RISLEY, Herbert H.

RISLEY, Herbert Hope. Akeley, Buckinghamshire 4.1.1851 — Wimbledon 30.9.1911. Sir. British Civil Servant and Anthropologist in India. Son of a rector, Rev. James Holford R., and Frances Elton Hope. “Educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, went to Bengal in the Civil Service, 1873. Secretary to the Government of Bengal, 1891, Member of the Bengal Legislative Council, 1892-3 and again. Acting Financial Secretary, Government of India, 1898; Director for Ethnography for India, 1901. Census Commissioner, 1899-1902. Home Secretary to the Government of India, 1902. C.I.E. 1892, C.S.I. 1904.” Retired from India in 1910, he became Permanent Secretary of Judicial Department of India Office (succeeding C. J. Lyall), but died soon of an illness. K.C.I.E. 1907. Married 187? Elsie Julie Opperman, a German lady, who helped him in the linguistic side of his studies, one son.

In anthropology his approach of “scientific racism” is of course completely antiquated. He was much engaged in anthorpometry (with the famous nose index) and took caste more or less equal with race. His interest in anthropology began early in his career, when he served on Chota Nagpur and had contact with highlanders. Later on he was Assistant of —> W. W. Hunter. In 1885-91 he conducted the Ethnographic Survey of Bengal. Leading the 1901 census he extended the caste system to the entire Hindu population of British India. He emphasized the importance of field-work in anthropology.His ideas were accepted by Thurston, criticised by Crooke and Ibbetson.

Publications: “Primitive Marriage in Bengal”, Asiatic Quarterly Review 2, 1886, 71-96; “The Study of Ethnology in India”, JRAnthrInst 1891, 235-263; “Note on Some Indian Tatu-Marks“, Man 2, 1902, 97-101; other articles.

The Tribes and Castes of Bengal: Ethnographic Glossary. 1-2. 633+545 p. Calcutta 1891.

Widow and Infant Marriage. Calcutta 1894.

Anthropometric India. 1???.

The People of India. 289 p. Calcutta & L. 1908, 2nd ed. rev. by W. Crooke. 1915 (rev. and enl. ed. of the anthropological part of the 1901 Census Report).

Sources: J.D. Anderson, Man 12, 1912, 1-4; Buckland, Dictionary; Trautmann 198-204; *Oxford D.N.B.; Wikipedia, long article with photo.

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