My wife and I did the 'tourist trail' in Sri Lanka last year. That's not
meant to be cynical, it's a beautiful country and I would advise anyone who
can to go. It's a beautiful country and the people are extremely friendly.
On travelling through Matale, we asked the guide to find Christ Church. We
eventually found it, with the help of a J.P. who kindly guided us there.
Unfortunately, the church was closed and the Vicar was away. The J.P. gave
us his address and we contacted him on our return to England with a few
names to see if they appeared in the church records (we'd had a copy of a
marriage from the church produced in the 50's so felt records must be kept
by local churches).
We didn't hear for several months but recently got a long letter and
Firstly, he apologised for the delay saying our 'requirements became a
difficult task' as:
- the church records had been destroyed in a fire in 1983
- he visited the Bishop of Christ Church some 68 kilometers away, but early
records had not been maintained
- he went to the Matale Kachcheri Land Registry where BMDs are kept but,
after paying the required fees, found the 19th century records could not be
- as a last resort, he hired two labourers to clear the churchyard which
was 'like a mini jungle' and took photographs of likely gravestones. As he
did not have a camera, he had hired a photographer and as the inscriptions
were not legible on the photos, had transcribed them on the back!
Lastly, as we had said we were going back to Sri Lanka this year, he said
he would be willing to 'show us the monuments and educate us about the
embossments'. We could also stay at his house which has 'all the facilities
and and could provide for our needs and requirements'.
My friends, I am simply speechless about the kindness of this man and,
whilst we will re-imburse him for his outlay, will have to think very hard
about how we can repay his kindness. Unfortunately, the names he supplied
were all wrong (what can I say!). However, they may help someone on the
list so I give them below. I can provide scans of the photos for anyone
that is interested.
8889-9A & 10A
Sacred to the memory of William King, infant son of Alexander and Isabella
Ross. Born at Mill of Forest Stonehaven, Scotland and died at Kawudupellela
Estate 28th February 1876 aged one year and ten months.
Sacred to the memory of Alexander MacDonald native of Glasgow Scotland who
died at the Borders Estate Ceylon on the 15th December 1876 aged 20 years
Sacred to the memory of Henry Alexander Grahame of Vicarton Estate a native
of Edinburgh who died at Matale 17th January 1869 aged 26 years
George Grant of Elgin Scotland died at Vicartons Estate 25 May 1890 aged 47
In loving memory of Willie son of J W Allen 37 Strand London who was
accidently drowned January 4th 1875 crossing the Rottota Ferry and was
buried here aged 26. Fondly loved and deeply lamented in the midst of life.
I hope some of these are of help.
Canterbury, Kent, England.