Henry Miers Elliot

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Henry Miers Elliot
Memorial to Henry Miers Elliot in Winchester Cathedral.jpg
Born (1808-03-01)1 March 1808 [1]
Westminster, UK
Died 30 December 1853(1853-12-30) (aged 45)
Cape of Good Hope
Nationality English
Occupation East India Company civil servant

Sir Henry Miers Elliot KCB [1] (1 March 1808 – 30 December 1853) was an English civil servant and historian who worked with the East India Company in India for 26 years. He is most known for The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians based on his works, published posthumously in eight volumes, between 1867-1877 in London.

Early life and background[edit]

Elliot was the third son, one of the fifteen children, of John Elliot, of Pimlico Lodge, Westminster,[1] who was colonel commandant of the Westminster volunteers, by a daughter of John Coakley Lettsom, M.D. Born in 1808 he was educated from the age of ten at Winchester College, and destined for New College, Oxford; but the demand of the East India Company for civilians beyond the numbers regularly trained at Haileybury tempted him to try for an appointment in their service, and he was the first of the 'competition wallahs' to pass an open examination for an immediate post in India. His oriental languages as well as his classics and mathematics proved so good that he was even placed by himself in an honorary class (1826).

Career & family[edit]

Elliot was assistant successively to the collector of Bareilly, the political agent at Delhi, and the collector of the southern division of Muradabad; secretary to the Sudder board of Revenue for the North-Western Provinces; and (1847) secretary to the governor-general in council for the foreign department. In this capacity he accompanied Lord Hardinge to the Panjab and drew up an admirable memoir on its resources. As foreign secretary he also visited the western frontier with Lord Dalhousie, on the occasion of the Sikh War, and negotiated the treaty with the Sikh chiefs relative to the settlement of the Panjab and Gujarat, and received the KCB for his services (1849). Throughout his official career he had devoted his leisure to study.

Early on, he conducted a magazine at Mirat which contained many valuable articles on Indian subjects. With a view to assisting the projected official 'Glossary of Indian Judicial and Revenue Terms,' he published in 1845 at Agra his 'Supplement to the Glossary,' described by Professor H. H. Wilson as 'replete with curious and valuable information, especially as regards the tribes and clans of Brahmans and Rajputs.' A second edition appeared in 1860. His chief work, however, was the 'Bibliographical Index to the Historians of Mohammadan India,' in which he proposed to give an analysis of the contents and a criticism of the value of 231 Arabic and Persian historians of India, but of which he only lived to publish the first volume (Calcutta and London, 1849).

Elliot was married to the daughter of William Cowell a judge at the Provincial Court of Appeal, at Bareilly, Bengal, India. Failing health compelled him to seek a change of climate, and he died on his way home at Simon's Town, Cape of Good Hope, 30 Dec 1853, aged 45.

Children of 'Sir Henry Miers Elliot KCB & Eliza Rebecca Cowell

  1. Eliza Amelia Elliot b. 19 Jan 1830
  2. Henry Lettsom Elliott b. 04 Jul 1831
  3. Fredrick Elrington Elliot b. 12 Apr 1836
  4. Richard James Elliot b. 17 Dec 1840


His memorial exists at St. Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata.[1]

Elliot left behind him manuscript collections which were placed in the hands of competent scholars for publication. His historical researches bore fruit in the The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period, edited by John Dowson, 8 vols. 1866-77, with a 'Sequel,' edited by Sir Edward Clive Bayley, 1886. His Memoirs of the History, Folklore, and Distribution of the Races of the North-West Provinces also found an editor in John Beames, 2 vols. 1869.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Elliot, Henry Miers". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

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