Sir Henry Yule (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 FriarJordanus. He was also the compiler of a dictionary of Anglo-Indian terms, the Hobson-Jobson along with Arthur Coke Burnell.
Henry was born at Inveresk, Scotland, near Edinburgh and was the youngest son of Major William Yule (1764–1839), translator of the Apothegms of Ali the son of Abu Talib. The Yules were farmers at Dirleton in East Lothian and the name may be of Scandinavian origin. Henry's mother was Elizabeth Paterson (d. c. 1827) of Braehead in Ayrshire. An older brother was (later Sir) George Udny Yule (1813–1886) who was father of the statistician Udny Yule (1871–1951). Another brother, Robert (1817–1857), died in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 in Delhi.
Henry Yule was educated at Edinburgh, and later studied under Henry Parr Hamilton and James Challis. His fellow students were John Mason Neale and Harvey Goodwin. After a brief period at University College London, Yule entered Addiscombe Military Seminary (1837–8), followed by the Royal Engineers Establishment at Chatham, Kent. He obtained his commission in December 1838, and joined the Bengal Engineers in 1840.
His first posting was in the Khasi Hills where the mission was to establish transport of coal to the plains. He was fascinated by the region and wrote an account of its people. He returned to England in 1843 and married his cousin Anna Maria (d. 1875), daughter of Martin White. She accompanied him back to India but returned owing to ill health. He was posted to enquire on 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). He left India in 1848 to live in Edinburgh with his wife, and for three years lectured at the Scottish Military Academy. He wrote a volume on forts (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 Colonel Arthur Phayre's mission to Ava, Burma, in 1855. During this period he published Narrative of the Mission to the Court of Ava (1858) 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 work.
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 CB 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 gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. 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 Skipwith.
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.
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 Anglo-Indian words and phrases which continues to provide an insight into the language used in British India.
Yule was awarded an honorary LL.D. from Edinburgh 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 in 1889.
For a full list see Cordier & Yule (1903).
- Yule, Henry (1851). Fortification for officers of the army and students of military history. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons.
- 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 & Co.
- Yule, Henry, ed. and trans. (1863). Mirabilia descripta: the wonders of the East. London: Hakuyt Society.
- 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
- Yule, Henry; Burnell, A.C. (1903). Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. William Crooke ed. London: J. Murray. (Searchable database)
- Yule, Henry (1903). The Book of Ser Marco Polo (2 Volumes) (3rd ed.). London: John Murray. Volume 1; Volume 2.
- Yule, Henry (1913). Cathay and the way thither: being a collection of medieval notices of China (4 Volumes). London: Hakluyr Society. Volume 1; Volume 2; Volume 3; Volume 4.
- Cordier, A. F.; Yule (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. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30291.
- 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. The book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East (3rd ed.). London: John Murray. pp. xxvii–lxxi.
- 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). Scottish Geographical Magazine 6 (2): 93–98. doi:10.1080/14702549008554694. Missing or empty
- 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. The linked scan is missing the last two pages.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- "Yule, Henry". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Works by Henry Yule at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Henry Yule at Internet Archive (search optimized for the non-Beta site)
- Works by Henry Yule at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)