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does, occasion general famine. Besides maintaining a useless rabble,
whom he emploj's under the appellation of peons, at the public
expense, he may require any military force he finds necessary for the
business of oppression, and few inferior officers would have weight
enough to justify their refusal of such aid. Should any one, however,
dispute those powers, should the military officers refuse to prostitute
military service to the distress of wretched individuals, or should the
Civil Superintendent remonstrate against such abuse, nothing could
be more pleasing to the Renter ; he derives, from thence, innumerable
arguments for non-performance of engagements, and for a long list
of defalcations. But there are still some other not less extraordinary
constituents in the complex endowments of a Renter. He unites, in
his own person, all the branches of judicial or civil authority, and if
he happens to be a Brahman, he may also be termed the representative
of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. I will not enlarge on the consequences
of thus huddling into the person of one wretched mercenary all those
powers that ought to constitute the dignity and lustre of supreme
executive authority.'



After the district came into Britisli possession in 1790 the CHAP. XI.
revenue history of the Dindigul country differed altogether for Eevexce
many years from that of Madura proper, and it may conveniently ^^^»^'-
be dealt -with first. British

The Dindigul territory, as has already (p. 71) been seen, was tionrSuthe
obtained by conquest from Mysore in August 1790, and ceded for- ^^"^/f"'

raaUy in 1 792. When first it was
acquired it consisted of four*
estates or palaiyams (' pollems ')
which were in the possession
of their owners ; four f which had
been sequestered in 1785-8G by
Saiyad Sahib ; and some incon-
siderable extent of Government
land included in which were four J
more which had been resumed
many years before. Shortly after
the acquisition, fourteen ^ estates
which had been resumed by Tipu
in 1788 on account of the arrears
of tribute in them, and had been
temporarily attached by him to
the province of Sankaridrug (in
Salem district), were restored to
their former ownt-rs and re-
annexed to the Dindigul country,
and this therefore at that time
comprised 2f)'iestates making up
roughly tlie present Dindigul,
Palni and Peri\akulam taluks
and the west of Nilakkottai.
Some account of the various palaiyams will be found in Cliapter
XV below. The Mysore Government had apparently not inter-
fered in the management of the four which were in tlie possession
of their owners, but had leased out the otliers, and also the Sirkar
land, to renters.

Immediately aftei- the acquisition of the province, General
Medows, who was commanding in the south, placed it temporarily
in the charge of one A'enkatappa Nayakkan, who made hay while
the sun shone and! went off at once with all the accounts.

On the 6th of.ltlie following month (September 1790) Mr.
Alexander McLeod^ arrived and took charge as Collector. His

* Idaiyanfcdttai.

t Eriyddu.


Palni (appai'ently including Ayak-

kudi and Eottayambadi).

X D^v.adanapatti.

§ Ambaturai,




Erasakkanayakkantir .





Palliyappanayakkanur (now called


' In the Appendix to this chapter will be found a list of the various Collectors
of Madura from this time forth up to date.

Mr. McLeod,






His incapa-

position was one of mucli difficulty, and he was quite unequal to
it ; and the four jears during- which he endeavoured to administer
the country were marked by confusion bordering- on anarchy.

Each year, he assessed the peshkash due from the various
estates, the amounts purporting to be fixed on the basis of estab-
lished usag-e and of estimates of the outturn of crops furnished
by the poligars and their officials ; but, as Yenkatappa had made
off with such accounts as there were, it seems clear that these pay-
ments were regulated more by chance than by precedent or equity.
The Government land (which was divided into the six ^taluks of
Tadikkombu (the kasba), Periyakulam, Vattilagundu, Andipatti,
Uttamapalaiyam and Kambam) was annually leased either in blocks
for fixed sums to renters, or village by village to the headmen.
The renters treated the ryots after the barbarous manner of their
kind already described above, but the headmen lessees paid (as
elsewhere) fixed money rates (the details of which are not now
ascertainable) for dry land, and for wet land one half of the gross
produce after the swafanirams (or fees due to village officers and
others) had been deducted therefrom.

