Transfer of the Mysore Princes to Vellore (18th of June, 1799)

Shortly after the fall of Srirangapatna on 4th May, 1799, the families of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were exiled to Vellore by the British, 'with the least practicable injury to their feelings'. "I determined to grant the families of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan a more magnificent maintenance than either had enjoyed during the late reign, and to provide with the same liberality for the principal Mohammedan officers and chiefs of the state, and for the families of all those who had fallen in the course of the war", writes Lord Mornington [Richard Marquess Wellesley, the then Governor General of Fort William, Bengal] to the Court of Directors.

The fort of Vellore has been chosen for the prison of Tipu's family, since it was one of the strongest places in India. Mummudi Krishnaraja Wodeyar [at that time a child of 5 years], a descendant of the Wodeyar Rajas of Mysore, was placed upon the throne, on 30th June.

This difficult task of informing the Mysore Princes, the son of Tipu Sultan, about their transfer to Vellore, was entrusted to Colonel Arthur Wellesley by the Governor General Richard Marquess Wellesley [known as Lord Mornington and Lord Wellesley, elder brother of Arthur Wellesley].

The Unfortunate Fateh Hyder:


Fateh Hyder said that he had surrendered himself trusting the words of the British that they would place him on the throne of his father's dominions, as had done at Tanjore (Thanjavur) and Oudh. Here's a brief narrative of Colonel Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, informing Prince Fateh Hyder and his three brothers about their removal to Vellore:

Having made the necessary preparations for the departure of the four eldest sons of the late Tipu Sultan, as far as they could be made without disclosing their object, I waited upon Fateh Hyder on 16th, for delivering the letter addressed to him by the Governor General, and of informing him of his Lordship's wishes that he should remove from hence into the Carnatic.

I first told him that I had been ordered by the General to make known to him his wishes. I explained to him that, after a due consideration of the affairs of this country, the Governor General had not thought it compatible with the interests of the British nation and of its allies to place him or any of his family upon the musnud (throne). However, that his conduct in coming in, and since he had come in, had not passed unnoticed, and that the Governor General had determined to give the family of Tipu Sultan an allowance which was not to exceed 7 lacs of rupees. I then observed that it must be unpleasant to his feelings to see the government of this country pass into the hands of others; and that for his own sake, as well as for the ease and convenience of the government to be established in Mysore, it was desirable that he should remove into another country. On this account, I told him that I had been ordered to request that he would prepare to remove immediately to Vellore in the Carnatic, and that the next day had been fixed for his departure.

Arthur-Wellesley-1st-Duke-of-Wellington-oil on canvas-by-Robert Home

Fateh Hyder was much surprised at what I had said; he said that he had received a cowle (an engagement, lease or grant in writing), and had come in upon it; he added that it had been the custom of the British nation, when it had conquered kings and people in India, to restore to the former their governments. He instanced the cases of Tanjore (Thanjavur) and Oudh. He said, however, supposing that it was not thought proper that he should govern this country, there was no reason why he should be removed from it. He declared that he would never leave the tombs of his father and grandfather, nor to leave his father's family; he asked emphatically what was to become of them if he should leave them.

I told him that I did not conceive there was anything in the cowle which had been sent to him which either gave him grounds to hope that he should be permitted to govern this country, or that prevented the Governor General from exercising the power that all governments in India had of ordering their subjects to quit one place and to reside in another; that I acknowledged the generosity of the British nation in the instances to which he had alluded, but I observed that in these the exercise of its generosity was not incompatible with its interests and those of its allies; that the families which, after having been conquered, had been restored to power, had not been intimately connected in politics with our irreconcilable enemies for the sole object of driving us out of India, and that therefore it had not been deemed incompatible with our interests that they should still govern their countries; that there was no intention of separating him from the families of his father and grandfather longer than was necessary to procure conveyance for the latter to the Carnatic, and that in the mean time they would be under my protection; that he ought to recollect that he did not come in till twelve days after the assault, during which time his own as well as his father's family had been under my protection, and that they had not suffered, and that he had no reason to fear that they would suffer from his absence upon the present occasion. I then told him that what had been proposed was for his sake as well as for the ease of the government of this country; that he must be aware that he would be an object of suspicion here at all times, and that he might expect that the smallest indiscretion on his part would occasion the detention of his person.

Fateh Hyder still quoted the cowle, and was anxious to know what part of the allowance for the family he was to have, I told him 50,000 rupees annually. He then said that he should consult some of his friends upon the subject. I told him that he was to consider what I told him as the General's order, which it was my duty to see obeyed, and that I should send Major Marriott to him in an hour to take his directions respecting the carriage of his baggage and family. I then took my leave.

I repeated what I had said to Fateh Hyder to the other princes. Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din expressed no anxiety excepting about the amount of their allowance. The other, Muhi-ud-din, said that he should consult his friends. I told him that I conveyed orders, and that whatever might be the result of the consultation they must be obeyed. He agreed that they should.

Fateh Hyder and Muhi-ud-din called upon me in the evening, and expressed a desire to carry away half of the family of Hyder Ali and half of that of Tipu. I told them that they might carry away as many as they pleased, but that the means of carriage at present were calculated and provided for the members of their own families, and that it had been thought most advisable to defer sending the families of their father and grandfather to a future opportunity.

In the morning they called again, with a long list of doolies, camels, elephants, bandies etc., which they wanted for the removal of the families of Hyder Ali and of Tipu; but having informed them that we had means of carriage only for their own families, they expressed themselves satisfied, and prepared to depart.

