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Tennant family papers

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 357

Scope and Contents

Papers relating to Brigadier-General Sir James Tennnat and his son Lieutenant-General James Francis Tennant


  • Creation: 1805 - 1916

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Sir James Tennant was born at Ayr on 21 April 1789 and entered the Bengal Artillery as a cadet in 1804. He was promoted lieutenant in 1806 and arrived in India in August of that year. He saw active service in local campaigns, in the Maratha War (1817-19) and at the siege of Bharatpur (1825-26). He rose to the rank of brigadier-general and commanded the Artillery at the battles of Chilianwala and Gujerat in 1849. From 1849 until his death at Mian Mir on 6 March 1854 he commanded the troops at Lahore.

Sir James’s eldest son, James Francis Tennant (1829-1915), was born at Calcutta, and passed out of the East India Company’s Addiscombe College in 1847. In 1849 he joined the Bengal Engineers as a second lieutenant. He was attached to the Trigonometrical Survey until the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, when he served with the Royal Engineers, distinguishing himself at the siege of Lucknow. Tennant was then employed by the Public Works Departments of Burma, Bengal and Madras. In 1876, he was appointed Master of Her Majesty’s Mint, Calcutta, a post he held until his retirement to England in 1882 with the rank of lieutenant-general. Tennant had a keen interest in astronomy and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1855. He observed the Solar Eclipses of 1868 and 1871, and the Transit of Venus in 1874. Tennant was elected to the society’s council in 1885 and served as president in 1890 and 1891.


1 archive box(es) (1 box) : paper

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Sir James Tennant's great grandson, Kenneth Martin Leake, in 2008.

Related Materials

For portraits of Sir James Tennant see Y3022LL. For a panorama of Simla painted by his wife, Lady Elizabeth Tennant, see RCMS 86.


For detailed biographical notices of Sir James Tennant see: Hodson, V.C.P. (1927-1947), ‘List of the officers of the Bengal army, 1758-1834’, London: Phillimore, vol.4, p.247; De Rhé-Philipe, George William (1912), ‘Inscriptions on Christian tombs or monuments in the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Kashmir and Afghanistan possessing historical or archaeological interest’, Lahore: Punjab Government Press, part 2, pp.339-40.

Includes index.
2011-07-05 09:34:39+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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