
processions/' "fees for permission to carry fowling pieces on sporting 
expeditions/* in fact, he was a sturdy beggar for helpless beggars, and 
when he enterrd the doors of Chinese Towkays with a subscription 
paper, it was not for nothing; he was not to be refused. In his 
private diary are frequent entries such as "Received through Inspector 
Cox from the pawnbrokers' shops a subscription of $60 to Tan Tock 
Seng's Hospital/' 


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412 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The following inscription was engraved on stone and fixed at 
the hospital gate : — 




WAS BUILT A.D. 1844. 










This tablet is erected by the Committee of Management, 1854. 
The paper in September, 1857, contained the following passacres 
in an article about the hospitals: — "The Indian Government (on 
account of the expenses of the Mutiny) have ordered all public 
works, not absolutely necessary, to be stopped. We hope this will 
prevent the hospitals being scattered as proposed at distances apart 
from each other, so that more medical officers would be necessary. 
The European Hospital, it is said, is to be erected on the fiace 
Course, while Tan Tock Seng's Hospital is to be situated on the 
jjround lately bought by Government on Balestier's plantation. In 
the case of Balestier^s plantation is it very well ascertained that the 
locality is perfectly salubrious ? [Quite prophetic words.] If the 
Government is quite determined that the Hospitals shall be removed 
from their present positions [Pearl's Hill], we would suggest that the 
Singapore Institution [Raffles] and the ground attached to it would 
be much better adapted for Hospitals thjin the places at present 
intended. It is easy of access from the harbour and the town, and 
sufficient room for both; the Trustees would probably be willing to 
listen to a proposal to transfer the schools to another site, and to 
concur in requesting the Le*rislature to give the requisite power to do so.*' 

This arose from the buildings for the Hospital on Pearl's Hill 
being wanted after the Mutiny for military purposes and, together 
with the European Seamen's Hospital, being converted into the present 
Ordnance and Commissariat Offices. The present Chinese Hospital was 
then built on a swamp on Balestier plain, bordering on Serangoon road, 
which was given for the purpose by Government, in place of that 
erected by Tan Tock Seng, and the tablet was removed to the new 
hospital, were it remains. 

The new Government building was much larger than the building 
at Pearl's Hill. As the Settlement grew larger and richer, the poor 
also increased. Three blocks of brick buildings forming three sides of 
a square were put up for the sick, while the fourth side facing the 
road was for the adminstrative requirements. Some have thought 
that the building on Serangoon road was at first intended for Indian 
troops, and never occupied by them. But it seems more likely, so 


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1844. 413 

far as can be gathered from old papers, that they were built 
specially for the hospital. Hut even these buildings soon proved 
insufficient; there were some 400 paupers crowed into them in a 
very short time after they were occupied. 

Looking at the hospital, at the present time, it is impossible to 
realise what it was then. Dr. Rose, the then Head of the medical 
department, never took a strangei visiting Singapore near the place. 
He felt thoroughly ashamed of it. His representations to remove 
difficulties in the way, to improve the state of the wards, their floors, 
their drains, to relieve their overcrowded state, were all of little avail. 
The low ground prevented proper drainage. The food supply was 
limited, a fixed quantity without reference to the numbers in hospital 
was issued daily ; the fund could not do otherwise, so that when the 
hospital population was large, the share failing to each was propor- 
tionately small. Many a lime did good old Mr. Dunman send for them 
a hand-cart load of slaughtered fighting cocks picked up in a raid on 
cock-fighters. Tan Kim Seng sent them once a year (Chinese New 
Year) a ration of pork and a few cents each. The average death 
rate was about twd a day. 

Notwithstanding the frequent urgent representations by those who 
were in charge, the then Government took no steps to alter or improve 
its condition. In fact, the time were bad, for the *' Transfer '^ was 
being agitated. The Government of India did not care to. interest 
themselves in this question, but left it for the new Government to settle; 
and even when the transfer took place, the first Governor was un- 
popular, and the expenditure incurred for Imperial purposes was too 
large to allow the question of comfort and better accommodation 
for paupers to be consideied. Dr. Randell was the first to take 
the bull by the horns. He was at that time Acting Assistant Colonial 
Surgeon, and finding no hopes of anything likely to be done to improve 
the hospital, he took it upon himself to calculate what number could 
be kept there with the likelihood of deriving benefit by treatment, 
allotting what he considered the least safe superficial space for each 
patient. Then, keeping those who were most in need of treatment, he 
tamed all the others out, and further admissions were regulated, either 
by the urgency of the case, or by vacancies in tlie wards. 

The large number of mendicants thus thrown on the public, forced 
the Government to take the first steps toward increasing the accommoda- 
tion, and the erection of a ward outside the hospital enclosure was 
decided on. Commission after commission was nominated to consider 
what was to be done, and a poof rate was proposed, as the PooV Fund 
was gradually disappearing. 

As times became better, and the revenues increased, ward after 
ward was put up, and Mr. Tan Beng Swee built a tile-roofed ward 
at his own expense; eventually the Government granted votes for the 
maintenance of the hospital on a more liberal basis. Afterwards under 
the careful management of Dr. Rowell, P.C.M.O., it became a well 
organised hospital and a pride to the Settlement. The whole place 
w^as a model of a poor-house and Infirmary combined. 

The Lepers, who were located in a miserable, dirty shed, had a 
decent place in a detached ward, and from time to time were sent to 


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414 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

the Leper Asylum at Palau Jerajak at Penang. On the whole, too 
much praise cannot be accorded to all those who helped to bring about 
the happy change, and it was said in 1884 that it had become as much 
a contrast to what it was in 1862, as a palace is to a pig-sty. 

But statistics have again and again proved that the removal from 
the high airy site on PearFs Hill to the water-logged ground on 
Serangoon Road has been the cause of serious and frequently fatal ill- 
ness among the patients. From time to time some of the Committee 
have tried to find a scheme to- move the hospital to some healthy site, and 
the matter came to a head about 1898 when the disease of beri-beri 
took a hold of the place and caused very fatal consequences. Again a 
determined efFort was made to induce the Groveninient to face the evil, 
and to sell the prf»sent site and rebuild the hospital elsewhere. The matter 
was referred to Jjondon, and an Httempt is now being made, in 19n2, 
to overcome the evil by the erection of a novel kind of experimental 
but very expensive ward, with an iion frame, and sides of very perish- 
able material that can be quickly removed and burnt. The fact will 
remain to the end of lime, or of the present hospital, that the Govern- 
ment took over the original building of Tan Took Seng, for a purpose 
that might certainly have been accomplished equally well in another spot, 
and allowed the hospital to remain in a swamp, which should have been 
the last place to be chosen for the purpose. By some strange fatality, 
the opinion of the then Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Rose, was over- 
ruled in selecting the site, and the result has been most unfortunate. 
Statistics shewed clearly that the germs of disease were so rampant in 
the hospital, that those who came in for treatment for one complaint 
died in the hospital from another disease they contracted in it. 

Now to take the case of the European Seainen^s hospitrtl. For a 
long while after the occupation of Sintrapore, there was no Govern- 
ment Hospital for the ^ick seamen of vessels lying in the harbour. 
The only hospital on shore for sick seamen then, was (me established 
by Dr. Martin, situated where the Singapore Dispensary now stands in 
the Square. It was started a few years before 1840, in which year 
Dr. Robert Little arrived and joined Dr. Martin. The charge was J§1 
a day, but when the Government opened a hospital and charged one 
rupee (45 cents) the private hospital was driven out of the field; and 
as soon as it was quite discontinued, the Government charged one 

The Government opened a place as the "European Seamen's 
Hospital." Accounts are very confusing as to the locality of the first 
hospitaJ for this need, but it was afterwards built on Pearl's Hill at 
the same time as Tan Tock Seng's Hospital. There it remained till 
the Indian Mutiny occurred, and the construction of Fort Canning was 
decided cm. Temporary accommodation was then found in Armenian 
Street for the Piuropean Seamen's Hospital, and finally, about 1861, the 
new buildings in Bukit Timah Koad were occupied. 

Referring to the time when the authorities were looking for 
European barracks, and it was proposed to place them in Balestier 
road, on the plateau near where the Quarantine Camp now stands, but 
which was i^ejected because of the vicinity of the swampy race-course 
(m one side and the low land of Balestier's plantation on the other, 


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1844. 415 

Dr. Rose once remarked that though the site was condemned for the 
soldiers, it seemed to be thought good enough for the sick, for they 
placed a hospital on each of the objectionable grounds, viz,, ihe Seamen's 
Hospital on the Race Course, and the new Pauper Hospital on Bales- 
tier plain. And, as if to make matters worse, a Lunatic Asylum was 
placed on one side of the hospital, while on tlie other side were the 
cattle sheds (Kandang Kerbau) of the Public Works, and a crowded 
filthy native locality. 

In building the new Jiospital, provision was made also for a Police 
Ward for members of the Police force and for injuries, accidental or 
homicidal, amongst natives. These two hospitals constituted two bhcks 
rannin^ parallel to each other: and a small bungalow was run up 
between the Police Ward and the Lunatic Asylum for the reception of 

However, everyone concerned tried to do his best to make the 
in^ufficient accommodation that was provided as comfortable as means 
and the surroundings permitted, and the name of the Institution was 
quietly changed to "The General Hospital," which was largely used 
both 6y H. M. Ships and mercantile marine: in fact, there was often 
a pressure for room, and Sir Harry Ord was considering the advis- 
ability of 1>uilding a third block, when a long expected event brought 
about unlooked for relief. The opening of the Suez Canal revolutionized 
the trade of the port, and instead of having a large number of English 
vessels in harbour for weeks, waiting for cargo, Canal steamers sprang 
up, remaining only a few hours in port. The floating population 
thereby decreased, and consequently there were fewer patients seeking 
admission into the hospital. But in June, 1873, cholera, in an epidemic 
form, broke out it Kampor.g Kapor and the Lunatic Asylum. . The 
patients of the General Hospital were hastily removed to the buildings 
5«t the Sepoy Lines left vacant by the removal of the Indian native 
leKiraent, but temporarily occupied by the Police. The hospital on 
Bukit Timah Road was reserved for a Cholera Hospital, which had to 
be supplemented by a temporary structure on the Kace Course Plain. 
At the outbreak of this epidemic. Dr. Bandell, the then Principal Civil 
Medical OflBcer, was on sick leave in England, and the removal was 
effected by Drs. Anderson and Hampshire, Dr. Bandell returned about 
August, when cholera was declining. He at once made up his mind 
not to return to the old place, and strong representations were made 
to the then Governor, Sir H. Ord; but, though he quite agreed with 
the P. C. M. O., he felt (as he was about resigning office) that the 
initiation of the change should be left to his successor, Sir Andrew 
Clarke. One of the first public places visited by the new Governor, was 
the old hospital ; and the following day, he went to the Sepoy Lines, 
j<nd decided that the hospital was not to revert to its old quarters at 
Kandang Kerbau : and, to have good grounds on which to base a 
J^tatement to the Secretary of State, a Commission was appointed to 
report on the advisability of the removal; and who can say how many 
quires of paper, and how much valuable time, was spent in arriving 
at a conclusion? 

ITie revenues of the Settlement were progressing, the new Governor 
wLs a favourite after Sir H. Ord, and things worked smoothly ; there 


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416 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

was no dissenting voicB in Council, so plans for a new hospital were 
made and sabmitted to the Secretary of State; but, as is well known, 
Government is never in a hurry, so it took months before the Secretary 
of State had leisure to look at the plans, and even then, only disap- 
prove of them as being too large, too expensive, &c., &c., and suggesting 
alterations. Fresh plans were made and re-submitted, which were 
eventually approved of. All these steps took time, but at last the 
present hospital was put in hand and was completed and occupied in 
August, 1882. The European Hospital (which was on a very much 
better site than that of the Tan Tock Seng^s Hospital on Serangoon 
Road) was rebuilt at the Sepoy Lines on rising ground in a healthy 
placre; but Tan Tock Seng's Hospital (which is only for the poor) 
remains in the swamps, and continues to claim its victims there to thiR 
day, in 1902. 

The time of the receipt of letters by the overland route, at this 
period, was still very uncertain. In one week in February, for example, 
instalments for three mails came in, and in the very reverse order to 
that in which they ought to have been received. On a Tuesday, a 
portion of a mail posted in England in December, arrived by way of 
Calcutta ; on the next day, a part of the November mail arrived by 
way of China ; and four days leter, the brig Sea Horse from Bombay 
brought the October mail. So that the mail, not unusually, took over 
four months to reach here, which was longer than an average 
passage by a sailing vessed round the Cape. It was proposed t-o get 
the P. k O. service established to Singapore, and that ^' Pulo Labuan, 
near Borneo," should be made a point of call for British men-of war 
to coal on the voyage between Singapore and Hongkong when 
conveying the mails from here. The Sea Hor^e brought forty convicts 
from Bombay under an armed guard, being part of a famous robber 
gang known as the Bunder Gang. 

The Kaces were held in March, on Tuesday, Thursday and 
Saturday, the same days of the week as at the present time, but they , 
took place in the morning. The evening before each race day a 
dinner was held at the Race Stand open to all members. 

The steamer Royal Sovereign made a few trips to Malacca and 
Penang, but it was an unprofitable venture, and the natives did not 
appreciate the superiority of steam over sailing vessels. The fares were 
912 to Malacca and $30 to Penang; and $2 and $5 for deck passages. 
Mr. Whampoa provided the meals, for which an extra charge was made. 
The steamer had been sent here in 1843 in the hope of forming a 
Company to purchase her. Syme & Co. were the agents of the steamer. 

The following is an account, in a private letter, of a voyage overland 
via Calcutta, at this time, which was very different from the experiences 
of the present day : — " I left Calcutta for Europe by the steamer 
Hindostan. She is a splendid vessel, and everything from Calcutta to 
Southampton went on smoothly, the table was good, we had good wines, 
aud everything in first rate style, even the passage across the desert down 
the Nile and on the canal, was comfortable. We had English coachmen 
to drive us through the desert, the stations attended by English women, 
clean and well provided. I took my passage back at Malta, and paid 
for myself and native servant to Alexandria £24.10. I have nothing 


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1844 417 

to complain of on board the Cheat Liverpool, I was comfortable, and 
the table and wines were good. I paid at Alexandria, for myself and 
servant, £25 to Suez besides £2 for extra baggage ; you cannot imagine 
how bad was our scanty and miserable food. The transit was equally 
bad, we were driven by Arabs, of which they know nothing, and the 
consequence was, that s«me of the vans were capsized, some of the 
ladies had black eyes, and not a little burning, and I was once obliged 
to walk four miles, as the horses would not start. For economy^s sake 
the stations are now managed by Arabs, and these people have such 
a tendency to dirtiness, that the rooms and everything else were swim- 
ming in their element. We had nothing but Irish stew all the way. 
At Suez, I found the Hindostan, and you will hardly believe that I 
was again obliged to submit to the greatest imposition ; the purser made 
me pay down for my passage and for native servant, from Suez to 
Calcutta, the exhorbitant sum of £172, and this for a miserable dark 
cabin, rejected by every other passenger, without light and air, a 
single berth, and a sofa half under the berth, and only about 
eight inches lower, and only fit for a child or any one that had lost 
his legs. The fare was indifferent; the claret sour; the sherry muddy 
and bad, brandy and gin the worst that could be had. The passengers 
being more than there were seats for in the saloon, about ten or 
twelve of them were cast upon the deck, where their meals arrived 
generally cold; in any other part of the world, the captain or purser 
should in duty bound, apologize for it, and should have said 'Gentle- 
men, there is not room for the whole of you in the saloon, therefore, 
if you wish, some of the gentlemen below will take it by turns, and 
vou will go down.' This would have smoothed our feelings. I am 
confident you would not like much the overland route." 

In May, a Hindoo festival took place, which the Free Press 
described as follows: — "On Thursday last the Hindoo festival called 
Churruck Poojah was celebrated in the usual manner, to the disgust 
and serious annoyance, we doubt not, of all right-thinking persons. 
The horrible ceremony of swinging round a high pole suspended by a 
hook inserted in the back, was performed by two men, not only with 
the sanction of Government, but on a piece of ground at the race 
course allowed by the authorities for the purpose. We think that 
Government is blameable and altogether in the wrong in permitting 
this or any other cruel and disgusting native rite to be practised in 
these Settlements. There may be some appearance of reason in saying 
that in Hindostan the Hindoos ought to be allowed to practise their 
rites and cerenionies without molestation or hinderance, and that it 
might be dangerous and impolitic to forbid them. But even this 
argument, untenable as we deem it, and which in India, in the case 
of Suttee, a practice regarded by Hindoos as of the most sacred and 
paramount nature, has been successfully disregarded, does not apply 
with any great force here, since the Hindoos are mere foreigners in 
these Settlements, which may be looked upon as founded and settled 
by Europeans and therefore to be governed according to their laws 
and cnatoms. Not only is the practice which we condemn, abhorrent 
to the feelings of Europeans, but we are afraid that it produces any- 
thing but a good effect on other classes of Asiatics who crowd to 


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418 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

witness it. On Thursday evening, the number of Chinese much exceeded 
the Hindoos or any other class. The practice is alike unchristian and 
inhuman, and we therefore trust that this is the last time that it will 
be permitted to pollute the island. In the evening, after dark^ the 
Hindoos came along the Beach Road at Kampong Glam in procession 
with lighted torches making a great noise. It is surprising that 
serious accidents did not occur. ^' 

In June, the presentment of the Grand Jury contained the sugges- 
tion that the verandahs should be kept clear of obstructions. The 
paper said it was very desirable, but could only be done by an Act of 
the Legislative Council, except in those cases where proprietors of 
houses had exceeded their limits and constructed their verandahs on 
the public property, in which cases Government could impose such 
conditions as might be necessary. 

H. M, S. Samarang arrived in Singapore in July, with her Captain 
wounded in an attack by pirates, the account of which shows how 
serious the piratical attacks were in those days. The Free Pretts de- 
scribed it as follows: — ^'H. M. Surveying Ship Samarang, Sir E. 
Belcher, k.c.b., arrived on the 2nd instant from Borneo. We under- 
stand that Sir Edward, while employed in the ship's boats making 
scientific observations o£E the coast of Gilolo, a considerable island 
lying East of the Northeni limit of Celebes, was attacked by a large 
party of lUanoon pirates, consisting of ten prahus, with about sixty 
men in each. The boats of the ship had silenced several of the prahns 
which were afterwards taken possession of and destroyed, when a shot 
from one of them struck Sir Edward Belcher, passing through one 
thigh and lodging in the other, and knocking him overboard. Sir 
Edward was, we understand, in the act of directing a rocket against 
one of the prahus, when the shot reached him, and is the only one of 
the party who was seriously hurt, but it was not until considerable 
execution had been done among the piratical force, that the party 
returned to the ship, which immediately bore up for Singapore. The 
shot which struck Sir Edward, when cut out, was found to be an iron 
swivel ball, of more than an inch in diameter; but he is progressing 
favourably, and will, no doubt, be able to take part in the operations 
which the Admiral will, we trust, ere long, direct to be pursued against 
the pirates in that quarter of the Archipelago, whose repeated outrages 
against Europeans we have recorded of late/' 

An efiFort was made at this time to improve the town, and the 
following notice was issued by the Supreme Court. It referred to a 
very larure number of houses in Teluk Ayer Street, Pekin Street, 
Market Street, Circular Koad, Boat Quay, and neighbouring streets, and 
the notice, although very closely printed, filled nearly a column of the 
paper. In Chinchew Street, for example, it named thirty-seven houses : — 


Whereas, it having on the 15th of June last past, been presented to the 
Judges of Her Majesty's Court of Judicature of Pi-ince of Wales' Island, Singapore 
and Malacca fitting as a ('ouH of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol 
Delirery at Singapore by the Grand Inquest then and thera assembled, that 
the sereral houses or buildines, situated in several streets hereinafter mentioned 
in the town of Singapore, marked and numbered over the door or entrance oi 
the said several houses or buildings, respectively, are public nuisanceB bj reason 


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1844. 41» 

of ^ the very decayed and unsafe condition of the said several houses or 
boildings, and whereas, it being desirable that the public nnisances should be 
speedily remoTed and abated, notice is hereby given to the several and respective 
proprietors, tenants, sub-tenants, occupiers or holders of the aforesaid several 
houses or buildings, as above specified, must be pulled down within the space of 
three months, from the date hereof, or legal proceedings will be instituted with 
the view of abating the said public nuisances." 

Then followed the particulars of the streets and houses. 

In August^ a public meeting was held to establish a Library, to 
be kept in the Singapore Institution. Mr. J. C. Smith was the first 
Secretary and Librarian, and Mr. W. H. Bead, Treasurer. The 
following were the first shareholders, who each contributed $80. The 
monthly subscription was §2.50. The rules, Ac, will be found printed 
in the Free Press of the 15th August: — 

Almeida, Joaquim Dyce, C. A. McMicking, G. 

Bain, G. Fraser, L. Martin, M. J. 

Butterworth, Col. George, W. R. Middleton, A. 

Blundell, Wm. Gilman, E, J. Myrtle, J. 

Caldwell, H. C. Guthrie, James Napier, W. 

Church, Thos. Harrison, C. H. Purvis, John 

Crane, T. O. B. Ker, Thos. B. Read, W. H. 

Cumming, J. Little, Dr. Saul, R. P. 

Davidson, M. F. Logan, A. Sorabjee, Frommurze 

Drysdale, J. C. Logan, J. R. Stevenson, Captain 

Dnnman, Thos. McEwen, Robert 

The following is an account of the first sale of horses from 
Sydney : — " On Tuesday, the 20th August, the recent importation of 
horses and sheep from Sydney was sold by public auction. The sheep 
were first put up in lots of five, and went off briskly at $4.60 to J5 
each, which was considered a good price. As the time approached 
for the sale of horses ** TattersalFs *' became rather crowded with 
Europeans, Jews, Parsees, Arabs, and the various tribes of settlers, 
which presented an animated scene. The result of the sale was very 
satisfactory, the highest bid was $350, and the lowest $100, making an 
average of $211 each for 11 horses. Some Sydney potatoes were also 
sold at $2.30 per picul. We believe that the importation of these 
horses, &c., was, in some degree, experimental, and from the satisfactory 
result of the sales we may expect to see it repeated. We have no 
doubt that a small annual importation of horses, and a larger one of 
sheep, potatoes, &c., would always take, and there are, no doubt, other 
products of New South Wales which might also find a market here. 
The present importation has been made by Messrs. Boyd & Co., of 
Sydney, and we believe that various articles of Straits and other 
Eastern produce will be taken as a return. Although, perhaps, it 
may not be possible to make the whole of the returns in produce, yet 
a part of them might, we daresay, be very profitably made in sugar, 
spices, Ac. Some gambier has also been taken, for the purpose of 
tanning, but we understand that the high price of labour in New South 
Wales forms a bar to the establishment of any extensive manufacture 
there, it being found more profitable to send the articles home in an 
unmanufactured state; and thus hides instead of being tanned and 
converted into leather on the spot, are sent to England as they 


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420 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

come oflF the cattle, with the addition of salt to preserve them from 
decay. We have no doabt that a considerable outlet for Colonial 
produce may be found in China, the Straits, and Continental India, 
and an increased intercourse could not fail of being mutually 

There was a dearth of bricks in the Settlement at this time, as 
there was so much building going on. The paper wrote as follows : — 
*'We may notice the high price of bricks in the Settlement. We 
believe they are at present $18 per laksa, whereas a few months aofo 
they were only $10 or §12. We believe this arises from a monopoly 
of the article having been secured, it is said, in anticipation of the 
wholesale destruction of the wooden houses in town, which, it was 
thought, would follow on the presentment of the Grand Jury. This 
expectation turns out to be fallacious, as it is discovered that only 
those houses which are really dangerous to the public can be ranked 
as nuisances, and, as such, are indictable, and, of these, we believe, 
the number is not large. It is very much to be regretted that the 
advance should have happened at this juncture, as it will enhance the 
cost of the two hospitals very considerably, to the public loss in one 
case, and, in the other, to that of the humane individual at whose cost 
it is erecting, Tan Took Seng.'' Bricks in 1902, are selling at $50 to 
$140 a laksa. 

In September Captain Faber, of the Madras Engineers, the newly 
appointed Superintending Engineer, arrived from Madras. Mount 
Faber was called after him. He was the gallant oflScer who, on being 
told that he had built a bridge over the river so low that the tongkangs 
could not pass under it at high tide, had the bottom of the river 
dredged under the bridge to float them through. Some of his archi- 
tectural and engineering failures are alluded to further on in the year 
1846. One of his gallant successors spent many vain efforts and no 
little of Mr. Tan Beng Swee's money in endeavouring to make water 
run up hill, when the first fruitless attempt was made to bring water 
into the town. 

From time to time, attempts continued to be made to make plant- 
ing pay on the island, and about this time sugar was being cultivated 
on a large scale at Serangoon on Balestier Plain and elsewhere, as 
was said in the last chapter; the paper wrote on the subject in 
October, as follows: — "In Singapore, the cultivation of sugar has been 
prosecuted by two enterprising and persevering gentlemen, Messrs. 
Balestier and Montgoraerie, who have successfully established the fitness 
of the soil and climate of Sini^^apore for sugar culture. The cultivation 
is rapidly extending, and large tracts of ground are being brou«rlit 
under the operation of the husbandman. The system of contracts with 
the Chinese has, by experience, been found to be the best plan of 
proceeding. By it not only is a better cane produced, but the crop is 
more abundant. The plan is this; the ground is cleared, planted, and 
the whole management of it undertaken by the Chinese, who bring 
the crop to maturity and cut it down. It is carted from the ground 
by the manufacturer to the mill, and the Chinese are allowed at a 
certain rate upon the out-turn. The sum at present given is about $1 .50 
per picol. j4ii acre of cane produces from thirty to forty picula of 


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1844. 421 

sugar. The quality of the sugar, which is as material a point as the 
quantity, is first rate, consisting of a fine strong grain excellently 
adapted for the purposes of the sugar refiner. 

"There is much land on the island well suited for the growth of 
the sugar-cane, and were parties encouraged, by a relaxation of the 
heavy duties, against which Singapore planters will now have to 
contend, to embark in the cultivation, Singapore could annually send 
home a very large supply of sugar to the home market. We may 
here take the opportunity of remarking that very erroneous and 
unfavourable ideas have been formed as to the adaptation of Singa- 
pore for agriculture. This, no doubt, may have in part arisen from 
some inferior soils having been at first selected for planting operations, 
and the result of the cultivation of which has been rather discouraging. 
It is admitted that the climate of Singapore is admirably suited for 
most kinds of tropical cultivation and the quality of the soil is, there- 
fore, the essential point of enquiry. On this head, it might be sufiicient 
for answer to instance the beautiful plantations of different kinds of 
fruit and spice trees which are to be found in the neighbourhood of 
the town. Whether the capabilities of the soil are to be availed of to 
any great extent will depend, in a great measure, on the amount of 
encouragement and protection which Straits agriculture may experience 
from Government/' Subsequent experience taught a different lesson, 
as the plantations entirely failed. Mr. Balestier, the American Consul, 
had his plantation where Balestier Plain is now, and Dr. Montgomerie 
on the other side of the Kallang stream where Woodsville is now. It 
was called Kallang Dale, and Mr. R. C. Woods changed the name to 
Woodsville after he built the large house there. 

On 18th September the following notification was issued by 
Government. It is inserted here because the matter has come to the 
front several times since: — 

" Authentic intelligence having been received, that a naturalized British 
snbject, but of Chinese origin, had incun-ed some risk of seizure, and persecu- 
tion hj the Chinese authorities, in consequence of his appearing at one of the 
Ports in China lately thrown open to British shipping as supercargo of a 
British vessel — and as the cases of the same kind are likely to occur from the 
growing tradfi in British ships between the Forts in China and the Straits 
oettlements, it is hereby notified, with a view to protect persons so situated, 
that the Resident Councillors at Penang, Singapore, and Malacca, will be pre- 
pared to furnish a certificate when required, intimating that they are naturahzed 
British subjects. This document will be lodged with the Consul at the first 
Port the vessel may touch in China." 

A letter from Mr. John Crawfurd at this time said that it was 
not improbable that a Royal establishment might be formed in the 
island of "Labuwan" off the Borneo river, for a steam station for 
coal. A notice was issued by the Police that shoals of sharks, of 
immense size, had been seen, and a great number caught in the roads 
in a few days in the middle of September, and warning sailors against 
bathing in the sea. 

The following is the first reference we have met with to the 
possible annexation of the Native States: — "We consider the sugges- 
tion to acquire some of the neighbouring Native States for the 
purposes of agriculture as worthy of attention. There is no doubt 
that the change from the Native to the British rule would be very 


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422 Anecdotal Ei$tory of Singapore 

beneficial to the States themselves, as at present they are in a condi- 
tion very little removed from downright barbarism. Their rajahs are 
in general grossly ignorant and of the most puerile and depraved 
habits; when not engaged in some petty warfare with a neighbour, 
their whole time is spent in cock-fighting and gambling. Their 
subjects, insecure in their possessions, and without a motive to exertion, 
give way unrestrainedly to the indolence so congenial to a Malay, and 
with the exception of the scanty fields of paddy, which is to supply 
their food, and a few cocoanuts, which surround their villages, the 
soil is uncultivated. The only sign of activity displayed is in the 
working of the tin mines in some of these states, and these are carried 
on by Chinese from the British Settlements. Were these states to be 
under English Government, we might expect to see them exhibiting in 
the course of a few years, a very different appearance from what they 
do at present. Their soil would be made to yield those rich and 
abundant crops for which nature intended it, and their mineral wealth 
would be fully developed. A large and comparatively wealthy popula- 
tion would cause a large demand for the manufactures of England, 
and she would, in return, receive those supplies of sugar which she so 
much requires, besides an abundance of other tropical productions." 
All which has since been exemplified in the Protected Native States. 


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1845. 428 


ON Saturday^ the 18th January, a public meeting was held, having 
been called, as usual in those days, on a requisition to the Sheriff, 
Captain Faber and all the community attended. Mr. Thomas McMicking 
was the Chairman. The first part of the proceedings related to the 
Land Question, about which the Government had proposed to make 
more stringent regulations, to which the planters took exception. The 
next subject was the expenditure of the assessment fund, which Mr. 
W. H. Read brought forward, showing that the money was not 
properly applied, the Government paying out of the assessment funds 
ior public works that properly pertained to Government alone. The 
following is the report of the latter part of the meeting, the rest of 
the report being too long to reproduce ; — 

"Mr. Read concluded by moving: — That the Hon^ble the Governor 
be requested to allow the assessment funds to be controlled by a 
Committee of three persons — one appointed by the Government, and 
two by the assessed. Mr. Lewis Fraser seconded the motion. 

Considerable discussion ensued on the terms of the motion, and 
two amendments were brought forward, one by Mr. Dyce, to the effect 
that the assessment fund should be controlled by a committee of con- 
servancy to be chosen by the payers of assessment exceeding a certain 
amount — the executive being still vested in the Government; — and the 
other by Dr. Little to the effect that the Governor-General of India 
in Council be memoralized to allow the assessment to be managed by 
the rate-payers. The three propositions were put to the vote, when 
Mr. Read^s motion was carried by a large majority. 

Mr. M. F. Davidson then, after a few appropriate observations, in 
which he remarked that it was not for the purpose of supplying an 
additional sitting Magistrate or Assessing Officer that the inhabitants 
agreed to the assessment being raised to 10 per cent., but in order 
that an increased efficiency of the Police might be secured by an 
improved and thorough superintendence, moved: — That it is the 
opinion of this meeting that the Deputy Superintendent of Police 
cannot effectively perform the duties of his situation, and at the 
same time those of a sitting Magistrate, and that the Government 
be requested to make such arrangements as will relieve him of all 
duties foreign to his office as Deputy Superintendent of Police. 

Mr. Alexander Guthrie seconded the motion, which was carried 
nem con. 

Mr. R. Bain proposed, seconded by Mr. Davidson : — That the 
Local Authorities be requested to alter the present foot-bridge over 
the river near Syed Omar's godowns [where Elgin Bridge is now] 


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424 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

into a Carriage Bridge with as little delay as practicable, -which 
the meeting' unanimously agreed to. 

On the motion of Mr. Guthrie, seconded by Mr. Crane, the 
following gentlemen, viz., M. F. Davidson, W. H. Read and C. 
Spottiswoode, were appointed a Committee to address the Governor 
on the three last resolutions, and to procure, so far as practicable, 
their being carried into effect. 

The meeting was held at noon, in Mr. Bead^s house. There was 
no public building that could be used for the purpose in those days. 

In January, the Chamber of Commerce addressed a long letter 
to Government on the subject of the copper currency which was in 
a very deranged condition as the Government had no copper 
coinage for the Straits at Jihat time, and the change for a dollar 
consisted of all kinds of tokens which the merchants imported from 

Sugar planting in the jungle in those days was not unattended 
with danger. Gang robberies were not un frequent, and the follow- 
ing is an account of an attack on one of the planters: — "On 
Saturday morning, the 15th March, about half-past two o'clock, the 
house of Monsieur Beauregard, a French gentleman, who is forming 
a sugar plantation in Pyah Lebar district, and who resides on the 
spot, was attacked by a gang of about thirty Chinamen, who were 
headed by two Malays, They were provided with fire-arms, and fired 
seven times, wounding M, Beauregard, and six of his labourers 
slightly, but they did not succeed in getting possession of the house, 
being driven back by M. Beauregard, who fortunately had a good 
supply of fire-arms which he used with such success that, after he 
had fired six shots, the robbers retreated, carrying with them their 
dead and wounded. From the great quantity of blood which was 
afterwards observed upon the ground, it is conjectured that four or 
five men, at least, must either have been killed or desperately 
wounded. Two Chinese servants had their swords taken from them 
by the assailants, but they were not hurt, which, with other suspicious 
circumstances, renders it extremely probable that they were in the 
counsels of the gang. As soon as information was conveyed to the 
Police Office, Mr. Dunman, Deputy Superintendent, aiid a largo 
body of peons, proceeded to the spot, where they arrived during 
the forenoon. They searched the jungle in the neighbourhood with- 
out finding any traces of the gang, although 120 men were employed 
in the search the whole day. The houses at the piratical village at 
Siglap were likewise searched, as well as all boats leaving the 
neighbourhood, but without success. *' The coolness and courage with 
which Monsieur Beauregard withstood such a large body of men is 
deserving of the highest praise, and shows that, with resolution and 
a good supply of arms, a single European need not despair of 
beating off a gang of Chinamen, though thirty times his number, 
if only on the alert in time. At the same time we must observe 
that if it is wished that Europeans should settle in the island as 
cultivators, means must be taken by an improved system of Police 
to give them some security of life and property. At present there 
is no suflicient Police in the country parts ; there are a few 


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1845. 425 

Thannahs here and there, but it can scarcely be expected that two 
or three Klings should boldly face a large gang of thirty or forty 
reckless Chinamen, and we do not therefore blame the men so much 
as the system. There ought to be European constables with an 
adequate force stationed at some central place in the cultivated 
districts, whose special duty it ought to be to act as a night 
patrol, going in different directions in their beat in parties of four 
and five, and provided with the means of summoning others to 
their aid in the event of their falling in with any gang of evil- 

It was in this year that the Peninsular and Oriental Company 
made the first contract for the conveyance of the mails to China 
via Ceylon. The contract was for 140, hours from Ceylon to Penang, 
and 45 hours from there to Singapore, and 170 hours from there 
to Hongkong, The steamers were to remain 48 hours here. The 
service was once a month. The first mail steamer, the Lady Mary 
Woad^ arrived on the 4th August, having been eight days from 
tralle. She brought the mails from London of 24th June, having 
taken 41 days. The paper spoke of this matter as follows : — " The 
arrival of the first direct Overland Mail for the Straits and China 
is an event of some importance, and deserving of special notice at 
our hands. It is a further addition to the great lines of steam- 
packets by which Great Britain is brought into such close contact 
with her more distant Colonial possessions. The American and West 
Indian Colonies have long had regular lines of steamers between 
them and the Mother Country, and now in the East it only wants an 
extension of the chain to Australia to render it complete. This we 
believe will not be long withheld, the growing importance of the 
Australian Colonies, and the advantages resulting to Government 
itself from quick and regular communications with distant posses- 
sions, will speedily bring about the accomplishment of this line. It 
seems almost certain that Singapore will be the station where the 
junction of the Australian line with the Indian one will take place, 
so that with the Dutch monthly steamer and perhaps the Manila 
one in addition, Singapore bids fair to become a steam-packet station 
of considerable importance. 

The number of letters carried by the succeeding steamer, the 
BroganzUy from Europe was 652, and newspapers 673; total number 
of covers 1,325. The number taken by the Lady Mary Wood on her 
return voyage homewards on Ist September, was: — 

Europe 3,989 

Penang ... ... ... 165 

Ceylon ... ... ... 74 

Bombay 242 

Madras 281 

Aden ... 6 

Total amount of covers ... 4,757 

The passage money was £160, including transit through Egypt 
and steward^s fees. 


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426 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

There was a good deal of excitement in the Square because 
the prepaid letters by the first homeward mail were all left behind! 
and the following appeared in the paper: — "We regret to notice 
that a great number of letters sent to the Post Office and intended 
for despatch to Europe by the steamer Lady Mary Wood, although 
sent to the Post Office a few minutes before two o'clock (the 
advertised latest hour), were not forwarded to their destination^ but 
returned to the senders The letters in question were sent by two 
commercial houses whose communications and correspondence were 
extensive, and who throu«^hout the day were dispatching letters to 
the Post Office so soon as they were sealed, in order that the 
Post Office servants might experience as little inconvenience as pos- 
sible. In the instance of these letters some excuse is raised which 
is not withal very reasonable. The whole of the "rejected addresses" 
were epistles to foreign countries, and as such, had to undergo 
various entries in sundry books of the Singapore Post Office to 
ensure the certainty of reaching their destination. Although in 
good time, that is, several minutes before the advertised hour of 
closing the mails, the letters were returned; because, as alleged, 
there was no time to perform all the manipulations necessary in 
the instance of foreign letters. But a still worse casualty occurred : 
the whole of the prepaid letters were forgotten ! They had been 
placed in a very snug corner, but were overlooked. 

The Chamber of Commerce addressed the Governor very warmly 
upon the subject, and Mr. William Scott and Mr. Cuppage, who 
were in charge of the Post Office, got a good deal of warm 
language. The merchants made legal protests against the Post Office 
authorities, holding them liable for any loss that might ensue, but 
they were only waste paper, as the Indian Postal Act exempted 
them from responsibility. The paper said shortly afterwards that 
the energy of the Chamber had worked wonders. The forgotten 
letters were sent on by the steamer Fire Queen to Calcutta some 
days after, to go from there by any opportunity. Spottiswoode & 
Connolly were the first Agents of the P. & O. Company. 

The Lady Mary Wood was built in 1842, her gross tonnage was 
556, and the horse power 250, she was, of course, a paddle wheel 

The following statement in the Free Press for March shows 
what the native trade by junks was at that period: — "Below 
we give a statement of the number of junks which have 
arrived this season up to the 24th instant, greatly exceeding 
the arrivals last year at the same time. The arrival of immigrants 
has also been very large, being at the 19th instant, 6,883, of whom 
1,168 have come by square-rigged vessels, a new feature in the 
history of Chinese immigration, and 5,715 by junks. The number of 
immigrants last year was about 1,600, and the year before 7,000, 
but judging from the number who have already arrived, we may 
anticipate that this season they will not fall much short of 9,000 or 
10,000. They are chiefly dispersed through the Straits Settlements 
and the neighbouring Dutch one at Khio. In the Straits there will 
be an increased demand for labour for the sugar estates, which 


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11 absorb some of the surplas^ and we understand that the cnlti- 
»tion of gambler is being carried on in Johore rather extensively 
'- the Singapore gambier planters. We do not know what number 
> to Rhio^ but we should think that it cannot be on the increase^ 
we are informed most of the gambier and pepper plantations in 
le vicinity of Rhio have already been, or will soon be, exhausted 
id abandoned. The distance from the town at which operations 
ill consequently have to be carried on, by increasing the cost of 
irriage, etc., will, no doubt, lessen the profits of the cultivation 
nd tend in some measure to check it.'* 

Arrivals of Chinese and Cochin-Chinese junks during the present 
season from 2nd December to 24th March. 

From China. 

' Whence. 



' Canton 








Chonglim ... 












Ty wan 






■ Long Loy 

. C. China Proper 






In the same month, the paper spoke of the mouth of the river, 
which is still attracting attention : " The entrance to the river un- 
doubtedly requires to be deepened, but how is it to be done? If 
we are not mistaken, the present Assistant Resident tried his hand 
at it, but after having broken in pieces a large stone at the 
entrance of the river, a famous historical relic, and one of the very 
few of which Singapore could boast, he abandoned the task." This 
is the famous stone that has been already spoken of at page 89. 

The Free Pre^s of 27th March contained the following remarks 
upon the expedition to Borneo : — " H. M. steamer Driver, of which 
we some weeks ago announced the departure for Borneo with a 
political mission on board, returned into the roads last Saturday 
morning, having effected the passage over from Sarawak in 48 hours. 
The mission, which consists of Captain Bethune of the Royal Navy, 
whose general and scientific attainments are well known, associated 
with Mr. Brooke, visited Borneo Proper, and, as we have been 
informed, met with the most favourable reception from the native 
rulert of that place, who have long Been desirous to secure the 


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428 Anecdotal Eidory of Singapore 

friendship and alliance of the British G-overnment. Everything pro- 
ceeded to the satisfaction of the mission, while the island of Labuan 
and the adjacent waters were carefully surveyed with a view to the 
advantage of forming an establishment there under the British crown, 
but what the ultimate determination on this head may be, or whether 
another locality will be finally chosen, has not transpired. Of Labuan 
we ourselves know only the geographical position, and a few other 
particulars which are, we believe, pretty generally known, but there 
is no island on the coast of Borneo of which we have received any 
information which appears to equal Labuan in the advantages it 
offers for a Settlement, not the least of its recommendations being 
that it yields excellent coals, of which a specimen has been brought 
over in the Drive7\ In connection with the affairs of Borneo, we 
ought not to omit to mention that Mr. Brooke has been appointed 
by Her Majesty's Ministers the Confidential Agent of the British 
Government in Borneo. What powers this designation includes we 
are not yet aware, but it will be a source of gratification to all 
those who feel an interest in the progress of civilization and improve- 
ment in these countries, to find that gentleman occupying a situation 
which will enable him to advance the great objects which he has 
all along had in view in his enterprising career on the Coast of 
Borneo — namely, the welfare of the inhabitants, by extinguishing 
piracy ; the consequent security of property ; and the extension of 
our commerce on principles which would secure the friendship and 
gratitude of the natives. There is no person of whom we have 
heard who possesses in the same degree as Mr. Brooke that union 
of qualities which fit a man to be at the head of a movement in 
this part of the world which has these great and important objects 
in view/* 

The Races were held in March, on two days in the afternoon. 
A '^ four-in-hand elub (ponies) '* turned out with a drag, as a 
novelty. Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane was here, in his flag- 
ship the Agincourt, and there was a large party from his vessel at 
the races. The Chamber of Commerce tried to induce him to allow 
one of the men-of-war to carry mails between Singapore and Ceylon 
for a few months until the P. & 0. was properly established. 
The following was an account of the result : — 

'' His Excellency Sir T. Cochrane, in replying to the Hon'ble 
the Governor's letter forwarding the request of the Chamber, says 
that it will at all times afford him the highest gratification to render 
himself or the squadron under his command useful in forwarding the 
views and wishes of so respectable a body of gentlemen, and to find 
that he and the squadron have been made in any manner instru- 
mental in promoting their interests or prosperity, and he therefore 
greatly regrets that on the present occasion he is unable to comply 
with their request. There are. His Excellency observes, only three 
large steamships under his command, one of which is stationed in 
India, another in China, and the third in the Straits of Malacca 
and Java Sea for the express purpose of protecting the commerce of 
the Straits Settlements, and the numerous vessels that trade to the 
Indian Archipelago; and one of the chief objects of his Excellency's 


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1845. 429 

present visit to Singapore is to ascertain how Her Majesty's ships 
dedicated to the important duties of the Straits can best render their 
services to the commerce of their country; on which subject he looks 
forward to the Chamber affording him any suggestions which they 
may be able to offer. 

"The Admiral is fully alive to the great inconvenience to which 
oar Eastern and Northern correspondence is at present exposed, an 
inconvenience, he remarks, felt still more severely at Hongkong than 
in the Straits from its more remote position, and he would most 
willingly give his best endeavours to remove it, but he would not, 
under any circumstances, feel himself justified (without orders from 
Lome) in appropriating a steam-ship-of-war to Post Office duties, entail- 
ing a heavy expense, uncompensated by the profits on passengers and 
cargo available to a private steam-ship/^ 

On the 7th April, the Rev. Edward White, m.a., the Residency 
Chaplain, died very suddenly at the age of 52 years. He was much 
respected in the place. The tombstone in the old church yard says 
that it was erected by the congregation of which he was in charge 
for eight years, and the tablet in the Cathedral has been noticed 
on page 298. It was a military funeral, and the service was read 
by Mr. Thomas Church. Mr. White died in Coleman Street. He 
was succeeded by Mr. Moule, who came from Calcutta, and com- 
menced duty on Sunday, the 18th May. 

The Free Press in June contained the following paragraph. The 
fooh'sh action of the Government in condoning the mischievous and 
vexations actions of Opium and Spirit Farmers (in order to keep 
them in good humour and maintain the revenue) continues to this 
day : — '* On Friday the Spirit Farmer was charged before Captain 
Adara Cuppage, 27th Madras Native Infantry, Stipendiary Magistrate, 
and Messrs. John Purvis and James Guthrie, Magistrates, at the 
Police Office, by W- H. Miles, keeper of the Union Hotel, with 
having sold him spurious or adulterated Brandy: 'J'he Brandy was 
produced and was admitted by the Farmer to be the article that 
he had sold to Mr. Miles. Several respectable dealers were called 
who gave it as their opinion that the stuff was not Brandy at all, 
and Mr. John Steel stated that it appeared to him to be a com- 
pound of Arrack, burnt Sugar and Tobacco ! The Farmer in defence 
said that he bought the Brandy from Mr. Purvis in bottle and emptied 
it into a cask. Mr. Purvis sent for a muster of Brandy of the 
same quality he had sold to the Farmer as second quality Brandy, 
which was found to be a wholesome spirit and quite different from 
the Farmer's compound. The Magistrates then fined the Farmer 
fti 1,000. We are informed this is the third conviction of the 
^Spirit Farmer for selling adulterated liquor, but that on the two 
former occasions the fines, fe. 1,000 in each case, were remitted 
\>j the Authority in whose discretion the exacting of it or otherwise, 
is placed. This has no doubt tended to make the Farmer confident 
in following his evil practises, but we trust that for the protection 
of the public, the fine will be exacted to the last pie/' 

In July in the next year the following appeared in the paper, on the 
same subject, and is quoted here on account of the remarks by Mr. Church, 


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430 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

the Resident Councillor : — " On Monday an action was tried in the Co-Lr 
of Judicature before the Hon. the Resident Councillor at the inst&nce or i 
respectable Chinese merchant named Ang Ah^ against some peons of it- 
Opium Parmer, who under pretence of searching his person for i2r: 
Opium, had seized hold of him on the street, and were drajrging" him awaj 
by his tail to the Opium Farmer^s OflSce, when he was with some diffica :/ 
rescued from their hands by Mr. Frommurzee Sorabjee who was passing *: 
the time, and who compelled them to take Ang Ah to the Police. Ti- 
peons alleged that they found in Ang Ah's purse a small box contaznii^ 
some Opium valued at 3 sucoos : — Ang Ah on the other hand assertc . 
that while some of the peons seized him behind, he caught the hands j: 
one of them in front who was endeavouring to convey the Opium into L: 
purse. The case was heard at the instance of the Farmer by the SittiBC 
Magistrate an«l the Superintendent of Police, who after hearing tL- 
evidence for the charge, dismissed the Complaint, and thereupon Ang Al 
brought an action against the peons to recover damages for the assai' 
which they had committed upon him. After evidence had been gi^t 
of the assault and for the defence the Hon. the Resident Councillor gav- 
judgment for the Plaintiff, awarding §65 as damages. His Horn: 
remarked that though it certainly was necessary that the Revenue shouli 
be protected it was also necessary, perhaps more so, that the public 
should be protected. Large powers were given to the Revenue peoL=^ 
under the Acts regulating the Farms, which it was necessary they shonll 
exercise with caution, and it had been proved that they had not done soir 
the present case, but on the contrary, had been proved to have committe'i 
a very gross assault upon a most respectable individual. The assault irr 
have reason to believe was prompted by a wish to annoy Ang Ah, because 
he has recently become renter of the Opium Farm lately establisba 
in Johore by the Tomoongong, whose Chinese settlers daily increase, 
to the serious detriment of the Singapore Revenue Farmers; who 
between immigration and the suppression of gambling, experience a 
daily diminution of their receipts. Indeed we hear that the decrease 
in the sale of Opium and Spirits amounts to so much as clearly 1C»' 
dollars per diem respectively.^' 

During this year, the Bukit Timah road was roughly opened up 
beyond Bukit Timah as far as Kranji. In May, Ellenborough Market wa> 
being built. Tan l^ock Seng was making preparations for commencing 
the erection of the Ellenborough Buildings. The Seamen's Hospital on 
Pearl's Hill was completed. The following is taken from the paper 
in May : — " The preparations for removing the signal station from 
Blakan Mati towards Tulloh Blangah Hill are advancing rapidly to 
completion, the latter having been cleared, a convenient road to the top 
constructed, and huts for the accommodation of the convicts erected. 
It is a very good station, commanding an extensive prospect seaward 
as well as- landward, and would form a desirable site for a bungalow. 
One of the reasons, and, if we mistake not, the chief one, assigned 
by medical men for the unhealthiness of Blakan Mati, was its being 
covered with pine-apples, the miasma arising from the decaying leaves 
of which was thought to be of a very injurious nature, yet the same 
cause is likely to render the Tulloh Blangah station as unhealthy, 
since the range along which the road runs, and till within a short 

DinitiypH h\/ 


1845. 431 

distance of the site of the intended flag-staff, is thickly planted with 
young pine-apples! We dare say the Tomoongong, who is the pro- 
prietor of the ground, would be easily induced to substitute some 
less obnoxious cultivation, were the reasons for objecting to the cul- 
tivation of pine-apples on that spot explained to him/' 

In July, the Government advertised that the hill would, in future, 
be named Mount Faber, which called forth the following remonstrance 
in a letter to the Free Pre^s: — 

" In the first place, who is the * 'orrid cockney ' who changed the 
pretty and appropriate Malay name of the Hill ? and why, having: 
done so, call it after one who, although he is the Superintending 
Engineer in the Straits, is not, and most probably never will be, 
much known to the good folks of this Settlement? Have we not 
sundry Governors and others high in office, from Sir T S. fiaffles 
down to our most worthy Resident Councillor himself who are 
deserving of the ' honour and glory ' ? Or is it because the present 
nominee has constructed a stupidly narrow road to the top of the 
Bukit — two persons meeting can barely pass each other — that so much 
renown is bestowed upon him ? '* 

An artist named Beverhans visited Singapore during this year, 
and painted several portraits which are still to be seen. Among 
others one of Mr. Whampoa 

The rate of postage via Marseilles on overland letters at that 
time was 2«. 2d, for a letter not exceeding a quarter of an ounce. 
The newspaper rate was 5cl. 

The gambier plantations in Singapore were becoming so thick, 
that the Chinese bej^an to open up gardens in Johore, which have 
since grown to such a large extent. In June, the followinjj was 
written about them: — *' For some time past, it has been known 
that a considerable immigration of Chinese gambier and pepper 
planters from Singapore to the opposite country of Johore has been 
going on. From a memorandum made by a gentleman who lately 
visited the different points in Johore where the planters have set- 
tled, it appears that, within the last six months, 52 plantations 
have been commenced: — 20 on the Sakodie river, 12 on the Sungei 
Malayu, 15 on the Sungei Danga, and 5 at Sungei Tambroh. 
There are about 500 people in all engaged in these plantations, 
and it is thought, and with probability, that the immigration will 
increase as the gambier and pepper plantations on this island wear 
out, which, from their age, many of them are fast doinij. At Rhio, 
also, it is understood that most of the gambier and pepper 
plantations are nearly exhausted, so that the planters will be 
oblijred to seek for new localities, which they will probably find 
in Johore. 

At the end of August a public meeting was held on a requisition 
made to the Sheriff to consider entering into arrangements to obtain 
regular supplies of ice, and a committee of James Stephen, Lewis 
Fraser, and W. H. Read was appointed to see the Governor on the 
subject. As the Ice committee at Hongkong had arranged to have 
two vessels of Ice yearly sent from America, it was suggested that 
Singapore could compass one ship load. 


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432 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The following letter in the paper in September, is the first 
mention of a country bungalow at Changhi : — " As the Changhi hut 
is now becoming the fashionable resort for pic-nic parties, I wish the 
Superintendent of Roads would take a ride down some morning to 
see the holy state of the rojids between Arthur^s Cottage and the 
river at Changhi; in fact ^tis almost unsafe for a conveyance to go 
there until it is repaired." 

The following is taken from the Free Press of November: — ''We 
are glad to learn that some intentions are entertained of forming a 
Company for making a dry Dock at Singapore, but we have not 
yet heard any particulars, nor how far the affair has progressed to 
a bearing. We understand, however, that the proposed site is in New 
Harbour, on Pulo Brani or some other island in that locality. New 
Harbour presents many advantages for a place of this kind, being 
smooth as an inland lake, and having a rise and fall of tide of 
about 12 feet. The undertaking, we should think, cannot fail to be 
profitable to the projectors. With so many steamers which already, 
and ere long will, arrive at our port monthly, and which will all, at 
times, have to encounter rough weather and adverse monsoons, a dry 
dock into which they can go and refit is almost indispensable. We 
shall, in all likelihood, before the lapsfe of another year, have steamers 
arriving here monthly from the following places : — Ceylon, 
Calcutta, Hongkong, Australia, Batavia and Manila. Indeed, steamers 
at present arrive from all these places except the two last, and, 
being generally vessels of a large size, there would be great diffi- 
culty in repairing one of them with the present means for the pur- 
pose in the Straits. A steamer, owing to her paddle boxes, cannot 
be hauled down upon the beach, and even for large sailing-vessels 
it is a very objectionable operation, exposing them to the risk of 
receiving much injury. Her Majesty's vessels, likewise, have at present 
no other place than Trincomalee to which they can go to repair, 
and a dry dock at Sinj^^apore would be peculiarly advantageous to 
them. They could come down from China, go . into dock, refit, and 
be back at their station in a very short space of time. All these 
things considered, the scheme wears a most promising appearance — 
both of advantage to the public, and of remuneration to the under- 
takers — and it will therefore give us much pleasure to have it 
in our power on an early occasion to record that it has been 
commenced, or that active measures are in progress for its being 

In January, 1846, it was mentioned again, and we publish the 
whole account, as it is interesting as compared with what has since 
been accomplished by our Dock Companies : — " Some weeks ago, we 
noticed that a proposal had been originated for constructing a Dry 
Dock at Singapore, and we are now happy to announce that the 
project has assumed such a practicable bearing as to enable us to 
lay a sketch of the details before our readers. The place pitched 
upon for a site is Puln Brani, in New Harbour, almost directly 
opposite to the Tomoon gong's House, a spot selected some time ago 
by Mr. C. Prinsep as a suitable location for a Patent Slip, but which, 
we believe, he has most readily ceded to the superior claims of the 


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1845. 433 

Dry Dock. The situation has been carefully surveyed by practical 
persons, and is the Ti:ost suitable and convenient in every respect 
in the neighbourhood uf Singapore. 

" It is proposed to c )ustruct a Dock of the following dimensions, 
by which it will be capaljlj of accommodating vessels of the largest 
class : — 

Length 300 feet. 

Width 68 „ 

„ at Gate ... ,., .,. 48 „ 

Depth ... ,,. .,, .,, 15 „ 

"It will be approached by a canal 70 feet in width, and extend- 
ing 280 feet from the dock gate. As the ground is soft, vessels 
will be able to lie in the canal for a tide if necessary. At the 
proposed entrance of the canal, there is a perpendicular bank run- 
ning in a semi-circular form across the small bay in the centre of 
which the dock will stand; close to this bank the depth of water 
is 3i fathoms, and at a short distance there will be placed mooring 
buoys, attached to which 8 or 10 vessels may lie in security free 
from the current. It is proposed to construct the masonry of the 
most substantial description. The bottom of the dock will consist of 
large logs of timber of the hardest description which can be pro- 
cured, 120 feet long by 40 inches in diameter. It is proposed 
to build the dock on the same principle as that pursued in erect- 
ing the new Liverpool Graving Docks, with the exception of the 
gates, which will not be hung, but be one solid mass — which is 
considered a better plan than the others, being more easily worked, 
more durable, and less costly. As the rise and fall of water is only 
U feet, a small steam-engine will be required to pump the additional 
3 or 4 feet out of the dock when necessary, but this, at the 
utmost, will not cost above £100 sterling. It is calculated that the 
dock would be so far ready in eight months after commencement, 
as to be available for the reception of sailing vessels, and would be 
entirely completed in twelve months. 

"With regard to the financial part of the scheme, the following 
is a rough estimate of the probable cost and of the returns likely 
to be derived; and the latter, we believe, will be allowed by all 
our readers conversant with the subject to be a very moderate 

"Cost op Construction and Annual Charges. 

''A dry dock complete, with steam-engine, buoys, gate, 
capstans, posts, chains, counting-house, &c., it is estimated will 
not cost more than ... ... ... ... • . . 9 80,000 

Interest on $80,000 @ 10 per cent, per annum ... §8,000 

Annual repairs ... ... ... ... ... 1,000 

Clerks' salaries, fl40 per month; Watchmen, $10 ... 1,800 

9 10,800 


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434 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Entrance fee on 30 vessels a year @ SlOO each - ? ^.O-V 

Bemain in dock 2 days each after the first 24 hours^ 

60 @ ?40 ... ... ... ... 2Mk 

Two Large Bombay Ships, entrance $200 ... . 4^>? 

Remain in dock 4 days each or 8 days @ $60 . . 4-^^' 
Two P. & 0. Co. steamers, China line, require docking 

every three months, 8 @ $500 ... 4,<»' 
Two P. & 0. Co. steamers, Australian Hue, require 

docking every three months, 8 @ $500 4,0'> 

Two Dutch steamers will bring iu yearly entrance fee Ijv 

Two n. C. steamers will bring in yearly entrance fee ... 1,1h« 

Twenty-one steamers in dock, one day each @ $80 1.6^" 

H. M. steamers and men-of-war, yearly, say .. . l,5i^ 


Excess of income .. ... ... .. ... ? S,&^, 

or above 10^ per cent, clear annual profit, no doubt increasing ir; 
after years.^^ 

In September, the following was written : — " The Committee o^' 
Government employes nominated by his Honour the Governor i^ 
report on the proposal for the formation of a Dry Dock* have 
submitted a report to the local Government, which has been traij>- 
mitted by the Governor to the merchants at whose instance the 
Committee was organised. In this report, is is stated that the 
Committee have fixed on a spot at Pulo Brani, which they recom- 
mend to be made the site of the proposed work, and which site 
they state 'whether for ease of construction or facility of approach 
at all times, may probably vie with any in the world/ Four 
estimates for the construction of the Dock had been submitted to 
the Committee, viz. : — 

No. 1 of Wood 14 feet Avater, to cost ... $ 76.290.2S 

No. 2 „ Brick U ,, „ „ ... 89,73-5.22 

No. 3 „ Wood 18 „ „ „ ... 87,658.52 

No. 4 „ Stone & Brick 18 „ „ „ ... 105,9o3.80 

The last is the estimate which the Committee recommend for 
adoption, and they state that the estimate seems to possess such a 
degree of correctness as would allow the arrangements to be pro- 
ceeded with, without any great chance of the actual cost beiiii: 
found to differ veiy widely from it. They have recommended the 
large size, as its adoption would probably lead to the P. & 0. 
Company taking a considerable interest in the undertaking on acconni 
of the number of steamers they will have ere long plying in these 

It was in this year that the Esplanade was enclosed, as appears 
from a passage in the paper; the sea-wall was not yet built:— 
''We understand that it is in contemplation to enclose, with posts 
and chains, the whole of the space fronting the sea called Esplanade. 
This will be a decided improvement, and will secure pedebtrians 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

J 845. 435 

ritliin the enclosure from the danger attendant on the present 
lot infrequent use of this open spot as a race ground." 

The following account of the introduction of Freemasonry into 
he Straits was published in a Madras Review in March of this year, 
end. is interesting to the largo number of the craft in Singapore : — 
** In 1809, a warrant of constitution was first received in Penang 
fvqrn the M. W. G M. the Duke of Athol, though Lodges of instruc- 
:ioii had been held for three or four years previously, during which 
pei-iod two applications for charters had miscarried, it was supposed 
by capture by the French of the vessels the letters were sent in, 
with whom we were at that time at war. Hy this warrant of con- 
stitution the worthy Brother T. W. Court, was appointed Master, and 
Bros. A B. Bone and 8. Stewart, Wardens. The Lodge met with 
only partial success, and never at any time numbered above fifteen 
members. The high rate of fees (three hundred and fifty dollars for 
the three degrees), and the exclusive spirit with which the Lodge wns 
conducted, will readily count for it? want of success; and though 
there were several worthy and very zealous Brethren connected with 
it, it gradually sunk into decay, and became finally extinct in 1819. 
"In 1821, Brigadier O^Halloran, commanding the troops in Penang, 
assisted by Bros. R. B. Smith and P. Ogilvie, obtained a warrant 
from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bengal, and established a military 
Lodge designated " Humanity with Courage,^* and in a short space of 
time Masonry became so popular in Penang, that almost every civilian 
of respectability was ranged beneath its banners; but in 1825, Bro. 
W. Stewart, an eminent Mason, commanding the barque Lallah Hookh, 
of Liverpool, visited the Lodge, and pointed out its irregular and 
unconstitutional proceedings, in making civilians in a military Lodge. 
The result was an application, through Bro. Stewart, to the United 
Grand Lodge of England, which was graciously and favourably 
received by the M. W. the (x. Master, H. K. H. the Duke of Sussex, 
who renewed the warrant of the Atholl Lodge (Neptune, No 344), 
and confirmed the proceedings of the military TiCidge. directing all 
its members to be admitted on the register of the (irand Lodge. 
The craft after this continued to prosper, under the vigorous manage- 
ment of Colonel Sale, of the Aladras Army (brother of the illustrious 
hero of Jellalabad), but after his return to the Coromandel Coast, 
in 1828, it fell into great disrepute, owing to the improper proceed- 
ings and intemperate conduct of the Brother who was elected his 
successor. The zealous and unwearied exertions of several eminent 
Brethren who afterwards presided in the Lodge, among whom may 
be named the late Bros. T. M. Ward, J. P. Grant, J. Wallace, G. 
Pinnock, of the Madras Army, Bro. A. B. Kerr, now of that service, 
and J. C. Smith, of Singapore, failed to meet with that success their 
•abilities and distinguished conduct, as Masters of the Lodge, deserved. 
The odium of the past misconduct of a few appears to have been 
indelible, and at the time I am now writing, and owing to these causes, 
and the diminished commercial importance of the Settlement, with 
the consequent ^reat reduction in the number of its European inhabitants, 
Neptune Lodge is again extinct, and little hope can reasonably be 
entertained of its ever being revived. 


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436 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

" In 1848, the Lodge voted a silver vase to Bro. J. C. Smith, fci 
a mark of its hi^h esteem of his character and services during iir 
fifteen years he had been connected with it; and at the same meetiir 
a special vote of thanks was tendered to the late Bro. F. Dunntu 
then about to proceed to China : and those only who knew him ai: i 
loved him as a man and a Mason can sufficiently understand the hip 
claims of this most excellent Brother to this distinction. HonocreJ 
be his memory ! for Masonry and friendship will very seMom mtr-: 
with one so worthy of such laudation. 

'^In 1844, an absurd attempt was made to constitute the ihe- 
decaying Lodge into a Provincial Grand Lodge, in order to preserrf 
the fading honour of the notable P. G. Master of Sumatra, who It 
some species of ingenious sophistry, peculiar to himself, has managcti 
to claim Penang as a portion of his province, ^'the Rising Sar/ 
in Sumatra having set beneath the Masonic horizon for more tha^ 
twenty years, and his only other Lodge, in the moon, being beyoi: 
the reach of human ken. This ridiculous attempt was very properly sn. 
effectually resisted by the worthy Bro. R. W. Stonehewer, then prr- 
siding as Msuster of No. 293, and the late Bro. W. Anderson, wh 
ably supported him in protecting an unfortunate but honourabie 
section of our ancient and honourable Fraternity from being decorateti 
with the loathsome trappings of a corpse, and rendered the objcvt o: 
contumely and contempt to the Craft in fcjeneral. The worthy P. G 
Master, deputed a Master Mason, who had systematically withheld tt 
support from this declining Lodge, to take upon himself the office r: 
D. G. Master, or in the event of his being disposed to display a magni- 
ficient self-abnegation of the appointment, to nominate any otht: 
equally deserving Brother he might select for this exalted office. So 
much for the legality of the contemplated proceedings of this Provincial 
Grand Master. The attempt was met with the scorn and contempt i: 
so richly merited; for verily the purple of Sumatra is at discount in 
the Malacca Straits, however much it may be esteemed at the Boar3 
of General Purposes, Grand Festivals and other high places in the 
metropolis of the Craft and of the world. 

" The vase voted to Bro. J. C. Smith was sent to Bro. T. O. Crane, 
for the purpose of being presented to him at Singapore, with a request 
that he would assemble as many Brethren as he could to be present 
on the occasion; and Bro. Crane having then, in a very appropriate 
speech, expressed his regret that he had not an opportunity of doinc 
it in a Lodge after the proceedings of the day were over, the practic- 
ability of establishing a Lodge in Singapore was discussed, and Bros. 
Smith and Crane were requested to draw up the necessary petition to 
the United Grand Lodge of England for a warrant of constitution. 
This was eventually obtained through the kind instrumentality of Bros. 
D. Davidson and H. B. Webb. Bros J. C. Smith, C. A. Dyce, and T. 0. 
Crane were appointed the first Master and Wardens of Zetland Lodge, 
No. 748. Some unavoidable delay occurred in the receipt of the warrant, 
and the Lodge was not regularly constituted until the 8th Decem- 
ber last, when that interesting ceremony was performed by Bros. 
B. Taylor, P. M. of Social Friendship, 326. He went down from 
Malacca for this purpose, and the new Master and Wardens were 

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1845. 437 

then installed in due and ancient form. Zetland Lodge has been 
tilted up in a manner which does the highest credit to its members^ 
and few stations in India, as I said before, can boast of a Masonic 
temple so creditable to themselves and the Craft. In four months 
there have been upwards of twenty initiations, and from the well- 
known respectability and indefatigable zeal of the officers and members 
of the Lodge, a permanent and most satisfactory career of success 
and usefulness may very reasonably be calculated upon. Zetland 
Lodge has voted a handsome Past Master's jewel to Bro. R. Taylor, 
in acknowledgment of his zeal and services. 

^^ List of the Officers of Zetland Lodge, No. 748, established in 
Singapore, December 8th, 1845 :—W. Bro. J. C. Smith, K.R.C., K.I. 
and M. W. Master; Bros. C. A. Dyce, S.W.; T. 0. Crane, J.W.; 
J. B. Gumming, Sec. and Actg. Treas. ; T. Smith, R.A., S.D.; W. 
6ibb, J.D.; J. Craig, I.G.; W. Rainford, Tyler." 

On the 8th December, the first Masonic Lodge called Zetland was 
opened. The following account was given in the paper: — 

"Pursuant to the Warrant of Constitution lately received from 
the Grand Lodge of England [dated February, 1845], 'Zetland Lodge, 
No. 748,' was opened in due form on Monday evening last, the 
Worshipful Master and Officers being installed and invested with 
their respective badges. There appears to be every prospect of this 
Lodge meeting witih great success from the number of members 
already belonging to it, as well as from the numerous list of re- 
spectable candidates for legitimate admission to the mysteries and 
privileges of the ancient and honourable fraternity." 

The Lodge was held in a house in Armenian Street. Mr. Wm. 
Napier was the first brother initiated, Mr. W. H. Read was the 
second, at the first meeting of the Lodge; and Mr. J. D. Vaughan 
at a meeting in the January following. 

The following list of the Officers and Members was in the Directory 
at the commencement of 1846 : — 

W. Bro. J. C. Smyth Worshipful Master. 

Bro. C. A. Dyce, M.M. Senior Warden. 

„ T. 0. Crane, M.M. Junior Warden. 

„ J. B. Cumming, M.M. . Secretary and Treasurer. 

„ T. Smith, R.A. Senior Deacon. 

„ W. Gibb, M.M Junior Deacon 

„ J. D. Scott, M.M. Inner Guard. 

„ W. Rainford, M.M. ... Tyler. 

Members:— E. A. Q. Apel, J. D. Booth, J. Chimmo, J. Craig, S. F. 
Camming, C. J. J. Curteis, G. S. Darby, D. Davidson, T. Dunman, 
B. B. Keane, L. Eraser, W. S. Lawson, J. Myrtle, W. Napier, W. H. 
Head, W. Rodyk, W. Scott, J. Simson, J. Thomson, E. J. White and 
R. W. Wiber. 

The Singapore Free Press had then been established ten years, 
and the following was written about it. In Mr. Horace St. John's 
hdian Archipelaijo, he said: — ^'The year 1835 is distinguished in 
the history of Singapore as that in which the Free Press was estab- 
lished. It is among the ablest and most influential journals in the 
East, conducted with remarkable vigour, and animated always by the 

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4-38 Anor(h>ial TTisiiory of Ringaporp 

spirit of genuine liberality. It has made, indeed, a European repu- 
tation — among all, I meiin, who turn their attention to the politics, 
commerce, or social progress of the British Settlements in that remoto 
quarter of the world/' Another writer said in that year: — "The 
Singapore Free Preas is the most noted paper in the East. Tlie 
central position from which it is pnblished enables it to command the 
best intelligence from China, Australia and the Islands, for which 
reason a collection ot the late numbers is the most acceptable present 
in an Indian port. Its liberal and rational views, just and moderate 
arguments, and the total absence of any little party spirit or prejudice, 
give it higher claims on our esteem, and render it decidedly one of 
the first British Colonial Journals." 

On the 15th July, appeared the first number of the Straits Ttmes. 
It had been advertised as a new Journal to be issued on the morning 
of Tuesday, the I5th July, and to be continued weekly. The printing 
material had been ordered from England by Mr. Marterius Thaddeus 
Apcar, of Apcar and Stephens, of Singapore, with the intention of 
starting a newspaper with Mr. Edwards as Editor; but he had died, 
and then the firm of Apcar and Stephens suspended payment, and 
Mr. Gilbert McMicking was the Assignee of their estate. Mr. Catchick 
Moses, to oblige Mr. Apcar, took over the printing material, and Mr. 
R. C. Woods came from Bombay looking for employment, having 
been obliged to leave there, and started the paper as Editor. It was 
not a financial success at first, and Mr. Moses, after a year or so, 
gave up his connection wn'th it, letting the price he had paid to Mr. 
Apcar go against the deficiency, and Mr. Woods carried it on. It 
consisted of eight folio pages, the snb«criptinTi was $1.75 a month, or 
516 a year. The following is the commencement and some passages 
from the opening article: — 

"Good morning to you, kind reader! So you expect from us 
some declaration of our ' intentions/ and the course we intend pursuing in 
the management of the Straitfi Timps? Like a candidate for other 
honours than those we now seek, we proceed to declare our senti- 
ments, whilst we aver the honourableness of our intentions. We have 
mounted our FagasuHy which is a quiet and well-disposed animal, such 
indeed as a gentleman of a certain age (like ourselves) ought to ride. 
We desire to travel smoothly along, and therefore pray the * powers 
that be,^ to keep the road of public economy in an efficient state; 
never allowing the ruts to get too deep, nor placing obstructions in 
the middle of the way, because our Pegasus is apt to shy, it might 
kick, or do even greater violence. We have said our quadruped 
possesses a good disposition, may it not be rrahhp.d. What Tristam 
Shandy said of his Neddy, so say we of ours : — ' It is, if you recollect, 
a quiet beast, he has scarce a hair or lineament of the a*« about him.' 
We have gone astride on him frequently 'to canter it away from the 
cares and solicitudes of life' — now jogging, trotting, galloping; now 
* going it ' with the fleetness of an Arab. The hean ideal of a good- 
tempered animal, our Pegiums will be found to prick his ears and laugh or 
neigh as modestly as Aunt Cleary — but no more. We promise that its 
past training will not altogether be lost upon it, and, in the disinterested 
sympathy of our hearts, wish ourselves a pleasant ride of it," 


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1845. 439 

In the middle of November, it tamed into an issue twice a week, 
on Wednesdays and Saturdays, of four folio pages; but in January, 
1849, it returned to its former mode of publication and appeared once 
a week only, on Wednesdays. 

There was some correspondence in the newspaper about the 
keeping of St. Andrew^s Day, which led to a Ball and Supper at 
the New Public Booms (no doubt, including the new theatre) at 
which Messrs. Charles Carnie, 0. A. Dyce, Lewis Eraser, Alexander 
Guthrie, Dr. Robert Little, R. McEwen, William Napier, Archibald 
and Charles Spottiswoode, and J. Stephen were the Stewards. The 
paper remarked that the Raffles Club, which had existed in the 
early days from 1825 to 1835, ought to be revived, as they used to 
have very animated festivities on the anniversary of the Settlement 
and other annual celebrations. 

On the 25th November the Theatre which had been built by 
Subscription at the Assembly Rooms at the foot of Fort Canning, was 
opened with a comedy and a farce. The prices were §2 and Jl, 
and the performance began at 8 o'clock. There is no description of 
the building, but the paper said tha^ the stage was larger than 
that at the old theatre, which was in Dutrenquoy's Hotel, the Drop 
Scene, painted by one of the Amateurs, most likely Mr. Charles 
Dyce, was a view of Singapore from Sandy Point. There was an 
Araatenr Orchestra, which was highly praised. 

The following passages are part of an account of the progress 
of Singapore in the year 1845, which was written at the close of 
the year: — 

"A new importance has been attached to Sinsrapore during the 
past year from its having become the focus where steamers from 
different places periodically congregate with news from Europe and 
various quarters of the Far East. During the present year, these 
ramifications are likely to be increased by lines to Australasia and 
Manila. The Calcutta line, though for the present apparently sus- 
pended, will not, in all probability, be long unoccupied either by 
the Peninsular and Oriental Navigation Company or some other 
association, who will not fail to derive a handsome profit from it. 
The discovery of extensive beds of good coal in Borneo, adapted 
for the use of steamers, is of much importance, and will greatly 
facilitate the perfecting of the arrangements for steam navigation in 
this quarter of the world. Though nothing definite has transpired as 
to the results of Capt. Bethune's recent mission to Borneo, there is 
every reason to believe that during the present year a British 
Settlement will be formed in Borneo. 

It is a subject of much congratulation to find, on casting a 
glance over our columns for the past year, that there exists almost 
no record of any cases of piracy in our harbour similar to those 
which, a year or two ago, were so frequent in occurrence and so 
detrimental to our native trade. This change has been brought 
about by the activity of Her Majesty^s and the East India 
Company^s vessels of war, which have always been on the alert, 
and is, no doubt, also greatly due to the terrible lessons read to 
the pirates of Borneo during the past and the preceding years by 


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410 Anecdotal History of 8ingo/pore 

His Excellency the Admiral, the Hon. Capt. Keppel, Sir E. Belcher. 
&c. The native traders may now resort to our port, even though 
unarmed like the Cochin-Chinese, with very little dread of violence 
by the way. 

"The local Authorities having discovered that slave-dealing- existed 
to a considerable extent in some of the neighbouring States, aecom- 
pained by circumstances of much cruelty, have exerted themselves 
with much success in rescuing the unfortunate victims of it, and 
endeavouring to suppress the traffic. 

"The recent visit of the H C. steam-vessel Phlegethon to Cochin- 
China has manifested the favourable disposition of the English, acd 
Cochin-Chinese Governments towards each other, and may have tb^ 
tendency to encourage the resort of Cochin-Chinese trading vessels t*j 
this port, an event which the suppressing of piracy, from which the 
unarmed Cochin-Chinese traders who ventured to come to Singapore 
used to suffer so severely, may help to promote. 

"In regard to more purely local subjects, the Post Office has been 
improved to meet the enlarged demands upon it, consequent on the 
extension of the overland steam arranorements to this port. It is still 
susceptible of much improvement, which will, no doubt, be effected 
during the present year. Renewed efforts are being made by the local 
Authorities and the mercantile body to procure the erection of a light-house 
at the South entrance of Singapore Straits, 'i^he heavy loss of property, 
even during the past year, attributable in a great measure to the want of 
such a conspicuous guide by day as well as by night, is an unanswer- 
able argument both for its necessity and speedy erection. 

" A majority of the Chamber of Commerce have declared an opinion 
in favour of the introduction of an Insolvent law into the Settle- 
ment — an opinion which is acquiesced in by the great majority of 
traders, European and Native. Unless, however, the Indian Law Com- 
missioners are prepared with their general scheme of an Insolvent law 
for India, there is no probability of an Insolvent law being introduced 
into the Straits during the present year, as the existing Insolvent law 
in operation at the Presidencies is acknowledged to be defective, and 
the Supreme Government would therefore, we presume, be unwilling to 
sanction its application to the Straits, since the amended scheme for 
the whole of India will probably be ready in the course of a year 
or two. 

" A considerable number of local improvements have been effected 
during the past year, the chief of which may be indicated as the ex- 
tension of the roads in the interior. The line known as the Kranjie 
road, extending from Bukit Timah to the Old Straits, about 8 miles in 
length, was completed during the past year, and is now very exten- 
sively used by the gambier and pepper cultivators on the line for con- 
veying their wares to town, instead, as heretofore, of transporting 
them round by the Straits in large boats. A similar line of road 
has been commenced from within a short distance of Singapore to a 
different part of the Old Straits, which promises to be a most useful 
as well as an exceedingly picturesque road. This road is the first 
the construction of which has been commenced by private contractors 
in terms of the permission accorded by the Supreme Government 

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1845. 441 

some months ago. The contractors and labourers are all Chinese, 
and they are found to make the roads much more quickly, as well 
as cheaply, than has ever been effected by means of convict labour. 
The funds from which these roads are to be constructed are 
those derived from the sale of the Government lands, and we sup- 
pose that provisions have been, or will be, made from this source 
for keeping these and the other country roads in repair, otherwise 
they will soon become comparatively useless. It is hopeless to look 
to the assessments for this purpose, as they are found barely 
adequate to keep up the present avowedly inefficient Police force 
and effect the imperfect cleansing of the town. Besides, it does 
not seem at all fair to tax the inhabitants of the town for keeping 
up the roads in the country, and, therefore, until the increase and 
extension of cultivation allow of the levy of an assessment adequate 
for the purpose, which may perhaps be about 20 or 30 years 
hence, the roads ought to be kept up out of the proceeds of the 
land sales, which the making of roads is calculated greatly to 

'* Improvements in town also proceed apace. Many — or we may 
say with truth, most — of the old wooden houses which in the 
beginning of the year gave such a ruinous and decaying look to 
the town, have now been replaced by handsome and substantial 
looking brick houses, and, ere many months more have passed, the 
principal streets bid fair to shew nothing but brick edifices, con- 
fining the wooden erections to the poorer parts of the town. The 
Seamen^s Hospital has been finished and opened for the reception of 
patients; and Tock Seng's Hospital is approaching completion. A 
large space of ground, heretofore a swamp overflowed by the tide, 
and known to older residents by the name of Kampong Malacca, 
has been partially filled up and laid out into building lots, which 
will, no doubt, be exposed to sale during this year. A commodious 
public market [Ellenborough Market] is being constructed in this 
quarter, and Tan Tock Seng is far advanced with the erection of 
an extensive range of shops on a uniform plan and with more pre- 
tensions to architectural beauty than the general run of such houtiques. 
This quarter is to bear the name of ''Ellenborough Buildings!" 
The improvements on Government Hill, comprehending the enlarge- 
ment of the burying ground, are now nearly completed, and will 
add much to the beauty of this part of Singapore. A want of 
sufficient drainage is still apparent in many places in and near town, 
and there are one or two noisome swamps in town the fillin*^ up of 
which with wholesome earth would greatly conduce to the comfort 
and health of the inhabitants. 

"The trade of the Settlement during the past year must, on the 
whole, be pronounced to have been prosperous; but it has been the 
quiet, monotonous prosperity of steady, moderate, or even low prices, 
with little of the excitement of speculation, or large losses balanced 
by large profits, which has so often prevailed in former years. The 
story told by the shop-keepers and small native dealers is that they 
have to encounter much rivalry for small profits, but at the same 
time their profits have been tolerably certain, affording, with judicious 


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442 Anpcdofal History of Singapore 

management, a fair price for their labour and a fair return for ther 
capital, which is generally of a very limited nature. 

"The importing merchants and extensive native dealers give nearlj 
the same report as regards their trade; the more sanguine and specalatire 
will pronounce 1845 to have been a bad year, while the plodding and 
steady will probably admit it to have been " not so bad." Ic? 
characteristic may be said to have been low prices and want of 

"It would be at best a delicate task to enter upon the mora, 
statistics of the Settlement, and in this place it would not be mud 
use as the changes which one year can effect must be very slight 
indeed. We may notice, however, that the Library has been in 
operation for some time past, and that, scanty as are its stores, tk 
increasing number of those wishing to avail themselves of it- 
benefits, augurs well for the intellectual and moral habits of the Earo- 
pean portion of the community. It may, indeed, be remarked thai 
here, as in other parts of India, an evident change is taking place 
in the general tone of society — a change which the diminishing 
number of old stagers deplore and exclaim against, while the receLi 
arrivals from Europe are somewhat surprised and pleased to find 
here so little difference from the tone of good society among the 
middle classes at home. The regular and rapid intercourse now 
maintained with the Mother Country, by tending to keep alive home 
feelings and affections, and the constant supply of new intellectual 
food which every mail brinies, keeping the sojourner in India almost 
on a par with those at home as regards the literature and science 
of the passing day, must contribute materially to bring about thi? 

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1846. 443 


IN March, a fire broke out in Market Street, at ten o'clock at 
^^g^^9 just behind the Square. The Police gongs were beaten 
and the bell of St. Andrew's Church was rung. There was no 
water to be got for some time, and a deal of thievinsj went on. A 
general store of Ching Wan & Co. was burned down, also a godown 
of Chin Sing & Co., full of rattans, but as there was no wind, the fire 
was then stopped. The necessity of some organization like a Fire 
Brigade was again prominently discussed, but it was not formed. 

The following is an account of a Hoey riot in March, which 
caused a good deal of talk at the time: — "On Tuesday last, the 
town of Singapore was comparatively in a state of siege, in conse- 
quence of some apprehensions on the part of the authorities that 
disturbances would arise on that day : indulgence in such fears, if 
not in a great measure the working spirit of the commotion, contri- 
hnted greatly to extend it, by causing alarm in tho breasts of the 
quiet, loyal, and well disposed. The Head of the Hoeys, a secret 
jind powerful soHoty of Ohinese, expired nbont eighteen days ago, 
and an application was made last week to tlie Magistrates to grant 
permission to bury the body with due form, procession, and the 
outward display usual on the occasion of the funeral of the chief of 
the order, 'i^he Magistrates consented to allow a procession to be 
formed, provided the number of followers did not exceed one hundred, 
and with the condition that the procession would pass through the 
direct line of road to the burial ground. The Heads of the Hoey 
acquiesced in the arrangement. Early on Tuesday morning, the 
whole Police force was mustered, and was chiefly located near the 
Chinese Temple at Rochor, outside the town. About 10 o'clock 
a.m., information was received at the l^olice Office that several 
thousands of Chinese were assembled in front of the temple at 
Rochor, where the body of the deceased was placed, and that the 
whole of them were resolved on passing through the town, staying 
in such streets of it as they thought proper, to perform ceremonies, and 
alleging that they had received permission from the Resident Councillor 
to proceed the way they listed ; a sanction neither applied for, nor 
likely to be granted. Captain Adam Cuppago, 27th Madras Native 
Infantry, who was Assistant Resident, and Mr. Dunman, Deputy Superin- 
tendent of Police, proceeded to Rochor, expectinsT that by confront- 
ing the procession at the place where it was forbidden to go, they 
would effectually deter the rabble from entering the town. As soon as 
the men with banners in advance of the procession diverged into the 
road leading to Kampong Glam, the Police Magistrates told them tp 


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444 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

halt; they did so. In the meantime a parley was attempted. Capcair 
Cappage remained on the bridge at Roehor, where a party of Police 
peons was stationed, and Mr. Dunman, accompanied by a Chinese 
interpreter, proceeded to the front of the temple. Mr. Danman 
addressed the chiefs of the Hoey and remonstrated with them on their 
want of faith in col lectin of together nearly six thousand persons instead 
of one hundred to follow the body to the grave : they, in reply, declared 
themselves unable to restrict the numbers or control thenci Mr 
Dunman was about to return to consult with Captain Cnppage when s 
Chinese cooly called out ^'Pah-pah," meaning "beat.*' Mr. Dunman 
seized him by the throat, and dragg'ed him away and gave him in 
charge to Captain Cnppage. The latter delivered him over to the 
constables to convey to the Thannah, but on the way a rescue was 
effected. As soon as the cooly was seized, the mob commenC'^ti 
beating the Chinese interpreter with the iron instruments they place 
on their hands, and also jumped upon him. Mr. Dunman retamed t: 
the assistance of the interpreter; with the butt end of a masket c* 
drove off the people that were maltreating the interpreter, and brought 
the latter away in triumph ; an act of humanity and gallantry that can- 
not be too loudly praised. The rescue of the cooly gave an impulse 
to the mass; the procession moved on, each member of the Hoev 
declaring that he would proceed along Kampong 61am. The order 
for the advance was hailed with a general shout, and on thfv 

** Information was sent to the civil authorities stating to what 
length the Chinese had gone, and that the civil force was incapabi*' 
of controlling the mass of people which was now fast increasing, 
threatening the town with pillage and destruction. An express was 
despatched for the troops, who were soon in readiness, and arrived 
in time to prevent the procession passing near the Court House and 
up Hill Street. The avenues thus being closed, the Chinese turned 
down Coleman Street into South Bridge Road, thence over the bridge 
to the burial ground beyond the Cantonment. By the judicious placing 
of the troops at the avenues leading to South Bridge Road, the pro- 
cession was prevented from passing into the town, and, by stopping 
the lines of communication, any addition to the number of followers 
was prevented.*' 

Long letters were written to the paper about the necessity of 
putting down the secret societies, and the peace of the town was 
considerably disturbed for a fortnight, when the Hoeys finally made 
terms with each other. The following proclamation was issued in 
Chinese, and posted up through the town and on the temples: — 

"To the Chinese living in Singapore this notice is given, and 
they are to conform strictly thereto. The practice of assembling in 
large numbers and proceeding along the public roads with flags, music, 
or arms of any description is forbidden, and, if attempted, will be at 
their peril. No processions will be allowed having any connection 
with illegal societies of any description, and should this order be in- 
fringed, all guilty persons will be considered as disturbers of public 
peace, and if, on being duly warned, they fail to disperse, will ba 
treated as such." 

Digitized by 


1846. 445 

The following account of the attack on the house of Mr. 
rixomas Hewetson on Mount Elizabeth, appeared in the paper 
ill April. Mr. Hewetson was a clerk to the Magistrates, and the 
event is still remembered in Singapore, although the particulars are 
forgotten : — 

*' On the night of the 30th March, a most daring and successful 
gang robbery was perpetrated in the house of Mr. T. Hewetson, 
about two miles from town. The house is situated on an eminence in his 
pla.rLtation, which is completely surrounded by a large hedge. It 
appears that a gang of 200 Chinese proceeded to Mr. Hewetson^s a 
little after midnight, and after taking the most deliberate precautions 
by posting sentinels at the entrance into the plantation from the 
public road, the main body proceeded to the house, where they over- 
powered the watchman and other persona near the premises, beating and 
dispersing them. They then surrounded the house, which is a bunga- 
low built of wood upon high posts. Mr. Hewetson, who had not 
long retired to rest, heard, between half-past 12 and 1 o'clock, a 
great noise under the house, stamping of feet and clashing of sticks, 
and his men calling out " China, China." This continued for about 
8 or 10 minutes before tbe Chinese came up to the back verandah 
of the house, where tliey commenced battering at the door opening 
into the veraydah, which was secured by a strong wooden bar. 
While they were trying to break in, Mr. Hewetson fired through the 
door, and continued doing so as fast as he could load, which kept 
them in check for about 20 minutes. They then succeeded in making 
an opening in the door of about one inch and a half by six inches, 
through which they thrust their spears, endeavouring to enlarge the 
opening, Mr. Hewetson at the same time firing through upon the 
robbers. In about ten minutes more the door was almost shattered to 
pieces, when Mr. Hewetson retired with his family to a loft in the top 
of the house to which access is had by a trap door. The Chinese, 
being undisturbed, soon broke the outer door, and at once proceeding 
to the door of a small room in which Mr. Hewetson kept his 
money and plate, &c., they quickly forced it and broke open a 
number of boxes, almeirahs, &c., from which they abstracted about 
400 dollars, silver spoons, clothes, a box containing a number of 
papers, &c., &c. Having thus effected their purpose, they immediately 
left the house, being saluted by a parting shot of slugs from a blun- 
derbuss, and would appear to have immediately separated, as Mr. 
Gilbert Angus, who lives about half a mile from the spot, and had 
been awakened by the shots and screams of the female members of 
Mr. Hewetson^s family, on going up with some of his men, met about 
15 armed with sticks coming from Mr. Hewetson^s who, on his calling 
on them to stop, prepared to attack him, on which he fired a pistol, 
which appeared to drop one of them, and, drawing his sword rushed 
under their guard and endeavoured to cut some of them down. He 
was, however, immediately assailed by all the number, and receiving 
some severe blows on his head, shoulders, and hands, he was stunned, 
and dropped his sword, on which the men immediately made off. This 
was the only resistance, independent of that offered by Mr. Hewetson 
and his people, which they encountered, although it was near two 


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446 Afiecdotal History of Singapore 

o'clock before they left the house, as the Police did not arrir^ 
until some time afterwards. 

" They would appear to have proceeded with their attack with tfcf 
utmost coolness and confidence. The room in which Mr. Hewetson &kb>: 
when firing through the door was lighted by a lamp, which enableti 
the robbers to watch his movements. There were traces of blood r: 
the verandah and on the ground, so that some persons mnst havf 
been wounded, but to what extent is of course unknown. We ar^ 
informed that the Klings, Malays, Javanese and other Natives resid- 
ing in a circuit to the North West and South of Mr. HewetiOL- 
were aware at 11 o'clock p.m., that something was in the wind, j-- 
they state that they heard the concerted signals made by ik- 
(Chinese for assembling." 

Three Chinese were convicted of being concerned in the ganj:- 
robbery, and the Recorder sentenced them to transportation : 
Bombay for fourteen years, and, in passing sentence, dwelt at leugt: 
on the dangcrouii and unlawful nature of the secret societies y^ii: 
which it had been proved the prisoners were connected. 

The house was the first built on Mount Elizabeth, near the top of 
the hill at the right hand side of the road. There is an attap bungalc«r 
still on the site, which is quite closely surrounded by tile-roofed 

In consequence of the Chinese riots, a proposal was made t^< 
establish a Volunteer Force, but it was not realised for nearly ten 
years afterwards. 

At the Assizes in April, the Grand Jury in their preseutmem 
complained of the state of the Police, and of the continuance <: 
certain nuisances in the town, such as the swamp in front of the gv^ii 
and the broken down foot-bridge. It would have attracted no particn- 
lar notice but for the extraordinary behaviour of the Governor, Colonti 
Butterworth, who, as was usual in those days, sat on the Bench, as 
one of the Judges, with the Recorder, Sir William Norris. Tht 
Governor complained of the Grand Jury having spoken of the Police 
as disgraceful y and of other matters as unfair on the part of Govern- 
ment, lost his temper, threw the blame of any delay or shortcoming? 
on the Bengal Government, and went into a long tirade on the subject 
of his own devotion, zeal and energy for the welfare of the Settlements 
It was an explosion which caused a great deal of talk, and was spoken 
of as an '^extraordinary performance, which, for the sake of the 
dignity of the Bench, as well as of public functionaries, it was hoped 
we ne'er may look upon its like again." 

The following extract from the Free, Freuft is interesting as the 
recommencement of the gambling farm argument : — 

*'0n the 29th April, Charles Cashin, formerly a police constable, 
was found guilty of having received bribes from the keepers uf 
gambling shops, to connive at their existence, and on the Ist instant, 
was brought up to receive sentence. The Hon^ble the Recorder, in 
passing sentence, said that it had been fully proved that the prisoner 
had been guilty of a gross neglect of duty, it appeared that he was 
well acquainted with the extensive gambling which was carried on, he 
knew of it, and ought to have informed against it that it might hare 


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1846. 447 

bten put dowu, instead of which he received a bribe to sanction its 
continuance. The Court must therefore pass sentence upon him. It 
has been asserted by the public journals that it was impossible to 
put down gambling : his Lordship could not agree with them ; he did 
uot see the impossibility; he thought it could be put a stop to if 
the police did their duty. It was only through the corruption of the 
police that such sinks of iniquity were permitted to exist. If the 
constables were honest men, the evil would be put a stop to, but 
lie must declare his opinion that not only the prisoner but all the 
constables had been guilty of receiving bribes for conniving at this 
>ystem. (The prisoner here interrupted his Lordship and said that 
lur three years past all the constables had received J20 each monthly, 
from the keepers of the gambling shops, that the evidence against 
liiin was all false, and that the constable who had brought the charge 
against him had himself received bribes. It was a conspiracy against 
him to deprive him of his situation, and get it for another person.) 
The Bccordcr then proceeded to say that he believed they were all 
implicated, and that if they did their duty, gambling might be put 
down. If the constables had any honesty they would come forward 
and confess their fault, and he was sure their doing so would be in 
their fdvour, -if they resolved on pursuing a better course in future. 
The prisoner Charles Cashin was then sentenced to be imprisoned for 
eighteen mouths, and to pay a fine of 1,000 dollars, and to be further 
iuuprisoned until the fine was paid. 

Some of the constables present then came forward and represented 
that they felt much hurt at his Lordship^s observations regarding them. 
They denied their guilt, and said that they had endeavoured to put 
down the gambling shops, but that an order had been issued forbidding 
them to interfere with them ! His Lordship said he thought there must be 
some mistake, he could not think how such an extraordinary order 
could have been jjiven, but even if it had, it was their duty to dis- 
regard it, and to enforce the law. The constables explained that the 
order was verbal. 

Mr. Dunman, Deputy Superintendent of Police, was then sent for, 
and admitted that such an order had been given. It was not given 
by him, but by Major Low, the former Superintendent of Police. 
Previously, orders had been given to the police to put down the 
irambling shops, and to stimulate them to do their duty und to counteract 
the effect of the bribery on the part of the keepers of the gambling 
>hops, the police had been promised half of whatever money was 
found upon the table. They had accordingly gone to work, but it was 
found that the whole time of the police was engrossed by it to the 
total neglect of their other duties, and it was therefore found necessary 
to annul the order. In reply to an observation from the Recorder, Mr. 
Dunman said he considered it impossible to put down the gambling 
shops. They had communications with the neighbouring houses so 
that the persons engaged could always make their escape, but he 
thought the most insuperable obstacle was in the power which the 
uccpers of the gambling shops possessed of corrupting the police. The 
Recorder observed that that was the very thing he thought ought to 
be remedied ; the police ought to be honest. Mr. Dunman said with a 


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448 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

native police it was impossible, where could you get an honest nati?? 
of the grade of a policeman? The police were in the regular pay cf 
the keepers of the gambling shops, and it could not be prevented witL 
the large means of bribery which the gambling shops in Singapore 
one hundred and ninety-one in number, afforded." 

It appears from the following passage that gambling was permittee 
at the Chinese New Year : — 

^'The active measures taken against the gambling shops in conse- 
quence of the Recorder's remarks, have had a most serious effect upc.i 
the Revenue Farms, the Opium and Spirit Farms especially, the ^ente^ 
of which have experienced a very large decrease in their sales. Sue: 
an effect was to be anticipated, and perhaps a knowledge of this Hai 
been the cause of the leniency with which the gambling shops hare 
heretofore been treated. It is well known that it is at the instance d 
the Opium and Spirit Farmers, that the fortnight's license for opei 
gambling at the Chinese New Year is granted by those in authoriij 
Would it not be better to have a gambling farm at once, than all the^: 
miserable shifts and inconsistencies, apparent disapprobation, and virtiu. 
countenance ?'' 

In July, a suggestioiL was again made to establish a Savings Bank. 
which Sir Benjamin Mulkiu had advocated in 1833. There was soms 
correspondence on the subject, but nothing was done. 

There is a tablet in St. Andrew^s Cathedral to Captain Maitlani 
R.N., as is said on page 298. The following is an extract from a 
lengthy report in the Free Presa of his services : — 

" We regret having to announce the death of William Maitland. 
Esq., Commander, r.n., at the early age of 44. Captain Maitland, wh: 
has commanded H. M. steamer Spiteful on the Indian Station for the 
last three years, was a nephew of the late Earl of Lauderdale, and 
also of the late Admiral Sir Frederick Maitland, entered the Roval 
Navy at an early age, and during the earlier part of his career serve*! 
for several years in the West Indies, where he was actively employed 
against the pirates. In 1841, when 1st Lieutenant of the BenbotCy h 
distinguished himself in the operations on the coast of Syria, and fo? 
his services there received his promotion as Commander. In December. 
1842, Captain Maitland commissioned the steamer Spiteful, and arrived 
on the Indian Station in August, 1843. Since his arrival in the East 
he has been actively employed in various parts of the Station — in 
China, in India, and in the Archipelago. During the late war, in the 
Punjaub, the Spiteful was employed in conveying troops to varioas 
points, and only a month or two ago, in Borneo, Captain Maitland's 
duties were laborious and incessant. The flag of Rear-Admiral Sir J. 
T. Cochrane, was hoisted on board the Spiteful during the ascent of 
the river Bruni and the attack on the capital, and it is supposed that 
the fatigue which Captain Maitland underwent on this occasion may 
have assisted in bringing on the attack which carried him off. The 
Spiteful came up here from Borneo with despatches, and on the news 
being received of the wreck of the Frederick IV,, a few days after the 
steamer^s arrival, she immediately proceeded to the spot to render 
assistance. The exposure and fatigue which Captain Maitland here 
underwent brought on a return of bilious remittent fever, under which 

Dinitiyprl h\/ 


1846. 449 

he had suffered severely about two years previously; the attack was of 
a most severe nature, and althousrh at one time he rallied, and hopes 
were entertained of his recovery, these proved fallacious, and he sunk 
under the strength of the disease, having expired on hoard his vessel 
in the roads at midnight on Monday, 11th August." 

The proceedings of the English Government and Mr. Brooke in 
Borneo, were attracting considerable attention in Europe at this time, 
the recent volumes of Captain Keppel — " The Narrative of the Expedi- 
tion to Borneo of H M. S. Dido*' — having placed the whole subject 
in a clearer and more distinct light than formerly, and shown what 
were the precise objects which the English Government, or rather its 
agent. Mr. Brooke, had in view. The Dutch journals were filled ^vith 
violent denunciations of the faithlessness of England, which was accused, 
in the negotiations regarding Labuan, &c., of having violated the treaty 
of 1824, and they called for an instant vindication of the rights of 
Holland; the English journals, on the other hand, generally upheld the 
necessity of our occupying Labuan, though some of tliom sided with 
the Dutch in their interpretation of the treaty of 1824, but contended 
that it did not apply to that part of Borneo to which our operations were 
confined; the French journals held the balance and arbitrated between 
the two parties. The subject was discussed in a lively and acute manner 
in the French periodical, the Revue des Deux Mcyndn-s, of I5th May. 

It appears from a remark in the newspaper in June, that the 
neighbourhood of Mount Elizabeth was notorious for tigers at this time. 
The police peons making their rounds in Orchard Road one Sunday 
night, disturbed a tiger close to the road at Mr. Hewetson's gate, the 
present entrance to Mount Elizabeth. 

It was in that year that the fire-wells were made near the Square, 
which were adopted as a precautionary measure in consequence of the 
frequency of fires, and the total absence of water at low tide. They 
were filled up twenty years ago. They were large wells in the centre of 
the roads, several in the Square and Malacca Street, covered by square 
plank flap-doors, which lay level with the road. 

In Java, at this time, slavery was still openly recognised, and in the 
Java Courant advertisements of men, women and children for sale were 
mixed up with sales of horses, wine, &c. The Free, Prrss printed some 
of these advertisements as an example ; the following is one of them : — 
To be sold by private contract; a family of very good slaves coneistinj^ 
of seven persons ; other intormation will be given by 


Voute & Guerin will, at the auction, on Monday, 11th instant, at Rijswijk, 
sell on account of the estate of the late Mrs. Petel the following slaves, viz. ; — 

Daniong, aged 48 years, cowherd. 

PelOf otherwise Constant ie, aged 37 years, washerman. 

Malative, aged 17i years, lady's maid. 

Mochamatj aged 14.J years, house-boy. 

Antionettay aged 134 years, lady's maid; and 

Selana, aged 2.i years ; 
together with an entirely new Brussells-waggon. 

On Tuesday, the 81st August, the Sword of Honour, which the 
late Sultan of Johore carried with him on state occasions, and which 
was often seen at Government House on the Queen's birthday, was 
presented to the Tnmoongong. The following inscription is on the 


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450 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

sword : — Presented in tlie year 1840 to the Tumoongong of Job ore 
Sree Maliarajali, by Lt.-Col. Biitterworth, c.b., Governor of Prince 
of Wales' Island, Singapore and Malacca, as a testimony of the hi^h 
estimation in which the services of the Sree Maharajah in the suppres- 
sion of piracy are held by the Government of India. The following 
account of the ceremony was written at the time. G-overnment House 
was then where Fort Canning barracks are now : — *' In consequence of 
the assistance rendered by the Tumoonjiifong of Singapore in the sup- 
pression of piracy, the Indian Government determined upon presenting 
His Hiirhness with a Sword. His Honour the Governor, being desirous 
of fulfilling the wishes of the Supreme Government in the most public 
manner, invited nearly the whole of the community to be present at the 
interesting ceremony which took place on 'i'uesday last at the Govern- 
ment House. For the convenience of the public generally, several t>ents 
were pitched on Government Hill, and preparations made on the most 
liberal scale. The natives seemed to consider it a holiday, and at an 
early hour Chinese, Malays, Javanese, Chuliahs, Hindoos, &c., &c., were 
seen swarming into the town from all quarters, and long before the 
appointed hour Government Hill presented a very animated scene. 
Guns were taken from the Battery and placed near the House, two 
companies of the 27th M. N. 1. accompanied by all the Officers and the 
band, were in attendance. 

*' At two o'clock, His Highness left the Court House, accompanied 
by the Resident Councillor, the Sultan of Johore, the Sultan of Lingin, 
Tuanku Jaffar, Major Carthew, &c., and on arriving at the foot of the 
hill proceeded in the Governor's carriage until he reached the guard 
of honour, when he alighted and walked to the Government House, a 
salute being fired. After a short interval, during which His Highness 
was introduced, with his friends, to some of the ladies, the Governor 
handed him to the verandah, the sword being placed on a tnble, and 
opposite the numerous followers of the Tumoongong were arranged. An- 
other salute was fired on presenting the sword. The Tumoongong was 
evidently delighted with the attention of the Governor in inviting the 
ladies, and such a numerous company of gentlemen — including the officers 
of H. N. M. steamer Aferapi, the Military, and Foreign Consuls, &c. — to 
meet him. Shortly after the ceremony. His Highness left with the 
same honours as on his arrival. About 3 o'clock the guests, amounting 
to 90, sat down to a splendid tiffin at the hospitable table of the 
Governor, who spoke as follows : — 

*^*It is almost superfluous to mention the purpose for which we are 
assembled here this morning, and more so to enter into details of the 
rapine and murders formerly committed in these seas by formidable bodies 
of what are justly termed the enemies of all mankind — pirates — now for 
the most part subdued and dispersed by the gallantry of our Navy, 
ever first and foremost to meet danger and difficulty in every shape. 

"'Happily, for some time past, piracy hns been rarely heard of in 
the vicinity of our own shores, and when isolated cases have occurred, 
the perpetrators have generally been apprehended, through the exertions 
of the local authorities, and the able and willing assistance afforded by 
the neighbouring chieftains of Pahang, Tringanu and Lintrin, but ni'>ro 
especially by the powerful aid of His Highness Sree Maharajah, tlit> 


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1846 451 

I'^mnoongong of Johore, to wlioui I am directed to present this sword, 
n testimony of the estimation in which his semces in the suppression 
»f piracy are held by the Government of India. 

^' ' I congratulate you, Sree Maharajah, on the high compliment that has 
been paid to you, and I can assure you that I experience the most deep 
md heartfelt satisfaction in being called upon to present you with this 
token of the esteem of our most just and ever generous Government. 

" ' Let me say a word or two, to one and all of the Malayan and 
Chinese people here assembled. The sole desire of the Government of 
Lndia is, that you should live in peace and happiness, enjoying the 
benefit of the traffic which is carried on with all parts of the Eastern 
Archipelago; but this is impossible if piracy prevail, and I would 
therefore nrge you to exert yourselves to discover and give informa- 
tion of the haunts of these enemies of all mankind, these pirates, if 
any still there be located at Singapore, assuring yourselves in so doing 
of the protection and reward of Government.^ 

" To which the Tumoongong replied ' Colonel Butterworth, in laying 

lit your feet my sincere thanks for the high distinguished honour which 

you have conferred upon me, I am much pleased that my conduct 

should have met with the approbation of Government, and that my 

humble exertions should have been conducive to the welfare of this 

community. Highly do I value this splendid testimonial of your 

approbation, with pride shall I wear it, and as an heir-loom it will be 

handed down to my posterity. My gratitude for the good wishes 

which you have now uttered, it is difficult for me to express, and the 

kind consideration which you have always shown towards me is engraven 

on my heart; with pleasure have I witnessed the zeal with which you 

have carried out so many public improvements, and with admiration 

will future ages view these splendid monuments of your fostering 

care over all classes of this community. You govern wisely ; may you 

govern long, and may He who rules the destinies of Mahometans and 

Christians watch over and aid you in all your wise and good works.' " 

The total receipts of Singapore for the official year 1845-46, 

exclusive of military and convicts, which it was considered should be 

debited to India, amounted to ite. 530,000, and the disbursements to 

ftj. 253,500. The latter included one-third of the Governor's and 

Recorder's salaries and of the expenses of the Colonial steamers, the 

other two-thirds being considered as debited to Penang and Malacca. 

