Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ellis, Barrow Helbert

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ELLIS, Sir BARROW HELBERT (1823–1887), Anglo-Indian, born in London 24 Jan. 1823, was son of S. Helbert Ellis, a prominent member of the Jewish community in London, by his wife, Fanny, daughter of Samuel Lyons de Symons. Educated at University College School, he matriculated at London University in 1839 and went to Haileybury. There he distinguished himself in all branches of study, and left in 1843 as senior student to enter the civil service of Bombay. His first appointment in India was as third assistant-collector and magistrate of Ratnagiri; he was promoted to the post of second assistant in 1847, and in 1848 was made commissioner for investigating certain claims upon the Nizam's government. In 1851 he arrived in Sindh as assistant-commissioner, and from 1855 to 1857 was in charge of the offices of chief commissioner during the absence in England of Sir Bartle Frere. He was made special commissioner for jagirs or alienated lands in the province before leaving Sindh in 1858. In 1859 he was collector and magistrate at Broach, and, after serving as chief secretary of the Bombay government, was nominated an additional member in 1862 and an ordinary member in 1865 of the Bombay council. Five years later he was promoted to the viceroy's council. In 1875 he returned to England, and was made not only K.C.S.I. but a member of the Indian council in London. He retired in due course from the council, on whose deliberations he exerted much influence, in 1885. Ellis died at Evian-les-Bains, Savoy, on 20 June 1887, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery at Willesden, Middlesex, on 28 June following. He was an excellent revenue and settlement officer — 'one of the ablest revenue officers of the Bombay Presidency,' in the words of Sir George Birdwood. While at Bombay Ellis was exceptionally popular with all classes of native Indians. He was at all times accessible to them, both in India and England, and the native newspapers eulogised him unstintedly at the time of his death. He left a sum of 2,500l. in trust for the poor of Ratnajiri, his first official charge. He was not married. On his retirement from India he took a prominent part in the affairs of the Jewish community of London, being vice-president of the Anglo-Jewish Association and of the Jews' College, where a portrait has been placed. Ellis published a report on education in Sindh (Bombay, 1856), and edited George Stack's `Dictionary of Sindhi and English' (Bombay, 1855). He was an active member of the Royal Asiatic Society, which he joined in 1876. He founded a prize in Bombay University, and a scholarship there was established in his honour in 1875.

[Memoir by Sir George Birdwood in Journal of tho Royal Asiatic Society, new ser. xix. 688; Times, 24 June 1887; Allen's Indian Mail, 28 June 1887; Jewish Chronicle (London), 24 June and 1 July 1887; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Times of India, 27 June 1887.]