Henry Strachey (explorer)

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Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Strachey (1816–1912) was a British officer of the Bengal Army.[1] Despite a longstanding prohibition by the Tibetan authorities on the entry of Europeans into Tibet,[2] Strachey surveyed parts of western Tibet during the late 1840s.

He was the second son of Edward Strachey, second son of Sir Henry Strachey, 1st Baronet. His brothers included Sir Richard Strachey, Sir John Strachey and Sir Edward Strachey, 3rd Baronet.[1]

Tibetan surveys[edit]

In 1846, while a lieutenant of the 66th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, Strachey surveyed the Tibetan regions surrounding Lakes Manasarovar and Rakshastal. He found a channel between the lakes, suggesting that Manasarovar, and not Rakshastal, was the source of the Sutlej River.[3] Strachey's brother Richard, with J. E. Winterbottom, continued the exploration of the lakes in 1848.[4]

In 1847 Strachey was appointed to a boundary commission led by Alexander Cunningham. The third member was Thomas Thomson. The commission was set up to fix the boundary between Tibet and Ladakh. By the Treaty of Amritsar, 1846, the British had granted Ladakh to Gulab Singh, and wished to prevent further territorial conflict.[4] However, the Tibetan authorities did not participate, or give permission to enter Tibet.[5] The commission based itself at Leh, Ladakh.[6] It eventually drafted a boundary, but this was not diplomatically agreed.[4] However, in 1848 Strachey was the first European to find the Siachen Glacier, and ascended it for 2 miles.[7]

In 1849, Strachey and his brother Richard briefly entered Tibet by following the Niti Pass out of Garhwal.[4] Their route included Tholing Monastery and Hanle.[6]

Strachey's Tibetan surveys won him the Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Medal in 1852.[8]


On 6 September 1859, by this time a captain of the 66th Goorkha Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, he married Joanna Catherine, daughter of Rudolphe Cloete, of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa. The wedding was in Claremont, Cape Town.[9] Their only child was Julia Charlotte, who in 1884 married barrister William Chance (2 July 1853 – 9 April 1935), son of James Timmins Chance of the glassmaking company Chance Brothers.[10] Julia was an amateur sculptor, and a supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement. The couple's house, Orchards in Surrey, was designed by architect Edwin Lutyens.[11] In 1902, Sir William Chance succeeded his father to the Chance baronetcy.[10] Julia, Lady Chance died in 1949.[12]


  • "Physical Geography of Western Tibet", Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 23, 1853.


  1. ^ a b Hunt, William (1912). "Strachey, Edward" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. ^ Dodin, Thierry; Räther, Heinz (2001). Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies. Somerville: Publisher Wisdom Publications. p. 70. ISBN 0-86171-191-2.
  3. ^ MacGregor, John (1972). Tibet: A Chronicle of Exploration. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. 253–54. ISBN 0-7100-6615-5.
  4. ^ a b c d Waller, Derek J. (2004). The Pundits: British Exploration of Tibet and Central Asia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 13. ISBN 0-8131-9100-9.
  5. ^ Prem Singh Jina (1994). Tourism in Ladakh Himalaya. New Delhi: Indus Publishing. pp. 38–39. ISBN 81-7387-004-7.
  6. ^ a b Prem Singh Jina (1995). Famous Western Explorers to Ladakh. New Delhi: Indus Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 81-7387-031-4.
  7. ^ Harish Kapadia (1999). Across Peaks and Passes in Ladakh, Zanskar and East Karakoram. New Delhi: Indus Publishing. pp. 173–74. ISBN 81-7387-100-0.
  8. ^ Year-Book and Record. London: Royal Geographical Society. 1914. p. 26.
  9. ^ "Marriages". The Times. London. 3 November 1859. p. 1.
  10. ^ a b "Obituary. Sir William Chance". The Times. London. 10 April 1935. p. 19.
  11. ^ Brown, Jane (1996). Lutyens and the Edwardians. London: Viking. p. 32. ISBN 0-670-85871-4.
  12. ^ "Obituary". The Times. London. 1 September 1949. p. 7.