James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1853 – Grant of Sarawak

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 – 1853 – Grant of Sarawak

As soon as the Rajah was sufficiently recovered, he decided to visit the capital. The Sultan Omar Ali was dead, and Pangeran Mumein had been chosen to fill that office, although he did not belong to the royal family. We started in the same little merchant brig Weeraff) and were soon at the capital.

The Rajah knew that every kind of intrigue had been going on during his long absence. The Eastern Archipelago Company had sent their agent to try and induce the late Sultan to complain of the conduct of Her Majesty’s Commissioner; and the Ex-Lieutenant Governor of Labuan had also written to the Brunei Government to tell them of the Commission, and to insinuate that Sir James was no longer the powerful personage that he had been. The Queen had decided to inquire into his conduct; so now was the time to act. However, these intrigues completely failed.

The Rajah had not been a week in the capital when his influence was as completely re-established as when he had an admiral and a squadron at his back. The grant of Sarawak was confirmed, and a new deed was made out, giving him the government of the rivers, as far as the Rejang, on the payment of £1000 a year. Not even Mr Hume could say that he obtained these concessions by the use of force.

While we were in Brunei, we lodged in the Sultan’s palace, and were fed from the royal kitchen; we found the cuisine excellent. The Sultan and pangerans were constant visitors, and we enjoyed our stay among them. Not only did the Brunei Government confirm public grants, but they handed over to the Rajah the originals of the letters addressed to them by Mr Napier and others, showing how active his enemies had been as soon as it was known that a Commission of Inquiry had been granted by our vacillating ministers.

Nothing could better illustrate the conduct and character of the Rajah than the results of this visit. Here was this man, under the ban of the British Government, exposed to every insult from a reptile press fortunately among English papers a very small minority and apparently in deep disgrace. Yet in his own adopted country he was respected, loved and trusted beyond any other man by all races and creeds.

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