Sir John Willoughby: Letter book

Scope and Content

A bound volume entitled 'Demi Official Letterbook', 146 pages. There are copies of forty letters written by Willoughby to successive governors, senior officials and others in the Bombay Presidency, 1827-1835. The letters deal with a range of issues, including relations with the local rulers, local political intrigues and questions of administrative reform, including Sir John Malcolm's new judicial system. From 1831 the correspondence is concerned predominantly with the commission of enquiry investigating Colonel Fretcherville D. Ballantyne. There is some correspondence with Sir Charles Trevelyan on their joint interest in stamping out the native practice of infanticide. The letter book also contains a detailed commentary by Willoughby on Sir James Outram's report in 1835 on the pacification of the province of Mahi Kanta.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir John Pollard Willoughby (1799-1866), 4th Baronet, was born at Baldon House, Oxfordshire, on 21 April 1799, the younger son of Sir Christopher Willoughby (1748-1806), 1st Baronet. He was educated at the Merchant Taylor's School, 1809-1812, and, after serving for a brief time at sea, at Haileybury College, 1815-1818. Willoughby entered the Bombay Civil Service in 1819, and was appointed assistant resident at Baroda in 1820. In 1822 he married Eliza, only daughter of Colonel Michael Kennedy (d. 1831), a member of Bombay Presidency's army. He became political agent at Kathiawar in 1828, and held this post until 1835.

During the early 1830s, Willoughy acted as government prosecutor on a commission of enquiry investigating claims of fraudulent accounting and peculation against his predecessor as political agent, Colonel Fretcherville D. Ballantyne. Ballantyne, an old Indian army man, was well connected in Bombay and at home, and mounted counter claims against Willoughby, his principal accuser, who became increasingly aggrieved at the lack of support he received from the Bombay authorities. Ballantyne was eventually found guilty and fined.

Willoughby was Chief Secretary to the Government of Bombay, 1835-1846, and a member of the Bombay Council, 1846-1851. On returning to England, he was a member of the Court of Directors, 1854-1858. Following the death of his first wife, Eliza, in 1852, he married Mary Elizabeth Hawker in 1854, the fourth daughter of Thomas Hawker of Himley House, Staffordshire. Willoughby sat as Liberal-Conservative M.P. for Leominster, 1857-1858, resigning when he was appointed a member of the Council for India. On the death of his brother, he succeeded to the baronetcy on 23 March 1865. He died at his residence, Fulmer Hall, near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on 15 September 1866.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Pablo Butcher, June 1998.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

There is a detailed description of the collection in the Additional Manuscripts Catalogue, available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.


Geographical Names