James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Mr Wise

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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 – 1848 – Mr Wise

After two days’ waiting, our spy boats, at sunset on the 31st, brought intelligence of the approach of the pirate fleet. When they saw us at the mouth of the Kaluka, they gave an exultant shout and dashed away for home, but their hopes soon vanished as they were met by the Nemesis, the English boats, and the mass of our native fleet. Some turned to escape by the Kaluka, but were driven back and pursued by our light division. They now lost all hope of being able to get away in their heavy bangkongs; they therefore ran them on shore and escaped into the jungle.

In the morning the Rajah received a note from Farquhar to say that he had gone up the Seribas with the steamer to prevent any of the pirate boats escaping, but the few who had forced their way through the blockading squadron were already far beyond his reach. Our division then proceeded to the mouth of the Seribas. What a sight it was Seventy-five of their war boats were lying on the sands, eighteen had been sunk at sea, and twelve alone escaped up the river. Such a defeat had never before been known.

These war boats were very different from what have been described by certain critics. I measured one. It was eighty feet in length, nine in breadth, and its pulling crew must have consisted of at least seventy men. The pirates murdered all their girl captives, and, after shocking mutilations, cut off their heads and escaped. We soon had ample proof of the piracies committed by this fleet. Not only had they attacked villages on shore, but they had captured two large native vessels on their way to and from Singapore. It would have been easy to have destroyed the fugitive pirates by occupying a narrow isthmus over which they must pass, but Sir James Brooke, convinced that this great defeat would have full effect, called off his excited native followers to the attack of the interior strongholds.

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