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

Description of the Subordinate Components

The Secret Committee.
On the 5th of October 1762, at the end of the meeting of the Secret Council, a resolution was passed by which it was agreed that the Governor should give effect to the wish of the Governor-General and the Council at Batavia to form a secret board, composed of those members whom the Governor would consider suitable in order to carry on successfully the war against Kandy, which was developing from 1761. The Batavian Government insisted only on admiral N. Houting, who was on his way from Batavia to Ceylon, being one of its members on his arrival. The letter from Batavia to the Governor ordering the establishment of this Secret Council, better called Secret Committee, has not been preserved in the Ceylon Dutch archives.
The Secret Committee started by having as its members the "hoofdadministrateur" de Ly, "majoor" Bischoff, the secretary Joan Hugonis, and the "gezworen klerk" Muller. Admiral Houting arrived on the 26th of October and was introduced to the Council the very same evening. During the four years of its existence the personnel underwent considerable changes. Although this new board was nothing but a limited Secret Council, to whose functions it succeeded, its powers were so large that it was "trusted with all matters of policy and war [1]" The ordinary Council nevertheless continued to hold its meetings, the members of the Secret Committee being also members of the ordinary Council, and even the Secret Council continued to hold some meetings after the establishment of the Secret Committee.
After the treaty with Kandy of the 14th February 1766 [2], the Secret Committee operated till the 2nd of July. It was apparently dissolved without ceremony. The minutes of the Secret Council start again on the 20th March 1766.
The Secret Committee had its own administration, and seven clerks were employed on it. The tendency to regard this Committee as a war committee of the Secret Council is strengthened by the fact that in the index of 1796 [3], letters of 1760 and 1761 on matters regarding the war between the Dutch and Kandy have been filed as documents belonging to the Secret Committee, i.e. actually before the establishment, of this secret body. As these letters dealt definitely with the subject of the war with Kandy they have been retained as documents belonging to the Secret Committee as in the index of 1796 [4]. It is not proposed to alter the arrangement made by the original administration.
A comprehensive study on the war between the V.O.C. and Kandy, largely founded on the documents in the "Rijksarchief" at The Hague has been published as a thesis by W. Zwier, Het verdrag van 1766 tusschen de O.I. Compagnie en den vorst van Kandi [5].