Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles was born onboard a ship off the coast of Jamaica on 6 July 1781. He began working for the East India Company at the age of 14 and in 1805 was posted to Penang. Raffles’ knowledge of the Malay language made him invaluable and was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Java from 1811-1816.
Raffles was fascinated by both the natural and cultural history of Java and in 1817 he published The history of Java. Also in 1817, he was knighted by the Prince Regent. In 1819 Raffles founded modern Singapore after identifying its potential as a strategic trading post between Western and Eastern markets.
Raffles’ interest in natural history led to his founding of the Zoological Society of London(ZSL) in 1826 and he was elected the first President of the Society. Sadly Raffles did not have the opportunity to see the Society develop as he died unexpectedly on 5 July 1826, the day before his 45th birthday.
As Raffles died so soon after founding ZSL, there is very little material relating to him in the ZSL Archives. The only letter written by Raffles that is held in the ZSL Archives is to Sir Everard Home, 1st Baronet. Home, was a surgeon and lecturer who published many papers on both human and animal anatomy. In 1808 he was appointed surgeon to King George III.
The original letter is reproduced below and a transcription of the letter can be read here Letter from Raffles to Home (154.5 KB) If you can identify any of the words we have not been able to transcribe, please email email@example.com This Artefact and transcription was written by Ruth Jones.
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.