Friday, October 18, 2019

Tan Boon Chin and family (former Bidadari Cemetery)

Tan Boon Chin (1857-1933) was born in Malacca on 26th May 1857 and spend 4 years at a Chinese school there before coming to Singapore at the age of 12 with his younger brother, Tan Boon Chew. He stayed with his uncle, Mr. Wee Lim Guan and studied at Raffles Institution. The death of his father (who was engaged in tin mining in Klang) forced an early end to Tan Boon Chin studies at the age of 16. He joined the firm of Guthrie & Co in February 1873 and worked in all departments there , having served 43 years until his retirement in 1916.  In 1880, he married Song Lak Neo (daughter of Mr. Song Hoot Kiam and sister of Sir Song Ong Siang).

Tan Boon Chin and Song Ong Siang published the Bintang Timor (a romanised daily Malay newspaper) which lasted for 12 months. He was the Hon. Secretary of the Chinese Christian Association, a voluntary preacher (in the Malay language) at the Prinsep Street Church since 1886. He was also an editor of the Prinsep Street Church Messenger (a religious monthly magazine started in 1908 and distributed for free). Tan Boon Chin was also a senior elder in the Straits Chinese Presbyterian (Prinsep Street) Church being a church member for 54 years and 47 years as a preacher.

Mr. and Mrs. Tan Boon Chin
Tan Boon Chin and Nyonya Song Lak Neo 


Tan Boon Chin passed away on 18 June 1933 at his residence at 59 Cairnhill Road. He is survived by 4 sons ( Tan Teck Heng, Tan Teck Guan, Tan Teck Eam and Tan Teck Seen) and 7 daughters (Mrs. Goh Lye Mong, Mrs. Ee Kiong Cheng, Mrs. Tan Boon Guan, Mrs. Jap Ah Chit, Mrs. Lim Thian Pee, Ms. Lizzie Tan and Ms Grace Tan).

Mrs. Tan Boon Chin nee Song Lak Neo (sister of Sir Song Ong Siang) passed away at her residence at No 313 North Bridge Road on 25th September 1926 at the age of 70 due to heart failure and is survived by her husband, 4 sons, 7 daughters and 24 grandchildren. She is buried in Bidadari Cemetery. The newspapers introduced her as Nyonya Song Lak Neo.

Probate and executor of the estate of the late Mr. Tan Boon Chin went to her 2 daughters, Tan Guat Cheng and Tan Guat Keng.

Silver Wedding of Mr and Mrs Tan Boon Chin
(source: One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore)


Son: Tan Teck Guan
Tan Teck Guan married Miss Teo Watt Neo (daughter of Mr. Teo Choon Hean)

Son: Tan Teck Eam
Tan Teck Eam married Miss Chong Ee Neo (youngest daughter of the late Mr. Chong Ghee Long) in January 1914.

Daughter: Miss Tan Guat Kee alias Miss Kitty Tan nee Mrs Ee Kiong Cheng 
Miss Tan Guat Khee married Mr. Ee Kiong Cheng ( a book-keeper of Messrs. Guthrie & Co. ) on November 1915. Miss Tan Guat Kee was for many years a voluntary organist and Sunday school teacher. The wedding was a blend of modern and tradition. The bride wore red robe of old China, while the groom, western clothing.Ee Kiong Cheng of Messrs Ee Liang & Co. Batu Pahat, age 49 ,passed away at 59 Cairnhill Road on 3rd July 1935. He leaves behind his wife, Madam Tan Guat Kee alias Kitty Tan (2nd daughter of the late Mr and Mrs. Tan Boon Chin), a brother, Mr. Ee Kiong Hock and a brother-in-law, Mr. Wee Leok Boon. Mr. Ee Kiong Cheng was buried in Bidadari.

