James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1857 – Wild Confusion

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 – 1857 – Wild Confusion

When morning broke in Kuching, there was a scene of the wildest confusion. The six hundred rebels, joined by the Chinese vagabonds of the town, half stupefied by opium, were wandering about in every direction, discharging their muskets loaded with ball cartridges. But at eight o’clock the chiefs of the Gold Company sent a message to the Bishop of Sarawak, requesting him to come down and attend the wounded. He did so, and found thirty-two stretched out, most of them from shot wounds; but among them he noticed a man with a gash across his face from the last blow Mr Crymble had struck at the rebels; and before the Bishop’s arrival they had buried five of their companions.

Poor Mrs Crookshank had lain on the ground all night, desperately wounded, and with extraordinary coolness and courage had shammed death whilst the rebels tore the rings from her fingers, or cut at her head with their swords. Her life was saved by her mass of braided hair. Early in the morning her servant found her still living, and went and informed the Bishop, who had great difficulty in persuading the Kungsi to allow him to send for her. She arrived in the mission house in a dreadful state.

It was soon evident that, in the intoxication of victory, the Chinese aimed now, if not before, at the complete domination of the country, and summoned the Bishop, Mr Helms, agent for the Borneo Company, Mr Ruppell, an English resident, and the Datu Bandhar to appear at the Court House. The Europeans were obliged to attend the summons. The Malay chief also came, but with great reluctance, and contrary to the advice of the Datu Imaun, his more energetic brother; but he thought it expedient to gain time.

The Chinese chiefs, even in their most extravagant moments of exultation, were in great fear that on their return up the river the Malays might attack them in their crowded boats and destroy them, as on the water they felt their inferiority to their maritime enemies.

It must have been an offensive sight to the Europeans and the Malays to witness the arrangements in the Court House on that day of disaster. In the Rajah’s chair sat the chief of the Gold Company, supported on either side by the writers or secretaries, while the representatives of the now apparently subdued sections took their places on the side benches. The Chinese chief then issued his orders, which were that Mr Helms and Mr Ruppell should undertake to rule the foreign portion of the town, and that the Datu Bandhar should manage the Malays, while the Gold Company, as supreme rulers, should superintend the whole and govern exclusively the up-country districts. During this time the Europeans could see the head of Mr Nicoletts carried about on a pole to reassure the Chinese that the dreaded Rajah had really been killed. The Chinese chiefs knew better, but they thought to impose upon their ignorant followers.

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