Sri Lanka Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Sri Lanka, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Anglican (Episcopal) Church[edit | edit source]

Dutch Reformed Church[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Christianity reached the country through Western colonists in the early 16th century. Around 7.4% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians, of whom 82% are Roman Catholics who trace their religious heritage directly to the Portuguese. Sri Lankan Tamil Catholics attribute their religious heritage to St.Francis Xavier as well as Portuguese missionaries. The remaining Christians are evenly split between the Anglican Church of Ceylon and other Protestant denominations. By the 1980s, the population of Christians was mostly concentrated in the northwest of Sri Lanka and in the capital where they are 10% of the population. Of these Christians, about 85% are Roman Catholics and the rest are Anglicans, Methodists and other Protestants. [1][2]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name



How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Sri Lanka.
b. Click on Places within Sri Lanka and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.

Anglican (Episcopal) Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Church of Ceylon is the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka, as an extra-provincial diocese of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first services were held on the island in 1796 and missionaries were sent to Ceylon to begin work in 1818.[2] The Church now has two dioceses, one in Colombo (covering the Western, Southern, Eastern, Northern and Uva provinces and Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya and Puttalam districts) and the other in Kurunegala (covering Kurunegala, Kandy, Matale and Kegalla, Anuradapura, Polonnaruwa, districts). The Diocese of Colombo was founded in 1845 and the Diocese of Kurunegala in 1950. The Church of Ceylon with around 50,000 members,[3] is the second largest group of Christians in Sri Lanka, after the Roman Catholic Church with 1,600,000 members.[3]

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the pope in Rome. The country comes under the province of Colombo and is made up of 12 dioceses including one archdiocese. There are approximately 1.2 million Catholics in Sri Lanka representing around 6.1% of the total population (according to the 2012 census). Records of ancient travelers to Sri Lanka report that a separate area was allocated for Christians in the ancient capital Anuradhapura and there was a Christian chapel used by the Persian merchants who came to Ceylon in around the 5th century. On 15 November 1505, a Portuguese fleet commanded by Lourenço de Almeida, having been driven by a storm to the shores of Sri Lanka, landed in Colombo. With the permission of the king of Kotte, Almeida erected a trade station and a small chapel in Colombo. The chapel was dedicated to St. Lawrence. Franciscan Friar Vicente, the chaplain of the fleet, celebrated Mass. This is the first record of a Catholic Mass on Sri Lankan soil. Over the next few centuries, Portuguese, Dutch, and Irish missionaries spread the religion in Sri Lanka, most notably on the western and northwestern coast, where in some places Catholics are half the population.[4][5]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Two Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Ceylon in May 1853. They briefly labored in Galle and Colombo but could find neither a hall in which to preach nor a person to listen to their message, thanks largely to the influence of anti-Mormon tracts and newspaper articles. They remained in the country only a short time before returning to India. The Church’s next official contact with Sri Lanka was in August 1975, when two missionaries en route home from the Singapore Mission were assigned to stop in Sri Lanka to explore the prospects for initiating missionary work. They reported favorably. The Sri Lanka Branch (a small congregation) was organized in March 1978 with Reginald Rasiah as president. The Church was officially registered in March 1979. Total Church Membership: 1,597. Congregations: 4. [6]

Methodist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka is a Protestant Christian denomination in Sri Lanka. Its Headquarters is in Colombo and was established on 29 June 1814. [7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Sri Lanka", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lanka, accessed 31 March 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Sri Lanka", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Sri_Lanka, accessed 31 March 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Church of Ceylon", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Ceylon, accessed 31 March 2020.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Sri Lanka", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Sri_Lanka, accessed 31 March 2020.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in Sri Lanka", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_Sri_Lanka, accessed 31 March 2020.
  6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: Sri Lanka, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/Sri-Lanka, accessed 31 March 2020.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Methodist Church in Sri Lanka", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methodist_Church__in_Sri_Lanka, accessed 31 March 2020.