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British India - A Raj Presentation Cup and Cover, 1874
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British India - A Raj Presentation Cup and Cover, 1874

Measurements: Height: 38.5cm (15.5in)

£2500

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Silver twin handled cup and cover. The bowl with foliate cartouches to front and back the former inscribed ‘Presented to Colonel A.H. Ternan on His Leaving India by a Few Friends Who Have Served Under Him in the Jhansi Division, as a Small Token of Their Sincere Esteem and Regard for Him...Octr 1st 1874’. - the latter with names of the donors and fellow administrators:- Col. J. Davidson, Deputy Commissioner; P.J. White, Assistant Commissioner; R.H. Story, A.C.; J.V. Sturt, A.C.; Capt. F.J. Quin, A.C.; Lieut. G.W. Anson, A.C.; F.S. Hall, Civil Engineer; J.J.A. Innes, Extra A.C.; Sheik Kureem Busc, E.A.C.,’ The whole embossed with leaf scroll and floral ornament, and fitted with double C-scroll handle; on circular pedestal base of shaped outline. The cover applied with the Ternan family crest finial (A Dragon Passant Ppr., Resting The Dexter Fore-Claw Upon A Fleur-De-Lis) and further decorated with with fruiting vine leaf border decoration Maker’s mark of Edward & John Barnard. Hallmarked London 1866. Weight: 49 Troy ounces.

General Augustus Henry Ternan, Bengal Staff Corps (1817-1893) was admitted to a cadetship in the East India Company’s Bengal Army and proceeded to India in the 1838-39 season. Commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1839, he saw active service in Bundlecund, 1842-3; Sutlej Campaign, 1846; Punjab Campaign, 1849 (mentioned in despatches); and the suppression of Indian Mutiny, 1857-8 (mentioned in despatches). Aside from active military service, he spent much of his career administrative roles through by which he gained a reputation for sound judgement and common sense in his dealings with the native population.  

In early 1857 he was serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Narsinhpur, a district of petty chiefs who had never properly submitted to British rule. One evening while smoking a cigar outside his tent a village headman came to him in a state of agitation and reported that chapattis, cakes of unleavened bread, were being mysteriously distributed throughout the district - each recipient being told to bake five like the one he had received and pass them on. Spreading at a rate of 200 miles a night, the appearance of the cakes was variously interpreted as a jest, and signal for protest or non co-operation.

Ternan rightly recognised them as traditional portents of disaster. His subsequent report, however, was dismissed by his superiors as far-fetched and ignored. Shortly afterwards rebellion engulfed much of British India; Europeans were attacked; the Mughal Emperor was reinstated at Delhi, and British garrisons were laid under siege. The cakes were later deemed to have been ‘the harbingers of the coming storm’ having been distributed broadly over the North West Provinces and in Oudh ‘for the very object divined by Ternan’. Reportedly, they were the work of the Oudh conspirators, angered by the annexation of Oudh, and ‘intended to unsettled men’s minds, preparing them for the unseen, of making them impressionable, easy to receive the ideas the conspirators wished to promulgate.’

Source:
Kaye, J. & Malleson, G.B. (1890) History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8

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