Inhabitants of Penang, 1803


After Captain Norman MacAlister had served for over a decade as the Commander of the Artillery Upon Prince Of Wales Island, he published in 1803 a book lengthily titled Historical Memoir relative to Prince of Wales Island in the Straits of Malacca: and its Importance Political and Commercial (London: J.H. Hart of Warwik-Square, Newgate Street).

The 38-page typewritten volume was conceived more as a report to the East India Company and the British Government in London than as a public document. Certain sections that had apparently been planned originally were therefore excluded “for security reasons”, as we would put it today. At the time the account was being submitted, Penang was insufficiently guarded by only half an artillery company and two companies of “Sea-poys”, and so the author decided not to extrapolate too much on a plan of “the South and North Harbours of the Prince of Wales Island”, as well as “a Landscape of the ...

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