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Details about  SRI LANKA Ceylon 1818 Uva-Wellassa Uprising governor Brownrigg Havilland Madras

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SRI LANKA Ceylon 1818 Uva-Wellassa Uprising governor Brownrigg Havilland Madras
SRI-LANKA-Ceylon-1818-Uva-Wellassa-Uprising-governor-Brownrigg-Havilland-Madras
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180855946135
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Last updated on  Apr 03, 2012 16:26:50 PDT  View all revisions

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type of postmark

SRI LANKA (CEYLON)UVA-WELLASSA UPRISING - MOLESWORTH, Mrs. M. Wife of Arthur MOLESWORTH ( c. 1771-1843, served during the siege of Colombo in 1796, present at the battle of Mallavelly, commanded the Light Companies of the 2nd Battalion / 3rd Native Regiment in the storming party at Seringatam on May 1799, lieutenant-colonel 1817, commandant 1824, colonel 1829, major-general 1837) to Thomas FIOTT DE HAVILLAND (1775-1866), at this time Major of the Madras Engineers at MADRAS (Chennai).

COLOMBO, November 10th 1818.

6 pp. in-4 (two separate sheets), address page with postmark Giles No.: MADRAS (Miscellaneous) MX1 - known from 26th march 1817 to 17th mai 1819 - VERY SCARCE!!!

 Port 12 FANAMS.

Letter of great historical interest: Arthur MOLESWORTH, commander of the COAST AUXILIARY CORPS (from Madras) sent to CEYLON on campaign in 1818, is fighting to get justice for his MADRAS SEPOYS, which are badly treated, and is in controversy with the Governor, General Sir Robert BROWNRIGG (1759-1833). – The presence of the Madras Troops on the Island is due to the so-called GREAT REBELLION or 1818 UVA-WELLASSA UPRISING or UVA REBELLION, the third KANDYAN WAR with the BRITISH, the first struggle for gaining Independence from the British. At the time the letter was written, in November 1818, the war was won by the British, so Sir Robert could tell Molesworth “…that as everything was now settled in the Interiour, he would be able to dispense with the services of the Madras Troops by the end of this month …”

 VERY SCARCE (postmark, origin and content).


Transcription:

COLUMBO Nov. 10th 1818.

 My dear Major.

After a most tiresome march of one month & a voyage of 5 days I arrived here on the 31th of October & had the pleasure of finding MOLESWORTH well, but he had been very ill indeed previous to my arrival which I really believe was caused by agitation of mind, he has been most unpleasantly situated here, obliged to heat constant war with SIR ROB(ER)T to obtain what was only the right of the poor SEPOYS, his own secretary Mr RODNEY told me (on my mentioning to him how much I found Molesworth attend) that M – was the most unfit person in the world for this settlement, for that Sir Rob(er)t had been so accustomed to be worshipped & yielded to in every point by the settlers here that he could not bear contradiction & on Ms finding fault with rice (which a committee afterwards condemned) he was thought to be mad, & the GOV(ERNOR) was determined to thwart his views in every possible way, in fact M- was determined to have justice for his SEPOYS, & not to give up a single point & Sir R – was determined not to grant anything but what he was forced to do, & thus they have gone on for the last 4 months – Mr Rodney assured me that it was the intention of this gov(ernme)nt to have paid the MADRAS TROOPS in the currency of this ISLAND & that the rice that was laid up for them was worse than what is given to the SLAVES & that in fact they were to be treated as COOLIES & mere drudges whilst the BENGALIES were to be indulged in every respect – And as Molesworth as soon as he perceived this, memorialed the Gov(ernor) here & in fact by his perseverance obtained almost everything which he was determined to ... from them. He has made Sir R- very angry indeed & most anxious to get rid of the MADRAS BRIGADE & he intimated to Molesworth a few days ago that as everything was now settled in the Interiour, he would be able to dispense with the services of the MADRAS TROOPS by the end of this month – So you see I have had a pretty journey just for the pleasure of seeing COLUMBO – but still I am glad I came as Molesworth was so unhappily situated & I think he is more tranquil since I came; according to your kind advice in your letter of the 18th of October I obtained a promise from him that he would not give up his situation, but indeed my dear Major, though our allowances are very handsome & that we certainly can save much more here than we could on the MADRAS COAST yet I assure you I am glad that we are returning – You know Molesworth too well not to be well aware that whatever he has done here was from the strictest principle of justice, I know he is irritable when he thinks he is ill used, but indeed when you hear from himself the variety of causes he has to complain of, I am sure you will approve of his conduct & think he could not conscientiously have acted differently & yet he is constantly made unhappy by the determined dislike & I may almost say persecution of the gov(ernor). He has represented many things to the MADRAS GOV(ernme)nt but they have not taken any notice or given him the least support – except one letter Sir L. H..(?) wrote to him saying he was sure a respectful representation of any grievances of the MADRAS ARMY made to GEN(era)L BROWNRIGG would be immediately attended to (what stuff) when Molesworths letter was to complain of the many remonstrances he had made without one of them being attended to. All this my dear Major you will easily suppose has not made me feel very comfortable since my arrival. I know M-s head and heart & cannot bear to see him unhappy because they are better than his neighbours – for had he come here only to make money, & let his SEPOYS be trampled on & not used for anything but his own comfort & paid a little more court to her Ladyship – he would have been a very fine fellow & have a thousand good traits of which poor fellow they cannot find one now – However he has an inward satisfaction which will pay him by & by & I sincerely hope & trust that tho the Madras Gov(ernme)nt have not openly approved of his conduct, that it was owing to delicacy to the gov(erno)r here & not from disapprobation of him & that when matters come to be probably known that his conduct will be duly appreciated both by his friends & the gov(ernme)nt.

