Everyday Lankan History


In many of the life stories on this website, the Dutch Reformed ChurchWhen the Dutch came to Sri Lanka, they brought their church with them. This Protestant institution was known as the ‘Dutch Reformed Church’.

The Dutch empire and its legacies in Sri Lanka

The Landraad: literally translates as ‘land council’ or ‘rural council’, this colonial court dealt with legal conflicts between mostly local litigant parties. Additionally they were responsible for the maintenance of the population and land registers known as the thombos.

Throughout the Asian frontier of the Dutch empire (e.g. current-day Indonesia, Sri Lanka, coastal India), the VOC (Dutch East-India Company) was authorised by the Dutch Republic to autonomously wage wars, handle diplomatic relations and to govern the territories overseas, the latter including jurisdiction and law.

From the Portuguese ‘tombo’, which translates as tome or volume, these land and population registers had pre-colonial roots in the palm-leaf inscribed ‘lēkam miti’ registers. First translated by the Portuguese, by the second half of the eighteenth century under Dutch these centralised registers contained the names of hundreds of thousands of local inhabitants and their property in the form of sowing fields, gardens and plantations.