Sir Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke
1954 - 1962
AfterWilliam Gopallawa
1962 - 1972 | 1972 - 1978 |
Ended
-
William Gopallawa
Governors-General | British - (1962 - 1972)
William Gopallawa (Sinhala: විලියම් ගොපල්ලව, Tamil: வில்லியம் கோபள்ளவா), MBE (17 September 1897 – 31 January 1981) was the last Governor-General of Ceylon from 1962 to 1972 and became the first (non-executive) President of Sri Lanka when Ceylon declared itself a republic in 1972 and changed its name to Sri Lanka. Until 1972, Ceylon was a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state and Queen of Ceylon. He was well known as an austere, nonpartisan and statesmanlike figure who commanded the respect of all political parties.
 
He represented an era where politics was conducted with a dignified aura and he had a reputation as being a man of integrity and humility. He served as Governor-General during the tenure of different governments headed by the SLFP led regime of Sirimavo Bandaranaike and the UNP led regime of Dudley Senanayake. He upheld the law and the constitution to the letter and won respect and admiration of all political parties.
 
William Gopallawa was born on 17 September 1897 at the Dullewe Maha Walauwa, Dullewe in the Matale District of Ceylon. He is related to Dullewe Dissava, a signatory on behalf of the Sinhalese to the Kandiyan Convention of 1815, by his mother Tikiri Kumarihamy Dullewe. His father, Tikiri Bandara Gopallaw died when he was three years old.[1]
 
He received his primary education at the Dullewe village school and at St. John's College, Kandy. He continued his secondary education at Dharmaraja College, Kandy where he was a well known Scout and later moved to St.Anthony’s College, Kandy.[1] After having sat the Cambridge Senior Certificate Examination in 1917 he returned to his home town Matale and joined as the tutorial staff of Buddhist English School, Matale (now Vijaya College) and was also instrumental in setting up a library and a scout troop for the benefit of the students there. In 1920 William joined the Ceylon Law College, Colombo and was enrolled as a Proctor and Notary Public in 1924. He was in active practice in Matale, Dumbara and Kandy from 1924 until he took up duties as Municipal Commissioner, Kandy in 1939.
 
In 1962, he was called back to Ceylon, after his son in law's sister, the then prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike nominated Gopallawa as Governor-General of Ceylon following Sir Oliver Goonetilleke's implication in the attempted military coup earlier that year. He was the second Ceylonese Governor-General and the first Buddhist to hold the post as the representative of Queen Elizabeth II who was the Head of State. Gopallawa served in this capacity until 1972.
 
His constitutional decision to invite the UNP which won the majority of Parliamentary seats in the 1965 general election, (but not enough for an absolute majority) is heralded as a landmark moment where he respected the nation's constitution and its people's wishes more than the wishes of the defeated SLFP government (that appointed him as GG) which wanted him to delay inviting the winning party to form the government. It averted a major crisis of leadership.
 
When Ceylon became the Republic of Sri Lanka on 2 March 1972, Gopallawa became the first President. He stepped down from office in February 1978 when then Prime Minister Junius Richard Jayewardene became President following constitutional changes that effected the creation of an executive Presidency.
 
Gopallawa married Seelawathie Rambukwella Gopallawa;they had 5 children. He was survived by 4 children out of 5. One died early on while he was still working in Matale. His eldest daughter Chandrika Iranganie married Dr. Mackie Ratwatte, the private secretary and a brother of Sirimavo Bandaranaike. His oldest son Asoka is a highly successful entrepreneur businessman,His Second daughter Chinthamani, was a teacher and landed proprietor and his youngest son Monty Gopallawa who died in 2005 was a very popular member of parliament and an affable cabinet minister in the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga (daughter of Sirimavo Bandaranaike). He had 13 grandchildren; Chandhaka, Dhammika, Mano, Anushka, Devika, Avanthi, Sureka, Lehka, Shiranthani, Ashani, Mahen, Shanika and Dilani
RULERS
Military Governors
1. Patrick Alexander Agnew1795 - 1796
2. James Stuart1796 - 1797
3. Welbore Ellis Doyle1797 - 1797
4. Peter Bonnevaux1797 - 1797
5. Pierre Frederic de Meuron1797 - 1798
Resident Superintendent
1. Robert Andrews1796 - 1798
British Governors
1. Frederick North1798 - 1805
2. Thomas Maitland1805 - 1811
3. John Wilson1811 - 1812
4. Robert Brownrigg1812 - 1820
5. Edward Barnes1820 - 1822
6. James Campbell1822 - 1824
7. Edward Paget1822 - 1822
8. Edward Barnes1824 - 1831
9. John Wilson1831 - 1831
10. Robert Wilmot-Horton1831 - 1837
11. James Alexander Stewart-Mackenzie1837 - 1841
12. Colin Campbell1841 - 1847
13. The Viscount Torrington1847 - 1850
14. James Emerson Tennent1847 - 1847
15. Charles Justin MacCarthy1850 - 1850
16. George William Anderson1850 - 1855
17. Charles Justin MacCarthy1855 - 1855
18. Henry George Ward1855 - 1860
19. Charles Justin MacCarthy1860 - 1863
20. Charles Edmund Wilkinson1860 - 1860
21. Henry Frederick Lockyer1860 - 1860
22. Terence OBrien1863 - 1865
23. Hercules Robinson1865 - 1872
24. Henry Turner Irving1872 - 1872
25. William Henry Gregory1872 - 1877
26. James Robert Longden1877 - 1883
27. Arthur Hamilton-Gordon1883 - 1890
28. John Douglas1883 - 1883
29. Arthur Elibank Havelock1890 - 1895
30. Edward Noel Walker1895 - 1896
31. Joseph West Ridgeway1896 - 1903
32. Everard Fim Thurn1903 - 1903
33. Henry Arthur Blake1903 - 1907
34. Henry Edward McCallum1907 - 1913
35. Hugh Clifford1907 - 1907
36. Reginald Edward Stubbs1913 - 1913
37. Robert Chalmers1913 - 1915
38. Reginald Edward Stubbs1915 - 1916
39. John Anderson1916 - 1918
40. William Henry Manning1918 - 1925
41. Reginald Edward Stubbs1918 - 1918
42. Cecil Clementi1925 - 1925
43. Edward Bruce Alexander1925 - 1925
44. Hugh Clifford1925 - 1927
45. Arthur George Murchison Fletcher1927 - 1928
46. Herbert Stanley1928 - 1931
47. Graeme Thomson1931 - 1933
48. Bernard Henry Bourdillon1931 - 1931
49. Graeme Tyrrell1933 - 1933
50. Reginald Edward Stubbs1933 - 1937
51. Maxwell MacLagan Wedderburn1937 - 1937
52. Andrew Caldecott1937 - 1944
53. Henry Monck-Mason Moore1944 - 1948
Ceylonese Executive Councils
British Kings
1. King George III1760 - 1820
2. King George IV1820 - 1830
3. King William IV1830 - 1837
4. Queen Victoria1837 - 1901
5. King Edward VII1901 - 1910
6. King George V1910 - 1936
7. King Edward VIII1936 - 1936
8. King George VI1936 - 1948
WORKS
PHOTO GALLERY