The lighthouse was built over an outcrop of rocks that for centuries was identified on maps as Pedra Branca (“white rock” in Portuguese). It was built by John Turnbull Thomson (1821–1884), a government surveyor. In the presence of Governor William John Butterworth and other dignitaries, the lighthouse foundation stone was laid on 24 May 1850 and the lighthouse was completed in 1851. The lighthouse is also known as Pedra Branca Lighthouse.

Horsburgh Lighthouse was named after Captain James Horsburgh (28 September 1762 – 14 May 1836), a Scottish hydrographer from the East India Company, who mapped many seaways around Singapore in the late 18th and early 19th century.

This oldest lighthouse in Singapore and Southeast Asia is located approximately 54 kilometres (34 mi) to the east of Singapore and 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from the Malaysian state of Johor.

On the wall of the Visitor’s Room on the sixth floor of the lighthouse under the light room there is a panel with the following inscription:

Pharos Ego
Cui nomen praebuit
Horsburgh Hydrographus
In maribus Indo Sinicis praeter omnes praeclarus
Angliae Mercatorum nisi imprimis indole
Ex imperii opibus Anglo Indici denique constructa
Saluti nautarum insignis viri memoriae
W. J. Butterworth, C. B.,
Prov: Malacc. Praef.

Translated literally into English, the Latin inscription reads:

I, the lighthouse, to whom was given the name of Horsburgh the Hydrographer who is famous beyond all others in the Indo-Chinese sea, was constructed, if not primarily by the natural talents of the English merchants, then certainly by the power of the Anglo-Indian empire, for the salvation of sailors and in memory of the famous man, during the consulate of W. J. Butterworth, C. B., governor of the province of Malacca, in 1851.

According to Wikipedia.