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Portrait miniature on ivory.
c.1820. Painted on ivory, oval (90 × 75 mm), in attractive contemporary embossed gilt window mount, framed and glazed. Late nineteenth-century MS genealogical notes mounted on the backboard, including family tree. Also note "Painted circa 1820" and a catalogue number. Ivory rippled, and with two hair-line cracks, but the colour still strong, and remains attractive. Neil Benjamin Edmonstone (1765-1841) was the youngest of the five sons of Sir Archibald Edmonstone, first baronet of Duntreath. Edmonstone was admitted to the East India Company as a writer, travelling out Calcutta in 1783. "He soon gained entry to the secretariat: he was made deputy Persian translator by Earl Cornwallis in 1789, and Persian translator by Sir John Shore in 1794, and in 1798 he was appointed by the earl of Mornington (later Marquess Wellesley) as his private secretary. In that capacity, in 1799, he accompanied the governor-general to Madras and took part in the campaign which crushed Tipu Sultan … Promoted on 1 January 1801 to the post of secretary of the government of India's secret and political department, Edmonstone was made responsible for the planning of relations with all princely states. As such, he played an important part in forming strategies which led to the subduing of the Maratha confederacy led by the peshwa. The 'Wellesley policy' of assuring company hegemony in India by means of a system of 'subsidiary alliances' can be attributed to Edmonstone, though he remained discreetly in the background" (ODNB). He remained in the post after Wellesley left in 1805, and continued to "reinforce the [imperial] system he had done so much to initiate". With the arrival of Lord Minto as governor-general in 1807 "Edmonstone's powerful influence became, if anything, even stronger. Again, as in the days of Lord Wellesley, he acted as the governor-general's private secretary, and in this capacity he soon gained as much influence over policy as he had possessed before". Late in 1809 he became Chief Secretary to the Government of India; and, in 1812, he succeeded his colleague and friend James Lumsden as member of the supreme council at Calcutta. When he retired from India at the end of his five year term "the company's 'paramountcy' over India was nearly complete. His thirty-four years of service in India were crowned, soon after his return to England, by election to the East India Company's court of directors". In Lives of Indian Officers J. W. Kaye described him as "the ubiquitous Edmonstone, one of the most valuable officials and far-seeing statesmen which the Indian civil service has ever produced".
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2015-11-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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