Monday, 30 December 2013

Mr. Hutchinson at Anjengo, 1796 and his families later claims on the Travancore Royal family.




Anjengo in the 1790's.
 
 
The period from 1760 until about 1790 had been exceptionally profitable for many of the senior East India Company officials.  They had been able to make huge sums of money from private trade, accepting bribes, commission and through lending money out to Rajah's.  This had become a matter of huge concern in Britain, where the existing political establishment was finding its position threatened by the returning Nabobs, who had become wealthy enough to challenge the status quo. 

Following the trial of Warren Hastings and the official enquiries into the loans to Arcot steps were taken by government to try to limit the opportunities for private gain amongst East India Company officials.
 
This was aim was relatively easy to achieve in the major settlements like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, however it would prove much more difficult to achieve in remote locations like Anjengo and Tellicherry. Much of the political and physical conflict on the Malabar Coast from 1790 until 1809 can be traced directly to the corrupting effect that EIC officials like John Hutchinson, Torin and Murdoch Brown were having.
 
Anjengo was one of the first settlements by the British in India, and was often the first, or very last stop by East Indiamen travelling to or from India.  It was frequently used as an outpost for the leaving of messages warning shipping of the event of war in India or Europe.
 
John Hutchinson, filled the office of Commercial Resident at Anjengo from 1782 until 1797.
 
Walter Ewer visited Anjengo in 1796 and wrote the following interesting report about the situation there.
 
Anjengo belongs to the Company, some of the Pepper is shipped off from thence; Iron other articles are sold here by the Resident on account of the company. I should be glad to see the event of my Tillicherry Investment, before I propose any alteration here. Indeed, an alteration wou’d be no easy matter, the Resident, Mr. Hutchinson being a very singular man. His salary is only 200 & odd Rupees, per month; he has made a very large Fortune by Trade saving; he once had the whole to himself but now the Rajah has got it all. I really think there ought not to be such a Difference between the two commercial Residents that the Anjengo ought to have the same Commission as the Tillicherry one, he has exactly the same Trouble weighing & shipping, & more in procuring it. He has a Commission on the Piece Goods, but the allowances of a station are far short of the consequence of it. Another will not find the same advantages Mr. H. has, by which means, there is a Risk of its falling to a junior servant, which will be very detrimental to the interests of the Company. I wou’d not however recommend an alteration in Mr. H’s time, he having made quite sufficient already. But, altho’ he has had the good luck to amass some how or other, an immense Fortune, his assistant Mr. Dyne, though honour’d with the Title of joint Factor, after 7 years service, has only 140 Rup’s per Month, without any other advantage; this is absolutely starving, he must quit the station, as there is not a writer of this year but has more. many of his juniors in the service have several Thousand Rupees per annum. This Gentleman with the Experience of some years resigning the Post, a Person quite ignorant of the Business, the weighing & shipping of the Pepper, will be sent to supply his place. Liable to be constantly imposed upon, by those who cut for the ships.
The retired situation & the great Distance from the Presidency, enable the Resident to exercise a Power over his Juniors, which wou’d not be submitted to in other places. Mr. Snow the other assistant has only got 90 Rupees per Month.
If I mistake not, the Court found fault with Mr H. for refusing to go into Council, they certainly ought not to have done so, for a more unfit man, they cou’d not have fixed upon. His long Residence, almost out of the World, independently of his singularity of Character, disqualify him totally for such a station.
[1]

John Hutchinson had been making the most of his situation, and was clearly amassing a substantial sum of money. 

He then in turn used this money to lend to the Travancore Royal family.  In time, and long after his death, these loans became subject to a court case in London, and were eventually investigated by a Select Committee of the House of Commons.


Martis, 10  die Aprilis, 1832.

Ordered,

That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the Allegations contained in the Petition of Mr. Bury Hutchinson, presented to The House on the 15th day of December 1831, complaining of the interference of the East India Company in preventing the payment of a Debt due from the Rajah of Travancore to Mr. John Hutchinson's Estate, and to report their observations thereupon to The House: And a Committee was appointed of—....

The select committee heard amongst a great deal of other evidence.. 
That during such Commercial Residency, a large debt became due to the said John Hutchinson, for money advanced by him to the Rajah of Travancore; and that all such money was advanced before the passing of the Act 37th George III. C. 142, by which loans from British Subjects to Native Princes were prohibited, unless made with the consent and approbation of the Court of Directors of the East India Company, or the Governor in Council, or one of the Company’s Governments in India:

and

"That in the year 1795 [the claims of the said John Hutchinson against the Rajah were inquired into, and examined at Travancore by] Mr. Duncan, then appointed Governor of Bombay, [who expressed himself fully satisfied with the justice of such Claims; and] by the desire of the Rajah, and in part payment of the balance due to the said Rajah from the Bombay Government, paid Mir. John Hutchinson, in 1796, upwards of four lacs of rupees, by bills of exchange drawn on the Honourable Company in his favour:
 
"That the said Rajah died in the year 1797,and the said John Hutchinson died a little earlier in the same year ; after which event certain officers of rank belonging to the nephew and successor of the said Rajah, were appointed by and on behalf of that Prince to investigate the matter of the aforesaid debt, in conjunction with George Parry, Esquire, the Company's then Resident at Anjengo, who acted, [with the permission of the Governor of Bombay], on behalf of the said John Hutchinson:
 
"That the Accounts were fully gone into by the said Referees who, after a lengthened examination of the vouchers and other proofs, finally declared, on the 13th March 1800, that a balance then was due to the estate of the said John Hutchinson, deceased, of the sum of Rupees 4,89,734. 3 qrs. 80 reas, and directed the payment thereof by instalments of the several amounts, and at the times mentioned in a written Paper or Certificate, dated the said 13th March 1800, and signed by the said Referees, and which Certificate the Rajah confirmed:
 
"That payments on account of the said balance to the amount of about R" 2,80,000 were made through the hands of the Company's Commercial Resident at Anjengo for the time being, [and, as Your Petitioner verily believes, with the sanction of the East India Company expressed by the proper authorities in India of the said Company:]
 
"[That the Debt so due from the Rajah to the said John Hutchinson as aforesaid was, in consequence of the repeated and vexatious interference of the Company's Political Resident at Travancore, subsequently inquired into and examined by the Marquis of Wellesley in 1804, by Sir George Barlow in 1806, and by Lord Minto in 1809, who were successively Governors General of India, and all of whom not only declared themselves fully satisfied with the justice of the said Debt, but sanctioned and directed its payment:]
 
The evidence can be read in full in Reports from Committees: Eighteen Volumes - Vol. V (Session 6 December 1831 ... from page 445 onwards, which is available on Google Books.

Thomas Baber had been in contact with the Travancore Royal family as far back as 1809, and possibly even earlier, and he had become sympathetic to their situation.  Members of the Travancore Royal family had visited him at Tellicherry in 1818.

It appears that at some point he began to advise the family on their rights under British law, and he may have assisted them to find lawyers in London.

After the death of Sir Thomas Munro, Thomas Baber who had been trying to bring in reforms fell foul of the new governor of Madras, Sir Stephen Lushington, who was far more reactionary.

Baber returned to Britain for the first time since 1797, to a rapidly changing political situation, where Reform was in the air.  He was soon giving evidence to committees of the House of Lords on the situation in India.

At some point he decided to return to India.  On the 22nd of February 1833, Thomas and Helen Baber sailed from Portsmouth on board the Herefordshire, a 1279 tonne East Indiaman, under Captain. E. Ford. The ship was bound for Bombay and Whampoa.  They arrived in Bombay on 11th June 1833, and almost immediately started writing to his many former Indian friends.

The EIC officials in India, were no longer allowed under the new India Act to control people coming out from Britain to India.  They had however decided to monitor very closely what Thomas Baber was doing in India. This included intercepting his post, and steaming open his letters.

A heated official correspondence started in which Thomas Baber was instructed to cease corresponding directly with Rajah's, and he was forced to provide lists of the Rajah's he had been corresponding with, and details of what he had been writing.

The letter below is particularly interesting because it illustrates how he was advising the Travancore Royal family on their rights under British law in respect to fighting the claims being made by the Hutchinson family against them for debts incurred as far back as 1797.



 
From T. H. Baber Esq.
                 Sea Grove at Bombay
To John Bax Esq.
                Secretary to Government
                       Political Department
                              Dated 3rd September 1833.
Sir, Your letter of the 31st Ultimo – Calling upon me to explain under what circumstances I was induced to write to the two Umma Tamburettees and to the young Rajah of Travancore, except through the channel of the Resident of that Court, reached me only this day, and I now hasten to reply to it, that the Right Honorable the Governor in Council may not, for a moment entertain the idea that, either in the matter of, or mode of addressing my native correspondence, there can be anything that I am not fully prepared to justify – or that Government could possibly object to.
                    Although I have not preserved copies of the many letters I have written since my return to this country, to the several Rajahs and other Chieftains,with whom I have been on terms of intimacy and have considered me, under all circumstances, their best, because disinterested, friend, and cannot call to mind the precise purport of my communications – I can have no hesitation in saying that the three letters in question were merely complimentary announcing the return of myself and family to this country and enquiring into their health etc.
               With the first of these Ladies Mawilikara Umma Tamburette, and her relation attinga Umm Tamburette, my acquaintance commenced as far back as the year 1810 (When the former’s son, the late Kerula Wirma Rajah, who had been adopted and raised to the Ellen Rajah (Heir Apparent) to the prejudice of the attinga Umma Tamburetta, was placed order of the Governor General in Council, under my immediate charge / and continued up to the period of my quitting Malabar in 1818, in which latter year, I had the gratification of receiving and providing accommodation for the Elder of these Ladies during a visit she paid me at Tellicherry.
                At this time as well as at the present I was divested of any Official Character such as to render it a duty incumbent upon me beyond Courtesy to show her these civilities – and I have yet to learn that, in so doing I have infringed any order, or rule of Etiquette, and in regard to the complimentary Letters, the Subject of your reference, I could never suppose that any restrictions the Government have no doubt for the best of reasons imposed upon correspondence between Europeans and Native Princes, could possibly be construed as applying to such a correspondence as the one in question and especially to so old a Civil Servant, who never has directly or indirectly had any transactions of a pecuniary nature with a Native Prince – Who never has received and never would receive a favour from any one of them, and above all, who has, thro’ life, set his face against all sorts of understandings between Europeans and Native Princes that in any way compromised the honor and character of British Government.
            With respect to the letter to the Rajah of Travancore, to the best of my recollections, I did allude to, or at least intended so to do, to the proceedings carrying on in Parliament relative to the long standing alleged Claim on the part of the Heirs of the late Mr Hutchinson Resident in Travankore, conjunctively with the Office of Commercial Resident in Travankore state for the sum of Two Lacks of Rupees and upwards, with interest from March 1800, and to which having paid very considerable attention having been in communication with the Chairman of the Court of Directors and moreover having been called and Examined before the Committee of the House of Commons, I found myself bound, by every principle of Justice to the Parties, as well as to the Honorable Company to acquaint them with the view and part I had taken, and in which, and for which, I had no other object or motive than, to discountenance all hopes of the Claimants being able to fix the responsibility of this dormant demand upon the Rajah of Travancore, or the Honorable Company and especially to counteract the most erroneous impressions in regard to the measures adopted by the Honorable Company.
            I have not preserved copies of my communications but the accompanying original letters from the two chairmen Sir Robert Campbell and Mr Ravenshaw, will be satisfactory to the Right Honorable the Governor in Council, that those authorities attached sufficient consequence to my information and my opinions, to deem them worthy of the Consideration of their standing Council and I have reason to believe that they did tend considerably to fortify the arguments of Mr Sergeant Spankie in his defence of the Honorable Company during that inquiry.  If necessary, I can also produce a document from the claimants themselves to show that from them I never concealed my candid sentiments of the utter hopelessness of their ultimate success, notwithstanding the strong disposition of the House of Commons in their favour.
        My letter to the Rajah of Travancore upon the same subject, has, it appears, been transmitted by the Madras, to this Government.  I will not enquire how and by what means this has been effected because it would be calling into question the acts of a Public Officer for whom I have the highest respect, I will therefore confine myself to observing, that I could not, consistently with my knowledge of the orders of the Honorable the Court of Directors to the Government of Fort St George in the Political Department dated 12th May 1824 “to abstain from all interference in the matters between parties, one way or the other” communicate thro’ the channel of the Resident, what it was, and is, of so much importance to the Travancore State to know, the events which have already, and are now taking place, in parliament with respect to the long standing and important demand upon it—and from whom could such a communication come with so much propriety as myself one who was totally independent of, or unconnected with both parties – but who at the same time had proved himself on various occasions, both in upholding the rights + of the present dynasty and in maintaining the Public tranquillity the staunchest and most disinterested of friends.
          If after this hurried explanation, the Right Honorable the Governor in Council of Madras should still think it open to objections my holding a correspondence with the Rajah of Travancore all I can do is bow to that decision, and at the same time to express my readiness to obey the directions of Government as to the disposal of the documents I have brought out with me from England, and which, I believe, compose all that has been done in Parliament Expressly for the information and use of the Travancore State.
                                                     I have the honor to be etc.
Bombay Sea Grove                                /signed/T.H. Baber
    3rd September 1833                                      C.S.
 
