[Talk] Delving into Penang History: Casting light on Scott and Light, the brown Lights and the yellow Browns
A lighthearted Talk by Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, Founder Chairman, Penang Heritage Trust.
Date: 27 January 2024, Saturday
Time: 3.00 pm – 5.00 pm
Venue: Penang Institute, 10 Brown Road, 10350 George Town
Moderator: Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng, Executive Director, Penang Institute
A Bellevue Culture Club lecture event, co-organised by Penang Institute and Penang Heritage Trust.
The families of Francis Light, James Scott and David Brown feature strongly in the early history of the Prince of Wales Island. Documented insights into their descendants are however not well known, been misrepresented or have been fictionalised. The first in this seminar series on Early Penang History features a lighthearted talk by Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, Founder Chairman of Penang Heritage Trust, who will share some interesting aspects about these men and their offsprings.
On 27th January 2024, Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat was invited by Penang Institute to talk about Penang’s early history. While calling for the Penang public to appreciate Penang’s history, he emphasized the importance of verifying information and sources when conducting historical research, especially in this era where abundant information is available online but which oftentimes are erroneous.
Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat started his talk by showing pictures and paintings of Penang in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These were mainly from his 1986 book “Penang Views 1770-1860”, published by the Penang State Museum. “Penang Views” contains over one hundred exciting images, many of which are sourced from the Penang State Museum’s collections. These depicted buildings and landscapes from early Penang, including Gelugor House, Suffolk House, and Penang Hill; many of the drawings and paintings were the works of Captain Robert Smith.
Datuk Seri Lim shared his experience in researching the descendants of the early settlers such as Francis Light, James Scott, and David Brown. The process was a challenging one, which traced the life of their descendants from a sociological angle. Much of Datuk Seri Lim’s conclusions were based on crucial documents like the wills, portraits, and historical records of the descendants. He also unveiled the racial diversity within these family, discovering the presence of spouses and lovers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat also stressed the support these families provided in educating not only their biological descendants but also their adoptees.
In conclusion, Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat highlighted the urgent need for Penangites to assemble a group of informed individuals to fact-check information concerning historical research. The role of the Penang Library and of the Penang State Museum also needs to be strengthened to enable them to better safeguard precious collections and facilitate society’s understanding of Penang.