Gan Eng Seng and family (Bukit Brown)

Gan Eng Seng was born in Malacca ( Melaka) in 1844. His Great Grandparents came from Sam-Toh, Fukien province. Born third in a family of 5, he had two elder sisters, Gan Gin Neo and Gan Guat Neo. He was the eldest son. His younger brother was Gan Eng Chye followed by the youngest sister, Gan Guan Neo. Born poor, he still was able to received some education, giving him the ability to read and write simple English. His father died when he was 16 years old.  He then left for Singapore and was involved initially in a nutmeg business in a small scale. He went on to served under Guthrie and Co.
Gan Eng Seng

Chief Campradore, Gutherie and Co.

Thomas Scott, a partner of Gutherie, offered Gan Eng Seng a job in the godown at Coller Quay as a clerk and it was there he climbed up the ranks, from an Assistant Storekeeper to Chief Storekeeper and finally the Chief Campradore of Guthrie and Company after 13 years of service. He was the Chief Compradore for 25 years till he died in 1899.  (Chief Campradore is a native born-agent employed by foreign business to serve as intermediary in commercial transactions).

In 1864, when Tanjong Pagor Dock Company was formed, Gutherie and Co need labour desperately, and made Gan Eng Seng their labor contractor. Through his fourth wife Te Bok Neo /Teo Bok Neo and their son Gan Tiang Choon in Amoy, Gan Eng San was able to get labourers. The labourers from Amoy were received by his eldest adopted son Gan Tiang Tok, (chop Guan Ban Seng) who assisted him in this business. With transportation of the goods from the docks also increasingly important, Gan Eng Seng saw this as an opportunity and expanded his business by providing the bullock cart transport to the Tanjong Pagar Docks.

His peers in Gutherie included Tan Boon Chin and Simon Aroozoo. Simon Aroozoo was a good friend of Gan Eng Seng, who went on to acquire a portion of his estate in Serangoon. (there is a road name Aroozoo Avenue). He also help managed the estate after Gan Eng Seng's death in 1899. Many years later, this friendship will be renewed in the form of Simon Aroozoo's grandson. His grandson, Percival Frank Aroozoo became the Principal of Gan Eng Seng School  from 1938-1955, leading the school through its most challenging years and was instrumental in the move to its new building at the then Anson Road.

Founder of Anglo-Chinese Free School

Located at No 106 Telok Ayer Street, Gan Eng Seng paid $5000 for construction of this two storey building.The School which Gan Eng Sang founded in 1885 was originally known as Anglo-Chinese Free School and was to help provide education to poor children that lived in that area . A board of trustees was formed to managed it which included notable Chinese leaders such as Dr Lim Boon Keng. It came to be known as the Gan Eng Seng School only in 1923, 24 years after the death . In 1938 it became a government school.
Anglo-Chinese Free School
(source: a2O)

A generous man

Thong Chai Hospital  (Thong Chai Medical Institution, originally in Wayang Street) was founded by Gan Eng Seng and it provided free treatment and medicine. He also provided money for the maintenance of poor orphans and widows and for the destitute, supply of coffins. He also donated a freehold property to Tan Tock Seng hospital at Rochore in 1892. Gan Eng Seng built a school in his village and for his deeds, he was conferred by the Qing dynasty, the title of 5th imperial rank.


Gan Eng Seng died on September 9, 1899, age 55. Reports mentioned he died from blood poisoning (caused by a prick of his thumb by a piece of iron). He left behind 5 wives, 7 sons, 5 daughters, 4 grandsons. His sons are:
  • Gan Tiang Tok (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Keng (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Leong (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Khay (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Poh (adopted)
  • Gan Tiang Choon (born in China)
  • Gan Tiang Kwee
He appointed his partners, Thomas Scott, Sir John Anderson and Robert Frederick McNair Scott  (son of Thomas Scott) as executors and trustees of his will.  His residence was at No 87 Amoy Street (which still stands today).
(source: NewspaperSG) 
In 1921, for purpose of distribution, his estate was valued at $2 million ! After his death, Gan Tiang Tock took over the business. Originally buried in Pasir Panjang area, Gan Eng Seng family graves were re-interred in Bukit Brown on November 25, 1963.
Gan Eng Seng's tomb in Bukit Brown  
Family and Bukit Brown connection 

