Stephen Lushington

Governor of Madras and Canterbury MP

Stephen Rumbold Lushington (1776-1868) was both a local Member of Parliament and a Governor of Madras, occasionally at the same time. Through his time in India he amassed an important collection of South Indian arms and armour, as well as a large number of animal and bird skins.

Biography

Early years

Born at Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, Lushington was educated at Rugby School and the Linton Academy. He worked in Madras, India, from 1791-1803, first for the East India Company then the government. His speciality was Persian translation. During 1795-99 he was private secretary to Major-General George Harris, commander of the Madras army, and in 1797 married Harris’s eldest daughter, Anne. Harris led an attack on the forces of Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, in 1799, at which Seringapatam was captured and Tipu killed. It was probably through Harris that Lushington acquired some of his high-quality collection of Indian arms and armour.

MP and Governor of Madras

Stephen Rumbold Lushington

Harris bought Lushington an estate at Norton, near Faversham, in Harris’s home county of Kent. Lushington moved there in 1803. Four years later Harris bought him the parliamentary seat for Rye. In 1812 Lushington became Member of Parliament for Canterbury, holding the seat until 1830. He was appointed Governor of Madras in 1827 but returned to England at the end of his five-year term in 1832. Having lost his parliamentary seat in 1830 due to absence, he regained it in 1835, but retired when reform was introduced in 1837.

While Governor of Madras Lushington laid the foundation stone for St Stephen’s Church, on the Mysore road, and buildings there named after him include Lushington School.

Image: Stephen Rumbold Lushington, MP, 1835, Lithograph by M O’Connor (active as an artist 1830s).

Jane Austen’s opinion

Jane Austen met Lushington when he visited her niece, Fanny Knight, who lived at nearby Godmersham. He provided a frank for delivery of one of Austen’s letters.

“I like him very much. I am sure he is clever, and a man of taste. He got a volume of Milton last night, and spoke of it with warmth. He is quite an M.P., very smiling, with an exceeding good address and readiness of language. I am rather in love with him. I dare say he is ambitious and insincere. He puts me in mind of Mr Dundas. He has a wide smiling mouth, and very good teeth, and something of the same complexion and nose. He is a much shorter man…”

(Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, 15 October 1813)

“Mr Lushington sang. He has a lovely voice, and is quite delightful.”

(Note in pocket book of Fanny Knight)

One of Lushington’s eight children, Mary Ann, married James Wildman of Chilham Castle, who had formerly courted Fanny Knight.

References

Katherine Prior, ‘Lushington, Stephen Rumbold (1776-1868)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edition, January 2006

Annual Reports of the Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution 1827-1832, accessed online at www.archive.org

Jane Austen Letters, Brabourne Edition, online text at http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/brablets.html

Items on display

‘Firangi’ sword

18th century; South India

Steel

Indian long sword of the type known as a Firangi (from ‘Frank’, meaning ‘foreigner’) because such swords originally incorporated European or other foreign blades, or ones made locally in European style.

It has a basket-type hilt (sword-handle) with a hand-guard above the crossbar. The grip (hand-hold) ends in a pommel of round discs. A spike extends from the pommel, enabling the sword to be used two-handed, but also providing a second, close-combat weapon. Hilts like this with a spike are known as Khanda style. It is decorated with gold inlay and turquoises; there are also inscriptions in Persian and Hindi. From the 16th century onwards Mughal rule in India meant that Persian culture and crafts were adopted.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1464

Sabre with ‘Yatagan’-style blade

Sabre with

18th century; South India

Steel with brass hilt

This curved sword was used by Nair warriors from Travancore. It has a single-edged blade re-curving towards the end known as Yatagan-style. The hilt (handle) extensions onto the blade are decorated with lotus scrolls.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (12)

‘Yatagan’ sword within scabbard

18th century; South India

Steel, wood and silver

Yatagan short sabres are Ottoman Turkish in origin. They have a slightly re-curved blade and no guard on the hilt (handle).

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1510

‘Adya Katti’ knife

18th century; Coorg, South India

Steel and horn

This type of knife with heavy single-edged blade and no guard was used in Coorg, on the Western Ghat mountains, and Malabar, between the Western Ghats and Arabian Sea.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Tabar’ battle axe

Early 18th century; Madurai, South India

Steel

 

This weapon used mainly by horsemen is decorated with bird motifs. Two concealed knives emerge from the hammer head of the axe.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1270

‘Pata’ gauntlet sword

17th century; Tanjore or Mysore, South India

Steel and brass

The Pata, or gauntlet sword, was used by Maratha warriors during their long but eventually successful war against the Persian Mughal empire (1681-1707). Maratha warriors were trained to fight with two patas, one in each hand, or with a single pata in one hand and an axe or spear in the other. The snug-fitting steel gauntlet covers the fighter’s hand, wrist and part of their forearm. Inside the gauntlet is a metal crossbar, gripped by the fist. The sword becomes effectively an extension of the arm, for slash and thrust with a double-edged blade.

