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including the former British North Borneo.

Also see the Fibiwiki pages Straits Settlements and Malacca and Penang (Prince of Wales Island).


  • See General Register Office, UK. Also includes information about records such as British Consular Returns, including online sources. Includes details of a findmypast database "British Armed Forces and Overseas Births and Baptisms". Note that within this database is a group of records "Sarawak Baptisms, 1844-1925" which are transcriptions provided by UK Genealogy Archives. There is however no further information about the source of these records.
  • National Registration Department, Ministry of Home Affairs [Malaysia] is responsible for birth , marriage and death registration. The page Corporate Information/History advises “Birth and death records kept by the National Registration Department since nearly 150 years ago continue to be preserved to this day.” The email address appears to be [email protected]
There has been some registration since 1859[1]. Marriage registration has been in place in Malaysia since the late 1800s[2].
It seems likely that records may be divided according to the current states and federal terrorities, so you would probably need to know geographical location.
  • Birth, marriage and death notices may have been published in Singapore newspapers. See Singapore - Newspapers for details of free online Singapore newspapers.
  • Birth, marriage and death notices may have been published in other publications, such as The Directory & Chronicle for China etc or The London and China Telegraph, refer Historical books online below.
  • BACSA have published the following books:
    • Ipoh and Taiping: War Graves and Graves of Europeans in the Cemeteries in Ipoh and Taiping, Perak, Malaysia by Justin Corfield, 2000. 108pp, 27 illustrations and plan
    • Kota Bharu (Malaysia): European Graves in the Jalan Hamzah Cemetery by Justin Corfield, 1999. 24pp, 23 illustrations and plan
    • Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): St Mary's Cathedral and the Jalan Birch Cemetery by Justin Corfield, 2000. 24pp, 5 illustrations
    • Seremban, Malaysia: Graves in St Mark's Churchyard, and the Anglican Section of the Seremban Cemetery by E Beavington and Justin Corfield, 2000. 56pp, 11 illustrations
    • Teluk Anson (Malaysia): European Graves in the Jalan Anderson Cemetery by Justin Corfield, 2000. 20pp, 14 illustrations and plan
Some cemetery books are still available, see BACSA Books and select Cemetery Record Books.
BACSA have put indexes to the majority of their cemetery books online and these indexes are free to browse. If an indexed name is of interest then application can be made to BACSA for details of the relevant burial inscription - charges apply for this service.
  • British & Indian Armies in the East Indies (1685-1935) by Alan Harfield 1984 is available at the British Library. History of British and Indian Armies in Sumatra, Java, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore from 1685-1935. Includes names of officers and men buried in these areas. Also includes name lists of persons in some military units which served in these areas.
  • See Malacca and Dutch for records for researching those with Dutch ancestry.
  • Civil Service Lists are very useful if you are researching a government employee, but some may only contain more senior employees.
Some Colonial Office Lists are available online, refer Historical books online below.
Details of Government of Malaya Lists are set out in Government Lists page 30 Bibliography of Malaya ( Books to Borrow/Lending Library). The best collection of these Lists available in the UK appears to be at Cambridge University Library which holds, according to its catalogue,
  • Straits Settlements Civil Service List 1883-1884, 1888, 1890, 1893, 1896-1917, 1920-1921
  • Federated Malay States Civil Service List 1904-1905, 1908-1916, 1918-1919
  • The Malayan Civil List 1921-1940
The British Library also holds some editions, as does SOAS Library, University of London.
  • There are Colonial Office files at the National Archives Kew relating to British Malaya. There is a finding aid, a published book (in thirteen volumes) Index to British Colonial Office files pertaining to British Malaya : 1838-1955 compiled by Paul H Kratoska 1990, available at the British Library UIN: BLL01006673270 (English language edition) (12 v. in 13).

Military Operations

Civil Service

For an account of the varied duties of a Civil Servant from the 1920s, see The Memoirs of a Malayan Official by Victor Purcell, 1965. Available online, refer Historical books online, below.

