Friday, June 25, 2010

My Great Grandfather

I was visiting my maternal grandmother one day when I discovered an old photo album on her table.  My uncle (who lives with her) explained that his cousin had come by with her family album - full of old photos of her parents and other family members.  Amongst the photos, was this one of my maternal grandfather's father - my great grandfather - and his second wife.  

According to my grandfather, in his interview by the Oral History department (two sessions in Jan 1980), his father was born somewhere near or in Liverpool. He came to Singapore for better opportunities in 1893 or thereabouts, and worked as a draftsman either in an architectural firm or an engineering firm (Riley Hargreaves).

He subsequently left and ran his own company as an estate agent. My grandfather recalls visiting him in his office at 3A Finlayson Green:

"I had sometimes come down with him from Katong, possibly at the age of 11 or 12, I think, and I was always in his office playing with the Empire typewriter, and getting in the way of the clerks...

... He had a Chief Clerk, another Assistant Clerk, a peon, a man named Wahab...

He was estate agent to 17 London rubber companies and supplied them with -from rice to rubber cups, rubber tapping knives, and what else there is to it, I don't know really."

My great grandfather married a local girl, and had a son, my grandfather (born in 1906).  They adopted another daughter.  My great grandmother died a few years later, and my great grandfather married again.  He had 3 more children - one boy, two girls.  His second son died young.  But my grandfather, his adopted sister and his two half sisters lived to a ripe old age.

Afternote: I googled my great grandfather's name and found that:
He is recorded in the 1881 Census of Britain as living in Liverpool.  Aged 15 years at the time, he was the oldest son in a family of 3 boys and 2 girls.  Hence if he came to Singapore in 1893, he would have been around 27 years.  By the time of my grandfather's birth, he would have been 40 years old. 

I found him also on the list of registered jurors in Singapore, in 1904.  He was listed as working for the Shrager Brothers.  Further checks turned up a 1902 newspaper advertisement in the Straits Times indicating that the Shrager brothers operated a fire-clay and pottery works business.

Amazing, all you can learn about your family without leaving the room!


  1. Thanks for sharing your fascinating lineage. You're blog is wonderful. I'm investigating my Dutch & Portuguese ancestry in Singapore at the moment. I've found out I need a lot of patience but the passion for my family tree keeps me going. My late mother's side of the family hail from Katong & although I spent a small part of my childhood there I feel took a lot of things for granted. Catching up now. keep up the good work!

  2. Dear Jean,
    Thanks for generous comments. Look forward to reading your story one day!



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