Untold lives blog

178 posts categorized "South Asia"

09 July 2020

The forgotten Prince of Burma

The roller coaster ride for royalty in 19th century Burma is well documented in British Library collections.  As well as printed biographies in the English and Burmese languages, the India Office Records contain a mass of correspondence, reports and private papers pertaining to British operations in Burma, particularly regarding the reign and dethronement of King Thibaw, Burma’s last King.

Some of these tumultuous tales are lesser known than others  An album of photographic illustrations recounts a remarkable journey by a British expeditionary force through the recently annexed country.  Within this document is an intriguing tale of daring escapes, hidden identities, attempted revolution and a long forgotten prince.

King Thibaw ascended the Burmese throne in 1878 aged just 19.  The princes and princesses of Burma had been summoned to the palace in Mandalay to attend the death bed of his father King Mindon.  As each arrived, they were cruelly executed and buried in the palace grounds.  Over 70 family members and potential rivals were eradicated.  This massacre was most likely orchestrated by the Queen Mother and Thibaw’s wife and half sister, Suphayalat, to secure his place on the throne.

The photographic illustrations of the Mandalay & Upper Burma Expeditionary Force, taken and compiled by cavalry officer Robert Blackall Graham between 1886-7, told of two princes who survived the massacre.  Prince Moung Peng and his older brother, grandsons of King Mindon, were rescued by phongyis.

Portrait of Moung Peng seated in a royal carriagePortrait of Moung Peng, a grandson of King Mindon, here seen seated in a royal carriage.  At the time of the taking of this photograph he was aged thirteen. Photographer Robert Blackall Graham, 1887. Photo 996 (56)  Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Phongyis were Buddhist monks. They dressed in orange robes wrapped around the body, usually thrown over the left shoulder.  Their heads were shaven and always uncovered and they carried a palm leaf fan for protection from the sun.  A phongyi lived on charity, taught the young and lived a life of devotion, in order to be absorbed into the divine essence.

The princes were spirited away from danger and hidden in temples amongst the phongyis, disguised as priests for many years until the British suppression of Mandalay meant the immediate danger to their lives had subsided.  They resided in Ava for a while, but after mistreatment by his older brother, Moung Peng sought refuge with his former protectors in Mandalay.

An astrologer prophesised that Moung Peng would one day be returned to the Burmese throne.  In December 1886 the prophecy was used as justification to rebel against the invading British forces and Moung Peng became the focus of a botched coup.  A plot was arranged to set four fires in Mandalay and draw the British forces into a trap.  One of the fires was mistakenly lit before the arranged date, revealing the entire plan to the occupying armies.  The instigators of the plot, amongst them two senior Burmese monks and several priests, were transported for life to the penal settlement in the Andaman Islands.

Englishman's Overseas Mail 1 February 1887Article about Moung Peng in Englishman’s Overland Mail 1 February 1887 - British Newspaper Archive

Prince Moung Peng, aged just 13, was sent to Dr Marks’ school, a Christian mission in Rangoon. The British aimed to educate the prince in a secure environment and remove any threat he might pose to their control in Burma.  His eventual fate is unclear, but he never fulfilled the prophecy to become King of Burma.

Craig Campbell
Curatorial Support Officer, India Office Records


Further Reading:
Photo 996 - Photographic illustrations, with descriptions of Mandalay & Upper Burmah Expeditionary Force, 1886-87. By a cavalry officer [Robert Blackall Graham].
Englishman’s Overland Mail 1 February 1887; pp 9-10 British Newspaper Archive - also available via Findmypast.
India Office Records and Private Papers: Mss Eur F595/8/16 - Confidential India Office Note on the relations between the Government of India and Upper Burma during the present King's Reign [Thibaw Min, King of Burma 1878-1885].
Oriental Manuscripts: Or 14963 Scenes of British deposition of King Thibaw. 
India Office Records and Private Papers: Mss Eur E290 - Papers of Col Sir Edward Sladen, Madras Army 1849, British Burma Commission 1856-86.
V 16959; X.800/6024: W.S. Desai, Deposed King Thibaw of Burma, in India, 1885-1916 (Bombay, 1967). 
DRT ELD.DS.450930 - Sudha Shah, The king in exile : the fall of the royal family of Burma (New Delhi, 2012).
09059.aa.45; T 2865; X7/1536 : E.C.V. Foucar, They reigned in Mandalay (London, 1946).

