Paterson, Simons & Co. (S) Pte Ltd


Paterson, Simons & Co. had a long association with Singapore. One of the earliest trading houses in Singapore, it grew into one of the largest companies in early Singapore with interests in a wide range of commercial activities, playing an important part in the economic development of Singapore.

Paterson, Simons & Co. had its origins in Holdsworth, Smithson and Co., which was established in Singapore in 1821 by Rawson, Holdsworth and Co. In 1828, William Wemyss Ker joined the company, and Ker and Rawson started an import and export trade in Singapore. In 1830, Ker was admitted as a partner, and the firm was renamed Ker, Rawson and Company in 1835 following the retirement of Holdsworth and Smithson.  William Paterson and Henry Minchin Simons joined the company in the 1840s. In 1853, Paterson and Simons were admitted to the firm as partners.  On 30 April 1859, the partnership of Ker, Rawson and Co. was dissolved and Paterson, Simons & Co. was formed on 1 May 1859 with Ker, Paterson and Simons as the founders.  

In 1907, the firm was converted into a limited liability company, and acquired William McKerrow and Co. World War II and independence brought about new changes. In the mid-1970s, it became a principal subsidiary of Woodhall Trust Ltd and in the early 1980s, Paterson, Simons & Co. became a member of Elders IXL International Group of Companies of Australia following the acquisition of Woodhall Trust by Elders IXL.

Nature of Business

In its initial years, Paterson, Simons & Co. as one of the earliest trading houses in the Straits Settlements, traded in a wide range of products. It exported to Europe and other countries in the world tropical produce of all descriptions ranging from rubber and copra to pineapples from Malaya, Borneo and the East Indies. In return, it imported merchandise such as cotton goods and other manufactured products from Europe.

Later, the company was active not only in the import and export trade but also acted as agents or representatives for a wide range of firms such as shipping lines, insurance companies and industrial enterprises as well as state governments. In 1888, the company's agencies included the Johore Government, New Harbour Dock, the Ben Line, Gibb Line, Union Line, four insurance companies, and the Pahang Corporation.  By 1895, their agencies expanded to include the Mogul Line, the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, the Tata Line, and the Pahang Kabang. By the beginning of World War I, Paterson, Simons & Co. had become agents and secretaries for 16 planting and rubber companies and had branches in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Klang and Port Swettenham. 

In the mid-1930s, the firm was involved in a wide range of business activities as importers of general merchandise, exporters of tropical produce, engineering and bunker coal contractors and agents and secretaries for rubber companies, and agents for shipping, insurance and manufacturing companies. However, following World War II and independence, the firm's business shifted its focus onto new areas such as communication, engineering and consumer products, besides shipping.

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia & Chan Fook Weng


Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819-1867 (p. 233). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)

Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2, pp. 212-214). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE) 

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. (1979).  From early days (pp. 49-51).  Singapore: The Chamber.  
(Call no.: RSING 380.10655957SIN)

Paterson Simons & Co. (Africa) Ltd. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from

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.

Commerce and Industry>>Trade
Paterson, Simons & Co. (S) Pte Ltd
Trading companies--Singapore
Trade and industry
Business, finance and industry>>Business organization>>Business enterprises

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