James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Taking Oaths

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Taking Oaths

Everything now appeared to be arranged, when the Bishop remarked that perhaps Mr Charles Johnson might not quite approve of the conduct of the Chinese in killing his uncle and friends. At the mention of Johnson’s name there was a pause. A blankness came over their countenances, and they looked at each other as they now remembered, apparently for the first time, that he, the Rajah’s nephew, was the resolute and popular ruler of the Sakarangs, and could let loose at least ten thousand wild warriors upon them. At last it was suggested, after an animated discussion, that a letter should be sent to him requesting him to confine himself to his own government, and then they would not attempt to interfere with him.

They appeared also to have forgotten that there were Sadong, under Mr Fox, and Rejang, under Mr Steel, who, between them, could bring thousands into the field, and that Seribas also was panting for an opportunity to find fresh enemies. All this never seemed to have occurred to them before undertaking their insensate expedition.

The Chinese were very anxious to have matters settled at Kuching, as, with all their boasts, they were not feeling comfortable. They were not only anxious to secure the plunder they had obtained, but the leaders knew that the Rajah was not killed, and what he might be preparing was uncertain. They therefore called upon the European gentlemen and the Malay chiefs present to swear fidelity to the Gold Company, and under the fear of instant death they were obliged to go through the formula of taking oaths with the sacrifice of fowls.

Next day the rebels retired up-country unmolested by the Malays, and a meeting was at once held at the Datu Bandhar’s house to discuss future proceedings. At first no one spoke. There was a gloom over the assembly, as the mass of the population was deserting the town, carrying off their women and children to the neighbouring district of Samarahan as a place of safety, when Abang Patah, son of the Datu Tumangong, addressed his countrymen. He was a sturdy man, with a pleasant, cheerful countenance, and a warm friend to English rule, and his first words were, “Are we going to submit to be governed by Chinese chiefs, or are we to remain faithful to our Rajah? I am a man of few words, and I say I will never be governed by anyone but by him, and to-night I commence war to the knife against his enemies.”

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Wild Confusion

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 – 1857 – Wild Confusion

When morning broke in Kuching, there was a scene of the wildest confusion. The six hundred rebels, joined by the Chinese vagabonds of the town, half stupefied by opium, were wandering about in every direction, discharging their muskets loaded with ball cartridges. But at eight o’clock the chiefs of the Gold Company sent a message to the Bishop of Sarawak, requesting him to come down and attend the wounded. He did so, and found thirty-two stretched out, most of them from shot wounds; but among them he noticed a man with a gash across his face from the last blow Mr Crymble had struck at the rebels; and before the Bishop’s arrival they had buried five of their companions.

Poor Mrs Crookshank had lain on the ground all night, desperately wounded, and with extraordinary coolness and courage had shammed death whilst the rebels tore the rings from her fingers, or cut at her head with their swords. Her life was saved by her mass of braided hair. Early in the morning her servant found her still living, and went and informed the Bishop, who had great difficulty in persuading the Kungsi to allow him to send for her. She arrived in the mission house in a dreadful state.

It was soon evident that, in the intoxication of victory, the Chinese aimed now, if not before, at the complete domination of the country, and summoned the Bishop, Mr Helms, agent for the Borneo Company, Mr Ruppell, an English resident, and the Datu Bandhar to appear at the Court House. The Europeans were obliged to attend the summons. The Malay chief also came, but with great reluctance, and contrary to the advice of the Datu Imaun, his more energetic brother; but he thought it expedient to gain time.

The Chinese chiefs, even in their most extravagant moments of exultation, were in great fear that on their return up the river the Malays might attack them in their crowded boats and destroy them, as on the water they felt their inferiority to their maritime enemies.

It must have been an offensive sight to the Europeans and the Malays to witness the arrangements in the Court House on that day of disaster. In the Rajah’s chair sat the chief of the Gold Company, supported on either side by the writers or secretaries, while the representatives of the now apparently subdued sections took their places on the side benches. The Chinese chief then issued his orders, which were that Mr Helms and Mr Ruppell should undertake to rule the foreign portion of the town, and that the Datu Bandhar should manage the Malays, while the Gold Company, as supreme rulers, should superintend the whole and govern exclusively the up-country districts. During this time the Europeans could see the head of Mr Nicoletts carried about on a pole to reassure the Chinese that the dreaded Rajah had really been killed. The Chinese chiefs knew better, but they thought to impose upon their ignorant followers.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Abang Buyong

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Abang Buyong

The confusion which reigned throughout the rest of the town may be imagined, as, startled by the shouts and yells of the Chinese, the inhabitants rushed to the doors and windows and beheld night turned into day by the bright flames which rose in three directions where the Rajah’s, Crookshank’s and Middleton’s large houses were all burning at the same time.

