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William Hornby

Born: ?
Died: 1803, Hook, Fareham Borough, Hampshire

William Hornby, governor of Bombay till 1784, is best remembered by the Vellard north of Cumballa Hill which was constructed at his behest against the wishes of the East India Company. One of the first large works of civil engineering in the city, it transformed the geography of the islands by opening up the low-lying marshy areas of Mahalaxmi and Kamathipura for inhabitation on its completion in 1784.

He was also the first governor to move his official residence from the Fort area to Parel. In a sense, this was also to change the demographics of the city by starting a northward move.

An intriguing dead-end of information is the statement attributed to John Murray, that "The Hornby diamond, brought from the East Indies by the Hon. William Hornby, governor of Bombay, in 1775, weighs 36 carats, and is now, I believe, the property of the Shah of Persia."

William Hornby returned to England in 1783, when the government granted him land in the medieval village of Hook in Hampshire. He set out to build a country mansion built in the style of the Government House in Bombay and removed the remains of a medieval village to create a parkland for himself. He died in this country house in 1803.