Sir John D'Oyly, the Strategist

The Kandyan Convention of 1815 was drafted by John D’Oyly. Entering the Ceylon Civil Service in 1801, he was appointed a member of the Colombo District Court in 1802. In 1803, he was promoted as the head of the Matara District Court, and in 1804, as the Revenue Collector of Matara. During this time, D’Oyly studied the Sinhala language and literature under Karatota Dharmarama Nayaka Thero. He engaged in academic discussions with Moratota Dhammakkhandha Bhikkhu and other monks and established contacts with eminent people such as Gajaman Nona and Elapata Mudali, renowned poets of the Matara period. In a letter by Governor Brownrigg, it was stated that D’Oyly was the most suitable person to be appointed as the Resident of the Kandyan Regions due to his good understanding of Sinhala, Kandyan customs, and society. D'Oyly was also employed by the British as a spy to create discord between the Kandyan king and nobility. He worked through his contacts to create dissension among nobles by giving them hopes of kingship, and thereby creating confusion in the affairs of the state.

LK-NA/21/35/1, Letter from Governor Brownrigg to John D’Oyly, 2 Mar. 1815.

Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

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