Raffles and the British Invasion of Java is based on a large range on primary and secondary sources. The vast majority of the primary source material is to be found in the archives of the India Office, now housed in the British Library’s Asia, Pacific and Africa Collection. This is where most of the reams of paperwork churned out over the centuries by the British East India Company have ended up. The single most significant source on the British Interregnum within this enormous archive is the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection, a collection of around fifty somewhat disorganised files spanning the entire period of the British Interregnum in Java, its run-up and aftermath. Besides this collection, many of the official reports and letters sent from Java appear in the Bengal Secret and Political Consultations. Also in the British Library is the entire print run of the Java Government Gazette, held in the world’s most frustrating format – microfilm. Full chapter notes for the book follow below
Chapter One – The Land of Promise
The official account of the British arrival at Cilincing in August 1814, with details of the order of landing and the problems caused by wind and tide, can be found in Major William Thorn’s Memoir of the Conquest of Java. John Leyden’s fancy-dress shenanigans on the beach are described in a rather disapproving tone by Captain Thomas Taylor, Lord Minto’s military secretary, in a letter quoted in C.E. Wurtzburg’s Raffles of the Eastern Isles.
All manner of books cover the history of early European involvement in Indonesia. M.C. Ricklefs’ A History of Modern Indonesia is one of the best known, while specifically on the early Anglo-Dutch rivalry over the spice trade, Giles Milton’s highly readable Nathaniel’s Nutmeg is excellent.
Chapter Two – The First Sigh of the East
Most of the details of Raffles’ early life and career prior to the preparations for the Java campaign are drawn from the myriad past biographies of the man. The most significant are Lady Sophia Raffles’ Memoir of the Life and Public Services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Demetrius Charles Boulger’s Life of Sir Stamford Raffles, Emily Hahn’s Raffles of Singapore, and C.E. Wurtzburg’s Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Of these Wurtzburg provides by far the most detail, and draws from the widest range of materials – but it is by no means a book to be read for pleasure! Emily Hahn’s book – while much less scholarly in tone – is exceptionally well written, makes a good job on local and historical contexts, and draws on some unusual sources. It is probably the single best traditionalist Raffles biography for general readers. These books are important supplementary sources to the archive materials for all subsequent chapters – though Nadia Wright’s essay Sir Stamford Raffles – a Manufactured Hero? is essential corrective reading for anyone working from these books, or even just perusing them for pleasure.
Specifically on the topic of Olivia Raffles, Wurtzburg provides some information, but it is John Bastin’s The Wives of Sir Stamford Raffles that gives the more scandalous details. John Leyden’s wonderful story – and much of his rather less wonderful verse – can be found in The Poetical Remains of the Late Dr John Leyden by Reverend James Morton.
Details of conditions in Batavia in the years before the British invasion can be found harvested from various European accounts in Sketches Civil and Military of the Island of Java, a book hurriedly cobbled together in London in 1811 by the somewhat disreputable publisher John Joseph Stockdale.
Various intriguing glimpses of Raffles and others in Melaka can be found in the Hikayat Abdullah of ‘Munshi’ Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir. Abdullah’s book is frequently criticised for its chronological inaccuracies and contradictions, and in a post-colonial context the man himself might earn a certain amount or ire for his presumably self-serving dedication to the British. But he does offer all manner of insights into daily life, character traits and physical appearance of the kind that are usually missing in contemporary European sources.
Vast amounts of correspondence and planning materials from the months prior to the departure of the British fleet from Melaka can be found in the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection, now held in the British Library. Files f148/1 to f148/6 contain the bulk of this material, while there is more in the Bengal Secret and Political Consultations for1810 and 1811. There is some particularly amusing correspondence in f148/6 between Raffles and the Balinese Raja of Buleleng, in which the king makes multiple impertinent demands for such luxuries as a camera obscura and a miniature sailing ship, a very specific six fathoms in length. In anticipation of these gifts he sent Raffles an eight-year-old slave by way of recompense.
Chapter Three – Glorious Victory
The main source for the details of the campaign around Batavia in August 1811 is Captain (later Major) William Thorn’s Memoir of the Conquest of Java. For the mindboggling life story of Rollo Gillespie there is A Memoir of Major-General R.R. Gillespie, also by William Thorn, and The Bravest Soldier by Eric Wakeham.
