Siamese Aristocracy
The Pisolyabutra Family

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand is a member of the Pisolyabutra family, a Siamese family of Chinese ancestry, through her grandfather, the Prince of Chandaburi. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V, the family was a very wealthy one, deriving it's wealth from Klong (canals) digging and boat business. The head of the family, Praya Pisonth Sombutboriburana (Yim Pisolyabutra), known more widely as Chao Sua Yim, or Chinese Boss Yim, was credited for the creation of Klong Pasi Charoen, as well as the owner of the ship "Chao Praya," the first passenger ship service between Siam and Singapore.

Praya Pisonth Sombutboriburana and Nang Prang (daughter of Praya Sombat Vanij, founder of the Sombatsiri Family), his primary consort, had 12 children, namely:

  1. Son, Sun Ee Pisolyabutra
  2. Son, Dis Pisolyabutra
  3. Daughter, Chao Chom Manda Uam
  4. Son, Luang Sathorn Rajayutka (Yom Pisolyabutra)
  5. Daughter, Khunying Puem Chodeuk Rajasrethi (Puem Jotikapukkana)
  6. Son, Luang Pasi Sombatboribun (Pan Pisolyabutra)
  7. Daughter, Ngern Pisolyabutra
  8. Daughter, Chao Chom Aim
  9. Daughter, Chao Chom Chuang
  10. Daughter, Chum Pisolyabutra
  11. Son, Toa Pisolyabutra
  12. Daughter, Mom Sri Svasti
More information on some of the children below:
1. Prince Kitiyakara

Chao Chom Manda Uam (10 April 1856-26 April 1891) was a consort of King Chulalongkorn, and mother of HRH Prince Kitiyakara Voralaksana, Prince of Chandaburi, King Rama V's eldest surviving son, and Head of the Royal House of Kitiyakara (left). The Prince was one of four eldest sons of the King to be sent abroad for their education. The King also noted that this son of his was probably his wealthiest son, as his mother was a daughter of a successful businessman of Chinese ancestry. It was said that the King saw Uam sitting by her windows several times while travelling on the Chao Praya river, as Praya Pisonth's house was riverside, before asking for her hand. HM Queen Sirikit (right) is a granddaughter of the prince, and thus, a great-great granddaughter of Praya Pisonth Sombutboriburana.

Queen Sirikit

Luang Sathorn Rajayutka (Yom Pisolyabutra) was the creator of Klong Sathorn (Sathorn Canal). Sathorn road runs on either side of Klong Sathorn, and the road was once lined with large homes of the Siamese Aristocracy. Since Sathorn became one of the most expensive areas of Bangkok, the old family lands were sold, beautiful mansions demolished and replaced by modern office buildings. Luang Sathorn's home still stands, fortunately, but no longer a private home, nor belong to the family. More about the fate of the family and the property below.

Sathorn House

3. Khunying Puem Chodeuk Rajasrethi of the Jotikapukkana Family. The title of Praya Chodeuk Rajasrethi was bestowed to different important individuals in the past. The person who held this title also became head of the Chinese Community in Siam. The individual would also be the Head of the Department of Eastern Affairs and Commerce, known as Krom Tha Sai (กรมท่าซ้าย), representing the king in mostly trade affairs with China, as well as foreign relations through trade. (There was also the Department of Western Affairs (กรมท่าขวา), dealing trade and foreign relations with countries lying to the West of Siam, such as India, Arab countries, and the West).


4. Chao Chom Aim (1862-1926) also became a consort of King Chulalongkorn, but did not bore him any children.


5. Chao Chom Chuang (1863-1870) also became a consort of King Chulalongkorn, and did not bore him any children.


6. Mom Sri Svasti was a consort of HRH Prince Svasti Sobhon, the Prince (Kroma Pra) Svasti Vadhanavisidha, son of King Monkut, a half-brother of King Chulalongkorn, and brother to TM Queen Regent Sri Bajarindra and Queen Consort Savang Vadhana, grandmother of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.



After the death of Praya Pisonth Sombutboriburana, the business passed to Luang Sathorn Rajayutka, who expanded the family empire further to include building works. Unfortunately, Luang Sathorn contracted influenza and died at a young age of 38, on 1 May 1895. The family's business empire passed to Luang Sathorn's son-in-law, Luang Chitchamnong Vanich (Tomya Rongkavanich). The business empire kept on expanding to include nearly 10 rice mills, brick works, property business, as well as being a major supporter in the setting up of the China-Siam Bank. Luang Chitchamnong was considered the first Siamese businessman to trade rice in Europe. Around 1910, the business empire began to crumble, especially in the rice trading business, with extreme price fluctuation sited as the main problem. His debtors were running after him, one being the Crown Property Bureau, which was then the King's private holding. It finally confiscated 2 rice mills, land and properties, including Luang Sathorn's villa on Sathorn Road. The Pisolyabutra weath which was once one of the largest in the land, virtually disappeared over night.

Sathorn House
In 1911, the property became the Hotel Royale, before changing its name to Hotel Thailand. In 1925, King Rama VI gave the Sathorn House to Chao Praya Ram Rakob (Mom Rajawongse Fua Peungboon), Bangkok's first governor, and one of the King's trusted advisor. Chao Praya Ram Rakob sold it back to the Crown Property sometime later, and the property was leased to the Soviet Union in 1948, used as its embassy in Bangkok until 1999. Since then, the property has been leased to a property developer, under the project "One Sathorn Square." A new high-rise will be built adjacent to the old house, which will be the W Hotel, while the old structure has been renovated, with separate extensions built in the same style, and will be turned into a boutique hotel and spa.
Updated 30 October 2011