      + Mr Baber’s letter to the Resident of Travancore dated 1st Dec 1810
The Right Honourable the Governor General’s letter dated 9 Feb 1811
Hamilton’s Hindostan Quarto Edition 2nd Vol page 316
Coll Munro’s Public thanks in his letter dated 29th No 1812
Mr Secretary Hill’s letter dated 15th June & Numerous other documents
[2]


[1] Anjengo IOR/H/438 Papers of Walter Ewer Folio 205 onwards. [2] OIOC F/4/1460 (57461) folio 12 to 17.

Private Lappe's Providential Escape following the outbreak of the Pyche Raja Rebellion




It is only very rarely that we can get a glimpse into the lives of an ordinary soldier in India, let alone come across their individual names.

Here is the story of one such man, Private Lappe, who was extraordinarily lucky to survive a ferocious ambush at the outbreak of the war between the Pazhassi Rajah and the East India Company at Tellicherry.

The date that the actual battle took place is unclear, possibly before the 4th of November 1796, but certainly by the 18th of January 1797.  The following account however only appeared in the Sussex Advertiser many years later on Monday the 1st of September 1800.[1]

Had Private Lappe by that time been invalided home?

Perhaps he told his story to the local Sussex  reporter.

We will probably never know.

PROVIDENTIAL ESCAPE

A soldier, of the name of Lappe, who belonged to an European battalion, and who made his escape from the Jungle, after the action between a detachment of Europeans and Sepoys belonging to the Bombay Army, and the insurgents in the Cotiote country, has related the following" miraculous “ account of his gaining the British Military post, after the defeat of the detachment, given at Bombay, the 4th of November:—"I was shot, says Lappe) about noon, with a musket ball, in my right breast; and, to resist or escape being utterly impossible, as the only means left me to save my life, I threw myself down among the mortally wounded and the dead, without moving hand or foot. Here, in the evening, the Chief Surveying his conquest, ordered a Jamedar to begin instantly to dispatch those who were likely to survive. This fellow, having already killed Captain Bowman, and several other Europeans, left the remainder to die of themselves, or to fall a prey to the voraciousness of the wild creatures with which the Jungle abounds; for in places it is almost impenetrable. They then filed off to the right, towards the hills, carrying along with them five or six prisoners alive; I believe they were all Sepoys but one, with their hands tied behind their backs, of whom I never since have heard. When I apprehended these sanguinary rebels had entirely left the scene of action, it being very quiet, and rather dark, I found means, on my hands and feet, to creep out from among the carnage, for many men were killed that day by the Rajah's troops, owing to our force having been weakened by sending it in small detachments into the Jungle, where they had never before been, and the enemy firing at them in ambush, where it was impossible to trace them: I got at length at some distance from the place where I lay, and met another of our party, who was less wounded than myself, with whom, after some days wandering in torment and despair, not knowing which way to proceed for fear of being intercepted, we at last fortunately arrived at the military post, worn out with fatigue and the loss of blood, where, we understood, the account of the defeat had been received four days before.

The news slowly spread out from London to the regional towns of England and Scotland.  Many families with relations in India must have anxiously wondered what had been happening in the passing months, it took news to travel around the globe.

On Saturday 5th July 1797, readers in Norfolk came across the following report in their newspaper.

We learn from the Coast of Coromandel, that on the 18th of January [1797] the Rajah of the Cotiote had commenced hostilities against us, and that Captain Bowman and Lieutenant Bond, who had been sent to take possession of One of his strong holds, had, the perfidy of their guide, been led into defile, where they were both killed with most the Sepoys of their party. Captain Lawrence, who went to relief, was like wise led into a defile, from whence he fought his way to a pagoda, where passed the night and following day, till permitted to proceed with his party to Tillicherry. Captain Troy, on his return from a muster of the native troops, had been killed, and Captain Shean desperately wounded. Twenty-four Sepoys were killed, and 50 wounded and missing. General Stuart immediately appointed Major Anderson to march against the Rajah with 250 of the Bombay regiment, a detachment of light artillery, 1,000 Sepoys, and Mopals.

Over the following weeks, more details came out from Leadenhall Street. Readers of the Oxford Journal on Saturday the 29th of July 1797, were given more details about the outbreak started by the Pychy Rajah.

From the Madras Gazette, January 28. By letters from the Malabar coast of the 15th instant, we have been advertised of the revolt of the Cotiote Rajah on that coast, who is said to have commenced his refractory conduct on the 28th instant, by firing on a detachment of Sepoys under the command of Capt. Lawrence, in the neighbourhood of Cootiungarry. On the same day, Capt. Bowman and Lieut. Bond were sent with a detachment to take possession of a strong hold, near the last mentioned place, and were decoyed by an Hircarrah, employed on the occasion, into a narrow defile, where, a strong party of Nairs, in ambuscade, availing them selves of the disadvantageous situation of the detachment, and their mode of attack, beset the party with a ferocity peculiarly their own, when Captain Bowman and Lieutenant Bond were almost immediately overpowered and killed. Several Sepoys, it is also added, were killed and wounded on the spot. Captain Lawrence, on hearing the report of the musquetry, proceeded with all possible expedition, at the head of a body of grenadiers, towards the succour and support of Captain Bowman's detachment; but having experienced a similar breach of faith in his guide, was also attacked in the same defile, but after a warm and fortunate resistance effected his retreat, and took post in a Pagoda the whole night, and part of the next day, hemmed in by upwards of a thousand of the Rajah's troops. On the 9th, however, he was permitted to retire with his men to Tellicherry. In addition to the above melancholy relation, Captain Troy, who had been employed in mustering the native troops, and Captain Shean on his return from a visit, fell in with a party of these sanguinary savages, who having surrounded them, coolly and unprovokedly put the first to death, and wounded the latter in a shocking and barbarous manner. General Stuart, to whom the intelligence was sent to Cannanore, recommended to Major Anderson immediately to take the field to punish so daring an outrage. The force to be assembled for this purpose, will consist of 250 men of the Bombay regiment under the command of Captain Grammant. A detachment of artillery, with light guns, about one thousand Sepoys, together with a Corps of Mopals, consisting of about 200, raised expressly for the purpose of hunting and counteracting the Nairs in the woods and fortresses. The unhappy fate of so many officers, in being cut off from their friends' and relations, in this cruel and insidious manner, cannot be too much lamented; and provides a melancholy example of the inherent ferocity which has ever been the characteristic of the cast of Nairs.


[1] The Old Soldier's Story - Edward Bird (1772–1819), ca 1808.
[2] These reports and many more from British regional newspapers going back to 1700 are now available at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

Calicut Prison Break outs & Riots, 1802 to 1808



 


During the putting down of the Pazhassi Rajah's uprising and the associated outbreaks of resistance by the Moplahs to the presence of the East India Company in the Malabar, large numbers of Indian's were thrown into gaols in Calicut, Tellicherry and Canannore.

These gaols were run both directly by the East India Company and also by private gaolers would contracted with the EIC to run prisons.

The gaols were almost certainly highly over crowded and insanitary. The prisoners inside the gaols were actively in planning their escape and attempting to make prison break outs.

The following two accounts from Calicut in 1802 and 1808 describe events during these breakouts. It is not entirely clear exactly when these events took place.

Communications were often slow in those days. The first breakout probably took place in the months immediately before March 1803. The second event probably took place a year to 18 months before the news of the event appeared in the British papers.

The first breakout was yet another worry for the future Duke of Wellington as he was planning the concentration of his forces in the South of India for the campaign he was to fight later that year with the Mahrattas, and which would be capped with his victory at Assaye on the 23rd of September 1803.

Lieut. Stuart.

'Camp at Tuddus, 17th March, 1803

'I have received a letter from Colonel Montresor, from Calicut,of the 6th, from which I learn that the rebellion has spread much in Malabar, and that the rebels were in force not far from that place. The criminals confined in the gaol at Calicut had also got loose; sixty had made their escape, many were killed and some wounded in attempting it. The guard over the gaol had been surprised. Those people were chiefly rebels confirmed by Colonel Stevenson. 'I mislaid Colonel Montresor's letter yesterday evening, otherwise I should send it to you, but I have above stated the outlines of the information which it gives. I now enclose a letter which I have written to Colonel Montresor upon this subject, and if you should approve the directions it contains, I beg you will allow it to be forwarded to him. In fact, no more can be done in this season than I have there stated. It will be useless to leave more posts, or to have more men in Wynaad than the post at Manuntwaddy and those on the tops of the ghauts. If there were two battalions in that district they would be obliged to remain shut up in their posts, where they would be useless; at the same time, the greater the number of troops to be left in Wynaad, the greater will be the difficulty of providing for them. 'I received yesterday your letter of the 15th instant. I have sent Govind Rao with a message to Bappojee Scindiah of the same kind with that which I formerly sent, of which you approved. 'I shall march to-morrow to Misserycotta, where I shall halt next day to allow Major Malcolm to join me, and to give time to Govind Rao to arrange every thing with Bappojee Scindiah'

Believe me,

Lieut. General Arthur Wellesley. [1]

The second report is taken from the Morning Chronicle, one of Britain's leading papers at the time published in London, and reports a desperate act of resistance on the part of a band of Moplah's or Mappilas who knew that they otherwise had no hope of surviving beyond the following morning, when they were going to be executed by the EIC authorities.

They went down fighting, successfully killing and wounding several of the EIC forces.

