The family descends from a branch of the Tajik Khel tribe of Afghans, who married into the Yusufzai clan and settled in the Swat valley for several generations. The founder of the family fortunes, 'Abdu'l Majid Khan, emigrated to Hindustan in search of fortune during the reign of Muhammad Shah. He entered the service of Nawab Zabita Khan, his Yusufzai kinsman and the then Vicegerent of the Empire, rising to become his confidant and adviser. 'Abdu'l Majid's sons followed their father in the service of the Najibabad family, and afterwards under their cousins, the Nawabs of Rampur.

Nawab 'Abdu'l Ghafur Khan, grandson of 'Abdu'l Majid Khan, became a cavalry commander under the Rohilla chief, Nawab Amir Khan of Tonk. He then married well by securing the hand of the sister of the wives of Emperor Bahadur Shah's and Amir Khan. This brought him prestige, high titles and rich territories. During the ascendancy of the Maratha's he transferred his services to them, subduing petty Rajput rulers and securing territory. Following the battle of Mehdipur, he received confirmation of all his land grants from the Maharaja Holkar of Indore. The HEIC erected these possessions into the state of Jaora under the terms of the treaty of Mandasor in 1817.

Nawab Ghaus Muhammad Khan succeeded his father, Nawab 'Abdu'l Ghafur Khan, at the tender age of two in 1825. As a minor, his state was placed under a regent and his education carefully supervised by the British. Unlike his younger brother, he wisely remained loyal to them during the Indian Mutiny, reaping his rewards in titles and land grants after their victory. Jaora reached its largest extent amounting to 700 square miles under his rule. His early death in 1865 ushered in another period of regency under his minor son, the ten year old Nawab Muhammad Ismail Khan. Although his guardians made great efforts to educate him along modern lines, they were not completely successful. Within a few years after reaching his majority and assuming full ruling powers, the state administration and finances declined drastically. He died at the age of forty-one, leaving a large family by a number of wives, lesser wives and concubines.

Nawab Iftikhar 'Ali Khan succeeded his father at the age of twelve in 1895, the only son of his principal wife. Yet again, Jaora experienced another period of regency and tutelage. This time, the British authorities removed the young Nawab for his education outside the state. He attended Daly College in Indore and completed a highly successful spell with the Imperial Cadet Corps at Dehra Dun. Although the early years of his reign were promising, indeed showed signs of him becoming a model ruler, by the late 1930's his reputation had greatly diminished. A skilled hunter, he devoted much of his time to pursuing the fox, also maintaining large and world-renowned kennels. Regrettably, he is one of those frequently caricatured by modern writers of the 'slap and tickle' genre. He died within a few months of partition, in December 1947, leaving a large family and confusion over the succession.

After much deliberation, the new government of India recognised Nawab Usman 'Ali Khan as his father's successor. He had been recognised and derecognised as the heir apparent, along with his brothers, by his vacillating father, depending on which particular wife or son pleased him least. Nawab Usman's succession to power was short lived, since Jaora merged with the Madhya Bharat Union four months later. He lived long enough to see the Government of India de-recognise the princes in 1971, then died without heirs and leaving his patrimony to his younger twin brother.

Nawab Murtaza 'Ali Khan succeeded his brother as head of the Jaora family in 1972, but also died without heirs in 1999. Since then, the leadership of the family and the claim to the titles remains unclear.


Vert three mullets argent pierced of the field in bend dexter within a bordure gobony argent and gules. Crest: Tiger's head erased argent. Supporters: Black buck. Motto: "Dil o Daulat" (Fortune favours the brave). Lambrequins: Vert and argent.

A very dark-green rectangle with a broad black saltire, overall in the centre, two swords, scales and a ribbon, with the crest above, all in yellow.

The ruling prince: (personal title prefix) ud-Daula, Nawab (personal name) Khan, Bahadur, (personal title prefix) Jang, Nawab of Jaora, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) Begum Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: (personal title), Nawabzada (personal name) Khan, Wali Ahad Bahadur.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: (personal title) Nawabzada (personal name) Khan Bahadur.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Nawabzadi (personal name) Begum Sahiba.
More distant male relatives of the ruling prince: Sahibzada (personal name) Khan.
More distant female relatives of the ruling prince: Sahibzadi (personal name) Begum.

None known.

Male primogeniture, amongst the Muslim descendants of Nawab Ghafur Muhammad Khan. Legitimate sons are preferred over those by junior wives or concubines, but may succeed in the absence of the former.

Central India Agency: Birth of Twin sons to H.H. the Nawab of Jaora. IOR/R/2/433/95, India Office Collection, The British Library, St Pancras, London.
Central India Agency: Jaora Affairs 1942. IOR/R/2/434/97, India Office Collection, The British Library, St Pancras, London.
Captain C.E. Luard, MA, IA (compiler). Western States (Malwa) Gazetteer, Volume V. The Central India State Gazetteer Series, Byculla, Bombay, 1908.
Major C. Eckford Luard, IA, MA (compiler). Chiefs and Leading Families in Central India. Government of India, Calcutta, 1916. India Office Collection, The British Library, St Pancras, London.
Report on the Administration of the Jaora State, with Appendices. Holkar Government Press, Indore, 1940-1945. India Office Collection, The British Library, St Pancras, London.
Rulers, Leading Families and Officials in the States of Central India, Fifth Edition. Manager of Publications, Delhi, 1935. India Office Collection, The British Library, London.
Sultan Muhammad Khan. Memories & Reflections of a Pakistani Diplomat. The London Centre for Pakistan Studies, London, 1997.

Sahibzada Sultan Riaz Khan.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Copyright©Christopher Buyers
Copyright©Christopher Buyers
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©Christopher Buyers

CopyrightChristopher Buyers, September 2004 - June 2014