Handbook of British North Borneo

Material Information

Handbook of British North Borneo compiled from reports of the Governor and staff of North Borneo, with an appendix showing the progress and development of the State to the end of ...
British North Borneo Chartered Company
Place of Publication:
William Clowes & Sons, Ltd.
William Clowes & Sons, Ltd.
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
vol. : ill. (some colour) ; 22 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Sabah (Malaysia)
British North Borneo Chartered Company ( LCNAF )
Serikat Borneo Utara Inggris
Syarikat Berpiagam Borneo Utara British
serial ( sobekcm )
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Malaysia -- Sabah
Asia -- British North Borneo
Asia -- North Borneo
Asia -- Borneo Utara British
Asia -- Borneo Utara
اسيا -- بورنيو اوتارا
5.25 x 117


General Note:
The 1886 Handbook was published at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1886.
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : British North Borneo Chartered Company : URI

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Holding Location:
Archives and Special Collections
Rights Management:
This item is licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial License. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Resource Identifier:
3542392 ( OCLC )
MS 283792 ( SOAS manuscript number )
HE031 /524711 ( SOAS classmark )


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showing the situation of



M.i dagascai •









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printers and publishers to the Royal Commission.








I.—Modern History.—American Trading Company—Provisional Asso-
ciation—British North Borneo Company—Objections of Foreign
Powers—Opposition of Sarawak ....... 16

II.— Geography.—Extent and Boundaries—Harbours and Roadsteads—

Mountains and Rivers . . . . . . . .21

III. —Population.—Bajaus —Baligninis— Illanuns— Sooloos— Doompas—

Booloodoopies—Sabahans and Eraans—Tunbunwhas—Dusuns or
Sundyaks—Native Customs ...... 32

IV. —Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Monsoons and Winds—Rainfall

—Temperature—Peculiar Natural Phenomena—General Effects on
Health—Prevalent Climatic Diseases—Diseases not due to Climate
—Epidemics—Nationalities and Diseases—Sanitary Precautions—

Sanitaria ........... 41

V. —Trade and Products.—Sea Produce : Beche de mer—Keema—Agar-

Agar—Mother of Pearl Shells—Pearls—Seed Pearls—Tortoiseshell—
Tui tie Eggs—Sharks Fins—Sponges—Oysters—Fishing by Keelongs,
etc.—Forest Produce: Timber—Rattans—Birds’ Nests—Guano—
Gutta Percha—India Rubber—Beeswax—Gum Dammer—Camphor
— Vegetable Tallow—Swamp Produce: Mangroves—Nipa and
Nebong Palms .......... 59

VI.—Minerals. — Gold — Precious Stones—Coal—Quicksilver—Copper—


VII. —Agriculture.— Tobacco— Sugar— Pepper— Gambier— Hemp—

Cocoa—Cocoanuts—Betel Nuts—Coffee—Kapok—India Rubber—

Sago—Tapioca—Indigo—Fruits—Native Agriculture . 86

VIII. — Form of Government, etc.—Officials—Laws—Disposition of Natives

—Revenue Sources—Sport, Natural History, etc.: Elephants—
Rhinoceroses — Buffaloes — Deer — Pigs— Orangutans — Bears—
Crocodiles—Snakes—European Life . . . . . • . 102

Charter of the British North Borneo Company . . . .113

Land Regulations of British North Borneo...............129

Notices of Exhibits....................................141

Appendix ............ 153

B 2


Of the large progeny of British Colonies distributed all over
the globe and more or less closely connected with the parent
State, North Borneo is one of the latest additions to the
number, forming another link in the chain that girdles the

From the earliest years of European navigation in the Eastern
seas attention has been drawn to the importance of Borneo as
a promising field for colonization, and in 1877, by dint of
untiring exertion and the expenditure of both time and money,
some influential British subjects obtained from the Sultans of
Brunei and Sulu, the Rulers of the northern portion of this
large island, important concessions of territory, which became
vested in a Provisional Association to be merged later in the
“ British North Borneo Company.” The energy and patriotic
objects of the original lessees and the Association having obtained
the approval of Her Majesty’s Government, a Royal Charter was
issued on the 1st November, 1881. This Charter, besides con-
veying an official recognition of the cession, confers extensive
corporate powers upon the Company.*

The area acquired is some thirty-one thousand square miles
in extent, and forms a kind of irregular triangle, more than two-
thirds of which are bounded by the sea. The coast extends
over 600 miles, and all islands within three leagues are included
in the cession. This territory occupies an important position
both strategic and commercial in the Eastern Archipelago, and
is further gifted with many fine harbours and navigable rivers.

The object of the Company is the development of the vast
natural resources of the country, by the introduction of capital
and labour, and all the benefits of a civilised Government. The
advantages accruing from these were so clearly shown in the

* See text of Charter, page 113.



case of the neighbouring Colonies of Hong Kong and the Straits
Settlements, as to leave no doubt that, if carried out under
proper conditions, the occupation of North Borneo under British
rule could not fail to be attended with similar beneficial results.
In addition, therefore, to the ripe experience of many members
of the Directorate, the Company secured the able services of
Mr. W. PI. Treacher, formerly Acting Governor of Labuan, and
Consul-General for Borneo, to whom they confided the Governor-
ship of their newly-acquired domain.

The concession of a territory larger than Ceylon and nearly
as large as Great Britain, with all territorial and sovereign
rights, formally recognised and sanctioned by the Crown under
a Royal Charter, gave rise to much comment both at home and
abroad. The Spanish and Netherland Governments more
especially were not slow to put forward claims of pre-emption or
Suzerainty, and they opposed the grant of a Charter as an
encroachment and violation of treaties with the native rulers.
The Suzerainty claimed over the whole of the Eastern Archi-
pelago from the Philippines to New Guinea—though none of the
hundred isles, including Borneo, had ever been in useful
occupation by either power, with the exception of Luzon, with
its capital Manilla, by the Spaniards, and Java by the Dutch,
during the four centuries which had elasped since the first
appearance of the Spaniards and Dutch in the Eastern seas—was
repudiated. A barren monopoly of possession was contested by
the British Government with Spain and Holland respectively,
and was finally disallowed after two years of diplomatic corre-
spondence, filling two Blue Books.

So novel an incident in modern times as the grant of a Royal
Charter to a private company for the founding of a colony in
the Eastern seas, gave an opportunity also to the Opposition in
Parliament to raise a debate in both Houses. The result,
however, in spite of all hostile comment, was to leave the new
Company and its Charter invested with the sanction of Parliament
by a large majority in the House of Commons, and without a
division in the Plouse of Lords. The grant of a Charter was
vigorously defended by the Prime Minister himself in the former,
and by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the latter.

Since that date it is not unworthy of note that one of the
greatest and far-seeing of the statesmen of the present day—the



German Chancellor Bismarck—when carrying out his newly
developed designs for the extension of colonial interests under
the Empire, adopted exactly the same course as our Govern-
ment, by granting a Charter to Companies willing to engage
in such enterprises—in the Cameroons, in Eastern Africa, and
in New Guinea. But, bolder than our own Government, or
less careful perhaps to avoid responsibility, the German Chan-
cellor proclaimed a Protectorate over each territory, conferring
an additional prestige with the natives as well as security against
aggression from without, a course which has not yet been adopted
by the British Government, but may probably be followed in
regard to North Borneo at no distant date, on the precedent of
New Guinea and the Lower Niger.

It was easy to demonstrate that the objects of the Company
were unexceptionable, and deserving of encouragement, as calcu-
lated to prove of national benefit. These objects were, more-
over, in strict accordance with the Treaty entered into by the
British Government with the Sultan of Borneo in 1847, wherein
it is recited that the desire of the Queen was “ to encourage
commerce between Her Majesty’s subjects and the subjects of
the independent rulers of the Eastern seas, and to put an end to
piracies which have hitherto obstructed that commerce.”

A small additional effort in this direction was made by
Her Majesty’s Government when this Treaty was negotiated,
by the cession of Labuan, an island on the western coast of
Borneo, supposed to be important as a naval station, with its
harbour and reputed coal mines. It was accordingly made a
British Crown Colony, with a Governor and other officers for
effective administration. And although it has not realized the
expectations formed, and has only been a tax on the Imperial
Revenue until quite lately, the desire to possess such a station in
this direction was no doubt fully justified.

The first bold conception of a plan (somewhat akin to that
carried out by the late Sir James Brooke forty years before in
Sarawak) to obtain by peaceable and legal means the possession of
a territory of some 31,000 square miles, and develop its resources
under equitable rule, was based on a sound estimate of the value
and importance in the national interests of such an acquisition by
British subjects. The earliest Dutch and British navigators all
saw a splendid property in Borneo ; and so far back as the reign of



Queen Elizabeth companies of mercantile adventurers were
largely and successfully engaged in preventing the total monopoly
of the rich trade of the Eastern Archipelago by Portugal, Spain,
and Holland. These powers had in succession claimed the
territory in all the islands of the Archipelago and the Straits,
including Malacca. And in 1602 the States-General of the
Netherlands, in pursuance of a monopolising policy, consolidated
their various companies and created the “ Netherlands and East
India Company,” the first great joint-stock company whose
shares were sold from hand to hand, which proved to be the
turning-point in the commerce of Europe. It was the Spices
of the Moluccas, especially the nutmegs and mace, the taste for
which had rapidly spread in the middle ages throughout Europe,
that wrought this revolution. A spice trade, more than any
other, was the great prize for which the Dutch did battle, and
in the end drove the Portuguese quite out of the field.

The English were slow, as is their habit, to follow the example
of their commercial rivals. Nor did they take any serious action
in this direction until moved by a purely accidental circumstance,
the wreck of a Portuguese Indiaman on our coast, called the
“Mother of God',' which attracted public attention. This vessel
was a ship of 1,600 tons, and on being towed into Dartmouth was
found to contain a cargo of Eastern produce worth ^150,000.
It was only then that it seems to have been seriously contem-
plated to compete with the Dutch, and begin an Eastern trade
of our own, instead of trusting for the supply of Eastern produce
to an annual shipment from Venice. The merchants of London,
Bristol, Plymouth, and other trading ports then combined to
contest with the Dutch the monopoly they enjoyed. The whole
commerce of the East at this date was fast drifting into their
hands as it slipped from the nerveless grasp of Portugal under
the baneful rule of Spain. Together these two countries,
under one rule, still retained indeed all the most advantageous
positions in the Eastern seas, and it was no light matter there-
fore to dispute with them and the Dutch so profitable a trade.
Nothing daunted, however, a Company was formed, and on the
last day of the 16th century Queen Elizabeth granted a charter
to George, Earl of Cumberland, and 215 knights, aidermen, and
merchants, that, “ at their own cost and charges,” they might set
forth on one or more voyages to the East Indies, and be one



body politic and corporate, by the name of the “ Governor and
Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies.”
We cannot follow here the early operations of this great Company,
destined to found an Eastern Empire, which placed an Imperial
diadem on the brow of another Queen, our present gracious
Sovereign. The voyage of Captain Lancaster and the establish-
ment of British factories at Acheen and Bantam were the first
fruits. The despatch of five ships laden with merchandise under
his command in 1601 was a very risky venture, since they
embarked in it £70,000, a large proportion of their whole
capital, and sent it forth to encounter many perils both by sea
and land. Enemies’ ships, armed to prevent all such intruders,
swarmed on all the coasts and over the whole route. It was
crowned with success, however, commensurate with the boldness
of the venture, and Lancaster and his ships returned in safety with
freights of great value, after visiting Sumatra and Java, and es-
tablishing factories there. One can only feel regret that Elizabeth,
who gave the Charter to the East India Company, did not live to
see even this the earliest result of individual effort and courage
which she had encouraged by her patronage. For it has been
truly remarked that the mercantile enterprise of those remote
times, which effected such great results, was for the most part
the work of individuals, either acting singly, or associated in
mercantile companies, at their “ own cost and charges,” as Oueen
Elizabeth, with characteristic caution, was careful to stipulate.
In this, however, she was not singular, for neither the British
Crown nor the other Governments of Europe had much to say
in the matter, but left their subjects to fight their way as they
best could, in the midst of adverse elements alike in the Spanish
Main and the Eastern seas,—with their own resources and at
their own cost and peril.

Governments in those days were content to reap all the bene-
fits that might accrue and a large share of the profits, without
engag'ing either themselves or the nations they governed in any
direct responsibility in the event of failure or loss. The annual
profits of the King of Portugal, as an example, from the spice
trade alone, were estimated in 1529 at a sum of 200,000 ducats,
an enormous sum at that date. And yet it was due mainly to
the individual influence of Prince Henry of Portugal, that Vasco
da Gama was enabled to make his great voyage round the Cape



which opened India to the Western Powers. And it has been
cited as a curious fact in the world’s history that it was the search
for spice-growing countries which led to the first circumnavi-
gation of the globe, as it led also to the discovery of another
passage into the Eastern seas from the Western hemisphere,
by the Magellan Straits and the Philippines, in a voyage under
the ill-fated Magellan in the year 1521.

Borneo, which forms the centre and largest of the whole
group of islands stretching from the Philippines to Australia,
“ fragments of a continent,” as Wallace described them in his
work on the Malay Archipelago, abounds in sources of wealth
to this day, only requiring development by cultivation of the
soil and capital under an equitable and civilised govern-
ment. Both are essential requirements, and these it is the
mission of the British North Borneo Company to supply. North
Borneo, moreover, has this special and exceptional advantage,
that while the native population is small and easily governed,
there is a command of Asiatic labour, fitted to the climate, in the
overflowing population of China within five days’ steam. The
Chinese are a race which has already fertilised, by industry and
persevering labour, nearly all the islands and colonies east of the
Cape, and still affords an inexhaustible reserve of labour where-
ever in these seas the workers can count upon fair wages and
security for the fruit of their labour. This is an inestimable
advantage for Borneo, where, under a tropical sun, it is impossible
for Europeans to undertake the labours of the field, and who are
not therefore, as are the planters in the West Indies, reduced to
great straits from the difficulty of securing continuous labour at
reasonable wages. Nor is it a less important and exceptional
advantage for North Borneo that it is out of the region of typhoons
and the earthquakes and volcanoes which periodically work such
havoc and ruin in the Spanish settlements of the Philippines, and
the Dutch possessions in Java and Sumatra further south.

The commercial and strategic value of North Borneo very
early attracted the attention of the East India Company. Many
of the islands from Manilla to Java, forming the Borneo group,
with their tropic fertility and valuable products, possessed an
amount of trade and prosperity which could not fail to attract
attention, in the 16th century, before the withering hands of
Spain and Holland were stretched over them. A prosperity of



which, it is sad to reflect, there is now no trace. Our early
navigators leave no doubt on this subject. Captain Daniel
Blackman, in 1714, relating his voyage to Borneo, alludes to a
considerable trade with China; and Mr. J. Hunt, in a Report
to Sir Stamford Raffles in 1812, says that “when the Portuguese
first visited Borneo in 1520 the whole island was in a most
flourishing state. The numbers of Chinese that settled on her
shores were immense; the products of their industry and an
extensive commerce with China in junks gave her land and
cities a far different aspect from her appearance at this day, and
their princes and courts exhibited a splendour and displayed a
magnificence which has long since vanished.”

This is further borne out by Piggafetta, who spoke of the
town of Brunei having 25,OCX) houses, and being rich and popu-
lous. In 1809 there were not 3,000 houses left, nor 6,000
Chinese in the place, and not a junk had for years been seen in
Bornean waters.

Mr. Hunt attributes this decay of commerce and prosperity
to the direct action and mistaken policy of the Portuguese first,
and subsequently of the Dutch. Mistress of the Eastern seas, as
the latter became, we are told they exacted “ by treaties and
other ways the Malay produce at their own rates, and were
consequently enabled to undersell the junks in China. But
these Powers went further ; by settling at ports in Borneo, or by
their Guarda de Costa, they compelled the ports of Borneo to
send their produce calculated for the China markets to Malacca
and Batavia, which arbitrary and short-sighted proceeding at
length completely cut up the direct trade by means of the China
junks. The Rajahs finding their revenues reduced, turned their
attention from trade and commerce to piratical enterprise.
Agriculture was neglected, and lands hitherto cultivated were
allowed to run to jungle and to waste.” A result so obvious
and inevitable that, if their own exclusive profit and not the
destruction of prosperous communities was the object of the Por-
tuguese or Dutch, it indicates a degree of judicial blindness as
fatal to nations as to individuals. It was clearly suicidal, and
they only reaped a fitting reward of their own flagitious acts.
Mr. Hunt remarks too in his Report,—“that the English
were not insensible to the value and importance of the once
valuable commerce of Borneo, may be inferred from the efforts



they repeatedly made to establish themselves on its shores.
There still exist the remains of a British factory in Borneo
proper. Before the year 1706, they had made two successive
attempts to fortify themselves at Benjarmasing, and twice they
have attempted an establishment on the sickly island of Balam-
bangan (lying north of Borneo near Marudu Bay), and in 1775
the Honourable Company’s ship Bridgewater was sent to Pasir
with similar views.”

Mr. Hunt concludes his report, in 1812, hoping that Borneo as
well as Java would be retained by the British Government, in the
following words : “ In looking over the map of the world it is a

melancholy reflection that so large a portion of the habitable
globe as all Borneo is abandoned to barbarism and desolation.”
And he trusted “ that another age may not be suffered to pass
away without exhibiting something consolatory to the State, the
Philosopher and the Philanthropist.”—A hope disappointed in
the sequel, but one which yet may be realised in this generation, for
such is the desire and aim of the British North Borneo Company.

The Indian Press, since the grant of the Charter, has spoken
in the same sense. The Bombay Chronicle remarked : “ The

date of the Royal Charter for the incorporation of the North
Borneo Company we hold to be a new era in the history of the
progress of civilisation and commerce, and tending to the benefit
of the world at large, since the island, which is inexhaustible in
mineral and vegetable resources, has as yet remained a stranger
to the enterprise of the merchant and the man of science. In
the intimate connection of Great Britain with the island of
Borneo, India will find before long a fertile source of enhancing
the prosperity of her people.”

So we trust both India and Great Britain may find in this
sanguine anticipation of the Indian Press a true forecast of a near
future in the development of the Colony and the resources of the
territory of British North Borneo.

The recent aspirations of the chief Continental powers—
notably France and Germany—for Colonial expansion, and the
numerous annexations made in furtherance of this object in
Africa, in the Pacific, and the Eastern seas, are facts which give
increased importance to the acquisition of North Borneo by a
British Company, secured, as it is, by a Royal Charter and the
British flag from all aggression or encroachment on the part of



any alien or foreign power. From its central position, moreover,
it possesses advantages both political and strategical, which
no other island in the Eastern Archipelago presents, and, under
existing circumstances, its value in a national no less than
a commercial point of view cannot well be over-estimated.

Its past history bears this out, as shown above, when a
flourishing trade with China and the adjoining archipelago, and
a large and industrious population existed, before the advent
of Portuguese, Dutch, and Spaniards in these regions. The
discoveries of Bernardo Dias and the voyage of Vasco da
Gama round the Cape opened the way to India and China by
sea, with fatal effects to native industry. The ruthless policy of
all the first settlers in the Eastern Archipelago, among islands
so rich and populated, destroyed all security for life or property
to the natives. With this loss of security their commercial and
agricultural prosperity rapidly disappeared, and Borneo was
reduced, in common with many other most productive and
flourishing islands, to a wilderness, and the inhabitants converted
into pirates and head-hunters, driven from the more peaceable
and productive pursuits of agriculture and commerce.

Much of the fine territory of Borneo, rich in all natural
products, with ranges of mountains to vary the tropic climate,
and numerous rivers to afford cheap and easy means of transport
from the interior, has thus remained for three centuries in a state
of abandonment and jungle, and with a very scanty population.
It came into the possession of the original grantees in 1877 in this
state, and was transferred to the present Company only in 1882.
What progress has been made in this short period, in efforts to in-
troduce civil government in harmony with British laws, and to
develop all the latent resources of the country, can only be im-
perfectly estimated by the products now shown in this Exhibition.

Time was wanting to enable the resident officials to make
a complete or exhaustive exhibit of the natural products
spread over so large an area, much of which has not yet been
fully explored or settled. Nevertheless, great exertions have
been made to bring together, on a very short notice, as many of
these products as may chiefly be counted upon in the near
future, to furnish the staples of a considerable trade, and offer
sufficient inducements to merchants and planters to contribute
in promoting so good a work. Already two companies have been



actively engaged in the cultivation of tobacco ; while the returns
of trade* .in the brief period of five years suffice to show a rapid
and considerable progress.

If these may be looked upon as small beginnings, compared
with the extent and value of British trade in the China Seas
alone, it must be remembered how small and unpromising, as well
as insignificant, were the two settlements of Hong Kong and
Singapore in their first years, though now forming the great
central depots of a trade which takes the whole world in its
circuit. Not forty years ago, Hong Kong—as the writer re-
members it—was a barren island, a bare rock, with only a few
fishermen for its inhabitants. At the present day there is a
large city with a population of more than 120,000 Chinese
domiciled in the island, while ships crowd its capacious harbour
under every flag which flies in the two hemispheres. A similar
history has marked the development of Singapore and the
Straits Settlements. These have only risen to their present
state of wealth and prosperity within the last century, and
Singapore still more recently. In 1880 the value of the united
exports and imports of Singapore amounted to £25,740,174, due
mainly to three great factors—geographical situation, an equit-
able Government, and a plentiful supply of cheap labour in the
Chinese colonists. With similar, if not equal advantages, there
is reasonable ground to hope that a like future may be in store
for the Company’s territory. Nor does such a result concern
the Colony and the Company alone. Shut out, as English
goods are, from all the continental States by protective duties,
Europe is daily becoming of less value to us as an outlet for our
manufactures. Not only are our goods excluded by hostile
tariffs, but we are further debarred from the sale of our goods in
European markets by the growing progress of the industries of
those countries, protected as they are by bounties, the longer
hours of labour, and the lower wages prevailing there. Hence, in
view of the present economic condition, and the future prospects
of our country, the chief hope of an improved state of trade lies
in the opening and development of new markets in less civilised
countries and in semi-barbarous regions. The markets of the
East are still open where Russian tariffs do not exist, and no
prohibitive or hostile duties are likely to be permitted under

* See tables in Appendix.


native rule. We should not be slow therefore to profit by this
condition, seeing that England can only prosper, or continue to
live industrially, by a vigorous policy steadily persevered in, for
the extension and protection of the markets yet open in the
East to her industries, or only awaiting development and English
enterprise to make them thriving marts to the mutual advantage
of natives and British alike.

It is in furtherance of such a policy and the advancement of
these national objects of highest importance that this infant
Colony is now, for the first time, brought in line with the other
colonies of Great Britain, by the appearance in the Colonial and
Indian Exhibition of some of its chief products. And however
modest the contribution, it is hoped the chief exhibits will be
found to give promise at no distant date of considerable,
mercantile value, and serve to draw public attention to their
prospective importance and the facilities for a rapid develop-
ment of trade.


Modern History.

Chapter I.—Modern History.

The modern history of North Borneo may be said to
commence with the signing of the Treaty between Great
Britain and the Government of Brunei on the 27th of
May, 1847, by which the cession to the British Govern-
ment of the island of Labuan, made in 1845, was con-
firmed and that island was thereupon created a British
Colony, and a Consul-General was appointed to Brunei.

It was hoped that the opening of a free port at Labuan
under the English flag would ultimately develop the rich
resources of Northern Borneo, and that the example of good
government might spread its influence to the mainland.

Such, however, did not prove to be the case, and the
Brunei Government, freed by the prestige of the British
flag from the necessity of guarding against the incursions of
the Sulu and Illanun pirates, sank lower and lower in
administrative weakness and corruption. Its power soon
became practically limited to the districts in the immediate
vicinity of the capital, though nominally the Sultan’s
authority extended as far as the western shores of Marudu
Bay,—whence to the Sibuku river the Suzerainty of the
Sulu Sultan was recognised in an equally nominal

The United States was the only other Power which fol-
lowed the example of England and entered into a treaty
with the Sultan of Brunei, and appointed a Consul. In
1865 this Consul procured for himself from the Sultan a
cession of territory, including most of the Provinces now
embraced in the territory of British North Borneo, with
rights of government. These rights and cessions he
transferred to the American Trading Company of Borneo,
which proceeded to form a settlement on the Kimanis river,
some 60 miles from Labuan. The Company’s capital

Modern History.


proving quite inadequate for the purpose, the settlement
was soon abandoned, and no further action was taken until
1875, when, it having been ascertained that the American
cessions were still recognised as valid by the Native Govern-
ment, Mr. Alfred Dent became specially interested in these
cessions, and formed a private Association, in which, on
the 29th of December, 1877, the Brunei Court vested in
perpetuity the government of that portion of Northern
Borneo which extends from the River Kimanis on the
west to Sibuku on the east,—with the exception of a few
small rivers, the private property of independent chiefs,—
the Association undertaking to pay an annual tribute
of $15,000, subsequently reduced to $7500 by mutual

As stated above, the Sultan of Sulu made claim to
rights of sovereignty over much of the country which had
been ceded by Brunei, and on the 22nd January, 1878, he
transferred all his rights to the Association for an annual
payment of $5000, and in the same year the Association,
flying the flag of the house of Alfred Dent and Company,
established stations at Sandakan, Tampassuk, and Papar ;
W. B. Pryer, W. Pretyman, and H. L. Leicester being
the pioneer officers of the newly-established Govern-

After visiting North Borneo in person, Mr. Alfred Dent
returned to England, and considerable interest was soon
evinced in the novel venture, notably by Sir Rutherford
Alcock, K.C.B., Admiral the Hon. Sir Henry Keppel, G.C.B.
(who years previously had materially assisted in consolida-
ting the power of the Brooke dynasty in Sarawak), Admiral
R. C. Mayne, C.B., the Hon. W. H. Read, M.L.C., of the
Straits Settlements, and Mr. R. B. Martin, M.P. Early in
1881 the British North Borneo Provisional Association,
Limited, was formed, taking over the cession with all rights
and properties. And after much correspondence with the
English Government, and considerable opposition from
Spain and Holland, a Royal Charter incorporating the
British North Borneo Company was obtained, which re-
ceived the assent of Pier Majesty Queen Victoria, under
the Great Seal, on the 1st of November, 1881.

The Charter, a copy of which is appended, authorised the



Modern History.

Company, inter alia, to acquire from the then holders the
rights ceded by the Sultans of Brunei and Sulu, binding
them to fulfil the promises of payment and other promises
contained in the original grants. It directs that the Company
shall always remain British in character and domicile, and
that no transfer of its powers or interests can be made with-
out the consent of the British Government. The English
Secretary of State, “ if he is willing,” is to undertake the
decision of any differences which may arise between the
Company and either Sultan, and the dealings of the
Company with foreign States is subject to the control of
the British Government. The Company is to use its best
endeavours to “discourage and, as far as may be practic-
able, abolish by degrees any system of domestic servitude
existing” in the country, and no foreigners are to be
allowed to own slaves of any kind in the Territory. The
religions of the inhabitants are to be respected, and careful
regard is to be had to the customs and laws of the various
tribes, especially as regards questions relating to landed
property, marriage, divorce, and other rights of property
and personal rights, and the Secretary of State can, if he
sees fit, make suggestions as to the general treatment of
the inhabitants, which suggestions the Company are bound
to adopt. Her Majesty reserves the right, “ in case at any
time we think fit,” to provide for the exercise of her extra
territorial jurisdiction under the Treaty with Brunei, in
which case the Company whose officers would be appointed
to discharge the judicial and other functions in Her
Majesty’s name would bear all expenses of the exercise
of such jurisdiction.

Up to the present, however, Her Majesty has waived
her extra-territorial jurisdiction over British subjects and
in mixed cases in North Borneo.

The appointment of the Company’s Governor in Borneo
is subject to the Secretary of State’s approval, and the
distinctive flag, “ indicating the British character of the
Company,” is to be such as may from time to time be
approved by the Secretary of State and the Admiralty.

The flags so approved are the Union Jack “defaced”
with a lion passant in the centre, and the British blue and
red ensigns with the lion in the fly. The Governor uses

Modern History.


when afloat, a distinctive personal yellow flag with the
lion in the centre. Section 15 contains seventeen clauses
defining the general powers of the Company, such as the
right to acquire further cessions of territory ; to settle and
promote immigration into the country; to make grants of
land and exclusive or other concessions of mining, forestal
and other rights therein ; to farm out the right to sell spirits,
tobacco, opium, salt, or other commodities; to deal in
merchandise ; to establish agencies in British colonies and
possessions; to sue and be sued in British or foreign courts
by the Company’s name of incorporation ; and to take and
hold messuages and heraditaments in England and British
possessions generally. Section 17 provides that there shall
be no general monopoly of trade, and that, subject to
Customs duties for revenue purposes, trade with the
Company’s territories shall be free.

The position and status of the Company has recently
been defined by the Secretary of State for the Colonies,
to the effect that “the British North Borneo Company are
in the position of the administrators of a foreign State,” so
that, to take for instance a question of extradition, the
Company would ask for the extradition of a fugitive
criminal, not to themselves as a company, but to the
foreign State whose territories they administer.

Since the granting of the Charter, the Company have
acquired the Putatan River (ist May, 1884), for the annual
payment of $1000; the Padas District (November, 1884),
including the important rivers of Padas and Kalias, the
Tawaran and Bangawan rivers being included in the same
deed of cession, under which an annual tribute of $3000 is
payable; the Kawang River (21st February, 1885), and
the Mantanani Islands (10th April, 1885), for which a lump
sum of $1300 and $350 respectively were paid.

It may be remarked in passing, that the Tutatan and
Padas cessions have already proved valuable acquisitions,
the latter, under the name of Province Dent, having been
the first to equalise its revenue and expenditure, including
cost of police and cession money, and this, too, in the first
year of its occupation, and notwithstanding the strenuous
opposition of a disappointed chief backed by certain in-
fluences of foreign origin.

C 2


Modern History.

The Spanish Government, at the outset, strongly objected
to the cessions made by the Sultan of Sulu on the grounds
that the territories in question had long ago been ceded to
the Spanish Crown, which claimed the suzerainty over the
whole Sulu Archipelago and the States thereto tributary.
This contention was finally waived on the signing of the
Protocol by the Representatives of Great Britain, Spain,
and Germany on the 7th March, 1885, Article III. of which
provides that : “ The Spanish Government renounces, as
far as regards the British Government, all claims of
sovereignty over the territories of the Continent of Borneo,
which belong, or which have belonged in the past to the
Sultan of Sulu, and which comprise the neighbouring
islands of Balambangan, Bangucy, and Malawalli, as well as
all those comprised within a zone of three maritime leagues
from the coast, and which form part of the territories
administered by the Company styled the “ British North
Borneo Company.”

The Netherlands Government also raised objections to the
establishment of the Company’s Government in Borneo, on
two grounds : Firstly, that the fact of the Company being
British, constituted indirectly a breach of the provisions of
the Treaty of London of 1824, to the effect that a mixed
occupation by England and the Netherlands of any islands
in the Indian Archipelago is to be avoided. Secondly, that
the Sibuku River is included in the cession from Sulu,
whereas the Dutch claim that their boundary extends to
the north of that river, as far as Batu Tinagat.

The first objection has been withdrawn, but the second
still remains under the consideration of the British and
Netherlands Governments. In the meantime, the Company,
on the 7th September, 1883, hoisted their flag on the south
bank of the Sibuku, while the Dutch have erected an
obelisk on Batu Tinagat, and keep a gunboat stationed at
the Tavzas river.

The Government of Sarawak from the first took up a
bitterly hostile position towards the newly inaugurated
State, Rajah Brooke informing his Council on the 24th
April, 1878, that he should take measures to caution
the inhabitants to defend themselves if they did not wish
to receive strange owners into their country ; and he





E frNiagcala

Scale of Nautical Miles.


Difficult for boatx.







19 16
19 15 18 15
19 17 16 14 MazLukau

15 14
15 14

13 12 10
12 12 8
12 12 12
1 12
13 13
13 13
12 11
12 11

6.......- 0 :i

.... ? A:'.|rfz^7 5

..........' " 7 S
a 5i
.9 <

Loo-boolr. caxtn

Lot. 5.43 N; Long. 118\1O E.

Scale of Nautical Miles.



personally visited Pangeran Roup, the chief of the Bajows,
a tribe the most difficult to manage in the territory. It is
hoped that time or other means will be found to neutralise
His Highness’s hostility towards a Company which has
already done so much to ameliorate the condition of the
inhabitants, and with whose dealings he has no right of

The interest of the American Government was also
excited in the cessions acquired by Mr. Dent, and Commo-
dore Schufeldt was, in 1878, ordered to Brunei to report
thereon, and to discover what American interests were
represented in that part of the world. He was able to
report that he could discover no American interests,
“ neither white nor black.”

Chapter II.—Geography.

A. Extent, Boundaries, Etc.

The territory of British North Borneo includes the whole
northern portion of the great island of Borneo, from the
Sipitong stream on the west to the Sibuku river on the
east, and is coterminous with the northern boundary of
the Sultanate of Brunei, on the west coast, and approaches
that of the Netherlands possessions on the east. It is,
roughly speaking, of pyramidal form, the apex being
towards the north, the China Sea washing its western, and
the Sulu and Celebes Seas its eastern coasts.

The Sibuku boundary is in about lat. 4° 05' N., the Sipitong
boundary in lat 5° 06' N., while the boundary extends to
the north as far as lat. 70 25' N. Gura Peak, in lat. N.
30 52', is taken to be its extreme south limit inland. The
most westerly point is that of Kalias, long. 1150 20' E.,
and the most easterly, PIog Point, 119° 16'E. Its area,
exclusive of islands, is computed at 30,403’87, and with the
islands 31,000 square miles.

The government of a few small rivers, owned by inde-
pendent chiefs on the west coast, aggregating 107 square
miles in extent, has not yet been acquired by the Company,


Geography—Harbours and Roadsteads.

viz. : the Padas Damit (or lesser Padas), Kwala Lama,
M'embakut, Kinarut, Inanam, and the Menkabong. For
the sake of comparison it may be noted that the area of
Ceylon is 24,702 square miles, that of Johore, 20,000,
Perak, 8000, and Selangore, 5000 square miles.

The coastline of the mainland measures about 1000 land

From a geographical point of view the territory is
favourably situated as regards commercial routes, being
almost midway between Hong Kong and Singapore, while
the course recommended on the Admiralty charts to vessels
trading to China and Japan in the north-east monsoon,
through the Palawan Passage, brings them within ninety
miles of the harbours of the west coast. On the other side
steamers trading between China and Australia pass within
half a day’s steaming of the magnificent harbour of
Sandakan, the present headquarters of the Company.

The following table gives the distances between Sanda-
kan and the principal commercial ports in the Far East:

Sandakan to Singapore
35 35 Hong Kong . Labuan .
35 Manila .
55 Sulu
33 55 55 Bulungan Macassar) _ , , Menado J Celebes ’
55 Port Darwin, Australia

1,000 miles.

1,200 ,,

3°o „

600 ,,

181 „

300 „

( 75° „

I 350 „

i55°o »

Mempakol, the most westerly station in the territory, is
only about 700 miles distant from Singapore.

B. Harbours and Roadsteads.

As a whole, the island of Borneo, as pointed out by
Wallace, is very little indented with bays: “ The few it
possesses being towards the north-eastern extremity, where
the coast is somewhat higher and more abrupt.” On the
other hand, owing to the gradual tapering to its apex of
the northern portion of the island, the only good navigable
rivers are to be found towards the south.

A detailed description of the coastline of the territory

Geography—Harb oars and Roadsteads.


is not required here, as those interested in such informa-
tion can find full details in ‘ The China Sea Directory,’
vol. ii.

It will suffice to enumerate the principal bays and
anchorages, commencing with the west coast. Off Nosong
Point, Pulo Tega affords an anchorage on one side or
the other in either monsoon for large vessels. Half way
between this and Gaya is the anchorage of Dinawan, with
no less depth than 6^ fathoms. Gaya Island affords pro-
tection from the north-east monsoon in two deep bays on
its southern side, and together with the island of Sapangar
and Gaya Head forms, with the mainland, the fine bay
known as Gaya and Sapangar Bays. The united length
of the two bays is about 7 miles, with a depth of water
ranging from 8 to 13 fathoms. The width is about 4 miles,
narrowing to 11 at the north end of Sapangar Bay. The
main entrance is between Gaya and Sapangar Islands, with
a width of 4500 yards across, and a depth of about 17
fathoms. It has been remarked that “ for purposes of
commerce these two bays are large enough to shelter every
vessel trading to the east during both monsoons.” Un-
fortunately, the shores all around are, as a rule, abruptly
hilly, rendering it difficult to select good town sites. The
Company has established a station on the east end of
Gaya Island, where vessels drawing 20 feet can lie along-
side the Government wharf well sheltered. The natives
from the mainland bring in supplies of fowls and ducks,
and it is a transhipping port for cattle from the opposite
coast to Sandakan and Sulu. Water is obtained from
springs and wells.

Recently Mr. S. E. Dalrymple has examined a harbour
on the mainland near Tanjong Aru and the Putatan
river, to the south-east of Gaya. This has not yet been
officially surveyed,* but Mr. Dalrymple reports three
entrances with a depth of 6 fathoms, and an average depth
in the harbour of 5 fathoms. A wharf of 225 yards will lead
into 31 fathoms. He concludes his report by saying,
“ Finally the new harbour enjoys an unlimited amount of
flat land to build on, stretching from the very water’s edge,

* Since this was written, a survey of Tanjong Aru has been made by order
of Admiral Hamilton, C.B., and confirms Mr. Dalrymple’s anticipations.


Geography—Harbours and Roadsteads.

and a closely contiguous population of some 500 Bajows
and 6000 to 7000 industrious Dusun agriculturists. It is
my opinion that, next to Sandakan, this will prove to be
the best harbour in North Borneo, as regards size, depth,
accessibility, good holding ground,” &c. He reports a good
supply of fresh water.

Proceeding north from Gaya, Ambong Cape is reached,
between which and Sundal Point are three bays—Ambong
Bay, depth of water 5 to 8 fathoms ; Tangah Bay, 8 to 9
fathoms, and Tundal Bay, 4| to 11 fathoms. In neither of
these has any settlement been formed by the Company,
there being no population to speak of; consequently
provisions cannot be depended upon, and the water supply
has not been examined, though two sources are reported
in the first. All three bays are open to west and north-
west winds. Ambong Bay affords shelter in both monsoons,
and the other two in the north-east monsoon. The
Admiralty Chart No. 1778 gives a plan of the three bays.
About 3 miles to the north of Ambong Bay is that of
Usakan, an inlet some 2 miles long, affording good
anchorage in the north-east monsoon, but exposed to the
south-west. Depth of water 6 to 10 fathoms. Usakan
Island forms with the mainland the small bay of Abai, into
which debouches the river of that name. The depth of
water is marked in the Admiralty Chart as to 2
fathoms. There is communication for boats between
Usakan and Abai Bays. In the latter a station was at one
time established by the Company, but was withdrawn as
the amount of trade attracted did not warrant the
expenditure involved. Water is obtained from wells at
Abai of fairly good quality. Cattle are occasionally
obtainable, but supplies cannot be relied on.

The Mantanani Islands, 12 miles from the mainland,
afford anchorage in either monsoon. They are uninhabited,
except during the season when the edible birds’ nests are
collected from the small caves which exist.

The little bay of Agal, with a depth of 34- to 4 fathoms,
gives a secure anchorage for a vessel in the north-east
monsoon. This is the last of the anchorages worth mention-
ing on the west coast.

Turning round Sampanmangaio, the most northerly point

Geography—Harbotirs and Roadsteads.


of the mainland of Borneo, we enter the great Bay of
Marudu. This bay runs nearly due north and south about
28 miles, and is some 17 miles broad at its entrance,
decreasing to about 9 at its southern end. Its range of
depth may be stated at from 3 to 20 fathoms. On its
western shore, 11 miles from the entrance, is the excellent
harbour of Kudat, at which a station has been formed by the
Government. A plan of the harbour is given on Admiralty
Chart No. 946. At the entrance the depth of water is
8 to 9 fathoms, and a distance of 14 miles inwards reaches
the 5 fathoms line, the 3 fathoms line being about half
a mile further to the west. A jetty has been built into
2-L fathoms of water. A small stock of coal is kept up
for the use of calling steamers. The water supply is not
good. Cattle and vegetables are, as a rule, obtainable.
Lights are exhibited on the jetty and on the flagstaff, the
latter being 123 feet above sea level. Kudat Harbour was
first reported in August, 1881, by Commander Johnstone,
H.M.S. Egeria.

On the eastern shore of the bay there is said to be a
well-sheltered deep-water harbour at Selimpadan, south of
the Binkoka river, with excellent supplies of fresh water
and a convenient site for a town, with land suitable for
agricultural purposes in the vicinity. This harbour has
not yet been surveyed.

Some twelve miles north of the entrance to Marudu Bay
are the two large islands of Balambangan and Banguey,
the former 40 square miles and the latter 167 square miles
in extent. In both are harbours.

On the east side of Balambangan, which is uninhabited,
are two inlets known as North and South Harbours, both
affording good drinking water, but the purest being found
in the southern one. Full directions for entering both
harbours, which have a depth from 3 to 9 fathoms, but not
free from dangers, will be found in the ‘ China Sea Direc-
tory,’ vol. ii.

