The curse of the D’ Andrados and D’Andrado slaves

When Manuel D’Andrado accompanied the Dutch to capture Jaffna from the Portuguese, he got involved with the wife of a Tamil Mudaliyar, with disastrous consequences for both.

When Manuel D’Andrado went with the Dutch to capture Jaffna from the Portuguese, there was an attempted coup, where several people were hung, drawn, quartered and their bodies exhibited as an example. Baldaeus reports this in graphic detail in his book ‘A Description of Ceylon’. One of those thus killed was Louis Poothathamby, a Tamil.

His descendents were angry with Don Manuel D’Andrado and many years later a play was produced called ‘Poothathamby  Nadagam’ and became well known. According to this play Don Manuel had an eye for Poothathamby’s wife and was spurned by her.  In revenge Don Manuel implicated Poothathamby in the coup, and got him killed. 

The women in the ‘Pootha’ household would attend the kovil and  wipe the floor with their long tresses, calling for a curse on the D’Andrados, for them to be wiped out in seven generations.

In the play Manuel was killed by an elephant on his way back to Colombo. However this is all make believe as many references are made to Don Manuel in later years. The main authentic refutation of this is found in  “The Memoirs of Ryckloff Van Goens”, written five years later, in 1663 (Reimers’ Tr.). Van Goens, the outgoing Dutch Governor recommends to his successor in office, both Don Manuel d’ Andrado and Don Louis d’Andrado. This is what he writes of Don Manuel:  Don Manuel d’Andrado is lately, returned from Jaffnapattam, and although ‘he has not acquitted himself to my entire satisfaction, Your Excellency may well employ him again on account of his knowledge of Pasdun Korale, but he is prodigiously arrogant.

See the Reference section, Baldaeus ‘A Description of Ceylon‘ and C. Brito ‘Yalpana-Vaipava-Malai‘ for a full account of this interesting story.

The D’andrado Slaves

Judging by some of the evidence collected, it is quite possible that the de Fonseka clans may have owned Slaves in their properties, at one time or the other. The following account from the D’andrado Papers describes the transfer of slaves as part of a dowry.

  • Other elements of interest are the character of Bras de Andrado, often vilified without justification in the heat of legal exchanges, and the social customs among his kinsmen of the Fonseka family and others.
  • A clear insight into the Slave System and its incidence in the domestic and social life of the past ages, is among the sidelights we glean from these papers.
  • The deed of November 12, 1695, by which Bras de Andrado bestowed certain property on his daughter, provided that she shall inherit all his goods and slaves, except two lads named Kadrian and Joan who have been set free by him.
  • The deed of October 6, 1695, by which Bras de Andrado bestowed certain property on his daughter, provided that she shall inherit the garden named Taladewatte and Parangiatotam, together with two female slaves named Maria and Sabina to serve my daughter so long as she remains in this world.
  • Slaves formed part of the land, and were bought and sold with the transfer of ownership of land. A slave girl bought by Thomas Pieris from Bras de Andrado, was taken over by the later for what she had cost, on the adjudication of the protracted case between Bras de Andrado and his son-in-law, Thomas Pieris.
  • Among the documents in the possession of Mudaliyar S. R. De Fonseka were papers relating to slave transfers of the D’andrado families. The full list of documents could be found in the reference section, under ‘Dandrado Papers’. The two references to slave transfers have been reproduced below.(1) Slave transfer in favor of Philip Manuel d’Andrado dated 12 October 1779.(2) Slave transfer in favor of Renaldus d’Anderado dated 9th September 1789