Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Raja Muda Hashim

Raja (also Pengiran) Muda Hashim was the uncle of the Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1828-1852).

Fig 1: Picture of Raja Muda Hashim

The exact family ties between the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II and Pengiran Muda Hashim is depicted in the following chart.

Fig 2: Brunei royal genealogy

On the subject of royal succession, let me quote from Frank Marryat's book Borneo & the Indian Archipelago: "At the death of the late sultan, Muda Hassan (sic) was the heir-apparent to the throne, but he resigned in favour of his nephew, retaining the office of prime minister, which office he had held during the former reign, not only to the satisfaction of the sultan, but also of the people, with whom he was deservedly a great favourite."

Around 1835, the Sultan sent Muda Hashim to Sarawak to restore order there. Sarawak had been a loosely governed territory under the control of the Brunei in the early 19th century. At that time, an anti-Brunei force of Malays and Bidayuhs led by Datu Patinggi Ali was revolting against Pengiran Indera Mahkota, the Brunei-appointed Malay governor of Sarawak.. By various accounts, Mahkota was a harsh man, forcing the locals to work like slaves to extract antimony from the mines in Sarawak. Hence the uprising.

However even after Raja Muda Hashim’s arrival in Sarawak, very little happened for a few years, with both sides not making much progress. Also it appears that Muda Hashim and Mahkota didn't see eye to eye, and a certain tension developed between them.

When the English adventurer James Brooke reached Singapore on his Far East voyage, he heard that the ruler of Sarawak, Raja Muda Hashim had shown that he was friendly to Europeans. Earlier on the Raja Muda had been hospitable to some British sailors shipwrecked on the coastal waters of Sarawak and even sent them back to Singapore. James Brooke was curious to see what the fabled Borneo was really like. Besides Mr Bonham, the British Governor of Singapore wanted James to give a letter of thanks and some presents to Raja Muda Hashim for his kind treatment of the sailors.

And so it was on 15 August 1839 that James Brooke in his schooner “The Royalist” sailed up the Sarawak River, and anchored off Kuching.

Raja Muda Hashim gave him a friendly welcome. As one writer described Muda Hashim and the first meeting: "His appearance was not imposing but his manners were a pattern of courtesy and he maintained a certain shabby dignity. He returned the Royalist's  salute of 21 guns with a salute of 17 and received his visitor with some pomp in the palm-leaf shed which went by the name of audience hall"   All in all their meetings were amicable enough  and Muda Hashim did request his help in quelling the rebels but James Brooke declined, not wanting to get involved. He departed after a short stay.

James Brooke then spent a year cruising in the Archipelago and had decided to return to England. But before he did so, he thought he would first pay another visit to Kuching. In  August 1840, he landed in Sarawak again and found that the fighting was still continuing. This time when Raja Muda Hashim asked again, he agreed to assist.

With his powerful cannons and superior military tactics, Brooke was able to quell the rebellion. In reward for his success, Muda Hashim signed a treaty on 24 September 1841 surrendering territory from the westernmost tip of Sarawak, Tanjung Dato, to the Samarahan river  to Brooke and bestowing on him the title of Governor of Sarawak.

This appointment was made official on 18 September 1842 by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II.  In return Brooke promised to pay the Sultan an annual tribute of $2,500, to preserve the customs and religion of the people in Sarawak and not to separate Sarawak from Brunei without the Sultan's consent. It was a big political mistake on the Sultan’s part to appoint Brooke but the Englishman had the backing of the British Navy.

Fig 3: Artist impression of James Brooke at the court of
the Sultan of Brunei

In 1844 Pengiran Muda Hashim returned from Sarawak to Brunei, accompanied by James Brooke and a British naval captain, Sir Edward Blecher. While in Sarawak, Muda Hashim had lost his high status at home due to a palace coup in Brunei. His opponent Pengiran Usop has become Bendahara in his absence. 

