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Cuddalore History: 2006

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alexander Hamilton's Account of Fort St David

Alexander Hamilton was an Interloper, trading to India. An Interloper was someone who was from Britain who was not an official of the East India Company. He travelled and traded extensively around the Indian Coastline between about 1688 and 1723.

It is not possible to date his visit to Cuddalore exactly, but it was probably after 1700.

Fort St. David is next, a Colony and Fortress belonging to the English. About the Year 1686 a Moratta Prince sold it to Mr. Elihu Yale, for 90000 Pagadoes, for the Use and Behoof of the English East-India Company. The Fort is pretty strong, and stands close to a River; and the Territories annexed to the Fort by Agreement, were as far as any Gun the English had, could fling a Shot, every Way round the Fort; but whether the Buyer or Gunner were Conjurers or no, I cannot tell, but I am sure that the English Bounds reach above eight Miles along the Sea-shore, and four Miles with in Land. The Country is pleasant, healthful and fruitful, watered with several Rivers that are as good as so many Walls to fortify the English Colony. And ever since the Time that Aurengzeb conquered Visapore and Golcondah, there are great Numbers of Malcontents and Freebooters that keep on the Mountains, and often fall down into the open Country, and commit Depredations, by ravaging and plundering the Villages; and all the Mogul’s Forces cannot suppress them.

When the English bought Fort St. David, the Dutch had a little Factory there, about a Mile from the Fort, and the good-natured English suffer them still to continue a few Servants in it. Our Company did not find so much grace from the Dutch at Couchin, nor the gentlemen of Bantam and Indrapoura, when the Dutch seized those Places. It is true, the Dutch can drive no open Trade there, but what they must pay the English Company Customs for.

About the Year 1698 the Freebooters aforementioned had almost made themselves Masters of the Fort by Stratagem and Surprize. They pretended, that they had been sent from the Mogul’s Vice-Roy at Visapore, to take Charge of the Revenue collected at Porto Novo, and to carry it to the Treasury at Visapore, and desired Leave to put their feigned Treasure into the Fort for a few Days, to secure it from the Moratta Freebooters aforementioned, who, they said, were plundering the open Country, which Favour Mr. Frazer, Governor at the Time, granted, so they brought into the Fort ten or twelve Oxen loaded with Stones, and each Ox had two or three Attendants, and about 200 more of that Gang, who came along with the Carriage Beasts as a Guard, lodged themselves in a Grove near the Fort Gate, to be ready, on a Signal given, to enter the Fort. The Freebooters within took an Opportunity the very next Morning, and killed the Sentinel and a few more that were asleep in the Gate-way next to the Grove; but, before they could break the Gate open, the Garison was alarmed, and killed all their treacherous Guests, and the Ambush without being come into the Parade before the Gate, met with so warm a Reception, that they retreated in Confusion, and the English pursuing them, killed severals, but lost some of their own Men.

Mr. Frazer ordered directly the Grove to be cut down, for fear of future Danger from it, but Fort St. David being subordinate to Fort St. George, the Governor and Council there called Mr. Frazer to their Court, and fined him for Presumption, in cutting down so fine a Grove for Enemies to skulk in, without Leave asked and given in due Form; but; their Right Honourable Masters adjusted all that Matter, and ordered the Fine to be refunded, with the Interest; but Governors of different Views and Humours seldom agree.

This Colony produces good long Clothes in large Quantities, either brown, white, or blue dyed, also Sallampores, Morees, Demities, Gingees
Missing line
Assistance of this Colony, that of Fort St. George would make but a small Figure in Trade to what it now does.

The River is but small, tho’ very convenient for the Import and Export of Merchandize. And Cuddelore, that lies about a Mile to the Southward, is capable to receive Ships of 200 Tuns in the Months of September and October. The Rivers have both of them Bars, but are very smooth, whereas Fort St. George is always going ashore and coming off.

The Company has a pretty good Garden and Summer-house, where generally the Governor resides; and the Town extending itself pretty wide, has Gardens to most of their Houses. Their black Cattle are very small, but plentiful and cheap. And their Seas and Rivers abound in good Fishes.

From Alexander Hamilton's "A New Account of the East Indies."

Posted by Nick Balmer at 8:46 AM 3 comments: Labels: 18th Century, East India Company, Fort St David, History, India, Sepoys

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Raworth's Rebellion 1713

Cuddalore History

Richard Raworth’s Rebellion

To Lieutenant Patrick Johnson,

Lieutenant Hugonin being indisposed I hereby order you
to take charge of the Company in the ffort and follow these
If any Gentleman from Fort St George comes
to the Fort, conduct him to ye Guard room at present my
appartment, but show him no more respect, then you
would a private merchant, if he has a Guard with him
of Europeans or Peons, suffer no one to enter the Fort
without my particular order,
And if he offers a paper to be read, immediately forbid
Him, and order him to the Chamber above mention’d, and
Your Soldiers to their arms, nor would I have you suffer
Him, or any belonging to him to talk with then.
Give the same orders to Cuddalore for the Execution of this
Shall be sufficient Warrant; Dated in Fort St
David this 8th October 1713.

R Raworth Deputy Gov’r

By the authority by the Governour
Order you to obey these orders
I am
Patrick Johnston.

With this document Richard Raworth announced that he intended to break away from the East India Company, and to take control of the factory at Fort St David. This event was to provide John De Morgan with his great break. By distinguishing himself during the crushing of this rebellion he came to the notice of his superiors and was promoted Sergeant.

Somehow the Madras authorities heard of Raworth's take over bid, and at once resolved to send a force to remove Raworth and to reclaim the fort. This force first had to make its way past the French settlement of Pondicherry.

Diary of all Transactions and Occurrences on the
Worsp’ll Henry Davenport Esq. His Journey
From Fort St George to ffort St David began ye 5th of
October 1713 & Consultations held since.
Octob 5 1713

Monday 5 This evening about six a clock took leave of the Hon’ble Edward Harrison Esq’ at ye ffort, and sett out for Fort St David and took the mount way, being accompanied with Mess Benyon, Boon, Trenchfield and Walker to that place, besides those ordered to ffort St David, namely Messrs Baker, Weld, Captn Poirier, Gunner Hugonin, three Corporalles and nine centinells, and Peons; upon arrival at Mount wrote the Honble Edward Harrison Esq by Mr Benyon.

Tuesday 6 This morning about half an hour after four, we set out from the mount, and at tenn a Clock arrived at Tippalore, and near three in the afternoon left it, and came to Sadrass at six in the evening, where we lodged all night.

Wednesday 7 We set out from Sadras by break of day, and by twelve a clock got about 20 miles on our way, and within two hours and a halfs march of Mercawn, stoping to refresh at Mongoode, in the Long wood, wher we dined, and were overtaken by a Dutch Tappa Peon from Pullicatt, going to Negapatam with a Dutch Packquett for that Place, we reached Mercawn this night, and lodged there where one of our Horses faultered. This morning Henry Davenport wrote the Hon’ble: President at our seting out, and sent it way by Tappys.

Thursday 8 About four in the morning we left Mecawn, and by nine a Clock got to Boomapollum, from whence ye Deputy Governour wrote the Hon’ble President by Tappys, here we Dined, nd at three in the afternoon, sett out from thence, we pass’d Pondicherry about four a Clock in the afternoon, when the Deputy Governour sent in Gunner Hugonin w’th his Letter to Governour Dulivier, acquainting him of his passing by his Garrison, and should be glad to serve him where he was agoing.

