The Return of the Dutch to the East

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

I have concluded a treaty of commercial alliance with Sultan Abdul Rahman
He was the younger half-brother of Tengku Long, who later became Sultan Hussein Mohamed Shah through the 1819 treaty of Singapore. After their father Sultan Mahmud Shah III died, the brothers were in a succession dispute over the Johor-Riau-Lingga Sultanate. In 1811, Abdul Rahman had the upper hand and was installed as the Sultan. When William Farquhar was in Lingga, Sultan Abdul Rahman—the Sultan of Johor—told him to go to Riau to negotiate a treaty with the Raja Muda, Raja Ja’afar, who held political authority.
, King of Johor, Pahang and its Dependencies. According to Article ii of the treaty, vessels and merchandise belonging to British subjects or those under the protection of the Honourable East India Company shall always enjoy privileges and advantages…
Colonel John Alexander Bannerman
Colonel John Alexander Bannerman

Governor of Prince of Wales Island

From 1817 to 1819, he was governor of what is present-day Penang Island, Malaysia. He saw the establishment of Singapore as a threat to trade there.

Governor of Prince of Wales Island
Circa 1818
Good work on securing the treaty, Farquhar! I’m glad we got to speak about the return of Dutch colonies in April.

Farquhar Steps Down as Rajah Melaka

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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shared The Melaka Times's post

The First Resident

I’m touched by your outpouring of support for me. I’m sad to leave you all but my time in Melaka as Resident is over. I’m headed for a short stopover in Penang before I head home for three years to Scotland for a much-needed furlough.

Farquhar Steps Down as Rajah Melaka

The Melaka Times

We captured the sights and sounds of William Farquhar’s farewell and asked people how they felt about the Resident leaving.
Jan Samuel Timmerman Thijssen
Jan Samuel Timmerman Thijssen

New Governor of Melaka

This Dutchman took over from William Farquhar as the new governor of Melaka.

New Governor of Melaka
22 Dec 1818
It was my honour to throw you a farewell party last night. From the toasts and speeches, it was clear to me that people appreciated your public conduct and private worth. Together with the Dutch and British inhabitants who assembled at the Stadhuis, we bid you farewell.

Farquhar gets Raffles’ Letter about Singapore’s Potential

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

It seems that my 1818 treaty with the Sultan is deemed void by the Dutch. Fortuitously, Stamford Raffles has instructed me in this letter to form a new settlement that would not result in conflict with the Dutch authorities. He has asked that we look at the Karimun islands or…
Stamford Raffles
Stamford Raffles

An East India Company Officer

An enterprising East India Company (EIC) officer looking to make his mark on the Eastern Seas. He was Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen when he controversially set up an EIC trading post in Singapore.

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An East India Company Officer
16 Jan 1819
As I mentioned, make your surveys of the islands, but do not conclude any treaties until you receive further instructions. I trust that you will use your foresight, much like how you did with the matter of Melaka’s demolition in 1807
In 1806, Robert Farquhar, an influential British merchant and Member of Parliament, recommended that Melaka be destroyed and abandoned to give the Prince of Wales’ Island (present-day Penang Island, Malaysia) a commercial boost. William Farquhar strongly opposed this and gave an exhaustive account of the advantages of Melaka. His plea was rebuffed by the Court of Directors. William Farquhar complied with their ruling and started the demolition in 1807, but the process was slow. A year later, Stamford Raffles presented a report that mirrored William Farquhar’s suggestions. His appeal stopped further demolition.
. The search for this settlement is urgent to protect the East India Company and the commercial activities of British merchants. This will also help us avoid protective tariffs and ensure that we are not left out from exclusive commercial agreements with local leaders.

Farquhar has a New Job

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

I changed my plans of going home because this looks like an exciting foray! I look forward to my new posting in Singapore.

Farquhar Promotes Trading in Singapore

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

Lord Hastings
Lord Francis Rawdon-Hastings was a British soldier and colonial administrator who was the Governor-General of Bengal and commander-in-chief of the forces in India from 1813 to 1823. He also authorised Stamford Raffles' establishment of a trading post in Singapore.
, the settlement has grown quickly. Within three weeks of landing, the port is proceeding in the most prosperous manner, with inhabitants flooding in from every quarter. I foresee that Singapore will likely become a flourishing colony, and a place of considerable commercial and political importance.
James Matheson
James Matheson

Merchant Ship Officer

A Scottish officer on the Marquis of Hastings, which was carrying opium – a commodity that would be massively in demand in the following years.

Merchant Ship Officer
Circa 1819
I have formed the highest opinion of Singapore as a place of trade. I made a pit stop at her port on my way to China, and I was impressed. However, there’s barely any trade to be done because there are no merchants. But I think that’s not a major disadvantage. With no duties or port charges, vessels will soon dock here.

Singapore Takes Off as a Trading Port

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

Raffles, as you’ve suggested, I’ve used the brig Ganges
The Ganges, a brig (a two-masted square-rigged ship), arrived in Singapore in 1819. It was one of the vessels in Stamford Raffles’ small fleet, and was used as a store for the East India Company’s goods for five months.
, and winched it into the river to act as a store for the company’s goods. We are getting more trade by the day. Many merchants are attracted by the free unrestricted trade and no taxes charged. Besides the Arab trader Syed…
A Storeman
Circa 1819
There is a Chinese merchant named Keat, who is interested in buying 12,700kg of iron, but only if he can pay for it in three months. I don’t know very much of this Keat, but Tan Che Sang has promised to pay the amount if Keat cannot do so.

