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Malabar Manual Vol 1 CHAPTER III. HISTORY
William Logan!
Section (F). THE MYSOREAN CONQUEST. A.D. 1766-1792

Meanwhile, however, fresh and most serious trouble was brewing in a totally unexpected quarter. On the 11th March 1761 the Kolattiri Regent wrote to the Chief to say that Ali Raja of Cannanore had given the greatest affront possible to the Hindu religion by putting a golden spire on the top of one of his mosques, it being contrary to their established rules to have a spire of gold on any edifice throughout the coast except on the principal pagodas ; and only those of Taliparamba, "Turukacoonotu" in Kottayam, and "UrupyachyCauvil" at Agarr were entitled to the distinction. War ensued: the Court of Directors’ orders were peremptory and forbade the factors from interfering, except as mediators, in the disputes among the country powers.


At last on 28th August 1762 a hollow peace was patched up between the Kolattiri Regent and the Cannanore Mappillas.



Only a few months later, Mr. Stracey, the Honourable Company’s Resident, at Honore, sent an urgent message, which arrived on January 9th, 1768, to say that a large Mogul (sic) army was threatening Bednur, and that he urgently wanted a ship to be sent to remove the Honourable Company’s property from Honore. And on the same day the linguist, at Mangalore wrote to the same effect, but informed the factors that the army belonged to "Hedder Naique" and not to the Mogul.


The factors were not kept long in suspense, for, on the 24th of the same month, the news of the taking of Bednur by "Hedder Naique" on the 16th arrived, and on the 28th this was followed up by an account of "Nabob Hyder Ally Cawn's" arrival at Mangalore on the 27th.


In the success of a Muhammadan like Hyder Ali, the Ali Raja of Cannanore saw hopes of future aggrandisement and of settling the long score he had to repay the Kolattiris. The factors received intelligence that, even so early as January 1763 he was endeavouring to persuade Hyder Ali to the conquest of Malabar, but for a time it did not suit that potentate's schemes to comply with the request.



Before proceeding to relate the story of Hyder Ali’s conquest of the province, it will be well to take note briefly of the changes brought about in the south in the last few years.


When in 1753 the Dutch basely threw over their native allies and, more particularly, the Raja of Cochin in the manner already described, two important, aggressive forces were let loose on the hapless Raja of Cochin and his allies and vassals.


The Zamorin coming along the coast line from the north in 1755-56 attacked Chetwai, drove in the Dutch outposts, and rapidly possessed himself of Cranganore, Paroor and Verapoly. And the Travancore Raja advancing in like manner from the south, rapidly overran Tekkankur, Vadakkankur, Purakkat and other places—allies or vassals of Cochin—whom their suzerain attempted but in vain to assist. The allied forces were completely routed by the Travancoreans at Purakkat.


The Dutch managed to recover their fort at Chetwai, and by a disadvantageous peace with the Zamorin in 1758 they obtained three islands lying off Palliport, but otherwise these encroachments from the north and south were unchecked.


In his extremity the Cochin Raja turned for assistance to Travancore instead of to his hereditary foe the Zamorin, and on the 22nd and 23rd December 1761 articles1 of alliance passed between the two Rajas, providing for the expulsion of the Zamorin and for the cession of further territory to Travancore.


The Travancore troops were admitted to the Cochin territory for its defence, and the first act of the Travancoreans was to set about the construction of the famous Travancore lines stretching in an almost straight line from the shore of the backwater opposite the ancient town of Cranganore to the foot of the ghats. The lines consisted of an imposing earthen rampart, but of no great height, fronted on the north by a ditch formed by excavation of earth required for the rampart. At intervals were placed flanking towers and at the western extremity a fort of considerable strength.


NOTEs: 1. Treaties, etc., i. CXXIV and CXXV. END OF NOTEs


Its weakness lay in the fact that so few of the points were closed on the rear or south side, and that if one such point were taken the whole line of defence, extending to nearly thirty miles, necessarily collapsed.


But however imperfect the Travancorean engineering was, the importance of such a line of works was not perceived by the troops of the Zamorin. The meaning of the trouble taken by the Travancoreans in constructing such a work was not seen until, with their right flank thoroughly protected by this work, the Travancoreans in 1762 launched themselves under their General Eustachius Benedictus de Lannoy2 in three divisions on the Zamorin’s garrisons, extending in a long weak line into Cochin territory at Cranganore, Paroor and Verapoly.


The defeat of the Zamorin was rapidly achieved and his troops were completely and finally driven from Cochin territory. This left the Travancoreans masters of the whole country from Cranganore to Cape Comorin, a small isolated portion of territory lying round the Cochin Raja’s palace at Tirupunattara on the east, of the backwater, and another portion to the north and south of Cochin on the west of it, being all that was left to the Cochin Raja of his dominions to the south of the Travancore lines.


NOTEs: 2. De Lannoy lies buried in the ruined chapel of the Udayagiri fort in South Travancore. His tombstone contains the following inscription :—“Hic jucet Eustathius Benedictus de Lannoy qui tanquom dux generalis militiæ Travancotidis præfuit, ac per annos XXXVII formo summa felicitate regi insorbiit, cui omnia regna ex Caiamcolum usque ad Cochin vi armorum ac terrore subjecit. Vixit annos LXII menses V et mortuus est die I Junu MDCCLXXII. Requieseat in pace." END OF NOTEs


But it was not alone in Cochin territory that the Zamorin was actively aggressive about this time. Some time previously, but in what particular year it is impossible to say, he had driven a wedge through the territories of his other hereditary foe, the Walluvanad Raja, and had cut the dominions of the latter in two by annexing a broad band3 of territory extending from his own country of Ernad in the north to the previously conquered Walluvanad territory of Nedunganad in the south.


