Some Notable Singhalese Families

Some Notable Singhalese Families
Sir Paul E. Pieris


In this series of books, written about Notable Singhalese Families of the 18th Century, Sir Paul E. Pieris makes references to family members in two of these volumes. However I have not had the opportunity to study both these volumes in detail or has had access to the other volumes, to provide to you a complete list of such references made.

Both the volumes relate to other families, but the De Fonseka and D’andrado names are mentioned in the main body or in historical documents reproduced in these books. Thus, although only a name may have been mentioned in passing (and which may sometimes seem irrelevant), yet it was decided to publish these sections of the book in full, for the interest they yield for the fellow Genealogists and Historians.

The reference made to Reynoldus D’andrado in Part 3, is used by many writers, including Patrick Peebles in his book ‘Social Change in the 19th Century’ to highlight the cast hierarchy.

“It is impossible to derive a unitary Singhalese caste hierarchy; although in the nineteenth century the India-oriented British strove mightily to do so. The absence of a rigid hierarchy is confirmed by the diary of Adrian de Alwis. He records for example that the goyigama  Maha Mudaliar Nicholas Dias Abeysinghe named karava  Mudaliyar of the Fishers, Reynoldus de Andrado, an executor of his estate.”

            The relevant sections of the books have been reproduced below.


Adrian de Alwis; Pages  21 – 23

An insurrection against Raja Sinha which began with an attempt to kill him on the night of the 21st of December, 1664 (1) caused a great change in his attitude towards the Company, which at his invitation proceeded to occupy the Four and Seven Korales and a portion of Sabaragamuwa. Mudaliyars from Matara were despatched there with their Lascarins and in the Proceedings of Council dated Colombo, 15th November, 1668,(2) appears the following:

“We have resolved to make a presentation to those Chiefs who have conducted themselves with distinction in the recent campaign, and to give a silver sword of the value of eighteen or twenty rix dollars to each of them, namely, to
              Wickreme Appohamy,
              Warrewatte Appohamy,
              Corale of Moruwa Corle,
              Corale of Colona Corle,
              Both the Balesurys, with an honour-name to the elder,
              Corale of Corroewitti Corle,
              Corale of Cucule Corle, and
               Louys d’Andrade.”

The valuable memories prepared for the guidance of the Officers in charge of Sofragam and Bibilegama, and dated September, 1669, show that the Chiefs of Colonna, Corroewitti and Cucule Corles were the Mudaliyars Abbecon, Manamperi and Jasonder respectively. All three of them are mentioned in flattering terms as gallant soldiers and entitled to all the courtesy and friendliness. (3)

The Balesurys can be identified from the Council Proceedings of 5-6 December, 1668, where it appears that Balasury Appohamy, now Dissanaike Modlier, with the Corales of Cucule and Correwitti Corles, were to join the Dutch at Soffragam, in order to hold the surrounding country for the Company. In addition, Dissanaike Modliar and his brother were entrusted with the task of bringing in the Navdun Corle; and, besides the silver swords presented to them, each was to receive twenty-five rix dollars in cash.

The rix dollar was the pataga or ridi paha of the Sinhalese, and was equal to five ridi, or larin, and to appreciate the value of this gift, it should be considered in terms of its buying powers. According to a marala talpat (2) prepared by Ekenaike Mohottiaar and dated the New Moon of January, 1699, the price of paddy was 21/2 laryn for 25 Kuruni, so that 25 rix dollars would have purchased 1,250 Kuruni. The usual price of a Kuruni in the Matara district today is 37 ½ cents.

