66 Facts About Stamford Raffles


Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles was a British colonial official who served as one of the British Governors of the Dutch East Indies between 1811 and 1816, and Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen between 1818 and 1824.


The running of day-to-day operations on Singapore was mostly done by William Farquhar, but Stamford Raffles was the one who got all the credit.


In 1795, at the age of 14, Stamford Raffles started working as a clerk in London for the British East India Company, the trading company that shaped many of Britain's overseas conquests.


Nine years later, in 1804, the 23-year-old Stamford Raffles married Olivia Mariamne Devenish, a widow ten years his senior, who was formerly married to Jacob Cassivelaun Fancourt, an assistant surgeon in Madras, who had died in 1800.


Stamford Raffles started with a post, as assistant secretary, under the Honourable Philip Dundas, the new Governor of Penang.


In 1811, after the annexation of the Kingdom of Holland by France during Napoleon's war, Stamford Raffles had no choice but to leave the country.


Stamford Raffles mounted a military expedition against the Dutch and French in Java, in the Dutch East Indies.


The British invasion of Java took a total of forty-five days, during which Stamford Raffles was appointed the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies by Baron Minto before hostilities formally ceased.


Stamford Raffles took his residence at Buitenzorg, and despite having a small subset of Britons as his senior staff, kept many of the Dutch civil servants in the governmental structure.


Stamford Raffles seized much of the contents of the court archive.


Stamford Raffles ordered an expedition to Palembang in Sumatra to unseat the local sultan, Mahmud Badaruddin II, and to seize the nearby Bangka Island to set up a permanent British presence in the area, in the case of the return of Java to Dutch rule after the end of the War of the Sixth Coalition in Europe.


Stamford Raffles attempted a replacement of the Dutch system of forced agricultural deliveries-in-kind with a cash-based land tenure system of land management, probably influenced by the earlier anti-feudal critiques of Dirk van Hogendorp He was advised by a holdover from the previous Dutch regime on Java, the president of the High Court of Java, Herman Warner Muntinghe, especially in the matter of the reform of the public finances of the colony, and its system of taxation.


Under Stamford Raffles's aegis, a large number of ancient monuments in Java were systematically catalogued for the first time.


Stamford Raffles had been removed from his post by the East India Company ahead of the handover, and officially replaced by John Fendall Jr.


Stamford Raffles sailed to England in early 1816 to clear his name and, en route, visited Napoleon, who was in exile at St Helena, but found him unpleasant and unimpressive.


In 1817, Stamford Raffles wrote and published The History of Java, describing the history of the island from ancient times as well as its geography, flora, and fauna.


In 1817, Stamford Raffles was created a Knight Bachelor by the Prince Regent George IV, whose daughter, Princess Charlotte, was particularly close to him.


Stamford Raffles arrived in Bencoolen on 19 March 1818, where he was appointed as the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen on 22 March 1818.


Stamford Raffles found the place wrecked, and set about reforms immediately, mostly similar to what he had done in Java; abolishing slavery and limiting cockfighting and such games.


Stamford Raffles looked into alternatives in the area; namely Bangka, which had been ceded to the Dutch after its conquest by the British during its occupation of Java.


Stamford Raffles sent Thomas Travers as an ambassador to the Dutch, to possibly negotiate an expansion of British economic interests.


Stamford Raffles asserted the British claim personally, leading a small expedition to the Sultanate of Minangkabau.


Yet, as Stamford Raffles confirmed with the sultan regarding the absolute British influence of the area, he realised that the local rulers had only limited power over the well-cultivated and civilised country, and the treaty was largely symbolic, and had little actual force.


Stamford Raffles noted it as a success, and reported it as such to Raffles.


Stamford Raffles sailed to Malacca in late 1818, to personally secure a British presence in the Riau area, especially Singapura, which was favoured by him both through the readings of Malayan histories, and by Farquhar's explorations.


However, Stamford Raffles was able to charm the man, and to reassure him that the Dutch posed no threat in the area.


Farquhar was officially named the Resident of Singapore, and Stamford Raffles was named as 'Agent to the Most Noble the Governor-General with the States of Rhio, Lingin and Johor'.


Stamford Raffles planned to start a British presence in Achin, on the northern tip of Sumatra.


Nonetheless, amidst uncertainty and intrigue, Stamford Raffles landed in Achin on 14 March 1819, with begrudging help of Penang.


