Sunday, 12 August 2007

On to Manantoddy

Leaving Sultan Bathory, we were soon retracing our steps west towards Kalpetta, before turning off north west towards Manantoddy.

We were hoping to try to find the forest guest house which we understood to be beyond the town.

The drive proved to be along some very beautiful valleys lined with paddy fields, which were in the course of being harvested.

The farmers seemed genuinely pleased and somewhat surprised to see us, and waved friendly at us as we passed by.

Passing through Mananthavadi we headed out towards Thirunelly. Stopping several times to ask the way, we passed a Forest Headquarters before heading up into an increasingly dense and beautiful forest.

This high forest must be the nearest thing to the forest that Thomas must have experienced, and which he so obviously enjoyed. I would have loved to have had the chance to explore it, but my driver was horrified at the thought of going into the trees. It was full of snakes and very dangerous animals in his opinion. Quite possibly he is right.

Eventually as the track grew narrower and narrower we eventually reached a remote village, where monkeys appeared to out number people, and beyond it a forest camp.

On enquiring of a group of workers we were told that the camp was closed and the forest bungalow was not available. I couldn't help wondering, if this was not selective translation, as I think our driver didn't really fancy a night out in the wilds. Reluctantly turning around and returning to Manantoddy, our journey was rewarded however, because we spotted a tribal village complete with the same types of high watch towns built up against trees, that Thomas Baber describes in his 1833 paper "An Account of the Slave Population in the Western Peninsula of India, especially on the coast of Malabar... As contained in the Replies of T. H. Baber, Esq. to the Questions referred to him by the Right Honourable, the Commissioners for the Affairs of India.” on the conditions of the natives on the Malabar Coast.

Later in 1830 Thomas Baber gave evidence to a committee of the House of Lords in which he described the terrible state of these slaves. Answering questions put by the members of the committee he stated: -

What is the Character of Slavery in Malabar?

They are absolute Property, as much as the Cattle upon a Man's Estate; they are bought and sold in the same Way. A Slave generally sells from Five Rupees to about Twenty, or about Ten Shillings to Forty Shillings; when leased out the usual Patom or Rent is Four Fanams, which is about Two Shillings a Year. I could give a List of the several Castes comprising the whole of the Slave Population. There are upwards of 100,000 of them in Malabar alone, and they are in that abject degraded State that it is Matter of Astonishment that no Legislative Provisions have been enacted to improve their Condition. The very Appearance of them, particularly those in the Eastern and Southeast Parts, bespeaks their Wretchedness. Small in Stature, spare Arms and Legs, with large Stomachs, in fact more like Baboons than Men. Perhaps there is no Person who has had the Opportunity I have had of seeing and knowing these unhappy Creatures.

How are they dressed?

In the most retired Parts of the Country, with nothing but a Plaintain Leaf tied round their Waists; in the more open and cultivated Parts, a Waist Cloth, perhaps about Three Feet in Length and about a Foot broad, secured by a Knot in Front.

In what Kind of Labour are they more generally employed?

Agriculture; never as Domestic Servants. They are not allowed to come within a certain Distance of several of the Hindoo Tribes, or their Houses. Mopillas employ them occasionally in Domestic Labour.

But the Hindoos never?


Are they all Natives of the Soil, or are any imported?

There are none imported now, I believe. There were some imported from Travancore and Cochin, or rather kidnapped; many of them free-born Children, stolen during the Night-time. Many of them I discovered on the Plantation of a Native-born British Subject.

Was he convicted of having kidnapped those Slaves?

No, though he ought to have been. His Agents, that is, Persons in his Employ, were brought to Trial, and I think discharged in consequence of some Scruples on the Part of the Mohamedan Law Officer.

Did it appear that he was cognizant of their having been kidnapped?

