MCCRINDLE, John Watson. near Maybole, South Ayrshire 16.2.1825 — Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex 16.7.1913. British (Scottish) Civil Servant and Classical Scholar in India. Son of John McCrindle. Educated in Maybole, studies at Edinburgh, graduated B.A. 1854 in classics (M.A. 1855). Worked as teacher of classical languages in three Edinburgh schools. In 1859 came to Calcutta as Principal of Doveton College. In 1866 joined Bengal Educational Service, first as Professor at Krishnagar College, then 1867-80 as the first Principal of Patna College. Retired in 1880. In Patna he founded, with his wife’s assistance (or perhaps rather assisting her), the first high school for Indian girls. He was a Fellow of Calcutta University from 1860 and often served as examinator (for history, logic, and political economy). After a couple of years spent in London he settled down in Edinburgh. In 1902 he moved to England and spent the last eight or nine years of his life, now nearly blind, in Westcliff-on-Sea. LL.D. 1898 Edinburgh. Married Mary McLean (d. 1879).
McCrindle was a leading specialist of the classical accounts of India, the majority of whom he published in translation. He was well versed in classical philology and although his books occasionally suffer of the distance from any good library (the notes were often somewhat antiquated), they still are the only handy way for a scholar unacquainted with classical languages to study these sources. Some of the editions he had to use are now considered antiquated, but his translations are reliable. The notes are less valuable, he often refers to sources even then antiquated and in India much of the recent Western research necessarily remained unknown to him.
Publications: “The Indica of Arrian”, IA 5, 1876, 85-108 & 329-340; “Fragments of the Indica of Megasthenes”, IA 6, 1877, 113-135, 236-250 & 333-349; both as book: Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian. Calcutta & L. 1877; repr. with notes by R. C. Majumdar, Calc. 1960, and by R. Jain, Delhi 1972.
– The Commerce and Navigation of the Erythraean Sea; being a translation of the Periplus maris Erythraei, by an anonymous writer, and of Arrian’s account of the voyage of Nearchus. 4+238 p. Calcutta & L. 1879 (from IA 8, 1879, 107-151 (the Periplus only), repr. together with McCrindle 1882, Amsterdam 1973.
– Ancient India as described by Ktêsias the Knidian. 8+104 p. Calcutta & L. 1882 (from IA 10, 1881, 296-323).
– Ancient India as described by Ptolemy. L. 1885 (from IA 13, 1884, 313–411, repr. with notes by S. N. Majumdar, Calcutta 1927, and by R. Jain, Amsterdam & Faridabad n. d. [in 1970s]).
– The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great. 15+432 p. Westminster 1893, 2nd ed. 1896; repr. New Delhi n. d. [in 1970s]).
– The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian Monk. Works Issued by The Hakluyt Society No. 98. L. 1897, repr. 1964.
– Ancient India as described in Classical Literature. 21+226 p. Westminster 1901.
Sources: J. B[everidge], JRAS 1913, 1100f.; Buckland, Dictionary; German Wikipedia briefly.
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