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THOMAS, George - FRANCKLIN, William.

Military Memoirs of Mr. George Thomas,

who by Extraordinary Talents and Enterprise, rose in the Service of the Native Powers in the North West of India. Through the Work are interspersed Geographical and Statistical Accounts of Several of the States, composing the Interior of the Peninsula, especially the Countries of Jypoor, Joudpoor and Oudipoor, by Geographers denominated Rajpootaneh, the Seiks of Punjaub, the Territory of Beykaneer, and the Country adjoining the Great Desert to the Westward of Hurrianeh. Compiled and arranged from Mr. Thomas's Original Documents …

Calcutta: Printed for the Author at the Hurkaru Press, 1803 Stock Code: 113334
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Irish freelance who became self-declared "dictator in all the countries belonging to the Sikhs south of the Sutlej"

The Calcutta quarto, the true first edition preceding the London octavo edition by two years. Memoirs of the Irish freelance who became self-declared "dictator in all the countries belonging to the Sikhs south of the Sutlej". A handsome production.

Born in Tipperary, Thomas arrived in Madras in 1781, possibly as a deserter from the Royal Navy. He began learning his trade as a freelance with "the Kanara Poligars, a group of armed chieftain-bandits. Thomas subsequently joined the nizam of Hyderabad's army as a private, and there learned his trade as a soldier. He gathered around him a personal bodyguard, nicknamed the Irish Pindaris, after the feared Indian mercenaries" (ODNB). He was employed by the Begum Sumru of Sirdhana, then by Appa Khande Rao, the Maratha governor of Meerut, leaving Rao in 1797 to join Bapu Sindhia, governor of Saharanpur. "In the fluid situation before the East India Company imposed its rule, and when large areas of land were left virtually ungoverned following the collapse of the Mughal empire, Thomas conceived the extraordinary idea of making himself 'King' of Lahore by conquering the Punjab. He marched his troops into Hariana in 1797 and easily captured the towns of Hissar and Hansi. He found the latter, an ancient fort, inhabited by one fakir and two lions. He stabilised an area of 120 miles by 50 miles in Hariana and repopulated Hansi At the height of his fame that year Thomas described himself as 'dictator in all the countries belonging to the Sikhs south of the Sutlej' and claimed to hold his land on behalf of the British government" (ibid.). Shortage of money forced Thomas to seek reemployment as a mercenary and he was ignominiously defeated by French-led combined Mahratta, Jat and Rajput force. He died of fever in 1802. Francklin had served with the Bengal army having been commissioned as an ensign in 1783. "By 1814 he had risen to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in both his regiment and the Bengal army. On being invalided on 1 October 1815 he was made regulating officer at Bhagalpur." He also "enjoyed a considerable reputation as an orientalist" and "was a member, and during the later years of his life, librarian and member of the council, of the Royal Asiatic Society" (ibid.).

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Quarto (262 x 201 mm) Contemporary sprinkled calf, neatly rebacked with the original, slightly sunned, spine laid down, new red morocco label, compartments gilt with fleur-de-lys cornerpieces, central lozenges, double fillet panel gilt to the boards, floral edge-roll, edges sprinkled red, endpapers renewed. Housed in a burgundy flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Portrait frontispiece, the bust portrait stippled-engraved, finished in ink and wash, elaborated with a banderolle, supporting trophy of arms and standards, and framing laurel wreath surmounted by an eagle holding the suspension ring of the portrait in it


A little rubbed at the extremities, particularly on the joints, light browning throughout, the folding plate slightly brittle as often, with old splits professionally repaired, "the third leaf in sig. L (p.77-8), potentially signed L2, seems to be a cancelled leaf and non extant. Text continuous" (BL Reference collection collation) - it has been suggested that the missing text contained remarks derogatory to the Sikhs and was struck at the suggestion of the governor-general, Richard Wellesley - remains very good.


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