LAIDLAY, John Watson. Glasgow 27.3.1808 — 8.3.1885. British (Scottish) Archaeologist and Numismatist in India. Son of John L., a businessman, and Elizabeth Watson, educated in London. Studied chemistry under Faraday, then, for India, Hindustani in London under Gilchrist. At 17 in 1825 went to India, employed in the mercantile house of his two uncles. In 1826–41 worked in charge of their indigo and silk factories, from 1844 stayed in Calcutta concentrating on the study of epigraphy, numismatics and chemistry. Retired in 1849 returning to England, resided first in London, then many years in Seacliff, North Berwick, studying chemistry, meteorology, archaeology and natural history. He knew Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and even Chinese. During a furlough in England he married 1843 Ellen Johnstone Hope, five sons and two daughters.
Publications: Eight articles in the JASB, e.g. “Note on a Sanskrit Inscription from Behar”, JASB 17:1, 498-501; “Notice of a Chinese Geographical Work”, JASB 18, 1849, 137-164; “Note on a Inscription from Keddah”, JASB 18, 1849, 247-249; also on ancient numismatics and on science.
– The Pilgrimage of Fa Hian. Transl. from the [Abel-Remusat’s] French edition of the Foe-koue-ki, with additional notes and illustrations. 6+373 p. Calcutta 1848.
– “Examination of the Karen Dialects”, JRAS 16, 1856, 59-72 (trying to make them Indo-European).
Sources: JRAS 17, 1885, Proc. xxvii-xxix; Proc. Royal Soc. Edinburgh 14, 1888, 120-122; Wikipedia.