Saturday, July 31, 2010

Penang & East India Company(1786-1858)

Penang & East India Company

Penang was one of the two British ports in Southeast Asia belonging to the East India Company. It had been founded in 1786. The other British settlement was Beencoolen on the West Coast of Sumatra. Bencoolen had been founded about a hundred years earlier than Penang.

11 Aug 1786 - Prince of Wales Island colony (under British East India Company)ceded to Britain by Sultan of Kedah.
Jun 1801 - Province Wellesley on mainland added (confirmed Nov 1802).
1805 - 1830 - Prince of Wales Island Presidency (under British East India Co.)
1867 - Renamed Penang Island.
14 Aug 1826 - Part of Straits Settlements, with Singapore & Malacca.
1 Apr 1867 - Crown colony

Originally part of the Malay sultanate of Kedah, Penang was ceded to the British East India Company in 1786 by the Sultan of Kedah, in exchange for military protection from Siamese and Burmese armies who were threatening Kedah. On 11 August 1786, Captain Francis Light, known as the founder of Penang, hoisted the Union Jack thereby taking formal possession of Penang and renamed it Prince of Wales Island (name used until after 1867) in honour of the heir to the British throne. Penang was the first British possession in the Malay States and Southeast Asia.

The location of the island at the opening of the Straits of Malacca attracted the British East India Company to use the island as a natural harbour and anchorage for their trading ships, and as a naval base to counter growing French ambitions in the region. The settlement on the north-eastern tip of the island was named George Town after King George III of Great Britain.

From 1786 to 1805 Penang was a "Residency" under the direct control of the Governor of Bengal. The original governors of Penang were Superintendents appointed by the Governor-general in Calcutta, subject to the Bengal Government and were retained on a very small salary by the British East India Company. They were not members of the Indian Civil Service nor were they attached to any of the garrisons or military forces of the British East India Company. They were civilian traders who spent part of their time on the governance and administration of the island and part on their own personal commercial activities. Superintendents mediated and arbitrated in local disputes but had no formal of local jurisdiction. Light had argued for the need for well-paid, full-time administrators with complete responsibility and full powers of jurisdiction backed up with sufficient resources to enforce that authority, but this did not come for another fourteen years

EIC Bengal|Residency of Prince of Wales' Island|Superintendents
From 1800 to 1805, the governors of Penang were changed from Superintendents to
Lieutenant-Governor who rule over Prince of Wales Island and Province Wellesley.

EIC Bengal|Residency of Penang: Prince of Wales' Isle & Province Wellesley (Lieut.-Gov)
In 1805 Penang's Colonial status elevated to that of an independent Presidency from that date till 1829 and was also known as the Eastern Presidency under the direct control of the Governor-General of India. This change was likely the catalyst for the founding of the Government Gazette in 1806. The new Government consisted of three councillors in addition to the Governor and 11 other officers. The Gazette subsequently dutifully recorded the arrival of new governors and appointment of new councillors

EIC India|Presidency of the Straits Settlements at Penang- Governor & Resident Councillor
The Presidency of the Straits Settlements, also known as the Eastern Presidency, under the control of the Indian Government, was formed on 1 August 1826 by the amalgamation of the three Settlements of Singapore (including Christmas Island and the Cocos-Keeling group), Penang (including Province Wellesley), and Malacca, with the seat of Government at Penang.

EIC India|Presidency of the Straits Settlements at Singapore|Governor & Resident Councillor
Fullerton moved the seat of Government of the Eastern Presidency from Penang to Singapore and left the direct charge of the settlement of Penang (Prince of Wales' Island and Province Wellesley) in the hands of its Resident Councillor.

EIC Bengal|Residency of the Straits Settlements at Singapore|Governor & Resident Councillor
The Presidency was abolished on 1 May 1830 and the Presidency of the Straits Settlements was downgraded to a single Residency, constituted by the three settlements, under direct control of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal. There was a consequent large reduction in public personnel. By 1832 there were only nine appointed officials to administer the three Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. From this time onwards the surviving civil servants would each take on several different roles, so many roles left vacant due to retrenchment following the downgrading.

EIC Bengal|Residency of the Straits Settlements at Penang|Resident & Deputy-Residents
Office of Governor of the Straits Settlement retained but title changed to Resident. Resident Councillors replaced with Deputy-Residents.

EIC Bengal|Residency of the Straits Settlements at Singapore|Governor & Resident Councillor
Kenneth Murchison moved the seat of Government of the Residency of the Straits Settlements. Once again Singapore became the capital of the Straits Settlements. Roles and titles of Governor and Resident Councillor restored.

EIC India|Residency of the Straits Settlements at Singapore|Governor & Resident Councillor
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.

1858 - EIC abolished
In 1858 the British East India Company was abolished and the Straits Settlements automatically fell under the direct control of the India Office which replaced the Company.The India Office was established under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1858. This act transferred the powers and functions of the British East India Company to the Crown, which continued to function as the ultimate ruler of India until 1947, when British India was partitioned into the independent states of India and Pakistan.The Viceroy of India was the head of the British administration in India. However, he reported directly to the Secretary of State for India, a British government minister, and through him to the Cabine.

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).

The East India Company(EIC)

The history of British India is that of the East India Company until 1858. The original company which was set up to trade on the mainland of India and in the Spice Islands (East Indies) was incorporated in 1600. The first trading post, known as a station or factory, was set up at Surat on the West Coast (Bombay Presidency) around 1612 and the second at Fort St. George (Madras Presidency) 1640. Bombay was leased to the company by Charles II who had acquired it as part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry in 1662. The mouth of the Ganges was known as Kallikati (Calcutta) and here Fort William was established around 1665. These three factories in time developed to become the three Presidencies of India, each controlling the ever-growing areas around them. Until 1813 the Company had a complete monopoly of all trade east of the Cape of Good Hope across to Cape Horn, that is all of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. No British subject could go to India without the permission of the East India Company or live there without a licence granted by them.

The East India Company's influence spread with Fort Marlborough (Bencoolen) being established in Sumatra. For a time this was a Presidency in its own right controlling other factories along the west coast. Other factories were at the Prince of Wales Island (Penang), Singapore, Malacca, Java, Borneo, Celebes, Siam (Thailand), Persia (Iran) and the Persian Gulf, Macao and Whampoa (China). St Helena was settled by the East India Company in 1659 and was held and administered by them until the island was handed over to the Crown in 1836.

The rival French company, Compagnie des Indes, was established in the 18th century and succeeded the Dutch as Britain's chief rival in Asia. For the first time the Company was in conflict with the Indian people as both the English and French enlisted the local Indian rulers to further their cause. The East India Company also enlisted armed forces in Britain and over the years accrued more and more Indian territory. This was against the wishes of the London Directors and the Government. In 1773 the Government intervened to create the Bengal Governor as Governor-General of all the Company's Indian lands. Later a London Board of Control was appointed to supervise the East India Company.

The establishment of the Straits Settlements followed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, by which the Malay archipelago was divided into a British zone in the north and a Dutch zone in the south. This resulted the exchange of the British settlement of Bencoolen (on Sumatra) for the Dutch colony of Malacca and undisputed control of Singapore. Its capital was moved from Penang to Singapore in 1832.

In 1857 the Indian Mutiny took place in northern India (the Seepoy uprising). The following year 1858 the British Government effectively brought the Company to an end. India was then governed by London through a Viceroy in Calcutta and later Delhi until independence was granted in 1947.

(source: wikipedia)

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