three pairs of lovers with space



Brave, romantic and highly adventurous, Sir James Brooke (1803-68) was a character perfectly attuned to appeal to Victorian schoolboys. Investing his fortune in a ship, he sailed out to the island of Borneo, where he repressed a rebellion for the local ruler, established himself as founder and first of the white Rajahs of Sarawak in the north of the island, and went on to fight and defeat pirates in a succession of campaigns. Liberal, not much interested in money and hopeless at making it, he was a hero for the more benign ideals of British imperialism. However, what Victorian boys were not taught and never knew, unless they were amongst the lucky few who met Sir James themselves, was that the attraction was very much reciprocated.

Unsurprisingly, Brooke has been the subject of many biographies, but though they generally acknowledged that “he was at his best with the young”, as Sir Steven Runciman put it,[I] and some acknowledged a homosexual side to him, if only repressed, the story of his love of boys was only finally told in the article presented here, a monograph on his sexuality by Australian historian Dr. J. H. Walker published as “ ‘This peculiar acuteness of feeling’: James Brooke and the enactment of desire" in the Borneo Research Bulletin 29 (1988) pp. 148-189.

Sir James's locally built ship 'Jolly Bachelor' in combat with two Illanun pirate prahus

Included in the same publication were four academic papers written in response. All of these accepted the evidence that Brooke was at least very fond of boys, but three argued that Walker overstated his case in arguing that his friendships with them were necessarily or even just probably sexual. These elicited a reply from Walker, of which the bit offering most useful clarification of his conclusions is presented here as a “Postscript.”

However, the most thorough and useful analysis of Brooke’s sexuality which was able to take Walker’s findings on board was offered by Nigel Barley in his subsequent general biography, which also offered the reader new material. The most important excerpts regarding Brooke’s sexuality are presented here as a “Supplement”.

To preserve the numbering of Dr. Walker's huge number of footnotes and distinguish them from the others on this page, a separate numbering in Roman numerals has been adopted for the latter.


“This Peculiar Acuteness of Feeling”: James Brooke and the Enactment of Desire by J. H. Walker


There recently appeared, on the walls of faculty buildings in the University of Cambridge, a series of posters advertising a ‘Radical History Group’. Its declared purpose was the discussion of ‘Feminist, Gay, Marxist or any other Radical perspectives’. The aspirant to historical truth is left wondering what insights a ‘Feminist historian’ could bring to such issues as British fiscal policy during the Napoleonic Wars, or how a ‘Gay historian’ would interpret, for example, the life of Archbishop Laud. Doubtless, these specialists have their utility; but since their intellectual criteria, and their personal starting points, have reference solely to their present needs and preoccupations there is always a risk that they will merely hold a mirror before their own countenances. It is a commonplace of historical criticism that this has frequently happened.[1]


The first of the Brooke Rajahs of Sarawak, James, was one of the leading Englishmen of his generation. Although his career as empire builder and as the founder of the modern state of Sarawak has generated an extensive historical and biographical literature, his sexuality, and the impact of his private life on his public persona, have generally evaded the many writers who have sought to explicate or exonerate his career. Yet James’s sexuality, even for the earliest Brooke scholars, required clarification. Miss Jacob, in her essay published within months of his death, considered it necessary to explain that James had been chaste, and that among Malays and Dyaks he drew authority from his chastity.[2] Spenser St. John, to whose sensitivity in the public presentation of Brooke’s sexuality I shall return, later claimed of James that “the purity of his private life . . . was a bright example to those around him.”[3]  

Although modern writers might have been expected to have been more vigorous in their analysis than Jacob and St. John, their insights have been constrained by the ideological dominance of heterosexuality. Attempts by recent scholars to portray Brooke’s sexuality in terms of modern heterosexual paradigms have caused them to include James in the essentially heterosexist myth of the latent homosexual. According to James’s most recent biographer, Nicholas Tarling,

James Brooke liked to have young men about him; but there is no evidence of overt homosexuality…. If he loved a man, it was certainly Charles Grant; but the letters to ‘Doddy’ are those of a kind uncle. That homosexual leanings were latent in the Raja is, perhaps, a more acceptable view.[4]

Attempts to construct James according to twentieth century models have led to inconsistency and confusion. Reece quoted Spenser St. John’s correspondence, which suggested that James was known to have had an affair with Jem Templer, to conclude that “circumstantial evidence pointed to the possibility that James was homosexual, at least latently so.”[5] Reece then sought to include James among those “suppressed homosexuals who sublimated their sex-drive in empire-building,” whose existence was propounded by Ronald Hyam, yet suggested also that James had sought to conceal a homosexual affair with Reuben Walker by claiming that Reuben was his long lost son.[6] Even the suggestion of sublimation would strain Graham Saunders’ credulity. Saunders claimed that James’s “well attested” “delight in the company of younger men and boys” indicated merely that he was “somewhat immature.”[7] Although Saunders agreed with Tarling in characterising James’s relationships with his young men as “avuncular,” he failed to perceive even the apparently unrealised desire that Tarling and Reece suggested.[8]



The heterosexual paradigm and its homosexual converse assumed in the literature about James Brooke are modern constructs. Much of the confusion and obfuscation about Brooke derives from their inappropriate deployment, from their inadequacy for the analysis of love in the nineteenth century. The term ‘homo-sexuality’ was only introduced into English in 1892; translated from the German, in which it had been conceived by Karl Maria Kertbeny in 1869, the year after James Brooke had died.[9] Yet this axis along which, in the modern world, desire has come to be configured is now so hegemonic that it is believed by many to be universal in time and place: if homosexual transgression occurred in history, was it not defined by its deviation from an heterosexual norm? Such assumption fails to recognise that heterosexuality, “no less than homosexuality, is a historically specific social category and identity.”[10]

There is not room here to chart the debate among historians of sexuality over the precise timing and location of the emergence of modern hetero- and homo-sexuality. It is important to note, however, both that sex between men and adolescent boys was a paradigmatic form of sexual experience in the pre-modern world, and that the inequality is such relationships mirrored a wider gender inequality. Although, as Foucault argued, the rise of bourgeois marriage, which allowed couples unprecedented privacy and autonomy, served to marginalize further other sexual relationships and practices as unnatural,[11] the changing status of women in European culture to which it was linked was mirrored also by the gradual rise of more equal sexual relations between adult men.[12] Modern western sexualities developed as the gender of the sex object increasingly came to outweigh other elements affecting the construction of sexual identity, such as social behaviour and the sexual roles adopted. Chauncey’s research explores how this process occurred unevenly, affected by factors such as class, ethnicity, religion and region. Indeed, Chauncey can demonstrate how the introduction of new, more restrictive sexual categories was negotiated by the United States Navy as late as the 1920s.[13]

The interpretation of nineteenth century desire is thus complicated by the transition in the construction of sexual indentities which was occurring throughout the period. By 1800, the larger European cities, including Bath, where James Brooke spent much of his adolescence and young manhood, contained subcultures which anticipated, in their emphasis on equal relations between adult men, modern gay existence, and which featured cruising grounds and transvestite clubs.[14] Yet Murray is correct in arguing that age-based relationships were not replaced by these new more equal patterns. For Murray, the equation of male-to-male sexual practice with visible effeminacy from the onwards served to camouflage the continuance of earlier patterns of male desire, including “the age-graded use of boys.”[15] Trumbach has himself cited research to suggest that, even into the twentieth century, English working class culture could allow youths to have sex with adult men without losing sexual status, and without being labelled as homosexual.[16]

Nineteenth century sexuality was constructed within a multiplicity of discourses about desire, in which the meaning of activities and relationships could vary according to social differentials. Much of the empirical material which has underpinned the emergence of the history of male sexuality has come from the evidence presented at trials of men charged with sodomy. Such material records, often with exactitude, physical intimacies. It testifies to the widespread occurrence of sexual relations among men and boys historically (and, even, to the nonchalance with which, among some groups, such criminalized activity was regarded).[17] What this material does not provide is guidance on the interpretation of less physically specific evidence. Mostly, historians face the problem of not knowing definitely what someone did in bed. Yet the very diversity of patterns of desire in the nineteenth century suggests the inadequacy of seeking to analyse historical figures just in terms of where they put their genitals. It is not merely that such activity could have such different meanings in different contexts, even the importance of genital contact to the formation of identity can be demonstrated to be of modern origin. Chauncey has shown how the absence of genital contact was emphasised by early twentieth century churchmen seeking to have their behaviour excluded from the opprobrium of the new homosexual construct. What is interesting in Chauncey’s analysis is not just that churchmen sought to exclude themselves from homosexual categories in this way, but that they saw the need to, and that their attempts to do so were contested by some of their contemporaries, for whom social roles and intimacies remained more important in attributing sexual status than genital contact.[18]

Rather than trying to define historical figures in modern sexual terms, it is possible to analyse them in their contemporary context, seeking to establish the meaning of their relationships in the expressions in which they were communicated.[19] In the case of James Brooke, this possibility is enhanced by his extensive body of correspondence and diaries. James’s surviving records offer the opportunity to discard broad and inappropriate labels deriving from and denoting modern sexualities, allowing historians to focus, instead, and in detail, on how he expressed his love and desire in terms meaningful to its objects and to his friends, and acceptable within the social constraints he observed.       



James Brooke as a child

James Brooke was born in the Indian holy city of Benares (Varanasi) on 29 April 1803 to Thomas Brooke and his wife, Anna Maria Stuart. Both families had been long involved with India. Thomas served the East India Company as a Political Officer and, eventually, as a judge on the Benares Bench. When James was 12 he was sent to school at Norwich in England. He ran away from Norwich and from other schools to which his guardian in England sent him. After their retirement to Bath, therefore, James’s parents educated him privately at home. He joined the Bengal Army on 11 May 1819, serving in the Anglo-Burmese War until he was severely wounded in January 1825.[20]

Owen Rutter has presented claims by John Dill Ross that James was wounded in the genitals, with the suggestion that he was left impotent. Rutter noted that this notion was a tradition in the Brooke Family,[21] and Emily Hahn claimed that it was also a tradition in the family of James’s greatest female friend, Angela Burdett Coutts.[22] This account, if accepted, could be used to support theories that James was asexual.[23] It might excuse his almost total lack of sexual interest in women, at the same time explaining as avuncular his interest in boys he could never father. There is no basis for the story, however. John Dill Ross never know Brooke, and those parts of his evidence that can be checked contain errors which raise doubts about his reliability. Traditions in families are often wrong,[24] and James Brooke’s sister’s family, to whom Mr Ratter referred, had powerful reasons for arguing that James was unable to father a child. Other members of James’s family, with less material interest in the issue, did not agree.[25]

Sir James negotiating with the Sultan of Brunei to confirm his being fully sovereign Rajah of Sarawak, 1842

James never resumed duty with the East India Company, resigning his commission on his return to India in order to continue on board the ship where he had made friends.[26] On his father’s death, he returned to the Indonesian archipelago on a voyage of geographical enquiry. In 1841, after a complicated series of military and political conflicts, he seized power at Sarawak and extracted formal appointment as its raja from the Brunei viceroy and, eventually, the Sultan of Brunei, himself. Following his accession as raja, Brooke was appointed as the British Government’s Confidential Agent to the Princes of Borneo, and, subsequently, British Consul General in Borneo and Governor of new colony of Labuan.[27] Although Brooke was poised to become a major figure in British imperial affairs, by 1854 public outrage at the loss of life caused by his campaigns against native rivals and opponents encouraged the British Government to distance itself from him.[28] Its Inquiry into his activities in Borneo forced him to resign his British offices and effectively ended his public career under the British crown.[29] Although Brooke died in 1868 without realising his imperial ambitions, the dynasty of English rajas which he founded lasted until 1946, and the state of Sarawak which he helped to create has survived as part of the Federation of Malaysia.

According to St John, James Brooke

stood about five feet ten inches in height; he had an open, handsome countenance; an active supple frame; a daring courage that no danger could daunt; a sweet, affectionate disposition which endeared him to all who knew him well.[30]

Rajah James Brooke by Sir Francis Grant, 1847

The ambivalence of James’s affections and attentions was remarked upon by his contemporaries. Miss Jacob, reporting the opinions of some of his friends, attributed to him that “manlike and imposing beauty which strikes men and women alike.”[31] She adjudged him “ready to give full sympathy, alike to woman as to man, in joy and in sorrow,” quoting Kegan Paul’s opinion that he “was one of those men who are able to be the close and intimate friends of women without a tinge of lovemaking.”[32] Handsome, or even beautiful, James had highly tuned social graces, learned, no doubt, in society in Regency Bath. He was a skilled and clever conversationalist, at dinner keeping “the table alive with his talk….”[33] His conversation could bruise as well as sparkle, however. His principal opponent in Singapore, the journalist, Woods, himself a vigorous polemicist, reported that “His Excellency possesses a vocabulary of vituperation such as I honesty confess would in a moment crush and overwhelm me….”[34] James was “particularly natty and elegant in all his personal surroundings.”[35] In fact, according to St. John, “you could never enter any place where Mr Brooke had passed a few days without being struck by the artistic arrangement of everything: his good taste was shown even in trifles, though comfort was never sacrificed to show.”[36] James’s care with his own person and with the appearance of his party, and his pursuit of style and distinction, sometimes occasioned mild amusement among observers. At a wedding is Sarawak, Mrs McDougall reported that James and his young men

came to Church dressed in full uniform, [his nephew, Brooke] Brooke’s and St. John’s are very handsome. Fox, Charley Johnson & Rajah had also braided and gold thread about them, though not cocked hats and feathers and gold epaulettes….”[37]

He also used various cosmetics. His nephew’s wife, Annie, complained that James “helps himself to my perfume bottles not to say others also.”[38]

James’s passion for elegance and adornment, his preference for feminine perfumes and the baroque sharpness of his tongue do not support the aesthetic images of him that were manufactured to explain his lack of sexual interest in women and to preclude sexual interpretations of his relationships with youths and young men: James presented a complex model of masculinity which was irreconcilable with the emerging, muscular traditions of imperial Christianity which he seems to have delighted in ridiculing.[39]



It is clear from James’s own records that he did not find in sexual heterodoxy cause for condemnation. In his published diaries, he described the “strangest custom” on Sulawesi, where “some men dress like women, and some women like men; not occasionally but all their lives, devoting themselves to the occupations and pursuits of their adopted sex.” James recorded that

the parents of a boy, upon perceiving in him certain effeminacies of habit and appearance, are induced thereby to present him to one of the rajahs, by whom he is received. These youth often acquire much influence over their masters, as is the case in Turkey, whose history abounds in instances of the rise of these young favorites to the highest honours and power. It would appear, however, from all I could learn, that the practice leads among the Bugis to none of those vices which constitute the opprobrium of Western Asia.[40]

Dyak festival in a traditional longhouse, Dutch Borneo,1846

Nor was James shocked to discover among Sarawak’s Dyaks similarly transgendered roles. Manang bali were powerful in Iban society, functioning as the “doctor and priest of the village” and mediating their communities’ relations with the supernatural, especially by diagnosing and expelling the supernatural causes of illness.[41] Hugh Low recorded that the manang bali’s

dress precisely resembles that of a women, wearing no chawat, or waistcloth, as the man, but the bedang, or short dress of the other sex, together with the appropriate ornaments. Not satisfied with the assumption of the dress of the women, the manang, the more to resemble them, takes to himself a husband, who is generally a widower having a family … he is treated in every  respect as a women, and does not go to war with the men….[42]

James’s published views on these transgenders are ambiguous:

There is decidedly something unpleasant to European ideas in the marriage of man with man, although I believe it to be solely an absurd superstition. Nonetheless, the custom is not a good one….[43]

These comments, which are, as far as I am aware, the only record of James’s opinions on such subjects, deserve close scrutiny. James’s reference to the “vices which constitute the opprobrium of Western Asia” indicates that he was familiar with those travelers’ accounts of Turkey and the Levant which comprised, almost, a literature of sodomy, in which Arabs, Turks, and Persians were commonly represented as lovers of boys.[44] James’s carefulness in observing that men and women on Sulawesi dressed as the opposite sex “not occasionally but all their lives,” suggests precisely that he was otherwise aware of people cross-dressing occasionally.[45] Finally, James categorised men marrying men as “unpleasant to European ideas” and as “an absurd superstition,” rather than contrary to the laws of nature or of god. In presenting the practice as relatively harmless, he denied the authority of the European ideas that would condemn it.

