Louis Edmund Blaze

Louis Edmund Blaze
Born (1861-09-29)29 September 1861
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Died 4 August 1951(1951-08-04) (aged 89)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lankan
Education Trinity College and Collegiate School; University of Calcutta
Alma mater Trinity College; University of Calcutta
Occupation Educator, author, historian
Known for Founder and first principal of Kingswood College, Kandy
Term 1891–1923
Successor Rev. E. Pearson
Spouse(s) Alice Maud née Avery
Children Irene Clarice; Alice Rachel; Marie Louise
Parent(s) Louis Ezekiel Blaze; Henrietta Charlotte née Garnier

Louis Edmund Blaze, JP, OBE, BA (Calcutta), (29 September 1861 – 4 August 1951) was a Sri Lankan educationist and the founder and principal of Kingswood College, Kandy (1891–1923).[1]


Louis Edmund Blaze (born 29 September 1861 in Kandy)[2] was the fifth child[3] and fourth son of Louis Ezekiel Blaze[4] (1827–1894), a coffee merchant, and Henrietta Charlotte née Garnier (1833–1899).[5][6] His grand parents, John Henry Blaze and Margareta Caroline née de Joodt,[4][7] were headmaster and headmistress of schools in Paiyagala in the Kalutara District.[1][3][6] His eldest brother, John Thomas (1853–1921), studied at Lincoln College, Oxford, was admitted to the bar in June 1877[8] and became a lecturer in law and editor of the newspaper, Ceylon Examiner.[6][9] One of his other brothers, Robert Ezekiel (1863–1916), was the crown proctor of Badulla.[1][6]

Early studies

Blaze was one of the first group of students to study at Trinity College, Kandy (then known as the Trinity College and Collegiate School), at the time of the founding of the school by Rev. Richard Collins for the Church Mission Society in 1872.[10] Whilst at Trinity he produced a school magazine, which appeared in manuscript form, on 15 May 1876,[2] and later issued fortnightly as The Gleaner.[4][7] In 1880 at age nineteen he passed the first examination in Arts at the University of Calcutta,[1][2][3][10] following which he took up an appointment as the head master of the lower school at Trinity College.[1][3][4][10] Uncertain as to whether his career lay in education he resigned a month later[2] to become a law student[1] however he was more interested in literature and cultivated a talent for writing poetry.[10] In December 1882 he returned to Calcutta completing his Bachelor of Arts examination at the University.[1][4][10] Between 1883 and 1890 Blaze taught for nearly two years in Calcutta,[4] first at the Bishop’s College[2] and then at St. James' School.[1][2][10] After that he served as a second master and as acting head master at the Boys High School in Lahore.[1][2] In these years, he read numerous works and found inspiration in the life and works of Dr. Thomas Arnold (1795–1842) the headmaster of Rugby School. In this respect he wrote, "Anecdotes of Eaton, Harrow and Winchester which I eagerly read and remembered revealed much and their school songs stirred me deeply, as indeed they stir all youthful souls".[10] Then he thought of founding a public school by himself, writing "What disturbed me in Ceylon schools and in all other schools known to me were the strange distance between Teacher and Pupil and the needlessly hostile relations that existed between them. Another thing that I specially disliked was the craze for judging the merits of a school by the examination results."[10] He returned to Ceylon in January 1891.[2][4]

Kingswood College

On 4 May 1891 Blaze opened 'The Boys High School'[1] on Pavilion Street[2] in the centre of Kandy,[4] with eleven pupils.[3][7][10] Blaze modelled the school on the traditional English Public School system,[11] even naming the four houses at the school: Eton; Harrow; Winchester and Rugby.[12] As the school did not qualify for government assistance, Blaze had to hand over the struggling institution to the Methodist Mission in July 1894.[1][2][4] Blaze was responsible for introducing rugby to schools in Ceylon,[4][13][14] having learnt the game and the rules whilst he was teaching in India, he started coaching his pupils in the sport from the year the school was established.[10] The first ever inter-school match in Ceylon was held on 11 August 1906 between Kingswood and Trinity at the Bogambara Grounds, which ended in a six-all draw.[3][11] On 12 January 1898, Blaze moved the school to Brownrigg Street,[2] where the school was renamed, Kingswood Public School.[4][15] In 1900 he wrote a textbook, History of Ceylon,[7][16][17] the first comprehensive school textbook on the history of Sri Lanka and the prescribed history textbook for Junior High School until the late 1930s (with ten editions being published in that time).[18][19][20] In 1902 the school had the distinction of appointing the first lady teacher to the staff of a Boys School in the country.[2][13] On 30 September 1904 he established the Kingswood Union, the association for old boys at the college, for which he unanimously elected as president.[3][21][22] In 1914 he authored The Story of Lanka, another detailed history of the island, which became the Middle School school text for history (it was re-printed six times).[23] During the first sixty years of the institution, the school eventually became one of the most prominent Public Schools in Kandy. Before his retirement he planned the removal of the school from the small premises it occupied in Brownrigg Street relocating it, in 1925,[1][7] to the village of Wel-Ata in Mulgampola, then a quiet suburb of Kandy. Blaze retired from the principalship of the school on 31 December 1923,[2][4] after serving in that position for thirty years.[3][17]


