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Our prime minister's (S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike's) direct male ancestor, of whose connection some members of his family used to take pride (see Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon edited by Arnold Wright, (1907) p. 525) was     Nilaperumal, a Tamil from south India who arrived in Ceylon in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. He was described as a `high priest' of a temple in Ceylon. He was the first Kapurala in his family of the Nawagomuwe dewale, with the fortunes of which the Bandaranayakes were long associated. Kalukapuge was a name which the family used to affect in the past. It is the Sinhalese version of Nilaperumalge, the ge name of the Bandaranayakes.

Don Francisco ( Franciscus?) Dias Wijetunga Bandaranayake, Mudaliyar of the Hewagam korale, who was born about 1720, was a direct descendant in the male line of Nilaperumal. He was one of those who supplanted the `original mudaliyars,'' when the latter `fled to Kandy' in 1760 to join the Sinhalese in the struggle between the Dutch and the Kandyan king. The reward for this defection was the office of mudaliyar of the four pattus.

Francisco first married Dona Maria Perera. They had six sons and four daughters. Their fourth son was  Coenrad Pieter Dias Bandaranayake Snr, Maha Mudaliyar, who was the grandfather of another Maha Mudaliyar of the same name (except for Pieter being spelled Peter), who served under the British. Francisco's fifth son was Daniel  Bandaranayake, Mohandiram of Siyane korale. He was baptised on February 16, 1748 and married on January 13, 1773. He was the father of Don Solomon Dias Bandaranayake, Mudaliyar of Siyane Korale.

Don Solomon married a grand-daughter of Susanna Scharff, who died on June 15, 1781 and was buried in the Dutch (formerly Portuguese) church in the Fort at the site of the present Gordon Gardens, but whose tombstone now lies in the Wolfendhal Dutch Reformed Church, Colombo. The coat of arms of the Scharff family is engraved on this tombstone, the distinguishing mark of which is a `right arm holding a sabre.' This is part of the heraldic arms of the Bandaranayakes. Susanna Scharff was a daughter of a lieutenant, Jan Christoffel Scharff, who served under the Dutch East India Company.

The names of the Scharff family are given in the journal of the Dutch Burgher Union, Volume 8, (p. 6.). J.C. Scharff hailed from Sangerhausen, Upper Saxony, Thuringia, in Germany. He married at Colombo on March 21, 1734, a lady by the name of Elizabeth de Saram. Susanna was baptised at Colombo on December 1743 8, and married, in Colombo on November 4, 1759, the Reverend Henricus Philipsz (1733-1790), a Sinhalese Christian minister of the Dutch Reformed church in Ceylon. An account of this minister appears in De Bruyn's History Of The Reformed Church In The Dutch East Indies, written in Dutch. He died on May 19, 1790. His tombstone now lies in the Wolfendhal Dutch Reformed church, but not beside his wife Susanna 's tombstone, by whom, evidently, it was originally erected at the church in Fort, Colombo.

Rev. H. Philipsz, who had his education in Holland, was a learned and outstanding Christian scholar. He was a son of a Maha Mudaliyar under the Dutch, and a grandson of a schoolmaster of Cotta by the name of D. Philippe. Rev.  Philipsz's brother Abraham Philipsz too was a Maha Mudaliyar under the Dutch. It was Abraham's son Johannes Gottfried Philipsz, one of Chief Justice Sir Alexander Johnston's proteges and interpreters, who was appointed the first Sinhalese member of the first legislative council of Ceylon in 1743. He died on July 1800. I have a long and somewhat obsequious letter written by Johannes  Gottfried Philipsz to Sir Alexander Johnston whom he addresses as `my lord and protector.' I discovered it among the collection of the Johnston papers which I obtained in England in 1954.