It was at first very naturally thought that the Chinese contemplated a massacre of the Europeans, but messengers were soon despatched to them by the Kungsi to say that nothing was further from their intention than to interfere with those who were unconnected with the Government, which refinement of policy shows that the plan had been concocted by more subtle brains than those possessed by the gold workers of Bau.

The Rajah had, as soon as possible, proceeded to the Datu Bandhar’s house, and being quickly joined by his English officers, endeavoured to organise a force with which to surprise the victorious Chinese; but it was impossible. No sooner did he collect a few men than their wives and children surrounded them and refused to be left behind; and being without proper arms and ammunition, it was but a panic-stricken mob. So he instantly took his determination, with that decision which had been the foundation of his success, and, giving up the idea of an immediate attack, advised the removal of the women to the left-hand bank of the river, where they would be safe from a land attack of the Chinese, who could make their way along the right-hand bank of the river by a road which ran at the back of the town.

This removal was accomplished by the morning, when the small party of English under the Rajah walked over to the little river of Siol, which falls into the Santubong branch of the Sarawak river. At the mouth of the Siol the Rajah found the war boat of Abang Buyong, with sixty men, waiting for him, which was soon joined by six others and many canoes, for no sooner did the Malays of the neighbouring villages hear where the Rajah was than they began flocking to him. He now started for the Samarahan, intending to proceed to the Balang Lupar to organise an expedition from the well-supplied forts there. On their way they rested at the little village of Sabang, and to the honour of the Malay character I must add that never during the height of his power and prosperity did he receive so much sympathy, tender attention and delicate generosity as now, when a defeated fugitive. They vied with each other as to who should supply him and his party with clothes and food, since they had lost all; and if to know that he was enshrined in the hearts of the people was any consolation to him in his misfortunes, he then had ample proofs of it. No wonder that in reading these accounts the Daily News, hitherto so hostile to him, should say, “We have sincere pleasure in proclaiming our unreserved admiration of the manner in which he must have exercised his power to have produced such fruits.”.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – The Stockade

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – The Stockade

The stockades, however, were not surprised. The Chinese, waiting for the signal which was to be the attack on the houses, were at length perceived by a sentinel, and he immediately roused the Treasurer, Mr Crymble, who resided in the stockade which contained the arsenal and the prison. He endeavoured to make some preparation for defence, although he had but four Malays with him. He had scarcely time, however, to load a six-pounder field-piece, and get his own rifle ready, before the Chinese, with loud shouts, rushed to the assault. They were led by a man who bore in either hand a flaming torch. Mr Crymble waited until they were within forty yards; he then fired and killed the man who, by the lights he bore, made himself conspicuous, and before the crowd recovered from the confusion in which they were thrown by the fall of their leader, discharged among them the six-pounder loaded with grape, which made the assailants retire behind the neighbouring houses or hide in the outer ditches. But with four men little could be done; and some of the rebels, having crossed the inner ditch, began to remove the planks which constituted the sole defence. To add to the garrison’s difficulties, they threw over into the inner court little iron tripods, with flaming torches attached, which rendered it as light as day, whilst they remained shrouded in darkness.

To increase the number of defenders Mr Crymble released the sole occupants of the prison – a fraudulent debtor and a Malay madman who had killed his wife in a fit of fury. The former quickly disappeared, whilst the latter, regardless of the shot flying around, stood to the post assigned him, opposite a plank the Chinese were trying to remove. He had orders to fire as soon as the first assailant appeared, and when the plank gave way and a man attempted to force his body through, he pulled the trigger of his carbine, without lowering the muzzle, and sent the ball through his own brains. Mr Crymble now found it useless to prolong the struggle. One of his four men was killed, and another, a brave Malay corporal, was shot down at his side. The wounded man begged Mr Crymble to fly and leave him to his fate, but asked him to shake hands with him first and tell him whether he had not done his duty. The brave Irishman seized him by the arm and endeavoured to drag him up the stairs leading to the dwelling over the gate; but the Chinese had already gained the courtyard, and pursuing them, drove their spears through the wounded man. Mr Crymble was forced to let go his hold, and with a brave follower, Daud, swung himself down into the ditch below. Some of the rebels outside the fort, seeing their attempted escape, tried to stop the Treasurer, and a man stabbed at him, but the spear only glanced on his thick frieze coat, and the Chinese received in return a cut across the face from the Irishman’s cutlass which was a remembrance to carry to the grave.

