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Arthur Purves Phayre

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Arthur Purves Phayre Sir Arthur Purves Phayre GCMG KCSI CB (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.

His brother, Sir Robert Phayre (1820-1897), also served in India. They were part of the Phayre family, of which Lt Col Robert Phayre, who served the British administration in Ireland in the 17th century, also had the death warrant of Charles I addressed to him and two other Colonels.

Descendants: Colonel Robert Bernard Phayre MC 2/4th Prince of Wales Own Gurkha Rifles, son Colonel Robert Desmond Hensley Phayre Royal Artillery, son Lt Col Robert (Robin) Dermot Spinks Phayre LI, cousin Col Terence Peter 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.

Table of contents
  1. Early life
  2. Work

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: 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.

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