Temenggung Abdul Rahman



Temenggung Abdul Rahman (d. 8 December 1825, Singapore), also known as Dato’ Temenggung Seri Maharaja Abdul Rahman or Engku Abdul Rahman, was the first Malay chief with whom the British discussed the establishment of a British settlement in Singapore before the arrival of Sultan Husain Shah and the signing of the 1819 Singapore Treaty. His sphere of influence consisted of Singapore, the northwestern portion of the Riau Archipelago, and islands across the Johor coastline.1

Background

Before settling in Singapore, Engku Abdul Rahman lived in Bulang, an island located in Riau. He became the Temenggung shortly after Engku Muda, his uncle and the de facto Temenggung, died in 1806.2 "Temenggung" is a traditional Malay title of nobility for the third highest official after the ruler in the old Johor empire. The Temenggung served as a minister for defence and public security, who sought and punished criminals.3

Johor was the maritime Malay empire founded by Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah in 1528. At its peak, the extent of the empire’s control included the southern Malay Peninsula, a portion of southeastern Sumatra, the Riau Islands, Pahang, Muar, Singapore, Lingga and mainland Johor.4 From 1722 to 1819, its capital was in Riau, which was situated on the island of Bentan (Bintan), near present-day Tanjong Pinang.5

In 1818, the signing of a treaty between the Dutch and the Johor Sultanate allowed the Dutch to establish their hold on Johor, thus preventing the formation of alliances between Johor and another European power, particularly the British.6 However, this treaty was unfavourable to Temenggung Abdul Rahman as it reduced his power and his share of financial earnings from the port.7 Shortly after, the Temenggung and his people left Riau for Singapore.8

First meeting with the British

Before the arrival of the British, the Temenggung governed several settlements in Singapore comprising sea nomads such as the Orang Laut, Orang Seletar and Orang Kallang.9

On 28 January 1819, Stamford Raffles and William Farquhar landed in Singapore and met with Temenggung Abdul Rahman to negotiate a provisional treaty.10 The Temenggung signed the preliminary treaty and allowed for a British settlement in Singapore provided the terms were approved by his patron, Tengku Husain.11

This agreement that was drafted on 30 January 1819 stated that the Temenggung was the “Ruler of Singapore, who governs the country of Singapore in his own name and in the name of Sree Sultan Hussein Mahummud Shah”.12 The Temenggung instructed Engku Embong13 (a male relative of Tengku Husain) to escort Tengku Husain from Riau to Singapore, with the latter arriving on 1 February 1819.14

On 6 February 1819, the Singapore Treaty was signed by the Temenggung and Tengku Husain, which accorded the latter the title of “Sultan”.15 The British were henceforth allowed to set up a factory (trading post) in Singapore in exchange for yearly allowances given to Sultan Husain and the Temenggung.16

Claims of a forcible signing
After the Singapore Treaty was signed, the Temenggung and Sultan Husain wrote to the Bugis Viceroy Raja Ja’afar about them being unwilling participants of what was perceived to be a forcible acquisition of Singapore by the British.17

In the Temenggung’s letter to Raja Ja’afar and Adrian Koek (a leading Dutch merchant of Melaka), he highlighted that he had been taken aback by the British arrival in Singapore and that Sultan Husain had been forced to accept sultanship.18 This account was corroborated by Sultan Husain when he dispatched messengers to Riau to settle his affairs there.19 The Temenggung’s and Sultan Husain’s claims were made in consideration of the authority of the Johor Sultanate. They sought to assure the recipients of the letters that the installation of Tengku Husain as sultan was not a challenge towards his brother for the royal throne.20 Sultan Husain had even referred to himself as Yang Dipertuan of Singapore (Malay for “Lord of Singapore”) to highlight that he was not installed as the Sultan of Johor.21 In these letters, the Temenggung and Sultan Husain emphasised their acknowledgement of Sultan Abdul Rahman's and Raja Ja’afar’s authority as the Yang Dipertuan Besar (Malay for “Great Ruler”) and Yang Dipertuan Muda (Malay for “Viceroy”) respectively.22 The Temenggung’s and Sultan Husain’s letters resulted in a series of exchanges between the Dutch and the British. The Dutch cited these letters in their case against Raffles.23

Subsequently, on 1 March 1819, Farquhar demanded that the Temenggung and Sultan Husain sign a declaration stating that they consented to the British settlement in Singapore.24 The Temenggung declared that “from the arrival of the Honourable Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles no troops or effects were landed, or anything executed but with the free accord of myself and the Sultan of Johor”.25 He acknowledged that he had written those letters to Raja Ja’afar and Koek as a way to insure himself against Dutch retaliation.26