It is interesting to note that Philipsz's colleague, A. Coomarasamy, a Tamil interpreter under the British who became the first Tamil member of the same legislative council, was a son of Arumugapillai, an immigrant from south India who came to Gurudavil in the Jaffna peninsula. A. Coomarasamy was the father of Sir Muttu Coomarasamy and of Sellatchi, the mother of the Ponnambalam brothers, Coomarasamy, Ramanathan and Arunachalam.

It has been said that Governor Maitland `feared' the Mudaliyars. But the word `fear' in this context, has apparently been used in a special sense. For the evidence of contemporary records shows that there was no class of people in Ceylon so addicted to fawning, flattering and sycophantising (sic) in its relationship with its masters as that of the  Mudaliyars. It must of course be borne in mind that the times in which they lived were different from ours. There was no middle class. There were the exploiters and the exploited, the foreign masters and their native subjects, the rulers and the oppressed. Into this pattern of political and economic society entered the mudaliyar, using all the craft and cunning, the art and artifice of the adventurer and social climber, with his stock-in-trade of jealousy-ridden hypocritical flattery and sneaky ways. Little wonder then that we find most of the  Mudaliyars `professing Christians,' because no one was qualified to hold office unless he was a Christian. And little wonder too if the authorities saw through this hypocrisy, and `feared' the machinations of the enemy within their gates.

In this connection, in Hugh Cleghron's `minute' or memorandum on the administration of justice and of revenue in Ceylon under the Dutch government (1799) written at a critical period of our history, at the very time when Dutch rule had ended and British rule begun, is worthy of note. Cleghron observed: "If the poverty and indolence of the natives of this country were to be traced to their true cause, these would be found to originate in the insecurity of their little property, which is at the mercy of the moodeliar, (sic). That few or no appeals have been made against his decisions is to me a stronger proof of the dread of his oppression, than of respect for his justice."

Governor North too has left for posterity his observations on the Mudaliyars in his letter to Marquis Wellesley dated October 27, 1798, the original of which is among the Wellesley manuscript in the additional manuscripts section of the British museum in London. Governor North stated, "the  maha moodliar is always resident near the person of the governor. He never sits down in my presence, nor appears before me in shoes, but is in fact the grand vizier of Ceylon. Every order I give him is immediately executed, and whatever takes place on the island is communicated by him to me. The only pecuniary reward which he and the inferior moodliars look to from the government are small `accomodessans.' Their great object is to gain marks of distinction, such as sabres, gold chains, medals, etc., of which they are highly vain and by which the Dutch governors well knew how to secure their attachment." (Journal of the Ceylon branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series, Volume 3 (1953), p. 143 n. 20).

The above is a faithful contemporary description of things as they were. Although these medal-collecting  Mudaliyars went without shoes and bowed times without number before their governors, the Mudaliyars too in turn exacted, without any compunction or human consideration whatsoever, a cringing servility from the inarticulate masses of the people, between whom and the rulers they placed themselves as permanent barriers. Indeed they would seem to have donned jackboots when they went out and trampled on the rights of the dumb masses.

The people were forced to approach these recently exalted brown slave-drivers, using the most self-degrading and abject terms of address. A relic of this barbarism can still be detected in certain households, happily fast disappearing, the members of which delude themselves into believing that they had sprung from a highborn, low-country Sinhalese aristocracy which we now know was neither high-born nor Sinhalese.

Some of these misguided souls still insist on being addressed as "hamu" by their servants. Handsomely are these servants paid for this performance. Unfortunately the nouveaux riche and members of other rival social groups and castes (which the earlier hamus despised) too appear to have entered into this competitive trade of self-laudatory hamu--making, with disastrous results to all contestants. Hence the slow disappearance of the hamu in the present social set-up.

As in other feudal societies, the Ceylonese masses of the time had no rights. Generally they were led, like dumb-driven cattle. When the Madrasi Dubashes made themselves obnoxious during the brief period when the East India Company administered Ceylon from Madras, the displaced local Mudaliyars seized the opportunity to whip up a feeling among the people that, after all, the known devil was better than the unknown.

