James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – H.M.S. Samarang

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – H.M.S. Samarang

The next event of importance was the arrival of Sir Edward Belcher in H.M.S. Samarang. He had been sent to report on Sarawak and on Bornean affairs in general. He was a clever but very unpopular man, and made his ship the most uncomfortable in the service.

After a short stay in Sarawak, visiting the interior and making inquiries, he decided to proceed to Brunei and enter into communication with the Sultan. Brooke was to have accompanied him, but the Samarang had but just started to descend the river when she touched on a rock, and as the tide fell, she turned over on her side and filled with water.

It was a misfortune to the ship, but a blessing to Sarawak, as it drew general attention to Brooke’s settlement. By dint of the greatest exertion on the part of officers and crew, and the aid afforded by the native population, within eleven days the vessel was again afloat. In the meantime the ‘Royalist’ had been sent to Singapore for provisions and aid, and before twelve days had elapsed she returned with a ship of war. Others soon followed, to find the Samarang out of all danger.

As soon as her refit was completed, she sailed for Brunei with Brooke on board. His friends had pointed out to him that, to render his work in Sarawak permanent, he must obtain a grant in perpetuity from the Government of Brunei, and this he readily secured. More over, His Highness the Sultan wrote to Sir Edward Belcher expressing the strong desire of his Government to trade and their wish to co-operate in the suppression of piracy.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John


Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner