Lord Wellesley

Lord Wellesley remained Governor General of Fort Williams from 1798 to 1805. During his tenure, the Fourth and last Anglo-Mysore war was fought and Tipu was killed in this war. The Second Anglo Maratha war also happened in which Bhonsle, Scindia and Holkar were defeated. Wellesley followed the policy of “subsidiary alliance”, which was accepted by the rulers of Mysore, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bundi, Macheri, Bharatpur, Oudh, Tanjore, Berar, Peshwa and Nizam of Hyderabad. The Censorship of Press Act, 1799 was also brought under his tenure and Fort William College was established in 1800 to train civil servants.

Fourth Anglo Mysore War

In 1798, the troops of Napoleon had sailed to Egypt and had defeated its rulers. One of subsequent step of Napoleon would be to capture the British Possessions in India. The key to such step was Kingdom of Mysore, whose ruler Tipu had sought France as ally. In a letter to Tipu, Napoleon said that he would send his innumerable forces to India to drive out the British. However, this plan was never executed because French were defeated in the Battle of Nile (1798) by British.

Meanwhile, Lord Wellesley had decided to crush Tipu. His forces marched into Mysore and seized Shrirangpatnam. One of the commanders of Tipu, Mir Sadiq was bought by the British, he deceived Tipu and the result was that Tipu, amid the English advantageous position, was shot and killed. Tipu had used the iron cased rockets in the Third and Fourth Mysore wars. It led the British to develop their own versions of the Rockets. The Woodyar dynasty was restored on the throne of the Mysore and Mysore came indirectly under the British. Thus, with the end of Fourth Mysore war, Mysore became a princely state with suzerainty of the East India Company.

Second Anglo Maratha War

For twenty years after the First Anglo-Maratha war had ended in 1782, there was no battle between Maratha and British. Meanwhile Tipu, the most ardent enemy of British had been eliminated.

The Marathas were still powerful but rather than a united single force, the Marathas were a confederation of several states. The most prominent among them were Scindia, Holkar, Gaikwad and Bhonsle.

These veterans contested for power and their rivalry made the British come alive. The result was that the Maratha veterans fought with each other in the Battle of Poona in 1802 when Yashwant Rao Holkar attacked the forces of Scindia and Peshwa Bajirao-II. The combined armies of Scindia and Peshwa were defeated by the Holkar. Peshwa flee from Pune and approached to British for help.

British signed the Treaty of Bassein in 1802. As per this treaty, the British promised to place a force of around 6000 troops to be permanently stationed with Peshwa in Poona. In return the British got the territorial districts that would yield the revenue of 26 Lakh rupees. Baji Rao II was also required to :

  • Not to enter into any treaty without consulting British
  • Not to declare war without consulting the British
  • Not to claim over Surat and Baroda.

Thus, Peshwa entered into a subsidiary alliance system with the British. Marathas took it as surrender to National Honor. The war was fought between the broken Maratha Confederacy and British between 1803 and 1805 as Second Anglo Maratha war.

During this war, the Marathas were engaged at several places by British without letting them unite. In 1803, Baji Rao-II entered Poona with British forces. In the same year, Aurangabad and Gwalior were taken under British control.  Bhosle lost Cuttack, Balasore and west of Wardha river. Scindia lost Jaipur, Jodhpur, Gohad, Ahamad Nagar, Bharuch, Ajanta etc. Both of Scindia and Bhosle accepted the Treaty of Bassein and gave their sovereignty to British.

Holkar approached Delhi and tried to capture it but he was defeated in Deeg, Bharatpur. At last he also signed a treaty and lost the places north of Chambal and Bundelkhand. With this war, the Maratha had been reduced to nothing.

Subsidiary Alliance System

The Subsidiary Alliance System was a Treaty between the company and the Indian native rulers. In return for a payment or subsidy, the company would place garrison troops in that ruler’s territory to fight against their enemies. Subsidiary alliance system was originally the idea of Dupleix, who used to rent his army to Indian rulers. Similarly, Clive had also made similar kind of arrangement with Oudh. Lord Wellesley made is an important part of his imperialistic designs. He made the Nawab and Nizams subsidiary allies by signing almost 100 such treaties.

Key principles of a subsidiary alliance were as follows:

  • The Indian ruler would accept British Forces in his territory and also pay their cost of maintenance.
  • The ruler will accept a British Resident in his state.
  • The ruler would not enter into any further alliance or war with any other power without permission from the British.
  • The ruler would not employ any European other than British.
  • In case there is any conflict, the resolution as decided by British would be accepted to him.
  • The ruler would acknowledge East India Company as paramount power in India.

In return for the above conditions, the East India Company would pledge to protect the state from external dangers and internal disorders. If the Indian ruler fails to make required payments, a part of his territory would be taken away as penalty.

First ruler to sign this treaty with Wellesley was Nizam of Hyderabad (September 1798 and 1800). He was followed by Ruler of Mysore (1799), Raja of Tanjore (October 1799), Nawab of Oudh (November 1801), Peshwa (December 1801), Bhonsle Raja of Berar (December 1803), Sindhia (February 1804) and others including Jodhpur, Jaipur, Macheri, Bundi and Bharatpur etc.

Censorship Act 1799

In 1780, James Augustus Hickey published first newspaper in India titled “Bengal Gazette” or “Calcutta General Advertiser”. This was too outspoken and its press was seized soon. Then there was a general proliferation of the newspapers including The Calcutta Gazette (1784), The Bengal Journal (1785), The Oriental Magazine of Calcutta (1785), The Calcutta Chronicle (1786), The Madras Courier (1788) and The Bombay Herald (1789).

In 1799, Lord Wellesley brought the Censorship of Press Act to stop the French from publishing anything which could harm British in any way. This act brought all the newspapers under the Government scrutiny before their publication. This act was later extended in 1807 and covered all kinds of Press Publications newspapers, magazine, books and Pamphlets. The rules were relaxed when Lord Hastings came into power.

Fort William College 1800

The initial attempt to train the Civil Servants locally was done by Lord Wellesley. Within the campus of the Fort William, he founded Fort Williams College on 10 July 1800. The idea was to teach the British rookies understand the Oriental Culture, tradition, law and administration to better coordinate in the “governance”.

Successors of Lord Wellesley 1805-1807

The adventures of Lord Wellesley were good, but they were costly. The continuous wars with Mysore and Marathas, his policy of launching educational projects in India caused the financial strain which made the Court of Directors impatient. He was recalled in July 1805 and once again Lord Cornwallis was sent to India. He was advised by his peers to bring peace in the British dominions which were under the threats with the wounded lions such as Holkars and Scindias. He came in the rainy season and the bad weather of India claimed his life. He was succeeded by Sir George Barlow, an intimate adviser of John Shore and Lord Wellesley. His term was till 1807 when there was a mutiny at Vellore in 1806.

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