BROUGHTON PAPERS are official and private papers of Sir John Cam Hobhouse (Lord Broughton) in numerous bound volumes in the British Library. Lord Broughton, British administrator, who served as President of the Board of Control of the East India Company from 1835-41 and again from 1846-52, was responsible for the Home Government`s major policy decisions on the Punjab and the Sikhs.

The relevant volumes in the Broughton Papers dealing with the Punjab and the Sikhs, in general, are: (1) MS. vol. XIV containing papers concerning the British attitude towards the Russo Persian menace in 1836-38, which led to the signing of the Tripartite treaty between the British government, Shah Shuja` and Ranjit Singh in 1838. (2) MSS. vols. 3647374 containing private correspondence of Lord Auckland with Sir John Hobhouse from 1835-41 throw fresh light on the British policy towards Afghanistan, Sindh and Lahore.

The correspondence shows how Auckland was influenced by men like Macnaghten, Burnes and Wade to accept the scheme of resuscitating Saddozai power in Afghanistan with Ranjit Singh`s help. Included in the correspondence is a report on the military strength of the Sikhs by Sir Henry Fane, the British commander -in-chief, who visited Lahore in March 1837 on the occasion of the marriage of the Maharaja`s grandson, Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh.

The background to the Burnes` Mission to Kabul in September 1837, its ultimate failure, and Ranjit Singh`s suspicions that the British would appease the Afghans at the cost of the Sikhs are clear from the letters dated 5 August, 8 September and 9 October 1837. Schemes for the subversion of the authority of Dost Muhammad Khan, Auckland`s decision in May 1838 to send a mission to the court of Ranjit Singh and the signing of the Tripartite treaty, furnish fresh data not found in the public records of the period. (3) MS. vol. 36475 containing Lord Hardinge`s private correspondence with Sir John Hobhouse relates to the period from May 1846 to February 1848.

This correspondence is of particular relevance to understanding Hardinge`s “political experiment” in the Punjab. It reveals that his avoidance of annexation after the first Anglo Sikh war was really motivated to destroy the Sikhs as a political and military power. Also fresh light is thrown on Lal Singh`s administration and the Kashmir revolt, which led to his expulsion from the Punjab. Hardinge`s defence of his questionable deal with Gulab Singh regarding the sale of Kashmir, which aroused vehement Whig criticism in England is found in his letter of 7 June 1846. Events leading to the second treaty of Lahore (December 1846), which transformed the kingdom of Ranjit Singh into a British protectorate, are described with extraordinary candour.

(4) MSS. vols. 3647677 include Lord Dalhousie`s private correspondence with Sir John Hobhouse from 20 January 1848 to 3 March 1853. These volumes deal with the main events of Multan and Hazara revolts, the details of the second Anglo Sikh war and the annexation of the Punjab. Sundry letters of the years 1849-53 refer also to events connected with the life of Maharaja Duleep Singh after his deposition. This correspondence proves beyond any doubt that Dalhousie allowed the Multan revolt to spread for five` months, refused any help to Herbert Edwardes to suppress the rebellion and, linking up the isolated Hazara uprising in the northwest with it, indicted the Sikhs for a conspiracy to overthrow British power in the Punjab.

He had already ordered Lord Hugh Gough, the British commander-in-chief, in April 1848, to assemble a large army for a full-scale invasion of the Punjab. It is abundantly clear from these documents that the second Anglo Sikh war was fought and precariously won without a formal declaration and the Punjab was annexed to the British empire without any positive directions from the government. The correspondence concerning the Sikhs and the Punjab in the Broughton Papers has been published vide BJ. Hasrat (ed.), The Punjab Papers, Hoshiarpur, 1970.

References :

1. Hasrat, BJ., ed., The Punjab Papers. Hoshiarpur, 1970