But the whole country was constantly in disorder. In June
1791 it was stated that troops were required to maintain the
Collector's authority ; in November of the same year Coimbatore
and the surrounding tracts on the north were in tlie hands of the
Mysore forces ; in February 1792 the neighbouring Palni and
Idaiyankottai poligars were plundering in the same area ; the Raja
of Travancore was at the same time preventing the Collector from
taking possession of Kambam and Gudalur, though these tracts
(which had once been palaiyams, but had been confiscated by
Haidar Ali of Mysore in 1755) undoubtedly belonged to the
Dindigul district ; and the Kalians had quarrelled with the Madura
renter and were committing every kind of excess. The poligars
naturally took advantage of this confusion to withhold payment of
their dues, and the renters followed their example.

In September 1793 the Board of Revenue endeavoured to
improve the class of renters by directing the Collector to lease
villages to their headmen instead of to strangers ; but though the
system was introduced in part, the headmen of villages which
were especially exposed to the attacks of the Kalians of Anaiyt^r, *
the notorious centre of this caste in the Tirumangalam taluk,
naturally declined to have anything to say to it.

In May 1794 Mr. McLeod went on leave to the seaside to
recruit his health, and was succeeded by his Head Assistant,
Mr. John Wrangham. A Board's Proceedings of August of thig


year comments in a caustic manner on Mr. McLeod's maladminis- CHAP. XI.
tration, which had reduced the district to disorder and its revenues Eevem-e


to a very low eLb. It appears that not only had the poligars,

Kalians and renters been permitted with impunity to exhibit open
contumacy, but misappropriations of inams and swatantrams had
occurred, the assessments had not been collected, large remissions
had been obtained on the plea that tanks were out of order,
Kambam and Gudalur had not been recovered, the customs had
been mismanaged and the Collector's accounts were worthless.

In December of this same year Mr. Wrangham was replaced ^'J"- ^ynch
by Mr. George Wynch, but the year and a half during which the maiadmiiiis-
latter remained in charge witnessed even worse confusion than tration, 179-t.
ever. He had scarcely taken charge when Captain Oliver, the
officer commanding the district, reported that the Palni poligar
was engaged in open hostilities with his neighbour the poligar of
Ayakkudi, while one of Tipu Sultan's officers complained that the
former was looting across the boundary in Coimbatoro ; several of
the other poligars disobeyed the Collector's summons to appear
before hira in Dindigul ; the poligar of Sandaiyur laid claim to the
pdlaiyam of Devadanapatti, the owner of which had recently died,
and refused to enter into any engagement for the payment of his
arrears until his claim was allowed ; the Palni poligar objected to
the proposal to detach and assess separately the Ayakkudi estate
which had once been an appanage of his palaiyam, and not only
refused to pay his peshkash but armed a thousand of his followers ;
the Yirupakshi poligar declined to receive the Collector's sanad
and customary presents and laid claim to the KannivWi estate ;
the Travancore manager kept on committing every sort of excess
in Kambam and Gudalur; in April the Collector himself and his
escort were stopped on the boundaries of Bodinayakkanur and his
peons were fired on ; and in May the Yadakarai poligar joined
Bodinayakkanur, both Palni and Ayakkudi began arming, Yiru-
pakshi opposed the Collector's progress, and Kombai set himself
to stir up disturbances in the Kambam valley.

In June, Government issued a proclamation to the poligars
forbidding them to arm themselves and requiring them to obey
the Collector. This had some temporary effect, but the country
went rapidly from bad to worse and in June 179G Government
appointed a Commission, consisting of Mr, William Harrington
and Captain William McLeod, to take charge of the district and to
investigate the causes of the disorder which existed.

