An historical sketch of the native states of India/The Cis-Satlaj states

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An historical sketch of the native states of India

in subsidiary alliance with the British government (1875)

Author: George Bruce Malleson (1825-1898)

Publisher: Longmans, Green & Co. London

Part VI - Chapter I: Nothern India (The Cis-Satlaj states)


I. Patiala.

Area: 5,412 sq. miles. Population: 1,586,000. Revenue:30,00,000 rupees.

THE Maharaja of Patiala is the recognised chief of the Phulkean tribe, so called from the ancestor, Choudhari Phul, a peasant, who founded a village in the Nabha territory. The second son of Phul, by name Rama, laid the foundations of the sovereign state now known as Patiala. Though belonging to the Jat tribe, the Maharaja is a Sikh.

I have been unable to gather any important materials throwing light on the infancy of this State. In the year 1806, it was ruled by one of the descendants of Rama, and stood in a proud position between Ranjit Singh and the British, owing allegiance to neither. But its possession was coveted by Ranjit Singh. In that year, accordingly, deeming that his action would be unnoticed, or at all events would be unobstructed by the British, then in the peaceful mood which followed the departure of Marquess Wellesley, Ranjit determined to strike a blow at the independence of the Cis-Satlaj states. Fortune, at the time, seemed to favour him. A violent quarrel had taken place between the Rajas of Patiala and Nabha, and the latter, the weaker of the two, invoked the assistance of


Ranjit Singh. Nothing could have been more opportune. In October of that year (1806) Ranjit crossed the Satlaj with his army and dictated terms of reconciliation to the rival sovereigns. He then recrossed into his own territories. He had accomplished all that he desired. He wished, before positively committing himself, to see in what light his interference would be regarded by the British Government. He had cleared up that point. The British Government had made no objection to his proceeding, and he thought that the game was in his hands.

The following year, 1807, he again crossed into the dominions of Patiala. This time he had been appealed to by the wife of the Raja of that country, who was at variance with her husband. But his action alarmed all the Cis-Satlaj princes, and they made an appeal to Calcutta, protesting themselves the servants of the British Government, and imploring its protection. Before a reply could arrive, the Raja and Rani had settled their differences, and Ranjit had no excuse for remaining. He had received the thanks of both Raja and Rani, and the present of a diamond necklace and a brass gun. But baulked in his plans, he was foolish enough to show his anger by seizing the forts and confiscating the lands of some petty Rajas. Learning, too, that preparations were being made at Delhi in a sense hostile to his views, he wrote to the Governor-General, claiming all the country west of the Jamna as his own, except the stations occupied by the English.

This claim was not at the moment openly resisted, but an envoy was sent to Ranjit Singh to remonstrate on its extravagance. This mild procedure only inflamed the passion of Ranjit, and he deliberately recrossed the Satlaj, and seized upon Ambala. Nor was it until the British, convinced of the necessity of strong measures, assembled an army, that he finally withdrew his pretensions, and consented to treat.

By the treaty then concluded (April 1809) Ranjit


Singh engaged neither to commit nor to suffer any encroachments on the possessions or rights of the chiefs on the left bank of the Satlaj. The following May the British Government issued a proclamation, extending its protection to the chiefs of Sirhind and Malwa, without demand of tribute, requiring service in time of war, and defining generally the relation of the protected states to the paramount power.

The general scope of the proclamation of 1809 was to establish the chiefs in the states they held before they were received under British protection. At that time there were ten of these chiefs. These were,

By the action of the British Government these chiefs were relieved from all dread of their powerful neighbour on the other side of the Satlaj. But there ensued from this relief a consequence which had not been foreseen. They began to quarrel among themselves the stronger to oppress the weaker, thus practically to demonstrate the need for the intervention of a strong power.

This necessity soon forced itself on the recognition of the British, and in 1811 a second proclamation was issued, directing the restoration of estates that had been usurped, and prohibiting the encroachment of one State upon another.

Three years later the British engaged in war with Nepal, and in accordance with the terms of the proclamation, of 1809, called upon the Raja of Patiala to aid them with troops. The aid was cheerfully rendered, and was, in its way, effective. As a mark of the appreciation of the British Government portions of the Keonthal and Baghat states, yielding a revenue of 35,000 rupees, were conferred upon him by sunnud, the Raja paying for them in exchange the sum of 280,000 rupees.


In 1830, the hill territory of Simla was ceded to the British by the Raja in exchange for three villages in the district of Beraoli.

