OCHTERLONY, SIR DAVID (1758-1825), soldier and diplomat, son of David Ochterlony, was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on 12 February 1758. In 1777, he joined the service of the East India Company as a cadet. He served under Lord Lake in the battle of Delhi and was appointed British resident in 1803 at the court of Shāh 'Ālam, emperor of Hindustān. In 1808, he was the garrison commander at Allāhābād when he was ordered to advance to the Sutlej with a detachment to meet the Sikh troops in the cis-Sutlej region. From 1809-14 he was agent to the Governor General at the Ludhiāṇā Political Agency. As Resident at Delhi, he implemented the broad principles of Lord Wellesley's earlier policy towards Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh and the cis Sutlej Sikhs, which aimed at establishing friendly relations with them and weaning them from Marāṭhā influence. He remained active during the Sikh disturbances in the region (1804-05) and recommended to his government to take the Sikh chiefs under its protection.

         In 1809, Ochterlony compiled his well known Report on the Sikh Country which furnished a first-hand statement on the power, revenue and military resources of the cis-Sutlej Sikhs. It referred to the conquests and grants of Raṇjīt Siṅgh during his three Mālvā campaigns and to the ways and means to curtail Raṇjīt Siṅgh's influence in the cis-Sutlej region. The Report enunciated the broad principles of paramountcy and protection offered to protected chiefs.

         Ochterlony possessed considerable experience of Sikh affairs. But he often overestimated his authority, and failed to establish with the Sikh government the amicability enjoined upon by the treaty of Amritsar. His despatches from Ludhiāṇā exhibited an unreasonable obsession on his part with what he called Raṇjīt Siṅgh's schemes of expansion.

         Ochterlony was promoted colonel in January 1812 and in June 1814 he was made major-general. He served in the Nepal war (1814-16) and the Piṇḍārī war (1817-18). In 1818, he was appointed Resident in Rājpūtānā. In 1825, he resigned owing to differences with Lord Amherst on the Bharatpur succession issue. He died on 15 July 1825.


  1. Banerjee, A.C., Anglo-Sikh Relations. Calcutta, 1949
  2. Hasrat, Bikrama Jit, Anglo-Sikh Relations, 1799-1849. Hoshiarpur, 1968
  3. Buckland, C.E., Dictionary of Indian Biography. London,1906

B. J. Hasrat