Category Archives: Exploration

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Rajahs Residence

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo.  In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt 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 this series here or search our library here.

The Rajahs Residence

This is how the Rajah describes his residence and mode of life at Kuching:

“I may now mention our house, or, as I fondly call it, our palace. It is an edifice fifty-four feet square, mounted on numerous posts of the nibong palm, with nine windows in each front. The roof is of nipa leaves, and the floors and partitions are all of planks. Furnished with couches, table, chairs, books, etc., the whole is as comfortable as man could wish for in this out-of-the-way country; and we have besides bathing-house, cook-house and servants’ apartments detached. The view from the house to the eastward comprises a reach of the river, and to the westward looks towards the blue mountains of Matang; the north fronts the river and the south the jungle. Our abode, however, though spacious, cool and comfortable, can only be considered a temporary residence, for the best of all reasons, that in the course of a year it will tumble down, from the weight of the superstructure being placed on weak posts.

The time here passes monotonously, but not unpleasantly. Writing, reading, chart-making employ my time between meals. My companions are equally engaged – Mackenzie with copying logs, learning navigation and stuffing specimens of natural history; Crymble is teaching our young Bugis and Dyak boys their letters for an hour every morning, copying my vocabularies of languages, ruling charts and the like; whilst my servant Peter learns reading and writing daily, with very poor success, however. Our meals are about nine in the morning and four in the afternoon, with a cup of tea at eight. The evening is employed in walking never less than a mile and a half measured distance, and, after tea, reading and a cigar. Wine and grog we have none, and all appear better for it, or, at least, I can say so much for myself. Our bedtime is about eleven.”

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

The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1502

We’ve delved into the Ultrapedia archives to see what history holds on the discovery of the Falkland Islands; there are many conflicting and biased reports.  Here we feature an excerpt from The Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review Volume 6 published in 1842 – reporting the islands were first discovered in 1502  by the Italian explorer Americus Vespucius while in the service of Portugal.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1502

The merit of discovering these islands has been claimed by the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch, and the French. Americus Vespucius, in the journal of his voyage through the South Atlantic Ocean, made in 1502, while he was in the service of Portugal, says that he saw a rugged and uncultivated land beyond the 52d degree of south latitude; but under what meridian it is impossible to learn. The Spaniards assert that the islands were found by their earliest navigators in those seas, who called them, Islas de Leones; no direct proof of this assertion has been adduced, but it seems scarcely possible that they could have remained unseen by the people of that nation, during a whole century, in which so many of their squadrons were engaged in exploring the adjacent seas and coasts.

The first notice of the existence of the islands which can be considered as distinct, is contained in the account of the voyage of John Davis, the commander of one of the vessels in the English squadron sent to the Pacific under Cavendish in 1591, written by John Lane, one of the crew, and published at London by Hakluyt in 1600. The writer there states, that after in vain attempting to enter Magellan’s Straits, they were on the 14th of August, [1592]

“driven in among certain isles never before discovered by any known relation, lying fifty leagues or better from the shore, east and northerly from the straits”

This description, though short, is sufficient to establish the fact, that Davis did, in [1592], see some of the northwesternmost of the Falkland Islands; and upon the evidence thus afforded, Great Britain founds her claim to the sovereignty of the whole archipelago.

The same islands were also no doubt seen, two years afterward, by the celebrated Sir Richard Hawkins; in the narrative of whose voyage, by John Ellis, it is stated that:

“on the 2nd of February, 1593-4, we fell in with the land of Terra Australis, in 50 degrees, 55 leagues off the straits of Magellan, east-northeast from the straits”

Sir Richard, believing himself to be the first who had seen this territory, gave to it the name of Hawkins Maiden-land; “for” as he says, “that it was discovered in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, my Sovereign Lady, and a maiden Queen, and at my cost, in perpetual memory of her chastity, and of my endeavours.”

This name, however, did not obtain general currency; and the islands were not destined to serve as monuments commemorating the chastity of Queen Elizabeth, or the perseverance and liberality of the dauntless searover.

The last navigator, by whom the discovery of these islands was supposed to have been made, was Sebaldus or Sibbald Van Weerdt, the commander of one of the five Dutch ships sent to the Pacific from Rotterdam in [1599], under Jacob Mahu. Having been foiled in his attempt to pass Magellans Strait, Van Weerdt resolved to return to Europe; and on his way back, two days after leaving that passage, he fell in with three small islands, in the latitude of 50 degrees 40 minutes, distant sixty leagues from the South American continent; which were, in all probability, the same seen by Davis and Hawkins. The Dutch, in consequence, gave the name of Sebaldine Islands to the whole archipelago; which is so called on many English maps, published in the last century, while in others it appears as the Sibble d’Wards Islands.

