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Title: Prisoners Their Own Warders - A Record of the Convict Prison at Singapore in the Straits - Settlements Established 1825
Author: McNair, John Frederick Adolphus, 1828-1910, Bayliss, W. D.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: _Frontispiece_



  THE YEAR 1797


  _Late Royal Artillery, C.M.G., A.M.I.C.E., F.L.S., and F.R.G.S
  Late Colonial Engineer and Surveyor General and
  Comptroller of Indian Convicts
  Straits Settlements from 1857 to 1877
  Author of "Perak and the Malays"
  (Sarong and Kris)_


  _Mem. Soc. Engineers Lond., Late Superintendent of Works and
  Surveys and Superintendent of Convicts, Singapore_


  "A willing bondman."
                (_Julius Caesar_, Act I., Sc. 3)







Some explanation appears to be due from us for writing this account of
the Singapore Convict Jail so long after the date of its final

The truth is, that for several years it has been our opinion that it
ought to be written by some one, and the same suggestion had often been
made to one of us by the late Doctor Mouat, Inspector General of Jails,
Bengal, and others who were well acquainted with its administration.

An opportunity lately occurred to bring us into communication on the
subject, and when we came to compare the voluminous notes that each of
us had collected during the time that the jail was in full vigour, we
arrived at the conclusion that there was abundant material for a work
upon it. It also appeared to us that there were some exceptional
features in the training and discipline of these native convicts, that
might even at this day prove of service to other Superintendents of
native jails in different parts of India and the Colonies; while, at the
same time, such a work would not be devoid of some interest to those who
make a study of the punishment and reformation of the criminal class of
all countries, a subject in regard to which, in spite of the great
progress we have made, the last word has certainly not yet been said.

This, then, is our apology for the attempt we have made, and we trust
that our joint labours may be received with indulgence.

When this old Singapore jail was put an end to in 1873, some six years
after the transfer of the Straits Settlements to the Crown, the convicts
then under confinement were removed to the Andaman Islands, at that time
not long established as a penal settlement for India; while those on a
ticket-of-leave were permitted to merge into the population, continuing
to earn their livelihood as artizans, cow keepers, cart drivers, and the
like. Those who were old and infirm were retained at Singapore at the
expense of the Indian Government, and a certain number of convicts from
Hongkong were returned to that colony to complete their sentences. There
remained, therefore, only the local prisoners to be dealt with, and for
these, under the subsequent orders of the Colonial Government, was
planned and constructed by our Department, and under our supervision, a
spacious prison on the cellular system, and situated on a more healthy
site than the old convict jail, which had become surrounded by the
buildings of the town.

We should much like to have given a consecutive history of this old jail
from the date of its first construction until it was finally abolished,
but unfortunately the jail registers have not been carefully kept from
the beginning, or are not forthcoming; but we have had access to some
old scattered letters and papers, and to statistics from the year 1844,
since which time the records have been regularly kept from year to year.

A good deal of useful information has also come within our reach from
works written upon Singapore and the Straits Settlements, and especially
are we indebted to an _Anecdotal History of Singapore_, published by the
_Free Press_, and extending from the year 1822 to 1856, which gives an
interesting account of our early occupation of that island, and of the
use to which the labour of these convicts was turned.

From the Memoirs of _Sir Stamford Raffles_, written by his widow in
1830, and from his _Life_ by Demetrius Charles Boulger, in 1897, we have
been able to trace that, so far back as the year 1823, there were
between 800 and 900 of these Indian convicts at our settlement of
Bencoolen, on the south-west coast of Sumatra; and that, when this place
was conceded to the Dutch by the London treaty of 1825, these convicts
were removed to Penang, and were subsequently distributed amongst the
three settlements of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore. This distribution
would in all probability have taken place about the year 1825, when
Singapore was incorporated with Penang and Malacca, under the Governor
and Council of the Incorporated Settlements.

We think the account which we are about to give of the various
employments of these Indian convicts at Singapore, will abundantly show
how considerably this important settlement has benefited by their early
introduction. They made most of the roads in the settlement, including
timber bridges, viaducts and tunnels, and executed for the Government
many important public buildings. Moreover, when released from
imprisonment upon a ticket-of-leave, they were absorbed innoxiously into
the native community, and again contributed to the advantage of the
place in the various occupations they had recourse to, in order to
obtain an honest livelihood. By a judicious system of rewards, and a
graduated scale of promotion, a very remarkable spirit of industry was
infused into the bulk of these convicts during their incarceration, and
it may be honestly said that this was effected without the sacrifice of
that wholesome discipline always essential in the control especially of
the criminal class.

We could not, of course, interfere with their religion, but by a
well-judged scale of punishments and rewards, and by instruction given
to them in their own vernacular, we endeavoured to raise their character
by helping them to good conduct, and to a better way of living. To
encourage and foster that industry to which we have referred, we taught
them the trades to which each of them appeared to be best adapted, and
held out to them the hope that they might again become good citizens,
and earn for themselves a creditable subsistence; and, as it was our
practice to deal with each of them "individually," we were often made
aware that there was many an honest heart immured within those prison

In the narrative we have given of the Settlements, it may seem that we
have dwelt at too great length upon their early history, but we thought
it would add to the interest of the work, if we gave what is really only
a limited sketch of the various places to which those Indian convicts
were first banished beyond the seas.

In the initiation of the system of industrial training among these
convicts, special credit is due to the late General (then Captain) Man,
who in his early years had been trained at Chatham as a sapper. The late
Colonel Macpherson, who succeeded him, carried on and improved the
system, and both these officers were well seconded in their efforts by
the late Mr. J. Bennett, C.E., who practically was their clerk of the
works. Mr. Bennett subsequently rose to a high position in the

It would be impossible to mention the names of all the subordinate
staff, but Burnett, Stuart, and Lamb are prominent in our recollection
as having done good service as warders and instructors.

In 1864, the Resident of Rhio, Java, Mr. E. Netscher, was appointed by
the Dutch Government to study and report upon the convict system in
force in Singapore, and both the Siam and Japan Governments sent special
missions for the like purpose, the mission from Japan being accompanied
by Mr. Hall, of the British Consulate. Many others, also, recorded their
opinions in its favour, and some among them were authorities upon prison
systems pursued in some parts of both Europe and America.

The local government, we should add, in their direction of this convict
establishment, fully recognised that the distinctive feature in the
native mind was to look to one rather than to many masters, to one
European executive officer rather than to a collective body of
magistrates, and, therefore, beyond that general supervision which the
Government must ever assume over its Departments, it committed the whole
of the management, discipline, and control of this large body of
convicts entirely to their Superintendent, under the approved rules and
regulations for his guidance, and for the administration of the whole

  J. F. A. McNAIR, R.A., C.M.G.



  Chapter I


  Chapter II


  Chapter III

  OF CONVICTS THERE                           25

  Chapter IV

  SYSTEM AND ADMINISTRATION                   31

  Chapter V

  SINGAPORE (CONTINUED)                       47

  Chapter VI

  SINGAPORE (CONTINUED)                       59

  Chapter VII

  SINGAPORE (CONTINUED)                       75

  Chapter VIII

  FOOD AND CLOTHING                           84

  Chapter IX

  PUBLIC WORKS AND INDUSTRIES                 96

  Chapter X

  EUROPEAN LOCAL PRISONERS                   113

  Chapter XI

  AND DISPOSAL OF THE CONVICTS               143

  Chapter XII

  DISEASES AND MALINGERING                   147

  Chapter XIII

  CONCLUSION                                 156

  APPENDICES                                 169

  List of Illustrations and Plates

  SINGAPORE JAIL                                   _Frontispiece_

                                                     TO FACE PAGE

  DUFFADAR ARJOON                                               v

  Plate I

  OLD MAP SHOWING PENAL SETTLEMENTS                             1

  Plate II

  FORT CORNWALLIS, PENANG                                      14

  Plate III


  Plate IV

  OLD MALACCA                                                  26

  Plate V

  ALBUQUERQUE                                                  26

  Plate VI

  MALACCA RIVER                                                28

  Plate VII

  ST. FRANCIS XAVIER                                           28

  Plate VIII

  TOWN AND ENVIRONS OF SINGAPORE                               31

  Plate IX

  ORIGINAL HUTS FOR CONVICTS, SINGAPORE                        39

  Plate X


  Plate XI

  MAIN GATE OF SINGAPORE JAIL                                  78

  Plate XII

  DUFFADAR RAM SINGH                                           84

  Plate XIII

  HEAD TINDAL MAISTRI                                          86

  Plate XIV

  CONVICT OF SECOND CLASS AND MUNSHI                           88

  Plate XV


  Plate XVA

  CHETOO--CONVICT OF FIFTH CLASS                               92

  Plate XVI

  CATHEDRAL, SINGAPORE                                         97

  Plate XVII


  Plate XVIII


  Plate XIX


  Plate XX

  CONVICTS STONE-QUARRYING                                    111

[Illustration: Plate I.]

Chapter I


In opening this account of the old convict jail at Singapore, it will be
necessary to refer, as we have said, in some little detail to the
history of the settlements of Bencoolen, Penang, and Malacca, to which
convicts from India were first sent, prior to their reception into the
Singapore prison.

The first penal settlement was Bencoolen, the Banka-Ulu[1] of the
Malays, to which they were transported from India about the year 1787,
much about the same time that transportation to Australia for English
convicts was sanctioned by our laws.

    [Footnote 1: Literally, swollen at the source.]

Bencoolen was singularly adapted as a receptacle for convict labour; it
was not a populous place when we took it in 1685, nor, as far as we can
gather, had the population much increased up to the year 1787, and the
few Sumatrans and Malays that were its inhabitants were an indolent
race, and preferred a life of ease to any kind of labour. They were
content to get their livelihood from fishing, and they had no artificial
wants. They would occasionally work upon pepper plantations, and would
bring the berries to Bencoolen for sale to British merchants. Labour was
therefore wanted here, and the East India Company thought that by its
introduction they would make of Bencoolen a thriving settlement; but as
it turned out they were greatly disappointed, for both pepper and
camphor, which were the only commodities there for trade, greatly
declined; and commerce, which was all-important to the East India
Company, almost entirely disappeared after its establishment for some
few years. It was a miserable place from all accounts, and was described
by Captain James Lowe, in 1836, "as an expensive port, and of no use to
any nation that might possess it," and he only echoed what was
previously said of it by William Dampier, who had once been there in the
humble position of a gunner, that it was "a sorry place, sorrily
governed, and very unhealthy." So unhealthy was it, that it became
necessary as early as 1714 to remove the Residency and offices to a
point of land about two miles further off the coast, which was called
Fort Marlborough; but even this locality was found not to be beyond the
reach of malaria, and the place continued, as Crawfurd says, to be more
or less unhealthy down to the cession of the settlement in 1825. But it
had, however, done its work in providing for us a firm footing in those
seas, and was a help to the next step in our progress towards a wider

It is important to relate here that its last Lieut.-Governor was the
founder of our now important settlement of Singapore. He took up the
appointment at Bencoolen on the 20th March, 1818, founded Singapore in
1819, returned to Bencoolen in 1820, and finally left for England in

It is not our present purpose to dwell upon the intellectual and moral
greatness of this remarkable man, for full justice has been done to his
memory in the recent account of his life by Demetrius Boulger, and by an
impressive tribute to his worth by General Sir Andrew Clarke, R.E.,
G.C.M.G., in a paper read by him in May last at the Royal Institution.

It is of course impossible at this late date to trace what was done in
connection with the convicts on their first arrival at this settlement,
though we gather from old letters that they were employed principally
upon road-making, and on clearing estates which, "owing to their owners
having died intestate, had reverted to the State." They were also let
out to planters on a guarantee as to their not quitting the settlement.

The first authentic information we have in regard to the management and
treatment of these convicts is from a letter to the Government by Sir
Stamford Raffles, written from Bencoolen in 1818; which we give bodily
from his Life, written by his widow in 1830. It is a paper which gives
evidence of the soundness of his views upon this subject, and indeed it
may be truly said, that with every question with which he had to deal he
always displayed the greatest judgment and keenness of insight.

It is as follows:--

    "But there is another class of people that call for immediate
    consideration. Since 1787 a number of persons have been
    transported to this place from Bengal for various crimes of
    which they have been found guilty.

    The object of the punishment as far as it affects the parties
    must be the reclaiming them from their bad habits, but I much
    question whether the practice hitherto pursued has been
    productive of that effect. This I apprehend to be, in a great
    measure, in consequence of sufficient discrimination and
    encouragement not having been shown in favour of those most
    inclined to amendment, and perhaps to the want of a
    discretionary power in the chief authority to remit a portion
    of the punishment and disgrace which is at present the common
    lot of all. It frequently happens that men of notoriously bad
    conduct are liberated at the expiration of a limited period of
    transportation, whilst others, whose general conduct is perhaps
    unexceptional, are doomed to servitude till the end of their

    As coercive measures are not likely to be attended with
    success, I conceive that some advantage would arise from
    affording inducements to good conduct by holding out the
    prospect of again becoming useful members of society, and
    freeing themselves from the disabilities under which they
    labour. There are at present about 500 of these unfortunate
    people. However just the original sentence may have been, the
    crimes and characters of so numerous a body must necessarily be
    very unequal, and it is desirable that some discrimination
    should be exerted in favour of those who show the disposition
    to redeem their character. I would suggest the propriety of the
    chief authority being vested with a discretionary power of
    freeing such men as conduct themselves well from the obligation
    of service, and permitting them to settle in the place and
    resume the privileges of citizenship. The prospect of
    recovering their characters, of freeing themselves from their
    present disabilities, and the privileges of employing their
    industry for their own advantage would become an object of
    ambition, and supply a stimulus to exertion and good conduct
    which is at present wanting.

    It rarely happens that any of those transported have any desire
    to leave the country; they form connections in the place, and
    find so many inducements to remain, that to be sent away is
    considered by most a severe punishment.

    While a convict remains unmarried and kept to daily labour very
    little confidence can be placed in him, and his services are
    rendered with so much tardiness and dissatisfaction that they
    are of little or no value; but he no sooner marries and forms a
    small settlement than he becomes a kind of colonist, and if
    allowed to follow his inclinations he seldom feels inclined to
    return to his native country.

    I propose to divide them into three classes. The first class to
    be allowed to give evidence in court, and permitted to settle
    on land secured to them and their children; but no one to be
    admitted to this class until he has been resident in Bencoolen
    three years. The second class to be employed in ordinary
    labour. The third class, or men of abandoned and profligate
    character, to be kept to the harder kinds of labour, and
    confined at night.

    In cases of particular good conduct a prospect may be held out
    of emancipating deserving convicts from further obligation of
    services on condition of their supporting themselves and not
    quitting the settlement.

    Upon the abstract question of the advantage of this arrangement
    I believe there will be little difference of opinion. The
    advantage of holding out an adequate motive of exertion is
    sufficiently obvious, and here it would have the double
    tendency of diminishing the bad characters and of increasing
    that of useful and industrious settlers, thereby facilitating
    the general police of the country and diminishing the expenses
    of the Company."

These intentions were acted upon afterwards, and the good effects of
the regulations were soon apparent; a large body of people who had been
living in the lowest state of degradation soon became useful labourers
and happy members of society. So grateful were they for the change, that
when they were sent round to Penang on the transfer of Bencoolen to the
Dutch in 1825, as we have stated, they entreated to be placed on the
same footing as they had been placed at Fort Marlborough, and not
reduced to the state of the convicts in Prince of Wales Island, who were
kept as a Government gang to be employed wherever their services might
be thought most desirable.

Upon December 20th, 1823, Sir Stamford Raffles wrote a further letter to
Government in regard to these convicts, of which we can only give an
extract, which runs thus--

    "As the management of convicts ought to be a subject of
    consideration, I send you a copy of the regulations established
    for those of this place. The convicts now at Bencoolen amount
    to 800 or 900, and the number is gradually increasing. They are
    natives of Bengal and Madras; that is to say, of those
    presidencies. The arrangement has been brought about gradually,
    but the system now appears complete, and, as far as we have yet
    gone, has been attended with the best effects. I have entrusted
    Mr. John Hull with the superintending of the department, and he
    feels great pleasure and satisfaction in the general
    improvement of this class of people."

It is greatly to be regretted that we have been unable to obtain a copy
of the regulations to which Sir Stamford Raffles refers, but we have no
doubt they formed the basis of what were hereafter called the "Penang

It was, as we have said, in the year 1825 that the whole of the
Bencoolen convicts were transferred to Penang, and thence, as
opportunities offered later on, to Malacca and Singapore. One point we
trace in regard to those convicts is that, greatly to their
disappointment, they missed the freedom they had possessed at Bencoolen,
for they were sent to work in gangs upon the roads, and in levelling
ground near the town of Penang. At first they were tried at jungle
cutting and burning, but had no aptitude for it. This work was therefore
entrusted to Malays, who we all know have a natural bent for cutting
down trees and underwood, and are possessed of implements wonderfully
suited for the purpose.

We may remark here that transportation in those early times had its
terrors both to the European from our shores to Australia, and to the
native of India to these settlements, and more especially to the latter.

Though, by a system of "assignment" or "compulsory" servitude to
masters, or by a ticket of leave which made it open to the European
criminal to work for whom and where he pleased, expatriation became in
time to be less severely felt; still, for a long period it continued to
act as a deterrent to others, though to the convict himself it was
"greater in idea perhaps than in reality." To the native of India it
meant even a severer punishment than to the European, for to be sent
across the "kala pani," or "black water," in a convict ship or "jeta
junaza," or "living tomb" as they called it, meant, especially to a man
of high caste, whether of the right or left hand section, the total loss
to him of all that was worth living for. He could never be received in
intercourse again with his own people, and so strong are the caste ideas
of ceremonial uncleanness that it would be defilement to his friends and
relations even to offer to him sustenance of any kind, and he was in
point of fact excommunicated and avoided. Happily this dread of caste
defilement has now, by railway communication over the country and
equalization of classes under our rule, greatly diminished, but it is
still, as Balfour says, "a prominent feature in every-day Hindu life."
Sir Stamford Raffles' views as to the treatment of those transported
convicts have in the main been recognised by all authorities in the
Straits Settlements since his time; and his suggestion as to the
privileges to be granted to men of the first class, though not defined
by him as a "ticket of leave," has been all along kept in view, and was
in regular force in the jail of which we treat. He divided his convicts
into three classes only, but as time went on they were separated into
six classes, and later on in the narrative will be given the reasons for
this enlargement of the number. Dr. Mouat, Inspector General of Jails,
Bengal, in a paper read before the Statistical Society some few years
ago, spoke of this jail and the ticket-of-leave system as follows:--

    "I visited the Straits Settlements in 1861 when under the rule
    of my friend, Sir Orfeur Cavenagh, and found in existence a
    system of industrial training of convicts superior to anything
    we had at that time on the continent of India. It was said to
    have been inaugurated by the celebrated Sir Stamford Raffles in
    1825, when Singapore was first selected for the transportation
    of convicts from India, and to have been subsequently organised
    and successfully worked by General H. Man, Colonel MacPherson,
    and Major McNair. The ticket-of-leave system was in full and
    effective operation, and very important public works have been
    constructed by means of convict labour, chief amongst them St.
    Andrew's Cathedral, a palace for the Governor, and most of the
    roads. The ticket-of-leave convicts were said to be a
    well-conducted, industrious lot of men, who very rarely
    committed fresh crimes, who all earned an honest livelihood,
    and were regarded as respectable members of the community
    amongst whom they dwelt. The public works were creditable
    examples of prison industry and skill St. Andrew's Cathedral,
    built under Major McNair from plans prepared by Colonel
    MacPherson entirely by convict labour, struck me as one of the
    finest specimens of ecclesiastical architecture which I had
    seen in the East, and I believe there exists in no other
    country a more remarkable example of the successful industrial
    training of convicts."

We are not of course greatly concerned in this treatise with the
original crimes committed by those Indian convicts, and for which they
had received a sentence of transportation. Suffice it to say that their
warrants showed generally that, in the case of convicts for life, the
crimes were for the most part those of Murder, Thuggee, and Dacoity;
while those sentenced to a term of years had been tried and convicted of
frauds and forgeries, robbery with violence, and such like
misdemeanours. "Thuggee," we all know, though it will bear repetition
here, was in full operation all over India from very early times, but at
the beginning of this century it engaged the serious attention of the
Indian Government; and it was found to be an hereditary pursuit of
certain families who worked in gangs--the Hindus to satisfy their
goddess Bhawani, and other sects the goddess Devi--and they committed a
countless number of murders all over the country. Thugs were a bold,
resolute set of men, and as a rule divided themselves into groups
consisting of a leader, a persuader, a strangler, a scout, and a
gravedigger, but all the gangs, happily for India, were finally broken
up under Colonel Sleeman about 1860. Some of the men were hanged, and
many transported to our penal settlements in the Straits of Malacca.
Dacoity was in some parts of India akin to Thuggee, for the leaders
carried with them in the same way a sacred implement, which was devoted
to Bhawani. In the case of the Thugs this was a pickaxe, but with the
Dacoits it was an axe with a highly-tempered edge.

In the early days we talk of, it was the common practice of the
authorities to brand these life convicts with a hot iron to indicate the
character of their crime, and this was in some cases done upon the
forehead both in the English language and in the vernacular of the
district where the crime was committed. This was very properly put a
stop to shortly after the custom became known. We have seen some of
those in our jail who, by good conduct, have risen to a ticket of leave,
using their utmost endeavours to get rid of the marks, but without
effect; and finally as a last resource they were obliged to be content
to hide the "stigma" by wearing their turbans, or head-dresses,
inconveniently low down over their brows.

It is worthy of remark here, in reference to those native criminals who
are in the habit of working in gangs, more especially among the Thugs,
how signally they often fail when they attempt to act alone. Amongst our
Thugs we had one (a strangler) who, coveting a pair of gold bangles on
the wrist of a fellow-convict employed at the General Hospital, one
night tried the handkerchief upon him, but missed his mark, and got away
without being detected. Later on, the convict authorities examined the
warrants of all the men at the hospital, and this gave them a clue,
which they followed up successfully and caught the "Thug." He was
punished, and then confessed, saying, "Bhawani was unkind, and I could
not do it by myself; I missed my companions," or "saubutwalé" as he
called them, literally meaning those "I kept company with."

It will not be inappropriate to mention here the callous and brutalized
nature of those gang-robbers, of whom it is recorded that, when one of
their gang was suddenly arrested, they at once decapitated him, and
carried off the head, lest the whole gang should be betrayed.

Chapter II


Penang, also named "Prince of Wales" Island as a compliment to the then
Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. This name for the island has
become almost obsolete, and the Malay name Pi'nang, for the "Areka
Palm," which flourishes there, is that by which it is now always known.
It is situated at the northern extremity of the Malacca Straits, and was
ceded to us by the Rajah of Kedah in 1785, when we gave up, but only for
a time, our British settlement on the North Andaman, which we had
acquired in 1789 and abandoned in 1796. Province Wellesley, opposite to
Penang, upon the Malay Peninsula, was thirteen years later taken by us
for the purpose of suppressing piracy, and forms part of this British
settlement. The island has an area of 107 square miles, and the province
of 270 square miles. Another dependency of the settlement since 1889 is
the Dindings with the Island of Pangkor, where the treaty of 1874 was
made by Sir Andrew Clarke, and which eventually led to our protectorate
of several of the native states of the Malay Peninsula, and their
complete federation in 1896.


_Plate II._]

When Penang was first occupied it was almost uninhabited, and the whole
island was covered with the densest jungle, but it was not long before
Captain Light, who was appointed the first Superintendent of Trade, made
a road to the highest point of the island, then called "Bel retiro" but
now Penang Hill.[2] A great part of the island was soon cleared and
roads made, so that in 1792, seven years after it came into our hands,
Captain Light was able to report that the population had increased to
10,000 souls; this increase of population has been steadily going on
from year to year, until, with its dependencies, Penang, after a little
more than a century, now numbers no less than 240,000.

    [Footnote 2: There is an old legend in the island that Captain
    Light, in order to encourage the Malays in the work of cutting
    down the jungle, pointed a cannon in the direction in which he
    required it to be cleared, then he loaded it with powder, and
    instead of a shot he put in several dollars, and firing it off
    he called out to the Malays, "Now you may have all you can

    It is said that the eager contest which ensued, of one
    endeavouring to get the money before another, led to a regular
    scramble, which considerably helped forward the work.]

Since 1825, when the Indian convicts from Bencoolen were added to those
already on the island, their labour was almost wholly turned to account
in the construction of roads both on the island and in the province; but
about 1850 some intramural work was also undertaken. The gangs in the
province were at last taught to cut and burn the jungle as well as to
construct the roads, and the records say at some risk from tigers which
infested the province in those days, and occasionally carried off a
straggler from the gangs at work. They were also bitten in large numbers
by the venomous hamadryads which used to abound there, and from the
poison of which some died.

About the time our treatise commences, Penang had acquired the monopoly
of the trade of the Malayan Peninsula and Sumatra. It also had a large
traffic with China, Siam, Borneo, the Celebes, and other places in the
Eastern Archipelago; but after the establishment later on of Singapore
it had begun to decline, and the settlement then became second only in
commercial importance. But within the last quarter of a century the
trade has considerably revived, owing largely to the planting of tobacco
in Sumatra by European planters, and the annexation of the native states
of the Malayan Peninsula, both of which have constituted Penang the
chief shipping centre for their produce.

Before we pass on to treat of the Singapore jail, it will be well
briefly to describe the method pursued in dealing with the Indian
convicts on their first arrival in Penang, as far back as we can trace
any definite notice in regard to them. They were confined at the outset
in the then existing prison known as "Chowrusta Lines," situated on the
Penang road; but this proving to be too small to accommodate all the
convicts from India, a larger and more commodious prison was built on
the opposite side of the road. It consisted of an enclosure, surrounded
by a high brick wall, subdivided into yards, in each of which were
erected the wards or dormitories. These were simply long rooms open to
the high roof, having windows on either side secured by iron bars. Iron
gates closed the doorways to each ward, which were locked at night. A
gangway seven to eight feet wide ran the whole length of the ward, and
sleeping platforms about seven feet wide extended to the full length of
the ward on either side of this gangway. The hospital ward was similar
to the others, except that it was a two-storied building, and cots were
provided instead of the continuous sleeping platforms. The hospital and
women's ward were all within the enclosure in a separate yard. Warders'
and apothecary's quarters were provided at the main entrance to the
prison. Cooking places for the different castes and latrines were
constructed in each yard; a military guard room, food and clothing
stores were also supplied. Little can be said in favour of this prison,
as the wards were ill-ventilated, and the sanitary arrangements were
very imperfect. All the prisoners were in a somewhat lax system of
association, except those undergoing punishment in cells. Prior to the
receipt of the convicts from Bencoolen, Penang itself, as a penal
settlement, had already been supplied from India with a number of
transported criminals of all tribes and castes, who were working in
gangs under free warders; but from vacancies and dismissals, and the
consequent inability to supply the place of these warders, where free
labour of the kind required was not obtainable, an attempt was then made
to enlist the services of well-behaved convicts to oversee their
fellow-prisoners. But it does not appear to have at all succeeded at
that time, and we have it on record that the Governor in Council at
Penang, in the year 1827, deemed it necessary to revise the regulations
under which these Indian convicts were controlled; and accordingly we
learn that a committee was appointed to assemble at Penang in November,
1827, when a code of revised rules was drawn up, and the following
comment was made by the committee as to the employment of convicts as
warders: "With regard to the present system of employing convicts as
tindals and sirdars, the committee think it very objectionable, as it is
impossible that men so intimately connected with those over whom they
are placed can exercise that authority and control which is so essential
in the management of such a body of men as the convicts. The duties at
present performed by these servants are provided for in the proposed
increase to the establishment."

