Memorial to Sir William Jones - University College Chapel

Memorial to Sir William Jones - University College Chapel

This is a memorial to Sir William Jones, a former fellow of University College, Oxford and an avid philologist. He served as a judge in Bengal, but is best known for having generated numerous texts on the origins of Indo-European languages, Hindu and Muslim laws, and numerous other studies of the traditions and philosophies of the Indian subcontinent. 

In this image you see Jones seated, transcribing information from the scholars of Hindu and Muslim law in front of him. You can see a sculpted banana leaf as well, referencing his botanical studies.

The incription is in Latin, but the English translation reads:

Sacred to the memory
of Sir William Jones, Knight
who received from his father a name distinguished by learning
and heaped further glory upon that name.
No science was beyond his inborn talents,
which he developed with the utmost diligence in excellent studies.
His naturally virtuous disposition
was thoroughly tested and proven
in the championship of justice, freedom and religion.
Having promoted while alive, by counsel, example and authority
whatever might be foud useful and honourable, he even now preserves and adorns
all of it in his immortal writings.
On the 27 May 1794, at the age of 48,
this utmost distinguished man
was overcome by an attck of illness
while he was preparing to return o his homeland
from the province of Bengal
where for ten years he had fulfilled
with perfect integrity of the office of Judge.
so that his memory might be preserved
above all in that College
in which he had once shone as a Fellow,
Anna Maria, daughter of Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph,
piously erected this honourable memorial
to her husband of blessed memory.

The memorial is sculpted by famous sculptor, illustrator and designer John Flaxman after the death of Jones in 1794. The sculpture was originally supposed to be erected in Calcutta, but by the time it was completed there was already a different memorial in Calcutta for Jones. University College Chapel was thus the secondary choice for this memorial. Other memorials to Jones exist at both the University Church of St. Mary, on the High Street in Oxford, as well as in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.