"The following very extraordinary circumstance lately took place at Calicut: -Seven desperate Mallays who had been the terror of the adjacent country, having carried away the cattle, set fire to the cottages, and murdered several of the natives who opposed their depredations, were apprehended and lodged in the public gaol, when, during the period of their confinement, they behaved in the most refractory and resolute manner. On being brought to trial, several charges were brought home to them,. and they-all received sentence of death; but the evening previous to their execution, they rose on their guards, whom they murdered ; and possessing themselves of their muskets, 'bade defiance to the keeper of the prison and his assistants. The Officer commanding in the district, with a small detachment of seapoys, attempted to scale the walls of the prison; the doors and windows being blockaded. within; but he was repulsed with the lost of several men ; the assailants however being reinforced from an adjacent station, and the desperadoes finding themselves overpowered, set fire to that part of the prison in which they were confined, and refusing all assistance, perished in the flames. Fortunately the rest of the prisoners were rescued, and a part of the building was saved from destruction. [2]

[1]The dispatches of ... the duke of Wellington, compiled by Lieut. colonel John Gurwood, 1837... page 422.
[2] Morning Chronicle. Monday 08 August 1808. From the British Newspaper Archive Site.
Prison photo courtesy of Epoch Times.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Forests, Conservators and other Evils


Kerala Rainforest picture courtesy of http://asianetindia.com/rain-forest/


Like so many of the other Englishmen sent out to India, Thomas Baber had an in-built love of hunting and therefore affection for forests. When he arrived in India in 1797 the areas immediately surrounding Calicut and Tellicherry had already largely been cleared of all the larger trees, which had previously felled for many miles around the actual settlements themselves.

These had occurred by the middle of the 18th Century when drawings clearly shown barren treeless hills.  The records of the factory at Tellicherry are full of correspondence arranging for the acquistion of wood for fuel from locations up the coast as far as Mt Deli, or from Calicut.

However further inland the situation was very different, as is apparent from the following account by James Welsh, written to describe his experience when marching through the Wayanad in 1812, where he assisted Thomas Baber and the other troops to put down the rebellion that had broken out there.

"On 15th, two parties formed, under Captain James and myself, Mr. Baber accompanying mine. We saw no more rebels in arms, but many of them came in with Mr. Baber, who appeared to know every man in the country; and pledged themselves to give up their leaders in six days on a promise of a pardon to the rest. This part of the country is strong, wild, and beautiful; consisting of a number of small hills, covered with jungle, and separated by narrow valleys, in which there are neither rivers or paddy fields. Yesterday in particular, we passed through a narrow defile, nearly a mile in length, in which we discovered trees of such enormous height and magnitude, that I am fearful of mentioning my ideas of their measurement, further, than that some of them did not commence spreading from the parent stem, until they had reached the height of the topmast-head of a man of war; the name of these trees is Neer parum, the wood of which is not valuable, and the Ayany, or wild jack, the tree from which the largest canoes are made, as well as the best beams for building".[1]

Welsh's observations must have been a regular experience for Thomas who had been travelling within these regions since 1797.

That Thomas Baber was aware of the great potential of the huge trees contained within these forests is demonstrated by the events in 1807.

"Extract of a letter from Sir E Pellew to the Hon’ble Wm Pole Secretary to the Admiralty dated his Majesties Ship Culloden Bombay Harbour 20th May 1808.

A twelve month since I had an opportunity of receiving much valuable information from Mr Baber at Cannanore one of the Coll’tors of the Province of Malabar by whom I was satisfied that great impositions had heretofore been experienced by the Confederacy & the Merchants on the Coast from whom as the only dealers in timber the Naval Service had been formerly supplied & he gave me management to make the experiment of procuring them by means of an agency which supported by his authority would enable me to obtain a considerable supply at a trifling comparative expense –

The result has proved most satisfactory, a native agent has been employed under my directions to cut 50 large spars for the use of the squadrons who has accomplished his undertaking by bringing the whole of them down to the beach in Tellicherry at an expense of less than 6,000 rupees from which they will be conveyed to Madras & Bombay by the men of war which touch thereon their passage along the coast without any further charge & creating a nett saving for His Majesties government of £18,730.

I have the honour to enclose a list of their dimensions and have not to observed the price at which 52 large spars have thus been procured, has heretofore been paid at Bombay for two only by individuals as well as for the King’s service.

I consider the supply has been obtained upon these very advantageous terms entirely under the Benefit of Mr Baber’s local authority in preventing imposition & by the aid he has been able to give to the agent & proceedings."
[2]

The Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean was engaged at that period in a life and death struggle with the French Navy and privateers based on Bourbon and Isle de France.

In the days of sail, suitable masts were vital not just to victory, but also for very survival.

With the French in possession of most of Continental Europe's ports, and controlling the routes to the vital Baltic forests, which traditionally provided the masts so important to the Royal Navy, it was becoming difficult to refit the navies ships.

Although a large dockyard existed at Bombay, the nearby forests on the Konkani Ghats were exhausted, and masts had to be brought up from Malabar or half way around the World from a less than friendly America.

The merchants were taking the maximum advantage of the navies desperate need for new masts, by applying very high margins to the price of these mast timbers.

The details of the naval events in the India Ocean, are too complex to set out here, but are ably described in Stephen Taylor's recent book "Storm & Conquest, The Battle for the India Ocean, 1809."

Between 1807 and 1809 the East India Company and Royal Navy were to come within an ace of loosing control of the Indian Ocean, and suffered some appalling loses due to the unmanning and the weak condition of many of their ships.

Thomas Baber had more cause than most to dislike the French on Isle de France and Reunion. His younger brother John Baber (1783-1807) had been captured by French privateers operating out of Isle de Reunion.

It appears that for some reason John, possibly from ill health, who had arrived in India in 1802, as an EIC infantry officer was travelling aboard the East India ship Phoenix, which was captured on 20 Vendemaire an 14 (12th October 1805), by the French Corsaire ship “La Henriette.”

French records show that a “Jean Barber Lieutenant d’infanterie passager” was landed as a prisoner on “1er Brumaire an 14” (23rd October 1805) on the Ile de la Reunion.

Presumably Jean Barber was as close as the French clerk could get to spelling John Baber.

It is possible that John was already ill, or that perhaps the conditions in the prison killed him, for he died on 20 Pluviose an 14 (9th February 1806)

The records say “cet homme est resté malade à l’Ile de la Reunion – mort le 20 Pluviose an 14" [3]

There was considerable uncertainty over the date of his death. According to Hodsons' Index of officers of the Bengal Army, he died on Mauritius 16th July 1807.

It is clear that for a long time after the event that the Baber family in England had no idea what had become of their brother. In the flyleaf of his “Memoranda relating to the life of Henry Hervey Baber” is a rough draft by his eldest brother of a family tree. Sadly it is not possible to exactly date the tree, but from the dates given by later additions on January 28th 1809, it would appear that as late as January 1809, John was thought by the family in England to have “perished by some unknown means (supposed shipwrecked) in the East Indies.”

Thomas Baber in India, may have been the first to learn of the loss of the Phoenix.

The death of his brother, may well have strengthened Thomas resolve to get back at the French, or at least prevent this happening to others.

It appears that he identifed fifty suitable trees and organised for them to be brought down to the coast for shipment to Bombay.

"-- Of the Duty of a Conservator of Forests I never could understand that it extended beyond receiving and paying for timber felled in the Malabar Forests when brought down to the coast, the whole timber being contracted for with the proprietors and former timber merchants – A greater misnomer than conservator cannot be conceived, Mr Fell, to my certain knowledge, never has seen the Forests, and although his assistant Captn Pinch has occasionally visited them, it is the most ridiculous idea conceivable to suppose that it is in his or any mans power to superintend such a prodigious extent of mountain jungle as the Malabar Forests, with an establishment of 3 inspectors and about 40 peons (that is I believe at utmost extent) and if they could, eui bono when not a tree can be exported, nor brought down to the coast without permission from the Collectors of land or sea Customs – So that in fact all that the Conservator & his officers have to do is, to take care of the Timber, which can be done just as well, and to a great deal better by a Collector than any other person – That never was a more useless appointment or establishment than that of Conservator of Malabar, and if my opinion was allowed to have any weight it should be in favour of a petition from the Merchants I sent up to Government in 1808 praying to be restored to their rights in the Forests, and to be allowed to continue to trade in such timber as the Government do not its self require for naval purposes, and all such timber they offered to give to the Company at ---- cost, and to give security, required of them, that they would not cut down any trees than such as the Government permitted them to __ I know not what the profits to the Company are upon the timber they sell, but they must be very trifling and go a very little way to defray the enormous annual expense of the Conservator & his establishment. I never heard that the cost of Timber before it reaches Bombay is more Now then when the trade was open and the company were obliged to buy their wants from the Merchants – But the monopoly is so odious a measure and one that has given rise to so much discontent , that one sacrifice a little for the care and welfare of those whom we are bound to conciliate there is most objection which seems wholly to have escaped the Consideration of Govt and that is, that the monopoly has put a total stop to ship building amongst the coast merchants, and this indeed may be considered as one of the causes of the great stagnation of trade in Malabar – The old Bupee of Cananese wanted to build a new ship of 4 to 500 tons burthen, and applied to the conservator of the Forests for the necessary Timber – who answered He has no orders to sell timber – I send the original answer, as a specimen of the uncourtly reception the old Lady’s application met with." [4]

From our knowledge of Thomas Baber’s forthright opinions, and his directness, I imagine that poor Mr Fell must have felt the full weight of Tom’s displeasure on more than one occasion.

In his 1830 evidence to the House of Lords Thomas explained the difficulties brought about by the timber monopoly.


Was there not, during the Period of your Residence in Malabar, a Monopoly of Timber?

There was, both of the Timber and of the Forests, which were taken Possession of by the Government.

Did that Monopoly extend, not only to the Forests but to Timber in the Gardens and Fields of the several Proprietors?

It was not, I imagine, so intended in the first instance; but the Conservator, the Officer whose Province it was to superintend the Monopoly, extended it to Timber grown in Gardens; but I believe it was that Officer's own Act. Great Complaints were frequently made, but I never heard of any Redress, until Sir Thomas Munro abolished the Monopoly altogether. This, I think, was in 1823.

During that Time was the Price of Timber much raised, so as to stop Shipbuilding on the Coast of Malabar?

It was not procurable on any Terms. The Company took the whole Quantity, except what was called the Refuse, which was of little Use in Shipbuilding.

Was Shipbuilding stopped on the Coast of Malabar in consequence?

Entirely. I have seen Applications from the principal Shipbuilders to the Conservator of the Forests and to the Government, to sell to them, or to be allowed to purchase, Timber to build and repair their Vessels. They offered to purchase at any Price.

Since the Monopoly was taken off, has Shipbuilding improved?

Yes; Four or Five Vessels have been built, or are building.

What is the State of the Government Forests since the Cessation of the Government Monopoly?

The Forests were given up wholly to the Proprietors.

Are there no Forests belonging to the Government now?

In the Northern Part of Canara, that is, from the Subramanny Pagoda, East of Mangalore, there are; all the Forests to the Eastward, or on the Ghaut Mountains that is, are the Property of the Government; I never, at least, heard of any Individuals laying Claim to them. But the whole Tract of Forests South of Subramanny is claimed, and I have no doubt is the Property of private Individuals. I have seen many of these Title Deeds upwards of a Century old.

The Reason for the Monopoly originally was, that the Timber might be supplied at a lower Rate to the Dock Yard at Bombay?

The ostensible Reason given in the first Proclamation by the Principal Collector of Malabar, dated 18th July 1806, stated, "That The Honourable Company had Occasion for Teak Trees for the Purpose of building Ships, and therefore the Government had resolved to grant a Monopoly to one Chowakkara Moosa, in order that it might be furnished with the Trees it wanted at a low Price," &c. The subsequent Proclamation by the Madras Government, dated 25th April 1807, announced, "the Assumption, in pursuance of Orders from The Honourable Court of Directors, of the Sovereignty of the Forests in the Provinces of Malabar and Canara."

Was Timber cheaper in consequence of that Monopoly at Bombay than it is at present?

I rather think the Price was considerably enhanced to what it was before the Monopoly, owing to the Expense of the Conservator's Establishment.