NOTEs: See the map at paragraph 11, Section (B), Chapter IV. END OF NOTEs


And by adopting similar tactics with the dominions of the Palghat Raja, his neighbour on the east, the Zamorin had about 1756-57 driven a similar wedge, to which he gave the name of the Naduvattam,1 through the Palghat territory and cut it in two with a view no doubt to eventual absorption of the whole.


NOTEs: See the map at paragraph 11, Section (B), Chapter IV. END OF NOTEs


The Palghat Raja turned in this emergency to his neighbour on the east, and despatched in 1757 a deputation to Hyder Ali, then Foujdar of Dindigul under the nominal sovereignty of the puppet Chick Kishen Raja of Mysore desiring his assistance against the Zamorin.


Hyder Ali sent his brother-in-law2 Mukhdum Sahib with 2,000 horse, 5,000 infantry, and guns to assist him : and this force aided by the Palghat Nayars carried their arms as far as the sea coast. The Zamorin’s force retreated and the Zamorin bought off his opponents by agreeing to restore his Palghat conquests and by promising to pay in instalments a war indemnity of Rs. 12,00,000. Not relishing the presence of Muhammadan troops, while waiting for payment of the subsidy, the Zamorin opened negotiations with Deo Raju one of the puppet Mysore Raja’s ministers.


NOTEs: This was the first occasion on which a Muhammadan force ever entered Malabar. END OF NOTEs


This afforded Deo Raj an opportunity he desired of settling some other matters in dispute between himself and Hyder Ali, and the latter relinquished his claim to the Rs. 12,00,000 in favour of Deo Raj, who thereupon sent the Rajput corps of Herri Sing, the most zealous of his supporters, to collect it. Herri Sing failed to recover any portion of the money, and returned, on hearing of Deo Raj’s death, which took place at Seringapatam on 19th June 1758, to Avanasi in Coimbatore. Here he was treacherously surprised and murdered at night by a force sent by Hyder Ali under Mukhdum Sahib for this special purpose, though the force was ostensibly detailed for service at Dindigul. The claim to this war subsidy was never relinquished, and to recover it was one of Hyder Ali’s avowed objects in invading Malabar.


Shortly after these events, in June 1759 Hyder All successfully intrigued to remove Nunjeraj, the remaining minister of the puppet Mysore Raja. He was supplanted by Kunde Row, a creature of Hyder Ali’s and the latter became virtually the ruler of Mysore. Two years later, in the beginning of June 1761, Hyder Ali finally overthrew Kunde Row and usurped the Government, still, however, nominally recognizing the Raja as such.


To resume the narrative of events. On the 7th May 1763 the Tellicherry factors heard that hostilities had been commenced on the Canara frontier by the king of Nilesvaram. Hyder Ali threatened to come down to take the forts lately vacated by the French, and the Honourable Company’s Agents considered it high time to come to some understanding with him. A treaty, dated 27th May 1763, was accordingly arranged at Bednur in the shape of a "Phurmaund"3 from the “Nabob Hyder Ali Khan Bahadur,” permitting the Honourable Company to export rice from Mangalore for Tellicherry, and binding both parties not to assist each other’s enemies.


NOTEs: For the two articles of it relating to the Tellicherry factory, see Treaties, etc., i. LXXIX. END OF NOTEs


Hyder Ali’s plans were not yet ripe for the conquest of Malabar, and in the interval orders were about April 1764 received from Bombay that the French were in accordance with treaty to be put in possession of all their places as they stood in 1749. To Captain Louis D. Plusquellec, Commissary appointed by John Law of Lauriston, Commander-in-General of all the French Settlements in the East Indies, the factors accordingly in due course on October 20th, 1765, restored1 Mahe and its dependencies and the places where the fortifications stood.”


NOTEs: 1. Treaties, etc., i. LXXX and CXXX. END OF NOTEs


During this interval also the Mappillas began to give trouble. The factors in exercise of their treaty rights had established round boats to prevent the export of pepper from Kadattanad. These boats were found not to be of sufficient strength for the purpose, as they were unable to cope with the Mappilla boats rowed by eight or ten men with four or six more to assist, all of whom (even the boatmen) practised with the “sword and target” at least. In retaliation for the pressure thus brought to bear upon them by the factors, the Mappillas took to committing outrages.


In March 1764 two of them entered a church on Darmapattanam Island, where a priest was saying mass, and murdered one man and severely wounded several. They were shot by the garrison “and spitted.” A few days afterwards another Mappilla came behind two Europeans while walking along one of the narrow lanes leading to Fort Mailan and cut one of them through the neck and half way through the body with one stroke of his sword. The other was mangled in such a way that his life was despaired of. After this the Mappilla picked a quarrel with a Nayar and was subsequently shot by the Tiyar guard. His body was “spitted” along with those of the others, and then thrown into the sea, to prevent their caste men from worshipping them as saints for killing Christians.


Such outrages became frequent, and on July 9th 1765 the Chief was obliged to issue a stringent order2 to disarm them within factory limits.


NOTEs: 2. Treaties, etc., i. CXXVIII. END OF NOTEs



The factors were fully alive to the fact that Hyder Ali’s invasion of Malabar was only a question of time ; and with a view no doubt to obtaining a reliable estimate of his power the Chief had, so early as January 1764, despatched Ensign Parker on a long journey overland to Madras. The ostensible object of the trip was to survey the line of country “through Cotiote3 to Syringapatam and thence through the pass in the mountains called Sautgurr to Vellour.” with a view to marching troops that way if necessary to Madras.


NOTEs: 3. The Kottayam Raja’s territory comprising the present taluks of Kottayam and Wainad. END OF NOTEs


On the 8th October of that same year Hyder Ali sent a letter to the Chief by the hands of Anant Row, who hinted that it was Hyder Ali’s intention to invade Malabar as soon as he had settled with the Mahrattas. Against this, of course, the Chief and factors protested ; but on the 6th November following came another letter from Hyder Ali, and Anant Row asked the factors to offer no opposition when Hyder Ali’s army entered the country as he had now made up his mind to make the Kolattiri, the Zamorin, and the Cochin and other Rajas tributary to him.


Anat Row invited the Honourable Company to assist Hyder Ali in carrying out his designs or to at least remain neuter. The Chief and factors at first said they could not listen to such proposals, but on further consideration “that he might not in all probability be prevailed upon to desist from carrying his already projected plans into execution by anything they might say or do,1 they finally resolved to make the best terms possible for the Honourable Company.


NOTEs: 1. Ensign Parker’s mission had no doubt opened their eyes to the power Hyder Ali commanded. END OF NOTEs


They accordingly informed Anant How that it could not be expected that the Company would remain neuter unless Hyder Ali entered previously into engagements for preserving the Company’s proper footing in any countries he might subdue, and they suggested the following as a basis for an agreement : -(1) The commodities dealt in by the Company to be solely appropriated to the Company on payment of the usual customs and no more. (2) Wollen goods and Europe staples to pass customs free on the Chief’s certificate. (3) Goods (cloth, etc., purchased inland for the Company to pass duty free, and that not for the Company to pay half the usual rates. (4) Any quantity of rice to be exported free of adlamy from the Canara ports.


Ali Raja of Cannanore, in view of the impending invasion, next proceeded to better himself by siding with the irreconcilable party of Capu Tamban in the Kolattiri family. The Prince Regent applied to the factors, and they tried to bring Ali Raja to reason, but without much success ; for notwithstanding the engagement2 given by him to give back what he had unjustly seized and not to interfere further in Kolattunad affairs, the war went on, and on 18th August 1765 the Ramdilly (Alikkunnu) fort was taken by a party sent from Tellicherry under Captain Lytt Le die to a d the Prince Regent.


NOTEs: 2. Treaties, etc., i. CXXIX. END OF NOTEs



The irreconcilables under Prince Ambu Tamban still, however, kept the field, and it was in ostensible aid of this prince, and also to collect an old Bednur outstanding of Pagodas 2,00,000 against the Kolattiri and his own debt against the Zamorin, that Hyder Ali eventually crossed the frontier. The news of this event reached the factors on the 10th February 1766 and on the 12th Mr, Ashburner reported from Nilesvaram that Hyder Ali was there with a considerable army bent on subduing Malabar.


In accordance with orders from Bombay two members of the Tellicherry Board set out for Hyder Ali’s camp to point out to him what powers were in alliance with the Company and should not be molested. And the result of this mission is embodied in “a grant”3 from Hyder Ali, executed at Madayi on the 23rd of the same month, confirming all the Honourable Company's trading privileges in Malabar.


NOTEs: 3. Treaties, etc., i. LXXXV. END OF NOTEs



Prior to this, Hyder Ali had been directing his attention to the formation of a fleet, and Ali Raja of Cannanore, who already had a number of well-equipped vessels at sea, was appointed High Admiral, while his brother Sheikh Ali received the appointment of "Indendant of the marine, of the ports, and of the maritime commerce of his dominions."


Reinforced by a number of the disciplined soldiers of Hyder Ali, the High Admiral, it is said, sailed for and conquered the Maldive Islands. After taking the King of the Islands prisoner, he had the barbarity to put his eyes out.


Returning victorious to Mangalore, Ali Raja next proceeded to Nagar with his unfortunate captive. But Hyder Ali was so irritated at the cruelty practised on the unfortunate king by his admiral that he instantly deprived him of the command of the fleet, which he afterwards, it is said, bestowed on an Englishman named Stanet. And it is a pleasing trait in Hyder Ali’s character that he entreated the unfortunate king to forgive the outrage committed, and that he provided sumptuously for the blind man’s comfort.


Thence forward Ali Raja and his brother served on land, and aided by a body of their troops, stated to have been 8,000, and by a different account 12,000 in number, they acted as very efficient scouts to Hyder Ali’s army in its progress through Malabar.


Hyder Ali’s own army consisted it is said, of 12000 of his best troops, of which 4,000 were cavalry and the rest infantry, and his artillery consisted of only 4 pieces, but the fleet accompanied him along the coast and afforded assistance as required. A general insinuation was given to the army to grant no quarter.


On the 21st February 1766 the factors heard that the force had taken possession of a temple1 and had laid seige to Madayi, which the officer in command offered to deliver up. Hyder Ali would, however, consent only to an unconditional surrender. On the following day news came that the fort had been evacuated.


NOTEs: Probably that of Kunhimangalam. END OF NOTEs


The Kolattiri family made no resistance, for simultaneously with Hyder Ali’s advance Ali Raja and his men seized their palace at Chirakkal, and the old Tekkalankur prince with his attendants came to take refuge at the Brass Pagoda within Tellicherry limits. They were followed by numerous refugees, fleeing probably more before the terror of the Mappilla scouts than before Hyder Ali’s army.


