Hugh Low

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Hugh Low_table_infobox_0


Hugh Low GCMGHugh Low_header_cell_0_0_0

4th British Resident of PerakHugh Low_header_cell_0_1_0
Preceded byHugh Low_header_cell_0_2_0 James G. DavidsonHugh Low_cell_0_2_1
Succeeded byHugh Low_header_cell_0_3_0 Frank A. SwettenhamHugh Low_cell_0_3_1
Acting Governor of LabuanHugh Low_header_cell_0_4_0
Preceded byHugh Low_header_cell_0_5_0 Thomas Fitzgerald CallaghanHugh Low_cell_0_5_1
Succeeded byHugh Low_header_cell_0_6_0 John Pope HennessyHugh Low_cell_0_6_1
Personal detailsHugh Low_header_cell_0_7_0
BornHugh Low_header_cell_0_8_0 (1824-05-10)10 May 1824

Upper Clapton, United KingdomHugh Low_cell_0_8_1

DiedHugh Low_header_cell_0_9_0 18 April 1905(1905-04-18) (aged 80)

Alassio, ItalyHugh Low_cell_0_9_1

Spouse(s)Hugh Low_header_cell_0_10_0 Catherine Napier

​ ​(m. 1848; died 1851)​

Ann Douglas

​ ​(m. 1885)​Hugh Low_cell_0_10_1

ChildrenHugh Low_header_cell_0_11_0 Hugh Brooke Low (son)
Catherine Elizabeth Low (daughter)Hugh Low_cell_0_11_1
FatherHugh Low_header_cell_0_12_0 Hugh Low Sr.Hugh Low_cell_0_12_1
RelativesHugh Low_header_cell_0_13_0 Stuart Low (brother)Hugh Low_cell_0_13_1

Sir Hugh Low, GCMG (10 May 1824 – 18 April 1905) was a British colonial administrator and naturalist. Hugh Low_sentence_0

After a long residence in various colonial roles in Labuan, he became the first successful British administrator in the Malay Peninsula where he made the first trials of Hevea rubber in the region. Hugh Low_sentence_1

He is often considered the first successful British administrator in the Malay Peninsula, whose methods became models for subsequent British colonial operation in the entire South East Asia Region. Hugh Low_sentence_2

He made the first documented ascent of Mount Kinabalu in 1851. Hugh Low_sentence_3

Both Kinabalu's highest peak as well as the deep gully on the northern side of the mountain are named after him. Hugh Low_sentence_4

Early Life Hugh Low_section_0

Low was born in Upper Clapton, England, the son of a Scottish horticulturist, also named Hugh. Hugh Low_sentence_5

At an early age, he acquired botanical expertise working in the family nursery. Hugh Low_sentence_6

At 20, his father sent him on a collecting expedition to South East Asia. Hugh Low_sentence_7

He based himself in Singapore but soon joined James Brooke, the White Rajah, in Sarawak. Hugh Low_sentence_8

In the months following he became well enough acquainted with interior of Sarawak to write a definitive book on it on his return home. Hugh Low_sentence_9

In 1847, Brooke was appointed Governor of the recently established British colony of Labuan and Consul General of Borneo. Hugh Low_sentence_10

He made Low his Colonial Secretary (1848-1850) and William Napier Esq., Lieutenant Governor. Hugh Low_sentence_11

They, and Napier's daughter, Catherine, returned to the Far East in 1848. Hugh Low_sentence_12

Labuan Hugh Low_section_1

Low married Catherine Napier when they reached Singapore on 12 August 1848 at St Andrew's Cathedral They had a son Hugh "Hugo" Brooke Low (1849-1887)and a daughter Catherine "Kitty" Elizabeth Low (1850-1923[?]). Hugh Low_sentence_13

The marriage ended with the death of Catherine from fever in Labuan on 1851. Hugh Low_sentence_14

Low buried her and 14 other fever victims at night in his garden of new Government House (known to locals as Bumbung 12, Malay: "twelve roofs") which he designed, due to fear of the potential headhunting by the Dayaks ransacking of graves as they had earlier done at the Christian cemetery. Hugh Low_sentence_15

The children were taken care of by their grandfather and uncle. Hugh Low_sentence_16

In Labuan, Low acquired administrative experience, fluency in Malay and an enduring reputation as a naturalist, although he quarrelled with geologist/naturalist James Motley. Hugh Low_sentence_17

He was Police Magistrate from 1850 to 1877. Hugh Low_sentence_18

It was also from Labuan he made his three visits to Mount Kinabalu, the first in March 1851 and twice with Spenser St. John, the consul General of Brunei, in 1858. Hugh Low_sentence_19

Perak Hugh Low_section_2

In April 1877, Low was transferred to the Malay Peninsula and became the fourth Resident of Perak. Hugh Low_sentence_20

By the terms of the Pangkor Treaty, the Resident was an adviser whose decision were binding in all matters except for custom or religion. Hugh Low_sentence_21

The first Resident had been murdered in 1874, precipitating a war that left nearly all high-ranking Malay officials either dead or in exile. Hugh Low_sentence_22

Low's appointment marked a return to civil authority. Hugh Low_sentence_23

In his first year, he laid down the principle that in order to retain their right to the mining land that they owned, owners of mining land were obliged to see that their land was worked. Hugh Low_sentence_24

Within eight years, he saw slavery abolished in the state. Hugh Low_sentence_25

In 1885 he established the first railway line in the Malay Peninsula from Taiping to Port Weld (now Kuala Sepetang).. Hugh Low_sentence_26

He also helped set up the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Hugh Low_sentence_27

In his 12 years in Perak, Low firmly established a peaceful administration. Hugh Low_sentence_28

He created a state council that included the principal Malay, Chinese and British leaders and was notably successful in making use of prominent local leaders at most levels of his administration. Hugh Low_sentence_29

For example, he cultivated the friendship of mining magnate Kapitan China Chung Keng Quee who was his confidant. Hugh Low_sentence_30

Other Chinese miners in Perak were persuaded to use modern British mining equipment by first having Ah Quee experiment with them. Hugh Low_sentence_31

So close was this relationship that when Ah Quee was criticized in an article published in Harper's Magazine in 1891, Sir Hugh wrote a letter to the editor to set the record straight. Hugh Low_sentence_32

He also worked closely with Raja Yusef (the Raja Muda) and Raja Dris (later Sultan Idris) to restore order, pay off the state's debt of 800,000 Straits Dollars, and reestablish confidence in the British Residential system. Hugh Low_sentence_33

During his time there was a controversy between James Innes, British magistrate in Selangor, and Sir Hugh Low, Resident of Perak, over the issue of debt-slavery in Malaya. Hugh Low_sentence_34

Innes attempted to implicate Low, accusing him of abetting the practice of slavery in Perak when he was actually trying to abolish it. Hugh Low_sentence_35

Apart from his administrative achievements, Low was also involved in the experimental planting and research on commercial tropical crops including rubber, coffee, black pepper and tea. Hugh Low_sentence_36

Rubber cultivation in Malaysia began with Sir Hugh Low. Hugh Low_sentence_37

In 1882 he planted rubber seeds and grew seven trees at the gardens at Kuala Kangsar. Hugh Low_sentence_38

Low created a model rubber plantation in Malaya although this is sometimes mis-attributed to Henry Ridley who continued the work after a decade. Hugh Low_sentence_39

Low also collected specimens of plants and butterflies from the region. Hugh Low_sentence_40

On 1 August 1885, Sir Hugh Low married Ann Penelope Harriet Douglas, daughter of General Sir Robert Percy Douglas, 4th Baronet and Anne Duckworth. Hugh Low_sentence_41

Retirement Hugh Low_section_3

Sir Hugh Low retired from his post as Resident of Perak in 1889, leaving a credit balance of 1.5 million Straits Dollars. Hugh Low_sentence_42

Low died on 18 April 1905 in Alassio, Italy. Hugh Low_sentence_43

Honours Hugh Low_section_4

For his contributions to the British Empire he was honoured with the CMG in 1879, the KCMG in 1883, and the GCMG in 1889. Hugh Low_sentence_44

Several species are named to commemorate his work as collector, naturalist and orchidologist: Hugh Low_sentence_45

Plants Hugh Low_sentence_46

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Orchids Hugh Low_sentence_47

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Insects Hugh Low_sentence_48

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Reptiles Hugh Low_sentence_49

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  • Calamaria lovii [sic], a snake [also attributed to his son ]Hugh Low_item_3_12

Mammals Hugh Low_sentence_50

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and places: Hugh Low_sentence_51

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  • Low's Peak, the highest peak of Southeast Asia, on Mount Kinabalu, BorneoHugh Low_item_5_15
  • Low's GullyHugh Low_item_5_16
  • Hugh Low Street, at Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. The street name has changed to Jalan Sultan Iskandar, but locals still call it Hugh Low Street. It was once a busy two-way street, but since the name change and turning into a one-way street, the street has lost its glamour. There was once an arch; this was removed in 1986 when Hugh Low Street turned into one-way street.Hugh Low_item_5_17

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Low.