(Dar ul-Insha)

The Rohilla (or Barech) Dynasty


The state of Rampur was founded by Nawab 'Ali Muhammad Khan, the adopted son and successor of Sardar Daud Khan, chief of the Rohillas in Northern India. He received the territory known as Kather from Emperor Muhammad Shah in 1737, but then lost virtually everything in a contest with the Nawab Wazir of Oudh in 1746. Two years later, he assisted Ahmad Shah Durrani in his invasion of India and thus recovered all his former possessions in reward. At his death, he divided his territories equally amongst his many sons. Faizu'llah Khan, the second son, receiving those around Rampur and Chachait. He was confirmed in his possessions by a treaty with Oudh, which was guaranteed by the HEIC, 7th October 1774. Thereafter, the Rohilla chiefs and their troublesome followers were encouraged to settle peaceably within the borders of the new state.

Despite the fearsome warlike history of his clan, Nawab Faizu'llah Khan, was a remarkably gifted and far-sighted ruler. Conversant in a number of languages, he laid the foundations of one of the most prestigious libraries in Asia. Now known as the Rampur Raza Library, it contains more than 15,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Turkish, many of them priceless and ancient. Amongst its treasures, a Koran written before 661 by the fourth Caliph, 'Ali bin Abu Talib.

Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan succeeded his father in 1793, but was deposed by his nobles within twenty-four days. His younger brother and successor, Ghulam Muhammad, proved tyrannical and a danger to his subjects and neighbours alike. This coupled with a fear of resurgent Rohilla aggression, prompted intervention by a combined force belonging to the Nawab Wazir of Oudh and the HEIC. Nawab Ghulam Muhammad Khan was deposed in favour of his nephew, Nawab Ahmad Ali Khan. The latter ruled for forty-four prosperous years, greatly enhancing the cultural and artistic environment of his realm. He became tributary to the HEIC when the whole of Rohilkand was transferred to the company in 1801.

Nawab Muhammad Said, younger son of Ghulam Muhammad, succeeded his cousin in 1840, but was clearly cut from a different cloth than his father. Benevolent and progressive, he established courts of law and an advanced legal framework, formed a modern army out of feudal levies, built irrigation works and developed several projects aimed at increasing the economic welfare of his people. 

Nawab Muhammad Yusuf 'Ali Khan, son and successor of Muhammad Said, inherited a near model state and did much to enhance his father's example. He assisted the British authorities during the Mutiny in 1857, receiving many honours and lands for his efforts. Nevertheless, he did much to preserve the Mughal heritage of the country by inviting and sponsoring court scholars, musicians and artists to settle in Rampur, after the dissolution of the Imperial court in 1858. Amongst these many beneficiaries, the renowned poet and chronicler, Ghalib.

Nawab Kalb-i-Ali Khan was highly literate in Arabic and Persian, and consequence expanded the famous library several times over, patronising scholars from all-over India and the Muslim world. He did much to improve education and was responsible for constructing the famous mosque, the Jama Masjid, at a cost of Rs. 3 Lakhs. His son, Nawab Mustaq Ali Khan, continued many of his good works, but concentrated especially on architectural and irrigation works.

Nawab Hamid Ali Khan, succeeded his father aged fourteen in 1889 and reigned for forty-one years.  A benevolent and modern ruler, like his predecessors, he vastly expanded the number of schools and educational institutions within his state and also donated very generously to colleges of higher learning in other parts of India. Aligarh Muslim University and Lucknow Medical College are amongst two of the many institutions which owe their existence to his generosity. His army saw service in several theatres of war, including Afghanistan, the Middle East and East Africa.

Nawab Raza Ali Khan, who became Nawab in 1930, inherited his father's energetic and modern-thinking Dewan, Colonel Zaidi. Together, they expanded industrialisation at breathtaking speed. Within ten years of the Nawab's succession, the canal system was vastly expanded, electrification projects completed, roads, sanitation systems and schools constructed, and factories and industrial concerns had sprung up everywhere. Though a Muslim ruler, with a majority of Muslim subjects, the Nawab greatly expanded the employment of Hindu's in state service, and half his Council of Ministers were Hindus. Like his father, he volunteered the services of his forces on the outbreak of the Second World War and soldiers from his state  served with distinction in the Middle East, in Africa and South East Asia.

Rampur acceded to the Dominion of India in 1947, and merged with the United Provinces in 1950. Thereafter, the Nawab devoted himself to his many educational, cultural and charitable activities. Foremost among these, his place as the Muslim head of the Masonic organisation in a secular state, overwhelmingly composed of devout Hindus. At his death he had left instructions for his burial at Karbala in Iraq, a feat that was only accomplished after two years of intense negotiations between the Indian government and the secular and hostile Ba'athist regime.