Was the Conservator sent by the Government of Bombay, or by the Governor of Madras?

By the Governor of Bombay; the Forests were re-transferred to Bombay by Orders from the Court of Directors.

There was no Survey originally of the Forests?

There never was. I beg to refer their Lordships to a very able Minute, one of the Documents published in Sir Thomas Munro's Life, containing full Information on this Subject:



Once Thomas had decided on a course of events, or on the rightness of his opinions, he would pursue his cause, through thick and thin, and in the face of any amount of opposition.  No wonder he was often deeply unpopular.


[1]James Welsh, Military Reminiscences volume 2, page 12.
[2]Taken from the Appendix to the Report on Indian Affairs letter 188. OIOC Collection.
[3]I am much indebted to Philippe Lahausse,and Marina Carter for this information taken from the Mauritius archives.
[4]From letter written by Thomas Hervey Baber to Sir Thomas Munro, 5th May 1817. OIOC Private Papers IOR:MSS. F151 / 43 folio 30 -- 31. to Sir Thomas Munro

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The fate of the slaves "rescued" by Thomas Baber


Modern Dalit Slave [1]



For most of history we have absolutely no idea how those at the bottom of Society lived, and it is also very hard to understand what they went through.

Just very occasionally their voice comes through the years and with startling power.

For nearly decade I have been aware that Thomas Baber in the early 1800's had been one of the first of a number of idealistic East India officials in India who had tried to try to put a stop to slavery. He had felt so strongly about slavery that he was prepared to take on his fellow officials and existing Indian custom and practise. See http://malabardays.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/murdoch-brown-overseer-of-randattara.html

I had assumed that the story had a happy ending, however as the following evidence provided by F.C. Brown, son of Murdoch Brown in 1833 to the House of Commons proves every story has two sides, and the fate of these released slaves was less than a happy ending.

It appears that on their return to their former homes in the south of Kerala they had been unable to resettle into their villages, and in many cases their former owners had not wanted them back.

They in many cases drifted back to Anjarakandy to work for Murdoch Brown.

No. 5.


Narrative of Teepadee Ayapen a Betwan, taken at Anjarakandy.—


"30 Chingom 1008. 13 September 1833.


Question. When Mr. Baber's people carried away from here all the slaves, were you carried away ?—Answer Yes, I was.


Q. Where were you taken? What were you asked? And what did you say?—A. From here we were taken to Irrivery Cutcherry; after remaining two days I was asked, “Who is your master?" I said, “My present master is Mr. Brown." "Who brought you here? Who sent you from your country? Who sold you to Mr. Brown?" I said, “It was the Karwakar Moopen." We were then all sent to Tellicherry and kept one, or one and a half months. The same questions that were asked at Irrivery were asked at Tellicherry and we were made to take an oath. After that two menons, with armed peons, took us all to our own country. At Kootangel Cutcherry (Chaughaut), from whence orders were issued to the owners to come and take away their respective slaves, some of the slaves were sent with the peons to Kakat Fort. From thence they were again brought to Kootangel. The Vellatichees and the Cochin Pooliars were embarked in a boat and sent south. After that I alone remained I said, “My owner is not come, what am I to do; my country is Tokye." When I said this to the menons, they desired me to go where my family was. I went to my country and staid with my family.


Q. Do you know the menons and kolkars who came here to take away the slaves?—A After we were taken to Tellicherry I knew them by sight; I did not know them before; I know the name of one of the peons, it is Cheknoo; his country is Ellatoor, so I heard him say.


Q. Who questioned you at Irrivery Cutcherry and at Tellicherry?—A. At Irrivery Cutcherry the menon who took us away from here; his name is Chatoo Menon; and at Tellicherry Mr. Baber himself.


Q. Do you know Mr. Baber?—A. At that time I saw him at Tellicherry.


Q. When did you lose your sight?—A. It is now, I think, about five or eight years.


Q. Do you know the menons and kolkars who took you away from Tellicherry?—A. I do not know them.


Q. After Mr. Baber's people took you to your country, how did you come here? and why did you come ?—A. Bappen Cooty Mapilla (in Mr. Brown's employ) came in a boat to load paddy from Jegnee Mapilla; he (Bappen Cooty) told me that Valia Saib (Mr. Brown) desired me, if I wished, to come back; I then came by land.


Q. When you were coming by land, how did you pay the ferries and subsist?—A. I took it from my own hand (what I had).


Q. When in your country, what employment had you?—A. I worked for any one who would hire me, when they would give me something; I remained in this way for one year.


Q. When you returned here, did any of your relatives come?—A. No one; I came alone.


Q. Who is your owner in your country?—A I have no owner, but my mother had, Karrakat Moideen Mapilla; they are all dead and gone; none of his family now remain.


Q Altogether how many slaves from here were sent to the south?—A. Of the Betwan caste alone there were 28, big and little.


Q. Of that number how many are there to return?—A. Five Betwan females and three children remain to come.


Q When you were at Irrivery Cutcherry and Tellicherry did the persons who examined you put questions to make you say what they liked, or only to learn truth?—A. We were told not to be afraid. "Tell the truth, it is for your good." Then they said loud for us to hear, "These slaves have all been got for nothing."


Q. At what time did Mr. Baber's people come here? When did they find you? And where were you kept?—A. Mr. Baber's people took us away twice; I do not recollect the time they first came; the second time they came in the morning at six o'clock, when we were all sent into the karembala (a walled enclosure). When the southern slaves were being separated, the menon here, Kanarachen, came and said something; in consequence of which words passed between him and Mr. Baber's menon; and Kanarachen went away about 10 o'clock without allowing us to take food or our clothes. We were marched to Irrivery Cutcherry and kept there. At six o'clock in the evening all the northern Dooliars were returned, and the southern Pooliars and Betwans were kept there. To us of the Betwan caste was allotted a shop on the border of a paddy field west of the Cutcherry; rice was given us, which we cooked and ate, and slept outside. To the Pooliars rice was given, which they cooked and ate, and slept round the Cutcherry in the paddy field. In this manner we were kept there for three days.


Q. At that time was there only Kanaren here as menon, or were there any others?— A Whether the Tambooran (Brahmin), who died in Cotiate, was here at that time I do not perfectly recollect; I think he was.


Q. How many years before the rebels burnt this house did you come here?—A. I was here before the burning, but how many years before I do not recollect; I was then a child.


Q. You have said there are eight individuals of the Betwa caste who have not come back; is your country and theirs far or near? what is the reason that they have not come back ?— A Their country and mine may be as far as from here to Mamakoon; that country is the Cochin country; it is under the orders of another gentleman. They have not come, because their masters will not let them.


Q. You have said that in your country you hired yourself to any one who called you, and so lived; was there constant employment?—A. There are many people that have constant work, but there is not the same comfort as here.


Q. You were detained at Tellicherry one or two months; were you kept under restraint or free ?—A. We were kept on the west side of the tank, where, during the day, one kolkar, and during the night two kolkars, stood guard always.


Q. At Tellicherry where were you all lodged?—A. At the tank, in a hut about the size of the kitchen here." [2]


The strength of F. C. Brown's feelings against Thomas Baber come out in the following paragraphs in his letters to the House of Commons.

Francis Brown had previously served a term in prison for having challenged Thomas Baber to a duel, and he evidently greatly resented Baber's attitude towards his father Murdoch Brown, as is shown in the following passages.

"It would be easy for me to proceed with the refutation of every other of Mr. Baber's assertions and references, by the evidence of the facts and authorities furnished, or referred to by himself, did it become me, on so grave a subject, to come before the Government armed with no better defence; but I cannot forget that the gist and gravamen of his accusation against the late Mr. Brown, an accusation which he signed as a magistrate, attested with his seal of office as a judge, and reported officially to the Government, which he has since sworn to before the House of Lords, deliberately repeated, in writing, to the Indian Board, and finally published to the world, is, that " 76 persons, found" by him "in the possession of Mr. Brown, made affidavit before him that they had been stolen, banished from their country, and transported, against their will, to Anjarakandy," and that he had "liberated," he had restored to " liberty and to their country," these aforesaid persons. Words of more dreadful import, against the character of any human being, were never uttered, and never, I believe, more deliberately, more reiterated, more perseveringly, or with more solemn invocations to their truth. Read, then, Sir, I beseech you, the following testimony of one of those very persons, now delivered without dread of violence, delivered to a native writer, himself wholly ignorant of the transaction, whom I directed to question the witness apart relative to what she now remembers of it, on my seeing Mr. Baber pointing out himself to the public of India as the protector of slaves (Bombay Gazette, 17th August 1833). This pamphlet I have seen only within these few days." [3]


"Such, Sir, is the simple affecting narrative given at this distance of time, by this poor woman, of the real manner in which she, her husband, her child, and all the other slaves were barbarously driven from their homes. No man acquainted with the condition of the caste can read it, I believe, and doubt its truth.

Mark, I beseech you, the ultimate design stamped upon the cruel deed from its commencement to its close. The native officers, deputed by Mr. Baber to Anjarakandy, immediately they appear, rush up stairs, followed by the armed peons, to where Mr. Brown was sitting, in order that the slaves may see, from the insulting treatment received before their eyes by their master, a European gentleman, well known, advanced in years, and never approached by the highest natives without respect, the treatment which was reserved for them. The circumstances make an indelible impression, as terror does upon an uninformed mind. All the slaves, male and female, are next collected from where they are at work, by strange armed men, driven, with their children of all ages, into a walled enclosure, like cattle into a pen ; their master's people are forcibly ejected, the gates shut, and the whole, upon their answering truly and simply to the questions put to them, are kept, the women with their infants at their breasts, without food for that night. The day following they are taken under custody, to a public cutcherry, four or five miles off, turned into a paddy field, and there kept three days and three nights, so that one child dies on the spot. They are here again called up, one by one, and authoritatively questioned by Mr. Baber's deputy.

Those who still tell the the truth are grossly abused by him, called liars, and threatened with instant mutilation; a E. I. Company and violence admitted by Mr. Baber to be practised upon persons of their caste (p. 25). Being Board of Control, now thoroughly intimidated, separated from all succour, and dreading what is to befal them, (Documents.) they are next taken under continued custody to Tellicherry, where a man dies; they are brought up before Mr. Baber, and separately examined, having gone through a form of being sworn. This poor woman has the courage to repeat to him what she had said twice before to his deputy, that she had been regularly sold by her former master, mentioning his name. The magistrate exclaims "that she is telling a falsehood," bids her "tell the truth; that she has been stolen;" which declaration, the very reverse of what she has all along said, and then desired to say, is written down as her voluntary deposition upon oath before Mr. Baber, and is by him quoted and appealed to, from that hour to this, in proof of the truth of his charge against Mr. Brown. She and all the other slaves are detained in custody day and night for many weeks; at the expiration of this imprisonment, disregarding her entreaties to be suffered with her child to return to her home, she is made to accompany the others; rejoiced to escape anywhere and on any terms. Part of them are taken to Chowghaut, a distance of 110 miles; part double the distance, to Cochin and Travancore. Instead of being "liberated" she and her child are delivered with her husband to the latter's former master, with written injunctions from Mr. Baber to report their deaths in writing, that is, in other words, to detain them while alive. In a state of actual starvation, she, her husband, and child, set out on their return, begging and working their way by such field work as they can get (the only work slaves are employed in), and in about two months succeed in reaching Calicut, 60 miles distant, where they find Mr. Brown.