On the last day of the following August the two Commissioners Commission
sent in a voluminous report on the matter and handed over the 1796. "^^'






Mr. Hurdis'

district to a new Collector, Mr. Thomas Bowyer Hurdis. They
stated that not only was the district a prey to the political confu-
sion jast described, but that its revenue administration was defective
throughout. The karnams and amildars (or tahsildars) had com-
bined to produce false revenue accounts ; the former had entered
large areas of land as ' inams ' in the accounts, so that they might
be able to appropriate the produce of them ; poligars who had
been nominally dispossessed for contumacy went about none the
less with armed bands, annoying the ryots on their old estates ;
the land-customs were maladministered, certain individuals (for
example) being exempted without authority from paying them ; the
lessees of the five taluks (these had been rented out for five years
in November 1794 ; Kambam alone was kept under amani) had
fabricated false returns and kept the authorities in ignorance of the
real value of these tracts ; one of them, Appaji Pillai, moreover
caused all the ryots to leave their lands when the Commission
came round to measure and appraise them, lest they should give
information prejudicial to his interests ; these renters were not
only in arrears, but so bullied their tenants and let the lands fall
into such disrepair that numerous ryots had emigrated ; numerous
unauthorised alienations of Government land had been made by
subordinates ; the above Appaji Pillai and his father Kumara
Pillai had fraudulently effected many of these and had systemati-
cally colluded with the Collector's understrappers to undervalue
Government land and bring about other irregularities; the pesh-
kash collected from the poligars was from 14 to 28 per cent less
than it ought to have been, and than it had been in the time of
the Mysore renters Mir iSahib and Saiyad Sdhib mentioned above ;
and so forth and so on.

Grovernment and the Board considered the report and ordered,
among other things, that unauthorised alienations of land made
since the country camo into British hands should be resumed ;
that inamdars who were not in possession at the same date should
be dispossessed ; that Kumara Pillai and Appaji Pillai should be
banished the district ; that triennial, instead of annual, agreements
should be made with the poligars ; that troops should be sent to
Dindigul ; and that the Palni poligar should forfeit his estate for his
repeated misbehaviour. They stated that they looked to the new
Collector, Mr. Hurdis, to bring the district back again into order.

For several years this officer was only partially successful in
doing so. Unlike Sir Thomas Munro in the Ceded districts, he
had no body of troops at his command sufficient to enable him
forcibly to compel the poligars to behave themselves. These juen



had already become angry and disaffected ; some of them had been CHAP. Xf.
ousted from their ancestral estates and were wild with grief and Kevenok
indignation; the others found themselves expected to give up for istokt.
ever the independence and power they had always enjoyed and
to settle down to live virtuously and tamely on the produce of
their properties in entire subjection to the orders of the new
Grove rnment.

In 1797 this inflammable material was ignited by a revolt in
the Ramnad country, and the more daring and rebellious of the
Dindigul poligars began to raise disturbances in every quarter-
The records of this year and of 1798 are full of accounts of their
misdeeds. The one matter for congratulation was the fact that
they acted independently, each in what he conceived to be his own
interests, so that Mr. Hurdis was usually able to deal with then;
one by one.

In May 1799 the news reached Dindigul of the British suc-
cesses in the Third Mysore War against Tipu Sultan, of the fall
of Seringapatam, that ruler's capital, and of his death during the
attack. This produced the happiest results. Those of the poligars
who were secretly disaffected were awed into obedience to the
British, while those who were more deeply implicated lost all heart
and relaxed their efforts to create trouble.

By November 1799 order had been sufficiently restored to Order

enable the Collector to begin a task which he had always set before ""^^tored and
1 I . -, survey and

himself, namely, the systematic survey and assessment, field by settlement
field, of his charge. He eventually completed this undertaking \ocio^'
and sent in a monumental report thereon (dated 6th April 1803)
which came to be quoted as an authority for years afterwards ; and
it is not too much to say that the prosperity of the district dates
from the time of his administration, and that (while the settlement
which he effected was ultimately modified in many of its details)
the revenue system now in force is Mr. Hurdis' original system,
developed and improved.