Fryday 9th We left Connygoil three quarters after five in the morning, & entered the Company’s bounds of Fort St David half an hour after, passing by Condapah Choultry with out any resistance, and then crossed Penny River by boat and a Cattamaran, having sent for Peter Ackman Officer of Cundapah Guard and acquainted him of his obedience and Duty to the Rt. Hon’ble President and Councell of Fort St George Commission to Henry Davenport Esq. Who’s orders he was to follow as being sent commisary and Deputy Governour of ffort St David, the Deputy Governour ask’d him if he knew of his coming, to which he answer’s no, so soon as we were Land’d on the South side of the river between the ffort and his guard he fired an allaum Gun, w’ch was immediately answer’d from Horsetail point firing another, and the like from ye Fort hoisting the fflags for signalls of enemys, as usual in time of Warr, in the mean time we kept on our way till we came to the Bore Chitteees Tope, where we stopt expecting Cap’t Poiriers return from the late Deputy Governour Robert Raworth Esqr. To whom Henry Davenport Esq’r (at our arrivall by Penna River) sent with a generall Letter from the President and Councell of Fort St George to the said Robert Raworth Esq’r accompany’s with another from himself signifying the occasion of his coming, and three letters by fellows in Coolies habit to the following Gentlemen of his councell, namely to Mssr’s Berlue, Woodward, and Houghton, and alfrom tht Post so to Lieutenant Hougonin and Hobbs, importing the same to them, and requesting their obedience to his authority, given him by the Hon’ble President & Councell of Fort St George after an hours stay at said Bode Chittees Tope, Messr’s Berlu, Houghton and Burton, came & acknowledged their obedience to Henry Davenport Esq’r and gave him the relation Enter’d after this diary, not withstanding which and the danger we were to expect, we set forward towards the ffort, and advanced to Tevenpatam Gate, w’ch the officer of ye Guard a Serjeant named Hans Stuport shut against us and made his men stand to their arms, and declared he had orders from Robert Raworth Esq’r to let no strangers in, which oblig’d us to hault , when the Deputy Govenour sent Mr Berton up to the Gate, and told him Henry Davenport was his Governour and Mr Raworth was Dismissed, and acquainted the said officer with the powers we had brought, afterwards, we return’d about a quarter of a mile from that Post, Mr Hugonin was order’d back by Henry Davenport Esq’r

On the 17th of October the Madras force reached the bound fence approximately 2500 yards from the northern end of Cuddalore town. The Choultry was a travellers rest house and place where merchants could store their goods and do business as they entered the settlement.

Saturday 17th Between one and two this morning Ensigns Handle & Ackman were sent with forty good men to endeavour to surprize Cundapau Choultry and Horsetail point, about four the deputy Governour was advis’d they had gott possession of the former, w’ch they found deserted, they put a guard into it, and immediately advanced towards Horsetail point, where they found only one Gunner, who upon their entering was going to fire an allarum Gun, w’ch. Ensign Handlee prevented by threatening him if he did not instantly lay down his match he was a Deadman.

By five this morning the whole body march’d for the bounds where soon after they arriv’d, and advanc’d to Cundapau Choultry where we drew up our men, Deputy Governor order’d Serjeant John D’Morgan with twenty men to keep possession of that Post, and Sergeant John Cordall with Andrew Middleton and twenty men to Horsetail point, immediately after we passed ye River when was sent a Peon to Ensign Hobbs to summon him to his obedience to the Right Hon’ble: Company, and for what was pass’d shou’d be fogott; he return’d answer that Mr. Raworth was his Governour & he knew no other, so cou’d not quitt his post without his order after we were all over the river, we march’d towards the Company’s Garden always taking care to be undercover from the Forts Gunns, when haulted within a hundred & fifty yards of the Garden Gate, fronting before which they had thrown five or six thousand crows feet to prevent our advancing on them, the Deputy Governour sent Mr. Burton to summon the officers and soldiers to return to their obediene to the Right Hon’ble: Company, who all peremtorily refus’d except Sergeant Fox that came to us upon secng summons and submitted himself to the order of the Deputy Governour, telling him that Mr. Raworth had kept ye men in a Continuall heat of Liquor, which he believ’d was the occasion of their being obdurate, during this parly a single Horseman from the Fort who we perceiv’d came to view us, and immediately return’d when Mr. Raworth was so kind to salute us with an eighteen pounder, which fled just over our heads, and litt between us and ye Garden, this was enough to provoke men of the best Tempers to have reveng’d themselves, when it lay in our power to have Cutt off every man that was lodg’d in the Gardens but to shew Mr. Raworth and the rest of his rebellious Crew, we delighted not in blood, we march’d to secure Cuddalore, between which and Trepopalore he fir’d a second shott at us, w’ch: did no mischief, and was was soon after taken up and brought to the Deputy Governour, at Ten we enter’d Cuddalore by the Braminy Gate, which finding shutt Mr. Hugonin jump’d over the Pallasadoes, and open’d the Gate by Cutting the barr in two, we took possession of the point (finding no body upon it) with a Barrell and a Jarr of Powder; the Forces were drawn up when the Officers were order’d to draw out their men and take possession of severall Guards, after this the Deputy Governour went to Mr. Farmers house which he makes his residence for himself and all the Gentlemen.

Soon after arriv’d at Mr Farmers house, we spy’d Mr Raworth’s Pinnace put out to sea, which we supposed somebody upon her was running away, upon enquiry we were inform’d twas sent by Mr. Raworth to take his Dubash Dossery, who had run away from him on a Cattamaran, this fellow is a great a villain as ever came into ye bounds, and had done as much mischief; the taking of this servant wou’d be of grat service to the Company in making him confess the many ill actions of Mr. Raworth, to whom he was his chief Councellor, so the Deputy Governour order’d a Chillinga imediately to be well man’d and sent upon her a Sergeant and Six Soldiers, with a promise to ‘em if they took ye. Boat, to give ‘em a months pay gratis.

Whilst we were at Dinner Mr. Raworth from ye Fort fired severall Gunns the shott of one of them fell through a house near Chellumbum Gate which was brought to the Deputy Governour.

At five this evening eight Horse Consisting of Trumpeters, Gardeners, and Cooks dismounted when they were over Penna River and attack’d Condapau Choultry first firing at them, and then threw Granadoes w’ch: Sergeant D;Morgan bravely defended, killing and mortally wounding five and took as many horses, the Sergeant of that Guard arriv’d here that night with his men, who refus’d to stand by him Mr. Raworth having threaten’d for that action to bring his whole force against them, which being about five miles from us t’woud be impossible for us to assist them.
This afternoon the Deputy Governour receiv’d a Letter from Mr. Raworth in answer to his sent him yesterday, Coppy of w’ch: is enter’d after this Diary.
At four this morning the Deputy Governour dispatch’d a Letter to the Hon’ble President, advising that we were in possession of Cundapau Choultry, at six that we had Horsetail Point, and at Ten Cuddalore.

Throughout this rather strange affair the Deputy Governor Raworth, and the new Governor Davenport kept up a rather curious correspondence, in which both parties tried to make it appear as if they are acting correctly.

The letter referred to above was recorded as follows: -

“Cuddalore Saturday 17th At a Consultation present The Worsp’ful Henry Davenport etc. “

From Mr. Raworth


I receiv’d the letter you sent me w:ch I now return not being able to find the Gentleman to whom it is adrest, the late Deputy Govenour of this place, having departted to Fort St. George the ultimo August last.
I likewise send you the Coppy of a Protest, which I sent to Pondicherry not knowing but you were there, w:ch I again lay to your Charge the blood which by your order was shed yesterday, by that vile rascall John De Morgan and his party. I further declare you a Traitor to the interest of the Rt. Hon’ble United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East India, for having in so irregular and unlawfull manner Enter’d the Town of Cuddalore, and spread seditious stories you have done, with the assistance of Messr’s Berlu, Baker, Woodward, and Houghton for w’ch I don’t at all doubt you’ll receive your reward, towards which I will contribute what lyes in my power, not withstanding in the former Course of my life, I have always approv’d my self.

