Richard Carnac Temple

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Richard Carnac Temple

Sir Richard Carnac Temple, 2nd Baronet CIE (15 October 1850, Allahabad, India –1931[1]) was the British Chief Commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and an anthropological writer.

Early Years[edit]

Born at Allahabad on 15 October 1850, he was the eldest son of Sir Richard Temple, Baronet, who died in 1902, by his wife, Charlotte Frances, daughter of Benjamin Martindale, who died in 1855. Temple was educated at Harrow School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1871.[2][3]

Army and political career[edit]

He then joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers as an Ensign in 1871, being promoted in the same year. He was transferred to the Bengal Staff Corps, afterwards the Indian Army, in 1877, serving at various times with the 38th Dogras and the 1st Gurkhas. Shortly after being transferred to the Indian Army he saw active service in the Afghan Campaign of 1878 and 1879, serving in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, being mentioned in despatches and awarded the medal. He was promoted Captain in 1883, and holding this rank served throughout the Third Burmese War.[4] Immediately after the war, he was appointed as an Assistant-Commissioner in Burma and a Cantonment Magistrate in the newly conquered city of Mandalay and was promoted to Deputy-Commissioner in 1888.

In 1887 he raised and commanded, until 1890, the Upper Burmah Volunteer Rifles, and at the request of the Government, raised the Rangoon Naval Volunteers in 1892, whilst he commanded the Rangoon Volunteer Artillery from 1891 until 1893. Sir Richard, who also raised the Rangoon Port Defence Volunteers (Naval, Artillery and Engineer) in 1893, was Honorary Lieut.-Col. of the Rangoon Volunteer Artillery and Port Defence Volunteers.

Sir Richard was gazetted to the rank of Major in 1891.

His first experience of Civil Service was in 1879 as Cantonment Magistrate in the Punjab. In 1887 he was appointed Assistant-Commissioner in Burmah and Cantonment Magistrate at Mandalay, being promoted to the rank of Deputy-Commissioner in 1888. Whilst on special duty to the Government of India in 1890, Sir Richard framed the code of Cantonment Regulations and reported on the Local Taxation of Railways, receiving the thanks of the Government.

From the year 1891 until 1894 he acted as Official President of the Rangoon Municipality, as Port-Commissioner at Rangoon. In 1894 he was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Superintendent of the Penal Settlement at Port Blair. The ethnology and languages of these islanders, as well as of the Nicabarese, were elaborately described by Sir Richard in the Census Report for India, 1901. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1897, he retired in 1904.


Temple was an amateur anthropologist.[5] He assembled collections for the British Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and established a small museum in his home in Kempsey, Worcestershire, but sold much of this on in 1921.[6] He was an early member of the Folklore Society, amongst the papers he published in its journal was the seminal 1886 paper "The science of folk-lore".[7]

He was a member of the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Philological Society, the Folklore Society, the Hakluyt Society, and the Royal Anthropological Institute. He was a Silver Medalist of the Royal Society of Arts. He was sometime President of the Bombay Anthropological Society, of the Smithsonian Institute, and of the Numismatic Society of Philadelphia. He is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

Selected works[edit]

Temple wrote various works often dealing with the religions and geography of India.[8]

His first literary effort was "The Andaman Language," published in conjunction with Mr. E. H. Man, C.I.E., in 1887. Seven years later in collaboration with Mrs. Flora Annie Steel, an Anglo-Indian novelist, he wrote "Wideawake Stories," a collection of Indian Folk-Tales. Later he was responsible for the production of "Legends of the Punjab", in the vernacular with translation, in three volumes, which were published between 1883 and 1890, and "The Thirty-Seven Nats," a study of Animism in Burma, in 1906, a highly illustrated volume ; edited Fallon's "Dictionary of Hindustani Proverbs" from 1885 to 1887, and Burnell's "Devil-Worship of the Tuluvas" in 1897. Sir Richard was also editor for the Hakluyt Society, from the original manuscripts of two works of seventeenth century travels :- Bowrey's Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, 1669-1679, and Peter Mundy's Travels, 1608-1620, and was editor and proprietor of the "Indian Antiquary" since 1884. He founded and edited Punjab Notes and Queries from 1883 until 1887.

Later career[edit]

He was appointed a member of the Home Departmental Committee to enquire into the Status of Baronets, was Deputy Chairman of the Military Home Hospital Reserve, Assistant-Director and Deputy-Chairman of the St. John Ambulance Association, and Chairman of the Worcester County Association under the new Territorial Forces Act.

Sir Richard was a Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. He inherited the Temple Baronetcy of the Nash in 1902.[9]


He married in 1880 Agnes Fanny Searle, second daughter of Major-General George Archimedes Searle. Mrs Temple (later Lady Temple) was in August 1901 appointed a Lady of Grace of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England (DGStJ).[10]

They had two daughters and a son and heir, Richard Durand (1880-1962), who was educated at Harrow, and held a Lieutenancy in the 60th Rifles, with which he served in the South African War, and won the Queen's medal with four clasps." He became 3rd Baronet.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Temple, Richard Carnac (TML868RC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ Worcester Leaders: Social and Political' (text unknown, but not modern)
  4. ^ Obituary: Sir Richard Carnac Temple, The Geographical Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1931.
  5. ^ Relational Museum Collector Information
  6. ^ Biography from the Brighton & Hove Museum.
  7. ^ Petch, Alison. "Richard Carnac Temple". England: the other within. Pitt Rivers Museum. Retrieved 11 January 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ *Leigh Rayment's list of baronets [self-published source][better source needed]
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27344. p. 5256. 9 August 1901.

Further reading[edit]

  • Raheja, Gloria Goodwin (August 1996). "Caste, Colonialism, and the Speech of the Colonized: Entextualization and Disciplinary Control in India". American Ethnologist 23 (3): 494–513. doi:10.1525/ae.1996.23.3.02a00030. JSTOR 646349.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Norman Horsford
Chief Commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Succeeded by
William Merk