Genealogical Claims

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Genealogical Claims

There are many families from Jaffna who make fanciful claims to Royal Lineage and Aristocratic Antecedents, without substantiating them with independent and authentic documentary evidence. It is pertinent to note that in the Maritime Provinces of Sri Lanka, documentary records such as the registration of births, marriages, deaths: the  registration of land, land transfers and appointments of native officials which are the usual source material for genealogical studies, are available only from Dutch times. Such records in respect of the Kandyan provinces are from an even later period: after the annexation of the Kingdom by the British in 1815. 

None of the Jaffna families that claim Royal descent have so far substantiated their lineage with independent and reliable documentation such as thombus, thombu names, marriage registers, land registers, reliable published works, or even diaries of the Portuguese, Dutch or British administrators. Infact they do not provide any corroborative evidence in support of their claims. 

The many families who claim descent from the Kings of Jaffna, in most instances have cooked up their ancestries to go back to one of the eight descendents of Prince Paranirupasinghe, assuming that the narrative in the Vaipava Malai is historically accurate. As mentioned earlier, neither the story, nor the names mentioned in the Vaipava Malai narrative can be corroborated with the available Portuguese records. Historians believe that the author of the Vaipava Malai has confused the usurper King Sankili Kumara (1617-1619 AD) the last  King of his line with an earlier king of the same name Sankili Segarajasekaram (circa 1519 – 1561) As a result of this confusion, there is a gap of approximately 100 years in the genealogies that have been based on this information, which confirms the unreliability of these claims.

According to accepted history, most of the legitimate claimants to the Kingdom of Jaffna either died in the conflict with the Portuguese or were put to the sword by them after the fall of the Kingdom. Some others who collaborated with the Portuguese were forced to take religious orders and a wow of celibacy to ensure they did not have a progeny. It is highly unlikely that they would have encouraged the eight descendents of Prince Paranirupasinghe to settle in their respective villages. If any Royal descendents did survive the Portuguese, it would have been by fleeing the Kingdom and living beyond the reach of the Portuguese.




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