Stamford Raffles’s landing in Singapore



Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore on 28 January 1819. Travelling on the Indiana with a squadron that included the schooner Enterprise, he anchored at St John’s Island at 4.00 pm.1 The site on the Singapore mainland where Raffles landed is today marked with the statue of Raffles, which is located by the Singapore River behind Parliament House.2

The event
Raffles anchored at St John’s Island, but remained on board the Indiana while locals from Singapore island were called aboard. Raffles consulted them, asking if the Dutch had authority over the main island, and noted that only the Temenggong held fort there. The next day, Raffles and William Farquhar landed at a local river (there is a dispute as to whether they landed at Singapore River or Rochor River further east), and visited the Temenggong.3 Raffles named his landing location South Point.4


The Temenggong, a vassal of Sultan Hussein, was consulted and a provisional treaty was agreed upon. Thereafter, the British flag was planted upon Singapore shores, troops were dispatched and instructions left for a fort to be built at what is now known as Fort Canning Hill. Sultan Hussein (Tunku Long) arrived on 1 February, whereupon the trio agreed on a treaty on 6 February. Raffles departed Singapore on 7 February, leaving Farquhar in charge of the inchoate settlement.5

Timeline

19 Jan 1819: Raffles leaves Penang aboard the Indiana, under the command of Captain James Pearl, to establish a new settlement south of Malacca.6
27 Jan 1819:
 The Indiana rendezvous with the Discover and the Investigator with Farquhar on board, surveying the possibility of the Karimun islands as new British sites. After discussion, they decide against it and head towards Singapore.7

28 Jan 1819: The Indiana and Enterprise anchor at St John’s island, meeting with locals in the evening.8
29 Jan 1819:
 Raffles and Farquhar land by a river in Singapore and meet the Temenggong.9

30 Jan 1819: A draft agreement is penned between the Temenggong and the British, and the Union Jack is raised with little ceremony.10
1 Feb 1819: Sultan Hussein (Tunku Long) arrives from Riau.11
6 Feb 1819:
 The Singapore Treaty is signed between Raffles, the Sultan and the Temenggong, with commanders from the accompanying seven ships witnessing the event. Farquhar is appointed Resident and Commandant under the authority of Raffles, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen. The Union Jack is officially raised. This date is recognised as the official founding of Singapore.12

Controversy has arisen, however, from Raffles’s mistake in recording the date of his first landing as 29 February 1819, in his “Statement of the Services of Sir Stamford Raffles” – a date that does not exist because 1819 was not a leap year.13

Variant interpretations
Wah Hakim’s interpretation
Wah Hakim, a 15-year-old eye-witness to the events, testified that Raffles arrived in the company of Farquhar who wore a helmet, and a Sepoy who carried a musket. They were entertained with fruits, including rambutans, at the Temenggong’s home, leaving at about 4.00 pm that afternoon.14 The British then left, returning 12 days later, but they remained by the shore, living in makeshift attap huts. Tunku Long was found fishing in the Straits of Rhio by two princes, Raja Ombong, the former’s kinsman, and Enche Wan Abdullah, both of whom were paid 500 pounds for their effort. Upon his arrival, the Tunku conducted negotiations with Raffles at the Temenggong’s residence first, and later at Raffles’s, which was located in Padang Senar.15 

Temenggong’s interpretation
The Temenggong’s letters, however, testified that there were at least nine vessels that brought the British: seven ships, one kura-kura and one ketch, although Munshi Abdullah highlighted in the Hikayat Abdullah that there were four ships instead. Accounts from the Temenggong and Munshi Abdullah also differed on who conducted the negotiations. The former noted that Farquhar left for Malacca soon after, leaving Raffles to do the negotiations.16

Munshi Abdullah’s interpretation
Munshi Abdullah recorded that it was only Farquhar who first landed on 29 January 1819, without Raffles. The controversy was discussed by C. A. Gibson-Hill in the article “The Date of Munshi Abdullah’s First Visit to Singapore”. Gibson-Hill concurred that Raffles might have remained on board the Indiana, sleeping, during that first visit to Singapore.17

Captain Crawford’s interpretation

Another interpretation is that Captain J. G. F. Crawford commanded the Investigator, the H. C. vessel that surveyed Singapore waters upon the initial landing of Raffles and Farquhar.18 

Cho Clan Archives
Another version recorded in the Cho Clan Archives claims that Raffles had his ship’s carpenter, Chow Ah Chi, a Toi San Cantonese from Penang, lead the way in posting the East India Company’s flag on Singapore island. Chow reportedly landed on the banks of the Rochor River, and Raffles consequently followed his vanguard’s route and probably landed at the Kallang Basin, rather than the shores of the Singapore River.19 



Author
Bonny Tan



References
1.
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. (1993). Singapore: Antiques of the Orient, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR-[HIS]); Hon, J. (1990). Tidal fortunes: A story of change: The Singapore River and Kallang Basin. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 HON-[HIS]); Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 483–501. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS])
2.
Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 2. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
3.
Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 484–485. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]) 
4. Hon, J. (1990). Tidal fortunes: A story of change: The Singapore River and Kallang Basin. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 HON-[HIS]) 
5. Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 483–501. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]) 
6. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. (1993). Singapore: Antiques of the Orient, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR-[HIS])
7. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. (1993). Singapore: Antiques of the Orient, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR-[HIS])
8. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. (1993). Singapore: Antiques of the Orient, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR-[HIS]); Hon, J. (1990). Tidal fortunes: A story of change: The Singapore River and Kallang Basin. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 HON-[HIS]); Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 483–501. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]) 
9. Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 484. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]) 
10. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. (1993). Singapore: Antiques of the Orient, p. 67. (Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR-[HIS])
11. Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 487. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]) 
12. Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 495. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]); Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. (1993). Singapore: Antiques of the Orient, p. 71. (Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR-[HIS])
13. Tan Sri Dato Mubin Sheppard. (Ed.). Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 86. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Raffles, T. S. (1978). Statement of the services of Sir Stamford Raffles. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, p. 53. (Call no.: RSING q325.3410959 RAF)
14. Wurtzburg, C. E. (1984). Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 484. (Call no.: RSING 959.570210924 RAF.W-[HIS]) 
15. Tan Sri Dato Mubin Sheppard. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
16. Tan Sri Dato Mubin Sheppard. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 79, 113. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]) 
17. Tan Sri Dato Mubin Sheppard. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 112. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)–[HIS]
18. Tan Sri Dato Mubin Sheppard. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 112. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]) 
19. Hon, J. (1990). Tidal fortunes: A story of change: The Singapore River and Kallang Basin. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 7. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 HON-[HIS]) 



The information in this article is valid as at 2001 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Heritage and Culture
Events
Ethnic Communities
Singapore--History--1819-1867
Colonial administrators--Singapore
1819-1826 Founding and early years
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore
Geography
Geography and Travels