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John William Kaye

J W Kaye.jpg

Sir John William Kaye KCSI (1814 – 24 July 1876) was a British military historian, civil servant and army officer. His major works on military history include a three-volume work on The History of the Sepoy War in India. This work was revised later by Colonel G. B. Malleson and published in six volumes in 1890 as Kaye and Malleson's History of the Indian Mutiny.

The second son of Charles Kaye, a solicitor, and Eliza, daughter of Hugh Atkins, he was born in London and baptized on 30 June 1814. He was educated at Eton College and at the Royal Military College, Addiscombe. From 1832 to 1841 he was an officer in the Bengal Artillery commissioned on 14 December 1832 as a Bengal artillery cadet, afterwards spending some years in literary pursuits both in India and in Britain.[1] He married Mary Catherine (1813-1893), daughter of Thomas Puckle of Surrey, in 1839. In 1841 he resigned from the army and began to write for newspapers such as the Bengal Harkaru. In 1844 he started the Calcutta Review while also writing a novel based in Afghanistan. In 1856 he entered the civil service of the East India Company, and when in 1858 the government of India was transferred to the British crown, he succeeded John Stuart Mill as secretary of the political and secret department of the India office. In 1871 he was made a KCSI. He died in London at his home at Rose Hill on 24 July 1876.[2][3]


Pen sketch of John William Kaye by Colesworthey Grant, circa 1838
  • Peregrine Pultuney; or, Life in India (1844), a novel in three volumes, published anonymously
  • Long Engagements: A Tale of the Affghan Rebellion (1846), a novel in one volume, published anonymously
  • 1851: History of the War in Afghanistan (London, 1851), republished in 1858 and 1874 (Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3)
  • Sir John William Kaye (1853). The Administration of the East India Company: A History of Indian Progress. R. Bentley.
  • John William Kaye (1854). The Life and Correspondence of Charles, Lord Metcalfe. Richard Bentley.
  • John William Kaye (1854). The Life and Correspondence of Henry St. George Tucker. R. Bentley.
  • 1856: Life and Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm (London, 1856) (Volume 1, Volume 2)
  • Sir John William Kaye (1859). Christianity in India: An Historical Narrative. Smith, Elder.
  • 1864: History of the Sepoy War in India (London, 1864-1876), which was revised and continued by Colonel G. B. Malleson and published in six volumes in 1888-1889. The full text of this later revised work History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857–8. is online at (All six volumes in HTML form, complete, chapter-by-chapter, with all illustrations, footnotes and a combined index)
  • 1867: Lives of Indian Officers (London, 1867) (Volume 1 Volume 2)

He also edited several works dealing with Indian affairs; wrote Essays of an Optimist (London, 1870); and was a frequent contributor to periodicals.


  1. ^ "Biographical Sketches No.3 - Lieut. J. W. Kaye". Calcutta Monthly Journal. Calcutta: Samuel Smith and Co. For the year 1838: 33–84. 1839.
  2. ^ Rapson, E. J. (revised by Roger T. Stearn) (2004). "Kaye, Sir John William (1814-1876)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15201.
  3. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Kaye, Sir John William". Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 703.

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