Why was the forgotten past not recognised?
Before we give reasons or supportive arguments we wish to draw the attention of the readers to please go through the website especially the pages about the history carefully. We received many queries for which the answers were already given in the site. We thus understood that some of those who read the pages had skimmed through them. We knew why the 62 year period was not spoken of but now find it is better explained and this page is to fill that void.
We also found an article published in the College Magazine commemorating 100 years in 1976. The article written in Sinhala appearing on page 21 is about the History of Richmond from 1876 to 1976. It appears that this is a translation from an English article. It says the first school was closed down in the 1940’s due to a shortage of Missionaries. We went through Mission records but could not find anything to that effect. We found that there were Missionaries stationed in Galle during that time although some other places did have a problem. It should be borne in mind that Galle was the next important station for the Missionaries after Colombo. The said article does not give any reference to where it got this information. It is beleived that it was from an old magazine. We confined our research to Mission records knowing that there could be wrong historical facts published in magazines and reiterate that we created this website with great responsibility and with documentary proof.
This is something everyone is curious to know. If Richmond had been started in 1814 and not 1876 why was that 62 year period forgotten? Reading some more Mission records and re-reading Mission records already read, many times over to find a plausible and a viable reasons now we are in a position to bring forth strong arguments as to why it happened.
The Missionaries came to Ceylon not to start educational institutions but to spread Methodism. That was Rev. Dr. Coke’s prime idea. But his death on the way to Ceylon and the subsequent events that took place here changed all that. It is on record that after Coke’s death the Missionaries were left destitute with no will in place or not known of. The Rev. Dr. Coke had deposited £ 400 with the Captain of the ship but no document could be found authorising the transfer of the funds. In Rev. William Harvard’s book he states that they did not have money even to buy a meal. That was the situation on their arrival in Bombay. It is a coincidence that a person by the name ‘Money’ who volunteered to help them with money. When the Missionaries landed in Galle their situation was improved.
It is on record that the Missionaries were daily having tea with the commandant of Galle Lord Molesworth till about the 14th of July. It was only after the visit of Rev. Bisset the government Chaplain that things started moving. The then Governor General Sir. Brownrigg made a suggestion that the missionaries spread out and start schools to teach English to the locals. As an incentive a sum of 50 Rix Dollars was promised for each school started. For Missionaries who were without any funds this was God sent. It should be noted that when Coke first suggested the mission to Ceylon and India it was downright rejected and only when he offered to finance the Mission with £ 6000, that it was accepted. Hence it is obvious that the mission was not in a very healthy position to sustain the Missionaries in Ceylon. However all this changed later. It could be thought that the Governor’s offer became the survival lifeline to the five Missionaries and they could spread the gospel whilst teaching English and that is exactly what happened.
The first school that was started in Galle taught English and the gospel to its students. As time when more schools had to be started to accommodate the growing student population. Seeing the place where Rev. Clough resided in Galle it could be understood why everybody could not be tutored at Ata Pattu Walauwwa. Space was one issue. There could have been other reasons too which can be bitter but for the sake of completeness they will be touched upon. During Colonial times there was class and cast barriers. The Missionary Notices speak of two schools opened in the same village; one for the “Karawe” cast children and one for “Halagama” cast children. This shows the situation then whether we like it or not. Those who were inside Galle Fort were mainly the Portuguese and Dutch descendants and people of British origin. Intermingling with the local population hardly happened for they thought they were superior nationalities. In as much as colour bar is still prevalent in many countries it was widespread among those colonial masters and their people. Except for the aristocratic locals they hardly mixed with others. This was the background then. This necessitated opening several schools but Superintended by a single Missionary meaning they were one school.
Most schools in Ceylon were Anglo-vernacular or English schools and imparted a primary education up to fifth standard while few other schools were up to the eighth standard. An education spanning nine years did not prepare students for higher tertiary education. The Missionaries were faced with a staffing problem during this period. It was required that the school master or the mistress declare that they were true Christians and did not practice any other religion; not even their former faith. Most school teachers professed to be Christians, but in their hearts they followed their former faiths. When the missionaries came to know such instances the teacher were immediately dismissed. Finding teachers to fill such vacancies was a huge problem and this rule was later removed paving the way to find teachers to teach in schools.
A comparison was made between those schools that had a recorded history, and those that were known to have started earlier but with a later history the reason for such determinations were found. The Missionaries regarded and recognised only those schools that could prepare students for tertiary education as complete schools or fully fledged schools. As such Anglo-vernacular schools did not fall within the ambit of such criteria. This was one reason that the history of Richmond prior to 1876 is not spoken of.
Missionary documents record the creation of a Theology School in Colpetty which did not produce the desired results. This was later abandoned and closed down. It was re-established at Richmond Hill as an adjunct to the Anglo-vernacular that was already functioning. This shows that the Mission was interested in having a Theology School and it should be noted that the highest number of local preachers were from the Richmond Hill Theology School. Even when the first Anglo-vernacular was upgraded in 1876 the Theology School existed and continued for many more years before it was amalgamated with Richmond. Later the Theology School was re-established in Peradeniya and is still in existence. Although it is sad to note that it took 62 years for the first school to get recognition; the reasons given elsewhere caused this lapse. It is Rev. Erskine who was stationed in Matara (who was earlier in Galle) who first mooted this idea of a superior school. Rev. Rippon too mooted the idea of a Superior School and as a first step persuaded the Mission to purchase Seymour’s Hill the present Richmond Hill. Due to ill health Rev. Rippon had to return to England but when Rev. Baugh took over, from the word go he went hammer and tongs to make the dream come true. He constantly and consistently pressurised the Mission in Colombo and hence in England to give Galle a proper school. Rev. Baugh at one stage was very threatening and said that he would leave his beloved Missionary work if he cannot have a Superior School in Galle. His request was finally approved and the Anglo-vernacular school was upgraded to a Superior School and named “Galle Boy’s High School” which was eventually re-named Richmond in 1882 by virtue of the fact that the school was situated on Richmond Hill. Rev. Baugh is rightly remembered as the ‘founding Father of Richmond’. Although Rev. Baugh had his way he was blue-pencilled due to his forceful and at times rancorous letters to the Mission authorities resulting in his transfer to Calcutta six months after Galle High School was established with a promotion which we think was a pretext. A petition by people of Galle opposing his transfer did not move the Mission Synod. Reading his autobiography found under past Principals, one could imagine how out-and-out he was, and was a person who was not afraid to call a ‘spade a spade’.
It is now clear why the 62 year history of Richmond went unaccounted and should clear any grey area of the history.