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Abraham, Roy Clive (1890–1963), scholar of African languages and colonial administrator, was born on 16 December 1890 in Melbourne, Australia, the second son of Isaac Abraham (1849-1918) and his wife Amy nee Soloman (b. 1861). From a Jewish background, he studied at ...

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Bell, Sir Charles Alfred (1870–1945), administrator in India and Tibetologist, was born in Fort William, Calcutta, on 31 October 1870, the third son of Henry Bell, of the Indian Civil Service, and his wife, Anne, daughter of George Dumbell, of Douglas, Isle of Man...

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Crawfurd, John (1783–1868), orientalist and colonial administrator, was born on 13 August 1783 on the island of Islay, Inner Hebrides, the son of Samuel Crawfurd, a medical doctor from Ayrshire, and his wife, Margaret, née Campbell, whose family owned a small estate on the island. At the village school in ...

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Cust, Robert Needham (1821–1909), East India Company servant and orientalist, was born at Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire, on 24 February 1821, the second son of Henry Cockayne Cust (1780–1861), canon of Windsor, and his wife, Lady Anna Maria Elizabeth (d. 1866), eldest daughter of ...

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Davis, Sir John Francis, first baronet (1795–1890), colonial governor and Chinese scholar, born in London on 16 July 1795, was the eldest son in the family of four sons and seven daughters of Samuel Davis (1760–1819), magistrate of Benares and a director of the ...

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Davis, Samuel (1760–1819), East India Company servant and orientalist, was born in the West Indies, the younger son of John Davis, who held the post there of commissary-general, and his Welsh wife (née Phillips). He went to England with his mother and two sisters after the death of his father. Despite the evident poverty of the family, ...

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Fenton, Sir Geoffrey (c. 1539–1608), translator and administrator in Ireland, was one of seven children (six sons, one daughter) of Henry Fenton from Stretton-le-Steeple in Nottinghamshire and Cicely, daughter of John Beaumont of Coleorton, Leicestershire. Little is known of Fenton's early life, but, as he acknowledges in his first published work, he travelled extensively, possibly to ...

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Fraser, James (1712/13–1754), East India Company servant and collector of oriental manuscripts, was the second son of Alexander Fraser (d. 1733) of Reelig, near Inverness, and his wife, Catherine, daughter of Hugh Fraser of Belladrum. Fraser was appointed a writer to the ...

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Gilbert, (Arthur) Stuart Ahluwalia Stronge (1883–1969), Indian civil servant, translator, and literary scholar, was born on 25 October 1883 in Kelvedon Hatch, near Brentwood, Essex, the only child of Major Arthur Stronge Gilbert, retired army officer, and his wife, Melvina, née Rundiher Singh Ahluwalia...

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Harington, John Herbert (1764/5–1828), administrator in India and Persian scholar, obtained a writership in the East India Company's service in Bengal in 1780 and in 1781 was made assistant in the revenue department. By 1783 he had mastered Persian sufficiently to be appointed Persian translator to the ...

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Jarvis, Claude Scudamore (1879–1953), colonial governor, born at Forest Gate, London, on 20 July 1879, was the son of John Bradford Jarvis, an insurance clerk, and his wife, Mary Harvey. He does not seem to have been educated with any profession in mind, and at the age of seventeen he joined the merchant navy as an apprentice, sailing from ...

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Claude Scudamore Jarvis (1879–1953) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London / Country Life Picture Library

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Johnston, Sir Reginald Fleming (1874–1938), colonial administrator and Sinologist, was born at Goshen House, Jordan Lane, Morningside, Edinburgh, on 31 October 1874, the second of three children of Robert Fleming Johnston (1840–1902), writer to the signet, and Isabella Anne Catherine, née Irving (1853–1916)...

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Lyall, Sir Charles James (1845–1920), administrator in India and orientalist, was born in London on 9 March 1845, the eldest son of Charles Lyall, banker, of Stoke Green, near Slough, and his wife, Harriet, daughter of John Matheson of Attadale, Ross-shire. He was educated in ...

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Morrison, John Robert (1814–1843), interpreter and colonial official, was born on 17 April 1814 in Macau, the third of eight children of the Revd Dr Robert Morrison (1782–1834), missionary and Sinologue, of Morpeth and Newcastle, and the third child of his first wife, ...

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Muir, Sir William (1819–1905), administrator in India and Islamicist, born on 27 April 1819 in Glasgow, was the youngest child of William Muir (1783–1820), a Glasgow merchant, and his wife, Helen Macfie (1784–1866), of Ayrshire. The Sanskrit scholar John Muir (1810–1882) was his eldest brother. Widowed in 1820, his mother took her four surviving sons and four daughters to ...

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Purcell, Victor William Williams Saunders (1896–1965), colonial administrator and historian, was born on 26 January 1896, the son, and apparently the only child, of Victor Adolphus Purcell (1863–1951), clerk in the Royal Navy, and his wife, Harriett Eva, née Saunders. He was educated at ...

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Storrs, Sir Ronald Henry Amherst (1881–1955), colonial governor and Middle Eastern specialist, was born at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on 19 November 1881, the eldest son of the Revd John Storrs (c.1825–1928), who at the time was vicar of St Peter's, Eaton Square, London...

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Sir Ronald Henry Amherst Storrs (1881–1955) by John Singer Sargent, 1920 © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

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Wilkinson, Richard James (1867–1941), colonial administrator and Malay scholar, was born on 29 May 1867 at Salonika, the eldest son of the British consul, Richard Wilkinson (d. 1894), and his wife, Jane Whittall. He spent much of his boyhood in Spain, where his father was consul at ...