 

07 July 2020

The Jacob orphans – lives linking three continents

We continue our story of the Jacob family.

When Vickers and Anne Jacob died in 1836, they left seven orphans aged between fifteen and nearly two.  According to newspapers, only four of them were with Anne in Tasmania at the time of her death.  Amelia Australia Harriet Jacob (1821-1873) had returned to England on the ship Ocean in 1824, probably in the care of the Irvine family. Mrs Irvine was the sister of Thomas Cudbert Harington, Assistant Colonial Secretary of New South Wales.  Harington administered Vickers Jacob’s estate and in 1845 was named in East India Company cadet papers as guardian of his son Vickers Gilbert Jacob. A newspaper in November 1830 reported the arrival of Miss Australia Jacob at the Royal Hotel Leamington Spa with a number of her mother’s Watson relations.

In March 1838 the passenger list of the Portland shows the children of Vickers Jacob returning to England from Sydney in the care of Mr Powis and Dr Clifford - probably William Clifford, an Irish surgeon who served on convict voyages.  The number of Jacob children on board is not specified.

Sydney - view from east side of the cove 1810

View of Sydney from the east side of the cove by Eyre and Clark (London, 1810) Images Online

In 1841 Amelia and her sisters Frances Matilda (1824-1871), and Eliza Anne (1834-1866) were living in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, with their maternal aunt Catherine Frances Watson.  Amelia was married in India in 1849 to Frederick Elms, a Madras Army officer.  Elms retired in 1860 and the couple lived at Undermilbeck in the Lake District with Miss Watson.  Frances Matilda continued to live in Southwell for most of her life, but died in Marylebone, London. Eliza Anne married William Ernest De Veuelle from Jersey in 1856 at Southwell.  After Eliza’s death on the Isle of Man in 1866, their three daughters lived with the Elms family as Frederick’s wards.

Distant view of Bowness and part of Lake Windermere 1801A distant view of Bowness and part of Windermere Lake by Francis Jukes - British Library Online Gallery

Vickers Gilbert Jacob (1828-1857) attended the Diocesan School Lincoln and King’s School Chester.  In 1838 his father’s lands in New South Wales were transferred to him in his absence.  He was awarded a cadetship in the Madras Army in December 1845.  Vickers Gilbert died on SS Colombo off Gibraltar in August 1857 when returning from sick leave in England.

La Martiniere College CalcuttaLa Martinière College, Calcutta from R Jump, Views in Calcutta (London, 1837) Images Online


Archibald Hamilton Jacob (1829-1900) was educated at La Martinière College, Calcutta, and in Lincoln from 1840. He studied for the church at Chester, but ill health set him back and he joined the Liverpool and Manchester Bank.  In 1851 Archibald decided to go to Australia to farm with his brother Robert.  He married Mary, daughter of Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass, in 1853 and they had seven sons. From 1872-1880 Archibald was a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.

Portrait of Archibald Hamilton Jacob - The Daily Telegraph ( Sydney) 29 May 1900Portrait of Archibald Hamilton Jacob from his obituary in The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 29 May 1900 via Trove 

Robert Jacob (1831-1906) left school in Calcutta in 1840 and joined the merchant navy as a midshipman in 1846.  Robert became a farmer in West Maitland in New South Wales.  He married Eliza Lorn McDougall in 1860 and they had twelve children.

William Higgins Jacob (1833 -1918) may have been educated at Christ’s Hospital in Hertford – the 1841 census shows a seven-year-old William Jacob born in foreign parts.  He became a bank clerk in Manchester and then at the Bank of England.  In 1864 William married Charlotte Emma Chapman and they had two children.

