In 1830, the Straits Settlements – comprising Singapore, Malacca and Penang – was made a residency of the Presidency of Bengal in Calcutta, India. Prior to that, the Straits Settlements, formed by the British East India Company (EIC) in 1826, was administered as a separate presidency with Penang as the capital. However, the presidency was found to be too costly to administer so the EIC decided to reduce the status of the Straits Settlements from a presidency to a residency of the Presidency of Bengal, which was under the governor-general of India based in Calcutta.
As a residency, all administrative decisions and legislations concerning the Straits Settlements were made in Calcutta, and the governor of the Straits Settlements became a mere resident without executive and legislative powers. Overall, this arrangement proved to be ineffective. Without a proper representation in Calcutta and due to the distance between the Straits Settlements and Calcutta, the Indian government found it difficult to advance their interests in the Straits such as by cultivating better ties with the Malay states.
Nonetheless, the Straits Settlements remained in the Presidency of Bengal for more than three decades. During this period, the Straits Settlements underwent a number of administrative changes. In 1832, Singapore replaced Penang as the capital of the Straits Settlements. In 1851, direct control over the Straits Settlements was transferred from the Bengal presidency to the governor-general of India. Finally, on 1 April 1867, the Straits Settlements was transferred to the Colonial Office in London to become a crown colony under direct British control.
1. Turnbull, C. M. (1972). The Straits Settlements, 1826–67: Indian presidency to crown colony (pp. 54–73). London: Athlone Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR.
2. Yong, M. C., & Rao, B. V. V. (Eds.). (1995). Singapore-India Relations: A Primer (p. 5). Singapore: Singapore University Press. Call no.: RSING 337.5957054 SIN.
3. S. S. has been crown colony for 72 years. (1939, April 3). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Nordin Hussin. (2007). Trade and Society in the Straits of Melaka: Dutch Melaka and English Penang, 1780–1830 (p. 238). Singapore: NUS Press; Copenhagen: NIAS. Call no.: RSING 959.503 NOR.
5. Turnbull, 1972, pp. 54–73.
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.