The Jadeja Dynasty


Nawanagar owes its status to Rawal, a descendant of the Jadeja Ruler of Cutch who murdered his sovereign and seized the throne. After reigning over Cutch for three years, he incurred the displeasure of Sultan Muhammad Bhegada. When the latter sent his forces to recover the state for his brother-in-law, Jam Rawal fled with a large army and retinue into Kathiawar. There, he seized the territories held by the Chavda, Deda, Jethwa and Wadhel clans and laid the foundations of a new capital. He also conquered and attempted to seize the state of Dhrol. However, he lost Cutch to the legitimate line in 1548. Thereafter the state remained at an almost continuous state of warfare.

At Jam Rawal's death, Vibhaji, his younger son, dispossessed the rightful heir and seized the throne. Vibhaji's son supported the Ghori Sultans against the Mughals. The Mughals defeated the Gujeratis at the battle of Bhubhamori, and captured Jamnagar in 1590. Jam Sataji established a new capital at Khambaliya. His successors attempted to throw off the Mughal yoke several times, but were soundly crushed several times during the seventeenth century. On the last occasion the catalyst was yet another succession dispute, the ultimate outcome being the loss of Jamnagar, renamed Islamnagar and annexed to the Imperial domains. Tamachi the rightful heir secured possession of the state with the help of the Viceroy of Gujarat, Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur in 1663. However, the recovery of the capital had to wait until the reign of the successor, Jam Raisinhji II.

The state fell to the influence of a former slave named Meru Khawas during the early years of Jam Lakhaji's reign. He seized the fort at Modhpur, becoming the virtual ruler. Despite his poor reputation, Meru expanded the city, surrounded it with an impregnable wall with ten magnificent gates and twenty-two towers. At his death, Jam Jasoji negotiated a land settlement with his sons and recovered power into his own hands.

The Walker treaty of 1807 brought peace to the Kathiawar states for the first time in several generations. Nawanagar came under British protection on 23rd February 1812.

Peace in the region enabled Jam Ranmalji to implement a wide number of reforms and development programmes. Relief measures to alleviate drought included the construction of several lakes and tanks. Building programmes and road construction helped to provide employment during famines. He died in 1852, leaving a legacy of popularity, honoured to this day.

Jam Shri Sir Vibhaji continued his father's good works, introducing public education and medical facilities for the first time, and introduced the railway. Despite these successes, he did not enjoy a happy family life. Although he married a large number of wives, he was not blessed with heirs. His eldest son had to be excluded when found to be plotting his father's murder in 1877. Not having another son, and not expecting to father another, he adopted a distant cousin. One of his wives then produced a son and heir. He then sent the unfortunate adopted son to England in an attempt to free him from court intrigues and machinations.

Jam Shri Vibhaji died in 1895 and Jaswantsinhji, his natural heir succeeded. The young prince married several wives but, history repeated itself and he failed to produce an heir. He died from typhus after a short reign in 1906, leaving the throne to his lately displaced adoptive brother.

The new Jam Ranjitsinhji had spent his days in school and at Cambridge excelling as a world class cricketer. Perhaps the best of his generation, this poor sighted 'prince of the Orient' had been the first in history to score 3,000 runs in a single season and two centuries on a single day. Immediately after his accession, he began the process of improving the administration and developing the economy of his state. He extended the railway, constructed a modern port and completely electrified the capital by the 1920's. He introduced free primary education in 1911 and extended it to the secondary level by 1917. Despite poor sight and indifferent, he offered his sword during the Great War, serving on the staff in France and Flanders. Later, he represented his country at the League of Nations in Geneva. At his death in 1933, he was serving as Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes. Mourned by a wide circle of friends and admirers throughout the world, he had never married and left his throne to one of his equally gifted nephews.

