Hugh Karunanayake

SOME ASPECTS OF SLAVERY IN POST MEDIEVAL CEYLON AND THE ROLE OF SIR ALEXANDER JOHNSTON IN ITS ABOLITION – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE Although slavery in Ceylon flourished during the occupation of the maritime provinces by the Portuguese and Dutch,it seemed that slavery existed as an acceptable practice, even during pre    colonial days, and that, despite the practice going against the core principles of the country’s main religion, Buddhism. It was of course a global phenomenon in an age where “might was right” and no one to espouse the cause of the underprivileged and those in need. It could be stated with some certainty that slavery thrived before the advent of mercantilism. In other words , investment in human capital was a sine qua non in an era where commercialism was yet to raise its head. Even in mediaval Europe, people with means owned slaves, traded in slaves, and even enslaved  ...

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A BRITISH COLONIAL IN CEYLON THE LIFE OF GARRY SHATTOCK. – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE Edgar Charles Evan Shattock  known to family and friends as Garry, was born to a family long associated with Ceylon “s Mercantile Sector.  Lee Hedges and Co founded in 1857 by WD Lee and JR Hedges was a plantation management company By 1880 the brother of the founding partner GAM Hedges became the sold partner. In 1896 Ernest Mark Shattock was taken as a partner of the firm.and by 1911 he was the sole partner having acquired the interests of his co-partner A.A. Hankey. Ernest Mark Shattock   married  Mabel, the daughter of Evan Byrde of the Ceylon Civil Service, a man reputed for his proficiency in the Sinhalese language.  Mabel and Ernest lived in Colombo where through 15 years the couple had six children of whom Garry was the youngest. The children were educated partly in ...

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THE DEMISE OF THE MANAGING AGENT – IS IT A PARADIGM SHIFT ? – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE The commercial sector in Sri Lanka, long regarded as the engine that pushed economic growth in the island, was almost up to the end of the last century dominated by agency houses, a relic of colonial days. When the country then known as Ceylon was flourishing within a global economy dominated by US and British interests up to the middle of the twentieth century,  its plantation driven economy was managed largely by agency houses. Companies like George Steuarts, Carson Cumberbatch, Whittall s, Gordon Frazer, Bosanquet and Skrine( subsequently merged with Whittals), Hayleys,Mackwoods, Leechmans, and others  were managing agents acting on behalf of plantation companies or proprietary planters  in managing and operating   estates. Income from the plantation sector dominated the national budget. With the granting of independence to the erstwhile colony, and the gradual ...

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“OLD HENRY POLE WHO GOT THE WORK IN THE MATARA COURTS IN A MESS ‘ – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE The words above were expressed by Mr Edward Elliott  Government Agent of the Southern Province in 1860. Henry Pole was  in the Ceylon Civil Service for 26 years.It was an age where Civil Servants (mainly British)were appointed to Judicial positions. He was Police Magistrate Mulaitivu in  1845, then at Galle for a couple of years each in different judicial capacities then as District Judge Matara, and finally District Judge Batticaloa from where he retired in 1971. Henry Pole who served in the Ceylon Civil Service from 1845 to 1871, married the 18 year old daughter of Joseph Price also of the Ceylon Civil Service on 2 February 1853. Pole was himself in his fifties when he married his eighteen year old bride. Henry Pole was Police Magistrate Mulaitivu when he married. ...

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THE CONVERTIBLE CRAZE OF THE 1950s-by HUGH KARUNANAYAKE CADILLAC ELDORADO CONVERTIBLE 1953 Source:Island Image Source:Island The Korean boom of 1950/51 which created record disposable incomes within the country, elevated standards of living among those who already enjoyed a reasonably comfortable life, but sadly did not have the “trickle down” effect which most Keynesian economists of the day desired. As we all know, the much vaunted “welfare state” of Ceylon soon began to creak under the weight of welfare costs, and by mid 1953 the government took away one of the keystones of its welfare arch, by withdrawing the subsidized rice rations made available in better times. The Hartal organised by the LSSP on August 12. 1953 led to police action resulting in nine deaths. It was to be the first significant anti government protest since independence was granted in 1948. ...