The Resident of Travancore, Colonel Munro, sent me a Letter, which this same British Subject had written to him, soliciting his (the Resident's) Protection of his (the Writer's) Agent, who had been taken up in Travancore for this very Act, and requesting he would obtain his Release on whatever Terms might appear to him reasonable. This Letter, and all the Correspondence it gave rise to, I can produce, if it is their Lordships Pleasure.

What became of the Children?

I sent the whole of them back to their Parents, for which I received, through the British Resident, the Thanks of the Government of Travancore.

Can you speak as to the Character of Slavery in any other Part of the District?

In Canara, Malabar, Coorg, Wynând, Cochin and Travancore, it is of the same Description, and perhaps the whole Slave Population amounts to 400,000 Souls.

Is their Condition, as far as you have had Occasion to observe, much the same throughout all that Range of Country?

I think in Canara the Landholders treat their Slaves better than they do in Malabar, from the Circumstance of the Landholders being better Farmers and in better Circumstances.

In fact the Effect of the very heavy Demands of the Government from the Landholders falls on the Slaves?

To a certain Extent, certainly; as far, that is, as impoverishing their Proprietors.

That causes them to exact more severe Labour?

It is not on account of the Labour they exact, but that they do not subsist them as they ought to do. Often may they be seen in the wildest Part of the Forests and Mountains, digging for wild Yams for their very Subsistence.

They are quite a different Race from the other Inhabitants of the Country?

Quite different.

Is there not some Idea that they were the Aborigines of the Country?

They are supposed to have been the Aborigines of the Country. Their History, which, like all the other Indian Stories, is wrapped up in Fable, is as follows; Srb Parasu Rama was incarnated to destroy the Rajahs (Kheterees) then oppressing the Earth. After Twenty-one different Battles, he slew them all. To expiate which, it being a great Sin to slay Heroes, called Virahatirju dosham, he went to Gokernum, and having there performed Sacrifices, and prostrated himself to Varuna, he made the Ocean retire, and thus created 160 Kadums of Land. (Footnote *) He then went and brought the Arya Brahmins of the Sixty-four Grams, and to induce them to remain he went in Search of the wild People who inhabited the Forests and Mountains, collected them, and presented them to the Brahmins as Adiars, or Slaves, since which Period they have been considered as Jelm Property equally with the Soil itself.

These towers had been manned by slaves in the 1820's when Thomas travelled the area. The slaves had been tied to the land and were bought and sold together with the land.

It is hard to imagine the events he described taking place in such a beautiful area. These farms must look very much as they had done in his day. The buildings still match his descriptions.

Pulpally Day 6

Leaving the site of the Rajah's last battle we followed very much the same route that down which the Rajah's body had been carried in Thomas Baber's palanquin, on it's way to the Rajah's final resting place near Manantoddy.

Entering the small town of Pulpally, I got the sense that it is still in many ways a frontier town, full of new settlers who have arrived in the last fifty years to break in this new land in the Wayanad as plantations. It stuck me, in it's buildings and layout as being more akin to the towns that I visited in Australia or New Zealand, than to the older Indian towns that I have been to.

The cross roads at Pulpally.

I was looking for the spot that Thomas had used to pursuade the local inhabitants to inform him of the wherabouts of the Rajah and his supporters.

I before said that one of my objects by getting in the inhabitants of Pulpilly (Pulpalli) was to obtain accurate information of the rebels. This I did not think prudent to commence upon too early lest they should take alarm. I preferred trying all my persuasive means to gain their confidence and to wean them from their connections. For this purpose I had them before me and took every opportunity of representing the folly of countenancing a body of men so truly contemptible, and who had no other end than to involve them in one common ruin. I pointed to them in the strongest colours the power and lenity of the British Government, and at last, what with exhortation and occasional presents, had succeeded in inducing several of these, who had been of most essential service to the Raja’s party, to send their Paniyars (Paniyar – agricultural labourers) out in quest of information. I took the precaution of swearing all whom I employed to secrecy.
With many agents, I could not fail of success in some of them. On the 30th ultimo, three of them at last brought me intelligence of the Pyche Raja and all the rebel leaders with the exception of Palora Jamen (Pallur Eman) being then in the opposite side of the Kangara river, a short distance in Mysore, and this so unequivocally that I determined to act upon it...

