Grant, Sir John Peter

Grant, Sir John Peter (1807-1893) a civilian and lieutenant governor of Bengal (1859 to 1862). Several of the Peters including the senior, Sir John Peter Grant (1774-1848) had previously been in Bengal as civilians, merchants and lawyers. His father served as a Puisne Judge (junior judge) at the Calcutta Supreme Court from October 1833 to February 1848. Educated at Eton and Edinburgh University, Peter Grant joined the company civil service in 1828 and served for nearly 31 years as a civilian in many capacities before his appointment to the Lieutenant Governorship of Bengal on 1 May 1859. Immediately before this appointment, he was Secretary to Government of India (1852-54) and Member of the Governor General's Council (1854-59).

In the government files, it is recorded about him that 'his varied abilities, tact and judgment, combined with his unbiased opinions on all grave questions and his kind feeling for the people marked him as a man suited to the occasion'. As the Lt Governor of Bengal, JP Grant's greatest achievement, which made him a popular figure among the peasantry, was his policy towards the indigo planters. He took side with the oppressed indigo growers and advised the magistrates to protect their rights. The Anglo-Indian indigo interests complained that the indigo disturbances of 1859-60 were the direct result of JP Grant's circulars for curbing the excesses of the planters. According to the indigo commission Report of 1860, the indigo raiyats could feel confident from Grant's administrative policy that any resistance to the coercive activities of the indigo planters would not be construed as a challenge to government. Grant's direct and positive support to the raiyats had made him extremely unpopular with the Anglo-Indian community of Calcutta. It was under their pressure, particularly the invectives of the Indigo Planter's Association, that JP Grant is said to have been asked to resign before the normal expiry of his term. He retired on 23 April 1862.

Besides indigo uprising, Sir JP Grant's administration was characterized by expansion in primary education including establishment of many vernacular schools, measures for suppression of gang-robbery, growth of commercial agriculture including tea and cinchona, suppression of the Khasia rebellions and the rising of the Chittagong hill tribes and, extension of the system of sub-divisions, police reform, launching of Bengal Legislative Council and so on. After retiring from Bengal civil service, Peter served as Governor of Jamaica from 1866 to 1872. Sir John Peter died on 6 January 1893 at the age of 85. [Sirajul Islam]