Robert Lindsay (Sylhet)

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Robert Lindsay
Supervisor/Superintendent of Sylhet
In office
MonarchGeorge III
GovernorWarren Hastings, John Macpherson
Preceded byHolland
Succeeded byposition abolished
District Collector of Sylhet
In office
GovernorCharles Cornwallis
Preceded bySupervisor of Sylhet
Succeeded byHyndman
Personal details
Robert Lindsay

(1754-01-25)25 January 1754
Died1836 (aged 81–82)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Dick
MotherAnne Dalrymple
FatherJames Lindsay, 5th Earl of Balcarres
Military service
Battles/warsMuharram Rebellion, Revolt of Radharam, Khasi insurgency

Robert Lindsay (1754–1836) was a Scottish colonial official and businessman who served as supervisor of Sylhet in British India from 1778 until 1787, and then as district collector from 1787 until 1790.[1][2] He is known to have taken part in the Muharram Rebellion.


Lindsay was born on 25 January 1754 to the Earl of Balcarres, James Lindsay and Anne Dalrymple. His maternal uncle, Charles Dalrymple got him into the trading lifestyle on a Deptford ship to Cadiz. In 1772, he travelled to India on the Prince of Wales East Indiaman reaching Calcutta in September. Here, he was made an assistant to the Accountant-General of the revenue department and also studied the Persian language. On the autumn of 1776, he went on a voyage to the city of Dacca. He also learnt the Hindustani language as the importance of Persian declined. A few years later, he set off for the Sylhet region. On arriving, he was advised to pay his respects and visit the dargah of Shah Jalal as per tradition. It is said he took his shoes off before entering and donated five golden mohurs (16 Bengali rupees) as he left. He mentions during his time in Sylhet, of the custom of drying fish (shutki) and its "noxious" smell.[3]

In Chapter 7 of his book, he mentions the 1782 Sylhet uprising in Sylhet Shahi Eidgah. During his tenure, he successfully suppressed the Revolt of Radharam in 1786.[4]

According to Assam District Gazetteers, vol. 10, Lindsay was "largely interested in the business, and describes the sources of his wealth in most poetic terms. 'The chunam or lime rock is washed by the rapid stream. A magnificent cataract was seen rolling over the adjoining precipice, the scenery altogether was truly sublime. The mountain was composed of the purest alabaster lime, and appeared in quantity equal to the supply of the whole world'."[1] The book later states, "Mr. Lindsay's business experienced some vicissitudes owing to the violent conduct of the Khasi chiefs, but lime no doubt contributed largely to the fortune that he was able to accumulate in Sylhet.[5] Lindsay was succeeded in Sylhet by Holland and then John Willes.

On his return to the United Kingdom, Lindsay bought a large estate in Scotland. He died in 1836.[2]

Political offices
Preceded by
Superintendent of Sylhet
Succeeded by
Post abolished
Preceded by
New post
Collector of Sylhet
Succeeded by


  1. ^ a b Allen, B.C. (1906). Assam district gazetteers, Volume 10. Baptist Mission Press. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b "Lindsay, Robert (Banglapedia, the national encyclopedia of Bangladesh)". Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  3. ^ Lives of the Lindsays; or a Memoir of the Houses of Crawford and Balcarres. 3. p. 151.
  4. ^ Bhattacharjee, J.B. (2005). "Revolt of Nawab Radharam (1786)". Proceedings of North East India History Association. Gauhati University. 26: 177–78.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. ^ Allen, p. 15