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Wednesday, 7 February 2018
The Hutton Donation to the University of Cambridge Centre of South Asian Studies
Book-plate of John Henry Hutton
In 1980 Patrick Hutton son of John Henry Hutton, 1885-1968, I.C.S. Assistant Magistrate and Collector, East Bengal and Assam 1909 and Census Commissioner, Government of India 1929, gave 13 books to the Centre of South Asian Studies archives, many of which have his father’s bookplate. They range from well-used dictionaries of Hindustani, Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit, to guides to birds and wildlife, to Notes on walking round Shillong. This small 87 page publication (Archive HUT 4) by W. Allsup, published 1934, records where safe drinking water may be found for hikes which could take up to 8 hours. Another publication (Archive HUT 11) : Hobson-Jobson : a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive by Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell was reprinted by Oxford University Press in 2013 as Hobson- Jobson : the definitive glossary of British India.
The South Asian Studies Library holds various publications by John Henry Hutton including volumes of the 1931 Census of India G(54):31, his study of the Angami Nagas : with some notes on neighbouring tribes. Bombay : Indian Branch, Oxford University Press, 1969. (541.1):397, with the 1921 edition held at Archive JE 16 and Archive ST 1, and at Archive JE 17 The Sema Nagas, London : Macmillan, 1921
The St Catharine’s College Society Magazine of 1968 has a lengthy obituary of Professor John Henry Hutton C.I.E., D.SC. who died 23rd May 1968. Excerpts follow : John Henry Hutton joined the Indian Civil Service in 1909, at the time of the disturbances which followed the partition of Bengal and of the Morley-Minto reforms. He served until 1936, through a period of intense activity, of fundamental change and of constant unrest; and he was created C.I.E. for his active service in the Kuki Operations. When he retired he took with him to Radnorshire a knowledge and understanding, and a scholarly status, which was unusual even in the Indian Civil Service at a time when much notable work on the historical and sociological problems of their districts was coming from the gifted men whom India attracted to that service. Hutton's period of service on the Burmese border had given him an opportunity to study the Naga tribes in depth and to write his two pioneering anthropological studies, The Angami Nagas and The Serna Nagas. His subsequent compilation of the Report on the Census of India, in 1933, confirmed his status as an anthropologist of the first quality, who combined an imaginative understanding of the realities of eastern social life with a shrewd scepticism of generalizations and a mastery of the techniques of social survey. He had been awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal and had been elected president of the Royal Anthopological Institute in 1929, and his work had been acknowledged by awards from the Royal Society of Arts, the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and the Anthropologische Gesellschaft of Vienna. He was awarded the Degree of D.Sc. at Oxford (a distinction about which he was always typically and modestly silent in Cambridge) and in 1938 he was appointed to give the Frazer Lectures in that university [and] became a Fellow of St Catharine’s College Cambridge...When the war intervened. Hutton moved into college as a resident Fellow (with his
adoring retriever!) and immediately became a mainstay of the wartime
college. He secured permission from the University to act as Bursar
of the College, and became a devoted and invaluable college officer. Always enthusiastic, well-informed and curious, he shared the duties, the hardships and the amenities of Cambridge with the architects, the
medicos and the service men who were drafted into residence, and, lacking pupils, he not only managed his land in Radnorshire with the
same care as he gave to his bursarial duties and accepted office as
Sheriff of that county, but laid the foundations of two scholarly books
which he published when peace brought an end to restrictions : Caste in India [which] confirmed his mastery of the complexities of his chosen
subject [and] Pictures of St Catharine's College. [In] 1950 he retired again to Radnorshire.
Full obituary pages 24-26 of the Society Magazine including a tribute reprinted from the Times