The Hostage Princes: Surrender of Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din to Lord Cornwallis

We know that Tipu Sultan was defeated in the 3rd Anglo-Mysore war (1790-1792) by the British East India Company and its two allies, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas, and was compelled to make terms of peace. On 24th February, 1792, preliminary articles of a treaty of peace concluded between Tipu and the allied armies; following were the terms dictated by the Governor-General Charles Marquess Cornwallis to Tipu Sultan:-

1. One half of the dominions of which Tipu Sultan was in possession before the war, to be ceded to the allies [Haripant from the Maratha side; and from the Nizam's part, Sikander Jah, son of Nizam Ali Khan, and his minister Azim-ul-Umra].

2. Three crores and thirty lacs of rupees, to be paid by Tipu Sultan. One crore and sixty-five lacs, to be paid immediately; and the rest, to be paid in three installments, not exceeding four months each.

3. All prisoners of the four powers, from the time of Hyder Ali, to be unequivocally restored.

4. [Any] two of Tipu Sultan's three eldest sons to be given as hostages for a due performance of the treaty.

In this post we are discussing the reception ceremony of the young princes Abdul Khaliq, Tipu's second son aged ten, and Muiz-ud-din, his third son aged eight, and their surrender to Lord Cornwallis as hostages.

Beautiful Paintings by Robert Home and Mather Brown:

Robert Home, who accompanied Cornwallis's army in Mysore, depicted the handover of Tipu Sultan's sons as hostages in a beautiful painting titled 'The Reception of the Mysorean Hostage Princes by Marquis Cornwallis'. He also included his self-portrait, wearing a green jacket, with a portfolio under his arm, on the left of the painting.

Reception of the Mysorean Hostage Princes by Marquis Cornwallis, by Robert Home
'The Reception of the Mysorean Hostage Princes by Marquis Cornwallis', 26 February 1792; Oil on canvas by Robert Home - National Army Museum, London

Lord Cornwallis instructed the vakils, who had conducted the negotiation, to inform Tipu that he wished to pay a visit to his sons as soon as they should reach their tents.

On 26th February 1792, about noon, the young princes left the fort of Srirangapatna to proceed to the headquarters of the British army; the ramparts were crowded with people; Tipu Sultan himself was on the rampart above the gateway. The princes were saluted by the fort on their leaving it and with 21 guns as they approached the British camp. The vakils Ghulam Ali Khan and Ali Raza Khan, conducted the princes Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, to a large tent which was sent by the Sultan for their reception and had been pitched near the mosque redoubt, about a mile from the fort. Here they were received by Sir John Kennaway [Personal Secretary to Lord Cornwallis] and the Maratha and Nizam's vakils, who attended them, accompanied by an escort to British head quarters.

The princes were dressed in long white muslin gowns, and red turbans. They had several rows of large pearls round their necks, from which was suspended an ornament consisting of a ruby and an emerald, surrounded by large brilliants. They had a sprig of rich pearls in their turbans. Abdul Khaliq was rather dark, with thick lips, a small flattish nose, and a long thoughtful countenance. Muiz-ud-din was remarkably fair, with regular features, a small round face, large full eyes, and a more animated appearance.

Each of them mounted on an elephant, richly caparisoned, and seated in a silver howda, and were attended by their father's vakils, and the persons already mentioned, also on elephants. The procession was led by several camel harcarras, and seven standard-bearers carrying small green flags suspended from rockets, followed by 100 pike-men with spears inlaid with silver. Their guard of two hundred Sepoys, and a party of horse, brought up the rear. When they approached the head quarters, the battalion of Bengal Sepoys commanded by Captain Welch formed a street to receive them.

On entering the camp, they were saluted with nineteen guns. Cornwallis received the princes as they dismounted from the elephants; and, after embracing them, led them in one in each hand, to his tent. Ghulam Ali Khan, the head vakil, addressed Lord Cornwallis as follows. "These children were this morning the sons of the Sultan my master; their situation is now changed, and they must look up to your Lordship as their father". Cornwallis assured him and the young princes themselves, that every attention possible would be shown to them. "Their little faces now brightened up", writes Major Alexander Dirom.

After some conversation, Cornwallis presented each of them a gold watch and several other trinkets. Betel nut and attar of roses were then distributed, he then led the princes back to their elephants, embraced them again, and they returned, escorted by their suite and the battalion, to their tents.

