Protestant Cemetery is the oldest Christian cemetery in Penang. It was set up in the 18th-century for British colonial administrators, traders and missionaries that arrived after George Town establishment in 1786. The Protestant Cemetery was used until the late 19th century, until the Western Road Cemetery was created on a bigger piece of land. However it is today recognised for its historic value as the final resting place of the early founders and administrators of the colonial settlement and trading post of George Town.
Mature frangipani trees sweeten the air for those who want to stroll along and check out the graves at the Protestant Cemetery.
Captain Francis Light a British explorer and the founder of George Town, as well as that of his business partner James Scott, are also in the cemetery. Movie buffs will be interested to know that Thomas Leonowens is buried here in 1859, leaving his widow stranded in the East. He was the husband of Anna, the self-same Anna of The King & I or Anna & the King fame. Also buried there are many of the early governors of Penang, many of whom succumbed to tropical diseases such as malaria.
The area was surrounded by paddy fields and vegetable farming, was at the edge of town. Over time, these lands gave way to village houses in the early 19th century. Today it is right within George Town itself, as the city has expanded far beyond its original boundaries.
It is older than many better-known burial grounds such as Père Lachaise in Paris, Powązki in Warsaw, the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna, and Highgate Cemetery in London. In 2012, conservation works were undertaken to protect and preserve the site.