Vigne was born on 1 September 1801 at Walthamstow, then in Essex, the eldest son of Thomas Vigne. He entered Harrow School in 1817. He became a barrister in 1824, and was a member of Lincoln's Inn.
In 1831 Vigne left England for Persia, and then travelled to India. He spent the next seven years travelling in north west India and Central Asia. Between 1835 and 1838 he travelled extensively in Kashmir and Ladakh, and was the first European known to have visited Baltistan. He was the first to describe Nanga Parbat.
After 1852 Vigne travelled in Mexico, Nicaragua, the West Indies and the United States.
He published several books describing his travels.
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