Treaties of friendship and protection between the British government and Sultanates and Sheikhdoms of South Yemen

By Ahmed Bashi ,

Hom Brenham

Treaty signed on September 6th, 1802 between Sultan Ahmed Abdul Karim of Lahj and the British ambassador Sir Hom Brenham

This agreement was held at the behest of the Marquis Wellesley, a parliament member of the British state entrusted with the work of Britain’s holdings in East India by his deputy, Sir Hom Brenham with Sultan Ahmed Abdul Karim, Sultan of Lahj through his representative Prince Ahmed Bashi to forge and consolidate friendship, goodwill and the establishment and reinforcement of commercial transactions between the two parties.

First condition:

Trade Continuation would be between the East India Company and British nationals who are allowed to conduct business transactions by the general governor of India and between the nationals of the Sultan Ahmed Abdel Karim

Second condition:

The Sultan accepts making the Port of Aden, open to all imported goods on English vessels and to take customs duties on goods and trade-listed goods at 2% percent for no more than a period of ten years, it is not agreed for the Sultan nor his subordinates to receive any other fees, for anchorage, or in terms of customs.

Third condition

After the lapse of ten years mentioned above, the Sultan has the right to increase fees to 3% percent, but it is not agreed for his heirs and successors to increase it. And if any condition gets breached friendly relations and commercial transactions remain with the British nation, and, accordingly, the Sultan pledges not to impose any other fees, whether customs fee or for anchorage.

Fourth condition

The payment of customs duty  mentioned above is to be paid 2% percent for the stated period of ten years, and then 3% percent after the expiration of the term depending on the exported goods from Aden from the Sultan country’s crops or by the surrounding countries.

Fifth condition

If the above company or a British national bought goods from Aden city or its port and the goods were imported from Africa or Ethiopia or any other country that doesn’t belong to the Sultan, then the Sultan does not have to pay them any fees, as the fees due on them may be paid when it descends to Aden, so the Sultan may be satisfied not to impose any additional customs tax to it.

Sixth condition

British nationals have the full freedom in their business transactions and are not forced to direct their business by a person, or persons, or broker, or an interpreter, but of their own will – and have the freedom to work without being under the pressure of the Sultan.

Seventh condition

British nationals are entitled to hand over their money according to their choice without any coercion, whether these nationals are sick, or healthy.

If a person dies, all his wealth, after payment of debt, is submitted to the Sultan’s nationals or to the Governor of Aden, who in turn sends it to the appropriate sources for the benefit of the deceased’s family and his legal heirs.

Eighth condition

A Register must be allocated to identify the names of British nationals living in Aden and to recognize each certificate registered in the office of the judge and the Governor of Aden to prevent each conflict or claim of Europeans, or other foreign nationals.

Any name not registered does not receive the privilege of the seventh condition.

Ninth condition

The benefits resulting from the seventh condition include traders, travelers and the officers entrusted with monitoring all ships and naval vessels that travel under the British flag, whether died with a last will and testament or not.

Tenth condition

The Sultan Pledges on his own behalf and on behalf of his heirs and his successors to make the assistance through his power to collect the debt to nationals of the British under the protection of his nationals if it was proved to the judge.

And the judge is entitled to submit the case to order the records of the debtor and sell it for the benefit of the creditor after three months. And if the debtor is a British national then the judge has to jail him till procedures that satisfy the British government has to be undertaken.

Eleventh condition

If any conflict occurs between registered British nationals, a claim is to be raised to Aden’s Governor, who will undertake procedures followed in his country. The governor’s ruling will be effective in each case that doesn’t exceed 2000 Riyals, and if more than that they can appeal to the Government of India.

If both sides were not satisfied with the ruling then the judge has the right to imprison him as requested by the governor. The purpose is to fully support the system and the agreement between the registered British nationals and nationals of the Sultan.

Twelfth Condition

All disputes between British nationals and nationals of the Sultan are resolved under the laws of local assessments.

Thirteenth condition

The Sultan may give the British state a land west of the city for use and the company may build homes and undertake developing the spot where appropriate. The Sultan is committed to prevent any building for a distance of about twenty cubits in front of the sight and fifteen cubits on any other side.

Fourteenth condition:

The British have the right to enter the city from any entrance, and ride horses, mules and donkeys Etc., without  contempt or any objection or  insult.

Fifteenth condition

If a person escapes from the State’s soldiers and is a non-Muslims national and seeks refuge with a judge or to any prince from the government

and is requested to convert to Islam, the judge is to send an official statement to the British authorities.

If the judge didn’t receive the governor’s statement within three days, then judge or the Prince may act based on his opinion in dealing with said person.

Sixteenth condition

The Sultan allocates a land for free for the burial of British nationals who die within his borders, where they do not pay anything except for burial expenses.

Seventeenth condition

Any article beyond this Treaty that is proposed by one of the parties in this agreement may be considered attached to this Treaty.

The representative of the British state is prepared to accept any opinion that might be expressed by the Sultan and submit it to the superior, competent authorities, and to buy any amount of coffee or deliver any goods at agreed upon prices.

These seventeen conditions were reached through consent from both parties and therefore the original Arabic text was stamped by the Sultan

and signed by the British representative on the English copy on the military boat “Rani” on the way to Aden.

September 6th, 1802 AD.


Ahmed Bashi

Hom Brenham