This is the declaration of one of those slaves. Shall I be credited when I state, that not one, but 21 of them returned, and that 13 of the number still survive (one died in August) to bear witness, in terms almost similar, against the inhuman outrage perpetrated upon them. I am ready to produce them at any time, at any place, before any persons who will descend to the level of their capacities, and permit them to tell their artless tale without fear. Gratefully and lowly do I bow down before that all-seeing Providence, which, in its infinite justice, has permitted this black iniquity, renewed and relevelled against the memory of a revered parent, to be exposed to the eye of day, in all its turpitude, by the mouths of the victims appealed to to attest it. Not to swell this letter to an inconvenient size, I annex only two more of the depositions (No. 4 & 5). Let them, I entreat, be compared with the letter of Mr. Brown (No. 7), penned after the slaves had all been removed, and with the See p. 733-735, of testimony of an eye-witness of the scene (No. 6.) Even some of the Pooliars returned; of the printed volume. Pooliars, interdicted the high way, who cannot approach within 40 paces of their fellow slave, the Vettoowan, without polluting him. Let the sufferings they endured in tracking back their way be pictured! But the majority of the Pooliars (they amounted to 23, the Vettoowas to 28) were transported by Mr. Baber to the Cochin and Travancore countries, and delivered back with the same written injunctions to their former masters. He therefore transported them, from the British territories, and from under the safeguard of British laws, which, he admits, make no exception as to slaves, and have repeatedly visited their murder with death (p. 2607), to countries, where he also admits (p. 19) adopting General Walker's words, that "a proprietor is accountable to no person for the life of his own chaumar, but is the legal judge of his offences, and may punish them with death; and where it is feared that the only check upon the unrestricted exercise of this power is the presence of the Resident." Gracious God! and this wholesale, forcible reduction of these poor creatures to native slavery and to death, Mr. Baber has dared to call, in the sight of God and man, "liberating them, restoring them to liberty and their country." Sir, Mr. Brown possessed, I inherit from him, 155 slaves; I have also upon my estate 105 other slaves, voluntary settlers, of 10 and 20 years' habitancy. I further employ 250 free labourers. I implore you in the strongest words, the most earnest, I will even add, the most abject, that language supplies, to examine and satisfy yourself, by any mode of inquiry you may think proper to adopt, of the treatment and condition of these slaves; as to whether the whip or the lash has ever been known among them ; as to the restraints imposed upon their personal liberty ; as to their well-being compared with slaves elsewhere; and lastly, as contrasted, whether as regards their persons, their food, their houses, their comforts, and the kinds of labour they are employed in, with those of the free persons employed with them. After this examination, I will leave you to say whether those transported to Cochin and Travancore would not try to escape; and then to think, without shuddering, of the fate which awaited their hopeless attempt at the hands of irresponsible masters, burthened in the name of the British Government with the compulsory guardianship and maintenance of refractory slaves worth each the sum of 12 rupees.

The judges of the Provincial Court residing on the spot, who had all served for many years in the province, and were thoroughly acquainted with Mr. Baber's character and motives, (for these exemplary men, like every other gentleman, civil or military, in Malabar, had long before spumed the unhappy man from society,) sought to avert the consequences which they foresaw were designed, from the wanton and forcible removal, without cause or complaint, of these helpless victims, by ordering their restitution to Mr. Brown until a claimant to them appeared. It is this humane interposition which the judges considered themselves bound to exert in favour of the most defenceless party, which Mr. Baber studiously and repeatedly calls the singular protection extended by the court to Mr. Brown! To mention only the names of the judges even now would be to confound the defamer, did such men need a defence. The judges of the Sudder Adawlut were of opinion, upon a review of the proceedings, that the interposition of the Court of Appeal could not be upheld, Mr. Baber having acted towards Mr. Brown in his capacity of justice of the peace, not of zillah E. I. Company and judge, and hence that his conduct was cognizable only by the Supreme Court at Madras."[4]

The whole report extends to many volumes and reports on slavery in many areas of India from Assam, to Dehli, the Konkan and the Malabar. The testimonies on Malabar run from approximately page 409 to 430, and are especially detailed and powerful.

The terrible thing is that even today in India many people are living in conditions of slavery much like those found by Thomas Baber, as the following article about the film Papilio Buddha dated 1st October 2012 makes clear. http://www.thehindu.com/arts/cinema/the-butterfly-effect/article3954653.ece

[2] From Slave trade (East India) Slavery in Ceylon: Copies or abstracts of all ... Volume 16. Page 407 onwards.  Published by the House of Commons in 1838.

[3] From Slave trade (East India) Slavery page 409.
[4] [2] From Slave trade (East India) Slavery page 411 to 412.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Quilon & Kollam earlier history.



Figure 1. A drawing of the coastline at Quilon drawn from the HEIC ship Rooke, 12th February 1700.
Please click for a larger version.

The description under the drawing reads as follows: -

This is called Quiloane in Lat. 9o 0’ N, inhabited by Black People of the Portuguese Caste, but some Gentues, AB is a Place of the Natives called Carrquilone, BC is all the Dutch Factory, E is the Wigg wams of the Natives, the Shoar is all Sand, under E are the Canoes of the Natives, that live by rogueing and pilfering, The Landing Place is within the Point F but cannot put your own Boat on shoar by reason of the Great Surf, but the Canoes take you in and land you: about G 5 lea’s from F is Anjengo.  The Land by the sea is very low, & the Hills over F & to D cannot be seen except in very clear weather.


The comments about the locals living by "rogueing and pilfering" rather suggests that the stay of the Rooke at Quilon was not a particularly happy one.

Quilon is a very ancient port that was visited for centuries before the Rooke sailed by, by sailors from many countries including those from China, Portugal, and Holland. It was also frequented by Arab ships and quite possibly others with merchants in Roman times.

The port seems to have been ruled over by particularly tolerant people because a number of religions were tolerated there. Tradition has it that St Thomas the Apostle converted many inhabitants to Christianity there.

This may have been why as early as 1291AD a Franciscan Friar Monte Corvino visited Quilon and stayed for 13 months. In 1321AD a Roman Catholic mission under a French priest called Jordan Catalani of Sévérac visited. The port also saw official Papal Missions visit on their way to China at this period. It is quite possible that the port allowed them to change from Arab vessels originating from the Gulf, into vessels from China that used to call at Quilon and Cochin at that period.

Marco Polo is believed to have returned from China via Quilon where he witnessed the production of Indigo.


Figure 2. A map of Quilon and the surrounding districts.

At the same period these Medieval European Christians were passing through, Quilon was also home to a community of Shiite merchants from Persia.  They called the port Kaulam, which has been converted to Kollam and is the modern name for the port.

"About 30 leagues south of the town of Cochin, is the Fortress of Quilon,* which was conquered by the Company from the Portuguese. It was formerly a town, but is now only a petty fort, and as the sea washes, and has even undermined, a portion of the walls, it has now been resolved to reduce it on that side, so that some of the inhabitants will be forced to break up their houses, and take up their abode outside the walls. This fort is of use in vesting the power of the Rajahs of Travancore and of Signati, in whose domains it is situated; and as an outpost against the foreigners, especially the English, whose fort at Anjengo is at no great distance. The Fortress of Quilon commands the bay of the same name : tolls are levied from the native traders, and licenses (passen) issued to them. It possesses little territory inland, besides the plain : on the sea side the boundary is marked by a gate with four stone pillars."

"The factory of Kully Quilon is especially noteworthy, being the first which the East India Company possessed in Malabar. The Rajah of Kully Quilon was the first sovereign who admitted the Company into his territories, though he would not grant them permission to erect a fort. About 400,000 lbs. of pepper are annually purchased by the Company in this place."[1]

[1] Letters from From Malabar, by Jacob Canter Visscher as translated in 1862 by Captain Heber Drury. Pages 24 & 25.

The Residency at Kollam


Figure 1. The Residency at Kollam

On his Facebook page India Britannicus Julian Craig recently published a photograph of a particularly fine Palladian style house that caught my attention. The photo came from a set of photos from Trivandrum taken by Zacharias D' Cruz in 1900.[1]

It seemed like an enjoyable challenge to try and locate it, and to find out if the building still existed, which by good fortune, it turns out to do. Howeverthe building is actually located not in Trivandrum itself, but in the nearby town of Kollam.

Julian's post then provoked a most interesting correspondence with Jaacob Thomas whose family originates from this area. Former members of his family were both Syrian Christian's and Anglican Christians.

For several years I have been collecting material on Quilon and the Travancore region. So I determined to try to write this up. What I hadn't bargained on, was the sheer quantity of material that is coming forward from sources like Google Books. So that instead of a single blog, I will break up my material into three posts to be released over the next month.

The first will be about the Residency at Kollam and some of the people who lived in the Residency, and the events surrounding the building.

The second blog will address the early relationship between the Syrian church and the East India Company officials, while the final post in the series will look at the history of the earlier settlements at Quilon.

This research is very much work in progress, and there may well be errors in my research. It is very probable that further documents will become available. I would welcome input from you if you can add to the story of this building and the surrounding districts.

For obvious reasons most of my sources are from the British and East India Company perspective.

There is a huge missing part to this story, the Indian dimension.

If you are one of the thousands of Indian's whose forebears were linked to this settlement, and these events, I would would really like to hear from you. I can be contacted at balmer.nicholas@gmail.com

One of the best descriptions of the Residency and its surroundings comes from Captain Heber Drury who made many trips to Quilon. One of these journeys past Quilon and Kollam was recorded and later published, it describes the Residency and its surroundings. He also confirms the belief that it was originally built by Colonel John Munro.

Captain Heber Drury was Assistant Resident at Travancore and Cochin during the late 1850's and early 1860's, and it is very probable that he stayed there on many occasions. Drury was a very keen botanist and historian. He wrote extensively on the plants and trees of South India and translated an account of the Dutch rule over Cochin during the 1720's by Jacob Canter Visscher.

"The residency here, built by Col. Munro, is charmingly situated on a slightly rising ground overlooking the back-water. It is a lovely spot, and the park like appearance of the grounds at the back of the house add considerably to its beauty. The garden is spacious and well laid out, the walls skirting the water, and towards the south is a small bay on one side of which is seen the house allotted by the Sircar to the officer commanding the station and immediately opposite the house of John Liddell Esq., both prettily situated at the bank and surrounded with Casuarinas and other trees."[2]



Figure 2. The Residency still survives today and is a Government Rest House.

That the buildings has links to John Munro is a particularly interesting discovery for me. My first invitation to India and to Kerala came from Dr. Kocha Varma, a very keen local historian who runs the Travancore & Cochin  Royal Family History Society.
Kocha drew my attention to John Munro's career. In Kochi he is seen today as having been a particularly enlightened ruler.

While they believe that it would have been better not to have had foreign rule, if it occurred it was better to have somebody like John Munro ruling you than Macaulay. Kocha is making a particular study into John Munro's life so I will not steal his thunder beyond the bare details of his life and events that connect him to the residency.



Figure 3. The Residency seen on Google Earth.
Please click on this image for a larger version.

From Figure 3 above the extent of the gardens that once graced the residency is clear. Their layout influenced the route of the circular drive take is still preserved in the town's layout to this day. The garden is laid out much like an English country estate of the period. It is probable that the square roads laid out at the bottom of the photo and garden are the foundations and roads for the former barracks that were located near the Residency.

The Barrack square was situated to the south east of the Residency.


Figure 4. A Google Earth image showing the relationship between the Residency with its garden.

The drill square for the garrison, which can be seen as a large bare patch of earth to the south east of the residency gardens.

Here presumably it provided space for exercising the troops as well as providing a clear swept fire zone in the event of a repeat of the insurrection on the 28th of December 1808 when Colonel Macaulay had only narrowly escaped with his life when an attempt was made to murder him at Cochin. Hearing a commotion outside his house, he looked out the window and saw a mob approaching who fired at him. He was able duck down and to escape.