As his comments might indicate, James’s views on issues of wider morality were unconventionally libertarian, recalling the looser mores of Regency society rather than anticipating the emerging domesticity of the Victorian age. As James grew older, his attitudes became even more pronounced. Late in his life, when Spenser St. John was attacked by Church authorities for encouraging another man to take a native mistress, James fulminated against the Church’s own “narrow religious education & the terrors of superstition habitually inculcated.” In James’s view “the worst perversion of a man is a priestly defilement of his mind - debasing the powers which God has given to be used, & making his judgment the slave of a priestly system.”[46]



Norwich Grammar School, where George Western was James's best friend

James Brooke’s emotional susceptibility to his own sex dated from his schooldays, He appears to have hated school. In later life he demanded of a friend whose son had just been sent to boarding school: “To be a man, must we be battered and shattered whilst boys?”[47] His best friend at his boarding school was a boy named George Western. When Western left the school to go to sea, James was inconsolable and ran away.[48] Whereas some scholars of sexuality have argued that English school behavior constituted a distinct category of desire,[49] writers on Sarawak have avoided seeing James’s actions as evidence of emotional dependence or of a romantic friendship between him and Western. Owen Rutter, for example, attributed his running away instead to a “spirit of adventure.”[50]

In 1830 James embarked for India on the Castle Huntley. He was required by the rules of the East India Company to rejoin his regiment by 20 July of that year. James arrived in Madras on 18 July 1830 and, deciding that he would not be able to resume duty in time, resigned his commission, proceeding on the Castle Huntley to China.[51]

Gertrude Jacob reported that Thomas Brooke had already arranged for the rules to be waived should James’s return trip be delayed. She explained that James resigned “ignorant of this indulgence.”[52] St. John claimed that James had become friendly with the Castle Huntley’s officers, who so excised his desire to see the countries of the far east that is simply used the time constraint as an excuse.[53] Frank Marryat, who knew James in Sarawak, has suggested some deeper story, writing mysteriously that, “if the private history which induced him to quit the service, and afterwards expatriate himself, could with propriety, and also regard to Mr Brooke’s feelings, be made known, it would redound still more to his honour and his high principle; but these I have no right to make public.”[54] It is possible that Marryat here referred to the complications of James’s falling in love. The merchant, Helms, who also came to know James well in Sarawak, referred to “an accidental friendship on board” as contributing to his decision to resign.[55] In fact, it appears that James became involved, successively, with three members of the Castle Huntley’s crew.

James "Jem" Lethbridge Templer, as a man

The first object of this affection appears to have been Jem Templer. It is clear that James developed a deep affection for Jem. Gertrude Jacob quoted Jem’s sister-its-law as recording that “Brooke took an immense fancy to him.”[56] Evidence that their relationship might not have been platonic comes from St. John, who told Charles Grant that, when he was preparing his famous biography of James, “one judicious friend advised me to say nothing disagreeable about Templer and the young Rajah: I would carry out that wish as far as possible.”[57][II] James Brooke remained a close friend of Jem and, later, of his brother, Jack, spending much of his time during the subsequent four or five years at the Templer family’s home at Bridport.[58] James latter wrote to Jem in Australia, suggesting that, if he found Sydney disappointing, he could settle in Sarawak, where James would “be able to forward his views.”[59]

James’s relationship with the Castle Huntley’s surgeon, Cruikshank, is more transparent, as it seems to have been more intense. James’s first biographer, Miss Jacob, who had access to letters since lost, noticed the strength of James’s feeling for Cruikshank. She referred to a postscript to one of James’s letters, in which there was “a sentence which he would never have written except to one for whom he kept his heart of hearts.”[60] Cruikshank’s affection for James was well established by the time the two men were in China; when James fell ill “Mr Cruikshank cared for him with a special care.”[61]

The surviving text of one letter from James to Cruikshank written on 4 December 1831, after James had returned from staying with Cruikshank in Scotland, is worthy of scrutiny. In it, James is clearly concerned with more than friendship, however intense. James specifically addressed the possibility of a relationship with Cruikshank which transgressed, or had transgressed, the platonic. “I never could be otherwise than your friend,” he wrote, “and what service I could do you, you should be as welcome to as a glass of water; but beyond my esteem and goodwill I have nothing to offer, and so you must accept these for want of better, and give me yours in return.”[62]

Although this could be read as declining intimate overtures from Cruikshank, thus supporting Nicholas Tarling’s view that James should be regarded as a latent homosexual, it seems to me, rather, to mark, to mark the termination of an affair.[III] When Cruikshank seemed offended or hurt by James’s letter, falling silent, James was reduced to importuning letters from him: “I will not allow your nonsensical plea of having nothing to say; you think and you feel, and that is good enough for a thousand letters.”[63] James’s effort to retain Cruikshank’s friendship, including the gentleness with which he treats his friend, is not consistent with his just declining unwelcome overtures.

The East Indiaman Castle Huntly in the Channel off Dover by William John Huggins

James’s reverie, when, a year later, Cruikshank sailed again for the east, invoked the intensity of feeling between the two men. James again expressed his regret at his own inadequacy and reminded Cruikshank of their time together.

I shall think of you very often sailing away in the dear old Huntley, and revisiting so many of those lovely scenes which we greatly enjoyed together. Mind you go to the waterfall at Penang, and the clear pool just below it, where we bathed, and where I left my shirt my shirt hanging like a banner on the prostrate tree which lay across the stream. You will take a ride, perhaps, to the Devil’s pool, and through the glades and glens where we went shooting, and a row among the islands at Singapore, and other scenes, all which are indelibly impressed on my memory….  If I do not positively regret your going, I shall greatly rejoice at your coming back. I deserved it better, but such as I am such as are my poor regards you may ever rest assured they will remain the same as at present.[64]

The intimacy which James described the two enjoying in Penang and Singapore had been undermined by James’s subsequent attraction to a boy called Stonhouse. When, after the voyage of the Huntley ended and the crew dispersed, Stonhouse failed to answer James’s letters, James wrote to Cruikshank confiding his uncertainties. His letter suggests the extent of his infatuation:

I cannot help having some hope that Stonhouse may value my acquaintance a little more than I give him credit for; but the real truth is, I have ever been too complying with his slightest wish, and have shown him too many weaknesses in my character for him to respect me much. Now, you will say, I write as if I were sore, and it is true; but the same feelings that make me so would also make me very ready to acquit S. of all intention to hurt me, for you know how well I liked the boy. I expect nothing from men, however; but if they will give me their affection or shew me kindness I am doubly pleased.[65]

When Stonhouse came to stay at the end of the year, James claimed to be more sanguine, accepting the boy’s failure to answer letters “as the habit of the creature, rather than forgetfulness of old or past times.”[66] His tolerance of Stonhouse’s neglect seems to have indicated his own declining interest, and they are not recorded as having met again.

It is not clear when James began to develop an interest in another youth, an 18 year old who was “active, intelligent ambitious and a bit of a scamp.” By the end of 1834, though, James seems to have tired of him, and was trying to send him to sea. James was prepared to give him money to encourage him to leave, and pressed his friend, Jolly, to find a berth for him.[67]

James’s interest in Stonhouse and in the anonymous youth he pushed onto Jolly presaged what was to become the pattern of his future commitments. With one possible exception, he was henceforth attracted to adolescent boys and youths, sometime to boys like Brereton who, from James’s description of him, was barely pubescent.[IV] If his offer to give the anonymous youth money in 1835 indicates a difference in social position, that too was to become his pattern. In his later life he sought the company of working class boys whose liberties and lack of refinement shocked his older adherents.



The forces of Brooke and HMS Dido's attacking an upriver pirate stronghold in 1843

James Brooke’s campaigns against the Iban of the Saribas and Skrang Rivers from 1843 on attracted the support of successive British naval captains keen to claim the bounties on pirates offered by the British Government. Preeminent among them was Harry Keppel, whose depredations are bitterly recalled by Iban today. James seems to have fallen under the spell of one of Keppel’s midshipmen. Within weeks of Keppel’s arrival in May 1843, James wrote to John Templer,

I mean to ask you, and all my other friends, Jack, to get one of my ‘Dido’s’ midshipmen promoted to lieutenant when he has passed his examination. He is pretty certain of not waiting long, but a little interest - a very little interest at the Admiralty, will give him the step when he is qualified…. I should be very willing to take much trouble, for I am interested in him and like him much, and we have been fighting together, and I have been three weeks cramped up in his second cutter, all of which adds to my interest.[68]

The interest which James admitted to having in this boy was more than casual. The following month he reminded Templer, “Do not forget about young - -, if it come in your way before the regular time.”[69] Two months later James’s tone had become more demanding.

I wrote to you about young -, and I want you to find out whether he will be made a lieutenant when he passes. Keppel says he is certain of being made. If not, I must make some interest for him, for he is a great friend of mine and deserves promotion.[70]

Notwithstanding Templer’s editorial discretion it is possible to identify this new interest of James’ from Keppel’s diaries. The midshipman in the second cutter during the Dido attack on Saribas was a Mr Jenkins,[71] probably the same Robert Jenkins who was preached to lieutenant in March 1846 and posted to the Mediterranean station.[72]

Immersion of H.M.S. Samarang in the Sarawak on 16 July 1843

But James’s generosity was encompassing. In almost the same breath as he demanded that Templer find patronage for one favorite, he noticed another: “In the ‘Samarang’ I found a distant connection, named Brereton, only thirteen years of age, a nice intelligent boy; he has lost everything he had in the ship except a few pair of trousers.”[73][V] James expanded on his attraction to Willie Brereton to his mother and to Templer, emphasising their kinship and the avuncular nature of his feelings:

a youngster, by name Brereton, a nephew of the Bishop of Calcutta’s, and a grandson of Joseph Wilson’s, (only thirteen years of age,) is in the ‘Samarang’. He is a delicate and gentlemanly boy, and his age is tender; and when I think of our Charles [James’s nephew] I cannot help my heart expanding towards him. If you will recall my folly and jokes you will understand why I am inclined to be very kind; and really, already I like him for his own sake. Poor fellow! So young, and not belonging to the ship, and very delicate; in the upset of the ‘Samarang’ he has lost his whole wardrobe. Tomorrow I mean to make him write to his mamma. Could I do less? knowing how you would feel (even old gentleman as I am) were you to beat that my vessel was sunken on the most innocent rock.[74]

To Templer, it was much the same story:

Writing about boys, I have got a sick one with me, of the name of Brereton, a distant relative of mine - he being a great nephew of the Bishop of Calcutta; a fine little fellow belonging to the ‘Wanderer’, but, at present, a supernumerary aboard the ‘Samarang.’ I have got quite fond of him since he has been here; and somehow there is something in the position of a young volunteer of thirteen years of age, which rouses one’s kinder feelings; so young, yet forced into manhood, to share privations and fatigues, when yet a boy. Since my nephew, Charles, has embarked in the same line, I feel doubly inclined to be friendly with all the mids; But Charles is a healthy boy, whereas Brereton is weakly, and of a quiet and reflective turn.[75]

Although James’s own accounts emphasise his kinship with Brereton and his avuncular concern at the latter’s vulnerability. James was attentive to all of the young midshipman of the Samarang, making “frequent” visits to their quarters and, according to the ship’s surgeon, “ingratiating himself with all by the winning kindness of the manner.”[76]

Rajah Muda Hassim

When James arrived in Sarawak in 1839, the settlement was governed by the Brunei prince, Raja Muda Hassim, who lived there with his numerous brothers and their followers. James developed a close relationship with one of Hassim’s brothers. Pengiran Budrudeen,[VI] who, from some time in 1840, appears to have accompanied Brooke everywhere. When James sought to take control of Hassim’s forces confronting Malay rebels he was supported by Budrudeen, who overrode the concerns of his brothers’ commanders. James and Budrudeen held artillery demonstrations to assure the other leaders of the superiority of Brooke’s guns over those of the insurgents.[77]

James’s affection for Budrudeen took time to mature or, at least, to emerge in his correspondence.[78] It was not until September 1843 that he wrote to his mother,

I wish you could know the Pangeran Budrudeen, who with the amiable and east temper of his brother Muda Hassim, combines decision and abilities quite astonishing in a native prince, and a directness of purpose seldom found in an Asiatic. As a companion I find him superior to most of those about me, and there is something particularly interesting, in sounding the depths and the shallows of an intelligent native mind, and observing them freed from the trammels of court etiquette.[79]

To Templer, also, James had written to extol the virtues of Hassim’s

clever younger brother, Budredeen, who is fitted by nature to govern, and will go the entire hog with us. He is a very clever fellow for a native, and far more clever than many better educated and more experienced Europeans.[80]

James seems to have had a profound impact on the young prince, whose own behavior indicates the high regard which he had for James. Frank Marryat reported that, by 1843, Budrudeen had even developed a taste for wine and “followed European customs” in dress.[81]

Rajah James Brooke listening to suppliants

Although Hassim, Budrudeen and the other brothers were dependent on Sarawak and James for their maintenance, their presence, as high ranking members of the Brunei royal family, undermined James’s authority among the Sarawak population. Therefore, when Edward Belcher visited Sarawak in 1843, he found James “strongly impressed with the expediency of removing” them.[82] James’s deep affection for Budrudeen did not stop his sending the young prince away, though he marked their separation by giving Budrudeen his signet ring, bearing his crest.[83] At the Brunei court, Hassim and his brothers engaged in a bitter struggle for power with the faction associated with the sultan, who was their nephew. As their position deteriorated, James became increasingly anxious about Budrudeen’s safety. “If any harm comes to Muda Hassim or Budrudeen, I will burn Borneo end from end,” he told Jack Templer. Unable to persuade the Royal Navy to act against Hassim and Budrudeen’s enemies, James resolved to “act myself; and for this purpose Budrudeen is to send to me in all haste, if endangered.”[84]

When James heard that Hassim and Budrudeen and their brothers had been slain his “excitable nature was roused almost to madness.”[85] “Is the murderer had to go unpunished?” he demanded of Templer,

No. Destroy Bruné, depose the sultan, disperse the population, never allow the place to be rebuilt.

James’s tendency to romance found full expression in the tragedy. He reported that

The signet ring (my own crest, and gift to him) that Budrudeen sent to me in his dying moments, is a pledge not to be false to him in death. It is a poor, a melancholy consolation, that he died so nobly; his last thought was upon me – his last request that I would tell the Queen of England how he perished….