Had this been an open area at the crossing of two tracks in the old village?

I don't suppose it will ever be possible to know for sure.

It is difficult to determine where the old centre of the town was. There is however a temple of considerable antiquity just outside the town, which Mr. Johnny believed to be the site of the original temple.

Mr. Johnny was anxious that I should not approach the temple too closely, as apparently it still has a reputation for militancy. Not wanting to upset the locals, I was more than happy to remain at a little distance.

This temple had been called the Pulpalli Pagoda in the correspondance of the period, and was where Edachenna Kungan had first assembled 3,000 men to resist the East India Company in late 1802. In October 1805, the troops under Sub-Collector Pearson had reported that the rebels were using the temple once again as a rallying point.

Shortly afterwards, Pearson had fallen ill and had had to return to the coast, and Thomas Baber was moved up from the coast to take over operations in the Wayanad.

Mr. Johnny told me that he thought that the East India Company troops had camped in the field between the temple and the cross roads. I was unable to find out why this should be believed, but it is quite possible that this was so.

Knowing that the East India Company troops often made camps, I later looked up the area on Google Earth, only to be presented with a very real puzzle.

In the aerial photo, the temple complex can be seen at the bottom of the photo. Like so many temples, this one has a tank for ritual washing and water storage.

Look however at the tank more closely.

What are the light green lines in the water contained in the tank?

Do they not look very like the drowned footings of a previous temple or structure.

Was this perhaps a Jain Temple on the same site?

Many Jain temples remain abandoned or in ruins in the area.

At this point, Mr. Johnny asked if we should have lunch, and took us into a restaurant up a flight of stairs just off the cross roads. On entering the building my heart sank, for I knew it would be extremely rude to refuse to eat there, but I dreaded the state my sons and my stomachs afterwards, for it looked very unhygenic.

However, I really should have known better, for we had one of the very best of meals that we experienced during our stay in Kerala. My hosts made sure that we had a really authentic, no holds barred Wayand meal. It was fun to observe the way they ate the meal mixing in curds into the curry, rice and chilli sauces, to a point where they were not nearly as ferocious as they would have been eaten as they had appeared in their little dishes.

Both Richard and I really enjoyed our Pulpilly lunch, and our tummies remained completely unaffected by the experience, except for the pleasure of having eaten a memorable meal in good company.

It was with a great deal of regret that we dropped Mr. Johnny back at Sultan Bathory, before motoring on to Manantoddy.

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 4.

The final moments in the hunt for the Rajah are described in an account of events that Thomas Baber wrote at Cannanore on the 31st of December 1805.

Having said this much of the plan of operations that had been adopted, I now come to those which terminated the career of the Pyche (Palassi) chieftain.

I before said that one of my objects by getting in the inhabitants of Pulpilly (Pulpalli) was to obtain accurate information of the rebels. This I did not think prudent to commence upon too early lest they should take alarm. I preferred trying all my persuasive means to gain their confidence and to wean them from their connections. For this purpose I had them before me and took every opportunity of representing the folly of countenancing a body of men so truly contemptible, and who had no other end than to involve them in one common ruin. I pointed to them in the strongest colours the power and lenity of the British Government, and at last, what with exhortation and occasional presents, had succeeded in inducing several of these, who had been of most essential service to the Raja’s party, to send their Paniyars (Paniyar – agricultural labourers) out in quest of information. I took the precaution of swearing all whom I employed to secrecy.