His Portuguese servant managed to conceal him in the basement behind a hidden door while the insurgents ransacked the house looking for him.  Fortunately for Macaulay their search did not locate him, and he was able to escape the following day to the Royal Navy frigate HMS Piedmontaise that had by good fortune been anchored off Cochin.

A Dewaun or minster had been appointed by the East India Company to rule in place of one previously appointed by the Travancore Royal family.  The new Dewaun commenced a rule of terror and oppression against his subjects, and especially the former Royal family and Syrian Christians.

Appeals for help were made to the East India Company for relief from the Dewaun, but were turned down. Many inhabitants fled north to Tellicherry as refugees.

The Travancore Royal family sent three messengers to seek help from Thomas Baber who had no authority to act in this matter, but he began to campaign for their support writing directly to Madras.

However by attacking Macaulay the Dewaun had gone too far. Troops were set to the relief of the be leagued force trapped in Cochin.

In January 1809 the garrison at Cochin had been seriously attacked by supporters of the Dewaun and it was only prevented from falling by the efforts of fifty men of His Majesties 12th Foot and six companies of the 17th Regiment under Major Hewett.

The insurgents had also moved to attack the East India Company garrison at Quilon.

Although the Dutch had had a Fort at Quilon and another Tangencharey it does not appear that the EIC garrison used these in 1809. They appear to have chosen another site in Kollam. It is not possible to be certain where this was located, but it is very likely that it was on the site of the residency.



"At one time a considerable force was maintained at Quilon including a European Corps with artillery. The grave yard at Tangencharey is filled with tombs of deceased officers and soldiers of a Queen's Regiment formerly stationed there. During the troubles in 1809, an action was fought here between the British and Travancoreans. This took place under Colonel Chalmers, then commanding the forces. He moved out to meet the enemy, who were approaching from the side of Trevandrum and were commanded by the Dewan in person, amounting to nearly 30,000 men with 18 guns. The engagement which ensued was of short duration. In less than five hours the insurgents were totally defeated losing nearly all their artillery and leaving a large number of slain on the ground. Such was the battle of Quilon."[3]

The action had commenced early on the morning of the 15th of January 1809 when the insurgents were seen approaching. According to Colonel Chambers a wing of the HM 12th Regiment of Foot under Lt Colonel Picton

"Col. Chalmers, who commanded at Quilon, lost no time in attacking the Nairs, who were in arms in his vicinity. He was successful in his operations; but they received such accessions from the south that he found it necessary to remain on the defensive, though joined by the king's 12th under Col. Picton. On the 15th January, 1809, the dewan, at the head of from 20,000 to 30,000 men, with 18 pieces of cannon, attacked the British lines before daybreak. But, after a conflict of five hours, he was driven off with a loss of 700 men and 15 guns. A few days after (19th), he made an attempt on the post of Cochin, held by Major Hewitt. Being again repulsed, he spread his forces on the landside, and covered the sea with boats, in order to cut off supplies ; but a frigate, with the resident on board, came and anchored off the town, and her boats quickly destroyed his flotilla.

The dewan, shortly after, was guilty of two atrocities, which deprive him of all claim to our sympathy. An assistant-surgeon, named Hume, being taken as he was travelling by night, was brought before him; and though he knew him personally, and had been benefited by his skill, he ordered him to be put to death. A small vessel, with thirty men of the 12th on board, having touched at Alepi, they were induced to land by the friendly assurances of the people, and they were immediately made prisoners, and were murdered, by order of the dewan.

The government of Madras now found it necessary to make more vigorous exertions. Col. Cuppage, who commanded at Malabar, was ordered to march his troops to Cochin, and join Col. Chalmers ; and Col. St. Leger was directed to move with a force from Trichinopoly, and enter Travancore on the south. As the most practicable passes of the western Ghats are near the southern extremity of the peninsula, this officer selected one of them, named the Arambuli pass. This pass was secured by strong lines passing from mountain to mountain, and fortified by redoubts. But in one night (Feb. 10) the British troops carried the whole of them, and entered Travancore. They met with little or no opposition : Col. Chalmers (19th) sent out two columns under Cols. Picton and Stuart, which attacked and carried the enemy's fortified camp near Quilon ; Col. Cuppage entered from the north, and thus the whole country was now in the hands of the British. The resident now proceeded to the capital, and formed a new treaty with the rajah, by which he was to pay up all arrears, and the expenses of the war, disband the Carnatic Brigade, and some Nair battalions that he had, and leave the defence of his country to the subsidiary force. A new dewan was appointed; and he pursued his unfortunate predecessor, who had sought a refuge in the mountains, with such vigour, that he was forced to betake himself to a pagoda, which was an ancient sanctuary. But his pursuers, though Hindoos, violated it, and forced their way to a chamber to which he and his brother had retreated. They found the dewan expiring of wounds, probably self-inflicted. The brother was taken, and was hanged, in the presence of the 12th regiment, in the murder of whose companions he had been implicated. The resident gratified a paltry feeling of revenge, and which was strongly condemned by the governor-general, by causing the body of the dewan to be exposed on a gibbet." [4]

Following the defeat of the Dewaun's forces by a relief column in which Major James Welsh played a significant role, Chambers force at Quilon was relieved and was able to go over to the offensive.

The Dewaun took sanctuary in a temple. The metal doors of which were forced, and while this was occurring he committed suicide. Four of his chief adherents were however captured. They were brought to Quilon and hanged in the town.

It appears that following the events of 1809 a new permanent garrison was constructed at Kollam, and it is probable that the barracks were located at the bottom of the Residency garden.

The barrack blocks appear to have disappeared, although the outlines of their bases and roads still show up on Google Earth. This suggests that they survived until quite recently.

The town where the Indian part of the civilian population lived is situated towards the bottom of the image above. The population would have been much lower in 1820 and the Indian town had been in existence for several hundred years before the Residency was built.

In Medieval times Quilon had been a centre for Indigo growing, and this had been witnessed by Marco Polo when he visited the town.

Later on this activity was overtaken by textile weaving and lace making, and the town contained many looms working in these industries when the British arrived there,to take over the settlement from the Dutch who had been defeated by the French who were feared to be hoping to enter India again via the new captured Dutch settlements. The British acted to forestall any landings.

They also took the opportunity to destroy the private Dutch merchants Godown's so that they would be unable to compete as effectively if the settlement ever had to be handed back following peace negotiations.

The early years of the British rule in Travancore were extremely unsettled. The situation was not helped by events elsewhere in Southern India. Shortly after the 1809 insurrection there was another serious incident at Vellore when the Sepoy's rose against their officers.

The East India Company officers were also very unhappy with their situation in 1809. A new Governor had been appointed in Madras called Barlow. He had been ordered to retrench and to try to make savings. The Batta or campaign allowances for officers had been cut. With war with France under way in Europe and crop failure in Britain, the financial situation was dire.

It appears that the unrest spread had to the Sepoys garrisoned in Quilon. The following passage is the only reference to these events that I can find so that it is not possible to date them, although I do know that Major Balmain was stationed in Quilon in 1809. It is possible that these events may have occurred in 1809 or 1810, but that they must have occurred before 1812 when the story was reported in Britain.

" Quilon, May 30.

As you have probably heard but vague reports of what is going forward at Travancore, I take the liberty, as it may not prove uninteresting, of informing you of the danger myself, and every other European officer in Quilon, have escaped. I must commence by telling you, that we have had, as State prisoners, a Dewan of Travancore, lately for some misdemeanour deposed; also a man called Pyche Rajah.[5] These together, by bribery, had corrupted a native officer of the 14th regiment of infantry, and they engaged him to bring into their plans the greatest part of the native troops of Quilon; and, I am sorry to say, in a great measure succeeded. The Rajah, the prime instigator of the whole plot, proposed, that when sufficient numbers of sepoys came into their views, to attempt the murder of all the European officers in the place, and to be accomplished in the following manner: —They had heard that the 18th regiment was to be reviewed on a certain day, and that every officer in the cantonment, the Resident included, were to dine at our mess in the evening. The conspirators were to fall upon us when assembled, and to strike off the head of every one. When this horrible murder was accomplished, they were to remain quiet till morning, on the appearance of which the drums were to beat to arms, and the three corps were to be thus disposed of:—one was to march to the southern lines, another to the northern, and the third to the Arunghaut pass, for the purpose of preventing the march of troops into the country. Several battalions were also to be immediately raised, and by these means they expected to keep possession of Travancore. I must tell you, that, to accomplish the intended massacre, and to make it the more easy, the lines were to be fired : and if the officers left the mess-house, which they expected they would do, they intended to bayonet them as they came out. This abominable and atrocious design was prevented only by the absence of one man, who had promised to make his appearance with fifty associates. It was two days after found out by a sepoy, who overheard a few of the conspirators talking of the business, and lamenting why it was not accomplished, and appointing the next public party, which they expected would be on the 4th of June, as the day of business. The Commanding Officer was informed of the whole by this man.

The brigade was immediately ordered out, out, for what purpose not an officer knew. The native officer above-mentioned was called to the front, with about thirty sepoys, by name—these were from the 14th regiment, and were immediately put in irons, and sent to the main-guard. A field officer, one captain, and 2 subalterns, were immediately ordered on duty; and it was then that the officers knew the extent of the danger they had providentially escaped, but never dreamed that more of the native troops were concerned. The following morning a board of officers was held, and a few sepoys turned King's evidence. They informed the Committee of what I have already told you, but did not implicate another person. It was thought strange that so few should have the temerity, without other assistance to attempt such a vile murder; but the following morning a Fakeer, and one or two other persons, were taken up on suspicion, and when the Committee had met, they gave in evidence that two-thirds of the troops, with the native officers, were concerned. The Fakeer called out a great number, by name, from the 14th native officers; live from the 18th, two or three from the 11th and 9th; implicated some of the Resident's Peons, natives of the place, and several officers' servants: he also said, nearly all the sepoys of the 14th, and several from the other corps, were engaged in the plot; said, that the man in charge of the public cattle had been bribed, and many others.

The danger was now thought very great, and Quilon was in great agitation and alarm. It was deemed necessary to make an immediate example of one or two of the ringleaders. All the native officers who had been implicated from the different corps, were sent off to Trichinopoly that day, under the guard of fifty of the Resident's Peons, and the whole under the charge of an officer of the 14th. The 14th itself was ordered to leave Quilon, with its European officers, the following morning, and to march to the same place; but they march in the course of this day instead, as twelve hours was rather too short a notice. On the same day that this information was received (the day before yesterday,) the troops were ordered under arms, and formed a line in brigade at five o'clock. Three guns were advanced to the front of the line, about one hundred paces from the centre; also a gun from each flank the same distance. The latter were primed and loaded with grape shot, and pointed towards the battalion, as it was expected the sepoys would make some opposition to the severe measures in contemplation. Two of the guns in the centre were only loaded with powder. Two prisoners, the Jemidrs, that I first mentioned, and a writer, who had been most guilty, were brought forward, and, without ceremony, were lashed each to the muzzle of a gun. The troops, upon seeing this, were still as death—not a murmur—no, not even a breath was to be heard—and at this awful crisis, Balmain, the Brigade-Major, read over the sentence that had been awarded the prisoners, by the board of officers which sat in the morning, and the Colonel gave the words—"Ready, Fire! An involuntary shudder ran through the whole line, but nothing more. The Colonel then informed the troops why be was obliged to have recourse to this severe measure, and ordered the whole line to march round the bodies, and return to their barracks." [6]



Quilon was one of the major centres for the Syrian Christian Church. Colonel Macaulay appears to have become associated with them in some way. It is not possible to tell at today if it was this association that led to the Syrian Christians being targeted during the Dewaun's rising, or if the Colonel had become sympathetic to their plight as a result of their having been assaulted.