The original charts and plans made during the campaign are in file f148/10 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. The correspondence dating from the campaign – including Janssens’ ink-splattered French missives – is in file f148/11, with a few more letters in f148/15.
Chapter Four – A Thousand Little Questions
The background story of the royal courts of Central Java is covered in most major histories of Indonesia. M.C. Ricklefs’ Jogjakarta under Sultan Mangkubumi 1749-1792 is particularly detailed, drawing on both Dutch and Javanese sources, and explaining the contexts of the partition of Mataram.
The key source for the early part of this chapter is the account of Captain William Robison of his first visit to the Javanese courts in September 1811. This can be found in file f148/17 in the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. Robison was also responsible for collating a mass of reports from the various Dutch residents still at their posts around Java. These, and the correspondence he collected from the Susuhunan and Sultan, are in f148/18.
A very large number of official and private letters and reports from Raffles, Lord Minto and others dating from the early months of the Interregnum can be found in files f148/12 and 15, as well as in the contemporaneous Bengal Secret and Political Consultations.
The descriptions of the methods of torture used by the Dutch are from Stockdale’s Sketches Civil and Military of the Island of Java.
A source used first in this chapter, and which remains important for subsequent chapters, is The Journal of Thomas Otho Travers 1813-1820, in the published version edited by John Bastin.
Besides Raffles’ own accounts in file f148/30 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection, a very useful second perspective on his journey to the Javanese Courts in late 1811 – giving, amongst other things, a unique indication that military action against the courts may have already been being prepared at this stage, and mentioning the complaints of the villagers who were forced to carry Raffles’ luggage unpaid – comes from the journal of Colonel Colin Mackenzie, which can be found in file f148/47.
Chapter Five – Hearts of Darkness
The vital correspondence between Raffles and the Palembang Sultanate is in file f148/6 in the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. Raffles’ own letters sent to Minto once the massacre had been discovered and the expedition planned are in f148/30. The affair is examined in an article by John Bastin, ‘Palembang in 1811 and 1812’ in edition 110 of the journal Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde, and is also given a brief critical examination by Syed Hussein Alatas in Thomas Stamford Raffles: Schemer or Reformer? Both writers dwell excessively on the largely irrelevant issue of the translation of the phrase ‘buang habiskan sekali-kali’ while seemingly missing the much more important context of the plan to annex Bangka (revealed in the above listed archive files, and in f148/3 and f148/15). Bastin does, however, provide a helpful appendix with some of the original Malay-language correspondence transliterated into roman script from the Jawi.
Detailed accounts of the advance on Palembang, vividly conveying the ‘Heart of Darkness’ atmosphere of the journey, can be found in William Thorn’s Memoir of the Conquest of Java, and A Memoir of Major-General R.R. Gillespie. Gillespie’s letters and reports on the expedition are in file f148/21 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. A special edition of the Java Government Gazette, published on 30 May 1812, gives a public account of the campaign – and a good deal of heavy-handed editorialising on the theme of ‘Asiatic treachery’ to boot.
On the idea of ‘amok’ see Hobson-Jobson, the great dictionary-encyclopaedia of the British Empire in Asia, and for more on European perceptions of ‘the Malay Race’ see the excellent The Myth of the Lazy Native by Syed Hussein Alatas.
A key source for the second part of this chapter and for subsequent chapters is the official weekly newspaper, the Java Government Gazette. The entire 1812-1816 print run of the paper is held on microfilm in the British Library’s Asia and Pacific Collection. Olivia Raffles’ letter to Lord Minto is in file f148/30 in the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection, as are various key letters in which Raffles discusses his plans to attack Yogyakarta. More letters from shortly before the assault are in f148/31, while Thorn’s Memoir of the Conquest of Java details the military preparations for the assault.
Chapter Six – A New Field of Glory
The vital source for this chapter – and for sections about Yogyakarta in subsequent chapters – is the Babad Bedhah ing Ngayogyakarta of Arya Panular. The original manuscript of this colourful, digressive account of the British assault on the Kraton and the years that followed is in the British Library, but it has helpfully been transliterated into roman script with a canto-by-canto English synopsis by Peter Carey in The British in Java 1811-1816: A Javanese Account, which also contains an absolute treasure trove of very detailed endnotes.
