George Bird - coffee planter (1790 - 1857)
His obituary in the Morning Chronicle provided by the Colombo Observer. He died 1st March 1857.
DEATH OF THE OLDEST EUROPEAN COFFEE PLANTER IN CEYLON
We regret to have to record the demise of Mr George Bird, of Kondesally, of chronic diarrhoea (sic). Mr G. Bird accompanied his brother, the late Col. Bird, to Ceylon in the year 1823, with the view of settling in this country as an agriculturist; and under the auspices of the late Sir Edward Barnes he commenced and carried on a coffee plantation at Gampola, in partnership with his brother, who was carried off by cholera in Colombo in 1829.
This undertaking was the first attempt to introduce into Ceylon the cultivation of coffee by Europeans, and like the Pioneers in many similar undertakings the original introducers were unsuccessful in their efforts.
Mr Bird afterwards cultivated an estate at Kondesally, in conjunction with the house of Messrs. Ackland Boyd and Co., but the financial difficulties that so seriously affected all Ceylon interests compelled him again to abandon his undertaking.
For a third time he planted an estate with Mesars. Tindall of London in the unfavourable district of Ambegamoa, but being, from age and infirmities, no longer able to sustain the fatigue and exposure of a planter's life, he retired
(after upwards of thirty years hard work) to his old residence at Kondesally, from whence, exhausted by long protracted illness, he recently removed to the house of his nephew in Kandy.
Thus though the earliest, he was one of the most unsuccessful planters in Ceylon.
Mr Bird married, in 1828, Charlotte, daughter of the late Colonel Hook, by whom he had nine children, of whom seven are now living. He was afflicted by the loss of his wife in childbirth in the year 1842, and by that of two of his children at the same period, which afflictions, added to his disappointments, so pressed upon his spirits as to lay the seeds of the disease that ultimately caused his death.
He breathed his last on the night of the 1st March.
March 1, 1857— George Samuel Bird.
Sir James Campbell, then Lieutenant-Governor, gave encouragement to the proposed undertaking by promising a grant of land for the purpose, which was afterwards confirmed by Sir E. Barnes, and thus commenced that cultivation on the site of two ancient Kandyan palaces, Royal lands (Singapitiya and Weyanwatta), which has been of such importance to the subsequent history of our Island. The mode of cultivation adopted and the enormous protective duties then in favour of the British West India colonies rendered this and two other estates at Ganga Orowa' and Matalle, that soon followed the one at Gampola, equally unprofitable ; and Colonel Bird's death from cholera in 1829 so paralysed the operations at Gampola that Mr. George Bird was induced to abandon the property in 1833 and remove to Kondesally, and subsequently to Imbulpitiya in Oudabulatgama. After having been engaged in the production of coffee for 33 years, with singular want of success, he died in Kandy having been the means of
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