HOLDICH, Colonel Sir THOMAS HUNGERFORD, British Army officer and Anglo-Indian surveyor (b. Dingley, Northamptonshire, 1842; d. Merrow, Surrey, 1929; Figure 1). The son of a country parson, Holdich was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in 1862. He joined the Survey of India in 1865 and was Superintendent of Frontier Surveys from 1891 until retirement in 1898, by which time he had “a more profound knowledge of the geography and inhabitants of the north-western frontier of India than any other living man” (Geographical Journal, 1930, p. 324). He was a survey officer with British forces in their Bhutan (1865-66), Abyssinian (1867-68), and Afghan (1878-79) campaigns. As head of the Baluchistan Survey Party from 1883, Holdich organized surveys of south Baluchistan and Makran as far as Jask and Bandar ʿAbbās. In 1884 he headed the Russo-Afghan Boundary Commission’s survey party; in 1896 he was the chief British Commissioner on the Perso-Baluch Boundary Commission; and in 1900 he was a member of the Arbitration Tribunal that settled the long-standing Argentine-Chile boundary dispute. Holdich was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Gold Medal in 1887 and knighted in 1896. In retirement he wrote about Indian and Afghan geography and his own experiences.


Archival. Foreign Office Papers, Public Record Office, Kew, London. Oriental and India Office Collections, British Library, London. Royal Geographic Society Archives, London.

Published sources. J. R. H. Weaver, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 1922-30, pp. 425-26.

Geographical Journal, March 1930, pp. 324-401 (obituaries).

Thomas Hungerford Holdich, The Indian Borderland, London, 1901.

Idem, India and Tibet, London, 1904 and 1906.

Idem, The Gates of India, London, 1910.

Idem, Political Frontiers and Boundary Making, London, 1918.

Idem, “The Perso-Baluch Boundary,” Geographical Journal 9, 1897, pp. 416-22.

Idem, “Between the Tigris and Indus,” Geographical Review 4, 1917, pp. 161-70.

Ella Constance Sykes, Through Persia on a Side-Saddle, London, 1901, pp. 230-43.

Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes, A History of Persia II, London, 1921, 363-64.

Idem, Ten Thousand Miles in Persia, London, 1902, pp. 224-31.

The Times, London, 4 November 1929 (obituary).

(Denis Wright)

Originally Published: December 15, 2004

Last Updated: March 23, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XII, Fasc. 4, p. 430

Cite this entry:

Denis Wright, “HOLDICH, THOMAS HUNGERFORD,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, I/2, pp. 96-99, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/holdich-thomas-hungerford (accessed on 30 December 2012).