The harbour on the south side of Banguey Island was
not reported until 1884. The following is the report of
Mr. John Robertson, the Company’s Assistant Surveyor,
under date 12th January, 1886:—“Harbour. On reference
to the chart the position of the entrances, beacons, and


Geography—Ilarbonrs and Roadsteads.

reefs will be seen. The part surveyed is 4^ miles long by
an average of three-quarters of a mile in width. There are
three entrances, of which the middle one is the principal.
Its width at the narrowest point is 575 feet. The depth
varies from 5 to 12 fathoms. The part of the harbour
immediately in front of proposed site of town has a depth
of water varying from 4 to 10 fathoms. The only dis-
advantages it has got are its comparative smallness and the
presence of a dangerous reef near to the wharf. The
entrance at the west end of the harbour has a width of
930 feet and a depth of 8 to 9 fathoms. This entrance
can never be much used, as there is a reef in the passage
which reduces the width to 400 feet. The entrance at the
easterly end of the harbour has a width of 1040 feet and a
depth of 7 to 8 fathoms. The passage from here to the
proposed site of town is good, and has an average depth
of 6 fathoms in the navigable parts. The harbour is well
sheltered from both monsoons.”

The reefs are all beaconed off.

The harbour is formed by three islands on the one side
and Banguey on the other. Vessels using the Mallawalli
Channel pass close to the harbour. An experimental
settlement has been formed near the west end, to which
the name of Mitford has been given. The water supply
is reported good. A German company has a tobacco
estate on the Limbuak river, west coast, and the interior
is sparsely inhabited by peaceable Dusuns. Fleets of Bajow
prahus are to be seen on the coasts, shifting their anchorage
as the seasons demand.

In the Mallawalli Passage are numerous islands or islets,
of which Mallawalli (15 square miles) is the largest. Off
most of them anchorage can be found affording shelter
from the prevailing winds.

Leaving Marudu Bay and steering to the south-east,
the large bays known as Paitan and Marchesa are passed,
neither of which have been surveyed. Next comes
Labuk Bay, surveyed in 1883 by Commander the Hon.
F. C. P. Vereker. He reports the bay to be 19 miles wide
and 16 miles in depth to the Labuk River in its south-
west corner. The north-west part of the bay is shallow
and unnavigable. The south-western portion is deeper,

Geography—Harbours and Roadsteads. 27

affording a passage, in one part giving only 9 feet at low
water, to the Labuk River.

Twenty miles to the south-west of Labuk Bay is the
magnificent harbour of Sandakan. At its entrance, be-
tween Balhalla and Trusan Duyong, it is miles wide,
from which place it gradually increases to its greatest
width, viz. 5 miles. Its length is 15 miles, and it lies in a
N.E. and S.W. direction.

The only part properly examined by the Admiralty is
that north of Pulo Buy and the Bay of Sapa Gaya, situated
on the east shore, but large sailing vessels proceed as far
as German Town, on the island of Timbang, 11 miles up
the bay, to load timber. Sandakan, the capital of the
territory, is built on the north shore, three-quarters of a
mile from the entrance. The only danger in approach-
ing it is the Atjeh Rock, lying off the end of the San-
dakan Pier. It has 2| fathoms low water, and is marked by
a white buoy. From the entrance to the end of the bay
the depth of water varies from 16 to 3 fathoms. Some
thirteen rivers run into the bay, and a bar has formed 6
miles from the entrance with a depth of water of 4 fathoms
at low water, spring tides. Spring tides rise 6 feet 9
inches ; neaps vary from 1 foot to 4 feet. On the same
shore as the town of Sandakan, and about 10 miles below
it, is an inlet known as North Harbour, 3000 yards across
at the entrance, and extending inland about 3 miles, with
an average depth of from 7 to 10 fathoms. The Sapa
Gaya Bay, on the shore opposite Sandakan, affords splendid
anchorage for large vessels, lowest water 3^ fathoms.
There are other good anchorages in the harbour, well
sheltered. A pier has been erected at Sandakan, at which
vessels drawing 22 feet can lie at low water. Supplies of
poultry, beef, fish, vegetables, and liquors are obtainable
in the town, and the water is plentiful and good. A
good stock of coal is kept up for the use of Her Majesty’s
vessels and calling steamers.

Admiralty plan No. 950 gives details of the harbour.

Thirty miles to the south-east of Sandakan is Dewhurst
Bay, 5 miles up the Kinabatangan. It is 3 miles long by
1 broad, with depths of from 1 to 2 fathoms. PTesh water
has not yet been discovered. The river between the

28 Geography—Harbozirs and Roadsteads.

entrance points is 6 cables broad, with depths of from 4 to

5 fathoms ; but the bar, which extends 2| miles seaward,
has a depth of only 12 feet at high water, spring tides.
Commander Vereker adds the caution, “ that vessels
drawing more than 8 feet should not attempt to cross the
bar without a boat ahead, as the tides are much influenced
by the winds, rendering the time of high water un-

A sketch of the Kinabatangan River will appear under
its proper head, but it may be here remarked that the river
has several mouths, and that the one usually made use of
by small steamers is that known as the Mumiang, about
16 miles from Sandakan.

The mouth of the Marowap River, 52 miles to the east of
Sandakan, is 7 cables wide at the entrance, with depths of
from 3 to 5 fathoms. On the bar there is a depth of 14
feet at high water, spring tides.

Between Tambisan Island and the mainland is a narrow
channel with 3 to 4 fathoms of water. The western end is
blocked by a reef, though navigable for boats. The
entrance is exposed to the N.E. monsoon.

Dent Haven, to the south of Tanjong Unsang, is nearly
2 miles wide, and affords good anchorage in the S.W. mon-
soon in 5 fathoms.

It may be noted that whereas in Sandakan springs rise

6 feet 9 inches, off Dewhurst Bay they rise feet, off
Tambisan 3 feet, and in Dent Haven 3| feet.

The coastline from Dent Haven to the Sibuku River,
including the large Darvel Bay, has not yet been properly

In Labun Bay, and off Sibat, Tolibas, and Tuncu, is
good anchorage in the N.E. monsoon.

At the head of Darvel Bay the north end of Saccar
Island forms with the mainland a fine harbour, well pro-
tected in all weather. The soil in this district is some
of the richest in Borneo, and it is probable that a settle-
ment will shortly be established here.

At Silam is a Government station and Experimental
Garden. The harbour is well sheltered, but there are
many coral banks. The depth of water varies from 2 to 20
fathoms. Vessels drawing 16 feet anchor close to the

Geography—PI ar boars and Roadsteads.


settlement. Beef, poultry, and fish can generally be
obtained. The water is excellent and abundant.

In the southern portion of the bay there is deep water
along the north and west of the Island of Timbu Mata,
and a secure anchorage off Grassy Point, 3 to 13 fathoms,
where deer and pig can generally be secured.

To the south of Grassy Point is a deep passage separating
Culi Babang Island from the mainland, to which the name
of Trusan (passage) Treacher has been given.

This passage, which is clear of dangers, is recommended
by Lieutenant E. R. Connor, R.N., for vessels proceeding
from Darvel Bay to Sibuku, or any of the numerous rivers
north of the Sessajab. “This passage is much to be pre-
ferred to that via Omadal Island, as, in addition to being
shorter, the long reefs running to the south-west of Omadal
are occasionally somewhat difficult to make out.”

Between Omadal and Culi Babang is a well-sheltered
anchorage, with 8 to 9 fathoms. There is no water on the
island, the natives obtaining their supplies from the opposite

Off Mabul Island good anchorage is found in the south-
west monsoon, in 11 fathoms, mud.

Friedrich Haven, off the mouth of the Palas River, was
surveyed by an Austrian frigate of that name. There is
anchorage in 5^ fathoms.

Between Batu Tinagat and the Sibuku River, the southern
boundary of British North Borneo, is an extensive bay
recently surveyed by the Dutch. The depth of water runs
from 17 to 2 fathoms. Some 14 or 15 rivers run into
this bay, which is well sheltered, and affords excellent
anchorages. The Dutch have a gunboat stationed at the
Tawao River, but there are no villages to be met with,
nor even boats, save occasionally some wandering Bajows
engaged in the beche-de-mer fishery, which is capable of
great development, and only awaits the settlement of the
boundary dispute with Holland, to which reference has
already been made.

From the above sketch it will be seen that British North
Borneo is exceptionally favoured in the matter of harbours,
roadsteads, and anchorages.


Geography—Mountains and Rivers.

C. Mountains and Rivers.

The courses of the mountain ranges have not yet been
laid down with any attempt at accuracy in the published

It may be stated generally that there is a backbone
range, which, commencing in the great mountain of Kina-
balu (13,700 feet), 52 miles from the northern extremity of
the island, runs in a south-westerly direction throughout
the territory. The range is much nearer to the west than
to the east coast, with the result that the rivers on the west
are inferior in length to those on the east side, though the
scenery is grander and the coast more indented with bays
and inlets. Kinabalu itself rises within some 25 miles of
the west coast; and this may be taken to be the average
breadth of the coast between the backbone range and the
sea. From this range, which has a height of from 5000 to
13,700 feet, many ridges are given off at right angles ; and
these in many cases are connected by cross ridges, running
north and south. These ridges, as a rule, rise abruptly
from the plains, and are steep and narrow.

In addition to this range, and between it and the sea on
the west, is what is known as the Coast range, running
parallel to it from somewhat to the north of Gaya to the
southward, and with a height of between 3000 and 4000

Kinabalu has been ascended, though not perhaps to its
highest peaks, by three travellers, Lobb, Low,and St.John.
None of these travellers were successful in taking their
instruments to the top, and the figures of height are those
determined by Sir Edward Belcher by trigonometry.
According to St. John, the summit is about two miles in
length, but the intrepid explorer Witti gives the summit an
extent of 4 to 5 miles of about uniform height. He further
states that the highest peak is incorrectly marked on the
Admiralty Charts, and should be 5 miles to the S.S.E. of
the point there shown. Witti, who had observed Kinabalu
from every side, writes as follows : “ A chain 4500 feet
high borders Kinabalu to the N.E., running S.E. to N.E.,
appearing like an enormous breastwork to the mountain

Geography—Mountains and Rivers.


as a redoubt, the Kopuakan Valley (containing one of the
head waters of the Sugut River) forming the ditch and
Tambugukon (8000 feet), a formidable bastion. The
whole looks from this side (the N.E.) impregnable, and is
evidently impracticable.”

Burbidge, in his ‘ Gardens of the Sun,’ gives it as his
opinion, after experience, that the easiest route to Kinabalu
is by the Tampassuk River on the west coast.

Borneo differs from all the other large islands of what
Wallace terms Australasia in not possessing a single
volcano, either active or extinct.

The summit of Kinabalu is said to consist of syenitic
granite, here and there crossed by belts of a white rock ;
below the granite a hard kind of shale and greenstone.

About 50 miles to the S.E. is an independent group of
mountains, of which the highest is Mentapok, said to be
8000 feet.

In the upper course of the Labuk, which flows to the
south of Mentapok, the banks on both sides are very steep,
the hills rising from 200 to 500 feet.

About the centre of the Darvel Bay Peninsula is Mount
Hatton, so named in honour of Frank Hatton, the
Company's Scientific Explorer, who lost his life by an
accident on the Segama River. Its height is marked
on the Admiralty Chart as 1990 feet. To the south of
this is the Bagahac range, the highest summit being 2750

At the back of the Government station of Silam is the
hill known as Bud Silam, 3000 feet in height. Between
Silam and the Sibuku River are several lofty peaks not yet

For many years there appeared on charts and maps of
Borneo a large mythical lake to the south-eastward of
Kinabalu. The confusion appears to have arisen from the
fact that an extensive plain some 30 miles to the east of
Kinabalu is known to the aboriginal inhabitants as Danao,
which has no particular signification in their language, but
amongst the Malay-speaking tribes of the coast, from
whom travellers would derive their information, signifies
“a lake.” This plain, 1600 feet above the sea, is of oblong
form, extending some 4 miles by 1, surrounded by moun-



tains on each side, and watered by two streams, the
Manzanaban and the Linogu, the latter being the source of
the Labuk River. Danao is well cultivated, and for North
Borneo, populous. Hatton, who visited it after Witti, was
told that sometimes in the wet season the plain is a sheet
of water for more than a month at a time.

Rivers.—The principal rivers are, on the east coast, the
Kina Batangan, Labuk, Sugut, Paitan, Segama, Benguya,
Moanud, Alfred, Sigaliud, and others ; on the north the
Bengkoka, Bongan, &c. ; on the west coast the Padas,
Kalias, Putatan, Tampassuk, Kimanis and others. Of the
above the Kina Batangan is far the finest, being navigable
for steam launches for over 200 miles, while its tributaries
the Lokarn, Quarmote, Karamork, Mengkowago and others
are themselves fine rivers. Some days’ journey up the
Quarmote above its junction with the Kina Batangan are
the Alexandra falls, never yet seen by any European.
There is a way behind the mangroves from Sandakan Bay
to the Kina Batangan. The Labuk is a river similar in
character, but not navigable for steam launches for any
great distance; its chief tributaries are the Galagaan,
Toongud, Arngsoan and others ; it falls into the sea in the
Labuk Bay shortly to the north of Sandakan, to which
place all its trade comes ; all the above-mentioned rivers
are capable of supporting a very large population.

The Padas is a very fine river navigable for a long
distance, and having on its banks many sago plantations,
which are a source of considerable wealth to the inhabitants
of the district.

Chapter III.—Population.

The population of British North Borneo is very scanty, so
much so that vast tracts on the east coast and in the
interior are simply uninhabited forest. On the west coast
the population in some districts is fairly large. The want
of people on the east coast is due to the ravages, in old


days, of pirates by sea and head hunters by land. Com-
mencing on the seaboard of the east coast, the first people
met with are the Bajaus, or Sea Gypsies, on the littoral.
The villages on the sea coast and at the rivers’ mouths
contain many Sooloos, Bugis, Illanuns, and others, but the
first tribe of true Bornean aboriginals met with is the
Booloodoopy, who have villages from Sugut and Paitan on
the north to Tabunac on the south. Largely mixed up
with them are the Doompas on the north and the Eraans
on the south. Inland from these people the whole bulk of
the population are known as Dusuns or Sundyaks, divided
up into many tribes and sections, including the Roongas,
Kooroories, Umpoolooms, Saga Sagas, Tunbunwhas, Tin-
garas, Roomanows, and many others, those of the far interior
little better than roving savages, while nearer either coast,
where they have rubbed against Mahommedan civilisation,
they are much more cultivated both in their dress and
manners. The Bajaus or Sea Gypsies are a curious
wandering irresponsible sort of race, rather low down in
the scale of humanity, living almost entirely in boats in
families. Though undoubtedly of Malay origin, they are
much larger in stature, and stronger and darker than
ordinary Malays. Not caring to store up property, and
rarely troubling themselves as to where next week’s meals
are to come from, they pick up a precarious livelihood, along
the shore line, by catching fish, finding sea slugs and turtle
eggs, spearing sharks, and so forth. They lead a wild,
free, roving life in the open air, untroubled by any care
or thought for the morrow. The weapons they use are
the parang, spear, round shield, and tumbeloosow ; very
few of them have guns. The tumbeloosow is a long light
lance, made of bamboo, with a sharp wooden spike at the
end ; this they can throw for two or three score yards, thus
giving them a great advantage over any people not armed
with any projectile. The well-known Balignini were a
subdivision of the great Bajau tribe ; they used, as pro-
fessional kidnappers, to harry the seas from Macassar,
Batavia, and Singapore on the south, to Manila on the
north ; they did not, as a rule, murder without they
thought there was occasion to do so. In Sandakan and
other places there are many people now living who were




kidnapped in very distant parts, and brought up for sale,
in the old times. The last pirate raid along our coast was
in 1879, when the Balignini murdered or carried off sixty-
five people, Bajaus mostly ; as late as 1881 they conducted
raids elsewhere ; but all this sort of thing has now, it is
hoped, been put a complete stop to from all the coast
under our control. Many of those who used to be leading
pirates have now quietly settled down to agricultural
pursuits. The Illanuns are a race who inhabit the south
side of the Island of Magindanao. Long ago their warfare
against the Spaniards degenerated into general piracy;
their usual practice was not to take captives, but to murder
all on board any boat they took. Those with us have all
settled down to a more orderly way of life now, however.
The Sooloos are a people inhabiting, principally, the Island
of Sugh, in the Sooloo Archipelago ; mostly lazy, indepen-
dent and turbulent, they are not regarded with great favour
by anybody, but brave, restless, and fierce, they made the
best and almost the only traders in face of the numerous
dangers that beset both sea and land to within the last few
years, and many of them are settled down in every village
along our coast line. Their ancestry is very mixed,
there being a large infusion of both Arab and Chinese
blood in their veins. A good many of the Sooloos are
not bad fellows in their way when you come to know

Most of these Sooloos, Illanuns, Bugis, and other coast
people, the Bajaus excepted, are well behaved, courteous,
intelligent, and even companionable. Leaving the coast,
and before reaching the true tribes of the interior, there are
generally some villages inhabited by a mixture of races,
descendants of people from the interior, and of Sooloos,
Bajaus, Malays, and others. These people, in some places
known as the Doompas, used to oppress the natives on the
one hand, exacting tithes of their produce, forcing sales of
goods upon them at exorbitant prices, &c., while on the
other they used either to stop traders ascending the rivers
altogether, or to extort heavy tolls from them for per-
mission to pass. The establishment of a firm government
in North Borneo put an end to most of these irregularities
some time ago. The first true tribe of the interior arrived



at from the east coast is the Booloodoopy. The Booloo-
doopies are a somewhat singular people, many of them
having strangely Caucasian features, or at all events
departing largely from 'the ordinary Mongolian type.
Some of them have well-raised bridges to their noses, and
very round eyes. These peculiarities have been enlarged
upon by a French savant, Dr. Montano, who visited North
Borneo in 1880. The Booloodoopies are not very bold,
and as the richest of the birds’ nest caves occurs in their
country, they have had to oppose cunning to the straight-
forward exactions made upon them from time to time by
Sooloo and other rapacious adventurers. The Eraans in
Darvel Bay are closely connected with the Booloodoopies,
and like them are large owners of birds’-nest caves. At
various times both these tribes have sought the society of
Sooloo Datos, as a barrier against their fellow Datos, and a
protection against the marauders who used to infest the
country both by sea and land ; and in many places there is a
large infusion of Sooloo blood in consequence. In Darvel
Bay there are the remnants of a tribe which seems to have
been much more plentiful in bygone days—the Sabahans.
Most of them are so mixed with the Eraans as to be
almost indistinguishable. Some of them, however, still have
villages apart, remain heathens in their religion, and would
practice their old customs, human sacrifice included, if
allowed. In some of the birds’ nest caves, mouldering coffins
are to be seen, rudely carved with grotesque figures, said to
have been deposited there in bygone days by the old
Sabahans. Many of these coffins are on ledges of rock at
considerable elevations. Next above the Booloodoopies are
the Tunbunwhas, or the first sub-division of the main tribe
or people known as the Dusuns or Sundyaks, who constitute
the chief portion of the population of British North Borneo.
No completely satisfactory account of the Dusuns, or of the
true Dyaks either, appears to have been yet written. The
latter are spoken of as the aboriginals of Borneo, but even
in them there seems to be a great similarity in many matters
to Chinese, while the Dusuns would seem to be of nearly
half Chinese ancestry. The idea that Chinese men and
women came over in bodies and settled down in numbers
at a time in North Borneo, is perhaps not so probable as

D 2



that, long ago, when a large trade was being done between
Borneo and China, many Chinese, traders, shopkeepers
sailors, and the like, married women of the country, and
settled down—this sort of thing is, in fact, going on even in
this day—thus effecting a slow infiltration of Chinese
blood, though not of Chinese speech or manners gene-
rally : though it is believed that in one or two places on the
west coast Chinese is spoken and written, and Chinese
customs are practised. In many places the modes of
agriculture adopted by the Dusuns are far superior to
anything of the kind anywhere else in Borneo, and are sup-
posed to be due to Chinese influence. Ploughs, win-
nowing machines, and other appliances used by them
are to be seen in the North Borneo Court, sent over
by Mr. Dalrymple from the Putatan district on the west

Difficult as it is to tell how far the Dusuns owe their
ancestry to Chinese, it is still more so to say where the
Dusun ends and the Dyak proper begins. Many of the
Dusun men in the interior wear the chawat, and the women
brass waistbelts and gauntlets, just the same as the Dyaks,
while nearly all the Dusuns have the same fancy for old
jars, and most of them a modification of the head hunting
customs of the true Dyaks. This veneration for old jars is
obtained without doubt from the Chinese. Is this any
indication that Dyak ancestry also is partly Chinese ?
The taste for brass ornaments is very similar, although in
an exaggerated form, to that of the Foochow Chinese.
The sumpitan, or blow-pipe, is one of the principal
weapons of the Dusuns ; the darts are tipped with poison.
The coast people and Booloodoopies and most of the
Tunbunwhas are Mahomedans, but the tribes more in the
centre of the country are heathens, Kaffirs as the Maho-
medans call them. Their belief is that after death they all
have to ascend Kina Balu, which the good ones find little
difficulty in accomplishing, and are thence ushered into
heaven, while the wicked ones are left unsuccessfully trying
to struggle and scramble up the rocky sides of the mountain.
The Tunbunwhas and other Dusun tribes are greatly
guided in their movements and operations by omens and
dreams, good birds and bad birds, and so forth, and have


superstitions in connection with a good many things.
Though not such ardent head hunters as the true Dyaks,
still the Dusuns of the interior and west coast used to
indulge a good deal in this practice. Only a few years
ago many houses on the west coast were ornamented with
heads hung up round them, and in the interior blood feuds
between villages frequently occasioned head hunting raids
from one to the other. The men that took heads generally
had a tattoo mark for each one on the arm, and were
looked upon as very brave, though as a rule the heads were
obtained in the most cowardly way possible, a woman or
child’s being just as good as a man’s. The true head
hunters were most formidable neighbours ; there are
none in the territory, as they all reside to the southwards.
The possession of a head appears to be a certain method
of ingratiating oneself with the fair sex. During the famine
in Sooloo in 1879 a great many slaves and captives were
taken over to Booloongan and there sold, and in most
cases the purchasers cut off their heads for that reason.
The number of slaves and kidnapped people so taken over
was estimated at 4,000.

