Francis Carnac Brown.

Letters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company online

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Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 11 of 19)
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the treasure, amounting to about 15,000 rupees, together
with the Head Sheristedar* and his cutcherry of servants,
who were on Jummabandy at the place. Mr. , with-
out a moment's hesitation, together with his head Assistant,

Mr. , Major , and three officers of the

Regiment of N. I., with about 150 rank and file, pro-
ceeded, by forced marches, to the place called Pootoor,
where the rebels were said to be assembled, and found
them in numbers too strong to attack them openly. They
consequently took up a position in a mud Bungalow where
they remained, I believe, for upwards of twelve hours; but
finding their men were gradually diminishing, f and the
rebels opposed to them collecting, it was deemed advisable
to retreat, and after having experienced hardships of every
description, they were enabled to reach Mangalore on the

evening of the 3rd : and the morning of the 4th, Mr.

received hourly information of the advance of the rebels,

* Devappah already mentioned.

f The diminution in numbers previous to the retreat, I am unable
to state.


from three sides, upon the town of Mangalore, and that
two of his treasuries in the district had been looted of all
that was in them ; that the whole country in the imme-
diate vicinity was in possession of the insurgents, who
were reported to be assembled in number about 10,000 or
12,000, and determined to take Mangalore. A consulta-
tion was then held as to the proper mode of proceeding,
and it was the unanimous opinion, that as the greater part
of the inhabitants had left Mangalore ; that as the united
number of the effective Sepoys amounted only to 270 or
280 men;* that as all communication had been cut off, +
and no reasonable probability could exist of our being
speedily relieved by the arrival of troops ; that for the
preservation of the lives of the Servants of the Government,
the Sepoys, their families, and the Treasure in the place,
an attempt should be made to remove the whole on board
boats, and, abandoning the place, to proceed to Cannanore.

The attempt was made, but owing to the want of boats
and accommodation in sufficient numbers, it failed, and
the Barracks on the parade ground, selected as the strongest
yjosition to which the Treasure should be removed, and with
the Sepoys and Peons, was occupied by us during the night
of the 4th. That night passed without an attack being
made, and with nothing worthy of remark save two fires in
the town — considered to be the work of a parly of Moplas,
apparently in league with the insurgents.

The reports still continued, that men were advancing in

* The Honore detachment of about 70 men, reached Mangalore by
sea on the 6lh of April. Mr. E. Maltby, the Joint-Magistrate there,
lost not a moment in despatching every man of them to the aid of the

f This must be an oversight. The communication by sea, north or
south, was not interrupted for one moment since, as the sentence states,
the abandonment of Mangalore, in bouts (meaning coasting vessels) " by
the Servants of Government and the Sepoys,'' was unanimously deter-
mined on, and foiled onl^for want ofboafs.


numbers upon the town ; and a flag of distress, hoisted at
the signal-staff, attracted the attention of a vessel passing

in the offing, which came to an anchor ; and on Mr. 's

requisition, the Captain (Burtsal of the Eamont) dis-
patched from his vessel two six- pounders with shot. I
have reason, however, to believe, that the place where these
guns must have been landed, being in possession of the
insurgents, who had suddenly come up that side (in num-
ber about 500, armed with guns and matchlocks), that our
troops were never in possession of them.

It will now be necessary for me to inform the Right
Honourable the Governor in Council of the cause of the

Assistant Judge of the Adawlut, Mr. , and myself,

having arrived this day at Cannanore ; and I have merely
to state that, on returning from placing our families, and
those of other residents, on board a boat to be sent to
Tellicherry, and while at the mouth of the bar, within a
few yards of the landing place, at about one p. m., we per-
ceived the Coorg rebels coming up along the shore, as
above alluded to, and almost at the same moment our own
houses, the Court-hcuse, the Collector's Cutcherry, with
several other parts of the town, in a simultaneous flame.
We shortly after heard sounds of muskets, and the blowing
up of the Magazine;* and, consequently, feeling con-

* It is consoling to know that the writer was deceived ; the Maga-
zine was never once in the least danger. The number of houses
destroyed was, I believe, eighteen. He will forgive a stranger for
observing, that the houses he speaks of, the Court House, and the
Collector's Cutcherry, form no part of the town. They are from one
to two miles distant. Except his own, and the Sub-Collector's house,
the latter near the lines, which were thatched and easily fired from with-
out, all the others are solid, tiled buildings, placed on commanding emi-
nences; and if I add, that they were readily defensible against those
who assailed them, I only express the opinions uttered by all persons
who know the buildings and their situation. It will not surprise that,
when found open and deserted, the latter were first plundered at leisure,
and then fired from within by the rabble.


fident that nothing but certain death most assuredly must
take place, and no possibility of joining our comrades to be
expected, we prevailed on our boatmen to take us through
the bar, at the imminent risk of being shot by the men who
were ranged along the shore, and fortunately effected a safe
embarkation on the ship Eamont, which has this hour
brought us to Cannanore.

After coming on board, we tacked on and off Mangalore,
in the hope of some of our unfortunate friends being enabled
to effect an escape, and joining us ; but, with the exception
of some ladies and a few others, I believe no one had been

enabled to do so. At the period when Mr. and

myself left the shore, 11 a.m, there appeared to be no
more immediate apprehension of the rebels coming down
upon the town, than there had been for the last two days ;
but the simultaneous ignition of all parts of the town, the
pouring in of the rebels from the three sides, at one and the
same hour, evinces a plan of arrangement little to have been
foreseen or apprehended.

The Captain of the vessel who had gone on shore, and
who effected his retreat about half an hour subsequently
to us, states that he did so with the greatest degree of
difficulty, and thinking that the particulars of what he saw
up to the minute of embarkation, would be more satisfac-
tory to the Right Honourable the Governor in Council, it
has been taken down in his own words, and accompanies
this communication.

From a Proclamation issued by the rebels, I am inclined
to believe that two individuals belonging to the late Rajah's
Government, styling themselves Apparampara Swami and
Kenchup Naique, are at the head of the insurrection ; but
I am at a loss to imagine what their ultimate expectation
or intention, with regard to remaining in possession of our
territory, can be, inasmuch as their system hitherto, as far
as we were able to ascertain^ has been to place their seals
together with our own, on our district Cutcherries and



Treasuries, and offer service to the Potails and servants
employed by us.

In conclusion, I must not omit to bring to the notice of
the Right Honourable the Governor in Council, the kind
and anxious exertions of Captain Burtsal, of the ship
Eaniont, now on her way to Madras, who, at his own per-
sonal risk, at the requisition of the Collector, landed his
Guns and Muskets, and where, after remaining as long as
practicable, in the hope of saving the lives of those who
might be fortunate enough to effect an escape, has hurried
down to land us at Cannanore, in order to furnish this
important and disastrous information to the Commandant
of the district with the least practicable delay.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,

* # * #
Judge and Criminal Judge.

Captain Burtsal, who was the last on shore, has kindly
allowed me to take down the particulars of the state in
which he left the Cantonment at Mangalore.

" Upon my landing at Mangalore, in company with
Lieut. Cotton of the Madras Cavalry,* we immediately
proceeded to the spot where the Sepoys were drawn out in
line, and found that the lines had been attacked and set
on fire, and musket shots were passing in several directions.

The Collector, Mr. , and several other European

Gentlemen, were collected, and on his inquiring what

* The conduct of this Officer, Lieutenant Cotton, cannot be too
generally known. He was a passenger on the Eamont, in bad health,
going from Bombay to Madras. No sooner did he hear that some of his
comrades on shore were in danger, than he insisted on instantly joining,
and remaining with them, although told that he " would only share their
hopeless fate." He it was who, on landing, if I am rightly informed, led
a party of Sepoys to the attack of the insurgents.


assistance I could afford him, I replied that the two Guns
and a few Muskets, which were then on their way to the
shore, was the only aid in my power. After remaining
there a short time, and finding I could be of no service, I
returned to the boat by the advice of Lieut. Cotton, who
insisted upon remaining. I then got into my boat, and
remained there for some time, expecting to be able to effect
the escape of some of the Gentlemen of the place. Finding,
however, no one approach, and hearing from several who
came down to the shore that all had been massacred, and
that the rebels were mustering at the bar of the river,
through which I had to pass, I made the best of my way
out, and in doing so counted 32 men armed with match-
locks, who twice pointed them with the intention of firing
at us, and latterly launched two canoes, which followed us
to some distance. From what I saw of the confusion, and
subsequent reports, together with the ceasing of the mus-
kets, and the simultaneous ignition of so many parts of the
town, I have little doubt but what I heard prior to leaving
was authentic, and all had fallen."