On the 6th of March Hyder Ali, encamped at Chirakkal, sent a message to the Chief (Mr. James Ryloy) asking for a personal interview, but the Chief declined the honour unless Hyder Ali would consent to come to Dharmapattanam Island, or on board a country ship then in Tellicherry roads.


On the 7th the army entered Randattara and began to commit irregularities, whereupon the factors sent one Ramjee Purvoe to remonstrate. Hyder Ali changed his demeanour and told the messenger it was entirely the factors’ own fault: “Why did they not hoist his colours instead of the English ones, which his people did not know?”

The Nabob had, by this time, come to the conclusion that, the English were destined to be the masters of all India unless a change soon took place. They were already, he was heard to say, “masters of the whole of Bengal, of the greatest part of the Coromandel Coast, they are trying to get Malabar under them, and they have it in contemplation to send an expedition to China.”


He was, he added, determined to prevent this coming to pass. This conversation was reported to H. Kroonenberg, the Dutch Commandant at Cannanore when he, in great state mounted along with Hyder Ali on the latter’s own elephant, returned the visit paid by the latter to Cannanore fort on the 15th of March. The Nabob said he looked to the Dutch to help him to drive out the English.


Being in this frame of mind, the Mysorean objected to the protection afforded by the Tellicherry settlement to the refugees who fled before his army. He also asked to be supplied with gunpowder and arms, and being refused, made another grievance out of this. The factors at the same time had information that Ali Raja was all this time urging Hyder Ali to attack the factory, but to this he would not listen. On the 15th March the army entered the Kottayam Raja’s territory after some opposition and with some casualties, on both sides.


The Kottayam Mappillas deserted the Raja and assisted the invaders.


On the 21st, at 6 P.M., an interview took place between Hyder Ali and the Chief Mr. Ryley, at a spot in Kottayam territory opposite to Darmapattanam Island, but no business was discussed, and it was arranged that Ramjee Purvoe should remain behind to settle all such affairs.


On the 25th the factors despatched the Achanmar of Randattara to their district, escorted by British sepoys, but the Mappillas refused them passage thither. On the 26th came orders from Bombay counselling the adoption of a conciliatory policy towards the invaders, as opposing them would lead the Company into projects far too extensive, for which there was no sufficient force. These orders were subsequently modified by further orders from Bombay, ordering the factors when it was too late—the orders were received only on the 17th April—to repel force by force if the invaders attempted to pass the Tellicherry limits, or to invade the Company’s immediate property.


The orders were accompanied by a letter to Hyder Ali himself, which was sent to him, upbraiding him for attacking the Company’s allies. The invaders met with the first serious opposition they had experienced when attempting on the 28th to enter Kadattanad. To do this they had to cross the Mahe river in the face of the enemy strongly posted on its southern bank. It is difficult to point to the exact scene of this battle, but it probably lay at or near the existing ferry of Perinkulam. The fight is thus picturesquely, but, perhaps, not very accurately, described by the Mogul officer, whose work was subsequently edited by Prince Ghulam Muhammad,1 Tippu’s only surviving son.


NOTEs.1. London: Thacker & Co., 1855, p. 69. END OF NOTEs


“To succeed in his attempt, in spite of this numerous army and the artillery, Hyder caused his fleet to enter the river. His vessels sailed up as far as possible ; and drawing up his infantry in order of battle in a single line in face of the enemy with his twelve pieces of cannon, he waited for the ebb of the water.


"When the river was at the lowest he entered it full gallop at the head of his cavalry which he had till then kept out of sight of the Nayres : they were led on by fifty of the French Hussars lately arrived from Pondicherry. As the rapidity of the current was diminished by his vessels, he traversed the river without difficulty at a place where it was a league in breadth, sometimes swimming and sometimes wading: he soon came to the other river where the Nayres were busied in attempting to oppose the infantry, who pretended to be on the point of passing over. They were frightened at the sudden appearance of the cavalry and fled with the utmost precipitation and disorder without making any other defence but that of discharging a few cannon which they were too much intimidated to point properly.


“Hyder foreseeing this event, had given orders to pursue the fugitives full speed, cutting down all they could overtake, without losing time either by taking prisoners or securing plunder.


“This order being executed with the utmost strictness, nothing was to be seen in the roads for the distance of four leagues round but scattered limbs and mutilated bodies. The country of the Nayres was thrown into a general consternation, which was much increased by the cruelty of the Mapelets, who followed the cavalry, massacred all who had escaped, without sparing women or children : so that the army advancing under the conduct of this enraged multitude, instead of meeting with resistance, found the villages, fortresses, temples, and in general every habitable place forsaken and deserted.



“It was not till they were near the environs of Tellicherry and Mahe, French and English establishments, that they began to find people, who had taken refuge near those places.”

The factors’ information regarding this severe engagement was that it lasted twenty-four hours, that there were many casualties, including some principal officers, and that the Kadattanad Raja retired to a pagoda with his force not altogether beaten. The invading army remained at the spot, making good their passage for over a week, and on the 6th of April a force of 1,000 men entered and searched Mahe in an attempt to discover the Kadattanad treasures.


On that same day another force of 6,000 men was despatched against Calicut. The invaders met with little further resistance, and as they proceeded they secured the country in their rear by a series of block houses (called lakkidikottas or wooden forts). The Nayars, in their despair, defended such small posts as they possessed most bravely.


