Artefact of the Month - July 2012
Memoir of the life and public services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, F.R.S. &c. particularly in the government of Java, 1811-1816, and of Bencoolen and its dependencies, 1817-1824, with details of the commerce and resources of the Eastern Archipelago, and selections from his correspondence / by his widow. Published in London, 1830.
July is the anniversary month of both the birth and death of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, founder of ZSL. This month’s artefact is the Memoir written after his death by his wife, Lady Sophia Raffles.
Sophia Hull was born in Millman Street, London, on the 5th May 1786. She met Raffles in Cheltenham in August 1816 and they were married in February 1817.
Sophia accompanied Raffles on his voyage to Sumatra. Her first child was actually born on board the ship during the journey; curiously, Raffles himself had been born at sea. Sophia spent seven years in the East with Raffles, intrepidly travelling with him on many dangerous treks.
In the ‘Memoir’ Sophia uses his letters and her recollections to illustrate her husband’s achievements in the East, including founding Singapore. She also records the many tragedies that hit the couple: the death of four of her five young children, the illnesses and deaths of their friends and colleagues, and the terrible loss of all their possessions and Sir Stamford’s papers and specimen collection in a fire on board ship, just as they were about to depart for England.
The couple had a few happy years at home in England, but after only nine years of marriage Raffles died, shortly after founding the Zoological Society in 1826.
Lady Raffles wrote this book in memory of her husband and his achievements and had it printed at her own expense. She also paid a substantial amount of money for the life-sized statue of Raffles in Westminster Abbey. She also edited and published a second edition of the 'History of Java' by Raffles, and brought out a second revised edition of the 'Memoir' in 1835.
Lady Raffles died on 12 December 1858.
The 'Memoir', 'History of Java' and the biography 'Lady Raffles: by effort and virtue' by John Bastin, may be consulted in the ZSL Library. Please make an appointment to see them in advance.