Henry Creighton (1764 - 1807) was the Superintendent of an indigo factory at Gaur and he pioneered the research on the antiquarian remains of the medieval city of Gaur. He was born the son of Henry Creighton (Sr.), a native of Scotland settled in Sunderland and Jane. He was christened on 25 December 1764 at Sunderland, Durham, England. In the year 1783 at the age of nineteen he entered as a mercantile assistant into the service of Charles Grant (1746-1823) (Stephen and Lee 1993: 378-80), who at that time was holding the important office of Commercial Resident at the East India Company's factory at Malda for providing silk and cotton piece goods.
The position of Mr Grant at Malda was very lucrative and he soon acquired a large fortune which included a manufactory of indigo at a place called Guamalati, situated right among the ruins of Gaur. In 1786, Mr Grant appointed Creighton as the Manager of the Guamalati indigo factory and when, in 1790, family reasons compelled Mr Grant to return to England Creighton was left to superintend it. Creighton remained at Guamalati and substantially increased the business by establishing several dependencies of indigo manufactory until his premature death in 1807. Creighton was an aggressive businessman. He was reprehended by the Collector of Dinajpur, George Hatch, for forcing the local Zamindar to supply him with boats for the indigo harvest.
Exploration of Gour
He was an excellent amateur painter and to find subjects for his paintings he frequented the ruins of Gaur at his leisure hour. Gradually, from his off-time pastime he developed a serious interest on these ruins and antiquities. Gradually, he developed a large portfolio of drawings of the ruins of Gaur and its vicinity. In 1801, he completed the first scientific survey of the city of Gaur and prepared a detailed map of its ruins. He presented a copy of his survey map on a reduced scale to Marquees of Wellesley, the then Governor-General of Bengal (1798-1805).
Creighton shared the Evangelical Christian belief and zeal of his employer Charles Grant. In his residency at Guamalati and its dependencies he established several Bengali free schools for instructing the poor native children. It was in his residency at Guamalati, John Thomas, the first Baptist Missionary to Bengal, started preaching in Bengali in the year 1788. He also drew up a scheme for extending such Christian nurseries all over the country for missionaries to implement (Smith 1885: 149).
Death & Legacy
Creighton died on 2 October 1807, in the forty-fourth year of his age at Berhampore, where he went either for some work or for medical treatment, and lies buried in Berhampore cemetery at Babulbona. He was survived by seven children and his wife Frances (Frances Slupart) whom he married in 1792 at the St. John's Anglican Church, Calcutta. In the epitaph (now lost) of his grave in the Berhampore cemetery he is remembered as (Wilson 1896: 181):
'... the first instructor of native schools for instructing the children of the poor in their own languages as a means of diffusing among them useful tracts, and thereby an extensive district was comparatively enlightened and civilized and prepared for advancement to higher degrees of moral instruction and European improvement... .'
A year after his death, in 1808, six of Creighton's drawings were engraved and published by James Moffat in Calcutta. Still nine year later, in 1817, the result of his exertions at Gaur was finally published in the form of a book entitled "The Ruins of Gour: Described and Represented in Eighteen Views with a Topographical Map" compiled from his manuscripts and drawings in the hope of providing some support for his family.
Stephen, Sir Leslie and Sir Sidney Lee (eds) (1993). Dictionary of National Biography 7: 378-80. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Parish register transcripts of Sunderland and various other parishes in Durham and Northumberland, 1719-1787. Microfiche No. 0091114. International Genealogical Index TM V4.01. British Isles.
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Bengal District Records: Dinajpur I, Bengal Secretariat Press, Calcutta, 1914, p. 309ff; Blair B. Kling, The Blue Mutiny. The Indigo Disturbances in Bengal 1859-1862, Firma KLM, Calcutta, 1977, p. 49.
Wilson, C. R. (1896). List of Inscriptions on Tombs or Monuments in Bengal. Possessing Historical or Archaeological Interest 695: 181. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press.
Smith, George (1885). The Life of William Carey D.D. Shoemaker and Missionary, p. 149. London: John Murray.
The Asia Pacific & Africa (formerly referred to as Oriental and India Office) Collections, The British Library, London, Biographical index, Microfilm N/1/4/ 137.