Brooke's local supporters landing in Brunei in support of the Royal Navy and united against the Sultan 1846

Another, a braver, a more upright prince could not exist. I have lost a friend - he is gone and I remain, I trust not in vain, to be an instrument to bring down punishment on the perpetrators of the atrocious deed.[86]

To Harry Keppel, he wrote more simply: “To me personally, nothing can make up the loss of Budrudeen, and I know not whether the noble manner of his death be a grief or a consolation.”[87]

James Brooke bore significant responsibility for Budrudeen’s death. He had urged Hassim to take his brothers back to Brunei, where James hoped they would form an anglophile government which would further British interests (as he defined them) in Borneo, and he encouraged them to confront their rivals at court by promising them British support which he could not deliver. James appeased his conscience by leading a British attack on Brunei, routing the sultan and his party, and attacking the sultan’s supporters northwards along the coast to Marudu.[88]



The strength of James Brooke’s affection for Stonhouse and later for Budrudeen indicates his strongly romantic nature. By the time of Budrudeen’s death, James had already met Charles Grant, the boy with whom, as Nicholas Tarling noted, he formed what was to be the most intense relationship of his life.[89] That Charles helped to avenge Budrudeen might even have strengthened James’s feelings for him, easing the transfer of Brooke’s emotions from the dead Malay prince.

H.M.S. Agincourt by William Frederick Mitchell

James seems to have first met Charles Grant in November 1845, when Charles was 14.[VII] Charles wrote to his father from his ship, HMS Agincourt, that the company was waiting on James’s arrival to transport him to Sarawak.[90] James nicknamed Charles ‘Hoddy Doddy’. The SOED gives four meanings for hoddy - a small shell-snail, a short and dumpy person, confused or in a whirl, and a cuckold.[91] In confirming that the expression commonly referred to a short or clumsy person, an 1811 dictionary of slang provides an intriguing example of its usage: …”Hoddy Doddy, all arse and no body.”[92] Although James’s calling Charles Hoddy Doddy referred to his diminutive stature, the expression also had other connotations, the exact implications of which, for Charles, remain obscure.

By October 1846, James was assiduously courting Charles. The Rajah of Sarawak was aware of the disparity in power between himself and the 15 year old midshipman, proffering his influence in return for Charles’s favor. He wrote to ask that Charles correspond with him, arguing that this would “be of service to you and afford me pleasure.” James wanted Charles to

get sent to some ship in the straits so that I shall have the pleasure of seeing you sometimes. Let me know too if I can help you or pleasure you in this or anything else for you know a Rajah has many ways of being useful to a middy.[93]

Kuching, Sir James's capital, in 1846

James had his Dido diaries sent to Charles, and promised “If I possibly can [to] …meet Agincourt at Singapore,” where “we shall have a scamper on poney back and a dinner at the Hotel.”[94] A series of expensive gifts followed. James “ordered a watch for you which I hope you will like, but if it does not suit you better change it or do what you like with it.”[95] He gave the boy “a very handsome crease & another time he gave me a pair of very handsome 6 barriled pistols beautifully mounted with Silver.”[96]

By the time both James and Charles were preparing to return to Britain in 1847, their attachment was well-established. James’s 20 page missive, “The Rajah’s Journal to the Hoddy Doddy,” testifies to his obsession with the boy.[97] James kept the journal-letter between 12 and 26 March 1847, while he was waiting for Charles to join him in Singapore. It was a means of keeping contact with Charles while they were physically separated. Its pages resonate with the companionable intimacy James and Charles shared. James opened the letter,

When lounging in your easy chairs - I won’t mention Where - you looked serious and I asked “What are you thinking of?” You replied “nothing.” Truly had you been sound asleep you should have said “No think” (a Pun) for a waking man must be thinking of something.[98]

James’s love for Charles is palpable. The flow of his writing was dictated by his mood –

I write because I am dull, and not sleepy. What better reason would you have - and because I am inclined.[99]

James’s feelings about Charles’s return to England were ambiguous. He wanted to give Charles money to indulge himself, while warning him about the emptiness of vanity.

I wish you Doddy to spend some money of your own, when you arrive in England - it will be doing me a favour for though I know well you will have all you require, I wish you to have something more on your own account. I wish you to go to Vanity Fair[100] - I wish you to buy fine clothes, fine studs, fine rings or any other fine things you may have a fancy for, and then ask your heart how much pleasure they bestow.[101]

But the letter also reveals James’s anxiety that their relationship might not survive removal from the naval environment of men and boys where it had so flourished.

Now Doddy my friend I will close this Journal as I shall see you every day till you sail. Farewell - may fortune be with you - success and happiness and if you be successful and happy I will forgive you if you forget me, but if any evil come to you, if you be unfortunate or unhappy remember that you have a friend and do not then neglect him./ever yours/The Rajah[102]

Charles Grant, aged 15, in Undress Naval Uniform, 17 June 1847, attributed to his uncle Sir Francis Grant and probably intended to pair with the latter's painting of Sir James (above)

James need not have worried. Charles’s letter to his family extolled his friend’s virtues, announcing that he intended to visit “a place called ‘White Lackington’ near Wminster where a sister of my great friend Mr Brooke lives.” Charles pressed on his mother the advantages of his friendship with the celebrated James Brooke, who was urging the equally celebrated Keppel to take him under his command.[103] The bracelet of Sarawak gold that Charles brought home to his mother as a gift from James might also have helped to open the way for them to pursue their friendship in England.[104]

In England, James missed the boy’s company intensely whenever they were apart. In September 1847, he wrote to Charles at his parents’ house in Scotland, “do if you can come and see me otherwise I much come and see you, and it will not be difficult as I have several visits to pay in Scotland.” “Come and see me,” he begged,

just as thought you were walking into my cabin aboard the Old ship. Do not turn fine gentleman or let the fooling and starch of the home world come between you and your very/sincere friend/ J Brooke[105]

The two corresponded at an intense rate. When James failed to receive a letter from Charles for just a few days he wrote, “I miss your dispatches and much have them. Do you hear!” And in the same letter he promised that, though “I can’t say when I can come to Scotland… it shall be sometime.”[106] His next letter resumed his plea for Charles to join him instead: “come to London and I will have quarters for you here as I have a spare bedroom to offer your honour,” he wrote.[107] And again on 19 October, “Come if you can on the 22 or 23rd.”[108]

James’s influence secured Charles a berth under Keppel’s command - “Your uncle, Captain Keppel,” as he described the famous commander to Charles.[109] He also arranged his own passage back to the new colony of Labuan, of which he had been appointed Governor, aboard Keppel’s ship, HMS Meander. James was clear about the attraction of these arrangements:

I shall go in Maender just to take care of you as I know you cannot take care of yourself and I feel sure that your journey to Scotland had been marked by the debris of your property - Pray where did you leave my red tie?”[110]

James’s return to England had been a resounding success. He had called on the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, been received by Queen Victoria at Windsor, been presented with the Freedom of the City of London and received an LL D from Oxford University.[111] James Brooke was the toast of his country. But the great man’s return to the east was subject to a boy’s whim. His itinerary “will bear squeezing if you wish it or can improve it,” James told Charles.[112]

H.M.S. Maeander casting from Spithead by O.W. Brierly

James and his party sailed for Singapore in February 1848. True to form, James quickly established a rapport with the Meander’s midshipmen. When the vessel called at Cork, James reported that Charles and another of the middies, Kingslake, “are out buying sardines and cherry brandy.”[113] Spenser St. John, whom James had recruited as his secretary, has provided fascinating details of the voyage out:

Mr Brooke….had a large cabin, and this was the rendezvous of as unruly a set of young officers as it has been my fortune to meet. He had a nephew on board, Charles Johnson… who endeavored to preserve order, but it was of little avail. The noisy ones were in the ascendant, led by a laughing, bright-faced lad… whose fondness for cherry-brandy was only equalled by his love of fun. No place in the cabin was respected: six or seven of them would throw themselves on the bed, careless whether Mr Brooke was there or not, and skylark over his body as if he were one of themselves. In fact he was as full of play as any one of them.

St. John watched

With astonishment at the liberties taken with his chief…these young imps thought of nothing but fun: they ate his biscuits, drank his cherry-brandy, laughed, sang, and skylarked, till work was generally useless, and nothing was done.[114]

Notwithstanding the pleasure James took in the company of all the midshipmen, his affections remained focused on Charles. According to St. John, Charles “was the one with the laughing eyes, who was the leader of the noisy fun in Mr Brooke’s cabin.”[115] It was Charles who James designated his aide-de-camp, “half in fun at first….”[116] And it was surely Charles to whom St. John referred in describing how James “would often get up and keep the middle watch with a friend, walking the deck from 12 PM to 4 AM, or at least a good portion of it.”[117]

Not all of the officers of Meander approved of James’s plying the midshipmen with cherry-brandy and biscuits and romping with them on the bed. St. John recorded that a “coolness” developed between the officers and James. His explanation, that the “senior officers thought themselves slighted in favour of their juniors, whose natural impatience of control was heightened by the injudicious encouragement they received,”[118] seems disingenuous. It is more likely that the officers’ coolness towards James reflected their disapproval of his behavior, both in his cabin and during the middle watch.

Volcanic Mountain, Comba Island observed by HMS Maeander Oct. 1849, by O.W. Brierly

Although Charles had been designated his aide-de-camp half in fun, James had hoped to develop “it into a serious bona fide appointment which will (without removing Charles from his duty aboard) enable him to accompany me on all diplomatic missions.”[119] Such artifice would have required Keppel’s complicity, but Keppel, perhaps under pressure from his officers, would not cooperate. James reported tartly that the “ADCship was intended [by the ship’s command] to be a name and not a reality, so I dropped the designation and told Keppel that I never accepted a shadow for substance.”[120]

James had tried carefully to overcome any concern Charles’s parents might have about his relationship with their son. He had earlier explained to Charles’s father, “I am very fond of him and have become so accustomed to his society and profit so much from his cheerfulness, that I miss him whenever he is away.”[121] James had calculated that the advancement that he, as Governor of Labuan, could offer Charles would be attractive to Charles’s father: James expected Meander to be based at Labuan and, therefore, “that Charles will always have the Governor to take care of him.”[122]

Keppel’s apparent obstinacy over the ADCship forced James to reconsider the public basis of his relationship with Charles. James wrote a long letter to Charles’s father to persuade Mr Grant to hand his son over to him. James explained that “the little boy to whom I showed some attention aboard the Agincourt - merely I believe because he was a little boy - has so won upon my affection and good opinion that I consider him quite as one of my own nephews.” James claimed that he wanted “to advance his interests and to open to him a road to fortune and to independence.” He tried to persuade Grant that Charles was unsuited to the navy.

He is bold, active, and high spirited, with a sincere desire of doing right but at the same time he is reflective, takes little interest in detail - the profession being one of detail - and is sensitive to a very high degree. Indeed this peculiar acuteness of feeling causes diffidence in his own abilities, and subjects him to more pain then he chooses to own, or I am pleased to see.

James explained that, had Charles possessed those qualities which would have suited him to the Royal Navy, “he would not have been my friend and companion and I am so attached to him that I should be very sorry to see these fine qualities blunted or destroyed by the rough and indiscriminating discipline which must be maintained in a rough and hard service.” Charles’s mind, James advised his (by now, surely, perplexed) correspondent, had “a finer and rarer texture” than the Navy needed, and “under gentle and proper guidance will develop into very fine, and certainly into very elegant abilities.”[123]

The first flag of the Kingdom of Sarawak, 1841-8, devised by Sir James using the St. George's Cross

James proposed that Charles leave the Navy to become his private secretary on 200 pounds a year. Charles would “live with me at Labuan and travel, whenever my duty calls me from place to place.” In addition to developing a coconut plantation for Charles, James proposed putting 5000 pounds in trust (keeping the income for his own lifetime), so “that I might have the satisfaction of feeling in case of anything happening to myself, that Charlie would, through my means, be as well off as a post Captain on half-pay.” He promised that he would “as my resources increase add to this fund which Charlie may depend upon.”[124]

A fortnight later, Charles himself wrote to his father. Charles explained that, although when James first outlined his proposal “it quite stunned me, and I hardly knew what to say or answer,” he “began to listen to his arguments.” Charles recounted his relationship with James poignantly, communicating clearly the strength of his love. For its shining eloquence, alone, his letter deserves to be quoted at length. Charles explained that he was bullied and unhappy in the Navy, and that when

the Rajah met me for the first time, he took a fancy to me, I can’t tell why, but I think partly because I was a little fellow, for I was about the smallest in the ship. We went together to Borneo, we were together for some months, he asked me to go to [word obliterated]…[but] we were both refused…. We met again about a year afterwards, I saw a great deal of him, he was on board for nearly six months, we went to Brunei together and several other places. We again met at Penang, about six months after this, and it was there I saw so much of him. We were much together and often corresponded. The long and short of this is that I knew the Rajah, and I loved him. If I got into difficulties or had any rows, or anything of that sort, I went to him for advice…. We were as you know for a long time together during his stay in England, and we both learned a great deal of the other, and he got me appointed this ship…. I have great reason to be fond of the Rajah - I am proud of having such a friend, and I am sure he is as fond of me as I am of him, for he would not have done for me what he has, nor would he have done it without intending to do what he can.