Fort St David Sr
18th October 1713 Your most faithfull
Humble Servant
Rob:t Raworth
D Governour

After the Consultation at Fort St George on Friday the 18th of March 1714 it was minuted that: -

“Serjeant John De Morgan, being very well qualified and having behav’d himself remarkably well during the troubles at Fort St. David.AGREED that He be made Ensign to the Second Company of this Garrison, in the place of Ensign Gardener formerly discharg’d. Serjt. Jno. De Morgan havg. Behav’d himself well in ye. Troubles at ffort St. DavidHe is made an Ensign.

Posted by Nick Balmer at 7:14 PM 2 comments: Labels: 18th Century, East India Company, Fort St David, History, India, Sepoys

Monday, November 13, 2006

Soldiers at Fort St David 1709 to 1720

The following notes come from my recent research into one of my five x great grandfathers John De Morgan who arrived in India in 1711 as a private and eventually rose to become the commander in 1745 of Fort St David near Cuddalore.

In the course of this research I have unearthed many stories covering the lives of many of the ordinary soldiers, which I believe deserve a wider hearing.

The Dutch established the original factory at Devanampatam (Fort St David) in about 1670, and later built a fort 700 yards north of the mouth of the Gadilam River. They quitted both places in 1678. The Madras records say that their departure was partly owing to a dispute with Sivaji.

In 1680 the Dutch returned to Cuddalore and obtained from the Marathas a grant of land there and permission to erect a factory; as will be seen later, they were in possession of the Devanampatam fort and had a lease of Manjakuppam at the time that the English bought Fort St. David in 1690; in 1693.

As so often in British History, some of the earliest soldiers were recruited in Ireland.

"October Monday ye 24th1709 Captain Courtney producing a list of the soldiers, raised by him in Ireland arriv’d here in the Hallifax & came ashore the 15th Instant, y’t they are much out of all manner of Cloathing, they being in number about thirty three & y’t they are all in Generall wanting shirting, and by a list of 15 of them they want Coats, Shoes, and Stockings, does now make his application to the board requesting they may be Cloathed, Ordered that the doe deliver what coats he hath in stors, to those that want them, so farr as they goe, as likewise Shoes stockings, & white cloth enough to make y. 2 shirts a piece, & yt. an acc’t of ye same be kept apart to be deducted out of their monthly pay."

Just as in modern times, complaints of failings in the soldiers equipment were common place.

"Agreed and order’d ye bross Dougo, and Amaru Ferrara be entertained in Capt’n Hugonin Company as Topasses pay as usuall."

Topasses were "men of the hats", called as such to distinguish them from Peons who were native born Indian's and who wore turban's. Topasses were generally of Portuguese or mixed Portuguese descent at this date.

As was also the case in Britain wrecking, or the recovery of cargo from wrecked ships was seen as a perk belonging to the local rulers. Just as in Cornwall, the locals usually got their before the rulers. The East India Company attempted to write clauses into treaties which overrode this custom in neighboroughing states for East India Company vessels.

"Thursday October 27th1709 There having been a little boat belonging to a sampan bound from Cuddalore to Madrass but meeting with Contray winds were forced back again & by a squall of wind y little boat was broke away from her stern & drove ashoar a little way out of our bounds were Sirrup Sing Tuncaneers have seized her pretending (tho’ falsely) their masters have a right to all wrecks within his Government, which is contray to several Cowles & Perwanna’s granted to the Rt. Hon’ble Comp. By ye form’r and successive Kings of ye country, & of late years from Gulphus Cawne. Is therefore agreed & ordered ye Mr. Farmer do send out twelve soldiers & twenty Peons & ye the owner of the boat to go along with them, & y’t Mr Farmer do acquaint Capt’n Hugouin with our order to the end he may send out such men, as he may confide in under the command of Sergeant Brooks, to the end he may avoid any Hostility, but that they bring in the boat & w’t belongs to it.. "

Upkeep of the buildings and fort infrastructure was a constant battle. Gunpowder was key to the forts survival, I imagine that it was more regularly maintained than the other buildings.

"SatterdayOctober the 29th 1709 The Power rooms in the Fort being very much decayed, & not safe to keep a Quantity of Powder in, tis agreed to build a new Powder Room in such a place, as shall be thought most proper for it as also a new Choultry at Cuddalore which is ready to fall down so consequently very dangerous for any to be there."

It would appear that facilities for the troops were rather rudimentary. One poor man who had only just arrived in India, and who was quite probably already ill when he arrived slipped and fell into the moat. Did they have a washroom in the barracks?

Probably not.

"30th October This morning John Henry one of the new soldiers in ye Garrison was unfortunately drowned in the moat just by the Fort Gate going to wash himself.

MondayYe 14th November 1709 Inclosing in the aforesaid generall came a Commission from the Hon’ble Councill appointing y’t Lieutenant Hercules Courtney to Command a Company of Soldiers made out of Capt’n james Davies Company at ye Fort w’ch is to consist of 150 men besides new soldiers come upon the Frederick & Hallifax, Capt’n Davis, & Capt’n Courtney having divided the two companies ‘tis agreed y’t Capt’n Courtney’s Company be drawn up, & his commission read at the head thereof with ye usuall manner of delivering him ye half pike."

The offices were often as drunk and disorderly as the men, and often fell out amongst themselves.

"March 21st 1709/10 Quarrel between Capt’n Courtney and Capt’n Davis."

Just as in modern times Cuddalore is frequently swept with huge floods as the waters come down from the huge inland catchment area which stretches away over 250 miles to the west, nearly to the Ghats.

"April 3rd 1710 This day broke our a Large Barr to the Southward of the ffort occasion’d by Great Rains & Currants of Water w’ch came out of the Country. Fort St David."

The gunners were considered a cut above the rest of the ordinary soldiers, and lived apart in the gunroom. They had priviledges not granted to soldiers, such as the right to brew Toddy or Arrack for sale to the visiting sailors. Sadly however this did not always work in their favour, for when the ships were absent, which could be nine or more months away, they tended to drink themselves into oblivion. They were less likely to leave the fort on escort duty, and were more prone to commit suicide than were the soldiers.

"19th June 1710. Thomas Cassar is entertained in the Gunroom at the usual pay to serve 3 years.

Stephen Deas a Topass is entertained in Capt’n Davis’s company at the usual pay."

"20th June 1710. This morning Capt’n James Davies arrived from Madras overland & brought with him a general letter dated the 17th Instant.

21st June 1710. David Antony, Bastian Antony, Anthony Lopes, Lewis de Silva Topass are entertained in Capt’n Davis Compy at the usual pay.

Monday June 26 1710. Anthony de Rosiro is entertained in Captain Hugoens company at the usual pay."

In the unsettled conditions recruiting went on at an increased rate with many of the men being of Portuguese, or mixed Portuguese Indian race. These men were called Topasses and where valued more highly than Indian’s who were known as Peons, but less valued than northern European’s.

"Wednesday, August 2 1710.

Gaspar Roy, Joseph Row, Antony Texeira, Manuel De Costa, Dominigo de Mount, Pasqual Deas & Ventura Ferrera are entertained in Captain Hugonin’s Company at the usual pay of Topasses."

It would appear that the European's and the Topasses were paraded together in the same companies.

Conditions for the soldiers were often extremely harsh, and the distant EIC board was less than sympathetic to the conditions of their men who were often underpaid and in arrears.