Dancing is too universal a custom of the Dusuns
and Sundyaks not to be mentioned. They will always
on the slightest inducement get up a “ main boloogsi,”
as it is called, while in times of abundant harvests,
dancing is going on all night long, night after night,
in every village or cluster of houses. The dance is a
very primitive one; a large ring is formed of men and
women holding each others’ hands, the men together and
the women together, and they circle round and round with
a sort of slow sliding step, singing or chanting in a some-
what weird monotonous way as they do so. The Bajaus
have the “ main boloogsi ” also; in their case the women
from an inner ring and the men an outer one round a pole,
and circle round it in opposite directions, and whereas the
Dusun dance goes on slowly all night long till daybreak,
the Bajaus get excited, and sing and dance faster and
faster, bounding round the pole, till at last they • are all
exhausted. The most objectionable custom practised by
the Dusuns was that of human sacrifice, or “surmungup,”
as they called it. The ostensible reason seems to have



been to send messages to dead relatives, and to this end
they used to get a slave, usually one bought for the pur-
pose, tie him up and bind him round with cloth, and then
after some preliminary dancing and singing, one after
another they would stick a spear a little way—an inch or
so—into his body, each one sending a message to his
deceased friend as he did so. There was even more difficulty
in getting them to abandon this custom than there was to
leave off head hunting. Down in the south-east the way
of managing “surmungups ” is for several natives to subscribe
till the price of a slave is raised ; he is then brought, tied
up, and all the subscribers, grasping simultaneously a long
spear, thrust it through him at once (this custom still
exists down in Tidong and the neighbourhood). The tribes
near the coast usually live in separate houses, two or three
families in each house, though even amongst them six or
eight families will sometimes be together; but in the
interior twenty or more families will live under one
roof, in what is known as a “ benatong ” or long house,
each family having its separate apartments, the doors
opening on to a sort of covered corridor. All these
houses are well raised off the ground on poles, in the
Malay fashion. In the interior amongst the heathens,
the space underneath the house is frequently utilised as

Some of the things these people buy are most expensive ;
sixty and seventy dollars is frequently given for a single
sarong. Men of industrious habits can easily be over-
burdened with the quantity of goods they can acquire.
Up the Labuk, where large earthenware jars are what
the people most covet, some of the family residences
are crammed full, top and bottom, and hung up to the
roof with these rather cumbrous evidences of wealth.
It may be said generally that whatever they want they
buy, irrespective of cost, from a bundle of tobacco to a
gold-hilted creese. Amongst most of the tribes brass ware
of various kinds used to be much valued, a great deal on
account of the facility with which it could be hidden in the
forest, or even in mud at the bottom of rivers. In the old
days keeping any visible wealth was a sort of challenge,
and consequently people as they bought things used to



hide them away. The whereabouts of many of these
deposits have been lost, and it not unfrequently happens
that produce-collecting parties in the forest stumble across
a lot of brass cannon, old gongs, &c. One of the customs
of the Tunbunwhas worth mentioning is that of embalming
the dead. This is done with the valuable Barus camphor,
abundant in the woods in their neighbourhood, more
particularly on the Kina Batangan ; it is worth some 60s. or
805-. a pound ; the coffins, in which they bury their dead, are
hewn out of a solid piece of billian (iron-wood), and are of
considerable value. On the west coast the population is
thicker, the produce has been mostly cleared off, and the
people have to give a much more steady attention to agri-
culture, and undertake various manufactures themselves.
As we come over to the east coast the people are lazier,
undertake little agriculture and less manufacture. On the
coast line, however, the Bajaus and Sooloos make a few
things. There is a curious resemblance between the
sarong and the Scotch kilt, and in the manner they are
worn, and an even closer one in their designs ; the plaid of
some of the commoner sarongs is said to be the Bruce
tartan, while many others, it is said, are of the Stuart

Mention is made by Mr. Dalrymple of a tribe distinct
from the Dusuns, known as the Tagaas, who inhabit
some of the mountains of the west coast, and who he
seems to think are the descendants of some old and
distinct race.

From the above remarks it will be gathered that the
main race inhabiting British North Borneo, the Dusuns,
are in all probability descendants of a mixed aboriginal
and Chinese ancestry, and that as we come nearer to the
coasts the sub-tribes mix and blend with each other and
with aliens, till on the east coast there is very little of the
native type left at all, a race rapidly springing up there of
very cosmopolitan origin. On the west coast there are
more natives and fewer aliens, but much the same thing is
occurring there on a smaller scale. The Dusuns in character
are quiet and orderly, and not particularly brave, and no
doubt would be industrious if occasion arose ; a very good
rural population, with somewhat rustic notions. Any slight



bloodthirsty tendencies, to which circumstances and the want
of proper restraint have driven them, are gladly abandoned
wherever the Company’s influence has spread. They show
every symptom of thriving and increasing, under a proper
firm Government, and there is no fear of their melting away
and disappearing like so many races have done when
brought into contact with the white man. Much the same
thing may be said of the sea coast races, who also possess
many good workaday knockabout qualities, but not to the
same extent as the Dusuns. Of these, the Bajaus are
probably doing the best in some districts, Sandakan par-
ticularly, as they bring their great strength to bear on
fairly rough work, are increasing and multiplying rapidly,
and are even beginning to build houses. The Sooloos are
the principal fishermen, and take not a small share of the
trade amongst the islands, while all are glad to seize the
opportunity of living quieter and more secure, if less
adventurous, lives than they used to do in the old days.
At first there was a slight difficulty in persuading some
of them to settle down to a more orderly state of things ;
but for long past matters have been going on smoothly
and quietly, except in some of the quite outlying districts ;
while it is not an uncommon thing to see large bodies of
people—men, women, and children—from other parts,
generally under some grave and peace-loving chief, come
sailing into our waters to settle under our flag.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.— Winds.


Chapter IV.—Climate, Meteorology, etc.

The following careful Report by Dr. James Walker
A.M., M.D., the principal medical officer, gives the fullest
information under the above heads.


The climate of British North Borneo is noticeable for
nothing more than for its equability and the absence of
extremes. The temperature, rainfall, winds, natural phe-
nomena generally, and the diseases, are, for a tropical
country, of the most mild and temperate types.

(2) In studying the climate it will be convenient to take

in detail the following headings, viz., (1) Monsoons and
winds ; (2) Rainfall (3) Temperature ; (4) Peculiar

natural phenomena; (5) Effects on health generally of
the climate ; (6) Prevalent climatic diseases; (7) Diseases
not due to the climate ; (8) Epidemic diseases ; (9) Health
of different nationalities; (10) Sanitary precautions ;

(11) Sanitaria.

(3) It may be noted here that the paper is chiefly
founded on observations made at Sandakan, supplemented
by occasional visits to Silam and Kudat, and by reports
from these and other out-stations.

§ 1. Monsoons and Winds.

The monsoons are the north-east and the south-west.

The north-east monsoon commences about the middle
of October and continues till about the middle of April.
During the greater part of this time the wind blows
steadily and with moderate strength from the north and
east. In the course of this monsoon, more particularly in
December and January, there are generally one, two, or
three moderate steady gales, lasting for from three to nine
days. At other times the wind is a moderate breeze from
about 11 A.M., getting rather stronger towards evening, and


Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Rainfall.

dying away in the early morning, when it may be overcome
by a gentle land breeze. At the beginning and end of the
monsoon the wind is not so strong or so steady, and the
land breeze continues till later in the forenoon.

(2) The south-west monsoon lasts from about the middle
of April till the middle of October. The wind, as a rule, is
not so strong in this monsoon, the land-breeze in the
morning better marked, and the gales not so strong nor
so long continued as in the north-east monsoon. On the
other hand, there are frequently squalls in the afternoon
and evening, lasting for an hour or two, and sometimes
blowing with the strength of a fresh gale. Neither in this
monsoon, nor in the north-east, does the wind rise to the
strength of a storm or even of a whole gale.

(3) No regular record of barometric pressure has been
kept, but Mr. Flint, who kept a barometer for some time at
Kudat, tells me it generally stood at from 29’80 to 29*90.

§ 2. Rainfall, Etc.

The annual rainfall near the coast, according to the
records kept, has during the last seven years ranged from
156*9 to 101’26, and has averaged 124’34.

(2) The true wet season occurs in the north-east
monsoon, and includes the months of November, De-
cember, and January, and generally part of either October,
February, or both. During this wet season the greater part
of the rain falls as general rain from a uniform dull grey
sky, and is pretty equally distributed between day and
night. This wet season does not, however, come up to
what seems to be commonly understood at home by that
expression—of incessant rain for weeks or months. I
have never known the rain to continue without interruption
for more than forty-eight hours; and in an average year
there are not more than six or eight days on which rain
falls for the whole twenty-four hours. During the wettest
month recorded in Sandakan (January, 1882), there were'
eleven days without any rain at all. The heaviest un-
interrupted falls of rain registered in the wet season are
7-90 inches in fourteen hours on January, 1884, and 9
inches in twenty-four hours in January, 1886.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Rainfall.


(3) The true dry season immediately follows this true
wet season, and includes March and April, and generally
the whole of May and part of February. During this
time, any rain that falls generally occurs in showers during
the night and early morning. There has been no month
without several showers, and even in 1885, when there was
an exceptionally severe drought both here and in the
Straits, during March and April, there was rain on six days
in March and on ten in April, while during these two
months of the most severe drought yet experienced here
there was a rainfall of 1*35 inches. During March, in that
year, there was no measurable rain for twenty-two days in
succession—by far the longest period on record. It may
be noted here that the drought during the months of
March and April has been more severe than formerly
during 1884, 1885, and 1886, and that some are inclined to
ascribe this to the extensive jungle felling and clearing.
That this was not the real cause of the severe drought last
year is at once evident from the fact that the drought was
general and not local; but on the other hand it must be
admitted that were the jungle cutting of sufficient extent
to influence the rainfall in any way, its effect would first be
felt on the localised showers of which the rainfall during
these months is mainly composed.

(4) This true dry season is followed by a period of
moderate rainfall, commencing generally about June. The
first month or six weeks of this period almost deserves to
be called a second wet season, and the rest of the period
up to the commencement of the true wet season might be
described as the second dry season. As, however, the
boundaries of these two are ill-defined, their characters
similar, and the difference in rainfall comparatively small,
I think it is better to consider them together, as a sort of
intermediate season. During this period the rain falls
chiefly in heavy squalls (either with thunder or from
thundery-looking clouds), occurring most frequently in
the afternoon and evening, but not confined to that time ;
and it is during these rain-squalls that the heaviest falls of
rain occur, such, e.g., as that on the 15th June, 1884, when
2*05 inches of rain fell in forty minutes (accurately timed
and measured). For the actual amount of rainfall during


Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Rainfall.

the various months, detailed accounts are given in the
tables in the Appendix.

(5.) As already stated in the Preface, these remarks are
founded chiefly on observations at Sandakan. On the
west coast the rainfall is similarly arranged, with the ex-
ception that popular report, supported to a certain extent
by the few returns I have for comparison from that district,
places the various seasons there about a month earlier than
on the east coast.

(6.) The water-supply of the country is so intimately
connected with the rainfall that a few lines may appro-
priately be given to it here. The rain does not collect in
lakes or pools, but quickly disappears, either carried off by
the free surface drainage of the country, or absorbed by
the porous soil. Thus the supply of fresh water must be
got from streams, springs, wells, or artificial reservoirs. As
the soil is generally absorbent, and retains the moisture,
there will probably be little difficulty in this matter, either
in the interior, or in such places as Sandakan, Silam, or
Gaya, where there are hills near the coast. In some places
near the coast, however, there will be difficulties, as the rivers
are for miles mere salt-water lagoons, while the deltas are
flat stretches of alluvial soil, raised only a few feet above
sea-level, with a substratum of clay, at a depth of a few feet,
and below that again a bed of decomposed mangrove
wood, &c. In such places the water-supply during the
dry season has hitherto been very unsatisfactory as regards
both quantity and quality, and consisting either of water
from the surface wells down to the clay, or still worse
of water impregnated with the organic matter from the
decomposing bed of mangrove below. It will probably be
found in the future that in many such places a satisfactory
supply can be obtained by Artesian wells penetrating to
the underlying rock, which will probably prove to be either
limestone or sandstone.

(7.) Under this heading may be mentioned also the
heavy mists that frequently occur in the rivers during the
night, and that are not dissipated till they get the full
force of the sun from 8 to 10 A.M.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.— Temperature.

§ 3. Temperature.

The temperature recorded at the coast has ranged between
the extremes of 67*5 and 94’5- Until within the last few
months, however, these records have been taken from ther-
mometers kept in the shade of a verandah—with the
exception of Kudat, where there was a thermometer-shade
two years since ; but little or no inferences can be drawn
from the records there, as the meteorological station is on a
sandy plain, the temperature of which was several degrees
above that of the country generally. Judging from the
results of the observations at Sandakan since the proper
shade was erected, I think the minimum records fairly well
represent the truth, while the maximum records are from
two to three degrees over the true “temperature in the

(2.) On reference to the tables and charts in the Ap-
pendix, it will be seen that the difference in temperature
between different seasons of the year is very slight. The
lowest average temperature for both maximum and mini-
mum registers is during the wet season in December and
January ; the highest average temperature during the night
(minimum) occurs during the dry season in April and May,
whilst the highest average temperature during the day
(maximum) is in August and September. The lowest
actual temperatures are generally recorded during the rain-
squalls of June and July during the evening or early part
of the night ; but as a rule the lowest temperature is reached
about 2 A.M. The range of maximum temperature for the
month is only from 80’88 in February, 1879, to 92*65 in
April, 1885 ; while the range for the monthly mean minimum
temperature is still smaller from 71*46 in December, 1883,
to 78*0 in April, 1883 (Kudat.)

(3.) With regard to the other stations, compared to
Sandakan, it may be said that Kudat is on the whole one
or two degrees warmer, while the stations near Papar, being
influenced by the cold winds from the hills, are several
degrees colder. Silam also is probably colder than San-
dakan at night. In the hills of the interior the temperature


Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Health.

falls much below the figures given above ; and it is probable
that freezing-point is occasionally reached near the top of
Kinabalu : the lowest recorded temperature I have found is
36*5, recorded by St. John, in his ‘Life in the Forests of
the Far East.’*

§ 4. Peculiar Natural Phenomena.

On this subject there is little to be said, more particularly
as no accurate records have been kept. The absence of
tornadoes, cyclones and earthquakes is to be noted. The
only indication of the existence at the present day of any
volcanic action is the report of a hot spring near the coast.

(2.) The peculiar phenomena of tropical climates gener-
ally are found here; thunderstorms with much sheet-
lightning are frequent during the months from July to
September, and are sometimes severe. Mirage is generally
present in the afternoons to a slight extent. Phosphor-
escence occurs to great perfection in Sandakan Bay; and I
have heard more than one ship-captain say they have seen
it better here than in any other locality. Of other meteoro-
logical phenomena nothing need be said, as the mere
mention of their existence in the absence of any accurate
records would be of no value.


§ 5. General Effects on Health.

On this subject we have as yet far too meagre materials
to ground definite opinions on ; and it is difficult to formulate
the impressions one forms in the absence of absolutely com-
plete records with sufficient clearness, and at the same time
avoid appearing to be dogmatic on insufficient premises.

(2.) The impression I have formed of the salubrity of
the climate generally is, that it compares not unfavourably
in that respect with other tropical climates, such as that of
the Straits, &c. Diseases seem generally of a mild type
and amenable to treatment; and although here, as in all
tropical countries, those making new clearings in the jungle

* The clear atmosphere and free evaporation prevents the temperature
recorded from being oppressive.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Health.


are liable to sickness, yet the immense improvement
recently of the two stations that, at the time they were
opened, were looked on as exceptionally unhealthy (Silam
and Kudat) gives good grounds for hope that the sickness
of newly-opened clearings will not last for very long. The
places where such sickness is likely to continue longest is
in the deltas of the larger rivers—in which most of the
planting experiments have hitherto been made—as there, in
addition to the unhealthiness of a newly-opened clearing,
there are to be contended with the difficulties in the water-
supply, and the sickness caused by the mangrove swamps
in the neighbourhood and by the heavy river mists.

(3.) The death-rate cannot be stated with any certainty.
The register of deaths for Sandakan for 1885 may be relied
on as tolerably complete, as registration of births and
deaths has since 1885 been compulsory there. Previous
to that a register was kept, and was made as complete as
possible ; but there was no penalty for neglecting to report
a death, and the result was that only two-thirds of them
were ever heard of. The deaths registered in the Sandakan
district—including Sandakan itself, and the surrounding
country within a radius of about three miles, within which
there are three native villages—amounted to 129; and, as
the population of that area may be safely put at over 4,500,
this would give a death-rate of 28’6, or say, to allow for
deaths not registered, 30 per thousand. Comparing Sanda-
kan with the country generally, and remembering on the
one hand that Sandakan is the oldest and, independently
of that, one of the healthiest stations, and on the other
that there the proportion of the unhealthy race (Chinese)
who contribute more than one-half of the whole deaths
registered is much larger than in other parts of the country,
and that a considerable proportion of the deaths registered
in Sandakan (about ten per cent) is due to sickness con-
tracted in the rivers of the bay, it will, I think, be a fair
estimate to consider the Sandakan death-rate as tolerably
well representing that of the country generally. I am at
any rate certain I am within the mark in saying that the
death-rate of the country does not exceed thirty-five per
thousand per annum.

As regards the influence on health of the different forces

48 Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Climatic Diseases.

that go to make up the climate, it is as yet impossible to
make any general conclusions. It is even impossible to
say, for the country as a whole, which monsoon or which
season of the year is the most unhealthy. In some indi-
vidual parts the south-west monsoon is by far the most
unhealthy, and this is especially noticeable at Kudat and
Silam, where, during the south-west monsoon, fever is
prevalent and rather severe, while during the north-east it
is mild, and at Kudat now almost absent. At these stations
the evil influence in the south-west monsoon is undoubtedly
the stronger winds, which, blowing over the whole of
Borneo, reach these places laden with the impurities col-
lected from swamps, &c., in their passage, while Sandakan
is protected from this influence by the purifying effects of
the bay, over which the south-west winds have to sweep for
a distance of some fifteen miles before reaching the town ;
and consequently at that station there are no clearly-
defined “ healthy ” and “ unhealthy ” seasons, as at the two
others mentioned. The only other well-marked influences
for evil in the climate are, (a) In certain places diminution
in the quantity and deterioration in the quality of the
water during the dry season ; (/9) Impurities in the water
in places deriving their water-supply from streams on the
first commencement of rains after a drought ; this influence
is most felt in June, after the true dry season. (7) The
effect of the floods that every year cover large areas near
the rivers is distinctly to increase the tendency to fever and
allied diseases among the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.
(8) The heavy river mists aid in the production of fever,
asthma and phthisis. Beyond this all is mere vague
impressions, the most definite of which is that there is an
increase of sickness, especially of the respiratory system,
and malarial diseases, about the change of the monsoon.
It may be specially pointed out that the unhealthy season of
India, the so-called “cold ” season, does not exist in North

§ 6. Prevalent Climatic Diseases.

