Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Rev Robert Sparke Hutchings

I was writing two weeks ago about the founding of the Penang Free School by the Reverend Robert Sparke Hutchings (b. 1782; d. 1827). Hutchings was one of the early pioneers in Penang. Not only was he credited with the inspiration to build the St George's Anglican Church that stands at the corner of Farquhar Street and Pitt Street, he contributed significantly to Penang's development from an educational perspective.

The Penang Free School is his most lasting legacy. There's also Hutchings Primary School which bears his name and located right behind the Penang State Museum which used to be one of the early premises of the Penang Free School until it relocated permanently to Green Lane in 1928.

It is unfortunate that Hutchings' background is lost in the mists of time. Only his final resting place at the old Protestant Cemetery in Northam Road reminds us of him. I don't know whether the Penang Free School still maintains this tradition but in the past, on Founder's Day (the 21st of October), the school prefects would gather at his graveside in the morning to drink a toast to him. In 1966, on the sesqui-centenary anniversary of the school, a plaque was erected to remember him as the Founder of the Penang Free School.

Rev RS Hutchings' final resting place in the Protestant Christian Cemetery in Northam Road, George Town

According to some genealogy records on the Internet, Hutchings married Elvira Phipps in 1818 and had three children: Sarah Hutchings, Robert Sparke Hutchings and Elvira Hutchings, all born in Penang. The younger Robert Hutchings, also a member of the clergy, was named Vicar of several churches in England.


bcooper397 said...

Most interesting story. Keep up the good work.

Kokd said...

Hello, interesting information.. could i use this content in my blog about penang free school? Thank you!

yagusmate said...

Fascinating History of Mr Hutchings. I am curious as to who Mr Hutchings sought permissions from the Build Penang Free School, SMK Hutchings School & St. George's Church. Was it the British Wast India Co in Chennai or Calcutta? Is it correct that the whole island of Penang, in those days was actually leased from the Sultan of Kedah via an agreement Capt Francis Light had with the then Sultan?