White Mughals


Dramatis Personae


The Kirkpatricks

Colonel James Kirkpatrick (‘The Handsome Colonel’, 1729-1818): The raffish father of William, George and James Achilles. A former colonel in the East India Company army, at the time of James’s affair he had retired to Hollydale, his estate in Kent.

Lieutenant Colonel William Kirkpatrick (1756-1812): Persian scholar, linguist and opium addict; former Resident at Hyderabad and in 1800 Military Secretary and chief political adviser to Lord Wellesley; illegitimate half-brother of James Achilles Kirkpatrick.

George Kirkpatrick (1763-1818): James’s elder brother, known as ‘Good honest George’. A pious and humourless man, he failed to make a success of his career in India and never rose higher than the position of a minor Collector of taxes in Malabar.

Major James Achilles Kirkpatrick (1764-1805): Known in Hyderabad as Hushmut Jung—‘Glorious in Battle’—Nawab Fakhr-ud-Dowla Bahadur; the thoroughly Orientalised British Resident at the Court of Hyderabad.

William George Kirkpatrick (1801-1828): Known in Hyderabad as Mir Ghulam Ali, Sahib Allum. After arriving in England, he, fell into ‘a copper of boiling water’ in 1812 and was disabled for life, with at least one of his limbs requiring amputation. He lingered on, a dreamy, disabled poet, obsessed with Wordsworth and the metaphysics of Coleridge, before dying at the age of twenty-seven.

Katherine Aurora Kirkpatrick (1802-89): Known as Noor un-Nissa, Sahib Begum in Hyderabad and subsequently as Kitty Kirkpatrick in England; daughter of James and Khair un-Nissa; sent to England 1805; married Captain James Winslowe Phillipps of the 7th Hussars on 21 November 1829; died in Torquay in 1889 at the age of eighty-seven.

The Wellesleys

Richard Colley Wellesley, Marquess Wellesley (1760-1842): Governor General of India. Originally a great hero of James Kirkpatrick, his bullying imperial policies came to disgust James and led him to resist with increasing vigour the Company’s attempts to take over the Deccan.

Colonel Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852): Governor of Mysore and ‘Chief Political and Military Officer in the Deccan and Southern Maratha Country’. Greatly disliked the Kirkpatrick brothers. Later famous as the Duke of Wellington.

Henry Wellesley (1773-1847): Assistant to his brother the Governor General, and Governor of the Ceded Districts of Avadh.

The Palmers

General William Palmer (d.1814): Friend of Warren Hastings and James Achilles Kirkpatrick, and Resident at Poona until he was sacked by Wellesley. Married Fyze Baksh Begum, a begum of Oudh. Father of William, John and Hastings.

Fyze Baksh, Begum Palmer (aka Sahib Begum, c.1760-1820): Daughter of‘a Persian Colonel of Cavalry’ in the service of the Nawabs of Oudh. Her sister Nur Begum was married to General Benoît de Boigne. Fyze married General Palmer and had four sons and two daughters by him, including William Palmer the banker, whom she lived with in Hyderabad after the General’s death. Best friend of Khair un-Nissa: when the latter died, she locked herself up for a month, saying ‘she had lost the only real friend she ever had’.

John Palmer (1767-1836): ‘The Prince of Merchants’. General Palmer’s son by his first wife Sarah Hazell.

Captain William Palmer (1780-1867): Son of General Palmer by Fyze Palmer. Initially James Kirkpatrick found him a job in the Nizam’s service, where he wrote a letter to Wellesley criticising the Governor General’s treatment of James under the nom de plumePhilothetes. William subsequently became a powerful banker in Hyderabad, before suffering a catastrophic bankruptcy.

The Russells

Sir Henry Russell (1751-1836): Chief Justice of Bengal and father of Henry and Charles.

Henry Russell (1783-1852): Kirkpatrick’s Private Secretary and assistant. Later a lover of the Begum.

Charles Russell: Commander of the Resident’s bodyguard and obedient younger brother to Henry.

The Residency Staff

Captain William Hemming: Commander of the Resident’s bodyguard. Named by Henry Russell as the principal enemy of James in the Residency.

Samuel Russell: ‘The Engineer’. Son of Academician John Russell, and no relation to Henry and Charles. Briefly the Nizam’s engineer, he helped James finish the Residency.

Thomas Sydenham: Secretary to the Resident. James came to distrust him, and called him ‘Pontifex Maximus’. On James’s death he became Resident, attempting to weed out James’s ‘Mughalisation’ of the Residency, and sacking many of James’s key staff.

Munshi Aziz Ullah, Munshi Aman Ullah: Two highly educated brothers from Delhi who became James’s trusted munshis.

Dr George Ure: Surgeon to the Residency.

