Reporting on Penang’s twin, Pulau Jerajah, 1787


In 1787, a few months after Francis Light settled in Penang on behalf of the East India Company, Captain Robert Kyd of the Bengal Engineers arrived to study the island’s harbour capabilities, the soil and the flora it supported, as well as the possible advantages the British could gain from the settlement in general. Kyd was a passionate horticulturalist and would become well known in India as General Kyd. There, he is best remembered as the man behind the famous Botanic Garden in Calcutta, incidentally founded in July that same year. The garden was renamed the Indian Botanic Garden in 1950. In his 1787 survey of Penang, Captain Kyd included a long paragraph about the island of “Jerajah”, which must surely be the earliest description of Penang Island’s little twin.

“The island of Jerajah is about two miles in length and one in breadth, it is very high and steep and thickly covered with wood in the same manner as Pinang, and upon this island alone are a very great number of Poon trees fit for masts for the largest ships. The water is very deep close the shore of the island but on the Pinang side there is a mud bank that runs from the shore about 300 yards and is dry at low water. From this mud bank it immediately deepens into five fathoms and continues deepening gradually over to Jerajah where there is for the most part six fathoms.

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