Raffles, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley, 1781-1826, British East Indian administrator. He was one of the founders of Britain's empire in East Asia. Beginning his career (1795) as a clerk in the British East India Company, he was sent to Pinang, Malaya (Malaysia), in 1805 as assistant secretary. Through his knowledge of the Malay language and customs he played a large part in planning the capture of Java from the Dutch. He ruled Java as lieutenant governor (1811-15) and reduced the power of native princes. Raffles also reorganized the administration, launched reforms in taxation, abolished forced labor and feudal dues, and provided security of land tenure. Recalled (1815) on the eve of Java's restoration to the Dutch, he returned to England, where his History of Java (1817) was published. While lieutenant governor of Bencooleen in Sumatra (1818-23), he introduced coffee and sugar cultivation and established schools. He secured the transfer (1819) of Singapore to the East India Company and initiated policies that contributed greatly to Singapore's vital role in the lucrative China trade. Raffles was outstanding for his liberal attitude toward peoples under colonial rule, his rigorous suppression of the slave trade, and his zeal in collecting historical and scientific information. He played the chief role in founding the Zoological Society of London and was its first president. He was knighted in 1817.

See biographies by C. E. Wurtzberg (1954) and M. Collis (1966).

Raffles, Gentleman Thug is a comic strip featured in adult comic Viz featuring a nineteenth-century nobleman given to 'immense erudition and wanton violence'. The basic premise is a nod/ripoff of E. W. Hornung's Raffles the Thief character, the main difference being that this Raffles is very much a 21st century hooligan despite his use of Victorian language. The strip parodies British yob culture, placing modern day situations in a Victorian/Edwardian setting, including considerable anachronisms, and Raffles himself uses antiquated or formal words in very informal or modern situations.

For example:

  • 'Bollocks to this' becomes 'Testicles to this'
  • 'Fuck this shit' becomes 'Fornicate this ordure'
  • 'Kick the little bastard' becomes 'Lapidate the little illegitimate'
  • 'Tits oot for the lads' (tag line of Viz character Sid the Sexist ) becomes 'Remove your decollétage from its corsetry for the delectation of the gentlemen present'
  • 'Fanny magnet' (when describing his new car) becomes 'Vaginal lodestone'
  • 'You big girl's blouse' becomes 'You sizable ladies chemise'

Raffles has found himself in many situations featuring famous characters and events from the 19th century and early 20th century:

  • Playing cricket against the world famous W. G. Grace, cheating him and then beating him up in the toilets
  • Knocking out the Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick during a visit to a fairground freak show after accusing him of "looking at his bird"
  • Travelling on the RMS Titanic and then disguising himself as a woman so he can board a lifeboat. Without booking passage, Raffles bluffed his way aboard the Titanic by claiming to know the captain. When a sailor challenged Raffles to identify the captain by name, Raffles bluffed "Erm, Smith" and was told "Welcome aboard". (The captain's name was indeed Edward Smith.) He then ordered Smith off the bridge, took over the wheel, and within ten minutes had rammed the iceberg! (And you thought it was foggy!!)
  • Fighting in WW1, bullying war poet Rupert Brooke and acting like a football hooligan during the 1914 Christmas Truce
  • Attending a party at Clarence House in which he gets into an argument with King Edward VII , resulting in the King being slashed horrendously with a Stanley knife .
  • Pushing in the front of a Taxi queue after a night out only to be beaten to a pulp by 'Lords Ronnie and Reggie of Kray'
  • Being brutally beaten by Oscar Wilde after insulting his companion.

Raffles is always accompanied by his loyal friend Bunny and has other acquaintances such as 'Dave, 6th Earl of Bermondsey' (a notorious section of South East London) and Clarence, 3rd Earl of Burberry (a reference to Burberry, often stereotyped as the fashion brand of choice for Britain's 'chavs').

Raffles often uses modern-day techniques during his daily escapades - in a recent episode, he broke a wine bottle and stabbed someone with it (today known as "glassing") and used a Stanley knife to threaten someone into giving him their wallet. In another strip Raffles and Bunny went to visit the Earl of Burberry only to find his house ablaze (Burberry had fallen asleep in front of the magic lantern and left the quail pan on). The fire brigade arrived and were subsequently pelted with rocks by Raffles, Bunny and Burberry.


(To King Edward VII) Is sir perchance passing by the infirmary on his way home? If so perhaps he'd like to stitch this f*****

Is sir addressing me or is he masticating on a house brick? Because either way sir loses his f****** teeth.

(While assaulting the ambassador to Moldavia) Have you had enough? Have you had enough you f****** Moldavian bastard, your Excellency.

(Raffles' chalked graffiti) All Bow Street Runners are illegitimate

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