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Ceylon, to the South East of Madras Presidency

"Ceylon, a large island and British colony in the Indian Ocean, separated on the N.W. from India by the Gulf of Manaar and Palk Strait. It lies between 5° 55' and 9° 51' N. and between 79° 41' and 81° 54' E. Its extreme length from north to south is 2 712 m.; its greatest width is 1371 m.; and its area amounts to 25,481 sq. m., or about five-sixths of that of Ireland. In its general outline the island resembles a pear, the apex of which points towards the north."[1] The island is now called Sri Lanka.


The Portuguese arrived in the early 16th century, followed by the Dutch in the 17th Century with the British, as usual, arriving late - 1796 - when the British East India Company established control. In 1802 Ceylon became a British Crown Colony. The island was unified in 1815 (previously there had been three kingdoms) and the island finally gained its independence in 1948.

Military actions

Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps

The Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps was a Volunteer Corps established  in 1861. Initially the movement consisted of the Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers but by the 1900s also had Artillery, Medical, Engineers and Supply and Transport units. 

The CPRC sent a contingent to South Africa in 1902 along with a detachment of the Ceylon Mounted Infantry. In 1910 the force became known as the Ceylon Defence Force.

A Corps of 150 ‘fine young Englishmen’ left Ceylon in 1914, comprised not only of planters but also Government servants, Colombo businessmen and others. They served in Egypt and were then attached to the Wellington infantry Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the ANZAC division at Gallipoli. The high standard of the men led to virtually all of them receiving commissions and they went on to serve in other regiments  which meant this Corps then ceased to exist. [2]


Except for the few short years when the East India Company was in control (1796-1802) records for Ceylon will not be found in the India Office Records at the British Library, but at The National Archives at Kew. For example, the description and succession books of the Ceylon Rifles covering years 1809-1872 are held under reference W025/638-641 (these include officers services) and reference WO23/158 includes the admission books for the Ceylon Rifles and Gun Lascars for the period May 1868-Sept 1876. Personal data may also be held amongst the National Archive's Administrative Records of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Some birth marriage and death information may be obtained by writing to Registrar General's Office, New Secretariat, Maligawatta, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka.

LDS Records

For general details about LDS records, including microfilms, see IGI.

Sri Lanka, Colombo District Dutch Reformed Church Records 1677-1990 are available on the familysearch website. These are not searchable by name but as images that can be browsed [3]

The North Parramatta Family History Centre in Sydney, Australia has the detailed indexes to the Baptisms and Marriages at the Dutch Reformed Church at Wolfendaal, Colombo, up to 1897. These are not LDS microfilms but are spiral bound photocopies made from the journals and indexes at Victor Melder's Sri Lankan Library in Melbourne.

FIBIS Resources

External links

Historical books online


  1. "Ceylon", LoveToKnow 1911 [accessed 21 October 2009]
  2. Great War Forum thread Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (retrieved 15 May 2014)
  3. *Colombo District Dutch Reformed Church Records 1677-1990 Familysearch