Robert Brownrigg

Sir Robert Brownrigg, Bt

1810 painting by Thomas Lawrence
3rd Governor of British Ceylon
In office
11 March 1812  1 February 1820
Preceded by John Wilson
acting governor
Succeeded by Edward Barnes
acting governor
10th General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
In office
Preceded by John Wilson
Succeeded by Alexander Cosby Jackson
Personal details
Born 1759
County Wicklow, Ireland

27 April 1833 (aged 7374)

Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales

Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank General
Commands General Officer Commanding, Ceylon

General Sir Robert Brownrigg, 1st Baronet, GCB (1759 27 April 1833) was a British statesman and soldier. Brownrigg brought the last part of Sri Lanka under British rule.

Military career

Brownrigg was commissioned as an ensign in 1775.[1] After service with the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot, he was appointed Military Secretary to the Duke of York in 1795, and accompanied him to The Helder in Holland in 1799.[1]

In 1803 he was appointed Quartermaster-General to the Forces.[2] In 1805 he was made Colonel of the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment and in July 1809, he joined the expedition to the Schelt.[1]

He left his post as Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1811, and then, in 1813, he was appointed Governor of Ceylon.[1] In 1815, he acquired the Kingdom of Kandy through an agreement with the help of defecting ministers of the Kandyan King, in the central region of the island, and annexed it to the British crown. The treaty was historically known as "Kandyan Convention".[1] In recognition of his achievement, Brownrigg was created a baronet in 1816.[1] T

Brownrigg fought the Great Rebellion of 1817–18 and managed to defeat that, aided by reinforcements from India.[1]

He attained the rank of full General in 1819 and left Ceylon the following year.[1]

The gilded bronze ancient Statue of Tara was reputedly found on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. It was acquired by Brownrigg, who later donated it to the British Museum when he was living near Monmouth in 1830.[3] This account however is rejected by the authorities in Sri Lanka who believe that Brownrigg took the statue from the last King of Kandy when the British annexed Kandy.[4]

Brownrigg died near Monmouth in 1833.[1]


In 1789, Brownrigg married Elizabeth Catharine Lewis and together they went on to have six sons and a daughter.[1] Then in 1810 he married Sophia Bissett.[1]


In 2011, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka initiated, at the country's Parliament, a formal revocation of Robert Brownrigg's Gazette Notification - under which participants of the Great Rebellion of 1817–18 had been condemned as “traitors” and their properties confiscated. Brownrigg's Gazette Notification was declared null and void, and all those he branded as “traitors” were declared to be National Heroes of Sri Lanka. A National Declaration was awarded on their behalf to their descendants on Republic Day of Sri Lanka, 22 May.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Powell, Geoffrey S. "Brownrigg, Sir Robert, first baronet (1759–1833)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3718. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. The London Gazette: no. 15566. p. 266. 12 March 1803. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  3. figure, Collection Online, British Museum, retrieved 9 December 2013
  4. Greenfield, Jeanette (1996). The return of cultural treasures (2nd ed.). [Cambridge]: Cambridge university press. p. 132. ISBN 0521477468.


 Stephens, Henry Morse (1886). "Brownrigg, Robert". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Military offices
Preceded by
New Post
Military Secretary
Succeeded by
William Clinton
Preceded by
Sir David Dundas
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir James Gordon
Preceded by
John Wilson
General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
Succeeded by
Alexander Cosby Jackson
Preceded by
Peter Hunter
Colonel of the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
Sir John Cameron
Government offices
Preceded by
John Wilson
acting governor
Governor of Ceylon
Succeeded by
Edward Barnes
acting governor
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
Succeeded by
Robert Brownrigg
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