Warden Stone’s School-leaving Endorsement of Young DS Senanayake

Michael Roberts

Chandra Schaffter discovered a short note of commendation provided as a school leaving certificate in 1902 by Warden Stone[i] of S. Thomas College at Mutwal to young DS Senanayake. Apparently, DS had been “irreproachable” in his schooldays and had even been a dormitory prefect. Such a school-leaving certificate[ii] would not have been unique; but it is one of those historical artefacts that is so common that they merge into the wastelands of mundane taken-for-granted facts ………….. and then disappear from sight.



Mudaliyar Senanayake of Botale and his adult children … Pix in Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon  1907 



The Senanayake brothers at ease at home with friends including Amadoris Mendis … with DS standing and FR with pipe








Though young Don Stephen Senanayake played cricket for S. Thomas, few contemporaries would have anticipated the heights of achievement that he carved out for himself in the service of his country many decades later. As the youngest of three brothers, in fact, DS would have been working initially within the shadow of his talented elder brother, FR Senanayake, in the temperance movement, the Ceylon Reform League[iii] of 1917-19 and the Ceylon National Congress in the 1920s.[iv]

FR Senanayake (1882-1926) went on to secure a BA at Downing College in Cambridge University and became a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. These skills meant that FR was in the frontlines of political agitation mounted by the vocal Ceylonese bourgeoisie in opposition to the British Raj.

Colombo was the epicentre of these political manoeuvres. Within the city the Orient Club was the spot which served as a locale for political scheming amidst its services as a popular point for middle-class recreation (billiards, cards, bar, et cetera).


Key members of the Orient Club assemble for a photo that adorns its wall still but has been  presented in Wright’s Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon (1907, p. 903) …. FR Senanayake is seen on the extreme left seated…. James Peris iss eated in the centre; EJ samerawickrame seated in the front row extreme right . 

FR Senanayake’s untimely death from appendicitis on 1st January 1926 during a visit to Buddhagaya opened the paths for DS to become one of Ceylon’s leading political figures. But DS was by no means a nonentity in the 1910s and 1920s before FR passed away. His capacities and background of agricultural expertise were also displayed in the proceedings of the Land Commission set up by the Second Legislative Council in the mid-1920s. It was in the State Council of the 1930s and 1940s that his grounded sagacity had a bearing on the challenges to the British Raj – initially in combination with Baron Jayatilaka and, then in the 1940s, with the support and acumen of OE Goonetilleka and Ivor Jennings at his side.[v]


DS is s een here with Admiral Layton who was the power behind the Governor of the island during the exigencies arising from World War Two.

DS walking with Lord Soulbury (date not known)

DS in leading spot on the podium on Independece Day 4 February 1948

DS as Prime Minister …. and engaging in development work in the dry zone –one of his major interests and fields of achievement


[1] William Arthur Stone was Warden from 1901 to1924.

[ii] My thanks to Johnny de Silva of St. Aloysius and Melbourne for converting the pdf copy to presentable JPEG format.

[iii] Way back in the late 1960s I was fortunate enough to receive the official minutes of the Ceylon Reform League kept by its deceased Secretary, GL Cooray, from Mrs Cooray, who happened to be the mother of a bosom pal, namely, Mark Cooray. These are now in the Dept of National Archives; but a copy provided by the DNA may be reposing in the Roberts Collection in the NLSB.

[iv] For these movements and for the various strands of nationalism, see the general histories presented by CR De Silva and KM de Silva; the History of Ceylon edited by KM de Silva for the University of Ceylon in 1973; the first volume of Documents of the Ceylon National Congress edited by Michael Roberts for the Dept of National Archives in 1977.and the works noted in the Select Bibliography/.

[v] For a start, in surveying these strands begin with Jane Russell 1982 and the general works referred to in fn. 4 above; and thereafter tackle Arthur Ranasinghe 1972.


De Silva, C. R. 1987 Sri Lanka: A History, New Delhi, Vikas Publisung House Pvt Ltd

De Silva, K. M. 1967 “The Formation and Character of the Ceylon National Congress, 1917-19,”in Ceylon Journal of Historical & Social Studies vol X, pp. 70-102.

De Silva, K. M. 1972 “The Ceylon National Congress in Disarray, 1920-1924,” in Ceylon Journal of Historical & Social Studies vol X, ,, pp. 70-102.

Fernando, PTM (Tissa) 1971 “Arrack, Toddy and Ceylonese Nationalism: Some Observations on the Temperance Movement, 1912-21,” Modern Ceylon Studies, vol 2, pp 123-50.

Ranasinha, Sir Arthur 1972 Memories and Musings, Colombo, MD Gunasena & Co.

Roberts, Michael 1977 Collective Identities, Nationalisms and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Colombo, Dept of National Archives, 1979.vol 1,

Russell, Jane 1982 Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution, 1931-1947, Colombo, Tisara Prakasakayo.



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One response to “Warden Stone’s School-leaving Endorsement of Young DS Senanayake

  1. K. K. De Silva

    Ajit Kanagasundaram (2016) refers to the Farmer Committee Report ( 1968 ) which among others, concluded that the Galoya Project was a failure from a purely cost benefit point of view & states that the “Committee started with a low yield of 30 bushels of paddy per acre with modest improvements over time, & that based on the yield by 2016 , the project economics would have been positive. ”

    According to the paddy statistics for 2018/2019 issued by the Dept. of Census & Statistics, the estimated average yield of paddy for the season was 92.07 bushels per net acre. Hambantota District had the highest average yield of 128.43 bushels per net acre.

    Between then & now there has been at least a three fold increase in the paddy yield, & this increase has no doubt been achieved through the use of high yielding varieties, improved techniques, chemical fertiliser, pesticides etc.

    It will be interesting to see what the yield per acre of paddy will be in the current season, without the use of chemical inputs.

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