These rules, subsequently known as the "Penang Rules," received the
sanction of the Governor in Council, and were sent for guidance to the
Resident Councillor at Singapore, to which settlement some few convicts
had already been sent. This remark of the Penang committee, which in all
fairness we have quoted, was doubtless quite true at the time when it
was penned, and when the system of employing prisoners as warders was in
its infancy, and, moreover, when the whole prison discipline was
acknowledged to be in more or less an indifferent state; but, as will
hereafter be shown, it did not hold good when the system was well
established, and the choice of warders was made from those classes best
suited for the control of their fellow-prisoners, especially in the
outstations, or "commands" as they were called, where gangs of convicts
were placed under their control in the construction and repairs of roads
or in stone-quarrying.

In these early days, no organised system of industrial employment
appears to have been carried on in this Penang jail, and no intramural
workshops of any kind were provided, the convicts being employed almost
exclusively on extramural works, such as opening up roads on the Penang
Hill and throughout the island, and in Province Wellesley; also in
brick-making, felling timber, burning lime, and reclaiming mangrove
swamps. The ground on which some portion of the present town is built
was filled up by convict labour. Much later on, however, in the Fifties,
rattan work was introduced into the prison, and easy chairs, lounging
chairs, baskets, and other articles of a very substantial quality were
manufactured and sold to the public at a higher price than that for
which the same articles could be purchased in the town, but they were
far superior both in the quality of rattan and in their make. About the
year 1860, blacksmiths' and carpenters' shops were established in the
prison, and on the different "commands" in the country districts.

The ordinary discipline of the jail was carried out in accordance with
the "Penang Rules" referred to, and any breach of these rules was
punished according to the nature of the offence, at the discretion of
the Superintendent. There was then no formal investigation or inquiry
into convict complaints or misdemeanours, and no records of them were
kept with any show of regularity. It was only after the appointment of
the late General Man as Resident Councillor of Penang, Captain Hilliard
being Superintendent, that a manifest improvement in the management and
control of the convicts took place, and especially in their industrial
training. He brought with him the system in force in Singapore, and the
new rules and regulations formed with the sanction of the Governor, then
Colonel Butterworth, and which were an improvement on the old Penang
rules, but were only at this time being tentatively carried out in
Penang. By these rules the entire abolition of free warders was
approved, and petty officers raised from amongst the convicts themselves
fully established, though as the Governor himself said in his letter to
the Resident Councillor of Singapore in August, 1854, "I had drawn up
these rules as long ago as 1845 in the face of much opposition."

The late General Man held the appointment at Penang from 1860 until
1867, when the Straits Settlements were transferred to the Crown, and
from Penang he went to the Andaman Islands to introduce there the system
of convict management in force in the Straits Settlements;[3] and with
the view to uniformity of practice, the Government of India had
previously deputed Major, now General, Forlong to prepare a code of
rules based on those in force in the Singapore jail.

    [Footnote 3: Now under the able management of Col. R. C.
    Temple, C.I.E.]

When the transfer was fully effected, the new office of Comptroller of
Indian Convicts was created, and the whole of those Indian convicts in
the three settlements were placed under his charge. The "Butterworth
Rules" remained in force, with certain alterations and improvements,
until the disestablishment of the whole department in 1873.

As many of the convicts were continued to be employed at Penang and
Province Wellesley on roads and works at a distance from the main jail,
it was necessary to provide accommodation for them in convict lines, or
"commands," as we have said, pronounced "kumman" by the convicts.[4] It
will be interesting to give some particulars about them: They consisted
of a stockaded fence, constructed of rough poles of wood from four to
six inches in diameter, and from ten to twelve feet long, set
perpendicularly in a trench about two feet deep, and placed close
together, being secured longitudinally by adze-dressed poles nailed
securely on the outside and along the top of them. The stockade enclosed
an area sufficient for the erection of the dormitory, cooking place, and
sheds for the bullocks employed in carts to convey road material, and
for protection also against the possible attacks of wild animals. The
walls of the dormitory were constructed in what is well known as "wattle
and daub." They were made with stout stakes driven firmly into the
ground at about one foot apart, twigs of trees were then interwoven, and
the whole then thickly plastered with a mixture of clay and cowdung, and
when this had become thoroughly dry it was coated with whitewash. This
formed both a substantial, and at the same time a sanitary walling,
which was frequently treated with a further coating of limewash made
thin. The dormitories were ten feet high, with a continuous open grating
of wooden bars at the top, under the eaves of the roof, for the purpose
of complete ventilation. The sleeping platforms were raised three feet
off the ground floor, which was covered with the same composition as
that of the walls, and the building was roofed with thatch. In the
centre of the dormitory an earthenware brazier of burning charcoal was
always maintained day and night, and occasionally crude fragrant gum
Benjamin was thrown upon it. The natives believe that an aromatic
perfume exhaled by fire keeps off all noxious effluvia; and we certainly
found that they were in better health from the use of this incense, and
from the fresh plastering of the floor every morning with cowdung
diluted with water, which is a common practice in most of the native
huts in India. This was regularly kept up by two convicts of the invalid
class, who also acted as caretakers. The entrance to the enclosure was
secured by a stout gate, which, after the roll was called, was locked
every night at nine o'clock. The number of convicts stationed on one
"command" averaged about thirty, and they were under the charge of a
responsible convict warder of the grade of a tindal, with a peon and two
orderlies and a native "moonshi," or timekeeper, to keep account of work
done, and to forward reports to the main jail. By a system of surprise
visits both day and night occasionally, we rarely found that any
irregularities occurred.

    [Footnote 4: Simpson, in his _Side Lights on Siberia_, uses
    "command" as denoting a jail outside of the prison walls.]

It has not been already mentioned that the local jails, or houses of
correction, though according to law they were kept distinct from the
convict jails at the several settlements, nevertheless were in their
superintendence placed under the Superintendent of Convicts and convict
petty officers. A good proportion of these local prisoners were employed
upon extramural works, under the guard of these convict petty officers,
who, being natives of India, had nothing in common with the Chinese and
Malays who formed the bulk of these prisoners, and they kept them well
under control, and allowed but few escapes, and, moreover, they were
never found open to the taking of bribes from the prisoners' relations
and friends, who now and again would attempt to offer them forbidden

At Penang there were a considerable number of these Indian convicts upon
ticket of leave, who gained their livelihood in a variety of ways. Some
of them were the first to discover the palm known by the Malays as "Plas
tikoos," and by botanists as the "Licuala acutifida," a small palm,
ordinarily not higher than from five to six feet. From this palm, which
grew mostly upon the Penang Hill, were constructed walking-sticks called
"Penang lawyers," and the process of preparing them was very simple: the
epidermis, or exterior coating, was scraped off with glass, and then the
stick was straightened with fire, as is done by the Malays in preparing
the Malacca canes. Several of these Penang lawyers were sold by the
convicts on the spot, and many more were exported to Europe and


(From Godinho de Eredia's Work).

_Plate III._]

Chapter III


Authorities differ very considerably as to the origin of the name of
this place. Some attribute it to the Malay name for a shrub which
largely abounded near the shore, a sort of "Phyllanthus emblica" of the
spurge order; others, again, ascribe it to a plant called the "Jumbosa
Malaccensis," or "Malay apple tree" of the myrtle bloom order; others,
again, say that the Javanese were the first to colonize the place about
the year 1160 of our time, and that they gave it the name "Malaka,"
which in that language means "an exile," in memory of one "Paramisura"
who came there as a fugitive from the kingdom of Palembang.

In the original manuscript of Godinho de Eredia, of date 1613,
reproduced by Janssen in 1882, he says that "Paramisura," the first king
of the Malays, settled on the coast near to the Bukit China River, which
is close to the present town, and called it "Malaka," after the fruit of
a tree which grew there. (See sketch from that old work, Plate IV.)
Anyway, like all Malay history, it is full of obscurity, and it really
does not concern us very much just now as to what it is really derived
from, though it would be no doubt interesting to Malay scholars to
pursue the inquiry.

We know, however, on the best authority, that it was the first
settlement formed by a European power in those seas. The Portuguese, in
their palmy days under Albuquerque, took it from a Malay Sultan, named
Mahomed Shah, in 1511. They kept quiet possession of it for 134 years,
when it fell into the hands of the Dutch, who held it for seventy-four
years; then the British took possession in 1795, restored it to the
Dutch in 1818, who gave it back in 1824, and we have held it ever since.
In size it is forty-two miles long and from eight to twenty-five miles
broad, and contains 659 square miles.

In the old Portuguese days it was a very important place of trade, so
much so that De Barros, their famous historian, wrote of it that, "the
native town was a good league in length along the shore, and that there
were many merchant vessels there from Calicut, Aden, Mecca, Java, and
Pegu, and other places." This splendid trade, however, began to decline
in the time of the Dutch, and shortly after we had opened Penang in 1785
it had almost entirely vanished.

[Illustration: OLD MALACCA

(From Godinho de Eredia's Work).

_Plate IV._]

[Illustration: ALBUQUERQUE

(From Godinho de Eredia's Work).

_Plate V._]

The Portuguese must have attached great value to this their first
settlement in what was then known as the "Golden Chersonese," for they
spent vast sums of money in fortifying it, and enclosed a considerable
enceinte by a wall of great height and thickness, and crowned the small
hill of St. Paul's within by the erection of a fine cathedral dedicated
to our Lady Del-Monte, with a monastery annexed to it. These
fortifications were afterwards razed to the ground, and some of the old
foundations may still be seen; but we left the buildings standing and
the greater part of the cathedral to go to ruins. Some of the tombstones
in the old nave bear the date 1515, and there is a tomb to the two
Bishops of Japan, but there is nothing to indicate that the saintly St.
Francis Xavier laboured here beyond a small tablet; but the memory of
his deeds is yet fresh amongst the traditions of the Portuguese
descendants still resident there.

Seen from the sea in these days, Malacca looks an antiquated old place,
with all the signs of desertion about it. The old ruins on the hill form
the most prominent feature in the landscape, and the once busy river
(see Plate VI.) is now almost closed even to boat traffic by the silt
which has been brought down from the interior. It is difficult indeed to
realize that this strange, dim old place was once the centre of a
thriving trade from so many distant countries, though it still carries
on its cultivation of rice and other grain, and this is yearly being
more developed.

As far as we can gather, the first batch of convicts were sent to this
place from Penang shortly after we took possession, and that they were
employed in filling up the moat to suit it and the glacis for a parade
ground. These convicts were confined first of all in the town jail,
which was situated on the steep or eastern side of St. Paul's Hill, and
was in point of fact the old Portuguese soldiers' barrack, and was
constructed on a terrace excavated from the hillside; and, together with
a hospital, warders' quarters, store rooms and other necessary
buildings, was surrounded by a high wall built from the stone from the
old fort ramparts. The few local prisoners were put into the old Dutch
prison, and both these prisoners and the convicts were placed under the
charge of half-blood Portuguese warders. For some years few convicts
were sent into the interior, their labour being required for the public
works in and near the town; but about the year 1840, as fresh arrivals
came from Penang, which is about 250 miles north of it, gangs were made
up to keep in repair about 100 miles of the public roads that were left
to us, and to open up new communications near the frontier; so that we
now have nearly 300 miles to keep in order. They were located in
temporary huts surrounded by a palisading, and warders were raised from
amongst the best behaved to be responsible for their work and general
supervision. This practice was continued with satisfactory results, and
gradually was introduced into the town jail, and the half-bred
Portuguese warders were dismissed.

[Illustration: MALACCA RIVER IN 1870.

(From Godinho de Eredia's Work).

_Plate VI._]

[Illustration: ST. FRANCIS XAVIER

(From Godinho de Eredia's Work).

_Plate VII._]

Prior to the appointment to Malacca of Captain Man as Resident
Councillor, but little had been done in the way of training the convicts
in industrial occupation, but he established a few workshops and started
them in various trades. It was not, however, until 1860 that anything
approaching to really skilled labour could be got out of them. They were
then supplied with good tools and an instructor, also a convict, was
sent down from Singapore. After this, carts for the roads, iron and wood
work for bridges, roofing timbers for public works, and other necessary
requirements for the erection of minor works were satisfactorily
accomplished. For some classes of work the convicts were superior to the
Chinese workmen in the town, especially in metal turning and fitting.
One Cingalese convict became so expert at this trade that upon his
release from confinement he established himself in Ceylon, and has been
doing a very profitable business, and occupies now a respectable
position in life.

As far as can be gathered from the records, the convicts were, as a
rule, well behaved, though in the early Sixties, owing to their
maltreatment by an overseer who had the supervision of a gang for
clearing the jungle and making roads upon Cape Rachado for the erection
of a lighthouse, an _emeute_ took place, and some life was lost, and
many escaped inland, but were subsequently returned by the native Malay

Some of the Indian convicts here on ticket of leave were expert
shikarries, and frequently with their trained dogs would hunt the deer
and wild boar, and dispose of the flesh to Chinese in the town at some
profit to themselves.

In 1873, when the convict establishments in the Straits Settlements were
finally broken up, those convicts still wanting time to complete their
sentences were transferred to Singapore for transmission to the
Andamans, those upon ticket of leave being permitted to merge into the


_Plate VIII._]

Chapter IV


The origin of the name of this island it is difficult to trace, but the
generally accepted derivation is from the Sanscrit words, "Singh," a
lion, and "Pura," a city or town; and if so, it would not have been
given by the Malays, but more probably by the Indians, who, according to
native history, came over with one, Rajah Suran, and conquered Johore
and this island in about the year A.D. 1160. "Singh" is a title adopted
by the Hindus, and by several military castes of Northern India, and the
word "Singhpur" is often used by them to mean the grand entrance gate to
a palace.

If, on the other hand, we assume that the Malays conferred the name to
the island, they would in all probability have given it from their word
"Singgah," which means "a place to stop at," or "to bait by the way,"
and as the embouchure of the Singapore river formed a commodious and
sheltered retreat for their rowing and sailing prahus, this view is not
inappropriate, the more especially as the affix "pura," meaning a city,
had been known to them from the earliest times, and of which we have one
instance at least from their original home of Sumatra, in the naming of
their kingdom of Indrapura, which was, as Marsden says, "for a long
time, from 1400 A.D., the seat of a monarchy of some consideration and

The island is about twenty-seven miles long by fourteen broad, and
contains an area of 206 square miles, and therefore is somewhat larger
than the Isle of Wight. It is separated from the mainland of Johore by
what is known as "The Old Straits," from its having been the only
channel used in the early days by vessels bound eastward. The island was
first settled upon, according to Balfour, "in A.D. 1160, by one Sri Sura
Bawana," and from an inscription on a sandstone rock at the mouth of the
Singapore River, now unfortunately destroyed, it would appear that Rajah
Suran, of Amdan Nagara, after conquering the state of Johore with
certain natives of India (Klings), proceeded in 1201 to a country then
called "Tamask," and afterwards returned to "Kling," leaving the stone
inscription in memory of his visit and victory. To have conquered
Johore, the Rajah's vessels must have sailed by the Old Straits; but we
have no record as to where "Tamask" was situated, and it is not given
in the oldest Atlases we have been able to consult, viz. by D'Anville
and others, though it may be in the charts of the 14th and 15th
centuries. It seems more probable that the expedition set out from Java
or Sumatra, to which places Hindus had, as we know, in very remote times
proceeded from India, as the old ruins they have left there of their
temples, supposed to be of the 7th century, plainly prove.

Sir Stamford Raffles, as we have already stated when treating of
Bencoolen, took up the appointment of Lieutenant-Governor of that
settlement on the 22nd March, 1818, and he had not been there long
before he recognized the fact that British interests needed a trading
centre somewhere in the Straits of Malacca. It was, he said, "not that
any extension of territory was necessary, but the aim of Government
should be to acquire somewhere in the Straits a commercial station with
a military guard, and that, when once formed, it was his belief that it
would soon maintain a successful rivalry with a neighbouring Power, who
would be obliged either to adopt a liberal system of free trade, or see
the trade of these seas collected under the British flag."

It is well known how the port of Rhio, on the west coast of the island
of Bintang, which is separated from the island of Battam by the Rhio
Strait, was first thought of; but we were too late in occupying it. Then
the Carrimon Islands were suggested by the Resident Councillor of
Malacca, at that time Major Farquhar; but the harbour was too exposed to
the prevailing monsoon. Subsequently Tanjong Jatti, on the island of
Bengkalis, was deemed to be a suitable site, but this had its objection
as to situation; and after coasting about these seas for some little
time, Sir Stamford Raffles finally fixed upon the island of Singapore
for an entrepot for trade, and the wisdom and sagacity displayed by him
in this selection has been abundantly proved.

Sir Stamford Raffles concluded the treaty with the native chiefs for the
cession of the island to Great Britain, and the British flag was planted
on the island on the same day that the treaty was signed, viz., the 19th
February, 1819, but it has since been found to have been actually signed
on the 6th of that month.

Our new possession, some 600 miles from Batavia, then contained in round
numbers about 120 Malays and 30 Chinese. Some of these lived wholly in
their boats at the mouth of the river, and the remainder in huts at
Teloh Blangah, on the south side of the island. In the course of a year
the population had risen to 5,000, and in little more than five years to
19,000 or 20,000 of all nations actively engaged in commerce, "offering
to each and all a handsome livelihood and abundant profit." When the
census was taken in 1881 the population had risen to 139,208, and in
1891 there was an increase of 45,346, making a total of 184,554,
representing nearly every nationality and tribe in the Indian
Archipelago, China, and India, and about 1,500 Europeans.

In the year 1822, the first settlers to dwell on the island were traders
in the Archipelago, and they lived in raft houses, so called, or more
probably in huts, erected on poles in the Malay style, and these were
located on the site of the present "Commercial Square," which was then
little more than a mud flat covered by the sea at high water. One of the
first steps taken by the Government was to fill up this low-lying sea
marsh, which was executed by free labour, but was subsequently largely
assisted by some local prisoners who were confined in a temporary jail
near by, on the site where the present Court-house now stands. The first
magistrates to be appointed in the settlement, and who tried and
sentenced these prisoners, were men whose names will ever be preserved
unforgotten by the colony, and we make no excuse in giving them in full
as obtained from _The Anecdotal History_, viz., Messrs. A. L. Johnstone,
D. A. Maxwell, D. F. Napier, A. F. Morgan, John Purvis, Alexander
Guthrie, E. Mackenzie, W. Montgomery, Charles Scott, John Morgan, C. R.
Read, and Andrew Hay. Two magistrates sat in court with the Resident
Councillor, to decide cases both civil and criminal, and juries were
formed of five Europeans, or four Europeans and three leading natives.
This court sat once a week, but a court of two magistrates sat twice a
week to try cases, their office being open daily to hear complaints.

The insecurity of the temporary prison mentioned above, and the defects
in its control, led to changes in its structure and general management.
The Resident, then Mr. J. Crawford, expended $900 towards the
construction of a more substantial building for the local prisoners, the
transmarine convicts from Bencoolen and India having not yet arrived in
the settlement. In April, 1823, as there was a great difficulty in
obtaining free labour, the local prisoners were ordered to work upon the
public roads.

When finally leaving the settlement, Sir Stamford Raffles entered into a
new agreement with the Sultan and Tummongong of Johore, by which the
whole of the island of Singapore and the adjacent islands were to be
considered as entirely British territory. He considered this fresh
agreement necessary on account of some peculiar ideas that were held at
the time by certain dissentients.

On his final departure from Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles received an
address from the European and native merchants of Singapore, from which
we quote the following significant extract:

    "To your unwearied zeal, your vigilance, and your comprehensive
    views, we owe at once the foundation and maintenance of a
    settlement, unparalleled for the liberality of the principles
    on which it has been established--principles, the operation of
    which has converted in a period short beyond all example a
    haunt of pirates into the abode of enterprise, security, and

Sir Stamford replied with his characteristic modesty in a letter dated
Singapore, June 9th, 1823. The letter is too long to quote _in
extenso_, but we give the following extracts from it. After
acknowledging the receipt of their address, and remarking upon the
impossibility of his being indifferent to any of the interests,
especially the commercial interests, of Singapore, under the peculiar
circumstances of his connection with the establishment of the
settlement, he says, "It has happily been consistent with the policy of
Great Britain, and accordant with the principles of the East India
Company, that Singapore should be established as a 'free port,' and that
Singapore will long, and always remain a free port, and that no taxes on
trade or industry will be established to check its future rise and
prosperity, I can have no doubt." "I am justified in saying thus much on
the authority of the Supreme Government of India, and on the authority
of those who are most likely to have weight in the councils of our
nation at home."

Referring to difficulties which had to be encountered on the
establishment of the freedom of the port, he says, "In the commanding
station in which my public duty has placed me, I have had an opportunity
of, in a great measure, investigating and determining the merits of the
case, and the result renders it a duty on my part, and which I perform
with much satisfaction, to express my most unqualified approbation of
the honourable principles which actuated the merchants of Singapore on
that occasion."

We give the above extracts to show the rapid advance that had been made
in the first five years of the settlement's existence, owing mainly to
the sagacity, forethought, and wisdom of its eminent founder, and we
have added the population up to this period to show its steady rise and

It was, however, in January, 1824, that the first regular census was
taken. The population then consisted of 74 Europeans, 16 Armenians, 15
Arabs, 4,580 Malays, 3,317 Chinese, 756 natives of India, and 1,925
Bugis, making a total of 10,683. It was in this year that Singapore was
first mentioned in the House of Commons, in a remark made by Mr.
Canning, who had been nominated Governor-General of India in 1822, but
did not go out to that country, that "Singapore in six years would
produce spices sufficient for the consumption of Great Britain and her
colonies"--a prophecy not yet fulfilled.

In May of the same year the Resident made a voyage round the island in
the ship _Malabar_, 380 tons burden, to view the boundary of the island
and to take formal possession; and it was while on this voyage that the
British flag was planted on the island of "Pulo Obin," an island which
has since largely supplied the town of Singapore with granite for making
roads and also for building purposes. The Government quarries situated
upon it were subsequently worked almost entirely by transmarine
convicts, of which more will be said hereafter.


(From _Life of Sir Stamford Raffles_).

_Plate IX._]

On the 18th of April, 1825, the first batch of convicts transported
from India to Bencoolen were transferred from there to Singapore. They
arrived in the brig _Horatio_, and consisted of 80 convicts transported
from Madras, of whom 73 males and 1 female were for life, and 6 male
convicts on short sentences. On the 25th of the same month another batch
was received, also convicts from Bencoolen. These consisted of 122
convicts transported from Bengal, of whom 88 males and 1 female were for
life, and 33 for short terms. When these Indian convicts were landed at
Singapore they were placed at first in an open shed, or godown (from the
Malay word "godong," a shed), which stood on the site where the present
public offices stand, with only four free petty officers, or "peons,"
natives of Chittagong in the Bengal presidency, in charge of them.
Subsequently temporary buildings, to contain 1,200 to 2,000 convicts,
were erected near the Hindu temple, then situated near the Brass Basa
Canal, and at a considerable cost it is given as £13,199 (see Plate
IX.). They were all located in these sheds, and there was little or no
prison control over them; only, occasionally, an officer of the police
came and called the roll in order to report to Government that all were
present. These convicts were afterwards detailed to the work of filling
up the mud flat before referred to as the site of the present
"Commercial Square." For this purpose they carried the soil from near the
Hindu temple and from Pearls Hill. Mr. Bonham, the Resident, finding
that the convicts worked willingly, and were well behaved, discharged
the free "peons," or warders, and selected five Madrasees and five
Bengalees from their number to supervise their fellow-convicts. This
was, as far as we gather, the first trial of the system of convict
warders at Singapore, possibly the first venture of the kind made in any
penal establishment. As convicts continued to arrive from India, many of
those from Bencoolen were constituted warders over their fellows, in the
proportion of one warder to every twenty convicts. Each warder was
granted a monthly wage of $3.00 in addition to his rations and clothing,
with the usual blanket given to each convict once a year. In addition to
his ordinary rations, clothing, and annual blanket, each convict
received a monthly allowance of 50 cents (say 2s.) a month, to
purchase condiments and salt. A European overseer was placed in
immediate charge of the convicts, and a Superintendent over the whole
convict establishment, this responsible duty first falling upon
Lieutenant Chester, of the Bengal Native Infantry.

The convicts from Bencoolen were not sent over to the Straits of Malacca
in chains, but those received from India in the earliest times were
manacled with light leg fetters, in which they had to work for a
probationary period of three months. As, however, they were granted,
equally with the others, the privilege of going about the town to make
their purchases, it is said they ceased to consider their fetters a
mark of degradation, being so completely overwhelmed with the thought of
banishment from their country and kindred; and to many men of caste it
must be remembered that transportation alone was a severe punishment.

In the year 1826 there was a change of government in the settlements.
Hitherto the settlements of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore had not been
incorporated under one government. In this year it was decided by the
Supreme Government to do so, and the seat of government was fixed at
Penang, that being our oldest settlement in these seas. On this change
taking place, many more of the Indian convicts from Penang were sent
down to Singapore, the ship _Esperanza_ bringing down a further batch of
23 Bengal life convicts (males), and 26 Madras convicts (males), and 1
female; 31 Bombay (males), and 2 female convicts.

From the accounts given in the newspapers of that day, the convicts were
at this time treated with great indulgence if of proved good behaviour,
being permitted, after their work was over, to engage themselves as
servants to the residents, who, in the scarcity of labour at that time,
and the fitness of the convicts for such service, were content to give
them a very liberal wage. In the early days of penal colonies this has
not infrequently occurred, and some of these old convicts have been
known to amass considerable sums of money, and, indeed, to become
possessed of landed property in the town. The Government, however,
under Major Campbell, who succeeded Lieutenant Chester, took care to
exact from them a large amount of useful work in the filling up of
swampy ground near the town, and laying out plots of land for building
purposes. They also blasted the rocks at the mouth of the Singapore
river, on the site of which was afterwards constructed a fort, named
after the first Resident, Mr. Fullerton, and much of the rock was also
used in the construction of the sea and river walls adjoining. Their
services were also turned to account on any occasion when the presence
of a body of men under discipline was required, such as the suppression
of fires. An instance is given in the journal already quoted of a
serious outbreak of fire in Market Street, in the year 1830, which
threatened to consume the houses in several streets adjoining. There
were no fire engines in those days, and the only supply of water was
carried in buckets by the convicts, which materially helped to subdue
it. The houses in the square at the back of Market Street were not
burnt; they, and also the houses on the side of Market Street next the
square, were partly built of brick, but those on the opposite side were
wholly of wood, and were quickly destroyed. The middle of the square was
covered with goods carried from the burning houses.

