The Chieftains of Ceylon, J. C. Van Sanden

This book by Van Sanden is important to the De Fonseka’s for the information it gives about the low country Chief Headmen of the past as well as for an inaccurate and misleading fact stated in the record of Mudaliyar S. R. de Fonseka. 

It goes on to say; 

The family claims descent from Don Pedro, a Chieftain, in Portuguese times who is said to have become Maha Adigar in the Court of King Wimala Dharmasuriya. His people obviously went over to the Dutch, for we find Don Pedro’s son, Manuel D’Andrado, Adigar, Kalutara, taking up arms against the Portuguese on behalf of the Dutch, and even fighting against the Sinhalese King.’ 

If this account is true, then it would have been possible for us to trace the ancestry back one further generation than what is listed in the above genealogy chart.

However there is no evidence to this effect. Don Pedro was the Captain General Of the Portuguese at the battle where Wimaladarmasuriya of Kandy captured and later married Dona Catherina. Don Pedro was a Portuguese. He had an officer called Manuel Dias on his side. This was a time of great intrigue. Manuel Dias is mentioned in a foot note in Couto’s History of Ceylon. Manuel Dias then changed to Wimaladarmasuriya’s camp and became the Maha Adigar

Another interesting revelation in this book is found in page 9, which describes a community of Mudaliyars, including Don Manuel D’Andrado that distinguished themselves in the field of war.

‘From what has been stated so far it will be seen that Chief headmen of Ceylon were a less favoured section of the executive in the collection of revenue during Portuguese times, than during the Dutch regime. Nevertheless, during the earlier period they have been a distinguished community in the filed of war, as when the Lusitanians ravaged this country with their superior arms. Having been military officers already whilst the sea-board too came under the nominal sway of the Sinhalese monarchs, their martial character and bearing; intimate knowledge of the country; and influence over their feudal levies, rendered the Chieftains of Ceylon powerful allies of the Portuguese Governors in the incursions and retaliatory wars of the latter against the Kandyan Kings. For this reason, the historical records and publications that relate to this period provide abundant evidence in proof of the courageous generalship and valiant exploits of the Chieftains, whether amongst the Kandyan Disawes and Provincial Governors on the side of their over-lord and king, or amongst the Mudaliyars of the Low-country who owing to community of interests and religious ties espoused the cause of the invaders. This does not mean, however, that the people of this country were Roman Catholics – the religion of the Portuguese – before the arrival of the latter. The religious and sentimental attachment referred to was, indeed, a later development. Prominent amongst the Mudaliyars who loomed large in the pages of Portuguese history are Domingos Corea, Manuel D’Andrado and Don Cosmas, two of whom later went over to their own war-weary countrymen. Corea, however, was re-captured and having recanted in penitence died the death of a traitor on the scaffold. However these Un-toward endings may have been, the Low-country Mudaliyars of Portuguese times in many instances covered themselves with glory alike for their personal courage and indomitable skill as warriors, as for the genius that conceived and carried out the long and perilous preparations that culminated in their brilliant victories over superior Portuguese forces. Their fame has been immortalized in song and verse, but like all great men in their genera­tion, they have their critics and detractors.’

From this it becomes quite clear that Manuel D’Andrado fought at one time with the Portuguese against the armies of the Sinhala kings, and later on fought against them with the Dutch. The D’andrado involvement with the Dutch is well documented, but this is the only book that indicates his involvement with the Portuguese. ( Baldaeus  records Manuel D’Anderado as being part of the army that in 1658 lay siege to and captured the fort of Jaffna – see Baldaeus, reference Page ). 

The references to the De Fonseka and D’andrado Mudaliyar names found in this book are listed below, with the heading under which the names have been categorised.

Some Prominent Chief Headmen of the Past:

D’ANDRADO Reynoldus:

Mudaliyar and Military officer, under the Dutch from whom he received a grant of 58 acres of land known as ‘Mahawatte’ in Grandpass, Colombo, which is still in the possession of his descendants. Mudaliyar D’Andrado traces his descent to the famous Don Pedro of Portuguese times.


u  Reynoldus D’Andrado,(qv  ); f Manuel D’Andrado, Disawe, Matara, 1715. Muhandiram and later Mudaliyar, Colombo; Superintendent Arrack Monopoly.

DE FONSEKA, Gate Mudaliyar, S. R:

J.P, U.P.M, Mudaliyar, Salpiti Korale; g-gf   Pedro de Fonseka, Interpreter Muhandiram, whose father was Maha Vidane and afterwards became Muhandiram and Mudaliyar; g-g-g-gf   Don Michaelsz de Fonseka who succeeded Louis D’Anderado as Adigar of Kalutara and Walallawita Korale. The family claims descent from Don Pedro, a Chieftain, in Portuguese times who is said to have become Maha Adigar in the Court of King Wimala Dharmasuriya. His people obviously went over to the Dutch, for we find Don Pedro’s son, Manuel D’Andrado, Adigar, Kalutara, taking up arms against the Portuguese on behalf of the Dutch, and even fighting against the Sinhalese King.

DE FONSEKA, Johannes: 

Totamune Mudaliyar, f Franciscu de Fonseka, Mudaliyar; gf Manikku de Fonseka, Mudaliyar and a scion of the Fonseka family mentioned preceding; ss Selestinu de Fonseka, Mudaliyar, Kalutara and Panadura Totumunes; Manuel de Fonseka, District Mudaliyar, Kalutara and Superintending officer, Public Work Department from Wellawatte, (Colombo), to Bentota.

Chief Headmen who have retired from office:

De Fonseka, George William Abayasekere Gunaratna:

Mudaliyar Salpiti Korale; u  Liveris de Fonseka, Mudaliyar, Kalutara and Panadura Totamunes; gu Dandris de Silva Gunaratna, Mudaliyar, Raiygam Korale. 1916, appointed President, Village Tribunals, Hewagam Korale; 1921 promoted Mudaliyar, Salpiti Korale. Stood for election in 1936 to the State Council for the Kalutara Seat and forfeited his deposit of 1000 Rs through having failed to poll one-eighth the number of votes as the winning candidate.

Chieftains of Ceylon a hundred years ago:

(listed under Chieftains of Ceylon a hundred years ago; from the ‘Ceylon Almanac’ of 1835. The spelling of the names have been reproduced exactly as in the Almanac.)


Manuel De Fonseka Wijetoenge Samerenayke, Maha Vidaan Mohandiram of the fishers of Morottoo and Galkisse.


Celestina Fonseka Wijetoengey Arsekooleratne, Maha Vidhan Modliar of the fishers of the Caltura District.

David Fonseka Warnesoerie Wirasinhe Aresekooleratne, Mohandiram of the fishers of the Caltura District.

Related Families:

Wijetunge. Samson Perera Abeyesekera :

Mudaliyar, Wellaboda Pattu; qu Dionisyus Desa Abeyesekera, Mudaliyar, Giruwa Pattu who married a grand-daughter of Manuel Dias Andrado, a distinguished Chieftain of Portuguese times; q-gf D. Desa Abeyesekera, Acting Mudaliyar, Wellaboda Pattu; wife’s gf Manuel de Fonseka, Mudaliyar, Kalutara Totamune. Bros-in-law Dunstan Edwin Wijesekere (qv) Colombo Mudaliyar, and F. A. Wijesekere, (qv) Retired President, Village Tribunals, Waikkal. 1918, Mudaliyar, East Giruwa Pattu. 1930, transferred to Wellaboda Pattu. Inaugurated Cotton growing and was presented with a Gold medal by the public.