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including the former British North Borneo and Sarawak.

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, or The London and China Express, refer Historical books online below.
  • MyRepositori, website of the National Library of Malaysia, see Historical books online below, includes some historical Malaysian newspapers in English, although titles and dates are unclear, but include The Malay Mail and the Sunday Mail 1940s and 1950s. There is a Search which includes a Full Text Search, but you must select this option.
  • BACSA have published the following books, which are available at the British Library as noted:
    • 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. UIN: BLL01009531255
    • Kota Bharu (Malaysia): European Graves in the Jalan Hamzah Cemetery by Justin Corfield, 1999. 24pp, 23 illustrations and plan. UIN: BLL01009531507
    • Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): St Mary's Cathedral and the Jalan Birch Cemetery by Justin Corfield, 2000. 24pp, 5 illustrations. UIN: BLL01009531254
    • Christian Cemeteries and Memorials in the State of Malacca by Alan Harfield ; Dutch translations by José Parrett. 2002 revised edition 214 p, previously published 1979 and 1984. 1979 title includes and Rasak New Village. UIN: BLL01007448800 (2002); (UIN: BLL01010549113 1979; UIN: BLL01007448766 1984). The 2002 edition is available online, see Malacca.
    • Christian Cemeteries of Penang & Perak by Alan Harfield 1987. 195 p. UIN: BLL01011842779
    Penang Western Road Cemetery : graves of Europeans in the Protestant Section by Justin Corfield. Variant Title: Penang, Malaysia : graves of Europeans in the Protestant Section of Western Road Cemetery c 1999. 77 p with map. UIN: BLL01009531508
    • 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. UIN: BLL01009531270
    • Teluk Anson (Malaysia): European Graves in the Jalan Anderson Cemetery by Justin Corfield, 2000. 20pp, 14 illustrations and plan. UIN: BLL01009531506
For more details about the books currently available, and also those out of print, see BACSA - See also.
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.
  • Epitaph : the Northam Road Protestant Cemetery, George Town, Penang by Marcus Langdon. [2017] Publication Details: Penang, Malaysia : George Town World Heritage, [2017] “Includes bibliographical references". UIN: BLL01018374502 .
  • Taiping, Malaysia : Commonwealth war graves cemetery. Publication Details: [Stockport] : [Lane], [1995] On cover: This register is a memorium dedicated to those men who were killed in the defence of Malaya or who died as prisoners of the Japanese during the Second World War. UIN: BLL01008833921
  • Names and particulars of Australians killed in action in Borneo or who died while prisoners of war, or, who died while P.O.W. on the Sandakan Death March's and who are buried in the Labuan War Cemetery, North Borneo, Malaysia compiled by James McClelland Research 1991. UIN: BLL01007227307
  • British & Indian Armies in the East Indies (1685-1935) by Alan Harfield 1984 is available at the British Library, UIN: BLL01012672115 . 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. (Example of an entry from the 1925 Malayan Civil List.[3])
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

See Historical books online, below.
  • 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 Anglican [Church of England] Diocese: West Malaysia The Bishop of West Malaysia is also Archbishop of South East Asia, who is located at Kuala Lumpur.
  • "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. October 26, 2017., now archived. Includes photographs.
St Andrew's was historically known as the ‘Planters Church’ or the ‘Scottish Kirk’ as the planters of Selangor were mostly of Scottish stock. [4]
"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., now an archived website. The history of rubber in Malaya.
"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

