The British were controlling the maritime provinces of Ceylon by 1814. The Governor of Ceylon was Lt. Gen. Robert Brownrigg (later General Sir. Robert Brownrigg) and the Commandant of Galle and the deputy to the Governor was Major General William John Molesworth the Sixth Viscount.These two British subjects are prominently mentioned in old documents. Gen. Sir. Brownrigg offered monetary support to the pioneer Missionaries whilst Viscount Molesworth actively got involved with the first school to be established in Galle. Viscount Molesworth supplied the first school with many books until his departure from Ceylon. He died in a shipwreck in 1815.
The year 1814 was a turning point in Wesleyan Methodism and also English education in then Ceylon. It was the year Wesleyan Methodism was introduced to Asia. Ceylon was the first country in Asia to which Methodism was introduced. On Wednesday 29 June 1814, five Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries came to the Galle harbour. Three of the party came ashore at Galle and the other two at Weligama on the 30th morning around 2:00 AM. All of them were reunited in the morning of the 30th June 1814.
The “Missionary Register for 1815; Volume III ” published in 1815 carry an account of the arrival of the missionaries in Ceylon and subsequent events that took place in pages 80 through 91.
“A Narrative or the Establishment and Progress of the mission to Ceylon and India” by Rev. W. M. Harvard published in 1823 on page 147 gives an account of their arrival in Galle and Weligama.
On Sunday the 3rd July, 1814 Rev. Lynch delivered the first sermon from the Old Dutch Church in Galle Fort which was well appointed. Old records say the Church was packed to capacity with personnel from the garrision and residents in Fort to hear the Methodist Missionaries preaching.
The five missionaries, Messers. Benjamin Clough, Thomas Hall Squance, James Lynch, William Ault and George Erskine had their first District Meeting which they referred to as ‘a conference’ on Monday, 11 July, 1814. Having had a visit from the Chaplain of the then Governor of Ceylon, General Sir Robert Brownrigg, who conveyed the Governor’s advice for them to spread out to Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mannar, Matara and for one to remain in Galle they deliberated as to whether it was advisable to separate so widely from each other as would be required if the Governor’s recommendation was acceded to. But after consideration due to so important a matter, they by ‘ballot‘ agreed that Mr. Lynch and Mr. Squance should go to Jaffna; Mr. Ault to Batticaloa; Mr. Erskine to Matara and that Mr. Clough should remain at Galle. They left out Mannar for want of another missionary. The following page extract of the “Missionary Register for the Year 1815” Volume III archived with the “Bodelian Library, Oxford of Rhodes House” is the official recording of the event by the Mission Headquarters in England.
Mr. Lynch was to accompany Mr. Squance to Jaffna who was not of robust health. Messers Squance and Lynch left Galle to Jaffna on Thursday the 14th of July, 1814 and first reached Colombo on the 16th of July 1814 after travelling for two days. they then leave Colombo on the 1st August, 1814 and reach Jaffna on the 11th August, 1814 having travelled for ten days. Messers Lynch and Squance could not find a suitable place to start their school in Jaffna and had to wait until 1817 to start their school.
Mr. Erskine left to Matara on Sunday the 31st July, 1814 and Maha Mudliyar Illangakoone helped start a school in Matara. This is the second school in Ceylon started by the Methodist Mission which was started a day after his arrival in Matara. Mr. Ault left by boat to Batticaloa on the same day and arrived in Batticaloa on Monday the 8th August 1814. Few days later he started a school from a large store room not being able to find a proper place. This is the third School by the Mission.
The Rev. Benjamin Clough left Galle with the arrival of Rev. William Harvard who came in 1815 and was stationed in Colombo. Rev. Clough started a Wesleyan School which evolved to present Newstead Girls School in Negombo in 1815 and this is the fourth school to be established. The forerunner to Jaffna Central College was established in 1817 and is the fifth major School to be established by the Missionaries.