“One of these which my manuscripts name Tamelpelly, was surrounded by Hyder in the following manner : first, a line of regular infantry and guns with an abbatis ; second, a line of peons ; third, of cavalry. This disposition was made for the purpose of striking terror by not allowing a man to escape destruction. The Nayars defended themselves until they were tired of the confinement, and then leaping over the abbatis and cutting through the three lines with astonishing rapidity, they gained the woods before the enemy had recovered from their surprise.” (Wilks’ History, I, 291.)


The officer left in command at Kottayam wrote on the 10th to say he had instructions to maintain a friendly footing with the Honourable Company.


And next day the factors received news from Calicut that Ali Raja, at the head of 1,000 men, had reached the Zamorin’s palace near Calicut, and on summoning it to surrender, had been refused by the second prince of the family. Calicut itself was quietly occupied by another party. Another account says that the Zamorin himself met Hyder Ali in Kurumbranad, to which the latter had advanced with his army from the Turasseri river. The demand made for a crore of gold mohurs was so extravagant, that the Zamorin protested his inability to comply with it. He offered to deliver the whole of his treasure and all his property, but this did not satisfy his adversary, who caused him to be seized and imprisoned.


“He was sent1 under a guard of 500 horse and 2,000 infantry to the fort of Calicut ; the Raja was confined in his own house without food, and was strictly prohibited from performing the ceremonies of his religion: and as he thought that Hyder might inflict some further disgrace upon him, either by causing him to be hanged, or blown from a gun, the Raja set fire to the house with his own hand, and was consumed in it.”


NOTEs: 1. Asiatic Researches, V, pp. 30, 31. Several accounts of this event are extant. That given in the text was obtained in 1793 from the then Zamorin by Mr. Jonathan Duncan, President of the first Malabar Commission, and afterwards Governor of Bombay. END OF NOTEs


At Calicut Dutch commissioners met Hyder Ali at his request and discussed with him the terms on which he would be prepared to enter into an offensive and defensive alliance with the Hollanders. It is unnecessary to give the proposals in detail, for nothing came of the conference, and it was manifest that to have accepted his terms the Dutch would have had to fight the English both at home and abroad.


He agreed not to molest the Raja of Cochin on certain conditions, but he would guarantee nothing in regard to Travancore. As there was delay in replying to his proposals he then modified his terms as regards these Rajas and demanded 4 lakhs of rupees and 8 elephants from Cochin, and 15 lakhs and 20 elephants from Travancore, in default of receiving which, he said, he meant to visit those countries. In reply to this demand, the Cochin Raja placed himself unreservedly in the Dutch Company’s hands, but the Travancore Raja, strong in the assurance of English support, replied that Hyder Ali had not commenced the war to please him or with his advice, that therefore he objected, to contribute anything, that moreover he was already tributary1 to the Nawab Muhammad Ali and could not afford to subsidise two suzerains at the same time, but that he would contribute a considerable sum if Hyder Ali would reinstate the Kolattiri and the Zamorin, and ended by suggesting to the Dutch to do the same.


NOTEs: 1. Conf. Treaties, etc., i, CXXXlV to CXLI. END OF NOTEs



And strangely enough, in spite of the ill-treatment which the Cochin Raja had quite recently received at the hands of the Zamorin, the Cochin Raja too in his reply trusted that the Kolattiri and the Zamorin would be restored. The Dutch did not care to send such replies to Hyder Ali, as in the case of Travancore they would have shown him how helpless in reality they were to conduct such negotiations, and how powerful by contrast their English rivals were ; the Cochin Raja eventually obtained immunity from conquest by agreeing to pay a subsidy of 2 lakhs of rupees and 8 elephants.


To the demand of Hyder Ali the Travancore Raja, on July 20th, 1766, made further significant reply by commencing on that date to extend the Travancore lines to within range of the guns of the Dutch fort at Cranganore and on to the territory of the Cranganore Raja. The Dutch, in their fear of offending Hyder Ali, required them to desist from this work within Dutch limits.


After engaging in these negotiations and in further preparations for securing, by means of fortified posts, the conquered country, Hyder Ali at length started eastwards, leaving a movable column of 3,000 regular troops aided by Ali Raja and his Mappillas at Calicut. He also left Madanna, an experienced revenue officer, as civil governor of the province.


He had remained too long on the coast, however, and was overtaken by the south-west monsoon on his fourth day’s march. His march was rendered difficult in consequence, and it was only after sustaining a heavy loss of horses and cattle that his army debouched at last on the cool and pleasant plains of Coimbatore. At Madakkara he left Raza Sahib in quarters with 3.000 infantry.


While Hyder Ali was thus engaged in the south, the Tellicherry factors on the 17th April again attempted to recover Randattara, and a small force sent thither for the purpose had to retire. A boat sent to the Valarpattanam river at the same time to protect the Company’s trade was captured by the Mappillas, two guns and three mortars were seized, and the sergeant in charge was made prisoner. The factors suspected that Ali Raja (“that Moor”) was being secretly assisted by Hyder Ali, who, however, when appealed to, restored on 7th May the guns and mortars and other property. As regards Randattara, Hyder Ali told the factors to send only one Brahman thither to collect the revenue, and wound up ironically thus; “but if you do not choose to trust me, keep what people you please there.”