Upon his retirement Blaze left Kandy and settled in Colombo, where he accepted the role as the editor of The Ceylon Independent,[2][4][7] the workload however proved to be too great and he was offered several educational appointments and accepted for a short period the position as principal of the Prince of Wales' College, Moratuwa.[2][4] For many years he was the president of the English Association,[2][24] as well as being an active member of Historical Association, the Royal Asiatic Society[25] and the Ceylon Geographical Society, who honoured him by electing him a life member.[2]

In 1934 he authored Kingswood For Ever, The Story of Kingswood, Kandy,[4] a historical account of the school that he founded.[20][26] This was followed in 1936 by a book of verse, In Praise of Ceylon.[4][27][28]


On 16 December 1891 he married Alice Maud née Avery (8 March 1865 – 1 March 1912) in Negombo.[6] They had three daughters: Irene Clarice (who died 16 August 1893); Alice 'Ray'[21] Rachel; and Marie Louise (who died 9 November 1917).[6] The couple's only surviving daughter, Ray, became a journalist and played a prominent role in the early years of the Girl Guides Association.[29]

Following his retirement he was made a Justice of the Peace for the Kandy district.[1][2]

In 1929 he received the Order of the British Empire.[4][30]

Blaze died on 4 August 1951,[4][6] a few days after he had helped Kingswood College celebrate its Diamond Jubilee.[2][15]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Jayatilaka, Tissa (3 October 2002). "Blaze of Kingswood - great innovator in education". Daily News. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 "Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon" (PDF). Blaze of Kingswood - A Memoir. Dutch Burgher Union. XLI: 144–150. October 1951.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Nissanka, H. M. (30 September 2007). "Louis Edmund Blaze of Kingswood". The Nation. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Warakaulle, H. M. Nissanka (30 September 2003). "Remembering L. E. Blaze' of Kingswood". Daily News. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  5. Blaze, B. R. (1965). "Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon" (PDF). Genealogy of the Family of Garnier of Ceylon. Dutch Burgher Union. LV: 17.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Altendorff, D. V. (July 1950). "Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon" (PDF). Genealogy of the Family of Blaze of Ceylon. Dutch Burger Union. XL: 94–95.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Senaratne, L. B. (2 December 2007). "Blaze the Trailblazer". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  8. "Register of Admissions to the Middle Temple" (PDF). The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. 1885. p. 606. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  9. Beven, Francis (December 1993). "Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon" (PDF). Further Information concerning The Examiner. Dutch Burgher Union. LXV1I: 4–6.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Jayatilaka, Tissa (27 September 2008). "Louis Edmund Blaze and Kingswood - Part I". The Island. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Kingswood College, Kandy: a Tribute to Alma Mater". Daily News. 4 May 2005. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  12. Marikar, Hafiz (1 May 2011). "Kingswood has produced outstanding cricketers and rugby players". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  13. 1 2 Gaveshaka (6 May 2007). "First school to play Rugger". Sunday Times. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  14. Hong, Fan (Ed); Mangan, J. A. (Ed) (2003). Sport in Asian Society: Past and Present. Frank Cass Publishers. p. 51. ISBN 0-7146-8330-2.
  15. 1 2 Jayatilaka, Tissa (1 October 2008). "Louis Edmund Blaze and Kingswood - Part II". The Island. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  16. "Vidyodaya: Journal of Arts, Science and Letters". 1–3. University of Ceylon. 1968: 14.
  17. 1 2 Jayatilaka, Tissa (10 July 2012). "Of Kingswood, its founder Louis Edmund Blaze and reflections on a value-based education". The Island. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  18. Mendis, C. G. (1944). Ceylon under the British. The Colombo Apothecaries. p. v. ISBN 81-206-1930-7.
  19. Winks, Robyn (Ed) (1999). The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography. Oxford University Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-19-924680-9.
  20. 1 2 "Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon" (PDF). Reviews of Books. Dutch Burgher Union. XXIV: 34–35. July 1934.
  21. 1 2 Warakaulle, H. M. Nissanka (5 October 2005). "Kingswood Union - 101 not out". The Island. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  22. Warakaulle, H.M. Nissanka (20 July 2005). "Centenary celebrations of Kingswood Union". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  23. Education in Ceylon from the Sixth Century B.C. to the Present Day: Volume 3. Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs. 1969. p. 1302.
  24. "The English Association Bulletin No. 74". The English Association. April 1932: 35.
  25. "Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society". 30. Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1926: 38.
  26. Prakasakayo, Tisara (1968). "Ceylon Historical Journal". Education in Ceylon. Ceylon Historical Association. 14–15: 226.
  27. "Colonial Reports: Issues 1840-1854". Colonial Office. 1938: cii.
  28. Warakaulle, H. M. Nissanka (6 October 2011). "Educationist par excellence". The Daily News. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  29. "Guiding in Sri Lanka ...the 1920s...". Sunday Times. 27 June 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  30. "Central Chancellery of the Orders of Knighthood" (PDF). London Gazette. 3 June 1929. Retrieved 25 December 2014.

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