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Prisoners Their Own Warders A Record of the Convict Prison at Singapore in the Straits Settlements Established 1825   By:

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PRISONERS THEIR OWN WARDERS

[Illustration: Frontispiece

GENERAL MONTHLY MUSTER OF THE CONVICTS, SINGAPORE JAIL.]

PRISONERS THEIR OWN WARDERS

A RECORD OF THE CONVICT PRISON AT SINGAPORE IN THE STRAITS SETTLEMENTS ESTABLISHED 1825, DISCONTINUED 1873, TOGETHER WITH A CURSORY HISTORY OF THE CONVICT ESTABLISHMENTS AT BENCOOLEN, PENANG AND MALACCA FROM THE YEAR 1797

BY MAJOR J. R A. McNAIR

Late Royal Artillery, C.M.G., A.M.I.C.E., F.L.S., and F.R.G.S Late Colonial Engineer and Surveyor General and Comptroller of Indian Convicts Straits Settlements from 1857 to 1877 Author of "Perak and the Malays" (Sarong and Kris)

ASSISTED BY W. D. BAYLISS

Mem. Soc. Engineers Lond., Late Superintendent of Works and Surveys and Superintendent of Convicts, Singapore

WITH MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS

"A willing bondman." SHAKESPEARE ( Julius Caesar , Act I., Sc. 3)

WESTMINSTER ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE AND CO 2 WHITEHALL GARDENS 1899

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BUTLER & TANNER, THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS, FROME, AND LONDON.

[Illustration: DUFFADAR ARJOON, SENIOR PETTY OFFICER OF ARTIFICERS.

McNair. ]

Preface

Some explanation appears to be due from us for writing this account of the Singapore Convict Jail so long after the date of its final abolition.

The truth is, that for several years it has been our opinion that it ought to be written by some one, and the same suggestion had often been made to one of us by the late Doctor Mouat, Inspector General of Jails, Bengal, and others who were well acquainted with its administration.

An opportunity lately occurred to bring us into communication on the subject, and when we came to compare the voluminous notes that each of us had collected during the time that the jail was in full vigour, we arrived at the conclusion that there was abundant material for a work upon it. It also appeared to us that there were some exceptional features in the training and discipline of these native convicts, that might even at this day prove of service to other Superintendents of native jails in different parts of India and the Colonies; while, at the same time, such a work would not be devoid of some interest to those who make a study of the punishment and reformation of the criminal class of all countries, a subject in regard to which, in spite of the great progress we have made, the last word has certainly not yet been said.

This, then, is our apology for the attempt we have made, and we trust that our joint labours may be received with indulgence.

When this old Singapore jail was put an end to in 1873, some six years after the transfer of the Straits Settlements to the Crown, the convicts then under confinement were removed to the Andaman Islands, at that time not long established as a penal settlement for India; while those on a ticket of leave were permitted to merge into the population, continuing to earn their livelihood as artizans, cow keepers, cart drivers, and the like. Those who were old and infirm were retained at Singapore at the expense of the Indian Government, and a certain number of convicts from Hongkong were returned to that colony to complete their sentences. There remained, therefore, only the local prisoners to be dealt with, and for these, under the subsequent orders of the Colonial Government, was planned and constructed by our Department, and under our supervision, a spacious prison on the cellular system, and situated on a more healthy site than the old convict jail, which had become surrounded by the buildings of the town.

We should much like to have given a consecutive history of this old jail from the date of its first construction until it was finally abolished, but unfortunately the jail registers have not been carefully kept from the beginning, or are not forthcoming; but we have had access to some old scattered letters and papers, and to statistics from the year 1844, since which time the records have been regularly kept from year to year... Continue reading book >>




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