The chief diseases to be considered under this head are
fever, beriberi, and dysentery. In addition to these a few
lines will be given to anaemia and sunstroke.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Climatic Diseases. 49

(2.) Fever forms rather more than a quarter of the cases
treated in the Government dispensaries and hospitals (25'248
per cent.). It must be remembered, however, that a consider-
able proportion of the cases enumerated under that name
are not malarial, but simple continued fever, or febricula.
As many of the cases come only once to the dispensary for
a supply of medicine, and that after a single slight feverish
attack, it is impossible to draw a hard-and-fast line between
the two classes, or to give the exact proportion ; but I think
that at least a third of the cases of “ fever ” belong to this
milder type. Of malarial fever the type is generally a mild
intermittent quotidian fever, which yields readily to treat-
ment. Remittent fever is seldom seen, and only in some
very unhealthy rivers, or in the case of Chinese, who have
not defcecated for from six to ten days. The malignant type
of “jungle fever,” sometimes seen in the native states and
elsewhere, I have not encountered in North Borneo. There
are certain local differences in type which deserve notice :
thus, at Sandakan the type is as described above, and with
a tendency to leave behind it muscular pains (pseudo-
rheumatic) greatly in excess of what would be expected
from the mildness of the attack. At Silam the fever, after
the first ten days or a fortnight, almost invariably assumes
the Tertian, Quartan, or Quintan type, and is more
intractable, while from almost the commencement it yields
more readily to arsenic than to quinine. At Kudat the
local characteristic is the severity of the bilious vomiting
that generally occurs during the first few days of an attack
of fever during the strong winds of the south-west monsoon,
and the nervous depression and headache that ushers in the
attack ; while at the new district of Padas, if I may judge
from the few cases among the police who have been sent to
Sandakan for treatment, the permanent effects on the
spleen are much more severe than in the other stations.

(3.) Beriberi occupies an important position in the list
of diseases of Borneo, partly on account of the high rate of
mortality it gives, and partly on account of the extent to
which it has already interfered with planting. It has
broken out in each of the plantations opened on the
rivers in Sandakan Bay, and has claimed its quota of
victims not only in these — Segaliud, Domoondong,


50 Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Climatic Diseases.

Suanlamba, and to a less extent, Sapogaya—but also in
the native village of Melapi, at the birds’ nest caves at
Gomanton, among some of the parties of Dyaks collecting
produce on the upper waters of the Segama, and to some
extent on the Island of Banguey. This disease generally
appears almost in the form of an epidemic, and is generally
closely restricted both to the locality and the race among
whom it at first appears. The cases enumerated in the
Appendix* were chiefly drawn from the various rivers in the
bay (patients sent to Sandakan for treatment), but include
also a few sporadic cases that appeared in the low-lying
ground in Sandakan, and a few cases in the commencement
of a recent outbreak in the old gaol here. The cause of this
obscure disease is as yet uncertain ; some ascribe it to the
food, more especially to bad rice and fish, and there is no
doubt that a generous diet has a strong curative influence
in the disease ; but on the whole, from its many analogies
with malarial fever, and the strict localisation of the disease,
I am more inclined to the view that it is due to a specific
miasm or exhalation from the soil. There are two distinct
forms of the disease, and I think it not improbable that
these may ultimately prove to be distinct diseases, (a) The
wet, or dropsical, form is the more common and dangerous.
It frequently commences with a short attack of intermittent
fever, at other times with only slight malaise. The first
two distinctive symptoms are oedema of the feet, and
diminished sensibility of skin of the front of the leg and
dorsum of the foot, “ as if there were a sheet of paper over
it.” (The diminution in the sensibility of the skin around
the mouth mentioned by some writers I have not found
common here.) These two symptoms may occur simulta-
neously, or either of them may appear some days before
the other. They are soon followed by a feeling of heaviness
of the feet, loss of power of the muscles of the front of the
legs, and consequent toe-drop and characteristic walk, and
spasm and tenderness on deep pressure of the muscles
of the calves and back of the thighs. Soon the oedema,
extends, the paralysis of the legs increases, and the red
corpuscles of the blood get disintegrated, but there are no
haemorrhages, no albuminuria. At this stage the deep

* Not published.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.— Climatic Diseases. 51

reflexes do not seem to be affected, and there is no spinal
tenderness. Soon there occurs general dropsy, with prae-
cordial uneasiness, and effusion into the pericardium, pleura,
or peritoneum, and sometimes marked oedema of the
scrotum, which is to be looked on as a bad symptom. At
this stage attacks ;of diarrhoea occur, but the appetite
remains good throughout. In the fatal cases death gene-
rally occurs from sudden effusion into the pericardium, or
from atrophy and degeneration of the heart, or from simple
exhaustion. Recovery is generally protracted, and mean-
while the patient is liable to relapses, or to sudden death,
from failure of the weakened heart, on any sudden change
of temperature or unusual exertion, or simply from over-
loading the stomach. The so-called malignant form seems
to be merely a subdivision of this form, in which, without
premonitory or other initial symptoms, there is sudden
effusion into the pericardium, and death. (/?) The dry
form is characterised by motor paralysis of the legs, and
also at a later stage of the arms, and in extremely severe
cases, the muscles of the larynx, causing the voice to become
a husky treble ; diminution or loss of tendon reflex, and no
marked loss of sensibility. In the early stage there is
generally found to be tenderness on firm percussion over the
fourth, fifth, or sixth dorsal vertebra, and a blister over this
spot, followed by full doses of strychnine, arsenic and iron,
occasionally results in speedy cure. The result in this
form is generally protracted recovery, and death, when it
does occur, is usually due to the supervention of the
dropsical form.

(4.) Dysentery is not prevalent, and where it does occur
the acute form is always, so far as I have seen, mild and
amenable to treatment. Even chronic dysentery generally
yields to careful treatment, and has proved dangerous only
when it has existed for a long time without any treatment,
or when complicated by opium-smoking. There have been
two slight outbreaks of dysentery in the gaol at Sandakan,
but neither of them caused any deaths.

(5.) Anaemia occurs here from various causes. Euro-
peans frequently suffer from it to a slight extent when they
first arrive. Chinese also suffer from it when they come
here direct from China, and in their case it is sometimes
E 2

52 Climate, Meteorology, etc.—General Diseases.

more severe, and occasionally causes death. Among
Chinese wood-cutters I have seen some very severe cases
of anaemia accompanied by severe ulcers. It frequently
follows fever. Among the Dyak produce collectors in
their long journeys up the river of Borneo it also occurs,
probably in consequence of deficiency in their food, and
takes the form of incipient scurvy. I have also seen two
cases of severe anaemia produced by epistaxis, and one of
these proved fatal.

(6.) Sunstroke does not occur frequently. I have seen
only one case in a European (quite recently), and this has
passed off without bad results. The cases in the Appendix
occurred to natives and Chinese ; and in addition to these
it is probable that some of the cases of “ found dead ” were
due to this cause.

§ 7. Diseases not dne to Climate.

Reference to the “ Analysis of Cases of Disease ” in the
Appendix * will show the comparative frequence of the
different classes of disease. Diseases of the respiratory
system are only a small percentage (5'51), and are chiefly
simple catarrhal attacks of the nose and larynx, and
occasionally mild bronchial affections. Phthisis is not
common, and is generally a sequence of the bronchial
asthma caused among the natives by the river mists.
Fleart-disease also is infrequent, and is generally a sequence
of fever or beriberi. Rheumatism, in the form of muscular
rheumatism, occurs frequently, but rheumatism affecting
the joints is rare, and generally gonorrhoeal in origin. I
have not seen a single case of acute rheumatism in Borneo.
Diseases of the alimentary system form a large percentage
of the cases (26’77), but are chiefly functional,—constipa-
tion, diarrhoea, atonic dyspepsia—and occasionally slight
gastric catarrh. Disorders of the liver are also chiefly func-
tional, but include a few cases of congestion from exposure
to the sun, &c., and a few cases of hepatitis. Diseases
of the genito-urinary system form only 3’46 per cent, of
the whole; and of these venereal diseases form more than
half. Venereal disease was almost, if not quite, unknown

* Not published.

Climate, Meteorology, etc.—General Diseases. 53

among the natives previous to the arrival of the white men
among them ; at the present time gonorrhoea is the only
disease prevalent, only some five or six cases of foecal-
contagious sores having been seen, and only one Hunterian
chancre (introduced from Labuan by a Sikh). Gonorrhoea
in the natives is very easily cured ; while in the Europeans,
and to a less extent in the Chinese, the relaxing climate
tends to make it have a tedious course. The natives are
subject to a rather severe form of idiopathic orchitis
Diseases of the nervous system and organs of sense form
3’96 per cent, of all the diseases seen : they consist chiefly
of neuralgia, conjunctivitis, and ear-ache; in addition to
these, two cases of cerebral apoplexy, three or four of
epilepsy, some six of insanity (Chinese and Arabs), two of
cataract, and a few of otorrhoea make up the greater part
of the remaining cases. Skin diseases form 8’40 per cent.,
and include a little over 2 per cent, of itch, chiefly among
the Chinese, and 4'7 per cent, of ringworm (principally
imbricata), which is found chiefly among the natives, but
occurs in all races. Pityriasis versicolor is common among
the natives, but as it has the effect of making their skin
more white than natural, they do not as a rule object to it,
or wish to have it cured. Abscesses, boils and ulcers form
9'380 per cent, of the diseases; the ulcers are generally
either irritable or indolent ulcers, sometimes sloughing
ulcers occur also among the Chinese ; besides which there
are many cases of simple ulcers due to neglected injuries
got in jungle clearing. I have seen only two cases of lupus
(one this year, not given in the table), and these are the
only approach to cancerous disease I have seen. The
diseases of joints were chiefly simple syncritis. The cases
of bites, stings, &c., include only two fatal cases, both
children of about 7 to 10 years of age stung by jelly-fish ;
also two cases of slight bites by crocodiles ; the others are
stings by poisonous fish or scorpions, and centipede bites,
The “other injuries ” include two cases of rupture of the
urethra by falls’ one of fracture of the spine, about twenty
fractures and dislocations, gunshot wounds, six to eight
kriss or spear wounds: the other cases various minor


Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Epidemics.

§ 8. Epidemics.

The only epidemic diseases that are known to have
appeared in North Borneo are small-pox and cholera.

(2.) Small-pox seems to have spread through the whole
territory some fifteen years ago, and at that time did
immense damage, clearing off whole villages and de-
populating extensive tracts of country : it is said, in fact, to
have carried off fully one-half of the population. Again, in
1883, two cases were imported from Hong Kong to Kudat,
but the prompt action of Mr. Wheatley, the then medical
officer of the West Coast, prevented the disease from
spreading farther.

(3.) Cholera was brought to the country in the first half
of 1882, being first brought by a native prahu to a village
at the mouth of the Labuk river, and from that to Sandakan
—there was also a suspicion of independent infection
brought from Sooloo to Sandakan by one of the steamers
about the same time—and from these two centres spread
over nearly the whole of the coast, and on the west coast
penetrated to the interior, and carried off a little over a
thousand victims. This disease is said to have previously
visited the west coast about the same time as the small-
pox outbreak ; but it does not seem to have previously
visited the east coast, as the natives had no name for it,
and simply called it “The New Disease.”

(4.) As to the means of defending ourselves from similar
outbreaks in future, we can to a considerable extent defend
ourselves against infection from a distance, by quarantine
and inspection of steamers, &c.—the London quarantine
regulations have been adopted here, with a special clause
providing for absolute quarantine at stations where there
is no medical officer—but against infection from our
immediate neighbours in Sooloo and Dutch Borneo, &c.,
we are practically helpless, in consequence of the frequent
communication by native boats between these places and
native villages here, where there is no one to take the
necessary precautions.

(5.) Vaccination is being carried on as well as possible

---unui |

Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Nationalities and Diseases. 55
in the face of considerable difficulties. The Bruneis and
Malays are the only races that willingly aid in this ; the
Chinese are anxious for vaccination for themselves and
children, but have a strong prejudice against supplying
lymph for the vaccination of others; the Sooloos are
generally apathetic on the subject, while the inland tribes
identify vaccination with inoculation, and in most cases
strongly object to it.

§ 9.—Nationalities and Disease.

On Europeans the climate has, with proper precaution,
an enervating but not a dangerous effect. During the seven
years that the Provisional Association and the Company
have held sway here, only two Europeans have fallen
victims in the country to disease that could fairly be
ascribed to the climate. One succumbed to dysentery, at
an out-station where he had none of the medicine necessary
for the treatment of that disease ; and the other, to a
neglected attack of fever contracted in opening a new
clearing. In addition to this, one infant died of bronchitis ;
one sea-captain, who had been specially ordered never to
return to a tropical climate, died of fever in Kudat harbour ;
and three died after being invalided from here, but all of
these were bad lives before coming here. Of these three
one died of phthisis, in consequence of which he had to
leave England several years before ; and the other two
who had been weakened by a long previous residence in
tropical climates, and were in bad health when they came
here, died, one of fever and chronic diarrhoea, and the
other of fever and chronic dysentery. Eurasians have
much the same relation to the climate as Europeans, and
seem if anything rather more liable to fever, and less to
the general depressing influence of the climate.

(2). The Indian races on the whole stand the climate well.
The Sikhs and Bengalees have attacks of fever, colic, con-
stipation, and occasionally slight dysentery, but there have
been but few deaths among them ; one or two from fever,
one from heart-disease, one from opium-smoking, one from
chronic neglected dysentery, and one sudden death, cause

56 Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Nationalities and Diseases.

unknown. The Klings are also fairly healthy here, but
like others have occasional attacks of fever, and in two
cases beriberi. The Cingalese who were brought here for
the Survey Department suffered severely from fever and its

(3) . The Chinese are the only race that can be said to be
decidedly unhealthy in this climate, and even of these this
can be said only of those fresh from China, and sent to
work in the jungle before they are acclimatised. Men such
as these contribute more than half of all the deaths
registered in Sandakan, succumbing chiefly to fever,
beriberi, and anaemia, with ulcers.

(4) . The Dyaks from Sarawak have excellent health in
North Borneo. Even in the long journeys up country in
search of produce, often lasting for six months or more,
and during which they are exposed to all the evil influences
of the climate, and are frequently badly off for food as
regards both quantity and quality, although they occa-
sionally suffer from attacks of fever and diarrhoea, few of
them succumb ; and even when beriberi breaks out among
them it generally assumes the “ dry ” form, and the
mortality is, for that disease, small. When acting as
constables, being much better looked after and not exposed
to the climate, they have almost no sickness except an
occasional slight touch of muscular rheumatism, or a mild
return of fever contracted in some of their previous journeys
as produce collectors.

(5) . The natives of the country suffer chiefly from fever,
muscular rheumatism, ringworm (chiefly the imbricate form),
and in some places spleen and asthma, and occasionally
phthisis. A noticeable point with regard to the natives is
the immense mortality among infants : nearly a fifth of the
children born seem to die within twenty-four hours of
their birth, while many more die within the first few weeks
of life ; and altogether fully one-half, I think, die during
the first year. The natives look on this as all in the
proper course of nature, and though anxious to have
children never think of applying for medical aid for the
ailments of such young children. I have consequently no
exact details of the causes of death in these cases, but
gather that they are chiefly improper management at birth,

Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Sanitary Precautions. 57

and fits and bowel complaints from improper feeding. The
women get over their confinement easily, and I have heard
of only one death in child-bed of a native woman here—a
very exceptional case, in which a woman at one birth pro-
duced four children alive, and died with a fifth still unborn.

§ 10.— Sanitary Precazitions.

The sanitary precautions to be observed here are the
same as in all countries in the tropics, and need be only
glanced at rapidly. The most important are, temperance
and regularity in food and drink, and attention to the
excretions; daily bathing, regular exercise, careful
avoidance of unnecessary exposure to the sun by day
(especially if exhausted from any cause), or to sudden
chills or malarious exhalations by night; and prompt
attention to petty ailments at the very commencement.

(2) . In selecting the site for a house or settlement the
usual precautions must be taken; the site should be on a
rising ground in the centre of a considerable clearing, and
not in the immediate neighbourhood of swamps, or of any
considerable extent of newly-felled jungle or of freshly-
turned soil, nor in such a position that either of the preva-
lent winds blows directly from any of these towards the
house, even from a considerable distance. Failing the
possibility of these points, the house should be raised well
above the ground (eight or ten feet) on piles ; and in
the unhealthy winds fires to windward are said to greatly
neutralise the malarious influence. The supply of water
should be taken if possible from springs, and failing that
from deep wells ; and when there is the least suspicion of
the quality of the water, it should be well boiled before
being filtered.

(3) . Travelling in North Borneo on the rivers is usually
done in the small native boats, and on such journeys a
most important point is to overcome the difficulties in the
way of getting regular exercise. Several of the Europeans
who have travelled in the interior have got sick entirely in
consequence of the neglect of this. In addition to this the
usual well-known precautions must be taken: abundance


Climate, Meteorology, etc.—Sanitaria.

and good quality and variety in the supply of food, careful
boiling of the water for drinking purposes, lighting fires to
windward of the camp in malarious places, using a blanket
at night, and taking some food before starting in the morn-
ing, having a proper supply of simple medicines, and rising
them at once when they are required, &c.

§ 11.—Sanitaria.

In the future, when the country gets opened up, there
will be comparatively little difficulty in forming sanitary
stations on the hills near the west coast. Probably the best
site will be found on some of the spurs of Kinabalu, such as
that described by St. John on the west-north-west spur ;
where, at an elevation of some 5,000 to 6,000 feet, on a good
site to which a road could easily be made, he found good
water, and an average temperature of 750 at midday, 63°
at sunset, and 56° at sunrise. At Bode Silam, also on the
east coast, it is possible that a site may be found at an
elevation of some 2,000 feet, but this would probably prove
much less satisfactory, not only on account of the smaller
elevation, but also because from the isolated nature of the
hill there would probably be difficulties about road, water-
supply, and shelter from the wind.

(2). At present, in default of such sanitarium, I find the
short sea-voyage from this to Singapore and back has a
most powerful recuperative effect in convalesence from
sickness. The voyage to Plongkong is not found so satis-
factory in such cases, as the transition of climate is too
rapid ; and though the distant effects may be good, the
immediate effect is to stir up any seeds of fever and other
disease that may be latent in the system and cause an
outburst of the disease.

Trade and Products—Sea Produce.


Chapter V.—Trade and Products.

The island of Borneo and the surrounding seas are
exceptionally rich in natural products, many of which are
as yet hardly, if at all, collected or utilized. The main
reason why so little advantage of these resources has
been taken hitherto is that matters have been in such a
disorganised and anarchical state that it was impossible to
store up the slightest wealth without some one more
powerful than the possessor coming and seizing it, by force
of arms if need be. It was useless therefore, until quite
lately, for any one to attempt to do more than provide for
his immediate wants ; and so much has this grown to be a
habit, added to the natural laziness of the Malay character,
that the bulk of the people simply have, even now, no
thought for the morrow. A remarkable illustration of this
is found in the undoubted fact that it has been known
that Bajau boats having brought some “find” of a rather
higher importance than usual to market, and bartered some
of it for the only article to which they attach any value,
rice, have afterwards thrown the greater part of the re-
mainder into the sea, rather than be at the trouble of
taking it about with them. It will thus be understood
that the people of these parts have come to regard it as
but a natural state of affairs that they should be surrounded
by wild produce of a valuable character, which they have
only to stretch out their arms to gather, and, in fact, as a
sort of balance at their bankers, upon which they simply
have to draw whenever the need arises.

Sea Produce.

Beche-de-mer; scientific name, Holothuria, or Sea
Cucumber; Malay, trepang; Bajau, bart. These repulsive-
looking echinoderms occur in quantities all round the
coast, and are collected principally by the Bajaus, or
Sea Gipsies, who cure and dry them, and bring them to


Trade and Products—Sea Produce.

market, where they are bought by Chinese traders, and
sent ultimately to China, where they are much appreciated,
being used principally to make soup. They vary con-
siderably in price. Some of them have no value at all,
and go uncollected ; others fetch as much as $25 a picul,
but the usual price is from $10 to $15 per picul. Along
the coast they are rather fully collected, but amongst
the islands, and on the coast line down to the south there
are immense quantities left undisturbed from year to year.
The exports of this curious produce during the years 1882,
1883, and 1884, were valued at $6,739, $9,057, and $7,373

Keema is a large mollusc resembling an enormous cockle
or clam. Their shells may occasionally be seen in museums
in England, and are much used in France as vessels for
Holy Water at the entrances to churches ; these shells are
sometimes found six feet in width, and the natives aver
that they grow very much larger, and state that on the
coast of Tawi-Tawi there is one as big “as a house.” It
may be mentioned however that fifteen feet broad for a
Bajau house would be quite a respectable size. Keema
is usually found on a coral bottom, and it requires the keen
and practised eye of a Bajau to distinguish between them
and the surrounding lumps of coral, &c. ; they usually
present the appearance of an indigo-blue streak, the partly
opened mouth being all that is visible, the shell being too
much covered by sea-weed, anemonies, &c., to be seen; and
when the Bajau distinguishes one from amongst the
quantities of other creatures and colours with which the
bottom abounds, he thrusts a three-pronged spear into the
aperture, whereupon the two shells close with a firm grasp,
which enables the fisherman to bring it to the top without
further trouble. The price of Keema is usually so low
that it is despised by the gatherers, though however low
the price might be, $2 to $3 a day could always be earned
by collecting it. During the war between France and
China, the prices of Keema rose considerably, owing
probably to its being more easily prepared for culinary
purposes than trepang, and therefore more adapted for
soldiers on the march. There are places on the coast
where boat-loads can be got in a very few days, and its

Trade and Products—Sea Produce.


collection was being largely expanded when the end of the
war came, and prices showed a disposition to fall.