Arya Panular’s British counterpart as principal chronicler of the attack on the court is, once again, William Thorn. There are detailed descriptions of the military manoeuvres in the Memoir of the Conquest of Java. The 4 July edition of the Java Government Gazette covers the assault, and gives details of the last stand of the Javanese in the Royal Mosque.
Raffles’ private letters and public proclamations on the Yogyakarta campaign are in files f148/23, 24 and 31 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. The treaty forced on the court is in f148/24 in both English and Javanese.
Chapter Seven – Making History
The key sources for the first part of this chapter are the journal, reports and letters of Colonel Colin Mackenzie. These are all written in a rather lovely – if somewhat ornate – hand, and are to be found in file f148/47 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. For background and biographical details on this 19th century answer to Indiana Jones, see John Bastin’s article ‘Colonel Colin Mackenzie and Javanese antiquities’ in Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde 109 and Jennifer Howes’ Illustrating India: The Early Colonial Investigations of Colin Mackenzie.
For a look at early 19th century orientalism in action, as discussed in the middle part of the chapter, see Raffles’ own The History of Java, and John Crawfurd’s History of the Indian Archipelago, and for an assessment of those approaches see Gareth Knapman’s Race, Empire and Liberalism: Interpreting John Crawfurd’s History of the Indian Archipelago, and Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied’s Raffles and Religion.
Dr Thomas Horsfield’s reports from the field are in file f148/46 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection.
Details of life in British Java in the early years of the Interregnum can be found in the Java Government Gazette. For the changes wrought by the British on the older Indo-Dutch culture of Batavia see V.T. van de Wall’s The Influence of Olivia Mariamne Raffles on European Society in Java. Lord Minto’s thoughts and instructions to Raffles on the issue of slavery are to be found in file f148/15 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. The translated Dutch slave laws and Raffles’ ponderings thereon are in f148/8, while details of his household staffing are in Emily Hahn’s Raffles of Singapore. There is more relevant detail in Wurtzburg’s Raffles of the Eastern Isles. Raffles’ extensive musings on opium – in which he gnaws on the unanswerable conundrum of how to increase demand for the drug without having a negative impact on society – are in file f148/7.
Letters and reports detailing the beginnings of the major disagreements between Raffles and Gillespie are in files f148/32, 33 and 34, while another view on the deteriorating relationship comes from the Journal of Otho Travers.
Chapter Eight – The Buffalo and the Tiger
On the unrest in Probolinggo see Sri Margana’s Java’s Last Frontier: The Struggle for Hegemony of Blambangan c.1763-1813, and William Thorn’s Memoir of the Conquest of Java. See also Claudine Lombard-Salmon’s article ‘The Han Family of East Java. Entrepreneurship and Politics’ in Archipel Volume 41 for the family history of the Chinese landlords. For background on the regiment of the soldiers who got caught up in the events see The Historical Records of the 78th Highlanders by James MacVeigh, which also gives some important insights into general conditions for the British troops serving in Java, particularly on the mortality from tropical diseases. Raffles’ own reactions to the Probolinggo affair, and John Crawfurd’s remarkably even-handed official investigations, are in file f148/25 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. For the role of jago in Java see Jean Gelman Taylor’s Indonesia: People and Histories, and for more on jago, albeit in a later period of Indonesian history, see Java in a Time of Revolution by Benedict Anderson.
The issue of the Cianjur land sales is dealt with in all the major Raffles biographies, though disentangling the hard facts from the apologetics is a tough task. Papers detailing Raffles’ efforts to annex the remaining territory of the Sultan of Banten are also in file f148/25 (an interesting point is that the accounts of Raffles’ meetings with the Banten Sultan are by his official Malay translator, a M. Juoid, suggesting that his own Malay may not have been strong enough to handle formal negotiations).
Raffles’ attempts to overhaul the system of obtaining revenue from Javanese peasants are dealt with in considerable detail by John Bastin in The Native Policies of Sir Stamford Raffles in Java and Sumatra, and in an article entitled ‘The working of the early land rent system in West Java’ in Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde 116. Colin Mackenzie’s preparatory notes from the field are in file f148/47. More reports from Mackenzie and John Crawfurd are in f148/44, and Crawfurd’s public criticisms of the attempts are in his History of the Indian Archipelago.
