Skip to main content

Sir Alexander Johnston: administrative papers relating to Ceylon [Sri Lanka]

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 92

Scope and Contents

Comprises: four notebooks assembled by Johnston on aspects of law, history and administration in Ceylon; letter-book containing regulations relating to Roman Catholics in Ceylon; copies of law officers and counsels' opinions on various colonial acts. Note that 'Notebook V', extract from statement concerning the arrival of Chalias in Ceylon (presented by Professor Lee alongside the rest of the collection and listed in Donald Simpson's 1975 manuscript catalogue) is missing.


  • Creation: c. 1806 - 1827


Biographical / Historical

Alexander Johnston (b. 1775) was a colonial official and judge in Ceylon [Sri Lanka]. He trained at Gottingen, Hanover, and Lincoln’s Inn, and was called to the bar in June 1800. After a period on the home circuit, he was appointed Advocate-General of Ceylon and in 1805 became Chief Justice of Ceylon. He advised the British government on the charter issued to the East India Company in 1813 and led a programme of reform in Ceylon, including establishing trial by jury and preparing a code of law. He also held the positions of president of the council of Ceylon, vice-president of the Royal Asiatic Society and privy councillor. On Johnston’s advice, the privy council became the court of ultimate appeal in colonial litigation. Johnston died in London in 1849.


1 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Donald H. Simpson, 'The Manuscript Catalogue of the Library of the Royal Commonwealth Society' (London, 1975), pp. 68-9. Typescript catalogue, former reference: MSS 3.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Professor Robert Warden Lee, c. 1927.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom