In The Footsteps of Isabella Bird

The lost documentary

Part Five: Hayward of The River



The Stadhuys Melaka

Isabella soon tired of sleepy washed up Melaka and was keen on exploring the "Native States". Captain Shaw, despite wanting to show her how peaceful the British protectorate was, was not that keen on letting her go to the recently embattled Sungei Ujong until the Dato Klana made his offer to let her stay at his home in Seremban. Captain Shaw then allowed Isabella to travel, rather surprisingly, with his daughters, who spoke Malay. I assume he thought that would be of use to Isabella. Also, perhaps he thought the girls would cheer up the British Resident of Sungei Ujong! He had had a somewhat stressful time. The clincher for Captain Shaw was that Captain Hayward, the fearsome Superintendent of Sungei Ujong’s Police, would escort them.

Captain Hayward had been the first white man in the region and had guided the British Military Column of Captain Clay. The column had been sent to rescue the British Resident of Seremban when hostile forces determined to rid Malaya of white men had besieged him. Captain Hayward was just the sort of beast that Isabella felt safe with when out in the wild, but as for other beasts, she was not so keen:

The elephant, the rhinoceros, the royal tiger, the black panther, the boar, the leopard, and many other beasts roam in the tangled, twilight depths of the jungle...” she said, piling on the sense of danger that she wanted her readers to feel as she went up the crocodile infested river through the dense jungle.


Captain Hayward hunting crocodiles

Not to worry though: Captain Hayward could nail a crocodile with one shot, as he did, just for the sport, as they proceeded up the river. Isabella was much impressed. It hadn't been that long before that he had been shooting “pirates”. The river had been a haven for such people, but not any more as this news item from The Straits Times, January 8th 1875 explains:

We must confess that in reading our special correspondent's description of the march of Colonel Clay's column in Sungei Ujong. It rather jars on one's feelings to read that Captain de Fontaine and his Arabs brought up the rear with orders to burn and destroy everything as they advanced, which order they carried out in the most emphatic manner."

The Straits Times were not known for their squeamishness where hanging the odd native was concerned, but they thought Captain de Fontaine and his Arabs had overstepped the mark. Captain Hayward had been their scout. And later we will come across some more of Captain De Fontaine’s associates that might throw a bit of light on why Captain De Fontaine was not given to a softly-softly approach.

In the next Blog we go deeper into the heart of darkness, or at least take a rather sweaty boat ride up the Linggi.


You can find these books either here:

or here:

All the quotations from Isabella’s book are by permission of the publisher.

If you are interested in finding out more for yourself, a great resource for researching these histories can be found at
and the
Singapore National Archives.

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And please come back here to continue reading the accounts of the various histories that we would have been covering in our documentary.

What I have done is that I have taken the script and turned it into various short blogs with various old photographs and illustrations.

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