The result of the year was an excess of revenue in Singapore alone of 

fix. 276,492, or about $140,000. The excise farms produced Ba 425,000, 

being R«. 2,500 increase over that of the previous year. 

It was in this year that the Oriental Bank started. Mr. Cargill 
and Mr. Scrymgeour arrived in Singapore on the 8th February, to 
establish the Branch. The head-quarters of the Bank were then at 
Bombay, and branches had already been opened at Calcutta, Ceylon, 
and Hongkong. The following circular was issued in Singapore, and 
business began on the 1st May : — 


Arrangements having been made towards estalJishing a Branch of the 
Oriental Bank in this place, the Office will be open for &;onei*al business on the 1st 
proximo, in the moantime proposals to transact business will be entertained. 


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462 Anecdotal Hvttory of Singapore 


The Bank draws as follows: — 

On the Union Bank of London from on** day sight fixed to six months sight 

On the National Bank of Scotland and branches at one day sight. 

On the Branches of the Provincial Bank of Ireland at one day sight fixed. 

And on Bombay, (>alcutta. Colombo, and China ar any term. 

The Bank undertakes to remit money to Great Britain by each Overland 
Mail, free of charge, for Constituents, at the current Exchange, payable in 
any town where there is a Bank or Banker. 

The Bank has also on hand Bank of England Post Bills in convenient 
Hums for parties proceeding to Europe. 


On Fixed Deposits for three months certain, repayable on thirty days' 
notice, three per cent, per annum. 

Ditto, for six months with ninety days' notice, four per cent, per annum. 

On CuiTent Deposits or Floating Accounts, no interest is allowed, and no 
commisflion charged. 


On Loans and Ca^h Credits 
For 2 months on Deposit of Goods and otlier securities. 11 per cent, per annum. 
For 3 mcmths on Deposit of Goods and other seouritit^s, 12 per cent, per annum. 


On Local Bills and Promissory Notes, 
for 1, 2, and 3 months — 10, 11 and 12 per cent, per annum. 
The rates of advances on Goods an«i other securities, and particular rules 
.i« to cuiTent and other accounts, can at all times be ascertained on application 
at the Office. 

Interim Manager, 
Singapore Branch, 
Commercial Sq^iare, Hist April, 1846. 

In October, the roof of the covered landinj; place which was 
being erected in the river, where tlie landing steps are now near the 
front of the Government Offices, gave way and seriously injured several 
workmen. The pillars were too thin and the roof came down with a 
rush. The paper in speaking of it said of the engineer in charge : — 

" Captain Faber has hitherto been rather unfortunate in his 
architectural and engineering undertakings in Singapore. First, 
Faber's Bridge could not be made to maintain its proper position until 
after several attempts; next, the walls of the new market, after it was 
finished, were found to be cracking most alarmingly in several places, 
owing to the ends of the building proving too heavy in comparison to 
the sides, and, from the treacherous nature of the soil, which had not 
been sufficiently guarded against, beginning to sink very fast. The 
pediments, which were of an ornamental character, were therefore 
obliged to be removed, and the building now presents, when viewed 
from either end, a bald and meagre appearance. The next undertaking 
of any moment was the landing place, wliich has proved equally, or 
more, unlucky. The new gaol, we hope, will afford (Captain Faber an 
opportunity of redeeming his reputation. 

The paper in November contained the following paragraph: — 

'' We have much pleasure in noticing that a place for bathing is 
likely to be fenced in from the harbour in front of the Esplanade, 


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1846. 458 

where the Singaporeans will be enabled to enjoy the delightful 
recreation of sea bathing. A meeting was held on Friday last to 
discuss the subject, and consult about the necessary arrangements, 
when a managing committee was appointed to carry out the views 
of the subscribers. We wish the project all success, and trust it 
will receive all the support that our community can give it.'' The 
proposal was never carried out, but sometimes on moonlight nights as 
late as 1870, a few young people used to go and swim off the centre 
of the Esplanade. 

In November, a meeting was held of gentlemen favourable to 
the establishment of a Scotch Church at Singapore. The meeting took 
place in Little, Cursetjee & Co.'s godowns, and the following is an 
account of what took place: — 

"A meeting of the Scotch Presbyterians was held on Friday, 
the 27th November, for the purpose of taking steps for forming a 
Presbyterian Congregation in Singapore and procuring a Clergyman 
of that denomination to settle amongst them ; G. G. Nicol, Esq., being 
in the Chair. The meeting, which was pretty numerous, was of the 
most satisfactory nature. The following are the resolutions which 
were come to: — 

" 1st. — Proposed by Mr. Stephen and seconded by Mr. Eraser : — That 
for the sake of unanimity the minority accede to the wishes of the 
majority as to the proper plan for securing the services of a Pres- 
bjrterian Clergyman. 

"2nd. — Proposed by Mr. McEwen and seconded by Dr. Little: — 
That the London Missionary Society be requested to select a Clergy- 
man for the European population of Singapore, on the understanding 
that one from any of the Evangelical denominations of Scotch Pres- 
byterians will be cordially received without reference to his particular 
views in regard to Church Government. 

" 3rd. — Proposed by Mr. Thomson and seconded by Mr. Duff : — 
That the following be appointed a Committee to carry out the views 
embodied in the previous resolution, with powers to convene another 
meeting to report their proceedings: Messrs. Nicol, W. Scott, 
Robert McEwen and A. Logan. 

" 4th. — Proposed by Mr. Scott and seconded by Mr. Logan : — 
That the Chairman be requested to intimate to the Revd. Mr. Moule 
that the present movement has not by any means originated in any 
feeling of personal dissatisfaction with him, and that nothing but a 
preference ifor a Clergyman of their own denomination would induce 
the meeting to take the present step. 

"Thanks were then voted to the Chairman, and the meeting 

"The Committee, we understand, have taken steps to accomplish 
the duties confided to them, and, after the departure of the Europe 
mails, will commence ascertaining the extent of funds which will be 
available for the furtherance of the scheme. There can be no doubt 
that those who are in ability to do so, will subscribe liberally ; and we 
should think that it will be very gratifying to those old Singaporeans 
who are Presbyterians, who have retired from the Settlement with com- 
petencies, to have it in their power to assist in securing for their 


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454 Anecdotal Hiaiory of Singapore 

country meu who have yet to pass a long period in the place, the ai:l 
and comfort which a clergyman of their own persuasion imparts, and 
the absence of which must have often been to them a source of regrei. 
Should it be necessary to appeal to the community generally, the larg»= 
contributions made by the Presbyterians towards the erection of ^t. 
Andrew's will, no doubt, be a motive with their brethren of the Churcb 
of England to the exercise of a similar liberality in purse and feeling.** 
In December, Captain Rodney Mundy, R.N., carried ont a brief 
negotiation with the Sultan of Brunei, and the following* treaty wa- 
made for the cession of Labuan; the island was formally taken posses- 
sion of oil the 24th December : — 

** 1. Peiico, friendship, and good understanding shall subsist for ever betwern 
Her Majesty the Queen of Gi-eat Britain and Ireland, and his Highness tL- 
Sultan of BovDeu, and their respective heirs and successors. 

*• 2. His Higliness the Sultan hereby cedes in full sovereignty and propert;. 
to Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, her heirs and eucce^ 
sors, for ever, the island of Tiabuan and its dependencies, the islets adjacent. 

"3. The Government of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and 
Ireland hereby engage, in consideration of the cession above specified, to us^ 
it« best endeavours to suppress piracy and to protect lawful commerce, and 
the Sultan of Borneo and his ministers promise to afford every assistance to 
the British authorities. 

** Done and concluded at Brune the 18th day of December, 1846. 
( „ ) G. RODNEY MUNDY.' 

There is a copy in the Library of Captain G. Rodney Mundv's 
book, published by Murray in 1848, called " A Narrative of Events in 
Borneo and the Celebes from the Journals of Sir James Brooke, and 
An Account of the Cruise of H. M. S. Isw" He died as Admiral of the 
Fleet on the retired list about 1884. The book contains a picture of tht 
signing of the treaty of 18th December. Captain Mundy was sixteer 
months in command of the squadron in the Straits and on the Coast of 
Borneo. His book contains a good deal about Captain Keppel and the 
Dido, which he says (page 100) made the quickest run on record from 
the Straits to En^jland. He speaks of the kindness he met with froin 
Mr. W. H. Read and Dr. Oxley, and of Captain Charles Morgan 
Elliot having remained two months with him at Sarawak, having taken 
over his observatory and all the apparatus of a man of science (page 
385). There are a number of pictures in the two volumes. 

The Free Press every year contained a long account of the annual 
examination of the Raffles Institution School, this year occupying 
nearly half of the matter in one issue. In 1846 it was conducted by 
the clergy and a gentleman from Sir l^homas Cochrane^s flagship, the 
Agincourty and some of the boyi^' papers are printed, of which the 
following is one, which will amuse some of our readers now, as the 
same ** author^' gave two lectures in 187b, which were printed, entitled 
"Singapore Thirty Years Ago^' which contained very much more 
interesting and useful information than Mr. George Norris's first 
attempt thirty-five years before at describing the Settlements: — 

" Singapore is a small island to the south of the Malayan 
Peninsula, and it is separated from it by a narrow strait. The 
principal productions of this island are nutmegs, gambier and sago. 
Theie are many Chinese here and one-fourth of them are said to be 


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1846. 455 

robbers. Large junks come from China once a year to Singapore for 
the purpose of trade. Many of the Chinese are employed as carpenters. 
This island was discovered by Sir T. S. Raffles^ late Governor of 
Bencoolen, and bought for a sum of money from the Malays. It is 
now a flourishing seaport, but since the war with China, Singapore 
has declined a little in commerce.'' 

It was in this year that a long-remembered practical joke took 
place. The Editor of the newly established Straits Times boasted that 
he had the earliest information of every possible event, which was not 
the opinion of the community. One day he announced in his paper 
that he had received certain information from a Calcutta Opium clipper 
which passed through without anchoring, about the result of the recent 
opium sale; but as the Captain of the vessel had requested him to 
keep it secret he could not reveal it to the public until after the arrival 
of the next clipper. Now the opium market was worth watching in 
those days, and the movements of vessels carrying it either from 
Bombay or Calcutta were pretty well known, and the clipper that 
passed through could not possibly have had the news of the sale, 
as she had left Calcutta lonur before it took place. Two days after- 
wards, the Antelope, Captain Dumaresque, from Bombay, passed through, 
having left Bombay before the news of the sale could have reached 
there. So, as a number of merchants were looking at her, it was 
suggested to sell the Editor, and the joke being appreciated, a note 
was drawn up purporting to be written by the Captain of the Antelope 
with the result of the sale, &c., &c., and signed P. Dumaresk. The 
prices given were three hundred rupees over the probable sale prices, 
and the captain's name was spelt wrong, but the editor did not stop 
to consider this. A sampan boy was called for, and his part of the 
play explained to him; so he jumped into the water (there was no sea 
wall then) gave his clothes a squeeze, and ran to the Editor's godown. 
He opened the letter, gave five dollars to the boy (who bolted at once) 
rushed to the printing press, and announced to the astonished Square 
that he had been placed through the kindness of Captain Dumaresque 
in posses.sion of the result, &c., &c. The sampan boy ran back to the 
jokers, who added a few more dollars to his store and sent lym away 
to Pulo Damar, his home, for a fortnight. In the meantime the con- 
spirators sent round the Square to tell all likely to be interested about 
the joke, so that no false speculation should take place, and when 
the famous slip came out all were prepared. The Editor, furious, 
inserted the following parasrraph in the Straits Times, which made 
the joke all the better, and the writer went to see the '^ forged 
note," and to earn the fifty dollars. if he could recognise the writing, 
but he didn't ! The Editor soon learnt all about it, and did not 
raise another lau^h against himself by trying to hang anybody, and 
became quieter afterwards. 

"The late Opium Sale. — In a postscript to our last issue, we 
inserted what purported to be an account of the fourth Calcutta Opium 
Sale, addressed to us with the signature of Captain P. Dumaresque, 
late of the Antelope. In our anxiety to maintain the character of 
our journal for early intelligence, we gave insertion to the postcript 
which was received by us at an early hour : having experienced 


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456 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

kind favours at the hands of the Commanders of American vessels, 
we were led to believe that the note in question was genuine. We 
subsequently shewed the letter of Captain Dumaresque to Mr. 
Balestier, the American Consul, who at once pronounced the docu- 
ment to be a forgery. Prom this circumstance the note appeared to 
be a hoax, apparently written by some one in Singapore for the 
purpose not only of deceiving us, but also misleading the public. 
The affair, although perpetrated as a hoax, is a much more serious 
matter than the writer in his ignorance and affrontery suspected, 
and, under the old law, if proved against him would have subjected 
him to what he deserved — the gallows. In the present state of 
the law, the author of a forgery is liable to transportation for life, 
an amount of punishment richly deserved. 

"We have endeavoured to trace the note in question to the 
source whence it emanated, without, at present success; but we do 
not yet despair of discovering the scoundrel who villainously suggested 
the hoax. To facilitate the enquiry, we hereby offer a reward of 
fifty dollartiy payable on conviction of the party ; for the informa- 
tion of the public, as well as to aid in the detection of the offender, 
we also notify that the forged note is open for inspection at our office. 
We are led to adopt the above course, not only on account of the 
enormity of the offence committed, but also in justice not merely 
to Captain Dumaresque, but all Commanders of American Clippers 
from whom we have invariably received every kindness, and a prompti- 
tude in convoying information worthy of the gentleman-like conduct 
and spirit of the worthy commanders of American Opium Clippers.^^ 

The practical joker was Mr. W. H. Read; reference to it will 
be found at page 136 of his little book "Play and Politics/' 

In this year was published in London Captain the Hon. Henry 
Keppers "Narrative of the Expedition to Borneo of H. M. S. Dido 
for the suppressif)n of piracy ; with extracts from the Journal of 
James Brooke, Ksq., of Sarawak." The book is in the Library. 
The Free Presa had long extracts from it, and spoke very highly 
of it. 

In this year also a small book of 812 pages was published in 
Leadenhall Street, London, by Madden and Malcolm, called Trade and 
Travel in the Far East or Recollections of 21 years passed in Java, 
Singapore, Australia and China. It was written by Gordon Forbes? 
Davidson. There is no copy in the Library. He was in business for 
a time in Singapore, but not much is known of him, he lived where 
the Bethesda now stands in Bras Bassah Road, and was lame, one leg 
being short. There is an advertisement in the h'ree Press on 18th 
February, 1840, that he had started business as Davidson & Co., as a 
merchant and general agent. He left England, the book tells us, in 
1823 for Java, and came to Sin^^'apore for the first time in July, 1826; 
and speaks of it as being in a- lovely situation, and of great prosperity, 
but he was of opinion that the trade had reached its maximum and 
that the town had attained its highest point of importance and pro- 
sperity, and as its being a beautiful and healthy town, but over-built. 
His misgivings as to the trade arose from the recent establishment of 
Hongkong, and the opening of the China ports, which he thought 


ized by Google 

1846. 457 

would divert the trade that came to Sintjapore, in the same way as 
tlie eiitablishmeut of Singapore had very much injured Penang, giving 
to the streets there a deserted appearance which he thought they would 
never recover. His views, which events have proved to be unfounded, 
Iiave from time to time been expressed by others, and the volume of 
'rade and the value of property have been thought to have reached 
their highest, but still its prosperity continues to grow. The book 
speaks about Captain Keppel in the Dido and Sir James Brooke, 
then Mr. James Brooke, putting down the pirates in Borneo, and 
i)f the recent discovery of coal there. Also of heavy losses to the 
European merchants in Singapore by the unlimited credit given to 
tlie Chinese traders, and of an attempt, frequently suggested since, 
l)ut not practicable, of insisting on a cash system. He wrote highly 
of the healthy climate of the place, saying that the European 
residents of sixteen and twenty years standing spoke volumes for it, 
;ind that during eighteen years in this part of the world he had 
never known any endemic disease to prevail, and that the cemetery 
was filled by the death of people from India, who came for health, 
and would have died six months sooner, had they not come to 
breathe the pure air of Singfapore. The greater part of the book con- 
tains descriptions of Java, China and Australia. 

In this year was published the first Directory. It was compiled 
by Mr. R. C. Woods, who had come from Bombay in 1845, and 
had started the Straihs Tiinen, There are only one or two copies 
of it. The part relating to Singapore took a few pages, and the 
prreater part of it was a General Directory of the Habitable Globe, 
and an Epitome of the Universe, as the title page expressed it, 
and a reprint of a few of the Indian Acts in force in the Straits 
and (Tuvernment regulations. Directories of the place continued to 
be published yearly from that time. 

In this year the firm of A. Ij. Johnston & Co.. consisted of 
A. L. Johnston, James Cunison Drysdale and W. H. Read, Mr. Robert 
Bain was a clerk and became a partner in 1848, as well as Mr. 
Michie Forbes Davidson. Mr. Bain left the firm in 1857. On 1st 
January, 1863, Mr. Robert Banlay Read became a partner, Mr. M. F. 
Davidson leaving the firm, and some time afterwards joining Boustead 
4 Co. 


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458 Anecdotal History of Hinyayori 



IN January, Sir Colin Campbell issued instructions for some officer^ 
of Artillery to proceed to Singapore to enrol Malays to go to 
Hongkong to be attached to the company of gun lascars of the Royal 
Artillery there. 

Efforts were frequently made to promote agriculture, and in this 
year an attempt was made to establish sugar cultivation in Malacca, as 
appears from the following passage in tlie newspaper: — *'Most satis- 
factory tidings, we are glad to say, have been received regarding the 
proposed establishment of an association for the cultivation and manufac- 
ture of sugar at Malacca. The plan has been taken up with much 
spirit in England. The names of the Earl of Harewood, Lord (xeorge 
Bentinck, Lord Howard de Walden, Sir Willoughby Cotton and others, 
who have interested themselves in the scheme, give a guarantee for the 
stability of the undertaking. We have seen the printed prospectus, 
from which it appears that the " Malacca Sugar Company " is to have 
a capital of £500,000, divided into 10,000 shares of £50 each. 1,000 
shares are to be reserved for the Straits. It is proposed to com- 
mence the manufacture in the first instance by purchasing cane from 
the Chinese cultivators, and we believe that a gentleman may be 
expected to arrive in the course of two or three months hence from 
England, to have the necessary works erected. Four thousand acres 
of land on the Lingy river have been procured from Government, 
which will be cultivated by the company. The soil, we understand, 
is of the most fertile description and has been approved of by 
several experienced planters who have viewed it. A deposit of £1 
per share will be made when the company is organized, which it is 
calculated will enable them to proceed so far as to manufacture 100 
tons of sugar weekly. Not more than two calls of £2 each will be 
made afterwards, for carrying on the cultivation and manufacture of 
sugar, and this, it is estimated, will enable the company to produce 
50,000 tons annually. From the cheapness and abundance of labour 
and other favourable circumstances, it is thought that the cost of 
production and manufacture will be so low that a profit on the 
outlay will secure splendid dividends at little more than half the 
present price of the article, thus holding out the hope of being 
able to afford to the consumers of this important necessary of life, 
the prospect of a large reduction in price. This is important news, 
and we trust that the company will prosper, not only for its own 
sake, but for the benefit its success will confer on the poor con- 
sumer at home, as well as on the Settlement of Malacca, and in- 
directly on the other Straits Settlements.^' It did not prove success- 
ful, however; any more than the large plantations in Singapore. 

It was said in 1884, when a number of very serious cases of 
hydrophobia occurred, that it had been unknown in Singapore until 


ized by Google 

1847. 45P 

that time, but an account of a death from hydrophobia appears in 
the Free Press of February, 1 847 ; it was the case of a Chinaman 
who had been bitten four months before, and died in the hospital. 
Two months afterwards, a boy died in the Pauper Hospital, one 
month after being bitten. In consequence of these cases, the follow- 
ing notice was issued by the Magistrates on 15th April : — 

In consequence of the great increase of pariah dogs and several cases of 
hydi-ophohia having occurr^'d within a very shoH period: — Notice is herebj given, 
that all dogs found straying in the Streets and Roads on the first three day^ 
"f each month (Sundays excepti-d) will be destroyed, without further notice. 

The Fr^e Prens of 11th February contained the following ])nra- 
crraph : — *' It having been ascertained that Whanipoa, the younger, 
whose name is known far and wide in these eastern parts, and is 
familiar to not a few even in distant Europe, was about to loave 
this by the next steamer on a visit to his native country, a few 
• >f his friends, amongst the European mercantile community chiefly, 
resolved to show their respect and esteem for him by entertaining 
hiiu at dinner. The dinner accordingly came off on Monday evening 
at the London Hotel, when about 20 sat down, C. Carnie, Esq., in 
the Chair, and W. S. Duncan, Esq., Croupier. The health of their 
;ruests having been given, Whanipoa returned thanks in a most neat 
and feelini^ manner in English ; and t»n the health of Kim Seng, one 
of our most respected Chinese merchants, who was also present, being 
drank, Kim Seng replied in a clever and humorous speech in Malay 
which delighted all present. A number of other toasts were also 
ffiveu, and the evening was spent in much harmony and merriment.^' 

*' On the morning of Saturday, the 6th February, 1847, the foun- 
dation ^tone of the new gaol (afterwards the Civil Jail, within the 
walls of the Criminal Prison) was laid by the architect. Captain Faber, 
Superintending Engineer, in presence of their Honours the Governor 
and the Resident Councillor. Below the stone was deposited the 
following inscription engraved on a brass plate : — 

Tliis Foundation Stone 


H. M. Jail at Singapoi^. 

Was laid by Captain Fabek, Madi-as Engineers, 

Superintending Eneineer, Straits Settlements, 

On the «th Fehniary, 1847— 

The 27th Anniversary of the Formation 

Of a British Settlement 

On this Island. 

The Hon'ble Colonel W. J. Buttebwobth,, 

Being Governor of Prince of Wales' Island, 

Singapore and Malacca, 


The Hon ble T. Church. 

Resident Councillor at Singaporr 

Queen of Great Bntain and Irehunl. 

The Right Hon'ble Lord Hardinoe. g.<\b.. 
Governor- General of British India. 

God Savk the Queen. 


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460 Anecdotal History of Singaport 

In a bottle, likewise placed below the stone, the following statisticil 
information relative to the Settlements, written on parchment, wt? 
enclosed : — 

The Trade for the year 1S45-4H of Prince of Wales* leUind, Singapore and 
Malacca, ag^i-egated the sum of Gotupany'B Bk. 52,190,685 in Merchandize, and 
Company's fis. 9,7o5,061 in Bullion and Treasure; making a grand total d 
fb. (ilJDH.T^O (exclusive of the trade between the three Settlements) as follows:— 

Imports. Exports. Total. 

P. W. Island H». 6,614,794 ... 6,528,452 = 13,143,246 
Singapore ... ,. 26,616,448 ... 21,162,987 = 47,779,435 

Malacca ... „ 5<)9,872 ... 364,193 = 874.065 

Grand Total Company's fis. 61,796,746 

The Revenue and charges fur the year 1845-46 of Prince of Wales* Island 
Singapore and Malacca including Civil, Military, Marine, Jndicial, Convicts, &c., 
Ac., were as follows : — 


P.W. Island Co.'s Rs. 402,783.15.11 

Singapore „ „ 497,186.14. 5 

Makcca „ 231,158.12. 5 


P.W. Island Co.'s Rs. 185.443.2.9 

Singapore .. „ 530,040.15.7 

Malacca „ „ 64,408. 9.11 


Rs. 779,892.12.3 
Total deficit at the three Settlements Rs. 351.236.14.6 

N. B. 4 Company European Artillery, 1 Company Golundauze, 1 Regt. 
Native Infantry, 2,234 Convicts, 1 steamer and 4 gun-lxmts.'* 

On the 12th February there was a large fire in Kampong Glam, 
of which the following is an account : — " About one o*clock in the 
afternoon it was discovered that a fire had broken out near the old 
Thannah at Kampong Qlam. Exertions were used as soon as 
possible to suppress it, but the wind being very high at the 
time, and the attap and wooden houses amongst which it originated 
unfortunately offering every facility to its progress, it rapidly in- 
creased, and the flames soon extended across the road to the range 
of houses formerly belonp^ing to the Sultan. In order to prevent 
the fire communicating to the houses of the Europeans on the Beach 
Road, it was resolved to pull down a number of attap houses imme- 
diately adjoining the bungalow occupied by Mr. Gilbert McMicking 
and this was immediately set about ; but the wind shifting, the attap 
houses were soon in a blaze, and the kitchen in Mr. McMicking's 
compound caught the fire and then a bungalow situated in the adjoining 
compound belonging to Mr. William Wemyss Ker. The whole of this 
range of houses at this time seemed to be in very great danger, 
the heat and smoke rendering it almost impossible to work with 
effect. The excitement was general, and the occupants prepared for 
a move by packing up their plate and valuables. The heat of the 
houses was almost unsupportable and their destruction seemed certain, 

Dinitiyprl h\/ 


1847. 461 

but the wind fortunately abated and the engines were tfot to 
work in the componnd where the fire was already in progress. Mr. 
IDutronquoy of the London Hotel and a party of French sailors 
Tnounted the roof of Mr. McMicking's bungalow, and by great exer- 
tions in throwing water on the tiles saved the building, and the 
fire was prevented from spreading further alon*^ this range. Another 
party of Europeans, headed by a number of the Magistrates, by 
$^reat activity, and at considerable risk, succeeded, by pulling down 
houses, in saving Kampang Jawa from entire destruction. The Police 
engine was in this quarter, but could not be worked owing to the 
scarcity of water, and the flames extended so far across the road as 
t^ render it difficult to prevent the engine being destroyed by them. 
About half-past five pm. the fire was confined to a range of buildings 
belonging to Syed Omar, which were not entirely gutted before mid- 
night. The number of houses destroyed is estimated at about 27ii, 
consisting of brick, wooden, and attap tenements. The value of these 
buildings was very considerable, and the quantity of property in them 
destroyed by the fire was very large, the amount being roughly esti- 
mated at from 80 to 90,000 dollars. The Governor and Resident 
Councillor were early on the spot, and were active in their efforts to 
render every assistance, by directing the demolition of houses where 
it was considered necessary. The former indeed exposed himself to 
considerable risk, having been at one time nearly surrounded by the 
burning houses, from which position the smoke and flames made escape 
a matter of difficulty. One European at considerable hazard went 
into a house and brought out a cask of gunpowder which was safely 
deposited on the beach.'* 

In February, a general order was issued by Governor Butterworth, 
by instructions from the Governor-General of India, throughout the 
three Settlements, to the following effect: — 

"1. — The (xovernor-General is pleased to direct that all public 
works carried on by order of the Government, whether under the 
direction of its own officers or through the agency of contractors, shall 
be discontinued on the Sunday. 

2. — Cases of urgent necessity, in which delay would be detrimental 
to the Public Service, are to be considered as cases of exception, and 
all such cases will be immediately reported to the Military Board for 
their special orders, and for the information of the Government. The 
officer in charge of the work will act on his own discretion, where delay 
in waiting for the sanction of the Board would be attended with in- 
jurious consequences. 

3. — ^The cessation of work on the Sunday shall be an understood 
condition in all future contracts for Public Works, whether an express 
provision to that effect be inserted in the deed of contract or not. No 
claim therefore of addition to the amount of the contract on account of 
the suspension of labour on Sundays shall be admitted in reference to 
any engagements executed subsequently to the date of this notification. 
4. — An order to this effect has been enforced, since January, 1843, 
by the Bombay Government, and the Governor-General has much satis- 
faction in extending the rule which it enjoins to the other Presidencies 
sabordinate to the Government of India," 


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462 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

III May, Sir William Norris, the Recorder, left the Straits, and 
Sir Christopher Rawliiisuii was appointed in his place. Tn the sam^ 
month, Mr. James Brooke received despatches from the English Grovem- 
ment appointing hira H. B. M.^s Commissioner and Consul-General to 
the Independent States of Borneo. He left Singapore, under a salare, 
by the E. I. Co.'h steamer Nemesis for Sarawak and Brunei. The Frer 
Presft spoke of the appointment as follows: — *' This appointment, beside^ 
the advantages which our interests in these parts may expect to derive 
from the experience and ability of Mr. Brooke, is satisfactory as 
marking that the British Government are not disposed to give way to 
the extravagant and unjust pretensions of the Dutch; but that, on the 
contrary, it is intended to maintain our right to an equal footing 
in the Archipelago, and to all the commercial and political advan- 
tages which may arise from the exercise of a legitimate iaflaence. 
We hope that Mr. Brooke\s appointment is only the first of a series ot 
measures for effecting such a desirable end." 

On the 6th July, Mr. Brooke went on a visit to England in the 
P. & 0. Mail from Singapore. Before he left, he presented over one 
hundred volumes to the Singapore Library. 

A meeting was called on the 20th May, in Mr. Carnie's ofBce, for 
the purpose of making preliminary arrangements for periodical assem- 
blies; and the paper, in giving notice of it, said: — "The proposal for 
these assemblies has our warmest wishes for its ultimate success, pro- 
mising as it does to supply a defect in our social system in Singapore — 
that of the want of any means of periodically bringing together the 
members of its small society on a friendly and social footing. The 
plan, we hope, will meet with the countenance of those who, from 
position, are entitled to take the lead in Society, and who, no doubt, 
feel gratified ^vlienever they have an opportunity of lending their aid to the 
promotion of a social and harmonious feeling in the different members of 
nommunity. It may be added that extravagance w^ill be eschewed in all 
things, so that subscribers will have no reason to fear that, in lending 
themselves to the plan, they will be led into expenses not compatible 
with a prndeTit economy." It was decided at the meeting that a 
ball should be given every two months. 

The following passage in the Free Press referred to matters which 
did not come to any successful result; but the future of Borneo and 
the Native States was then becoming recognised : — 

*' Nearly every mail from home brings intellisrence of the in- 
creasing interest which the Far East is exciting, and of the 
measures which are being projected for making her resources, natural 
and commercial, available through the capital and enterprize of Europe. 
3onie months ago we had the "Malacca Sugar Company" projected, 
with a large proprietary and capital, to carry on the manufacture 
of the cane. Then we had the appointment of a Consul-General and 
Commissioner to Borneo, followed up by a Commercial and Political 
Treaty with the Sultan of Borneo, while last mail brought us the 
intelligence of the Government having at length resolved to proceed 
in earnest with the settlement of Labuan, Mr. Brooke having been ap- 
pointed Governor of that place, and other offices being spoken of. 
We have heard that there is yet a further Association being organised 

Digitized by VjOOQI^ 

1847. 463 

u Kngland for carrying on operations in this part of the world 
m a largo scale. The title of this body is^ or is proposed to be, *' The 
Company of the Eastern Archipelago/' which proposes to go to work 
with a capital of £500,000. From what we can learn, Borneo is the 
contemplated field of operations, and it is probable that they will begin 
with purchasing the Antimony Monopoly, i'here can be little doubt 
that such a Company will find an ample scope for its enterprize, 
whether it is confined to Borneo, or embraces the wider range of countries 
which its title would seein to point out. Borneo, no doubt, alone 
offers the most varied objects to which the capitalist might direct 
his attention when in search of means for profitable investment. 
Her soil in some parts is admirably fitted for every species of 
tropical cultivation, whether we look to the rearing of spices, or 
wish to follow the less tedious cultivation of grain In other parts, 
her soil teems with mineral wealth— diamonds, gold, &c. — not omitt- 
ing what now-a-days holds no mean place amongst minerals — coal, 
which is found abundant and good in various parts of Borneo. The 
forests of Borneo also abound in many valuable natural productions, 
which an active commerce would, no doubt, bring to light in abundance. 
If the Company should desire to extend their views to other places, 
the Malay Peninsula offers an ample field in its capacity for cul- 
tivation, its extensive deposits of gold, tin and coal, and its 
numerous other resources, many of which, up to the present time, 
have been but imperfectly, or not at all, explored. In short, it only 
requires that capitalists should deviate a little from the beaten path 
of buying and selling, and make use of the influence and opportuni- 
ties which their wealth would give them to find in the Malay 
Archipelago almost unbounded stores of tlie most valuable articles of 
commerce ready to be called forth by an intelligent and prudent search 
for them/' 

At this time, there were very serious riots and much loss of life 
in the Dutch residency of Rhio between the Chinese Societies Quan 
Tek Hoe and Tan Tae Hoe, and the latter getting the worst of it 
fitted out expeditions from Singapore. Enquiry was made, and 
Constable Simonides, accompanied by a small party of peons, left 
Singapore for the purpose of making a tour of observation in the 
jangle. He gradually shaped his course towards Selitar, but so totally 
was he left without guide or any means of ascertaining his way in the 
jangle of Singapore, as it was then, that five days elapsed before the 
spot aimed at was reached. On arriving at a large bangftal on the Neo 
Yang Kwan, a branch of the Selitar river, the party stopped there 
under pretence of being tired and wishing to rest themselves. Quietly 
looking about them, they found in the river on which this hangsal was 
situated, six large boats, each armed with two leMas, while a large 
collection of other kinds of arms was observed in one of the boats, 
and there were also noticed traces of warlike stores in the house. The 
owner of the plantation immediately made his appearence, and was at 
once taken into custody by the constable, who threatened to shoot him if 
he made the least resistance or gave the least nlnrni. The house was 
then searched in his presence, and there were liMiud in it five brass 
lellas (cannons) one of them about five feet long and of proportionate 


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464 Anecdotal ITifttory of Singapore 

bore, while the other two were each about four feet in length; 
fire iron Idla/t, twelve matchlocks, several muskets, about four dozens 
of iron-pointed spears and triangles, battle axes, knives, long sharp- 
pointed poles, sliields, &c.; a considerable quantity of gunpowder in 
barrels, and a number of priming cannisters. The owner of the house, 
Neo Liang Qiian, in explanation of his having so many of these articles 
in his possession, stated that they had been brought shortly before by 
some of his friends from Khio in his boats, in which they had taken 
refuge, the boats being then at Rhio for gambier. This explanation 
did not seem at all satisfactory to the constable, who brought the man 
away toj^ether with as many of the munitions of war as his party 
could carry. Subsequently three of the iron guns were recoo^nised as 
beinof the property of the Yam Tuan of Rhio, by whom it appears 
thoy liad been lent to Chinese of the Quan Toek Hoe, who were 
apprehensive of being attacked by the other party. It appeared 
that Neo Liang Quan was originally an inhabitant of Rhio, which 
he left many years ago on account of debt, and settled in Singapore, 
where he would appear to have prospered, being the owner of a 
number of valuable plantations, but was a person of very doubtful 
character who had been in prison for two years in Rhio. 

It was then discovered that a Chinese expedition had left 
Singapore shortly before in two divisions, one party of boats leaving 
the Old Straits by the Changie entrance and making for that part 
of Battam Island at the entrance to the Straits of Rhio, while the 
other party emerged from the Old Straits by the Tanjong Groul 
entrance. Proceeding in this manner, they easily arrived at the scene 
of the intended operations, a small strait separating the island of Gallat 
or Grallang from the island of Gampang. This the two squadrons 
invested at opposite ends, and then swept rapidly inwards, destroying 
everythinir before them, until the two parties met each other. Their 
plans were laid with the greatest skill, and the effect was most 
complete. They took the inhabitants of the different hangsah or kampongh 
most completely by surprise, affording time neither for defence nor 
escape. The inhabitants were given to the sword, while everything 
in the different kampongs was destroyed, the houses and their furniture 
being bnrnt, and all the trees, pepper vines and gambier plants 
cut up and laid waste. Twenty-eight bangsals or plantations were 
thus treated in the course of one night, upwards of one hundred 
persons having been killed; their bodies having been found, in 
nearly every case, deprived of the heads, and shockingly mangled 
and disfigured. 

In September, the Bengal Government authorised the construction 
of a wall along the front of the Esplanade to prevent the sea encroaching. 
There were very frequent complaints of the state of the roads, the 
Grand Jury at nearly every Assizes presenting them as very badly 
kept-up, and the following squib was put in the Free Pre»9 by a 
local wit : — 


For a purse of Fifty Dollars 

Added to a T^weepstakes of ^In oacli 

On Tuesdaj, the 16th Inst., 4 p.m. 


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1847. 4(55 

The Course in irom Coleman's Bridge along New Bridge Road over the 
uniinisbed Faber's Bridge and along South Canal Street into Upper Macao Street . 
passing over the Buffalo Carts and through or over the Palanquins in Macao or 
George Street, into South Caual Road, over the sand bank and brick heaps past 
Messi-s. Purvis & Guthrie's godowns, into Market Street over the crookeiy and 
crates of earthenware, through Malacca Street into Commerlcul Sqiiaro, over 
the logs of timber at Messrs. Syme & Co's., thence into Battery Road over the 
hills of the red earth and granite at Messrs. Fiuser's and ditches and timber at 
Messrs. Middleton's into Boat Quay, past W. S. Duncan's and from that to 
the winning post at Bain's Bridge aloDg Boat Quay. 

The roads mast have beeu snfficently bad even iu the town, 
for Dr. Charles Curties, a private practitioner in High Street, in 
Singapore for many years, was driving one night along the road 
near Rochor Police Station, which the paper called ''one of the 
principal roads of the town," and there was such a hole where the 
side of the road had fallen in, that the pony and buggy were thrown 
into the canal, tlie pony killed, and Dr. Curtios injured. 

During this year two Petitions were sent to the Houses of 
Parliament. One was regarding an Indian Act (No. III. of I817j 
which took the appointment of the Police Officers out of the hands 
of the Court of Judicature and Quarter Sessions, and gave it to the 
Crown ; and, secondly, asking that the Municipal funds should be 
placed under the management of a Committee chosen by the rate- 
payers, which had always been the case, but was rendered doubtful, 
in the opinion of the Recorder, Sir W. Norris, by another Act. 
The petition which was sent to Mr. John Crawfurd for presentation 
to Parliament, was as follows: — 

"Unto the Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses in 
Parliament assembled. 

The Humble Petition of the nndersigned, merchants and other>, 
inhabitants of Singapore, 

Respectfully Sheweth, 

*^That on the 19th day of February last an Act was passed by 
the Legislative Council of India being No III. of 1847, entitled "An 
Act to provide for the appointment of Constables and Peace Officers, 
at the Settlements in the Straits.^' 

"That on the draft of this Act being published for general 
information in October, 1846, Your Petitioners considering that it 
was unuecessar}' and uncalled for, and that if passed into law it would 
tend to impair the respectability and usefulness of the Magistrates, by 
>;tripping them of powers and functions wherewith they had been in- 
vested by the Crown; and that the public safety and comfort would 
also be diminished by the efficiency of tlie F^olice force being impaired 
through the operation of the said Act, addressed a respectful 
Memorial to the Right Hon'ble the Governor-General of India in 
Council praying that the said draft Act might not become law; of 
which memorial and the documents appended thereto, copies are 
hereunto annexed. 

"That, nevertheless, the said Act was in due time passed, and has 
now been in operation for some months, and your Petitioners from what 
they have observed of its effects upon the Police force, are still more 
impressed than before with a conviction of its tendency to impair the 


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466 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

efficiency of the Police, as well as to diminish the authority of the 

^*That your Petitioners would most respectfully suggest, that not 
only ought the entire appointment and management of the Police force 
to be vested in Her Majesty's Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales^ 
Island, Singapore and Malacca in its General and Quarter Sessions of 
the Peace, as it was previous to the passing of the said Act No. III. of 
1847, but that the Assessment funds which are raised for the payment 
of the Police force and for other strictly municipal purposes ought to 
be managed by a Committee of the rate-payers or other popularly 
elected body ; and your Petitioners consider that the powers of manage- 
ment given to the Governor of Bengal, or his nominee, by Act No. 
XII. of 1839, by virtue of which the said Assessment is levied, are 
very objectionable, as confiding to one person the exclusive manage- 
ment of funds raised for municipal purposes, and over which the 
payers have no control. 

*'Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that it may please your 
Honourable House to adopt measures for repealing the said Act, No. 
III. of 1847 : And also that the funds raised from the inhabitants 
of the Straits Settlements for the payment of the Police and other 
municipal purposes, may be placed under the management of a Com- 
mittee chosen from the payers, or some other popularly elected body 
acting in conjunction with the executive officers of Government in 
the Straits. ' (Signed by 215 persons.)" 

The other Petition, which was of great length, referred to the 
conduct of the Dutch Government in throwing all the hindrances 
and restrictions it could in the way of British trade with the Dutch 
possessions; an infringement of the provisions of the Treaty of 1824, 
which had perpetually been made a subject of complaint in, Singapore 
since it was concluded. A memorial was sent at the same time to 
Lord Palmerston, and the following passages taken from it show the 
nature of the grievance: — 

**That frequent complaints have been heretofore made regarding 
the conduct of the Authorities of the Netherlands Indian Government 
in respect to British Trade in the Eastern Archipelago, by which, 
in various ways, the provisions of the Treaty of the 17th March, 
1824, which fixed the respective rights of the Governments of Great 
Britain and Holland, and of their subjects in the Eastern Seas, have 
been violated, and British subjects and trade deprived of those 
advantages guaranteed to them by the said Treaty. 

"That, notwithstanding the many remonstrances and representa- 
tions made by the British Government to that of Holland, on the 
subject of these violations of the Treaty of 1824, and by your 
Lordship in particular so lately as 1841, your memorialists regret 
that they have to complain of further acts on the part of the 
Netherlands Indian Government by which British Commerce is seriously 
impeded in the Indian Archipelago, and that freedom and equality 
of trade with the native powers, provided for by the Treaty, completely 
prevented, as regards British subjects. 

'^That your Memorialists, without entering into any lengthened 
'specification of these acts of the Netherlands Indian Government, by 


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1847. 467 

which they appear to be aiming at establishing an exclusive dominion 
and monopoly of trade in the Indian Archipelago, would respectfully 
request your Lordship's attention to the copy of a Petition which has 
been addressed by the mercantile body in Singapore to the House of 
Commons, and to the other documents which are annexed to this Memorial, 
from which it appears that British trade has been completely excluded 
from all ports but one of the large and important Island of Celebes, 
the effect of which is to deprive British subjects of the liberty of 
trading with one of the richest parts, as regards valuable articles of 
commerce, of the Archipelago, and the natives of which bave ever 
shewn the strongest desire to cultivate a commercial intercourse with 
the subjects of Her Majesty. 

"That, through the proceedings of the Dutch Authorities in the 
Eastern Seas, the trade of British subjects has been and now is 
impeded and hampered, and prevented from attaining that extent, 
and being of that profitable nature, which the desire of the natives 
for English manufactures, and their increasing commercial enterprize 
and ability to furnish valuable articles of produce in exchange, 
would, without doubt, insure, were no obstacles to interpose to that 
freedom and liberty of trade which the I., II., III., and IV. articles 
of the Treaty of 1824 were intended to secure." 

The first number of the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and 
Eastern Asia was published in June. It was the first attempt to 
promote a literary or scientific periodical in the British Settlements in 
the Far East; such works as the Malacca Gleaner, formerly published 
in Malacca, had missionary purposes for their chief end; and any 
notices of neighbouring countries, or their inhabitants, languages, &c., 
were made subsidiary to their main design. The Chinese Repositary 
partook in a large measure of the same character. The Dutch had 
scientific periodicals in Java, but very few English, even of the residents 
in Java, could read Dutch. The Straits newspapers had, in a large 
measure, supplied the want. The Singapore Chronicle had many valuable 
contributions on the history of the Archipelago, written by Crawfurd, 
Dalton, Medhurst, and others, a portion of which were (as has been 
said) collected by Moor; while the Free Press had many similar 
papers. Such articles, however, find a more r^ppropriato and lasting 
place in the pages of a volume, which is in a handier form than the 
sheets of a newspaper. There is a note in the Journal which says that 
the publication did not nearly repay its cost, but this was to be 
expected in the small community of Singapore where it is easy to 
borrow a copy which some one else has paid for. But Mr. James 
Richardson Logan, like Mr. William Napier in regard to the Free 
Pressy or Mr. Moor, or others after him, did not look for any 
pecuniary return, and was contented to bear the loss for the sake of 
the advantage to the Settlement. It may be useful here, as it is 
not easy to ascertain it elsewhere, to state how many volumes were 
published and the years. It was published in monthly or occasional 
numbers, as opportunity offered, and in bound volumes at the close 
of each year. Being edited by J. R. Logan who wrote very lengthy 
papers in it, it became known as Logan's Journal, which is the. 
name used throughout this book for brevity's sake. 


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New Series 





468 Anecdotal HiHonj of S'utijapore 

429 pages and iudex. 

848 ,, and Appendix, 62 pages. 

766 „ and two App. 16 and 48 pageb. 


740 ,; 


378 ;, 


528 „ and Appendix, 48 pages. 

317 „ and Appendix, 151 pages. 

It has been proposed several times to publish an Index to the 
volumes, but it has not been carried out. Tn the Journal of the 
Straits Branch of the Roijal Asiatic Society for December, 1886, No. 
18, there is an Index by Dr. Dennys to the headings of the various 
articles only; it does not index the names of the authors or any of 
the contents of the articles. Tho last named Journal was commenced 
in 1877 and has continued in a spasmodic way until the present 
time, as the matter available for such a publication is necessarily of a 
limited character. 

It must have been somewhere about this time that a French 
Scientific Expedition, so called, was sent out from France. There is 
nothing in the book to fix the date except that Louis Philippe lost 
his throne after it was written. Nothing would be known of this 
expedition in Singapore but for the publication of a book in 1855, by 
James Blackwood, London, called '' Six months among the Malays and 
a year in China" by an author, described as the Physician to the 
Scientific Mission sent by France to China, and author of " Romance 
of Travel.'^ It would not be noticed here, except that it contains 
200 pages about Malacca, Singapore, and Penang, with such ridiculous 
traveller's storie:?, and exaggfi rations, that there is nothing to be 
learned from it. There is probably only the one copy in the place 
on which these remarks are founded. The true object of this 
*' Scientific Expedition '^ creeps out on page 201, after tho preliminary 
chapters about the Straits. It says " On repairing to China, Mr. de 
Legrene received a special order from H. M. King Louis Philippe to 
select from the Malay Archipelago some beautiful perfumed oasis, 
bathed by the waters of the Indian Ocean, upon which it would be 
possible to found an establishment; the old King having an extreme 
desire that France should not be destitute of a spice island, but 
possess a pearl in the magnificent treasures of Oceania, the most 
precious of which were under the respective dominion of England, 
Holland and Spain." 

The way the expedition tried to carry out the King's wish 
was to let a young lieutenant and two cabin boys go away up a 
river at the island of Rasilan. They get into a row, reason unknown 
but may be surmised, and two of the Frenchmen were killed. The 
man-of-war afterwards bombarded the island, and the author says 
that they destroyed everything,', left not a single blade of grass on the 


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1847. 469 

j^pot, and burnt houses and boat.s. He winds up by saying that the 
return of the sailors on board was not the least interestinp^ part of 
the affair, for they dressed and conducted themselves in a manner 
befitting a carnival, some carrying krisses, bucklers, and, on their 
bayonets, horns or other part of the buffaloes they had killed/' This 
was the only result oE King Louis Philippe's ambition in the neijrh- 
bonrhood of the Straits. 

It is worthy of notice, however, that the French official, at the 
end of his three chapters on the three Settlements of the Straits, 
>ays: — "It must be confessed that the English people, who have ever 
been the guardians of freedom, and who have never employed any 
other than legal means for the o.stahlishment and maintenance of their 
rights and institutions, are, of all other nations, the most staunch 
protectors of human liberty in the present day/' For which plain truth, 
as exemplified in the Straits, he may be forgiven his wonderful 
account of a great dinner at Mr. Balestier's modest house on Balestier 
Plain, which he describes as containing five immense rooms, lighted 
with wax candles contained in glass vessels (they were no doubt 
eocoanut oil lights in tumblers hanging inside inverted glass globes), 
and all the rarities and curiosities of India and China beinor contained 
in a long gallery (probably fire glass-fronted ahneirahs, which passed 
lo Mr. Woods's house at Serangoon, close by) and a vast library, 
composed of valuable books in every European language, and of its 
being a fairy palace of the east, with Asiatic luxury all round, a soft 
perfumed atmosphere, and a young Chinese domestic in each corner 
employed in working very large fans ! Then there is a ridiculous 
description of a visit to Whampoa's house close by, where the author 
passed the night ; and these are fair samples of the contents of the book. 
Certainly .some wonderful accounts of the place have appeared in books 
long since forgotten. Accidentally, while writing this very chapter, we 
^•ame acros.s a book, published in America, by a globe-trotter who 
-pent three days in the place, and he says that Singapore was 
founded by Sir Stamford Kaffle«5, ''who married the daughter of the 
Sultan of Johore/' 


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470 Anecdotal History of Singapore 



AT this time, encouraged by their success in the expedition to 
Rhio, mentioned on page 464, another reguhir Chinese expedition 
of over a hundred men started from Singapore on a marauding foray. 
Their pretended errand was to collect gutta percha on some of the 
islands in the Straits. They cleared out at the proper office and 
received the usual pass, and bent their course to Muar in the 
Peninsula, where they made an attack upon a ham-pong, but were re- 
pulsed. They then crossed over to Siak in Sumatra and tried their 
luck, but were again unsuccessful, being driven away. Thence they 
came down to a small ishind, Pulo Burn, south of Pulo Supang, to 
the southward of the Carimons, where they again experienced dis- 
comfiture in their attempts to plunder some houses, some of their party 
being killed and others wounded. The Malaj^s who were in the houses 
also suffered, but not so severely as the Cliineso. While near this 
island, they attacked a Malay boat, the crew of which, five in 
number, they put to death, and taking out the rice, &c., they 
scuttled the boat. After their last repulse, they appear to have 
thought that the fates were against them, for, after burying their 
dead on a small island on their route, they returned to Singapore 
as empty-handed as when they left. They then resolved to try their 
fortune on land, in Singapore town; and, on the morning of the 
22nd May, a large detachment of the gang, about forty or fifty in 
number, attacked a house in Kampong Glam inhabited by Malays ; 
and, after forcing open the door by an extempore battering-ram, and 
wounding some of the inmates, who thereupon all fled, they plundered 
it, carrying off about thirty or forty dollars and other property. 
Tlieir ill-luck still, however, attended them, as, the alarm havinor 
been raised, they were followed by the mounted patrol, which had 
been lately established, the police being provided with some ponies for 
the purpose, who chased them along the Changie Road, wounded 
some of them, and recovered all the stolen property and some of 
their weapons, which in their flight they threw away. 

In the month of February, there was much excitement one day 
in the Square by a report that a largo body of Chinese had landed 
from boats and attacked Mr. W. W. Ker's house at Bukit Chermin, 
in New Harbour, where he lived. But it turned out to be a false 
report. A number of Chinese who had been^in Singapore delivering 
gambier, &c., were returning to their plantation at Sungei Jurong, 
in two large tongkangs with a goodly provision of pork, rice, &c., 
intended for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. When in 
the narrow strait at Batu Blayer, they met two other large boats 


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1848. 471 

with Chinese who were proceeding to Singapore. A number of Malay 
fishing boats were also in the strait, and in the confusion of the 
large boats meeting and passing in such a narrow passage, one of 
them got entangled in the fishing apparatus belonging to a Malay 
boat. One of the Malays in the boat struck a Chinaman, upon 
which a great clamour was raised by the latter, which induced some 
Malays, who apprehended an attack, to set off to Teluk Blangah 
with the intention of procuring assistance. The Chinamen, alarmed at 
this, resolved to appeal to Mr. Ker for protection. They accordingly 
brought their boats to anchor at the foot of the hill on which the 
house stood, and two of them ascended to the house, but were 
informed that Mr. Ker was in town. It would appear that they 
resolved on waiting his return, and that the servants left in charj^e 
of the house, alarmed by seeing so many persons collected near the 
house, beat a gong and gave the alarm. This speedily brought a 
number of the Tumongong's followers, by whom the Chinese were 
surrounded and taken into custody. Their story was, in some measure, 
corroborated by Eu Chin and other respectable residents in Singapore, 
and ultimately all were released. 

A subscription was made in the Square to put wooden railings 
round the enclosure. Copper cents were very scarce, and were 
retailed at 82 to 85 for a dollar. The Chinese sent in petitions to 
Government on the subject, as it made things dear for the poorer 

At the beginning of this year, the closing of the P. & 0. Mails 
was first signalled from the Government Hill [now Fort Canning] flag- 
staff — the red ensign being used for the Europe mail, and the yellow 
flag for China, and a gun was fired when the steamer arrived during 
the iiijjht. By the contract, the mail steamer had to wait in Singapore 
forty-eight hours. The first time the yellow flag was used, a report 
got about that a plague had broken out on board one of the Arab 
pilgrim ships, which caused alarm in the town among the natives for 
a few hours, from a belief that that signal was made to warn people 
of it. 

It had been customary to allow gambling at the Chinese New 
Year, or at any rate not to interfere with it, and contributions were 
made by the Chinese for charitable purposes as a sort of considera- 
tion for allowing a violation of the law. Objections were made in 
the Square to its being permitted any longer and it was stopped. 
The firing of crackers was also objected to. The following is a trans- 
lation of a Chinese placard that was posted about the town in con- 
sequence : — 

We think that it is now more than twenty years since Singapore was estab- 
lished; and annually the firing of crackers during the Chinese New Tear was 
allowed. But this year the constables on no account will allow gambling, or 
even the fii'ing of crackers. We wish to ascertain why during the Kling and 
Malay New Tear firing of cmckers is allowed. Is it because we Chinese are not 
equal to the Klings or Malays? If there are any intelligent Chinese amongst 
us, they would have gone to the police and remonstrated about last night *s affair, 
and also we can join in a body and put a stop to all business in the market, 
which will be but proper. But if that cannot be done, do not bid at all at the 
sale of the Farms ttiis year. If any one shall bid he shall be reckoned worse 
than a dog. 


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472 Anecdoinl History of Singaporp 

The above was only one of a nnmbor of objectionable placards 
of a similar nature, which wore issued, some of great len<jth, and all 
having for their object to show that the Chinese were oppressed bv 
the police. The following was part of another placard : — 

The island of Singapore contains a great nnmber of Chinese; some art* 
shop- keepers, others are working-men; some of them rich and some are \h}OT peo- 
ple, all of one nation. All the other natives together are not so mmeroTis. 
The police watch the Chincao only; no other nation is watched. Kling amase- 
ments are not interfered with ; the Malays play, fire crackers, and shoot and 
are not interfered with. The Police do not intei-fere nor apprehend them. The 
Chinese have a feast once a year; they have amusements, fire crackers and gam- 
ble, and are taken up. Chinese selling articles in the street (which they bear 
»)n the shoulder) are seized by the peons !)y their l.ajus, lieaten, and knocked 
down, and then confined in the Thanahs; they are seized as thieves. When they 
arc taken to the police, sentence is pronounced without the case being inqnire<l 
into. People carrying night soil, kc, are fined one or half a rupee. These an 
jungle people, how can they bear such a rule ? 

Formerly, at MaW<'a and Pulo Pinansr, there were many (/hinese and nobody 
interfered with them. 

Singapore is a new place. When it was fir«*t opened the Chinese could work 
and do what they liked, then it w«s well, and at that time Mr. Bonham was here an-l 
had a great name which was known in Europe and till now he retains his name. 

The state of the island was very disturbed at this time, and 
murders were frequent. In one week in January, there were four, 
near the town. The grand jury in their presentment attributed the 
grave nature of the crimes nt that time to the combination which 
existed among the Chinese secret societies, and sugtrested that strong 
parties of not less than twenty well-armed men, the most active and 
intelligent of the police, should be detached for the special purpose of 
patrolling the island. 

The following are extracts from a forcible statement drawn up b\ 
Mr. John Crawfurd and presented to the members of Parliament to 
enable them to judge of the question raised in the petition from Singra- 
pore regarding the police, which was sent home the year before :-- 

^'The industry of the inhabitants of Singapore has created tbi- 
whole fund from which the whole revenues are levied. This is made 
evident enough when the fact is adverted to, that eight-and-twenty 
years ago the island, which has now 50,000 inhabitants, was a jungle, 
with loO Malay fishermen, imbued with a strong propensity to piracy, 
and no wealth at all, unless it were a little plunder. At the present 
time, the entire revenues may be safely estimated at not less than 
£50^000 per annum, being equal to a pound sterling a head, which 
is equal to about five-fold the ratio of taxation yielded by the popula- 
tion of Rengal. 

"The revenues fire divided into two branches, although the divi- 
sion be, in reality, little better than arbitrary — the General and the 
Police; or taxes, and rates. The first consists of excise on wine, spirits, 
and opium ; of quit-rents ; of the produce of the sale of wild lands ; 
of fees and fines; of postages, &c., The second is a percentage on 
the rental of houses. The general revenue amounted in 1845-46, in 
round numbers, to £14,000, and the local one to £7,000; making n 
total of £21,000 — a sum which, if expended with a just economy, ought 
to be adequate to every purpose of Government in a small sea-girt 
island, with a population for the most part concentrated in one spot. 


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1848. 473 

*' From this statement it is plain enough that, whetlior the police 
force is paid wholly out of the police reveniie, or parti}' from the 
police and partly from the general revenue, it must, in any case, 
I30 paid out of the produce of the industry of the inhabitants — a 
innd wholly created within the short period of twenty-eight years. 
f cannot see, then, with what show of reason it can be said that 
The Executive Government pays the police, simply because it is the 
mere instrument uf disbursement. 

^•'Singapore is not, like Hindustan, a country conquered, or one 
i-eceivnd by inheritance from a despotic Government. On the contrary, 
it is strictly a Colony planted in a desert, the offspring of British 
enterprise and capital — just as much as were New England or New 
York. The constitution of society in it, moreover, differs wholly from 
liiiything found in Hindustan, the practices followed in which have 
l>oen, notwithstanding, quoted as precedents. 

^Mf, indeed, experience had shown that the administration of the 
police of Singapore was most advantageously lodged in the hands 
of the Executive, expediency might be pleaded in its favour. The 
very reverse, however, has proved to have been the case; for it has 
been the corruption and inefficacy of the police, so managed for 
many years, that has raised the whole question. I cannot but think 
tbat what holds good everywere else, must hold good also in 
Singapore — that the administration of mere local affairs must, from 
its very nature, be best conducted by those who are in a position 
ro understand it best, and who have the most immediate interest in 
conducting it efficiently and economically. These are, assuredly, tho 
inhabitants of each locality, and not the Executive Government, which 
has abundance of other and larger matters on its hands. But it is 
not theoretically alone that I came to this conclusion. It is with me 
the result of a personal experience, gained on the very spot itself. 

''The practice with respect to tlio colonics under the nianage- 
nient of the Crown has, of late years, certainly lieen rather to extend 
than to curtail the privileges of the inhabitants; and it is to W 
hoped that the East India Company will feel disposed to follow a 
course which, by conciliating the people, secures harmony, strengthens 
the hands of the local Government, and consequently contributes 
largely to facilitate the conduct of the administration. I trust, 
therefore, that the home authorities will refuse their approbation to 
this Act of the Indian Government, abrogating the very small in- 
stalment of rights conferred by Royal Charter on the inhabitants of 
Singapore; of rights, it must not bo forgotten, exercised by parties 
'^elected and named by the Indian Government itself. 

"In so far as concerns the framing of laws for Singapore and 
our other Malayan Settlements, the Supreme Government is in a 
very different position from that in which it stands on the continent 
in India, where there is ever at its disposition, men of first-rate 
talent, and long and varied experience in every department of 
administration. Respecting the Malayan Settlements, on the contrary, 
the Governor-General in Council can obtain no infoj-mation from 
parties on the spot ; for, in reality, is known of them in Bengal 
than in England, because there is less intercourse. 


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474 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

In legislating, therefore, for the Malayan Settlements, the Supreme 
Government must depend wholly on the degree of knowledge and 
enlightenment which may happen to be possessed by the local 
Governor, with the assistance, at each of the three Settlements, of 
a kind of Assessor, under the name of a Resident Councillor, but 
without Deliberative Councils, or a legal adviser, which are so ably 
supplied in every other part of India. The local Governor, then, who 
may happen to be, and most probably is, a Military or Civil Officer 
of the Indian service, without any knowledge of the languages, 
manners, and character of the great majority of the inhabitants of 
the Settlements over which he presides, and with a natural bias 
in favour of his own authority, is the only party from whom the 
materials for legislation are procurable. He, accordingly, transmits 
the crude drafts of Regulations for the Settlements to the Supremo 
Government. On the sole confidential recommendation, then, of such 
a party, laws are passed, as in the instance now under considera- 
tion, repugnant to the feelings and interests of the community at 
large, and in despite of their earnest and respectful remonstrances," 

This statement of Mr. John Crawfurd was, possibly, the commence- 
ment of the state of feelings which led, twenty years afterwards, to 
the Transfer of the Settlements from India to the Colonial Office as 
a Crown Colony. The Free Press in commenting upon it, thus remarked 
upon the grievance which eventually became the casus belli with the 
Bengal Government : — 

" How correct these observations are, will, we believe, be admitted 
by all unprejudiced persons having any acquaintance with the actual 
condition of matters in the Straits Settlements, although probably they 
will be questioned by those who are the objects of them. Too many 
instances, unfortunately, exist of the ignorance of the Supreme Govern- 
ment of the real condition of the Straits Settlements, to make their 
denial of the truth of Mr. Crawfurd's statements of much value; and 
it is to be hoped that, instead of attempting to palliate or conceal 
their ignorance, they will take the more manly and honest course of 
admitting it, and earnestly casting about for the means of effecting a 
change for the time to come, and procuring the information which 
they are so lamentably deficient in, and the want of which has betrayed 
them into so many blunders and acts of injustice. 

'^That our accusations against the Indian Government of neglect 
and incompetence in the administration of the Straits Settlements 
are not mere vague assertions founded on prejudice and misconcep- 
tion, we shall prove by adducing evidence from their own acts. For 
this purpose, it is not necessary to take a very long retrospect. The 
legislation and administration of the past year or two are quite 
sufficient to compel the admission of every impartial mind that the 
Indian Government is either very ignorant of, or unpardonably inat- 
tentive to, the real interests and well-being of the Straits Settlements. 

''The Act for the Regulation of the Copper Currency of the 
Straits Settlements affords an illustration of the ignorance of obstinacy 
of the Supreme Government. In this Act they were not content with 
making the necessary provisions for introducing the new coinage, but 
by an ill-judged prohibition they put an entire stop to the circulation 


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1848. 475 

of a currency which had been rendered necessary by tlieir own long 
continued neglect, and which had for many years been the only one 
ixvailable for local purposes. This was found well adapted for many 
purposes, although an authorised coinage of a cent and its fractional 
parts was desirable as a legal standard of value, and for the use 
of those who did not require so minute a coin as the doit. All 
that was desirable would have been attained by making the cent and 
its fractional parts the legal tender, leaving it optional to receive or 
reject the doit as suited the convenience of the people. But this 
course was not pursued, the doit being totally prohibited, and the 
consequence of this prohibition is that, at the present moment, the 
poor experience .a loss to the extent of at least 40 per cent, on their 
means of livelilood, by being compelled, in purchasing their daily 
food, to pay » quarter of a cent for what they used to obtain for 
the sixth or seventh of a cent. 

"The Act to allow of the reception of the transported convicts 
of Hongkong into the Straits Settlements, is another instance of the 
most complete ignorance on the part of the Supreme Government 
of the Straits Settlements, or if that is disclaimed, of the most wanton 
tampering with the safety and welfare of the inhabitants. We believe 
the plea of ignorance will not avail the Indian Government in this 
instance, as the Straits Executive officers, much to their credit, most 
earnestly remonstrated against the measure, pointing out the grave 
objections which existed to it in the nature of the population and 
other circumstances. That their estimate of the characters likely to 
be introduced was just, is but too well confirmed by the catastrophe 
which it is our painful duty to record in another column as having 
befallen the General Wood, which was conveying ninety-two of these 
Hongkong convicts to undergo their sentences at Penang. We may 
be sure that these persons, when in the Settlements, would not have 
been found a whit less evilly disposed, or less anxious for their escape, 
than what they were on board ship; and tlie peculiar facilities sur- 
rounding them would have led to attempts, renewed until successful. 
In Singapore they are surrounded by their countrymen, all linked 
together bj the oaths and bonds of the secret societies to which, nearly 
to a man, the Chinese here belong. These criminals also belong to 
the same societies, and once beyond the walls of the convict gaol, 
what more easy for them than to gain protection and assistance from 
their countrymen? The many plantations in the jungles of Singapore, 
as well as on the opposite coast of Johore, tenanted solely by Chinese, 
afford admirable places of refuge, at all times open to them. Thus 
the Chinese convict has every inducement to escape in the succour 
and assistance he is sure to find when once he has broken away — 
facilities which do not at all exist to the Indian convict. Can anything 
be conceived more stupid than to make such places as these the 
stations for Chinese convicts? 

"The recent draft Act for the amendment of the existing Assess- 
ment Act betrays also the supreme contempt for the wishes of the 
inhabitants of the Settlements, which characterises many other Acts 
of the Indian Government. The communities of the Straits have 
expressed their desire to be allowed to participate in the adminis- 


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476 Auprdofal TTiMory of Sinyaporr 

tration of the funds raised ior municipal purposes. So far, however, 
from the Indian Government eomplj'ing with this most reasonable reqn^, 
they propose the miserable expedient of a Committee ^oi persons to 
be nominated by the Chief Authority, who, of course, /will take care 
to select only those perfectly compliant in all things; awid even against 
the proceedings of snch a Committee, fettered and bouiad as they would 
be, the Chief Authority may appeal to Bengal, and have ithem disallowed. 

"Other instances might bo adduced to shew tlhat the Straits 
Settlements do not receive from the Supreme GovernMnent that atten- 
tion which is required for their proper management, and for the 
well-being and comfort of the inhabitants. We do I not cherish anv 
hope that changes for the better will be made durinl? the few years 
which have to elapse before the expiry of the presen^k Charter of the 
East India Company, but it may be of use to give tAe subject pro- 
minence now with the view of its attracting attention when the time 
shall arrive for making provisions for the future govennrnent of our 
Hidian possessions." 

A short paragraph in the Free Press of the 10th February gave 
the key note to the story of the tragedy of the General WooiL It 
said, '*The General Wood left this on 3rd January for Ponang", with 
ninety -two convicts on board; there was no military guard with 
them. She had not arrived at Penang up to the latest dates. It 
is hoped she may be kept out by baffling winds." 

The community of Singapore had protested against convicts being 
sent from Hongkong to Singapore, and it is a remarkable thing 
that on the 27th January, there had been a long article in the 
newspaper arguing again the reasons against it. Such as that the 
Chinese on Singapore composed 40,000 of the whole population of 
60,000; that a vast majority of these belonged to the lowest class; 
ninny lived in the interior of the island, hardly accessible to the police; 
II ud that convicts from Hongkong would bo of very much the 
same class, active and dangerous, and sure to open communica- 
tion with the Chinese outside the Jail. This article was afterwards 
referred to in the London Daily News of 26th April, which .spoke of 
the tragedy of the General Wood as a tale of piracy and murder, which 
the Oriental Seas alone could furnish. On the 2nd January, shortJr 
after midnight, the Britisli sliip General Wood, belonging to Jardine, 
Matheson & Co. of Hongkong, of 740 tons, left Singapore for Penang 
and Bombay. She had come from Hongkong taking Chinese con- 
victs from there to Bombay. She remained in Singapore from 2Srd 
November to 2nd January, for vessels took their time in those days, 
and, after taking in a few transported convicts from Singapore, 
went on her way. In Singapore the convicts were loosed from their 
handcuffs and leg irons, and were employed in hoisting in cargo 
and other work. At night tliey were secured. It was pointed out 
to the chief officer that they seemed to try to ascertain the position 
of the ship's arms, &c., but he made light of it. Early in the morniDg 
of the 20th February three of the passengers landed in a native prahu, 
and the story went all round Singapore that the convicts had risen on 
the crew the night after the vessel left Singapore, and, after sailing 
about for twenty days, had wrecked her off Pnlo Laut, North Natunas. 


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1848. 477 

There were three passeugers on board — Lieutenant Seymour, of the 

Indian Cavalry, and his wife, a daughter of Mr. W. R. George, and 

Mr. Andrew Farquhar, a grandson of Colonel Farquhar, wlio had all 

three gone on board at Singapore as passengers to Bombay. The 

Captain and the three European mates were all murdered. Lieut. 

Seymour was cut over the knee and thrown overboard, but he got 

hold of a rope and lield on for some hours and eventually clambered 

on board. Mr. Farquhar tried to get on deck, but was attacked and 

jumped overboard, and held on to the rudder until the morning. 

Xi daybreak he tried to get on deck, but was struck with a cutlass 

on the hands and fell back again to the rudder, and after sonle 

hours lie was allowed to come on deck. Nineteen lascar sailors were 

murdered, and three native passengers and several servants. A 

European sailor on board working his passage from Hongkong to 

Bombay in the ship, was fearfully beaten over the head, and afterwards 

went down in the vessel. Mrs. Seymour's ayah jumped overboard 

and was drowned. 

The following account of the tragedy appeared in the Free Press^ 
as well as a long letter from Lieut. Seymour, one of the three 
passengers : — 

'*The vessel sailed on the morning of the 2ud January, and 
after 6 p.m., came to an anchor to the eastward of the Carimons. 
Four of the Chinese convicts, who were employed to cook for the 
rest, eight who were sick, and a Malay and Chinese sent on board 
at Singapore, also convicts, had not the chain passed through their 
leg-irons as the others had. The key by which the chain was 
secured was in posssesion of the sepoy who kept watch over them 
at the main hatch. Two lascars were placed in the main hatchway, 
one on the forecastle and another on the poop The havildar stated 
that two sepoys were keeping guard over the convicts on the main, 
and one on the after-hatchway. The lascars on watch had no arms. 
The syrang stated that it was drizzling and he went to sleep under 
the fore-castle on the port side. About I o'clock a m. he heard the 
Chinese calling out, and he got up and ran forward. He met the 
sepoy from the after-hatchway running forward, and asked him what 
was the matter, and was told the Chinese had got on deck. He 
met the second officer at the main-hatchway, who ran forward, and 
lie saw no more of him. It was very dark and he could find no 
weapon in the hurry of the moment. The Chinese made a rush 
forward and secured all the ship's arms. There were about nine 
muskets in the third officer's cabin, six boarding pikes on a rack 
between the stanchions of the poop rail, and a box containing cut- 
lasses, bayonets, tomahawks and pistols, under the starboard poop 
ladder which were immediately seized by the convicts. A number of 
the crew got into the rigging, and many of them, including some 
native passengers, were murdered. The manner in which some of 
these were put to death is said to have been atrociously cruel, being 
tied to the mast, and literally rut to pieces by the convicts with 
savage exultation. The Captain, after displaying an utter want of 
presence of mind, tried to cut away one of the boats, but being 
unsuccessful hung on by a rope for some time and was then drowned. 


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478 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The first and second Officers also, after receiving a number of 
wounds, jumped into the sea and were drowned. Others were thrown 
over, or themselves jumped over, some being drowned and others 
ultimately saved. After the convicts had got possession of the vessel 
they lighted up the deck with cups filled with oil and cotton. 
At day-light those of the crew who had taken refuge in the rigging 
were induced to come down on the promise, conveyed to them 
througJi two Chinese belonging to the crew, that the convicts would 
not harm them. They compelled the gunner's mate to brin<j up the 
atnmunition and loaded all the muskets. A brig was lying at anchor 
at the distance of about a quarter of a mile, but she had no com- 
maiiication with the General Wood, At day-light about eighteen or 
nineteen lascars were missing, three Chuliah passengers, and two of 
the servants. The convicts ordered the lascars to loose the sails and 
get the ship under weigh. The syrang being told to heave up the 
anchor, intended to make a long job of it in hope of attracting 
the notice of the brig, but the convicts abused and threatened him, 
saying that a steamer would be sent after them, and he was delay- 
ing in order to get them secured again. They then slipped the 
chain and the ship got under weigh. One of the Chinese lascars 
said he kuew the way back to China, and directed the ship's course, 
the gunner being made to trim sails and one of the seacunnies to 
steer. He took them through Durian Straits. About noon they passed 
a Dutch barque jvt about a mile's distance, which shewed its ensign, 
made a signal, but the convicts would not allow any flag to be 
hoisted in return. The ship anchored near a small island, and a 
number of the Chinese landed, taking four of the crew. While they 
were on shore a large junk hove in sight and the ship was got 
under weigh to speak her. The people who had gone ashore pulled 
out and boarded her. It seems the convicts tried to persuade the 
people in the junk to convey them to China, but they refused, as 
they were bound to Singapore. On the island they asked a Malay 
if he knew the way to Cochin-China. On the 19th, they hove to 
near another island and some of them landed and brought back 
some fowls and cocoanuts. They took a lascar as interpreter, but 
kept a vigilant watch over him to prevent his communicating un- 
observed with the people of the island. On the 2 1st, about 9 a.m., 
they struck upon a reef about a mile and a half from land. The 
sea at the time was quite smooth and a moderate breeze blowing. 
The long boat was hoisted out and the cutters lowered. The greater 
number of the couvicts, passengers, and crew went to the island 
(Salaout) in the boats, about sixteen lascars and fifteen convicts being 
left on the ship to await the return of the boats. The water rose 
rapidly in the vessel, and at about 1 p.m. she slid off the rocks 
and went down in deep water. The gunner, syrangs, first tindal 
and lascars saved themselves in a small China boat and reached the 
shore about 3 p.m. ; the rest left on the ship were supposed to have 
been drowned. The long boat and cutters also reached the shore 
in safety. The Chinese proposed killing the passengers, but were 
dissuaded from it by some of the lascars. The passengers got safely 
on shore, and found refuge in a Malay hut. The lascars made a 


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1848. 479 

rush into the jangle. The next morning they found the long boat 
gone and some of the Chinese left, who were secured by the Dutch 
and Malays on the island. They were then taken to Sedanow or 
Boongooran, where the passengers and crew received every attention 
from the Datoh Kaya^ and were at last sent to Singapore where 
they arrived on Saturday the 19th February. 

Messrs. Jno. Purvis & Co., the agents in Singapore for Jardine 
Matheson & Co., asked the Government to send the E. I. Co.'s 
steamer Auckland to search for the convicts who had escaped in 
the ship's boats, and to endeavour to save her hull and cargo, and 
through the intervention of Mr. Church and Ciiptain McQuhae of 
H. M. S. Dsedalusy the Phlegethon was sent. In April, news came 
from Bangkok that Chinese, supposed to be some of the escaped 
convicts, cast-away there on an island named Pulo Ubi, had been 
seen by a vessel named the Celerity, and the Phlegetho^i went there 
to search. On the 26th April the trial of the nineteen men sent 
by the Orang Kaya took place. A temporary gallery was put up 
in the Court for the accommodation of ladies, many of whom, includ- 
ing Mrs. Butterworth and Mrs. Church were present. The Judgea 
were Col. Butterworth, Sir Christopher Rawlinson (the Recorder), and 
Mr. Church. It lasted four days; the jury found all the prisoners 
guilty, but on the first count of the indictment only, which was for 
piracy simply, the other counts being for murder and piracy with 
violence. The following remarks then took place: — 

The Recorder: — Then you find all the prisoners guilty of taking 
possession of the ship by violence? 

Foreman: — No, my Lord; we find them guilty on the first count 

The Recorder: — ^Then you mean to say by your verdict that the 
prisoners at the bar used no violence in taking possession of the 

Foreman: — Yes, my Lord. 

His Lordship desired to know if the jury entertained especial 
grounds for recommending some of the prisoners to the merciful con- 
sideration of the Court; the foreman stated that he had not been 
instructed as to the reasons, but some of the jury desired especial 
recommendations. His Lordship said that if the jury were satisfied 
there was but little or conflicting evidence on which to convict, 
they ought to have acquitted such of the prisoners. 

The jury, while finding all the prisoners guilty, recommended a 
number to mercy and three of the prisoners "particularly to mercy." 
On which the Recorder remarked that the jury had taken a most 
lenient view of their case. They, the jury, as judges of the evidence, 
had arrived at the conclusion (he knew not how, he knew not why), 
that notwithstanding a number of murders had been committed 
before possession was gained of the vessel, still they, the prisoners, 
in the minds of the jury, were not guilty of the violence which 
was proved, if they believed the witnesses, to have been enacted on 
board the vessel. His Lordship did " 7iot helicve that any human 
being present, except that jury, tcould have arrived at the conclusion 
they did:' 


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480 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Oil which the Free Prefis remarked: — '*This verdict has excited 
considerable coiuuieiit, and we have heard that some of the explana- 
tions of the Hon'ble the Recorder were misunderstood by the Jury. 
It is, however, better that they should lean to mercy, than that 
through any panic or other feeling they should convict indiscrimi- 
nately. When it is considered that the trial lasted three days, the 
Court on each day commencing its sitting at 9 o'clock a.m., and 
continuing it to a late hour, that there were nineteen prisoners, the 
case of each of whom was to be viewed separately and distinctly, 
that the witnesses were numerous, and in some cases rather suspicious, 
that the evidence, from the very nature of the case, the revolt 
having happened in the dead of the night, was vague and inconclu- 
sive; taking all these into account, we conceive that, without much 
fuller and more accurate notes than we imagine any of the Jury 
took, it was almost impossible to return a very discriminative verdict, 
unless indeed the Jury had considered it consistent with their oaths 
to follow implicitly the summing up from the Bench. The Court 
met on Saturday at noon, when sentence of death was directed to 
be recorded against the whole of the prisoners, and five of them — 
the carpenter, the two Chinese sailors, and two of the convicts — 
who appeared to have taken an active part in the affair, were sen- 
tenced to be transported to Bombay for life. The Court took 
further time to determine what should be done with the others. 
In passing sentence the Hon'ble the Recorder made some strong 
remarks on the verdict of the Jury, which he said (although he 
could not arrive at the grounds on which they had formed their 
opinion of the case) the Court was bound to endeavour to give 
effect to it; that, although sentence of death against them all would 
be recorded on the first count, yet he felt so hampered by the Ver- 
dict of the Jury, they he could not allow that sentence to be 
carried out. His Lordship hoped that his thus acting on what he 
believed to be the constitutional view of the law, would not be at- 
tended by evil consequences." 

On Monday, the 8th May, the H. C. steamer Phleyethou, Capt. 
Niblett, returned from her visit to Pulo Ubi, having on board 
twenty-eight Chinese said to be part of the convicts escaped from 
the General Wood. The men offered some resistance when it was 
wished to apprehend them, and one or two were killed or died 
from the w^ounds then received. It appeared that fourteen of the 
convicts left Pulo Ubi in the long boat with the intention of trying 
to find their way to Chhia, five went to Siam, and three took their 
departure for Singapore on board a junk. Most of the officers and crew 
of the steamer contracted fever while lying at Pulo Ubi, and their 
fuel and water had got very low on their way back when they fortu- 
nately fell in with H. M. Steamer Fury, which supplied their wants 
and took them in tow. 

The Phlegethon's boats had rowed round Pulo Ubi, and found the 
retreat of the convicts in a joss-house near the shore, and a number 
of articles belonging to tlie General IVood, including the chronometer 
and a card-case of Mrs. Seymour's, which left no doubt that they were 
on the right track, and, after a great deal of trouble, and stratagem. 


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1848. 481 

as the island was ten or twelve miles in circumference and abounding 
in caves and thick jungle^ the captain pretended to give it up in 
despair, and the vessel went away, leaving some of the crew disguised 
as Cochin-Chinese; and thirty convicts were eventually captured. The 
account given by the prisoners was that they were about seven days 
at sea and arrived at Pulo Ubi early in February in two boats, sixty 
iu number. After sailing about the island to reconnoitre, they landed 
well armed at the village and immediately took possession. The in- 
habitants, about thirty in number, fled to the jungle, and they helped 
themselves to everything. The largest boat, in which it is supposed 
most of the valuables and treasure were deposited, they never left 
without a strong guard, anchoring in deep water every night; this boat 
they decked over and otherwise disfigured. In the night, with about 
twelve of their number, they left, promising to send a junk for the re- 
mainder; the other boat was sunk on the appearance of the Celerity, 
Others had also left by various opportunities. The following seemed to 
be the end of the whole number: — 

Drowned at Natunas ... ... ... ... 15 

Captured by the natives ... ... ... ... 18 

Gone to China in long boat ... ... ... 12 

Do. Siam in Pukat ... ... ... ... 5 

Do. Singapore do. ... ... ... ... 3 

Do. Hainam do. ... ... ... ... 3 

Do. Chinchew do. ... ... 2 

Captured by the Phlegethon 30 

Left on Pulo Ubi 5 

Total Chinese convicts 93 

A special criminal sessions was held, on the 18th May, to try the 
convicts brought back by the Phlegethon, and they were all convicted. 
The paper in remarking upon the execution of those convicts who were 
lianged (three men only, in consequence of the verdict of the first 
jury), made the following final remarks on the subject: — 

" From the confessions of some of the convicts, made since sentence 
was passed upon them, it would appear the Chinese carpenter of the 
General Wood was the sole concocter of the desperate resolve to rise 
and seize the vessel. This arch-villain, who had joined the ship but a 
month or two before, was no sooner at Singapore than he communicated his 
design to some of the convicts, when the plot was readily entered into. 
From the confession made, it would appear that one p: isoner, a cook who 
was hanged, was loose on the night of the disturbance, and prepared 
billets of firewood by tapering the ends conveniently to handle; it was 
then arranged that sixteen on one chain were to be released by the 
one at the head of the chain forcing the lock, and the duty of these 
sixteen was to separate themselves into four parties, and that the 
parties were to single out the captain and three mates as their victims. 
The sepoy in charge of the key was first killed, and the key taken 
from him; the other convicts were then released and they went on 
deck to carry out their desperate resolution. The captain, it would 
appear, was killed and thrown over-board, as also the chief mate; the 


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482 Anecdotal Hvfiory of Singapore 

second mate was wounded but missed, and although search was made 
throughout the vessel no trace of him could be found. Lieut. Seymour 
at both trials stated that Chinese placed lights near his face apparent- 
ly examining him for some one for whom they were in search, it 
forming no part of the original plot to kill the passengers, of whose 
presence on board they were scarcely aware. Prisoners Nos. 1 and 10 
(the latter admitted as Queen's evidence) were of the party who killed 
the captain and mate. The unfortunate third mate, who, after manfully 
resisting the Chinese until nearly exhausted, managed to escape np 
the mizeu mast into the mizen-top, was dragged down by Wong Ah 
Leang and despatched with a sword ; a blanket was then thrown over 
him; at daylight, on observing a brig at anchor not very far distant, 
they were fearful of throwing the body overboard lest it should float 
and be discovered, so the corpse was rolled up in wax cloth and kept 
till the evening when it was cast into the sea. From all we learn it 
would appear that the prisoners pointed out as having taken an 
active part was substantially correct, and that amongst the worst 
actors in the dreadful tragedy were some of those convicted at the 
first trial, but by an unfortunate verdict permitted to escape the 
extreme penalty of the law." 

The Government sent some handsome presents to the Orang Kaya 
and people of the Natunas for their assistance to the passengers 
and crew of the General Wood, and for the capture of the convicts; 
among other, things was a six-pounder brass gun with a suitable 

The tragedy of the General Wood raised an outcry against con- 
victs being sent from Hongkong to Singapore; for a few years 
Chinese had been transported from there, and strong representations 
had been made on the subject. It was afterwards stopped. With 
reference to the previous cases of similar murders, the first case 
seems to have occurred on board the Freak in 1841; another on 
board the Harriett Scott, in September, 1843, which vessel was 
carrying convicts from Penang to Hongkong. The next case was the 
Ariel, in the following year, when the Captain was murdered. This 
was followed by the Loivjee Family, a large country-ship, in November, 
1844. Another case of which the date has not been traced was 
the Virginia. 

At a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in March, a letter 
was addressed to the Resident Councillor soliciting the interference 
of the authorities for the protection of the freedom of the trade of 
the port against certain alleged encroachments on the part of the 
Tumonggong of Johore. The Chamber stated that, for some time 
past, complaints had reached theui of the systematic proceedings adopted 
by the Tumonggong to monopolize the trade in gutta percha. That 
in declarations before them it was represented that native boats 
bringing supplies of gutta for sale in Singapore had been forcibly inter- 
cepted by the Tumonggong's followers. That, further, the Chamber 
was informed that the Tumonggong had boats stationed at different 
points to intercept all prahus with gutta destined for Singapore ; that 
the latter were boarded by armed Malays, and every means taken 
by outward display and show of authority to frighten the natives 


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1848. 483 

into compliance with the Tumonggong's terms. ' It was stated that 
the gutta trade had assumed considerable importance, amounting to 
between 10,000 and 12,000 piculs, valued at from $150,000 to $200,000 
per annum, and that, of this, about nine-tenths of the import had 
been, in defiance of all opposition, secured by the Tumonggong, 
whence it was inferred that extreme influence of some kind was 
used, or some part of it would have found its way to parties who 
offered much higher prices for it than that which the native traders 
received from him. I'he Chamber then stated the serious and dis- 
advantageous consequences likely to arise if such a state of things was 
permitted, and they remarked that they had been credibly informed 
that boats from Siak had actually gone to Malacca to dispose of 
their gutta percha to avoid being exposed to the interference they 
would experience were they to bring it to Singapore. The Chamber 
also represented that by the Treaty or Agreement under which the 
East India Company became possessed of Singapore, the Sultan and 
Tuinonggong of Johore engaged to maintain a free and unshackled 
trade everywhere within their dominions, and to admit the trade 
and traffic of the British nation to all the ports and harbours of the 
Kingdom of Johore and its dependencies on the terms of the most 
favoured nation. 

The Free Press remarked: — "It will be perceived that this is a 
serious question, into which it behoves the authorities to make a 
most thorough investigation. Should it turn out as represented, we 
trust the Government will make His Highness thoroughly aware that 
such conduct on his part, or that of his followers, cannot on any 
account be tolerated for a moment, and that should it be in future 
attempted, he will be visited with their serious displeasure.^^ 

In April, Mr. Balestier's estate was put in trust for his creditors. 
Mr. Balestier had been in Singapore since 1834, and in 1837 he had 
been recognised as American Consul. He had opened a large sugar 
plantation on the land still known as Balestier Plain, which swallow- 
ed up a great deal of money of Russell & Co. of China. The 
plantation was advertised for sale in April, by the Trustee, Mr. 
Joseph H. Weed, and the particulars show how different Balestier 
Plain must have been then from its desolate state now. The enter- 
prise was a complete failure. Mr. Balestier's house has disappeared 
altogether. The following was the advertisement: — 

*'The sugar plantation known as the Balestier Plantation, situated two 
miles from the centre of the Settlement of Singapore, consisting of one thousand 
acres of ground, lying in one body, two hundred and twenty of which are planted 
with sugar canes. The soil is good and produces on an average from twenty to 
twenty-five piculs of i*aw sugar per acre, from cane juice standing at from 9^** 
to ll** of saccharometer. Two crops are obtained in two yeai-s, viz., one of planted 
canes and one of Ratoons. Every field is surrounded by a broad ditch serving 
the purpose of di*aiDage by irrigation, and all communicatmg with a canal fourteen 
feet in width and upwards of two miles in length, louming through the whole 
extent of the property, and on which the canes are carried in boats to the mills 
and the crops taken directly to the shipping in the roads, if required. One or 
two water wheels may be easily worked on this stream. The buildings consist of 
one two-story dwelling house for a large family and necessary out-houses in eood 
repair. An out-house for the Superintendent, a boiling house with a set of fiat 
bottom pans — two of thick copper and three of iron — all connected and communi- 


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484 Ajiecdotal History of Singapore 

eating with one another by means of valves, copper skimmera, filfcerers, Ac. 
making five to six thousand pounds of sugar per day. An enmie house and 
a ten-norse steam engine from the Low Moor Factory and a norizontal^ iron 
mill for crushing the cane, all in excellent working order; a curing or draining- 
house with an ample stock of earthen pots and jars, and 250 wooden drain- 
ing boxes of the capacity of four piculs, or five hundred pounds of sugar each, 
in which the suear is bleached. A store room is attached, with bina to receire 
the sugar after being dried on a drier close by. And of a distillery consisting 
of two copper pei;petual Stills, Baglioni's patent, and fermentation vats, all in 
working order; adjoining is a godown and large i-eceiving casks. The estate 
is stocked with two Sydney horses and a young elephant nsed in ploughing: 
bulls and bullocks used to the plough and cai'ts; cartfi and ploughs of various 
sizes. English nnd American cultivators, extirpators, harrows and a great 
quantity of iron pipes and implements of husbandry useful on a plantation, in- 
cluding a rotai-y fire engine. In the garden, near the dwelling house, are many 
trees of China fruit, and rare plants and flowers. The property will be sold at a 
great bargain with the standing crop. Picked Chinese and Klings, male labonrers, 
are to be had in any number at three Spanish dollars per month, they finding 
themselves in everything. 

The London Daily Neivn published at full length the petition sent 
by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce to the House of Commons on 
the subject of the encroachments of the Dutch on our trade, and 
wrote lengthy leading articles on the subject. Lord Palmerston 
deputed Mr. James Brooke, who was then in England, to enqnire 
and report on the subject. The Dutch were much annoyed at the 
action taken by the Singapore merchants, Dutch papers calling it an 
unjustifiable proceeding, and using other strong adjectives rather than 

Mr. T. W. Salmond, who had been Resident Councillor at Malacca, 
died in Penang on the 12th of March, in his forty-first year. 
He joined the Bencoolen service in 1824, and when it was broken 
up was transferred to the Penang Civil List, where he held various 
appointments until 1841, when he went to Malacca as Resident 
Councillor. He was much esteemed, and a large number of natives 
attended his funeral. 

In April, Captain Russell succeeded Captain Ross as Master 
Attendant; he had been the Commander of H. C. steamer Nemesis. 
On the 25th May, H. M. S. Dwdalus, which had been here and in 
China for some years, left for England. Captain McQuhae had con- 
stantly exerted himself for the protection of trade, and he was very 
popular in Singapore. On his way home, he met the sea-serpent, 
the first of its notoriety, which caused so much discussion in 
Singapore and England at the end of the year, and Punch laughed 
at so much. The story is told in Mr. Richard Proctor's book called 
"Pleasant Ways in 8cie7ice" in the chapter headed "Strange Sea 
Creatures,^' and if the whole chapter is read, there may be found 
reason to think that such a thing may have a real existence; and 
that those who gave credit to "old McQuhae," as Admiral Keppel 
calls him in his book, were in the right and the wiseacres in the 
wrong. But he was called "Sea-serpent McQuhae" to the end of 
his life. 

On Saturday evening, the 20th May, H. M. S. Meander, a 44 
gun frigate. Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel, arrived from England, 
having as passengers, Mr. James Brooke, Governor of Labuan, Mr. and 

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1848. 485 

Mrs. William Napier aod their daughter, Mr. Hugh Low (in after 
years Sir Hugh Low, Resident of Perak), Mr. Spencer St. John 
(afterwards Sir Spencer), Secretary to Sir James Brooke, and some others. 
Miss Catherine Napier was married in St. Andrew's Church, Singapore, 
on the 12th August, 1848, to Mr. Hugh Low, and Admiral Keppel 
in his book, published in 1899, speaks of it as " a cheery wedding." 

Mr. Brooke and the other Officers of his Government landed 
on Monday evening and were received with every honour. The 
Governor, Resident Councillor, European residents, and a large con- 
course of natives were present. 

The Free Press wrote of Mr. Brooke's return as follows: — 
'* We sincerely congratulate Mr. Brooke on his return to the scene 
of his labours in the East. The honourable post which he has 
been selected by Her Majesty's Government to fill, will enable him 
to give great assistance in advancing the general interests of com- 
merce, as well as the welfare and civilization of Borneo, and we 
have no doubt that each and all of these objects he will devote 
himself to. The formation of a Crown Colony in the Indian Archi- 
pelago may be looked upon as the commencement of a new and 
most prosperous era in the history of British Commerce in the 
Edstern Archipelago. Already we have a foreshadowing and mani- 
festation of it in the active commerce which has sprung up between 
this place and Bruni, since our relations with that country were 
re-organized. On Tuesday evening, the 23rd, the eve of the anni- 
versary of Her Majesty's birthday, the Government House presented 
a scene of great festivity in honour of the occasion. Invitations to 
a ball and supper had been issued to about one hundred and fifty, 
including the Officers of H. M. Ships now in the harbour. Dancing 
was kept up with great spirit till midnight, when the party sat 
down to an elegant supper, in the course of which his Honour the 
Governor proposed Her Majesty's health, which was drunk with 
the utmost enthusiasm. A novel and striking effect was produced 
by simultaneously lighting blue lights, at a given signal, on the 
difEerent elevations round the town, causing the appearance of a 
sudden illumination. A number of the principal native residents, 
Chinese, Arabs, &c., were also invited, and numerous others gained 
admittance to the grounds, to witness a display of fire-works which 
had been provided for the evening's entertainment." 

A Public Company, called the '^Eastern Archipelago Company," 
instituted for the extension of commerce in the China seas, and for 
promoting the civilization of Borneo, with a capital of £200,000, was 
started in this year, and a notification was issued signed by James 
Brooke, as Governor of Labuan, that the island of Labuan had been 
formally taken possession of by Great Britain, and would be open to 
settlers from the 1st August, as a free port. An office of the 
Labuan Government was opened in Singapore. W. R. Paterson & Co. 
were the Agents. 

The Eastern Archipelago Company was started with Mr. Brooke's 
sanction, but had at bottom a scheme to buy out his rights in Sarawak, 
and to make money out of the country for money's sake, of which Mr. 
Brooke was not aware. It was this that led to serious trouble for 


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486 Anecdotal Hutory of Singapore 

him afterwards^ as will bo told lator on. Admiral Keppel in his last 
book says that he had the opinion that Henry Wise, Uajah Brooke's 
agent in London, who was at the bottom of the matter, managed to 
get Brooke, Napier and other truthful witnesses away from England in 
order to further the scheme to float what was afterwards shown to 
be a fraudulent concern. 

The following letter to the Free Press, in June, gives the parti- 
culars of a matter that is still remembered here, as an example of 
the extraordinary engineering feats that have been attempted by 
Government Military Engineers in Singapore: — ^'^ Allow me through 
the medium of your paper, to congratulate Singapore upon its possessing 
a genius in its Superintending Engineer worthy to rival the ingenious 
Paddy, who finding his blanket rather short for him cut a piece off 
the bottom to join to the top that it might cover his head. I have 
always admired the said Paddy with extreme veneration for the 
brightness of his conception, but he must for the future be content 
with a secondary place and give way to Major Faber. The Grand 
Jury presented that two Bridges across the Canal were, by their 
flatness, obstructive to the traffic during high water, and recom- 
mended their being raised in the centre. Major Faber set his face 
decidedly against any such alteration, but proposed that the bed of 
the Canal should be excavated, and so, of course, to lower the level 
of the water ! A most admirable plan, if only the sea will reduce 
its level or change its nature, to please a Superintending Engineer 
of the Hon'ble Company; which perhaps Major Faber has already 
contracted with it to do. I firmly believe this must be the case, 
as I can hardly fancy that a Major of Engineers, and no doubt 
a scientific man, would have put forth such a proposition without 
some agreement of the kind," 

The newspaper on 1st June said: "Mr. E.A. Blundell, fonnerly 
Acting Governor of these Settlements, and who was one of the victims 
of Lord Ellenborough's military furor, arrived here last week from 
Calcutta by the schooner Eliza Penelope, having been appointed 
Resident Councillor jit Malacca. Mr. Blundell was sworn in on 
Tuesday, and took his departure for Malacca yesterday. We hope, 
for the sake of justice as well as for the interests of these Settle- 
ments, that Mr. BlundelFs appointment to Malacca is only preliminary 
to his restoration to the Government of the Straits Settlements, 
and that our present worthy Governor (Colonel Butter worth) will 
receive an appointment in his own profession, in which he will be 
able to display, to the advantage of his country, those military 
talents which are comparatively lost in a civil employment." 

It was in the Eliza Penelope that Mr. James Meldrum, now 
Date Meldrum of Johore, came from Calcutta to Singapore for the 
first time, arriving there on 27th May, 1848, the only other passenger, 
the Dato now says, being Mr. Blundell ; and it is curious to find 
that the Eliza Penelope was the famous old paddle wheel steamer 
Diana of Captain Congalton, under a new name, which has been 
described on page 281. 

Mr. Joseph Harvey Weed, the Actiug American Consul, who was 
the trustee of the affairs of Mr. Balestier, died in June. 


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1848. 487 

On the 1st August, Mr. G. J. Dare and Mr. Alfred Bernard opened 
the firm of G. J. Dare & Co., as Auctioneers, Shipchandlers and Commis- 
sion Agents. In the same month Mr. Alexander Dyce, of the firm of 
Martin, Dyce & Co., died at sea on the passage from Manila to 
Singapore. Mr. Alexander Dyee had been in Manila, and his brother Mr. 
Charles Dyce in Singapore; their brother was the famous Royal 
Academician who painted some of the frescoes in the House of Lords. 

The following is an account, from the Free Press, of the launch 
of the little gun-boat Ranee, for Sarawak, into the river from 
where Hallpike Street is now: — "On Monday, the 4th August, there 
was launched from the building- yai'd of Messrs. Wilkinson, Tivendale 
& Co., in the presence of Sir F. E. Collier, c.b.. Naval Commander- 
in-chief of this Station, the Hon. T. Church, Esq., Resident Coun- 
cillor, and Captain Young, of the H. C. steamer Auckland, a small 
steamer of elegant proportions, designed by Mr. Bulbeck, Carpenter 
of H. M. S. Meander, Miss Church, the daughter of the Hon. the 
Resident Councillor, christened the vessel by naming her the Ranee, 
Slie is intended for immediate active service for the suppression of 
piracy in the Borneo and Sulu seas. She will leave this on Satur- 
day next, in charge of Mr. Baker of H. IT. S. Meander, in company 
with the H. C. war-steamer Auclcland for Sarawak, where .she will 
join the Meander, and be under the orders of Hon. Captain Keppel 
and Sir James Brooke. This small steamer is 60 feet in length, 
breadth of beam 8 feet 6 inches, fitted with a 4-horse power engine 
by Messrs. Seaward, of Limehouse, and with her armament and 
men, it is stated will not exceed a draught of 26 inches. She has 
a very handsome appearance afloat, is built entirely of teak, coppered 
and copper-fastened, and reflects the highest credit on her con- 
stractors and the Chinese artisans in their employment. Her arma- 
ment is to be two long brass guns and rocket tubes. We wish her 
every success, although the power is stated by those conversant with 
steam navigation to be totally insufficient for the intended purpose.'^ 

The price of gambier was then very low, about 80 cents a picul, 
and the prospects of the Chinese planters were very bad, and the cultiva- 
tion was, in a great many instances abandoned; in Province Wellesley 
the sugar cultivation was also in a very depressed state. 

The new Insolvent Act of Parliament, for India, and extended 
to the Straits, was put in force here in September, and the Chamber 
of Commerce passed some resolutions which were entered in the 
Records of the Chamber; among them was the following: — 

*'The punishments to be inflicted by clauses 25, 50, 51, 52 and 
70 form an important and most salutary feature in this Act. On 
the strictness and just severity with which these powers are carried 
out will mainly depend the success of the measure and its advan- 
tage to the Straits Community, for it cannot be denied that peculiar 
and local causes, the unsettled and migratory habits of native trad- 
ers here, their generally low origin, the difficulty of detecting, and 
impossibility of punishing frauds as public crimes, have induced 
much laxity, recklessness and demoralization among many classes of 
traders, it being estimated that from two-thirds to three-quarters of 
native failures in Singapore are fraudulent. This may, for some time, 


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488 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

render necessary a vigorous and unsparing application o£ tlie powers 
of punishment now conferred. Henceforward imprisonment will be- 
come, not as now — incarceration of the debtors' body as security for 
debt — but a punishment inflicted upon him as a public criminal, 
and it will be most desirable that this broad distinction be clearly 
brought to the understanding of native traders coming within the 
jurisdiction of the Court/^ 

A Masonic banquet was given in June, of which the following 
was an account, which we print as it contains reference to some 
well-known names: — 

"On Saturday, the 24fth June, being the anniversary of the 
festival of St. John the Baptist, the Brethren held a special meeting 
at high twelve for the purpose of receiving in due form James 
Brooke, Governor, and W. Napier, Lieut-Governor, of Labuaii, who 
afterwards remained to witness the initiation of a new candidate 
for admission to the Masonic mysteries and privileges — Lieut. H. W. 
Comber of H. M. S. Meander/^ He is now a retired Rear Admiral. 
The Lodge was then in North Bridge Road on the West side, near 
where Hock Lam Street is now. 

" In the evening these distinguished visitors, with Captain the 
Hon'ble H. Keppel, were invited to meet the Past Master and 
Brethren at a Farewell Banquet given to the Worshipful Master 
Brother W. H. Read, on the occasion of his expected early departure 
to Europe. The Brethren with their distinguished guests sat down 
to a sumptuous dinner at 7 o'clock. The Worshipful Past Master 
was in the Chair; the Worshipful Master on his right. Brother 
Brooke on his left. The Senior Warden acted as Croupier ; the 
Hon'ble Captain Keppel on his right, the Hon'ble Brother Napier, 
on his left. All the other officers of the Lodge were in their ap- 
propriate seats and the other brethren took their places under the 
direction of the Stewards for the occasion. Brothers J. B. Gumming 
and M. F. Davidson. Li front of the Lodge a beautifully illuminated 
square and compasses was exhibited, and the interior of the Banquet 
Room throughout the evening presented an unvaried scene of harmony 
and animated enjoyment. Much of the success of the evening's 
entertainment is to be attributed, we believe, to the delightful com- 
placency of Brother Brooke. In the hands of a gentleman of his 
polished demeanour, it may be easily conceived he had no difficulty- 
in exhibiting to perfection the beautiful masonic lesson — that all 
masons are, as brethren, upon the same level — yet masonry takes no 
honour from any man that he had before, for masons are bound 
not to derogate from that respect which is due to Jiny brother, were 
he not a mason : these great truths and principles were most 
happily illustrated on this delightful occasion. We believe we may 
venture to say that this festival Avill be a Red Letter Day in 
the annals of * Zetland in the East,^ and in the memory of every 
one who had the gratification of participating in its enjoyment." 

In July it was proposed to start a local Marine Insurance 
Company. There were then 18 agencies in Singapore for different 
companies, and it was ascertained that the amount of premiums re- 
ceived during the preceding four years had been between 5112,000 


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1848. 489 

and $123,000, yearly. It was said that a local company would obtain 
a large share of the business. It was never carried out, and it was 
not until over thirty years later that the first local assurance com- 
pany was established, and was afterwards wound up. 

The paper in August contained the following paragraph: — 

"It is our duty this week to chronicle the disappearance of the 
well-known mass of rock situated on the Singapore side of the 
Western entrance to New Harbour, called by natives Batii Bclayevj 
and by Europeans Lot's Wife. This rock, which was composed of 
a mass of very hard conglomerate, partially crystallised, has been 
known to navigators in the Straits for many hundreds of years, and 
we believe figures upon old charts engraved upwards of 200 yenrs 
ago.'' It was blown up. 

The following letter to the Free Press, in August, shows that 
the question of the necessity for the defence of Singapore was then 
quite appreciated by the mercantile community. Admiral Sir Francis 
Collier had just arrived from England in the P. & 0. Mail and had 
hoisted his flag on Captain Keppel's ship the Meander : — 

"The present is a favourable moment for calling attention to a 
subject which is of paramount importance to Singapore. I mean the 
great advantages which would accrue to this Settlement were it 
made the Principal Naval Station in these Seas. The arrival of the 
gallant Admiral, now here, is the most favourable moment that for 
years has offered for attaining the end in view. Seeing that not 
only is the Admiral enabled to form his own judgment upon personal 
examination, but that Captain the Hon'ble H. Keppel is also here, 
it would be presumption to call his attention to the concentrical 
position we hold in the direct route between India and China, and 
within three days^ sail of the Straits of Sunda, which may be looked 
upon as the prison-house of our China trade whenever a European 
War shall tempt an enemy's cruisers, whether legitimate or ruthless 
Privateers, to lie in wait there, should the seas in that neighbourhood 
not be protected by the English Ensign. 

"It is therefore the more selfish note of self interest that I 
would sound. This will not only be believed as sincere, but will 
relieve me from the imputation of offering him that which, if feasible, 
will no doubt have already been su^fgested by that distinguished 
officer. Captain Keppel, who is as highly respected for his profes- 
sional talents as he is esteemed for that urbanity which has made 
him ever so deservedly popular in Singapore. 

"The eclat which Singapore would derive from becoming the 
nominal head-quarters of the Naval Commander-in-chief would be 
understood by all, while the benefit arising from the circulation of 
money expended in the construction of Public Works, would be 
more substantial, especially if the docks, which must sooner or later 
be built here, should be taken in hand by Government instead of 
being deferred till private enterprise carry out the undertaking. 
But the most important advantage we should obtain would be the 
safety and security which would thus be conferred upon our Settle- 
ment whenever a war breaks out, as break out I fear it must ere 
long. The idea of fortifying Singapore, about which so much noise 


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490 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

was made, seems to be given up, so we must trust to the 'woodeu 
walls.' Should this become the chief Naval Station, these natural 
guardians of a defenceless but valuable seaport like ours, and which 
will then probably become a rendezvous for our merchantmen when 
either waiting for convoy or in want of shelter from the enemy's 
cruisers; then these natural guardians will always be upon the spot 
in greater or less force/' 

On Tuesday, the 22nd August, Mr, Brooke was created a K.O.B., 
the Queen's warrant, addressed to Mr. William Napier, Lieutenant- 
Governor of Labuan, having been received in Singapore while he 
was still here, with instructions from Prince Albert to omit nothing 
in the ceremony that might evince the esteem entertained by the 
Queen for Mr. Brooke. The ceremony took place in the Public 
Assembly Rooms, at the foot of Fort Canning, and the Free Prrsfi 
contained a very long account of the most elaborate ceremonial that 
had ever taken place in Singapore; from which we. take the fol- 
lowing : — 

"The investiture took place in the Public Assembly Rooms, which 
were fitted up in a suitable manner. At one end of the large room 
a dais or platform had been run across the whole breadth of the 
apartment, and, raised two steps above this, a chair was placed to 
represent a throne, under a canopy of crimson velvet edged with 
gold lace, the dais and steps of the throne being covered with red 
cloth. The whole apartment was very tastefully decorated with flags, 
while the main entrance of the building outside was ornamented 
with a variety of shrubs and flowers. The accommodation for visitors 
consisted of rows of chairs running down both sides of the throne- 
room on a graduated rise, leaving an open space in the centre which 
was also covered with red cloth, for the processions to advance 
towards the throne, comfortable seats for 240 spectators beintr thus 
provided. Facing the throne, the Royal Marines of H. M. S. Meander 
were ranged along the other end of the room, to act as a guard 
of honour, the Band of the same vessel being stationed in the 
gallery erected in the apartment. In the spacious portion which is 
on a level with this room, a flank Company of the 21st Regiment 
M. N. I. was stationed, to j^.ct as a guard of honour to Sir Jatnes 
Brooke, the Band of the same Regiment being also stationed in the 
portico. A little after 11 o'clock visitors began to arrive in consider- 
able numbers, and at about half-past eleven Mr. W, Napier drove 
up to the rooms, and was shortly followed by Sir J. Brooke, who was 
received with the usual military honours by the guard of the 21st 
Regt. At 12 o'clock the Royal Standard was hoisted on a flag- staff 
on Government Hill under a salute of 21 guns from the battery on 
shore and the ships of war in the harbour, which was the signal for 
the ceremonial to commence. The procession now moved from the 
banqueting room, where they had assembled, entering the throne room 
by a side door at the end, and passing in front of the guard of 
Marines. The guard of honour of Royal Marines saluted the Lieutenant- 
Governor in the usual manner as he passed their front, and the Band 
of H. M. S. Meander struck up God Save the Queen as the procession 
entered, and kept playing as it moved up, until Mr. Napier had taken 


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1848. 491 

his seat on the throne — when the music ceased. [Here follows a list 
of the first procession, which included Mr. John Connolly, the SherifiF; 
Mr. Hugh Low ; Major Faber ; the Rev. H. Moule, the Chaplain ; and 
twenty others.] 

