Sir Thos. Rumbold Bt.
Published June 1, 1782, by I.Fielding, Pater-noster Row, J. Sewell, Cornhill, & I. Derbett, Piccadilly.
Engraving. 167 x 107mm.
Sir Thomas Rumbold, 1st Baronet (1736-1791) was a British administrator of India who served as Governor of Madras from 1777 to 1780. He joined the East India Company's naval service as a writer at the age of 16, then transferred to the Company's military service. Promoted to Captain in 1757, he served as Clive's aide-de-camp at the Battle of Plassey. He subsequently transferred back to the Civil Service, becoming chief at Patna in 1763 and a member of the Bengal Council from 1766 to 1769; he was mentioned as a possible Governor of Bengal in 1771, but Warren Hastings was appointed. He was elected to Parliament in 1770, initially as MP for New Shoreham, a notoriously corrupt and expensive borough where he probably bribed extensively. At the next election, in 1774, Rumbold was embroiled in another election-bribery scandal at Shaftesbury: he and Sir Francis Sykes were initially declared elected, but their defeated opponent, petitioned to have the result overturned and produced copious evidence of corruption. In the meanwhile, Rumbold had been a director of the East India Company in 1772 and again from 1775 to 1777, and in June 1777 he was appointed Governor of Madras. During his governorship, British troops occupied Guntur (then French), which shortly afterwards was annexed to Madras, and also captured Pondicherry and Mahé. He was created a baronet in 1779. However, Sir Thomas was also responsible for negotiations with Haidar Ali, and was unable to dissuade him from invading the Carnatic or to prevent him from succeeding. He resigned the governorship for reasons of ill health in 1780, and was subsequently dismissed from the service of the company by the court of directors, who held him responsible for the Carnatic invasion and the Second Anglo-Mysore War. A parliamentary enquiry was also imminent, and he was anxious to be in the Commons to defend himself, but he had once more been unseated for electoral corruption and had to buy himself a seat at Yarmouth. Rumbold supported the establishment of a parliamentary committee of enquiry into the causes of the war in the Carnatic, and spoke repeatedly during the debates that followed. However, the committee did not call him to give evidence, and eventually passed a motion for his impeachment. He was alleged to have diverted a staggering £600,000 into his own pockets, and it was proved that he had been consistently remitting back to England sums three times as big as his salary. But Rumbold's defence was vigorous, no useful evidence to back the charges against him was forthcoming from India, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, it seems to have been widely believed that he had bribed Henry Dundas and Richard Rigby, the members in charge of the proceedings against him.
[Ref: 12622] £65.00