William Henry Rattigan

From Theosophy Wiki
Revision as of 15:10, 13 December 2022 by SysopJ (talk | contribs) (→‎Interactions with A. P. Sinnett)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir William Henry Rattigan was an English barrister born in India who is of interest to Theosophists because he purchased The Pioneer and removed Theosophist Alfred Percy Sinnett from the editorship.

Life and career

William Henry Rattigan was born on September 4, 1842 in Old Delhi, India. His parents were Bartholomew Rattigan of Athy, county Kildare, and Sarah Abbot. He was educated at a High School in Agra, and later at King's College, London. He was granted the LL.D with 1st class honors at the University of Gottingen. After being called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1873, he took silk as a Q.C. in 1897.

He was married from 1861-1876 to a woman who died. 1876 was the year that his son Clive was born in Lahore, India, so possibly the mother died of childbirth. William married again in 1878, to Evelyn Higgins.[1] They had a son Henry Adolphus Rattigan.

As of 1882, at the time Rattigan became involved with Theosophist Alfred Percy Sinnett, he was working as Advocate of the High Court in North-Western Provinces and Oudh, where Sir Alfred C. Lyall served as Lt. Governor. Rattigan continued in that position into the 1890s.[2]

Rattigan was an Additional Member of the Imperial Legislative Council of India in 1892–93, and member of the Punjab legislative council, 1898–99. He joined the Royal Asiatic Society of London. He served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Punjab for at least five terms. He was knighted in 1895.[3]

By 1900, Sir William had moved to London, returning to Lincoln's Inn.[4] He became a Liberal Unionist MP for North East Lanarkshire from 1901 until his death.

He died on July 4, 1904 at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England.

Newspaper ownership

Interactions with A. P. Sinnett

Rattigan purchased The Pioneer from George William Allen in 1882. Alfred Percy Sinnett had previously been editor for the paper for about eleven years, but the new owner asked him to leave. Sinnett received a year's salary in compensation and left Allahabad in 1883. Their interactions are mentioned in several letters written by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky; in Mahatma Letters No. 31, 43, 85b; and in a letter written by Sinnett in November, 1881.

Hiring Rudyard Kipling

Rattigan later hired the very young Rudyard Kipling to work in the newspaper office for a few months. His son Clive wrote:

It was my father, the late Sir William Rattigan, KC, MP, who gave Rudyard Kipling his first start in a literary career.

That was in 1882 when Kipling was only seventeen, a mere schoolboy who had only just left Westward Ho![5] At that time my father was practising at the Bar at Lahore and was the principal proprietor of two Indian newspapers, the Civil and Military Gazette at Lahore and The Pioneer at Allahabad.

He was a great friend of Rudyard's father, John Lockwood Kipling, Principal of the Art School of Lahore, and the Lockwood Kiplings, anxious to have their son with them in India, approached my father with the request that he should give Rudyard a job on the Civil and Military Gazette.

They frankly admitted that Rudyard had no journalistic qualifications... but he had, they said, a certain urge to write and a gift for vigorous expression.[6]

Rattigan agreed to bring the young man to Lahore as an assistant editor. Subsequently Kipling also worked on The Pioneer.


Rattigan wrote several books:

  • The Roman Law of Persons, 1873.
  • The Science of Jurisprudence, 1892.
  • Private International Law, 1895.
  • Digest of Customary Law for Punjab, 1895.


  1. County Families Of The UK. Volume R. 1900.
  2. UK, Registers of Employees of the East India Company and the India Office, 1746-1939 for 1882 and 1890.
  3. County Families Of The UK. Volume R. 1900.
  4. London, England, City Directories, 1736-1943 for the year 1900.
  5. Westward Ho! is a seaside village in Devon where Kipling attended the the United Services Colleges, an English boys' public school for the sons of military officers.
  6. Clive Rattigan, Saturday Review 161 (25 Jan 1936), 106-107.