TENNENT, James Emerson (until 1832 James Emerson). Belfast 7.4.1804 — London 6.3.1869. Sir (Bart). British (of Northern Ireland) Lawyer, Administrator and Politician in Sri Lanka. Son of William Emerson, a merchant in Belfast, and Sarah Arbuthnot. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1824 he traveled in Greece. In 1831 called to the bar. In 1832 M.P. for Belfast (conservative, but modest) and then often until 1845, when he was knighted. In 1841-43 Secretary to the India Board. In 1845-50 Colonial Secretary of Ceylon, then again in politics at home. LL.D. 1861 Trinity College. Baronet 1867. Married 1831 his cousin Letitia Tennent, took himself the name Tennent in 1832. Two daughters and one son.
Tennent was much more a politician and administrator than a scholar, but his classic book on Sri Lanka is still famous and can be read with use. When new it ran five editions in less than a year.
Publications: With others: A picture of Greece in 1825. 1-2. L. 1826 (as J.E.), and further works on Greece and other European subjects.
– Christianity in Ceylon, its Introduction and Progress … with sketch of the Brahmanical and Buddhist superstition. 15+348 p. L. 1850.
– Ceylon: an account of the island, physical, historical and topographical, with notices on its natural history, antiquities, and production. 1-2. L. 1859, rev. 5th ed. 1-2. 39+643, 16+669 p. L. 1860.
– The wild elephant and the method of capturing and taming it in Ceylon. 20+198 p. L. 1867.
– Other works unrelated with the East.
Sources: G.C.B[oase], D.N.B. 56, 1898, 65f., rev. by *E. Baigent Oxford D.N.B.; Wikipedia with two portraits.
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