India Office

Lawrence John Lumley Dundas


Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, second Marquess of Zetland, was an administrator in India, politician, and author. Zetland was educated at Harrow School and at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1900, he became aide-de camp to Lord Curzon, who was viceroy of India at the time. While in India, Zetland travelled widely through Asia. His experiences would later become the inspiration for a number of fictional and non-fictional works. From 1917 to 1922 he was appointed Governor of Bengal. He held the post at one of the most critical times, having to deal with the fall-out from the partition (1905) and re-unification (1911) of Bengal and rising political activism and unrest in the province. While his appointment initially provoked protests from Bengali nationalists because of his close association with Curzon, by the end of his governorship, he was widely respected even among initially critical nationalist politicians.

Zetland returned to Britain in 1922 and changed careers to become a writer. He was an active member of the Royal Central Asian, the India, and the Royal Asiatic societies. He was elected President of the Royal Geographical Society in 1922. He published a travel book, Lands of the Thunderbolt: Sikhim, Chumbi and Bhutan (1923), followed by The Heart of Aryavarta (1925), for which he was elected to the British Academy in 1929. In the book Zetland explores Indian religion and philosophy, which he saw as closely connected to an understanding of Indian nationalism. Zetland admired many of Gandhi's ideas, but differed with him on the point of his rejection of Western civilization and British rule. In 1928 Zetland published the three-volume official biography of Lord Curzon to critical acclaim. 

During the 1930s, Zetland played an important role in the ongoing constitutional reform process of the Government of India. He was present at the Round Table conferences in the early 1930s and also served on the joint select committees of the House of Lords and House of Commons. Prime Minister Baldwin invited him to join his government in 1935 as Secretary of State for India, to help guide the 1935 Government of India Act through parliament. With his political skills he was able to by-pass conservative opposition and implement further steps towards future dominion status for India and a devolution of power, by granting complete provincial responsibility which he saw part of a new conceptualization of ‘cooperative imperialism’.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Zetland had to deal with the fall-out from the constitutional crisis triggered by Linlithgow’s unilateral declaration of war, without consulting Indian representatives. This led to Congress’s non-cooperation in the war effort. In March 1940, Zetland survived Udham Singh’s assassination of Michael O’Dwyer at Caxton Hall. Zetland was present at the lecture, when Singh shot at the podium from close range. Zetland was only grazed by a bullet, receiving bruises to his ribs. After Neville Chamberlain’s resignation as Prime Minister, Zetland also resigned from office, conscious that his approach to Indian affairs differed markedly with Winston Churchill, who succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister.

After leaving office, Zetland pursued his other interests. He was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter. He served as Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding, devoted more time to his long-standing role as provincial grand master of the freemasons of the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire and was Governor of the Bank of Scotland.

Published works: 

Sports and Politics under an Eastern Sky (Blackwood, 1902)

A Wandering Student in the Far East (Blackwood, 1908)

India: An Eastern Miscellany (Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood, 1911)

Tour of his Excellency The Right Honourable Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, Earl of Ronaldshay, Governor of Bengal (Dacca, 1917-1919)

Speeches Delivered by His Excellency the Right Honourable Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, Earl of Ronaldshay Governor of Bengal during 1919-20 (Calcutta: Private Secretary Press, 1920)

Lands of the Thunderbolt: Sikhim, Chimbi and Buthan (Constable & Co., 1923)

India: A Bird's Eye View (London: Constable and Co., 1924)

The Heart of Aryavarta: A study of the psychology of Indian Unrest (London: Constable & Co., 1925)

The Life of Lord Curzon: Being the Authorized Biography of George Nathaniel Marquess Curzon of Kedlestone KG, 3 Vols. (London: Ernest Benn, 1928)

Great Britain and India (Birmingham and Midland Institute: Presdiential Addresses, 1930)

Lord Cromer: Being the Authorized Life of Evelyn Baring First Earl of Cromer (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1932)

