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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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner