The Dutch Wars with Kandy 1764 – 1766

Major R. Raven-Hart

This book, Bulletin No 6 in the Ceylon Historical Manuscript Commission series is a somewhat rare book that deals with the Dutch wars which took place with the rulers of Kandy. The book describes the events that took place in about 15 pages of narrative detail, and includes translations of a collection of letters between the Battle fields and Colombo, Minutes of the Secret Committee,  Correspondence with Batavia and Holland and extracts of correspondence from  the Hague Archives, the Ceylon Archives  and other sources. But most of all It also contains references to the Lowe, Tamel and Tissera families, and their involvement in these wars. 

A DutchMap showing the Kammala area where some of the events described took place. Kammala, Chilaw, Negambo and Thambarawila etc found in the Genealogy Charts, are shown here.

The Dutch, unlike the Portuguese before them, vastly extended the area under their control and eventually took over the remaining harbors and completely cordoned off Kandy, thereby making the highland kingdom landlocked and preventing it from allying itself with another foreign power.  This strategy, combined with a concerted Dutch display of force, subdued the Kandyan kings. Henceforth, Kandy was unable to offer significant resistance except in its frontier regions, which kept on changing from time to time. Despite underlying hostility between Kandy and the Dutch, open warfare between them occurred in 1762 and 1763 when Chilaw and Puttalam  fell and was regained. These events prompted the Council of Indies in Batavia to take energetic action against the king of Kandy. The Dutch, exasperated by Kandy’s provocation of riots in the lowlands, launched a punitive expedition. The expedition of 1764 was complex and unsuccessful, but a better-planned second expedition in 1765 forced the Kandyans to sign a treaty that gave the Dutch sovereignty over the lowlands. This book covers in detail the events that took place during the campaigns of 1764 and 1765 .

The 1765 campaign opened on the 4th of January with one force of over 1400 men from Chilaw, Puttalam and Colombo moving from Puttalam, another force of 3000 men with Governor Van Eck (appointed 29-5-61), and many hundreds more. These included local lascorins (Singhalese soldier class) commandeered by the local Mudaliars and officials.  The Dutch employed Europeans, Easterners (Indonesians, Javans and Malays), Chinese or even Criminals from Batavia, Malabar Sipahis (soldiers recruited in India and Nagapatnam) and many others. The Dutch columns advanced thru Gonawila, Galagedera and Weuda to Katugastota on the 16th of February. The Treaty with the rulers of Kandy was entered to on the 14th possibly at Galagedera or Katugastota. However since the Ambassadors who signed it had no credentials, and as Van Eck thought it was a ruse to delay the advancement, Van Eck ordered his troops to advance on to Kandy. The Dutch entered and took control of Kandy around the 19th of February. The Palace was plundered first by the Kandyans before Van Eyk’s arrival, and then by his troops. They finally decided to abandon the city on the 25th of August and commenced the retreated from Kandy on the 31st. This brief occupation of Kandy by the Dutch is not known by many. It is generally assumed it was the British who first conquered Kandy.

Having understood the events of that era described in the book, let us now look at some of the the Varnakula Adittiya Arasanilayitte ancestors mentioned in this book. Since most of the columns advanced from Negambo, Chilaw and Puttalam, the Lowe, De Rowel, Tamel and Tissera families have been involved in the campaigns.

Mahamuhandiram Francisco Lowe is mentioned in many places as having taken part in the pacification of  Pitigal Corale, and having been with the Puttalam column in the 1765 campaign.

The involvement of Don Simon de Melho (Mudaliyar)  from the Tamel Family in pacifying the Pitigal Korale in 1764 is mentioned. He has later died of small pox in 1810.

Don Gerrit Tissera (Mudaliyar) of Negambo is also mentioned.

The paragraphs where mention has been made, has been reproduced below.  The letters appear in the order of the date. The number next to it is the codex used by the Ceylon Archives. References to codices at the Hague, takes the form of an ‘H’ plus the number.

Louw ( Lobo ), Francisco, 1764
Mahamuhandiram, Pacification Pitigal VI 14/3, 7/5, 11/9 resigned and to be with the Puttalam column for 1765

    Apendix V:
    Letters from Outstations to Colombo, 1763-64 ; Archives 4895 – 4903

13/9/1763  4901 Bodenschatz at Chilaw: (Henrik Daniel; OC Chilaw)
Dias is at Marawille with 2 rantjes ( 24 men;  rancu in Singhalese) and some Malays, to pacify the region and keep open the road to Negambo: I have now only Moddianse’s 27 lascoreens. I have not the force to take energetic action in Jagampattoe. Requested that Modliar Louw should return from Gonawile. The Malay Capt has proposed 4 recruits, being children of his soldiers; permission is requested to engage them.

    Apendix VI:
    Letters from Colombo to Outstations, 1763-64 ; Archives 4921 – 4924

14/3/1764  4922 to Bodenschatz at Chilaw: 
The new Modliaar Moddianse and Mahamohandiram Louw left today. The former will recruit 2 randjes ( 24 men; Singhalese rancu ) of lascorins in the Pitigal Corle, the latter will bring 2, of whom one has muskets. Issue each of these last with with 12 cartridges ( that is 24 dozen ) and add 24 Malays if wished for. They will try to get the people to remain faithful to us, for which purpose I send Dias, and Batting Arratje from here with 2 rantjes of chalia (member of the cinnamon peeler caste) Lascoreens.

7/5/1764  4922 to Bodenschatz at Chilaw:
Send Mahamohandiram Lobo ( Louw) and Interpreter Dias with their lascoreens to Gonawiele. Keep the Calpettij (Calpentijn; Kalpitiya) coolies as long as you need them.

11/9/1764  4923 to Bodenschatz at Chilaw:
No reinforcements available, but you may hold the Siphahis provisionally, and when the Malays arrive try and give the enemy ” a painful nip ” after which post Dias and Lobo’s Lascoreens at Madampe with a few Europeans.

Melho, Don Simon de ;
Submitted at Negambo 1762, and from Aratchi to Mudaliyar of Pitigal Korale. 1763 complaints against, arrested : 1764 reappointed, sent to pacify Korale  VI 24/3, 28/3, 29/3, V 1/4, 19/5, VI 21/5, 5/6, V 2/9 : 1765 his coolies VIII 22/1.
Death from smallpox 1810  (21/4/65)

    Apendix VI:
    Letters from Colombo to Outstations, 1763-64 ; Archives 4921 – 4924 

24/3/1764  4922  to Bodenschatz at Chilaw:
I fear the kruys-pantjallang (1) will not be able to take refuge in the river during the bad monsoon; if so send it to Kilkare (in India) and I will send you an armed gamel (2) or similar flat-bottomed vessel roofed with olas. If de Melho needs help from Batting Arratje this is to be given.

24/3/1764  4922  to Kinbergen at Nigombo:
The re-appointed Modliaar de Melho and Mohandiram Perera go to you, to keep the people to our obedience. Advice Chilauw, Tammerawile, Minuangodde and Ballagalle to give them the fisherman and chando lascoreens they may need, and yourself issue them with 12 muskets and some cartridges, also the tom-tom beaters to which they were previously entitled.

(1) The term is Indonesian. Means Kruys (Cruising) Pantjallang (Lookout Vessels). Draws 7 or 8 feet and 64 by 16 feet. ‘Brak’, ‘Concordia’, ‘Toesight’ and ‘Vreese are some vessels.
(2) Flat bottomed square ended boat, similar to the Singhalese Padys used in inland waterways. Average 51 by 14 by 6 feet, poled or sailed.

28/3/1764  4922   to Bodenschatz at Chilaw:
Your idea of setting thonys (3) in the river (V 26/3) to hinder smuggling is not approved, sinse this would be possible only in the good monsoon, and then a sloop could lie before the river mouth ( which would also serve were it necessary to evacuate the post). so that now a watch on the river bank will suffice. ( The river mentioned here is the outlet of the lagoon opposite Chilauw, now silted up, and not the Deduru Oya ). I am sending Modliar de Melho to you. He is a shrewd fellow and you should consult with him how best to use the lascorins sent (now fully 100) to drive off the rebels and hold the people to us. Although there have been complaints against him you can trust him, as he has left his family here.

(3) Tamil word. Used to describe a boat larger than a dug out canoe. Sinhalese Dhony

29/3/1764  4922  to Kinbergen at Nigombo
Today 45 oeliammers (4) leave for you, for the transport to Ballegalle. This will receive each 21 shillings monthly, that is 2 Rxd pay and 5 shillings in lieu of a parra (5) of rice. Send them back as soon as possible, getting local coolies from the new Modliaar (de Mel) in accordance with his verbal promise to me.

(4) Uliyam – Service – Imposed on Moor and Chettys as being foreigners.
(5) 43.6 English Lbs; of Sinhalese Bera; especially paddy.

    Apendix V:
    Letters from Outstations to Colombo, 1763-64 ; Archives 4895 – 4903

1/4/1764  4897  Duflo at Goenevile (in French)
Strenth return; Maurer 48, Gallot 55, Marines 45, Artillery 13, Malays 131, Sipays 92, French Coy 17 (sic) and 32 in hospital or unfit.
Enemy on the paddy-field across the bridge were attacked from the front and rear, suffering heavy losses, ours being 2 killed and 2 wounded. 35 to 45 Europeans go to Nigombo sick tomorrow, as many as the Thonys can hold. Another 60 in hospital here. Modliaer de Mel arrived. He says it will be impossible to remain here during the rains, but I can do nothing without coolies. All my NCOs are sick; permission requested to promote privates. All the Surgeons are sick, and there is no medicine. The armourers are all sick.