There were, however, mudaliyars and mudaliyars.. The Philipsze's had a tradition of learning inherited from their humble, nonetheless much esteemed, pedagogic origins, and a consequential understanding of true human values. They were also fortified by genuinely religious Christian convictions, unlike most of their fellows who were bogus Christians who sold their conscience for messes of pottage. With these qualities ingrained in their character, the Philipsze's contributed not a little to raise the tone of the small coterie of courtiers that danced attendance, albeit barefoot, round the gubernatorial throne.

It is this tradition of public service, which was born apparently of the best in east and west and which distinguished the Philipszes, that has enriched the blood and lent lustre to the lineage of our prime minister, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike.

The Reverend Henricus Philipsz and Susanna Scharff were the parents of some eight children, the eldest of whom was also a Christian minister by the name of Reverend Gerardus Philipsz. There is a reference to him in Cordiner's Ceylon, Volume 1 page 88. He married Johanna Adriana, the eleventh child of Petrus van Dort, son of Cornelius van Dort and his wife Johanna Paulus. Some of the sketches done by J.L.K. van Dort were recently published by Lady Hilda Peiris, wife of Sir Paul E. Peiris.

The sixth child of Susanna Scharff and Rev. Henricus Philipsz, Johanna Elizabeth Philipsz, was born in 1772 and married on September 15 1799, Diederich Wilhelm Spittel, the father of Gerardus Adrian Spittel, whose son Frederick George Spittel was the father of our well-known surgeon and author, Richard Lionel Spittel. Diederich Wilhelm Spittel's father, John Lourens Spittel also came, like the Scharffs, from Germany, from Weimar in Saxony.

Another daughter of Susanna Scharff, her third child, being the name of Cornelia Honrica (Henrietta?) married firstly at Colombo on the July 27 1789, Adolf Martin Heyman, an ensign in the Dutch service, a native of Leuwenstein. A silver tobacco box belonging to this lady, with the name `Heyman' inscribed on it, was in the possession of Sir Paul E. Peiris. This lady lost her husband sometime afterward and married secondly Christoffel de Saram, forth Maha Mudaliyar, the holder of a new office then created by the British to exalt their interpreter who worked in the office of the commissioner of revenue. A son of this union was Johannes Henricus de Saram who at the age of fourteen was taken by Governor Maitland to England in 1811 to study for the Christian ministry.

He was described in a letter written by his companion Balthazar de Saram, a member of a different family of Sarams, one attuned by family upbringing to western ways and habits, "having been from his infancy reared up in his own family whose only deviation from the manners, language and costume of the Dutch was his father's native dress." I have seen this correspondence in the original at the public record office in London. Cornelia Henrica (Henrietta) de Saram, nee Philipsz, who died on April 9 1824, is also commemorated by a tombstone at the Dutch Reformed church at Wolfendhal.

Before he left England, the young Christian minister Rev. Johannes Henricus de Saram, married an European lady, Frances Treherne. The marriage was solemnised in London in the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on June 9, 1820.

It was this young man's sister Cornelia, a grand-daughter of Susanna Scharff, who married Don Solomon Dias Bandaranayake, mudaliyar of Siyane korale.

Change of spelling

Don Solomon's branch of the family of Bandaranayakes from now onwards appear to spell its name as Bandaranaike. Don Solomon lived to a ripe old age. It should be recorded here that he was a great servant of the British crown. It was this Solomon Dias Bandaranaike who received a government grant of one hundred and eighty acres of land. He was also the recipient of a medal from Governor Brownrigg with the citation "as a reward for eminent service during the Kandyan rebellion, AD 1818. Don Solomon's photograph appeared in volume two of Tennent's Ceylon. He died on September 15, 1859.

