The death in England on Friday of John Ulick
Knatchbull, also known as John Brabourne or the 7th
Lord Brabourne, ends another link between Britain and
Brabourne was born in Bombay in November 1924, a year
after his father the 5th Baron Brabourne was appointed
Governor of the city.
In 1938 the 5th Lord Brabourne spent four months as
India's youngest Viceroy, and young John would later
become the son-in-law of the last Viceroy of India,
Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Lord Brabourne died in 1940, three years after taking
over as Governor of Calcutta.
The Brabourne name lives on in Mumbai thanks to the
Brabourne Stadium. It was built on a piece of land
reclaimed from the sea by the British authorities.
In 1935 Lord Brabourne sold the 90,000 square yards
(known as sub-block no. 2 of the Backbay Reclamation
Scheme) to the Cricket Club of India at the dirt-rate
price of 1 Pound per square yard when the rate the
government was paying for reclaiming the land was
almost ten times as much.
This was done on the understanding that BCCI Secretary
Anthony de Mello would name the stadium after him.
The price was being haggled over until according to De
Mellos own account he went to meet the Governor at
his summer residence at Ganeshkhind near Poona and
told him: Your Excellency, which would you prefer to
accept from sportsmen, money for your government or
immortality for yourself?
The stadium was inaugurated on December 7, 1937 with a
match between CCI and Lord Tennysons XI. Ironically,
by then Brabourne had been transferred to Calcutta.
The first Test match was played here in December 1948
against the West Indies and the last Test was in
February 1973 against the MCC (England).
Until the age of 10, John spoke Hindi fluently. He was
then sent to England to be educated at Eton and
But it was not in cricket that the Governors son
excelled. Rather, he made a name for himself in the
world of cinema. He was producer for numerous famous
movies including Sink the Bismarck! (1960), Death on
the Nile (1978) and A Passage to India (1984).
Directed by David Lean, Passage based on the novel by
EM Forster--won two Oscars and was nominated for nine
Brabournes links with India were cemented by his
marriage to the elder of Lord Mountbattens two
daughters Patricia in 1946 (the younger was named
India) and they stayed married for nearly 60 years.
They nearly lost their lives in the devastating IRA
bomb attack on a boat in Ireland in 1979 which killed
Lord Mountbatten, Brabournes mother and one of his
twin sons and severely wounded him and the rest of the
Brabourne is survived by his wife and six children.