The ready availability of drink did not help matters either. The right to sell or “farm” arrack to the troops was sold by “outcry” or auction every year. The farmers often gave credit to the soldiers, and then tried to claim the money back directly from the EIC at pay day. This led to many abuses.

"Monday August 21st 1710.

At a Consultation.

They allso order in said General that for the future no Retailer of Arrack do presume to trust any of the Millitary, below the degree of sergeant, on penalty of loosing their money & that no stoppage be made at the pay Table but for Diet & Ammunition Coats, which order they would have published in Cuddalore, & Tevenapatam, by beat of Tom Tom & fixing papers in Several languages at the usual places which is accordingly done & notice given that the arrack license (w’h expires the last day of this month) will be put up at Publick outcry at the fort on Monday next being the 28th Instant."

The combination of depression, homesickness and drink all to often led to men going off the rails. As is illustrated by the following deaths the following month.

3rd September 1710.

"Last night Corporal Knight run off his guard Villarenutta about one mile out of our bounds, where he killed a man & was brought in this morning after having been severely beat by the country people.

8th. This morning said Corporal died & was interred in the Evening."

Even without drink, life was often short. Between 30 and 40 men were landed as soldiers each year at Fort St. David. Within a year only about 10 would still be alive.

"17th This morning James Hearn a Centinell of this Garrison departed this life & was interred in the Evening."

These survivors were especially valued as they were considered as "seasoned" because they were seen as being more likely to survive than would new recruits. The soldiers contracts were for five years, and these seasoned men were often offered large bonuses to sign on again, rather than to return home. This was not alturism on the part of the East India Company, but hard headed business sense, because the cost and waste in new recruits was enormous. Only men at the margins of society, or refugees would sign on in Europe, as they recognised it to be a one way trip for all but a tiny lucky minority.

Even the officers were often so drunk that they could not maintain discipline.

"18th Sept 1710.
And it being ordered in said Genl; to break Ensign Carter his Commission for Sergeant Brooks to be made Ensign in his stead. Was this day read at the head of the Company & Delivered him.

Francis Sharhaler, Enoch Vouters, & Loucas Carly are entered in the Gunroom at usual pay."

Ensign Carter had been so incapacitated by drink when six of his men deserted, that he had not been able to take steps to stop them.

“They likewise advise that the orders sent them hence for reducing Military Officers pay according to what appointed by the Honbl Compas. Letter recd. Per the Susannah has caus’d a great noise and putt the Garrison upon a ferment, insomuch that on the 27th. last past a Sergeant & five Centinells deserted and run away with their arms, and a great many more designd to doe the like had they not been prevented in due time by a watchfull eye over them, They also advise that Ensign Carter was timely advis’d of their running away but being drunk took no notice of it till four hours after they were gone, and this having been his frequent practice, of which he has been often admonish’d, it’s therefore Agreed that he be broke and that a Commission be drawn out to appoint Sergt Edward Brookes (he being well recommended to us) Ensign, in his stead.”

Sergeant Brooks had previously run the armoury at Cuddalore.

"2nd October 1710. Sergeant Brooks being made an Ensign the care & charge of the armoury at Cuddalore becomes vacant thereby & Sergeant Hobey being esteemed a fitting Person to officiate in the said employ tis agreed that he should look after the same.",

Life as an East Company Soldier appears to have been fairly tough during this period.

Nick Balmer
December 2006


Madras Gazetteers South Arcot published 1906 Page 38
From British Library
IOR G/18/2/PT3,
IOR G/18/2 PT2.
IOR G/18/2 PT2.
IOR G/18/2 PT2.
IOR G/18/2 PT2.
Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 92.
IOR G/18/2/ PT 2.

Posted by Nick Balmer at 10:13 PM 1 comment: Labels: 18th Century, East India Company, Fort St David, History, India, Sepoys

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Dutch Arrive at Cuddalore

Cuddalore History

Although Captain Bickley and the English East India Company had traded briefly at Tegnapatam during 1624, it does not appear that the town was particularly attractive to the English merchants. Between 1624 and 1680 it appears that trading was carried out all along this coast but that no permanent base seems to have been acquired at Cuddalore.

The nearby towns of Porto Novo and Pondicherry seem to have offered better opportunities for trade. Porto Novo is located about 18 miles south of Cuddalore, and was originally founded by the Portuguese.

Alexander Hamilton described Porto Novo, which he visited at some time after 1688 and before about 1720 as: -

“the next Place of Commerce is Porto Novo, so called by the Portugueze, when the Sea-coasts of India belonged to them; but when Aurengzeb subdued Golcondah, and the Portuguese Affairs declined, the Mogul set a Fouzdaar in it, and gave it the Name of Mahomet Bandar. The Europeans generally call it by its first Name, and the Natives by the last. The Country is fertile, healthful and pleasant, and produceth good Cotton Cloth of several Qualities and Denominations, which they sell at Home, or export to Pegu, Tanasareem, Quedah, Johore, and Atcheen on Sumatra. The Bulk of the people are Pagans.” 1

Some idea of the scale of the trade by the East India Company from Porto Novo during this period can be gained from the following account of an attack by “Xaigee” on the port, which is contained in a letter dated 19th October 1661.

“Wee are much aggrieved to heare how you are abused by the Surat Governor, and that hee hath confined you prisoners to the Companies howse. If this bee indured by these governours, they will presume further; and wee have the like complaint to present concerning Xaigee (whoe is father to him that is the Visapore generall and hath Mr. Revington in durance); for hee came here in July last [1660]to Porto Novo and robbed and pillaged the towne; whereof the Companies merchants were the greatest loosers, having taken from them in elephants, calicoes, broad cloth, copper, benjamen, etc. goodes to the value of 30,000 pardawes, and are utterly unable to pay the Company their remaynes in their handes, being about 4,000 pa[godas], unlesse our masters will license us to vindicate them by their shipping at sea, for this Xaigee hath now Porto Novo in possession. And shall expect your advice how you will direct us for the vindicating of our masters in this businesse and their merchants. These happaing but two days before the arrival of Capt. Kilvert in the Concord in that port: whome we had appointed to take in those effects, but instead of goodes brought us these sad tidings." 2

William Foster identified Xaigee (as the English wrote in 1660) as Shahaji, Shivajis father, but it would appear that Shahaji died in about 1657 while on a hunt, after falling off his horse, so this does not appear to fit, and it must be another Mahratta.

It is not clear where these goods assembled at Porto Novo came from but it is quite likely that they came from not just the town itself, but also from the villages in the hinterland, including probably Cuddalore and its surrounding villages.

The requests for permission for “vindication” in the phase “to vindicate them by their shipping at sea” might be asking for the right to carry out retaliatory raids on Indian shipping by privateering. It would appear from correspondence in the following year that much of what the Mahrattas had seized was actually not just goods belonging to the East India Company, but also private trade goods belonging to the EIC merchants themselves. No doubt this personal loss gave an added impetus to seek revenge in order to try to recoup their losses.

A small team of East India Company employees were based in Porto Novo, and these men were employing local labour to wash and pack the cargoes for onward shipping.

“one Samuell Hanmer, whome the Company hath appointed, with some other English, to goe upon the ship for Pollaroone. This Hanmer hath had employement from us in Porta Nova and Pullecherry, imbaling our goodes and looking to our washers, till the places were destroyed by the Vizapore’s army… With this same Hanmer there goeth six English [Soldiers]" 3

On the 28th of November 1660 Chamber and Shingler at Madras wrote home that there was now no reason for ships to call at Porto Novo since “the towne is wholly destroyed and all the merchants totally ruined by Xagee, the Visapore King’s generall.”

The town of Porto Novo recovered in time, but the focus of trade moved to Cuddalore over the following years.