Steps towards Indian Home Rule (London: Hutchinson, 1935)

India: Retrospect and Prospect (Nottingham, 1935)

'Essayez': The Memoires of Lawrence, Second Marquess of Zetland (London: John Murray, 1956)

Date of birth: 
11 Jun 1876

Stanley Baldwin, Albion Rajkumar Banerji, Surendranath Banerjea, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Maharaja of Cooch Behar, Stafford Cripps, George Curzon, Bhalabhai Desai, Samuel Hoare, M. K. Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Chaudry Khaliquzzaman, Lord Linlithgow, Jawaharlal Nehru, Firoz Khan Noon, Mr Siddiqi, Lord Templewood.

British Academy, India Office, Royal Asiatic Society, Royal Central Asian Society, Royal Geographical Society (President).

Secondary works: 

Laithwaite, Gilbert, The Marquess of Zetland, 1876-1961 (London: Oxford University Press)

Rizvi, Gowher, Linlithgow and India: A Study of British Policy and the Political Impasse in India, 1936-1943 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1978)

‘Lord Zetland’, Obituary, The Guardian (7 February 1961), p. 13

Obituary of Marquess of Zetland, The Times (7 February 1961), p. 13
Archive source: 

Mss Eur D 609, Indian correspondence and papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

Partition of Bengal, 1905

Round Table Conferences, 1930-2

Government of India Bill, 1935

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Second Marquess of Zetland and Earl of Zetland, Earl of Ronaldshay in the county of Orkney

Date of death: 
06 Feb 1961
Location of death: 
Aske, Yorkshire

Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah


Ikbal Ali Shah was the Son of the Nawab of Sardhana, and great grandson of the Afghan statesman Jan Fishan Khan. He came to Britain before the First World War and studied at Oxford and Edinburgh University, where he met his wife, the Scottish author Morag Murray. They had three children, the Sufi writers and translators Amina Shah (1918), Omar Ali-Shah (1922-2005) and Idries Shah (1924-96), with whom Doris Lessing later studied Sufism. He wrote collections of tales and adventure, like The Golden Caravan, as well as non-fiction like The Spirit of the East. He later taught Sufi "classes" in England, which were the precursors to the Sufi school established by his son, Idries Shah. Ikbal Ali Shah also wrote biographies, including on President Kemal Attaturk whom he claims to have known personally.

Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah was a prolific writer of articles, and books relating to South Asia, Sufism and the Muslim World. He published in The Bookman and other journals, but struggled to live by his writing. In 1939 he contacted the India Office for work as a writer in the Information Department, for whom he wrote articles useful for Muslim papers in India and he provided the Ministry with a regular service of news along these lines. In a letter dated 19 January 1939, A. H. Joyce (Secretary Political, External Department) stated that the India Office had known Ikbal Ali Shah ‘as a contributor of articles, principally to the provincial newspapers in this country, on matters affecting the Muslim world and particularly those affecting India and Afghanistan. He is also the author of quite a number of books of a popular type covering a similar field’ (L/I/1/1509). He was also a prolific speaker and addressed the Oxford Majlis in 1941 on the topic ‘Incompatibility of Islamic and Fascist Philosophies’, and lascars in the East End on ‘English, Their Country and Their Ways’. He also wrote a paper ‘Little Arabia in Britain', on Cardiff’s Muslim community.

Ikbal Ali Shah was linked to the controversy surrounding the 1967 publication of a new translation of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, by his son Omar Ali-Shah and the English poet Robert Graves. The translation was based on an annotated "crib", supposedly derived from an old manuscript said to have been in the Shah family's possession for 800 years. L. P. Elwell-Sutton, an Orientalist at Edinburgh University, and others who reviewed the book, expressed their conviction that the story of the ancient family manuscript was false. Graves had been led to believe that Ikbal Ali Shah had access to the disputed manuscript. Shah was about to produce it at the time of his death from a car accident, to allay the growing controversy surrounding the translation. He and his wife are buried in the Muslim section of the cemetery at Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.

