Sylvester Douglas Wilson Memorial

Sylvester Douglas Wilson Memorial
Sylvester Douglas Wilson Memorial (Photo credit: Pasindu Chathurange, Google Street View)

Memorial of Sylvester Douglas Wilson (Sinhala: සිල්වෙස්ටර් ඩග්ලස් විල්සන් ස්මාරකය) is a monument on Bibile-Passara road near Yalkumbura in Badulla District, Sri Lanka. It has been erected for the remembrance of Sylvester Douglas Wilson, the Assistant Resident and Agent of the British Government in Badulla, who was killed in 1817 at Hewilwela (or Etanawatta) in Yalkumbura Wasama. 

S.D. Wilson began his career in Sri Lanka as an Extra Assistant in the Secretariat. From that position, he was promoted to the Third Assistant to the Resident and Judicial Agent at Kandy and Magistrate of Kandy on 12 June 1816 and then to the position of Second Assistant to the Resident Secretary to the Residency and Sitting Magistrate of Kandy on 1 October 1816 (Lewis, 1913). He finally succeeded Henry Wright at Badulla as the First Assistant to the Resident and Magistrate (Lewis, 1913). 

In September 1817, S.D. Wilson received word that a person of Malabar origin who arrived in the Uva Wellassa region had declared himself the king. He dispatched Hadji Mohandiram, the chief of the Moors in Wellassa, on 10 September 1817 to inquire into the suspected Malabar (Lewis, 1913). However, Hadji was captured by Butawe Rate Rala and taken before the Malabar and was killed upon his orders (Lewis, 1913). On 16 September 1817, after Wilson received information of Haji Marikkar's death, he set out from Badulla with a small detachment of troops to ascertain the real circumstances. At Etanawatta he met with an armed party, who demanded a conference (Lewis, 1913). Wilson advanced to meet them but was killed by arrows fired by Hitihami Mudiyanse Rate Rala and his men. According to tradition, he was killed near the stream near Unagolla Viharaya and buried where he fell (Lewis, 1913).

The monument commemorating Sylvester Douglas Wilson was erected in 1912 on the spot where he died. The English inscription on it can be read as follows;

In memory of Sylvester Douglas Wilson Assistant Resident and Agent of the British Government in the Province of Uva who was killed near this spot at the outbreak of the Kandyan Rebellion 16th Sept 1817. This monument was erected by the Government of  Ceylon 1912.

Above the English inscription is a plaque with a Sinhala inscription (a later addition);

වෙල්ලස්ස කැරැල්ල 1817 සැතැ 16 දින හිටිහාමි මුදියන්සේ රටේ රාල විරැවාගේ ඊ පහරින් මියගිය සිල්වෙස්ට ඩග්ලස් විල්සන් ගේ ස්මාරකයයි මේ.

1) Lewis, J. P., 1913. List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon, of historical or local interest with an obituary of persons uncommemorated: Colombo. pp.290,423.

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This page was last updated on 8 September 2023

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