Herwald Ramsbotham
1949 - 1952
AfterSir Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke
1954 - 1962
AfterWilliam Gopallawa
1962 - 1972
Sir Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke
Governors-General | British - (1954 - 1962)
Sir Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, GCMG, KCVO, KBE (Sinhala:ශ්‍රිමත් ඔලිවර් ගුණතිලක) (20 October 1892 – 17 December 1978) was an important figure in the gradual independence of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from Britain, and became the third Governor-General of Ceylon (1954-1962). He was the first Ceylonese individual to hold the vice-regal post.
 
Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke was born 20 October 1892, fifth child and only son of Alfred Goonetilleke, postmaster at Trincomalee in the northeast of Ceylon. He was educated at Wesley College, Colombo, and served there as an assistant teacher for a short time before joining a bank and there after joining government service of the crown colony of Ceylon as a railway auditor and then went on to become its Auditor-General. He served as Chairman of the Salaries and Cadres Commission also.
 
He was married to Esther (née Jayawardena) and had three children, Joyce, Shiela and Ernie.
 
By the 1930s Ceylon was increasingly self-governing in internal matters, and Goonetilleke rose through the administration. With the coming of World War II and the likelihood that Ceylon would face military threat from Japan, Goonetilleke was placed at the head of a new Civil Defence Department as Civil Defence Commissioner in the War Cabinet of Ceylon, a move that proved to be justified when air raids on Colombo and other cities began in the spring of 1942. Sir Ivor Jennings, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ceylon, served as Goonetilleke's deputy, and the two worked closely with D. S. Senanayake, the minister of Agriculture and Lands. Those three, the brains trust of the Ceylon government in their time, were nicknamed "the Breakdown Gang" as they began to talk about much besides civil defence, including the steps that might be taken to move Ceylon to complete independence after the War. Eventually they were the leaders who brought the project to fruition, with independence for Ceylon on 4 February 1948, when Senanayake became Prime Minister.
 
In 1947 when the first cabinet of ministers was formed with Senanayake as Prime Minister, Sir Oliver, who had been appointed to the Senate of Ceylon after resigning from the public service, became the Minister of Home Affairs and Rural Development. He later resigned and was appointed the first High Commissioner of the United Kingdom. On his return to Ceylon he became the Leader of the Senate and the Minister of Food and Agriculture.
 
Sir Oliver Goonetilleke left the Governor-General's post on 2 March 1962 and led a retired life in London soon after an attempted military coup as some of the Crown witnesses tried to link him and former Prime Ministers, Dudley Senanayake and Colonel Sir John Kotelawala, with the conspiracy. Although this was never proven Sir Oliver Goonetilleke resigned and went into self-imposed exile in Britain. He also became both sufficiently affluent and sufficiently familiar with British business affairs to become an Underwriting Member of Lloyd's of London, the famous reinsurance house in London. He married Phyllis Miller, who was the secretary of the Soulbury Commission, whom he had befriended during the period of the Commission circa 1944, and lived near Marble Arch at 14, Albion Gate.
 
He died in Sri Lanka after a brief illness in 1978. A biography under the title 'OEG' was written by Charles Joseph Jeffries, and memorials to Goonetilleke include a six-foot bronze statue by sculptor Tissa Ranasinghe, commissioned by his family and installed in 1967 at a major roundabout in Colombo.
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