The military secretary informed Molesworth yesterday that The Lockes a large ship that is here was to be taken up to convay part of the 18th to Int.. (?) & that more vessells were daily expected. The 18th  are now on their march down to COLUMBO & it is supposed will embark about the 1st of December. There is no order yet about the 15th Major LIMONDS CORPS & it is thought that he is to be detained for some time as the GEN(era)L only sends the others to save the BRIGADE allowances & to get rid of Molesworth -–but some of M-s friends advice him as he has been appointed to command the MADRAS TROOPS by gov(ernme)nt not to leave the ISLAND while there is a single MADRAS SEPOY on it. I do not know yet how he means to act.

And now my dear Major I must beg your excuse for troubling you with so much of our own affairs, but I know you take an interest in us, you have always shown it - & it is a comfort to me to open my mind to a kind friend – Molesworth is now at NEGAMBO [= NEGOMBO] where the GEN(era)L ordered the Head q(uarte)rs to annoy him, but on a representation which I adviced him to make on my arrival, this is again made the Headquarters & he is gone to bring up all his baggage which was there & to make some arrangements previous to the removal back of the detachment.

We were very much shocked at a letter CAP WATSON received yesterday from the COAST mentioning the death of poor COL STOREY (?), what is to become of his helpless wife & my young friend Miss Roberts, were we on the Coast I should be delighted to have the latter with me & if we return I shall request of her to make our house her home, but situated as we now are, she might be coming to us when we were going to the Coast ourselves – The same letter mentions the deaths of COL SMITH & Matthew STEWART & several young men of our acquaintance in the FIELD, your letter mentions the death of poor Mr GORDON, & the CHOLERA BEING AT MADRAS, when I think of those things & look round me a little, I am shocked at my want of patience in complaining of the few annoyances I may have – How kind providence has been to me, indeed. I must try to have a more patient spirit, but I assure you I suffer more for others than myself. I fear there is no chance of my seeing Miss de SAUMAREZ on this ISLAND, as our departure is to take place so soon. I am glad she is going to TRINCOMALLEE [TRINCOMALEE] as I think change of scene is always pleasant for young people; I have adviced Molesworth to apply on our arrival on the Madras Coast for leave to go to Madreas leaving me & the children at whatever station the BAT(allio)NS are ordered to & I have told him that I think he has a friend at Madras who both for his own sake & mine would give him either a room or .. a tent for few days – Now am I right in having you as this friend, I think both your heads put together will be able to satisfy the gov(ernme)nt on some points which M- will tell you of - & I am sure your friendly advice & conversation will be a cordial to him after his many annoyances here.

When you have not much to do read this long epistle but I almost fear you can hardly command patience to finish it

M- M-

I think you will have time to answer this before our departure. COL & Mrs Moffatt (?) are very well & ... lelam. Make our kindest lelams to your sister & believe me very truly yours

M- Molesworth


  Biographies, notes etc.:


Sepoys in British service

 Initially the British recruited sepoys from the local communities in the Madras and Bombay Presidencies, the emphasis being on recruits having adequate physique and being of sufficient caste. In the Bengal Army however, recuitment was only amongst high caste Brahman and Rajput communities of erstwhile Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Recruitment was done locally by battalions or regiments often from the same community, village and even family. The commanding officer of a battalion became a form of substitute for the village chief or gaon bura. He was the mai-baap or the "father and mother" of the sepoys making up the paltan ("unit"). There were many family and community ties amongst the troops and numerous instances where family members enlisted in the same battalion or regiment. The izzat ("honour") of the unit was represented by the regimental colours; the new sepoy having to swear an oath in front of them on enlistment. These colours were stored in honour in the quarter guard and frequently paraded before the men. They formed a rallying point in battle. The oath of fealty by the sepoy was given to the East India Company and included a pledge of faithfulness to the salt that one has eaten.[2]

