JOHNSTON, Alexander

JOHNSTON, Alexander. Carnsalloch, Dumfriesshire 25.4.1775 — London 6.3.1849. Sir. British (Scots) Colonial Official in Sri Lanka. Son of Samuel J. and Hester Napier. Grew up in Madurai, where Chr. Fr. Schwarz was his teacher. Learned Tamil, Telugu and Hindustani. In 1792 the family returned to the U.K. and AJ studied law at Göttingen and Lincoln’s Inn. From 1899 Advocate General, then 1802 Advocate Fiscal, 1807 Puisne Justice of Supreme Court and in 1811-19 the third Chief Justice of Ceylon. Made important reforms in education, abolished slavery, accepted natives in administration, introduced freedom of religion and developed legislature. Back in the U.K. he was founder member of R.A.S. Married 1799 Miss Campbell, at least one son. According to Burnouf his Mahāvaṁsa was “une traduction anglaise d’une trad. hollandaise d’une paraphrase singhalaise du texte pali” and was soon superseded by Turnour’s work.

Publications: “An Account of An Inscription found near Trincomalee in the Island of Ceylon”, TrRAS 1:2, 1826, 537*-540*, 2 pl.; with S. Lee, “A Cufic Inscription found in Ceylon”, TrRAS 1:2, 1826, 545-548, 1 pl (republished in J. Carswell et al. Mantai. 2013, 73ff.).

Mahávansi, the Rájá-Ratnácari, and the Rájá-Vali, forming the Sacred and Historical Books of Ceylon; also A Collection of Tracts illustrative of the Doctrines and Literature of Buddhism. Translated from the Singhalese by AJ, ed. by E. Upham. 1-3. L. 1833

Sources: Wikipedia with portrait.


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