Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Meakin, James Edward Budgett
MEAKIN, JAMES EDWARD BUDGETT (1866–1906), historian of the Moors, born at the house of his mother's brother at Ealing Park, London, on 8 Aug. 1866, was the eldest son in a family of three sons and two daughters of Edward Ebenezer Meakin, then a tea-planter in Almora, India, by his wife Sarah, only daughter of Samuel Budgett of Bristol. He was educated first at Mr. Hill's preparatory school, Redhill, and then at Reigate grammar school.
His father, who was keenly interested in oriental peoples and religion, visited Morocco, and founded there on 15 July 1884 the first English newspaper, the 'Times of Morocco,' which urged sympathetic consideration of native interests. James joined his father in Morocco for reasons of health. He acted first as assistant editor of the paper and then as editor. He at once studied the Moorish people and their language. Adopting native dress and the native name Tahar bil Mikki, he mixed freely with all classes, soon mastered the Moorish dialect of Arabic, of which he published in 1891 a word-book with English explanations ('An Introduction to the Arabic of Morocco'), and closely observed Moorish life. In 1890 he returned to England, to consider means of preparing a work on Morocco, which should be as authoritative as Lane's 'Modern Egyptians' on Egypt. But no publisher would encourage the scheme, which was abandoned. Nor would the Royal Geographical or the Scottish Geographical Society accept Meakin's proposal to explore under their auspices the mountainous district of the Central Atlas behind Morocco. After another year in Morocco' (1892), he in 1893 began a journey round the world by way of Turkey and Persia, visiting all the important Mohammedan settlements in Asia and Africa. He returned to Morocco for some months in 1897, and afterwards fixed his permanent home in England, where he devoted himself to literature, journalism, and public lecturing.
Besides Morocco, Meakin now made questions of social reform a special subject of study. In 1901, with a view to raising the standard of health and comfort among; the working classes and to exposing the evil conditions of city slums, Meakin organised a scheme for the delivery through the country of lectures on such themes, known as the 'Shaftesbury Lectures.' He often lectured himself, and in 1905 he took a leading part with Dr. John Brown Paton [q. v. Suppl. II] in forming the British Institute of Social Service, under whose auspices the 'Shaftesbury Lectures' were continued. In 1906 he acted as special correspondent of the 'Tribune,' a short-lived London daily newspaper, at the conference of Algeciras. In 1902 he received the Turkish order of the Medjidie in recognition of his studies of Islam. He died in Hampstead Hospital, after a brief illness, on 26 June 1906, and was buried at Highgate cemetery.
Meakin married in 1900 Kate Alberta, daughter of C. J. Helliwell, sometime of Liverpool and afterwards of Vancouver. He had one son.
As a writer on Morocco, Meakin, though without any particular gift of style, was thorough and trustworthy. His chief publications 'The Moorish Empire' (1899, an historical epitome); 'The Land of the Moors' (1901, a general description); 'The Moors' (1902, a minute account of manners and customs), are standard works. Other books of his are: 'Life in Morocco and Glimpses beyond' (1905); 'Model Factories and Villages' (1905); 'Sons of Ishmael.' With his wife, who helped him in many of his books, he wrote the article on Morocco in the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' (11th edit.).
[The Times, 30 June 1906; Who's Who, 1906; Progress, October 1906; introduction to The Moors, 1902; Athenæum, June 1906; private information.]