Halhed, Nathaniel Brassey
HALHED, NATHANIEL BRASSEY (1751-1830), English Orientalist and philologist, was born at Westminster on the 25th of May 1751. He was educated at Harrow, where he began his intimacy with Richard Brinsley Sheridan (see SHERIDAN FAMILY) continued after he entered Christ Church, Oxford, where, also, he made the acquaintance of Sir William Jones, the famous Orientalist, who induced him to study Arabic. Accepting a writership in the service of the East India Company, Halhed went out to India, and here, at the suggestion of Warren Hastings, by whose orders it had been compiled, translated the Gentoo code from a Persian version of the original Sanskrit. This translation was published in 1776 under the title A Code of Gentoo Laws. In 1778 he published a Bengali grammar, to print which he set up, at Hugli, the first press in India. It is claimed for him that he was the first writer to call attention to the philological connexion of Sanskrit with Persian, Arabic, Greek and Latin. In 1785 he returned to England, and from 1790-1795 was M.P. for Lymington, Hants. For some time he was a disciple of Richard Brothers (q.v), and his unwise speech in parliament in defence of Brothers made it impossible for him to remain in the House, from which he resigned in 1795. He subsequently obtained a home appointment under the East India Company. He died in London on the 18th of February 1830.
His collection of Oriental manuscripts was purchased by the British Museum, and there is an unfinished translation by him of the Mahdbharata in the library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)