In 1595 a larin would purchase 300 coconuts. (3)

The Memorie for the guidance of the officer in charge of Arandora (4) dated 4th September, 1669, shows that there were 182 Lascarins under eight chiefs in the Beligal Corale : there were eleven Kadavat, the chief of which was Arandora, where was stationed “Mature Ylangancon Modlyar” with 30 Lascarins from Matara and forty- eight from Colombo. This was, of course, Warrawatte Appohamv. (5)

There is also a Memorandum (6) to the Opperhoofd at Arandora, dated 5th August. 1669,
with a list of the villages with their sowing extents and the names of the Vidanes over them : –

“The Beligal Corle is a Province of great importance and is divided into four Districts each under a separate Corle, viz :

              Gandollaha Pattoe and
              Candoepitti Pattoe                – Jan Leety of Colombo.
              Oeterte Pattoe, Kelani          – Don Symon Appohamy
               Kirewille Pattoe, Colombo  – Manuel de Fonseco.

As the Corales cannot act in harmony we have appointed, the Mature Ylangancon Modlyaer as Head over the Corales, Vidanes and Lascoryns, under your Honour’s superior command. This Modlyaer has served here a long time in this capacity and is familiar with the country and is held in great esteem by the inhabitants. Your Honour can rely on him and make use of his counsel and when coolies are needed your Honour can call on him to supply them. This will serve the Company well and the inhabitants will suffer no hardship.”


Illangakone Family; Pages  21 – 25

No. 1543.

On this 21st day of May, 1793.

Before me Gerard Zybrand, junior merchant and first sworn cleric of the office of the Secretary Van Politie at this station.

Appeared Nicholas Dias Abeyesinghe Amarasekera, Chief Mudaliyar of the Gate of His Excellency the Governor at this place, who, in presence of the witnesses to be hereinafter named, declared his willingness to dispose of his temporal property, as he does by these presents, without being thereunto induced or persuaded or being misled by any one in this world, but out of his free and unconstrained will, in the following manner :

In the first place the testator declares to revoke all former testaments and codicils which he may have made, particularly his last closed wi1l dated 25th May, 1791, subscribed by me and witnesses, desiring that all such shall be held as of no force or of any avail.

The testator doth further declare to bequeath to the Deacons Funds of the poor at this place or wherever he may happen to die the sum of rdx. 15, which is to be paid by the executor hereinafter named to the Superintendent of the poor fund, desiring that the portion of the legacy he paid out of his estate.

The testator declares that he and his wife (since deceased) have adopted a child named Goipalagoddege Nicholas, the son of Wellala Appuhamy, for whom both of them became sponsors and which child is living with the testator, and the testator desires that after his death the said child shall remain with one of his heirs, who will be obliged to maintain and see that he is properly educated, and that when he become of age or attains any other qualified state the sum of 25 … be paid to him.

The testator desires that his slave maids Klauda and Amelia shall remain with and serve his youngest son Abraham until he become of age or attain any other qualified state, when it is his desire they should be made free and at the expense of the testator’s estate and their deeds should be delivered over to them, such expenses being paid to the Deacons Fund.

The testator desires that his under mentioned slaves shall not be sold, but that they shall remain with and serve his children until their natural lives, to wit
            Sumi Mira
            The girl Sapra
            The maid Amaladie and her daughter Rabja and Lanchey
            The children of the deceased Madelena named Katrencha
            Peena
            The maid Ano with her son and one daughter
            Abraham
            Salman
            Abea
            Adena
            Natto
            The slave boys Antho and Philippuwa
            The maid Maro with her son and daughter Joan and Royattah,

The testator’s heirs behaving towards them as well as his other slaves as they may think proper.

The testator declares that on a tract of ground situate beyond the Kayman’s Gate purchased by him, he has (among other) caused to be built another house, having thus long caused it to serve as a visiting place for travelers; and should the heirs of his estate (after his death) be inclined, to sell the ‘house also at the same time; but if they be inclined to retain the said piece of property, they shall be obliged to maintain the same and hold it for the same purpose as was intended by the testator.

The testator desires that out of his estate shall be deducted the maternal share of his three children :- Johannes Welhelmus, Dona Anna and Don Abraham Dias, the same not having been paid to them as yet. The testator declares that his eldest son Don Baltazer Dias has already received his maternal share.