K. Kanniah in his book Cuddalore on the Coromandel Coast under the English says that Damiao Paes, a Portuguese was appointed Captain of Cuddalore in 1584, and that he rebuilt the port with the approval of the Nayak of Gingee.

There appears to have been an Indian fort on the northern bank of the River Gadelam, which pre-dated the arrival of the European’s.

The focus of development appears to have been at Devanampattinam, which later became the site where the English eventually laid out the site of Cuddalore New Town.

The Dutch had probably visited the port before 1608, however it was in 1608 that they secured permission from the Nayak of Senji to rebuild the old Indian fort at Devanampattinam.

In 1632 on the 5th of November Emanuel Altham an EIC factor at Armagon thanked Colley for sending some goods up from the south by a boat belonging to “Mallaioes” which had arrived in great danger at Tegnapatam, having narrowly survived a great hurricane. So it would appear that the port was being used for coasting trade.

The Dutch established factories at Porto Novo and Devanampatam (Fort St David) at a later period, and built a fort at the latter some 700 yards north of the mouth of the Gadilam River. They quitted both places in 1678. The Madras records say that their departure was partly owing to a dispute with Sivaji’s men about shipping dues at Porto Novo and partly owing to a dispute because their masters at Batavia, the Dutch head-quarters, had been “abating and cutting off of their Quallety’s, sallorys and allowances.”

However this may be, one day in 1678 several of their ships appeared off the coast and the Dutch “did then immediately imbarque all their goods, lumber and weomen and send them away to Pollicat.” In 1680 they returned to Porto Novo and obtained from the Marathas a grant of land there and permission to erect a factory; as will be seen later, they were in possession of the Devanampatam fort and had a lease of Manjakuppam at the time that the English bought Fort St. David in 1690; in 1693, they took Pondicherry from the French and held it for several years afterwards; but otherwise their doings had little effect on the chronicles of the district and it will not be necessary to refer to them again.” 4

Sadly at present we have not been able to locate any extant Dutch or Portuguese records of events in Cuddalore or Porto Novo during this period.

We would be very pleased to hear from anybody who can point us in the right direction for further contemporary accounts of these ports.

1 Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies:… page 353.
2 William Foster The English Factories 1661-64 page 50.
3 Foster page 51.
4 Madras Gazetteers South Arcot published 1906 Page 38

Posted by Nick Balmer at 7:56 PM 2 comments: Labels: 18th Century, East India Company, Fort St David, History, India, Sepoys

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The First English Trading at Cuddalore

Cuddalore History

That there was fierce competition and rivalry between the different European nations for trade along the Coromandel Coast is clear from the following events at Karikal and Tranquebar, and that it was probably these events that caused the English to move back north up the coast to Cuddalore.

Captain Bickley arrived at Karikal on the 23rd of May 1624. On the following day he landed some Portuguese prisoners he had made at sea. The Danes from nearby Tranquebar soon learned of their arrival.

May 29. “The princypall of the Danes sent a letter unto our chief merchante, Mr. Joseph Cockram, that we were best for too departe, for there was no trade there too bee had for us, because they had formed [farmed] all the seaports of the Kinges between Nagapatam and Pullacatt for the use and benefit of the Kinge of Denmarke; therefore willed us agayne to bee gone, or else they would send us awaye in haste. Wee badd them doe theire worste, for wee would staye in spite of them all, they being three to one. And soe the partteye that brought the letter departed with his answer.”

Bickley then goes on to write that this Danish commander was probably James Mountney who had sailed in Captain Pring’s expedition in 1617.

On the first of June the Danes sent one of the three large ships they had on the coast to check them out“and demaunded of whence wee were. I bad them looke up to the flage; so presentlye hee departed, without any more wordes the one too the other.”

On the 2nd of June the Indian Governor of Karikal received a letter from the ruler of Tanjore saying that the English were welcome to trade on the coast. On the following two days the English landed two demi culverins as presents for the ruler. These were large cannon of considerable power. No doubt these cannon were a highly acceptable gift to the ruler of Tanjore, as they must have materially enhanced the power of his army.

The Danes meanwhile were taking practical steps to make things as difficult as they possible could for the English ship in order to drive it away. There was probably already trouble amongst the English crew, for on the 6th of June 1624 ten of her men deserted with the ships pinnace. This rowing and fast sailing boat was designed to be able to operate independently of the Hart, and was the type of boat that the English habitually used for scouting and raiding.

Almost immediately these deserters turned pirate and flying the English flag they took what was referred to as a junk. This ship belonged to the Governor of Negapatam and was carrying silver worth 8,000 rials of eight. They then sent a letter to Karikal inviting the other members of the crew to run away and join them. Five more English sailors ran away to join the previous deserters.

This of course left Captain Bickley short handed, and in deep trouble with the local Governors over the piracy. The Danes were not slow to exploit these difficulties. They offered the ruler of Tanjore great bribes to get him to refuse to deal with them.

By the 11th of July the English had sailed on to Tranquebar, where they landed at the fort. The Danes: -

“did couller there former malice in givinge that entertainement unto our merchants, the which they did not exspeckt at there hands; for at there coming and goeing they shott of 150 peece of ordinance from there forte and out of there three shipps. This out of there love gave us a plaster for to cure the wound they gave us at the Kings Courte.”

This demonstration of Danish potential firepower probably gave added cause for Captain Bickley to sail north to Tegnapatam. A return visit by the Danes to the ship on the 14th was cancelled. The English merchants returned to the Harte on the 15th but so many English sailors were missing ashore that they could not sail. Bickley suspected the Danes of enticing them away “by menes of James Mounttany.”

After presumably sending parties ashore to round up his sailors, the Harte finally sailed away on the morning of the 17th of July 1624. The Danes saluted her parting with at least forty guns. As this number of cannon shots was considerably more than the captain would have normally been entitled to by his status, it is likely that there was an element of derision and mockery in the Danes cannonade.

That evening they anchored off Tegnapatam “right against the Malloyes howse, the which is Governour of that towne of Tignapatann.”

On the following day, the 18th of July Mr. Cockram a merchant on the ship landed to “see the Malloyes brother” about some cloth they were to take on board their ship.

On the same day Captain Bickley wrote: -

“When you are are thwarte of the roade you shall see a great pagod, the which when yt is West and by northe from you, then it is just over the Malloyes howse… the Malloyes howse is all very white, and soe it is about the pagod, the which is too bee sene at the least four or five leages of in faire and cleare weather.”

They only stayed off Tegnapatam for one day before sailing north on the 19th of July to Poullaserre or Podasera, which is thought to be Pondicherry. It was described as being four leagues off from Tegnapatam. The town had a very white pagoda in the middle of the town.

Timber that the Harte had bought from Batavia was landed for the Malloye who appears to have controlled much of the trade along this coast, as he appears several times in the accounts of trade up and down the coast as far as Pullicatt. On the 23rd of July an official of the Ruler of Tanjore came on board the Harte and offered the merchants a house and the right to settle in Pullasera. The merchants said that they would return with an answer next year. Between the 24th and 29th of July they loaded salt into the ship as ballast, before departing on the 3rd of August for the north.

The voyage appears to have been a commercial disappointment to the East India Company merchants. The diary of John Goning at Batavia contains an entry dated 20th of November 1624. It is interesting because it shows that the English were still at that point not really interested in locally made cloth and but been hoping to tap into the pepper trade. They were hoping to find that pepper grown on the Ghats inland of the Malabar coast, which was denied to them by the dominant Portuguese and Dutch who controlled the Malabar ports like Kochi and Calicut.