Nawab Raza Ali Khan's descendants continue to engage in public affairs within modern, democratic India. Both his sons served as members of parliament, either at the union level in Delhi or in the state legislature. His daughter-in-law, likewise served as a popular and indefatigable representative of the people in the Indian Parliament. Similarly, his grandson and the current head of the Rampur family, Nawab Syed Muhammad Kazim 'Ali Khan, has served as a Cabinet Minister in the state government.


Vert, within an orle two sabres with points upward or. Crest: A mailed arm embowed proper holding in bend sinister a pennon or. Supporters: Stags proper. Motto: "Allah Muhammad" vert on a riband or. Lambrequins: Vert and or.

A swallow-tailed flag with a gold vertical band at the hoist, and a white fly.

The ruling prince: 'Ali Jah, Farzand-i-Dilpazir-i-Daulat-i-Inglishia, Mukhlis ud-Daula, Nasir ul-Mulk, Amir ul-Umara, Syed* (personal name) Khan Bahadur, Mustaid Jang, Nawab of Rampur, with the style of His Highness.
The principal consort of the ruling prince: Nawab (personal name) (personal title) uz-Zamani Begum Sahiba, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Nawabzada Syed* (personal name) Khan, Wali Ahad Bahadur.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Nawabzada Syed* (personal name) Khan.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Kaniz-i-(personal title) Nawabzadi (personal name) Begum Sahiba.

*The Rampur family attest that Nawab 'Ali Muhammad Khan came from a sayyidi family in the Jansath district of UP, and consequently adopted the title of Syed during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Nishan-i-Iqbal (the Decoration of Good Fortune): instituted by Nawab Hamid ‘Ali Khan Bahadur ca. 1927 as a general reward of merit. Conferred on members of the Rumpur ruling family, state civil and military officials and deserving individuals who had performed useful services to the state and person of the Nawab. Awarded in three classes (1. First Class - breast star, sash and sash badge - limited to ruling princes and senior members of the Rampur royal family. 2. Second Class - breast star and neck badge. 3. Third Class - neck badge)..

Nishan-i-Iqbal, First Class - breast star (L) and sash badge (R).

Nishan-i-Hamidiya (the Hamidiya Decoration): instituted by Nawab Hamid ‘Ali Khan Bahadur in 1894. Awarded in three classes (1. First Class - a miniature portrait of the Nawab Hamid ‘Ali Khan Bahadur set in gold, wearing national dress, a pearl necklace and headgear; surrounded by a gold border of stylised lilies alternating in diamonds and gold, topped by a crown with a large diamond, and inscribed on its base with the word "Rampur". The whole suspended from a 40mm pendant of gold, diamonds, and coloured enamel work 2. Second Class - in gold. 3. Third Class - in silver.).

Legitimate male primogeniture.

Administration Reports Rampur State 1868-1944. IOR (V/10/1846), Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Lewis Bentham Bowring, Bowring Collection. MSS. Eur. G.38, Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Charles Allen and Sharada Dwivedi, Lives of the Indian Princes. Century Publishing, London, 1984.
Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. Burke's Peerage Ltd, London, 1900-1959.
Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage. Odhams Press Ltd, London, 1900-1959.
Gazetteer of the Rampur State. Supt. Government Press, United Provinces, Allahabad, 1911.
Jahanara Habibullah, Remembrance of Days Past: Glimpses of a Princely State during the Raj. Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2001.
W.H.L. Impey (ed.). Manual of Titles, North-Western Provinces. North-Western Provinces and Oudh Government Press, Allahabad, 1889.
Waman P. Kabadi (ed.), Indian Who's Who 1937-38,Yeshanand & Co., Bombay, 1937.
Sir Roper Lethbridge, KCIE. The Golden Book of India. Macmillan and Co., London, 1893.
J.S. Mackintosh (ed.). Manual of Titles, North-Western Provinces. North-Western Provinces and Oudh Government Press, Allahabad, 1877.
Hafeez Malik & Morris Dembo (transl.). Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan's History of the Bijnor Rebellion. Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University, East Lancing, 1971.
Manual of Titles, United Provinces of Agra & Oudh. The Superintendent, Printing and Stationery, United Provinces, Allahabad, 1932.
Who Was Who, Vol. I to Vol. VII, A&C Black, London, 1915 - 1980.
Who's Who in India 1911.
Who's Who in India, Burma & Ceylon, Who's Who Publishers (India) Ltd., Bombay, 1940.


Sahibzada Kazim Ali Khan.
Syed Hasan 'Ali Khan.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
Michael Rushby.
Saman Vashisth


I would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have changes, corrections or additions to contribute. If you do, please be kind enough to send me an e-mail using the contact details at: Copyright© Christopher Buyers


Copyright©Christopher Buyers, March 2004 - Januar 2020