The testator further desires that out of his estate shall be deducted the sum of 1,000 rdx, in favour of his youngest son Don Abraham Dias, to be paid to him on his attaining the age of majority or any other qualified state.

The testator declares at the same time that he has expended an equal sum at the marriage of his son Don Baltazar Dias and his daughter Dona Anna Dias and likewise at the ensuing marriage of his son Johannes Welhelmus Dias.

Proceeding to the institution of heirs, the testator declares to nominate and appoint as his universal heirs his four children Don Balthazar Dias, Mudaliyar of the Gate of the Commander of Galle and native Sabandaar, Johannes Welhelmus, Titular Mohandiram of the Guard of this place, Dona Ana Dias, married to the Mudalivar of the Attapattu of Galle, Don Bastian Gooneratna, and Don Abraham Dias ; that all the goods and chattels which at his death may be left behind, nothing whatever excepted, be possessed by them share and share alike, provided that the testator’s property consisting of gardens and fields shall remain unsold until his youngest son Don Abraham Dias shall attain the age of majority or come to any other qualified state, when the said lands shall, be valued and divided into four equal shares and possessed by them, and the rents and profits be divided into four equal shares and possessed by them.

The testator desires that his garden at Galle in which he has resided, called Pokune Walauwa, and his garden at Kataluwa called Poloyamodarawatta shall for ever remain unsold and undivided, the profits being divided among his heirs collectively, any of them who may be inclined being at liberty to live in the same.

As executors of this his last will, the testator nominates and appoints Philip Solomon de Waas, the second Maha Mudaliyar of the Governor’s Gate named Johannes de Saram, and the Mohandiram of the Guard Louis de Saram, the testator’s son Johannes Welhelmus Dias Titular Mohandiram of the Guard, and the Mudaliyar of the Fishers, Renaldus de Andrado to enable them to proceed with the management of the property which may be left after his death. He desires that no property of any consequence nor his clothing shall be sold; other goods to be sold and the outstandings to be recovered and afterwards or after the estate shall have been managed, the property retained with the clothing and the outstanding, recovered to be forwarded to Galle to the testator’s son, the Mudaliyar of the Gate and first native Sabandaar, Don Balthazar Dias, the testator’s son-in-law, the Mudaliyar of the Attapattu of Galle, Don Bastian Gooneratne and Johannes Wijeywardene, Mudaliyar of the Belligan Corle and the testator’s son, Johannes Welhelmus Dias, whom the testator does nominate as executors of his will of whatever property he may leave behind at Galle and of what they may have received from the executors herein first mentioned. They are also hereby appointed as guardians of the testator’s minor son, Don Abraham Dias, whom the testator wishes to have sent to Galle to the authority of the above named guardians, giving to the last named as well as to the first named executors jointly such powers as executors and guardians are entitled to, with the power of assumptions and substitution, excluding from his estate all managers of native estates and all other magistrates who for the sake of their office, would be disposed to interfere with his estate.

The testator desires that his son-in-law, the Mudaliyar of the Attapattu, Don Bastian Gooneratna, shall render a true account of the rents and profits of the garden and fields, which have thus been under his management.

The testator desires that mention should be made in this that he has rendered and settled all accounts up to March last of the Store villages under his management.

Lastly the testator declares to reserve to himself the power of making further dispositions by private will if he shall think proper to do so, desiring that this shall be considered of such effect as if the same were inserted in this word by word.

All what has been stated above having been explained to the testator, he declares the same to be his last will and testament, desiring that the same shall be acted upon either as his will or as may be consistent with law, employing the nobile ex ……. officium Judicio.

Thus the testator in the court of Colombo, at the office of the Secretary van Politie, on the day above-named and in the presence of the clerks, Christian Frederick Thomas, Daniel Oewet, as witnesses

                                                                                                                                                                (Sgd.) N. DIAS.

In our presence.
                C. F. Thomas
                D. Oewet

                                                                                                                      To my Knowledge

                                                                                                                                                                O. J. Zybrand
                                                                                                                                                                First sworn clerk.


Sir Paul E Pieris