Occasionally, even in those days, convicts were employed as orderlies
and servants to public officers, and when Dr. Oxley's house was
attacked by burglars in 1821, his Indian convict servant, though wounded
by a "kris," succeeded in capturing the burglar, who turned out to be a
Malay pirate from Bencoolen. Robbery on land was not common amongst
Malays in those days, but piracy was one of their pastimes, and their
romances always glorify their ancestors in this pursuit.

The rules at that time in force amongst the convicts were what were
known as the "Penang Rules," already mentioned, and published in 1827;
but there were also a few scattered rules known as the "Bencoolen
Rules," probably some of those drawn up by Sir Stamford Raffles, and
referred to in his letter of the 20th September, 1823, and incorporated
with the former.

In 1832 an alteration in the seat of government took place. Penang had
hitherto been the seat of government, but in this year it was
transferred to Singapore, which had by this time become the most
important of the three Settlements.

When later on, in the year 1833, Mr. G. D. Coleman was placed in charge
of the convicts as "Surveyor and Executive Officer of Government," a
great improvement was set on foot in the regular and systematic
employment of these convicts. He, by their means, reclaimed large plots
of land as intakes from the sea and river marshes, and largely extended
the town lots, so that Captain Begbie, who in that year wrote a book
upon the Straits Settlements, stated that "200 of these convicts, in
eight months, at a small money outlay of $500 for covered drains, had
reclaimed 28 acres of marsh, and intersected it with roads. This land
was shortly afterwards sold at a handsome price, and was very quickly
covered with good, substantial upper-story houses, which were readily

Under Mr. Coleman the public roads on the sea front were marked out and
constructed, and also the main road from the town to Campong Glam, now
known as North and South Bridge Roads. He surveyed and marked out the
first country road towards Bukit Timah, and he afterwards laid out the
Serangoon, the New Harbour, Budoo, and Thompson's Roads, and employed
Indian convicts principally in their construction. When the convicts
could not be marched out to and from their daily work to the prison,
owing to the long distance they had to traverse, Mr. Coleman constructed
for them temporary buildings, surrounded by a fence, similar to those
already described when treating of Province Wellesley and Malacca. In
these "commands" they were located until the work on which they were
employed was completed; and in many cases these "commands," as they were
always called, became permanent stations for the convicts employed in
maintaining the roads. At first their rations were sent out to them from
town once a month, but subsequently it was found desirable for them to
attend the general muster at the main prison on the first of every
month, and to receive their rations then, and to be inspected at the
same time by the Superintendent.

The records of the jail at this time, and until the year 1844, have not
been kept, as we have said, with any precision, and, indeed, most of
them are missing; but the excellent work performed by Mr. Coleman (in
the execution of which he, as far as possible, employed convict labour)
is, fortunately, to be seen in the map of the town and its environs
surveyed by him in 1836, and lithographed in Calcutta the same year, a
copy of which is given in Moor's _Notices of the Indian Archipelago_.

Mr. Coleman was no mean architect. It was he who designed the first
church for Singapore. It was erected on the site where the present
cathedral stands. It was completed in 1837, and consecrated in
September, 1838, but was opened for service on the 18th June, 1837, by
the first chaplain appointed from Bengal, the Rev. Edmund White. Indian
convicts were employed in the erection of this church, chiefly as
labourers, as they were also at the public buildings which were erected
about this time, notably the first extension of the Raffles Institution
and its museum.

To Mr. Coleman, however, the colony is chiefly indebted for the many
excellent roads on the island, and the carrying out of the disposition
of town allotments, projected in the first instance by Sir Stamford
Raffles himself, in his instructions to the Committee appointed for the
purpose shortly after the settlement was founded.

Mr. G. D. Coleman died on the 27th March, 1885, and the newspapers of
the day, in regretting his death, brought about by hard work and
exposure in the public service, spoke in the highest terms of his
ability as an architect and surveyor, and Superintendent of Convicts.

Chapter V

SINGAPORE (_Continued_)

There were then about 1,100 or 1,200 Indian convicts in Singapore,
divided into six classes, and employed in various ways as already
narrated, but the following extract from _The Anecdotal History_ is
worth quoting verbatim:

    "Singapore, Malacca, Penang, and Maulmein were the Sydneys of
    India. There are upon an average about 1,100 to 1,200 native
    convicts from India constantly at Singapore. These are employed
    making roads and digging canals; and, undoubtedly, without them
    the town, as far as locomotion is concerned, would have been
    now but a sorry residence. They are secured within high walls,
    and although a few now and then escape, they meet with such
    rough treatment from the Malays on the Peninsula, that they
    find it commonly the most prudent course to return, or allow
    themselves to be brought back. The native of India accommodates
    himself more easily to banishment than a European does, because
    his ideas lead to predestination, and his habits are simple.
    In former days, when convict discipline was not so well
    understood as it is now, the convicts transported from India
    used to traffic and amass money; banishment was in some cases,
    perhaps, sought for, and crimes were, it is feared, sometimes
    committed by natives to obtain it; but the felon must now
    expect to be kept in his place and hard at work. Still, the
    convict whose period is short, contrives to save something out
    of his allowance, and on the expiration of his term he
    generally sets up as a keeper of cattle, or a letter-out of
    carriages and horses; and undoubtedly some of these men are as
    well, if not better behaved than many of their native
    neighbours of higher pretensions. There are regulations by
    which the convict is encouraged by certain rewards, or
    remission short of emancipation, to orderly conduct."

When Mr. Coleman resigned, the duties of Superintendent were taken up by
Captain Stevenson of the 12th Madras Native Infantry, who carried out
the system then in force, and somewhat added to the strength of the
convict warders; for we find in his annual report for 1845 the following
remarks: "Convict peons are selected from the second class for general
good conduct and intelligence, and they continue to receive $3 each per
mensem, in addition to provisions and clothing. Free peons were, I hear,
formerly tried, but found not to be so well suited for the peculiar
duties required of them; besides, the prospect of gaining a belt--a
mark of authority--is a strong inducement to good conduct on the part of
the convict, and conduces much towards lightening, in the well disposed,
the feeling of hopelessness that ever accompanies a sense of
imprisonment and slavery for life."

At this time (1840 to 1845), Singapore was more than ever before
infested with tigers--it is supposed that they swam across the narrow
part of the Old Straits, from Johore to Kranji. The number of natives,
principally Chinese, employed on gambier and pepper farms, that were
carried off or destroyed by them annually was considerable, and it was
said at the time that not a day passed without one man being killed by
wild animals. Whether it was actually so or not, there are no police
statistics to prove, but as many as five in eight days were reported at
that time, and in later years, about 1860, as many as 200 deaths were
notified to the police in one year, and probably a great number never
were brought to notice, because the difficulty of obtaining coolies to
work in the thick jungle, as it then was, was a great inducement to the
"Towkays," or Head Chinese, to keep the number of deaths as much as
possible from being known. In those days a reward of one hundred dollars
was offered by Government for every tiger brought to the police station,
whether alive or dead; and this sum, owing to their continued ravages,
was subsequently increased to one hundred and fifty dollars.

One seizure of a man-eater is worth recording here; it is taken from
_The Singapore Free Press_ of the year 1840, and runs as follows:--

    "The news of the capture and death of a tiger last Saturday
    night on a Chinaman's plantation, close to that of Mr.
    Balustier, the American Consul, gave general satisfaction,
    being the first of these destructive animals which the Chinese
    had succeeded in catching alive. A pit was dug where his track
    had been observed, the mouth of which was covered lightly over,
    and two or three dogs tied as bait. The ruse luckily took
    effect, and, when advancing to his imagined prey, he was
    himself precipitated into the pit head foremost, where he was
    very soon despatched by the natives, who pounded him to death
    with stones. He was a large animal for the Malay type,
    measuring 9 ft. 3 in. from the nose to the tip of the tail,
    which was 35 inches long, the circumference round the forearm
    being 21 inches. The captors have claimed and obtained from the
    local authorities the promised reward of one hundred dollars,
    besides having sold the flesh of the animal itself to the
    Chinese, Klings, and others for six fanams a catty (a fanam is
    about three halfpence), by which they realized about seventy
    dollars more."

It is singular how all natives believe that by eating the flesh of the
tiger they absorb the essence or distinctive features of the animal.
Balfour says that "the clavicle or collar-bone of the tiger is
considered of great virtue by many natives of India. The whiskers are
supposed by some to endow their possessor with unlimited power over the
opposite sex." Tiger bones are often sold in China to form an ingredient
in certain invigorating jellies, made of hartshorn, and the plastron of
the terrapin or tortoise. Burmese and Malays eat the flesh of the tiger,
because they believe that by eating it they acquire the courage and
sagacity of the animal. Tigers' claws are used as charms, and the most
solemn oath of one of the aboriginal tribes of India, the "Santals," is
sworn when touching a tiger's skin; handsome brooches and earrings are
also made from tigers' claws mounted in gold. In 1854 no less than six
persons were killed within the space of a few days not far from the
town, and in April of that year the Government, alarmed for the safety
of the people, sanctioned a considerable expenditure for the
construction of tiger pits over many parts of the island. In August of
the same year the following article appeared in _The Singapore Free

    "The attention of His Honour the Governor having been directed
    to the continued deplorable ravages committed by tigers on the
    island, he has expressed himself ready to adopt any measures
    which may tend to remove the evil. It has been suggested that
    persons are to be found in the vicinity of Calcutta trained for
    the purpose of destroying tigers; and His Honour has written to
    the Bengal Government requesting that half a dozen of these
    'shikarries' should be sent to the Straits for a limited
    period, to be employed in the destruction of these animals. The
    Governor has also directed that in the meantime, should it be
    deemed expedient, a certain number of volunteers from convicts
    of the third class should be permitted to beat the jungle once
    every month with tom-toms (native drums), horns, etc., which,
    if they do not lead to the destruction of the tigers, may
    frighten them away from the island, to which they come from the
    neighbouring state of Johore."

Later, in 1859, finding that the number of tigers on the island, and the
number of people killed by them, were still increasing, the Governor,
General Sir Orfeur Cavenagh, discussed the matter with the then
Superintendent of Convicts (Major McNair), who informed him that he had
good shikarries amongst the Indian convicts, and it was arranged to
organize parties of convicts for their destruction. Three parties, of
three men in each party, were selected, and armed with the old
muzzle-loading muskets and ball ammunition. One party was sent to the
Bukit Timah or Central district, another to the Serangoon and Changi or
Eastern district, and the third to the Choo Choo Kang or Western
district. These parties were generally successful in killing half a
dozen or so in the course of the year, chiefly in the Central or garden
district. Recourse was also had to trapping them in cleverly-constructed
deep pits, built cone-wise, and by heavy beams of timber suspended from
tree to tree over their tracks, connected on the ground with springes;
but only upon rare occasions were they successful in this way. We had in
our possession several skins and skulls from those destroyed by
convicts. Some castes amongst these convicts from India, when employed
on this duty, were also very expert in catching such venomous snakes as
cobras and craits. They appeared not to possess the slightest dread of
them, and would stealthily follow them to their burrows, then grasp the
tail, and by a rapid movement of the other hand along the body to just
below the head, grip the snake firmly at the neck and allow it to coil
round their arm. During the construction of Fort Canning, later on, many
were so caught and brought down to the jail for the reward. They were
then destroyed, the convicts at the time always asking pardon of the
snake for so betraying it to their masters. It is worth mentioning here
that in the jail there were so many different races of India, and men of
so many occupations and artifices, that what a man of one caste did not
know, another would be sure to volunteer to perform. This collection of
such a variety of races in a jail under the association system had
another and more important advantage, for it was at once a safeguard
and protection against any possible combined revolt against the
authorities, for one caste would invariably "split" against another.

It was in the year 1841 that it was decided to erect a jail for the
Indian convicts on a site near the Brass Basa Canal on the east of the
town, and immediately below Government Hill, now known as Fort Canning.
The boundary wall was first built, and then a brick building within,
which was subsequently used as a convict hospital. This is shown in the
plan of the whole prison made in 1872, a copy of which is given later.
In this brick building the defaulters and those in irons were placed on
one side, and the local prisoners on the other. The remainder of the
convicts were lodged in temporary structures inside the enclosure wall;
and those employed in positions of trust were allowed to erect small
huts for themselves in the style of a native village just outside the
wall, in which they were allowed to have their wives and families. There
was but one entrance to this enclosure, where convict warders were at
all times stationed as a gate guard. It will be readily understood that
discipline could not well be maintained under such circumstances, while
no records appear to have been kept of any kind, relating to their daily
employment or occupation, so there is nothing to show whether the
convicts were employed in the erection of this boundary wall; but it is
more probable that they were only used as labourers, and not as
artisans, for it was not until a later date that they were organized and
trained as skilled workmen.

It may be well for us to indicate here the progress made in the
Singapore town up to 1842, as given by _The Free Press_ newspaper in
that year. It runs thus:--

    "A stranger visiting Singapore cannot fail to be struck by the
    signs everywhere exhibited of the settlement being in a high
    state of prosperity and progressive improvement. If he lands on
    the side next the town he beholds the pathway in front of the
    merchants' 'godowns' or warehouses cumbered with packages, and
    if he glances inside one of the 'godowns' he will see it filled
    with packages and bales of goods from all parts of the world.
    If he goes among the native shops he finds them filled with
    clamorous Klings (natives of the Coromandel Coast of India) and
    Chinese, all busily engaged in driving bargains. Passing on, he
    comes to where, near the jail, the swamp is being filled up and
    covered with shops, which are seen in every stage of progress,
    some with the foundations newly laid, and others nearly
    completed. If he wishes to leave the town he crosses the
    Singapore River by a new bridge, which was built two years ago.
    The scene now undergoes a change: in place of the narrow and
    crooked streets the stranger finds himself amongst rows of neat
    villas, each standing in its own enclosure. The Governor's
    residence is to the left upon a small hill commanding a fine
    view of the town and harbour. The flag-staff is also placed
    there, and at all hours of the day may be seen covered with
    flags, announcing the approach of ships from every quarter of
    the globe. If he should go into the country, the many thriving
    plantations of spices and other tropical productions (amongst
    which are to be noted one or two sugar estates) present an
    equally pleasing sight, and give promise of a long continuance
    to the well-being of the settlement."

In this year, 1842, or it may perhaps have been in the previous year,
Mr. J. T. Thompson came to Singapore in the capacity of Government
Surveyor; whereupon the Government called upon all holders and occupiers
of land to point out to him their boundaries, preparatory to the issue
of proper leases. Under his direction there was a systematic survey made
of all allotments upon the island; and intelligent Indian convicts were
provided him to act as his survey party, being preferred for that duty
over freemen to be obtained in the town. These convicts formed the
nucleus of a regular native staff for this department of the Government;
and, indeed, up to the time of the abolition of the jail they continued
to be employed as chainmen and survey assistants.

When Mr. Thompson visited Malacca, to inquire into the system pursued
there, he found it to be of the most primitive type. For the linear
measurements the surveyor had for a chain, rattans jointed together, and
this, with a ten-foot rod and a common compass, formed their whole
equipment. When he tested however the measurements of the fields and the
town lots, he was surprised to find to what approach to accuracy they
had arrived with their rude implements. Indian convicts were also there
employed as land measurers and assistants.

Upon his return to Singapore, Mr. Thompson designed a European hospital,
and adjoining it a pauper hospital, erected mostly at the cost of a
benevolent Chinese gentleman of the name of Tan-Tock-Seng. They were
built on a plateau of Pearls Hill facing the town. Some years later
these buildings were required for military purposes, and were adapted
for the purposes of a Commissariat and Ordnance Department respectively.
A new building, in which was incorporated a general hospital, was
subsequently erected facing the Bukit Timah Road, and the Tan-Tock-Seng
hospital for paupers was built further outside the town on the Serangoon
Road. In the erection of these buildings convict labour was very largely
utilised, and in the front elevation of Tan-Tock-Seng's hospital they
had some rather difficult mouldings to execute.

In the year 1844, owing to the amount of building that was then going on
in the town, there was a great dearth of bricks; so much so, that the
Chinese brick-kilns could not supply the immense demand, and the price
per laksa of 10,000 rose more than fifty per cent. This led to the
determination on the part of the Government to make their own bricks,
and an order was issued to the Public Works Department to arrange for
their manufacture by the convicts. This was subsequently done; and a
suitable site having been found upon the Serangoon Road, a large
establishment was started, an account of which will be given in detail
when we come to deal with the industrial occupations of the Indian
convicts. The first Government brick-field, however, was started at
Rochore, under Captain Faber, but was given up after only a short trial.
He employed free labour.

Chapter VI

SINGAPORE (_Continued_)

During the year 1845 the Bukit Timah Road was opened up by convict
labour between Bukit Timah and Kranji, so that the produce hitherto
carried by water to Singapore from the neighbouring country of Johore
could now be brought into town by road, while at the same time land was
thus opened up for cultivation. The convicts were also employed in this
year in constructing a road to the summit of Telok Blangah Hill, now
called Mount Faber, for the purpose of building there a signal station,
that upon the island of Blakan Mati having proved unhealthy, due, as it
was said at the time, to malaria from the enclosed marsh at the back of
the island, and to the tainted air from decaying pine-apple leaves,
which were left by the Malays, who cultivated the fruit upon all the
available soil. Pine-apple growing has been largely extended in this
island, as is now generally known at home; and as it is a source of some
wealth to the colony, it may be incidentally mentioned in this running
history of the place, and more particularly in reference to the fact
that the Indian convicts upon ticket of leave have been often employed
in its culture in order to earn a daily wage. The plant that produces
the pine-apple known as the "ananas," or by the Malays as "nanas," grows
literally wild upon the hills on Blakan Mati Island, and other islands
round about Singapore. It delights in a moist climate, and here it has
it to perfection, with just enough heat to help its growth. There is
little or no trouble in its propagation, for after the apple is
sufficiently ripe and cut, the crown that surmounts the fruit is
planted, and a new plantation soon springs up. There is, however, some
difference in the sweetness and flavour of the fruit, according to the
exposure to which it is subjected, those having the benefit of the sun
being preferred.

The first to export the tinned fruit to Europe was a Frenchman named
Bastiani,[5] who succeeded far beyond his expectations, and the industry
has since been taken up largely by the Chinese in Singapore and Johore.

    [Footnote 5: He was known to both of us when he commenced the

Yet another of the important public works of the colony, upon which the
labour of Indian convicts was employed some five years earlier, was at
the construction of the lighthouse on "Pedro Branca," called the
"Horsburgh," after the celebrated hydrographer of that name. The design
was by Thompson, and the selection of the site by Sir Edward Belcher,
R.N., and most of the detail work was under the direct supervision of
Mr. J. Bennett, a civil and mechanical engineer, who afterwards, as we
have said, played a prominent part in the direction and control of the
labour and industrial training of the Indian convicts in the Singapore
jail. He had, as an assistant, Mr. Magaelhaens of the Convict
Department, and both the officers and the convicts lived on board of a
"Tonkong," or a large boat, which was anchored close to the rock. The
convicts were chiefly employed in the capacity of blasters and dressers
of stone. The foundation stone was laid with masonic honours by the
Worshipful Master Brother M. F. Davidson, on the 24th May, 1850, in the
presence of the Governor, Colonel Butterworth, and a large party from
Singapore; and the work was completed and the lamps lighted on the 27th
September, 1851.

The _Free Press_ spoke of it as an edifice of which Singapore might well
be proud. "The granite blocks which form the walls were quarried and
shaped at Pulo Ubin, the timber used in the building was the growth of
our island, the brass rails of the staircases were moulded and turned in
this settlement, and last, not least, the architect and engineer
acquired the skill and experience which enabled him to erect so rapidly
the chaste and stately building during a long and useful career as
Government Surveyor at Singapore." Both the quarrying of the stone at
Pulo Ubin, and the felling of the timber required in the erection of
this lighthouse, were by the work of Indian convicts.

In 1845 the foundation stone of a second lighthouse was laid on a reef
near a small island at the eastern entrance to the Straits of Malacca
called "The Coney." It was also laid with masonic honours by the
Worshipful Master and Brethren of the Lodge Zetland in the East, No.
748, in the presence of the Governor, Colonel Butterworth, and many of
the British and foreign residents at Singapore. This lighthouse was
named after the eminent founder of the settlement, Sir T. Stamford
Raffles, and was completed in 1856. It was built by free labour, but
many convicts were employed, as at the "Horsburgh," as stone cutters,
blasters, and as labourers, under the charge of an officer of the
Convict Department.

We have referred elsewhere to the rules that had from time to time been
framed for the control of these Indian convicts, but now we are able to
state that in 1845-46 what may be called the most complete code of rules
was permanently established. Colonel Butterworth, who was then Governor
of the Straits Settlements, in consultation with the Superintendent of
the Convicts, collected all that had been previously issued, together
with those that subsequent experience had shown to be necessary, and
working on the principles laid down by Sir Stamford Raffles, the new set
of "Rules and Regulations for the Management of the Indian Convicts"
was formally sanctioned, and put in force under the title of the
"Butterworth Rules."

These rules practically recognised the total abolition of free warders
in the control of the convicts, and the substitution entirely of petty
officers, raised from amongst the convicts themselves, together with the
division of the convicts into six distinct classes, according to their
date of arrival in the prison, and their general subsequent behaviour;
holding out to one and to all by exemplary conduct during their
probationary period a certain progressive reward and promotion.

Added to these "Butterworth Rules" were several others of importance,
introduced by Major McNair in 1858-59, and sanctioned by the Government
from time to time as additions to this code. Later, Captain, now
General, J. G. Forlong came to Singapore, as we have stated, to study
the convict system in force; and from the rules in use and the numerous
standing orders that had been issued at various times, he prepared a
valuable digest of the whole, which he duly submitted to the Government
of India, in which he said, "I have but lately visited most of the
convict prisons of England, living for some time with the Governor of
the Dartmoor jail, and I have seen many Indian prisons, and can state
for the Singapore system and establishment, that it is not inferior to
those of England, and quite unequalled by any I have seen in India."

It is to Captain, the late General, Man that the initiation of several
handicrafts is due, and he commenced by starting all kinds of carpenter
work. The old Guthrie's timber bridge across the Singapore River, for
instance, was entirely their work. They were also then taught
brick-laying and blacksmith work; and so valuable was this trained
labour to the State, even at that time, that the Superintending Engineer
of the station wrote to Government in 1849 as follows:--

    "I can most confidently, and without fear of refutation, assert
    it to be simply impracticable to induce and obtain from Chinese
    carpenters that accurate, close, substantial, and lasting
    workmanship which not only can be, but is derived from the
    convict artificers under the absolute control of the present
    able and zealous Superintendent, Captain Man."

We must here not forget to refer to another public building, in the
erection of which the Indian convicts took their part, viz. the New
Civil Jail at Pearls Hill, the foundation stone of which was laid by
Captain Faber, the Superintending Engineer of the Straits Settlements.
Below the stone a brass plate was deposited with the following
inscription, which we give in full as of some peculiar interest, and
evidence of the progress of the settlement up to 1847.

                This Foundation Stone
              H. M. Gaol, at Singapore,
    was laid by Captain Faber, Madras Engineers,
    Superintending Engineer, Straits Settlements,
              on the 6th February, 1847,
       the 27th Anniversary of the Foundation
               of a British Settlement
                   on this Island.
    The Hon'ble Colonel W. J. Butterworth, C.B.,
      being Governor of Prince of Wales Island,
               Singapore, and Malacca,
               the Hon'ble T. Church,
          Resident Councillor at Singapore.
         Queen of Great Britain and Ireland,
       the Right Hon'ble Lord Hardinge, G.C.B.,
         Governor-General of British India.
                God save the Queen.

In a bottle, likewise placed below the stone, the following statistical
information relative to the Straits Settlements, written on parchment,
was enclosed.

The trade for the year 1845-46 of Prince of Wales Island, Singapore, and
Malacca aggregated the sum of Company's Rs. 52,190,685 in merchandise,
and Company's Rs. 9,606,061 in bullion and treasure, making a grand
total of Rs. 61,796,746 (exclusive of the trade between the three
settlements) as follows:--

                      Imports.     Exports.       Total.

  P.W. Island    Rs.  6,614,794   6,528,452  =  13,143,246

  Singapore      "   26,616,448  21,162,987  =  47,779,435

  Malacca        "      509,872     364,193  =     874,065
                   Grand total, Company's Rs.   61,796,746

                          W. J. BUTTERWORTH, Governor.

    SINGAPORE, _6th February, 1847_.

The revenue and charges for the year 1845-46 of Prince of Wales Island,
Singapore, and Malacca, including Civil, Military, Marine, Judicial,
Convicts, etc., were as follows:--


  P.W. Island     Co.'s Rs.  402,783 15 11

  Singapore        "     "   497,186 14  5

  Malacca          "     "   231,158 12  5
                             -------------Rs. 1,131,129 10  5


  P.W. Island     Co.'s Rs.  185,443  2  9

  Singapore                  530,040 15  7

  Malacca                     64,408  9 11
                             -------------Rs.   779,893 12  3
  Total deficit at three settlements      Rs.   351,236 14  6

                          W. J. BUTTERWORTH, Governor.

    SINGAPORE, _6th February, 1847_.

In the year 1848 we find that the Indian convicts were employed in
blasting some considerable part of a mass of rock known to the Malays as
Batu Belayer, or "Stone to sail to," and by Europeans as "Lot's wife."
It was a dangerous obstruction to navigation, being situated on the
Singapore side of the western entrance to the New Harbour.[6] It is
reported as known to the old navigators of those seas, and was shown on
old charts over two hundred years ago.

    [Footnote 6: This entrance to Singapore was called New Harbour
    after the construction there of Cloughton's Dock, now the much
    improved New Harbour Dock. Singapore can now boast of another
    fine dock at Tanjong Pagar, constructed some forty years ago,
    and an additional dock is reported to be in contemplation.]

In following _The Anecdotal History_ it may be well to mention here, as
showing the steady progress of Singapore, that a census was again taken
in 1849, which gave the total population at 59,043--Europeans being
given at 198, Eurasians at 304, Chinese at 24,790; and the remainder was
made up of Malays and other nationalities of the Indian Archipelago, and
from the Coromandel Coast. This was recorded as only a trifling increase
on 1848 amongst the Chinese, and was attributed to the decrease in the
Chinese coolies working in the interior of the island, owing to the
exhaustion of much soil, and the low price of produce, which had caused
many of the planters to open new plantations in Johore.

As an evidence of the variety of the employments to which these Indian
convicts were turned by the Government, it should be remarked that
during the Chinese riots in 1851, when the Chinese Hwuys began to
distrust their countrymen who had become converted to Christianity by a
Roman Catholic mission in the interior of the island, these convicts
were sent out in gangs to follow the rioters into the jungles and
disperse them. These riots lasted for over a week, and it required the
presence at last of the military to quell them. As it was, over 500
Chinese were killed, and among them many of the well-to-do Christian
converts who had become planters.

Utilized as the services of these convicts from India were by the
Government of that day, and their being wholly different in their
habits, customs, and language from the Chinese who formed the bulk of
the town population, it is not to be wondered at that the Chinese felt
themselves estranged from them, and kept themselves ever aloof. There
were, however, some Chinese of the lowest class who sought to embroil
themselves with them, so as to bring the convicts into trouble, but the
convicts always avoided a quarrel. They therefore sought other means,
and in 1852 they gave out and placarded over the town that the Governor
and all the Europeans had left worshipping in St. Andrew's Church, owing
to the number of evil spirits there, and had gone to worship in the
Court House, and that in order to appease the spirits the Governor
required thirty heads, and had ordered the convicts to waylay people at
night and kill them.

These placards created quite a panic in the place, so that people were
for some days afraid to leave their houses after dark. In order to allay
the fears of the people the Governor issued a proclamation saying that
St. Andrew's Church had been struck by lightning and was unsafe (which
was the fact), and he called upon the people not to believe the reports
of evil men. Moreover, he offered a reward of $500 for the discovery of
any person propagating such reports. This had no effect however, so the
leading Chinese merchants were called upon to address their countrymen,
which they did in a long appeal, assuring them of the benevolence of the
Christian Government, and urging them to have no fear and not believe in
foolish reports. In two days the fears of the Chinese population were
thus dispelled. In 1875 a similar "head scare" occurred during the
construction of the "puddle trench" for the new impounding reservoir.
This was a work of considerable difficulty, and some superstitious
natives circulated a report that it could not be done without "human
sacrifice," and that the Government were looking for "heads" to put into
the trench, and the alarm for days was so great that people would not
pass along Thompson's Road adjoining the reservoir after dark; and even
the "dhobies," or washer-men, in the stream adjoining the puddle trench,
hastened into town before dusk. Similar so called "head scares" have
occurred in Singapore up to even the present time. It is not easy to
define what has led to this superstition in the native mind, and it is
made more complicated from the fact that it is shared alike by Chinese
and natives of India. In many of the Polynesian Islands the practice of
human sacrifices we know exists even in our own days, and that chiefs,
when they build a house or a war-canoe, offer up a human being; and the
Polynesians and Indonesians resemble one another very closely. But such
a superstition has not come to us through the Malay race, and we must
rather seek for its origin from the Aryan Hindus of India; and as the
Chinese took most of their tradition and folk-lore from the cradle of
the Aryan races, the belief might thus be common to both peoples.[7] The
Rev. Mr. Ward, writing early in this century, refers to the human
sacrifices at Bardwan, in Bengal, and says of them: "The discovery of
murders in the name of religion was made by finding bodies with the
heads cut off, and placed near the images of 'Durga' and 'Kali.'" Also
at Serampur, before the temple of the goddess "Jara," a human body was
found without a head. Whatever the origin of the superstition may be
traced to, the municipality at Singapore were wisely advised, and we
think very properly declined to take any notice of the recent "head
scare" of this year, and we can only hope that these apprehensions will
gradually cease to stir the minds of the people as they become more
instructed and advanced in civilization.

    [Footnote 7: The old mystic symbol of the Swastika of India,
    for instance, [Illustration: A clockwise Swastika] is common
    amongst the Mongolian races, and other signs of an early union
    between these races might be given.]

Among the many works of utility carried on by convict labour during the
tenure of the office of Superintendent of Convicts by Captain Man was
the widening and improving of the Bukit Timah Canal, in order to drain
the adjacent low lands, and render them capable for cultivation by
market gardeners. In the cutting of these artificial channels the
convicts from India had great aptitude, and some of them had been
employed on similar work in their own country. The largest work,
however, commenced in Captain Man's time, was the erection of the whole
of the permanent buildings required for the location of the then large
number of Indian convicts. They were built within the surrounding wall
of the jail, near the "Brass Basa" or "Wet Rice" Canal, and entirely by
the labour of the convicts themselves. The estimate for the work made by
the Superintending Engineer for their execution by free labour was
100,000 rupees, but the money cost to the Government was only 12,000
rupees, when executed by convict labour and with convict-made materials.
To effect this, the convicts were trained to make the bricks, to dig and
burn coral for lime, to quarry stone for foundations, and to fell the
timber in Government forests in the island, and to dress it for roof
timbers, door and window frames, and so forth.

When Captain Man went to Malacca as Resident Councillor, Captain Ronald
Macpherson, of the Madras Artillery, succeeded him as Superintendent of
Convicts, Singapore, and carried on the works in progress at the time.
This was in the year 1855. The most prominent work commenced by the
convicts in his time, and subsequently carried to completion, was the
erection of the new church, now the cathedral of the diocese. It must be
acknowledged that it was a courageous act on the part of Captain
Macpherson to have designed a church in the early English style of
architecture, and to have pledged himself to the Government that he
would undertake to construct it wholly by convict labour. We think it
showed both confidence in himself and in his convict workpeople, and
nothing could more clearly have proved to what perfection their skilled
labour had advanced than that he felt himself able to embark on so
elaborate a work.

It was in May of this year, 1855, that the Bengal Government approved of
the project, and sanctioned the expenditure in cash of 47,000 rupees
upon its construction. The Bishop of Calcutta laid the foundation stone
during next year before a large concourse of the merchants and residents
of the place, and the inscription below the stone ran as follows:--

    The first English church of Singapore, commenced A.D. 1834, and
    consecrated A.D. 1838, having become dilapidated, this stone of
    a new and more commodious edifice, dedicated to the worship of
    Almighty God according to the rites and discipline of the
    Church of England, under the name of St. Andrew, was laid by
    the Right Reverend Daniel Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Calcutta
    and Metropolitan, on the 4th March, 1856, in the twenty-fourth
    year of his episcopate.

       The Hon'ble Edmund Augustus Blundell being the Governor
                     of the Straits Settlements.

       The Hon'ble Thomas Church being Resident Councillor of

      Lieut-Col. Charles Pooley, of the Madras Army, Commanding
                            the Troops.

         The Rev. William Topley Humphrey being Chaplain.

      And Captain Ronald McPherson of the Madras Artillery being
                           the Architect.

     The Building to be erected at the charge of the Hon'ble East
                           India Company.

     Full Estimate of cost: Co.'s Rupees 120,932, or with Convict
                        Labour Rupees 47,916.

In May, 1857, Captain Man proceeded from Malacca to Penang as Resident
Councillor of that settlement, and Captain Macpherson took his place at
Malacca. Captain Purvis, also of the Madras Artillery, was appointed to
succeed Captain Macpherson in the combined duties of engineer and
Superintendent of Convicts; but, to the regret of the Government, he
relinquished the appointment at the close of the year, and Lieutenant
McNair, another Madras Artillery officer, succeeded him. Lieutenant (now
Major) McNair was a passed interpreter in the Hindustani language, which
was spoken by the bulk of the convicts in the jail, and he subsequently
qualified as a civil engineer. He remained in charge of the convicts
until the jail was abolished in 1873.

Upon his assuming charge, the foundations of the new church had been
laid and the masonry built up to nearly three feet above ground. The
work was steadily carried on in accordance with the plans of Captain
Macpherson, with the single exception that it was found necessary, owing
to the weakness of the foundations, to abandon the heavy tower, and to
place a light steeple instead. In the building of this church, Mr. John
Bennett afforded most material assistance as Assistant Superintendent of
Convicts. To his oversight and careful attention to the variety of
details incident to such a work may be ascribed its satisfactory
completion in January, 1862, when the edifice was consecrated by the
then Bishop of Calcutta, Dr. George Cotton, who so unfortunately met his
death in 1866 by being drowned in the Ganges. Further details in
connection with this work will also be given under the heading of
"Convict Industries and Public Works."

Chapter VII

SINGAPORE (_Continued_)

To continue the narrative according to date, we trace that in the year
1858, after the mutiny, the Indian Government came to the conclusion
that at all principal centres "field redoubts" should be constructed, to
be available as places of refuge for Europeans in the event of a native
rising; and accordingly orders were given for the fortification of
Singapore. Colonel Collyer, of the Madras Engineers, was therefore sent
over from Madras to design and carry out the necessary military works,
and he was given the appointment of Chief Engineer of the Straits

He selected Government Hill for the main work, and improved and enlarged
the batteries on Mounts Palmer and Faber, being of opinion that, beyond
the idea of a place of refuge, the island should be fortified to resist
aggression from without. All his plans were approved, and, as Lord
Canning had then become the first "Viceroy" of India, the main work was
named after him, which name it bears to this day. In the execution of
most of the earthwork, Chinese labour was employed, but the convicts
were utilized in building the sally ports, constructing the drawbridge,
sinking the deep wells; and the whole of the bricks, and much of the
lime and cement required, were manufactured by the convicts at the
Government kilns on the Serangoon Road. Colonel Collyer also designed
other important works in the place, notably the Collyer Quay. Major
Mayne, of the same corps, succeeded him, and in his time the waterworks
scheme for the town was initiated, but not carried fully to completion,
and fresh designs became necessary under his successor, in consultation
with the late Sir Robert Rawlinson, K.C.B.

During this year also the convicts were employed in the erection of a
new court house (now the public offices), the general hospital, lunatic
asylum, pauper hospital, and some other minor public works. They also
built the walls of the reclamation works along the sea front, now known
as Collyer Quay, and above referred to, and the river wall at Campong
Malacca. Both these sea and river works had been attempted by free
labour, but the work of the convicts for this class of rubble walling
was found more suitable, and therefore it was carried on by them, and
with satisfactory results in every way.


_Plate X._]

Shortly after the transfer of the Straits Settlements to the Crown,
which occurred on the 1st April, 1867, the Governor, then Sir Harry St.
George Ord, called upon Major McNair, who had been appointed Colonial
Engineer and Comptroller of the Indian Convicts, to prepare plans for a
Government House to be erected near Mount Sophia, somewhat under two
miles from the town. The plans were approved by the Governor, and passed
by the Legislative Council early in 1868. The land on which it stands
cost $43,800, and the building, furniture, and laying out of the
grounds, $115,000, and the work, with convict labour, was finished for
the reception of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh[8] in December, 1869.

    [Footnote 8: Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.]


We have already incidentally referred to the plans of Captain Man for
the erection of a permanent jail for the Indian convicts, which he had
agreed to construct wholly by convict labour. The enclosure wall already
existed, within which the original temporary buildings and thatched huts
had been run up for their shelter. Only one solid building was within
it, part of which was used as a hospital and the remainder for the
confinement of convicts in irons. The next permanent building to be
erected was quarters for the chief warder, and then came the solid
gateways and guard-rooms. After these were built the wards for the
fourth and fifth classes, or convicts in irons, then Nos. 1 and 2 wards,
all shown on the plan (Plate X.) attached. Then a work-yard was enclosed
by a solid wall, and offices built near the outer entrance to it, for
the offices of the engineer and Superintendent of Convicts. While this
wall was under construction by one gang, other gangs were employed in
erecting within the main enclosure a refractory ward and punishment
cells, and other minor buildings required in the way of store rooms,
filter rooms,[9] chain room, and a receiving room for fresh arrivals;
and the effectual drainage of the whole prison.

    [Footnote 9: These filters were of the simplest construction.
    They consisted of three very porous earthenware pots or
    "chatties" placed on a tripod. In the first was the water to be
    filtered, a foot off was the pot full of charcoal and white
    sand, and the filtered water was drawn off from the third. The
    charcoal and sand were renewed twice a week.]

It was only when all these buildings were actually completed, in the
year 1860, that the establishment assumed the character of a prison; and
the convicts themselves were not slow to realize the fact, for it became
a proverb amongst them that "an open campong, or village, had become a
closed cage."

In 1857 there were altogether under the control of the convict
authorities no fewer than 2,139 transported felons from India and about
fifty from Hongkong. About one half of this number were localised in the
main prison, the other half being employed upon the country roads, the
quarries, and brickfields. These were of the third class; the second
class men were detailed for duties as Government messengers, punkah
pullers at the hospitals and Government offices, and others of this
class also as "lookout men" at the flag-staff stations, helpers to light
keepers, crews for the Government boats conveying firewood to the jail
and brick kilns, and others digging and conveying coral for lime

In the main prison the wards were built of a uniform length of 230 feet,
breadth 60 feet, and height of walls 20 feet. The wards were not ceiled,
but open to the tiles, with a ridge ventilator along the whole roof.
Beneath the side windows, which were barred, ground ventilation was
provided, in order to ensure a current of air throughout the whole
building. The floors were laid in concrete, and cemented over with
"soorkee," or brick dust and cement mixed, and graded to the sides. Each
ward was arranged to contain four hundred convicts. All the convicts
were in association, separate confinement being restricted to the
punishment cells. In each ward were platform sleeping benches. They were
raised three feet at the head, and two feet nine inches at the foot,
above the floor, and were coated with coal tar except on the actual
sleeping place.

Lime-wash was used for the inner roofing timbers and tiles, and
generally for the walls, except for the three feet of dado, which was
coated with coal tar. Parts of this dado were daily re-coated with hot
fresh tar, as we found coal tar to be a valuable deodorizer. To each
ward there were four night urinals, detached from the main building and
provided with double spring doors. In each urinal there were utensils
coated with coal tar, and at every corner iron crates filled with
wood-charcoal to absorb noxious vapours. Down the centre of each ward
spit-boxes were provided for second and third class convicts accustomed
to betel chewing. There was always a night watch of one petty convict
officer in each ward, and surprise visits were often paid at night by
the Superintendent, his assistant, and the chief warder. Going down a
ward at night, one might see four hundred or more of these convicts,
each enveloped from head to foot in a "chadar," or native sheet,
literally over head and ears in sleep. They were all properly worked,
properly fed, and properly punished when they deserved it; so, with the
benefit of the two first, and a wholesome dread of the third, no wonder
they were soon lulled to sleep when the prison doors were closed upon
them. Now, at the risk of being a little tedious, we propose to describe
in some detail the "day" latrines in use in this old jail. The
information may, we think, be of service to those who have native
prisoners under their charge either in jails or police stations in the
East. At this period of time, when conservancy has rightly taken a first
place in all such establishments, it may be thought by some to be
superfluous, but the system pursued by us worked so very well that we do
not hesitate to give an account of it.

There were many such latrines in the prison, so we will confine our
remarks to one only. The building in use for this purpose was about
seventy feet in length and twenty feet wide, and the tiled roof was
supported upon brick pillars raised twelve feet from the ground. In its
construction care was taken, above all things, to ensure a solid floor
"impervious" to "moisture." This was made by first laying down six
inches of well-prepared concrete, consisting of pounded granite,
brick-dust, and gravel cemented together by hydraulic mortar, then
overlaid with pure cement, and after this coated with an inch thick of
asphalt. Around the whole building was an open drain, about two feet
inside of the pillars, and built like the floor, and carefully graded to
the outfall. The walls, pillars, and drains were coated with coal tar,
and here and there daily renewed to ensure deodorization. Close to the
drain, and at eighteen inches apart, were placed troughs of hard wood
two feet in length, one foot nine inches wide, and nine inches deep,
with stout handles at either end. These troughs were smeared over with
pitch. Between every second trough was placed a box containing about a
bushel of powdered red earth, perfectly dry, and in each box was a ladle
made of half a cocoanut shell attached to a handle. Two convicts of the
sixth, or feeble class, were placed in charge of this latrine, whose
duty it was to see that the red earth was sprinkled by those using the
troughs. When the troughs were full they were emptied into a
conservancy cart with a hermetically closed screw top, and when this was
full it was conveyed by bullocks to plantations in the country.

We think we are quite warranted in saying that this was the first jail,
if not the first establishment anywhere, in which this dry earth system
of conservancy was used. For centuries, no doubt, in India the
well-known habit of the cat had been followed by many of the native
castes, but it was not until vast numbers of these convicts from India
were aggregated in association that the application of the system to
their dwellings was initiated, and we think that the clever invention of
the "earth closet" for certain localities may have suggested itself to
its inventor when a resident at Singapore.

It may be as well to give here the testimony of Dr. Mouat, the
Inspector-General of Jails, Bengal, on the efficiency of the conservancy
of this old jail, and in no spirit of self-satisfaction we quote his own
words "verbatim," which are as follows:--

    "Singapore, _1st June, 1865_.--I have sincere pleasure in
    recording the unmixed satisfaction which I have experienced
    from a careful examination of the jail, and system of prison
    management in use at Singapore.

    The scrupulous cleanliness, perfect plan of conservancy,
    excellent order, well-regulated system of labour and
    punishments, and the high standard of health attained are not
    surpassed in any other well-regulated institution of the same
    kind that I am acquainted with in Europe or in Asia. My
    personal knowledge of prisons and of all details of prison
    management is sufficiently extended to entitle me to speak with
    authority on this subject.

    In many important points of internal economy and discipline,
    Singapore can fairly lay claim to being _Primus in Indis_ in
    the adoption and practical working of principles that are now
    generally accepted as sound and correct. My own feeling on the
    subject is that Colonels Man and Macpherson and Captain McNair,
    to whom the chief credit appears to be due, are entitled to
    rank in the first class of prison officers and reformers in

Perhaps the last addition to the jail buildings was the erection by the
convict bricklayers and plasterers of a stand to hold the prison bell,
and from whence to call the roll at general musters. It was built in the
form of a "monopteron," a sort of structure without walls, and composed
of columns arranged in a circle, and supporting a covered cupola.

Chapter VIII


We now come to deal with perhaps not a very inviting part of our
subject, viz. the division of the convicts into classes, their
supervision, artificer trades, hours of work, food, and clothing, but it
must be told in brief in order to make the narrative of this jail

They were divided into six classes, but since the year 1857, when Major
McNair took charge, sec. A of the third class, and sec. A of the fifth
class were added to the classification.

    The _First Class_ consisted of trustworthy convicts allowed out
    on ticket of leave.

    _Second Class_ consisted of convict petty officers, male and
    female, and those employed in hospitals and public offices.

    _Third Class_ were convicts employed on roads and public works,
    having passed through their probationary course.

    _Fourth Class_ were convicts newly arrived, and those degraded
    from other classes or promoted from the fifth class. They
    worked in light irons.

    _Fifth Class_ were convicts degraded from the higher classes,
    and such as required more than ordinary vigilance to prevent
    escape, or regarding whom special instructions had been
    received from India. They worked in heavy irons.

    _Sixth Class_ were invalids and superannuated convicts.

    Youths were transferred to a special gang for "boys."



_Plate XII._]

Convicts, if for life, were admitted to the first class after having
been sixteen years in transportation; if for seventeen years, after
twelve years; and if for seven years, after having been six years in
transportation. Females, for whatever period, from three to five years.
Before a ticket of leave could be granted, the convict had to provide
personal security for his good behaviour and continued presence in the
settlement; and any misdemeanour on his part involved a revoking of his
ticket of leave, and his return to confinement in the prison and
reduction to a lower class. All _First Class_ convicts, whether male or
female, had to attend muster on the first of every month, and had to
keep the Superintendent informed of their place of residence, and were
bound to sleep in it every night.

_Second Class_ convicts were employed as stated. They were allowed to
go out of the jail after working hours, but had to appear at 8 p.m. roll
call daily (except those employed at hospitals and in special duties),
and were required to sleep in prison at night. Convicts were admitted to
this class, on good behaviour, at the Superintendent's discretion, as

  If transported for  7 years, after 5 years.
         "        "  14   "      "   7   "
         "        "  life,       "   8   "

All jail petty officers, from duffadars to orderlies, were included in
this class, and no convict was eligible for an orderly until he had been
eight years in transportation; promotion went either by seniority or
qualification, but he should have been an orderly for two years before
being promoted to a peon.

_Third Class_ convicts. Convicts were admitted to this class at the
Superintendent's discretion--

  If transported for 12 years, after 12 months.
         "        "  14   "      "    2 years.
         "        "  life,       "    3   "

This was not a chain class, and one rupee a month was allowed to each
man for the purchase of condiments, called "subsistence money." If not
belonging to the country gangs, and of approved good conduct, this class
was allowed, after working hours, to be outside the prison until 6 p.m.,
if they had already completed four years in transportation; until that
period had been discharged they were confined after work was over. This
class was allowed to use their sectarian marks as a privilege. Degraded
prisoners of this class were called "Sec. A, 3rd Class," and wore a ring
on each ankle; they were strictly confined to the jail precincts.


Plate XIII.]

_Fourth Class._ All newly arrived convicts, except those regarding whom
special instructions had been received from India, were placed in this
class, and served their probation in it. They were worked in double
light irons, and were not allowed to leave the prison except for work;
they were not granted any money allowance, but fish, vegetables and
condiments were supplied to them with their rations. They were, however,
allowed the privilege to cook their own food.

_Fifth Class._ This was a "punishment class" for troublesome characters
from the upper classes, and every man degraded to it had to serve two
years before being again promoted to the fourth class, and an additional
six months before he could be promoted to the third class, unless the
Superintendent saw sufficiently good cause for leniency. This class
received clothing and rations like the fourth class, with vegetables,
fish, and condiments; but all were cooked for them in mess under a
convict cook. They received no money allowance, and were not allowed to
leave the prison except for work. Refractory prisoners of this class
were called "Sec. A, 5th Class"; they were put in the heaviest irons,
with wrist irons if necessary, and were confined in the refractory ward
on severe task work, as making coir from the rough husk of the
cocoa-nuts, pounding and cleaning rice, and such like hard labour.

"Flogging": If upon rare occasions this punishment had to be resorted
to, the culprit was first inspected by the medical officer to see if he
were capable to undergo the sentence: usually the number of lashes was
from one dozen up to six dozen with the cat-o'-nine-tails. If passed by
the medical officer, the punishment was inflicted in the presence of the
convicts, and by selected convict warders, the medical officer or his
apothecary being invariably present during the infliction. The triangles
were of the usual pattern, and the flogging was on the buttock.

No person was allowed to punish a convict but the Superintendent or the
Assistant Superintendent acting for him. The defaulter was brought to
the inquiry room, the case inquired into fully, and the default and
sentence duly recorded in a book kept for the purpose.


_Plate XIV._]

_Sixth Class._ This class embraced all invalid and incapable men who
were able to perform light work, as sweepers, watchmen in country
commands, and in charge of latrines; also caretakers at Government
bungalows, and those superannuated men who were exempt from all work. No
convicts were admitted to this class until declared unfit for hard work
by the medical officer and the Annual Medical Committee. Men of
approved conduct got the indulgences of their former class. Female
convicts belonged to this class, of which there were always a few under
transportation. They were confined in a separate ward under a convict
matron, and no prison male warder was allowed therein on pain of

The supervising staff consisted of a Superintendent--who was also the
Executive Engineer of the station--and his assistant, a chief warder and
two assistants, an overseer of artificers and of roads. The native
staff, being all petty officers raised from amongst the convicts,
consisted of three duffadars, eight first tindals, twenty-two second
tindals, ninety-four peons, and sixty-five orderlies, for the number of
convicts then under confinement.

In the year 1857 there were 2,139 convicts from different parts of
India, Burmah, and Ceylon in this jail; but upon an average, until the
prison was broken up, there were 1,900 always under control. The men
from India were Seikhs, Dogras, Pallis, or a shepherd race; Thugs and
Dacoits from different parts of the Bengal presidency, and mostly from
round about Delhi and Agra; felons from all parts of the Madras and
Bombay presidencies, and a few from Assam and Burmah, chiefly Dacoits,
and a sprinkling of Cingalese.

Upon arrival from India, each convict was checked with the warrants that
accompanied the several gangs, then photographed, bathed, and supplied
with the prison clothing, and each received a number by which, until he
entered the third class, he was always known. Each convict was then duly
inspected by the medical officer before admission to the wards. Any
property with them was scheduled and put away until they were entitled
to receive it, and the clothing in which they arrived was duly

The artificer body was drawn from the third and fourth classes only, and
they were subject to the same discipline as their classes in the general
prison. They were divided into four grades, according to the degree of
skill they evinced, and received a monthly allowance commencing at one
half a rupee, or 1s. a month, up to the highest sum given to the best
workmen of 10s. a month, who were called "tindal maistris," and who
were entrusted with the duty of teaching beginners. These tindal
maistris were exempted from keeping watch in the wards at night.

The several trades taught in the prison were as follows, and none of
them were dangerous to health except the cement-sifting by females on
treadles, which had to be discontinued:--

  Bricklayers and plasterers.

  Brick and tile makers and potters.


  Basket makers.


  Carpenters, cement and lime burners.



  Lime and charcoal burners.



  Sawyers, stone cutters, and blasters.


  Shoe and sandal makers.


  Turners and weavers.




  Stone masons.


_Plate XV._]

Those few of the convicts who had acquired a trade in their native
country were not admitted to the artificer gang until they had gone
through their probationary period in irons on the public roads. The bulk
of the convicts were trained in the prison itself; and after the year
1857 native methods of working were abandoned, and the use of our
carpenter's bench introduced, and English tools employed in all trades.

They felled and stacked timber upon the island, which, after conveyance
to the yard, was sawn and wrought into all that was required for roofing
timbers, doors and window frames. They made the bricks, lime, and
cement, and all tiles necessary for roofing or for paving. They quarried
the stone at Pulo Obin for foundations, and for sea and river walls. The
blacksmiths cast and forged from the raw state all the iron work for
which there was a necessity. As a matter of fact all material and all
labour for the execution of any public work required by the Government
were executed by these convicts, from a small timber bridge upon a
country road, even to the erection of a "cathedral" and "Government
House," of which it is purposed further to give a detailed account.

This is the proper place in which we may mention that in the years
1859-60 the estimated value of this convict labour was 162,230 rupees,
while the expenses of the whole convict department amounted to 117,578
rupees. In 1860-61 the manufacture account showed a balance of 25,028
rupees in favour of the State, though profit was always deemed of
secondary importance. Material was valued at one half the market rate,
and the labour at two-thirds the value of the same labour prevailing in
the place.

The hours of work were limited to nine, including the time taken in
marching to and fro from the works; but to add to discipline we would
occasionally give them some extra hours of work, answering somewhat to
our "pipebrooms" in the Navy, or the "pipe-claying of belts" in our Army
on the line of march on active service.


