The last vestige of colonial rule, the Kandyan Kingdom was annexed to
the British with the signing of the historical Kandyan Convention on
March 2, 1815. This change in the administration of the country brought
vast social cultural and economic changes and changes in the lifestyles
of the people. The people who frequently saw their king and walked with
him in the Senkadagala Esala festival parade now owe allegiance to a
monarch whom they never saw and lived across many an ocean.
The people observed that in course of time the conditions under which
they handed over the country to the British were observed in the breach.
For instance the Clause IV of the treaty which guaranteed the safeguard
of the traditions and conventions when appointing holders to the posts
of Disawe, Korala, Vidane, etc. were not observed. After the annexation
the Kandyan Kingdom was placed under a Board. The British resident was
John de Oyly. He had Simon Sawers, Col. Kelly and James Sutherland to
assist him. First Adigar was Milligoda who was also the Disawa of seven
Korale, second Adigar was Kapuwatte.
He was also the Disawa of Sabaragamuwa. Pilimatalawa was the Disawa
of four Korale, Uva was under Keppetipola who was also known as
Monarawila due to his binna system of Kandyan marriage. Matale was under
Ratwatte, three Korales under Molligoda (junior) Nuwara Kalaviya under
Galagoda, Walapane under Dullewa, Tamankaduwa under Galagama, Udunuwara
under Mampitiya, Yatinuwara under Pilimatalawa, Ulapane under
Kobbekaduwa and Wellassa and Bintenna placed in charge of Millawa. This
was the administrative set up in the Kandyan Kingdom after the
convention. In the meantime the Muslims who were trading in arecanuts
and salt who paid large amounts of taxes, gifts and presents to the
Dissawa were able to persuade the British to get one of their men
appointed as a chief to Uva Wellassa.
The Assistant Resident at Badulla Sylvester Douglas Wilson through
the military commissariat was able to get Nina Markair Kariyappa as Head
Moorman over the Madige of Wellassa while Unambuwe Ekanayake Wahala
Mudiyanse was the Chief of Kotmale, Halpe Chandrasekara Ekanayake
Wijesundara Wahala Mudiyanse was in charge of upper Bulathgama,
Dodantale Kandure Mudiyanse at lower Bulathgama and Tikiri Appuhamy
Mudiyanse was in charge of Minneriya. This appointment over the Madige
of Wellassa was contrary to the accepted convention and the customs and
rituals prevailing at the time and caused agitation unrest and
displeasure among the people of Uva-Wellassa.
The Muslims of Wellassa repudiated the authority of the Disawa and
abstained from paying the customary dues and taxes to the chiefs.
Meanwhile one Duraisamy claiming to be a relation of the deposed king
along with several Buddhist monks arrived in Badulla and the people
rallied round him. But Clause III of the Kandyan Convention
categorically denied and rejected such claims to the Kandyan Kingdom.
Wilbawe an ex-Buddhist monk too joined these people who by now started
to rebel against the British rule. By now the rebellion spread to
Wellassa, Bintenna, Ulapane, Hewaheta, Kotmale and Dumbara.
In October 1817 Douglas Wilson dispatched the newly appointed Naina
Marikkar to investigate into the matter. This move by the British was
akin to sending Naina Marikkar to Digamadulla to inquire into land
disputes in Deegavapi. The people armed with bows and arrows captured
him. After this incident Wilson himself went there with a small gang of
soldiers. He could not face the rebels and on his return to Badulla he
was shot down and his interpreter captured. Wilsonís body could not be
found and this place is to-day known as Wilson plain or Wilsontenna. A
corporal and two privates carrying a dispatch from Fort Macdowell in
Matale too were killed in this melee.
The British government had to bring additional troops from Colombo to
face the situation and were sent to the rebellion districts. Governor
Brownrigg declared martial law in the Kandyan district and set up
eighteen military posts. The rebellion reached its peak and the British
were preparing to evacuate Kandy. Lady Brownrigg was sent to Colombo
accompanied by a large garrison in advance.
Three and four Korale people loyal to Molligoda did not join the
rebels. Additional troops were brought from Madrass and Bengall to
reinforce the British troops and the Sinhalese could not meet this
situation. Madugalla fell out with Keppetipola and set up another group
under him. The crops were burnt and the people faced a famine. The
leaders fell one after another, Ehelepola was court martialled and
beheaded. With the capture of Madugalla and Keppetipola the rebels
either surrendered or captured. The rebellion lasted for nearly one year
and thousand British soldiers died in battle while the Sinhalese who
died were estimated over ten thousand.
All Kandyan chiefs were either beheaded or vanished. Kepperipola who
was sent to Wellassa to settle the insurrection joined the rebels and
was captured and beheaded. His skull was taken to the Phrenological
society of Edinburgh and brought back to Ceylon. The villages in Uva
Wellassa were burnt with livestock and whatever food grains and no human
settlement in the area for over ten years. Those who escaped the carnage
fled to far away places like Dambagalla mariarawe Panama, Lahugala,
Kotiyagala Etimale Udikkapu-ara, Kolonwinna while some others came along
the bank of Kumbukkan Oya and crossed the Walawe river and settled in
areas now coming under deep South. Rambukwella family went to Urubokka,
Seneviratna family settled in Tangalle and the Dissanayakas, Ratnayakas,
Ekanayakas, Illangakoons, Tennakoons, Bandaras, Senaraths settled in
various places in the South after the Rebellion. The lesson we have to
learn is that craze for power, mistrust, suspicion jealousy are some of
the qualities that ruin a nation. It is true even to-day.