Carl Alexander Gibson-Hill (23 October 1911 – 18 August 1963) was a British medical doctor, naturalist, ornithologist and curator of Singapore’s Raffles Museum. His main interest, area of expertise and legacy of published knowledge was the natural, geographical and cultural history of Malaya, Singapore and the historically associated Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Gibson-Hill was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, grew up in Birmingham, and was educated at Malvern College in Worcestershire and Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 1933 he graduated with a Second in Natural Science Tripos, and subsequently enrolled at the King's College Hospital Medical School.
In 1938 Gibson-Hill married a fellow houseman, Margaret Halliday, before departing to serve as the resident medical officer on Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. He was there from September 1938 to December 1940, following which he moved to work on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands for another ten months, where he was joined by his wife after she had completed her medical training. During his time on these islands he studied the local fauna, making collections of specimens for the Raffles Museum.
Towards the end of 1941 the couple went to Malaya where she found a job at the Alor Star general hospital while he was appointed a health officer in Singapore's health department. He was also made Assistant Curator of the Raffles Museum. However, he had arrived in Singapore only four days before it fell to Japanese forces, and was soon interned in Changi as a prisoner of war, though his wife had managed to escape.
Three months after being released from internment, in 1945 Gibson-Hill boarded a whaler bound for South Georgia on an expedition to collect specimens for the Falkland Islands Museum, and to photograph Antarctic seabirds. In March 1946 he finally returned to England on an oil tanker on which he served as health officer. He returned to Singapore in 1947, becoming Curator of Zoology at the Raffles Museum. For two years he was also Acting Professor of Biology at the Singapore College of Medicine. In 1956 he succeeded Michael Tweedie as Director of the Museum.
Gibson Hill also served in the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, which he had joined in 1940 and which was closely associated with the Museum, as Assistant Secretary and Treasurer (1947–1948), Secretary (1950–1955), Editor of its journal (1948–1961) and as President (1956–1961). He joined the Royal Photographic Society in 1948 and gained its Associate in 1948 remaining a member until his death.
Gibson-Hill's health began to deteriorate in the late 1950s; he was a diabetic and a heavy smoker and was often hospitalised for cerebral and general oedema. He was found dead at his home in Singapore shortly before he was due to retire as Director of the Raffles Museum. He was the last expatriate Briton to hold that position.
Gibson-Hill was a skilled sketcher and photographer, talents he used to illustrate his many publications. He produced numerous scientific papers, often published in the Bulletin of the Raffles Museum and the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Books or book-length papers authored by him include:
The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is an Australian external territory in the Indian Ocean, comprising a small archipelago approximately midway between Australia and Sri Lanka and closer to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is part of Southeast Asia and is in the Southern Hemisphere. The territory's dual name reflects that the islands have historically been known as either the Cocos Islands or the Keeling Islands.
The Straits Settlements were a group of British territories located in Southeast and East Asia. Originally established in 1826 as part of the territories controlled by the British East India Company, the Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a Crown colony on 1 April 1867. In 1946, following the end of the Second World War and the Japanese occupation, the colony was dissolved as part of the Britain's reorganisation of its dependencies in the area.
Henry Nicholas Ridley CMG (1911), MA (Oxon), FRS, FLS, F.R.H.S. was an English botanist, geologist and naturalist who lived much of his life in Singapore. He was instrumental in promoting rubber trees in the Malay Peninsula and, for the fervour with which he pursued it, came to be called as "Mad Ridley".
British Singapore or simply Singapore was a crown colony of the United Kingdom from 1946 to 1963. When the Empire of Japan surrendered to the Allies at the end of World War II, Singapore was returned to the British in 1945, having controlled the territory since 1819 as part of the Straits Settlements. In 1946, the latter were dissolved and Singapore together with the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Island became a separate crown colony. The colony was governed directly from London until it gained partial internal self-governance in 1955.
The Larut Wars were a series of four wars started in July 1861 and ended with the signing of the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. The conflict was fought among local Chinese secret societies over the control of mining areas in Perak which later involved rivalry between Raja Abdullah and Ngah Ibrahim, making it a war of succession.
The terrestrial fauna of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is unsurprisingly depauperate, because of the small land area of the islands, their lack of diverse habitats, and their isolation from large land-masses. However, the fauna dependent on marine resources is much richer.
John Coney Moulton OBE (1886–1926) was born in St Leonards, Sussex, England, and died in London. He was an officer in the British Army, as well as an amateur zoologist who spent many years in South-East Asia.
Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt, or more commonly R. O. Winstedt, was an English Orientalist and colonial administrator with expertise in British Malaya.
Cecil Boden Kloss was an English zoologist. He was an expert on the mammals and birds of Southeast Asia.
Michael Wilmer Forbes Tweedie was a naturalist and archaeologist working in South East Asia, who was Director of the Raffles Museum in Singapore.
The Birds of the Malay Peninsula is a major illustrated ornithological reference work conceived and started by Herbert Christopher Robinson. The full title is The Birds of the Malay Peninsula: a general account of the birds inhabiting the region from the isthmus of Kra to Singapore with the adjacent islands. It comprises five substantial hardbound volumes of text, with 125 plates by Henrik Grönvold and 11 maps. It was published by H. F. and G. Witherby, London. The binding of the first four volumes was red buckram; the fifth was red cloth with a dust jacket.
Eu Chooi Yip was a prominent member of the anti-colonial and Communist movements in Malaya and Singapore in the 1950s and 60s. Eu Chooi Yip was born in Kuantan, Malaysia.
Murray Ross Henderson (1899–1982) was a Scottish botanist who did most of his botanical work in the Straits Settlements and South Africa. He took a position as a botanist in Malaya in 1921 and became curator of the herbarium in the Singapore Botanical Gardens in 1924.
This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Singapore.
Hikayat Abdullah was a major literary work by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, a Malacca-born Munshi of Singapore. It was completed in 1845 and first published in 1849, making it one of the first Malay literary texts to be published commercially. Abdullah’s authorship was prominently displayed in this text and the contents were conveyed in simple, contemporary Malay. Unlike typical classical Malay literary works that contain mythical and legendary stories, Abdullah’s work dealt with social realism.
Maluka was a small independent state located around the Sungei Maluka, southeast of Bandjermassin on the island of Borneo. It was established in a land concession acquired by an English adventurer Alexander Hare from the Sultan of Banjarmassin in 1812 and lasted 4 years until 1816.
Emily or Emma Sadka was an Iraqi-Singaporean historian and researcher specialising in the Political History of the Malayan region, which she taught at the University of Malaya (Singapore) and in Australian universities.
The Seri Rambai is a 17th-century Dutch cannon displayed at Fort Cornwallis in George Town, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the largest bronze gun in Malaysia, a fertility symbol and the subject of legends and prophecy.
The Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS) is a learned society based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Betty Eleanor Gosset Molesworth Allen was a New Zealand botanist. She researched and published extensively on Southeast Asian ferns, and in her retirement she discovered a fern in southern Spain that had previously been thought to be an exclusively tropical species.