James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1850 – Chaufa Mungkut

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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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1850 – Chaufa Mungkut

Sir James Brooke was soon satisfied that, under the then reigning king, success was hopeless, as he had imbibed a strong prejudice against foreigners through the unjustifiable conduct of an English merchant, who had nearly ruined the prospects of our trade by an attempt to coerce the King into buying a steamer at four times its value. But what proved of importance was the confidential intercourse which took place with Chaufa Mungkut, the legal heir to the throne. This prince had retired to a monastery to avoid the persecution of the King, who was an illegitimate elder brother.

We readily gathered sufficient information as to the King’s ill-treatment of various British subjects to warrant our Government acting against him; but all our present advances were rejected. I may again repeat that had we arrived with a strong squadron, with ships which could have entered the river, and decided to proceed to Bangkok in a war vessel, there would have been little opposition to signing a treaty; but Sir James thought that not much would be gained by forcing a convention on the Siamese.

Satisfied that nothing could be done, Sir James sent to the Foreign Minister the value of all presents received, and we started for the mouth of the river in the state barges, and soon found ourselves on board the Sphynx on our way to Singapore. Our only success had been the discovery that Chaufa Mungkut was favourable to the English, that he was an educated prince, who could converse and correspond in our language, and that when he came to the throne he would be ready to negotiate.

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