Jam Shri Sir Digvijaysinhji, along with his brothers, had been groomed by his august uncle for many years before his succession. The army and cricket served as the main family pre-occupations, and proved to be excellent nurseries for a ruler. Not only did the new prince continue the tradition of development, but also continued his uncle's example of wider public service. He served as Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, and in the Imperial War Cabinet and on the National Defence Council. He was a strong advocate of Indian independence and was one of the first princes to sign the instrument of accession. After the transfer of power he served as the first Rajpramukh of Kathiawar, then represented his country at the United Nations. Dying in 1966, he was succeeded by his only son, Jam Shri Sataji, a regular officer of the Indian Air Force.


Party per fesse dancette gules and argent three fish naiant (pointing dexter) in chief and an eastern gallion in base countercharged. Helmet: Or. Crest: An antelope’s head erased proper ensigned with a crescent. Supporters: Antelope gutty d’eau. Motto: ‘Sri Jamo Jayati’ (Hail to the Jam) or on a riband of sky-blue. Lambrequins: Gules and argent.

A rectangular red flag with an elephant, white, near and facing the hoist.

The ruling prince: Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Jam Shri (personal name) (father’s name) Jadeja, Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani Shri (personal name) Sahiba, Maharani Sahib of Nawanagar, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Yuvraj Shri (personal name) (father's name) Jadeja.
The consort of the Heir Apparent: Yuvarani (personal name) Sahiba.
The younger sons of the ruling prince: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Jadeja.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The brothers of the ruling prince: Maharaj Shri (personal name) (father's name) Jadeja.
The consort of a Maharaj or Maharajkumar: Rani Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The sons of a Maharaj: Rajkumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Jadeja.
The daughters of a Maharaj: Rajkumari Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.
The other male descendants of ruling princes, in the male line: Kumar Shri (personal name) (father's name).
The other female descendants of ruling princes, in the male line: Ba Shri (personal name) Sahiba.

The Ranjitsinhji Medal of Merit: instituted by Maharaja Jam Sahib Sir Ranjitsinhji in 1915 as the Nawanagar State Order of Merit as a reward for loyal, philanthropic, charitable, faithful and long service by state officials and subjects. Renamed and re-organized by Maharaja Jam Sahib Sir Digvijaysinhji in May 1936. Awarded in three classes (1. First Class in gold, 2. Second Class in silver, and 3. Third Class in copper).

The Nawanagar State Order of Merit - Second Class (Type I) (L) and Third Class (Type II) (R)

The Nawanagar State Certificate of Merit: instituted by Maharaja Jam Sahib Sir Ranjitsinhji as a reward for meritorious and long service by state officials, but whose status, rank or services did not warrant the award of the Order of Merit.

Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the recognised head of the family, on the failure of natural heirs.

Lewis Bentham Bowring. Bowring Collection. MSS. Eur. G.38, Oriental India Office Collection, British Library, London.
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Allen, Charles and Dwivedi, Sharada, Lives of the Indian Princes, Century Publishing Co. Ltd., London, 1984.
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency. Volume VIII. Kathiawar. Government of Bombay, Bombay, 1884.
Charles A. Kincaid, CVO. The Land of ‘Ranji’ and ‘Duleep’. William Blackwood & Sons Ltd., Edinburgh, 1931.
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.
Tony McClenaghan, Indian Princely Medals, Spantech & Lancer, South Godstone, Surrey, 1996.
Memoranda on The Indian States 1940 (Corrected up to the 1st January 1940). Manager of Publication, Government of India, Delhi, 1940.
The Rajkumar College Alumni Website. 2006
The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Western India States Agency, 1st edition. Rajkot, 1928.
The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Western India States Agency, 2nd Edition, Delhi, 1935. IOR V/27/70/71. Correction slips to 2nd Edition 1936-1946 IOR V/27/70/72. British Library, St Pancras, London.
Thacker's Indian Directory, Thacker’s Press & Directories, Ltd., Calcutta 1863-1956.
Who Was Who, Vol. I to Vol. VII, A&C Black, London, 1915 - 1980.
Capt. H. Wilberforce-Bell. The History of Kathiawad, from the earliest times. William Heinemann, London, 1916.

Deepak Aggarwal.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
CopyrightęChristopher Buyers
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CopyrightęChristopher Buyers, February 2002 - December 2017