James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1856 – Chinese Kungsi

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 – 1856 – Chinese Kungsi

As the British Government would not allow me to ask for an exequatur from the Sarawak authorities, I left Kuching for Brunei in August [1856]. It was severing very precious ties. Before I sailed, Arthur Crookshank had returned to his post and brought with him, as his bride, a ‘vision of beauty,’ to use the Rajah’s own phrase.

During this year some capitalists in London formed the Borneo Company, to develop the resources of the territories under Sarawak rule. Coal had been discovered in various places, and there were valuable products to be collected, principally sago, gutta-percha and india-rubber; there was also the produce of the antimony mines, and subsequently cinnabar, or the metal containing quicksilver.

A short time before Mr Macdougall, the head of the Borneo Mission, had been raised in rank, and was named Bishop of Labuan and Sarawak.

As slight returns of fever and ague had weakened the Rajah, he accepted Sir William Hoste’s offer of a passage to Singapore in H.M.S. Spartan, where he passed a few months recruiting his health. Towards the end of January [1857] he returned to Sarawak in the Sir James Brooke, a steamer sent out by the Borneo Company to aid in their commercial work. The Rajah found the country greatly excited by persistent rumours of a Chinese conspiracy. His valuable officer, Mr Arthur Crookshank, fully believed in the hostile intentions of the Chinese Kungsi or Gold Working Company, and had therefore manned the forts with sufficient garrisons. But Sir James Brooke, having summoned the Chinese chiefs before him, and punished them for their illegal acts, was satisfied with their submission, and believed they would not be so insensate as to endeavour to carry out their previous threats. He therefore dismissed the extra men from the forts, and wrote to me on February 14th, Congratulate me on being free from all my troubles.

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