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Robert Montgomery Martin.

History of the British possessions in the Indian & Atlantic Oceans; comprising Ceylon, Penang, Malacca, Sincapore, the Falkland Islands, St. Helena, Ascension, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Cape Coast Castle, &c., &c. By R. Montgomery Martin online

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Online LibraryRobert Montgomery MartinHistory of the British possessions in the Indian & Atlantic Oceans; comprising Ceylon, Penang, Malacca, Sincapore, the Falkland Islands, St. Helena, Ascension, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Cape Coast Castle, &c., &c. By R. Montgomery Martin → online text (page 1 of 24)
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HISTORY



OF THE



BRITISH POSSESSIONS



IN THE

INDIAN & ATLANTIC OCEANS;

COMPRISING

CEYLON, PENANG, MALACCA, SINCAPORE,

THE FALKLAND ISLANDS, ST. HELENA, ASCENSION, SIERRA

LEONE, THE GAMBIA, CAPE COAST CASTLE, 8ic. &c.

BY

R. MONTGOMERY MARTIN, F.S.S.




SEAL OF CEYLON.



LONDON:
WHITfAKER & Co. AVE MARIA LANE.



MDCCCXXXVII.









GIFT






CONTENTS.



POSSESSIONS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN.



BOOK I.

CEYLON.
CHAPTER I.

Geography — Area — General History, &c. . . . p. I

CHAPTER II.

Physical Aspect, Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, &c. — Chief
Town — Forts, &c. — Geology — Soil, Climate, &c. —
Animal, Vegetable and Mineral Kingdoms — Culti-
vation, Stock, &c. . . . . . . . p. 20

273



VI CONTENTS.



CHAPTER III.

Population White and Coloured — Castes — Religion
— Civilization, &c. p. 55



CHAPTER IV.

Civil Government — India Establishments — Military —
Defence — Finances — Commerce — Shipping — Gene-
ral View of Ceylon p- 87



BOOK II.

PENANG, MALACCA, AND SINCAPORE.

CHAPTER I.

PENANG.

Locality, Area, Physical Aspect, History, Population,
Revenue and Expenditure, Government, Commerce,
Social Condition, and Political and General Advan-
tages, &c p. 123

CHAPTER II.

MALACCA.

Locality, Area, History — Physical Aspect, Climate —
Natural Products, &c. — Population — Government —
Education — Commerce, &c. . . . . .p. 137



CONTENTS. Vll



CHAPTER III.

SINGAPORE (SINGHAPURA.)

Locality, Area, Physical Aspect, History, Population,
Revenue, and Expenditure, Government, Commerce,
Social Condition, and Political and General Advan-
tages, $rc , . . . p. 1 53



VIII CONTENTS.



POSSESSIONS IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN



BOOK III.

THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

CHAITER IV.

Locality — Extent — Climate — Soil — Harbours — Pro-
ductions, and Advantages to Great Britain . p. 171

]]nnK IV.

ST. HELENA AND ASCENSION ISLANDS.

Locality — Area — History — Physical Aspect, Climate,
Geology, and Soil — Vegetation — Population — Pro-
duce — Revenue and Expenditure, Shipping, &:c. . p. 184

ROOK V.

BUrnSH SETTLEMENTS IN WESTERN AFRICA.
INCLl DING SIERRA LEONE, THE GAMIUA. AND
CAPE COAST CASTLE.

CHAPTER I.

Locality — Area— History — Physical Aspect— Rivers
— Geolofry— Climate — Vegetable and Animal King-
doms — Population — Government — Finances — Com-
merce—Social State and Future Prospects, &c. &c. p. 213



CONTEVTS. IX

CHAPTER II.

(reolofiry and Soil — Climate — Disease — Vegetable and

Animal Kingdom. &:c p. 259



CHAPTER III.

Population of Sierra Leone. Gambia. Src. — Varieties

of Races. Character. &rc. . . . . .p. 289

CHAPTER IV.

Governments and Finances of Sierra Leone. Gambia,
&-C. — Commerce. Imports, and Ex^iorts, Shipping,

Sic .p. mo

ROOK VI.

Steam Navigation through the Atlantic and Indian
Oceans — Proposed Plan of Post Office Steam
Packets via Madeira, St. Helena, Cape of Good
Hope, Isle of France, Ceylon. &^c. — Advantages and
Disadvantages of the Red Sea and Cape of Good
Hope Route Balanced — Computation of the Ex-
pense of Twelve Steam Packets, &-c, . . .p. 339

Appendix. Gold Coast p. 353



CEVLON, &€.



BRITISH POSSESSIONS



IN THE



INDIAN OCEAN;



COMPRISING



CEYLON, PENANG, MALACCA, AND SINGAPORE.



1



GS*



CEYLON,

Sfc,



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

GEOGRAPHY — AREA — GENERAL HISTORY, &C.

Ceylon (Selan, Singhala, Lanka, Serendib, or Tap-
rohane), situate between the parallels of ^.^Q. to
9.50. north latitude, and from 80. to 82. east lon-
gitude, is one of the most magnificent islands on
the face of the globe ; in shape it is somewhat
ovate ; the extreme length is about 270 miles from
north to south, with an extreme breath of 145 miles
(an average of 100), a circuit of 750 miles, and a
superficial area of about 24,664 square miles.

General History. — The original Singhalese, or
Ceylonese, are probably descended from a colony of
Singhs, or Rajpoots (to whom, in appearance, even
at the present day, they bear a striking resemblance)
500 years B.C. But the Malabars, it is stated,
several times succeeded in invading the island 200
years b.c. Mr. George Tumour in his erudite epitome
of the history of Ceylon, derived from Pali and

CEYLON, &c. B



CEYLON,

8fc.

BOOK I.

CHAPTER I.

GEOGRAPHY — AREA — GENERAL HISTORY, &C.

Ceylon (Selan, Singhala, Lanka, Serendib, or Tap-
rohane), situate between the parallels of 5.56. to
9.50. north latitude, and from 80. to 82. east lon-
gitude, is one of the most magnificent islands on
the face of the globe ; in shape it is somewhat
ovate; the extreme length is about 270 miles from
north to south, with an extreme breath of 145 miles
(an average of 100), a circuit of 750 miles, and a
superficial area of about 24,664 square miles.

General History. — The original Singhalese, or
Ceylonese, are probably descended from a colony of
Singhs, or Rajpoots (to whom, in appearance, even
at the present day, they bear a striking resemblance)
500 years B.C. But the Malabars, it is stated,
several times succeeded in invading the island 200
years e.g. Mr. George Turnour in his erudite epitome
of the history of Ceylon, derived from Pali and

CEYLON, &c. B



2 CEYLON.

Singhalese records, begins his chronology 543 years
before the birth of our Saviour, and names the first
king, Wejaya, who landed on the island with 700
followers, and founded a government at Tamana-
nowera ; but Mr. Turnour does not state whether
the Pali accounts remark if the island was then
inhabited. At an early era the island seems to have
attracted the attention of the western world ; thus
Dionysius, the geographer, mentions Taprobane (its
ancient and classic name) as famous for its elephants ;
Ovid speaks of it as a place so far distant that it
could be no advantage to have his fame extended
thither; Pliny thought it the commencement of
another continent, and extolled it for the purity of its
gold and the size of its pearls. In the reign of
Claudius, a Roman, who farmed (says the Rev. Mr.
Fellows) the customs in the Red Sea, was driven in
his bark by a gale of wind from the coast of Arabia
to Taprobane, where he received a most favourable
reception, and so extolled the glory of the imperial
city that the sovereign of Taprobane sent to Rome
an embassy of four persons via the Red Sea. We
have existing evidence that, in remote ages, Ceylon
was an extensively peopled and civilized country (it
has now only fifty-eight mouths to the square mile).
Near Mantotte are the ruins of a very large city, con-
structed of brick and mortar, and an immense artificial
tank, or reservoir for water, the basin of which is
sixteen or eighteen miles in extent ; an embankment
about nine miles from the tank is formed of huge
stones, eight feet long, four feet broad, and three
feet thick (these are cemented together by lime), the



