TORRENS, Henry Whitelock. Canterbury 20.5.1806 — Calcutta 11.8.1852. British Civil Servant and Indologist in India. Son of Major-General Henry T., educated at Brook Green, the Charterhouse, and Oxford (Christ Church; B.A. 1825). Entered the Inner Temple and served in Foreign Office, but soon obtained a writership in E.I.C. Arrived in India in November 1828, served in Meerut. From 1835 in the Secretariat, in 1837 accompanied Lord Auckland to the N.W.P. as a Deputy Secretary under W. Macnaghten. From 1840 Secretary to the Board of Customs, Calcutta. From 1846 Government Agent in Murshidabad, died in dysentery during a visit to Governor-General. Married 1832 Eliza Mary Roberts (d. 1834), father of —> H. D’O. Torrens, and 1835 Louisa Law, one daughter
Torrens was a journalist (Assistant editor of the Calcutta Star and founder of the Meerut Observer) and historian. In India he soon learned Arabic, Persian and Hindi, and showed great ability, but he was suspected as coming not from Haileybury and unpopular because of his outspoken and derisive habits and in the end sent away to Murshidabad. He was Secretary of the Asiatic Society in 1840-46.
Publications: Transl. The Arabian Nights: from the Arabic of the Aegyptian m.s. Vol. 1. 3+7+392+48 p. Calcutta 1838.
– Edited: C. Lassen, Points in the history of the Greek and Indoscythian kings. 185 p. 4 pl. Calcutta 1840.
– “Brahminical Conquerors of India”, JASB 19, 1850-51, 1-43; “Translation of some uncertain Greek legends on coins of the Indo-Scythian princes of Cabul”, JASB 19, 1850-51, 137-153; other articles on numismatics and epigraphy in JASB & JRAS.
– Madame de Malguet. 1-3. 1848 (a novel); Remarks on the scope and uses of military literature and history. 1846.
– A Selection from the Writings, prose and poetical, of the late HWT. Edited by J. Hume. 1-2. Calcutta & L. 1854.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; R.G., D.N.B. Suppl. 3, 1901, 383f.; geneanet.org; Wikipedia.
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