Reverend Joseph Marsh (1835-1838)
"Other may be celebrated…. but the name of Marsh as having developed the genius of this country,…as having in fact been instrumental in causing the permanent welfare of the island…while millions yet unknown will lisp his name with glowing lips and hearts thrilling with gratitude… may the almighty be with him."
Rev. Joseph Marsh, M.A. (Edinburgh) was born 1803 at Bonsall, Derbyshire, England and died on the 2nd February 1839 at sea off the Cape of Good Hope Colony (now South Africa)
Headmaster - Hill Street Private Academy in 1835.
Headmaster - Colombo Academy 1836 to December 1838.
Mathematics and Classical Tutor at Church Missionary Society Cotta, Actg. Colonial Chaplain, St. Paul's Church Colombo, January 1835.
Secretary schools Commission July 1835 to 1836.
Secretary of the “Friend in Need Society Colombo (Patron H.E. The Governor). Marsh arrived in Colombo in 1831 from Madras.
A Scotsman who set the seal for what we are today-the FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL IN SRI LANKA AMONGST EQUALS. With his appointment as Acting Colonial Chaplain of St. Paul's Church Colombo, he started a Private Academy to educate the children of the Upper Classes in January 1835. When the residents of Colombo noticed the good work done at the Private School, they petitioned the Governor His Excellency Sir William Horton to establish a school to be operated by Government, and with a lower scale of fees, so as to allow the majority of young men in Colombo to gain the benefits of good education.
Governor Horton converted Marsh's Private Academy to the Colombo Academy to the Colombo Academy in
January 1836 and made Rev. Marsh Headmaster on a salary of £ 200 per annum (£16-13s-Od approx) Rs. 168/- per month on condition that fees would not be raised. Marsh according to accounts was a mild mannered Padre, who did not believe in Corporal punishment. As Secretary Schools Commission he received a salary of £ 8-8s-4d per month and £ 8-6s-8d per month as Secretary, Friend in Need Society.
Rev. Marsh started the:
• Library in January 1837
• The First school Magazine- "The Colombo Academy Miscellany & Juvenile Repository" in January 1837. (He was the Editor)
• A printing Press in 1837
• The First Prize Giving for the Colombo Academy was held in June 1837
• Mention is made of Cricket being played in 1838
Rev. Marsh's health had deteriorated badly during 1838 and he went abroad on leave. He died a few weeks after leaving Ceylon.