Seven very different overlapping lives connecting the three continents where their father Vickers Jacob had lived.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Trove for Australian newspapers
Free Settler or Felon – Newcastle and Hunter Valley history 
Australian Dictionary of Biography for Archibald Hamilton Jacob
British Newspaper Archive 
Baptisms, marriages and burials from the India Office Records have been digitised by Findmypast 

 

03 July 2020

Vickers Jacob – a life in Ireland, India and Australia

In 1818 the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India received a memorial from Edward Cahill, a boot and shoe maker in Dublin.  Mr Cahill reported that in 1808 he had supplied Vickers Jacob, a Bengal Army cadet, with boots and shoes to the value of £10 16s 0½d.  Jacob left Dublin shortly afterwards without having paid and Cahill asked for help in recovering the debt.

First page of Edward Cahill's memorial about Vickers Jacob's debtFirst page of Edward Cahill's memorial about Vickers Jacob's debt IOR/E/2/51 f.1 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Vickers Jacob was born in Queen’s County Ireland in 1788.  He enrolled at Trinity College Dublin in 1806 before joining the East India Company’s Bengal Army in 1808.  Jacob took part in the Nepal War 1814-1815 with the 3rd Bengal Native Infantry.

In August 1817 Lieutenant Jacob married Anne Watson at Barrackpore.  Anne’s father and brothers were officers in the Bengal Army.  During the early years of their marriage, a son and daughter died.  Because of ‘a deep conviction that the climate of India would have bereft me of my only surviving child and of my wife’, Jacob took furlough in 1821 and travelled with Anne and their daughter to the ‘genial clime’ of New South Wales.

In early October 1822 the authorities in Australia received ‘private information’ that Jacob’s request for furlough was a cover for mercantile speculation in Sydney.  This was considered ‘subversive of military feeling and character’.  Unless Jacob could prove he hadn’t been trading, he would have to return to duty or resign from the Bengal Army.

 Vickers Jacob's advertisement in Hobart Gazette 20 April 1822Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land AdvertiserSupplement 20 April 1822.  Image courtesy of Trove

Jacob refuted the allegation.  In April 1822 he had placed an advertisement in the Hobart Town Gazette announcing his intention of going from Tasmania to settle in New South Wales as a general merchant and agent.  The ship carrying his letter of resignation did not arrive in India until 20 October.  In November 1822 Jacob was granted permission to resign from the Bengal Army with effect from 11 July 1822.

In 1823 Jacob was granted 2,000 acres of land in Newcastle next to the Hunter River which became the Knockfine estate.  In December of that year tragedy struck the Jacob family again when baby Vickers Frederick died of a teething-related fever.

Death notice for Vickers Frederick Jacob in The Sydney Gazette 11 December 1823Death notice for Vickers Frederick Jacob in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 11 December 1823 Image courtesy of Trove

In February 1824 Amelia Australia Harriet Jacob, aged nearly 3, was a passenger for England on the ship Ocean, perhaps sent away by her grieving parents to a place they considered safe.

The ups and downs of Vickers Jacob’s eventful life in Australia can be traced through local newspapers, including a challenge to fight a duel and a case of defamation of character.  He published a pamphlet entitled A letter addressed to Earl Bathurst on the subject of hardships complained of by V. Jacob ... in New South Wales.  Two more children were born there, one of whom died as a baby.

In February 1825 the Jacobs sailed for Calcutta on the Princess Charlotte.  Vickers Jacob became an indigo planter at Jessore.  He and Anne had another five children, all of whom lived to be adults.

In June 1836 the Jacobs and four of their children were about to sail from Calcutta to Hobart on the ship Boadicea when Vickers died of a fever.  Anne and her children carried on to Tasmania but on 3 October 1836 she also died.

I can't tell you if Edward Cahill ever received his money.

