The Kingdom of Sarawak was a state in Borneo established by Sir James Brooke in 1841 by receiving independent kingdom status from the Sultanate of Brunei as a reward for helping fight piracy and insurgency. In 1888 Charles Anthoni Johnson Brooke, the successor of James Brooke, accepted a British Protectorate, which it remained until 1946, when the third ruler Charles Vyner Brooke ceded his rights to the United Kingdom. Since 1963, Sarawak has been a state of Malaysia.
Sarawak was part of the Sultanate of Brunei in Borneo. During the reign of Pangeran Indera Mahkota, Sarawak was in chaos from piracy and insurgency. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1827–1852) the Sultan of Brunei, ordered Pangeran Muda Hashim in 1839 to restore order and it was during this time that James Brooke visited Sarawak. Pangeran Muda Hashim initially requested assistance but James Brooke refused. Brooke was by then an independent adventurer with his own ship having left military employment in India after recovering from serious battle injuries. In 1841, James Brooke paid another visit to Sarawak and this time he agreed to assist Pangeran Muda Hashim. The success in defeating the pirates and insurgents led to the signing of a treaty in 1841 ceding as a reward Sarawak and Serian to James Brooke. Thereafter, on 24 September 1841, Pangeran Muda Hashim bestowed the title Rajah to James Brooke. He effectively became the Rajah of Sarawak and founded the White Rajah Dynasty of Sarawak, later extending his administration through an agreement with the Sultan of Brunei. The uniqueness of this arrangement in becoming a Rajah without any intent of colonizing or imperialism mesmerized the British public’s imagination and gave further impetus to exploration and rise to “man who would be king” adventurers in exotic locales.
James Brooke, who was to become the first White Rajah, received a sizable tract of land from the Sultan. As time went on Sarawak’s size would increase tremendously as more territory was leased or acquired from the Sultan of Brunei.