Charles little regarded his prospects in the Navy: “I wish to be with the Rajah because he is my friend and nothing would be better for me,” he wrote.[125]

Having played their hand, James and Charles could only wait anxiously for the Grants’ decision. Their tension is evident in the letter they wrote to Charles’s father from Singapore at the end of May. James told Grant that he and Charles “rarely and briefly” speak of the possibility that Charles would be allowed to go with him, stressing that “All that I would ask of you is to decide soon and to decide as we wish.”[126] To his father, Charles bluntly confirmed, “I still think the same about it.”[127] The strain of waiting for the Grant’s decision took its toll on James’s spirits. He told his friend, Jolly, in July that he was “ill disposed, ill disposed to the world and all therein is.” In a discrete reference to his dependence on Charles, he explained that “Singapore is a dull place because I know nobody that does suit me except one or two far removed from me by years.”[128]

Panoramic View of Singapore from the Harbour by Robert Wilson Wiber, 1849

This period in Singapore, however, was one of the happiest of Charles’s life. The joy in his letter to his sister, Mary, written in June, remains infectious, opening, as it does. “Here I am happy as a Prince….”[129] James and Charles were guests at Government House, where their rooms adjoined. Their day started early; they rose at five o’clock to ride Brooke’s Arabian horses, “I ride Baby who I think the best horse of the two,” Charles boasted to another of his sisters, Annie.[130] In September, James gave Baby, “the celebrated Arad steed,” to the boy for his own.[131] James’s gift might have celebrated their receiving the Grants’ agreement to their plans, for a few days later he told Jack Templer that Charles had left the Navy to become his private secretary.[132]

On 28 August 1848, James and Charles, in company with James’s other secretary. Spenser St. John, left for Borneo.[133] James neglected his gubernatorial responsibilities at Labuan for Sarawak, where he was no one’s viceroy, and where the constraints of colonial society had yet to reach. James reported to Charles’s father on their life together, describing Charles’s devotion to his study: “his table is ornamented with two volumes of Hume’s History with maps both ancient and modern.”[134]  The saccharine picture James painted was, almost certainly, false. We know from St. John that Brooke was singularly uninterested in St. John’s and Charles’s studies and made no attempt to guide them.[135] Furthermore, instead of urging Charles to write to his parents, James made up excuses for Charles’s neglect.[136]

James and Charles were inseparable. When most of Sarawak’s English community went to Singapore in late 1849 “for a change of air and scene,” James and Charles remained in Kuching.[137] When James was given the use of the country house of the Governor of Penang in March the following year, Charles was in the party of four he took with him.[138] When, eventually, James sent Charles away from him it was to investigate complaints from the people of the Skrang River. James remarked in his diary that “It is the first time Charles has gone from me, since he joined three year ago; but it is right to made him independent, to burden him with responsibility, to let him judge for himself.”[139] This was a brief separation, however. When James left for Europe the following year he was in light spirits] “Away – Away - Charley Grant with me, in a comfortable cabin,”[140]

Lundu Dyaks by E. Walker

James and Charles’s second visit to England marked the beginning of a new and more difficult stage of their relationship, as James snuggled to allow Charles independence to match his growing maturity. On their return from England in 1853, Brooke posted the, by then, 21 year old Charles to govern the Lundu district. Although the area had a complex mix, politically, of Malays, Iban, Bidayuh and Chinese, it posed fewer physical dangers than the Rajah’s other outstations and, being part of Sarawak proper, was less remote. Notwithstanding their outstation, James continued to be deeply attached to Charles. When, in 1854, James received news from Lundu that Charles was ill with small-pox, he left Kuching immediately in order to nurse him, himself.[141] The emergency aroused Brooke’s protective feelings for Charles, “Don’t expose yourself to sun,” he wrote solicitously on his return to Kuching,” and be a good boy,”[142]

Although as a youth, Charles Grant had joined the staff of the Governor of Labuan because he loved him, his maturing sexuality focused on women. Moreover, on the death of his elder brother, Charles had become his father’s heir male, which threatened him with new responsibilities, including the management of the Grants’ Scottish estate, Kilgraston.[143] Consequently, by 1855, Charles was reconsidering his future. James urged him not to resign from Sarawak, offering to appoint his brother to succeed him at Lundu if he would agree to stay,[144] Charles’s younger brother, Alan, was sickly, and James had agreed that he should come to Sarawak for his health. Alan’s arrival in April, young and weak, seems to have reminded James of Charles’s own, earlier, vulnerability, arousing James’s old tenderness. When Charles failed even to notice James’s birthday, James wrote to him on 29 April, reminding him of the significance of that date. There is a gender wistfulness to his concluding plea, with its patient attempt to couch his love in new and more acceptable terms, “Come [to Kuching] dear Charlie because it is right you should do so and thus able send an account of Alan home…. Farewell/ ever affecly yours,”[145]

By September, James was unable to contain the concern and regret he felt about Charles’ possible departure from Sarawak. His correspondence from this time contains evidence of the intensely of his emotions. A letter to Charles about the business of government is punctuated by sudden and loving interpolations which reveal the turbulence of his thoughts - ”I shall indeed dear Charles be sorry to lose you and you must let me if I can do anything for you.” Later in the same letter he suddenly ejaculated, “God bless you dear Charlie.”[146]

At the end of the year Charles returned to England in company with James’s nephew, Brooke Johnson Brooke. For Brooke Brooke, at least, the time had come to marry, and Charles had a bevy of eligible sisters and cousins. James wrote to Charles after his departure,

Kilgraston in Perthshire, Charles Grant's home, engraved from a drawing by J.P. Neale

I shall be anxious dear Charlie to hear from you from Kilgraston. Fate and fortune may separate us as far as the poles but will not affect the friendship which has endured as long as your reasoning existence. Do write to me - not a folio every six months but more reasonable long letters every month or two months.[147]

When Charles neglected him, James reproached him with withering sarcasm in a long missive which sought to foreshadow a final breach.

I have not heard from you for two or three months but I always hear of you from Brooke and I am glad that you both seem to have been enjoying yourselves. I do not envy for there is a season for all things and my season is past for enjoyments in [?] the sort of thing whether peacocking in Rotten Row[148] or witnessing a grand naval review.

James was angered by the reports he received indirectly of Charles’s courtship of Matilda Hay of Dunse Castle, and his jealousy was apparent. Brooke Brooke had written from Dunse to his younger brother, from whom James had heard that:

you were in company - and B said it was very agreeable. Let this pass - here we have quiet….

But Brooke Brooke had been indiscrete about more than Charles’s courtship. James had also heard reports

that you were certainly not coming back - had you finally decided I think it probable you would have told me, but nevertheless you know that such a resolve I should consider natural and proper under the circumstances and though sorry to lose you I should not be surprised. Your place in Lundu will know you no more but I will take the more care of the people there for your sake[;] all your mothers shall became my mothers and all your children my children. I shall expect small folio from you soon - you will give [a] loose [rein] to your love of narrative and the sooner the better for I prize your letters as you well know. I am very well and very happy and cheerful.

Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, ca. 1855

James concluded by suggesting that might meet in Italy “and be merry for merry I can be as a 44 year old.”[149] This cryptic remark seems to have been intended to reproach Charles. James had been 44 when he and Charles had sailed out from England on the Meander, and planned their future together. It might also be significant that, for more than a century, Italy had been identified in English imagination as a country where men went with boys.[150]

James’s recriminations crossed in the mail with a letter from Charles, the contents of which we can infer from James’s reply, dated 22 September.

I have received your kind folio of the 6th July. You need not call yourself hard names, for the head and front of your offending only amounted to a small matter of negligence; and what is the use of having a friend, if you cannot treat him according to your humour, and if he cannot make allowance for your foibles - your failings or your faults. I wrote by the last mail to say how freely I absolved you from the calls of Sarawak to perform your duty at your home - but I am rejoiced indeed to hear you are positively coming back - rejoiced in every respect public and private; for personally I should have regretted your loss, and publicly your return will be much welcomed for we are short handed.

Although James claimed to absolve Charles, “from the calls of Sarawak,” his careful allusion to Othello suggests the depth and nature of the betrayal he perceived. When Brabantio complains to the Duke that Othello has married Desdemona, the Moor replies

That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her:
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more.[151]

The “head and front” of Charles offending was not “a small matter of negligence,” but Charles proposed marriage, for advice on which Charles had turned to James. James responded by mildly ridiculing love between men and women, farther reminding Charles of his own fickleness.

I am rather diffident in offering you my counsel on the very serious subject you require it. That you desire to marry is very natural and right, and that you have fallen in love with an unportioned lassie, is your misfortune and not your fault, seeing that the chances were much in favour of it…your Father will not forbid your union, provided you really desire it, though he may for prudential reasons delay it. I have heard and read of young gentlemen - as old however as yourself - who have changed the object of their affections - who have vowed to black hair and vowed to auburn - who have permitted the gay to transcend the serious belle in their affections - in short I have heard that mans love is not so steady as a weathercock in the trade wind - but of course this in no way applies to your case - you are as unchangeably fixed as the poles - you are the most constant of swains and your Dalliance is peerless….[152]

Charles’s marriage to Matilda Hay at Dunse Castle, 16 days later,[153] did not end James’s feelings for him. James recommended that Charles and Matilda live at Belidah, upriver from Kuching. Belidah was within walking distance of his own upcountry retreat at Paninjau and could easily be reached by boat from Kuching. “I am selfish enough to desire that you should be near me,” James wrote.[154] Less than a fortnight later James wrote again to Charles, “I want you out very much….”[155]

The national flag of Sarawak between 1848 and 1870

Although Charles returned with his wife to Sarawak in late 1857, James never succeeded in establishing an affectionate or easy relationship with the couple.[156] It is not clear what Matilda knew or thought of her husband’s earlier involvement with the Rajah. The tone of Charles’s references in his correspondences with his wife suggests that they sometimes joked about James’s pretensions. Charles wrote to Matilda of her brother, Robert Hay, who had joined the Sarawak service, “the Rajah likes him very much, and he is to live with him….” Charles made much of the Rajah’s intention that Hay “be made his Official Secretary!!”[157]          

Charles maintained cordial, if sometimes strained, relations with James throughout James’s struggles with his nephew, Brooke (who had married Charles’s sister), from about 1858 until Brooke was disinherited by his uncle in 1863. Following Brooke’s banishment and disinheritance, however, Charles broke all formal connection with Sarawak and its Rajah. Charles’s uncompromising repudiation of James Brooke’s actions, while expressing his continuing affection for James himself, was candid and dignified,[158] in contrast to the self-serving duplicity of some of the Rajah’s other followers, like Charles Johnson and Arthur Crookshank.[159]

Although James Brooke was unrelenting in his refusal to be reconciled to his nephew, he was never unkind about Charles Grant, and he never ceased to regret the absolute separation from him that the dispute with his nephew had occasioned.”[160] When Spenser St. John wrote his biography of James in the 1870s, he did not remember that Charles Grant had been among the mourners at James’s funeral. Grant not only jolted St. John’s memory, he amended his draft.[161] In his published text. St. John claimed to have observed among the other mourners, “the Rajah’s old friend and follower, Charles Grant.”[162]


                                                                 BOYS AT BURRATOR

James Brooke virtually retired from Sarawak in late 1857, eventually setting at Burrator, in Devon. From his correspondence, and from the comments of his friends, it is clear that, although James never formed another relationship as intense or romance as that with Charles Grant, he continued to seek out boys and youths. James described one encounter to his friend, Mrs Brown, herself the long time companion of Miss Burdett Coutts.[163] In mid 1859, while staying in Totnes, James

Burrator House, Devon, Sir James's final home, just after his additions to it

used to take my invalid saunter in the meadows skirting the “Dart.” A party of boys were bathing afar off, as it appeared in forbidden water, when three fishermen in their seven-league boots, rushed upon them. They fled (very scantily clothed) excepting one, who having swam further than the others lost his clothes, and was himself taken prisoner and led off to the fishing house. It was not in my nature to see this, so I went to the rescue and got the poor boy off. Thus was our acquaintance commenced. Afterwards he always seemed pleased to see me and I was pleased with the attention, so we gradually became friends.[164]

James’s vulnerability to the charms of youth exasperated his nephew, who was expected to find later employment for the boys in Sarawak. When, in 1861, Brooke Brooke asked James to recruit two men, he stressed that he wanted “grown men of some experience, who know what they are about and are in earnest.” Brooke explained that he was

most strongly against having any more boys. They are no use for three or four years & I don’t think the sort of education they get out here good for them.[165]

The following month Brooke again stressed to his uncle that “I shall be very short-handed - pray if you send out new hands let them not be boys but men who I may set to work at once,”[166] Brooke’s need for a bookkeeper was particularly pressing. When he set out the qualities he wanted James to look for in selecting someone suitable, he asked that whoever was recruited be “above all not too young or above his work.”[167]

James was deaf to Brooke’s injunctions. With Brooke in need of a bookkeeper, James recalled his young friend in Totnes.

I thought I could be in the way of helping him, and have determined to send him to school for a year or two, and when he has thoroughly mastered book-keeping, to send him to Sarawak as a clerk in our revenue department, I am now inquiring for a fitting school.[168]

The Totnes boy’s name was William Blackler.[169] He was 16 in 1862,[170] and his father seems to have wanted 50 pounds for handing him over.[171] James found a school for the boy at Tailstock, which was near Burrator, “where I can judge his progress.” James’s concern that Blackler’s school “not remove him from his proper sphere, excepting in a proper degree,”[172] reflected an important difference between the boys he courted at Burrator and his earlier friends on the Meander and other vessels. Although James enjoyed rough games with the midshipmen on the Meander, those boys had gentler manners than the village toughs of Devon. The midshipmen had a level of respect and affection for James which appears to have been lacking in these later relationships.

Rajah Brooke, early 1860s

As James became old and irritable and sick, his romantic image, which had attracted middle- and upper-class midshipmen,[173] faded and, increasingly, he sought out working class boys whose poverty ensured their enthusiasm for his attentions. St. John was referring to these latter years when he wrote, somewhat insensitively, to Charles Grant, “The Rajah all his life was on the lookout for an ideal which he never found either in man or woman and his singular infatuation [was] that virtue and honesty, and simple mindedness were more the attributes of the low born than of others….”[174] St. John was particularly distressed to see how Blackler treated the Rajah, even in front of guests. On one occasion, when Miss Burdett Coutts was visiting, “Blackler pushed the Raja off the sofa on which he was reclining, in order to have the couch for himself.” St. John claimed that he often spoke to James about the discourtesy with which he allowed Blackler and others to treat him.[VIII] He considered James’s tolerance of their rudeness “curious in a man of so great a refinement of mind.”[175]

The “trouble and mortification” caused, in St. John’s opinion,[176] by Blackler and other “ruffians”[177] included clumsy attempts at blackmail. On one occasion when Arthur Crookshank was at Barrator, Blackler arrived demanding to see James. When he was denied entry, Crookshank claimed that Blackler wrote “the most impudent and threatening note to the Raja saying he was bound to provide for him and must do so or if it came to the worst Blackler had letters which were sufficient to make him do so when necessity required him to shew them.”[178][IX]

Other youths who James had known also sought money from him. After James’s death, his executor found among his papers a letter from another young man, John May, asking for 100 pounds, “as he was on shore instead of at sea, which did not agree with his health or pocket.” Whether or not James paid money to May, he found a place for him in Sarawak, where he was living at the time of James’s death. James’s executor seems to have expected farther trouble from May, since he advised James’s heir in Sarawak to “take that wretched boy - May in hand yourself.”[179][X]

Burrator Falls by Samuel Cook

Blacker and May’s demands for money did not make James noticeably more cautious in seeking the acquaintance of other boys, however. When he read in the papers of a 15 year old’s saving another child from drowning, James found out the boy’s address and sent him a half-sovereign, asking him to write back “and tell me all about it as you deserve the praise of brave men.”[180]



The fainter of writers to explore adequately Brooke’s desire and sexuality does not just refloat heterosexual paradigms. It has been encouraged by the strategies of detail and camouflage developed by James and his friends to protect his repudiation, and these of men like Charles Grant. James, himself, shortly he fore his death, had he gun to destroy evidence of these aspens of him character and life that he wanted kept private. This seems to have been one of his highest priorities, as important to him as making his will. St. John recorded that, within a month of suffering a serious stake, James was able to go down to “the drawing roots, make his will, look over and destroy papers.”[181] When St. John sought Charles Grant’s help with his biography of James, he reassured Charles that he would not reveal “the Rajah’s own private life.”[182] In a similar vein, St. John later told Charles that

one  judicious friend had advised me to say nothing disagreeable about Templer and the young Rajah: I would carry out that wish as far as possible.[183]

Predictably, Charles was also cautious about how St. John presented James to the reading public. St. John had written of his own last meeting with James, shortly before the Rajah’s death.

as I bent over and kissed him I felt it was for the last time. As I reached the door he called me back, kissed me again and I saw tears falling….

Charles removed from St. John’s draft the references to Brooke and St. John’s kisses, commenting that they were “contrary to British taste” and “too sensational Nelsonic.”[184]

Sir James Brooke (Rajah of Sarawak), 1860

In view of St. John’s guarantee to Grant not to reveal the Rajah’s private life, his public claims about its purity must be regarded as an exercise in deception, in which Charles was complicit. Yet it is on such self-conscious deceits that subsequent scholars have based their perceptions that James was asexual, his desire repressed or his sexuality latent.

