From Chronology of Tamils in Sri Lanka
1847: Arumuka Navalar
(1822-1879) leaves Jaffna Central School because of
the admission of a low-caste (Nalavar) boy by Peter Percival. The Ceylon
Observer laments the unhealthy climate and economic neglect of the the
1848: A rebellion in Kandy against corn taxes and rajakariya is put down by
the British. Arumuka Navalar accompanies Peter Percival to Madras to present
their translation of the bible. He founds his own school in Vannarponnai.
From: Sri Lanka and the British Connection
British civilian and military officials resident in Kandy provided initial
capital for coffee cultivation, provoking contemporary observations in the
1840s that they behaved more like coffee planters than government employees.
This private capitalization led to serious abuses, however, culminating in
an 1840 ordinance that made it virtually impossible for a Kandyan peasant to
prove that his land was not truly crown land and thus subject to
expropriation and resale to coffee interests. In this period, more than
80,000 hectares of Kandyan land were appropriated and sold as crown lands.
Between 1830 and 1850, coffee held the preeminent place in the economy and
became a catalyst for the island's modernization. The greater availability
of capital and the increase in export trade brought the rudiments of
capitalist organization to the country. The Ceylon Bank opened in 1841 to
finance the rapid expansion of coffee plantations. Since the main center of
coffee production was in the Kandyan provinces, the expansion of coffee and
the network of roads and railroads ended the isolation of the old Kandyan
kingdom. The coffee plantation system had served as the economic foundation
for the unification of the island while reinforcing the administrative and
judicial reforms of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission.
The plantation system dominated the economy in Sri Lanka to such an extent
that one observer described the government as an "appendage of the estates
(plantations)." Worldwide depression in 1846 temporarily checked the rapid
development of the plantation system. Falling coffee prices caused financial
disruption, aggravating the friction that had been developing between the
static traditional feudal economy and modernized commercial agriculture. In
order to make up for lost revenue, the government imposed a series of new
taxes on firearms, dogs, shops, boats, carriages, and bullock carts. All of
these taxes affected Sinhalese farmers. Other measures that further
alienated the Kandyans included a land tax and a road ordinance in 1848 that
reintroduced a form of rajakariya by requiring six days' free labor on roads
or the payment of a cash equivalent. But the measure that most antagonized
the Kandyans (especially those associated with the Buddhist sangha) was the
alienation of temple lands for coffee plantations.
British troops so severely repressed a rebellion that broke out among the
Kandyans in 1848 that the House of Commons in London commissioned an
investigation to look into the matter. The governor and his chief secretary
were subsequently dismissed, and all new taxes, except the road ordinance,
were repealed. The government adopted a new policy toward Buddhism after the
rebellion, recognizing the importance of Buddhist monks as leaders of
Kandyan public opinion.
The plantation era transformed the island's economy. This was most evident
in the growth of the export sector at the expense of the traditional
agricultural sector. The colonial predilection for growing commercial
instead of subsistence crops later was considered by Sri Lankan nationalists
to be one of the unfortunate legacies of European domination. Late
nineteenth- century official documents that recorded famines and chronic
rural poverty support the nationalists' argument. Other issues, notably the
British policy of selling state land to planters for conversion into
plantations, are equally controversial, even though some members of the
indigenous population participated in all stages of plantation agriculture.
Sri Lankans, for example, controlled over one-third of the area under coffee
cultivation and most of the land in coconut production. They also owned
significant interests in rubber.
There are a number of sites which contain similar information. You may well
be able to find out what was happening in the Galle area which may have
involved your ancestors.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Nancy and Dave" <daveandnancy(a)iprimus.com.au>
Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2004 10:25 PM
Subject: [SRILANKA] Galle 1847/8
My G. grandmother was born in Point de Galle, Ceylon in 1847/8.
Her father was from Bristol, England, her mother was born in Limerick,
I have no idea as yet, just where they married, or what they were doing in
Does anyone know if there was a labour recruitment for something going on
about that time in Ceylon?
The family had returned to England by 1851 census.
Is there any way I might get a birth or baptism certificate?
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