On the scandal caused by William Robison in Palembang, see the Journal of Otho Travers. Raffles’ private responses to the formal accusations levelled in Calcutta by Gillespie, Blagrave and Robison are in f148/38 of the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection, while the official letters about the impeachment attempt and Raffles’ public responses are in separate files also held in the British Library – mss.eur.w2417 and mss.eur.w2423. The blow-by-blow account of the tiger and buffalo fight during Raffles’ visit to Yogyakarta is in the Java Government Gazette.
On the sad saga of William Robison’s later tussles with authority in India over what he regarded as corruption and bad governance, see the early campaigning journal The Oriental Herald and Colonial Review, Volumes 1 and 2.
Chapter Nine – Mutiny and Mangos
On matters beyond Java during the Interregnum, see various editions of the Java Government Gazette. For letters and reports about British dealings in Borneo over piracy see file f148/26 in the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection.
The first readily accessible account of Raffles’ relationship with Alexander Hare over the ‘Banjarmasin Enormity’ appeared in Syed Hussein Alatas’ Thomas Stamford Raffles: Schemer or Reformer? The affair is also covered in a Dutch-language paper, ‘De Bandjermasinsche Afschuwelijkheid’, published in 1860 in Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch Indie 3, which contains some original correspondence pertaining to the episode. This suggests that what is already known about the affair may be but the tip of the iceberg. A thorough scholarly investigation would be a very worthwhile undertaking.
Private and public correspondence from Raffles and others during the late stages of the British Interregnum can be found in f148/36, 37 and 38 in the Raffles-Minto Manuscript Collection. Details of Rollo Gillespie’s last great battle against the Ghurkhas are found in William Thorn’s A Memoir of Major-General R.R. Gillespie, and Eric Wakeham’s The Bravest Soldier. The death of Sultan Hamengkubuwono III is described in Arya Panular’s Babad, and Caroline Currie’s account of Olivia Raffles’ funeral can be found in John Bastin’s The Wives of Sir Stamford Raffles.
Contemporary accounts of the portents and aftermath of the Tambora eruption can be found in Sophia Raffles’ Memoir of the Life and Public Services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and in Raffles’ own The History of Java. A thorough modern overview of the cataclysmic event is found in an article by Bernice de Jong Boers, ‘Mount Tambora in 1815: a volcanic eruption in Indonesia and its aftermath’ in Volume 60 of the journal Indonesia.
The abortive sepoy uprising in 1815 is examined by Peter Carey in the article ‘The Sepoy conspiracy of 1815 in Java’ in Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde 133. Carey pays particular attention to the role of the Surakarta court in the affair, but there is much more detail – including an account of the mango party, and the transcripts of the subsequent trials – in the official papers dealing with the aftermath of the episode. These are found in the Bengal Secret and Political Consultations Volumes 278-283 for 1816. Raffles’ apparent provisions for a possible future reinvasion of a Dutch-ruled Java are revealed in the reports of Captain Baker, which are also in Volume 283 of the 1816 Bengal Secret and Political Consultations.
Chapter Ten – The Righteous Prince, and Epilogue – The Queen of the Southern Ocean.
On developments in post-Interregnum Java see major histories, including M.C. Ricklef’s A History of Modern Indonesia. On issues specific to land reforms see John Bastin’s The Native Policies of Sir Stamford Raffles in Java and Sumatra, and J.S. Furnivall’s Netherlands India: A Study of Plural Economy. For a discussion of the etymology of Yogyakarta’s famed Malioboro Street, see Peter Carey’s article ‘Jalan Maliabara: The Etymology and Historical Origins of a much Misunderstood Yogyakarta Street Name’ in Archipel Volume 27
For the Raffles’ life after his departure from Java, see the various past biographies, in particular those of Wurtzburg and Hahn, while for a very sharp assessment of the construction of the popular discourse on ‘Raffles as hero’ see Nadia Wright’s essay, Sir Stamford Raffles – a Manufactured Hero?