Don Solomon's son, Don Christoffel Henricus Dias Bandaranaike, who was born in 1826, succeeded his father. He married a kingswoman, Anna Florentina Philipsz, daughter of Philipsz Gysbertus Panditaratne and granddaughter of Johannes Gottfried Philipsz, whose family had by then adopted for general use the cognomen Panditaratne. To this couple was born an only son, who later became famous in the service of successive British governors. He has recorded an account of his intimate associations with kings, princes, dukes and governors and men and women distinguished in various orders of chivalry, in his autobiography Remembered Yesterdays. But unfortunately his book does not make us any the wiser about his own family story.

With remarkable extravagance of language he styled himself Sir Don Solomon Dias Abeywickrema Jayatilleke Senewiratna Rajakumaruna Kadukeralu Bandaranaike, knight commander of the most distinguished order of St. Michael and St. George.

To this Christian knight of St. George, a scion of the house of Nilaperumal and a cadet of the families of Phillipsz and Scharff, was born Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, our present prime minister, who has determined for himself a new course in Ceylon history, having divested himself on the habits and habiliments and religion of his own immediate forebears. arrived from South India in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. High priest of a Temple in Ceylon. Was the first Kapurala in his family of the Nawagomuwe Dewale. The family is also known by the Singhalese name of Kalukapuge.

Johanna Louisa Dias Bandaranayake, a direct descendant of Nilaperumal and Scharff, was married to John Martinus Peiris. Of this union was born the well-known historian and author of several books on `Sinhalese Families,' Sir Paul E. Peiris. Sir Paul's grandfather Johan Louis Peiris was the mace-bearer at the supreme court, when it was presided over by the great chief justice, Sir Alexander Johnston. Johan Louis Peiris was the son of Wilhelmus Peiris, who died on August 24, 1816. Wilhelmus Peiris' father was Louis Peiris, a proponent in the Dutch Reformed Church. Louis Peiris had a brother, Dernigellege Pauloe Pieris Samarasinghe. Louis Peiris's father (Manuel?) hailed from  Attidiya near Colombo. He as a member of the  lascarins ( Sinhalese foot-soldiers) under the Dutch, and was the recipient of several  paraveni lands as a reward for his services. He (Manuel) has a brother by the name of Deringellege Joan (John?) Fernando, whose grandson Abraham  Peiris was also a proponent in the Dutch Reformed Church.

Fifty years ago - assassination of SWRD:

The shots that shook the world


It was on the morning of Friday September 25, 1959-50 years ago - that the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, was brutally gunned down at his Rosmead Place residence in Colombo, by a fanatic, saffron-robed Buddhist monk.
In his younger days. Pictures courtesy ANCL

Having resigned my permanent, pensionable and secure job in the Posts and Telecommunications Department after 7 1/2 years of service, in August 1959, I became a "Stringer" reporter for the now defunct "Times of Ceylon" group of newspapers. Earlier, I was freelancing for the "Times", since 1953.

On that fateful Friday morning, I was carrying one-year old Lakshan Amarasinghe, my next door neighbour, to show him the two pups littered by my Alsatian dog. As I was showing him the pups in the back verandah of my Moor Road house at Wellawatte, the telephone rang. Donovan Moldrich, News Editor of the "Times of Ceylon" was on line and he asked me to "Come to office right away as something tragic has happened."
Mr. and Mrs. Bandaranaike

He did not spell out what it was, but I noticed the time was 10.20 a.m. I went next door and left Lakshan and I got dressed up and as I was about to step out of my house, I heard Lakshan's father Alfred Amarasinghe returning home in his car, shouting to my father, (reading the morning "Ceylon Daily News" seated in an easy chair on the front verandah) that "the Prime Minister has been shot and wounded."

When I reached the gate, the phone rang again and I returned to answer it. It was Felix Gunawardena Editor of the "Sunday Times" asking me to proceed direct to the General Hospital, Colombo where the Prime Minister had been brought, after an assassination attempt.