After a little time Mr. Brooke's procession began to move, entering 
the throne room by the door opposite that by which the other proces- 
sion entered, and passed in front of the guard of Marines, and up the 
centre towards the throne. [Here follows a list of the second pro- 
cession, which included Dr, Treacher, Colonial Surgeon of Labuan ; 
Mr. Thomas Dunman, Superintendent of Police; Mr. St. John, one of Sir 
James Brockets Secretaries; Dr. Oxley; Mr. Behn, Hamburg Consul; 
Mr. Nicol, Danish Consul ; Sir Jose d' Almeida, Consul-General for 
Portugal ; Mr. C. Johnston (now Rajah of Sarawak) Aide-de-Camp to Sir 
J. Brooke; Mr. Thos. Church, Resident Councillor; and over twenty 
others ; and was followed by Captain Keppel and Mr. Brooke himself.] 

Mr. Low, Secretary to the Government of Labuan, then read and 
published the following letter from His Royal Highness Prince Albert, 
Great Master of the Order, communicating the Royal Warrant for the 
investiture, viz: — 

Buckingham Palace, 

23rd May, 1848. 

Sir, — The Queen having been graciously pleased as a mark of 
Her Royal approbation of the services of James Brooke, Esquire, 
Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Labuan, 
to appoint him an Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the 
Second Class or Knights Commanders of the Most Honourable Order 
of the Bath; I am to signify to you Her Majesty's pleasure that 
you should invest him with the Insignia of that Class and Division 
of the Order (herewith transmitted) in conformity to the enclosed 
Royal Warrant; and it being Her Majesty's intention that the same 
be done in the most honourable and distinguished manner that cir- 
cumstances will allow of, you will concert and adjust with him such time 
and manner for investing him with the Insignia of a Civil Knight 
Commander of the said Most Honorable Order, and at the same time 
mark in the most public manner Her Majesty's just sense of the zeal 
and ability displayed by Mr. Brooke in the service of his country. 

I am with consideration. 
Yours, &c., 

Great Master. 

To William Napier, Esq., 

Ac, &c., &c., 

Lieut.-Governor of Labuan. 

The Mandate of the Sovereign having been read, the Revd. 
H. Moule, Residency Chaplain, read an appropriate prayer. Mr. 
Napier after a long speech, eulogistic of Sir James, invested him 
with the order, after which Sir James Brooke made the following 
reply: — "The honour you have now conferred upon me by 


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492 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

command of Her Most Gracious Majesty has naturally excited in 
my breast feelings both of gratitude and of pride. I feel myself 
grateful to my Sovereign for this mark of distinction ; and proud 
that the Queen should have deemed me worthy to receive it, 

" With the approval of his Sovereign her grateful subject may 
be absolved from the task of speaking of his own service : he can 
only hope that the future may be as the past has been, and that 
ho may be enabled faithfully to discharge his duty to his Queen 
and to his country. 

" Were I to say, Sir, that this decoration could either stimulate 
or increase the loyalty I entertain towards Her Majesty, I should 
be doing less than justice to myself; for my feelings of loyalty, in 
common I trust with those of every British subject, are not sus- 
ceptible of increase. 1 value this distinction, I value it most highly, 
as a token of lier Majesty's most gracious approbation, and sanctioned 
by this approbation, I shall wear it with the proud consciousne.-> 
of having won it in this far and distant part of the world. 

*' Sir, as the Representative of the Crown on this occasion, 3^ou 
will permit me to express my acknowledgments for the kind and flat- 
tering tenns you have used in speaking of me; and to say that I 
trust our future career together may be distinguished by the confi- 
dence and good will which has ever existed between us. Sir, I beg 
to thank you for the manner you have discharged the duty which 
Her Majesty the Queen has done you the honour to entrust to your 

A numerous party assembled at the Ball in the evening given 
by the Lieut-Governor of Labuan to meet Sir James Brooke, and 
dancing was kept up with great animation until a late hour. 

This was an occasion that was long remembered by the community 
of Singapore, and by Colonel Butterworth, the Governor, who lost his 
watch, and by Mrs. Butterworth, who had all her jewellery stolen 
the same night from Government House (on Fort Canning) after the 
Ball. The Meander^ left on the following day for Labuan with Sir 
James Brooke. 

The following letter from "An old Resident" (Mr. W. H. Read) 
appeared in the Free Press in 1884, the time some of these papers 
were first being published: — ''The Ball-room in the Assembly Rooms 
was fitted up for the occasion, a dais was erected, and three chairs 
placed thereon, the middle one, as is usual on such occasions, 
representing the Royal Throne. Mr. Napier was an old resident in 
Singapore, and a general favourite; but his peculiar way of carry- 
ing his head, of brushing his hair, and swagger of body, had earned 
him the title of 'Royal Billy.' Fully impressed with the importance 
of the functions he had to perform (and, perhaps, a little bit more 
so than was necessary), the Lieut.-Governor endossed his uniform, 
begirt himself with his sword, and was marshalled into the room 
prepared for the ceremony, 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 ! There was a general titter, and the Admiral, Sir Francis 


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1848. 493 

Colljer, who was present, made an exclamation more vigorous than 
polite in its language. The ceremony proceeded, and Sir James Brooke 
inade 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! ^A better fellow, 
a.iid 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 
cliaracter, and so well up in most subjects. He it was who started 
the Free Press, and was for years its Editor, handing over his pen to 
Mr. Abraham Logan, when he left for home in 1846 or 1847, coming 
out again in ihe Meander in 1848, on the Labuan Staff, with Mr. 
Low, now Sir Hugh, as his Secretary." 

It was on May 30th in this year that Captain Keppel wrote in 
his diary, on board the Meander, 

"In pulling about in my gig among the numerous prettily wooded 
islands on the westward entrance to the Singapore river, I was as- 
tonished to find deep water close to the shore, with a safe passage 
through for ships larger than the Meander. Now that steam is 
likely to come into use this ready made harbour as a depot for 
coals would be invaluable. I had the position surveyed, and sent 
it with my report to the Board of Admiralty; as it was, the forge 
was landed, and artificers employed nnder commodious sheds, all 
under the eyes of the officers on board.'' 

These repairs of the Meander were, therefore, the first repairs 
done in New Harbour, on the spot where the Tanjong Pagar wharves 
now extend for some mile and a half, crowded with steamers. The 
diary on 24th August, 1849, while Captain Keppel was still in the Meander, 
contained this : — " Having reported to the Admiralty over twelve 
months ago the natural advantages of the inner Harbour of Singa- 
pore as a coaling station, and no notice having been taken . of my 
letter, I now sent a similar statement, with survey to the Secretary 
of the P. & 0. Company." So it was Keppel who first sailed through 
New Harbour, and Singaporeans often said that it should have not 
been called New Harbour, which meant nothing, but Keppel Harbour. 
This was eventually done on 19th April, 1900, when the old Admiral was on 
a visit to Singapore, and staying at Government House with the 
Acting Governor, Sir Alexander Swettenham, who made it an occa- 
sion of much pleasure to the old man in his ninety-second year, 
whose name had been at the very top of the Active List of the Navy for 
ten years. The road to New Harbour was called Keppel Road 
fifteen years before, which pleased the Admiral very much; and when 
the name of the Harbour was changed, the men of war, the Governor's 
yacht, a number of merchant steamers, and a great tail of steam 
launches, steamed through the narrow passage, through which the 
Meander first passed, and Sir Alexander Swettenham broke a bottle 
on a large iron buoy in the centre of the passage, and everyone near 
shouted when he called out the new name, and it was taken up all 
down the line. It may be mentioned that the Meander shoal in New 
Harbour was discovered by the keel of Captain Keppel's ship! 

Captain Keppel had pointed out to the Admiralty and to the 
P. & O. Company the present site of the Tanjong Pagar Docks and 


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494 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Wharves on the main island, but a wiseacre of a Naval Officer irho 
came a few years after him managed to persuade the Admiralty to 
put their wharf on Pulo Brani^ on the opposite island, where there are 
cross tides, and dangerous mooring. Perhaps it was as well for the 
trado of the place^ and the great steam traffic that has grown up since, that 
Captain Keppel's advice was disregarded by the Admiralty, or a few men 
of war would have occupied the ground that is now invalaable for 
shipping. The Navy never use the site on Pulo Brani, but go to the Dock 
Compfiny's Wharves on the site which Captain Keppel originally advised. 

The Meander was in Singapore for several mouths in both \b^ 
and 1849, and the Admiral's book contains many references to what 
he did, and to former residents. 

The following appeared in the Free Press on 4th September, it seem* 
to have been somewhat prophetic of after times : " At various times we 
have had occasion to find fault with the Peninsular and Oriental Company 
and their behaviour towards the public, and, from all we can learn, the 
ni()no]M)ly which they have acquired between England and her Eastem 
jMissessions has not in any way quickened their desire to meet the public 
convenience. On the contrary it has the usual effect of monopoly, an ex- 
chisive concern for their own interests, and a complete disregard for that 
of others. The passengers from China and the Straits especially suflFer from 
the conduct of the (/onipany, which having secured their money, g\\^^ 
itself no further trouble about them. There is no accommodation reserved 
for passengers from the East in the Red Sea steamers, so that if the 
steamer from Calcutta and Madras is full, the unlucky Far Easterns must 
wait in Ceylon for a month before they can have the chance of going on ; 
and for this heavy expense the Company, as far as we are aware, make iio 
allowance. Further, a person taking a first class passage is only entitle*] 
to a cabin on the orlop deck lighted by a scuttle, which in general is only 
opened in the Red Sea, and if there is an empty cabin on the main deck, 
150 in addition is charged, or the cabin is locked up and kept empty. 
Those facts may serve as illustration of the way in which the Company cj.» 
business, and of the care they bestow upon the comfort of those who pay 
them all they choose to ask for passage." 

A few weeks afterwards a correspondent asked the Editor why the P. 
and O. charged $25 passage money from Penang to Singapore, and S5(i 
from Singapore to Penang ; and the Editor gave it up. 

The Free Press contained the following account of the celebration of 
St. Andrew's day, and of an exhibition of fireworks at New Harbour in 
the same week : — 

"St. Andrew's day was cele*brated on Thursday last by the patriotic 
sons of Scotia in Singapore with an enthusiasm and devotion which 
proved that they were scions of no degenerate race. A number met 
at dinner in the public rooms in the evening, where they gave a fret^ 
vent to their feelings of nationality, and the song and pledge went 
round to a late hour. A number of eloquent and inspiring addresses were 
delivered by different gentlemen during the evening and the whole 
passed off with that cordiality and unanimity of sentiment and feeling, 
which give the chief charm to such festive meetings." 

" The Tumonggong received the company in a rustic pavilion which had 
been erected at Pantei Chermin, on a rising ground overlooking the New 

Digitized by 


1848. 495 

Harbour, and it was decorated with much taste, llie buildinjjf was soon 
filled by such an assemblage of the 'beauty and fashion' of the station, 
as we never remember to have witnessed before. The arrival of the Gov- 
enior and Mrs. Butterworth, announced by the firing of a salute, was the 
siornal for the commencement of the exhibition, and then firework succeeded 
firework in rapid succession, rockets, blue-lights, flower-pots, wheels, ducks, 
iiuil last, though not least, the Chinese drums with their minute popula- 
tion, who spend their brief existence in public in the uncomfortable posi- 
tion of suspension by the pigtail surrounded by an atmosphere of squibs 
and crackers that would choke even a Salamander. 

" The views interiorly and exteriorly were most striking, comprising 
as they did every degree of civilization from the wild orang laut, the 
i^xcited Malay, the solemn Arab, and the grinning celestial, to the pale Kuro- 
])c»an beauty. A supper was provided for those who wished to partake of 
it, and was done due credit to, and about ten o'clock the whole party 
lu^took themselves to their carriages, and then came the tug of war. Many 
\v€*re the mishaps which ensued. The road, previously not in a very first- 
rato condition, had got dreadfully cut up by the passage of the numerous 
v(*bicles going to the village, and in returning many carriages fairly stuck 
fast, including, we have heard, those of high functionaries, who were thus, 
for once in their lives, practically convinced of the inconveniences which 
tIh^ public suffer when the roads get out of order. The only material 
injury we have heard of as resulting from this state of the roads, besides 
])roken harness, strained vehicles and jaded horses, was that inflicted on 
the company by being deprived of the pleasure of listening to the music of 
the band of the twenty-first Regiment, it having been found impossible to 
cret the instruments through. Notwithstanding these little drawbacks, 
however, those present were much delighted with the night's exhibition, 
and grateful to His Highness for the trouble he took in thus providing for 
their amusement." 

The paper remarked on the improvements that had been made at New 
Harbour by the Tumonggong, as follows : — " The great changes, and in 
most instances improvements, which have taken place of late years in 
Singapore, both as regards the architecture of the town, and the cultiva- 
tion of the country, are nowhere so strikingly manifested as at Teluk 
Blangah, the residence of His Highness the Tumonggong. There, within a 
few years past, but especially in more recent times, the whole aspect of 
tilings has been changed, and everywhere improved. A few years ago, 
Teluk Blangah only presented the appearance of a very dirty Malay 
village, the royal residence being merely distinguished from its neighl)ours 
by being of brick, and if possible dingier and dirtier than the rest. Now 
everything has put on a new face. The money, which has flowed so 
copiously into the Teluk Blangah coffers, through the successful dealings 
of His Highness and his followers in the gutta trade, has been more judi- 
cially applied than is generally the case when Malays become possessed of 
a little cash, and instead of being expended on evanescent shows and spec- 
tacles, or squandered at the gambling-table and cock-pit, it has been laid 
nut in improving the outward appearance of Teluk Blangah. His High- 
ness has built for himself several extremely neat houses and baleis in the 
European style, which are gay with green and white paint, and many of 
^is followers have done the same, their smart, green venetianed, tile- 


ized by Google 

496 Anecdotal Hifffory of Singapore 

roofed houses, being an extreme contrast to the rude huts in which they 
formerly were content to live. The old palace, now the residence of the 
mother of the Tumonggong, has also been cleaned up and white-washed, 
and altogether has a very nice a})pearance. 

" In addition to these Malay residences, several large European 
houses have also been constructed in the close vicinity of Teluk Blangah, 
and we have heard of others about to be erected. No less remarkable is the 
spirit of agricultural improvement which seems to have seized upon thi- 
Tumonggong and his followers. The hills overhanging the village, and >* liicli 
heretofore were covered with a thick jungle giving shelter and cover t-» the 
tigers, are now being ra])idly divested of their coverings, and plaiite*i witli 
fruit and spice trees. Much of this improvement is no doubt owing to the 
advice and example of the European gentlemen, whose opinion His High- 
ness has the sense to ask, and still greater sense to follow; but evenmakinir 
allowance for all this, enough still remains to show that there must l>e a 
real desire to adopt the comforts and conveniences, and the more settle<l 
and industrious habits of civilized life, instead of adhering to the rude 
habitations and the idle and equivocal habits which formerly were thv 
marks and distinguishing characteristics of the Teluk Blangah Malays.'' 

In December, the paper wrote as follows, and the proposal was carrieil 
out thirty-seven years afterwards: — "Now that the Ksplanade is nearly 
(•1os(m1 in and the green sward protected from the incur.sions of pony-racing, 
drunken sailors, we trust the crowning improvement will not be forgotten. 
In the centre of the Esplanade there ought to be placed a suitable monu- 
ment to mark the achievements of the founder of this Settlement — Sir 
Thomas Stamford Eaffles. The example of that great and good nmn ought 
])rominently to be set forth, and where so appropriately as the scene of his 
labours ? What is so attractive to the imagination, as the memorial rai.sed 
to a great man by his admiring fellow-citizens ? Monuments are the appr««- 
])viate rtnvards of virtue, the evidences of a country's gratitude. We thrt»w 
out this hint in the hope that some of the influential members of society 
will take the initiative.'^ 

The followhig account of the Masonic Dinner on St. John's Day appeared 
ill the Free Press. It is reprinted here as it will be interesting from the 
record it gives of some of the best known Singaporeans of the time. Mr. 
Ilobert Duif was tlien the resident partner in Shaw, Whitehead & Co., a 
iirm established in 1834; Mr. Michie Forbes David.son and Mr. Robert Rain 
were partners in A. L. Johnston & Co. ; Mr. J. C. Smith was Head-raa>*<ter t»f 
tlie Institution Free School (the Raffles); Captain Charles Morgan Elliot, of 
the Engineers, was here on special duty for the magnetic survey department ; 
Mr. Caldwell was Senior Sworn ('lerk of the Court; Frommurzjee Sorabjee 
>vas a Parsee merchant; Dr. Charles Curties and Dr. Allen were Surgeons 
and Medical Practitioners ; Mr. F. A. Cargill was the Manager of the 
Oriental Bank ; Mr. G. H. Brown had come down from Penang in 1847 and 
was organist of the old St. Andrew's Church ; Mr. Tivendale was a ship- 
wright in High Street, under the name of Wilkinson, Tivendale & Co., and 
Mr. J. G. Barnes was third master in the Institution School : — 

" The Annual Festival of the Sons of St. John was celebrated on the 
evening of the 27th December by the members of the Lodge ' Zetland in 
the East,' by a magnificent banquet, to which all the brethren on the island 
and a number of other guests, who did not belong to the craft of Freemasonrv 


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184S. 497 

were invited. The company sat down to dinner at half-past seven o'clock — 
tlie Band of the 21st Eegiment, by the kind permission of the Officers, 
being in attendance. The room was brilliantly lighted up, and the arrange- 
ment of the table, strikingly elegant and tasteful, did much credit to the 
Brethren who had so well discharged the office of Stewards. The new 
canopy in the East was very beautifully fitted up, and, with the illumi- 
nations, transparencies, Master's pedestal covered with Masonic implements, 
and other suitable decorations with which the room was ornamented, pre- 
sented a spectacle seldom, if ever before, equalled in this Settlement on the 
occasion of a public dinner," 

In the course of the evening, a number of toasts were given with the 
usual honours and appropriate airs, and the paper contained a long report 
of tlie speeches made by those already mentioned. 

" We should have premised that the members of Lodge ' Zetland in 
the East,' pursuant to summons, assembled on Wednesday morning, at 
o'clock, for the purpose of witnessing the installation of the Worshipful 
Master elect for the ensuing year, and the investiture of the several 
Officers, viz. : — 

Bro. J. B. Gumming . . . Worshipful Master. 

„ M. F. Davidson ... Senior Warden. 

„ F. A. Cargill . . . Junior Warden. 

„ J. C. Smith . . . Treasurer. 

„ C. J. Curties . . Secretary. 

„ G. J. Dare . . . Senior Deacon. 

„ H. A. Allen . . . Junior Deacon. 

„ G. H. Brown . . . Organist. 

„ T. Tivendale . . . Inner Guard. 

„ J. G. Barnes . . . Tyler. 

^^ There was a very full attendance of the Brethren on this occasion, as 
well as several visitors from foreign and other Lodges, and the arrange- 
ments for the imposing ceremony had been so well made, the Lodge Eoom 
so much improved by its enlargement to more than double its former size, 
and the fitting up of the chair and other decorations so tasteful and 
appropriate, that it was acknowledged by all to have been one of the most 
gratifying gatherings the craft had ever held in Singapore." 

The Free Press at the end of the year in its review of the events of the 
preceding twelve months, which had been a very exciting time all over 
Kurope, alluded to the local commerce of the yc ;ir as follows : — 

"ITie state of trade during the past year has not been of a very 
cheering character, although, fortunately, Singapore was unmarked by the 
fall of any of its mercantile houses, as happened nearly everywhere else. 
'[Tie disastrous events in England (the Chartist Riots, &c.) and elsewhere, 
by which trade for a time was almost paralysed, no doubt contributed in a 
great measure to bring about the depression in our trade complained of, 
although other local causes no doubt also existed. The great fall which 
took place in what may be called two of the principal staple productions — 
gambier and gutta percha — had a very injurious effect, influencing as they 
did so many, more or less, directly concerned in their cultivation, manufac- 
ture or collection. Another cause of the dulness of trade was a considerable 


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498 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

decrease in the China junk trade, and the non-arrival of anything Uke 
the usual number of Bugis boats, as well as the comparatively greatly le^s 
value of the cargoes of such as did arrive. These and other causes have 
produced a great exhaustion of means on the part of many of the smaller 
native traders — Kling and Chinese — amongst whom several failures took 
place. The very low price to which gambier fell, produced much distress 
among the planters, who found it almost impossible to obtain the means of 
existence. The price of rice fortunately kept at a moderate rate, otherwifie 
it is probable that much severe suffering would have ensued amongst 
these unfortunate persons, and they might have been led to endeavour to 
procure the means of existence by having recourse to gang robberies and 
other dishonest courses. The cultivation of gambier has much diminished, 
while that of pepper is being increased as much as possible." 

It was in May of this year that Mr. Robert Barclay Read first arrived 
in Singapore. He came out to A. L. Johnston & Co., when he was twenty 
years old. He became a partner when Mr. M. F. Davidson retired from 
the firm in 1862. He resided in Singapore for thirty-six years, and 
died at Yokohama, where he had gone in ill health, on 27th October, 1884, 
56 years of age. He was very popular in the place, a leading spirit in all 
its affairs, like his cousin, Mr. W. H. Read, both commercial and social. 
He was Consul for Sweden and Norway, and during the absence of Mr. 
W. H. Read, he officiated as Acting Consul-General for the Netherlands. 
For his long services, the Swedish (lovernment made him a Knight of the 
Order of Wasa, and the Dutch Government conferred on him the Knight- 
hood of the Netherlands Lion for his valuable as.sistance in discoverini? 
and following up the threads of a conspiracy against their authority ip 
Palenibang in 1880. At one time he held a seat in tlie Legislative Conncil 
and he was a Direct(n' of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co., Tjimited. Socially, 
Mr. Read was, for years, the life and sonl of the place. He had a good 
appreciation of the enjovments of life, and, especially in his younger days, 
the capacity i'ov inspiring and diffusing them. He was an enthusiastic yachts- 
man and took great delight in his cruises. He had also very good dramatic 
taste. In the Amateur Theatricals of those days he was always considcml 
an indispensable associate. In all Club matters he invariably took the 
liveliest interest, and was always ready to assume his share of the 
duties which such institutions entail. He was for a long time President 
of the Singapore Club, and a handsome centre piece was subscribed for 
by the members after his death to be kept in the Club in memory of 

The Court for the relief of Insolvent Debtors was established on 1st 
November, 1848. Mr. W. W. Willans was the first Official Assignee. 
There were four lawyers in Singapore, and ten Justices of the Peace, mer- 
chants ; the police force consisted of a Superintendent, a Deputy, 5 Eu- 
ropean constables, and 187 natives. 


ized by Google 

1849. 499 



AT the beginning of this year the Free Press Office was moved from 
High Street to No. 1, Malacca Street, at the comer of Commercial 
Square, which the Oriental Bank had just quitted; and Mr. Abraham 
Logan had bought the newspaper, on 1st November, 1848, from Mr. W. R. 
George. The paper was published on a larger sheet. 

Mr. John James Greenshields became a partner in Guthrie & Co. ; and 
Mr. Charles Hercules Harrison in Middleton, Blundell & Co., at the begin- 
ning of the year. On the 2nd April, Mr. Henry Charles Rautenberg and 
Mr. Frederick George Schmidt, of Hamburg, established the firm of 
Rautenberg, Schmidt & Co. Mr. Rautenberg had been an assistant in a 
German firm here called F. E. Walte & Co., which was established in 1845. 
Mr. Walte, the sole partner, had died in Singapore on the 22nd September, 
1847. In 1852 Mr. Schmidt was the sole partner and remained so until 
1858. During those years G. Cramer, Otto Puttfarcken, and Otto Rlieiner 
had been clerks. On 1st October, 1858, the partners were F. G. Schmidt 
Gustavus Cramer, and Adolph Emil Schmidt. In 1863 Mr. Franz Kuster- 
mann became a partner, and Mr. Conrad Sturzenegger in 1865. 

On the 24th March, Mr. John Connolly, one of the oldest merchants 
in Singapore, died. He was a partner with William and Charles Spottis- 
woode in Spottiswoode & Connolly, whose offices were where the Oriental 
Bank was afterwards. Mr. John Connolly, Jnr., Mr. A. J. Spottiswoode, and 
Mr. William Mactaggart were assistants in the firm at the time of Mr. Con- 
nolly's death. Mr. Connolly was SherifE of the Settlement in 1848. 

On the 12th January, Mr. Simon Stephens (of Stephens & Joaquim) 
died, at the age of 45 years. He came to Singapore in 1829, and com- 
menced business, which he carried on with much enterprise and varying 
success until 1845, when he failed and retired from business until 1848, 
when he commenced again under very favourable circumstances. He had 
great influence among the native community, who often went to him for 
advice and assistance. On the 17th February, Frommurzee Sorabjee died at 
Parsee Lodge, in his 43rd year. He was very popular in Singapore as the 
proceedings at the Masonic banquet in the preceding year show. He was the 
father of Cursetjee Frommurzee, a partner for many years with the Littles. 
The sports took place as usual on New Year's Day, and to show how 
they were carried out at the time, we take the following account from the 
Free Press : — 

" New Tear's Day was celebrated with the usual rejoicings, the 
Esplanade being crowded with the natives who had assembled to enjoy the 


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500 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

accnstonied sports and pastimes. There was an abundance of amusement 
suited for every taste, from a well-greased climbing pole for those inclined 
to display their powers of perseverance, to dancing girls for those fond of 
the ballet. There were three hack-pony races with a number of entries, 
foot races, and a pig race, or rather a race after a pig. The most exciting 
sport, however, was a game at football in which all joined, and whicli was 
kept up capitally for about half an hour. The day was fine, a breeze for 
the most part prevailing, and the varied and gay costumes of the natives, 
and especially of the Malays, who were present in large numbers and dress- 
ed in their best, formed altogether a very animated and enlivening scene, 
enhanced by the good humour and spirit of enjoyment which seemed to 
animate all. The aquatic sports were no less well got up and successful. 
There were sailing races, yachts, sampans and tongkangs, as well as sam- 
pans, &c., rowing, which were all well contested, and proved highly interest- 
ing and exciting." 

The Hon. Sanmel Garling, the Resident Councillor at Penang, on leav- 
ing that Settlement had a number of cases on board a barque called the 
Cape Packet which was burnt in the harbour there. The paper remarked 
that Mr. Garling had a collection which could not well be replaced, and 
papers intended for publication, the loss of which resembled that of Sir 
Stamford Raffles at Bencoolen on board the Fame, 

The same paper announced the death of Mr. Jackson, the Assistant 
Resident, Magistrate, and Superintendent of Police in Singapore, which 
was a mistake. A letter to the Free Prfss in speaking of it as being likely 
to inflict pain upon persons at a distance who might hear of it, spoke of the 
general indignation that was felt at the statement, and said that it was not 
the first of its kind, and, without some mark of reprobation, was not likely 
to be the last ; and it was suggested to publish a " Straits Times Obituary '' 
of personages who had been embalmed in its pages during the period of 
their natural lives. 

'i1ie proprietors of the Singapore Library, which was kept in the 
Raffles Institution building, ])r()posed to form a Museum, and a resolution 
was ])assed at their annual meeting on the -^Ist January ''that a Museum 
with a view principally to the collection of objects illustrating the 
(reneral History and Arclueology of Singapore and the Eastern Archipel- 
ago be established in connecticm with the Singapore Library ; that it be 
calUnl the ' Singapore* fjibrary Museum ' and that it be deposited in tlie 
rooms of the Library." The conmiencement of the collection was made by 
the presentation of two curious gold coins given by the Tumunggong. 

Amoks were not infrequent in those days ; the following account of one 
appeared in the Free Press* in February : - " On Friday last a Bugis armed 
with five nebong spears (selegie) while in a state of frenzy, wounded one 
(,'hinaman in the knee and another in the abdomen, the latter case being 
one of some danger. He threw spears at several other persons, but with- 
out wounding tliem, and an alarm having been raised, Constable Taylor 
proceeded to the spot anned with a musket, and called upon the man to 
surrender. This he refused to do, and threatened the Constable with a 
spear, on which the latter fired and wounded the Bugis in the thigh, and 
being taken to the Hospital the man died the next day. A Coroner's in- 
quest was held on the body, when a verdict of " Justifiable Homicide '' was 


ized by Google 

1849. 501 

The number of persons killed in the jungles of Singapore by tigers at 
that time was very great. The paper said that the tigers seemed coming 
gradually nearer to town and increasing in numbers, so that unless some- 
thing was done much more effectual than before, men and beasts might be 
carried off in the close vicinity of the town. The Free Press contained the 
following characteristic anecdote of a Malay : — '^ Two Tigers were noticed 
last week at Tulloh Buddoh. A person who saw them being asked, 'And 
what did you do on seeing tliem,^ replied, '' Kalau say a tiada angkat say a 
punia kaki lakas, jangan kata saya punia nama Bujang\" Within a short 
time two persons were killed by tigers near Bukit Tiniah, two at Tanah 
Merah, and two at Tulloh Mata Ikan. The Government in April sanction- 
ed an expenditure for the construction of tiger pits, and in August the 
Free Press said : — " The attention of his Honour the Governor having been 
directed to the continued deplorable ravages committed by tigers on this 
island; he has expressed himself ready to adopt any measures which may 
tend to remove the evil. It has been suggested that persons are to be 
found in the vicinity of Calcutta trained for the purpose of destroying 
tigers, and his Honour has writen to the Bengal Government requesting 
that half a dozen of these Shikarries should be sent to the Straits 
for a limited period, to be employed in the destruction of these 
animals. The Governor has also directed that in the meantime, should 
it be deemed expedient, a certain number of volunteers from the 
•3rd class convicts should be pennitted to beat the jungle once every 
month, with tomtoms, horns, &c., which, if they do not lead to the 
destruction of the tigers, may frighten them away from tlie island, 
to which they come from the neighbouring state of Johore. The first 
of these measures may probably be productive of advantage, but we 
should be doubtful whether the last will be of much benefit. The tigers 
have too large a space to range in to be easily driven out, and the only 
effect will be to make them shift from one locality to another." 

Singapore had then been established forty years, and some statistics 
may be useful : — 

The public revenue of Singapore for the year 1848-49 amounted to 
ftj 393,232, consisting of :— 

Excise Farms* 


Toddy and Bhang 

.. 5^7,030 
.. 3,050 

... «». 327,257 

Per Month 
Fees, Courts of Judicature and 

Sale of Lands 

.. $12,155 

... Kis. 22,061 
... „ 20,935 
... „ 5,056 
... „ 17,923 

ftt. 393,232 


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602 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The expenditure amounted to Hb. 620,826 consisting of : — 

Local charges .., ... Sb. 169,874 

General charges ... „ 43,557 

Buildings ... ... „ 55,373 

Contingencies ... ... „ 34,148 

Military ... ... „ 263,754 

Convicts ... ... „ 54,120 

fi«. 620,826 

The total imports into Singapore in 1848-49 amounted in value, ac- 
cording to the official returns, to $12,379,801, shewing an increase over the 
previous period of 1847-48 of $81,477. The total amount of exports was iii 
value §11,049,969, being less by $138,887 than in the previous year. The 
number of immigrants from China to Singapore during tlie season 1848-49, 
was reported at 9,817, but it was supposed that not many of these person^i 
remained in Singapore, most of them going to other places in the Archi- 
pelago. The agriculture of Singapore was then beginning to assume a 
considerable importance. The plantations of nutmegs and cocoa-nuts wen.' 
coming rapidly into full bearing, and the planting of the former, to some 
extent, was carried on during 1849, both by European and Chinese planten?. 
It appears from a statement of the cultivation then prepared by the Grovern- 
ment Surveyor, that there were 1,190 acres planted with 71,400 nutmeg 
trees, the produce of which in nutmegs and mace, amounted to 656 piculs, 
yielding an annual value of $39,360. As a great part of the plantations 
were very young, this afforded no criterion of what the produce would have 
been if the whole had come into full bearing. There were 28 acres planted 
with clove trees. Cocoa-nut cultivation occupied 2,658 acres, the number 
of trees being 342,608, and the produce yielding a value of $10,800. The 
quantity of land planted with betel-nuts was 445 acres, having 128,821 
trees thereon, and giving $1,030 annually. The fruit trees occupied 1,037 
acres, and their produce was valued at $9,568. The gambier cultivation 
covered an extent of 24,220 acres and the produce was valued at $80,000. 
The pepper cultivation was stated at 2,614 acres, yielding $108,230 annually. 
The vegetable gardens covered 379 acres, and the produce was stated at 
$34,675. The siri or pawn vines extended to 22 acres, and yielded $10,560, 
while sugar-cane, pineapples, rice or paddy engrossed 1,962 acres, and the 
estimated produce was valued at $32,386. The quantity of ground under 
pasture was 402 acres, valued at $2,000 annually. The total gross annual 
agricultural produce of the island was valued at $328,711. 

The total receipts by the Municipal Committee in 1848 were fc. 
68,519; of which about Hh. 43,000 were assessment on houses in town at 
ton per cent, under Act 12 of 1839; ib. 1,500 taxes on land and country 
houses at five per cent.; fts. 11,000 taxes on private conveyances and 
horses ; and Bs. 6,500 police fines, &c. The disbursements were about 
fi«. 55,000 on the Police, which was entirely paid by the Municipality ; 
fe. 6,300 on roads and bridges ; K«. 6,000 on town cleaning. The receipts 
exceeded the expenditure by B«. 6,000. 

The Free Press in March contained the following paragraph : — " The 
Police having found themselves unable to compose the differences existing 
between the different societies of Chinese in Singapore, which for some 


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1849. 503 

time past have been producing scenes of riot and violence, Seali Kii Chin 
has been called in to their assistance, and wc arc glad to hear lias succeed- 
ed in effecting a treaty of peace, though probably not of friendship, 
amongst the belligerents, whom he has bound over in lieavy penalties to 
keep the peace in time to come. This is only one of many instances in 
which Eu Chinas aid has been found of great use in controlling his country- 
men, and it strikes us it might lead to good results were His Honour the 
Governor to include the name of Eu Chin, one of the best informed and 
most literate Chinese in the Settlement, in the next Commission of the 
Peace which is issued/' 

In the same month the paper said : — " Sultan AUie of Joliore, who is 
at present at Malacca, has been lately treating with various parties for 
the sale of a portion of his territories. His first negotiations, we under- 
stand, were with Mr. Tock Seng, but they went off on some point or other. 
Since then, we are informed, certain arrangements have been made or 
proposed by the Resident Councillor at Malacca, for the cession by the 
Sultan to the East India Company of the district of Muar lying on the 
Southern boundary of our Malacca territory. The country is described to 
be generally a beautiful level plain, with a rich soil, admirably adai)ted iji 
many places for paddy and other cultivation. It also abounds in tin, which 
if properly worked, would yield a large revenue to (xovernment. The ac- 
quisition of this country would also give the command of the river Muar up 
to Mount Ophir. At present the navigation of the Muar is by no means 
safe, the river being infested by gangs of robbers, and the exactions of the 
petty Malay chiefs, who dwell upon its banks, are so intolerable that the 
trade between Malacca and Ulu Muar is almost extinct, although with 
proper protection it could not fail to be considerable." 

In March the Insolvent Court was opened by Sir C. Rawlinson. 
Mr. Simonides, of the Police Force, J. H. Benjamin, and Mark Moss, 
traders, were the insolvents who opened the proceedings of the new Court. 
The second having been five years and a half in the goal was discharged. 
The others were granted orders of protection. 

The newspapers used to publish a report of the Charge of the Recorder to 
the Grand Jury, and in March the Recorder fell foul of both the newspapers 
for not reporting correctly what he had said. The Free Press spoke of this 
as follows : — "We have given as good an outline as we could of the Charge 
the Recorder delivered to the Grand Jury, but it is necessarily much less full 
than the address itself. His Lordship more than once in the course of his 
speech complained (we beg pardon, his Lordship never complains, he only 
stated) that on previous occasions he had been misrepresented and said he 
must rely upon his growing character in the Settlement to vindicate him 
from the imputation of having said what had been attributed to him. It is 
true that we do not pretend to give the ipsissima verba of what falls from 
his Lordship^s eloquent lips on the occasions when we deem it worth while 
to report him, but we listen attentively to what he said and take notes, and 
the statement which we give we generally find pronounced correct by 
others who have been present. Indeed, we think that our report of what 
his Lordship says is more likely to be correct than his Lordship's recollec- 
tion of it, seeing that he does not commit his speeches to writing, and it is 
probable that he is led by a vivid imagination and an active fancy to say 
more than he intended, and to diverge considerably from the course he 


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504 Anecdotal Hutory of Singapore 

had previously laid down, as well in the manner as in the matter of his 
address. It is a pity therefore that he does not take the plan which ^vas 
generally followed by his predecessor, and is adopted, we believe, by the 
present Judges at Bombay and Madras, viz. : — ^to write down what he lias 
got to say, and after he has delivered his charge, to allow a copy of it to be 
handed to the newspapers. By adopting this course all chance of misre- 
presentation is avoided, and the charge itself is ensured that correctness 
and judicial gravity which is befitting such an occasion, but which is apt 
to be lost sight of when there is nothing to trust to but the inspiration of a 
vivid and somewhat discursive imagination." 

The following are a few paragraphs from the presentment of the Grand 
Jury in April. Mr. Charles Garnie was foreman. " The Grand Jury present 
as nuisances the parapets of solid masonry round the public wells in Com- 
mercial Square and at the crossing behind the Portuguese Church and in 
other similar situations, one of them having in addition a surrounding* 
railing. These wells being situated on the public streets, the Jury con- 
sider as very likely to occasion dangerous accidents. They therefore 
recommend that the parapets be removed and the mouths of the wells be 
again made level with the street and covered in as before, and that they 
be provided w4th pumps placed at the side of the road for the supply of 
water to the public. The Grand Jury would further suggest that tv^ro 
or more wells for the supply of water to the public be constructed 
in the enclosures in Commercial Square, and that the water be drawn 
off by means of pumps which would prevent their becoming public 
nuisances from persons bathing at them.'' At that time there were 
wells in the centre of the streets near the Square with wooden covers 
on hinges lying flat with the road over which the traffic went. 
They were of great use in fires, as the hand engines could not suck the 
water from such a distance as the sea, and one engine was put to pump the 
sea w^ater into the well, and another engine to pump from the well on to the 
fire. The Borneo Company's Offices and godow^n in Malacca Street were 
saved in this way, by the use of the well in the middle of Malacca Street, 
when the adjoining buildings were on fire. 

" The Jurors present that the river's mouth still remains in the same 
obstructed state so frequently presented by previous Grand Juries. This 
causes so much detriment to the trade of the port, that the Grand Jury 
would earnestly suggest that some means be speedily taken to apply a 
remedy, and they urge this the more as they widely differ in opinion from 
views expressed by the Superintending Engineer to the Grand Jury, 
touching the importance of the interests involved. 

" The Grand Jury regret to find that although a very considerable 
period has elapsed since Tan Tock Seng, Esq., presented a Chinese Pauper 
Hospital to the public, no apparent steps have been taken to apply this 
building to the purpose for which it was intended, and that diseased and 
starving paupers still abound upon the public streets. Former Grand 
Juries have, at the suggestion and request of the Chinese inhabitants, the 
countrymen of these paupers, pointed out the means of raising funds for 
the support of this Hospital by the re-imposition of a Pork Farm, and the 
present Grand Jury would reiterate the recommendation, believing it to be 
the most unobjectionable and unburdensome means of raising an ample 
revenue for this purpose. 


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1849. 505 

*' The Grand Jury fully concur with the Hon'ble the Recorder in 
condeiniiing as a most serious public nuisance tlie practice of allowing 
native processions in the public streets, attended as these generally are by 
such large crowds, and accompanied by unwieldy machines, torches, &c., 
blocking up the thoroughfares and rendering them dangerous for persons 
requiring to pass along them on their lawful business. The (Irand Jury 
further present that the privilege of these processions being allowed to 
pass through the public streets being confined to certain classes only of the 
native community, the Klings and Convicts, a feeling of dissatisfacticm is 
caused on the part of the numerous portion of the inlial)itants, namely, the 
Chinese, in many of whose customs such processions form leading features, 
and who therefore feel aggrieved that that should be rigidly denied to 
them which is so fully allowed to other classes of the population, and even 
to the Convicts. Tlie Grand Jury recommend that all processions, firing of 
crackers, and such other dangerous practices in the public streets, should be 
rigidly prevented, the natives being required to confine their celebrations to 
those places where they will not constitute a public nuisance." 

A Cochin-Chinese prahu on arriving here was boarded by a number of 
Chinese, who insisted on turning over all the goods and seeing every part 
of the vessel, and who on being opposed in attempting to go into a cabin 
in which was a French missionary, tried to do so by force, and otherwise 
conducted themselves in an insolent manner, evidently with the purpose of 
extorting money. They were prevented from succeeding in their designs, 
whatever they were, by the Missionary, and left the vessel uttering threats 
against the Cochin-Chinese, and saying that when the boat left Singapore 
on its return, they would take care to punish them, which was reported to 
the Police. When the boat was ready to sail a French Missionary took 
passage in it, and the Revd. Mr. Beurel, recollecting the threats held out 
against the Cochin-Chinese some months before, and alarmed for the 
safety of his countryman (the Cochin-Chinese being completely unarmed 
and several cases of piracy having lately occurred ) applied to the Master 
Attandant, Captain Russell, to permit a gunboat to escort the prahit 
beyond Pedra Branca. He was referred to the Resident Councillor, 
Mr. Church, who stated that one of the gunboats had already gone to 
that quarter with four boats belonging to the Tumonggong, that the other 
gunboat in the harbour could not be spared, and that therefore the request 
could not be complied with, adding that it was nonsense to be afraid of 
an attack, there was no danger at all, and with this assurance dismissed 
the application. The boat sailed, the only weapons on board being two 
muskets, and a pistol in possession of the Missionary, which he had provided 
himself with, intending to throw it away after he had fairly passed the 
dangerous latitudes of Romania and Bintang, and got into the China 
Sea. When the boat had reached the narrowest part of the strait 
between Point Romania and Bintang, they unfortunately had a contrary 
wind which rendered their progress very slow, and they were alarmed 
by seeing a boat, numerously manned, push out from the Romania 
shore and rapidly approach them. Part of the men in her were pulling 
and part had arms in their hands, the crew consisting of Malays with 
two Chinese. When the boat came near, the Cochin-Chinese hailed 
them to keep off, but the only reply to this was a discliarge of fire 
arms. The Cochin-Chinese fired their two muskets in return, and the 


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506 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

French gentleman also fired his pistol, but from being heavily charged it 
burst and knocked him down, inflicting a very severe wound in the face. 
The Cochin-Chinese on this, iost all courage, and would probably have 
surrendered, but the breeze fortunately carried them beyond the reach 
of their assailants, and they regained Singapore very considerably 
frightened, and but little disposed to put any further trust in the Resident 
Councillor's opinions on the subject of pirates, or the degree of danger to 
be apprehended from their attacks. 

Bank notes were first issued in Singapore in May by the Oriental 
Bank. They were of §5 and $100. 

In May the Free Press wrote of gambling as follows — " Last week wo 
stated that public gambling shops were very numerous, and we believe 
that ever since the Chinese New Year they have been augmenting. 
At that time ten were opened, which have now increased to upwards of 
thirty, five of which are in the immediate vicinity of the new market. 
Several cases were brought before last Quarter Sessions, but the 
offenders were very leniently dealt with, the fines inflicted being of 
the most moderate description, and utterly inadetiuate to put a sto}) 
to the evil. It is well known that the persons interested in the 
gaming houses combine to pay the fines of persons convicted at 
Quarter Sessions for gambling or keeping gambling houses, so that 
fines of one, five, and ten dollars, are of very little moment tu 
them. It is a pity that such a state of things should exist, as 
there is no doubt that it tends much to the increase of crime, and 
the Municipal Committee ought to try and devise some means of 
putting an end to it." 

The following is taken from the newspaper of the same month ; thefts 
of the kind described were continually being reported in the paper : — 
" The thieves are at present exceedingly industrious in providing their 
little consignments for the junks, previous to their annual departure, and 
there is the usual active demand for telescopes, clocks, watches, and other 
articles of elegance and utility, which prevails amongst the Chinese light- 
fingered gentry of Smgapore at this season. It may not therefore be 
amiss to address a few precautionary words to our local readers on the 
subject. It is notorious that a person may walk through almost every 
European house on the beach in Kampong Glam, at certain periods of the 
day, without meeting a single inmate, or being exposed to challenge for 
the intrusion. This is well known to the thieves and taken advantage of 
accordingly. A number of Chinese boys neatly dressed (generally ser- 
vants out of place) go with notes, written for them, to a gentleman's house 
and meeting no one below, proceed upstairs ; if they encounter any person, 
this note is presented, and, of course, the boy is told the person to whom 
it is addressed does not live there, and the bearer takes his departure, 
having made some useful observations for future operations, and perhaps 
even picking up some little '^ unconsidered trifle." If no one is found 
upstairs, then the Chinaman takes as many useful, portable articles, such 
as telescopes, &c., as he can put his hands upon, with which he quietly 
makes off, and they are speedily stowed away in the capacious hold of a 
junk. Another class of thieves consists of respectably dressed Chinamen 
who visit houses carrying a carpenter's rule in their hand, and ask for 
work, or request permission to take the pattern of a table, &c. These 


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1849. 507 

agents also help themselves to what tliey can find, if unobserved. 
Another source of the mischief is engaging servants without making 
any enqairies as to their characters of their previous employers. Written 
characters are plentiful amongst them, and are usually handed about from 
one to another, and afford therefore very little guarantee in engaging a 
servant that he is a trustworthy person, or that the character he produces 
was originally written for him. Means might easily be devised, througlfa 
system of registry, of keeping a check upon servants, and it would tend to 
improve their honesty were they to find that it was matter of much difficulty 
to procure employment with a black cross against them in the register.^' 

A public meeting, which was very numerously attended, was held on 
the 20th July, Mr. W. W. Ker in the chair, to consider the proposed 
Indian Act on Excise law. In September, Mr. J. S. Sparkes, the P. & 0. 
Agent, announced " a very considerable reduction in passage money from 
Sing-aporc to Southampton." A first class passage for a gentleman in a 
general cabin was §590.40, and for a lady in one of the ladies^ general 
cabins was §628.80. 

It was in this year that the landing place was built, which was taken 
away about 1880, near the Ualhousie monument. The paper spoke of it as 
follows : — " It will be gratifying to our local readers to learn that the pre- 
liminary operations for constructing a ghaut or landing place on the beach 
have commenced. The place selected, the foot of High Street, is the most 
eligible that could have been hit upon." In July the new bridge over the 
canal at Boat Quay, adjacent to Messrs. Guthrie & Co.^s offices there, was 
opened with due ceremony. 

In September, Mr. Blundell was made Resident Councillor of Penang, 
and Captain Ferrier, Resident Councillor of Malacca. There was a big fire 
at Kampong Malacca in September, which destroyed 210 native houses. A 
Police corporal was suffocated in it. 

On the 22nd September, the mercantile community gave a dinner to 
the Hon^ble Captain Keppel of H. M. S. Meander, which had come down 
from China, and was bound to the Australian station. The following was 
the account of it in the Free Press : — " On Saturday, the mercantile and 
other friends of Captain the Hon. H. Keppel, of H. M. Ship Meander, gave 
a public entertainment to this highly esteemed officer on the occasion of his 
leaving the station. The dinner was given in the Masonic Hall, which the 
W. Master and Brethren of * Lodge Zetland in the East ' very kindly 
allowed the use of for the purpose, this mark of personal respect and public 
esteem being paid to a distinguished member of their Order. Between 40 
and 50 gentlemen sat down to dinner at half-past six o'clock, J. Purvis, 
being in the Chair, W. W. Ker, Croupier. The arrangements were all of 
the most excellent description, and did great credit to the activity of the 
stewards, Messrs. J. Guthrie, M. F. Davidson, L. Frascr, J. B. Cumming, R. 
Duff and C. Spottiswoode, who had only a single day to complete them. 

" As soon as the cloth was removed, the usual loyal toasts were given 
from the Chair, after which the Chairman rose to propose the health of the 
honoured guest of the evening. The Chairman prefaced the toast by a few 
well-merited complimentary remarks on the esteem in which Captain Kep- 
pel was held by the community of Singapore, and indeed by every com- 
munity and every society in which he had mixed since he first came on the 
station. The Chairman then alluded to his own intercourse with Capt. 


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508 Anecdotal HUftory of Singapore 

Kuppel, and warmly eulogised his frank and afEable manners both in private 
society and in matters of duty. He concluded by proposing — ^ Health, 
long life and prosperity to Captain Keppel, and may we at no distant 
period hail his return to these shores as Admiral Keppel/ Tlic 
toast was received with deafening applause and nine times nine. [He 
tlid come back as Coinmander-in-Chief on the China Station on March 

:31st, 1867.]^ 

" Captain Keppel returned thanks in a feeling and eloquent speech, his 
inunner evincing that he deeply appreciated the warm mamier in whicli the 
Cliairnian's remarks had been received by the company. He said he felt 
deeply gratified by the present proof of the approbation and regard of tlie 
mercantile community of Singapore. Among those present w^ere several 
old friends, others, though known more recently, were not less entitled to 
his kindly remembrances, while to all were due his thankful acknowledg- 
ments for the cordial manner in which they had received the toast. He had 
spent many happy days in Singapore, to which he looked back with mucli 
pleasure, and he could assure them all that nothing would give him greater 
pleasure than to have it in his power to forward the interests of Singapore, 
which he hoped ere long to see attain that importance which its central 
position and its great resources would ultimately command. Captain Keppel 
concluded by saying that the marked kindness and attention he had con- 
stantly received from his numerous friends in Singapore, during the long 
time he had been connected with them, were indelibly fixed in his heart, 
and no change of scene or place could ever efface them, and he added that 
it would give him the highest satisfaction to renew this pleasing intimacy 
either here or in England, should he ever be favoured with an opportunity 
of meeting any of them again. 

"Then followed the health of Colonel Butterworth and Lady Butterworth, 
Mrs. Keppel, and other toasts. Mr. Church in proposing the toast of the 
Merchants of Singapore said that little more than a quarter of a century 
had elapsed since Singapore was but the rendezvous of a few prahus, and 
now through the energy of its merchants it had risen to be one of the great 
commercial depots of the East, and an outlet for an immense amount of the 
manufactures of Great Britain, which benefited very largely thereby. This 
much it owed to its merchants, and were it deserted by them, it must return 
to its primitive jungle. 

" The Band of the Meander was in attendance, and played suitable airs 
to the various toasts, and a beautiful selection of Opera music during the 
evening. The company began to break up about half -past ten, and thus 
terminated one of the most pleasant meetings which had ever taken place 
in Singapore.^' 

A select committee of the House of Commons was appointed during the 
year to enquire into the steamers in the Navy, and the Free Press reprinted 
part of the evidence given by Captain Chads (formerly of the Andromache 
in Singapore, as related in page 279) as follows : — " Capt. Chads thinks 
iron very inferior to wooden vessels for warlike purposes, and that iron 
vessels ought to be avoided as much as possible. No iron vessel can be 
built to resist shot unless it is of such a weight that it will not float. The 
shot goes right through the vessel, and the fractures are such that they 
cannot be repaired, while should it strike a rib upon going out, the ship 
must go down/^ 


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1849. 509 

In this year the Supreme Court in Singapore awarded £20,700 to 
Captain Farquhar of H. M. S. Albatross and other persons for the destruc- 
tion of the Sarebas pirates in July. The expedition under Captain Farquhar 
had fallen in with a fleet of upwards of a hundred war prahus, manned by 
at least 3,500 men, and, which was proved on the confession of the pirates 
themselves, to have been committing outrages both by sea and land. 
Admiral Sir Arthur Farquhar, k.c.u., is still alive. He was promoted 
for his services against the pirates in 1849. 

The entire police force in this year was 218. 


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510 Anecdotal History of Sinyaport 



y^N 20th November, 1836, a public meeting had been held at Mark- 
\y wick's Hotel at Canton, at which Mr. Jardine presided, to consider 
the best means of making some lasting tribute of respect to the late Captain 
Horsburgh, and the great services he had performed for the cause of com- 
merce and navigation. It was decided that a lighthouse on Pedra Branca 
in the Straits near to Singapore would be the most suitable. Subscriptions 
were made at Canton, Bombay and Penang. The list at Canton was headed 
by Mr. W. Jardine with §500. The rest of the subscribers were princi- 
pally merchants and captains and officers of ships, the only considerable ex- 
ception being the Chinese Security Merchants who contributed liberally. 
The Bombay Chamber of Commerce collected R«. 4,299, and the Penang 
Chnmber of Commerce Ifa. 404. The Canton subscriptions amounted to 
S4J91, but Jardine, MathesonA Co. liberally gave compound interest until 
1847, when the fund was paid over, and it had accumulated to §7,411.13. 

James Horsburgh, p.r.s., wns born at Klie, in Fife, Scotland, in 1762, 
and made many voyages to India and China, and, by the study of books 
and experiments, he familiarised himself with lunar observations and 
scientific subjects connected with navigation, and when in port occupied 
himself with constructing charts. In 1819 he was appointed Hydro- 
«rrapher to the East India Company. He died in 1836, in his 74th year. 
He was called '' The Nautical Oracle of the World/' and it was said by 
the Kast India Company that his charts and books had been invaluable 
sale-guards to life and property in these seas. 

All vessels leaving Singapore for the East and China pass close to 
l*edra Branca. It was so called owing to its aspect of perfect whiteness, 
and Mr. J. T. Thomson said the name could not be more appropriate, 
because of its being covered with the dung of the numerous sea-birds that 
frequented it as a resting place. In the English translation made in the 
3'ear 1598 of the work of the early Dutch voyager Van Linschoten, written 
in 1583, he speaks of "Pedra Bianque, or white rock, where the shippes 
that come and goe to and from China doe of tentymes passe in great danger 
and some are left upon it, whereby the Pilots when they come thither are in 
greate feare for other way than this they have not.'' 

In November, 1844, Mr. J. T. Thomson prepared plans and estimate for 
a lighthouse on Peak Rock, which is part of the Roumania group ; and 
afterwards the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty and the India 
House thought it was too far within the Straits, which prevented it from 
being a good leading mark for vessels, while Pedra Branca from it<? 
advanced position was the first object that vessels ran for, and being 
clear of all dangers in its northern proximity could be approached by a 
direct course and closely passed. Peak Rock on the contrary had several 
out-lying reefs, and a vessel making for a light on it would have to alter her 

Digitized by 














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I ' 


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The Horshurgh and the Raffles Light houses, 5 1 1 

course as it was neared, and on a dark night run on the Rouraania shoal 
on one side by keeping too distant, or on the out-lying rocks on the other 
si^© by keeping too near. 

Nothing having been done for over eight years the Singapore Chamber 

of Commerce took up the matter again in 1845, and on 20th November a 

deputation from the Committee of the Chamber waited on His Honor the 

Governor. The Governor readily supplied the information sought. It 

nppeared that a proposition by a former Governor involving a large 

establishment and the stationing of a detachment of troops on a small island, 

}ia,cl caused the scheme to be temporarily laid aside. That funds subscribed 

ill China to the Horsburgh testimonial, amounting to $5,513, were 

forthcoming and would be paid into the hands of Government whenever a 

pledge was given to coustruct a lighthouse in the vicinity of Pedra 

Branca. The Governor had in October, 1844, availed himself of the pre- 

seiice of H.M.S. Samarang to obtain a report from the distinguished 

scientific officer. Captain Sir Edward Belcher, c.b., who cheerfully gave 

hi.s services to promote the erection of a testimonial to the hydrographer 

Mr. Horsburgh The Malayan authorities of Johor, in whose territory 

the Eoumania island is situated, not only ofEered the island for a light- 

liouse, but expressed satisfaction at the prospect of its erection. The 

(fovernor mentioned to the deputation of the Chamber that he had visited 

the proposed site in the H. C. Steamer DiaJia, having with him the 

Superintending Engineer of Public Works in the Straits, whom he had 

instructed to make an estimate of the cost of the proposed erection. This 

officer considered that from one to one-and-a-half lacs of rupees would be 

necessary to complete the work of masonry. This being beyond the sum 

likely to be available, the Governor instructed Mr. Thomson, the 

(lovernment Surveyor, to submit an estimate, which had been done by that 

iifentleman with great care and detail, and which was accompanied l)y an 

ofPcr from a Chinese contractor to erect a granite base of 16 feet for»?2,6r)7, 

and further, if required, a brick tower (exclusive of lantern and lamps) for 

S l.,:$88 additional, or, in all, ??7,00(). The Governor soomod to think that 

sm iron tower on the granite base would be preferable to brick, and had 

suggested the sending of one from England similar to one erected at 

Bermuda, at a cost of £1,500. Mr. Thomson described the rock as hard grey 

gi-anite very suitable for building, and not liable to be washed away by 

the waves in bad weather. Mr. Thomson proposed the entrance to the 

lighthouse should be by a movable ladder, or basket and crane, from the 

top of the granite basement, thereby obviating the necessity of scarping 

the rock to guard against surprise by pirates. On the 1st Noveml)er 

the Chamber of Commerce passed the following Resolution: — 

" That the East India and China Association in London, the 
Calcutta and Bombay Chambers of Commerce, Captain Bedin of Madras, 
the subscribers in America (through J. Balestier, Esq., U. S. C), and 
the subscribers in France (through the French Consul) be addressed 
with a copy of the report read this day, and be requested to make the 
funds subscribed available for the erection of a lighthouse as a Memo- 
rial to the late hydrographer, James Horsburgh." 




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512 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

On 21st Jiiiio I8I.7, Afr. Tliomson had instructions from Mr. Church 
to take steps for the erection of the lightlionse on Pedia Branca, ami 
on 1st December before the north-east monsoon came on, he put up 
brick pillars on vaiious parts of the rock to test the force of the 
waves. On 1st March, 1848, he found all the pillars on the north side, 
which were thirteen feet above sea level, entirely swept away. This 
was held to show that a brick building would be insufficient, and it 
was decided to construct it of granite set in the best hydraulic cement. 
This was the first lighthouse in this part of the world built in granite 
masonry, and it was certainly the crowning point of all good work done 
Mr. Thomson in Singapore during many years. There is a long account 
in 6 Logan's Journal of the building of the lighthouse, with the 
calculations as to the curves of the shaft, copies of the estimate, plans 
of the building and of the light apparatus, and elaborate details of the 
way in which the work was carried out under very considei*able diffi- 
culties, from the absconding of the Chinese contractor with his advance; 
the difficulty of keeping up communication with the rock; and of 
obtaining water, to economise which they used to bathe in the 
fresh water (for Chinese coolies would not use salt water) before 
using ir. for making mortar. Three of the stone cutters were killed in a 
boat by pirates. Among other things there is a good account of the 
way in which the Chinese coolies lift very heavy weights by cross 
stretchers, by which means Mr. Thomson says stones were lifted weighing 
nearly seven tons. There is a little lithographed sketch pasted on io 
the page to illustrate this, in the manner we are familiar with when 
the Chinese carry their very heavy coffins through the streets. 
There is also a very full description of the tools used by the natives, 
and the way they work, and their wages, and the value of their labour 
jis compared with European workmen, which would be of considerable 
interest find use to engineers in this part of the world. There are 
also some useful details about squalls and waterspouts, birds and fish, 
seen at the lighthouse while under construction. 

On 4th December, 1849, Mr. Thomson was informed by Mr. Church 
that the Court of Directors of the East India Company had sanctioned the 
construction. On the 14th Jatmary materials were collected and by the 
end of March work was begun ou the rock, Mr. John Bennett going with Mr. 
Thomson as foreman. The following is the account of the laying of the Foun- 
dation Stone on the 24th May, 1850, taken from the Singapore Free Press : — 

"The Hon'blo the fTOvernor of the Straits Settlements, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Butterworth, cmj., having recpiestcd the Brethren of the Lodge 
^Zetland in the East,^ to lay the Foundation Stone of the Horsburjjh 
Testimonial, or Lighthouse For All Nations, with the honours of their craft, 
on the 24th May — the anniversary of Her Majesty's Birthday — the Wor- 
shipful Master and Brethren of the above Lodge, in number about thirty, 
accompanied by several visiting Brethren, started for Pedra Branca on the 
morning of the 24th in the H.C. Steamer Hoogly, and the barque -4 ^r.v/uVe 
in tow of Her Majesty's Steamer Fury, Several distinguished visitors, in- 
cluding His Excellency Rear-Admiral Sir F. Austin, c.b.. Naval Comman- 
der-in-Chief and suite, the Hon'ble Thomas Church, the Resident 
Councillor, Lieut.-Colonel Messiter, Commanding the troops, several of 
the foreign Consuls, and merchants of Singapore, availed of His Honour 


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The Horsburgh and the Rafflea Lighthouses, 513 

the Grovernor's invitation to witness the ceremony, and accompanied him 
in the Hoogly. The party arrived at Pedra Branca about 11-30 a m., and 
having disembarked, the Masonic body marched in the following order of 
procession to the summit of the Rock : — 

The Band. 

Tyler with drawn Sword. 

Brethren not members of the Lodge. 

two aud two. 

Cornucopia with Corn 

borne by the Wor. Past Master Bro. J. B. Cummmg. 

Two cups with Wine and Oil: 

The Wine borne by Bro. T. O. Crane and the Oil 


Bro. Greenshields. 

The Organist, Bro. G. H. Brown. 

The Inner Guard, Brother Thomas Hewetson 

beai'ing the Inscription Plate. 

The Secretary, Brother T. H. Campbell 

bearing the Book of Constitutions on a silk cushion. 

The Treasurer, Bro. J. 0. Smith 

bearing the purse containing Coins to be deposited in 

the Stone. 

The Corinthian Lieht 

borne bv Brother H. Minchin Simonn. 

Brother W. Paterson, bearing the Mallet. 

The Junior Warden, Brother R. Bain 

bearing the Plumb Rale. 

The Banner of the Lodge. 

The Senior Warden, Brother J. Jarvie 

bearing the Level. 

The Chaplain, Bro. the Rev. F. W. Linstedt 

bearing the Sacred Law on a cushion. 

Junior Deacon 

bearing his 


The Worshiplul 

Master Bro. 
M. F. Davidson. 

Senior Deacon 

bearing his 


Having halted and formed a passage for the Worshipful Master 
to pass through, the Chaplain, the Past Master with the Cornucopia, 
the Senior and Junior Wardens, the Brethren with the wine and oil, 
and the Deacons with their wands, followed the Worshipful Master 
to the Foundation Stone, where they were received by the Governor, 
who, in the following words, requested them to proceed at once 
with the ceremony: — 

"Worshipful Master and Gentlemen of the Lodge Zetland in 
the East, — ^I have solicited the favour of your laying, on this the 
anniversary of our beloved Queen's Birthday, the foundation stone of 
the lighthouse to be erected on this spot fur the safety of the 
mariner, and in commemoration of that celebrated hydrographer James 
Horsburgh, f.r.s., to whose labours the mercantile world is so 
much indebted for the easy navigation of these seas. The philanthrophic 
object of the building appears especially to call for the exercise of that 
craft which has charity and good-will to all mankind for its ground- 
work; and it affords me deep and unfeigned gratification to see so 
large an assembly of Masons here this day from the newly formed 
Lodge 'Zetland in the East* at our little emporium, Singapore, for 
the purpose of taking part in this dav's ceremony, to which. Gentlemen, 
I will thank you to proceed with the least practicable delay/' 


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514 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The VVorsliipful Master having taken up his position on the East 
side of the Stone, with the Lodge Chaplain, the R«vd. Brother 
F. W. Linstedt, on his right, and on his left the Past Master, 
with the Senior and Junior Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary, and other 
oflScc-bearers immediately around him, requested the Chaplain to open 
the ceremony with prayer, which he did in a suitable and appropriate 
form. The architect of the building, J. T. Thomson, Esq., now submitted 
lii.s plans of the construction for the Worshipful Master's inspection, 
and having received his approval, they were returned to the Architect 
for his guidance. The Worshipful Master received from the Treasurer 
Mild Secretary a bottle containing the current English coinage, also an 
original edition of the Horsburgh Directory, a copy of the newspapers and 
the other publications at Singapore ; he deposited the bottle with tho 
coins in the cavity prepared for its reception. The Inner Guard then 
presented the Worshipful Master with a copper plate bearing tho 
Following inscription: — 

In the year of Our Lord ]8o() 


in the 18th year of the reign of 


Queen of Great Britain and Ireland 

The Most Noble 

James Andrew, Marquess of Dalhousie, Kt., 

being Governor-General of British India : 

The Foundation Stone 

of tho Lighthouse to be erected at Pedra Branca and 

dedicated to the memory of the celebrated 


James Horsburgh, f.r.s., 

was laid on the 24th day of May, 

the anniversary of the Birthday of 

Her Most Gracious Majesty, 

by the 

Worshipful Master M. F. Davidson, Esq., 

and the 

Brethren of the Lodge Zetland in the East, 

No. 748, 

In tlie presence of the Governor of the Straits Settlements, 

and manv of the British and Foreign Residents of Singapore. 

J. T. Thomson, 
The inscription having also been placed in the cavity, the Worship- 
ful Master received from the architect a silver trowel with some cfement 
with which he proceeded to close tho cavity; this having been done 
aaid the stone lowered into the bed, ho directed tho Architect to "see 
that it was properly adjusted. The Square, Level, and Plumb and 
Rule were then handed to the Worshipful Master, who applied each 
instrument successively to the stone, and having struck it three times 
with his mallet, said; — "May the Great Architect of the Universe grant 
a blessing on this stone which we have now laid, and by His Pro- 
vidence enable us to finish this and every other virtuous undertak- 


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The Horsburgh and the Raffles lAghthouses. 515 

ing." The Brethren replied, "So mote it be/' and gave the usual 
Masonic salute. The Worshipful Master next called for the Cornnoopia 
containing corn, and the cups with wine and oil, and having poured 
the contents of each successively over the stone, said: — "May the All 
Bounteous Author of Nature bless our Island, of which this Uock is a 
dependency, with Corn, Wine and Oil, and with all the necessary coni- 
inrts and conveniences of life." The Brethren again responded, "So 
mote it be," and saluted as above. The Chaplain pronounced an ap- 
propriate prayer and the Worshipful Master then addressed the Governor 
and gentlemen present in the following speech : — 

"It will be impossible to convey to you in adequate terms, the 
very high sense entertained by myself and brethren of the honour you 
have done us, in having thus publicly called upon us to assist with our 
Masonic art, in laying the fonndation stone for the Lighthouse about 
to be constructed on this spot, in commemoration of the services of that 
disting-nished Hydrographer, James Horsburgh, by whose enterprising 
i^enius and surpassing zeal, the navigation of these intricate seas has 
l)oen so greatly facilitated. As a body, we feel justly proud of the 
distinction thus conferred upon us in having committed to our care the 
commencement of a woik of such vast importance to every maritime 
nation in the world, and so perfectly accordant with those principles 
t)f philanthropy which form the basis of our ancient institution ; and 
I shall ever esteem it one of the happiest circumstances of my life 
that the Brethren of Lodge Zetland in the East have been called 
upon to exercise their craft in so laudable and great an undertaking 
during the period that I enjoy, through their kind suffrages, the 
honour of occupying the Master's chair. 

"All present must regard it as a most auspicious event that this 
noble work has been begun on a day held in the highest venera- 
tion by every British subject, as being the anniversary of Her Most 
<iiacious Majesty's Birthday; and to yon, Hon'ble Sir, is the credit 
duo of having selected this most fitting mode of testifying our 
loyalty to our beloved Sovereign on the occasion; who I feel assured 
<*ould desire no greater and more pleasing proof of our attachment 
to her royal person, than our being engaged, as we are this day, 
iu laj-ing the foundation of a structure which will tend to promote 
the welfare of so many of her subjects. It would perhaps, be a 
rcry difficult task to foresee the extent of usefulness to the com- 
merce of our own country, and to that of equally civilized powers; 
but when we contemplate its effects in fosterini^ our intercourse with 
the semi-barbarous nations of Eastern Asia which surround us, whose 
want of skill in the art of navigation render them so frequently a prey 
to the mysteries of the mighty deep, and tends so materially to restrict 
their advancement, we shall bo lost in a maze of conjecture and 

" The disastrous effects resulting from the absence of a Lighthouse in 
this locality, the loss of human life and the extensive destruction of property, 
liave been too frequently and too severely felt within late years not to 
render it a matter of the deepest concern to all who feel an interest in the 
prosperity of commerce and the welfare of their fellow-creatures, that .this 
wgrk which, under your auspices, we have now so happily begun, 


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ol6 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

should have been so long deferred, I should therefore be doing 
you a great injustice, were I to refrain from noticing how much 
the world is indebted to you, Hon'ble Sir, for having brought the 
necessary arrangements to a conclusion, which, but for your unceas- 
ing and strenuous advocacy of the cause, might still have been pro- 
tracted to an indefinite period. Nor can I permit this opportunity 
to escape me of offering you ray most heartfelt congratulations that 
your long and useful career as the chief authority in the Straits of 
Malacca, which has tended so much to the improvement and embel- 
lishment of the Settlements under your rule, should be crowned by 
a labour calculated to be an era in their history, and to reflect 
everlasting honour on yourself. Doubtless the recollection of this 
day's proceedings will form, in after years, when you may be re- 
moved from the scene of your present labours, not the least pleasing 
of your reminiscences ; and that you may long live to enjoy the 
contemplation of your past useful and honourable career, is my sincere 
wish. I feel that I should ill acquit myself of the task you have 
assigned ipo, were I to omit to pay a just tribute to the munificence 
of those merchants and mariners to whose liberality we are indebted 
for the nucleus of the fund raised for the erection of the edifice of 
which we have this day laid the foundation stone. Thanks are also 
due to the llon'ble the Court of Directors of the East India Com- 
pany for having advanced the remaining sum necessary to effect this 
desirable object. 

'*The merits of the distinguished man to whose memory the 
Lighthouse is to be dedicated, are too universally acknowledged to 
need any lengthened panegyric on my part. His comprehensive 
charts, and elaborate and invaluable sailing directions, the labour of 
years of untiring exertion and devotion, stamp him as a man of 
almost unexampled genius and industry. To the navigator of these 
seas, the name of Horsburgh is almost as familiar as his own, and 
among those who are engaged in commerce in this quarter of the 
globe, who is there that does not feel and acknowledge the deepest 
debt of gratitude to him ? To the memory of one so devoted to the 
cause in which almost his whole life was spent, what more appropriate 
testimonial could be offered than the edifice now to be erected ? And 
I supplicate the Supreme Architect of the Universe so to bless the 
work, that it may long withstand the ravages of time, and bid defiance 
to the billows of destruction that surround it, to be a tower by day 
and a light by night, to guide the mariner in his course, for ages to 
come, and that succeeding generations, whilst they admire the genius 
of him to whose memory it is raised, may have cause to regard with 
gratitude those to whom its erection is due." 

The Governor replied as follows : — 

" Worshipful Master and Gentlemen of the Lodge Zetland in the 
East ; 

" I thank you for the able manner in which you have been pleased 
to perform this day^s most interesting ceremony. I have ever honoured 
the Craft of Masonry ; and the solemnity which has characterised this 
day's proceedings has made me feel the deepest respect for what I had 
previously honoured. 


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The Hortfburgh and the Raffles Lighthouses. 517 

" The kind terms in which you, Gentlemen Masons, have been pleased 
to speak of myself cannot fail to be deeply gratifying ; and what has passed 
this day will indeed have a most prominent place amongst the many pleas- 
ing recollections which I shall take with me to my native laud, when 
leaving the Straits, where, I may truly say, I have honestly laboured to 
the utmost of my ability for the advancement of the three stations. 

" I should be wanting in justice to the mercantile community and 
mariners in China if I omitted to notice what you mentioned of their 
liberality for their donations towards the Horsburgh testimonial, which, 
magnified by the munificence of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson and Co., in 
allowing compound interest on the sum raised in 1842, most certainly 
enabled me to call upon the Government of India for aid in this matter. 
The call was readily responded to and favourably received by the 
Hon'ble Court of Directors as our presence here this day bears 
evidence. But, Gentlemen, there is one other person whose zeal in this 
cause must not be lost sight of. I allude to one of the oldest and 
most respected residents of Singapore, John Purvis, Esq., who has 
narrowly watched and earnestly aided the authorities on this occa- 
sion, and whose suggestions for the more safe and speedy navigation of 
the Straits of Malacca, subsequently enlarged upon and recommended by 
that excellent body, the Singapore Chamber of Commerce, I hope 
eventually ma}' be carried into effect. Gentlemen, I entrust the 
completion of the building, of which you have now laid the founda- 
tion stone, to that valuable and indefatigable public servant and 
able architect, Mr. Thomson, with the utmost confidence ; and I 
again thank you most sincerely for the labours of this day, and for 
the impressive manner in which you have exercised your Masonic 
Craft on the occasion ; accompanied by the warmest expressions of 
loyalty to our most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, who, whilst 
some of the greatest Potentates of the Earth have either fallen 
from or tottered on their thrones, has remained firmly seated, supported 
solely by the affections of her people ; and how far-spread and deep- 
rooted are those affections the sentiments promulgated by the little 
band here collected on this isolated spot, will still further testity to 
the world at large. Let us now unite in three hearty cheers to the 
health, prosperity and long continued reign of Our Queen : God bless her. 

" The Brethren then opened a passage to allow the Governor to 
return and the party embarked at 2 p.m. on board the Eoogly, 
where a dejeuner was prepared to which His Excellency the Naval 
Commander-in-Chief, the Governor, and his guests, did ample jnstice; 
displaying their loyal attachment to our beloved Sovereign and ac- 
knowledging the kindliness of their host by enthusiastic acclamations.^' 

On the 15th October the monsoon prevented any further work 
and on the 21st all that could be made secure was left and the 
rest left to be washed away ; at 5 p.m. all took their departure. 
On the 5th April, 1851, work began again, and Mr. Church went 
out occasionally to see how it went on. In August the lantern and 
machinery arrived ; and the men-of-war lent a hand ; and on 21st 
September the lighthouse was completed. A fortnight before, an Eng- 
lish barque the Metropolis laden with tea had struck on a rock, 
twelve miles from the lighthouse, and was abandoned by the crew. 


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518 Anecdotal History of tSingapore 

On Saturday, the 27th September, Governor Butterworth accom- 
panied by Sir William JefEcott, the Recorder, Colonel Messiter, and 
a large party of gentlemen, includinfj many of the oldest residents, 
proceeded to Pedra Branca in the Roogly for the purposes of wit- 
nessing the illumination for the first time. The steamer left the 
roads at 8 o'clock in the morning, and anchored a little to the 
westward of the rock at 1 p.m. The afternoon was spent in 
inspecting the tower and lantern, together with the numerous con- 
veniences that had been constructed for the comfoii; of the light- 
keepers, including a store and a kitchen cut out in the solid 
granite, and a jetty of timber, secured by guys of massive chain- 
work, to facilitate landing during the north-east monsoon; and the 
visitors anticipated that this first Pharos of the Eastern Seas would 
prove the great Lion of the Straits for {i lon^ time to come. The 
Free Press spoke of it as an edifice of which Singapore might well 
be proud, and described it in the following way : — 

" The granite blocks which form the walls were quarried and 
shaped at Pulo Ubin ; the timber used in the building is the growth 
of our island ; the brass rails of the stair-case were moulded and 
turned in this Settlement ; and last not least the Architect and 
Engineer, Mr. J. T. Thomson, acquired tbe skill and experience, which 
enabled him to erect so rapidly this chaste and stately building, 
during a long and useful career as Government Surveyor at Singa- 
pore. The cast-iron dome and lantern are the only outside produc- 
tions. For these we are indebted to Messrs. Stevenson of Edinburgh, 
the Engineers of the Northern Lighthouses, and from the complete- 
ness of the details there can be little doubt that all the modern 
improvements have been introduced. The lamps are arranged on the 
frame in three groups, and consist of three lamps each, backed by a 
silver reflector to concentrate the rays of light. The frame revolves 
horizontally, by means of a clock-work-like apparatus, once in three 
minutes, so that the brilliant flash which lasts about 15 seconds is 
presented to the distant beholder once a minute. The guests, in 
number about fifty, sat down to dinner on board the Hoogly at half- 
past five, and soon after the removal of the cloth, a simultaneous rising 
announced that the process of illumination had commenced. Three hearty 
cheers welcomed the light, the meteor-like brilliancy of which will prob- 
ably serve to guide the midnight path of the mariner for a thousand 
years to come. The light was lighted regularly from the loth October. 
The lowest floor of the building is IG feet 9 inches above high 
water, the centre of the light is 96 feet 9 inches, and the top of the 
tower is 109 feet inches. The light is visible fifteen nautical miles. 
The expense to completion was 828,665.87 ; the lantern apparatus and 
lightning conductor cost £1,824.9.6. This exceeded the original anti- 
cipated outlay by 5843.17 but was less than the amount sanctioned by 

^ It was at first a revolving bright light, which gradually attained 
its brightest period every minute. The rooms are reached by ladders, 
with brick partitions and doors to shut in the rooms. Since its con- 
struction 824,752 more has been spent on alterations and a new light. 
The total cost to date being §48,377. It is now a revolving 


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The Horsburgh and the Raffles Lighthouaea, 519 

light of the new order, with a flash every ten seconds, visible for 
twenty miles. The shaft was originally painted white, but is now 
in black and white stripes. At the time it was erected it 
was the only lighthouse in India on a small solitary rock far out 
to sea.- It is distant nine miles from Point Roumania, the nearest 
point of land; and thirty-seven miles from Singapore. There is a 
large reef of rocks, measuring about 450 feet in one direction by 
200 feet in the other. At low water a number of detached rocks 
are seen in the locality ; at high water Pedra Branca has the ap- 
pearance of a heap of boulders loosely piled together. The proxi- 
mity was long noted for its great danger to shipping. Between 
182-i and 1851, sixteen large vessels were totally lost there, and 
two others were stranded, besides other minor accidents. A Por- 
tuguese Brig the Dourado went down with ?J500,000 on board, and 
a British Barque the Sylph went ashore with 8557,200 worth of opium. 
It was also a favourite place of attack for pirates, the people in the 
vicinity as well as the crews of the Chinese Junks being notorious 
for committing depredations on all whom they thought they could 
safely attack, and having no compunction in murdering all their victims 
in order to destroy all traces of evidence against them. 

The following inscriptions arc in a panel in the wall of the 
Visitor^s Room, which is on the sixth floor, just under the Light 
Room — 

Pharos Ego 

Cui nomen praebuit 

Horsburgh Hydrographus 

In maribus Indo Sinicis praeter omnes proeclarus 

Angliae Mercatorum nisi imprimus indole 

Ex imperii opibus Anglo Indici denique constructa 

Saluti nautarum insignis viri memoriae 



W. J. Butterworth, c.b., 

Prov: Malacc. Proof. 

A.D. 1851 

The Horsburgh Lighthouse 

is raised by the British enterprise of British Merchants, 

and by the liberal aid of the East India Company, 

to lessen the dangers of navigation, 

and likewise to hand down, 

so long as it shall last, 

in the scene of his useful labours. 

The Memory of the Great Hydrographer 

whose name it bears. 

Col. W. J. Butterworth, c.b.. 
Governor in the Straits of Malacca. 

J. T. Thomson, 


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520 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The Raffles Lighthouse. 

Ill July, 1838, it was proposed to build a lighthouse on some one 
of the islands at the western entrance of Singapore Straits ; and 
Barn Island, Alligator Island, and the Coney (where the light now 
stands) were each suggested as the most advantageous. Mr. Coleman 
thought the Coney island was too small, having only a superficial 
area of seventy feet by twenty-two, and only thirty feet above tbe 
sea-level, while Barn Island was seventy, and Alligator Island one 
hundred, but the position of the Coney was considered the best of 
the three. Captain Begbie in his book written in 1834, said, " The 
cluster of islands on the sea; Barn Island, Alligator Island, the 
Rabbit and Coney (two small islands which bear a strong similarity 
in figure to the animals whose name they bear) present a labyrinth 
through which the mariner has to thread his way.^' The island on 
which the lighthouse is built is fifteen miles south-west of Singapore, 
and marks the outer and south channel round St. John's Island to 
the Singapore roads. 

It was not until 1854 that the project was carried into execution 
and the following account of the proceedings at the laying of the 
foundation stone is taken from the Free Press : — " Wednesday the 24th 
May, being the anniversary of the birthday of Her Majesty, had 
been fixed upon for laying with Masonic honours, the foundation 
stone of the Lighthouse on the Coney, at the entrance to the Straits 
of Malacca. The Hon'ble Colonel Butterworth, c.b., Governor of 
the Straits Settlements, proceeded to the place in the H. C. Steamer 
Soogly. Amongst the gentlemen who accompanied the Governor were 
the Hon^ble the Resident Councillor, the Hon'ble Sir W. Jeffcott, 
Recorder ; Colonel Cameron, Commanding the Troops in the Straits ; 
the Hon'ble Captain Elliot, H. M. S. Syhille ; Captain Blane, H. M. S. 
Rapid) Captain Saunderson, H. M. S. Lily, M. D'Egremont, Consul- 
General for Belgium; M. Gautier, Consul-General for France; and 
the other Consuls, a number of the merchants, and the Worshipful 
the Acting Master, Mr. W. H. Read, and a party of the Brethren 
of Lodge Zetland in the East. About twenty of the Masons embarked 
on board the Sultan of Linga^s Schooner Young Queen, which was 
taken in tow by the Hoogly, and the whole got under weigh about 
half-past ten in tlie forenoon. The day was singularly favourable 
for the excursion, being cloudy with light breezes, while only a 
very slight shower fell. The Band of the 43rd Regiment M. N. I. 
was on board the Hoogly and beguiled the time with music. The 
vessels anchored ofE the Coney about 1 p.m. when the Masonic party 
disembarked and proceeded to make arrangements for the ceremony. 
When all was ready the Hon*ble the Governor landed and was received 
by the Worshipful the Acting Master and the Masons who then pro- 
ceeded to the spot in the following order : — 

Tyler with drawn Sword. 

Members of the Lodge and other Brethren 

two and two. 


borne by Brothers Gordon and Passmore. 


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The Honhurgh and the Raffles Lighthouses. 621 

Cornucopia with Corn 

borne by W. Brother M. F. Davidson. 

Two Cups with Wine and Oil 

borne by Bro. T. 0. Crane and Bro. C. Baumgarten. 

The Architect, Brother J. Bennett 

with the Plan of the Building. 

The Inner Guard, Brother J. Baxter 

bearing the Inscription Plate. 

The Secretary, Brother F. H. Gottlieb 

bearing the Book of Constitutions. 

The Treasurer, Brother J. C. Smith, with a bottle 

containing Coins and the Papers to be deposited 

in the Stone. 


borne by Brothers Macey and Froinmurzee Cursetjee. 

The Corinthian Light borne by Brother G. Shambler. 

The officiating Junior Warden, Brother J. Sparkes 

bearing the Plumb Rule. 

The Senior Warden, Brother W. C. Leisk 

bearing the Level. 

The Square borne by Brother A. Middletou. 

The Banner of the Lodge borne by Brother C. Perreau. 

The Past Master, Worshipful Brother J. Jarvie 

bearing the Sacred Law. 

The Officiating Worshipful Master, Brother 

W. H. Read, 
supported by two Brethren bearing wands. 
The company having arranged themselves round the foundation 
stone, the Hon^ble the Governor addressed the Masonic party as 
follows : — 

"Worshipful Master and Gentlemen, I had the gratification four 
years since of enlisting your services, on the anniversary of our be- 
loved Queen's Birthday, in the performance of a most philanthrophic 
work; and for a similar object I have again solicited the exercise 
of that craft, which, as I then observed, has charity and good-will 
to all mankind for its ground-work, and I have selected a return of 
the auspicious day for the present ceremony of laying the foundation 
stone of a lighthouse on this spot as a future guide to the mariner in 
the navigation to the entrance to the Straits of Malacca, and to the 
haven of Singapore, which Settlement owes its great and growing im- 
portance to that most eminent statesman Sir Stamford Raffles, whose 
name the building will bear. I now beg the favour of your proceeding 
with the work, and your acceptance of the Ti'owel which I have had 
prepared, as a memento of the call that has been made this day upon 
the Lodge Zetland in the East. 

"The Revd. C. J. Quartley, m.a., late Chaplain at Singapore, then 
offered up prayers including the following: — O Eternal Lord God, who 
spreadest the Heavens, and rulest the raging of the Sea, be pleased to 
receive under Thy Almighty protection and gracious favour, the work 
which is hero this day begun. Do Thou, without whom nothing is 
strong, nothing is holy, preserve it during its construction from the fury 


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o2"2 Ante dotal Ritftory of Siuyaporf 

of tbe elemeiitfc?, and from the ill-designs of our enemies ; and when 
through Thy goodness it shall be completed, grant that it may afiFonl 
the means of security to all who shall be in danijer in these sea>- 
Do Thou hold their souls in life, rescue them from the jaws of death, 
preserve their ships and goods, hear their prayers when they call upon 
Thee, and save them out of all their distress. And when thus deliver- 
ed by Thy mercy may they, knowing how terrible Thou art, and how 
greatly to be feared, adore Thy Divine Majesty, acknowledge Thy 
power, and implore Thy goodness. Helj). Lord, and save for Thy 
mercy's sake in Jesus Christ. A men 

" The Acting Worshipful Master then gave three strokes with his 
gavel, and requested the Treasurer to deposit in the cavity a bottle 
containing an inscription on parchment and the current coins of 
the Settlement. The Secretary then read the inscription on the plate 
which was as follows: — 

In the Year of our Lord 


and in tlic Seventeenth Year of the reign of 

QiKtN OF Great Britain a^v Ikklani», 

The Most Noble 

James Andrew Marquis of Dalhousie, Kt. 

being Governor-General of British India, 

The Foundation Stone 
of: the Lighthouse, to be erected on the 
Coney, and dedicated to the Memory of 

LL.n., F.K.s. and s.a.l.s., 

to whose Enlightened Policy, the Mercantile 
World is indebted for the selection of 

Singapore as an Emporium, 

and for the Freedom of its Commerce from 

all restraints, 

was laid on the 24th of May, the anniversary 

of the birthday of 

Hek Most Gracious Majesty, 

by the 


and the 

Brethren of the Lodge Zetland in the East, 

Mo. 748, 
In the presence of 

Colonel Butterworth, c.u. 

The Governor of the Straits Settlements, and 

many of the British and Foreign Residents at Singapore. 

Digitized by VjOOQI^ 

The Uortfhiiryli and the Kaffirs Lujhthoiis^s. o23 

^^The. plate was then placed over the cavity, the cement was 
spread by the Acting Worshipful Master^ and the upper stone 
lowered, the Baud playing 'Bule Britannia/ 

" The stone was. then tested with the Plumb, Level and >Square 
by the proper officers, who reported that the craftsmen had done 
their duty. The acting Worshipful Master then took the plumb, 
level and square and having therewith tested the stone, declared it 
to be correct and laid according to the rules of tlie ancient craft. 
The corn being then handed to the acting Worshipful Master he 
sprinkled it on the stone, saying : — ' I sprinkle this corn as an em- 
blem of plenty : may the blessings of bounteous heaven be showered 
down upon us and may our hearts be filled with gratitude/ 'Jo 
which the Brethren responded ; * So mote it bo.' The cup contain- 
ing the wine was then presented to him. He poured some on the 
stone saying : — ' I pour out this wine as an emblem of joy and glad- 
ness : may our hearts be made glad by influence of divine truth and may 
virtue flourish as the vine.^ To which the Brethren responded : ' So 
mote it be.' He then took the ewer with oil, and pouring it on 
the stone, said : — ' I pour out this oil as an emblem of peace : 
may peace and harmony, good-will and brotherly love abound 
among us for ever.' To which the Brethren responded as before : ' So 
mote it be.' 

'^ The following supplication was then offered up : ' Brethren, having 
now with your assistance laid the first stone of this building accord- 
ing to the rules of our ancient craft, let us implore the blessing of 
the Great Architect of the Universe upon this our present under- 
taking, and may He be pleased to bless this building and grant 
that it may tend to His glory, to the advancement of science and 
to the promotion of the prosperity of this Settlement.' 'So mote 
it be.' 

"The plans of the building having then been submitted to the 
acting Worshipful Master, he inspected them and said : ' Brother 
Architect, in the presence of this numerous and influential assembly 
and of these members of our ancient and honourable fraternity, 1 
have much pleasure in expressing to you how well pleased I am 
with the plan which has been exhibited, and having ascertained that 
the foundation stone is fitly placed, I have to request that you will 
promptly bring this good work to a speedy termination, feeling sure 
that you will perform it so as to benefit your reputation.' The act- 
ing Worshipful Master, Mr. W. H. Read, then addressed the Hon'ble the 
Governor in the following terms : — 

"Colonel Butterworth, as you observed, it is now four years 
since you called upon us to assist with our Masonic art, in laying the 
foundation stone of a Lighthouse about to be erected on Pedra Branca, 
in honour of that distinguished Hydrographer, James Horsburgh, and 
you have now. Honourable Sir, again requested our assistance at a 
similar ceremony, when about to raise a monument to the memory 
of that eminent statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. If it was 
peculiarly gratifying to the Brethren of the Craft to meet your views 
when about to honour him, who had, by his indefatigable geogra- 
phical researches and untiring perseverance, so greatly facilitated the 


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524 Afiecdoial History of Singapore 

Qa\dgatioii of these seas, how much more mast they feel honoured on 
the present occasion, when assembled to lay the foundation stone of 
a buildiug, not only peculiarly useful in itself, but moreover destined 
to perpetuate to distant ages the name of him to whom England 
owes so deep a debt of gratitude for the political foresight and sur- 
passing sagacity displayed in the selection of Singapore^ as 'a great 
commercial emporium and a fulcrum whence we may extend our poli- 
tical influence/ and I cannot refrain from congratulating myself on 
tin* prominent part I am appointed to take in this imposino^ cere- 
mony, when I call to mind the intimacy with the members of hi:: 
family which I have so long enjoyed, and their friendship which 1 
still continue to possess. 

" Under the peculiar circumstances in which our native land i^ 
now placed on the threshold of a war of undoubted severity and 
uncertain duration^ the selection of this day for the purpose to which 
we have devoted it, is not the least felicitous conception connected 
with its proceedings ; it awakens with double force those feelings of 
patriotism and devotion to Her Most Gracious Majesty, which must 
over animate the hearts of all true Britons ; and sincerely do I trust 
that it will please the Great Disposer of Events to crown the arm& 
of Enjrland with victory, and grant to our Sovereign many years of 
peace, happiness and prosperity, enshrined in the hearts of her de- 
voted subjects, by unceasing watchfulness over their welfare. The 
continued exertions, which you, Hon'ble Sir, have so constantly de- 
voted to the important object for which this building is designed, 
are now approaching a successful termination, and it cannot but be 
most gratifying to you to assist at tliis commencement of the second 
link of that chain of lights which will at no distant period illu- 
mine the Straits of Malacca, the safe and speedy navigation of which 
liji.s now become of paramount importance, and it will ever be a 
pioud reminiscence, when you have retired from these scenes of your 
active labours, that you have left your name prominently connected 
with one of the most beneficial public works in the East. 

"It is beyond the imperfect powers of my abilities to give due 
praise and honour to the gifted statesman to whom this building 
is dedicated, and it would indeed be presumptuous to attempt to 
speak in adequate terms of his noble qualities, his varied talents, 
his ardent patriotism and his guileless philanthropy : his acts, his 
works, his letters, bear ample testimony of these. Here he estab- 
lished Free Trade in the midst of Monopoly, and with prophetic 
confidence looked forward to the day when the British flag should 
wave over these seas in protection of its freedom and in the pro- 
motion of its spirit. Here he fondly anticipated the time when 
commerce and civilization, joined hand in hand, should redeem the 
natives of these countries from their benighted state of barbaric 
ignorance. He looked upon this as the mission of his native country, 
as the glorious task of a people grateful for the blessings showered 
down from on High upon a favoured land.^' Mr. Read then quoted the 
words of Sir Stamford in his address on the founding of the Institu- 
tion, which have already been printed at the end of the first chapter 
in this book, on page 16. 

Digitized by VjOOQI^ 

The Horshwrgh and the Raffles lAghthmiseis, 525 

'Vo which the Governor made the following reply : — " Worshipful 
Master and Gentlemen, 

** The imposing and impressive manner in which you have exercised 
your craft, cannot fail to have left on the minds of all present a feel- 
ing of deep respect for the order of Masonry, and I thank you, 
Gentlemen, for having complied with my request. To yOu, Reverend 
Sir, I am most grateful for the solemn blessing you have invoked on 
the undertaking, through which and the acknowledged skill of the able 
architect, Captain Man, and his zealous assistant, Mr. Bennett, we may 
confidently hope it wilLrealize the object contemplated. It has afforded 
me infinite satisfaction to mark the sense so universally entertained of 
the services rendered to the commercial world by the enlightened 
policy of the founder of Singapore, by dedicating the building to his 
memory, under the designation of the Baffles Lighthouse. To this 
circumstance and to the Masonic Ceremonies, I, in a great measure, 
attribute the large attendance here his day, but in a greater still 
to its being in honour of Her Majesty's birthday. I will therefore 
ask you. Gentlemen, to unite with me in three hearty cheers for 
Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and for the successful termination of 
the war, in which Great Britain is now engaged to support the 
weak against the mighty power of the oppressor." 

'• Three cheers were then given with right good will and thus 
terminated this very interesting ceremony. The company then re- 
embarked and returned to Singapore, the Hoogly again taking the Schooner 
in tow. Dinner was served on board at five, and after the excellent 
fare provided had been done ample justice toj the health of Her 
Majesty the Queen was drunk with all the honours, followed bv 
that of His Majesty the Emperor of the French, and other appro- 
priate toasts. M. Gautier, Consul for France, proposed the united 
Armies and Navies of the two powers, which was suitably responded 
to by the Hon'ble Captain Elliot, r.n., and Colonel Cameron. 
The party on board the Schooner appeared to be a very '' jovial crew " 
keeping it up in famous style. The vessels came to anchor about 
half-past seven, and thus ended an excursion, at which every one present 
seemed thoroughly to enjoy himself." 

The inscriptions placed on a Tablet in the visitor's room are ns 
follows : — 

Haec Pharos 
ex Imperii Anglo-Indici opibus extructa, 


oppidi in insula Singapura conditoris, 

cujus per prudens consilium et munificum 

isthsBC regie fruitur 

Porto immuni 

et ad mercatoram maribus in Indicis agendam 

opportunissime site, 

nomen et memoriam apud posteros servet. 


Gul: Joh; Butterworth, c.u., 

Prov: Mala^jcee Proef : 


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526 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The Raffles Lighthouse 

erected in the year of Onr Lord 


by the Honourable East India Company 

and dedicated to the Memory of 


The Founder of Singapore, 

to whoso liberal and comprehensive Policy 

This Settlement is indebted for its 

Free Port 

and the unrivalled position it now holds 

as an Emporium 

in the Indian Seas. 

Colonel W. J. Butterworth, c.b., 

Governor of Prince of Wales' Island, 

Singapore, and Malacca." 

The light which was lit from the 1st December, 1855, is a fixed 
bright dioptric light of the third order. The centre of the light is 
101) feet above high water mark, and is visible about twelve nautical 

As compared with the Horsburgh Lighthouse it was a very easy 
work, there being ample surface on the hill at some height above the 
sea. Whereas on Pedra Branca there was scarcely two feet to spare 
round the building on the surface of the rock, and the waves washed 
right over it. 


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1850. 527 



ON Sunday niglit, tlie 17th February, shortly before midnight, the 
E. I. Company's man-of-war Feroze anchored in the roads, hav- 
ing on board the Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor-General, and the 
Marchioness of Dalhousie, attended by a numerous suite, which included 
Sir Henry Elliot, k.c.b., the Foreign Secretary to the Government of 
India, and a brother of Captain Charles Morgan Elliot, of the Engi- 
neers, who was so well-known in Singapore. Lord Dalhousie had been 
in bad health, and came down here for a sea voyage. The following 
account of the three days' stay of the Governor-General in Singapore 
is taken from the Free Press. The Dalhousie Monument was erected 
during the year in commemoration of his visit: — 

"At an early hour on Monday morning the Governor, Colonel 
Butterworth, c.b., repaired on board the Feroze, when it was arranged 
that the landing should take place at half-past nine o'clock. Long 
before that hour arrived, the roads leading to the landing place were 
thronged with natives, all in their gala dresses, hastening towards the 
scene of debarkation, where the 51st Regiment M. N. I. was drnwn 
up. Two lines of sampans, manned chiefly by the Tumonggoii g's 
followers, in bright hajtis and sarongs, formed a lane from the entrance 
of the river to the shipping, through which the procession of boats 
bearing his Lordship and suite passed to the landing place, where the great 
body of the European residents, H. H. the Tumonggong and sword- 
bearers, the Heads of the Chinese tribes, and other principal native 
inhabitants, were drawn up to receive him. It was altogether a vorv 
impressive scene, and calculated to produce a striking effect on those 
who were not aware how large and motley a population the blessings 
of free trade have collected together in this remote part of the world. 
Here were representatives of every commercial nation under the sun, 
assembled together to welcome one of the leading advocates of those 
principles of free trade under which our Settlement has prospered, 
and which now seem destined to efEect a bloodless revolution through- 
ont the world. 

"During his short stay, the Governor-General was actively 
employed in visiting the public buildings and institutions, and making 
himself ncqiiainted with the affairs of the Settlement. We understand 
that the general result proved highly satisfactory to his Lordship, who 
was lavish in his expressions of surprise at the evidently prosperous 
condition of cur community; which, by the bye, seems to have been 
heretofore very little known and appreciated ut head quarters. His 
Lordship's visit occurring during the season of Lent, prevented tlie 
display of those festivities which usually accompany the progresses of 
great personages, but the principal members of the community liad an 


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528 Anecdotal Ilistory of Singapore 

opportunity afforded them, by tlie hospitality of Colonel Butterworth, 
of meeting the Marchioness of Dalhousie, whose amiable character and 
unaffected goodness and kindness of manner has left among the 
smaller circle in which her position threw her, an impression not less 
pleasing than that produced by the Governor-General. 

'^ Tuesday was the day fixed by his Lordship for holdiug a general 
levee at the Court House, and receiving the various addresses. The 
first address was that of the Masonic Lodge 'Zetland in the East,* 
his Lordship being the Grand Patron of the order in India. The 
deputation presenting the address consisted of about forty of the 
members of the Lodge, who were most kindly received, and left deeply 
impressed with the courtesy of their Grand Patron. The next was 
that of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce, which was presented by 
Mr. George Garden Nicol, the Chairman, and a numerous deputation. 
On the conclusion of the reply his Lordship addressed the Chairman, 
»ind after remarking on the wide circle of countries and nations 
represented by the members of the Chamber, took occasion to inform 
the deputation of the appointment by Her Majesty of Sir James 
Brooki* to a special Mission to Siam and Cochin-China, with a 
view to place British trade there on a more satisfactory footing ; 
and his Lordship expressed his hope that it would be succes.sful. 
The Deputation then withdrew. 

*'The address of the Chinese merchants was then presented, and 
was answered in the same kind way, but, from some oversight, it 
was not interpreted to them in Chinese. Prom all we have heard, 
we may assure the Chinese merchants that his Lordship was greatly 
pleased with them, and much impressed with their peaceful and 
respectful manners, their great industry and enterprise, and the large 
sharo they have had in bringing about the prosperous condition ^ of 
the Settlement. We understand he was greatly struck with the 
Chinese aspect which they have given to so large a portion of the 
town. After the levee was over, his Lordship, entering the Hall 
where the party was assembled, renewed the expression of the deep 
gratification his visit had afforded him, and his regret that, owing 
to the state of his health and the lateness of the season, he was 
reluctantly obliged to shorten his visit which he would otherwise 
have gladly prolonged. 

'*The forenoon of Wednesday, the day fixed for his Lordship's 
departure, was signalised by a display of feeling on the part of the 
Chinese community, which we believe to have been quite spontaneous. 
About 9 o'clock the road up Government Hill was occupied by a 
long train of toy carriages, splendidly painted and gilded, some 
drawn by ponies, others by men, which were filled with gaily dressed 
Chinese children, sent by their mothers to wait upon Lady Dalhousie. 
It was altogether a most pleasing spectacle, and as a display of feel- 
ing on the part of our large Chinese community, is not devoid of 
importance. Her Ladyship, as well as Lord Dalhousie, received their 
youthful visitors with the utmost kindness, and appeared to take great 
delight in the novel and interesting sight. The great kindness and personal 
notice bestowed by her Ladyship on the children during the visit, 
have, almost more than anything else, gained the hearts of the Chinese* 


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1850. 529 

" Lord and Lady Dalhousie visited the Chinese temple at Teluk 
Ayer, and his Lordship also found time to visit some of the 
plantations in the vicinity of the town. 

*' Lord Dalhousie embarked at half past two o'clock p.m., under 
a salute of 19 guns, the attendance at the landing place being 
similar to that which had assembled to honour his arrival. His 
Lordship, after shaking hands with a few of the spectators, again 
expressed his great regret at the shortness of his stay, but hinted 
at the possibility of his return hereafter. Three hearty cheers 
followed his stepping into the Feroze's barge, and thus terminated 
what we truly hope is only Lord Dalhousie's first visit to Singa- 
pore. Perhaps no public man ever succeeded in producing so 
general a feeling of confidence and satisfaction among a large 
community as the Governor-General has done during this short visit. 
This may, in some degree, be attributed to his Lordship's kind and 
courteous manner; but the great cause is the matter-of-fact and 
business-like style in which his Lordship handled every subject that was 
brought under his notice, and the evident intention that he displayed 
of making his visit, not one of ease to himself, but of advantage 
to the community that he has been called upon to govern.'* 

The Free Press spoke of the result of the visit as follows:— 
"The three days' visit of the Governor-General to Singapore, has, 
we trust, produced as pleasant an effect on the noble lord as it 
has done on the community of Singapore. The liberal policy so 
freely avowed by his Lordship, his manly frankness of address, and 
the sound and matured judgments which characterised his conversa- 
tion and remarks, have gained him golden opinions, which we hope 
nothing hereafter may arise to disturb or alter. His Lordship has 
gained some knowledge, from personal observation, of the circum- 
stances of the Settlement, and the inhabitants have gained some 
knowledge of his Lordship; better aids to a mutual understanding 
than could be accomplished by petitions, memorials, and dispatches 
discharged at each other at some thousands miles' distance, although 
of the utmost voluminousness and frequency. 

"Although the visit of the Governor-General has been so short 
as not to allow him to do more than cast a very hasty glance at 
matters of business, yet the better understanding he must have 
acquired of the Settlement and its people must have convinced him 
of the great advantages which would result to the Straits Settle- 
ments from more frequent visits to them by high functionaries of 
Government. His Lordship cannot be expected to renew his progress 
through his Par Eastern dominions, but he might urge the Deputy- 
Grovernor of Bengal, under whose control they are more immediately, 
or some other members of council, to make the tour from time to 
time. Such an inspection, we are convinced, would be attended with the 
happiest results, in establishing and maintaining a more cordial feeling 
between the governors and the governed. It may be a matter of little 
consequence to the former, but to the latter of what vital importance. 

''For many years past, the reception given to the representa- 
tions of the communities in the Straits Settlements in high quarters, 
and in some instances the legislation on Straits affairs, have given 


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530 Anecdotal History -of Singapore 

rise to a very general impression that there existed in the Suprenie 
Government, or some member of it, an unfavourable feeling towards 
these Settlements; an impression which, whether well or ill-founded, 
it must be desirable to remove. That this feeling does not now 
exist with the Governor-General, or any of the Officers of 
Government who accompanied him, may be confidently hoped for, 
and that it should never again arise, would be secured by the per- 
sonal experience in the members of the Supreme Government, of which 
a visit to the Straits, from time to time, would put them in posses- 
sion. • The Governor-General has learned from personal observation 
that Singapore is not a mere fishing village, and that it is some- 
thing better than a convict station. May the favourable opinion that 
has been thus formed, be strengthened and perpetuated, and the 
result in time to come cannot fail to be beneficial to the Settlement/' 

The Governor-General presented one thousand Rupees to Tan 
Tock Seng's hospital during his stay. 1'an Tock Seng died, at the 
age of 52 years, a fortnight after Lord Dalhousie left Singapore. 
He was a native of Malacca, but had lived almost all his life in 
Singapore, to which he came soon after its establishment, with no 
money, his only capital being industry and economy, like Eu Chin 
and so many of our best Chinese residents. Tock Seng started as 
a vegetable, fruit and fowl-seller, going into the country to buy and 
retailing in the town. Having saved a little money he opened a 
shop on the river-side. Afterwards he joined in some speculations 
with Mr, Whitehead, arid it was chiefly by this means he made most 
of his money. He was made a Justice of the Peace by Colonel 
Butterworth, the only native who had been appointed up to that 
time, and was very often occupied in settling disputes between his 
countrymen. His charities were very extensive and constant, and he 
was accustomed to bear the expense of burying poor Chinese. He 
built the hospital of which there is an account in another Chapter, 
wjiich was called after him, and it >vas said that if he had lived 
he would have left considerable sums for its maintenance, as well 
as for other charitable purposes. He left a widow, three sons and 
three daughters. His eldest son^ Tan Kim Cheng, followed in the 
footsteps of his father. He carried on a large business, owning rice 
mills in Saigon and Siam, and steamers. He was Consul for Siam and 
had a title conferred on him by the King. He died in Singapore 
in- 1892. His eldest son, or eldest male descendant, is a Statutory 
Member of the Committee of Management of Tan Tock Seng's Hospital, 
Tinder the Ordinance by which the hospital was incorporated in 1880. 