About this time the policy of concluding permanent settle-
ments of the land revenue was being strenuously advocated, and
Mr. Hurdis was directed so to survey and report upon his charge
that the Board of Revenue might bo able at once to effect such a
permanent settlement of its assessments. His charge, it may be
here noted in parenthesis, included, from the 31st July 1801 (the
date on which the Nawab of Arcot concluded the arrangement
already referred to on p. 71 above) the Madura country proper
as well as the province of Dindigul ; but as the revenue history of





Principles of

the former is distinct from that of Dindigul, it will be separately
dealt with later.

Mr. Hurdis, then, proceeded to survey and assess the Dindigul
country in much detail ; and at the end of each subsequent year
the area completed up to then was rented out on triennial leases
on progressive rents which were so arranged that by the end of
the thiid of the three years they would reach the figure at which
Mr. Hurdis considered that a permanent settlement might with
justice be concluded. These operations were carried out not only
in Government land but in twelve of the twenty-six estates
included in the district and named on p. 183 above, which twelve
had come under Gcvernment management owing to their having
been forfeited for rebellion, escheated in default of heirs, or
attached for arrears of revenue. The other fourteen estates were
left in the hands of their owners and assessed at a peshkash equal
to 70 per cent, of their value as ascertained by the survey and
settlement of fasli 1212 (lb02-03).

By the end of fasli 1214 (1804-05) all the Dindigul country
had been thus surveyed and assessed, the triennial leases had all
expired, and the permanent settlement came into full operation
throughout it. With the exception of the fourteen palaiyams
above mentioned and of a few hill villages which had never formed
part of any of the poligars' estates and were likely to become
refuo-cs for bad characters if removed from Government control,
the whole district was cut up into 40 different zamindaris or estates.
The annual peshkash payable on each of these was definitely fixed,
and eight of them, which had been formed from six estates for-
feited for arrears, were handed over to their former owners ; 31
were sold to new purchasers ; and the remaining one, being
unsold, remained in the Collector's hands.

The principles upon which Mr. Hurdis effected this memorable
survey and settlement were, very briefly, as under : —

Excluding poramboke (that is, areas such as tank beds, the
sites of forts and so on which could never be cultivated) the land
of the district was primarily classed as being either {a) dry (un-
irrigated) or (b) wet, that is, land capable of being regularly

Dry land was again sub-divided into (i) bdghdyat, or garden,
and (ii) ordinary dry land. On the former, the Government assess-
ment — which seems to have been fixed after considering what
, not only the settlement staff, but also the proprietor of the land
and the ryots themselves had to, say on the matter — was one-third



ot the estimated gross produce after a certain deduction had been CHAP. XI.
made for the cost of manuring-. On the latter, the assessment was He venue
usually two-fifths of the estimated gross produce. In neither case, istork

apparently, was any allowance made for ordinary cultivation

Wet land was sub-divided into (ij pdnmald, or ])etel-growing
land, and (ii) ordinary wet land. '! lie former was assessed in
accordance with the estimated produce, the excellence of the
irrigation available and the cost of cultivation ; and the revenue
varied from as little as 20 per cent, of the gross produce to as much
as 4U per cent. The latter, ordinary wet land, was assessed
according as it was capable of growing (a) sugar-cane, turmeric
and similar valuable crops, (6) two crops of paddy, or (c) one crop
of paddy. In the first of these cases duo deductions were made
from the value of the estimated gross produce for cultivation
expenses, and the assessment was then fixed at the value in money
of one half of the remainder. In the other two cases a similar
method was followed, except that for some reason no allowance
was apparently made for cultivation expenses, while on the other
hand a deduction from the gross .produce of 12^ per cent, for
swatantratns was made before the hypothetical division between
Grovernment and the ryot was made.

In addition to the above four main kinds of dry and wet land
there were also naiijai taram punjat and pilluvari land. The
former of these was wet land which was so poorly supplied with
irrigation that it would not produce wet crops, and its assessment
was fixed at rates calculated to give the G-overnment 40 per cent.
of the gross produce. 'J'he latter was pasturage, and was assessed
on very easy terms.

