Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wee Swee Teow and family (Bukit Brown)

The impetus of this story started with the rediscovery of the tomb of Madam Tan Tim Neo (the widow of the late Mr Wee Kim Chuan) located in Bukit Brown, Hill 3 Division A. She is the mother of Mr. Wee Swee Teow whose namesake is linked to Singapore's oldest law firm that was established and founded by an Asian. Wee Swee Teow, O.B.E. , J.P was born in Singapore on March 26, 1880 and is the eldest son of Mr Wee Kim Chuan and Madam Tan Tim Neo. Wee Seow Teow was first educated at the Kampong Glam Government School and later, Raffles Institution where he remained until the age of 20. Wee Swee Teow then joined a commercial firm for a few months before joining the teaching staff of Raffles Institution at the request of Mr R.W. Hullett until 1908 when he left for England to pursue a law degree. Before departing, Wee Swee Teow discarded his queue (braided pig tail). He received a Second Class Honors and was called to Bar from Gray's Inn in 1911. Returning to Singapore the following year, he was admitted to local bar in January 1912 and opened a practice, in partnership with Mr Chan Sze Jin under the style of Chan & Swee Teow in 1911. That partnership lasted less then a year before he ventured on his own as Wee Swee Teow & Co.
Wee Seow Teow
Wee Seow Teow in 1935 and 1954
(source: NewspaperSG)
1913 : Vice-President, Board of Trustee of the Anglo-Chinese Free School, Telok Ayer.
1926-1930 : President of the Straits Chinese British Association
1927-1929: Municipal Commissioner
1931 : Legislative Council of the Straits Settlement
1931: Chinese Advisory Board
1932 : Executive Council of the Straits Settlement (first Chinese to be appointed)

In 1935, Wee Swee Teow was in the Malayan Honor list and bestow the title Order of the British Empire by the King. In 1950, Wee Swee Teow was appointed as committee member of the first officially founded Public Services Commission of Singapore, a body which controls all appointments and promotions in the Government Services.
Wee Swee Teow title (1935)


Wee Swee Teow passed away the age of 75 at his home in No 37. Stevens Road on June 3, 1954. The cortege left for Thomson Road Crematorium. He is survived by one son and several daughters.


Father: Wee Kim Chuan
Wee Kim Chuan was for many years, senior dispenser for The Dispensary before starting a dispensary of his own in partnership with Dr. Moore.

Mother: Tan Tim Neo
Madam Tan Tim Neo (the widow of the late Mr Wee Kim Chuan) passed away at the age of  72 on 21st December 1929 at her residence in No 37, Stevens Road. She is survived by 2 sons; Wee Swee Teow and Wee Swee Cheng and 2 daughters; Wee Seok Choo and Wee Seok Yan.
English inscription in lead etching of Madam Tan Tim Neo
Madam Tan Tim Neo who is buried in Bukit Brown Hill 3 Division A is the mother of Wee Swee Teow whose namesake is linked to Singapore's oldest law firm that is established and founded by an Asian.
Madam Tan Tim Neo
Son: Wee Eng Lock
Wee Eng Lock followed in his father's footsteps, studied in Cambridge and was called to bar in 1938. He married Miss Lim Phaik Gan, daughter of Mr. Lim Cheng Han, former member of the Legislative Council and Police Magistrate in Penang. Miss Lim Phaik Gan was the first Chinese girl who represented Cambridge in fencing and was an adept fencer. An article dated February 2, 1947 gives insight to Miss Lim Phaik Gan as the former Mrs Wee Eng Lock. She was residing with her young son, Wilfred in England. The two might have separated before 1947.

Mr Wee Eng Lock and Miss Lim Phaik Gan (1938).
They are flanked by Miss Lim's sisters, Iris and Doris.
(source: NewspaperSG)
Wee Eng Lock married Miss Yeo, daughter of Mr and Mrs Yeo Piok Kew at Bethesda Church on May 7, 1949.
Wee Eng Lock  and Miss Yeo, daughter of Mr and Mrs Yeo Piok Kew
(source: NewspaperSG) 
After the death of Wee Swee Teow, Wee Eng Lock took leadership of Wee Swee Teow & Co. Wee Eng Lock passed away at the age of 62 at his house in First Avenue, Bukit Timah on December 4, 1971


Wee Swee Teow & Co. is still in existence today. The company celebrated it's 100th anniversary on 2012. During Wee Eng Lock’s tenure as senior partner, Wee Chong Jin joined the firm as a partner. He practiced law with Wee Swee Teow & Co from 1940 to 1957. Wee Chong Jin left the firm to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore. He was the first Asian lawyer to be appointed to the position of a judge at the Supreme Court of Singapore and first Asian Chief Justice of Singapore.

