Raffles and his East Indiamen

What a coincidence that India celebrates its independence on August 15 while Singapore’s National Day is August 9. Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, arrived on the island in on 29 January 1819 from Calcutta (now Kolkata) in India. Even the ship he sailed on was named Indiana. I couldn’t find details of the ship but here are pictures of other East Indiamen, as they were called, built in India.

East Indiaman HMS Trincomalee

East Indiaman HMS Trincomalee

This ship, HMS Trincomalee, was built in Bombay (now Mumbai) and launched in 1817. It’s still there in Britain. See this report, which was published with this picture.

Ship built in Calcutta

Ship built in Calcutta

The HMS Hastings was built in Calcutta for the East India Company but was bought by the Royal Navy in 1819. It was sold by the navy in 1886, according to Wikipedia.

Raffles was born on his father Captain Benjamin Raffles’ ship off the island of Jamaica on 6 July 1781. He arrived in Singapore at the age of 35.

The Singapore Chronicle (below) was the island’s first newspaper. First issued on 1 January 1824, it folded up in 1837.

Singapore Chronicle, Singapore's first newspaper, a page from 1833

The Chronicle page you are seeing here is dated 28 February 1833, and has some historical interest. It carries a notice that a Robert Diggles has been appointed trustee for the estate of Naraina Pilley, whose house and property would be sold to settle his debts. Pillai, an Indian merchant from Penang, arrived with Raffles and built the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore – the Mariamman temple dating back to 1827. He cleared his debts and prospered again. You can read more about him in Wikipedia. Here is the link to the page in the Singapore National Library’s archive.

This is how Raffles’ arrival in Singapore is described in Infopedia:

In December 1818, Raffles left Calcutta in search of a new British settlement to replace Malacca. Malacca was one of the many British territories given back to the Dutch as part of a war treaty. Raffles had foreseen that without a strategic British trading post located within the Straits Settlement, the Dutch could gain control of the Straits Settlement trade. Raffles arrived in Singapore on board a ship called Indiana on 29 January 1819. Accompanied by William Farquhar and a sepoy, he met the Temenggong Abdul Rahman to negotiate for a British factory to be established on the island. On 6 February 1819, he signed an official treaty with Sultan Hussein and Temenggong Abdul Rahman, and subsequently the Union Jack Flag was raised officially.

Published by Abhijit

Abhijit loves reading and writing.

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