Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mrs. Tan Beng Wan (Bukit Brown)

I saw the exhumed tomb of Mrs Tan Beng Wan (Madam Lim Imm Neo) and Mrs Tan Kim Tian (Madam Wee Poh Kiok Neo) many years ago  and was fascinated by the story of how the were the spouse of the early shipping pioneers of Singapore and from there did a blog article about Tan Kim Tian and family way back in 2014. During a recent visit to the Peranakan Museum for the special exhibition titled: Amek Gambar-Taking Pictures-Peranakans and Photograph, i came across a picture of the wake of Mrs. Tan Beng Wan and i decided to revisit to find if new content has surfaced or something i missed out earlier and indeed some new content (at least to me) has come to my attention in the form of pictures that were made accessible online which might be of interest especially her portrait and pictures of her funeral hearse to Bukit Brown.

Mrs Tan Beng Wan (Madam 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 (Tan Kum Neo ), 5 daughter-in laws, one son-in-law (Lim Siew Hock) , 12 grandchildren (Tan Choon Bock, Tan Choon Lim, Tan Choon Keng, Tan Choon Seng, Tan Choon Kian, Tan Choon Kiat, Tan Choon Guan, Tan Choon Hock, Tan Koon Neo, Tan Peng Neo, Tan Peng Kim, Tan Kim Chee). She was buried in Bukit Brown before being exhumed.

Mrs. Tan Beng Wan (source: National Archives)

Funeral hearse of Mrs. Tan Beng Wan  at Neil Road 

Close photo of  Mrs. Tan Beng Wan and the relatives in mourning outfit.  

Photograph with the caption "Funeral of the late Mrs. Tan Beng Wan, October 1924" (must be an error for she died in 1925)

Mrs Tan Beng Wan (Madam Lim Imm Neo)
Mrs Tan Beng Wan
Framed Photograph of Botan House (source:

Mr. Tan Beng Wan

Tan Beng Wan was born in Annam and 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 is that Tan Beng Wan was born from a concubine of Tan Kim Tian. Whichever is the truth, Tan Beng Wan was treated as the eldest son of Tan Kim Tian. 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 in 1892, he was also in the Chinese Advisory Board together with Tan Jiak Kim, Tan Keong Siak and Lim Eng Keng. When he passed away in 1892 at the age of 40, he was buried in a private cemetery in Thomson Road.
Tan Beng Wan 

Mrs. Tan Beng Wan in Batu Panjang, Tempera on Cotton. (website). National Archives
Portrait, Mrs. Tan Beng Wan. (website).
Framed Photograph of Botan House. (website).

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