John Baillie of Leys
Colonel John Baillie (1772–1833) of Leys, entered the military service of the East India Company in 1790. He proved to be an excellent linguist and took up a professorship at Fort William College in Calcutta, India. In 1807 he resigned his professorship for the position of Resident at the Indian city of Lucknow which he held until 1815. In that year was commissioned a Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th Native Infantry. He returned to the United Kingdom in 1816 and as well as managing the family estates in Inverness-shire he became Member of Parliament and a director of the East India Company.
John Baillie was born at Inverness on 10 May 1772. He was the younger son of George Baillie of Leys, Inverness, and his wife, Anne. Baillie served in the East India Company from 1790 until retiring in 1818 (arriving in India in 1791 and leaving in 1816). He was commissioned an ensign in 1793 and a lieutenant in 1794, devoting his leisure to the study of oriental languages, which he prosecuted with such success that on the foundation of the new college of Fort William College in Calcutta in 1801 he was appointed professor of the Arabic and Persian languages and of Mohammedan law.
In 1803, on the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Maratha War, Baillie joined in the siege of Agra with the rank of captain, and soon after was appointed to the difficult post of Political Agent at Bundelkhand in central India. Disaffection was rife there, and the chiefs were forming dangerous combinations. Captain Baillie, however, succeeded in disuniting the league of the chiefs and re-establishing order and security, for which services he was publicly thanked by the governor-general in a letter to the directors, in which it was said that "the British authority in Bundelkhand was only preserved by his fortitude, ability, and influence". He had, in fact, transferred to the company a territory with a revenue of £225,000 a year.
Baillie resigned his professorship in 1807 for the position of Resident at the Indian city of Lucknow which he held till 1815. In that year was commissioned a Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th Native Infantry.
Baillie returned to the United Kingdom in 1816 and as well as managing the family estates in Inverness-shire he became Member of Parliament and a director of the East India Company. He stood successfully for Parliament: for Hedon (1820–1830), Inverness Burghs (1830–1831) and again for Inverness Burghs (1832 – 20 April 1833).
He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1817. In 1823 he became a director of the East India Company, and was willing use his influence in Parliament to support the Companies interests.
While professor, John Baillie wrote:
- Sixty Tables elucidatory of a Course of Lectures on Arabic Grammar delivered in the College of Fort William during the first year of its institution (first edition 1801)
- 'The Five Books upon Arabic Grammar, i.e. the "Meeut Âmel", "Shurhu Meeut Âmel", "Mesbâh", "Hedâyut oon-Nuhve", and the "Kâfeea", of which the first four were issued in two thin volumes in 1802-3, and the last had not been published by 1900.
Baillie also translated from the Arabic part (relating to commercial transactions) of a digest of Mohammedan law in 1797, at the request of Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth), the then governor-general, but the work was never completed.
Baillie's position as Resident in Lucknow allowed him to amass a large collection of manuscripts, many of which later passed to the Edinburgh University Library in 1876, where they were catalogued by Edward Robertson in 1912. He is best known for his collection of paintings and illustrated manuscripts, such as the Jami al-Tawarikh, and the poems of Hafiz of Sharaz.
- Casey, Martin (2009), "Baillie, John (1772-1833), of Leys Castle, Inverness and Devonshire Place, Mdx.", in Fisher, D.R., The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, Cambridge University Press
- Lane-Poole, Stanley; Falkner, James (reviewer) (2004). "Baillie, John (1772–1833))". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1064. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lane-Poole, Stanley (1885). "Baillie, John (1772-1833)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 2. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 418.
- Blair, Sheila; Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Rashīd al-Dīn Ṭabīb (1995), A compendium of chronicles: Rashid al-Din's illustrated history of the world, Nour Foundation in association with Azimuth Editions and Oxford University Press, p. 34, ISBN 978-0-19-727627-3
- Grant, James (1879), Cassell's illustrated history of India, Cassell, p. 412
- Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies: About us, University of Edinburgh, 25 November 2010, archived from the original on 25 February 2012, retrieved 19 January 2012
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Baillie