In that visit, Brooke and the British Naval Forces were able to re-install Pengiran Muda Hashim as the new Bendahara. Muda Hashim also secured official recognition to become the next Sultan of Brunei. This upset the chances of Pengiran Temenggong Pengiran Anak Hashim, the son of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II, who then plotted to kill Muda Hashim.

James Brooke needed someone in Brunei that he could rely on and Pengiran Muda Hashim seemed to be the one. The British also managed to get Brunei to destroy the defensive forts on Pulau Cermin and along the Brunei River as well as an agreement to give Labuan to the British.

When Pengiran Muda Hashim and his family were eventually murdered in 1846, the British navy under Rear Admiral Thomas Cochrane came and occupied Brunei Town, setting part of it ablaze and even forcing Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II to flee to Damuan.

Fig 4: Brunei Town under attack in 1846

To end the occupation, Brunei had to recognize James Brooke as the Rajah of Sarawak and ruled without interference, free to appoint his own successor and he was no longer the Sultan’s representative in Sarawak. The Island of Labuan was also surrendered.

James Brooke was subsequently knighted and appointed as the first British Governor of Labuan in 1847.

In the city of Kuching, there is a road called Jalan Muda Hashim, in memory of Raja Muda Hashim. I think it is appropriate as this gentleman played a significant, albeit inadvertent, role in shepherding in the Brooke dynasty which lasted a hundred years, and brought significant progress to Sarawak.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Brooke exhibits in the Sarawak Museum

Here are a few photos of the Brooke exhibits at the Sarawak Museum in Kuching, when I visited some time ago. Probably time I made another visit ...

Fig 1: On Sir James Brooke, First Rajah

Fig 2: Sir James Brooke's sword

Fig 3: Masthead from "The Royalist" (I think)

Fig 4 Bust of the Second Rajah, Sir Charles Brooke

I'll try to add more photos when I next visit ...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Memorable Visit to Sheepstor (Part 2)

Let me continue the story ...

We proceeded to the Church of St Leonard, Sheepstor, which is a short drive away.

Here are some photos ...

Fig 1: View of St Leonard's Church from nearby hill

Fig 2: Tower of Church of St Leonard

Fig 3: Inside of the Church of St Leonard

Fig 4a: The visitor book just by the entrance to the Church
(We noted many entries by people from Sarawak)

Fig 4b: This plaque above the entrance, reflects the work of Sir James Brooke
in the restoration of St Leonard's Church. Amazing what 500 Pounds Sterling
can do in  the year 1861 !

Fig 5a: Large wooden panel on the wall with some background on the Brookes

Fig 5b: The first panel was on James Brooke

Fig 5c: The second panel was on Charles Brooke (originally Charles Anthoni Johnson)

Fig 5d: The third panel was on Charles Vyner Brooke

Fig 5e: The fourth panel was on Bertram Brooke (second son of Charles Brooke)

Fig 6: Going towards the cemetery at the back of the Church

Fig 7a: The main Brooke graves
(Leftmost & reddish is that of Sir James Brooke; rightmost & granite is for Sir Charles Brooke;
middle & behind is for Sir Charles Vyner Brooke; middle front is for Bertram Brooke)

Fig 7b: Grave of Sir James Brooke

Fig 7c: Grave of Sir Charles Brooke

Fig 7d: Grave of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke

Fig 7e: Grave of Bertram Brooke

Fig 8: Other Brooke graves near to the Rajahs

Well, those are the main photos from this memorable visit to Sheepstor.

Many thanks to my buddy, James Kuo for showing us the various places.

Additional Information

*  Legendary Dartmoor website

A Memorable Visit to Sheepstor (Part 1)

Earlier this week, while visiting a good friend, James Kuo, in the county of Devon, I had the opportunity to visit  the village of Sheepstor. Many of you probably know the historical significance of Sheepstor. It is where the First White Rajah, Sir James Brooke, retired to, and where all three Rajahs were eventually buried.

Here's a photographic record of the visit ...

