Monday, April 15, 2013

Penang and the East India Trading Co.

Georgetown (named after George III) was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for The East India Company.

The East India Trading Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, sale, saltpeter (potassium nitrite use in gunpowder and in preserving meats - salt beef), tea and opium. It had been trading for the best part of a decade before it was granted a Royal Charter in 1600 by QEI. It was in competition with the Dutch East Indian Trading Company et al.

Above: Sir James Lancaster, commander of the first EIC expedition to the East in 1601.

Light obtained the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah, and built Fort Cornwallis at Georgetown.

It became a thriving trading post, full of merchant buildings and banks such as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). The old sector of Georgetown where these buildings can still be found is now listed as a world heritage site. 

Penang was the first British trading post in the east, and became a luxurious eastern travel destination once the Suez canal was opened in 1869. 

Malaysia was made up of 13 different kingdoms (the Malay states), each with their own sultan. 9 retain their own royal families to this day. Above is a photo of all the sultans taken in the late 19th century. 

Below: The current Sultan of Kedah (Penang region)

The EIC was dissolved in 1874, as its functions had been fully absorbed into the governmental machinery of British Imperial India.

Captain Light's tomb in the Protestant Graveyard, just down the road from the E&O...
The Graveyard...

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