Subsequent treaties with the British

On 26 June 1819, an agreement was signed in which the boundaries of the British factory were drawn up and the tripartite rule was formalised. The sovereignty of the Sultan’s and the Temenggung’s territory within the boundaries of the factory were secured, and the consent of all three parties – the Sultan, the Temenggung and Farquhar – was required to establish any duties, customs or farms. In November 1819, the Sultan and the Temenggung received further economic gains from the profits of the tax farms for opium, alcohol and gambling implemented under Farquhar’s rule.27

In October 1822, Raffles returned and took charge of the settlement. He was displeased with the degree of authority and privileges that the Sultan and the Temenggung had.28 Munsyi Abdullah recorded a meeting in 1823 between the two Malay chiefs and Raffles during which the chiefs claimed that their monthly allowances were inadequate.29 In accordance with an agreement that was drawn up on 7 June 1823, monthly allowances of $1,500 and $800 were given to the Sultan and the Temenggung respectively. In exchange, the chiefs would relinquish their rights and authority over Singapore, port duties and revenue farms.30

According to the Raffles Town Plan, Raffles also moved the Temenggung and his followers from Kampong Temenggung along the Singapore River to Telok Blangah in 1823.31 The Temenggung received an additional sum for the relocation of his kampong.32 It was noted that the Temenggung maintained a temporary residence at Kampong Temenggung until 1824 when he finally left at John Crawfurd’s insistence.33 Following this move, the Temenggung’s territory extended from Tanjong Pagar to Telok Blangah.34

Treaty of Friendship and Alliance (1824)

When Crawfurd took over the administration of the settlement as the second Resident, he saw that the Sultan and the Temenggung still had a substantial amount of authority over Singapore.35 In August 1824, he drafted the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, which stated that the Sultan and the Temenggung had to give up their full authority over Singapore and surrounding islands in return for monetary allowances and maintenance of their property at Kampong Glam and Telok Blangah respectively.36 Crawfurd proclaimed that the June 1823 agreement was unauthorised, and sought to recover the allowances that had been “unlawfully” given to the Malay chiefs under that agreement.37 According to figures drawn up by Crawfurd, the Temenggung allegedly owed the British $6,800 in Spanish dollars. After Crawfurd withheld their allowances for three months, the Temenggung and Sultan Husain eventually signed the treaty.38

The Treaty of Friendship and Alliance had been made possible by an earlier treaty signed between Great Britain and the Netherlands in London – the 1824 Anglo-Dutch Treaty, which created a clear separation of the British and the Dutch spheres of influence in Southeast Asia that led to the Dutch ceding Melaka and all its dependencies to Britain, as well as withdrawing their objections to the British occupation of Singapore.39 Thus, after having signed the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, the Temenggung had to give up his authority over Singapore, as well as ownership of his fiefs that lay south of the Straits of Singapore, such as the Karimun islands, Galang and Bulang.40 In doing so, he lost significant islands that were inhabited by important Orang Laut communities, and strategically located territory such as the Karimun islands located at the southern end of the Straits of Malacca.41 Although the Temenggung and his people were said to have continued to regard these islands as their possessions, the wealth and stability of his family began to decline.42

Decline and other developments (post-1824)
Following the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance, the Temenggung and his followers largely continued their maritime way of life in the New Harbour (Keppel) area. His following numbered between 6,000 to 10,000 in 1824.43 In that same year, he had the Istana Lama built at Telok Blangah, which was the birthplace of his grandson, Abu Bakar.44


Temenggung Abdul Rahman passed away on 8 December 1825.45 His early death caused a further disintegration of the Temenggung’s dynasty. Many of his followers wandered off and some lent their support to Tengku Yahya, Sultan Husain’s son, instead.46


There was a power vacuum as no successor was appointed immediately after the Temenggung’s death. The reign eventually fell to the Temenggung’s younger son, Daeng Ibrahim (also known as Tengku Chik), who was given the title, Temenggung Seri Maharaja of Johor, in 1833 at Telok Blangah by the Malay community.47 Daeng Ibrahim played an important role in the British’s anti-piracy efforts, and was officially installed as the Temenggung of Johor by the British in 1841.48 Temenggung Daeng Ibrahim laid the foundation for the modern Johor Sultanate.49

Today, Masjid Temenggung Daeng Ibrahim stands in place of Istana Lama beside the tombs of Temenggung Abdul Rahman and his son, Daeng Ibrahim. These sites are currently owned by the Johor Sultanate.50

Family

Father:
Daing Kechil (Tun Ibrahim)
Uncle:
Engku Muda (Raja Muda)51
Sister:
Enche Puan Bulang52
Children:
Daeng Ibrahim (younger son), Abdulla (elder son)53