Our next post will tell the story of the Jacob children after their parents’ deaths.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
V C P Hodson, Officers of the Bengal Army 1758-1834 (London, 1927-1947)
Trove for Australian newspapers 
Vickers Jacob, A letter addressed to Earl Bathurst on the subject of hardships complained of by V. Jacob ... in New South Wales (Sydney, 1825) - British Library General Reference Collection 8154.aa.56.  There is also a copy in The National Archives Colonial Office papers CO 201/167 – digital version available via Trove 
Baptisms, marriages and burials from the India Office Records have been digitised by Findmypast 
Documents relating to Vickers Jacob in New South Wales State Records and Archives 
Free Settler or Felon – Newcastle and Hunter Valley history 

26 June 2020

Researching Women Social Reformers in the Modern Manuscript Collections

Given the fact that for most of history women were excluded from higher education institutions and most forms of professional employment, there is a marked presence of women working in areas of social reform in the archives.  Being excluded from areas of official policy making meant that women used their own intuition to seek changes in areas such as public health, access to education, prison conditions, civil liberties and women’s rights.  They did this through such means as philanthropy, campaigning and protest.

The Modern Manuscript collections holds significant collections from figures such as, health reformer Florence Nightingale, prison reformer Elizabeth Fry and the papers of prominent suffrage campaigners but, as well as these, we hold papers across collections of less well-known reformers.  We have taking the opportunity to examine some of these figures below.

Caroline Norton (née Sheridan) 1808 – 1877 - Law Reformer

Photograph of Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton née Sheridan, later Lady Stirling Maxwell by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company c.1863 NPG x26597 © National Portrait Gallery, London  National Portrait Gallery Creative Commons Licence

The social reformer Caroline Norton, ironically still primarily known by her married name, ran an extensive campaign for the reform of divorce law after separation from her husband left her without her own earnings, denied access to her children and a divorce.  She campaigned for changes to current laws and submitted a detailed account of her marriage to Parliament to consider when debating.  s a result of her campaigning Parliament passed the Custody of Infants Act 1839, The Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 and the Women’s Property Act 1870.  These acts gave women some (but not substantial) access to their children post-divorce and access to legal representation.  There is a volume concerning her separation in the Sheridan Papers at Add MS 42767, as well as various letters from her to William Gladstone in the Gladstone Papers.

 

Mary Carpenter, 1807 – 1877, Education reformer and Abolitionist

Head and shoulders portrait drawing of Mary Carpenter from The Illustrated London NewsMary Carpenter from The Illustrated London News 7 July 1877 British Newspaper Archive

Mary Carpenter worked in Bristol setting up ragged schools and reformatories to help bring education to impoverished and imprisoned youngsters.  She lobbied for several educational acts and was an accomplished public speaker on education.  In 1846 she attended a lecture by Frederick Douglass and became committed to the anti-slavery movement directed at the continuing slavery in the United States.  She also travelled to India where she worked with philosopher and reformer, Keschab Chandra Sen, to improve women’s education in India.  Papers relating to this endeavour can be found at Add MS 74237 PP, and some items of her correspondence can be found in the Margaret Elliot Papers at Add MS 73485.

 

Gertrude Tuckwell, 1861-1951, Trade Unionist and Women’s Rights Reformer

Photograph of Gertrude Mary Tuckwell wearig a fur stoleGertrude Mary Tuckwell by Bassano Ltd, 20 January 1930  NPG x124853 © National Portrait Gallery, London National Portrait Gallery Creative Commons Licence

Gertrude Tuckwell was a committed trade unionist and advocate for women’s rights.  She was president of the Women’s Trade Union League and the National Federation of Women Workers, where she worked to improve women’s safety and prospects in employment.  She was one of the first women in the country to qualify as a magistrate.  Her correspondence with her Aunt, Lady Emilia Dilke, who was also a trade unionist, is available at Add MS 49610 – 49612.  There are also items of her correspondence in the papers of trade unionist and politician, John Elliot Burns (Add MS 46297 – Add MS 46298).

Jessica Gregory
Curatorial Support Officer, Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further Reading:
Women, Peace and Welfare: A Suppressed History of Social Reform, 1880 – 1920, by Ann Oakley. (Bristol: Policy Press, 2019).

Researching Suffragettes in the Modern Manuscripts collection.

The National Indian Association - founded in Bristol in 1871 by Mary Carpenter.

 

21 June 2020

Fanny Barlow’s letters to Papa

Whilst Sir George Hilaro Barlow was governor of Madras (1807–1813) his daughter, little Frances ‘Fanny’ Barlow (1801–1887), was practising her hand at written correspondence, stating proudly in a letter to her father in 1808, ‘I have written all this letter myself’.  Before his redeployment to Madras, George Barlow was governor-general of Bengal, a powerful position in the East India Company, and he is therefore a prominent figure in Britain’s imperial history. 

