Sunday, May 17, 2009

Protestant Cemetery

Protestant Cemetery(1789-1892)

The Christian Cemetery was located at Northam Road(Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah), the north wall entrance. It is the oldest Christian Cemetery in Penang. The earliest burial recorded was that of H.D.D.Cunningham in 1789. The latest is Cornelia Josephine Van Someren in 1892. There were 250 recorded burial here, but some of the tombstones are not identifiable.

Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang was buried here in 1794. Light Street was named after him. The grave and tomb stone is a heritage for Penang. But it was not well protected,and fenced up.

Other early governors who died in office are buried here, they are:-
(i) Phillip Dundas(died in 1807), the Governor from 1805-1807.
(ii) William Petrie(died in 1816), the Governor from 1811-1816
(iii) Colonel John Alexander Bannerman(died in 1819),the Governor from1817-1819

They also included Francis Light’s trading partner, James Scott (died in 1808); David Brown of Gelugor Estate (died in 1825), and James Richardson Logan (died in 1869). George Samuel Windsor Earl(died in 1865). Rev Hutchings, the founder of Penang Free School; and many who are unknown as their names was erased by wear and tear.

Capt James Scott is a trading partner of Capt Francis Light. He drew one of the early map of Penang in 1786(Plan of the Strait within Poolo Pinangn with part of adjacent coast of Quedah , 1786).  James Scott was also the one that protested against Francis Light decision in 1795 to tax the property owner (by government) without the representation . He together with Kapitan Cina Koh Lay Huan, and Kapitan Keling Cauder Mohideen, formed the first Committee of Assessors in Penang, met to decide on the rate and taxes. He was also Francis Light’s executor(the other one was William Fairlie). James Town, which was planned by him, between Sg Nibong and Sg Keluang, opposite Pulau Jerejak, is the present day Bayan Lepas(who ended up bankrupt).

His son , Captain William Scotts(1786-1861), who lived in an atap house in his plantation located at Scott Road, Singapore. He was known for his charity. Claymore Road and Claymore Drive in Singapore were named in 1926 after the house and plantation owned by Captain Scott. He has another son, Robert Scotts, who was the merchant in Batavia, Java, Indonesia. His cousin was Sir Walter Scotts, an illustrious poet and novelist.

David Brown is the person who owned Gelugor Estate(now USM), he was one of the largest land owner in Penang. David Brown studied law in Edinburgh. He later went into business with his fellow Scotsman, James Scott, who was the trading partner of Capt Francis Light. After James Scott died, he took over his estate, and become the largest land owner in Penang. He was a philanthropist, who donated 12 acre Padang Brown(where his memorial now stand) to the municipality. His first wife who was a local, Nonia Ennui, second wife was called Inghoo. His son, Forbes Scott Brown was the classmate of James Richardson Logan., also a historical figure in Penang. David Brown died in 1825. Brown Road was named after him. One of his estate Mrs Ann Barton, donated a piece of land for Chong Cheng School in Sungei Ara. I am not able to locate the grave on the day I visited. His 4th son, Alexander Stuart Brown was also buried here(born on 10-12-1818, died on 12-2-1857), 3rd son Forbes Scott Brown(died on 28-5-1874), 1st son George Henry Brown(died on 5-10-1882)

James Richardson Logan was born in Berwickshire, Scotland, in 1819 and studied law in Edinburgh. Arriving in Malaya when he was just 20, he was later viewed by segments of the non-European local communities as a champion of their rights. He was editor of the Penang Gazette and the 27-volume Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, which were also called Logan’s Journals. The Logan Memorial at the ground of Supreme Court Building at Light Street, describes him as “an erudite and skillful lawyer, an eminent scientific ethnologist and he has founded a literature for these settlements…” He died of malaria in 1869 - a passing the Memorial describes as a “public calamity”. It was also reported that he was the first person to employ the name `Indonesia’ to describe the geographical region of the archipelago(source from Logan Road was named after him.

