Now at the end of his time in India, and as Governor of Bombay (Mumbai), Lord Elphinstone’s final letters.  There are two transcribed here.

He was Governor 1853 – 1860 which included the period of the Mutiny.

Bombay, January 10th, 1860

My dearest Elly
Your last letter is dated Nov 22nd and Dec 2nd. On the former day you remind me that six years had elapsed since we parted at Frankfurt. I am sure therefore that you will be glad to hear that there is every hope that before another year we shall meet. I have after much consideration and after calling Walter Elliot into council decided upon asking to be relieved as soon as possible, and I have written a letter to Sir Charles Wood to this effect which will go home by today’s mail. I have begged that my successor may be sent out as soon as possible but one is never quite sure how long this will be. If he makes haste I might be home in six months or less from this time. In the meantime I have not told anyone here except Walter what I have done as it is quite as well that it should not be generally known. As soon as this happens I shall be considered a mere locum tenens, about to be superceded by a more permanent authority. My return has nothing to do with my dear Uncle’s death. I do not believe that he has left much money and I know (for they have sent me a copy of his Will) that he has left considerable legacies. He has appointed me Residency Legatee and has specifically left me his books, papers, plate and other personal property, but his death has in fact rather lessened than increased my desire to return for at his great age I was naturally anxious to return soon that I might see him again. Now that hope has disappeared. I shall not only miss his kind welcome when I return but I shall feel the want of his letters while I remain here for he used often to write to me and always in the most affectionate manner. I am grieved when I think that none of us were with him when he died but it is some comfort to know that he preserved his faculties and his usual health to the latest possible period and that after the fatal seizure he became apparently unconscious and lay in this state during the few hours which intervened before his death. Still it would have been a consolation to know that some friend or relation had been at his bedside.
I was very glad to see Walter Elliot looking so well. He is really quite a different man from what he was four years ago, when he came here with Maria. He is grown rather stout and very old but he looks hale and hearty. I had almost written jolly. He is for the moment absorbed in botany with all the transport of a new passion. He seems to live only for flowers and plants and comes back with a servant laden with boughs and leaves which are then spread on the floor. Books are sent for and consulted, notes made and this occupies all morning. When his carpet bag was unpacked I never saw such a farrago as came out of it. First of course there was a specimen book, full of leaves and flowers drying, then a bundle of dirty clothes, then some thick shoes, next a lot of clean white neckclothes, much tumbled, then a sponge, toothbrushes, a thermometer and some books, after these dressing gown, slippers and pyjamas (chiefly trousers), clean shirts and then some dirty ones, finally his evening coat which had been dropped in the sea and dried in the Engine Room! I leave you to guess how it looked! I wonder how he will get home! He has no servant and is really so preoccupied with science of all sorts that can hardly find time to look after carpet bags and portmanteaus. He goes to England.
Ever your most affectionate brother, Elphinstone.


January 25th. Malabar Point, January 25th, 1860.
My dearest Elly
I have changed houses since the post arrived about a week ago and I am unable to lay my hand upon your last letter. The reason of my coming over to Malabar Point was a slight attack of intermittent fever, a very common complaint in Bombay, but which I have been hitherto entirely free from. It has left me but it has given me an abominable shake and I feel as week as a cat. The Dr says I shall be all right in a few days and as the attack has been so slight it is not likely I shall have a relapse.
I could not imagine what was the matter at first. I thought I had caught a very severe cold for I was shivering all day and could not keep myself warm. At night I got warm enough but heated with flushed face and burning hands. This see-saw went on for 3 or 4 days and then I only felt chilly and weak and didn’t get the hot fit. Now I am by way of being quite well, but still I feel I have had a good shaking. Upon the whole this is only another reason for being glad that I am going home for there is a no cure so affective for fever of this description as change of air, and especially removal from the tropics for a time.
There has been a great display of good feeling on the part of the natives here on the occasion of Mountstuart’s death. I have had many addresses of condolence, some of them very well written and all showing a very good spirit. I have got your Rampon Chuddens, but I must finish this scrawl as I have more letters to write – ever your most affectionate brother, E.

Elphinstone’s uncle was Mountstuart Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay (Mumbai) from 1819 – 1827. They were clearly very close and John writes of his death in the 1860 letter. He died on November 20th, 1859 – hence the use of black edged correspondence.  Mountstuart had selected Malabar Point as a site for his own house, and had thereby popularised the area.  It is possible his nephew was using the same house.

Given the family connections, it is easy to get confused with the use of the name still prominent in India. The famous Elphinstone College was named after Mountstuart, who championed Indian education at a time when it was not a popular idea with the Company.

Lord Elphinstone was Governor of Bombay from 1853 – 1860.
The Elphinstone Road railway and Elphinstone Circle in Mumbai are named after him.

Sir Charles Wood was Secretary of State for India in Palmerston’s Government, 1859-1866.

Walter Elliot was returning to Wolfelee in Scotland, having finally retired.

Many summaries of Elphinstone’s life have him returning to England in 1859 when he was created a peer of the United Kingdom. These letters tell a different story. He must have left Bombay soon after this because he is recorded as having died at his house in King Street, London on 19th July 1860.