 The salary of the sepoys employed by the East India Company, while not substantially greater than that paid by the rulers of Indian states, was usually paid regularly. Advances could be given and family allotments from pay due were permitted when the troops served abroad. There was a commisariat and regular rations were provided. Weapons, clothing and ammunition were provided centrally, in contrast to the soldiers of local kings whose pay was often in arrears. In addition local rulers usually expected their sepoys to arm themselves and to sustain themselves through plunder.[2]

 This combination of factors led to the development of a sense of shared honour and ethos amongst the well drilled and disciplined Indian soldiery who formed the key to the success of European feats of arms in India and abroad.[2]

 Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 the surviving East India Company regiments were merged into a new Indian Army under the direct control of the British Crown. The designation of "sepoy" was retained for Indian soldiers below the rank of lance-naik, except in cavalry and rifle regiments where the equivalent ranks were sowar or "rifleman".


  The Great Rebellion of 1817-1818, also known as the 1818 Uva-Wellassa Uprising,

(after the two places it had started), or simply the Uva Rebellion was the third Kandyan War with the British, in what is now Sri Lanka. It took place in what in know Uva, which was a then a province of the Kingdom of Kandy, against the British colonial government under Governor Robert Brownrigg, which had been controlling the formerly independent Udarata, (Up-Country in Sinhalese). Records state that the Uva Rebellion was the first struggle for gaining Independence from the British.[1]

 Background

 The Sinhalese were greatly affected by the administrative policies of the British and were not used to being ruled by a king who lived far away in another continent. This created unrest among the local people and the aristocratic Chiefs in the Kandyan Kingdom.

 Leadership

 Keppetipola Disawe was sent initially by the British government to stop the uprising but ended up joining the rebellion as its leader and is celebrated for his actions even today in Sri Lanka. He assisted many regional leaders in providing men and material from various regions. The other leaders who supported this independent movement were: Wilbawe (an alias of Duraisamy, a Nayakkar of Royal blood), II Pilima Talauve Adikaram, Kohu Kumbure Rate Rala, Dimbulana Disave, Kivulegedara Mohottala, Madugalle Disave, Butewe Rate Rala, Galagedara Mohottala, Dambawinna Disave and Gode Gedara Adikaram.

 Rebellion

 The rebellion was launched by Keppetipola Disawe. Except for Molligoda and Ekneligoda, many Chiefs joined the rebels. The rebels captured Matale and Kandy before Keppetipola fell ill and was captured and beheaded by the British. His skull was abnormal - as it was wider than usual - and was sent to Britain for testing. It was returned to Sri Lanka after independence, and now rests in the Kandyan Museum. The rebellion failed due to a number of reasons. It was not well planned by the leaders. The areas controlled by some Chieves who helped the British provided easy transport routes for British supplies. Doraisami who was said to have a claim to the sinhalese throne was found not to have any relation.

 Aftermath

 The British confiscated the properties of the people involved in the uprising, they killed all cattle and other animals, burnt homes, property and even the salt in their possession during the repression. Paddy fields in the area of Wellassa were all destroyed. The irrigation systems of the duchies of Uva and Wellassa, hitherto the rice-bowl of Sri Lanka were systematically destroyed.[7]

 The British also massacred the male population above the age of 18 years.[8]

 Legacy

 In the 'Journal of Uva,' Herbert White, a British Government Agent in Badulla after the rebellion minuted:

 "It is a pity that there is no evidence left behind to show the exact situation in Uva in terms of population or agriculture development after the rebellion. The new rulers are unable to come up to any conclusion on the exact situation of Uva before the rebellion as there is no trace of evidence left behind to come to such conclusions. If thousands died in the battle they were all fearless and clever fighters. If one considers the remaining population of 4/5 after the battle to be children, women and the aged, the havoc caused is unlimited. In short the people have lost their lives and all other valuable belongings. It is doubtful whether Uva has at least now recovered from the catastrophe."

Gazette Notification

 During the rebellion a Gazette Notification was issued by Robert Brownrigg to condemn all those who rebelled against British Rule in Sri Lanka. All those who participated in the uprising were condemned as “traitors” and their properties confiscated by the government under the notification. Several governments after the independence of Sri Lanka in the past wanted to revoke this ignominious Gazette Notification, however could not take action in this regard. In 2011, the Gazette Notification issued by Governor Brownrigg was brought to Sri Lanka on the instruction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was submitted to the Parliament and was revoked with the signature of the President. This allowed all those who participated in the uprising to be recognised as National Heroes, and their label as traitors erased. A National Declaration was awarded on their behalf to their descendants on Republic Day of Sri Lanka, 22 May.