Agar-agar, an edible sea weed, grows freely enough in
many places at the bottom of the sea, and is to be had for
the collecting.

Mother-of-pearl shell is the produce of a very large
oyster, known locally as tepai. Beds of this oyster are
found in the seas all the way from Borneo to Australia,
more or less ; they would seem to terminate however
about Lat. 6, North. There is a tradition of a large bed
being situated outside Balhalla, somewhere between • the
islands of Nunuyan and Taganac, and in confirmation of
this report occasional single specimens have been obtained.
A bed also exists, without much doubt, on the “ Rene ”
shoal off Tambesan, but the mouth of Darvel Bay has to
be crossed to the southwards before ground is reached
where they are constantly found. Information apparently
trustworthy has been received of an important bed ex-
tending from Port Elphinstone to some sixty miles to the
southward, called the Ada Bank, so named after the wife
of Mr. Pryer the Resident of the East Coast. Shells from
this bank are sent in occasionally and some pearls are said
to have been found. The price of shell is usually about
$45 a picul. Exports hitherto in this article have
principally been composed of a few shells that have from
time to time found their way over from the Sooloo islands
to Sandakan.

Pearls. These are found in the above-mentioned
mother-of-pearl, or tepai, oysters. Hitherto but very few
have been found on the coast of British North Borneo, and
those which are offered for sale in the market have come
principally from the islands of Tawi-Tawi, Skobong, Ubian,
&c., in the Sooloo Archipelago. Pearls of very high price
are not unfrequently to be bought in Sandakan. The
largest one that has been seen was valued at $8,000.
The diving powers of the people who bring up these
shells are something extraordinary, and are probably not
to be exceeded anywhere in the world ; without any stone
or weight they turn over on the surface of the water and
swim down headforemost to the bottom, collect shells, and
bring them up, each one weighing six or seven catties.

62 Trade and Products—Sea Produce.

In this manner they will descend to an ascertained depth
of twelve fathoms, and claim to be able to go down much
greater depths. In waters much infested by sharks, a sort
of plough-shaped trawl, here called “badjer,” is used.

Seed-pearls. These are found in a thin, flat, pinkish-
shelled oyster, known locally as selisiep, which occurs
usually in shallow water on the mud at the mouth of
rivers. This oyster is somewhat peculiar in character ; the
water in which alone it can thrive must be slightly brackish,
as it cannot live in entirely salt water, while on the other
hand, an admixture of too much fresh water kills it at
once. There used to be large beds of it in Sandakan and
Lakuk Bays, but very heavy rains in the year 1879 so
thoroughly destroyed the oysters that they had not
properly recovered by the end of 1885. On several
occasions it has been said that the oyster was beginning
to be found again, and that minute pearls were forming in
them, but rains always came at the critical moment and
destroyed them. In Maroap Bay, a certain amount of
collecting has been in progress for the past two years, and
there are places in Darvel Bay where these oysters arc
abundant; but other natural produce, more easily collected,
is so plentiful in its neighbourhood that they are never
touched. Seed-pearl collecting is great fun. It is always
necessary for several boats to rendezvous at the same time
and place for the purpose of frightening away the crocodiles
and sharks, and for the same reason as much shouting and
splashing about as possible is indulged in. The con-
sequence is that there are rarely less than from twenty to
thirty persons in the water at one time, all diving, splashing,
laughing and shouting at once, and rarely bringing up less
than three to four shells at a dive, whilst extra yells from
all hands salute a rather larger find than usual. The mode
of obtaining the pearls is by opening the oysters and
throwing their contents into some vessel, and there leaving
them to decompose, stirring them up daily during the
process, until at last, the liquid putridity being poured off,
the pearls are found at the bottom. Very few of them are
large enough to be of any value individually, but they arc
sent to China, where they are pounded up and made into
powder, and there swallowed by ladies who desire to

Trade and Products—Sea Produce.


improve their complexion ; at least such is the story. An-

other and rather larger kind of oyster, known as beloong,
found in somewhat deeper water than selisiep, also always
contains seed-pearls. Exports, 1882, $71; 1883, $106; and
1884, $2,401.

Tortoise shell. The name applied to this article of
commerce is somewhat of a misnomer, as it is supplied by
a turtle ; these turtles are fairly common in our seas, and
are usually captured by means of spearing as they lie
asleep on the surface of the water. It is averred that the
turtle-egg collectors, if they find a lay of eggs less than
one hundred and thirty in number, return to that spot
twelve nights afterwards, when the same turtle comes again,
and, being secured, is always found to be of a good kind.
(The ordinary turtle is not interfered with.) The usual
price of tortoise shell is about $6 to $12 for the produce of
one turtle, but occasionally single shells are valued at
extraordinarily high prices. Some short time since one was
secured by Panglima Ypel, which was said to have been
sold for $500, and more recently it was reported that
$2,000 was asked for a single specimen brought to Sanda-
kan. No people but Chinese would pay such prices for
such an article.

Turtle eggs. Some of the sandy shores of the islands
about the east coast abound with turtle eggs, which are
collected by boats which go in search of them, and quite a
large trade is the result, baskets full being always ex-
posed for sale during the season in the shops at Sandakan.
The island of Bergoan is the one most favoured by the
turtles, and the season is during the continuance of the
southern monsoon, viz., from April to October.

Sharks' fins. Sharks abound in these seas, and arc
caught chiefly by the Bajaus, in a variety of ways, some-
times by hook and line, sometimes in kcelongs (fish-stakes,
or fish weirs they would be better known as in England),
and sometimes by spearing, but by none of these methods
can the very largest be captured, and they sometimes are
seen of immense size. A Bajau boat, however, rarely
returns from a trip of any duration without bringing a
bunch of tails and fins, usually cut off from fish four to
seven feet in length. The quantity in the sea may be


Trade and Products—Sea Produce.

described as inexhaustible, and the larger the sea population
grows, the more sharks’ fins are likely to be brought to
market. Borneo sharks are, to a certain extent, dangerous,
but not so very much so ; an occasional mother-of-pearl-
shell diver is carried off, but, otherwise, accidents happening
to persons going into the sea are rarely heard of, not by
any means so often as from crocodiles up the rivers. A
canoe has been seen to pass over the spot, where, a few
minutes before, the two back fins of a shark had been
visible, and between which the canoe (a very small one)
could almost have been placed lengthways. A crocodile
of similar size (if such a thing were possible) would almost
certainly have tried to upset it, or at any rate knock the
man overboard. The trade in sharks’ fins, like most of the
other articles hitherto mentioned, is carried on exclusively
with China. Prices range from $8 to $25 a picul, and
exports were, in 1882, $837 ; 1883, $1,105 5 and 1884,

Sponges. These are frequently washed ashore all along
the coast line wherever much coral exists. One or two
pretty fair specimens have been seen ; but whether sponges
of any real value could be obtained by systematic searching,
or by a slight amount of culture, remains yet to be seen.

Edible oysters. In some places these abound to such an
extent that there are as many lying on the rocky shores as
there are stones, and at first sight it is difficult to distin-
guish one from the other; boat-loads could be obtained
without any trouble. They are very good eating, and quite
innoxious, so long, that is, as the rock variety is procured.
There is another kind found adhering in masses to the
roots and branches of the mangrove trees, which ought to
be carefully avoided, for, if eaten, this oyster occasionally
produces an attack very much resembling colic, and even
more dangerous. When dried, however, its harmful
qualities are to some extent destroyed. It is expected
that a certain amount of export business will in time be
developed in both these kinds of oysters.

Fish. Nowhere in the world, probably, is there such a
quantity and variety of good eatable fish swarming in the
seas as off the east coast of North Borneo. This is
mainly owing to the wide extent of shallow seas (up to one

Trade and Products—Sea Produce. 65

hundred and fifty fathoms in depth) and to the numerous

Various of these fish resemble cod, rock-cod, huge perch,
whiting, herrings, &c.; menungin is like haddock ; pila-pila,
soles ; ikan-merah, red gurnet; ikan-parey is a general term
for all sorts of flat fish, skate, flounders, &c. ; ikan-tumbun
is nothing other than the sardine; ikan-blannak, mullet. A
large silvery-scaled fish has the appearance of salmon, but
there the resemblance ceases. A great variety of others have
no synotypes in our English waters, but are excellent eating.
Several methods are employed in their capture : keelong (fish-
stakes) ; hook and line ; serambau (dip-net) ; nets ; casting
nets ; spearing with and without torches, and bubiit (a sort
of trap sunk in the water), are the principal. Of these, keelong
fishing is the favourite when it is intended to capture a
quantity. The principle upon which the keelong is designed is
that of the wire mouse-trap, from which, being once entered,
it is impossible afterwards to escape. A fence or barrier
extends from the shore to the required distance out at sea;
the fish encountering this, skirt along it, and thus find their
way through two outer chambers, till in time they arrive
in the end compartment. When once the fish have gone
into the first chamber there remains little chance of escape
for them, the sides being curled inwards in a heart-shape at
its entrance, so that though very easy to pass in by, it is a
difficult matter to return ; the compartment at the end is
usually round, and about seven to nine feet across. The
keelong is made of split bamboo, driven into the sand, and
lashed together by split rattans, the total length of the
split bamboo at the end of the keelong being usually from
twelve to fifteen feet. Low tide is naturally the time the
fish arc captured ; a canoe paddling up from the shore
frightens as many as possible from the first and second
chambers into the end one, the narrow entrance or door-
way into which is then closed altogether for the time by
men who descend into the water, and put through the
catching operations, with some little assistance from above.
A curious sight may be seen when all is ready by anyone
getting upon the slender scaffolding which surrounds and
surmounts the end chamber, the water below being thick
with fish of all sorts and sizes. The next proceeding is to


66 Trade and Products—Sea Produce.

lash a loose piece of keelong, or bamboo-matting blind or
screen kept for the purpose, to the inside of the chamber
(most of these operations, it will be understood, being con-
ducted under water), and being unfolded gradually,
the fish are driven into a central fold of it till there is
almost a solid heap of them. A basket is then let down
from the scaffolding on top, and the fish are simply bailed
out by the basketful and thrown into the canoe alongside.
Many of the fish manage to get by or under the loose piece
of keelong as it is being folded around them, and this
process has to be repeated three or even four times before
all are taken, and even then there are frequently one or
two so large that they cannot be got with the basket, and
have to be speared. From three to five piculs of fish is not
an uncommon take from one keelong a day; and four
keelongs have been known to yield nearly thirty piculs a
day between them for a week together.

There is an absence of mental strain or physical exer-
tion in working a keelong, which much commends it to
the Malay character, for as soon as the fish are caught
they are taken to market and sold in one lot to the stall-
keepers, and there remains nothing else to be done by
the fishermen during the rest of the day.

This industry is capable of being indefinitely increased.
If the population were larger, and more pressed for means
of subsistence, the fishermen would make larger and
deeper keelongs, and would no doubt catch many more fish,
and a large export trade in salted fish would soon be inau-
gurated. In the south of Borneo and in Java there is a large
inland population, salt fish being one of their staple articles
of consumption ; and their own seas being unable to supply
all they want, they would come to North Borneo for the

Keelongs are a sure method for capturing crocodiles ;
should one appear in the neighbourhood of a keelong, it is
certain to be found inside it during the course of the next
day or two. No matter how large they happen to be,
they but very rarely succeed in forcing their way through
the fencing, as the bamboo is very tough and yielding,
and, owing to its being partly curled round, the creature
cannot exert its full strength. When once caught,

Trade and Products—Sea Produce.


they are easily despatched by a rifle shot through the
head, fired from the scaffolding above. The next most
important method of catching fish in any quantity is
by seining. This mode can scarcely be described as suc-
cessful hitherto, the takes by its means not affording
an adequate return for the capital invested in the seine
and the labour involved. Seining has been principally
practised by Chinese fishermen from Hong Kong, and
there is no charge to be brought against them for
lack of energy; but it has been almost painful to notice
the disappointing results brought by them to market,
after a hard day’s toil with expensive apparatus, as com-
pared with the boat-loads of fish brought in by Sooloo
men, who have simply bailed them out of their keelongs,
the construction of which costs but little money. The
Chinese, however, are very loth to adopt new ideas, and
sooner than practice what is clearly the best mode of
obtaining a good catch in these waters, they give up the
whole thing in disgust and return to Hong Kong. Far too
many young fish are captured in the seine, a matter which
may require legislature in the future.

All the other methods by which fish are caught may
be described as hand-to-mouth ones, or, at all events,
suitable for the supply of the local market only. Hook-
and-line fishing is, perhaps, the principal. When, owing
to want of rain, the water is very clear, the fish avoid the
keelongs, and the supply in the market falls short ; a canoe
with two men lying inside the harbour can always capture
from sixty to eighty catties of fish in a few hours, for
which, being in request, they can easily obtain $3 or $4 in
the market. Serambau, or dip-net, fishing sometimes
results in large takes, but recourse to it is only had in
the off seasonthe dip-net is usually over twenty feet in
width, and is managed by a man sitting in an elevated
position, who when he sees a shoal of fish passing over the
net, lifts it and captures them. The fish thus caught are
nearly always mullet ; eighty catties a day is by no means
an unusual take.

The casting net is usually employed as a means for
providing fish for single households. The correct way of
handling it is a small art soon acquired, and it affords
F 2


Trade and Products—Timber.

good amusement when fishing for shrimps and ikan tumbun
(sardines). These latter fish are very abundant in the
Omaddal district, shoals of enormous size being always
visible. The spearing of fish is practised from boats when
opportunities offer ; large skate and other flat fish, which
have a habit of sleeping on the surface, being frequently
taken by this means, and at night a bright light, either
carried by hand or in a canoe, attracts fish which are then
easily speared, but no great quantity is taken in this way.
Up to the present time the export of salt fish has been
very small, the up-country demand being large enough to
take all that is salted ; but with an increased population
and cheaper labour, a very large and important business
may be expected.

Forest Produce.

Timber.—The enormous quantity of virgin forest in the
country affords an unlimited supply of the best woods for
every purpose. Very full accounts of the woods have lately
been published by the Timber Sub-Committee for the
Colonial Exhibition, and also by Mr. A. Cook at the
Government Printing Office, Sandakan ; the latter is sub-
joined in full.

The following report by Mr. A. Cook gives a fair idea
of the timber resources of British North Borneo as at
present known. He gives the prices at which native or
Chinese labourers will bring timber squared and round
alongside a vessel. The following are the figures at which
a local timber merchant is ready to supply timber alongside
vessels. The difference, of course, arises from the fact that
the merchant has to allow for his profits, &c.

Price per ton of fifty cubit feet of British North Borneo woods, as supplied
by the undersigned free alongside any vessel in Sandakan Bay.

$ c.

Billian in roughly-hewn squares . . . 20 O
Ballow >> 99 i7 5o
Miraboo 99 * i7 50
Kumpass 99 ’ 15 o
Greeting 99 15 o
Russock J » 99 <5 o
Camphor 99 15 o
Serayah 1, 99 12 50
Kruen 99 99 • 12 50
Gagil 99 99 • 12 50

Trade and Products—Timber.

$ c.

Billian sawn into squares, flitches and planks 40 0
Ballow 33 33 33 33 35 0
Miraboo 33 33 33 33 35 0
Kumpass 33 >3 33 33 35 0
Greeting 33 33 33 33 30 0
Russock 33 33 33 >3 3o 0
Camphor 33 33 33 33 30 0
Serayah 33 33 3 3 3 3 18 0
Kruen 3 3 33 33 3 3 18 0
Gagil 33 3 3 33 33 18 0
Penago sawn to the thickness only - 25 0


2$th February, 1886.

(Signed) James McLean,


British North Borneo.

The Colonial Secretary.


14//Z November, 1885.

Sir,—As requested, I beg to make the following remarks
on the timber of North Borneo. There can be but one
opinion as to the future trade in timber in North Borneo.
The supply is practically inexhaustible, and can be
supplied at such a rate as to warrant a profitable trade
with any part of the world.

The‘British North Borneo Herald’ of 1st November,
1884, gives a descriptive list of the woods, and I will
continue the remarks as given in the ‘ Herald ’ above

I. Billian. When newly cut, this timber is of a dark sand
â–  colour ; about 2 inches of the outside of the tree is worth-
less ; very hard and durable, used for all purposes where
strength and durability are required.

The best shingle wood ; considered the most valuable of
all timber, very large, plentiful in North Borneo; ant-

Sinks ; logs are procurable up to 2' 3" and 2' 6" square,
and say from 30 to 40 feet ; but being a heavy wood large
logs are very unwieldy ; supply considered very abundant;
is being exported by ship-loads. I cannot give the weight
per cubic foot, but use the word “ sinks ” or “floats!' In
rafting it is important to know this.

II. Russock (banar). Dark sand colour, which darkens
with age, heavy, rough-grained, durable ; stands exposure ;


Trade and Products—Timber.

a valuable wood for general purposes, posts and beams for
houses, wharves, piles, planks; withstands insects well ;
large, plentiful; sinks.

Logs are procurable up to 2 feet square 40 feet long.
It is plentiful all over North Borneo; a smaller kind of
“ Russock,” more properly named Salangan-batu, is very
common in Sandakan districts up to 18" in diameter, length
up to 50 feet; same description applies.

III. Compass. A heavy, hard, reddish, coarse-grained
wood, not unlike Mirabou, but distinguished from it by its
coarseness and a curious cross-grain ; used for beams, posts,
&c.; large, plentiful; sinks.

IV. Greeting. Outside sand colour, inside blackish
stained, long grain ; very durable in and out of watei' ;
withstands insects well ; used for wharves, beams, general
purposes; grows on the inner edge of swamps and by the
sea-side ; size about 2| feet diameter ; long, plentiful; sinks.

This wood is not now so plentiful in Sandakan Bay,
although 50 or 100 logs are always procurable when re-
quired. Greeting is a very good imitation of black oak,
and might take the place of walnut. It would do well for
furniture. In a new country it is the first wood to dis-

V. Mirabou. A heavy, dark yellow-coloured wood,
becomes darker with age, fine regular grained, very tough
and durable, valued as furniture wood, takes a fine polish ;
large, plentiful ; sinks. Logs are procurable 2^ feet
diameter, 30 feet long ; although considered plentiful in some
parts of Borneo, I have not seen much in Sandakan Bay.

VI. Palawan. Fresh-coloured, fine grain, hard and
durable, splits easily ; good for posts for houses, beams,
piles, shingles ; easily worked ; plentiful.

VII. Camphor. Bastard Camphor, sand coloured,
strong grain ; very durable, much used for house-building,
planks, &c.; large, plentiful, easily worked. The tree also
produces Camphor oil; floats. This wood is very plentiful
in the island called Pulo Bai in Sandakan Bay, and other
parts of Borneo. It abounds in Padas district.

VIII. Krewing. Oil-giving tree, but does not withstand
insects well ; useful for common planks, &c. ; plentiful, easily
worked ; floats.

Trade and Products—Timber.


In making the statement that this wood does not with-
stand insects, I referred more particularly to 'water insects,
teredo, &c.; for planks and general purposes, Krewing
is a very useful wood, and very plentiful all over Borneo ;
logs as large as 3 feet square 50 feet long are obtainable.

IX. Rungas. Dark red with black stain. Valued as a
furniture wood, impregnable to ants, &c.; large; about 2
inches of the outside of the tree is of a light colour and
worthless ; plentiful ; floats.

There are two kinds of Rungas, one with the black stain,
and one without, both are alike good for furniture. The
wood is not plentiful round Sandakan Bay, although 20 or
30 logs up to 18" diameter are always obtainable.

X. Sirayah. (Red wood.} Much used for planks, deals,
and general purposes ; light and easily worked ; very large
and plentiful; floats. Logs 5 feet diameter, 40 feet long, are
obtainable. The wood is not readily attacked by insects,
and is very durable as planks for houses, furniture, &c.
The North Borneo Sirayah or Cedar is much richer in
colour compared with that obtained in Singapore, and is
consequently in demand for the Australian market as a
furniture wood, especially for railway carriages ; it takes a
beautiful polish ; can be supplied in ship-loads.