Wife: Madam Ho Chwee Neo
Madam Ho Chwee Neo died on October 25, 1934 at the age of 88 years at her residence in 162 Sims Avenue. She is survived by 2 sons (Gan Tiang Poh and Gan Tiang Kwee) and 4 daughters. She is buried in Bukit Brown, Hill 2 and is affected by the 8-lane highway. The peg no is 1966.
Madam Ho Chwee Neo
(1st wife of Gan Eng Seng)
Wife: Madam Koh Eng Geok 
Madam Koh Eng Geok died on April 14, 1944 at the age of 80 years and is also buried in the Gan Eng Seng's cluster of tombs. She is the mother of Gan Tiang Kwee.
Madam Koh Eng Geok
(2nd wife of Gan Eng Seng)
Wife: Madam Choo Ah Teng
Madam Choo Ah Teng died on May 1933. She is the mother of Gan Eng Seng's daughter: Gan Chin Neo.

Madam Choo Ah Teng
(3rd wife of Gan Eng Seng)
Son: Gan Tiang Tock /Gan Tiang Tok 
Gan Tiang Tock was of ill health from the time he took over the business in 1903 till he died in August 1927 at the age of 68. His tomb is located in Hill 2 and is buried beside his wife, Madam Cho Beng Guat who died in 1941 at the age of 72.
Gan Tiang Tock with the Matriarch Mrs  Gan Eng Seng,
his wife, children and grandchildren
He left behind 3 sons : Gan Hock Siew, Gan Hock Chuan, Gan Hock Swee. Daughter- Gan Ah Bee

Grandson : Gan Soon Guan, Gan Soon Tee, Gan Kee Poon Gan Kee Tian, Gan Kee Siang, Gan Kee Hong, Gan Kee Chwee, Gan Kee Soon (adopted). Grand-daughters : Gan Ding Neo, Gan Lian Neo, Gan Kim Hua, Gan Nellie, Gan Mary.
Gan Tiang Tock
Madam Cho Beng Guat
source: NewspaperSG
source: NewspaperSG
Son: Gan Tiang Keng
Gan Tiang Keng passed away on January 18, 1926 and is survived by 2 sons; Gan Hock Chwee, Gan Hock Yong, 1 daughter; Gan Beng Neo and grandchildren; Harry Gan, Sonny Gan and Alice Gan.

Son: Gan Tiang Leong

Gan Tiang Leong died in March 13, 1930 at the age of 52. His sons listed are Gan Hock Choo and Gan Hock Kee. He is buried in Hill 3 Division A, plot 739.

Son: Gan Tiang Khay

Son: Gan Tiang Poh
Gan Tiang Poh died in August 16, 1943 at the age of 65. His wife, Tan Im Neo pased away on April 9, 1961 at the age of 78. In 2011, their tomb was restored and a memorial ceremony held. His son (Gan Hock Chye) and daughter-in-laws tomb are in a cluster nearby in Hill 3.
source: Straits Times
Son's : Gan Hock Chye, Gan Hock Jin, Gan Hock Hoe, Gan Hock Kee, Gan Hock Huat
Daughters:  Gan Hock Neo, Gan Ding Neo, Gan Soo Neo, Gan Chit Neo.

Gan Tiang Poh and Tan Im Neo
Gan Hock Chye
His eldest son, Gan Hock Chye, a rubber broker, died at the age of 36 on November 28, 1937 at his residence in No 16, Joo Chiat Lane, off Joo Chiat Road leaving behind his aged parents, 2 sons ( Gan Beng Kiat, Gan Beng Choon) 1 daughter (Gan Cheng Neo), 1 adopted daughter (Gan Beng Neo). He is buried in Bukit Brown close by to his wife, Koh Soh Neo (died February 3, 1945 age 45)