In addition to the land revenue, part of which was paid in kind Miscellane-
and part in money, there were a number of other and curious taxes °^^ taxes,
which were styled sxcarnaddya, or payable in money. Some of
these (such as poniki'ulu, a customary rent levied on small patches
on the hills, the tope tax, derived from sixteen sorts of trees, and
poruppu, a small quit-rent on inams) were lield to be such as might
be properly levied by the proprietors of tlio estates which were
being newly formed, but others of them were reserved by Govern-
ment for its own management and disposal. These last included
the shop tax, on the estimated value of tlie dealings of merchants ;
the house tax, a somewhat similar impost on petty traders and
artificers ; tlie loom tax, assessed on the outturn of each loom ; the
oil-mill, iron-furnace and indigo- vat taxes, which were rated on
similar principles ; the Pallar tax, levied on men of certain castes





The linaucial

Mr. Parish



in proportion to the wages they obtained at harvest-time ; the
lioney tax, on the amount of wild, honey collected ; the Patna
Chetti and Bogari tax, levied on two rival factions as a payment
for protection and religious supervision ; the ghee-tax, paid for the
monopoly of the retail sale of ghee in each village ; and, lastly,
tlie carriage-bullock tax, which was proportioned to the profits
derived from the hire of those animals.

On the whole, the total increase in the assessment of the
Dindigul country amounted to no less than 67 per cent., the
average collections in the years preceding 1790 having been 4o,543
star pagodas ; ^ those from 1700-91 to 1795-96 (faslis 1200 to
1205) 59,180 pagodas; those from 1796-97 to 1801-02 (faslis
1206 to 1211) 86,543 pagodas; and those for the twelve years of
British possession, from 1790-91 to 1801-02 (faslis 1200 to 1211),
72,8 il pagodas. Mr. Hurdis considered that by the end of fasli
1214 (1804-05), when the whole of the district would have come
under the new settlement, the revenue would be as much as
1,13,315 star pagodas. He explained, however, that a very large
proportion of this was due to the increase in the area in occupation
brought about by the survey, which had disclosed an enormous
extent of concealed cultivation. He reported that in the thirteen of
the forty zamindaris where the new rates had already been intro-
duced, 'the increase thus levied was cheerfully agreed to by the
ryots .... and, as made, has hitherto been fully and
regularly collected.' He also believed that it was possible to count
upon a great future increase in the wealth of the country from the
extension of cultivation. Only some thirty-four per cent, of the
whole culturable area in the Dindigul country was actually under
tillage, and though the waste land was unavoidably very unequally
divided among the different zamindaris (some containing much
and others hardly any) and though ryots and capital were both
lacking at the moment, he anticipated that ' under a vigilant
superintendence and firm, yet almost imperceptible, guidance of
the labours of the inhabitants (if peace continue) the revenues
from the increase of population, and the habits of industry which
may be then expected to be confirmed in the ryots, will in the course
of ten jears be nearly doubled.'

In December 1803 Mr. Hurdis was promoted and Mr. Greorge
Parish became Collector of Madura. He held the post until
1812. He at first continued, generally, the policy which Mr.
Hurdis had inaugurated but had not remained to see carried
out in its entiretv. The orders of the Board of lievenue were

^ A star pagoda was equivalent to lis. 3-8.



meanwhile received on that officer's great report on his survey and
settlement. While the Board approved +he figure of 1,31,315 star
pagodas which had been arrived at as the ultimate revenue on all
the cultivated lands in the Dindigul country, they considered that
the deduction of some ten per cent, from the gross value of the
province which Mr. Hurdis had proposed to allow the zamindars
as their profit should be increased to 10 per cent., and that the
permanent revenue should be 1,09,189 star pagodas.

But hardly had the division of the district into these forty
estates come completely into operation than (from 1805 onwards)
the state of the country rapidly became alarmingly serious. The
owners of the various zamindaris fell heavily into arrears, the total
balance at the end of fasli 12 1

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