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ELLENBOROUGH, LORD EDWARD LAW

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ELLENBOROUGH, LORD EDWARD LAW (1790-1871), Governor General of India (1842-44), son of Edward Law, Baron Ellen borough, Lord Chief Justice of England, was born on 8 September 1790. He was educated at Eton and at St John`s College, Cambridge. He became a member of the House of Lords in 1818. He was appointed Lord Privy Seal in 1828 and president of the Board of Control (1828-30) whence began his connection with Indian affairs. He succeeded Lord Auckland as Governor General of India in February 1842. On his arrival in India, Lord Ellenborough found himself confronted with an alarming situation in Afghanistan and northwest frontier.

The garrisons of Jalalabad and Ghazinwcrd surrounded by hostile Afghans; the Qandahar division was unfit to move for lack of support; and of the five brigades moved across the River Ravi, none had yet readied Peshawar. Large Sikh forces were collected at Peshawar where General Pollock with three British brigades felt uneasy at the large assemblage. In that hour of difficulty, voices were being raised for full military support from the Sikhs. Maharaja Sher Singh was being blamed for not having helped his British allies wholeheartedly. When in April 1842, Robert Sale had defeated the Afghan army under the walls of Jalalabad and Pollock had forced the Khaibar, Lord Ellen borough hastily decided to terminate the Tripartite Treaty.

An offer was made to the Sikh government to occupy Jalalabad after the withdrawal of the British army. The offer was in reality aimed at diverting the Sikh troops then employed in the Chinese Teritory, and those garrisoned at Lahore and Amritsar. Ellenborough, who was assembling a large British force on the Anglo Sikh frontier at the River Sutlej, wished lo see the Sikh position weakened by the withdrawal of the Sikh troops. As is evident from his private correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, he was preparing for a war with the Sikhs. The correspondence shows that, as early as October 1843, he had begun to discuss with the Home Government possibilities of a military occuption of the Punjab.

He had laid out a network of spies and agents provocateur in the Sikh capital and had raised the strength of British military outposts to 11,639 men and 48 guns. A flotilla of seventy 35 ton boats to bridge the Sutlej at Firozpur had been under construction. Ellen borough wrote in April 1844: "Let our policy [towards the Sikhs] be what it may, the contest must come at last, and the intervening time that may be given to us should be employed in unostentatious but vigilant preparation." Two years after his return to England, Ellenborough became First Lord of Admiralty in Sir Robert Peel`s ministry in 1846. In 1858, under Lord Derby he became president of the Board of Control. He died on 22 December 1871.

References :

1. Hasrat, B.J., Thr Punjab Pnpeis. Hosbiarpm, 1970
2. Law, Algernon, India Undpr Lord Ellenlwrough 1842-44. London,1926
3. Buckland, C.E., Dic/ionmy of Indian Biography. London, 1906

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