Robert Armitage Sterndale

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Robert Armitage Sterndale C.M.G. (1839 – 3 October 1902) was a naturalist, artist, writer and statesman who worked in India before becoming governor general of St. Helena.[1][2][3]

A Race for Life. Illustration by R.A. Sterndale

Sterndale was born in 1839, the fourth son of William Handley Sterndale (d. June 13, 1834[4]) from Ashford, Derbyshire who went to India to become an indigo planter in Tirhoot, Bihar. Robert studied privately before going to India in 1856 to work in the finance department. He volunteered with local regiments during the 1857 mutiny and became a deputy collector in August 1859. He later became an assistant settlement officer and then in the finance departments at Nagpur, Calcutta and Punjab. He became Accountant General for Bombay in January 1884 and then at Madras in 1887.[5]

A keen sportsman and big-game hunter, he wrote several books on natural history including on the mammals of India. He was one of the first editors of the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. His work Seonee, or Camp Life on the Satpura Range published in 1877 influenced the work of Rudyard Kipling and inspired many scenes in the Jungle Book.[6] He also wrote for newspapers contributing to The Asian. An accomplished artist, he made pen sketches, water colours and oil paintings of natural history subjects and was a friend of the artist John Trivett Nettleship.[7] He illustrated two books of E. H. Aitken and contributed a few illustrations to the Lays of Hind by "Aliph Cheem" apart from his own books.[8][9] Sterndale worked in the Currency Department (starting as an assistant to the deputy commissioner of paper currency in 1868) at Calcutta and retired in 1890. In 1891, the congress of orientalists awarded him a medal of merit.[10] In 1894 he helped in the set up of a committee (other members included Robert G.W. Herbert, James Mackenzie, E. Field, Grant Blunt, J. C. Mellis[11]) in London to save St. Helena and set up a fish curing industry. In 1895 he was temporarily assigned to govern St. Helena during the absence of William Grey-Wilson and was posted as a Governor in 1897,[12] a position that was succeeded by Henry Lionel Galway in 1902. His brother Handley Bathurst Sterndale (1829-1878) was an archaeologist who suggested connections between the monuments made by vanished Polynesian civilizations and relics in India, Britain and Central America.[13] His sister Agnes married Sir Cecil Beadon in 1860.[14]

Sterndale died at St. Helena of a heart attack on 2 October 1902.[15] His wife died in 1927 at Southsea.[16]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, E. L. (1903). "Robert Armitage Sterndate". St. Helena. p. 296. 
  2. ^ "Sterndale, Robert Armitage". Appletons' Cyclopaedia for 1902. NY: D. Appleton & Company. 1903. p. 517. 
  3. ^ "Obituary: Mr. R. A. Sterndale". The Geographical Journal 20 (5): 550. 1902. 
  4. ^ "Domestic Occurrences". Calcutta Christian Observer 3: 423. 1834. 
  5. ^ "Death of the Governor of St. Helena". Derby Daily Telegraph. 7 October 1902 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  6. ^ Crane, Ralph & Lisa Fletcher (2014). "Picturing the Indian tiger: Imperial iconography in the nineteenth century". Victorian Literature and Culture 42 (3): 369–386. doi:10.1017/S1060150314000047. 
  7. ^ "Cronje's Gaoler. Author and Journalist.". Dundee Evening Telegraph. 29 March 1900. p. 4 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  8. ^ "Aliph Cheem" (1905). Lays of Ind (11 ed.). London: W. Thacker and Co. 
  9. ^ "The Magazines. A Naturalist on the Prowl". Bath Chronical and Weekly Gazette. 27 September 1894. p. 6 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  10. ^ "Congressof Orientalists". Morning Post. 23 September 1891. p. 2 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  11. ^ "A distressful island". Dover Express. 29 June 1894. p. 6 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  12. ^ "Pall Mall Gazette Office". Pall Mall Gazette. March 3, 1897. p. 8 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  13. ^ "Literary Jottings". Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald. 1 November 1890. p. 7 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  14. ^ Buckland, C.E. (1901). Bengal under the Lieutenant-Governors. Volume 1. London: S.K. Lahiri & Co. p. 276. 
  15. ^ "[Untitled]". Hull Daily Mail. 8 October 1902. p. 5 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  16. ^ "[Untitled]". Dundee Evening Telegraph. 10 November 1927. p. 7 – via British Newspaper Archive. 

External links[edit]