With his own destruction of papers, and St. John and Grant’s discretion, it is not the absence of sexually explicit records of James’s life which is surprising, but rather, the survival of any suggestive material at all. In 1862, after a visit to Paris, James wrote to Brooke Brooke to express his enthusiasm for the French capital. “It is a grand city in every respect,” he told Brooke, “and life there en garcon would suit me.”[185] En garçon does not have a direct English equivalent. Living en garçon suggested living in a garçonnière, a smallish apartment without a large establishment of servants. In nineteenth century French, en garçon was attached to promiscuous, urban, bourgeois lifestyles, with clear connotations of sexual liberty or freedom. To live en garçon was to be available, and to have the premises (garçonnière), for affairs. Bourgeois patriarchs might maintain garçonnières away from their family’s home for amorous rendezvous. Both en garçon and garçonnière related to that culture of promiscuity that Paris has long represented in the Anglophone world.

Although too much ought not be read into a single phrase, in a single letter, nor should scholars ignore evidence the value of which is enhanced by its scarcity. James was not given to using French expressions in his correspondence. His use of en garçon suggests his inability to convey in English, at the same time as it emphasizes, his particular attraction to Paris. That James intended the expression to make a precise contribution to his meaning can be gauged by the ease with which he could have omitted it. “It is a grand city in every respect,” he could have told Brooke, “and life there would suit me.” En garçon did not signify any particular sexual proclivity. But James’s expressed attraction to living in such a mode in Paris does not support claims that his sexuality was latent.[186]

Three additional sets of evidence also throw doubt on asexual or avuncular interpretations of James’s behavior. First, as I have already argued, James’s explanation to Cruikshank in December 1831 that he “never could be otherwise than your friend,... but beyond my esteem and goodwill I have nothing to offer, and so you must accept these for want of better, and give me yours in return,”[187] suggests the termination of a sexual relationship.

An English midshipman, 1824

Secondly, James’s comments about Stonhouse resemble those of a jealous lover rather than a kindly uncle. James regretted having been “too complying with…. [Stonhouse’s] slightest wish, and have shown him too many weaknesses in my character for him to respect me much,” observing that “the same feelings that make me….[sore] would also make me very ready to acquit S. of all intention to hurt me, for you know how well I liked the boy.” James objectified Stonhouse as a “creature,”[188] after knowing whom he expected “nothing from men…but if they will give me their affection or shew me kindness I am doubly pleased.”[189]

Then there is the text of James’s poem, “Written to my Midshipmen Friends in HMS Agincourt,” which he wrote in 1847 at the height of his courtship of Charles Grant. Ostensibly a humorous ‘epic’ describing the consumption of a plum pudding by the midshipmen, James’s language has overtly sexual connotations. In James’s description of the pudding,

The knitted walls, a precipice present
With plums like cannon bristling at each vent,
Bomb proof, and arched, the hoary summit shows
Like Etna sprinkled with eternal snows,
Like Etna towering, and like Etna hot
Just fresh emerged from out the devils pot.

This is the imagery of sodomy as much as of festive English cooking, “with cannon brushing at each vent,” and arched summits “sprinkled with eternal snows,” towering and hot, “from out of devils pot.” Whether or not it was consummated, James’s interest in the midshipmen was not avuncular.

And what ought readers make of James’s parenthetic aside:

So stands Dough citadel a virgin post
Uncaptured though begirt with many a host
(Like other virgin places that I wot
Uncaptured yet, because assailed not).

Which virgin place has James not yet captured because he has not yet assailed it? In this context, note how he proceeds immediately to catalogue the boys:

Gun Room - Midshipmen's Mess, Breakfast, HMS 'Caesar' - Baltic Fleet (Illustrated London News 8 March 1856)

Bold Burton first the gaping breach essays
And chokes his luff a hundred different ways
Next Timcae emulous of his leader’s fame
Slice after slice attacks with murderous game
There’s Burnaby, the brave with action light
Lest out a reef and then renews the Fight
There’s signal Russel, nimble, fierce and keen,
When others pause jumps lightly in between;
And youthful Doddy firmly stands his ground
Unflinching still, he’s swallowed full a pound.[190]

Rajah Brooke, 1858 by Thomas Wilner, (National Portrait Gallery, London)

In this essay I have tried to illuminate the contours of James Brooke’s desire. Although I have not tried here to identify all of the youths and boys who attracted him - that would be futile----many of his other relationships might repay further exploration.[191] It is important, however, not to sexualise all of his relationship with young men. Reuben Walker, who James recognised as his son in 1857, is a case in point. Reece and Saint have suggested, of James’s recognition of Reuben, that James “fabricated the whole story for some devious end of his own, possibly to conceal a homosexual relationship with Reuben who had been his groom.”[192] This proposition does not withstand scrutiny. First, having gone to considerable lengths and expense to locate Reuben and them to buy his discharge from the British Army, James immediately proposed to send him out to Sarawak, while he remained in England. Although James seems commonly to have sent boys to Sarawak after enjoying their company, his decision to send Reuben was taken almost immediately they were united. Secondly, although much of James’s correspondence from 1855 until about 1860 concerned Reuben, the Rajah did not write of him as of a lover. There are no lingering physical descriptions of, or sexual references to, Reuben in James’s letters. Still less did James objectify Reuben as he had other boys. Nor do James’s letters about Reuben contain the sort of endearments which marked his references to Stonhouse, Brereton or Grant. Indeed, James does not seem to know much about Reuben. He specifically asked his nephew to tell him “what the young fellow is like and whether he promises to be steady.”[193] Thirdly, members of James’s own family were able to corroborate important parts of James’s story that he was Reuben’s father. They clearly had known Reuben as an infant. James reported that his sister, Mrs Savage, for example even remembered that, as a child, Reuben had born a striking resemblance to him.[194] James’s family not only knew the identity of Reuben’s mother, it appears that Mrs Savage was in contact with her. In July 1857, after telling Mrs Savage that he had received a note from Reuben, James asked her whether Reuben’s mother was living at Brighton.[195] Finally, assuming that Reuben was born in 1834, as Emily Hahn calculated,[196] by 1857, when he was united with James, he was 23, well beyond the age at which he was most likely to have engaged James’s desire.

James’s career deserves to be reexamined in the light of his attachments to boys. The most obvious aspect for further study is the policy towards Brunei that he pushed onto successive British governments. James was convinced that British interests would be best served by supporting Raja Muda Hassim, Pengiran Budrudeen, and their brothers in the factional politics of the Brunei court. James claimed that Budrudeen was “our friend, [he] was a noble. high minded prince, both brave and intelligent, and the only person who could have renovated the falling condition of his country.”[197] James’s policy of trying to exercise English influence on the Government of Brunei through Hassim and Budrudeen failed in the bloody putsch which saw the brothers and their followers killed. At James’s urging, the Royal Navy attacked Brunei and forced Sultan Omar Ali to flee. One consequence of these actions was the cession to England of Labuan.

Sir James on the quarter cent coin of Sarawak, 1863

James's policies towards Brunei not only failed, they seem to have fundamentally flawed from the outset. Spenser St. John, who lived at Brunei and knew its politics well, commented that

Mr Brooke has often said before me that the destruction of this family was a misfortune to their country. Perhaps, it was; but I who lived several years in the capital heard many things which accounted for the unpopularity of these princes.

St. John's testimony suggests that James's deep affection for Budrudeen led overestimate both Budrudeen and Hassim's abilities, and the political support which they could mobilize. According to St. John, Hassim and Budrudeen did not deserve Brooke’s backing. Their behavior at Brunei, and that of their followers, “loosened the bonds of respect which once united the cause of the people with that of the family of Muda Hassim.”[198]

There is a second possible impact of James's sexuality on British imperial affairs. St. John claimed to have feared that James's behavior towards the midshipmen of Meander created a “coolness” between him and the ship’s officers, which “augured ill for our future proceedings in Borneo.”[199] Although Brooke subsequently received support from the Admiral commanding the Straits, Thomas Cochrane, Cochrane's successor, Inglefield, treated the Governor of Labuan with growing neglect.[200] Scholars might examine the reasons for Inglefield's apparent snubbing of Brooke, and of his incremental repudiation of Brooke's policies, to determine whether St. John's fears had been well founded. Brooke's ménage at Sarawak was criticized, after all, even by his friends in the navy, like Keppel, who observed that, in 1849, Sarawak was “flourishing, but too many useless hangers-on about.”[201]

Rajah Muda John Brooke Johnson Brooke in 1863

Finally, scholars might explore the extent to which James's sexuality affected his relationship with his nephews, and, ultimately, the succession to Sarawak. Charles Johnson was, as Baring-Gould and Bampfylde recognised, James’s favorite.[202] James’s letters to his family throughout the 1840s are peppered with expressions of his love for the boy. In April 1843, James recorded his “growing yearning to see him, as he was always an especial favorite of mine.”[203][XI] He was delighted to receive a letter from Johnson in August of the same year, and again in September, considering Johnson “a great pet.”[204] James did not just love Charles Johnson better than his elder brother, Brooke, he even reproached Brooke with his brother’s affection. “Charles would send love,” he wrote to Brooke,

How is it you never write each other. I should think brothers one army and the other navy would have plenty to say to each. Could you not instruct him out of the stores of your experience?[205]

Forced by the pressures of his duties to curtail his correspondence, James wrote to Charles rather than to his brother: “I shall write to Charley Wolverine and tell the news I am too pressed to tell you,” he told Brooke, with unmatched insensitivity.[206] In 1848, soon after Brooke had joined his service in Sarawak with the understanding that he would succeed James as Rajah, James knew “not in whom I have greater confidence than in …[Charles Johnson], you never appeal in vain to his heart, and he and I have a great deal in common in our natures and feelings, I miss him very much even now, and wish for his company.”[207] Even when James had to acknowledge complements from his friends about Brooke, he was quick to point out Charles’s accomplishments. In 1856, James wrote to his friend, Jolly, that he was

proud to read all that you write of the Tuan Besar - for that is Brooke’s title - for it is true  and he is a fine fellow and no one has a right to say so more than I - his brother the Tuan Muda [Charles] is staying at my cottage on this beautiful hill. The Tuan Muda has recently returned from afrray into the Serabas land which was excellently well conducted….[208]

In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that, as early as 1857, Brooke, himself, began to fear the dynastic consequences of James’s affection for his younger brother. James’s ambivalent reply to Brooke’s concerns could hardly have calmed him.

Charles Brooke as the 2nd Rajah of Sarawak, on a 10 cents coin of 1910

You must indeed have been dreaming that I would interfere with the succession of your son. I am not so foolish, and there is the broad principle that sufficient for the generation is the work thereof. It will be your duty, however painful, to put your brother in the place of your sons, should you or their advance to manhood, deem them unfitted for the position which each should in turn occupy.[209]

Although he urged Brooke to expunge any “spot of lurking distrust” that he entertained about Charles Johnson, James argued that Charles should enjoy a special status under his brother, following James’s own death, and he told Brooke that he “took some exception” to Brooke’s implying that Charles would not.[210] It is not clear whether, or how much, the complexities of James’s affections affected the conflicts relating to the Sarawak succession, though, of course, Charles Johnson succeeded his uncle in place of his own brother, Brooke.



Early Victorian men, as Hyam (among others) observed, were “fairly sentimental in their friendships,” walking arm in arm and expressing their affection for each other without embarrassment.[211] Although historians should not characterise such behaviour as homosexual, nor should they exclude the possibility that it might sometimes have denoted love or desire. Scholars need to avoid presuming modern heterosexual norms if they are to analyse romantic friendships in the terms and contexts in which they were constructed.

To explore the ways in which desire and love among men or women were realised requires also recognition of a complex interplay between freedom and constraint. The construction, expression and realisation of desire was negotiated by individuals through social processes and systems.[212] The regulation of sexuality amongst nineteenth century Europeans, rather than confirming their repression and restraint, indicates the extent of their erotic preoccupations. Foucault argued that, in the nineteenth century, sexuality, “far from being repressed in society was constantly aroused.”[213] Boundaries and limitations eroticise as well as restrain, while restraint can be as erotically charged as any other expression of desire.

Sir James Brooke by George Gammon Adams, 1868 (National Portrait Gallery, London)

In different contexts people emphasised different facets of their character and relationships. Hence, on the one hand, the freedom with which James courted Charles Grant and, on the other, the care with which he represented that relationship to Charles’s father. James was generous in his attentions, reckless in importuning Charles’s affection. Yet to Mr Grant, he couched his interest in terms designed to appeal to the material and social ambitions of a Scottish laird with a large family, emphasising his capacity as Governor of Labuan to protect and advance a younger son with otherwise limited prospects. When Charles later removed from St. John’s biography reference to St. John’s kissing James farewell, he demonstrated his own awareness of the need to avoid raising questions about James among a readership for whom the meaning, and acceptability, of men’s kissing was changing. Like James, Charles recognised that the presentation of relationships needed to conform to social constraints.

The absence of explicit records of James Brooke’s sexual activity need not inhibit unduly our understanding of his desire, which he expressed in his diaries and in his many surviving letters. Pre- and early-Victorian mores allowed James to enjoy relationships with a series of youths and young men. The survival of such a large body of his records enables us to explore the terms of these relationships in unusual detail. Although, unlike the evidence of police informers or the testimony recorded at criminal trials, these records do not contribute substantially to understanding the social organisation of a sexual subculture, they demonstrate how one man was able to realise and enact his love during a period in which such enactment might have exposed him to disgrace and imprisonment. James’s actions and the pursuit of his preoccupations were facilitated by the construction of imperial relations in which he was implicated. Furthermore, his records make evident his ability to take advantage of social structures which were themselves affected by the creation of his own political space in Sarawak.

According to Ronald Hyam, James Brooke’s relationships with boys had no public significance.[214] Such a judgement seems premature. None of James Brooke’s biographers has dealt adequately with his sexuality, nor has there been a narrative of his involvements for scholars to relate to his public actions and achievements. It is difficult, however, to imagine how modern writers could dismiss the sexuality of their subjects as irrelevant without careful argument. The challenge for historians of Sarawak, and of British colonial policy and expansion, will be to explore the links between James’s sexuality and his empire-building, to explicate the public import of his desire.

Map of North Borneo, 1881, showing the extent of Sarawak at Sir James's death



As mentioned in this website’s introduction to Dr. Walker’s essay, four papers in response to it followed in the same publication, to which he replied in turn.  Those interested in this debate are referred to the original publication,[XII] but the following excerpt from his reply is given both for its useful clarification of his views:

My argument has three essential foundations. I did not claim, as Lockard imagines, that James “was not just gay but perhaps promiscuously and openly so," or that he Iived an “openly gay lifestyle." 'Gay' denotes a modern sexual identity neither known nor available to James. Rather, I argued that James enjoyed a series of intense relationships with teenage boys. With one exception they seem to have been British. Typically, James became attracted to them when they were in their young teens and his interest seems, with the exception of Charles Grant, to have waned by the time they were about nineteen. There is no clear evidence that any particular relationship was physically sexual. My point, rather, was that James loved these boys, that he expressed his love to them and, in several cases (including that of Charles Grant), went to considerable lengths to create the circumstances in which he could live with them. Indeed, for five years or so James and Charles structured their lives around their love for each other. Although the nature of any one of these affections could be contested, cumulatively, their pattern dominated James's private life: these relationships provided an internal meaning and coherence beyond that of his public career. Whether or not they are seen as involving sexual elements, recognising their central importance to James, and exploring his commitment to them, or his desperation as they disintegrated, should further our understanding of him.


