Lord Ellenborough, 1842-44
- Lord Ellenborough served as the Governor General of India from 28 February 1842 to 15 June 1844. He is credited with bringing the Afghan War to an end. His tenure of office was marked by a successful expedition to Kabul which went a long way in enhancing the prestige of the British in India which suffered a lot due to mismanagement of the Afghan War by his predecessor Lord Auckland.
- During Ellenborough’s governor generalship, Sindh was annexed to the British government. This act has been condemned as high-handed by most writers. Ellenborough also coerced Sindhia to enter into a humiliating treaty with the British.
- Ellenborough was recalled in 1844 owing to his defiance of the orders of the Court of Directors of East India Company.
Conquest of Sind:
- During the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth the Amirs of Sind used to owe verbal allegiance to the Amir of Afghanistan. The Amirs of Khairapur, Mirpur, Hyderabad (Sind) were the real rulers of Sind. In 1809 Lord Minto in order to liquidate French influence on Sind entered into friendly alliance with the Amirs of Sind by the terms of which the Amirs were not to allow any French to stay in any part of Sind. The treaty of alliance of 1809 was renewed in 1820. In 1831 Capt. Alexander Burnes as he was proceeding by water route through the river Indus to Lahore noted the immense possibility of British trade in Sind and the strategic importance Sind possessed.
- On his report Governor-General Lord William Bentinck entered into a treaty of friendship with the Amir of Hyderabad (Sind) according to the terms of which the British merchants were allowed to carry on trade with Sind both by land and water routes. It was also provided in the treaty that the British would not transport any troops, arms or ammunitions through Sind.
- In 1838 the Amir of Hyderabad (Sind) agreed by an agreement with Lord Auckland to receive a British Resident in his durbar. But during the First Afghan war Auckland disregarding the treaty of 1832, sent British troops through Sind. The British troops also forced the Amirs of Sind to pay money to the British.
- The Amirs of Sind could easily take revenge for this violation of the treaty of 1832, if they so desired, by attacking the British army after its defeat in the First Anglo-Afghan War. But they desisted from entering into hostilities with the British. Yet Lord Ellenborough sent Sir Charles Napier, an unscrupulous officer, to pick up quarrel with the Amirs of Sind and thereby begin hostilities to occupy Sind. Charles Napier intervented in the succession struggle in the State of Khairapur and ultimately compelled the Amirs of Sind to sign a new agreement with the English by the terms of which Amirs had to surrender a part of their respective States to the Company.
- Napier also compelled the Amirs to give up their right to mint coins for their own States. He also razed the fort of Imamgarh to the ground in order to terrorise the Amirs. Not only that his high-handed policy and his harassment of Baluch tribe ultimately compelled the Baluch tribe to revolt and attack the British Residency which gave Charles Napier the much sought for opportunity to declare war. In the battle of Miand and Dabou the Amirs were thoroughly defeated. The whole of Sind came under the British (1843). The Amirs were all banished from their states and for four years that Charles Napier was in charge of Sind he carried on a policy of repression.
- The affairs of Sind and its ultimate conquest revealed the base .selfish and immoral nature of the policy of both Ellenborough and Charles Napier. Historians, both contemporary and of the posterity, severally condemned the high-handed, utterly selfish and morally unsupportable policy followed by Lord Ellenborough and Charles Napier in regard to Sind. The Court of Directors also did not approve of the conquest of Sind, yet they did not have that much of broadness of mind to return Sind to its Amirs.
- Lord Ellenborough’s announcement of the victory of Meanee, and the subjugation of Sinde, was dated from the palace of Agra on the 5th March. On the same day an order was issued to concentrate a large force on the frontier of Sindia’s territories, at a little distance from that city, to support the authority of the regent, recently appointed under the auspices of the Governor-General. Before the close of the year two battles were fought which placed the whole of the Gwalior kingdom at the disposal of the British Government. Resuming the thread of events at that durbar, after the death of Dowlut Rao Sindia, we remark that his widow, Baeza Bye, adopted Junkojee Sindia in 1827, and that he died on the 7th February, 1843, without issue, and without having named a successor.
