Papers of Alexander Gerard

Scope and Content

The Papers of Alexander Gerard consist of a single item - his "Memoir on the Situation of Bundelcund (Bundelkhand) in 1803" which the manuscript notes was presented to the Society by Captain A. Gerard on 3 May 1828. This document commences with the accession of Chatter Saul Singh who raised the power and influence of his kingdom. However on his death the area was thrown into confusion by competing claims of rival princes. Nana Fadnavis annexed the kingdom to the Mahratta territories. The document gives tables of descent for the Rajah of Punna and the Rajah of Bindi and statements of annual revenue. Gerard was not in India in 1803 so this is written as a history rather than a personal memoir. Handwritten manuscript, 23 pages, with additional label which states, "Catalogue of English MSS. IV, No. 13, Bundelkhund in 1803, Presented by Captn. A. Gerard".

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Gerard was born in Aberdeen in 1792, son of Gilbert Gerard and grandson of Alexander Gerard, the Scottish minister and philosopher. He and his two brothers all served in India. Gerard graduated from Kings College, Aberdeen, in 1808 when he was appointed to a cadetship in the 13th Bengal Infantry. He was employed in the survey of the route from Dehli to Lahore in 1812. In 1814 he was promoted to lieutenant, and appointed to survey the Saharanpur district, which he completed in 1819. He was surveyor of the Narmada valley in 1825, and surveyor in Malwa and Rajputana in 1826 and 1827. During the surveys in the Himalayas he ascended heights previously believed to be inaccessible, and penetrated into Tibet as far as the frontier pickets of Chinese would allow. Some of the earliest discoveries of the geological structure and remains of the Himalayan ranges come from his work. Gerard was a Persian scholar and versed in other oriental languages. He was also an accurate topographer and observant traveller. Bad health, the result of hardships endured in the course of his survey duties and travels, led to his retirement from the service on 22 February 1836. He died in Aberdeen on 15 December 1839, aged 48.

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist using the email address given here. The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID

Acquisition Information

The Donations Register for 1823-1831, p.111, lists the donation of the manuscript from Captain A Gerard on 3 May 1828. This accords with the labelling on the manuscript and therefore it would be suggested that the manuscript was donated by the author.

Archivist's Note

These papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2019.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Custodial History

As the manuscript seems to have been donated by its author it would appear that it remained in the author's possession until the time of his presentation of it to the Royal Asiatic Society on 3 May 1828.

Related Material

The Donations Register for 1823-1831, p.111, lists the donation of the manuscript from Captain A Gerard on 3 May 1828. The manuscript is also recorded in the Catalogue of English Manuscripts, p.74 and a description of the manuscript is provided.
The following books are also in our Collections:

  • "Narrative of a Journey from Caunpoor to the Boorendo Pass in the Himalaya Mountains by Major Sir William Lloyd and Captain Alexander Gerard's Account of an Attempt to Penetrate by Bekhur to Garoo and the Lake Mansarowara: with a Letter from the late J.G. Gerard, Esq. detailing a Visit to the Shatool and Borrendo Passes", Volumes I and II, London 1840.
  • "Journal of a Tour through Punjab, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Khorasan, and Part of Persia, in company with Lieut. Barnes and Dr. Gerard " by Munshi Mohan Lal", Calcutta, Baptist Mission Press, 1834. Dr. Gerard is Alexander's brother, James Gilbert.

Details of these books can be found on the Society's Library Catlogue .

Geographical Names