Portrait of Sir George BarlowSir George Barlow NPG 4988 © National Portrait Gallery, London National Portrait Gallery Creative Commons Licence


Like many imperial families at this time, the lives of his female relatives are less well known and rarely are we attentive to the voices of their children.  However, family history, through the use of personal papers and archives, can help bring them to the fore.  This blog post illustrates how the British Library’s catalogue can be used to begin to build up a picture of Fanny’s life.

Fanny was one of fifteen children, and the fourth daughter, born to George and his wife Elizabeth née Smith.  Her letters, along with the rest of the family’s papers, are held in the India Office Records and Private Papers, and they provide a new perspective, a unique view into the ways that 19th-century girls put their epistolary skills to use in order to maintain a sense of connection and intimacy with parents who lived thousands of miles away.  For young Fanny, her letters were often the only means of regular communication with her ‘dear Papa’.

First page of a letter from Fanny to George Barlow  1808British Library India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F176. First page of a letter from Fanny to George Barlow, 1808 (photograph taken by the author).


British children born in India were increasingly sent to live with their extended family in Britain, owing to growing concerns about the effect of the tropical climate and so-called ‘native’ influence on their bodies and minds.  After completing their education, the children of imperial families sometimes returned to India to follow in the footsteps of their parents.  But until then, they were entrusted to relatives in Britain who also wrote letters to the parents reporting on their development.  For example, Fanny’s uncle, Reverend Thomas Barlow, assured George that ‘the air of Devon perfectly agrees with [her], [and] her constitution does not betray any symptoms of her having been born in India’.  This guardianship of the Barlow children which fell upon aunts, uncles, and grandparents, served the dual purpose of enabling George to carry out his duties on the Indian subcontinent whilst also protecting Fanny and her siblings from the perceived ‘perils’ of growing up in a colonial environment.

Additional pages of the letter from Fanny to George Barlow 1808

British Library India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F176. Additional pages of the letter from Fanny to George Barlow, 1808 (photograph taken by the author).

The Barlow children’s letter-writing was prolific, covering a variety of topics, everything from their daily routines to musical accomplishments and thoughts on what they were reading.   George would have been sent reams of personal and business correspondence, so Fanny had to work hard to gain his attention.  In 1811, four years into his governorship in Madras and when Fanny was nine years old, she wrote strategically to George to coax a much-awaited reply from him: ‘I do not recollect that I ever received more than one letter from you, and it will give me great pleasure to receive an answer to this’.  Fanny’s life with her extended family in Devon and London was so disparate from her father’s in India, but letters helped her to fill the void between them… even if his replies were not as frequent as she would have liked.

Ellen Smith
Funded Midlands4Cities AHRC DTP PhD student at the University of Leicester, researching family life in British India c. 1790–1920.


Further reading:
British Library India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F176: Papers of Sir George Barlow, East India Company servant, Bengal from 1778; Governor-General of Bengal 1805-07; Governor of Madras 1807-13; and papers of his children, 1781–1860.  Particularly, Mss Eur F176/1-24: Family Correspondence, c. 1781–1846.
To trace Fanny’s letter-writing into adulthood see also, Mss Eur F176/96-100: Papers of Frances Barlow (1801-87), fourth daughter of Sir George Barlow, c. 1846–1860.
P. J. Marshall, ‘Barlow, Sir George Hilaro, first baronet (1763–1846)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2008).
For more on the Barlow family, but not concerning Fanny specifically, see, Vyvyen Brendon, Children of the Raj (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005), pp.11-40, and for a study on the fascinating love affair that broke up the Barlow family see Margot Finn, ‘The Barlow Bastards: Romance Comes Home from the Empire’ in Margot Finn, Michael Lobban, and Jenny Bourne Taylor (eds.), Legitimacy and Illegitimacy in Nineteenth-Century Law, Literature and History (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp.25-47.
Elizabeth Buettner, Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

 

17 June 2020

The treasures of King Thibaw of Burma

In 1885, British forces sailed up the River Irrawaddy in Burma to force the abdication of King Thibaw.  On 28 November, General Sir Harry Prendergast and Colonel Edward Sladen entered Mandalay Palace and accepted the King’s surrender.

