I’ve previously written about how Charles Austen, Jane Austen’s brother was buried at Trincomalee. Given that we half intend to go back for a second journey next year, I thought I’d research the grave location – a suitably morbid thing to do on a lunchtime.
The problem is that there are two Christian cemeteries, one at Dockyard Road (now renamed Kachcheri Road) and one at RC Cemetery Road. Neither are by the sea despite their names. The one in RC Cemetery Road may of course be the Catholic cemetery and the other for Anglicans and other interlopers.
The real trouble is that the sources are confused and some say that Charles Austen was buried in the old general Cemetery near St Stephens Church. Wikipedia refers to his place of burial as the Esplanade cemetery, as does the UK National Maritime museum. Google maps suggests the burial ground on RC Cemetery Road as the Esplanade cemetery and the Dockyard Road burial ground as St Stephen’s
Basically, I either need to go and look, or alternatively hunt through some old colonial period maps of Trinco, or some combination of the two to resolve this.
In the middle of trying to sort this out I discovered by pure happenstance that Percy Molesworth, a founding memeber f the British Astronomical Association and the discoverer of a massive storm in Jupiter’s Southern Hemisphere lived and worked in Trinco and is again buried in the General Cemetery.
Molesworth’s observatory is long gone, and his telescope was moved the the University of Colombo after his death in 1908.
And this of course is the thing, this history is part of the history of colonial times and consequently neglected by both Sri Lanka and Britain, but both burials tell a story not only of the spread ad influence of Britain in the nineteenth century, but also how as a result of improving communications links an astronomer in Trincomalee could participate in research half a world away
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