1915 - Mrs A. S. Lewis and Mrs M. D. Gibson

Scope and Content

There is a single letter in this series from Alex H. Wilson, on behalf of T.C. Wilson & Co., Solicitors, to the Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society to give his opinion on the awarding of the medal for 1915 in accordance with the Rules of the Society. Typed letter, dated 18 May 1915.

For material regarding the conferment of the Medal see Related Material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson were twin sisters born in 1843. Between them they knew more than a dozen languages. Agnes's discovery of the Syriac Sinaiticus, on one of her many journeys to Sinai, was the most important manuscript find since that of the Codex Sinaiticus in 1859 and they made a significant contribution to Syriac and Arabic studies in their cataloguing of the Arabic and Syriac manuscripts at Saint Catherine's Monastery. They travelled much in Europe and in the Middle East until the start of the First World War and they collected about 1700 manuscript fragments, now known as the Lewis-Gibson collection. Margaret died in 1920 and Agnes in 1926.

Related Material

In the Council Minutes for 9 February 1915 it was agreed to postpone the award of the Gold Medal for a year due to the difficulty of communicating with foreign scholars. However in the Minutes for 11 May 1915, it was suggested that this Minute be rescinded and the President agreed to consult the Society's Honorary Solicitor regarding the legality of this action. A Special Council Meeting was then held on 18th May 1915 to discuss the matter and a resolution to form a committee of Mr Dames, Professor Macdonall and Professor Margoliouth was approved by the Council. On 8 June 1915, the Committee's nomination of a joint award to Miss Lewis and Mrs Gibson was accepted.The President agreed to ask the Secretary of State for India to present the Medal.

In the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1915 (3), pp. 617-622 there is a report of the Presentation of the Gold Medal by Mr Austen Chamberlain, Secretary of State for India, to Mrs Lewis and Mrs Gibson for "their labours in Syriac and Arabic research.