Robert Caesar Childers

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Dr. Robert Caesar Childers (1866, London)

Robert Caesar Childers (1838 – 25 July 1876) was a British Orientalist scholar, compiler of the first Pāli-English dictionary. Childers was the husband of Anna Barton of Ireland. He was the father of Irish nationalist Erskine Childers and grandfather to the fourth President of Ireland, Erskine Hamilton Childers.

Early life and marriage[edit]

He was born in Nice, Piedmont-Sardinia, the son of Canon Charles Childers, chaplain to the English colony in Nice. In 1857, at the age of nineteen, he began the study of Hebrew at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 1861.[1] After some travels in Ireland, he soon married Anna Barton of Glendalough House.[2] The Bartons of Wicklow,[2][3] Ireland, were a very wealthy and respected family in Irish farming and politics.

Pali dictionary[edit]

He then moved to Ceylon for an official position in the civil service. During this period he studied Sinhalese culture, particularly the Pali language. In 1869 he published the first Pali text in Britain, and began to work on a Pali dictionary, which was published 1872–75.[4][5]

In 1872 he was appointed sub-librarian at the India Office, and in the following year he became the first professor of Pali and Buddhist literature at University College, London.

In 1876 Childers' dictionary was awarded the Volney Prize by the Institute of France. He died in London the same year [3] apparently having succumbed to tuberculosis which had been troubling him for many years and which grew worse after Childers contracted cold in the early part of the year [6]. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London.


  1. ^ The Registers of Wadham College, Oxford ...: From 1719 to 1871, Part 2 of The Registers of Wadham College, Oxford ...: From 1613 to [1871], Compiled by Robert Barlow Gardiner, G. Bell and Sons, 1895
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b Barton Collection, Wicklow County Archives Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ The Myanmar Contribution to the Spread of Theravada Buddhism throughout the World, Professor U Ko Lay, Vipassana Department, Faculty of Pattipatti, Yangon, 1998, at Buddhism Today]
  5. ^ Indian History Sourcebook: Sources on Buddhist Order, Translated by J. F. Dickenson, Fordham University website]
  6. ^ - Childers, Robert Cæsar by Thomas William Rhys Davids Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 10, Wikisource