On Saturday, tlie 23rd February, a public meeting of the Euro- 
pean and Chinese inhabitants was convened by the Sheriff to consider 
the best w^ay of commemorating the visit of the Governor-General. Mr. 
William Wemmys Ker was in the Chair. Mr. G. G. Nicol and Mr. M. 
F. Davidson moved the first resolution as follows : — 

- ** That it appears to this meeting the most proper mode of commemorat- 
inff the Governor- General's visit to Singapore, would be by the erection of an 
Obelisk or triumphal Colnmn on some part of the Esplanade (the centre being 
reserved for the intended monamerit to Sir Stamford Raffles) or such other 
cpnspicupxis site as may be fixed on hereafter.'' 


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1850. 581 

Mr. Gr. W. Earl and Mr. Joaqaim d^ Almeida proposed : — 

"That the testimonials shall consist of two towers to be erected, one on 
or near the St. John*s or eastern entrance, and the other near the Tree Island 
or western enti-ance of the narrow Straits of Singapore: the one to be called 
Raffles and the other the Dalhonsie Light, and that the authorities be applied 
to apportion part of the fands raised bj tonnage dues on shipping to the 
maintenance of their respective lights." 

After a long discussion, Mr. Charles Spottiswoode and Mr. Lewis 
Fraser proposed : — 

" That the recent visit of this Governor- General of India, and the addresses 
and discassion it has occasioned^ are eminently calculated to call to mind the 
origin of Singapore, and all those great principles connected with the exten- 
sion and freedom of commerce, which led to its establishment as a British 
Settlement and free port, and which principles are now for the first time fully 
recognised and acted upon by the Supreme Government; it is the opinion of 
this meeting that the most fitting mode of at once commemorating Lord Dal- 
honsie*s visit and the sound commercial views which mark his administration, 
is to erect a durable public monument, on a conspicuous site, to the memory 
of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of this Settlement, handing down to pos- 
terity, as such a monument must do, the high sense entertained by this com- 
mnnity of the extraordinary sagjicity and penetration of that great man in 
planning the formation of a British Settlement to the Eastward, and the in- 
domitable energy and persevei'ance with which he overcame all obstacles and 
carried it into effect, while it will perpetuate the remembrance of the wise 
commercial policy which characterises the present Government of India under 
the administration of the distinguished nobleman who has so recently left these 

Whereupon Dr. Little and Mr. James Guthrie proposed that the 
meeting should be adjourned for a V7eek, but Mr. Davidson and some 
others objected, and it was decided to continue, and after Mr. T. 
A. Behn had explained the proposal in Malay for the benefit of the 
Chinese, a committee was appointed to decide the matter ; and the 
following correspondence took place : — 

To the Hon'ble Colonel Butteeworth, c.b., 

Governor of Prince of Wales' Island, 
Singapore and Malacca. 


We have the honour to inform you, that the mercantile and other non- 
official members of our community, Europeans and Asiatics, deeply impressed 
with a sense of the great benefits the Settlement cannot fail to derive from 
the recent visit of the Most Noble the Marquis of Dalhousie, Governor- General 
of India, the auspicious circumstances attending it, the unfeigned gratifica- 
tion all classes derived from personal intercourse with one so distinguished by 
public character and private worth — and more especially his earnest recognition 
of those great principles of freedom from aU commercial restrictions to which 
the prosperity of the Settlement is due, and with which it must ever be iden- 
tified — resolved to commemorate the event by the erection of a Testimonial in 
honour of his Lordship, and we were appointed as a Committee to carry out 
this resolution. 

The necessary funds being raised (by subscriptions limited to $5) we have now 
the honour to state that the plan of an Obelisk, designed by Mr. Thomson, 
and submitted to you herewith, has been approved of, and it being our opinion 
that the most suitable spot for its erection would be at the new landing place, 
at the point of intersection of the Beach Road and that leading to High Street, 
we Truest that permission maj be granted for its being ei*ected on that site. 


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532 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

We are also directed to conyej to joa tbe unanimous wish of the sub- 
scribers, that in further commemoration of the visit, the new landing place 
should be called the Balhouue Ghaut and we confidently anticipa^ yt>ur 
compliance with this wish. 

We have the honour to be, Ac, 

G. G. NicoL. ^ 

M. F. Davidson, 

J. Guthrie, 

Tan Kim Sbng, I Committee of the Dalhousie 

JoAQUiH d' Almeida, ' Testimonial. 


Ano Choon Seng, 
Seah En Chin, 

To which the followinjj^ was the reply: — 

Gentlemen, — I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter 
under date the 30th instant, intimating that the mercantile and non-omcial mem- 
bers of the Cl-ommunity at thib Station, Europeans and Asiatics, have resolvt'd 
to commemorate the advent of the Most Noble the Marquis of D^ilhousie, Kt., 
Governor- Genoi*al of British India, by the ere«'tion of an Obelisk, the funds 
for which have been raised by subscriptions limited to ^ve dollars, and re- 
questing that the new jetty may be termed the Dalhousie Ghaut. 

I shall have great gratiHcation in communicating to the Most Noble the 
Marquis of Dalhousie, Kt., Governor- General of British India, the high esti- 
mation in which his visit to thin Station is held by all classes of the com- 
munity, and the manner in which you have determined to commemoi'ate thtit event. 

The site selected for the Obelisk appeara peculiarly well-adapted for the 
purpose, and it is a pleasing patisfaction to me to sanction its erection on the 
spot indicated by yon, ns also to anthorixe the new jetty being termed the 
Dallumsie Ghaut. 

I have the honour to be, &c., 


Singapore, 3l8t May, 1850. 

The list of subscribers was afterwards published in the Free Press 
it contained over 200 names, aijd amounted to ? 1.305. 

It IS curious to observe that in^the first resolution of the meet- 
ing on 23rd February it was mentioned that the centre of the 
Esplanade was intended to be reserved for the int-ended monument to Sir 
Stamford Raffles, which was actually carried into effect in 1887. 
The Dalhousie monument was in the way when the Esplanade was 
widened tliirty-five years afterwards, and it was proposed to do away 
with it, but Governor Sir Cecil Smith most wisely declined to ac- 
cede to this, on the ground that the acts of former generations of 
this place should not be allowed to fall into oldivion, and it was 
replaced on tlie same line, as regards a harbour mark, but a little 
nearer the new sea wall. 

The public revenue of Singapore for the year 1849-50 amounted 
to B«. 386,119, and the proper local expenditure to B«. 258,333. To 
the expenditure must be added B« 200.892 for military, and ih. 58,222 
for convicts, making the total expenditure B«. 517,447, and thus leav- 
ing a deficiency to be borne by India of fi«. 131,328. The total 
value of the imports into Singapore for the official year 1849-50 
amounted to ... ... ... ... .. ? 13,313.041 

Exports for the same period ... ... $10,465,521 

Total value of trade 1849-50 »23,768,562 

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1850. 588 

The total popalation, which was ascertained by a census in Decem- 
ber, 1849, was 59,043, of which 198 were Europeans, 304 Eurasians, 
and 24,790 Chinese. This was a very trifling increase over the cen- 
sus of J 848, and was attributed to the decrease in the number of 
coolies workinjjf in the interior of the island, in consequence of the 
low price of produce and the exhaustion of much of the soil, for 
which reasons many had left and opened new plantations in Johore. 

The number of Chinese immigrants who arrived from China for 
the year ending 30th April was 10,928, of whom 7,726 were brought 
by junks, and 3,202 arrived in square-rigged vessels. 

Two of the earliest settlers in Singapore, and who were pecu- 
liarly distinguished by the aid they lent in advancing the pros- 
perity of the Settlement, were removed by death during the year. 
One of them, Mr. A. L. Johnston, the contemporary of Sir S. Rnffles, 
and who w»s much in the confidence of that eminent man, although 
he had resided in Europe for several years before his « death, to the 
last took a most lively interest in Singapore, and by his will left 
a handsome donation to the Institution. The other. Sir Jose 
d' Almeida, resided in Singapore to the last, and pursued with untiring 
zeal those agricultural experiments to which he was always attached, 
and which assisted so tnuch in inspiring others with a taste for 
similar undertakinifs. Accounts of both these old pioneers of Singa- 
pore have already been given in this book, on pages 62 and 184. 

The Free Press contained the following account of a Masonic 
Ball given on the 25th January : — " The ball and supper given by 
the Brethren of the Lodge 'Zetland in the East' to the Singapoi*e 
community, took place at the Masonic Hall on Friday last, and was 
very numerously attended, the company assembled having amounted 
to little short of three hundred. The front of the Hall was bril- 
liantly lighted by variegated lamps arranged in Masonic devices, and 
the interior was decorated in a style which did great credit to the 
taste of the Committee of Management. Dancing commenced soon 
after eight o'clock. The full Masonic costume of the Brethren, and, 
above all, the presence of a Knight Templar and his page in the 
splendid full-dress of the order, added much to the brilliant appear- 
ance of the assemblage. The Governor arrived about nine o'clock, 
and seemed to be much gratified by the scene that presented itself. 
Soon after midnight the company adjourned to a spacious salle a 
laanyer which has recently been erected at the back of the Hall, 
(to which it is attached by a covered gallery) where the supper- 
tables were laid out, loaded with the delicacies that our Settlement 
affords. After supper the dancing was renewed and kept up with 
great spirit far into the small hours of the morning when the company dis- 
persed evidently much gratified with their entertainment. We have been 
confidently informed by those whose experience of Singapore dates farther 
back than ours, that this has been one of the most brilliant and well- 
conducted assemblages that has ever taken place at Singapore. The 
Masonic brethren have great advantages in getting up affairs of this 
kind. They form an organised body, accustomed to act in concert, so 
that the making up of the committee, generally the most difficult 
part of the task, is to them, a work of comparative ease/* 


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534 Aiiecdotal History of Singapore, 

The list of members of the Masonic Lodge showed 91 members, 
including the Hon. Henry Keppel, and 5 honorary members, includ- 
ing Rajah Brooke. 

In February, Sir Christopher Rawlinson, the Recorder, was pro- 
moted to the Madras Bench, and Sir William JefFcott was appointed 
and took his place in April. 

On the 1st March, Mr. T. A. Behn and V. L. Meyer dissolved 
partnership, and the firm of Behn, Meyer & Co. was continued under 
the same name by Mr. T. A. Behn & Mr. Frederick Albert Schrei- 
ber ; Mr. Arnold Otto Meyer signing by procuration. In May, the 
firm of Middletons Blundell & Co. was dissolved, Mr. William Blun- 
dell leaving the house, and it was continued as Middletons & Co. by 
Mr. James Middleton, Mr. A. Middleton and Mr. C. H. Harrison. 

In March the newspaper gave the following account of the 
•weather ; and of a duel in Singapore, an occurrence almost unknown 
here : — " During the greater part of last week the visitations of 
thunder and lightning were frequent, betokening that Dame Nature 
was breaking up the North-east monsoon. On Friday several loud 
claps of thunder took place immediately overhead, which caused 
much alarm amongst the natives. The electric fluid struck the flag- 
staff on Government Hill, and split the masts to shivers, peeling the 
copper off the heel. The electric fluid injured some of the Venetians 
of Government House, as also the aviary, but without doing further 
mischief. Happily no lives were lost.*' 

" On Thursday morning last an * affair of honour * came off, in 
the neighbourhood of the Race Course, between two European 
gentlemen. Messieurs S. and P. Mr. S. tired and the shot whizzed 
close past his antagonist's ear ; Mr. P. discharged the contents of his 
pistol into the air. The Police had received information, but were not 
on the spot until too late to save — powder and shot !*' 

In April the paper spoke of the hill now called Government Hill, 
as follows: — "Within the last few days that part of the high bamboo 
hedge encircling Mr. Prinsep's Estate, which bounds the low ground 
separating the public road from Bukit Selegie [this would be where 
Selegie Road is now], has been cut down, opening up a view to the 
lovers of the picturesque equally unexpected and enchanting. The dark 
masses of the fruit-trees growing in the low ground contrast agreeably 
with the lighter foliage of the nutmeg trees on the slopes, the large 
trees at the feet and on the sides of the hills, and the glimpses here 
and there caaght of Mount Sophia and Bukit Selegie form altogether 
a picture as rare as it is pleasing, reminding the European resident of 
scenes in the old country, which he little expected to find so vividly 
brought to his recollection by anything in our tropical landscape. There 
are few properties in Singapore which can offer such varied scenery as 
that of Mr. Prinsep, most of them being still too new and wearing too 
formal and raw a look, yet there are none which would not form a more 
pleasing object to rest the eye upon than a close and high bamboo 
hedge, excluding at once the air and the light ; and we, therefore, hope 
that the landed proprietors generally in the neighbourhood of the town 
will have sufiicient philanthropy and consideration for the comfort of 
iheir fellow-Citizens to follow the good example thus set them/' 


ized by Google 

1850. SS6 

The following is a copy of the Minutes of the first meeting of the 
Committee to send exhibits to the Great Exhibition of 1851 : — 
" Proceedings of the Singapore Committee for the furtherance of the 

objects of the great Exhibition of 1851, under direction frorri_ the 

Bengal Government and Central Committee of Calcutta, held this 

16th May, 1850, 

President : 
Hon^ble Colonel Butterworth, c.b., Governor. 
Members : 

Hon'ble T. Church, H. C. Caldwell, G. W. Earl, Captain Man, G. G. 
Nicol, W. W. Ker, Tan Kim Seng, Syed Omar, and T. Oxley, Member 
and Secretary. 

His Honour the Governor having opened the proceedings by 
calling attention to the importance of the subject, and thanking the 
members for the alacrity with which they had responded to his 
wishes, lists of various articles were submitted by several members 
of the Committee, each member being individually responsible for 
obtaining those articles he was best acquainted with, after which 
the following resolutions were passed : — 

1st Resolution, — That the Secretary be requested to write to the 
Central Committee reporting the proceedings of to-day, and furnish- 
ing at the same time a list of the articles procurable, with the 
names of the gentlemen who have undertaken to procure them. 

2nd Resolution. — That each party who has undertaken to procure 
the several articles be furnished with a a list thereof by the Secre- 

3rd Resolution, — That the prices of all the articles at the places 
where procurable be shewn on the final list to be submitted to the 
Central Committee, and transmitted with the article to be exhibited. 

4th Resolution, — That each member furnish a short account of 
the several articles supplied by him. 

5th Resolution, — That an outline map shewing the geographical 
position of each place from whence the articles are procured be for- 
warded for the information of the Central Committee. 

6th Resolution, — That it is the opinion of this Committee, re- 
corded for the information of the Central Committee, that the whole 
of the articles enumerated in the lists now before them cannot exceed 
a sum of three thousand dollars, inclusive of the arms and Malay 
musical instruments. 

7th Resolution, — That the Secretary be requested to write to the 
Central Committee soliciting their opinion as to whether the pro- 
ducts and manufactures of the Philippines are to be included in 
the operations of the Singapore Committee. These the Committee 
beg to observe will probably be costly and are not considered in 
their present estimate. 

8th Resolution. — That the Committee take leave to point out that 
the Malay arms and musical instruments are by far the most ex- 
pensive articles in the lists submitted, a set of the latter is likely 
not to cost less than* 1,000 rupees, they .therefore request the. 
Banction of the Central Committee before^ purchasing iUlisc lulicleb. ^ 


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586 Anecdotal History of Binga/pore. 

9th Beaolution, — ^Tbat His Excellency Sir James Brooke^ k.cb, be 
requested to favoar the Committee by making his valuable services 
and influence available to them for obtaining specimens of Bornean 
products and manufactures, provided he has not received instructions 
from the Home Government to make collections for them/' 

In June, the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Austin, stopped 
the P. & O. Mail, as is related in the following extract from the 
Free Press : — *' The inhabitants of Singapore on Monday forenoon 
were surprised at the report of heavy gnns, immediately after the 
departure of the Pekin, which was soon ascertained from those 
cogpiizant of naval forms to be a " recall," or order for the de- 
tention of the Pekin, which vessel had made a few revolutions when 
the signal was made from the steam-sloop Fury, on board which 
ship the Naval Commander-in-Chiefs flag is at present flyint?. These 
sounds, however, were imagined by those on board the Pekin to 
proceed from some junks saluting prior to their departure, and she 
held on her way without attending to them. It appears that im- 
portant public despatches had been left behind, and it was therefore 
necessary that they should be sent after the Pekin. The Fitry was 
at this time undergoing some requisite adjustment of her ponderous 
machinery, and one boiler was under repair, besides other causes 
of detention, the details of which we are not cognizant of, yet at 
noon she was ready for the chase, on which she started precisely 
3 hours 7 minutes in arrear of the run-away mail. A stern chase is 
generally denominated a long chase, but in the present instance such 
proved not to be the fact. The Pekin was sighted shortly after 2 
o'clock, and the distance between each rapidly decreased. When the 
Pekin was some five miles ahead "blank cartridge" from the bow gun, 
we hear, was fired, but no notice being taken, it was determined to send 
a shot in the same direction so as to fall on the starboard quarter^ 
which had the desired effect, and the Pekin at last pulled up.'' 

Such an occurrence was not unusual in former days. One 
Admiral, about 1862, we think it was Admiral Kuper, shot away part 
of the fore-rigging of a P. & 0. steamer in Japan for not heaving 
to, when signalled to do so. The master of a P. & 0. steamer in Singa- 
pore in 1867 having made some demur as to waiting a short time to 
take Admiral KeppePs despatches on board, was effectually prevented 
from going to sea, if he had intended to do so, by a manned-and- 
armed cutter being laid alongside the vessel at the New Harbour 
wharf ; the letters, however, were on board before the advertised hour 
for sailing. Another steamer during the Abyssinian war, in 1867, 
neglecting to heave to when passing through the old harbour, when 
H. M. S. Satellite signalled to her to do so, had two blank guns 
fired at her, and then a shot was sent (icross her bows. The shot 
was so well in front of her, that it nearly hit the Jpowder magazine, 
anchored outside the harbour 1 

The newspaper in September contained the following paragraph : — 
"Apian has been set agoing for building three bungalows on Bukit 
Timah by subscription, which has met with the cordial approval and 
assistance of the authorities. This scheme promises, if carried out, 
to pt^ye of much benefit to the residents here^ by providing the 

DinitiypH h\/ 


1860. 587 

means of a change of scene and^ in a slight degree^ of climate also, 
without the trouble and expense of a sea voyage. The subscription 
list is beinir rapidly filled up, and operations will be commenced as soon 
as practicable. Some six or seven years ago we pointed out the eligibility 
of Bakit Timah for the purpose to which it is now proposed to apply 
itj and hs the favourable opinion which we then expressed of the spot 
has undergone no change, we have much pleasure in recommending 
those who may not have yet subscribed, and who are desirous of haviug 
the means of a seasonable change of scene, &c., at their command at 
a very moderate expense, to lose no time in putting down their names." 
The proposal was not carried out, and the Government bungalow was 
built on the top of the hill many years afterwards. 

The following shews how the Secret Societies carried on their proceed- 
ings in those days : — 

" A case which exposes to view the criminal and pernicious tendency 
of the system of the hoe^ was brought before the Criminal Session last 
Saturday, and Tan Ah Tow, one of the headmen and judges at the Kongai 
house at Rochore, was put on his trial, charged with misprision of 
felony and an aggravated assault. It was fully proved by the evidence 
produced that five Chinamen, the owners of a boat which had been stolen, 
had succeeded after a search of fourteen days in finding it in the Seran- 
jjoon river with a number of weapons in it, commonly used by our petty 
pirates, securing three of the thieves at the same time, whom they were 
conducting to the Police Office, when they met the prisoner at Gaylang, 
who ordered them to let go the thieves who were his men, and directed 
them to appear at the Kongsi house on the 9th of June, when he would 
decide upon the merits of the case. Fear compelled them to act as they 
were directed. On the appointed day they went all five to the Kongsi house, 
found there only one of the thieves, about thirty other Chinese, and the 
prisoner in the chair, who directed them to return all the articles found in 
the boat to the thieves, and to keep the boat, while they were told they 
would be punished. Not submitting to that decision, the prisoner directed 
them to be beaten, which was done with fists, stones, and the handles of 
umbrellas. Found guilty, the Hon'ble the Recorder sentenced him to 
imprisonment for six months and to a fine of 200 dollars." 

" The Court House during that trial was crowded by a number of the 
leading men of the society, who, at the close of it, manifested great satis- 
faction at the penalty ; some even were heard to say that the penalty 
being levied by a collection, the same would come to one cent a head, 
there being 20,000 members of the society in the Island. It ought to 
be noticed that each person on entering the society pays two dollars 
entrance fee, has not to pay any monthly contribution, but is bound to 
pay any sum when called upon by the Kmigsi. It is of common occur- 
rence to see the hoe raising sums .of 500, 1,000, and 2,000 dollars in a 
few days, and it can easily be ascertained, the Police Authorities being 
acquainted with the fact, that 20,000 dollars were raised in 8 days on 
account of the disturbances at the burial of the late chief of the society, 
besides the burial expenses, which amounted to nearly 5,000 dollars." 

The firm of Hinnekindt Freres was established in this year by 
Eagene and Henri Hinnekindt. In 1854 Mr. L. Cateaux joined, and it 
wai styled Hinnekindt Freres & L. Cateaux. 


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538 Anecdotal History of Singapore. 

In the Singapore Directory for this year were the names of the 
oflScers of the Slst Regiment Madras Native Infantry, which had 
arrived in Singapore on the 28th April, 1849. The name of thtr 
youngest lieutenant, of whom there were ten, was William Dalrymplt? 
Maclagan, who had been stationed at Malacca, where he was still 
remembered by those alive there only a few years ago, but had jat: 
gone home on two years' leave to Europe. His father was a dis- 
tinguished military oflScer. The Archbishop was born in E!dinburgli 
in 1826. He left the army, and graduated at St. Peter's College, 
Cambridge, in 1856, and entered the Church, being first curate at 
St. Saviour's, Paddington, and in 1875 Vicar of St. Mary Abbots, 
Kensington, then he was Bishop of Lichfield, in 1878, and in 1891 
Archbishop of York. He still speaks of his pleasant recollections of 
the Straits. It is remembered in Malacca that the Archbishop wrote 
some music which was played there, and it may interest the choir 
of St. Andrew's Cathedral to know that he is the composer of nui 
less than five of the tunes in Hymns Ancient and Modern, Ko^. 
280, 318, 445, 454, and 269 ; and is also the author of the word> 
of four others, iNos. 116, 122, 425, and 428, *'The Saint^s of God! 
their conflict past" which Sir John Stainer's beautiful tune has 
helped to make so well known. The Archbishop crowned Queen 
Alexandra in Westminster Abbey on August 9th, 1902. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

1S61. 6Sd 


ON the 1st January, it was advertised that Mr. W. W. Shaw 
and Mr. Joseph Wise were admitted partners in the firm of 
Boustead & Co. Mr. Boustead went to England and [never returned 
to Singapore. 

In January the Bishop of Calcutta with Archdeacon Pratt visited- 
the Straits and went on to Sarawak to consecrate the Church that 
had been built there. The Sunday morning when the Bishop preached 
in the old St. Andrew's Church, there was a regular downpour, 
and the rain made such a noise on the roof that his voice could not 
be heard, and complaints were already made about the building, 
which leaked so short a time after it had been erected. It may be 
worthy of note as a custom that has long ceased, that the paper 
said that the Bishop landed " under the accustomed salute due to 
his rank. " 

In a short manuscript note made by Mr. Braddell of a despatch 
by the Court of Directors on 15bh January, it says that they had 
laid down, in concurrence with the Governor General, that the Indian 
Coasts could not be defended against a European enemy and even 
in salient points must depend as heretofore, and that hopefully, on 
the fleet. It was a sufficient object to defend against privateering 
and petty attacks in the absence of men-of-war; and approved of 
the suggestion that two Batteries of four heavy guns each (with 
one if necessary for Back Bay [?], would do for Singapore, and 
a few heavy guns be substituted for those now in position at Penang 
and Malacca. 

The Free Press contained, in January, the following paragraph 
about the rainfall : — " The continued heavy rains, which fell last 
Sunday and Monday in torrents, caused the Brass Bassa Canal and 
the Rochore River to overflow their beds; the mass of water, being 
met by the rising tide, found no outlet, and reached a height un- 
precedented in men's memory at this Settlement. At the bridge at 
the Buffalo Village the water stood, for about three hours, 15 inches 
higher than at the inundation during last year. Considerable damage 
was done to public and private property, but the poor inhabitants 
are of course the greatest sufferers. The seawall along the Esplanade 
tumbled down into the sea for a length of about 80 feet, and at 
three other places the wall is in a most precarious state and threatens 
to tumble down; the whole will have to be rebuilt. A portion 
of the western wall surrounding the Pauper Hospital has also come 
to the ground, the foundation having been undermined, and giving 
way to the current of the water from the Brass Bassa Canal. 
In High Street the wall surrounding a^ gentletnan's compound was 


ized by Google 

&40 Anecdotal History of Singapore. 

washed away. The roads are horribly cut up, all the soft parts 
are washed away, and the bare rocks appearing on the surface make 
them at some places nearly impassable. Bencoolen Street and Middle 
Road are in a sad predicament from these causes, a great number oi 
native houses are destroyed, rice and vegetables were found on the 
public roads, having been washed and deposited there by the water of 
the currents. Large pieces of timber, cocoa-nuts, dead pigs, Ac, were 
floating in our streets, and a number of policemen and convicts had 
enough to do next morning to remove all the obstacles which obstmcted 
the thoroughfares.^' 

On Monday, the 20th January, Mr. Thomas Dunman received his 
final appointment as Superintendent of Police for Singapore, which the 
paper remarked was a very tardy act of justice, which had been re- 
peatedly demanded by the majority of the community. There were 
four European Constables in the Police Force at that time, nsmely, 
McDonald, with a monthly salary of $55 ; Shea, $50 ; Hale, $45 ; and 
Berthier, $40 ; which were considered by the Municipal Committee to 
be liberal salaries. A Mr. Hammond, of the Bengal Civil Service, wa^ 
appointed in January to be Assistant Resident and Superintendent of 
Police and Police Magistrate. He seems to have been a curioas 
example of the administration of injustice, and there were frequent 
allusions to him and his doings in the newspapers. He was removed 
after he had carried on his eccentricities for about a year and 
eventually took orders in the Church in England ! The paper, after a 
lengthy comment upon some of his acts, concluded on one occasion 
as follows : — 

'* Now all this is very improper, not to say dangerous. Freaks and 
eccentricities which, exercised on another stage, would only be simply 
amusing, assume a very difEerent aspect when perpetrated on the magis- 
terial bench, and when the consequence is the illegal restraint of per- 
sons. The administration of justice is brought into contempt, and the 
fublic is the sufferer from the incompetence or folly of the Magistrate. 
t is high time that the Government should take the matter into it-s 
most earnest consideration. The interests of the community are in- 
volved in a most serious manner. All charges of crime and mis- 
demeanour must come before the Magistrate in the first instance, and 
with him rests the duty of preparing cases for trial in the higher 
Court. No excellence in this higher Court will insure an efiicient ad- 
ministration of justice, if the person with whom rests the preliminary 
arrangement and preparation of the evidence is ignorant of his duty 
or neglects it. The sitting Magistrate is, besides, invested with ex- 
tensive summary jurisdiction, and for the proper exercise of it requires 
a sound judgment, competent knowledge of the law of evidence, and 
an acquaintance with the character of the population. 

" Few, if any, of the persons who have filled the Magisterial o£Bce 
for some years past, have been at all qualified for the situation. They 
have been utterly wanting in the requisite knowledge, training and ex- 
perience. They have been appointed because the office, or its emolu- 
ments, was convenient to them, not because they were suited for 
the office. Military officers, innocent of any knowledge cf law, have 
been promoted to the bench^ as if^ from sitting in the seat of their 

Digitized by VjOOQI^ 

1851. 541 

predecessor, thej could by some mesmeric process be imbued with 
t^he requisite skill for discharging their duties. Yoang Bengnl civi- 
lians have been turned loose upon the community, to work their will 
and play such antics as they chose, and wild work some of them 
have made of it. It is time this haphazard mode of filling the 
Magisterial chair should cease. The interests of the community are 
too much jeopardised by it, and experience has shewn its utter un- 
fitness and danger.'* 

The following amusing example of one of his proceedings wa« 
sent to the Free Press by one of the parties aggrieved : — " On 
Wednesday, a Chinaman was observed by two c»f Mr. Bernard's ser- 
vants running out of the front entrance of Mr. Bernard's liouse. 
They immediately pursued him and caught him at the compound gate. 
The thief was given in chartjfe to a peon, and taken to the Than- 
nah at Buffalo Village The following day, 1st instant, Mr. Ber- 
nard attended the Police Office with the two servants who had ap- 
prehended the man. Mr. Hammond, the Sitting Magistrate, was on 
the Bench alone. The case was entered into, and the following were 
the facts sworn to : — The two servants deposed that they saw the 
prisoner running out from the front staircase of Mr. Bernard's house ; 
that they caught him at the gate, and that they never lost sight 
of him. The peon deposed that the prisoner was the man given into 
his charge, that he was taken to the Buffalo Village Thannah, and 
on searching him there, a silver watch was found secreted in his 
baju. The silver watch was produced, was sworn to as being the 
one found on the prisoner, and identified by Mr. Bernard as be- 
longing to him. Of course, it might naturally be concluded, that 
after such evidence, the Magistrate could have done nothing else 
than commit the prisoner for trial at next sessions \ more especially 
as Mr. Hammond had been made acquainted with the fact of the 
prisoner being a notorious thief, and that he still bore the marks 
of his hist whipping all over his back. Still more than this, the 
prisoner had not a word to say for himself, not even a question to 
put to any of the witnesses. Mr Hammond, however, in the excess 
of his Magisterial acuteness had discovered a mare's nest ; was pleased 
to say that there were great discrepancies in the evidence and there- 
fore would discharge the prisoner, who accordingly was discharged ! 
You may well conceive the astonishment of the whole court at the 
above decision, worthy indeed of a Squire Western, but most cer- 
tainly unexpected in a Magistrate of the H. E. I. Company. Sur- 
prised as all those in court were, certainly the most astonished per- 
son was the prisoner, who required to be told a second time, be- 
fore he would believe that he was discharged; then, not waiting to 
receive the congratulations of his friends, he immediately disappeared, 
and made himself so scarce that when a peon was sent to observe 
which way he went, the innocent and injured man was nowhere to 
be seen. As a climax to the absurdity of the proceedings, 
Mr. Hammond returned the property to Mr. Bernard ! How 
he could reconcile that with the discharge of the prisoner, I leave 
wiser heads than mine to determine. Mr. Bernard, I am told, on 
leaving the Police Office waited on Mr. Church, the Resident Coun- 


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54g Anecdotal History of Singapore * 

cillor, related to him the circumstance, and received a promise that 
he would enquire into the case and do whatever was in his power 
to remedy it. Now, when a man holding such a responsible posi- 
tion, commits an injury to the community by acting in the manner 
described, it becomes a public duty to expose him, and to teach him 
that his being clad with a " little brief authority'^ does not license 
him to act in such a way. Since the foregoing was written, the 
Chinaman has again been apprehended by virtue of a warrant, and 
on Tuesday last was brought before the Sitting Magistrate when he 
was committed for trial at next sessions, on the very same evidence 
that at his first examination had been deemed insufficient.^' 

On the 7th February, by the P. & 0. Mail s.s. Pekin, Sir 
James Brooke, k.c.b., returned to Europe, and among the passengers 
was Mr. W. W. Ker who had been (the Free Prnss said) a resi- 
dent in Singapore for twenty-two years, and finally retired with a 
handsome competency and the best wishes of his numerous friends. 

There was an epidemic of cholera in Sinsrapore and the neigh- 
bouring Dutch ports at this time, which lasted for three or four 
months; the deaths in Singapore from this cause were supposed to 
approximate two or three hundred, almost all confined to Malays 
and Chinese. No records were kept in those days of any burials, 
so it was almost purely conjectural. 

The Grand Jury, in their presentment in February (C. Carnie, 
Foreman), made the following complaint: — ^^The Grand Jurors again 
present those injurious Chinese Secret Societies. They do not deem 
it necessary to dwell at length upon the pernicious influence of these 
bodies, the cases that have been brought before the Court this 
Session, the depositions taken before the Grand Jury which are now 
handed to your Lordship, the well-known dread Chinese of all 
classes entertain of the power of these Societies, the illegal acts 
that have been lately perpetrated all over the island by these people, 
numerous bangsals belonging to Chinese Christians having been des- 
troyed, exhibiting a most dangerous combination against public 
security and peace; and the more recent outrageous attack upon 
the police in the vicinity of Bukit Timah, must place this 
important subject in so strong a light before you, that in recom- 
mending that the most stringent means should be adopted to put 
a stop to such a nefarious system for once and for ever, the 
Grand Jurors feel confident that they but re-echo the sentiments 
of your Lordship and propose that which you have already deter- 
mined to carry out.'' 

The interior of the island had been in a most disturbed state, 
owing to an active persecution having broken out against the Chinese 
converts to the Roman Catholic Church, who were scattered over 
the island as planters, and whose numbers were steadily increasing. 
A very slight pretence was laid hold of for putting in practice a 

Seneral sacking and pillaging of the plantations belonging to the 
hristian Chinese and for carrying off individuals and holding them 
to ransom in large sums. These proceedings were generally ascribed 
to the influence, more or less openly exerted, of the Tan Tae Hoe, 
and probably of the other Secret Societies, from whose ranks the 


ized by Google 

1851. 545 

Christian converts were withdrawn, and whose power and influence 
were of course diminished in proportion to the success of the Ro- 
man Catholic Missionaries. Besides withdrawing members from these 
Secret Societies, the conversion - of the Chinese in the interior had 
the effect of placing everywhere throughout the island, men who 
were subject to influences adverse to the interests of the Societies, who 
were thus deprived of that complete immunity from surveillance which 
constituted one of the sources of their power. With these Chinese 
converts disseminated throughout the island, the Ho^s could no longer 
hold their meetings, or execute sentence on refractory or defaulting 
members with the same security which they had enjoyed when there 
was no check upon their proceedings. This led to a general attack 
upon the Christian Chinese thoughout the island. 

The paper contained the following accounts, among many others, 
of the proceedings of the Societies: — ''Everywhere, at Serangoon, 
Bukit Tiraah, Bookoh Khan, Lauw Choo-khan, Nam Tokang, Chan 
Chwee-kang, even at Kranji, Propo, and Benoi, the bangeals and 
plantations of the Christians have been- attacked by sets of 20 to 50 
men, who rob all the property and destroy what they cannot carry 
away. The Christians came to town from all parts of the country 
as to a place of refuge, and people yesterday in flourishing circum- 
stances are to-day reduced to the greatest misery. No less than 
twenty-seven plantations have been attacked within the last week; 
and the list of planters ruined last Sunday, proves there exists a 
conspiracy throughout the whole island, following the directions of 
one set of headmen. 

"The authorities, although only at the eleventh hour, after the 
devastation of so many plantations and the ruin of hundreds of 
industrious and quiet people, have taken some measures, which, it 
is hoped, will keep the robbers in check ; the police force at Bukit 
Timah has been reinforced with ten policemen, twelve men taken 
from the crew of the gunboat are directed to patrol the country in 
every direction under the guidance of the youngest constable. The 
gun-boat is stationed in the Old Straits to intercept all property 
which the criminals might try to transport to the coast of Johore, 
and a reward of $25 for the apprehension of every robber has been 
promised by the authorities. I must however notice, that the Revd. 
Mr. Issaly who had gone to Sungei Benoi to attend a sick Christian 
woman, the wife of a Christian planter, being informed that a band 
of heathen Chinese intended to attack him, took refuge in the 
jangle, where he remained for 24 hours, and finally escaped on 
reaching the coast, where he met a boatman who, for the exorbitant 
sam of $8, carried him to town. It has been ascertained that 
daring Mr. Issaly's concealment the plantation was attacked and 
robbed of all that was on it. 

"The force of police and crew of the gunboat Charlotte under 
ilr. Henry Kraal [afterwards in 1886, one of the Bailiffs of the 
•Sapreme Court] went to execute half a dozen warrants issued on 
the application of as many Christian planters, who had been robbed 
of all their property. After securing some prisoners and stolen 
goods in the village at Sungei Kranji, alias Bookoo Khan, they. 


ized by Google 

544 Anecdotal History of Singapore. 

were returning to their station with the prisoners and goods^ , w^hen 
at a short distance from the village, being on the high road, they 
suddenly heard the Chinese alarm signals sounded with horns, tom- 
toms, and the firing of crackers; and in less than 5 minutes a 
crowd of Chinese, armed with swords, lances, forks, knives, headed 
by 8 or 10 leaders furnished with the well-known rattan shields (if 
new and well made impenetrable to a musket ball) commenced a 
most decided attack for the rescue of the prisoners. A few moments 
afterwards another party of about 50 Chinese, armed in the 
same way, but also provided with a few matchlocks and muskets 
barred the highroad. The Constable in the van, and Mr. Kraal in 
the rear, cautioned the rioters against any violence in the manner 
prescribed by law ; this producing no effect, Mr. Kraal caused a few 
shots to be fired over the heads of the men approaching from the rear, 
which, however, produced no other result than to encourage them to 
advance faster. The Constable in the van, having to contend with a 
smaller force, picked out four men, and made a rush against the 
people who fronted him, and dispersed them, and they ran right and left 
into the jungle. They joined however, the party attacking the rear 
and came with a rush against the police, firing a few shots. 

" A volley was then fired amongst them, which caused them to 
advance with more caution, and allowed the officers to continue their 
route j but repeated attacks, which required continual repulses, caused 
the march to be very slow. The rioters were most determined, and 
the firing lasted during an advance of more than two miles. Finally 
the death of three of their leaders, who fell at a distance of about 
20 feet from the police force, stopped them, and the officers were 
able to reach their station with their prisoners and the goods. All 
the ammunition except a few cartridges had been expended. It has 
since been ascertained that five of the attacking Chinese were killed 
and a great number wounded. 

" The authorities on being informed of these facts sent the gun- 
ner of the steamer '^ Hoogly" with twelve men of its crew to re- 
inforce the police, and the crew of the gunboat and thirty convicts 
were directed to join this force, but by some misunderstandinsjr only 
^ seven of the last reached the station in the early moriiinsif of Sun- 
day. The force consisting now of 33 men, of whom 28 were armed 
with muskets, it was resolved to make a round to the sea to look 
after the gunboat, which was left with only 7 or 8 men in the Old 
Straits, to exchange some of the men and to take provisions and 
ammunition. The detachment, leaving a small reserve at the station, 
traversed in silence the distance of 7 miles during the night, and 
arrived a little after sunrise at the Old Straits, without meeting any- 
thing ; but returning home, and approaching the village, the road 
was again found barred by a numerous band of Chinese, while the 
signals of alarm were again heard. Necessity again compelled the 
police to fire into these dupes of the Hoe, after all peaceful means 
to disperse them had been unsuccessful. They rushed on and were 
rewarded by the death of two of their number, and the wounding 
of some others, which caused them to disperse after carrying away 
their dead and wounded. 


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1851. 545 

'' On Monday evening the full complement of the convicts having 
come up, a detachment of fifty Sepoys headed by a European Offi- 
cer, Lieutenant Wilson, also arrived. On Tuesday the police force, 
reinforced by Constable Hale and some peons, and followed by the 
military, departed to execute twenty-two warrants issued at the in- 
stance of the Catholic owners of as many plantations which had been 
pillaged. The force arrived at 4 o'clock in the morning at Kranji 
Village, without having been observed. Halting there for a few 
minutes, the light of a dammar carried by one of three armed Chi- 
nese was seen to descend a hill. The gi^eatest silence was preserved 
until they were at a few yards distance, but still on the steep de- 
clivity of the hill; there they discovered the force, threw their light 
siway and disappeared. At the same moment a shot was fired by a 
concealed rioter, and the noise and cries of a multitude of people 
from every direction, saluted the discovery of the police party, which 
succeeded in surprising a great number of "bangsals," in some of 
wliich robbers were identified and some stolen property recovered. 
It being however now about ten o'clock a.m., and alarm being 
everywhere given, the force returned by two different paths ; the 
Sepoys took a short one to reach the high road, while the police 
returned by a circuitous route, in order to surprise and disperse the 
Chinese concealed amongst the bushes and jungle opposite the vil- 
lage of Kranji on the east side of the road. The Sepoys arriving 
first on the spot, halted, tuul were saluted by the customary 
Chinese alarm signals. The })olice coming a little later from the 
east, H number of about two hundred Chinese were surprised and 
dispersed without a shot being fired, decamping like hares chased 
by hounds. Here the Sepoys departed, there being no more than 
two bautjMahtj situated at the other side of the river and village, to 
inspect. Leaving a guard for the prisoners, Constable Hale, Mr. 
Kraal, and the special constable passed the village, which was for 
the greatest part deserted, but passing the bridge a great number 
i)f Chinese appeared on the different hills in a threatening manner, 
and two shots were fired by them at the party, by whom a volley 
was fired in return, and a chase commenced, to secure some of them 
and the white flag carried by them. Four men were shot by the 
volley, amongst whom was jin old man, the guardian of the Chinese 
brick temple, who certainly had no lawful business in the centre 
of a crowd of such vagabonds, whose number is differently given up 
by the European officers, according to the different sections of the 
hills on which they were acting; for Mr. Kraal calculated the number 
to whom he was opposed, to amount to about fifty, while Constable 
Hale could discern on his side about eighty or ninety, and the 
special from his position, about one hundred and twenty or one 
hundred and fifty. 

" A Christian planter named Tan Ah Choon, who had been in- 
formed that his plantation was to be attacked and robbed, took all 
the money he could collect, amounting to more than J80, and two 
piculs white pepper, and departed for the town with two or three 
coolies, but was stopped near Amokiah by some Chinese, who seized 
^nd carried him into the jungle with the decided intention to mur- 


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546 Anecdotal History of Singapore, 

der him after having robbed hi in. The coolies escaped and reported 
the fact ; on which Mr. Dunman with a small number of peons 
went himself in search. On the road a man informed him that Tan 
Ah Choon had been carried to Loh Siah's plantation. The chase 
was continued, some bangsals were passed, where Chinese were gam- 
bling to their heart's content ; and Mr. Dunman finally succeeded in 
delivering Tan Ah Choon, who was in the custody of three of his 
captors in Loh Siah's premises, who himself was secured. The other 
criminals escaped, having been informed by the calls and cries of the 
nearest neighbours of the approach of the Police. Here is a most visible 
proof of the effects of the power of the Hoe. A man is kidnapped, 
carried through some crowds of Chinese, without any person interfering 
to prevent the crime, and these same men save the criminals by their 
calls and signals. Tan Ah Choon's plantation has since been robbed of 
nearly all its contents." 

In April, a subscription was made for the purpose of making a 
steel engraving of the painted likeness of the late Mr. A. L. Johnston, 
of which there are now copies in the Library, and in several of the 
mercantile offices. 

On the 22nd April, a meeting was held to establish a Sailors' Home, 
and a Committee appointed composed of Mr. James Guthrie, Captain J. 
S. Sparkes of the P. & O. Company, Mr. John Harvey, and Mr. W. 
H. Kead as Honorary Secretary. It was proposed that a fancy dress 
ball should be given in aid of the funds, and it took place on the loth 
May in the Assembly Kooms, single tickets were ?5, and family tickets 

A new flag-staff was put up on Mount Faber in May., and 
within a month it was struck by lightning and destroyed ; it hap- 
pened before daybreak, before the signal-men had come to work. 
The mast was split into pieces and fragments of it were thrown to 
a considerable distance. 

On the 17th April, Mr. H. C. Rantenberg, the senior of the 
two partners in Rautenberg, Schmidt & Co., and Mr. Hurtlaub, the 
junior assistant employed in Behn, Meyer & Co.'s, left Singapore with 
two other gentlemen for Rhio in a boat belonging to the Tumongong, 
They met with a strong current and a high sea in the Straits, and a 
squall caused the boat to heel over and take in so much water that she 
sank about two miles from the shore. One of the gentlemen clung to 
the mast of the boat and another kept himself afloat by means of a 
cushion and a mat, and were picked up by a fishing boat after being 
several hours in the sea. Mr. Rautenberg and Mr. Hurtlaub were 
drowned. The whole of the Malay crew and a Chinese servant got 
safely to shore. Mr. Frederick 'George Schmidt remained the sole 
partner in the firm until 1858, when Gustav Cramer and Adolph Emil 
Schmidt became partners. 

In one week at that time several tigers were shot by natives in 
the jungle, and Dr. d'Almeida gave a reward of 550 in addition to the 
same amount given by Government. It was stated on good authority 
that in the Serangoon district alone more than thirty persons had been 
killed by tigers within a few weeks. The following account of deaths 
by tigers in the same month is taken from the Free Press :— " While 


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1851. 547 

some Malays were collecting rattans and cutting wood in a piece of 
jungle near Mr. Dunman's plantation at Serangoon, they were alarmed 
by hearing a tiger making his approach through the underwood. They 
immediately commenced a retreat, but had not cleared the jungle 
when the tiger came up with them and singling out the fattest man in 
the party sprang upon him. It had dragged the body some distance 
ere the man^s companions recovered from the fright into which they 
liad been thrown, and pursued him with their parangs, on which the 
tiger dropped the body and retreated. The poor man was found in 
the agonies of death with his throat and face severely lacerated. The 
body was brought away, but the tiger, it would appear, was determined 
to have his meal, for the same night he carried off a Chinaman at 
a short distance from the scene of his morning^s exploit. The China- 
man^s friends on making a search found the body, with one of the legs 
wanting. The tiger is described as being of a large size and remark- 
able for having large white spots, from which it is conjectured that he 
is well advanced in years.^' The same animal killed another man in the 
next week. 

The Rev. H. Moule, who was Chaplain longer than most of those 

who were sent from Calcutta to Singapore, died on 3rd June, 1886, at 

81 years of age. He had left Singapore in 1851. He was Secretary 

to the Raffles Institution and was famous for good speeches at wedding 

breakfasts. He enjoyed his pension for many years and was Rector of 

Road cum Woolverton at the time of his death. He was a good judjje 

of a horse, and it was said that as he would not go to the Races ( as it 

was wrong) he stole a quiet look behind a bush when opportunity 

offered. He was afterwards the originator of the earth closet system 

which was known by his name, and which was extremely remunerative. 

The Municipal Committee, as it was called, consisted in that ye^r 

of Mr. Thos. Church, the Resident Councillor, Captain Henry Man, 

the Superintendent of Convicts and Commissioner of the Court of 

Requests, Mr. Mickie Forbes Davidson of A. L. Johnston & Co., 

and Mr. T. A. Behn of Behn, Meyer <fe Co. The following are parts 

of the Minutes in June : — 

" It having been brought to the notice of the Committee that 
syces and others are in the habit of exercising horses on the reserved 
Plain [the Esplanade] to the serious inconvenience and danger of 
pedestrians, resolved, that a sum equal to a moiety of the cost of 
a chain sufficient to enclose the Plain be authorised, provided the 
Government will undertake to defray the other half, and that in the 
meantime measures be adopted to put an end to the dangerous 
practice alluded to.^' 

" A letter dated the 19th June from Syed Ali Al Junied was 
read, stating that he had viewed with concern the great inconve- 
nience to the public generally, and the suffering of the poorer 
classes in particular, from the want of an adequate supply of good 
and wholesome water during the dry months, and expressing a wish 
to be allowed to sink and construct at his exclusive expense, four 
capacious wells for the use of the community. 

^' The Committee deemed it right to record the high gratification 
they experienced at this mark of spontaneous liberality and benevo- 


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548 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

lence on the part of Syed Ali Al Junied^ which will be the means 
of conferring a boon on the inhabitants of the town and insure 
(with the other wells) an ample supply of good water thoroughout 
the year. It was therefore resolved that Syed Ali's o£fer be accepted 
and a letter of thanks embracing the foregoing remarks written to 
that gentleman. It was also resolved that a transcript of Syed 
Ali's letter to the Committee be sent to his Honour the Governor, 
and that the local authorities be requested to allow the services of 
the Government Surveyor, in communication with Syed Ali Al 
Junied, to be made available in the selection of the most eligible 
sites for the wells." 

One of these wells was that in Selegie Road near the Dhobie 
Green, one at Campong Malacca, one at Campong Pungula Kessang, 
and one at Teluk Ayer. 

The Court at this time was held in the building now attached 
to the Government Printing Office. The paper alluded to the ar- 
rangements as follows : — " Some time ago it was found that the 
existing accommodation for the Court of Judicature at Singapore 
was too limited, and it was therefore resolved to add several rooms 
to the existing Court-room, for the use of the Recorder, the Regis- 
trar and his establishment, &c. The present Court House is a badly 
ventilated room, built on to one end of the Government Public 
Offices, and bounded close on the other side by a private house and 
a ship-builder's yard. This inconvenient site was originally chosen, it is 
presumed, for the accommodation of the executive Officers of Government, 
who also generally officiated as Judges, and who having turned the pro- 
per Court House into public offices, probably still wished to have the Court- 
room under the same roof, that they mijiht pass from their own offices to 
the Bench without having to quit the building. The Registrar's establish- 
ment was in some of the rooms belonging to the public offices, and thus 
had the appearance of being a mere department of the local Government, 
a circumstance which has led to considerable confusion of ideas in the 
minds of both Europeans and natives, nob unattended with objectionable 
results. Of late it has been found very inconvenient that there should be 
no separate accommodation for the Recorder, the Registrar and his 
iistablishment, Juries, &c., and plans were therefore prepared for additional 
buildings estimated to cost some R«7,000. These it was proposed to 
erect in rear of the present Court-room, and although the many dis- 
advantages of the site were pointed out, and it was urged that for a very 
trifling addition to the estimate, a handsome suite of buildings might be 
erected for the use of the judicial establishment, altogether detached from 
the Government Office, the original design has been adhered to. The 
result bids fair to bear out the strong objections which were made, the new 
rooms being ill-ventilated and dungeon-like receptacles, which would be 
more suitable for condemned cells, than apartments for the Recorder and 
the Officers of the Court." 

A public meeting was held on the 22ad September to consider a pro- 
posal of the Government at Bengal to introduce a stamp tax in lieu of the 
Sirl Farm which the Government proposed to abolish. Mr. John Purvis 
was in the chair, and some lengthy resolutions were passed^ to the effect 
that the Settlements paid their own expenses, if the cost of the convicts 


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1851. 549 

and the troops was borne, as it was said it should be, by tlie ludian 
revenue. The following were three of the resolutions carried at the meeting, 
which was very largely attended : — 

*' Proposed by Lewis Eraser, seconded by C. H. Harrison, and carried 
unanimously : — 

3rd, — ^That Singapore was established, and is kept up, for the chief 
purpose of affording an outlet to the manufactures and productions of 
Great Britain and India, and is now yearly acquiring increased value to 
these countries as a naval and steam station. 

Proposed by Gilbert McMicking, and seconded by Hoot Seng : — 

oth. — That although a stamp tax may be a proper source of revenue 
ill other places, this meeting considers that in Singapore it would prove 
burdensome and vexatious, especially to the commerce of the port, because 
the trade, unlike that in England or India, where goods a,re generally sold 
for cash, is here wholly carried on by a system of credit. That from the 
habits and customs of the native traders, who resort here in large numbers, 
the tax would prove especially obnoxious to this class, and would tend 
much to shake their confidence in that freedom from all imposts afEecting 
trade, which they have hitherto been accustomed to meet with at Singa- 
pore, and this meeting therefore earnestly deprecates the imposition of a 
tax which would have such an injurious effect. 

Proposed by William Paterson, seconded by Joaquim d'Almeida, and 
carried unanimously : — 

6th, — ^That excluding the charges for Military and Convicts, there has 
been for many years past an annual surplus of revenue at Singapore 
(amounting according to the Grovernment returns for 1850-51 to 
fi«195,000) and therefore any additional tax in lieu of the B«25,000 
at present derived from the Siri farm is quite uncalled for." 

On the night of Monday the 21st July, the P. & 0. Steamer Erin 
from Calcutta ran into the same Company's steamer Pacha, which had left 
Singapore the afternoon before, o£E Mount Formosa. The Pacha went 
down in a few minutes. The Free Press alluded to the circumstances as 
follows : — 

" The Pacha's masts immediately fell over the side and she went down 
within less than seven minutes after the accident, in about 25 fathoms 
of water. The whole of the passengers, officers and crew were saved, except 
two cabin passengers (Dr. Briscoe and Mr. Hendowin) two Chinese deck 
passengers, the 3rd officer, the Clerk in Charj^e, and ten of the Euro- 
pean crew, who were all drowned The Erin sustained considerable 
damage, and the water rushed in at her bows, but being built with water- 
tight compartments, it was found that only two filled, and as the pumps 
were got to work with the engines, it was found that the water could be 
kept sufficiently under to enable her to reach Singapore. A considerable 
part of the goods in the Erin is of course damaged by salt water and the 
whole are being landed. She has upwards of 1,000 chests of opium for 
China, much of which is damaged. The extent of the injury to the Erin 
has not yet been accurately ascertained, but it will require some days 
before she can be sufficiently repaired to enable her to prosecute her 
J^oyage. The Pacha had on board upwards of $400,000 of specie shipped 
in China, and $30,000 shipped in Singapore, and very little of the latter, 
which belonged chiefly to natives, was insured. Considering the immense 


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550 Anecdotal Bistory of Singapore 

amount of property in the Pacha, and the possibility of Malay divers and 
others endeavouring to remove it clandestinely, we are surprised that a 
vessel of war has not ere this been despatched to the spot. There were 
two steamers lying in the harbour yesterday, one of which surely might 
have been spared. The Leitnitz and the Falze Alluvi which arrived here 
to-day, picked up a quantity of China silk, piece goods, clothes, &c., near 
the scene of the wreck/' 

The damaged opium was sold in Singapore at auction at prices very 
far below its usual value, averaging about $315 a chest, and the purchasers 
here, of whom Thomas 0. Crane & Co., were the largest, realised about a 
hundred per cent, on the speculation when it was sent on for sale in 
China, after having been opened and dried in Singapore. This led to 
much dispute and litigation, the Insurance offices refusing to pay. The 
Erin was repaired and sailed for China on the 9th August. The Calcutta 
and Bombay papers contained numerous proposals to form companies to 
raise the vessel, which was in 25 fathoms of water, for the large amount 
of treasure. 

In 1853, Mr. Levi, a practical engineer of much talent in cases of 
Kunken vessels, and who had often been engaged by the British Govern- 
ment in cases of great difficulty, came out from England with the sanction 
of the underwriters, to try to recover the treasure, and entered into 
an engagement to raise it. He was unsuccessful for a long time. It is said 
that after searching for six months for the Paeha, he first ascertained her 
position from a peculiar quiver of his compasses as he passed over the ship. 
He fixed a buoy to it, and returned to Singapore for his diving gear and 
assistance. When he got back, the buoy had been stolen, and, as he had 
not taken the bearings, lie dragged for four months more before he found 
the place again. The vessel was standing upright in the sand, which was 
nearly up to her bulwarks. A number of skeletons were on the stairs and 
the landing below, as if the passengers had been crowded together in 
trying to ascend. Mr. Lovi began to recover the treasure, but in April, 
1856, while in an open boat goin^f to his schooner the Wizard at anchor 
near the wreck, he had a stroke of the sun, and was forced to return 
to Singapore in an open boat, which took four days. He arrived 
on a Sunday, Jind died in Singjipore on the following Saturday night, 
of congestion of the brain, while those whom he had left working on the 
spot were p^etting up the treasure. The dollars were sent to the Mint at 
Calcutta. The silver had become as black as ebony, and each roll was 
as firmly fixed ?is if it had been a bar, and not separate coins. Treasure 
and bullion to the extent of between sixty and seventy thousand pounds 
were recovered. 

Mr. Thomas Scott, of (xuthrie & Co., (who must not be con- 
fused with a former merchant of Singapore of the same name, 
mentioned in this book, who died at Calcutta at the age of 34 
years on 7th July, 1848,) arrived in Singapore for the first time 
on 7th July, in the British Barque Coaxer, 316 tons, which had sailed 
from Liverpool on 16th February. He is the only passenger men- 
tioned in the Free Press list of arrivals by that vessel. On the next 
day he went to Malacca with his uncle in a schooner, for a trip, 
and after being for a few months in another business, he joined 
Guthrie & Co., as a clerk, and became a partner in that firm in 


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1851. 551 

1 857. He died in Scotland on 28th June, 1902, having been a part- 
ner in the firm for forty-five years. In 1876 he founded the branch 
firm of Scott & Co., London. He was one of the promoters and 
afterwards largely concerned in the affairs of the Tanjong Pagar 
Dock Company. He was one of the first unofficial members of the 
Legislative Council, when it was established in April, 1867, and he 
was Chairman of the Committee of the Chamber of Commerce for 
many years. His portrait given by Chinese subscribers is in the Town 
Hall. Mr. Scott married the elder daughter of Major McNair, who 
survived him, and he left one son and one daughter. 

In September, the barque Fawii of Calcutta arrived here from 
China, on her first voyage, being quite a new ship. She had been 
aground and was hove down at Sandy Point for repairs. A great 
part of her crew of Bengal lascars quitted the ship and refused to 
proceed in her to Calcutta, although they had four months' pay to 
receive on arrival there. When the vessel was ready to proceed on 
her voyage it was necessary to get other men, and twenty-nine 
Singapore Malays were shipped, who were said to be a very superior 
set of men. The shipping master who procured them cautioned Cap- 
tain Rogers as to his treatment of this new crew, warning him that 
Malay and Javanese sailors would not allow themselves to be struck 
like Indian lascars. The ringleader in the tragedy which afterwards 
occurred had sailed as tindal with a Captain sailing out of Singapore, 
who described him as a fine spirited fellow and a good sailor. The 
Fawn sailed on the 28th September, having on board, besides Captain 
Rogers and his first and second mates, four European passengers, Mrs. 
Rogers the Captain's wife, Mrs. Bechem and child, and Elphick a horse- 

On the sixth day of the voyage, about four o'clock in the after- 
noon, the chief mate saw the burra-tindal smoking down the forehatch, 
and found fault with him for so doing, asking him if he wanted to set 
the ship on fire. He then kicked him, got him on the deck and pun- 
ished him with a rope's end in presence of the whole crew, the Cap- 
tain and his wife being on deck and observing what was going on. 
About midnight or a little after, the Serang and two Bengal lascars, 
who were sleeping forward, were aroused by the tindal, who told them 
that the Captain was killed and thrown overboard. It appeared that 
the Captain was asleep on the poop, and was killed without resistance. 
The Serang on being thus roused by the tindal ran into the caboose, 
one of the lascars on to the flying jibboom, and the other to the fore- 
top. One of these lascars said that at daylight he saw the tindal and 
about 16 or 18 of the crew round the second mate, whom they were 
striking with hatchets. He made a most determined stand, but was 
eventually overpowered and killed. The chief mate and Elphick suc- 
ceeded in shutting themselves up in one of the cabins where they de- 
fended themselves, and it is said that from twenty to twenty-four hours 
elapsed from the death of Captain Kogers before the chief mate was 
overpowered. Finding that he had taken refuge in the cabin, the 
crew made an opening in the deck, through which they poked at him 
with oars and other implements and wounded him ; but at last, pro- 
bably imagining that he would soon be overpowered, he jumped out of 


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552 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

the port and was drowned. In what manner Elphick met his death 
the witnesses did not say. Mrs. Rogers, Mrs. Bechem and her child, 
and two or three native women, were then put into one quarter boat, 
the vessel going through the water at the time. Either through the 
falls breaking or from the boat being carelessly lowered^ it was upset, 
and all in it, except the native women who laid hold of the falls, were 
drowned. When Mrs. Bechem was in the water she held up her child, 
and one of the men that was tried, asserted that he threw her an oar, 
for doing which he alleged he was beaten by the tindal. Mrs. Rogens 
sank immediately. 

In the evening the tindal went round to each man asking what 
side he was going to be on, threatening that if he was on the Cap- 
tain's side, the tindal and his people would kill him. In consequence 
of this, apparent unanimity was secured. The ship was scuttled on 
both sides and set on fire, and finally run on shore at Bruas, about 
forty-five miles south of Penang. She grounded in li fathoms and 
about 200 fathoms from the beach. At this time a vessel was in sight 
going down the Straits, which was afterwards known to be the Rajah, 
of Liverpool, which vessel saw the Fawn run ashore and set on fire, 
but, strange to say, the Captain did not try to render any assistance, 
saying in Singapore that he did not think there was anything wrong 
with the vessel. If he had stopped, the unfortunate females, who 
were brutally treated by the crew before they were drowned, might 
have been saved. About nineteen of the crew, including the tindal, 
went on shore, and fourteen took to the long boat, in which they 
reached Singapore, on the 10th October. They anchored at Passir 
Panjang, and two of the Bengal lascars, finding the rest asleep, got 
out of the boat and came on shore. A Malay on board seeing them 
leaving, also joined them, and all three came into the town, where the 
Malay left the lascars, who then went to the Resident Councillor and 
reported what had occurred. The remaining men proceeded to Sandy 
Point where they landed, letting the boat go adrift. The Chinese 
carpenter gave himself up to the Police, and two Cochin Chinese, 
who had turned Mahomedans, and three Javanese, were captured. 
Rewards were offered for the apprehension of those still at liberty, 
and a most vigorous search was made for them. 

Those of the crew who went to Bruas were captured and taken to 
Penang, and seven of the Bengal lascars and two women gave 
themselves up to th^ Police there. The H. C. steamer Hooghly with 
the gun-boat in tow, proceeded to Bruas, and succeeded in capturing 
the persons remaining there, amongst whom were the ringleaders. 
The vessel was found to have been completely destroyed and sunk, 
with only her stem and stern-post visible. Sixteen of the crew were 
tried in Penang before Sir Wm, Jeffcott, the trial lasting two days, 
and the Court sitting till 8-30 and 9 o'clock at night. Four of the 
prisoners, the worst of the men, were hanged, and the rest were sen- 
tenced to transportation for life. It is worthy of remark that the 
whole attack was confined to Malay and Javanese sailors; the Indian 
lascars took no part in it; and it was frequently remarked at the 
time, that while lascar seamen will not face a danger or difficulty, but 
rely more on prayers than any exertions during a storm, the Malays 


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1851. 553 

act well ill any such circumstances, but will resent any blows which 
the lascars will quietly submit to. In the case of the FaivUj it unfor- 
tunately happened that the ill-fated officers had been accustomed to 
Bengal lascars^ and probably had a very imperfect idea of the danger 
to Avhich they subjected themselves by continuing towards their Malay 
crew a treatment which the Bengalees endured without retaliation. 

This is the case which is the subject of a chapter headed '' An 
English ship taken by Malays" at page 293 in Mr. J. T. Thomson's 
" Life in the Far East/' but the name of the ship was not given. 

The following Proclamation was issued in Singapore on 6th September. 
The three settlements were placed directly under the Supreme Govern- 
ment of India instead of under the Presidency of Bengal, constituting, 
practically, a separate presidency like Madras, Bombay and Bengal : — 

Fort Williavi, Home Department, the ht August, 1851. 


Whereas the Hon'ble the Court of Directors of the East India 
Company have by Virtue of the power vested in them by Sec. 21 of 
the Act 6 Geo IV, cap 85, been pleased to declare that the settlements 
of Prince of Wales^ Island, Singapore, and Malacca shall cease to be 
subordinate to the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal, and have 
invested the Governor of the said Settlements with the powers heretofore 
exercised therein by the Government of the Presidency of Bengal, subject 
to the control of the Government of India, it is hereby notified for general 
information that from and after the first day of September next ensuing, 
the Governor of Prince of Wales' Island, Singapore, and Malacca will 
exercise those powers of local administration in regard to those settlements 
which have hitherto been exercised by the Government of Bengal. 

The Free Press in November contained the following paragraph : — 
" During the past week the police have been informed of three men 
having been killed by tigers. It is estimated that at least one man 
is taken daily by tigers in this small island. The Government some 
years ago reduced the reward for killing these animals from $100 to 
850, because they seemed to be then pretty well extirpated; but 
although they have again increased to an alarming and destructive 
extent the Government reward still remains at the minimum. Experience 
has shown that the reward of $50 for each tiger killed is not 
sufficient to tempt natives to devote themselves to tiger hunting in 
Singapore. Government ought therefore to try whether a higher 
reward will not lead to this. If it appeared that rewards of $150 or 
5200 had induced a number of natives to take up the trouble of 
rendering themselves expert in slaying tigers, the amount might then 
be reduced, and it would probably be found that 50 or 100 dollars 
was a sufficient inducement to the hunters to continue their search 
for tigers. At present the loss of life caused by these ferocious 
animals is really shocking, and we must say that it is a disgrace 
to a civilized Government that more urgent measures are not 
adopted to put a stop to it. We are aware that Government has 
caused traps to be constructed, but this is not sufficient, they must 
by the offer of a high reward induce more active means to be taken 
for ridding our jungles of tigers." 


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554 Anecdotal Htstoty of Singapore 

In November, Colonel Butterworth, after being eight years 
Grovernor of the Straits, went to Australia for the benefit of his 
health. A number of addresses were presented to him at the Govern- 
ment House where Fort Canning is now, from the Chamber of 
Commerce, the Consuls, Chinese merchants and others. In replying 
to that from the Chamber of Commerce, the Governor said that he 
owed his warmest acknowledgments to the Chamber for the tei-ms 
in which his administration of the Government had been noticed by 
it, and that it had proved a great satisfaction to him to have such 
a body as the Chamber of Commerce to refer to in matters con- 
nected with the trade of the port, the entire freedom of which it 
had been his earnest endeavour most scrupulously to maintain. 
And among the passages in his reply to the Chinese was the follow- 
ing : — " I take the advantage of this opportunity to notice the 
obligation the Chinese community, and the public generally, are 
under to Seah Bu Chin for his management of the Pauper Hospital, 
which involved great responsibility, pecuniary and otherwise, prior 
to the establishment of the present very efficient Committee, one of 
whose members, my friend Tan Kim Seng, is at the head of this 
deputation. I commend to the special attention and liberal support 
of the Chinese community, the aforesaid institution, founded by Tan 
Tock Seng, whose premature death prevented his endowing it, as he 
had proposed, with funds sufficient for the maintenance of a given 
number of its inmates.'' 

The Tumongong of Johore was absent at the time the Governor 
left, but his sons also presented an address, to which the Governor 
replied expressing his regret at the absence of the Tumongong, and his 
acknowledgment of the ready help he had always received from him 
in the suppression of piracy. Colonel Butterworth left in the Britisli 
baique Penelope, 344 tons, for Adelaide, and returned by the P. & 0. 
steamer vi& Ceylon in November, 1853, having been away for two 
years. Mr. Blundell, the Resident Councillor of Penang, officiated 
during Colonel Butterworth's absence, but remained in Penang, Mr. 
Church, the Resident Councillor, being in charge at Singapore. 

The following is an account of the opening of Kim Seng & Co.'s 
new godowns in Battery Road, which are those that were occupied 
by Hamilton Gray & Co. for many years, later by Stiven & Co. 

" Baba Tan Kim Seng, Justice of the Peace, one of the most 
wealthy and influential of our Chinese merchants, celebrated the 
completion of his new godowns in Battery Road, by entertaining the 
European community and his native friends with a ball and supper. 
The offices which occupy the upper floor of the godowns, were the 
scene of the entertainment, the front room overlooking the river 
being fitted up as a dancing saloon; and so admirably adapted did 
it prove, that we feel sure many of Kim Seng's fair guests regretted 
that so spacious and airy an apartment should ever be put to any 
other use. Dancing commenced soon after 8 o'clock, and was con- 
tinued with great spirit until midnight, when the company sat down 
to an elegant supper at which the host presided, who welcomed his 
guests in a short but expressive speech which elicited thunders of 
applause from his audience. Kim Seng's health was proposed by 


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1851. 555 

Mr. Thomas Church in appropriate terms and drunk with the greatest 
enthusiasm bj his guests. Dancing was renewed after supper, and 
kept up until the small hours. So perfect were all the arrangements 
of this truly elegant entertainment, that it will not easily be for- 
gotten by those who were present. The band, consisting of more 
than twenty performers, was brought from Malacca expressly for the 
occasion. Nor were the native friends of the host forgotten, some 
of the side rooms being laid out with tables of refreshments suited 
to their varied tastes, but they seemed to be chiefly occupied in 
gazing on the lively scene that was passing before them. The variety 
of costumes among the spectators added much to the striking appearance 
of this truly cosmopolitan assemblage." 

In the 5th volume of Logan's Journal, published in this year, 
there is at page 254 a most curious and amusing description of 
the Durian fruit, there spelt Duryoen, translated from Linschottens's 

Mr. Jonas Daniel Vaughan settled down in Singapore and the 
Straits in this year. He had first passed through Singapore in 
January, 1842, when he was a midshipman in the East India Com- 
pany's Steam Frigate Tenasserim on her wjiy to China. He was en- 
gaged in all the naval actions to the end of the first China War, 
and the frigate then carried the despatches of Sir Henry Pottinger 
to the Governor General of India at Calcutta, announcing the peace 
concluded at Pekin at the end of that year. Mr. Vaughan then 
served on the Straits station as an officer of the Company's armed 
steamer the Phlegethon from September 1845 to the end of 1846. 
He was at the capture of the city of Brunei, and the destruction of 
the forts and strongholds of the Lanun pirates in several rivers on 
the north-west coast of Borneo, under Captain Rodney Mundy, after- 
wards Admiral, who mentions Mr. Vaughan in his book. He after- 
wards became Chief Officer of the Company ^s war steamer Nemesis, 
the "Fighting Nemesis'' as she was called. 

In 1851, when at Canton, he was offered by Colonial Butter- 
worth, the Governor of Singapore, the appointment of 1st Officer of 
the Hooghly; afterwards he was Superintendent of Police at Penang, 
and he held it until June 1856. Then he was removed to Singa- 
pore as Master Attendant. From 1861 to 1869 he was Magistrate of 
Police and Assistant Resident Councillor, and in September of that year 
he retired from the service and practiced as an Advocate and Soli- 
citor of the Supreme Court. During his absence on leave in Eng- 
land, he had, in June, 1869, become a barrister of the Middle Temple. 
For a short time he was acting as one of the Puisne Judges of the 
'Supreme Court at Singapore. 

The cause of Colonel Butter worth having sent to offer Mr. 
Vaughan the post in Penang was greatly to his credit. When 
passing through Singapore in 1842, he liked the place and set to 
work to learn Malay, which he afterwards knew very well and could 
read and write fluently. Colonel Butterworth came across him at 
Government house, and learned that the young man wished to come 
to the Straits ; and seeing his knowledge of Malay, offered him the 
appointment, when- he had the opportunity to help him. 


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556 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Mr. Vaughan was a man of considerable ability. He wrote a 
good deal of useful matter in the newspapers in former days, and 
occasionally acted as editor for a time when others were absent, and 
with an unselfish object, for newspapers in those days did not allow 
of any pecuniary return. He wrote a very long and interesting 
paper on the Malays of Penang and Province Wellesley in Logan's 
Journal for 1857, at page 115. He also wrote a work on the 
manners and customs of the Chinese of the Straits Settlement. 
He was a good singer and musician, and a capital amateur actor, 
indeed he had remarkable ability in that direction. One anecdote 
may be told of this. 

In December, 1866, when the comnmnity was much smaller than 
it is now, and the English and Germans mixed together a great deal 
in social life (though the Germans had their own Club and the 
English had the Tanglin Club as at present) the Germans had ar- 
ranged to play a comic travesty of one of the old operas, and some 
English were to play a farce to fill up the programme in the Town 
Hall. It was for Tan Took Seng's hospital. The morning before it 
was to take place, the Manager of the Chartered Bank, who then joined 
in A^mateur Theatricals, went round to a clerk in the oldest 
mercantile house in the place, and told him that there had been 
a hitch about the farce, which the English had promised to play, so 
the Germans were dropped into a hole. This was to be avoided at 
any cost. After a hurried talk, the two went off to the Police 
Court and saw Mr. Vaughan, who said he knew of a farce for 
four people; two men, a lady, and a servant girl. In those days 
ladies never appeared on the stage, and it would doubtless surprise 
those of the present day to see how readily and successfully the 
female characters were played by young men. Costume and paint 
go a long way, if they can only remember to take short steps. 
Mr. Vaughan said he had to play an old London cabman, which it 
was clear would be very funny in any case. A fourth amateur 
was found in the Accountant of the Mercantile Bank. Mr. Vaughan 
sent to the house to ask his wife to send down the little book, and 
by eight o'clock all had roughly copied their parts. Farces in those 
days lasted about 25 minutes, just long enough to make people want 
to laugh more ; and were not spun out, as they are now, for two 
hours or more, on no more material than then sufiiced for the 

There was a rehearsal at Mr. Vaughan's house at 8 p.m, 
another the next morning early, and again at tiffin time in the 
Square in the tiffin room in the Bank, and lastly on the stage at 
5 p.m.; and it was played with very great success that night. 
Mr. Vaughan had a very long, large, white beard which he tucked 
into a buttoned up great coat and put a great woollen comforter 
round his neck. The husband's dress was only ordinary clothes and 
false whiskers, and the two female costumes were easily fixed up 
with the help of two ladies, as amateur theatricals were common in 
those days. At the rehearsal it was found that there was a difficulty 
because the lady of the house (Chartered Bank) had to change her 
dress, and he declared it was impossible to do it in the time 


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1851. 557 

ulioi^ed in the dialogue. Mr. Vaughan said he need not hurry be- 
cause there was some luncheon on the table in the piece, and there 
could be something real to eat, and he and the servant girl could 
easily fill up the time. Accordingly they sat down in the absence 
of the mistress, not far from the footlights, and their gravity was 
much upset by hearing a remark by Governor Cavenagh, who was 
sitting in front, that the servant girl would get very drunk on the 
sherry; for it was well known that the individual in girPs clothes 
never drank anything but water, and does not to this day. The 
bottle had been filled up with tea and water to the required colour. 
The paper the next day said that the success of the little piece 
WHS not alone due to the skill displayed by each actor, but also to the 
%vay in which they acted together; that the costumes were particularly 
jrood on the female side; and the farce was a great success. It was 
}i case of four rehearsals, and thirty hours notice, and it may be 
taken as a suggestion that rehearsing for weeks and months, as is done 
at the present day by amateurs in Singapore, till every one is sick 
and tired of the whole thing, may be no advantage. 

Mr. Vaughan died at sea, when on his way back to Singapore 
in a small steamer from a trip to the Native States, on 17th October, 
1891. He was missed in the morning, and it was supposed that he 
had been standing during the night at the side of the vessel and 
had slipped and fallen overboard. He had always taken a great 
deal of interest in the place and its affairs, and had spared him- 
self no trouble in assisting in public matters, and his unfortunate 
and sudden death was very much regretted in the place. 

There have been several sensational trials in Singapore, but that which 
caused a greater excitement than any, before or since, was a murder trial 
in February in this year. The prisoner's name was Hajee Saffer Ally ; he 
was the Malay and Tamil Interpreter in the Police Court, and a man of 
great importance among his own class and beyond it. Inchi Abdullah 
wrote, and Mr. Keasberry printed, a book in Malay, containing all the story 
of the murder, with a very good portrait of Saffer Ally in the dock as a 
frontispiece, but it is not obtainable now. The facts, which were very 
carious, and the means of discovery, which were very romantic, were brieflj' 
as follows : — In September, 1850, a little Arab (slave) boy of twelve years of 
age, in Saffer Ally's employ, was found by a policeman in the road shock- 
ingly maimed, burned with hot irons, and wounded. He said he had been 
ill-treated by Saffer Ally and others, and had escaped. The boy was sent 
to the hospital, and by means (as was said afterwards) of a false uniform 
and a false letter, the boy was taken away from the hospital, after Saffer 
Ally and his eldest son, and four others, had been committed for trial. 
When the Assizes came round in October, the boy was not to be found, and 
Sir William Jeffcott, the Recorder, who seems to have had a suspicion of 
foul play, said that it was a most horrible case, and that the utmost en- 
deavours must be made to find the boy ; he refused to hear the case in his 
absence ; and the prisoners were committed to goal, in default of finding 
heavy bail. 

Saffer Ally, however, did get bail, and was at large on a certain 
evening, which fact was proved at the subsequent trial for murder, with 
some difficulty, as it was Saffer Ally's principal line of defence. However, 


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558 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

it was at last proved be3'ond a doubt. Mr. Thomas ])uninan, the head of 
the police, found that the boy had been taken in a sampan to Rhio, but 
brought back again, Jind then all trace of him was lost. A man who lived 
in a native house, only separated from the next one by a partition, heard 
a Kling man in the adjoining house, talking in his sleep, crying out that he ' 
had killed a boy. The listener weni and gave information, and the Police 
iearnt that the boy was likely to be found somewhere up the Singapore 
Iliver. For two days the police rowed up and down, and at last observed 
a bad smell issuing from bubble.^ in the water which burst on reaching th«» 
surface. A. peon dived down and eventually the whole body of the boy 
was found, with the head nearly cut off, the feet tied together, one rope 
round the neck, and another round the waist, made up into a kind of net- 
work, held down by a large stone. Then they found the boat, which 
Saffer Ally had borrowed (to carry some firewood, as he said) with all the 
boards blood-stained, close to his house on the river. 

Dr. Oxley proved that the body was that of the boy who had been 
injured ; Mr. A. J. Kerr the Registrar of the Court, Mr. R. C. Woods, Mr. 
Thomas Dunman, and many others, were witnesses at the trial, which wa.« 
held before Colonel Butterworth, the Governor, Sir W. Jeffcott, the 
Recorder, and Mr. Church, Resident Councillor, in the building which is 
now behind the Government Printing Office. Mr. William Graham Kerr, 
book keeper to Martin Dyce & Co., was foreman of the Jury. The excite- 
ment was greater than had ever been known here, and although it rained 
heavily all day, an enormous crowd was congregated outside the doors all 
the time of the trial, which commenced at 9 a.m., and finished after nine 
o'clock at night ; the prisoners charged being convicted. One of those 
concerned in the murder was made Queen's Evidence, and gave a circum- 
stantial account of the murder, which was committed on the night of the 
great Hindoo festival. They were hung exactly a week after the trial, on 
the 21st February, 1851, at the (then new) gaol at the Sepoy Lines. Great 
preparations had been made to give much ceremony to the burial of SafFer 
Ally, but the Government, on Thomas Dunraan's advice, refused to give up 
his body, and he was buried in the gaol, which grievously disappointed his 
friends, who deemed the absence of funeral rights as the heaviest punish- 
ment that could be inflicted. The body was buried secretly in quick- 
lime in the jail, as it was thought an attempt might be made to 
remove it, and the knowledge of the spot died w^ith Mr. Ganno, 
the jailer, many years afterwards. 

Thirty-four years afterwards, Saffer Ally's son, named Akbar Ally, 
followed in his father's steps, as a complete rogue, and was tried in 
September, 1885, for forgery ; and the natives crowded the court inside 
and outside, as on 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 lawyers' 
offices, where such men can do a lot of villainy, as the natives appear to 
trust them more than their masters. It turned out, as the Chief Justice 
said, that it was only one of a whole series of frauds, carried on under the 
cover of his employment, in the most audacious manner. A Kling named 
Aaron Pillay, Tamil Inspector in the Supreme Court, had died about 
twelve years before, leaving a widow and three sons. His mother and his 
widow took out probate of his will. One son was a spendthrift and 
asked the prisoner to borrow money for him. The prisoner asked him 


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1851. 559 

vrhere the mother kept the title-deeds of his father's property, so the son 
a.bstracted them, and a forged conveyance was made by the prisoner, who 
forged the signatures of both tlie women. It was found out because the 
inother had died two years before her signature was forged to the con- 
veyance, but the prisoner had forgotten it ! The case lasted till after dark, 
sind the prisoner was convicted and died in the Jail. 


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560 Anecdotal History of Singapore 



ON the 26th January a public meeting was held in the Singa- 
pore Reading Rooms to consider the necessity of the appoint- 
ment of a resident local Judge in the Settlement. The reasons for 
this were explained in the Free Press as follows : — " From time to time 
for many years past, we have pointed out the serious defects exist- 
ing in the provisions for the administration of justice at this Settle- 
ment, and advocated a remedy being applied, by the appointment of 
a professional Judge for Singapore. The community, we are glad to 
find, have now become fully alive to the evils of the present system, 
and on Monday last at a very numerously attended meeting of the 
inhabitants, called by the Sheriff, the subjoined resolutions on the 
subject were passed. The large fixed population of Singapore, and 
her valuable trade, would of themselves warrant the demand for an 
improved judicial system, but when we consider the very great number 
of persons who resort here temporarily for purposes of trade, and 
the large extent to which the interests of merchants at a distance 
are involved in the commerce of Singapore, the necessity for an 
efficient and expeditious administration of justice, civil and criminal, 
becomes the more apparent. We trust that the representations about 
to be made to the Court of Directors and Board of Control, will 
meet with early and favourable attention, and that such arrange- 
ments will be made as will allow of the appointment of two profes- 
sional Judges in the Straits, thus putting an end to the present 
absurd and anomalous system, which in practice leads to such an 
irregular and imperfect administration of the law. 

Proposed by Joaquim d' Almeida, seconded by John Harvey, and 
carried unanimously : — 

That, considering the population of this island is estimated at 
80,000 inhabitants, of which 60,000 are residents, and that the trade 
aggregates upwards of six millions sterling per annum, it is the 
opinion of this meeting that this Settlement is of sufficient importance 
to warrant an entire revision of the present arrangements for the 
jidministration of justice. 

Proposed by Robert Duff, seconded by Charles Spotbiswoode, and 
carried unanimously : — 

That whilst they record with pleasure their appreciation of the 
zealous ability with which the Resident Councillor has hitherto dis- 
charged his arduous duties as Judge in Civil cases, this meeting 
feel that it cannot be expected that either he or his successors can, 
without detriment to their other important duties, conduct the increas- 
ing business of the Court with that satisfaction to the public which 
they might expect from a professional Judge, 


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1852. 561 

Proposed by Gilbert McMickiiig, .seconded by James H. Adams, 
and carried unanimously : — 

That, though" three criminal sessions in a year, as now proposed, 
may be sufficient to meet the requirements of the resident inhabitants 
of this Settlement, yet, taking into consideration how often the ends 
uf justice are defeated by the departure of prosecutors, whicb it is 
I impossible to prevent, it is the opinion of this meeting that the services 
of a resident Judge are also in that department of Justice im- 
peratively called for. 

Proposed by W. H. Read, seconded by B. C. Woods, and carried 
unanimously : — 

That, for the reasons already mentioned, it is the unanimous 
jpinion of this meeting that the appointment of a resident professional 
Judge for this Settlement is of absolute necessity. 

Proposed by Captain Sparkes, seconded by Wm. Paterson, and 
carried unanimously : — 

That ft Committee consisting of the Chairman, A. Logan, W. H. 
Read, and R. C. Woods, be appointed to embody these resolutions 
in a Memorial to the Hon'ble the Court of Directors and the Board of 

Nothing being done, another public meeting was held on 13th 
April, 1853, and it was decided to send a memorial to the Governor- 
General urging the immediate appointment of a Resident Professional 

The paper contained the following notice of the death of Captain 
Elliot in August : — 

"It is with much regret that wo observe the death of Captain 
Charles Morgan Elliot, of the Madras Engineers, announced in the 
Madras papers. Captain Elliot resided for five years at Singapore 
in charge of the Magnetic Observatory, and subsequently made an 
extensive voyage through the Archipelago for the purpose of continuing 
his observations. The results of his labours were afterwards given to 
the world in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 
which learned body testified their hi^h sense of Captain Elliot's 
'^'ientific character by electing him a Fellow. After residing some 
time in England, superintending the printing of his observations, 
Captain Elliot returned to the East for the purpose of continuing his 
magnetic pursuits and intended in the course of them to re-visit 
Singapore in 1853, for the purpose of revising his former observa- 
tions. We are sure Captain Elliot's premature loss will be lamented 
by a very wide circle of friends, for wherever he went he secured 
to himself the attachment of those with whom he came in contact 
hv his singularly frank and engaging disposition." 

Captain Elliot was a younger brother of Sir Henry Myers Elliot, 
the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India; who came to 
Singapore with Lord Dalhousie as mentioned on page 527. Captain 
Keppel, Mr. W. H. Read, and Captain Elliot were great friends, and 
in his book " A Sailor's Life Under Four Sovereigns '' Admiral Kep- 
pel mentions in volume 1, page 290, speaking of 1843, " visited 
Elliot at the Observatory." This was a building near Captain Elliot's 
house, which stood near the main road on the side of the Kallang 


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562 Anecdotal Hvftory of Singapore 

River, at the comer on the rijj;ht hand side just before crossing the 
long iron bridge on the Ga3'laujjf Road. Part f»f the house is still 
standing, now occupied by the Chinese coolies of a saw mill. The 
observatory was a commodious shed, containing the usual meteoro- 
logical instruments, with a tower, some 30 feet high, at a short dis- 
tance, for observing the direction and velocity of the wind. A rain 
guage was also kept there, and the newspapers referred to the result- 
of Elliot's observations for many years, as the only scientific record^ 
that had been taken. He was in Singapore from about 1841 to 1847, 
when he went to England and did not return. He was sent to 
Singapore for the purpose of laying down on the charts the position of 
Singapore and the surrounding countries by magnetic survey. Al! 
the neighbouring charts fifty years ago bore his name, and it is 
worth notice that he was very accurate, while the Dutch charr> 
have been shown by the latest surveys to have been as much as 
four miles out at the southern extremity of the island of Lingga. 
Many years after Captain Elliot's death, an officer in the Royal 
Engineers, one of the sons of Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist 
was sent to Singapore to lay down its position accurately and 
the telegi'aph lines were arranged to communicate at a certait 
moment direct through to Greenwich, which was the first chance o: 
extreme accuracy for ascertaining Greenwich time. It was found 
that Singapore on the charts had been laid down a little over one 
mile out of its true position, which was considered remarkable under 
the difficulties of former days, dependent upon chronometers and 
observations. In the Free Press of 9th May, 1848, is an adver- 
tisement by Mr. J. T. Thomson that the house lately occupied h\ 
Captain Elliot on the banks of the Kallang River, surrounded by 
cocoanut trees, was to be let. It was described in the advertis*^ 
ment as most advantageously situated in the most thriving districi 
in Singapore, and possessing excellent communication with the tov^yj 
both by land and water. In the appendix to vol. 3 of Logans 
Journal there happens to be a description of the observatory, as Dr. 
Little and Captain Elliot were at cross purposes about the correct- 
ness of some of the thermometrical tables, and the controversy {horn 
page xxxviii) is very amusing. Captain Keppel, when in tht? 
Dvio, used to row up the river in his gig to see Captain EHi^^ 
In volume 3 of Logan's Journal is an account of a voyage in t-ne 
of the East India Company^s steam cruisers in 1846, with Cupt&ih 
Elliot on board, to Borneo and Sarawak, when Captain Mundy took 
possession of Labuan. One of Sir Henry Elliot's grandsons, and a gran^ 
nephew of Captain Elliot, is now practising at the Bar in Singapore. 
The Singapore newspaper reprinted this year from the Madras Times 
and other papers some observations on the P. & 0. Company's treat- 
ment of passengers, including the following remarks of a mih'tary 
officer, who was many years in Singapore : — " I feel, for I know it i^ 
true, that the conduct of the P. & 0. Company towards their pas- 
sengers, is one of neglect and indifference. As long as they can obtain 
the present mail contract, they do not care one farthing about us or 
our comforts. For a rival company to start in England will ^^ 
difficult, nay I consider impossible. It therefore must be a hopeless 

DinitiypH h\/ VjOOQI^ 

1852. 563 

monopoly, the English Government helping, and we must bide our 
time. But I am of opinion that it is derogatory to the dignity of 
human nature to submit to be treated like a bale of cotton or a 
box of bullion. The passage in the Red Sea was made on the very 
ancient steamer Oriental having boilers completely worn out, at 8i 
knots an hour.'' 

In September, there was a large fire in Kampong Glam, of which 
the paper gave the following account : — " On the evening of Thursday, 
the 16th instant, a fire broke out in £3, Arab Street, Kampong 
Jawa, at about 7 o'clock, which speedily spread among the attap 
and wooden houses in that quarter, rendering all attempts to check 
it in the outset unavailing. The Sultan's Mosque and a number of 
houses behind it were in danger at one time. The number of 
liouses burnt amounted to 135, of which 101 were inconsiderable 
habited by Javanese, 21 by Malays, 8 by Chinese and 5 by Klings. 
The number of persons burnt out are reckoned at 1,500. A good 
deal of pillaging took place and several attempts were made to break 
into houses at a distance from the fire." 

During a thunderstorm in the harbour the ship Wigrams was 
struck by lightning, but owing to her being provided with a copper 
liglitning conductor she escaped damage. At the time when this 
occurred, two large cargo boats, laden with gunpowder, were lying 
alongside the ship, but fortunately they were not touched by the 
lightning and were immediately cast ofF and anchored some distance 
astern. There were no regulations then as to the storage of gun- 
powder. The attention of Government was thus directed to the sub- 
ject. The fongkaiigii with powder on board used to anchor in 
the river. 

On the 6th November, Syed Omar bin Ali Al Junied died at 
the age of sixty years. He had been in Singapore for 31 years 
and was one of the most respected of the native merchants. He 
was a native of Arabia, and carried on a most extensive business and 
realised a large fortune. He was a nephew of Syed Mahomed bin 
Haroon al Junied, who came from Palembang in the very early days of 
Sincjapore, and built the house in High Street, near where the Eu Chin 
family house is now, at the side of the river. His old house has been 
pulled down. He was buried in Syed Omar's cemetery at Victoria Street. 
Syed Omar also came from Palembang and when his uncle Syed 
Mahomed died, he carried on the business, as Syed AUie bin Mahomed Al 
Junied, the son, was then only nine years old. Syed Omar bought the 
land at the southwest corner of High Street and North Bridge Road, and 
the house which he built is still standing. It was this Syed Omar that gave 
the large Mahomedan burial ground at Victoria Street which is generally 
known by his name, and he was buried there. He left five sons, but none of 
them are now alive, three died at Mecca and two at Singapore. There are 
about ten grandchildren now in Singapore. He also built the mosque at 
Bencoolen Street. His son Syed Abdulla built the mosque at Kampong 

Syed Allie bin Mahomed Al Jnnied lived in the house which was 
afterwards bought by the Eu Chin family, in High Street and carried on a 
large business in Singapore, He gave a large piece of land in Victoria and 


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564 Anecdotal Hisforij of Singapore 

Arab Streets to Tan Tock Seng's Hospital^ and also gave the burial ground 
called Bukit Wakoff at Grange Road. He made all the wells behind Fort 
Canning, and at Selegie Road, Pnngulu Kisang, and Teluk Ayer. They 
were very large wells, with granite sides, which the Municipality not long 
ttgo filled up and carried the granite away. This was a mistake, as the 
water near Fort Canning was very good indeed, with no houses near the 
wells, and in very dry weather it would have been a great help, to say 
nothing of destroying for no purpose charitable works which cost a good 
deal of money. The road called Syed Allie Road at Kampong Kapor was 
called after him. He bought it as a garden for Rg. 400 from Inchi Sidik, a 
Malacca lady, and he also bought about 70 acres of the adjoining" swampy 
land. He died 44 years old, in Singapore, on 9th December, 1858. His 
estate was wound up by his son, Syed AUowie, the only survivor of his four 
sons, and he filled the land up by degrees, and formed Weld Road and 
Jalan Besar, while the Municipality built the three bridges at Bencoolen 
Street, Arab Street and Jalan Sultan at his expense. The land is worth now 
sixty or seventy cents a foot, and shop-houses on it let at J25 to §35 a 
month. The members of this family of AlJunied subscribed largely to the 
fund for building the present Town Hall. 

Another old Arab family in Singapore is that of the Alkoffa. Syed 
Mahomed bin Abdulrahman Alkoff traded in Singapore with Java, and 
bought land and houses in Singapore when they were cheap. He had 
no sons, and his younger brother Sheik Alkoff came to Singapore, 
having inherited his estate, and traded. His son Syed Ahamed bin 
Sheik Alkoff, a man with very large landed property in the place, is in 

In the very early days of the Settlement an Arab named Abdulrahman 
Al Sagoff came to Singapore. He had gone from Arabia to Malacca, 
where he had traded, going in his own vessels to Java. He continued io 
trade from Singapore, and died at Grisseh, in Java, not far from Soerabaya. 
His son Ahamed married in Singapore one Raja Sitti, who was the daughter 
of Hadjee Fatima, a very well known Malay lady in Singapore, who was 
of a very good family of Malacca, connected with many of the Rajas in the 
Malay States in the Peninsula. She had married a Bugis Prince from the 
Celebes, the son of the Raja of those countries. She carried on a large trade, 
owning many vessels and prows, and it was only after her death that 
the business came to be called after her son-in-law, Syed Ahamed, 
being known by all Singapore as the business of Hadjee Fatima, 
although Syed Ahamed looked after it. Hadjee Fatima built a house 
in what is now known as Java Road, but was then country, in 
Campong Glam. It was twice attacked by robbers and set on fire, 
in the days when gang robberies were so alarming, as has been stated 
elsewhere. So after it was burnt a second time, she erected the 
present mosque on the spot, and built another house for her family. 
The mosque and several houses for the poor were erected in Java 
Road, and they are kept up by the family to this day, all the ex- 
penses for imaum and charity being entirely defrayed by the AI 
Sagoff . family. Twice every year large feasts are held thereat which 
several thousands attend, of all ranks and classes of the Mahomedan 
creed. One of these is held on the anniversary of the death of Hadjee 
Fatima, and the other on that of the birth and death (which both 


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1852. o65 

occur on the same day of the year) of the Prophet Mahomed. Hadjee 
Fatima died at the age, as her descendants believe, of 98 years. 
Her son-in-law, Syed Ahmed bin Abdulrahman Al Sagoff, died in 
Singapore a very rich man, having carried on a very large trade, own- 
ing steamers and sailing vessels. He was buried in the private burial 
ground behind Hadjee Fatima's mosque. His son, Syed Mohamed 
bin Ahmed Al Sagoff, still carries on business in Singapore, but 
makes frequent visits to Europe, Jeddah, and other places, for the 
sake of his health. 

Another Arab merchant who was for many years in Singapore 
and at one time owned several large trading vessels, and towards 
the end of his life some steamers, was Syed Massim bin Salleh Al 
Jeoffrie. He came with the nakodah of an Arab vessel, and saved 
a few dollars on some of the voyages, with which he opened a small 
shop in Arab Street and gradually made a great deal of money. 
But times changed, and towards the end of his life, he became nearly 
blind, and his business fell off, and he died in May, 1894, about 
eighty years of age. He was very well known and liked in Singa- 
pore by many of the European community. 

The Government made at this time eight pits and nine traps 
for tigers in various parts of the island. In a pit at Serangoon on 
Dr. d^ Almeida's plantation a tiger fell into a pit 20 feet deep, and 
succeeded in scrambling out again, although there were several feet 
of water at the bottom. The son of the headman at the village of 
Pussier Reis was in the jungle cutting wood in January when he 
was seized by a tiger. Hearing his cries, his father ran out and 
found the tiger dragging him into the jungle. He grasped his son 
by the legs and tried to drag him away, but the tiger kept his 
hold, growling: furiously, and it was only on several persons coming 
up and assisting him that he let go his hold and ran into the 
jungle. The unfortunate young man was quite dead when the tiger 
dropped him. The newspaper in February said that a Chinaman walk- 
ing on the road near Kranji was sprung at by a tiger, but escaped 
by opening his umbrella in its face, and the tiger ran one way and 
the Chinaman the other. On 14th May the Free Press said that 
it had been usual to say in former years that at least one man a 
day was killed in Singapore, but it seemed to be much exceeded 
then, as no less than ten persons had been killed by tigers in the 
Kranji district in the course of only two days. 

On 15th March a public meeting was held to protest against 
a tonnage duty being imposed, with a view to meet the expense of 
maintaining the Horsburgh Light House. It was a repetition of what 
had taken place in 1838. The first resolution, proposed by Gilbert 
McMicking and seconded by W. H. Read, was : ^' That as this Set- 
tlement was formed with the intention that it should be a free port, 
and as the East India Company have hitherto strictly carried out 
such intention, and as no grounds of sufficient importance exists to 
necessitate a departure from the liberal policy hitherto pursued — 
this meeting is of opinion that on no account, except in a case of 
most argent necessity should the freedom which is so requisite for 
the existence and prosperity of this port be infringed/' 


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566 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The proposal was afterwards uiodified, and the light dues confined 
to square rigged vessels only, and not charged to native shipping. 

Another public meeting was held on 14th August, which expressed 
satisfaction at the concession, but still objecting to the duty on any 
vessels at all. The Act was twice amended, and in Januar3^, 1853, the 
Free Press said : '^ If the Government committed a mistake at first in 
framing the Act, misled by bad advisers, every honour must be accorded 
to it for the readiness which has been shown to rectify its errors/^ 

In August, two gentlemen went after a tiger at Bukit Timah 
and one of them fell into a tiger pit 24 feet deep, but escaped with 
severe bruises and dislocations. The police then ordered marks to be 
put up near the pits, so as to give warning of their position. 

On 21st October the Tumongong gave a large ball in the Assembly 
Booms, and on the 26th Captain Marshall, the P. & 0. Agent, gave 
a ball in the recently completed offices at New Harbour, in honour of that 
and also of the opening of the line from Singapore to Australia; the 
ChiLsaii, 700 tons, having arrived from Australia, the first vessel on 
that line. The vessel lay close by, and was illuminated, and 
there was a display of fireworks on board. The paper remarked that 
the Chusan brought only a small quantity of gold, but it realised 
such a high price that large exports were expected to be made from 
Australia to Singapore. 

At a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce held on the 23rd 
November, the following resolution was passed : — 

" The Chamber of Commerce, taking into consideration the present 
lax and irregular system prevailing, unanimously resolves that none 
of its members shall henceforth sell goods of any description at a 
longer credit than Three Months.^' 

This resolution was rendered necessary by the facilities whicii 
the position of Singapore afforded to defaulting debtors to make their 
escape from their creditors, facilities aided very much by the imper- 
fect working of the Insolvent Court, the sole Judge of which waa 
resident for much more than half the year at such a distance from 
Singapore as to render it impossible to obtain his aid in those cases 
of emergency which every now and then occurred. 

On 14th December a public meeting was held to take into con- 
sideration the measure contemplated by the Government to abolish 
the dollar currency and substitute rupees as the legal currency in 
the Straits. George Garden Nicol was chairman. It was decided 
that it would be inexpedient and would injure commercial interests 
very seriously. 

It was towards the end of 1852 that a meeting was held to 
establish a Singapore Cricket Club. 

The firm of Hamilton Gray & Co. had been estabished in 1832. 
In 1846 the partners were Walter Buchanan, William Hamilton, and 
William Macdonald in Glasgow, and Ellis James Gilman and George 
Garden Nicol in Singapore. In 1853 John Jarvie was a partner. 
In 1855 Reginald Padday and C. H. H. Wilsone were clerks and 
afterwards became partners. 

Mr. G. G. Nicol left the firm in 1860, and was for many years 
the Chairman in London of the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, 


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1852. 567 

London, and China, and a Director of the Eastern Extension and 
Australia Telegraph Company, and of the London and Joint Stock 
Bank. He is frequently mentioned in this book; he died in England 
on 16th January, 1897, at the age of 83 years. 

Tlie firm of William Macdonald & Co. started in 1852, the first 
partners of which were Eobert Duff in Singapore and William Macdonald 
(who then left Hamilton, Gray & Co.) in Glasgow. In 1855 Garlies 
Allinson became a partner and Farleigh Armstrong was clerk. In 
1858 William Eamsay Scott was a clerk. In 1859 John Earn 
Macdonald was a partner, and W. R. Scott in 1864. Mr. Whitworth 
Allen was a clerk from 1859 to 1864, after which he went to Penang. 


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568 Anecdotal Bisiory of Singapore 


FROM the begiiiniug of this year the monthly P. & 0. Mail was 
changed into a mail twice a month. The first left London on tlie 
8th of each month, which came direct from Galle to Penang, Singapore 
and China. The second left London on the 24th, and went from Galle 
to Calcutta and then to Penang and onwards. The first was due in 
Singapore about the 15th of each month, the contract time being 38 days. 
The second about the 10th of each month, the contract time being 47 days. 
The homeward mails left Singapore on the 17th and 28th the first ria 
Bombay and the second via Calcutta ; the contract time for both t.^ 
Marseilles being 44 days. The steamers went on to Southampton. The passage 
money from Singapore to Southampton was §528, and it was raised 
soon afterwards, in consequence, as the advertisement said, of the 
increased cost of coal, &c., to $600, equal at the exchange at that time 
to £142.10. The delay occasioned by the steamer going round vie 
Calcutta caused so much delay that the two mails arrived very near 
each other, and this was avoided in 1857 by the mail being transhipped 
at Galle, The P. & 0. Company opened their office in Singfapore at thi^ 
time. Mr. Henry Thomas Marshall was the first agent, with John 
Say Sparkes as a clerk. 

In Januaiy, Mr. Lewis Fraser of Maclaine, Fraser & Co., who T^a5 
then living at the large house ou Campong Glam beach, returned to 
Europe. The following is an account of a ball given in his honour on 
the 21st: *' During the week that has elapsed since our last issue, 
Singapore has been more than usually gay. On the 21st the Freema- 
sons of Lodge ' Zetland in the East ' gave a ball and supper in the 
Assembly Booms as a farewell token of their regard for our townsman 
Mr. Lewis Fraser and his lady, who are about to leave the Settlement. 
The assembly was numerous, and the rooms were most tastefully deco- 
rated with various masonic emblems. The Military band was in 
attendance, and everything went off in excellent style. At supper, Mr. 
W. H. Read, the present Master of the Lodge, proposed the toast of 
the evening in a short but appropriate speech, and after it had been 
drunk with masonic honours as well as the hearty cheers of the un- 
initiated, Mr. Fraser made a suitable reply. After the company left 
the supper table, the dancing was resumed and kept up with great 
spirit to an advanced hour." 

The following paragraph was in the paper in February. "It wiH 
be seen from the proceedings of the Municipal Committee, that a very 
great improvement is projected in Commercial Square, by the removal 
of the ugly wall which at present surrounds the centre of the Square, 
the widening of the road and introducing a good drainage. We shouM 
think all the proprietors and tenants of houses in the Square will at 

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1853. 569 

once give their assent to the measure, and we trust that ere many 
months elapse, the plan of the Committee will have been carried out/' 

In March the Governor-General sanctioned the erection of a screw 
pile lighthouse at the two and a half fathom bank in the Straits in 
place of the floating light, cost not to exceed fb. 35,000; a lighthouse 
of masonry on the Coney Island, and also of fixed beacons on the 
Blenheim, Pyramid, and Bambeck Shoals. 

In May, another of the cooly vessel piracy cases occurred, and was 
discovered by accident by a Kling boatman who was outside the 
harbour looking for in-coming vessels. He fell in with a vessel to the 
eastward of Pedra Branca which he was not allowed to board, but 
which he was informed by persons on board was an American vessel, 
with a crew of Manilamen, and that the Captain and the officers had 
been cut off by the crew. These facts were reported to the Police, 
but as no vessel was sent out by the authorities, who were under the 
impression that the ship had proceeded up the China Sea, the boatman 
again went out to the eastern entrance of the Straits of Singapore, 
and succeeded in falling in with the vessel near the place where he 
had first met her. This time he was allowed to get on board, and on 
being requested to conduct the vessel to Rliio promised to do so, but 
he brought her to anchor about ten miles on this side of Pedra 
Branca and on some pretence or other came to Singapore and reported 
that she was a cooly laden ship, and that all the officers and most of 
the crew were absent from the vessel. On this a merchant brig 
consigned to A. L. Johnston & Co., the Rival, Captain Franklyn, 
was induced to proceed in search of the vessel, and arrived in 
her neighbourhood about seven o'clock on the evening of Sunday, 
the 8th May. Captain Franklyn proceeded alongside in a boat and 
hailed the people on deck, requesting to be allowed to come on board, 
but this was refused. It was seen that preparations had been made 
for resistance, and Captain Franklyn was told if he did not keep off 
he would be fired upon, and ho noticed that a man stood beside one 
of the guns with a lighted match in his hand. Captain Franklyn then 
returned to the Rival for assistance, and dividing his small party 
between two boats, again returned to the vessel, and boarded her at 
two points. The persons on board offered some resistance, but were 
driven back, and about twenty of the Chinese jumped overboard and 
were supposed to have been drowned. The rest were got below and 
a watch kept on board until day-light when the chain was slipped, and 
the two vessels being got under weigh they succeeded in reaching the 
harbour in the afternoon. During the night two attempts were made 
by the Chinese to rush on deck, but unsuccessfully On investigation 
it turned out that the vessel was Spanish, bound from China to Lima 
with 200 coolies. Her officers, who were English, had been murdered. 

The following paragraphs are taken from the presentment of the 
Grand Jury in August, of which Mr. Thomas Owen Crane was the 
foreman. '^ The Jurors present the necessity of adopting stringent 
measures to detain witnesses in very grave cases until the trial of the 
prisoners, particularly where Hoeys are concerned, as the Jurors have 
reason to believe that the witnesses are frequently tampered with and 
disposed of, as the secret societies may think proper; consequently 


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570 Anecdotal ffistory of Singapore 

defeating the euds of justice and encouraging crime. The Jurors beg 
to recall your Lordships' attention to the oft-repeated complaint against 
the dangerous and increasing evil of the secret societies, and urge the 
necessity of ample authority being given to the Execjitive in the new 
Police Act, to put down effectually the growing power of a body of 
men, committing daily acts of daring violence and injustice, treating 
with contempt the wholesome laws of a British Settlement, and likely, 
if allowed to remain unchecked, to endanger seriously the peace and 
safety of this community. 

^^ The Jurors again present the impropriety and danger attending 
the unrestricted sale of arsenic and other poisons in the bazaar. 

