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.

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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


Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner