Protestant Cemetery, Penang


Most people get a little creeped out when they walk by a cemetery at night. I get excited at the thought. Old cemeteries interest me because of the stories one can learn from them. These peaceful places of rest for the dead are full of history and provide a glimpse of those who once lived or traveled nearby.

While walking back to our hotel one night in Penang, we passed the Protestant Cemetery on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. The gate was locked, so we had to come back the next day to check it out.

The Protestant Cemetery is the final resting place of many prominent people in Penang's history, including Francis Light, the founder of the British colony of Penang and its capital, George Town. For a really cool 360 degree look at the cemetery from in front of Light's tomb, go here.

Thomas Leonowens is also buried at this cemetery. Most people seem to be more familiar with his young widow, Anna. After her husband's death, Anna was employed as a teacher by Mongkut, the King of Siam. She was hired to teach "his 39 wives and concubines and 82 children a modern Western education on scientific secular lines." Anna wrote about her experience in the royal court, which was later turned into a play and movie called The King and I

Sir Stamford Raffles' brother-in-law, Quintin Thompson, is buried here as well (Jeff wondered if they're related). His tomb marker has been placed on a wall which separates the Protestant Cemetery from the Catholic Cemetery in the adjacent lot; several tomb markers were placed on the wall because they fell off the tombs and couldn't be correctly matched up again.

According to the Find a Grave website (yes, there is such a thing), there are 338 known graves in the cemetery. People from all walks of life are buried here, a testament to the diverse population that helped shape Penang into the town it is today. 


  1. I love the way you are telling us the story of cemeteries... I would never ever think of checking them out also I agree that they are amazing witnesses of the past.
    You got me hooked on this one, also because your pictures are so beautiful.
    Don't ask me to go there at night though!

  2. Looks a fascinating place with so much history to share.

  3. I love cemeteries. Love your photos. Fond memories of this one from history trips up north. I've still got (distant) relatives in Melaka and Penang!

  4. One of my fav posts so far fren. i miss you! i was just talkin to my new roomie about about you yesterday and how you are about death. funny that here is a perfect example of what i was sharing with her. big hugs to all of you.

  5. Been here many times over the years, it is a beautiful old cemetary. Wear plenty of mosquito repellant. I was eaten alive walking through the grass.


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