Monday, 4 June 2012

News of Major Cameron's Defeat reaches Britain.

Major Cameron played an unwitting part in the story of Thomas Baber and this may have given an edge to Thomas Baber's later hunt for the Pyche Rajah.  The Major was the husband of Helen, who once widowed went on to become Thomas Baber's wife and who stuck with him throughout all his later troubles.

News of the Major's death which had taken place on the 18th of March 1797 reached Britain shortly  before the 28th of August 1797. It is a measure of just how serious an incident this had been, that the news was thought to warrant overland post.

Usually the dispatches to Britain went by sea, and would have taken many more months to have arrived in London. An overland dispatch had to go via the Red Sea to Egypt and on to London by ship via the Mediterranean, and would have cost approximately £400, a very large sum in those days, the equivalent of  annual salary of a senior official or Colonel, per letter.

The following report was picked up by the Reading Mercury, most probably from a London Paper published a day or so before.

Reading Mercury - Monday 28 August 1797

Friday and Saturday’s Posts.

Yesterday a Court of Directors was held at the East-India house, for the purpose of reading dispatches received over-land from Bombay.

Their purport is understood to be of a disagreeable nature, but by no means so hostile to the peace of India as had been reported.

In consequence of some dispute between Tippoo Saib and the Rajah of Cotiote, respecting elephants, a detachment of our troops, consisting of a thousand men, headed by Colonel Dow, marched towards that province, for the sake of ending the dispute by treaty or arms; when, on passing Wynaad into Cotiote, they were attacked by the refractory Rajah Pyche.  On the early retreat of Colonel Dow, the command devolved on Major Cameron, who after a gallant resistance, fell at the head of his troops.  In this unfortunate action we lost 300 men. And great part of our ammunition.
The following is a list of the killed and wounded.

Killed.  Major Cameron, Lieutenant Nugent, Ensign Mudge, Ensign Ruddiman.
Wounded.  Captain Budden, Ensign Fallow.

In consequence of the above unhappy contest, Governor Duncan, attended by General Stewart, proceeded from Bombay to Tellicherry, in order to confer with the Ministers of Tippoo, leaving Sir Charles Malet and Mr. Page, in charge of Government.

The latest advices from Bombay state the agreeable news of Tippoo’s return to Seringapatam, from what had been termed a hunting party; and of every prospect of tranquillity being about to be restored to the Cotiote Province.[1]

A full report of the action in which these men were killed is given in my Blog of Wenesday 27th December 2006, The Death of Major Cameron. [2]

[1] From the British Library Newspaper Collection.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The adventures of Robert Adams,

One of the earliest and most influential Chiefs of the English Factory at Tellicherry was called Robert Adams.

It is not entirely clear when he first arrived in Tellicherry but he is recorded as having retired on the 10th of March 1728.

Adams was believed by Alexander Hamilton to have made considerable sums in private trade during his time in India. This allowed him to retire to live in Cavendish Square, one of the grandest addresses in London at that time, having been developed by the 2nd Earl of Oxford and John Prince starting in 1717.

The Square was home to so very well off people including the Dukes of Portland and Chandos.

On his death in 1738, the following curious note was included in the Derby Mercury dated 13th April 1738.  That paper had most probably picked it up from an earlier London Newspaper published a few days earlier.

"On Saturday last died at this house at Cavendish Square, Robert Adams Esq; one of the Directors of the East-India Company, and formerly Governor of Tellicherry in India, for the Said Company.  The above Gentleman, when in India, being once a Hunting, and being separated from his Company in the Woods, was attacked by a Tyger, who seiz'd him by the shoulder, but he at the same time pierced him with a Lance thro' the Body, which occasioned their both falling; but he happily disengaged himself. and the Tyger died of his Wounds.  Mr. Adams brought the Skin of the Tyger over into England, and has had ever since the Tyger added to the Family Arms."

Much of the money that Adams had made during his time in India is believed to have come from making loans of Tellicherry Factory funds to the Zamorin, who used it to fund his wars with the Dutch from Cochin and especially those at Chetwai.

These loans had not been sanctioned by the Board of Directors of the East India Company, and so Robert Adams found himself in some difficultly when the Zamorin was later in many of the repayments.  Mr Adams made a journey to Calicut in order to try to recover the money.

The EIC authorities fearful that he might abscond, placed his wife (sister to Alexander Orme at Anjengo.) under restraint at Tellicherry to prevent them both running away. However after a while she was able to board the Decker, a vessel bound for Fort St. George, and in this vessel she collected her husband at Calicut.

William Logan writing in the 1870's was unable to trace the Adams subsequent movements, but thanks to the power of the internet we now know that they got away to London to a comfortable retirement.