Crowned with the Stars: The Life and Times of Don Carlos Cuarteron, First Prefect of Borneo 1816–1880


In nineteenth-century Borneo, Don Carlos Cuarteron was a contemporary of Rajah Brooke, an acquaintance of Spenser St John and an enemy of Hugh Low. Seemingly, he drew strong reactions from everyone he met. An outstanding sailor and navigator in his youth, Cuarteron amassed a personal fortune in silver by salvaging the wreck of an opium clipper in the South China Sea, then he went on a personal crusade to redeem Christian slaves and save souls in north Borneo. Don Carlos lived through and fought hard to influence the course of north Borneo’s early colonial history. Something of a storm petrel, he was a man tossed by storms, and frequently isolated between rival British and Spanish colonialists, between traders and sultans, and between Christians and Muslims. Crowned with the Stars is the biography of an extraordinary man, an idealist who spurned a life of ease in Europe to devote his life and fortune to pursuing a personal dream. Prompted always by the ideals of liberty and human rights, and a tireless campaigner against both slavery and piracy, Don Carlos was one of the most extraordinary characters in nineteenth-century Borneo. His life story raises important questions on the cost of a wholehearted pursuit of a dream, and on the nature of faith and of success.

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