Newstead Girls’ College, Negombo is the oldest existing girls’ college and the third oldest public school in Sri Lanka, founded by Wesleyan ministers in 1815-1816.
Methodist missionaries founded the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School in 1815, with Muhandiram L.E.Pereira as the head master. In September 1816, a regular school was established with the Rev. Don Daniel Pereira as the schoolmaster. On 17 September 1817, the Rev. Robert Newstead was appointed the first resident Minister of Negombo and the Dutch bungalow, which later came to be known as the Mission House was bought that same year.
In January 1818, a girls’ school was proposed. In 1820, with the completion of the Wesleyan church, the Mission House was fully released for the school.
In 1883, the original cadjan classrooms were replaced by a permanent building. In 1895 the vernacular school was upgraded to the status of an English school.
In 1911 the school was transformed into the Wesleyan Girls English High School. In 1916 Claribel Beven became the first girl to get through the Elementary School Leaving Certificate Examination and in 1917 the first woman missionary principal, A. D. Dixon, was appointed.
In 1919 the school was renamed ‘Newstead’ after the first resident Minister of Negombo. In 1951, Newstead became an assisted school in terms of the Free Education Act of 1944. In 1962 the School was vested in the government, ending a period of 147 years during which the school was run by the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society.