During the companies centenary celebration, a book titled Wee Swee Teow & Co: A Centenary Legacy by Kevin Y.L. Tan was launched. Will try to look out for that book !

Miss Lim Phaik Gan ( P.G. Lim )
Tan Sri Lim Phaik Gan (1915-2013) is a lawyer and diplomat. Her father, Mr. Lim Cheng Han, was a noted barrister from Penang and her mother, Rosalind Ho-Lim from British Guyana, used to work at the Po Leung Kok rehabilitation centre in Hong Kong for Chinese prostitutes.

One of the first pioneer female lawyers in Malaysia, she was Malaysia's first  deputy permanent representative to the United Nations and ambassador to the former Yugoslavia, Austria, and the European Economic Community. In 1948, she acted as the defense attorney for Ms. Lee Meng, a communist guerrilla leader who was arrested during the Malayan Emergency in Perak. She had been sentenced to death for possessing a hand grenade.Ms Lee Meng's punishment was commuted to life imprisonment and eventually she was repatriated to China. Lim also assisted in securing government servant status for 14,000 daily-rated Malayan Railway employees in 1964. In 1968, she successfully defended 11 young people who had been sentenced to death for collaborating with Indonesian forces during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation or Konfrontasi, securing pardons for all 11 defendants from the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Perak.

In 2009 she was awarded the Merdeka Award. She passed away in Perth, Australia on 7 May 2013, aged 98, and is survived by 2 children, Wee Han Kim, and Caryn Lim. Wee Han Kim is the son from her first marriage to Wee Seow Teow. Caryn Lim or Alexandra Caryn Turnbull was from her second marriage to Mr. G.R.A. Turnbull.
Lim Phaik Gan (P.G. Lim)
[Research on-going]

Social and Personal. (1908, March 13). The Straits Times
Death. (1929, December 23).The Singapore Free Press
Acknowledgement. (1929, December 30). The Singapore Free Press.
Mr Wee Swee Teow, O.B.E.. (1935, January 3).The Straits Times
Malayans in the Honor List. (1935, January 2).The Straits Times
Well known Malayans who figure in the new year honors. (1935, January 2). The Singapore Free Press
Wee-Lim. (1938, October 9). The Straits Times
Spotlight on Malaya and Malayans. (1947, February 2). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1949, May 9) The Straits Times
Public Services Body Named. (1950, December 28).The Straits Times
A Chinese O.B.E dies, age 75. (1954, June 4). The Straits Times
Death of lawyer. (1971, December 4).The Straits Times
Song, O. S. (1984). One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore (p. 427). Singapore: Oxford University Press
Our History. [website]. Wee Swee Teow & Co.
Lim Phaik Gan. [website]. Malaysian Factbook.
Honest memoirs from an extraordinary lady. [website]. Wikibeng
The woman that is P.G. Lim. [website].The Malaysian Bar

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cheang Jim Chuan (Bukit Brown)

Cheang Jim Chuan is the 3rd son of Mr Cheang Hong Lim. A millionaire, he inherited a portion of his father's fortune and also wisely expanded into properties. He has over the years bought many properties. One of his office building alone yielded 1,250 dollars a month in the early 1900's ! He initially lived in 10 Mohammed Sultan Road. There were streets called Cheang Jim Chuan Lane and Place before they were changed.
Cheang Jim Chuan 

Cheang Jim Chuan of 112 Pasir Panjang was reported in the newspapers in 1928 to have purchased the 1928 Cardillac Tourer from Borneo Motors Ltd, the most up-to-date and probably largest during that time.

