The signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty between Great Britain and the Netherlands in London on 17 March 1824 was primarily a settlement of a long period of territorial and trade disputes between the two countries in Southeast Asia. The treaty redefined the spheres of influence of these two colonial powers in the region, eventually leading to the formation of British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.
Anglo-Dutch rivalries in Southeast Asia had resulted in frequent clashes and verbal disputes between Great Britain and the Netherlands since the 17th century. The intention of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, also known as the Treaty of London, was to settle these conflicts once and for all. The treaty had three provisions: territorial, commercial, and financial. Under the territorial clauses, the Netherlands ceded all its factories in India to Britain, withdrew all objections to the British occupation of Singapore, and ceded Melaka (Malacca) and all its dependencies to Britain. In return, Britain ceded Benkulen (Bencoolen) and all its possessions in Sumatra to the Netherlands. In addition, neither party could sign any treaty with any ruler or state in the other’s sphere of influence The above clauses effectively brought Malaya and Singapore under the control of the British, while most of what is today Indonesia came under Dutch rule.
The commercial provisions of the agreement confirmed the Dutch monopoly over the spice trade of Maluku (the Moluccas or the Spice Islands) but not of the trade of the Malay Archipelago. The Dutch agreed not to discriminate unfairly against British trade, as well as forgo any existing monopoly treaties they had in the Malayan peninsula. Both countries also agreed to allow free communication between the locals of the different ports belonging to their respective spheres of influence, and cooperate in the suppression of piracy. The financial provisions settled all outstanding claims between the British and the Dutch, in which the latter agreed to pay 100,000 pounds sterling to the British.
1. Treaty between His Britannic Majesty and the King of the Netherlands, respecting territory and commerce in the East Indies. (1825). In The Edinburgh Annual Register, for 1824, 17(III), p. 25. Edinburgh: James Ballantyne and Co. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from Google Books.
2. Mills, L. A. (2003). British Malaya 1824–67 (p. 86– 87). Selangor, Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Call no.: RSEA 959.5 MIL.
3. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia (p. 33). Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board. Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS].
4. Tan, D. E. (1983). A portrait of Malaysia and Singapore (p. 49). Singapore: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING 959.5 TAN.
5. Tan, 1983, p. 49.
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.