(Signed) A. Burtsal.


Mangalore, 14th Aptil, 1837.


It has become my duty to avail myself of an early

opportunity, after the opening of communication with the

Presidency, to report to the Judges of the Sudr and

Fonjdaree Adawlut, such circumstances connected with the



present disturbances in Lower Canara as relate immediately
to the department of the Court.

In so doing it will be my endeavour to avoid allusion to
such matter as does not immediately affect this depart-
ment; but it is necessary, to render my statement clear,
that I should mention, that on the evening of the 30th
ultimo, the Principal Collector, on receiving information
that an insurrection had broken out in the country lately
belonging to tlie Rajah of Coorg and its vicinity, pro-
ceeded to the spot with a party of the military; but finding
himself overpowered by the numbers of the insurgents,
was compelled to effect a retreat with much difficulty and
reduced numbers to Mangalore, which he reached on the
evening of Monday the 3rd.

As Mangalore was immediately threatened, it was neces-
sary that every Sepoy of the small party present at the
station should be available for its defence, and that the
guard stationed at the jail, which is situated at a consi-
derable distance from the Cantonment, should be with-
drawn, their place being supplied by a levy of Peons, fully
equal to the duty of preventing the prisoners from effecting
an escape, unless aided by the enemy.

On the evening of Tuesday, the 4th, the Judge, Mr,
, visited the Jail. He found that the prisoners, em-
boldened by the absence of a Military Guard, were in a
state of insubordination ; but the prompt measures he took
of punishing the most turbulent soon restored quiet, and
he remained on the spot until they were safely locked in
the inner wards, and the confidence of the Jailor and Peons
appeared to be restored.

On the following morning (Wednesday the 5th), Mr.-

again visited the Jail, when all was quiet, and Mr.

was satisfied that, unless an attack was made upon the
station, their detention was ensured.

I regret to state that, at a subsequent hour on Wed-
nesday, an attack was made, when the prisoners were


released by the insurgents, whom the greater part of them
appear to have joined. I have also to state, that an attempt
was made to destroy the Court House and the Records
which have suffered considerable damage; but 1 have
reason to hope that it is less extensive than could have been
expected. The Jail remains uninjured. *

The present state of affairs does not a^mit of any steps
being taken to apprehend the prisoners, except in common
with the insurgents, who are still in arms; but several have
been already seized, and I feel much confidence that, when
quiet is restored, a great number, or all, of them, will be

I have communicated with the Sub-Collector of Canara
at Honors, with reference to such of them as might be
likely to return to their haunts in that part of the district.

The full report, made by Mr. , to the Secretary to

Government, will explain the cause of my addressing you
at this moment.

I have the honour to be,

&c. &c. &c.

Register and Assistant Criminal Judge.

* The Jail Guard of Sepoys was withdrawn, for embarkation with
their comrades, on the morning of the 4th. Whether the levy of Peons,
for the custody of the prisoners, was then made does not appear. The
Peons sufficed to save the Jail, but not the prisoners. As several of the
latter voluntarily returned, they may possibly have been insubordinate
on the day of the 4th, from fear of their lives, if the Jail were attacked,
as much as from turbulence, or an intent to escape.



Anjarakandy, 27th June, 1837.


In illustration of my letter of the 31st ult., I do
myself the honour of sending some munitions of war, cap-
tured from "the rebels" of Canara, in the shape of a
powder-flask filled with powder, and of a cartouche box
containing two balls. The powder, it will be found on
trial, may be used twice, or at most three times, before it
renders the piece so foul as to be unserviceable ; as to the
balls, the casting of them was among the unknown arts in
the Jungles of Soolia and Pootoor.