With many agents, I could not fail of success in some of them. On the 30th ultimo, three of them at last brought me intelligence of the Pyche Raja and all the rebel leaders with the exception of Palora Jamen (Pallur Eman) being then in the opposite side of the Kangara river, a short distance in Mysore, and this so unequivocally that I determined to act upon it. I accordingly requested of Lieutenant-Colonel Hill to assist me with 50 Sepoys and an Officer, with which force and about 100 kolkars, half captain Watson’s Police, half my own locals, I marched at nine o’clock at night; and such was the secrecy in which we set off that our guides even did not know my intention until the moment we took our departure. Previous to this I had deemed it expedient to make a feint to divert the attention of the rebels (who I thought it probable might have their spies in camp) by detaching 70 of my kolkars, under the Sheristadar, under the pretext of going in pursuit of Palora Jamen who was reported to be in the Komanpany Mala in the South-eastern direction, while they had secret instructions after marching half-way to this mountain to strike off eastward to the Kallir Mountain and there lie in ambush near to paths to cut off the retreat of any fugitives who would, in most probability, go off in that direction in the event of our party coming up with the rebels.

The banks of the Kangara River

Such was the nature of the country that although we kept marching the whole night we did not reach the Kangara river until seven the following morning. Here we divided ourselves into two parties, and proceeding along the banks, observed a vast number of huts, all of them bearing every appearance of recent habitation: we continue marching until nine o’clock, when the detachment being fatigued, a halt was proposed. We accordingly halted, and having taken some refreshment, we again started, with the determination of tracing every jungly path: so fully persuaded was I, as well from the earnestness of our guides as the consideration that this was a part of Mysore that our troops had at no time penetrated or perhaps even thought of doing, that the rebels must be concealed in some parts of these jungles. After proceeding about a mile and a half through very high grass and thick teak forests into the Mysore country, Charen Subedar of Captain Watson’s armed police, who was leading the advanced party suddenly halted and beckoning to me, told me he heard voices. I immediately ran to the spot, and having advanced a few steps, I saw distinctly to the left about ten persons, unsuspecting of danger, on the banks of the Mavila Toda, or Nulla to our left. Although Captain Clapham and the sepoys as well as the greater part of the kolkars, were in the rear, I still deemed it prudent to proceed, apprehensive lest we should be discovered and all hopes of surprise thereby frustrated. I accordingly ordered the advance, which consisted of about thirty men, to dash on, which they accordingly did with great gallantry, with Charen Subedar at their head. In a moment the advance was in the midst of the enemy, fighting most bravely. The contest was but of short duration. Several of the rebels had fallen, whom the kolkars were despatching, and a running fight was kept up after the rest till we could see no more of them. Just at this time a firing was heard to the right; we accordingly returned, when we saw the sepoys and kolkars engaged with a fresh body of rebels, who proved to be of Coongan’s (Kungan’s) party, but who fled after a few shots had been fired at them and though pursued, were seen nothing more of. From one of the rebels of the first party to the left, whom I discovered concealed in the grass, I learnt that the Pyche Raja was amongst those whom we first observed on the banks of the Nulla, and it was only on my return from the pursuit that I learnt that the Raja was amongst the first who had fallen.

The Mavila Toda, showing the jungily terrain the fight took place in.

It fell to the lot of one of my Cutcherry servants, Canara Menon, to arrest the flight of the Raja, which he did at the hazard of his life (the Raja having put his musket to his breast) and it is worthy of mention that this extraordinary personage, though in the moment of death, called out in the most dignified and commanding manner to the Menon, “Not to approach and defile his person.” Aralat Cootty Nambiar, the only one remaining of those rebels proscribed by Colonel Stevenson and a most faithful adherent of the Raja made a most desperate resistance, but at last fell overpowered by the superior skill of one of the parbutties (pravritti) in Wynad; four other followers of the Raja were also killed. Two taken prisoners together with the Raja’s lady and several female attendants. There was no other property discovered, but a gold Cuttaram (Katharam or Kattaram – dagger) or knife and a waist chain; the former I have now in my possession, the latter I presented to Captain Clapham. And from the accounts of the Raja’s lady, they had been reduced to the greatest distresses in particular for the last ten days. The Raja’s body was taken up and put in my palanquin, while the lady who was dreadfully reduced from sickness was put into Captain Clapham’s. Finding any further pursuit of the rebel useless, we made a disposition of our forces and returned to Chomady which we reached about six in the afternoon without having met with any further occurrence on the road. The following day the Raja’s body was despatched under a strong escort to Manantoddy, and the Sheristadar sent with it with orders to assemble all the Brahmins and to see that the customary honours were performed at his funeral. I was induced to this conduct from the consideration that although a rebel, he was one of the natural chieftains of the country, and might be considered on that account rather as a fallen enemy. If I have acted injudiciously, I hope some allowance will be made for my feelings on such an occasion.

