Monday, 30 April 2018

Meston - the formation of a Civil Servant

In the 1980's James Meston (QC 1996), the 3rd Baron Meston, gave to the Archives of the Centre of South Asian Studies over 40 books belonging to his grandfather, James Scorgie Meston (12 June 1865 – 7 October 1943)
Sir James S. Meston (1st Baron Meston) was a Member of the I.C.S., posted to N.W. Provinces and Oudh, 1885; Financial Secretary, 1899-1903; Financial Secretary to Government of India 1906-12; Lieutenant-Governor, United Provinces 1912-18; Finance Member 1918-19; Chairman, Committee on Financial Adjustments between Provinces and Centre 1920.  November 1919 he became the Baron Meston of Agra and of Dunnottar, Kincardineshire and published Nationhood for India, 1931 held at Archive MES 22.

Tucked into the Indian Civil Service List for 1885 (Archive MES 38), with Meston’s pencil annotations,
Archive MES 38

is a pamphlet with the syllabus for the Civil Service of India examination held July 1885 for candidates selected in 1883,
Archive MES 38a
including Languages according to posting, Law, History and Geography of India, Political economy and Natural Science. There is also a note under the heading Riding : “Candidates who have failed at the First and Second Examinations to satisfy the Commissioners of their ability to ride will be allowed a third trial at the time of their Final Examination”.
In this final examination James Scorgie Meston came 8th out of 28 candidates having taken papers in Hindi, Hindustani, Sanskrit and Zoology and some of the set texts he studied form part of the donation, including The Sakuntala in Hindi edited by Frederic Pincott, London : Wm. Allen, 1876 (Archive MES 42), Hindi Reader edited by Fitzedward Hall, Hertford : Stephen Austin, 1870 ; for the Persian paper, John T. Platts' translation of The Gulistan or Rose Garden of Sa'di, London : Wm. H. Allen, 1876 (Archive MES 46); for the Hindustani (as a second vernacular Paper) Bagh o Bahar edited by Duncan Forbes, London : Wm H. Allen, 1873 (Archive MES 47) and for Paper 2 on Indian Law, the penal code printed in H.A.D. Phillips Manual of Indian criminal law. Calcutta : Thacker, Spink, 1883. (Archive MES 39).

In the course of his career, James, 1st Baron Meston received various presentation volumes including The History of the Taj by Md. Moin-Ud-Din, Agra : Moon Press, 1905 (Archive MES 30)

The growth of currency organisations in India by Alakh Dhari, Bombay Chronicle Press, 1915 (Archive MES 13)

Inscription reads
To The Hon'ble Sir James Meston
from the author
Feby 1915
and the autobiographies of Nawab Shah Jahan Begam and Nawab Sultan Janan Begam of Bhopal
Archive MES 11 and 25) 
Shah-Jahan Begum, ruler of Bhopal (1838-1901)
Raja Deen Dayal & Sons, photographer

A listing of the Meston donation can be found by going to iDiscover selecting Advanced Search, then South Asian Studies from the drop down Library menu, Classmark from the Field drop down menu, then entering Archive MES next to Contains.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Volunteer with the Royal Society for Asian Affairs (RSAA)

The Royal Society for Asian Affairs (RSAA) based in Euston, is looking for a volunteer to work over the summer with the Society’s large collection of lantern slides.  The slides have been catalogued, though a number remain unidentified.  The volunteer will transfer the slides from drawers into archive boxes, numbering each envelope according to the catalogue. 

The Hejaz Railway (broken bridge) north of Madina - from an image by H. St. John Philby, 1933

A bit of background: The RSAA was formed in 1901 and was known then as the Central Asian Society.   It attracted diplomats, politicians, explorers, geographers and military men, most of whom had worked or travelled in the Indian subcontinent, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, Tibet, China and Central Asia.  It was granted a Royal Charter in 1931 and became the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in 1973.  Its journal, Asian Affairs, has been published continuously since 1914.  Lectures  by  the Society’s members and other prominent figures have always played an important part and many, though not all, were printed in the journal.  Lantern slides were used to illustrate lectures and some of these were subsequently donated to the Society.  Further donations of slides were received from members and among the earliest are images of Bokhara and Samarkand in 1895 from Sir Michael O’Dwyer.  Subjects illustrated include the motor road to India, travels in Armenia, Mecca and Madina, and rural Siam in the 1920s.

Please contact Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, the RSAA archivist: