Knox Mission of 1802 A.D.

Introduction to Knox Mission of 1802 A.D.

In 1802 A.D., Captain Robert Knox, an official of the Company Government, arrived in Kathmandu along with specialists, a geographer, and historian Francis Buchanan Hamilton.

Their mission was to examine the feasibility of having a political representative in Nepal, as per the Anglo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1801 A.D. They also wanted to change the precedent set by the Failed Kirkpatrick Mission of 1793 A.D.

Additionally, Knox Mission of 1802 A.D. aimed to explore Nepal’s social, cultural, and political landscape, investigate its economic state, and assess its administrative well-being.

Objectives of The Knox Mission of 1802 A.D.

The Knox Mission of 1802 A.D. had several objectives related to Nepal’s administration, economy, society, military, and Natural Habitat.

Political Administration

The Company Government had limited knowledge about Nepal’s political administration, which had undergone significant changes after the unification of the country.

The mission successfully sought to understand the fundamental tenets of the Nepali administration, how it functioned, and the important families involved.

Natural Topography

Nepal was known for its mild climate and diverse flora and fauna despite its limited topography. However, the sciences of geography and biology were not well-developed in Nepal.

The Company Government wanted to uncover the natural characteristics of Nepal, including the types of birds, plants, and herbs. While they were restricted to exploring the Kathmandu Valley, they partially succeeded in their mission.

Military Power

Prithvi Narayan Shah, with a population of 15,000-20,000 Gorkhas, managed to complete the unification of Nepal and defeat the Kinloch Expedition. The Company Government desired to understand Nepal’s military power, military administration, and the nature of its military personnel.

This information would be beneficial in case of any potential conflict and for potential recruitment purposes. The Knox Mission of 1802 A.D. was quite successful in investigating the Military Power of Nepal.

Influence the Politics of Nepal

The Company Government had established prominence in the Indian Sub-Continent by intervening in the politics of Indian kings and princes. They sought to apply a similar policy in Nepal to create a hegemonic colonial condition.

Their interest was not in acquiring Nepalese lands but in keeping Nepal, as a neighboring country, under their influence.


Commerce and business between Nepal and the East India Company were not fully formalized. Additionally, disputes between Nepal and Tibet had subsided, prompting the Knox Mission to explore the feasibility of trading with Tibet and China through Nepal’s route.

Events of Knox Mission of 1802 A.D.

Robert Knox, along with his team of specialists, stayed in Nepal for an exclusive period of nearly one year, from April 1802 to March 1803 A.D. The Knox Mission of 1802 A.D. conducted comprehensive research in the Kathmandu Valley and explored various aspects of Nepal.

Arrival in Nepal

Upon arrival, Knox and his team didn’t receive much hospitality due to the internal divisions and the absence of a recognized authority in the Nepalese Durbar. The courtiers were preoccupied with meddling in internal politics.

Queen Rajarajeshwari, the eldest wife of Rana Bahadur Shah, returned and claimed the position of Queen Regent. The Nepali politicians were not focused on implementing the Anglo-Nepal Commercial Treaty of 1791 A.D.

Knox informed them about Rana Bahadur Shah’s impending loan, the establishment of a trading post in Kirtipur, and the introduction of some Britishers for technical purposes in Kathmandu. However, the eldest queen remained hesitant to fulfill these requests.

Therefore, Knox prioritized completing the research aspect of his mission. He actively engaged Hamilton and other experts to understand the nature, history, society, and economy of Nepali society.

Return to India

After approximately 11 months in Nepal, Robert Knox returned to India and informed Marques Wellesley about the prevailing conditions in India. In 1804 A.D., the Company Government declared the dismissal of both the Anglo-Nepal Commercial Treaty of 1792 A.D. and the Anglo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1801 A.D.

The mission provided valuable insights for the Company Government. They gained an understanding of Nepal’s military and administrative strengths, explored Nepali society and economy, and assessed the geography and topography of Nepal.

However, they observed Nepal’s unwillingness to implement the treaty or be open to the Company Government in the Kathmandu Valley. As a result, the Company Government believed that war was inevitable against Nepal.


Captain Knox’s mission, lasting nearly a year, was both a success and a failure for the Company Government. They couldn’t achieve political success or negotiations with Nepal.

Nevertheless, the mission provided them with an opportunity to understand the workings of Nepali society, Nepal’s geography, topography, and other valuable information deemed necessary by the Company Government.