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

Description of the Subordinate Components

   The Officers of the Central Government.

   The "Hoofdadministrateur".

Documents received by the "sabandaar" from the Central Government. 1744 - 1796.
"Shabunder" is the Persian word for harbour-master, and it became a title of an officer at native ports all over the Indian seas [1]The Dutch used the corrupted form of the word: "sabandaar".
In Ceylon the post, as in Malacca [2], was held by a European, a Company's officer, who held the rank of an "onderkoopman" only. It seems hardly possible that there would have been only one "sabandaar" for the whole Island. It is much more likely that, besides the Colombo dessavony, every "commandement" had such an officer [3].
The first set of instructions drawn up for the "sabandaar" is dated 4th November 1705, by governor Simons (no. 2453). He was probably the first to issue such orders, as Rijckloff van Goens did not include the "sabandaar" in his "consideraties". The instructions for this Ceylon officer too were presumably taken from the model in Batavia. In a later set of instructions during the time of governor Stein van Gollenesse very few alterations to the original have been made.
The "sabandaar" was a collector of revenue, who was responsible partly directly to the Governor and partly to the "hoofdadministrateur". His position, however, does not seem to be so independent as to justify the inclusion of a separate heading for him in this catalogue. It is true that he received certain documents from the Central Government, but there is nothing beyond this to indicate that he had his own archives. As his office was so closely connected with that of the "hoofdadministrateur", it was considered more appropriate to place the documents among the records of that officer.
The conditions on which the Company's rights were farmed out were decided by the Governor in Council [4]. The decisions made at the secretariat annually were sent to the "sabandaar", who had to act on them and report monthly to the Governor. His activities extended to the trade, both within and around the Island, in which respect he acted as a collector of customs. The trade dealt with two kinds of articles: those of which the Company had the monopoly, i.e., cinnamon, opium [5], elephants' teeth, lead, tin, Japanese copper, Chinese zinc [6], camphor, sandal wood, madder [7], mercury, salt, silk from Bengal; and those in which private trade was allowed, provided duties were paid to the V.O.C. throuh the "sabandaar ". The chief articles in this category being arecanuts and cloth. The method of collecting was a complicated matter, as in the case of cloth where 7½ % duty had to be paid generally, which amount however varied with the place of origin of the article concerned which was regulated by "plakkaten". The cloth had to be brought into warehouses, which every now and again were opened at the request of the importer in the presence of some members of the court of justice; they were then stamped [8], the importer paying the customs duty on the spot to the "sabandaar".
Further, the "sabandaar" was in charge of the passports which the Indian and Ceylon traders could obtain. No foreigner was allowed to enter this Island unless he had a special permit from the Governor. Chetties and Moors could travel and trade all over the Island only if they possessed a pass accordingly [9].
1744 - 1774.
1774 - 1778.
1780 - 1785.
Damaged by damp.
1782 - 1788.
Damaged by damp.
1789 - 1795.
1787 - 1796.
This file contains only extracts from council minutes.