Letters of Mysore Princes Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din to Lord Cornwallis

After Tipu Sultan's defeat in the 3rd Anglo-Mysore War, his two sons, Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, were handed over as hostages to the British on March 19, 1792.

In a letter dated February 29, 1792, Tipu Sultan expressed his gratitude for Lord Cornwallis' kind words about his sons and his positive attitude towards them. He stated that he had sent them to Lord Cornwallis wholly for the sake of their education and the benefit of his society. Tipu Sultan was confident that Lord Cornwallis, with his esteemed position and reputation, would continue to show kindness and friendship towards his sons and oversee their education.

The hostages were transported to Madras and housed at Fort St. George for almost two years. Ghulam Ali Khan and Ali Raza Khan, the vakils of Tipu Sultan, remained with them in Madras during this time. Captain Doveton was appointed by Lord Cornwallis to care for the princes and organize their education.

Marquess Cornwallis Receiving the Hostage Princes of Mysore Before Seringapatam (oil on canvas) - Arthur William Devis

During their time in Madras, the princes engaged in social gatherings and attended various performances. They also had their portraits painted by artists John Smart and Arthur William Devis. They even hosted a dinner for Sir Charles Oakley, the Governor of Madras.

There are a few Persian letters associated with the princes Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din. These letters were likely written for the princes by Ghulam Ali Khan and Ali Raza Khan, but were always signed by the princes themselves. Interestingly, some of the letters were even written by the princes themselves.

In July 1792, Lord Cornwallis wrote to Tipu Sultan about his intention to return to Bengal: "It affords me particular pleasure to mention the good health of your sons whose happiness and comfort have been my constant object. I have particularly recommended to the Government of Madras to continue to show them that attention during my absence."

Upon Lord Cornwallis's arrival in Calcutta, the princes sent him letters expressing their delight at his safe journey and gratitude for the kindness he had shown them during his time in Madras.

In a letter received at Bengal in August 1792, Ghulam Ali Khan and Ali Raza Khan, wrote to Lord Cornwallis: "The young princes are for ever talking of and recollecting your Lordship's great goodness towards them."

"By the blessing of God the two young princes are very well and are for ever discoursing on the subject of your Lordship's goodness and friendship, but particularly Sultan Muiz-ud-din, who continually says that Lord Cornwallis has brought me away from Tipu Sultan and has left me here, going himself away for Bengal; this was by no means proper. If his Lordship will return in a week or ten days very well, otherwise you must carry me to him," wrote Ghulam Ali Khan and Ali Raza Khan, in a letter to Lord Cornwallis, received on 15 September, 1792.


In a subsequent correspondence, the vakils informed him that the princes were being escorted every Friday to Sir Charles Oakley, who had been exceptionally gracious and kind to them. Sir Charles Oakley had assumed the position of Governor of Madras following General Meadows in August of 1792.

In a letter addressed to Ghulam Ali Khan and Ali Raza Khan, Tipu Sultan informed them: "You will take care in instructing my sons to speak slow and properly to Lord Cornwallis...The visit of my sons to the Nawab of Arcot agreeable to the opinion of Lord Cornwallis, the Nawab's visit to them, the presents of jewels, Khillaats and elephants, were all extremely proper; the visit of my sons to the Governor of Madras and to Lady Oakley whose behavior to them was very friendly is all very proper."

In January 1793, prince Muiz-ud-din wrote a letter of gratitude to Lord Cornwallis for the presents he had sent to him.

In November 1792, the princes had another meeting with the Carnatic (Arcot) Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah. Tipu Sultan's letter received on 11 February 1793, states that he is glad to know that his sons were taken to see the Nawab of Arcot who also returned their visit and gave them costly presents. Tipu sent some presents to the Nawab in return.

When Lord Cornwallis received the title of Marquis from the King of England, the princes sent a letter to extend their congratulations and requested him to meet them before his departure for England. They also expressed a desire to return to Mysore.

In a letter written on April 1793, Tipu Sultan requests Cornwallis to "take the trouble of going in person to Madras, and in your own presence send my sons to me." In June 1793, Lord Cornwallis informed Tipu of "his anxious wish to see his sons at Madras prior to his final departure for Europe."

In August 1793, Lord Cornwallis again embarked for Madras on his way to England.


Tipu Sultan had been punctual in his payments and had released all the poisoners of war. He requested Lord Cornwallis: "It is incumbent on your Lordship to go in person to Madras and see my sons who will be sent back while your Lordship is present that the happiness of friends may be increased." This letter was received in September 1793.

Cornwallis had hoped to be able to return the princes to their father before leaving India. However, a dispute over some villages claimed by the Nizam with respect to the treaty of Srirangapatna caused a delay in the princes' return.

Consequently, this task was left to Sir John Shore, later known as Lord Teignmouth, who took over as Governor General of India on October 28, 1793, following Lord Cornwallis.

Before the princes left Madras on February 27, 1794, they sent their last letter to Lord Cornwallis, who was by then in England. In this letter, they expressed their deep sorrow at his departure and reiterated their heartfelt gratitude for the kindness he had shown them.


Some Unpublished Persian Letters of the Hostage Princes By Mr. I. H. Baqai