Percival Spear

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Thomas George Percival Spear OBE (1901–1982) was an English historian who spent much of his life living and teaching in India. An accomplished historian of modern Indian social history, he taught at both Cambridge University and St. Stephen's College with great distinction.

Personal life and education[edit]

Born in Bath in 1901, Percival Spear attended Monkton Combe School and later St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he studied History. He spent some of his time there rowing in the Cambridge rowing team. He later taught European and English history in India for 16 years.[1]

In 1943 he became deputy secretary to the government of India in the department of information and broadcasting.[1] He also served for a time in 1944 as government whip in the Federal Assembly, the precursor to independent India's Parliament. He was awarded the OBE in 1946.

After the war, he returned to teach South Asian History at Cambridge. In his time there, he had a single year visiting professorship at University of California, Berkeley.[1]


In his book Master of Bengal: Clive and his India, Percival Spear wrote, "The dominion of Bengal was not desired in itself, but only as a safeguard for peaceful commercial operations ... Rule by legal fiction and by deputy was both safer and cheaper in the conditions of the time."

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • A History of India Volume 2, 1956, ISBN 0140207708
  • The Nabobs, 1932
  • India, Pakistan and the West
  • The Twilight of the Mughals
  • India, a Modern History


  1. ^ a b c Spear, Thomas George Percival. (1979). A history of India, volume 2. Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-020770-8. OCLC 7222798.

External links[edit]