There is also a white Sirayah equal to the red, but
without the colour; a very good substitute for fir or pine.

XI. Penagah. Crooked, dark straw colour with reddish
veins, tough and durable for ships’ ribs, stern-posts, beams,
&c. ; long and plentiful on some parts of the coast; grows
by the sea-side. The tree bears a fruit or nut from which
is extracted a valuable oil. This wood is ant-proof; floats ;
procurable up to 2 feet in width, though the more common
size is 15 or 18-inch planks. There are one or two other
woods to be had in quantity, which I think should not be
overlooked. These are:

Gagil. White, strong-grained, durable; much used for
ships’ planks and general purposes ; large and plentiful,
easily worked ; floats. This is a favourite wood with the
Chinese, and as it is plentiful it may be considered as one
of the export woods. Logs 3 feet diameter and 40 feet
long are obtainable.

Urat Mata. Dirty red, strong-grained wood. Recom-.

72 Trade and Products—Timber.

mended for shipbuilding, masts and planks; durable;
large, not very plentiful ; sinks ; insects do not touch this
wood. Logs 3 feet diameter 40 feet long are obtainable.
Malays prefer this wood for bottom blands for their boats.

Balow. Brown when seasoned, heavy, hard, fine grain,
durable, easily worked ; used for beams, planks, and heavy
work; plentiful, large; sinks. Logs up to 2 feet diameter
30 feet long are obtainable.

Epel. Same description as Palawan but larger ; not
plentiful; sinks.

Chindana. White, roof and buttress valued for their
resemblance to Sandal wood, used for same purpose.
The trunk of the tree makes good light planks, but not
durable; plentiful, large, or about 18 inches diameter;
floats. This wood lasts well if kept dry, and as it has an
agreeable scent, fine grain, and easily worked, I know of
no more suitable wood for the inside parts of all kinds
of box furniture.

Majow. Reddish coarse grain, strong and light, does
not stand weather, general purposes ; very large, plentiful,
easily worked ; floats. This wood is much used for planks
for houses. Logs 4 feet diameter 30 feet long are obtainable.

Every timber-consuming country (likely to deal with this
country), should keep us advised of the following particulars.

(1.) The qualities which woods should possess to suit
the trade.

(2.) For what purpose the woods are required.

(3.) The prevailing likes and dislikes of the trade.

(4.) Probable demand for the different kinds.

(5.) The trade measurement and prices obtainable.

Meantime we know very little for what purposes the
woods are required. It is perhaps desirable to have a list
of Borneo woods showing for what purpose they are most
suitable. I beg to submit such a list herewith, the woods
being placed in order of quality or suitability.

The following are suitable for furniture and fine wood
work :—

1. Penagah, any solid work, or veneering.

2. Mirabou do. do. heavy.

3. Rungas do. do.

4. Selangan Merah, or Sirayah (Red), any solid work,

Trade and Products—Timber.


such as railway-carriages, ships’ fittings, cabins, tables,
boxes, common cabinets, &c.

5. Urat Mata, any solid work, such as railway-carriages,
ships’ fittings, cabins, tables, boxes, common cabinets, &c.

6. Greeting. Stronger and heavier than Sirayah. (Vide
No. IV.)

The following are suitable for posts and beams for
houses, wharves, bridges, railway sleepers, telegraph poles,
&c., and generally where strength and durability are re-
quired :—

1. Billian. 6. Balow.

2. Russak. 7. Camphor.

3. Tapang or Mangaris. 8. Daroo.

4. Palawan or Epel. 9. Urat Mata.

5. Greeting. 10. Bintangor (especially

for roofing bearers).

The following are suitable for planking and roofing:—

1. Camphor wood, stands weather well.

2. Sirayah (or Selangan)\ Sirayah Merah is perhaps

Merah. too good for flooring, &c.,

3. do. Puteh. \ but being plentiful I place it

4. Krewing. I with these others as quite

5. Gagil. I capable .of taking the place of

6. Majow. pine for such purpose.

7. Madang (Kuning and Sesik).

There are many other good woods which might be
named, but I wish to name only those which can be
supplied in quantity.

I am glad to notice that the Court is inclined to authorize
that a few logs be sent home, and I would strongly re-
commend that two or three large logs of each of these
woods I have mentioned be sent to London ; smaller
samples of the same to be sent at the same time. This is
very necessary, for I believe that up to the present time
the woods of British North Borneo have not been properly
represented by the few samples sent home, many of which,
to my knowledge, were cut from young trees, and in some
cases even part of a branch.

With regard to ebony, I do not think that the real ebony
of India has been found in British North Borneo, but there
is a kind of ebony called Arang, a large tree about two


Trade and Products—Timber.

feet diameter; the centre is like ebony and is used as
such; preferred to ebony for veneering and inlaying

It is not plentiful, although several logs can generally be
found. The sizes of ebony will run to 9 inches diameter
and 25 feet long, the wood is tough and easily split and

With regard to facilities of access, &c., the wood is cut
(and squared if necessary) by Malays and Chinese, princi-
pally the former, and hauled by buffaloes or manual means
to the river, where it is rafted to Sandakan Bay, into which
run some seventeen timber-supplying rivers : on the east
coast there are also Labuk Bay, Darvel Bay, and Sebuku
Bay, and on the west coast, Marudu Bay, Kudat Harbour,
Ambong Bay, Gaya Bay, and Padas Bay, all of which
afford excellent anchorage and facilities for shipping timber,
but up to the present time Sandakan is the only port of
export in quantity. The cost is from 10 to 20 cents per
cubic foot alongside; this is for ordinary kinds; fine
furniture wood would cost a little more. This is for squared
timber. Round timber in logs 2 to 5 feet diameter costs
from 3 to 5 cents per cubic foot.

The shipping should be done by the crew, as it is some-
times difficult to get coolies used to the work; shipping
should not cost more than 2 or 3 cents a foot.

The present export duty is 50 cents per ton of 50 cubic
foot ; this is supposed to be on timber taken from private

Special Permits are given to cut timber on Crown Lands,
cost about 25 cents per acre per annum, with an extra
export duty of 50 cents per ton.

Every timber-carrying vessel should have two bow ports
capable of taking in logs up to 4 feet diameter, and should
also have a steam winch or other powerful tackle.

A sailing vessel of say 700 or 800 tons could bring from
England a cargo of coals for Singapore ; 100 tons to ballast
her to Sandakan, where she could load timber for London
or elsewhere.

In reading any description or report on British North
Borneo woods it should be remembered that almost the
whole country is one gigantic forest, and few people, if any,

Trade and Products—Rattans.


have any accurate knowledge of the quantity and different
kinds of wood.

It is quite probable therefore that woods which I have
described as “ not plentiful ” (which remark applies only to
the coast and bays of British North Borneo) are plentiful in
the interior; this may be taken as true as regards Camphor
wood and Mirabou.

I am of opinion it would be to the interests of the timber
trade if some system of procuring samples of wood from
the interior were adopted, and I would suggest that all
inland Native Chiefs be instructed to take every opportunity
of procuring samples of the different kinds of wood, as well
as all other jungle produce or mineral in their district.

Your obedient Servant,


Treasurer- General.

Rattans are frequently found as low down even as
amongst the nebong palms. The quantity collected is
immense, and seems yearly to grow larger; the enormous
stretches of flat land on the banks of the Kina Batangan
and Labuk rivers and their numerous tributaries being the
principal source of supply. The rattan is the stem of
a creeping prickly palm scientifically known as a Calamus ;
several stems of great length sprout from one stool.

Collecting is rarely conducted at a distance greater than
half a mile from the banks of a river, and there are there-
fore enormous tracts in which they are entirely untouched.
The rotan saga is the ordinary rattan of commerce, but
there are several others of more or less value known to
the natives as poodloos, toongal, lissang, lugsekan, and
others. The rotan poodloos has a girth less than one-fourth
that of the rotan saga. Its chief characteristic is that it
grows rather on hillsides than in swamps. It is frequently
made into blinds and mats. Other rattans there are which
are utilised as umbrella handles, walking sticks, &c.

Birds' Nests are made by a small swiftlet of the genus
Callocalia, which selects caves, the larger and darker the
better, for building in. These sort of caves usually oc-
curring in limestone rocks, it is accordingly in this forma-
tion that all the most valuable caves arc found. The nests


Trade and Products—Birds' Nests.

are of two classes, white (puteh), and inferior or black
(manas and itam). Collecting takes place twice and in
some cases three times a year.

The caves in which the swiftlets build are usually of
immense size, and from fifty to several hundred feet high
inside. Some of them are pitch dark, in others there is
more or less twilight. In some of them, notably the
Segaloong Caves near Timbong Mata, the collecting is
done by night instead of by day, on account of its being

The collectors have to ascend the wet and slippery sides
of the caves to the roof, and there to move about with
the aid of rattan slings and ladders, like flies on the ceiling,
in the dim twilight or utter darkness, at a height frequently
of several hundred feet from the ground. Even amongst
the natives really good collectors are rare, but, at the same
time fatal accidents do not often occur; there have been
none for the last two seasons.

A good many mistakes and delusions have long existed
with regard to these birds’ nests, and the caves in which
they are found. It is not true, for instance, that the birds
growing more exhausted as the nests they successively
make are taken away, mix blood with the last ones ; or that
the caves are necessarily situated on the seashore ; or that the
material of which the nests are made is any sort of seaweed
or other similar substance ; or that the first made nests are
of good quality, the second inferior, and the third mixed
with moss and hay; or, again, that white nest left un-
collected turns into black nest. These and other errors,
many of them originated and perpetuated even by scientific
people, have been lately refuted in the pages of the
‘ Zoologist.’

The principal caves from which nefets are obtained are
Gomanton, Madai, Segaloong, Batu Timbong, Baturang,
Sapud Batu, Taparong, Boad Chukai, Karoak, Melakop,
Penungah, and others. The former alone yields from
$20,000 to $25,000 worth per annum. Other caves are said
to exist which, if worked, would yield even more, viz..
Bootong, or Garyangya, Narkeu, Bras Dammit, Phang, and
another said to be fifteen days’ journey through the forest
from the upper Segama river.

Trade and Products—Gutta Percha, etc. 77

The price varies from $300 to $1,600 per picul for white
nest, and from $60 to $150 per picul for black and manas.

Guano.—In the Gomanton birds’-nest cave there is a large
deposit of guano, which on analysis is said to show high
fertilizing powers.

Gutta percha is the hardened sap or juice of several
forest trees ; Dichopsisgutta being the scientific name of the
one yielding gutta of the best quality. It grows chiefly
on poor sandy soil, and to obtain the sap the tree has to be
felled ; rings are then chiselled round it at distances of 15
inches or so apart, from which the gutta is scraped. From
4 to 6 catties is the usual product of one tree.

The experiment of tapping the trees as they stand has
been tried, but the amount collected was very small. The
greater part of the full grown trees of the species Dichopsis
gutta have been felled, but there are a great many saplings
growing up ; these however will probably take some twenty
years to mature. There are four kinds of gutta in Borneo :
but Gutta Kalapei, or Targuk, as it is called by the natives,
the produce of Dichopsis gutta, is the best and most ex-
pensive, and usually fetches about $70 per picul ; two
other sorts next in value either do not exist in North
Borneo or the natives have not yet learnt how to work ;
while the fourth, Gutta Semalam, is beginning to come out
in increasing quantities; it is, however, only valued at
about $20 per picul.

The value of gutta exported from the port of Sandakan
alone in the year 1885 was $24,850, but in previous years
was much more.

India Rubber is the sap of a creeper of the genus
Willoughbeia, which attains some three or four inches in
diameter. It occurs very generally all over the country,
but is not particularly plentiful in any one district that I am
aware of. It grows under natural forest shade, and requires
only about four years to come to maturity. From the
almost complete absence of expense attending its cultivation,
it might well receive more systematic attention both
from Europeans and natives ; the latter have already made
some progress in this direction. The price usually obtained
by collectors is from $30 to $40 per picul.

Beeswax.—The supply of beeswax in the country is

78 Trade and Products—Beeswax.

enormous ; the quantity collected however is but the
smallest fraction of what falls to the ground uncollected
and is lost. Over the whole millions of acres of forest
it occurs more or less everywhere. The bees usually build
in a very tall tree known as Mengalis, and on the banks of
the Kina Batangan as many as forty or fifty nests are to
be seen in single trees. Even of this but very little is
collected, and it is simply impossible to estimate the value
of the wax that is lost yearly.

Bees’ nest collecting is difficult and dangerous work, and
is best done by adepts at birds’ nest gathering. The trunks
of the Mengalis trees are up to 8 feet in diameter, and the
branches are eighty feet and more from the ground. Night
is the time when the nests are taken ; the collector carries
up with him some smouldering weeds, probably of some
kind of artemesia, which he dangles below the nest, and
the smoke seems to have a stupefying effect upon the
bees, and the nest is then taken and lowered to the

The mode adopted for ascending the trees is somewhat
curious ; a long sapling is attached to the tree by three
or four pegs or rivets ; a second sapling is then placed
above the first one, and its bottom end is secured to the two
highest pegs already attached, and as each subsequent peg
is fastened, the man ascends to it and fastens another one
above, and so on, up to the branches, each new sapling
always being secured by two pegs before he trusts his
weight to it.

Accidents are rare, but owing to the trouble involved,
bees’ nest collecting is not very popular; the people never
trouble to exert themselves unless they are very much in
want of something ; but however much the population may
increase, it will always have at its command a means
of supplying its superfluous wants, and the larger it
becomes, the greater the export of beeswax is likely to be.
In the old days, while there was still a fairly large popula-
tion on the Kina Batangan, before small-pox carried away
nearly all that was left of it, 600 piculs a year passed
through one Chinaman’s shop.

Dammer is a resin or gum which exudes from various
forest trees ; it is generally found in the ground below them,

Trade and Products—Camphor. 79

but may occasionally be seen in huge masses, not unlike
icicles, hanging from their sides. A single piece weighing
five piculs has been found on one tree, but necessarily
these large masses get broken in collecting. The value of
the dammer found in the Sandakan district is rarely over
$2 per picul. Further to the north, much better sorts are
found, the dammcr mata kutching (or catseye), of Palawan
being worth $10 a picul, while in Malludu Bay, gum copal,

Barus Camphor is the product of a fine forest tree ; it is
very unlike what is known as camphor in England, and is
much more expensive, a pound weight of it being worth as
much as $20 to $30. It is principally used by the Chinese
for embalming, and occasionally by our natives for the
same purpose.

The tree occurs more are less plentifully throughout all
the forests, but it is only at a certain stage of its growth
that the camphor can be obtained ; this ripe stage however,
lasts, the natives say, for about five years. The quantity to
be obtained from one tree varies considerably, from 1 or 2
catties to as much as 20 or 25. The natives have a saying,
that if a man obtains over $600 worth from one tree, he
will die within the year !

To procure the camphor, the tree has to be felled entirely
and then split up. Looking for camphor trees suits the
Malay mind exactly, as in fact does gutta percha hunting,
and many similar proceedings ; they idle about for days
together, always in the hope that they are just going
to make a rich find, but it is not very often that a party
of camphor hunters come across a tree in the requisite
stage of ripeness. It would appear that the tree has to be
of very old age, probably one hundred-and-fifty years or
more, before the camphor in it develops ; until then it seems
to exist in a state of oil.

There are three allied species of this tree, in which a
very similar oil is found, from one of these the well-known
and valuable cayu putih oil is obtained (barbarously
changed to the cadjeput oil of chemists’ shops in England);
Krewing, from which a very similar oil is taken, and Durum,
the true barus camphor tree, the oil from which also has a
value, but nothing as compared with what it is worth in its


Trade and Products—Swamp Produce.

concentrated state. It is only in Durum trees that the oil
seems to concentrate in this manner.

The natives have many tales and fancies about camphor
collecting; the way in which, after wandering through
distant forests sometimes for weeks without success, they
find a ripe tree almost within sight of their houses ; or after
having had a tree under observation for months, they find
suddenly that it seems to have been ripe for a long time ;
or more particularly, when, having as they believe, estab-
lished the fact of a tree being in the ripe stage, they have
felled it and even obtained some camphor from it, the yield
suddenly ceases. These and like occurrences have invested
camphor seeking in particular with more superstitions than
any other pursuit, and that is saying a good deal. The
Sundyaks, the chief collectors, are guided in most of their
operations in life by good and bad birds, and when going
camphor hunting these omens are more carefully looked for
than usual. Amongst others, perhaps the most curious
idea is, that implicit silence must be maintained during the
whole of the search, or no proper trees will be found, and
any one speaking to a camphor collecting party is liable to
be fined on the spot. On one occasion a party of men
on the bank of the Kina Batangan being hailed as to the
distance off of the next village, gave the unexpected reply,
“ Fine you two small cannon for speaking to us ! ”

Meinyah Tungkawang.—A vegetable fat or tallow which
is extracted from the fruit or seed of two or more forest
trees. These trees abound more or less throughout the
territory. It is asserted that in the proper season tons of
the fruit might be collected floating on the surface of some
of the tributaries of the Kina Batangan, and it is also said to
be very plentiful in Province Dent. As yet, however, the
population, having so much other natural produce ready to
their hands, which can be obtained with a minimum of
exertion, have not troubled themselves about Meinyah

Swamp Produce.

The greater part of the coast is lined to a considerable
depth with enormous mangrove and nipa swamps. One
alone of these swamps, extending eastwards from Sandakan

Trade and Products—Mangroves, Nip a Palms. 81
Bay for sixty or seventy miles, with an average depth of
ten miles or so, contains some four hundred thousand acres.
This great acreage of apparently useless swamp is, however,
likely to be a source of great wealth in the future. These
swamps are everywhere traversable by numerous lagoons,
backwaters, and creeks.

Mangrove grows on what is really shallow sea, and
mangrove swamps should not be, and in fact frequently
are not, marked on the map as other than sea. Mangrove
wood is much used as fuel, and even after paying a small
freight to Hong Kong, is bought there by some people in
preference to coal.

Mangrove Bark is used as a dye and also for tanning
purposes. A recent analysis has shown that it contains
41'398 % of tannic acid.

It is a well-known fact that by doing away with mangrove
swamps much sickness is caused ; but, in addition to the
distance they are from any of our towns, their size is such
that they will meet the largest requirements ever likely
to be made upon them without showing any perceptible

Nipa Palms.—Above the mangrove and where the
water begins to be brackish, nipa palms commence, and
large swamps of them intervene between the mangroves
and the true land. Those nearer the sea are comparatively
small and stunted ; but where the water is more fresh than
salt, the leaves attain a height of twenty feet and upwards,
presenting a very handsome appearance, resembling the
single fronds of huge ferns. This graceful palm is utilised
in various ways, the principal being in the manufacture of
thatching for house-roofs, in Borneo called attaps. This
manufacture is quite an industry of itself, and affords
employment to many natives, chiefly women, the men
simply bringing cargoes of the fronds to the women, to be
stitched with split rattans and made up.

Attap roofs are the best adapted for the Borneo climate,
for, whilst the winds are never strong enough to blow them
away, they afford the coolest protection against the sun, of
any kind of roofing known. Attaps are being shipped to
China, and if they gain in favour, there are the possibilities
of a very large trade being established.



Trade and Produce—Nebong Palms.

Kadjan mats, also manufactured out of nipa leaves, are
indispensable for travelling purposes ; packed up in the
smallest compass when not required, each one is capable
of affording sufficient cover at night for two or three
people, either in boat or forest journeys. They also almost
exclusively form the material for side walls and divisions
within houses.

The young nipa leaf, unfolded and dried, forms the
favourite covering for cigarettes, in preference to paper.
The fruit is eaten, and indeed on one occasion in the old
days, when Sandakan ran out of rice, the people had
nothing else to live upon for a whole month. In taste and
appearance it is something like cocoanut, but much
tougher. Messrs, de Lissa and Sachse have taken out a
patent for extracting a valuable fibre from nipa leaves, but
the matter has never been developed. In Sooloo, salt,
and somewhat strange to say, sugar also, is made from
the burnt stem of this palm ; considerable quantities of
this salt is imported into Sandakan, where the people have
not yet cared to make it for themselves.

Nebong Palms.—Above the nipa, and where the water
is almost fresh, the nebong grows. It is plentiful in low
and somewhat swampy places along the coast, and is
generally a sign of the presence of fresh water in the
vicinity. It attains a height of 40 to 50 feet. The unsplit
round trunks are used for the posts of Malay houses,
while when split up they are employed for flooring, rafters,
&c. As a rule, the posts do not last more than three or
four years, but as the wood is plentiful, and requires no
preliminary preparation beyond cutting to the proper lengths,
this disadvantage is the less felt. The head, or cabbage,
formed of the unexpanded leaves, is a delicious vegetable.