The other stockade, though it had but a corporal’s watch of three Malays, did not surrender; but finding that every other place was in the hands of the Chinese, the brave defenders opened the gate, and, charging the crowd of rebels, sword in hand, made good their escape, though all were severely wounded.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Extraordinary Escape

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Extraordinary Escape

An amiable and promising young officer, Mr Nicoletts, who had but just arrived from an outstation on a visit to the Rajah, was lodged in a cottage near; startled by the sound of the attack, he rushed forth to reach the chiefs house, but was intercepted and killed by the Chinese, who severed his head from his body, and bore it on a pike in triumph as that of the Rajah. Mr Steel, the Resident on the Rejang, and an experienced officer, quietly looked through the window of his cottage, and seeing what was passing, slipped out of the house, and soon found himself sheltered by the jungle; and the Rajah’s servant, whose shouts had drawn the Chinese towards him, had to display very unwonted activity before he could reach the protecting forest and join Mr Steel.

The other attacks took place simultaneously. Mr and Mrs Crookshank, rushing forth on hearing this midnight alarm, were cut down, the latter left for dead, the former seriously wounded. The constable’s house was attacked; he and his wife escaped, but their two children and an English lodger were killed by the insurgents.

Here occurred a scene which showed how cruel were these Chinese. When the rebels burst into Mr Middleton’s house he fled, and his wife, following, found herself in the bath-room, and by the shouts was soon convinced that her retreat had been cut off. In the meantime the Chinese had seized her two children, and brought the eldest down into the bath-room to show them the way by which the father had escaped. Mrs Middleton’s sole refuge was a large water jar, which happened to be full, and she only raised her mouth above water to draw breath; there she heard the poor little boy questioned, pleading for his life, and heard his shriek, when the fatal sword was raised which severed his head from his body. With loud laughter these fiends kicked the little head from one to the other, and then rushed out in pursuit of Mr Middleton. Fortunately the bath-room was in darkness, so the mother escaped unseen. The Chinese then set fire to the house, and she distinctly heard the shrieks of her second child as they tossed him into the flames. Mrs Middleton remained in the jar till the falling embers forced her to leave it. She ran to a neighbouring pond and, fortunately, was thus sheltered from the savages who were rushing round the burning dwelling. Her escape was indeed extraordinary.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Attack

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Attack

Shortly after midnight the squadron of Chinese barges pulled silently through the capital, and dividing into two bodies, the smaller entered a creek, called Sungei Bedil, just above the Rajah’s house, while the larger party continued its course to the landing-place of the fort, and sent out strong detachments to surprise the houses of Mr Crookshank, the magistrate, and Mr Middleton, the head constable, and a large force was told off to attack the stockades. Unaccountable as it may appear, none of these parties were noticed, so profound was the security felt; and everyone slept.

The Government House was situated on a little grassy hill, surrounded by small, neat cottages, in which visitors from the out-stations were lodged. The Chinese, landing on the banks of the Bedil stream, marched to the attack in a body of about a hundred, and passing by an upper cottage, made an assault on the front and back of the long Government House, the sole inhabitants of which were the Rajah and an English servant. They did not surround the house, for their trembling hearts made them fear to separate into small bodies, as the opinion was rife among them that the Rajah was a man brave, active, skilled in the use of weapons, and not to be overcome except by means of numbers.

