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Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent


While British traders in seventeenth-century South Asia were largely based in the coastal areas and rarely engaged in local politics, by the middle of the eighteenth century their attitude had changed significantly. Clashes with the Mughal Emperor and his provincial deputies concluded with the surrender of Bengal, the richest province of the empire, to Company control. Following three successful wars against their chief European competitor, the French Compagnie des Indes Orientales, the British had gained a greater stronghold in the south and soon a Company political representative or ‘Resident’ was sent to every significant court in the subcontinent. Here they exerted considerable influence and control, pulling strings to ensure that local ministers contracted treaties favourable to the Company.

As the East India Company’s power and confidence grew, many rulers of the subcontinent reached out to successive British monarchs, entreating them to intervene in the actions of their subjects, the Company servants. Letters and gifts, including manuscripts and paintings, were sent between South Asia and Britain, and relationships developed between the House of Hanover and many of India’s ruling dynasties. East India Company officers also presented gifts to British monarchs, and by the end of the eighteenth century the Royal Library had amassed one of the most splendid collections of South Asian paintings and manuscripts outside the subcontinent.

Fig. 13: Benjamin West (1738–1820), <i>Shah Alam conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, August 1765, c</i>.1818, oil on canvas, 290 × 400 cm, British Library, F29

Fig. 13: Benjamin West (1738–1820), Shah Alam conveying the Grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, August 1765, c.1818, oil on canvas, 290 × 400 cm, British Library, F29 © British Library Board

The eighteenth century also saw the beginnings of serious Orientalist scholarship. The Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded in 1784 by the eminent linguist Sir William Jones. Its purpose was enquiry ‘into the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, science and literature of Asia’. The society’s journal, Asiatick Researches, was published between 1788 and 1833. These and other writings by its members brought translations of texts in Persian, Sanskrit and other ‘Oriental’ languages to a European audience, many for the first time. A British counterpart, the Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, was founded in March 1823 and received its royal charter from George IV the following year. Since then, every British sovereign has consented to be Patron and every Prince of Wales its Vice-Patron. Many presentation copies of the publications supported by its Oriental Translation Fund were given to the Royal Library. The Georgian monarchs and their consorts also collected paintings and sketches by professional European artists who travelled to India, as well as prints based on their works – presenting a new, heavily romanticised vision of India to Western eyes.

In 1717, the struggling Mughal Emperor, Farrukh-Siyar (r. 1713–19), strengthened the East India Company’s foothold in Bengal by granting it the rights to trade free of customs duties in return for a relatively small annual payment. The first South Asian paintings to enter the Royal Collection (cat. nos 313) arrived during the first decade of the reign of Farrukh-Siyar’s successor, the epicurean Emperor Muhammad Shah (r. 1719–48) (see cat. nos 3745), although by what means is unknown. ‘A Book with some Indian Pictures’ is recorded among several albums of prints and drawings kept in a bureau at Kensington House with a note that they were ‘deliver’d for her Majtys [Queen Caroline’s] use in ye year 1728’.[1]

Mughal power almost collapsed in 1739 when the Iranian ruler Nadir Shah invaded Delhi and sacked the city. In three further invasions by Afghan raiders, whole regions of north-western India were plundered. With waning funds and diminishing authority, the Mughal Empire became too large to administer from the centre, and soon many Mughal provinces gained virtual autonomy. They were governed by the Emperor’s nawabs (‘deputies’) and nazims (‘governors’), noblemen who became rulers in their own right with their own courts and rituals adapted from Mughal precedent. Following a wave of emigration of all levels of society from the Mughal capital, the cities of Hyderabad in the Deccan, Murshidabad in Bengal, and Faizabad and Lucknow in Awadh, became important regional centres while Delhi, then almost in ruins, declined into relative insignificance. By 1754 both Gujarat and the Punjab had become fully independent of the Mughal Empire. This period also saw the rise of semi-sovereign states in the south, including Mysore and the Carnatic, as well as the northern and central Hindu kingdoms of the Rajputs and Marathas. As these vied for power and dominance, concessions were often made to competing European powers in return for military alliances. It was against this background that, by the mid-eighteenth century, Company officers began to defy the orders of the administrators back in London and extend their influence, entering into diplomatic arrangements, interfering in local conflicts and defending their interests – whatever the cost.


Fig. 14: Richard Houston (1721–75), <i>George III, c</i>.1772, mezzotint, 54.8 × 41.3 cm, RCIN 604355

Fig. 14: Richard Houston (1721–75), George III, c.1772, mezzotint, 54.8 × 41.3 cm, RCIN 604355 ©


At the beginning of the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France (1756–63) new defences were added to Fort William in anticipation of a possible French attack. These were not sanctioned by the Mughal Emperor, and Siraj al-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, ordered an immediate cessation of the building works. When this order was ignored, his troops laid siege to the fort. It was six months before Company forces from Madras led by Robert Clive reached Calcutta to confront Siraj al-Daula. Clive had however already bribed the commander-in-chief of the Nawab’s army, Mir Jafar, and won an easy victory over the Bengali armies in the Battle of Palasi (Plassey) on 23 June 1757. The Bengal treasury was then plundered and distributed among the Company officers.[2]

When the Company’s treaty with the local rulers of Bengal and Awadh collapsed in 1764, its armies again went into battle against the combined forces of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (r. 1759–1806) and his nawabs, Mir Kasim of Bengal and Shuja al-Daula of Awadh. The British victory at the Battle of Buksar (Buxor) on 23 October 1764, enabled the Company’s subsequent takeover of power in the subcontinent. The Emperor was exiled to Allahabad and his deputies forced into subsidiary alliances with the Company. Most critically, Shah Alam gave Clive, now Governor of Bengal, the diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, thus investing him with the power to manage and collect taxes in the most prosperous region of the Mughal Empire (fig. 13).[3]

In January 1767, the exiled Mughal Emperor sent an embassy to England to deliver a letter and nazr to George III (r. 1760–1820) (fig. 14). In the letter, a translation of which survives in the Royal Archives,[4] Shah Alam entreats the King to send five or six thousand English troops so that they may conduct him to Shahjahanabad (Delhi) and restore him to the Mughal throne. He reminds George: ‘We have out of our Bounty granted to the English Company the Diiwaan-ship of the three subahs of Bengal, Behar and Auriseah, and We do not doubt the knowledge of this will give You, our Brother, Pleasure and Satisfaction.’ On a separate piece of paper is a note stating, ‘As it is the established Custom of this Country whenever a Letter is sent, to accompany it with a few Curiosities, I therefore send You our illustrious Brother, and our gracious Sister the Lady Begum [Queen Charlotte] a few Trifles by way of Remembrance. They will arrive after this Letter.’ And he added a poetic couplet, ‘Where lies the Wonder that your boundless Grace accepts my presents, which are pure from Guile.’[5] The gifts from Shah Alam included a nazr of 100,000 rupees which, under Mughal protocol, would make Shah Alam the King’s dependant and put him under royal protection. Yet two years later it was reported to the Court of Directors that the Emperor was disconcerted and uneasy ‘at having received no answer from the King of England to our letters or acknowledgements of his presents’.[6] The directors launched an investigation and, when questioned, Clive wrote to explain that 

the Great Mogul had committed to my care a valuable Present to the King of England, as also one to the Queen, together with a letter to his Majesty; all which Shah Allum had requested me to deliver with my own hand, and I accordingly presented them at a private audience with which I was honored a few days after my arrival.

But he noted that the bad state of his health soon obliged him to go to the South of France. He asked his friends to arrange a response and had no further knowledge of the affair.[7] It appears, however, that the nazr may never have left India and was instead incorporated into the Company’s Bengal funds.[8] The Emperor’s ambassador, who never even received an audience with the King, claimed that Lord Clive presented the Emperor’s gifts in his own name.[9] In 150 years, the Company had gone from being totally ignorant of the meaning of gifts in South Asian culture to actively inhibiting their proper exchange between the Mughal Emperor and the British monarch.


Fig. 15: Thomas Watson (1748–81) after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92), <i>Warren Hastings</i>, 1777, mezzotint, 47.4 × 34.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 640613

Fig. 15: Thomas Watson (1748–81) after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92), Warren Hastings, 1777, mezzotint, 47.4 × 34.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 640613 ©


To those back in England, Robert Clive represented the archetypal ‘nabob’. The word is a corruption of the Persian term nawab and denoted an East India Company merchant or officer who had amassed immense wealth in the East. Clive left England in his teens to become a factor and returned 22 years later as a multi-millionaire. The Georgian aristocracy, including the King, considered them nouveau riche and, as with investment bankers today, there was widespread resentment that the Company’s enormous revenues were shared between so few. The nabobs also faced widespread criticism on the grounds of their immorality and abuse of power both in India where they controlled a colossal army, and in London, where they were accused of using bribes to influence Parliament. This disquiet soon came to a head. Following the takeover of Bengal, the Company substantially increased taxes in the region at a time of severe drought. The result was catastrophic: between 1769 and 1773 a great famine swept Bengal, killing an estimated ten million people. In notes George III made from a letter received from India, he recorded that there were ‘many reasons alleged for this severe calamity, particularly the monopoly of Cotton by the servants of the Company, and the unfair means of raising the price of grain’.[10] The Company’s tax revenue fell severely short of its forecast, and, with the enormous costs of their military exploits, the Company’s finances faced total ruin.[11]

As knowledge of this disaster spread, 30 banks across Europe collapsed.[12] The global financial crisis intensified and the British government had to decide whether the East India Company should be allowed to go under. Clive was summoned before Parliament in May 1772. He claimed he had never participated in corruption and was solely motivated by his sense of duty:

If the administration had done their duty we should not now have heard a speech from the Throne intimating the necessity of Parliamentary interposition to save our possessions in India from impending ruin [...] I say frankly that I am not ashamed of any of the means which I have employed, and that I would use them again under the circumstances.[13]

With many MPs holding shares in the East India Company, orders were given in 1773 for the first government corporate bailout. The Company was saved by public money, but Parliament passed a Regulating Act to legislate for the reorganisation of the Company’s administration.[14] This included making the Governor of Bengal, the largest and most profitable presidency, superior to those of Madras and Bombay. He would be advised by a Supreme Council in London that would include members appointed by the King.       

Warren Hastings (1732–1818) (fig. 15) was appointed the first Governor-General of Bengal to oversee the Company’s reform. Yet the scandal of corruption did not go away and soon he too became the object of allegations of misconduct and financial mismanagement. In 1779, the King wrote that ‘the Company is ruined and Parliament turned to ridicule unless Mr. Hastings is instantly removed from his situation’.[15] Following a painful defeat in the First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–82), Charles James Fox attempted to nationalise the Company in his 1783 India Bill, proposing to place its management under a group of parliamentary-appointed commissioners. Owing to the intervention of George III, the bill was defeated and Fox’s coalition administration fell. The following year William Pitt the Younger introduced his India Act to bring the Company under Crown administration. The act established a Board of Control made up of six members of the King’s Privy Council ‘to check, superintend and control all acts, operations and concerns which in any wise related to the civil and military Government, or revenues of the territories and possessions of the East India Company’.[16]



Hastings returned to England in 1785 to face impeachment. Twenty-two charges of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’ were made against him, grouped under the headings ‘Benares’, ‘Begums’, ‘Bribes’ and ‘Presents’. The Benares accusation related to his mistreatment of Chet Singh, the Rajah of Benares (modern Varanasi), and the Resident, Francis Fowke. The earliest Hindu texts in the Royal Library (cat. no. 46) were presented to George III in 1784 by Francis Fowke’s uncle John Walsh (1726–95), a wealthy nabob and former secretary to Robert Clive now living between his Mayfair townhouse and his estate in Berkshire. With the manuscripts (which were among the earliest Hindu texts to arrive in Britain) John Walsh sent the King ‘a little tract never published concerning the several appointments of my nephew to Benares, and removals from thence, as it exhibits an Historic Drama in which our chief political agents in India are not only the characters, but by singular concurrence the writers of their own parts’.[17] Despite earlier calling for his resignation, George III’s personal views towards Hastings were favourable. A friend privately assured Hastings that ‘the King speaks of you in the warmest terms’,[18] although, in the words of one interested peer, the King remained ‘very guarded and reserved on the subject.’[19] That same year, Hastings’ wife Marian presented Queen Charlotte with several pieces of ivory furniture acquired from Mani Begum, widow of the late Nawab of Bengal, including a state bed ‘which exceeds anything in grandeur seen in this country’.[20]

Hastings’ seven-year trial in the House of Lords made the Company’s rule in India a matter for public debate. Edmund Burke denounced the Company as immoral and dishonest. However, by the time the trial was over, the French Revolution had diverted public attention, and 180 changes to the peerage, including the installation of a Lord Chancellor supportive of Hastings, ensured the former Governor-General was acquitted of all charges.[21]

