James Redhouse

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Sir James William Redhouse KCMG (30 December 1811- 4 January 1892) authored the original and authoritative Ottoman - English dictionary. He was commissioned by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions for his dictionary. His work was later used as the basis for many Turkish - English dictionaries.


Redhouse was born near London, the eldest son of James Redhouse and his wife Elizabeth Saunders. He was orphaned and educated at Christ's Hospital from 1819 to 1826. In 1826 he toured the Mediterranean, Smyrna and Constantinople. He was offered a post by the Turkish government as a draftsman, and as a result learnt Turkish. In 1830 he visited Russia and returned to England in 1834 to publish a Turkish-English dictionary.

In 1838 Redhouse returned to work for the Turkish government as an interpreter to the Grand Vizier and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He transferred to the Turkish Admiralty in 1840, became a member of the Naval Council, and went to Syria to help communications between the English Austrian and Turkish fleets which were running a blockade. He received the Sultan's Imperial Order (İftar Nişanı) in 1841. In 1843 he was appointed secretary and interpreter to the British Commissioner William Fenwick Williams, who was arranging a peace treaty between Turkey and Persia. Redhouse was also involved in peace negotiations at Erzurum in 1847 and was awarded the Persian Order of the Lion and the Sun. He returned to Constantinople until 1853. He was appointed oriental translator to the Foreign Office in 1854 and went to Paris to help negotiate a treaty with Persia.[1]

Redhouse retired from the Foreign Office to concentrate on literary work. He joined the Royal Asiatic Society in 1854 and was its secretary from 1861 to 1864. He lived at Kilburn where he compile a dictionary of Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages. In 1884 he was given an honorary doctorate at Cambridge University. He was made CMG in 1885 and knighted in 1888.

Redhouse married firstly Jane Carruthers Slade, daughter of Thomas Slade of Liverpool, who died in 1887. He was married again in 1888 to Eliza Colquhoun, daughter of Sir Patrick Colquhoun.


  • Grammaire raisonné de la langue Ottomane (1846)
  • Vade mecum of the Ottoman colloquial language (1855)
  • Turkish vade mecum (1877)
  • A simplified grammar of the Ottoman-Turkish (1884)
  • Müntehabatı lügatı Osmaniye (1838)
  • A dictionary of Arabic and Persian words used in Turkish (1853)
  • A Turkish and English lexicon shewing the English significations of the Turkish terms (1890)
  • Kitabı maanii lehçe li James Redhouse el İngilizi (1890)
  • The Mesnevi (1881)
  • A Vindication of the Ottoman Sultans title of caliph (1877)
  • On the history, system and varieties of Turkish poetry (1879)


  1. ^  "Redhouse, James William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

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