British Ceylon

Last updated

Ceylon

1815–1948
Anthem:  God Save the King (1815–37; 1901–48)
God Save the Queen (1837–1901)
Sri Lanka (orthographic projection).svg
Status British colony
Capital Colombo
Common languagesEnglish (Official),
Sinhala and Tamil
GovernmentMonarchy
Monarch  
 1815–20
George III (first)
 1936–48
George VI (last)
Governor  
 1798–1805
Frederick North (first)
 1944–48
Henry Monck-Mason Moore (last)
Prime Minister 
 1947–48
Don Stephen Senanayake
Legislature Legislative Council of Ceylon (1833–1931)
State Council of Ceylon (1931–47)
Parliament of Ceylon (1947—48)
Historical era New Imperialism
5 March 1815
4 February 1948
Area
188165,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)
189165,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)
190165,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)
192465,992 km2 (25,480 sq mi)
194665,610 km2 (25,330 sq mi)
Population
 1881
2759700
 1891
3007800
 1901
3565900
 1924
4574550
 1946
6657300
Currency Ceylonese rixdollar (1815–28)
British pound (1825–71)
Ceylonese rupee (1872—1948)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
King of Kandy.svg Kandyan Kingdom
Flag of the Dutch East India Company.svg Dutch Ceylon
Blank.png Vannimai
Dominion of Ceylon Flag of Ceylon.svg
Today part ofFlag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka
Source for 1924 area and population: [1]

Ceylon (Sinhala: බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය ලංකාව, Brithānya Laṃkāva; Tamil: பிரித்தானிய இலங்கை, Birithaniya Ilangai) was a British Crown colony between 1815 and 1948. Initially the area it covered did not include the Kingdom of Kandy, which was a protectorate from 1815, but from 1815 to 1948 the British possessions included the whole island of Ceylon, now the nation of Sri Lanka .

Sinhala language language of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka

Sinhala is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhalese is also spoken as a second language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhalese is written using the Sinhalese script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Contents

History

Background

Before the beginning of the Dutch governance, the island of Ceylon was divided between the Portuguese Empire and the Kingdom of Kandy, who were in the midst of a war for control of the island as a whole. The island attracted the attention of the newly formed Dutch Republic when they were invited by the Sinhalese King to fight the Portuguese. Dutch rule over much of the island was soon imposed.

Portuguese Empire global empire centered in Portugal

The Portuguese Empire, also known as the Portuguese Overseas or the Portuguese Colonial Empire, was one of the largest and longest-lived empires in world history. It existed for almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415, to the handover of Portuguese Macau to China in 1999. The empire began in the 15th century, and from the early 16th century it stretched across the globe, with bases in North and South America, Africa, and various regions of Asia and Oceania. The Portuguese Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Spanish Empire.

Kingdom of Kandy

The Kingdom of Kandy was an independent monarchy of the island of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in the late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century.

Dutch Republic Republican predecessor state of the Netherlands from 1581 to 1795

The Dutch Republic, or the United Provinces, was a confederal republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first Dutch nation state.

In the late 18th century the Dutch, weakened by their wars against Great Britain, were conquered by Napoleonic France, and their leaders became refugees in London. No longer able to govern their part of the island effectively, the Dutch transferred the rule of it to the British, although this was against the wishes of the Dutch residing there. The capture of the island immediately yielded £300,000 of money in goods, as well as the acquisition of the cinnamon plantations, making this a valuable venture [2]

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Napoleonic era Wikimedia disambiguation page

The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and Europe. It is generally classified as including the fourth and final stage of the French Revolution, the first being the National Assembly, the second being the Legislative Assembly, and the third being the Directory. The Napoleonic era begins roughly with Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état, overthrowing the Directory, establishing the French Consulate, and ends during the Hundred Days and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. The Congress of Vienna soon set out to restore Europe to pre-French Revolution days. Napoleon brought political stability to a land torn by revolution and war. He made peace with the Roman Catholic Church and reversed the most radical religious policies of the Convention. In 1804 Napoleon promulgated the Civil Code, a revised body of civil law, which also helped stabilize French society. The Civil Code affirmed the political and legal equality of all adult men and established a merit-based society in which individuals advanced in education and employment because of talent rather than birth or social standing. The Civil Code confirmed many of the moderate revolutionary policies of the National Assembly but retracted measures passed by the more radical Convention. The code restored patriarchal authority in the family, for example, by making women and children subservient to male heads of households.

Kandyan Wars

As soon as Great Britain gained the European-controlled parts of Ceylon from the Dutch, they wanted to expand their new sphere of influence by making the native Kingdom of Kandy a protectorate, an offer initially refused by the King of Kandy. Although the previous Dutch administration had not been powerful enough to threaten the reign of the Kandyan Kings, the British were much more powerful. The Kandyan refusal to accept a protectorate led eventually to war, which ended with the capitulation of the Kandyans.