Journey of the Princes to Vellore:

The four eldest sons of Tipu Sultan: Fateh Hyder, Abdul Khaliq, Muiz-ud-din and Muhi-ud-din - with their families, attended by Major Marriott and escorted by a detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Coke, left Srirangapatna for Vellore on 18th June 1799.

As they passed through the streets of Srirangapatna, the procession attracted vast crowds to take a farewell look at the sons of their late sovereign.

Fateh Hyder (about 26 years of age) seemed to be very solicitous about his wives and children. Two of his children died upon the road; they were buried in the jungles, of necessity, without any ceremonies. One of these infants was extremely ill at setting out, but Fateh Hyder insisted upon taking it with him. He afterwards stated that "the Fakirs had prepared a number of charms and spells for the preservation of its life, but they had been deceived".

On their arrival to the fort of Vellore on 12th July, the Princes were received by Lieutenant-colonel Doveton. Their allowance had been fixed at 50,000 rupees each, per year.

Fateh Hyder was rather reserved and depressed. Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, the hostage princes, were thoroughly accustomed to European manners. Muiz-ud-din was very anxious to reach Vellore, and often requested the escort to make longer marches. Muhi-ud-din, though fifteen years old, was just taken out of the zenana. He appeared rather timid, though his mind was free from suspicion. He was amiable, engaging and attentive to every thing which constitutes true politeness.

Major Marriott, on leaving Vellore, waited on the Princes at their houses, to receive any requests they have to lay before the Commissioners [General Harris, Colonel Arthur Wellesley, Henry Wellesley, Lieut. Col. Kirkpatrick and Lieut. Col. Barry Close were officers; Captains Malcolm and Munro were Secretaries; and Edward Golding was Assistant Secretary]. Fateh Hyder requested a village or jagir, at his disposal, from which he could procure his own supplies of straw, firewood etc. He observed that, as he had brought his mother and other female relatives with him, he expected some additional allowance would be made to him. Abdul Khaliq, unprincely in his ideas, and extremely avaricious, begged that the great difference in the prices of rice might be considered, between the bazaars of Srirangapatna and Vellore. Muhi-ud-din apologized for any negligence on his part, in not replying to the letter he received from the Governor General, on leaving Srirangapatna; he stated that as he had, with his brothers, been since wholly occupied with the journey, it was more owing to the want of opportunity than to any want of respect. Muiz-ud-din, passionately attached to his amusements (particularly his horses) and to the society of the English, observed that Major Marriott was perfectly acquainted with his situation, and that he had no request of any kind to trouble him with.

The younger princes followed later.

Lord Valentia's Visit to Vellore:

George Annesley, 2nd Earl of Mountnorris, styled Viscount Valentia visited Vellore in February 1804. He says that about 3000 guards were there in the fort. He did not personally visited the Princes, but consulted Major Marriott, who gave him the below information:-

There are, in all, twelve sons and eight daughters of Tipu Sultan. They occupy the ancient palace, to which very large additions were made previously to their arrival. The public apartments are handsome, and common to all of them; but within, each has his own. They are treated with great attention, and have every indulgence that is consistent with the safe custody of their persons. At present they are totally deprived of the liberty of quitting the fort, and even at each door of the palace people are placed to watch them. These strict precautions have only been used since the attempt to liberate them.

All the sons, except the four eldest, have only 25,000 rupees per annum, which they receive on their being fourteen years old. The females are nearly eight hundred in number, including several of Hyder's. Those of rank have each a separate room, and a small allowance of pocket-money; but the whole harem is supplied with provisions, as in the time of Tipu.

In order that they might be able to converse with Major Marriot, who had the whole arrangement of their affairs, without a breach of Musalman propriety, they adopted him into the family, and, consequently, call him brother. He assures me that they are happy and satisfied. Indeed they have most certainly suffered no loss, as their lot is much better than it would have been under any successor of Tipu's. They come from different parts of the world, and each furnishes her apartment according to the fashion of her own country. Major Marriot has therefore the singular knowledge of the manners of the harem of Persia, Delhi and many other Musalman kingdoms. The allowances made by Tipu Sultan to his family, and that of Hyder, including the whole expenses of their maintenance, were little more than a lac of pagodas, yet the British have liberally appropriated two lacs for the use of the prisoners, which is found to be more than sufficient; though if all the sons should increase their families like Fateh Hyder, it will be difficult to say, what will be requisite. I pity most the young females, many of whom were betrothed before the death of their father, but have not yet been permitted to go to their husbands. It may be dangerous to extend the alliance of a family, which has been always looked up to as the head of the Musalman religion in the East.

In a small habitation near the palace resides a brother of Tipu, who is deranged. Major Marriot had much trouble in removing him from Srirangapatna. He intoxicated himself with bang, and sallied forth at the head of his women, declaring that he would not go. His poor women fell at the feet of the Major, conjuring him not to put their master to death. At length he was forced into a palanquin by two stout eunuchs, and care was taken that he should have no more bang.

William Harness, an Officer of George III, visited Tipu's eldest sons, sometime before 1804. He notes: "They live in a kind of state, but their palace is a prison, and every attendant a spy, even their letters undergo the inspection of the Commandant before they are suffered to be dispatched. Futty Hyder the Eldest has very courtly manners, and he is said to be very well informed. Their houses and families are separate, they are allowed too a liberal establishment so that their misery is splendid".