What is the meaning of "Malcolmite." in the following text?

Edward Ingram's In Defence of British India should be mentioned as one of the most extraordinary examples of the deliberate ignoring of the whole episode of the massacre in the Russian mission. The author describes in great detail the conflict between the Malcolmite MacDonald, Griboedov's British counterpart, and the Harfordians Willock and McNeill. He even lists Harden's publication on Griboedov in the bibliography; however, his name is never mentioned in the narrative. Instead of at least mentioning the reason why Griboedov's successor, Count Simonich, arrived in Persia with a reinforced entourage, in the context of the tragic story in the Russian mission, Ingram explains it by “the fallacy of MacDonald's claim that he needed only one assistant,” by means of which MacDonald tried to get rid of his nasty subordinates. It seems that this happened because this extremely biased book was written by the most consistent and aggressive anti-Malcolmite.

Malcolm was brother-in-law of John Kinneir MacDonald. I think Malcolmite is an adjective, but I am not sure. If so, anti-Malcolmite should be enemy of Malcolm? or "Malcolmite MacDonald" should means MacDonald inclined to Malcolm!

  • 1
    Apparently MacDonald (whoever that was) was a Malcolmite (whatever that meant). I guess a Malcolmite would be a follower or adherent of "Malcolm" (whoever that was). And an anti-Malcolmite would be the opposing side. – GEdgar Jan 19 at 16:05
  • Hello, Arya. While this is obviously word-related, it would be a better fit on History.SE (they use words there too! They even have a 'terminology' tag.) / If the requirements there are as tight as those here, they will expect you to have looked up 'Malcolmite' yourself first. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 19 at 16:12
  • "Malcolmite" has been used to refer to a follower of Malcolm X, but I doubt that that is the correct meaning above. – Hot Licks Jan 19 at 19:26
  • The 'Malcomites' and 'Harfordians' seem to have been factions or at least groups of people with contrasting views on the way to govern India. The Malcomites would have supported the policy of someone called Malcom and the Harfordians would have supported that of someone called Harford (or possibly Lord Harford). The contention of the writer of the quote (who, presumably had sympathy with Malcom) is that the book was written by someone who did not (by implication that Ingram was a Harfordian or neo-Harfordian). – BoldBen Jan 20 at 8:16

Both Malcolmite and anti-Malcolmite are nouns. One refers to followers and supporters of Sir John Malcolm, a British envoy in Persia in the late 1820s, and the other to opponents of Malcolm. "The Malcolmite MacDonald" is Malcolm's brother-in-law, John MacDonald, who, not surprisingly, is a supporter of Malcolm. Edward Ingram, on the other hand, is said to be a modern-day anti-Malcolmite; according to the quoted text, he wrote an "extremely biased book" that was highly critical of Malcolm—but he did so in 1984, more than 150 years after the historical events that Malcolm was involved in (Malcolm died in 1833).

All of the background information I have just provided comes from the article that the poster cited: Firuza Melville, "Alexander Sergeevich Griboedov: Russian Imperial James Bond Malgré lui. In Memory of the 225th Anniversary of His Birth," in Rudi Matthee & Elena Andreeva, Russians in Iran: Diplomacy and Power in the Qajar Era and Beyond (2018). You can read seven of the first ten pages of this article in the linked version of the book.

With regard to the English suffix -ite as used in the terms Malcolmite and anti-Malcolmite, Michael Quinion, Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and Endings (2002) offers this relevant entry:

-ite Forming nouns. {French -ite, via Latin -ita from Greek -ītes.} Some examples are the names of an inhabitant of a place or country: Canaanite, Israelite, Muscovite, Seattleite. Others refer to a follower of a movement or doctrine, especially one marked by -ISM: Hitlerite, Jacobite, Labourite, Luddite, Thatcherite, Pre-Raphaelite, Shiite, Trotskyite.

Quinion goes on to discuss other uses of the -ite suffix in English, but for present purposes the "follower" sense of -ite is the relevant one. Evidently, Firuza Melville thinks that Malcolmism and anti-Malcolmism constitute sufficiently coherent political or sociopolitical orientations to have attracted adherents—Malcolmites and anti-Malcolmites.

With regard to the phrase "the Malcolmite MacDonald," the words "the Malcolmite" are certainly being used to characterize MacDonald, but this construction is not syntactically different from referring to him as, say, "the diplomat MacDonald": like diplomat, Malcolmite is essentially a noun being put to work in apposition to another noun. Still, it is true that Malcolmite could be used as a pure adjective, as in the phrase "Malcolmite sympathies"; there, the sympathies are not themselves Malcolmites, so the term Malcolmite is functioning entirely as an adjective modifying sympathies, to indicate what kind they are.

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  • Thanks very much.my problems was solved. – Arya Jan 26 at 14:48

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