Thus terminated the career of a man who had been enabled to persevere in hostilities against the Company for nearly nine years, during which many thousand valuable lives have been sacrificed and sums of money beyond all calculation expended.

Not withstanding that every effort of moderation and lenity was pursued towards the Raja, nothing could get the better of his natural restlessness and ferocity of disposition, which, aided by evil counsels of his advisers, impelled him to the most desperate acts and produced an infatuation which rendered him insensible to the dictates of humanity or reason. His annihilation became necessary for the stability and security of the Government and its subjects. While this severe necessity existed, the recollection of the services he has performed during the infancy of our Government cannot but inspire us with a sentiment of regret that a man so formed should have pursued a conduct that should have thrown so insuperable a bar to all kinds of accommodations. To temporise further than was done would have been to yield, and to have yielded would have afforded a precedent which might have been fatal to the British Government in India.

But it will not be necessary for me to enlarge to you who are so well acquainted with this chieftain’s history, on the leading features of so extraordinary and singular a character. The records in England and India will convey to posterity a just idea of him”

It is quite obvious from the above letter, and others written later that Thomas came to have a very high regard for the Pyche Raja. He later wrote: -

“ regard and respect bordering on veneration which not even his death can efface.”

As Gopalan Nair wrote in 1911…

“These words were prophetic; more than a century has passed and his name is still cherished by the people as the Saktan Raja.”

Saktan means powerful or great.

The Proclaimations

By the summer of 1804, the local East India Company forces was still not able to contain the Pychy Rajah and his supporters. His men had been able to strike at villages within ten miles of Tellicherry itself.

A series of blockhouses had been built around the perimeter of the settlement at Tellicherry which were used to defend the perimeter. It was from one of these blockhouses at Kudroor that Thomas was leading efforts to suppress the rebellion beneath the Ghats.

Thomas Baber appears to have realised that it was only by controlling food supplies coming from the local villages, and which were being passed to the insurgents, that Thomas could make it more difficult for the Pychy’s men to operate in the coastal plain.

The Rajah's men were operating from the deeper forests, along the foothills of the Ghats, and these were unable to support his followers without supplimentary supplies.

On the 8th of July 1804, Thomas Baber issued the following proclamation from Cadoor. I believe that Cadoor is probably the same village was later called Kudroor, and which had a block house situated in it, which was subsequently used as a prison to hold the Yelleh Rajah, a prisoner from the Travancore royal family, and which was described by James Welsh following a visit he had made on the 20th of December 1812, when he accompanied Thomas Baber to the gaol that Thomas ran at Kudroor in the blockhouse.

Notice is hereby given that in consequence of the support given by certain individuals to the enemies of, and those who are in rebellion against the Company’s Government in affording them the supplies necessary to their existence thereby enabling them to continue their resistance to the established authorities to the great detriment of the Honourable Company, the hitherto latitude of trade is restricted in the export of supplies of all description from the bazaars in the northern division bordering on and in the district of Cotiote, and it is accordingly hereby ordered that no larger quantity of rice than one silver fanam’s worth, and articles in proportion be sold to any person not an immediate inhabitant of such bazaars, without producing a chit from the constituted authorities that such person is in allegiance to the Company’s Government. It is also ordered that no supplies whatever be carried out of these bazaars by any other than the public roads on pain of being apprehended and punished as rebels. In the bazaars of Tellicherry and Cannanore there are guards placed, who are directed to examine all roads, and to carry all persons who cannot give satisfactory account of themselves before the Cutwall for examination.

