BABINGTON, Benjamin Guy

BABINGTON, Benjamin Guy. London 5.3.1794 — London 5/8.4.1865. British Physician interested in Tamil Language and Literature. Son of a London physician, William B. (of Irish origin), and Martha Elizabeth Hough, he served early in the navy, got then an appointment in India and went there after having studied two years at Haileybury. In 1812–14 in Madras, learnt Tamil and some Sanskrit, and started a study of Mahabalipuram inscriptions. In 1817 again in Madras, but had continuous problems with his health, and had later, in 1819, to return to England, where he began medical studies. Graduated M.D. 1830. He still continued his studies on Tamil for a while, and planned even a dictionary, but after 1831 seems to have lost his interest in Asian studies. Instead practised a succesful career as a hospital physician (until 1855). Now he was interested in organic chemistry and medicine, invented medical instruments and published some studies. Taught at Royal College of Physicians. Married with Anna Mary Fayle, four children.

With Sir John Newbolt he founded in 1823 the Madras Literary Society. Honorary secretary to the R.A.S. in 1826. On ground of the Mahabalipuram article and its plates one of the pioneers on Indian palaeography.

Publications: ed. & transl. from Latin Beschi’s Tamil Grammar: Beschi Shen-Tamizh. A Grammar of the High Dialect of the Tamil Language, termed Shen Tamil, to which is added an Introduction to Tamil Poetry. Madras 1822.

transl. from Tamil: Adventures of Gooroo Paramartan. With Tamil text. L. 1822; “The Vedála Cadai“(Vetālapañcavimśati)m ch. 4 (20 p.) of Miscellaneous Translations from Oriental Languages. 1. Or. Tr. Fund. L. 1831.

– “An Account of the Sculptures and Inscriptions at Mahāmalaipur”, TrRAS 2:1, 1829, 258-269 & 18 plates.

Sources: J.F.P[ayne], D.N.B. 2, 1885, 311f.; JRAS Annual Report for 1867, xivf.; Gosche, ZDMG Wiss. Jahrb. 1862–67, 68f.; several further biographic notes in the Br. Biogr. Archives; Wikipedia (with picture).


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