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Changing the control of maritime region between Dutch and English

Changing the control of maritime region between Dutch and English

The control of the maritime region of Sri Lanka was peacefully changed in the hands of Dutch and English. There were many and good reasons for the surrender of Dutch. When the council of Dutch East India Company decided in July 1795 to hold out against the English demands, there was some hope of help or instructions from Holland or Batavia or from their French allies; but never a word came from any of them. There was a talk also that Tippu Sultan would cause a division, but it did not take place. There was in the Company’s stores an immense stock of merchandise un-exported and valued at twenty-five lacs of rupees. The company’s credit was at a very low ebb; the servants of the company had not been paid for months; and what was more, their money had been borrowed by the company; the company’s books were in arrears and the administration was faced with bankruptcy. To add to this, the local troops were deserting in large numbers; most of the Indian sepoys had deserted; Muslims and Malays did likewise; the government coffers were absolutely empty; a Kandyan force was hovering about the frontiers, and there was no hope of holding out for more than three days at most. If the city capitulated, there was some chance of obtaining fairs terms, but if it refused, it would have to capitulate at discretion. Thus all things considered the best thing was to capitulate.

Terms of capitulation

The English gave very honourable and advantageous terms. All Dutch officials were permitted to remain as private individuals in the island with a reasonable means of subsistence subject to the approval of the government of Fort St.George. Those who wished to quit the island were allowed to do so with all their effects duty-free. The military was to be prisoners of war and to be conveyed to Madras at the expense of the English. The clergy was to continue in their functions and receive pay as under the Company. The servants of the Company were given eighteen months to bring their books up to date under pay from the English. All pending cases were to decide within twelve months in the existing courts, all notaries documents and wills were to continue to be in force;   and the English government undertook the responsibility for all promissory notes of the Dutch government up to a maximum of £50,000, and would pay three percent interest as long as they held the lands from Chilaw to Matara. Should they be restored to the Dutch, the responsibility would revert to the company.

The city delivered to the English

On these conditions, the Dutch undertook to deliver faithfully Colombo and the entire places dependent thereon such as Kalutara, Galle and Matara, with all the merchandise, stores and public property on land or laden I the ships. These terms were carried out at ten o’clock on 16th and all the settlements of the Dutch East India Company passed into the possession of the English East India Company, without a struggle, without loss of life, without much expense and without let or hindrance from the king of Kandy.

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

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