Leading Families in Bannu :: Khyber.ORG

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Leading Families

Excerpts from Gazetteer of the Bannu District, 1887


  1. Leading Families of Bannu Tahsil
    1. Lal Baz Khan of Bazar Ahmad Khan
    2. Jafar Khan of Ghoriwal
    3. Shermati Khan of Jhandu Khel
    4. Bazid Khan of Bazid
    5. Sohan Khan; Sperkai Wazir
    6. (?), Hathi Khel Wazir
  2. Leading Families of Marwat Tahsil
    1. Khan Mir Khan Begu Khel
    2. Arsala Khan
    3. Sahibdad Khan
  3. Leading Families of Isakhel
    1. The Isakhel Khans
    2. Sher Khan of Isakhel
    3. Malik of Kalabagh Awans
    4. Mians of Mianwali

Leading Families of Bannu Tahsil

Thirty years ago the leading Bannuchis were Lal Baz Khan and Jafar Khan, and then, longo intervallo, Bazid Khan and Sher Mast Khan, whilst amongst the Wazirs the most prominent chiefs were Sohan or Swahn Khan and Azim Khan. All six men had acquired distinction by personal merit. The places of all six are now filled by one or other of their sons, some of whom have neither the strength nor the individuality of character which renders one man worthy of being a chief over his fellows. Below will be found a short account of each of their families.

Lal Baz Khan of Bazar Ahmad Khan

The founder of the family was Ahmad Khan, an Isakki. He wrested much land from the Sukkarris and the Hinjals, and built himself a walled village thereon. His patronage of traders induced Hindus to settle in numbers under his protection, hence his village became known as Bazar Ahmad Khan. He died about 1740. Of his immediate successors, Shah Bazurg, a grandson, is best known. By killing his relations and seizing their property he made himself secure in the chiefship. All his descendants are known after him as Shah Bazurg Khels. In Sikh times, his grandson Dakkas attained power in the same way, and his name is still respected by both Bannuchis and Marwats. On his death in 1842, Khan Suba, a cousin, killed the late chief's eldest son Mir Alam, and seized the tappa. But the Sikhs espoused the cause of Dakkas Khan's widow. As however, his surviving children were then infants and a man was wanted to rule the tappa, the usual struggle ensued amongst the ambitious members of the family, and finally Lal Baz Khan, a cousin, emerged the victor, after assassinating his most dangerous rival. During the second Sikh war, Lal Baz gave us hearty assistance. Whilst his brother Darab Khan was fighting for us before Multan, he himself was taken prisoner by the Sikhs on the capitulation of the Bannu fort in 1848. In reward for his services, the tappa malikship was confirmed to him together with the perpetual cash jagir assignment of one-quarter the revenue of his tappa, in which was included the connected tappa of Sadat. On his death in 1854, Faizullah Khan, his son, succeeded to his allowances, and on Faizullah's death without male issue in December 1874, a younger brother, Mir Abbas Khan, succeeded and now receives Rs. 2,337 as cash jagir, and Rs. 207 as holding a two-third share of the tappa. The other third is held by Mir Akbar Khan, second son of Dakkas Khan. In 1850 Lal Baz Khan and his brother Darab were given land in Nar which has been now assessed at Rs. 550. The family has been very handsomely treated by us. The present head is a loyal, well-intentioned man, but of little influence and not much intelligence. Mir Akbar is the prominent man, the family is much divided. The following tree shows their inter-relationship:

  1. Shah Buzarg
    1. Ranmast
      1. Dakkas
        1. Mir Alam
          1. Allahdad
        2. Mir Akbar
    2. Sarmast
      1. Jang Baz
        1. Lal Baz
          1. Faizullah
          2. Mir Abbas
          3. Sardad
        2. Darab
          1. Sherzad
          2. Akbar Ali

Jafar Khan of Ghoriwal

Hasan Khan, the progenitor of the Moghal Khels was an adventurer from Yusufzai, who settled in Bannu early in the last century. His son Urmar Khan removed to Ghoriwal, and by degrees worked himself into position of a chief, his followers being mostly Jat and Awan "Hindkais." Fourth in descent from him was Moghal Khan, who has given his name to his small but powerful clan. He was a great man, had six wives and many sons, and greatly extended the limits of his tappa. His grandson Jafar rose to power by first subjecting all his relations to his will, and then the neighbouring tappa of Ismail Khel, over which Allahdad, a distant cousin of his, became chief. On the outbreak of the second Sikh war, Allahdad and Jafar took opposite sides, the former against, the latter for us. Jafar Khan raised two hundred men for us for service in Bannu, and sent his eldest son, Sardad, at the head of twenty-eight sawars to assist at the siege of Multan. For these and other services, Jafar Khan was rewarded the perpetual jagir assignment of one-eighth the revenues of both the Ghoriwal and Ismail Khel tappas, and on is paying a balance of revenue due from the latter was made its malik as well. He also received a grant of land in Nar now assessed at Rs. 940. He died about twenty-five years ago, and was seceded by his eldest son Sardad Khan, who now draws Rs. 2,523 as his jagir grant and Rs. 1,063 as head of the two tappas above named. He was made a police zaildar in 1863, and deprived of the office owing to incapacity in December, 1871.