Supplement: White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke, by Nigel Barley

Those interested more broadly in the life of Sir James Brooke are recommended to read the lively and insightful general biography by Nigel Barley, White Rajah (2002). The excerpts presented here[XIII] are the most useful for his sexuality and romantic friendships, as they take the foregoing into consideration, while offering the reader both fresh information and a carefully considered point of view that is slightly but significantly different.

It was in Canton that James fell ill with a bad attack of influenza and was nursed by John Cruikshank, the Scottish surgeon of the Castle Huntley. They would become affectionate friends for life. The matter has been minutely studied by Dr J. Walker in the Borneo Research Bulletin. Post-modernly attuned to the hidden discourse of sexuality and empire, he has devoted a good deal of effort to spotting, between the lines, James Brooke's 'boyfriends', yet the results are sometimes questionable. Attraction is not seduction, nor is seduction love. To equate them is to reduce the rich, polyphonic music of James's emotional life to a single note.

There may well have been sexual attraction on James's part –  later evidence shows he was sensitive to male beauty - but this was no mere passing relationship of the flesh rather a deep and loving friendship. John Cruikshank named one of his sons 'James Brooke' and after his father's death the boy went, at the age of fifteen, to serve in Sarawak where, to avoid confusion, he was known as 'Fitz’. Another, hopelessly alcoholic, son briefly had a job fixed for him as Government Medical Officer in 1860. There is no suggestion whatever in this long relationship of untoward seaborne yo-heave-hoing or jolly rogering. This was an attachment that hailed from a heady mix of mutual youthful exuberance, sudden freedom and the solidarity of shipmates abroad in the world. It certainly matured into something akin to love, but there is no good reason to assume that this required physical expression.[XIV]

Then there was young James Templer, the mate, succeeded by his younger brother John. John's wife wrote later:

My husband's older brother James was mate in the Castle Huntley. Brooke took an enormous fancy to him, and during a period of four or five years spent a great deal of the time he was in England at my father-in-law's house at Bridport, where a room was always called 'Brooke's room.' Here he made the first acquaintance with my husband, and they soon became great friends, the younger man worshipping in Brooke all the grace, romance, talent and sentiment too, as being so especially attractive at that period of his life . . . On James [Templer] giving up the East India Company's service and going to Australia the friendship with John was intensified, and one may almost say transferred, although Brooke always maintained that he had never met so delightful a companion as James.[XV]

The Castle Huntley at anchor, 1833

When he came to write his biography of James Brooke, Spenser St John remarked, 'One judicious friend had advised me to say nothing disagreeable about [John] Templer and the young Rajah: I would carry out that wish as far as possible,'[XVI] since, as he stated some time before, he had no wish to reveal ‘the Rajah's own private life“. The whole Huntley period is strongly marked by a strange - almost Californian - touchy-feeliness that is indeed suggestive of more than ‘much merriment and vast foolery'. But it was clearly a golden time of liberty and optimism that the band of young shipmates would never forget, an innocent time free of responsibilities when they made their friends for life, a time of endless undergraduate conversations, when they knew exactly how to set the world to rights, the time perhaps that James had in mind when – a broken and bitter old man - he wrote poignantly ‘that the young hope more than they fear, and that the old fear more than they hope . . .’[XVII]

We are perhaps too used to the sanctimonious tone of the Victorians as the clear sign of high-Gothic hypocrisy, and over-eager to translate every high-blown expression of esteem into a mere mask for the furtive snap of elastic. Going to bed together is far from the only ‘disagreeable' matter that can occur between two men. In later years James and John Templer had a dramatic and certainly disagreeable falling-out over the state of James’s mind that led to a total rupture of relations. And let us not pretend that we can easily read the discourse of Victorian sexuality, which is a language very different from our own. Two basic signposts show us that we are moving in an alien erotic and moral landscape that would fundamentally affect James Brooke's affections and actions in a way it is hard for us to imagine. The first is that boys at that time were regarded as sexually mature and could legally marry at fourteen (girls at twelve). The second is that sodomy was both an unquestionable sin and a capital offence.[XVIII] There were regular moral frenzies against the crime, and something like 80 per cent of those convicted were actually hanged (unlike other capital offences, where the figure was a mere 12 per cent).[XIX]

But, outside the main group of friends, were there other entanglements of other kinds with a more clearly homoerotic backwash? Perhaps, with the benefit of evidence from his later years, there were. For example, in 1831 James wrote to Cruikshank rather ruefully of a younger crew member called Stonhouse:

I cannot help having some hope that Stonhouse may value my acquaintance a little more than I give him credit for; but the real truth is, I have been too complying with his slightest wish, and have shown him too many weaknesses in my character for him to respect me much. Now, you will say, I write as if I were sore, and it is true; but the same feelings that make me so would also make me very ready to acquit S. of all intention to hurt me, for you know how well l liked the boy. I expect nothing from men, however; but if they will give me their affection or show me kindness l am doubly pleased.[XX]

Sir James in his last years

James spent several days before his death burning papers, but a problem of quite another order is that his closest circle of friends have clustered round and carefully censored even the remaining material, so that while the tnıth about his love life clearly lies beyond the evidence as we have it, it is impossible to know with absolute certainty what that truth was. They were evidently sensitive about it. When Spenser St John - after all a lifelong friend - took his final leave, the scene was described as follows. 'l ran down to Torquay, once more before leaving, and in the beginning of April 1867 I saw him, and as I leant over him I felt it was for the last time. As I neared the door he called me back and I saw the tears falling and then I could see how he also felt that it was one last adieu.'[XXI] But deliberately excised from the published version of this passage as 'too sensational and Nelsonic' and 'contrary to British taste' are two chaste kisses.

There are, of course, many kinds of love, sentimental, physical, blatantly sexual, and James Brooke seems to have been an emotional man capable of them all. Yet erotic love seems to have required a seed of compassion around which to crystallise and in which to hide itself. For him, pity does not lead to a purgation of eroticism into pure sentiment - quite the reverse: it stokes the fires of desire into what may be termed 'compassionate lust'. Sometimes, the balance comes down on one element in the pairing and sometimes the other. While his correspondence with Cruikshank and the Templers does not suggest a physical relationship but something compounded of large amounts of mutual affection and respect that is increasingly rooted in nostalgia for lost youth, indications from his later life, involving not his equals and co-evals but very much younger, poorer, more vulnerable boys, are a different matter. These will be considered in due course but the cumulative evidence is that, where they were concerned, James Brooke was a skilled dissimulator, hiding the sensual in purely avuncular benevolence. St John remarked smoothly, 'He would often endeavour to defend his system and argue that boys should not be thwarted; and certainly he carried his system into practice with all the lads that came under his control, and certainly also with very markedly bad results.“[XXII] We shall see how badly later. Thus perhaps of significance is another passage in that letter to Cnıikshank about the Penang pool. 'Let me hear from you from the old ship,' it ends. 'Present my affectionate remembrance to her. Tell me how she looks and feels and what sort of folk are aboard. I pity you the job of carving in the cuddy and saying pretty things to the ladies. Take care of the “mids" [midshipmerı] and be kind to them, as you always were, for you know the “mids" of the Huntley are under my especial care.’[XXIII]

On Sir James’s last years, living in Devon:

Burrator was also a place ‘where he was endeavouring to bring up two young cubs for the Sarawak service. But, as usual, these cubs remained cubs to the end, and were a source of trouble and mortification until they disappeared from the scene. Strange infatuation to believe that he could do anything with such materials when gentlemen cadets were to be had by the score.’[XXIV] What upset St John was not the presence of boys as such, but lower-class boys who did not know how to behave.

Nude boy by an unknown artist, ca. 1850s (Tullie House Museum, Carlisle)

One of the lads was William Blackler, thirteen years old when James made his acquaintance in rather odd circumstances in Totnes.[XXV] [… Omitted here is Sir James’s explanation to Hannah Brown, already quoted above by Walker].

Another version describes poor William as shivering in soaked nakedness with the Rajah, naturally unfazed by his total nudity, detaining him in endless comradely chit-chat.

But there is more to William.

His father is a stonemason in the town, his grandfather, with whom he lived, and four uncles, shipwrights, well to do in the government dockyards. He was to be a shipwright too and spoke with pride of his lot. I saw the father who was a really respectable man of the lower order – manly, intelligent, upright, struggling cheerfully to bring up a young family. So it ended. I gave the boy a tip and not till the other day did I think of inquiring about my young acquaintance. He had not been on the sunny wall of fortune – children had increased and wages were low. His grandfather was out of work and so the lad had returned to his father. His uncles had families and could not get him into the dockyards as apprentice … so I thought I could be in the way of helping him and have determined to send him to school for a year or two,  and when he has thoroughly mastered book keeping, to send him to Sarawak as a clerk in the revenue department. I am now inquiring for a fitting school: I hope even to do something for the father who is a man one likes to meet - independent but respectful - knowing his place and acknowledging the pains and privations [?] of a life of labour without shrinking or discontent.[XXVI]

He returns to the subject with characteristic rapidity: ‘The father of the lad is a mason by trade and I should like to give him aid (not charity) to become a Master. Do you know any schools where I could put William Blackler - the son? To give him a substantial education and thorough knowledge of accounts and book keeping is my object.’[XXVII] But he is anxious that he ‘not remove him from his proper sphere, excepting in a proper degree.’

Soon, James is seeking more concrete forms of assistance from Hannah Brown: ‘If you would lend Richard Blackler [William's father] £25 – without interest - it would be a great kindness to a good man and if the Missus [Angela Burdett-Coutts] is rich i.e. has more money than her other good works demand - she will perhaps make the sum up to £50 - a handsome capital to start with and which l think would be repaid in a few years.“[XXVIII]

How this extraordinary request went down with Angela is not recorded but we can be sure how it was received in Sarawak: Brooke Brooke had suffered greatly from the stream of useless, wayward boys sent his way by his uncle over the years. In 1861 he wrote to him in some irritation, ‘If you send out new hands let them not  be  boys but men.'[XXIX] Nevertheless, Blackler did end up in Sarawak until dismissed from the service by Charles in 1867.

It is interesting that we are finally able to compare James's own characterisation of the Blackler family, as the deserving poor, with the assessment of his own administrative officers. For James's relationship with this boy seems to go far beyond anything consistent with previous biographers' claims that his sexual interest remained merely latent, and there is little doubt that at this period of life he was carnally involved with the rough trade of Totnes. […]

The Raja's Grave in Sheepstor Churchyard

And yet, either through sheer innocence or driven by his demons, James remained throughout his life resolutely ‘on the look-out’. There was an earlier protégé, Richard Lawford, shipped out to Sarawak in 1858. He is a foundling, ‘intelligent, fairly educated, a good musician’, rewarded two medals in the army by the age of eighteen but discharged suffering from consumption. Perhaps this was a simple humanitarian act, for James was frequently genuinely moved by the troubles of boys and young men; but it is often the case that his compassion trembled on the brink of lust, and the two might compound powerfully together into something even fiercer and more corrosive that clouded his vision and exposed him to ridicule and terrible risk.


[I] Sir Steven Runciman, The White Rajahs: A History of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946 (Cambridge, 1960) 89.

[1] Edward Norman, Spectator, 21-28 December 1985, p. 53. I am grateful to Humphrey McQueen for this reference.

[2] The Career and Character of Rajah Brooke,” Temple Bar, VXXIV, November, 1868, pp. 204-216, at pp. 209-210.

[3] Spenser St. John, Rajah Brooke: the Englishman a Ruler of an Eastern State. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1897. p. xvi.

[4] Nicholas Tarling, The Burthen, the Risk, and the Glory: A biography of Sir James Brooke. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. 1982. p.7.

[5] Robert H. W. Reece, “European-Indigenous Miscegenation and Social Status in Nineteenth Century Borneo,” in Vinson H. Sutlive, (ed.), Female and male in Borneo: Contributions and Challenges to Gender  Studies. Williamsburg, VA: Borneo Research Council Monograph Series, Vol. l. pp. 455-488 at p. 457. Reece  assumed, mistakenly, that St. John referred to Jem’s brother, John. See also Reece’s “Introduction” to Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke. Rajah of Sarawak. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1994 (1879). p. xxviii. 

[6] Robert H. W. Reece, “European-Indigenous Miscegenation and Social Status in Nineteenth Century Borneo,” p. 456. See also Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality; The British Experience. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991.

[7] Graham Saunders, Bishops and Brookes: The Anglican Mission and the Brooke Raj in Sarawak. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1992. p. 4. 

[8] ibid., p. 45.        

[9] David M. Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and other Essays as Greek Love. New York: Routledge, 1990. pp. 15, 155 fn 1, 159 fn 17.    

[10] George Chauncey, Gay New York: The Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. London: Flamingo, 1994. p.26.

[11] Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. l. An Introduction. (translated from the French by Robert Hurley), New York: Pantheon, 1978. pp. 38-39.    

[12] Randolph Trumbach, “The Birth of the Queen: Sodomy and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern Culture, 1660-1750,” in Martin Doberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr. (eds.), Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. London: Penguin, 1991 (1989).       

[13] George Chauncey, “Christian Brotherhood or Sexual Perversion? Homosexual Identities and the Construction of Sexual Boundaries in the World War One Era.” Journal of Social History, 19, Winter 1985, pp. 189-211. See also his Gay New York. pp. 12-16. 

[14]Rictor Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830. London: GMP Publishers, 1992. pp. 95-96. For references to Bath see p. 185 and also Polly Morris, “Sodomy and Male Honour: The Case of Somerset, 1740-1850,” in Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma (eds.), The Pursuit of Sodomy: Male Homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe. New York: Harington Park Press, 1989. pp. 383-406 at p. 403 fn 22.

[15] Stephen O. Murray, “Homosexual Acts and Selves in Early Modern Europe,” in Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma (eds.), ibid., pp. 457-477 at pp. 460-462. My support for Murray’s position should not be interpreted as support for his wider, ‘anti-constructionist’ stance.

[16] Randolph Trumbach, “Gender and the Homosexual Role in Modern Western Culture: The 18th and 19th Centuries Compared,” in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? Essays from the international scientific conference on lesbian and gay studies. London: GMP Publishers, 1989. p.152.

[17] See Arthur N. Gilbert, “Buggery and the British Navy, 1700-1861,” Journal of Social History. 10 (1), Fall 1976, pp. 72-98.                                      

[18] George Chauncey, “Christian Brotherhood or Sexual Perversion?” pp. 200-201.

[19] Martha Vicinus, “ ‘They Wonder to Which Sex I belong’: The Historical Roots of Modern Lesbian Identity,” in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? p. 178.

[20] Spenser St. John, Rajah Brooke p. 2.; Gertude L. Jacob, The Raja of Sarawak: An Account of Sir James Brooke, KCB, LLD, Given Chiefly Through Letters and Journals London: Macmillan, 1876. I, pp. 9-10.    

[21] Owen Rutter, “Introduction,” in Owen Rutter (ed.), Rajah Brooke and Baroness Burdett Coutts: Consisting of the Letters from Sir James Brooke, first White Rajah of Sarawak, to Miss Angela (afterwards Baroness) Burdett Coutts. London: Hutchinson and Co., 1935. pp. 18-19.  

[22] Emily Hahn, James Brooke of Sarawak: A Biography of Sir James Brooke London: Arthur Barker, 1953. p. 26.