"In 1815, on the demise of their Patriarch, they obtained the aid of the Company's Government, exerted through Col. Macaulay, the Company's resident in Travancore, who having recovered for them their ancient grants and evidences of nobility, assisted them to found a College at Cattayam for the education of a Clergy, and of the Syrian youth generally. Colonel Macaulay effected several other arrangements for the general improvement of their condition. A considerable grant of land was obtained for the College, together with a donation of 20,000 rupees from the Rannee of Travancore, and three English missionaries were attached to the College at the instance of the Resident.

The Syrian Christians now exist under three denominations.

First. The Syrian Churches, of which there are fifty-seven in Quilon and the neighbouring districts, comprehending a Christian population of 70,000 persons, who are governed by a Metropolitan, and retain a comparatively pure doctrine, although its professors are in general in low condition.

Second. The Syro-Roman Churches, who had adopted the Roman ritual with its corruptions, but still perform their worship in the Syrian language. These are in number ninety-seven Churches, with a population of about 96,000 ; viz. fifty-two Churches, with a population of about 49,000, under the Archbishop of Cranganore ; thirtyeight Churches, with a population of 40,000, under the Vicar Apostolique of Verapoli; and seven Churches, with a population of about 7000, under the Bishop of Cochin and Quilon. 

Third. The Latin Churches, which have fully conformed to the Church of Rome, and use a ritual in the Latin language. These are in number forty Churches, with a population of about 54,000; viz. twenty-one Churches, with a population of about 29,000, under the Vicar Apostolique of Verapoli ; and nineteen Churches, with a population of about 35,000, under the Bishop of Cochin and Quilon. In addition to these Churches, and dependent on them, there are numerous chapels of ease scattered over the country: in many instances four to each principal church.

The Syrian Churches keep quite distinct from the Latin Churches, and do not intermix with them.
Such of these Churches, and they are numerous, as are within the Company's territory, have enjoyed not only that general protection for persons and property, which is common to all classes of natives; but many grants or loans of money, and grants of land for the erection of Churches and for cemeteries, have been made to them. [7]


Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the end of the threat from Tipu and the Pazhassi Raja the Southern part of India became relatively peaceful, and the combination of security and cheaper passages enabled Anglican Missionaries  to arrive in India in greater numbers. With the security situation looking fairly good the British officials were less concerned with placating local religious sensibilities, and missionaries were enabled to go out into the community to try to make converts.


These successes were often fairly transitory as is illustrated in the following extract.


"Quilon.—As early as 1822, the Missionaries at Nagercoil extended their visits to these places and commenced Missionary operations there, In a short time a small number of the Natives made a profession of Christianity; but they do not appear to have continued steadfast. The Missions however, properly speaking, were commenced; that at Quilon in 1822 by the Rev. Mr. Smith, and that at Trevandram in 1838 by the Rev. Mr. Cox.

Mr. Smith on his arrival at Quilon received the aid of Col. Newall the British Resident, of Dr. Hutchinson the Chaplain, and of several Military men; and in the first year he had several schools under his charge containing from 20 to 40 boys each. Mr. McAlley was there as Assistant Missionary. "Within two years the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Crow arrived from England; but in 1824 the Mission was deprived of the labors of both Mr. Smith and Mr. Crow, who, by ill health, were compelled to return to England. Mr. Ashton, Assistant Missionary then had charge of the station until the arrival of the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson from England in 1827. The report of that year shows eleven schools with 275 boys and 28 girls, and an attendance of from 20 to 50 Natives at public worship, and four Catcchists from Nagercoil." [8]

Amongst the many officers who passed through Kollam was Lt. Colonel James Welsh. On the 24th January 1824 he was appointed to command the Subsidary force in Travancore and Cochin. It took him several months to travel with his family from Vellore and he arrived in Quilon on the 1st March 1824.

The final bit of his journey is described in the following passage.

" March 1st, ninety miles.—Embarking last night at eight, P.M., with twelve oars and a good breeze, we arrived at daylight at a mud bank in the back-water, over which the boats are always drawn by the posse comitatus. We passed a black stone image in the water, about which the Natives have a ridiculous tradition ; stopped at a Pagoda and bridge to take our breakfast, and reached the Residency at four, P. M., where we were most kindly welcomed by Colonel Newall, and became his guests, while the Ranee's house, next door, was preparing for our reception. The troops at present under my command are the 1st battalion of the 16th, or Trichinopoly Light infantry ; the 2nd battalion of the 1st, and 2nd battalion of the 4th regiments, with a company of European artillery.

Here ends the Journal from Vellore, and this place has been already described in 1817. On the 8th, my servants, and heavy baggage arrived from the Chow Ghaut by water, in several boats. Having lost two or three more on the march to that place, the total casualties by cholera amounted to seventeen."
[9]

At this period in India Cholera was raging through the land. It had existed in India for centuries but for some reason, possibly through gene mutation it had become much more virulent during 1817 and 1818. The outbreak of the Third Mahratta War had coincided with this event and Cholera was soon carrying off scores of soldiers. The refugees and displaced people from that war carried cholera with it.

James Welsh as a commanding officer of large districts often had to travel on inspection tours. He would move with a column of servants and attendants, and on several occasions in his book cholera gets into his column. At that time the disease was not understood and no real cure existed. The only way they knew to defeat it was to leave infected people behind and to move on. This actually worked because provided the camp was in range of uninfected water the disease might not follow them, if they had not already been infected.

Death, or the risk of death was never far away in India, as the following event in Quilon shows.

On the 13th of March, I was awakened at midnight by the report of a musquet, immediately under my bed-room window; and running down stairs, and making towards the spot, I was met by several of my servants and Sepoys of the guard, who all entreated me not to venture out: but as they were too confused to tell what had occurred, I made my way through them, and found the Naigue of the guard weltering in his blood. Pushing on beyond him, it being clear moonlight, I then met a Sepoy with a musquet in his hand, whom the people behind declared would shoot me. I ordered him to lay down his arms, which he instantly did, and came towards me. I asked him who had killed the Naigue, he said it was himself, on which I seized him, and ordered the Sepoys to bind him immediately. We found several musquets loaded on the spot, and going towards the guard-room, I was again warned not to approach, as my servants said the house was full of armed men; it was, however, quite empty, and at length I ascertained the real fact.

The guard at my house being an honorary one, was composed of men from the light infantry, who were all armed with short musquets and swords. Observing in the afternoon one of the sentries over my door, with his musquet and sword fixed, I told him to unfix it and lay by the gun, the sword was sufficient. This was to render the duty easier to him, and it did not occur to me to mention the same to the Naigue of the guard, who had the charge of the sentries. Shortly after,the Naigue going his rounds in the compound, found the musquet lying down, and the sentry walking at some distance, he lifted it up, and carried it to the guard-house, to remain with the rest; and my servants afterwards told him, that I had ordered the sentry at my door to use his sword only; when he was perfectly satisfied, and relieved the sentry afterwards, as if nothing had occurred : all this had happened in the evening. Junglee, the Naigue, was a man originally of inferior caste, but had been adopted and brought up as a Mussulman; he was a remarkably smart and good soldier; and, expecting to be promoted to the rank of Havildar, or Serjeant, the next day, had his worsted sash, straps, and distinguishing marks in his knapsack, ready to put on the next morning,as Havildar of the Commanding officer's guard, when this fatal circumstance occurred. He had volunteered the duty, out of his turn,from a laudable desire to appear at the onset of his new rank, in charge of an honorary guard, and being a favourite for good conduct, it was unfortunately granted.

The sentinel in question, Sheik Ally, was also a Mussulman, but of a most vindictive and irritable temper. He considered the Naigue's action of taking his musquet away to the guard-room, as an implied censure on his conduct, and secretly vowed revenge, without any attempt at explanation.

The evening being uncommonly fine, the whole guard, two sentries excepted, had assembled on a sloping bank, between the house and the guard-room, where they amused themselves in social chat, and at nine, P. M., took their suppers. At this time the prisoner passing by, the Naigue called out to him to come and take his supper ; he replied, he did not want any, and passed on to the guard-room, in the shade under some large trees. Some of my servants had now also joined the social party, who, after beguiling the evening, had all gone to sleep, when the assassin having loaded several musquets, crept softly up to the spot on which they were lying, and singling out his victim, put the piece almost close to his body and firing, threw it down and seized another. The ball entering his chest, passed through his body and penetrated the ground, upwards of a foot, while the powder actually set fire to his clothes. The soul escaped with a deep groan, while his comrades rising; on both sides the lifeless trunk, were instantly appalled by the monster presenting the other musquet, and denouncing vengeance on any one who should venture to approach him. They accordingly crept and scampered off, as fast as their terror would permit them, until encountered by me, as already related.

The villain was tried by a general Court Martial,found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged in chains; but the publication of the sentence being delayed for three months, it was supposed he was going to be pardoned, and, strange to relate, he contrived while in prison in the main guard, to create a too general feeling among the Natives, in his favour. When the order at length arrived, the wretch came on the parade, sleek, finely dressed, and smiling, as if he were going to be raised to some dignity, instead of suffering the most ignominious death. In order the more fully to impress the minds of his fellow-soldiers, with a proper sense of his guilt and punishment, after the sentence had been read aloud to the whole, formed in a square, he was led round with a rope about his neck, and then hanged in the centre; I suspect, much to their amazement.

I warned the whole of the punishment which must always await such diabolical conduct; and being informed that his friends intended to remove the body from the most ignominious part of the sentence; I ordered a guard of his own corps over the fixed gallows, to which the body was removed by the Provost Marshal, and kept them there for three days and nights, until it was quite putrid ; explaining my reasons and holding them responsible for it's continuance. They were no sooner removed, than the body, chains and all, disappeared, and were never more heard of. I had, however, carried my point, in retaining it such a time to public view, and I envy not the feelings of those who afterwards purloined the perishing remains."
[10]

The threat of sickness was a constant presence for all EIC officers. There was a very heavy drinking culture amongst many of these officers and this often affected their livers. James Welsh was present at the death of one of these officers at Quilon.

On the 11th of July, Captain J.D. Rand, in the temporary command of the 15th regiment of Native infantry, died of the liver complaint at Quilon. He had been confined a whole month, and every exertion made for his recovery. The body was opened, and several quarts of matter taken from his liver, which was in a state of perfect solution, with three large abscesses. His pulse had always been high, from one hundred and five to one hundred and ten ; but otherwise he had none of the symptoms we are accustomed to observe in the formation of abscesses, viz., hiccough, retching, spasms, and shivering fits: any one of the three abscesses would have killed a horse. I never saw any thing equal to them, though he was actually singing a delightful song at the mess the night before he was taken ill; for he was a capital musician, and one of the finest tempered fellows I ever knew. Such a mass of corruption could not possibly be the formation of one short month. He had been extremely unfortunate in promotion, and frequently superseded in the service, which was supposed to be preying on his mind more than disease, at the early part of his confinement; but disease must have been at work for a length of time, to have accomplished such an object. He died in my arms without a struggle, and I had the melancholy satisfaction of giving his cold remains every honour that could be paid to a Field officer; and, there being no Clergyman present at the time of his demise, of also reading the Funeral service over him myself.[11]

However, not all events in Quilon were doom and gloom. Later that year one of the Colonel's daughters was married. As there was no Anglican church in the town, it is very possible that it took place in the Residency.

In the Oriental Herald for for April to June 1825 appears the following notice which probably refers to events in 1824.