Roused from his slumbers by the unusual sounds of shouts and yells at midnight, the Rajah looked out through the Venetian blinds, and immediately conjectured what had occurred. Several times he raised his revolver to fire at them, but convinced that he could not defend the house alone he determined to effect his escape. He supposed that men engaged in so desperate an enterprise would naturally take every precaution to ensure its success, and concluded that bodies of insurgents were silently watching the ends of the house; so, summoning his English servant, he led the way down to a bath-room on the ground floor which communicated with the lawn, and telling him to open the door quickly and follow close, the Rajah sprang forth, with sword drawn and revolver cocked, but found the coast clear. Had there been twenty Chinese there, he would have passed through them, as his quickness and practical skill in the use of weapons were unsurpassed. Reaching the banks of the stream above his house he paused, observing that it was full of Chinese boats; but presently, hearing his alarmed servant, who had lost him in the darkness, calling to him, he knew that the attention of the Chinese would be attracted that way, and dived under the bows of one of the barges and swam to the opposite shore unperceived. As he was then suffering from an attack of fever and ague, he fell utterly exhausted, and lay for some time on the muddy bank till, slightly recovering, he was able to reach the Government writer’s house.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Hostile Operations

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Hostile Operations

I was sitting one day reading in my verandah, in the Consulate at Brunei, when a Malay hastily entered and said, “I have just arrived from Singapore. Whilst detained by very light winds we approached a schooner coming from Sarawak, and one of the crew called out to us, “The Chinese have risen against the Rajah and killed all the white men.” He knew no more. This, coupled with what I had previously heard of the conversations of the Hue leader, made me feel very uncomfortable. I would have left for Sarawak at once, but there was no means of direct communication. In a few days a hurried note from a friend who had escaped to Singapore told me part of the catastrophe, but it was not for two months that I had the full particulars in a letter from the Rajah himself.

It appears that when the Kungsi saw their professions of loyalty accepted, they began to prepare for hostile operations, and on the morning of the 18th of February [1857] six hundred of their followers at Bau, their most important station, and placing all the available weapons in their hands, marched them down to their principal wharf at Tundong, where a squadron of their large cargo boats was collected. It is now known that until they actually began to descend the river none but the heads of the movement were aware of its true object, so well had the secret been kept. To account for the preparations, it was given out that an attack was meditated on a Dyak village in Sambas, whose fighting men had in reality killed some Chinese.

During their slow passage down the river, a Malay, who was accustomed to trade with the Chinese, overtook them in a canoe, and actually induced them to permit him to pass under the plea that his wife and children lived in a place called Batu Kawa, eight miles above the town, and would be frightened if they heard so many men passing, and he was not there to reassure them. Instead of returning home, he pulled down as fast as he could till he reached the town of Kuching, and going straight to his relative, a Malay trader of the name of Gapur, a trustworthy and brave man, told him what he had seen; but Gapur said, “Don’t go and tell the chiefs or the Rajah such a tissue of absurdities” yet he went himself over to the Datu Bandhar and informed him. The chiefs answer was, “The Rajah is unwell; we have heard similar reports for the last twenty years; don’t go and bother him about it. In the morning I will tell him what your relative says.” This great security was caused by the universal belief that the Chinese could not commit so egregious a folly as to attempt to seize the Government of the country, considering that, with agriculturists included, they did not number above four thousand, while at that time the Malays and Dyaks within the Sarawak territory amounted to two hundred thousand at least. It was strange, however, and unpardonably negligent on the part of the Datu Bandhar not to have sent a fast boat up the river to ascertain what was really going on. Had he done so, the town and numerous lives would have been saved, and punishment would only have fallen on the guilty.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Rumours and Mischief

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.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Rumours and Mischief

At Bau, the chief town of the Chinese in Sarawak, the secretary of the Kungsi showed a letter from the Straits Branch of the Tien-Ti-Hue to a Malay trader named Jeludin, urging them to act against the foreigner. I mention these facts to show the extraordinary ramifications of these secret societies, which in every country where they exist are the source of endless trouble and disorder.

During the month of November [1856] rumours were abroad that the Chinese Gold Company intended to surprise the small stockades which constituted the only defences of the town of Kuching, and which, as no enemy was suspected to exist in the country, were seldom guarded by more than four men each. Mr Crookshank, who was then administering the government, took the precaution (as has been stated) to man them with a sufficient garrison, for it was said that during one of their periodical religious feasts several hundred men were to collect quietly, and make a rush for the arsenal. On the Rajah’s return from Singapore he instituted some inquiries into the affair, but could obtain no further information than such as vague rumour afforded. He consequently reduced the garrisons, after punishing the Chinese chiefs; but such experienced officers as Mr Crookshank and the chief constable, Mr Middleton, were not satisfied, feeling that there was mischief in the air; and Mr Charles Johnson wrote to me that if their high tone was not lowered the Chinese would certainly do the country a mischief.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Chinese Insurrection

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 – 1856 – Chinese Insurrection

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When Mr Fox and I made a long tour, in July [1856], among the Chinese settlements of the interior, we became convinced that opium smuggling was being carried on to a great extent, as however numerous might be the newcomers, the revenue from that source had a tendency to decrease.

