Dutch Records Online

A glimpse into the Dutch Records of the Sri Lanka National Archives: 


The origin of record keeping in Sri Lanka goes back to earliest times, beginning with the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the 3rd Century B.C. Buddhist temples spread thru ought the country and they preserved the teachings of the Buddha in record. The Mahavansa (the great chronicle) written during the 5th century A.D. by a Buddhist monk named Mahanama records a continuous history of the island from the earliest times up to the 6th century A.D. The other chronicle, Chulavansa, follows this.

The Portuguese who ruled this island from 1505-1638 AD made use of the indigenous land records relating to the maritime districts under their control, which formed the basis of their “Thombos” and “Forals” (Rent registers). When the Portuguese possessions in the island were attacked by the Dutch in 1640 A.D. bulk of the records were destroyed. Today there is very little original material preserved from the Portuguese period of Sri Lanka. Although the Island has a well-documented history based on inscriptions and the great chronicles covering a period of twenty-three centuries, its oldest archives extant in Sri Lanka dates back to the 17th century. Its meager 16th century archives are in Lisbon and Goa and the Archives of the Sinhalese monarchy has been lost to posterity. The history of Sri Lanka can be studied from original archival sources only from the 17th century onwards, and this refers to the Dutch period.

The Dutch who ruled the country subsequently realized the importance of the ‘Thombo’ registers. They expanded the registers to cover both land (Land Thombos) and people (Head Thombos) and kept meticulous records of their administrative work. These Dutch records covers material from 1640 -1796 and are found in a good state of preservation even today. It is also the largest and the best-preserved archives of Dutch material found in its former colonies in the East.

It is from these records that we pick the earliest references to the de Fonseka family.

The Dutch also for the first time introduced the systematic surveys of land, conducted by qualified surveyors. This was begun with the Jaffna Tombos during the time of Governor Gerrit de Heere. He appointed highly experienced Jan Christiaansz Toorzee to measure lots and draw accurate maps. Surveyors Claaesz Issaac, P. Bolsho and J. Shouten assisted him. As the documents in the volume deals with a land case, the names of these pioneering surveyors appear many a time in the volume, together with that of Disave Class Schot.

The stylized signature of Johannes Berghuysen, Secretary of the Ceylon Government, 28th June 1695. A Dutch Seal

Earlier research done by S. R. de Fonseka and others with the help of archivist E. Reimers, found references to the family in a case now filed as Dutch Records Volume 3210. The volume was compiled and translated to English by J. H. O Paulusz, Govt. Archivist from 1940 – 1958 and subsequently published as the D’andrado Manuscripts in the Sri Lanka Archives Volume II of 1984. The information in this volume helped to build up a documented and authenticated family history, going back to the year 1658. This volume also gives us an interesting insight into the life and times of the early 18th century, including possession of ‘Paraveni’ lands, and the ownership and transfer of slaves. The earliest recorded instance of the family name ‘de Fonseka’ in Sri Lanka, is found in this volume.

Marking another first  this website is proud to present to you extracts from these original Dutch records.


This is the first time that some of the Dutch records, now preserved in the National Archives of Sri Lanka, has been brought online. The records are presented to you with the kind permission of the Director of National Archives. As the records are in the early Dutch language, they have been included within its English translation known as the D’andrado Manuscripts. Links from the different documents in this collection will take you to the images containing the original Dutch work. This arrangement makes it possible for the reader to understand the contents and the structure of the volume, contents of each document (both in English), and then study the images of the original Dutch manuscripts.


The first recorded instance of the 'De Fonseka' name in Sri Lanka, that of Adigar Don Michael de Fonseka (1658).

The D’andrado Manuscripts

J. H. O. Paulusz

From the Sri Lanka Archives Volume II 1984  
(The Journal of the Sri Lanka National Archives, Colombo)

Pages 67 – 103


The de Andrado papers (volume No. 3210, Dutch records) are an interesting collection of legal and administrative documents of the 17th and early 18th centuries, which illustrate the various stages of a long conflict between the Judiciary and the Executive.

They consist of deeds and certificates affecting land, dating back to the early years of Dutch rule – petitions and declarations submitted to Court, extracts from the Judgment Roll, copies of writs and summonses, counter petitions, minutes by the Governor and reports from executive and judicial officers. These various papers were collected into a single file and deposited in the Secretariat for ease of reference by contemporary litigants.