Chinese Girls School (1908), Famine Relief Fund (1920), Geylang Fire Relief Fund (1926), Jubilee Fund (1935)

Birthday Parties at "Riveria" 
"Rivieria" 112 Pasir Panjang Road was Cheang Jim Chuan's residence in later life. In November 1929, a birthday party dinner for Mrs Cheang Jim Chuan saw 500 persons, including many Europeans who were entertained with Cantonese wayang, ronggeng among others. In November 1931, a birthday party dinner for Mrs Cheang Jim Chuan saw 150 persons, including many Europeans who were entertained with Malay ronggeng among others. In 1933, over 200 guest were invited to Mr Cheang Jim Chuan's birthday celebration and they entertained to S.S Police, Ronggeng and other music. In 1936, the birthday invitation send out by his two sons, Cheang Theam Chu and Cheang Theam Kee were at their residence, "Maidstone", 42 Cairnhill Road. Over 200 guests attended.

In an auction sale by Messrs. Cheong Koon Seng in April 17, 1935, "Rivieria" 112 Pasir Panjang Road belonging to the late Chan Kim Hong Neo was bought by Mr Cheang Jim Chuan of No. 42 Cairnhill Hill for $20,000.

Mr Cheang Jim Chuan passed away on May 22, 1940 at his residence 113 Pasir Panjang Road at the age of 66. He leaves behind a widow,  two sons, Cheang Theam Chu and Cheang Theam Kee, 4 daughters, Mrs Cheong Chee Hai, Mrs Woon Chow Tat, Mrs Khoo Eng Tee, Miss Cheang Seok Chin Neo, 3 son-in-laws, 3 daughter-in-laws, 19 grandchildren.

Madam Chan Kim Hong Neo, passed away on March 1, 1934 her residence, "Rivieria" 112 Pasir Panjang Road at the age of 58.She leaves behind her husband, two sons, Cheang Theam Chu and Cheang Theam Kee, 4 daughters, two son-in-laws, Dr Cheong Chee Hai, Woon Chow Tat, 3 daughters-in-law, 14 grandchildren.
Tomb of Cheang Jim Chuan 
Mother-in-law: Madam Chia Gin Tee (Mrs Chan Cheng Wah)
Cheang Jim Chuan's mother in law, Madam Chia Gin Tee passed away at the age of 80, at her residence at No 12, Lorong 22 Geylang Road on February 7, 1937. She is survived by her sons, Chan Koon Leong, Chan Koon Bee, Chan Koon Teck, 3 daughter-in-law, 2 son-in-law, Cheang Jim Chuan and Tan Soo Jin. She is buried in Bukit Brown, close by to Cheang Jim Chuan.

Madam Chia Gin Tee (Mrs Chan Cheng Wah) 

Madam Chia Gin Tee (Mrs Chan Cheng Wah)
Son: Cheang Theam Chu
The engagement of Cheang Thiam Chu (eldest son of Mr. an Mrs. Cheang Jim Chuan of Nassim Road) to Miss Khoo Giang Neo, (eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Khoo Heng Wan and niece of Dr. Lim Boon Keng) was announced on July 1917 with wedding taking place on August 5, 1917.
Cheang Theam Chu passed away at the age of 72 on October 23, 1966. He and his wife are buried in Bukit Brown in Hill 3 Division B.
Cheang Theam Chu 

Mrs Cheang Theam Chu 

Son: Cheang Theam Kee
Cheang Theam Kee, second son of Mr and Mrs Cheang Jim Chuan married Miss Cheong Tuan Neo of the late Mr and Mrs Cheong Keong Chye of Dunman Road. The marriage took place on July 1, 1931.

Daughter: Cheang Seok Cheng Neo (Emily Cheang)
Miss Cheang Seok Cheng Neo, second daughter of Mr and Mrs Cheang Jim Chuan married Mr Woon Chow Tat of Master Attendant's (Registry of Shipping) Office, Marine Department, Singapore, fifth son of Mr and Mrs Woon Hong Heng of Kuala Lumpur. Marriage took place on September 27, 1930.
Miss Cheang Seok Cheng Neo and Mr. Woon Chow Tat

Variant names: Chiang Jim Chuan

Advertisement. (1914, August 25). The Singapore Free Press, page 12
Untitled. (1928, January 30). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Marriage. (1930, September 24). The Singapore Free Press, page 1
Untitled. (1930, December 13). Malayan Saturday Post, page 34
Marriage. (1931, June 27). The Singapore Free Press, page 10
Death. (1934, March 5). The Singapore Free Press, page 8
Property Sale.(1935, April 18). The Straits Times, page 9
Death. (1937, February 10). The Straits Times, page 2
Death. (1940, May 23). The Straits Times, page 2
Wright, Arnold, and Henry Adolphus Cartwright, eds. Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources. Lloyd's Greater Britain publishing Company, limited, 1908.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Chew Geok Leong (Bukit Brown)

