FERGUSON, Donald William. Colombo 8.10.1853 — Croydon near London 29.6.1910. British (Scottish) Journalist and Scholar of Sri Lankan History (especially of Colonial Period). Son of —> Alastair M. F. (d. 1892) and Anne Mackerras. The father came to Ceylon in 1837, was a long time the chief proprietor and editor of the Ceylon Observer, and died there in 1892. His son was educated in England, at Denmark Hill Grammar School and at Regent’s Park Baptist College. Studies of medicine at University College in London, but gave up without graduating. For many years he was co-proprietor and co-editor of the Ceylon Observer with his father and his cousin. Because of health problems he retired to England in 1893, settling down in Croydon where he concentrated on his studies on Sri Lankan history (mainly concentrating on the Portuguese period). He knew Sinhalese and Tamil, and several European languages. Married 1883 Winifred Meredith Waldock, two daughters.

Publications: Many articles in JRAS-CB and CALR:

– “Captain João Ribeiro: His Work on Ceylon, and the French translation thereof by the Abbé le Grand”, JRAS-CB 10:36, 1888, 263-309; “Ribeiro’s Account of the Seige of Colombo in 1655-56”, JRAS-CB 12:42, 1891, 74-108 (transl.); “A Letter from the King of Portugal to Raja Sinha II”, JRAS-CB16:50, 1899, 32-35 (text & transl.); “A Chapter in Ceylon History in 1630”, JRAS-CB16:51, 1900, 126-131; “João Rodriguez de Sá e Menezes”, JRAS-CB16:51, 1900, 140-145; “The Discovery of Ceylon by the Portuguese in 1506”, JRAS-CB 19:59, 1907, 284-385; “Mulgiri-Gala”, JRAS-CB 22:64, 1911, 197-235.

– “A Belgian Physician’s Notes on Ceylon in 1687-89 – Translated from the Dutch”, JRAS-CB10:35, 1887, 141-174 (Aegidius Daalman of Antwerpen, d. 1703); “Correspondance between Rája Sinha II and the Dutch”, JRAS-CB 18:55, 1904, 166-275; “John Gideon Loten, F.R.S., the Naturalist Governor of Ceylon (1752-57) and the Ceylonese Artist de Bevere”, JRAS-CB 19:58, 1907, 217-269; “Letters from the Rája Siṇha II to the Dutch”, JRAS-CB21:62, 1909, 259-275.

“Robert Knox’s Siṇhalese Vocabulary”, JRAS-CB 14:47, 1896, 155-200; “The Inscribed Mural Stone at the Maha Saman Déválé, Ratnapura”, JRAS-CB16:50, 1899, 84-114, 1 pl.; “Alagiyavanna Mohoṭṭála, the Author of ‘Kusajátaka Kávyaya”, JRAS-CB16:50, 1899, 115-120.

– The Reverend Philippus Baldceus and his Work on Ceylon. Colombo 1895; Captain Robert Knox: the twenty years’ captive in Ceylon: Contributions towards a biography. Colombo 1896-97.

Translated: The History of Ceylon, from the Earliest Times to 1600 A.D., as related by João de Barros and Diogo do Couto. 445 p. Publ. in JRAS-CB as vol. 20:60. Colombo 1908.

The Earliest Dutch Visits to Ceylon. 185 p. N.D. 1998 (reprinted from JRAS-CB 1927-30).

Sources: A.M. Ferguson, IA 40, 1911, 103f.; R. C. Temple, JRAS 1911, 269f.; Ceylon Literary Register 3rd ser. 1, 1931, 1f. with photo; list of articles in JRAS-CB 22:64, 1911, 131f.

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