Samuel Turner

(Gloucester 19.4.1759 – London 2.1.1802)

Samuel Turner, military officer of the East India Company and British diplomat, son of John Turner, rich merchant, and Ann Warren, nacque the Gloucester the 19 April 1759. Important for his career the support of his cousin Warren Hastings (Churchill, Oxfordshire, 6.12.1732 – Daylesford, Worcestershire, 22.8.1818), Governor General of Bengal, which was the son of Penyston Hastings e di Hester, sister Ann Warren.

Turner, cadet East India Company in 1780, played all its activities in India: became a lieutenant on August 8 1781, captain on 8 June 1796 the captain and regimental 18 March 1799. His name is linked to the mission in Tibet led by him in 1783-1784. This mission, the second in Tibet e in the fourth Bhutan was commissioned by Governor Warren Hastings both exploratory and scientific purposes is to extend beyond dell 'Himalayas trade relations and the British influence.

The pretext for the mission was provided by paying tribute to the small Palden Nyima Tenpai (1782-1853), recognized as the seventh reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, after death, which took place in Beijing, of its predecessor, Lobsang Palden Yeshe (1738-1780). These had shown a certain openness towards foreigners getting in his seat of Tashilhunpo a Shigatse, in 1774-1775, the mission to George Bogle (1747-1781); Lhasa was always absolutely forbidden to Europeans.

Turner partì da Calcutta between April and May 1783, came on June 1 to Punakha, capital of Bhutan, and the 3 of the same month he was received by Jigme Singye (1742-1789), king of the country by 1776 to the 1788; after a break of more than three months Tassisudon, was allowed to proceed towards the Tibet with the naturalist (botanist and physician) Robert Saunders, and came to Shigatse the 22 September 1783. He returned in March 1784 a Patna, where he reported on the outcome of his journey and of his contacts. The third participant in the mission, the surveyor and draftsman Samuel Davis was forced to interrupt the journey as the Tibetans allowed entry only two English (a number that is not higher than those who had participated in the mission Bogle).[i]

Turner was a good scout and a good diplomat and its relation to travel Tibet[ii] was the first published account of that country by an eyewitness, except for the old one, forgotten and long gone, António de Andrade (1580-1634).[iii] The book had obtained French translations (1800), German (1801) e italiano (1817). In this first report in English, which was also the only exit, in 1876, the book by Clements Markham[iv] (1830-1916), Turner gives interesting information, among which the first approximate news on Times and on Brahmaputra.[in]

Later distinguished himself in the siege of Seringapatam [Srirangapattana, o Srirangapatna], the 6 February 1792, in command of the cavalry bodyguard of Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805), succeduto a Warren Hastings as Governor-General.

Turner was able to again show his worth as a diplomat conducting successful negotiations with Tipu Sultan[we], Nawab of Mysore.

He returned to England in 1798, obtained, the 7 July 1800, the laurea honorary from 'University of Oxford, while the 15 January 1801 was welcomed among the members of Royal Society.

Morì a London the 2 January 1802, after he suddenly fell seriously ill and the 21 December of the previous. Heirs his sisters, one of which, Mary (died in 1811) Aveve sposato Joseph White, professor of Hebrew at Oxford.

The library of the University of Oxford (Bodleian Library) preserves the writings and correspondence, in Bengali and Tibetan Turner.

[i] Samuel Davis (West Indies 1760 - Birdhurst Lodge, at Croydon, 16.6.1819), before returning to India, made a careful documentation in pencil and watercolor of the topography and architecture of the Bhutan, part of which appeared in his posthumous Remarks on the Religious and Social Institutions of the Bouteas, or Inhabitants of Boutan (1830). The son of Samuel, John Francis Davis, FECE part with Thomas Manning the embassy of Lord Amherst a Beijing in 1817.

[ii] Samuel Turner, An Account of an Embassy to the Court of the Teshoo Lama in Tibet containing a narrative of a journey through Bootan, and part of Tibet; to which are added views taken on the spot by lieutenant Samuel Davis; and observations botanical, mineralogical, and medical, by Mr. Robert Saunders, In. Bulmer and Co., London, 1800. [French edition: Embassy in Tibet and Bhutan. Containing very curious details on the manners, Religion, production and trade of Tibet, of Bhutan and neighboring states ; and instructions on the events that took place there until 1783. Translated by J. Castera, Bush & Gugiet, Paris, 1800, 2 fully.; Italian edition: Ambasceria Tibet to e Butan, where the public is accurate and very curious news about the costumes, to religion, to the production and trade of Tibet, Bhutanese and neighboring states, and the events that have taken place until 1783. Tradotta of Vincenzo Ferrario, Sonzogno and Comp, Milan, 1817, 2 fully.].

[iii] António de Andrade, New discovery of Gram Cathayo or Kingdoms of Tibet Pello Father Antonio de Andrade, the Society of Jesu, Portuguez, no year 1624, Matheus Pinheiro, Lisbon, 1626 [editions in Spanish (1626), Italian (Relatione novo the unveiling of the great Cataio, overo kingdom of Tibet. Made from P. Antonio Andrade of the Portuguese Society of Jesu year 1624, Francesco Corbelletti, Rome, 1627), French (1627), Dutch and Polish].

[iv] Clements Robert Markham, Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa. Edited with notes, an introduction, and lives of Mr. Bogle and Mr. Manning, Trübner and Co., London, 1876 [2nd edition 1879; reprint New Delhi 1971 and 1989; German translation 1909].

[in] Original edition, p. 300; Italian edition, flight. II, pp. 252-253.

[we] Tipu Sultan [Sultan Fateh Ali Khan Shahab] (Devanahalli, Bangalore district, Karnataka, 20.11.1750 – Srirangapattana [o Srirangapatna, anglicized to Seringapatam], Mandya district, Karnataka, 4.5.1799), known as the Tiger of Mysore, first child Hyder Ali and his second wife, Fatima (Fakhr-un-Nissa) was the ruler of the kingdom of Mysore his father's death (1782) until his death on 4 May 1799, while defending the capital of his kingdom in the fourth war against the British (Fourth Anglo-Mysore War). As his father was of French ally in the fight against the British. Devotee musulmano, in a predominantly Hindu kingdom, Tipu Sultan, over that valiant fighter, was a poet and scholar able to master several languages.


[Sheet drawn up in July 2009 The E.G. Bargiacchi]

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