"Having visited the Institution, the Jurors found the building 
apparently in good repair, but the grounds are much in want of 
efficient draining. They also examined the boys, and, as far as 
time would allow, endeavoured to ascertain whether the system 
pursued was adapted to the capabilities of the pupils. They see no 
reason to find fault in this respect, but attribute the falling off in 
the numbers attending, to the establishment of other schools and to 
the distance the Institution is situated from the populous part 
of the town. The Jurors therefore suggest that the present 
building and the ground belonging to it, be let out on build- 
ing leases and a school constructed in a more central position — and 
they are of opinion that the Green in front of the Police Office is 
an appropriate spot for that purpose. The Jurors beg here to re- 
cord their regret that the state of education among the Natives is 
not in a higher state of cultivation in this Settlement, and trust that 
the Authorities will take such measures as will promote that bles- 
sing among those who are so much in need of it, and which is 
the only effectual means of promoting civilisation and checking 

In August, Mr. John TurnbuU Thomson, the Government Surveyor, 
left Singapore on sick leave, and did not return. The following 
is taken from the Fret Press of that month: — 

" A meeting of the European community took place at the News 
Room, for the purpose of considering the most appropriate manner 
of marking their sense of the public services of Mr. Thomson, the 
Government Surveyor, who is about to proceed to Europe on sick 
leave. The meeting was the most numerously attended which we 
have witnessed for some time past, and the strongest desire was 
manifested to testify in the most unequivocal manner the public ap- 
preciation of Mr. Thomson's valuable services. The eloquent remarks 
of Mr. Napier sufficiently showed what were Mr. Thomson's merits 
in regard to the designing and erection of the Horsburgh Light- 
house, but he could have pointed to many more of Mr, Thomson's 
undertakings, which show with what zeal and ability he has served 
his employers, and how much Singapore has benefited by his labours. 
Irrespective altogether of the duties of his office of Gt>vernment 
Surveyor, which we believe have always been discharged in a man* 
ner calling forth the approbation of his superiors both here and in 
Bengal, Mr. Thomson designed and superintended the building of 
the two Hospitals, which are certainly the most ornamental of our 


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1853. 571 

public edifices; he also added a spire to St. Andrew^s Church, de- 
sig-ned and superintended the Ellenborough Buildings, threw the 
bridge across Kallang, renewed Presentment Bridge, and lowered 
and repaired Coleman^s Bridge. Several of the longest lines of roads 
were executed by him, besides many minor public works. Not con- 
tent with his labours on shore, in conjunction with the late Captain 
Congalton, Mr. Thomson made a very elaborate survey of the Straits 
of Singapore, which was laid down by him and afterwards engraved. 
He also surveyed the Seobu Channel on the East Coast of the 
Malay Peninsula and New Harbour in Singapore, both of which 
have been engraved by the Admiralty. Such are some of tlie works 
which ' Mr. Thomson has actually carried into execution, but in ad- 
dition to these, numerous and important as they are, he has fur- 
nished plans and estimates for many others. The most important to 
the public of such plans are perhaps those for a screw pile light- 
house on the Two and a Half Fathom Bank, and for a light-house 
of masonry on the Coney. It will be matter of regret should any- 
thing occur to prevent the early return of Mr. Thomson to carry 
out these and other important public works, to which the experience 
he has now acquired would enable him to do such ample justice. 

''It must be in the highest degree gratifying to Mr. Thomson, 
that he not only carries with him the best wishes and fullest re- 
cognition of his merits, on the part of the community amongst whom 
he has spent the last twelve years, but that the Government which 
he has so faithfully and effectively served, also acknowledge his 
varied services in the most ample manner. This will probably com- 
pensate somewhat for the absence of more substantial reward, from 
the hope of which, no doubt, the rigid rules of Government exclude 
their uncovenanted servants, however great their deservings." 

In acknowledging the testimonial, a piece of plate, Mr. Thomson 
wrote from Edinburgh in November, 1853: — ^^It was with feelings of 
deep regret that I was forced away from so beautiful and pleasant a 
Settlement as Singapore, where I had passed the best part of my 
life, and to which I was bound by so many ties of frendship, but 
I trust that, if my health be restored, I may not be long absent.^^ 
Mr. Thomson went to New Zealand and was Surveyor-General 
at Dunedin. While at Otago in New Zealand in 1873, he wrote the 
Translations from the Hakayit Abdul la, which have been mentioned 
on page 28, with comments of his own. The book was published 
by Henry S. King & Co., London, in 1874, and in the preface he 
speaks of the ever recurring interest he had in Singapore. He made 
the translations from a copy he had been given by AbduUa himself, 
and the translation is remarkable as having been made eighteen 
years after Mr. Thomson left the Straits, and he had been away 
from any Malay-speaking people. Mr. Thomson, whose name should 
always be remembered in Singapore, died in New Zealand at the 
end of 1884. He had a large family of daughters, about ten. 
most of whom were married. His first cousin, Mr. Thomas Scott 
Thomson, has been a resident in Singapore since 1859. 

Search has been made in the Survey Office to try to obtain 
information about the town in former days from copies of old maps. 


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572 Anecdotal Swtory of Singapore 

There is one made in 1842 by Mr. J. T. Thomson, and it gives 
the names of the Streets in Campong Bencoolen as they were then. 
Xorth Bridge Road, Victoria Street, Qaeen Street and Bencoolen 
Street are still called by the same names, but the present Waterloo 
Street was then called Church Street, and Prinsep Street was called 
Flint Street. The Mission Chapel is shown on it, as standing at the 
north east corner of Norfch Bridge Road and Brass Bassa Road, and 
the Institution building consisted of three blocks with two narrower 
portions connecting them. 

The next map is also by Mr. Thomson, dated 1842-3-4-0. 
The Post Office is shown near the river, where the Grovernment 
offices now stand, and Tanjong Mallang is marked between Fort 
Palmer and Tanjong Pagar village, about where the sunken hulks 
are now at the eastern end of Tanjong Pagar Wharves. 

The next is a map lithographed in Calcutta in 1857, also bv 
Mr. Thomson. Waterloo and Prinsep Streets were still called Church 
Street and Flint Street. What was called the Mission Chapel in 
the former map, at Brass Bassa Road, is now put as the English 
Chapel. Commissariat Office buildings, showing a considerable size, 
are opposite the site of the present Ice House in River Valley Road. 
A large building called the new Court House is placed exactly 
where the present Library and Museum stand on Fort Canning Hill, but 
it can only have been a proposed building (like the suggestion to 
build a new Court House next to the Roman Catholic Church, as 
mentioned on page 265) for no building was commenced on that 
spot before the present Library. The Masonic Hall is marked at the 
house vacated by Mr. Church, at the corner of the Esplanade and 
Coleman Street. 

There is also a map lithographed in London in 1854, in a very 
dilapidated state. It is interesting as showing exactly where the old 
Assembly Rooms were, and the size of the building, which had been 
sought for in vain for some time when writing this book. It stood 
at the corner at the foot of Fort Canning and River Valley Road; 
that is, at the north-west corner of Hill Street and River Valley 
Road, opposite the present Ice House, facing Hill Street, not far from 
the road. The plan shews that it was about 150 feet long by 80 feet 
wide, and had a portico in the centre of the front. It was built of 
lath and plaster and attap, open beneath, with a large room to the left 
as you entered, for a ball-room, dinners, &c., and a room for a 
theatre, with a well for the orchestra next the footlights, on the right 
hand side of the building. It was constructed under the superin- 
tendence of Mr. McSweeney. It had been proposed to have a Masonic 
Lodge, and a Public Library there also, but they came to nothing. 
The two large banyan trees which stood towards each end of the 
building are still there. 

Another of Mr. Thomson's plans was lithographed in Calcutta in 
1846, but it does not give any further information than those 
already spoken of. 

Mr. Thomson took trigonometrically the heights of a number of 
the principal eminences of the ranges in the neighbourhood of Singa- 
pore town and vicinity, above the level of low water, at spring tides. 


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The following are some which can still bo traced by the same names. 
They have been arranged here alphabetically. The first name was 
that used by Mr. Thomson, and the explanations added are a des- 
cription from which the different places are likely to be identified 
at the present time, in 1902 : — 


Broad Fields 

Blaken Mati large hill 
Bukit Serapong 

Bukit Chermin 

Bukit Timah 

Cairn Hill 



Government Hill ... 
Green Hill 

Guthrie's Hill 

Institution Hill ... 
Lady Hill 


Line Hill 


Menkes Hill 

Mount Elizabeth . . 

„ Fabef 
„ Harriet 

„ Palmer 
,, Sophia 

„ Wallich .. 

„ Zion 
Peak Island 
Pearl's Hill 

Rosemary Hill 

St. John's Island 

Sri Menanti 

75 (W. Paterson) Paterson Road. 























(W. W. Ker) Keppel Harbour. 

Orchard Road. 

Burial Ground, Orchard Road. 

Behind Tanglin Club. Steven's 

Bukit Timah Road. 
Fort Canning. 
(Caldwell's) Chancery Lane, 

Thomson Road. 
Tanjong Pagar Dock, entrance, 

Manager's House. 
River Valley Road. 
Between Orchard Road and 

Steven's Road. 
Teluk Ayer, Chinese Club House. 
Sepoy Lines, General Hospital. 
Keppel Harbour. 
(C. Carnie), Bukit Timah Road, 

If miles. 
Orchard Road, corner of Scott's 

Now Government House. 
New Harbour. 

(W. W: Willan.s) part of Tang- 
lin Barracks. 
Near Tanjong Pagar. 
Sophia Hill. 

(Almeida's) Steven's Road, cor- 
ner of Almeida Road. 
Blasted to fill up Teluk Ayer 

(Keasberry) River Valley Road. 
(Oxley) Tank Road. 
Near St. John's Island. 
Commissariat and Water Reser- 
Opposite Mount Echo. 

(G. G. Nicol) Junction River Val- 
ley and Tanglin Roads. 


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574 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The paper in April said that tigers were particularly destruc- 
tive then in Johore, several persons being killed every day. And 
that the alligators in the Gaylang and Kallang rivers were doing 
much harm; even snapping at natives sitting in boats, and carryinir 
off many ducks and fowls. 

It was at this time that a number of Europeans abandoned tho 
diggings at the foot of Mount Ophir where they had been led into 
the belief, possibly by the name, that gold would be found. Sevt-i-al 
of them died there, some were in the hospital in Malacca in April in 
fi precarious state, and the rest were forced to leave through illness. 
The paper remarked that the gold obtained was trifling in quantity if 
any at all, and that no better result had been anticipated. The paper in 
the sjime month contained a long account of the prospectus for a large 
Dutch Company to work tin mines at the Carimons, which was expect- 
ed by the Dutch to do great things, but resulted in much the same way. 

I'he state of aiTairs in the Native States was thus alluded to in 
the paper in June : — 

*' There seems to be a spirit of anarchy and confusion reigning 
throughout many of the Malay States at present, which may pro- 
bably lead to considerable changes ere long. Thus, in the north 
part of the Peninsula, we have the Kajah of Pera, apparently hard 
pressed by his rebellious subjects and obliged to send to his neigli- 
bours for assistance. In the sonth of Sumatra, we have the Sultan 
of Jambi reported to be at issue with his liege lords, the Dutch 
Grovernment, the end of which will most assuredly be the annex- 
ation of Jambi to the N. I. territories in Sumatra. In the same 
quarter, the Sultan of Lingga is reported to be on tei*ms of most 
bitter enmity with his hereditary Prime Minister, the Viceroy of 
Rhio, and as the latter lives under the protecting shadow of the 
Dutch, we suppose he has considerable confidence in defying his 
superior's anger. The Viceroy in a fit of piety lately shut himself 
up for six weeks, during which he meant to devote himself wholly 
to meditation and prayer, absolutely excluding all cognisance of 
sublunary matters. On the east side of the Malay Peninsula, we 
have the Bandahara of Pahang renouncing his allegiance to his 
lawful sovereign the Sultan of Johore, and asserting an independent 
position. His power, however, is said not to be of a very stable 
nature, as his subjects are discontented with his rule, and are only 
kept quiet through the influence of his father who, although he has 
renounced his power in favour of his son, still commands the res- 
pect of his former subjects. The Pahang potentate is on bad terms, 
too, with his neighbour the Rajah of Tringanu, and as the latter is 
supported by his relative, the Sultan of Lingga, a struggle between 
the two would probably be protracted and costly. The Tringanu 
chieftain, on the other hand, has his own peculiar anxieties. He has 
incurred suspicion of being piratically disposed, and although the 
Government of India has peremptorily refused to take notice of hfs 
delinquency, the question has not yet been finally disposed of and 
may still be again re-opened." 

And in October the Free Press contained the following on tht' 
same subject : — *' In another column we give the observations of the 


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1853. 575 

Earl of Albemarle in moving for the correspondence relative to the 
seizure of a Chinese junk at Tringanu, and the murder of its crew 
by orders of the Rajah of that place. His Lordship has stated the 
case with great accuracy, although he has fallen into a few errors 
regarding the statistics of Singapore. Instead of a population of 
200,000, our numbers only amount to 60,000, of whom two-thirds at 
least are Chinese. The export trade is not entirely in the hands of 
tlie Chinese, although they have a good share in it, but is largely 
participated in by the Europeans, the Bugis, &c. His liordship has 
probably been led by mistake to attribute to Singapore the whole 
population of the three British Settlements in the straits of Malacca, 
which is estimated at from 200,000 to 220,000. It would be pro- 
ductive of great benefit to British interests could attention be drawn 
to the present state of oar relations with the different Malay .*5tates 
on the Peninsula of Malacca. These states might be made very 
valuable to commerce from the immense mineral riches they contain, 
as well as from the fertile soil which exists in abundance, admirably 
fitted for tropical cultures of all kinds. These resources at present 
are almost wholly neglected, the native population, under ignorant 
and generally debased rajahs, being little addicted to habits of in- 
dustry, the insecurity of life and property which prevails in these 
states destroying the motives to exertion. With proper management 
on the part of our government, and without directly interforinj^ to 
any considerable extent with the internal government of these states, 
a great change for the better could be introduced. The proximity 
of the British Settlements would enable the government to exert 
such a moral influence on the rulers of these states that they would 
readily follow such a course as might be indicated to them Some 
trouble might be found at first in teaching them the value of the 
advice tendered, but a judicious and patient representative of govern- 
ment would very speedily be able to bring them round to his views. 
No attempt of the kind has ever been made, our only mode of 
dealing with these states being, in general, utter neglect, and occa- 
sional threats and coercion when a powerful neighbour like Siam 
has required our interposition. The non-interference system, however, 
has been the favourite one of late years, and their determination to 
adhere to it, in all events, may be taken as the solution of the 
strange behaviour of government in regard to the outrage on the junk 
Kim Eng Seng, It is highly probable that other civilized powers 
may ere long acquire a knowledge of the value of the Peninsula of 
Malacca, and desire to possess a footing upon it, and our government 
will then find that it would have been wise to have obtained a 
wholesome influence over the neighbouring states, and to have been in 
a position to have practically in their own hands the power of de- 
termining whether it would be convenient to allow the establishment 
in their close vicinity of rival European or American settlements. 

The following is an amusing account of a famous " head scare ;" 
in addition to what has been said on page 337 : — 

"For about ten days past a most extraordinary delusion has 
prevailed amongst the native population, and especially the Chinese 
section. It is believed that the evil spirits which are said to have 


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576 Anecdotal llistory of Singapore 

their abode in St. Andrew's Church, have lately proved so restless 
as to oblige the Europeans to desist from having public worship 
there and take refuge in the Court House. It is furtlier believeti 
that the onl}' way of pacifying these evil spirits is to make them 
an offering of a large number of heads of human beings, and that 
the Government has therefore issued an order to the convicts to 
provide the required heads by way -laying and murdering unwary 
passengers at night ! Absurd as such an idea must seem to any 
one possessed of common sense, such is the little knowledge which 
the great mass of the native population apparently possess of the 
European character and institutions, and the gross superstition with 
which they are leavened, that this notion has obtained very general 
credence and a great panic consequently prevails. People are afraid 
to go out at night, and the most extravagant reports are circulating 
as to the number of victims who have already been sacrificed, some 
go so far as to reckon them above thirty. The Government, with 
the view of allaying the excitement, some days ago issued a notice 
declaring these reports to be false, and offering a reward of five 
hundred dollars for the discovery of the persons propagating them. 
This measure would not appear to have been productive of the end 
desired, as placards were thereafter posted up in Chinese denouncing 
the Government notice as an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of 
the people, and hinting pretty plainly the propriety of adopting re- 
taliatory measures against the Europeans ! Although it is not anti- 
cipated that any actual breach of the public peace will ensue, yet 
it has been deemed proper to take all reasonable means of allaying 
the uneasiness on the part of the native population, and amongst 
other steps we understand that orders have been given that the first 
class convicts, who are allowed to reside beyond the convict lines, 
must not quit their houses betwixt the hour of eight in the even- 
ing and five in the morning. 

" Some of the more enlightened of our Chinese merchants havf 
taken pains to disabuse their countrymen of the ridiculous impres- 
.sions which have taken hold of them, and a Committee consisting of 
Messrs. Tan Bang Swee, Tan Kim Cheng, Tan Chin Seng, Seah Eu 
Chin and Hoo Ah Kay (Whampoa,) have prepared an address which 
has been signed by about thirty Chinese merchants, and which it is 
intended to have lithographed and distributed. The following is an 
abstract of this address, which, we believe, will prove interesting to 
our readers : — 

'^ Reports have lately arisen about people being beaten to death at 
night, which are utterly false, yet they have obtained great prevalence, for 
it is the nature of such rumours that if one repeats them, a hundred per- 
sons believe them. These reports have, no doubt, arisen from thoughtless- 
ness. A Chinese was lately beaten by some Malays when bathing at their 
well, this happened when these reports prevailed, and the occurrence wa^ 
magnified and received as a confirmation of them, and they were 
therefore held as being quite true. At the moment when pooplr 
heard this thoy did not reflect that Malays nre not pleased that 
persons should drink or bathe at their wells; if it had happened at 
any other time it would have been thought nothing of. The Govern- 


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1858. 577 

merit issued a notice telling the people that such reports were false 
and unfounded. Tin's notice ought to have been believed and res- 
pected, but instead of attending to it, how could you put up such 
improper placards? You do not think of the paternal and com- 
passionate character of the Government, which even offers rewards 
for the destruction of the tiger which kills people. How then could 
the Government order people to be killed under the pretence that 
they were to be o£Eered to evil spirits? The Europeans do not be- 
lieve in evil spirits. 

" The English law is that if a man commits murder he must be 
punished by death. If this is so, how is it possible that it conld 
be so much violated as it would be by people being killed without 
their having been guilty of any crime ? It you will only reflect on 
these things it will be apparent that these reports are all nonsense. 
To persist, therefore, in affirming such absurdities is very wrong. The 
Government of this country is very benevolent ; much more so than 
I hat of other countries. The law for all classes and nations in this is- 
land is the same. It is not- as in other countries, where there are 
different laws for the different sections of the population. In this port 
vessels can freely enter, and they are not obliged to pay any duties, 
but only to rep)ort themselves. Persons can also go and cultivate land 
in the country, and gain a livelihood without paying any taxes. The 
privileges which the Government allows to the people are they not very 
extensive and of long continuance? How can you then be so ungrate- 
ful as not to acknowledge this, but on the contrary to put up these 
improper placards ? You are people without reflection ! You do not 
consider how high are the Heavens, and how deep the earth ! You 
say that the Europeans dare not go to their Church for fear of the 
evil spirits, but we know that this is not the reason, but because the 
Church is out of repair and therefore dangerous. It must therefore 
be repaired before people can go to it. 

" Another report is that twenty or thirty persons have been mur- 
dered. You do not reflect that men are not small objects which can 
disappear without being noticed ! Just let ns know from what street 
or place in Singapore persons are missing and cannot be found ? If 
none are missing it is quite clear none have been killed. Were it true 
we also would have heard of it. The result of all these foolish reports 
is that poor persons cannot earn their livelihood being afraid to ven- 
ture out in the mornings and evenings. We also are Chinese and 
consequently cannot see these things without taking notice of them. 
We have therefore framed this address to remove the false impressions 
existing in the hearts of the people, and also to point out the impro- 
priety of adopting such coarse and objectionable language ns that 
contained in these placards. If any of your friends are really beaten 
or murdered, let us know and we will take you to the Authorities, who 
will investigate the matter, but if you bring us false stories you will 
incur disgrace and punishment." 

It was in this year that the different flags were first used to dis- 
tinguish the closing of the various mails : — Calcutta by a blue ensign \ 
Australia, a white ; Europe, a red ; and China, a yellow flag ; which 
have been U3e4 ever since except that to Atistralia^ 


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S78 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

There was a small outbreak in the gaol in July of which the 
following was an account in the Free Press : — 

"On the evening of Sunday, the 3rd September, a number o\ 
the Seikh convicts confined in the Convict Gaol made an attempt td 
escape, which, as far as regarded some of them, was temporarilj 
successful. About one hundred of these men, who are generallj 
powerful, daring fellows, had contrived to arm themselves with sticks 
and billets of firewood, and suddenly made a rush upon the peon? 
on guard, whom they knocked down. Thirty of these desperadoes 
although in irons, contrived to get through the door of the gaol 
before it was closed by one of the peons who had been knocked 
down in the first rush. Those of the Seikhs who were still in the 
gaol were quickly overpowered by the other convicts, who did no^ 
exhibit the slightest sympathy with them, even the class of heavy 
defaulters, who are kept in irons, giving their aid with alacrity in 
securing them. The peons and others than gave chase to the run- 
aways, and soon overtook and secured twenty-seven, some of them 
receiving rather hard knocks when they would not surrender quietly, 
The whole have since been brought in. These Seikhs were forwarded 
from AUipore gaol and are described as insubordinate and dangerous 
diameters. The ill-success which has attended their attempt to run 
away, and the severe punishment which it has brought down upon 
them, will, no doubt, prevent them from trying to make their escape 
for some time to come." 

Piracy was still very frequent around Singapore, especially against 
the Chinese and other native trading vessels, and the Chamber of 
Commerce corresponded with the authorities and the of the 
station who promised to station a man-of-war at Singapore when he 
had one available. 

The following is an extract from the Report of the SailoriJ 
Home : — 

" So long as the number of Punch Houses continues so large, 
the Committee fear their efforts to preserve the improvident sailor 
from the pernicious effects of debauchery will not meet with such 
success as they would wish, but the gradual restriction in the issue 
of licenses to these haunts of vice by the Magistrates, leads them 
to hope that, by sure and certain steps, the object of their desires 
will be finally attained. Your Committee deem it right here to call the 
general attention to the low cofEee houses and spirit shops in the out- 
skirts of the town, where there is but too much reason to fear the un- 
wary sailor is stupified by deleterious spirits, and unscrupulously rob- 
bed, and they hope that steps will be taken to mitigate this serious evil.^' 

The Sailors Home had been commenced in High Street. An ac- 
count of it is on page 125 of Mr. W. H. Bead's book. The Govern- 
ment paid B«. 100 for the rent. The house became too small for the 
purpose, and the present premises, which had been occupied by Mr. 
Balestier, were bought in 1857, the Government advancing ib. 12,000, 
or ten years' annual subscription, and the building ivas formally 
conveyed to Government as a security. When the ten years expired, 
it was formally returned to the Committee. The building was much 
enlarged by extending the two ends in 1877, 


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1853 579 

In September, the supply of rice for local conRumption was thus 
referred to in the Free Press: — "Considerable alarm was felt some 
days ago on account of the small stock of rice in Singapore for local 
consumption, the great bulk of the article having been shipped for 
China, or at least bought for shipment to that quarter. The retail 
price also rose to a very high figure, being equal to $100 per 
koyan, while at ordinary times it never much exceeds $60 and is 
often considerably below that rate. This high price, we believe, still 
continues, although some further supplies have come in and more are 
expected. At one time it was calculated that there was not above 
ten days' consumption in the place. The population of Singapore, 
and at the Chinese settlement in Johore, which is wholly dependent 
un Singapore for their supplies, amounts to 100,000 at least, and 
calculating the daily consumption of rice by this number at one 
catty a head, a very moderate estimate, will give us 1,000 piculs a 
day. For our supplies of rice we are wholly dependent on other 
countries, not a single grain being grown on the island, and it will 
therefore be easily seen how important it is that nothing should occur 
lo prevent the market being at all times abundantly supplied. 
Should the supply be interrupted through any cause, and become ex- 
hausted, there is no means of averting a famine, since the island, 
unfortunately, produces no other articles of food which could serve 
as a substitute for rice even for a few days.'' 

The following passages are taken from an annual retrospect of 
the year in the pages of the Free Press : — 

" Notwithstanding the existence of various circumstances which 
were calculated to exercise an unfavourable influence on the trade 
of Singapore during the year, such as the disturbances in China, 
the ravages committed on the native trade by pirates, &c., it is a 
subject for congratulation to find, from the returns, that our com- 
mercial prosperity continues unabated, and that the large increase 
which we had to notice in the trade of 1852 has been fully equalled 
by that in 1853. The trade of Singapore appears to be augmenting 
at the rate of one million sterling a year ! 

"During the year, a very large trade was carried on with Australia, 
and although subject to considerable fluctuations, as was to be ex- 
pected from the extraordinary state of things in the Colonies, we have 
no doubt that the permanent trade between Singapore and Australia 
will in future form a very important item in our commercial returns. 
Prices of produce generally ruled high during 1853, and a very large 
demand existed for most of our staple products. Gutta Percha, in 
particular, which a few years ago was sold at $10 per picul, in conse- 
quence of the active competition, was at one time run up to the 
hi^h rate of $75 per picul. Prices have since receded, but gutta 
i^till brings $30 to $35, and appears again advancing in price. 

"The prahn^ from the eastward, comprising the Bugis traders, 
ic., arrived in considerable numbers this year. Those parts of their 
cargoes which consisted of articles chiefly adapted to the Chinese 
market, such as tripang, agar-agar, birds^ nests, rattan and gairo 
wood, &c., had to be sold at very losing rates, while the produce 
adapted for the Europe and Indian markets, such as gold dust 


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580 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

coffee, oil, rice, wax, tortoise-shell, sago, gutta perclia, &c., bronght 
very remunerative prices. 

'^ The revenue of Singapore during the official year 1 852-3 amounted 
to ffa. 457,207, and the expenditure to B«. 442,342, thus leaving 
a surplus of fti. 14,865. In the expenditure, the charges for militarj 
and convicts are included. It would thus appear that the revenue 
of Singapore is advancing in proportion with its trade. The amounj 
derived from the Revenue Farms (Opium, Spirits, Toddy, Market 
Pawn-brokers, &c.) amounted to ib. 340,089. 

"The number of Chinese immij/rants into Singapore durincr th( 
official year 1852-3 amounted to 11,484. Towards the end of tlu 
year, large numbers of Chinese began to arrive in square-rig«red vessel) 
and junks. Many of these were from- Anioy, and had taken part ii 
the disturbances there. The rebels in that quarter are understood to hav* 
received very considerable supplies from Singapore, find more were on \h 
point of being sent, when the news of their having evacuated Anioy reachec 
this. Amongst the arrivals from Amoy were the wives and families o\ 
several of our most respectable Chinese merchants, and a number more an 
still expected. Should the practice of the wives and families of our traders 
following them from China hereafter continue, it may be expected to ex 
ercise a beneficial inflnencc on the Chinese part of our population. 

" In February, the draft of an Act was published to repeal that passe<l 
some time previously for levying tolls for defraying the cost and main- 
tenance of the Horsburgh Light-house, &c. I^his draft made some desirable 
modifications in the manner of levying the tolls, and entirely exempted 
native craft, but it being considered that the rates ])roposed were un- 
necessarily high, and that they would unduly press upon the class of vessels 
called Straits 'JVaders, memorials were addressed to the (xovernor-General i« 
Council and by the Chamber of Commerce, praying for some modifications 
of the Act in these respects. To these representations a reply was re- 
ceived from the Supreme (xovernment, promising to reduce the duty on 
Straits traders to one half of what will be exigible from other classes of 
vessels liable, and although refusing for the present to alter the duty a:^ 
regards other vessels, yet distinctly pledging the (xovernment to lower it, 
should experience show that the aggregate amount of duty levied is more 
than enough to meet what is legitimately chargeable to the lighting of the 
Straits. This promise and the resolution adopted by the Government to 
proceed without delay with the erection of other lights were considered 

" A proposition was submitted to the Supreme Government to make the 
Company's rupee the sole legal tender throughout the Straits Settlements. 
This proposal was generally deprecated in Singapore, and the community 
were glad to learn that the Governor-General in Council had discoiui- 
tenanced the plan. 

"During the course of 1853, the urgent necessity which existed for the 
permanent presence of a professional Judge at Singapore again engaged 
public attention, and the Grand Jury in April earnestly pressed the matter 
m their presentment. The Chamber of Commerce also addressed a Memo- 
rial to the Governor-General in Council on the subject." 

The Governor and Mrs. Butterworth returned to Singapore from the 
Australian Colonies by the P. and 0. Steamer on the 9tli November, and 


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1853 561 

were entertained at a Ball on 6th December, at what Mr. John Purvis was 
Chairman of the Connnittee, and Mr. T. 0. Crane proposed the health of 
Mrs. and Miss Butterwortli. The next week Colonel Cameron and the 
officers of the 43rd Madras Native Infantry ^ave a similar entertainment. 
Ill February the Sultan of Lingga had given a largo fancy dress ball to the 
Kuropean community in the Assembly Rooms. 

it was in this year that Miss Sophia Cooke came to Singapore. 
The Society for the Promotion of Female Education in the East had 
been extended to Singapore in 1843. It had been founded in 1834, 
the first Society for sending Woman Missionaries to the women of 
the Kast^ and Singapore was one of its first Stations and was the 
last to be transferred, when the Society came to an end on the 9th 
January, 1900, to the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. 
In Singapore the School has always been known as the Chinese 
itirls School, and perhaps better known as Miss Cooke's School, as 
Aw was so much respected in the work which she carried on for 
forty-two years. The work wns begun by Miss Grant, who reached 
Singapore in 184-3, and took over a School which Mrs. Dyer of the 
l.ondon Missionary Society had begun. In 1853, Miss Cooke came 
'•ut. The house was built in 1861, and the School was supported 
hv half-yearly sales of work sent out from England and of other 
2rift>. For some years there was a mortijage on the building which 
was finally paid oif about 1898. In September, 1895, Miss Cooke 
died in Singapore. Her name is still a household word with many 
ni the place, as she did a great deal of work among the European 
Police force and Soldiers and Sailors. After her death Miss Ryan, 
who had been for very many years associated in the work with 
Miss Cooke, carried on the School for two years until November 
1897, when Miss Gage-Brown came from England. In the beginning 
of 1901 there were sixty-two Chinese Girls in the School. 


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582 Ayiecdotal History of Singapore 



THE followin>^ is part of a long account of a ball given in th 
Assembly Rooms on Monday, the 6tli February, by Governo 
Butterworth and Mrs. Butterwoi-th to commemorate the celebration c 
the thirty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Settlement :- 
"The ball-room was very tastefully fitted up, the principal decc 
ration being a large transparency, representing, in one division, Singa 
pore as it might be supposed to appear before it became 
British possession, thick jungle clothing the whole landscape, and th 
only indication of the presence of man being one solitary fishiiij 
prahu in the bay, adding, if anything, to the feeling of lonelines 
and desolation. In contrast to this, the other division shewed u 
Singapore in 1854. The sombre jungle had disappeared and wa 
replaced by the warehouses and residences of our merchants ; an( 
Churches, Court-houses, and Schools told that order and civilisatioi 
had been firmly established, while the residence of the Grovernor 
on the eminence overlooking the town, presided over the whole 
Instead of the solitary prahu in the harbour, ships of every si» 
and form, from the graceful clipper to the clumsy junk, anc 
numerous native crafts, crowded the foreground, and completed tin 
striking contrast. The whole was executed by Captain Dun, of tin 
43rd M. N. I., and does great credit to his taste and abilities »ii 
an artist. In front of the transparency a pedestal supported tli^ 
bust of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore 
Dancing was commenced at 9 o'clock, and at half-past eleven the 
company proceeded to supper, wliich was laid out in the lowei 
room, whore two long tables afforded ample accommodation to thi 
whole of the guests. After supper the health of the Queen wai 
drunk in the loyal manner which is characteristic of the Singa- 
pore community. Colonel Butterworth then rose and spoke nearl) 
as follows : — 

^^ ^ We are assembled here this evening to commemorate the form- 
ation of this Settlement; and when we picture to ourselves what J 
daresay is remembered by the honourable gentleman opposite me 
Mr. Purvis, as well as by my most highl3' esteemed and excellenl 
colleague, Mr. Garling — whose signature I find attached to the 
first ofiicial document on the records of this Station, dated 6th 
February, 1819 — I say when we picture to ourselves the appearance the 
island then boro, and contrast this with the aspect it has now as- 
sumed, we cannot but feel profound admiration of the consummate 
judgment and wonderful foresight displayed by that eminent states- 
man, whose name I mention with every degree of reverence ai^" 
respect — Sir Stamford Raffles — a respect 1 propose to testify in a 


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1854 583 

manner which I am sure will be as pleasing to this community, as 
^'ratifying to myself. I refer to my intention of designating the 
lighthouse, about to be erected on the Coney, at the entrance of 
the harbour — the ^' Raffles Light-house '' — in memory of the Founder 
of Singapore. Here there have been no adventitious circumstances, 
such as the discovery of vast mineral deposits, or any very favour- 
able agricultural results, to aid the advancement of this Settlement — 
nothing, in fact, but what that great man foresaw and foretold, 
when he selected this spc»t for its geographical position, and, step- 
ping in advance of the age, pronounced it to be a Free Port- 
looking to its becoming the chief emporium in these seas for British 
merchandise, and the produce of the Indian Archipelago. How 
fully this has been realised, a glance of our ' Trade Statements ^ 
will satisfactorily shew. It will therein be seen that at the expiration 
of the first five years, the Imports and Exports were valued 
at two and a half millions sterling; that at the close of the next 
ten years they amounted to three and ;i quarter millions sterling, 
and on the termination of the subsequent ten years, to five 
millions ; and by the last returns^ to six and a half millions, exclusive 
of goods transhipped — an advance regular and unprecedented — whilst 
in place of the few prahu6 which might be seen in 1819, no less 
than 1,068 square-rigged vessels and 2,860 native boats visited this 
island during the past year. At the close of the last Chinese war 
and the opening of the five ports, the culminating point of the 
Singapore trade was stated to have been reached. vSince then, how- 
ever, it has increased by a million sterling. Again, on the estab- 
lishment of the colony of Labuan, the like evil prognostications arose, 
but Singapore is now more prosperous than ever, the Imports and 
Exports being greater at the end of the last ofl[icial year than at 
any time since the formation of the Settlement. Now, Ladies and 
Gentlemen, let me ask you to drain your glasses, in drinking to the 
continued prosperity of Singapore with Free Trade in its fullest 
integrity.' '' 

*' Mr. Purvis then addressed the company as follows : — ' I am very 
sure that nothing can be more gratifying to a large portion of this 
company than the very interesting speech of our worthy Governor, 
and I beg to assure Colonel Butterworth that the sentiments he has 
generously and warmly expressed on behalf of Singapore are duly 
appreciated. The hoisting of the flag, thirty-five years ago, is to all 
of us a matter of history, inasmuch as none of us were present on 
that interesting and auspicious occasion, but as a very few days more 
will complete the thirty-second year of my residence here, I may be 
said to have known the Settlement from its infancy, and when I look 
back to the day of my first landing here and contrast the then state 
of the Settlement with what it is at this moment, I do indeed see 
much to astonish me ; for it must always be borne in mind that we 
have had no auriferous soils to fall back upon, or to aid us in 
our forward march, and yet Singapore had a hidden treasure which 
has happily developed itself in industry and intelligence ! For it is to 
those sources, aided by a liberjil system of (rovernment, that Singa- 
pore is indebted for the proud position she now holds, and so long as 


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584 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

that system shall be maintained^ so long will Singapore continue to 
flourish and the Government be respected by every nation and people 
with whom we may hold intercourse. On a recent occasion I alluded 
to the 'true interests ^ of the Settlement, and I will now mention 
one of the most important. It is this: — ^To preserve Singapore in all 
integrity a Free Port ! The principles adopted by Sir Stamford Raflles, 
he left as a legacy to Singapore for its rule and guidance, and as the 
Government are trustees to the bequest, I feel assured it will be faith- 
fully carried out.' " 

The following remarks in the Free Press in March, are worthy 
of notice in the light of the present day, and the progress that the 
Native States have made since Sir Andrew Clarke adopted the policy 
of assisting them : — "After Raffles and Crawfurd, we had a succession 
of oMicials who were either imbued with the prejudices and feeling> 
of the higher authorities, or wer(» of too little weight at head-quarter? 
to induce any great degree of attention to their representations. 
They knew that the vSupreme Government did not wish to have 
any trouble regarding the politics of a quarter so distant from the 
seat of Government, and they very dutifully shaped their line of con- 
duct accordingly. Hence a course of utter neglect towards the Native 
States in our vicinity. These States have been steadily retrograding, 
and we have never made the slightest effort to arrest their decay, 
although it is very evident that a systematic and judicious inter- 
position on our part might have told powerfully in promoting their 
welfare. The rich natural resources of these States have, therefore, 
remahied utterly neglected, or only partially and most defectively 
availed of. And this has proved directly prejudicial to Singapore, 
for had these States improved in their resources, their produce would 
have been greater and their capability of consumption more extensive, 
and while their produce would have flowed into Singapore, to the 
same market they would have resorted for their supplies of those 
articles of luxury or utility which their own industry did not furnish, 
but which it enabled them to procure from elsewhere. In some 
cases the conduct of the Government has been even of a. more re- 
prehensible character. Witness the whole of the course pursued in 
regard to Keddah, which is so justly reprobated by Raffles in the 
extracts before us. In that case avc not only refused that assistance 
to Keddah which we were bound by treaty to afford, but we actually 
joined with its ruthless oppressors in destroying it. The consequences 
have been that it has diminished in population and resources, that 
its government has been feeble, and that in place of benefiting us 
to any extent by its commerce and industry, it has only proved an 
asylum and hiding place for the bands of robbers who have for 
many years infested our territories in Province Wellesley. Every- 
where else we And the Native States, which we have so completely 
neglected, feeble and despotic in their governments, their populationiS 
diminishing and their trade dwindling away. Yet in their fertile 
alluvial lands, forests abounding with valuable natural productions, 
and soils rich in minerals, might be found the sources of a soliii 
prosperity won- the enorgio of their inhabitants onlj' stimulated by 
judicious encouragement from our Government, our relations with 


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1854 585 

them so formed as to allow others to turn these advantages to ac- 
count with a reasonable prospect of security to life and property." 

This was the year of the biggest Chinese riots that have been 
known in Singapore, which upset the whole island for ten or twelve 
da.ys. It arose between the Hokiens, from the province of Hokien 
in China, and the Teo Chews from tlie province of Quantung, be- 
cause the Hokiens refused to join in a subscription to assist the 
rebels who had been driven from Amoy by the Imperial China 
Troops. We proceed to give an account of them at some length, 
with the proceedings that subsequently took place in connection with 
them. The riots arose, as they have done since, without any ap- 
parent cause, Hs the small dispute which commenced them was not, of 
course, the real rasw- belli, which originated in the proceedings of the 
Secret Societies, with a predeterniination to fight out their quarrels 
in spite of the authorities. There were 400 or more persons killed, 
a great number wounded, and about 300 houses burned. The police 
force proved to be in good order and quite equal to what could 
be expected from their small number as compared with the thousands 
of Chinese. The military in the Settlement only numbered about 
800 in all, and after providing for the necessary guards there were 
only 150 to 180 men available. The whole community turned out as 
special constables, and to them, as in after times, the return to law 
and order was principally due. 

On Friday, the 5th May, about mid-day, a dispute arose between 
two Chinese, the one a Hokien man and the other a MacdiO man, about 
the weight of a catty of rice which the one was selling to the other. 
High words ensued, and the quarrel of each w«s quickly adopted by 
his countrymen among the bystanders. Blows followed, and the 
report bein<r rapidly circulated through the neighbouring streets, the 
adherents of each faction came pouring in by hundreds to take part in 
the broil, which then assumed a very alarming character. The fight- 
ing spread into the adjoining streets, in all of which the shops were 
at once closed, and sticks, stones and knives were used freely on the 
streets, and bricks thrown from the upper windows whenever an oppor- 
tunity offered of assailiu<( their enemies on the street. Several shops 
and houses were broken into, rifled of their contents and the inmates 
maltreated, and the work of plunder once commenced would soon have 
become general throughout the town, had not the military made their 
appearance, after Mr. Dunman, the Superintendent of Police, had stated 
his inability to suppress the riot. 

Governor Butterworth had, unfortunately, thought very little of 
Mr- Dunman's apprehensions, and, in spite of his remonstrance, mounted 
his white horse, and rode into the town. It was probably Hill Street 
near River Valley Koad where he was pelted by the mob, who did not 
of course know who he was, and they had no quarrel with any Euro- 
peans ; but he rode into the row, and had to retire^ and a nephew of 
the Recorder, attempting to rescue a Chinaman who was being assault- 
ed, was knocked down by ii brickbat and badly hurt, and several others 
were roughly treated. The Governor then listened to Mr. Dunman's 
opinion, and the troops were sent forj when they cnmc, quietntss 
generally ensued, but, as they marched in a body, their effect was con- 


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586 Anecdotal Ri^iory of Siiigapore 

fined to one street at a time, and the fighting began as soon as they 
had passed. The Governor and Resident Councillor, with some of the 
Magistrates, also passed through several streets where the riot had been 
great-est, and, as might have been expected, their appearance was 
almost always followed by a cessation of the fighting and plundering, 
and, by degrees, the presence of the authorities and the soldiers pro- 
duced an air of quietness which seems to have generated a great mis- 
conception of the true nature of the disturbances that had taken place. 
The troops were dismissed to their barracks, and as the Chinese do 
not like to fight in the dark, the evening passed over without any 
signs of a serious intention to renew the riot. Many flattered them- 
selves that the aflfair was at an end, and that nothing more would be 
heard of it. 

The following morning, however, was calculated to undeceive all 
those who thought that the Chinese had had enough of it the day be- 
fore. They must have been busy organising themselves during the 
night, for in the morning with day-break the fighting and plundering 
began in different parts of the town, and, in spite of the Police, the shops 
and houses of many of the Chinese inhabitants were broken and 
pillaged. Wherever, in fact, a few of the one faction happened to have 
their houses or shops in a locality inhabited chiefly by the other, they 
were set upon at once, their goods either stolen or destroyed, and 
themselves severely bruised or wounded and in some instances mur- 
dered. A gentleman who was assisting in escorting the goods of a 
Chinaman to a place of safety was knocked down and severely cut 
about the face and head. The military were again called out, a corp.s 
of Marines landed from H. M. Ships Sybille, Lily, and Rapid, and 
although the troops were confined to marching in a body through the 
worst streets as on the day before, the presence of an armed force 
operated as a check upon the rioting, and during the day there was 
comparative quietness, the rioting being confined to desultory attacks 
upon passers-by in the streets. At ten o^ clock a meeting of the Euro- 
pean inhabitants was called for noon, and in the meantime a deputa- 
tion of them waited upon Colonel Butterworth to represent the serious 
character which the tumult was assuming. His Honour thanked the 
European community for their co-operation, and said that every exer- 
tion would be used by the authorities to put an end to the disorders 
that had occurred, and that with the assistance of the Senior Naval 
OflScer, he did not doubt they would quickly succeed in restoring quiet. 
He did not consider that the matter was so serious as was represent- 
ed, and thought he could manage it himself; another error which, as 
the result proved, was a serious one. 

At noon the Europeans met and determined to offer their 
services as special constables. They proceeded in a body to the Police 
Office, where they were met by the Governor and Resident Councillor. 
About seventy gentlemen, comprising the greater part of the 
European residents and a few of the commanders of merchant vessels 
lying in the harbour, were sworn in, Mr. W. H. Read being the first 
to be sworn ; he has written an account of the matter in his book 
at page 95, in the chapter called " The Chinese Secret Societies/' 
The Governor thanked them for the manner in which they had come 


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1854 '587 

forward to give their assistance and expressed his hopes that quiet 
would speedily be established. About fifty of the leading Chinese 
merchants and others were with some difficulty collected at the Read- 
ing Rooms, in Commercial Square, being escorted there by some of 
the special constables. They were addressed by the Resident Councillor, 
who exhorted them to use their influence in restoring order, and 
after some deliberation they signed a paper to that effect, but subse- 
quent events proved that they either possessed very little cgmmand 
over their countrymen, or that they were afraid to exert themselves. 
None of the shops were open, and the Oriental Bank and all the 
godowiis of the merchants were closed. 

On Sunday, a strong body of the special constables was ordered 
to be on duty by 4 o'clock in the morning; and it was fortunate that 
this was done, as there were evident symptoms that an extensive sys- 
tem of depredation had been determined on for that day. Probably 
the Chinese calculated that the European community would observe 
their day of rest as usual, and not come into town at all, or only to 
go to church at 11 o'clock. As day-light began to dawn, it became 
clear to the gentlemen on duty that an extraordinary influx of people 
must have taken place during the previous day and night. The regular 
police were wholly knocked up with the work of the two previous 
nights and days, and the body of special constables on duty had 
almost the entire charge of the town. They were divided into parties, 
each numbering eighteen or twenty men, and headed by two Magis- 
trates, and when day broke upon their patrols, appearances were any- 
thing but encouraging. Few Chinese ventured into the streets at first, 
but in Circular Road, the upper part of Market Street, Teluk Ayer, 
and other places in the vicinity, there seemed to be a complete fer- 
ment within doors. In some of these places the houses appeared to 
be crammed full of men, and all wei'e convinced that but for the 
presence of the special constables, part of the town would have been 
pillaged, and not improbably burnt down by the hundreds of men 
whom the heads of the Secret Societies had called in from the jungles 
and the junks in the harbour. A little before six o'clock, an at- 
tempt was made to commence operations by plundering a house at 
the corner of Circular Road and South Bridge Road, but luckily 
one of the patrolling parties happened to be near, and were in time 
to prevent it, and to disperse the mob. Considerable rioting took 
place in Philip Street (where the rioters were armed with knives 
and swords). Market Street, and Amoy Street, where a party of 
seven special constables and four police peons took upwards of fifty 
of the rioters into custody. 

Colonel Butterworth and the authorities now became thoroughly 
awake to the extent of the danger which threatened. All the 
'piikaU and other Chinese boats, which were swarming with men and 
afforded the most convenient receptacles for plunder, were ordered 
into the middle of the river to prevent communication with the 
shore, and seven boats belonging to the men-of-war were kept row- 
ing about to prevent any attempt at landing, and other signs of 
more prompt action became apparent, should any further attempts at 
plunder be made. These measures and the attitude assumed by the 


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58^ Anecdotal History of Singapore 

aubhorities and European community appeared to frighten the rioters 
from any further serious attempt in town, and they then betook 
themselves to the suburbs and country in the vicinity. In the after- 
noon a party of Hokien men, who had been to procure rice, were 
attacked by some Teo-Chew men and robbed of their provisions ; 
but tlie Hokicns having got a reinforcement from some of the plan- 
tations near, and accompanied by the Police, succeeded iu beating 
their opponents, one of whom was killed. Ten or twelve of the 
Teo-Chew men were taken into custody. The opium shop from which 
these men had rushed out was burnt down the same evening, pro- 
bably by some of the Hokien men. About eight in the evening an 
armed party of Chinese with banners and gongs made their appear- 
jiiice at Kochore, defied the police to fight, and proceeded to break 
open and pillage the houses and shops of some of the inhabibmtb. 
The constables fired over their heads at first, but that having no 
effect the officer ordered his men to fire upon them before they 
would disperse. Two men were shot dead, and severnl were wounded. 
In the town all remained comparatively quiet during the night, botli 
the Marines and Sepoys being posted in the town for fear of any 

The scene of operations appeared on Monday to have been fairly 
transferred to the country districts, and murder, burning and pillage 
prevailed in all directions. In the Tanglin district, a number of 
houses and bangsah were attacked and burnt, several persons were 
killed, and numbers wounded. In the Bukit Timah district the Police 
stationed at the village of Bukit Timah were threatened with an 
attack by a large body of men, and were at last so closely pressed 
that they were obliged, in self-defence, to fire upon the Chinese, 
general of whom were wounded. 

Mr. Cluff, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, having proceeded 
along Thomson Road for some distance beyond the Police Station 
at Chan Chu Kang, to ascertain the state o£ matters in that part 
of the island, was met on the road by a woman who reported that 
her husband and child had been murdered and their house burnt 
doAvn. She was put into Mr. Cluff^s palankeen, and after proceeding 
a little further on the road three Chinese were met, whom the 
woman declared to be of the party which had nmrdercd her husband. 
They were taken into custody by the Police. Several Chinese with 
arms were then met and apprehended, and Mr. Cluff returned to- 
wards the Station, but before he i-eached it a great many Chinese 
gathered round the small party and demanded the release of the 
prisoners, which Mr. Cluff refused, at the same time threatening to 
fire upon them if they continued to press so closely upon his party. 
The woman was then observed in the palankeen, and a rush made 
to get hold of her, the Chinese exclaiming that they must murder 
her also. The palankeen was much broken and battered in the at- 
tempt to get possession of the unfortunate woman, but Mr. Cluff 
at last succeeded in lodging her and his prisoners in the Police 
Station, which whs an attap-covered building situated on the slope 
of the hill. Here the numbers of the Chinese rapidly increased, and 
they threatened to burn down the Station unless the prisoners and 


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1854 589 

tlie woman were given up. Mr. Cluff at length thought it prudent 
so far to comply with their demand as to release the men who had 
been taken with arms in their hands, refusing at the same time to 
give up the others on any terms whatever. Having sent intimation 
of his situation to town, two Magistrates, with a pnrty of troops 
and some special constables, were sent in palankeens to his assistance. 
BtMiig joined by Mr. ClufB they proceeded to a village about a mile 
and a half beyond the Station, where the woman stated that the 
persons who had murdered her husband resided. On approaching 
the village a few of the special constables proceeded in advance 
for the purpose of drawing out the Chinese, and the latter were iu- 
flined to fall into the trap, but some Sepoys made their appearance at 
the*moment, and the Chinese dispersed into the jungle, where they 
could not be pursued. Some houses belonging to the rioters were 
burnt down and the whole party returned to town. 

In the Payah Lebar district, the persons belonging to the two 
tribes which chiefly inhabit that locality had entered into a compact 
that they would not molest each other, but the Teochew people violated 
the agreement by turning out considerable bodies and attacking 
the Hoklen Chinese, who were taken quite unprepared as they relied 
on the engagement which had been made. A number of houses were 
plundered, several burnt to the ground, and the immates killed and 
wounded. A large body went to the Station which had been recently 
established at the village of Gay Ian g, and told the Jemadar that they 
intended to burn the village, that if he did not interfere they would 
not harm him, but if the contrary, he and his party would all be 
put to death. The Jemadar refused to parley with them and on 
'heir attempting to attack the village, fired several times, after which 
tlie Chinese retreated. One man was killed and several wounded. 
AH the Chinese pu1caf.*< were that evening turned out of the river 
by a pni-ty of special constables. 

On Tuesday, a number of houses were burnt in Tanglin, and 
persor.s killed or wounded. One of the magistrates on his way to 
town iiaving learned that a party of some hundreds were advancing 
ironi Bukit Timah, immediately turned back, and assisted by four 
special constables and a few peons, Boyans, and Chinese, formed 
a barricade at the first Station on the Bukit Timah Road. They 
then advanced along the road towards Bukit Timah, and near Cluny 
encountered a large body of Chinese, armed, and having gongs and 
banners. This party was driven back for some distance, shots being 
exchanged with them. They, however, so greatly outnumbered the 
uiaglstrate's force that the latter was obliged to give way for about 
one hundred yards, but Constable Berthier with a party of peons 
at this time came up, and thus reinforced they returned to the 
attack and succeeded in driving back the Chinese, who at last 
took shelter in a hangsal and some negotiations ensued. In the 
meantime, another party, consisting of a Magistrate, a number of special 
constables, and police peons, &c., went round by the hills and through 
the jungle. They met a very large body of Chinese, whom they re- 
peatedly fired upon and at last forced to give way, some taking to the 
jungle, but the greater part retiring upon the other body of their 


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590 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

countrymen, whom tliey joined in the bangsal. Fifteen Chinese were 
killed in this affray, and many more must have been wounded. 

A detachment of troops was sent out to help them, but beinjr 
without a guide, missed its way and did not join the specials until 
the evening. In the Payah Lebar and Siglap districts, the unfortu- 
nate Hokien people continued to suffer severely, their huts being 
everywhere burnt by their enemies, who murdered men, women and 
children. The corpses in this and other localities were found in many 
instances friglit fully mutilated. A Magistrate with a party of fifty 
Malays, &c., went out to Thomson Boad, from whence the\' fi>llowed 
a number of armed Chinese to near Serangoon, but owing to the 
obstruction offered by the jungle they did not succeed in bringing 
them to a stand. Several prisoners were taken. In the evening a 
party of forty Malays were sent to Siglap to reinforce the police. 
A party of some hundreds of Chinese, armed, and having flags, 
gongs «nd horns, attempted to pass the Police Station at the fifth 
mile-stone in Thomson Road, in the direction of town, but the 
Jemadar and police peons stationed there opposed their progress, 
and on their still persisting, fired several rounds upon them, when 
they retired. They afterwards returned to within half a mile of the 
Station, but finding that the police were on the alert they did not 
attempt to advance. One of the special constables, Mr. Rohde, an 
assistant in Apel & Co., who accompanied one. of the parties, received 
a stroke of the sun, from the effects of which he died the same 

In the evening, at about seven o'clock, the Police were fired 
upon from a house in Church Street at a short distance from the 
Police Office, on which Mr. Dunman, Sitting Magistrate, proceeded 
to the spot with a party of Sepoys and having read the Riot Act, 
the house was fired into and then entered, a quantity of arms being 
found in it, and several prisoners taken. One of the special consta- 
bles, Charles Cashin, had the end' of one of his fingers carried 
away by a shot from this house. In the next house, which was also 
entered, a Chinese trader of some influence and standing was apprehended, 
there being a large quantity of arms in it. At a later hour, some 
special constables detected a party of Chinese in the act of setting 
fire to a house in Teluk Ayer. The greater number escaped, but 
about a dozen were apprehended. In the course of the night two 
of the special constables, while on their way to Commercial Square, 
were fired at, one in Market Street, but they both escaped without 
injury. During the night, a Chinese was found murdered in Circular 

The following proclamations were issued by the Government on 
the 6th and 8th :— 

Seyeml evil disposed persons haviug caused a disturbance between certain 
classes of the Chinese population, the Governor of the Straits Settlements calls 
upon all Chinese interested in the peace and quietness of the town, to aid him 
in putting an end to this feud. 

With this object in view, all persons fuund fighting with sticks or throwing 
stones will be apprehended and punished according to law, and all householders 
giving shelter to such persons either directly or indirectly, shall he forthwith 
apprehended and prosecuted. 


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1854 591 

The Governor does not wish to resort to the aid of the military, but if these 
distnrbancefl continue the parties concerned must abide by the consequences. 

During the present disturbances in town, all junks now in the harbour must 
anchor in the position which will be pointed out by the Master Attendant, wh" 
has authority to cause the removal of all such vessels as thereby directed. 

On Wednesday, the 10th, the disorder in the country districts still 
prevailed. It was resolved to despatch the steamer Eooglily with 
Sepoys and Malays to be landed at different points round the island 
so as to co-operate with the parties which had been sent out, and 
especially with a detachment of Sepoys under Colonel Cameron, which 
proceeded towards Buddoli, information liaving been brought in that 
the Chinese had collected in force near that place. Colonel Cameron 
and his party therefore started by land, and the Hooghly left in the 
afternoon.' It had been reported that the Chinese were on the town 
side of Buddoh, and it was intended that the party from the steamer 
should land at Buddoh and take them in the rear, while Colonel 
Cameron attacked them in front. It turned out, however, that tin* 
information was defective, as Colonel Cameron reached the convict 
lines at Buddoh without seeing any sign of the rioters. Here he was 
joined by the party from the steamer, and the convicts having stated 
that the Chinese were to be found further on, the party proceeded. 
The road about two miles beyond Buddoh was over a hill, and on 
the crown of this a barricade was found, placed across the public 
road so as to effectually stop all passage. It was not quite finished, but 
it was apparently intended to be made of considerable strength and 
was protected by an attap roof. No one was on the watch, or con- 
siderable resistance might have been offered. Colonel Cameron, who 
was on horseback on the right flank of the detachment, caught sight 
of about one hundred and thirty Chinese apparently waiting for 
dinner. For a minute they appeared stupified at the appearance of 
the military, and then bolted into the jungle in all directions. The 
soldiers came up at a run and immediately opened fire, but the 
jungle came so close up to the spot where the Chinese were found, 
that they were out of sight in a moment. Only four men were 
made prisoners. The place where the Chinese were found had a 
very large attap roof over it, apparently intended for a house which 
would hold some hundreds of people. Close to it was a new Chinese 
house made of wood, fitted up in a very neat style, with all the 
usual accompaniments of a Chinese dwelling, such as an altar, joss, 
&c. This, it IS supposed, was the residence of the leader of the party. 
In a comer of the large building was found a kind of cage, consisting 
of two stories, arid very strongly constructed, probably intended as a 
receptable for the more valuable plunder. A larger boiler was found 
full of rice, which was being cooked, and there was an abundance of 
fowls, pork, &c., besides two large barrels of arrack. A little further 
on, on the opposite side of the road, a new house was met with, 
surrounded by a strong stockade about twelve feet high, and from 
this and another hut near it, a number of Chinese were observed to 
flee into the jungle. The whole of these buildings were burnt down, 
and the stockade across the road having been destroyed, the party 
returned towards Singapore. 


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592 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The following proclaination was issued on the 1 1 tli : — 
The Governor of the Straits Settlements calls upon the Chinese to renienilMT 
that the British Authorities aro placed in this Counti-j to afford protection to n\\ 
classes, to whatever sect belonging, whether engaged as merchants, traders, shop- 
keepers, gardeners, gambier-plantcra, or coolies; from whom nothing furtlier i* 
required than to obej the Laws, and not disturb the peace of the commnnirj 
with their private quarrels, as some of them have been doing of late. 

These people must fvllj understand that this is not their country, and tbcv 
must learn to attend to their own business, instead of molesting each other hy goini: 
a}>out the country to destroy the houses and property of their neighbours, an-1 
that if they continue in the perpeti-ation of these outrages, they must t-xpeot to 
Ih> treated like madmen. 

The authorities have not. and will not take part with any sect or class of 
Chinese, but thev are determined not to permit fresh disturbances to take piaoi-. 
and it is therefore hereby notified by the Governor of the Straits Settlementi 
that all persons found committing acts of violence on their neighboure or their 
neighbours' property, or assembling with arms in their hands, will be hunted fmra 
place to place, until they arc taken or destroyed. 

Governor of Prince of WaUn* ManA. 
Singapore, and Malacca. 

On Thursday quiet prevailed in town. Business was being- fa>t 
resumed, many shops were opened, and the handicraftmen steadilv 
at work. From the country, the different parties landed from the 
Hooghly at Chan^i, Serangoon, l^homson Iload, and Kranji, returned 
to Singapore. The Changi division came upon the remains of the 
stockade destroyed on the previous day by Colonel Cameron, which 
was still burning. The party which landed at Kranji found the 
Chinese gathered in force with arms, and about twenty armed 
Chinese having fired .at them, they were obliged to return the 
fire. Two men were seen to drop down dead and one man was 
wounded in the arm. The headman of the village and some 
others were captured and brought to town. The people at the 
village said they had armed themselves, as they were afraid, having 
heard that the Hokien men were going to attack them that evening. 
This statement was so far corroborated by the fact that letters had been 
received in town from parties in tlie village in which the anticipaieil 
attack had been mentioned. 

1'he other divisions did not meet any opposition. The whole of 
the roads radiating from Singapore to different parts of the island 
were thus traversed from one end to the other, and ^vith good effect, 
as the Chinese are described to have been quite surprised at seeing 
these large parties of armed men approaching them from the back of 
the island. The Malays are said to have behaved very well under the 
European gentlemen by whom they were accompanied. 

It being reported that the Chinese were again assembling at 
the hangsal in Bukit Timali Road, where they had come to a stand 
on Tuesday, the detachment of military stationed in that quarter, 
accompanied by a Magistrate and some special constables and peons, 
went to the spot. The Chinese, however, had retired, but having 
found extensive preparations for feeding a large body of men, an 
ox stolen from a neighbouring plantation having been slaughtered 
and great quantities of rice boiling, as well as arms and ammuni- 
tion, the place was burnt. Tw^enty-two prisoners were taken. 


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J854. 593 

In the morning, Constable Berthier proceeded to Siglap with ten 
peons, and when near Doctor Little's bungalow, a Chinese reported 
that his friend had been killed at a hut near the bungalow. The 
constable proceeded to the spot, and found that the man had been 
killed by a sword cut across the face. Another Chinese gave infor- 
mation of another man having been murdered, and this corpse was 
also seen by the constable. The person who was said to be the 
leader of the gang by which these murders were committed was 
captured. It being stated that the band of Chinese who had plundered 
the district of Gaylang lived about two miles from Mr. Caldwell's 
residence. Constable Berthier, accompanied by Dr. Little and some 
other European gentlemen, proceeded in that direction. As they 
approached Mr. Caldwell's house they met eight or ten Chinese, most of 
them armed with muskets and spears. They said that they were 
running away because a gang of plunderers had threatened to burn 
their property. They were sent to Dr. Little's bungalow. As they 
approached the hangaal in which the guide said the band was con- 
cealed, they came upon about thirty Chinese armed with spears, two 
of whom carried flags. The party fired upon them, when one fell, 
and it is believed that several more were wounded. The man who 
fell was taken up to be conveyed to the house but expired on the 
road. Another man was taken who had been hit on the head slightly. 
Both of these men were identified by the guide as having been of 
the party which had burnt his house and murdered his brother. In 
the haugatal a quantity of arms were found, and from its whole 
appearance it was supposed to have been a refuge of the plunderers, 
and was accordingly burnt down. The party then returned to Siglap 
and from thence to town. 

In the evening about half past five o'clock a Bugis ran amok 
m Boat Quay, and stabbed no less than six Chinese, some of whom 
received very severe wounds. He then threw himself into the canal 
opposite Mr. Purvis' godowns, where he took shelter beneath the bridge. 
He was repeatedly called upon to come out of the water and give 
himself up, but refused, saying he wished to die and they had 
better shoot him where he was. As he was armed with a kris 
which he refused to surrender, and the tide was running up very 
>trongly, rendering it difficult to approach him in a boat, the police 
were at last ordered to fire upon him, but although thirty or forty 
shots were aimed at him, none of them appeared to take effect, and 
he was at last captured, after being severely wounded, while in the 
act of getting ashore, having swum a considerable distance up the 
canal. He was taken to the hospital, where it was found he had 
received twenty-three sword wounds, but not one bullet had touched 
him. He died shortly after 10 o'clock. 

On Friday, a Chinese was found murdered near the foot of 
(jovemment Hill. Two Malays were also murdered by Chinese in the 
Pay ah Lobar district. Several parties of armed Chinese were seen 
in this district and chased, but took refuge in the jungle, where, 
for want of guides, it was found impossible to follow them. A large 
force was reported to have assembled in the jungle, between the 
Seran^oon and Gaylang Roads. Four detachments of Sepoys, each 


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594 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

of twenty men, were stationed on Thomson Road near the fifth mile 
stone^ in the Tanglin District, in Gaylang at Dr. Little's buntralow, 
and on the Bukit Timah Boad at the house of Mr. M. P. Davidson, 
still called Dalvey. 

On Saturday morning a Chinese was murdered in the Tanglin 
district. The police tried to beat the jungle between the Gaylang and 
Serangoon Roads, but all the paths were found to be obstructed by 
trees being felled across them, the logs, by which the swamps are 
crossed, removed, &c. In various districts, besides burning down the 
houses, the nutmeg, cocoa-nut, and other fruit trees were cut down by 
the rioters. 

The riots subsided, after having lasted for ten or twelve davs, 
and murder, fire-raising, robbery, and wanton destruction of houses, 
plantations, gardens, and fruit trees, having happened daily during 
that time. 

There was great uneasiness at Malacca, all kinds of rumours 
being propagated there about what was occurring in Singapore. 
The Secret Societies in Singapore wrote to Malacca inviting their 
friends there to commence a riot, but without effect. A public 
meeting was held at the Residency. Mr. J. H. Yelge in the Chair, 
and resolutions adopted calling on the Government to take immediate 
steps to prevent similar disturbances there. 

In Johore, there was some trouble, as the coolies were short 
of rice, the supplies from Singapore being temporarily stopped, as 
all trade was suspended. 

The lock-ups and gaol were crowded with prisoners, zibout five 
hundred men having been arrested, and a special sessions was held on 
Tuesday, the 6th June, before Colonel Butterworth, Sir Wm. Jeffcott. 
the Recorder, and Mr. Church. The following were the Grand Jury : — 
Michie Forbes Davidson. — Foreman, 

Jose d' Almeida. 
James Mottley, 
Dunjeebhoy Honnusjee. 
John 8. Scrymgeour. 
Clement Fabian Demee. 
Cachick Moses. 
John Jarvie. 
John Purvis. 

William Stewart. 
Walter Scott Duncsm. 
Henry M. Simons. 
William Martin. 
John Purss Cumming. 
William Mactaggart. 
John Russell. 
F. Geo. Schmidt. 

Thomas Owen Crane. | Leopold Catteanx. 

Reinhard Ifittersliaus. M. G. Mackertoom. 

Charles H. Harrison. , A. James Spottiswoode. 

The followinjf are a few passages from the remarks to the Grand 
Jury made by Sir Wm, Jeffcott about tho riots : — 

" These people had hitherto lived peaceably together, transacting 
business with each other and living intermingled in the same streets. 
Without any apparent cause, however, a spirit of discord appears 
suddenly to have arisen amongst them, which on the oth of May 
last broke out in acts of violence, riots occurring in different parts 
of the town, and at length resulting in houses being attacked and 
plundered. This state of things continued for seven or eight days, 
although after the first three dfiys the rioting in town gradually 


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1854. 595 

diminished. The police were incessantly employed, the military were 
called out, and the marines landed from the ships-of-war : and with 
H most praiseworthy alacrity, the European inhabitants came forward 
and offered their services as Special Constables and had afforded 
most valuable assistance in preserving order, for which they were 
entitled to the gratitude of the community. 

"After the first two days, the disturbances spread into the country, 
where, his fjordship regretted to say, they assumed a very different 
character. The riotous proceedings there were much more serious 
and aggravated, and quickly led to the plundering and burning of 
property, and eventually to the destruction of life and the committal 
nf excesses of every kind of the most barbarous nature. The Grand 
Jury could easily understand how this difference should have taken 
place. While in town the people are comparatively civilised, the 
mass of the population in the jungle consists of men who have never 
for any length of time come in contact with Europeans or with the 
more orderly part of the town residents, and who live in a state 
of secluded semi-barbarism in the jungle, with little or no idea of 
what law or order is. When, therefore, the disturbances spread 
amongst them, they naturally plunged at once into far greater ex- 
cesses than had characterised the town population, and the consequence 
was, that for a series of days the rural districts were the scene of 
the most lamentable outrages — huts and villages being burnt down 
in every direction, and murders committed, many of which had come 
to their knowledge, while it was to be feared many more had been 
perpetrated but remained unknown. Another cause, perhaps, of the 
different character which the disturbances in the country had assumed 
compared with those in the town, might be found in the fact 
that wiiile in the town the two parties were nearly equal, in the 
country one of them had a great preponderance, and had the other 
party in a great measure in their power. '^ 

The Sessions lasted seventeen days. Six men were sentenced to 
death, but only two were executed; sixty-four were sentenced to various 
terms of hard labour, and eijjht were transported for fourteen years. 
There were about two hundred and fifty prisoners tried. 

In this year the Indian Council introduced a Bill to make the 
anna and pie of the copper currency in India, legal tender in the 
Straits for fractions of a rupee. The intention was to force out the 
dollar, and make a rupee currency ; and for this purpose the Treasury in 
Singapore were told to substitute the rupee for the dollar in their pay- 
ments, which was partially carried out from May to the end of the year, 
at the exchange of fi«. 220 per §100. The Free Preaa remarked on this 
as follows: — "The present Bill is but a step further in the same 
direction, and it behoves the community of this place, as well as 
the two other Straits settlements, to lose no time in offering their 
determined opposition to the progress of these mischievous and most 
ill-judged measures. We dare not hope that much regard will be 
paid. to any remonstrances that may proceed from this, but it is due 
to the community itself to record its decided opposition to these 
measures, both in principle and detail, and the doing so will also 
prevent an argument which would otherwise certainly be brought up, 


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596 Anecdotal History of Singapore. 

when the future and still more decisive steps are to be taken^ that 
they had tacitly acquiesced in the change, A public meeting has 
been called for this day to consider the subject, and we sincerely hope 
it may result in unanimous and firm representation against such cause- 
less and wanton tampering with the life-blood of our commerce — the 
circulating medium." 

The rupee was first coined in 1835, and declared a legal tender 
throughout the territories of the East India Company, which included 
the Straits, but had no special reference to them. In 1844, the copper 
currency was extended to all the territories, but it never became 
actual currency in Singapore. 

The dollar, which had been the coin of commerce in the Archi- 
pelago for centuries before we obtained any footing in it, became by 
necessity the circulating medium in English places when they were 
established, and it has continued ever since to be the real currency of 
the Straits Settlements. Subsequent to 1835, the dollar fully retained 
its place, and, so far as the Straits were concerned, the two Indian 
Acts of 1835 and 1844 were a mere dead letter. In 1847, the then 
Government of India (actinfj with rather more enlightenment than their 
successors in 1854), accepted the state of things which they saw was 
unavoidable, and as the want of an authorised copper currency to re- 
present the fractions of a dollar, had long been productive of great 
inconvenience, and had led to the introduction of copper tokens or 
doits (manufactured by private individuals and of varying inferior 
value), coined in the Indian Mints the cents, half and quarter cents 
of a dollar for Singapore, and passed the Act of 1847 declaring them 
to be the 07ily legal copper currency of the Straits. These coins 
quickly superseded the former tokens and doits, driving them entirely 
out of the market, and formed the only copper currency of the 
Settlement both legally and actually. 

In this year therefore the Company^s silver rupee wm^s by law a 
legal coin in the Straits, but it never was used. The dollar was the 
only silver coin current in the Straits, and by the law of custom it wan? 
also a legal coin. The Company^s cent, lialf and quarter cent, were actu- 
ally and also by force of law, the only copper currency. No one 
was dissatisfied with this state of things. It worked well, and the 
commerce of the Settlement throve under it. The only thing 
desired was that the Hon'ble Company should coin a dollar of its 
own, with half and quarter dollars, and do away with some incon- 
veniences which arose from the want of silver of a smaller deno- 
mination, but no one in the Straits desired to get rid of these 
insignificant inconveniences by the use of the Rupee. 

In this state of matters, this Bill was brought forward to effect 
the following alterations : — 

First. — The dollar and the rupee were to remain as before — ^both 
legal coins. 

Second. — The cents of a dollar, and half and quarter cents, 
were no longer to be the only legal copper currency. 

Third, — The Company's pice, double pice, half pice and pie, 
were to become a legal copper currency along with the cent and 
its parts. 


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1S54. 'Sd? 

Fourth, — Each of these two copper currencies was to become a 
lecral tender, not only for fractions of its own representative in 
silver, but also for the other silver coin. That is, cents were to 
remain a legal tender for fractious of a dollar, and were to become 
a legal tender also for fractions of a rupee ; and pice and pie, 
besides becoming legal tenders for fractions of a rupee (which at 
that time they were not in the Straits), were to become also a legal 
tender for fractions of a dollar." 

A public meeting was held on the 13th October, at which the 
following resolutions were passed : — 

Proposed by W. H. Read, and seconded by T. H. Campbell: — 
"That this meeting regrets that the former representations which 
have been submitted to the Bengal Government on the subject of 
the currency have not met with the attention and consideration to 
which, it is submitted, they were entitled, and it deprecates the 
introduction of the Company's Rupee as an unlimited legal tender, 
at a fixed rate, as injurious to the trade of the Settlement, and as 
inexpedient and impolitic under any circumstances.^' 

Proposed by J. Jarvio, and seconded by W. Mactaggart : — ** Tliat 
this meeting objects in the strongest manner to the introduction of 
the copper coins at present current in continental British India, as 
cumbersome and totally unsuited to the requirements of the Straits 
Settlements, and opposed to the system of decimal currency now in 
the course of being introduced into Great Britain, and at present 
existing in this Settlement." 

Proposed by M. F. Davidson and seconded by Mr. Allinson : — 
'That this meeting recommends that a petition embodying the pre- 
vious resolutions be laid before Parliament, and that the following 
gentlemen be appointed as a committee to draw it up : — Messrs. Purvis, 
Jarvie, Read, Logan, and Guthrie. 

A petition was drawn up to the Legislative Council of India, and 
the following is the substance of the letter sent with it to the 
Governor : — 

" For many years past (and in regard to Fenang and Singapore, it may almost 
he said, since their commencement) the cun-ency of the Straits Settlements has 
))een the dollars of 100 cents. Con8idei*able inconvenience was occasionally experi- 
enced from there being no regular copper cuirency, the want of it, in Singapore at 
leauit, being supplied by tokens or doits, imported from England, and which had a 
^ery extensive circulation over the Indian Archipelago, having a varying value of 
from 360 to 600 to the dollar. In 1847, however, a convenient copper currency was 
furnished by the Indian Government in the form of a cent, half and quarter cent, 
and these have since been found perfectly adapted to the purpose required, the 
only matter of complaint being an occasional short supply. These coins are not 
'mly the exclusive copper circulating medium of the Sti*aits Settlements, but have 
obtained a considerable currency in various Native States in the Archipelago. 

" The Supreme Government has proposed at different times to introduce the 
Indian currency into the Straits Settlements, but has refrained from canning this 
into effect in compliance with the strongly expressed opinion of the inhabitants 
against it. During the course of last year, the subject was again revived, but 
although all classes of the community wei'e found decidedly opposed to the intro- 
faction of a rupee curi'ency into the Straits, the Supreme Government has so far 
persevered in its intention as to make it imperative that all payments from, or 
sTuna received by, the local treasuries should be in rupees. This experiment has 
^uUy confirmed the unfavourable anticipations which wore formed regarding the use 
'»f the rupee as a circulating medium, it having produced much general incon- 


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598 Anecdotal Hiniory of Singapore 

Vfiiience and inflicted berious loss ou those pai-ties who, from their p^^cition in 
rejjjard to Government, have been obliged to accept payments in rupees. 

"The rupee and its fractional parts, whether of silver or copper, we are con- 
vinced, ^iU never become accf'ptable in these Settlements as a circulatini^ mediom, 
and any attempt to force them upon the community by legiBlativc enactment 
cannot be too strongly deprecated, as it will, without doubt, seriously injure trade 
antl give rise to very geneitil inconvenience. The decimal system of currency and 
accounts has long l>een established in the Straits, and has been found greatly to 
facilitate commercial ti^ansactions. To introduce the nipce as the legal cnrrency. 
would involve a complete change in this respect (for a double currency, so totally 
dissimilar as the dollar and rupee, we are convinced, would not be found compati- 
ble) and would be an abandonment of a system, the superior advantages of which 
are now so fully recognised and which it is so anxiously sought to introduce int<» 
Great Britain and other countries where a different one now prevails. 

"If the Supreme Government, instead of imposing upon these communities 
a currency which meets with general disapproval and which can only be produc- 
tive of serious evils, were to issue a Company's dollar, and fiftj, twenty-five and 
ten cent pieces (similar to those coined by the Bengal Grovernment in 1787 for 
Prince of Wales' Island) a boon of the greatest value would be conferred on these 
Settlements and (with the present copper currency of cents, half and quarter 
cents) as perfect a monetary system as could be desired, would be established. 

"Not only, moreover, would this currency be of the greatest value to the 
Straits Settlements, but we have no hesitation in asserting that it would be found 
highly profitable to Government, as the dollar, and half doUai*at least, would become 
popular not only over the whole of the ArchipeLigo and adjacent countries, but 
would, in the opinion of the most experienced merchants, in a very short time 
become the chief circulating medium of European commerce in China if not of the 
whole Chinese Empire." 

The question of the currency and of a British dollar for the 
Straits, continued to be agitated for some time, and caused great dis- 
cussions in the Council in India. In England the old veteran Gover- 
nor John Crawfurd, with a number of old Singaporeans, including 
Messrs Nicol, Guthrie, Gilman, Fraser and Paterson, waited upon the 
Board of Control, and went a long way to convince the mind of the 
President; and on the receipt of the advice of their proceedings, a 
public meeting was held liere on the 11th August, 1855, with Mr. 
James Guthrie in the chair, at which a long list of resolutions were 
passed, copies of which were sent to all the Chambers of Commerce 
in any way connected with the Straits, and petitions were sent iu 
January, 1856, to both Houses of Parliament. Mr. Crawfurd took the 
matter up co7i aviore, and the petition to the House of Lords was 
taken charge of by Lord Albemarle, Admiral Keppel's brother, by whom 
on Monday, 21st April, 1856, the following notice was given : — 

" The Earl of Albemarle to present a petition from the European, 
the Chinese, and other Asiatic merchants of Singapore, remonstrating 
against the introduction by the Government of India of a novel and 
highly inconvenient currency instead of a lonjz: established, convenient, 
and satisfactory one ; thereby throwing confusion into the commerce 
of that and the associated British Settlements in the Straits of 

The petition to the House of Commons was plnced in the hands 
of Mr. Gladstone, and the Free Press remarked that it was hoped the 
Court of Directors would be convinced, by the steps that had been 
taken, that Singapore would never submit to having the barbarous 
monetary system of India ( — 1 = 16=12 — ) substituted for that (1=100), 
which had so long prevailed ! 


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1854. 599; 

The Earl of Albemarle gave a very admirable explanation of the 
news of the mercantile coramaniby here, and state* the case with 
mach ability. On the 1st July, 1856, another public meeting was held, 
ilr. W. H. Read in the chair, and a number of resolutions were passed, 
amonor which were the following : — 

Proposed by J. d' Almeida, and seconded by R. Padday : — " That 
the manifest advantages of the dollar over the rupee currency having 
been thus clearly demonstrated by experience, this meeting earnestly 
urge the Supreme Government forthwith to coin a Company's dollar, 
and the sub-divisions thereof, in silver, of the intrinsic value of the 
]klexican dollar, say, 416 grains troy of silver." 

Proposed by A. J. Spottiswoode, and seconded by W. Howard ;— 
"That the respectful and cordial thanks of this Community be 
tendered to the Right Honourable the Earl of Albemarle for the deep 
interest he has evinced in the Straits Settlements, and for the 
eloquent address to the House of Lords in which he so ably exposed 
the evils entailed by the attempted alteration in the currency.*' 

The result was that the Bill did not pass, and the dollar con- 
tinued to be the legal tender in the Straits, as it is to this day. 
Tbe mercantile community gained their point, which was a vital one 
for the commercial interests of Singapore. 

The Chamber of Commerce then attacked the Government on the 
question, and in January, 1858, the Grand Jury, with Mr. John Har- 
vey as foreman, in their long presentment, spoke as follows of the 
matter: — *'The Grand Jurors take occasion here to refer to a subject 
which has been frequently pressed on the attention of the Government 
by the inhabitants of this Settlement, viz., the propriety of establish- 
ing a Mint at Singapore, and the Grand Jurors are persuaded that 
such an establishment for the coinage of British dollars, half dollars 
and quarter dollars, in silver; and cents, half cents, and quarter cents 
in copper, would be found most profitable to the Government, at the 
same time that it would eminently conduce to the increase of its trade, 
and to the extension of commerce generally, throughout the neigh- 
bouring countries." 

And the following was part of the letter of the Recorder, Sir 
Richard McCausland, sent into Gt)vernment, as usual, expressing his 
own opinions on that passage of the presentment : — " The pressure 
upon the poorer classes arising from the scarcity of decimal copper 
coins, with which they are familiar, has long been felt, and loudly 
complained of; and so long aero as August, J 856, hopes were held out 
by the Hon^ble Mr. Allen that this should speedily be removed, yet 
the evil has ever since continued in an increased degree. With 
respect to the establishment of a Mint at Singapore, the coinage of 
British dollars with their subdivision in silver, would greatly increase 
the trade of Singapore with all the ports and islands of the Eastern 
Archipelago. The constant demand for a supply of silver in the 
Ecist, as the circulating medium, would always keep it at a price that 
^ould amply repay the expenses of a Mint and the cost of coinage, 
whilst the very fact that British money could be procured for their 
produce would act as an incentive to the Native traders to resort in 
greater numbers than ever to the port of Singapore, and would add 


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600 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

considerably to the moral force and prestige of the British name 
throughout all the neighbouring states and countries/* 

To which the Governor, Mr. Blundell, replied as follows :— *' The 
Government Mints, both at Calcutta and Madras, have been directed to 
do all in their power to remedy the evil complained of in the want of 
copper cents and fractions of cents, and the subject of establishing 
a Mint either here or at Hongkong is considered to be under refer- 
ence to High Authority in England." 

And in May the Secretary to the Government of India wrote to 
the Governor here : — " I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of 
your letter No. 27, dated the 23rd ultimo, forwarding a memorial from 
the Chamber of Commerce at Singapore on the subject of the defici- 
ency of copper coins in the Straits Settlements, and referring to your 
previous letters relative to the suggestion that a supply of cents and 
fraction of cents be obtained from private Mints in England, and that 
a Mint be established at Singapore for the coinage of dollars and 
fractions of a dollar. 

"2nd. In reply, I am desired to inform you that the question of 
establishing a Mint in Singapore was referred jn April to the Hon'bje 
Court, who informed this Government in reply that they had been in 
communication with the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury on the sub- 
ject; that Sir John Bowring had recommended the establishment of a 
Mint at Hongkong, and that the subject was still under the consider- 
ation of Her Majesty's Government, promising to address this Govern- 
ment again when the decision of Her Majesty's Government was made 
known to them. A further communication will be made to you when 
the determination of Her Majesty's Government is made known to this 
Government by the Hon'ble Court." 

In September, 1858, the i'V-ee Press contained the following article :— 
" We learn from the China papers that the Lords of Her Majesty's 
Treasury have rejected the proposal of Sir John Bowring to establish 
a Mint at Hongkong for the coinage of British dollars. The reasons 
for this rejection arc : — 1st, that British sterling money has been adopted 
as a standard of value at Hongkong, and that to substitute a silver 
standard would render it necessary to re-adjust the rates at which the 
dollar should be received in payment of duties, &c. ; 2nd, that Sir 
John Bowring has greatly under-rated the cost at which a dollar 
could be coined; 3rd, that the benefits of the measure would only or 
chiefly accrue to the merchants of Shanghai if successful, while, if it 
failed, the cost would fall upon the revenues of Great Britain ; 4th, 
that the evils complained of might be solved by any united efEort to 
adopt the Mexican dollar as the recognised measure of value and 
medium of exchange, and that there is no fear of the supply of the 
Mexican dollars failing. 

*' The Treasury seems to be aware that IJritish sterling money can 
never become current in this part of the world, but it nevertheless 
refuses to give a British standard coin, regarding the success of which 
there can bo no reasonable doubt, and prefers to leave the vast com- 
merce carried on by its subjects in China and the Eastern Seas de- 
pendent for the supply of a circulating medium upon a distant foreign 
state. On this point the North China Herald well remarks :— The 


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1854. 601 

supply of Mexican dollars may be at present unlimited, but we have 
no security that this will continue, and as little that the coin will be 
maintained at its present purity. Both of these contingencies are 
more than possible ; we know that Brother Jonathan is, as he would 
say, "Bound to have Mexico one of these days," and even if this 
much coveted morsel should be long delayed, nothing will seem more 
natural to a Spanish- American Republic than to debase a coin for 
which there exists a great demand. Let either of these occur, and we 
are landed in all the evils formerly occasioned by the scarcity of the 
Carolus dollar, and that too at a time when our relations with China 
will probably be vastly more extended than they are now. At present 
the Mexican dollar comes to us by way of London, with very heavy 
charges in the shape of commissions, insurances, and costly overland 
freight. Most of this would bo saved by having a Mint on the spot, and 
the Sycee silver would afford a large supply of the material for coinage.'' 

In September was commenced the enquiry connected with Bajah 
Brooke and the pirates, which, though it had nothing directly to do 
with the history of Singapore itself, was a matter of considerable con- 
sequence to the place, and drew a great deal of attention in other 
places to the Settlement and the conduct of the residents. 

In 1849 the London Daily Nevs, the organ of Mr. Cobden and 
his party, being misled, commenced an attack upon Sir James Brooke, 
misrepresenting the operations by Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel and 
the Rajah as a brutal war of conquest, waged against tribes who were 
not at war among themselves; and asserting that the Sarebas and 
Sekarran pirates were innocent traders, and that the Rajah was using 
the English Navy for his own private ends. In September, 1849, the 
Free Press remarked that there was such a coincidence, even in words, 
between the statements in the Daily News and the Singapore Straits 
Times, that there could be no doubt they were both derived from the 
same source. In February, 1850, the Free Press spoke of the reckless 
misstatements and fictions of the Singapore correspondent of the Daily 
News, to which no credit was given by the Government officials, or by 
the merchants of Singapore. 

In July a Court of Enquiry was held in Singapore on board H. 
M. 8. Hastings, the flagship of Admiral Austin, c.b., on an officer of 
H. C. S. Nemesis, a doctor, for having furnished information to the 
Straits Times, relative to the proceedin<rs on the coast of Borneo in 
March and April, 1849. It terminated in the officer's favour; he him- 
self, and the ofiicers who gave evidence, sajing the statements contain- 
ed in the communications to the Straits Times were false and calumnious 
and denying all knowledge of them. The inference was that the state- 
ments were concocted in the office of the newspaper; but the reason 
for doing this did not transpire for some time. 

In August, 1850, the London Tivies reported that Mr. Drummond 
in the House of Commons had spoken of Henry Wise (who was a 
dismissed and discredited agent of Rajah Brooke) as having been an 
anonymous slanderer of Sir James Brooke for the preceding tnree years, 
and as wanting to turn Labuan and Sarawak into a means for his 
own Jigf/raiidisenient, and to make Sir James a jobber with him 
in the promotion of a Company. 

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602 Anecdotal Hustortj of Singapore 

In a long article in the London Times of 23rd July, 1852, on 
the subject of the debates in the House of Commons about the 
Borneo pirates^ it spoke of its having been the fashion to impute 
the inevitable slaughter that had occurred, as having been attributed 
by those who attacked Rajah Brooke, to the deliberate maligniry ami 
unbounded appetite for blood of the Governor of Labnan (Sir James). 
It went on to say that the whisper of private enmity soon increased to 
a public cry, and the manceuvres of a dismissed and discontented agent. 
It said that Pamphlets had been concocted, and a Clergyman or two 
incited to rouse the sympathies of peace meetings in favor of the 
pirates. It had turned out upon enquiry that the flotilla that had been 
attacked was manned by a set of as pitiless ruflians as ever sailed upon 
the sea, and the fact had been clearly established. And after referring 
at length to the facts in ^4ndication of the Rajah's character, and 
quoting statements made in the debate, and remarking that Mr. Hume 
had made himself the common cesspool into which every slander against 
Sir James Brooke might be poured, and that a wicked and infamous 
libel, written by Mr. Wise, had been put into the hands of every 
member of the House ; the article in the Timps concluded as follows : — 
" Mr. Hume, as will be seen by reference to his speech allowed himself, 
unconsciously no doubt, to be made the organ of conveying Mr. Wise's 
misstatements to the House. But this is not all. It was stated in the 
House last night that Mr. Wise had falsified Sir James Brooke's 
journal. Even twisted from its real meaning, what has been made out ? 
One single act of trading on the part of Sir James Brooke ? Not one. 
Twelve years have elapsed since he left this country. The real fact is 
that so far from havini; been a gainer, Sir James Brooke has diminished 
his private, fortune [The Times mic^ht more correctly have said had 
spent his whole fortune, £30,000], in his endeavours to carry out the 
civilization of the Archipelago, and the paltry salary he draws as 
Governor of Labuan is devoted to the same object." 

The agitation went on in the usual Exeter Hall fashion, fomented 
by well intentioned people, no doubt, made catspaws and fools of; and 
on 4th August, 1854, a notification was issued in Singapore, sig'ned 
in Calcutta on 7th July, by Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General, 
Sir Barnes Peacock and three others, appointing Charles Robert 
Prinsep, Barrister-at-law and Advocate-General of Bengal, and the Hon'ble 
Humphry Bohun Devereux, of the Civil Service, to enquire into certain 
matters connected with, and arising out of the position of Sir James 
Brooke as H. M. Commissioner and Consul-General in Borneo. The 
notification was of some length. A few days afterwards a notice was 
issued, signed by K, B. S. Robertson as Clerk to the Commissioners, 
that the sitting would conunence on Monday, 11th September. 

As will be seen from a remark in an article in the Friend of 
India quoted further on, the attack had been founded on an old letter 
or memorial which had been taken round Singapore for signature by 
Robert Carr Woods in 1851. As has been said on page 438, he had 
come from Bombay six years before, and his anticipations of miiking 
his newspaper a pecuniary success had not reached his expectations. 

The enquiry was held in what was then used as the Court House ; 
the very building is still standing, filled up with bales of paper and 


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1854. 603 

printing mafcerials, being now used as the storo room of the Govern- 
ment Printing OflBce, the new office having been built on to it in front, 
facing High Street. 

How the signatures to the letter had been obtained, and the 
object of Mr. Woods in forwarding it, came to light in the enquiry, and 
afterwards. The paper which was struggling on its early way had been 
subsidised by the detractors of the Rajah. 

The Commission was opened on Monday, 11th September, 1854, 
Sir James Brooke accompanied by Mr. W. H. Read entered and took 
his seat. Mr. Woods (Editor of the Straits Times) came forward and 
asked for heads of the charges. The Commission expressed disappoint- 
ment at the attempted delay and adjourned to Thursday when the 
Court House would not be required for any other purpose. On Thurs- 
day they sat again, when Sir James Brooke was present. Mr. Woods 
did not come. There was a pause for some little time, after which no 
•me appearing, Mr. Prinsep remarked "That it certainly appeared to 
the Commissioners somewhat extraordinary, that after the petition 
which had been sent from Singapore so numerously signed, and in 
consequence of which the present Enquiry had been instituted, no one 
should now come forward, either to bring a charge against Sir James 
Brooke or to offer any substantiation of the charges previously made. 
Her Majesty had paid a high compliment to those demanding this 
Enquiry against a servant upon whom she had conferred great dis- 
tinction, and it not only seemed extraordinary to him, but must appear 
very unaccountable to people at home, that after they (the Commis- 
sioners), had been sent here at great expense to enquire into the validity 
of these charges, there should appear not a soul to bring them before 
the Commission. As for what Her Majesty's Ministers would think it 
was not for him to conjecture/' 

They adjourned to Tuesday when Mr. Woods came, and a great 
deal of evidence was taken. One gentleman well known here, was 
Captain George Todd Wright, of the Government steamer Hooghhj. 
He said in reply to the Commissioners that he had signed the memo- 
rial. Mr. Woods had told him several of Sir James Brooke's friends 
had signed it, so he did so, saying " Anything for Sir James, I will 
willingly sign." He did not read it. Mr. Thomas Tivendale, also very 
well known here, was a witness. He had a shipbuilding yard on the 
river side, opposite where the Hotel dc TEurope is now, next to the 
present Government Printing Office. He said in reply to Sir James 
Brooke that he had signed the memorial; he would not have done so, 
bat he was misinformed by Mr. Woods. He told Mr. Woods that he 
had no time to read it and asked him to call on Monday, but Mr. 
Woods said he need not be afraid to sign it, as it was merely for the 
suppression of piracy on the const of Borneo, and had been signed by 
all the principal merchants in the place. He said if that was the case 
there could be no harm in signing it, and did so. He decidedly should 
not have signed it if he had known its contents. On Sunday 
he discovered its contents. On Monday he went to the Court 
House, to Mr. Woods, who was deputy sheriff at the time, 
ami asked him to take his name out ; he said it could not be 
done, it must go home with the others. Another witness, Mr. 


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604 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

George Julius Dare, said that he first sailed out of Calcutta to China 
in 1823, and between Singapore and China from 1840 to 1845, 
when he went home, and returned in 1846 and had been settled 
on shore in Singapore since 1848. He said that the description 
put opposite to his name on the memorial had not been made by 
him and he had never authorised it, and the statement in it was 
untrue, that he had traded exclusively with the Eastern Archipelago 
for ten years. Even witnesses called against the Rajah, whatever 
their private feelings against him, proved that he had been in the 
right. The proceedings as they went on, and they continued until 
nearly the end of October, became more and more decisive in favour 
of .the Rajah, and the whole thing broke down after 56 witnesses 
had been called to support a case against him. 

Years afterwards, in 1861, at the public entertainment given 
to the Rajah, which is spoken of further on, under that year, Mr. 
Woods, when everyone went up at the close of the evening to wish 
the Rajah good-bye, asked Mr. Read whether he thought the Rajah 
would shake hands with him. Mr. Read told the Rajah, who said 
''Let him come; let bygones be bygones.'' And as Woods walked 
back down the room with Mr. Read, he ^aid ** Well, it has not 
done him any harm after all, and it has educated my boys." Sub- 
sequent events shewed that the result was very unfortunate in each 

Mr. Woods lived to do much good work in after years for the 
community in Singapore, and died much respected, but the result of hi? 
earlier days in Singapore is expressed thus by Admiral Keppel in 
his last book, in 1899, (volume 2, pajye 62) in a passage headed 
*' Persecution of Sir James Brooke " : — " I cannot close my diary for 
this year without mention of the sore trouble in which my friend 
Brooke was involved. The commencement, indeed, of the persecu- 
tion from which he emerged stainless, but at the cost of mental 
anxiety which ultimately caused his death." The gallant sailor says 
also that Wise was improperly allowed access to the Rajah's journal 
which contained disparaging references to himself. Then came the 
formation of the Eastern Archipelago Company, without Brooke's 
sanction, which had only one object, to make money. A law suit 
brought by the Rajah against the Company in England ended in his 
favour, and a false certificate was shewn to have been put on the 
prospectus of the Company, out of which Wise had reaped a very 
large sum. He induced Mr. David Hume to take up the matter, 
being a man who liked to air a grievance, and tried to turn the 
tables on the Rajah. His object, it was thought, being to get the 
Rajah, Captain Keppel, William Napier and others, out of England 
in order to float the Company. 

Rather than refer to anything that was written in Singapore 
on the result of the enquiry, it seems better to turn to what may 
be fairly considered an independent expression of opinion. The London 
Times has already been referred to; the following passages are part 
of an article in one of the leading Calcutta newspapers. The Friend 
of India, on 9th November, 1854 : — " Sir James Brooke after clearing 
the Northern Archipelago of pirates, and after establishing the only 


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1854. 605 

orderly GrovernmeuL ever known in Borneo was suddenly assailed at 
home, by accusations of having butchered unoffending natives. The 
Aborigines Society took up the cause of the Dyaks. The un- 
scrupulous malignity of a dismissed agent was aided by the mistaken 
philanthropy of hundreds, and by the incessant invective of a news- 
paper. The Rajah was supported only by the House of Commons, 
the Ministry of the day, and the Indian public. The House twice acquitted 
him. But the tide turned. The coalition Ministry were anxious to 
conciliate the Rajah's opponents. On the strength of an old letter 
signed in 1851 by many residents of Singapore, they requested the 
Governor-General to appoint a Commission to examine into rumours. 
They found, on their arrival at Singapore, that the Commission was 
.^n absurdity. Not only there was no ground for the charges, but 
there were no charges at all. One individual did not remember why 
he signed it, another had done so because he had read stories in 
English newspapers ; while a Dutch Resident, who alike by instinct 
and policy was hostile to the Rajah, stepped forward in the name 
of humanity to defend him. At last Mr. Prinsep with just indig- 
nation reproved the conduct of those who on such grounds had 
asked for a Commission. A knot of individuals at Singapore have 
chosen to run down one of the most successful of British pioneers. 
They have accepted every calumny, rejected every reply, taken 
advantage of the clamour of a misguided section of the British 
public, and at last when the enquiry has been ordered, have shrunk 
from Bubstantiatiny^ their charges. We leave them to the contempt 
they have so assiduously earned/' 

These last remarks, which make an effective tail-end to an 
article, were fair enough of the name of the editor of the Straits 
Timei* had been written instead of *' a knot of individuals at 
Singapore ; " and much stronger language might have been fairly 
used. It has been said that this calumny of Sir James Brooke, 
founded on falsehood and strutted up with newspaper lies, is 
the one big blot on the history of Singapore. The cominnnity, 
however, were, in part, to blame. As soon as it was seen that the paper 
was propagating falsehoods, as must have been apparent ( see the case 
of the Court of Enquiry on board the Hastings ) the community 
had the remedy in their own hands ; but unfortunately experience 
shewed that, as in other places, a newspaper disseminating lies and 
slanderous remarks, even on those who are far above being affected 
by its knaverj', finds a class of readers who support and pay for 
it, for the gratification, it must be supposed, of their own idle 
curiosity. The opinions expressed in a newspaper are only of the 
value which the knowledge or judgment of the writer can give to 
them, he is but an individual, whose opinion, unless there is the 
opportunity to judge of his competency, may be worth nothing at 
all. As the vast majority of the newspaper reading public have not 
the discrimination to realize this, and some are so foolish as to 
take statements of opinion as incontrovertible, because they read 
them in print, it is the duty of those with more intelligence to do 
what they can to prevent the mischief by withdrawing from the 
paper what they contribute to the sinews of war, without which it 


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606 Anecdotal History of Singapore. 

cannot continue to misrepresent the truth, or the opinions of die 
public ; unless, indepd, it is subsidised for evil purposes by those 
who are willing to expend money in such a manner, in the hopes 
of gaining much more, on the supposition that the world is largely 
composed of foolish or ignorant people. 

Lastly the Calcutta Gazette of 28th October, 1855, reproduced iL 
the Free Press of 29th November, in a notification as long as that 
appointing the Commissioners, conveyed the opinion of Her MajeBty'- 
Government on their report. It completely cleared Sir James from 
the charges so long and so virulently made. It is too long to quote^ 
except one sentence : — " The enquiry which has ended in the com- 
plete exculpation of Sir James Brooke from the charges made agaiost 
him, has, at the same time, broujrht to light abundant evidence of 
the beneficial results of his administration of the affairs of Sarawak, 
which are exhibited by the establishment of confidence and the 
increase of trade, and are such as to deserve the approbation of 
Her Majesty's Government.*' 

The name of Charles Robert Prinsep was a household word 
in Singapore as early as 1842, though it is not known now whether 
he actually came here before he was sent with Mr. Devereux for 
the Brooke enquiry. It seems more than probable that he had 
been in Singapore many years before, because for years before this 
he had owned the Prinsep nutmeg estate, which Dr. Oxler 
estimated in July, 1848, at 6,700 trees. It extended from Stamford 
Road to Bukit THmah Road, as far inland as Cairn Hill, or there- 
abouts. Behn, Meyer & Co.'s people lived on it, in a bungalow 
on the hill where the Colonial Secretary's house is now ; and 
Charles Scott who looked after the Prinsep estate, lived in an 
attap house on the exact site of the present Government House, 
where, after his time, Mr. W. H. Read and his cousin Mr. R. B. Read 
were living when Governor Ord had the land bought to build 
the present Government House. 

When Mr. Prinsep came to Sinp^apore for the Brooke Commis- 
sion, he was almost in his dotajj^e and died soon afterwards He 
was much in favour of the Rupee currency, and had great jir^- 
ments with Singapore people about the Rupee and Dollar question; 
Devereux, the other Commissioner chaffing him, and adding fuel to 
the fire. 

At the time of the commencement of the Crimean War there 
were three men-of-war here, one corvette of 1,633 tons, the Sybille, and 
two sloops, the RajM and Lily, of about 400 tons each. There was 
very little alarm felt here; fortifications, or rather the want of 
them, were talked of, and the three men-of-war went out cruising 
occasionally. One result of the big riots and the Crimean war 
combined was the formation of the Volunteer Corps. A meeting 
was held in the News Rooms on Saturday, the 8th of July, to 
consider the proposal to establish a corps, Mr. John Purvis was in 
the chair, and he said that the lar^e attendance present showed in 
a favourable manner how the proposal had been entertained for the 
establishment of a Volunteer Corps. Believing that the feeling in 
its favor was general, he had taken upon himself to convene the 


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1854. 607 

present meeting. Although he ( Mr. Purvis ) was not at liberty to 
mention names, he believed the establishment of a Volunteer Corps 
had been suggested by the highest authority in India; and he felt 
assured that a measure of this nature would receive the hearty 
concurrence and co-operation of Governor Butterworth; indeed, His 
Honour had intimated his readiness to head the corps. The object 
of the proposed Singapore J^ifle Corps was, in cases of great 
emergency, to assist the Police in the preservation of order, and to 
resist the invasion of .a foreign foe. The readiness which all had 
evinced, in the recent Chinese eineutes, to stand forward and pre- 
pare to act at once, had been of signal service to the Government. 
The manner in which the Governor had expressed his sense of the 
patriotism which inspired and prompted them cheerfully to aid in 
the suppression of the riots, was a sufficient guarantee that nothing 
would be wanting on the part of the head of the Executive in 
consulting the wishes of the meeting. They were all aware, and 
ready to admit, that however valuable their services in the late 
riots, the good effected would have been much greater had they 
been regularly drilled, and accustomed to act in concert. To meet 
any future emergency, and to act with effectiveness, he trusted 
those present were prepared to incorporate themselves and establish 
a Volunteer Eifle Corps. 

After some desultory conversation, and the proposal and 
amendment of sundry propositions, the following resolution was finally 
passed : — 

Proposed by H. C. Caldwell and seconded by M. F. Davidson — 
^' That it is the opinion of this meeting that a Volunteer Rifle 
Corps will be of manifest advantage to the Settlement; that the 
following gentlemen do form a committee, viz., Messrs. Purvis, 
Guthrie, Napier and W. H. Read, to offer the services of the Corps 
to Government, and that His Honour the Governor be requested to 
propose a set of Rules and Regulations for the guidance of the 

Before the meeting broke up thirty-two signatures were affixed 
to the Volunteer roll, to which twenty-nine were soon added, 
making the total number 61. The name of Mr. W. H. Read was 
the first on the roll. 

The subscription in Singapore to the Patriotic Fund for 
the widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors employed in the 
Crimean war, was collected by Rev, C. Gladwin, the Chaplain 
of Singapore; and amounted to the handsome sum, in those days, 
of £900. 

Sunday, the 16th July, was appointed by Royal Proclamation to be 
held throughout India and the Straits as a day of general humiliation and 
prayer for the success of our arms in the Crimea. A few days after, the 
ships went out to look for a Russian transport that was reported to 
be near. It was supposed that a squadron of six Russian vessels was 
cruising in the China Sea. 

In the month of September, the P. & 0. mail from London was de- 
livered in thirty-four days, which was considered very remarkable ; and 
the paper said : *^ When the lines of Railway through France and Egypt are 


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608 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

completed we may expect to receive our mails from England in thirty or 
thirty-one days." They have since been delivered on one occasion in 
twenty days. 

The Assembly Rooms at the foot of Fort Canning falling into disre- 
pair led to the building of the present Town Hall which was not completed 
until 1861. The following extracts from the proceedings of the Municipal 
Committee explain how the change began : — 

" The Chairman submits the following letter with enclosure from the 
Trustees of the Public Rooms. The Committee highly approved of t he 
suggestion, to substitute for the present frail structure, a handsome build- 
ing (to be designated the Town Hall) commensurate with the commercial 
importance of Singapore, and will gladly, as Trustees for the public, take 
charge of the edifice when finished, and also contribute towards its con- 
struction, the amount to be thus appropriated to be determined by the 
Committee when the views of Government are known, and the extent 
of support which may reasonably be expected from the State and 
the conmiunity. 

To the Honourable T. Church, Esq., 

Resident Councillor, Singapore. 

Sir, — I am directed by the Trustees of the public 1*00018 to communicate to you 
that in consequence of the dilapidated state of the Public Rooms, a meeting of the 
shareholders U>ok place on the 9th instiint, at which a Report drawn up by the 
Tinfttee.s, was read and the following resolution passed : — ** That instead of rebuilding 
the public rooms by shares, a subscription be raised for the purpose of erecting a 
handsome building as a Town HJdl, to which it is to be hoped the Gorenunent and 
Municipal Committee will subscribe liberally, and on which condition the present 
shareholders abandon all claim to the gt-ound. and to what remains of the present 
building. The new building to be placed under the management of the Municipal 
Committee.'* From the Report mentioned abo^'c you will Iciim that the estimated 
cost of reconstructing the upper portion of the building amounts to about 1^,300, but 
should the proposal for a Town Hall be adopted, a much hii-ger sum would be neces- 
sary, as the building would require to be entirely new and of a size and appearance 
suitable to the wants of this increasing Settlement, and for this purpose five or f^ix 
thousand dollars it is considered would be rr-nuired. So large a sum as this there is 
noprobabilty of raising without the aid of Government and the Municipal Committe'-. 
but it is thought if they will come forward and together grant one half, that the 
other moiety could be raised by donation from the public. 

It is quite unnecessary to point out to you the great need there now exists for a 
building of this description in this Settlement, which may be applied to all public 
purposes, as that the want of it is veiy frequently felt. 

Tru«^ting therefore that the proposal will meet with your approval and snppoit. 

I have the honour to be Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 


Secretary, Public Rooms. 

Singapore, 24th October ^ 1854-. 

On 15th November a meeting of the subscribers was held at the 
News Rooms, Mr. Crane was in the chair. The subscriptions had 
amounted to §5,089 and at least §500 more was expected. A Com- 
mittee of Messrs. M. F. Davidson, T. 0. Crane, A. T. Spottiswoode, 
James Guthrie and Dr. Little, were appointed as trustees, and to enter 
into communication with the Government and Municipality for the 
purpose of carrying out the object, and to use their utmost en- 
deavours to obtain a site worthv of the importance of the proposed 
Town Hall. 


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1854 609 

The Grovernment and the Municipal Committee agreed to give a 
sum of money for a Town Hall equal to that subscribed by tlio 
eommanity^ and the present site was suggested as the most suitable. 
The Post Office and powder magazine were then standing near it. 
and it was said that the former ought to be put on the Square side of 
the river^ which was done many years after, and that the magazine 
ought to be removed from a place so dangerous to the dwelling 
Iioases in High Street. 

