Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carnac, James Rivett

CARNAC, Sir JAMES RIVETT (1785–1846), governor of Bombay, entered the East India Company's service in 1801 as an officer the Madras native infantry. His father, James Rivett, who in the Bombay, and by his influence the younger of Camac, was at that time a member of council at Bombay, and by his influence younger Camac was appointed in aide-de-camp to Mr. Duncan, then governor of Bombay, and a few months afterwards was placed on the personal staff of the officer commanding a field force employed against a Mahratta chief in Guzarát. The remainder of his Indian service was passed entirely in the Bombay presidency. After being present in several actions, which ended in the defeat of the insurgent chief, he was appointed in August 1802 first assistant to the resident at the court of the Gaikwár, and from that time until 1819, when he was compelled by ill-health to leave India, he was constantly employed in a political capacity, holding during the last two years of that period the important post of resident at Baroda. For his services as resident Carnac received the repeated thanks of the government of Bombay, of the supreme government, and of the court of directors. One of the objects to which he devoted much time and attention during this period of his life was the suppression of the practice of infanticide, then and afterwards very prevalent in Guzarát and in other native states. Like other Indian political officers, Carnac was frequently present at the military operations carried on in the earlier years of the century. Carnac retired from the Indian service as a major in 1832. In 1837 he was elected a director of the East India Company, and in 1835 served as deputy-chairman, and as chairman in 1836 and also in 1837. In 1836 he was created a baronet, and in 1838 appointed governor of Bombay, which office he held rather less than two years, the state of his health compelling him to quit India finally on 27 April 1841. In 1837 he was elected member for Sandwich in the whig interest, but resigned his seat on his appointment to the Bombay government in the following year.

As a director of the East India Company Carnac fully justified the reputation for ability and seal in the discharge of public duties which he had brought with him from election to the chairmanship in two years was an honour rarely conferred, and proved the high estimation in which he was held by his colleagues. While chairman of the court, Carmac was mainly instrumental in securing for Lord Wellesley the grant of 20,000l. which was made to that eminent statesman in 1837, in addition to this pension previously awarded to him. With Lord Wellesley, as well as with the Duke of Wellington, Lord Melbourne, and Lord Glenelg, Carnac carried on as active correspondence. During his brief tenure of the government of Bombay he appears to have won the esteem of all classes in that presidency. In recognition of his efforts to promote the education of the natives and their advancement in the public service, a scholarship, called the Carnac scholarship, was founded in the Elphinstone College at Bombay; his bust by Chantry was placed in the Town Hall, and a valuable service of plate was presented to him.

Carnac died at Rockcliffe, near Lymington, Hampshire, on 4 Jan. 1846, leaving a widow and several children.

[Philippart's East India Military Calendar, 1824; Annual Register, 1846; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage; Bombay Gazette, 26 April 1841; private papers.]

A. J. A.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.55
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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133 ii 22 Carnac, Sir James R.: for 4 Jan. read 23 Jan.