"Marriages.—Oct. 18th. At Quilon, Capt. C. Maxtone, commanding Resident's escort, to Bellina Sophia, fourth daughter of Lieut. Col. Com. Welsh, commanding Travancore subsid. force."


Figure 5. The Residency.

In 1837 the Rev. Daniel Tyerman visited Quilon and left the following account of the Residency and the events in the surrounding area. He provides quite a good general history of events in the area from the time of the capture of the town from the Dutch.

Being now within a short distance from Quilon, and the road to it through Travancore being practicable, we thought it advisable to set off immediately for Quilon, and pay our visit at Nagercoil on our return. Mr. Mault kindly accompanied us, and we passed through Trivanderam and Anjengo, and arrived at Quilon on the 25th of July, and put up at the mission-house.

Quilon is a town situated on a flat and low ground on the sea-shore, in lat. N. 9°, and long. E. 76° 30'. This is not the place which formerly bore the name, but is comparatively modern. The ancient Quilon is situated two miles up the coast to the north; it is also on the sea-coast, and is now almost forsaken. Here was a strong fort built by the Portuguese, but it is now entirely destroyed. When the English took possession of the town, they blew up this fort. Near the site of the same is the ancient town, situated in a grove of cocoa-nut and other trees. In its prime it was a considerable place, and laid out in regular streets, which are still to be seen. But few of the houses are yet standing and inhabited, and only two of the churches are now used for public worship. Nothing of importance is to be seen in this place, only the ruins indicating its former dignity. Between it and the present Quilon is the palace of the Divan, who is the prime minister of the Travancore government. Several small pagodas are to be seen, but none of much importance, excepting the carpenter’s pagoda, which is a pretty extensive and curious building, in the style of architecture which is peculiar to Travancore. The town is a scattered place, consisting of several streets and bazaars, under the shade of trees. The south side of the town is occupied by the barracks for the accommodation of native troops, which are officered by Englishmen. Here is an English Episcopal chapel, in which the Rev. Mr. Spring[11] officiates, who is a pious and excellent man. The house of the resident is near the town. It is a large and handsome house, with a spacious lake, called the Backwater, in front. Colonel Morison is the present resident, a man of high character and respectability. Dr. Macauley is the medical gentleman, possessed of great kindness, hospitable feelings, and piety. A deep and wellformed canal runs between the town and the sea, and is nearly finished. It is made by the Travancore government, and extends a considerable distance.[13]

Figure 6. A canal cutting near Trivandrum.

The photos by Zacharias D' Cruz include one of a canal in a deep cutting.It is not certain where this photo was taken. It is quite possibly the one described above. As the photo was taken many years after the account above it probably shows a later maintenance operation. Kollam was one of the very few sources of building stone on the entire Malabar coast that was easily accessible by water, and Visscher says that stone from Kollam was used by the Dutch for many of their forts along the coast. To the left hand side of the photo can be seen a number of very substantial lumps of stone.


Fig 7. The line of the artifical canal cut at Kollam.

The population of Quilon, and the numerous small villages near it, amounts to about 40,000, and not more, according to the statements of the most intelligent. The Malayalim language is that which is most generally spoken, though the Tamil is also spoken by a considerable number The medical men speak of the whole kingdom of Travancore as being healthy, though the atmosphere is humid, and the country has been occasionally visited by cholera.

The mission-premises are well situated for health and the sea-breezes, being close to the beach. The compound is large and good, and contains two habitable bungalows, and several out-houses, in one of which a school is kept. Mr.Ashton resides in one of the bungalows; the other will, we presume, be occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Thomson, who were to sail from Madras two or three days after we left it, to go to this station.

In this mission are nine boys' schools, containing 450 children, and one of girls, in which there are twenty-seven pupils, very lately commenced. On examining these schools, two or three of which were too remote for us to reach, we had much reason to be satisfied; and we found them in as good a condition as schools in general in India. Many of the boys read well, and are acquainted with Watts's First and Second Catechisms. But little could be expected from the girls. The Malayalim and Tamil languages are taught in the schools.

Here are four readers and assistants, of whose piety Mr. Ashton speaks favorably. They are well employed in visiting the schools, and in going to the villages around, of which fifty are visited by them, where they read the Scriptures to the people, and converse with them on the great things of God. One of the schoolmasters, whose name is Chrishna, has given pleasing evidence of having cordially embraced the gospel. He is one of the readers now. These readers, and all the schoolmasters, Mr. Ashton meets at his own house every Saturday, for the purpose of instructing and conversing with them.

Mr. Ashton visits all the schools that are near five times each every month, and those that are distant twice. He catechises the children; and in going and returning, he converses with such persons as he meets with on the road.

English preaching has not been introduced here by the missionaries; but there are thirty, sometimes forty, natives, to wham Mr. Ashton preaches, and to whom he reads the Scriptures, &c., and he has reason to hope well of several of them. Some of the children at the schools -have given pleasing evidence that the sacred truths which they have been taught have had some power on their minds, for they have refused to go and gather flowers for the idols of their parents.

Mr. Ashton, you are aware, is a country-born young man. He appears to be decidedly pious, and entirely devoted to his work.

When at Quilon we were not more than twenty-four hours -from Cotym, and the Syrian churches, which have excited so lively an interest among Christians in England; and, being aware that the worthy Church missionaries there were desirous of seeing us, and that our having seen those Christians would be highly gratifying to you all, we resolved to pay them a short visit. Dr. Macauley lent us his boat; we proceeded up the Backwater, a series of lakes running parallel with the sea-shore northward, and seventy-five miles from Quilon, and arrived next day. Our pious and excellent friends received us with all the cordiality and joy of brethren and sisters, and showed us no small kindness. We saw all that was possible for the short time of our visit, both of the state of these churches, and of this mission among them: we shall give you a general idea, in as few words as we can. The whole Syrian population in Travancore amounts to 13,000 families, perhaps about 70,000 individuals. They have fifty-five churches still in their hands; the papists have appropriated several of others to themselves. These churches, in general, respectable the parish churches of our own country, though , of course they are of various sizes, and differ much as to the style of architecture. Some of them are respectable buildings, and of a considerable extent. They have neither pews nor benches inside. At the east end there is a kind of altar, with steps, on which a cross is placed, and tapers lighted in time of worship. Their mode of worship strongly resembles that of the Armenian churches, and strikingly approaches, in different ceremonies, those of the church of Rome. Though they have crosses in their churches, there is no crucifix, nor carved image. The service is read in the Syriac language, of which the people know nothing; and but few of the Catenars are acquainted with it. The Catenars are the priests. Here is no preaching, and nothing in the whole service for their edification, but a short extract from one of the Gospels, which is read in the Malayalim language, which is the language of these Syrian Christians. Of course they are in a state of the most wretched ignorance. In fact, these churches are but so many limbs of popery, from which, as to doctrinal sentiment, they do not essentially differ. The Church missionaries have for their object the introduction of the pure gospel among these benighted Christians. The Rev. Mr. Bayley is engaged in translating and printing the Scriptures in the Malayalim language, and has made considerable progress. The Rev. Mr. Doran is at the head of the college, in which are fifty-one students and stout boys; twenty-eight of these are intended to be Catenars. On examining all the pupils in mathematics, Latin, Greek, English, etc, etc, we found them in a very reputable state of proficiency. The college-building is large and commodious, and there is in it a valuable library. The Rev. Mr. Baker is at the head of the school-system. Here is a sort of grammar-school, in which are sixty boys ; from these are selected students for the college. We found them also in an excellent state. Besides this there are fifty-five other schools, containing about 1000 children of the Syrian Christians, in different parts of the country. Both the college and the schools are conducted on principles which are decidedly evangelical, to which the Metropolitan does not object. He was from home, but we saw his substitute and representative. Of all the Catenars, there is but one, a young man, who appears to be truly pious. Mr. Bayley has been permitted occasionally to preach in the churches ; and a good understanding appears to exist between the missionaries, and the Metropolitan and Catenars.

Of these missionaries, with Mrs. Bayley and Mrs. Baker, we cannot speak too highly. They are truly pious, and breathe an excellent spirit; and appear to be greatly devoted to their difficult work. Mrs. Baker has one school of fine Syrian girls under her care. A church is about to be built here, in which the gospel will be preached, and all the students will attend there. The missionaries have service in their own houses on Lord's day, after the manner of the Church of England. We were greatly interested in this mission, which we trust will be instrumental of great good, though we fear that" its operations will be slow, and the hopes of good are distant. Persons more suited to the undertaking could scarcely have been found by the Church Missionary Society. The houses of the missionaries are excellent, their situations beautiful, and the neighboring locality exceedingly rich and fine.," [14]

Another visitor to the Residency was Bishop Spencer from Madras.


Quilon,December 19.

This is a very fine place, I mean the Residency, which is all that I have as yet seen of Quilon: It is beautifully situated in a very pretty park-like enclosure, almost surrounded by water; but the water is not, as at Balghauty, so near as to affect, as I suspect it must do there, the healthiness of the house.
We arrived here at five this morning, after the most noisy voyage I have hitherto experienced, as our boat was very frequently aground, and consequently obliged to be wedged through the mud by the shouting, yelling multitude, who seemed to spring up out of the sedgy banks where and whenever their services were wanted. We were exactly ten hours on the water, during which I snatched a little sleep occasionally, but literally by fits and starts. At one of our halting-places, a more than usual uproar made me open the door of my little cabin, and a very striking sight awaited me. We were close to a bridge, in the centre of which the if Tahsildar of the district, whatever it might be, a fine-look-ing fellow, with an ample beard, had taken up his position with his myrmidons to make his salaam and present his limes and tuberoses. The night was very dark, black as it is only in the tropics, and the banks of the river as well as the bridge were thronged with people, every man, with the exception of the rural authorities, carrying a bundle of flaming dry sticks, which he continually waved around and above us, while the long green graceful fans of the cocoa-nut trees caught the reflected light, and might almost have been mistaken for so many beautiful fire-works. I am sure that the most accomplished maitre de ballet could not have grouped his people better; the effect was quite theatrical. As we shot under the bridge the rush of the shouting splashing torch-bearers, the clash of the cymbals, and the perpetual rub-adub-dub of the drums, for they are not beaten in military fashion, but thumped, was quite exciting. Travelling, brings an Indian Bishop acquainted with strange company." [15]


[1]Photo from Julian Craig's blog http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1364985&id=1383732580
[2]The Madras journal of literature and science By Madras Literary Society and Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society page 214, published 1858, from an account written by Captain Heber Drury, 45 N.I.
[3] The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 154, by John Nichols, page 295, published in 1833.
[4]A History of india, from the earliest times to the present day. By Thomas Keightley, page 154 published 18.47
[5] Pyche Raja. Not the same man killed on November 30th 1805, but possibly the heir to his position. This was generally a nephew of the previous Raja, the son of one of his sisters.
[6]The Scots magazine and Edinburgh literary miscellany, Volume 74. Page 860, published January 1812.
[7] Captain Heber Drury
[8]Proceedings of the South India missionary conference, held at Ootacamund 1858. Page 70.
[9]Military reminiscences: extracted from a journal of nearly forty years ...
By James Welsh, pages 206 & 207. Published 1830.
[10] James Welsh, pages 209 & 210.
[11] The Reverend Francis Spring had previously been posted at Tellicherry. See  http://malabardays.blogspot.com/2007/12/founding-of-tellicherry-schools-in-1817.html
[12]Journal of voyages and travels by the Rev. Daniel Tyerman and ..., Volume 3,pages 204 to 208. Published 1832.
[13] Tyerman Volume 3, pages 204 to 208.
[14] Tyerman
[15]Journal of a Visitation to the provinces of Travancore and Tinnevelly: in 1840 & 1841... By George Trevor Spencer Page 80.