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William Hamilton (died 4 December 1717) was a surgeon in the British East India Company. He was a part of the delegation that went from Calcuttamarker, the base of the company, to meet Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar in his court in Delhimarker in 1715.

Treatment of Farrukhsiyar

In Delhi, Hamilton first had to treat Taqarab Khan (the khansama, or lord steward). In August 1715, the surgeon was called to treat a swelling in the groin of the emperor Farrukhsiyar, which he treated successfully. In October of the same year, the emperor again suffered from violent pain and feared it would be a fistula. Hamilton’s treatment was again successful. As a result, in December 1715 Farrukhsiyar finally arranged his marriage to the daughter of Raja Ajit Sinh of Jodhpurmarker, which had been delayed by his recurrent illness.

Royal gift to Hamilton

Hamilton was generously rewarded on the occasion of the wedding. He received "an elephant, a horse, five thousand rupees in money, two diamond rings, a jewelled aigrette, a set of gold buttons, and models of all his instruments in gold."

The Farman

More important than these personal rewards to Hamilton was what the British East India Company achieved. The Company's delegation was placed in high regard in the royal court of Farrukhsiyar. In April 1717, the emperor’s farman (grant) was issued, meeting all the requests that the Company had made in its petitions. Permission was granted to purchase 38 villages surrounding the three already held by the company (Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata, the predecessor of modern Calcuttamarker). The Company was also granted trading privileges in Bengalmarker and further fortification of Calcutta. This grant was instrumental in the setting up of business and the colonisation of Bengal, later to be followed by the rest of Indiamarker, by the East India Company.

Farrukhsiyar's wish to retain Hamilton

After the grant, Farrukhsiyar expressed his wish to retain Hamilton in Delhi as his personal physician, but Hamilton was unwilling to stay. Hamilton promised to the emperor that after a visit to Europe he would return and join him as his personal physician.

Death

Hamilton died in Calcuttamarker on [4 December] 1717. He was buried at the churchyard of St. John's Church, Calcutta. The inscription tells the story of his curing a "Malignant Distemper" of Farrukhsiyar.

Notes

  1. Kochhar, Rajesh. The truth behind the legend: European doctors in pre-colonial India.
  2. A Guidebook to Calcutta Agra Delhi Karachi and Bombay. The American Red Cross of the China-Burma-India Command.
  3. Chatterton, Eyre. 1924. A History of the Church of England in India: Since the Early Days of the East India Company. Project Canterbury



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