FLEET, John Faithfull

FLEET, John Faithfull. Royston (Chiswick) 1.5.1847 — London 21.2.1917. British Indologist (Epigraphist and Historian). Son of John George Fleet, a wholesale sugar dealer, and Esther Faithful, educated at Merchant Taylor’s School in London. In 1865 he passed the I.C.S. examination and began studies at University College in London, including Sanskrit under Goldstücker. In 1867 he came to India and worked with success at Revenue and Executive Branch in Bombay Presidency. From 1872 Educational Inspector in Southern Division, from 1875 Assistant Political Agent in Kolhapur and Southern Maratha country, from 1882 Collector and Magistrate. All the time he was much interested in scholarly matters, especially in epigraphy. In 1883-86 he was the first Government Epigraphist of India. After the office was suspended, he was in 1886-89 Junior Collector and Magistrate in Sholapur, from 1889 Senior Collector. From 1891 Commissioner of the Southern, from 1892 of the Central Division, from 1893 Commissioner of the Customs. In 1897 he retired and returned to England and concentrated on his studies. He lived in Ealing and was often ill. C.I.E. 1884. Hon. Ph.D. 1892 Göttingen. In 1906-17 he was the Honorary Secretary of the R.A.S. and in 1912 obtained its Gold Medal.

Fleet practically created the scientific epigraphy and chronology of India. He established the Gupta chronology. He had an exceptionally good command of Sanskrit and Kannaḍa and a good knowledge of astronomy. In the beginning he had to work with few aids, but was nevertheless succesful. He was not much interested in literature, but collected folk ballads, which he published together with notations (!) in the IA. He persuaded the grammarian Kielhorn to take epigraphy.

Publications: A great number of articles in JBRAS, IA, EI, later also in JRAS, mainly on history, chronology and epigraphy.

–  With J. Burgess: Report on the antiquities of Kâthiâwâḍ and Kachh, being the result of the second season’s operations of the Archæological survey of Western India. 1874-75. 10+242 p. 74 pl. L. 1876; Report on the antiquities in the Bidar and Aurangabad districts, in the territories of His Highness the nizam of Haidarabad, being the result of the third season’s operations of the Archæological survey of Western India, 1875-76. 8+138 p. 66 pl. L. 1878.

– “A Selection of Kanarese Ballads”, IA 14, 1885, 293-303; 15, 1886, 349-353; 16, 1887, 356-361; 18, 1889, 353-362; 19, 1890, 413-4??.

Pāli, Sanskrit and Old-Canarese Inscriptions. 30 p. L. 1878; “Sanskrit and Old Kanarese Inscriptions”, IA 5-18, 1876-89.

The Inscriptions of Early Gupta Kings and their Successors. 7+350 p. 45 pl. Corpus Inscr. Indicarum 3. Calcutta 1888.

– “The Topographical list of the Brihat-Samhita”, IA 22, 1893, 169-195.

The Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts in the Bombay Presidency from the earliest historical times to the Musalman Conquest. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency I:2 (5:2:3?). Bombay 1895, 277-584.

Translated from German: G. Bühler: Indian Palaeography. Appendix to IA 33, Bombay 1904.

– “Notes on Three Buddhist Inscriptions: The inscription on the Piprāwā vase; The inscription on a vase from Sōnāri; Another inscription from Sōnāri”, JRAS 1905, 679-691; “The Inscription on the Piprawa Vase”, JRAS 1906, 149-180; “The Inscription on the Peshawar Vase”, JRAS 1906, 711-716; “The Inscription on the Piprahwa Vase”, JRAS 1907, 105-130; “The Inscription on the Sohgaura Plate”, JRAS 1907, 509-532; “The Bhattiprolu Inscription No 1, A”, JRAS 1908, 99-186; “The Inscription on the Sohgaura Plate”, JRAS 1908, 187f., 822f.

Indian Epigraphy: The Inscriptional Bases of Indian Historical Research. 4+88 p. Oxford 1907 (from the Imperial Gazetteer of India 2, 1908, 1-88).

– “The Date of the Buddha’s Death as determined by a Record of Asoka”, JRAS 1904, 1-26; “St. Thomas and Gondophernes”, JRAS 1905, 223-236; “Sagala, Sakala, the city of Milinda and Mihirakula”, Actes du XIVème Congrès intern. des Orientalistes, Alger 1905 I:1, 164-176; “The Day on which Buddha died”, JRAS 1909, 1-34; “Origin of the Buddhavarsha, the Ceylonese reckoning from the death of Buddha”, JRAS 1909, 323-356.

Edited with R. C. Temple: IA 14-20, 1886-1892.

Sources: L. D. Barnett, JRAS 1917, 415-418; L. D. Barnett & R. C. Temple, IA 46, 1917, 128-132 (with photo); Buckland, Dictionary; L. Finot, BEFEO 17:6, 1917, 59; L. Rice, Ep. Ind. 13, 1915-16, ix-xii; Wikipedia.

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