Fig 1: Approaching Sheepstor

Fig 2a: Burrator Reservoir

Fig 2b: Burrator Reservoir

Fig 3: Sheepstor starts from here
(L to R: James Kuo, James Yong & my dad Joseph Yong)

Fig 4: At the gate to Burrator House

Fig 5: A lovely stream by path leading to Burrator House

Fig 6a: James Kuo points in the direction of Burrator House

Fig 6b: You can see the house up ahead

Fig 7a: Burrator House where Sir James Brooke lived in his final years
(Apparently his room is on the upper floor, on the right)

 Fig 7b: Burrator House (right side view)

Fig 9: JY and JK at the front of Burrator House

Fig 10: JK and JY in front of the historic sign

Fig 11: Close-up of the sign

This is a photo of Sir James Brooke, probably in his later years ...

Well, after this we proceeded to St Leonard's Church where the Brookes were buried. Photos for that will be shared in Part 2.

Additional Information
*  Genealogy UK & Ireland - Sheepstor

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Adventures of Young James Brooke (Part 2)

Not too long ago, I ordered (from an antique books store in Australia) a book that included the letters of Rajah James Brooke to his lady friend Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts.

It chronicles the most interesting relationship between Rajah Brooke with this lady, who actually gave significant sums of her own money in support of Rajah Brooke's cause in Sarawak. One would think we should have at least a road in Kuching named after her.

Anyway, this book will obviously take pride of place in my Sarawak history book collection. Reading these letters is interesting because it gives me amore direct impression of James Brooke's thoughts and writing style. In the history books that we were taught from in school, it was usually a third person's narrative of the Brooke story. In this book, you get a first-hand insight into the First Rajah (and even before he became Rajah).

For the rest of this posting, let me share some photos of selected pages from the book with you ...

Note the book sitting on my traditional native tablecloth

A close up of the book spine

Title pages of the book

One of the Contents pages

Part of the Introduction chapter

A part of the history e never learnt in school ... which explains much about
why Rajah James Brooke never got married

Hope you enjoyed reading about this little piece of our Sarawak history ...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Some Titles in My Sarawak History Collection

Here are some of the books I have collected over the years ...

Pic 1

Pic 2

Pic 3

Will add more in another posting ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Adventures of Young James Brooke (Part 1)

Many Sarawakians and friends of Sarawak may know the story of Sarawak under the Brooke family. Even those who didn't pay much attention in class back in their schooldays would vaguely remember being told that it all started in 1839. That was when the English adventurer James Brooke sailed up the Sarawak River and first sighted the rows of attap houses that make up the city now called Kuching. The rest, as they say, is history.

Well, I have often wondered about the story of James Brooke BEFORE that time ... What was he like as a child? Where did he live? What were his parents like? What kind of early education did he receive? What about his social life? Any girlfriends or boyfriends? What about the time he spent in India and England and Burma (where he fought and was wounded) and other parts he spent time in before he came to Sarawak?

I'm talking about the story before the story we all knew. In Hollywood terms, I believe it's known as a prequel. They did it for Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Sherlock Holmes, Bruce Lee  ... so why not Mr Brooke? 

So I have started a bit of research on this, and over a series of postings I'd like to share what I have found so far. I'll also need your help. I welcome any new information you have come across on this theme, so that together we may piece together what could be a most interesting story.

Anyway let's begin ...

Childhood in India

James Brooke was born on 29 April 1803 in Secrore, a suburb of Benares in India. He was the second son of English judge (of the High Court of India) Thomas Brooke, and Anna Maria Stuart, who was born in Hertfordshire. She was the illegitimate daughter of Scottish peer Colonel William Stuart, 9th Lord Blantyre, and his mistress Harriott Teasdale.

James Brooke lived in India for the first 12 years of his life. I am still looking for details of his childhood life here, which I reckon would be pretty comfortable given his father's status. I will try to delve into this in more detail in a future posting.