On the 22nd June came a letter from Madras strongly advising the Bombay Council not to come to a rupture with Hyder Ali — first, because having command of the passes, he might send his cavalry and ravage the country ; secondly, because he was a check on the Mahrattas, who but for him would do the same thing ; and, finally, because the Mogul having recently given a grant of the Northern Sirkars to the Company, and the Nizam being inclined to oppose it, it would be a formidable combination if Hyder Ali were driven to join him.


Moreover they pointed out that the Company’s position on the West Coast put it in their power to disturb him at any time when he was not prepared to resist, or when troubles in other parts of his extensive dominions called him away elsewhere. They recommended, however, that the factors should not submit to be insulted by him.


On the 24th June, after Hyder Ali had retired to Coimbatore, news reached the factors that the Kottayam and Kadattanad Nayars had risen and retaken many places, and next day it was reported that Ali Raja had been appointed civil governor and his brother, Sheikh Ali, military governor of Kolattunad. The former was at Quilandy with 200 men and unable to pass through Kadattanad, being opposed by the Nayars. In September too Prince Ambu Tamban revolted, took two forts, and inflicted a defeat with a loss of 300 men on the Mappillas. The Kottayam Nayars also retook the Nittur fort close to the Tellicherry limits, and the country rose en masse.


The revolt was also general in South Malabar. No word of it, so effectually were messengers intercepted, reached the Mysoreans at Coimbatore until after the chief forts at Calicut and Ponnani had been closely invested. And even then the news was only convoyed by a Portuguese sailor, who, on promise of a handsome reward from the officer commanding at Ponnani, succeeded after many hardships, and with only a compass for guide, in reaching Madakkam and apprising Raza Sahib of the revolt and of the dangers to the garrisons at Calicut and Ponnani.


Raza Sahib marched at once with his infantry alone in spite of the inclement weather and of the inundated state of the country. The absence of his cavalry enabled the Nayars to harass the force at every river-crossing, and at length it was drawn into a position at the junction of the Tutakal and Ponnani rivers, whence it could neither advance on account of the streams, nor retreat on account of the ravines strongly held by the enemy in the rear.


Prince Gulam Muhammad’s author gives the following interesting account of Hyder Ali’s march to relieve his lieutenant : — “Raza Sahib having contrived to send advice of his situation, Hyder immediately marched with 3,000 horse and 10,000 sepoys or topasses. He ordered his cavalry, both officers and men, to ride without saddles ; and commanded his infantry to quit their habits and march naked, excepting a pair of light drawers and shoes. Each soldier was provided with a waxed cloth to wrap up his knapsack, and the 300 Europeans lately arrived from Pondicherry and Colombo, were offered parasols as they did not choose to quit their habits! Their refusal was the cause that they were almost the only persons in the army that were attacked by the dysentery.


“All the artillery of this small army consisted in twelve light pieces of cannon that were carried by elephants.


“It is scarcely possible to form an idea of the species of war to which Hyder led his troops this campaign. Imagine an army of 15,000 men marching from the break of day through a mountainous country in roads or passages scarcely admitting more than three men abreast, exposed from morning till night to a constant shower, equal to those that fall in the greatest storms attended with frequent thunder and lightning, excepting for three hours after noon in which the sun shone out with almost insupportable lustre and heat ; frequently obliged to cross rivers up to the chin in water and sometimes swimming ; and passing the night in towns or villages deserted by their inhabitants, where, however, they found plenty of the necessaries of life.


Their path was everywhere marked by rain and destruction, for their orders were to burn and pillage, and they exerted themselves so much in this horrible work that they left behind them nothing hut heaps of ruins where houses had formerly stood.


“This unexpected march obliged the Nayars to collect all their troops and gave some relief to the troops of Raza Sahib, though not sufficient to prevent his losing many of his men for want of necessaries and in consequence of the hardship they were subjected to. The Nayar princes, though half defeated by the fear of the consequences of their revolt, nevertheless expected Hyder with confidence in a retrenched camp near Pondiaghari,1 which on its left wing had a village fortified with a ditch and parapet planted with pallisades well furnished with artillery and maintained by the most resolute, who had determined rather to perish than to yield.


NOTEs: The place indicated appears to have been Vettatt Putiyangadi in Ponnani taluk. It is usually referred to as Putiyangadi (lit. new bazaar). END OF NOTEs


“Hyder, for the attack of this retrenched camp, disposed of his army so that 4,000 of his best sepoys, forming the right wing, were charged to attack the village ; this corps was commanded by a Portuguese Lieutenant-Colonel lately arrived from Goa, with different officers of his nation.


"The left wing, composed of topasses, was commanded by an English officer, and Hyder himself commanded the main body, having behind him a reserve of Europeans, almost all French, with whom were joined those who are called the Bara Audmees or great men, a corps composed of all the young nobility and courtiers, without excepting even the generals who have not appointed posts or commands on the day of battle. They were all on foot and armed with sabres and bucklers, having voluntarily put themselves under the command of the officer of Europeans, whom they promised to follow wherever he might lead them.


“The cavalry, that could not be of service till after the entrenchment was forced, was formed behind the corps-de-reserve. According to the orders, the Portuguese officer attacked the retrenched village with his 4,000 sepoys, by conducting them bravely to the edge of the ditch ; but without advancing a step farther, he contented himself with causing his troop to fire as if at their exercise.


"These unfortunate sepoys, totally exposed, were destroyed with impunity by their enemies, who fired from pent-holes or from behind the hedges. This firing, which lasted upwards of two hours, highly enraged Hyder, who receiving every moment news of the state of the attack, learned with the utmost mortification the unavailing loss of his host troops. The French officer, commandant of the Europeans, who lately arrived, and had not yet had an opportunity of distinguishing himself, offered to advance with the corps-de-reserve and put himself at the head of the sepoys.


