Ceylonese Mudaliyars

Mudali (or Mudaliyar) was a colonial title and office in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The Portuguese colonials created the Mudaliyar class in the 17th century by enlisting natives of different castes from the coastal areas.

The Dutch continued the practice of the Portuguese. This class used the Mudali as a hereditary title, however the British re-established a Mudaliyar class, with appointments that had the title of Mudali, this process was stopped in the 1930s when the Native Department of the British government of Ceylon was closed down.

All Official and Titular appointments of Mudaliyars were made by the Governor of Ceylon. Appointments were non-transferable and usually hereditary, made to locals from wealthy influential families loyal to the British Crown.

At present the post of Court Mudliar remain in function in Sri Lankan Courts.

Mudaliyar is a Tamil title, derived from the word mudhal, meaning "first", and the honorific suffix yar, meaning "The first" as in the person of the first rank. The position was created in the 17th century by the Portuguese to function as a link between the colonial administration and the local populace, as they had done in South India. Incumbents received payment in form of land grants and use of tenured service (Rajakariya) of the local population which they extracted for their own estates.

A De Saram family of Dutch and Malay ancestry had Sinhalised itself in the late 18th century by posing as the representatives of the masses and subsequently convincing the British rulers that they were from the numerous Govigama caste. This was a strategic move as it gave the British masters the impression that the De Saram family had the backing of a large body of natives. It was also the easiest route to Sinhalisation as the peasant community was widely dispersed, still unstructured and without inter-community networks or leaders.

This page was last edited on 19 May 2018, at 03:32.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_Mudaliyar under CC BY-SA license.

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