[23] Only in a limited and heterosexist understanding of sex, of course. 

[24] The Brooke and Bordet Courts families also believed, for example, that James Brooke and Angela Bordet Courts had known and loved each other in their youth and Hahn claimed that they certainly knew each other. Emily Hahn, op. cit., p. 27. In fact, they did not meet until 1847. BL Baroness Bordet-Courts Papers, vol. X. Add 45283, f. 71             

[25] I address these issues farther below. See also Emily Hahn’s convincing logic on the subject. op. cit., pp. 25-29.  

[26] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1879. p.6.   

[27] For Brooke’s influence  over British colonial policy see John Ingleson, Expanding the Empire: James Brooke and the Sarawak Lobby, 1839-1868. Research Paper No 2: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Western Australia, 1979.     

[28] For the anti-Brooke position, see George Foggo, Adventures of Sir James Brooke, KCB, Rajah of Sarawak, Sovereign de Facto of Borneo Proper. London: Effingham Wilson. Royal Exchange, 1853; and L. A. Chamerovzov, Borneo Facts versus Borneo Fallacies: As Inquiry into the Alleged Piracies of the Dyaks of Seribas and Sakarran. London: Charles Gilpin, nd.                 

[29] See Nicholas Tarling, op. cit., pp. 182-188    

[30] Spenser St. John, Rajah Brooke. p. 10. In fact Brooke’s courage failed him during the Chinese attack on Kuching in 1857.    

[31] “The Career and Character of Rajah Brooke,” p. 209.

[32] Gertrude Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 47.

[33] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brook,. p. 133.

[34] Woods to F. Scott, 6 October 1853. FO 12/14. 

[35]Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 24.

[36] ibid., p. 76. 

[37] Letter from H. McDougall, 9 September 1857. McDougall Papers, MSS Pac. s 104 (1), f. 55. 

[38] quoted by Graham Saunders, op. cit., p. 76. 

[39] For an ironic reference to “muscular Christianity” see  J. Brooke to H. Brown, 8 May 1862, Baroness Burdett-Coutts Papers vol. 3, BL Add 45276, f. 49. 

[40] Rodney Mundy, Narrative of events in Borneo and Celebes, down to the Occupation of Labuan: From the Journals of James Brooke, Esq. Rajah of Sarawak, and Governor of Labuan. Together with a narrative of the operations of HMS Iris. London: John Murray, 1848. II, p. 83. (To distinguish between the two journals published herewith Brooke’s will be cited as ‘Brooke, Iris,’ and Mundy’s as Mundy, Iris.) Brooke seems here to have been referring to bissu, the keepers of royal regalia on Sulawesi. See Shelley Errington, Meaning and Power in a Southeast Asian Realm. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989, p. 124.

[41] Hung Low, Sarawak; Its Inhabitants and Productions: Being Notes During a Residence in that Country with H. H. The Rajah Brooke. London: Richard Bentley, 1848, p. 174.  

[42] Ibid., pp. 175-176.

[43]Brooke, Iris, II, p. 66.  

[44] Rudi C. Bleys, The Geography of Perversion: Male-to-Male Sexual Behavior outside the West and the Ethnographic Imagination, 1750-1918. London: Cassell, 1996. pp. 19-22, 79-81 and 111-115.     

[45] For the role of occasional transvestism in the emerging gay sub-culture of Britain, which probably extended to Bath, see Rector Norton, op. cit., p. 185. 

[46] J. Brooke to H. Brown, 6 November 1862. Baroness Burdett-Coutts Papers vol.4. BL Add 45277, f. 15. Brooke seems here to echo the views of his former friend, Jem Templer, for whom “no lines or rules, either can or ought to retrain an original genius.” James Lethbridge Templer, “Journal, 1839-1842,” NLA MS 31 15, f. 2. Templer’s views on other matters were similarly unorthodox. At dinner in New South Wales, then a penal colony, he argued that the position of married women was analogous to that of convicts assigned as servants. See his entry for 24 June 1839, f. 86.      

[47] Quoted by Gertrude Jacob, op. cit., I, p.233. Compare to Payne’s view that Brooke was no more unhappy than any other boy, Robert Payne, The White Rajahs of Sarawak. New York; Funk and Wagnells, 1960, p. 14.  

[48] Gertrude Jacob, op cit., I, p. 6. 

[49] G. S. Rousseau, “The Pursuit of Homosexuality in the Eighteenth Century:  ‘Utterly Confused Category’ and/or Rich Repository,” Eighteenth Century Life, IX (3). May 1985, pp. 132-168 at p. 138.   

[50] Owen Rutter, “Introduction,” in Owen Rutter (ed.), op.cit., p. 22.  

[51] Spenser St. John. The Life of Sit James Brooke, p. 6.

[52] Gertrude I., Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 11.  

[53] Spenser St. John. The Life of Sit James Brooke, pp. 6-7.   

[54] Frank S. Marryat. Borneo and the Indian Archipelago. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1848,p. 4.   

[55] Ludvig Verner Helms, Pioneering in the Far East... London: W. H. Allen. 1882. p. 126.      

[56] Mrs John Templer, quoted by Gertrude L. Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 27 fn.

[57] S. St. John to C. Grant, 5 September 1878, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 91 vol 15, ff. 104-109. 

[II] See the supplement for good reasons given by Nigel Barley for not asserting that James’s friendship with Jem Templer was sexually driven (White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) p. 23). James “Jem” Lethbridge Templer was born on 9 November 1811, so he was eighteen at the time in question.

[58] Mrs John Templer, quoted by Gertrude L. Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 27 fn.

[59] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 12 October 1842. Letters, I, p. 225. Jem did not take up Brooke’s offer, dying in Australia in 1845.

[60]  Gertrude L. Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 42.

[61] ibid., p. 27.

[62] J. Brooke to Cruikshank, 4 December 1831, quoted ibid., p. 35. I first presented this analysis in J. H. Walker, “A Confusion of Crookshanks (sic.): Personalities and Power in the Lives of the Early Brookes,” Borneo Research Bulletin, vol 28, 1997, pp. 42-54.  

[III] This claim has received widespread criticism. For example, Otto Steinmayer in “Groping in the Closet: Response to Walker’s: This Peculiar Acuteness of Feeling’ “, a review in the same publication as Walker’s article, p. 206 says: ““to read Brooke’s 1831 letter to Cruikshank as signalling the end of an affair is merely to snatch an interpretation out of a hat.” However, it is Nigel Barley in White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) pp. 21-2 who gives the most thorough and cogent reasons for rejecting Walker’s claim here, as quoted in the supplement to this webpage.   

[63] J. Brooke to Cruikshank,1832, quoted by Gertrude L. Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 39.

[64]J. Brooke to Cruikshank, early 1833, quoted ibid., pp. 44-45. Cruikshank’s son, James Brooke (Fitz) Cruikshank, joined the Rajah’s service in Sarawak in 1856, following his father’s premature death. ibid., p. 378. Fitz’s brother, John, joined in 1860. See “Roll Book No 1: European Officers on Permanent Service,” Sarawak Museum, C/E/d4. 2  

[65] J. Brooke to Cruikshank, 16 June 1831, quoted by Gertrude L. Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 33.

[66]  quoted ibid., p. 35. 

[67] J. Brooke to Jolly, 14 January 1835. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol I. f.3

[IV] But if one only rejects Walker’s feeble reasons for supposing there was anything sexual about James’s friendship with Cruikshank, for which see the supplement, there is no need to imagine his “pattern” changed or that his sexual interest in males ever extended beyond “adolescent boys or youths.” Templer, the oldest other male lover whom Walker claims for James, was 18 and thus still an adolescent youth in the context of the English in 1830.

[68] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, June 1843. Letters, I, p. 257.

[69] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 20 July 1843. Letters, I, p. 273.

[70] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 3 September 1843. Letters, I, p. 287. 

[71] Henry Keppel, The Expedition to Borneo of HMS Dido for the  Suppression of Piracy: with extracts from the journal of James Brooke, Esq., of Sarawak, (now Agent for the British Government in Borneo). London: Chapman and Hall, 1846. (second edition); II, p. 41. To distinguish between the two principle journals published herewith Brooke’s will be cited as ‘Brooke, Dido’ and ‘Keppel, Dido.’     

[72] The Navy List, Corrected to 20th June 1846. London: John Murray, pp. 114 & 75.  

[73] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 20 July 1843. Letters, I, p. 273.

[V] William Wilson Brereton was born in 1830 (Robert Maitland Brereton, The Breretons of Cheshire 1100-1904 A.D., Portland, Oregon, 1904, p. 116), and before 22 September of that year, since he was 24 when he died on 22 September 1854 (The Gentleman’s Magazine, New Series, vol XLIII, London, 1855,, p. 104). Nigel Barley in White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) p. 123 describes how when Willie was only 19 James entrusted him to rule in isolation some newly acquired territory, and how well Willie showed that trust was well-placed by bringing about peace between the warring tribes of the area. On Willie’s death there of dysentery five years later, Barley says (p. 144):

He had sired a child by a local woman…. The Dayaks were astonished but touched that this unpaid official working for love and sheer belief in both James and Sarawak had left his few pathetic possessions to them. James wrote, ‘He was an affectionate and particularly lovable person, able, clever, enthusiastic, and with particular tact in handling the natives. Poor dear fellow, he loved me very sincerely, and I was attached to him from his youth upwards.’

[74] J. Brooke to Mrs Thomas Brooke, 19 July 1843. Letters, I, p. 266.

[75] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, August 1843. Letters, I, p. 283.

[76]Assistant-Surgeon Adams, quoted by Edward belcher, Narrative of the Voyage of HMS Semarang, during the Years 1843-46: employed surveying the islands of the Eastern Archipelago. London. Reeve, Benham and Reeve, 1848. I, p. 54. Brereton returned to Sarawak in 1849 and was posted to command the Rajah’s fort at Skrang. He died of dysentery in 1854. Robert Pringle, Rajahs and Rebels: The Ibans of Sarawak under Brooke Rule, 1841-1941. London: Macmillan & Co., 1970, pp. 87, 89 and 103.  

[VI] Pangiran Anak Badr ud-din, 6th son of the 21st Sultan of Brunei. His age is quite unknown. He was killed with two of his wives by the agents of his nephew, the reigning Sultan, on 31st December 1845.   

[77] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 41. See also Keppel, Dido, I, 172-175 and II, pp. 116-120. 

[78] Hyam also identified Budrudeen as one of Brooke’s loves. Ronald Hyam, op cit., p. 45.

[79] J. Brooke to Mrs Thomas Brooke, 24 September 1843. Letters, I, p. 292.

[80] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer 20 July 1843. Letters, I, p. 269.  

[81] Frank S. Marryat, op. cit., p. 6. The consumption of alcohol was, of course, proscribed by Moslem law.

[82] Edward Belcher, op. cit., I, p. 159.

[83] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 4 April 1846. Letter, II, p. 135. 

[84] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer 27 June 1845. Letter, II, p. 73.

[85] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 112.  

[86] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 4 April 1845. Letter, II, p. 134-135. Joseph Conrad reworked this episode in The Rescue. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978 (1920), p. 308.  

[87] Ouoted by Gertrude Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 323.

[88] For a detailed examination of the complex policy considerations this action involved for the British Government see Nicholas Tarling, op. cit., pp. 81-102.   

[89] ibid., p. 7. 

[VII] Charles Thomas Constantine Grant was born on 2 July 1831.  He was a grandson of the 7th Earl of Elgin and much the most aristocratic British boy associated with Sir James. (John Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry (London, 1837) II 613).

[90] C. Grant to J. Grant, 21 October 1845. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol 10, f. 3. 

[91] Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., 1978, p. 971.  

[92] The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue…. Adelaide: Bibliophile Books, nd  (1811).

[93] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 1 October 1846, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 1-2 (original emphasis).

[94]J. Brooke to C. Grant, 1 October 1846, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 5. 

[95] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 25 January 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 5.

[96] C. Grant to Lady  L. Grant, 11 January 1847, quoted by Emily Hahn, op. cit., p. 128. See also Charles’s letter to his father of 11 February 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 10 f. 15.   

[97] “The Rajah’s Journal to the Hoddy Doddy,” Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol. 4, ff. 6-25+.

[98] ibid., f. 6 (original emphasis).

[99] ibid., ff. 22-23. 

[100]Although the first four chapters of Thackeray’s novel, Vanity Fair, were published in Punch in January 1847, they could hardly have reached Singapore by early March. It is more likely that James here referred to the same famous passage of Bunyon’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from which Thackeray took his title. For Bunyon, Vanity Fair was, of course, London. Robin Gilmour, Thackeray: Vanity Fair. London: Edward Arnold, 1982 p. 9.      

[101] “The Rajah’s Journal to the Hoddy Doddy,” op. cit., f. 14. 

[102] “The Rajah Journal to the hoddy Doddy,” Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s.91 vol. 4, f. 26 (original emphasis).   

[103] C. Grant to Lady L. Grant, Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol. 10, f. 17.

[104] See J. Brooke to J. Grant, nd, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 302 

[105] See J. Brooke to C. Grant, 8 September 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 33-34.

[106] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 13 October 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 34-36 (original emphasis).

[107] J. Brooke to C. Grant, nd [October 1847], Basil Brooke Papers, Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 36. 

[108] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 19  October 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol. 4, f. 38  

[109] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 21 October 1487, Basil Brooke Papers MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 40  

[110] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 21 October 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 49-50.

[111] Nicholas Tarling, op. cit., pp. 108-109.

[112] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 28 October 1847, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 43. 

[113] Quoted by Gertrude Jacob, op. cit., I, p. 363. 

[114] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke. pp. 132-133.  

[115] Ibid., p. 138.

[116] J. Brooke to J. Grant, 6 February  1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 305.

[117] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke. p. 135. St. John commented with characteristic, and subtle, irony, “I seldom troubled the deck myself during the middle watch….” 

[118] ibid., p. 133. 

[119] J. Brooke to J. Grant, 6 February 1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 305. 

[120] J. Brooke to J. Grant, 31 May 1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 323. 

[121] J. Brooke to J. Grant, 10 January 1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 296. 

[122] J. Brooke to J Grant, nd, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 300-302.

[123] J. Brooke to J Grant, 29 February 1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 307309.

[124] J. Brooke to J. Grant, 29 February 1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 312-314.

[125] C. Grant to J. Grant, 13 March 1848, “Letters 1848-1850,” in Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90. Box 5, item 6, ff. 25-27 (manuscript copy).

[126] J. Brooke to J. Grant, 31 May 1848, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 321-322. 

[127] C. Grant to J. Grant, 31 May 1848, “Letters 1848-1850,” in Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, Box 5, item 6, f. 28. 

[128] J. Brooke to Jolly, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 1, f. 37.

[129] C. Grant, to M. Grant. 20 June 1848. “Letter 1848-1850,” in Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, Box 5, item 6, ff. 31-36.

[130] C. Grant to A. Grant. 27 June 1848. “Letter 1848-1850,” in Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, Box 5, item 6, ff. 37-38.

[131] C. Grant to J. Grant. 11 September 1848. “Letter 1848-1850,” in Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, Box 5, item 6, f. 47.

[132] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 16 September 1848. Letter, II, p. 226. 

[133] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 138.

[134] J. Brooke to J. Grant. 16 April 1849, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4. ff. 336-338.

[135] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 227. 

