JOHN FERGUSON (1842-1913)
by E-Mail from: Wendy Winter Garcia in Spain Ė firstname.lastname@example.org
All - Found the following while surfing the Net and thought it may be of
interest. A. M. Ferguson was editor after my great grandfather George
Winter (the first one) who left after he won the libel against Thomas
Oswin, Chief of Police (who died soon after of TB). Something I didnít
know - Christopher Elliott was owner of the "Colombo
Observer" (he was involved in inciting the Sinhalese during a
rebellion). There is a letter (about the road tax in Henry Sirrís book
about Ceylon signed "an Englishman" from Galle whom we
suspect was George Winter (vide Dorothea Winterís letter to Mr Ryland
about his involvement in the rebellion). Regards, Wendy.
Institute of Commonwealth Studies ARCHON, Reference code(s): GB
0101 ICS 86, held at: Institute of Commonwealth Studies].
FERGUSON, John (1842-1913)
Ferguson, John (1842-1913), Newspaper proprietor and editor, politician,
Alastair Mackenzie (1816-1892), Newspaper proprietor and editor,
Ferguson was born in Tain, Easter Ross in 1842. He was educated at Tain
Royal Academy, then trained as a journalist in Inverness and London before
going to Ceylon on 1861 to take up a position as Assistant Editor of the "Colombo
Observer", under his uncle, the proprietor and Editor, Alastair
Mackenzie (A. M.) Ferguson. He was to remain with the paper (renamed the "Ceylon
Observer" in 1867) for nearly 50 years, initially assisting his
uncle, but gradually taking a more senior role, and becoming the
proprietor and editor on his uncle's death in 1892.
developed an active role in the political, commercial and cultural affairs
of Ceylon. He took a particular interest in the development and expansion
of the railway system, and became closely involved in the tea, coffee,
coconut and other planting trades for which he compiled and published
statistics in his annually issued Handbook and Directory of Ceylon. His
interest in these trades also led to his founding and publishing the "Tropical
Agriculturalist", a journal covering planting in all tropical
regions, which began in 1881 and continued under his control until 1904,
when responsibility for it was assumed by the Agricultural Society.
Ferguson was very active in the Cinnamon Gardens Baptist Church (as was
his uncle), and lectured on many of his interests. He travelled overseas
from Ceylon on several occasions, visiting Australia, New Zealand, Japan,
China, North America and Britain.
1903 Ferguson was awarded the CMG, and in the same year was appointed as a
member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon. In this role he continued to
support his interests, such as extension of the railway system and
supporting trade. He resigned in 1908, and in 1912 returned to Britain for
the last time, and he died there in 1913. He was married twice: firstly in
1871 to Charlotte Haddon (died 1903), by whom he had two sons and two
daughters; secondly in 1905 to Ella Smith, who survived him.
Mackenzie (A. M.) Ferguson, the uncle of John, was born in Wester Ross in
1816. He came to Ceylon in 1837 as one of the staff of J. A. Stewart
Mackenzie, the newly appointed Governor. After holding various posts, he
became assistant editor on the "Ceylon Observer" in 1846,
under the then owner, Dr Elliott [Christopher Elliott, M.D].
1859 Dr Elliott sold the newspaper to Ferguson, who was himself joined by
his nephew as assistant editor in 1861. From 1879 he took a lesser role in
the production of the newspaper, but continued to contribute material,
while in 1880-1 he was the Ceylon Commissioner to the Melboune Exhibition.
He was awarded the CMG shortly after this event. He made return visits to
Britain in the 1860s and 1870s but not thereafter for health reasons;
however he continued to make visits abroad to India and Australia. He
became a highly respected figure in Ceylon, and like his nephew was very
supportive of the planting trades and railway development. He died in
Papers of John Ferguson CMG, Assistant Editor, later Proprietor and Editor
of the Ceylon Observer 1861-1913, and member of the Legislative Council
for Ceylon 1903-1908; also some of his uncle Alastair Mackenzie Ferguson
CMG, Assistant Editor, later Proprietor and Editor of the Ceylon Observer
1846-1893; including correspondence and papers relating to the Ceylon
Observer, the Handbook and Directory of Ceylon, and the "Tropical
Agriculturalist", 1874-1911; correspondence, papers and press
cutting relating to railways in Ceylon, 1867-1912; papers on coffee, tea,
coconut and other planting trades in Ceylon, c1858-1895; correspondence
and papers relating to the governors and governance of Ceylon, including
correspondence with Sir (Joseph) West Ridgeway, 1898-1913 and Sir Henry
McCallum, 1908-1913, correspondence, press cuttings and papers on the
Ceylon Legislative Council and other political matters, 1895-1912; papers
on the award of the CMG, 1899-1910; papers on religious matters relating
to Ceylon, including letters on missionary work, the Salvation Army, and
on Buddhist temporalities; papers on John Ferguson's visits and lecture
tours , 1878-1910; personal and family papers, 1895-1913; correspondence
and papers of Alastair Mackenzie (A. M.) Ferguson, 1850-1893;
correspondence and papers on the Royal Asiatic Society, 1859-1912.
English; individual documents in [Tamil?] and French. System of
arrangement: The papers are arranged in series containing files on
particular topics relating to John Ferguson's work and interests. The
files, with some exceptions (such as series of printed works which were
loose among the papers) are those in which the documents were found to be
arranged on receipt at ICS. It is not known when this arrangement was
created. The material is somewhat fragmentary, being only a small part of
what must have been a much larger body of correspondence and papers, and
this is borne out by lists of Ferguson's papers in some of the files,
which include many items not to be found among the present papers. These
lists were possibly compiled shortly after Ferguson's death when a memoir
appears to have been considered. There are several files which contain
material on several topics and which have been described as general
correspondence and papers; and in turn the documents contained in files on
specified topics do not always relate exclusively to that subject. No
attempt has been made to separate material relating to A. M., Ferguson:
firstly because of the relatively small quantity of this material, and
secondly because of the difficulty in positively identifying some papers
as those of one of the two men, their work and interests being so similar.
However, there is one original file of papers relating to A. M. Ferguson.
Most items may be photocopied, at the discretion of the ICS Library staff.
Copies are supplied solely for research or private study. Requests to
publish, or quote from, original material should be submitted to the
Information Resources Manager.
aids: Descriptive list available in the ICS Library.
source of acquisition: Donated to ICS by Professor Sir Cyril Henry
Philips, formerly Professor of Oriental History at SOAS, in 1990.
2000, revised by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 project, Sep 2001.
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival
Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives
Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997
of descriptions: July 2000
Plant products, Agricultural products
Plant products, Agricultural products
Alastair Mackenzie (1816-1892), Newspaper proprietor and editor, Ceylon
John (1842-1913), Newspaper proprietor and editor, politician, Ceylon
Sir Henry Edward (1852-1919), Knight, Governor of Ceylon
Sir Joseph West (1844-1930), Knight, Governor of Ceylon
and Directory of Ceylon
Lanka, South Asia