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The Sir Arthur Phayre Collection of Burmese manuscripts

Patricia M. Herbert


IN 1886 the British Museum acquired approximately eighty Burmese manuscripts, now located at Or. 3403-80. These manuscripts formed part of the collection of Sir Arthur Purves Phayre, one of the most distinguished of Burma's early administrators. Phayre's life spanned the formative years of British colonial rule in Burma. He left England for the East in 1828, two years after Britain's first acquisition of Burmese territory, the Arakan and Tenasserim provinces; he rose to high office as first Chief Commissioner of the newly created province of British Burma in 1862; and he died in 1885, just before Britain's tripartite dismemberment of the Burmese kingdom was completed by the annexation of Upper Burma. Phayre's last public pronouncement - a letter to The Times of 13 October 1885 - was in fact an endorsement of the policy of British intervention in Burma.

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