For the rest you’ll need to make a visit to Central Java in person, which I heartily recommend. Motorbike rental is available from any number of hole-in-the-wall travel agencies in the Sosrowijayaan area of Yogyakarta, just across the road from the train station…
Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, Hikayat Abdullah (trans.), Kuala Lumpur 1955
Alatas, Syed Hussein, Thomas Stamford Raffles: Schemer or Reformer? Sydney 1971
Alatas, Syed Hussein, The Myth of the Lazy Native, New York 1977
Aljunied, Syed Muhd Khairudin, Raffles and Religion, Petaling Jaya 2004
Allen, Charles, Tales from the South China Sea, London 1983
Barley, Nigel, In the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles, Singapore 2009
Bastin, John, ‘Palembang in 1811 and 1812’, in: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 110, Leiden 1954
Bastin, John, ‘Colonel Colin Mackenzie and Javanese antiquities’, in: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 109, Leiden 1953
Bastin, John (ed), The Journal of Thomas Otho Travers 1813-1820, Singapore 1957
Bastin, John, The Native Policies of Sir Stamford Raffles in Java and Sumatra, Oxford 1957
Bastin, John, ‘The working of the early land rent system in West Java’, in: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 116, Leiden 1960
Bastin, John, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Liverpool 1969
Bastin, John, The Wives of Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore 2002
Boers, Bernice de Jong, ‘Mount Tambora in 1815: a volcanic eruption in Indonesia and its aftermath’, in: Indonesia 60, New York 1995
Boulger, Demetrius Charles, Life of Sir Stamford Raffles, London 1897
Brown, Colin, A Short History of Indonesia, Crows Nest 2003
Carey, Peter, ‘The Sepoy conspiracy of 1815 in Java’, in: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 133, Leiden 1977
Carey, Peter. ‘Jalan Maliabara: The Etymology and Historical Origins of a much Misunderstood Yogyakarta Street Name’, in: Archipel Volume 27, Paris 1984
Carey, Peter (ed), The British in Java 1811-1816: A Javanese Account, Oxford 1992
Collis, Maurice, Raffles, London 1968
Coupland, R., Raffles of Singapore, London 1946
Crawfurd, John, History of the Indian Archipelago Volumes I-III, Edinburgh 1820
Furnivall, J.S., Netherlands India: A Study of Plural Economy, Cambridge 1967
Geertz, Clifford, The Religion of Java, Chicago 1960
Gomperts, Amrit, and Carey, Peter, ‘Campanalogical Conundrums: a History of Three Javanese Bells’, in: Archipel Volume 48, Paris 1994
Hahn, Emily, Raffles of Singapore, New York 1946
Horsfield, Thomas, ‘An Essay on the Oopas, or Poison-Tree of Java’, in: The Asiatic Journal Volume 1, London 1816
Howes, Jennifer, Illustrating India: The Early Colonial Investigations of Colin Mackenzie, Delhi 2010
Keay, John, Indonesia: From Sabang to Merauke, London 1995
Knapman, Gareth, Race, Empire and Liberalism: Interpreting John Crawfurd’s History of the Indian Archipelago, Melbourne 2008
Koentjaraningrat, Javanese Culture, Singapore 1985
Lombard-Salmon Claudine. ‘The Han Family of East Java. Entrepreneurship and Politics (18th-19th Centuries)’, in: Archipel Volume 41, Paris 1991
Margana, Sri, Java’s Last Frontier: The Struggle for Hegemony of Blambangan c.1763-1813, Leiden 2007
MacVeigh, James, The Historical Records of the 78th Highlanders, Dumfries 1887
Milton, Giles, Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, 1999 London
Morton, Rev. James, The Poetical Remains of the Late Dr John Leyden, London 1819
Raffles, Sophia, Memoir of the Life and Public Services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, London 1830
Raffles, Thomas Stamford, The History of Java Volumes I and II, London 1817
Ricklefs, M.C., Jogjakarta under Sultan Mangkubumi 1749-1792, London 1974
Ricklefs, M.C., A History of Modern Indonesia, London 2001
Ricklefs, M.C., Polarising Javanese Society, Singapore 2007
Stockdale, John Joseph (ed), Sketches Civil and Military of the Island of Java, London 1811
Tayler, Jean Gelman, Indonesia: People and Histories, New Haven 2003
Thorn, William, Memoir of the Conquest of Java, London 1815
Thorn, William, A Memoir of Major-General R.R. Gillespie, London 1816
Wakeham, Eric, The Bravest Soldier: Sir Rollo Gillespie, London 1937
Wall, V.T. van de, The Influence of Olivia Mariamne Raffles on European Society in Java, Batavia 1924
Wright, Nadia, Sir Stamford Raffles – a Manufactured Hero?, Melbourne 2008
Wurtzburg, C.E., Raffles of the Eastern Isles, London, 1954
The Oriental Herald and Colonial Review Volumes 1 and 2, London 1824
Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land en Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch Indie 3, Leiden 1860