Fig. 16: Johan Zoffany (1733–1810), <i>Asaf al-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, c</i>.1784, black, white and red chalk on brown paper,  21.7 × 15.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 913286

Fig. 16: Johan Zoffany (1733–1810), Asaf al-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, c.1784, black, white and red chalk on brown paper, 21.7 × 15.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 913286 ©


The ‘Begums’ referred to in the charges against Hastings were the powerful matriarchs of Awadh (anglicised as Oudh or Oude), from whom he was accused of extorting large amounts of money when the young Nawab, Asaf al-Daula (r. 1775–97) (fig. 16), fell into arrears with his payments to the Company.[22] When Asaf al-Daula succeeded his father, Shuja al-Daula, he was forced to renegotiate Awadh’s treaty with the Company and signed over more than a quarter of his annual state revenue to them in subsidies, a commitment he then did his best to avoid fulfilling.[23] Despite gaining a reputation for decadent behaviour, the Nawab was well liked and Warren Hastings asserted that he did ‘not know a better tempered or better humoured man.’[24] Another Company officer described him as ‘mild in manners, generous to extravagance and engaging in his conduct’.[25] In August 1789, the Nawab sent a letter of congratulations to George III on the latter’s recovery from a bout of illness. With it he sent a donation of 50,000 rupees. Half the sum was intended for the King’s physician, Dr Willis, and the other half was to be distributed ‘in such a manner as His Majesty may direct for charitable purposes’.[26]

While allowing his corrupt ministers to play politics with the British Resident, Asaf al-Daula focused his attention on fostering Lucknow as a capital of art and scholarship. With a ready market of local aristocratic patrons and Company officers, Lucknow became a haven for European merchants who considered it a far less oppressive atmosphere than Calcutta.

The Nawab spent millions building magnificent palaces, mosques, tombs and gardens and rivalled even the Great Mughals in terms of his courtly splendour.[27] It was from the Lucknow library that a significant portion of Mughal paintings and manuscripts in the Royal Collection originate. Asaf al-Daula inherited an impressive library from his father but added to it with his own purchases including a number of imperial Mughal albums and manuscripts pillaged from Delhi in 1788 by the Afghan Ghulam Qadir. A Company officer writing to Warren Hastings in 1790 explained:

I applied to the Shah [Alam II] in your name for permission to transcribe his copy of the Mahbharrut, and was assured that it would have been most cheerfully granted if the book had been in his possession, but his library had been totally plundered and destroyed by that villain Ghallam Khauder Khan, and he added, not without some degree of indignation, that part of the books had been purchased at Lucknow, that is by the vizier [Asaf al-Daula], and upon enquiry found this to be the case, for his Excellency produced some of them to the English Gentleman, boasting that they were the ‘king’s’.[28]

Following Asaf al-Daula’s death in 1797, his son Ali ruled for only four months before he was deposed at the intervention of Sir John Shore (later Lord Teignmouth, Governor-General 1793–8). The late Nawab’s brother had immediately put forward his own claim to the throne and wrote to Shore: ‘I shall while I live manifest my zeal for the Interests of the Company on every occasion [and] in all matters whatsoever I shall incessantly endeavor to manifest my obedience to them.’[29] Shore set out for Lucknow to ‘adjust arrangements’ and installed Sa’adat Ali Khan II (r. 1798–1814) in Ali’s place, citing the ‘notorious spuriousness of his birth’ (it was widely assumed that Asaf al-Daula was homosexual) as justification.[30] 

It was at the time of Sa’adat Ali Khan’s installation in Lucknow in early 1798 that the Governor-General, a wellknown bibliophile, was presented with what was to become the Royal Collection’s most famous Mughal manuscript, the Padshahnama (cat. nos 2634).[31] A memo written for George III some months later described how:

a Book was produced for him [Teignmouth] out of the Nabob’s Library, as a most splendid specimen of oriental manuscripts and its acceptance was pushed upon him. Lord Teignmouth declined receiving it with an observation that it was fit for a royal Library. The observation however suggested the Idea, that as a literary curiosity it might be acceptable to the King of Great Britain & he mentioned afterwards to the Minister at Lucknow, that he would not hesitate to accept it, in the Idea of depositing it in the royal Library if his Majesty would think it proper to allow it. The Book, with five others selected by the Minister, as elegant specimens of Persian writing, were sent to Calcutta, after Lord Teignmouth’s Departure, & forwarded by his Attorneys to Europe. They have been latterly received by Lord Teignmouth, and are now in his possession; he will be happy to be honoured with his Majesty’s orders respecting them.[32]

Teignmouth may have been tempted to accept the prized manuscript, which he noted had been purchased by the deceased Nawab for 12,000 rupees (about £1,500),[33] but Company rules stated that all gifts must be deposited in the Company’s toshakhana or ‘treasure house’ to be recycled as gifts to other local rulers, sold or paid for by the recipient should he desire to keep it. George III did accept the volumes (cat. nos 1, 21, 26, 37 and RCINs 1005017 and 1005018) and they were brought to George III’s library at the Queen’s House, now Buckingham Palace, where they were made available to scholars and visitors. Teignmouth helpfully sent a note with the manuscripts advising where the King might find published translations of the works.[34]

Further volumes from the Lucknow library were presented to George IV by Sa’adat Ali’s successor, Ghazi al-Din Haider (r. 1814–27). Following the acceptance of a ‘perpetual loan’ of two million rupees to the British government on his accession, the Marquess of Hastings (Governor-General 1813–23) persuaded the new Nawab to assume the title of King and formally renounce his subordination to the Mughal Emperor. Hastings further recommended that he send a letter to the British King requesting recognition of his new title.[35] This arrived in 1821 with several gifts, but, when no acknowledgement of them was received, Ghazi al-Din Haider secretly sent a letter and further presents to George IV in the hands of private merchants, assuming the East India Company had intervened in the delivery of the first consignment. Their arrival was documented in The Times:

The Glasgow Frigate has brought to England as presents from the Nabob of Oude to His Majesty, several articles of considerable value, being estimated at upwards of £200,000 […]. The whole are landed and will be presented by Captain Doyle to the King. A bird of paradise alive has also been brought to England on this ship, which we believe to be the only attempt of this kind ever made with success. A bull and cow of overall white breed, which the Hindoos worship, have also arrived as a present to the Princesses.[36]

Amongst the gifts were probably two albums of Mughal paintings assembled in Lucknow (cat. nos 14, 15, 35, 36, 44, 45). Further presents of a sword and three chests of fine fabrics were sent to George IV with Lord Hastings when he returned to Europe.[37] These he presented to the King along with a gift of his own, a sixteenth-century Persian manuscript of the Shahnama: RCIN 1005013. George IV wrote to Lucknow with thanks for the ‘friendly and acceptable letter and the splendid presents with which it was accompanied’, and asked the King to accept a thoroughbred horse and silver harness in return.[38] By the time they were sent, Ghazi al-Din Haider had in fact been dead for three months. When this became known, a request was made to the Company to sell the horse on its arrival in India and remit the takings to the public purse. However, delays in communications meant the horse had already been delivered to the new King, Nasir al-Din Haider (r. 1827–37), who was delighted with his present. 


