List of governors of Penang

This is the list of people who have held the highest political office in Penang and its previous entities. Penang is a state in Malaysia.

Until the 18th century, the island of Penang was part of the Sultanate of Kedah. In 1786, the island was ceded by the Sultan of Kedah to the East India Company, Francis Light representing the company.[1] Light renamed the island "Prince of Wales Island." In 1790, after suffering a military defeat at the hands of Light, Sultan Abdullah formally handed over the island to the British. Light was appointed Superintendent of Prince of Wales Island.[1] From 1800 to 1805, the island was led by a Lieutenant Governor.[1]

In 1805, Prince of Wales Island became a Residency, led by a Governor.[1] In 1826, the island, along with Malacca and Singapore, were consolidated into the Straits Settlements. Thereafter, Penang was administered by a British Resident Councillor subordinate to the Governor of the Straits Settlements.

Penang was occupied by the Japanese from 1941 to 1945.[1] After the surrender of the Japanese, the British returned and briefly imposed military rule on Malaya before forming the Malayan Union in 1946. During the Malayan Union and the pre-independence Federation of Malaya period, Penang was administered by British Resident Commissioners.

Since independence, the head of state of Penang, the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (also known as Governor), has been appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia) on the advice of the Prime Minister.[2] The Yang di-Pertua Negeri retains only ceremonial functions, including opening and dissolving the State Assembly, conferring state awards and appointing the Chief Minister after elections.[3] The Chief Minister is the head of the executive branch of the state government.

Superintendents of Prince of Wales Island

# Superintendent Took office Left office Notes
1 Captain Francis Light 11 August 1786 21 October 1794 Died in office. "The inscription to his memory at St. George's Church by a contemporary Penang Resident  Robert Scott  adds to the favourable impression made by the public records a warm testimony to his worth:- "In Memory of Francis light Esq. who first established this Island as an English Settlement, and was many years Governor. "[4]
Philip Manington 21 October 1794 14 May 1795 Acting
2 Major Forbes Ross MacDonald 14 May 1795 May 1799
John Beanland 31 January 1796 3 April 1796 Acting for MacDonald
George Caunter May 1799 20 April 1800 Acting

Lieutenant Governors of Prince of Wales Island

# Lieutenenat Governor Took office Left office Notes
1 Sir George Alexander William Leith 20 April 1800 1804
2 Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar 1804 1805

Governors of Prince of Wales Island

Governors of Prince of Wales' Island.[5]
5 December 1804Philip Dundas 8 April 1807 Died in office
8 April 1807Henry Shepherd Pearson 2 March 1808 Acting
2 March 1808Norman Macalister March 1810
24 Mar.1810Charles Andrew Bruce December 1810 Died in office.
December 1810William Edward Phillips 1811 Acting.
1811Archibald Seton 1812
1811William Petrie1812 Acting while Seton in Java
29 January 1812William Petrie27 October 1816 Died in office
27 October 1816William Edward Phillips 18 March 1817Acting
18 March 1817John Alexander Bannerman8 August 1819Died in office
1 March 1820William Edward Phillips Aug. 1824.
4 February 1824 Robert Fullerton. 12 November 1829[6] Governor of the Straits Settlements (1826–1830)

Occurrences For April 1807

4 April. Mr. W. C. Clubley, appointed deputy secretary.

Government Orders.

Fort Cornwallis 10 April. The whole of the troops at the presidency to parade this afternoon, at half past four o'clock, in front of the Government-house, to attend the remains of the honourable Philip Dundas, late Governor &c., &c., &c., of this island, to the place of interment, with all military honours due to his high rank and station.

Lieutenant-colonel Basset to command.

Three rounds of light cartridges per man to be served to the 20th regiment, which corps only is to fire over the grave, on account of the narrowness of the ground.

Forty-five minute guns, corresponding with the years of age of the deceased, to be held in readiness to be fired during the funeral procession, and to be commenced by signal from the Government-house.

The Bengal artillery to furnish the carrying party.

The garrison colours to be hoisted at half mast at sun-rise, and continue until sun-set.

(signed) JOHN DRUMMOND, Town Major.

13 April. A salute of 19 guns to be fired, on H. S. Pearson Esq. taking his seat as governor of this island.

Also a salute of 11 guns on W. E. Phillips, Esq. taking his seat as member of council.

By order of the honourable the governor and council.

(signed) Thomas Raffles, Secretary to government.

