In 1823, a gutsy and astute eighteen-year-old from China arrived in Singapore to seek fame and fortune. He succeeded in his adopted country, rising to become a business and community leader, and when he died 60 years later, he left a legacy that remains to this day.
This book captures a snapshot of Seah Eu Chin’s life, and the lives of his famous sons, especially Seah Liang Seah and Seah Peck Seah, interwoven with other early pioneers such as Tan Tock Seng, Whampoa, and Sir Song Ong Siang.
Told against a backdrop of a declining China and a rising British Empire, the book also tells the story of the founding and rise of a small maritime settlement nominally under British rule and its agricultural industry—and the rise of the “King of Gambier and Pepper”. And it tells the story of the Chinese secret societies, including episodes of rampages and widespread outbreaks of mayhem like the Anti-Catholic Riots of 1851 and the Hokkien-Teochew Riots of 1854, and how the hapless colonial authorities turned to respected Chinese leaders like Seah Eu Chin for help.
Written by a direct descendant of Seah Eu Chin, the book is largely based on documented material drawn from various sources including One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore by Sir Song Ong Siang.