St. John's College, Jaffna

St. John's College
பரி. யோவான் கல்லூரி
St John's College Jaffna crest.png
Main Street, Chundikuli


Coordinates 9°39′27.90″N 80°01′36.90″E / 9.6577500°N 80.0269167°E / 9.6577500; 80.0269167Coordinates: 9°39′27.90″N 80°01′36.90″E / 9.6577500°N 80.0269167°E / 9.6577500; 80.0269167
School type Private 1AB
Motto Latin: Lux in Tenebris Lucet
(Light Shines in the Darkness)
Religious affiliation(s) Christianity
Denomination Anglicanism
Founded 1823; 197 years ago (1823)
Founder Rev. Joseph Knight
School district Jaffna Education Zone
Authority Church of Ceylon
School number 1001029
Principal V. S. B. Thuseetharan
Headmaster A. H. Gnanarajan
Head teacher V. Kumanan
Chaplain Rev. Jurinesz Shadrach
Teaching staff 95
Grades 1-13
Gender Boys
Age range 5-18
School roll 2,130
Language Tamil, English
Houses Handy (green)
Johnstone (blue)
Pargiter (red)
Peto (purple)
Thompson (yellow)
Knight block, St. John's College, Jaffna, Sri Lanka (2010).jpg
Knight block

St. John's College (Tamil: பரி. யோவான் கல்லூரி Ceṉ. Yōvāṉ Kallūri, SJC) is a private school in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.[1] Founded in 1823 by British Anglican missionaries, it is one of Sri Lanka's oldest schools.[2][3]


In 1817 the Anglican Church Mission Society (CMS) approved the establishment of missions in Ceylon.[4] On 20 December 1817 four clergymen – Joseph Knight, Samuel Lambrick, Robert Major and Benjamin Ward – and their wives left England and sailed to Ceylon on board the Vittoria.[4] They arrived in late June 1818.[4] Knight went to Jaffna, Lambrick went to Colombo, Major and his wife went to Galle and Ward and his wife to Trincomalee.[4] Knight started his missionary work in 1818 in Nallur.[4]

The Nallur English Seminary was established in March 1823 by Knight.[5][6] The school had only 7 students and was located in Knight's bungalow. In 1845 the school was relocated to Chundikuli and renamed the Chundikuli Seminary.

In the same year the Church Mission Society took over the old Portuguese St. John the Baptist church. In 1846 the school moved into a hall next to the church.[7] The church was demolished in 1859 and replaced by the current church.[8]

The school was renamed St. John's College in 1891.[9] The free education system was introduced by the government in 1945 but SJC chose to remain outside the system.[5] In 1951 SJC joined the free education system.[5] Most private schools in Ceylon were taken over by the government in 1960 but SJC chose to remain as a private and non-fee levying school.[5]

SJC's principal C. E. Anandarajah was shot dead on 26 June 1985 in Jaffna.[10] It is alleged that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam assassinated Anandarajah for organising a cricket match with the Sri Lankan military.[11]

Big Match

SJC play Jaffna Central College in annual cricket match known as the Battle of the North or the Battle of the Blues.[12][13][14] The first match took place in 1904.[15][16]



  • 1823-1825 Rev. Joseph Knight
  • 1825-1839 Rev. W. Adley
  • 1839-1841 Rev. F. W. Taylor
  • 1841-1846 Rev. I. T. Johnstone
  • 1846-1866 Rev. R. Pargiter
  • 1866-1874 Rev. T. Good
  • 1874-1878 Rev. D. Wood
  • 1878-1879 Rev. E. Blackmore
  • 1879-1889 Rev. G. T. Fleming
  • 1889-1892 Rev. C. C. Handy (Acting)
  • 1892-1895 Rev. J. W. Fall
  • 1895-1899 Rev. I. Carter
  • 1899-1900 Rev. R. W. Ryde
  • 1900-1919 Rev. Jacob Thomson
  • 1919 Rev. K. C. Mc Pherson (Acting)
  • 1920-1940 Rev. Henry Peto
  • 1940-1957 Rev. J. T. Arulanantham[18]
  • 1957-1959 P. T. Mathai
  • 1959-1966 A. W. Rajasekeram
  • 1967-1976 K. Pooranampillai[19]
  • 1976-1985 C. E. Anandarajah[20]
  • 1985-1987 T. Gunaseelan
  • 1987 K. Pooranampillai
  • 1988-1993 Dr. E. S. Thevasagayam[21][22]
  • 1990-1993 S. Thanapalan (Acting)
  • 1993-2006 S. Thanapalan
  • 2006-2019 Rev. N. J. Gnanaponrajah
  • 2019 Ven. Samuel J. Ponniah (Acting)
  • 2020- V. S, B. Thuseetharan

Notable alumni

Name Notability Reference
D. J. Ambalavanar Bishop of Jaffna (Church of South India) (1971–1993) [23]
C. E. Anandarajah Principal St. John's College, Jaffna (1976–1985) [20]
J. T. Arulanantham Principal St. John's College, Jaffna (1940–1957) [18]
K. D. Arulpragasam Vice-Chancellor Eastern University (1986–1996) [24]
S. Arumugam Director of Irrigation, author [25]
Y. Balaretnarajah Major general Chief of the Defence Staff (1992) [26][27]
Nishan Canagarajah Pro-vice-chancellor University of Bristol (2014–present) [28]
S. J. V. Chelvanayakam leader Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi/Tamil United Liberation Front, member parliamentKankesanthurai (1947–1952, 1956–1977) [29]
R. R. Crossette-Thambiah Solicitor General (1950–1951) [30]
Alfred Duraiappah member parliamentJaffna (1960–1965), Mayor of Jaffna (1970–1975) [31][32]
M. K. Eelaventhan member parliamentNational List (2004–2007) [33]
Rajan Hoole academic, human rights activist [34]
Ratnajeevan Hoole academic, professor electrical engineering [35]
Clarence Jey musician, songwriter, record producer
Visakan Kadirkamanathan academic, professor signal & information processing [36]
S. Kulendran Bishop of Jaffna (Church of South India) (1947–1970)
K. C. Logeswaran Governor of Western Province (2015–present) [37][38]
T. Maheswaran member parliamentColombo (2004–2008) [39]
C. Nagalingam acting Governor-General (1954), acting Chief Justice (1954), Attorney General (1946–1947) [40]
Satchi Ponnambalam Puisne JudgeSupreme Court of Belize (1985–1993), Chief Magistrate of Belize, Senior State Advocate of Zambia [41]
V. Ponnampalam Gate Mudaliyar, President of the Jaffna Co-operative Bank [42]
Nadarajah Raviraj member parliamentJaffna (2001–2006), Mayor of Jaffna (2001) [43][44]
Sam A. Sabapathy Mayor of Jaffna (1949, 1952–1955) [45]
R. R. Selvadurai Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice (1951–1955) [46]
Maithripala Senanayake member parliamentMedawachchiya (1947–1989), Governor of North Central Province (1994–1998) [47][48]
R. Sivagurunathan journalist, editor – Thinakaran (1961–1994) [49][50][51]
C. Suntharalingam member parliamentVavuniya (1947–1960) [52]
Henry Thambiah Supreme Court Judge (1960–1972) [53]
C. J. T. Thamotheram educationist [54][55]
S. Vithiananthan vice-chancellor University of Jaffna (1979–1988) [37]
Dingiri Bandara Welagedara member parliamentKurunegala, Governor of North Central Province (1988–1989) [56][57]
V. Yogeswaran member parliamentJaffna (1977–1983) [58]

See also

Other Languages