One of the most iconic tomb in Bukit Brown and the most photograph, is the tomb of Mr Chew Geok Leong. The tomb is iconic as it has painted sikh guards guarding it. Another reason for its popularity, is its location -which is just beside the tar road and easily visible to walkers, joggers and drivers.
Chew Geok Leong  (1993)
Iconic sikh guards (with color today)
Chew Geok Leong was a former Qing official who came to Singapore at the turn of the century. He fled China as he did not want to align himself with the warlord Yuan Shih Kai who was at that time consolidating his power in an attempt to overthrow the Emperor. In Singapore, Chew Geok Leong became a Chinese physician  who operated his business from Geylang. Once he established himself here, he brought with him his wife, his seven children, a slave girl and a servant.

Chew Geok Leong had a house in Kampong Batak, now know as Jalan Eunos, while he operated his traditional chinese medicine shop in Geylang Serai (i suspect 925 Geylang Road).
Chew Geok Leong
A living tomb
His youngest daughter, Madam Chew Chwee Eng (she was 70 years when the article was written in 1993) recounted that his father came from a family with 4 generations of chinese physicians. She also recalled that when her father was alive, he already bought the coffin and the icon sikh guards. The coffin was placed at one of the servant quarters.  I have also heard oral accounts that Chew Geok Leong's tomb was commissioned when he was alive.

Chew Geok Leong passed away in 1932.

Grave guarded by statutes of two Sikhs belongs to Chinese Physician. ( 1993, January 5). The Straits Times
Sikh guards watch over grave. (1993, January 2). The Straits Times
Sikh guards at Bukit Brown. Rojak Librarian, posted on December 11, 2011

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Tay Kum Lim (Bukit Brown)

Tay Kum Lim (Tay Kum Lin) is the proprietor of Chop Sin Cheng Liong and was a property owner, purchasing various pieces of freehold land in Tanjong Katong and Teluk Kurau area.
Mr. Tay Kum Lim and Madam Lim Poh Choo 
Tay Kum Lim passed away at the age of 50 on May 23, 1925. He is survived his wife, 3 sons ( Tay Leong Cheh, Tay Leong Kee, Tay Leong Yam ) 5 daughters (Tay Guat Song, Tay Guat Wah ,Tay Guat Lian, Tay Guat Keng, Tay Guat Beng ). Madam Lim Poh Choo passed away at the age of 72 on June 12, 1957 at No 96 Lorong L, Teluk Kurau Road. She is survived by 3 sons ( Tay Leong Cheh, Leong Kee, Tay Leong Yam ) , 4 daughters, 4 son-in-laws, 37 grandchildren. 

Sons and Daughters of Tay Kum Lim 
Sons and daughters of Madam Lim Poh Choo 
Beautiful Peranakan tiles of Mr and Mrs Tay Kum Lim

Advertisement. (1908, March 25). The Straits Times
Property Sales. ( 1918, September 13). The Straits Times
Untitled. (1918, September 20). The Straits Times
Death. (1957, December 7). The Straits Times

Kow Biow Tee (Bukit Brown)

This tomb with beautiful peacock tiles caught my eye in my exploration of Bukit Brown. The head stone marble in the shape of a shield, carries the name of Mrs Kow Biow Tee (Madam Lim Kiat Neo). She was only 22 when she passed away on April 11, 1936. She is survived by 1 son, Kow Hock Chye and 1 daughter, Kow Hock Neo.

On June 4, 1938, subject to a payment of $100, Mr. Kow Biow Tee was allowed to be discharged from his bankruptcy by High Court Judge, Mr Justice McElwaine. The insolvency was the result of a series of illness in the family. Mr. Kow Biow Tee was a clerk with the Singapore Rubber Works and was under the company employment for 18 years. Although his monthly salary was $135, he had to support a large family including an old mother. His address was listed as No. 277 Pasir Panjang Road.