Excerpt from The Merchants Magazine and Commercial Review Volume 6 published in 1842

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Further Reading and External Links

BBC News Magazine on the Falkland Islands 

World Atlas Falkland Islands Facts 

Americus Vespucius

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – A New Era

 

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo.  In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt 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 this series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – A New Era

A new era was about to dawn on Sarawak by the advent of the British navy. Before dwelling on the change which took place in consequence, let me glance briefly at Brooke’s position. He had been granted the government of the country by Rajah Muda Hassim, a grant confirmed by the Sultan; he had gained the confidence of the former, who leaned on him for support, and who hoped through his influence to recover his former paramount position in the capital; he was cordially supported by the Siniawan Malays, and was fully trusted by the Land Dyaks. He was also aided to a certain extent by those useful but troublesome subjects the Chinese, who then only dreamt of making themselves supreme in the interior. He was supported by three English followers, and the occasional presence of his yacht, the ‘Royalist’. How was it possible for anyone, therefore, to declare that he had seized the country by force, and held it by force, as was afterwards affirmed by a small English faction? His only enemies were Pangeran Makota and a few discontented Borneans, who dreaded the reign of justice and order. Though secure of the support of the inhabitants of Sarawak, he was opposed by his neighbour the Sultan of Sambas, backed by the Dutch, and he had the mouths of his rivers almost blockaded during eight months of the year by the fleets of Lanun and Balignini pirates who cruised along the coast during the fine season.

His people were also in constant peril from the expeditions organised by Sherif Sahib, the chief of the neighbouring district of Sadong, the rendezvous of every species of pirate; and all coast trade was stopped by the constant presence of the Seribas and Sakarang Dyaks, led by their warlike Malays, who foraged along the whole western coast of Borneo. He was saved simply by his great prestige, as he had in reality no force with which he could cope with a large pirate fleet a prestige acquired by his bravery, his tact, his great kindness, and the just and benevolent rule which he was striving with all his energy to introduce into his adopted country.

And what were his chief objects? How well the following lines express them:

“It is a grand experiment, which, if it succeeds, will bestow a blessing on those poor people, and their children’s children will bless my name.”

Again, “If it please God to permit me to give a stamp to this country which shall last after I am no more, I shall have lived a life which emperors might envy. If by dedicating myself to the task I am able to introduce better customs and settled laws, and to raise the feeling of the people, so that their rights can never in future he wantonly infringed, I shall indeed be content and happy.”

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

Falkland Islands Discovery – 1594

 

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With the Falkland Island a newsworthy topic once more we’ve delved into the Ultrapedia archives to see what history holds.  Below is an excerpt from the book History of the British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin published in 1835 claiming they were first discovered in 1594 by Sir Richard Hawkins.

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The Falkland Islands Discovery – 1594

THE Falkland islands, between the parallels of 51.10. and 52.30.S and the meridians 58. and 62. W. (contiguous to the Straits of Magellan,) so advantageously situated as a refreshing port for our numerous ships doubling Cape Horn, and as a cruising station for our ships of war in the Pacific, were first discovered by Sir Richard Hawkins during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in the year 1594, or as some think, by Captain Davis, in 1592, an English navigator under Sir Thomas Cavendish; they were subsequently visited by a ship belonging to St. Maloes, from which they were called by the French, ‘the Malouins’ and also subsequently, by the Spaniards, ‘the Malvinas.’ Little, however, was known of them until Commodore Byron, when on a voyage of discovery to the South Seas, visited them in January, [1765], and formally took possession of them for his Majesty Geo. III. under the title of ‘the Falkland Islands,’ though others say this name had been previously given them by an English navigator named Strong, in 1689, who, after being there about fourteen days, described Egmont, on the N.W. coast of the largest island, as being the finest harbour in the world, capacious enough to hold all the navy of England in full security. Geese, ducks, snipes, and other fowl were found in such abundance, that the sailors were quite tired with eating them; and in every part there was a plentiful supply of water.

When the French lost the Canadas, a colony of farmers was transported thither by M. de Bougainville, and about the same time a British colony was established at Port Egmont by Captain McBride; but their right to settle there being disputed by the Spaniards, M. de Bougainville surrendered the possession of his part to the latter in April, [1767].