_Plate XVA._]

The jail bell was rung at 5 a.m. (except Sunday), when every convict
rose, rolled up his blanket with the number visible, and placed his
"chadar" or sheet in his box, which was also numbered to correspond. He
was marched out to the prison yard with the men of his ward, and the
roll was called by the responsible officer. Time for light food was
allowed, and the convicts were then detailed to the work gangs as
arranged overnight. The work gangs left the prison punctually at 6
a.m., and returned at 11 a.m.; were marched out again at 1 p.m.,
returning at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m. a roll was again called for the 3rd, 4th,
and 5th classes, who were then locked up for the night. At 8 p.m. there
was another roll call for those who had the privilege, and then all were
seen to their wards, and all wards and gates were locked by 9 p.m., when
strict silence reigned throughout the prison; the European warder going
rounds up to 10 p.m., and occasionally, with the Superintendent and his
assistant, paying surprise night rounds. Convicts on the march out of
prison were moved five abreast, or as they called it "panch-panch,"
literally, by "fives."

On the first of every month there was a general muster of the whole of
the convicts, including the first class, when the roll was called, and
each answered to his name or number. This muster was always in the
presence of the Superintendent, who inspected each convict, and if any
one had a grievance his name was taken down, and his complaint
afterwards inquired into at the "Inquiry Room." This opportunity was
taken by the Superintendent to inspect the whole prison, wards,
latrines, drains, and bathing places.

The rations required for the jail were either obtained upon indent upon
the Government Commissariat Department, or by tender called for in the
town. Each convict's daily allowance was as follows:--

  To 2nd, 3rd,     Rice.  Dholl  Salt.   Ghee,   Vege-   Fish.  Mussalah
  and 6th classes          or            clari-  tables.        or Curry
  without                 Peas.          fied                   Stuff.
  condiments.                            Butter.

                    oz.    oz.    drs.    drs.    oz.     oz.     drs.

  Effective men     32      5      8       8      --      --      7¼

  Invalids and      24      2      8       8      --      --      7¼

To the fourth and fifth classes, being effective, with condiments, fish
and vegetables alternating thus--

                   Rice.  Dholl.  Salt.  Ghee.   Vege-   Fish.  Mussalah
                                                 tables.        or Curry

                    oz.    oz.    drs.    drs.    oz.     oz.     drs.

  Monday            28      5      1      10       5      --      7¼

  Tuesday           28     --     --      10      --       5      7¼

We found that this dietary scale was sufficient to a native under labour
to repair waste tissue without giving fat. The "ghee," or clarified
butter, made the rice more nutritious, and the "dholl," or peas,
contained both albumen and starch, which would of themselves alone
support life. For the penal class there was the usual congee diet.

All convicts not being in the first class, nor employed as messengers in
hospitals or at public offices (when they received a compensation), were
clothed in the jail.

  The 2nd, 3rd, and 6th }  half-yearly  {  Nine yards of stout grey
  classes               }      and      {  shirting.
                        }  duly marked  {  One suit.
  4th and 5th classes   }               {  Two working suits and
                                           a stout cap

To all annually was given one blanket of coarse wool called a "kumblie,"
and made by the convicts themselves from wool purchased in the place and
prepared by them for the purpose.

Belts and brass plates for them were supplied only to duffadars,
tindals, peons, and orderlies.

The European warders were dressed in a light blue serge loose coat with
lace round the cap, and distinctive badge to indicate the grade, and in
the case of an overseer of artificers a hammer and chisel crossed. After
the reception in 1858-59 of a large number of mutineers they were
supplied with a belt and revolver.

Chapter IX


In referring to the variety of public works undertaken by these Indian
convicts, we have hitherto refrained from going into much detail in
regard to them; but we think it will not be without interest to dwell
somewhat more at length, as we have proposed, upon the construction of
the cathedral and the Government House, which still remain as records of
their labour, and spring into the greatest prominence. Of the jail
itself, which, as we have said, was planned and partially carried out by
the late General Man, nothing further need, we think, be added for it is
now dismantled except that it was in truth the training ground for the
artificer gang under that able officer, who saw the absolute necessity
of having some large public work in hand in order to the convicts
acquiring a knowledge of the various trades. This principle in the
management of convicts was advocated by Sir Edmund Du Cane in one of his
pamphlets, in which he judiciously says that "the best system devised
for the employment of convicts is that of executing large public works
by means of their labour."



_Plate XVI._]

As the late General Man had for this purpose the erection of the
permanent jail, so the late Colonel Macpherson planned and laid the
foundations for execution by their labour of St. Andrew's Church, now
the cathedral of the diocese; while to Major McNair fell the duty of
designing and constructing almost wholly by these convicts the house for
the Governor of the colony.

CATHEDRAL[10] (see Plate XVI.).

In preparing the designs of this ecclesiastical edifice, Colonel
Macpherson had to select as simple and easy a form of architecture as he
could, and with as little ornament as possible, and therefore within the
capacity of his workpeople; so he chose the Gothic, or rather, we should
say, the Early English style of about the 12th century, and in so doing
he said he had somewhat reproduced the character of old Netley
Abbey.[11] He laid the foundations, and saw it built up to about three
feet above the ground, and then left for Malacca to take up the
appointment of Chief Civil Officer there, and was therefore not able
further to see the progress of the work that he had inspired. His plans,
however, were carefully followed by his successor, with the exception,
as has already been said, of substituting a spire for a tower, owing to
undue settlement at the tower end. This building is 250 feet long
internally, by 65 feet in width, with nave and side aisles; or, with the
north and south transepts, 95 feet, the transepts being used as
porticoes. The simple columns, with plain mouldings only, carried
arches, on which rested the side walls of the nave, which were run up of
sufficient height to clear the roofs of the aisles, and were perforated
by a range of windows to admit light to the whole building. At the
north-east end of the nave was a great arch leading into a chancel, and
an apse with three lancet windows in stained glass. The building was
roofed with teak timber, with a sarking of lighter wood as a lining to
form a contrast, and then covered with slates imported from England.
Over the main entrance is a vaulted dome, with a neat piece of groining
in granite, also made by the convicts. Leading to the organ loft is a
circular well staircase, made from quarter-inch plate iron, the treads
and risers punched with holes by the punching machine in the work yard
to render them lighter. They were bracketed together, and secured by
screw bolts and nuts. The risers were bent round a two-inch bar of round
iron, which passed down through all of them at the centre from top to
bottom of the staircase. The whole was made and fixed in its place by
the convicts.

    [Footnote 10:

      Archdeacon and Chaplain, Ven. John Perham; }
      Choirmaster, Mr. C. B. Buckley;            } 1899.
      Organist, Mr. E. Salzmann.                 }        ]

    [Footnote 11: Colonel Macpherson had seen as a young man the
    ruins of the old church and abbey of Netley, or "Letley," as it
    was originally called, from the Latin word "lætus," pleasant,
    and the Saxon word "ley," a field, and had been so impressed
    with the simple character and proportions of the Early English
    style of church architecture, of which this was an excellent
    example, that when called upon to plan a new church for
    Singapore, he, as we say, chose this as his model.

    We have a very good account of Netley Abbey given in 1848 by
    George Guillaume, architect, and from his description it was
    founded in 1239, and was occupied by monks of the Cistercian
    order, who were brought over from a neighbouring monastery at
    Beaulieu in the New Forest, where there was already an abbey
    dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Netley Church was built on a
    cruciform plan, and was proportioned according to the ancient
    mysterious figure called the "Visica Pisces," as will be seen
    in the sketch below from his work.

        [Illustration: A Visica Pisces.]

    Singapore Church, now, as we have said, the cathedral of the
    diocese, has been much admired for its true symmetry and exact
    proportion, as well as for the delicate simplicity of its

As a pattern for the convicts to follow, we built two arches on the
ground, the exact counterpart of those in the building; and, indeed, at
any time when they wanted a guide, we had a model made; and the natives
of India are such wonderful imitators, as we all know, that they soon
were able to follow the copy we had given them. So the work progressed
from day to day, until it was ultimately finished in 1862. We found that
the skill of the convicts never failed them, and their capacity as
builders and carpenters never seemed to slacken.

In dealing with the interior walls and columns, we used what is well
known, though little employed with us in England, "Madras chunam," made
from shell lime without sand; but with this lime we had whites of eggs
and coarse sugar, or "jaggery," beaten together to form a sort of paste,
and mixed with water in which the husks of cocoanuts had been steeped.
The walls and columns were plastered with this composition, and, after a
certain period for drying, were rubbed with rock crystal or rounded
stone until they took a beautiful polish, being occasionally dusted with
fine soapstone powder, and so leaving a remarkably smooth and glossy

We have given the dimensions of this building, but we may remark that,
owing to the simplicity of its tracery and mouldings, it really appears
much larger than it actually is, and being built on an open space, its
proportions at once strike the eye of every visitor to the colony.

A peal of bells was added to the cathedral in 1889 by the munificence of
Mr. W. H. Read, C.M.G., who, with the late Mr. John Crawfurd, Mr. James
Guthrie, and others, was instrumental in bringing about the transfer
of these settlements to the Crown, and some of their portraits are now
in the Town Hall, including that of Mr. Thomas Scott, then M.L.C.



_Plate XVII._]


We have already mentioned that the transfer of the Straits Settlements
from the direct control of India to the Crown was effected on the 1st
April, 1867. The first Governor under the new _régime_ was Colonel Sir
Harry St. George Ord, R.E., who, upon his arrival in Singapore, had to
take up his abode in a hired house. He therefore lost no time in issuing
orders to purchase land, and to erect a suitable residence for himself
and for the future Governors of the colony. Plans were accordingly
called for from the colonial engineer (Major McNair), and they soon took
shape and were submitted by the Governor to the Legislative Council
without delay; and money was voted for the erection of the building, the
purchase of land, and the ordering of furniture from England. The work
was actually commenced within three months of the Governor's arrival,
the foundation-stone was laid by Lady Ord a month later, and the
building was made ready for the reception of H.R.H. the Duke of
Edinburgh in October, 1869.

The whole of the brick work, exterior plastering, and most of the
flooring and interior work were effected by convict labour; but it
became necessary, towards the last, to employ free labour, to assist in
the flooring, which was executed with battens from the steam sawmills at
Johore, and also in the coffering of the ceilings in the drawing-room
and some plastering in the rear block. The whole of the bricks used were
made by the convicts, and much of the lime and cement was of their

The edifice stands upon a hill in the eastern suburb of the town, about
a mile and a quarter from the cathedral, and is surrounded by nearly 100
acres of ground, which has been tastefully laid out, and planted with
rare plants under successive Superintendents of the Government Botanical
Gardens. The building commands an extensive view of the harbour and
surrounding country, and from the tower the distant islands and mainland
of Johore are distinctly visible. It is supplied with water from the
town water supply,[12] by the use of a hydraulic ram. It was first
lighted with gas, but now by the electric light throughout the whole

    [Footnote 12: Also a work which we initiated and brought to
    completion on designs approved by the late Sir Robert
    Rawlinson, K.C.B.]


_Plate XVIII._]

The house is built somewhat in the shape of a cross. Ascending a flight
of broad steps from the wide portico, you enter a spacious entrance hall
floored with beautiful white marble from Java, having in your direct
front a handsome stone staircase leading up through an arcade to a
half-pace, from which it returns right and left to the lobby above,
which is of the same dimensions as the entrance hall. Off this lobby, on
the eastern wing, is the library, and beyond, the principal bed and
dressing-rooms, and an open verandah over the portico (since regrettably
built in). In the western wing is a double drawing-room, with disengaged
pillars between; and below, off the entrance hall, on the east side, is
the ball-room, and on the west the dining hall and billiard-rooms.
Store-rooms, pantries, and all necessary accommodation were supplied as
in any of our home mansions.

The ground floor of the building is raised four feet from the plateau,
and ample ventilation is provided underneath. The building is 230 ft. in
frontage, and 180 ft. in depth, and the height to the tower is 80 ft.
The style is Ionic upon Doric, with Corinthian pillars and pilasters to
the tower. It is roofed with slates, and the lower floors and verandahs
are paved with marble.

As at the cathedral training for the convicts, so here models of the
pillars and capitals were made on the ground for them to copy, and the
special bricks for mouldings, copings, architraves, and capitals were
made at the convict brick kilns.[13] The plaster work for the exterior
walls was a subject of much consideration with us; and, after various
experiments, we arrived at the following composition, and it has
thoroughly withstood the weather, which, under the trying circumstances
of a rapid succession of damp and heat, was exceptional in that

  Portland cement        2 parts.  }
                                   } Carefully and
  White selected sand    1 part.   } slowly mixed
                                   } by the
  Granite powdered to }            } convicts.
  dust in small       }  2 parts.  }
  handmills, or       }            }
  querns              }            }

    [Footnote 13: All taught by ourselves to the convicts, with the
    assistance of Overseer Callcott, now risen to be Deputy
    Colonial Engineer.]

A gift by the Chinese community of a statue of H.M. the Queen was
unveiled with some ceremony at this Government House in the year 1889.


We have already enumerated the various trades that were taught to these
Indian convicts, and shall therefore confine our remarks here to a brief
description of some of those productive occupations upon which we
employed their labour both within and without the main jail.

We must, however, make known beforehand, in connection with intra-mural
works, that, attached to the main jail, yet distinctly separated from it
by high walls and a guarded gateway, was a "work-yard," in which were
built shops for carpenters, blacksmiths, coopers, wheelwrights, sawyers,
stone-cutters, and turners in wood and iron.



_Plate XIX._]

In one part of this yard was also a machine shop, in which were fitted
lathes, punching and shearing machines, and a bolt and nut machine, also
a band saw and a circular saw table. To drive this machinery a 12 h.p.
engine was used, and this was placed under the charge of a convict who
had been employed in the engine-room of a P. and O. steamer, and had
gone through his probationary period in the jail. Added to these
machines was one of Blake's stone-crushers to break stone of various
gauges for metalling the roads of the town.

This was the first Indian jail, and we might even go so far as to say it
was amongst the first of any jails, where convicts were employed in
connection with steam power. We had, it is true, an engine to be worked
by manual power, for six or eight men abreast, to drive the circular
saw, but it did not answer. It was intended as "crank" labour for the

When Dr. Mouat, the Inspector-General of Jails, Bengal, wrote his annual
report of 1864-65, he said: "I have suggested the introduction of steam
machinery for the spinning of jute yarn, in order that all prisoners
sentenced to rigorous imprisonment may never be without the hard labour
which the jail is bound to provide for them. In this, as in most matters
connected with the organization of prison industry, I have been
anticipated by the authorities at Singapore, there being a steam
saw-mill in use at the Singapore jail, and a pug-mill employed in the
preparation of the clay used in the brick and tile manufactory."

The carpenters made every necessary article required for the public
buildings in progress; even the pulpit, reading-desk, and interior
fittings for the cathedral were the work of their hands. The blacksmiths
had four smithies, and forged, cast, and prepared all kinds of ordinary
iron work found necessary. The coopers made buckets, tubs, and all the
casks for storing cement, and for other jail purposes. The wheelwrights
made all the carts, barrows (hand and wheel), and the hack-barrows
wanted at the brick kilns. The stone-cutters turned out the mouldings,
mullions, capitals, cills, steps, and all that was essential in our
building operations.

Within the jail proper there were shops for tailors, weavers, rattan
workers, coir and rope makers, flag makers, a printing press, and a
photographic studio, and a few draughtsmen for executing plans and
working drawings. The tailors cut out, made, and repaired the clothing
for the fourth and fifth classes, and any other such occupation required
in the prison. The weavers, who worked with an ordinary Indian
hand-loom, made the coarse cloth required for those classes in irons,
and washed, dressed, combed, carded, and spun the raw wool purchased
from the butchers in the town, from which the "kumblies" or coarse
blankets supplied to all the convicts were made. The coir or yarn
manufactured from the husks of cocoanuts was prepared by those employed
at "hard labour" in the refractory ward. From this yarn we made cordage
for the convict boats, mattresses for the hospitals, and matting of
various kinds. The flag makers made up and repaired the flags and
colours for the signal stations, and for the department of the master
attendant. Upon this work female convicts, and feeble men of the sixth
class, were usually employed.

The printing press was established in 1860, and to start it the services
of a Portuguese foreman printer were engaged for a short time to teach
the convicts; and bookbinding was added later on. Photography was taught
by one of us[14] to two intelligent convicts of the Calcutta Baboo class
who wrote English. All convicts had their likeness taken, and were
registered for identification in case of escape; also local prisoners
and men under custody by the police. We had not, of course, the
knowledge then of Mr. Henry's method of identity by means of
"finger-prints," for it was only approved last year by the Government of
India. The draughtsmen, numbering three, executed all the plans and
working drawings for the public works. Those for the cathedral and
Government House, and many other buildings, were drawn by these men, the
principal draughtsman being a convict transported from Bombay of the
name of Babajee. The rattan workers wrought chairs and baskets of all
kinds, fenders for the Government steamers, and signal baskets for the

    [Footnote 14: Major McNair, who himself supplied both apparatus
    and chemicals.]

There were other minor industries carried on within the prison walls, so
that it was a busy scene of task work from one end to the other, for
every one was engaged upon something, and there was no chance for an
idler to do nothing. Nursing a job was quite out of the question.

But we must pass on to deal with the industries beyond the walls, and we
shall limit our description to the making of bricks, lime, and cement,
and the quarrying of stone, and well digging.


It will be quite superfluous to give an account in detail of the method
pursued in brick and tile making, for the process is known to every one.
Suffice it to say that Colonel Faber, R.E., as previously noted, was the
first to introduce the manufacture on Government account; he opened a
place at Rochore, near the present gasworks, and employed free labour.
The system was what is known as the "dry" and sand-moulding system, and
the bricks were burned in clamps. All that could be said of these bricks
was that they were better than those made by the Chinese at that time,
but they were not a success, and the manufacture was after two or three
years given up.

In 1858 we started, on a systematic principle, under a trained European
brick maker, an extensive brick field on the Serangoon Road, about three
miles from the town, where there was a considerable bed of excellent
clay for the purpose. The site, too, was well situated near the banks of
an inlet from the sea, and affording great facility for water carriage,
and with a palm grove close at hand, under the shade of which the
convicts were allowed to roam without restraint when their work was
over. Sheds, kilns, pug-mills, moulding tables, and all the necessary
appliances for hand-made bricks were soon set on foot, and a large
dormitory, surrounded by a stout precinct fence, was built for the
number of convicts required for the manufacture, approximating to about
120 of all classes, except those in irons.

Our process was commonly known as "slop-moulding," each moulder turning
out from 2,500 to 3,000 bricks in the course of the day. After the
second year, when the convicts had become accustomed to the work, and to
adapt themselves to each other, we were able to supply all that were
needed for the public works, and even to export them for works at
Malacca. In tabulating the account of the value of their labour and the
outlay for fuel, and comparing it with the recognised value of the
bricks, there was found to be a credit to the State in most years. (See
Appendix No. 4.)

When, in 1867, there was an Agricultural Exhibition at Agra, in the N.W.
Provinces of India, we sent up specimens of bricks, tiles, drain pipes
of all sizes, and stable flooring bricks, manufactured by these
convicts, for which the Superintendent gained the silver medal; and if
any further proof is needed of the excellent work turned out by these
convicts, we may quote the report of the late Colonel Fraser, of the
Bengal Engineers, which ran as follows:--

    "As an Engineer Officer of the D.P.W., I have had a good deal
    of experience as regards the management of jails in India and
    Burmah, and have, of course, employed much convict labour, but
    I have never been in any jail where the arrangements are so
    perfect as in that of Singapore. While the discipline under
    which the convicts are held is obviously most efficient, the
    skill with which their labour is directed will be equally
    obvious to all who will take the trouble, as I have done, to go
    into the detail of their operations, and look at the results in
    the many large works which have been executed at Singapore.

    I went over the brick field with Captain McNair, and while I
    found that the greatest reasonable amount of work was got out
    of each man, I also found that the work turned out was the best
    I have seen in India. Where there are good bricks, other work
    is seen to be equally good, and when a proper amount of work is
    required per convict, then the discipline must be also good; I
    measured myself what the men were expected to do, and found it
    to be three cubic yards in eight hours. This is the full task
    of a European sapper in the same time."

Our lime and cement were made from coral, of which there were extensive
reefs round the Island of Singapore, and some few "atolls" (a Cingalese
word), or special coral islands. Coral is almost a pure carbonate of
lime, and therefore very well suited for the purpose. It was broken up
and heated in kilns constructed for the purpose. The cement was made
from this lime, and from selected clay, in the proportions we had by
careful experiments established, until we obtained a good and
quick-setting article. It was made into small balls and then dried, and
burnt in a special kiln, and afterwards well and finely ground and
sifted by female convicts; its tensile strength was excellent.


_Plate XX._]


The stone we used for all our building operations was procured from an
island between Singapore East and the mainland of Johore, and was named
Pulo Obin. It is about three miles long and three-quarters of a mile
broad. The stone was the best possible form of crystallised granite,
fine grained, very compact and durable, grey in colour, with here and
there black patches or nodules of hornblende. It occurs in large fluted
boulders, and was wrought by the convicts by fire, or by blasting with
gun-powder, or split by pointed chisels and large hammers. Its weight
was 168 lbs. per cubic foot. The excellent quality of this granite led
the Government of India to approve of the construction by the late
Colonel Eraser, C.B., of several courses for the Alguada Reef
lighthouse, which was built upon a dangerous reef off the coast of
Burmah. Our department looked after the preparation of some of these
courses, and forwarded them by ship to Burmah.


It is known to everyone how capable the Indians are in the sinking of
wells, and that with many Orientals it is a work of great merit to build
one. As two were required for Fort Canning, we were soon able to select
men fitted for this special work amongst the third class convicts, who,
many of them, begged to be allowed to take part in their construction.
After a careful set of borings, we came upon water at a depth of 180 and
120 feet respectively. They were eventually dug out to these depths, and
steined to six feet in diameter by the use of sound and hard bricks from
the convict kilns. The water rose to a height of 80 feet from the
surface of the ground, and they were provided with lift and force pumps
for the convenience of the troops in garrison. It was a heavy job for
the convicts, but they performed it with eagerness and alacrity.

Chapter X


No. 1

Most of the convicts sentenced to the Straits Settlements for short
periods of transportation were, as we have said, usually retained in the
convict jail at Malacca. Amongst these, in the sixties, was a very
remarkable man, and known to both of us, of the name of "Tickery Banda,"
who was a native of Ceylon, and had received a sentence of seven years
in transportation for a crime committed in that island, though of which
he declared, like many of his congeners, he was perfectly innocent.

A story in connection with this man is given in Cameron's _Tropical
Possessions in Malayan India_, which is quite worthy of repetition here.

When the English took possession of Kandy, Tickery Banda and two or
three brothers, children of the first minister of the King of the
Kandians, were taken and educated in English by the then Governor of the
island. Tickery afterwards became manager of some coffee plantations,
and was so employed on the arrival of a Siamese mission of priests in
1845, who came to see Buddha's tooth. It seems that he met the mission
returning disconsolate, having spent some 5,000 rupees in presents and
bribes in a vain endeavour to obtain a sight of the relic. Tickery
learned their whole story, and at once ordered them to unload their
carts and wait for three days longer, and that he would in due time
obtain for them the desired view of the holy tooth. He had a cheque on a
bank for £200 in his hands at the time, and this he offered to leave
with the priests as a guarantee that he would fulfil his promise. He did
not say whether the cheque was his own or his master's, or whether it
was handed over or not; perhaps it was this cheque for the
misappropriation of which he found his way to the convict lines of
Malacca. The Siamese priests accepted his undertaking and unloaded their
baggage, agreeing to wait for the three days. Tickery immediately placed
himself in communication with the then Governor, and represented, as he
says, forcibly, the impositions that must have been practised upon the
King of Siam's holy mission, when they had expended all their gifts and
had not yet obtained the desired view of the tooth. The Governor, who,
Tickery says, was a great friend of his, appreciated the hardships of
the priests, and agreed that the relic should be shown to them with as
little delay as possible. It happened, however, that the keys of the
temple where the relic was preserved were in the keeping of the then
Resident Councillor, who was away some eight miles elephant shooting.
But this difficulty was not long allowed to remain in the way, for
Tickery immediately suggested that it was very improbable that the
Resident Councillor would have included these keys in his hunting kit,
and insisted that they must be in the Councillor's house. He therefore
asked the Governor's leave to call upon Mrs. ----, the Resident
Councillor's wife, and, presenting the Governor's compliments, to
request that a search be made for the keys. Tickery was deputed
accordingly, and by dint of his characteristic tact and force of
language, carried the keys triumphantly to the Governor.

The Kandy priests were immediately notified that their presence was
desired, as it was intended to exhibit the great relic, and that their
guardian officer would be necessary. Accordingly, on the third day, the
temple was opened, and in the building the Siamese priests and
worshippers were assembled, with Tickery on the one side, and the Kandy
or guardian priests on the other side, with the Governor and the
Recorder in the centre.

After making all due offerings to the tooth of the great Buddha, the
Siamese head priest, who had brought a golden jar filled with otto of
roses, desired to have a small piece of cotton with some of the otto
rubbed on the tooth, and then passed into the golden jar, thereby to
consecrate the whole of the contents. To this process the Kandy priests
objected, as being a liberty too great to be extended to foreigners. The
Siamese priests, however, persisted in their request; and the Governor
and Recorder, not knowing the cause of the altercation, asked Tickery to
explain. Tickery, who had fairly espoused the cause of the Siamese,
though knowing that in their request they had exceeded all precedent,
resolved quietly to gratify their wish; so, in answer to the Governor's
interrogatory, he took from the hands of the Siamese head priest a small
piece of cotton and the golden jar of the volatile oil. "This is what
they want, your Honour: they want to take this small piece of cotton,
so--; and having dipped it in this oil, so--, they wish to rub it on the
sacred tooth, so--; and having done this, to return it to the golden
jar, so; thereby, your Honour, to consecrate the whole of the contents
of the golden jar."

All the words of Tickery were accompanied by the corresponding action,
and of course the desired ceremony had been performed in affording
explanation. The whole thing was the work of a moment, and the Governor
and Recorder did not know how to interfere in time, though they knew
also that such a proceeding was against all precedent. The Kandy priests
were quite taken aback, while the Siamese priests, having obtained their
desired object, took from Tickery Banda's hands the now consecrated
golden jar with every demonstration of fervent gratitude. The Kandy
priests were, however, loud in their indignation, and subsequently the
Governor, patting Tickery on the back, said, "You have indeed settled
the question, and it is a pity you were not born in the precincts of St.
James', for you would have made a splendid political agent."

