Filling a major gap in historiography, Marcus Langdon offers a meticulous reconstruction of the formative period of Penang’s development. A little over two centuries ago Penang had the distinction of being elevated as the fourth most important settlement – a presidency – of the British East India Company’s Indian territories. This fateful decision emerged from powerful historical forces that were reshaping the modern world: the expansion of international trade networks linking Europe with India and China; the intensification of new patterns of migration in Southeast Asia; and growing rivalries between European powers and their impact on local states. Drawing on unrivalled access to original correspondence, reports, newspapers and contemporary accounts, Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India presents an in-depth and compelling narrative of a fascinating story. The first of a three-volume series, the focus here is on the role shipbuilding played, the leading political personalities and two historic buildings that highlight the struggles, successes and failures of the early settlement. Beautifully illustrated with paintings, engravings and maps – many previously unpublished – this volume and those that follow will be the authoritative reference for historians and general readers for generations to come.