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Rare Map of India from the Year of the Lucknow Revolt

An exceptionally detailed map of India, created as a means of meticulously illustrating the British East India Company's administrative and military control over India.

The map was intended "to serve to illustrate the Dispatches of the Duke of Wellington," pursuant to a note at the bottom right of the map.

Wyld's map was perhaps the most influential map of India, at a time when virtually all of India was either directly or indirectly under the control of the British East India Company (EIC).  First issued in 1841, during a peaceful period between two intense periods of British military activity and conquest in India, the map was a primary administrative tool for India during the middle of the 19th Century.

As noted above, the map includes a note which reads: ‘The map will serve to illustrate the Despatches of the Duke of Wellington.'  This refers to the military reports of Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), who served in India before becoming gaining fame as the commanding officer at Waterloo who led the defeat of Napoleon, thereafter, becoming the 1st Duke of Wellington.

The map benefits from the ongoing work of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India (GTS), which from 1802 to 1870, mapped all of the subcontinent to extremely high scientific standards, predicated on systematic trigonometric methods.   By the 1840s the vast majority of the Indian Subcontinent had been measured to the standards of the GTS, with only regions in the Himalayas and the Northeast and far North of India remaining to be surveyed.

The map notes that it was under the direction of Robert Melville Grindlay (1786-1877).  Grindlay first arrived in India in 1803 and joined the EIC Army and, from 1804 to 1820.  Grindlay became an accomplished artist, and his drawings were later published in a work considered one of the most important color plate books of India.  In 1828, Grindlay co-founded the firm of Leslie & Grindlay, which specialized in arranging for passengers and their cargo to be safely transported to and from anywhere in India.   

The present map was specifically designed to be of use to British travelers, especially those connected to the EIC army or civil service.  It shows all major transportation routes, the distances between major points, political boundaries and various types of government offices – all vital information for official travelers.

Map Overview

The map divides India into approximately 119 numbered squares within the map.  The major regions (Bombay, Madras, Bengal, Bengal Provinces and Northwestern Provinces are then subdivided to show Civil Stations, Zillahs and Collectorates. 

An additional legend, added for the later editions of this map, explains how the colors denote possession of territory:

  • British possessions: pink
  • Subsidiary states: green
  • Protected states: yellow
  • Independent states: red

A further key at the bottom explains the following symbols:

  • C. - Collector
  • D.C.- Deputy Collector
  • S.C. - Sub Collector
  • J. - Judge
  • R. - Recorder

The map includes a remarkable distance table, providing the distances between approximately 75 different Indian cities.

British East India Company

The East India Company was incorporated on December 30, 1600.  The Company established trade relations with Indian rulers in Masulipatam on the east coast in 1611 and Surat on the west coast in 1612. The company rented a small trading outpost in Madras in 1639. Bombay, which was ceded to the British Crown by Portugal as part of the wedding dowry of Catherine of Braganza in 1661, was in turn granted to the East India Company to be held in trust for the Crown.

Meanwhile, in eastern India, after obtaining permission from the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to trade with Bengal, the Company established its first factory at Hooghly in 1640. Almost a half-century later, after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb forced the Company out of Hooghly due to tax evasion, Job Charnock purchased three small village and later renamed Calcutta in 1686 making it the company's new headquarter. By the mid-18th century, the three principal trading settlements including factories and fort, now called the Madras Presidency (or the Presidency of Fort St. George), the Bombay Presidency, and the Bengal Presidency (or the Presidency of Fort William) were each administered by a Governor.

  • Madras Presidency: established 1640.
  • Bombay Presidency: East India Company's headquarters moved from Surat to Bombay (Mumbai) in 1687.
  • Bengal Presidency: established 1690.

After Robert Clive's victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the puppet government of a new Nawab of Bengal, was maintained by the East India Company. However, after the invasion of Bengal by the Nawab of Oudh in 1764 and his subsequent defeat in the Battle of Buxar, the Company obtained the Diwani of Bengal, which included the right to administer and collect land-revenue (land tax) in Bengal, the region of present-day Bangladesh, West Bengal and Bihar beginning from 1772 as per the treaty signed in 1765. By 1773, the Company obtained the Nizāmat of Bengal (the "exercise of criminal jurisdiction") and thereby full sovereignty of the expanded Bengal Presidency. During the period, 1773 to 1785, very little changed; the only exceptions were the addition of the dominions of the Raja of Banares to the western boundary of the Bengal Presidency, and the addition of Salsette Island to the Bombay Presidency.