The spoils captured in the houses and villages of Canara
are openly exhibited as the trophies of this war ! As
His Lordship in Council may not exactly recollect any
Armoury, which the Spolia Opima I now send would
grace, I should feel indebted by his directing them to be
returned, in order that I may present them to the Econo-
mical Committee of the Royal Asiatic Society, as specimens
of the uses in war to which the shells of abortive cocoa-
nuts are applied.*

I have the honour to be, Sir,

&.C. &c. Sec.

F. C. Brown.

* So wretched is the ammunition which the Natives of the Western
coast can themselves fabricate, that the most acceptable present that
can be made to a Native Malabar, of any rank, especially in the interior,
is some good powder and ball. I am in the habit of distributing,
annually, a considerable quantity among my neighbours ; yet, notwith-
standing this supply, it was reported to me, during the last two seasons,


The above letter of the 27th June, and the one of the
31st May, are the only letters which, after the lapse of
many weeks, on seehig every functionary at Mangalore,
without exception, maintained in office and authority, on
finding that no inquiry into the circumstances of the
outbreak was instituted or thought of, I could no longer
refrain from addressing to the Government.

Let it be granted, that the resolution, and the attempt, to
abandon the town, be susceptible of the fullest excuse, the
amplest extenuation ; let it be granted, that the desertion
of a Province be considered, and be declared at Madras,
to deserve high praise, instead of the shadow of blame :
yet, until the justification of such an act be made public
before all the world, until the grounds of the applause

that between 30 and 40 head of cattle had been carried off in my five
parishes by Tigers and Cheetahs. It was this knowledge which led me
to send to Canara for some of the rebel powder and ball, which I for-
warded to Madras in the receptacles they came; cocoa-nut shells of the
same kind, about four inches long, and one and a half in diameter, as are
used for the same purposes by the Natives around me. The specimen
of powder was rather worse than that made in Malabar; the balls were
cylindrical, not round.

As to the spoils, it is painful to advert to them, and to think of what
was written from Canara relative to the terror, the sufferings, and the
losses endured by the unoffending country people, after the proclamation
of Martial Law among them. An account of the personal losses of the
Europeans and their families at Mangalore, in houses, furniture, clothes,
plate, &c. was called for, and immediately dispatched for compensation to
the Court of Directors. Were the losses of their all by multitudes of Natives
inquired into, and submitted at the same time, to the commiseration of the
Honourable Court? The Court can answer; but tiiis I know, that if all
the circumstances attending their losses, if the plunder, and burning, and
destruction of their houses, were fully, freely, and fearlessly told, every
feeling mind would be horror-struck at the recital of the calamities
which were brought upon them. The conduct of the rebels the Judge
has described : — " Their system hitherto," he says, " as far as we were
able to ascertain, has been to place llicir seals, together with our own, on
our district Cutcherries and Treasuries, and of^'er service to the i'otails
and Servants employed by us."


bestowed upon it be proclaimed, in the name of that sacred,
spotless, stainless, sinless Justice, we all revere and hope to
meet, I ask, are the functionaries, the persons prominently
concerned in this act, those who ought to have been
conspicuously seen maintained in office, and prosecuting
the prisoners to be tried ? Are they the functionaries,
whom the people of India, as well as the people of Canara
and Malabar, ought to have witnessed, seizing, committing,
accusing, and arraigning capitally, as the local represen-
tatives of the Sovereign and the people of England, the
poor, ignorant, misguided, creatures, who were deluded
into approaching Mangalore, by the persuasion that all these
functionaries had deserted it ? In my humble opinion, not ;
I conceived the world ought not to witness such a specta-
cle ; in my conviction, by it the Government of Madras
was rendering the very name of the British Government
odious, detested, and contemptible to the Natives of the
Presidency at large. The Natives of the other Provinces,
warned by what they saw the Government of Madras do and
sanction, and not by what that Government might write or
say, would feel that they possesed no security whatever, that
the treatment, which their fellow- subjects in Canara were
suffering to day, might not be their own fate to-morrow.

