Jose d'Almeida

Singapore Infopedia


Jose d’Almeida Carvalho E. Silva (Dr) (b. 27 November 1784, St Pedro do Sul, Portugal–d. 17 October 1850, Singapore)1 was a former Portuguese naval surgeon who came to Singapore to set up a dispensary, and later became one of Singapore’s leading merchants.2

Arrival in Singapore
Jose d’Almeida was one of the earliest European settlers in Singapore, and one of the few landowners in Singapore as reported in 1850.3 Working as a doctor on board a Portuguese warship on his way to Macau, d’Almeida was attracted by Singapore’s strategic location. He did not settle here immediately, but decided to purchase a piece of land in this new colony that the British had just founded. Before d’Almeida left the island, he entrusted a sum of money to F. J. Bernard (the son-in-law of Colonel William Farquhar), and directed Bernard to secure a piece of land and build a house for him. Bernard acquired a piece of land in Kampong Glam, and built a house for d’Almeida at Lot 207 on Beach Road. Bernard and his family occupied the house until December 1825, when d’Almeida and his family arrived from Macau to settle in Singapore. The house was later rented by Raffles Girls’ School in 1878, and was later purchased by the King of Siam.4

Jose d’Almeida & Sons
On arriving in Singapore in 1825, Jose d’Almeida set up a dispensary at Commercial Square (now Raffles Place). Not long after his arrival here, d’Almeida had the opportunity to assist two mercantile ships that were stranded unexpectedly on the island due to the weather, and were forced to sell a large part of their cargoes to meet their expenses. D’Almeida became their agent and was successful in helping them to sell their cargoes. He went on to set up a trading firm, Jose d’Almeida & Co., in 18255 which was renamed Jose d'Almeida & Son when his son, Joaquim, joined the company. A few years later in 1837, the firm was renamed Jose d’Almeida & Sons, when Joaquim’s younger brother, Jose, started work at the firm.6 By the time of Jose d’Almeida's death in 1850, the company had grown to become one of the largest and most respected firms in the settlement.7 The firm continued until 1865, when an economic recession brought disaster to many firms, including Jose d’ Almeida & Sons, which went bankrupt.8

Experiments in agriculture and horticulture
Jose d’Almeida was very keen on agriculture and was one of the pioneer planters in Singapore. He experimented with sugar, coffee and coconut cultivation and also introduced cotton, vanilla and gamboge here. He had a cotton plantation at Tanjong Katong, where he tried planting cotton seeds from North America, Brazil, Egypt and other regions. He also introduced different varieties of trees and fruits to Singapore, such as the Pisang d'Almeida, and brought in teal and quail from India.9 However, most of his enterprises were unsuccessful.10

D’Almeida was one of the founding members of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society when it was established in 1836.11 Together with another early resident of Singapore, Dr William Montgomerie, who was a surgeon in the East India Company’s service, they were credited with “discovering” gutta percha, a forerunner of rubber, which they introduced to the Western world around 1842.12

Social life
D’Almeida was known to be a sociable and hospitable person. In his day, his house at Beach Road – where he frequently threw large parties – was regarded as the centre of social life in Singapore. The family were also accomplished musicians. On many evenings, they formed an orchestra with other musicians and delighted their guests with their musical performances.13

In 1842, Jose d’Almeida visited Europe, where he was knighted by the Queen of Portugal and appointed Consul General to the Straits Settlements.14 He was also knighted by the King of Spain. Shortly before his death, he was made a member of the Queen’s Council in Portugal.15 A road in Raffles Place was named after him.16

Jose d’Almeida died in Singapore on 17 October 1850. He was buried in the cemetery at Fort Canning Hill.17 It was reported that on the day of the funeral, the Governor was one of the pallbearers, and almost every merchant in the town attended the funeral.18

Jose d’Almeida married more than once and had 19 or 20 children.19 Some of them are listed below. A few of his children stayed in Singapore, while others returned to Macau and Germany.20

Wife: Rosalia, d’Almeida’s first wife, whom he met and married in Macau in 1810.21

Joaquim d’Almeida (b. year unknown, Macau–d. 1870, London), eldest, married Rosa Maria, the youngest daughter of Captain W. Barrington, in Calcutta, India on 5 February 1838.22 Joaquim continued his father’s trade in Singapore and continued the appointment as the Portuguese Consul General to the Straits Settlements after his father’s death. He was one of the community leaders who advocated the transfer of the Straits Settlements from the Government of India to the Colonial Office.23 He also helped in the construction of St Joseph’s Church by promoting public subscriptions. He married a second time, to Isidoro Cotter, daughter of Guilherme Cotter and Isidora de Arnaiz e Cotter. He also had a son (born on 11 October 1875) with a Chinese woman.

