Straits Settlements

Straits Settlements

Infobox Former Country
native_name = "Negeri-Negeri Selat"
conventional_long_name = The Straits Settlements
common_name = Straits Settlement
continent=moved from Category:Asia to Southeast Asia
region=Southeast Asia
empire=United Kingdom
status_text=Colony of the United Kingdom
era=British Empire
year_start = 1826
year_end = 1946
event_end = Disestablished
p2=Dutch Malacca
flag_p1 = Flag of Kedah.pngflag_p2 = Flag of the Dutch East India Company.svg
flag_p3 = Flag of Johor.svg
flag_p4 = Flag of Perak.svg
flag_p5 = Sin bandera.svg
s1 = Singapore
s2 = Malayan Union
s3 = North Borneo
flag_s1 = Flag_of_Singapore.svg
flag_s2 = Flag of the Federated Malay States (1895 - 1946).svg
flag_s3 = Flag of North Borneo.svg

image_map_caption = Malaya in 1922.
The unfederated Malay states in blue, the Federated Malay States (FMS) in yellow and the British Straits Settlements in red
capital = Singapore
common_languages = Malay, English
government_type = Monarchy
leader1 = George IV
year_leader1= 1820–30
leader2 = George VI
year_leader2= 1936–52
title_deputy = Governor¹
deputy1 = Robert Fullerton
deputy2 = Shenton Thomas
currency = Straits dollar, until 1939
Malayan dollar, from 1939
footnotes = 1: Also as the British High Commissioner to the FMS and North Borneo

The Straits Settlements were a collection of territories of the British East India Company in Southeast Asia, which were given collective administration in 1826 as a crown colony, as distinct from the native princely states, some of which later formed the Federated Malay States. Initially, the Straits Settlements consisted of Penang, sometimes officially named Prince of Wales Island, Singapore with about a score of islets of insignificant size lying in its immediate vicinity, the islands and territory of the Dinding, Province Wellesley, the town and territory of Malacca and the islands of Labuan.

History and government

The establishment of the Straits Settlements followed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, by which the Malay archipelago was divided into a British zone in the north and a Dutch zone in the south. This resulted the exchange of the British settlement of Bencoolen (on Sumatra) for the Dutch colony of Malacca and undisputed control of Singapore. Its capital was moved from Penang to Singapore in 1832.

In 1867, the Settlements became a British crown colony, making the Settlements answerable directly to the Colonial Office in London instead of the Calcutta government based in India on April 1. Earlier on February 4, a "Letters Patent" granted the Settlements a colonial constitution. This allocated much power to the Settlements' Governor, who administered the colony of the Straits Settlements with the aid of an Executive Council, composed wholly of official (i.e. ex-officio) members, and a Legislative Council, composed partly of official and partly of nominated members, of which the former had a narrow permanent majority. The work of administration, both in the colony and in the Federated Malay States, was carried on by means of a civil service whose members were recruited by competitive examination held annually in London.

Penang and Malacca were administered, directly under the governor, by resident councillors.

The Dindings and Province Wellesley

The Dindings, consisting of some islands near the mouth of the Perak River and a small piece of territory on the adjoining mainland, were ceded by Perak to the British government under the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. Hopes that its excellent natural harbour would prove to be valuable have been doomed to disappointment, and the islands, which are sparsely inhabited and altogether unimportant both politically and financially, were administered by the government of Perak.

Province Wellesley, situated on the mainland opposite to the island of Penang, was ceded to Great Britain in 1798 by the Sultan of Kedah, its northern and eastern border; Perak lies to the south. The boundary with Kedah was rectified by treaty with Siam in 1867. It was administered by a district officer, with some assistants, answering to the resident councillor of Penang. The country consists, for the most part, of fertile plain, thickly populated by Malays, and occupied in some parts by sugar-planters and others engaged in similar agricultural industries and employing Chinese and Tamil labor. About a tenth of the whole area was covered by low hills with thick jungle. Large quantities of rice are grown by the Malay inhabitants, and between October and February there is excellent snipe-shooting to be had in the paddy fields. A railway from Batu Kawan, opposite to Penang, runs through Province Wellesley into Perak, and thence via Selangor and the Negri Sembilan to Malacca, with an extension via Mar under the rule of the sultan of Johor, and through the last-named state to Johor Bharu, opposite the island of Singapore.

The governor's wider role

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands (which were settled and once owned by a Scottish family named Clunies-Ross) and Christmas Island, formerly attached to Ceylon, were in 1886 transferred to the care the government of the Straits Settlements in Singapore along with the addition of Labuan in 1906.

The governor of the Straits Settlements was also High commissioner for the Federated Malay States on the peninsula, for British North Borneo, the sultanate of Brunei and Sarawak in Borneo, and since the administration of the colony of Labuan, which for a period was vested in the British North Borneo Company, was resumed by the British government he was also governor of Labuan. British residents controlled the native states of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang, but since the 1st of July 1896, when the federation of these states was effected, a resident-general, responsible to the (governor as) high commissioner, has been placed in supreme charge of all the British protectorates in the peninsula.


The colony was dissolved in 1946, when Singapore became a separate crown colony (ultimately independent), while Penang and Malacca joined the Malayan Union, which eventually became Malaysia. The Cocos or Keeling Islands and the Christmas Island, originally made part of the crown colony of Singapore in 1946, came under Australian administration in 1955 and 1957 respectively, while Labuan became part of British North Borneo (becoming a district of Sabah), later also part of Malaysia.