King Thibaw and two royal ladiesKing Thibaw and two royal ladies Illustrated London News 14 April 1894 British Newspaper Archive

Thibaw’s palace in Mandalay was a magnificent carved and gilded structure with a great seven- roofed spire.  Whilst the government reported a largely peaceful and mutual transfer of power, other accounts suggested an unruly takeover.  The palace was brimming with priceless treasures, and there was a scramble for its riches as British soldiers took control.

Royal Palace MandalayRoyal Palace at Mandalay Illustrated London News 14 April 1894 British Newspaper Archive

Thibaw was exiled to Ratnagiri in India and saw out the remainder of his life in some degree of comfort.  He wrote to King George V, claiming Colonel Sladen had promised to secure his crown jewels for safe custody and return them when it was safe to do so - a pledge he did not keep.

Many of the regalia were shipped to Britain, but some royal treasures simply disappeared.  Rumours began to circulate of rogue British soldiers securing a portion of it.  They were said to have buried loot in bags within the palace compound, being unable to sneak it past the guards at the gates. Amongst the missing treasures was a gold calf weighing several hundredweight, a crown studded in rubies and diamonds surmounted by a peacock, quantities of precious stones, and an enormous and valuable ruby formerly on the forehead of a giant golden statue of Gautama Buddha.

On 9 January 1893, John Mobbs, an estate agent in Southampton, wrote to the Earl of Kimberley at the India Office regarding a rumour he had heard from a Charles Berry.  William White, alias Jack Marshall, was a private in the 2nd Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment.  He spent two years in Burma on the signalling staff, spoke the language, and left a wife and son there.   White lodged for some time with Berry’s mother-in-law at Wandsworth, and disclosed that he and another soldier had hidden away King Thibaw’s crown jewels and regalia.  The second soldier had given a death bed confession, admitting the theft and burial.

White was working in Kent and Surrey as a labourer and dock worker.  Mobbs sought him out to ascertain details of his story.  White agreed to cooperate so long as the government indemnified him from punishment for the theft.  The government, unsure of the situation and unwilling to participate in a treasure hunt, offered Mobbs a percentage of the treasure’s worth should he retrieve it.

The situation was complicated when White decided to retrieve the jewels alone.  He deemed the government reward insufficient and intended to move permanently to Burma.  Having received his indemnity, he took his last pension payment and disappeared.

Report on the Burma regalia The Glasgow Herald 3 April 1894

Report on the Burma regalia The Glasgow Herald 3 April 1894 British Newspaper Archive

Reports stated White left England for Rangoon in May 1894.  The India Office did not believe he could recover the hidden treasure without their knowledge, though Mobbs feared some could be accessed with ease.

Information on the hunt is as elusive as the jewels themselves.  Where did White go?  Did Mobbs make the journey to Mandalay?

The missing treasure also remains shrouded in mystery.  Did the Government hide it?  Did soldiers retrieve the buried loot?  Maybe palace staff discovered it?  Perhaps it is buried there still?

Craig Campbell
Curatorial Support Officer, India Office Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive also available through Findmypast -
Illustrated London News 7 April & 14 April 1894
Englishman's Overland Mail 9 May 1894
The Lincolnshire Echo 21 May 1894
The Glasgow Herald 3 April 1894, p.7 and 6 April 1894, p.8
The Sphere 28 March 1959
Southern Reporter 7 June 1894
Photo 312 : 1885-1886 - Burma - One hundred photographs, illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force
Photo 472 : 1870s-1940s - Sir Geoffrey Ramsden Collection: Photographs relating to the life and career in India of Sir Geoffrey Ramsden
Photo 1237 : 1885-1886 - Lantern slides relating to the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War
IOR/L/PS/20/MEMO38/14 : 4 Dec 1885 - Memorandum by His Excellency the Governor [on Upper Burma, following occupation of Mandalay by British forces] M E Grant Duff, 4 Dec 1885
IOR/L/MIL/7/9167 : 1885-1888 - Collection 205/7 Reports by General Prendergast and his officers on operations up to fall of Mandalay.
IOR/L/MIL/7/9162 : 1885 - Collection 205/2 Telegraphic reports of operations until fall of Mandalay, November 1885.
IOR/L/PS/20/MEMO38/14 : 4 Dec 1885 - Memorandum by His Excellency the Governor [on Upper Burma, following occupation of Mandalay by British forces] M E Grant Duff, 4 Dec 1885
Mss Eur E290 : 1845-1891 - Papers of Col Sir Edward Sladen