Shermati Khan of Jhandu Khel

This man was head of the Jhandukhel tappa Sikh times. He was succeeded by Zafar Khan, his son, and on his death in 1867 by Dost Muhammad Khan, the eldest son and present incumbent. The Durranis and Sikhs used to allow the head of the tappa a large barat, and in 1864 Government similarly sanctioned a perpetual grant of one-eighth of the revenue of his tappa. It now amounts to Rs. 452. The tappa confronts the lands of the Sperkai Wazirs, between whom and the men of Jhandukhel is an old standing feud. Dost Muhammad is very poor, as are most members of his family, many of whom are hostile to him.

Bazid Khan of Bazid

The history of this man and of his sons is altogether remarkable. He began life without a friend, acquired a name for reckless bravery, and in time carved his own way to the headship of the tappa, since known by his name. He is said to have killed over one hundred men by his own hand, before he attained "great honour." He died in 1864 at the age of 100, after having ruled his tappa for forty ears. He had in all eight wives, and twenty sons, besides many daughters. Of those sons ten pre-deceased him, meeting their deaths in various ways. Of those who survived him, one was killed inadvertently by an officer, one was murdered, one was hung, and one transported for live for the murder, and one blew himself up accidentally, and there are five still in Bannu. On Bazid Khan's death his son Khan Suba succeeded him. He blew himself up in 1870, and was succeeded by Asad Khan, his half-brother, a man who received the order of merit during the mutiny. He was assassinated by some of his half-brothers in 1875, since which time Khyder Khan, his full brother, has been the tappa malik.

Sohan or Swahn Khan; Sperkai Wazir

The Sohan is the Wazir who was so powerful and useful to Major Edwardes on his first and second visits to Bannu. He is said to have been a man of gigantic size and strength. For his hearty services in early days he was rewarded with a chair and a pension of Rs. 600 per annum. On his death in 1854, his son Najib Khan succeeded him, and received a grant of land in Nar now assessed at Rs. 525. Najib died in 1866, leaving a young son, Jalandar Shah. Since that time, Mani Khan, a younger brother of Najib, has acted as head of the family and clan, and in 1872 his father's pension was revived in his favour. Jalandar Shah is now a fine young man and will probably before long assert himself as rightful head of the family. He and Mani Khan have been recorded as headmen of their clan with equal shares, and each has received a lungi inam of Rs. 50. Mani Khan's influence is much inferior to that of his father; till owing to the blunt shrewdness of his character he has more influence than any other Waziri chief. Of late years his hill campaigns against the Mahsuds have not been successful, and they have wrested much land from him.

(?), Hathi Khel Wazir

This man had the sagacity to obtain a sanad from Major Taylor in 1850 for land on the Waziri thal, and to occupy himself in bringing waste under cultivation, whilst half his tribe remained content with their position as graziers. On his death in 1868 his son Nezam Khan continued in his father's footsteps, and the conseqence is that he is now a most prosperous man and a large land owner, his holding being 3,568 acres, of which 3,192 are cultivated. He was given a chair in 1876, and has since received a lungi inam of Rs. 125. He is Mani Khan's rival, and to some extent an enemy. To him and his father belong the credit of heading the tribal movement which has converted the Hathikhels from a collection of half-savage shepherd highlanders to well conducted plain-settled agriculturists.

