Henry Rawlinson
Henry Martin Creswicke
Eugenia Collins
Abram Tyzack Rawlinson
Eliza Eudocia Albinia Creswicke
Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, 1st Baronet


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Louisa Caroline Harcourt Seymour

Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, 1st Baronet 16,407

  • Born: 11 April 1810, Chadlington Park, Chadlington, Oxfordshire
  • Christened: 26 April 1810, Chadlington, Oxfordshire
  • Marriage: Louisa Caroline Harcourt Seymour on 2 September 1862
  • Died: 5 March 1895, London aged 84 13

bullet  General Notes:

From The Times, March 6, 1895

We have to announce, with much regret, the death of Sir Henry
Rawlinson. He attended a meeting of the Indian Council as recently as
yesterday week. The next day he complained of headache, and did not
leave his bed on Thursday. On Friday his temperature rose rapidly,
causing great loss of strength; and, though he rallied somewhat during
the following day, there was a further rise in temperature at midday
on Sunday, coupled with bronchial congestion of the right lung. He
sank gradually until 5 40 yesterday morning, when he passed away.
The death of Sir Henry Rawlinson brings to a close the long and
eventful career of one of our most brilliant Oriental scholars and
most distinguished Anglo-Indian statesman. In the separate fields of
arms, diplomacy, and science he attained high distinction, and his
name will be permanently associated both with remarkable scientific
discoveries which revealed a dead language and opened up a new vista
of historical inquiry, with the skilful and successful management of
Asiatic Princes and peoples, with great questions of Eastern policy,
and also with heroic deeds as a soldier in the first Afghan war. The
disappearance of his venerable figure from the ranks of our public
servants leaves a blank that cannot be adequately filled up, and
removes not only one of the wisest but also one of the most moderate
of those who advocated a vigorous foreign policy as essential to our
security in India.
Henry Creswicke Rawlinson was born at Chadlington Park, Oxford, on
April 11, 1810. Members of his family have served the State from the
days of Agincourt, and it has held a recognized position among the
landed proprietors of North Lancashire since the reign of Henry the
Seventh. His grandfather, also named Henry, represented Liverpool at
the end of the last centuary, and another member of his family sat at
the same time for Lancaster. Mr. Henry Rawlinson left two twin sons,
Abram and Lindow, and former of these selling his property in
Lancashire migrated to Oxfordshire, where he purchased Chadlington.
Mr. Abram Rawlinson, who became famous as the owner and breeder of
Coronation, which won the Derby of 1840, married Miss Creswicke, of
Gloucestershire, and the late Sir Henry Rawlinson was the second son
of this marriage. At the age of 11 he was sent to a school at
Wrington, Somersetshire, and subsequently to a school at Ealing.
Having obtained a nomination to a military cadetship in the East India
Company's service from a relative, he proceeded to Bombay in 1827. In
the interval between leaving school and his departure he began the
study of those Oriental languages in which he acquired unusual
felicity as well as facility of expression. Among his fellow
passengers happened to be Sir John Malcolm, then proceeding to take up
the Governorship of Bombay, who inspired the young cadet with the
ambition to pursue studies by which the historian of Persia had made
himself famous.
On his arrival in India Rawlinson continued with energy his study of
Oriental languages, and in less than 12 months after his arrival he
was appointed the interpreter to the 1st Bombay Grenadiers. He served
with this regiment for five years in Bombay, Poonah, and other places,
and as a reward for his profieciency in Persian and Mahrattee he was
made paymaster of his regiment before he was 19 years of age. Henry
Rawlinson, however, was not only an earnest student and hard worker.
His good temper, courage, and fine physique won him great popularity.
He was among the foremost in every athletic sport, and in horsemanship
his superiority was specially marked. One of his feats was to cover
the distance between Poonah and Panwell - 70 miles - in three hours
and 17 minutes on horseback. The horses used were the ordinary postal
relays of the time in India, and the road passed over some of the
steepest descents of the Ghâts.
Sir Henry Rawlinson's Indian career was arrested by an event which,
although it only temporarily withdrew him from that country, really
diverted his attention permanently to other parts of the Eastern
world. In 1833 the Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck, decided
that it would be prudent for us to take steps to support and to arm
Persia. A number of officers were sent to Persia in the autumn of
that year, and among these was Rawlinson, specially nominated for his
proficiency in Persian. He remained there nearly six years, filling a
number of different posts, from interpreter and paymaster to Chargé
d'Affaires during Sir John M'Neill's absence. He travelled through
many of the least known portions of the country, and during these
journeys he was first brought into contact with those archæological
remains to the study of which he at once devoted himself. In 1838-39
the Afghan difficulty in which Persia was involved by the Shah's
attack on Herat led to the departure of the British envoy from Teheran
and the withdrawal of those officers who had been not unsuccessfully
engaged in reorganizing the Persian army. In a certain sense Sir
Henry Rawlinson was personally assiciated with the origin of the
difficulty, for while travelling in the country he came across
Vickovitch, the Russian officer sent on a mission to Kabul in 1837,
whose promises had much to do with Dost Mahomed's hostility.
Realizing the importance of the presence of a Russian officer
journeying to Afghanistan, Rawlinson at once rode off to Teheran to
advise our Minister of the fact, covering several hundred miles in an
incredibly short space of time. On war being declared against Persia
he and his comrades were peremptorily recalled to India, and his
researches were broken off. As soon as he arrived in India Lord
Auckland at once sent him to Kabul to act as assistant to our envoy,
Sir William Macnaghten. He travelled via Sind and Kandahar, and one
of his first works in his new Afghan career was to draw up a report on
the condition of the country through which he had passed for the
benefit of those who were lulled into sense of false security at
Kabul. On reaching the Afghan capital Rawlinson had a narrow escape
of being associated with the most unfortunate mission we ever sent
into Central Asia. The gallant Arthur Conolly, who met with such a
cruel and atrocious fate at the hands of the Ameer of Bokhara, had
just been appointed Envoy to the Usberg States of Turkestan, and it
was thought that Rawlinson would prove a desirable colleague in this
hazardous but honourable task. The appointment was made and would
have been carried into effect, with the result that Rawlinson would
have shared with Conolly and Stoddart the horrors of the well of
Bokhara, but that disturbances broke out in the Ghilzai country, the
political agency of Western Afghanistan was there by discredited, and
Rawlinson seem the only man capable of repairing what had happened.
Instead, therefore, of accompanying Conolly across the Oxus to the
region of which he afterwards wrote so much, Rawlinson retraced his
steps to Kandahar to take charge of what was then called the Political
Agency of Western Afghanistan.
Coming fresh to Afghanistan from a country where English policy had
failed, he was the less disposed to take the roseate view of the
position in Afghanistan which found favour with the 'entourage' of the ruler
we had set up, Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk. Very soon after his
arrival at Kandahar he became convinced of the covert hostility of
even those Afghans who had sworn loyalty to the Durani King, and he
notified his views, which were the first expressions of a pessemistic
opinion as to our position in Afghanistan, to his superiors at Kabul
and in India. Events proved how well founded Rawlinson's fears were
as to the attitude of the Afghan population. his precautions and the
steady discipline of the Kandahar garrison under its resolute
commander, Sir William Nott, prevented any early outbreak in the
south; but when our envoy was murdered at Kabul and our Army retreated
from that place, the hostility of the Durani and Ghilzai tribes round
Kandahar could no longer be repressed. Rawlinson collected provisions
and expelled the whole Afghan population which he had previously
disarmed, from the city, and thus insured the safety of that
important place during the whole of the dark winter of 1841-42, when
both our arms and our policy were sadly discredited beyond the
Suleiman range. There were only two brightspecks amid our general
discomfiture by the Afghans, and they were the defence of Jellalabad
and of Kandahar. With regard to the latter Rawlinson deserved as much
credit as Broadfoot did for the former, and particularly for his
magnificent defence of the city when the greater part of the garrison
had been drawn away in pursuit of an imaginary Afghan force. The
Afghans burnt down one of the principal gates, and it seemed as if
they wuold carry the city by storm; but Rawlinson provided for this
emergency by commanding the entrance from the inside with artillery,
and when the Afghans found their way in they were driven back with
heavy loss. In the battle fought with the main Afghan force outside
Kandahar on May 29, 1842, Major Rawlinson distinguished himself at the
head of the small body of Persian cavalry which he had personally
trained. For these services he was specially named in the despatches
of Sir William Nott. The garrison of Kandahar returned to India by
way of Ghuzni - which it recaptured - and Kabul, and Rawlinson went
with it. Soon afterwards he had a heavy bit of disagreeable work to
perform. As Agent at Kandahar he had controlled the finances of that
city, receiving revenue in the name of Shah Shuja and making payments
of all kinds. He was responsible for a sum exceeding one million
sterling. The books and bills relating to this expenditure were burnt
in a vessel on the Sutlej, and Major Rawlinson had to set to work and
compile, from such materials as he could procure, a detailed statement
of the outlay at Kandahar. This he succeeded in doing after six
months' hard work, and with such accuracy that the Government of India
specially complimented him on the result. Of his connexion with
Afghanistan, Sir John Kaye's opinion, given in his History of the War,
may be quoted - viz., that, of all the officers who entered
Afghanistan, Rawlinson was the only one to leave it with increased
Sir Henry Rawlinson's career as a soldier must be considered to have
then terminated. When offered a high post in the North-West by Lord
Ellenborough he expressed his strong desire to return to the scene of
his former investigations into Assyrian antiquities and to complete
the solution of the mysteries which had fascinated his imagination.
In 1843 he was appointed British Resident at Baghdad, where he
remained until 1856, discharging the duties of Resident for the
Company and Consul for the British Government. In 1856 he returned to
England, and soon afterwards he was made a K.C.B., and appointed, on
the nomination of the Government, to the Directorate of the East India
Company. He had early turned his attention to politics, and in 1857
he twice contested the now disfranchised borough of Reigate. At the
first election he was defeated, but at the second he was successful.
