THOMAS, GEORGE (1756-1802), Irish soldier of fortune, deserted the British navy in India in 1781 in which he had served as a gunner. He first joined a band of mountain robbers in south India and then took up service in the army of the Nizām of Hyderābād as a gunner, but soon afterwards came to Delhi where he secured employment under Begam Samrū, who had married a European adventurer and succeeded to his jāgīr at Sardhanā, in Uttar Pradesh. Serving under her for six years, Thomas left her to join the Marāṭhā army under Appā Khaṇḍe Rāo. He raised troops for the Marāṭhās and instructed them in the European system of drill. He was rewarded with the grant of a jāgīr comprising the district of Jhajjar. Here he built a fort which he named Georgegaṛh. After some time, he broke away from the Marāṭhās and sought in 1797 the help of the Sikh chiefs against them. In 1798, he established himself at Hansi and carved out an independent Kingdom in the wastelands of Haryāṇā. From Hāṅsī, he ruled over Hissār, Hāṅsī, Sirsā and Rohtak. In 1799, he attacked Jīnd and defeated the combined forces of the chiefs of Paṭiālā, Kaithal, Jīnd, Lāḍvā and Thānesar and imposed upon them his own terms for friendship. But soon after he broke the truce and took possession of Fatehābād and pillaged the Sikh territories of Bhavānīgaṛh, Sunām, and Nāraṅgvāl. He invaded Kaithal and Safīdoṅ, but was halted at the latter place and defeated.
In 1801, a force, 12,000 strong, under Louis Bourquien, a French officer in the service of the Marāṭhās, joined by the Sikh contingents of Jīnd and Kaithal, drove George Thomas to Hāṅsī which was laid under siege. Bourquien asked Thomas to surrender, offering him a position in Daulat Rāo Scindia's army. Thomas refused, vacated Hāṅsī and marched off to Georgegaṛh. The whole of Bourquien's army, now reinforced to 20,000 men, came in pursuit of him. Outnumbered by the Marāṭhā forces, Thomas surrendered to Louis Bourquien on 1 January 1802, but was allowed to retire to British territory. En route to Calcutta, he died of a fever on board his pinnace at Berhāmpore, West Bengal, on 22 August 1802.
B. J. Hasrat