Leading Families of Marwat Tahsil

Khan Mir Khan Begu Khel

Chief of the Begu Khel section of the Achu Khel branch of the Marwat tribe is a great grandson of Begu, the founder of the family, and is also the head of the "white" party in Marwat, better known as the Gundi Nawazan. Begu and a contingent of 120 Marwat horsemen served under Ahmad Shah Durrani in the campaign which closed with the destruction of the Maratta army at Panipat near Delhi in 1761. After his return he led some attacks against Niazais in Isakhel, in the last of which he was killed. Nawaz Khan, his second son, was elected to succeed him. All Marwat was at the time divided into two hostile factions. A murderer had some years before been given an asylum with the Achu Khels. This led to other murders of revenge until at last the blood feud became so ramified that every clan and every family of note in the country became involved in the great quarrel. The leaders of the one party were the Nawaz Khan just mentioned (also known as Khooni Nawaz, i.e. Murderer Nawaz), and another man of the same name, a Maidad Khel, the father of Sahibdad Khan, whose family will be presently noticed. On the other side the leader was Abezar Khan, a distant cousin of Begu Khan's son, and one who aspired to be chief of the whole Achukhel clan. Thus arose the two great parties which divide Marwat to the present day, and which gave rise to the saying "God is one, but Marwats are two." The one party is known as the "whites" or Gundi Nawazan and the other as "blacks" or Gundi Abezar. Nawaz, son of Beu, spent his whole life in trying to wear down the Abezar party. Beaten in several fights, he was so unpatriotic as to invoke the aid of the Nawab of Mankera. The Nawab's army routed Abezar's in 1819 and from that year the Marwats lost their independence. A few years afterwards the Abezarites allied themselves with the Wazirs, who were ready to assist either side when there was a prospect of plunder, and many fights ensued, in one of which the Wazirs suffered heavily and were pursued across the Kurram to the hills. When the rule of the Sikhs superseded that of the Nawab, the Nawazites sought favour with the new power, and in 1843, assisted Fateh Khan Tewana to build the Lakki fort. Nawaz, son of Begu, died two years after. His male descendants now alive number 132 souls. To this day the local measure of length in use is that of his arm from elbow to tip of the longest finger, and the length of the hand more, and is known after him. It is thirty-one inches long. Abusamad Khan, a younger son, was elected to succeed him, and held the chiefship until his death in 1864, when Khan Mir Khan became head of the family.

Arsala Khan

Is head of the Isakhel branch of the Achukhels, and grandson of that Abezar whose rivalry with Nawaz, son of Begu, cost Marwat her independence. Abezar and Nawaz were contemporaries. Both lived to old age, and both died within a year or two of each other on the eve of annexation. Abezar's father, Almar, may be regarded as the founder of the house. This Almar was a fine, honest character, and had such influence that he united all Marwat to fight the Khattaks. On Abezar's death in 1847, his son Sarwar was recognized as head of the clan. He died in 1860, when he was succeeded by his son, the present chief. He is a quiet, simple man, partially blind from cataract, and is greatly respected by the Marwats. He receives a barat of Rs. 1,000 a year. He and Khan Mir Khan, as heading the rival parties in the country and being hereditary enemies, have no intercourse together, though their villages adjoin each other. Both families sent representatives to assist at the siege of Multan, but neither family, nor indeed the Achu Khel clan generally, was heartily with us until the battle of Gujrat annihilated the Sikh army. Their Luke warmness in our behalf gave Hakim Khan and the Sikandar Khel clan an opportunity of distinguishing themselves in 1848, when Major Taylor besieged the Sikh garrison in the now dismantled Lakki fort.

Sahibdad Khan

The Maidad Khel family has for many generations supplied chiefs for the Bahram Khel branch of the Marwats, but the tenure of chiefship was always very uncertain, and the hold of any individual in the clan was never strong. Power depended entirely on personal qualifications, and the clan was from the first split up into two opposing parties. The present chief's father was Nawaz Khan, who with his Begu Khel namesake gave the name Gundi Nawazan to their party. This Nawaz was a man of great ambition, and ruled by art more than by force. Latterly he attempted to consolidate his hold on his clan by entertaining a band of foreign mercenaries, and began building himself a fort in the hills about a mile and a half up the Kharoba nala. Before the work was completed he was assassinated by a youth whose father he had murdered. This was in 1835. On his death Langar Khan, a distant clansman, rose to power, and held it until he died in 1856, when his son Wali Khan and the late Nawaz Khan's son, Sahibdad Khan, were jointly made heads of their clan. In 1878 Wali Khan was deprived of his barat of Rs. 195. That of Sahibdad is now Rs, 405.