Great Britain, however, by virtue of her original discovery, claimed the sovereignty, which led to a rupture with Spain in the year [1770], and the point was warmly and strongly contested for a considerable period.

Spain, however, finally conceded our right to the islands. The two largest of the islands are about 70 leagues in circumference, and divided by a channel 12 leagues in length, and from 1 to 3 in breadth. The harbours are large, and well defended by small islands, most happily disposed. The smallest vessels may ride in safety; fresh water is easily to be obtained; there is seldom any thunder or lightning, nor is the weather hot or cold to any extraordinary degree. throughout the year, the nights are in general serene and fair; and, upon the whole, the climate is favourable to the constitution. The depth of the soil in the vallies is more than sufficient for the purpose of ploughing.

Since, [1767], they fell into comparative insignificance; and, for many years past, little notice has been taken of them by our government. Ships of war, on their passage round Cape Horn, have occasionally touched there for supplies of water, etc. and South Sea whalers and other merchant vessels; but the navigation being little known, they have not, until lately, been much frequented, although very nearly in the track of ships homeward-bound from the Pacific. Latterly, however, circumstances arose which induced the last commander-in-chief on the South American station (Sir Thomas Baker), to send down a ship of war for the purpose of reclaiming that possession, which lapse of time seemed to have rendered almost absolutely abandoned. The Buenos Ayrean Government have, however, endeavoured to set up a claim to the islands.

Excerpt from History of the British Colonies by Robert Montgomery Martin published in 1835

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Further Reading and External Links

BBC News Magazine on the Falkland Islands 

World Atlas Falkland Islands Facts

Falkland Islands Discovery – 1592

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With the Falkland Islands in the news again we thought we’d delve into the Ultrapedia archives to see what history holds.  Below is an excerpt from a parliamentary speech made in 1770 on the Falkland Islands claiming they were first discovered in 1592 by the British Captain Davies.

Excerpt from The Speeches of the Right Honourable the Earl of Chatham in the Houses of Lords and Commons by William Pitt published in 1848

THE DUKE OF RICHMOND’S MOTION RESPECTING THE SEIZURE OF FALKLAND’S ISLAND – 22nd November 1770

Badge of The Falkland IslandsThe expulsion of the English from the Falkland Islands by a Spanish force in the year [1769], caused serious apprehensions to be entertained of a rupture between Spain and Great Britain.

The Falkland Islands are situated in about 51 and a half degrees of southern latitude, and about one hundred leagues from the eastern entrance to the Straits of Magellan. They consist of two large, and a great number of small islands; the large ones being divided by a sound or strait of considerable length. They are supposed to have been first discovered in the year 1592, by Captain Davies, who was the associate of the brave but unfortunate Cavendish, and was afterwards parted from him, or basely deserted him. In consequence of stress of weather, Davies was prevented from making any observation on them, nor did he even name them. This was reserved for Sir Richard Hawkins, who two years afterwards discovered them, and called them, in honour of Queen Elizabeth, Hawkins’ Maiden Land. No settlement being made on them, when the Dutch navigator, Sebald de Wert, touched at them in the year 1598, he imagined himself to be the first discoverer of them, and designated them the Sebaldine Islands. We hear nothing more of these islands until the reign of William the Third, when one Strong fell in with them, and is supposed to have given them their present English name, which being also adopted by Halley, was inserted in our maps.

Lord Anson was the first who was impressed with the importance of forming a British settlement on the Falkland Islands; and accordingly, soon after the peace of Aix la Chapelle, when he was at the head of the Admiralty, preparations were made for sending out some frigates to make discoveries in the South Seas, and particularly to examine, with precision, the state and condition of the islands in question. But the Court of Spain gained intelligence of this project, and made such representations against it, that it was for the time laid aside, and continued dormant until the conduct of naval affairs was entrusted to the Earl of Egmont. Under the directions of this nobleman, Commodore Byron was sent out, in the year [1764], to make a settlement on the Falkland Islands, and in the beginning of the following year he took formal possession of them in the name of the King of Great Britain. About the same, or perhaps at an earlier period, the French, animated by a desire to retrieve the great national losses which they had sustained during the late war, formed a plan of making discoveries in the South Seas. The low state of their finances prevented this scheme from being undertaken at the public expense; and it was left to the enterprise of a private individual M. de Bouganville, to carry it out at his own and his friends risk. He fitted out an expedition at St. Malo, whence these islands were called by the French Les Malouines, and having arrived at them, he formed a settlement which he designated Port Louis, and built a fort. The British settlement, which was called Port Egmont, in honour of the first Lord of the Admiralty, under whose auspices it was made, lay on the larger and more western of the two principal islands; and the French settlement on the eastern and lesser of them. The King of Spain asserting an exclusive right to all the Magellanic regions, procured a cession of the French settlement, and changed its name from Port Louis to that of Port Solidad.

