HEWITT, James Francis. 183? — 14.3.1908. British Civil Servant in India, a Scholar of Indian Ethnology and Prehistory. Born in Ireland, educated in Westminster, studies at Oxford (Christ Church). Joined I.S.C., served in Krishnagarh. From 1863 Deputy Commissioner in Chota Nagpur, became much interested in local primitive tribes, following the example of the ethnologist Dalton. Later served as Commissioner of Chota Nagpur. Married with Constance Stanley, two sons and two daughters.
In retirement JFH started working with his large materials on Mundas, Gonds, etc. Without philological schooling he proposed fanciful etymologies and explained stories as myths. In Nala he saw a rain god, and Damayantī should be the earth gradually taken into agriculture. However, he was industrious and knew very well his large and partly unique material. Beveridge compared him to James Tod.
Publications: The Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times. 1-2. Westminster 1894-95.
– The History and Chronology of the Myth-making Age. 1901.
– Primitive Traditional History. 1-2. L. 1907.
– many articles in JRAS, Westminster Review, etc., e.g. “Notes on early history of Northern India”, JRAS 20, 1880, 321-363; 21, 1889, 187-359, 527-582; 22, 1890, 527-605, 664f., 697-758.
Sources: H. Beveridge, JRAS 1908, 964-966; not in D.N.B., Who Was Who.