This Day In History: 1781-07-06


Stamford Raffles (1781 – 1826) was born on this day.
He was a British statesman and amateur naturalist, best known for founding Singapore and being co-founder of the Zoological Society of London (1826), the world’s first scientific zoo. Raffles was fascinated by the diversity of animals and plants of the East Indies, he named, studied and described several of the wildlife species he discovered, particularly the Sumatran mammals and birds, and employed zoologists and botanists including Thomas Horsfield, Joseph Arnold, and William Jack, along with French zoologists Pierre Diard and Alfred Duvaucel to discover what they could about the animals and plants of the region. Unfortunately, as he was returning to England in 1824, his entire collection of specimens, natural history drawings, and manuscripts were lost when his ship, the Fame, went up in flames – according to contemporaries, one of the greatest losses to natural history ever sustained.

Raffles is honoured in the name the Latticed butterflyfish, Chaetodon rafflesii Anonymous [Bennett], 1830.