Muhammad Hayat Khan

Administrator of British India

Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan, CSI (1833–1901), Khattar was an Indian Muslim administrator who had a distinguished career in British India. He belonged to Wah area of Northern Punjab.

Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan
Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan c.1860s.jpg
Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan, circa 1860s

Early life and careerEdit

Muhammad Hayat Khan was a son of Karam Khan, a Punjabi Muslim chieftain of the Khattar tribe who was against Sikh rule in his area and wished to remove it.

He thus sided with the British East India Company and was killed in 1848. His sons, including Muhammad Hayat, were raised and educated by the British Indian officers like John Nicholson and James Abbott.

He was eventually selected to become Nicholson's orderly and Persian language interpreter. In 1857, when the Indian Mutiny (or First Indian War of Independence) broke out, he accompanied Nicholson and his military force to Delhi to counter the rebels there, who were trying to win over the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II, to their cause.


In September 1857, when John Nicholson was mortally wounded on an assault on Delhi by the British, Muhammad Hayat looked after him until he died.[1] Before dying, Nicholson recommended him to Sir John Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of the Punjab and later its first Governor. Muhammad Hayat was thus given a series of important civil appointments in the Punjab province by the grateful British, and after serving as an Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and then Sessions Judge, he eventually became the first Muslim native to be appointed as a member of the Punjab Legislative Council.[2]

In 1899 he was given a CSI award and given the title of 'Nawab' in recognition of his long and meritorious services to the British Raj.[3] He was also a close friend of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and a firm supporter of the Aligarh Movement for Muslim education, which resulted in the foundation of the MAO College (later Aligarh Muslim University) in India.

Death and legacyEdit

He died in December 1901, at his native village Wah, North Punjab, British India. Two of his sons, Sir Liaqat Hayat and Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan went on to be famous in their own right.[4]


  1. LG Trotter, A Life of John Nicholson, London: John Murray, 1897, p.131, 138
  2. Charles Allen, Soldier-Sahibs:The Men who made the North West Frontier London: Abacus, 2002, p. 337-338
  3. Allen, p.338
  4. Prof Dr Iftikhar H Malik, Sikandar Hayat:A Biography, Islamabad:NIHCR, 1985, Appendix I, p.154