"a store-house of information on every aspect of life in early times"
List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon,
of historical or local interest, with an obituary of persons uncommemorated. Colombo printed by H. C. Cottle, Government Printer 1913
First edition. Folio (34 x 22 cm), pp.x, 462, frontispiece. A very good copy in the original cloth-backed boards. Boards a little grubby, edges worn. Contents clean. Ownership inscription of Henry B. Swanzy, dated 3 February 1914, on front pastedown. Swanzy has pasted in an eight-page letter from Penry dated 17 March 1912, written in response to additional information Swanzy supplied, together with Penry's obituary from the Times, October 2 1923. Three sheets of typescript errata and addenda tipped in at rear. Small stamp of the National Army Museum on endpapers.
John Penry Lewis (1854-1923) entered the Ceylon Civil Service in 1877 and rose to become a member of the Executive and Legislative Councils. He compiled this comprehensive collection of 1,485 inscriptions from cemeteries in Sri Lanka, with biographical details of deceased culled from extensive research in other sources. The earliest English inscription dates from 1748, but the great majority are from the nineteenth century. The cemeteries covered include those at Colombo, Kalutara, Negombo, Galle, Matara, Tangulla, Hambantota, Jaffna (where a cousin of William Makepeace Thackeray was buried), Mannar, Batticaloa, Trincomalee (where Jane Austen's brother was buried), Badulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Matale, Anuradhapura and other smaller sites. Lewis added details on a further 461 individuals not recorded in cemeteries, making this an extremely valuable biographical work on the British in Ceylon. "Hidden away under its unattractive title … is a store-house of information on every aspect of life in early times" (J. R. T., 'Books on Ceylon', The Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon Vol.34 No.1 (July 1944), pp. 6-7). Lewis modelled his work on Leopold Ludovici's Lapidarium Zeylanicum, published in 1877. The frontispiece is of Sir John D'Oyly's tomb at Kandy.