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Malacca

MALACCA, a town on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, in 2 14' N., 102 1 2' E., which, with the territory lying immediately around and behind it forms one of the Straits Settlements, and gives its name to the Straits which divide Sumatra from the Malay Peninsula. Its name, which is more correctly transliterated mtldka, is that of a species of jungle fruit, and is also borne by the small river on the right bank of which the old Dutch town stands. The Dutch town is connected by a bridge with the business quarter on the left bank, which is inhabited almost exclusively by Chinese, Eurasians and Malays.

Malacca, now a somnolent little town, a favourite resort of rich Chinese who have retired from business, is visited by few ships and is the least important of the three British settlements on the Straits which give their name to the colony. It has, however, a remarkable history. The precise date of its foundation cannot be ascertained, but there is strong reason to believe that this event took place at the earliest in the 14th century. The Roman youth Ludovigo Barthema is believed to have been the first European to visit it, some time before 1503; and in 1509 Diogo Lopez de Siqueira sailed from Portugal for the express purpose of exploiting Malacca. At first he was hospitably received, but disagreements with the natives ensued and word was brought to Siqueira by Magellan, who was one of his company, that a treacherous attack was about to be made upon his ships. Siqueira then sent a native man and woman ashore " with an arrow passed through their skulls " to the sultan, " who was thus informed," says de Barros, " through his subjects that unless he kept a good watch the treason which he had perpetrated would be punished with fire and sword." The sultan retaliated by arresting Ruy de Araujo, the factor, and twenty other men who were ashore with him collecting cargo for the ships. Siqueira immediately burned one of his vessels and sailed direct for Portugal. In 1510 Mendez de Vasconcellos with a fleet of four ships set out from Portugal " to go and conquer Malacca," but d'Alboquerque detained him at Goa, and it was not until 1511 that d'Alboquerque himself found time to visit Malacca and seek to rescue the Portuguese prisoners who all this time had remained in the hands of the sultan. An attack was delivered by d'Alboquerque on the 25th of July 1511, but it was only partially successful, and it was not until the 4th of August, when the assault was repeated, that the place finally fell. Since that time Malacca has continued to be the possession of one or another of the European Powers. It was a Portuguese possession for 130 years, and was the headquarters of their trade and the base of their commercial explorations in south-eastern Asia while they enjoyed, and later while they sought to hold, their monopoly in the East. It was from Malacca, immediately after its conquest, that d'Alboquerque sent d'Abreu on his voyage of discovery to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, which later were the objective of Magellan's voyage of circumnavigation. During the Portuguese tenure of Malacca the place was attacked at least twice by the Achinese; its shipping was harried by Lancaster in 1592, when the first British fleet made its way into these seas; it was besieged by the Dutch in 1606, and finally fell to a joint attack of the Dutch and the Achinese in 1641. It was under the Portuguese government that St Francis Xavier started a mission in Malacca, the first Christian mission in Malayan lands.

The Dutch held Malacca till 1795, when it was taken from them by Great Britain, and the Dutch system of monopoly in the straits was forthwith abolished. The colony was restored to the Dutch, however, in 1818, but six years later it came finally into the hands of Great Britain, being exchanged by a treaty with Holland for the East India Company's settlement of Benkulcn and a few other unimportant places on the western coast of Sumatra. By this treaty the Dutch were precluded from interference in the affairs of the Malay Peninsula, and Great Britain from similar action in regard to the States of Sumatra, with the sole exception of Achin, the right to protect that state being maintained by Great Britain until 1872 when it was finally abandoned by a treaty concluded with Holland in that year. The Dutch took advantage of this immediately to invade Achin, and the strife begun in 1873 still continues and is now a mere war of extermination. It was not until 1833 that the whole territory lying at the back of Malacca was finally brought under British control, and as late as 1887 the Negri Sembilan, or Nine States, which adjoin Malacca territory on the east and north-east, were completely independent. They to-day form part of the Federated Malay States, which are under the protection of Great Britain, and are governed with the assistance and by the advice of British officers.

Malacca, in common with the rest of the Straits Settlements, was administered by the government of India until 1867, when it became a crown colony under the control of the Colonial Office. It is to-day administered by a resident councillor, who is responsible to the governor of the Straits Settlements, and by a number of district officers and other officials under his direction. The population of the town and territory of Malacca in 1901 was 94,487, of whom 74 were Europeans and Americans, 1598 were Eurasians, the rest being Asiatics (chiefly Malays with a considerable sprinkling of Chinese). The population in 1891 was 92,170, and the estimated population for 1905 was 97,000. The birth-rate is about 35 per thousand, and the death-rate about 29 per thousand. The trade of this once flourishing port has declined, most of the vessels being merely coasting craft, and no large line of steamers holding any communication with the place. This is due partly to the shallowness of the harbour, and partly to the fact that the ports of Penang and Singapore, at either entrance to the straits, draw all the trade and shipping to themselves. The total area of the settlement is about 700 sq. m. The colony is wholly agricultural, and the land is almost entirely in the hands of the natives. About 50,000 acres are under tapioca, and about 9000 acres are under rubber (hevea). This cultivation is rapidly extending. There are still considerable areas unoccupied which are suitable for rubber and for coco-nuts. The settlement is well opened up by roads; and a railway, which is part of the Federated Malay States railway system, has been constructed from the town of Malacca to Tampin in the Negri Sembilan. There is a good rest-house at Malacca and a comfortable seaside bungalow at Tanjong Kling, seven miles from the town. Malacca is 1 18 m. by sea from Singapore and 50 m. by rail from Seremban, the capital of the Negri Sembilan. There is excellent snipe-shooting to be had in the vicinity of Malacca.

See The Commentaries of d'Alboguerque (Hakluyt Society) ; The Voyages and Adventures of Fernand Mendez Pinto (London, 1653); An Account of the East Indies, by Captain Alexander Hamilton (Edinburgh, 1727); Valentyn's History of Malacca, translated by Dudley Hervey; Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society; " Our Tropical Possessions in Malayan India," by the same author, ibid. ; Further India, by Hugh Clifford (London, 1904) ; British Malaya, by Sir Frank Swettenham (London, 1906).

(H. CL.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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