Henry Yule KCSI (1 May 1820 – 30 December 1889) was a Scottish
Orientalist. He published many travel books, including translations of
the work of
Marco Polo and Mirabilia by the 14th century Dominican
Friar Jordanus. He was also the compiler of a dictionary of
Anglo-Indian terms, the Hobson-Jobson, along with Arthur Coke Burnell.
1 Early life
3 Retirement in Europe
5 Selected publications
8 Further reading
9 External links
Henry Yule was born at
Scotland on 1 May
1820. He was the youngest son of Major William Yule (1764–1839) and
his wife Elizabeth Paterson (died circa 1827). William Yule had served
as an officer in the
Bengal army of the
East India Company
East India Company and had
retired in 1806. He was interested in Arabic and Persian literature
and collected early manuscripts. These were later donated by his sons
to the British Museum. He translated the Apothegms of
Ali the son
of Abu Talib (referring to Ali, the successor to Mohammed, the prophet
of Islam; the obscure English word "apothegm" refers to short pithy
sayings, see hadith.)
Yule's mother died before he was eight and William moved to Edinburgh
with his sons. Yule attended the Royal High School and then in 1833
was sent to be coached by the Reverend Henry Hamilton at his rectory
in the village of Wath near
Ripon in North Yorkshire. When Hamilton
moved to Cambridge in the following year Yule was transferred to the
care of the Reverend James Challis, at
Papworth Everard near
Cambridge. The other resident pupils were John Neale and Harvey
Goodwin. (Neale co-founded the Society of Saint Margaret, an order of
women in the
Church of England
Church of England dedicated to nursing the sick, while
Goodwin became Bishop of Carlisle.) Yule's stay at Papworth Everard
ended in 1826 when Challis was appointed Plumian Professor of
Astronomy and moved to the Observatory in Cambridge.
After a brief period at University College London, Yule entered the
East India Military College at
followed by the Royal Engineers Establishment at Chatham, Kent. He
obtained his commission in December 1838, and joined the Bengal
Engineers in 1840.
Both of Henry's brothers worked in India. The eldest, George Udny Yule
(1813–1886), worked in the
Bengal civil service. The other brother,
Robert (1817–1857), died near
Delhi during the Indian Rebellion.
Udny Yule was the son of George and thus the nephew
The main pass, Aden by Yule, drawn in January 1844 during his return
journey to India.
Yule arrived in
Calcutta at the end of 1840. His first posting was in
the Khasi Hills, a remote area to the northeast of
Bengal in the
modern state of Meghalaya. His mission was to establish a practical
method of transporting coal to the plains. In this he was unsuccessful
but he became fascinated by the region and wrote an account of its
people. In 1842 he was transferred to a team of engineers led by
Captain (later General) William Baker charged with the construction of
irrigation canals. Their headquarters were at Karnal, 130 km
(81 mi) to the north of Delhi.
He returned to England in 1843 and married his cousin Anna Maria
(d. 1875), daughter of Major-General Martin White of the Bengal
Infantry (d. 1856). In November 1843 she accompanied him back to
India but returned owing to ill health. He was appointed to a
committee charged with investigating the relationship between
irrigation by the proposed
Ganges Canal and its impact on public
health in the area. He served in both the
Sikh wars (1845-6 and
1848-9). In 1849 he took three years of extended leave and returned to
Edinburgh with his wife. He lectured at the Scottish Naval and
Military Academy and wrote a volume on fortifications (1851).
A daughter, Amy, was born in 1852 and shortly after her birth, Yule
returned to Bengal. He worked in Arakan and
Burma and was put in
charge of a new railway system. This was interrupted by a posting as a
secretary to Colonel Arthur Phayre's mission to Ava, Burma, in 1855.
