Notes on Jaffna 1 – Don Philippus Baldaeus

Beschryving van het Machtige Eyland, Ceylon.
Don Philippus Baldaeus, Amsterdam 1672, fol: ch: XLIV (Page 159.)

This is a work by a well-known historian The Rev. Dr. Philip Baldaeus was the Dutch Chaplain during the early Dutch rule in Jaffna. The Reformed religion was first introduced by him into Jaffna, (1658-August) He was present at Jaffna dur­ing the occurrence of the incidents which he relates. It is need­less for me to add that he is one of the early writers on Ceylon and his work is recognised as one of great authority.

He says :-

Shortly after the conquest our army removed to the coast of Coro­mandal in order to overwin Nagapatam, but Jaffnapatam was provided with a few soldiers only, and of these, almost the greater part were Portuguese, who forgetting their allegiance to the King of Portugal had put themselves under the obedience of the noble company. It must also be noted that there were in the castle a large number of prison­ers of war.

All these gathered together and made a conspiracy with the natives even not without the knowledge of Rajasinghe. Their intention was, while I was preaching outside the Fort in the Town, to kill all the head officers present at the sermon, whilst at the same time their accomplices in the Fort would do away with the first guard and then master the Fort, and this had not been difficult to do, if Almighty God had not been pleased to destroy their plans.

It so happened that during the sermon Don Manual Andrado, a Singhalese, a Captain, and a Mudaliyar in the service of the noble company, together with a troop of 17 or 18 men, his ordinary attend­ants, stopped before the entrance of the Church, without entering, as he and his companions, were able to hear and to understand. He got as I heard it later on from himself, a peculiar insight concerning the Portuguese barbarity, the more so, because he saw, those who were around him, and they were Portuguese. constantly manipulating their rifles or Cinco Palmas. However, as Don Andrado with his retinue did not enter, they remained also outside, and did not enter into the Church.

This evil deed remained unknown for a few days until at last Andrado discovered the whole conspiracy to Sir Jacob Van Thee. He at once, ordered a strong watch, closed the Fort, secured the conspira­tors and called me home in haste (as I was in the country to reform and visit the Churches;) as soon as I received his letter I went to the Fort and heard at once the whole treachery, how by God’s Grace It had been discovered and how the conspirators were strictly kept to meet In time the due punishment. We had great reason to thank God for this gracious deliverance, as I did publicly in the presence of our Dutch­men on 15th September 1658, taking for text Esther. Chapter 9 verses 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

Shortly after, (after they had been carefully examined and the truth had been heard from their own mouths) they were condemned to be hanged, beheaded and put on crosses. The leader of this impious cons­piracy was a native of Mannar, together with a Don Louis Puthatham­by and five Portuguese. They were bound on a cross and were struck with a hatchet first in their throat and then in the chest, their hearts were pulled out and flung in their treacherous faces. A Cleric named Calderoe being a Jesuit born in Malacca was beheaded. This man had been prevented through sickness and debility to depart with the clergy and be remained for his misfortune (perdition). He was really to be pitied for the lonely part he had in the shameful affair, was a letter written to him by these rascals in which they declared to him their purpose, addressing him Padre detuas almas, the father of their souls. He did not approve their impious purpose, his heart did not allow him to betray his own countrymen, but then he had to pay for his silence with his death. The other eleven in number were hanged on a triple gallows receiving a fitting reward for their deeds. Shortly after the other pri­soners were dismissed so as not to be further annoyed with these trea­cherous vermin. The corpses were hung on trees as food for the birds, the heads of the chief instigators of this awful proceeding were put on posts in the markets for all the passers-by to note.

The above is a full and circumstantial account. It is the first and most authoritative on record. It is both genuine and authen­tic. The intelligent and inquiring reader will see that no attempt is made to gloss over or disguise facts. The story is told in a matter-of-fact way, and in matter-of-fact language. The character and nationality of the writer entitle him to freedom from any imputations of partiality or prejudice.

Details from the book Notes on Jaffna, American Ceylon Mission Press, Tellippalai, Ceylon 1923. The entire appendix has been used to discuss the Andrado – Poothathamby story.