discusses early happenings
events in May
An English newspaper
On May 3, 1837, the 'Ceylon Chronicle' newspaper was first published.
The publication of newspapers independent of Government began after
the arrival of Sir Robert Wilmot Horton as Governor in October 1831.
Within three months of his arrival, the 'Colombo Journal' was started
under the auspices of the Government. It was edited by George Lee,
the Superintendent of the Government Press where it was printed.
February 4, 1834, a group of European merchants in Colombo started
'The Observer and Commercial Advertiser' which attacked Governor
Horton's government. It was to defend the administration that the
'Ceylon Chronicle' was started privately aided by the Governor and
conducted by "a Committee of Gentlemen". The newspaper
was edited by Rev. Samuel Owen Glenie, the Colonial Chaplain of
St Paul's, later Archdeacon of Colombo. He retired after the Bishop
objected to him being associated with the newspaper and he was succeeded
by George Lee who was by then Postmaster-General, as editor. The
newspaper did not last very long and folded up on September 3, 1838.
press used by the 'Chronicle' was bought up by one Mackenzie Ross
who started the 'Ceylon Herald' four days after the 'Chronicle'
ceased publication. This paper also opposed the Government until
in 1842 it was bought up by James Laing, the Deputy Postmaster in
Kandy who supported the Government. By and large the press took
the cause of the British planters and merchants and helped this
class to press their claims on the Government.
the early English newspapers did not last very long, the 'Observer'
survived and remains the oldest English newspaper in the country.
It is interesting to learn how the paper introduced itself to the
public on February 4, 1834. "The first number is furnished
gratis, inviting those who are inclined to favour a free Press to
become subscribers… at 12 shillings a quarter. We appear before
a public, fully aware of the difficulties we have to encounter,
and from whom we hope for every indulgence, encouragement and support…
in the trade union movement
Trade unionist, politician and diplomat Alexander Ekanayake ( A
E ) Goonesinghe was born on May 1, 1891 in Kandy and after having
his early education ay Dharmaraja College, Kandy, moved over to
St. Joseph's College, Colombo. Generally regarded as the father
of the country's trade union movement, he was the founder secretary
of the Young Lanka League. He organized a public meeting of the
League in 1915 to record its protest at the completion of 100 years
1918, he conducted a resistance movement against the levy of the
poll tax and was forced to break metal for the construction and
repair of roads for refusing to pay the tax. While breaking metal
he saw at first hand the bitter plight of the workers and formed
the Ceylon Labour Union in 1922. In the same year, the poll tax
championed the cause of the workers for the next 30 years.
He entered politics as a member of the Colombo Municipal Council
of which he became Mayor in 1940. He was a member of the State Council
and was elected MP for Colombo Cenrtal in the House of Representatives
in 1947. He became Minister without Portfolio in the D. S. Senanayake
Cabinet. A keen Buddhist activist, he later served as Ambassador
in Indonesia and Burma. He died on, August 1, 1967.
On May 7, 1864 Utuwankande Sardiel who was arrested on March 22,
1864 was hanged. He was only 29 years of age at the time. Though
he was arrested a couple of times, he managed to escape. He was
first captured in 1862 by Abdul Cader by the brother-in-law of Baba
Sara, the village constable of Utuwankanda. As he was being taken
to Colombo in a bullock-cart, in the company of Haramanis, his step-father,
he escaped into the jungle and Baba Sara was dismissed from the
post of constable.
he was at Utuwankanda, several attacks were made on the rock but
he could not be captured. It is said that a force of 3000 men were
used to capture him. He and a friend were found in a house at Mawanella
playing cards when they were arrested. That was the end of the daring
life of Sri Lanka's Robin Hood.