During the debates of 1858 on the subject of transferring India to the
Crown he spoke frequently in support of the measure, and when it was
passed he was at once appointed a member of the new India Council, a
post which, with one or two brief intervals, he retained to his death.
The first break in his connexion with the India Office was caused by
his being sent to Persia in 1859 as Minister Plenipotentiary. His
residence in that country did not exceed one year, but it enabled him
to do much towards reconciling the policies of the two countries, and
he established a personal friendship with the Shah which lasted to the
close of his life. On his return to England he represented Frome in
Parliament from 1865 to 1868. During this period he frequently spoke
on the subject of the Russian advance in Central Asia, and he became
generally known as the leader of the Russophobist school, though his
brother-in-law, the late Mr. Danby Seymour, was the only member who
shared in any way his opinions. In 1868 he again reverted to official
life, being appointed a life member of the India Council. Although
fettered by his official position he was too earnest a thinker and too
strongly convinced of the gravity of the matter to refrain from
speaking out boldly when the Russians annexed Khiva, and in 1875 he
published his "England and Russia in the East", a remarkable work,
which will always be quoted as a text-book on the subject. In this
book he collected all the information bearing on the subject, and
reiterated the opinions to which he had given frequent expression, in
letters, articles, and speeches, delivered too often to deaf ears and
empty benches. In 1873, and again in 1889, he was specially appointed
to attend on the Shah during his visit to England, and up to the last
he continued to take the liveliest interest in Persian and Afghan
To speak of Sir Henry Rawlinson as a man of science in any adequate
fashion would fill a volume. As already pointed out, Sir Henry, when
he first went to Persia in 1833, spent much of his time in tours
through some of the remoter districts of the country. In 1837 he
wrote an account of a tour through Susiana and Elimais. This he
supplemented with a description of Echatana, which gained for him the
gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. He began, as far back
as 1835, to copy down the cuneitorm inscriptions on the rock tablets
at Behistun. He had achieved no inconsiderable results, and was on
the threshold of complete success when the Afghan war summoned him
elsewhere. On his appointment to Bagdad, he renewed his connexion
with Mesopotamia, and found that the excavations at Khorsabad,
conducted by M. Botta, the French Consul and Mosul, had facilitated
his task. The archæological remains found there in abundance showed
that all the Assyrian legends were described in ancient Persian
translations. By mastering the old Persian characters on the tablets
at Behistun he found the key which eventually deciphered all the
memorials of Assyrian history. The years 1844 and 1845 were specially
devoted to this task, and in 1846 he published his first work on the
cuneiform inscriptions. In 1847 he obtained by incredible personal
exertion and not without risk, as the most important inscriptions were
on a precipitous rock 300ft. above the plain, complete copies of all
the inscriptions. In 1849 he paid a visit to England after an absence
of 22 years, bringing with him the copies mentioned. A very short
time after his return to England he read the celebrated paper on the
cuneiform inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia, in which he gave the
first translation of the "Black Obelisk Inscription". This paper was
followed up by his discovery among the inscriptions just brought home
by Mr. Layard of a mention of the war between Hezekiah and
Sennacherib. In 1851 Sir Henry Rawlinson was granted the sum of
£3,000 by the British Museum for the purpose of systematic
excavations, in which he employed Mr. Hormuzd Rassam and several
others. These excavations were carried on with equal ability and
caution. Many of the sculptures are to be found in the British
Museum, and, although no regular history exists of these efforts and
their results, there is much to be learnt on the subject from
contributions by Sir Henry Rawlinson others to the Asiatic Society's
Journal between the years 1852 and 1856. In Germany Sir Henry
Rawlinson's claims to be regarded as the first decipherer of the
cuneiform have always been allowed without hesitation, notwithstanding
the labours of Lassen and others in the same field, and among the
earliest and most cherished of Sir Henry Rawlinson's foreign orders
was the Prussian Order of Merit. Sir Henry Rawlinson was raised to
the Grand Cross of the Bath on the occasion of the Shah's last visit,
and in 1891 the dignity of a baronetcy was conferred upon him. Sir
Henry Rawlinson married, in 1862, Louisa, daughter of Mr. Henry
Seymour, of Knoyle, who died somewhat suddenly a few years ago. By
her he had two sons, both of whom are in the army, and the eldest,
Captain Henry Seymour Rawlinson, succeeds to the baronetcy.

bullet  Birth Notes:



bullet  Noted events in his life were:

1. Census UK 1871: 1871, 21 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London.

2. Census UK 1881: 1881, 21 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London.

3. His funeral was held on 9 March 1895 in Brookwood Crematorium. 54

4. Resided: 5 March 1895, 21 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London.

5. He had an estate probated on 3 May 1895 in London. 13


Henry married Louisa Caroline Harcourt Seymour, daughter of Edward James Seymour and Unknown, on 2 September 1862. (Louisa Caroline Harcourt Seymour was born in 1828 in St. George's Hanover Square, London and died on 31 October 1889 in 21 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London.)

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