Archive / Papers / Biden Papers


Lent by Mrs. I.S. Hosegood

Microfilm No. 42

Commonplace-book made by Mrs. Harriott Biden, the wife of Captain Christopher Biden while he was employed as Master Attendant and Marine Storekeeper of Madras from 1839-58.

Mainly newspaper cuttings, 1855, about Captain Biden and Lord Dalhousie. The extracts are laudatory in regard to Biden, and also refer to his allowance as Emigration Officer of Madras. (p.l-8)

Copies of letters and statements about damage to a ship the Ferooze. (p.9-15)

Long confidential letter from Captain Fleetwood Pellew on the supposed mutiny on his ship Winchester, 8 April 1854. (p.16-20)

Letter to the editor of the Examiner about the Nightingale Fund, 22 July 1856. (p.24-26)

Copies of letters, February 1846, from Madras, about Biden’s proposed plan for defence of the Sutlej river during the Punjab war. 2 October 1848, Native Relief Fund. (p.31-35)

Statement of services of Christopher Biden, 12 April 1845. (p.36-38)

Letter from James Forbes, Cheshire, to the Woolwich Journal about his invention of the cylindrical ship’s lifeboat, August 1852. (p.39-41)

Letter about lifeboats. (p.42-47)

Letter to the Military Board about acquiring a sandy beach near Fort St. George for safer and more convenient landing (between Clive’s Battery and the Commissariat Granary), 17 June 1850. (p.48-52)

Extract from minutes of the Marine Board, 23 August 1856 acknowledging Biden’s suggestions for lighthouses on the Andamans etc. (p.54-55)

Extracts copied about causes of fire on ships and of descriptions of various disasters. (p.57-59)

Extract from a letter from the Hon. the Court of Directors about an application for a grant in aid of the Naval School at Madras, 9 August 1853. (p.60)

Poems. (p .61-62)

Extract from a pamphlet suggesting the erection of a suspension pier or jetty at Madras by Captain I.H. Taylor of the Trafalgar, no date. (p.65)

Various extracts for improvement and convenience of shipping in Madras, 1835 and 1839. (p.66-67)

Further correspondence about the Ferooze. (p.68-69)

Various naval engagements and matters described: mostly about engagements in the China Seas, 1804; other items of interest about Madras and naval affairs of varying dates, taken at random; one letter of congratulation about the erection of a light near the Armagon Shoal; other items of public interest; mutiny on the ship Moira, 26 June 1840. (p.69-95)

Letter from Biden to the Acting Secretary Military Board about improvement etc. of the Cooum River, 18 June 1851. (p .95-103)

Regulations of duties of Master Attendant. (p.104-7)

Police boats. (p.107-8)

Extracts from journal etc. (p.109-16)

Extract from the Asiatic Mirror about the massacre at Benares (by the Nabob of Oude, Vizier Ali). (p.117-19)

Letter about the boatmen and their families 10 July 1857. (p.120-22)

Letters about the post of Superintendent of Marine July 1857. (p.123-24)

Extract from Colburn’s United Service Magazine and Naval and Military Journal, about collisions at sea. (p.125-27)

Lists of ships lost at or near Madras between October 1842 and March 1853 owing to the insecurity of the anchorage etc. (p.127-30)

Letters (all September 1857) about various officers on the ship Flying Foam, especially Captain Thomas Hines and his conduct. (p.133-37)

The Fusiliers Fund and the Patriotic Fund organised by Biden. (p.140-46)

Biden’s letter about relief for the widows and children in Bangalore, 8 December 1857. (p.147)

Two pages later there are newspaper cuttings of obituary notices of Biden, ‘one of the kindest hearted men that the world contained’ and the Biden testimonial.

A photograph album kept by Mrs. Biden at Ellichpoor, Aurungabad and camp, in and around 1864 was lent by Mrs. I. Hosegood for a short time, but returned. It showed in a remarkably detailed way life in a small Indian station: the society, houses, amusements, clothing, servants etc., as well as drawing a nice distinction between the indigenous and English population.