Published works: 

Afghanistan of the Afghans (1928)

Westward to Mecca (1928)

Eastward to Persia (1930)

The Golden East (1931)

Mohamed: The Prophet (1932)

Alone in Arabian Nights (1933)

Islamic Sufism (1933)

The Golden Pilgrimage (1933)

The Prince Aga Khan (1933)

Afridi Gold (1934)

Kemal: Maker of Modern Turkey (1934)

The Controlling Minds of Asia (1937)

(ed.) Coronation Book of Oriental Literature (1937)

(ed.) The Golden Treasury of Indian Literature (1938)

Nepal: Home of the Gods (1938)

Spirit of the East (1939)

Occultism: Its Theory and Practice (1952)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1894

Robert Graves, Morag Murray.

Contributions to periodicals: 
Precise DOB unknown: 
Archive source: 

L/I/1/1509 Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, EH8 9AD
United Kingdom
55° 57' 7.956" N, 3° 10' 19.4196" W
Oxford University Oxford, OX2 6QD
United Kingdom
51° 47' 13.6464" N, 1° 17' 24.6012" W
Date of death: 
04 Nov 1969
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1914
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Edinburgh, London, Oxford.

1924 British Empire Exhibition

23 Apr 1924
Event location: 



The British Empire Exhibition was opened on St George’s Day, 23 April 1924, by King Edward V and Queen Mary at the Empire Stadium. The idea for an exhibition of industry across the Empire was under consideration from early on in the twentieth century; however the idea was abandoned when the Russo-Japanese war broke out in 1904. In 1913, the idea was resurrected by Lord Strathcona, however the outbreak of the First World War meant that the exhibition was delayed for a second time. In 1919 the proposition was reconsidered again at a lunch at the Empire Club which was attended by Prime Ministers and High Commissioners from across the Empire who agreed on a proposed date of 1921. After successfully passing through both Houses of Parliament, the Government became joint guarantor, ending up funding around 50% of the £2,200,000 raised to stage the exhibition. 1923 was proposed as the new opening date, yet this was later postponed to 1924.

The organizers pursued four main objectives with the exhibition. They wanted: to alert the public to the fact that in the exploitation of raw materials of the Empire, new sources of wealth could be produced; to foster inter-imperial trade; to open new world markets for Dominion and British products; and to foster interaction between the different cultures and people of the Empire by juxtaposing Britain’s industrial prowess with the diverse products of the Dominions and colonies. The location for the exhibition was Wembley Park as it was regarded as one of the most easily accessible areas of London, both from the suburbs and from the rest of the country, with two mainline stations and a new station inside the exhibition grounds. A vast infrastructure project was also proposed, leading to the widening of approach roads from central London to the exhibition. The exhibition covered an area of more than 216 acres and in the two years it was open attracted over twenty million visitors.

The exhibition was open for six months in 1924 and reopened in 1925 and showcased produce and manufactured goods, arts and crafts as well as historical artefacts from each of the Dominions, the Indian Empire as well as Britain’s African and Caribbean Colonies. The exhibition was also accompanied by a cultural programme and a series of conferences. Britain focused on its textiles, chemicals and engineering and was keen to emphasis its central role in ensuring progress for the whole of the Empire. The Ceylon Pavilion modelled on The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and displayed valuable collections of jewellery and gem stones. Built by architects Charles Allem and Sons, The India Pavilion was modelled on the Jama Masjid in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra. The white building was divided into 27 courts, each dedicated to the exhibition of products from one of the twenty seven Indian provinces. It was one of the few pavilions where food was served. It also hosted an exhibition on Indian art curated by the India Society with the involvement of William Rothenstein, who made available over twenty-three paintings – only the India Office lent more. The Fine Art Committee for the India section at the Exhibition included Austin Kendall, Stanley Clarke, Sir Hercule Read (President of the India Society), William Rothenstein, William Foster, and Laurence Binyon. The India Society also held a conference at the Exhibition on June 2, 1924.

When the exhibition closed in October 1925, it had made a loss of £ 1.5 Million.

King George V (Patron), Edward, Prince of Wales (President) Board: James Stevenson, Henry MacMahon, James Allen, Charles McLeod, Traverse Clarke.
People involved: 
Published works: 

A Pictorial and Descriptive Guide to London and the British Empire Exhibition 1924, 45th edn (London: Ward, Lock & Co., 1924)

British Empire Exhibition, 1924: Wembley, London, April-October: handbook of general information (London: British Empire Exhibition, 1924)

Catalogue of the Palace of Arts (London, Fleetway Press, 1924)

Illustrated Souvenir of the Palace of Arts (London: Fleetway Press, 1924)

India: Souvenir of the Indian Pavilion and its Exhibits: Souvenir of Wembley 1924 (Wembley: British Empire Exhibition, 1924)

The British Empire Exhibition (London: Fleetwood Press, 1925)

Travancore at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924 (London: Haycock, Cadle & Graham, 1924)

Examples of Indian Art at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924 (London: The India Society, 1925)

Conference on Indian Art Held at the British Empire Exhibition on Monday, June 2, 1924, under the Auspices of The India Society, Sir Francis Younghusband in the Chair (London: The India Society, n.d.)

Secondary works: 

Grant Cook, Marjorie and Fox, Frank, The British Empire Exhibition, 1924. Official Guide (London: Fleetway Press, 1924) 

Greenhalgh, Paul, Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World’s Fairs, 1851-1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988)

Hughes, Deborah, 'Kenya, India and the British Empire Exhibition of 1924', Race and Class, 47.4 (April – June 2006)

Knight, Donald R. and Sabey, Alan D., The Lion Roars at Wembley: British Empire Exhibition 60th Anniversary, 1924-1925 (New Barnett: D. R. Knight, 1984)

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism: India's artists and the avant-garde 1922-1947 (London: Reaktion, 2007)

Moore, Harras, The Marlborough Pocket Guide to the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, 1924 (London: Marlborough Printing Company, 1924)

The British Empire Exhibition Wembley 1924 – Fiftieth Anniversary (London, Wembley: Wembley History Society, 1974)

Archive source: 

Mss Eur F 147, India Society papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Thomas W. Arnold


Thomas Arnold was an Orientalist scholar and administrator. From 1888 to 1898, Arnold taught philosophy at the Muhammad Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh. His contemporaries were Theodore Morison (chair of the report into scholarships for Indians to study technical subjects in the UK in 1913) and Theodore Beck, the Principal of MAO college.

In 1898, Arnold joined the Indian Educational Service and taught philosophy at Government College, Lahore, where he had a profound influence upon the poet-philosopher Mohammad Iqbal. Arnold returned to London in 1904. He worked as assistant librarian at the India Office, and taught Arabic at University College, London.

In 1892, Arnold married the niece of Theodore Beck. Theodore Beck's sister, Emma Josephine Beck, was Honorary Secretary of the National Indian Association from 1905 to 1932. In 1910, when the NIA's offices were housed in 21 Cromwell Road, so were the offices of the Bureau of Information for Indian Students for whom Arnold acted as educational advisor to Indian students (1909-12). Arnold was also involved in the formation of the India Society in 1910. In 1920, he retired from the India Office and was appointed as the first holder of the School of Oriental Studies' (founded in 1917) chair of Arabic and Islamic studies. 

Published works: 

Bihzad and his Paintings in the Zafar-namah ms (London: B. Quaritch, 1930)

The Caliphate (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)

The Court Painters of the Grand Moghuls (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921)

(with Alfred Guillaume) The Legacy of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1931)

Painting in Islam (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928)

The Preaching of Islam (London: A. Constable & Co., 1896)

Date of birth: 
19 Apr 1864

Emma Josephine Beck, Theodore Beck, Laurence Binyon, Mohammad Iqbal, Theodore Morison.

