The First Reforms, 1833

The Colebrook-Cameron Commission was the first Royal Commission of Inquiry appointed to look into Sri Lanka's revenue, administration and judicial system. William Mackenzie and George Colebrooke, who arrived on the island in 1829, along with Charles Hay Cameron, who joined in 1830, were its members. Governor Edward Barnes opposed the commission. The commission received information through questionnaires given to government officials and the public, petitions received by the commission, and by examining documents in government institutions.It proposed the establishment of an executive council, and a legislative council with unofficial representation of Sinhalese, Tamils and Burghers, the division of Sri Lanka into five provinces, the reduction of salaries in the civil service and a new judicial system for the whole island. This document reflects that the commission questioned the landowners at length about how they cultivated the land and how they obtained labour. The commission recommended the abolition of ‘Rajakariya’, the compulsory-labour system prevalent at the time.

LK-NA/19/3, Replies of the principal mudaliyars and the native landholders in Colombo and the adjoining districts to questions by the Colebrooke-Cameron Commissioners of Inquiry regarding agricultural resources.


Department of National Archives Sri Lanka

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