Collecting localities



Biographical data


Raffles, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 5: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement I)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 8: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Supplement II)


Born: 1781, at sea off Jamaica. Died: 1826, Highwood Hill, Middlesex, England.



Entered the service of the English East India Company, first as a clerk in the office; in 1805 he was appointed Assistant-Secretary to the Government of Prince of Wales’ Island, in 1807 promoted Secretary, in 1810 Agent-General at Malacca; from 1811-16 Lieutenant Governor of Java and its dependencies, and from 1817-24 ditto of Bencoolen. He was anxious to extend the English influence in the Archipelago, but did not succeed to get the support of his own government; in 1819 he established English authority at Singapore, he being the first to recognize the importance of this gate to the East. He was a very able man with a keen interest in natural sciences and archeology; Diard (see there) made a zoological collection in Sumatra under his direction.1

Author of a book on Java.2

He is commemorated in the plant family Rafflesiaceae and in several plant species.


Collecting localities:

Prince of Wales’ Island (= P. Penang) (1805-June 1810); Malacca (Dec. 1810-June 1811); Java (Aug. 1811-March 1816).-After leave in Europe in Oct. 1817 taking ship for the East again, in 1818 reaching Fort Marlborough, Bencoolen, S. Sumatra. During his stay in Sumatra until 1824 he made many trips in the interior, e.g. with J. Arnold (see there) to P. Lebar on Manna River (May 1818), the latter discovering Rafflesia in that locality; Minangkabou trip: leaving for Padang (early in July 1818), starting the march (Sept. 16) into the interior with Th. Horsfield (see there),3 and with W. Jack (see there). In Oct. 1818 he made a voyage to Bengal and returned via Penang (Dec. 31, 1818-Jan. 18, 1819), sailing on the 19th to Singapore (founding the settlement on Febr. 6), and proceeding by way of Penang (staying Febr. 15-c. March 6) on a mission to Atcheen (= Atjeh, N. Sumatra, collecting a little on shore), from where he returned at the end of April. He and his family and W. Jack sailed for Singapore on May 22 (arriving 31), leaving for Sumatra by way of Rhio (= Riouw) on June 28. In Febr. 1824 he embarked at Bencoolen, homeward bound.



Herb. Kew [K]: Java (pres. 1826). He sent plants from P. Penang, Atjeh (by intermediary of Jack, Singapore (Nepenthes rafflesiana Jack etc.)4 and Benkoelen (S. Sumatra) to Wallich in Calcutta, which were distributed with the E.I.C. Herbarium (see sub Wallich); duplicates in Herb. Deless. (Geneva [G]).5

Part of the collections, brought together by him and Jack during their stay in Sumatra, were destroyed by fire on board the vessel ‘Fame’ on which he embarked for Europe in 1824.6 Sumatra plants of his were sold with Herb. Lambert,7 and acquired by Rich. The latter Herbarium contained Singapore plants too.8

Paintings of flowering plants from Sumatra, and sketches of Javanese scenery, caused to be made by him, are now in the collections of Mrs Drake, of Inshriach, Aviemore, Inverness-shire, Scotland, whose great great uncle was Sir Stamford.9 The Drake collection is now in the E.I. Office, London (inf. by Dr J. Bastin, July 1970).



(1) T.S. Raffles: ‘Descriptive catalogue of a zoological collection, made on account of the Hon. E.I.C. in the island of Sumatra and its vicinity’ (Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 13, 1822, p. 239 seq.).

(2) T.S. Raffles: ‘The history of Java’ (London 1817, 2 vols; 2nd ed. 1830); transl. into Dutch. An extract of the botanical part in Flora 41, 1821, p. 309-319.

(3) cf. Journ. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. no 73, 1916, p. 185 and note 135.

(4) cf. Journ. Str. Br. Roy. As. Soc. no 73, 1916, p. 163.

(5) cf. Lasègue, Mus. Bot. Deless., 1845, p. 128 and 144.

(6) cf. Alg. Konst- en Letterbode 18242, p. 100.

(7) cf. Hook. Lond. Journ. Bot. 1, 1842, p. 394-396; advertisement of Lambert Sale in Athenaeum 1842, p. 44.

(8) cf. Don in Lambert, Description of the genus Pinus, 2, 1837, Appendix p. 13-24.

(9) Cf. mimeographed report written by E.J.H. Corner in Oct. 1957.


biographical data:

Lady Raffles: ‘Memoir of the life and public services of Th.S. Raffles, particularly in the government of Java, 1811-16, and of Bencoolen and its dependencies, 1817-24; with details of the commerce and resources of the Eastern Archipelago, and selections from his correspondence. By his widow’ (London 1830); Life by D.C. Boulger, 1898 (portrs); Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger in Journ. Bot. 36, 1898, p. 446, and in 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931; Encyclop. N.I. 3, 1919; R. Coupland: ‘Raffles’ (Oxf. Univ. Press 1926); Backer, Verkl. Woordenb., 1936; C.E. Wurtzburg: ‘Raffles of the Eastern Isles’ (London 1954); J. Bastin: ‘Raffles the Naturalist’ (Str. Times Annual for 1971, p. 58-63, col. ill.); Raffles in Marble and Bronze’ (ibid. for 1972, 6 pp.).