Ernest Chew has graciously shared this essay, which first appeared in Raffles Town Club, vol. 8 (July-Sept 2002), with readers of the Postcolonial Web. It appears with his permission and that of the Raffles Town Club, which retains the copyright.
Strictly speaking, Crawfurd cannot be considered a founder or co-founder of the colonial settlement. It was Raffles and Farquhar who laid the foundations in January-February 1819, and could at least lay claim to this distinction, as reflected in the inscription on the base of Raffles' statue in Westminster Abbey, London, and that on Farquhar's grave in Perth, Scotland.
Yet, again strictly speaking, it was Crawfurd who actually signed the final treaty which brought Singapore under British sovereignty, and deserves to be remembered and commemorated for this achievement. Sadly, he is the least remembered of the three, though there are a few traces in Singapore.
There is a good portrait of Crawfurd in the Singapore History Museum, reproduced in this article. There is also a little known memorial in a stained glass window in St.Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore. The centrepiece is dedicated to Raffles, and the other one to Governor William Butterworth (not William Farquhar!). The memorial to Crawfurd reads:
TO THE HONOR & GLORY OF GOD & AS A TESTIMONIAL TO JOHN CRAWFURD ESQ GOVERNOR OF SINGAPORE FROM 1823 TO 1826 WHOSE SOUND PRINCIPLES OF ADMINISTRATION DURING THE INFANCY OF THIS SETTLEMENT FORMED A BASIS FOR THAT UNINTERRUPTED PROSPERITY WHICH THE COLONY THUS GRATEFULLY RECORDS.
(It should be noted that Crawfurd was not Governor, but Resident of Singapore!). Finally, there is a "Crawford Street" which may have been named after him, the doubt arising from the different spelling of the name.
Beyond Singapore, Crawfurd is remembered in the world of scholarship for his works on the region, based on his diplomatic missions and personal researches. Like Raffles, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society. In addition, he was also elected Fellow of the Linnean Society and Fellow of the Geographical Society, reflecting his wide interests in both the humanities and the sciences. In many respects, Dr John Crawfurd is a worthy model for later scholar-administrators of Singapore.
Bastin, John. "Malayan Portraits: John Crawfurd", in Malaya, vol.3 (December 1954), pp.697-698.
Chew, Ernest C.T."The Foundation of a British Settlement", in Chew, Ernest C.T. and Edwin Lee, eds. A History of Singapore. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991, ch.3.
Crawfurd, John. Journal of an Embassy from the Governor General of India to the Courts of Siam and Cochin China London  Kuala Lumpur: OUP, 1966.
Crawfurd, John. A Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands & Adjacent Countries.  Kuala Lumpur: OUP, 1971.
Hill, A.H., trans.The Hikayat Abdullah. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford UP,1970.
Marks, Harry. The First Contest for Singapore: 1819-1824. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1959.
Tregonning, K.G. The British in Malaya: The First 40 Years 1786-1826. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1965, chapter 10.
Turnbull, C.M. A History of Singapore 1819-1988. 2nd ed. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988, ch.1.
Wurtzburg, Charles Edward. Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984, ch.21-31.
Last modified: 12 October 2002