Catalogue of the Archives of the Dutch Central Government of Coastal Ceylon, 1640-1796

Description of the Subordinate Components

   The Governor in Council.

   Internal Affairs.

Ecclesiastical matters.
The interest which the Dutch took in the propagation of the Dutch Reformed Church is a deliberate feature of their colonial policy. Apart from their desire to live in the same religious atmosphere as that to which they were accustomed at home, there existed a deep appreciation of the healthy discipline inherent in strict Calvinism.
Christianity had been introduced into the Island by the Portuguese. Roman Catholics were found even among the Company's servants, and although the political circumstances of the 17th century occasionally required a purge of the disloyal and provocative Roman Catholic element, persecution as such was not in keeping with the proverbial Dutch spirit of tolerance. Provided that nobody interfered with the now established Calvinistic government, the people of the country (the Buddhists and the Hindus were of course considered to be heathens), the Muslims [1] and the Roman Catholics were all allowed to worship in their own way. They were, however, expected to do this quietly. On the other hand misbehaviour of Europeans in a Buddhist temple, as recorded in the case of some officers of the regiment de Luxembourg in the Kelaniya temple, was severely punished.
The religious outlook at the end of the 17th century differed to the same degree as the personnel of the V.O.C. from that at the end of the 18th century. A man of the calibre of Rijckloff van Goens snr. who wrote the "consideraties" [2] could hardly be compared with the last Dutch governor J.G. van Angelbeek, who wrote a treatise on the propagation of Christianity in Ceylon [3]. An interesting effort in the way of religious propaganda by the V.O.C. in Ceylon has been the establishment of the two seminaries in Colombo and in Jaffna, where intelligent youths could receive an education which enabled them to preach to their countrymen in the vernaculars. When the success of the two establishments proved to be out of all proportion to their cost, the seminary in Jaffna was abolished and that of Colombo depreciated to the level of a glorified secondary school in the second half of the l8th century.
There were primary schools connected with all the churches. They were directly under the care of the "scholarchen" [4], but education was a matter that was closely connected with the church. The few catechisms, printed in Sinhalese, which have survived the ages, and which are found in some private collections in Ceylon, are the most remarkable examples of the earliest printed Sinhalese schoolbooks. The Dutch Reformed Church of Ceylon was linked up with the mother church in Holland. The consistory has a part of its old records preserved in the Wolvendaal church, which is in many respects an interesting collection.
In connection with church matters, it will be further remembered that two capable Dutch pastors, Baldaeus and Valentijn (the former having served as a "predikant" in Jaffna and Galle), have written classical treatises on the history of the Dutch in Ceylon in the 17th century. The Dutch Reformed Church still existing in Ceylon is one of the few remnants of Dutch civilisation in this Island [5].
Documents relating to the controversy between Philippus de Vriest and some other "predikanten", especially Johan Roman and Regnerus Kronenburg.
About the difficulties with "predikant" de Vriest see Valentijn V, p. 416.
Report of a special commission appointed by governor Becker to advise on the management of the Colombo seminary.
1709 February 15.
The commissioners were: G. Doude, A. Swem, Nic. Riemersma and Nicolay a Tota.
Annexes to a secret letter of 1718 March 31 from governor Rumpf to the chief of the Madura coast Johannes Jenner. With a register.
Damaged by corosion.
The letter itself is no longer extant. Like the annexes it seems to have dealt with the closing down of the Roman Catholic churches.
Two treatises on theological subjects without a date.
The first is by an unknown author, and seems to be complete. The second has a note at the beginning showing, that it was composed by Petrus Synjeu and copied by the student I. Philipsz, which later has been deleted. This treatise does not seem to be complete, and is only an incoherent conglomerate of pages.
Documents relating to a dispute between the consistory at Galle and the "predikant" Godefridus Joannes Weyerman. With a register, compiled in Colombo.
Damaged by corosion.
Parts of an instruction for the orphanage (3 pages) and a report on the Colombo seminary (1 page).
Declarations of allegiance by the Roman Catholic priests, in compliance with a council decision of
1774 April 9.
1774 - 1785.
No. 168.
The declarations are in Sinhalese and Tamil, with translations in Dutch.
Impressions regarding the propagation of Christianity in Ceylon by governor van Angelbeelk. Unsigned and undated.
This treatise must have been written between 1764 and 1795. The "Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen" had put up for discussion the question: "What are the best means for improving the progress of the pure doctrines of Christianity among the inhabitants of the colonies"? The three replies received were sent to van Angelbeek with the question: "Is there a means of improving the progress of Christianity among the inhabitants of the country"? This treatise is a reply to this question.