Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)CMS/B/OMS/CE
TitleCeylon Mission
Extent43 volumes of letter-books, mission books and precis books, 148 files (including journals) and 21 boxes of original papers and early correspondence
DescriptionPre and post-1880 papers of the Ceylon mission
Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionThe pre-1880 papers have been given archive reference numbers and these are marked in pencil on the back of each item [e.g. C CE/03/7]. The post-1880 papers are each individually marked in red ink, and this number, plus the year, comprises the reference for each item [e.g. G2 CE/1921/48].
Administrative HistoryWork in Ceylon was considered from 1813 onwards but the first European missionaries did not arrive until 1818. for the Singhalese population work was begun at Kandy (1818), Baddegama (1819), Cotta [Kotte] (1822) and Kurunegala (1880). Work among the Tamils centred on Jaffna (1818) and Colombo (1852) while a distinctive Tamil Cooly Mission was begun in 1855.
Unlike most CMS missions Ceylon did not at first have a corresponding committee. There was an annual conference of all missionaries, which supervised the general administration of the mission. Reports of the stations were presented each year by the missionaries and problems were discussed There appears to have been a local committee also at Jaffna and one in the south of Ceylon. Matters arising between the annual meetings had to be decided by circular. These dealt with a) appointment or dismissal of catechists and increase of their salaries b) establishment of schools, if more than two in each station c) erection of buildings d) incurring expense which was to be charged to the mission e) purchase of horse or household furniture f) change of station [including for medical reasons]. The circulars were sent to members of the local committee (or to all missionaries if the matter was of sufficient importance) in the order of their seniority as missionaries. Complete agreement had to be reached before the request in the circular was granted Correspondence with the committee at headquarters, the bishop or governor had to be through the chairman of the local committee.
In 1850 the Society sent out Rev. George Pettitt to be secretary of a newly-formed Central Committee, which was to act as a corresponding committee. At the same time Southern and Jaffna Local Committees were formed The Central Committee was not considered successful and was dissolved by order of headquarters in 1852. From this time the mission was administered by the local committees.
Custodial HistoryCatalogued by Rosemary A. Keen, 1961. Handlist revised and expanded by Rosemary Keen, 1984.


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