I went direct to the hospital and I saw a truck-load of Police getting off and positioning themselves at various strategic points in the vicinity. I moved around and saw two of my colleagues veteran reporters K. Nadarajah who was also working for the "Indian Express" and M. K. Pillai also correspondent for the "Times of India" there. I also spotted E. C. B. Wijesinghe working for the Reuters news agency there. I reached there at 11.10 a.m. and was with them until 2.30 p.m. when another veteran journalist/colleague Shelton Liyanage (Fernando) also working for the "Statesman" Calcutta, came to relieve me.

At the time I left, the Prime Minister was still in the operating theatre. The Emergency operation was performed by Dr. M. V. P. Peries, Dr. P. R. Anthonis and Dr. Noel Bartholomeusz and lasted a little over five hours.

Earlier, the Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke who was swearing-in the Italian Ambassador Count Paolo di Michelis di Sloughhello, stopped the ceremony and rushed to Rosmead place.
Taking his dog for the Dog Show

Dr. N. M. Perera and Philip Gunawardena who were in the House of Representatives (Parliament) went to the PMs residence on hearing about the shooting. A message had also been sent from Queen's House (Governor General's official residence) to Parliament to continue with its meeting. W. Dahanayake had suggested that Parliament be adjourned but Dr. Perera said that "there was no need to panic."

At the time of the shooting incident, there were many people as usual, waiting to meet the Prime Minister in the verandah of his house. Among them were two saffron-robed men.

After meeting one of them and bowing to him in reverence, Mr. Bandaranaike turned towards the second monk. While bowing, the second monk suddenly pulled out a .45 revolver from under his yellow robes and shot at the PM at pointblank range.

Mr. Bandaranaike turned and ran into the house and in the process, three shots hit him in the hand and abdomen, whilst two hit the glass pane of a nearby door and a flower pot in the verandah.

The people who were waiting to meet the PM, immediately set upon the man in saffron robe and mauled him mercilessly. A Policeman on sentry duty there, also shot at the Buddhist monk and wounded him on the thigh and arrested him. The Governor - General declared a State of Emergency throughout the island at 11 a.m. and the Army, Navy and Air Force units including volunteers were mobilized to suppress any civil commotion.

When I reached office the "Times" which had already put out two editions about the shooting incident, put out its third edition giving more details of that day's assassination attempt.

Around 5 p.m., I left in a taxi with "Sunday Times" feature writer Samson Abeygunawardena to meet Dr. Gamini Corea at his Horton Place, Colombo, residence. The entrances to Rosmead place as well as the adjoining Barnes Place and Horton Place which were guarded by armed Police, were closed to all vehicular traffic. We got off the taxi and walked about 200 yards and met Dr. Corea and collected an article on "Ceylon's Population problem" for the "Sunday Times" National Forum Column.

After that, we proceeded to 5th Lane, Kollupitiya and met Dr. L. O. de Silva at his clinic, where there was a large number of patients.

The doctor was biting into a sandwich which he told us was his late lunch. He said he was in the operating theatre and the surgery "lasted a little over five hours".

He also told us "The first 24 hours after the operation was very crucial."

When I returned to office at about 7.15 p.m., many of my colleagues were also there. I was then directed by Mr. Moldrich to be at the General Hospital the following (Saturday 26th September 1959) day at 6 a.m. When I reached the hospital at 5.40 a.m., my colleagues Nadarajah, Liyanage and Pillai were already there keeping vigil, for any new developments about the PM.

Shortly after that Saturday morning, Shelton came hurriedly down the hospital corridor and signalled me to grab the telephone in the solitary booth in the hospital vicinity, before anyone else gets hold of it. As he approached me he grimaced indicating that it was all finished. Shelton took the receiver from me and phoned through to Moldrich that the PM has passed away.

When I reached the Times news room at 9.25 a.m., the first edition of the Saturday "Times of Ceylon" was already out. The headline read "The Prime Minister is dead."

A few hours after the operation the previous day, the PM had joked with the doctors and nurses around his bedside.

