Hello and welcome to the ‘De Fonseka‘ family genealogy website, the very first web site dedicated to Genealogy and Family Name Research in Sri Lanka.
Genealogy (from Greek: genea, “generation” and logos, “knowledge”), also known as family history, is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, and other records to obtain information about a family.
For the Sri Lankan genealogist, lack of records of any sort has been a serious constraint in looking up ones own family history. But one unique court case during the Dutch Period, in which the all powerful ‘Disava’ or the Dutch ruler of the province who was also the chief land administrator, was challenged in a court of law, left a trail of records relating to the De Fonseka and associated families. It was the Dutch who introduced meticulous record keeping to Ceylon, improving on the Portuguese land ‘Tombos’1. The Dutch records (still available in the National Archives) pertaining to the case was subsequently translated and published in English as the ‘De Andrado manuscripts’ by Mr. J. H. O. Paulusz,, who was the Government Archivist, from 1940 to 1958. It was a stroke of luck for the family, and early researchers such as S R De Fonseka worked with scholars to translate the Dutch work and build the family history. The authenticated research which was published by M D Raghavan in the book, ‘The Karava of Ceylon’. lays the foundation for this website.
This website is proud to present to you extracts from original Dutch records referring to the case, maintained in the Sri Lanka National Archives. This is the first time that the Dutch records, now preserved in the National Archives of Sri Lanka, has been brought online.
Built up from these archival records, the website presents to you the genealogy and history of the De Fonseka families of Kalutara, Sri Lanka. With a documented history going back to 1658 in the Dutch period (during the reign of King Raja Singha II), the families were part of the ruling Mudaliyar class in the lowlands.
This site takes you on their journey thru time.
The pursuit of family history in this site was shaped by two motives, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and to use the new medium of the internet to share, collate and bring the families past and present together.
If you are a first time visitor to this site, you have probably come to the best place to start off your voyage of discovery. The following notes will guide you on the contents of this site, how it is organized, and how to look for specific information.
The Family page traces back the roots from way back in 1658 with the help of the genealogy information found in the D’Andrado Manuscripts, a collection of historical Dutch Documents, De Fonseka family documents, ‘ The Karava of Ceylon’ by M. D. Rhaghavan (1961) and other reference material. The section picks up from where the genealogy charts end, and builds up the records to the present day with more than six further generations of the families and over 400+ entries. These details have been collected from family members, from feedback received through the website from fellow genealogists and by researching church and government records.
In the Surname page we also look at the meaning, history and other details of the surname and also study the different branches of ‘de Fonseka’ families found in Sri Lanka. We also study the
The Karava page traces the early historical background, so necessary to understand the history of the family beyond the documentation available (1658). We resort to cast studies, specially the history of the Karava caste, and other reference material to trace the origins and the possible paths the family may have taken before 1658. The contents in this page will be of interest to members of many similar karava families.
The People page lists articles of interest authored by me, as well as published articles and appreciations on family members.
The Articles page brings you interesting articles containing stories, anecdotes, and others as well as historical articles which help you to put the family history in to context.
The Reference page contains all the documentation referred by this site. This is also a useful place for other Sri Lankan Genealogists, to start their own journey of discovery.
If you are a visiting ‘de Fonseka’, please go to the contact section in the footer and help me to enhance these pages further, by providing information or material which may be in your possession. It is such feedback that has helped me to build the website to what it is today. The web site is continuously evolving with contributions from far corners of the world, from people like you who stumble upon it, and contribute in your own different ways to make it grow.
Hope you’ll enjoy browsing these pages, as much as I enjoyed bringing it Online.
J. F. R. De Fonseka (Fonny)
Land for Money – Dutch Land Registration in Sri Lanka, K. D Paranawithana 2001