Anyway at age 12, he was sent back to attend school in England. 

James Brooke in School

So it was around 1815 that James Brooke started school at Norwich Grammar School (see map above to locate Norwich).  The school is a very old one and still there, apparently doing quite well. 

This is the school crest. You can find out more about Norwich School by clicking on HERE or THERE..

The school boasts some fine architecture. Below you see the school chapel, which I believe was already there during James Brooke's time.

Norwich School Chapel

Norwich Grammar School is closely associated with Norwich Cathedral
(original construction of which began in 1096, was completed in 1145,
and the final stone spire was erected in 1480)

At the time the headmaster was Mr. Edward Valpy (a brother of the famous Dr. Valpy of Reading).  During Brooke's school days Dr. Samuel Parr, who at one time had been the headmaster, was a frequent visitor at the school.

Among James Brooke's schoolmates was Sir Archdale Wilson, the captor of Delhi in 1857 (link to this SITE for something on their comradeship), and George Borrow, English author of novels and travelogues.

James Brooke was a boy of marked generosity, truthfulness, and courage. Apparently on one occasion he saved the life of a school-fellow who had fallen into the river Wensum.

However the young James obviously didn't like school much. He ended his school life somewhat abruptly by running away.

I can't find any records of exactly how long he stayed at Norwich School but it seems that he did not stay long - perhaps 2 years at most. We do know that at age sixteen, he was appointed a cadet of infantry in Bengal. It is also mentioed in some writings that he was tutored at home in Bath (see later) for a while after he left school.

After Norwich Grammar School, records show that James also attended Honourable East India Company Military School, Addiscombe, Surrey. This was probably the preparatory training required for his intended military career.

James Brooke the Soldier

Brooke joined the army in India on 5 May 1819, as an Ensign to the 2/6th BNI. He transferred to the 18th BNI in 1824, was promoted to Lieutenant in the 6th BNI on 25 August 1821, and to Assistant Commissary-Gen on 1 May 1822.

On the outbreak of the First Burma War (1824-1826), he formed and drilled a body of native volunteer cavalry, which he commanded in a battle at Rangpur in Assam. Unfortunately on that occasion, he was wounded - most documents record the wound was in the lungs, but a few papers mention that a bullet hit him in the private parts (which may explain why he never married). In any case, this incident led to his being invalided home with a wound pension of 70 Sterling Pounds a year. At some point in his military years, he was also awarded the India Medal.

Apparently James Brooke was "struck off" on 13 Dec 1827 (not sure what this term means, but I reckon it suggests he was no longer fit for duty).

After an absence of upwards of four years he returned to India. It was an unsually long voyage, and he was unable to reach Bengal within the prescribed period of five years. He decided to resign from the East India Company's service in 1830, returning to England in the ship in which he had gone out, and visiting, in the course of his voyage, the Straits settlements of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, China, and Sumatra. During this voyage he seems to have formed the projects which determined his subsequent career.

This is an intriguing period in young James Brooke's life that warrants further research, so I will probably return to it in a future posting.

Widcombe Crescent, Bath

Returning to Bath, where his family resided at No.1 Widcombe Crescent, in the latter part of 1831, James remained in England until 1834

Widcombe Crescent in Bath, Somerset, England is a terrace of fourteen Georgian houses built in 1808 by Thomas Baldwin, and designated a Grade I listed building. 

No. 1 Widcombe Crescent, Bath

We know that in 1834, James Brooke purchased a small brig, and made a voyage to China. I am in search of material on his travels in China, but so far have not been able to find much.
In 1834, his mother Anna Maria died (aged 61), and in the following year his father Thomas Brooke also died (aged 75). James Brooke inherited a fortune of 30,000 Pounds Sterling, purchased a schooner of 142 tons, in which, after a trip to the Mediterranean, he sailed on 16 Dec. 1838 for Borneo. He named his vessel "The Royalist".

[A version of this article appeared in the "Josephians of the Seventies" blog in May 2011]