Sir James Fergusson, Governor of Bombay


This portrait of Sir James Fergusson (1832–1907), governor of Bombay, is from an album of rare historical photographs depicting people and places associated with the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Fergusson briefly served as undersecretary of state for India in 1866–67, but otherwise his career in British India began late in life. His direct involvement in the war was brief. He was appointed as the governor of the Bombay Presidency in 1880. In this position, Fergusson was able to exercise as much power within Bombay as the viceroy wielded in the rest of the British Raj. He was respected by upper-class Bombay residents for his deliberate policy of appointing Indians to positions of increasing responsibility in the presidency, especially in administrative and educational affairs. The Second Anglo-Afghan War began in November 1878 when Great Britain, fearful of what it saw as growing Russian influence in Afghanistan, invaded the country from British India. The first phase of the war ended in May 1879 with the Treaty of Gandamak, which permitted the Afghans to maintain internal sovereignty but forced them to cede control over their foreign policy to the British. Fighting resumed in September 1879, after an anti-British uprising in Kabul, and finally concluded in September 1880 with the decisive Battle of Kandahar. The album includes portraits of British and Afghan leaders and military personnel, portraits of ordinary Afghan people, and depictions of British military camps and activities, structures, landscapes, and cities and towns. The sites shown are all located within the borders of present-day Afghanistan or Pakistan (a part of British India at the time). About a third of the photographs were taken by John Burke (circa 1843–1900), another third by Sir Benjamin Simpson (1831–1923), and the remainder by several other photographers. Some of the photographs are unattributed. The album possibly was compiled by a member of the British Indian government, but this has not been confirmed. How it came to the Library of Congress is not known.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Sir James Ferguson

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print in an album : albumen


  1. Peter Harnetty, “Fergusson, Sir James, of Kilkerran, sixth baronet (1832–1907),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: September 30, 2016