On the following day (27th), Cornwallis again paid a visit to the princes at their tents. Sir John Kennaway, the Maratha and the Nizam's vakils, also attended the conference. The princes received them at the entrance. Cornwallis seated himself with the eldest prince on his right hand and the younger on his left.

The Hostage princes with Ghulam Ali Khan; Oil painting by Robert Home - Tipu Sultan Museum, Daria Daulat Bagh, Sriringapatna (

"Abdul Khaliq appeared less serious than yesterday; and when he spoke, was not only graceful in his manner, but had a most affable, animated appearance. However, Muiz-ud-din appeared to be the favourite with the vakils; and, at the desire of Ghulam Ali Khan, recited some verses in Arabic, which he had learned by heart from the Koran, and afterwards some verses in Persian, which he did with great ease and confidence, and showed he had made great progress in his education", says Major Dirom. "The princes themselves, in the whole of their demeanor showed a degree of gracefulness which clearly discovered that their education had been treated with very particular attention", adds R. Mackenzie.

Each of them presented Cornwallis with a fine Persian sword, and in return he gave the eldest a fusee (flintlock gun), and the youngest a pair of pistols. Betel and attar were then brought in; after which the princes conducted Cornwallis towards outside the tent, he then embraced them and took his leave.

Besides their own guards, the hostages were further protected by the 28th battalion of Bengal Sepoys under Captain Welch. Captain Doveton constantly attended in their suite as interpreter.

On 28th morning a royal salute was fired from the fort, announcing the Sultan's satisfaction on hearing the reception and treatment his two sons had met with from Lord Cornwallis.

Still, some difficulties and delays arose on the part of Tipu regarding the final adjustment of the definitive treaty. The demand of Coorg was unexpected by Tipu; he asserted that as the territory of Coorg was very close to his capital, and were by no means adjacent to the countries of the allies, it could not be demanded according to the preliminary articles of peace. But Cornwallis was determined to take possession of Coorg. He even made preparations for recommencing the attack.

On 14th March, escort of the princes were strengthened by 19th light dragoons and were directed to proceed towards Bangalore. Their guards were disarmed and treated as prisoners. The young princes were much affected by this change in affairs. In that critical situation, Tipu had no other way; but to gave his consent for full submission. The princes guard was then restored to them, and the next morning was fixed for the delivery of the treaty to the confederates.

The Treaty of Srirangapatna (19th March, 1792)

The first payment one crore and sixty-five lacs of rupees has been made by Tipu. On 19th March, the young princes, attended and escorted in the same manner as they first arrived in camp, came to perform the ceremony of delivering the definitive treaty, [which is now known as the Treaty of Srirangapatna] to Lord Cornwallis and the allies. They arrived at the head-quarters, at ten o'clock, and were received by Cornwallis. Abdul Khaliq, the elder prince, delivered the parcel which contained the definitive treaty in triplicate, to Lord Cornwallis. The princes having completed the ceremony, and delivered this final testimony of their father's submission, took their leave and returned to their tents. Afterwards, they accompanied Lord Cornwallis to Madras.

"They are at present in much anxiety to reach Madras, and in particular, to see a ship and a coach. A balloon has been described to them; but they wre unwilling to believe in it, even when vouched by the Lord", writes Captain Wight.

Return of the Hostages:

Cornwallis had asked Sir Charles Oakley, Governor of Madras, to provide a suitable residence for the princes, and the spacious and historic bungalow known as Paul Benfield's House, situated in Fort St. George, had been secured for their use. On their arrival at Madras, the princes and their retinue were moved into this house, and a special officer, Captain John Doveton, was appointed to look after them, and to arrange their education. The princes had remained 20 months and 23 days at Madras as hostages; in March 1794 they were returned to their father, on the fulfillment of his promises.


A narrative of the campaign in India, which terminated the war with Tippoo Sultan, in 1792 By Major Dirom

A sketch of the war with Tippoo Sultaun: or, a detail of military operations, from the commencement of hostilities at the lines of Travancore in December 1789, until the peace concluded before Seringapatam in February 1792 By Roderick Mackenzie

Selections from Calcutta gazettes of the year 1792 By W S Seton-Karr, C.S