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POTTINGER, SIR HENRY

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POTTINGER, SIR HENRY (1789-1856), soldier and diplomat, son of Eldred Curwen Pottinger, was born on 3 Ocober 1789. He obtained a cadetship in the Indian army in 1804. During 1809-11, he explored the country between Persia and India travelling incognito. He reported the results of his journey which were published in 1816 in book form in London under the title, Travels in Beluchistan and Sinde. In 1825, he was appointed resident in Cutch. In October 1831, Lord William Bentinck sent Henry Pottinger to Sindh on a "commercial" mission to persuade the Amirs to participate in the Indus navigation scheme.

The real objective of his mission, however, was to forestall the Sikh advance in the direction. The growing Russo Persian threat to India`s northwestern bor ders had made Lord William Bentinck realize that not only the extension of Sikh power in the region had to be curbed but a closer union had to be forged with the countries along the whole course of the Indus. No intimation of the real object of Pottinger`s mission was, however, given to anyone. At the Ropar meeting in October 1831, Lord William Bentinck had given only evasive answers to the Maharaja`s insistence on a positive assurance of noninterference in his projected conquest of Sindh. In 1836, Lord Auckland deputed Henry Pottinger to the Amirs, to negotiate an offensive and defensive alliance with them without giving them protection against the Sikhs.

Pottinger`s manoeuverings in Sindh yielded results. The Amirs were forced to conclude a treaty with Pottinger on 20 April 1838. British diplomacy in Sindh had permanently thwarted Ranjit Singh`s designs on that country. Pottinger, who remained political agent in Sindh from 1836-40, was created in 1840 a baronet in recognition of his services. In 1843, he was appointed the first British governor of Hong Kong. He returned to England the following year and was made a privy councillor. From 1846-47, he was governor of the Cape of Good Hope and in 1847 was sent to India again, this time as governor of Madras. Pottinger died at Malta in 1856.

References :

1. Hasrat, Bikramajit, Anglo-Sikh Relations, 1799-1849. Hoshiarpur, 1968
2. Buckland, C.E., Dictionary of Indian Biography. London, 1906

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