DAMANT, Guybon Henry. Cowes, Isle of Wight 9.5.1846 — Khorama, Nagaland 14.10.1879. British Civil Servant and Ethnologist in India (1869-79). Son of Henry James D., a lawyer, and Elizabeth Johnson Knight. Educated at St. Paul’s School (or Merchant Taylor’s School?) in London. Studies from 1864 at Christ’s College, Cambridge, M.A. 1868 in classics (Peile) and Sanskrit & Bengali (Cowell). Joined the I.C.S. and left 25.11.1869 for India, where he served as assistant to the Magistrate and Collector in Dinajpur, from 1873 in Rangpur. Distinguished during the Bengal famine 1873-74. From September 1874 Assistant Commissioner in Kachar, in 1876 to Manipur on special duty. From April 1877 Deputy Commissioner, 4th grade, in the same year acting 3rd grade. From May 1878 Political Officer in charge of the Naga Hills. In summer 1878 he visited England and married. He died in battle leading an expedition to Khorma to seize illegal weapons.
Damant was an ardent ethnographist and folklorist, also interested in linguistics and epigraphy. He greatly admired brave Nagas. He collected a Manipur Dictionary, but the manuscript was destroyed by Nagas.
Publications: Articles, on Dinajpur legends and folklore (IA 1, 1872), on Bengali folklore (IA 1-4, 1872-75 & 8, 1879), on Manipur folklore (IA 4, 1875 & 6, 1877); Notes on Bengali language and inscriptions (IA 2, 1873).
– “Notes on Sháh Ismá’il Gházi”, JASB 43:1, 1874, 215-221, with “Persian text of Risálat ush-Shuhadá, or ‘Book of Martyrs,’ containing an account of Ismá’il Gházi of Káṇtá Dúár, Rangpúr”, 222-239.
– “Notes on Manipuri grammar”, JASB 44:1, 1875, 173-181; “Notes on the Old Manipuri character”, JASB 46:1, 1877, 36-38.
– “Notes on the Tribes dwelling between the Brahmaputra and Ningthi Rivers”, JRAS 12, 1880, 228-258.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; JRAS 12, 1880, Proc. iii-v; Alumni Cantabr.; genealogical pages.