Fig. 17: John Dixon (<i>c</i>.1725–1804) after Francis Swain Ward (<i>c</i>.1734–1805), <i>Muhammad Ali Khan, Nawab of Arcot and the Carnatic </i>, 1771–2, mezzotint,  64.0 × 38.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 618757

Fig. 17: John Dixon (c.1725–1804) after Francis Swain Ward (c.1734–1805), Muhammad Ali Khan, Nawab of Arcot and the Carnatic , 1771–2, mezzotint, 64.0 × 38.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 618757 ©


The South Asian ruling dynasty with whom George III and George IV had the closest relationship was the Wallajah Nawabs of the Carnatic on the Coromandel Coast at the southernmost end of the subcontinent (modern-day Tamil Nadu). Their provincial capital at Arcot lay just 65 miles west of Fort St George in Madras. In the mid-eighteenth century the surrounding area became a microcosm of the struggle between British and French companies, both of which had key trading ports along the southern shores. Clive took Arcot from the French-backed Nawab in 1751, but wars against the French and their allies continued to rage until the fall of the French capital at Pondicherry (Puducherry) in 1763.[39] The East India Company replaced the defeated Nawab with a British ally, Muhammad Ali Khan (1717–95) (fig. 17) whose descendants, the Wallajah dynasty, governed the Carnatic as a British protectorate until 1855. The Georgian monarchs’ collection of works of art from Tamil Nadu included a beautifully illuminated Quran scroll (cat. no. 68) and drawings of Hindu temples (cat. nos 6970). This was fitting, given that the Muslim Wallajah Nawabs actively supported the holy shrines both of Islam and the state’s majority Hindu population.

In return for British military support in the Carnatic Wars, Muhammad Ali Khan accumulated vast debilitating debts to the Company, and in 1761 he appealed to George III to ‘direct the East India Company to pay that respect to my government, as may enable me to support myself with the honour and dignity as my predecessors […] have done’.[40] The King assured the Nawabs of his support, and in the decades to follow many letters and gifts were exchanged between Arcot and Windsor and a close, epistolary friendship developed. When Clive returned to England in 1767, he delivered separate letters and gifts from Muhammad Ali Khan to the King and Queen (including two ‘diamond drops worth £12,000’[41]) in addition to the unanswered letter from Shah Alam II.[42] They replied with letters of thanks, the King’s assuring the Nawab that ‘our protection [...] shall never be wanting to you & your family’.[43]

The King was critical of the ‘fleecing’ of the subcontinent by nabobs like Clive, whom he particularly abhorred.[44] In 1769 he sent Sir John Lindsay as ‘His Majesty’s Plenipotentiary to India’ to cultivate relationships with its rulers. More importantly he hoped Lindsay would ‘endeavour to maintain Peace in India agreeable to the express stipulations of the 11th Article of the Treaty of Paris’, which had ended the war between Britain and France in America.[45] George III clearly viewed the Company’s wars against the French in southern India as having national significance and being as important as those being fought in America. He thought such conflicts should be avoided at all costs. In a letter to the King, Lindsay wrote that he had not intended to announce his plenipotentiary powers to the East India Company Governor and Council on his first arrival in Madras, but when he heard they intended to assist Hyder Ali in his wars against the Marathas, he offered ‘the assistance of his Majesty’s name and the sanction of his authority’ in negotiating peace treaties. ‘But’, he informed the King, ‘they totally refused to cooperate with me.’[46] The Company even failed to assist in the delivery of George III’s letter to the Nawab. Lindsay complained that ‘the government and Council declined giving me any assistance in delivering His Majesty’s Letter to the Nabob with the ceremony usual in that country’,[47] but assured the King that he himself delivered it in ‘as becoming a manner could be under the present circumstances’.[48]

In reply to this letter, Muhammad Ali Khan wrote a very poignant message to Queen Charlotte in which he described the recent death of his wife. He informed her that ‘while alive she frequently made mention of your Majesty, and … left from her own Jewels, to be presented in her Name to your Majesty, a Cluster consisting of a Brilliant set round with other Diamonds […] with a polished Emerald Drop scallop’d on the surface &  the edge’.[49] These jewels were subsequently included in Queen Charlotte’s will with a separate note by her daughter, Princess Mary, drawing attention to the ‘large Emerald in the Shape of a Shell’ that had been sent from one of the Nawab’s wives.[50] These, and the other jewels sent from the Nawab, known collectively as the ‘Arcot diamonds’, were all sold after Queen Charlotte’s death.

Fig. 18: Charles Turner, <i>George IV when Prince Regent</i>, 1813, mezzotint with engraving and etching, 81.3 × 61.6 cm (sheet),  RCIN 630485

Fig. 18: Charles Turner, George IV when Prince Regent, 1813, mezzotint with engraving and etching, 81.3 × 61.6 cm (sheet), RCIN 630485 ©

Company officers became increasingly unhappy as Lindsay refused to include them in his consultations, and in 1772 the Company managed to have him recalled.[51] Despite the Company’s discouragement, George III actively pursued a relationship with the Nawab. Portraits were exchanged of themselves and their families.[52] The King even asked Muhammad Ali Khan to invest Lindsay and another Company officer, Major General Eyre Coote, with the Order of the Bath on his behalf.[53] Yet by 1777, the Nawab was again forced to appeal to the King regarding the ‘interferences of your subjects with my family affairs’ and requested that George III become the keeper and executor of his will to ensure that his own wishes regarding his succession were fulfilled.[54] The King agreed, and officials in London wrote to their counterparts in Fort St George: ‘You will take care that the original letter [from His Majesty] to the Nabob, herewith transmitted, be delivered to His Highness with every possible mark of respect and with all the ceremony usually observed on such occasions.’[55]

