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The Royalist was the ship that brought James Brooke to the shores of Borneo in 1839. She played an instrumental role from Brooke’s first visit to Sarawak in 1839 until he became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. She was probably built in 1834 and was purchased by Brooke in 1836 from Rev. T.L Lane with with part of the £30,000 he had inherited from his father. He intended to sail her to the Far East in the course of going round the globe.
She was armed with six six-pounders (guns that can discharge shots that weigh six pounds), a number of swivel guns (a small type of cannon) and every kind of small arms. She was 142 tons burden and carried four boats. She was fast and graceful, and at the same time possessed the same privileges as a battleship. She could carry provisions for four months.
Brooke was very happy with her because as a vessel of the Royal Yacht Club it was permitted to fly the White Ensign (a special flag flown on British Royal Navy ships) and therefore accorded the same rights as ships of the Royal Navy.
In 1843, the Royalist headed the armada in attacking Brunei.
In the end, the Royalist appeared in the records in Brunei in September 1843, and is said to have been sold early in 1844 by Brooke himself. It appears that the ship retained her name and ended up trading, after some time in Auckland, New Zealand, before being wrecked at Kawhia in 1854, when she was carrying a cargo of timber and wheat.
Other ships bought by James Brooke at different times to be used in his multiple attacks on pirates were the HMS Dido from Henry Keppel, the HMS Samarang, the HMS Nemesis, the HMS Rainbow, the Jolly Bachelor, Dingy, the HMS Sir James Brooke, the HMS Sarawak Cross, and Maimuna.