Cadoor (Signed) T. H. Baber
8th July 1804 Sub-Collector, N.D.

During the spring of 1805, in an attempt to separate the local population from the Rajah, Lieutenant Colonel Macleod, the local military commander published the following proclamation granting an amnesty to the villagers, if they would desert the Rajah. He had also been authorised by the Governor in Madras to offer rewards for the capture of the Rajah and his key subordinates.

Proclamation by Lieutenant Colonel Macleod Commanding in Malabar etc. to the Inhabitants of Wynaad be sensible of the injury which that District has sustained for a long time past, and of the distress which they and there families have experienced from their attention to the councils of ill disposed persons, as well as the many accidents and severe losses which they have consequently met with. It is therefore made known to all the inhabitants except those names underwritten and whose crimes are considered as of too great a magnitude to come within the bounds of pardons, that this Government of Madras have ordered into the District a large body of Troops under my command who will be permanently stationed here for the purpose of protecting those well affected as well as to punish those who contrary to their true interests may obstinately persist in their rebellious dispositions and endeavour to prevent the Restoration of Peace and good order which must ultimately prove their disgrace and down fall under this authority I hereby acquaint the inhabitants in General Eddackenna, Coongan, Comappa, Othaner and Amees excepted that pardon will be granted to all who submit themselves to me or to the Principle Collector at Panoita Cota and that the Government have empowered me to try and to punish by Martial Law all such as do not wish to take advantage of this Proclamation, and who may subsequently fall into the hands of the Troops.
Signed M. Macleod
Lieutenant Colonel

This Proclamation quickly reached the hands of the Rajah, who composed the following response. This response is fascinating because it allows us to clearly understand the grievances that the Rajah and his supporters held, arising from the burdensome EIC taxation to which they were being subjected.

It was these same grievances that Thomas Baber would later spend so much time trying to correct.

Translation of a Letter to Lieutenant Colonel Macleod Commanding in Malabar and Kanara etc. from the Principle People and Inhabitants of Wynaad.

We have received and read the Proclamation that you have been so kind to send us, and understand its contents.
You are acquainted that the Proclamation issued in the year 976/1801 ml/el offered protection to all of us and proscribed the Rajah and his Karryakars / Ministers when the great army entered the country at which time we accordingly submitted to the wishes of Government and resided in tranquillity.
Subsequent to this, in year 977/1803 ml/el when Sham Row was appointed Tesheldawe, he taxed the lands from whence we procured the means of conducting our religious ceremonies and also our other properties at double that they were equal to, and our funds were inadequate to payment of the Revenue demanded, we consequently met with treatment of the most disgraceful nature, and various other grievances, and altho’ our grievances were neither investigated or addresses, we still remained patient under them and obedient to laws, in consideration to our families, since which time that the Rebellion commenced in the years 978/1803 ml/el to the present day we have experienced the most severe losses and greatest distress which we again suffered a repetition of as there was no mode adapted for the admission of the Rajah and his Karriakars and for pardoning all kinds of crimes which had formerly been committed therefore of in the present Proclamation the admission of all descriptions of people is inserted, we should henceforth most likely reside quietly and unmolested under the Protection of the Honourable Company, otherwise on perceiving the particular name at the end of the proclamation upon which we are permitted to come in, & reflecting upon what formerly happened & and what may now be the consequences, we solicit for your permission to state it as the most advisable method that a general pardon should be given, and that we may all be allowed to remain happily under the honourable Companies protection and permitted to attend to the performance of our religious worship and ceremonies in conformity with ancient customs.

Dated 5th Koomburn 800 ML
14th February 1805 EJ.

