Jeronis Pieris and His Times

A de luxe edition of FACETS OF CEYLON HISTORY THROUGH THE LETTERS OF JERONIS PIERIS, by Michael Roberts, has been printed by Bay Owl Press in 2020 to replace the 1976 edn and is available for Rs 6500/ at Turf Equipment Ltd,  17A,  Swarna Road, Colombo 6 as well as Barefoot,  Cargills Book City,  Sarasavi,  Vijitha Yapa,  Gallery Café bookshop, JamFruitTree, Kalaya,  Pendi & Urban Island…. while foreign purchases could be secured via http://www.pererahussein.com.

The main text is the same as in 1976; but the index has been extended and numerous photographs of historical value have been added.

A vintage photo-album kept by Louis Pieris illustrates the social milieu associated with the
Hānnādigē Pieris and Warusahānnādigē De Soysa families



The Bridge of Boats over the Kelani River just beyond Colombo marks the process of rad building that was so vital to capitalist growth and exploitation. It was consturcted in 1822 by Lt. Genl John Schaeffer.

HERE the Thuppahi site presents some of the illustrative photographs that adorn this production — several of them quite rare and providing insights into the difficulties and developments within the expanding capitalist economy of British Ceylon in the coffee and coconut plantation era — 1830s to 1890s.

Pl 60 -entitled “hrd Yards on Rough Tracks” illustrates one avenue of capitalaccumulation pursued by the De Soysa-Pieris combination: namely. Bullock transport …. using bulls imported from teh sindh which were refered to locally as “soysa harak”

The mountains of capital they accumulated enabled these families to apportion portions of the monies towards charitable institutions in their home localities as well the Hanguranketa area …. and, last but not least, in the burgeoning capital city of Colombo where the property holdings of these two families impacted the shape of the new city around Kollupitiya and Cinnamon Gardens, while institutions such as The  Bacteriological Institute, the De Soysa Lying-in-home and the De Soysa Medical Institute are a testimony towards their sense of social responsibility.

Jeronis de Soysa –multimilionairre & philanthropist

Jeronis Pieris attended the Colombo Academy in the 1830s and secured a facility in the English language that is evident in his letters. But, unlike such compatriots as Charles Ambrose Lorenz and James Alexander Dunuwille, he joined the Warusahānnādigē de Soysas in the trading and plantation fields in the highlands and in their home arena inland from Panadura and Moratuwa.

That the photographs of Lorenz, Richard Morgan and Dunuwille adorn the VINTAGE ALBUM along with Revd. Barcroft Boake, his Principal at the Colombo Academy, serve as testimony to the value which Jeronis Pieris and his kin attributed to this foundation. It is well-known that (Sir) Richard Morgan was instrumental in securing a socio-political coup de grace for the De Soysas when the Prince of Wales visited Ceylon in 1870: they were given the privilege of hosting the Prince and his entourage in the only non-official function within th capital city — a decision which would have aroused great chagrin amidst the Obeyesekere-Bandaranaike clans of the Govigama ‘aristrocracy’.

Bacteriological Institute in Colombo
Prince of Wales College in Moratuwa

The Genealogies of the Jeronis Pieris family and the Charles Henry de Soysa family have also been updated and included in this new version of the book.

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