Nothing further occurred till the first war with the State of Lahore broke out at the close of 1845. In that memorable contest the Maharaja of Patiala cast in his lot with the British, whilst the Raja of Nabha showed great sympathy with the invaders. As a reward for his loyal service the Maharaja was granted a portion of the territory confiscated from the Raja of Nabha for his misconduct. At the same time the Maharaja was confirmed by sunnud for ever, for himself and his heirs, in possession of his ancient estates and those added by the British Government, with all the rights appertaining thereto. In consideration of his renouncing the right to impose custom and transit dues, he was awarded an additional grant of territory confiscated from the Lahore Durbar, with a rental of 10,000 rupees.

The service rendered by the Maharaja to the British Government during the mutiny of 1857 can scarcely be exaggerated. The prompt action of himself and the Rajas of Jind and Nabha had a marked influence alike on the state of affairs in the Punjab and on the march of the British troops to Delhi. It is not too much to say that hostility or lukewarmness on the part of the Cis-Satlaj Rajas at the early stage of the mutiny would have greatly imperilled the position of the British. The gain of their hearty co-operation can then scarcely be overestimated.

But the Maharaja of Patiala did something more than aid the British by his troops. Whilst these were usefully employed in keeping open the communications and aiding in the field, he lent his money freely, a favour in those troublous times most highly to be appreciated.

For his fidelity the Maharaja was amply rewarded by the gift of estates that had been forfeited, bringing with them a considerable accession of income. A sunnud


likewise was given him (1860) granting him and his successors the exercise of sovereign powers over their ancestral and acquired possessions, and binding all dependants and feudatories of every degree to render them obedience. The British Government engaged never to demand any tribute on account of revenue, service, or on any other plea. Other conditions very favourable to the Maharaja were contained in this sunnud. Subsequently, another sunnud was granted, making over to the Maharaja certain lands in liquidation of the debt due to him by the British.

Maharaja Narender Singh was granted the right of adoption. He was invested on November 1, 1861, with the insignia of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India.

This Maharaja, who, in the language of Earl Canning, ‘had surpassed the former achievements of his race by the constancy and courage he evinced during the mutiny of 1857-8,' whose loyalty had been ' unswerving and conspicuous,' died suddenly on November 14, 1862. He was succeeded by his son, then thirteen years old.

This prince was associated in 1864 in an investigation which took place at Nabha in October of that year regarding the causes of the death of the Raja of that state. This is more specially referred to under the head of Nabha.

The Maharaja of Patiala is entitled to a salute of seventeen guns.

II. Jind.

Area: 1,236 sq. miles. Population:311,000.

Revenue: 4,00,000 rupees.

THE Raja of Jhind is of the same family as the Maharaja of Patiala, being like him, descended from Choudhari Phul. The rise of the two states was contemporaneous. The Raja of Jhind, however, had relations with the British earlier than the other. In the pursuit of


Holkar by Lord Lake (1805) Bhag Singh, then Raja of Jhind, who was maternal uncle of Ranjit Singh, showed the greatest interest in the success of the British, and after the conclusion of the campaign he offered to transfer to them his allegiance. Lord Lake gave him many marks of his esteem and appreciation.

In the attempts of Ranjit Singh to annex the Cis-Satlaj states, the Raja of Jhind sided with his relative of Patiala, and the history of both the states in this crisis and in the Sikh war of 1845-6 is identical. He received also, in money and lands, a proportionate reward for his services,

In 1857 the Raja of Jhind had the merit of being the first person who marched against the mutineers at Delhi. His troops acted as the vanguard of the British army. He remained in the camp before Delhi until the re-occupation of the city, and his troops also took part in the assault. For these services he received territory yielding 1,16,813 rupees per annum, on condition of fidelity and political and military service in time of difficulty and danger. He also received in 1860 a sunnud similar to that given to the Maharaja of Patiala.

The present Raja of Jhind, Sangat Singh, succeeded his predecessor as the nearest of kin, being, however, only a remote kinsman. He did not therefore inherit the acquisitions which had been made by the successors of his and their common ancestor. These, amounting to one-half of the principality, were declared an escheat, and Sangat Singh succeeded only to the ancient family possessions, added to the later grants of the British Government.

In October 1864, the Raja was engaged in an investigation at Nabha, which will be more especially referred to when dealing with that principality.

The Raja of Jhind has been granted the right of adoption.

He is entitled to a salute of eleven guns.


III. Nabha.

Area: 863 sq. miles. Population: 276,000. Revenue: 4,00,000 rupees.

THE Raja of this principality is of the same family and stock as the two Rajas previously noticed. Up to the year 1845, the history of his dynasty does not vary from that of Patiala, But in that year the Raja who represented it, Devindar Singh, showed sympathy with the Sikh invaders. He was, in consequence, on the conclusion of the war, deposed, and assigned a pension of 50,000 rupees per annum. One-fourth of his territory also was confiscated, and divided between the Rajas of Patiala and Faridkot. The remainder of the principality was made over to his eldest son, Bhurpur Singh.

When the mutiny broke out, this chief made ample amends for his father's lapse. Like the rulers of Patiala and Jhind he rendered splendid service to the British. For this, he was rewarded by a grant of lands out of the Jhujhar territory, yielding 1,06,000 rupees per annum. He likewise (1860) received a sunnud similar to that granted to the Raja of Patiala, and like him obtained a fresh acquisition of territory in liquidation of the debt due to him by the British Government.

On November 9, 1863, this Raja, Bhurpur Singh, died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother, Bhugwan Singh. But, shortly after the accession of the latter, a rumour was spread that the late Raja had died from the effects of poison administered by members of his own court, and that a lady of rank had also been murdered at the instigation of some people about the court. These rumours obtained so great a currency that an investigation was ordered, presided over by a British officer, with whom were associated the Maharaja of Patiala and the Raja of Jhind.

The investigation made it clear that the late Raja had


died a natural death; and the actual murderer of the lady was subsequently shown to be a person not at the time suspected ; but it was made evident, likewise, that a native official of high rank, Gurbuksh Singh, had abetted the murder. He was tried for that offence, and though acquitted on account of the unreliable nature of the evidence produced, yet he and two other dangerous characters were prohibited from residing henceforth in the territory of Nabha.

The Raja of Nabha has been allowed the right of adoption.

He is entitled to a salute of eleven guns.

IV. Kalsia.

Area: 155 sq. miles. Population: 62,000. Revenue: 1,30,000 rupees.

THERE is nothing worthy of record in the history of this state. The family came originally from Kalsia, a village in the Manjha. Its chief, after some hesitation, accepted British protection in 1809, and since that time he has been faithful to his engagements. He receives from the British Government, in perpetuity, an annual money payment of 2,851 rupees, to compensate him for custom duties which have been abolished. The Sirdar of Kalsia has received the right of adoption.

V. Maler Kotla.

Area:165 sq. miles. Population: 462,000. Revenue: 1,00,000 rupees.

THIS little state is represented by a Pathan family which originally came from Kabul and occupied places of trust in Sirhind under the Mogul emperors. The connection of the family with the British dates from 1805, when its chief joined Lord Lake, and was granted in 1809 the British protection. The present chief is Nawab Sekunder Ali Khan. He has received a sunnud assuring him that


any succession in his state, in conformity with the Mahomedan law, will be respected. The near relatives of the chief enjoy a share in the family estates, and exercise sovereign powers therein, in general subordination to the Nawab.

The Nawab of Maler Kotla is entitled to a salute of nine guns.

VI. Faridkot.

Area: 643 sq. miles. Population: 51,000. Revenue: 75,000 rupees.

THE family ruling Faridkot traces itself back to the reign of Akbar, when its representative, named Bhullun, a member of the Burar Jat tribe, rendered signal service and acquired considerable influence. His nephew built the fort of Kot-Kapura and made himself an independent ruler. Early in the present century the Kot-Kapura district was seized by the prime minister at Lahore, Mokam Chand. It remained in the possession of his family till the conclusion of the Sikh war in 1845-6, when it was confiscated by the British Government and restored to the chief of Faridkot. That chief, as an additional reward for his services rendered during the campaign, was likewise raised to the rank of Raja.

In 1857 the Raja of Faridkot rendered good service to the British cause. He is entitled to a salute of eleven guns. The right of adoption has been conferred upon him. 1

1. For this, and for the history of complete an account of them. All the other Cis-Satlaj Rajas, I have of them being of comparatively indented largely on Mr. Aitchisou's modern origin, the short sketch of collection of Treaties. Nowhere them given in the text will probably else have I been able to obtain so be deemed sufficient.
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End of Part VI - Chapter I: Nothern India (The Cis-Satlaj states)