For the next 20 years, the Nawab continued to complain to the King of the unjust actions of the Company and died in 1796 with his debts (over a million pounds sterling) unresolved. Both George III and George IV continued to foster their alliance with Muhammad Ali Khan’s successor, Umdat al-Umara (r. 1795–1801), who was, to the displeasure of the Company, enthroned in accordance with his father’s wishes.[56] The Prince of Wales (fig. 18) sent a letter of support with a sword he had worn as commander of his regiment, along with one of his uniforms which the Nawab then adopted as the dress of his personal guards.[57]



The chief motivation behind the Company’s depletion of the Arcot treasury was to finance no fewer than four separate wars against the rulers of the bordering state of Mysore (Mysura). Hyder Ali (r. 1761–82) seized Mysore from a Hindu dynasty in 1768 and under his son, Tipu Sultan (r. 1782–99), it became the most significant military and economic power in the subcontinent. From their capital at Seringapatam (the anglicised version of Srirangapatna), 250 miles south-west of Madras, they succeeded in keeping the British at bay for almost three decades. Tipu recognised the economic foundations of the rise of British power in the subcontinent and created his own state trading company with a mission to drive ‘those oppressors of the human race’ out of India.[58] He identified with the American and French Revolutions and received a letter of support from Napoleon, ‘full of the desire of delivering you from the iron yoke of England’.[59] It was the discovery of such correspondence and the arrival of French soldiers in Mysore that ignited the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore War.

Fig. 19: Luigi Schiavonetti (1765–1810) after Robert Ker Porter (1777–1842), <i>Body of Tipu Sultan Recognised by his Family</i>, 1801, stipple engraving, 57.9 × 69.0 cm (sheet), RCIN 750587

Fig. 19: Luigi Schiavonetti (1765–1810) after Robert Ker Porter (1777–1842), Body of Tipu Sultan Recognised by his Family, 1801, stipple engraving, 57.9 × 69.0 cm (sheet), RCIN 750587 ©

Having lost the 13 colonies of North America, the national mood back in Britain was fully behind its imperial interests in India. Tipu, a devout Muslim, became the victim of a propaganda war in which Lord Wellesley (Governor-General of India 1798–1805) demonised him as a cruel Islamic despot in league with ‘the vile Corsican’ (Napoleon). In early 1799, the Governor-General sent his younger brother Arthur (the future Duke of Wellington) to lead the Company troops in the final siege of Seringapatam. Supported by the armies of the Nizam of Hyderabad (over 50,000 men in total), he took a month to capture the city. On 4 May Tipu was supposedly shot in the head by a European soldier who robbed him of his turban and jewels. He was found dead under a pile of corpses that night and brought into the palace.[60] The following day, according to one British observer, his subjects ‘prostrated themselves before the body, and expressed their grief by loud lamentations’ (fig. 19).[61]

The subsequent looting of Seringapatam and the dispersal of its riches brought back to Britain are well known. A Prize Committee was charged with distributing Tipu’s possessions, more than 30 objects of which were presented to George III, Queen Charlotte and later British monarchs by East India Company officers.[62] The Prince of Wales was an avid collector of memorabilia from Seringapatam. He purchased a print of Tipu Sultan’s family grieving over his dead body as one of a pair (with RCIN 750593.a) on 29 September 1801, two weeks before they were officially published. He also kept 11 relics of the siege in the Armoury at Carlton House including a flag, swords, guns and suits of armour. The objects seized after the conflict also included manuscripts from Tipu’s extensive library of over 2,000 volumes, most of which were transported to the College of Fort William in Calcutta. Several volumes were subsequently sent to the library established at East India House in London in 1801.[63] From here a number were presented to various dignitaries, universities and other libraries. These included one of Tipu’s 44 Quran manuscripts (cat. no. 65) presented to George III in February 1807. In a letter to the King’s Librarian, Charles Wilkins, then Librarian of East India House, explained that this Quran ‘was selected for the beauty of its writing and illuminations’. He offered the ‘humble request that His Majesty will be pleased to permit its being deposited among the very splendid oriental Manuscripts already under your charge.’[64] The Quran was lent for some years to the Indian Museum before moving permanently to the Royal Library at Windsor.[65] The Company replaced Tipu on the throne of Mysore with its puppet, a young boy from the province’s former Hindu ruling family. Half of Mysore was incorporated into the Madras Presidency, and Tipu’s family and many of his former courtiers were exiled from Seringapatam to the nearby city of Vellore. In 1806, a mutiny broke out in the Company’s garrison of the Vellore Fort, where the rebellious soldiers pulled down the Union flag and hoisted the tiger standard of Tipu Sultan in its stead. Tipu’s descendants were then transferred to Calcutta and some later travelled to London where they were still received as ‘Princes of Mysore’.


Fig. 20: J.E. Coombs (active <i>c</i>.1836), <i>William IV</i>, 1836, mezzotint,  42.7 × 29.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 605525

Fig. 20: J.E. Coombs (active c.1836), William IV, 1836, mezzotint, 42.7 × 29.2 cm (sheet), RCIN 605525 ©


The early years of the nineteenth century saw the seemingly unstoppable Company aggressively expand its control over the subcontinent. The Mughal capitals of Delhi and Agra fell to the British in 1803, leaving the Emperor with almost no military power, only a small Company allowance and the right to remain in the Red Fort. Shah Alam’s successor, Akbar Shah II (r. 1806–37) was one of 70 children of the late Emperor, all of whom now found themselves virtually penniless. His subjects nevertheless venerated him as they had the Emperors of old, and Akbar II was insistent on maintaining the durbar traditions of his forefathers. The British Resident Archibald Seton presented the customary nazr of 101 gold mohurs to the Emperor on his accession,[66] and the Emperor’s court records for June 1810 noted ‘Mr. Seton Bahadur presented Rs. 500 together with the invitation to the celebration of the birthday anniversary of the King of England.’[67] The Emperor later sent a portrait of himself and his sons painted in oils in a European style (cat. no. 72) as a gift to George IV in the hope of receiving the British monarch’s support.[68]

The relationship between Akbar II and the Company was strained. After the Company promoted the Nawab of Awadh to kingly status in 1818, it demoted the Mughal emperor to the ‘King of Delhi’, stopped offering nazrs and prohibited any direct communication with George IV.[69] Struggling to survive on a paltry monthly stipend, in 1830 the desperate Akbar II sent an ambassador, Rajah Ram Mohan Roy, to appeal to the British King on his behalf. In a moving letter addressed to ‘not only Your Majesty but the world at large’, he wrote:

With a mingled feeling of humility and pride […] that the occasion of my addressing Your Majesty compels me to consider myself rather as a supplicant of the footstool of your Majesty’s throne than as a Monarch entitled to assume the style and acclaim the privileges of royalty […] compelled to drag on a dependent existence in a dilapidated Palace […] with means utterly inadequate to support the dignity even of a nominal sovereignty.[70]

George IV was dead by the time that Ram Mohan Roy arrived in London in April 1831, but the ambassador was assigned a seat at the coronation of William IV (r. 1830–7) (fig. 20), a relatively simple affair for a monarch who particularly disliked pomp and ceremony. Roy was finally granted an audience with the King on 7 September, and, although William accepted the Emperor’s letter, he made no attempt to intercede on the Mughal’s behalf. 



