Raffles, Thomas Stamford

Raffles, Thomas Stamford

 

Born July 5, 1781, in Port Morant, Jamaica; died July 5, 1826, in Highwood, near Barnet, Hertfordshire. British colonial figure.

Raffles belonged to the left wing of the Whig Party. He worked for the British East India Company and in 1805 was sent to Malaya. He played a role in the seizure in 1811 of Dutch possessions in Indonesia. From 1811 to 1816 he was governor of Java and several territories on Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan (Borneo), and the Lesser Sunda Islands. He was governor of the British possessions in West Sumatra from 1818 to early 1824. In 1819 he set in motion the seizure of the island of Singapore by British colonialists and the conversion of the city of Singapore into a major trading port.

Raffles’ reforms in Java included the abolition of taxes in kind and feudal obligations, limitation of the rights of feudal landlords, and introduction of a uniform land tax. These reforms were basically aimed at converting the colony into a market for British industry. After the restoration of Dutch rule in Indonesia, Raffles’ reforms were nullified. Raffles is the author of The History of Java (vols. 1–2, 1817).

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