Sir Richard Carnac Temple was born in Allahabad, then in India, in 1850 the son of a future Governor of the Bombay Presidency of the East India Company. His great grandfather came from the Rivett-Carnac family – one with a long history on the sub-continent. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, Temple retired to England after a long career in the British Indian army, the Gurkhas and colonial administration, becoming a writer. He had served throughout British India from Bombay to Rangoon. Throughout his life he had been an amateur anthropologist and served on the Council of the Hakluyt Society dedicated to publishing the records of voyages, travels and other geographic material.
Thus, Temple was an obvious choice when Eliot Howard wanted someone to edit an ancient manuscript that had passed through his family into his possession. Together, the two men carried out extensive research to identify the author of the manuscript as the Captain Thomas Bowrey who had written the first Malay-English dictionary. In Temple’s hands, this manuscript was published as A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal 1669-1679 in 1905.
Temple went on to edit The Travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia 1608-1667 and The Diaries of Streysham Master 1675-1680. Previously he had founded the Panjab Notes and Queries and edited the Indian Antiquary..
Eight years after The Bay of Bengal had been published, Harry Hiorns discovered a bundle of old documents in an attic of Cleeve Prior manor house in Worcestershire. Hiorns mentioned the find to his friend John Humphreys of the British Association. During his enquiries into the original owner of the papers, Humphreys came across The Bay of Bengal. He met with Temple and the two me worked through the papers together.
That was the start of a project that was to last the rest of Temple’s life. He published The Papers of Thomas Bowrey in 1927 and The Tragedy of the Worcester in 1930. He died in Switzerland in 1931. As a measure of his importance in sphere, his obituaries were published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Arts and The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.