Monday, 1 July 2019

Assassination of William Fraser, British Agent at the Last Mogul ruler's court, Delhi (1835)

major and commissioner of delhi William Fraser, 1806 paintingen.wikipedia.org
Bahadur Shah Zafar  (24 October 1775-7 November 1862) being the last Mughal emperor had  his  authority limited only to the walled city of Old Delhi (Shahjahanbad). He  became the successor to his father, Akbar II, upon his death on 28 September 1837 and was just a  nominal Emperor.  The East India company, soon after putting down the  Great Indian rebellion of 1857 took over Delhi and thus the Mogul rule came to an end. Prior to that rebellion William Fraser  was a Resident Agent to the Governor General of India and Commissioner of the Delhi Territory.  During his reign William Fraser (1784 -22 March 1835)  acted as a link between the English company and the last Mogul ruler.  His residence was  close to the  St. George church.  

On Sunday evening the 22nd March 1835 about half past 7 o’clock , an unexpected event took place William Fraser was shot dead close to his residence. This incident took place when he was  returning  home after visiting  Maharajah Kulleean Singh Chief of Kishengurh, then residing in Delhi. It was an important ceremony at the Majharajah's place. The assassin was one Kurreem Khan a well-known  Marksman and was hired by the Nawab Shumsooddeen Khan of Ferozepoor  to kill the British officer. 
The Assassin, as planned before, rode up in the rear of his victim and when  he was on target and close by used the carbine gun and pumped-in  its contents. It was an instantaneous death for Fraser. One slug went through his body while two others penetrated almost to the other side of the body.  Kurreem Khan was executed on the 26th August  and the Newab on the 8th of the following Month. At the trial both were found guilt of killing a high-ranking  English officer.
Tomb of William Fraser at St. James' Church, Delhi,
The killing of a good British officer took countless people in Delhi  - both  natives and  Europeans by surprice. Because like many British officers he was much  influenced by the  Indo-Mogul culture and had a taste for arts and culture. Besides being a  good admirer of  Mogul poet, Ghalib,  he  also commissioned famed art work called as''the Fraser Album''. It includes countless  works by well-known  artists of  Mogul era. The fine  artwork  covers the life during the Mogul period which is  quite beneficial to the posterity as the present is relevent to the past era. 

Being an agent to the Governor General, William Fraser, in 1814  accompanied the Army under the Command of the late Major General Sir Robert Rolls Gillespie K.C.B.  The army was engaged against  the Hill Fortress of Kalunga. Fraser voluntarily took part in the military operations  and, on two occasions, severely wounded. It was the Marquis of Hastings K.G. Governor General and Commander in Chief in India soon afterwards conferred on William Fraser the rank  of Major in the First Regiment of Irregular Horse. This regiment was a famous one  commanded by none other than  Colonel James Skinner CB (1778 - 4 December 1841); an Anglo-Indian mercenary in India), a true friend.  Fraser took part in the siege of Bhurtpoor in 1826. Peace  was restored  there after successful military operations.
St. James Church, Delhi. slideshare.net

Fraser's mortal remains were  first interred in the Burial Ground within the city but later removed to within the area surrounding St. James Church by  Col. James Skinner C.B. A  suitable monument was erected worthy of him. His epitaph, written by Skinner, reads as follows:


‘The remains interred beneath this monument were once animated, by as brave, and sincere a soul, as was ever vouch saved to man, by his creator! A brother in friendship, has caused it to be erected that when his own frame is dust it may remain as a memorial for those, who can participate in lamenting, the sudden and melancholy loss of one, dear to him as life. William Fraser. Died 22nd March 1835.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Skinner_(East_India_
Company_officer)
https://delhistory.wordpress.com/tag/william-fraser/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Fraser_(British_India_civil_servant)