In the year [1769], Captain Hunt, the commander of a frigate, which with the Swift, a sloop of sixteen guns, was stationed at Port Egmont, being on a cruise off the islands observed a Spanish schooner taking a survey of them.  Captain Hunt immediately sent a message to the Spanish commander, requiring him to depart. This requisition was for the time complied with, but two days afterwards the schooner returned with letters for Captain Hunt from the Governor of Port Solidad, complaining that the former had sent an imperious message to the Spaniards in the King of Spain’s own dominions. In reply, Captain Hunt warned the Spaniards from the island in the name of the King, as belonging to the English by right of discovery in the first instance, and of settlement in the second.

Excerpt from The Speeches of the Right Honourable the Earl of Chatham in the Houses of Lords and Commons by William Pitt published in 1848

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Further Reading and External Links

Charles Lennox – 3rd Duke of Richmond

William Pitt The Elder – 1st Earl of Chatham 

BBC News Magazine on the Falkland Islands

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Granted the Government

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo.  In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt 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 this series here or search our library here.

He is Granted The Government of Sarawak

The greatest state was observed when the Sultan’s letters were taken on shore. They were received and brought up to the reception hall amid large wax torches. The person who was to read them was stationed on a raised platform. Standing near him was the Rajah Muda Hassim, with a sabre in his hand; in front was his brother Jaffer with a tremendous Lanun sword drawn; and around were the other brothers and myself, all standing, the rest of the company being seated. The letters were then read – the last one appointing me to hold the government of Sarawak – after which the rajah descended from the platform and said aloud,

“If anyone present disowns or contests the Sultan’s appointment, let him now declare it.”

All were silent.

“Is there any pangeran or young rajah that contests the question? Pangeran Der Makota, what do you say?”

Makota expressed his willingness to obey. One or two other obnoxious pangerans, who had always opposed themselves to me, were each in turn challenged, and forced to promise obedience. The rajah then waved his sword, and with a loud voice exclaimed,

“Whoever he may be that disobeys the Sultan’s mandate now received, I will cleave his skull.”

And at the moment some ten of his younger brothers jumped from the verandah, and drawing their long krises, began to flourish and dance about, thrusting close to Makota, striking the pillar above his head, and pointing their weapons at his breast. A motion on his part would have been fatal, but he kept his eyes on the ground and stirred not. I too remained quiet, and cared nothing about this demonstration, for one gets accustomed to these things. It all passed off, and in ten minutes the men who had been leaping frantically about, with drawn weapons and inflamed countenances, were seated, quiet and demure as usual. This scene is a custom with them, the only exception being that it was pointed so directly at Makota.

This unworthy chief was now ordered to leave the country, as his presence was not only distasteful to the Tuan Besar, as Brooke was called, but to all those whom he had driven, by his oppressions, into the rebellion which had lately been quelled. The Bornean rajahs also looked upon him as an interloper, and he found no support from them; he was said, in fact, to be a stranger from the Dutch ‘sphere of influence,’ as it is now the fashion to call possession without occupation.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1841

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo.  In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt 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 this series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1841

Muda Hassim immediately carried out his original promise, and in a formal document handed over the government of the district of Sarawak to Brooke. The news was received with rejoicing by the Land Dyaks, the Sarawak Malays and the Chinese, but with some misgivings by the rascally followers of the Bornean rajahs. This event took place in September [1841].

Brooke’s first act was to request Muda Hassim to return to their families the women and children who had been given as hostages after the close of the civil war. He succeeded in most cases, but as the younger brothers of Muda Hassim had honoured with their notice some of the unmarried girls, he was forced to leave ten of them in the harems of the rajahs.

Being now Governor of Sarawak, he determined to effect some reforms. One of the greatest difficulties he encountered was the introduction of impartial justice; to teach the various classes that all were equal before the law. He opened a court, at which he himself provided, aided moreover, by some of the rajah’s brothers and the chiefs of the Siniawan Malays, and dispensed justice according to the native laws, which in most cases are milder than those of European countries. When absent himself his chief officer acted for him. As long as these laws were only applied to Dyaks, Chinese or inferior Malays, there was no resistance, but when the privileged class and their unscrupulous followers were touched, there arose some murmurings.

