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

Description of the Subordinate Components

Part I    The Commandement of Galle.

C   Boards and Committees

2   The Tombo commisioners, Galle.

b   "Hoofd" and Land tombos of the Galle district
A short history of the tombo registration conducted during the Dutch period of administration in Ceylon in the three provinces of Colombo, Jaffna and Galle appears in Miss Jurriaanse's "Catalogue of the Archives of the Central Government of Coastal Ceylon" under the section dealing with the parallel series of the Colombo records - see pages 242 -247 of the Catalogue.
It is difficult to reconstruct the actual original arrangement of these volumes of Galle tombos. The major bulk of these records were found tied up indiscriminately in a mass of bundles together with loose pages of other files. The task of sorting out of these loose documents and their re-arrangement into their relevant files (which was more or less like the solving of a jig-saw puzzle) involved much time and tedious work.
The earliest efforts of the Dutch in the matter of land registration and tombo compilation appear to have been made in the Galle district in 1663.
The records of this first registration in the seventeenth century are nog longer extant in any substantial form, except those of the years 1693 - 1696. Many of the lastmentioned records, surveying nearly 150 villages and hamlets, have more or less completely been preserved. They consist of reconstituted loose pages and groups of pages which were previously indiscriminately put together and collected into "Bundles of miscellaneous tombos of the Galle district" together with a number of tombo pages of the 18th century. It seemed to be a very difficult task in 1969 for Mr. J.S. Wigboldus (attached to the Agricultural University, Department of Rural History, at Wageningen), who was doing some research on the tombos in the National Archives at Colombo (with aid of the Netherlands Organization for Pure Research), to rearrange these scattered masses of more or less unidentified pages of the 17th century. Owing to the lack of sufficient time and opportunity, he could only make a provisional re-arrangement of the bulk of the old tombo pages. The result was a reconstituted arrangement, completely or incompletely, of many preserved "Hoofd" and Land tombos.
In principle, the old tombos of 1695 - 1696 registered all the inhabitants (grouped into households or nuclear families) in every village and all the landowners from elsewhere (without their family details) with their lands and obligatory services. The three preserved tombos of 1693 do not contain the names of all the members of the households, as will be seen in the subjoined list. The smaller villages are registered on less than one page and the larger ones on several tens of pages. In some cases of incompletely reconstituted villages, the final page in which the sum totals of the inhabitants and the lands are entered is fortunately extant, as the reader of b (1) appendix will see. The "hamlets" without inhabitants are not listed in this catalogue. A number of pages of the more or less reconstituted villages are either lightly or badly damaged or mutilated; a comprehensive classification of the state of the tombos had however to be left over for a more definitive inventory. The Dutch spelling of the village names was not consistent in the several pages of the Dutch text; so the preferred spelling has been reproduced in this catalogue, along with the modern official spelling of the names of the villages, which is indicated in brackets. Lastly, the subjoined list indicates successively the geographic position of the villages, the location of every old tombo in the numbered "Bundles of miscellaneous tombos of the Galle district", its date of registration and the degree of its reconstitiution. The volumes of loose documents containing the later registrations and revisions during the 18th century however, most of which were found greatly damaged by damp and the use of corrosive ink and other destructive agencies, have no been carefully sorted out and re-arranged, repaired, and rebound into volumes, which are numbered in the folowing series in the alphabetical order of the names of the villages registered. Generally, two or three sets of the registration of each village were found among the collection which ranges over a period of over 40 years between 1742 and 1784. These sets are now bound together and shown under a single shelfnumber according to each separate village in the following series. Their contents too have been systematically listed and summarised, and these summaries, which are also arranged in the same alphabetical order of the villages registered, are now available for reference in two manuscript volumes in the Ceylon Government Archives.
The method of recording the registrations in the Galle series varies from that in the Colombo series in that both "Hoofd" and Land entries appear together side by side in one single volume in the case of the former, whereas in the case of the Colombo series the "Hoofd" and Land entries arerecorded in two separate volumes.
There also seems to be a difference in the administrative set up of this branch of the administration in the two districts. In the Colombo district there were three periodical registrations and revisions between the years 1742 and 1771, and special commissioners were appointed forconducting each registration or revision. In the Galle district, however, the Board of tombo commissioners appears to have been a permanent feature of the Administration, and regular revisions of the tombos appear to have been carried out by this Board throughout the various villages of this province as a continuous function of the administration, their work being therefore some what similar in nature to the functions of the Land Settlement Department of the present day.
All these volumes are now in a good state of preservation after their recent re-arrangement and repair. Strangely enough, no such tombo registers compiled on similar lines are extant in respectof the Matara dissavany, which was also under the jurisdiction of the Galle Commandement. The registers maintained in that district are mostly in the nature of garden rolls and lists and lists of inhabitants of the villages under the various korales and pattus.