The facts in the case are briefly as follows. Bras de Andrado had promised his future son-in-law Thomas Pieris, Junior Surgeon, a dowry of Rix – dollars 400 and had remitted in cash, jewellery or in land, the bulk of this amount. But a quarrel seems to have broken out between the two families (a notable feature of the case is the implacable hostility between the Andrados and the Pierises) and Bras refused to pay over the small balance of the dowry money still due, even though threatened with legal penalties.

Pieris sued him for the recovery of the money. But, though he obtained a decree against Bras he still could not force him to pay. Finally, various properties belonging to Bras were seized and auctioned by Disava Schot, in satisfaction of this and certain other claims. Most of the lands confiscated in this way were parveni properties, a fact well known to Bras who was so sure that they could never be taken from him whatever the circumstances, that he looked upon their sale and transfer to others with indifference, if not sardonic amusement.

The main interest of the book lies in the action of the Judiciary in declaring null and void the orders of a Governor de Heere, as carried out by Disava Schot and the extra ordinary strictness with which the sanctity of parveni lands was upheld.

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.

J. H. O. Paulusz    



Government Archives No:

  • 4333 & 4334 The Attorney of Wilhelmus Philippus van Cuylenburg, married to the widow of Rij & kloff Izaak Kriekenbeek contra Michiel de Andrado. 2 files. 1761. 

  • 4219 & 4220 Andries Peiris, as guardian of the minor, and Dominicus Peiris contra Thomme and & Mighiel de Andrado. 2 files.1743.

  • 4335 Petrus van Dort and others contra Wilhelmus Philippus van Cuylenburg. 1761 – 1762.

  • 4493 Joan de Fonseka contra the “weesmeesteren”, as executors of the estate of the late Captain Johannes Everhardus Jongbloet. 1787. 

  • 4513 The Secretary of the court of justice contra the executors of the estate of Nicolaas Fonseka and Catharina Fernando, widow and executor of the estate of Philip Gomes Rajepakse Mohandiram. 1789.

  • 2622 1781 January 3 – December 31, Nos. 1 – 188. By Hendrik Diederi, Dias da Fonseka. 

  • 2623 1781 – 1796 January 25.( n.b. Although composed by different clerks the numbering in this file is consistent), Nos. 1 – 54. The specification is as follows:

    • Nos. 01-11: 1781 – 1783 September 5 by Dias da Fonceka ; (see No. 2622).

    • Nos. 12-45: 1791 November 6 – 1795 April 14 by Gerrard Joan Fybrands ;  (see Nos. 2626-2631).

    • Nos. 46-51: 1795 November 10 – December 22 by Johannes Henricus Schroter ;  (see No. 2632).

    • Nos. 52-54: are by sworn clerks Jan Andriesz Paauw and Pieter Adolph Loffman.

  • 3671 Allied Cases. Translations of Sinhalese garden Registers in the Kalutara district. 1772.

  • 2848 Letters from the Colombo disava Class Schodt to the chief of Kalutara, Gerrit van der Scheur, and a letter from van der Scheur to the Governor. 1698 July21 – 1701 June 16.

    • (n.b. The letter to the Governor is not the one which accompanied this file, which, according to the old index list, was found among the documents of governor de Heere after his death. These letters have some relation to the complaints in Kalutara against the disava and the chief there, regarding which we have some information in that list. As the council minutes of this period are missing, there is no further information regarding this matter.)

  •  2850 Extracts from various letters from disava Class Schodt to the chief of Kalutara Gerrit van der Scheur. 1698 – 1701.

    •  (n.b. The originals are in No. 2849.)

Register of the documents, enumerated below which have been brought, on the orders of His Excellency the Governor Hendrik Becker, to the Secretariat, by the Hon’ble Captain da Costa, to be registered and preserved there, viz:

Images of the original Dutch records could be found within the following documents. Please follow the link to read the English translation and then to view the images.


