Hello and welcome to ‘De Fonseka‘ family name genealogy website, the very first web site dedicated to a family name in Sri Lanka.
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 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 family. 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 works and built up 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.
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 and how to look for specific information.
The site has been structured to show the family genealogy in two separate sections. 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
History of the Karava caste, the caste system in Ceylon and other interesting details, of particular interest to the de Fonseka families can be found in the Karava section. This provides the early historical background, so necessary to understand the information presented elsewhere in the site. While this site does not espouse cast supremacy or debate, this material gives us an idea of the origins and the possible paths, the De Fonseka’s and the other Karava families may have taken over the years.
The People page lists articles of interest written 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 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.
Land for Money – Dutch Land Registration in Sri Lanka, K. D Paranawithana 2001