Monday, 7 May 2007

A Description of the situation in the Wayanad in 1797

From Extract Political Letter from Bombay
18th December 1796.

[Para] 15. "“By subsequent advices from the commissioners, dated the 23rd of August, we received a Copy of Colonel Dow’s Report of his Deputation into Wynaad, containing very interesting information relative to the former circumstances of the country, and conveying his ideas, as to the political importance of it.

The colonel commences by observing that the Wynaad, when viewed merely as an object of Revenue, appears to be inferior. Consequences as that Territory, as well as the Possessions above the Ghauts, in general, had been laid waste, and depopulated, and must therefore require a continued state of tranquillity and careful management, before any considerable supplies could be drawn from them, but that abounding in a fertile soil, and producing several Articles Valuable in Commerce, they would in course of time become ample Funds of Wealth.”

The report goes on to say that Col. Doveton who had escorted Tippoo Sahib following his defeat in 1791, had recorded that before his defeat “Tippoo had received 90,000 Rupees in revenues from the Wynaad”.

Raja Koorminaad had collected the Wynaad’s Revenue after Tippoo’s retreat, and quite possibly whilst Tippoo controlled the area, “for which he must of course have been accountable to our Government.”

In 1791 “Tippoo withdrew his Troops from the District in question, and established his advanced Post at Intacotta, which being situated on the borders of our Territory became his proper Frontier.”

The Political Letter then goes on to describe events in 1792.

““That during the war, the People of the [Pyche] Raja seized on the Wynaad as part of their ancient Territory and were at the Peace in possession” and the lasted quoted address to Bombay of June 1792 continues to state “That on the 6th of May 1792 a message arrived from Tellicherry from the Raja of Cotiote, stating that an officer from Tippoo had sent to the person in charge of Wynaad to deliver it up as the right of Tippoo and that similar letters had been sent by the same person to the Raja making the same demand.” Mr. Farmer not having then left Tellicherry, the Chief and Factor requested his ideas and directions on the subject, when he advised that the Raja should instantly send word, that the country being yielded to the English, he the Raja, could give no answer till he had informed the Chief of Tellicherry, but that, as Wynaad was certainly not including in the Grants of Tippoo, it could not consistently be retained, and that therefore the Raja must order the People to withdraw to the Boundaries of Wynaad, there taking a stand, and advising the Chief; if Tippoo’s people presumed to encroach beyond that boundary which the Bombay Commissioners then believed we had no claim to the Eastwards of, in so much that on the 9th of August they wrote to Tippoo’s Subahdar Hurry Purwae apprizing him “that as at the time mentioned by the Treaty we do not find Wynaad to have been under Calicut, we do not mean therefore to detain what was granted to the Company;

Writing on 2nd March 1797 Governor Duncan stated: -.

“the late untoward Events in one of the Northern Districts in the Malabar Province which it grieves me sorely, to have to relate, howsoever much they may appear to have primarily and in a great degree unavoidably flown, from the Rivalry and Dissentions between two Cousin Germane called the Raja’s of Coorimnad and Coltiote, the former progress and fortunate issue of which stand already narrated in the Revenue letter from this Presidency of the 18th of December last, as does their unexpected Renewal in my late address to the Secret Committee of the 12th of January of which a Duplicate is herewith sent—“

“2 You will Gentlemen already know from the first report of the Commissioners that all the Malabar Rajas feel and have indeed all along felt rather uneasy under the degree of Restraint and Submission that we have since the Peace with Tippoo Sultaun endeavoured to subject them to, among these none has been so turbulently impatient all along as the Raja of Cottiote, otherwise called for distinctions sake, and as being indeed his more proper designation the Pyche Raja, one of the members of the family of the Raja’s of that District who having during the late War with Tippoo remained in the Jungles when his other & Senior Relations fled for refuge to Travancore acquired thereby such a footing in the affections of the people, that even after his services returned at the Peace he maintained his influence, so as to have been considered by the first Joint Commissioners from Bengal and Bombay & Treated as the effective or at least the acting Raja, at the same time that, on his behalf & with his consent they settled most or all of what related to his District with the Raja of Coorimnad the son of his Mothers sister (all heirship amongst these Chieftains going in the female line) and who whom as his senior, he professed at all times the greatest deference so as to consider himself to be only the manager under his orders; but yet his conduct was on the whole so turbulent & refractory that in the year 1794 Mr. Stevens then the Supravisor concluded the five years settlement of the Coltiote District not with him but directly with the Coorimnad Raja his relation as being at the head of the house of Cottiote whereas there are several between hm and the Pyche (By misnomer called by us the Cottiote Raja) in order of succession not withstanding which the Pyche Chieftain has ever since the conclusion of this quinquennial lease proved extremely restless and jealous that it became soon after my entering on my present charge a serious and pressing consideration how to proceed in regard to him, in as much as he forcibly prevented the Coorimnad’s making the Collections under the quinquennial lease, to such a degree that the latter declared he could not pretend to go on with them without a force of 5 or 600 men of our Troops, in view to all which and also to enable us in pursuance of a Recommendation to that effect, from the Bengal Government to bring him (the Pyche) to account for his conduct in having put some Mapillas of his own Authority to Death, the commanding officer on the coast / General Bowles) was not only instructed to afford the Coorimand Raja the necessary support – but it was left to the last mentioned commanding officer and to the acting Supravisor Mr Handley (comprising the Civil and Military Superior Authority on the spot) to consider whether it might not be advisable in view to saving effusion of Blood if the Pyche Raja’s person be secured so as to prevent his protracting an insurgency by betaking himself an insurgent to the Jungle.

[1]Pyche Raja Notes from OIOC IOR F/4/32/894

Copyright Nick Balmer, March 2007.

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