Inventory of the archives of the Dutch government in the divisions of Galle (Matara) and Jaffnapatnam 1640-1796

Fonds Specifications

Biographical History
The papers described in this inventory belonged to two Dutch com- mandementen or jurisdictions, Galle and Jaffna. The Matara dissavany was subordinate to the former and the Wanni district to the latter up to the year 1785; thereafter they were allowed to correspond directly with the Central Government in Colombo. Comparatively few of the Jaffna and Wan- ni papers have survived.
In 1911 all Dutch documents were collected in the office of the Colonial Secretariat in Colombo. Since they were not properly organised and catalogued, Miss M.W. Jurriaanse was invited in 1936 by the British Government to put them in order, but owing to the lack of time she was able to catalogue only the papers of the central government deposited at the Colombo Secretariat. (Catalogue of the Archives of the Central Government of Coastal Ceylon. Colombo, 1943). The Galle and Jaffna papers were described by her, but not catalogued.
These latter records were subsequently inventorized by Mr. Mottau. He adheres to the organization of material set up by Miss Jurriaan- se, starting with the papers of the Commandeur in Council (Jurriaanse: Governor in Council), and continuing with the Departmental officers of the Galle commandement, the Board and Committees, and the Judicial Department. He proceeds in the same way with the Matara dis- savany, which, however, is smaller, with fewer officials and functions. As stated above, most of the Jaffna papers have been lost, and those of the Wanni district are scanty.
The reconstruction of the tombos (registration of land and persons) was an arduous task, for the records were in great disorder. The tombos of the seventeenth century have been reconstructed by mr. J.S. Wigbol- dus of Wageningen, whose work follows in Appendix I. For a survey of the development of the Dutch administration in Ceylon, see the intro- duction to Miss Jurriaanse's inventory, pp 1-20.
Custodial History
In 1880 the Galle records, except the land registration or tombos left in the Galle kachcheri, were brought to the office of the Colonial Secretariat at Colombo, and were transferred to the godowns of the mu- seum two years later. In 1911 all documents from the kachcheris of Gal- le, Jaffna and Colombo, from the museum, and from the Register General's office were moved to a building near the sea quite unsuitable for storing archives. In 1942 and 1943 the archives were taken to the mountains at Nuwara Eliya, safe from Japanese bombardments. Here they were kept until their removal to the Vidyodaya university building at Nugegoda in 1963. In 1968 - 1969 the administrative offices were moved again, but the papers remain at Nugegoda until a new building can be constructed to accommodate them.