George Caunter

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George Caunter governed the Prince of Wales' Island (Penang Island) as Acting Superintendent in 1797 during Superintendent Major Forbes Ross MacDonald's leave of absence and again in 1799 upon the resignation and departure of MacDonald. He served as Acting Superintendent until the arrival of Sir George Alexander William Leith in 1800.[1]

George Caunter, a Second Lieutenant in 13 April 1781[2] became a Reduced Second Lieutenant (13 April 1781) in the Royal Marines, put on half-pay from 22 March 1792.[3][4][5][6]

Superintendent Major MacDonald passed on in early 1799 during his second absence from Penang. George Caunter was also his locum tenens during MacDonald's first absence, and succeeded Macdonald as Acting Superintendent until the arrival of Lt. Gov. George Leith.[7] Caunter was a Magistrate of the Island with Philip Manington Jr., apparently a son of the first Philip Mannington who succeeded Capt. Francis Light as his second or assistant. On September 8, 1797 when Major Macdonald left for Bengal on leave, Philip Mannington Jr. took over as Magistrate.[6][8][9]

George Caunter was First Assistant in Sir George Alexander William Leith's Government with Philip Manington as Second Assistant, William Edward Phillips as Secretary, James Hutton as Surgeon and Henry Waring as Assistant Surgeon.[10] Governor George Alexander William Leith appointed Caunter the Lay Chaplain at Penang in 1800.[11] In February 1803, he applied for compensation on account of expenses incurred by him while engaged as Acting Superintendent during the earlier absence, and, later, the death of Superintendent Forbes Ross MacDonald, stating, "It will not, I hope, be deemed improper in me to observe that in taking charge of the Superintendence of this island, I considered it to be my duty to support the credit and dignity of the station to the best of my ability, and therefore continued to keep a public table for strangers, and to give the usual annual public dinners as had been customary with the Superintendents, and I trust the expenses thereby incurred will not be deemed lavish when the times during the above period, considerable fleets and armaments were in the port and some of them for many weeks at a time."[12] George Caunter had been deputed by Lt.-Gov. Leith to negotiate the treaty with Kedah leading to British possession of Province Wellesley in 1800.[13] Caunter was appointed chaplain around the early part of 1800.[14]

George Caunter's appointments as First Assistant, Chaplain and Treasurer appear to have ceased in 1805.[15]


  1. ^ Singapore Chronicle and Commercial Register, 9 January 1836, Page 2
  2. ^ 'Second Lieutenants,' in The Navy List, Corrected to the end of December 1814. London: John Murray for the Admiralty Office. 1815. Page 34.
  3. ^ 'Marine Officers on Half-Pay,' in A List of the Army and Marines; A List of the Officers on Half Pay; And a Succession of Colonels. The Thirty-Fifth Edition. War-Office. 15th Feb. 1787. Page 351.
  4. ^ 'List of the Reduced Officers of his Majesty's Royal Marine Forces,' in A List of the Officers of His Majesty's Royal Marine Forces. London: M and S Brooke for the Admiralty Office. 1st January 1803. Page 55.
  5. ^ 'Officers of the Royal Marines [Ordnance Department 1821] on Half-Pay,' in A List of the Orricers of the Army and Royal Marines on Full and Half-Pay. War Office. 1st January 1821. Page 361.
  6. ^ a b Kyshe, James William Norton. Cases Heard and Determined in Her Majesty's Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements 1808-1884 Vol I Civil Cases. Singapore: Singapore and Straits Printing Office. 1885. Print. Pages viii, x, xi, xii, xiii, xxxiv.
  7. ^ 'Notices of Pinang,' in in The Journal of The Indian Archipelago Vol V. Singapore: G. M. Frederick for J. R. Logan. 1851. Print. Page 118
  8. ^ In 1797, while he was Magistrate, George Caunter had the heads of a Chinese man and woman shaved and ordered them to stand in the pillory, as punishment for adultery (Purcell, Victor. The Chinese in Malaya. 1948. Print. Page 49; and The Chinese in Southeast Asia. 1965. Print. Page 246).
  9. ^ Caunter and Manington took turns at the bench, never sitting together except in capital cases when they were also joined by the Superintendent as President of the Court. There is no record of when Caunter was appointed or when he arrived in Penang but Court papers up to 1811 mention him as 'Police Magistrate.' He died in April 1812 (Malaya Law Review, Volumes 11-12. 1969. Pages 41, 42, and 142).
  10. ^ 'A List of the Honourable United East-India Company's Covenanted Civil Servants on the Bengal Establishment,' in New Oriental Register and East India Directory for 1802. London: Black's and Parry. Page 6.
  11. ^ The Straits Times, 26 May 1956, Page 9
  12. ^ 'Notices of Pinang,' in The Journal of The Indian Archipelago Vol V. Singapore: G. M. Frederick for J. R. Logan. 1851. Print. Page 365.
  13. ^ 'Notices of Pinang,' in in The Journal of The Indian Archipelago Vol V. Singapore: G. M. Frederick for J. R. Logan. 1851. Print. Page 354.
  14. ^ 'From Govr George Leith (POWI) to Chief Secretary to Govt G. H. Barlow (Fort William) dated 10th May 1800, Notices of Pinang,' in in The Journal of The Indian Archipelago Vol V. Singapore: G. M. Frederick for J. R. Logan. 1851. Print. Page 163.
  15. ^ From the Hon'ble Court of Directors to Govr Phillip Dundas, 2nd John Hope Oliphant, 3rd Alexander Gray and 4th Colonel Norman Macalister read in council on 20th Deptember 1805,' in The Journal of The Indian Archipelago Vol VI. Singapore:G. M. Frederick for J. R. Logan. 1852. Page 31.