The steel arm-guard here is formed in the shape of an elephant being devoured by a Makara (demon). This ornate weapon may have been a royal sword.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

South Indian birds

South Indian birds, on display in the Stephen Lushington Collection at the Beaney Art Museum and Library

1830; Neelgherry Mountains, South India

 

 

At first glance these look like British birds: partridges, cuckoo, woodpecker, pigeon and dove, all familiar in our cities and countryside. But the birds come from southern India.

The Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution reported in 1830 the gift from ‘Stephen Lushington of many birds from a mountainous region in Madras at an elevation of between eight and nine thousand feet from the level of the Sea’. Many were very similar to birds found in Britain and showed that high altitude in a warm southern climate provides similar conditions to lower altitude in a cooler northern climate. Among the birds were the sparrow hawk, henharrier, hoopoe and woodcock.

The cases of birds in the museum of Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution were ‘so peculiarly attractive to visitors’, according to the Institution’s annual report, that ‘the Curators … felt themselves bound to increase the Collection of Birds by every means in their power.’

In this original case are seven woodpeckers, two Indian ring-necked parakeets, a plum-headed and a Malabar parakeet, two nightjars (birds that hunt at night, with pointed wings and long tails), a needle-tailed swift (the fastest bird in flapping flight), a hoopoe (with distinctive crown of feathers), three partridges, five cuckoos, four different plovers, various quail, a necklace dove and Indian green-winged dove, a black-winged stilt (long-legged wader), two pigeons, and various other birds.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1830, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999.173

Spears and sheaths

Spears and sheaths, on display in the Stephen Lushington Collection at the Beaney Art Museum and Library

18th century; South India

 

Gilded steel

 

These battle or ceremonial spears are made in two sections that screw together; one is displayed in two parts, unscrewed. The shafts are richly decorated and show elaborate workmanship; some of the gilding has worn away with use. The spearheads are also engraved with scrolling foliage and gilded.

Each spearhead has a velvet-covered wooden sheath, decorated with gilded mounts.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 4775, 4776

‘Kukri’ knives

18th-19th century; Nepal, South India

Steel

 

Short knives used by the Gurkhas of Nepal are called Kukri. They have an inward-curved cutting edge and are used as both weapons and tools, like a machete. One has a dog-head handle, the other a dragon-head.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Tabar’ battle axe

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

A weapons are for close combat, with crescent-shaped blade and pick.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1264

Mace

mace, on display in the Stephen Lushington collection at the Beaney Art Museum and Library

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

A weapon for close combat, with flanged head.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Firangi’ sword

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

Firangi means ‘foreigner’ and this type of sword originally incorporated European blades, or ones made locally in European style.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Tulwar’ sabre

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

Used by cavalry or similar mounted soldiers, with a single-edged blade. Sabres are often called scimitars, from their Persian name Shamshir. The pommel (handle end) is disc-shaped.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Tulwar’ sabre

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

Used by cavalry or similar mounted soldiers, with a single-edged blade. Sabres are often called scimitars, from their Persian name Shamshir. The pommel (handle end) is disc-shaped. This sabre has a Rajput basket-style hilt (sword-handles with knuckle guard).

The grooves on the blade (sometimes mistakenly called ‘blood grooves’) are known as fullers and help create a lighter blade whilst maintaining its strength.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Tulwar’ sabre

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

Used by cavalry or similar mounted soldiers, with a single-edged blade. Sabres are often called scimitars, from their Persian name Shamshir. The pommel (handle end) is disc-shaped.

The grooves on the blade (sometimes mistakenly called ‘blood grooves’) are known as fullers and help create a lighter blade whilst maintaining its strength.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Tulwar’ sabre

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

Used by cavalry or similar mounted soldiers, with a single-edged blade. Sabres are often called scimitars, from their Persian name Shamshir. The pommel (handle end) is disc-shaped. This sabre has a Rajput basket-style hilt (sword-handles with knuckle guard) and a Khanda style with spike on the pommel.

The grooves on the blade (sometimes mistakenly called ‘blood grooves’) are known as fullers and help create a lighter blade whilst maintaining its strength.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Dhal’ shield

19th century; South India

 

Steel

 

This shield was made for the European souvenir market. It is styled on the fighting shield, known as a dhal, but with rich inlaid decoration of foliage patterns.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Temple’ sword

18th century; Malabar, South Indian

Steel

 

Angled swords like this are known as Temple Swords and are associated with the Nair people of Malabar. They were used for religious and domestic ceremonies.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Dhal’ shield from rhino hide

18th century; probably Rajasthan, South India

Rhino hide, metal and wood

Rajasthan was the centre for manufacture and decoration of the traditional Indian round dhal fighting shields, with shallow domed shape and four metal bosses (round knobs) on the front corresponding to handle fixings inside. Dhal varied in size and could be made of metal or animal hide.

Rhino hide was popular because it is translucent: a shield similar to the one here is displayed in the Materials and Masters gallery to show how light passes through the hide.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Stephen Rumbold Lushington, M.P.

