The Political Contribution
Village Communities Ordinance of 1871
In Volume 2 of The Life of Sir Richard Morgan, there is mention of the leading role played by Charles Henry de Soysa in the formulation of of this Ordinance. The Act revived the ancient Gamsabahas (Village Tribunals) with increased powers and responsibilities. It also introduced powers to enforce compulsory education, a year before the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Ceylon’s first mass political meeting
On 11 November 1871, Ceylon’s first mass political meeting was held on the
grounds of the De Soysa walauwa in Moratuwa agitating against the
discriminatory provisions of the Village Communities Ordinance 1871,
of divide and rule. De Soysa's name headed the petition signed by 1000
Governor to amendment the Ordinance and to print it in the native language.
The Ceylon Agricultural Association
On 24 June 1881 the Ceylon Agricultural Association was formed to safeguard the interests of the native enterprises facing stiff competition from the Europeans and to limit their control of the economic activities of the country. It also inaugurated a movement to abolish the paddy tax. De Soysa was the Founder-President of the Association which later transformed itself into the Ceylon National Association in 1888 and subsequently played a significant role in the struggles for constitutional reforms in the early part of the twentieth century with such celebrities as Sir James Peiris as President and D. R. Wijewardena as Secretary. The Ceylon National Association paved the way for the rise of the Ceylon National Congress, which in turn played a decisive role along with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party in the penultimate lap on the road to independence..
The First Election
Under the recommendations proposed by (Sir) James Peiris, elections were held for the first time, though on a limited scale for an 'Educated Ceylonese' seat in the Legislative Council. (Sir) Marcus Fernando campaigned with a manifesto proposing a progressive program including the creation of industrial schools towards a process of industrialisation. Though he lost to a conservative strain in society, he subsequently served on both the Executive and Legislative Councils.
AJR de Soysa of the Ceylon National Association appointed to the Low Country Sinhalese seat of the Legislative Council of Ceylon. He was appointed to the 'Salaries Commission of 1912' and mediated a settlement in the Railway strike of 1912 and paid from his private funds when the government refused to pay wages for the week long railway strike.
Riots of 1915 & The Morning Leader
The Ceylon Morning Leader, owned by the de Soysa family campaigned for the release of those arrested and facing life imprisonment or the death penalty for the Riots of 1915. Most of those who were released would go on to play a leading role in the political sphere of the country.
Dr. Solomon Fernando's death following his speech at the protest meeting (presided by Sir James Peiris) seeking justice for the detained, makes him one of the last martyrs to the cause. Dr. Fernando was a Christian and those detained were primarily Buddhist. His father Sylvester Fernando was a cousin of Francesco Fernando, popularly known as Weera Puan Appu.
Young Lanka League
Returning from Cambridge where he was drawn to the activities of the Sinn Féin and had met Lenin, barrister CHZ Fernando co-found the Young Lanka League. It was the first organization to demand full independence.
Ceylon Labour Party
The pioneer labour union barrister CHZ Fernando (later Chevalier), a co-founder of the Ceylon National Congress and the Ceylon Labour Party, was the voice for the cause of labour in the Legislative Council of Ceylon. He was one of the few who campaigned for an unrestricted franchise (universal suffrage) extending even to the plantation Tamils.
Sir Marcus Fernando becomes a member of the Executive Council.
(The Executive Council (L-R): Sir Marcus Fernando, Sir JT Broom, Sir Henry Gollan,
Col. C Coffin, Governor William Manning, Sir Greame Thompson, Sir P Ramanathan,
Mr. B Senior & Mr.EB Alexander. The Legislative Council led by Sir James Peiris is in the background)
Abolishing the Poll Tax
On a motion by C. H. Z. Fernando the the Poll Tax was abolished. Chevaliar CHZ Fernando was a grandson of Lady Catherine and Sir Charles de Soysa.
Sir Marcus Fernando supports the adoption of the Donoughmore Constitution enabling general elections with adult universal suffrage and was largely responsible for devising wider representation to the Northern Tamils and Eastern Muslims.
Lanka Mahajana Sabaha
Sir Wifred de Soysa and the Lanka Mahajana Sabaha supports the granting of a limited suffrage based on literacy and age.
(L-R: DW Wickramarachchi, JN Jinendradasa, MH & Sir Baron Jayatilake,
DC & DS Senanayake, CA Hewavitharna, Sir Wilfred de Soysa & JE Gunasekera).
Lady Evelyn de Soysa (nee Fernando) accepts a senatorial post in the Senate of Ceylon, becoming the second female member in the senate.
First Female Ambassador
Loranee Senaratne becomes the country's first female ambassador.
She is appointed the ambassador to Ghana (1963-5) and Italy (1970-3).