Esmond’s almost lifelong commitment to the UNP can be seen as part of a family tradition, for his father Cyril had been D S Senanayake’s right hand man when the latter was Minister of Agriculture, first as Government Agent at Anuradhapura to supervise the seminal Minneriya scheme, and later as Land Commissioner when he moved to Colombo and into Lakmahal. The two families were close, and they had also been friendly with the Wijewardenes, the owners of Lake House. For years the page at which the old Visitors’ Book at Yala had stood open was the one that recorded a visit of D S and his wife, Cyril and Esme, and D R Wijewardene and his wife.
It was probably therefore to the entire satisfaction of both sets of parents that in 1944 Esmond, having sown his wild oats, married Nalini, the eldest daughter of D R Wijewardene. He had qualified as a lawyer by then, having entered university at the tender age of 17, the year the family moved into Lakmahal. Having obtained a first class in history, he then turned to the law, in which he would doubtless have excelled had D R not summoned him in to look after Lake House.