Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP3790

Sent by:
James Brooke
Sent to:
John Brooke Johnson-Brooke (formerly Johnson)
28 December 1855

Sent by James Brooke, Sarawak, Borneo Island, [Malaysia] to John Brooke Johnson-Brooke (formerly Johnson) [none given] on 28 December 1855.

Record created:
02 February 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


Wallace has queried the reported size of an orang utan (pages 10 and 11) in a letter full of domestic and political detail about Sarawak.

Record notes

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP3790.3704)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House
Finding number:
MSS. Pac. S. 90
Copyright owner:
ęBrooke Heritage Trust

Physical description

Transcription information




Regarding the Bishop


28th Decr 1855

My dear Brooke

The important intelligence of this month is the reputed death of the Patingi at Mecca which although it wants confirmation is probable as there has been severe Cholera in that place.

I am a little uneasy [[2]] about Rajang on account of the fellows there being so abjectly funky; and the Dyaks are so turbulently inclined to come out as to prove the backing they have from Sheriff Musahor I have sent gallon powder and muskets and so soon as the season permits shall proceed my self to put these rascals to rights. In every other respect we are [[3]] quiet and easy and the Kwosi are expecting a reinforcements of some hundreds men - Low1 writes that Bruni is in a wretched condition and the Latter & Makota oppressing the coast shamefully. Im proceeding as Makota gave some umbrage which as to be expected, and is of no consequence, but we are now in the balance whether to be friends or foes - The Sultan is proved to be a bad oppressive man so his position in the [[4]] [two illeg. word] him as a merchant and Makota urges on the devastation of the government beyond all reasonable limits - I may go up early in the season to see how matters stand - the Temongong is our friend & ally and it will rest upon with me to prosecute the Latters coronation

The schooner belonging formerly to Nakodah Mahomed and purchased of the Sultan was wrecked the other day at Oya - the cargo was saved but it is to become the plea for opposing the people -

[[5]] The Bishop returned too day & before Christmas as St John2 & others arrived from Labuan, the day before - so we had a party not wanting in numbers but dull as ditch water - the Bishop is as good as ever & the same as ever - he will take letters patent from this government as Bishop of Sarawak.

I enclose you an article for the Friend of India Read3 shoves up us ahead at a great rate, but I wish he succeeds employing the black guard comy of Mclay & when he can gets [[6]] us very good hearts and heads as the country offers to promote one properly - I am conservative as old folks usually are - I put the pudding to the well baked wall parts before starting a taste - I shall leave you to set fire to the brandy and to also trouble the sweets. I am very confident of the prospects & progress of the course I took in the affairs of the proposed Company4 - it is easier to get into a scrape than to get out of it [[7]] as I should well know and we should by blanking difficulties & leaving matters of vital importance unsettled, [one illeg. word] a heavy penalty some future day - I should not like to leave you such a legacy - I am writing in a desultory manner and I have but very little to say - McKintosh arrived safe & well & leaving soon with Peter5 - I like him and I hope that he will turn into a useful man - Crymble6 is particularly civille to him as on a late occasion it was clearly understood between us that if any single case of [one illeg. word] occurred again, he was to vacate his office without a word - we have the houses house [[8]] in nice order and and for some time been inhabiting your room where we dined on Chrismas day - tis a pleasant apartment - I have put in new Ballien beams to the roof of the dining room & Fox’s7 room and it is painted - besides this I have built a new buttery room on your side & removed the one on mine & I am going to erect a bungalow for Charlie8 - Charlie was with us for a few days - his legs are certainly improved but I did not think him looking bright though he drank Champagne and was very merry - I have received a box of books from Willis9 & the [[9]] and the first installment of wine from Bellamy - If matters go rosary in England I shall stop all luxuries of old for us - do not bring any of the more expensive things I commissioned (as the Yankees would say) but the tooth brushes and a couple of shaving brushes I should like to have and I wish likewise for little cheery things for flowers - about an inch or an inch and a half in diameter and little glass thingumbobs - neither vases or cups or any issue like that - which hold one single flower & made of good glass - Besides this [[10]] posting stop the parcels of the "Times" news paper & send it by post via Southampton til the 4 in & via Marseilles up to the 10th of each month - Even this luxury dispense with if the persecution question goes wrong & let us have nothing but the Home News - So much today my dear Brooke.

- I shall send note to Templer10 by this posting but send him this drawl & the enclosed to let him know all the news.

29th Decr Wallace wrote to [[11]] know whether you have got your written notes on the Mias11 killed by Crymble - particularly the measurements of the hand and height - He is sceptical of the size which is contrary to his experiences.

30th December 1855

A happy New Year to you dear dear Brooke and I doubt not that it will be so in the bosom of home - I have no further intelligence to communicate - Our [one illeg. word] are overpowering - Last night Baba George gave a dinner - tonight we have one here - tomorrow there is a ball at Mrs McDougall’s12 - & next day we likewise celebrate [[12]] the new year at the mission.

We are looking for the mail. I may have another opportunity of writing - Farewell - my love to all - to dear Papa mama brothers & sisters - and to the dear Savages13 & the Stuarts14.

Ever my dear Brooke Your very affect friend


Captain Brooke Brooke

[[13]] Sarawak 5th January 1856

My Dear Brooke

I enclose a letter for you to forward to your aunts I am anxious to tell you at the latest tales by this mail, that all is quiet and well and though we have had no arrivals from the outposts, intelligence would have been received had anything untoward occurred. The "Maria" has come in on her way to Borne without bringing any mail and be hanged to them - which is just a dirty dodge to keep the price of Sago in Singapore a secret. Tomorrow shall teach them a lesson. The reports of the [[14]] immigration of Chinese from Sambas begin to assume some reliable shape. The Kunsi has been with me to say they expect from three to five hundred people - perhaps more - as their people amount to some 3000 - and a good many might come. Outside men say 2000 at least shortly after the new year - and there is beyond doubt a general disaffection against the Dutch and a desire to move here. Our road is complete to Sungei Tengah so far as cutting and laying down batangs - it is about 4½ miles from the rock & comes out opposite Batu Kawah. Farewell & with love to all ever Your affect uncle & friend


[[15]] Remit £250 for quota to Cameron & Booty15 My law expenses & your wants


1. Hugh Low, government servant in the colony of Labuan

2. Spenser St John, James Brooke's private secretary from 1848 until he became British Consul-General in Brunei in 1855

3. William H. Read, Singapore businessman and friend of James Brooke

4. The Borneo Company, established in Sarawak in 1856

5. Peter Middleton, James Brooke's servant in 1838, was chief constable in 1855

6. There were two Crymbles, William and Charles Adair, possibly brothers. William had been James Brooke's secretary in 1842, but Charles became treasurer

7. Charles James Fox, joined the Mission in 1851 but left to work for Brooke in 1855

8. Charles Johnson, James Brooke's nephew

9. Willis – possibly Willes Johnson, uncle of (John Johnson) Brooke

10. John C. Templer, James Brooke's friend in London

11. Mias is the local (Land Dyak/Bidayuh) name for the orang utan.

12. Harriette McDougall, wife of the Bishop of Labuan.

13. Margaret, younger sister of James Brooke, had married into the Savage family

14. James Brooke's mother was Anna Maria Stuart

15. Cameron & Booty, James Brooke's solicitors in London

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.