“The ship Hart arrived heer from the Coast of Coromandel. In her returned Mr. Joseph Cockram and Mr. Georg Bruen, with others sent to settle a factory in the Nayck of Tanjours country, having effected nothing ther, more than the buying in of 19 or 20 bales of cloth; finding the country to yeeld but little pepper of a very small sort and that allwayes much wett with the fresh water in portage from the upland mountains. Allso they found the Naick or King very covertous, expecting very great presents yearly, besides payment of 7,000 rials of eight every yeer for use and custome of his porte Cercall, which he would apoynt for us. Howbeit, they found the porte Poodysera, in another Naiks country nearer adjoining to St. Tome, to be a fitter place to procure all sorts of clothing, therabout or about Petepoly made, then in the said Nayck of Tanjours land; and from Naick of Poodysera they had a writing giving the English leave the next yeer to come and settle ther, paying only the custom of 2 ½ per cento, or renting the porte, as wee can best agree.”

Posted by Nick Balmer at 1:25 PM No comments: Labels: East India Company, Fort St David, History, India

The First English arrive at Cuddalore

Cuddalore History

The earliest record of an English ship visiting Cuddalore that I can find occurred on the May 21st 1624 when Captain John Bickley made his land fall at Tegnapatam, whilst sailing in his ship the Hart from Batavia to India as he recorded: -

“Tignapatam hath over yt a greate pagod and a whyte howse which is sene some three leagues of. 1”

Tegnapatam was the name by which the Dutch and early English voyagers called Cuddalore. Captain Bickley goes on to describe the coast.

“To the southerd of Tegnapatam some three leages there is four pagodas, as it were four great trees… This four pagodas is a towne so called by the names of Quarter" (2) Pagodas. Allsoe four leages too the southward of the four pagodas is a towne called Portanovy (3) , and three leges too the southward of Porttanovy is a town called Tremeldanes (4). …And three leages to the southward of Tremeldanes is the towne of the Danes, where they have there forte, called Trenkcombar(5). And some two leagues and a half too the southward of this forte is the porte of Carracall (6)."

The earliest English voyages to Asia were made to buy spices. Captain Bickley was returning from Batavia where he had been trying unsuccessfully to load pepper, due to opposition and intervention by the hostile Dutch employees of the VOC.

The London grocers and leaders of the Levant Company aimed through despatching ships to Asia to compete with the Portuguese in the spice trade when they established the East India Company in 1600.

When James Lancaster on his first expedition in 1591, entered into the Indian Ocean, he sailed directly into the Bay of Bengal on his voyage towards Malacca and the Spice Islands bypassing India entirely.

During this voyage and the other subsequent voyages between 1600 and 1608, the aim of the Company Directors was to reach the Spice Islands and not India.

It was only when it was discovered that the Spice Islanders did not wish to buy the unsuitable goods the European ships carried, and that they would only accept silver coinage in exchange for spices, that the English began to cast around for alternative ways of financing their trade.

By the third voyage to Asia profits had reached 234 per cent, however the English Government was becoming increasingly unhappy about the amount of silver coinage that was leaving England for the east. Silver in England was in short supply, and in any case originated from the Spanish American Empire.

The English had had to resort to robbery from local shipping to balance their trade, on the earlier voyages by removing goods from local vessels arriving from India, and selling them as their own.

Through this plundering the East India Company [EIC] had become aware of the considerable amount of trade occurring between India and the Spice Islands. Their ships had already seized Indian vessels travelling to Java, Malacca and Bantam, and had observed that the Indian merchants were able to exchange Coromandel textiles with the islanders for spices.

Like the earlier Portuguese traders, the English and the Dutch who faced similar problems, tried to break into this existing Asian trade between India and the Spice Islands.

So although the first trading English posts in India were set up on the west coast of India where they could break into the existing trade routes between Persia and India, the East India Company soon realised that it had to have its own trading posts on the Coromandel Coast, in order to purchase the cotton required by the islanders.

For whilst Gujarat produced the highest quality silk and cotton textiles, what was required for the trade to the Spice Islands was not silk but the cheaper cottons of the Coromandel, which sold so well to the Spice Islanders.

Although the first English voyage to India in 1591 had pre-dated the first Dutch voyage made in 1595, the Dutch with their greater expertise in running merchant shipping very quickly followed in the footsteps of the English.

With a stronger capital market in Amsterdam, the Dutch East India Company [VOC] was better able to finance its voyages than the East India Company was. The VOC soon had a market capitalisation nearly ten times as great as that of the EIC.

Dutch ships of the period were also technically superior to English ships for bulk cargo carrying, and needed smaller crews than did the equivalent English ships. As had previously occurred along the Atlantic coasts of Europe, the Dutch had rapidly become the cargo carriers of choice for the Atlantic and Baltic bulk trades.

During the same period other European nations including the Danes had quickly followed reaching the east coast of India by 1619, establishing a post at Tranquebar. Many of the employees of the Danish Asiatisk Kompagni were in fact Dutch sailors and merchants who were excluded from the Dutch East India Company, or who were former employees of the VOC.

Due to the monsoons the textile trade was seasonal for the European’s. The ships leaving the Bay of Bengal preferred to load during January each year. The local textile producers found it difficult at first to keep up with the increase in demand, and were also used to producing textiles annually to suit the domestic market, which had its peak period, during the marriage season.

At first the European ships felt their way along the coast calling at anchorages and coastal villages. Contacts were made with local Indian merchants who were already in the habit of trading with Indian and South East Asia shippers and merchants.

Very quickly it was found that it was more efficient and cost effective to establish agents or factors on shore, ready for the arrival of ships, rather than having ships wait off shore for months whilst cargoes were assembled. The factors would collect pepper or textiles throughout the year, overseeing their washing, packing and baling and storage in warehouses called godowns, until such time as they could be loaded into the ships.

These anchorages and factories were necessarily located at the major river estuaries along the coast such as the Kaveri, or Godavari.

The Dutch, Danes and English were entering into waters already full of active Indian and South East Asian merchants. Security was also a major concern, so that the sites occupied where often island sites at some little distance from the major existing Indian towns.

Local merchants strongly resisted the granting of trading rights to the northern European’s in these centres of existing trade, because they were well aware of the dangers of letting the Europeans establish themselves, following their previous experience at the hands of the Portuguese.

The first English factory was at Armagon in the Bay of Bengal, a town just north of the Pulicat lagoon.

“when in 1626 the English settled at Armagon (Durgarajupatnam ) they obtained from the local Nayak the right to coin pagodas and fanams.”

Shortly afterwards a second factory was established by the English at Masulipatam [nowadays Machilipatam] in the delta of the Godavari River in 1628.

By 1624 the situation for the English on the west coast had become very difficult, as their major trading factory was located at Surat, which was the major Mogul trading port. The Mogul traders and officials were becoming very hostile.

English ships had been seizing and plundering Mogul, Arab and Turkish vessels. The local merchants were understandably up in arms about their losses.

In 1624 due to these disputes the East India Company factors at Surat were locked up in prison, whilst huge fines were levied to compensate the aggrieved parties. It was very unclear if the EIC could continue to trade in the Mogul Empire.

This empire spread across the northern plains of India from Lahore and Surat to the mouth of the Ganges. However to the south a number of independent and semi independent Sultanates and states existed. These offered alternative routes to trade with the Indian subcontinent, even if the north was to be denied to the English.

So with Surat and quite possibly the other Mogul ports closed to them it was decided to try the Tanjore kingdom’s ports. Earlier voyages had been made to Masulipatam and also Pulicat, so that the Coromandel Coast was not entirely unknown to the English.

Mr Johnson the Factor hoped to find sufficient pepper in Tanjore to laden the Hart in three months at 18 rials per bahar of about 330 lb.

