Make your own free website on

A Description of Ceylon

by the Reverend JAMES CORDINER, A.M. the late chaplain to the garrison of Columbo

The Reverend JAMES CORDINER resided in Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) five years ( from 1799 to 1804 ) as chaplain to the garrison of Columbo, and principal of all the schools in the island, during which time he was the only clergyman of the church of England in any of its settlements. His book " A Description of Ceylon" was published in 1807

The following is an extract from Vol 1 page 6.

That of Zeilan, or Ceylon, by which it is now known, is derived most probably from Sinhal the Lions, the name by which the natives of the island are still denominated as Cingalese, from the Indian word Sing, a lion. From Singal, or Sinhal-Dwipa, the Lion island, may have been derived the Seilendiba of Cosmas Indopleustes, who wrote in the seventh century, and the Serendib of the Arabians, by which name it is called by all the nations which profess the religion of Mahomet.

The following is an extract from Vol 1 page 92. 

The Bedahs(Veddahs) appear to be the most ancient inhabitants. Next in order are the Cingalese (Singhalese) and Candians ( Kandians), who were originally one people, and are now only distinguished by local circumstances. The Malabars (Tamils ) must have obtained a footing in the country at a later period.

This year will see Sri Lanka's 50th anniversary celebrations and Prince Charles is due to visit the country in the coming months.