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THE PRINCE OF WALES ‘ SLAUGHTER DRIVEN VISIT TO CEYLON IN 1870 – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE Queen Victoria’ s eldest son the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales made a much publicised visit to Ceylon in 1870. John Capper then Editor of the Times of Ceylon, even authored a book titled “ The Duke of Edinburgh in Ceylon, a book of elephant and elk hunting”to cover the visit. . The Duke was 29 years of age and reputed to be have had a great expertise in foreign affairs. His visit to Ceylon was part of a tour which included India. The tour took place in an age when the hunting of wild animals including birds was considered a” Gentleman’s sport” The Duke undoubtedly lived up to the expected standards  of the day. He arrived in Colombo in the ship “Serapis” to a ceremonial welcome led by the Governor WH ...

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THE PROPRIETARY PLANTER -AN EXTINCT-by Hugh Karunanayake Source:Island The colonial history of Sri Lanka is characterised by the partial control of the country by the Portuguese and the Dutch, and complete control by the British. In the broader context of the colonisation of the South of the globe by the North, Sri Lanka together with British India were “transient” colonies as compared to the “settler” colonies of Africa, Australia, and the Americas. While the Portuguese and the Dutch were interested in the cinnamon that grew naturally in the island, they did not have access or control of the mid or high country of the island which were controlled and came under the suzerainty of the Sinhalese kings. Furthermore, the vast expanse of the country’s hinterland excepting the ‘dry zone’ was under thick forest cover. No attempt was made by either the Portuguese or the Dutch to engage in systematic cultivation ...

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THE CONVERTIBLE CRAZE OF THE 1950s – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE The Korean boom of 1950/51 which created record disposable incomes within the country, ,elevated standards of living among those who already enjoyed a reasonably comfortable life, but sadly did not  have the “trickle down” effect which most Keynesian economists of the day desired. As we all know; the much vaunted “welfare state’ of Ceylon soon began to creak under the weight of welfare costs, and by mid 1953 the government took away one of the keystones of its welfare arch, by withdrawing the free rice rations made available in better times. The Hartal organised by the LSSP on 12 August 1953 led to police action resulting in 9 deaths. It was to be the first significant anti government protest since independence was granted in 1948. The early nineteen fifties was an era yet to be influenced by overseas air travel. ...

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OBITUARY – PROF RAJA C BANDARANAYAKE – (4 April 1935 – 18 Jan 2024 – By   Hugh Karunanayake PROF RAJA BANDARANAYAKE Three months ago, I received an email from Dr Raja Bandaranayake, stating that he was just diagnosed with MND or motor neurone disease. That was shocking news to me, but typified his honesty and open attitude to life.,  Professor Raja Bandaranayake the internationally renowned medical educator passed away on  18 January just a few months short of his 89 th birthday. Born in Kandy, Raja had most of his secondary education at St Thomas College, Mount Lavinia, from where he entered the Faculty of Medicine in Colombo. On passing his medical degree, he was appointed demonstrator at the Colombo University followed by a spell of about five years as lecturer in the University of Ceylon in Peradeniya. He migrated to Australia in the early 1960s and worked in medical ...

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LIONEL WENDT, COUNT DE MAUNY, DAVID PAYNTER, AND RAMAN – By HUGH KARUNANAYAKE The self styled “Count”. De Mauny  was born as Maurice Marie Talavande on 21 March  1886.  The circumstances under which he left for Ceylon were controversial, some writers suggesting that he was compelled to leave France  for misbehaviour with young men in his charge. None of there rumours have ever been established, and to this day remain as rumours. According to William Warren author of the book ”Tropical Asian Style”, de Mauny  was first invited to Ceylon in 1912 by SIr Thomas Lipton the tea magnate. He followed that up with several subsequent  visits concluding with his purchase of an island off the coast of Weligama, which was only a rocky outcrop one and a half acres in extent and overrun with weeds. He paid Rs 250 for the island, and soon settled down to design, construct, ...

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