Recounting the Memories of the Past

Tag Archives: 19th century Brunei

Early career of Sultan Hashim

The Palace of Sultan Hashim

Hashim Jalilul or Pengiran Anak Hashim as he was known (not to be confused with his nemesis, Pengiran Muda Hashim, who was the chief minister under Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II), was perhaps one of the most important yet contentious figures in Brunei History.

Pengiran Anak Hashim Jalilul was born to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (d. 1852). However, his mother was not the royal consort. Opinions differ regarding his actual date of birth. It has been placed from a date between the years 1811 to 1835. However, A.V.M. Horton’s estimate of 1824 seems to be more plausible.

When he was the Sultan it was believed that he was already reached 60 years old. In fact, he was an old and feeble Sultan when he was met by McArthur in 1904, who thought his age to be 70 while the Sultan himself told he had reached his 80s.

Pengiran Anak Hashim was no ordinary chief; confrontational at times and diplomatic at other times. Contemporary British accounts portray him as a crafty and determined personality who harboured no love for foreign imperial personages. Intensely nationalistic, deep in his heart he loathed everything about Britain, largely because of the activities of the Brookes. But there was little he could achieve by a direct conflict with imperialists. Yet, in 1840s while still a young man, he fought a proxy war by eliminating another branch of Brunei royalty supported by Britain and James Brooke.

The young Pengiran Anak Hashim earned the wrath of the British after the event which led to direct British Government involvement in Brunei affairs in 1846. Admiral Thomas Cochrane, the British Navy Commander in the East called the Pengiran a “man of worthless character.” Besides the Pengiran’s name  was implicated  in piratical activities in the region which the British were determined to stamp out. On the other hand, one British official rated the young Pengiran Anak Hashim quite high. He was described by some as an able and intelligent chief and enjoyed the friendship of Sir Spencer St. John, the British  Consul in Labuan.

Text taken from Brunei Revival of 1906: A Popular History by B.A. Hussainmiya.



The Yankee Consul Affairs

In 1846, an American named Charles Lee Moses received appointment as the first US Consul General in Brunei. Sultan Abdul Momin was much impressed by the ambitious promises made by the US Consul General and agreed to build a consulate building for him. The Sultan believed that Moses would bring economic benefits and American protection to Brunei. Moses succeeded in convincing the Sultan to lease out for ten years almost the entire North Borneo, comprising 21 districts from the Sulaman to the Paitan rivers and territories from Paitan to Kimanis – including the Balabac and Palawan islands. In return, the Sultan was to recieve $4,500 in annual payments, while Pengiran Temenggong Pengiran Anak Hashim’s share was another $4000.

Map of Sarawak in 1860s and Islands close to North Borneo

For Moses, the concession was purely a profit-making venture. Unfortunately his drive to get more profit did not help him to become a popular person in Brunei as he failed to keep his promises to the Sultan. The Sultan’s many requests for the British help in recovering the money owed to him fell on deaf ears. Moses found himself unable to recover the dues so he set fire to the US Consulate building and tried to implicate the Sultan in order to demand compensation. An American Government inquiry exonerated the Sultan and dismissed Moses from its service.

Daughter of CL Moses

Torrey, an American businessman acquired the leasing rights from Moses when he went to Hong Kong and renegotiated the lease later on.

[Text taken from Brunei Revival of 1906 by B.A. Hussainmiya]

Rajah Joseph William Torrey

Thomas Bradley Harris and Joseph William Torrey

North Borneo was never touched by any Europeans up until Charles Lee Moses came to Brunei and bought the leasing rights on almost the entire North Borneo from Sultan Abdul Momin and Pengiran Anak Pengiran Temenggong Hashim in 1865. The rights was later transferred to Joseph William Torrey of Hong Kong, Thomas Bradley Harris, Tat Cheong and other Chinese merchants. In fact these rights were transferrable to his successors in the company on the event of Torrey’s death.

Torrey began a settlement at the Kimanis River mouth, which he called Ellana.  Sugarcane, tobacco and rice were planted and some trade was conducted along the coast.

He was also highly regarded in North Borneo as he was not only the president of the American Trading Company of Borneo but also conferred by the Sultan the title of Rajah of Ambong and Marudu with ‘all other powers and rights usually exercised by and belonging to sovereign rulers’.

However, the company faced financial problems and other adversities such as diseases and desertion by immigrant labourers towards the end of 1866. In May 1866 Harris who had been appointed Chief Secretary died of fever and the settlement was withdrawn in November 1866.

Before Torrey returned to United Sates in 1877, he managed to sell his rights to the Consul of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Hong Kong, Baron Von Overbeck. Torrey died in Boston Massachusetts in March 1884.

Terusan – in Sarawak or Sabah?

Terusan or also known as Trusan are apparently not only located in Sarawak (which of course is a district and now part of Limbang Division) but also apparently found in Sabah which is a town with an approximate population of 818 in 2004 according to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terusan).

Historically, Terusan in Sarawak  was ceded to Charles Brooke in 1884 by Sultan Abdul Momin and then Pengiran Temenggong Pengiran Anak Hashim in consideration of annual money payments  before the Amanat was introduced in 1885 with an perfect excuse of disturbances which they took advantage of and that the people of Terusan hugely support Brooke government for they would impose minimal taxation and would be better off under their control rather than Brunei.

Sarawak is divided into 22 major basins

James Brooke envisaged a vibrant trading port of Kuching

When James Brooke strengthened his position as the Rajah of Sarawak and acquired Tanjung Datu to Samarahan river through a treaty signed in 1846 between Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien and the British, he knew that it was just the beginning to his relentless pursuit of territorial expansion and majestic rule in Sarawak.

From 1853 until his death in 1868, he remarkably acquired territories stretching from Tanjung Datu to Tanjung Kedurong from Sultan Abdul Momin in exchange of annual payment which later were passed down to his successor Charles Brooke.

James Brooke knew that by capturing these territories he could make Kuching the busiest trading port in Borneo. Apart from minerals such as gold and antimony, sago and other jungle products were exported to neighbouring countries such as Singapore that would help to generate income for Brooke government. As a result, much of the trade has diverted to Kuching and Brunei suffered trading losses in the long run.

Map of Sarawak 1866. Taken from sarikei-time-capsule.blogspot.com


James Brooke's signature

Why Pengiran Anak Abdul Momin was chosen as the Sultan?

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien II











Pengiran Anak Abdul Momin was only related to the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien II (SOAS II) when he married to the Sultan’s daughter Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Zubaidah and that made him the son-in-law of SOAS II. On top of that, he was not the first choice candidate to be chosen as the Sultan. In fact it was the brother of SOAS II, Pengiran  Anak Muhammad Tajuddien who was the first choice candidate.  So how come this son-in-law of SOAS II became the successor?

Sultan Abdul Momin



















Part of the reason why he was chosen due to his wealth of experience and knowledge in running the government. He was the Pengiran Bendahara and was in fact upon the death of SOAS II, he have previously served as regent for him during his ill health.

Another reason was that Keris si naga was passed down to him after Pengiran Anak Muhammad Tajuddien rejected to become the Sultan because he wanted his son Pengiran Muda Muhammad Jamalul Alam (also the son-in-law of SOAS II) would become the Sultan but was rejected. As result of that Pengiran Muhammad Tajuddien embarrassed and burned himself using gun powder.

When he became the Sultan, he had huge supporters and he tried to settle the differences within the royal family. He appointed Pengiran Muda Muhammad (brother of Pengiran Muda Hashim) as Pengiran Bendahara and Pengiran Anak Hashim was installed as Pengiran Temenggong.