External links

Singapore And Malaya Volunteer Corps Medals 10 March 2013 from “Singapore Volunteer Corps, Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, Malaya Volunteer Forces”
Malayan Volunteers Group Includes categories such as History, Stories, Malayan Volunteer Air Force, Evacuees, Armoured Cars, Sumatra etc.
"Nand Singh and Jangnamah Europe: Subaltern insights on the wars of Empire" by Raman Singh Chhina. Havildar Nand Singh was a Sergeant in the Malay State Guides and also an Indian poet who wrote using a genre of Punjabi historical poetic writing. He composed the Janganamah Europe giving an empirical account of the First World War. On September 26 1915 the regiment left Taiping to join the Aden Field Force.
See Historical books online, below.
  • “Obsession, isolation and the colonies” July 16, 2012 Retrieved 30 August 2014
  • States and federal territories of Malaysia Wikipedia
    • Kedah Alternative name Quedah, it was visited by trading ships in the time of the East India Company. “In the hope that Great Britain would protect what remained of Kedah from Siam, the sultan handed over Penang and then Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai) to the British at the end of the 18th century. The Siamese nevertheless conquered Kedah in 1811, and it remained under Siamese control until transferred to the British by the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909”.
    • Perak was visited by trading ships in the time of the East India Company. There was a British Resident from 1874. The capital is Ipoh.
    • Terengganu Wikipedia. Alternative name Tringaney. Terengganu's location by the South China Sea ensured that it was on trade routes from ancient times , and it was visited by trading ships in the time of the East India Company. The terms of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 saw power over Terengganu transferred from Siam to Great Britain. A British advisor was appointed to the sultan in 1919, and Terengganu become one of the Unfederated Malay States.
  • St. Mary's Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur, an Anglican Church consecrated 1895. Photograph by DBHKer 2008. Originally called Church of St Mary the Virgin. History: The Anglican Church of St. Mary the virgin, now an archived webpage.
  • "The Presbyterian Church in Malaysia" by John Roxborogh, from Christianity in Malaysia. A Denominational History, edited by Robert Hunt, Lee Kam Hing and John Roxborogh, Petaling Jaya, Pelanduk, 1992, pages 75-106.
Rich built heritage of 100-year-old St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Kuala Lumpur Includes photographs. St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Kuala Lumpur. St Andrew's was historically known as the ‘Planters Church’ or the ‘Scottish Kirk’ as the planters of Selangor were mostly of Scottish stock. Includes a photograph
"Planters, Estate Health & Malaria in British Malaya (1900–1940)" by Liew Kai Khiun Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 83, Part 1, June 2010, No. 298, pp. 91-115
"Mad Ridley and the rubber boom" by Dr Loh Wei Leng and Khor Jin KeonG 2011. The history of rubber in Malaya.
Video: A Rubber Plantation in Malaya, 1911 / La Cultivation du Caoutchouc en Malaisie, 1911 You Tube video.
Video: Henrietta Estate Album. Album of photographs of a Rubber Estate in 1920's / 1930's Malaya. You Tube video.
"Spreading the word: using cookbooks and colonial memoirs to examine the foodways of British Colonials in Asia, 1850-1900" by Cecilia Y. Leong-Salobir, University of Wollongong. From The Routledge History of Food 2015 (pp. 131-155)
"Mrs Beeton in Malaya" by Janice Loo. BiblioAsia Volume 9 Issue. 3 October-December 2013.


  • 1929 Motoring Map of Malaya Pages can be rotated if required. National Library of Malaysia.
  • Also see some Maps in Historical books online, below.