The presentment of the Grand Jury in November contained the 
following paragraph regarding the Court House, which was part of 
the present Grovernment Printing Office. Tivendale and Co., the ship- 
writ,'hts, had a yard where Hallpike Street is now. On one occa- 
sion when a Judge had newly arrived he sent the Sheriff to stop 
tlie hammering but the shipwrights sent to say that they were building a 
bout for Captain Keppel and had to finish it, and a compromise was 
arrived at by mutual concession so that the work of the Court might 
ffo on. 

"The Grand Jnry present this Court House as being in every 
respect unsnited for the purposes to which it is applied. It is, ns 
your Lordship designated it, a mere shed, squeezed in between the 
baiiding containing the Government Offices and tho back wall of the 
compound, by which wall alone, at the distance of a few feet, it is 
separated from an extensive ship-building yard, and it possesses 
almost none of the accommodation proper to a Court-room. There 
is almost no space for the public, and in the little that does exist, 
the usual convenience of seats is wanting — wooden trestles of the 
rudest description being introduced when any furniture of that kind 
is deemed necessary. The place is enclosed on one of its sides by 
ftoveminent offices, and on another side by the Chamber (so called' 
allotted to your Lordship ; and as the wall of the compound above- 
mentioned runs along the whole length of a third side, the conse- 
quence is that the Court-room is ill-ventilated, being in fao15 all- but 
inaccessible to any current of air, and the atmosphere [irt the Court 
is frequently pervaded by an effiuvium alike offensive and unhealthy. 
Another frequent and most unseemly result of the near proximity of 
tliis Conrt House to the ship-building establishment is that the voice 
of the Judge, the jury, the witness, or the advocate is occasionally 
80 completely drowned by the piercing and discordant sounds, as to 
interrupt the business, and place this Court in the extraordinary 
position of being forced either to submit to this disturbance of its 
solemn procedure, or to interfere with the private and vested rights 
of the citizen; for the Grand Jury are informed, and believe, that. 
the ship-building yard with all its noises, etc., existed on the same 
spot before the eretjtion of this Court House." 

Another presentment made by the Grand Jury in December 
alluded to a number of other grievances ; the inconvenient position 
of the Post Offic^ ; the state of the old Fish Market at Teluk Ayer ; 
fbe number of sago manufactories in the precincts of the town which 
fhen announted to thirty^ manufacturing nearly 8,000 tons a year; 
tlie want of bridle-paths across the island; the small proportion 
of native females, only one to eleven pf the population ; and 


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610 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

other matters. The three following: paragraphs we reprint at 
length: — 

"The Grand Jury again present the inefficient state of the drain- 
age of the town. This, like many otlier subjects of public com- 
plaint, hns frequently been presented by Grand Juries ; and, althou«rl» 
the Executive has as often expressed its desire to effect a reform in 
this respect, there has ns yet been nothing done towards an efficieia 
drainage upon a general and uniform plan. The air is still polluted 
throughout the length and breadth of the town by the sickening 
malaria arising out of a double row of open drains in every street, 
which are never thoroughly clean, and generally more than half full of 
filth. The Grand Jury are exceedingly sorry to feel themselves 
compelled to say that in this particular, which is universally admitted 
to be one of the most essential towards the health of large towns, 
as in all other and less important matters where the expenditure 
of a little money is required, there is a degree of dilatoriness and 
disinclination to act which is far from creditable to the Executive 
authorities, and which is undoubtedly one of the greatest misfor- 
tunes under which tliis Settlement has long laboured. 

"The last three heads of the Presentment may be said to fall 
within the sphere of the Municipal Committee, and along with these 
long-standing nuisances, the Grand Jurors beg to present the body 
called the Municipal Committee of Singapore. The members of this 
Committee are all nominated by the Government, two of these 
members are Government officials, and the Resident Councillor is 
Chairman ex-officio, with a casting vote in every equal division. As 
might have been expected from its constitution, and as its action 
has proved, it is a mere Government Bureau, whose object and effect 
is to render the raising of money from the public more easy, and 
its extraction from the Government for the public use more difficult. 
It answers these purposes so well as to stand seriously in the way 
of the public welfare ; and the Grand Jurors have therefore felt 
themselves called upon to present it, and to crave your LordshipV 
assistance in obtaining its reform; or, if that may not be, then its 
entire abolition. At present it serves only the purposes of a shield 
to receive and break the shocks which would otherwise fall directly 
upon the Executive authorities. 

" The Grand Jurors present that, though the population of the 
town and suburbs of Singapore amounts to close upon 70,000, and the 
trade aggregates nearly £10,000,000, there does not exist a Govern- 
ment Educational Institution of any kind, at least such as deserves the 
name. The Grand Jurors are aware that small donations are given to 
the Raffles Institution; but that is a school maintained by public 
subscription, and is utterly inadequate to the wants of the Settlement. 
There are also other schools, Protestant and Roman Catholic, but all 
of them are provided for l3y private subscriptions ; and the Grand 
Jurors are of opinion that it is most discreditable that a British 
Settlement which has so increased in population and in wealth, shonld 
have reached that point without any provision having been made by 
Government for the education and improvement of the mass of children 
who must be growing up in ignorance or vice.'' 


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1854 611 

It was in this year tliat tlie ice-honsn was first established, and stocked 
with ice from Ainerica, by Messrs. VVhampoa & Co. Small quantities 
had occasionally being brought from Batavia shipped in tin boxes! 

Some 56-pounder guns were mounted at Fort Fullerton, where the 
Post Office is now, and the concussion brought down the ceilings of the 
godowns, which led to a protest from all the mercantile firms near the 
Square, who said they should claim against the East India Company 
for any loss or damage to their property. The Free Press said 
that it was hoped that the Fort would speedily return to its former 
condition of a saluting battery, as it was useless against an enemy. 

It was in this year that Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the well 
known author of "The Malay Archipelago" came to Singapore, and 
was backwards and forwards on his expeditions as a naturalist until 
1862, when he returned to England, and published his book six years 
afterwards. It has run through a great many editions. He says in 
describing Singapore that few places are more interesting to a traveller 
from Europe, as it furnishes examples of a variety of Eastern races, 
and of many different religions and modes of life. Mr. Wallace used to 
live for weeks at a time with the Boman Catholic Missionary at Bukit 
Timah, going after birds and botanical specimens, and hunting for 
insects among the fallen trunks and old sawpits, which he says was 
nervous work, as tigers were heard to roar once or twice in the evening, 
and one might be lurking close by. He expresses the usual opinion, 
referred to more than once in this book, that tigers killed a China- 
man a day on an average. As bearing upon what has been said 
on pa^e 257 about the stipends and means of living of the Roman 
Catholic Priests, there is a passage in the book in which he speaks 
of the work done by the Missionary in whose house he stayed. He says : 
" He was truly a father to his flock ; he preached in Chinese on Sundays, 
had evenings in the week for discussion and conversation on religion, a 
school to teach their children, and his house was open to them day and 
night, and if they were in want he shared with them what he had. The 
result was his flock trusted and loved him, for they felt sure that he was 
their true friend, and had no ulterior designs in living among them." He 
says that the Missionary was allowed about £30 a year on which he lived, 
and the natives seeing him living with none of the luxuries of life, were 
convinced that he was sincere in what he taught, and had really given up 
home and friends, and ease and safety, for the good of others. The Rev. 
A. Manduit was the Vicar of St. Joseph's Church, at Bukit Timah, at the 
time Mr. Wallace speaks of having lived at the house attached to the 
Church. It was quite in jungle-land in those days. 

The firm of Peres, Zapp and Ritterhaus began in this year. The 
three partners were Carl August Peres in Solingen, and Rudolph Zapp and 
Reinhard Ritterhaus in Singapore. In 1858 it was called Zapp, Ritter- 
haus & Co. Mr. Bauer and Mr, Staehelin were afterwards clerks, and in 
1863 it became Zapp, Bauer & Co., and in 1867 Staehelin and Stahlknecht. 

In this year Kerr, Whitehead & Co. commenced business ; Mr. William 
G^raham Kerr being in Singapore and Mr. William Cullen Whitehead in 
England. The firm continued until 1858. Mr. Kerr died many years 
afterwards in Bangkok ; he had been a clerk in Martin Dyce & Co., before 
b? started business with Mr. Whitehead. 


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612 Anecdotal History of Singapore 


IX January, Colonel Butterworth went on a yisit to Calcutta^ 
and Mr. Blnndell, the Resident Councillor of Penang, took 
temporary charade tliere. The Governor was away about a month. 
In March, he resigned and left for Europe, and Mr. B. A. 
Blundell was appointed Governor ; Mr. Lewis, Resident Councillor at 
Malacca, to take Mr. BlundelPs place in Penang; Captain Henry 
Man, Superintendent of Convicts at Singapore, to be Resident 
Councillor at Malacca, and Colonel Ronald Macpherson, Superintend- 
ent of Convicts at Penang, to the same position in Singapore. A 
public meeting was held, Mr. Purvis in the chair, to prepare an 
address, and on Tuesday, the 20th March, addresses from the 
Chamber of Commerce, the Foreign Consuls, the European Commu- 
nity, the Chinese, Mahomedans, and others were presented to him. 
Shortly before he left, he laid the foundation stone of the present 
Town Hall, the account of which in the Free Pre»8 was as follows : — 

^' The foundation stone of the proposed Town Hall was laid on 
the afternoon of Saturday, the 17th March, by the Hon'ble the 
tiovernor, in presence of a large assemblage of the inhabitants. 

''Before commencing the ceremony, Mr. M. F. Davidson, the 
Secretary to the Trustees for the building fund, addressed the 
(lovernor as follows : — ' In the name of the Trustees and as Secretary to 
the Town Hall, I have the pleasing task of requesting you to lay the 
Fi)uudjition Stone of that building in which you have taken so jrreat 
an interest, and the ultimate success of which will be so much 
indebted to you. When you first came to this Settlement. Singapore 
had no place of public resort, and for general purposes it was 
necessary to have recourse to the private dwellings of the inhabitants. 
Soon after your arrival, encouraged by your patronage, and the 
liberal support you afforded the measure, the Public Rooms were 
built. These being no longer adapted to the requirements of this 
Settlement, the project of a Town Hall was mooted, when you again 
came forward, and not only by the exercise of your influence pro- 
cured a munificent donation from the Supreme Government, but it 
is to your exertions that we owe this highly eligible site for a 
building which, when finished, will, we trust, prove worthy of the 
situation. I now beg, Hon'ble Sir, that you will be pleased to pro- 
ceed to lay the Foundation Stone of the Singapore Town Hall.^ 

" Colonel Butterworth then proceeded to lay the foundation stone, 
and afterwards made the following address : — * I feel extremely gratified 
at having been requested to perform the pleasing office now com- 
pleted, of laying the Foundation Stone of your Town Hall ; and I 


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1855 613 

desire most earnestly to impress upon you, Ladies and Gentlemen, 
the great satisfaction I must ever derive from the reminiscence of 
this day, in the knowledge that I am thus associated with a build- 
ing which is to be devoted, not only to the grave deliberations of 
your Civic Senators, but also to the Graces, as well as to the Muses. 
I earnestly trust that all may lead, under Divine Providence, to the 
continued prosperity of this highly favoured Island, and tend still 
further to cement the unity of feeling at present existing in this 
happy community/ " 

The following is a copy of the inscription on the plate which 
was deposited beneath the stone : — 

In the year of our Lord 
And in the 18th year of the Reign of 
QuEKN Victoria, 
The Most Noble 
The Marquis of Dalhousib, Kt., 
Governor-General of India, 
llie Foundation Stone 
of the 
Town Hall, 
Was laid on the 17th day of March, 
By the 
Honourable i'olonel Butterworth, c.b.. 
Governor of the Straits Settlements, 
In presence of many of the 
British and Foreign Residents 
of this Settlement. 
The site had been selected by a Committee composed of Messrs. 
M. F. Davidson, R. Little, C. Spottiswoode, T. 0. Crane and J. 
Guthrie, and sanctioned by the Governor on 9th February. The 
Government of India gave a grant of $3,000, and the subscrip- 
tions were expected to reach $6,000. 

In March, the Supreme Government sanctioned a loan to the 
Municipal Committee of tho funds that might be required for the 
drainage of the town, at four per cent, interest, but nothing was 
done to any purpose. The very low level at which the town lies 
in regard to the sea being a serious difficulty, which, however, is 
ameliorated by the rise of the tide through such drains as there 
are, and their consequent frequent flushing. 

A local Committee was appointed to send articles to the Paris 
Exhibition which took place in that year; and fifty lists of articles 
were forwarded, and expenses incurred to the extent of $324*57. 

In the same month the celebrated singer, Catherine Hayes, came 
to Singapore and gave a Concert in the Public Rooms. The charge 
was $3, which was thought a high price, and the Concert commenced 
Ht 8 o^clock. 

It was in this year that the treaty was made between the two 
Chiefs, Sultan AUie and the Tumonggong of Johore, which led to 
so much discussion afterwards. It provided for their rights ; and 
the Tumonggong was declared to be sole and absolute soveieign 

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614 Anecclotal History of Singapore 

of Jiihore except the Kassang territory now commonly called jMuar, 
which is about 260 square miles^ and withdrew all claim to that Kassang 
territory which was declared to be the Sultan's territory under a 
provision that he should not alienate it without offering it in the 
first place to the Hon'ble the East India Company and then to 
tlie Tumonggong of Johore. 

Sultan Allie died in 1877, and on his death Muar passed to the 
territory of Johore, as the Straits Government declined to take it. 
Muar, during the rule of Sultan Allie, remained in a state of torpor, 
and under the hands of his successors it has become a flourishing 
and rising province. 

As the signing of the treaty was carried out with much cere- 
mony, some particulars are taken from the accounts in the news- 
paper : — 

"On Saturday, the 10th March, in pursuance of instructions 
from the Supreme Government, the Sultan of Johore was formally 
recognised by the local authorities. This was Sultan Allie the son 
of Sultan Hoosaiii, not the ruler of Johore proper, who was then 
called the Tumonggong. The ceremony took place at noon, in the 
large room of the Government Offices. At the head of the room, 
on a scarlet covered platform, were placed three chairs for the 
Governor and the Sultan and the Tumonggong of Johore ; above the 
chairs were the English Union Jack and the East India Company's 
flag ; the Consular flags were drooping from the cornices round the 
room, other flags being arranged in festoons above them. Imme- 
diately behind the Governor's chair was the marble bust of Raffles, 
executed by Chantry, placed on a pedestal; on each side of the 
platform was placed a table, on one of which was a State sword, 
on the other was placed a silver inkstand, the State seals, and 
three copies of the treaty about to be concluded between the two 
native Princes. We ought to mention that the different national 
flags were so arranged that their respective Consuls sat beneath 
them. On each side of the scarlet platform, chairs were placed for the 
sons of the Sultan and the Tumonggonjf. The chairs on each side of the 
entrance to the platform were occupied by ladies. The lower part of the 
room was occupied by officers of the 38th and 43rd M. N. I. and other 
gentlemen. In the portico fronting the audience chamber was stationed 
a guard of honour of the 38th M. N. I., and also as many chairs for the 
public as the limited space would permit. 

" At noon Governor Butterworth took his seat ; the Sultan was led into 
the portico by Mr. Church and Major Campbell, and was received by a 
guard of honour. On Mr. Church handing the Sultan into the audience 
room. His Highness was received by the Governor; on shaking hands with 
the Sultan, His Honour, addressing the guests assembled, in a firm voice, 
said he took advantage of the occasion publicly to recognise liis friend 
Tuankn Allie as Sultan of Johore, in succession to his father. The Sultan 
was then placed on a seat on the Governor's right, under a salute of 11 
guns. After a short pause, His Highness the Tumonggong airived, and 
the guard of honour in the portico again presented arms. The Governor 
received His Highness with a cordial shake of the hand, and introduced 
him to the Sultan under a salute of nine guns, whereupon the Tumonggong 


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1855 615 

made obeisance to the Sultan, and was then handed by the Governor to a 
seat on his left hand ; the Tumonggong's sons Inche Aboobakar (afterwards 
:^ultaii of Johore) and his brother Inche Abdul Rahman were placed near 
His Highness. The Governor called upon Mr. Church to read the 

" The treaty having been read in English by Mr. Church, and in Malay 
by luche Bujal, it was signed and sealed in due form, another salute of 
eleven guns was fired, and the guard again presented arms.'' 

Many important changes had taken place during the twelve years 
Colonel Butterworth had been Governor of the Straits. Direct steam 
communication with Europe was completed soon after he came. The 
florsburgh and Raffles light-houses were both erected and a floating light 
placed on the North Sands, and a lantern for the harbour light at Singa- 
pore. He did much to obviate the unwise measures which the Bengal 
Government tried to force on Singapore regarding the silver currency in 
rupees. He abolished the Sireh Farm, which was considered an oppres- 
sive tax by all the natives. During his time, a Seamen's Hospital, a 
Pauper Hospital, and the new Gaol (now being pulled down) were erected, 
and also the new House of Correction ; the sea-wall along the Esplanade 
vvas built ; Johnston's Pier and Dalhousie Pier were erected ; and many 
of the bridges and roads made. The Volunteer Corps was established, 
and a good deal done towards the foundation of a system of education both 
by himself and Mrs, Butterworth. 

The following was the address presented to him by the Chamber of 
Commerce, and the Governor's reply : — 

** The Singapore Chamber of Commerce, in common with the rest of the commu- 
nity, viewing with much regret the appi-oaching termination of your official connection 
with these Settlements, are anxious before your departure to record their sense of the 
great benefits you have conferred upon thu commerce of Singapore during the many 
years you have filled the office of Governor of the Straits Settlements. - 

Your earnest advocacy of every measure calculated to promote the interests o 
the trade of Singapore, — ^your I'eadiness to receive suggestions for its beneHts, — your 
prompt intei-position in endeavouring to avert, by every means in your power, what- 
ever may have seemed calculated to injure or interfere with that freedom from useless 
restrictions, which has been the peculiar characteristic, as well as the mainspring of 
the prosperity, of the commerce of Singapore. — thei-eady access to your presence 
which you have afforded to all, — and the courtesy which h»i8 invariably marked your 
intercourse with us — have all been fully appreciated by the mercantile community of 
Singapore, and we now l)eg to express, although inadequately, our grateful 
acknowledgment of them. 

The veiy remarkable increase which has taken place in the commerce of Singapore 
under your Government, has afforded triumphant testimony of the soundness and 
wisdom of those principles of commercial policy which its illustrious founder Sir 
Stamford Baffies mitia&d from the first day he took possession of Singapore, then an 
almost uninhabitated island ; and it must be extremely gratifying t-o you, Honourable 
Sir, who have so steadily maintained and upheld those principles, to find that during 
the course of your Government the trade of Singapore has risen from 24,620,243 
Dollars, its amount in 1843, when you first ansumed the charge of these Settlements, to 
the large sum of 36,655,557 Dollars, as shown in the official returns for the past year. 
This advance has been owing to no adrentitious circumstances. It has been steadily 
Progressive, resulting from the natural expansion of trade, — ^at first atti-acted by the 
peculiarly favourable position of Singapore and its entire freedom from imposts or 
restriction, and then fostered and encouraged by wise Government. 

In now taking leave of you. Honourable Sir, the members of the Cliamber of 
Commerce beg respectfully to offer their warmest wishes for your health and pros- 
perity, and they venture to express the hope that those high qualifications for Govern- 


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6l6 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

ment, which has been so beneficially exercised for the well being and adTancement of 
these Settlements, may yet find a still wider field of employment in the serTice of 
yonr country. 

Signed in name of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce : 


Singapore, 20th March, 1855. Chairman. 

To which the Governor replied : — 

" Grentlemen, — Tonr very flattering and most gratifying recognition of the deep 
interest I have ever taken in the comnierciaJ prosperity of Singapore, is more highly 
appreciated by me, than I can find woi-ds to expr<>s8. 

That illustrions statesman, as you hare jostly termed Sir Stamford Baffles, tbe 
Founder of all the growing greatness of this wonderful Emporium, ba8 been my 
guiding star, and I have viewed as a legacy to his successors, the scrupulous main- 
tenance of Singapore ns a Fi-ee Port. 1 am grateful for your pleasing acknowledg- 
ment that I have not been unmindful of this great trust. 

Receive, Gentlemen, my warmest thanks for the ready assistance yon have aiforde«l 
me from time to time, in many of the important questions that have been before ub, 
and with a profound sense of the kind feelings which have dictated your good wishes 
I will saj— Fai-ewell ! " 

A public subscription was made to present General Butterworth 
with a testimonial and to have the portrait painted which is now 
in the Town Hall. The following account of the plate and of the 
Governor's career appeared in the Illustrated London News of 26tli 
July, 1856:— 

*" A very gratifying testimonial of public esteem has recently 
been presented to General W. J. Butterworth, c.b., late Governor 
of Prince of Wales' Islands, Singapore, and Malacca. The gift 
originated in a public meeting held at Singapore on March 30th, 
1855, when the inhabitants of the Settlement resolved to present 
General Butterworth with a piece of plate, of not less value than 
£500 sterling, as a mark of the high sense entertained by them of 
his valuable services ns Grovernor of tlie above Settlements, for h 
period of nearly twelve years. It was also resolved by the ladies 
of Singapore, to present Mrs. iintterworth with a silver tea and 
coffee service; and, furthermore, General Butterworth was requested 
to sit for his portrait, to be placed in the Town Hall of Singa- 
pore, in memory of the esteem and respect in which he is lield by 
all classes of the community. The portrait has accordingly heen 
painted, and will be transmitted to Singapore by an early oppor- 
tunity ; and the plate, which has also been completed, has been 
presented to General and Mrs. Butterworth now in England. 

" General Butterworth, who luis received these distinguished honours, 
was trained at the Hon. East India Company's military establish- 
ment, Addiscombe, and passed for the Artillery. Previously, however, 
to his quitting England for India, actuated by the prospect of more 
speedy promotion, he sought and received permission to exchange 
into the Infantry of the Madras Presidency, whither he proceeded 
in 1818. On his arrival he obtained a Lieutenancy in the Second 
Battalion 19th (now 38th) Regiment and was appointed to the Rifle 

"He subsequently joined the Light Field Division of the Mahratta 
Army, under the late Sir Theuphihis Pritzeer, k.c.b., and was at the 
siege of Ghopart Droog. On the day of assault the company of the 


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1855 617 

Uifles to which Lieutenant Butte rwortli was attached not being detail- 
ed for duty, he earnestly volunteered, and was allowed to accompany 
the escalading party. For his services on this occasion he was in 
1821 made Adjutant of the 38th Native Infantry. 

*^ In 1822, he was compelled to proceed to England on medical 
certificate. On his return, having in the meantime attained the rank 
of Captain, he joined the army in Ava, under Sir Archibald Camp- 
bell, and in 1825-26 was in most of the skirmishes with the enemy, 
and at the takin^f of Moolawm. At the termination of hostilities 
he was nominated Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General of the 
Army; and, in 1828, promoted to the Assistant Quartermaster-General- 
ship, in which capacity he was posted in 1834 to the western 
column of attack on Coorg, under the command of the late Brigadier 
Sir David Foulis, K.c b., and was three times wounded whilst 
heading the advance to the capture of the several stockades in the 
Hiv^ular Ghauts. For his services at this period he received the 
special thanks of Government in general orders, and was recommended 
for the Order of the Bath. 

"On the formation of the field force, under conunaud of Brigadier- 
General Taylor, c b., Captain Butterworth was again detached, as 
Assistant Quartermaster-General of that force, and distinguished him- 
self on several occasions, particularly in the attack on the Khonds 
at Nowguan, on 1st June, 1836. During this campaign he attained 
his Majority. At the restoration of peace he returned to head -quarters, 
obtained the thanks of Government, and was shortly afterwards 
made a Companion of the Bath. 

" Having from time to time acted as Deputy Quartermaster-General 
of the Army, Major Butterworth was in 1839 permanently appointed 
to that ofiice. In 1841, he obtained the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of 
his regiment; and in the same year, being again obliged to seek 
the restoratiim of his shattered health, he went on medical certificate 
to the Cape of Good Hope. During his visit to the Colony he was 
presented to the Earl of Ellen borough, then on his way to assume 
the Government of India; by whom, in 1843, he was appointed 
(lovernor of Prince of Wales' Island, Singapore, and Malacca. 

" Lieutenant-Colonel Butterworth was promoted to the Colonelcy 
of the 2nd Regiment during his tenure of that important ofiice — a 
period of twelve years, two of which were passed in the Australian 
Colonies in consequence of the declining state of his health; which, 
eventually, in March, 1855, forced him to relinquish the Government 
of the Straits of Malacca, just as he had attained the rank of 

" The able manner in which Major-General Butterworth discharged 
the arduous duties intrusted to him is amply testified in a letter 
from the Government of India; and also by the addresses presented 
to him on his vacating the government for a time, and afterwards 
on his final resignation of it. The importance of this highly honour- 
tible post may be estimated by the fact of the aniiual trade of the 
three Settlements amounting to upwards of ten millions sterling. 

" The plate consist* of a centre ornament, thirty-nine inches high, and 
two side ornaments, twenty-two inches high; total value £700. The 


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618 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

centre ornament has branches for nine lights and four glass dishes for 
flowers, &c. The base supports a very rich group of figures, representing 
commerce exhibiting to Britannia a portrait of the General : with the 
figures of a Chinese, a Malay, and an Indian Jew, over whom Britannia 
holds her shield in allusion to her protection. The standard of the EsLst 
India Company is also introduced. The inscription is as follows : — 

" ' Presented to Major-General W. J. Butterworth, c.b., by the inhabi- 
tants of Singapore, to mark their sense of the important services rendered 
to the Settlement during the period of his Government, to express their 
acknowledgment for the readiness with which he at all times identified 
himself with the true interests of the place, and to record their admiration 
of the ability and energy which characterised his administration a* 
Governor of Prince of Wales^ Island, Singapore, and Malacca, from 184^> 
to 1855.^ 

" The two accompanying ornaments support baskets for flowers, and are 
enriched respectively with a group of tigers under pitcherplants, and a 
buffalo with two deer under fern-trees. 

" The ladies' testimonial consists of an elegant silver tea antl coffee 
service, and was accompanied by an address stating it to be presented : — 

" * To Mrs. Butterworth, by the ladies of Singapore, whose names are 
hereon inscribed, to testify their regard, and in affectionate remembrance 
of her uniform courtesy and kindness to them during the period of eleven 
years in which her husband, Major-General Butterworth, c.b., wjis 
Governor of Prince of Wales' Island, Singapore, and Malacca. December, 
1855/ (Then follow the names of the several lady-subscribers to the 

Governor Butterworth was a handsome patron of sports on land and 
water. He gave a cap annually for the horse races, and kept a boat, an 
improved sampan, for sailing after office hours in, the harbour, and he 
sailed his boat on New Year's Day. He was not popular at first in Singa- 
pore, as he began with much pomposity ; and a joking remark in a private 
letter of Sir James Brooke, which unexpectedly became known, described 
him as *' Butterpot the Great.'' Mrs. Butterworth was very good to the 
school children, and both she and her husband frequently passed an honr 
in the schools. The Colonel used to time his morning walk so well 
at 5.80, that he was said to be us good as a watch when the guard turned 
out to meet him. He had a great fancy for the two silver sticks, only 
to be seen now in Court, which used to follow him about on many occa- 

Like several other public officers who have left the Straits, the late 
Governor lived but a short time to enjoy his rest, for he died at Millmead 
House, Guildford, on the 4th November, 1856, eighteen months after he 
left Singapore. 

He was spoken of in print by a well known Singapore an as " A 
perfect gentleman, though a good deal of a military ^ bahadour.' 
He laboured hard to introduce black coats and continuations into 
our social habits, but, in those uncivilised times, white was the order 
of the day among ' men.' The ladies used to prefer clean white 
to dubious black. However, he laboured in vain, and except, of 
course, at Government House, white prevailed. One evening at some 
public dinner, at which he was present, and all were in respectful 


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1855 619 

lack^ his health was proposed, and received a warm acknowledgment 
E clieers. Something hnd nettled His Excellency, and in reply he 
ave a lecture to all hands, winding up by informing the enthusiastic 
iiblic that ' sincerity was not proved by loud applause ! ' This 
atlier annoyed some of the audience, and two days after, at a 
bentrical representation, it was determined to pay him off. The 
ifter-piece was Bamha^trn Furioso, and when that eminent General 
li ^missed his troops, he exclaimed, in response to their loud accla- 
nations : — ** Silence in the ranks, cease, cease your braying ; sincerity's 
lot proved by hip, hip, hip, hurraying/' The Governor looked 
serious at first, and a thunder-cloud overspread his brow, but, 
immediately recovering himself, he burst out laughing, and applauded 
heartily. He told the actor afterwards : ' A very good hit, a very 
good hit ! and well done too ! ! ' Local allusions were often * gagged ' 
into the plays in those days, and Hongkong many years after did 
the same, to the intense annoyance of thin-skinned officials, especially 
H. K. Pope Hennessy, but to the intense enjoyment of the public. 
It is said that Mr. Balestier had one day a note from Col. Butterworth, 
whose caligraphy was shocking. He returned it with a remark *^ Can't 
read the Governor's handwriting." 

The total trade of the three Settlements in 1853-54 amounted 
to il«. 107,675,802, an increase over the previous year of Jfe. 20,480,300, 
or above two million pounds sterling. These figures were dependent 
upon the returns of the mercantile community, and the real state 
of the trade was no doubt larger. The Opium Fann of Singapore 
was let in this year for K«. 27,100 a month, and the Spirit Farm 
for fi«. 9,510. 

On Thursday, the 8th March, there was a review of the newly 
enrolled Volunteer Corps, of which the Free Press wrote as follows : — 
"The Singapore Rifle Corps paraded on Government Hill on the 
afternoon of Thursday last, and went through a pretty stiff drill, after 
which they were reviewed by the Hon'ble the Governor, who then 
addressed them in complimentary terms on the efficiency they had 
attained, and assuring them how proud he should have been to have 
headed them in actual service. His Honour requested that his name 
might remain upon their roll, and concluded by reading some despatches 
from the Court of Directors and Supreme Government of India, noticing 
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. The Corps, although they turned out on this occasion 
in somewhat diminished numbers, appeared, as far as an unprofes- 
sional eye could judge, to go through their manoeuvres with steadiness 
and precision, and we have no doubt they will highly distinguish 
themselves whenever they may be called upon to take the field." 

Mr. Edmand Augustus Blundell, the new Governor, joined the 
Penang Civil Service on 6th August, 1821, and was afterwards a 
Commissioner of the Tennaserim Provinces. He was Acting Governor 
of the Straits in June 1843, and then went to England. After he 
returned he was Eesident Councillor at Malacca, and in 1848 he wrote 
a paper in volume 2, page 726, of Logan's Journal, on Malacca. In 


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620 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

1849 he was Resident Councillor at Penang, and Acting Governor ii 
1851. In 1855 ho would probably have been appointed GrovenioT 
but for Lord Ellenborough's attachment to Colonel Butter worth. 

In April, during a squall, a house in Kampong Malacca w«i 
struck by lightning, and four natives were killed ; they were ladi 
sleeping near each other. Sir Wm. Jeffcotfc, the Recorder, who weiii 
to the spot, helped the mother afterwards with money, as the ladj 
had been her chief support. She was with them in the room when tlie\ 
were struck. 

This year was remarkable for an increase in piracy, the native 
trade suffering very severely from it. The most formidable pirate? 
were Chinese, who waylaid and fired on the junks and other native 
traders, attacking them, in their voyages to or from Singapore, in the 
China Sea and the Gulif of Siam. l*he pirates resorted to Singapore 
without fear, and in May a public meeting was held to memorialist 
the Secretary of State. Mr. Guthrie was in the Chair and the following 
resolutions were passed: — 

"Proposed by Tan Beng Swee, and seconded by J. P. Gumming, 
That this meeting views with deep concern the ravages committed by 
pirates, Chinese particularly, in the immediate vicinity of this port, to 
the great destruction of human life, and detriment to trade. 

Proposed by W. H. Read, and seconded by Tan Kim Ching : — ^Tliat in 
order to remedy the present insecurity of life and property, petitions be 
prepared and forwarded to the Supreme Government, the Houses of Par- 
liament, and the Admiral on this Station, urging them to take vigorous 
measures to suppress piracy in these parts. 

Proposed by R. Duff, and seconded by J. d^ Almeida : — ^The Singapore 
community are so thoroughly convinced of the necessity of protection to the 
junks now about to leave for China, and so indignant at the long con- 
tinued supineness of the Autliorities 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 licejise 
said vessel. 

Proposed by Dr. Little, and seconded by T. 0. Crane : — ^This 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 be- 
yond their reach. 

Proposed by J. d' Almeida, and seconded by A. J. Spottiswoode :— 
That the following gentlemen be appointed a Committee to carry out the 
foregoing resolutions : — Messrs. Guthrie, Read, Logan and Duff.^' 

The paper was full of accounts of piratical murders, and the Go veni- 
ment steam- vessel Hooghly was too slow to be of any use, and there were 
very few men-of-war near Singapore. Eventually orders came from tlie 
Admiralty to the Admiral on the Station to send a vessel to the Gulf of 
Siam. The Government at last began to take away the rudder of doubtful 
piratical junks in the harbour, and prevent them leaving until they were 
searched for arms. In some cases, junks were fully manned, but without 
any cargo. 

The number of covers that passed through the Post Office in April of 
this year was 31,683. 


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1855 621 

It was in May of this year that the Bengal Government sanctioned 
kiiding the new Church (the present Cathedral) as said on 
page 493. The Free Press said " The Government of India, has 
approved the plan submitted to them of the proposed structure, 
which is described as being a very handsome one and a great 
improvement upon the former buildinjr. If it is practicable to change 
the site of the building, we should recommend, in place of -the 
present one, the piece of level ground half way up the Govern- 
meut Hill, and which is marked by a withered tree. This site is 
niry and at the same time easily accessible from all quarters, and 
would advantageously display the architectural beauties of the new 
etlifice. It would, moreover, leave the whole of the present Church 
compound available for other public buildings, such as the new 
Court House, for which at present there seems some difficulty in 
finding a suitable locality." The suggestion was, fortunately, not 
earned out, and the new Church was built on the former site, 
which was much more suitable. 

In the month of May it became known to the inhabitants of 
Singapore, that a European of tlie name of Thom, who had been 
convicted in the Supreme Court at Calcutta of murdering his wife, 
and sentenced to transportation for life, was to be sent to Singa- 
p^ire to undergo his sentence. The natural inference from this wns 
that, as the Australian Colonies were no longer available as penal 
Settlements, the Supreme Government intended to convert the Straits 
Settlements into a receptacle for the European felons of India, as 
tliey already were for native convicts. A meeting of the inhabitants 
of Singapore was immediately held, which was numerously attended 
by the Europeans and Chinese residents. Eesolutions were adopted 
euer^'etically protesting against the further degradation, which it was 
anticipated, the Government intended to inflict upon Singapore. A 
memorial was drawn up, addressed to the Governor-General, which 
the Hon'ble the Governor refused to forward, as, in his opinion, it 
was couched in rather more violent language than seemed consistent 
with official usage, and it was, therefore, sent direct t(» the Governor- 
General. The Governor, at the same time, is understood to have 
pointed out the strong objections which existed to making this a 
|>enal station for European convicts, and the result of the agitation 
on the subject was, that the Government of India speedily intimated 
that it had no intention of transporting European convicts to Singa- 
pore, and that Thom had only been sent here in consequence of the 
Supreme Court having named it as the place to which he was to 
bs transported. Petitions were made to Parliament, and Mr. John 
Crawfurd wrote a long memorandum on the subject, which was laid 
hefore Parliament, dated from the Athenseum Club, London, August 
%th, 1855. The result was that the Secretary to the Government 
0^ India wrote to say that the Government had no intention to 
transport European convicts to Singapore and that a Bill would be 
^fought before the Legislature to change Thorn's sentence, which 
^as done, and he was removed. 

In May, Mr. Moniot, who had been Government Surveyor at 
Penang, was appointed to Singapore for the purpose of reorganising 


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622 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

the Survey Department here — a periodical attempt at settling an oh| 
grievance with the usual insufficient means to carry it out. 

Deaths by tigers during this yeai* became very numerous, an(| 
a great deal of attention was drawn to the subject. The Calcuttsi 
paper, the Friend of India, suggested that so many deaths wer«i 
scarcely likely to be caused by tigers, and that it was possible th<| 
Chinese secret societies might imitate tigers' wounds on murdere^ 
persons ! And the London Punch of October 27th had the following 
paragraphs : — 


" Rapid DepopuLition of Singapore by Tigers. — Two deaths by tigers everj 
week (says the Singapore Free Frefs) are read of in the papers, just abouj 
as much a matter of course as the arrival or departure of the P. & O. Com^ 
pany's steamers. It is notorious that daring the last fifteen or twenty yean 
many thousands of men have lost their lives fi'om this cause. Yet the onl) 
measures adopted by Government, so far as we know, to prevent this enormous 
sacrifice of life, have been to dig tiger-pits in various parts of the island 
(which we ai'e now told did little or po good), and to ifive a reward of on^ 
hundred Company's rupees for every tiger killed on the island. The reward is. 
for all practical purposes, ineffective ; it ought to be increased to two hundred 
and fifty rupees; for the price of procuring the destruction of one tiger in 
the jungle of Singapore is a hundred dollars, and the thing cannot be done 
for one hundred and ten Company's rupees. Such is the i>08ition in which we 
are now placed.' 

" If the population of Singapore is really being converted into food for tigei-s^ 
and the inhabitants are departing as regularly as the steamers, it is high time 
that something should he done to save the remnant of the populace. Consider- 
ing that the tigei*s have evidently got the upper hand, 've think they show a 
sort of moderation in taking only two inhabitants per week, and there is 
consequently no hope of »iny further diminution, for it is clear that the brutes 
are already on what may l»e consirlered low diet. We cannot bo surprised at 
the anxiety of the Editor of the Singapore Free Press, who may any day W 
8ele<;ted a« a moiety of the weekly allowance of the somewliat absteniioiis tigers, 
whti appear t«» be practising the negsitive virtue of moderation and reg-ular liviiij:. 
Since the Government will not, or cannot, take the matter up, and put the tii:er 
down, we would advise the population of Singapore to enter into an nrrangemeut 
with the bi-ute-slayer at the top of the Haymarket, and we have no doubt that 
Mr. Cumming would be hailed as the Coming Man, if he were to offer his services. 

" ^he Singapore journalist expresses his fear that the * evil will go on 
ing,' — or in other words, that the population will go on diminishing — and we fully 
sympathise with his editorial fears ; for even should he be so lucky as to escape 
till after every other inhabitant is disposed of, it would be but a sony con so- 
lation to feel oneself constituting the last mouthful at a feast of tigers. 

" We suspect that our Eastei*n contemporary is either indidging in a little 
romance, or is agitated by fears that have grown up under the enervating influence of 
the climate, for we cannot suppose that the people and the Government are quietly 
submitting to the gradual consumption of the inhabitants in the manner descriljed, 
and our friends at Singapore will excuse us. therefore, if we have treated somewhat 
lightly a subject that we should certainly regard as no joke, if we put faith in the 
statements on which we have commented.'* 

On the 25tli May, Mr. John Kinsey Salmon died, at the age of sixtv 
years. He was a native of Flintshire, and one of the old Bencoolen 
Officers nnder the East India Company, and lived during the latter years 
of his life, with a pension, in Singapore. I 

In July, a subscription was made towards the Roman Catholic Church 
in Malacca, of which the paper spoke as follows : — 

" We have now before us plans of a handsome and spacious Gothic 
Church in course of erection at Malacca, under the direction of the BqVj 


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1855 623 

Mr. Barbe, the E. C. Minister at that station. The cost of the building is 
estimated at §9,000 ; but such are the ciycumstances c£ the Roman Catholic 
Cliristians at Malacca, that only about 300 tu 400 dollars have been 
raised there. The sum of about $1,100 was granted by the mission at 
Penang. Most persons would have despaired of ever accomplishing the 
completion of so great Jin undertakiiitr ; "ot so the French priests, whose 
zeal in whatever they may embark knows no hindrance. By the per- 
sonal exertions of the Rev. Mr. Favre, in the United States, the Mauritius, 
and elsewhere, more than $6,000 have been obtained which, with the 
sums above mentioned, have been expended on the Church. It appears, 
liowever, that the sum of J1,000 is required to complete the building, and 
ro obtain this sum the Rev. Mr. Barbe is about to make an appeal to the 
Singapore community." 

It was in this year that the nutmeg disease got to such a head. The 
Free Press of 12th July published long papers by Dr. Oxley and others, 
on the disease, and its possible remedies. 

The following is an account of the total amount of Municipal Assess- 
ment and Taxes during the preceding six years, in round numbers : — 


.. !f 28,600 


. 28,800 


... 81,000 


... 32,000 


... 34,000 


... 40,000 

The expenditure was always from $2,000 to $3,000 in excess. It was 
in this year that the cross road from Seletar to Bukit Mandai was made. 

In Angust, the new clipper ship Kate Carnie, named after Mr. 
Carnie's sister, built under Captain Rodger's superintendence, came out 
from home. She made the best passage then known — 88 days from 
England and 28 from the Cape. She was very well known here during 
the next ten years, being a famous opium clipper, and commanded by 
Captain Rodger, whose son was then in Martin Dyce & Co.'s firm and 
became afterwards a partner in that house, and to whose memory there is 
a window in the Cathedral. 

On the 1 1th August, a public meeting was held in the News Rooms 
in Commercial Square at which nearly every European in the place was 
present. Mr. James Guthrie was in the Chair. It proved to be the 
beginning of the agitation for the Transfer from the East India Company. 
The primary cause of the meeting was the Act which had just 
been published introducing the copper currency of India in 
addition to the cents of the Spanish dollar. The second resolution 
proposed by Mr. W. H.' Read and seconded by Mr. W. G. Kerr, was 
as follows : — 

^'2. — ^That by the passing of the Act 17 of 1855 this meeting 
is forced into the painful conviction that the Legislative Council of 
India, in treating with utter disregard the remonstrances of the in- 
habitants, have shewn that they are neither to be moved by any 
prospect of doing good, nor restrained by the certainty of doing 
evil, to the Straits Settlements, and that it is therefore the bounden 
duty of this community to use every exertion and to resort to every 
means within its reach to obtain relief from the mischievous mea- 


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624 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

sures already enacted^ and to escape from the infliction of others of 
the same nature, more comprehensive, and still more hurtful/* 

In this year a table of precedence as regarded the East Indies 
was issued by the Queen, and proclaimed in India and the Straits. 
The Governor-General headed the list, of course, and it is only 
referred to here as showing where the Straits came — which was away at the 
foot, the Governor and the Recorder coming after the Puisne Judges of 
the Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. 

Reviews of the troops were held several times during the year on the 
Esplanade. In December, a full dress parade of all troops was held, and 
the proclamation relating to the taking of Sebastopol was read and a 
royal salute fired. 

In August, Mr. George Wahab, of the London Police, arrived and 
took up his position of Deputy Superintendent of Police. He was engaged 
in England by Mr. A. Guthrie, at the request of the Municipality. The 
following is an extract from the Minutes of the Municipal Committee in 
August : — 

" The Committee notice with regret, the continued and increasing 
obstructions in the verandahs, some of them so completely closed in as to 
exclude the public. The early attention of the Police is requested to the 
evil, as it is apprehended that unless prompt measures are adopted, the 
rights, convenience and interests of the community will permanently an«l 
materially be impaired.'' 

"At the suggestion of Mr. Harvey, the all important question of the 
drainage of the town is again brought under review. The increase af the 
town population, together with the densely crowded stato of many of the 
houses, vividly and daily remind the members individually and collectively 
of the imperative necessity for an imme-diate amelioration of a state of 
things fraught with so direful consequences. The Committee have no 
hesitation in reiterating their deliberate opinion, that, considering the 
site of the town was selected by the Government Officials and a large sum 
has already been paid into the local Treasury for lands sold, and holders 
of property pay an annual quit-rent exceeding 20,000 Rupees to the 
State, it is for the Executive alone to undertake the efficient drainage 
of the town; this measure the Committee conceive cannot be deferred 
without imminent risk, and possibly loss of life, to an extent fearful 
to contemplate. Should the Government of India still withhold their 
aid after this representation, the Committee will then, under the 
exigence of the case, be constrained to accept as a loan a sum 
not exceeding 100,000 Rupees, to be disbursed as required. The 
Committee, however, can offer no positive guarantee for the regular 
payment of the interest or the gradual liquidation of the principal, 
This must necessarily depend on the amount of the funds available 
by the Committee at the close of each year." 

On September 12th, a branch of the Mercantile Bank of India, 
London and China (as it was then styled) was opened here by Mr. 
Walter Ormiston as Manager. 

On the 22nd October, the Hecorder, Sir William Jefifcott, died ar 
Penang at the age of 55 years. He was the second Recorder in the 
Stiaits who had died in office, the first being Sir Francis S. Bayley, 
who died at Penang in 1824, about two months after his arrival. Sir 


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1855 625 

William w;is only ill for a few days, and was at the same time suffer- 
ings under considerable jinxiety of mind as to his future position in r^- 
ference to the new arrangements of the Judicial system in the Straits, 
and was annoyed at indirectly learning that the Singapore division of 
the Court had been assigned to him, as he much preferred Penang as 
a place of residence. He was an Irishman. A Dublin paper in 1842 
said: — ''As a lawyer, he was among the most rising on the Munster 
Circuit. Nearly related to the late lamented Chief Baron Wolf, he 
posi^esaed much of his ability, integrity and sterling independence of 
character. Indeed, Mr. Joffcott has established a reputation at the Bar 
of being a sound and safe lawyer.'* 

In that year he went to Australia as a Judge, but returned to 
Ireland and resumed practice at the Bar, and held an appointment 
under the Attorney- General there. In 1849, he succeeded Sir Christopher 
Rawlinson as Recorder in the Straits, when the latter went to Madras 
as Chief Justice. During his residence in the Straits, Sir William 
Jeff CO tt sustained the character which in his earlier years he seems to 
have gained at the Irish Bar, of being a sound and painstaking 
lawyer, and, without evincing any extraordinary legal attainments, he 
commanded respect by the earnest manner in which he discharged 
his judicial functions. Any slight irritability ho occasionally allowed 
to be seen was sufficiently explained and excused by the fact that 
he laboured under a painful internal disorder. Soon after his 
arrival in the Straits Sir William Jeffcott shewed his anxiety to 
administer justice in the most efficient manner that the circumstances 
of these Settlements would permit, and for that purpose made hu 
alteration in the periodical circuits of the Court, by which Singa- 
pore was visited three times in the year, instead of only twice, as 
formerly. Sir William Jeffcott was highly esteemed in private life. 
He was of a generous and benevolent disposition, and never failed 
to respond in the most liberal manner to all appeals for assist- 
ance, whether on behalf of individuals or institutions, which were 
made to him, and these were by no means infrequent. He 
took a deep interest in the cause of education in the Straits, and 
embraced every opportunity which presented itself of promoting its 
improvement. He was offered a Judgeship both at Calcutta and 
Bombay while he was in the Straits, but he declined both. Minute 
guns were fired from Fort FuUerton in Singapore, on the news of 
his death reaching here. He was succeeded, in the following year, 
hy Sir Richard McCausland. 

As an example of the way in which the Municipality worked 
with the public at that time, the following is taken from their 
minutes in October regarding the way in which the present road to 
Tanjong Pagar was widened. It was then only used as a road to 
Mount Palmer and a small village. 
"The Hon'ble T. Church, Esq., 

Chairman of the Municipal Committee, 
&c., &c., &c. 

" Sir, — We beg to inform you that all the Proprietors of Land 
on the south side of the Tanjong Pagar Road, have agreed to 
gire up a sufficient space of their ground, to form a ditch inside 


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626 Anecdoial History of Singa'pore 

of the present hedge, so as to follow the widening of the road to 
that extent. This would be of great convenience to the public, the 
present road being so very narrow and dangerous. 

" This road, you are aware, has long been, and still is, in a very 
bad state, and we would therefore hope that no time will be lost in 
carrying out the above desirable improvement and putting it in a 
thorough state of repair. 

We have, &c., 

J. Guthrie, 


'* The Committee fully recognise the desirableness of making the 
improvement and reform adverted to, and relying on the assurance 
that all parties are willing to surrender the requisite space, the Com- 
mittee are prepared to commence on the work at an early date, in 
the hope and expectation that the Executive will contribute a moiety 
of the outlay, as the road in question leads to ' Lake's Battery ' 
recently constructed on Mount Palmer.'^ 

There were three fires towards the end of the year, after the 
lapse of a considerable period without one. The first was a fire at 
Tanjong Ru, the second at Kampong Malacca, and the third, in 
November, at the corner of Kling and Philip Streets. At the 
latter eleven houses were burnt out, some of which were stored with 
very combustible materials — turpentine, oil, &c. ; and twenty houses 
were pulled down or injured in stopping it. The whole of the burnt 
block belonged to Syed AH bin Mahomed A I Junied ; and the Free 
P veins said : * Being a Mussulman he is, of course, uninsured, but it 
is understood that he is better able to bear his loss than many of 
hij< less fortunate tenants. The loss was about $33,000." 

In the beginning of December, there was a ver}' unusual amount of 
rain, the country was flooded and the roads in many places were almost im- 
passable. Serangoon district was a vast lake, and communication had to 
bo made by sampans. It rained without intermission from 7 a.m. on the 
30th November to 4 a.m. on the 2nd December. And as the tide con- 
tinued about high water mark for three consecutive days, the rain remained 
on the low lands and overflowed the roads, to the depth of two feet in 
places. There was heavy weather in the China Sea, and the P. & O. steamer 
had to lay to off Point Komania for twenty-four hours, as the atmosphere 
was so thick with heavy rain, that no one could see half the length of 
the vessel. 

In December, a schooner, the Alma, with gunpowder on board, was 
struck by lightning in Malacca and blown np, one man out of the crew of 
twelve being recovered. This airain drcAv attention to the want of control 
of the storage of gunpowder in the town and haibour of Singapore. 

The following account of the practices of small Kling shop-keepers in 
Singapore was published at this time by a Malay resident : — 

*• Many of my nation, the Oraiiff ]IaIoyH, who come from sequestered 
localities and the interiors of rivers, people who are very simple, and men 
of the different tribes of Rucri^.. who are not accustomed to resort to Singa- 
pore to trade, are cheated and deceived in the cloth shops of the Kiinirs 
because their shops l>einir shut in by screens of cloth next the public street 


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1855 627 

nre nearly quite dark^ and the verandahs are also rendered impassable by 
benches and stools on which many persona sit. In the darkness and con- 
fusion thus produced, goods which are coarse become fine ; good silver 
money is transmuted into copper ; doits, which were sufficient in tale, lose 
part of their number; and measurement becomes deficient. The sellers are 
rude and overbearing to the simple buyers and insist on their purchasing. 
From these causes how often are people cheated and deceived and suffer 
loss. If they don^t submit to the exactions of the Klings, then a row is 
kicked up and the buyers are hustled about by the Klings. Hence dis- 
turbances take place, but the police cannot readily find out the scene of 
disturbance on account of the screens of cloth which enclose the 

At this time the syces of private carriages and hacks always ran 
along with the pony and never sat on the carriage. Colonel Butterworth 
imported a large carriage and four horses, and when attending the 
evening service at St. Andrew's on dark nights, the syces ran at the sides 
of the horses with lanterns. 

The North Western Bank of India, of which the head office was at 
Calcutta, opened a branch at 19, Malacca Street on 20th December. David 
Daff was the Agent. 


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628 Anecdotal Hlfttory of Singapore 



ON Mew Year's Day a picnic party composed of a large number of tht 
merchants went out on a trial trip, and the result is told in th 
following account in the Free Press, The steamer was afterwards sold U 
pay the damages : — " The screw steam-ship Labvun, Captain Browne, be 
longing to the Eastern Archipelago Company, previous to proceeding o] 
her voyage to Labuan, made a trial trip in the direction of the Raffle; 
Light-house; her machinery, &c., having undergone alterations am 
repairs since her arrival here. She left the anchorage about seven in tht 
morning, and after having passed the barque Zarah, which sailed th< 
same morning for Akyab, rounded the Light-house and steamed toward: 
Singapore on her return. Soon after this, at about ten o'clock, the Laluai 
and the Zarah, which was coming towards her close hauled to the wind 
came into collision, when the steamer took the barque directly amidship or 
the star-board side, carried away the barque's mainmast with her bowsprit 
and, with her bowstay, which consisted of a strong iron chain, literalh 
sawed the barqae in two. The Zarah sank within three minutes of th( 
contact. The officers and crew were all saved and tnken on board the 
Labium, The hull of the steamer was apparently uninjured and scarcelj 
appeared to touch the other vessel, but her bowsprit was snapt by the 
collision, and becoming entangled with the rigging of the Zarah, was 
dragged out, together with the topmast and rigging, when the barque 
sank. The whole party were down below at a meal, and the Captain 
had been called down for a minute when they heard the crash, and onJr 
reached the deck in time to see the barque's masts disappearing b^neatii 
the waves." 

In January the Rev. Mr. Sames who had kept a school in Malacca for 
some years and had a free school for native boys in Hill Street, at the old 
Assembly Rooms at the foot of Fort Canning, left Singapore in conse- 
quence of ill health and went to England. 

At this time a question was raised by the Police about the horse sales 
in the Square, and the Free Press remarked that it was a practice as oW 
as the Square itself and it would be a great injustice to stop them. The 
practice was continued until about 1890, when it ceased because of the 
large traffic through the Square. It had been a great convenience to all, 
as it was a good opportunity, after tiffin time, to see what was offered, and 
there was little difficulty in finding buyers. 

On Tuesday evening, the 4th March, the Bishop of Calcutta laid the 
foundation stone of the present St. Andrew's Cathedral, as alreadj 
stated on page 293. 

The paper in April contained the following paragraph : — *' The small 
cutter Tear an' Aqes which lef^ this ab<mt a month ago with the mails for 


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1856 629 

Java, returned on the 1st instant. She made the run down to Batavia in 
six days. The vojage altogether was a venturous one at this season of 
the year for a craft of her size, as she is not more than 40 tons burthen.'* 
In those days when the mail steamers broke down, mails were forwarded 
bj any available opportunity, generally by men-of-war, but in default of 
anything better, the little Singapore yacht undertook the experiment. 

The Tear an' Ages belonged to Mr. Cursetjee Frommurzee and Mr. 
W. H. Read. The name of the boat was to have been the Ariel, but at 
the launch, an officer of the Artillery, an Irishman, and a General Officer 
now, chaffing and laughing, did not notice the chocks being knocked away, 
and the cutter had already gone some distance, when he dashed after her, 
with a '' Tear an' Ages/' and broke the bottle over the bows. '* By Dad," 
said he, " and what's her name ?" It was too late to alter it then. She 
was afterwards sold to Bishop McDougall and named the Southern CrosSy 
as a mission boat, and was subsequently bought as a gunboat by the 
Sarawak Government, and, as the Badger, fought a gallant action, under 
sail, with two Lanun j^rahus, crippling one, which was afterwards aban- 
doned, and damaging the other considerably. The Badger was wrecked 
on the bar of the Bintulu river. Her run to Batavia would have been 
quicker, but the nights were dark and the skipper cautious, so he 
anchored. The residents at Batavia got up a handsome subscription to pay 
the expenses of the trip. 

In April, the whole community gave a Ball to the Commodore and 
Officers of the French Squadron, which took place in the P. & O. Com- 
pany's establishment at New Harbour. The English Admiral, Sir James 
Stirling, came from Hongkong the same afternoon, and, being about the 
time of the Crimean War, the proceedings were very enthusiastic. 

In April the Free Press mentioned that Captain Keppel had been 
appointed to command the gunboat flotilla to proceed to the Baltic 
if the Crimean War should not be concluded ; and printed parts of 
a speech by Sir Charles Wood, the First Lord of the Admiralty, 
in the House of Commons, in reference to the matter, in which he 
said "Captain Keppel has seen more active service than almost any 
other officer of his rank, and if my Hon. friend were to poll the 
entire navy, he would find its unanimous opinion to be that there 
is not a better, or more gallant, or more deserving officer in the service. 
Captain Keppel has distinguished himself on every occasion in which 
li3 services have been called into requisition, the most recent instance 
i? daring his command of the Naval Brigade before Sebastapol." 

The Municipal Committee this year consisted of Mr. Church, the 
Resident Councillor, as Chairman, and four members ; Captain R. 
ilacpherson, Superintendent of Convicts, ejc-officio ; John Harvey of McEwen 
4 Co. ; H. M. Simons of Ker, Rawson & Co. ; and H. T. Marshall, 
the Superintendent of the P. & 0. Company. Mr. J. Moniot was in 
charf^e of the Government Survey Department. 

The German Club, called the Teutonia Club, was started on the 
28th June by about seven members, and the first committee was com- 
posed of Otto Puttfarcken, Arnold Otto Meyer, and Franz Kustermann. 
u was opened in a house in North Bridge Road, behind where Raffles 
Hotel now is, but a little way further towards Rochore than the end 
of that building. The Club was removed about six months afterwards 


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680 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

to Blanche House, which is still standing on Mount Elizabeth, near the 
present Club building. The first club house was built about 1862, and 
many entertainments were given in it. On 25th June, 1886, a cele- 
bration on a very large scale was given in it to celebrate the thirtieth 
anniversary of the Club, and some excellent poetry in German, written 
by Mr. H. Ebhardt, was recited, a translation being given to the 
English guests. It was in this building that Prince Henry of Prussia 
was entertained by the Club in February, 1898. The building becoming 
too small for the increased German community, the present much 
larc^er and handsome building was built, and opened with a large 
ball on 21st September, 1900. 

There were two Government bungalows at that time ; one at 
Changie and the other at Bukit Timah, near the road; a Govern- 
ment Notification issued in September stated that they were expressly 
constructed for the use of officers on duty in the rural districts, but 
were open to the use of others at other times. 

In July, it was decided to construct a wooden foot-bridge across 
the river a little above where Cavenagh Bridge now stands, the 
estimated cost was $9,835.49, which included a carriage way of sixteen 
£3et wide. There were then only two bridges — Coleman's, built in 
1840, and Thomson's, in 1844 — and as the Post OflSce was across 
the river, communication from the Square had to be carried on in 
boats, which was very inconvenient. The projected plan was not 
followed out, and some time after a foot bridge only, with a toll 
of a quarter of a cent, was put up. 

Mr. Carpenter, who painted the two well-known views of Singapore, 
was here in September. The Free Press spoke of him as follows : — 
Mr. Carpenter, an English Artist who has been resident here for 
some time, has just completed a view of Singapore, in oil colours, 
which is by far the best likeness of this place which we have ever 
yet seen. It is taken from Mount Wallich, and includes the whole 
of the town, while the back ground embraces an extensive panorama 
from Bukit Timah to Jobore Hill. The foreground contains characteristic 
groups of Malays, &c. Mr. Carpenter proposes, if a sufficient number 
of subscribers can be obtained, to have this picture engraved in 
line, in the best style, and we are sure it will form a very desir- 
able acquisition to all who are in any way connected with Singapore. 
The picture for the present is to be seen at the news-room in 
Commercial Square, but it will ere long be transmitted to London^ 
so that those who have not yet had an opportunity of inspecting 
it should lose no time in paying it a visit." The lithographed 
copies, of which there were many for a long time hanging in the 
houses in Singapore, were made in 1858. 

The curious way in which the convicts from India were kept 
under control, which led, however, to no evil results, and provided 
a body of men who did a great deal of good work in road. making, 
building the Cathedral, Government .House, and other public works, 
is shown by the following account of some of their proceedings in 
this year: — 

"It appears that the authorities, having at last made up their 
minds to forbid the convicts from exercising privileges which are 
denied to some of the free inhabitants of Singapore, gave orders 


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1856 631 

:hat on the occurrence of the last Mohurrum the convicts should not 
be allowed to carry their taboot in procession through the streets as 
in former years, but that their demonstrations should on this occasion 
take place within their own lines. This did not please these men, 
who had been accustomed to enjoy a degree of license strangely 
inconsistent with their condition, and accordingly on the evening of 
Wednesday last, the lOtli September, some hundreds of them forced 
tlieir way out of the lines, and carrying their faboof, and lighted by 
torches, they marched in procession to the house of the Resident 
Councillor, where they vented their displeasure by noisy cries and 
excited gestures and afterwards proceeded to the Government Offices, 
where they were at last prevailed upon by two of the officers, who 
had previously in vain attempted to restrain them, to return to their 

"Such an outbreak will no doubt appear strange to persons who 
are unacquainted with the way in which the convicts are managed 
in the Straits and the degree of license accorded to them. In former 
years they were allowed to indulge in their Saturnalia without 
restraint, their taboot was the gayest, and their processions the 
noisiest to be seen on the public streets. With only one or two 
European officers over them, the whole of the st^ff of Jemedars, 
peons, &c., are convicts, who must of course to a great extent be iden- 
tified in feelings and interest with those over whom they are placed. 
Large gangs are dispersed over the country in open lines, without any 
adequate guard or control over them, and these persons can have very 
little feeling of restraint. They look upon themselves as superior to 
the rural population and fully demonstrate this by their behaviour. 
Whatever may be the theoretical rules for their management, practically 
they are allowed a degree of liberty and freedom from discipline which 
is inconsistent with their status as convicts.^' 

On 21st March, by the P. & 0. Mail steamer Madras the new 
Recorder, Sir Eichard Bolton McCausland, arrived from England with 
Mrs. McCausland. Sir Benson Maxwell, who was the new Recorder 
for Penang, came at the same time. Sir Benson had been on a 
Commission concerning the conduct of the Crimean war, and in the 
Free Press was a quotation which had been taken from Punch, 
though it did not say so. The line? attracted general notice in 

" Whom shall we hang 

Is off to Penang 

With a place of £200 a year; 

The book was a sham, 

and we think my Lord Pam 

Buys his whitewash excessively dear.^^ 

Whether it was a misprint in the Free Press by printing £200 
instead of £2,000, or whether the writer was mistaken, cannot now 
be traced, as there is no copy of Punch of 1856 to be found in 
Singapore ; but the salary of the Recorder of Singapore was Hr. 25,000, 
and that of Penang ftj. 20,000 a year. 

The Court was opened on 22nd March by the l^ecorder, and the 
new Charter of the Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales Island, 


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632 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Singapore, aud Malacca was proclaimed; after which the Recorder 
took the oaths of office under the usual salute, Sir P. B. Maxwell being 
present on the Bench. 

One result of the new Charier was that eight gentlemen, who 
were Justices of the Peace, wrote a long letter to the Governor dated 
24th July resigning the office. They were Messrs. T. H. Campbell, T. 
0. Crane, J. J. Greenshields, C. H. Harrison, John Harvey, H. T. 
Marshall, W. Paterson, and W. W. Shaw. 

A public meeting was held at the News Rooms in Commercial 
Square on 29th July, at 2 p.m., for the purpose of taking into con- 
sideration the Draft Municipal ( Straits ) Act and other matters of 
importance to the Settlement. Mr. W. H. Read was called to the Chair, 
and made some remarks on the objects for which the meeting was 
lield. He then adverted to the proceedings which had recently taken 
place with reference to the appointment of peace officers, and which 
had led to the whole of the independent and unpaid Justices of tho 
Peace resigning office. As this subject was not without bearing on the 
questions which they had met to discuss, and as he saw several of the 
ex- Justices present, he hoped they would allow the correspondence 
which had passed between them and the Governor, to be read for the 
information of the meeting, which was done, and the following i-esolu- 
tions were passed : — 

Proposed by W. G. Kerr, and seconded by A. J. Spottiswoode :-— 
That the thanks of the Community be given to the ex-Magis- 
trntes, for their dignified and spirited conduct in resisting the 
despotic measures of the Government. 

Proposed by J. B. Cumming, and seconded by D. Duff : — 
That this meeting objects to Act XIII of 1856, as regards the 
Constitution and Management of the Police Force — being of opinion 
that the Rate-payers who furnish the funds for its maintenance, are 
entitled to a share in its control, and therefore earnestly protests 
against the arbitrary and unconstitutional measure which places the 
entire power in the hands of the Government. 

Proposed by A. J. Spottiswoode, and seconded by R. C. Woods : — 
That this meeting claims as a right that which has been already 
conceded by the Bengal Legislative Council in the preamble of Act 
III of 1847, to wit; that "it is expedient that all constables and 
subordinate peace officers and other persons appointed to perform 
duties of police should be appointed by the Authorities from whom 
they receive their pay and no others ; " — this meeting therefore 
submits that if the appointment of police officers is vested in 
the local Authorities, the Government should defray the expenses 
thereof, and on no account should the assessment funds be applied to 
such purpose. 

Proposed by J. Harvey, and seconded by T. 0. Crane : — 
That this meeting adheres to the opinion expressed at and 
adopted by the public meeting held on the 27th September, 1853, 
that the number of Municipal Commissioners should consist of seven 
elective and two Government members, it being of opinion that by 
a less number the interests of the Rate-payers would not be adequately 


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1856 633 

Proposed by 0. H. Harrison, and seconded by H. T. Marshall : — 
That Section 16 of the Municipal Assessment Straits Bill, by 
which power ia given to the Governor or Resident Councillor to fill up 
vacancies occurring in the Municipal Committee is decidedly objection- 
jible, and this meeting is of opinion that such vacancies should be 
supplied by a new election. 

Proposed by J. J. Greenshields, and seconded by T. H. Campbell : — 
That this meeting indignantly protests against the insidious introduc- 
tion of the Rupee Currency by the provisions of the Acts under review. 
Proposed by 'i\ 0. Crane, Esq., and seconded by W. Howard, Esq. : — 
That a Committee, to consist of the following Gentlemen, be ap- 
pointed to petition Parliament against the objectionable Acts of the 
Bengal Legislative Council : — Messrs. Logan, Read, Woods, Harvey and 

A reference to events which occurred in former years may prob- 
ably be useful in order to understand the reasons which induced 
the Justices to take such a strong measure. 

By the Letters Patent from the Crown (popularly called the 
Charter) by which the former Court of Judicature of Prince of Wales 
Island, Singapore and Malacca had been constituted, power was 
given to the Court at their General and Quarter Sessions to 
nominate and appoint constables and subordinate peace officers. The 
Justices of the Peace were authorised to sit at such General or 
Quarter Sessions, and to have a deliberate voice in the proceedings. 
For a considerable tim6 no attempt seems to have been made to exercise 
the powers given to the Court in its General or Quarter Sessions 
to regulate the Police, the executive making appointments and 
exercising a jjeneral management through the Sitting Magistrate, 
who was usually the Assistant Resident, and who also officiated as 
Collector of Municipal Assessment, which was disbursed by him 
under the control of his superiors. Matters went on in this man- 
ner for a number of years, but in 1843 the daring outrages committed 
by the Chinese drew the attention of the community to the in- 
efficient state of the Police, and a public meeting was held at which 
certain representations were made to the Government for the improve- 
ment of the Police force. These were given partial effect to, and 
amongst other measures adopted by the Government was the appoint- 
ment of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, subordinate to and under 
the control of the Sitting Magistrate, who continued to act as Super- 
intendent. This was soon perceived to be a very objectionable 
arrangement, especially as the Sitting Magistrate, as then appointed, 
might generally be expected to be a person of much less experience 
in Police affairs than the Deputy, who was liable to have his plans 
thwarted by a prejudiced or ignorant superior. This actually occur- 
red, and in addition it was found convenient to transfer the collection 
and disbursement of the assessment to the Deputy Superintendent, 
who thus had duties imposed upon him which interfered very materially 
with a proper superintendence over the Police force. The evil 
effects of such a state of matters were not long in manifesting them- 
selves, and in 1846 the Police as to discipline and efficiency was in aa 
defective a state as it had been in 1843. 


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634 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

In opening the Criminal Sessions in April, 1846, the Recorder, 
Sir W. Norris, in Lis charge to the Grand Jury, adverted in forcible 
terms to the very inefficient state of the Police and made several sug- 
gestions for its reform. The Grand Jury in their presentment dwelt 
at considerable length on the subject, pointing out what thoy 
conceived to be the causes of what they did not hesitate to 
designate "the present disgraceful inefficiency" of the Police. 
One of the reforms recommended by the Grand Jury was the separation of 
the offices of Sitting Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, which 
latter office they were of opinion should be conferred on the Deputy 
Superintendent, Mr. Dunman, who ought to devote his whole time and 
attention to the duties of his office, being relieved from the collection of 
the assessment and from acting as a Sitting Magistrate. The Justices of 
the Peace, finding that by the Charter they were clothed with certain 
powers of control over the Police, conceived that it was time for them to 
undertake a duty which they had perhaps too long neglected, and accord- 
ingly a sitting of the Court of Quarter Sessions was held to consi<ier the 
matter, which was attended by the Recorder, the Resident Councillor, and 
nearly all the Justices of the Peace. It was proposed at this meeting that 
the sole superintendence of the Police should be given to Mr. Dunman, the 
Deputy Superintendent, who was to have the entire management of the 
Police, subject only to the control and direction of the Court of Quarter 
Sessions. This was opposed by tlie Resident Councillor who considered it 
would be productive of much inconvenience to remove the Police from 
under the control of the Executive. The Recorder and the great majority 
of the magistrates did not adopt this view, and the proposed changes were 
accordingly made, the Resident Councillor protesting against them. 
Under the new system of management thus introduced, the Police force 
rapidly improved. 

the Magistrates in Quarter Sessions were not, however, long allowed 
to exercise the power, of which their first use had proved so beneficial to 
the community. Without waiting to see whether the alterations made by 
the Court of Quarter Sessions would succeed or not, the Government of 
India hastened to publish the draft of an Act which, by the terms in which 
it was conceived, betrayed no small degree of pique at the course taken by 
the Court of Quarter Sessions. By that Act the appointment of Constables 
and Peace Officers was to be vested in the Governor of Bengal and the 
Governor of the Straits Settlements. The Community of Singapore 
petitioned the Governor-General in Council against this Act and prayed 
that the appointment and control of the Police might be left with the 
Court of Quarter Sessions. No attention was given to this memorial, and 
in due time the Act was passed and came into operation as Act III of 1847. 
Three of the non-official Justices immediately upon the Act being passed 
resigned their offices, and some of the Justices at Penang took the same 
step. From this time the office of Justice of the Peace in Singapore was 
held in little esteem, very few non-official persons being found willing to 
accept it. 

Governor Butterworth would seem at last to have become aware 
of the mistake which had been committed by the passing 
of Act III of 1847, and in the end of 1853 he induced a 
number of gentlemen to allow their names to be put in the Cora- 


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1856 635 

mission of the Peace on the understandinjr that the obnoxious Act 
was to be repealed, and there was also a prospect of the appoint- 
ment and control of the Police being vested in a popularly elected 
Municipal bodv, a course which had before been recommended by the 
community, and which seemed equally satisfactory with restoring the 
power of the Magistrates, as in either case the Act would be repealed, 
and the management of the Police left with those in whom the 
community could place confidence for its right administration. 

Things remained in this state when the Letters Patent reconsti- 
tuting the Court of Judicature arrived from England, and ns it was 
found that they contained the same powers as the former Charter in 
regard to the appointment of peace officers, it was conceived that the 
authority of the Court in its Quarter Sessions of the Peace was thereby 
revived, and the Justices were therefore prepared to exercise their 
functions in that respect. Mr. Blundell, the Governor, however, took 
a different view and thought that his powers under Act III of 1847 
remained unaffected, and proceedings to try this question were taken 
in Court, with the result that the Recorder held that the opinion of 
the Governor was the correct one, and that the powers of the Justices 
in Quarter Sessions were not resuscitated by the recent Letters Patent. 
The LegisLitive Council of India in the meantime passed their Police 
Act, which extended to the Straits as well as to the Presidency Towns 
of India, and by it the complete nomination and control of the Police 
was committed to an officer to be appointed by Government with the 
title of Commissioner of Police, and which office in the Straits Settle- 
ments it was proposed to confer on the Resident Councillors. ^. 

Whatever, therefore, may have been the grounds on which Colonel 
Butterworth conceived himself warranted in holding out hopes that the 
power of the Court of Judicature in General or Quarter Sessions would 
be restored, the Government of India did not do it, and the Justices of 
the Peace, who had held office on the faith of Colonel Buttervvorth's 
representations, had but one course left when it was seen tliat these 
representations would not be given effect to. 

On 2nd June Captain John Russell, the Postmaster and Master 
Attendant resigned, and Mr.Vaughan, who was then Superintendent of 
Police at Penang, was appointed in his place ; which gave, the paper 
said, general satisfaction, as he had every qualification for the office. 
A letter very numerously signed by the merchants, was sent to the 
Government, suggesting that the Post Office was becoming of great 
importance and recommending Mr. Cuppage, if the work could be 
separated from the duties of Master Attendant and Marine Magis- 
trate, which were enough for one official. It was not done for many 
years afterwards. 

In June the Free Press said '^ The Singapore petition about the 
Rupee Currency has been presented to the House of Lords by the 
Earl of Albemarle, and his Lordship appears to have made himself 
fully conversant with the subject, and to have stated the case of the 
petitioners with much ability. The reply to the elaborate exposition 
of Lord Albemarle made by Lord Granville is anything but satisfactory. 
Lord Granville says that the matter is not so simple as Lord Albe- 
marle seems to think. We are at a loss to conjecture where the difficulty 


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636 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

lies. To any person possessed of common sense it must be very obvious 
that a purely decimal system, represented by a suitable silver and 
copper coinaj^e, is infinitely superior to a barbarous currency like that 
of India. The difficult point is the strange infatuation of the Indian 
Government, including the Legislative Council, which induced them to 
persist in doing their utmost to overturn the decimal currency esta- 
blished in the Straits and to substitute the inconvenient Rupee system, 
in spite of the strongest remonstrances from those who were to be the victims 
of their meddling. Lord Granville states that the Spanish Dollar was 
never a legal tender and never had been authoritatively settled as such. 
There may never have been a distinct legislative enactment to that 
effect, but in every other way it was sanctioned and recognised as the 
legal currency of the Settlement. For many years all the transactions 
of government were in dollars, the Charters of Justice emanating 
from the Crown mentioned dollars, all suits in the Courts of a pecuniary 
nature referred solely to dollars, and merchants and all other sections 
of the inhabitants carried on their dealings and kept their accounts 
entirely in this coin. Moreover, government further recognised this 
currency by supplying a copper coinage adapted to it and to it only. 
These are facts which show that whether or not the dollar had ever 
been settled as a ^ legal tender ' in the Straits, there can be no doubt 
that it was long the actual and only currency.^' 

A public meeting was then called by the Sheriff in the Square 
on Tuesday, 1st July, to take the question into consideration, and 
the objections by the whole community to a Rupee currency were 
insisted on as warmly as ever. The attempt of the Government in 
India to force a double currency had proved a source of general in- 
convenience to everyone, including the officials. 

A member of the Legislative Council of India, known as Rupee 
Allen, who was supposed to have taken the Straits affairs under his 
particular care, came to Singapore from Calcutta in October, and 
was actually seen in the Square. So a few merchants sought an 
interview with him, to expose again the mischief which it w?is 
endeavoured to force upon the trade of the place, but he said he 
was not '' at home " and went back as ignorant as he came ; the 
newspaper remarking that he was one of these small minds who 
think it an affront to ask them to reconsider a matter after they 
have expressed their opinion upon it, and consider discussion a bore, 
and so gain the contempt of many and the respect of none. 

Whampoa & Co. had been importing ice from America, but the 
consumption was only from 400 to 500 lbs. a day, and it required 
a sale of 1,000 lbs. to meet the cost and expenses, so they stopped it. 

At a public meeting held in July a resolution was adopted by 
a majority but subsequently withdrawn, which proposed to appoint a 
committee for the purpose of drawing up petitions to Parliament 
with a view to an address to the Crown, praying Her Majesty to 
make Singapore a Crown Colony. 

In September, BTer, Rawson & Co., advertised for sale by auction 
the late Dr. Montgomerie^s nutmeg plantation at the junction of New 
Harbour and Tanjoug Pagar Roads, with the dwelling houses called 
Craig Hill and Duxton, area about 32.^ acres, with 1,700 nutmeg trees. 


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1856 637 

Mr. Thomas Church left Singapore, for the last time, on Monday, 
22Tid September, after having been Resident Councillor for over nine- 
teen years, as already stated on page 326. Mr. Henry Somerset 
Mackenzie, a Bengal Civilian, from Penang, took Mr. Church's place, 
Mr. Braddell was Police Majjistrate at Penang, and Mr. Willans at 

Two small gunboats, called the Malacca and Singapore, were 
launched in October. They were built by Tivendale & Co., and the 
paper said they promised to be very efficient craft, going fast either 
with oar or sail and being of very light draught in the water. They 
were manned by eleven men each, armed with pistols and cutlasses, and 
each boat carrying a brass 3-pounder gun. They were stationed so as to 
make a complete sweep round the island, and it was their duty to be 
constantly on the move, looking into the different creeks and rivers and 
other resorts of sea robbers. 

In October the paper said: — "The Rajah of Siak has arrived here 
with thirty prahus and about 500 followers. His object, we understand, 
is to fit out an expedition for the purpose of bringing to submission 
a number of refractory chiefs who refuse to recognise his authority and 
who have kept Siak in a state of disorder for a year or two past. He 
has purchased a schooner and other vessels of smaller size, and is lay- 
ing in a lar;je supply of arms and ammunition of all kinds. As soon 
as he has repressed the civil commotions in his country, the Rajah 
intends to turn his attention to the development of the resources of his 
state, and for this purpose, we hear, he will avail himself of European 
agency. From the close proximity of Siak to Singapore the Rajah will 
have peculiar facilities for carrying his intention into effect, if he pro- 
ceeds upon any well regulated plan. Coal, tin and gold are said to 
exist in considerable quantities, while the usual articles of produce 
which the Malayan forests yield, such as wax, rattans, gittah taban, 
canes, dammar, &c., &c., are found in abundance." All this came to 

In December Mr. C. R. Rigg, who liad been Coroner, was made the 
Secretary to the Municipal Commissioners, in anticipation of the passing of 
the new Municipal Act. He was Secretary until he left Singapore in 1866, 
and did a great deal of good work. 

In December Mr. A. M. Aitken, who had in 1852 been admitted one 
of the Law Agents of the Court as they were then styled, and was after- 
wards called to the Bar in 1864, was appointed Registrar of the Court, in 
room of Mr. Caldwell. The cause of it created a great deal of excitement 
in the place at the time. The reasons for this can be seen from the 
following^ passages taken from an article in the Free Press of 1 1th December. 
Mr. Caldwell in after years paid off by far the greater part of his creditors 
in Singapore in full : — 

" Some three weeks ago unpleasant rumours began to circulate regard- 
ing Mr. H. C. Caldwell, Registrar of the Court of Judicature here, to the 
effect that he had misappropriated a large sum of money entrusted to his 
care for investment, and that he had tried to conceal his defalcations by 
rendering false accounts to his principal, apparently showing that the 
money was out at loan on mortgage. Very little credit was at first given 
to these reports, as Mr. Caldwell had always borne the highest character 


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638 Anecdotal Hiaiory of Singaptprr 

for integrity and there had been nothing in his mode of liviDg, 4c., showing 
any expend it nre beyond what was amply covered by his official emolnments. 
About a fortnight at/o, however, these runr>nr< began to acquire consistency 
and strength, and were at last proved to be bat too true, by Mr. Cald- 
well being deprived of his office, the Jodges of the Conrt having 
called upon him for explanations which he was anable to give. Thus 
lamentably was terminated an official connection with the Conrt c>f 28 
years, daring the course of which Mr. Caldwell had enjoyed the confi- 
dence and respect of his superiors and of the public, who looked apon 
him as a most zealoas and upright public servant. 

'' The enquiries which now took place on the part of persons interested 
in property entrusted to Mr. Caldwell's care, in the various capacities of 
agent, trustee, executor and, through his office, as administrator in 
intestate and other estates, revealed that his misappropriations had been 
extensive and general, not even his most intimate friends being spared 
riie confidence placed in Mr. Caldwell's integrity by every class of the 
community was so unlimited, that the property confided to his manai^e- 
ment, in the various capacities above mentioned, was very large, and from 
all that we can learn the amount which he has fraudulently made away 
with cannot be less than one hundred thousand dollars, and will prob- 
ably be found considerably in excess of that sum. Although repeatedly 
pressed for an explanation, Mr. Caldwell would not give any intelligible 
account of the manner in which he had disposed of this large sum. 
Ultimately a criminal cliariie was made against him by one of the severest 
sufferers from his frauds, but on the officers proceeding to his house to 
take him into custody, Mr. Caldwell had disappeared, although seen and 
conversed with only a few hours previously, and, notwithstanding the 
most perserving search since, no clue has been obtained to his hiding 
place. Some persons think that he has succeeded in leaving the island, 
while others believe that he still remains in Singapore, concealed by 
some of his native friends. The shock which this pccurrence has inflicted 
on the community has been great, for very seldom has any one enjoyed 
Bucb universal respect and esteem as were accorded to this unhappy 
man. We have delayed as long as we could from alluding to this 
matter, in the hope that something miorhfc transpire which would give 
it a less repulsive aspect, but any such expectation appears now to be 
vain, and it would therefore serve no good purpose to remain longer 

Mr. Aitken held the post for a short time, and in 1857 Mr. Christian 
Baumgarten was appointed and held it until 1874, when he practised at 
the Bar, and Mr. Charles Eugene Velge, one of the sons of Mr. John 
Velge, spoken of at page 185, was appointed Registrar. 

On the 18th December, a public meeting, very numerously attended, 
with Mr. W. H. Read in the chair, was held, and the followiuir 
resolutions were passed : — 

Proposed by W, Napier, and seconded by W. Paterson 

That the imposition of tonnage or port dues on shipping is an 
unwarrantable attack upon the freedom of this port, which this 
meeting views with apprehension and regret ; as being in direct 
violation of the principles upon which this Settlement was established, 
and calculated to endanger the very existence of its trade. 


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1856 689 

Proposed by J. Harvey, and seconded by J. B. Cummin^. 

That the following gentlemen be requested to form a Committee 
to draw up a Memorial to the Legislative Council in India, embodying 
these views : — Messrs. W. II. Head, John Purvis, Wm. Napier, A. Logan, 
Joaqnim d' Almeida and W. G. Kerr. 

The paper remarked on this as follows : — 

'* The feeling of the meeting, which was very numerously attended 
by the European and Chinese merchants, as well as other parties in- 
terested in the welfare of Singapore, was unanimous, and strongly 
expressed against the proposition. This is not the first time, by any 
means, that it has been sought by the Government of India to intro- 
duce duties at Singapore, in one form or another. So far back as 
1826, the subject was mooted by the East India Company, but the 
proposal met with such a warm opposition in England, that it was 
abamioned for the time being. About ten years later, the Indian Govern- 
ment again brought it forward, the pretence for doing so being the 
«rreat expense incurred in putting down piracy in these seas. The 
merchants petitioned both Houses of Parliament, and the result was, 
that although in the meantime the authorities in India had modified 
their scheme and restricted it to the levy of port or tonnage dues, 
positive orders were sent from home that no measure of the kind was 
to be attempted, and that if already in operation it was to be forthwith 
annulled. Statesmen of all parties in England have ever recognised 
the importance of maintaining in all its integrity the system 
on which Singapore is conducted, and which has been produc- 
tive of such beneficial results to the trade of England as well 
as to that of India. Our immediate rulers in India, however, 
have never been able to regard the Settlement of Singapore through 
any other medium that a revenual one; and whenever, therefore, 
there has been an excess of expenditure over receipts, whether arising 
from ordinary sources of disbursement or from measures required for the 
protection of trade, they have frowned upon the unfortunate place, 
and the one sole remedy propounded — the only suggestion they have 
had to make on the subject — is the imposition of duties on the trade. ^' 

The result of this protest, supported by the action of old Singa- 
poreans in London, who went to the Board of Control on the subject, 
was that the Directors at Leadenhall Street sent out positive instruc- 
tions to Bengal to do nothing at all in the matter, and again in the 
history of Singapore the merchants maintained the freedom of the 

In 1854 the local Presbyterians considered the advisability of 
having a Minister of the Presbyterian order in Singapore. A com- 
mittee was appointed, and Dr. Guthrie, the famous Edinburgh preacher, 
was requested to find a suitable Minister, and the Rev. Thomas 
McKenzie Frazer, m.a., arrived in October, 1856. In the same year 
a Chinese catechist named Tan See Boo came from Amoy, recom- 
mended by Dr. Carstairs Douglas and other missionaries there. He 
worked in a small building, used as a Mission Chapel, in the compound 
of Miss Sophia Cooke's GirU^ School in Sophia Road. Miss Cooke took 
much interest in the matter and had induced Mr. Humphrey, the Church 
of Engliind Chaplain, to begin mission work among the C'hinese some 


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640 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

months before the Presbyterians were actually at work. See Boo, who, 
was one of the earliest Presbyterian converts in China, had been work- 
ing with the Episcopalians for a time, but was afterwards ordained an 
Elder in the Presbyterian Church. In September, 1860, Mr. Frazer 
went to Australia; and in June, 1861, the Rev. John Matheson arrived. 
He left for home in 1866, and died at Alexandria; having been 
very much respected in Singapore. The Rev. W. Jeff rey arrived 
from home in J 866, but not long afterwards he left the Presbyterian 
communion and joined the Plymouth Brethren in Singapore. Mr. 
Alexander Grant, M.A., a Presbyterian missionary from Amoy, and 
Tan See Boo, doing the same. In 1870, the Rev. M. J. Copland, the 
fourth minister, arrived, but he died suddenly in the following rear, 
on 19th February, 1871. 

The Rev. William Dale began his ministry in November, 1871 
Jind in April, 1872, the Presbyterian Church took an important step and 
entered into the Synod of the English Presbyterian Church. Befort 
that the local Church had had no direct ecclesiasticjil connection ai 

In Mny, 1872, as the Session had lost its Chinese Mission bv 
the deflection of Messrs. (jlrant and See Boo, they decided to take 
over for a time Peter Tychicus and the Tamil congregation, and 
thus became more interested than before in Mr. Keasberry's Mission. 
On his death in 1875 the Bukit Timah Chinese Mission pas.sed unde-^ 
the care of the Presbyterian Church, and ten years later the Pres- 
byterians also took charge of the Chinese work at the Prinsep Stree: 
Chapel, which since 1885 had been under the charge of the Rev. 
J. A. B. Cook. Mr. Dale was succeeded by the Rev. W. A'ltkeu, 
M.A., who left in 1883. The Rev. A. S. MacPhee, m.a., b.d., was 
then appointed and remained until 1889, when the Rev. G. if. 
Keith came, and was succeeded by the Rev. S. S. Walker in 1896 

The services were formerly held in the building known as tiie 
Mission Chapel, originally built by the London Missionary Socieu, 
at the corner of Brass Bassa Road and North Bridge Road opposite 
the present Raffles Girls School, and in 1876 that site, which had 
been purchased by the Presbyterian congregation from the London 
Missionary Society on 3rd August, 1866, was sold and the present 
Church in Stamford Road was built, the Government giving the land 
free for the use of the members of any denomination of Christians 
holding as their confession of faith the ecclesiastical documents received 
by the different branches of the Presbyterian Church and known as 
the Westminster Standard. 

In December the screw steamer Sir James Brooke commenced to run 
between Singapore and Sarawak, and it was in this year that the 
steamers of Jardine Matheson i% Co., and A pear & Co., commenced 
to run between Calcutta and China. These steamers were the first regular 
vessels to trade with the Port in addition to those of the P. and 0. j 

A large number of new houses had been built durin«j the year, 
but, notwithstanding this, rents rose very much and continued to ; 
advance, and the value of fixed property, whether in town or country, | 
was double or treble what it bad been three years before. The demand 


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1856 641 

or residences in the country exceeded the supply. A new Court 
louse was proposed, and the side of Government Hill below the 
emetery was suggested, but it would have been inconvenient. The 
Tictoria Brick Bridge over the Rochore river was built in this year. 
L new steam wharf and coal shed for the use of the Borneo Company 
lid Jardine Matheson & Go's, steamers ( since called the Borneo 
Vharf ) was building, and at the west of New Harbour Mr. Badenock 
OTTimenced a dry dock under the superintendence of Captain Clou jjh ton, 
he spot selected being where a patent slip had been commenced 
lut had not succeeded. The premises were known afterwards as the 
few Harbour Dock. The construction of a dry dock at Piilo Brani 
ras also being attempted at this time. 

It was in this year that Lieut. John Frederick Adolphus McNair, r.a., 
anio to Singapore. He left England for Madras in 1846, a 
ittle over seventeen years of age. One of those young Englishmen, 
•f whom there were so many in the history of India in former days, 
vho had the resolution to leave home when almost school-boys (and 
vhose parents were brave enough to let their boys go), at a time when 
ife in India was far difEerent from what it is now; when such a voy- 
ige was a matter of many months ; and when a return home was looked 
ipon as a very distant and, perhaps, unlikely event, so much less was 
known about the country in those days. In 1S53 he went to Malacca in 
command of the detachment pf Madras Native Artillery stationed there, 
lie made friends with Mr. J. B. Westerhout, who was so well known 
Muonij^the up-country natives, and was the person in Malacca to whom the 
Irovernment looked for advice and assistance in dealing with the neigh- 
bouring Malay States. He used to go long journeys with him into 
the interior, and as he had been a student of geology in England 
with an eminent geologist, he sent to Calcutta specimens of various 
metals, &c., which he found in his journeys. He made a collection 
also of the woods and resins of the country, which was sent to the 
Government of Madras. He had been scarcely a year in Malacca 
when he was sent to take command of the Artillery in Labuan, and 
in July, 1856, he was called to Singapore to act as Adjutant to the 
Artillery in the Straits, with his head-quarters at Singapore. While 
he was in Labuan he had travelled over part of Borneo Proper, 
and made a valuable collection of shells which were afterwards placed 
in the Cuming collection now in the British Museum. The Governor 
of the Island there was an eager coadjutor in that work ; he was 
Mr. Low, now Sir Hugh Low, afterwards in Perak. He had not 
been long in Singapore before he was appointed Private Secretary 
and A.D.C. to the Governor — a post very different in the days of 
the East India Company to what it is at present. The most 
analogous now is that of the Colonial Secretary; for all the corres- 
pondence of the Government then passed through the hands of the 
Private Secretary. It was while he was so employed that the Indian 
Mutiny broke out, and Lord Elgin was here on his way to China 
in 1857, as is related in the next chapter. 

In December, 1857, he was appointed Executive Engineer and 
Superintendent of Convicts in the Straits. This involved the charge of 
!^U the public works, and what was cjuite as important, of the 


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642 Anecdotal Hintory of Singapore 

Criminal Jail, holding, in very insecure walls, some three 
thousand prisoners from India, Ceylon and Hongkong. He had 
passed in Hindustani in India and spoke it well, and he acquired 
a remarkable personal influence over the gangs of prisoners, which 
was frequently noticed. He had been fortunate in succeeding tv.r 
such officers as Colonel Man and Colonel Macpherson, who like himself 
had been in the Madras Artillery. They had brought the jail into 
order, and organised gangs of convicts as artificers in various trade*. 
Those convicts were of much use to Singapore, at a time when 
labour was scarce and required for other than public purposes; fr 
the long roads across the island were made by them, the Cathedra! 
was built by them, and later on Government House, while they wer.' 
in charge of Major McNair. In 1861, while he was in Englantl, h^ 
learnt photography, so that he might teach others to take ih-^ 
pictures of the convicts, and he introduced it in the Grovernment service 
here, and afterwards at Penang. It was no uncommon thing for 
ladies and gentlemen to go and be photographed in the Jail by the 
Major. There was not the competition in photography then that there 
is now, when it is so much better known. It is noteworthy that it 
the charge of so large a number of convicts (many times the numl>er 
there is in our jail now), he was at one time assisted by only one 
European Warder, the remainder of the petty officers being recruited 
from among the prisoners. An account of this is to be found ic 
the book lately written by Major McNair and Mr. W. D. Bayliss, whc 
was his assistant and Superintendent of Works and Surveys for 
many years in Singapore, entitled "Prisoners their own Warder^" 
published in one volume in London in 1899. 

No doubt the system had its defects, and that there was a wide 
difference between the jail as it is now, filled with offenders sen- 
tenced in Singapore, and a jail which contained criminals who ran»e 
from distant places and did not know the local language, and ha«l 
no friends outside the walls to help them to escape from the islaml 
if they succeeded in getting clear of the jail ; but notwithstanding, 
it was often a wonder to many to find so large an establishment of 
the worst characters of India kept in check by what was, practi- 
cally, almost personal influence alone. 

The jail was one of the most remarkable sights in the place, ami 
no one came on a visit from India in those days without going over 
it before he returned. For all sorts of things — from coir matting and 
rattan chairs down to waste paper baskets — evTery one went to the jail, 
and the rattan lounging chairs the Chinese now sell here so largely 
were invented there, beginning with a cumbrous, heavy chair, which 
was the first pattern, down to the shapes we see now. 

In 1867 the Major returned from a visit to England. He came 
out with Governor Ord, and was appointed Colonial Engineer to the 
Straits Settlements —the new name of his office in the Colony, which 
was then taken over from India. The first works he had to take in 
hand were Government House and the Water Works, which latter had 
been commenced, ignominiously smashed up, and been commenced again, 
and failed again, under other hands, and were at last constructed in 
his time. He made three schemes for the works, and one was approved 


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1856 643 

in England by Sir Robert Rawlinson and sanctioned by tlie Secretary 
of State. Though the Major had to bear the brunt of the credit (?) 
of the extra expense caused to the Colony, it should be said, in justice 
to him, that he was not in any way responsible for the former designs, 
and that the successful issue was due to his working while on leave 
in England with Sir Robert Rawlinson, who was afterwards made the 
responsible adviser of Government in the matter. By one of those 
who knew of the former fiascos, how one Engineer thouglit water 
would run up hill without a head on it, and another thought to lower 
the surface of a stream by digging away at the bed of it, it was 
said that the best epitaph for Major McNair's services in the Straits 
would be:*' The Water-works were finished in his time, and the Water 
ran through the pipes.^^ There is a road called after the Major be- 
hind Tan Tock Seng^s hospital in Sorangoon Road. 

In 1868 he went with the expedition to view the eclipse at Whae 
Wan on the East Coast of the Peninsula, which caused the death of 
the old King of Siam, who went to the same place, and caught fever, 
of which he died, consequent, as some thought, on curing himself with 
too many Hollo way^s Pills. In 1875 the Major went as Chief Com- 
missioner in Perak during the disturbances, an account of which is to 
be found in his book called "Perak and the Malays" published in 
London in 1878. He was afterwards Resident Councillor of Penang, 
and was obliged to give up the post in 1884, on medical advice, after 
thirty years of hard work, and has since lived at Brighton. His eldest 
daughter married the late Mr. Thomas Scott, of Guthrie & Co., and 
the youngest daughter Mr. Charles Stringer of Paterson, Simons & Co. 

The Major went on several missions to the surrounding countries, 
besides the one to Siam, and was very well acquainted with all the 
neighbouring places and their inhabitants, and his name was well 
known among them. He was permitted to accept the order of the 
White Elephant of Siam, and made a C.M.G. in 1879. He belonged 
to several of the learned societies in England, and took a great deal 
of trouble to send curiosities and specimens of fruit and other pro- 
ducts to Europe. He acted as Colonial Secretary in Singapore at one 
time, and there was scarcely any official in the service who knew as 
much as he did about the Straits. The always ready kindness and hos- 
pitality of himself and Mrs McNair were known to all, and, especially 
in the old days, to young men just out from England in a strange 
place, to whom such friends wore a world of good. His very 
courteous manner to everyone, and his consideration, especially for all 
those employed under him, will long be remembered. 

Among the list of passengers who arrived from Europe on the 
1 6th December by the P. & 0. Mail is found the Name of Mr. Charles 
Dunlop, who came out from Glasgow to Maclaine, Fraser & Co., 
at nineteen years of age. He was afterwards a partner in that 
firm, and subsequently for some years in Powell & Co., and has 
now been longer resident in Singapore than any other European 


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644 Anecdotal History of Singapora 



ON the 2nd January all the shops remained closed, the markets 
were deserted, and the boatmen and hack-gharry syces refused 
to work. The Municipal and Police Acts had been brought into 
force without their objects being properly made known to or under- 
stood by the natives, and considerable misconception prevailed about 
them, which led to a general combination among the native 

An attempt to induce a shop-keeper to open his shop, led to a 
riot in which the police were roughly handled, and as the state of 
affairs in China had given rise to some feelings of ill-will towards 
Europeans on the part of some of the lowest classes of the Chinese, 
matters began to assume a somewhat serious appearance. In those 
days there were very few Singapore-born Chinese in the place. 

A public meeting was called by the Sheriff at one o'clock in 
the afternoon. Mr. John Purvis was Chairman, and a qommittce of 
nine European gentlemen, with Whampoa and Tan Kim Cheng, was 
appointed to wait at once upon the Governor, asking him to issue 
a proclamation calling upon people to return to their business, and 
saying that any acts of intimidation would be severely punished ; 
and that the Governor was at all times ready to listen to proper 
complaints, respectfully made, and that the translations of the Acts 
would be revised. 

The following proclamation was issued in Chinese the same 
day : " Now on account of all classes of the people closing their 
shops, and not wishing to do business because they have heard 
that the words of the new Act are not clearly understood; people 
do not understand it, therefore it is difficult for them to obey, and 
in consequence the present misunderstanding has arisen, and the 
closing of the shops has taken place. Now be it known that within 
one month hence the definitions of the Act will be more clearly 
explained, in order that it may be fully understood. If in the body 
of the Act there is anything objectionable to the mass of the 
population, such as know thereof may come within one month to 
the Court, and to the Governor may make known their complaint. 
Now you ought all to open your shops and transact your business 
as usual and do not disobey this. This is given to understand.^' 

An adjourned meeting was held the ne3rt day, Saturday, at 
•1 p.m.> when the greater part of the shops had been opened* and 
a lonir discussion took place incidentally about the probable advantage 
that would resnlt. if the Settlements were transferred to the direct 


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1857 645 

rule of the Crown. Some amusement was caused by a counter- 
proclamation in Chinese being read. It had been found pasted over 
the Government proclamation ; the purport being that no faith was 
to be put in the Governor's promise to have the law explained ; 
that he only wished to gain time and secure provisions ; while the 
Chinese were quite ready with guns to sweep away every barbarian 
from the island. 

Mr. W. H. Read proposed, seconded by Mr. T. 0. Crane, a 
resolution, which was carried unanimously, as to the danger of the 
Secret Societies, on whose headmen the people evidently relied in 
the disturbances; and the game committee as before was asked to 
wait upon the Governor, and satisfy themselves that the authorities 
were prepared to suppress any outbreak that might arise. 

The Military and the Volunteer Rifles were in readiness, and 
bome large guns were mounted on Government Hill (now Fort Canning) 
and Pearls Hill. An additional regiment was soon afterwards sent 
from Madras. 

At the Assizes in the following week the Grand Jury in their 
Presentment at the close of the Session dwelt at considerable length 
on the dangers to the peace of the Settlement arising from the 
Secret Societies or Hoes amongst the Chinese being allowed to exist 
unchecked, and suggestions were offered as to the best means of 
dealing with these societies. 

The enforcement of the Police and Conservancy Acts by the 
Police gave rise to another disturbance in February, confined however 
to one section of the Native population, the Klings, and was unfortu- 
nately attended with considerable bloodshed and loss of life. The 
Imaum of the Mahomedan Mosque in Telloh Ayer Street had obtained 
a license to celebrate a festival extending over several days, on the 
condition that the proceedings should terminate each evening at ten 
o'clock. On the evening of the 5th February, Arthur Permefather, one 
of the Police Inspectors, going his rounds between ten and eleven, 
accompanied by a Police Sergeant and several peons, found a large 
assemblage of Klings at the Mosque, completely blocking up the 
road in Telloh Ayer and Japan Streets, there being also obstruc- 
tions in the shape of stakes and plantain trees stuck in the ground. 
The Inspector ordered the obstructions to be removed by the peons, 
but this was resisted by the Klings. The Inspector then sent to the 
Police station for a reinforcement, he himself remaining on the spot 
with the Sergeant. Seven or eight policemen presently arrived, some 
of them armed with loaded muskets. The Inspector then again ordered 
the Imaum to remove the obstructions, and on his declining to do so, 
the police peons were ordered to take up the stakes. On their attempt- 
icg this, the mob assailed them with sticks and stones, and the 
Sergeant and one of the peons were knocked down, the latter being 
rendered senseless. He was taken up by some of his comrades, and 
the party retired towards the Police Station in Telloh Ayer Street, 
followed by the mob, who continued to throw^ missiles. When near the 
Station the Police fired over the mob, who retreated, and the party 
then gained the Station. The mob then assailed the Station with 
brickbats, stones, &c., and the Police replied by firing from both the 


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646 Anecdotal Sistory of Singapore 

ground and upper floors. One person was shot dead^ one died nexi 
day from his wounds, and eleven others were so severely wounded 
that they were sent to the Hospital. Inquests were held on the bodies 
of the persons killed, and, in both, verdicts were returned of justi- 
fiable lioniicide. The Commissioner of Police (Mr. Mackenzie, the 
Resident Councillor) after the first inquest, with the consent of the 
Governor, dismissed the Inspector, Sergeant, and one of the peons, 
and reduced some of the native police, who had been concerned in the 
affair, in rank. This decision was come to because the Commissioner 
was of opinion that the conduct of the Inspector was most rash and 
precipitate, that fire arms had been used without sufllcient cause and 
that this had provoked the riotous and illegal attack of the mob. 
Considerable excitement was induced amongst the European resident? 
by this decision of the Commissioner; they thought it was not justi- 
fied in face of the verdict of the Coroner's Jury, who had completeiV 
exculpated the police from blame, and they also conceived it war 
calculated to prejudice the interests of Inspector Pennefather, again:^i 
whom proceedings had been taken before the Police Magistrate, 
which resulted in his being conunitted to take his trial for man- 
slaughter at the next Criminal Sessions. 

A public meeting was held on 26th February, at which over S'J 
Europeans were present, with Mr. C. H. Harrison in the chair, and 
remonstrances were addressed to the Governor, who however declined 
to restore the dismissed persons to the positions they had previously 
held in the Police force. The difference of opinion between the 
Governor and the European residents generally was so wide, that 
at one of the meetings a Committee was actually appointed "for 
the purpose of drawing up a resume of the general policy of Hi- 
Honor the Governor, pointing out the repeated instances in which 
it has been at variance with the true interests of the Settlement, 
and begging that the present serious difference of opinion between 
the Executive and the public of Singapore be taken into the earnest 
consideration of the Supreme Government." 

This threatened indictment of the Governor was not however 
carried out; the Inspector was brought to trial at the Criminal 
Session held in April, and after a trial lasting eight days was acquitted 
of the charge against him. 

The Free Fretss remarked that upon a review of the case it appeared 
that the police acted with a want of that forbearance and good temper 
which was requisite, and had rocoursc to unnecessary violence, cal- 
culated to provoke the mob, though it could not excuse it in the extre- 
mities to which it went. The conduct of the authorities in afterwards 
dealing with the case was undignified, and wanting in that spirit of 
fairplay and impartiality which ought to characterise those in high 
office towards their subordinates. 

In February the petition against levying tonnage dues in the Straits 
ports was sent to Calcutta by the Committee appointed on 18th December. 
As soon as the information reached England in March, a number of 
gentlemen connected with the Straits had taken up the matter there with 
great vigour. A memorial to the President of the India Board was pre- 
pared and presented, and the dei>utation met with a most attentive hear- 


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iog. Xo positive assurances were given, but it was obvious that if it were 
pressed from Calcutta it would receive no countenance at the India office. 
A copy of the memorial was in the Free Press of 30th April. The names 
make a rough sort of directory of the old Singaporeans in England, and of 
the large firms in London connected with the trade of Singapore, at that 
time ; so they are inserted here, in alphabetical order ; first of individuals, 
and then of London firms, which comprised some very eminent houses : — 

W. S. Binny 
Edward Boustead 
Thomas Church 
J. A. Crawford 
John Crawf urd 
J. P. Cumming 
Robert Diggles 
James Fraser 
Lewis Fraser 
Samuel Garling 
Ellis J. Gilmaii 
Alex. Guthrie 
James Guthrie 
W. W. Ker 
Geo. 6. Nicol 
J. Padday 
W. W. Shaw 
J. N. Smith 
Ghas. Spottiswoode 
William Spottiswoode 

Arbuthnot, Latham & Co. 

Ashton & Co. 

Borneo Co., Limited 

Chalmers, Guthrie & Co. 

Crawford, Colvin & Co. 

D. Dunbar & Sons 

Forbes, Forbes & Co. 

Gregson & Co. 

Harvey, Brand & Co. 

R. & J. Henderson 

Fred. Huth & Co. 

Jardine Skinner & Co. 

W. S. Lindsay & Co. 

Matheson & Co. 

Oriental Bank Corporation 

Palmers, Mackillop, Dent & Co. 

P. & 0. Company 

Wm. Jas. & H. Thompson 

Rawson Sons & Co. 

Small & Co. 

On the 6th February a regatta took place in the morning, and in the 
evening the members of Lodge Zetland in the East, No. 748, gave what 
they modestly called an evening party, but was a most successful ball 
and elaborate supper. 

On the evening of Saturday 14th February, the Singapore Volunteer 
Rifle 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. 
Brigadier McLeod permitted all the troops in Singapore to be paraded on 
the Esplanade. The Corps wore a band of crape on the arm as a sign of 
mourninjr for their late Colonel. Governor Blundell presented the colours 
to Mr. W. H. Bead, 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 battle-field, nor to em- 
broider the names of victories on these colours. Ours are less martial, 
roore peaceful aims. Our object is to assist in protecting the lives and 
property of the public, and to shew the evil-disposed how readily 
Europeans will come forward in the maintenance of order and tranquillity. 
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." 

In March the Dutch barque EenrieUa Maria was brought into 
Singapore by part of the crew of an Americar merchant vessel, 


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6-18 Anecdotal Bistory of Singapore 

having been found in a disabled state in the China Sea. The vessel 
had left Macao for Havana, with upwards of -300 Chinese coolies ''ii 
board, but the coolies had risen during the passage down the China 
Sea, and seized the vessel. A great many of the Chinese had left 
the ship, and the Captain and the greater part of the crew were 
stated to have gone away in a boat. When the vessel was taken 
possession of by the American salvors, there were only four men 
of the original crew, together with about one hundred of the 
Chinese, on board. On the arrival of the vessel at Singapore, Governor 
Blundell communicated the circumstances to the Dutch Resident at 
Riow, and a Dutch vessel of war having been sent to Singapore, 
the Governor delivered the Henrietta Maria to her, in spite of the 
protests of the United States Consul; the American flag, which the 
Consul had authorised the salvors to hoist on the vessel, being 
hauled down by the Master Attendant. An American man of war 
arrived some time afterwards at Singapore to enquire into the 
circumstances, and some correspondence ensued between the commander 
and the authorities. The affair having been reported to the Supreme 
Government by the Governor, his conduct in giving up the vessel 
to the Dutch authorities was pronounced illegal, and he was desired 
tu make proper compensation to the salvors. 

