The history of the state of Khairpur is bound up with the history of the Talpur clan and its rule over Sind. The origins of the state date back to the disputes over the succession to the leadership of the clan, following the murder of its chief, Mir Bahram Khan in 1775. The clan then revolted against the Kalhoras of Sind, taking control of various parts of the kingdom and eventually replacing them as rulers.
Mir Sohrab Khan Talpur established his control over Upper Sind by 1783, established his capital at Burahan, which he renamed Khairpur in 1786. He extended his territories over a vast area, eventually helping his kinsmen from Hyderabad, in expelling the Afghans from the province by 1823. As early as 1811, he had divided his territories into three emirates, each ruled by one of his sons, but with his eldest invested as principal Amir. To them he left the day to day affairs of administration and retired to the Fort of Ahmadabad, in Diji. There, he took a new wife and raised a family, to whom he intended to bequeath a portion of his realm. This incurred the jealousy of his adult grandsons, especially those of his second son, Mubarak 'Ali.
The death of Sohrab in 1830, left his eldest son Mir Rustam 'Ali Khan, in full though precarious control over Upper Sind. His position had been little more than that of a regent during his father's lifetime, and this was to remain unchanged until his youngest half brother, 'Ali Murad, came of age. Unwilling to surrender power to him, Rustam sought to strengthen his position by entering into treaty relations with the British in 1832. He secured their recognition as independent ruler, but surrendered control over external relations to them in April 1838, followed by full British protection later that year. Nevertheless, this did not save him from internal family disputes, with which the British initially refused to treat or take sides. However, the contest between 'Ali Murad, the youngest brother and the sons of Mir Mubarak 'Ali, culminated in victory for the latter. Peace was finally established in 1842 through a negotiated settlement, resulting in Rustam abdicating in favour of his youngest brother.
Mir 'Ali Murad was a forceful personality, who mistrusted the British for siding with his eldest half-brother in 1832. Nevertheless, he imbued himself with a sense of realism and attempted to co-operate whenever his interests or inclinations did not supervene. He honoured the alliance by assisting the HEIC during the Turki Campaign in 1847, but blotted his copybook by intriguing against them in 1851-1852. Accused of deception and fraud, he was stripped of most of his territories in Upper Sind in 1852, being left with little more than his original emirate including Khairpur and surrounding lands. Despite this setback, he co-operated faithfully during the Indian Mutiny five years later. At his death in 1894, after a long reign of fifty-two years, he was an honoured and respected ruler of the empire.
The eldest son of 'Ali Murad having predeceased him, he was succeeded by his second son, Mir Faiz Muhammad Khan. His reign and those of his son and grandson were relatively short and uneventful. The last died in 1935 leaving an only son, Mir Faiz Muhammad Khan II, who had suffered from an unstable and nervous affliction for many years. So much so that he could not be trusted with the management of state affairs. The government instituted a council of regency under local ministers and ordered the Mir to live outside the state. After a period of twelve-years, and shortly before the transfer of power, he abdicated in favour of his minor son in July 1947. The state acceded to the Dominion of Pakistan in October that year, and merged into West Punjab in 1955. The young Mir having reached his majority and received full ruling powers, just four years earlier. The state had been the first place on the sub-continent to introduce full adult suffrage. His subjects enjoyed free education up to matriculation standard and free healthcare, there were no customs duties, property, income or wealth taxes, the crime rate negligible, and light industries flourished.
Mir 'Ali Murad Khan II remains one of the few surviving first class rulers of the old Indian Empire, still holding a public Majlis every Muharram at his sprawling palace, Faiz Mahal. He has long taken a keen interest in animal welfare and conservation, having established one of the largest private wildlife sanctuaries on the sub-continent. His younger son, Prince Mehdi Raza Khan, continues his father's passion and oversees his conservation interests since retirement.
ARMS: Sable a fesse wavy between three falcons rising argent. Crest: A date palm proper. Supporters: Hogdeer proper. Motto: "Mubarak Bashad" (May it flourish). Lambrequins: Sable and argent.
STYLES & TITLES:
The ruling prince: Mir (personal name) Khan Talpur, Mir of Khaipur, with the style of His Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Sahibzada Mir (personal name) Khan Talpur, Wali Ahad.
The younger sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of the ruling prince, in the male-line: Sahibzada Mir (personal name) Khan Talpur.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Sahibzadi
The eldest son of a great-grandson of a ruling prince, and his principal heir, descended in the male line: Sahibzada Mir (personal name) Khan Talpur.
Other descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Mir (personal name) Khan Talpur.
Other female descendants of ruling princes, in the male line: Sahibzadi (personal name).
A.W. Hughes. A Gazetteer of the Province of Sind. Second edition. George Bell and Sons, London, 1876.
Khairpur State Administration Reports. 1876-1879, 1881-1885, 1893-1898, 1911-1922, 1924-1934. 1936-1939, 1940-1941. IOR/V/10 Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
List of Ruling Princes and Chiefs in Political Relations with the Government of Bombay and their Leading Officials, Nobles and Personages. Government of India Central Publication Branch, Calcutta, 1931.
Dr Herbert Tower Sorley. The Former Province of Sind, including Khairpur State. Karachi, 1968.
A. Vadivelu, The Ruling Chiefs, Nobles & Zamindars of India. G.C. Loganadham Bros., Madras, 1915.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
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