Fonds GB 0210 JOMALC - Sir John Malcolm Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Sir John Malcolm Papers


  • [c. 1824]-[c. 1829] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.058 cubic metres (4 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Sir John Malcolm, Indian administrator and diplomat, and biographer of Robert Clive (Clive of India), was born in Westerkirk, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, in 1769, to George and Margaret Malcolm (née Pasley). He entered the service of the East Indian Company in 1782. He undertook three tours of duties in India, from 1783 to 1812, from 1817 to 1821, and from 1827 to 1830. During his service with the East Indian Company he was involved in numerous military campaigns and eventually reached the rank of Major General. As a diplomat he was dispatched on a range of diplomatic missions in different parts of India and in Persia, before being appointed governor of Bombay in 1827. He married, in 1807, Charlotte Campbell, daughter of Colonel Alexander Campbell who later became commander-in-chief of the Madras army. He published a number of pamphlets and books on India and Persia as well as his biography of Clive of India. When Malcolm died in 1833, however, he had only written the first fifteen chapters of the biography; the remainder was completed by an anonymous acquaintance of his and the book was eventually published in 1836. The anonymous acquaintance was in fact William Erskine (1773-1852), the noted historian and orientalist who came to Bombay in 1804. He was commissioned by Malcolm's widow to complete Malcolm's biography of Clive.

Archival history

Sometime after Malcolm's biography of Clive was published in 1836, his transcripts and a draft of the biography were handed to the Powis family along with Clive's original papers, which Malcolm had borrowed. The transcripts and the draft biography remained with the Powis family until 1952. Whilst in the family's possession the transcripts became so inextricably confused with Clive's own papers that it was not until 1985 that the historian Huw Bowen realised that earlier researchers had used the transcripts in the mistaken belief that they were originals, despite the fact that the transcripts' watermarks are dated half a century after Clive's death. Malcolm's transcripts were separated from Clive's papers at NLW in 1999.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The papers were deposited, along with the papers of Robert Clive, by George William Herbert, seventh earl of Powis in 1952, and purchased by the Library from his son John George Herbert, eighth earl of Powis, in January 1996.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The archive consists almost entirely of Sir John Malcolm's transcript of some of Clive's papers held now at the National Library of Wales, [c. 1824]-[c. 1828], compiled for his biography of Clive, together with drafts of the biography, and an index and abstracts of some of Clive's correspondence. The fonds does not include any of Malcolm's personal and public papers, apart from a single file relating to his governorship of Bombay.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All of Sir John Malcolm's papers acquired by the Library have been retained..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into two groups: transcripts,drafts and abstracts, [c. 1824]-[c. 1828], and papers relating to Malcolm's governorship of Bombay, 1828.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, French

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Malcolm's papers are briefly listed in 'Schedule of Clive MSS and Papers (Second Series)', National Library of Wales, 1954. However, the dates given in the Schedule are the dates when the originals were written and not the dates when the transcripts were compiled. A hard copy of the current catalogue is available in NLW and at the India Office Library.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

A letterbook containing copies of letters, 1799-1801, from Malcolm to the Marquess of Wellesley, Governor-General of India, about his mission to Persia is NLW MS 4903E.

Related descriptions

Publication note

The transcripts served as the basis for Malcolm's The Life of Robert, Lord Clive; from the Family Papers Communicated by the Earl of Powis (London, 1836).

Notes area


Previously listed as part of the Clive MSS and Papers - see file level descriptions.


Title based on contents.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

June 2001.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Tudor Barnes.

Archivist's note

The following sources were used in the compilation of this list: Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 35 (1893), Kaye, Sir J.W.,The Life and Correspondence of...Sir John Malcolm, Bowen, Huw, 'The Clive Papers at the National Library of Wales - A cautionary note', The National Library of Wales Journal, Vol. XXIV, No. 2, Winter 1985; e-mail from John Malcolm, 8 Nov. 2004 and a note on the authorship of the biography of Clive by John Malcolm, now NLW ex 2345.

Accession area