Samuel Beal

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Samuel Beal (27 November 1825, Davenport – 20 August 1889, Greens Norton) was an Oriental scholar, and the first Englishman to translate direct from the Chinese the early records of Buddhism, thus throwing light upon Indian history.


Samuel Beal was born in Davenport, near Stockport, Cheshire and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1847.[1] He was ordained deacon in 1851, and priest in the following year. After serving as curate at Brooke in Norfolk and Sopley in Hampshire, he applied for the office of naval chaplain, and was appointed to H.M.S. Sybille during the China War of 1856-58.[2]

In 1857, he printed for private circulation a pamphlet showing that the Tycoon of Yedo (i.e. Tokugawa Shogun of Edo), with whom foreigners had made treaties, was not the real Emperor of Japan. He retired from the navy in 1877. In 1877, he was appointed professor of Chinese at University College, London.[2]

His reputation was established by his series of works which traced the travels of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims in India from the fifth to the seventh century, A. D., and by his books on Buddhism, which have become classics.

Partial list of works

  • Travels of Fah-Hian and Sung-Yun, Buddhist pilgrims, from China to India (400 A.D. and 518 A.D.). (1869)
  • The Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese (1872)
  • The Romantic Legend of Buddha (1876)
  • Texts from the Buddhist Canon, Dhammapada (1878)
  • Buddhism in China (1884)
  • Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World, by Hiuen Tsiang. 2 vols. Translated by Samuel Beal. London. 1884. Reprint: Delhi. Oriental Books Reprint Corporation. 1969. (Includes The Travels of Sung-Yun and Fa-Hien).
  • The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang. Translated from the Chinese of Shaman Hwui Li by Samuel Beal. London. 1911. Reprint Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi. 1973.


  1. "Beal, Samuel (BL843S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Douglas 1901.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainDouglas, Robert Kennaway (1901). "Beal, Samuel". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links