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Afghanistan 1809-1838: Sources in the India Office Records

 

Chronology 1809-1838

The Bala Hissar and the city of Kabul

The Bala Hissar and the city of Kabul from the citadel. Watercolour. J.Atkinson, 1839. ©The British Library Board [WD 2404

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1809Defeat of Shah Shuja by Shah Mahmud at the Battle of Nimla; Shah Mahmud regains throne, appoints Fath Khan of the Payendah Khel as his Wazir (Prime Minister)
1810British regain control of the Indian Ocean from the French
1811Kashmir subdued and Muhammad Azim Khan of the Payendah Khel appointed Governor
1815Final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo; end of French threat to India
1816Persian forces move on Herat; Hajji Feroze, the ruler, appeals to his brother Shah Mahmud for help. Fath Khan marches to Herat, imprisons Hajji Feroze and sends him to Kabul
1817The Saddozais turn against Fath Khan and the Payendah Khel
1818Kamran Mirza, son of Shah Mahmud, blinds Fath Khan at Herat. Shah Mahmud defeated by forces under Dost Muhammad Khan of the Payendah Khel. Shah Mahmud kills Fath Khan. Saddozai dynasty retreats to Herat. Muhammed Azim Khan, eldest surviving member of the Payendah Khel, becomes ruler of Kabul
1818British rule reaches to the Sutlej
1819Sikhs annex Kashmir
1819-26Travels of William Moorcroft and George Trebeck in the Himalayas, Afghanistan and Central Asia
1819-26Civil War between different brothers of the Payendah Khel
1822Peshawar added to the domains of Ranjit Singh but governed by Payendah Khel sirdars until 1834. Muhammad Azim Khan dies, succeeded as ruler of Kabul by his son, Habibullah
1823Sikh rule over the Derajat and Baluchistan established
1826Dost Muhammad Khan becomes ruler of Kabul and a restricted surrounding area
1829Death of Shah Mahmud at Herat. succeeded by Kamran Mirza, his son
1830-31Travels of Lieutenant Arthur Conolly in Central Asia and Afghanistan
1832Lieutenant Alexander Burnes and companions travel to Bokhara
1834Abortive attempt by Shah Shuja to regain the throne. Charles Masson appointed news-writer to the Government of India in Kabul
1836Dost Muhammad Khan has himself crowned in Kabul with the title of Amir. G.T. Vigne, a London barrister, visits Afghanistan
1837Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger of the Bombay Artillery travels in Afghanistan and reaches Herat. Herat besieged by Persians; Pottinger aids the Wazir, Yar Muhammad, in its defence. Skirmishing between Afghans and Sikhs. Alexander Bumes sent on a commercial mission from the Government of India to Dost Muhammad Khan; Dost Muhammad Khan receives Captain Vitkevitch, a Russian envoy, in Kabul
1838Failure of Burnes' mission to Kabul; Vitkevitch returns to St Petersburg, has his mission disowned and commits suicide
1826-38Travels of Charles Masson (James Lewis) in Afghanistan and surrounding areas

 

Sources

Apart from official documents in the India Office Records, there are also plenty of travelogues generated during this period. Moorcroft and Trebeck's papers were edited posthumously. These firsthand reports are included here as primary sources.

Publications

Burnes, Lt-Col Sir Alexander. Travels into Bokhara: being the account of a journey from India to Cabul, Tartary and Persia - performed under the orders of the Supreme Government of India in the years 1831, 1832 and 1833.
London, 1834

Cabool: being a personal narrative of a journey to and residence in that city, in the years 1836, 1837 and 1838. London, 1842

Conolly, Lt Arthur. Journey to the North of India overland from England through Russia, Persia and Afghanistan. London, 1834

Lal, Munshi Mohan. Journal of a tour through the Pun jab, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Khorasan and part of Persia in company with Lt Burnes, and Dr Gerard. Calcutta, 1834

Travels in the Punjab, Afghanistan and Turkistan to Balk, Bokhara and Heart. London, 1846

Masson, Charles. Narrative of various journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan and the Punjab including a residence in those countries from 1826 to 1838. London, 1842. See also Private Papers

Moorcroft, William and Trebeck, George. Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan, and the Punjab, in Ladakh and Kashmir; in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara, by Mr William Moorcroft and Mr George Trebeck from 1819 to 1825, ed H.H. Wilson. London, 1841. See also Private Papers.

