Sir Stamford Raffles
Raffles was a colonial administrator was is best known for founding a trading post on the island of Singapore. He was born in 1781 off Morant Bay, Jamaica, the son of a sea cook. At the age of fourteen he was given a clerkship in the East India Company and having risen through the ranks of the Company was sent to Penang in 1805 as secretary to the Company’s agency there. At the age of 30, in 1811 he was instrumental in the taking of Java from the Dutch and was made Java’s Lieutenant Governor. Raffles served four years as Lieutenant Governor during which time he changed the system of land tenure and totally reformed the internal administration. His sale of public lands was heavily criticised, and he was recalled to London in 1814 only to be exonerated. He had gained a thorough understanding of the East Indies and he used this information to write a book entitled History of Java, published in 1817, the year in which he received a knighthood.
Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Raffles was given further duties in the East Indies . He took charge of the Company’s settlement at Bengkulu, in western Sumatra and he was the leading voice for the purchase of Singapore in 1819 as a trading post. In his short period of rule in the area the foundations were laid for the colony’s subsequent growth into the most important trading base between Calcutta and Hong Kong. He returned to Europe in 1824 wanting to write a scholarly work on his time in the East Indies but his papers were lost in a fire. During the remaining years of his life he helped to set up the first Zoological Society of which he became President.