Resident Councillors of Prince of Wales Island

Portrait Name Period in office Notes
William Clubley 1825–1826
Robert Ibbetson 1826–1 May 1830

Residents and Governors of the Residency of Prince of Wales Island, Singapore and Malacca (at George Town & Singapore)

Portrait Name Period in office Notes
Robert Fullerton (Resident) 1 May 1830 – 12 November 1830
Robert Ibbetson (Initially Resident) 12 November 1830 – 7 December 1833 [7][8][9][10]
[Kenneth Murchison] 7 December 1833 – 18 November 1836
Sir Samuel George Bonham, Bt 18 November 1836–January 1843

Deputy Residents and Resident Councillors, Prince of Wales Island

Portrait Name Period in office Notes
Robert Ibbetson (Deputy Resident) 1 May 1830 – 12 November 1830
Kenneth Murchison (Initially Deputy Resident) 12 November 1830 – 7 December 1833
James William Salmond 22 September 1834–1836 [11]
Captain James Low (acting) 1838
Edmund Augustus Blundell 1849–1855

In 1851 the Straits Settlements, while still remaining a Residency, was transferred from the authority of the Governor of the Presidency of Bengal and put under direct control of the Governor-general of India. The powers previously invested in the Governor of Bengal were now vested in the Governor of the Straits Settlements.

Colonial Office, United Kingdom

Lieutenant-Governors, Penang

On 1 April 1867 the Straits Settlements were transferred from the control of the Indian Government to that of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London (Colonial Office).

Resident Councillors, Penang

Japanese Occupation

Japanese Governors of Penang

British Military Administration

Military Governors of the Settlement of Penang

Malayan Union and Federation of Malaya

Resident Commissioners of the Settlement of Penang

Independent Federation of Malaya and Malaysia

Governors and Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the State of Penang

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "History of Penang". Visit Penang. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  2. "Appointment Of Persons To Important Posts". Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  3. "Role". Penang State Government. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  4. Memoir of Captain Francis light by Allan Maclean Skinner. 1895. Print. Page 17.
  5. Auber 1826, p. 743.
  6. Governor Fullerton moved the seat of the Straits Government from Penang to Singapore (12 November 1829), after which time Ibbetson assumed the role of governor of Penang, as the sole survivor of the officials appointed to the new Penang Presidency in 1805. The departure of the last Governor is also recorded in the Gazette. The issue of 29 August 1829 carries the following notification: "The Honorable the Governor, being about to proceed to Singapore and Malacca, NOTICE is hereby given that this station will cease to be the seat of Government from the date of his departure, and the charge of the settlement will devolve upon the Honorable Robert Ibbetson, Resident Councillor; to whom all local references will be made." -- New Ways of Knowing: The Prince of Wales Island Gazette—Penang’s First Newspaper by Geoff Wade, University of Hong Kong; Email, Presented at The Penang Story – International Conference 2002 18–21 April 2002, The City Bayview Hotel, Penang, Malaysia organised by The Penang Heritage Trust & STAR Publications
  7. 1831: Ibbetson signed the British Treaty with Rumbowe, 30 November 1831 as the Resident of Singapore, Prince of Wales' Island, Malacca and its dependencies. (See Newbold, 1839)
  8. 1832: Robert Ibbetson, Governor of Penang, Malacca and Singapore.
  9. Boundary Treaty with Johore, 15 June 1833.
  10. Political and Statistical account of the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca by Thomas John Newbold, published 1839.
  11. The Bengal directory and annual register Published by Samuel Smith & Co., 1838
  12. The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia Published by Parbury, Allen, and Co., 1838; Item notes: n.s. 25 (January–April 1838); p. 264
  13. The Western Malay States, 1850–1873: the effects of commercial development on Malay politics By Kay Kim Khoo Published by Oxford University Press, 1972; p. 90, 91, 113
  14. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society By Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Malayan Branch Published by The Branch, 1923; Item notes: v.56–58 1983–1985; p. 119
  15. The Complete Journal of Townsend Harris: First American Consul and Minister to Japan By Townsend Harris, Japan Society (New York, N.Y.), Mario Emilio Cosenza Published by Published for Japan Society, New York, by Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1930; p. 48, 75
  16. The British in West Sumatra (1685-1825).: A Selection of Documents, Mainly from the East India Company Records Preserved in the India Office Library, Commonwealth Relations Office, London By John Sturgus Bastin, John Bastin, India Office Library, East India Company Compiled by John Sturgus Bastin Published by University of Malaya Press, 1965; p. 178
  17. JMBRAS XXXIII L. A. Mills
  18. ANSON, ARCHIBALD EDWARD HARBORD About Others and Myself, London, John Murray. 1920
  19. Evans, William (b 1860) Resident Councillor, Penang
  20. India Office Records, 1600-1948, British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections


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