A immber of petty cases of piracy occurred in the waters neiir 
Singapore, and Chinese pirates as usual were busy in the Gulf of 
Siam and China Sea at the season when the junks and other native 
craft passed through on their way to or from Singapore. The state 
of affairs in China in this year prevented the promised measures 
being taken by Commodore Henry Keppel for an organised system 
of operations against the pirates in the neighbouring seas. 

As the remarkable establishment of Sir James Brooke's Goveiu- 
mcnt in Sarawak had almost seemed part of the history of Singa- 
pore, great excitement was caused on the arrival of the schooner 
Good Luck, on 10th March, with the news of the very serious outbreak 
of Chinese there in February, attended with considerable loss of life 
and destruction of property, which did not, however, more than 
very temporarily interfere with the prosperity of the place. The 
Chinese acted with great secrecy and determination, and dropping down 
the river to Kuching in large numbers, on the night of the l/tlj 
February they attacked tlic houses of the Europeans connected with 
the Government and the stockaded posts in which were lodged the 
treasure, opium, ammunition, &c. The houses occupied by Sir James 
Brooke, Mr. Arthur C. Crookshank the magistrate, and Mr. Middleton 
were burned down. Sir James Brooke narrowly escaped with InV 
life, Mr. and Mrs. Crookshank were severely wounded, two of Mr. 
Middleton's children perished in the flames, and Mr. Nicoletts, a 
relation of Sir James Brooke, and Mr. Willington, a metallurgist 
in the service of the Borneo Company, were slain. 

The Chinese went up the river, but again returned to Kuching 
in large force on the 22nd, took possession of the town and burnt 
down a part of the Malay kaiiipong. They did not long however 
enjoy their triumph, for the Borneo Company^s Steamer Sir Jauie^ 
Brooke having arrived from Singapore, she proceeded up to Kuching 


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1857 649 

on the 23rd and by the fire of her guns soon cleared the town 
of the Chinese. They retreated in much disorder, and the Malays 
and Dyaks having rallied and collected in great numbers, an un- 
relenting pursuit of the Chinese was kept up and they were finally 
driven into the Dutch territories. 

In March Boustead & Co. advertised for sale the house of Mr. 
William Napier in the "Tang Leng" district, 3^ miles from town. 
It was afterwards, and is now, known as Tyersall. The house had 
been biiilt in 1854, and the grounds had an area of 67 acres. 
Tlie house was pulled down when the late Sultan Aboobakar of 
Johore built the present Istana on the site. 

On 19th March, H.M.S. Raleigh, Captain Turner, bearing the 
broad pennant of Commodore Keppel, c.b., sailed into New Har- 
l)Our. On the 24th she came into the roads and saluted the shore. 
As the old Admiral was in Singapore when this chapter was being 
written, he was asked (while he was sitting on an easy chair, 
looking across the Straits, from the verandah of Dato Meldrum^s 
house in Johore) if he remembered how it came about that he sailed 
llie Raleigh into New Harbour instead of into the Roads. He said 
that he did it because he had surveyed New Harbour while lie 
was in the Meander, and had the same master, (navigating officer) 
with him in the Raleigh who had surveyed it with him, so he felt quite 
confident about it, although others had been afraid to go in ! It seemed 
very curious to be talking in this part of the world, to the old 
Admiral of the Fleet, close on his 93rd year, hearing details of those 
old days. He said he thought that he came in late in the evening. 

Admiral Montagu tells in his book, mentioned later on, how 
Keppel carried on to be at Hongkong in time for the fray, iifter 
leaving Penang, and the frigate was running with the main-deck 
guns dragging through the water, as the Commodore would not 
allow a scrap of sail to be taken in during the squalls. 

An address signed by the whole of the mercantile community 
was presented to him on the 20th, and contained the following 
passage : — '^ We hail with pleasure your appointment as a guarantee 
on the part of Her Majesty^s Government for the future efficient 
protection of trade and commerce^ by confiding a high command to 
so distin guished and energetic an oflftcer as yourself, whose ex- 
perience in the East has been so extensive, while your appreciation 
of Singapore is peculiarly gratifying to us." 

And the reply contained the following : — " It is with no small 
feelings of pride and gratification that I have to acknowledge the 
kind and flattering " welcome back " I have this day received in an 
address signed by the Merchants and other Gentlemen residents at 
Singapore. I plead guilty to a long standing and deep interest 
ill all that concerns this rapidly rising Settlement. By zealously 
performing those duties for which I may be selected by an energetic 
and distinguished chief, I shall hope to retain the good opinion of 
my kind friends at Singapore." 

The Raleigh was a magnificent frigate of 50 guns, the last of 
the old sailers ! She was said to be the fastest sailing frigate 
afloat, and had a crew of 600 men, besides super-numeraries. 


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650 Anecdotal Hiisiory of Sinrjapore 

Tlic vessel was uiekuamed in Singapore the " House of Lords," as 
there were iu her so many officers of illustrious family, who became 
distinguished men iu after years. The first lieutenant was Mr. Good- 
enough, who was killed in Australia while Commodore, universally 
lamented. Tlie second is now the Earl of Clanwilliam, who came here 
afterwards as the Admiral of the Squadron with which the two sons 
of the Prince of Wales came to Singapore. The third was Prince 
Victor of Hohenlohe. Among the midshipmen was Captain Keppcl'? 
nephew, his sister's son, now Sir Henry P. Stephenson, k.c.b., 
Equeny to the King, who was the Senior Officer in command of 
the Cliannel Squadron at Spithead at the great Jubilee Review in 
June, 1897. In the Admiral's last book he says that at the 
time of the bombardment of Bomarsund in the Crimean War : 
'* On (me occasion when my officers had taken ray nephew 
Harry Stephenson on shore, a round shot buried itself within 
a few yards of them. They dispersed in haste, all but young Harry, 
who picked up a pointed stick and commenced digging at his first 
trophy." He came again to Singapore when he commanded the 
Carysfort in Admiral Clanwilliam's squadron with the Princes, tlie two 
sons of the Prince of Wales, and Admiral KeppePs only son was then 
a midshipman in his ship. Lord Charles Scott, the senior midship- 
man of the Raleigh, has been many times in Singapore since then. 
He was Captain of the Icarus and afterwards of the Bacchante, in 
which the two Princes were midshipmen. In 1902 he is Commander- 
in-Chief at Plymouth. There were others on board whose names arc 
now well-known. 

The Raleigh only stayed a few days, and on her way to 
Hongkong was passing near Macao, when she struck on a sunken 
and nncharted rock. The Free Press contained a long account of 
the accident. The Admiral tells us about her loss, and the well- 
known story of his saluting, as she was sinking, a French man-of- 
war that was near, and the French Admiral's exclamation, " C^est 
magnifiquc ! A British frigate saluting the French flag while sinking!" 
But the Admiral does not say, what the old story told, that he was 
the last man up the ladder from the main deck when the last shot 
of the salute had been fired. The ship was never raised. 

After the loss of the Raleigh, Commodore Keppel was in the 
Fatshan Creek action on the 1st June, 1857, what has been spoken 
of as " the greatest cutting-out action of modern times.'' In the 
Junior Army and Navy Club in London is a picture of Commodore 
Keppel in his boat, with his dog " Mike " barking in the bows. 
The boat was sunk, the bowman killed, a sailor cut in two, a third's 
arm shot off, and while Prince Victor was leaning forward to tie 
it up with his neck-cloth, a shot passed through both sides of the 
boat wounding more of the men. A long account of the action was 
in the Free Press on 29tli October, 1867, and a copy of the picture 
was in one of the London illustrated papers on Jubilee Day in 1897. 
There is also a full account of it in Mr. W. H. Read's book 
called '' Play and Politics." 

In April Dr. Little advertised the land at Institution Hill for sale in 
lots of one or more acres each for house-building, but it was not sold. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

1857 651 

In May, as in India during the two months before, rumours 
began to arise, in a vague uneasy way, about threatenings of coming 
trouble in India. There were only suspicions, apjiarently founded on 
nothing but talk in the bazaar. It now seems possible that the 
convicts in Singapore may have had, as many natives in India had, 
some news of what was in the wind. This seems to be likely, as on 
Friday, 7tli August, a state prisoner, named Kurruck Sing, who had 
been released some time before from confinement in the Jail, and 
allowed to reside outside, was seized and taken on board H. M. S. 
Racehorse, a gunboat in the harbour. He had been detected in tamper- 
ing with the Sikh convicts in the Jail, and was sent away to 

On Sunday, 31st May, the opium steamer Fiery Crona, Captain Grant, 
arrived from Calcutta, and the first news reached Singapore of the 
Mutiny. The Free. Press said that it was hoped the Mutiny might 
not spread, and added that if the European troops in India should not 
be thought sufficient to maintain order in the crisis, it was probable 
the whole or the greater part of the force, then on its way from England 
to China, might have its destination temporarily changed to India. 
And that however much the postponement of operations in China might 
be regretted, everything would have to yield to the paramount necessity 
of maintaining our power in India, and teaching the misguided sepoys 
that the only ultimate result of revolt on their part would be to ensure 
a certain and terrible retribution. 

Mr. Abraham Logan was writing the Free Freffb- at that time, and 
his words are noteworthy, as matters turned out. Lord Elgin had 
arrived the day before the paper appeared, and it is possible Mr. Logan 
may have heard that day what the Plenipotentiary had decided during 
the night to do. If ho had not, the passage was a remarkable one. 

The Right Hon^ble Lord Elgin, the 8th Earl, was afterwards a 
distinguished Viceroy of India. He had been appointed British High 
Commissioner and Plenipotentiary in China, and had left England with 
his staff, in the P. & 0. Mail on 26th April, and arrived at Point do Galle, 
Ceylon, on 26th May. There he heard of the outbreak of the 3rd Bengal 
Cavalry and other native troops at Meerut in the Punjab, but it was 
thought that it might be a slight matter. He arrived at Singapore on 
Wednesday, 3rd June, to wait the arrival of H. M. S. Shannon, a 
steam frigate, Captain W. Peel, c.b., which had come round the 
Cape, as his Embassy Ship, to convey him to China. 

On page 95 it has been said that there had been a tradition 
that he. Lord Elgin, walked up and down all night on the long 
front verandah of the old Government House, now Fort Canning, 
and decided in the morning to divert the troops going to China. 
As the sheets of this book have been printed, a copy has been 
sent to England in order that a few old Singaporeans there might 
read them and make any remarks. One of these was Major McNair, 
often spoken of elsewhere in this book, and just as this Chapter has to 
he written, letters have been received from him which put the 
matter beyond a doubt. 

Whether Lord Elgin did or did not actually walk up and down 
the verandah (as tradition has said, and the writer, who heard it here 


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652 Atiecdotal Ilintory of Singapore 

only seven years afterwards, believes) is not of any consequencu ; 
but the main fact, which has been doubted, as will be shewn 
presently, is now beyond question, for we have the story from one 
who was present. It may be remarked that Mr. John Cameron, 
who wrote his book in 1864, also seven years afterwards, said, at 
page 24, that Lord Elgin " all that night paced up and down his 
room in the Grovernment bungalow where Fort Canning stands now, 
holding interviews with the naval and military officers of the ex- 
pedition, and next morning at daylight a steamer was despatched to the 
Strjiits of Sunda with the order which, it is believed by many, saved the 
British Empire in India." This is confirmatory of the tradition spoken 
of, but it was not in the mind of the writer when page 95 was written, 
but has been noticed in hunting into the matter for this chapter. 

The way in which a doubt arose as to this very important 
decision having been made in old Government House, was a passage 
in a book entitled *' Life and Times of Sir George Grey " whicli 
stated that Lord Elgin had no knowledge of the diversion of the troops 
for China to India in 1857, until informed of the fact by Sir George 
Grey, at that time Governor of the Cape ; and that the credit for 
the first ^' timely and invaluable aid, " also mentioned by J^ord 
Malmesbury as due to Lord Elgin, was really due to the action 
taken by Sir George Grey. This led to a letter of some length 
clearly disproving this, written by Sir Henry Loch, then Governor 
of the Cape, which appeared in the London Tlmeff in October, 1892 
in which he said that it was the information in Singapore that 
decided Lord Elgin to take the course he did. 

Mr. Loch was an Attache to Lord Elgin's Embassy in 1857. He wa> 
afterwards Sir Henry Loch, Governor of the Cape, and later was created 
Lord Loch, the first Baron. He died in 1900. 

Now follows a copy of what Major McNair wrote in December, 1901, 
t<» Mr. \V. H. Read on the subject : — '^ Did you notice by the way, that iu 
the description of the old Government House, on page 95, Buckley says 
that there was a tradition that Lord Elgin had walked up and down the 
verandah one whole night, thinking what was best to be done about send- 
ing troops to Calcutta to help to quell the Mutiny ? — There was some 
truth in the remark, for I was present at the interview between Lord 
Elgin and Governor Blundell when the serious news came from 
Calcutta. Lord Elgin asked the Governor, who knew about India and its 
people, whether he thought the revolt was likely to spread ; and when he 
replied in the affirmative, His Lordship decided to divert the troops to 
India then on their way to China. This was accordingly done, and orders 
were sent to turn the troop-ships on to Singapore en route to Calcutta. 

*' The late Lord Loch was Private Secretary to Lord Elgin and 
1 was Private Secretary to Governor Blundell at the time, and wc 
were present at this remarkable interview; which, it was afterwards 
said, had resulted in the saving of Calcutta by the timely arrival 
of re-inforcements from the Straits, the Mauritius and the Cape ; and 
those from the Straits were the first to arrive on the scene. There i? 
no doubt the anxiety might have caused Lord Elgin a sleepless night, 
but I cannot vouch for his nocturnal peripatetic walking about the 
verandah of old Government House." 


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With tin's testimony of Lord Locli aiul Major McNair in strict accord, 
there is no room for donbt; and it is very satisfactory that the mention of 
the tradition, in a casual way, while writing on another subject, has 
brouo^ht Major McNair^s most interesting letter in time to insert it here. 

Lord Roberts of Kandahar in the sixteenth chapter of his book 
• I'orty-ono Y'ears in India ^' says: — "It was cheering to learn that 
Lord Elgin, taking a statesmanlike view of the situation, had diverted 
to India the force intended for the China Expedition." But he 
added this foot-note : — " Since writing the above, it has been brought 
to my notice that the promptitude with which the troops were 
diverted to India was due in a great measure to the foresight of 
Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape, who, on hearing of the 
serious state of affairs in India, immediately ordered all transports which 
touched at the Cape on their way to take part in the China Expeditionnry 
force, to proceed directly to Calcutta, instead of to fc?ingapore." 

The letters of Lord Loch and Major McNair show that Jjord 
Roberts was not correctly informed in the qualification he pnt upon 
what he had first correctly written. The matter seems clear, also, foi- 
other reasons. There was quick steam communication, for those days, 
between Calcutta and Singapore, by the opium steamers which had 
only commenced to run in 1856, and the news only reached here 
three days before Lord Elgin arrived, when the transports were prob- 
ably past the Cape on their way towards Singapore and China. 
WTiether there was steam-communication between Calcutta and the 
Cape at that time, cannot be ascertained in Singapore when this 
i>i written, but, it is extremely unlikely, and in the absence of 
direct proof to the contrary, it seems impossible that any definite 
news could have reached Sir George Grey in time to divert 
the transports. It also seems to the writer to be most unlikely 
that Sir George Grey would have taken upon himself the grave 
responsibility of taking them from under the orders of Lord Elgin, 
when the latter could divert the ships himself (as he did) if he 
saw sufficient reason to do so. 

It has been said speaking of the responsibility which Ijonl 
Elfcrin took in this matter, that if the state of affairs in India had been 
exaggerated, as was quite possible, or if the Mutiny had been suppressed 
before the troops arrived, which was also possible, so far as could bo 
known in Sinj^apore that night, his reputation would have been ruined. 

The Shannon arrived on the 10th, and left for China on 23rd 
•June, and before her arrival the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine held 
a Levee at Government House, on Saturday the 6th, and was pre- 
sented by Mr. W. Paterson with an address from the Chamber of 
Commerce, referring to the critical state of our relations with China. 
In his reply Lord Elgin said that it was gratifying to witness the 
progress of the community of Singapore, which, under the influence 
of wise and just laws, was daily advancing in prosperity and wealth ; 
and comparing it with the sad condition of Canton where bad 
faith and misgovemment had paralysed trade, and spread hunger, 
desolation and ruin. The Chinese merchants also presented an address 
speaking of their great advantage of being undei* lOnglish (rovern- 


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654 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

On the morning of the lOfch Lord Elgin went with a partj of 
gentlemen to pay a visit to the Perseverance Sugar Estate of J. 
d'Almeida & Sons, and wont over the works. On Friday evening, 
the 12th, the mercantile community entertained the Earl at a Ball aiid 
Supper at the Masonic Lodge. 

On 28th July the Shannon with Lord Elgin, and the Pearl, both steatr 
vessels, arrived together from Hongkong, and left for Calcutta on the oOrh 
They were the vessels from which the famous naval brigade was forme^i 
at Calcutta to go up-country in the Mutiny. The ShaJinon was commande-I 
by the gallant Captain Peel, afterwards Sir William Peel, who wa- 
seriously wounded in command of a battery at Lucknow. An account -r 
his death is at the end of Chapter XXIX of Lord Robert's book, " Fortr- 
one Years in India/' In the Shannon also was a young lieutenant, twentj- 
two years of age, now Admiral of the Fleet Sir Nowell Salmon, v.l., 
G.C.B., an account of whose exploit at Lucknow is in Chapter XXIV of 
the same book; he was afterwards in Singapore when he was Commander- 
in-Chief on the China Station in 1888. 

The Pearl was commanded by Captain Sotheby, who died Sir Edward 
Sotheby, K.c.B, in January, 1902, a retired Admiral. After the Ral^^ig}* 
was wrecked, three of her midshipmen. Lord Charles Scott, the Hoil 
N^ictor Alexander Montagu and II. F. Stephenson were told that ihej 
were appointed to the Pearl in Hongkong, while they were having break- 
fast with Mr. John Dent, and left for Singapore and Calcutta the ner. 
day. Admiral Montagu, now retired, one of the sons of the Seventh Ear! 
of Sandwich, has written a book called *^ A Middy's Recollections, 18oo ij 
1860/' published by Adam and Charles Black, London, in 1900. It con- 
tains a great deal about Admiral Keppel, the Crimean War, the Fatshat 
Creek action, and the Indian Mutiny, and has a picture of the Prinrtu^* 
Roj/al, of 91 guns, in the Crimean War, which was flagship in China ir 
ISOG, and pictures of the Raleifjh and the battle of Fatshan, showing tlie 
linking of Commodore Keppel's galley; and a picture of the Pearl. The 
Admiral says in his book that the three midshipmen thought then that 
following Keppel in China would have been more to the point, as they 
could not anticipate the Naval Brigade in India, which got them their 
promotion and the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, and a great re- 
ception in Calcutta when they gob back to the Pearl in February, IS^^. 
having left her to go with the Naval Brigade in October, 1857, a period of 
eighteen months away from their ship, which is probably unexampled in 
the service. 

The Pearl was a steam corvette of 21 guns, 1,469 tons, 400 horse 
power, and was often in Singapore. It was of her that an amusing storv 
was told of Captain John Borlase, afterwards a retired Admiral, who took 
her out to China under sail, and on entering Hongkong harbour, with all 
plain sail set, being one of the old school of course, he forgot the ship had 
got steam up. He took in sail as he neared the shipping in the niost 
seamanlike way, but to his horror the vessel went on in spite of taking in 
sail after sail, and cannoned from the bows of one vessel at anchor against 
another vessel, and fought her way through the shipping, until it struck 
him there must be something more than the wind driving the ship, and he 

called out " Good , I forgot I was a steamer. Stop the thing down 

below.^' Little harm was done, and soon afterwards Captain Borlase 


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1857 655 

engaged the batteries at Kagosima in Japan, in 1868. This was tlie same 
ship which Commodore James G. Goodenough, in Australia, commanded 
at the time of his unfortunate death. The Pearl was also in Singapore, 
when she came again from England, from October, 1866 to April, 1867, 
when Admiral Keppel hoisted his flag in her on the day of the transfer on 
1st April, and the Pearl accompanied his yacht, the Salamis, to Sarawak. 
She afterwards went north, and eventually went home by the Pacific, to 
be paid off, and was broken up long ago. As Sir Walter Besant made 
the old sailor say in " By Celiacs Arbour," '^ it seems a shame to break 
such brave ships up, and they ought to be painted every year and 
kept for the boys and girls to see." 

Lord Elgin was three times in Singapore in 1857 ; once on his 
way to China, then on his return to Calcutta, and again on his return 
to China from India. He died in November, 1863, on his way to 
Lahore, while Governor-General of India, in which he had succeeded 
Lord Canning. In Sir Algernon West^s Recollections published in 
1899, he says: — "Lord Elgin, Lord Dalhousie, and Lord Canning, 
fell victims to the climate and responsibilities of our Indian Empire : 
they were swept away, as Mr. Gladstone said, 'in the full maturity of 
their faculties, and in the early stages of middle life.^ Someone has 
said that 'forty is the age of youth, and fifty the youth of old age,' 
and they, before they reached that age, had all sought their 

There were several accidents to the troopships. The famous 
Himala7ja, that had been bought into the Navy from the P. & 0. at 
the time of the Crimean War, and did such good work for some forty 
years, (she was broken up in 1896) brought out the 90th Regiment (the 
[\M'thshire Volunteers) and got aground on a shoal in Banka 
Straits, but got off again. When she arrived in Singapore " this 
maofnificent steamer was an object of much curiosity at the P. & 0. 
(•ompany's Depot, and the numerous visitors to her were very 
courteously received by her officers, notwithstanding the very hurried 
nature of her brief stay in port." The regiment's band, over 50 
strong, played on the Saturday evening on shore at New Harbour. 
A long remembered incident was the total loss of H. M. 
Steam Troopship Transit ^ 3,000 tons, 450 horse-power. The wreck 
was sold by auction at the Master Attendant^s Office in Singapore 
on 10th September. She was lost on a sunken rock off Cape Oelar, 
Island of Banca. The troops were brought to Singapore in the 
Straits Steamer Hooghhj, and a chartered American vessel the 

The troops on board were 193 Medical Staff Corps, 30 Koyal 
Engineers, 286 of the 90th and 119 of the 59th Regiments. The 
ship went down so quickly that only part of the arms were got 
oat, and the officers and men did not save any of their clothes, 
many of them leaving her without shoes or stockings as the decks 
were being washed when she struck. The officers and crew came 
to Singapore in the Borneo Company^s steamer Sir James Brooke, 
The Transit had a most unfortunate voyage all the way. She left 
Portsmouth on 8th April for China, and the next day returned in 
a sinking state, having during the night grounded on her anchor. 


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656 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

All hands disembarked, the vessel was repaired, and all on boari 
ready to start again on 15th April. But in going ont of t-s 
dock she ran into the gate, injured the propeller, and, as it wi^ 
afterwards known, seriously shook and loosened her stem, which ws- 
not apparent at the time. Then she got into rough weather ii 
the Bay of Biscay, and a lot of water got in at the stern p^sr 
She put into Corunna to repair, and set off again. 

She made good weather as far as the Cape, as loncj as li- 
wind was on the beam, but before the wind she rolled very mm. 
and took in lots of water. The injury at the stem showed ita-: 
again, the seams opened, and at each roll of the ship, water radii 
in. In the course of one day no less than 600 tons of wav- 
were pumped out, and it was feared she would go to the bott-in 
but fortunately the weather improved, and they made Java Head. 

They were steaming at their best, number one, speed of 8 ktun* 
when the vessel ran hard on to a sunken rock not on the ckn. 
humped violently three times, and settled down about six miles fr v 
shore. Perfect discipline was maintained, the boats were got 'ft: 
but they only held 200 men, and the ship seemed likely tu 'J 
down before half could be landed. Captain Chambers ordered tbri 
to be landed on a reef two miles away, which was nncoYiTtn} ^- 
it was low water. So all went first to the reef, and then to rs 
shore ; and the last trip was accomplished just in time, as the iidT 
on the reef was rising, and was up to the knees of those wh- 
remained to the last. Tlie discipline was compared at the time t.- 
that at tho memorable accident oF the Birkenhead. The soldiers al' 
went on to Calcutta in the Shannon and the Pearl. 

Neil, Outram and Havelock Roads in Singapore town were, abtvi: 
this time, named by the Municipality after some of the heroes ii 
the Mutiny. 

One of the measures adopted by the Government of India kr 
meeting the emergency in which the Mutiny had placed it, was tin 
passing of a legislative measure by which the Press was subjecteii 
to the most rigid fetters. Although this Act was at first oliieS} 
justified on the ground of the seditious character of the native 
publications, no exemption was made in favour of the English pre?\ 
This Act was applied everywhere throughout British India witlioui 
exception, and the newspapers in the Straits, although they coulii 
not possibly exercise the slightest effect on tho mutiny in India. 
found themselves subject to all the provisions of this most foolisli 
Act. A public meeting was held on 28th July, Mr. M. F. Davidson 
in the Chair, to publicly protest against the application of this lav 
to the Straits. The Act excited so much disapprobation both in 
India and England that it ceased in June, 1858. 

In May Mr. T. A. Hehn, Avho had retired from Behn, Meyer 
& Co., gave $500 each to the Sailors Home, Mr. Keasberry's Malay 
Schools, Tan Tock Seng's Hospital, and the Seamen's Hospital. 
which tho Free Press said was an example that might be folIoveJ 
more extensively by retiring millionaires of Singapore. 

It was in this year that the Governors of the different 
Presidencies, and other heads of Departments in India were ordered to 


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1857 657 

make Annual Reports, and the first Report on the Administration 
of the Straits, during the year 1855-56, was made by the Governor. 

It having been reported in August that the local government 
intended to allow the convicts the liberty of parading the streets 
during the Mohurram festival, the withdrawal of which in the previous 
year had led to very riotous acta on their part, a number of 
irentleraen addressed the G-overnor pointing out the inexpediency of 
allowing, the convicts any such license. The Governor in reply stated 
iliat permission had been given to the convicts to parade certain 
streets outside their lines — -and that this permission had been granted 
imder the conviction that to refuse it would have the effect of 
needlessly exasperating the convict body, and of driving them to 
acta of desperation more dangerous to the peace and good order of 
the town than those which occurred the previous year. The convicts, 
after all, declined to avail of the permission given them ! The large 
number of convicts in Singapore, and the reported intention of 
Grovemment to send here a number of the most dangerous prisoners 
confined in Alipore Gaol, as well as sepoys and others convicted of 
participation in the mutiny in India, led to the inhabitants memorializ- 
ing the Governor General in Council on the subject, protesting against 
>Qch additions being made to the convict body in the Straits and 
praying that transportation to this quarter should be wholly dis- 
continued. The Memotial was transmitted through the Governor, who 
was understood to be favorable to its general purport, having 
apparently considerably modified his opinions regarding a class whom 
in 1856 he had designed as "harmless settlers." 

On 9th September it was stated in the Free Press that the Government 
would probably construct a Naval Dock at Pulo Brani, as it was under 
contemplation; which had been brought about by Commodore Keppel ; and 
that considering the value of the services he had always sought means 
of rendering to Singapore, and in order to connect his name permanently 
with the benefit he had contributed to confer on the place, it was 
•suggested that " the name of New Harbour be changed to Keppel 
ilarbour." This was done in 1900, as has been said on page 493. 

On 3rd October, a dinner was given to Commodore Keppel in 
the Hotel de I'Esperance, on the Esplanade, called afterwards the 
Hotel de TBurope. Mr. John Harvey was in the Chair. The paper 
said that excellent speeches were made by Sir Richard McCausland 
the Recorder, who was a very witty, genial Irish speaker, and others. 
The Free Press remarked that the loss of his beautiful frigate the 
i?a/^i(//t has caused much disappointment in Singapore; that his gallant 
conduct in the Fatshan Creek action had added to the brilliant 
reputation he had already earned; and that the public dinner was 
characterised by a degree of enthusiasm not often witnessed on such 
occasions. The Commodore heard of his promotion to Rear Admiral 
and that he was made a K.C.B., just at the time. In his diary he 
said: "Waited on by a deputation of the merchants to invite tne 
to an Entertainment. Grand dinner given me by residents. Their 
kindness prevented me responding as I wished.^' On the next day 
it said : — - '^ Afternoon passed agreeably at Angus' small bungalow, 
where Whampoa and Harrison dined. 


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658 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Mr. Gilberfc Angus and Mr. Wharapoa, just spoken of, were at 
one time partners. Gilbert Angus came from Lerwick, the capita' >/ 
the Shetland Islands, and had been in Java before he came to Sinc^pcrt 
He was afterwards book-keeper to Shaw, Whitehead & Co., in j 
which Captain James Stephens and Michie Forbes Davidson (afterirards 
of A. L. Johnston & Co., and Boustead & Co.) were partners. WhLr i 
Mr. Davidson was away in Europe, Stephens took Mr. Robert Dof 
then per procuration holder of Boustead, Schwabe & Co., as a partner 
and, in consequence, Angus left the firm and joined Mr. Whampx. 
in Whampoa & Co. Mr. Davidson returned, did not like thearrangr- 
ment, and joined A. L. Johnston & Co. Mr. Angus had nutmeg plan- i 
tations, and owned a number of the hillj round Tanglin at differs: 
times, as well as land in other parts of the island. His name frequemh 
turns up in title deeds relating to land in a most anexpeci:i 
fashion. He also tried brick making after Mr. Hentig gave it ap 
but he did not succeed ; indeed it may be said that he was not for- 
tunate generally in his business pursuits. He was a Manicip: 
Commissioner for some time, and knew a great deal about the pUc-. 
He never returned to Europe, and died at his residence in Armenia: 
Street on 24th March, 1887, at 72 years of age, having been borr 
on the day of the battle of Waterloo. He had been an auctioneer 
latterly, and was in failing health for some time. Ho was one :* 
the oldest residents and left a large family. 

It was curious how many of the well-known residents in Singap-jrc 
in its early days came from Lerwick. Besides Mr. Angus, Mr. William 
Paterson of Paterson, Simons & Co., came from there. Also W. 0. Leisk 
Lloyd^a Surveyor and chronometer maker, and Andrew Hay, who was in A 
L. Johnston & Co., and then a shipchandler with Duncan in Hay ani 
Duncan, who also came from Lerwick where his father was Sheri! 
Substitute as mentioned on page 155. The two brothers Gilbert arc 
Robert Bain, well known in the place, and partners at various time- 
in A. L. Johnston & Co., Boustead & Co., and Maclaine, Eraser & Co 
also came from Lerwick. It seems too late now to find out how : 
came about ; probably one of the first was a sailor, or on board ^ 
vessel in the East as A. L. Johnston was, and he may have seen tk 
prospective advantages of the place and sent the news to Lerwiel 

Mr. Whampoa, whose name was Hoo Ah Kay, was certainly tK 
best known and most liked Chinaman in the Straits. His father caac 
to Singapore in its earliest days, and kept a .shop to supply the shippii]: 
and town with beef, bread and vegetables, which grew into a lam- 
business. Mr. J. T. Thomson, in one of his books, says he first kuev. 
Whampoa when he was a young boy in his father's shop, which ffa^ 
at the corner of Bonham Street and Boat Quay in the direction toward 
Elgin Bridge. After his father's death, Whampoa carried on tlic 
business, and for many years, and after his death, the firai were con- 
tractors for the navy. He first had a plantation where the Tanglin 
Barracks are now; and long before they were thought of, he lia<i 
bought a neglected garden two-and-a-half miles out of town on the 
Serangoon Road. He built a bungalow there and made a fine garden, 
and had curious dwarf bamboos, and plants cut into resemblances of 
animals. There was an aviary, and peacocks, bears, and other anii 


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1857 669 

night or two at Whampoa's bungalow was a frequent treat to naval 
icers, with whom he was much brought in contact, and who harl 
ich admiration for him. There is a good picture of him in Admiral 
DppePs last book, who often mentions him. For example in his 
ary in 1848, Captain Keppel wrote : — ^' Our worthy old Purser, Sim- 
Diis, died while staying at Whampoa^s country house. Ho was a 
le specimen of his countrymen ; his generosity and honesty had long 
ade him a favorite. Whampoa gave sumptuous entertainments to 
ival officers. At midnight, by the light of a full moon, we would, 
sit the beautiful Victoria Regia, a magnificent lotus in a circular 
)nd, a present from the Regent of Siam who sent it through W. H. 
ead.'* And nine years afterwards, the Admiral wrote : — " Put up at 
Tiampoa's and how comfortable the old fellow made me.'^ 

All visitors to Singapore had heard of him before they landed, 
id it was the first place enquired for when a drive was to taken 
it of the town. It was one of the most hospitable houses in Singa- 
Dre. It was the custom in the early sixties for gentlemen going out 
} dinner to dress in white, with the exception of Government Housp ; 
r a first visit soon after arrival in Singapore at a party where there 
ere ladies ; or Mr. Whampoa's ; where a black dress suit was always 
orn. It may have been noticed that at the first Eace Ball, see page 
87, the words Full Dresa were at the foot of the advertisement. It 
leant evening dress, and not the white suit with jacket, as was usual 
II all occasions then, and for many years, until about 1870 probably, 
rhen evening dress superseded it. At the dances in the old Assembly 
tooms white dress was worn. 

Mr. Whampoa was almost, the only Chinaman in Singapore in those 
ays who spoke English; which he did with ease, but with some 
urious rnispronounciations ; for example he asked Mr. Thomson to 
cratch his father's portrait, and he used to point to it, and tell how 
•Ir. Thomson had scratched it for him. If he could be induced to 
ing a Chinese song, the only one he knew, it was very lautrhable, 
md he was as much amused, and laughed as heartily as any one 
'Ise. He was a very upright, kind-hearted, modest, and simple man, a 
riend to everyone in the place. Towards the later years of his life, 
le launched out into general business and speculations, in company 
tvith some European merchants in the place, which got him into 
roublous times, without his own fault, but he weathered the storm, 
'vith his fortune very much reduced, in which he had the sympathy of all. 

Mr. Whampoa was born in Whampoa rear Canton in China 
iibout 1816, and died in Singapore on 29th March, 1880, 64 years 
old. His father was in Singapore when he was born, but his 
mother never came to the place. Ho was for many years Consul for 
Russia, and possessed a consular uniform and sword, which he used 
to say he had only put on once, and that he looked so "ugly" 
and was laughed at so much, from his curious appearance in it, that 
he never wore it again. He was one of the first Unofiicial Members 
in 1867 of the Legislative Council when it was formed, and was 
made a C.M.Gr. in 1878. He was certainly the most widely-known 
and respected Chinaman there has ever been in Singapore. His remains 
were taken to China and he was buried on Danes Island, opposite Cnnton, 


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660- Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The large brick house in the old garden was built in later 
years, and the large dining room at the back was finished just in 
time to give a big dinner to Admiral Keppel when he came out 
again as Commander-in-Chief in 1867. After Whampoa's death Mr. 
Seah Leang Seah bought the property, and then called it Bendemeer. 
Before that it had always been known as Whampoa^s. 

On 17th November a public meeting was held about the con- 
victs and their treatment, Mr. M. F. Davidson in the Chair, and a 
number of resolutions were passed protesting against mutineers being 
sent as convicts to Singapore, the number of convicts being already 
too many for safety, and a committee was appointed to draw up a 
petition which was afterwards sent to Calcutta. There were then 
over 2,000 convicts in Singapore, besides others in the place whosp 
terms had expired, and only a small number of military and of the 
European community. It was curious that the Singapore convicts sent 
to Bombay were returned to Singapore on the expiry of their sentences, 
whereas those sent from Bombay to Singapore were so well off here 
that they remained in the place. 

The Straits Settlements at this time were in the diocese of Calcutta, 
as has been said on page 299. Singapore was too distant from India, for 
the Bishop there to take much interest in the place, ^vith so many im- 
portant duties close to his hand, and when it was necessary in 1851 to 
consecrate the first Church of St. Thomas at Sarawak, which Mr. 
McDougall, afterwards the Bishop, had built, Bishop Daniel Wilson of 
Calcutta came down to Singapore, and went to Sarawak for the purpose, 
with the authority, and in the name, of the Bishop of London, under 
whose jurisdiction the Church in Sarawak was assumed to be. 

In the same way Bishop McDougall performed certain acts in 
Singapore in the character of Bishop, as, for example, the consecration 
of the new Cemetery in the year 1865, afterwards spoken of, which was 
done under the special power of a commission from the Bishop of 
Calcutta, Singapore being out of Bishop McDougall's diocese. 

In connection with the matter of the bishopric, the following passage 
was written in September, 1857, in a letter in Sarawak by Bishop 
McDougall. It is to be found at page 167 of the Memoirs written by his 
brother-in-law, published in London in 1889. " Much as I prefer Sarawak 
as a place of residence, I feel more and more that Singapore ought to be 
the centre of the Churches Mission for these parts, and the site of a 
Missionary College and Cathedral Church. If, as it is anticipated out 
here, the Straits stations are turned over to the Queen's Grovernment, my 
station ought to be Singapore, and the noble Church there now in 
erection, with the design of which I have had a great deal to do, ought to 
be my Cathedral. The present free schools at Singapore, Penang and 
Malacca, would be excellent feeders for a Missionary College, as they 
contain lads from all parts of the Archipelago, as well as from Siam and 
Burmah. \VTiy should not our Church take up as large a field as the 
Roman Catholics, who are making the Straits their ^>on?^ d'appni 
for their Missions, not onlj' to the different parts of the Archipelago, 
but also for Siam and Cochin-China. ? . The more I think of 
these views, the more desirable I feel them to be for the Churches 


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1857 661 

It is clear from this that the Bishop appreciated the result to be 
expected in the future of Singapore from the work of the Roman 
Catholic Church in the place. He could not anticipate the work 
that would be done by the American Methodist Episcopal Church- to 
be started in the centre of the work of the Church of England thirty 
years later. 

As has been said on page 299, Bishop McDougall resigned in 
1868, and went to England, never returning to the East. He was 
a canon residentiary of Ely, then Archdeacon of Huntingdon, then 
of Winchester, and Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, besides hold- 
ing two livings at various times in different parts of England. 

In May, 1861, Bishop McDougall wrote to England in connection 
with the proposed transfer of the Straits to the Colonial Office, 
urging that the opportunity should be taken to separate them from 
the diocese of Calcutta. Among other reasons he pointed out that 
the average term of service of the Bengal Chaplains in the Straits 
had only been about two years, and that the missionary work had 
been left to the Roman Catholics, who had a Bishop, and a con- 
siderable body of French clergy, and Sisters of Mercy, while little or 
nothing had been done for the Church of England. 

The seat of the diocese was transferred, as he had proposed, 
to Singapore in 1870, but the good that he anticipated did not 
result. What his earnest, sturdy character, (he was spoken of in 
England after the Lanun pirates' episode, as a good specimen of 
the " Church Militant !") would have done in Singapore, who can 
say ? The Cathedral was built ten years before the change, and the 
work of thirty years has only to show a small Church with occa- 
sional services in an unfrequented part of the town ; and the 
Mission Chapel, house, and school mentioned on page 300, largely due 
to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. 

If these are compared with all the churches, buildings and schools 
of the Roman Catholic Church ; or with those of the American 
Methodist Episcopal Mission, a list of which, over a column long, 
appears each month in their Malaysia Message ; it may well be asked 
what good has resulted from the change which Bishop McDougall 
expected to produce a great expansion of the Church of England 
in Singapore. St. Andrew's Cathedral is kept in repair, and the 
portion of the stipend received by the Bishop from the Straits 
Settlements, as well as the stipend of the Colonial Chaplain, are all paid 
by the Government, advantages which no other church possesses. 

It has to be remembered, however, that the arrangement that 
was made in 1870, with the object of making Singapore the head- 
quarters of the Bishop, could not have been anticipated by Bishop 
McDougall in one respect. The Bishop was consecrated in Calcutta 
as Bishop of Labuan, because a bishopric could not then be established 
ill a foreign country, so Labuan was chosen as being a Crown Colony 
available for the purpose. The stipend was provided by the Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Rajah of Sarawak, and 
it was styled the Bishopric of Labuan and Sarawak. When the 
title was changed to that of Singapore, Labuan and Sarawak it 
was intended to give prominence to the position of Singapore as 


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662 Anecdotal History of Singapore. 

the head-quarters of the work. But the stipend given by the 
Grovcrnment of the Straits Settlements, one hundred pounds a year, is 
very small compared with that contributed by the S.P.G*. and 
Sarawak, so that the Straits cannot reasonably complain that only a small 
portion of the year is spent by the Bishop in Singapore. A house 
was built by subscription among the congregation as a residence for 
the Bishop, in the expectation that he would be able to give more 
time to the Church hero, but the house is let for some eight months 
of the year. The result of the work of the Church of England in Singa- 
pore and the Straits during the last thirty-two years, can be fairly 
judged by comparison with what others, with far less opportunities., 
have been able to do. 

In 1882 the question of the disestablishment of the Church 
of England, which was carried out in Ceylon and other Colonies, 
came under consideration in the Legislative Council, but as the three 
Roman Catholic members of the Council joined with the rest in 
urging the Colonial Office not to make the same change in the 
Straits, matters have hitherto remained as they were under the 
East India Company. 

In 1871 Mr. Thomas Scott, of his own motion, had brought the 
question of the disendowmeut of the Church before the Legislative 
Council, but it was not much discussed and was negatived (to use 
Mr. Shel ford's words in 1882) as a premature step. In February, 
1882, the question had again been raised by the Secretary of 
State for the Colonies, and the debate was noteworthy for the speech 
made by Mr. James Graham, which will be found at page 5 of the 
Council Proceedings for that year. The speech was spoken of as 
one of the most interesting and eloquent of those recorded in the 
Council. Mr. Graham, as he said on this occasion, was not given 
to speak at length or warmly in the Council, and this made it the 
more remarkable. No doubt he felt on other occasions that both 
time and patience are thrown away in discussing questions which 
have been definitely decided in advance, to be carried by an official 
majority. One passage in Mr. Graham's speech showing one reason, 
in his opinion, for upholding the establishment, was as follows: — "It is, 
therefore, wise and politic of us to insure that a man of education 
and high moral character, a man in whom the poorest — whether 
belonging to the church or not — can find a faithful friend, shall be 
placed in every one of our provinces, interested in the moral 
and intellectual welfare of our people, and with the sole object of 
doing good to them." 

On 26th November it was said in the Free Precis that the 
occupation of the Cocos Islands had been objected to by Holland as a 
violation of their rights, and gave an account of the way in which 
Mr. J. Ross, a sailor, a native of the Shetland Islands, had acquired 
his authority there. For some years before 1827, Koss had traded 
in the Archipelago, principally on the Coast of Sumatra, in a vessel 
called the Borneo, which he built with native labour at the Cocos. 
where a man named A. Hare had settled about 1823, upon the 
southernmost island. When the price of pepper was fluctuating very 
much, in consequence of the resort of Americans to Sumatra, Boss 


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1857 663 

bought, in conjunction with Lis principals in London, all he could 
vet, whenever prices were low, and stored it at the quiet and un- 
inhabited Cocos Islands, in order to take the accumulated stock to 
London when prices rose. He landed with his wife and children on 
the Cocos in 1827, and built a house. The chief mate went in the 
BomeOy and Koss remained on shore. The firm in London with which 
he was connected failed, and he was left with his family cut ofE 
from the world. Then Hare became very disagreeable, and seems 
to have gone a bit off his head, and at last left the Cocos. Ross 
remained on Direction Island, chief and master of the whole establish- 
ment, which gradually increased in extent and importance. Hare had 
taken a number of slaves there, whom Ross declared to be free. A 
Dutch ship went in there for repairs in 1842, and the Captain des- 
cribed Mr. Ross as a man of about 60 years old, of healthy and 
venerable aspect, intelligent, acute and deep thinking. In 1846 Sir 
Edward Belcher, r.n., paid a visit in his ship to the island, and 
found Captain Ross, as he called him, still in the house he had 
put together in a hurry with the remains of shipwrecked vessels, 
very dark, wholly overshadowed by cocoanut trees, and infested by 
mosquitoes. Captain Ross died soon after that. On 8th January, 
1889, Christmas Island, on which the Ross family from the Cocos 
Islands had effected a settlement, was annexed to tho Straits Settle- 
ments ; the Cocos or Keeling Islands were placed under the Govern- 
ment of the Straits Settlements on 1st February, 1886. 

A matter for congratulation during the course of 1857 Avas the 
receipt of orders from the Court of Directors ordering the complete 
resumption of the use of the dollar currency in all Government 

There were a number of casualties to vessels this year. The Singa- 
pore barque Pe7ian<j, with passengers from Singapore to Malacca and 
Penang, was lost near the Raffles Light house, having been thrown 
ou her beam ends in a squall, and while in this disabled state was 
sunk by a waterspout. Thirty-eight lives were lost. A French Steamer 
was burnt, and sank while at anchor in the roads, and four Singapore 
vessels were wrecked in the Java Sea. 

The increase in the value of real property noticed in 1856, was 
fully maintained during the year, and building was also carried on to 
a large extent both in town and country, notwithstanding a very large 
rise in the price of materials and labour. The building of the Church 
and Town Hall went on slowly, and all other public works were stopped 
in the course of the year, by order of the Supreme Government, the 
disordered state of the Indian finances having necessitated the most 
stringent economy in every department. 

During this year the Corjjs Dramatique of Amateurs gave several 
performances to raise funds for a new theatre, and the Free Press 
said that it would be well to combine the Town Hall and the 
Theatrical funds, because in such a small place a theatre in the 
Town Hall would be sufficient for the purpose. This was afterwards 
done, and is so to the present day. 

At this time Mr. Adam Wilson, who had been the chief clerk in 
Martin Dyce k Co., obtained from the Sultan of Siak a grant of the island 


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661 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

of Beu^calis. There had been a row going on between the SuUan ani a 
Rival Chief, and Mr. Wilson and N. M. Carnie went over thert :n. 
schooner to help the Sultan. The Dutch, asserting a claim undtr ih 
treaty of 1824, interfered, and some cannonading took place, AViU--"^ 
party opposing the rival chief, from the Sultan's house, and takin^r -r 
guns and 38 leJahsj while the Dutch gunboat was firing. On tnt • 
way back to Singapore Wilson and his companions, in three boab, we> 
attached by two pirate j)rahus wliich fired into them, but finding t-i . 
had not unarmed traders to deal with, but Europeans and detern: n- 
Bugis men, they made oif as fast as they could. A sampan sent fri: 
Bengcalis to Malacca by Mr. Wilson had been attacked and four u/i 
killed shortly before. 

The grant to Mr. Wilson, thougli it had been given with ti* 
knowledge of the Governor of Singapore when the Sultan of Siakh^i 
come for the purpose, came to nothing ; and Mr. Wilson becax-' 
Secretary to the Sing.-ipore Exchange and was also a broker 2r^ 
Auctioneer until 1866. 


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1858 665 



AT seven o'clock on the nioming of 19th November, the Queen's 
Proclamation of 1st September, by which Her Majesty took upon 
herself the direct government of her Indian dominions, was read by 
the Governor. A platform under an attap covering, was erected for the 
purpose in the centre of the Esplanade, on which he took his place, 
surrounded by the Recorder, the Resident Councillor, and other officials, 
the Consuls of different nations, and several navy and military officers, 
and the Sultan of Johore being also present. The troops in garrison, the 
43rd M. N. I., and Madras Artillery, and the Singapore Volunteer 
Rifle Corps were paraded, together with the Marines and a party of 
Sailors from H. M. S. Amethtjat with the band of that ship. 

The Proclamation was first read in English by the Governor, and a 
Malay version was then given for the benefit of the natives. A royal 
>alute was fired by the Artillery, and a fen (h joie by the troops. 
The Governor next proposed three cheers for the Queen. The day was 
observed as a holiday, but unfortunately it began to rain heavily early 
in the forenoon, and continued a perfect downpour until night, which 
interfered considerably with the enjoyment of the occasion. In the 
morning a number of yachts and ships boats were arranged off the 
Esplanade, under the management of Captain Marshall, the Agent of 
the P. & 0. Company, tastefully decorated with flags, which added 
very much to the picturesque effect of the spectacle. The state of the 
weather had an unfavourable effect upon the arrangements for illumina- 
tion in the evening, as Government House remained wrapt in darkness, 
and it was only at the Masonic Lodge and a few other houses in town, 
that any displays in the shape of illuminated emblems of loyalty were 

Captain Collyer of the Madras Engineers (after whom Collyer 
Quay is named) arrived in Singapore in January, 1858, for the purpose 
of reporting on the proposed plans for the fortification of Singapore. 
He was appointed Chief Engineer, and a^isuuied charge of the office on 
the 1st August, 18o8. The whole labour of the convict body, both 
skilled and ordinary, was placed at his dis})osal. Some of the military 
works comprised in the proposed fortifications were at once commenced, 
and the convicts were placed on Government Hill to form a battery ; 
and on Port Fullerton, with the view of rendering that Battery more 
serviceable by extending and widening it. The work executed by 
convicts in those two Batteries was considered to be of excellent quality, 
as srood, if not probably better, than could have been obtained from 
free Chinese labour ; and the convict body proved most useful in 
the new scheme of covering the hills and shores of Singapore with 


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666 Anecdotal History oj Singapore 

Batteries, Redoubts, Barracks, Magazines, which, however, did not 
ultimately prove of any practical use, and they were, fortunately 
probably, never called on to justify their existence. Colonel Colly er left 
Singapore in 1862, as is stated under that year. 

The Government started the Straits Government Gazette in January. 
The total amount subscribed in Singapore for the Calcutta Relief Fund 
was fe. 14,000. In September, 1856, the German Club had given a 
(.'oncert in the Masonic Hall for the fund. The Grand Jury, in January, 
suggested that the Post Office and Marine Magistrates Offices which were 
on the other side of the river, should be moved to Fort Fullerton, which 
was done, many years afterwards; and that a Court House should be 
built where the Post Office then was, behind the present Printing 

In February it was reported that the Governor, Mr. Bluudeli, had 
resigned. There were very conflicting reports as to the reason. Tn 
Penan g, the moving cause was said to be the impossibility of lii.^ 
getting on with the Singapore people ; while in Singapore it was said to 
be in consequence of the Governor General's despatches about the Chinese 
disturbances in Penang, in which Mr. BlundelFs action was so strongly 
condemned that he said he could not remain unless the tone of the 
despatches was modified. Tliere had been a collision, as it >vas called, 
in Penang between the Chinese and the Police about a temporarv 
wayauy (native theatre) that stood on the ground of a temple, and wa> 
roughly pulled down by an injudicious police inspector, which led to the 
use of firearms and several casualties, and then to a row in March. 
1856. The Pinang Gazette said of Mr. Blundell's action that he had 
done many unwise things during his government of the Straits, but 
none which attained that which marked his treatment of the Chinese, 
or more undignified and childish than his reception of them. Mr. Blundell 
however remained until Col. Cavenagh was appointed in July, 1859. 

In February Mr. Thomas Braddell, then Assistant Resident and 
Magistrate, went on leave to Europe, but before doing so he pub- 
lished a pamphlet entitled " Singapore and the Straits Settlements 
Described." It was written because of the agitation that was going 
on about the Transfer, and was highly useful and very opportune. 
He discussed the best way of governing and administering the 
Settlement, and several of his suggestions came into practice. He 
wanted the government of the Straits to be (juite distinct from that 
of India, and that the sources from which the Officials were derived 
should also be distinct. On the latter point he said : — " It will be no 
easy matter to secure favour for a close Civil Service in the Straits, 
yet it seems difficult to provide for the necessaiy duties otherwise. 
If suitable persons were at all times procurable when vacancies 
occur, it would suffice. But it is well known that qualified pei*sons 
arc not so procurable ; and without some preWous training as 
assistants, it cannot be recommended that inexperienced persons should 
be at once placed as heads of important offices. The end is to 
secure for the public service the best men, the difficulty is how to 
arrive at this. Probably a mixed plan might be adopted, a plan 
which would at all times secure gentlemen qualified by pre^nous 
education and training for the ordinary duties, without at the same 


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1858 667 

time preventing the employment of others not already in the service, 
who might show a peculiar aptitute for public business. The competi- 
tion would doubtless act beneficially as a spur to greater exertion. 
Except in those cases, appointments could be made from young 
gentlemen sent out from home or engaged on the spot.^' 

The Municipal Minutes of 8th March contained the following 
about the renaming of the streets, which is often a subject of 
enquiry on looking at old Maps of the town : — " The Canals not 
having names, and much confusion existing from the definitions of 
several streets and roads, the same name, in many instances, having 
been given to two and even three streets, it is Resolved ; that the 
Canal from Ellenborough market to the Sepoy Lines be called 
' Dalhousie Canal ^ ; the road from the stone bridge over Dalhousie 
Canal to the police station on the River Valley Road to be the 
' Havclock Road '; the road at present called Salat Road, from the 
corner where the Tanjong Pagar Road branches off, up to the junction 
of the old and new roads to New Harbour, to be called ^Neil Road ' ; 
the road from Neil Road at present called Cantonment Road, and 
that part of River Valley Road passing the present Sheriff's 
Jail to the Havelock Road police station, to be the ' Outram Road' ; 
the quadrangle in front of the police office to be ^ Trafalgar Square ' ; 
and Tavern Street and Commercial Square to be renamed ^Bonham 
Street' and ^Raffles Place' respectively. On the north side of the 
Singapore river the following streets (of which there are others bear- 
ing the same names on the south side) are renamed ; Church Street 
to be 'Waterloo Street' ; Flint Street to be ' Prinsep Street / Market 
Street to be * Cravrfurd Street ' ; the street and road from Rochore 
Bridge to the Serangoon Road to be ' Lavender Street ; ' and the 
road between Seligio Street and Waterloo Street, which formerly 
was' a side road into Rochore road, to be 'Albert Street.' 

On 5th April the death was announced of Mr. Charles Scott, 
m Singapore, aged 56 years. The paper said he was one of the 
earliest settlers at Singapore and established himself as a merchant 
soon after the opening of the Settlement, and Avas for a number of 
years a member of the firm of Napier & Scott. Ho was one of 
the first Magistrates in 1823, and one of tlio earliest planters; the 
nutmeg plantation, called Raeburn, was commenced by him, and the 
Hill was called Scott's Hill, on the way towards New Harbour, 
ilr. William Scott's plantation was at Tanglin in Scott's Road; the 
two have often been mistaken for each other. Mr. Charles Scott 
afterwards went to Penan g and was in business there for a long 
time, but finally passed the last days of his life at Singapore. He 
was a son of Mr. Robert Scott of Penang. 

The Rev. W. T. Humphrey, who had been Residency Chaplain 
for three years, left for Calcutta in April. By his kindly and un- 
assuming manners and earnest promotion of every good work among 
his parishioners, Mr. Humphrey (the paper said), had acquired the 
esteem of all who knew him, and his removal was very much re- 
gretted. In those days the Chaplains were frequently moved from 
ODc station to another, and only remained in Singapore for three 
or four years, an advantage when an undesirable Chaplain was appointed. 


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668 AuiohAal History of Siiirfaporf: 

The paper a few days afterwards contained a notice of the death, 
at Bath^ of the Rev. Charles James Quarterly, m.a., at the age of 
48 years, who had been Chaplain in Singapore from 1832 to 1854. 

Some Government correspondence on 13th April said that the 
European Artillery about to arrive in Singapore were to be put in 
the late Tan Tuck Seng^s Hospital pending the erection of the 
Barracks intended for them on the top of Pearl's Hill. They were 
eventually stationed on Fort Canning. 

One hundred and ninety convicts, described as too dangerous to 
be kept in*the Alipore Jail, arrived in May; and on Wednesday 
the jyth, a public meeting was held to consider the recent 
importations of convicts by the Julin, John Bull and Carthage. A 
Committee of Messrs. A. Logan, W. Howard, M- F. Davidson, R. C. 
Woods, J. J. Greeushields and John Purvis, was appointed to draw 
up a petition to Her Majesty's Government that no more convicts 
should be sent ; and to wait upon the Governor to urge that the 
mutineer convicts in question should be deported from the place. 
The convicts were soon sent to the Andamans. The London 
merchants sent a memorial to the Board of Control in September 
protesting against turning the settlement into a convict station. 

In May the Municipal Commissioners decided to appoint a Town 
Engineer, Surveyor, and Architect, and Mr. J. W. Keeve was ilu* 
first Municipal Engineer. The Municipal Minutes of 27th May contained 
the following letter addressed to the Commissioners by Messrs. 
Marshall, Charles Spottiswoode, and T. 0. Crane about the Assembly 
Rooms and the Town Hall, which contains an account of the growth 
of the scheme for the present Town Hall, and elucidates some 
points that have been raised from time to time about it: — 

" Gentlemen : — ^A meeting of the subscribers to the Town Hall 
was held on the 8tli current, when the Secretary and the Trustees 
furnished a statement of the progress of the building, and the 
accounts, estimates, and plans were laid before the meeting. 

" The resolutions were submitted to the meeting and carried, lo 
this effect: — 

1. — That a deputation be appointed to wait on the Municipal 
Commissioners, at Singapore, for the purpose of ascertaining whether, 
in the event of the subscribers now making over the building in 
course of erection for a Town Hall to the Municipal Commissioners, 
the Commissioners will be prepared to raise money and complete the 
building according to the api)roved plan, and fully to carry out the 
original wishes of the subscribers. 

2. — That the following gentlemen be retjuested to form a deputation 
to wait on the Municipal Commissioners for the purpose of carrying 
out the foregoing resolution, viz: — Messrs. H. T. Marshall, T. 0. 
Crane and C. Spottiswoode. 

3. — That at a Special Meeting to be convened by the Secretary, the 
deputation report the result of the interview with the Municipal 

"In pursuance of these resolutions we now beg to lay before you 
a short account of the intentions of the Trustees and the extent 
to which they have been able to carry them out. 


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1858 669 

^^ About ten years ago the Assembly Rooms were erected by 
'Subscription at a cost of about $ 6,000, and two of the present 
Trustees of the Town Hall were appointed Trustees. This building 
was contracted for by Mr. McSwiney and passed by the Govern- 
ment Superintendent of Works, yet it was so imperfectly finished, 
<o loosely put together, and constructed of such miserable materials, 
that first of all the tiled roof had to be taken off and an attap 
one put on, and before ten years had elapsed it was condemned by 
a professional builder as unsafe and not fit to be repaired. The 
Trustees in consequence came to the resolution that instead of repair- 
ing the building, it would be better to build another in a better 
situation, for the site of the Assembly Rooms was most objectional 
for many reasons. 

'' An arrangement was made with Government to give up the old 
Assembly Rooms, or their ruins, with the site, for one more 
suitable, and, when the river is bridged over at Whampoa's, more 
accessible to the commercial public; on the consideration that tlie 
building when finished would be given over to the Municipal 
Commissioners for the benefit of the Community. 

'^In 1855 a subscription paper to build a suitable Town Hall 
was put in circulation, and ? 5,923.75 was subscribed by the community, 
§3,000 were added by the Government in addition to § 3,000 by 
the Municipal Commissioners out of their funds, these latter sums 
being in accordance with an understanding with His Honor the 
Governor that the public subscription would be doubled by the 
nuthoritjes. The sum of §11,999.75 was lodged in the Oriental 
Bank at 5 per cent, interest, which brought the whole amount to the 
credit of the Town Hall to §13,207.62. The Trustees bearing in 
mind the insufiiciency of the Assembly Rooms, and how imperfectly 
that building represented the thriving Settlement of Singapore, 
advertised for plans for a Town Hall, not only in Singapore, but 
in Calcutta, and further instructed Mr. M. P. Davidson, who was 
<?oing home, to put himself in communication with an Architect in 
England, in conjunction with Mr. W. Spottiswoode, whose long 
residence here would enable hioi to give much local infonnation and 
whose architectural abilities were well known to the Trustees. 

"No plans were sent from Calcutta; three were given in from 
Singapore, one of which was selected by the Trustees and the subs- 
cribers at a public meeting convened for the purpose. Some time 
elapsed before Mr. Davidson sent his plan from London. It was by 
Mr. Fergusson, who had been in Calcutta for many years and had 
visited Singapore, he is now the Manager of the Crystal Palace, and 
is the author of the popular book ^Handbook of Architecture.' 
His plan was so similar to Mr. Bennett's that had been selected, that 
the Trustees had no hesitation in adhering to Mr. Bennett's plan as 
the most appropriate one, and they were not a little proud that 
Singapore could furnish a design of such high Architectural pretensions. 
The Trustees had resolved that they would not be accessory to erecting 
a building which would only last a few years instead of many 
generations, or that from its unsightliness would bo a disgrace to this 
rising town." 


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670 Anecdotal Histcry of Singapore 

'^Oa the 13th November, 1855^ a public meeting of the sabscribers 
was held and after an inspection of the plans^ Mr. Bennett's was 
adopted ; the amount subscribed was stated, and a rough estimate 
was given in bj Captain Macpherson^ the Government Superintendent 
of Works, of the probable expense of constructing a new Town 
Hall according to accompanying plan, Xo. 3, that is Mr. Bennett's; 
this amounted to 812,565.50, but if iron girders and a slate roof were 
adopted, it would amount to $15,815.50. Captain Macpherson further 
stated the estimate allowed a wide margin and he thought the cost 
would be somewhat less. 

" On the faith of this, the Trustees commenced the erection of 
the Town Hall, considering tliat, even if the building should cost more 
than the amount raised, the Public would not be reluctant to supply 
the deficiency, either by individual subscriptions, or from the 
Municipal Funds. 

" Mr. Clunis, Junr., was chosen to superintend the construction 
of the edifice and the selection of the materials, on account of hia 
experience in the P. & O. Co.'s employment at the New Harbour, for 
which he was to receive the sum of §800 by instalments. Contracts 
were now attempted to be made with the Carpenters and Brick- 
layers, when Captain Macpherson^s estimate was found too low, and 
Mr. Bennett gave in his, to the amount of §16,926.96. 

"ITae Trustees could not find any one in Singapore who would 
contract for the whole building, so they necessarily had to divide 
the contracts, into those for materials and labour. The first contractor 
for timber received a small advance, disappeared, and has not 
been seen since. The present Carpenter, who contracted for the 
work at 83,000, and to supply timber at certain rates, has acted up 
to his contract, and will probably finish his work to the satisfaction 
of the Trustees. 

*' For the Bricklayers' work they could not get a workman to 
engage who could get guarantees, except one, who asked what we 
at that time considered to be ridiculous. After much consideration 
on the part of the Trustees it was decided to contract with a China- 
man called Goh Khoy, who, though he could give no security, was 
well known to the Trustees as a most skilful workman, and under 
Mr. Clunis's superintendence the work, it was thought, would be of 
a superior quality to what could be got by ordinary contract. 

" Goh Khoy agreed to furnish labour to finish the buildings for 
§4,000, and it is likely that amount will not be exceeded, as he ha^ 
only received about one half and the building is half finished, yei 
the amount subscribed is all expended save §78, and the Trustees 
have every reason to believe that every dollar has been faithfully 
laid out. From Mr. Clunis's statement now produced, it appears that 
the sum of §13,129.62 lias been expended, and that at the present 
prices of materials and labour it will require 812,371.93 more to 
finish the building. 

'' The Trustees think that Mr. Clunis's estimate is rather over 
than under the mark, from a prudent fear of again under-estimating. 
Yet, at the least, §12,000 will be required to finish and paint the 
building according to the plan. To take into consideration the ways 


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1858 671 

and meauSj a public meeting of the subscribers was called ou the 
>^th ultimo, and in consequence of the resolutions already quoted. 
\ye now appear before you to request, that as the Town Hall is in- 
tended for the use of the public, and a portion of it especially for 
that of the Municipal Commissioners to whom, at its completion, it 
is to be handed over, that you, the Municipal Commissioners, will take 
over the building as it now stands, fulfil the contracts made by the 
Trnstees, and finish it according to the plan now laid before you, 
from the funds of the Municipality, either raised by a loan expressly 
for the purpose, to be paid off by the next generation who have 
not subscribed but who will derive all the benefit from the building, 
OP in any other way the Commissioners may think fit. 

'"Trusting this request may meet with your approval, we beg to 
lay before you our plans, estimate and papers. 

H. T. Marshall, C. Spottiswoode, T. 0. Crane/' 

The Commissioners assured the deputation that the application 
should have their most favourable attention, and resolved that the 
Chairman should solicit an interview with His Honor the Governor 
to consult on the subject of raising the necessary funds for completing 
the Town Hall, under the provisions of Section xxxv of Act xxv 
of 1856. Should this preliminary be satisfactorily arranged, the Com- 
missioners would submit the plans and estimates to their Architect and 
require him to report on the work already executed and on what 
remained to be done; the Commissioners would then decide on their 
answer and lose no time in communicating it to the deputation. 

On 17th June Mr. Charles Spottiswoode died at the age of 40 
years. The Free Press spoke of him as one of the oldest and most 
respected merchants in the Settlement. He was living at Spottiswoode 
Park at the time of his death. 

At this time the Municipal Commissioners gave notice that their 
meetings were open to the public, they were held at 2 p.n). on the 
7th and 27t}i of each month, unless it fell on a Sunday, in which case 
the meeting was held on the Monday following. 

At this time occurred the death of a Roman Catholic Priest at 
Penang, which is mentioned as it has often been spoken of in 
connection with the stories of deaths by tigers in the Straits. Father 
Louis Marie Couellan, who had been fourteen years in the Straits, 
had celebrated early mass at day-light on the first Sunday- in Advent 
and was walking to take the service at Bukit Mertajam" when he 
was faced by a tiger in the junjjle path. He opened his umbrella 
to frighten it, and had time to climb up a tree. The tio-er remained 
at the foot. The congregation at Bukit Mertajam, finding he did not 
I'ome, set out to meet him. When they got near he called out to 
them that there was a tiger there, and it was then frightened away. 
Father Couellan died in Penang shortly afterwards of tetanus, from 
the effect of the encounter. 

Mr. John Harvey, who was a prominent resident in Singapore 
left there in this year, having first arrived in 1843. He died,°at the 
age of 50 years, in 1879. There is a tablet to his memory in the 
soutli aisle of St. Andrew^s Cathedral. 

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672 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

In this year the firm of Busing, Schroder & Co. commeuced 
business; also Lorrain Sandilands & Co. in which the partners 
were G. M. Sandilands in Penang, and John Buttery in Sinj^apore. 
Mr. Walter Scott Lorrain was in Glasgow. 

On 1st January Puttfarcken Rheiner & Co. commenced, tlie 
two partners being Otto Puttfarcken and Otto Rheiner, who had botli 
been in Rautenberg, Schmidt & Co. since 1854. 

The firm of Reme & Co. was also commenced in this year, by 
G. A. Reme. In 1861 Edward John Leveson, a very well known 
resident, joined as partner, and it was styled Reme, Leveson & Co. 
in 1862. They had both been clerks in the German firm of Apel & Co. 
which began in 1845. The firm was afterwards Reme Brothers. 

In 1858 Mr. Philip Robinson, first established the business of 
Robinson & Co., which has grown into such a large shop. He came 
to Singapore in 1857 from Melbourne, where he had been in the 
firm of Passniore, Watson & Co. He was at first an assistant in 
Cursetjee & Co.'s shop for a few months, and in 1858 he joined 
James Gaborian Spicer, under the name of Spicer & Robinson. Spicer 
was keeper of the Jail for some years from about 1845, and then 
was in a shipwright's business called Spicer & Morrison. He did 
not remain long in the business with Mr. Robinson, and in 1858 
lie left it, and Mr. Geo. Rappa, Jnr., who is still in Singapore, joined 
Mr. Robinson as a partner. The business continues under the name of 
Robinson & Co., until the present time, his son Stamford Raffles 
Robinson taking his father's place, after he died in London in 1886. 

Mr. Philip Robinson was one of the founders of the " Gospel 
House " in Bencoolen Street, which led on to the Betliesda in Bras 
Bassa Road. There was a libraiy attached to the Gospel House for 
some years. The " tea meetings " which came into vogue afterwards 
in Singapore were first introduced by him. His family was well known 
in the west cf England, and one of bis brothers was Mayor of Bristol. 


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1859 673 


IX January attention was called to the action of the States General 
of Holland protesting against the proceedings of Rajah Brooke at 
Sarawak, which they said was contrary to the Treaty of 1824, and that 
it was of paramount importance that the Netherlands Government should 
oppose with all its might, if necessary, every British Government Settle- 
ment on Borneo. 

So far from the Treaty supporting the interpretation put forward, it 
seemed to furnish very clear evidence, in the 3rd and 6th articles, that 
Great Britain could form new settlements in Borneo or elsewhere, when- 
ever the British Government should deem it expedient to do so. The 
8th article ceded to England all the establishments on the Continent of 
India, bat the next article, in place of ceding all English establishments 
in the Eastern Seas or renouncing the right to form them thereafter, 
merely coded the possessions in Sumatra and engaged that no British 
settlement should be formed on that island, and in the next article engaged 
ihat no British establishment should be formed upon any of the other 
islands of the Rhio-Lingga Archipelago, of which Singapore forms part, 
but to which the Dutch withdrew any objections they had made to its 
occupation by the English, 

So far from England contemplating any such abandonment of the 
Indian Archipelago to the Netherlands, as was now contended by the 
Dutch, the British Plenipotentiaries, in the note subjoined to the treaty, 
stated that they " record, with sincere pleasure, the disavowal, on the part 
of the Dutch, of any desigu to aim either at political supremacy or at 
commercial monopoly in the Eastern Archipelago." Great Britain had 
the best right to complain of the numerous infractions of the treaty by 
the Dutch, which had often been allowed to pass without notice. 

The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and Chiua was established in 
Singapore on 19th February, and filled the blank caused by the with- 
drawal of the North Western Bank. Mr. James Eraser, of Maclaine 
Praser & Co., was on the Board of Directors in London, and several of 
the most influential of the retired Singapore merchants were connected 
with it. Mr. David Duff was the first Manager, then called Agent, in 

On 28th March, Captain H. T. Marshall, for many years the 
agent of the P. & 0. Company in Singapore, then called Superin- 
tendent, being about to leave for England, was entertained very 
handsomely at a large dinner of upwards of sixty persons, by the 
Freemasons at their Hall on the Esplanade, at the corner of Coleman 
Street. The chaplain the Rev. T. C. Smyth, m.a. (Cantab.), a high 
Mason, who was Chaplain for two years at that time, was in the 
chair. The P. & 0. wharf and establishment at New Harbour, which 


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C74 Anrcdofal History of ShigajHtre 

were said to be superior to any other of the company on the line, was 
fine to him, and he had done, the Frpp. Press said, a great deal in the 
place in very many ways. Municipal, Educational, 4c., and would be a 
great loss. 

In April the Government steamer Hooghly, Greorge Tod Wright, 
commander, attacked two Chinese pirate junks which had taken a junk 
the day before off the coast of Tringann, and rifled her of opium and 
all she contained. The pirates were too heavily armed, and the 
Heoghly was drawing off, when the Siamese steamer Choic Phya came 
in sight at 6 p.m. on her usual run from Bangkok to Singapore. She 
had no guns, but she lent boats to attack the pirates in shore the 
next morning; when it v/as found the boats manned by native seamen 
could not advantageously attack the pirates, who were too stroncrlj 
posted, so they withdrew. The fact was, the Rooghly was so old that 
she could only steam five to seven knots, and the Chinese junks 
could do more with a fair wind. 

H. M. S. £*t. Captain Sir R. McClure, 1,175 tons, at once went 
out from Singapore, taking Mr. Warwick, the chief officer of the 
Hooghly, and not being able to find the two janks, lay in wait, 
by his advice, in Condore Bay, and on the second day the two 
pirates came sailing in. Between them they had 28 large guns. A 
Special Criminal Sessions was held on 4th June to try the pirates, 52 of 
them were tried, were all convicted, and sentenced to various terms 
of transportation to Bombay. 

Sir Robert Le Mesnrier McClure, k.c.b., of the Esi, had been 
knighted for services on an Arctic voyage. His book " Discovery of the 
Xorth-West Passage by H. M. S. Invesiigaior 1850-54" was published 
in 1857, and is in the Library. 

The steamer Chow Phya, just mentioned, is worthy of notice, as she 
seems to have made a wonderful record of steamer life in Singapore. 
She was built at West Hartlepool in 1858, and was running for years 
between Bangkok and Singapore, owned by the King of Siam or his 
Prime Minister, after whom she was named. She was sold in what was 
thought to be her old age, many years since, but is still running 
regularly in the Straits, to Malacca and Klang, but is close to the end of 
her life now. She was built of very good half-inch iron plates, and there 
has been no vessel in the Straits like her. 

Her captain in the Bangkok trade was very well known in 
Singapore; he died here in 1885, 62 years of age. He was the brother 
of the famous claimant in the Tichborne case. A very hard working, 
persevering man, quite a character in Singapore. The Engineer of the 
Chow Phya at the beginning was Mr. Hargreaves, one of the founders 
afterwards of Riley, Hargreaves & Co. 

The beginning of submarine telegraph lines from Singapore was 
very unfortunate. In May the Dutch Government determined to lay a 
cable to Batavia, and obtained leave to lay it from Singapore. The 
line was completed on 24th November, and the merchants in Singapore 
sent a congratulatory message to which the Batavia merchants replied. 
The second message was from the Governor-General of Netherlands 
India to Governor Cavenagh, to which the latter replied. Then it 
snapped ! A ship's anchor was thought to have broken the cable. It 


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1859 675 

was repaired, but only remained a short time in operation, and after 
having been once or twice more repaired, it remained obstinately nuite, 
anil on examination was found so much injured, and in so many places, 
that the attempt to repair it was abandoned. An office, a two-storied 
buildingr, had been erected on the left bank of the river, about wliere 
the back of the Government Offices are now, and was used afterwards 
Q< the Master Attendant's Office. 

In May, Government Hill was undergoing a rapid metamorphosis 
from the peaceful and historical seat of the Governor's residence from 
the first days of Raffles, into what the newspaper described as a strong 
and extensive fortification, intended to be called Fort Canning after the 
Governor-General. The top of the hill was raised several feet to afford 
sufiicient level surface, and when finished was to enclose an area of 
about seven acres. By the middle of May seven 68-pounders were in 
position facing the sea. The work was carried out with 400 Chinese 
coolies. After it was completed, it was noticed that Pearl's Hill was 
higher, so the Government Military Engineer proceded to cut down the 
top of that Hill ! 

Fort Fullerton was also being enlarged to nearly three times its 
former extent, and was being armed with 56 and 68 pounders. It 
extended from the river to Johnston's Pier, with a house for the 
officer in the centre, and barracks for the soldiers along the roadside, 
and was planted with trees. The estimated cost of the works 
was said to be $840,000. Smaller works were contemplated on 
PearFs Hill and M!ount Sophia, but were not carried out. 

The Governor on leaving Fort Canning Hill went to live at the 
Pavilion on Oxley Estate. Mr. Schreiber of Behn, Meyer & Co., had 
been living there, and was away in Europe. He came back, and 
Government House was moved to Leonie Hill, Grange Road ; the same 
house is still standing. It was rented from Mr. Thomas Hinton 
Campbell, of Martin Dyce & Co., who had gone home, and was 
vacated when the present Government House was ready for occupation 
in October, 1869. 

Governor Blundell, just as he was about to leave, provoked a 
good deal of odium by proposing to sell part of the land in Cam- 
pong Glara, lying between the road and the sea in front of the 
houses of the Europeans, on the Beach. There was a long corres- 
pondence in February, and meetings about it, and it was said that 
it was not only a question between the Governor and the owners 
of those houses, but one for the public at large, who were as much 
entitled as the house-owners to the use of the beach, which they 
had enjoyed since the formation of the Settlement. The plan was 
dropped, Mr. Blundell having first made the suggestion that the 
land should not be sold as long as the properties on the inland 
side of the road were used as European dwelling houses. 

A serious misunderstanding arose in Penang between Mr. Blundell 
and the Recorder of Penang, Sir Benson Maxwell, about the illegal 
detention of a woman by the police in Province Wellesley. Both 
sides appealed to Lord Canning, the Governor-General. The eventual 
result was, that an enquiry was ordered to be held by Governor 
Cavenagh, and the womf^n was compensated, 


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676 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

In July it was announced that Mr. Blundell had sent in hh 
resignation. He had been Governor since 1855. Sir John Irif-, 
the defender of Lucknow in the Mutiny, was mentioned as iib: 
to be his successor, but Colonel Cavenagh was appointed, and arrve. 
on Saturday, 6th August, from Calcutta, and Mr. Blundell male 
over to him on the Monday, and left for Calcutta, retiring .i 
pension, but having been granted leave of absence for one m;i:: 
to visit Calcutta preparatory to resigning his office. Colonel Cavers:: 
to officiate as Governor during his absence on leave. 

Colonel Orfeur Cavenagh received from Lord CanninL' t.- 
appointment of Governor of the Straits. He had twice distini:u4c: 
himself in India ; he had been actively engaged in the Punjab ?r«: 
where he lost a leg, and when the Mutiny broke oat, hf «ii 
Town Major in Calcutta. When he accepted the appointment 
thought it would only be a short one, as the transfer was W: 
to take place, and he remarked in his book, written in 18S»3. civ 
referred to hereafter, that he then little anticipated that his o£-. 
career would be brought to an early close in 1867, when -' 
naturally entertained expectations of succeeding to one of the p:-^^- 
of the Indian Service. His term of office, however, extended u:: 
as long as that of most of the Governors of Singapore, being '- 
exceeded by those of Mr. Bonham and Colonel Butterworth. 

In the Free Pretts of 7th July is a copy of a long " Memorar.di: 
on Pulo Penang," without date, signed by Arthur Wellesley, aften&dTJ 
Duke of Wellington, relating to its position, need of defences, latuv 
of revenue, &c. It is a pity that such a thing should be lo>i •" 
contains a good deal of interesting matter, and, at a guesN ^^ 
probably written about the beginning of last century, before Singa/*:^ 
was founded. 

The construction of St. Andrew's Church went on so slowly '1'^ 
several jocose letters appeared in the Free Presif upon the bankrnp 
of the Government finances. Among others was this poetry : — 

'^ If then would'st view the Church aright, 

Go visit it on a moonless night, 

For the gay beams of lightsome day 

Gild, but to show, the sad decay. 

Then roofless porches, choir, aisle, nave, 

Are silent as the ocean wave. 

Then the warm night^s uncertain shower 

Pours through the ruined steeple tower ; 

Then from the roof, in puddles, flop 

The rainy streamlets, drop by drop; 

And make one sigh in these hard days 

At the dire waste the view displays. 

Then go at once, nor wait the while, 

Would'st view St. Andrew's ruined pile. 

And, home returning, softly swear 

Xever was scene so sad as there." 
In September Jose d' Almeida & Sons advertised Mount Victoria i:' 
sale, *^ with an area of over 100 acres of beautifully situated hillocb 
well adapted for country residences, consisting of three or nioi-e &ite> 


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1859 677 

ides the house occupied by Jose d^Almeida, Esq., with a beautiful 
w of the country round and part of tlie harbour ; only a few minutes 
ve from town; and the land planted with fruit and nutmeg trees 
bearing.^' And in December, Hamilton, Gray & Co. advertised for 
3 " the valuable and extensive nutmeg plantation in Claymore and 
iglin, called the Sri Menanti Estate, belonging to G. G. Nicol, Esq., 
isisting of six hills, about loO acres in all, with one of the most 
nmodious and substantially built residences in Singapore, on a hill 
>ut two miles from town, and a small bungalow on one of the 
ler hills." 

On 18th November, 1857, Tan Kim Seng had offered $13,000 for 
* purpose of bringing a sufficient supply of good water into the town, 
licli was much reciuired, and to show the interest he felt in the place. 
5 said ill his letter that he was told good water in sufficient quantity 
Lild be *iot from and near Bukit Timah and there would bo an ample 
pply to be laid on to the principal thoroughfares in the town. The 
cretary of State for India, amonj? others, expressed his warm acknow- 
Igmeuts for the public spirited liberality of Tan Kim Seng. 

He was a native of Malacca and began life in humble circumstances. 
{ his perseverance, intelligence and integrity, he rose steadily in the 
5rld and left a large fortune to his children. He was for many years a 
\stice of the Peace, and was constantly referred to by his countrymen in 
le settlement of their disputes. He took a warm interest in the wel- 
tre of the place in which he had thriven so successfully, and in addition 
' this gift for supplying water to the town in Singapore, he gave the 
Tge iron bridge over the river close to the Stadt House at Malacca, a 
w feet only above the spot where Albuquerque's bridge was, as shown 
I the old maps of Malacca. 

Tan Kim Seng died at Malacca, at 59 years of age, on 14th March, 
804r. His eldest son, Tan Beng Swee, took his place in many ways, 
tid used to go to Malacca once a year, and was said there to be a 
eneroua man, but he did not follow his father^s example as regards 
ingapore. He died in Singapore at his house in River Valley Road on 
th November, 1884, and was buried in Malacca. 

Nothing was done with Kim Seng's money until just before his 
eath. Plans had been made, and schemes suggested, and a great 
eal of talk went on at the Municipal Meetings, and there was much 
onespondence with Grovernment about the delay, and several places 
-eru proposed for the reservoir, such as New Harbour, Bukit Timah, 
ud Thomson's Road. A serious drought seems to have brought mat- 
ers to a head, and the plans were sanctioned by Calcutta about 
December, 1862, and it was said in 1864 that the work would be finished 
u a year, but it never was. 

Kim Seng's money was spent on a lot of earthenware drain 
>ipes which turned out no use, and for some time a number of 
hem lay at Kandang Kerbau, and could be had for the taking 
tway. And there was an advertisement in the paper that unless a 
arge quantity of water pipes on board a ship in the harbour were 
^akeu delivery of, the master would get rid of them in some other 
way. The only result of Kim Seng's gift was that the money was 
all wasted by the Government Engineer, who hoped to make water 


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678 Anecdoial Hutory of Singapore 

run up hill through the pipes, and in 1882 the Municipality erected 
the large fountain close to Johnston's Pier with the inscription : 
"This fountain is erected by the Municipal Commissioners in com- 
memoration of .Mr. Tan Kim Seng's donation towards the cost 
of the Singapore Water-Works." 

Rules were published towards the end of the year requiring per- 
sons seeking euiployment in the Government service to pass in the 
Malay language within twelve months after appointment. 

The enhanced value of land, noticed in 1858, was fully main- 
taiued for a considerable part of the year, hxit towards the end 
there was a re-action. The demand for land in town and country 
seemed to have been fullv satisfied, and it was difficult to sell at 

In this year the business of G. Kaltenbach & Co. was 
established. In 1862 F. Engler joined and it became Kaltenbach, Engler 
& Co. They had a large store at the south west comer of the 
Square, where Katz Brothers, Limited are now, but a much smaller 
building than the present one. 

The Netherlands Trading Society opened their branch in 1859, 
and Mr. H. J. van Hoom was the first Manager in Singapore, where 
he died in November, 1865, at 46 years of age. Mr. Richard 
Owen Norris was the first clerk, and has continued in the office 
to the present day, his long local knowledge of, and warm interest 
in, the history of Singapore are well known, and he has been of 
very great and most ungrudging service in the compilation of this 

The firm of Smith, Bell & Co., also began business in Singapore 
this year, John Knox Smith being the resident pai-tner. 


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1860 679 



ON lObh March official notification was received by the Government 
that the port and river of Saigon were opened for trade. There 
was an anchorage duty of two dollars a ton, and an import duty of 20 
percent, on the value of opium, but no other duties at that time. It 
would have been well for the place if it had remained so. 

Orders were received from Calcutta in March to push on the 
completion of the barracks on Fort Canning Hill, and steps were taken 
to acquire the present land at Tanglin for European barracks. 

Mr. Carrol shot a very large tiger at Sungei Lunchu in Johore, 
which had killed a number of people. 

In this year John Baxter and John Lawrence Kirby started as 
Marine Surveyors for Lloyds and other Insurance Companies. Mr. Baxter 
had been in Siam, building vessels for Tan Kim Ching, and was afterwards 
a partner in Tivendale & Co., shipwrights at Singapore river next the 
Court House. He was a native of Port Glasgow in Scotland, and was 
a well-known character in Singapore for many years and died here in 
October, 1892, leaving money to the Presbyterian Church to provide a 
manse, from which the house in Cavenagh Road was purchased and re- 
built subsequently. He was the honest, bluff old Scotsman, of whom 
an anecdote is told on the last page of Mr. W. H. Read^s book 
" Play and Politics." 

Mr. Kirby had been in Duncan Dunbar's famous Indian merchant 
service between England and India. He was very popular in Singapore, 
and famous for his good natured jokes. The following is an example. 

At that time there was, of course, no direct telegraphic communica- 
tion with Europe, and as everyone was eager to hear the news on the 
arrival of the mail, and as it took some time to sort the letters and 
newspapers at the Post Office it was arranged that the large parcel of 
copies of the London and China Express, with a sort of precis of the 
latest news, should be sent by post to Colombo. There the purser of 
the P. & 0. took them from the Post Office, and on reaching Singapore, 
when the mail got near the wharf, they were thrown from the steamer, 
and taken up to town in a hack gharry to John Little & Co.'s, where 
people used to wait to get them as soon as they were likely to reach 
there. There was a somewhat irascible manager in the shop on the 
occasion in question, which Captain Kirby took advantage of. Just as 
the mail had come in one morning, he took an old copy of that paper 
off the file, and asked another person to go with him with another old 
copy. They stood at Little^s door and pretended to read. Very soon some 
one came running up, "What, got the papers already?'^ and, not waiting 


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680 Anecdotal History of Sintjaitore 

for an answer, rushed inside where the manager was sitting near the 
back. More came up, and ran in. Then a loud dispute was heard 
inside, the people asking for the China E.rprvsft, and the manager verv 
angrily saying that they were not come, to what the eciually excited 
reply was that they were, asKirby was reading his at the door. Kirby, 
when the dispute got warm, pocketed his paper, and walked quickly 
away round the corner to his office. 

On 6th June, Dr. Charles Julius Curtis died in Singapore. He had 
been a medical practitioner for many years and coroner. He wa? 
succeeded by Dr. John Scott, who came from Penang, and accompanied 
Tumongong Abubakar to England in 1866. 

On 20th July a public meeting was held at the News Room about 
tlie proposed extension of the Indian Income Tax bill to the Straits. 
Mr. W. H. Read was in the chair. It was shewn that the revenue 
was more than equal to all the expenditure which could with justice 
be charged against the local government, and that there was no 
necessity for any additional revenue, and that the surplus in Singapore, 
which was about £35,000 (tt«. 356,030) was more than sufficient to 
cover any deficiency that might exist at Penang or Malacca. 

The following resolutions were agreed to by the Meeting : — 
Proposed by Joaquim Almeida, and seconded by R. C. Woods : — 
That the inhabitants of these settlements have a constitutional 
right to be consulted before a tax, arbitrary, impolitic, and inex- 
pedient, is forced upon them. 

Proposed 'by J. Davidson, and seconded by Joze d' Almeida : — 
That an income tax is of a nature especially unsuited to the natives 
of these settlements, who are peculiarly averse to all inquisitorial 
measures, and view with deep distrust all new taxes of an unknown 

Proposed by C. H. H. Wilsone, and seconded by N. B. Watson : — 
That the provisions of the proposed Act are framed in total ignor- 
ance of the financial position and resources of these Settlements, and 
the character of their inhabitants. 

Proposed by J. J. Green shields, and seconded by W. Paterson : — 
That the imposition of the Income Tax on the Straits Settlements, 
under present circumstance, — besides being unconstitutional — ^is un- 
reasonable and unnecessary: 1st., because the revenue is already 
sufficient to meet all legitimate charges, and 2ndly., because the 
transfer of these Settlements to the Colonial Office has been already 
determined upon, and will be carried into eflPect so soon as the 
necessary arrangements can be made : these Settlements are now 

virtually one of Her Majesty's Colonies. 

Proposed by Dr. Scott, and seconded by W. Paterson : — That 

Petitions to the Houses of Parliament and the Legislative Council of 

India, embodying the resolutions of this meeting be drawn up, and 

transmitted with as little delay as possible." 

A Committee, consisting of the following gentlemen, was formed 

for the purpose of drawing up the Petitions to Parliament and the 

Legislative Council of India, nam ely, the Chairman, A Logan, R. C. 

Woods, J. J. Greenshields, Wm- Paterson, James Davidson, A. M. 

Aitken and C. H. Harrison. 


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1860 681 

A copy of the Petition was printed in the Free Premt of 2nd 
August. The Calcutta Government soon afterwards dropped the 

In the accounts referred to in connection with that matter it is 
noticed that at that time an annual sum of ft. 24,245 was spent 
for house rent and batta (extra pay) for the Senior Naval Officer, 
and fig. 8,539 for batta to H. M. Ships. 

In October the newspaper said : — " Orders are said to have been 
recently received from the Government of India for the erection of a battery 
at Sandy Point. It will probably be an expensive work, owing to the 
difficulty of making a secure foundation at that place. This will be 
another item in the bill which the Indian Government is running up for 
the fortifications at Singapore, and which has already been found such a 
•serious obstacle to the transfer of the Straits Settlements to the Colonial 
Office. The extensive scale on which these fortifications sire being con- 
structed is wholly uncalled for and will prove a source of embarrassment to 
the colony in the future." The battery was never constructed. 

In October Mr. Charles Emmerson came to Singapore, and advertised 
that he had commenced to practise as a member of the College of Veteri- 
nary Surgeons. He was the first to practise in Singapore. He afterwards 
commenced a very small tiffin room in Battery Road, in addition to his 
other occupation, and it grew into a hotel on Beach Road, occupying two 
large houses, and to the tiffin rooms at Cavenagh Bridge which are still 
known by his name. He was a very popular amateur actor for many 
years in low comedy characters. He died in Singapore in 1883. 

The first performance in the theatre in the Town Hall was given on 
24th October in aid of the funds required for completing the building. 
The plays were a comedy called The Folies of a Niglit and the farce 
A Slorm in a Teapot, It was repeated with Bomhade.s Furioso, which 
was often performed in Singapore, in place of the farce. 

In October the Rajah of Pahang and the Rajah of Kedah, witli a 
number of followers, paid visits to Singapore. 

In November the Calcutta Government sanctioned the erection of 
a lighthouse on Cape Rachado. 

The Indian Penal Code having been passed, Mr. Willans, the 
Magistrate of Police wrote the following letter to the Resident Councillor 
on 8rd November. The recommendation was forwarded to Calcutta with 
the Governor's entire concurrence. " Having perused the Indian Penal Code 
recently passed by the Legislative Council of India, I much regret to 
find that the Straits Settlements have been excepted from its provisions. 
Hjc Code in question is a most important enactment and contains within 
it>elf a full and lucid exposition of its provisions. Its application to 
this Settlement would I feel assured be of infinite advantage and I 
would respectfully submit for the consideration of His Honor the 
'jovcrnor the desirability of procuring, if possible, its extension to the 
Straits; such extension would I believe be acceptable to the inhabitants. 
1 am aware that these Settlements were at the last moment excluded 
from the provisions of the Act in consetiuence of their probable transfer 
^0 the Colonial Office, but as such transfer, if at all, may not take place 
for a considerable time, I would most respectfully urge that it is unde- 
sirable this Community should be debarred from so important an improve- 


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682 A)iecdoial History of Singapore 

ment in the Law for an indefinite period. Should such transfer be 
carried into efEect earlier than expected and a Legislative Council granted 
for the Colony, some length of time would possibly elapse before such 
Council could prepare and pass so complete a measure of Criminal Law, 
while if the Code was in force at the time of transfer, any alteration 
that might be considered expedient could be easily made by Council/' 

Mr. Willans proved quite correct, for the Code was not introduced 
into Singapore until 187L 

The following was in the newspaper in November, 1860 : — ^^ On the 
evening of Monday, 26th November, 1860, the Singapore Volunteers were 
reviewed by the Hon. the Governor, Colonel Cavenagh, on the Esplanade. 
The volunteers mustered in full force under their commandant, Captain 
Read, and on the arrival of His Honor, accompanied by Brigadier Burn and 
Staff, presented arms. They then marched past in slow and qirick time, 
and went through a number of Light Infantry manoeuvres, advancing, 
firing, halting, changing front in one direction and in the other, form- 
ing square, retiring, and finally, having fired two volleys with 
remarkable precision, they formed up in their original position and 
again presented arms. 

"The Governor then addressed the corps in animated language. 
He alluded to the formation of the corps, which had the honor to be 
the first enrolled in India and was therefore entitled to bear upon its 
colours the inscription Primtis in India, He dwelt upon the great 
utility of volunteers in general, and adverted to his own experience as 
having commanded the Calcutta volunteers during the Indian rebellion, 
when they were found so eminently useful in preserving confidence and 
order in the Capital, and in allowing the regular troops to be 
employed in active operations against the mutineers. His Honor 
adverted to the great and wonderful progress such institutions had 
made in the mother country of late, and as in these days no dependence 
could be placed in the duration of peace, the gallant speaker said he 
thought it behoved all good and true subjects to stand forward in the 
general defence. Colonel Cavenagh then eulogised those of our fellow 
citizens who, though not British subjects, yet showed their appreciation 
of the protection bestowed by our laws and of the benefits they thereby 
derived, by swelling the numbers of the volunteers, and he concluded 
by expressing a- hope that those young men who had ilot yet joined 
the corps would no longer hesitate to enrol themselves as members of 
the Singapore Volunteer Eifles. 

"The Governor complimented the volunteers on their soldierly 
appearance and the steadiness and precision with which the various 
manoeuvres had been gone through. Much of which was owing to the 
indefatigable exertions of the gallant Captain and other ofiicers of the 
Corps, who were no doubt highly gratified at the result of their 
assiduity having elicited the commendations of so competent an 
authority in these matters as Colonel Cavenagh. The spirited address 
of the Governor was followed by three hearty cheers for His Honor. 
The spectators then gave three cheers for the gallant corps, which 
marched off to the Masonic Lodge. The excellent Band of Her 
Majesty's 40th Begiment M. N. I. attended, by the kind permission of 
the officers of the Regiment, and added much to the gaiety of the scene. '' 


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1860 683 

The screw steamer Sir James Brooke owned by the Borneo Com- 
pany, Limited^ was totally lost on the 17th September, on the rocks ofE 
Point Romania. She was on her way to Singapore from Bangkok 
witli a cargo of rice. 

In the latter part of the year a number of failures occurred among 
the Chinese traders. In most cases private arrangements were made, 
and a composition accepted with security, but it was thought that in 
some cases insolvency had been declared while the parties were quite 
able to pay in full, and that it was done to save a considerable per- 
centage on their liabilities, and was not weighed against the effect which 
such a course might have upon their future credit as traders. Credit 
was obtained so very easily, that even repeated insolvency only 
operated against a trader for a time. 

A census was taken by the Police during the year, the total 
population beincj reckoned as 80,792, of whom Europeans and Eurasians 
were 2,445, and Chinese 50,043. 

The new General Hospital and the Lunatic Asylum at Kandang 
Kerbau were completed and occupied. The whole expense of the former 
had been H«. 51,086 ; and of the latter ib. 46,259. The foundations 
of Cape Rachado Lighthouse were cut and materials collected, the 
expense being fi«. 20,200. 

The Agri-Horticultural Society was established in this year, the 
Government giving the large extent of ground at Tangiin, where 
the gardens still are, for the purpose. They were supported for some 
years by private subscription, but were afterwards taken over by the 

The rendezvous at Singapore of the vessels carrying troops and 
stores for the operations in China, both from Europe and India, 
caused much activity in the harbour, and the war was prosecuted so 
quickly that before the close of the year a number of transports 
with troops who had been engaged in the hostilities, passed westward 
again through the harbour. Besides visits from the Earl of Elgin 
and Baron Grros the French Plenipotentiary, on their way to China, 
Singapore was visited by the Russian Envoy and Plenipotentiary to 
China, Japan, and Siam with a numerous suite, who remained in 
Siugapore for some days waiting for the Russian man-of-war which 
met them in the harbour. 

Tho firm of Stelling, Hooglandt A Co., was begun on Ist February, 
1860, by Gr. H. P. Stelling, and Willem Hooglandt the partner resident 
in Singapore. 


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684 Anecdotal History of Singapore 



AT 7-30 p.m. on 16th January an earthquake was felt at Singapore, 
lasting about a minute ; the direction appearing to be from S. W. 
to X. E. There were two shocks, the undulations being very distinct, 
«fcnd producing in many persons a feeling of nausea, and the idea 
that the house was going to tumble down ; doors rattling and hang- 
ing lamps swinging about, for some minutes. Those who were 
upstairs ran down. It was felt also in Malacca and Penang. 

As far as is ascertained, there had been three previous instances 
of earthquakes felt in the Settlement. The first at 9 p.m. on 
Sunday, 24th Xovember, 1833, when a shock lasting upwards of a 
minute was felt, and followed by two more ; one at 3, and the other 
at 4-30 a.m. That was also felt at Malacca and Penang. 

The next was in 1837, when a large ware broke on the 
sea-shore at Teluk Aver. The third was half an hour after midnight on 
6th January, 1843, which was also felt in Penang. 

Earthquakes are of so frequent occurrence in Sumatra, Java, &c., 
that it is well to give these instances to show how little effect they 
have had at Singapore, where the oscillation is always attributed to 
a volcano in some of those directions, that of 1833 having been 
attributed to Gunong Berapi in Sumatra. 

The most noticeable occurrence of this kind heard in Singapore 
was, of course, that of Krakatoa, in the Straits of Anjer, about 500 miles 
from Singapore, on 26th to 28th August, 1883. On Sunday after- 
noon, the 27th, about 5.45 o'clock, during the chanting of the 
Psalms in St. Andrew's Cathedral, a loud explosion was heard, which 
was the first to be noticed. It was thought that, contrary to 
rules, the blasting of the rocks in a hill at Tanjong Pagar, 
which had been going on for some time in order to reclaim 
Teluk Ayer Bay, was being continued on Sunday ; and faint 
rumblings and explosions, heard at intervals that evening and 
during the night, were thought to be caused in the same way. 
Those in the country thought it was saluting, or signals from the 
Fort, and some natives thought it was a battle between the French 
and Chinese. But about 11 a.m. on the Monday morning a very much 
louder report was heard, which was the last, and when some one 
in the Supreme Court suggested that the noises must be occasioned 
by an eruption, the speaker was laughed at. Shortly aft^r noon a 
telegram came from Java that the natives were all flying, the sky 
in darkness, and general consternation. Then the telegraph cable 
broke, and nothing more was heard until a day or two afterwards, 


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1861 685 

when a Dutch ganboat, which had been near the mountain at the 
time, came into Singapore, and the Captain said it had been an awful 
experience, describing it by saying that they thought they were in 
hell: with the fire, the smoke, the thick darkness, except for the 
flashes of the fire, and the great weights of pumice stone and ashes 
that had to be constantly cleared off the ship's deck, or they would 
have sunk her. 

Not long afterwards pieces of pumice stone, as big as a hat, 
were floating about outside the harbour, and Mr. George Dare 
brought pieces to the Club in his canoe. There was a scientific 
account of the disaster by Dr. Treub in the "Annals of the Botanical 
Gardens of Buitenzorg in Java,'' vol. 7. The tidal wave caused 
by the fight between fire and water, in which the water was the 
conquei'or, was twenty-five metres high. It was thought that at 
least thirty thousand natives perished, but the loss of life could not 
possibly be ascertained. 

Singapore lies in the centre of a circle, in peace and safety so far as 
human experience has hitherto shown ; but on the circumference of that 
circle, there are volcanic eruptions in Java, causing widespread death and 
destruction ; earthquakes in Manila, tumbling down buildings like houses 
of cards ; typhoons in Hongkong, tossing large vessels on to the shore, 
destroying heavily built sea-walls in the Praya, and blowing away 
massive stone verandahs on the most solidly constructed buildings on 
the sea-front ; cyclones in Calcutta, sinking ships and causing great damage 
and loss of life — while, in Singapore, convulsions of nature are 
unknown, and a Sumatra squall blowing away the attap roof of a house on 
a hill overlooking the present Ladies Lawn Tennis Ground on to the 
old Dhoby green, some thirty-five years ago, on the morning of the day 
when there was to be a dinner party in the evening as a house-warm- 
ing, is, possibly, the worst that can be alleged against the forces of nature. 

On 1st February the P. & 0. advertised a rise in passage 
fares. 'Jo Southampton first class was §552, with §83.60 for the 
transit through Egypt. The Singapore paper remarked that in 
addition to the permanent complaints of bad fare and overcrowded 
vessels, there had been an extraordinary number of breaks down in 
their steamers. The Calcutta Friend of India said at the same time 
that much grumbling, many threats, and frequent denunciations had 
been met by one virtue *^the public can depend upon us for punc- 
tuality " ; but even this consolation had been taken away. 

During the race week in May, Tan Kim Seng gave a ball in 
the Masonic Lodge on the Esplanade to all the Europeans. In the 
same month it was reported that Sir James Brooke might be the 
Governor, if the transfer took place and Colonel Cavenagh returned 
to India. The paper said that the Rajah would govern the Straits 
with the vigour and sagacity that had distinguished his career in 

On 24th May, the Queen's birthday, the Volunteers paraded with 
all the troops on the Esplanade in the morning, and a salute was 
fired at the same time from the new Port Canning. 

In August there were very heavy wind and rain squalls on two 
days and a large three-storied godown which was being built on 


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686 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

the left-hand side of Almeida Street, about half way down after 
leaving the Square, for Jose d^ Almeida & Sons, which had just been 
roofed in, fell down; one man sleeping inside was killed. Busing, 
Schroder & Co., were the tenants. 

An ice-making machine was set up in August, but it did not 
work satisfactorily. After the ice-house was built, a private company 
imported ice pro bono publico, and charged five cents a pound, which 
resulted in a heavy loss. The house then remained empty for a 
considerable time, when Mr. Tudor, an American, tried to keep up 
a supply; but it was constantly failing, and often at the hottest 
times. It was said in the newspaper that he lost $20,000 over it. 
When the ice failed, liquids used to be cooled by turning the bottles 
in pails with saltpetre. It was not for many years after this, that 
the supply of ice could be depended on. The local consumption 
was then so small, and there was no demand for steamers, except 
for the mails. 

In May, Drs. Little and Robertson advertised that their Singapore 
Dispensary in the Square was put under the entire management of 
Mr. Robert Jaimie, who had come out from Edinburgh for the 
purpose. He lived for many years over the Dispensary in the Square, 
in the same building as at present, but latterly he lived at Seran- 
goon on the large cocoanut plantation he bought there, as has been 
said on page 185. He is now living at Edinburgh. 

On Monday, 7th October, Sir James Brooke was entertained by 
the whole community at a ball in the Assembly Rooms. It had been 
proposed to have a dinner but the ladies wished to take part in it. 
Sir James was on his way home on account of ill-health. He returned 
to Sarawak afterwards for a short time, and left there for the last 
time in October, 1863, and died at Burrator in Devonshire, on 15th 
June, 1868, where he is buried. 

In this year the fortification and barracks on Fort Canning were 
completed, and the European Artillerymen were removed from the 
buildings on Pearls Hill, which were from that time occupied by the 
Commissariat Department. The attap barracks at Tanglin were so 
far advanced as to be capable of affording ample accommodation for a 
European regiment, but the newspaper said that they would probablv 
retnain empty and deteriorate rapidly in consequence ; which proved 
to be the case. The sea-wall, now called Collyer Quay, from Fort 
Fullerton to the old Teluk Ayer market, was nearly completed at 
the end of 1861, and the space behind it was being gradually filled 
in to allow of godowns being built, which it was said would greatly 
improve the appearance of the town ; as they did five years 

The annual report for 1860-61 stated that B«. 21,784 had then 
been spent on St. Andrew's Church, and that the building of the 
tower was in abeyance owing to the settlement of its foundation, 
and that the design would probably have to be changed for the sake 
of a lighter superstructure. 

The German Club gave a performance in the Town Hall in 
September, in aid of the building fund. There was a heavy rainfall 
this year, as in other parts of the Indian Archipelago, greatly 


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1861 687 

damaging the roads. The new Agri-Horticultural Society held two 
shows of fruit, vegetables and flowers, in June and December. 

The Sultan of Tringaiui and the Bandahara of Pahang visited 
Singapore ; and the Prime Minister of Siam, Chow Phya Sri Sury- 
wongsie and two sons of the First King of Siam, with a large 
letinue, came in July on their way to Quedah, from where they went 
overland to Siam. There were then two Kings of Siara called the 
First- and Second Kings. 

In December the Free Press said that the Town Hall was 
assuming an appearance very creditable to the Settlement, but the work 
had been brought to a -stand for want of funds, as the Treasurers were 
under an advance of $5,000, and the Committee would have to apply 
to tlie public for further money. The great advance in the cost of 
building materials which took place during its erection, caused the 
original estimates to be much exceeded. 

In 1886, Mr. James Guthrie wrote from London, because he 
had heard that some question had arisen about the purposes for 
which the Town Hall had been built. He said, " As I had a 
^ood deal to do with it, perhaps my information may be useful. 
I'he ground was given by the Government — a free gift. The whole 
of the money was subscribed by the European and other residents, 
all of whom gave liberally, but, as often happens, the building cost 
a good deal more than estimated, so the movers in the good work 
had rather a troublesome time of it, but, I am happy to say, were 
again and again most kindly received, when appearing with an 
empty bag — never in my remembrance being refused a further sul>- 
scription to the good work, in which all were interested. The 
building was at last completed, and an arrangement was made with 
the Municipal Commissioners, to take over the responsibility and 
management of the Town Hall, in consideration of which they were 
to occupy one or two of the rooms behind the dining-room for 
offices — ^the dining-room being available for theatrical perfomances, 
&c., the large room upstairs being intended for balls, &c., &c., and 
the small rooms for libraries, which it was thought might be more 
convenient there than at the Institution. In those days the Municipal 
Commissioners had a room for their Secretary in the Police Office, 
and held their meetings in the old Court-house.'' 

On 26th December the Free Press remarked that the London 
papers said there was some prospect of the Prince of Wales passing 
through Singapore on his projected visit to India and Australia ; 
but the Prince did not, of course, go further than India. 


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688 Anecdotal History of Singapore 


IN January the Chamber of Commerce presented Captain Stanton of 
H. M. S. Saracen, surveying vessel, with a gold pocket chrono- 
meter which Mr. James Guthrie had selected in London, as an acknow- 
ledgment of the services rendered by him to commerce, by his surveys 
ill Banca Straits in 1860. 