At last it was discovered that opium was sent from Singapore to the Natuna Islands, and from thence it was smuggled into Sarawak and the Dutch possessions of Sambas and Pontianak. It was proved that the Kungsi had been engaged in this contraband trade, and it was fined £150, a very trifling amount, considering the thousands it had gained by defrauding the revenue, and measures were immediately taken to suppress the traffic. This, and the punishment of three of its members for a gross assault on another Chinaman, were the only grounds of complaint which could be alleged against the Sarawak Government.

But these trivial cases were not the real cause of the Chinese insurrection in Sarawak. Before that date all the Celestials in the East had been greatly excited by the announcement that the English had retired from before Canton, and that the Viceroy of the province had offered a reward of £25 for every Englishman slain. The news had been greatly exaggerated. It was said we had been utterly defeated by the Chinese forces, and now was the time, the Gold Company thought, to expel the English from Sarawak and assume the government themselves. The secret societies were everywhere in great excitement, and the Tien-Ti-Hue sent emissaries over from Singapore and Malacca to incite the gold workers to rebellion, and used the subtle, but unfortunately cogent argument, that not only were the English crushed at Canton, but that the British Government was so discontented with the Rajah that it would not interfere, if the Kungsi only destroyed him and his officers, and did not meddle with private English interests or obstruct trade. Here we see another disastrous effect of the Commission.

It was also currently reported that the Sultan of Sambas and his Malay nobles offered every encouragement to the enterprise; and the Chinese listened much to their advice, as these noblemen can speak to the Celestials in their own language, and are themselves greatly imbued with Chinese ideas. To explain this curious state of things, it may be mentioned that the children of these nobles are always nursed by girls chosen from among the healthiest of the daughters of the Chinese gold workers. Further, about that time there was a very active intercourse carried on between the Malay nobles of Sambas and Pangeran Makota, the Rajah’s old enemy and the Sultan of Brunei’s favourite minister, and the latter was constantly closeted with an emissary of the Tien-Ti-Hue of Singapore, to whom I am about to refer.

To show that this was not a mere conjecture I may state that on the 14th of February [1857], four days before the insurrection in Sarawak, a Chinese named Achang, who had arrived at Brunei from Singapore a few days previously, and had a year before been expelled from Sarawak for joining a secret society, came to my house to try and induce my four Chinese servants to enter the Hue, adding as a sufficient reason that the Gold Company of Sarawak would by that time have killed all the white men in that country.

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

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James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Secret Societies

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 – 1856 – Secret Societies

CHINESE colonists are the mainstay of every country in the Further East; but they carry with them an institution which may have its value in ill-governed countries, but which in our colonies is an unmitigated evil. I refer to their secret societies. A secret society is ostensibly instituted under the form of a benevolent association, but actually its members are banded together to obey no laws but their own, to carry out the behests of their leaders without question, and to afford protection to each other under all circumstances. If a member of the secret society commit a crime he is to be protected or hidden away; if he be taken by the police, the society is bound to secure him the ablest legal assistance, furnish as many false witnesses as may be required, and if he be convicted, pay his fine, or do all in its power to alleviate the discomforts of a prison. Therefore, flogging is the most deterrent form of punishment, as it cannot be shared. Should the society suspect any member of revealing its secrets, or from any cause desire to be rid of an obnoxious person, it condemns the individual to death, and sentence is carried out by its members, who, through fear of the last penalty, always obey their oath. On these occasions the mark of the society is put on the victim to show who has ordered the deed. In our colonies we have not been altogether successful in putting down these pernicious associations.

For many years the Chinese living in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, had attempted to form secret societies, but the Rajah’s vigorous hand had crushed every attempt, and it appeared as if success had attended his policy. This was the case so far as the Chinese of the capital were concerned; but in the interior, among the gold workers, the Kungsi performed the functions of a secret society, and its chiefs carried on extensive correspondence with their fellow-countrymen in Sambas and Pontianak, the neighbouring Dutch possessions, and with the Tien-Ti-Hue (Heaven and Earth Secret Society) in Singapore.

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

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