Captain Francis Light, George Town



Francis Light is the founder of the British Settlement of Prince of Wales Island, the name given by him for Penang. He is the kind of man that spells high sea adventure. I previously wrote that Francis Light was the illegitimate son of an English nobleman by the name of William Negus. However, according to Noël Francis Light Purdon, the 6-times great-grandson of Francis Light (see comment below), he was not the illigitimate son of Negus, rather Negus was paid to look after him and be his guardian through his schooling.

According to Purdon, Dallinghoo records state that Light was the son of one Mary Light while his father prefer to remain Incognito. He was born on 15 December, 1740 in Dallinghoo, Suffolk, England. While in the Royal Navy, he got acquainted with one James Scott was like him was also a midshipman.

Francis Light's Tomb, Protestant Cemetery, PenangFrancis Light's Tomb, Protestant Cemetery, Penang (23 February, 2009)


When he was in his twenties, he arrived in Madras where he became the master of the ship Speedwell. He worked for the firm of Jourdain Sulivan & De Souza, and traded between India, Aceh and the Malay peninsula. In 1765 he was instructed by his company to establish trading relations with the rulers of this part of the world.

Francis Light set up a trading base in Kedah, and had a working relationship with the Sultan of Kedah. Kedah was then under constant threat from Siam. In 1771, the Sultan of Kedah offered Penang to Francis Light in return for British Protection of Kedah. Light wrote to his superiors informing them of the Sultan's offer, but his letter was largely ignored.

A bitter Francis Light withdrew to Phuket in 1772, where he set up a trading business with his long time friend, James Scott. There he met a Portuguese Eurasian lady by the name of Martina Rozells. (According to Purdon, see below, there is no evidence that Martina was half Portuguese. Also, she and Light married according to local custom.) Together, they set up a trading post in Kuala Kedah. The Sultan of Kedah has given Light the permission to trade in Kuala Kedah, and all along the coast of the Sultanate of Kedah.

In 1785, Francis Light found out that the Burmese was about to Phuket. His warning helped the islanders successfully defend themselves.

Another view of Francis Light's TombAnother view of Francis Light's Tomb (23 February, 2009)


In February of 1786, Francis Light wrote to the Governor-General of India, telling him about Penang. He had learned that the British was looking for a trading post. He proposed two possible options: Phuket (also called Junk Ceylon at that time) and Penang. This time, he got the attention of the Sir John MacPherson, the Governor-General, who authorised him to negotiate with the Sultan of Kedah. By then, the young Sultan Abdullah had taken over the reign. Francis Light landed in Penang on 11 August 1786 and became the first Superintendent of the island, which he renamed Prince of Wales Island. To avoid a conflict of interest, Light let his business partner James Scott take care of his business.

He brought Martina, whom he never legally married, and their two illegitimate children seven-year-old Sarah and infant William to Penang, where he would father another two children, Lanoon and Lukey. His eldest son William was born in Kuala Kedah on 27 April of the same year, 1786. He was to become Colonel William Light, the founder of the city of Adelaide exactly fifty years after the founding of Penang.

Francis Light succumbed to malaria on 21 October, 1794, just eight years after the founding of Penang. He was buried at the Protestant Cemetery in Northam Road. The cemetery also holds the remains of his business partner James Scott.

Further Reading

  • Biography of Captain Francis Light
  • Suffolk House
  • Francis Light Statue
  • Fort Cornwallis
  • Francis Light Memorial
  • Phuket

    Your Made-In-Penang guide to visit, discover and enjoy Malaysia and Singapore!

    My mission with this website is to provide you the most detailed information of the places I've research, many accompanied with my own photographs. It's information I hope you'd find useful. It's not just about Penang, but about other cities too, including Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Johor Bahru, Ipoh, Alor Setar, Taiping, Klang, Sungai Petani and more. I have also written about major tourist destinations such as Langkawi and Cameron Highlands, as well as smaller destinations such as Kuala Sepetang. So are all the states in Malaysia - Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu. And also Singapore too!

    Latest Pages & Updates on this website





    Visiting Penang? Consider a "Friend of Penang Travel Tips" hotel !

    The Friends of Penang Travel Tips Hotels are hotels that maintain a close working relationship with this website. So, I know these hotels better than the rest in Penang. If you're looking for a hotel room in Penang, you do well to consider them.

    Mainstream Hotels with 100 guestrooms and above: Cititel Express, Cititel Hotel Penang, Copthorne Orchid Hotel, Hotel Equatorial Penang, Iconic Hotel Penang, Olive Tree Hotel, Parkroyal Penang Resort, Sunway Hotel Georgetown and The Wembley.
    Small Hotels with less than 100 guestrooms: Le Dream Boutique Hotel, Spices Boutique Residence, Sweet Cili Hotel

    Even more sights to discover on Penang Travel Tips!

    About me

    My name is and Penang Travel Tips is my website - yay! I created this website to satisfy my own curiosity about the world around me, but I'm glad the information I've assembled can be helpful to others. As a Christian, my hope is that through this website, the sunshine of God's Good News can beam into every corner of the world and connect with every living soul needing it. To get in touch with me, complete the contact form right here. Thanks for visiting!

    Social Media Presence

    To interact with me, join any/all of my Facebook Groups: Penang Travel Tips, Exploring Malaysia, Big World Out There, My Little Bookshelf, Learn Penang Hokkien, Penang Street Art, Penang Hawker Food, Penang Restaurant Food, Masa Masak, Penang Residential Properties and Armchair Traveler.

    Disclaimer

    I try my best to provide you the latest and most accurate information. However, please bear in mind that details change all the time, often before I have the chance to update them. Therefore, I would always encourage you to phone in and re-verify the information. I do apologize if the information I provide to you turns out to be inaccurate or outdated, and I would be most grateful if you would could help to update me should you discover the right information. Your feedback helps other users.

    Using the information and photos on this website

    You are allowed to print out any page of this website to carry with you on your travels, for your own personal use. You may reference and link to any page of this website from your blog/website without seeking my permission. You are NOT ALLOWED to copy and paste, word-for-word, the information of this website into your own blog or website. Photos belonging to me (those captioned © Timothy Tye) may only be used with my permission. Photos belonging to other people bear licenses that have to be observed accordingly. Contact me to seek permission or to ask a question.



    Copyright © 2003-2016 Timothy Tye. All Rights Reserved.