He had asked one of the Nurses "How am I doing?" She replied "You are doing fine, Sir". "Yes I am an old man and have undergone a five hour stomach operation but I still have guts," the PM declared.

The Buddhist monk who carried out the assassination was Talduwe Somarama Thera, an Eye specialist and a visiting lecturer at the College of Indigenous Medicine Borella and also of the Amaravihare, Obeysekere Town.

The official Bulletin on his death stated "The condition of the Prime Minister suddenly took a turn for the worse about 7 a.m. There was a sudden alteration of the action of the heart and his condition deteriorated very rapidly. He passed off peacefully about 8 'O' clock."

Sgd. Dr. P. R. Anthonis, Dr. T. D. H. Perera and Dr. M. J. A. Sandrasagara.

A verdict of homicide was recorded by the City Coroner J. N. C. Tiruchelvam, J. P. U. M. at the inquest. He said "death was due to shock and haemorrhage resulting from multiple injuries to the thoracic and abdominal organs."

The Prime Minister's funeral was held on Wednesday 30th September 1959, where his body was entombed into a vault at his ancestral Horagolla Walauwa.

SWRD BANDARANAIKE - The assassination aspect

Firoze Sameer

Saturday, September 26 2009, marks the 50th death anniversary of Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike, who died at the General Hospital on a Saturday morning at about 07.45-Hrs.


The six shots fired by the Ven. Talduwa Somarama Thera of the College of Ayurvedic Medicine with a .455 Webly Mark VI revolver at the prime minister in his unofficial residence, Tintagel at No. 65 Rosmead Place in Colombo-7, on Fri.-Sep.-25, 1959, about
The clothes he was wearing at the time of his death

09.45Hrs, fatally injured the PM and seriously injured a teacher called Gunaratne in the neck amongst a throng of about forty persons.

It was later established that the murder weapon came from an unlicensed armoury of five firearms, which belonged to Ossie Corea, a tavern renter at Dagonna in the Negombo District, and who was also the personal security officer to the Minister of Finance Stanley de Zoysa, MP.


The deep-seated conspiracy finally blew sky-high, when it was established at the subsequent Supreme Court trial that the 1st and 2nd accused, the Ven. Buddharakkitha thera, High priest of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihare, and HP Jayewardena, conspired to assassinate the prime minister in view of their disappointment, inter alia, in not being able to push through their business ventures with the assistance of the government.

Notable was their failure in May-1958, to secure the bid, at great financial loss to them, for the carriage of rice from Burma (now Myanmar) to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), on behalf of the Food Department, through their new company, the Colombo Shipping Lines Ltd, which had been floated with the expert guidance of Major JR Baptis, a former director of the Government-sponsored Ceylon Shipping Lines Ltd.

Also, the prime minister had not taken seriously the scurrilous pamphlet relating to Buddharakkiktha and Mrs Vimala Wijewardene, his minister of Health.

Ossie & Lionel:

The hatchet man, Somarama, harboured no grudge with the prime minister.

Suspicion fell on Ossie Corea as the enforcer, since he was bald-headed during the time of the assassination.

However, Corea, who was a former temporary Excise inspector, and his

protégé former ASP-CID Lionel (Gompa) Goonetilleke, who lived opposite to Tintagel, appeared as strong prosecution witnesses at the trial.

Police Investigation:

Amongst the crack team of police officers investigating the Bandaranaike murder, were included DIG-CID DCT Pate, SP Rajasooriya, ASP SSIK Iyer, IP Abeywardena, IP AM Seneviratne and IP Tyrell Goonetilleke, who later on rose to the rank of DIG.


The Bandaranaike Assassination trial commenced on 22-Feb.-1961 presided by Justice TS Fernando, QC, CBE, with a seven member jury whose foreman was DWL Lieversz, Snr.

The trial concluded almost three months later on 12-May. To be continued

DN Magazine Page Sat Sep 26 2009