Thursday, 23 October 2014

Julian Gardner

When I was admitted in the Boys' High School, Allahabad in January 1951 there were about 200 students in the entire school ( now there over 5000 ), about one third of whom were Anglo-Indians ( most of them migrated later with their parents to England, Australia, or Canada) . Many of these Anglo-Indians had the surname Gardner.

One of these was my class mate Julian Gardner, whose son-in-law, David Luke, is now Principal of the school.

 After I had passed out of Boys High School on completing my Senior Cambridge school examination in 1961, I lost touch with Julian.

 It was much later.when I was a Judge of Allahabad High Court ( from 1991-2004) that I again came into contact with him when one day he came to my house in Allahabad.

  We exchanged old memories of our time in the school. Julian told me all that he had done after leaving the school. He had been in the railways in some capacity, and later left the railways and had been doing farming in Kasganj, in U.P.

 The Gardners in India all come from Kasganj. Their ancestor was a British lord, William Gardner, who had been a general in the British army in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, had fought in India, and had been granted an estate in Kasganj as a reward for his services. I am informed that a Gardner's House still stands in Kasganj.

 Lord Gardner had raised a British regiment known as the Gardner's Horse in 1809. The regiment still exists in the Indian army, but is now known as the Second Lancers. It is the oldest and most highly decorated armoured regiment in the Indian army.

  When Julian met me in my house in Allahabad he told me a fascinating story.

Lord Gardner had been a hereditary peer, not a life peer. Hereditary peers are those belonging to old aristocratic families in England, and the eldest son of the father inherits the title, the castle, etc. Life peers are those appointed only lords for their lifetime, because of some accomplishment in some field, e.g. business, science, art, etc, and their sons do not inherit the title. The peers, whether hereditary or lifetime, have the right to sit in the House of Lords, which is the upper House in the British Parliament.

 The British Government had appointed a well known historian to do research about the hereditary peers. That historian found out, after painstaking research, that Julian was the seniormost, direct descendant in the male line of descent from Lord Gardner, and hence had the right to inherit the title, the castle, etc. However, Julian had to submit certain documents to prove his claim, and so he had come to me for help.

 I immediately instructed the District Judge of Kasganj to help in the matter and obtain the relevant documents and give them to Julian.

 I started dreaming of the day my friend Julian would become Lord Gardner and sit in the House of Lords in England, and I would be a guest in his castle and enjoy his hospitality.

 However, this dream was shattered when later Julian informed me that the Labour Government of Tony Blair had changed the policy, and now Julian could not become a Lord.

That was really cheating my friend !

1 comment:

  1. No. No. No. Being recognized as the legitimate heir to a English, British or UK title (in Julian's case an Irish-based one) is totally separate from claiming a seat in the House of Lords.
    To be honest, it would be ridiculous if someone who spent his entire life in UP were to suddenly be made an English lawmaker. Tony Blair's reforms actually strengthen the Lords by making it into a more legitimate upper house in a democratic parliament.
    But I think it would be absolutely wonderful if Julian Gardner could have his claim to be the legitimate heir to the barony recognized by the Crown. Questions might have been raised because the barony passed to a brother at one point, if I recall correctly. But if the RIchmond Herald and others have stated that the claim is legitimate, then I don't think there is any doubt that he could successfully plead his case.
    Honestly, I think a lot of Brits would love the idea. There are so many Muslim, Jewish and Hindu lords these days that this would not seem strange. And it would be a harmless way to recognize and hearken back to a time when Indians and the British treated each other as equals, before the Raj proper was established.