ROCKHILL, William Woodville. Philadelphia, Pa. 1.4.1854 — Honolulu 8.12.1914. U.S. Diplomat, Traveller, Sinologist, and Tibetan Scholar. Son of Thomas Cadwalader R. and Dorothea Anne Woodville. Lost his father when 13 and the mother settled in Paris to avoid the Civil War. Studies in Paris, in 1873 graduated from the military academy of St.Cyr. Apparently he also studied Tibetan under Feer. In 1873-76 served in Légion étrangère in Algeria. Returned to the U.S.A. 1876 and lived some time as a rancher in New Mexico, but found this work not to his liking. In 1881 moved in Montreux, Switzerland, now also learned Sanskrit. In 1884-88 served at U.S. Legation in Peking (in 1886-87 in Soul). In 1888 and 1891-92 expeditions in China and Tibet for Smithsonian Institute. In 1893-97 served in governent offices at home. In 1897-99 Ambassador extraordinary and Minister plenipotentiary for Greece, Rumania and Serbia, then, after some years at home, in 1905-09 the same for China, 1910-11 for Russia and 1911-13 for Turkey. Retired from service in 1913. Married 1876 Caroline Tyson (d. 1897) and as widower Edith Howell Perkins. Fell ill and died during a voyage from San Francisco to China as appointed advisor to the President of China, Yuan Shi Kai.
Publications: Transl. from Tibetan: Udânavarga. A collection of verses from the Buddhist Canon. 224 p. L. 1883; “Le Traité de l’émancipation en Prâtimoksha Sûtra”, RHR 9, 1884, 3-26 & 167-201.
– With B. Nanjio and E. Leumann: The Life of the Buddha and the Early History of His Order, derived from Tibetan Works. 273 p. L. 1884.
– “Tibet. A Geographical, Ethnographical, and Historical Sketch, derived from Chinese Sources”, JRAS 1891, 1-133 & 185-291.
– The Land of the Lamas. Notes of a Journey through China, Mongolia and Tibet. 8+399 p. N.Y. 1891; “Notes on the Ethnology of Tibet: based on the collections in the U.S. National Museum”, Report of the U.S. National Museum for 1893. 1895, 665-747.
– Diary of a Journey through Mongolia and Tibet in 1891 and 1892. 20 p. 413 pl. Washington 1894.
– Notes on the Ethnology of Tibet: Based on the Collections in the U.S. National Museum. 83 p. 1895.
– Translated: The Journey of William of Rubruck to the Eastern Parts of the World, 1253-55: As Narrated by Himself, with Two Accounts of the Earlier Journey of John of Pian de Carpine. 304 p. L. Hakluyt Soc. 1900.
– The Dalai Lamas of Lhasa and their relations with the Manchu emperors of China, 1644–1908. 95 p. Leiden 1910.
– Translated with Fr. Hirth: Chao Ju kua: His Work on the Chinese and Arab Trade in the 12th and 13th centuries, entitled Chu Fan Chï. 10+288 p. St.Petersburg 1912.
– Notes on Tibet. 67 p. New Delhi 1977.
– Articles and lesser works.
Sources: *Cordier, TP 16, 1915, 162-4 (& 289f. by Laufer), with bibliography; *A.E. Hippisley, JRAS 1915, 367-374; *Hopkirk 1987, 68-75; *Lopez 2008, 182f.; *K. Wimmel. W.W.R. Scholar-diplomat of the Tibetan highlands. Bangkok 2003; Who Was Who in Am. 1; Wikipedia with two photos.
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