ELLENBOROUGH, LORD EDWARD LAW (1790-1871), Governor-General of India (1842-44), son of Edward Law, Baron Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of England, was born on 8 September 1790. He was educated at Eton and at St John's College, Cambridge. He became a member of the House of Lords in 1818. He was appointed Lord Privy Seal in 1828 and president of the Board of Control (1828-30) whence began his connection with Indian affairs. He succeeded Lord Auckland as Governor-General of India in February 1842. On his arrival in India, Lord Ellenborough found himself confronted with an alarming situation in Afghanistan and northwest frontier. The garrisons of Jalālābād and Ghaznī were surrounded by hostile Afghāns; the Qandahār division was unfit to move for lack of support; and of the five brigades moved across the River Rāvī, none had yet reached Peshāwar. Large Sikh forces were collected at Peshāwar where General Pollock with three British brigades felt uneasy at the large assemblage. In that hour of difficulty, voices were being raised for full military support from the Sikhs. Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh was being blamed for not having helped his British allies whole-heartedly.

         When in April 1842, Robert Sale had defeated the Afghān army under the walls of Jalālābād and Pollock had forced the Khaibar, Lord Ellenborough hastily decided to terminate the Tripartite Treaty. An offer was made to the Sikh government to occupy Jalālābād after the withdrawal of the British army. The offer was in reality aimed at diverting the Sikh troops then employed in the Chinese Tartary, and those garrisoned at Lahore and Amritsar. Ellenborough, who was assembling a large British force on the Anglo-Sikh frontier at the River Sutlej, wished to see the Sikh position weakened by the withdrawal of the Sikh troops. As is evident from his private correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, he was preparing for a war with the Sikhs. The correspondence shows that, as early as October 1843, he had begun to discuss with the Home Government possibilities of a military occupation of the Punjab. He had laid out a network of spies and agents provocateur in the Sikh capital and had raised the strength of British military outposts to 11, 639 men and 48 guns. A flotilla of seventy 35-ton boats to bridge the Sutlej at Fīrozpur had been under construction. Ellenborough wrote in April 1844 : "Let our policy [towards the Sikhs] be what it may, the contest must come at last, and the intervening time that may be given to us should be employed in unostentatious but vigilant preparation."

         Two years after his return to England, Ellenborough became First Lord of Admiralty in Sir Robert Peel's ministry in 1846. In 1858, under Lord Derby he became president of the Board of Control. He died on 22 December 1871.


  1. Hasrat, B.J., The Punjab Papers. Hoshiarpur, 1970
  2. Law, Algernon, India under Lord Ellenborough 1842-44. London, 1926
  3. Buckland, C.E., Dictionary of lndian Biography. London, 1906

B. J. Hasrat