Letter, 1852

Writen and signed by Rajah James Brooke of Sarawak


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Letter dated 20 April 1852 handwritten and signed by Sir James Brooke, first Rajah of Sarawak, to Charles Steward, a captain in the mercantile navy of the East India Company.

In the letter, Brooke asks Steward to leave the parcel of papers at the United Service Club, promising to “consult you on the use I wish to make of them (should it be desirable or advantageous) before taking any step,” and regretting Steward could not attend “the great dinner on the 30th.” It is probable that the parcel of papers concerns the major issue facing Brooke at that time: the dispute with the East India Company over the original Brunei coal grant, compounded by the wider controversy about Brooke’s authority in Sarawak. In April 1852, Brooke formally protested the exclusive privilege granted to the Company.

Charles’ brother was George Steward, an acquaintance of Brooke’s from their school days at the prestigious Norwich School. George, who like his brother joined the mercantile navy of the East India Company, was killed fighting pirates in Sarawak for Rajah James Brooke at age 39.

Medium & Techniques

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Ink on paper


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Page folded to 7 x 4½ inches

People involved

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  • Acquired from Julian Browning of Historical Autographs, Ltd.
  • Acquired by Julian Browning as part of a mixed lot at a London book auction in 2014