Posted on: 28 November 2020

Digital Rare Book:
Historical sketches of the south of India, in an attempt to trace the HISTORY OF MYSOOR, from the origin of the Hindoo government of that state, to the extinction of the Mohammedan dynasty in 1799
By Lieut. Col. Mark Wilks
Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme, London - 1817
Volume 3

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Colonel Mark Wilks FRS (1759–1831) was a Manx soldier, historian and East India Company administrator who worked in southern India principally in the princely state of Mysore. He was the acting Resident at the Wodeyar Court.

He was born in the Isle of Man, the son of Rev. James Wilks and Elisabeth Christian, and came from a lineage of Manx gentry. He purchased cadetship through Sir Henry Fletcher, in the court of the Directors of the East India Company in 1781 at the age of 18, joining the Madras Army. He was commissioned an officer in 1782 and like others, he was trained at Fort St. George, he picked up Persian. He translated the Persian poet Nasir-ud-din's work Aklak-i-Naseri into English. Wilks served as a secretary to the Military Board in 1787, accompanying Sir Barry Close on a diplomatic mission to Mysore. His early education included Greek and Latin classics which and he would later in life promote its study by his nephew Mark Cubbon. He served as the Town Major at Fort Saint George around 1788, the capital of Madras Presidency. After a furlough in England Wilks became a private secretary to Lord Edward Clive. Wilks served alongside General James Stuart during the storming of Srirangapatna resulting in the death of Tipu Sultan in May 1799. He was sent to Basra and returned in 1803 to India to be appointed Resident at Mysore.

He wrote several historical works including, Report on the Internal Administration of Mysore. This was a continuation of a report on the survey of the Kingdom of Mysore undertaken by Lieut. Col. Colin Mackenzie. He also wrote the book Historical Sketches of the South of India in an attempt to trace the History of Mysoor. This also relates to the works of Lieut. Col. Colin Mackenzie. Mark Wilks was the uncle of Mark Cubbon who was the Commissioner of Mysore and after whom the Cubbon Park in Bangalore is named.

After his return from India, Mark Wilks, with the active help and co-operation of James Kirkpatrick, the East India Company (EIC) Resident at Hyderabad, wrote one of the first histories of medieval South India: Historical Sketches of the South of India. This volume examined the rise of the Mysore Wodeyar dynasty in the confusion following the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565. Wilks denounced the reign of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan in his historical enquiries and sought to find the causes for the decline of the Vijaynagar Empire.

In 1813 he was appointed Governor for three years of Saint Helena where the exiled former French Emperor Napoleon is said to have found Wilks a highly engaging and affable man. Saint Helena was chiefly a center for slave trade and as Governor he did not outlaw it but he is thought to have taken a sympathy for Samuel Ally, a freed slave. Wilks invited William Roxburgh to study the possibility of cultivating cinchona. After the British government took temporary control of St Helena from the EIC during Napoleon's time on St Helena, Wilks return to England in 1816 and was elected to the Manx parliament, the House of Keys. In 1826, after the death of his father-in-law, he became Speaker of the house. A portrait of Mark Wilks still hangs in the Tynwald building in Douglas.

In February 1826, as Colonel Mark Wilks, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

- Wiki


This highly detailed two-page map depicts the southern portion of India as it was known at the turn of the nineteenth century. It includes thorough information about the extent of British rule in India at the time.

The map, which extends over two pages, depicts the subcontinent as far north as Bombay (Mumbai), as far east as the City of Ellore (Eluru) and the Bay of Bengal, as far south as the city of Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) and the northern half of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and as far west as the Laccadives (Lakshadwap).

The map highlights the British influence over the region by utilizing the Anglicized names of settlements and landmarks, as well as by emphasizing the British conquest of the continent through the color coding of the territories and marches of various British officials across the subcontinent.

In the bottom left corner, an ornate cartouche features several notes about the map and a series of scale bars portraying multiple units of measurement. A note from Faden is also featured on the first page, just above the page break, which explains his source, Captain Wheeler, for information about the placement of the route of a prisoner march from Condapoor to Madras.

Originally published in 1792, the map is color-coded by hand to portray the territorial holdings of various groups, as explained in a legend at the bottom. Red regions represented areas held by the British, largely under the control of the British East India Company. Purple regions are those under the influence of the Raja of Mysore, a kingdom ruled in the late-eighteenth century by Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan, who were known for inciting various rebellions against the British.

The holdings of the Marhatta are colored in green and the Nizam in orange. The annotation at the bottom of the map lists the Marhatta and the Nizam as being allies of Britain, acquired by partition treaties in 1792 and 1799. The territories in yellow are under the rule of the Nawabs of the Carnatic (also known as the Nawabs of Arcot), who managed to resist British colonization until the early-nineteenth century. Territories in blue were under control of the Kingdom of Travancore, which came under the rule of the British East India Company after a 1795 treaty.

Several notable marches across India are illustrated in the map. That of the Marquess of Cornwallis, whose route is demarcated in red, was one of the most prominent British figures in India during this era. From 1786 to 1793, he was governor general and commander in chief of India. He was known for defeating Tipu Sultan of Mysore in battle in 1792, forcing the Sultan to accept peace terms. Cornwallis also served as a general in the British Army during the American Revolutionary War and as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the last years of the eighteenth century.

Source: Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.

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