SEBUNDY to SEEDY
SEBUNDY, s. Hind. from Pers. sihbandi (sih, three). The rationale of the word is obscure to us.
[Platts says it means three-monthly or quarterly payment. The Madras Gloss. less probably suggests
Pers. sipahbandi (see SEPOY), recruitment.] It is applied to irregular native soldiery, a sort of militia,
or imperfectly disciplined troops for revenue or police duties, &c. Certain local infantry regiments were
formerly officially termed Sebundy. The last official appearance of the title that we can find is in application
to The Sebundy Corps of Sappers and Miners employed at Darjeeling. This is in the E.I. Register
down to July, 1869, after which the title does not appear in any official list. Of this corps, if we are not
mistaken, the late Field-Marshal Lord Napier of Magdala was in charge, as Lieut. Robert Napier, about
1840. An application to Lord Napier, for corroboration of this reminiscence of many years back, drew
from him the following interesting note:
Captain Gilmore of the (Bengal) Engineers was appointed to open the settlement of Darjeeling, and to
raise two companies of Sebundy Sappers, in order to provide the necessary labour.* * * * *
the work, obtained some (Native) officers and N.C. officers from the old Bengal Sappers, and enlisted
about half of each company.
The first season found the little colony quite unprepared for the early commencement
of the Rains. All the Coolies, who did not die, fled, and some of the Sappers deserted. Gilmore got
sick; and in 1838 I was suddenly ordered from the extreme border of BengalNyacolleeto relieve him
for one month. I arrived somehow, with a pair of pitarahs as my sole possession.
Just then, our relations
with Nepaul became strained, and it was thought desirable to complete the Sebundy Sappers with
men from the Border Hills unconnected with NepaulGarrows and similar tribes. Through the Political
Officer the necessary number of men were enlisted and sent to me.
When they arrived I found, instead
of the fair recruits announced, a number of most unfit men; some of them more or less crippled, or with
defective sight. It seemed probable that, by the process known to us in India as uddlee buddlee (see
BUDLEE), the original recruits had managed to insert substitutes during the journey! I was much embarrassed
as to what I should do with them; but night was coming on, so I encamped them on the newly opened
road, the only clear space amid the dense jungle on either side. To complete my difficulty it began to
rain, and I pitied my poor recruits! During the night there was a storm and in the morning, to my intense
relief, they had all disappeared!
In the expressive language of my sergeant, there was not a visage of
the men left.
The Sebundies were a local corps, designed to furnish a body of labourers fit for mountain-
work. They were armed, and expected to fight if necessary. Their pay was 6rs. a month, instead of
a Sepoys 7½. The pensions of the Native officers were smaller than in the regular army, which was a
ground of complaint with the Bengal Sappers, who never expected in accepting the new service that
they would have lower pensions than those they enlisted for.
I eventually completed the corps with Nepaulese,
and, I think, left them in a satisfactory condition.
I was for a long time their only sergeant-major. I supplied
the Native officers and N.C. officers from India with a good pea-jacket each, out of my private means,
and with a little gold-lace made them smart and happy.
When I visited Darjeeling again in 1872, I found
the remnant of my good Sapper officers living as pensioners, and waiting to give me an affectionate
My months acting appointment was turned into four years. I walked 30 miles to get to the place, lived
much in hovels and temporary huts thrown up by my Hill-men, and derived more benefit from the climate
than from my previous visit to England. I think I owe much practical teaching to the Hill-men, the Hills
and the Climate. I learnt the worst the elements could do to mevery nearlyexcepting earthquakes!
And I think I was thus prepared for any hard work.
c. 1778.At Dacca I made acquaintance with my
venerable friend John Cowe. He had served in the Navy so far back as the memorable siege of Havannah,
was reduced when a lieutenant, at the end of the American War, went out in the Companys military
service, and here I found him in command of a regiment of Sebundees, or native militia.Hon, R.
Lindsay, in L. of the Lindsays, iii. 161.
1785.The Board were pleased to direct that in order to supply
the place of the Sebundy corps, four regiments of Sepoys be employed in securing the collection of the
revenues.In Seton-Karr, i. 92
One considerable charge upon the Nabobs country was for extraordinary
sibbendies, sepoys and horsemen, who appear to us to be a very unnecessary incumbrance upon the
revenue.Append. to Speech on Nab. of Arcots Debts, in Burkes Works, iv. 18, ed. 1852.
Collector at Midnapoor having reported the Sebundy Corps attached to that Collectorship, Sufficiently