Papers of Daniel John Gogerly

Scope and Content

The material mainly consists of handwritten translations of Buddhist texts by Gogerly and others, handwritten Pali-English dictionaries, and later correspondence concerning their publication.

Administrative / Biographical History

Daniel John Gogerly (1792-1862) was a British Wesleyan Methodist missionary, who served in Sri Lanka from 1818, never returning to England. He was one of the first British translators of the Pāli texts into English, and the greater part of his time was spent in research work in the literature of Ceylon Buddhism. His aim was to accurately portray Buddhism, but he also used his translations to highlight differences between Buddhism and Christianity in furtherance of his missionary agenda. Overall, Gogerly is important not only because his translations were so early but also because the differing factors that conditioned them underscore the complexity within any study of orientalist representations of Buddhism.

After passing several years in general studies, and particularly in earnest preparation for the ministry, he proceeded to Ceylon in 1818, to take charge of the Wesleyan Mission Press at Colombo. From the time of his arrival, he engaged in the study of the vernacular tongues, and was one of the first missionaries who preached extemporaneously in the Sinhalese language. While at Negombo, where he was stationed from 1822 to 1834, he began the study of Pali.

His principal publications consist in essays and translations contributed to the pages of various local periodicals and the Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, of which he became in succession secretary, vice-president, and president. These papers are of value to researchers, as records of ancient Pali treatises, of which neither translations nor printed editions existed before Gogerly. His 'Dictionary of the Pali language' could be considered his greatest literary work. He had begun to compile it while at Mathura, and continued adding to it constantly as his reading became more extensive, so that at the time of his death it contained 15,000 words.

Gogerly died at the Wesleyan Mission House, Colpetty, near Colombo, in 1862.

Thomas William Rhys Davids was born on 12th May 1843 in Colchester, Essex, the son of a Congregational clergyman. Before entering the Ceylon Civil Service he studied Sanskrit at Breslau under A.F. Stenzler. He went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1866 and immediately began to study Pali. He returned to England in 1877 and was called to the Bar but from 1882 Rhys Davids was Professor of Pali at University College London. In 1905 he took up the Chair of Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester. He was a founder member of the Royal Academy and an active member of the Royal Asiatic Society, serving as Secretary and Librarian from 1887-1904.

Arthur Stanley Bishop was born in 1879. He became a Methodist minister and spent time in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma. He acted as superintendent of the Wesleyan Methodist Book Room at the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, Colombo and was responsible for the editing of Gogerly's material for publication after Gogerly's death.


The Papers was without original order and therefore was catalogued according to types of material:

  • DJG/1 Pali-English Dictionaries
  • DJG/2 Translations of Jātakas
  • DJG/3 Translations of Suttas
  • DJG/4 Translation of the Thūpavaṃsa
  • DJG/5 Translation of the Mahāvagga
  • DJG/6 Translation of the Dhammasoṇḍa
  • DJG/7 Translation of the Selections from the Aṅguttara-nikāya
  • DJG/8 Translation of the Suttas from the Dhammapada
  • DJG/9 Translation of Some Fragments from the Sutta-vibhaṅga
  • DJG/10 Translation of the Fragment from the Culla-vaga of the Khandhaka Book
  • DJG/11 Sidath Sangarawa
  • DJG/12 Abstract of Pali Grammar
  • DJG/13 Miscellaneous Fragments of Sinhalese Scripts
  • DJG/14 Indexes for Various works translated by Gogerly
  • DJG/15 Correspondence related to the publication of Gogerly's collected works

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist using the email address given here. The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID

Acquisition Information

It is unknown how the majority of the material came to be part of the Royal Asiatic Society's Archives. Presumably it was donated sometime after the publication of Gogerly's collected writings in 1908. DJG/1/2 was donated to the Society by Donald Ferguson, sometime after June 1878, after purchasing it in the sale of the book of Reverend David de Silva, Wesleyan minister.

Archivist's Note

This material was catalogued by Ginte Serenaite, Archive Volunteer, under the supervision of Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in March 2017

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Related Material

Also within the RAS Library Collections are:

  • Ceylon Buddhism : being the collected writings of Daniel John Gogerly / edited by Arthur Stanley Bishop. (1908)
  • Sept suttas pâlis / tirés du Dîgha-nikâya, par P. Grimblot. Traductions diverses anglaises et françaises. (1876) with preface by Daniel John Gogerly