The next morning Tickery received a douceur of 1,000 rupees from the
Siamese priests, and has ever since been held in the highest esteem and
respect by the King of Siam and his Buddhist priests, being considered
quite a holy man, while periodically the King of Siam sends him
substantial tokens of the Royal favour.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 2

It was remarkable what a wide difference there was between the accounts
given by the convicts themselves, of the circumstances which were the
cause of their transportation, and the summary of them given in the
warrants sent with them. Although many of them did not deny having
committed what the law looked upon as a crime, they, under the
circumstances, either considered that the act was justifiable, or
perhaps that it was the result of accident. Here is the case of a
convict who was sentenced to transportation for life for murder, given
as related by himself.

               *       *       *

"In my Madras native village, I 'Rudrapah' was a planter (ryot). I was
possessed of several large paddy fields; some were near my house and
others were far off. At a little distance from my house a friend of mine
lived, 'Allagappen' by name. He also was a ryot, and possessed of paddy
fields. He often came to eat rice with me, and I often went to his
house; we were like brothers. At a village about six miles away, there
lived a man who was a breeder of cattle. He and his wife were very
partial to me, and it was arranged between us that I should marry their
daughter when she was old enough--she was then eleven years of age. All
went well for two years, and then I was married to the girl and took her
to my house. My friend, 'Allagappen,' used to come and visit us and eat
rice as before. Things went on very well for five or six years: my wife
and I were very happy together, and never quarrelled; we had only one
child. Having saved some money, I bought a bandy (a country vehicle) and
a pair of bulls, and used to hire them to any one travelling. Sometimes
my bandy would be engaged for a long journey, and I would be away from
my house for two or three days together, leaving my wife and child
alone. But now my trouble began. About six months after I bought my
bulls, one of them got sick and died. I had not then enough money to buy
another, and was on the point of selling the bandy and remaining bull,
when my wife proposed that we should ask her father to help us, as he
had plenty of bulls. I had not thought of this, and I said, 'Very
good.' We went and saw my father-in-law, and he agreed to let me have a
bull and pay for it as I earned money. Soon after that I hired my bandy
to a man to go to a town thirty miles away, expecting to be away some
days. I left my wife and child under the charge of a neighbour and his
wife, who promised to look after them. I and the man who hired my bandy
set out early in the morning, and reached the town about mid-day next
day. In the evening the man told me he was going to stay many days in
the town, and I could return to my house. He paid me, and I bought some
things I wanted. Early next morning, at daybreak, I set out on my
journey back to my village, and arrived there about 3 o'clock the next
morning; and after seeing to my bulls I went to my house and to my
surprise found the door unfastened. I entered without making any noise,
not knowing what could be the reason the door was not fastened. I went
quickly into my sleeping place, and there I saw my wife laying asleep,
and beside her was a man also asleep. On going close up to him that I
might see who it was, to my great sorrow I found that it was my friend,
'Allagappen.' It was my great misfortune that I had in my hands a
granite stone, or sort of muller, for grinding massalah (curry stuff)
which I had bought, and being so angered with my friend, and so overcome
with grief at finding my wife to be false, it made me tremble so much
that I let the stone fall from my hands, and quite unintentionally it
dropped on 'Allagappen's' head, and the stone being heavy it broke his
skull and killed him on the spot. My wife woke up, and seeing me, she
screamed and ran away from the house. She went to the neighbours' house
in whose charge I had left her. I followed her, and told them what I had
done: that morning I was taken by the police and locked up, and after
that I saw my house no more. I was tried by an English judge, and was
sentenced to be sent away from my country for as long as I lived: such
was my misfortune."

               *       *       *

Here the tears came into the old criminal's eyes, and it was very
evident that there was still a soft place in his heart, showing a sign
of reclamation in spite of his convict life. This convict was pardoned
after serving twenty-five years.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 3

As late as the year 1863 piracy had not been wholly suppressed in the
Straits of Malacca, and cases were by no means rare of native trading
craft being attacked by them. During this year a number of piratical
boats infested the mouths of the rivers Prye, Juroo, and Junjong on the
Malay Peninsula, and the South Channel between Penang Island and the
mainland of Province Wellesley; and many a tongkong belonging to Chinese
traders between Penang and Laroot was attacked by them and plundered,
and sometimes the crews were murdered.

Some of these pirates were in the habit of going about in Penang and
quietly ascertaining what tongkongs were about to sail, and all
particulars in regard to their cargo, crew, and so forth. Two of them
having discovered that a tongkong owned and manned by Chinese was about
to leave Penang for Laroot with some valuable cargo and $2,000 of specie
on board, disguised themselves as "hadjis," or Mohammedan pilgrims, and
engaged a passage in her. They arranged with some of their confederates
to have a prahu, or fast sailing boat, at a certain place off the Juroo
River, and when the tongkong in which they were passengers reached this
spot a signal was to be given, and the prahu was to run alongside the
tongkong; and after plundering her and gagging the crew, the pirates
intended sinking the tongkong and making off in the prahu. They carried
their villainous scheme into execution, but meeting with stouter
resistance from the crew of the tongkong than they had anticipated, they
killed, as they thought, every man on board, and were preparing to
scuttle the tong-kong, when a boat containing Indian convicts, and
employed in carrying coral for the Government lime kilns, and which,
unperceived by the pirates, had been rapidly approaching, came alongside
the tongkong, having been attracted by the yells and cries of the
victims. The pirates, recognizing that they were convicts, immediately
got into their prahu, and made sail as fast as they could; and she,
being a very fast sailer, was soon out of sight. The convict tindal in
charge of the boat, with one or two convict boatmen, went on board the
tongkong and found all the crew and passengers dead; but fancying they
heard groans they searched round the tongkong, and at last found one of
the Chinese boatmen clinging to the rudder. They lifted him on board,
and found that he was severely cut about, and covered with wounds. The
convict tindal in charge of the Government boat then shaped his course,
with the tongkong in tow, for Butterworth, in Province Wellesley, which
they reached early in the morning. The wounded Chinaman was taken to the
hospital, a report was made to the police of the pirates' attack, and
the tongkong was handed over to their charge. From the description of
the prahu given by the convict tindal, and the information gathered from
the Chinaman when he was able to talk, the police were enabled to trace
the prahu to Sunghie Rambay, where the pirates were arrested. The case
was tried at the Supreme Court, Penang; some of the pirates were hanged,
and the rest sentenced to penal servitude. The tindal of the Government
boat and the convict boatmen were highly commended by the judge for
their conduct, and were otherwise rewarded by the authorities.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 4

We have referred elsewhere to the numerous races of India which went to
form the convict body in the old Singapore jail. We found this admixture
of castes and tribes a very valuable corrective against a possible
chance of insurrection, and for the discovery of plots of escape; and,
indeed, sometimes as a means of finding out any serious mischief that
might be brewing in the jail.

It seems to delight many a native of India to be a spy upon another; and
though intrigues were never encouraged, nor as a rule listened to, yet
now and again an informer would appear when the matter was of sufficient
importance to be reported to the authorities.

As an instance of this it may be recorded that on one occasion there was
a dispute between two Sikhs, one of the "Ramdasee" and the other of the
"Mazahbee" sect; and as they went from high words to blows they were
placed in confinement and brought before the Superintendent[15] in the
Inquiry room. After full investigation into the matter, the "Mazahbee"
Sikh was proved to have been the instigator of the quarrel, and he was
punished. The whole of his sect appear to have resented this judgment,
and determined amongst themselves to be avenged, and to inflict some
pain or injury upon the Superintendent. They began to plot and to scheme
as to the best way to carry out their design; and this plotting was not
lost on the observation of a clever Parsee convict, who, having traded
in Northern India, knew their language. He watched them closely, and had
decided when their plans were matured to inform the authorities.

    [Footnote 15: Major McNair.]

The scheme was only ripe for execution, however, on the very morning of
the muster, so that there was no time for the Parsee convict to acquaint
the chief warder; and as a last resource, therefore, he made up his mind
to inform the Superintendent at the muster as to what was in store for
him. Creeping stealthily along the rear of the standing men, he timed
the arrival of the Superintendent going down the front on his
inspection; and, stooping down, he thrust his head between the legs of
the front rank men, and level with the ground, calling out only loud
enough for the Superintendent to hear, "Khabardar sahib Sikh kepas
tamancha hai"--"Look out, sir; a Sikh has a pistol." The Superintendent
took no notice of the warning until he had passed to about the middle of
that line, then he ordered the chief warder to take a dozen of the Sikhs
who were standing at the end of the line, and move them off into their
ward that he might inspect their boxes, and he added, "Search them

As the Superintendent passed the end of the line, and was about to
inspect another line at right angles to it, no shot had been fired; so
he concluded that it was either a false alarm, or that the miscreant was
amongst the dozen men in the ward. And so it proved; for shortly
afterwards, the chief warder came to report that he had found a loaded
pistol on the person of one of the Sikh convicts, and had placed him in
a cell to await investigation.

After the muster an inquiry accordingly took place, and it turned out
that a fellow-tribesman had managed to pass the main gate with a pistol
secreted about his person, and had handed it to the man to whom the lot
had fallen to do the deed.

The would-be assassin was sentenced to heavy irons, and placed in the
refractory ward. The gang was eventually broken up, the ringleaders
being transferred to Penang, and the remainder kept in Singapore under
close observation. The Parsee convict, who checkmated the conspirators,
was advanced from the third to the second class, and otherwise rewarded.

The design on the life of the late Colonel Macpherson, the immediate
predecessor of the above, was also similarly frustrated by another
Parsee, who, on the evening before muster, observed a man burying a
knife in the sandy ground near which he had to stand for inspection.
Waiting his opportunity, he proceeded to the spot and withdrew the blade
from the knife, and replaced the handle just above the ground as he had
found it. When Colonel Macpherson passed the man on the morrow he
quickly seized the handle from the ground to make his stab, but only to
find that he was unexpectedly baulked in his villainous attempt to kill
his Superintendent.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 5


His surname need not be mentioned, but he went by the name of "Funny
Joe." He was the son of a clergyman of the Church of England, sharp
witted, and well educated; but his moral character, from some cause or
another, became quite disorganised, and to the grief of his parents he
left his home and took to the sea. His education there stood him in good
stead, and under new surroundings he improved for the time, and
eventually rose to be chief mate of a ship. Had he persevered in this
good course, he would in all probability have succeeded well in the
mercantile service; but events proved otherwise, and on his second
voyage as mate he was, he said, wrongfully charged as being both
insolent and insubordinate to his commander, and on the arrival of the
vessel at the Cape of Good Hope he was discharged. Left with but small
means, and, to him, almost on foreign soil, he bethought himself of some
expedient for making money; so, getting hold of a sailor loafing at the
port, he talked matters over with him, and they decided upon clubbing
their resources, hiring a hall, and circulating posters that on a
certain night at "so much," and "so much" for entrance, a man might be
seen "walking on the ceiling like a fly." On the night advertised the
hall was crowded. "Funny Joe" then went to his companion, who was
collecting the money, and took from him the amount he had received, and
told him he might have all the rest that he could collect. He (Funny
Joe) then decamped, and was never heard of more in Cape Town. He was
next at Rangoon, where he got into the same plight for want of funds;
but his mother wit came to his aid again, and this time he posed before
the public as a naturalist who had discovered off the coast what he
pronounced could be nothing else than a "mermaid," and for the
exhibition of this marine creature, which he had cleverly constructed
from the head and breast of an ape and half the body of a fish, he
obtained a good round sum. We hear of him next at Singapore, where he
also advertised his "mermaid" as being on exhibition at a certain
boarding establishment. There, however, the "mermaid" did not succeed,
and his funds being exhausted he possessed himself of a watch and some
cash, the property of the people of the house with whom he lodged, and
for which he was sent to jail. Here he came under some strict discipline
and good wholesome advice, and it was in the Singapore jail that he told
the story of his life as given above.

When the term of his sentence had expired, and he was about to be
discharged, he warmly thanked the Superintendent for his counsel, and
declared very positively that he intended to turn over a new leaf.

We believe that he did so; at all events, the last heard of him was that
he had signed articles as mate of a ship; and he scrupulously returned
to the Superintendent (Major McNair) the money he had advanced to him
from his private purse to make a new start in life.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 6


It is well known that the Cobra di Capello is one of the most deadly of
the snakes of India and the East. The palish yellow cobra of India is
perhaps more dangerous and surely fatal in its bite than the black
"cobra" or "kala samp," which is more frequently found in the Straits
Settlements, but neither of them is very pleasant to be in close
proximity to.

_The Cobra._--As we have noticed elsewhere, some of the convicts were
very expert in catching these reptiles and extracting their fangs. The
following personal incident is given by a public works officer:--

    "When the new cantonments were in progress at Tanglin I was
    placed in charge of the works by Col. G. C. Collyer, R.E., the
    then Chief Engineer of the Straits Settlements, and was
    permitted to occupy a part of a large house on the estate. The
    bath rooms were on the ground floor, and stairs from the
    bedrooms above led down to them. One morning, just as I was
    sitting down to breakfast, my convict orderly came running to
    me and said that a large 'cobra' had crawled up the drain
    leading from the main drain at the back of the house to the
    bath room. We went immediately to the bath room, and, finding
    that the snake had not made his appearance inside, I stopped up
    the opening into the drain with a towel, and the convict
    orderly, who had gone round to the outer end of the drain,
    began pushing a long bamboo up it. This drove the snake to the
    upper end. The convict, then, with a pickaxe, loosened a brick
    from the covering of the drain close to the wall of the house,
    while I stirred up the bamboo rod. The convict then gently and
    by degrees removed the brick, and in an instant the snake
    emerged fully from the drain, raising its hood and hissing at
    us. It then retreated back to the drain, when the convict
    dexterously seized it by the tail, and, drawing it out, held it
    tight by the neck. The convict then teased the snake with his
    coarse flannel 'kumblie,' or blanket, and it struck at it
    several times with its fangs; when, with a sudden jerk, the
    convict drew out the fangs in the blanket, and the snake became
    perfectly harmless.

    "The snake was afterwards sent on board H.M. surveying
    schooner _Saracen_, and getting loose on board was summarily
    destroyed, for none on board had been told that its fangs had
    been removed."

_The Crocodile._--Govindhoo, a convict employed at the Pulo Obin stone
quarries, was admitted into hospital with a lacerated leg, the foot
being almost severed from the body. He was visited by one of us, and
told his story as follows:--

    "I was walking along the sea beach close to the water, when I
    was suddenly seized from behind, and I at once saw that I was
    in the jaws of a crocodile. I had nothing in my hand but my
    'roomal,' or handkerchief, with my keys tied in one corner. I
    hit at his head with this, but it was of no use, and finding
    myself being dragged into deeper water, I suddenly thought I
    could dig out both his eyes,[16] and I did it, and very shortly
    afterwards he let me go, and I half swam, half paddled back to
    the shore."

The convict's leg had to be amputated.

    [Footnote 16: Literally gouged the animal.]

    The Malays say that there are three descriptions of crocodiles,
    or, as they call them, "buaya." The first is the "katak" or
    frog crocodile, the second the "labu" or gourd crocodile, and
    the third is the "tumbaga" or copper crocodile. The frog
    crocodile is the most active, and we have often been told by
    Malay boatmen, when going up a river, to keep our hands and
    shoulders well within the boat, for fear of their sudden
    attack. There are, however, known to our naturalists a dozen
    or more different forms of the crocodile proper, and it is said
    that they have been found up to thirty feet in length; but from
    eighteen feet to twenty feet is the longest found in the
    Straits of Malacca. They may often be seen in the Malay rivers,
    and on the coast, floating in the water, with the snout well
    above the surface, on the look out for prey.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 7

The Chinese have one superstition amongst many in regard to tigers. They
believe that when a person is killed by a tiger his "hantu," or ghost,
becomes the slave of the beast and attends upon it; that the spirit acts
the part of a jackal, as it were, and leads the tiger to his prey; and
so thoroughly subservient does the ghost become to his tigerish master,
that he not infrequently brings the tiger to the presence of his wife
and family, and calmly sees them devoured before his ghostly face.

A very ingenious tiger trap was invented by Mr. Frank Shaw, of Caledonia
sugar estate, in Province Wellesley, which is worth describing. It was
constructed at the foot of a small hill, about a mile away from the
estate, where there was a considerable area of secondary jungle and
gigantic bracken fern, a favourite resort of tigers. A trench, about
four or five feet wide, was opened in the sloping ground for a distance
of ten or twelve feet; stout stakes were driven in the trench close to
the sides, projecting some three or four feet above the ground, for
about two-thirds the length of the trench; the remaining one-third at
the upper end was converted into a strong cage, or pen. This pen
communicated with the other part of the trench by an opening in which a
gate in two flaps was fitted; a heavy cover, weighing ten or twelve cwt,
of round logs was made to fit the open part of the trench, and so
arranged in an inclined position, and connected by triggers with the two
flaps, that any attempt to open the latter released the upper end of the
heavy cover and allowed it to fall down in the trench. A couple of goats
were tied at the far end of the pen as a bait, and were kept there
constantly, food being taken to them by a convict coolie. After the trap
had been set for some time, the coolie who fed the goats came running to
the house one day with the news that a tiger was caught in the trap. Of
course every one set out immediately to secure the animal. The tiger had
evidently tried to push in between the two flaps to get at the goats:
this released the triggers, and the jerk and movement of the cover had
evidently alarmed the animal, who tried to back out; but the weight and
force of the falling cover on its back had pressed the beast down flat
on the ground and rendered him powerless. The difficulty now was to
dispatch the tiger. Only its hind quarters could be seen; and a revolver
shot was fired into the body. After a while the cover was raised a
little, and a bullet in the brain finished the work. The cover was then
entirely removed, and the carcase taken out of the trap; the fore and
hind feet were tied together, and it was slung on a pole in the usual
way, eight Kling convict coolies lifted the load and started for the
sugar mills. They, however, soon got tired. Half a dozen more convicts,
who were at work on the road, were then called in to assist, and at last
they reached their journey's end.

On arrival at the sugar mills it was skinned, the skin becoming the
property of the manager, and the natives disposed of the flesh. The
animal proved to be a tigress, and evidently had young cubs, as she had
a quantity of milk. This the Chinese coolies were very eager to secure,
as it is by them considered to be a valuable medicine. We never heard
whether any more tigers were caught in this trap.

The ordinary method, however, adopted for catching tigers is by means of
pits, which are dug from twelve to fifteen feet in depth, and somewhat
pyramidal in form. Sometimes pointed stakes are fixed in the bottom of
the pit. The mouth is covered over with light brushwood, and when
convenient, a tree is felled and laid a few feet from it across the
tiger's track, so that the animal in leaping off the tree adds impetus
to his own weight in falling into the trap.

The trouble of digging these pits is not so slight as might be
supposed, as the construction of a pit in the proper manner fully
occupies a couple of convicts a fortnight, besides the risk of being
interrupted in their labour by the tiger happening to encounter them,
and, naturally enough, on finding the work they were engaged upon,
testifying his displeasure at the treachery they were meditating against
him by making a meal of them.

An Indian sportsman wrote to the _Singapore Free Press_, at the time
when so many Chinese were being destroyed at Singapore, saying:--

    "I have been accustomed to tiger hunting in India, but the same
    mode could not be adopted here, the jungle being of a different
    character. Indeed, the only plan which is likely to be attended
    with success is by setting traps; and it is to be regretted
    that the local Government did not long since take some pains to
    prove this to the cultivators. Had this been done, many lives
    might have been spared." The Chinese were evidently delighted
    at the interest shown by the European gentlemen on the last
    occasion, and it is to be hoped that they will exert themselves
    to rid the island of tigers by this means.

While the ravages of tigers were destructive of human life on land,
crocodiles were almost equally as mischievous on the coast and in the
rivers, and many Chinese and other natives fell a prey to their
voracity. Sometimes bathers were attacked; at other times fishermen,
shrimp catchers, and oyster divers were carried off or attacked by them.
Some crocodiles, like some tigers, have a peculiar partiality to human
flesh, and often display remarkable ingenuity in gratifying their
appetites. Regular man-eater crocodiles existed in some of the rivers in
the Straits Settlements, notably in the rivers in Province Wellesley;
but many were found also in the rivers in Singapore and Malacca, as well
as on the sea coast. Some of these man-eaters were very bold, and would
attack natives in their canoes, sometimes getting under the canoe and
upsetting it in order to devour the occupants. Cases have been known of
persons being snatched out of boats. A case of this kind happened in the
Prye River, in Province Wellesley. The supervisor in charge of the
public works was proceeding in a ferry boat with some convicts to repair
the boundary pillar, situated some distance up the river, when suddenly
a splash was heard, and his convict orderly, who was squatting in the
bow of the sampan, or boat, uttering a cry, stood up, at the same time
pointing to the stern of the boat. Upon looking round, a Chinaman, who
had been seated in the stern of the boat, was found to be missing. A
crocodile had, as it were, shot up out of the water, and, seizing the
Chinaman by the waist, had drawn him down into the river, and nothing
more was seen of them at the time. Shortly afterwards, a canoe with a
Malay man and his wife in it was upset near the same spot by a
crocodile, and both of them disappeared. A little later a Kling, who had
been in the habit of diving for mud oysters near Qualla Prye Ferry for
many years, and had repeatedly been cautioned about his danger in doing
so, was missed, and it was ascertained that he had been seen diving for
oysters as usual, and had suddenly disappeared, and had not been seen to
come up again.

This sort of thing went on for some time, and the crocodiles could not
be caught. At last the convicts stationed at Prye town convict lines
succeeded in capturing a large crocodile, and this is how they managed
it. They prepared a bait by tying a strong hook underneath the body of a
pariah dog. One end of a piece of light iron chain[17] was fastened to
this hook; the other end was fastened to a log of very light wood as a
buoy. They then went in a boat to that part of the river where the
greater number of casualties had occurred. Here they drifted about, at
the same time pinching the dog's ears and otherwise tormenting him to
make him yelp. After watching the surface of the water for some time,
they descried the V mark on the water indicating the approach of a
crocodile; then, throwing the dog and buoy overboard, they pulled away
for some distance to watch the result.. They saw the crocodile rapidly
approaching the dog, who was swimming for his life. Suddenly there was a
howl, and the dog disappeared. Then they watched the buoy, which would
sometimes disappear under the water and then rise again to the surface;
and in this manner they traced the crocodile, and followed him into a
small creek, where he crawled on shore; and there they dispatched him
with musket balls. This crocodile measured fourteen feet from the tip of
his nose to the end of his tail, and was said to be the largest specimen
captured at that time, but they have been known to reach from eighteen
to twenty feet in length. Upon opening him a human leg and a pair of
Chinaman's trousers were discovered, and it was concluded that this was
one of the man-eaters.

    [Footnote 17: Shreds of tough rope are better.]

As an illustration of the effect of shock upon the human system at the
sight of wild beasts, we may mention a case of a Malay fisherman who was
shrimping on the bar at the mouth of the Krian River (Province
Wellesley), when a crocodile approached him from behind and seized him
by the thigh. The Malay drew his parang and hacked away at the
creature's nose until he let go. Some convicts stationed at Nebong Tubal
and a Malay police peon saw what was happening and put off in a boat to
his assistance. They rescued the poor fellow, and the police conveyed
him at once by boat to the hospital at Butterworth, where his wounds,
which were not very serious, were attended to; but the shock to the
nervous system was so great that the man lost his reason, and would
constantly leave his cot and walk down the hospital ward, moving his
hands up and down, as if in the act of shrimping. He died shortly
after. A similar case of shock, and a well-known story in the Straits
Settlements, occurred in Province Wellesley, but this was from a tiger.
A Roman Catholic priest was returning to his house after breakfasting
with a planter at Alma, and when passing through some tall "lalang"
grass a tiger suddenly sprang out into the path a few yards in front of
him. The priest, with great presence of mind, suddenly opened his
Chinese umbrella in the face of the tiger; the animal gave a leap round
to one side, and the priest repeated the umbrella movement. The tiger
then gave another leap round to the other side, and the umbrella action
was again performed. This was renewed till the tiger, who evidently was
not hungry, and had taken alarm, made a disappointed growl and bounded
away into the high lalang grass, and the priest hastened on his way
home. On reaching his house he took a cold bath, to brace up his nerves
as he said; but the next day he was confined to his bed, and died a
fortnight after the event, due entirely, it was said, to the shock that
he had sustained.

       *       *       *       *       *

No. 8

As we have already intimated, the house of correction at Singapore was
under the management and control of the Convict Department; and there
were frequently from thirty to forty Europeans confined in this prison,
chiefly seamen on short sentences for neglect of duty on board ship.

When Sir Robert McClure was commanding a vessel of war[18] in Chinese
waters about 1859, his ship was on the Singapore station for some little
time; and upon his arrival he sent in to the house of correction a very
incorrigible man-of-war's man named John ---- (we will not give his
surname, for he may be yet alive). This man had been several times
punished while the ship was in China, and had been twice sentenced to be
flogged. We heard all about him from the officer of the ship who had
brought him ashore.

    [Footnote 18: H.M.S. Esk.]

His sentence was three weeks' imprisonment: the first week in solitary
confinement on bread and water, and congee or rice gruel diet. Upon his
receipt into the prison, after the usual routine, he was placed in one
of the penal cells, and bread and water set before him. Before the cell
door was closed, he looked hard at the chief warder, saying, "Take away
that filth; I won't eat it." The chief warder reported to the
Superintendent that the man in the cells was a dangerous-looking
character, and he was afraid we should have trouble with him, for he had
never seen a man with such a hang-dog look. The morning of the second
day he had touched neither bread nor water, though fresh had been given
him, and in a churlish manner he said to the chief warder, who had
remonstrated with him, "I'll eat the tail of my shirt first, before I
eat what you bring me." The doctor visited him, and made his report to
the Superintendent that he was a strong man, and in excellent health,
and that he might be safely left until hunger obliged him to eat, but
that he would see him twice a day.

Upon the afternoon of the second day the Superintendent himself, upon
his inspecting the prisoners in the penal cells, entered this prisoner's
cell, and the following dialogue ensued: "What is your name?" "What is
that to you?" "But I am the Superintendent of this jail, and I ask you a
simple question, and I want a simple answer." Then looking at the
Superintendent with a disrespectful air the prisoner said, "Look at my
warrant if you want to know it." "But I want to hear it from yourself."
"Well, if it is any satisfaction to you, my name is John ----" The
Superintendent then said, "Now I want to know what part of England you
come from." "Well, what do you want to know that for? but I say again,
if it is any satisfaction to you, I come from Saltash." "So you are a
Cornishman, are you?" replied the Superintendent. "I know Saltash very
well. It is a fine old place. And I know the Viaduct, and the cottages
over against it. I wonder if you were born there in one of those
cottages? Perhaps you were, and have a mother now living there; and if
you have, and she knew that her son was now in an Indian jail, you
would break that old woman's heart, that you would." This ended the
conversation, and the cell door was shut.