Stephen Rumbold Lushington

1835

M. O’Connor (active as an artist 1830s)

Lithograph

Twenty years before this original of this engraved portrait was painted, the writer Jane Austen described meeting Lushington at Godmersham, near Canterbury, while visiting her niece, Fanny Knight: “I like him very much,” she wrote to her sister, Cassandra (October 1813). “I am sure he is clever, and a man of taste. He got a volume of Milton last night, and spoke of it with warmth. He is quite an M.P., very smiling, with an exceeding good address and readiness of language. I am rather in love with him. I dare say he is ambitious and insincere. ... He has a wide smiling mouth, and very good teeth.”

Fanny Knight noted in her pocket book: “Mr Lushington sang. He has a lovely voice, and is quite delightful.”

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 2002.237

South Indian birds

South Indian birds, on display in the Stephen Lushington collection at the beaney art museum and library

1830; South India

 

 

 

The Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution reported in 1830 the ‘valuable presentations made by His Excellency the present Governor of Madras,’ Stephen Lushington, ‘which comprise specimens of several of the noble Mammalia of that Country, as the Bengal Tiger…, Leopard…, Panther…, Ounce…, Elk… &c, &c.; also a magnificent Skull of a large domesticated Elephant with tusks; as well as upwards of 150 species of the feathered race, some of which as the Vulture, Hornbill, Roller, Barbet, Nuthatch, and Ibis, have enabled the Curators to fill up Genera which were before wholly wanting in the [museum] cases.’

The largest of the birds in this original ‘Phil. and Lit.’ museum case is the giant hornbill. It can eat seeds as large as avocado stones but is omnivorous, like the three other hornbills, eating small animals as well as fruit.

The rest of the birds in this case are waders or shallow-water feeders, living where there is plentiful food along shorelines or on lakes. The ibis, to the right of the giant hornbill, is a wader with a long down-curved bill, which it prods in the mud to find shellfish. In ancient Egypt the African ibis was sacred and associated with the moon god Thoth. It can be found on several artefacts in the Ancient Egypt showcase to the right of this case.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1830, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1999. 172

Mace

mace, on display in the Stephen Lushington collection at the Beaney Art Museum and Library

17th century; South India

Steel

 

 

This mace is for close combat. The bottom part of it is hollow and conceals a second weapon: the shaft unscrews and becomes the grip of a slim, sharply pointed double-edged knife. The warrior using the mace thereby has a weapon for each hand.

At the top of the mace-head is a covered opening with a model cobra mounted on a spring. Removal of the cover releases the spring and the cobra pops up. It may have been intended as a decorative hook for hanging the mace.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1267

Short ‘Firangi’ sword

Short

18th century; South India

 

Steel

 

Firangi means ‘foreigner’ and this type of sword originally incorporated European blades, or ones made locally in European style. It has a typical South Indian disc-shaped pommel (handle end).

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (10)

Blunt-ended sword

Blunt-ended sword, on display in the Stephen Lushington collection at the Beaney Art Museum and Library

18th century; South India

 

Steel

 

This double-edged sword was used for cutting. The hilt (sword handle) has a bell-shaped pommel (end) and little protection for the knuckle.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

Mace

mace, on display in the Stephen Lushington collection at the Beaney

17th-18th century; Mysore, South India

Steel with silver and gold inlay

A royal symbol of power with ‘chocolate orange’-style head, this mace may have been made for Khrshnaraja Wodeyar I (1714–1732) or an earlier ruler of Mysore. The metal craftsmanship of the shaft is outstanding, with fine decoration of foliage and flowers in gold and silver koftgari inlay. The koftgari technique begins by incising or hatching pattern into the metal surface, then pressing gold or silver wire into the pattern.

The bottom section of the shaft unscrews to become the grip of a slim, sharply pointed double-edged knife concealed in the hollow shaft of the mace.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1266

‘Katar’ dagger

18th century; South India

 

Steel

 

A Hindu punch or thrust dagger for close combat, with characteristic ‘H’-shaped hand-grip and double-edged ‘knuckleduster’ blade. These were often made from broken sword blades.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference 1490

‘Pesh-Kabz’ knife

18th-19th century; South India

Steel

 

A dagger with a re-curving blade of very finely forged steel, designed to penetrate chain mail and other armour. This type was introduced to India by the Persian Mughals and is also called an Afghan or Khyber knife.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)

‘Dastana’ arm guard with pistols

Early 19th century; Madras, South India

Steel

An arm guard fitted with English-style box-lock flintlock pistols and a triangular-shaped ‘flick’ bayonet. This gauntlet would probably have been a back-up weapon to a sword, or pata gauntlet sword, in the warrior’s other hand. However, whether it was a combat weapon is uncertain. Pistols were occasionally combined with swords in Indian arms. But this unusual piece is more likely a novelty weapon made for European visitors.

The arm guard is displayed to show the hinged underside, which fitted snugly round the forearm.

Presented by Stephen Lushington to Canterbury Philosophical and Literary Institution Museum, 1825-68, and acquired through purchase of the Museum by Canterbury Corporation, 1846-47

Canterbury Museums and Galleries reference (nn)