Alsagoff Family

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The Al-Saggoff Family (Arabic: السقاف ; transliterated elsewhere al-Saqqaf or al-Saqqāf) were Arab Singaporean spice traders of Hadhrami Arabic origin who became influential by marrying into a royal family from the Celebes (now Sulawesi, Indonesia). 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, with the Alsagoff family still retaining its prominence 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 Singaporean independence in 1965.


Syed Abdul Rahman Alsagoff[edit]

Syed Abdul Rahman (Arabic: سيد عبد الرحمن السقاف‎‎ Saiyid ʿAbd ar-Raḥman al-saqqāf) was the founder of the merchant family came to Singapore with his son Ahmad and established his firm Alsagoff and Company in 1848. His son Syed Ahmed married Princess Raja Siti, the daughter of Princess Hajjah Fatimah, 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 namesake mosque 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 Ahmad Alsagoff. The Alsagoffs had also served as Singapore Municipal commissioners from 1872 to 1898 and from 1928 to 1933.

Syed Mohammad bin Syed Ahmed Alsagoff[edit]

Syed Mohammad (Arabic: سيد محمد بن أحمد السقاف‎‎ Saiyid Muḥammad bin Aḥmad al-Saqqāf) was the most prominent member of the family. He received two land concessions from Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor; one in Kukup where he could print his own currency and the other in Kampong Nong Chik.

He was also involved in Singapore's civil service undertaking several diplomatic posts. The first post he held was the Ottoman consul,[1][2] where the Osmanieh Order inducted him into their ranks after he became consul.[3] Syed Mohamed was also asked to conduct diplomacy on behalf of the Sultanate of Aceh during its conflict with the Dutch.[4]

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 the Bukit Tunggal Estate in the 1920s. The Alsagoffs had additional property in Beach Road and also the former owners of the Raffles Hotel. The tomb (or Keramat) of the holy man Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi built by Syed Mohamed in about 1890 is still maintained by the Alsagoff family.

Other members[edit]

The Kingdom of Iraq's Honorary Consul was Syed Ibrahim bin Syed Omar Alsagoff.[5] The government of Saudi Arabia later tapped him as their ambassador,[6] becoming the Consul-General[7] and later the Honorary Consul forTurkey and Tunisia.[8]

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.


  1. ^ Azziaty Rozali, Ermy (2012). "Sayid Muhammad Al-Sagoff In Johore- Ottoman Sovereign Relations" (PDF). Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences. 6 (6): 893, 895. ISSN 1995-0772. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Arndt Graf; Susanne Schroter; Edwin Wieringa (2010). Aceh: History, Politics and Culture. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-981-4279-12-3. (PDF version). 
  3. ^ Ulrike Freitag; William G. Clarence-Smith (1997). Hadhrami Traders, Scholars and Statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s to 1960s. BRILL. pp. 190–. ISBN 90-04-10771-1. 
  4. ^ Arndt Graf; Susanne Schroter; Edwin Wieringa (2010). Aceh: History, Politics and Culture. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 35–. ISBN 978-981-4279-12-3. 
  5. ^ "ALSAGOFF TO BE CONSUL". The Straits Times. 22 November 1950. p. 9. 
  6. ^ "Portrait of Mr. Syed Ibrahim Omar Alsagoff, Consul- General of Saudi Arabia to Singapore". eResources - National Library Board Singapore. 
  7. ^ Leif O. Manger (2010). The Hadrami Diaspora: Community-building on the Indian Ocean Rim. Berghahn Books. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-1-84545-742-6. 
  8. ^ "Dato Syed Ibrahim bin Omar Alsagoff". eResources - National Library Board Singapore. Singapore Infopedia. 2009.