James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1844 – The Batang Lapur


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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 or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1844 – The Batang Lapur

James Rajah Brooke

The Batang Lupar for the first twenty miles looks a noble stream. About that distance from the mouth occurs the Linga, the first branch of the river which leads to the Balow villages, inhabited by Dyaks under the influence of Sherif Jaffer the same Dyaks who had joined Keppel’s expedition against the Seribas pirates; they were warlike but not piratical. The next branch on the left bank of the river was the Undup, and then on the right bank the Sakarang, a stream inhabited by a dense population of piratical Dyaks; and about fifteen miles below the mouth of that branch was built the town of Patusin, strongly defended by forts and stockades.

As the arrival of the Dido had been fully expected, the Sarawak preparations for the expedition were well advanced, and in view of Keppel’s triumphs in the previous year, there was no holding back, but all were eager for the fray. Even Pangeran Budrudin was permitted to join the Sarawak contingent something quite new in the annals of the royal family.

On the 5th of August [1844] the expedition started, and on the 6th was well within the river Batang Lupar. By the 8th all was ready for the attack, and on the rising flood tide the steamer and boats were carried up stream at a bewildering pace, and soon found themselves in face of the town and forts of Patusin. The English boats formed up alongside of the steamer, and pulled to the shore under a very hot fire; but nothing could daunt their crews, and they carried the forts by assault, with the loss of only one English sailor killed and a few wounded. Nor were the natives behindhand; they vied with their white comrades, and were soon in full pursuit of the flying enemy.

In the afternoon the force marched to the attack of a neighbouring town where the chief Sherif Sahib had his residence; but there was no resistance, and the place was soon plundered and destroyed by our native allies. Amongst the spoil captured at Patusin were sixty-four brass guns and a smaller number of iron ones; the latter were thrown into the river. Having completely destroyed these Malay pirate settlements, not forgetting that which had been formed by Pangeran Makota, and handed over to the natives those war boats which would be useful to them, while the remainder were hacked to pieces and burnt, the force prepared for an assault on the Sakarang pirates.

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