Papers of Alexander Johnston

Scope and Content

The Papers of Alexander Johnston consists of manuscripts written by Johnston, commissioned by him, or simply presented by him to the Society. These are:

  • Portfolio of material donated by Sir Alexander Johnston to the Royal Asiatic Society
  • 'A Summary of the Principle Evidence for the Truth, Divine Origin of the Christian Revelation' by Beilby, Lord Bishop of London, translated J.G. Philips & C. de Saram into Sinhalese.
  • "Moses in the Bulrushes - A Sacred Drama" and "Joseph" by Hannah More, translations in Sinhalese.
  • Report on tumuli or barrows in the Sardis region (Turkey) by George Hale.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Alexander Johnston, PC, FRS (25 April 1775 – 6 March 1849), was born in Carnsalloch, Dumfriesshire but moved with his family to India when his father received a posting in the Madras Presidency. He returned to England to study law. Johnston became a British colonial official who served as third Chief Justice of Ceylon and second Advocate Fiscal of Ceylon. He introduced a range of administrative reforms to the country and was an advocate of the rights of the native people. He was also an orientalist and along with Henry Thomas Colebrooke and others he was a founding member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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

The items were presented to the Royal Asiatic Society by Sir Alexander Johnston.

Archivist's Note

This material was catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist in 2019.

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.

Custodial History

The material was either commissioned or acquired by Sir Alexander Johnston and then given to the Royal Asaitic Society.

Related Material

Alexander Johnston as a founder member of the Royal Asiatic Society donated many items to the Society including manuscripts and paintings. The Society has 18 drawings and 2 scroll paintings made by Sinhalese artists working for Johnston (Head cat. 087.001-087.020) and a painting of Gunung Merapi, Central Java, 1812 by Colin Mackenzie, presented to the Society by Alexander Johnston.