History of the Origin and Progress of the Sicks.
Browne, Major James.
Bound together with: India Tracts: Containing a Description of The Jungleterry Districts, Their Revenues, Trade, and Government.
Half-title, title page, one leaf notes, pp. i-xii (dedication), large folding map, 1-88.
Original eighteenth century full-calf ('russia calf') with elaborately gilt-tooled spine and crimson morocco label. Armorial crest of a nobleman stamped in gilt on upper board. Original blue endpapers. 4to.
Logographic Press, London 1788.
The first European history of the Sikhs, with the very first printed map of the Sikh territories. Regarded by Sikh scholars as arguably the most sought after, important and rare work for a world-class collection. Only one other copy has appeared on the open market in the last two decades.
Page 468, Oxford History of India (editor Vincent A. Smith, second edition revised by S.M. Edwards), Oxford 1923: 'He (Browne) was Resident at Delhi from 1782 to 1785, and published a volume entitled India Tracts in 1788. The book includes an account of the Sikhs, probably the earliest in English'.
The author, Major James Browne, had been ADC and confidant to the Governor of Bengal Warren Hastings, becoming Resident at the behest of his patron to the Court of the Mughul Emperor, Shah Alam II. Browne's account, the first, was intended to warn the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London of the potential threat posed to their interests by the strength of the Sikh Sirdars
Equally important is the extraordinary accompanying map documenting the names of the Sirdars, their residences, their number of forces, horse and foot, together with geographical comment about their domains.
At the time when this account was published by Major Browne, one in five Members of Parliament in the UK were drawing their wealth from India (the nabob vote). This new information from Major James Browne would have been of immense significance to the British economy. To quote Major James Browne in his introduction:
"During the time of my residence as the English Minister, at the Court of His Majesty Shah Alum, I took every opportunity to acquire a knowledge of the strength, resources, disposition, and constitution of the several states bordering on the provinces of Agra and Dehly, by seeking out, and cultivating a personal intimacy with the best informed men on those several subjects. In the course of these researches, the first and most important object which presented itself, was the great irregular Aristocracy of the Sicks; a sect, which from a small beginning in the neighbourhood of Lahore, has established itself in the complete possession of all the country between the Attock and the Sutledge, and levies contributions to the very frontier of the Vizier's dominions".
Browne based his account of the Sikhs on the Risala-i-Nanakwhich was written at his request by Budh Singh Arora and Lala Ajaib Singh Suri of Malerkotla.
Khushwant Singh, The History of the Sikhs, volume I (1469-1839), Oxford 1977.
Cambridge History of India (editor H.H. Dodwell), volume V (British India 1497-1858), Cambridge 1929.