TAN TOCK SENG Biography - Craftmen, artisans and people from other Occupations


Biography » craftmen artisans and people from other occupations » tan tock seng


Name: Tan Tock Seng                                                               
Born: 1798                                                                         
Died: 1850                                                                         
Tan Tock Seng (1798-1850) was a Singaporean merchant and philanthropist. Born in   
Malacca to an immigrant Fukien (Hokkien) father and Hokkien Peranakan mother,     
Tan rose from humble origins. In 1819, Tan moved to Singapore to sell fruit,       
vegetable and fowl. He worked diligently and was able to set up a shop in Boat     
Quay and became a notable businessman.                                             
Tan also owned large tracts of prime land, including 50 acres (200,000 mē) at     
the site of the railway station and another plot stretching from the Padang       
right up to High Street and Tank Road. His other assets were a block of           
shophouses, an orchard and a nutmeg plantation which he co-owned with his         
brother. In time, he became an influential Chinese leader and was the first       
Asian to be made a Justice of the Peace by the Governor. He was skillful at       
settling feuds among the Chinese. In 1844, he contributed $5,000 to the           
construction of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital on top of Pearl's Hill. The hospital   
was later shifted to Tan Tock Seng Road because the building at Pearl's Hill was   
too small to cater to enough patients and it was too old. Tan also contributed     
money to the construction of the Taoist Thian Hock Keng Temple at Telok Ayer in   
1842, the place of worship for the settlers from the Fujian province of China.     
Tan Tock Seng died in 1850 after catching an unknown disease. He left his wife     
Lee Seo Neo, who owned a large coconut estate in Geylang. Like him, she was       
unstinting in her support of the hospital and paid for a female ward. He also     
left behind three daughters, who were each bequeathed $36,000 in cash. His three   
sons, inherited his land parcels and the eldest, Tan Kim Ching, took over the     
duty of taking care of the hospital. Tan's grandson, Tan Chay Yan, was a well-known
philanthropist and merchant in Malaya.