Hamirpur, a district of some 2289 miles in the Allahabad district, had in 1857 a population of somewhat less than 500’000. Geographically, it lay bounded to the north by the Jamuna River, north-west by the Betwa and west by the Dhasan River, south by the states of Alipur, Chhatrpur and Charkhari and the east by the Banda District. The town of Hamirpur is situated on the confluence of the Betwah and the Jamuna, on the right bank of the latter. In 1857, being on the direct route from Banda to Cawnpore, distant from the former at 36 miles and 39 from the latter, it was most uncomfortably situated. Hamirpur was too close to Cawnpore and too far for help from anywhere else.
This, however, did not daunt either Mr. Thomas Kirkman Lloyd, the district magistrate and collector or Mr. Donald Grant, his assistant. They knew their position would be hopeless in the face of mutiny, but it would not be for want of trying – they were, if nothing else, determined men. No urging from Mr. Mayne at Banda could convince them to give up their post. Urge them he did – as long as the travel was possible, they could have fled to Banda and maybe the story of Hamirpur need never have been told.
Besides Lloyd and Grant the European and Christian population was small and consisted of Mr. W.D. Murray, a landowner, Mr. James Crawford, head clerk, Mr. W. Bunter, judicial clerk and his wife, and the Anderson family, relatives of Mr. Bunter with their four children. A detachment of 66 men of the 53rd BNI from Cawnpore made up the military contingent of this rather lost station.
Mr. Lloyd was by all accounts, an energetic and active man. The depressing news from Meerut and Delhi only strengthened his resolve to hold his station – together with Mr. Grant, he judiciously took measures to keep his district calm. He raised numerous local police levies, carefully guarded the numerous ghats along the river, impounded the boats on the Jamuna and gave strict orders that any mutinous sepoys passing through Hamirpur District were to be apprehended at once. He wasn’t alone in his efforts. The Raja of Chirkaree sent him 200 men and 1 gun, while the Nawab of Baonee sent him a further 50 men and 1 gun, while the Jugirdar of Behri offered up 80 men. These chiefs of Bundelkhand, perhaps not strong in their own right, certainly did not relish the idea of the District of Hamirpur breaking out into chaos – it was, in their estimation, too close for comfort.
Mr. Lloyd placed his confidence in the Bundlea auxiliaries but certainly had less in the 53rd. They were the erstwhile guards of the treasury in Hamirpur and under the orders of their subedar and did not fill Mr. Lloyd with anything but dread. Up to the 5th of June however, Mr. Lloyd was writing confidently to Mr. Tucker at Allahabad, ascertaining his hope of overcoming the sepoys and quashing disaffection with the help of the auxiliaries, and come what may, die at his post rather than abandon it. So was the determination of Mr. Lloyd. After the outbreak at Allahabad on the 6th of June, there was no more news from Mr. Lloyd and Hamirpur fell into silence.
What happened at Hamirpur could only be ascertained in fragmented narratives from civilians of the town nearly 4 months later.
Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Grant did hold Hamirpur. A full week after the mutiny of Allahabad, they were still at their post. On the 14th of June, 2 gentlemen arrived in the town, one was a Lieutenant Browne of the 56th BNI and another whose name is unknown, who came in from Jalaun – either their arrival or the news that Cawnpore was indeed in the midst of siege set off the 66 men of the 53rd. They broke out in open mutiny – and to their delight, Mr. Lloyd’s trusted auxiliaries joined them.
With the treasury plundered and the jail opened, Mr. Lloyd saw there was nothing for it but to retreat. The four men had nothing to defend themselves with and now, with the realisation they had no friends to help them in their plight, they abandoned Mr. Lloyd’s house. Under a perfect hail of musketry and matchlock fire, they got into a boat moored under Mr. Lloyd’s house and crossed the Jamuna. With some difficulty, they managed to get across and then ran, hiding in ravines and in the jungles. The sepoys returned to Hamirpur empty-handed.
As for the rest of the Christians and Europeans – they had no boats and no means of escape. Instead, they barricaded themselves in a house called Mr. Ainslie’s – probably the name of a previous owner – not that it was any use. They were rounded up and murdered on the 14th of June, with the exception of Mr. Bunter, his wife and 1 female relative.
Whereas Browne and the other gentleman continued onwards and eventually reached Havelock’s camp, there is no sufficient reason why Grant and Lloyd did not join them.
Whatever then their intention was Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Grant recrossed the Jamuna and came back to the vicinity of Hamirpur. For a few days, they were fed and protected by kindly villagers along with the Bunters, but on the 19th of June, they were discovered hiding under a bridge in Mouza Rumeyree by a goat herd and basely betrayed.
The sepoys dragged them out into the open – Mr. Grant and the Bunters were murdered on the spot.
Mr. Lloyd was taken back to Hamirpur. Savagely beaten, he was taken up in front of a mock court and in this show process, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.
That evening, Mr. Thomas Kirkman Lloyd was taken to the parade ground. Forced to kneel on the hard ground, his hands tied behind his back, the sepoys proceeded to shoot at Mr. Lloyd – the first two shots missed; the third hit him in the shoulder. Seeing he was not mortally injured, the sepoys surrounded the wounded man and hacked him to death with their swords. His body was left where it lay, weltering in blood, to be dispatched by the lowering pariah dogs.
On the 20th of June, a troop of cavalry and a company of infantry left Cawnpore to assist their brother rebels in removing what treasure and plunder of Hamirpur – when they left on the 21st, taking the 66 men of the 53rd with them, the Bundelea auxiliaries drifted off to their homes leaving what was left of the town to be pillaged and destroyed by the neighbouring villagers.
Annals of the Indian Rebellion – Noah Alfred Chick (1859)
Old Haileybury College – Frederick Charles Danvers (1894)
Kaye’s and Malleson’s History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, Vol. VI (1899)