Variant names
Malay: Abdu’r Rahman, Temenggung Abdul Rahman Ibni Temenggung Abdul Hamid, Dato Tummungung Sree Maharajah
Variant spellings of Temenggung: Temenggong, Tumongong, Tomungong, Tummungung



Author

Nur Irfaniah



References
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2. Winstedt, R. O. (1992). A history of Johore, 1365–1941. Kuala Lumpur: MBRAS, p. 72. (Call no.: RSING 959.511903 WIN); Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Pressp. 44. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
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8. Raja Ali al-Haji Riau. (1965). Tuhfat al-Nafis: Sejarah Melayu dan Bugis. Singapore: Malaysia Publications, p. 275. (Call no.: RSING Malay 959.51 ALI)
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17. Badriyah Haji Salleh. (Ed). (1999). Warkah al-Ikhlas 1818–1821. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, pp. 52–53. (Call no.: RSING Malay G 091 WAR)
18. Kwa, C. G. (2006). Why did Tengku Hussein sign the 1819 treaty with Stamford Raffles? In K. K. Khoo, Elinah Abdullah & M. H. Wan (Eds.), Malays/Muslims in Singapore: Selected readings in history 1819–1965 (pp. 1–35). Subang Jaya: Pelanduk Publications, pp. 14–15. (Call no.: RSING 305.8992805957 MAL); Bastin, J. S. (2019). Sir Stamford Raffles and some of his friends and contemporaries. Singapore: World Scientific Pub., p. 69 (Call no.: RSING 959.5703092 BAS-[HIS])
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20. Bastin, J. S., & Lim, C. S. (2012). The founding of Singapore 1819: based on the private letters of Sir Stamford Raffles to the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in India, the Marguess of Hastings, preserved in the Bute Collection at Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, Scotland. Singapore: National Library Board, p. 42. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 BAS -[HIS]); Kwa, C. G. (2006). Why did Tengku Hussein sign the 1819 treaty with Stamford Raffles? In K. K. Khoo, Elinah Abdullah & M. H. Wan (Eds.). Malays/Muslims in Singapore: Selected readings in history 1819–1965 (pp. 1–35). Subang Jaya: Pelanduk Publications, pp. 16–18. (Call no.: RSING 305.8992805957 MAL)
21. Maxwell, W. E. (Ed.). (1997). Notes and queries. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 123. (Call no.: English 959.5 NOT); Kwa, C. G., Heng, D., Borschberg, P., & Tan, T. Y. (2019). Seven hundred years : a history of Singapore. Singapore: National Library Board, pp. 187–189. (Call no.: English 959.57 KWA-[HIS])
22. Buyong Adil. (1971). Sejarah Johor. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, pp. 171–174. (Call no.: RCLOS Malay 959.5142 BUY-[LYF])
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24. Badriyah Haji Salleh. (Ed.). (1999). Warkah al-Ikhlas 1818–1821. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, pp. 50–51. (Call no.: RSING Malay G 091 WAR)
25. Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Fraser & Neave, pp. 52. Retrieved from BookSG.
26. Badriyah Haji Salleh. (Ed.). (1999). Warkah al-Ikhlas 1818–1821. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, pp. 50–51. (Call no.: RSING Malay G 091 WAR)
27. Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Fraser & Neave, pp. 58–59, 63–64. Retrieved from BookSG; Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 62–63. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
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31. Bastin, J. S., & Lim, C. S. (2012). The founding of Singapore 1819: based on the private letters of Sir Stamford Raffles to the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in India, the Marguess of Hastings, preserved in the Bute Collection at Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute, Scotland. Singapore: National Library Board, p. 40. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 BAS -[HIS]); Meng, L. (2004). Early Land Transactions in Singapore: The Real Estates of William Farquhar (1774–1839), John Crawfurd (1783–1868), and Their Families. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 77(1)(286), 23–42; Pearson, H. (1969). Lt. Jackson's Plan of Singapore. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42(1)(215), 161–165. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
32. Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
33. National Archives of India. (1824, March 5). Foreign Secret Cons 5 Mar 1824 No. 7 – Letter from J Crawfurd, Resident of Singapore to George Swinton, Secretary to the Government [Microfilm: NAB 1673]. Retrieved from the National Archives of Singapore; Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Fraser & Neave, p. 160. Retrieved from BookSG; Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
34. Gibson-Hill, C. (1954). Singapore: Notes on the history of the Old Strait, 1580–1850. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society27(1)(165), 196. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
35.
Trocki, C. A. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 61. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
