Great Rebellion of 1817–18
This article may be unbalanced towards certain viewpoints. (March 2021)
|Uwa-Wellassa Uprising of 1817–18|
|Part of the Kandyan Wars|
|Kingdom of Kandy rebels||Kingdom of Kandy loyalists|
|Commanders and leaders|
Wilbawe Mudiyanse Doresami (as assigned King)
Ehelapola Maha Adikaram
Gode Gedara Adikaram
Meegahapitiya Rate Rala
Madugalle Basnayake Nilame
Kohukumbura Gahawela Raterala
Maha Badullegammene Raterala
Palle Malheyae GametiraleHapategamme Mohottala
Gen. Sir Robert Brownrigg, 1st Baronet GCB
Molligoda Maha Adikaram
Molligoda Podi Nilame
Mahawala Thanna Nilame
Katugaha Maha Nilame
Katugaha Podi Nilame
Col. John Kelly
Lt. Col. Hardy
Lt. Col. Hook
Lt. J. Maclaine
Native Lieut. AnnanNative Lieut. Cader-Boyet
|Unknown - From 20,000 to 100,000 in an islandwide network.||15000 to 24000|
|Casualties and losses|
8000 to 10000(entire male population above 18 in Uva allegedly killed by British in retribution)
|900 to 2000|
Great Liberation War of 1817–18 (Sinhala: ඌව වෙල්ලස්ස මහා විමුක්ති හටන), also known as the 1818 Uva–Wellassa uprising (after the two places it had started), was the third Kandyan War between native Kandyan rebels and the British, in what is now Sri Lanka. It took place in what is now Uva, then a province of the Kingdom of Kandy, against the British colonial government under Governor Robert Brownrigg, which had been controlling the formerly independent Udarata (up-country in Sinhalese).
Following the annexation of the Kandyan Kingdom by the British under the terms of the Kandyan Convention in 1815, the British started to antagonize the Kandyan Chiefs who signed the convention through their actions. This included the breach of promises made by the British chiefs in terms of retaining the traditional privileges enjoyed by them during the era of the Kandyan Kingdom. They were further angered by the appointment of a Moor loyal to the British, Haji Muhandirum as Travala Madige Muhandiram of Wellassa, undermining the authority of Millewa Dissawa and sparking the uprising.
Keppetipola Disawe was initially sent by the British government to stop the uprising, but ended up joining the rebellion and ordering the regiment he was commanded to return to their garrison. Keppetipola Disawe joined the uprising as its leader and is today celebrated for his actions in Sri Lanka. He assisted many regional leaders in providing men and material from various regions. The other leaders who supported this independent movement were: 2nd in-charge of Gode Gedara Adikaram, Wilbawe, II Pilima Talauve Adikaram, Kohu Kumbure Rate Rala, Dimbulana Disave, Kivulegedara Mohottala, Madugalle Disave, Butewe Rate Rala, Galagoda family members, Galagedara Mohottala, Meegahapitiya Rate Rala, Dambawinna Disave, and Kurundukumbure Mohottala.
Keppitipola went up to Alupotha and joined the fighters having returned all arms and ammunition of the British. Rev. Wariyapola Sumangala of Asgiriya fled to Hanguranketa with the tooth relic casket, resulting in a more vigorous phase of the Great Liberation War, as the Sinhalese believed that whoever possessed this tooth relic would be the rightful ruler of the country. By September 1817, two leaders, Madugalle Basnayake Nilame and Ellepola Adikaram, surrendered to the British, and Pilimatalawe led the rebellion. The British captured Ellepola, who was the Dissawa of Viyaluwa; also captured was a brother of Maha Adikaram Ehelepola, and both were beheaded in Bogambara on 27 October 1818.
The 'Great Liberation War'
The Uwa-Wellassa Uprising was launched by Keppetipola Disawe. With the exceptions of Molligoda and Ekneligoda, many chiefs joined the uprising. The fighters captured Matale and Kandy before Keppetipola fell ill and was captured and beheaded by the British. His skull was abnormal — as it was wider than usual — and was sent to Britain for testing. It was returned to Sri Lanka after independence and now rests in the Kandyan Museum. The uprising failed due to a number of reasons. It was not well-planned by the leaders. The areas controlled by some pro-British chiefs provided easy transport routes for British supplies. Wilbawe, who was said to have a claim to the Sinhalese throne, was found not to have any relation.
The British confiscated the properties of the people involved in the uprising, killing all cattle and other animals, burning homes, property, and even the salt in their possession during the repression. Paddy fields in the area of Wellassa were all destroyed. The irrigation systems of the duchies of Uva and Wellassa, previously the "rice bowl" of Sri Lanka, were systematically destroyed.
In the 'Journal of Uva', Herbert White, a British agent in Badulla after the Great Liberation war wrote:
It is a pity that there is no evidence left behind to show the exact situation in Uva in terms of population or agriculture development after the Great Liberation war. The new rulers are unable to come up to any conclusion on the exact situation of Uva before the Great Liberation war as there is no trace of evidence left behind to come to such conclusions. If thousands died in the battle they were all fearless and clever fighters. If one considers the remaining population of 4/5 after the battle to be children, women, and the aged, the havoc caused is unlimited. In short, the people have lost their lives and all other valuable belongings. It is doubtful whether Uva has at least now recovered from the catastrophe.
During the Great Liberation war, a Gazette Notification was issued by Governor Robert Brownrigg to condemn all those who fight against British Rule in Sri Lanka. All those who participated in the uprising were condemned as “traitors” and their properties confiscated by the government under the notification with some executed and others exiled to Mauritius. Several governments after the independence of Sri Lanka in the past have indicated their intention to revoke this Gazette Notification, but, however, did not take action to do so. The Gazette Notification issued by Governor Brownrigg was brought to Sri Lanka on the instruction of President Maithripala Sirisena. It was submitted to the Parliament and was formally revoked with the signature of the President in 2017. This allowed all those who participated in the uprising to be recognized as National Heroes, and their label as traitors officially erased. A National Declaration was awarded on their behalf to their descendants.
- "Sri Lanka is to revoke British Governor's infamous Gazette Notification". Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- nilame -a-true - The Great Liberation War/172-99233 "Monarawila Keppetipola Maha nilame: A true Fighter" Check
|url=value (help). www.dailymirror.lk.
- Keppetipola and the Uva The Great Liberation War Virtual Library Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
- "Uva Wellassa The Great Liberation War - 1817 -1818". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Wellassa riots in 1818". Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- "Torture tree of the British Army". Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "1818 Uva Wellassa The Great Liberation War".
- "Sri Lanka is to revoke British Governor's infamous Gazette Notification". Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- Karalliyadda, S. B. (2004). "The need for University of Uva". The Island. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- WEERASINGHE, Chamikara. "Revokes infamous Brownrigg Gazzette notification of 1818: President grants 'National Hero' status to Uva-Wellasse The Great Liberation war". Daily News.
- "81 leaders in 1818 freedom struggle declared as national heroes". www.dailymirror.lk.
- The 1818 The Great Liberation war and the execution of Keppetipola Dissawe
- Keppetipola and the Uva The Great Liberation War
- Our darkest day.
- From John D’Oyly to Robert O’Blake
- Ceylon under the British By G.C. Mendis
- THE BRITISH IN SRI LANKA
- The Madulla massacre by the British (9th of Dec. 1817)
- The execution of keppetipola Dissawe
- Kandy: the roots of the Great Liberation war.