Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Graves of Tan Tock Seng, Chua Seah Neo & Wuing Neo


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Tan Tock Seng(陈笃生) was a significant pioneer of Singapore in its early days. Born in Malacca in 1798, he moved to Singapore at the age of 21 in 1819, shortly after the arrival of the British. He began his career by selling fruits, vegetables and poultry and eventually established a shop at Boat Quay. Tan learned English and formed good relationships with European traders, including John Horrocks Whitehead (1810–1846), with whom he entered into a partnership. They jointly speculated in land, which helped Tan become extremely wealthy.

Tan owned large areas of land, including over 20 hectares at the former site of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, as well as another plot of land that spanned from Connaught Drive to Tank Road and up to High Street. Additionally, Tan and his brother, Tan Oo Long, owned a nutmeg plantation. His close connections with the local community made him a natural leader, and his ability to resolve disputes among the Chinese endeared him to the British.

In 1844, Tan contributed $5,000 towards the construction of a Chinese Pauper’s Hospital on top of Pearl’s Hill, recognizing the need for improved healthcare for those less fortunate. The hospital took three years to build but remained empty for two more years due to insufficient funds for equipment and staff. It finally opened its doors to patients in 1849. After relocating twice, the hospital is now situated off Moulmein Road.

Tan Tock Seng passed away in 1850, and his burial place remains unknown. Survived by his wife Lee Seo Neo (1807–1877), Tan's son, Tan Kim Ching (1829 - 1892), acquired the land where the tombs are currently located in 1877 and chose to bury his wife Chua Seah Neo there upon her death in 1882. It is believed that Kim Ching may have exhumed his father's remains and re-interred them at the same Outram Road site next to his wife's tomb.

In 1969, the tombs were threatened with exhumation due to the government's widening of Outram Road for increased traffic. However, appeals from Tan Tock Seng's descendants succeeded in safeguarding the tombs. Unfortunately, the tombs were forgotten until they were rediscovered in 1989. Since then, Tan Tock Seng's descendants have been looking after the tomb, and a significant renovation of the site was carried out in 2009.

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