GIGANTIC ANCIENT WORKS. 6

length of the dam is 600 feet, the breadth about
sixty, and the height from eight to twelve feet. This
gigantic work is said to have been executed by the
Hindoos, who made Mantotte the capital of a kingdom
which they established over the northern parts of
the island. Of an antiquity, however, more remote
than the foregoing, are various buildings and works
towards the interior, constructed of vast stones,
elegantly cut and dovetailed-like into each other.
No mortar has been used in some of the edifices
which still exist (as if in defiance of the ravaging
hand of time), with visible inscriptions on them,
which no existing human being can understand.
Among the works of this remote age is the Lake of
Kandely, near Trincomalee, which is fifteen miles in
circumference, formed by the artificial junction of
two hiUs, which in one part in particular exhibits a
parapet formed of huge blocks of stone, twelve to
fourteen feet long, and broad and thick in proportion.
This parapet is at the base J 50 feet broad, and at
the summit thirty feet. By means of this wonderful
structure the adjoining high lands are connected.

It is also singular that arches are to be found in
the parapet, and over them conduits, similar to those
used by the Romans in Italy, and termed condottori.

Belonging also to this age is a gigantic pagoda
(forty miles south of Batticaloa), the base of whose
cone is a quarter of a mile in circumference, sur-
rounded by an enclosure one mile in circumference,
consisting of a broad wall of brick and mortal, with
numerous cells in it, and an entering colonnade of
stone pillars ten feet high.

B 2



4 CEYLON.

Mr. Brooke, in tracing the course of the Maha
Villagunga in 1825, came on the ruined tracks of
several verv extensive canals, one of which he esti-
mated to have been from five to fifteen feet deep,
ana from forty to 100 feet wide. The natives told
him that this canal was cut by people whose stature
w^as forty feet high ! The largest recorded bridge
was one in the southern part of the island, stated to
be 280 cubits (630 feet) long ; the next in size was
193 feet long, across the Kaloo-Ganga, on the road
from Adam's Peak to Bentotte. The remains of a
stone bridge exist near the Fort of Kalawo Oya, the
stones of which are from eight to fourteen feet long,
jointed into one another and laid in regular lines,
the upright pillars being grooved into the rocks
below; this bridge was built 1500 years ago, and
Captain Forbes demonstrated that the Singalese, at
that remote period, used the wedge and chisel for
splitting and shaping those huge blocks of stone,
after the manner which has also been introduced
into Britain in the nineteenth century.

It is recorded in ancient manuscripts that, Anora-
jhapoora, the ancient Cingalese capital, was sur-
rounded by a wall sixteen miles square, and indeed a
list of streets of the city is still in existence. To
the north of the ruins of this place, are six pagodas
of immense magnitude, the form being half a sphere
with a spire built on it ; the two largest are each
270 feet high, of solid brick-work, once entirely
covered with chunam (lime polished like marble), the
solid contents of one of the largest is about 456,071
cubic yards, and with the materials of which it is



ANCIENT HISTORY OF CEYLON. 5

composed, a wall of brick might be constructed
twelve feet high, two feet wide, and ninety-seven
miles long- ; the roofs are composed of curiously-
carved rafters of wood, and the expense and labour
emp-oyed in the whole of the structures must have
been immense. In the ancient histories of Trin-
comalee it is stated by Sir Alexander Johnston that
two kings of Solamandelum, Manumethy Candesolam,
and his son Kalocarta Maharasa, reigned over the
greater part of Ceylon, and over the southern pen-
insula of India, about the 512th year of the Cadi Yug,
or 4400 years ago, who constructed the great
buildings and tanks, the remains of which are yet
extant.

