CEYLON An Account of the Islands

Two English books on Ceylon nowadays Sri Lanka, perhaps the most complete work on Ceylon ever penned. The work is an account of many aspects of the island with chapters on the geology, climate, flora and fauna, history, religion, farming, commerce, the arts, science, Portuguese, Dutch and English, elephants, forest, and ruined cities.

Title: CEYLON An Account of the Islands, Physical, Historical, and Topographical with Notices of Its Natural History, Antiquities, and Productions.

Written by Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804-1869), an Irish politician and traveller who was appointed colonial secretary of Ceylon in 1845, remaining until 1850. One of the results of his residence in Ceylon was this publication. It proved so popular that five editions, variously revised, were published in eight months, the last (this edition) in 1860.

The work counts over 1300 pages, 9 maps and charts including 2 full-page and 2 foldings, 17 plans and charts, and numerous illustrations. A rare treat for connoisseurs of colonial India. Original cloth with gilt vignettes to upper boards. Corners and spine-ends slightly bumped.

Sir James Emerson Tennent, 1st Baronet FRS (7 April 1804 – 6 March 1869), born James Emerson, was a British politician and traveller born in Ireland. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 5 June 1862. In 1845 he was knighted and appointed colonial secretary of Ceylon, where he remained till 1850. While he was there, an economic depression in the United Kingdom severely affected the local coffee and cinnamon industry. Planters and merchants clamoured for a reduction of export duties. Tennent, therefore, recommended to Earl Grey, Secretary of State for Colonies in London that taxation should be radically shifted from indirect taxation to direct taxation, which proposal was accepted. It was decided to abolish the export duties on coffee and reduce the export duty on cinnamon leaving a deficit of £40,000 Sterling which was to be met by direct taxes on the people. This was one of the causes of the Matale Rebellion of 1848.

The result of his residence in Ceylon appeared in Christianity in Ceylon (1850) and Ceylon, Physical, Historical and Topographical (2 vols., 1859). The latter was illustrated by his protégé, fellow Ulsterman Andrew Nicholl. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes to it the first use in English of "rogue elephant", a translation of the Sinhala term wal aliya. He was elected the second President of the newly formed Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, serving from 1846 to 1857

On his return to the United Kingdom, he became a member for Lisburn, and under Lord Derby was secretary to the Poor Law Board in 1852. From 1852 till 1867 he was permanent secretary to the Board of Trade, and on his retirement, he has created a baronet of Tempo Manor in the Chapelry of Tempo in the County of Fermanagh. 

English books on Ceylon - Year 1680
Publication Place / Date
Image Dimensions
London / 1860
G+ / Study images carefully
Product Price
Product Number
SKU #B.0011

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