In 1858 he published his account of this journey, Narrative of the
Mission to the Court of Ava with illustrations. The 1857 rebellion
made his life difficult, and although Yule was close to the governor
generals Lord Dalhousie and Lord Canning, he lost interest in his
Retirement in Europe
Yule retired in 1862, and Canning's death in that year made it
difficult for him to find any official appointment in London. In 1863
he was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath through the
influence of Sir Roderick Murchison. He devoted his leisure to the
medieval history and geography of Central Asia. His wife became
unwell, and they crossed Europe to settle in Palermo, Sicily. He made
use of the richly stocked public libraries there during this period.
He published Cathay and the Way Thither (1866), and the Book of Marco
Polo (1871), for which he received the Founder's Gold Medal of the
Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society the following year. After his wife's
death in 1875, Yule returned to England where he was appointed to the
Council of India. Yule remarried in 1877, his new wife Mary Wilhelmina
(died 26 April 1881) the daughter of a
Bengal civil servant, Fulwar
Yule was a member, and from 1877 to 1889 President, of the Hakluyt
Society. He was also vice-president of the Royal Geographical Society
(1887–9), and would have become a president but for a protest that
he led along with
Henry Hyndman against Henry Morton Stanley. The
Society wanted to welcome Stanley but Yule stood against the violent
methods used in Africa. One of his heroes, on the other hand, was
Garnet Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley.
For the Hakluyt Society, Yule edited the Mirabilia Descripta (1863), a
translation of the travels of the 14th century Friar Jordanus, and
The Diary of William Hedges (3 vols, 1887–89). The latter contains a
biography of Governor Pitt, grandfather of William Pitt, 1st Earl of
Chatham. He contributed introductions to Nikolay Przhevalsky's
Mongolia (1876) and Captain William Gill's The River of Golden Sand
(1880). He wrote biographical notes for the Royal Engineers' Journal,
and many geographical entries in the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Yule's most popular work, compiled with Arthur C. Burnell, was the
Hobson-Jobson (1886), a historical dictionary of
and phrases which continues to provide an insight into the language
used in British India.
Yule died at his home in Earls Court, London, on 30 December 1889 aged
69, and is buried at Tunbridge Wells.
Yule was awarded an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) from Edinburgh
University in 1884 and served as royal commissioner for the Colonial
and Indian Exhibition of 1886. He was created Knight Commander of the
Order of the Star of India
Order of the Star of India in 1889.
For a full list see Cordier & Yule (1903).
Yule, Henry (1842). "Notes on the iron of the Khasia Hills, for the
Museum of Economic Geography". Journal of the Asiatic Society of
Bengal. 11 Part 2, Jul-Dec (129): 853–857.
Yule, Henry (1844). "Notes on the Khasia Hills, and people". Journal
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 14 Part 2, Jul-Dec (152):
Yule, Henry (1851). Fortification for officers of the army and
students of military history. Edinburgh: William Blackwood &
Yule, Henry (1858). A narrative of the mission sent by the
governor-general of India to the court of Ava in 1855, with notices of
the country, government, and people. London: Smith, Elder &
Yule, Henry, ed. and trans. (1863). Mirabilia descripta: the wonders
of the East. London: Hakuyt Society.
Yule, Henry, ed. (1866). Cathay and the way thither: being a
collection of medieval notices of China (2 Volumes). London: Hakluyr
Society. Scans from Google: Volume 1, Volume 2. Scans from the
Digital Silk Road Project: Volume 1, Volume 2
Yule, Henry, ed. (1871). The Book of Ser
Marco Polo (2 Volumes).
London: John Murray. Volume 1, Volume 2.
Yule, Henry, ed. (1887–1889). The diary of William Hedges, esq.
(afterwards Sir William Hedges), during his agency in Bengal : as
well as on his voyage out and return overland (1681-1697). London:
Hakuyt Society. Volume 1; Volume 2; Volume 3 William Hedges was
an administrator of the East India Company
Yule, Henry; Burnell, A.C. (1903) . Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of
Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms,
etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. William Crooke
ed. London: J. Murray. (Searchable database)
Editions revised by Henri Cordier
Yule, Henry; Cordier, Henri, eds. (1903). The Book of Ser Marco Polo
(2 Volumes) (3rd ed.). London: John Murray. Volume 1; Volume 2.