Secondary works: 

Gibb, H. A. R., ‘Arnold, Sir Thomas Walker (1864–1930)’, rev. Christine Woodhead, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, School of Oriental and African Studies Archive, London

Correspondence, British Library of Political and Economic Science, LSE, London

Correspondence, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Devonport, Devon
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sir T. W. Arnold

Thomas Walker Arnold

Date of death: 
09 Jun 1930
Location of death: 
London, England

19 Gloucester Walk, Kensington, London

Tags for Making Britain: 

Lytton Report into Indian Students

14 Sep 1922

In 1921, the Secretary of State for India appointed a committee to look into the adequacy of arrangements and relations with Indian students in Britain. The committee was chaired by Lord Lytton, the son of the former Viceroy of India. Despite intentions to visit India as well (the trip was cancelled because the Indian Legislative Assembly voted against releasing funds for their travel), the committee visited and interviewed a number of representatives from British universities, including Indian students themselves.

The Report estimated that there were 1450 Indian students in the UK in October 1921, with approximately 550 arriving each year. The three main reasons for Indians to study in Britain were (1) for a better chance of employment in India, particularly in the government services; (2) because educational facilities were more extensive in Britain; and (3) for lawyers to be called to the Bar.

The Report concluded that the development of education in India was crucial, and suggested creating an Indian Bar. They also agreed that more information needed to be provided in India to potential students before they travelled to Britain, as many students arrived in Britain without a place at any university. The committee explained that difficulties between British and Indian students were not a result of 'racism' but political barriers and wanted to encourage Indian students to get more involved in university life, particularly through sports. The committee also advised that an official organization needed to be created for students of technical and industrial subjects to insure adequate practical training and experience was provided for them when they were in Britain.

People involved: 

Committee:- Lord Lytton (chair, son of former Viceroy of India), S. Aftab, L. M. Brooks, S. K. Datta, A. P. M. Fleming, M. Hammick, C. E. W. Jones, M. Ramachandra Rao, Deva Prasad Sarvadhikary.

People interviewed include:- Indian students at Birmingham University, representatives of Cambridge Majlis (including Subhas Chandra Bose), representatives of the Crocodile Club (an athletic club for Indians/Asians at Cambridge), Indian students at Edinburgh University, Indian students at Glasgow University, representatives of the Indian Students' Union and Hostel, Indian students at Leeds University, Indian students at Liverpool University, Hardit Singh Malik (Balliol, Oxford), Manchester Indian Association, representatives of Oxford Majlis (including M. C. Chagla), Indian students at Sheffield University, and other Indian students in London.

Published works: 

Report of the Committee on Indian Students 1921-22 (London: India Office, 1922)

Secondary works: 

Lahiri, Shompa, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930 (London: Frank Cass, 2000)

Mukherjee, Sumita, Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (London: Routledge, 2010)

Symonds, Richard, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? (London: Macmillan, 1986)

Archive source: 

Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

21 Cromwell Road


Following recommendations from the Lee-Warner Committee that met in 1907 to inquire into the position of Indian students in the UK, the Secretary of State decided to find a building that would house various organizations concerned with Indian students to provide a focal point for visitors to London.

A detached corner house was found at 21 Cromwell Road, opposite the Natural History Museum and near to the Imperial Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was rented by the India Office. The National Indian Association, the Northbrook Society and a newly-created Bureau of Information for Indian Students were all housed in this building in August 1910. However, the costs of renting rooms in the building soon became high. This was regarded as one of the reasons for the financial decline of the National Indian Association by the end of the decade.

The building was used for 'at homes', lectures, meetings and soirees by the National Indian Association. It provided newspapers and recreational activities such as billiards for British and Indian visitors to the Northbrook Society. A number of rooms were provided by the Northbrook Society for short-term lodging by Indian students - primarily for Indians when they first arrived in the country, before they were able to make other arrangements. The Educational Advisor met Indian students and provided them with advice about courses, degrees and lodgings in the UK.