Mrs Ure: Wife of Dr Ure and a fluent Urdu speaker, she was a vast woman with an apparently unquenchable appetite. She accompanied James’s children to England in 1805.

The Subsidiary Force

Lieutenant Colonel James Dalrymple (1757-1800): Commander of the Subsidiary Force.

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Dalrymple: Cousin of James Dalrymple and friend of Henry Russell. Was on board ship with James Kirkpatrick on his final journey. His wife Margaret was generally regarded as ‘odious’.

Dr Alexander Kennedy: The Subsidiary Force doctor.

Other Miscellaneous British

Edward, Lord Clive (1754-1839): Son of Robert Clive (‘Clive of India’), he was the notably unintelligent Governor of Madras.

Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859): Traveller and East India Company civil servant who rose to be Governor of Bombay; visited Hyderabad with Edward Strachey in August/September 1801 en route to a position in Pune.

Edward Strachey (1774-1832): Traveller and civil servant; visited Hyderabad with Mountstuart Elphinstone in August/September 1801 en route to a position in Pune. In 1808 he married Julia, the youngest and prettiest daughter of William Kirkpatrick.


Michel Joachim Marie Raymond (1755-98): Mercenary commander of the French Battalion in Hyderabad.

Jean-Pierre Piron: Raymond’s successor.


The Nizam’s Family

Nawab Mir Nizam Ali Khan, Asaf Jah II (1761-1803): Nizam of Hyderabad, father of Sikander Jah. The fourth son of the first Nizam, Nizam ul-Mulk, he succeeded his father having dethroned and imprisoned his brother Salabat Jung.

Bakshi Begum: First wife of Nizam Ali Khan and adoptive mother of Sikander Jah. Very powerful: ‘in charge of the Privy Purse and control of all Mahal disbursements’. In 1800 was considered ‘elderly’.

Tînat un-Nissa Begum: Wife of Nizam Ali Khan and mother of Sikander Jah. Also old and powerful: according to James Kirkpatrick she had custody over the family jewels.

Ali Jah (d.1798): Son of Nizam Ali Khan who rebelled in 1798. Ali Jah surrendered near Bidar to Mir Alam and General Raymond, and shortly afterwards ‘committed suicide’ in somewhat suspicious circumstances.

Dara Jah: Son-in-law of Nizam Ali Khan who revolted against him in 1796. Dara Jah was recaptured by James Dalrymple at Raichur and returned to Hyderabad, where he subsequently disappears from the record.

Nawab Mir Akbar Ali Khan, Sikander Jah, Asaf Jah III (1771-1829): Nizam of Hyderabad; only surviving son of Nizam Ali Khan.

Jahan Pawar Begum: Also known as Hajji Begum. Daughter of Ma’ali Mian and Farzand Begum, granddaughter of Aristu Jah from whom she inherited Purani Haveli, and wife of Nizam Sikander Jah. Mistreated by Sikander Jah, she warned James of Sikander Jah’s plan to assassinate him.

Mama Barun, Mama Champa: Aseels at the court and the principal attendants at the durbar of Nizam Ali Khan. Also commanded the female regiment—the Zuffur Plutun—at the Battle of Khardla.

Aristu Jah’s Household

Ghulam Sayyed Khan, Aristu Jah, Azim ul Omrah (d.9 May 1804): The Nizam’s Minister, dubbed ‘Solomon’ by the Kirkpatrick brothers. Started his career as qiladar (fortress-keeper) in Aurangabad, and after the assassination of Minister Rukn-ud-Dowlah became First Assistant Minister, then Minister. Following the defeat at Khardla, he was sent in March 1795 as a hostage to Pune. After his return in 1797 he resumed office, a position he held until his death in 1804. His granddaughter Jahan Pawar Begum married Nizam Sikander Jah.

Sarwar Afza, Nawab Begum: Aristu Jah’s chief wife. Mir Alam plundered her of all her property after the death of her husband.

Ma’ali Mian: Son of Aristu Jah; died young in 1795 on the Khardla campaign.

Farzand Begum: Sister of Munir ul-Mulk and the Minister’s daughter-in-law, married to Ma’ali Mian, and close friend of Sharaf un-Nissa. According to some sources she put pressure on Sharaf un-Nissa to marry Khair to James Kirkpatrick.

The Shushtaris

Sayyid Reza Shushtari (d.1780): Shi’a divine who travelled from Shushtar first to Mughal Delhi then to Hyderabad, where he was given land by Nizam ul-Mulk. Sayyid Reza ‘refused all public office, even the post of Chief Judge’, retiring to a life of prayer. His reputation for integrity was the foundation upon which his son, Mir Alam, and so the rest of the Shushtari clan, rose to power in Hyderabad.

