Papers of Alexander Hamilton and Graves Chamney Haughton

Scope and Content

Five handwritten leather bound volumes - four contain Reports on the Finances of Bengal and the fifth contains English notes/translation of the Shahnamah of Firdausi. Each bears the names A. Hamilton and G. Haughton; the fours Finance books also bear the inscription "Presented to the Royal Asiatic Society by Sir Graves Haughton, 1 April 1837."

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Hamilton (1762-1824) was one of the first Europeans to study Sanskrit. Hamilton joined the East India Company and arrived in India in 1783. He joined the Asiatic Society of Bengal founded by William Jones. Hamilton returned to Europe around 1797 and went to France after the Treaty of Amiens (1802) to collate Sanskrit manuscripts held at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. When war broke out between Britain and France in 1803 Hamilton was interned as an enemy alien, but was released to carry on his researches at the insistence of the French scholar Constantine Volney. Hamilton taught Sanskrit to Volney and others, including Friedrich Schlegel and Jean-Louis Burnouf, the father of Eugene Burnouf. Hamilton spent most of his time compiling a catalogue of Indian manuscripts in the library which was published in 1807. Hamilton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1808 and became professor of Sanscrit and Hindoo literature at Haileybury College. He died at Liscard on 30 December 1824.
Graves Chamney Haughton (1788-1849) was educated in England before travelling to India in 1808 with the East India Company. He became proficient in Hindustani, studying at Fort William College. He returned to England in 1815 and in 1817 was appointed assistant professor at Haileybury College and held the post of professor of Sanskrit and Bengali from 1819 to 1827. He was supported by various prominent academics when he attempted in 1832 to be elected as the first Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University but he stood down in favour of Horace Hayman Wilson. He was a founding member of the Royal Asiatic Society and served as its Librarian from 1831-1837. He died of cholera in Paris on 28 August 1849.

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 General Meeting Minutes for 1 April 1837 record: "From Sir Graves Haughton: Four MS volmes of Documents prepared under the direction of Lord Cornwallis during his first administration in Bengal, with a view for the perpetual Settlement". These are the four volumes on Finance in Bengal. It is not known when the volume on the Shahnamah of Firdausi was donated to the Society.

Archivist's Note

These Papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist in 2018.

Conditions Governing Use

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Custodial History

The Papers are identified as belonging to Alexander Hamilton and Graves Haughton. Presumably they came into the sole possession of Haughton after Hamilton's death in 1824. Haughton donated four of these volumes to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1837.

Related Material

The Society also holds within its Collections:

  • Fihrist-i Kutub-i Kitabkhanah-i Sarkar - A Catalogue of the Oriental MSS. in the College of Fort William, copied out in the year 1813, bearing the signature of Graves Haughton and presented to the Society by him.
  • Taqwim-i hal-i sanah 38-i julus-i wala - Almanac for the 38th regnal year (of Shah 'Alam II, March 1795-March 1796), containing information on the Mughal dynasty, astronomical data and astrological predictions for the year, which bears the inscription "C.J. Haughton the gift of John Carnac Morris Esq." and was probably donated by Haughton.
  • Padshah-namah. / 'Abd al-Hamid Lahauri. & 'Abd al-Salam Lahauri, presented to the Royal Asiatic Society by Abraham Welland Esq through Graves C. Haughton Esq. June 1830.
  • The exposition of the Vedanta philosophy, by H. T. Colebrooke, Director of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, vindicated : being a refutation of certain published remarks of Colonel Vans Kennedy, President of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society / by Graves C. Haughton. (MDCCCXXXV [1835])
  • Catalogue des manuscrits samskrits de la Bibliothêque Impériale, avec des notices du contenu de la plupart des ouvrages, etc. par mm. Alexandre Hamilton, 1807.
Full details of these items can be found on our Library catalogue .

Geographical Names