De Fonseka

De Fonseka families of Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

"I think all of our lives have been terribly shaped by what went on before us"

Running in the Family, Michael Ondaatje, 1983


To know one’s ancestral history, and to get a glimpse into their lives, is a blessing that is not available to many. Only a handful of families in Sri Lanka, other than the Dutch Burghers, can lay claim to a documented history going more than a few decades. But for the De Fonseka family, a chance dispute in an inherited land, led to a unique court case during the Dutch Period, which left a trail of records relating to the family.

These pages contain their story, the genealogy and history of the de Fonseka family groups found in Sri Lanka. The available information has been grouped in to four segments, based on the unique family groups found within the country. The web pages linked in the different sections lists over 500 entries painstakingly compiled by the author, under the relevant family trees. The information in this page is expanding day to day. Your help in bridging the gaps, are most welcome

De Fonseka families of Kalutara

Key amongst them is the large and illustrious group of families originating from Kalutara. 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. Once considered Aristocrats, they have now integrated with the cosmopolitan community that is the present day Sri Lanka.

De Fonseka families of Panadura

While much has been discussed and documented about the De Fonseka families of Kalutara, several other clearly distinguishable De Fonseka family groups can be identified in a study of the ‘De Fonseka’ name.

One such group is the De Fonseka families originating from Panadura, closer to Kalutara. Predominantly Buddhists, there seems to be a large crowd of de Fonseka families distributed in and around Panadura. So far in my research I have not been able to find a connection between the two family groups, the only clue being the ‘Ge’ name of Kalutarawedage in some of these families. Hopefully future research may give the answers to these questions.

Associated families

The site also documents some of the families inseparably associated with the De Fonseka family, through the clan structure prevalent at that time. The families of D’andrado, Rowel, Tamel and xxx were part of the Varnakula Aditya clan of the Karava, and had close family links thru intermarraiges.

Other De Fonseka families

In this page I have documented some of the De Fonseka names that I have come across during my research, and which I have not been able to connect to the genealogy tables or the family trees collated so far. Further research on these names is bound to put all these in the correct place. 

Kalutara De Fonseka Places

Telford Lodge, Kalutara ‘Telford Lodge’ was the home of John Henry de Fonseka. His children Henry Frederick, E.C, Frank, Luke, Emmy and Louise de Fonseka spent the early part of their lives in this house. Later on Frank de Fonseka settled down in this property. His daughter Mary Grace married the son of James Fretz

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Karava Mudaliyars and Muhandirams during the British Period.

Hon. Governor North employed a member of the Karava caste, one of the two main casts, as the chief secretary in the years 1797 – 1815.(Voyages & Travels to Ceylon, India – Valentia Vol 1 p 303) Hon. Robert Brownrigg presented Johannes de Fonseka, Mudaliyar Kalutara Totamune, and a grand son of Don Michael de

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Mudaliyars Explained

These pages examines the life and times of the Mudaliyars, their background, the social and administrative function performed by them, their status in society, duties, details that gives us a better understanding of our ancestors some of whom were Mudaliyars. The second page in this series gives the numbers and distribution, their salaries and allowances

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Family Coat of Arms

Reference:          Pembley’s Dictionary of Hereldry         Illustrations provided by Jorge Arez Da Silva of Portugal.          (My thanks to Jorge for permission to reproduce the above prints).  Arms were so called because they were originally displayed upon defensive arms, and coats of arms because they were formerly embroidered upon the surcoat or

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