Santiago Thomas de Silva, one of the greatest son of Ambalangoda was born on the 27th of February 1868 at Patabandimulla,Ambalangoda.The father of this illustrious son was Mr.SantiagoEndoris de Silva of Vilegoda while the mother was Mrs.ManimelwaduPunchibaba who lived at Patabendimulla.Thomas de Silva was the fifth in the family with four elder brothers and two younger sisters.
Unlike his elder brothers,Thomas de Silva evinced a keen interest in his studies and was admitted to the school at the Weslian Church at Randombe which happened to be the only school at that time.There were classes in both English and Sinhalese and Thomas de Silva opted to study in English.His elder brothers were well to do people engaged in work related to architecture.Thomas de Silva,who showed signs of a brilliant student was removed from the Weslian School and admitted to Richmond College Galle where he was boarded in the hostel.
During his period of study at Richmond College this illustrious son of Ambalangoda exhibited outstanding skills and was a shining star of the college.He won the hearts of all the teachers as the best student and passed the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1885, winning prizes for a number of subjects.As Thomas de Silva passed the Senior Cambridge Examination with flying colours,the governing body of Richmond College made arrangements to absorb him to the tutorial staff in 1887.During this period he entered Wesly College Colombo to read for an arts degree at the Calcutta University which he successfully completed in 1889.After completing his studies he joined the Government Service and was attached to the KalutaraKachcheri as a fiscal. Because of the very high standard of his knowledge of English and Sinhalese.The higher officers engaged him as an interpreter.As he performed the same duty in the courts.People used to address him as Mudliar.(In the courts,the interpreter was known as the as Mudliar)
It was in this manner that he became a Mudliar,getting the honour and respect from the common man instead from the foreign rules.At the time this educated youth was a government servant at Kalutara,he got the attention of Mrs.SelesthinaDias,the widow of the late Mr.Jeranius Dias who lived at Panadura.This resulted in the marriage of her daughter Alan Mary with this youth who later had two sons namely Dunstan and Osmond.(Osmond de Silva became the inspector General of Police later)
After the marriage, Thomas de Silva turned his attention towards the plantation industry. As the rubber industry was a very lucrative one those days, he bought lands at Kegalle,Rathnapura, Kalutara and Galle and engaged himself in that. The untimely death of his wife in 1910 forced him to spend a very miserable period in his life.
Coming to Ambalangoda to reside permanently after the death of his wife, he focused his attention to a different field and that was to start a new English School at Ambalangoda.It is apparent that even before he has had connections with the education at Ambalangoda.The Sinhalese and English schools started by the SugathaSasanodaya Society had been handed over to the Buddhist Theosophical Society, Colombo in 1902. As far as records show that Mudliar has been the Regional Manager of the two schools and the president of the SugathaSasanodaya Society as well.
For some reason or other, in 1913 the Mudliar started a new rival school against the Buddhist English High School, managed by the Buddhist Theosophical Society with four regional managers and this was located in a house near the Ambalangoda railway station.This was named as DharmasokaCollege.In the same year the Mudliar spending his personal wealth completed a building; It had been started by the local managers for the Buddhist English School,and work abandoned half way.Then he established the new school at this venue which is the present Dharmasokapermises. Although a case was filed in courts against this, the verdict was in favor of the Mudliar.
As there was a dispute between the two schools, it could not be registered. Bringing about a settlement to this rivalry, the two schools were amalgamated in 1914 and continuedasDharmasokaCollege.WhileMudliar Thomas de Silva became the principal cum Manager, Mr.N.B.Wimalasuriya of the old school was appointed as the head master.
The Mudliar continued as the principal until Mr.AbeseelaGinige took over as the principal in 1920.There after the Mudliar acted as the manager until he passed away on the 10th of April 1929.
From the very inception, the Mudliar spending his personal money for the furniture, teachers’ salaries and equipment etc.of the school acted with great dedication and commitment regarding the development of the institution.Due to the economic crisis he had to face in nineteen twenties, he was compelled not only to sell some of his properties but to mortgage some land that belonged to him.Ultimately he had mortgage the huge house where he lived.Amidst all these difficulties and grievances he bore the brunt of the development of Dharmasoka College.
The effort of this great man who discarded all worldly pleasures to create a universal seat of learning at Ambalangoda should be commended and it is the bounden duty of all of us to see that his services are cherished forever.