Antonio d’Almeida married Carlota de Sta. Rita Cardoso, daughter of Jose de Sta. Rita and Anna Maria Place, and had six children.24

William d’Almeida (b.1830, Singapore–d. 6 July 1917, Singapore)25 had three children with a Malay woman. He was buried in the Portuguese Section of the Bidadari cemetery.26

Edwardo d'Almeida27

Jose d’Almeida (b. 19 July 1812, Macau–d. 13 January 1894, Singapore), the youngest son, married twice, first to Maria Isabel, and after her death, to Augusta Grylls, the daughter of a Protestant minister, in Sydney, Australia, on 28 September 1845.28 He lived in Singapore at Mount Victoria, and the road at the foot of the hill was named Almeida Road after him.29

Marianne d’Almeida, eldest, married Thomas Owen Crane, agent for the properties of the Portuguese Mission.30

Isabel d’Almeida married Francisco Evaristo Pereira, a lawyer and legal practitioner in early Singapore.31

Eva d’Almeida married Crombie Glass, partner of the firm Guthrie & Co. in 1870.32

Eva d’Almeida (a different daughter, also named Eva) married A. P. Talbot, the Assistant Colonial Secretary.33

Carlotta d’Almeida (b. 1819, Macau–d. 11 September 1901, Singapore) married Maximiliano Miranda, a resident in Singapore.34

Maria d’Almeida (b. 1821–d. 28 August 1851, Singapore) married Clement Fabiano Demee.35

Cecilia d’Almeida (b.1832–d. 13 March 1852).36

Anne d’Almeida married Alexander Grand Pre, Deputy Superintendent of Hong Kong police.37

Delfina d’Almeida married Lourenco de Souza Place.38

Julia d’Almeida (b. year unknown–d. 13 March 1852).39


Ong Eng Chuan

1. Manuel Teixeira, The Portuguese Missions in Malacca and Singapore (1511–1958), vol. 3 (Lisbon: Agencia Geral do Ultrama, 1963), 29 (Call no. RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); “The Late Sir Joze d’Almeida,” Straits Times, 22 October 1850, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Late Sir Joze d’Almeida”; “Memoranda Medica,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 29 August 1933, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Untitled,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 25 October 1850, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “Untitled”; Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 70, 139, 184. (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
5. “Memoranda Medica”; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 184.
6. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 187.
7. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 184.
8. “In the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors in Singapore,” Straits Times, 28 November 1865, 2 (From NewspaperSG); C. M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore, 1819–1988 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989), 43. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
9. Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E. Brooke and Roland St. J. Braddell, One Hundred Years of Singapore, vol. 2 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991), 68, 446 (Call no. RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS]); “Late Sir Joze d’Almeida”; “On the Margin,” Straits Times, 30 June 1950, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “Untitled.”
11. Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, eds., One Hundred Years of Singapore, 70.
12. “The Discovery of Gutta Percha in Singapore,” Straits Times, 10 March 1884, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 184–85.
14. “Lord Ellenborough’s Corrected Speech,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 29 August 1844, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 186.
15. “Untitled”; “Late Sir Joze d’Almeida”; “Memoranda Medica.”
16. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 99. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
17. “Late Sir Joze d’Almeida”; “Memoranda Medica.”
18. “Untitled.”
19. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 34.
20. Myrna Braga-Blake and Ann Ebert-Oehlers, Singapore Eurasians: Memories and Hopes (Singapore: Times Editions, 1992), 28 (Call no. RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Makepeace, Brooke and Braddell, eds., One Hundred Years of Singapore, 447.
21. “Late Sir Joze d’Almeida”; Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 39.
22. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 35.
23. Turnbull, History of Singapore, 1819–1988, 69.
24. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 37, 289–91.
25. “Untitled,” Straits Times, 7 July 1917. (From NewspaperSG)
26. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 36, 293–94.
27. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 37, 296.
28. “An Octogenarian in Singapore,” Daily Advertiser, 20 July 1892, 3; “Death of Mr Jose d’Almeida,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 15 January 1894, 3 (From NewspaperSG); Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 35–36, 296.
29. Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 188.
30. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 37, 297.
31. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 227, 299.
32. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 37, 299.
33. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 36, 299; “Mr Talbot,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 4 June 1897, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
34. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 36, 300; Buckley, Anecdotal History of Old Times, 186.
35. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 288, 304.
36. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 305.
37. “Married,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1835–1869), 14 February 1856, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
38. “Marriages,” Straits Times Overland Journal, 13 July 1878, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
39. Teixeira, Portuguese Missions, 288.

Further resources
F. Bata, A Portuguese in Singapore: Dr. Jose D’ Almeida 1825–1850 (Macau: Imprensa Nacional, 1984). (Call no. RCLOS 959.57 BAT)

D’Almeida Family (n.p., [19--]). (Call no. RDLKL 338.0409595 DAL)

In the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors in Singapore,” Straits Times, 28 November 1865, 2 (From NewspaperSG)

Jose D'Almeida Carvalho E Silva and His Descendants (n.p., [198-]). (Call no. RDLKL 338.04095957 JOS)

The information in this article is valid as at May 2019 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.


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