Leading Families of Isakhel

The Issa Khel Khans

Isa Khan, the common ancestor of the Isakhel clan, left two sons, Zakku and Apu, and two grandsons, Badu (Badan) and Mammu. Their respective descendants are known by their patronymics. For many generations the clan was not governed by chiefs, but by its counsel of elders. In time feuds between the different sections became frequent, the numerically stronger domineering over the numerically weaker. Thus the Zakku Khels and Apu Khels were both weak, and the Badanzais and Mammu Khels strong. This state of things continued until the time of Khan Zaman, Zakku Khel. Procuring help from Ahmad Shah Durrani, he raised himself to the chief-ship, and so turned the tables on the two rival sections who had so long oppressed him. In 1761 he led a troop of his clansmen to Panipat, and took part in the battle which destroyed Mahratta pretensions in Upper India. His son Umar Khan succeeded him and administered the southern parts of Isakhel in the interest of the Nawab of Mankera. It was this Umar Khan who excavated the canal called after him, and did so much to revive and develop canal irrigation. He was allowed one-quarter of all revenue collections made by him. Ahmad Khan, his son, succeeded to his position. Under him the fortunes of his house continued to improve until the Sikh conquest of Isakhel. When that had been effected, Ahmad Khan and his family took refuge in Bannu proper and in Dawar. On his death in exile in 1838, Muhammad Khan his brother made terms, with his new masters, and was granted one-eighth of the revenues of Isa Khel and one-third of the proceeds from the alum pans at Kotki, instead of one-quarter of the former and all the latter, which he and his father before him had enjoyed in the Nawab's time. But the rapacity of Diwan Lakhi Mal, the Sikh kardar, drove the family once more into exile, and it was not until nearly ten years later that they returned and were reinstated in all their old rights and privileges by Major Edwardes. The restored Khan proved his gratitude a few months afterwards by siding with us throughout the second Sikh war. His third son, Shah Nawaz, was killed in action near Multan in 1848 before the eyes of his benefactor, and his other sons joined Fateh Khan Tewana in withstanding the Sikhs in Bannu proper. Muhammad Khan died in 1855, having first divided his property into eight equal shares, one for each of his seven sons, and one for his grandson, Abdul Rahim Khan, son of the Shah Nawaz just mentioned. Government confirmed the jagir in perpetuity in the same shares after reducing the alum proceeds item to a sixth. When the mutiny broke out, the Khans again came forward and did right good service both in the neighbourhood of Delhi and in the district, for which they were rewarded with special life jagirs and pensions. Below is their genealogical tree, omitting the common surname "Khan":

  1. Khan Zaman
    1. Ahmad
    2. Muhammad
      1. Muhammad Alam (died 1877)
        1. Abdul Samad
      2. Shah Nawaz (died 1848)
        1. Abdul Rahim
      3. Muhammad Ayaz
      4. Muhammad Sarfaraz
      5. Abdullah
      6. Zulfikar
        1. Rab Nawaz
        2. Sahibdad
        3. Karimdad
      7. Abdul Satar
      8. Abdul Aziz

Of the sons of Muhammad Khan, Nos. 1 to 5 inclusive are by his senior wife, No. 6 by his second wife, and Nos. 7 and 8 by his youngest wife. The children and grandsons by the two latter are all poor and thriftless, whilst those of the senior wife, who are also the eldest, are comparatively rich and thriving. Abdul Samad holds aloof from the rest of the family fancying that he should be recognized as its head. Muhammad Sarfaraz is the ablest and richest man in the family. Besides his Isakhel lands and certain lands in Nar he has a grant in Shahpur, the net profits from which are large. Abdullah is an Extra Assistant Commissioner in Dera Ismail Khan.

Sher Khan of Isakhel

Sher Khan is the sole surviving descendant in the male line of Jangi Khan, grandfather of Khan Zaman named in the last paragraph. His father Hasan Khan was Umar Khan's right hand man. At his death Sher Khan was a child. Grown up he sided with the Sikhs, and did not share in the long exile of the other branch of his house. On their reinstatement Muhammad Khan's sons treated their kinsmen with scant consideration, and in consequence Sher Khan has been their bitter enemy ever since. During the second Sikh war he was shut up in the Bannu fort with Fateh Khan of Tewana, and taken prisoner on its fall, but released after the battle of Gujrat. In the mutiny he did excellent local service as commandant of mounted police, and was rewarded with a pension of Rs. 600 a year. Altogether he now receives an annual pension of Rs. 1,360. He is still an active old man. His whole life has been one long contention. He has been hitherto unable to convert his pension into a land jagir, and in the recent settlement some of the fruits of his former deeds have been lost to him. He leaves no male issue. His only daughter is married to the Abdul Rahim mentioned in the last paragraph.