Hyder answered that he might do as he thought proper ; and he immediately joined his troop, which was impatient for the combat and burned with a desire to revenge the French who were inhumanly1 massacred at Pondiaghari. Headed by this active and courageous officer, and joined by the Bara Audmees, they ran with violent eagerness to the attack. The intervals between the battalions of sepoys afforded them a passage : they jumped into the ditch, and hastily ascending the retrenchments tore up the pallisades, and were in the face of the enemy in an instant.


"They gave no quarter ; and the enemy, astonished to the last degree at their impetuosity and rage, suffered themselves to be butchered even without resistance. The flames of the village on fire, and the direction of the cannon now pointed on the distracted Nayars, evinced to Hyder that the village was carried. The whole army in consequence moved to attack the retrenchment ; but the enemy perceiving that Hyder’s troops had stormed their outpost, and catching the affright of the fugitives, fled from their camp with disorder and precipitation.


NOTEs: 1. This refers to the massacre at this same place a few months previously of five French deserters from Mahe proceeding to join Hyder Ali's army. This event occurred during the general revolt which followed Hyder Ali’s withdrawal from the coast. Two women accompanying the deserters were, it is alleged, most barbarously mutilated and killed at the same time. END OF NOTEs


“Hyder had supposed his enemies would have exhibited more firmness on this occasion. This brave and fortunate attack, which was much exalted by the young nobility that shared the glory, gave him infinite pleasure. He created the French commandant Bahadur upon the spot ; and in the evening presented him with a patent appointing him general of 10,000 horses, which is the highest military post among the Moguls, at the same time declaring him general-in-chief of his artillery. He likewise gave a gratification of thirty rupees to every soldier, and twice that sum to each of the wounded, of which there was a great number, though no more than one died.


“As the Nayars had no bayonets, the wounds were only cuts with the sabre, little dangerous where ready assistance is to be had.

“The Europeans inspired the Malabars with a new terror by this exploit ; and Hyder, to increase it, spread a report that he expected many thousand men from Europe ; he added that they were a cruel people and devourers of human flesh, and that his intention was to deliver all the coast to their outrages.


"The rage and fury by which his small handful of French were urged on to revenge their murdered countrymen gave much force to the belief the wretched inhabitants were disposed to afford to his reports. Wherever he turned he found no opponent, nor even any human creature ; every inhabited place was forsaken ; and the poor inhabitants, who fled to the woods and mountains in the most inclement season, had the anguish to behold their houses in flames, their fruit-trees cut down, their cattle destroyed, and their temples burnt.


The perfidy of the Nayars had been too great for them to trust the offers of pardon made by Hyder ; by means of Brahmans he despatched into the woods and mountains to recall those unhappy people, who were hanged without mercy and their wives and children reduced to slavery whenever they were found in the woods by the troops of Hyder, severity and mildness being both equally ineffectual in making them return to their homes.


"Ali Raja and the Mappillas, who saw themselves thus involved in the ruin of the Nayars, persuaded Hyder to return to Coimbatore in hopes that his absence might remove the timidity of the people ; and it is highly probable that the dysentery that raged in his army was a much more effectual reason that induced him to leave the country. The officers and Europeans, who had retained their clothing and had more particularly abused the liberty of doing as they pleased, were the most exposed to this dangerous malady.



“Before he quitted the country, Hyder by a solemn edict, declared the Nayars deprived of all their privileges ; and ordained that their caste, which was the first after the Brahmans, should thereafter be the lowest of all the castes, subjecting them to salute the Parias and others of the lowest castes by ranging themselves before them as the other Mallabars had been obliged to do before the Nayars ; permitting all the other caste to bear arms and forbidding them to the Nayars, who till then had enjoyed the sole right of carrying them; at the same time allowing and commanding all persons to kill such Nayars as were found bearing arms. By this rigorous edict, Hyder expected to make all the other castes enemies of the Nayars, and that they would rejoice in the occasion of revenging themselves for the tyrannic oppression this nobility had till then exerted over them.


“This ordinance being found to make the submission of the Nayars absolutely impossible, because they would have thought death preferable to such a degradation, he made a new edict by which he re-established in all their rights and privileges such Nayars as should embrace the Muhammadan religion. Many of these nobles took the turban on this occasion, but the greater part remained dispersed and chose rather to take refuge in the kingdom of Travancore than submit to this last ordinance.


“Though the approach of the fine season and the terror he had spread might have left little apprehension of another revolt, yet he left several bodies of troops in the country distributed in posts so situated as to assist each other in case of necessity, and quartered the rest of his infantry in the neighbourhood of Madigheri,1 taking only his cavalry with him to Coimbatore, which he was obliged to spread over the country on account of the scarcity of forage.”


NOTEs: 1. Madakkara. END OF NOTEs


In addition to the measures described above Hyder Ali adopted other means of subduing the refractory Nayars. His troops spread over the face of the country after taking Vettattputiyangadi, and acting from Manjeri in the Ernad taluk as a centre, they brought in numerous prisoners. These were at first either beheaded or hanged ; “but2 as their numbers increased, Hyder conceived the plan of sparing them for the use of his former territories. This cure for rebellion in one province and for defective population in another, of which such numerous examples occur in the Jewish history, was not successfully practised by Hyder. The captives were uncared for, and owing to privations and a violent change of climate, of 15,000 who were removed, it is supposed that 200 did not survive the experiment.”