There is no more insights i could gather further for now.

Clerk's Bankruptcy Discharge. (1938, June 4). TheSingapore Free Press

Monday, March 03, 2014

Teo Teow Peng (Bukit Brown)

Teo Teow Peng, (July 26, 1882 - April 27, 1944) is the eldest son of Teo Hoo Lye. He was born 1882 in Singapore and educated in Raffles Institution. He is effectively bilingual in English and Chinese and was in the board of directors of the Sze Hai Tong Bank and the Ho Aik Steamship Co. Teo Teow Peng was also the patron of the Tiang Ho Kok Association.

Teo Teow Peng
Teo Teow Peng at Tiang Ho Kok Association (1933)
He passed away in April 27, 1944 at the age of 62.  His wife Madam Tan Kim Lian passed away at the age of 56 on July 29, 1936. Both are buried side by side in Bukit Brown.
Sons: Teo Bock Huay, Teo Bock Lim
Daughters: Teo Soh Boon, Teo Soh Cheng, Teo Soh Sim,Teo Soh Kay

Teo Teow Peng  at Bukit Brown Hill 1 Division B
Madam Tan Kim Lian 
Mrs Teo Teow Peng nee Tan Kim Lian 
Below is the picture of the family home of Teo Hoo Lye located at No 13 Dhoby Ghaut, the present site of Cathay Cinema. In August 1932, power of attorney was revoked from Teo Teow Peng and only his brothers (Teo Teow Gim and Teo Teow Geok) were given power of attorney.

Family home of Mr Teo Hoo Lye at No 13 Dhoby Ghaut

Teo Hoo Lye's house in postcard circa 1920

Domestic occurrence death. (1936, July 29). The Straits Times, page 2
Death (1940, July 7). The Straits Times, page 7
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Mrs Wee Leong Tan (Bukit Brown)

Madam Chua Seok Neo, one of the wife of Kapitan Cina, Wee Leong Tan of Bengkalis passed away at the age of 90 on April 12, 1927 at No. 28 Stanley Road. The tomb was cleared this year by the volunteer community who call themselves "Brownies", making it accessible to visitors. 
Mrs Wee Leong Tan nee Madam Chua Seok Neo 
Kapitan Cina of Bengkalis
Wee Leong Tan alias Wee Tan (1833- April 20, 1913) came down from Amoy region at a young age and became an opium farmer under his company called chop Kim Hock Hoe. In his 29 years of service to the Dutch government, he was given the title Kapitan ( Capitan ) and later Major China. In 1900 he received an Imperial Order and Gold medal from Queen Wihelmina.

His business expanded to shipping and also commissioning agents. He handed over his company officially to his sons to manage on 27th January 1911. His sons, Wee Kim Cheng and Wee Ann Kee made it a limited company and the shipping business was acquired and incorporated in 1908 under the name of Wee Brothers Steamship Co. Ltd.

Wee Leong Tan was buried at the family vault in Bengkalis when he died in April 20, 1913 at the age of 78 (His wife died in 1909). He is survived by 3 sons and 3 daughters. The steamship of Wee Brothers provided free transport for mourners and free loaders from Singapore to Bengkalis to attend the funeral. In the evening after the elaborate and grand burial ceremonies, the fleet provided firework displays and then set sail back to Singapore with "Will o the Wisp" taking lead.
Wee Ann Kee and Wee Kim Cheng, executors of their father will
(source: NewspaperSG) 
Wife:  name unknown
Passed away in July 1909, Wee Tan's wife was shipped back to the family vault in Benkalis ( Bengkalis) for burial. There was a detailed report that all ships (with exception to one) of Wee Brothers' Steamship were sent to Benkalis on the day of the funeral. The captains, officer and crew marched to the Wee family cemetery 2 miles away. Wee Tan (Wee Leong Tan ) who served as the Capitan China for 35 years, expressed thanks to all present and it was estimated that no less than 8,000 people followed or witness the procession

Wife: Chua Seok Neo
Passed away at the age of 90 on April 12, 1927 and buried in Bukit Brown.
Mrs Wee Leong Tan tomb with title "Kapitan"
Son: Wee Koom Poy
When Wee Leong Tan retired in 1908, it was reported that his son Wee Koom Poy succeeded him. However i found no further record about him.