Malik or Chief of the Kalabagh Awans

This is an Awan family which has been rooted at Kalabagh for upwards of two hundred years. The immediate progenitor was one Sheikh Adu, who nine generations ago is said to have settled on the barren rock of Dang Kot, a natural fortress on the left bank of the Indus a few miles up-stream from Kalabagh. His grandson Band Ali is supposed in the family to have founded Kalabagh. In any case he made himself strong there, and he and each of his successors derived a good income from the neighbouring salt mines, making alum, levying toll at the ferry, and latterly from judicial fines on the Bangi Khels. At the first approach of the Sikh power to the Indus the then chief declared his allegiance, and benefited largely in consequence. The countenance of the Sikhs enabled him to strengthen and extend the hold he had lately acquired on the cis-Indus lands of what are now the villages of Masan and Niki. In the second Sikh war Malik Allahyar Khan the then chief did us useful service in Bannu proper. In the Mutiny his son with a number of followers served in Peshawar for nine months. Allahyar Khan died in 1863, when Government consolidated the family jagir until then held for life, and made it perpetual. The present chief Mozaffar Khan is a "Khan Bahadur," and exempt from personal attendance in the civil courts. His annual jagir income is now worth as follows:

  1. Lands in Isakhel = Rs. 670
  2. Masan and Bannu in Mianwali = Rs. 5,520
  3. Alum proceeds in Kalabagh = Rs. 4,500
  4. Miscellaneous = Rs. 310

Total = Rs 11,000

In 1865, the above were estimated to be worth Rs. 14,000 a year, but although in the recent Settlement the assigned land revenue has risen from Rs. 4,926 to Rs. 6,190, the net jagir income has diminished owing to the smaller profits now derived from the alum manufactory.

For the last three or four generations the eldest son has in each case succeeded to all the property left by his father, so that now primogeniture is the recognized custom of the family, and younger sons are only entitled to a fitting maintenance. The chance of two eldest sons in succession being both able men, and the estate not devolving until they had attained middle age, enabled first the one and then the other in Sikh times to exclude his younger brothers from their share, and warranted us in considering the rule of primo-geniture so established. On annexation the cadets of the family sought to obtain in our law courts what they conceived were their rights, but though the age of law had succeeded that of brute force, none of the claimants succeeded in getting more than a maintenance allowance decreed him. Thus, as may be supposed, they are very hostile to the head of their house, to whom they now stand in the position of humble but sullen dependants.

Mians of Mianwali

Mian Ali, who founded Mianwali in Ghakar times, is said to have been a holy man from Baghdad. He gained ascendancy over the Pathan settlers in the country by encouraging them to throw off the yoke of the Ghakars. His promises of success were fulfilled, and the Ghakars were driven out of the country about the middle of the last century. His son Sultan Zakaria was spiritual guide of the peasantry for many years, and is credited with having possessed miraculous gifts. To him succeeded his son Muhammad Ali, a less known man. In 1847 Muhammad Ali's three sons, Chirigh Ali, Murad Wand (or Ali), and Ghaus Ali were in power, and rendered Lieutenant H. Edwardes valuable assistance in settling a blood feud which had until then cost many lives annually. From that time the family exerted all its influence on our side. After annexation an investigation into its revenue-free holdings was made, and continued until, in 1864, revenue to the amount of Rs. 1,200 a year was released in equal shares to the three heads of the house, with the condition attached that each grant was "to be reconsidered on the death of the representative of that branch." By mistake the sanction has hitherto been taken as equivalent to a perpetuity grant. The genealogical tree is as follows:

  1. Sultan Zakaria
    1. Ali Muhammad
      1. Chiragh Ali
        1. Mohsin Ali
          1. Sultan Ali
        2. Mahar Ali
          1. Sher Ali
      2. Murad Ali
        1. Bahadur Ali
          1. Ali Sher
          2. Ali Ahmad
          3. Ali Haider
        2. Eid Ali
        3. Ali Nur
      3. Ghaus Ali
        1. Sharaf Ali
        2. Maksud Ali
        3. Hasan Ali
        4. Karam Ali
        5. Dost Ali
        6. Sahib Ali

The present heads of the family are the three men whose names appear in italics. They alone are on the provincial darbar list. All the members of the family have hitherto shared in the maafi as though it were an ancestral estate. Sultan Ali who represents the eldest branch, received Rs. 100 inam in the recent Settlement. His ancestor Sultan Zakaria's shrine also received a small endowment of Rs. 15, and his handsome new mosque one of Rs. 10 a year. He is the only thriving man in the family. Ali Niur is fairly well off, and enhances his income by selling amulets and by breathing on the sick (dam durud). Most of the other Mians, though desperately poor, are yet so impressed with their own dignity as to be above honest work This is unfortunate, as the family is prolific, and the physique of its numbers is good.