The following are the area and population, with details of race distribution, of the colony of the Straits Settlements, the figures being those of the census of 1901:

The population, which was 306,775 in 1871 and 423,384 in 1881, had in 1901 reached a total of 572,249. As in former years, the increase is solely due to immigration, more especially of Chinese, though a considerable number of Tamils and other natives of-India annually settle in the Straits Settlements. The total number of births registered in the colony during the year 1900 was I4,814, and the ratio per 1000 of the population during 1896, 1897 and 1898 respectively was 22-18, 20-82 and 21-57; while the number of registered deaths for the years 1896-1900 gave a ratio per 1000 of 42-21, 36-90, 30-43, 31-66 and 36-25 respectively, the number of deaths registered during 1900 being 23,385. The cause to which the excess of deaths over births is to be attributed is to be found in the fact that the Chinese and Indian population, which numbers 339,083, or over 59% of the whole, is composed of 261,412 males and only 77,671 females, and a comparatively small number of the latter are married women and mothers of families. The male Europeans also outnumber the females by about two to one; and among the Malays and Eurasians, who alone have a fair proportion of both sexes, the infant mortality is always excessive, this being due to early marriages and other well-known causes. The number of immigrants landing in the various settlements during 1906 was:

Singapore 176,587 Chinese; Penang 56,333 Chinese and 52,041 natives of India; and Malacca 598 Chinese. The total number of immigrants for 1906 was therefore 285,560, as against 39,136 emigrants, mostly Chinese returning to China. In 1867, the date of the transfer of the colony from the East India Company to the Crown, the total population was estimated at 283,384.


The revenue of the colony in 1868, only amounted to $1,301,843. That for 1906 was $9,512,132, exclusive of $106,180 received on account of land sales. Of this sum $6,650,558 was derived from import duties on opium, wines and spirits, and licences to deal in these articles, $377,972 from land revenue, $592,962 from postal and telegraphic revenue, and $276,019 from port and harbour dues. The expenditure, which in 1868 amounted to $1,197,177, had risen in 1906 to $8,747,819. The total cost of the administrative establishments amounted to $4,450,791, of which $2,586,195 were personal emoluments and $1,864,596 other charges. The military expenditure (the colony pays on this account 20% of its gross revenue to the Imperial government by way of military contribution) amounted in 1906 to $1,762,438; $578,025 was expended on upkeep and maintenance of existing public works, and $1,209,291 on new roads, streets; bridges and buildings.

ee also

* Governor of the Straits Settlements
* Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements
* Straits Settlement of Malacca
* History of Malaysia
* History of Singapore
* Malaya
* Postage stamps and postal history of the Straits Settlements

References and external links

* Straits Settlements Blue Book, rpo (Singapore, 1907)
* Straits Directory, 1908 (Singapore, 1908)
* Journal of the Straits branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Singapore)
* Sir Frederick Weld and Sir William Maxwell, severally, on the Straits Settlements in the Journal of the Royal Colonial Institute (London, 1884 and 1892)
* Henry Norman, "The Far East" (London, 1894)
* Alleyne Ireland, "The Far Eastern Tropics" (London, 1904); Sir Frank Swettenham, British Malaya (London, 1906)
* The Life of Sir Stamford Raffles (London, 1856, 1898). (H. Cl,.)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Straits Settlements — (spr. ßtrēts, »Niederlassungen an den [Meeres ]Straßen«), engl. Kronkolonie auf der hinterindischen Halbinsel Malakka (s. d.), 3998 qkm mit (1901) 572,249 Einw., aus drei Teilen: Singapur, Malakka und Pinang (Pulo Pinang, Provinz Wellesley und… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Straits Settlements — (spr. strehts séttlments, d.i. Ansiedlungen an der Meeresstraße [von Malaka]), brit. Kronkolonie auf der Halbinsel Malaka und Nebeninseln, 4122 qkm, (1901/3) 573.800 E., umfaßt Singapur, Malaka und Pulo Pinang und als Dependenzen Weihnachtsinsel… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Straits Settlements —   [ streɪts setlmənts], die ehemaligen, 1826 zu einer administrativen Einheit zusammengefassten britischen Besitzungen an der Malakkastraße (Malakka, Penang, Singapur); zunächst Britisch Indien unterstellt, 1867 1946 Kronkolonie. (Malaiische… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Straits Settlements — former British crown colony in SE Asia, comprising Singapore, Malacca, Penang, Labuan, Christmas Island, & the Cocos Islands …   English World dictionary

  • Straits Settlements — Flagge der Straits Settlements …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Straits Settlements — Établissements des détroits Negeri Negeri Selat The Straits Settlements (Établissements des détroits) 1826   1946 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Straits Settlements — Straits′ Set′tlements n. pl. geg a former British crown colony in SE Asia: included the settlements of Singapore, Penang, and Malacca …   From formal English to slang

  • Straits Settlements — a former British crown colony in SE Asia: included the settlements of Singapore, Penang, Malacca, and Labuan. * * * Former British crown colony, on the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia. It comprised three trade centres, Penang, Singapore, and… …   Universalium

  • Straits Settlements — /streɪts ˈsɛtəlmənts/ (say strayts setuhlmuhnts) plural noun a former British crown colony in South East Asia, which included the settlements of Singapore, Penang, Malacca, and Labuan …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Straits Settlements — a former British crown colony in SE Asia: included the settlements of Singapore, Penang, Malacca, and Labuan …   Useful english dictionary

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