In 1833, as formal acknowledgement of the East India Company’s complete transformation from a mercantile enterprise to a sovereign power in South Asia, the British government passed the Government of India Act.[71] This simultaneously brought an end to the East India Company’s role as a commercial body and created for the first time the position of the Governor-General of India whose government was to be known as the Government of India. Under the act, the Company became a purely administrative organisation and the Governor-General was given legislative powers over ‘British India’, a territory now held in trust for the British King.

A year after the act was passed, Nasir al-Din Haider, King of Awadh (r. 1827–37), sent William a shipment of gifts, acutely aware of plans being made by East India Company’s government to implement a takeover of his administration. The first item recorded in the list of gifts was a magnificent sword with a gold-enamelled hilt and ornate sheath set with diamonds and rubies in a sparkling silver box. Tradition would have typically dictated that robes of honour be next on the list. Instead, the second group of items included 26 manuscripts from the Lucknow royal library and, after these, an oil painting, ‘A Portrait of His Majesty the King of Oude – with gilded Frame’. A selection of jewel-encrusted furniture, elaborate hookahs, silks, shawls, necklaces and bracelets followed and, finally, though presumably these were not displayed inside the palace, two pairs of horses and elephants, male and female, complete with their own jewelled and embroidered trappings.[72]

The oil painting (fig. 21) was a highly significant expression of ‘cultural diplomacy’. Executed in Lucknow by the French artist Alexandre Benoît Jean Dufay (known as Casanova), the painting depicts King Nasir al-Din Haider proceeding in state to meet the then British Resident, Colonel John Low.[73] The scene takes place in front of the King’s gleaming white palace on the banks of the River Gomti. The British Residency sits just beyond a drawbridge and peeping through openings in the trees are the golden domes and minarets of the tombs of old Lucknow. At the centre of the canvas, emblazed in a sunburst, is Nasir al-Din Haider sitting atop a heavily draped elephant. He wears a European-style crown and jewelled collar over a crimson velvet and ermine robe, one arm open and outstretched towards the Resident. Low approaches the King on his own lumbering elephant, standing in salutation with his bicorn hat raised above his head, his other hand firmly gripping the front of his howdah. King Nasir al-Din Haider explained to Colonel Low that the work

may be considered as a symbol of my friendship and regard for the Honorable Company’s Government and as the exhibition of it in England, and the European countries, will be calculated to spread the fame of the union subsisting between the two states, I am desirous that some person should be on the spot to explain all the details of it minutely when His Majesty shall look at it, because merely to see the painting without explanation, would not be sufficient. I also wish to have the picture engraved by the most scientific artist of London, which city may God preserve in peace.[74]

After a four-month journey from Calcutta the presents landed in London in August 1835 and were delivered to the warehouses at West India docks. Their arrival was noted by The Times under the headline ‘Magnificent Presents from the King of Oude to His Majesty William IV’ and their worth estimated at £80,000.[75] The horses were delivered to the stud at Hampton Court Palace and the elephants sent to the Regent’s Park and Surrey zoos. Two documents were missing, however: the Lucknow envoy’s credentials, essential to obtain an audience with the King, and the letter from Nasir al-Din Haider that contained the list of presents. These papers had been held back in Calcutta and it was not until the following January, a year after the gifts had been packed up, that the letters finally arrived at the East India Company’s headquarters in London. Even then, they were not released until the beginning of March 1836.

Although the gifts from Lucknow had been sanctioned by the Governor-General in Calcutta, officials in London deemed them politically unwelcome and decided that they should be declined.[76] William IV’s secretary wrote to Sir John Cam Hobhouse, then President of the East India Company’s Board of Control, that ‘the King would be extremely sorry to hurt the feelings [...] of any person, but he cannot encourage acts of courtesy and friendship which circumstances prevent him from reciprocating, still less deceive [Nasir al-Din Haider] by appearing to hold out expectations of support which may be inconsistent with the views and policy of the Government of India’.[77] On 16 March 1836 Nasir al-Din Haider’s envoy was finally accredited to William IV. Ten days later William IV drafted a response to the King of Awadh informing him ‘we have thought fit to restore to Your Majesty the Valuable presents kindly offered for our acceptance, receiving only the animals which might be unable to bear a second voyage.’[78] The King of Awadh’s gifts had been rejected and the official reason – that they were too valuable to accept – was considered a humiliation in Lucknow. Nasir al-Din Haider responded that ‘the same kind of presents were sent by my late father to his Late Majesty George the Fourth and were accepted and a gracious letter received in reply along with a beautiful horse’. He went on to lament that if the decision was not reversed ‘much disgrace will be reflected on me [...]  I cannot think that His Majesty the King of England could ever have intended that any slight should be thrown on an ally’.[79] Yet the decision stood and the order was given for the gifts’ immediate return.

Fig. 21: Alexandre Benoît Jean Dufay (known as Casanova) (active 1829–37), <i>The Public Reception of John Low by Nasir al-Din Haider, King of Awadh, 4 March 1834</i>, oil on canvas, 154.1 × 284.7 cm, RCIN 401518

Fig. 21: Alexandre Benoît Jean Dufay (known as Casanova) (active 1829–37), The Public Reception of John Low by Nasir al-Din Haider, King of Awadh, 4 March 1834, oil on canvas, 154.1 × 284.7 cm, RCIN 401518 ©

Meanwhile, William IV had received a further shipment of presents from Mubarak Ali Khan (Humayun Jah), the Nawab Nazim of Bengal. Hobhouse informed the King that he was ‘a stipendiary Prince […] without power or authority of any kind’ and awaited the King’s commands as to the presents’ disposal.[80] Upon reviewing the list of gifts (‘at a value exceeding 20,000£’) the King seems to have had second thoughts and they were formally accepted the following month.[81] In return William agreed to the Nawab Nazim’s request for a title by conferring upon him the Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Royal Guelphic Order and sent a full-length portrait of himself to Bengal.[82] Company records note that although the King thought fit to accept the presents, ‘this Mission following so closely upon that which was recently sent from the King of Oude, and which had occasioned so much embarrassment to the Home Authorities has naturally directed our attention to the inexpediency of encouraging communications between the Native Princes of India and this Country’.[83]

The presents from Awadh were shipped back to Lucknow where, in October 1838, Colonel Low witnessed their unpacking. ‘Every article’, he noted, ‘was as bright and new as when the packages were made up at this place in November and December 1834.’[84] Nasir al-Din Haider never saw their return, having died in 1837, supposedly from drinking poisoned sherbet.