[136] For example, see J. Brooke to J. Grant. 29 August 1849, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 338.

[137] Spenser St. John. The Life Sir James Brooke, p. 212.

[138] Ibid., p. 218.

[139] See Brooke’s diary in Henry Keppel, A Visit to the Indian Archipelago in HMS Meander, with portions of the private journal of Sir James Brooke, KCB. London Richard Bentley, 1853. 11, p.79. To distinguish between the two principle journals published herewith Brooke’s will be cited as ‘Brooke, Meander’ and Keppel’s as ”Keppel, Meander.’      

[140] Brooke, Meander, II, p. 131,

[141] Spenser St. John. The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 255, See also J. Brooke to Lady L. Grant. 29 May 1854. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol. 4, f. 403. Brooke having recovered from the virus, was immune to it.       

[142] J. Brooke to C. Grant. 13 June 1854, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 192+,

[143] J. Brooke to C. Grant. 20 October 1854, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 12, ff. 70 and 76.

[144] J. Brooke to C. Grant. 14 January 1855. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol.4, f. 198. The offer was calculated to appeal to Charles’s increased sense of family responsibility, including for his younger, and portion less, brother,   

[145] J. Brooke to C. Grant. 29 April 1855. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 226.

[146] J. Brooke to C. Grant. W September 1855, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 234 

[147] J. Brooke to C. Grant. 3 December 1855. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, f. 240.

[148] A reference to Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

[149] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 15 August 1856. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 242-244 (original emphasis). 

[150] Randolph Trumbach. “The Birth of the Queen: Sodomy and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern Culture. 1660-1750,” p. 134. 

[151]William Shakespeare, Othello: The Moor of Venice, Act I, Scene 3, lines 78-81. I am grateful to my colleague, Philippe Kelly, for drawing my attention to the source of James’s allusion.  

[152] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 22 September 1856. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 245-247.

[153] Max Saint, A Flourish for the Bishop and Brooke’s Friend Grant: Two Studies in Sarawak History, 1848-68. Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1985, p. 194.

[154] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 22 December 1856, basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 258.

[155] J. Brooke to C. Grant, 5 January 1857, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 4, ff. 259.

[156] James effectively retired from Sarawak not long afterwards.

[157] C. Grant to M. Grant, 6 May 1857, Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 10, ff. 268.

[158] C. Grant to J. Brooke. 6 May 1863. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 11, ff. 132-148.

[159] Arthur Crookshank should not be confused with the surgeon, Cruikshank, or his sons. See J. H. Walker, “A Confusion of Crookshanks (sic.),” For Grant’s subsequent difficulties in finding employment see C. Grant to R. Hay, 10 May 1863. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 10, f. 466.

[160] S. St. John to C. Grant. 25 May 1871. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f. 106.

[161] See St. John to C. Grant. 25 May 1871. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f. 58.

[162] Spenser St John. The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 377.

[163] Healey proposed, on the testimony of a Mrs Twining, that James “was in love with Mrs Brown and would have liked to have married her.” Edna Healey, Lady Unknown: The Life of Angela Burdett Coutts. London: Sedgwick and Jackson. 1978 p. 157, In contrast Reece suggested that it was Miss Burdett Coutts who was “a wife and a mother figure” for James, and that James’s calling her ‘the Missus’ acknowledged his financial dependence on her. R. H. W. Reece. “Introduction,” p. xxviii. Healey’s and Reece’s interpretations seem to me equally unlikely. James’s nickname more probably alluded to Miss Burdett Coutts’ relationship with Mrs Brown, the nature of which Hyam is the first scholar to have queried (Ronald Hyam, op. cit., p. 48), and which James might also have recognized in writing many of his letters to the women jointly, addressing them “To the Ladies.” Miss Burdett Coutts in turn referred to Mrs Brown in her letters to James as “my poor Darling.” See A. Burdett Coutts to J. Brooke, I January 1868, Owen Rutter (ed.) op. cit., p. 302. As Vicinus noted, nineteenth century romantic friendship was one of “two paradigmatic forms of lesbian behaviour.” Martha Vicinus, op. cit., p. 174.

[164] J. Brooke to H. Brown, 21 January 1862. Owen Ratter (ed.), op. cit., p. 131. 

[165] B. Brooke to J. Brooke, 1 November 1861. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 5, f. 396.

[166] B. Brooke to J. Brooke, 7 December 1861. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 5, f. 404 (original emphasis),   

[167] B. Brooke to J. Brooke. February [?] 1862. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol. 5,

[168] J. Brooke to H. Brown, 21 January 1862. Owen Ratter (ed.), op. cit., p. 131. 

[169] J. Brooke to H. Brown, 24 January 1862. Baroness Burdett-Coutts Papers vol. 2 BL Add 45275, f. 148. 

[170]  J. Brooke to B. Brooke, 23 January 1863. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 3, f. 266.

[171] J. Brooke to H. Brown, 25 January 1862. Baroness Burdett-Coutts Papers vol. 2 BL Add 45275, f. 150.

[172] J. Brooke to H. Brown, 21 January 1862. Owen Rutter (ed.), op. cit., p. 132.   

[173] Charles Grant was the grandson of the seventh earl of Elgin, his cousin a godchild to Queen Victoria, Brereton was the great-nephew of the bishop of Calcutta.

[174] S. St. John to C. Grant, 21 January April 1874. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f. 64. Grant annotated this remark, “nor do I agree about the ideal.”   

[VIII] Walker omits Sir James’s reply that “he thought it proved great independence of spirit” (Nigel Barley, White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) p. 208).  

[175] S. St. John to C. Grant, 21 April 1874. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f. 64. 

[176] Spenser St. John. The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 350.

[177] S. St. John to C. Grant, 21 April 1874. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f. 64.              

[178] A. Crookshank to C. Brooke, 9 February 1868. Brooke Family Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2, f. 10. James had placed Blackler in the Sarawak Service in 1864. He worked there as a clerk until dismissed by Charles Brooke in August 1867. “Roll Book No I: European Officers on Permanent Service,” Sarawak Museum, 01564, 2,” f. 16.   

[IX] Walker omits the next sentences in Crookshank’s account: “We have advised the Rajah not to take any notice of him, but if he writes again to answer him through a lawyer. He’s a bad lot!!” (Nigel Barley, White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) p. 208).   

[179] See Nicholas Tarling, op. cit., p. 490. May first arrived in Sarawak in 1864, but left before taking up his position. He returned in 1866 to work as a clerk and, later, as an Inspector of Police, until his resignation in 1869. “Roll Book No I: European Officers an Permanent Service.” Sarawak Museum 015164, 2.,” f. 15.    

[X] Nigel Barley adds that May “ended up, perhaps appropriately, as an inspector of police in Sarawak. In his will, James left him £52 per annum, …” (White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) p. 208).        

[180] J. Brooke to S. Bray, 21 March 1866. Owen Ratter (ed.), op. cit., p. 225.  

[181] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 576. After later complaining to Grant that there “is not a line in the papers he left me of any public or even private interest,” St. John suggested that “every paper of interest must have been destroyed: he did burn [word indistinct] a [word indistinct] amount of papers.” S. St. John to C. Grant, 23 May 1878. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f. 73.         

[182] S. St. John to C. Grant, 25 May 1871. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90 vol. 15, f. 58 (original emphasis).

[183] S. St. John to C. Grant, 5 September 1878. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 15, f104.

[184] A reference to Lord Nelson’s death, when he called, in extremis, to one of his men. “Kiss me, Hardy.” See R. H. W. Reece, “Introduction,” p. xxx.  

[185] J. Brooke to B. Brooke, 8 June 1862. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 5, f. 305. 

[186] I am grateful to Ruth Blair and Peter Cryle for explicating the meaning and connections of en garçon.  

[187] J. Brooke to Cruikshank, 4 December 1831, quoted by Gertrude L. Jacob. op. cit., I p. 35 (emphasis added),  

[188] J. Brooke to Cruikshank. 16 June 1831, quoted ibid., p. 35,

[189] Quoted ibid., p. 33. 

[190] Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, Box 1, Item 1, ff. 14-16. The corpus of James’s poetry extant might repay closer textual analysis then scholars have so far undertaken. Although there is not room here to attempt this, it is not clear to me why Tarling assumed that James’s poem about unrequited love, “The Abandoned,” was addressed to a young woman. It is more likely to have been addressed to Stonhouse, Grant or some other youth. Nicholas Tarling, op. cit., p. 14.  

[191]For example, what should we make of Annie Brooke’s anger that James’s servant, Crymble, had been “spoilt by being make too much of, too much of by him. I can’t stand his manners, they are odious to me, free & easy & calling the gentlemen by their names. Charles Grant, Alan,  St. John, Arthur Crookshank.” A. Brooke, 20 November 1857, quoted by Max Saint, op cit., p. 204 (original emphasis).   

[192] R. H. W. Reece and A. J. M. Saint, “Introduction,” to Harriet McDougall, Sketches of our life at Sarawak. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1992 (nd,). Reece had earlier suggested this in his “European-Indigenous Miscegenation and Social Status in Nineteenth Century Borneo,” p. 457. In suggesting that Reuben had been James’s groom, Reece and Saint seem to have misunderstood James’s statement that Reuben actually had been his servant and that he was then working in Lord Ward’s stables. J. Brooke to B Brooke, 28 October 1855. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2A. f. 19 (see also James’s letter to Brooke of 7 February 1857, at f. 120).  I have found no reason to believe, however, that Reuben had been his servant. James did not repeat the claim after acknowledging Reuben’s paternity.   

[193] J. Brooke to B. Brooke. 28 October 1855. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2A, f. 19.

[194] J. Brooke to B. Brooke, 25 December 1857. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2A, f. 147. Since Brooke could easily have corroborated this Mrs Savage, it is unlikely that James was lying.

[195] J. Brooke to M. Savage, 13 July 1857. Basil Brooke Papers, Pac s. 90, vol. 1, f. 217.

[196] Emily Hahn, op. cit., pp. 28-29.

[197] J. Brooke to H. Keppel, 5 April 1846. Letters, II, p. 136.

[198] Spenser St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, p. 1 l 1.

[199] ibid., p. 133.

[200] See J. Brooke to Lord Palmerston, 6 February 1849. F0 12/7/36-45.

[201] Henry Keppel, A Sailor's Life under four Sovereigns. London: Macmillan, 1899. II, p. 113. It is not clear how, or even whether, Keppel’s attitude would have been affected by the fact that his ancestor, the first Lord Albemarle, who founded the Keppel family’s rank and wealth, had been the catamite of William III. Dennis Rubini, “Sexuality and Augustan England: Sodomy, Politics, Elite Circles and Society,” in Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma (eds), op. cit., pp. 349-382 at pp 361-363.

[202] S. Baring-Gould and C. A. Bampfylde, A History of Sarawak under its Two White Rajahs, 1839-1908. London: Henry Sotheran; 1909, p. 104  

[203] J. Brooke to J. C. Templer, 14 April 1843. Letters, I, p. 253.

[XI] Charles Johnson was born on 3 June 1829, so he was thirteen at this date.

[204] See his letters to Templer, ibid., p. 284 and 286.

[205] J. Brooke to J. B. Johnson, 6 July 1845. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2A, f. 4.  

[206] J. Brooke to J. B. Johnson, 2 April 1847. Brooke Family Papers, MSS Pac s. 83, vol. 2, f. 4.

[207] J. Brooke to E. Johnson, 10 October 1848. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 1, f. 132. For further expressions of James’s love for Charles see letters in Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 1, ff. 137, 144; and in Letters, III, at pp. 43, 49 and 53. 

[208] J. Brooke to Jolly, 26 July, 1856. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 1.f. 99.

[209] J. Brooke to B. Brooke, 17 August 1857. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2B. 1, f. 474, Note that James here expounded the primacy of fraternal succession over primogeniture. 

[210] J. Brooke to B. Brooke, 17 August 1857. Basil Brooke Papers, MSS Pac s. 90, vol. 2B. 1, ff. 474-476. 

[211] Ronald Hyam, op. cit., p. 72. 

[212] David M. Halperin, op. cit., p. 40.

[213] Michal Foucault, op. cit., p. 148.

[214] Ronald Hyam, op. cit., p. 210.

[XII] Borneo Research Bulletin 29 (1998) pp. 190-222. The excerpt quoted here is from p. 211.

[XIII] Nigel Barley, White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke (2002) pp. 21-25 and 205-9.

[XIV] It should be stressed that, in urging scepticism over Walker’s claim here, Barley cannot be accused of joining in the suppression or avoidance of unpopular truth which Walker accuses earlier writers of perpetrating through adherence to a “heterosexist paradigm”: Barley fully accepts Brooke’s attraction to and likely sexual involvement with boys, which, by the time (2002) he was writing, was infinitely more damning than involvement with a man like Cruikshank. If anything, it is Walker who is trying to make Sir James more palatable to modern prejudices by stretching his homosexuality beyond pederasty on such tenuous grounds.

[XV] G. Jacob, The Raja of Sarawak (London, 1876) Vol.1, page 27. [Barley’s footnote 6 to Chapter 2]

[XVI] St. John, Spenser. The Life of Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, from His Personal Papers and Correspondence. W. Blackwood and Sons, 1879. [Barley’s footnote 7 to Chapter 2]

[XVII] C. Brooke, Ten Years in Sarawak (London, 1866) p. xiii [Barley’s footnote 8 to Chapter 2]

[XVIII] Norton, R., Mother Clap's Molly House (London, 1992) p. 132 [Barley’s footnote 9 to Chapter 2]

[XIX] This is an exaggeration of the situation, at least as regards most of Sir James’s adult lifetime.  Sodomy, then the only homosexual offence in English law, meant only pedication with emission. The death penalty was never inflicted for it after 1835 and had been in decline for many years before then.

[XX] G. Jacob, The Raja of Sarawak (London, 1876) Vol.1, page 33. [Barley’s footnote 10 to Chapter 2]

[XXI] St. John, Spenser. The Life of Sir James Brooke, Raja of Sarawak (London, 1879) p 92. [Barley’s footnote 11 to Chapter 2]

[XXII] St. John, Spenser. The Life of Sir James Brooke, Raja of Sarawak (London, 1879)p 376. [Barley’s footnote 12 to Chapter 2]

[XXIII] G. Jacob, The Raja of Sarawak (London, 1876) Vol.1, page 45. [Barley’s footnote 13 to Chapter 2]

[XXIV] S. St. John, The Life of Sir James Brooke, Raja of Sarawak from His Personal Papers and Correspondence, London, 1879, p 350. [Barley’s footnote 7 to Chapter 14]

[XXV] J. Walker, ‘This Peculiar Acuteness of Feeling’, Borneo Research Bulletin, 1998. [Barley’s footnote 8 to Chapter 14]

[XXVI] James Brooke to Hannah Brown, British  Museum, BL, Add. 45275, f. 143. [Barley’s footnote 10 to Chapter 14]

[XXVII] James Brooke to Hannah Brown, British  Museum, BL, Add. 45275, f. 148. [Barley’s footnote 11 to Chapter 14]

[XXVIII] James Brooke to Hannah Brown, British  Museum, BL, Add. 45275, f. 150. [Barley’s footnote 12 to Chapter 14]

[XXIX] Correspondence of James Brooke: Basil Brooke Papers, Rhodes House, Oxford, MSS Pac. s. 90, Vol. V, f. 396. [Barley’s footnote 13 to Chapter 14]