Ummer Nath, Dewan
Paymaster of Sikh Army and Account Writer
Dewan Ummer Nath, the Pay-master of the Khalsa Force during the Sikh rule in the Punjab was the son of Raja Dina Nath. In 1815 Maharaja Runjit Singh inspected the royal archives and instructed Dewan Gunga Ram to sort out the State papers. For assistance services of Pandit Dina Nath were secured from Delhi. The author of these: Memoirs, then a young man of acknowledged powers of observation, and of immense personal influence in the Sikh Durbar, helped his father in reducing the heterogenous collections of the royal archives into order rendering these, for the first time, useful for political purposes.
The Memoirs consist mainly of extracts from official documents in the then Sikh Archives and the rest from the author’s personal experience. The greater part of this work was written under the Sikh rule; and the writer of its culled version into English which was printed in 1858 from Persian M.S. at Lahore was assured by the author of the Memoirs that this work was originally not intended for publication.
Editor of the `Calcutta Review’ (1858) regarded this work being of very high merit ranking “next only to those of the famous Abut Fuzzel…The value of the Memoirs, a depository of facts and a book of reference, is unquestionably great… The chronicles of Boota Shah and Sohan Lal which form the basis of Prinsep’s and Murray’s narratives of the court of Runjeet Singh, can hardly be compared with the Memoirs under review… we can generally place the most implicit reliance on the facts narrated in this work, the major part of which consists of extracts from the official documents or the records preserved by Dewan’s father. Indeed the Author is seldom if ever guilty of an exaggeration, or distortion of facts, or of any unfairness to which an author may be tempted.”
Dewan’s Memoirs far excell other contemporary histories in richness of facts of general interest.