Kandyan Convention

The rule of the king Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe was not favoured by his chieftains. The king, who was of South Indian ancestry, faced powerful chieftains and sought cruel measures to repress their popularity with the people. A successful coup was organised by the Sinhala chiefs in which they accepted the British Crown as their new sovereign. This ended the line of the kingdom of Kandy and King Rajasinghe was taken as a prisoner, ending his hope that the British would allow him to retain power. The Kandyan treaty which was signed in 1815 was called the Kandyan Convention and stated the terms under which the Kandyans would live as a British protectorate. The Buddhist religion was to be given protection by the Crown, and Christianity would not be imposed on the population, as had happened during Portuguese and Dutch rule. The Kandyan Convention is an important legal document because it specifies the conditions which the British promised for the Kandyan territory.

Kandyan Convention

The Kandyan Convention was an agreement signed on 10 March 1815 between the British and the Chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom, British Ceylon for the deposition of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha and ceding of the Kingdom's territory to British rule. The king, of South Indian ancestry, faced powerful opposition from the Sinhalese chieftains who sought to limit his power. A successful coup was organized by the chieftains, marking the end of 2358 years of self-rule on the island and resulting in the imprisonment of the King in Vellore. The treaty is quite unique in that it was not signed by the monarch on the throne but by members of his court and other dignitaries of the kingdom.

The Crown is the state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their sub-divisions. Legally ill-defined, the term has different meanings depending on context. It is used to designate the monarch in either a personal capacity, as Head of the Commonwealth, or as the king or queen of his or her realms. It can also refer to the rule of law; however, in common parlance 'The Crown' refers to the functions of government and the civil service.

The Uva Rebellion

It took the ruling families of Kandy less than two years to realise that the authority of the British government was a fundamentally different one to that of the (deposed) Nayakkar dynasty. Soon the Kandyans rebelled against the British and waged a guerrilla war. Discontent with British activities soon boiled over into open rebellion, commencing in the duchy of Uva in 1817, so called the Uva Rebellion, also known as the Third Kandyan War, when, according to a dissertation written by J. B. Müller, the British rulers killed everyone from the Uva-Wellassa region. [3] [4] The main cause of the rebellion was the British authorities' failure to protect and uphold the customary Buddhist traditions, which were viewed by the islanders as an integral part of their lives.

Uva Province Province in Sri Lanka

Uva Province is Sri Lanka's second least populated province, with 1,259,880 people, created in 1896. It consists of two districts: Badulla and Moneragala. The provincial capital is Badulla. Uva is bordered by Eastern, Southern and Central provinces. Its major tourist attractions are Dunhinda falls, Diyaluma Falls, Rawana Falls, the Yala National Park and Gal Oya National Park. The Gal Oya hills and the Central mountains are the main uplands, while the Mahaweli and Menik rivers and the huge Senanayake Samudraya and Maduru Oya Reservoirs are the major waterways.

The rebellion, which soon developed into a guerrilla war of the kind the Kandyans had fought against European powers for centuries, was centred on the Kandyan nobility and their unhappiness with developments under British rule since 1815. However it was the last uprising of this kind and Britain's brutal response massacred the rebels, as a warning to the rest of the Sri Lankan community and annexed the Kingdom of Kandy to British Ceylon in 1817.

Development

British Ceylon, ca 1914 Ceylon (ca 1914).jpg
British Ceylon, ca 1914

Sivasundaram argues that the British used geographical knowledge to defeat the Kandyan holdouts in the mountainous and jungle areas in the center of Ceylon. They used local informants and British surveyors to map the island, then built a network of roads to open the central region. This made possible export production of plantation agriculture, as well as tighter military control. [5]

With its trading ports of Trincomalee and Colombo, the colony was one of the only sources of cinnamon in the world. The spice was extremely valuable, and the British East India Company began to cultivate it from 1767, but Ceylon remained the main producer until the end of the 18th century [6]

The laying of the railway was carried out during the Governorship of Sir Henry Ward. The opening of coffee and tea plantations, road development schemes, establishment of hospitals and maternity homes throughout the island, were just some of the major works undertaken by the British who ruled Sri Lanka.

Demographics

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1871 2,400,380    
1881 2,759,700+15.0%
1891 3,007,800+9.0%
1901 3,566,000+18.6%
1911 4,106,400+15.2%
1921 4,498,600+9.6%
1931 5,306,000+17.9%
1946 6,657,300+25.5%
Source: Department of Census and Statistics Sri Lanka

The multiracial population of Ceylon was numerous enough to support the European colonists; the Portuguese and the Dutch offspring of the past 440 odd years of colonial history was large enough to run a stable government. Unlike the previous rulers, the British embarked on a plantation programme which initially brought coffee plantations to the island. These were later wiped out by coffee rust. Coffee plants were replaced by tea and rubber plantations. This made Ceylon one of the richest countries in Asia.

