Hartley College Completes 170 Years in Sphere of Education
Kalabhooshanam Chelvatamby MANICCAVASAGAR
Reproduced from Ceylon Daily News dated Saturday, 26 July 2008
The arrival of the British in Sri Lanka laid the foundation for the beginning of the growth of the Methodist schools especially after it had removed the ban on the Missionaries by the East India Company by an Act of Parliament in 1813. The Missionaries waited for this opportunity and made arrangements for the expedition in the East.
It was at this time that John Wesley’s Lieutenant Dr. Thomas Cook who had the reputation of having converted millions of people to Christianity sold his property and set sail for Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as it was then called, with six other Missionaries in spite of his old age, in December 1813 though Dr. Thomas Cook died, five Missionaries arrived near Galle on June 29, 1814 and two of whom namely Lynch and Squance came to Jaffna in August the same year.
Mr. Maniccavasagar has contributed many articles on Hartley over the past 30 years. We are grateful to him for this beautifully crafted article which gives the history of Hartley from its inception in 1838.
Every Hartleyite should read this account.
After spending some days in the Jaffna peninsula, Rev. Thomas Squance leased out a plot of land from a Nagappar of Point Pedro near the seaside where the present Methodist Girls College is situated. A building was constructed on that plot of land wherein a Tamil school was functioning.
In 1826 Rt. Rev. Peter Percival who was one of the Christian Missionaries came to Ceylon to convert the people of Ceylon to Christianity but in 1830 he was sent to Calcutta to start a mission there.
There his attempt proved futile. Later he came to Ceylon in 1832 when a remarkable change in the administration of British rule occurred as a result of the recommendation of the Colebrooke Commission. This marked the significant event of their religion which eventually had its reflection on the education system.
Rev. Peter Percival started the Jaffna Central School in 1834 and in 1838 started an English School in Point Pedro which was known as Point Pedro Wesleyan Mission Central School. Thus the founding of the school took place due to persistent efforts and aspirations of the Methodist Missionaries.
The Point Pedro Wesleyan Mission Central School started by Rev. Peter Percival progressed well with about 50 students. However an account of the nature of the people prevailing at that time the number attending the school fluctuated from time to time.
Nevertheless due to the continuous effort and aspirations of Rev. Peter Percival, the General Committee in London was satisfied with the progress of the school and paid Rev. Peter Percival the sum of Sterling Pounds 400 in 1854 which he had incurred as expenses.
Since its inception in 1838 it has been continuously functioning as a school except for a brief interval in 1860. It was in 1861 that the school was re-opened with D. P. Niles, a graduate of the Batticaloa seminary.
As the school headmaster from 1861-1868 he worked hard for the progress of this school and it was evident at a time when Jaffna Central College was in great difficulties on account of Hindu religious revivalism.