Tan Boo Liat (Bukit Brown)

Tan Boo Liat (陈武烈 1875-1934) was born into a well known and established family in Singapore. He is the son of Tan Soon Toh (1853-1892), the grandson of Tan Kim Ching, (陈金钟, 1829-1892) and great grandson of Tan Tock Seng (陈笃生, 1798-1850). Tan Boo Liat was one of the pioneer members of the Straits Chinese British Association when it was first formed in 1900. The President of the Association was Tan Jiak Kim and Vice President, Seah Liang Seah. He was the owner of the mansion called Golden Bell Mansion (named after his grandfather, Tan Kim Ching) in Mount. Faber. On December 15, 1911, Chinese revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat Sen, stayed the night here, immediately after his arrival from Europe.
Tan Boo Liat (source: National Archives)
Tan Boo Liat was instrumental in the formation of the Singapore Chinese Girl School (Sing Po Chung Kwo Hsio Tang) located at Hill Street in 1899.  The President then was Lew Yuk Lin (Chinese Consul) and Vice Presidents; Khoo Seok Wan and Tan Hap Seng, Treasurer; Tan Boo Liat, Secretary; Ong Soo Tee. His residence from what i researched is 8 Simons Road.

Tan Boo Liat's signature (source: BookSG)

A famous horse called Vanitas

Tan Boo Liat became a instant celebrity among the race horse community when his horse, "Vanitas" won the Viceroy Cup on December 26, 1898 at Calcutta, India making it the first horse from Malaya to do so. Along  with the trophy is the princely sum of $100,000.  Vanitas continued its racing career after its return to Singapore and won in 1899, the Singapore Derby for the third successful time. By 1900, age caught up with the champion and Vanitas was retired at Tan Boo Liat's house, "Mafeking" at Confederate Estate.
Vanitas (source: NewspaperSG)

Unique Gravestone

Tan Boo Liat gravestone depicts a ray of light & on its side two bells.The ray of light indicates his staunch support of the Kuomintang Movement, while the bells are symbols of his mansion. The gravestone also indicates his given title awarded by the King of Siam - Phra Anakul Sayamkitch. This is because he and his family (especially his grandfather, Tan Kim Ching) has close relationship to the King of Siam due to the business dealings they have.

Tan Boo Liat passed away at the age of 60 on 3rd October 1934 in Shanghai, China. His body was embalmed and return to Singapore in a bronze casket via a ship called "President Johnson". The cortege left 117, Emerald Hill Road for Bukit Brown. He is survived by 3 sons; Tan Toon Hor, Tan Toon Lay, Tan Toon Sinn, three daughters; Mrs Seow Poh Leng, Mrs. Wee Chye Hin, Kitty Tan, two adopted daughters, Annie and Mui Mui and 12 grandchildren.

Tan Boo Liat is buried Block 3. Division D. His plot no is 520. The tomb is located just behind the iconic colorful sikh guard of Mr Chew Geok Leong.

Tan Boo Liat death certificate from the British Consul General at Shanghai 

The funeral of Madam Kwok Kim Neo (the wife of Tan Boo Liat) was reported to took place in Bukit Brown on June 1, 1932.


Father: Tan Soon Toh (1854-1891)
Tan Soon Toh had 5 sons and 1 daughter. From geni.com and also the article on the death of Tan Kwee Swee, i gather the names that i know so far are as follows:
Son: Tan Boo Liat, Tan Cheow Pin, Tan Kwee Liang, Tan Kwee Swee, Tan Kwee Wah.
Daughter: ?

Tan Kwee Swee (middle) together with brothers; Tan Kwee Wah, Tan Kwee Liang
(photo courtesy of Pat Lin)

Brother: Tan Kwee Swee (1879 -1937)
The fourth son of Tan Soon Toh and a great grandson of Tan Tock Seng, Tan Kwee Swee passed away on 29 January 1937  at his residence in No. 8 Swanage Road. In that article, it mentions Tan Kwee Swee as a prominent resident and father of two Queen's Scholar, Mr. Tan Thoon Lip and Miss Maggie Tan (nee Maggie Lim, first female school girl from Singapore to receive the award).

Tan Kwee Swee (source: NewspaperSG)

Brother: Tan Kwee Wah (1880 -1927)
Tan Kwee Wah was educated at the Anglo-Chinese School, Anglo-Chinese Free School and finally at Raffles Institution. Tan Kwee Wah joined the firm of Kim Ching & Co and assisted in the management of the estate of the late Tan Kim Ching. Later, he and Tan Kwee Swee took out probate of the will of Tan Kim Ching and acted as trustees until the estate was finally wound up. Tan Kwee Wah made many investments in property and later rubber plantations. His company was called Tan Kwee Wah & Co. which in the article below describes its business and business address at 28, Boat Quay. From the tombstone of Mr and Mrs. Tan Kwee Wah, we know the names of the children:
Sons: Tan Teck Bee, Tan Joo Bee, Tan Swee Bee, Tan Hor Bee, Tan Teck Lee, Tan Teck Leng, Tan Teck  Hock
Daughters: Tan Kim Neo, Tan Peck Neo, Tan Keng Neo, Tan Hoon Neo

Tan Kwee Wah

Daughter: name unknown
The Malayan Tribune in 14 January 1929 reported the tragic death of his little daughter.
source: NewspaperSG

Straits Chinese British Association. (1900, August 18). The Singapore Free Press, page 3
When a horse was given a red carpet reception. (1956, August 12). The Straits Times, page 20
Domestic Occurrences. (1934, October 4). Malayan Tribune, page10
When the red carpet was laid for the conquering hero. ( 1970, December 6). The Straits Times, page 22
Phra Anukul Siamkitch (otherwise known as Tan Boo Liat), and Tan Wi Yan and E Fong Seng and Rheims Francis Lazaroo : partnership deed. BookSG
Siamese Prince Death. (1920, June 4). The Straits Times, page 9


  1. Tan Sooh Toh's daughter from his wife Seow Lin Neo was Lilian Tan Lark Neo. Lilian Tan Lark Neo was Mrs. Seow Poh Leng #1. The children of their union were Duke Seow Siew Jin, Amy Seow Guat Cheng and Mrs. Lim Koon Teck nee Betty Seow Guat Beng. Lilian died young and was buried in Bidadari, and after her death the family arranged for Seow Poh Leng to marry her brother Tan Boo Liat's daughter, Polly Tan Poh Li and from that union came Eugene Seow Eu Jin and Rosie Seow Guat Kheng. I do not know the name of Tan Boo Liat's daughrter who died in infancy.


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