- In 1838 he had taken for his second wife, Tara Bye, now in her thirteenth year. Immediately upon his death she adopted a boy of the age of eight, not without the full concurrence of the chiefs and of the Governor-General, and bestowed on him the royal title of Gyajee. The durbar, comprising the most influential men in the state, lay, military and ecclesiastical, was anxious that the government of the country should continue to be administered by the existing council of ministers. Lord Ellenborough, however, considering the geographical position of the kingdom, which consisted of many straggling districts, impinging in every direction for many hundred miles on the territories of the Company and its allies, and bearing in mind also the extreme youth of the raja and his adoptive mother, deemed it important that the management of the state should rest upon the responsibility of a single individual as regent.
- Two candidates appeared for this dignified office, the Mama Sahib, the uncle of the late raja, and Dada Khasjee, the hereditary chamberlain and keeper of the jewel office. The claims of the Dada were strongly supported by the young queen and the ladies of the court, but Lord Ellenborough directed the Resident to inform the durbar that he should prefer the appointment of the Mama Sahib, who was accordingly installed on the 23rd February. This interference in the appointment of the minister involved the necessity of giving him the support of the British Government, while it also rendered him an object of increasing aversion to an influential party in the state, by whom his rival was preferred.
- The ranee and her partisans, irritated at their disappointment, set every engine to work to thwart and harass the regent, and to throw his administration into confusion. It was in the prospect of being obliged to afford him material support, that Lord Ellenborough ordered the assembly of troops on the 5th March, but the receipt of more favourable intelligence from Gwalior induced him to countermand it three days after.
State of the Gwalior Army, 1843
- The great source of disquietude at Gwalior was the state of the army, consisting of about 30,000 infantry and 10,000 horse, with 200 pieces of cannon, commanded for the most part by Christian officers of European descent. It was not in any sense a Mahratta force corresponding with that of the first Sindia and animated with a strong feeling of national enthusiasm, but a mercenary body recruited from the martial population of the provinces of Rajpootana, Oude, and the Company’s territories. It was out of all proportion, not only to the requirements of the kingdom, which was protected from external invasion by its British alliance, but also to its revenues, of which it absorbed more than two-thirds.
- The Government of Gwalior had made repeated attempts to reduce its numbers with a view to the tranquillity of the country and the relief of the treasury, but the troops peremptorily refused to permit any of the corps to be paid up and disbanded, or any vacancy in their ranks to remain empty. They were, moreover, always in arrears, sometimes to the extent of ten months’ pay, which necessarily served to increase the feeling of arrogance and insubordination. The army was in fact too large and too strong for the state. One of the battalions of a brigade of infantry under a native commandant, had recently committed great excesses in Malwa, and in consequence of a strong remonstrance from the Resident, he was ordered to repair alone to Gwalior to answer for his conduct; but he chose to march up contumaciously at the head of his battalion, and the whole brigade was immediately infected with a mutinous feeling.
- Lord Ellenborough pressed on the regent the importance of dealing vigorously with this spirit of rebellion, and offered him the assistance of a British force, but he prudently declined the proposal, from the conviction that the appearance of foreign soldiers in the country would raise a flame in the army, and inevitably lead to a collision.
Reform Measures of Ellenborough:
- Ellenborough had a few reform measures to his credit. He abolished the system of slavery and prohibited raising of funds for improvement of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay through lottery. He increased the salary scale of the darogas and opened opportunities for their promotion, thereby making some improvement in the Police administration. It was for the first time under Ellenborough that the class of officers called Deputy Magistrates was created.
Ellenborough’s overbearing nature, his lack of regard for the Court of Directors and above all his want of good relationship with the Civil servants led to his recall in 1844.