The first Church of England services were held on the island in 1796 and in 1818 missionaries were sent to Ceylon to spread the Gospel. Originally it had been part of the Dioceses of London & Calcutta and later the Diocese of Madras. In 1930 the Anglican Church in India separated from the Church of England and became the Province of India, Burma and Ceylon. The Diocese of Colombo was founded in 1845, as the diocese of the Church of England in Ceylon with the appointment of its first bishop, James Chapman. It was established by law in 1886.
In 1947, the churches of South India united to form the new Church of South India. The churches in North India and Pakistan followed soon after. Burma and Bangladesh formed their own churches. Sri Lanka, therefore, became extra-provincial within the Anglican Communion under the metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 1950 the Diocese of Kurunegala was formed out of the Diocese of Colombo to include parts of the North-Western, North-Central and Central Provinces of Sri Lanka. The Diocese of Kurunagala was legally recognised in 1972. Together the Diocese of Colombo and Kurunagala constitute the Church of Ceylon.