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