It would appear that for the Raja the basis for a negotiated settlement quite possibly existed.

However it is not entirely clear what happened next, because the EIC appears to have decided that the only way to deal with the Rajah was by military means. By the beginning of March 1805, the rebellion had become sufficiently serious for another major military force to be sent into the area.

On the 8th March 1805 Lt Col. Macleod wrote to George Buchan Esq. The Chief Secretary to the Government in Madras: -

I have the honor to inform you that for the information of His Lordship in Council that the Field Detachment under my command entered Wynaad on the Commencement of this month, since which I have detached a considerable part of it for the purpose of rebuilding the redoubt at the top of Cotiote pass, in order to prevent the descent of any partly of the Rebels into the lower country.

Macleod went on to describe how he had sent a force up the main road from the coast towards Seringapatam, where it waited on the border of Wynaad for several days for a convoy of military supplies sent down by Major General Wellesley to Panarta Coalo on the 7th of March 1805.

These supplies were necessary to maintain the army in the field. Macleod planned to build a cantonment so that his forces could remain in the Wynaad during the monsoon.

This was something which had not previously been possible, due to the very high rate of sickness that would have resulted due to the lack of any shelter for the troops from the heavy monsoon rains. He intended to keep the 2nd Battalion 1st Regiment of Native Infantry, 1st Battalion 13th Regiment Native Regiment, and six companies of the 1st Battalion 12th Regiment Native Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Innes in the hills.

The success of the rebellion had ebbed and flowed with the seasons. In the dry season the EIC troops would enter the hills and force the Raja’s adherents into the remoter districts and into Coorg. Then as the monsoons broke the EIC grew sick and had to retreat to the barracks. This had been allowing the Raja to regroup and to recapture areas.

Throughout 1804 Thomas Babber had been operating in Chirakkal Taluk, the area of land below the Ghats, and inland of Cannanore and Tellicherry. This was the Pychy Rajas home territory.

However Thomas Baber's Nairs seem to have had their own reasons for dislikeing the Pazhassi Raja, and were loyal to the EIC. At some point in 1805 Thomas seems to have decided that they only way to end the war was to remove the Raja.

Thomas Baber acting on his own initiative took direct command of search and destroy operations using his own Kolkars, to identify and attack the insurgents. The achievements of Thomas and his Kolkars were recognised by the authorities in the following letters that Thomas later included in his 1815 Testimonial.

Extract of a letter from Mr T. Mardeen Principle Coll r to T.H. Baber Subordinate Coll r in Northern Division of Malabar dated 20th April 1805 –

I have read with particular satisfaction the reports which you have sent me of your extra-ordinary success against the formidable band of Rebels who lately descended into your district to exert their mostly despicable desperate efforts to excite the inhabitants to insurrection and have to return to you my warmest thanks for the promptitude & zealous energy with which you personally set an example to those under your immediate local authority to defeat with resolute perseverance the bold designs of the insurgents to their own confusion & ultimate destruction.

During May or June of 1805, an attack on a post at Choorcharry took place, led by Welatory Rama Thareakarar accompanied by Palara Yemen. A report from his trial on the 7th of April 1806 at Seringapatam survives, which gives a very good idea of the tactics the Raja’s supporters had been using to such effect.

A former servant of Welatory Rama Thareakarar, Yemen Nair, who had changed sides and who had become an EIC Holkar (or Kolkar) gave the following evidence: -

In May or June 1805, the prisoner & Palaro Yemen accompanied with about nineteen men armed with firelocks and about thirty Thooramans armed with Bows and arrows set out from Choorekooney; The party halted in the road during the day. & were joined by a reinforcement of Thoramans at night they proceeded & were met at a short distance from Choorekonnery by one of their spies who informed them, that the post was too strong and the Holkars to numerous to be attacked, on receiving this report Palora Yemen urged and persuaded the party to proceed, saying “go on never fear” Yemen then under the pretence that business of importance required his presence elsewhere, departed leaving the charge of the party to the Prisoner & desiring him to conduct the attack against the post of Choorekoony which he accordingly did that night.