The British also brought Tamils from British India and made them indentured labourers in the Hill Country. This was in addition to the several hundred thousand Tamils already living in the Maritime provinces and another 30,000 Tamil Muslims. The linguistically bipolar island needed a link language and English became universal in Ceylon. [7]

Censuses in Ceylon began in 1871 and continued every ten years. The 1881 census shows a total population of 2.8 million, constituting of 1.8 million Sinhalese; 687,000 Ceylon and Indian Tamils; 185,000 Moors; as well as 4,800 Europeans; 17,900 Burghers and Eurasians; 8,900 Malays; 2,200 Veddhas; and 7,500 other. [8]

The Censuses of 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 had shown Ceylon Tamils and Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka grouped together. By 1911 Indian Tamils were shown as a separate category. The population statistics reveal that by 1911, Indian Tamils constituted 12.9%, whereas Sri Lankan Tamils formed 12.8% of the population of 4,106,400; in 1921, 13.4% and 11.5%; in 1931, 15.2% and 11.3%, and in 1946, 11.7% and 11.0% respectively. The censuses show that during a large period of time in the history of Ceylon, Indian Tamils outnumbered Ceylon Tamils until between 1971 and 1981 where more than 50 per cent of the Indian Tamil population were repatriated as Indian citizens back to India. However, many Indian Tamils were also granted Sri Lankan citizenship where upon declared themselves as Sri Lankan Tamils. [9]

Government and military

British Governors of Ceylon

Between 1796 and 1948, Ceylon was a British Crown colony. Although the British monarch was the head of state, in practice his or her functions were exercised in the colony by the colonial Governor, who acted on instructions from the British government in London.

Armed forces

The Ceylon Defence Force (CDF) was the military of British Ceylon. Established in 1881 as the Ceylon Volunteers, as the military reserve in the British Crown colony of Ceylon, by 1910 it grew into the Ceylon Defence Force, a regular force responsible for the defence of Ceylon. The CDF was under the command of the General Officer Commanding, Ceylon, of the British Army in Ceylon if mobilised. However mobilisation could be carried out only under orders from the Governor. The Ceylon Defence Force has seen action in a number of wars such as the Second Boer War and both World Wars. It is the predecessor to the Ceylon Army. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

History of Sri Lanka aspect of history

The history of Sri Lanka is intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent and the surrounding regions, comprising the areas of South Asia, Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean. The earliest human remains found on the island of Sri Lanka date to about 35,000 years ago. The proto-historical period begins roughly in the 3rd century, based on chronicles like the Mahavamsa, Dipavamsa, and the Culavamsa. The earliest documents of settlement in the Island are found in these chronicles. These chronicles cover the period since the establishment of the Kingdom of Tambapanni in the 6th century BCE. The first Sri Lankan ruler of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Pandukabhaya, is recorded for the 4th century BCE. Buddhism was introduced in the 3rd century BCE by Arhath Mahinda. The first Tamil ruler of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Ellalan, an invader, is recorded for the 2nd century BCE.

Provinces of Sri Lanka 1st level administrative subdivisions of Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, provinces are the first level administrative division. They were first established by the British rulers of Ceylon in 1833. Over the next century most of the administrative functions were transferred to the districts, the second level administrative division. By the middle of the 20th century the provinces had become merely ceremonial. This changed in 1987 when, following several decades of increasing demand for a decentralization, the 13th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka established provincial councils. Currently there are nine provinces.

Kandyan Wars

The Kandyan Wars refers generally to the period of warfare between the British colonial forces and the Kingdom of Kandy, on the island of what is now Sri Lanka, between 1796 and 1818. More specifically it is used to describe the expeditionary campaigns of the British Army in the Kingdom of Kandy in 1803 and 1815.

Sri Lankan independence movement political movement

The Sri Lankan independence movement was a peaceful political movement which aimed at achieving independence and self-rule for the country of Sri Lanka, then British Ceylon, from the British Empire. It was initiated around the turn of the 20th century and led mostly by the educated middle class. It succeeded when, on 4 February 1948, Ceylon was granted independence as the Dominion of Ceylon. Dominion status within the British Commonwealth was retained for the next 24 years until 22 May 1972 when it became a republic and was renamed the Republic of Sri Lanka.

Matale rebellion

The Matale rebellion, also known as the Rebellion of 1848, took place in Ceylon against the British colonial government under Governor Lord Torrington, 7th Viscount Torrington. It marked a transition from the classic feudal form of anti-colonial revolt to modern independence struggles. It was fundamentally a peasant revolt.

Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy last king of the Kingdom of Kandy

Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was the last of four Kings, to rule the last Sinhalese monarchy of the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. The Nayak Kings were of Telugu origin who practiced Shaivite Hinduism and were patrons of Theravada Buddhism.The Nayak rulers played a huge role in reviving Buddhism in the island.They spoke Tamil, which was also used as the court language in Kandy alongside with Sinhalese

Dutch Ceylon period of Dutch control of Ceylon

Dutch Ceylon was a governorate established in present-day Sri Lanka by the Dutch East India Company. Although the Dutch managed to capture most of the coastal areas in Sri Lanka they were never able to control the Kandyan Kingdom located in the interior of the island. Dutch Ceylon existed from 1640 until 1796.

Nayaks of Kandy

The Nayaks of Kandy were the rulers of the Kingdom of Kandy between 1739 to 1815, and the last dynasty to rule on the island. Their rise to power came about as a result of the death of Vira Narendrasinha, who left no legitimate heir- the throne passed to his brother-in-law, who was crowned as Sri Vijaya Rajasinha in 1739.

Mullaitivu District Administrative District in Northern, Sri Lanka

Mullaitivu District is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the town of Mullaitivu.

History of British Ceylon

Kandyan Kingdom falling into the hands of the British Empire and deposing of king Sri Wickrama Rajasingha started the history of British Ceylon It ended over 23000907 years of Sinhalese monarchy rule on the island. The British rule on the islands land lasted until 1948 when the country gained independence.

Portuguese Ceylon

Portuguese Ceylon was the control of the Kingdom of Kotte by the Portuguese Empire, in present-day Sri Lanka, after the country's Crisis of the Sixteenth Century and into the Kandyan period.

Maha Dissava

The Mahâ Dissâvas was a Great Officer in the Council of State in the Sinhalese Kingdoms of premodern Sri Lanka. Like many of the existing high offices at the time it had combined legislative and judicial powers and functioned primarily equivalent to that of a Provincial governor. The office of Dissava was retained under the successive European colonial powers, namely the Portuguese Empire, the Dutch East India Company and the British Empire. A Dissava was the governor a province known as a Disavanies. With his province, the Dissava held both executive and judicial authority.

Sinhalese–Portuguese War

The Sinhalese–Portuguese War was a series of conflicts waged from 1527 to 1658 between the indigenous Sinhalese kingdoms of Ceylon and their allies against the Portuguese Empire. The Portuguese were seeking to expand from their trading post at Colombo to incorporate Ceylon into their growing empire.

Throughout its history, Sri Lanka, as it is known today, has been ruled by various monarchial lines, at some times with different lines ruling different parts of the modern state.

Bibliography of Sri Lanka

This is a bibliography of works on Sri Lanka.

Coffee production in Sri Lanka

Coffee production in Sri Lanka peaked in 1870, with over 111,400 hectares being cultivated. The Dutch had experimented with coffee cultivation in the 18th century, but it was not successful until the British began large scale commercial production following the Colebrooke–Cameron Commission reforms of 1833. By 1860, the country was amongst the major coffee-producing nations in the world. Although coffee production remains a source of revenue, it is no longer a main economic sector. In 2014, the country ranked 43rd of largest coffee producers in the world.

Kandyan period

The History of the Kandyan Kingdom in Sri Lanka starts with its foundation in 1476.

References

  1. "The British Empire in 1924". The British Empire. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  2. Christie, Nikki (2016). Britain: losing and gaining an empire, 1763-1914. Pearson. p. 53.
  3. Müller, J. B. (6 November 2010). "Anglophiles, Eurocentric arrogance and Reality". The Island .
  4. Keerthisinghe, Lakshman I. (2013). "The British duplicity in protecting human rights in Sri Lanka". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  5. Sujit Sivasundaram, "Tales of the Land: British Geography and Kandyan Resistance in Sri Lanka, c. 1803–1850," Modern Asian Studies (2007) 41#5 pp 925–965.
  6. Christie, Nikki (2016). Britain: losing and gaining an empire, 1763-1914. Pearson.
  7. "THE POPULATION I OF SRI LANKA" (PDF). CI.CR.É.D. Series. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  8. "THE POPULATION I OF SRI LANKA" (PDF). CI.CR.É.D. Series. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  9. SURYANARAYAN, V. "In search of a new identity". Frontline. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  10. van Langenberg, Cyril. "The Volunteer Force". The Ceylon Army Journal Volume. Retrieved 31 January 2012.

Further reading

Coordinates: 6°55′00″N79°50′00″E / 6.9167°N 79.8333°E / 6.9167; 79.8333