 

15 June 2020

The mystery of the Roebuck

The records of the Marine Department of the India Office (IOR/L/MAR) include logs and journals from thousands of voyages made by East India Company ships.  It also contains a mystery.  Here is what the records tell us about the Roebuck, a ship that appears to have been in two places at once.

Inscription at the start of the Journal of Henry CrosbyInscription at the start of ‘The Jornall of Henry Crosbye’ (IOR/L/MAR/A/XXIX f 7) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

IOR/L/MAR/A/XXIX is a journal kept by Henry Crosby during journeys on three ships between 1619 and 1624.  As appears to have been common practice at the time, the ship’s journal went with its writer when he changed vessels rather than remaining with the ship.  Although Crosby departed England on the Charles in March 1619, having reached Achine [Banda Aceh, Indonesia] he wrote in July 1620 ‘We came awaye out to Sea the Charles the Rubye the Dymond and the Rauebucke… me in the Rauebucke’.  A pencil annotation in the margin, probably added by someone within the India Office during the 20th century, comments ‘The Writer Henry Crosby now in the Raebuch’.  The only East India Company ship that appears to match these two alternative spellings is the Roebuck, a ship built in 1619.  Assuming that this the same ship as the ‘Rauebucke’ in the text (and the mentions of ‘Rubye’ and ‘Dymond’ in the same sentence show the inconsistencies of 17th century spelling), Crosby remained on board the Roebuck in the vicinity of Sumatra before disembarking at Jakatraye [Jakarta] in December 1620.

Henry Crosby writes of departing Banda Aceh on the ‘Rauebucke’,Alternate spellings: Henry Crosby writes of departing Banda Aceh on the ‘Rauebucke’, which a later annotation calls the ‘Raebuch’ (IOR/L/MAR/A/XXIX, f 15) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

IOR/L/MAR/A/XXX is a journal kept by Richard Swan during journeys on two ships between 1620 and 1622.  In July 1620, when Henry Crosby was departing Banda Aceh on the Roebuck, Richard Swan was at least 1500 miles away sailing between the Cape of Good Hope and Surat, India, also on the Roebuck.  When Crosby was disembarking at Jakarta in December, Swan was arriving at Jasques [Bander-e Jask, Iran] over 4000 miles away.  Both of them, apparently, still on board the Roebuck.

Richard Swan describes arriving at Bander-e Jask in December 1620Richard Swan describes arriving at Bander-e Jask in December 1620, 4000 miles away from Henry Crosby in Jakarta (IOR/L/MAR/A/XXX f 22) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

 
An extra complication is added by some date discrepancies within IOR/L/MAR/A/XXIX.  The dates in the first half of the journal have been altered to a year earlier than originally written.  Since the altered dates fit with the dates in the second half of the journal, they have been presumed to be correct.  But if the dates as originally written are actually the correct ones, then perhaps the Roebuck was in Indonesia in 1621 instead of 1620.  Unfortunately, this explanation does not solve the mystery.  In July 1621 Richard Swan was with the Roebuck on the Island of Mazera [Masirah, Oman], 2800 miles from Banda Aceh.

The solution to this mystery can be found in IOR/E/3/7, a volume of East India Company correspondence from 1619-21.  Two letters within the volume make mention of Crosby’s Roebuck, but refer to it as a pinnace, a type of small sailing vessel that attended larger vessels.  While Swann was on one side of the Indian Ocean on the East India Company’s ship Roebuck, Crosby was on the other side aboard a pinnace that, with little regard for future historians, had been given the same name.