The hostile atmosphere created allowed Stamford Raffles to cancel the only meeting he was able to arrange, with Panglima Polim, a powerful divisional chief, fearing treachery.


Finally Stamford Raffles was capable of convincing his fellow commissioners to sign a treaty with Jauhar al-Alam Shah, the ruler of Achin, which installed a British Resident, as well as guaranteeing the exclusivity of bilateral trade.


Stamford Raffles was determined to destroy the Dutch mercantile monopoly in the area, to replace it with a gateway for trade with China and Japan.


Stamford Raffles was still the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen when he returned.


Stamford Raffles started more reforms that were, by now, almost trademarks of his rule over the colonies.


Unlike the salutary neglect Stamford Raffles granted upon Singapore, he delayed European-inspired reforms, emphasising only the cultivation of whatever land was available.


The slave-debtor system was brought in, instead of the old slavery system that Stamford Raffles had abolished in Java, Borneo, and initially in Bencoolen.


Stamford Raffles looked into a long-term plan for the slow reform of Bencoolen.


Unlike many other European adventurers, Stamford Raffles did not impose upon the colonised the alien language or culture of the coloniser.


Colonel Bannerman's death in Penang in October 1819 brought new opportunities for Stamford Raffles to expand his power to include the other minor British factories and outposts; from Sumatra to Cochin China.


Stamford Raffles sailed to Calcutta, and as Lord Hastings sought to consolidate all of the small British possessions in the East Indies.


Stamford Raffles returned to Bencoolen in ill-health, but as his health improved, he continued on his quest to learn about the island he now called home.


Stamford Raffles studied the Batak cannibals of Tapanuli, and their rituals and laws regarding the consumption of human flesh, writing in detail about the transgressions that warranted such an act, as well as their methods.


Stamford Raffles noted the rise of the Sikh religion in certain parts of Sumatra.


Stamford Raffles found that Singapore's trade was slowly overtaking that of Java.


Stamford Raffles located other tribes, and recorded their customs, especially their religions and laws.


In Bencoolen, Stamford Raffles paid special attention to the agricultural methods of the Chinese, including an introduction to the only issue of Proceedings of the Agricultural Society.


Luckily, the Singapore issue had its supporters in the House, so as negotiations continued in Europe, Stamford Raffles remained largely idle in Bencoolen.


Public works, commissioned by Stamford Raffles but undertaken by Farquhar, were becoming overwhelmingly expensive.


Stamford Raffles was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1822.


Stamford Raffles was pleased with the fact that Singapore had grown exponentially in such a short period of time.


Stamford Raffles supervised the leveling of a small hill south of Singapore River to create Commercial Square.


Stamford Raffles dismissed Farquhar in April 1823, and took direct control.


Stamford Raffles had written to Calcutta declaring Farquhar to be incompetent in January 1823, and repeated efforts were made to persuade Calcutta to send a replacement for Farquhar; but they remained unanswered.


Stamford Raffles made Johor a British protectorate, raising a protest from Van der Capellen.


Stamford Raffles convened a meeting on 1 April 1823, with the intention of opening a Malay college in Singapore, based on his observations on his years in southeast Asia, and his belief of the importance of both the local and the European languages.


Stamford Raffles personally gave $2,000 towards the effort, the East India Company gave $4,000, with the contributions from various subscribers totalling $17,495.


Stamford Raffles worked on drafting laws, defining exactly 'what' constituted a criminal act.


Stamford Raffles caught fire 50 miles from Bencoolen the evening after she sailed.


Stamford Raffles finally returned to England on 22 August 1824, over a year after he left Singapore.


Stamford Raffles made plans to stand for parliament, but this ambition was never realised.


Stamford Raffles was elected a member of the Linnean Society of London on 5 February 1825.


Stamford Raffles was a founder and first president of the Zoological Society of London and the London Zoo.


Stamford Raffles replied by clarifying his actions: and he decided to move to his country estate, Highwood, North London, but before the issue was resolved, he was already much too ill.


Stamford Raffles died at Highwood House in Mill Hill, north London, on his 45th birthday, on 5 July 1826, of apoplexy.


Stamford Raffles's estate amounted to around ten thousand pounds sterling, which was paid to the company to cover his outstanding debt.


Stamford Raffles was survived by his second wife Sophia Hull and daughter Ella, and predeceased by his other four children in Bencoolen.