Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 265 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BART SIR WILLIAM HAY MACNAGHTEN. (1793-1841), Anglo-Indian diplomatist, was the second son of Sir Francis Macnaghten, Bart., judge of the supreme courts of Madras and Calcutta. He was born in August 1793, and educated at Charter-house. He went out to Madras as a cadet in 1809, but was appointed in 1816 to the Bengal Civil Service. He early displayed a great talent for languages, and also published several treatises on Hindu and Mahommedan law. His political career began in 1830 as secretary to Lord William Bentinck; and in 1837 he became one of the most trusted advisers of the governor-general, Lord Auckland, with whose policy of supporting Shah Shuja against Dost Mahommed, the reigning amir of Kabul, Macnaghten was closely identified. As political agent at Kabul he came into conflict with the military authorities and subsequently with his subordinate Sir Alexander Burnes. Macnaghten attempted to placate the Afghan chiefs with heavy subsidies, but when the drain on the Indian exchequer became too great, and the allowances were reduced, this policy led to an outbreak. Burnes was murdered on the 2nd of November 1841; and owing to the incapacity of the aged General Elphinstone the British army in Kabul degenerated into a leaderless mob. Macnaghten tried to save the situation by negotiating with the Afghan chiefs and, independently of them, with Dost Mahommed's son, Akbar Khan, by whom he was assassinated on the 23rd of December 1841; the disastrous retreat from Kabul and the massacre of the British army in the Kurd Kabul pass followed. These events threw doubt on Macnaghten's capacity for dealing with the problems of Indian diplomacy, though his fearlessness and integrity were unquestioned. He had been created a baronet in 1840, and four months before his death was nominated to the governorship of Bombay. MAcNALLY, LEONARD (1752–1820), Irish informer, was born in Dublin, the son of a merchant. In 1776 he was called to the Irish, and in 1783 to the English bar. He supported himself for some time in London by writing plays and editing the Public Ledger. Returning to Dublin, he entered upon a systematic course of informing against the members of the revolutionary party, for whom his house had become the resort. He also betrayed to the government prosecutors political clients whom he defended eloquently in the courts. He made a fine defence for Robert Emmet and cheered him in his last hours, although before appearing in court he had sold, for 200, the contents of his brief to the lawyers for the Crown. After living a professed Protestant all his life, he received absolution on his deathbed from a Roman Catholic priest. He died on the 13th of February 1820.

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