He was the son of John Hinde Pelly of Hyde House, Gloucestershire and was educated at Rugby School. Sir John Henry Pelly, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company and Governor of the Bank of England, was his uncle.
He entered the East India Company service in 1840 and served in Sind prior to its annexation. Appointed to the regimental staff in 1842, he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1843.
In 1852, he acted as Assistant Reader at the Court of Guicowar and then he transferred to the Civil Service of Sind until 1856, being promoted to Captain in 1855. As aide-de-camp to General John Jacob in 1857, he commanded a troop of cavalry in that year's Persian expedition. He was secretary to Sir James Outram during the occupation of Bushire and Kharack and was in the Frontier Force of the Sind Irregular Horse in 1858, before being a Judge in Kurrachee in 1859.
He was Secretary of Legation at the Court of Persia from 1859 to 1860, before being appointed chargé d'affaires there. During his time in this post, he was sent on a special mission through Eastern Persia, Oman, Herat, Afghanistan and Balochistan in 1860 and to the Comoros Islands and Mozambique in 1861. In May 1861, he was part of the expedition which eventually placed Bahrain under British rule.
Next he was transferred back to Persia as Political Resident (1862 to 1872). He travelled to Riyadh in 1865, publishing an account of his journey and, on 12 September 1868, he signed a treaty with Mohammed bin Thani which recognised the independence of Qatar. In 1872-73, he accompanied Sir Bartle Frere in the Anti-Slavery Mission to the East Coast of Africa. During his time as Political Resident he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1866 and then Colonel in 1871.
In 1885, by now a Lieutenant General, he was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for the newly created North Hackney constituency. He died in Falmouth on 22 April 1892, and is buried at Merstham in Surrey.
- Pelly, Sir Lewis Report on a Journey to Riyadh in Central Arabia, 1865
- Debretts Illustrated Baronetage, with the Knightage, 1876, Dean & Son (London), 1876
- Whitaker's Almanack, various editions, 1885 to 1892
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Lewis Pelly
James Felix Jones
|Chief Political Resident of the Persian Gulf
Edward Charles Ross
|Chief Commissioner of Ajmer-Merwara
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for North Hackney
William Robert Bousfield QC