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Information from the St. Andrews Society of Singapore


Origins of the Singapore St Andrews Society

First formal public celebration of St Andrews day in Singapore was 1835.
Second formal public celebration of St Andrews day in Singapore was 1836.

A meeting of patriotic Caledonians took place at the Reading Room on Tuesday the 24th of November 1835 where it was determined to give a public dinner in honour of St Andrew.  The dinner was to take place on the following Monday 30th November 1835 at half past Six.  The venue was the upper apartments of the Court House and the numbers expected would be no less than seventy(1).

At the St Andrews Dinner, Dr Montgomerie and Mr William Napier presided, and Messrs. Spottiswoode, Lorrain, Carnie and Stephen were Stewards(2).  The dinner was a great success and was reported that the party did not break up till daylight (3).

By the following year in 1836, Mr Napier had been elected chairman and Mr Duncan, Croupier, while Messrs. Lewis Fraser, Charles Spottiswoode, Drysdale and Davidson were the Stewards(4). There was a public invite in the 26th November 1836 edition Singapore Chronicle. The following week edition of the Singapore Chronicle mentioned that contrary to expectation there were less people than the previous year. This was however not down to a lack of people who wanted to attend but rather down to the fact that there were no public buildings large enough to accommodate so many people(5). Although the reporter from the Singapore Chronicle did not attend it was reported that “The company finally broke up at sunrise after having partaken of a third supper, when they parted with the upmost harmony and good fellowship” (6).

I could not find any mention of the St Andrews Celebration dinner in the following years of the Singapore Chronicle but the dinner did take place in the following year 1837. Dr Montgomerie was the Chairman again, the Stewards being Messrs Carnie, Fraser, Charles Spottiswood (partner in John Purvis & Co) and Davidson(7).  It would seem that the St Andrews Dinner continued in 1838 & 1839 because it caused some remarks in the newspaper when it did not happen in 1840(8).

No record for following two years (1841 & 1842) but the Dinner did take place in 1843 on Thursday the 30th November.  The venue was Dutronquoy’s and there were seventy five in attendance.  Dr Montgomerie was in the chair again and Mr William Napier and Croupier.  There were fourteen toasts including The Queen, the Pious Memory of St Andrew, the Navy, the Governor of Singapore, guests, President of the United States, the Army, memory of Burns and Scott, King of the French, memory of Raffles, memory of Wallace & Bruce, Mr G Nicol - the Kirk of Scotland, Mr Charles Dyce-Mrs Butterworth and the ladies(9).

There is no record for the following year 1843 but there is a record for 1844.  The Ball and Supper took place at the New Public Rooms (10). The next mention was in 1848 where the “patriotic sons of Scotia in Singapore… met at dinner in the Public Rooms in the evening, where they gave a free vent to their feelings of nationality, and the song and pledge went round to a late hour”(11).

Official Formation of the St Andrews Society.

In 1879, the St Andrews Ball was held in the Singapore Club and it had been a fairly regular annual event, though now and again a banquet had been substituted.  on the 27th November 1908 St Andrews Society was formed that “there might be in Singapore a regularly constituted body of Scotsmen under whose auspices and control the anniversary of St Andrews Society may be observed, and who may take cognizance of, discuss, and take steps in regard to any matters which posses a national and local interest by donations from the Society’s funds or otherwise”(12).

In 1908, both the Governor and the Colonial Secretary of Singapore were Scotsmen; the former (Sir John Anderson, G.C.M.G) became Patron and the latter (Sir Arthur Henderson Young K.C.M.G) President.  The other members of this the first committee of the Society were the Hon, Dr D. J. Galloway (Vice President) Mr James Henry (Secretary) and Mr. J.J Macbean (Treasurer).  The membership in the first year was one hundred and thirty three (13)

Footnotes:

(1) Singapore Chronicle, Saturday 28th November 1835,  page 2

(2) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), page 275

(3) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), page 275

(4) Singapore Chronicle, Saturday 26th November 1836, page 2

(5) Singapore Chronicle, Saturday 3rd December 1836, page 3

(6) Singapore Chronicle, Saturday 3rd December 1836, page 3

(7) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), page 320

(8) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), page 347

(9) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), pages 398-399

(10) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), page 439

(11) Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times Singapore 1819-1867. (Oxford University Press), page 494

(12) Editors Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E Brooke, Ronald J Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore Volume Two (Oxford University Press 1921) page 303

(13) Editors Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E Brooke, Ronald J Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore Volume Two (Oxford University Press 1921) page 303

Note that the Singapore Library does not have a copy of the Singapore Chronicle 5th December 1835 which may have reported how the St Andrews dinner went.  The British Library might have a copy.

Adam Hyslop
March, 2008

St. Andrew's Cathedral

Designed by G.D.Coleman, the original Anglican Church was built in 1835-36 on a land next to the Padang. In 1855, it was demolished, after being declared unsafe. The present Cathedral was built in 1856-61 by Indian convicts under the supervision of Major J.F.A McNair, according to the plans of Colonel Ronald MacPherson. St. Andrew's originated as a small parish church....it was consecrated in 1870. In 1973, the government of Singapore gazetted St. Andrew's Cathedral as a National Monument.

The first church on this site was built between 1834 and 1838. In 1845 and again in 1849 it was struck by lightning and in 1852 the building was declared dangerous and unusable. In 1854 the foundation stone of the present Cathedral was laid by Bishop Wilson of Calcutta and his successor, Bishop Cotton, consecrated it on 25th January 1862. The steeple was finished some time later.

It is called after St. Andrew, the patron Saint of Scotland because, of the subscribers to the original building fund in 1834, "There being so many Scotchmen among the subscribers, the Church was to be called after St. Andrew"

Anecdotal History of old Times in Singapore - Buckley).

Additional Information from the St Andrews Society of Singapore


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