Letter from King of Johor, Abdul Jalil Shah IV (r. 1699-1720), to Governor-General Abraham van Riebeeck, 26 April 1713


Translation of a letter in Malay written by the King of Johor to His Excellency the Lord Governor-General Abraham van Riebeeck and the Gentlemen Councillors of Asia.


This letter of pure and unsullied friendship as well as of absolute and enduring amity is from Yang Di Pertuan Besar Sri Sultan Abdul Jalil Ra’yat Shah, possessor and ruler of the royal throne of Johor and Pahang, and all the other realms and territories pertaining [231] to these to one of our good friends the Lord Governor-General in Batavia and to the Councillors of Asia who etc. etc.

 Moreover, I take this opportunity to announce to the Lord Governor-General and Councillors of Asia that at the present moment I have dispatched Orang Kaya Sri Maradi Raja and Orang Kaya Sri Biji Wangsa, and Raja Lila Putra to Batavia to meet the Lord Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia to add yet more expressions of reciprocal ties and alliance and as a token of respect and friendship, besides learning more about the wellbeing of the Lord Governor-General according to ancient custom, as the alliance has not not altered in one single point nor has it been injured by any misunderstanding or dispute. In fact, the contrary is true and in its full force it will continue steadfast and enduring as long as the Sun and the Moon shall continue to shed their light, because the Honourable Company and the Hollanders both above and below the winds have ever been, since days of yore, my friends and [the friends] of those of those who have held high office in Johor and in all matters, as is right and proper, there has always been mutual friendship and assistance.

Furthermore, I request the help and benevolence of the Lord Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia in helping me to [acquire] a consignment of gunpowder and bullets and, should the Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia in their kindness see fit to bestow on me their help and benefaction [fol. 232] in the matter of the Siak trade which was so desired by the Company in the time of Datuk Paduka Raja, I hereby submit the one single request that the Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia will accord the examination of this their priority.

The reason I seek after the truth and veracity of this declaration is because the Company and the Hollanders both above and below the winds have been the sincere friends of the Johorese since days of yore and still live together in mutual amity, unmarred by any dispute about either the contracts or the friendship.

With reference to the trading vessels which want to come to Johor with rice from Java, I have heard that this has been forbidden by the servants of the Honourable Company in Java, and I request the Lord Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia reconsider [this matter], so that these people might not be hindered but helped to sail to Johor every year at the discretion and with the permission of the Lord Governor-General and Councillors of Asia, as the Hollanders and the people of Johor are as one people [233], who are never disengaged from each other and are constantly devoted to one another, nor have [they ever] been torn asunder by differences, but have always tried to walk the path of righteousness.

In this [letter], I announce to the Lord Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia that two or three years ago we chartered a small vessel to send to trade in Porto Nuovo (Makmud Bendar, Parangipettai), Madras, Tranquebar (Tharangambadi), Nagore and Nagapatnam. Her captain (nachoda) was a certain Balappa Modliar, who carried trading commodities belonging to me as well as to the Raja Muda worth 8,000 rix-dollars. We ordered the aforesaid skipper to sail first to Melaka, and in a letter from the Raja Muda addressed to the Governor of Melaka we asked that, should this [venture] prosper, whether one might go to the five above-mentioned places to trade [and that] His Excellency give said ship leave to sail, [and] if not to detain her in Melaka. In the event, the Governor of Melaka did give the aforesaid small vessel permission to sail to the above-mentioned places, and now Balacca/Balappa Modliar has returned to Johor and the whole cargo, both that belonging to me and [234] [that of] the Raja Muda, was confiscated by the Governor of Nagapatnam, which action astounded both myself and all my councillors in view of the fact it is completely inconsistent with and is contrary to our alliance.

Should the Lord Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia wish to bestow their assistance and benevolence on me, I do request you that it be [made] possible for all the goods to be returned, a request that the Raja Muda has already submitted in a letter to the Governor of Melaka, to which His Excellency replied that we should submit this request to the Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia. When Orang Kaya Sri Mara Diraja, Orang Kaya Sri Biji Wangsa and Raja Lila Putra duly address their business to Batavia, my first request is that they may be sent back to Johor, so that I may receive good tidings as soon as possible.

As a token of my unsullied and sincere friendship I send the Lord Governor-General and the Councillors of Asia the following:

3 bolts of floral silk

2 bolts of silk brocade

1 bolt of red silk

1 bolt of green silk

2 bolts of blue silk and

1 bolt of purple silk, I entreat you to accept these with pleasure.