Conrad Corfield

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Sir Conrad Laurence Corfield, KCIE, CSI, MC, (15 August 1893 - 3 October 1980), was a British civil servant and the private secretary to several viceroys of India, including Lord Mountbatten. He also was the author of the book The Princely India I knew, from Reading to Mountbatten.[1]

Early life[edit]

Corfield was born on 15 August 1893, the son of the Rev. Egerton Corfield, MA, a missionary and rector at Finchampstead, Berkshire, England.[2] He was educated at St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate, where he would later serve as a governor.[2] He enlisted in the 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment during WWI and served on the Western Front.[2] He reached the rank of captain and was awarded the Military Cross for his service.[2][3]

Civil service career[edit]

In 1920 Corfield joined the first batch of recruits into the Indian civil service.[2] After his initial training in the Punjab, Corfield moved to New Delhi, in May 1921, to serve as the assistant private secretary to the viceroy at the time, Lord Reading.[2] After holding this position for 18 months, he returned to the Punjab for district work.[2] In 1925 Corfield was selected to join the Foreign and Political Department of the government of India.[2] His first appointment was that of Secretary to the Agent for the Governor General in the Western India States.[2] He was later transferred to the North West Frontier Province as Assistant to the Political Agent in Kalat.[2] At the end of 1928 he was transferred in the same capacity to the Rajputana States.[2] Three years later he was placed in charge of the Political Agency in the Southern States of Central India and Malawa.[2] He was quickly transferred to Hyderabad as Secretary to the Resident in the Nizam's Dominions.[2] In the Spring of 1932 he was sent to Rewa to handle administrative issues in the State and was made Vice-President of the State Council.[2] At the close of 1932 he returned to the England to serve as Adviser to the Delegation for that State at the third session of the Indian Roundtable Conference.[2] In 1934 Corfield was appointed Joint Secretary of the Foreign and Political Department first under Lord Willingdon and then later Lord Linlithgow.[2] In 1938 he became Resident in Jaipur, and then in 1940 transferred to the Punjab States in the same capacity.[2] In 1945 Corfield was called up to become Political Adviser to the Crown Representative, Lord Wavell.[2] In this role, Corfield was the official link between the Viceroy and the Ruling Princes of India.[2] When Lord Wavell was called back to England in the Spring of 1947, and Lord Mountbatten was installed as Viceroy, Corfield continued as the new Viceroy's Political Adviser to the Crown Representatives.[2] Corfield remained in India until the British transfer of power to Jawaharlal Nehru's government was completed that August.[2]

Views on India[edit]

Corfield was concerned about the rights of the princes in the independent India. He asserted that the princely states should be allowed to remain independent if they chose to do so. He also sought and received the permission of the British government to destroy the records that had been collected concerning the princes' personal lives.[4] He felt these records could be used by the new government of India as blackmail against the princes.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Corfield firstly married Phyllis Bertha Pugh, the daughter of L. P. E. Pugh, KC on 22 December 1922.[2] The couple had one daughter and a son.[2] After his first wife died in 1932, Corfield remained a widower for several decades until marrying Sylvia Phyllis Mary Hadow, the widow of Lt. Col. Charles O'Brian Daunt, on 16 September 1961.

Corfield died on 3 October 1980 at the Warren Lodge Rest Home, in Finchampstead.


Corfield received the following decorations[2] from the British government:

  • WWI MC, Military Cross
  • 1937 CIE, Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire
  • 1942 CSI, Companion of the Order of the Star of India
  • 1945 KCIE, Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire


  1. ^ The princely India I knew, from Reading to Mountbatten. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Obituary, Sir Conrad Corfield, Ending of Princely Rule in India". The Times, London, UK. 6 October 1980. p. 16. 
  3. ^ Brown, Cliff (2000). "Roll of Honour". Retrieved 20 February 2014. "Cambridgeshire Regiment Awards 1914-1918" 
  4. ^ Moore, Lucy (2006). Maharanis: The Extraordinary Tale of Four Indian Queens and Their Journey from Purdah to Parliament. Penguin Press, USA. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Collins, Larry; Lapierre, Dominique. Freedom at Midnight. 

External links[edit]