Paterson, Simons & Co.



Paterson, Simons & Co. was an early trading company in Singapore whose origin can be traced back to 1821. Although no longer based in Singapore, it played an important part in the early commercial development of the colonial state.1

History
Paterson, Simons & Co. originated from Holdsworth, Smithson & Co., a business established in Singapore in 1821 as a branch of the London and Liverpool merchant firm, Rawson, Holdsworth & Co.2


In 1828, William Wemyss Ker came to Singapore and joined Holdsworth, Smithson & Co.3 He was admitted as a partner in 1830. Following the retirement of Holdsworth and Smithson, the firm was renamed Ker, Rawson & Co. in 1835.4

William Paterson and Henry Minchin Simons, who had been assistants in the company in the mid-1840s, were admitted to the firm as partners in 1853.5 On 30 April 1859, the partnership of Ker, Rawson & Co. was dissolved, and Paterson, Simons & Co. was formed the following day on 1 May with Ker, Paterson and Simons as the founders.6

In 1907, the firm was converted into a limited liability company, and it acquired William McKerrow & Co.7 The company continued to operate uneventfully until the 1960s, when it was acquired by Wood Hall Trust. Then in 1982, Wood Hall Trust was taken over by Australian conglomerate, Elders IXL.8

The company is no longer based in Singapore. It is headquartered in the United Kingdom as Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Ltd, with operations throughout West Africa.9

Nature of business
One of the oldest firms in Singapore while it was operating there, Paterson, Simons & Co. traded in a wide range of products.10 It exported tropical produce of all kinds – such as rubber, copra and pineapples from Malaya, Borneo and the East Indies – to Europe and other countries in the world, and imported merchandise including cotton goods and other manufactured products from Europe.11

The company subsequently expanded its business activities beyond the import and export trade. It also acted as an agent or representative for a wide range of business and non-business entities including shipping lines, insurance companies, industrial enterprises and state governments.12 In 1888, the company’s agencies included the Johor government, New Harbour Dock, Ben Line, Gibb Line, Union Line, four insurance companies and Pahang Corporation. By 1895, its agencies had expanded to include Mogul Line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Tata Line and Pahang Kabang. By the beginning of World War I, the firm had become the agent and secretary for 16 planting and rubber companies, and it had branches in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Klang and Port Swettenham.13

In the mid-1930s, Paterson, Simons & Co. was involved in a wide range of business activities. It was an importer of general merchandise, an exporter of tropical produce, an engineering and bunker coal contractor, an agent and secretary for rubber companies, as well as an agent for shipping, insurance and manufacturing companies.14 The company currently specialises in selling, renting and servicing heavy lifting equipment in West Africa.15



Authors

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Chan Fook Weng



References
1. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet; National Heritage Board, p. 406. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); One of oldest firms in the colony. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (n.d.). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history; Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
3. One of oldest firms in the colony. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
4. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); One of oldest firms in the colony. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
5. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 233. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
6. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 233. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS]); Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
7. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 212. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
8. International directory of company histories (Vol. 1). (1988). Chicago, Ill: St. James Press, pp. 592–593. (Call no.: RBUS 338.7409 INT)
9. Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history
10. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 213. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); One of oldest firms in the colony. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history
11. Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history
12. Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history
13. Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 213. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history; Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979). From early days. Singapore: The Chamber, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 380.10655957 SIN)
14. Page 15 advertisements column 1: Paterson, Simons & Co., Ltd. (1935, October 8). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Limited. (2017). History. Retrieved 2017, January 3 from Paterson Simons website: http://www.patersonsimons.com/about/history



The information in this article is valid as at 2007 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
Commerce and Industry>>Trade
Economy

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