Thomas and the EIC appear to have been successful in turning a number of Nairs like Yemen Nair.

It is not entirely clear exactly how many operations Thomas undertook to round up the rebels, but it is possible that the extracts set out below refer to the same events. Sadly, so far I have been unable to locate the original reports.

Extract of an extract of a letter from the Chief Secretary to Govt to Mr T. Mardeen Principle Collector dated 8th June 1805.

His Lordship in council having had repeated occasion to Commend the Zeal and activity of the northern Sub Coll r Mr Baber I am directed to desire that you will particularly inform that gentleman of their favourable opinion entertained by this Lordship of his Conduct.

Extract of a letter from Mr T. Mardeen Principle Coll r to Mr T. H. Baber dated 14th June 1805.

I have derived much satisfaction from your report of the (way) in which the seizure of the very noted rebel leaders Kassat Jematha, Chemurtherry Daisapsur, & Kayinder Koren is communicated.

The circumstances which led to the apprehension of these very important characters are to be recorded as additional Testimony of the Loyalty of the Inhabitants of Catish & Chasical which reflects no less credibly (sic) on the people themselves than on your own personal abilities & zealous exertions which have so essentially contributed to inspire that loyalty in their minds under a full conviction that their future prosperity is inseparable from that of the interest of the Hon’ble Companies gov’t.

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 3.

The final approach to the Pazhassi Raja's Camp, taken by Baber's force on 30th November 1805.

Thomas Baber in a report written in December 1805 set out the thinking behind his operations to defeat the Pazhassi Rajah.

From this time, the rebels began to experience the miseries of want, and their supporters, the Chetties, to be sensible that a perseverance in their conduct would only entail disgrace and ruin upon themselves and families. Still I found that they paid deaf ear to all our promises of protection and thundering declarations against the rebels, all of which the inhabitants considered and with great reason, as so many vauntings, for with all our means our forces, our resources, our reiterated offers of reward, we had not succeeded in apprehending any one rebel of consequence. It became, therefore, an object of the first importance to direct our views to this one subject, and which, now the rebels were confined to one part of the country, was become the more necessary, since matters were brought into that train as to afford every reasonable hope of success.

As the rebels had entirely fled into the Wynad Hobali, I deemed it necessary to go in quest of them without loss of time; having, therefore, made my arrangements at Ganapady Watton (Ganapativattam – Sultan’s Battery), I proceeded to Panarote Cotta (Panamaratta Kotta) and there solicited of Colonel Hill, a detachment lightly equipped to accompany me. A detachment of 200 men was in consequence held in readiness, and on the [blank] Lieutenant-Colonel Hill with 3 officers, accompanied by myself and 200 of the police, marched to Pulpally (Pulpalli). Nothing material happened on the road: not a single inhabitant was to be seen, although many of them had presented themselves some months previous to the officer of Government. But it was not to be surprised at; they were principally Chetties, conscious of the double part they were acting; they had fled to the mountains, and many of them with their families were followers of the Rajah and his leaders. A few movements of our troops soon brought the inhabitants to a sense of their own interest; they had been driven from mountain to mountain, their jungly huts were destroyed, their families were reduced to the greatest distress. They had seen with surprise that no injury was offered to their habitations or cultivations and they began now to conceive the idea that we were as ready to protect as we were powerful to punish them. I soon learned this their situation, and as they had been so situated as not to derive the smallest support from our Government, I conceived they merited our most favourable consideration as it was possible they might have been compelled to have espoused the rebel interest. I, therefore, sent them invitations to come in, by which I hoped not only to induce them to throw off all their connection with the rebels and become good subjects, but to obtain from them that information which I know they must possess of the rebel retreats. The invitations were accepted, and in the course of a few days most of the inhabitants within several miles of Pulpally had made their submission to me.

Continues in part 4.