19/5/1764 4899  Kinbergen at Nigombo
As regards sending weekly to Goenewille as much dried fish as they can eat on the next day, I see no chance to get so much here, and the fishermen will not take less than 5 or 6 stivers per lb. Maus reports Modliaer d’Melho unhelpful.

2/9/1764  4901 Frankena at Gonawille
Hounold instructed Modeliar de Melho at Congodde to write to the RA (6) saying that he had heard that the king was displeased with him and would call him to Kandij; and that he (Hounold) counselled him to come over to the Coy, assuring him that YE (7) would make him king. The 2 singalese who took the letter to the RA  reported that he had said that he must first consult the Disaves of 3 and 4 Korale, but would write in a few days. Oreders requested whether I am to enter into negotiations with him, and if so what promises I may make in YE’s name.

(6) RA – Rijks-Adigar; Most senior of the Court Dignitaries.
(7) YE – Governor and members of the Council.

    Apendix VI:
    Letters from Colombo to Outstations, 1763-64 ; Archives 4921 – 4924

21/5/1764  4923  To Kimbergen at Nigombo
Inform yourselves as closely as possible regarding the Romish priest (V 19/5) but advise me before taking any action. Since if (as you say) all the people are ‘bitter Romish’, care must be taken lest they think they are persecuted because of their religion. Maus’ complaints annoy me; I have found de Melho trustworthy.

5/6/1764  4923  To Bordenschatz at Chilaw
I hope for peace and quite in your district if you continue to act with good judgment, especially if de Melho succeeds in persuading the chiefs to resubmit.

    Apendix VIII:
    Letters from Van Eck in the field 1765 ; Archives 4942

22/1/1765  4942  From Kattagampelle to Wesel at Wisenawa
Stop cutting down the coconut palms on the height where the camp is to lie, since they are valuble for shade. Your first task is to build shelters for troops and ammunition, for which use the Romish Christians under Pater Mahl, also the coolies of Modeliar de Melho, and if you can persuade them also the Malays.

Tissera, Gerrit; Mudaliyar of Negombo:  1762
see Paulusz. I 22/2, 26/2.

    Apendix I:
    Diary of the 1764 Expedition; Hague Archives 3004 folios 1340 – 1587)

The Modliaer of Nigombo offered 100 or 150 lascorins, following the example of the Chilauw fishermen; HE instructed Kinbergen there to co-operate, but to see  that all had muskets, or at any rate pikes.

Kinbergen wrote that Modeliaer Gerrit Tissera has raised 69 lascorins, a few with muskets and the rst with pikes and broadswords, and left on the 25th.

Anthony de Rowel, Mudaliyar

From information available in the De Fonseka Genealogy Chart (Quoting RAS Journal XVIII of 1903), Anthony de Rowel Maha Vidhan and Mohandiram of Alut Kuru Korale 1765, was also made a Mudaliyar on 21-1-1765 for the services rendered in the Kandyan Expedition. However no mention of this was found in this book, under the name de Rowel. Probably he is referred to by another name in the book.

The extracts below gives some interesting facts from the book which relate to the treaty signed with the rulers of Kandy and the plundering of the Palace of Kandy. 

The Plundering of the Palace of Kandy:   
Correspondence with Batavia(1) and Holland 1765
Archives 4880 8/11/1765 to Batavia  (extract):

We cannot give a list of the Kandia booty, since as already reported the Palace was plundered. Feber and van Angelbeek report (X 10/8) that although van Eck forbade plundering and on his arrival tried to stop it, all was in vain. The booty was mostly linen, fine furniture and curiosities, with some coined and uncoined silver. Van Eck took possession of a large silver-gilt machine (sic) like a bell but closed below and in two pieces of which the upper can be removed, weighing 210 lbs*, which served to contain their holiest Relic, the famous Tooth of Boedoe in a gold and jeweled chest. And van Eck (as the two Members testify) presented this to the troops, to be distributed among them in addition to the 100,000 florins promised. We request YYEE’s (Governor and Members of the Council in Colombo or Batavia) orders, adding that we feel that this promise can hardly now be cancelled, and that it were best fulfilled by melting and sale, and distributing its value in the form of minor articles of equipment. (It was later restored intact, XIX 26/1/67, and is in Kandy today.)

