Alsagoff Family

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The al-Saggoffs (transliterated elsewhere al-Saqqaf or al-Saqqāf) were spice traders and became influential by marrying into a royal family from the Celebes. They acquired many properties, like the other Arab families, including the "Perseverance Estate" where they grew lemon grass. The estate is now considered to be the heart of the Muslim community in Singapore. As well as being successful merchants and land owners, the family became involved in civic affairs. The family members, at times, held civic office from the 1870s until 1965.

Syed Abdul Rahman Alsagoff (Arabic: سيد عبد الرحمن السقافSaiyid ʿAbd ar-Raḥman al-saqqāf) founder of an Arab Singaporean merchant family of Hadhrami Arabic origin came to Singapore with his son Ahmed and established his firm Alsagoff and Company in 1848. His son Syed Ahmed married Princess Raja Siti, the daughter of Princess Hajjah Fatimah. Hajjah Fatimah was a Malaccan who was married to the Sultan of Gowa Karaeng Chanda Pulih of Bugis royalty but who had maintained a trading post at Singapore. Hajjah Fatimah built the historical Masjid Hajjah Fatimah on Beach Road in Kampong Glam. The Alsagoff family also started the Arabic School in Jalan Sultan in 1912.

A large section of Geylang formally Geylang Serai formed part of the 'Perseverance Estate' which belonged to Syed Ahmed Alsagoff. The Alsagoffs had also served as Singapore Municipal commissioners from 1872 to 1898 and from 1928 to 1933.

Syed Mohamed Bin Ahmed Alsagoff (Arabic: سيد محمد بن أحمد السقافSaiyid Muḥammad bin Aḥmad al-Saqqāf) was the most prominent member of the family. He received two land concessions from Sultan Abu Bakar of Johore. One in Kukup where he could print his own currency and the other in Kampong Nong Chik. He owned a large estate where his nephew, Syed Omar Alsagoff, lived in a palatial bungalow and entertained Europeans lavishly at what is now Kampong Bukit Tunggal near Chancery Lane. He served dinners on gold plated plates, forks and knives. There was also a lake there which was one of the attractions of old Singapore and canoes could be seen afloat in it. After his death his sons developed Bukit Tunggal Estate in the 1920s. The Alsagoffs also had property in Beach Road and elsewhere. Raffles Hotel was owned by the Alsagoffs.

The tomb (the Keramat) of the holy man Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi was built by Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed Alsagoff in about 1890 and is still maintained by the Alsagoff family. The Alsagoff family is still prominent in Singapore.

Jeddah Incident and Lord Jim[edit]

Outside Singapore among the historical events associated with the family was the S.S. Jeddah incident when the captain and crew abandoned the ship S.S. Jeddah with hundreds of religious pilgrims on board due to ship damage. After the captain and crew arrived in Aden the Jeddah was brought in by a second ship which found it and hauled it back saving the passengers. This incident is believed to be the inspiration for the Joseph Conrad novel Lord Jim