Dutch Records No 1

Deed of gift of a piece of land named Coilwatta, situated in the village of Calamulla granted by H. E. the Governor of Ceylon, L. Pijl, on the last day of August A. D. 1687 to Bras de Andrado covering in area 303 1/2 square perches. By the Governor and Director of this Island of

Dutch Records No 2

Deed of gift of a plot of ground named Alegiduriawatta, situated in the aforesaid village of Calamulla, and covering in area 204 square perches, granted by and to the same persons and on the same date as above. By the Governor and Director of this Island of Ceylon, And by his Council; In virtue of

Dutch Records No 3

Certificate of ratification granted by the same persons as above on the 13th September 1687, confirming that the said Bras de Andrado was entitled to possess the above mentioned two pieces of land in hereditary ownership, but in the event of his dying without issue, these same lands should revert to the Hon’ble Company. By

Dutch Records No 4

Deed of transfer, executed before the Secretary Johannes Berghuysen, by the said Bras de Andrado on the 28th June 1695 of the aforesaid two pieces of land, as dowry of marriage portion, for his daughter Barbara de Andrado who had married the Junior Surgeon Thome Pieris. J. W. PARRA. Before me, Johannes Berghuysen, Secretary of

Dutch Records No 5

Three short instruments in Malabar, executed by Bras de Andrado relative.to certain goods which he donates to his above mentioned daughter, with the translation thereof annexed.   No 1 – Translation from the Tamil On the 15th of June in the year one thousand 695 after the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, I Bras

Dutch Records No 6

Certificate issued by H. E. Admiral Rijkloff van Goens on the 3rd of January 1664, in favour of Manuel de Andrado, relative to a certain garden, situated in the Kalutara District, which at an anterior date, had belonged to the Portuguese Dom Manuel. WHEREAS aforetime a certain garden situated in the Kalutara district, and belonging

Dutch Records No 7A

Petition submitted to H. E. Governor Simons by Louis Pieris pleading therein that everything might be left stayed, in the same position as at the beginning of the lawsuit.  Petition : To the Rt. Hon. & Worshipful Wide Governing Doctor Corneljs Joan Simons, Governor and Director of Ceylon, the Coast of Madura, Inchiado* etc. together

Dutch Records No 7B

Declaration executed on the 14th December 1702 regarding the sale of the different lands of Bras de Andrado by the Dessave Class Schot. Declaration :             Before me, Daniel Tiste, Secretary of the Hon. Court of Justice of this Castle, there appeared on this 14th day of December, 1702, in the presence of the witnesses

Dutch Records No 7C

Extract from the Civil Judgment Roll, maintained on behalf of the Hon’ble the Court of Justice here, wherein the said Pieris is condemned to surrender back to Bras de Andrado the two bought gardens with the profits derived there from and enjoyed since the sale. Extract from the Civil Judgment : Extract from the Civil

Dutch Records No 8A

Petition submitted by the above-noticed Bras de Andrado, addressed as above, pleading that the aforesaid judgment, (whereto also is added ) might be put into execution Petition : To His Excellency Dr. Cornelis Joan SimonsGovernor and Director of the far-famedIsland of Ceylon, the coasts of Madura,Inchiado etc. It was on the 18th of February and

Dutch Records No 8B

Judgment : Extract from the Civil Judgement Roll maintained for the Hon’ble the Court of Justice of the Castle of Colombo where, among other entries, the following stands recorded in verbis, viz : Friday the 3rd August 1703 Present :The Hon’ble Mr. Joan Christiaansz Toorze, President.The Hon’ble Mr. Pieter MacareThe Hon’ble Mr. Gerrit HoflantThe Hon’ble

Dutch Records No 9A

Writ served by the Procurator Douwe Peterson on the person of Louis Pieris to quit the two purchased gardens. Writ :             By virtue of a certain judgement pronounced by the Hon. the Court of Justice of this Castle on the 3rd August last to the advantage of Bras de Andrado and the disadvantage of Louis

Dutch Records No 9B

Summons served by the Procurator Douwe Peterson on the person of Louis Pieris to quit the two purchased gardens Summons :             In conformity with the attached judgement delivered on the 3rd August last by the Hon. the Court of Justice of this Castle in favour of Bras de Andrado former Chief of the Lascorin

