Caste Conflict and Elite Formation

Caste Conflict and Elite Formation; The Rise of a Karava Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500 – 1931.
Michael Roberts,  first published 1982, ISBN: 81-7013-139-1  


Page 51 : With reference to the period from 1560 to 1650s when the Portuguese were engaged in more or less continuous warfare. 

            Don Manuel Dias D’Anderado, another Karava headman, received symbols of honor and high position from the Dutch in recognition of his military and other services, and held the office of Mudaliyar of Negambo in the middle decades of the seventeenth century.

( ref Memoirs of Van Goens 1663-1675, 1932 pp 8/19/20 

Page 69 : With reference to Caste Status/Hierarchy. 

            Thus, in 1663 the Dutch Governor, Van Goens, insisted that the Adigar of Bentota, one Don Constantyn who was probably of Goyigama caste, should ‘always be honored above the Mudaliyar of Negambo, Louys and Manuel D’Andrado’ (the D’Andrados being Karava), because the former was of ‘high descent’.

( ref Memoirs of Van Goens 1663-1675, 1932 p19 

Page 113 : With reference to plantation ownership in 1927. 

            If one excludes the 17,000 acres held by A. J. Vanderpoorten ( a Eurasian of recent origin), typically the four leading plantation owners were Karava: R. E. S. de Soysa (9,368 acres), E. C. de Fonseka (8,741 acres), Sir Henry L. de Mel (7,254 acres) and L. W. A. de Soysa (6,087 acres). In percentage terms the Karava constituted 46 percent of the Singhalese proprietorships, help 53 percent of plantation property and 56.8 percent of cultivated land. (from an analysis of Ferguson’s Ceylon Directory). 

Page 166 : With reference to the lobbying for the Legislative Council. 

            In 1881 S. R. de Fonseka and G. A Dharmaratna (both Karava), in 1888 Walter Pereira (Durava), T. E. de Sampayo (Navandanna), James Peiris and H. Jeronis Pieris (both Karava), virtually every one of them lawyers, were presented as suitable persons for nomination. 

Page 172: With reference to the Ceylon Agricultural Association. 

            At the height of this ‘struggle’, this association was renamed the Ceylon National Association in a move that was promoted by a Karava-Durava combination led by Walter Pereira, Charles Peiris and S. R. de Fonseka

Page 213: With reference to the Karava links

            It can be shown that the Karava elite maintained important bridges across the lines of economic stratification. The Karava rich and the western educated Karava, whether the older aristocracy represented by such families as the de Fonsekas of Kalutara, or the new rich, functioned as local notables at the apex of patron-client networks. 

Page 259: With reference to the transition from maadal  (fishing net) owner to merchant prince. 

            Don Bastian de Silva Jayasuriya was another owner of maadal  at Magalle (in the environs of Galle) who is reputed to have prospered initially in his trading activities in the early nineteenth century and even controlled several dhonies  or ships which traded with Burma. His new residence at Magalle was known as ‘Wasala Walauwa’ and his status was raised to that of a Mudaliyar of the Governor’s Gate in 1868. Two of his daughters, Justina and Nona Baba Hamine, married into the aristocratic de Fonseka family of Kalutara.

Page 267: With reference to Mututantrige Simon Fernando. 

            Mututantrige Simon Fernando Sri Chandrasekere was second only to C. H. de Soyza in the purchase of crown land in the later part of the century. One of his daughters married the veterinary surgeon, W. A. de Silva, while others married John Jacob Cooray, Dr C. P. de Fonseka, Cornelis Perera and Danister Perera Abeyewardena. 

( More  details about Dr. C. P. De Fonseka could be found in the Ancestry  Section – Panadura De Fonseka families )

Page 278: With reference to Karava marriage network.

             This weakening process was evident in the readiness with which the Karava Mudaliyar families of the early nineteenth century linked arms in marriage with the nouveaux riches  during the course of the century. The de Fonsekas of Kalutara, the Lowes and de Rowels, the Mendis Jayawardenas of Moratuwa and the Fernandos of Colombo did not hesitate very long in accepting the newcomers, as some of their marriages from the mid-nineteenth century will testify. 

Page 313: Principal Singhalese plantation proprietorships in 1927, compiled from the 1927 Furguson’s Ceylon Directory. ( The names of De Fonseka’s appearing in this list)

  1.      E. C. de Fonseka
  2.      Heirs of Mudaliar S. R. de Fonseka
  3.      Mrs. M. Salgado and Mrs. F. L. de Fonseka.