Son: Gan Tiang Choon
Gan Tiang Choon was a director in The Asia Insurance Co, Ltd. He passed away in July 1926, and was buried in Blk 1 Sec B, Plot No 163. He was said to be involved in the Xin Hai revolution.
Gan Tiang Choon 
The Straits Times, 1927
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Son: Gan Tiang Kwee 
Gan Tiang Kwee was in Gan Eng Seng School Board of Trustees in 1923. He was also a director in the Asia Insurance Co, Ltd and a member of  the Po Leung Kuk in 1924.
Gan Tiang Kwee and wife 
Mrs Gan Tiang Kwee (Madam Chua Siew Lan) passed away on July 27, 1957 age 70 at No 51, Dunbar Walk, Frankel Estate.She left behind 1 son, Gan Hock Hye / Gan Hock Hai, 3 daughters,( Gan Choo Neo and Gan Eng Neo),  1 daughter in-law, 1 son-in-law.  Grandson - Gan Hui Heng.

Gan Tiang Kwee (died 1943, age 55) and his wife Chua Siew Lan are buried in the Gan Eng Seng's cluster.
Gan Tiang Kwee
Gan Eng Seng - Chew Boon Lay connection
One of Chew Hock Ann's daughter, Chew Koh Neo married Gan Kee Tian. (Gan Kee Tian is the grandson  of Gan Tiang Tok, while Chew Koh Neo is the grand-daughter of Chew Boon Lay )

[will update as i find more information especially on the rest of Gan Eng Seng's sons]

Death of Mr. Gan Eng Seng.(1899, September 9). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
The Singapore Free Press. (1900, January 12). The Singapore Free Press, page 2
Advertisement.(1925, September 26). The Singapore Free Press, page 15
Matters Chinese. (1926, July 6). The Singapore Free Press, page 6
Advertisement. (1927, August 9). The Straits Times, page 5
Advertisement.(1928, May 31). The Straits Times, page 7
Death. (1934, August 27). The Straits Times, page 10
Death. (1937, December 1). The Straits Times, page 2
Death. (1957, July 28). The Straits Times, page 24
The Pictorial History of Gan Eng Seng School. Gan Eng Seng School Old Student's Association. 2006
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press,
Percival Frank Aroozoo. [website] from Infopedia.
Gan Eng Seng. [website] from Infopedia
Gan Eng Seng School. [website] from Infopedia
颜永成家族. [website] from 咖啡山墓碑


  1. I would like to thank you for tracing the Gan Eng Seng family tree.
    I am many generations down and am proud to see what my ancestors especially Gan Eng Seng has achieved during his lifetime.

    Would just like to correct:
    Gan Hock Chye's daughter Gan Beng Neo is not adopted. Gan Cheng Neo is the daughter adopted.


  2. Hi Lil, I have received conflicting responses on this area. In which case i will reflect what the papers say: refer

  3. Sorry..have just confirmed with my mom and dad. You are right.

  4. Thanks Lil. If you have any old family pics of Gan Eng Seng children to share do share by emailing to me. Will love to enrich this article.

  5. Dear Sir, I am one of the administrators from the Gan Eng Seng School Facebook Group. A member had wanted to shared your article. I've verify that he had not seek your permission to do so. May I have your kind permission to approve his request to share it on GESS Facebook group? Thank you.

  6. Hi , thank you for this article. My Grandma is the Late Mary Gan Beng Neo. She is born in 1901
    and pass away in 1979. She is likely the daughter of Gan Tiang Keng. Is there anyway to verify this fact? Thank you

  7. Hi! Thank you for this article. I would like to add that Gan Tiang Keng has more than 3 grandchildren. In addition to Harry Can, Sonny Gan, Alice Gan, there is also Michael Gan Chew Kim, Shirley Gan, Lily Gan and Annie Gan.

  8. My Grandmother, Mrs Gan Hock Chye,Koh Soh Neo died at the age of 42, not 45.

  9. I keep finding references to a Gan Hock Hye, sometimes called Charlie Gan, who was a volunteer in the 2SSVF signals section, then a Major in the PDF, and had an award in GES school named after him. See:

  10. See also

  11. Is there a photo of the modern day gan family members at the late gan eng seng grave?

  12. GAN Chwee Neo, GAN Hock Chwee's eldest daughter:,phee,yam&oref=article


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