Portions of the Kingdom of Mysore were annexed to the Madras Presidency after the Third Anglo-Mysore War ended in 1792. Next, in 1799, after the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, more of his territory was annexed to the Madras Presidency.  In 1801, Carnatic, which had been under the suzerainty of the Company, began to be directly administered by it as a part of the Madras Presidency.

By 1851, the East India Company′s vast, and growing, holdings across the sub-continent were still grouped into just four main territories:

  • Bengal Presidency with its capital at Calcutta
  • Bombay Presidency with its capital at Bombay
  • Madras Presidency with its capital at Madras
  • North-Western Provinces with the seat of the Lieutenant-Governor at Agra. The original seat of government was at Allahabad, then at Agra from 1834 to 1868. In 1833, an Act of the British Parliament (statute 3 and 4, William IV, cap. 85) promulgated the elevation the Ceded and Conquered Provinces to the new Presidency of Agra, and the appointment of a new Governor for the latter, but the plan was never carried out. In 1835 another Act of Parliament (statute 5 and 6, William IV, cap. 52) renamed the region the Northwestern Provinces, this time to be administered by a Lieutenant-Governor, the first of whom, Sir Charles Metcalfe, would be appointed in 1836.

James Rivett Carnac Bart:

This map was dedicated to James Bart. Sir James Rivett-Carnac, 1st Baronet (1784 – 1846) was the Governor of the Bombay Presidency of British India from 1838 to 1841, during the period of Company Rule.  

Born in Bombay in 1784, Carnac served the East India Company in India from 1801and was a director of the Company for various periods between 1827 and 1838. He was made a baronet in 1836 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 1838.

Rivett-Carnac was Member of Parliament (MP) for Sandwich from 1837 to 1839 He succeeded Robert Grant as Governor of Bombay Presidency after the latter's death on 9 July 1838.  

Captain R. M. Grindlay

This map references that it was made under the auspices of Captain R. M. Grindlay. Captain Robert Melville Grindlay (1786-1877) was a founder of Grindlay's Bank, established in London in 1828 as Leslie & Grindlay, agents and bankers to the British army and business community in India. Banking operations expanded to include the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and elements of Africa and Southeast Asia. It was styled Grindlay, Christian & Matthews in 1839, Grindlay & Co from 1843, Grindlay & Co Ltd from 1924 and Grindlays Bank Ltd in 1947 until its merger with the National Bank of India.

Grinlay's book, Scenery, Costumes and Architecture chiefly on the Western Side of India. London: Smith, Elder & Co., [1826]-1830, is widely considered one of the most beautiful color plate books on India.

Captain Robert Melville Grindlay established a firm, Leslie & Grindlay, in London in 1828, to arrange passage to and from India for customers and their baggage. In time, the firm added private banking activities to its services.  The firm remained based solely in London until 1854 when offices were opened at Calcutta in 1864 and then Bombay in 1865. These offices were largely autonomous, administered from London, until the local partners' interests were bought out in 1908. Additional branches were opened in Simla (1912), Delhi (1923), Lahore (1924) and Peshawar (1926).

Grindlays was regarded as "pre-eminently bankers to the Indian Army" and it did little commercial banking. The failure of army bankers, Macgrigors, in 1922 and then the Alliance Bank of Simla in 1923, encouraged the Grindlays partners to seek the security of a larger organization. In 1924, the Bank was acquired by the National Provincial Bank, converted into a company, and allowed to operate independently. When National Provincial decided to exit overseas banking in 1948, it sold Grindlays to the National Bank of India, in which it took a small share position.


This map's slipcase bears the signature "F. Cowell" in two locations. Cowell was most likely a British government agent during the early Raj period of India.

James Wyld Biography

James Wyld Sr. (1790-1836) was a British cartographer and one of Europe’s leading mapmakers. He made many contributions to cartography, including the introduction of lithography into map printing in 1812.

William Faden, another celebrated cartographer, passed down his mapmaking business to Wyld in 1823. The quality and quantity of Faden’s maps, combined with Wyld’s considerable skill, brought Wyld great prestige.

Wyld was named geographer to Kings George IV and William IV, as well as HRH the Duke of York. In 1825, he was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was one of the founding members of the Royal Geographical Society in 1830. Also in 1830, his son, James Wyld Jr., took over his publishing house. Wyld Sr. died of overwork on October 14, 1836.

James Wyld Jr. (1812-87) was a renowned cartographer in his own right and he successfully carried on his father’s business. He gained the title of Geographer to the Queen and H.R.H. Prince Albert. Punch (1850) described him in humorous cartographic terms, “If Mr. Wyld’s brain should be ever discovered (we will be bound he has a Map of it inside his hat), we should like to have a peep at it, for we have a suspicion that the two hemispheres must be printed, varnished, and glazed, exactly like a pair of globes.”