Late in the evening the chief warder sent a special messenger to the
Superintendent's quarters, asking him to visit the prison before
nightfall, for the prisoner in the cells from the man-of-war in the
harbour had something to communicate. So before it was yet very dark the
Superintendent went down, and the cell door being opened, and the
bull's-eye lantern turned upon the man, the Superintendent at once
noticed a change in the countenance of his prisoner, for the reckless,
devil-may-care expression had shifted, and as if by some good influence
within. "Well, you sent for me, and I have come; what do you want?" said
the Superintendent. Then in a faltering voice, and with tears in his
eyes, the prisoner said, "I only want to say, sir, before I go to sleep,
that you are the first man that has ever overcome me, for you spoke to
me of my 'mother'; and now, sir, you can do anything you like with me,
and I'll carry out my sentence properly, and go back aboard my ship and
do my duty as a British sailor ought to do."

And he did; and after his release went in the ship on to Bombay, from
whence the Superintendent heard from Sir Robert McClure that John ----
was as well behaved a man as he had on board, and that the treatment
he had received in the Singapore jail had quite altered his nature, and
he would like to know the prescription for it.

Very often, when a long course of positive punishment has ceased to have
its effect, a contrary treatment may lead to quite a change in the
character, and if anything will touch the heart of a vicious Briton, it
is to bring him to think upon the early counsels of a godly mother.

Chapter XI


On the separation of the Straits Settlements from British India in 1867,
it was arranged that the Indian life convicts at Singapore should be
transferred to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. In the course of
correspondence which took place on the subject, His Excellency the
Governor of the Straits Settlements proposed, in respect of those
convicts who were to continue in the Straits, that a liberal use of the
power of pardon should be made in the case of such convicts, the nature
of whose crimes and whose subsequent character warranted it.

The Government of India agreed to this proposal, with the proviso that
pardon should be conditional on convicts not returning to India, or in
the case of Burmese to Burmah, without the special sanction in each case
of the Government of India; and that this sanction would not be given in
any cases in which the crime was "Thuggee" or "Dacoity," or robbery by
administering poisonous drugs, or other form of organized crime, or in
the case of mutiny or rebellion accompanied with murder.

Accordingly, the Straits Government authorities submitted lists of
convicts whom they recommended for pardon. After consulting the local
governments concerned, the Government of India issued orders in each
case, authorizing the release and return to India of some of the
convicts, granting conditional pardon to others, and refusing release on
any account to the remainder.

This decision did not commend itself to the Straits Government, and His
Excellency the Governor suggested the deputation of a special officer
from India to inquire into the matter.

Mr. Brodhurst, of the Bengal Civil Service, was accordingly deputed.
This officer extended his inquiries to the cases of other convicts
brought specially to his notice by the Straits Government; and on
receipt of his report, the Government of India granted unconditional
releases in certain cases, while in others the convicts were pardoned
conditionally on their not leaving the Straits.

On this representation by the Straits Government, His Excellency the
Governor-General in Council, having reconsidered the subject, decided
that any Indian or Burmese, who had completed twenty-five years'
imprisonment and bore a good character, should be released, with
permission to return to India or Burmah, provided he, or she, as the
case might be, was not convicted of one of the offences enumerated
below, viz.:--

  1. Thuggee.

  2. Dacoity.

  3. Professional poisoning.

  4. Belonging to a gang of Dacoits.

  5. Belonging to a gang of Thugs.

  6. Mutiny or rebellion with murder.

Of those who did not come under this category, some were pardoned
unconditionally; others were released after they had completed
twenty-five years' imprisonment, on condition that their conduct
continued satisfactory. Of those who were pardoned unconditionally many
returned to their own country; but when they arrived there they found
things so uncongenial that they returned to the Straits and settled down
as shopkeepers, cowkeepers, cartmen, etc., and most of them sought and
obtained employment either with private individuals or in the Public
Works Department. Several of the skilled artificers, who had been petty
officers, were employed as sub-assistant overseers and gangers on public
works, where their services proved to be of great utility, their prison
training having rendered them much more to be relied upon than free men,
and, as far as we have been able to ascertain, none of them have been

Of the total number of convicts in the Straits at the time when the
convict establishment was broken up in 1873--

    256 had been transported for Thuggee.

    581  "    "       "       "  Dacoity.

     21  "    "       "       "  Professional poisoning.

    269  "    "       "       "  Robbery with murder, including
                                 highway robbery and gang robbery.

The remainder were nearly all for murder, for being accomplices in
murder, or for robbery with violence, and for felony.

Chapter XII


Perhaps a few observations on the principal diseases to which these
Indian convicts were liable may be found useful; and we take for the
purpose the statistics of the year 1863-64 as given in Appendix No. 2,
when nostalgia did not occur. In alluding to these diseases, we shall at
the same time notice the locality of the Singapore jail, and the
composition of the soil on which it was built. It is now universally
recognised that the soil on which communities reside continuously does
in a measure influence their health.

So many works on hygiene have, however, been written, and so much has
been said by medical experts on this subject, that we may almost say
that it has been exhaustively treated. What we wish to show is simply
that soil and locality do not influence all communities alike.

The site of the Singapore jail in Brass Basa Road was originally a piece
of low ground saturated with brackish water; and the convicts themselves
were, as we have elsewhere stated, employed in conveying red earth from
the side of Government Hill to reclaim most of this marsh, in order to
erect thereon the necessary buildings for their occupation. The site had
to be raised from two to four feet, and the red earth was what might be
called disintegrated laterite or clay ironstone. When the finished level
was completed, it was about two feet above high water mark S.T. The
surface of the enclosure had been so thoroughly trodden down, rolled,
and graded to the drains and into the adjoining canal, that, with the
periodical coatings of pure white sand from the Serangoon sand pits that
had been laid over it, it had become almost impervious to water; and
this we would notice particularly, for it had much to do with the
sanitary condition of the jail and its inmates.

The dormitories were further raised slightly over two feet above the
general surface, and their floors were carefully laid, so as literally
to be as dry as a bone.

From Appendix No. 2 it will be seen that the principal disease from
which these Indian convicts suffered was "fever," but not of a dangerous
type; for, upon comparing the admissions to hospital with the deaths
from this disease in all three settlements during the year referred to,
we find that in Singapore and Penang they were _nil_, and but seven in
Malacca. The next ailment which presented numerous cases were abscesses
and ulcers, and the deaths from this cause amounted only to one in
Singapore. Many of these ulcers were on the legs, and were caused by
grit getting between the skin and the leather band worn under the fetter
rings of convicts in the fourth and fifth classes. Stomach and bowel
complaints rank next on the list, but we find that the deaths here only
amounted to units. Rheumatic affections were numerous, caused perhaps in
that damp climate from working on extra-mural duties and returning to
jail in wet clothes with the wind blowing on them. A few cases of dropsy
appear on the list, the largest number occurring in Penang, three only
at Singapore. There were ordinary cases of oedema.

The death-rate to strength per cent, from ordinary diseases for the year
given was 2.20 for Singapore, 3.82 for Penang, and 3.17 for Malacca.
Perhaps the special attention to sanitation in Singapore may account for
the death-rate being lower here than at the sister settlements.

After the convict jail had been broken up, and the convicts had all left
it, the jail was handed over to the prison authorities to be converted
into a criminal prison for the whole settlements. Not long after this
change had taken place a very peculiar disease broke out amongst the
inmates. It was known as Beri-beri, or, as some call it, the "Bad
sickness of Ceylon." It is a very serious disease, and some think it
arises from extreme exertion without sufficient sustenance to the body.
In 1878 the ratio of mortality in the prison had risen to 16.20 per
cent.; in 1879 it was further augmented to 20.63 per cent. The Local
Government deemed it necessary without delay to appoint a Committee of
Inquiry into the possible causes which had given rise to the spread of
this disease. The conclusion at which they arrived was that it was due
to the want of proper drainage of the site, so that the soil had got
water-logged, and had generated malaria; also, that the prisoners needed
a more nitrogenous diet. They advised the erection of an entirely new
prison on a better and more elevated locality. These suggestions were
all adopted, and the Committee in their judgment were greatly aided by
Dr. Irvine Rowell, C.M.G., the Principal Civil Medical Officer, who
formed one of the Committee.

There was no time lost by the Government with the Colonial Engineer
(Major McNair) in preparing plans and erecting on the west side of
Pearl's Hill, near the old civil jail, a prison on the cellular system,
and after the most approved English model; but the change of site did
not effectually remove the disease, for as late as the year 1884 "there
were 262 cases under treatment. In the first nine months of that year
the deaths were comparatively small, but during the latter three months
they increased, constituting nearly one half of the total deaths during
that period." Dr. Kerr attributed this increase to exacerbation in the
type, and epidemicity of the disease.

It is not necessary, nor is it within our province, to attempt a
description in detail of this disease; and happily it is mostly confined
to Ceylon and the Malay Archipelago, though it occurs occasionally in
China and Japan, where in the former country it is known as "Tseng," and
in the latter as "Kak-ki." It is referred to in a book we have quoted in
the body of this work, viz., that written by "Godinho de Eredia" in
1613, reproduced by M. Leon Janssen in 1882. It is called there
bere-bere, which in the Malay language signifies a "sheep," or a "bird
which buries its eggs in the sand," and is not now known by the Malays
under that name, as far as we can gather, as a "disease." Godinho de
Eredia says that the Malays cured it by the use of a wine made from the
nipa palm, from whence we know a saccharine fermentable juice exudes
from the cut spadices of this and other species. They call this juice
"tuaca." Marco Polo alludes to the same wine in his second book, chapter

Some authorities say it arises from malarious exhalations, favoured by
damp, or over-crowding in buildings improperly ventilated. To this
latter cause we are inclined to attribute the outbreak in the Singapore
prison; for when the prison was occupied by the Indian convicts, the
area of open space round the different wards and buildings was well
exposed to the action of sun and wind, but after its conversion into a
criminal prison, this open space was divided off by high division walls,
and for the purpose of shot drill and work sheds the enclosure was
still further crowded. Perhaps the disturbance also of the soil may have
had something to do with it, for we have known instances in the town
where the excavation of subsoils had liberated noxious gases.

It was, however, very remarkable that during the period of over
twenty-five years when this jail was occupied by the Indian convicts,
not a single case of beri-beri was known to have occurred. The medical
officers were quite unable to account for this, and of its
non-occurrence in other parts of the town.

The Rev. Wallace Taylor, M.D., of Osaka in Japan, attributed the disease
to a microscopic spore found largely developed in rice, and which he had
also detected in the earth of certain alluvial and damp localities.


The question of feigned diseases should find a place in a work treating
upon convicts, for amongst a number of natives in confinement--and
indeed also amongst European prisoners where--regular work is insisted
upon, and idleness in any is severely punished, it is but natural that
some should be found to resort to expedients to escape work, or, in
other words, to malinger.

Perhaps the most frequent cases of convicts in irons was the
encouraging of sores round the ankles, where the iron rings of their
fetters were placed; and this was done, notwithstanding the precaution
always taken to guard the ankles with leathern bands for the rings to
rest upon. When suspicion was attached to a convict in irons that he was
tampering with his leg sores, he was at once detailed to work with the
gang beating out coir from cocoanut husks: it involved no use of the
legs, but it was the hardest of labours. The result was that the convict
soon gave up the trick, and begged to return to outdoor work with his
own gang. Of course there were cases where convicts working on roads or
at sand pits may get grit below their leathers, which, without knowing
it at the time, would cause a sore; but such cases were readily
distinguished from those sores wilfully caused and designedly kept open.

We had no cases of feigned insanity or any species of mania, but cases
of imitated "moon blindness," or dim-sightedness, did occur now and
again for the purpose of shirking night watch.

Upon one occasion we had a remarkable instance of shamming blind, which
is worth giving in detail. The case was that of a life convict
transported from Madras, who complained that lime had suddenly got into
both of his eyes while employed at the lime kilns. It was deemed by the
medical authorities as not unnatural that he should become blind from
caustic quick-lime, and he was admitted into the convalescent gang,
where he had only the simple and easy task of picking oakum. The deceit
was as cleverly kept up for years as it was cleverly commenced at the
outset, and was only detected by Dr. Cowpar, a hard-headed Scotchman and
skilful surgeon, who, during the absence of the permanent incumbent, had
been appointed by the Government to officiate as medical officer of the
jail. After his inspection of the invalids in the convalescent gang, he
looked at the eyes of the "blind man"; and, having some suspicion in his
mind, he decided that he should be put aside for closer examination.
When the inspection was over, the "blind man" was taken, and carefully
led by the peon in charge of the gang to one of the long wards, when he
was told to walk up and down in the presence of the doctor. After he had
made two or three trips, the doctor directed two men to hold a long pole
about a foot off the ground on the track he had to pass. When he came to
the pole he fell over it flat on his face, and to the bystanders it
seemed rather an inhuman proceeding on the part of the doctor, but he
had observed an ominous pause before the convict had struck the pole
with his legs.

He sent for his case of instruments, and, withdrawing a probe, he with
little difficulty removed the film off both of the man's eyes, which
proved to be nothing more nor less than the thin membrane found inside
an egg, which the convict had artfully introduced, and renewed from time
to time. Of course he was reduced to the fifth class, and to the
hardest labour.

We have often thought it strange that none of his fellow-convicts
appeared to suspect him, or if they did, they kept it back from the jail
authorities; and certainly to any casual observer the deception was
complete, and it was the best case of feigned blindness we have ever
known or heard of.

Upon the whole, however, cases of malingering were few and far between,
as most of the convicts became after a time interested in the works upon
which they were engaged, and those in irons were ever on the look-out
for promotion to a higher class. Sometimes there was a case of feigned
rheumatism or paralysis, but the application of the galvanic battery
invariably cured them of that after a few powerful shocks.

Chapter XIII


We have now given a full, and, as far as we could, a succinct account of
the system pursued in the old Singapore jail. We have traced the history
of the convict establishments in all the penal settlements in those
seas, and have shown the progressive improvements in the convict prisons
up to the time when, as was acknowledged by many competent authorities,
a system of organization and discipline had been satisfactorily attained
to, especially at the headquarter jail at Singapore. We have also shown
the number and variety of industries that were from time to time
introduced, and the utilization of trained artificers in the
construction of important public works in the Straits Settlements.

Perhaps we may say that the conduct of these prisons from the year 1825,
down to 1845, was in a measure experimental; but at any time we do not
assert that the system was free from defects. But on the whole, in the
treatment of these trans-marine convicts, it worked with remarkable
success, and was well adapted to their condition and circumstances; for
it must not be forgotten that we had to deal with convicts who in great
part had expiated their crimes by a sentence of banishment to a foreign
country, which we have already explained was more severely felt by a
native of India than could possibly be by any European. As a matter of
fact, owing to caste prejudices, transportation across the seas was to
many of the Indian convicts worse than death itself, for it carried with
it not only expulsion from caste, but, owing to their wrong conception
of fate, or "nusseeb" as they call it, a dread of pain and anguish in
another existence.

In the later management of this jail, to all fresh arrivals for life
there was a period of probation of three years, during which time they
were fettered and worked in gangs upon the public roads. This was
thoroughly punitive, and with no liberty whatever. They were, in point
of fact, full of fears and practically without hope. After a time, they
began to find that the only chance of any amelioration from this hard
labour was by a course of good conduct; and they saw before them their
own countrymen, who had once been similarly circumstanced, occupying
better positions and employed on less distasteful work. They also heard
from their fellows that several had attained to a ticket of leave, and
were earning for themselves an honest livelihood in the place of their
banishment. This, then, was their encouragement; but not a few at first,
however, though carefully treated in hospital, died from "nostalgia," or
"love of country," before they could complete their term of probation.

The late General, then Captain Man, who, as we have already said, did a
great deal in the consolidation of the convict system of Singapore, went
from the Straits Settlements to the Andamans, and inaugurated there the
same system; but we learn that since his time convicts upon first
arrival from India are placed for a certain period in separate cells,
and no doubt the authorities had good and weighty reasons for the
change. We have no report as to the advantage or otherwise of this
probationary alteration, but from what we have said, it will be seen
that we incline to the belief that for this class of native convicts
work in irons upon the public roads is a better "first trial" than to
place them under what is known to us as the "cellular system."

For local prisoners, who after their sentences have expired are returned
to the town, we do advocate the "cellular system," and have ourselves
designed and built for term convicts several wards upon this system. The
advantage gained is complete isolation from one another for a fixed
period, and the indiscriminate admixture of classes thus avoided, and so
possibly by this means a recrudescence of crime in the place prevented;
but with convicts under banishment, and mostly for a life term, we think
the conditions are very different, and we prefer the plan adopted in the
old Singapore convict jail.

The punishments in force by our laws are of course designed to deal out
retributive justice to the prisoner for his offence against society, and
so to prevent, if possible, a repetition of the offence by others, and
by this means to protect society against evil-doers. There is no wish to
punish with any vindictive feeling, but rather, if it can be done, to
bring about the reform of the prisoner, and to take away from him the
desire to offend again; and as "Beccaria," the Italian philanthropist,
well said, "those penalties are least likely to be productive of good
effect which are more severe than is necessary to deter others."

In the later days of our Singapore convict jail, of which time only are
we in a position to express an opinion, the treatment of the convicts
was one of discipline from beginning to end. There was first the
probationary period under fetters, in gangs upon the public roads, or
upon the severest hard labour; next the period of freedom from this
restraint and a time of test, and if they stood this test well, then
advancement to a position of trust, either on the lower rung of the
prison warder-staff, with a belt of authority across the shoulder, or,
if an aptitude for any trade was evinced, to the position of a novice in
the workyard, at whatever branch of industry the convict was thought to
be best suited. There was then open to the prison warder a rise in grade
to that of peon, with a distinctive badge, and eventually to the highest
grade of a tindal or duffadar, if duly qualified. In the case of the
industrial class there was also open a promotion to a higher grade, and
eventually to that of a foreman of artificers. All were fully occupied
and employed, and the jail was in point of fact a busy hive of industry,
the pervading idea of the convict authorities being to teach the convict
to love labour, and to take a personal interest in it.

We know that there are still some who think that no prisoner, while
undergoing his sentence, should be allowed to feel any pleasure in the
occupation in which he may be engaged; and hence they advocate the
crank, shot drill, and other aimless tasks, which serve but to irritate,
and do not the least good to the heart, from whence all our actions
spring. For a short term of probation, no doubt, the task should be
irksome; but when this is over and it should not be prolonged work
should be given which would tend to call out the best feelings, restore
self-respect, and act as a sort of cordial to remove lowering and
depression. To explain by a homely instance what we mean, we will
mention an incident that occurred to one of us when building the Woking
prison in 1866. A convict undergoing sentence there, of the labouring
class, was found to be of an exceptionally dogged and dull nature.
Nothing pleased him; he was disgusted with the world, and wished he was
out of it. After a time he was tried at plain brick-laying in a
foundation, and gradually began to handle a brick rather well. He
seemed to grow step by step more reconciled to his lot, and was advanced
to work upon a chimney-piece. A day or two later he was asked how he was
getting on. He then replied, with a bright smile upon his face, "Oh,
very well, sir, now! I likes my chimbley-piece, and dreams of her at
nights in my lonely cell."

Hence we see how the implacable temper of this convict gave way over a
congenial bit of work, and the first step was thus taken towards his
reformation of character, and he continued to improve until his release
from prison.

Herbert Spencer says with truth, "that experience and experiments have
shown all over the world that the most successful criminal discipline is
a discipline of decreased restraints and increased self dependence"; and
to a degree of this "self dependence" the convict we refer to had been
encouraged to aspire.

Of course, in all criminal prisons we must expect a certain percentage
of incorrigible characters, who under the best training cannot be
brought under control; but the bulk of those in the old Singapore jail,
and we had often as many as two thousand at a time, were well behaved,
and gave evidence of the good influence of a course of discipline upon
them; for when they were advanced to a ticket-of-leave, and thrown again
on their own resources, they very rarely a second time came under the
cognisance of the police, but peaceably merged into the population, and
earned their livelihood by honest means.

We have one word to say in reference to the employment of these convicts
as warders over their fellow-prisoners; a system, so far as we are
aware, then unattempted either in Europe or America, even in a modified
form. We do not, however, see why, in the case of well-behaved and
suitable European convicts sentenced to long periods of penal servitude,
some might not be placed in certain such positions of trust under free
warders; and as the new prison rules for our jails may possibly involve
a large increase in the warder staff, it has occurred to us that the
system might have a trial to a limited extent; but we are, of course,
not in a position to speak with any authority upon the subject as
affecting our own prisons. In our case, with the exception of two or
three European warders, the whole warder staff were convicts; and at
first, certainly, there was the fear that so large a number of convict
warders might side with the convicts, when a rule they might have
thought repugnant to all, was introduced by the governing body. There
also appeared the danger that discipline might be undermined by a system
of favouritism, especially amongst men of the same caste, or that they
would shut their eyes to breaches of the rules.

None of these apprehensions were, however, experienced; but, on the
contrary, these convict warders were always the first to apprise the
authorities of any contemplated attempt at escape, or of any ill-feeling
that might be brewing amongst any particular class, or breach of prison
rules; so that, in a great measure, they acted in the double capacity of
both detectives and police. It was only upon very rare occasions that a
convict warder had to be disrated; and the punishment amongst them
consisted for the most part in fines for want of vigilance and attention
to detail, and such like petty offences. They all manifested the highest
appreciation of the trust reposed in them, and lived in a perpetual fear
that they might forfeit their position, and have to begin anew the whole
course of jail punishment.

It need scarcely be said that great care was exercised to single out men
of the best character, and to the highest posts those who could take
upon themselves responsibility as men of purpose and discretion.
Promotion in the different grades was made only by the Superintendent,
who in our case was an officer who had served in India, knew natives of
most sects and races, and was acquainted with their habits and customs,
and spoke one or two of their languages.

The prison system in all its branches worked in perfect harmony, and all
the parts of it seemed to be adapted to each other. Discipline was
maintained throughout, and the artificer gang, as we have shown,
developed a high skill in their various trades; so that important public
works could be executed without difficulty or embarrassment. Those also
who had passed through its course, and were admitted back to society
upon a ticket of leave, as a rule behaved themselves as good citizens.

In the extraction of labour from the convicts, there was no desire on
the part of the Government to work the establishment with a view to show
any pecuniary profit in the returns; though, as it proved, the actual
cost to the State was often more than reimbursed by their labour,
estimated as it was at two-thirds of that prevailing in the place, and
the material at half the market price. However, in regard to this part
of the question we might here quote "Jeremy Bentham," who once wisely
said of prison labour, "It is not the less reforming for being

We would now take leave of our old Singapore jail, as indeed, owing to
the result of the earnest entreaty of the community to the Government,
it finally took leave of us in 1873, though in our judgment perhaps a
little too prematurely in the best interests of the colony.

We can only hope that in the record we have now given, we have furnished
some suggestions for general application to those who, like ourselves,
are concerned not merely with the punishment of the criminal, but also
with his reformation, both as a question of social science, and to the
prisoner's own ulterior benefit.

This reformation could, we think, be best brought about by a course of
severe probationary discipline at the outset, to be followed up by
continuous employment upon productive occupations and trades, so as to
encourage within the criminal a lively diligence and a persevering
industry; ourselves meanwhile also encouraged in the task by the words
of Shakespeare, that

    "There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
    Would men observingly distil it out."

                           _King Henry V._, Act. iv., Scene i.



Statement of the expenses of the convict jail in Singapore for the years
1862-63 and 1863-64, showing the average cost per prisoner:--

  Heads of Expenditure.       1,964 Prisoners in 1862-63.
                              1,995 Prisoners in 1863-64.

                                1862-63.          1863-64.
                                --------          --------
                                 Rs.               Rs.
  Rations                     67,803  9 10      62,901  0 10
  Money Allowance             20,938 13  8      19,369 14  3
                             --------------    --------------
  Total                       88,742  7  6      82,270 15  1
  Cost per Prisoner               45  2 11          41  3 10

  Fixed Establishment         16,094  1  0      11,173  1  5
  Cost per Prisoner                8  3  1           5  9  7
  Extra Establishment           _nil._       _nil._
  Cost per Prisoner                "                 "
                             --------------    --------------
  Total                       16,094  1  0      11,173  1  5
  Cost per Prisoner                8  3  1           5  9  7

  Hospital Charges
    European Medicines }
    Bazaar ditto       }         472 13  0         454 10  4
    Sick Diet          }
                             --------------    --------------
  Total                          472 13  0         454 10  4
  Cost per Prisoner                0  3 10           0  3  7½

  Clothing, including
    Blankets and Bedding       8,699 14  6       8,250 14  4
  Cost per Prisoner                4  6 11           4  2  2
  Contingencies                3,235  3  1       4,407  5  3
  Cost per Prisoner                1 10  4           2  3  4½
  Additions, Alterations,
    and Repairs                  100 12  2          51  8  8
  Cost per Prisoner                0  0 10           0  0  5
                             --------------    --------------
  Gross Cost of Maintenance    17,345 3  3     106,608  7  1
  Gross Cost per Prisoner         59 11 11          53  7  0

The above table gives a fair average of the annual cost of maintenance
of each prisoner as taken from the records of the jail.


Return of the Hospital Department of prisoners in jails in Singapore,
Penang and Province Wellesley, and Malacca, from 1st May, 1863, to 30th
April, 1864, exhibiting the average strength, number of admissions of
sick, number of deaths, etc., in each jail during the year, and the rate
per cent.:--

  Stations                   Singapore.   Penang and   Malacca.   Total.
  Average strength
  during the Year              2,400        1,150        661      4,211
  Admissions during
  the Year

    Fevers                       222          260        292        774
    Eruptive Fevers               25            2         26         53

    Diseases of the
      Lungs                       30           55         63        148
      Liver                        9           --          1         10
      Stomach and Bowels          81          216         93        390
      Brain                       12           19         41         72
      Generative and
        Urinary Organs            51           23         24         98
      Eyes                        50           27          9         86
      Skin                        50           20         37        107

    Cholera                        3           --         --          3
    Dropsies                      13           27          6         46
    Rheumatic Affections          58          107         31        196
    Abscesses and Ulcers         204          198         84        486
    Wounds and Injuries           58           93         42        193
    Other Diseases               181           47         32        260

    Total                      1,047        1,094        781      2,922
  Deaths during
  the Year

    Fevers                        --           --          7          7
    Eruptive Fevers                7            1          3         11

    Diseases of the
      Lungs                        4            2          2          8
      Liver                        1           --         --          1
      Stomach and Bowels           6            9          4         19
      Brain                       --            2         --          2
      Generative and
        Urinary Organs            --           --         --         --
      Eyes                        --           --         --         --
      Skin                         3           --         --          3

    Cholera                        2           --         --          2
    Dropsies                       3            8          1         12
    Rheumatic Affections           1           --          1          2
    Abscesses and Ulcers           1           --         --          1
    Wounds and Injuries            2            1         --          3
    Other Diseases                25           21          3         49

    Total                         55           44         21        120
  Discharged during the Year     943        1,012        742      2,697
  Transfer during the Year        --           --         --         --
  Liberated during the Year       --           --         --         --
  Remaining                       49           38         18        105
  Rate per cent.