Mir Abul Qasim, Mir Alam Bahadur (d.8 December 1808): Aristu Jah’s vakil and representative of the Nizam in Calcutta; led the Nizam’s army on the Seringapatam campaign (1799); exiled in 1800; restored to favour and made Prime Minister in July 1804 to succeed Aristu Jah; first cousin of Bâqar Ali Khan. Until his death from leprosy in 1808 he was in receipt of a pension from the British government of two thousand rupees a month.

Mir Dauran (d.1801): Son of Mir Alam. Died of leprosy in 1801.

Mir Abdul Lateef Shushtari: Cousin and colleague of Mir Alam. His representative at the court after Mir Alam’s disgrace. Author of the Tuhfat al-’Alam.

Bâqar Ali Khan, Akil ud-Daula: A native of Shushtar in Iran. First cousin of Mir Alam: he was the son of the sister of Mir Alam’s father. Accompanied Mir Alam on his embassy to Calcutta. Later became the bakshi or Paymaster of the Subsidiary Force, in which capacity he accompanied the Subsidiary Force to Seringapatam; father of Sharaf un-Nissa and grandfather of Khair un-Nissa. Following Khair’s marriage to James, Aristu Jah ‘exalted the head’ of Bâqar Ali Khan, ‘awarding him a title and an estate consisting of some villages’. Said to be defective in sight and hard of hearing.

Durdanah Begum: Wife of Bâqar Ali Khan, mother of Sharaf un-Nissa, grandmother of Khair un-Nissa. From the family of Mir Jafar Ali Khan.

Sharaf un-Nissa Begum (c.1765-21 July 1847): Daughter of Bâqar Ali Khan; mother of Khair un-Nissa, and much younger second wife of Mehdi Yar Khan, who died in the late 1780s or 1790s, leaving her a widow with two unmarried teenage daughters, after which she returned to her familydeorhi. Following Khair’s marriage to James, she was given an estate by the government ‘and maintained it herself’. In her old age her estates were confiscated and she died in poverty.

Mehdi Yar Khan: Son of Mirza Qasim Khan; father of Khair un-Nissa; husband of Sharaf un-Nissa. Died sometime in the late 1780s or 1790s leaving his much younger widow with two unmarried teenage daughters.

Khair un-Nissa Begum: The daughter of Sharaf un-Nissa and granddaughter of Bâqar Ali Khan; wife of James Achilles Kirkpatrick. She was originally engaged to Mohammed Ali Khan, son of Bahram ul-Mulk.

Nazir un-Nissa Begum: Sister of Khair un-Nissa.

Dustee Ali Khan: Half-brother of Khair un-Nissa and son of Mehdi Yar Khan by an earlier wife.

Other Hyderabadi Omrahs

Rajah Ragotim Rai: Brahmin nobleman in the circle of Aristu Jah. James disliked him: ‘This enormous vulture must be got rid of somehow’. Sacked and plundered by Mir Alam after the death of Aristu Jah.

Rajah Chandu Lal: Protégé first of James then of Mir Alam, whom he succeeded in power. Long-time diwan of Nizam Sikander Jah, he was responsible for confiscating the estates of Sharaf un-Nissa. Great patron of poetry.

Mah Laqa Bai Chanda: Poet, historian and courtesan, initially attached to the durbar of Aristu Jah. Became the lover of both Mir Alam and Mustaqim ud-Daula.

4. LONDON, 1820

Charles Buller MP, Barbara Isabella Buller: William Kirkpatrick’s daughter and son-in-law. James died in their house in Calcutta; later it was at their house that Kitty met the young Thomas Carlyle.

Julia Kirkpatrick: Daughter of William Kirkpatrick, wife of Edward Strachey, friend and cousin of Kitty Kirkpatrick.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881): Savant; tutor to the sons of Charles Buller, in whose Calcutta house James died.


The Nizams of Hyderabad

Nizam ul-Mulk 1724-48
Civil war 1748-62
Nizam Ali Khan 1762-1803
Nizam Sikander Jah 1803-29
Nizam Nasir ud-Daula 1829-57


Aristu Jah 1778-1804
Mir Alam 1804-08
Munir ul-Mulk 1809-32
Rajah Chandu Lal 1832-43

British Residents

John Kennaway 1788-94
William Kirkpatrick 1794-98
James Achilles Kirkpatrick 1798-1805
Henry Russell (Acting) October-December 1805
Thomas Sydenham 1805-1810
Charles Russell (Acting) June 1810-March 1811
Henry Russell December 1811-1820
Sir Charles Metcalfe 1820-1825

Governors General

Warren Hastings 1774-85
Marquis Cornwallis 1786-93
Sir John Shore (Acting) 1793-98
Lord Wellesley 1798-1805
Marquis Cornwallis (again) 1805
George Barlow (Acting) 1805-07
Lord Minto 1807-13



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