Son: Wee Kim Cheng 
Wee Kim Cheng was a Senior partner of Messrs. Kim Hock Hoe and founder of Wee Brothers Steamship Co Ltd in 1908. Kim Cheng Street in Tiong Bahru area is named after him.

Son: Wee Ann Kee 
Wee Ann Kee passed away on July 26, 1914 at his residence, No 28 Stanley Street at the age of 40. Wee Ann Kee passed away roughly a year after his father's death. He is survived by a widow and 4 sons. He was a Senior Partner for Messrs. Kim Hock Hoe and of Wee Brothers Steamship Co Ltd

Son: Wee Chim Yean 
Mr Wee Chim Yean, Kapitan China of Benkalis passed away at the age of 41 due to pneumonia on August 12, 1926 at No 28 Stanley Road. Mr Wee Chim Yean was the youngest son of Mr Wee Leong Tan. He is survived by 4 sons and 4 daughters. Wee Chim Yean is buried in Bukit Brown.

Daughter: Wee Kim Lian 
Wee Kim Lian married Gwee Khiok Soo.

Benkalis Notes. (1909, August 2). The Straits Times
The late Wee Leong Tan. (1913, May 19). The Straits Times
Death. (1914, July 28). The Straits Times
Advertisement. (1915, February 3). The Singapore Free Press
Deaths. (1926, August 17). The Straits Times
Social and Personal. (1926, August 14). The Straits Times
Death. (1927, April 14). The Straits Times

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Tan Kim Tian and family (Bukit Brown)

Mr. Tan Kim Tian arrived in Singapore from Malacca at the age of 15. He worked as an office boy in Paterson Simons &  Company and impressed his boss, Mr. William Paterson so much that he helped arranged for Tan Kim Tian to learn English. He was eventually promoted to be the Storekeeper and Campadore that managed the trade of gutta percha, cloves and rattan. By the age of 30, Tan Kim Tian had the confidence to set out on his own and formed his own company, Tan Kim Tian and Son Steamship Company at No 1 Prince Street, the first local Chinese company that build and purchase steamships.The company also had assurance of cargo from Tan Kim Tian's previous employer. It started with three sailing vessels and two small steamers and the company  grew to owned 11 ships with a tonnage of over 80,000 tons. Tan Kim Tian once bought a large shipment of coffee to be shipped to Europe. Instead of sending it all, he split it into 2 and got a better price for his second one. Tan Kim Tian and Sons was one of the most prosperous shipping firms in Singapore.

Tan Kim Tian passed away on December 18, 1882. His son, Tan Beng Wan carried on as Managing Director until he died in 1891 on Christmas Day at the age of 40 at his residence in Botan House, Neil Road.
Portrait of Tan Kim Tian
Portrait of Tan Kim Tian (source:

Decline of Tan Kim Tian and Sons
After the death of Tan Kim Tian and Tan Beng Wan, the company was inherited by Tan Cheng Siong /Tan Cheng Siang (Tan Beng Wan's only son who was only 7 years old at that time). By then, the company was partly owned by Straits Steamship and managed by two of his uncles, Tan Hup Seng (23 years old ) and Tan Hup Leong (in his teens). Straits Steamship sold their stake to Oei Tiong Ham's company, Heap Eng Moh Steamship. Following financial difficulties and increasing debt loans owed to Mr Oei Tiong Ham, Tan Kim Tian and Son Steamship Company was acquired over completely by Mr. Oei Tiong Ham.

Advertisement 1901 (source: NewspaperSG)

Wife: Mrs Tan Kim Tian  (Wee Poh Kiok Neo)
Mrs Tan Kim Tian (Wee Poh Kiok Neo) was buried in Bukit Brown when she died on December 15, 1927 at the age of 77.
Mrs Tan Kim Tian (Wee Poh Kiok Neo)

Mrs Tan Kim Tian;s tomb in Bukit Brown

Son: Tan Beng Wan 
Born in Annam, he was adopted by Tan Kim Tian. The story goes that Mr and Mrs Tan Kim Tian lost 2 or 3 of their first babies. So to change their luck, they adopted Tan Beng Wan, after which many boys and girls were successfully given birth ! Another story goes is that Tan Beng Wan was born from a concubine of Tan Kim Tian. Whatever is the truth, Tan Beng Wan was neverthless treated as the eldest. He studied at Raffles School and at the age of 15 joined Tan Kim Tian & Sons and eventually became the managing partner after the death of Tan Kim Tian. In 1888 he was elected Municipal Commissioner for the Central Ward. He was also a director of the Straits Insurance Company. Prior to his death, he was also in the Chinese Advisory Board together with Tan Jiak Kim, Tan Keong Siak and Lim Eng Keng.