Apart from the animals, the oil painting was the only item which did not travel back to India. In accordance with the King of Awadh’s request that it be engraved in England, in September 1838 the work was conveyed to the well-known portrait painter Sir William Beechey, but his death the following January left the project incomplete. By then, William IV had also died, and it was not until 1840 that the new King of Awadh ordered that Casanova, the original artist of the work, be given possession of it.[85] What happened next is unknown, but the painting was sold at auction in May 1841[86] and bought by a Colonel Palmer who in 1845 sold it to the young Queen Victoria, then in the early stages of her infatuation with India. 



[1] BL Add. MS 20101, fol. 28r; see Clayton 2004, p. 15. This folder includes 23 folios of an early Mughal album (cat. nos 3–12). 

[2] George II wrote a warrant to the Company granting them ‘one Moiety of all the Booty or Plunder, Ships, Vessels, Goods, Merchandizes, Treasure and other Things whatsoever which … have been or shall be taken or seizes from the … Nabob of Bengal, or any of the Forces employed by him, or on his Behalf, or from any of his Subjects, Allies or Adherents’, apart from those things ‘which have been forcibly taken by the enemy from any of Our Subjects’ to be restored to their rightful owners. Signed by the Solicitor General, Kensington Palace, September 1757.  See Hardwicke Papers, BL Add. MS 36131, fols 38–40.

[3] This is a copy of the painting commissioned by Clive before 1777, which was made for his son the Earl of Powis c.1818, and presented to the  East India Company in 1820. For this painting see De Almeida and Gilpin 2005, pp. 142–3. 

[4] RA 579, dated 25 January 1767. Another English copy exists in the British Library (BL IOPP MSS Eur F.128/111, fols 100–2) and a Persian copy exists in the Royal Asiatic Society, London (Persian 69(9)).   

[5] RA 579; see Fisher 2004, p. 87. 

[6] See IOR/H/100, pp. 475–82 and IOR/H/134,  pp. 123–39.   

[7] IOR/H/101, pp. 87–8. See also pp. 133–42, 151–70 and 283–6.   

[8] IOR/E/4/618, vol. 3, fol. 811 suggests the payment was added under the heading of ‘Contribution Money’ to the East India Company’s Bengal accounts. See Fisher 2004, p. 88.   

[9] l’tesamuddin, p. 147.

[10] Abstract of letter from Sir John Lindsay, Madras, 13 October 1770 in George III’s hand, received 21 March 1771: RA GEO/MAIN/1149 continued in RA GEO/MAIN/1011.

[11] See Robins 2006, pp. 81–98.

[12] Ibid., pp. 90–101.

[13] Harvey 1999, pp. 343–7.

[14] For George III’s essay proposing reform of the management of the East India Company, see RA GEO/ADD/32/1698–1699.

[15] The King to Lord North, Queen’s House, 11 May 1779, 7.15am: RA/GEO/MAIN/2634.

[16] 1784 India Act.

[17] RCIN 1047561.s.

[18] Letter from Major Scott to Warren Hastings, 11 January 1785, quoted in Gleig 1841, vol. 3, p. 108.

[19] ‘I have made every inquiry whether the King ever expresses himself to his people about him in favour of Hastings, and am told he is very guarded and reserved on the subject’. Lord Bulkeley quoted in Marshall 1970, p. 27.

[20] See Jaffer 1999. Of the ivory furniture thought to have been presented to Queen Charlotte by Hasting’s wife, only one set of four armchairs survive in the Royal Collection: RCIN 11197.

[21] See Dirks 2006, p. xii and Rudd 2011, pp. 26–55.

[22] See Dirks 2006, pp. 117–18.

[23] See Chancey 2007 and Fisher 1987.

[24] See Moon 1989, p. 214.

[25] Lewis Ferdinand Smith quoted in Archer 1979,  p. 144. 

[26] See letter from Asaf al-Daula to the Governor-General, 11 August 1789, Calendar of Persian Correspondence, vol. 8, no. 1343, pp. 576–7.

[27] See Fisher 1987.

[28]  William Palmer to Warren Hastings, 21 November 1790, Agra: BL Add. MS 29172, vol. XLI, 1790, p. 184. The Mughal Emperor’s power was dependent on an alliance with the Maratha ruler Mahadji Sindhia based in Gwalior. Shah Alam had several viziers imposed on him including the Afghan Rohilla Ghulam Qadir who ransacked the treasury and blinded the Emperor in 1788. During this raid he took ‘several copies of the Kuran, and eight large baskets of books out of the library’, Ibrat-nama, p. 94. A note in a Mughal album in the British Museum (BM 1974,0617,0.10) describes it as having been taken from the library of the Rohilla Hafiz Rahmat Khan in 1774 and that the rest of his ‘very valuable’ collection fell into the hands of Shuja al-Daula and ‘now constitute a principal part’ of the library of his son, Asaf al-Daula.

[29] BL Add. MS 13517, fol. 19. For Shore and Lucknow, see also ibid., fols 26–31, 60, 62–72, 75–90 and BL Add. MS 13518, fols 7–8, 10–12, 16–20, 26–27, 93–94.

[30] Secret letter from Fort William to London 24 November 1797, published in Heras ed. 1974, p. 375. See also RCIN 401365, Portrait of Sa’adat Ali Khan by George Place, c.1798.

[31] Beach and Koch 1997, p. 158 suggests that the manuscript was given to Shore by Asaf al-Daula himself rather than after his death. The dating of the papers suggests that the presentation more likely took place in Lucknow in late February 1798.

[32] Memo dated June 1799: RL MS 1368. The ‘Minister’ was probably Hussein Reza Khan. See RCIN 618761.

[33] RL MS 1367.

[34] RCIN 1005091.b.

[35] See letter from the King of Awadh to George IV, 1820: RA GEO/ADD/31/17. 

[36] The Times, 8 July 1823.

[37] IOR/F/4/829/21958.

[38] Windsor, 30 January 1828. Copy in the British Library: IOR/L/PS/14/1, fols 31–36. 39  See Robert Clive, 1762, account of the siege of Pondicherry, in Lord Clive Papers, BL Add. MS 44061, fols 4–10.