Dutch Records No 9C

Declaration of the 24th October 1703 wherein is shown how the goods which were sold by the Hon’ble the Disava (. in ownership. Always. ) held by the purchasers. Declaration :             Before me, Daniel Tiste, Secretary of the Hon. the Court of Justice of this Castle there appeared on this 24th day of October,

Dutch Records No 10

Counter statement by the former Disãva and then Captain Lieutenant Class Schot, dated the 28th June 1706, against and in rebuttal of a petition from Bras de Andrado, and certain annexed papers, numbered 1 to 4. Counter statement of Class Schodt former Dessave of the Colombo District,  at present Capt.-Lieut. in the service of the

Dutch Records No 12

Written statement made by the Hon. (P) Bolscho and da Costa on the 28th October regarding the two bought gardens of Louis Pieris and what profits could have been derived there from since the sale, so that these amounts could be refunded to Bras de Andrado. To His Excellency Dr. Cornelis Joan Simons, Councillor Extraordinary

Colombo, the 4th May, A. D. 1709.

The foregoing documents have been deposited here in the Secretariat, by Captain Hon. Gregorius da Costa in order that parties who might require them could make use thereof ; and His Honour accordingly hereby relinquishes responsibility for them.

                                                                                Colombo, on the date as above.
                                                                                Signed: Francoys Thivart. Sworn Clerk.


Annexes & Extracts from various Works & Files :

( These form no part of Vol. 3210 )

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 1

Extract from Council Resolutions between 15th August and 5th September, 1663.G.A. Colombo, Dutch Records, No. 10, page 22.             In reward for the distinguished conduct and services of the Sinhalese Chieftains Mohotty Appuhamy and Louis d’Andrado rendered at the siege and capture of Cochin and in order to bind them more closely to the Company,

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 2

Translation of a Memorial           Below is reproduced a translation of a memorial which mentions Manuel d’Andrado Sabandaar, his brother-in-law Louis d’Andrado, Adigar of Kalutara, and Don Manuel’s son-in-law Don Michelsz de Fonseka who was later appointed Adigar of Kalutara. The Dutch original of the Memorial is among the private family

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 3

INSTRUCTIONSfromTHE GOVERNOR-GENERAL AND COUNCIL OF INDIAtoTHE GOVERNOR OF CEYLON1656-I 665. Translation by Sophia Pieters. Page 89               With a view to acquire as soon as possible a better knowledge of the country and the circumstances of the people it will be necessary for Your Honour to make a trip

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 4

Dutch Records: Vol. 9, Fol. 168. Secret Resolutions : Tuesday 30th Sept., 1656.             Continuing, the Commissioner said that he had noticed how the lands between the Alutgama river and those northwards as far as Panadura, which formed the frontiers of the Pasdun and Raigam Corles, could very well bring to the Company a

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 5

EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF CEYLON12-16 Jan., 1660Vol. 9, Fol. 188 1/2.   Expediton aginst Cochin and Keylam             With a view to enlarging this military force and because certain volunteers among the Islander troops or lascorins offering their services for this expedition, it was resolved to take in addition :                          The Mudaliyar

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 6

Memoirs of Ryckloff Van Goens, Governor of Ceylon (1663-1675).delivered to his successors:  JACOB HUSTAERT (1663) and Van GOENS (JNR.) 1675. Tr. by E. Remiers, Govt. Archivist (p. 19)         “It has always been my practice to keep near me some of the Sinhalese Chiefs as it would otherwise be difficult to preserve the particular

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 7

RESOLUTION OF COUNCILMonday, 28th Jan., 1670.Vol. 15, FoL 101 1/2:             3. “On Account of the large numbers of wild elephants, a hunt had, of necessity, to be held in the district of Colombo, just as two years ago a similar hunt had to be undertaken in the Panadura area. On that occasion a gratuity

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 8

REGISTERS OF LAND GRANTS: VOL. 25106TH JANUARY, 1687, Page 78, Viz             8. To Manuel d’Fonceca, Vidana of Madampitiya, Mutuwal, Tanka Salgadu, Matakuliya, Madaduwa, Kotahena, St. Sebastian etc., being the area extending from Naga!agam Pass up to Colombo, the Governor and his Council, by v rtue of their commission, have granted as maintenance, until it