It is clear that every thing like tumult, violence, or in-
surrection must, for the sake of the Natives themselves, be
immediately put down with the strong arm ; but if human-
ity to them demand this severity, I challenge any man
really acquainted with their character, I call upon any
person whose knowledge and authority are deserving of
weight, to deny, whether, in every case of tumult or insur-
rection without exception, justice does not imperiously
demand, in order to be kept pure from the taint of error
and vindictiveness, that impartial inquiry should go hand
in hand with punishment ? I call upon any man, tolerably
familiar with the Native disposition and modes of thinking,
to say, whether there exists, under Heaven, a race of


men more quiet, more placable, more averse to violence, or
more naturally lovers of order ; more accessible to reason,
when it is made plain to their understandings in tempe-
rate, conciliatory language, or more open to kindness,
when ordinary kindness and consideration are shown to
them by those in authority : in truth, I ask, whether there
exists, on earth, another race like them, demanding no
more, in their present condition, from their rulers, than the
boon of being suffered to live?

As to the Gowdas, a caste of Hindoos, lately the
subjects of the Rajah of Coorg, who headed this out-
break, I confidently refer to the testimony of the Officers
who broke them into the system of Jumraa-bundies,
that is, into the Madras system of annual surveys and
settlements, an operation sufficiently trying to the temper
of a body of rude farmers; and I ask those gentlemen to
say, whether they ever had to deal with a more harmless,
tractable, inoffensive race of men, or men more disposed to
be obedient and submissive to the novel Government placed
over them ?

The information I gave to the Government might de-
serve, and would probably meet with, little favour. I
sought none ; it would be set down as erroneous, or partial
or exaggerated, or prejudiced. It might, however, induce
a pause in the measures that were enforced ; and as to
myself, the question left for my solution was, whether I
would longer bear the upraidings of my conscience for re-
maining silent.

But there was, as it appears, the official letter of the
Criminal Judge of Mangalore, which had been for weeks
before the Government. Surely that letter speaks for it-
self! Surely the circumstances, detailed in that letter,
speak for themselves to all, who have eyes to read or feel-
ings to rouse ! Surely after that official letter, a full, a
public, an im|)artial, and itnmed'uite enquiry was imperiously
demanded fVoin the Government, the power which alone


legally and solely possessed the initiative on the occasion !
The National name demanded it; public justice demanded
it ; above all, the characters of the functionaries named,
implicated, and concerned, demanded nothing less.

It is with the sincerest pain that I am obliged to men-
tion the feelings with which enquiry, when enquiry was,
at length, talked of, was viewed and received. My letters
had immediately found their way from the Political Se-
cretary's office at Madras to Mangalore, and were thus
spoken of: "There is reason to believe that the appoint-
ment of the Commission, to enquire into the matter of the
rebellion, which is said to have been ordered pursuant to
instructions from Bengal, is a subject of annoyance to
certain of the authorities at Mangalore. Brown is men-
tioned, as having written letters to Madras and Bengal,
which have led to this order for an enquiry. One letter, it
is said, was known there three months ago. The Mapilla
Petition, in which the rebellion is spoken of slightingly, has
been attributed to him. The matter has been made a great
mystery of, and his alleged part in it kept a profound secret,
until a few days ago. As far as can be learned, his cor-
respondence has been betrayed" (September, 1837.) For
what purpose, and with what design, this correspondence
was "betrayed," will appear too plain, I fear, in the sequel.
This course, secretly adopted towards me, drove me to see
whether the same repository of official correspondence
would not also furnish the letter of the 6th April, from the
Criminal Judge to the Government ; a letter which, but
for such a course, would never have been sought for, nor,
in accordance with my own feelings and wishes, ever made
more public.

F. C. B.



Bangalore, October, 1837.


With reference to a letter from the Government
of Fort St. George, addressed to you under date 11th
July last, I am desired by the Commissioners appointed to
investigate the circumstances of the late insurrection in
Canara, to request you will, at your earliest convenience,
communicate to them such defined allegations as you may
think proper to make, individually, against the European
Civil and Military officers of Government, to whose con-
duct allusion is made generally, in your letter addressed
to the Secretary to Government under date 30th May last ;
and that you will have the kindness, at the same time, to

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Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 11 of 19)