The founder of Penang Free School, Rev Hutchings, who visited the grave annually on 21st October each year, by the senior class of Penang Free School. I am not able to locate the grave. The school was found on October 21, 1816 .The inspiration behind the formation of St George church, however, was credited to Rev. Robert Sparke Hutchings, a well known educationist and Robert Smith, an engineer and landscape artist. Rev. Hutchings contributions towards the development of Penang from an educational perspective are significant. He founded the Penang Free School and compiled and wrote what were considered the first

George Samuel Windsor Earl (1813-1865)(died in 1865), Acting governor in 1860, was an Assitant Resident Councillor of Penang.

Sir George Leith(died in 1842), the Lieutenant Governor (1800-1803) –there was a tomb stone with the same name Mr George Leith but died on 1831, may not be him. The tomb is of the conductor of ordinance.

A young office, named Thomas Leonowens died in 1839 at the age of 31. He left a young widow, Anna, who sought employment in Siam, as a teacher. She wrote her memoirs of her life in the East, especially in Siam. The story was later adapted in a popular musical film, “The King and I”.

The wall was built and the Anglican Cemetery consecrated in 1818. The cemetery was closed for further burial towards the end of 19th century. Most of the burial were then in Western Road Cemetery. Many graves were destroyed when Japanese bombs fell in the eastern and western ends of the cemetery.
On the other side of Southern Wall is the old Catholic Cemetery, in the ground of St Francis Xavier Church.

I visited the cemetery 8-5-2009, the cemetery was not well managed. The tomb with the paints fading but was not repaint; the wear and tear by the weather damaged some of the writing on the tomb. Many of the tomb stones are not identifiable, as the writing has disappeared. A valuable historical information was lost. The tomb stones need repainted and a respect to our heritage cemetery is required. A map should be put up for the tourists to locate the tombs, and historical background provided. We need a care taker stationed there like the Jew cemetery, otherwise the heritage will be gone soon. There are sign of vandalism in the cemetery.

Captain Francis Light(1740-21th Oct 1794), the Founder of Penang. Light Street
-->(莱特街) was named after him.

James Scott(6-10-1746 to 19-9-1808), born at Roxburghshire, Scotland. Light's Trading Partner

James Richardson Logan(10-4-1819 to 20-10--1869),the one who named Indonesia. Logan Road was named after him. Born at Hutton Hall, Berwickshire, Scotland. His brother, Abraham Logan(31-8-1816 to 20-12-1873), also born at Hutton Hall, was also buried at the same cemetery.

William Petrie( -->1747- 27th Oct, 1816), the Governor of Penang from 1811-1816

John Alexander Bannerman(1758-1819), the Governor of Penang from 1817-1819 died of choleraon 8-8-1819. Reported born on 5-6-1759(source: , married to Ann West (1769-1833)on 8-9-1789 at Fort St George, Madras, India. -->


George Samuel Windsor Earl --> (10-2-1813 to 9-8-1865), Acting governor of Penang in 1860, was an Assitant Resident Councillor of Penang. The author of the book with the title " The Eastern Seas". Yonger son of late Percy Earl Esq, senior of Hamptead, England.

Sir John Gordon Bar , died on 12-11-1804, 29th years old( anyone know his background?

Thomas Leonowens (2-5-1828 to 7-5-1859. Anna Harriet Leonowens(1834-1915)'s husband.
Ann was the teacher in the court of King Mongkut (or King Rama IV) of Siam,for his children. The story was famous by the film "The King & I".
Father of Louis Thomas Gunnis Leonowens.

GF Gottlieb(2-1-1803 to 13-6-1858), who may be related to Felix Henry Gottlieb, after whom Gottlieb Road was named. (updated on 3-7-2009, GF Gottlieb was a Penang Harbour Master, George Felix Gottlieb,may be son of Felix Henry Gottlieb).

George Leith(died on 1-1-1834), not Sir George Leith, the -->the Lieutenant Governor (1800-1803) , who died in 1842. He is the conductor of Ordinance in the H.C.Service.

Adolf Karz (12-2-1861 to 15-6-1886 ), a German who was the member of Karz Brothers, which operated an import business in the 19th century. The Karz Street( -->六条路)was named after him or his firm.