Brooke saw at once that to ensure stability to his rule he must govern the people through, and with the aid of, the chiefs to whom they were accustomed. He therefore proposed to Muda Hassim to restore to their former positions the men who had been at the head of the late rebellion, and who certainly had been more sinned against than sinning. To this the rajah agreed, which added much to the Englishman’s influence, not only among the Malays, but also among the Dyaks, who were accustomed to be ruled, and, it must be confessed, to be plundered by these chiefs. But the tribes thought that it was better to pay exactions to one than to be exposed to the persecutions of many.

Although Muda Hassim had made over to Brooke the government of the country, it was necessary that this grant should be ratified by the Sultan. Brooke therefore proceeded to Brunei in the ‘Royalist,’ accompanied by Pangeran Budrudin. It was also very necessary to pave the way for Muda Hassim’s return to the capital, with his rapacious followers, before Sarawak could really prosper. Everything succeeded; the Sultan not only ratified the grant, but sent a strong invitation to his uncle to return to his old position of being the prime minister, whose absence they all deplored. His Highness sent letters to that effect, and when the ‘Royalist’ arrived at Sarawak there was very general rejoicing.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1840 – Makota

 

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo.  In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt 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 this series here or search our library here.

Makota Intrigues Against Brooke

Pangeran Makota, who had been Brooke’s enemy throughout all these proceedings, was now ready to act. He knew that the Land Dyaks in the interior, as well as the Malays of Siniawan whom the Englishman had aided to subdue, now looked to him as their protector; he therefore determined to destroy his prestige. He invited the Seribas Sea Dyaks and Malays to come to Sarawak; they came in a hundred bangkongs, or long war boats, with at least three thousand men, with the ostensible object of attacking a tribe living near the Sambas frontier, who had not been submissive enough to Bornean exactions; but every violent act they committed would have been overlooked if they only gave a sufficient percentage of their captives to the nobles. Already these wild devils had received the rajah’s permission to proceed up the river; the Land Dyaks, the Malays, the Chinese were full of fear, as all are treated as enemies by the Seribas when out on the warpath. As soon as Brooke received notice of what Muda Hassim, instigated by Makota, had done, he retired to the “Royalist” and prepared both his vessels for action. The Malay rulers, hearing how angry he was, and uncertain what steps he might take, recalled the expedition, which returned, furious at being baulked of their prey, and would have liked to have tried conclusions with the English ships, but found them too well on their guard.

This very act which Makota expected would lower the Englishman’s prestige, naturally greatly enhanced it, as it was soon known, even into the far interior, that the white stranger had but to say the word and this fearful scourge had been stayed.

Another event soon followed which greatly raised Brooke’s influence among the natives. He received notice that an English vessel had been wrecked on the north coast of Borneo, and that the crew were detained as hostages by the Sultan of Borneo for the payment of a ransom. He now sent the “Royalist” to try and release them, whilst he despatched the “Swift” to Singapore for provisions, and remained with three companions in his new house in Sarawak. Could anything better prove his cool courage? The “Royalist” failed in its mission, but almost immediately after its return, an East India Company’s steamer came up the river to inquire as to its success, and finding the captive crew still at Brunei, proceeded there and quickly effected their release. The appearance of the “Diana” twice in the river had its effect on the population, as it was probably the first steamer they had ever seen.

Makota had been greatly disappointed that his intrigues had failed to force the white strangers to quit the country, but his fertile invention now thought of more sure and criminal means. ‘Why not poison them ?’ He tried, but failed; his confederates confessed, and then Brooke resolved to act. Either Makota or himself must fall. By a judicious display of force, quite justified under the circumstances, he freed the rajah from the baneful influence of Makota, who from that time forward ceased to act as chief adviser, and regained his former ascendency.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Third Visit to Sarawak

 

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo; he made a diversion to Sarawak to deliver a letter, and had great success suppressing piracy in the area. In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Third Visit to Sarawak

IN SARAWAK PEACE being again restored to the country, Brooke was enabled to study the position. Muda Hassim occasionally mentioned his intention of rewarding his English ally for his great services by giving him the government of Sarawak; but nothing came of it, as when the document for submission to the Sultan was duly prepared it proved to be nothing but ‘permission to trade.’ However unsatisfactory this might be, Brooke accepted it for the moment, and it was agreed that he should proceed to Singapore, load a schooner with merchandise, and return to open up the resources of the place. In the meantime the rajah was to build a house for his friend, and prepare a shipload of antimony ore as a return cargo for the schooner.

