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William Watts

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William Watts

August 4, 1764, Hanslope, United Kingdom

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William Watts (c. 1722 – 4 August 1764) was chief of the Kasimbazar (or Cossimbazar) factory of the British East India Company. He lived in Bengal, and he was proficient in Bengali, Hindustani and Persian languages.



Robert Clive assigned William Watts with the responsibility of acting as the representative of the company to the Nawab's court at Murshidabad.

Robert Clive engaged him to work out a secret plan for the final overthrow of Siraj Ud Daulah and to install a favourable Nawab on the masnad. Watts thus set up contact with the dissident amirs of the Murshidabad durbar including Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan. William Watts played a role in forging the grand conspiracy against Siraj Ud Daulah which led to his final overthrow at the Battle of Plassey. On 5 June 1757 he personally visited Mir Jafar and obtained his oath of allegiance.

In recognition of his services he was given £114,000 from the Nawab's treasury and made the governor of Fort William on 22 June 1758, in place of Roger Drake who had deserted the fort when it was attacked and captured in June 1756. This had been the location of the Black Hole of Calcutta on 20 June 1756.

Four days later he resigned in favour of Robert Clive to return to England.

He wrote a book Memoirs of the Revolution in Bengal which was published in 1764.

On his return to England he built the South Hill Park mansion which lies to the south of Bracknell, Berkshire which is now an Arts Centre.

In June 1764, he was in the process of buying Hanslope Park, Hanslope, Buckinghamshire, but died in that August. The sale was completed for his son Edward, who became Lord of the Manor.

William is buried in the Watt vault in Hanslope church.


Watts was born about 1722, a son of William Watts of London, an academy master, and his first wife Mary Hills.

On 24 March 1749 William married Frances Altham, née Croke (10 April [1725] 1728 – 3 February 1812) in Calcutta, the twice-widowed second daughter of Edward Croke or Crook (1690 – 12 Feb 1769) the Governor of Fort St. David, 100 miles south of Madras and Isabella Beizor a Portuguese Indian Creole.

Watts died in August 1764, leaving three surviving children (one child, William, died in infancy). His daughter Amelia was the mother of the prime minister Lord Liverpool.

After death

When William Watts died in 1764, Frances returned to India to settle his estate. Although a wealthy young widow aged 36, it was ten years before she married William Johnson in 1774, a chaplain of the Presidency of Fort William. Frances became known as the 'Begum' Johnson .

By 1787, the Johnson marriage was declared at an end, and Frances offered William a settlement and an annuity, with which he returned to England. Frances was 59 years old and never married again.

She died in Calcutta on 3 February 1812. Her memorial in St. Johns Church, Calcutta states 'The oldest British resident in Bengal, universally beloved, respected and revered'.


William Watts Wikipedia

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