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Hardy, Robert Spence
1803-1868; e.m. 1825

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Missionary in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), born in Preston on 1 July 1803 and educated in Yorkshire. His mother was the daughter of Robert Spence, a local preacher and bookseller of York and biographer of William Grimshaw.

Hardy served in Ceylon, 1825-48 and again 1862-65, as Chairman of the South Ceylon District after the death of Daniel J. Gogerly. He became a scholar of both Buddhism and Sinhala language, literature and culture and published four major books on Buddhism, including A Manual of Buddhism in its Modern Development (1853), which contained pioneering translations of Sinhala texts. His attitude to Buddhism became increasingly condemnatory, e.g. in The Legends and Theories of the Buddhists compared with history and science (1866). His tract The British Government and the Idolatry of Ceylon (Colombo, 1839) spearheaded missionary criticism of perceived government leniency towards Buddhism. He died at Headingley, Leeds, on 16 April 1868.

Sources

  • William Moister, Missionary Worthies, 1782-1885 (1885) pp.141-42
  • Walter J.T. Small (ed.), A History of the Methodist Church in Ceylon (Colombo, 1964) p.622
  • Elizabeth Harris, 'Wesleyan Witness in an Interreligious Context', in Windows on Wesley, ed. P.R. Meadows (Oxford, 1997) pp. 66-8

Entry written by: EJH
Category: Person

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