Date began: 
01 Aug 1910
Key Individuals' Details: 

Thomas Arnold (Educational Advisor), E. J. Beck (Honorary Secretary of NIA).

Archive source: 

Indian Magazine and Review 476 (August 1910); 477 (September 1910)

The Times, 2 June and 27 September 1910, 21 January 1911

NIA minutes, Mss Eur F147/10-11, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras 

See references to 21 Cromwell Road in 'Passage to Oxford', K. P. S. Menon papers, Nehru Memorial Library, New Delhi


South Kensington
London, SW5 0SD
United Kingdom

William Hutt Curzon Wyllie


After an education at Marlborough College (1863-4) and Sandhurst (1865-6), Wyllie entered the Durham Light Infantry and arrived in India in 1867. After serving briefly with the 2nd Gurkha regiment, Wyllie undertook civil and political employment including positions such as Cantonment Magistrate of Nasirabad, Assistant Commissioner in Ajmer-Merwara, and Assistant to the Governor-General's Agent in Baluchistan. Wyllie took part in the Afghan campaign of 1878-80 and was mentioned in the viceroy’s dispatches (Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, Earl of Lytton). In 1886 he became a Major of the British Army, and in 1892 a Lieutenant-Colonel. During the 1880s and 1890s Wyllie held a number of assistant resident positions throughout India, and in 1898 gained the appointment of agent to the governor-general in central India. In May 1900 he was transferred in the same capacity to Rajputana where he remained until 1901; notable during this last position was his organization of relief efforts to overcome the famine of 1899-1900. 

Upon his return to London he was selected to work as political Aide-de-Camp for Lord George Hamilton, Secretary of State for India; Wyllie retained the position with Hamilton’s two successors. Wyllie was heavily involved in arrangements for the reception of Indian princes in Britain, especially with regards the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. Wyllie also worked with charities and associations related to India. At a reception given by one such association – the National Indian Association – in 1909, Wyllie was shot by Madan Lal Dhingra, an Indian student. A Parsee physician, Dr Cawas Lalcaca, who sought to protect Wyllie, was also killed. Dhingra and his family were known to Wyllie from his time in India, and Dhingra’s family had maintained a correspondence with Wyllie. Dhingra had himself ignored letters from Wyllie suggesting a meeting at India House. Some argue that Dhingra’s preferred target was either the former Secretary of State Lord Morley or the former Viceroy Lord Curzon, given their greater prestige and connection with the construction of repressive policies against revolutionaries in India; Dhingra was known to have been following both men. Wyllie’s presence at events with Indian students, however, made him an easier target. 

The assassination was met with outrage at home and abroad, with public offices closed in Rajputana upon reception of the news. Wyllie’s widow, Lady Katherine Georgina Wyllie (daughter of a member of the Indian Civil Service), was granted a pension by Viscount Morley, then secretary of state. Memorial tablets to Wyllie were established in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, in Rajputana and central India.

Date of birth: 
05 Oct 1848

William St John Fremantle Brodrick, known as St John Brodrick, Secretary of State for India 1903-1905 (colleague), Madan Lal Dhingra (assassin), Lord George Hamilton, Secretary of State for India 1895-1903 (colleague), Shyamji Krishnavarma (Madan Lal Dhingra’s mentor), Viscount John Morley, Secretary of State for India 1905-10, 1911-15 (colleague), Francis Robert Shaw Wyllie (brother; undersecretary to Bombay Government).

British Army

Secondary works: 

‘Sir William Wyllie Murdered by Hindu’, The New York Times (2 July 1909)

Brown, F.H., ‘Wyllie, Sir (William Hutt) Curzon, 1848-1909’, rev. Roger T. Stern, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Datta, V.N., Madan Lal Dhingra and the Revolutionary Movement (New Dehli: Vikas Publishing House PVT Ltd., 1978)

Lahiri, Shompa, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930 (London & Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass, 2000).

