Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hamilton, Alexander (1762-1824)

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HAMILTON, ALEXANDER (1762–1824), orientalist, was in the employment of the East India Company in Bengal, and was a member of the Asiatic Society of Calcutta. On his return to England he continued his Sanscrit studies, first at the British Museum, and after the peace of Amiens at the Paris library. On the recommencement of hostilities he was among the British subjects detained as hostages. Regarded as the only man on the continent with a thorough mastery of Sanscrit, he taught that language to Frederic Schlegel and Fauriel. At the request of Langlès, keeper of oriental manuscripts at the Paris Library, he drew up an analytical catalogue of its Sanscrit manuscripts, which till then had been catalogued only by librarians ignorant of the language. This was translated, annotated, and published by Langlès in the 'Magasin Encyclopédique,' 1807. Released probably on account of this service, Hamilton, who in 1808 was elected a F.R.S., became professor of Sanscrit and Hindoo literature at Haileybury College. He published 'The Hitopadesa in the Sanscrit Language,' London, 1811; 'Terms of Sanscrit Grammar,' London, 1815; and 'A Key to the Chronology of the Hindus,' 1820. He also wrote magazine articles on ancient Indian geography. He died at Liverpool 30 Dec. 1824.

[Gent. Mag. 1825; Journal Asiatique, Paris, 1825; Académic des Inscriptions, notices of Fauriel and Chézy; Moniteur, 31 May and 25 June 1808.]

J. G. A.