Badger, George Percy (DNB01)

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BADGER, GEORGE PERCY (1815–1888), Arabic scholar, born at Chelmsford in Essex in April 1815, was a printer by trade. His youth was spent at Malta, and his knowledge of the Maltese dialect was the foundation of his love of Arabic. He spent the greater part of 1835 and 1836 at Bairût improving his acquaintance with Arabic. At Birejik he visited the expedition under Francis Rawdon Chesney [q. v.] for the exploration of the Euphrates valley. On returning to Malta he was associated with Ahmad Faris Effendi in the editorial department of the Church Missionary Society. He returned to England in 1841, studied at the Church Missionary Society's Institution at Islington, and was ordained deacon in 1841 and priest in the following year. On account of his intimate knowledge of the East, and his unrivalled colloquial knowledge of Arabic, he was chosen by William Howley [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, and by Charles James Blomfield [q. v.], bishop of London, as delegate to the Eastern churches, and more especially the Nestorians of Kurdistan. He was employed on this mission from 1842 till 1844, and he visited the Nestorians a second time in 1850. In his book on ‘The Nestorians and their Rituals’ (London, 1852, 2 vols. 8vo), a work of permanent value to students of comparative theology, he gave a history of the community and an account of his two expeditions, besides a translation of the principal Nestorian rituals from the Syriac. On returning to England from his first expedition in 1845, Badger was appointed government chaplain on the Bombay establishment, and a year later he was appointed chaplain at Aden. When Sir James Outram [q. v.] was sent to Aden in 1854 as commandant and political agent, he placed considerable reliance in dealing with the Arab tribes on Badger's knowledge of the native chiefs and on his influence with them. When he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Persian expedition in November 1856 he obtained the appointment of Badger as staff chaplain and Arabic interpreter to the force. At the conclusion of the campaign of 1857 Badger received the war medal. In 1860 he was appointed coadjutor to Colonel (Sir) William Marcus Coghlan to settle the differences which had arisen between the sons of the renowned Sayyid Sa'îd, the Sayyid Thuwainy, who ruled over Omân, and the Sayyid Majid, who ruled over Sa'îd's East African possessions.

Badger returned to England in 1861, and in October accompanied Outram on a visit to Egypt. In 1862 he retired from the service, and devoted himself chiefly to literature. In 1872 he was appointed secretary to Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere [q. v.], on a mission to Zanzibar to negotiate the suppression of the slave trade with the sultan, Sayyid Burgash. In recognition of his services Badger was created D.C.L. by the archbishop of Canterbury in 1873. Two years later he was appointed to attend upon the sultan of Zanzibar during his visit to England. In 1873 he was created a knight commander of the order of the Crown of Italy, and in 1880 he was nominated by the sultan of Zanzibar a knight of the Gleaming Star.

In 1881 Badger published ‘An English-Arabic Lexicon’ (London, 8vo), which has remained the standard work of its kind. It was especially notable for its command of current Arabic nomenclature and phraseology.

Badger died in London on 21 Feb. 1888 at 21 Leamington Road Villas, Westbourne Park, and was buried on 26 Feb. at Kensal Green cemetery. Besides the works already mentioned, he was the author of: 1. ‘Description of Malta and Gozo,’ Malta, 1838, 12mo; 5th edit, entitled ‘Historical Guide to Malta and Gozo,’ 1872. 2. ‘Elementi della lingua Inglese, sulla base della Grammatica di Veneroni,’ Malta, 1860, 12mo. 3. 'Government in its Relations with Education and Christianity in India,' London, 1858, 8vo. 4. 'Sermons on the State of the Dead, Past, Present, and Future,' Bombay, 1861, 8vo; 2nd edit. London, 1871, 8vo. 5. 'A Visit to the Isthmus of Suez Canal Works,' London, 1862, 8vo. He edited for the Hakluyt Society 'The Travels of Lodovico di Varthema,' London, 1863, 8vo, translated by John Winter Jones [q. v.], and Salil Ibn Razik's 'History of the Imams and Seyyids of Oman,' London, 1871, 4to. He also translated Isidore Mullois's 'Clergy and the Pulpit,' London, 1867, 8vo, and contributed the article 'Muhammad and Muhammadanism' to Smith's 'Dictionary of Christian Biography' (1882).

[Badger's Works; Academy, 3 March 1888; Stock's Hist. of Church Miss. Soc. 1899, i. 349–350; Times, 23 Feb. 1888; Crockford's Clerical Directory; Goldsmid's James Outram, 1881, ii. 89, 90, 176, 376; Martineau's Life of Sir Bartle Frere, 1895, ii. 71, 151; Men of the Time, 1887; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit. Supplement.]

E. I. C.