Morley, Viscount John, Recollections, 2 vols. (London: MacMillan, 1918).

Nanda, B.R., Gokhale: The Indian Moderates and the British Raj, (London & Dehli: Oxford University Press, 1977).

Wolpert, Stanley A., Morley and India, 1906-1910 (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967).

Archive source: 

Letters and government reports, L/PJ/6/901, L/PJ/6/903, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Morley Collection, Mss Eur D573, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Trial Deposition of Madan Lal Dhingra, National Archives of India, New Dehli.

Involved in events: 

Famine relief, Rajputana, 1899-1900

Coronation of Edward VII, 1902

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie

Appears in indexes under Curzon-Wyllie and Wyllie

Date of death: 
01 Jul 1909
Location of death: 
Imperial Institute, South Kensington, London

Strangers' Home for Asiatics, Africans and South Sea Islanders


The Strangers Home was built on the initiative of a number of missionary societies working in the East End of London, foremost among them Henry Venn, Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, who launched an appeal for funds. The first donation of £500.00 was made by Maharaja Duleep Singh. The foundation stone was laid by Prince Albert on 31 May 1856. The home would open one year later. Throughout its existence, it served a double purpose as a centre for government-subsidized shelter for lascars and a centre for religious instruction.

The Home provided temporary accommodation and food for foreign sailors. Furthermore, it served as a repatriation centre where sailors were recruited for ships returning East. It was also used as a missionary centre with Joseph Salter of the London City Mission as its resident missionary. Among the facilities provided by the home, were a library of Christian books in Asian and African languages, a depository for valuables, and remittance of their earnings to India. The dormitories could accommodate 220 people; the home provided store rooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms and sanitation as well as a dining hall. Attached to it was the Lascar Shipping Office, which registered unemployed sailors. From 1857 to 1877 according to the Home’s own figures, it cared for 5,709 people, of which 1,605 were destitute and gratuitously provided for. The Strangers’ Home was subsidised with £200.00 annually by the India Office for the temporary maintenance of lascars before their return to India.

In 1923 the Strangers Home was recommended by the India Office to ship owners as the only place for suitable accommodation in London. In the 1920s the union activist Nathalal Jagivan Upadhyaya attempted to recruit lascars at the Strangers’ Home for the Indian Seamen Union. He was banned from the Strangers Home in December 1926.

The Home closed down in 1937 due to a lack of funds and a dwindling number of occupants. Having run at a yearly loss of £2,000.00, the Indian High Commission made arrangements for destitute Indian sailors to be taken in by other organizations. The proposed closure caused concern among Poplar’s South Asian community. Syed Fazal Shah, secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin, expressed his concern about the disappearance of ‘a place of refuge for the people of Asia in London’ (L/E/9/967). 

Other names: 

Asiatic and Overseas Home

Secondary works: 

Miller, Robert, From Shore to Shore: A History of the Church and the Merchant Seafarer (R. Miller, 1989)

Salter, Joseph, The Asiatic in England (London: Seeley, Jackson & Halliday, 1873)

Visram, Rozina, Ayahs, Lascars and Princes (London: Pluto,1986)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Wainwright, A. Martin, ‘The better class’ of Indians: Social Rank, Imperial Identity, And South Asians in Britain 1858-1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008)

Date began: 
01 Jun 1857

J. Freeman, Colonel Hughes (Hon. Secretary for the Strangers Home), N. A. Lash, Maharaja Duleep Singh, Joseph Salter, E. C. Stephens, Nathalal Jagivan Upadhyaya.

Date ended: 
01 Jan 1937
Archive source: 

L/PJ/2/59, L/E/7/567, L/E/7/1152, L/PJ/12/233, L/E/9/967, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Precise date ended unknown: 


West India Dock Road Limehouse
London, E14 8HB
United Kingdom
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