But we must leave these remote ages and come to
some later period. In the sixth century Ceylon was
the chief mart for eastern commerce. In the six-
teenth year of the reign of Praakrama Bahoo the
First, (A.D. 1153,) this Singalese monarch sent a
fleet of 500 ships, with an army on board, and pro-
visioned for twelve months, to avenge the insults
offered to the Singalese ambassador and to Singalese
merchants by the King of Cambodiae and Arramana.
This vast fleet was equipped in six months. In the
thirteenth century it was visited by Marco Polo, who
pretty accurately narrated the particulars of the
island, which he described as ' the finest in the world.'
The central situation of Ceylon had led to its port
being frequented by ships from China, India, Arabia,
&c. by which means Galle and Columbo, from their
favourable situation, became intrepots for the general
commerce of the east. When the Portuguese first



6 CEYLON.

visited the island, a.d. 1505, they found it had for a
long period been declining, owing to intestine wars,
and invasions from Malabar and Arabia ; the Cinga-
lese King availed himself of the assistance of the
Portuguese Admiral (Almeida) for the expulsion of
the invaders, promising in return an annual tribute
in cinnamon. In 1518, the Portuguese, under Alva-
renga, began to fortify themselves in Columbo, Galle,
&c., and soon after they obtained complete possession
of the maritime provinces, and drove the King of
Kandy to such extremities, that he w^as glad to re-
tain even possession of the interior provinces.

For a century the Portuguese held their sway,
when in 1 603, the first Dutch fleet arrived at Trin-
comalee and Batticaloa, and offered to assist the King
of Kandy against the Portuguese. In 1632, a strong
Dutch armament, acting in conjunction with the
King of Kandy's forces, commenced a series of con-
tests with the Portuguese, and after a long and san-
guinary struggle, which lasted until 1656-7, the
latter were finally driven from an island, of the sea
coast of which they had been masters for nearly 150
years.

The Cingalese, however, soon found that they had
exchanged masters to no advantage, for from 1656
to 1796, the Dutch were engaged in a series of per-
petual hostilities with their mountain neighbours.
The conduct of the French republican government
to Holland towards the close of the last century, in-
duced the Dutch to acquiesce in our apparent forcible
occupation in 1796 of Columbo, Galle, Trincomalee,
&c., but as regards the Kandians, we were not more



DUTCH AND ENGLISH CONQUESTS. 7

fortunate than our predecessors, for in 1799, soon
after the elevation of a new king to the Kandian
throne, we became involved in hostilities, which led
to our capture of the Kandian capital in 1803.

As this circumstance led eventually to our total
occupation of the island, it may be satisfactory to
give an abridgment of a memorandum on the affairs
of Ceylon, prepared from the official documents in
Calcutta in 1803, and which I have just now (Sept.
1837) among the Marquess Wellesley's papers.

A short time after the return from Madras to Ceylon of Mr.
North, in July, 17^9> there was reason to believe that the
court of Kandy began to entertain suspicions of the intentions
of the British government, in consequence of an embassy
which it had been taught to expect, not having been sent to
that Court. These suspicions were increased by the measures
which were adopted by Mr. North to place the Malay corps on
a respectable footing, and at last assumed so serious an ap-
pearance, as to induce Mr. North to send a confidential native
agent for the purpose of demanding an explanation from the
tirst Adigaar, or minister of the government of Kandy.

In consequence of this communication, the first Adigaar re-
quested Mr. North to grant him an audience at Setaraca, on
the frontiers, as he had something to communicate which was
of the greatest importance to the British government.

Accordingly an interview took place on the 5th of January,
1800, between Mr. North and the first adigaar. Previously
to this interview Mr. North had reason to think, from the in-
formation of the native agent whom he had deputed to Kandy,
that the object of the first adigaar was to establish an English
military force in Kandy, and to pay for it a tribute in Areka-
put, and other productions, to the British government, and
that this military force was to protect his own power, together
with that of his nominal master the King of Kandy, in whose



8 CEYLON.

name it was supposed the first adigaar intended to continue
to govern the kingdom.

