A “Fernandopulle” from Sri Lanka brightens Aussie Headlines

Frontpage Headline in THE AUSTRALIAN, 17 July 2023 = “Students take housing shortage to next level”

“Internaional students Isi Larraguibel, Rowen Fernandopulle, Jaden Amba and Rois Maullers in Brisbane on Sunday”


…. visit … https://www.theaustralian.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=TAWEB_WRE …. AND TRY TO  negotiate their money-seeking hoops if you wish to read the whole article


The surname “Fernandopulle” indicates that this young university student is a Sri Lankan from the “Colombo Chetty” community. In my possiblt fallible experience such surnames as Candappa, Suvisundaram, De Votta and Alles usually indicated such familial backgrounds. This community was domiciled along the southwestern seaboard from Portuguese to Dutch to British times. Many belonged to the Catholic faith. Intermarriages resulted in such surnames as Abeysundera, Alles and Rodrigo being identified as “Colombo Chetty” – albeit only in some instances.

The Colombo Chetties of British and post-independent Sri Lanka were prominent in business and trade; and sometimes also in the prestigious professions (medical, legal).  The Wikipedia Note says that “As an elite, prosperous and a noble group, they no longer strictly marry amongst themselves. In addition, migration to AustraliaEnglandUnited States of America and Canada has tended to dilute their numbers.” They numbered only 6.075 in the Census of 2011.

SEE https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_Chetties …..

A NOTE, 20 July 2023

As always helpful, my Aloysian buddy KK De Silva in metropolitan Colombo has sent  these useful references for readers to pursue in search of data on the Colombo Chetties [and thus their disticntion from the Nattukotiay Chetties)

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Filed under accountability, Australian culture, australian media, centre-periphery relations, Colombo and Its Spaces, communal relations, cultural transmission, demography, Dutch colonialism, economic processes, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, life stories, performance, politIcal discourse, population, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

3 responses to “A “Fernandopulle” from Sri Lanka brightens Aussie Headlines

  1. Enoka Corea

    The photograph is likely to be a Natukottai Chettiar. Not a Colombo Chetty

    • For the benefit of READERS please clarify the distinction between the two communities and also provide EXAMPLES of typical C’bo Chetty surnames and typical Natukottai surnames.

  2. Sachi Sri Kantha

    Michael, for whatever it’s worth, I provide following two references from H.A.I. Goonetileke’s ‘A Bibliography of Ceylon’, vol.3, 1976.

    item no. 2433. Aserappa, Antony F. A short history of the Ceylon Chetty community and various facts of general interest, Colombo, Catholic Press, 1930, pt 1, 96 pp.

    Item no. 3666. Weerasooriya, Wickrama Sena. The Nattukottai Chettiar merchant bankers in Ceylon, Colombo, Tisara Prakasakayo, 1973, 170 pp., 10 pl.

    Goonetileke had provided the following annotation for the Weerasooriya’s book as follows:
    ‘A comprehensive study of the intrusion of the South Indian Nattukottai Chettiars into the economic life of Ceylon from 1796, and the dominant role they played as private bankers, moneylenders, financiers and traders, not to mention their place in the social and economic history of modern Ceylon.’

    For curiosity, I also had a quick glance of Sir Emerson Tennent’s encyclopediic work ‘Ceylon’ (2 volumes) published in 1859. But he hardly mentions anything about Chetty community in the island!

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