ABBOTT, SIR JAMES
ABBOTT, SIR JAMES (1807-1896), British Resident\’s assistant at Lahore, capital of the sikh kingdom, after the first Anglo – Sikh war (1845-46), was born on 12 March 1807, the son of Henry Alexius Abbott. Passing out of the military college of the East India Company at Addiscombe, England, Abbott received commission as a second lieutenant in the Bengal artillery in 1823. In November 1830, he joined the army of the Indus, under Sir John Keane, for the invasion of Afghanistan. In 1842, he was appointed assistant to the British Resident at Indore.
In 1846, Abbott was designated commissioner for settlement of the Punjab boundaries. He became Resident\’s assistant at Hazara in 1848. From Hazara, he sent reports to the British Resident at Lahore accusing Chatar Singh Atarivala, the governor of Hazara, of high treason and describing him as the leader of a conspiracy for a general uprising of the Sikhs against the British. A minor disaffection in August 1848 in a Sikh brigade stationed at Hazara so excited Abbott that, without any authority, he took upon himself to suppress what he described as “the national rising of the Sikhs.
” He incited the Hazara chiefs and the armed Muslim peasantry to destroy the Sikh brigade. He then raised Muslim levies and marched on Hazara to expel Chatar Singh, the governor. Abbott\’s mercenary force surrounded the town. Commodore Canora, the Armenian artillery commander of the fortress, whom Abbott had won over, refused to move his batteries at Chatar Singh\’s orders. At the orders of the Sikh governor, Canora was overpowered and killed. Abbott now demanded retribution, but Sir Frederick Currie, the Resident at Lahore, did not approve of the assumption of civil and military authority by his subordinate.
Abbott, however, ignored the protestations from the Lahore residency and set up a jihad, crusade, against the Sikhs. His acts provoked the Hazara revolt which culminated in the second Anglo-Sikh war. James Abbott wrote The Narrative: An Account of Personal Sendees at Hazara, an English manuscript referred to by Captain L. J. Trotter in his The Life of John Nicholson -Soldier and Administrator. The chronicle gives details from Abbott\’s point of view of Chatar Singh Atarivala\’s revolt against the British at Hazara and at Lahore. James Abbott who retired as a general died on 6 October 1896.
1. Hasrat, B. J., ed. and annot.. The Punjab Papers. Hoshiarpur, 1970
2. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs. Princeton, 1963,1966
3. Buckland, C.E., Dictionary of Indian Biography. London,1906