Sir James Brooke
The ‘White Rajah of Sarawak’, as he was known, was born at Benares in India, but spent much of his early life in Bath, at 1 Widcombe Crescent. After returning to the Far East and serving in the Burma war, he sailed in a private schooner to Borneo in 1838, and proceeded to Sarawak, where he was courteously received by the authorities. Two years later he returned, and was invited to undertake the government of the country. The reforms he introduced improved conditions greatly, and although he was accused of cruelty and illegal conduct, his authority was never undermined. He revisited England in 1847, and was awarded the KCB, and appointed Consul General of Borneo and Governor of Labuan. He severed his links with Sarawak in 1863, five years before his death. A bronze tablet on the facade of 1 Widcombe Crescent commemorates his stay there.