Punjab Province (British India)
Coat of arms
Murree 1873-1875 (Summer)
Shimla 1876-1947 (Summer)
|Historical era||New Imperialism|
|-||Established||2 April 1849|
|-||Partition of India||14 August|
|Today part of|| India
Punjab was a province of British India. It was annexed by the East India Company in 1849, and was one of the last areas of the Indian subcontinent to fall under British control. It comprised five administrative divisions — Delhi, Jullunder, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi — and a number of princely states.
The Punjab is named for the five rivers by which it is watered, from the Persian words "Punj" (five) and "Ab" (water). The rivers are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, all tributaries of the Indus.
Geographically the Punjab province of India was a triangular tract of country of which the Indus and the Sutlej to their confluence formed the two sides, the base being the lower Himalaya hills between those two rivers; but the British province also included a large tract outside those boundaries. Along the northern border Himalayan ranges divided it from Kashmir and Tibet. On the west it was separated from the North-West Frontier Province by the Indus, until that river reaches the border of Dera Ghazi Khan District, which was divided from Baluchistan by the Sulaiman Range. To the south lay Sindh and Rajputana, while on the east the rivers Jumna and Tons separated it from the United Provinces.
In present-day India, it included the regions of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh (but excluding the former princely states which were later combined into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union)
On 21 February 1849 the Sikhs were defeated at the Battle of Gujrat by the British. Britain's victory allowed the East India Company to take over the Punjab. Punjab was annexed on 2 April 1849 and became part of the British Raj, at this time administered by the Company. Henceforth the Punjab would provide Sikh and Punjabi sepoy regiments to the presidency armies in India, whose soldiers would later help the British in putting down the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.
By the late 19th century, however, the Indian nationalist movement took hold in the province. One of the most significant events associated with the movement was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919, which resulted from an order given by British colonel Reginald Dyer to fire on a group of some 10,000 unarmed Indians who had convened to protest new anti-subversion regulations.
In 1901 the frontier districts beyond the Indus were separated from Punjab and made into a new province - the North-West Frontier Province.
Delhi was transferred from the North-Western Provinces (later the United Provinces) to Punjab in 1859. The British colonial government took this action partly to punish the city for the important role that the last Mughal Emperor and the city as a whole played in the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion. Punjab with its dependencies was formed into a Lieutenant-Governorship, Sir John Lawrence, then Chief Commissioner being appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor on January 1, 1859. In this office, he was succeeded by Sir Robert Montgomery (1859), Sir Donald McLeod(1865), Sir Henry Durand (1870), Sir Henry Davies (1871), Sir Robert Egerton (1877), Sir Charles Aitchison (1882), Sir James Lyall (1887), Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick (1892), Sir Macworth Young (1897), Sir Charles Rivaz (1902), Sir Denzil Ibbetson (1907) and Sir Louis Dane (1908).
In 1866, the Judicial Commissioner was replaced by a Chief Court. The direct administrative functions of the Government were carried out through the Lieutinent-Governor through the Secretariat, comprising a Chief Secretary, a Secretary and two Under-Secretaries. They were usually members of the Indian Civil Service.
The territory under the Lieutenant consisted of 29 Districts, grouped under 5 Divisions, and 43 Princely States. Each District was under a Deputy-Commissioner, who reported to the Commissioner of the Division. Each District was subdivided into 3 to 7 tahsils, each under a tahsildar, assisted by a naib (deputy) tahsildar.
|Division||Districts in British Territory / Princely States|
|Total area, British Territory||97,209 square miles|
|Total area, Native States||36,532 square miles|
|Total area, Punjab||133,741 square miles|
Lyallpur and Sheikhupura districts.
Coat of arms
- Encyclopædia Britannica article on Punjab
- Gupta, Narayani. 1981. Delhi Between Two Empires, 1803-1931. Oxford University Press, p.26