William Farquhar (1770 -1839) is known with Stamford Raffles to have been instrumental in the founding of the colonial settlement at Singapore. When Stamford Raffles left the colony, William Farquhar became for four years first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore (1819-1823). He retired to Perth where he died 11 May 1839.
Born near Aberdeen, Farquhar joined, in 1790, the East India Company as a cadet (in the Madras Engineers) at the age of twenty. On 19 June 1791 he reached Madras and three days later became a commissioned officer, albeit of low rank. By 16 August 1793, William Farquhar achieved promotion to Lieutenant of the Madras Engineers. From Lieutenant, William Farquhar rose to Captain and then to Major on 26 September 1811.Working as an engineer for the East India Company he rose through its ranks and in December 1813 was appointed Resident of Malacca – known locally as the Rajah of Malacca. This was after being part of the force that seized control of Malacca away from the Dutch (18 August 1795). His role as resident was effectively that of Civil and Military leadership on the colony. Whilst in Malacca, William Farquhar married a local girl (Nonio Clement) who gave him six children.
William Farquhar also took a role in further British imperialist ventures such as the invasion of Java in August 1811. This latter adventure was led by Governor-General Lord Minto and Sir Stamford Raffles. A post he held until the Dutch successfully took back Malacca in September 1818.
Buried in Greyfriars’ cemetery; his tombstone is located behind the wee house on the way in from Canal Street. On it is found the inscription, “who served … and afterwards at Singapore which later settlement he founded.”