At some point during February 1910, John Brown came to the attention of the Foreign Office in London. Described in official documents as the ‘personal servant’ of English explorer Captain T. W. Whiffen, Brown had testified to the commissioner of the British colony of Montserrat about acts of violence committed by Peruvian ‘captains’ against both Amerindians and ‘English subjects’ (West Indians) working in the Putumayo sector of the Amazon jungle. Having himself escaped to the local capital, Iquitos, Brown told how he had meant to go directly to London to inform the Colonial Office about the actions of those running the Peruvian Amazon Company, but he had now ended up giving his testimony on the Caribbean island instead:
They still continued beating and ill-treating us English subjects, and they treated the Indians in the same way. The cruelties they practised in that place are shameful . . . When we objected to this treatment they told us they did not care what they did with English subjects. They called us pigs and dogs and all sorts of names, and said that King Edward the seventh was nothing but a dog, and that the president who sits in Lima is the King of the world . . .