36. National Archives of India. (1825, April 15). Foreign Pol Dept. 15 Apr 1825 No. 94 – Copy of the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance between the English East India Company and the Sultan and the Tumongong of Johore, concluded on 2 Aug 1824 [Microfilm: NAB 1668]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore;; Heng, D., & Tan, T. Y. (2009). Singapore, a 700-year history: From early emporium to world city. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, p. 94. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 KWA-[HIS])
37. Buckley, C. B. (1902). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867 (Vol. 1). Singapore: Fraser & Neave, pp. 168–171. Retrieved from BookSG.; Kwa, C. G. (2006). Why did Tengku Hussein sign the 1819 treaty with Stamford Raffles? In K. K. Khoo, Elinah Abdullah & M. H. Wan (Eds.), Malays/Muslims in Singapore: Selected readings in history 1819–1965 (pp. 1–35). Subang Jaya: Pelanduk Publications, p. 25. (Call no.: RSING 305.8992805957 MAL); Wake, C. (1975). Raffles and the rajas: The founding of Singapore in Malayan and British colonial history. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 48(1)(227), 69–70. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
38. Hill, A. (1955). The Hikayat Abdullah. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 28(3)(171), 193. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Wake, C. (1975). Raffles and the rajas: The founding of Singapore in Malayan and British colonial history. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 48(1)(227), 70. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
39. Kwa, C. S., Heng, D., Borschberg, P., & Tan, T. Y. (2019). Seven hundred years: a history of Singapore. Singapore: National Library Board, p. 190. (Call no.: English 959.57 KWA -[HIS]); Tan, D. E. (1983). A portrait of Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 TAN)
40.
National Archives of India. (1825, March 4). Foreign Secret Cons. 4 Mar 1825 No. 12 - Letter from J Crawfurd, Resident of Singapore, to G Swinton, Secretary to the Government [Microfilm: NAB 1673]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore.
41. We, K. K. (2009). Gateway and panopticon: Singapore and surviving regime change in the nineteenth-century Malay world. In D. Heng & Syed Aljunied (Eds.), Reframing Singapore: Memory, identity, trans-regionalism (pp. 39–68). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 REF)
42. Raja Ali al-Haji Riau. (1965). Tuhfat al-Nafis: Sejarah Melayu dan Bugis. Singapore: Malaysia Publications, p. 297. (Call no.: Malay 959.51 ALI); Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 57. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
43. Manogaran Suppiah. (2006). The Temenggongs of Telok Blangah: The progenitor of modern Johor. In K. K. Khoo, Elinah Abdullah & M. H. Wan (Eds.), Malays/Muslims in Singapore: Selected readings in history 1819–1965. Subang Jaya: Pelanduk Publications, p. 43. (Call no.: RSING 305.8992805957 MAL); Gibson-Hill, C. (1954). Singapore: Notes on the history of the Old Strait, 1580–1850. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27(1)(165), 197. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
44. Istana Temenggong di Telok Blangah. (1984, July 3). Berita Harian, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
45. Ahmat Adam. (2009). Letters of sincerity: The Raffles collection of Malay letters (1780–1824). Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 108.  (Call no.: RSING 959.503 AHM)
46. Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 60–61. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
47. Manogaran Suppiah. (2006). The Temenggongs of Telok Blangah: The progenitor of modern Johor. In K. K. Khoo, Elinah Abdullah & M. H. Wan (Eds.), Malays/Muslims in Singapore: Selected readings in history 1819–1965. Subang Jaya: Pelanduk Publications, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 305.8992805957 MAL)
48. Winstedt, R. O. (1992). A history of Johore, 1365–1941. Kuala Lumpur: MBRAS, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 959.511903 WIN)
49. Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
50. The Temenggongs. (1989, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
51. Trocki, C. (2007). Prince of pirates: The Temenggongs and the development of Johor and Singapore 1784–1885. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 959.5103 TRO)
52. Singapore, Friday, 17th Dec., 1852. (1852, December 17). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
53. Ahmat Adam. (2009). Letters of sincerity: The Raffles collection of Malay letters (1780–1824). Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 105-109.  (Call no.: RSING 959.503 AHM)


Further resources
Begbie, P. J. (1967). The Malayan peninsula. Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 BEG)

Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])

Sheppard, M. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years. Singapore: Times Books International: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])

Wilkinson, R. J. (Ed.) (1971). Papers on Malay subjects. Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 WIL)



The information in this article is valid as at 5 August 2019 and correct as far as we can 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
Abdul Rahman, Temenggong
Personalities
1819-1826 Founding and early years
Singapore--History--1819-1867
Events>>Historical Periods>>Founding of Modern Singapore (1819-1941)