Papers of Benjamin Heyne

Scope and Content

These Papers consist of a single item - the handwritten manuscript of Heyne's Report on Mysore, detailing information collected by Heyne during Colin Mackenzie's Mysore Survey of 1800, on which Heyne was assistant to Francis Buchanan. The manuscript starts with an apology for having produced the report whilst suffering from ill-health and sets out that the report "may fairly be considered as an enumeration of things deserving to be enquired into and as a prospect of what consequences an investigation of them would be if under favourable auspices and in better hands." It considers climate, earthquakes and other phenomena, produce and production, rivers and lakes, mineral springs, topography, mineral deposits, birds, fish and animals, coins, commerce, languages and culture. The title page states, "Presented by John Hodgson Esq., June 16 1827, Keyne's report on Mysore" and the label states, "Catalogue of English MSS IV No 15., Heyne's Report on Mysore presented by John Hodgson Esq., MRAS".
Handwritten, on loosely bound and loose papers, 93 sides plus further title page and cover label, probably dating to 1800 or shortly after.

The Report seems to be a manuscript of part of Tracts, Historical and Statistical on India; with Journals of Several Tours through Various Parts of the Peninsula: Also an Account of Sumatra in a Series of Letters by Benjamin Heyne, published in London, 1814.

Administrative / Biographical History

Benjamin Heyne was a botanist who joined the East India Service in 1793 being appointed as the Madras Presidency Botanist to Samalkot in British India in 1796. After the fall of Mysore, Heyne was ordered to accompany the Mysore Survey led by Colin Mackenzie on which Heyne worked as assistant to Francis Buchanan. Heyne was placed in charge of the Lalbagh botanical garden till 1812 and sent many specimens to London and to Albrecht Wilhelm Roth, the German botanist. Heyne died in Madras in 1819.
John Hodgson worked in the administration of the East India Company and served as the Surveyor-General of India from 1821-1823.

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist using the email address given here. The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID

Acquisition Information

The Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society II (1830) list the donation on p.xcviii and date it to 5 May 1827 when John Hodgson donated many manuscript and folio works. This conflicts with the labelling on the manuscript itself. This date of 16 June 1827 is corroborated in the Donations Register for 1823-1831 in which the a donation from John Hodgson is listed for that date and includes Heyne's Report on Mysore (p.89). Therefore it is concluded that it was probably presented by John Hodgson on 16 June 1827.

Archivist's Note

These Papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2019.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Custodial History

The work may have been in the possession of Heyne until his death in 1819. Alternatively he may have submitted the report to the East India Company at a much earlier date. As the work was presented by John Hodgson, it is presumed that it came into his possession sometime before his return to England. However, it must also be considered that this may be a copy of the Report and not the original of Heyne. Further research is required to verify its authorship.

Related Material

The Catalogue of English Manuscripts is a bound handwritten volume listing English language manuscripts donated to the Society in its early years. Heyne's Report is catalogued on p.76 where there is a description of the contents of the report and a brief biography of Heyne.

The Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society 2 (1830) list the donation on p. xcviii and date it to 5 May 1827 when John Hodgson donated many manuscripts and folio works.
The Donations Register for 1823-1831 list a large donation of Papers from John Hodgson on 16 June 1827 and this includes Heyne's Report on Mysore (p.89).

Geographical Names