Mission of Kirkpatrick

Introduction to the Mission of Kirkpatrick

The Mission of Kirkpatrick took place in 1793 A.D., with William Kirkpatrick leading the mission to Nepal for two major reasons. He aimed to survey Nepal’s geography, economy, politics, and history. Another reason for the Kirkpatrick Mission was to convince Nepal to avoid waging another war against Tibet.

The Indo-Nepal Relations were greatly influenced by the business and commercial ambitions of the British East India Company with Tibet and China. The markets and political power of China and Tibet were far superior to that of Nepal.

The British desired a stable political and diplomatic connection with Nepal, Tibet, and China, which led to the initiation of this mission.

Guidelines in The Mission of Kirkpatrick

Before William Kirkpatrick traveled to Nepal, Lord Cornwallis sent him four major missions and guidelines. They aimed to understand the political, social, and cultural aspects of Nepali society as a whole.

Challenges in Welcoming Kirkpatrick to Nepal

Bahadur Shah was unwilling to welcome William Kirkpatrick to Nepal due to specific reasons. He feared that Kirkpatrick was sent to spy on Nepal’s political system.

Moreover, Kirkpatrick’s arrival could lead to political opposition from the courtiers of Nepal. Bahadur Shah reasoned that the treaty had already been concluded and was in the process of implementation.

Objectives of the Mission of Kirkpatrick

The Major Objectives of the Mission of Kirkpatrick were the negotiations for the Implementation of the Anglo-Nepal Commercial Treaty of 1792 A.D., understanding the major reasons for the Sino-Nepal Wars, and comprehending the characters of Nepali Civilization.

Implementation of the Anglo-Nepal Commercial Treaty of 1792 A.D.

The Anglo-Nepal Commercial Treaty of 1792 A.D. was signed between Nepal and India a year earlier with the main purpose of allowing inter-state trade and catering to British interests in commerce with Tibet and China.

However, even after a year of signing the treaty, its implementation was yet to be realized. The Company Government was eager for the treaty’s implementation, but ongoing tensions between Nepal and Tibet caused its suspension.

Kirkpatrick was sent to advocate for the implementation of the treaty, but his isolation from Nepali politics during that period hindered any substantial progress.

Solving Border Disputes of Butwal and Syuraj

The border disputes between the Company Government and Nepal escalated after the unification of Nepal. In the Terai region, the specific border or land to which Nepal was entitled was not known.

To ensure specific borders and resolve all forms of border disputes, William Kirkpatrick was sent. As a colonel, he knew the specific problems that occurred in places like Butwal, Syuraj, and other parts of the Terai Region.

However, the border dispute remained unsolved, and if it had been resolved, especially in Butwal, the Anglo-Nepal War might have been avoided.

Reasons for Sino-Nepal Wars

Despite their intimate past, Nepal and Tibet experienced tense relations after 1600 A.D., with frequent encounters between their kings such as Ram Shah and Pratap Malla. This hostility against Tibet negatively affected Nepal’s economic condition.

The Company Government also faced difficulties in trade and commerce due to the relations between Nepal and Tibet. To understand the major reasons for the conflict between the two nations and find solutions, Kirkpatrick was sent to Nepal.

Unfortunately, he faced challenges in communicating with Nepali Citizens and Nobles.

Geographical, Social, and Economic Condition of Nepal

Despite facing challenges in his missions, Kirkpatrick succeeded in documenting the geographical and economic conditions of Nepal.

He wrote a concise book on this topic and also recorded the historical chronicles of Nepal, including various routes across the country, and collected important information.

Events of Mission of Kirkpatrick in Nepal

At the insistence of the Company Government, Kirkpatrick arrived at the border of Nepal on February 15, 1793 A.D. He was accommodated in two specific places. First, he stayed at Nuwakot Durbar. Later, he was assigned to Swayambhu.

However, due to the exclusionary nature of his accommodations, he returned after two weeks.

William Kirkpatrick authored the first book on Nepali history titled “An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul.” He also collected various chronicles that mentioned Nepal’s history.

His collection of the Chronicles of the Kings of Nepal holds high regard in the field of Nepali history and serves as an authority on the history of the Gopal, Mahispal, and Kirat dynasties.

Despite these achievements, Kirkpatrick’s mission failed to improve the relations between the British East India Company and Nepal. It also couldn’t resolve the conflicts between Nepal and Tibet.


The expedition led by William Kirkpatrick in Nepal did not yield the expected benefits for the Company Government. Kirkpatrick was not given much exposure to Nepali society and received limited information about Nepal’s foreign relations.

Moreover, Bahadur Shah did not want Kirkpatrick in Nepal, making the expedition a failure in the eyes of the British East India Company and their immediate strategies.