Daughter: Miss Tan Guat Loke nee Mrs Tan Boon Guan
Tan Boon Guan, J.P.  was the second son of  Mr. Tan Kong Wee (born 1842 in Singapore). Educated in Doveton Protestant College, Madras (with his brother Tan Boon Hong), however the death of their father, necessitate that they return to Singapore. Tan Boon Guan was a cashier at the police court as was the local preacher and superintendent of the Sunday school at Prinsep Street Presbyterian  Church. This was the church of his wife, Madam Tan Guat Loke, who was the organist there. Tan Boon Guan passed away at the age of 64 on 27 March 1936 at his residence in 820 Geylang Road. He is survived by his wife, Madam Tan Guat Loke, his only son, Mr. Charles Tan, Miss Mary Choo (daughter of Mrs. Choo Kim Swee) and his brother, Tan Boon Hong (who retired in 1917 from his position at Messrs. Drew and Napier, a post formerly held by his father). Tan Boon Guan was buried at Bidadari Cemetery. In 1963, the was a article featuring Grandma Tan Guat Loke who celebrated her 77th birthday. A student of Raffles Girls and organist at Prinsep Street Church, she recounts she still wears her nyonya dressing similar to the her younger days. The birthday dinner coincides with the arrival of her eldest granddaughter, Miss Blossom Tan from Perth who just got engaged with Mr. Brian Wan.

Madam Tan Guat Loke celebrating her 77th birthday
(source: NewspaperSG)

Daughter: Miss Tan Guat Tiong nee Mrs Jap Ah Chit
Dr. Jap Ah Chit, M.B, B.S, (Durham), F.R.C.S (Edin), M.R.C.S. (Eng.), L.R.C.P. (Lond) son of Mr. Jap Soey Kiauw. merchant of Banka, Netherland, India married Miss Tan Guat Tiong on April 25, 1914

Daughter: Miss Tan Guat Hay nee Mrs. Lim Thian Poe
Lim Thian Poe (only son of the late Mr and Mrs Lim Siew Yin of Semarang) got married on February 1915 to Miss Tan Guat Hay (5th daughter of Mr and Mrs Tan Boon Chin). Reception was held at 313 North Bridge Road.

Tombstone Epitaph

The Garden of Remembrance at 920 Old Choa Chu Kang Road now plays host to the beautiful marble angel tombstones of Mr. and Mrs, Tan Boon Chin. In short, it is fortunate that this memorial stones were not destroyed when Bidadari Cemetery was redeveloped for public housing as the epitaph for their tomb contain both English and Malay reflecting that Mr. Tan Boon Chin was a preacher fluent in  Malay.

Memorial stones of Mr and Mrs. Tan Boon Chin at Garden of Remembrance 

It is more blessed to give than to receive 

Mari Anak Nyanyi, Tuhan Muliai Amin !
Indahkan Almasih, Tuhan Mulia ! Amin !
Angkat Swapa Murdu, Dungan Ragam Bahru
Isa Raja Tuntu, Tuhan Mulia ! Amin !

Epitaph for Tan Boon Chin 

Never Thinking Death So Near,
A Painful Shock, A Dreadful Blow, 
My Loss is Great, Oh Dearest, I miss you so !
Close are thine sweet eyes from this World of Pain.
I hope in Christ to meet thee again.

"Aku Sudah Bongkarkan, saohku deri sini,
Sertan meninggalkan, negeri fana ini, 
Aku Belayar dengan tuhan, tujuh negri kasuchian"

Erected by her sorrowing husband, Tan Boon Chin

Epitaph for Song Lak Neo
[research on-going]

Chinese Wedding. (1907, September 24). Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, page 3
Untitled. (1914, January 8). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Social and Personal. (1914, April 8). The Straits Times, page 8
A Straits Chinese Wedding. (1915, November 22). The Straits Times, page 10
A veteran retires. (196, May 9). Malayan Tribune, page 9
Untitled.(1926, September 27). The Straits Times, page 8
Chinese Funeral. (1926, September 27). Malayan Tribune, page 6
Prominent Chinese. Death of Tan Boon Chin. (1933, June 19).Malaya Tribune, page 9
Death. (1933, June 19). The Straits Times, page 10
Death. (1935, July 3). The Straits Times, page 2
Death of Straits Chinese Leader. Mr. Tan Boon Guan .(1936, March 28). The Straits Times, page 9
Special cake for Grandma Tan's double-seventh birthday. (1962, February, 6). The Singapore Free Press, page 7
Song, O.S. (1984). One hundred years history of the Chinese in Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press

1 comment:

Johno said...

Tan Choon Hean (Hian)'s family,choon,guan&oref=article,choon,hian&oref=article