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Cyril Nicholas

Cyril Wace Nicholas (1898-1961) was a Sri Lankan soldier, civil servant, forester and writer on history and antiquities.

Life events
Nicholas was born on 5 August 1898 (SP, 1961). He completed his early education at the Royal College, Colombo and went on to study at the University of Cambridge (SP, 1961). However, he couldn't complete his studies, as he was enlisted for service in the First World War (SP, 1961). 
 
Nicholas's military life was short. Began as a subaltern, he was later promoted as a Captain in the King's Royal Rifles (SP, 1961). At the end of two years, he was wounded and invalided out, being awarded the Military Cross (SP, 1961). At the age of 22, he returned to Sri Lanka and sat for the Special Civil Service Examination for War Service personnel (SP, 1961). Although he passed and was placed first on the list, he couldn't secure an appointment to the Civil Service on medical grounds (SP, 1961).
 
However, Nicholas was selected to the Department of Excise where he was appointed as an Assistant Superintendent of Excise in Batticaloa (SP, 1961). Within some time, he became its Deputy Commissioner and in 1950, he was assigned as the first Warden of the newly established Wild Life Department where he worked as the head until his retirement from Government Service in 1957 (SP, 1961). He was instrumental in establishing the National Parks and Strict National Reserves, during his tenure as the Warden of the Wild Life Department.

As a writer on history and antiquities
Nicholas had been interested in the history and antiquities of the island from his youth. While working as a civil servant, he visited many ruined sites across the country, made eye-copies of inscriptions and bought them to the attention of academics (SP, 1961). His writings that were published in reputed journals such as the "University of Ceylon Review" and the "Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society" impressed the country's scholars and made him a distinguished writer on the history and antiquities of Sri Lanka (SP, 1961).

In recognition of his valuable contribution to historical research, the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society decided to award its Medal for 1960 to Nicholas, but he died on 14 August 1961, before the day of its formal presentation that had been scheduled to be held on 1 September 1961 (SP, 1961).
 
Bibliography
Nicholas has published a number of academic level papers in various journals and some of them are listed below (SP, 1961);

# Epigraphical Map of Ceylon, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. VII, pp.116-128. 
# Territorial Divisions of Ceylon from Early Times to the 12th century, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. VII, pp.20-50.
# Some Offices and Titles in the Early Sinhalese Kingdom, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. VIII, pp.116-128.
# Brahmanas in the Early Sinhalese Kingdom, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. VIII, pp.259 ff.
# Sinhalese Naval Power, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. XVI, pp.78-92.
# Paleographical Development of the Brahmi Script in Ceylon, University of Ceylon Review, Vol. VII, pp.60-64.
# Text of the Cave Inscriptions in Ruhuna National Park, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New Series, Vol. II, pp.126-140.
# Professions and Occupations in the Early Sinhalese Kingdom, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New Series, Vol. II, pp.35-71.
# Some Lesser Known pre-Christian Ruins, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New Series, Vol. V, pp.138-159.
# Texts of the Cave Inscriptions at Hindagala, Ceylon Historical Journal, Vol. II, pp.221-224.
# Brahmi Inscriptions in the Yala East Wild Reserve, Sir Paul Pieris Felicitation Volume, pp.58-68.
A Short Account of the History of Irrigation Works up to the 11th century, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New Series, Vol. VII, pp.43-70.
Historical Topography of Ancient and Mediaval Ceylon, Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. New Series, Vol. VI.
History of Ceylon, University of Ceylon. Vol. I. (Geographical Background and Fauna; Chap. I, II ), (Liberation from Cola Yoke; Chap. II ), (The Reign of Vijayabahu I; Chap. III ), (Civil Wars and the Emergence of Parakramabahu the Great; Chap. IV), (The Reign of Parakramabhu I; Chap. V).
 
References
1) SP, 1961. Obituary: Cyril Wace Nicholas. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, pp.258-260.


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This page was last updated on 3 June 2022
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