Arthur Coke Burnell

Arthur Coke Burnell (11 July 1840  12 October 1882) was an English scholar in Sanskrit.[1] He is probably best known as the co-compiler of Hobson-Jobson, a compendium of Anglo-Indian terms.


He was born at St. Briavels, Gloucestershire, educated at Bedford School, and was sent to King's College, London, where he met Professor Viggo Fausböll of Copenhagen, who seems to have turned him towards Indian studies. His father was an official of the British East India Company, and in 1860 he himself went out to Madras as a member of the Indian Civil Service. Here he acquired or copied Sanskrit manuscripts. In 1870 he presented his collection of 350 manuscripts to the India Office library.[2]

His constitution, never strong, broke down prematurely through the combined influence of overwork and the Madras climate, and he died at West Stratton, Hampshire. A further collection of Sanskrit manuscripts was purchased from his heirs by the India Office library after his death.[2]


In 1874, Burnell published a Handbook of South Indian Palaeography, characterized by Max Müller as "indispensable to every student of Indian literature", and in 1880 issued for the Madras government his greatest work, the Classified Index to the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Palace at Tanjore. He was also the author of a large number of translations from, and commentaries on, various other Sanskrit manuscripts, being particularly successful in grouping and elucidating the essential principles of Hindu law.[2]

In addition to his exhaustive acquaintance with Sanskrit, and the southern India vernaculars, he had some knowledge of Tibetan, Arabic, Kawi, Javanese and Coptic. Burnell originated with Sir Henry Yule the dictionary of Anglo-Indian words and phrases, Hobson-Jobson.[2]


  1. Wikisource:Burnell, Arthur Coke (DNB00)
  2.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Burnell, Arthur Coke". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 850.

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