Catholic Cemetery


We found some Chinese tombstones in the Catholic Cemetery; these must be some of the pioneer Chinese Catholic in Penang..They may be the former armies from Taiping Rebellion during the Qing Dynasty in China. It was reported over 30 graves (some reported 12)which dated from 1860s to 1880s were there. But when I visited , the tombstones is less than 10. There is one tomb stone, where the Chinese wording was not clear. The name was not clear. But it indicated that the person was a yongding hakka of Western Fujian province((闽西龙岩市永定客家). He was born in Emperor Dàoguāng(道光) who reign between 1821-1850 on 癸己year which was 1833; he died in the reign of Emperor Guāngxù(1875-1908)(光緒) 14th year , which was 1888 when he was 55 years old. There were many hakka people in Balik Pulau who are Catholic, reported to be from Taiping Rebellion era(1850-1864). It was reported that in 1828, there were first 60 Chinese become Catholic. In 1836, there were 200 Chinese Catholic. These pioneer Catholic are not from Taiping Rebellion era. The Taiping Rebellion(太平天囯)begin in 1850 and end in 1864, when the deceased was 31 years old. Most of Taiping Heavenly armies were Hakka. This provided clue that the deceased may be from the period. He may also be the children from the early Catholic of 1828-1836 period.

So from 1850 to 1864 until end of Taiping Rebellion, Chinese Catholic in Penang was in increasing trend, especially in Balik Pulau?. It will be of historical benefit if we know the growth rate, and also more on the Chinese Catholic in Balik Pulau, are they connected to Taiping Rebellion?.

The Catholic cemetery was once, in 1857 a temporary place for the Indian Catholic Church, only in 1867 St Francis Xavier Church was built, but destroyed during WW2. The current church was rebuilt in 1951.

The Catholic Cemetery was not well maintained, compared with the Protestant cemetery. There was plan to develop the cemetery land, but the Catholic communicty against the plan.

(Note: The first Catholic Church was in Bishop Street, on the church built by Capt Francis Light, at that time most of the Catholic are Portuguese, Siamese, Burmese and some Indian, under the Diocese of Bangkok. In 1860, a bigger church was build in LEBUH FARQUAR (华盖街), the Cathedral Church of Assumption)



  1. Any picture of David Brown of Gelugor Est. tomb ? Any idea how old is david brown when he died ?

  2. David Brown(1778-1825) passed away while on his voyage to Malacca. He must be 48 years old, relatively young.

    Yes, his tomb stone is in the cemetery. I have picture of it, but taken by other person.

    Please refer my other blog article on his life.

  3. Sir John Gordon is the name and he is a Baronet hence the Bart abbreviation at the end of his name. I cannot find any further info at the moment

  4. He may be 8th Baronet,died in 1804. Why he buried in Penang? who is he?. I still found no clue

  5. Gordon of Embo, Sutherland; Baronetcy extinct or dormant 9 Sep 1956.

  6. C161 SIR, JOHN: 8th Baronet; b. 1776 ; d. unm. 1804 ; s. by his brother C 162.SIR ORFORD: 9th Baronet; Capt. 78th Highlanders; d. 1857.

    The title devolved upon his brother, Sir William, 7th baronet, born in 1736. He entered the army in 1755, as an officer in the 19th regiment, and was afterwards in the Norfolk militia. He married June 15, 1760, Sarah, only daughter of Crosby Westfield, Esq., R.N., and had 14 children, several of whom predeceased him. He died January 7, 1804.

    His son, Sir John, succeeded as 8th baronet. A lieutenant of engineers, Bengal army, he died, unmarried, at Prince of Wales Island, Nov. 12, 1804.

    His only surviving brother, Sir Orlando, the youngest of his father’s family, was the 9th baronet. He was a captain 78th Highlanders, and married, in Dec. 1813, Frances, daughter of General Gore Browne, He died June 19, 1857, leaving a son and 3 daughters.

    The son, Sir Home Gordon, 10th baronet, was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1839. He subsequently became M.A.; a deputy lieutenant of Sutherlandshire. He married March 26, 1844, Ellen Harriet, youngest daughter of Bartholomew Barnewell, Esq.; issue, one son, Home Seton, born March 21, 1845.

  7. hey nice work. i feel very sad as penangite that the cemetery is not taken care well. this fallen people deserve better.