(Hague Archives 3030, folios 363-378) 10/11/1765  to Batavia from Falck:

After investigation I consider that La Baume, in spite of rumours, profited no more from the looting in Kandia than did other officers, and that this matter is now closed.

Certain objects have been taken over from van Eck’s executors and are in the Treasury, including a golden case and golden ola; a metal Boedoe statue, one-third gold and two-thirds copper; a little cannon inlaid with silver; a sort of canopy, wood overlaid with thin gold and silver (the howdah carrying the relics in the Kandy procession today); a bow and arrows and quiver (and four other minor articles) The cannon was promised to Duke Louis of Brunswick. Wolfenbuttel and has been sent by me. The ola and case were bought by van Eck from Cadet van Driesken for its weight in pagodas, not yet paid; and a golden stylus from a soldier for 100 Rxd(2), to be paid in Holland.

(1) Present day Jakarta, Headquarters of the Dutch Command.
(2) Rix Dollars.

The Treaty with the rulers of Kandy
Correspondence with Batavia and Holland 1766 – 1767
Archives 4882 14/2/1766 to Batavia. Copy of Treaty ‘at last concluded’.

TREATY dated Feb. 14.

The preamble cites as the negotiators Doembere Dessave of Matele. Pilime Talauwele Dessave of Saffergam and the 3 Korles, Angamonne Dessave of Oedepallate, Miewattere Secty, and Morgamme Mohanderam. (The two first are the brothers of the better-known ones of those names.)

 The Articles are

  1. unbreakable friendship;
  2. cession by the Kind of all rights and pretensions to lands held by the Coy(3) before the war;
  3. and of all the shores not then occupied by it, to wit on the West from Kaimelle (Maha Oya) to Jaffna district, and on the East from the border of that district to the Waluwe River, to a width of one Singalese mile more or less, as may be most convenient from the position of hills and rivers;
  4. Commissioners to be appointed by both Parties to measure and mark this, not taking into account the broken coast or the islands and the Coy to pay the King what he loses in income from these lands, the amount to be fixed by the Commissioners;
  5. the Coy to recognise the King as Sovereign of the rest of the island;
  6. the Coy for love of peace to restore all the lands recently captured, except the shores;
  7. the King’s subjects to have free access to the salterns, with the right to take as much as they desire:
  8. the Coy to have the right to peel cinnamon in the King’s lowlands as far as Ballane, that is to say in the Dessavony of Saffergam and the 3,4 and 7 Korles;
  9. the King to have peeled and delivered to the Coy the cinnamon of his highlands, and to receive 5 pagodas per bale;
  10. Ivory, Pepper, Cardomoms, Coffee, Areca, to be sold only to the Coy at the following prices quoted, the pagoda being taken as 2 Rxd);
  11. but that of Ivory to be fixed later;
  12. as also those of any other products of the King’s lands which the Coy may later require;
  13. the subjects of both Parties to trade freely in all permitted materials:
  14. both Parties to present smuggling;
  15. the Coy to import anything the King may desire, if obtainable;
  16. such timber to be delivered at Trincomale and Battikaloa as the Coy may need;
  17. all prisoners, deserters, and rebels to be handed back as also the cannon captured at  Hangwelle and elsewhere;
  18. runaway slaves in future to be handed over, the owner to pay 10 Rxd for each slave to whoever captures him:
  19. employees of the Coy committing crimes in the King’s lands to be arrested and handed over to the Coy with proofs and similarly subjects of the King committing crimes in the Coy’s lands;
  20. the Coy to protect the King against attacks from without, and the King to assist in this;
  21. the King and the CDs(4) to carry on no correspondence with Nations other than the Dutch, much less conclude any Treaties, and to hand over to the Coy any foreigners that may slip into the island, also to have no correspondence or Treaties with the Princes of India to the detriment of the Coy;
  22. the Coy to make no Treaty to the detriment of the King;
  23. both Parties to send yearly Ambassadors to maintain mutual friendship, who may also make useful proposals regarding the import of salt and dried fish, and the peeling of cinnamon, and these to be received with such Honours as are proper between friends and allies the ceremonial to be identical on both sides;
  24. should any of the stipulations be broken or omitted, peace and friendship not to be destroyed thereby, but complaint to be made and reparation given within 6 weeks, the offended Party to have the right of recourse to arms

Signed on the parchment copies after ratification, in Dutch by Falck, Fever, Burnat, De Coste, de Lij, van Angelbeek, Schmidt, Moens and Borwater, with the Coy’s seal in red wax, and around it “By order of the Govr and Council, van Angelbeek Secty”, and in Singalese “Srilanka Dieswerre Srikirti Sri Radja Singa” with the King’s seal in read wax in the margin.

(3) Coy – Company Dutch East Indies
(4) CD – Court Dignitaries