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A social history of the British in Malaya, 1880-1941, with special reference to the Federated Malay States

Butcher, John Glover


John Glover Butcher


D. K. (David Kenneth), 1931-1989 Bassett


This study traces the social history of the European community, most or whose members were of British nationality, in the Federated Malay States of Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan, and Pahang. It covers the period from about 1880, a few years after the inception of British rule in the Malay States, to the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941. During the 1880s and 1890s the European population, consisting mainly of government servants, grew steadily, and Europeans adapted to life in the Malay States by founding social clubs and building a few small hill stations. After about 1900, as Europeans gained a larger share of the export economy, the number of Europeans in non-government activities such as planting and commerce increased markedly. As a result of the economic prosperity which occurred during the decade before the First World War, living conditions improved, the standard of living to which all Europeans believed they must adhere rose, and government servants sought salary increases in order to maintain both their standing in the European community and their prestige in Asian eyes. During these years there was also considerable tension in European relations with Asians. During the interwar years there were great fluctuations in economic prosperity. Because they were seen as a threat to British prestige unemployed Europeans were removed from Malaya by the government. Various aspects of European life during the interwar years, such as the role of clubs, the structure of the European community, the position of women within the community, the creation of two large hill stations, and relations with Asians, including Asian participation in European social activities, are described in this study. The final chapter looks at relations between European men and Asian mistresses and prostitutes and how concubinage and prostitution changed between the early 1900s and the interwar years.


Butcher, J. G. (1975). A social history of the British in Malaya, 1880-1941, with special reference to the Federated Malay States. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Nov 1, 1975
Deposit Date Jul 6, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords History
Public URL
Additional Information Department of History, The University of Hull


Thesis (32.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1975 Butcher, John Glover. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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