Papers of the Brookes of Sarawak

Scope and Content

  • Papers of Anthony Brooke and Lord Tanlaw, 1847-1971, including correspondence,photographs, records of libel and civil suits, notebooks and maps
  • Files relating to the history of Sarawak, 1841-1968
  • Papers of Lady Halsey, mainly correspondence, 1933-1962
  • Papers of Lady Bryant, mainly correspondence, 1938-1964
  • Papers of Mrs. Noble, mainly correspondence, 1913-1976
  • Papers of Dame Margery Perham, mainly correspondence, 1939-1962
  • Printed material, including Hansard reports of debates on Sarawak andpress cuttings mainly concerning the Cession, 1913-1969
  • Additional papers received from various sources, including correspondence,cuttings and copy wills, 1803-1977

Administrative / Biographical History

The papers cover the whole span of Brooke rule in Sarawak, as well as lookingback to Thomas Cooke, father of Sir James, the first Rajah, and forward to thepresent day. Sir James Brooke ruled Sarawak from 1841 until his death in1868. Although he had initially planned to make his nephew, John Brooke Brookehis heir and second Rajah, a rift developed between them over Sarawak's ability to maintainits independence unsupported and resulted in the passing of the title toanother nephew, Charles Anthony Johnson Brooke, whose wife was the RaneeMargaret. Charles Brooke died in 1917,and was succeeded as third Rajah by Sir Charles Vyner Brooke. It was SirCharles Vyner Brooke who oversaw the cession of Sarawak to the British Crownin 1946. His wife was the Ranee Sylvia. Until 1946 the Rajah Muda(heir-apparent) had been Anthony Brooke, the third Rajah's nephew, who initiateda ten-year span of correspondence with Dame Margery Perham in 1939. The TuanMuda (heir-presumptive) had been Bertram Brooke, father of Lady Halsey andLady Bryant. Lord Tanlaw, formerly Simon MacKay, was the Rajah's grandson.A large part of the collection was deposited by Margaret Noble, a closefriend of the Brooke family, and includes her own papers.

Conditions Governing Access

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 82 in Manuscript Collections (Africana and non-Africana) in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Supplementary accessions to the end of 1977..., compiled by Wendy S. Byrne (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1978). The library holds handlists for the main collection and the two collections of supplementary papers.

Alternative Form Available

Some parts of the collection are held on microfilm by the Brunei High Commission.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.


Fourteen boxes of supplementary papers, consisting of additional papers of:

  • Anthony Brooke, 1841-1978, including correspondence, subject files, and materialrelating to the Cession, additional papers of Mrs. Margaret Noble, relatinglargely to the Ranee Margaret, Bertram Brooke and research into Brooke familyhistory, 1837-1976, and albums donated by Mrs. Kathleen Brooke containingchiefly press cuttings, and a roll of posters, 1925-1949
  • Three boxes of supplementary material, consisting of papers relating toMrs. Kathleen Brooke's memoirs, mainly correspondence, 1941-1974, printedmaterial and related papers concerning Sarawak, Anthony Brooke and othermembers of the Brooke family, c1945-1974, letters mainly from Anthony Brooketo Kathleen Brooke, 1942-1944, 1951-1980, letters from Anthony Brookeconcerned with his world travels and work for the promotion of internationalunderstanding and peace, 1955-1973, correspondence relating to the Cession ofSarawak, between R.H.Reece, author of The Name ofBrooke: the End of White Rajah Rule in Sarawak (Kuala Lumpur,Oxford University Press, 1981) and Anthony and Kathleen Brooke, 1974-1980,and miscellaneous items including photographs, 1877, 1913-1963, 1981

Smaller deposits of related material include:

  • Original copy of address of welcome to the Rajah Muda, fromthe Sarawak Museum, Kuching, deposited [June] 1980
  • Further correspondence with Mrs. Noble, from Vice-Admiral Basil C.B.Brooke CB, CBE, deposited [May] 1982
  • Photographs of Sheepstor, Devon, site of the Brooke family chapel, fromJohn Falconer at the National Maritime Museum, deposited [November] 1986
  • Papers relating to the Brooke family, c1934-c1950, from Farrer &Co., Solicitors, via the British Records Association, deposited 5th October1999

Related Material

  • Papers of the Brooke family, c1830-1977, including papers of C.T.C. Grant, Laird of Kilgraston (ref. MSS. Pac. s. 90)
  • Papers of Sir James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, mainly correspondence, 1841-[1960] (ref. MSS. Pac. s. 66)
  • Letters from Sir Charles Vyner Brooke to George C. Gillan, Treasurer of Sarawak, 1906-1930 (ref. MSS. Ind. Ocn. s. 119)
  • Letters from Sir Charles Vyner Brooke to C.P. Lowe, 1922-1935, mainly concerning the Public Works Department in Sarawak (ref. MSS. Ind. Ocn. s. 118)
  • Letters from Sir Charles Vyner Brooke to Dr. M.P. O'Connor concerning medical and health matters in Sarawak, 1940-1941 (ref. MSS. Pac. s. 58)
  • Papers of Walter Francis de Vere Skrine, including correspondence from Sir Charles Vyner Brooke while in the service of the Sarawak government, [1909-1928] (ref. MSS. Ind. Ocn. s. 143)
  • Personal letters of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke to Frank Kortright, D.O., Sarawak and his wife, Ina Kortright, 1924-1929 (ref. MSS. Pac. s. 74 (1))
  • Diaries of Christopher William Dawson relating the cession of Sarawak by Rajah Brooke to H.M. King George VI, 1946 (ref. MSS. Pac. r. 7, 8)
  • Papers of Arthur Bartlett Ward including a letter from Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, Rajah, 1929 (ref. MSS. Pac. s. 80)
  • Typescript history of Brunei, 1946, including an account of Sir James Brooke's agreement with Pengiran Muda Hashim to govern Sarawak (ref. MSS. Pac. s. 69)
  • Papers of Dame Margery Perham, 1881-1982 (ref. MSS. Perham)

The library also holds

  • A letter of Anthony Brooke concerning the responsibility for Sarawak's administration, 1946
  • Correspondence of Sir Charles Vyner Brooke with C. Pitt Hardacre, Government Agent, Australia regarding Sarawak, 1942
  • A note on the administration of Sarawak under the Brooke regime, 1838-1939
  • A file on Anthony Brooke libel, 1947-1951
  • Correspondence of A.M. Hughes mainly with Anthony Brooke, concerning the cession of Sarawak, 1945-1956
  • A letter to G.F. Gillan critical of the Rajah of Sarawak, 1947

The papers of Vice-Admiral Basil C.B. Brooke CB, CBE are held at theNational Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.


Japanese empire in the tropics. selected documents andreports of the Japanese periode in Sarawak Northwest Borneo 1941-1945edited and introduced by Ooi Keat Gin (Athens, Ohio, Center for InternationalStudies, Ohio University, c1998); Ten years in Sarawak by Charles Brooke (Oxford, Singapore, Oxford University Press, 1990).