Sir Stamford Raffles's career and contributions to Singapore
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (b. 6 July 1781, off Port Morant, Jamaica–d. 5 July 1826, Middlesex, England) was famously known as the founder of modern Singapore. Besides signing the treaty with Sultan Hussein on 6 February 1819 and thus placing Singapore as a British settlement, Raffles made several contributions that helped establish Singapore as a thriving settlement.
Founding of Singapore
In December 1818, Raffles left Calcutta in search of a new British settlement to replace Malacca. Malacca was one of the many British territories given back to the Dutch as part of a war treaty. Raffles had foreseen that without a strategic British trading post located within the Straits Settlement, the Dutch could gain control of the Straits Settlement trade. Raffles arrived in Singapore on board the Indiana on 29 January 1819. Accompanied by William Farquhar and a sepoy, he met the Temenggong Abdul Rahman to negotiate for a British factory to be established on the island. On 6 February 1819, he signed an official treaty with Sultan Hussein and Temenggong Abdul Rahman, and subsequently the Union Jack was officially raised.
Raffles Town Plan
Raffles conceived a town plan to remodel Singapore into a modern city. The plan consisted of separate areas for different ethnic groups and provision of other facilities such as roads, schools and lands for government buildings. In October 1822, a Town Plan Committee was formed by Raffles to oversee the project.
Raffles devised a set of policies and regulations that outlined the objectives of the harbour, helping establish Singapore as a free port. Singapore was also chosen due to its geographical location to compete with the other harbours that were under the control of the Dutch administration.
Law and order
Raffles instituted a local magistrate who ensured peace and order in the thriving settlement. Members of the magistrate were selected from the British inhabitants to act under the Resident, the representative of the British government on the island. The provision of a local magistrate led to the abolishment and control of activities such as public gambling, slavery and cock-fighting, and even subjected pawnbrokers to licensing regulation.
Upon establishing a British settlement in Singapore, one of Raffles's concerns was establishing an institution for higher learning. A site was chosen located along a stretch of road now known as Bras Basah Road. Raffles laid the foundation stone in 1823 but the building was only completed in 1837 and was instead used as an elementary school. The establishment of this institution would later form a college known as the Singapore Institution (now known as the Raffles Institution). The Singapore Library (now known as the National Library) was established within the Singapore Institution.
The first bridge
In May 1821, Raffles assigned Lieutenant Philip Jackson to build a bridge across the Singapore River. The bridge was referred to as the "Jackson's bridge" and was the only bridge across the Singapore River until 1840 when another bridge, the Coleman Bridge was built. Jackson's bridge was replaced in 1844 with another bridge, the Thomson's bridge, which was used as a footbridge till 1846.
1795: Employed as a clerk in the East India Company, located at Leadenshell Street, London.
8 Mar 1805: Appointed as assistant-secretary to the governor of Penang, Philip Dundas.
Oct 1810: Appointed as agent to the governor-general with the Malay States by Lord Minto.
11 Sep 1811: Appointed as lieutenant governor of Java.
28 May 1817: Received knighthood from the Prince Regent, King George IV.
1817: Re-designated as lieutenant governor of Fort Marlborough and John Fendall replaced his appointment of lieutenant governor of Java.
1819: Signed a treaty with the Sultan Hussein Shah and Temenggong Abdul Rahman, granting the establishment of a British Settlement in Singapore.
Jun 1823: Founded the Singapore Institution.
Feb 1824: Returned to England.
Apr 1826: Elected as president of the Zoological Society.
5 Jul 1826: Died at the age of 45 years old, Highwood, Middlesex, England.
Heirwin Mohd Nasir
Antiques of the Orient. (1993). Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: Book of days. Singapore: Antiques of the Orient.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 SIR)
Boulger, D. C. (1999). The life of Sir Stamford Raffles. Amsterdam: Pepin Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 BOU)
Makepeace,W., Brooke G. E., & Roland St.J.B. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore. Singapore. Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING959.57 ONE)
Loh, A. (Ed.). (1997). Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles: A comprehensive bibliography. Singapore: Singapore Resource Library, National Library Board.
(Call no.: RSING 016.95957 SIR)
Raffles, S. (1991). Memoir of the life and public services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles/Lady Sophia Raffles. Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57021092 RAF)
Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books.
(Call no.: RSING 027. 5957 SEE)
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.
Frontier and pioneer life--Singapore--Biography
1819-1826 Founding and early years
Geography and Travels
Raffles, Thomas Stamford
Events>>Historical Periods>>Founding of Modern Singapore (1819-1941)
Raffles, Thomas Stamford, Sir, 1781-1826
Heritage and Culture