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Claimant Place, George Town, Penang

Claimant Place, George Town

Claimant Place is a short narrow street within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site. It links Rope Walk to the west with the intersection between Carnavon Street and Kampung Kolam to the east.

Interestingly, the street was named after a 19th. century lawsuit in the United Kingdom that was totally unrelated to Penang. The case, which involved an imposter claiming the identity of a missing person, gripped the attention of the entire British Empire, hence the street's name.

Claimant Place sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Claimant Place sign, featuring its Chinese name.

The Central Police Station occupies the southern side of Claimant Place, while a row of shophouses and part of the Campbell Street Market lie along the northern side of the street.

Etymology

Claimant Place was named after the Tichborne case in the late 19th. century, in which an imposter, Arthur Orton, claimed to be Roger Tichborne, who was presumed dead during an expedition to South America.

Roger Tichborne

Roger Tichborne was presumed dead off South America in 1854, but his mother refused to accept the news of his death and advertised for his whereabouts in all newspapers.

Roger Tichborne, heir to an ancient Hampshire baronetcy, had evidently drowned off South America in 1854. Roger's mother refused to accept that he was dead and subsequently advertised for his whereabouts in all the newspapers at the time.

Arthur Orton, the imposter

Arthur Orton, the imposter who claimed to be Roger Tichborne. His motivation was primarily financial; he was in debt when he found the advertisement by Roger's mother.

Encouraged by a local solicitor in South America, Arthur Orton, who was heavily in debt, returned to London in 1866, claiming to be Roger Tichborne. He met Roger's mother, Lady Tichborne, in Paris; although Orton's fat constitution was obviously in contrast to Roger's thin appearance, Lady Tichborne was so thrilled that she accepted him as her son without question.

Members of the Tichborne family were not so easily duped, however. In the 1870s, the Tichborne family attempted to bring the imposter to court. The lawyers of the Tichborne family thoroughly investigated Orton's life and discovered that Orton was, in fact, the child of a butcher in London, a dead giveaway, considering the Tichbornes' aristocratic background.

Despite Orton's public popularity, he was eventually found guilty of perjury and sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1874. The trial lasted for 188 days, one of the longest of its type in British legal history.

Even after he was released from prison in 1884, Orton continued to press his claim as Roger Tichborne by touring musical halls across London. He died, ironically, on April Fool's Day in 1894, and during his funeral, a card inscribed with the words 'Sir Roger Tichborne' was placed on his coffin.

The Tichborne case caught the attention of the whole British Empire at the time, including the Straits Settlements. Hence, the street was named Claimant Place.

History

Claimant Place has been in existence since at least the late 19th. century. It was named after the aforementioned Tichborne case, which aroused a great deal of interest throughout the entire British Empire at the time.

Campbell Street Market, built by the George Town Municipal Council in the 1900s, stretches all the way to the eastern end of Claimant Place at the junction with Carnavon Street and Kampung Kolam.

The Central Police Station, once located at the junction between Light Street and Beach Street to the north, was finally relocated here sometime in the 20th. century.

Notable Landmarks

From west to east :

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.28 Komtar State Assemblyman : Teh Lai Heng (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/claimant-place.htm
  2. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/orton-arthur-4341
  3. http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Imposters/

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