Tan Beng Wan died in 1890 at the age 40 and was buried in a private cemetery in Thomson Road.
Mrs Tan Beng Wan (Lim Imm Neo) died at the age of 74 on October 10, 1925 at Botan House, No 46, Neil Road. She left behind her son, Tan Cheng Sian and Tan Cheng Yan, 1 daughter, 5 daughter-in laws, one son-in-law (Lim Siew Hock) , 12 grandsons. She was buried in Bukit Brown.

Mrs Tan Beng Wan (Madam Lim Imm Neo)

Mrs Tan Beng Wan
Tan Cheng Siong / Tan Cheng Siang (1885-1977), grandson of Tan Kim Tian went on to set up his own Stevedore company. Born at the Botan house in 1883, he passed away there in June 1977 at the age of 94. Built by Tan Kim Tian, it was occupied by 4 generations of Tan until it was sold in 1978 and demolished in 1980s. It was located at corner of Craig Road and Neil Road.
Portrait of Tan Cheng Siang (source:

Botan House in 1968 (source: PictureSG)

Son: Tan Hap Seng / Tan Hup Seng
Committee Member of the Straits British Chinese Association, President of the Straits Chinese Recreational Club, Committee Member for Tan Tock Seng Hospital for 12 years until he resigned in 1906, Committee member of the Po Leung Kuk (Society of the Protection of Women and Children). After Tan Beng Wan passed away, the company was managed by Tan Hap Seng  (managing director) together with his brothers Tan Hap Leong and Tan Hap Swee.

Tan Hap Seng/ Tan Hup Seng
(source: NewspaperSG)

(source: NewspaperSG)
The story of the riches to rags of Tan Hap Seng was well documented in an article when he was finally discharged as a bankrupt at the age of 60 in 1927. Taking many risk and unprepared for the commercial world, Tan Hap Seng was first made bankrupt at the age of 38 and remained a bankrupt for 21 years during which he work as a chinchew on a boat.
Source: NewspaperSG

Son: Tan Hup Leong /Tan Hap Leong
Tan Hup Leong 
Tan Hup Leong had the honor of being the first Straits born Chinese to undertake a travel around the world for leisure in 1895. His route brought him to Penang, India, Marseilles, Paris, Germany and England. His return was via the way of America, Japan and China. He carried with him letters of introduction  from several members of the mercantile community (namely Messrs. Paterson Simmons ) and a certificate stating he is a British subject.

Tan Hup Leong died of heart failure at the age of 56 on August 5, 1926. He is buried in Bukit Brown.
Tan Hup Leong
Son: Tan Hap Swee
Tan Hap Swee passed away in November 1908

Daughter: Tan Bong Soo / Mrs Quek Geok Lin
Mrs Quek Geok Lin nee Tan Bong Soo passed away at the age of 45 on October 27, 1926. She is survived by her widow, her brother, Mr. Tan Hap Seng, two sons: Quek Cheng Teo, Quek Cheng Ong,three daughters: Quek Cheng Noy, Quek Nya Chit, Quek Nya Kerchit, 1 son-law, 2 daughter-in laws, 13 grandchildren.

Funeral of the late Mr Tan Beng Wan. (1892, January 11). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1895, June 8). The Singapore Free Press
Death. (1925, October 13). The Straits Times, page 8
Untitled. (1926, August 6). The Malayan Tribune, page 7
Wealthy Shipowner's brankruptcy.( 1927, March 5). The Singapore Free Press
Untitled. (1928, February 18). The Malayan Saturday Post, page 32
Lin, Lee Kip. The Singapore House. 1819-1942. Times Editions, 1988.
Song, Ong Siang. One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore. Ed. Edwin Lee. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984.
Portrait of Tan Kim Tian. (website). (last accessed 4 June 2020)
Photograph of Tan Cheng Siang. (website). (last accessed 4 June 2020)