The Tumongong of Johore, Daing Ibrahim Sri Maharajah, died at 
his residence at New Harbour on the 31st January, in his 52nd year. 
He was the second son of the Tumongong with whom Sir Stamford 
Raffles in 1819 entered into the negotiations which led to the Settle- 
uHMit. The Free Press said: — "This native chief, during the course of 
his long rule, conducted himself with great prudence and secured tho 
friendship and support of the British Government, by whom he was 
piesented with a sword of state for his exertions in putting down the 
piracy which at one period was so prevalent in the vicinity of Singa- 
pore. For many years he devoted himself to the improvement of his 
territory of Johore, in which he was very successful, the revenues at his 
death amounting to a very considerable sum, derived principally from 
the Chinese population that under his encouragement had settled iu 
Johore and engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was succeeded by 
his eldest son, between whom and the Bandahara of Pahang a treaty 
was entered into at Singapore in June, with the sanction of the British 
Government, to regulate the countries of Pahang and Johore, their 
l»oundaries, jurisdiction and government, to prevent disputes hereafter 
and to perpetuate the amity existing between them.'^ 

Tumongong Ibrahim was succeeded by his eldest son, Ungku Wan 
Abubakar, who had been administering the Government for some year^i, 
as his fatlier's liealth had been declining. Mr. Cameron in his book 
speaks of him as an amiablo and high-minded gentleman, more desirous 
of peace and quiet tlian oF great power, which was very true of the 
late Sultan Abubakar, as he was afterwards styled. Both he and his 
fatlier have been referred to on page 45. 

There were a number of cases of cholera amongst the native 
population in the beginning of the year. With the view of driving 
away this scourge the Chinese expended large sums in getting up 
processions, which for some days completely obstructed the principal 
thoroughfares in the town, and were accompanied by the burning 
of joss paper, the explosion of crackers and the beating of gongs, 
making it dangerous to attempt passing along the streets in carri- 
ages. The police were much blamed for the complete immunity they 
seemed to allow the Chinese in the perpetration of these nuisances, 
no attempt apparently being made to preserve any semblance of order. 

In February, Colonel George Chancellor Collyer, who was styled 
Chief Engineer, Straits Settlements, retired from the service and left 


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1862 689 

for Europe. The principal works he had carried out were Fort Canninof, 
the reconstruction of the works at Fort Fullerton, the erection of tlie 
attap barracks for European troops (who did not come until the buildings 
had to be re-attaped) at Tanglin ; and the sea wall from Johnston's Pier 
to the old Fish-market at the east end of Teluk Ayer, which was called 
I'ollver Quay after him. It had been designed by him in 1858, but 
was not completed when he left. Colonel Collyer, as regards the forts, 
could only carry out the orders from India, and they were not con- 
sidered of any use. The Colonel, although lie was a very busy man, 
always found time to give the benefit of his advice and suggestions to 
tlio Municipal Commissioners when they asked him, as they were often 
anxious to do, in which respect he was a favourable contrast to Colonel 
Faber, who acted for a time during Colonel Collyer's absence on sick leave, 
and declined to give such assistance. It was probably as well for the 
rate-payers, judging from the result of the public works Colonel Faber 
spent public money on. 

Some people wanted to know why the good old Malay name of the 
liill at the New Harbour was changed to Mount Faber, who, a newspaper 
correspondent said, deserved no record in the place. 

Colonel Collyer bestowed much pains on preparing a plan and 
estimate for a pier which he proposed should run out from the new sea- 
wall at Collyer Quay into 17 feet of water. His scheme was received 
with favor by the mercantile community, and it was proposed to carry 
it out by means of a Company, but it was afterwards said that 
that depth of water was too shallow for the class of vessels for which 
such a pier would be of the greatest utility, and the project was 
postponed for further information regarding the additional expense 
that would have to be incurred to extend it into tlie depth of water 
considered necessary. 

As will be seen later, the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, which 
probably sprung out of Colonel Collyer's scheme, began in the next 
year. At the time he proposed the pier, the godowns along Collyer 
Quay were just being planned, and goods landed from ships on to 
such a pier could have been retidily stored near the shore end ; 
hut the value of the property now, and the large traflBc in the streets leading 
from the Quay to Boat Quay and tlie Chinese business portion of the 
town, would render such a scheme very inconvenient at the present 

The Annual Report of the P. W. D. in June, 1862, said that the 
cost of Collyer Quay was defrayed by the merchants, the Government 
giving a certain amount of convict labour. The foundations could only 
be proceeded with once a fortnight, as it was built in one foot of 
water in ordinary tides. About two-thirds was completed at the beginning 
of 1861, and the work was not completely finished, and the roadway 
filled in for carriages to pass, for some three years afterwards. All the 
carriage and goods traffic was in the Square. 

On 28th March a public meeting was held, which came to be 
called the Battle of the Bridges. It was held because it was g'wen 
«>ut that the Municipal Commissioners intended to place across the 
Singapore River at Flint Street an iron bridge that was coming 
out from England to replace the dangerous wooden bridge at Kalian^. 


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690 Anecdotal Histoi'y of Singapore 

Mr. John Purvis was in the chair, and he said a bridge at Flint Street 
should never have been thought of. Mr. N. B. Watson said a bridge 
near the mouth of the river would not help traffic to any extent, would 
prevent boats coming up the river, and injure the property on the river 
side, with which Mr. Reginald Padday agreed. Then Mr. Greenshields 
said the proper place for an additional bridge was at Market Street, as it 
was a wide street [it would not be thought so now, but it was wider than 
Flint Street] and Mr. M. F. Davidson agreed with him. Dr. Little said 
it would be a shame to use the new iron bridge at any other place tban 
Kallang for which it was ordered, and much wanted [he had a 
plantation in that direction]. In his opinion the best site would be 
half way between Bonham Street and Market Street, with which Mr. 
Jose d' Almeida agreed. Then Mr. John Cameron said Bonham Street 
was the best place, as it was higher up than Flint Street, and boats 
would have more time to lower their masts. 

Votes were then taken ; 15 for Market Street, 13 for half way, and 
12 for Bonham Street. Mr. Adamson then proposed that a bridge across 
the river near EUenborough Market would be a great convenience, and 
tend to relieve the traffic over the other bridges, and that the iron bridge 
might be erected from Tocksing Street to East B.oad, which was carried 
by a majority. 

The result was that the iron bridge ordered for Kallang River was 
erected there as first intended, and another iron bridge was placed where 
the first bridge had been, called Thomson's or Presentment Bridge, but wa.> 
afterwards called Elgin Bridge after Lord Elgin. Both these bridges are 
still standing, but have been widened, the former when the steam tram- 
ways were made, which were afterwards abandoned. Both bridges were 
erected and opened during the year. 

In May, Governor Cavenagh returned from Penang and occupied 
Leonie Hill House in Grange Road. Complaints were made about the 
inconvenience of the Governor's office being removed to the house, in 
place of being in town with the other public departments, as had before 
that been the case. The Governor's office was for a time at Leonie Cot- 
tage, a wooden house with an attap roof, which was said to be unsafe in 
case of fire ; it was not likely, however, as fires in the country districts 
were almost unknown. The change led to much of the business which had 
before been transacted directly with the Governor in town, being passed 
through the hands of the Resident Councillor ; but Colonel Cavenagh 
could always be seen at any moment in his office at Leonie Hill where he 
was always to be found without any ceremony, during office hours, work- 
ing in a room downstairs. 

The Free Press of 5th June contained a long account of the 
famous fight between the Sarawak steamer Rainbow and the six 
Lanun pirate boats on 22nd May. About 160 of the captives from 
Celebes, Pontianak, and other places, and two from Singapore wen* 
rescued, and testified their joy by kissing the hands and feet of 
those on board the Rainbow. Very many more were drowned, 
some of them having had their feet tied together by the pirates, 
who had treated their prisoners very brutally. The pirates fought 
to the last, and even after they were in the water would not allow 
themselves to be taken, and the destruction was most complete. 


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A great deal of notice was unfortunately attracted to the mat- 
ter by the '' extremely imprudent" (to use what was then spoken of 
as the mildest phrase) letter of Bishop McDougall of Sarawak. He sent 
a highly coloured narrative of his exploits, which filled three columns 
of the London Times ; and praised his new double-barrelled gun, 
which never missed fire once in eighty rounds, without wanting to be 
cleaned ; and more in the same way. No doubt the tanking of the 
prahtis was perfectly just, and captives were released from inhuman 
captivity, and the pirates were as the Bishop styled them ^^ pests of 
the earth." 

The Singapore newspaper said that although there were some 
strange rumours in Singapore, at the time, about the exploits of the 
Bishop, the letter in the TLvies, and his desire to boast about his 
own warlike exploits, from behind the shelter of a bulwark, and in 
SQch language, came as a surprise to his acquaintances in Singapore, 
who had hoped that the knowledge would be confined to a few, 
and would never come to be the subject of very undesirable 
comment in the newspapers, such as the Spectator , Examiner, and 
other papers contained. 

The Dutch Government sent a handsome gold chronometer to 
Captain Hewatt of the Rainbow, with an inscription that it was 
given in acknowledgment of his gallant and able conduct on 22nd 
ilay, 1862, by which a great number of Netherlands India subjects 
were delivered from the hands of pirates. It was publicly presented 
to him by Mr. W. H. Read at the Club House. 

On 12th June a public meeting, called by the Sheriff at the 
\vritten request of thirty-three of the principal European residents 
of the place, was held at the Town Hall to take into consideration the 
niost efficient measures to adopt in order to control, if not repress, the 
vice of gambling then so prevalent. There was a large attendance, and 
it was admitted generally that gambling was carried on to a large 
extent, that it was very prejudicial to the place, and that bribery of 
the police, to obtain their connivance in allowing it, also prevailed. 

Some said that it was not possible to prevent it, and to secure 
the integrity of the Police, without a farm. Others said it would 
be useless to propose it because of Exeter Hall and the House of 
Commons, and that Singapore would be disgraced in the eyes of 
the civilised world if it were allowed. Others said it was a social 
vice, not a crime against the public, and could not be stopped. A 
Chinese gentleman sugcrested that licensing should be tried for a 
limited time. 

There was so much diffeience of opinion, that it was agreed a 
committee should be appointed to collect information, and report to 
an adjourned meeting. The matter seems to have ended there, as 
no report is to be traced. Notice had been drawn to the subject, 
because during the fortnight after the Chinese New Year, the police 
had allowed gambling to go on unchecked, and no satisfactory 
e.xplanation of this circumstance had been given. 

In the middle of this year a half holiday was first observed on 
Saturdays. The movement was started by Mr. GilfiUan of the Borneo 
Company and Mr. A. T. Carmichael of the Chartered Bank. 


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692 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

In September the Singapore Library was removed from the 
RaflBes Institution to the Town Hall. It was in two rooms on the 
south side, downstairs. 

Mr. Thomas Tivendale, who was for many years a very well 
known shipwright in Singapore^ died on board the P. & O. Mail on 
his way home on 10th September. 

On 1st July, 18G8, Mr. Wm. Cloughton, the Director of the 
Patent Slip and Dock Company advertised that that Company had 
purchased the property and goodwill of the business of the late firm 
of Tivendale <& Co., for repairing ships at Sandy Point alongside 
the Heaving down Hulk; and that the Dry Dock at New Harbour 
which had been opened in March, 1859, was 400 feet long, with 15 
feet 6 inches depth of water. 

In September the sum of £1,160, subscribed in Singapore for 
the relief of the Lancashire and Cheshire operatives, was sent to the 
Lord Mayor of London in aid of the Distress Fund, consequent on 
the effect of the American Civil War on the cotton trade. 

In November the bombardment of Tringanu occurred, which led 
to a discussion in the House of Commons on 16th July, 1863, and 
was for some time a subject of comment. 

In 1851 a Singapore trading junk had been seized and destroyed 
at Tringanu and thirty-five of the crew and passengers were put to 
death. Mr. Thomas Church, Resident Councillor at that time, went 
there to enquire into it, and made a demand for compensation which the 
Rajah of Tringanu refused to pay, and, unfortunately, no further pro- 
ceedings were taken. This had nothing to do with the subsequent 
trouble, but it was thought that the misplaced leniency led the Rajah, 
who was still the chief of the country in 1862, to think that his dis- 
regard of the representations of the Straits Government would not 
involve him in any troublesome consequences. 

An ex-Sultan of Lingga had gone to Tringanu, and repeatedly 
instigated attacks upon the neighbouring state of Pahang, which was 
invaded by one Wan Ahmad, acting under his orders, with a force 
from Tringanu, asserting that he was the only legitimate successor of his 
grandfather, Sultan Mahomed, as the ruler of Johore, Pahang, &c. The 
Siamese Government were informed of the inconveniences to trade 
arising from the man living at Tringanu, which was alleged to be 
a tributary of Siam, and of a Siamese gunboat having taken him 
from Bangkok to Tringanu on his way to join Wan Ahmad. 

The King of Siam disclaimed all intention of supporting the 
ex-Sultan in attempting to disturb the peace of the Peninsula, 
and said he had given orders to the Rajah of Tringanu to 
send the ex-Sultan back to Bangkok, where he would be sent to 
reside in one of the interior Siamese provinces, so that he would be 
out of the way of stirring up mischief in the Malay Peninsula. As 
this was not done and the Siamese evidently intended to talk and do 
nothing more, and the approach of the north-east monsoon required 
that a stop should be put to the matter without delay, Colonel 
Macpherson, Resident Councillor, left for Tringanu on the 6th Nov- 
ember in H. M. S. Srouff a 21 gun corvette of 1462 tons, for 
the purpose of removini; the man and taking him to Siam. 


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1862 693 

Colonel Macphersoii sent a letter on shore to the Rajah, saying 
what was wanted, and that he would land the next day. A long 
interview took place then, the Rajah alleging that the man was 
too ill to be moved, but a doctor of the Scout saw him and said 
there was nothing much the matter with him. Colonel Macpherson 
said it was desired to convey him in the manner most consistent 
with his own convenience, and ho could go in his own state barge 
with his flag and that of the Rajah of Tringanu, in tow of a steamer, 
if he liked, but the Rajah positively refused to give him up. 

Colonel Macpherson then said that if he were not given up by 
a certain time on the following day, he would resort to force. The 
time expired, and three guns were fired, and then a pause of some 
hours was allowed in the hope the Rajah would come to terms, but 
as he did not make any sign, the Scout and Coquette, a sloop of 677 
tons which had also gone, opened fire upon the Rajah's Kutta or 
fort. The fire was kept up at intervals until dark, care being taken 
us nmch as possible to avoid injury to private property. A letter 
afterwards came from the Rajah professing great penitence for his 
conduct, and saying that the ex-Sultan had disappeared from Trin- 
ganu, and it was not known where he had gone to. It was under- 
stood that he was afterwards taken to Bangkok by the Siamese. 

Mr. W. H. Read wrote to the Free Press at the time, saying that 
about twenty men had been killed at Tringanu, of whom eight at any 
rate had nothing to do with the matter, and suggesting that the object 
could have been realised by seizing the ex-Sultan, by which many 
iunocent lives might have been saved; Jind that sufficient opportunity 
was not given to the King of Siam to take action himself. It was on 
these grounds that Lord John H.'iy brought the matter before the House 
of Commons. 

Mr. John Cameron, at page 137 of his book, makes a passing 
reference to this occurrence, and says : — '' Our moral influence, added to 
a few days' vigorous bombardment [he is wrong hero it was only a few 
hours] was used in favour of one claimant to the Bandaharaship of Pahang, 
whose family has after all been set aside, and the man whom we opposed 
now reigns peaceably and quietly, by the people\s choice." 

How this occurred may be found in the following paragraph taken 
from the Free Press of 2nd July, 1862 : — " By last accounts from 
Pahang we learn that Wan Ahmad has been left in indisputed 
possession of the country. After the death of the Bandahara at 
Pahang on the 2nd ultimo, the followers of his younger brother 
Tan Abdulrahman (or Ahman) installed the latter as Bandahara, but 
the greater part of the chiefs and people refused to recognise him, 
aa he had long made himself very unpopular by his lawless 
conduct and his addiction to opium smoking. The support of 
the Johore Government was withdrawn, and under these circum- 
stances he found himself unable to make head against his uncle 
Wan Ahmad, and he therefore withdrew to Kalantan, leaving the 
latter the only person then in Pahang in a position to assume 
the government. It will, we presume, depend very much upon Wan 
Ahmad's own conduct whether he will be left in undisturbed pos- 
session of Pahang or not. It is fortunate for him, as increasing 


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694 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

his chances of ultimate success^ that the ex-Sultan of Lingga is at 
present at a distance from Pahang, and not in a position to inter- 
fere in its affairs. If Wan Ahmad is wise enough to rid himself of 
his connection with the ex-Sultan and to endeavour to govern 
Pahang with moderation, maintaining at the same time peaceful 
relations with his neighbours, he will probably remain unmolested ; but 
if he lends himself to intrigues of the ex-Sultan or any one else 
against Johore he will certainly involve himself in much trouble and 
probably endanger his position as ruler of Pahang." 

The Lords Commissioners of the Treasury in England had 
raised questions about the sufficiency of the revenue of the Straits 
to meet the expenditure, and the transfer to the Colonial Office was 
hanging off in consequence. With the object of overcoming the objec- 
tion, the Calcutta Government sent imperative orders in very curt 
terms to enforce the Stamp Act in the Straits. On some previous 
occasions the Government of India had expressed its desire to raise 
additional revenue by means of stamp duties, but on the remon- 
strances of the inhabitants it had as often abandoned the design. 

In May, a notification appeared in the Government Gazette, stating 
that under instructions from the Supreme Government the provisions 
of the Stamp Act would be brought into force in the Straits Settle- 
ment on or about the 1st of November following. The Singapore 
Chamber of Commerce immediately memorialised the Governor-General 
in Council on the subject, setting forth that the imposition of stamp 
duties would be a heavy and peculiar burden on the trade, from the 
fact that in the Straits goods were always sold on credit, for which 
promissory notes were taken, whereas in India and elsewhere such 
sales were generally for cash, and that the taxation already levied 
in the Straits Settlements was not only much higher than what 
prevailed in India, but that it was more than sufficient to cover all 
the expenditure that with any justice could be charged against the 
local revenue. In answer to this, the Governor-General in Council 
caused it to be intimated that in his opinion there was no sufficient 
reason for exempting the Straits Settlements from the operation of 
the Stamp Act, and that he was therefore unable to comply with 
the prayer of the Chamber. 

On Thursday, 10th July, a public meeting was held at the Town Hall on 
the subject, and was very largely attended. The meeting expressed 
regret that the memorial of the Chamber of Commerce had not met with 
more consideration from the Viceroy of India ; and as the revenue of the 
Straits was sufficient to pay all the legitimate expenses, the imposition of 
additional taxation was vexatious and uncalled for. It protested against 
the Settlements being saddled with the whole of the military expenditure, 
and a committee of Messrs. W. H. Read, W. Paterson, J. J, Greenshields, 
Abraham Logan, James Davidson (Mercantile Bank), W. Mactaggart and 
Joaquim d' Almeida, was appointed to draw up a Memorial to the English 
Ministry on the subject, and to the Viceroy. 

The assistance of gentlemen in England interested in the Straits 
was sought, and efforts were made by Mr. Crawfurd and others to 
induce the Secretary of State for India to reconsider the matter, 
but without result. The Governor-General in Council declined to 


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1862 695 

accede to any delay pending these appeals to the Home Authorities, 
and adhered to his resolution that the Act should be brought into 
force at the time originally named. Officers were therefore appointed 
for carrying out the Act, but it was found that their arrangements 
could not be completed by the time fixed, and the Governor of the 
Straits Settlements, on his own responsibility postponed the period for 
bringing the Stamp Act into operation until the 1st of January, 1863, 
when it was accordingly initiated. 

The determination thus shown by the Supreme Government to 
carry out the behests of the Secretary of State for India, in spite 
of all remonstrance, let to a renewed effort being made to have the 
Settlements placed under the Colonial Office, and thereby obtain such 
a degree of self-government as would be secured by ha\riner a Legisla- 
tive Council on the spot. 

The hurried way in which the Calcutta Government attempted 
to introduce the measure was amusing. It had to be postponed more 
than once for causes which showed how little was understood there 
about the Straits. The stamps sent were all in rupees, and there 
were no rupees in the place, and no rate of exchange was provided for. 
Then the number of stamps sent was altogether inadequate, and the 
natives could not understand about them. It all worked well enough 
after a time, but it always remained a question whether the com- 
munity were not right in their objection, on the broad ground that 
it was an infringement of that free trade policy of Sir Stamford 
Raffles, which had made the place what it is, aud which it is so 
essential to maintain, and for which the community has fought so 
many battles. It was looked upon as the thin edge of a wedge to 
be resisted to the utmost. It undoubtedly led more quickly to the 

The French mail line of the Messageries Imperiales, as it was then 
termed, began to run towards the close of the year. Messrs. Hinnekindt 
Freres and L. Cateaux, a Belgian firm of very good standing, which 
began as Hinnekindt Freres in Singapore in 1849, were the Agents in 
the preliminary arrangements. 

The first steamer of the company to arrive from Suez, bringing 
the mails from London of 18th October, was the Imperatricey which arrived 
at Singapore on the 21st November. The steamer Alphee going home- 
wards about the same time. It was then and for some years afterwards a 
monthly service, and was due to the opening of Cochin-China and the 
Port of Saigon by the French. Emperor Louis Napoleon took a great 
interest in the line, and it was said that the arrangement for the building 
of the steamers was due to him. The first steamers were built at La Ciotat 
near Marseilles by Scotch shipbuilders engaged from the Clyde to 
work there, and after a few vessels had been built, the French work- 
men went on alone, and built very fine steamers. The Imperatrice 
was afterwards called the Provence, on the downfall of the Emperor. 

By that steamer on the 21st November, Mr. Paul Brasier arrived 
at Singapore to arrange to take over the Agency from Messrs. 
Hinnekindt, Mr. Brasier lived in Singapore for many years, and died 
here on 24th September, 1887, having been Agent for the Company 
all the twenty-five years^ and it is not too much to say that the 


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696 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

success of the line, and especially as regards the number of Englisli 
)jassengers from Singapore who travelled by the French mail, was 
largely due to his being very much liked. 

He lived with his family for a great many years at St. James^ Keppel 
Harbour, where he died. He and Mrs. Brasier and their three children, 
who were all brought up in the place, attracted the friendship of all 
Singapore, with their amiable, courteous, and gentle characters. It was 
often said that Mr. Brasier, who was always cheerful and obliging, passed 
through a life of much trouble here. Mrs. Brasier died, and then liis 
elder daughter who had married a French gentleman who was afterwards 
the Agent of the Company at Madras, then the younger daughter, who 
was very much liked in the place, died here ; and when he died his son 
Rone, his only remaining child, was away at Hongkong. Mr. Rene con- 
tinued in the Company's Agency here, and latterly was Agent, but he left 
Singapore in 1900 for Sydney, where he was appointed Agent, as the most 
important Branch in the East. 

On 15th May, James B. Cumming, Simon F. Cumming and Hugh 
R. Beaver advertised that they had started the firm of Cumming 
Beaver & Co. 

It was in this year that Mr. Thomas Braddell came to reside 
iu Singapore. He had been Assistant Resident Councillor in Penang, 
and returned from leave after having passed for the Bar, and 
commenced practising iu Singapore. He had been heard of in 
Singapore, as he had been in Penang and Malacca for eighteen 
years. He was one of the most useful and hardworking men that 
ever came to Singapore. It was said of him, after he died, that 
if he had had a longer education, he would have been a very 
eminent man. Ho left Ireland, where he was born, iu 1823 at 
sixteen years of age, and went to a plantation in the West Indies. 
About 1844 he came to the Straits from Demerara, to manage the 
sugar estate called Otaheite in the Ayer Etaui Valley at Penang, 
which belonged to Messrs. Brown & Co. About that time an 
alteration had taken place in the sugar duties in England, putting 
the British Indian produce on the same footing as the Colonies. 
This gave a great increase to the development of Province Wel- 
lesley; therefore in 1846 Brown & Co. and Mr. Nairne formed a 
Company and opened the Batu Kawan Estate in Province Wellesley, 
of which Mr. Braddell became manager and owner of four-sixteenths 
of the property. Brown & Co. furnishing the funds. The venture 
was unfortunate, as the estate got inundated in a very high tide 
and the crop was lost. 

Mr. Braddell left the estate, and was on 1st January, 1849, 
appointed Deputy Superintendent of Police at Penang, and a few 
months afterwards was transferred to the Municipality as Secretary. 
From that he took charge of the Police of Province Wellesley, 
and in 1851 was sent to Malacca, where he was for three years. 
Until this time he had been heard little of in Singapore, and he 
used to tell how he went between Malacca and Singapore in schooners 
and sampans. In 1856 ho returned to Penang as Magistrate, and 
in 1859 he was called to the Bar in England by the Society of 
Grray^s Inn. 


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1802 697 

He resigned his appoiutmeut in Peuang in. 1862, and came 
down to Singapore to practise in the Supreme Court. He joined 
Mr. Abraham Logan in 1862, and they had offices behind Battery 
Road at the rear of John Little & Co.'s premises. They worked 
together until Mr. Logan went to Penang. 

In January, • 1864, he was appointed Crown Counsel ot* the 
Straits Settlements, and prosecuted for the Crown at the Assizes. 
He held the appointment, continuing his large private practice, until 
April, 1867, when he was appointed Attorney General of the Straits 
Settlements, on the Transfer, and held the position until he retired 
on 31st December, 1882, on a pension of $4,090 a year, and died 
in London on 19th September, 1891, at 68 years of age. 

A very great deal of work was thrown upon Mr. Braddell as the 
first law-officer after the transfer. Many new Ordinances had to bo drawn, 
and the law officers of the Crown in London gave him great credit 
for his ability in dealing with many difficult subjects. This was especially 
the case with the Crown Suits Ordinance. He was a man of great 
quickness of perception, great energy of purpose, and unwearied industry, 
lie was, in his comparatively younger days, when he first came to Singa- 
pore, one of the most popular men of the })lace. He was a capital billiard 
pliiyer, and was to be seen in the theatre when any travelling company 
gave performances there, which were poor enough; but he used to say that 
it passed an evening occasionally, however bad the players were, and 
made a little diversion from work. 

It was always pleasant to the jury to hear him conducting the cases 
at the Assizes, for he was most essentially a kind-hearted, straight-forward 
man, with a very pleasant, perfectly audible voice, and a fluent, but very 
simple, speaker. He had a very plensanl face and manner, and it was 
said of him after the Transfer, that he was the only official who could 
carry off the civil service uniform which came into use then among some, 
but not all, the officials, for he had a fine figure, and was over six feet 
in height. 

Mr. Braddell was a most indefatigable worker, and used to sit 
up very late at night at his work. At one time he intended to 
write a history of Singapore similar to the present work, and he 
filled a great number of foolscap sheets of common Chinese writing 
paper with rough copies of old documents and lyrecis of the contents 
of many others. Some few of these were printed in Logan^s Journal, 
but there are several hundred sheets of other matter, which have 
been very largely made use of in compiling this book, as they were 
given into the author's possession. There are some who wonder why 
Mr. Braddell, who was a very busy man, should have spent so 
much time and taken so much trouble, about the stories of this 
place ; but he was one of those, like Mr. Crawfurd, J. T. Thomson, 
G. W. Earl, John Cameron, and others, who were very willing to 
use their spare time in endeavouring to record the history of the place, 
the growing importance of which they foresaw and appreciated. Mr. 
Braddell wrote a number of papers in Logan's Journal, which did 
not all give his name, but among the sheets above spoken of, 
(wliich with similar papers, although not so voluminous regarding 
Peuung and Malacca would make a small volume of themselves) is 


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698 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

a list in his own writing of his contributions to the journal, which 
were as foUow^s: — 

Vol. 4 1850 Translation, Acheen Annals. page 598 

Do. „ 728 

„ 5 1851 History of Acheen „ 15 

Translation Majellis Ache „ 26 

Sijara Malaya — 8 papers 

„ 6 1852 Do. „ 33 

Translation about Tay Tae Hoey „ 545 

Do. about Colonel Farquhar „ 585 

Do. about AbduUa's Schooling „ 643 

„ 7 1853 Notices of Singapore „ 325 

„ 8 1854 Do. 3 papers pages 97. 329, 403 

„ 9 1855 Do. page 53 

Geneological Tables of Johore „ 66 

Translation. Malayan Laws of Johore „ 71 

Notes on the Chinese in the Straits „ 109 

Life and Services of Baffles „ 306 

Notices of Singapore „ 442 

New Scries Vol. 1 Notes in Malacca „ 43 

Gambling and Opium Smoking „ 66 

Notes of Dutch Histijry in Acheen „ 141 

Notes on Naning „ 194 

Raffles and the Indian Archipelago „ 266 

Map of Malacca „ 296 

Do. „ 2 Sultan of Johore „ 46 

Ancient Trade of Indian Archipelago „ 237 

Europeans in 16 and 17 Centuries „ 313 

It was Mr. BraddelPs manuscripts, which were in many cases only 
decipherable by the compiler of this book, who was well accustomed 
to his writing and method of contracting the words, that led, 
more than anything else, to undertaking this book. It seemed im- 
possible to let all his useful, voluntary, and persevering labour go 
to the white ants for want of some one to turn it to the best 
account he could. It is much to be regretted that he did not live 
to read the proofs of this book, for he would have made it very much 

As will be understood from the long translations of Malay 
works which he published in Logan's Journal, he was a very good 
Malay scholar, at a time when there were few residents who read 
and wrote it. The Malays had great respect for him, and the 
chiefs in the Peninsula looked to him, as they did to Mr. W. H. 
Read, as a friend to go to for advice. He was largely concerned 
with Mr. Andrew Clarke, in the Settlement of the Native States 
about 1874, and the appointment of the first residents. 

He received the thanks of Government for his services on many 
occasions, and had the Perak war medal. He was made a C.M.O. 
in 1882. Three of his children are in the Straits now, one 
daughter and two of his sons, the latter following his profession, 
one of whom was for a time acting as Attorney General, while the 
holder of the ofiice was on leave. Thomas Braddell is a name that 
should always be remembered with gratitude in Singapore, for it 
owes him much in many ways. 


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Thomas Braddbll, cm.g. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


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1863 0d9 



IN January the Supreme Government directed the Governor to 
submit to the Chamber of Commerce, for their opinion, a Bill 
to authorise the levy of port dues in the Ports of the Straits 
Settlements. The opinion of the Chamber of Commerce was that the 
measure was totally uncalled for, and that if persevered in it would be 
highly damaging to the welfare of the ports in the Straits, which 
would thenceforth lose all claim to be called " free ports. " The pro- 
posal was a favourite one with the Indian Government and had been fre- 
quently mooted by it, but as often had been discountenanced by 
iiigher authorities at home. The last occasion had been in 1857, when 
ili« Court of Directors objected to the levy of port dues in the Straits, 
and since that time nothing more had been heard of the subject until 
1863. It was thought that the Secretary of State might have with- 
drawn the prohibition given by the Court of Directors, in which case the 
Indian Government would doubtless try to carry the measure through. 

Colonel Cavenagh wrote to Calcutta supporting the view of the 
Cliamber of Commerce, his despatch containing the following passage : — 
" Unlike the Ports of India, which are the natural portals of the 
commerce of the country, and to which therefore its carriers are com- 
pelled to resort, Singapore is a mere depot, where goods, the produce 
of other countries, are stored, until a favourable opportunity for their 
resbipment to their final destination ; hence it is requisite to offer some 
inducement to vessels to enter and discharge their cargoes. This in- 
ducement has hitherto been its freedom from all port charges. Doubt- 
less Singapore is much favored by its natural position, standing as it 
does between the China Sea and the Straits of Malacca, and surrounded 
by Native States, still its position alone would not have led to its pros- 
perity, had vessels been deterred from visiting its harbour by the fear of 
beinpr called upon for heavy payments in the shape of anchorage dues. *' 

In March several of the Singapore merchants then in London 
saw Sir Charles Wood, the Secretary of State for India, on the 
subject, and he was reported to have said that it was in consequence 
of the recommendation of the Chamber of Commerce that the prohibi- 
tion sent by the Court of Directors at Leadenhall Street to Calcutta 
in 1857, against the levy of Port Dues in the Straits, had been 
withdrawn by him. The Chamber had always protested in the 
strongest manner against any Port Dues in the Straits, and strongly 
objected to Sir Charles Wood's statement. 

In August the Free Press contained the following: — ^^Sir Charles 
Wood remains obstinate in his refusal to withdraw his sanction to the 
levy of tonnage dues in the Straits. This is probably not of much 


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700 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

iinportauce, practically, as the Government of India is pledged not to 
take advantaj^e of the permission given to it by the Hon. Baronet to 
injure the trade of the Settlement, but it must make us all the more 
anxious to be removed from under the control of a person who has 
shown himself so wrong-headed and who has it so much in his power 
to damage our interests. The following is the latest appeal to Sir 
Charles Wood on the subject, and his answer: 

To tlie Right Hon. Sir Charles Woody Bart,, Her Maje^tifa Princi- 
pal Secretary of State for India, 

Right Hon. Sir. By late advices from Singapore it appears the 
.Supreme Government of India has suspended the act for levying Tonnage 
duties at Singapore and intimated its intention of abandoning it 
altogether; under these circumstances I trust you Avill see tlie inutility 
of persisting in cancelling (to the injury of many holders of 
property) the long standing prohibition to levying duties on the 
commerce of the Settlement, and that you will reimpose it, and thus 
replace Sir Stamford Raffles's proclamation in full force and integrity, 
as until that is done, the proprietors cannot feel secure in their 

I have, &c,y &c., 

C. R. Read. 

8th June, 1863. 

India Office, S. W., 

19th June, 1863. 
Sir, I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
the 8th iust., and to inform you in reply that Sir Charles Wood 
does not see in the circumstances therein represented any reason for 
reimposing the prohibition against the levy of Tonnage duties in the 
Settlement of Singapore. 

I am, &c., 
C. R. Read, Esq. Herman Mbrivale. 

In February a petition signed by eighty-six of the European inhabi- 
tants was sent to the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, asking that Singapore should be transferred from the diocese of 
Calcutta, and made the centre of an Ecclesiastical policy as it was of a 
commercial system, and that with the Straits Settlements should be in- 
corporated the bishopric of Labuan, with Singapore as the Bishop's 

In the Free Press of 16th July is a copy of a long report made by 
Captains Fraser and Forlong upon the proposed route across the Isthmus 
of Kraw to connect the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Siam ; and on the 
6th August some lengthy notes by Mr. J. D. Vaughan on the report, which 
had been read at the Royal Geographical Society on 26th January. It 
was said that there had been a tradition that there had formerly been a 
canal across the Isthmus. Mr. John Crawfurd, who was present at the 
meeting in London, made some lengthy remarks in objection to the scheme, 
from which the following extracts arc taken : — 

" Mr. Crawfurd said he had never visited the locality of the projected 
railway, but he knew pretty well what the nature of it was. Though thib 


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1863 701 

peninsula was called by the authors of the Paper a strip of land, it was 
in extent about twice the size of Ireland, containing an area of 60,000 
square miles. The greater part of it was thick forest, and the land was 
not by any means fertile except in minerals, a little tin, iron and gold. 

"He could not, however, agree with the authors of tlie Paper in 
believing that the projected plan was in the least degree feasible; on the 
contrary, he was sure it was impracticable. The distance from shore to shore 
was 65 miles, of which 15 miles were described to be navigal)le by the so- 
called Pakchan River. This in reality was not a river, but an estuary of 
the sea, with only four or five fathoms of water for half the distance, and 
but a fathom and a half on the bar at Ioav water. Then came the pro- 
jected railway of 50 miles, at the terminus of which, on the eastern 
side of the bay, there happened to be no harbour at nil. Such a 
terminus would never do to carry on the great trade of Europe and India 
with China and Japan. Then, with respect to the monsoons, the rough 
monsoon in the Bay of Bengal is the south-west monsoon, just the 
very opposite of that which prevails in the China Sea and along the 
whole of the eastern coast of the Malay peninsula, where the north- 
east was the boisterous one ; its strength is frequently that of an eight 
or nine knot breeze. A ship could not with safety lie at the terminus, 
and even a small vessel of about 120 tons had not been able to come 
inside the bar. 

" As to the alleged dangerous navigation of the Straits of Malacca, 
the Straits of Malacca are about 500 miles long and about 300 miles 
wide at the broadest part. There are no storms: there are vari- 
able winds and squalls, called "Snmatras," because they always blow 
from the coast of Sumatra, which last about a couple of hours. The 
Peninsular and Oriental Company have been carrying the mails hy 
this route for the last eighteen years. During that period their ships 
liave made between 600 and 700 voyages through the Straits, and have 
met with only one accident, which was caused by two of their ships 
running against each other in the dark, when one of them went to 
the bottom. The merchants of Calcutta and Bombay send their opium 
(0 China by this route, and out of 300 voyages made by their 
steamers not a single loss has occurred. Steamers belonging to the 
Royal Navy are constantly passing and repassing through the Straits of 
Malacca, and he had never heard of one of them being lost. For 
the last ten years also the Dutch Government have been sending 
a vessel once a fortnight, and during the whole of that time have 
never lost a vessel. He, therefore, took it for granted that the navi- 
gation of the straits was not so dangerous as had been alleged.'' 

In this year an iron steamer, the Pluto, was sent from Calcutta to 
take the place of the old worn-out Hooghly ; she had more accommodation, 
but her speed was hardly any better, and she required as much tinkering 
as the Hooghly did. The Calcutta Government saddled the Straits with nn 
inefficient craft that caused "more expense than a new vessel." There were 
at this time two old Thames penny-steamboats, called the Tonze and 
Mohr, of about 80 to 100 tons each, which used to lie in the harbour, and 
were supposed to be useful against pirates. 

The ship w right SjBuyers and Riach, built a vessel called the Singapora 
ior the Netherlands India mail line of Mr. Cores de Vries, she was 600 


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70-. Anecdotal HiMory of Singapore 

tons, the largest vessel constructed in Singapore at tbat time, 186 feet 
long, 24 feet beam, and 1(5 feet deep; of teak and copper fastened. The 
engines and rigging were to be supplied in Java. 

In May the Chamber of Commerce sent Petitions to the Government 
and the Governor-General of India, pressing upon the Government the 
advantages that would result from coining a British dollar. It suggested 
that instead of the coins having the effigy of the reigning Sovereign on the 
obverse, it should only have the Royal Arms, and that on the reverse there 
should be an inscription indicating the nature of the coin, such as "One 
Dollar,'^ surrounded by scroll work. By adopting this plan the general 
appearance of the coin would remain the same during successive reignsi, the 
only change at different periods would be in the date of issue. The suspicion 
and distrust which any considerable change in the appearance of a coin 
would be apt to raise in the minds of the Chinese and other natives would 
thus be avoided, and the Chamber trusted that this would be held a 
sufficient justification for their venturing to suggest such an innovation in 
the usual practice of making the effigy of the reigning Sovereign a part of 
the design impressed on coins issuing from the Royal Mints.'^ 

A Memorial was also sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking 
for the abolition of the heavy duty on pepper. 

At this time the Oriental Bank was always known among the natives 
as the ^' Bank Besar/' and the paper in June published statements made at 
the meeting in London in April, from which it appeared that the Bank 
was still very successful notwithstanding the great competition it had met 
with of late years. A dividend of 5 per cent, and a bonus of 3 per cent, 
were declared, making, with a previous payment in the course of the year, 
a total distribution of 15 per cent, for 1862. The Chairman stated that 
durinjf the 12 years they had been in existence they had paid 160 per cent, 
to the shareholders; and had thus paid back the whole of the Capital and 
60 per cent, besides. It is a pity it did not go on in the old way, and 
there was a very considerable stir in Singapore in 1884, when it stopped 

An excursion party was made up in June to Gunong Pulai, and they 
were away four days. The result of their observations was unfavorable 
to the idea of establishing a sanatorium there. The reduction in tempera- 
ture was not found to be great ; and the distance from Singapore would 
present serious obstacles in the way of procuring supplies and, in the case 
of invalids, medical assistance. For a mere change of scene it was thought 
that Bukit Timah presented nearly as great advantages as Gunong Pulai, 
and its accessibility from Singapore was a great recommendation in its 
favor. The height was taken by the mean of two aneroids as 1906 feet, 
and by boiling water as 1833 feet. The difference by thermometer was 
taken as 8 degrees. 

The only way at this time to cross the river from the Square to the 
Post Office and Stamp Office without going round over Elgin Bridge was 
in little tamhanga or sampans, and the Municipal Commissioners (who 
must have been desperately anxious for funds, to descend to such small 
game to raise a revenue), farmed out the right of the ferry, and the farmer 
caused a strike among the sampan boys by asking too much from them 
for permission to ply. A wooden bridge on trestles, with a charge of a 
quarter of a cent (doit) was soon put up, and Europeans crossing over to 


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1863 703 

the Esplunade after office, used to give a cent or two every now and then. 
All carriages drove down Kling Street and Circular Road from the Square. 
A very bad case of Amok occurred on 1st July in Shaik Madarsah 
Lane, Campong Glam. A Javanese Sailor ran amok, cutting a woman 
nearly to pieces, mortally wounding a man and a child, and inflicting 
wounds more or less severe on three other persons. He then set fire 
to the house in which this took place, and brandishing a kris in one 
hand and a large knife in the other, defied all attempts to capture 
him. Inspector Cox having arrived on tlie spot repeatedly called 
upon him to surrender, but he refused and attempted to break througli 
the partition into the neighbouring house. Inspector Cox then fired 
at him through the Venetians, intending to disable hira, but the ball 
went through the heart. 

The following paragraph on the paper in July looks like the 
first symptom of the interminable Acheen war of a few years later : — 
"There is a report that the Rajah of Acheen, — ^not approving of 
chiefs on the East Coast of Sumatra, whom he considered as his 
vassals, hoisting the Dutch flag — intended to try to bring them back 
to their allegiance by force, should softer means fail, and the Dutch 
government is of course prepared to assist those who have shown 
themselves so willing to come under its sway. If there is really 
any truth in this, we are afraid the Achinese monarch is only 
precipitating his own destruction, and giving the opportunity so 
eagerly longed for by our astute neighbours, of bringing the whole 
island of Sumatra under their exclusive dominion." 

A very large fire broke out on the afternoon of Wednesday, 
19th August, in the neighbourhood of Upper Circular Road, which 
cleared away a great number of old houses, and led to the wide, 
open street that now stands there. The fire cleared away nearly 
the whole block of buildings as far as Carpenter Street, and did 
a great deal of good to the town. 

On 1st September was issued a little prospectus, the beginning 
in a very small way of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, Limited, 
which has grown to such large dimensions. It stated that the 
Company with a capital of $125,00^) in 1250 shares of $100 each 
with power to increase, was started, and that applications for shares 
could be made to Mr. M. F. Davidson, before the 10th instant, 
when a meeting would be called, allotment made, and directors 
appointed. On 14th September an advertisement signed by Mr. Thomas 
Scott (then a partner in Guthrie & Co.) as Acting Secretary, appeared, 
giving the names of the Committee as Messrs. Gr. Cramer (Rautenberg, 
Schmidt & Co.), M. F. Davidson (A. L. Johnston & Co.), S. Gilfiilan 
(Borneo Co. Ltd.), C. H. Harrison (Middleton, Harrison & Co.), 
Tan Kim Ching, C. P. Lalla, Thos. Scott (Guthrie & Co.), and C. 
H. H. Wilsone (Hamilton, Gray & Co.) 

Mr. Cameron in his book written in 1864 says: — "One plan was 
to build a series of wharves at the nearest point of New Harbour, 
where ships can lie alongside, and connect these with town by a 
tramway or railway. Another was to construct a pile-pier running 
right out from the busiest part of the town into deep water, to 
enable ships of all sizes to come alongside and load and discharge 


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704 Anpcdotnl History of Singapore 

into tracks, whicli could afterwards be conveyed on tramways to 
the various godowns. The latter plan is one upon which Colonel 
Collyer, for some years Chief Engineer, spent a good deal of time 
and reduced into shape. Either plan appears to me feasible, and 
likely to prove profitable to the capitalists who would undertake it, 
and valuable to the town. The first has not many engineering- 
obstacles, and the works connected with it could be made permanent, 
but the cost would be very great. The second plan, on tho other 
hand, requires very limited outlay and though a considerable sum 
would have to be spent on renewing piles, yet similar undertakings 
in other parts of the world have, I believe, generally proved more 
successful than costly permanent erections. The water of Singapore 
harbour is never so seriously disturbed as to interfere with even the 
largest vessels lying safely alongside such a pier, and from the 
soundings obtained upon the site proposed, the bottom was found 
to consist of soft mud, so that ships might without danger ground 
at low water, should a pressure of business compel them to do so." 

It was in 1865 that the works for the Naval Coal Depot at 
Pulo Brani were completed on behalf of the Admiralty. They con- 
sisted of two coal sheds, to hold 8,000 tons of coal, a small house 
for the Superintendent, and a quay wall and short wooden pier 
having 27 feet of water alongside at low tide. The site wa^ 
ill-chosen, as the tides were dangerous, and in 1868 the famous 
transport Himalaya was in great danger owing to one of the mooring 
hawsers giving way and swinging roun<l on the shore in the little bay ; 
it was said that her having steam up at the time was all that saved her. 

The beginning of the present extensive works at Tanjong Pagar 
on the opposite side of Keppel Harbour was very unfortunate, but 
it led on to very great results. An earth and rock embankment, 
was being run out from the shore, and one afternoon about 3 p.m. 
a message came round the Square that there was a sight to be 
seen at Tanjong Pagar. All went down in gharries. The monsoon 
was just set in, and waves came rolling into the entrance from the 
old harbour. As each successive wave came, several yards (»f the 
embankment were swept away, and piece after piece went, until all 
the work that had been done disappeared, and nothing whatever 
remained to show for all the money that had been spent. 

In September, 1865, some excitement was caused by the report 
that in blasting a hill at Tanjong Pagar for the Company gold had 
been discovered, but it proved not to be gold at all. 

On 28th July, 1865, the following letter was sent to (rovernor 
Cavenagh : — " 1st. — We have the honor to apply for the right to construct 
and erect an Iron Screw Pile Pier from the vicinity of Princes Street ex- 
tending into the Harbour in a southerly direction for a distance of about 
2 200 yards, with a view to afford wharfage to vessels loading and dis- 
charging their cargoes at the port of Singapore. 

2nd. — ^We have the honor further to apply for the right to build a 
seawall from the vicinity of Princes Street to that of Tanjong Mallang and 
to fill up the seashore so reclaimed, with the view of constructing ware- 
houses and other buildings necessary to the aforesaid pier, and to render 
the same otherwise available for general building purposes. 


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1863 705 

3rd. — We purpose to provide the funds for the above undertakings by 
means of a Joint Stock Company, with a capital of £200,000 now being 
formed for this purpose, and to which the rights granted under this 
application are intended to be conveyed. 

W. H. Read, 
E. J. Leveson, 
H. M. Simons.'* 

This did not come to anything, but it will be noticed that the 
reclamation of Teluk Ayer Bay was then part of the scheme. 

On 14th September the Bank of Hindustan, China and Japan, 
of London, established an Agency in Singapore, in charge of Messrs. 
Paterson, Simons & Co., which continued for many years. 

The verandah question, which has reached such an acute Bta§;e 
at various times, commenced in October, when the Free Press said 
"The Municipal Commissioners have postponed carrying into effect 
their order that all the verandahs in town should be completely 
cleared from all obstructions, until the 1st January next. In coming 
to this resolution they have shown their wisdom; and we trust that 
during the interval they will consider whether it will not be prudent 
to modify somewhat the terms of their order, and confine themselves 
to enforcing what we believe the Court of Judicature has declared 
to be the right of the public in the verandahs, namely, a right of 
way or free passage along them. The Court has not . said that the 
public has an exclusive right to the verandahs— or that the occupants 
of the houses, of which the verandahs form a portion, may not make 
such use of them as they find convenient, as long as they do not 
thereby prevent pedestrians from passing along them. That such 
use has been made of them for more than twenty years past, we 
can testify from personal experience, and we do not therefore very 
well see how the Commissioners can legally insist on their being 
entirely cleared. 

" If it is considered desirable that the verandahs should be wholly 
set apart for the use of the public the aid of the legislature must 
be invoked. But the legislature in depriving the owners of town 
houses of part of their property will take care that they receive 
proper compensation for it. To do otherwise would be to commit 
an act of downright spoliation, to which we do not think any British 
legislature, however absolute its constitution, would lend itself/^ 

In February, 1864, the Commissioners contented themselves with 
establishing the right of the public to a free passage along the 
verandahs; the rough and ready rule being that sufficient room should 
be left for two persons to walk abreast. This was in general readily 
complied with in places where people wanted to walk in the verandahs, 
and the owners of small shops had still the use of part of the space 
to show their goods, which was undoubtedly an advantage to the trade 
of the place, when the natives, and especially the Bugis traders, went 
walking in single file about the town, on the look out for bargains. 

In the month of October a collision took place in the early morning 
in the Straits of Malacca between the steamer John Bright, on her way 


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706 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

from Singapore to Bombaj, and the French barque Salazes, bound from 
Singapore to Penang. The barque sank in a few minutes but no lives 
were lost. It led to a lot of litigation. 

The Chinese, in October, gave a great deal of trouble to the police 
by their clan and faction fights and several murders occurred in the courBe 
of the disturbances. One of the most effectual means of repressing these 
broils was found to consist in calling on the more respectable Chinese 
traders to act as special constables. A large number of females arrived 
from China during the latter part of the year, several of them, it was 
stated, being imported by some of the Secret Societies as a means of 
increasing their influence. The attention of the Government and the 
Police was called to the abuses likely to arise from permitting this, and 
they were urged to take some steps to ameliorate the condition of these 
immigrants, which was represented as being a species of slavery of the 
worst description. 

On 1 8th November the startling news was received that the Con- 
federate cruiser Alabama had come out to this end of the world, and had 
burned two American ships near Snnda Straits. The paper said it was to 
be hoped that she might fall in with some of the Northern men-of-war, so 
that her career of semi-pirate, by attacking and burning defenceless 
merchant ships, might be put an end to. The vessel arrived at 
Singapore on the night of Monday, 21st December, and the next day 
she went into New Harbour to coal, and great numbers of 
natives went down to see her. She left on the morning of Thursday 
the 24th, and proceeded up the Straits of Malacca. About 2 p. m. of the 
same day she fell in with the British barque Martaban, Captain Pike, from 
Moulmein to Singapore, laden with rice. The Martaban was formerly an 
American vessel called the Texan Star, belonging to the port of Boston, 
but she was sold at Moulmein to a British merchant and obtained a Certi- 
ficate of British Registry. When she met the Alabama she was about ten 
miles away from Mount Formosa. The Alabama fired a gun across her 
bows and sent a boat on board, the officer in charge of which demanded 
the ship's papers. The master of the Martaban produced his Register, 
Port Clearance and other papers, and was then requested to go with them 
to the Alabama. He refused to do this, on which the Confederate officer 
said he would take charge of the vessel until he could communicate with 
Captain Semmes. Two armed men were then called on board and the 
boat was sent back to the Alabama, It soon returned bringing Captain 
Semmes, who at once proceeded to the cabin where he sat down and called 
for the ship's papers. The Master handed the Certificate of British 
Registry to him which he perused, reading out aloud the name of the 
owner and the date of the Certificate, 10th December. Captain Semmes 
said that he was not to be humbugged by any sham papers and that 
Captain Pike ought to have had a Certificate that the transfer was legal, 
and mentioned some other documents that ought to have been produced. 
He then turned to Captain Pike and said " I shall bum your ship." Cap- 
tain Pike protested against this, and said that his papers were legal, bat 
Captain Semmes called his officer and said " You will burn this ship, Sir" 
and immediately returned to' the Alabama. The first Lieutenant of the 
Alabama then came on board and took charge of the Martaban. In 
"^e meantime the officer who first boarded the barque ordered the 


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1863 707 

lascar crew to hoist oat one of the ship's boats and proceed in her to 
the Alabama, which they did. Captain Pike and his officers were told 
that they might take some clothes with them. Captain Pike was 
allowed to take two small trunks and the others one bag each, and they 
were assured that the property they took with them would be respected. 
Captain Pike placed in his trunks a bao^ containing Rs. 400 and some 
papers. The first lieutenant of the Alabama ordered the Martaban's 
anchor to be let go and the sails clewed up, and he directed some of 
his men to haul down the British flag which had been flying at the peak. 
The skylights were broken and tow steeped in tar was placed in the 
cabin and in the fore part of the 'tween decks. The officers of the 
Mariaban were then ordered to proceed to the Alabama in their own 
boat, which had returned. Shortly after they reached the Alabama 
they saw the Alabama's boat returning and flames burst out from the 
Martaban at both ends. The Alabama's boat brought from the Maria- 
ban four bolts of cotton canvas and some twine, two chronometers, 
all the nautical instruments of the Master and Officers, a deep sea 
line and lead, two hams and all the poultry, an unfortunate cat 
being the only living thing left on board the Martaban, At 5 p.m. 
the Alabama proceeded up the Straits under steam and about mid- 
night came to anchor about five or six miles off Malacca. At daybreak 
of the 25th Capt. Pike was called on deck and ordered to produce 
the keys of his trunks which were opened and the contents turned 
out. The rupees, a small toy pistol, a marine binocular and some 
papers were taken possession of. The bags of the officers were searched. 
Captain Pike and his officers were required to sign a paper stating 
that they would not serve against the Confederate States until 
regularly exchanged. The officers and crew of the Martaban were then 
embarked in one of the Alabama's boats under charge of two officers 
and proceeded towards the shore. One of the Confederate Officers 
landed to communicate with the authorities, and in about an hour he 
returned, when the persons belonging to the Martaban were put on 
shore. It was understood that Captain Semmes sent a letter to the 
authorities at Malacca stating that he was sorry to burn a vessel 
under the English flag, but he had his reasons for it ! Captain Pike 
and his crew received every attention at Malacca and arrived in 
Singapore on the morning of the 29th. The paper said that Captain 
Semmes had committed a bold act in capturing and destrojring a 
vessel sailing under a British roi^ister, and that his conduct savoured 
very much of downright piracy. 

On the morning of the 26th December the Alabama captured two 
more American vessels in the Straits. These were the Senora, Captain 
Brown, and the Highlander, Captain Snow, both in ballast and bound 
from Singapore to Akyab. Both ships were destroyed within a mile 
and a half of each other off Pulo Loumat. The people who had been 
taken from the two ships were offered the choice of taking a cruise in 
the Alabama and being landed at the first port touched, or going adrift 
in their boats. They chose the latter alternative, and the Alabama was 
quickly steaming ahead leaving all the boats to get to land as they best 
could. During a squall which blew shortly after, one of the boats 
with eleven Africans, a portion of the Senora's crew, parted company 


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708 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

from the rest and was not heard of again. The remainder got on 
board a small native craft, but afterwards were taken on board the 
French ship Pujet going from Singapore to Madras, which put them on 
board a vessel for Penang. The Alabama then cleared right away to 
avoid two American ships, the Wyomitig and Vanderhiltj who were 
after her, and, five months afterwards, she was sunk by the Kearsea^e 
ofE Cherbourg harbour in France, on a fiue Sunday morning in May, 
while the good folks were going to Church. 

At this time there was a little shed, about twelve feet square, in 
the centre of the south side of the middle road crossing the Square, 
in which was a telegraph line to the New Harbour Dock Company 
and the P. & 0. wharf. It was the first telegraph line in Singapore, 
and was on a very small scale. 

In November Mr. George Mansfield died in London. He had 
carried on business in Flint Street as a shipchandler as George 
Mansfield & Co., since 1861, and the business was continued under 
the same name by his manager, Mr. R. J. Wright, as a partner with 
Mr. William Mansfield. 


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1864 709 


AS a great many reports were made of persons in the jungle in one 
locality haying been killed by tigers, some pits were dug, and a 
party of police went out in January to a place where a cub had fallen 
into one of the pits. While they were standing in a circle round the 
pit, the tigress suddenly sprung out upon them, and one peon was shot, 
and died the same day, and the Deputy Commissioner had a bullet 
through his coat. The police then went away, and the cub being still 
in the pit, Neil Martin Cranio, who has been spoken of on page 221, 
went out. He sat down alone near one side of the pit, with his riflo 
handy over his knees, and threw some earth or stones into the pit. The 
growl of the tigress was heard, and she appeared in the jungle, on the 
opposite side of the pit, and sprung towards him over it. He fired while 
she was in the air, and she fell almost close to him. It was said at the 
time that it was no part of the duty of the police to kill tigers, which they 
did not understand, and that it would be better if they attended to their 
own business more, and if they were not sent out and allowed to shoot each 
other. A few days afterwards two men were killed three miles from town, 
and a tiger was seen at the second mile on the bridge at Bukit Timah 

The Siamese Government at this time was renewing its attempts to 
acquire rule over Perak, and it was said that the Rajah of Tongka, a 
Siamese feudatory, proposed to the Resident Councillor at Penang that 
the British Government should allow Siam to take possession of Perak, 
on the understanding that one-third of the revenue should be applied to 
pensioning the Perak Chiefs; one-third paid to the British Government; 
and the remaining third be retained by the Siamese. This was, of 
course, rejected, and the person who made it was warned that any 
attempt to disturb Perak would be resented by the English Govern- 
ment. Jt was looked upon as another attempt to assume rights over 
the whole of the Peninsula; and this was borne out by the way the 
ex-Sultan of Lingga had been twice allowed to leave Bangkok to stir 
up trouble in Pahang, notwithstanding the disclaimer of Siam that 
they were unable to prevent it. 

A native was sentenced to six months imprisonment in Penanof for 
having deceived by borrowing $200 on a piece of land, for which he 
had paid $23, and inserting $220 in the conveyance, in order to bor- 
row a larger sum of money. It is mentioned because the practice is 
not unknown, and is a warning to those who lend money to natives on 
mortgage. Sir Benson Maxwell, in passing sentence^ spoke strongly 
upon the conduct of the borrower. 


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710 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

Captain Nelson of the Madras Presidency, induced by the unceasing 
accounts appearing in the newspapers of the dreadful destruction of 
human beings in Singapore occasioned by tigers, wrote to the 
Grov^ernment to suggest that an attempt might be made to poison 
the brutes by means of strychnine. He mentioned a case in which 
he succeeded in destroying a tiger, together with a great many 
vultures, jackals, dogs, &c., by putting strychnine on the carcase of 
a buffalo which the tiger had killed and only partly consumed, and 
to which he returned to complete his meal. The method recommen- 
ded by Captain Nelson was to be tried here by Mr. Dunman, although 
he had doubts on the point, as repeated attempts had been made 
in Singapore to poison tigers, without any good result. Dogs had 
been tied up in the jungle in places resorted to by tigers, their 
necks having been previously shaved and rubbed with strychnine, 
means being taken to prevent their licking off the poison. Calves 
had also been tethered in the jungle with their necks prepared in 
the same manner, but none of the experiments succeeded, although 
from the marks of tigers' feet all round the bait in several instances, 
it was apparent that their notice had been attracted to it. In one 
or two cases strychnine had also been placed on the bodies of 
persons killed by tigers, but the tigers did not again touch them ; 
and it had been generally observed in Singapore that the tigers 
did not return to eat bodies, whether of men or beasts, which they 
had only partly consumed. 

On the Queen's birthday, 24th May, the gas was lighted in 
the town for the first time. The Gas Company had made a 
push to have the mains laid in the principal streets to allow of 
this being done. When the lamps were lighted, natives were seen 
going up to the lamp-posts, and touching them very ginirerly at 
first with the tips of their fingers; they could not understand 
how a fire could come out at the top, without the post gettin*? 
hot, which was by no means unreasonable, as they could not know 
what gas was. 

The Singapore Gas Company, Limited, a London Company, did 
very good work for the town for thirty-eight years, and sold the 
business to the Municipality in 1901. Soon after the gas was 
introduced, petroleum oil came to the place, about 1868, and the 
first lamp came up from Batavia to Mr. W. H. Bead. It was 
a chandelier in his drawing room, with six lamps, and astonished 
the natives not a little. Mr Read had to get the oil specially from 
Batavia, but its use became general before long, and no doubt 
seriously affected the Gas Company. 

Mr. Whampoa had gas laid on all the way to his house at the 2^ 
miles on Serangoon Road, in June 1866; and it was proposed to light 
Tan Tock Seng's Hospital opposite with gas, as it was said by 
some of the Committee that paraffin oil lamps would set fire to the 
attap and plank wards, which others doubted. It was not done, and 
oil has been used to the present time, some thirty years, without any 
accident, and at a very considerable saving of expense. The native 
shops and dwelling houses in town used gas pretty freely at first, 
but it was replaced by oil in most instances in course of time. 


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1864 711 

In June the Parsee firm of Byramjee Hormusjee Gama & Co. 
opened a school in Tanjong Pagar Road in tho bungalow that had been 
formerly occupied by Mr. Cama. He established the school which 
was carried on for many years, and was kept up at his expense, as 
a free school for Chinese and others. At the end of the month there 
were 103 pupils, mostly Chinese. 

Mr. James Guthrie some years before had established at his own 
expense a school for Malay boys at Tanjong Pagar, the average 
attendance in 1864 being about forty pupils, the instruction being in Malay 
only. At the Cama School the boys were taught English. 

There were some very large mercantile failures this year, two among 
the European firms, one of the oldest in the place having suspended pay- 
ment with liabilities of over a million of dollars. Trade in Singapore had 
never had such a shock and there was almost a stagnation in the market 
as far as selling manufactured goods was concerned. Very heavy failures 
among the Chinese firms occurred in June, and in that month there was a 
foolish panic among the natives about the security of the bank notes, and 
there was a run upon the banks for silver in place of them. At the 
Chartered Bank they had a lot of dollars, so they insisted on paying cheques 
in silver only, and those who cashed the cheques found they had to 
take away a heavy load of dollars, instead of the convenient, and easily 
locked up bank notes, and the )ush to cash the notes gradually ceased. 

There were four Banks in the Square at this time. The Oriental 
Bank in what were called Spottiswoode's Buildings in the centre of the 
East side, where Wm. Spottiswoode & Co/s offices formerly were, of 
which Mr. John S. Scrymgeour was Manager. 

The second was the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London, and 
China in what was called Almeida's Buildings, at the centre of the south 
end of the Square, where Dr. Jose d' Almeida's offices at one time stood, 
and where the Mercantile Bank of India now stands; it was always 
spoken of as the Mercantile Bank, and Mr. James Davidson was Manager 
at this time ; he left the Bank in consequence of its being heavily involved 
in the failure of the European firms just spoken of, and became a broker, 
the beginning of them in Singapore. The brokerage for a short time, 
till competition speedily set up, was one quarter per cent, each way ! The 
mercantile community gave a large ball in the Town Hall to Mr. and 
Mrs. Davidson, who had been very generous hosts in the days when the 
guests used to sit down at a large dinner party at their house at 7 o'clock, 
the hour in those days, and did not rise until nearly midnight. It was 
the first ball, it is thought, in the Town Hall. 

The third Bank was the Chartered Bank of India, Australia, and 
China at the north corner of the Square and Prince Street, of which 
Robert Du£F was the first Manager, and Charles Smith Sherwood was 
Manager in this year, and Mr. James Greig was Accountant. This was 
always known as the Chartered Bank, to distinguish it from the Mercan- 
tile. These three Banks all carried on business for many years. 

The fourth Bank did not remain long. It was the Asiatic Banking 
Corporation, with its office at the opposite end of the Square to the 
Mercantile Bank. Mr. John Steel of the Mercantile Bank was the first 
Manager^ and John Jamieson Winton was Accountant, and afterwards 


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712 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

In consequence of the great loss by the failures of the Chinese firms^ 
it was decided at a Greneral Meeting of the Chamber of Commerce on 
13th June^ that from the Ist July the term of credit allowed to buyers of 
Imports should be reduced from three months to two^ and those firms 
which were not members of the Chamber should be invited to carry out 
the resolution. It was generally agreed to, and it was hoped it would 
have a wholesome effect, but as happened before and since, some of those 
whom it suited to secure business by breaking their promise, unknown to 
their neighbours, soon broke up the rule which was really made for the 
advantage of all, if all had honestly abided by it. It was suggested that 
cash sales only should be made, but the proposal was not actually brought 
forward in the Chamber. 

In the early days the Europeans had capital to use to find outlets for 
goods, and the Chinese dealer, who not seldom had a short time before 
been a cooly or salesman in a shop, or perhaps a " boy'' or servant to his 
master in a European firm, had acquired special knowledge of the wants 
of some neighbouring markets, and perhaps had special opportunities of 
access to them. If this was carried on honestly, credit could be ^riv^en with 
comparative safety. But times had changed, the few dealers had 
grown into many, and a composition of thirty per cent, was found 
by some of them to be a profitable way of winding up a business ; 
to begin again when the trouble had blown over. At times there was an 
epidemic of failures in the bazaar, which spread like typhus fever. 
The competition for business in the European, and especially in the 
German firms, led to more and more extended credit, and holding 
over of promissory notes after they were due, and then came the collapse, 
and the acceptance of a percentage of as much as could be squeezed 
out of the defaulter, rather than pottering over wretched insolvent 
estates for several, or many years, with an even worse result. 

On the 24th November, iu the evening, the French Mail Steamer 
Hydaspe left Singapore for Batavia. She was the commencement of 
the line of the Messageries Imperiales between Singapore and Batavia 
in connection with the mail steamer from Europe. She was in charge 
of a Dutch Pilot, and next morning there was some excitement in 
the Square at the news that the steamer had run hard and fast on 
the well-known Pan Shoal at the entrance of the Straits of Khio, 
only 22 miles from Singapore. A large rock went right through her 
bottom, and several steamers tried to tow her off, but it was an 
impossibility, and she remained there afterwards as a warning to 
fools. She was sold by auction on 30th November, six days after- 
wards. A Samarang paper said that the pilot on board the Hydaspe 
was an Englishman, and that he had been bribed by a Singapore 
firm to put the steamer on shore. The Batavia newspaper however 
said that the pilot was a Dutchman, and that the latter statement 
was ridiculous. 

On the 28th December, to provide funds for laying out the Gardens, 
a horticultural fete and fancy fair was held in the Mess House of 
the Tanglin Barracks, which was still unoccupied. It was held in 
the forenoon, and was made a good deal of. 

This year ended up badly, with the first fire that was known 
to have occurred in the European quarter of the town, but by no 


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1864 713 

means the last^ and at a place close to which serious fires occurred 
several times afterwards. At midnight or shortly after, on Saturday 
morning, the 31st December, McAlister & Co/s shipchandlery store 
at the corner of Battery Road and Flint Street, where the Chartered 
Bank stands now, was burned out, nothing but the walls of the two 
large buildings being left standing. How the fire was occasioned 
there was nothing to show. The adjoining building was occupied 
by Charles Wilson & Co. as a sail loft, who had lately begun the 
business. The fire communicated with the loft by the beams in the 
roofs. Their shipchandlery store on the other side of Battery Road 
was not on fire, but the sail loft was burned out. The next godown 
was that of Mr. Richard Brennand, who had been a clerk in 
Smith Bell & Co., and commenced business in his own name in 
1863, while the next building was the shipchandlery store of George 
Mansfield & Co. There was one continuous roof over the whole of 
these premises, and the fire quickly spread along them, before there was 
time to check or control it. People came hurrying in from Tanglin, 
for there was no fire brigade at this time, and every energetic person 
gave all the help he could under the direction of Mr. Thomas Dunman 
of the Police and Major MacNair the Engineer. The doors were forced 
open^ some boat crews landed from the ships in the harbour, and a 
number of Artillerymen came down from Fort Canning, but the merchant 
sailors and the soldiers could not resist the sight of so much liquor within 
reach, and were committing so much wanton destruction, that they did 
more harm than good, and the officers were asked to remove them. The 
Police had two hand fire engines; Guthrie & Co. had another; the 
convicts brought theirs from the Old Jail, and the marines and sailors from 
H. M. S. Perseus brought a small engine ; but with rope, tar, oil, and all 
the combustible materials in ?hipchandlers stores, they did not do much. 
McAlister & Co.^s loss was about $45,000, the loss of the others was not so 
serious. A good deal of their goods were removed, but they were so 
much damaged by water that they had to be sold, and it was more than 
doubtful whether it was an advantage to carry them out, as they blocked 
up Battery Road, and sold for very little after all. 

1*he annual Government Report for this year said that the convicts 
were employed in filling up the swamp at North Campong Malacca. That 
the old Court House [now the store room behind the Printing Office] 
had been fitted up and converted into the Post Office. That a Government 
Bungalow had been built at Changhi, and that the Dutch Telegraph 
Office [on the river- side near where the back of the Public Offices are 
now] had been purchased from the Netherlands Indian Government, and 
was used for the offices of the Master Attendant and Shipping Office. 
The spire of Andrew^s Church had been completed, and four handsome 
iron gates had been purchased for the entrances to the compound. 

On 4th July, the foundation stone of the new Court House was 
laid. Owing to the site selected having been part of the old river 
bed, the foundations gave a great deal of trouble. It was used for a 
few years as a Court, while the old portion of the present Court 
House was used for the Public Offices. An exchange was then made, 
and the large Court room was turned into the present Council 
Chamber^ and afterwards the building was largely extended both back 


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714 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

and front, at various times, to its present dimensions. Alexandra 
Road, connecting Passir Panjang and River Valley Roads was made 
ill this year. In addition to being a useful line of communication, 
the side ditches improved the drainage of the neighbouring country. 
One half of the cost was contributed by Mr. Loze, who had been 
book-keeper in Hamilton Gray & Co., and other land-owners; and 
Tampenis Road, formerly a mere bridle path was made into a cart 
track; and the A. B. 0. or Ordnance Bridge, to connect North and 
South Campong Malacca, as well as Fort Canning with the Arsenal at 
Pearl's Hill, was completed. 

In May there died an old inhabitant of Singapore, Syed Abdul- 
rahman bin Mahomed bil Fagi, better known as Tunku Tingga, about 
90 years of age. He was a younger son of Syed Hussain, a wealthy 
Arab merchant of Penang, whose eldest son Syful Alum Shah, through his 
father's influence, became king of Acheen in 1815, the reigning sovereign 
being deposed by his subjects. Syful Alum Shah did not, however, 
long enjoy the kingly state, as the legitimate sovereign was restored 
to authority in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, under the auspices of 
the British Government, Sjful Alum Shah being allowed to retire to 
Penang, on a pension. Syed Hussain left considerable property, part of 
which, by his will, he devoted to charitable purposes. According to 
Mahotnedan usages this ought to have been expended in alms, prayers, &c., 
but the then Recorder of the Straits, Sir W. Norris, directed that 
the money should be invested and the interest applied in annual 
grants to the Penang Free School and the Singapore Institution. 
This and other famil}' matters so mortified Tunku Tingga, who was 
one of the executors of his father's will, that he left Penang and settled 
in Singapore about 1840, never afterwards revisiting Penang. To 
the last he always expressed a keen sense of the injustice which he 
conceived had been perpetrated by the decision of the Court. Tunku 
Tingga was a person of mild and pleasing address and was much re- 
spected by his countrymen and co-religionists. The Raffles Institution 
draws a share of the income to this day. 

In this year Mr. John Cameron published his book "Our Trop- 
ical Possessions in Malayan India," being a descriptive account of 
Singapore, Penang, Province Wellesley, and Malacca ; their peoples, 
products, commerce, and Government. " The book is very readable, 
and the descriptions are very good and not highly coloured, as is too 
often the case with works of the kind. It was very useful in connec- 
tion with the agitation for the Transfer, as it drew attention to 
the prosperity and value of the Straits Settlements, which were then 
little known or appreciated in England. The book was of most interest to 
those who wished to know something of Singapore, or intended to come 
here, and Mr. Cameron had the thanks of the community for his trouble. 
It had seven coloured lithographic illustrations. 

It does not contain many details of the History of Singapore, but is 
full of matter which will always be interesting to those who reside in the 
place. There is one mistake about the History of ^Singapore which it may 
be well to notice here, as it was pointed out at the time, and would no 
doubt have been corrected if a subsequent edition had been issued. On 
page 206^ it says that, after being a dependency of Bencoolen for four years^ 


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1864 715 

it was placed under the Bengal Government, and in 1825 Singapore and 
Malacca were united to Penang, and the incorporated settlements con- 
tinued the fourth Presidency of India until 1829 when it was again placed 
under the Bengal Government in which condition of dependency it re- 
mained to the time the book was written in 1864, The fact was that 
the Straits were not a dependency of Bengal, but were exactly in the 
same position as the Governments of Bombay, Madras, and Bengal, though 
it was not styled the fourth Presidency of India. There was no connection 
after 1851, when the Governor -General of India in Council relieved 
Bengal of her " dependency" and made the Straits quite as much a 
Presidency as they had been from 1825 to 1829. They had no connection 
with the Bengal Government, the Governor corresponded direct with the 
Supreme Government of India just as the Governors of the other Presi- 
dencies did, and it continued so until the Transfer in 1867. 

At the end of the book is a useful table of the fruits of Singapore, 
with their use, characteristics, and botanical names. Attention was called 
to the title of the book, as Malayan India, which some considered a 
misnomer, as the Malay Peninsula is not India; it arose it was suggested, 
from the Straits being associated in its Government with India. 

John Cameron was a well-known and popular resident in Singa- 
pore for thirty years. He was a master mariner, commanding ships 
trading in Australia. He was so unfortunate as to lose two vessels, 
and after the second, some friends in Singapore in 1861 helped him 
to become editor of the Straits Times, which they bought ; and soon 
afterwards Captain Edward Maher Smith and he became joint pro- 
prietors of it. They also carried on business together as John Cameron 
Co., in the Australian trade. He continued to edit the newspaper 
until 1867, when Alexander Duff joined him. Mr. Cameron died at 
Monk's Hill on Bukit Timah Road on 29th December, 1881, at 
the age of 46 years. Captain E M. 2Smith also commanded sailing 
vessels, trading out of Singapore, from 1850, and he was for a year, 
in 1856, in the ship-chandlers' store of Campbell & Co. For several 
years up to 1861 he commanded the Louisa, and in that year he settled 
on shore and was official assignee, and a ship surveyor, until 1866, when he 
became the first manager of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, and the 
great success of the undertaking was largely due to him in its 
young days. As a partner in John Cameron & Co., he had become 
responsible for a serious loss occasioned by the sinking in the harbour 
of a gunpowder-hulk which was owned by them, for which they were 
held liable in an action brought by the owners of the powder. 
This had caused the loss of all his savings, and he joined the 
Dock Company. He left the dock in 1881, and was succeeded by 
John Blair. Captain Smith retired to England, but came out again 
to Singapore after a few years to look after some investments that 
had been made by his agent, and he died in St. Thomas Walk 
on 29th July, 1886, at the age of 64 years. 

The first Malacca steamers began to run in this year. They wera 
two small steamers, 54 and 56 tons respectively, built in Singapore, 
called the Enterprize and Fair Malacca, and were very remunerative. 
They were always filled with passengers, and soon superseded the 
schooner trade between the two ports. 


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716 Anecdotal History of Singapore 



AT this time the hotel at the corner of the Esplanade and High Street, 
opposite the Court House, was called the Hotel de I'Esperance, and 
was kept by a Frenchwoman. At the beginning of the year Mr. Casteleyns, 
a Frenchman who had kept a hotel on Beach Road called the Hotel 
de TBurope, removed from there to the site of the former, and took the old 
name with him, and it has been known to this day as the Hotel de l^Europe. 
The hotel then had the two houses, to which the "barracks^' were after- 
wards added, and the Freemasons' Hall occupied the third house at the 
corner of Coleman Street. 

The bridge across the river at Hill Street, called Coleman's Bridge, 
was finished in February. It was of wood, not well constructed. It cost 
about $10,000, and was built by Government, who had a difficulty in 
getting the Municipality to take it over — they said it would not last, 
and they turned out right. An iron bridge, it was said, would have cost 
§25,000, and lasted many times as long. 

On 24th February a proclamation was made by beat of gong that the 
Sarawak cents, which had been coming into circulation in Singapore to 
the great financial advantage of the Sarawak Treasury, and to the corres- 
ponding disadvantage of the Straits finances, would not be received in 
payment by the Treasury or the Municipality. The coolies called them 
man doits in contradiction to v:oman doits, as the former had the head of 
Sir James Brooke, and the latter the head of Queen Victoria. Some 
Chinese traders in Sarawak made a regular practice of shipping cents 
from there to make payments in Singapore, obtaining them at a large 
discount in Sarawak, where dollars were in request. It was a long time 
before the mischief was put an end to, but it was largely due to the apathy 
of the Singapore Government in not obtaining a sufficient supply of 
subsidiary coin, a mistake which continues to the present day. The profit 
on it might be made a constant source of revenue if the Government 
made it as easily to be obtained as postage stamps, in various parts of 
the town. 

On the 15th March a meeting was held in the Exchange Room 
to consult as to the establishment of a local Marine Insurance Com- 
pany in Singapore — Mr. James Davidson in the chair. It. was 
proposed and carried " that a Marine Insurance Company should be 
formed in the place, and that it should be called the Singapore 
Insurance Company, Limited.'^ It was proposed also that the capital 
should be $1,000,000 in a thousand shares of $1,000 each. An 
amendment was made, that the arrangement should be 2,000 shares 
of $500 each^ but the former proposal was carried, A proTisional 


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1865 717 

committee was composed of the following gentlemen : — Messrs. G. Cramer, 
J. Davidson, C. H. Harrison, S. Gilfillan, C. H. H. Wilsone and Seah Teck 
See. The proposal was dropped as it was found that the Indian 
Act relating to Limited Companies expressly excluded Banks and 
Insurance Companies from its provisions. 

It was in April this year that the first burials took place in 
the new cemetery in Bukit Timah Road. The cemetery on old 
Government Hill, mentioned on page 96, ceased to be used, and the 
Commissioners, in 1863 and 1864, had acquired the new site. 

The tombstones in the old cemetery on the hill-side seem now 
like a memorial of the fading-out of memory in Singapore of many 
of the oldest inhabitants, rather than a monument of those who were 
laid there. The tombs which are still standing are fast falling into 
pieces and the inscriptions becoming illegible. From time to time, 
by private persons and the help of tbe Public Works Department, 
the inscriptions have been cleaned or repainted, and the fallen brick 
work or granite stones replaced in position. When Sir Frederick 
Dickson was Colonial Secretary he had this done, about 1886. It 
seems a pity these old inscriptions should be lost, and the Govern- 
ment might, perhaps, employ a clerk for a month or two, to copy 
such as are still legible, and then have then written alphabetically 
in a book to be kept in the Library, the more so as the registers 
of burials in that cemetery are not to be found. There may be 
copies in Calcutta, but it seems very doubtful. The great dearth in 
general of all the documents before the Transfer in 1867, is very 

On the right-hand side close to the entrance through the big 
archway is a very large, decaying tomb, which should always be 
kept in order. It has inscriptions on four sides. On the front it 
says that it is erected by Captain the Hon. Arthur A. Cochrane, 
C.B., and some of the officers and crew of H. M. Ship Niger, in 
memory of their fallen comrades. The other three sides explain it. 
On one side the inscription is headed " Drowned,'' with four names, 
ages, and ratings. Another side has " Died of Disease " with four- 
teen names, eight having died in Singapore. The remaining side is 
" Killed in Action,'' and four names ; two names of those killed in 
Commodore Keppel's famous action at Fatshan Creek, on " The Glorious 
First of June," 1857 ; and two at Canton on January 5th, 1858. The 
inscriptions can only be read with much difficulty, but a little paint 
and a little care will easily renew them, as they are cut into granite 

On one occasion the compiler of this book, going to try to 
ascertain the date of the death of an old Singaporean, found the 
native care-taker using an old tombstone with an inscription on it, 
as a curry grinding stone. The wall up the centre divides the Pro- 
testant from the Roman Catholic portion, about which there was 
much correspondence between Padre Beurel and Governor Butterworth. 
For some years no difference had been made, as was said to have 
been the practice in India. When the new cemetery in Bukit Timah 
Road was laid out, the two divisions were again separated by the 
broad centre path leading from the present turnstile, which, within 


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718 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

the last few years, has taken the place of the large central arch- 
way, through which the coffins always used to be carried. 

The area parchased for the new cemetery was acres 23-1-0, and on 
17th February, 1875, the Municipality bought from the Administrator 
of Mr. Loze^s estate, as he had then died, a further area of acres 

According to the printed records of the Municipal documents, 
the cemetery had been purchased from the East India Company on 
22nd January, 1864, by Indenture No. 72, of the District of Clay- 
more, for one Rupee, for ever. But this does not represent the 
truth, and Government and Municipal Records should not contain sug- 
gestions of what is incorrect. 

The following passage in the Free Press of 8th June, 1865, 
remarking upon the Municipal Expenditure for the preceding year, 
first drew attention to the matter; it is speaking of the Municipal 
accounts, just published, of the year before : — 

" The second item we have to censure is the outlay of ^10,000 
for the purchase of the piece of land now laid out as the New 
Christian Cemetery. The price to us appears exorbitant; we do not 
believe it would have fetched one fourth the sum at auction. We 
suppose the Commissioners had set their hearts on the land, and the 
proprietor knew it. Surely as much land could easily have been 
obtained in more suitable sites for a mere fraction of the sum.*' 

On making enquiry it is found that on 30th June, 1859, the 
East Indian Company granted the land in question for ever to C. R. 
Prinsep, spoken of in several places in this book, in considerj^tion 
of a payment of fi». 255.12.0. On 30th December, in the same 
year, his Singapore Agents leased it for 9,999 years to Syed Abdulla, 
and on 14th January, 1864, Syed Abdulla and C. R. Prinsep sur- 
rendered it to the East India Company. No consideration is stated 
for that surrender, in the note that is made of it on the back of the 
original lease in the Land Office Records, and the original deeds 
are not to be found, but eight days afterwards on 22nd January, 
the grant already mentioned was given by the Government to the 
Municipal Commissioners, who had before that paid $10,000 for the land. 

Tlie amount mentioned in the Free Press is correct. This is clear 
from the Municipal accounts for the year 1864, on pa<?e 307 of the 
Government Gazette ioT 1865, which shows that a loan of $28,000 was raised 
upon the Rates and Taxes, from which JiflO,000 was paid for " Purchase of 
Land for the Cemetery," and $1,005.94 for " Account of Drainage, &c., of 
the Cemetery." The other side of the account shows that §1,900 was 
received as " Government contribution towards the Cemetery," the reason 
for which is not traced, and ?500 for " Price of a small piece of the 
Cemetery sold to Mr. Loze." The Municipal Minutes also show that in 
October, 1863, there had been an arbitration awarding ?10,000 as the 
value of the land. There is no doubt that there was some reason for the 
suggestion in the IPree Press as to an excessive value having been paid, 
and the persona chosen as arbitrators seem not to have been selected on 
account of their impartiality. The matter was the subject of unfavourable 
remark for m;iny years, as it was certainly a bad site, and a very dear 
bargain indeed at that time. 


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1865 719 

When this Cemetery was first used, it was a very dismal place, with 
no suiBcient drainage and water-logged within a few inches of the surface. 
Mr. R. C. Woods, one of the Commissioners, took the matter in hand, and 
gave much of his spare time for several years to planting trees and laying 
out the ground, for horticulture was his favourite hobby. The community 
have been much indebted to him for making the place as ornamental as it 
could be made on such a site. This Cemetery is now, in its turn, about to 
be closed, as the parts still without graves are so low as to be quite un- 
suitable. It was only by heavy expense for drainage that the place could 
be used at all. When it was consecrated by Bishop Mcl)ougal, of 
Sarawak, the choir walked round the Protestant portion of the ground, 
and in places were stepping through water several inches deep. 

In connection with this matter there is a minute to the Commissioners 
by Mr. MacRitchie, the Municipal Engineer, who, unfortunately for 
Singapore, died here in 1896, which in the light of the present day 
is remarkable and prophetic. It was dated 4th May, 1893, and 
little or no attention seems to have been paid to it then. At that 
time the Chasseriau Estate on Bukit Timah Road was being sold, 
and it was disposed of by a Bank who held a mortgage on it for 
?3U,0()0. Mr. Mc Ritchie sent large plans with his minute, and said 
that 750 acres of the land would be a good site for another cemetery, 
and advised its purchase, on account of the bad and low state of 
the ground on Bukit IHmah Road, which he condemned as unfit for 
use as a cemetery. He also recommended, and it was the principal 
object of the minute, that a large part or the whole of the Estate 
should also be purchased for the water- works reservoir. He said that 
the daily supply was 3,500,000 gallons a day, and that he expected 
it would in time reach 5^ to 6 millions, which would far exceed the 
storage in the then existing reservoir and adjacent extensions. As 
a matter of fact, on one occasion in the present year, 1902, the supply 
on one day reached over 6,000,000 gallons. The result of not following 
the suggestions in the minute which were, no doubt, equally due to 
the late Mr. Howard Newton, the Assistant Engineer, is that the Com- 
missioners have lately made two purchases of a portion only of the 
same Estate for about $58,000, and will have to spend a very large 
sum to purchase another piece of land elsewhere for the cemetery. 

The first funerals in the new cemetery were the result of a 
terrible accident now to be related. On Saturday afternoon, 15th 
April, there occurred the worst accident that had been known in 

The Tumongong of Johore had ordered a steamer from England. 
It was the first he had, and it had been suggested to him by Mr. 
James Meldrum of Johore that he should buy a steamer with a 
twin screw that was for sale by Lairds of Birkenhead. If he had 
done so, Johore would have possessed the first twin screw vessel. 
The agents in England, however, bought an iron screw steamer of 
about 75 tons, built at West Hartlepool, and she was named the 

She arrived at Singapore in March, and was at the New 
Harbour Dock, always called in those days Cloughton's Dock, to be 
overhauled. She had been a very long time on the passage out, and 


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720 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

it was thought afterwards that this was the fault of the engineer, 
and of the crew havinjr been engaged by the month instead of for 
the voyage. She had actually been over as far as the Coast of South 
America on the way. 

Easter Sunday was the 16th April, and in the preceding week 
the Tumongong had asked the Governor, and a number of the officials 
and leading people in the place, to go on a picnic round the 
island in the steamer on Easter Monday, to start from Dalhousie 
Pier at 8 a.m. Johnston's Pier was then a small place, little used ; the 
men-of-war boats used to land at Dalhousie Pier, which was in front 
of the Dalhousie monument. 

On Saturday all the silverware, &c., was taken on board the Johore, 
and arrangements made for the picnic. On the Saturday the engines 
were to be tried, and the steamer taken out into the Roads to lie off 
Dalhousie Pier, ready to start on Monday morning. A steamer was a 
new toy to the Malays, and a number of them were looking forward to 
the run out to the harbour, as a Saturday afternoon's amusement. 

Steam was got up at noon and it was intended that the vessel 
should leave at 2 p.m. At that time Inche Wan Abdulrabman, a 
younger brother of the Tumongong, went on board, and found there 
Mr. Wishart, the Superintendent of the New Harbour Dock Company, 
and Mr. Hugh Bain, the Engineer of the Company, who were seeing 
after some carpenters who were fixing seats for use on the 
Monday. They went on shore, and Inche Abdalrahman asked the 
Captain of the Johore, a Malay named Abdul Talip, why she did not 
start, and he replied that there was something wrong with the engines. 
Abdulrahman looked into the engine-room and saw them pulling at the 
starting lever, but the vessel did not move. At this time Hussein bin Abdullah, 
the eldest son of AbdullahMoonshi, the writer of the Hikayit Abdullah, who 
had come on board for amusement, came upon the bridge to Abdulrahman 
and said there was something wrong with the engines, and that the 
engineer, Mr. Miller, wanted to call Mr. Bain. There was a boat 
passing in which was Captain Cleghorn, the master of the Dock Company's 
tug steamer Henrietta, He was called on board and the boat was 
sent to fetch Mr. Bain, who came at once. Soon afterwards an explosion 
occurred, the effects of which were very remarkable. The boiler blew 
up, and the deck was covered with dead and dying men, the only 
persons who altogether escaped were those standing right in the bows. 
The bridge was entirely blown away ; the funnel was blown on to the 
top of the port paddle-box, the mainmast was blown into pieces over the 
stem of the ship, the after-cabin was entirely destroyed and everything in 
it smashed to pieces, a gun which lay abaft the boiler was blown 
overboard with its carriage, Ac, and all the platedware and tableware, 
which the Tumongong's table boys had been putting ready on the table, 
was blown overboard though the stern ports. The engines were broken 
and twisted, the engine-rooms, the engineer's cabin, and the house over 
the fore-cabin staircase were entirely blown to pieces, the port paddle 
box being smashed by the funnel and casing which had been blown on the 
top of it. The boiler was an extraordinary sight, the outside shell 
was blown open right against the foremast, the after part of the 
deck was blown entirely away, and the remainder of the deck 


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1866 721 

raised 9 or 10 inches above its usual position^ and the vessel^s 
topsides opposite the boiler were blown out from 6 to 10 inches. 

The number of persons killed was about thirty, of whom five 
were Europeans, two Chinese and the rest Malays. The vessel had 
been anchored about one hundred yards from the shore, and as soon 
as the report was heard, boats and sampans hurried off to the vessel. 
Captain Wishart was the first there, he picked up Inche Wan 
Abdulrahman and a Malay in the water. Abdulrahman was one 
of the few who escaped. He was standing on deck, when he heard 
to use his own words, ** a hissing sound for a few seconds, and then a crash 
which threw him down, and he received a blow on his head from something, 
he could not tell what, because (a curious expression) everything became 
extremely dark.'* No doubt he was stunned and thrown overboard, though 
he thought he jumped into the sea. Inchi Jaffer bin Hadjee Mohamed, 
the present Date Muntri, or Prime Minister, of Johore, was also thrown 
into the sea. He received severe wounds on his face and neck which 
covered him with blood; the large scar on his face was caused by this 
accident. He was picked up by another boat. Hussein bin Abdul- 
lah, the eldest son of Abdullah Moonshi, was killed. 

His younger brother Ibrahim, the present Date Bintara Dalam 
of Johore, escaped by an accident. He was schoolmaster then at the 
Telok Blanga Malay School, and had shut up the school, and was going 
to his house to change his coat before going on board. On his way to 
the wharf he stopped to look at some boys playing marbles, and spoke to 
Abdul Rahman bin Andak, a young boy, now the Date Sri Amar d'Raja, 
C.M.G., who was crying, and this delayed Inchi Ibrahim, who heard the 
explosion while he was standing talking to the boys. Inchi Mahomed 
Tahya bin Abdulla, the Tumongong's cashier, was killed, his body was 
never found, nor was that of Mat, the Malay servant of Captain Abdul 
Talip. Captain Cleghorn's body was not found till Sunday morning. 
Inchi Abdulrahman went with a party of Malays, and recovered it in 5 
fathoms of water close to where the vessel blew up. Inchi Abdul Talip, 
the Captain, was very much hurt but recovered ; he died many years ago. 
Inchi Abdul Samat, now Dato Barat, was on board and unhurt. 

Five Europeans were killed. Captain Cleghorn was the master of 
the Hnnrietta, John Young was the gunner of the Johore, the only Euro- 
pean seaman on board, Henry Sandhurst was a boiler maker of the Dock 
Company who went on board with Mr. Bain. These three were buried on 
Easter Sunday afternoon, the 16th April, at 3 o^ clock, the Rev. C. J. 
Waterhouse, m.a., taking the service. With the exception of a Dutch 
seaman, who had been buried the previous afternoon, these were the first 
burials in the new Cemetery. The graves have no headstones, but are 
situated at the corner of the first plot of ground on the right of the centre 
path after passing the path that turns to the right leading to the Chapel. 
That is to say, as you walk into the Cemetery, you first pass at once on 
your right the path along the boundary hedge, and then the plot on which 
the Chapel stands, then on the right is the path leading towards the 
Chapel door, and at the corner on the other side of that path, on the left 
hand if you turn down the path to the Chapel, is the site of these first 
graves. On the following day, Monday 17th, John Miller and Hugh Bain 
were buried close by in the same plot. 


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722 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The explosion was no doubt caused by cold water being turned into 
an empty and red-hot boiler, the fault of the engineer, who was said to 
be unsteady on the voyage out and to have been the cause of the great 
delay. The steamer was made over to the Dock Company, for the 
Tumongong would have nothing more to do with her, and became a tug, 
in which way she was used for many years. 

In May there were three flagships in the harbour, which 
probably never occurred before or since. Admiral Kuper was on his 
way home after the actions in Japan, in the Ehiryalus ; Admiral King 
in the Princess Royal had arrived here from England to relieve him ; 
and Commodore Montresor had come from India in the Severn, as 
Singapore was then on the Indian Station. There was a large 
dance given on board the Severn at Tanjong Pagar. She was a steam 
frigate, 35 guns, 2,767 tons, 500 horse-power. The Princess Royal, 
famous in the Crimean War, was a two-decker, 73 guns, 3,129 tons, 
400 horse-power. The Euryalus was a steam frigate, the second of 
her name in the century. The first was at Trafalgar, the second at 
the Bombardment of Svenborg in the Crimean War, and at the Bombard- 
ments of Kagosima and Simojio-Saki in Japan in 1863 and 1S64; 
she was broken up a few years afterwards. 

The barque Ruby, Capt. Harrison, sailed from Hongkong for 
Singapore on the 4tli May. About 3 o'clock one afternoon three 
junks were seen approaching towards the ship, and they were im- 
mediately recognised as Pirates. In order to know exactly what 
these junks were, the Ritby deviated from her course by 3 points; 
but the junks followed her; she again altered her course, and 
they still followed. All the sails that could be employed at the 
time were set, but their endeavours to escape from the pirates 
were in vain. The wind falling light, the junks availed themselves 
of the use of their oars to reach the ship. The Rnby had two 
guns which were placed in the after part of the ship, and all the 
firearms were loaded and every preparation was made for defence. 
The junks commenced to fire, and the Ruby kept up a smart fire 
upon them in return, until about 7 p.m. when they found their 
ammunition was exhausted. They then held a consultation, when 
they agreed to abandon the vessel. They lowered their boats and 
shortly afterwards left the vessel to her fate, having done every- 
thing in their power to keep her from falling into the hands of 
the pirates. After being five days at sea, in the boats, they were 
picked ap by the French Gunboat, Merillas, and they received 
from the officers the greatest kindness. They arrived at Saigon on 
the morning of the 20th and to their great surprise saw the 
barque Ruby lying in the harbour, having been recovered by the 
Hamburg barque Canton, 

In 1864, Chinese pirates had attacked the brig Louisa, belong- 
ing to Singapore, and murdered the master and all on board except 
three persons who contrived to escape to a passing vessel. The same 
pirates also attacked a French gunboat which was obliged to 

In June the newspaper contained the following paragraph: — ''We 
trust the complication of affairs in Perak will lead to the Rajah appealing 


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1865 723 

to our govemraenfe for assistance; we could scarcely interfere without. 
There is not the slightest doubt that the natives would hail our arrival 
with pleasure. For several years a civil war devastated the kingdom, and 
since the rule of the present sovereign has been established, his efforts to 
restore order have been fruitless. Would not this be a favorable opportu- 
nity for us to oflFer to purchase the country? It would be a valuable 
acquisition to this Settlement, and we fancy the royal family of Perak 
would be delighted to get rid of it at any price.'' The country continued 
in such an unsettled state that ten years afterwards the matter settled 
itself in anether way, and it undoubtedly became the valuable acquisition 
that was suggested. 

One of the old liberated Bengal convicts died in July leaving 
fifty thousand dollars to be divided between his sons. 

It was in this year that the Honorable Henry Stanley wrote a 
book containing various inaccurate statements about Singapore. One 
of them was an attack upon the judgment of Sir William Jeffcott 
in the case in which he had decided many years before to apportion 
some of the funds under a Mohamedan's will to the Free School 
in Penang and the Raffles Institution in Singapore. The author 
had paid a visit to Singapore not long before, and lived with an 
Arab, refusing the society of Europeans. The natives in Singapore 
believed him to be a Mohamedan, and he dressed as an Arab. 

On the 15th August the first vessel passed through the Suez 
Canal from the Mediterranean to the Bed Sea, but the Canal was 
not completed and opened for traffic until 17th December, 1869. 

For some years there had been trouble at times arising from 
Secret Societies among the Klings, both Hindus and Mohamedans, 
called the Red and White Flag Societies, which led to street fights 
and bloodshed, for the two societies were always at variance, although 
the Mohamedan members of both had the same religious tenets. In 
1864 serious disturbances had taken place during the Mohurrum 
Festival, and in May this year Governor Oavenagh and Mr. Dunman 
forbade the procession. In October what was called the Great Conspiracy 
Ca«e against six of the head members was heard, two of whom 
were men of standing, Mr. Dunman and Mr. Weir giving them 
remarkably good characters in matters of business. They were all 
convicted, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. This broke up 
the societies practically, which had been established after the Chinese 
Ghi Hin and Ghi Kok Societies, with which it was supposed they 
were connecl/ed. 

The appearance of the harbour at this time was very different 
from what it is at the present time. The subsequent steamer traffic 
through the Suez Canal quite changed the shipping. The sailing vessels 
used to remain for several weeks, or even two months, discharging 
and loading in the Uoads. There are now only about four of the 
long five-oared Malay or Kling sampans at Johnston's Pier, while at 
this time there were nearly a hundred. The masters of the ships, 
in order to avoid the European crew rowing in the sun, engaged 
a sampan to wait on the ship. There were so many vessels lying 
in the harbour that the horizon could not be seen for their hulls. 
Now, in 1902, there are only a few sailing vessels, and a small number 


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724 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

of the local steamers. The wharves in Keppel Harbour, which 
were commenced about this time, have changed the appearance of 
the harbour, the steamers only remaining one or two days, and 
then speeding on their way. No doubt the harbour in the old 
days had a more imposing appearance. To form some idea of what 
it was, the shipping list for one day in this year has been counted. 
There were three small sailing ships discharging at the Borneo 
Company's wharf, no doubt with coal; and one small Swedish brig 
in Cloughton's Dock. At Jardine's wharf, which was alongside the 
Borneo Company's, was a barque of 484 tons, no doubt having brought 
coal, and loading for Bombay. In the harbour were 154 square 
rigged vessels, of which 3 were British men-of-war, one of which was 
the Prlticess Royal, already spoken of. There were two British 
merchant steamers, the Reiver of Apcar & Co., running between 
Calcutta and Hongkong, and the Siamese steamer Chow Phya. There 
were two American steamers of about 160 tons each, apparently going to 
Shanghai, probably river boats; and two small Dutch steamers, i'he 
remainder were: — 

80 British merchantmen. 
19 Hamburg. 

9 Bremen. 

8 French. 

5 Danish. 

5 Prussian. 

4 American. 

4 Dutch. 

3 Oldenburg. 

2 Hanoverian. 

2 Swedish. 

1 Norwegian 

1 Belgium. 


From time to time in Singapore small parties for practising music 
had been formed, but had never attained any length of life. In 
this year the Amateur Musical Society was formed among the English 
community, and mustered about thirty to forty members. The German 
Teutonia Club had had its Liedertafel for some years before. The 
high tenor voices of Mr. Otto Puttfarcken and another member were 
of invaluable service, and the singing of the club was unusually good. 
After they left, the Liedertafel was fortunate in having Mr. Bremer 
among their number; he had a powerful high tenor voice, and used 
to sing the leading melody clearly, over the voices of the other 
twelve or fifteen members. There has rarely been a singer like Mr. 
Bremer in Singapore, and he was always ready to help. On one 
occasion in the Town Hall he sang Balfe's " Come into the Garden, 
Maud^' in a way those who heard it often spoke of afterwards. 

The Amateur Musical Society was conducted at first by the 
organist of St. Andre w^s Cathedral, but the mainspring of it was 
Mr. Neil Macvicar, who came out in 1860, at the same time as Mr. 
Arthur Knight, and was book-keeper in Martin, Dyce & Co. He was 


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1865 725 

three years in their house in Batavia^ and then came to Singapore. 
He used to play the piano accompaniments, and keep things going. 
The Singapore newspaper in December, 1865, said that the Trustees 
of St. Andrew^s Cathedral had presented him with a watch and chain 
as a slight memento of their gratitude for his kind service to the 
congregation in playing the organ during ten months in the Cathedral. 
There was a small amateur orchestra also at this time, which played 
at the Amateur Musical Society's Concerts. It arose in this way : — 

In the early days of the settlement, as has been said on page 185, 
the D' Almeida family was the musical nucleus of the place, and when 
an Amateur Dramatic Society was formed in 1860 or thereabouts, the 
amateurs, which included two of the D^ Almeida family, got together a 
small orchestra for the purpose of playing at the performances. 

The Dramatic Society was called The Savage Club, and was due to Mr. 
Steel, the Manager of the Mercantile Bank. They rented Barganny 
House, close to Tank Koad, which had a large centre room, and used to 
^ive performances at more or less regular intervals for several years, and 
performed good standard plays, including some of Shakespeare, and 
modern comedies like '' Still waters run deep " in a very capable way. 
Dr. Allen, a medical practitioner in the place, and Mr. Barclay Read and 
several others, were famous at this time. As the room would not hold at 
one time all those who were invited, for it was a private entertainment 
for the subscribers only, the performance was given twice, and the first 
part of the alphabetical names were asked the first time, and the remain- 
ing part to the second performance. Mr. Jose d' Almeida played the 
viola. Dr. Robertson, Mr. Edward d'Almeida, and Mr. G. H. Brown, 
the violins, and Mr. Knight the violoncello. There were one or two more ; 
but their names are not remembered. This first amateur orchestra did not 
consist of more than about six players. 

This little enthusiastic band played at the first concert of the Amateur 
Musical Society on Thursday, 28th December, and played the afterwards 
well-worn overture to the " Caliph of Bagdad^' and Haydn's first quintett. 
Then the Society, which consisted of male voices only, sang four glees or 
part songs. In these days they seem as rather curious musical efforts, for 
ihey were sung from the usual setting for unequal voices, so that the 
tenors were often, if not usually, singing above the music written 
for the trebles, and the basses above the altos. However, it was 
thought satisfactory for "the good old days," as Mr. R. O. Norris 
always expresses it. The German Club singers on the other hand 
sang from music arranged for male voices, and having Mr. Bremer's 
powerful voice to lead, it was musically correct. There was a 
quartett; and a duet The Larboard Watch, well sung by the two 
brothers Thomas and Charles Crane, who are both now living in 
England; and the newspaper paid a compliment to the singing of 
the one solo, The Village Blacksmith, in which the compiler of this 
book made his first appearance and sang the first solo, it is believed, 
in the Town Hall ; but he was soon afterwards eclipsed at the future 
concerts of the Society, by Mr. William Hole, at the present day in 
Johore, who had a much better voice. A negro melody, and Locke's 
old music ^ to Macbeth, sung in the remarkable manner that has been 
described^ ended this, the first concert in the Town Hall, and it is 


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726 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

seen that the amateurs were informed in print, by the musical critic of 
the newspaper, that it was a splendid treat ! 

A few months afterwards, in September, 1866, the Grerman Liedertafel 
and the Amateur Musical Society joined together in the Town Hall 
in a concert of sacred and secular music for the benefit of the 
Singapore Institution School, and on turning over the files of the 
old newspaper, it is remembered that the singer already spoken of 
as singing at the previous concert, sang the bass recitative and air 
" The people that walked in darkness,'^ from Handel's Messiah^ which 
obtained, the paper said, the first encore. It is remembered on 
account of a remark that was made by Mr. David Rodger, mentioned 
elsewhere in this book, who was not a musical man and probablj 
attended the concert to please Mr. Macvicar, who was book-keeper 
in his firm. He said that he did not think anything of that song, 
for it sounded like a man groping about in the dark, and there 
was no tune in it. A curious appreciation, quite unintended, of the 
genius of Handel. Such were the musical efforts of Singapore thirty- 
seven years ago. 


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1866 727 



IN March, very early on a Sunday morning, a large fire broke 
out in Battery Road, just as the fire at McAlister & Oo/s 
godowns close by had commenced on a Sunday about a year before. 
The godowns and offices of William Macdonald & Co., and the 
shipchandler's store of Barsoe & Ottzen were burned. 

There was an American firm in Flint Street called Hutchison 
& Co., which was commenced in 1862. Mr. G. H. Dana, who 
was only a few years in Singapore, was a partner in it at this 
time. He was some relation of the author of the then well-known 
book " Two years before the Mast.'^ His name has been remembered 
) here by some occasional jokes he wrote in the newspaper under 
the name of "Extinguisher,^' which were published more than once 
afterwards in book form. They were not, perhaps, always in good taste, 
in consequence of the style of the composition, as will be under- 
stood from the following specimen, which was the first of them; 
but were certainly witty, which goes far as an excuse. Mr. Dana 
was popular in the place, of a merry and humourous turn of mind, 
with, quaint Americanisms in his conversation. 

The occasion which caused the commencement of the " Letters of 
Extinguisher '* arose from Lieut. Henry Burn, the Master Attendant, 
having fined a number of Captains of vessels in the harbour fifty 
rupees each for not having a light burning at night on their vessels. 
There was a very angry correspondence in the papers, at his putting 
in force some old, useless and long-forgotten regulations which had 
never been made known, and were not applicable to the particular 
case, as the Captains said their ships were not in a fairway, 
properly understood, as required by the rule. The fines were all 
returned to the Captains by instructions from Governor Cavenagh. 

The Master Attendant has been an officer in the then defunct 
Indian Navy, and was a younger brother of Mr. James Burn, who 
was the Resident Councillor and a very useful official. Mr. Henry 
Burn died a few years afterwards from the effects of a carriage 
accident, at the foot of the hill leading down to the town from 
River Valley Road. The carriage was thrown down into a swamp 
that existed there at the time, but has long been filled in, and 
substantial houses and engineering yards built over it. To show 
how the appearance of the place has changed. Dr. Little about 
1866 had a large pond made and closed in at the foot of the 
hill, on the right hand side coming towards town, to supply water-boats 
with water for the shipping. The boats came up the river. 


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728 Anecdotal History of Singapore 

The following letter of " Extinguisher " caused a great deal of 
amusement at the time: — 

"In the Island of Singapore, that lietli over against Malacca, 
which is in the far Indies, in the days of the reign of Col. Cavena', 
there dwelt many great and good men who were called Government 
Officials, because that they fished all they could out of the Govern- 

" But among these was one possessed of a little soul, who thought 
himself larger than other men, and wished others to think even as 
he did. 

" And he said unto himself : ' What shall I do that I may cause 
my name to be heard, and make myself to be great, even above my 
brother officials ?* 

"And he went about seeking how he might encompass his designs. 

"And it is so happened that this man, whose name was Mustir- 
attindint, of the tribe of the Scots, had among his other duties with the 
vessels which traded in merchandise with far countries (and which 
lay in the harbour near Singapore), to see that the lamps of these 
vessels were trimmed and lighted when darkness covered the face of 
the Earth. 

"Now this was done o