Online Encyclopedia

GEORGE THOMAS (c. 1756-1802)

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 866 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GEORGE THOMAS (c. 1756-1802), British military adventurer in India. Thomas was born of poor parentage in Ireland in1756, deserted from the British Navy in Madras, and made his way north to Delhi, where he took service under the begum Samru of Sardhana. Supplanted in her favour by a Frenchman, he transferred his allegiance to Appa Rao, a Mahratta chieftain, and subsequently set up an independent kingdom of his own in Hariana with his capital at Hansi. Thomas was a man of great personal strength and daring, and considerable military genius. In the turmoil of falling kingdoms in the India of that day his sword was always at the service of the highest bidder; but he had the virtues of his profession—he never betrayed an employer, was kind and generous to his soldiers, and was always ready to succour a woman in distress. He cherished dreams of conquering the Punjab, and fought one of his best campaigns against the Sikh chiefs; but he was finally defeated and captured by Sindhia's army under General Perron (q.v.). His iron constitution was broken by exposure and excessive drinking, and he died on his way down the Ganges on the 22nd of August 1802. See Francklin, Military Memoirs of Mr George Thomas (18o3); Compton, Military Adventurers of Hindustan (1892).
End of Article: GEORGE THOMAS (c. 1756-1802)

Additional information and Comments

A detailed account of George Thomas can be found in a remarkable book titled "Swords for Hire" by Shelford Bidwell (1971). Three chapters are devoted to the exploits of this soldier-adventurer. The book is highly readable. No pictures of George Thomas are known to exist, but the book displays a likeness of him taken out of his tombstone. The book has chapters on other military adventurers of that era, such as Benoit de Boigne and Perron. As far as I know the book is out of print, but may be found in many libraries.
Another reference to this person is a book by Maurice Hennessy "The Rajah from Tipperary" a possible biography but contains many useful references, a worthwhile read that may add to the knowledge base.
(General)George Thomas was by no means "British" He was born in Ireland of Irish parents & grew up in Ireland, which makes him Irish! That fact that Ireland was a British colony at the time, & that he joined & subsequently deserted the British navy, does not make him British Also. Ireland (or none of its parts) is not now nor never has been a part of "Great Britain". G. Britain, both geographically & politically, consists of England, Wales & Scotland. The (enforced) "Act of Union" in 1801 between Britain & Ireland, created the political entity "The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland": Presently, the UK consists of "The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland" Kind regards Anthony Kiely
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