Matt Griffin
Content Specialist, Gulf History, British Library Qatar Foundation partnership

Further reading:
Full copies of the ship journals discussed in this post are available from the Qatar Digital Library:

IOR/L/MAR/A/XXIX    

IOR/L/MAR/A/XXX  

 

09 June 2020

Henry John Tozer – India, Rousseau, and sanitation in St Pancras

In late 1904 William Foster took extended leave from the India Office Record Department to visit India, an experience he found most enjoyable.  Foster travelled with Henry John Tozer who was a clerk in the Statistical Department of the India Office.  The pair visited Calcutta, Madras, Trichinopoly, Madura, Conjeeveram, Tanjore, Tuticorin, and Columbo.  Tozer toured industrial premises and interviewed officials, and also studied the inscriptions and architecture of temples.

The principal shrine of the Varadarajaperumal Temple at ConjeeveramThe principal shrine of the Varadarajaperumal Temple at Conjeeveram (Kanchipuram) from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: Madras, 1896-98 British Library Photo 1008/3(321) Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Tozer was collecting data for a paper on Indian arts and industries which he was to deliver on his return to London. On 11 May 1905 the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda, who was on a private visit to England, presided at a meeting of the Indian Section of the Society of Arts.  Henry Tozer read his paper ‘The manufactures of Greater Britain – India’.

Henry Tozer was born in 1864 in Cottishall, Norfolk, the son of an Inland Revenue officer.  By 1881 his family had moved to Romford in Essex and Henry was working as a junior clerk at the Admiralty.  He joined the Accountant’s General Department of the India Office in January 1882 as a clerk, 2nd class.  Tozer then studied at the University of London, gaining a B.A. (Hons) in 1889 and an M.A. in philosophy and political economy in 1893.  He transferred to the Revenue and Statistical Department in 1897.  The Society of Arts awarded Tozer a silver medal for a paper on Indian trade in 1901, and he published British India and its trade in 1902.

Tozer was a man of many interests. He addressed industrial conferences and spoke at the Economic Club of the Working Man’s College in Crowndale Road in the 1890s. He published an English translation of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract in 1895 which is still widely cited today. 

Title page of Rousseau's The Social Contract translated by H J Tozer

Title page of Rousseau's  The Social Contract translated by H. J. Tozer Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Before he married Amy Jane Carruthers in 1908, Tozer lived at the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Square London.  Young professional men living at the Settlement gave classes in academic and practical subjects to poor adults and children living nearby.  Tozer was an active member of the local committee of the Charity Organisation Society.  In 1898 Tozer corresponded with George Bernard Shaw about the appalling sanitation of the parish of St Pancras, and in 1903 about the Education Act.  Tozer wrote to Winston Churchill in January 1903 inviting him to open a debate at the Settlement on the fiscal question – Churchill declined.

Henry Tozer also corresponded with Pierre Kropotkine, the Russian writer and activist who spent part of his exile in Britain in the late 1890s.  Tozer sent Kropotkine a Blue Book on India.

There is evidence that Tozer acted as an informer for the India Office, reporting on a meeting of the London Indian Society in May 1901.  His report on ‘Resolutions Passed at a Meeting of the London Indian Society’ has been preserved in the records of the Public and Judicial Department.

Tozer was promoted to senior clerk in 1911 and principal in 1921.  He worked in the military, public works, revenue and industries and overseas departments. He retired in 1924.

In 1939 Henry and Amy Tozer were living in Kensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill, with a resident cook, parlour maid, and housemaid.  Henry Tozer died in October 1943.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Passmore Edwards Settlement
Nigel Scotland, Squires in the Slums - Settlements and Missions in Late Victorian Britain (London, 2007)
Dinyar Phiroze Patel, 2015. The Grand Old Man: Dadabhai Naoroji and the Evolution of the Demand for Indian Self-Government. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Resolutions passed at a Conference of the London Indian Society; report on the meeting by H. J. Tozer, May 1901 - IOR/L/PJ/6/570, File 970
British Newspaper Archive

 

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