 General Sir Robert Brownrigg,

1st Baronet GCB (1759 – 27 April 1833) was a British statesman and soldier.

Brownrigg was commissioned as an ensign in 1775.[1] After service with the 9th Foot, he was appointed Military Secretary to the Duke of York in 1795, and accompanied him to The Helder in Holland in 1799.[1]

In 1803 he was appointed Quartermaster-General to the Forces.[2] In July 1809, he joined the expedition to the Schelt.[1]

He left his post as Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1811, and then, in 1813, he was appointed Governor of Ceylon.[1] In 1815, he conquered the Kingdom of Kandy, in the interior of the island, and annexed it to the British crown.[1] In recognition of his conquest, Brownrigg was created a baronet in 1816.[1] There was a major rebellion in October 1818 but Brownrigg also managed to put this down.[1] He attained the rank of full General in 1819 and left Ceylon the following year.[1] He died near Monmouth in 1833.[1]


Thomas Fiott de Havilland

was the son of Peter de Havilland and Carterette Fiott, 1788-9 he attended Elizabeth College in GUERNSEY, 1791 nominated for a cadetcy in India, 1792 returned to Guernsey and sailed for India in the Ponsbourne (to Madras), 1793 ensign in the Engineers, took part in the SIEGE OF PONDICHERRY, 1794 assistant to Major Trapaud, chief engineer in the Southern Division, 1795 supervised building work at Dindigul, 1796, took part in the expedition to capture COLOMBO, promoted to Lieutenant, 1799 war against MYSORE, attached to Lt. Col. Brown’s detachment, fell dangerously ill with fever, appointed superintendent of the military building at MADRAS, 1800 appointment was rescinded, he was sent to Seringapatem, appointed in December to the expedition which was being sent to dislodge the French from EGYPT, reached Alexandra, surveyed Lake Mareotis, 1802 April-May engaged in constructing wells on the route to SUEZ, left for MALTA in July, came home via Italy and France, 1803 reached Guernsey, engaged to Elizabeth de Sausmarez (Eliza), left England for India on board the Admiral Aplin on 28th august, 1804 Admiral Aplin captured by the French vessel the Psyche east of Ceylon, de Havilland was released on parole and taken to CALCUTTA in a Portuguese ship, arrived at MADRAS 11th april, the commander-in-chief, General Stuart, informed him that his parole debarred him from performing any military duties (until December), 1805 posted first to Bellary, and then to Berar and Candeish, where he undertook survey work, 1806 promoted to captain, in Bombay, sailed then from Bombay to Madras, 1807 appointed as engineer at Seringapatem, where he was stationed the next three years, 1808 Eliza arrived at Madras and they were married, 1809 mutiny in the army, the most serious at Seringapatem on 29th july, de Havilland was among the mutineers, then was arrested and detained at Bangalore, 1810 in England, 1811 first in England, in Guernsey, building houses, 1812 de Havilland was finally restored to his commission in the Madras Engineers, 1814 departure from Portsmouth of Thomas and Eliza for India, arrived at Madras in September, 1815 sent as commanding engineer in the expedition against the MARATHAS in February, appointed superintendent of Tanks in Summer, promoted to Major, 1816 some months at CHITTOOR, built ST. GEORGE’S CATHEDRAL, Madras, to the design of Colonel Caldwell, 1818 death of Eliza, began work on St. Andrew’s Church in Madras, his finest architectural design, 1820 St. Andrew’s Church completed, 1821 appointed acting-chief engineer, in the absence of Caldwell, 1823 returned to Europe, 1824 promoted lieutenant-colonel, 1825 officially retired, 1828 marriage to Harriet Gore, 1829-1830 built Havilland Hall, 1836 elected constable of St. Andrew’s parish, 1842 elected jurat.

In appearance Thomas de Havilland was short and slight. At the age of 20 he was just under 5 feet 6 inches in height, and nine stone in weight. He possessed a strong constitution and great physical and mental energy. He was intelligent and clever.



St. George's Cathedral, Madras / Chennai that de HAVILLAND had accomplished in 1816. (picture for illustration, source: wikipedia)


Postgeschichte histoire postale stampless letters Vorphilatelie


 P.S. For your additionnal information, there exists an interesting biography of Tom Fiott de Havilland's father, with the following title:

(picture for illustration)



On Apr-03-12 at 16:26:50 PDT, seller added the following information:

P.S. I just noticed that I had put in the wrong example of this very scarce type of POSTMARK, the following is the right one (I cannot change the one placed at the beginning as the auction has started):



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