Historical books online

  • The Memoirs of a Malayan Official by Victor Purcell 1965 Lending Library. (Before you can borrow this book, you must register. Only one person at a time is able to borrow the book, so you perhaps may need to wait until the book is returned). Purcell was a member of the Malayan Civil Service 1921-46. The initial chapters are about his WW1 service in the British Army on the Western Front.
  • Repositori Digital Digital repository of the National Library of Malaysia. Book files are available as pdf downloads. Contains some books in English, although it does not appear possible to browse the English language books as a distinct category. For some books the “date of issue” appears to be the digitization date, rather than the date of publication. A number of the English language books are in the category Koleksi Peribadi. ASEAN Digital Library contains some content from the National Library of Malaysia, and can be searched by language.
Some downloads of books are sample pages only, but this may not be apparent from the catalogue entry. It is not known if this practice applies widely.
Books available from NLM include (and others are listed later):
Note this website in the past was often unavailable, and possibly may only be available during office hours, Monday to Friday: 8.00 am - 5.00 pm (local time), being GMT 00.00 to 9.00am
  • [Digital] Sejarah Melayu Library ( has an extensive collection of English language historical books to download as pdfs, with some to also read as text. Click on the titles for further details of the author and year published. If you prefer to read original images, look at the text version (if available), as for some books, it may be apparent they are available on websites such as or Google Books. Books available include
    • An extensive collection of Journals of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (SBRAS) which became the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS). Click on individual journal issues, and the contents will be shown. These do not seem to be complete issues, but selected articles.
  • The Colonial Office List for ... Includes a section on each country, and the Colonial Office List at the end of each volume. Google Books, HathiTrust Digital Library and
1862: First publication; 1867, 1877; 1878; 1879 pdf from Oxford University Library, may be slow to open, 1879 Google Books edition should become freely available 2020; 1881; 1889; 1901; 1902; 1903; 1904; HathiTrust Digital Library editions to 1922 viewable in restricted areas such as North America: A and B
In addition, Colonial Office List, 1863 and Colonial Office List, 1870 are available in the findmypast (pay website) dataset "Britain, Directories & Almanacs" located in Newspapers, Directories & Social History/Directories & Almanacs.
FamilySearch has a catalogue entry for a series of microfiches of the Colonial Office List, (produced by Chadwyck-Healey, 1987), currently (2019/06) available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, with however the potential to be digitised in the next few years, and perhaps be more widely available, or at least searchable. The same microfiche series may also be available at some other libraries, or to a very limited extent at some other FamilySearch Centres.
Colonial Office List (to 1925) and the later title The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List are available at the British Library UIN: BLL01002841625 and UIN: BLL01007173533
Volume I,Volume II 2nd edition, 1839 (2 Volumes in 1) Google Books. Tenth American edition [with deletions] c 1855
Sketches of our life at Sarawak by Harriette McDougall [1882?] Incorporates (some of/all?) the previous book.
Malay Sketches by Sir Frank Althelstane Swettenham 5th edition 1921. First published 1895
British Malaya; an account of the origin and progress of British influence in Malaya by Sir Frank Swettenham, late Governor of the Straits Colony 1907, with a 1906 Map of the Malay Peninsula
India Rubber, Gutta-Percha, and Balata: occurrence, geographical distribution, and cultivation of rubber plants; manner of obtaining and preparing the raw material, modes of working and utilizing them, and statistics of commerce by William T Brannt 1900
"The Rival of "Para" Rubber in the East" page 219 The India Rubber World April 1, 1903
"Rubber Planting in Ceylon and the Malay States" page 225 The India Rubber World April 1, 1904
Three Months in Pahang in Search of Big Game : A Reminiscence of Malaya by Theodore R Hubback 1912
Also see below for the 1959 Bibliography by H R Cheeseman.
An illustrated guide to the Federated Malay States edited by Cuthbert Woodville Harrison, Malayan Civil Service. 3rd edition 1920. Missing the Map. 1923 edition Pdf download, National Library of Malaysia
Malaysia and Indo-China : Information for Visitors to British Malaya, Dutch-Indies (Java, Bali, Sumatra etc.) Siam, French Ind0-China. Published by Thos. Cook & Son, Singapore 1926. Pdf download, National Library of Malaysia.
The Origins of British Borneo by Leigh R. Wright 1970. FamilySearch Digital Library. Requires signing in to FamilySearch to view the text.
R. H. Bruce Lockhart Wikipedia.
Return to Malaya R.H.Bruce Lockhart 1936 The author had previously left Malaya c 1910, see previous book.
  • Singapore Patrol by Alec Dixon, 1935. Pdf download, National Library of Malaysia. Note, sample pages only. The author who joined the Straits Settlements Police post WW1 was one of a small force of detectives, where riots, murders, and robberies, occurred with alarming frequency. Full title (perhaps only in some editions): Singapore Patrol: Experiences of a Detective Officer in Malaya. Review The Straits Times, 6 December 1935 Review The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) 14 Dec 1935
  • Malayan Symphony : Being the Impressions Gathered During a Six Months' journey Through the Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States, Siam, Sumatera, Java and Bali by William Robert Foran 1935. Pdf download, Repositori Digital, National Library of Malaysia. Probably sample pages only.
  • "Malaya 1938-1939" page 164 Memories of Malaya by June Meyer 2007. Description of a rubber estate in the north of Malaya. Google Books.
  • Limited text from Malayan Landscape by Katharine Sim with an introduction by Sir Richard Winstedt. 1946. Includes the Introduction and Contents. From elsewhere, the author was in Malaya 1938 to 1942. Not included in this extract is a final chapter regarding the war situation ahead of the approaching Japanese, with the author’s eventual evacuation from Singapore, shortly before its fall. Pdf download, Repositori Digital, National Library of Malaysia.
  • The War in Malaya by Lt-Gen A E Percival 1949. Available as a pdf download from Sejarah Melayu Library, refer above. Located under General. Scroll down the alphabetical list to T.
  • Malaya and its History by Sir Richard Winstedt, formerly of the Malayan Civil Service and Reader in Malay, University of London. 2nd edition, revised 1951, first published 1947.
A History of Malaya by Sir Richard Winstedt. Revised and enlarged 1962. Lending Library.
British civilians and the Japanese war in Malaya and Singapore, 1941-45 by Joseph Kennedy 1987. Lending Library.
The British in Malaya : the first forty years, 1786-1826 by K G Tregonning 1965. Lending Library.
A History of Modern Malaya by K G Tregonning 1967. Lending Library.
The Savage Wars of Peace : Soldier's Voices, 1945-1989 by Charles Allen 1990. Lending Library.


  1. Malaysia Civil Registration FamilySearch Wiki.
  2. Esslemont, Don. BMD certificates (was Robert Darwood engineer) Rootsweb Malaysia Mailing List 18 Mar 2008, which quotes a source of information which is no longer available as a webpage. Retrieved 21 November 2018. There is a possibility this information may be contained in the "Resources" chapter of the book Empire’s Children: Trace Your Family History Across the World by Anton Gill 2007, available at the British Library UIN: BLL01013623894 . This book accompanied the Channel 4 television series Empire's Children.
  3. History of the Dutch in Malaysia by Dennis De Witt. Available at the British Library UIN: BLL01015564894
  4. Page 28, "Chapter 2: Creeping in Johore April 1930- December 1930, Malayan Spymaster: Memoirs of a Rubber Planter, Bandit Fighter and Spy by Boris Hembry 2011 Google Books.
  5. Page 208, "Chapter 13: The Planter’s World", The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber by John Tully 2011. Google Books
  6. "The Planter’s Life" by Christopher Hale, January 2013.
  7. A History of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, 1854-1937 : being also an historical outline of volunteering in Malaya Naval & Military Press
  8. The Spectator Archive: 10 July 1909, page 28