Books about Malaysia by National Library of Singapore 1964.
  • National Library of Malaysia, currently (11 Oct. 2020) appears to have two digital websites, what perhaps may be termed an older, and a newer. It is unclear whether eventually all the content will migrate to the newer website, but currently there is content on the old website which goes not appear on the new.
Repositori Digital older website. A number of the English language books are in the category Koleksi Peribadi.
MyRepositori Newer website. Many of the English books appear in Collections: Khazanah Warisan Negara/Malaysiana/Koleksi Khas/ Koleksi Nadir and Koleksi Peribadi. There are also some online English language newspapers in the collection Surat Khabar. There is a note on the website: Users who are not in the PNM premises only get a preview display of 10 pages for copyright reasons.
For both websites, book files are available as pdfs. 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. ASEAN Digital Library contains some content from the National Library of Malaysia, and can be searched by language.
Downloads of books are generally sample pages only, or even title page only, (see previous comment) but this may not be apparent from the catalogue entry. This appears to be the general situation for books, and may even apply to articles.
Books available from NLM include (and others are listed later):
Note some editions of the Sarawak Gazette are online from 1907, see below.
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.
  • Digitised books on “History, Culture & Heritage“ from National University of Singapore. Note however, some of the books listed are in fact not viewable.
  • Straits Settlements Blue Book for the year… . See Singapore- Historical books online for a range 1870-1938 from various sources. Very informative publications. editions of Colonial Reports - Annual from 1908 onwards, to 1938 published by the Colonial Office. Includes Straits Settlements, Malay States and Unfederated Malay States.
Colonial Reports - Annual. Straits Settlements for 1931-1932, 1934-1938 are available to download from "Sea-Delt SouthEast Asian DEvelopment in the Long Term".
Reports from 1947 by Colonial Office (Great Britain)
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
  • The Selangor Journal: Jottings Past and Present
Volume 1, 1893, Volume 2, 1894, Volume 3, 1895, Volume 4, 1896, Volume 5, 1897 Google Books
Volume 1, 1893, Volume 2, 1894, Volume 3, 1895, Volume 4, 1896, Volume 5, 1897
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 above 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, older website. Probably sample pages only.
Malaysia and Indo-China : Information for Visitors to British Malaya, Dutch-Indies (Java, Bali, Sumatra etc.) Siam, French Indo-China. Published by Thos. Cook & Son, Singapore 1926. Pdf download, National Library of Malaysia, older website. Probably sample pages only.
Federated Malay States from page 159 c 1900? and British North Borneo, page 378 Further incidents in the life of a mining engineer by E T McCarthy 1920
The Origins of British Borneo by Leigh R. Wright 1970. FamilySearch Digital Library. Requires signing in to FamilySearch to view the text.
The Medical Book Of Malayan Medicine originally translated circa 1886 in Penang, edited by J D Gimlette and I H Burkill 1930. Published in The Gardens' Bulletin Straits Settlements October 1930 [Singapore: Botanic Gardens]
A Dictionary of Malayan Medicine by John D. Gimlette ; edited and completed by H. W. Thomson ; with a foreword by Malcolm Watson. 1939. MyRepositori, National Library of Malaysia.
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. Searchable, but not viewable on HathiTrust Digital Library.
  • 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, and could be very few. Searchable, but not viewable, on HathiTrust Digital Library. About the author
  • Armaments Year-Book : General and Statistical Information published by League of Nations. "Asia and Islands in the Indian Ocean" includes Malay Peninsula, page 176 First Year 1924, 2nd Edition HathiTrust Digital Library; "Asia" page 193 1937 edition. Google Books. For all editions of this publication to 1940, see Indian Army - Historical books online.
  • "Malaya 1938-1939" page 164 Memories of Malaya by June Meyer 2007. Description of a rubber estate in the north of Malaya. Google Books.
  • Handbook of the Automobile Association of Malaya, Dec. 1939
  • British Rule In Eastern Asia: A Study of Contemporary Government and Economic development in British Malaya and Hong Kong by Lennox A Mills 1941. Issued under the auspices of the Secretariat, Institute of Pacific Relations International Research Series. File 1 some missing pages noted; File 2 Public Library of India Collection.
  • Men of Malaya by Clive Dalton , (elsewhere stated to be the pseudonym of Frederick S Clark). 1942. Chapters titled Francis Light, Thomas Stamford Raffles, James Brooke, Andrew Clarke, Hugh Low, Frank Athelante Sweetenham., mirror from Digital Library of India.
  • Malayan Landscape by Katharine Sim with an introduction by Sir Richard Winstedt. 1946. The author was in Malaya 1938 to 1942. The final chapter is about the war situation ahead of the approaching Japanese, with the author’s eventual evacuation from Singapore, shortly before its fall., mirror from Digital Library of India.
  • Notes on Japanese Warfare on the Malayan Front Information Bulletin no. 6, 9 January 1942 by [USA] War Department, Military Intelligence Division.
  • Malayan Civil Service
    • "Kelantan During World War I" by W E Pepys, an article from Malaya in History July 1960 (Malayan Historical Society), pages 36-39.
    • The Memoirs of a Malayan Official by Victor Purcell 1965 Lending Library. 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.
    Purcell was also the author of Malaya: Outline of a Colony [1946], available at the British Library UIN: BLL01003009266 . Initial pages of the book to page 15 Also available to search but not view HathiTrust Digital Library.
  • The War in Malaya by Lieut.-General A E Percival, G O C Malaya 1941-1942. 1949., mirror from Digital Library of India. Also available as a pdf download on the Sejarah Melayu [Digital] Library 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.
Also see A History of Malaya by R.O. Winstedt published as Part I, Volume XIII March 1935 of the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, above.
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.
  • North Borneo by K G Tregonning 1960. A volume in the Colonial Office's series The Corona Library, published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
A History of Modern Sabah (North Borneo, 1881-1963) by K G Tregonning 1965. A revised second edition of the book first published in 1958 under the title Under Chartered Company Rule. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. The British North Borneo Company.
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.
British Documents on the End of Empire. Series B Volume 8 Malaysia edited by A J Stockwell originally published by The Stationery Office (TSO) 2004. Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.


