The VOC Heritage in Sri Lanka:
The Dutch Burghers of Ceylon, 1640-2015
The Amsterdam exhibition will exhibit/highlight the Ceylon Dutch Burgher VOC heritage,
which has never been presented before, in the Netherlands and/or in Europe. The presentation/
exhibition will be a unique introduction to a distinct and exceptional society, while paying
subtle homage to its ancestral roots: the Dutch and Europeans who came to Asia during their
The Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, abbreviated (“VOC”).
It’s the world renowned Dutch incorporate logo the “VOC” which is better known for its aggressive monopoly and tactics in Asian. Seldom mentioned are the Children of these VOC Burghers. It would
be inaccurate to describe these Burgher descendants as a “lost tribe” but they still are an undefined, anonymous, unrecognized and an unappreciated minority. They seem to have, somehow, fallen into the cracks of written history. Their contributions, which have been great, to both ends of the divide, has
been ignored or belittled, by both the west and the east.
The October 2015 Exhibition will feature documentation which is well known and also present
new data found via sieving through a great deal of research material. The presentation will present
a better insight to the social world of the 1700thVOC Dutch occupation in Ceylon.
Given that the name Burghers was coined during the British occupation. It was done to identify, isolate
and distinguish the Dutch descendents. And thus it belonged to the British Empire reign during the nineteenth century, some members of the Ceylon Dutch Burgher community left Ceylon after 1850
to work in the British colonies of the Federal States of Malaya [*F.S.M] and Singapore. A social study
on the Ceylon British (Burgher) civil servants have not been thoroughly documented [from 1880-1941], resulting in a loss of data. Some Service men returned to Ceylon, many others dispersed as immigrants around the world, while some found their new home in the F.S.M in Malaya, and in Singapore.
Those who remained in Malaya will be referred to later as the “Malayan - Ceylonese Dutch Burghers.”
We hope to include a comprehensive study, to document this vital sub-group of the Ceylon Dutch
Burghers for our exhibition. The Sri Lankan Dutch Burghers, as they are now known in Sri Lanka
[formerly Ceylon], are currently involved in numerous projects for the less-fortunate children in their
country, primarily in the field of education and child aid.
Burgher organized Christian Mission foundations in Sri Lanka e.g., Schools, Education centres and Child
care units will be featured in our Exhibition presentation. The senior homes of the Brohier Memorial [men’s] home and the Saint Nicholas home [ladies], will also be show cased. Our exhibition committee is to keen focus on these projects, to promote their objectives and showcase their efforts.
The Heritage exhibition will be accompanied by a Book /encyclopaedia. The encyclopaedia is being produced as a genealogical collector’s item and will seek to include documented material that has not been previously published or circulated. The encyclopaedia will be presented to academic institutions as a reference research on the social heritage of the Ceylon Dutch Burghers and their connection to the VOC Dutch Maritime rule in Ceylon.