Vigne, Godfrey T. A. Personal narrative of a visit to Ghazni, Kabul and Afghanistan and of a residence at the Court of Dost Muhammad; with notices of Ranjit Singh, Khiva and the Russian expedition. London, 1840

Wood, Lt John (IN) A personal narrative of a journey to the sources of the River Oxus, by the route of the Indus, Kabul and Badakhshan, performed under the orders of the Supreme Government of India in the years 1836, 1837and 1838. London, 1841

India Office Records

[IOR:F] Board of Control Records

F/4 Board's Collections, 1796-1858 See under headings relevant to specific places or events in the subject index.

[IOR:L/MIL] Military Department

See Service Army Lists for careers of Burnes, Conolly, Pottinger

[IOR:L/PS] Political and Secret Department

L/PS/4 Abstracts and Notes of Board of Control correspondence in the Secret, Political and Foreign Departments, 1784-1838; see also Z/L/P&S/4 Registers and Indexes

L/PS/5 Secret letters and enclosures from India, 1756-1874
NB: A number of enclosures to Secret Letters, consisting of reports on the missions of Burnes and Conolly seem to have been kept separately from the main series and are at present listed under L/P&S/20 (see below)

L/PS/6 Political letters and enclosures from India, 1792-1874

L/PS/9 Letters and enclosures from areas outside India, 1781-1911 Some letters from the Envoy in Persia, etc, give accounts of affairs in Afghanistan

L/PS/19/26 Papers on the Trade of Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries (Country between the Indus and the Caspian), by Mr CE Trevelyan and Lt A Conolly, 1831

L/PS/19/42-43 Travels into Bokhara, Pts I and II, by Lt A Burnes, 1832-35

L/PS/19/44 Political report on the countries between India and Russia by Lt A Burnes, 1833 (Bk I)

L/PS/19/45 Commerce of Central Asia by Lt A Burnes, 1833 (Bk 2)

L/PS/19/46 Military memoir on the countries between Russia and India by Lt A Burnes, 1833 (Bk 3)

L/PS/19/47 General and geographical memoir: an account of the kingdom of Bokhara by Lt A Burnes, 1833 (Bk 4) (Some, but not all of the above, were originally received as enclosures to Secret Letters)

L/PS/20 Political and Secret Department Library.

[IOR:P] Proceedings

Bengal Secret and Political, 1786-1858

Agra / North Western Provinces Political, 1834-77

India Secret and Political, 1834-58
(see in index under 'Native Powers' and under correspondence with the Resident at Ludhiana, found in India Proceedings under the index heading 'Lahore, Sikh and Hill Protected States' The Burnes Mission of 1837 has its own separate index heading)

 [MSS EUR] Private Papers

Mss Eur B198

GREY (Henry George), Viscount Howick; 3rd Earl Grey
Letter, dated 8 Oct 1838, from Henry George Grey, Viscount Howick, later 3rd Earl Grey (1802-94), Secretary at War 1835-39, to Lord John Russell (1792-1878), Home Secretary 1835-39, criticising Government policy towards Afghanistan, Persia, and more particularly Russia.
7 folios, 1838 - 1838

Mss Eur B218

MASSON (Charles ), alias James Lewis
`Private notes of Mr Masson as drawn up from memory': copies of narratives of seven journeys in Afghanistan and the Punjab made c1827-29 by Charles Masson (1800-53), (pseudonym of James Lewis), Bengal Artillery 1822, deserted 1827, traveller, Agent to the Government of India at Kabul 1834-36.
1 volume, 1827 - 1829

Mss Eur B256

BURNES (Alexander ), Lt-Col Sir
Two letters from Lt-Col Sir Alexander Burnes (1805-41), Bombay Army 1821-41, from 1836 engaged on political missions to Afghanistan: (i) dated c1833, concerning his book `Travels in Bokhara' (London 1834); (ii) dated c1840, on the probity of Rahan Dil a merchant of Kabul.
4 folios, 1833 - 1840 5b

