Sarawak’s system of administrative divisions and districts dates from Rajah Charles Brooke’s era. It was he who first divided Sarawak into three divisions on 1 June 1873, both to effectively ensure peace and streamline administration and each had its own Resident in charge.
Mainly Englishmen, these Residents were the Rajah’s representatives in the area.It was the Resident who had to keep peace among the different warring groups and ensure that Brooke policies were carried out.
During the Brooke period, Kapit was part of the Third Division (now known as the Sibu Division). Kapit had its own fort, Fort Sylvia, which was built in 1880 primarily to prevent the Iban from expanding upriver into Orang Ulu territory. Fort Sylvia was the seat of government administration and also housed local military and police units. The first officer assigned to lead the administration at Fort Sylvia was Francis Domingo de Rozario (1880 –1911).
The fort witnessed both punitive expeditions and peace treaties. Among them are First Bukit Batu Expedition (9.2.1881), Cheremin Expedition (19.6.1894), Yong Expedition (25.6.1894), Peace-making with Merum (20.10.1907), First Gaat Expedition (22.2.1915), Mujong Expedition (14.5.1915), Battle of Nanga Pila (2.4.1916) and Second Gaat Expedition (5.4.1919). All these culminated in the Kapit Peace-making between the Iban and Orang Ulu (Kayan, Kenyah and Kajang) on 16.11.1924.
After the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the Sarawak State Government assumed administration, retaining the orderly system of divisions. Ten years later, Kapit became a separate division headed by the first Resident, Pancras Eddy Salian.