top of page

The name 'Soysa'

The original Portuguese spelling of the name is 'Sousa'. Interestingly, the Portuguese pronounce their 'u' as 'i/y'. Therefore, the correct English spelling is 'Soysa'. In fact, the Thombo record of the marriage between Samuel de Mello and Dominga de Soisa of Panadura in 1691 had used the Dutch spelling.

Meaning of Sousa

It is thought that 'Sousa' derives from the Sousa river of the Porto District located on the north-west coast of Portugal (deriving from Latin Saxa 'rocks') or from salt marsh, from a variant of 'sausa', salty (from the Latin 'salsa').

The House of Sousa 

A prominent noble house of Portugal, established before the founding of the Kingdom of Portugal. Gonçalo Mendes de Sousa the Good (1120–1190), a veteran of the Battle of Ourique, which created the Kingdom of Portugal in 1139 was the brother-in-law of Afonso I, King of Portugal. Many members of this family who were related to the Portuguese Crown were employed as Governors in Portuguese overseas colonies. For instance, the fist Governors of the largest colony Brazil were Martim Afonso de Sousa and Tomé de Sousa. In Ceilão (a corruption of 'Sihela/Sinhale') as the Island was known to them, the very capable Captain-major was overlooked in preference to the noble Pedro Lopez de Sousa as the first Governor. A famous descendant of this family was Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Of the eleven hereditary noble Dukedoms of Portugal, four were de Sousa and three of them were among the six dukedoms de juro e herdade - this meant that the King was obliged to renew the title in its rightful heir.

Read more about the the house of Sousa....


Shield of the

House of Sousa,

circa 10th century.

A quartet of silver crescents (Argent) over a field of red (Gules),

The five wounds of Christ are symbolized

Shield of the Kingdom of Portugal (1139-1247)

The five wounds of Christ are symbolized by the five shields on Portugal's coat of arms

Lords and Counts of Miranda do Corvo_edi

Shield of the

House of Sousa,

circa 1139

The field of the shield is divided in four quarters with the royal arms of Portugal in the first and fourth quarters, and the arms of Sousa, in the second and third quarters.


Shield of the Kingdom of Portugal

(13th century onward)


Coat of Arms -

Sousa of Arronches,

13th century

This grouping is known as the Sousa of Arronches (because of the title of Lords of Arronches). It is still borne by many of the noble houses of Portugal, like the Dukes of Lafões and the Dukes of Palmela.

The name 'Warusahennedige'

The clan name Warusahennedhi derives from Warusa Vipula Senadhi, part of the title borne by our ancestors. Varusa meant a distinctive mark of honour or privilege granted by a royal authority, vipula means eminent and hennedhi derives from senadhi, the formal eloquent Sinhala term deriving from Sanskrit for senanayake, meaning commander.

How the Warusahennedige became Sousa

It has been stated by our ancestors that they came to Panadura via Seenigama from Devinuwara and had once been the custodians of the Temple and emporium at the historic port-town of Devinuwara. Oral evidence from Dondra had confirmed that the de Soysa's owned property in the vicinity of the temple.

Devinuwara, also known as Dondra in English, was the last port of call before the long voyage across the Indian ocean to Burma and South East Asia. Whilst the Sinhala term Devinuwara means 'City of Gods', the Tamil term Theivanthurai means 'God's Port'. The grand thousand deity temple complex had housed the various Hindu and Buddhist deities, the primary importance been accorded to God Vishnu (and God Varuna, in a more historic period). Buddhists and Hindus both worship Vishnu, as he is the preserver, he is regarded the Guardian Deity of the Island and Buddhism. Whilst the Sinhala name was Uppulavan, the regional Tamil name had been Tenavarai Nayanar. The bronze roof of the temple had acted similar to a light house assisting seafarers.

Portuguese historians write of their destruction of the southern coast during the 1587 siege of Colombo. This was in order to make it difficult for King Rajasinghe I to employ a credible challenge at sea, to distract their enemy and to disperse the theater of war. The Devinuwara Temple complex was also destroyed in 1587 and it is most likely that at this point some of our ancestors would have been compelled to become de Sousa, sponsored by Thome de Sousa d' Arronches, the Captain of the Portuguese fleet, from the House of Sousa.

bottom of page