Scans from the Digital Silk Road Project: Volume 1 Volume 2.
Yule, Henry; Cordier, Henri, eds. (1915). Cathay and the way thither:
being a collection of medieval notices of China (4 Volumes) (2nd ed.).
London: Hakluyr Society. Volume 1; Volume 2; Volume 3; Volume 4.
Yule, Henry (1872). "The geography and history of the upper waters of
the Oxus". In Wood, John. A Journey to the Source of the River Oxus
(2nd ed.). London: Murray. pp. xxi–xci.
Przhevalskii, Nikolai Mikhailovich (1876). Mongolia, the Tangut
country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet, being a narrative of
three years' travel in eastern high Asia (2 Volumes). Morgan, E.
Delmar (translator), Yule, Henry (Introduction and Notes ). London: S.
Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington. Volume 1, Volume 2. The
travels of Nikolay Przhevalsky.
^ a b c d e Yule 1903.
^ Vibart 1894, p. 680.
^ Vibart 1894, p. 487.
^ a b c d e Driver 2004.
^ Yule 1844.
^ "The United Service Magazine". Part 3. 1843: 319.
^ "The United Service Magazine". Part 3. 1856: 172.
^ Baker, Dempster & Yule 1868.
^ Yule 1903, pp. xxxvii-xxxviii.
^ Yule 1858.
^ "Medals and Awards: Gold Medal recipients" (PDF). Royal Geographical
Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011.
Retrieved 26 February 2016.
^ Teltscher, Kate (2013). Introduction to new edition of
Hobson-Jobson. OUP. p. xxvii. ISBN 0191645842.
^ Yule 1863.
^ Cordier & Yule 1903.
Baker, W.E.; Dempster, T.E.; Yule, H. (1868). The prevalence of
organic disease of the spleen as a test for detecting malarious
localities in hot climates : being the report of a committee
assembled by general orders Commander-in-Chief, dated the 16th
September 1854. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government
Cordier, H.; Yule, A. F. (1903). "A bibliography of Sir Henry Yule's
writings". In Yule, Henry. The book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian
concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East (3rd ed.). London:
John Murray. pp. lxxv–lxxxii.
Driver, Felix (2004). "Yule, Sir Henry (1820–1889)". Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
Vibart, H.M. (1894). Addiscombe: its heroes and men of note. London:
Archibald Constable. pp. 487–490.
Yule, Amy Frances (1903). "Memoir of Sir Henry Yule". In Yule, Henry;
Cordier, Henri. The book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian concerning
the kingdoms and marvels of the East (3rd ed.). London: John Murray.
Maclagan, Robert (1890). "Obituary: Colonel Sir Henry Yule, K.C.S.I.,
C.B., LL.D., R.E.". Proceedings Royal Geographical Society. new ser.
12: 108–113. JSTOR 1801184.
Morgan, E.D. (1890). "Colonel Sir Henry Yule, K.C.S.I., C.B., LL.D.,
R.E.". Scottish Geographical Magazine. 6 (2): 93–98.
Trotter, Coutts (1891). "Obituary notices: Memoir of Colonel Sir Henry
Yule R.E., C.B., K.C.S.I., LL.D". Proceedings of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh. 17: xliii–lvi. doi:10.1017/s0370164600007197.
Trotter, Coutts (1900). "Yule, Henry". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of
National Biography. 63. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
"India Office Select Material: Prints and drawings collection summary,
Yule, Sir Henry (1820-1889)". British Library. List of 118
drawings by Yule.
Henry Yule at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Henry Yule at Internet Archive
Henry Yule at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
ISNI: 0000 0001 1035 4214
BNF: cb124808767 (data)