Royalist (schooner)

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United Kingdom
Name: Royalist
Owner: James Brooke
Builder: Built in Cowes
Launched: 1834
Acquired: 1836
Fate: Wrecked, 11 Dec 1854
General characteristics
Class and type: Topsail schooner
Tons burthen: 142 tons
Armament: 6 pounders

The Royalist was a 142-ton topsail schooner, comparable with HMS Pickle, which had brought the news of the Battle of Trafalgar home. She was probably built in Cowes in 1834 as a gentleman's yacht for Rev T.L. Lane, but purchased by James Brooke in 1836 with money he had inherited from his father. He intended to use it for an expedition to the East Indies in the course of a circumnavigation of the globe,[1] in preparation for which he cruised in the Mediterranean in 1837.[2] As a vessel of the Royal Yacht Squadron[3][4] it was permitted to fly the White Ensign and be accorded the same rights as ships of the Royal Navy. When armed, with "6 six-pounders, a number of swivels, and small arms in abundance," Royalist was effectively a private warship. Royalist played an instrumental role in establishing Brooke's foothold in Sarawak, from his first visit in 1839 until he became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. The Royalist was recorded in Brunei in September 1843, and is said to have been sold early in 1844.[5] It appears that the ship retained her name and ended up trading, after some time in the Sandwich Islands trade[6], in Auckland, New Zealand, before being wrecked at Kawhia on 11th December, 1854, when she was carrying a cargo of timber and wheat.[7]

In modern Sarawak, there are several references to this well known ship, such as The Royalist Pub in Kuching.


  1. ^ J.Roy.Geog.Soc.(1838),pp. 443-448: Proposed Exploring Expedition to the Asiatic Archipelago by James Brooke, Esq.
  2. ^ J.Roy.Geog.Soc.(1838),pp. 129-134: Sketch of the Island and Gulf of Symi, on the South-western Coast of Anatolia, in February 1837. By James Brooke, Esq.
  3. ^ [1], New Sporting Magazine (Jan 1841)
  4. ^ [2], Guest and Boulton (1902) The Royal Yacht Squadron - Memorials of its members, ...
  5. ^ Runciman, S. (1960), The White Rajahs
  6. ^ at Honolulu in 1853
  7. ^ contemporary newspaper advertisements and reports