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 9

EXTRACT FROM THE RESOLUTIONS OF COUNCIL29-30TH JULY 1689,VOL. 31, PAGE 32, PARA 19, VIZ             5. “Finally the charge was laid against him (Van der Parra) that he bad leased out a garden on the north side of the river (Kalu Ganga) for a term of six years to Domingo d’Andrado. and Mighiel Anthony and

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 10

EXTRACTS FROM THE REV. P. BALDEUS’ “DESCRIPTION OF CEYLON”:TRANSLATION IN CHURCHILL’S “COLLECTION OFVOYAGES AND TRAVELS” (1) Page 701.            Manoel Andrado (who signaliz’d himself before Jafnapatnam, of which anon) was likewise advised by a letter from his brother-in -law, that the king’s forces had wounded a woman and a slave near the pass of Caleture ;

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 11

VALENTYN “CEYLON” P. 307 – IN HIS CHAPTER ON THE POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF THE DISAVA:             7. ” but entirely irresponsible was the execution (of judgement) which the Disava arrogated to himself in the year 1708 in the law suit against Bras Andrado and Louis Pieris wherefore it followed that the wrong was

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 12

A letter from Don manuel d’Andrado toAdmiral Ryckloff Van Goens, dated Jaffnapattam 6th February, 1659. Extract from “The Dutch Power in Ceylon, 1602-1670”ByDR. P. E. PIERIS Page 275-276. TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE ADMIRAL Illustrious Sir,             As soon as I learnt that you had returned to Colombo, I decided to write a few lines to

Dutch Records Annexes & Extracts 13

List of Family Documents in the possession of Mr. S. R. de Fonsekasubmitted totheHistorical MSS. Commission. A memorial in Dutch with references to (a) Manuel d’Andrado Mudaliyar of Kalutara in 1656 and Sabandaar (b) His cousin and brother-in-law Don Louis d’Andrado Adigar of Kalutara and Walallawita Korale (c) Manuel d’Andrado’s Son-in-law Don Michael De Fonseka

Note by the Editor:

The d’Andrado papers and other references pertaining to that family had been brought together and translated by Mr. J. H. 0. Paulusz,, who was the Government Archivist, from 1940 to 1958. Since its translation, the papers had been lying with a member of that family, Mr. F. B. de S. J. Wijenayake of Colombo, who very kindly, brought it to my notice.

In perusing the papers, given to me by Mr. Wijenayake, I found them to be most interesting, not only as Illustrating a conflict between the Judiciary and the Executive, but also as documents providing illustrative information on personalities, their land holdings, the nature of land documents, like deeds, grants and gifts, the operation of judicial procedures, and also as material yielding a cursory glance into the society of the period.

Thus, although the documentation seems inconclusive, and the other evidence too, may sometimes seem disjointed, yet it was decided to publish them for the per Se, interest, they yield, as well as for the illustrative value they provide, of documents that are available at the Archives, for research in genealogy, social history and other fields of study.

Mr. Paulusz, who is presently in Abergele, Wales, has written to say that he had carried out this work during the War under varying disabilities. He states that the subject would have been given fuller editorial treatment if he could have consulted the Jakarta records, then under Japanese occupation He, further says, that even later, severe restrictions had been laid by the Soekarno regime, on access for the repository, so that no thorough search had been possible there. This explanatory note by Mr. Paulusz, throws further light on material that would be available elsewhere, for studies in the Dutch Period’ of Sri Lankan history.

Readers are also referred to the published Catalogues of Jurriaanse and Mottau for information on the Administrative Records of the Dutch period (1640-1796), available at the Sri Lanka Archives.

© Copyright Department of National Archives, Sri Lanka. Reproduced with the permission of the Director, Department of National Archives.

  1. Mottau Catalogue – Administrative Records of the Dutch Period,
    Department of National Archives.
  2. Land for Money – K. D. Paranawithana. 
  3. The Journal of the Sri Lanka National Archives, Volume II 1984.

              Department of National Archives
              P.O. Box 1414, No. 7, Reid Avenue,
              Colombo 7, Sri Lanka.
              Director  :  Dr. K.D.G. Wimalaratne
              E-mail     :  narchive@slt.lk
              Tele. No : 94 1 694523, 94 1 696917
              Fax         : 94 1 694419