ELLIS, Francis Whyte. 1777? — Ramnad 10.3.1819. British Civil Servant in India and a Pioneer of Indology. From 1796 at Madras Civil Service, 1802 as Secretary to the Board of Revenue, 1810 Collector of Madras.
Died of the cholera. He was a pioneer of Dravidian linguistics, who was, i.al., capable of showing the Tamil origin of Malayālam. He was also interested in Telugu, knew well Sanskrit, and succesfylly showed the real character of the Ézour-Vedam. He was one of the first to note that the Dravidian languages were not derived from Sanskrit (1816). He appointed A. Muttusami Pillai as Munshi at the College of Fort St. George and advised him to start collecting Tamil manuscripts, but the collection is said to have been destroyed by Ellis’ successor. Also interested in social questions.
Publications: “Essay on Telugu Language”, printed in A. D. Campbell, Telugu Grammar. 1816; other papers on Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
– The Sacred Kurral of Tiruvalluva-Nâyanâr. 304 p. Madras 1819 (13 short chapters ed. & transl.); Tirukkural: Ellis’ Commentary (the whole Arattuppāl section), edited by R. P. Sethu Pillai. 406 p. Madras University Tamil Series 20. 1955.
– “Account of a Discovery of a modern imitation of the Védas, with remarks on the genuine works”, As. Res. 14, 1822, 1-60 (on the Ézour-Vedam).
– “Dissertation on the Malayâlma Language”, IA 7, 1878, 275-287.
Sources: *R.E. Asher, “Notes on F.E. and an unpublished fragment of his commentary on Tirukkural”, Proc. of the 1st int. Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, Kuala Lumpur 1968-69; Buckland, Dictionary; *S. Oleksiw, “F.W.E.: A Brief Review of his Work”, ALB 51, 1987, 267-???; D.N.B. 17; *IA 4, 219-221; Wikipedia gives a Hindutva text accusing him of defective linguistic knowledge because of his “wron” assumption that Dravidian is not related to Sanskrit.