    Sick to Strength           43.62         95.1     118.45      69.43

    Death by ordinary
      diseases to strength      2.20          3.82      3.17       2.802

    Death by Cholera
      to strength              00.8           --        --       004.74

    Total Deaths to Strength    2.29          3.82      3.17       2.84

The rate per cent. of the total deaths to strength at the three
settlements may appear high, but it is accounted for by the number of
old convicts dying off.


The following table gives the value of materials manufactured by convict
labour; the money expenditure in addition to the convict labour on each
item, and the difference in favour of the State for the years 1862-63
and 1863-64:--

            Value of Materials.
    1862-63.                    Rs.          Rs.

  To value of Bricks          25,149 10

  To value of Lime               600  9

  To value of Cement           3,844 12

  To value of Granite          2,058 10

  To value of Weaver's Work    1,432 11

  To value of Rattan Work        862  0
                              ---------   33,988  4
  Deduct Expenditure                      29,908 10
  Difference in favour of the State   Rs.  4,074 10
            Cost of Production.
    1862-63.                    Rs.          Rs.

    By Convict Labour         14,293  9
    Money Expenditure          5,882 10
                              ---------   20,176  3
    By Convict Labour            242 14
    Money Expenditure            535 14
                              ---------      778 12
    By Convict Labour            952 13
    Money Expenditure            138  9
                              ---------    1,091  6
    By Convict Labour          5,859  9
    Money Expenditure         _nil._
                              ---------    5,859  9
  Weaver's Work
    By Convict Labour            594  6
    Money Expenditure            546  6
                              ---------    1,140 12
  Rattan Work
    By Convict Labour            862  0
    Money Expenditure         _nil._
                              ---------      862  0
  Total                               Rs. 29,908 10

            Value of Materials.
    1863-64.                    Rs.          Rs.

  To value of Bricks          26,683 12

  To value of Lime and Cement  3,720  0

  To value of Granite          6,574  0

  To value of Weaver's Work    1,872  5

  To value of Rattan Work        915 13
                              ---------   36,765 14
  Deduct Expenditure                      25,344  8
  Difference in favour of the State   Rs. 11,421  6
            Cost of Production.
    1863-64.                    Rs.          Rs.

    By Convict Labour          8,122 14
    Money Expenditure          9,667  4
                              ---------   17,790  2
  Lime and Cement
    By Convict Labour            785  6
    Money Expenditure            552  6
                              ---------    1,337 12
    By Convict Labour          3,327  9
    Money Expenditure         _nil._
                              ---------    3,327  9
  Weaver's Work
    By Convict Labour          1,368 14
    Money Expenditure            604  7
                              ---------    1,973  5
  Rattan Work
    By Convict Labour            915 13
    Money Expenditure         _nil._
                              ---------      915 12
  Total                               Rs. 25,344  8


The following is a tabulated account of the cost of the brick kilns to
the State, and the value of these convict-made bricks in the local

The output of bricks per month when four tables were at work was
230,000, and their value at $45.00 per 10,000 would be $1,035. The cost
of manufacture was as follows:--

  Overseer's Salary             45.00

  Labour of 125 Convicts,
    at 25cts. per diem for
    artizans and 9cts. for
    labourers                  306.00

  Cost of Fuel                 200.00

  Wear and Tear                 17.10

  Food for Cattle               24.30

  Contingencies                 16.20
  Total                       $608.60

  Value of 230,000 of
    Bricks at $45 per
    laksa, that being the
    market price for
    Government Bricks        1,035.00

  Deduct cost of
    manufacture                608.60
  Difference to credit of
  the State                   $426.40

Bricks were debited to Government Works at $20 per laksa. The size of a
Government brick mould was 10¼ x 5¼ x 3 ins. The bricks when burnt
measured 9 x 4½ x 2¾ ins., and weighed about 7 lbs. when dry, and about
7 lbs. 3 or 4 ozs. after soaking in fresh water. These were ordinary
bricks, but those manufactured for hydraulic work were impervious to

NOTE.--The size of a Chinese-made brick when burnt is 10 x 5 x 1½ ins.
It requires 22 Chinese-made bricks to build one cubic foot of brickwork,
but of convict-made Government bricks a cubic foot of brickwork requires
13 only.


Number and nature of defaults committed by Indian convicts:--

  Nature of Defaults.                     For the year
                                     1846.   1856.   1866.
  Stealing                            11      11      11

  Disobedience of Orders               4       1      10

  Drunkenness                          2      15       6

  Assault                              1      --      --

  Neglect of Duty                      4      22      12

  Smuggling Articles into Jail         4      --       4

  Disturbing Women at Night            1      --      --

  Sleeping while on Duty               1       3       7

  Cutting and Wounding                 1       1      --

  Breaking open a Convict's Box        1      --      --

  Allowing Local Prisoners to
    speak to Outside Men              --       1      --

  Receiving Money for Safe
    Keeping and Denying the Same      --       3      --

  Quarrelling and Abusing             --       5       9

  Telling Falsehood                   --       3       2

  Allowing Local Prisoners to
    Abscond                           --       3      19

  Idleness at Work                    --       1       3

  Gambling                            --       6       4

  Absent from Roll Call               --       4      17

  Impertinence to Warder              --       1      --

  Selling his own Cloths              --       2      --

  Confined by the Police              --       5      --

  Striking a Fellow-Convict           --       5       3

  Refusing to Work                    --       3       6

  Unlawfully Detaining a
    Man's Sampan                      --       1      --

  Creating a Disturbance              --       2       2

  Bringing a False Charge             --       1       1

  Writing a Threatening Petition      --       2      --

  Having Stolen Property in
    Possession                        --       1      --

  Wilfully Destroying Tools           --       1      --

  Carelessness at Work                --       7       6

  Leaving Work without Orders         --       4       4

  Intending to Abscond                --      11      --

  Bringing a Woman into the
    Hospital at Night                 --       1      --

  Selling Rations                     --       2      --

  Begging in the Streets              --       1       3

  Committing a Nuisance               --       1      --

  Mixed up in Street Rows             --       1      --

  Counterfeiting Coin                 --       1      --

  Buying Rations from a
    Fellow-Convict                    --      --       1

  Pawning                             --      --       1

  Suspected of Thieving               --      --       2

  Losing Cloths                       --      --       4

  Leaving his Watch                   --      --       6

  Committed by the Police             --      --       9

  Attempting to Commit Suicide        --      --       1

  Marrying without Permission         --      --       1

  Carrying Letters for Local
    Prisoners                         --      --       3

  Disrespect to Superiors             --      --       2

  Obtaining Money under False
    Pretences                         --      --       1

  Receiving Bribes                    --      --       1

  Impertinence                        --      --       2

  Malingering                         --      --       2

  Suspected of being Concerned
    in a Murder                       --      --       2

  Assaulting a Free Man               --      --       4
      Total                           30     132     172

This table gives the number and nature of the defaults committed by the
Indian convicts for the years 1846, 1856 and 1866, but it is doubtful
whether the list for 1846 is complete, as the prison records do not
appear to have been fully kept up; anyhow they are not to be found, and
at that time the inquiry room had not been established. The number of
convicts under discipline and on ticket of leave during the twenty years
was between 1,900 and 2,500, which shows a small percentage of
defaulters, and they are all, with few exceptions, of a petty nature.


Extracts from letters from T. Church, Esq., Resident Councillor,
Singapore, addressed to the Honourable the Governor of the Straits.

    15th September, 1849. Transmits copy of letter from Captain
    Man, dated August, 1849, forwarding account of value of labour
    of the convicts for the year ending 30th April last.

        In my last report I adverted to the efficient state of this
        department, and the importance of the work performed by
        convicts under the zealous and active supervision of the
        Superintendent. The accompanying papers will, I think,
        satisfy your Honour, and distant authorities likewise, that
        the value of the labour of the convicts, particularly the
        artificers, is annually becoming developed; and even now
        the skill of the men is quite equal, if not superior, to
        the free labourers generally employed by the Superintending
        Engineer; in fact, Major Faber has on more than one
        occasion expressed his professional opinion on the
        superiority of the masonry and other works executed by the
        convict body. I trust the period is not far distant when
        the Government will allow all repairs and minor works to be
        done by the Superintendent of Convicts, a measure much to
        be desired, and vastly more economical than the present

        The annexed statement has no pretensions to accuracy, and
        I am rather disposed to place on record Captain Man's
        estimate than my own; but whichever is adopted, the result
        is most satisfactory, as showing that the labour of the
        convicts is equivalent to all expenses incurred in their
        maintenance at this station.

    August, 1850. A cursory view of the papers submitted by Captain
    Man will show how much the community are indebted to the
    convict body for the cleanliness of the streets in town, and
    the extensive and admirable roads in the country, which elicit
    the praise and even the astonishment of sojourners from the
    continent of India, and the Colonies.

    10th August, 1852. Captain Man's report is exceedingly
    gratifying, and demonstrates how admirably adapted the existing
    rules and regulations are to preserve order and discipline
    among a large body of probably the most vicious and demoralized
    characters from the presidencies, and at the same time render
    their labour of considerable importance to the place of

Extracts from the letters of the Governor of the Straits Settlements to
the Resident Councillor, Singapore:--

    29th August, 1850. The management of the convict body at
    Singapore reflects great credit on Captain Man, whose energy
    and zeal in the execution of his duties have always been very
    conspicuous; and I notice with extreme satisfaction the
    eulogium passed on that officer in the concluding paragraphs of
    your communication.

    The observations of the Superintendent of Convicts and Roads at
    this station, as well as at Penang, on the aforesaid rules and
    regulations, coupled with your notice of the same, have
    afforded me unqualified gratification, seeing that they were
    drawn up by me so far back as 1845 in the face of much
    opposition to the entire abolition of free men as petty
    officers, in which, however, as in all matters connected with
    the welfare of this station, I acknowledge your cordial support
    and assistance.


The head of the Madras Medical Department Dr. Edward Balfour, visited
this jail in August, 1863, and thus recorded his opinion:--

    The point that most struck me in the management of this jail
    were the diversified occupations and evident industry of its
    inmates, and their complete employment. The mass were actively
    working, and the few were superintending those engaged in
    labour. I have not before seen the various labouring industries
    of artizans so largely introduced in any jail, nor have I seen
    such diligence in their labour. Blacksmiths' and tinsmiths'
    work, carpentry and sawmills, carving and coopering,
    stonemasons, manufacture of coir and woollen yarn for blankets,
    weaving door-mats, and printing too, all in active operation
    inside the jail, with wood-cutting, brick and tile works, and
    vegetable gardens without. Daily task work, and its allotment
    and registration as to quantities performed in the jail, may be
    operating to produce the application to the work before them
    which the prisoners were everywhere giving. The hospital and
    its arrangements were very perfect. The well-kept floor, the
    clean cots, and the very small number of about twenty inmates
    out of a strength of 2,000, may be taken as indicative of the
    care in all other sanitary arrangements. Both the sickness and
    mortality seems very small. I have been much gratified with
    what I have seen, and have learned some points of interest and


Extract from the _Singapore Free Press_, October, 1884:--

    To this day many of the released convicts are living in
    Singapore, cart owners, milk sellers, road contractors, and so
    on. Many of them are comfortably off, but are growing fewer
    year by year, and their places will never be filled by that
    class again. The name of Major McNair is a password to their
    good feelings, and all their disputes used to go to him as a
    matter of course. When the Major wrote the _Sarong and Kris,
    Perak and the Malays_, it was remarked by one of the reviewers
    that he hoped the Major would some day give an account of the
    old jail to the world. It was one of the most remarkable sights
    of the place, and no one came from India on a visit in those
    days without going over it before he returned. For all sorts of
    things, from coir matting and rattan chairs down to waste paper
    baskets, every one went to the jail; and the rattan chairs the
    Chinese now sell here so largely, were invented in the jail,
    beginning with a cumbrous heavy chair, which was the first
    pattern, down to the shape we see now.

    No doubt the system had its defects, and there was a wide
    difference between the jail as it is now, filled with offenders
    sentenced in Singapore, and a jail which contained criminals
    who came from distant places and did not know the local
    language, and had no friends outside the walls to help them to
    escape from the island if they succeeded in getting clear of
    the jail; but, notwithstanding, it was often a wonder to many
    to find so large an establishment of the worst characters of
    India kept in check by what was, practically, almost personal
    influence alone.


From the _Singapore Free Press_, February 2nd, 1899. Given to show how
very lately this "head scare" superstition is entertained:--


    To the Editor of the _Free Press Pao_.

    MOST POWERFUL SIR,--Permit thy humble servant to approach thee
    by the way of my friend Tan Tan Tiam, who knoweth the Ang Moh's
    speech, and kindly consenteth to write to him who moveth the
    Government to influence the Tye Jin to have compassion upon the
    exiled sons of China.

    Thy servant is a humble puller of the man-power-carriage by
    night, and is suffering grievously because he is unable to
    carry on his lawful occupation of plying by hire, by reason of
    the dire fear that besetteth him. It hath come to the ears of
    thy servant and of his fellows, that the Ang Moh's engineers do
    seek a sacrifice to appease the offended gods of earth and
    water, whom they have outraged by disturbing his habitation on
    the hill that standeth behind the office of the Tye Jin, which
    they of India call Ko-mis-a-yat. The said engineers, perchance
    from ignorance, have neglected to consult the wise ones of
    earth-lore as to the means to be taken to please the said
    spirits, who have consequently so tormented the Ang Moh that
    they seek a sacrifice. Not of the rich and family-blessed, who
    would make a complaint to the Government, if they were
    sacrificed; but of us poor and friendless man-power-carriage
    coolies, who in the exercise of our nightly avocation are
    called to distant parts of the town, where the knife that is
    invisible will speedily sever the head from the body, and the
    cloth that is impenetrable will stifle the last cry of him that
    hath none to avenge, and our heads go to make the water run
    within the pipe, and make firm the foundations of this new
    water hole.

    Let the engineers make the necessary sacrifices, that we may go
    without fear and trembling to those who call us, with mighty
    voice and thick, to go to Si Poi Poh. Then shall we receive the
    reward of the Ang Moh's gratitude, far exceeding that of they
    who aforetime dwelt in the land, or of our brothers of the
    Celestial Empire.



Alquada Reef lighthouse, 112.

Andaman Islands, 21, 143.

_Anecdotal History_, on Singapore, etc., convicts, 47, 67.

Balfour, Dr. Edward: opinion of Singapore jail, 182.

"Bastiani," exporter of pine-apples to Europe, 60.

Begbie, Captain, 43.

Belcher, Sir Edward, R.N., 61.

Bencoolen, First penal settlement at, 1-3.
  Sir Stamford Raffles' letters on treatment of convicts at, 4-8.
  Transfer of convicts from, to Penang, 8.
  Transfer of convicts from, to Singapore, 39.

"Bencoolen Rules" in force at Singapore, 43.

Bennett, Mr. John, 61, 74.

Beri-beri disease, 149.

Blundell, Hon. Edmund Augustus, 73.

Branding, 12.

Bricks, Dearth of, at Singapore in 1844, 58.

Bricks made by convicts, 110, 174.

Brodhurst, Mr., 144.

Budoo road, 44.

Bukit Timah Canal, 71.

Butterworth, Colonel, 20, 61, 62.

"Butterworth Rules," 21, 62, 63.

Campbell, Major, 42.

Canning, Lord, 75.

Cape Rachado, 29.

Carrimon Islands, 33.

Cathedral, Singapore, 97-101.

Cavenagh, General Sir Orfeur, 52.

"Cellular system," 158.

Chains, Convicts in, 40, 87.

Chester, Lieutenant, 40.

Chinese rioters dispersed by Indian convicts, 67-68.

Church, Hon. Thomas, 73.
  Extracts from letters on value of convict labour, 179-181.

Clarke, Sir Andrew, 3, 14.

Clothing of convicts at Singapore jail, 94.

Cobra, 128.

Coleman, G. D., Work performed by, at Singapore, 43-46.

Collyer, Colonel, 75.

Collyer Quay, 76.

Convicts, Treatment of, at Penang, 16-20.
  Ticket-of-leave, at Penang, 24.
  at Malacca, 27-30.
  Transfer of, from Bencoolen to Singapore, 39.
  First trial of, as warders at Singapore, 40.
  Lenient treatment of, 41.
  used for suppressing fires at Singapore, 42.
  employed as orderlies and servants, 42.
  at Singapore, Malacca, Penang, and Maulmein, Extract from
      _Anecdotal History_ on, 47.
  used for destroying tigers, 52.
  used for surveying, 56. employed for road-constructing, 19, 28, 59.
  build lighthouses at Singapore, 60, 62.
  Indian, disperse Chinese rioters, 68.
  Bukit Timah Canal improved by, 71.
  A new St. Andrew's Church constructed by, 72, 97.
  assist in building fortifications of Singapore, 76.
  Government House built by, 77, 101.
  Classification of, at Singapore jail, 84-89.
  Average number of, at Singapore, 89. Trades of, 90-92.
  hours of work at Singapore, 92.
  Clothing of, at Singapore jail, 94.
  Industries of (intramural) 104-108.
  Industries of (extramural) 108-112.
  Stories about Indian, 113-142.
  Indian, fondness for spying, 123.
  Indian, Transfer of, to Port Blair from Singapore, 143.
  Pardoning, 143-145. Analysis of crimes of, in 1873, 145.
  Diseases of, at Singapore, 147-152.
  Death-rate of, at Singapore, 149.
  Disciplinary treatment of, at Singapore, 159.
  Incorrigible, 161.
  Materials made by, 172-175.
  Bricks made by, 172-175.
  Defaults committed by Indian, 176.

Cotton, Dr. George, 74.

Cowpar, Dr., 154.

Crawfurd, Mr. John, 36, 101.

Crocodiles, 130, 134-138.

"Dacoity," 12.

Davidson, M. F., 61, 62.

Death-rate of convicts at Singapore, 149, 170.

De Barros on Malacca, 26.

Dindings, 14.

Diseases of convicts at Singapore, 147-152.
  Feigned, 152-155.

Du Cane, Sir Edmund, 96.

Edinburgh, H.R.H. The Duke of, 77.

Faber, Captain, 58.
  lays foundation stone of Pearl's Hill jail, 64.

Farquhar, Major, 33.

Fires, Convicts used for suppressing, 42.

Flogging, 88.

Forlong, General, 21, 63.
  appreciation of Singapore convict system, 63.

Fraser, Colonel, report on management of Singapore jail, 110.

"Funny Joe," 126.

Godinho de Eredia, 25, 151.

Government House at Singapore, 101-104.

Guillaume, architect, 97.

Guthrie, Mr. Alexander, 35.

Guthrie, Mr. James, 101.

Hamadryads, Convicts bitten by, 16.

Hay, Mr. Andrew, 35.

"Head Scare," 69-70.

Hilliard, Captain, 20.

Hospital erected at Singapore, 57.

Humphrey, Rev. William Topley, 73.

Industries, Convict, 104-112.

Jail erected near Brass Basa Canal, 54.
  New Civil, at Pearl's Hill, 64.
  Singapore, Description of, 77-83.
  Singapore, Classification of convicts at, 84-89.
  Singapore, Rations for, 93.
  Industries at Singapore, 104-112.
  Convict Probation at Singapore, 157.
  Expenses of Singapore, 169.
  Statistics of Hospital Department, 170-171.

Janssen, M. Leon, 151.

Johnstone, Mr. A. L., 35.

Johore, Sultan of, 36.

Kerr, Dr., 150.

Labour, Value of convict, 92.
  Statistics of convict, 172-175.

Latrines, 80-82.

"Licuala acutifida," 24.

Light, Captain, 15.

Lighthouses at Singapore, 60-62.
  erected at eastern entrance to Straits of Malacca, 62.

McClure, Sir Robert, 139.

MacKenzie, Mr. E., 35.

McNair, Lieut., 73.

McNair, Major, 52.
  Rules introduced by, 1858-59, 63.
  prepares plans for Government House at Singapore, 77, 97, 101.

Macpherson, Captain Ronald, 71, 73.

Macpherson, Colonel, 97.
  Attempt to kill, 125.

Magaelhaens, Mr., 61.

Mahomed Shah, 26.

Malacca, Origin of name of, 25.
  Size of, 26. Trade of, 26.
  The Portuguese at, 26.
  Appearance of, 27.
  First convicts at, 27.
  Industrial training of convicts at, 29.
  Transfer of convicts to Singapore from, 30.
  trade, 1845-46, 65.

Man, Captain, 158.

Man, General, 20, 21.

Man, General, Initiation of carpenter's work at Singapore, 64.

Marco Polo, 151.

Maxwell, Mr. D. A., 35.

Mayne, Major, 76.

Montgomery, Mr. W., 35.

Moor's _Notices of the Indian Archipelago_, 45.

Morgan, Mr. A. F., 35.

Morgan, Mr. John, 35.

Mouat, Dr., Paper on ticket-of-leave system at Singapore, 10.
  Testimony as to conservancy of Singapore jail, 82.
  Report on Singapore jail, 1864-65, 105.

Napier, Mr. D. F., 35.

Netley Abbey, 97.

New Harbour Dock, 67.

Ord, Lady, 101.

Ord, Sir Harry St. George, 76, 101.

Oxley, Dr., House of, attacked by burglars, 43.

Pangkor, 14.

Penang, Convicts transferred to, from Bencoolen, 8, 14.
  Increase in population of, 15.
  Trade of, 16, 65.
  Treatment of convicts at, 16-20.
  Ticket-of-leave at, 24.
  Seat of government fixed at, 41.
  "Penang lawyers," 24.
  "Penang Rules," 8, 18.
  in force at Singapore, 43.

Pine-apples at Singapore, 59.

Piracy in the Straits of Malacca, 120-122.

Pooley, Lieut.-Col. Charles, 73.

Port Blair, Transfer of Indian life-convicts to, 143.

"Prince of Wales Island" (see also Penang), 14.

Prisoners (see Convicts).

Province Wellesley, Acquisition of, 14.

Pulo Ubin, British flag planted at, 38.

Purvis, Captain, 73.

Purvis, Mr. John, 35.

Queen, H.M. The, Statue of, 104.

Raffles', Sir Stamford, letters to Government on treatment of
    convicts at Bencoolen, 4-8.
  Views of, on necessity of trading centre in Straits of Malacca, 33.
  Address from merchants at Singapore to, 36.
  reply to address from merchants at Singapore, 37.
  "The Coney" lighthouse named after, 62.

Raffles Institution, 45.

Rations for Singapore jail, 93.

Rawlinson, Sir Robert, K.C.B., 76.

Read, Mr. C. R., 35.

Read, Mr. W. H., C.M.G., 100.

Rhio, 33.

Roads opened between Bukit Timah and Krangi, 59.
  to summit of Telok Blangah Hill, 59.

Rock-blasting by Indian convicts, 66.

Rowell, Dr. Irvine, C.M.G., 150.

St. Andrew's Church, 68.
  Construction of a new, 72.
  consecrated by Dr. George Cotton, Bishop of Calcutta, 74.

Scott, Mr. Charles, 35.

Scott, Mr. Thomas, 101.

Serangoon road, 44.

Shaw, Mr. Frank, 131.

Singapore, Foundation of settlement, 34.
  Origin of name of, 31.
  Size of, 32.
  ceded to Great Britain, 34.
  Population of, 34.
  First settlers at, 34, 35.
  Early prison at, 35.
  Address from merchants at, to Sir Stamford Raffles, 36.
  Extracts from reply to address from merchants to Sir S. Raffles, 37.
  First census, 38.
  Transfer of convicts from Bencoolen to, 39.
  First church for, 45.
  jail erected, 1841, 54.
  Tigers at, 49-53.
  Extract from _The Free Press_ on progress of town, 55.
  hospital erected, 57.
  bricks, 58.
  pine-apples, 59.
  trade, 1845-46, 65.
  census, 1849, 67.
  new church, 72.
  Fortification of, 75.
  waterworks, 76.
  jail, Description of, 77-83.
  cathedral, 97-101.
  Government House, 101-104.
  Expenses of, jail, 169.

_Singapore Free Press_: Extract on capture of a tiger, 50.
  Extract on ravages of tigers, 51.
  Extract on progress of Singapore town, 1842, 55.
  Extract on Singapore lighthouse, 61.
  Extract on tiger-hunting, 134.
  on released convicts, 183-184.
  on "head-cutting" scare, 185-186.

Sleeman, Colonel, 12.

Stevenson, Captain, 48.

Stone Quarrying at Singapore, 111.

Surveying, Convicts used for, 56.

Tanjong Tatti, 33.

Tan-Tock-Seng, 57.

Taylor, Rev. Wallace, M.D., 152.

Temple, Col. R.C., 21.

Thompson, J. T., 56.
  designs hospital for Singapore, 57.
  designs Singapore lighthouse, 60.

"Thuggee," 11.

"Tickery Banda," 113.

Ticket-of-leave system, 10, 24.
  employed in pine culture, 60.

Tigers at Singapore, 49-53.
  trap, 131.

Trade for year 1845-46 of Penang, Singapore, and Malacca, 65.

Trades of Singapore convicts, 90-92.

Transportation, 8.
  Effect of, on the native of India, 9, 117, 157.

_Tropical Possessions in Malayan India_,
    Story about "Tickery Banda" in, 113.

Warders, Singapore convicts as, 40, 48, 162.

Well-digging at Singapore, 112.

White, Rev. Edmund, 45.

Wilson, Rt. Rev. Daniel, D.D., 73.

Xavier, St. Francis, 27.

Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.

Transcriber's Notes:

Inconsistencies in the hyphenation of words preserved. (cocoanuts,
cocoa-nuts; extramural, extra-mural; intramural, intra-mural; lookout,
look-out; tongkong, tong-kong; transmarine, trans-marine; workyard,

Pg. 37, inserted missing period. (extracts from it. After acknowledging)

Pg. 167-8, these were blank pages in the original text and anchors have
not been inserted for them.

Pg. 187, index entry "Alquada". Is spelled "Alguada" in main text.
Original spellings of both preserved as it is unclear which the author

Pg. 188, index entry "Crawfurd, Mr. John". Pg. 36 which index refers to
spells the name as "Crawford" while Pg. 101 spells it as "Crawfurd".
Original spellings retained in all cases as it is unclear which spelling
the author intended.

Pg. 189, index entry "Malacca". Inserted period after page number.
(First convicts at, 27.)

Pg. 189, index entry "Moor's _Notices of the Indian Archipelago_".
In the original text, both both the author's name and the title of the
book were italicized.

Pg. 191, index entry "Tanjong Tatti". Is spelled "Tanjong Jatti" in main
text. Original spellings of both preserved as it is unclear which the
author intended.

Pg. 191, index entry "Thompson, J. T.". Inserted comma before page
number. (Singapore lighthouse, 60)

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