South view of Begum Samru's House (top left), North view of Begum Samru's house (bottom left)
Author: Metcalfe, Sir Thomas Theophilus (1795-1853)
Medium: Ink and colours on paper
[From 'Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi’, an album consisting of 89 folios containing approximately 130 paintings of views of the Mughal and pre-Mughal monuments of Delhi, as well as other contemporary material, with an accompanying manuscript text written by Sir Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe (1795-1853), the Governor-General’s Agent at the imperial court. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and of the National Art-Collections Fund.]
[View of the south front of the house of the Begum Sombre at Delhi. Begum Samru's house in Chandini chowk, was built in colonial style with massive columns. It was converted into a Bank and has been subsequently altered, so that it is unrecognisable.]
Inscribed: naqsha-i kothi-i Baygam Sumru sahib.
South view of Her late Highness the Begum Sombre’s Palace facing the Chandnee Chowk or Principal Street.
[View of the north front of the house of the Begum Sombre at Delhi]
North view of the above [i.e. the Begum Samru’s house].
The Begum Sombre was the widow of Walter Reinihard born of obscure parents in the Electorate of Treves, from whence he entered early into the French Service assuming the name of Summer, but from the darkness of his complexion he received the Sobriquet of Sonbre subsequently corrupted with Sumroo, by which name Her Highness was generally known, though she always styled herself the Begum Sombre.
Sumroo soon after his enlistment in the French Service came to Bengal, entered a Swiss Corps in Calcutta from which he deserted in 15 days, fled to the Upper Provinces and served some time as a private trooper in the cavalry of Sufdur Jung - Page 24 (f. 28). This service he also quitted and became attached to the service of the Nabob of Bengal, in which station he massacred the English Captives in Patna in 1763. He again deserted from the Newab, served successively the Principal Chiefs of the time, and died in 1776.
The Begum’s origin is involved in doubt. By some she is supposed to have been a good Moghul Family, by others a native of Cashmere and to have been sold to Sonbre as a slave. She was of slight stature, of fair complexion, distinguished by abilities of no common order and a daring seldom possessed by her sex- having more than once headed her own troops in action. On the death of her husband she succeeded to his Principality yielding about 90,000£ per annum, and on the introduction of the British Rule in 1803, she managed with much address to retain her possessions as an Independent Ruler. Her conduct in the internal management of her estate was highly commendable. She died at Sirdhanah, the capital of her Principality, in January 1837 at the age of 85, bequeathing the greater part of her property to an adopted son of the name of Dyce, who assumed also that of Sombre, of some celebrity in England.