He was educated at Edinburgh, Addiscombe and Chatham, and joined the Bengal Engineers in 1840. He served in both the Sikh wars, was secretary to Colonel (afterwards Sir) Arthur Phayre's mission to Ava (1855), and wrote his Narrative of the Mission to the Court of Ana (1858).
He retired in 1862 with the rank of colonel, and devoted his leisure to the medieval history and geography of Central Asia. He published Cathay and the Way Thither (1866), the Book of Marco Polo, for which he received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, and brought out with Dr Arthur C. Burnell Hobson-Jobson (1886), a dictionary of Anglo-Indian colloquial phrases.
For the Hakluyt Society, of which he was for some time president, he edited (1863) the Mirabilia descriptor of Jordanus and The Diary of William Hedges (1887-89). The latter contains a biography of Governor Pitt, grandfather of Chatham. From 1875 to 1889 Yule was a member of the Council of India, being appointed K.C.S.I, on his retirement.
See Memoir by his daughter, prefixed to the posthumous third edition of Marco Polo (1903).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.