Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Charles Anthoni Johnson in Memories

"If I should die, think only this to me; That's there some corner of a foreign field. That is for ever England, There shall be..." [Rupert Brooke: The Soldier]

Credits: Learn
Melanau blogspot
Charles Anthoni Johnson (3 June 1829-17 May 1917) was born at Burnham, Somerset, England with many siblings- Captain John Brooke Johnson, Mary Anna Johnson, Harriet Helena, Johnson, Charlotte Frances Johnson, Captain William Frederic Johnson, Emma Lucy Johnson, Margaret Henrietta Johnson, Georgianna Brooke Johnson, James Stuart Johnson and Henry Stuart Johnson. 

He was educated at Crewkerne Grammar School and entered the Royal Navy. Later, he entered his service at Lundu station in 1852 as Resident. He adopted his uncle's surname as part of his name. In 1865, his uncle named him as his successor of the small country on the coast of Borneo, Sarawak. 

In 1868, he became the second Rajah of Sarawak. In 1869, he went to England and met Margaret Lili de Windt who became his wife on 28 October 1869. They have six children (Dayang Ghita Brooke, James Harry Brooke, Charles Clayton Brooke, Charles Vyner deWindt Brooke, Tuan Muda Bertram and Tuan Bongsu Henry Keppel Brooke) but there was an evidence he had another child with a native Malay woman. The child, Esca Brooke adopted by Rev. William Daykin later and they moved to Canada.

Charles known as unique person, full of ideas, a bit headstrong but passionate in his work. Spending 65 years as a Sarawakian and 49 years as Rajah, he wished to rest forever at Sarawak, but his wish was unfulfilled because of the WWII. In order to appreciate his service, the government decided to build up a memorial monument.

Charles Anthoni Johnson in Memories

The Charles Brooke Memorial Monument was build from a donation. In 1924, the donation for this project was up to $76000, $25000 had been used to build up the monument while the balance was for Hospital Memorial Charles Brooke establishment. The monument was designed by Mr. Dennis Santry from Swan & MacLaren Company, a Singaporean architecture firm. It was the same company who designed General Post Office and several government building at Kuching. 

The monument was designed 20 feet, made from granite stone and a piece of bronze panel had been pressed into a stone. Each of its edges was a clear image of Sarawak's main tribe; Malay, Dayaks, Chinese and Kayan. On the front side, there was a white marble sculpture of Charles, together with historical facts such as a life event and important dates. On top of the sculpture was a symbol of Sarawak Kingdom and its glorious grandeur.

The inauguration of Charles Brooke Memorial Monument was on 16 October 1924 at Kuching Old Court (it used to be as State Legislative Assembly) and attend by many people. The monument was arrived from Pangkalan Batu, Astana and escorted by officials to its place. Biju, the 89-year old Iban man, the oldest Ibanese at that time was a special guest for the ceremony (he was a former worker for the First Rajah and a good friend to all three Rajahs). During the ceremony, an airplane (from Singapore) suddenly appeared on the sky, which surprised everyone and the native people believed that, Charles Brooke is now coming home.

"He saw England in every corner, and each of England was his beloved foreign field."

Ref: W.J Chater, Wikipedia CB, Wikipedia CVB, Wikipedia of RB, and an appreciation to S. Maugham.

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