At the interview however on the 5th of January, 1800, the
first proposal made by the adigaar to Mr, North was to depose
the reigning king, who had been placed on the throne ^ by the
first adigaar in direct violation of the laws of the kingdom of
Kandy. This proposal was rejected in the most positive man^
ner, as Mr. North very justly did not think himself warranted
to join in a conspiracy against a prince in perfect amity with
the British government, and who had been recognized by Mr.
North as the legitimate sovereign, on the grounds of his being
in possession of the throne on Mr. North's accession to the
government of Ceylon.

But although Mr. North did not think himself justified in
contributing in any degree to the deposition of the King of
Kandy, he was not disposed to insist on that Prince's retaining
any large portion of authority in his dominions, and conceived
that he provided much more effectually for the king's security
and happiness by placing him under the protection of a British
military force, than by leaving him in the hands of a daring
and ambitious minister, or of a faction which had proclaimed
him an illegitimate usurper.

Mr. North, therefore, felt no hesitation to promise the adi-



1 This event took place about the year l^Oil. The account
given by the adigaar was, that the country had formerly been
inhabited by devils, who had been expelled by Seredin. From
this period a regular succession of kings of the Cingalese race
followed for ages. These in return were afterwards expelled by
the accession to the throne of Kandy of the race of Malabar
kings. About the year 17^1, the adigaar's brother, who had
also been adigaar, placed on the throne a prince of Malabar
extraction; and in 1798 the present adigaar, in the midst of
civil discord, succeeded in obtaining the tlu'one for the reigning
prince, although he had no legal pretensions to it, and was, in
fact, illegitimate.



EMBASSY TO THE KING OF KANDY. 9

gaar support * in obtaining all authority short of royalty in the
country, in case he should be able to prevail on the King to
ask for a British subsidiary force, and to put himself and his
country under the British protection.'

Mr. North in this conference informed the first adigaar of
his intention to send General Macdowall as ambassador to the
King of Kandy with valuable presents. General Macdowall
was instructed to negotiate the treaty with the King of Kandy
which was founded on the principles stated in the conference
which took place between tlie first adigaar and Mr. North, on
the 5th of January, 1800, to which the fii'st adigaar had agreed,
and which he had promised to carry into effect. Another im-
portant object of the embassy was to obtain a perfect know-
ledge of the situation of the court of Kandy, which was essen-
tial to the improvement of our general interests, as well as to
prevent the dangers which it was apprehended would attend
the implicit observance, on the part of Mr. North, of the direc-
tions of the first adigaar, whose intentions, Mr. North ' knew
to be atrocious, and such as he could never abet.'

General Macdowall arrived on the frontier of Kandy on the
20th of March, 1800, where, according to appointment, he met
the first adigaar, accompanied by two otficers of inferior rank,
and by a great number of followers.

On the 8th of April, General Macdowall arrived at Gunarora,
and on the 9th had his first audience of the King of Kandy.
He was received with every demonstration of respect and
kindness, and soon after his audience entered on the subject
of his mission.

The treaty proposed by General Macdowall, embraced the
following objects.

1. The preservation of the reigning king.

2. The permanent establishment of a British force in the
Kandian territories.

3. The obtaining some commercial advantages.

4. The prevention of immediate bloodshed and future civil
war, by the delivery of the chiefs of the persecuted party into
the hands of the British government.

5. The procuring the administration of the revenues of the



10 CEYLON.

country, or at least such powers, as might prevent the con-
thiuance of the wretched system which had hitherto prevailed,
to the detriment of its natural resources.

The treaty, however, was rejected by the ministers of the
court of Kandy, who proposed a counter project nearly similar
to one which had been formerly offered to the government of
Madras. The general refused to enter on the discussion of
this counter project, and demanded his audience of leave. The
ministers then consented to the proposed treaty, with the ex-
ception of the article which provided for the establishment of
a considerable body of troops near the town of Kandy. They
wished to reduce this number to 400, but as such a modifica-
tion was little calculated to afford security to the British terri-
tories, Major-General Macdowall declined the proposal and
quitted the town of Kandy.