The Hart had left Batavia on the 27th of March 1624, and had narrowly survived a hurricane on the 28th of April. On the 9th of May they crossed the Line .

“May 21 Tignapatam hath over yt a greate pagod (10) and a whyte howse which is sene some three leagues of.”

The captain went on to describe the coast.

“To the southerd of Tegnapatam some three leages there is four pagodas, as it were four great trees… This four pagodas is a towne so called by the names of Quarter Pagodas. Allsoe four leages too the southward of the four pagodas is a towne called Portanovy."

These four great pagodas are thought to include the one at Tirupapuliyur, and those at Chidambaram.

That these great pagodas should look like trees to the English sailors “four pagodas, as it were four great trees” is not surprising if you compare their profile with the following drawing of an Elm Tree by John Constable . These great dark trees, which towered over the English countryside, must have looked much like Chidambaram pagoda.



The Hart did not land at Tegnapatam at this first visit, but sailed towards the south to anchor at Karikal on May the 23rd.

On May 24th the captain and the merchants went ashore and where kindly entertained by the Governor

“wee being the first English ship that had ever bin in theis partes before.”

The Indian governor at Karikal was friendly, and promised to advise the King at “Tangeur” [Tanjore] of their arrival.

1.The English Factories in India, 1624-1629 by William Foster published 1909. Pages 13 & 14.
2.This is probably from the Portuguese quarto meaning four. The reference is probably to the four gopuras of the great temple at Chilambaram, which are visible from a considerable distance out to sea.
3.Porto Novo
4.Discussed in Foster, thought to be Tirumullavasal which appears on Linschten’s and Hondius’s maps as Tremalavas.
7.58’ 48.16”N, 09’ 21.59”E
8.Notes from The English Factories in India 1655-60, by William Forster Page 34,
9.The Equator.
10.The temple at Tirupapuliyur.
11.Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia.
12. Photo from

Posted by Nick Balmer at 10:00 AM No comments: Labels: 18th Century, East India Company, Fort St David, History, India

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Unknown building near Seetharam Nagar

This building in ruined state is in a street connecting Seetharam Nagar and Beach Road.
Posted by Madhusudhanan at 11:02 AM No comments:

New Life Center

Posted by Madhusudhanan at 10:41 AM No comments:

Fort House

Fort House is built over the land where Fort St.David stood once. Fort House house is now a property of EID Parry Ltd.
Posted by Madhusudhanan at 10:39 AM No comments:

Ruins of Fort St.David

Posted by Madhusudhanan at 10:35 AM No comments: Labels: East India Company, Fort St David, History, India

Monday, August 14, 2006

Why did the Europeans arrive at Cuddalore?

Cuddalore History

Why did the Europeans arrive at Cuddalore?

Extract from an atlas produced for Manuel I in 1519 by Lopo Homen and the Rynel brothers. The major river estuaries along the Coromandel Coast are clearly featured.[1]

It is not entirely clear who the first European’s to arrive in Cuddalore were, or when indeed they first arrived. It is entirely possible that the first Europeans to arrive at Cuddalore was in fact a Roman trader because excavations at Arikamedu [2] a few miles up the coast near the much later town of Pondicherry was an ancient port and glass bead-manufacturing centre.

It is thought that Arikamedu was the town known to the Greco Roman world as Poduk¢e, The town lay along the eastern bank of River Ariyankuppam near it’s mouth in much the same type of location on the banks of a major estuary as Cuddalore occupied just down the coast.

Archaeological excavations show that it’s peak period was between 100 BC and 100 AD. India occupied a pivotal point in the trade of Asian waters, being visited by fleets of traders following the seasonal monsoon winds.

It is easy from our modern perspective to see the sea as the edge of the world, and as a barrier, but to the very many coastal peoples of Asia, the oceans represented a highway and the easiest route to the rest of the world they knew.

The sea provided the cheapest and easiest route to markets and for travel. As Adam Smith, the famous 19th century economist calculated, “six or eight men, with the help of a craft, can deliver and carry back in the same time, the same quality of goods” as “can be carried by 50 large carts driven by 100 men and drawn by 411 horses”.
To travel inland was to pass through countless communities, each with its boundaries with a Raja’ or Nattar demanding tribute, or his cut from your goods.

For countless centuries before Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator sailed into Calicut on the 27th of May 1498, Arab, Indonesian, Arab, Jewish, and Indian ships had been passing along the coasts of India, in pursuit of pepper, spices, cloth, gold and other precious metals.

It was aboard these ships travelling down the Red Sea and Persian Gulf that came the first adventurous individuals from Europe. Many of these early travellers were Italians from seaports like Marco Polo and Niccolo dei Conti [3]who travelled on board Arab or Indian vessels.

Merchant ships around the world at this period were freighted by groups of merchants who would travel on the ship along with their cargoes. Each traveller each hired his own space on board the ship.

Men like Conti and the other traders who came to India overland via the Middle East had spent so much time along the way, and away from home that in most cases they had learnt to speak local languages like Arabic or Persian, which were widely understood along the trade routes to India and the Far East.

These men were assisted and helped by local middlemen who made their living from the carrying trade in spices and other luxury goods from India to Europe. Each in turn took a cut, until eventually these goods arrived in Venice costing many times their original value in Java or India.

The Zamorin of Calicut initially probably saw the Portuguese as just another remote and slightly more unusual set of traders when they arrived at his port. He can of had no idea of the impact these men would have, or of the technological advantages that these men were acquiring in sea warfare.

Vasco-da-Gama by carrying spices directly from India to Portuguese cut out the profits of dozens of middlemen, and thereby made a huge profit. Pepper became available in Portugal for about one fifth of its price in Venice.

The pepper trade had until this point been "the very milk and nourishment" of Venice. In the 15th century it has been calculated that pepper had made up 60% of the Venetian spice trade, and that the profit margin on spices was about 40%.[4]

Pepper and other spices had reached Venice via Egypt however in 1420’s and 1430’s the Mamluk rulers of Egypt decided to make pepper a royal monopoly. All the pepper from India and Java was transhipped at Jeddah, and the annual amount limited to about 210 tonnes.

The Portuguese rapidly decided to send other expeditions to India and they soon established trade centres at Kozhikode [5], Kochi [6]and Kannur [7]. Before long they were pushing north along the coast of the Malabar towards Goa, and Surat, the major port on the west coast.

Franciso de Almedia the first governor of the Portuguese possessions in India, concentrated on trade, recognising that his shipping and men in India could be rapidly overwhelmed by the local Indian rulers on land.

Alfonso de Albuquerque, the second governor, appointed as such in 1509 was able to capture a base at Goa. Albuquerque who had first arrived in India in 1503 had certainly pushed beyond Sri Lanka by 1509 for he mounted an attack on Malacca in that year. See

It is not possible to date the first time the Portuguese sailed past the villages that lined the coast at Cuddalore, but it is likely to have been around 1509, and certainly before 1518 when they had established a post at Paleacate (or Pulicat). The main Portuguese settlement on the coast was founded at Sao Tomè de Melipore by 1522. See

Presumably these adventurous men were following in the footsteps of the local India traders, seeking out new and potentially even more profitable goods and markets along the Coromandel Coasts.

Writing in 1519 Gaspar Correa explains one of the motive for the Portuguese travelling to the area.

