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: LL.D. 1861. In 1824 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. Baronet 1867. Married in 1831 with Letitia Tennent, took himself the name Tennent in 1832. Two daughters, one son.
JET 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 5 editions in less than a year.
Publications: with others: A picture of Greece in 1825. 1826, and further works on Greece.
– 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.; Wikipedia with portrait.