The ministers also rejected three modified proposals from
Mr. North, and the negociation here terminated.

The motives which induced Mr. North to declare war
against the King of Kandy are explained in a declaration pub-
lished at Colombo on the 29th January, 1803 ; it will there-
fore be sufficient to observe, that a force was assembled at
Colombo amovuiting to I7OO men, under the command of Ma-
jor-General Macdowall, and another detachment at Trinco-
malee, amounting to 1200 men, under the orders of Lieute-
nant-Colonel Barbut. In his letter to Lord Clive of the 30th
January, 1803, Mr. North specifically states * that he should not
have occasion to trouble Lord Clive for troops, unless he
should be obliged to make a second campaign, which consider-
ing the force assembled, the moderation of Mr. North's views,
and the disposition of the principal head men, and the people
in general on the Kandian territories, who were desirous of
co-operating with the British troops, or at least of not acting
against them, was not (Mr. North trusted) probable.'

On the 28th of January, 1803, Mr. North addressed a letter
to the King of Kandy, submitting to his Majesty the declara-
tion of the causes and objects of the entrance of his troops into
the territories of his Majesty, together with the articles of a
pacific convention proposed to be concluded between his Ma-



PROPOSED CONVENTION WITH THE KING OF KANDY. 1 1

jesty and the nobles of the court of Kandy, on the one part,
and the government of Ceylon on the other.

This convention stipulated for a compensation for the loss
sustained by the merchants of Putelam, as well as for the ex-
penses incurred on account of the military preparations, for
the security of the payment of which the King of Kandy was
immediately to cede to his Britannic Majesty the province of
the Seven Corles. By the convention it was also proposed that
the King of Kandy should recognise the sovereignty of his
Britannic Majesty over all the territories lately occupied by the
Dutch in the island of Ceylon, and ceded by them in conformity
to the stipulations of the peace of Amiens to his Britannic
Majesty ; that the government of Ceylon should be permitted
to form a road across the territories of Kandy between Colombo
and Trincomalee ; that British troops, with their guns and ar-
tillery, should be allowed to pass along this road without mo-
lestation, and that the government of Ceylon should be allowed
to establish resting-places and post-houses along the proposed
road ; that the King of Kandy should permit, (for the benefit
of both countries,) a communication by water, if practicable, to
be made across the island, under the direction of the British
government, and allow such measures to be taken as might
render the rivers more navigable for the advantage of both
parties ; that the King of Kandy should also engage for him-
self, heirs, and successors not to enter into any negociation
with any foreign power without the concurrence of the Gover-
nor of Ceylon ; and that his Britannic Majesty, through the
Governor of Ceylon, recognized the King of Kandy, his heirs,
and successors, and engaged to furnish a quota of troops when-
ever the King of Kandy might require them, on his paying for
their maintenance while employed in his service. The remain-
der of the convention related to points of internal economy,
and do not require to be stated in this narrative.

The King having refused to accede to the terms offered to his
acceptance in Mr. North's letter of the 28th of .January, hosti-
lities commenced on the 19th of February, by the attack and
capture by Colonel Hogan, of the fifty-first regiment, of two
strong posts called Galle Gederah and Geriagamrae. On the



12 CEYLOX.

same day, Colonel Barbut, of his Majesty's seventy-third regi-
ment, advanced with a detachment towards the great Candian
river, the banks of which, together with the village of Walla-
poola and the neighbouring hills, were occupied by the enemy
in force. A few shots from two mortars and one six-pounder



Online LibraryRobert Montgomery MartinHistory of the British possessions in the Indian & Atlantic Oceans; comprising Ceylon, Penang, Malacca, Sincapore, the Falkland Islands, St. Helena, Ascension, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Cape Coast Castle, &c., &c. By R. Montgomery Martin → online text (page 1 of 24)