"And because he had it much in charge to obtain all the lac (alacre[8]) that he could, the Governor learning from merchants that much of it was brought to the Coast of Choromandel by the vessels of Pegu and Martaban which visited that coast to procure painted cloths and other coloured goods, such as are made in Paleacate, which is on the coast of Choromandel, whence the traders with whom the Governor spoke brought it to Cochin; he, having got good information on the whole matter, sent a certain Frolentine (sic, frolentim) called Pero Escroco, whom he knew, and who was good at trade, to be factor on the coast of Choromandel. . . .". [9]

The Portuguese had rapidly learned that many of the best spices came from beyond India, and were probing out along the trade routes to the Spice Islands in what is now Indonesia. Along the way, they must have discovered, as did the Dutch in later years, that what the Indonesian traders really wanted in exchange for spices was the types of textiles made along the Coromandel Coast.

[1] From
[2] See
[3] See
[4] See
[5] Calicut
[6] Cochin
[7] Cannanore
[8] Lac, a red dye see
[9] From Correa, ii. 567
Posted by Nick Balmer at 3:09 PM No comments: Labels: East India Company, Fort St David, History, India

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 1710, and early arrivals

Cuddalore History, early arrivals

By a curious coincidence Madhusudhanan has chosen to start his blog in July, which by chance is the same month that my forebear John De Morgan first arrived in Cuddalore 296 years ago.

He was a French Huguenot refugee to England, who had enlisted in the East India Company as a private, the most junior rank in the English armies of the time. It is through my research into his life and into his time at Fort St David, that I first came to know Madhusudhanan, and to share our common interests in Cuddalore history.

We hope to illustrate and bring to life the long and fascinating history of Cuddalore, not just in the time of the British, but also in earlier times.

John De Morgan first arrived at Cuddalore as one of 34 soldiers shipped on the Des Bouverie a large three masted East India Company sailing ship, which was bound for Madras, and item 10 on her manifest was a “List of the Soldiers for the Fort on the Des Bouverie.” [i]

The Fort St David records preserved in the British Library show that the De Bouverie had first called at Cuddalore before proceeding to Madras where it arrived on Tuesday 11th of July 1710.

9th of July 1710. This morning arrived a ship from Europe belonging to the Rt Honble Company named the D’Buveree. Captn Raymond Comm’d.

10th This morning said Ship sailed out of this road being bound to Madras.[ii]

Perhaps John was allowed to come up on deck to look at the land that would be his home for much of the rest of his life. Like so many of his compatriots, his voyage had been horrendous, and his life was likely to be short and brutal.

Could he see and smell the sweet musty coast of India as so many other English did as they first arrived?

Des Bouverie was one of a number of East Indiamen that arrived at approximately the same time off the coast of Madras during that year. Another ship in the same fleet, which had arrived on the 4th of July 1710, was the Susanna. John De Morgan was probably very lucky that he had not been put aboard the Susanna, which had made a very fast passage, but had not stopped en-route for fresh supplies of water or vegetables, for most of the Susanna’s men were sick before they even arrived.

“Mr Richard Hunt Paymaster reports that of the 46 Soldiers sent on ship Susanna for this port, there is but 33 surviv’d the Voyage, and most of them in a very weak condition, the comand’r. Having touch’d no where from England.”[iii]

On Thursday 13th of July Richard Hunt reported: -

that of the 34 Soldiers that were sent out on ship Des Bouverie there are 32 come on shore all in very good health the two that are wanting the Commandr. Declares that the one dyed and the other run away with his boat at the Cape.”[iv]

It is possible that John owed his health to William James, the Des Bouveries Surgeon who on Thursday 3rd of August 1710 presented a petition to the Governors in Council: -

“requesting he may be paid the ten shillings per head for the Hon’ble Companys Soldiers that came out on said ship”. The Council “Agreed and Ordered that the Paymaster doe adjust the acct, with him, and pay him what due according to the Hon’ble Companys orders per ship Heathcote.”[v]

Over the coming months we hope to post John De Morgan’s and many other stories, and we hope that visitors to the site will join us in adding to the knowledge of Cuddalore through the ages. John De Morgan went on to eventually rise to the command of the Fort and to fight off the French attack in 1746.

Using documents and tales we hope to bring the past of Cuddalore to light.


[i] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Pages 70 & 71.

[ii] IOR G/18/2 PT2.

[iii] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 70.

[iv] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 72.

[v] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 80.

Posted by Nick Balmer at 9:19 PM No comments: Labels: 18th Century, East India Company, Fort St David, History, India, Sepoys

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cuddalore under British Regime

From CuddaloreOnline

Europeans started establishing their business settlements in Indian coast ever since 17th century.In the eastern coast French establised their business settlements in Pondichéry and British established their settelements and business establishments in Cuddalore.

Later British started ruling the region and they built several forts.Fort St.David was the first fort built by British.Robert Clive,who laid a strong foundation for British rule in Indian subcontinent used St.David Fort as the centre for his military operations.

Fort St.David: Fort St.David was built in 1653 A.D. by Elihu Yale.The fort was strengthened on 1693,1698,1702,1725,1740 and on 1745.

Until 1758 Cuddalore was the capital to South Indian terrioties which was under British control then.British ruled a greater part of South India(entire Tamil Nadu,parts of present Andra Pradesh,Kerala and Karnataka) from this fort(St.David).

The fort was attacked by French in 1758.It was after this attack St.David Fort lost its political importance.The operational power was shifted to Fort St.George,Madras. Even today the post office in Devanampattinam (popularly know as Silver Beach) uses the rubberstamp with Ft. St.David embossed in it.

Garden House: The present official residence of Cuddalore District Collector was then know as Garden House.It was then the residence of Robert Clive.The roof of the Garden House was built without steel and wood.It was built using only bricks and slaked lime.It bears testimony of the later medival architecture.St.David fort was also built using the same ingredients and techniques.

The large vacant space next to Garden House which now know Chevalier Shivaji Arangam or Manajai Nagar Ground was an esplanade then.British used to have esplanades near their fortresses.

Brookes Pet: Brookes Pet is half a kilometer from present Vandipalayam.It was named after Henry Brookes who ruled between 1767 and 1769.

Cumming Pet: The area to north of Thriupathiripuliyur is know as Cumming Pet.It was named after William Cumming who ruled the region from 1778.Cumming Pet was once a place meant for washermen.On 1798 Tipu Sultan-The King of Mysore invaded Cumming Pet and the settelements there cleared on the invasion.

Cuddalore Old Town(O.T.) Present day Cuddalore O.T. was know as Islamabad during the Mughal period.Even today the majority of the people in Cuddalore O.T. follow islam. Cuddalore O.T. has one of the oldest and biggest mosque in South India.The mosque and most of the houses there(still) were built in Persian style.Until 1866 District Collectorate,Cuddalore Municipal Office and other administartive offices were in present Cuddalore O.T..In 1866 all these offices were shifted to Manjai Nagar.It was only after the shift in 1866 the term Cuddalore OT and Cuddalore NT (NewTown) came into existance.Still there are several streets and localities named after popular British rulers.Clive street,Wellington street are some to name.

Gadilam Castle: Nawab Umdat-ul-Umara built Gadilam Castle in 18th century.Gadilam Castle was located to the North of Gadilam river.It was bulit excatly in the place where the present Brindhavan Hotel is located.

Capper Hills: Capper Hills was named after Francis Capper who was the Captian till 1796.He resided in a palace in there.British buit a prison in the Capper Hills.Freedom fighters like Barathiar and other prisoners of war were imprisoned there.

Bristish educational instition: In 1717 St.David school was started in Cuddalore O.T. to educate the children of East India Company.On 1886 a college was started in its premises.The college was named after St.Joseph.It is one of the earliest schools in India which follows Western education system.

Roads named after British like Napier Road,Lawrence Road,Imperial Road and streets like Clive street,Wellington street, business establishments like Panpari market and Parry's House remains a reminder of the British rule here.

Posted by Madhusudhanan at 4:00 PM 8 comments: Labels: East India Company, Fort St David, History, India Newer Posts Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)