While in Singapore Brooke wrote to his mother concerning his plans, and he now added,

‘I really have excellent hopes that this effort of mine will succeed; and while it ameliorates the condition of the unhappy natives, and tends to the promotion of the highest philanthropy, it will secure to me some better means of carrying through these grand objects. I call them grand objects, for they are so, when we reflect that civilisation, commerce and religion may through them be spread over so vast an island as Borneo. They are so grand, that self is quite lost when I consider them; and even the failure would be so much better than the non-attempt, that I could willingly sacrifice myself as nearly as the barest prudence will permit.’

Many, perhaps, could write such words, but Brooke really felt them, and fully intended to carry out his views, whatever obstacles might stand in his way; and they were many, for on his return to Sarawak in the ‘Royalist,’ with the schooner ‘Swift’ laden with goods for the market, he found no house built and no cargo of antimony ready. A house in Sarawak could be built in ten days or a fortnight, as the materials are all found in the jungle and the natives are expert at the work.

The antimony was procurable, but, as Brooke afterwards found, it was the product of forced labour, almost always unpaid. One cannot but smile at Brooke’s first attempt at trade. Without sending up to see whether the antimony was ready, he accepted Muda Hassim’s word, and then handed over to him the whole of the cargo of the ‘Swift.’  What might have been expected followed. No sooner had the Malay rajah secured the goods than the most profound apathy was shown as to the return cargo. The same system was followed with regard to the government of the country; every attempt to discuss it was evaded, and I believe that Makota did his best to persuade Muda Hassim that the Englishman was but a bird of passage, who would soon get tired of waiting, and would sail away without the return cargo, and drop all thoughts of governing the country.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1838

 

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo; he made a diversion to Sarawak to deliver a letter, and had great success suppressing piracy in the area. In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt from a book in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899; this piece covers the beginning of his voyage and adventures when leaving England in 1838.

 

First Voyage to Sarawak – 1838

James Brooke Rajah of Sarawak 1847BROOKE sailed from Devonport on December 16, [1838], in the Royalist, belonging to the Royal Yacht Squadron, which, in foreign ports, admitted her to the same privileges as a ship of war, and enabled her to carry a white ensign. As the Royalist is still an historic character in the Eastern Archipelago, I must let the owner describe her as she was in [1838].

‘She sails fast; is conveniently fitted up; is armed with six six-pounders, and a number of swords and small arms of all sorts; carries four boats and provisions for four months. Her principal defect is being too sharp in the floor. She is a good sea boat, and as well calculated for the service as could be desired. Most of the hands have been with me for three years, and the rest are highly recommended.’

Whilst the Royalist is speeding on prosperously towards Singapore, and calling at Rio Janeiro and the Cape, let me sum up in a few words the object of the voyage.

The memorandum which Brooke drew up on the then state of the Indian Archipelago [1838], shows how carefully he had studied the whole subject. He first expounds the policy which England should follow if she wished to recover the position which she wantonly threw away after the peace of [1815] ; he then explains what he proposed to do for the furtherance of our knowledge of Borneo and the other great islands to the East. Circumstances, however, as he anticipated might be the case, made him change the direction of his first local voyage.

The Royalist arrived in Singapore in May [1839], and remained at that port till the end of July, refitting and preparing for future work. There Brooke received news which induced him to give up for the present the proposed voyage to Marudu Bay, the northernmost district of Borneo, and visit Sarawak instead. Rajah Muda Hassim, uncle to the Sultan of Brunei, was then residing there, and being of a kindly disposition, had taken care of the crew of a shipwrecked English vessel, and sent the men in safety to Singapore. This unlooked-for conduct on the part of a Malay chief roused the interest of the Singapore merchants, and Brooke was requested to call in at Sarawak and deliver to the Malay prince a letter and presents from the Chamber of Commerce.

This was a fortunate diversion of his voyage, as at that time Marudu was governed by a notorious pirate chief. The bay was a rendezvous for some of the most daring marauders in the Archipelago, and nothing could have been done there to further our knowledge of the interior.

All being ready, and the crew strengthened by eight Singapore Malay seamen, athletic fellows, capital at the oar, and to save the white men the work of wooding and watering, the Royalist sailed for Borneo on the 27th of July, and in five days was anchored off the coast of Sambas. All the charts were found to be wrong, so that every care had to be taken whilst working up the coast. A running survey was made, and on then 11th August Brooke found himself at the mouth of the Sarawak river.

 

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