Mss Eur C941

LAL (Mohan )
Letter, dated 30 March 1833, describing Herat, from Mohan Lal (d c1870), Persian munshi on expedition of J G Gerard and Alexander Burnes to Bokhara, Afghanistan and Persia 1831-33, to Dr (later Sir) John McNeill (1795-1883), Bombay Medical Service 1816-36, member of British Legation in Persia.
4 folios, 1833 - 1833

Mss Eur F88

ELPHINSTONE (Mountstuart )
Elphinstone Collection (2): papers, correspondence and journals of Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), Bengal Civil Service from 1795, including papers as Envoy to Afghanistan 1808-09, Resident at Poona 1810-17, Commissioner for territories annexed to Bombay 1817-19, Governor of Bombay 1819-27.
483 items, 1790 - 1859

Mss Eur F213

HOBHOUSE (John Cam), Baron Broughton
Broughton Collection: papers and correspondence of John Cam Hobhouse, Baron Broughton (1786-1869), as President of the Board of Control 1835-41 and 1846-52. Topics includes Russian expansion around the First Afghan War period.
123 items, 1827 - 1852

Mss Eur F470

COLVIN (John Russell)
Papers of John Russell Colvin (1807-57), Bengal Civil Service 1826-57, Private Secretary to the Governor-General Lord Auckland 1836-42, Lt-Governor of North Western Provinces 1853-57; also a few papers of or relating to other members of the Colvin family
12 items, 1825 - 1857

Mss Eur G40

MASSON (Charles ), alias James Lewis
Miscellaneous drawings of Afghanistan, Sind and North-Western Provinces, from the collection of Charles Masson (1800-53), (pseudonym of James Lewis), Bengal Artillery 1822, deserted 1827, traveller, Agent to the Government of India at Kabul 1834-36.
76 folios, nd

Mss Eur G41

MASSON (Charles ), alias James Lewis
Drawings of the caves of Jalalabad and Kabul, with descriptions (c1850), from the collection of Charles Masson (1800-53), (pseudonym of James Lewis), Bengal Artillery 1822, deserted 1827, traveller, Agent to the Government of India at Kabul 1834-36.
29 folios, nd

Mss Eur G42

MASSON (Charles ), alias James Lewis
One general view of the caves of Bamian, and drawings of architectural details, with descriptions (c1850), from the collection of Charles Masson (1800-53), (pseudonym of James Lewis), Bengal Artillery 1822, deserted 1827, traveller, Agent to the Government of India at Kabul 1834-36.
13 folios, nd

Mss Eur J631-57

MASSON (Charles ), alias James Lewis
Masson Collection: papers of Charles Masson (1800-53), (pseudonym of James Lewis), Bengal Artillery 1822, deserted 1827, traveller, Agent to the Government of India at Kabul 1834-36, comprising correspondence, journals and narratives and other topographical, historical and numismatic papers, notes, sketch maps and drawings relating to Afghanistan, Punjab, Sind Baluchistan and Persia. Before ordering see printed catalogue for full description and shelfmarks.
29 volumes, 1828 - 1853

Mss Eur K307-64; J 823-24

MOORCROFT (William )
Moorcroft Collection: journals, correspondence and notes of William Moorcroft (1765?-1825), veterinary surgeon in the Bengal Army and superintendent of the Company's stud in Bengal 1808-25, apparently employed as a secret agent, chiefly relating to his journey to Bukhara 1820-25 and describing the Himalayan regions through which he passed. Before ordering see printed catalogue for full description and shelfmarks.
51 volumes, 1812 - 1825

Mss Eur K258-79

RICH (Claudius James)
Rich Collection: papers of Claudius James Rich (1787-1820), traveller and East India Company's Resident at Baghdad 1808-21, chiefly relating to his residence and travels in Mesopotamia and Kurdistan and including journals, field sketches, maps, astronomical, meteorological and survey notes, on which was based much of his `Narrative of a residence in Koordistan... edited by his widow' (London 1836). Before ordering see printed catalogue for full description and shelfmarks.
21 volumes, 1811 - 1822