Farquhar Sets Up Infrastructure in Singapore

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

I’m introducing a tax-farming system and auctioning monopoly rights to sell opium, arrack
Also spelt as arak, this distilled alcohol drink was usually made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain or fruit.
and run gambling dens. This is in addition to the small port clearance charge I imposed four months ago. This settlement needs better infrastructure such as roads and aqueducts to supply water to ships and residents, in…
Stamford Raffles
Stamford Raffles

An East India Company Officer

An enterprising East India Company (EIC) officer looking to make his mark on the Eastern Seas. He was Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen when he controversially set up an EIC trading post in Singapore.

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An East India Company Officer
Circa 1820
Given your limitations in raising money to run Singapore, I accept your plan. Licences are a complex issue, which I am not at present prepared to form a final judgement. The sale of spirits and opium do not appear objectionable but do ensure that the opium licences are for the sale of prepared opium only. However, I’m strongly against having gambling dens of any sort… this is tantamount to countenancing vice!

Farquhar Establishes Early Institutions

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

The European and Asian merchants have agreed to contribute $54 a month for a Night Watch fund to pay for an extra constable and nine peons. This will go a long way towards helping Captain Francis James Bernard, the chief of police, and prevent the unarmed, peaceable immigrants from being…
Captain Francis James Bernard
Captain Francis James Bernard

Farquhar's son-in-law

Farquhar son-in-law held major positions in Farquhar’s administration, including Master Attendant of Singapore from February 1819 to April 1820. He was also in charge of the first police department.

Farquhar's son-in-law
Circa 1821
Stamford Raffles, I had accepted this post with recommendations from my father-in-law, because of my thorough knowledge of Malay and other native languages, and my long residence in eastern countries. However, the salary of $100 per month and staff allowances are inadequate. This was less than the provisional salary of $300 a month that I was getting as acting Master Attendant and Marine Storekeeper
A Master Attendant was appointed when Singapore became a trading port in 1819. He was in charge of managing ships anchored further out from the harbour. He also acted as an advisor on nautical matters. At the start of his stint, Captain Bernard was paid $300 a month. Carl Alexander Gibson-Hill, who was once a curator at the National Museum in Singapore, wrote that Bernard was merely a stand-in for Stamford Raffles’ brother-in-law Captain William Lawrence Flint.
. However, I understand that the low pay is because Singapore is still only considered a military post. I hope that when the settlement becomes permanent, I can have an increment.

A Job Change for Farquhar

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

I’m sad to announce that I’m no longer the Resident of Singapore.
A British Merchant
1 May 1823
This is pretty sudden. I know you had disagreements with Stamford Raffles, but how did it escalate to this? I hear the worst rumours…that he had declared John Crawfurd to be 10,000 times better than you. And there was talk that you had formed a clique of men that included Eurasian merchant Claude Queiros, Captain James Pearl, Captain Cathcart Methven and others, who were said to have enjoyed your influence and power to oppose him.

An Elaborate Farewell for Farquhar

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

I have no words for your gracious and splendid send-off. I will treasure the memories of the garrison troops, which formed a double line from my house to the landing place, the band playing, the flags flying and the perahus that accompanied me from shore. I appreciate the wonderful gifts…
A Representative of the Chinese Community
28 Dec 1823
Our gift is just a mark of our respect and regard for you. As we have declared in the Prince of Wales Island Gazette, there’s no individual who can be extolled before you for your acts of kindness to Singapore ever since the first establishment of its government. You exercised your compassionate thoughts in love to the people and sought to promote the trade of the place, both near and far.

Farquhar Contests His Dismissal

William Farquhar
William Farquhar

The First Resident

The first Resident and Commandant of Singapore, who played an instrumental role in Singapore’s success as a thriving free port and modern city.

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The First Resident

My dismissal was illegal and unauthorised! I have asked to see copies of any letter from the Supreme Government to replace me with Dr. John Crawfurd
He visited Singapore en route to Siam from India, but his plans changed when he was appointed the second Resident of Singapore. He held the post until 1826.
. It seems this decision by Raffles was inevitable. To the highest tribune in India, I make a solemn appeal under a confident hope that…
Stamford Raffles
Stamford Raffles

An East India Company Officer

An enterprising East India Company (EIC) officer looking to make his mark on the Eastern Seas. He was Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen when he controversially set up an EIC trading post in Singapore.

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An East India Company Officer
Circa 1824
Here are the reasons for my dissatisfaction with you, Farquhar:

1. Land allotment
William Farquhar highlighted in his memorial that this was a major issue of contention between the two of them. Stamford Raffles’ original plan included setting out certain land for the north bank of the Singapore River for government purposes. However, it was also the only area that was good for commercial activities, but Raffles designated the East Beach for business instead. The merchants complained that the site’s condition was inappropriate, and threatened to leave Singapore. To quell their anger and seeing merit in their argument, Farquhar provisionally granted them permission to build on the north bank.
was irregular and you made a mess of my original town planning instructions. You also claimed prime tracts of land for yourself and your family.

2. Your administration has been a constant problem, like how you abolished the commissariat department without authority. Singapore has grown beyond your ability to manage it.

3. Your Malay Connexion with Nonio Clement impedes your administration and provides an opening for special interests to fester.

4. Your favouritism towards your son
William Farquhar denied the claim that he showed his son favour over the issue of rice exports, despite an official prohibition. In his memorial, he called the charge “erroneous and altogether without foundation”. In rebutting Stamford Raffles’ accusations, he explained that his son was acting on behalf of Eurasian merchant Claude Queiros and that Scottish businessman Alexander Laurie Johnston had also received a permit at the same time.
was obvious when you only granted him, and not other merchants, a rice export permit. You also tried profiting off opium imports, giving cause for speculation by other public officials.
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