John Muir

1810 - 1882

Orientalist. Muir was born at Glasgow, the son of a merchant and elder brother of Sir William Muir (1819 - 1905). His father died when Muir was only ten years of age and he was educated in Irvine, followed by the University of Glasgow. He trained in civil administration at the East India Company's College at Haileybury and arrived in India in 1829. During his career he served in various offices including as Assistant Secretary to the Board of Revenue at Allahabad in the North-West Provinces, as District Administrator at Azamgarh, as Principal of Victoria College, Benares (Varanasi), and as a judge at Fatehpur. He retired in 1853 and returned to Britain, settling in Edinburgh. Here he worked on his Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India, their Religion and Institutions, which appeared as five volumes between 1858 and 1870. He endowed the Chair in Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh in 1862 and was mainly responsible for creating the Shaw Philosophical Fellowship at Edinburgh in memory of Sir James Shaw (1764 - 1844), Lord Provost of London and Muir's great-uncle, who had helped the family after his father died.

Muir was awarded honorary doctorates by the Universities of Edinburgh, Bonn and Oxford. His brother, Sir William, became Principal of the University of Edinburgh in 1885 and the pair are remembered by the Muir Institute, which for many years was home to that University's Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.

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