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Sir Robert Wilmot Horton (Governor of Ceylon) 1831-1837

Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, Baronet (B.A.) was born on the 21st December 1784. He was educated at Eton College and Christchurch College, Oxford. Sir Wilmot was also a Member of the Parliament for Newcastle (1818-1830) Under Secretary of State for Colonies (1821) in the Liberal Government of Lord Liverpool.

Knighted on 22nd June 1831, He served as the Governor of Ceylon from 1831 to October 1837. He resigned as Governor a year before his term expired. He succeeded to the Baronetcy on the death of his father Sir Robert Wilmot. Governor Horton died on 31st May 1841 at Sudbury Park England.

Sir Wilmot's wife Anne Beatrix- according to accounts was one of the most beautiful women of that time, had a poem written about her by Lord Byron. The first few lines of "SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY"

She walks in beauty, like the Night,
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright,
Meets in her aspect, and her eyes.

Sir Robert Wilmot (Jnr) was the only son of Sir Robert Wilmot, Baron of Asmaston in Derbyshire by his first wife Juliane Elizabeth, second daughter of Hon. James Byron. Sir Robert Wilmot (Jr.) married Anne Beatrix, eldest daughter of Eusebius Horton of Catton, Derbyshire. Anne Beatrix the beautiful heiress was a cousin of Lord Byron the famous Poet. Sir Robert Wilmot assumed the name Horton by Royal licence on 8th May 1807 in compliance with the Last Will of his father-in-law. M.Wilmot, Horton's half-brother by his father's first wife was in the Ceylon Civil Service before Horton's arrival as Governor. He served as Government Agent Southern Province. Horton's cousin E.P.Wilmot was a District Judge.

Governor Horton, a liberal according to the standards at that time, originated many new measures recommended by the Colebroke-Cameron Commission. These included:

• Inauguration of Ceylon's First Legislative Council and Executive Committee (all nominated by the Governor).
The first meeting of the Unofficial Legislative Council is dated to the 1st of October 1833 presided by the Governor Sir William Horton.
• Abolished Compulsory Labour - abandoning Governments claims to free service.
• Right to private property and temples were left untouched.
• Abolished government's monopoly of the Cinnamon Trade (1833) (which came down from Dutch times).
• He ruled that Moors and Malabars (Tamils) had the right to own houses and land in Fort & Pettah which was earlier forbidden by the Dutch.
• Started the First Newspaper (Colombo Journal) published in 1832.
• Started the FIRST MAIL COACH in Asia-the passenger and Postal Service to Kandy (earlier carriage was by palanquin and Bullock Carts).
• Government interest in Higher Education took concrete shape with the formation of the Schools Commission
(1834) and he instituted the First Government School in the Island- THE COLOMBO ACADEMY.
• Ceylon Savings Bank established

• Cricket Club formed in Colombo (1832).