  • The Adventures of John Smith in Malaya, 1600-1605 by A Hale 1909. This book was classified as a novel in a review when issued, but it was stated “In the Malayan part of the book…[there] seems to be first hand knowledge of the legends, custom and intimate life of the Malayans”, and it was “written… with… learning”[10]
  • The Complete Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham Volume I Lending Library. Volume II, Volume III. The Volume III Preface indicates some of the stories are set in Malaya "written long before the Second World War"; there may be other Malayan stories in other volumes. (See External links, above.) Other Short Stories editions mainly from the Lending Library. Far Eastern Tales Lending Library. The short stories appear to have been written mainly in the 1920s-1930s. The stories include "The Letter" page 184 The complete short stories of W. Somerset Maugham, Volume 1 East and West, published 1953 New York. Books to Borrow. The plot for this story is considered to have been based on a murder in 1911 in Kuala Lumpur, details of which are given in newspapers of the period and also in Out East in the Malay Peninsula, the memoirs of Dr. G.E.D. Lewis, published 1991.[11]
  • The Gun-Runners by W. Dingwall Fordyce c 1900 An adventure story for younger readers.
The Jewelled Lizard by W. Dingwall Fordyce c 1908 An adventure story for younger readers, with a Sumatra setting.
Dingwall Fordyce also wrote "The Adventures of Babi. A pet mongoose in Sumatra", a chapter in Wide World Magazine, 1911, and Our Secret Society c 1910. However, it is unknown if the setting for the latter is also Malaysia/Indonesia.


  1. Malaysia Civil Registration FamilySearch Wiki.
  2. Esslemont, Don. BMD certificates (was Robert Darwood engineer) Rootsweb Malaysia Mailing List 18 Mar 2008, now an archived webpage, which quotes a source of information which is no longer available as a webpage.
  3. Saw, Winson Captain Edward Pratt, 3rd & 9th Devonshire Regiment and ASC Great War Forum 19 August 2021 first image. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  4. St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Kuala Lumpur. Pipe Organs of Malaysia
  5. History of the Dutch in Malaysia by Dennis De Witt. Available at the British Library UIN: BLL01015564894
  6. A History of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, 1854-1937 : being also an historical outline of volunteering in Malaya Naval & Military Press
  7. 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.
  8. Page 208, "Chapter 13: The Planter’s World", The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber by John Tully 2011. Google Books
  9. "The Planter’s Life" by Christopher Hale, January 2013.
  10. The Spectator Archive: 10 July 1909, page 28, archived page.
  11. "Has Somerset Maugham promoted Malaysia more than Shahrukh Khan?" by Oscar the Grouch.