[40] Dated 3 February 1761, BL Add. MS 35917, fols 60–61.

[41] Horace Walpole quoted in Harvey 1999, p. 319.

[42] Persian letter to George III: ra geo/add/31/7. English translations of that to Queen Charlotte: RA GEO/ADD/41/67 and copy in BL IOPP MSS Eur G37/42/1, fols 95–96.

[43] Copy of Queen Charlotte’s letter: RA GEO/ADD/41/68 and George III’s letter: BL Add. MS 34686, fol. 14.

[44] See Harvey 1999, p. 157.

[45] Abstract of letter from Sir John Lindsay, Madras, 13 October 1770 in George III’s hand, received  21 March 1771: RA GEO/MAIN/1149 continued in RA GEO/MAIN/1011.

[46] Ibid.

[47] The letters from the King and Queen were themselves treated like royalty, welcomed by the Nawab on an elephant to a royal salute.  See George Paterson Papers, BL IOPP MSS Eur E379/1, fols 296–299; BL IOPP MSS Eur 87/68, fols 227–228v and IOR/H/104, pp. 383–5.

[48] Letter from Sir John Lindsay in Madras dated 13 October 1770; received 21 March 1771: RA GEO/MAIN/1149.

[49] 7 October 1771: IOR/H/104, pp. 649–52. 

[50] RA GEO/MAIN/37057 and RA GEO/MAIN/3683; see also IOR/H/104, pp. 387–92.

[51] See Sutherland 1947, pp. 196–201, 242 and Auber 1837. 

[52]  One by Tilly Kettle now lost. The other by Scottish artist George Willison of c.1775 was first recorded at Kensington in 1778 and later hung at Hampton Court. The painting was sent by King George V to the Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta in 1920. There is a variant of this composition of higher quality dated 1777 in the National Galleries of Scotland (PG 2959). There are other portraits of the Nawab by Tilly Kettle in the Victoria and Albert Museum (IM.124–1911) and in the Norfolk Museum and Art Gallery (NWHCM: 1939.144.F).

[53] George III to the Nawab of Arcot, 27 June 1770: IOR/E/4/864 and IOR/E/4/897.

[54] RA 2910.

[55] King’s response: ra 2909. Letter from London to the President and council at Fort St George, 20 January 1779: IOR/E/4/868, pp. 321–3.

[56] See letters from George III to the Nawab of Arcot, 1796: IOR/L/PS/14/1, fols 1–2, 7–11.

[57] Copy of a letter from the Nawab of Arcot to the Prince of Wales, Chepauk Palace, 21 March 1797: RA 39357a–b.

[58] See Moienuddin 2000.

[59] Napoleon’s letter to Tipu Sultan quoted in Martin ed. 1836–7, vol. 1, pp. 686–7.

[60] Moienuddin 2000, pp. 24–5.

[61] Quoted in ibid, p. xii.

[62] Most famous of these are remnants of Tipu’s throne: RCINS 48482 and 67212.

[63] The East India House Library is now part of the British Library. In Calcutta, Tipu’s library was catalogued by Colonel Charles Stewart, published 1809. See also the ‘List of Selected Manuscripts for the Honble. Court of Directors’, submitted by the prize agents at Seringapatam in December 1799: BL IOPP MSS Eur/E196, fols 70r and 74v.

[64] Letter from Charles Wilkins to Frederick Augusta Barnard (Royal Librarian 1773–1830) dated 4 February 1807: RCIN 1005001.c.

[65] Stronge 2009, p. 62, note 3.

[66] Farooqui 2013, p. 40.

[67] The events of Monday, 4 June 1810 reported in ‘News of the Exalted Court’: Pernau and Jaffrey 2009, pp. 42–3, quoted in Sharma 2013, p. 105.

[68] The Morning Post (5 July 1830) reported that Viscount Combermere (the outgoing Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in India) had received an audience with William IV 'at which his lordship presented him with a painting from the King of Delhi, representing his sons and grandson, in full costume'.

[69] See Letter from the King of Delhi to the King of England, 10 March 1821 and H.T. Prinsep, Persian Secretary to the Government, to Sir David Ochterlony, Resident at Delhi, 10 March 1821: IOR/P/122/47, nos 73 and 75.

[70] Letter from the King of Delhi to the King of England, received 29 July 1831: IOR/L/PS/14/1,  pp. 89–107.

[71] The Saint Helena Act or Government of India Act (3 & 4 Will 4 c 85).

[72] For the list of gifts and accompanying letter dated 4 May 1835, see BL Add. MS 46446, vol. 1 and a copy and description in IOR/L/PS/14/1,  pp. 174–201.

[73] Event of 4 March 1834. For Casanova in India, see Foster 1930, pp. 81–2.

[74] IOR/F/1548/61872, pp.5–8. In a report by Low on his first interview with Nasir al-Din Haider dated 30 July 1834 he describes ‘a gentleman possessed of sound understanding […] very worthy and considerate’: IOR/F/4/1430/56539.

[75] The Times, 8 August 1835, p. 5.

[76] For this affair see Hobhouse Papers, BL IOPP MSS Eur F 213/4; Friell 1837; and Brown 2001, pp. 279–86.

[77] BL IOPP MSS Eur F 213/4, fol. 91.

[78] IOR/L/PS/14, pp. 158–62.

[79] 16 June 1836: IOR/F/4/1670/66868.

[80] Hobhouse to the King, 12 August 1836: Hobhouse Papers, BL IOPP MSS Eur F 213/1.

[81] Ibid. The gifts included a portrait of the Nawab and his son; a state chair of gold, ornamented with jewels; a sword belt; a pair of ivory conches, and other articles in ivory; a set of shawls, tissues, muslins and ‘other samples of Indian manufactures’.

[82] See letter from William IV to Mubarak Ali Khan, Nawab of Bengal, dated 14 September 1836: IOR/L/PS/14/1, fols 172–174.

[83] 28 September 1836: IOR/E/4/748, pp. 1013–14.

[84] Quoted in Brown 2001, p. 285.

[85] Farman dated 19 January 1839 (‘As an act of great Kindness and Royal favour we do hereby graciously bestow upon you the Painting belonging to his late Majesty which was sent to England…. It is necessary that you take possession of the Painting and preserve it with you and be grateful for this act of Royal favour.’). Translated for James Paton, officiating Resident, 27 January 1839: IOR/F/4/1836/76370.

[86] Myers, Rushford & Co. (?), Saville Row, 1 May 1841.