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.
James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1849 – Fever
Finding he could not shake off the fever and ague contracted during our expeditions, Sir James decided to proceed to the island of Penang, one of the Straits Settlements, where he had been offered the use of Governor Butterworth’s bungalow on a hill more than two thousand feet above the sea level. Hearing, however, that his officers in Labuan were at loggerheads, he decided first to proceed to that colony and investigate the cause of these dissensions. We left Sarawak on then 11th December, reaching our destination on the 14th; and it was time indeed that the Governor should arrive. Our few days were prolonged to over ten weeks, as an inquiry had to be instituted into the conduct of the Lieutenant-Governor. Though I do not think that anything was proved against his personal honour, it was clearly established that his violent temper and quarrelsome disposition rendered him unsuited for the position, and Sir James Brooke suspended him from his functions.
While this inquiry was going on, we proceeded to Brunei to see the Sultan, and heard, whilst we were in the capital, that the Chinese traders were most anxious to remove to our colony, but I do not believe they ever really intended to do so. They had built houses for themselves in the capital, and were doing a thriving trade on a small scale; and unless they all agreed to move at the same time, none would move. The Bornean Malay traders also talked of migrating from the capital to a spot opposite the colony. The slave question would prevent their establishing themselves within its boundaries; but it is always a difficult thing for men to abandon their homes, and in this case, as the power of the Brunei Government was broken, they no longer feared oppression. So the colony remained stagnant.
Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John
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