Redhouse, James William (DNB00)
|←Redgrave, Samuel||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
Redhouse, James William
|Redington, Thomas Nicholas→|
REDHOUSE, Sir JAMES WILLIAM (1811–1892), oriental scholar, the eldest son of James Redhouse by his wife, Elizabeth Saunders, was born near London on 30 Dec. 1811. He was left an orphan early, and from 1819 to 1826 was educated at Christ's Hospital.
In 1826 he made a tour through the Mediterranean to Smyrna and Constantinople, and there was offered a post as draftsman in the employ of the Ottoman government. This brought him into touch with various official authorities, and led him to the careful study of Turkish. In 1830 he went to Russia. In 1834 he returned to London to publish a Turkish-English-French dictionary, on which he had been long engaged, but found that Thomas Xavier Bianchi's Turkish-French work had anticipated him.
In 1838 Redhouse resumed his employment under the Turkish government as translator and confidential interpreter, first to the grand vizier, and afterwards to the minister for foreign affairs. In 1840 he was transferred to the Turkish admiralty, became a member of the naval council, and was sent on a mission to the coast of Syria, then blockaded by the allied squadrons of England, Austria, and Turkey. There he acted as the medium of communication between the fleets and the Turkish force on shore. In 1843 Redhouse was appointed to be secretary and interpreter to Captain William Fenwick Williams [q. v.], the British commissioner deputed to arrange a peace between Turkey and Persia. He was engaged in the important negotiations which were concluded at Erzerum in May 1847. Returning to Constantinople, he remained till 1853 the confidential medium of communication between the Porte and the British embassy. In 1854 Redhouse was appointed oriental translator to the British foreign office, and in 1857 was sent to Paris to aid in the conclusion of a treaty with Persia. This was the last of his diplomatic labours.
Thenceforth he mainly devoted himself to literary work. He had joined the Royal Asiatic Society in 1854, and was its secretary from 1861 to 1864. Living in studious retirement at Kilburn, he spent most of his time in compiling a great dictionary of the Arabic, Persian, and pure Turki languages. He sought to treat in alphabetical order every word in the three tongues. He was made an honorary Doct. Lit. of Cambridge on 12 June 1884, a C.M.G. on 13 April 1885, and K.C.M.G. in 1888. He had in 1841 received the Sultan's imperial order, Nishani-Iftíkhar, and in 1847 the Persian order of the Lion and the Sun.
Redhouse died on 4 Jan. 1892. He married, first, in 1836, Jane Carruthers, daughter of Thomas Slade of Liverpool; she died in 1887. Secondly, in 1888, Eliza, daughter of Sir Patrick Colquhoun.
Redhouse was ‘in many respects the leading authority on the Osmanli-Turki language.’ His great unfinished manuscript dictionary is in the British Museum. A much abridged form of it was published by the American board of foreign missions. The following is a list of his published works, excluding the numerous essays and translations which appeared from time to time, chiefly in the pages of the Royal Asiatic Society's ‘Journals:’
- ‘Grammaire raisonnée de la Langue Ottomane,’ Paris, 1846, 8vo.
- ‘A Dictionary of Arabic and Persian Words used in Turkish,’ London, 1853, 8vo.
- ‘Turkish Campaigners' Vade Mecum,’ 1855, 16mo.
- ‘English-Turkish and Turkish-English Dictionary,’ London, 1856, 8vo.
- ‘Lexicon of English and Turkish,’ London, 1861, 8vo.
- ‘Diary of H.M. the Shah of Persia during his Tour through Europe in 1873,’ from the Persian, 1874, 8vo.
- ‘Turkish Vade Mecum,’ 1877, 16mo.
- ‘A Vindication of the Ottoman Sultan's Title of Caliph,’ 1877.
- ‘On the History, System, and Varieties of Turkish Poetry, illustrated by Selections,’ 1880.
- ‘The Mesnerí of Merlána, &c. … Translated, and the poetry versified,’ 1881, 8vo.
- ‘The Era of Abraham, from his Birth to the Death of Joseph in Egypt,’ 1883, 4to, privately printed.
- ‘Notes on Professor E. B. Tylor's Arabian Matriarchate,’ 1884, 8vo.
[New Monthly Magazine for June 1880; Royal Asiatic Soc. Journal, vol. xxiv. 1892; Foreign Office List, 1888; Dod's Peerage; Cat. Brit. Mus.]