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Arthur Purves Phayre

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Preceded by  Office established
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Education  Shrewsbury School
Preceded by  Office established
Rank  Lieutenant General
Succeeded by  Albert Fytche

Nationality  British
Name  Arthur Phayre
Occupation  Administrator
Role  Author
Books  History of Burma
Arthur Purves Phayre Arthur Purves Phayre Wikipedia
Died  December 14, 1885, Bray, Republic of Ireland
Awards  Order of St Michael and St George, Order of the Star of India, Order of the Bath

Service/branch  British Indian Army

Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Purves Phayre (7 May 1812 – 14 December 1885) was a career British Indian Army officer who was the first Commissioner of British Burma, 1862–1867, Governor of Mauritius, 1874–1878, and author.


Arthur Purves Phayre ARTHUR PURVES PHAYRE First Commissioner of Burma Antique Print

His brother, Sir Robert Phayre (1820–1897), also served in India; part of the Phayre family, of which Lt Col Robert Phayre, who served the British administration in Ireland in the 17th century, also signed the death warrant of Charles I.

Descendants: Colonel Robert Bernard Phayre MC Queens Own Gurkhas, son Colonel Robin Desmond Phayre RA, son Lt Col Robin Phayre LI, cousin Col Terence Phayre Knott MC RM, of whom son Captain Robert Knott AAC changed name by deed poll to Phayre, to prevent family name dying out, lives in Kenya.

Early life

Phayre was born in Shrewsbury and educated at Shrewsbury School. He joined the Indian Army in 1828. In 1846 he was appointed assistant to the commissioner of the province of Tenasserim, Burma, and in 1849 he was made commissioner of Arakan. After the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852), he became commissioner of Pegu. He was made a Brevet Captain in 1854 and in 1862 he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.

Government office

In 1862 Phayre was made commissioner for the entire province of British Burma. He left Burma in 1867.

He served as 12th Governor of Mauritius from 21 Sep 1874 to 31 Dec 1878.

He was appointed a CB in 1864, promoted to Colonel in 1866 and was knighted with the KCSI in 1867. In 1871, he was promoted to Major-General and was promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1873. He retired to Bray in Ireland and was appointed a GCMG in 1878.


Phayre wrote the first standard History of Burma (1883). He is commemorated in the names of a number of animals, including:

  • Phayre's leaf monkey, Trachypithecus phayrei
  • Indochinese flying squirrel, Hylopetes phayrei
  • Phayre's squirrel, Callosciurus phayrei
  • Eared pitta, Pitta phayrei
  • Brown Asian forest tortoise, Manouria emys phayrei
  • Ashy-headed green pigeon, Treron phayrei
  • Numismatist

    Phayre collected coins (some are now in the British Museum collection), and in 1882 wrote Coins of Arakan, of Pegu, and of Burma, International Numismata Orientalia, part 8. The title page notes that he was a corresponding member of the Société Académique Indo-Chinoise. He was also a member of the Royal Asiatic Society.


    Arthur Purves Phayre Wikipedia

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