Its utility to the natives will be understood from the
fact that nearly all the houses in the city of Brunei, with a
population reckoned at 20,000, as well as the rough bridges,
or “jumbatans,” connecting them, are built of this palm
over the water of the river of that name. This tree will
be found most useful by tobacco-planters for all temporary
buildings, such as drying-houses, coolie-lines, and so forth,
and some have been already exported to Sulu for these

Minerals— Gold.


Chapter VI.—Minerals.

Gold.—For years past, gold, and in no inconsiderable
quantities, was said to have been found in old days in the
rivers Maluar, Belung, Tumegang, Segama, &c., but it was
not until the year 1883 that any colour was actually
obtained, when it was found by Capt. Beeston on the
Segama. No further move was made, however, till the
summer of 1884, when some Sarawak Hadjis took letters
to the native chiefs of the Segama asking them to point out
the gold localities, and as a consequence they found and
brought back to Elopura a small quantity. Mr. H. Walker,
the Commissioner of Lands, then proceeded to the same
place, and after encountering considerable difficulties and
hardships, discovered it in workable quantities.

Gold in minute quantities has also been found on the
Sapaguya river in Sandakan Bay, on a river of the same
name in Darvel Bay, in the Kina Batangan near Quarmote,
and in the Sugut, as well as other rivers; and when the
country is more opened up, and the proper localities known,
it is expected that a large portion of the north-east coast
will be found to be an auriferous district.

The following extracts from Capt. Beeston’s able report,
dated May 15th, 1886, of his last exploration, will afford the
latest information as to progress of gold discovery in North
Borneo. In his journey up the Segama river he found that
“ the country just below Pulo Kawak is highly auriferous,
“ and covers a large area ; ”—“ the payable area here would
“ prove remunerative work for a large mining population for
“ years to come. Above Pulo Kawak are three islands ; all
“ the beaches here about contain gold, and all would pay to
“ work systematically ; ”—“ every beach on either side con-
“ tains gold, and all of them worth working.”—“ The middle
“ Segama district will doubtless be filled shortly with a large
“ mining population.”—“ From above the Bole the whole
“ Segama river is one endless chain of payable beaches, some
“ richer than others, but invariably the gold is coarse.”—
“ Below Riam Tinaram are several beaches all payable.


Minerals— Gold.

“ All this distance from Giants Gates, and as far as Sungei
“ Belung is a conglomerate country, and where the beaches
“ show red jasper boulders or pebbles, it is a sure indication
“ of payable gold. It would be very hard to prospect any
“ beach in this locality without encountering red jasper,
“ which rock in fact would appear to be an unerring indica-
“ tion of the presence of gold in the locality.” Above the
Sungei Belung “ is a long stretch of river in which the rock
“ is massive block conglomerate. The whole river along
“ this formation would pay to work, and if in the working
“ the conglomerate should be found to junction with slate,
“ heavy deposit might be looked for, more especially in the
“ shape of payable quartz reefs.”

Proceeding up the river, several beaches were passed all
containing gold.

Speaking of the tributaries, Captain Beeston reports that
on the Bole Besar, on the 9th April, a reference to his diary
shows that “ four Chinese with a cradle got gold worth
“ $17 • 20, or $4*30 per man for the day’s work. The Malays
“ were equally successful, comparatively speaking, with their
“ wooden dishes ; ” and of this river he repeats his conviction
that “it will provide remunerative and profitable employment
to a large population for some years to come.” On the
Bole Damit “ the gold is not so much in the river bed as
“ in the country at the forks of the stream ; it is coarse, and
“ from the character of the ground it is likely that small
“ nuggets will be found.” In Rocky Creek “gold exists
both in the banks and in the river bed. Alligator Creek
“ has payable gold at its mouth.”

Captain Beeston summarises by saying that “payable
“ and in some cases highly remunerative diggings exist in
“ the main Segama from the Dusun Campong up to the
“ highest point reached,” and that in addition “ five streams
“ reported on separately contain gold in large quantities.”
“ There can, I think, be no doubt but that the source of the
“ river is in the hills to the west or south-west of Silam,
“ probably between that place and Bukit Madai. From this
“ the inference is that the hills in this locality contain the
“ matrix from whence the gold is washed down the main
“ Segama, and that the hills thereabouts most probably,
“ almost to a certainty, contain rich quartz reefs.”

Minerals—Coal, etc.


Speaking of the country generally, he says that, in his
opinion, it will never pay Europeans to rush, “ not because the
“ gold is not in sufficient quantities, but for the reason that
“ all the conditions of life here are entirely different to those
“ in Australia or California. The white digger cannot travel
“ or feed himself according to his peculiar ideas in this
“ country, and would probably soon lose his health. I am
“ of opinion that, when once the fact of the existence of gold
“ is known, a few white diggers may come here and make
“ profitable work, but a rush of white diggers in a large
“ body should be discouraged. I have no cases of sickness
“ to report during the trip. The total amount of gold got
“ in prospecting the different localities amounted to two
“ pounds three ounces as far as weighed, but more gold than
“ this is still held by the men.” “ I am confident that by
“ sluicing in the Bole, had I stopped there a month, I could
“ easily have got a hundred ounces of gold.”

Precious Stones.—The best authenticated account of the
existence of gems is that of two diamonds found near
Quarmote in the Kina Batangan, of which the larger
weighed a carat and a half. A stone, presumably a ruby,
was said to have been found in the Sugut some years ago.

Coal has been found in many places in British North
Borneo, and there is said to be a considerable outcrop of it
on the Quarmote River ; but so far the only place at which
it is known to exist in an accessible district is at Batu Batu,
in Province Dent, where the seam rises to the surface—
might be easily worked—and is said to be of excellent

Of other metals and minerals, traces of Quicksilver are
reported also from the Quarmote river, which indeed seems
to give promise of being one of the richest mineral districts
in the territory. Specimens of Copper have been brought
from one or two places. Tin is said to have been found
in more than one locality, and no doubt the country, more
particularly the southern parts of it, and very probably the
district surrounding Darvel Bay, will prove to be very rich
in minerals when properly explored.


Ag riculture— Tobacco.

Chapter VII.—Agriculture.

Up to the present time agriculture in British North
Borneo has been almost entirely experimental, but sufficient
knowledge has now been obtained to permit of advancing
beyond this stage, and commencing operations on a larger
scale, with such plants as are ascertained successes.

Tobacco.—About nineteen years ago it was discovered
that tobacco grown in certain parts of the East India
Archipelago was particularly adapted for use as wrappers
for cigars; and Deli, North Sumatra, soon attracted capital
and labour, until the importation into Amsterdam and
Rotterdam, of East Indian tobacco, increased from thirty
thousand pounds in 1865 to seventeen million pounds in
1882, and has since been steadily increasing.

Many fortunes were made in Sumatra by private indi-
viduals, and several large companies sprang into existence,
which have continued to flourish, as will be seen by
the undermentioned dividends which were declared last

Florins. Dividends.

Deli Company, Capital . . . 2,000,000 . . . 100%

Deli Batavia Company, Capital . . 800,000 . . . 105%

Amsterdam Deli Company, Capital . 600,000 . . . 30%

Planters in Deli are hampered by heavy taxation, and
as suitable land is now difficult to obtain, a new field
is eagerly sought by tobacco planters. The first Deli
planter who explored the territory of the British North
Borneo Company, wrote :—“ The first tobacco leaves were
brought to me at Niow, on a very steep high hill, and when
I saw the character of the plant, though only in a few
poor leaves, culled and brought to me by a native, I was
amply rewarded, and knew from that moment that North
Borneo would be a tobacco-producing country.”

Tobacco of an excellent quality has long been known
to exist in North Borneo. The soil, with its covering of
“ humus ” is very suitable, and the seasons are favourable.
Planting takes place in April or May, and in seventy days
the leaves are gathered, so that three months only elapse



from the time the seeds are put in the nursery beds until
the gathering of the harvest.

One company formed in China and another in Borneo
have already commenced operations, and the crop of the
former will be brought to market in a few weeks.

Extracts from recent letters, received Oct. gth, 1884.

Governor Treacher writes, under date 22nd August,
1884:—“Messrs Meyerinck and Funke are no doubt ex-
cellently well satisfied with their selection of land at
Banguey, and particularly well pleased with the climate
and seasons. Indeed the climate and seasons here appear
to excite the wonder of all planters. Reece was especially
struck with it. . . . Gibson too is perfectly well satisfied
with Sandakan Bay, and climate, for tobacco. . . . The
experiment in the Suanlambah conclusively proves so far
that this country will do for tobacco. ... I return to
tobacco, there seems every reason to conclude that it will
do as well here as in Sumatra. When this fact becomes
known, I presume there will be quite a small rush to the
country; as the Dutch Government is, I hear, not popular
in Sumatra, and the land available for tobacco there is
becoming scarcer.”

Mr. Cook, the treasurer, under the same date, says:—
“ I visited Suanlambah last Sunday, and met with quite
an agreeable surprise ; tobacco growing in fields cultivated
like a farm in England. I saw about ten thousand plants
about five feet high just about ready to cut, and 150
more in various stages. Planting is going on daily. Mr.
Gibson is satisfied that the soil will grow tobacco of the
finest quality. Two drying sheds are finished.”

Extract from MESSRS. SALMON & GLUCKSTEIN’S letter,
dated e^th June, 1886.

“ I have the pleasure of informing you that the sample of
Borneo tobacco you were kind enough to show me, and to
let me test, is first class, and in myopinion would, judiciously
handled, readily be adopted by all cigar manufacturers in
England and America as a perfect substitute for Sumatra

8 8 Agriculture— T obacco.

leaf. I have no hesitation in saying that, with a little more
care being taken in fermenting it, this tobacco should
realise from 3^. to 4s. per lb. in first quality brown wrappers.”

Extract from MESSRS. WESTERVELD & Co.’s letter, dated
i$th June, 1886.

“ Although we have seen as yet very little of North Borneo
tobacco, and that in an unfermented state, we come to the
conclusion that the tobacco is fully equal to Sumatra, and
may later on be even better than Sumatra; it will be the
tobacco of the future.”

Extract from MESSRS. H. N. Davis & Co.’S letter, dated
2nd J rely, 1886.

“ Since writing the above, we have sent up to the Colonial
Exhibition and been favoured with a type of the tobacco ;
judging therefrom, and making all allowances for the
fermentation not being settled, we have not the slightest
doubt in asserting that the characteristics are most satis-
factory as compared with those of the growth of Sumatra ;
the leaves are occasionally rather thick and the veins some-
what prominent; the sorting should have more attention ;
but all these faults can be remedied with care. The great
point is, judging from the type we have seen, we can pro-
nounce the growth a genuine cigar tobacco growth, and
with more care will prove a most formidable rival to

At a meeting of Tobacco Brokers and others interested
in the trade, held in the Conference Hall of the Colonial
and Indian Exhibition on 6th August, 1886, under the
auspices of the London Chamber of Commerce, the samples
of British North Borneo tobacco were exhibited with
others ; and a report upon them has been made by Mr.
C. A. Muller, of the firm of Messrs. Westerveld and Co.
This gentleman having been for more than fifteen years
largely interested in the culture of Sumatra tobacco, and
thereby acquired an extensive and practical knowledge of
its management as regards planting, importing, and sale,
may be considered a competent authority on the subject ;
and his report is as follows :—-

“The tobacco grown on the Suanlambah Estate, North


Agriculture— Tobacco. 89

“ Borneo, as exhibited in the Colonial and Indian Exhibi-
“ tion, although not fully cured, promises to become a
“ formidable rival to Sumatra, as soon as large quantities
“ can be produced. The North Borneo tobacco is almost
“ in every respect equal to the Sumatra growth, and
“ certainly superior to that grown in Sirdang and in some
“ parts of the Lankar district. It ranks with the Delr
“ tobacco, which is acknowledged to be the finest grown in
“Sumatra. The leaf of the North Borneo tobacco from
“ the Suanlambah Estate is full grown, healthy, strong, and
“ elastic, broad and well feathered. The colour is good
“ ripe brown ; a large proportion is the rich dark brown, so
“ much liked in England and America ; and a fair quantity
“ also of the light brown colour, so suitable for the German
“ market ; when this tobacco has undergone a full and
“ careful fermentation, the colours will greatly improve,
“ they will become more level, and lose the mottled
“ appearance of the not fully fermented leaf; then they
“ will undoubtedly make very handsome cigars, and possess
“ also the gloss so much liked in Deli tobacco.

“ The burning is very fair, although, as is well known,
“ fresh soft and imperfectly fermented types will at first not
“ burn so white as those properly fermented ; this is the
“ case with almost all cigar tobaccos, Sumatra not ex-
“ cepted ; and I have not the slightest doubt that the
“ burning of the Suanlambah tobacco, after a careful and
“ full fermentation, and if it has not been cut in an unripe
“ state, will be found equally as good as the best Sumatra.

“The flavour and taste is, in my opinion, not inferior to
“ Sumatra, and will also much improve after a full and
“ good fermentation.

“ The productiveness of this tobacco is great; one pound
“ English weight of that shown in the Colonial and Indian
“ Exhibition has produced or covered nearly 500 good
“ middle-size cigars. Thus 2 lb., or say even 2| lbs. to
“ make sure, would cover 1000 cigars. Now every man in
“ the cigar tobacco trade must admit that such a pro-
“ ductiveness is fully equal to that of Sumatra.

“ On the whole, so far as we are at present acquainted
“ with the North Borneo tobacco grown on the Suanlambah
“ estate, it promises to become in all respects—texture,


Agriculture— Tobacco.

“ colour, burning, flavour, taste and productiveness—equal
“ to the best Sumatra tobacco; and considering that
“ Sumatra tobacco has reached its zenith, and that a large
“ proportion of the virgin soil, after nearly 20 years planting,
“ has been absorbed, North Borneo has a brilliant future,
“ the more so as the Sumatra tobacco seems to get inferior
“ from year to year, owing partly to the now limited area
“ of virgin soil, and partly to the enormously high dividends
“ which Sumatra Companies and planters made of late
years, in consequence of which they all plant for quantity
“ and not for quality, while the sorting has been sadly
“ neglected; for those reasons, but more so on account of
“ the extremely high prices which must be paid by second
“ hands, not only the German, American, and English, but
“ even the Dutch dealers (second hands) would gladly
“ welcome in North Borneo tobacco a new rival. Mr.

Harkema, a well-known Amsterdam broker, in his speech,
“ expressed himself in the same way, and was full of praise
“ of the North Borneo tobacco which he saw in the
“ Conference Hall of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition.
“ Messrs. P. Meerkamp Van Embden and Zoonen, also
“ well-known Rotterdam tobacco brokers, who received a
“ small type of the Suanlambah estate tobacco, have a very
“ good opinion of it, and believe that North Borneo has a
“ brilliant future, if it produces tobacco like that shown in
“ the Exhibition.

“ Messrs. B. Morris and Sons of London, an old and first-
“ class firm of cigar manufacturers, state that the pro-
“ ductiveness of this Suanlambah tobacco, of which they
“ received a sample, is on par with the first Sumatra leaf of
“ average crop.”

Sugar.—Whatever question there may be as to the
profitable production of sugar, there is only one as to the
luxuriant manner in which the cane grows. In however
primitive a mode it is planted, it grows with the utmost
strength and vigour, so much so that the minimum of care
bestowed upon it by the natives enables it to overgrow
weeds that would choke it in any other country. This is
probably attributable to the soil and climate being extremely
favourable to this particular plant, which has therefore been
a great favourite with the labour-sparing natives. As it

Agriculture— Sugar.


does so well with them, it can be imagined how well it
would repay systematic cultivation.

Owing to the heavy fall in price consequent on the over-
production of beet-root sugar, cane growing has been but
little tried by European planters in North Borneo as yet,
and nearly all that has- been grown has been sold in the
local market for chewing purposes. Some few experiments
in sugar-making, however, have shown that the cane con-
tains an unusually large percentage of saccharine matter.
Of the canes tried, Sumbelowan (yellow streaked with
green) gave the best results, yielding syrup of a density of
10'5 per cent. (Beaume) ; Tubu Putih (or Lahinia as it is
called in Australia), giving a result of 9.5 per cent.

The possibilities of growing beet-root are now pretty well
known, and its cultivation has been somewhat curtailed,
nor is there much chance of its being increased ; there is now
reasonable expectation that when present stocks of sugar
are reduced, some recovery in price may be looked for, but
it is not therefore to be supposed that prices will ever quite
regain their former level; and it is clear that only those
places that are possessed of the greatest advantages in the
way of cheap labour, cheap land, suitable soil, favourable
climate, and great facilities for transport and export, will
ever be able to successfully compete against the lower prices
caused by the large production of beet root sugar favoured
by bounties.

All these advantages are possessed in an eminent degree
by British North Borneo.

Laborer is always to be obtained at from $7 to $9 a month,
the labourer finding his own food ; this compares extremely
well with Australia, where, for instance, we hear that Chinese
receive a month and rations (or say over $20 per month).

And now that agriculture in Java has received a severe
blow, it seems probable that a large supply of skilled and
acclimatised labour can be had from that quarter, at even
lower prices.

In Cuba and the West Indies a Chinaman’s wages on
sugar plantations are even higher than in Australia.

Land possessing every advantage for sugar growing,
including river frontage, is to be had by thousands of acres
at the very cheapest price.



Soil—there is no question as to its suitability. Wher-
ever cane is grown, from a few stools in a Chinaman’s
garden to the rather large quantities put in by the natives
of the interior for their own consumption, one glance is
sufficient to show how it thrives.

Transport.—There are immense facilities for carriage by
water, both of cane to the mill, and of sugar from the mill
to the ship’s side. Taking Sandakan Bay for example :
the numerous rivers which run into this magnificent
harbour are lined along their banks with hundreds of
acres of land of the most suitable kind for sugar growing.
Mills erected at the mouths of these rivers could be supplied
with cane by the boatful, dropped down with the tide from
the fields above ; and the sugar, when manufactured, could be
kept until a steamer was expected to call at Elopura, when
it could be sent across the harbour and put straight on board
the export steamer, thus saving all the expense of coolie
hire, wharfage, rent, and all other expenses incident on

Climate.— Nothing could be more suitable for the growth
of cane than the climate. Not only is British North Borneo
free from those frosts that occasionally destroy whole fields
in some parts of Australia, but also, owing to the even
distribution of the rainfall, and the infrequent occurrence
of either too wet or too dry seasons, crushing can be in
constant operation nearly all the year round, with the
exception perhaps of a few weeks in December and
January. This is one of the greatest points in favour of
sugar making in North Borneo as compared with other

The chief disadvantage is the number of wild pigs, but
they are not more numerous than in other tropical countries,
and in any case hard wood is at hand, in any quantity, to
make fences.

With all these combined advantages, there seems little
doubt but that North Borneo, when sugar-making is under-
taken seriously, will soon take the lead as one of the
largest sugar producing countries in the world.

Pepper is in course of trial in two or three places, and
that longest planted is in heavy bearing. It would have
been much more extensively grown but for the difficulty

Agriculture-—Pepper and Gambier.


in obtaining slips from the Straits, as the Chinese there,
knowing what a good paying plant it is, do all they can to
keep it to themselves. There are now, however, so many
growing plants, that there will be no further difficulty from
this cause.

Fifteen years ago Atcheen used to be the country ex-
porting most pepper, but the war there has almost entirely
stopped its cultivation, and the population has been so
reduced that even if the war ended, of which at present
there seems no prospect, there is no chance of pepper
growing being resumed on any scale. In Singapore and
Johore the soil, very poor to commence with, is nearly all
used up. In Sarawak the cultivation is extending, and is
a source of great profit to the grower and to the country
generally; but the soil is against any great extension,
except in some favoured spots. Owing to these causes,
the price of pepper is continually advancing. Fourpence
a pound used to be looked upon as a paying price to the
grower ; but for long past the price has been rising about
a halfpenny a year, until it now stands at sevenpence half-
penny per pound, and the profits on its cultivation are
undoubtedly something enormous.*

Pepper seems to flourish in but few countries, Borneo
and Sumatra being almost the only two ; and owing to
the disturbed state of the latter, its cultivation in the
former, and in British North Borneo particularly, seems
likely to be largely extended. In fact, Borneo may, in
time, become one of the largest pepper producing countries
in the world.

Mr. Crocker has written a pamphlet on the cultivation
of pepper, containing much valuable information, which will
be found very useful.

Gambier.—The cultivation of this plant usually accom-
panies that of pepper. There is none at all to show in North
Borneo, as there has never been a single plant there. The
reason of its being a favourite of pepper growers is, that
its leaves, after having had the gambier boiled out of them,
form a capital manure for pepper plants, while to other
plants they are said to be injurious. Of late years the

* Pepper has again risen in price since this was written, and is now at 7|gd.
for black and is. id. for white.