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Malcolm, Sir John

MALCOLM, SIR JOHN (1760-1833), Anglo-Indian soldier, diplomatist, administrator and author, was born at Burnfoot on the Esk, near Langholm, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on the 2nd of May 1769. His father was a humble farmer, but three of his sons attained the honour of knighthood. At the age of twelve he received a cadetship in the Indian army, and in April 1 783 he landed at Madras, shortly afterwards joining his regiment at Vellore. In 1792, having for some time devoted himself to the study of Persian, he was appointed to the staff of Lord Cornwallis as Persian interpreter, but two years afterwards was compelled by ill health to leave for England. On his return to India in 1796 he became military secretary to Sir Alured Clarke, commander-in-chief at Madras, and afterwards to his successor General Harris; and in 1798 he was appointed by Lord Wellesley assistant to the resident at Hyderabad. In the last-mentioned capacity he highly distinguished himself by the manner in which he gave effect to the difficult measure of disbanding the French corps in the pay of the nizam. In 1799, under the walls of Seringapatam, began his intimacy with Colonel ArthurWellesley, which in a short time ripened into a life-long friendship. In the course of the same year he acted as first secretary to the commission appointed to settle the Mysore government, and before its close he was appointed by Lord Wellesley to proceed as envoy to the court of Persia for the purpose of counteracting the policy of the French by inducing that country to form a British alliance. Arriving at Teheran in December 1800, he was successful in negotiating favourable treaties, both political and commercial, and returned to Bombay by way of Bagdad in May 1801. He now for some time held the interim post of private secretary to Lord Wellesley, and in 1803 was appointed to the Mysore residency. At the close of the Mahratta War, in 1804, and again in 1805, he negotiated important treaties with Sindhia and Holkar, and in 1806, besides seeing the arrangements arising out of these alliances carried out, he directed the difficult work of reducing the immense body of irregular native troops. In 1808 he was again sent on a mission to Persia, but circumstances prevented him from getting beyond Bushire; on his reappointment in 1810, he was successful indeed in procuring a favourable reception at court, but otherwise bis embassy, if the information which he afterwards incorporated in his works on Persia be left out of account, was (through no fault of his) without any substantial result. He sailed for England in 1811, and shortlyafter his arrival in the following year was knighted. His intervals of leisure he devoted to literary work, and especially to the composition of a History of Persia, which was published in two quarto volumes in 1815. On his return to India in 1817 he was appointed by Lord Moira his political agent in the Deccan, with eligibility for military command; as brigadier-general under Sir T. Hislop he took a distinguished part in the victory Mchidpur (December 21, 1817), as also in the subsequent work of following up the fugitives, determining the conditions of peace and settling the country. In 1821 he returned once more to England, where he remained until 1827, when he was appointed governor of Bombay. His influence in this office was directed to the promotion of various economical reforms and useful administrative measures. Leaving India for the last time in 1830, he shortly after his arrival in England entered parliament as member for Launceston, and was an active opponent of the Reform Bill. He died of paralysis on the 30th of May 1833.

Besides the work mentioned above, Sir John Malcolm published Sketch of the Political History of India since . . . 1784 (in 1811 and 1826) ; Sketch of the Sikhs (1812) ; Observations on the Disturbances in the Madras Army in 1809 (1812) ; Persia, a Poem, anonymous (1814) ; A Memoir of Central India (2 vols., 1823); and Sketches of Persia, anonymous (1827). A posthumous work, Life of Robert, Lord Clive, appeared in 1836. See Life and Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm, by J. W. Kaye (2 vols.. 1856).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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