NOTEs: 2. Wilks* “Historical Sketches, etc.,” 1,293. END OF NOTEs


These violent measures produced a deceitful calm in the province, and Hyder Ali thinking he had permanently tranquillised the country proceeded to Coimbatore, giving orders en route for the erection of the present Palghat fort, which, lying in the centre of the gap in the line of ghats, was judiciously chosen as an advanced post and depot to facilitate communications with the newly-subdued province.


Hyder Ali at this juncture had to face a more formidable confederation than any he had yet experienced. The Mahrattas and the Nizam, aided by an English corps, were threatening him on the north and north-east. In the face of this combination, he accordingly resorted to measures likely to be pleasing to one of his antagonists, and on 3rd November 1766 the factors at Tellicherry had the satisfaction of learning that he had evinced a real desire to be on good terms with the Honourable Company, and in proof of it he had ordered all the pepper and other monopoly products of Malabar to be given to them.


But the seeming calm was not destined to last. Hyder Ali had not received the submission of Travancore, and only a week after the above event the factors obtained intelligence that he was preparing to invade Travancore and was seeking for a passage for his troops through the mountains.


And, on 10th January 1766, came the further news that a force despatched for this purpose had been defeated, and this reverse seems to have been the signal for another general rising in Malabar. A force of 4,000 men had been sent into the Kottayam territory. It was attacked by 2,000 Nayars and defeated with great slaughter and loss of their camp and stores. The Nayars all over the country again rose and shut up the invaders in their stockades (lakkidikotta).


Hyder Ali bought off the Mahrattas, and the Nizam was induced to throw over his allies and to join Hyder Ali in a campaign against the English on the east coast. The first act of hostility occurred on 25th August 1768, but the news did not reach Tellicherry till the 13th October.


It is unnecessary to trace in detail the operations which followed. The allies were beaten in the field, the Nizam made a separate peace, the English in conjunction with Muhammad Ali, Nabob of the Carnatic, overran Hyder Ali’s dominions, and planned, with an utterly inadequate force to carry out this resolution, an invasion of Mysore itself.


To aid the operations on the east coast an expedition under Messrs. Govin and Watson was despatched in February 1768 from Bombay to take or destroy Hyder Ali’s fleet. The leaders of the expedition, on reaching Honore, wrote to Tellicherry for boats to assist in crossing the Mangalore surf, and Mr. Sibbald at Honore prevailed on Hyder Ali’s naval commander to join the expedition with one three-mast grab, one two-mast grab, and five gallivats. In Mangalore the expedition took the “Buckingham” and another three -mast grab.


On 1st March the news arrived that Mangalore had been taken and that three vessels of the expedition were being despatched to help the Tellicherry factors in an expedition they had planned against Ali Raja’s town of Cannanore. On the 3rd of March the expedition against Cannanore was despatched. The force consisted of 2 captains, 5 subalterns, and 182 infantry, the commanding officer of artillery and 47 of his train - 232 Bombay sepoys, 80 of the Honourable Company’s Narangpurattta Nayars, and 175 Tiyars—altogether 716 effective men besides officers; and the Prince of Kolattunad and the Raja of Kottayam had agreed to join with 1,700 Nayars.


The whole force was under the command of Captain Thomas Henry assisted by Mr. Robert Sparkes.


Their first move was from Darmapattanam Island to Carly Hill on 3rd March. After reconnoitring the place Captain Henry determined to attempt the capture of a fort called Avarakotta1 lying to the north-east of the town. Once in command of this fort the town would have been at his mercy. He accordingly proceeded on the 9th March to storm it, but the defence was desperate and the attacking column was driven back with the loss of 1 officer, 9 Europeans, 6 seamen, and 6 natives killed, and 1 officer, 16 Europeans, 4 seamen, 19 Bombay sepoys, and 8 Nayars wounded —altogether 70 men killed and wounded.


NOTEs: Probably identical with the ruined fort now called the Sultan’s Battery. END OF NOTEs


An application to the leaders of the expedition at Mangalore for assistance was made, but only one artillery officer’s services could be spared, and so on 22nd March, after a council of war had been held, at which it was estimated that a force of 2,200 men of all arms would be required to effect the reduction of the place, the scheme was finally abandoned. The factors were indignant at their native allies, Kottayam and Kadattanad, for not assisting them. The Prince of Kolattunad, on the other hand, was present and energetically assisted the besiegers.


On the 26th the news of the capture of Honore was reported, and on the same day came a vigorous remonstrance from the Bombay council at the line of action taken by the factors.


“This your precipitate and ill-judged conduct1 in the present state of affairs lays us under the greatest embarrassment.”


NOTEs: 1. The council's declared policy had been to assist the native powers against Ali Raja, but not to engage as principals in any warfare against him—Despatch of 30th September 1766. END OF NOTEs


And the despatch peremptorily directed operations against Ali Raja to be suspended in order that those against Hyder Ali might be carried on more vigorously.

Hyder Ali’s rapid and secret march across the peninsula and his recapture of Mangalore are matters of history. The Bombay force was driven out of Mangalore with such indecent haste that they even left their sick and wounded behind them, as well, as their field-pieces and stores. Honore and other places were recovered with equal ease, and before the monsoon commenced Hyder Ali’s army had reascended the ghats.


In June he was at Bednur wreaking his vengeance on the inhabitants who had favoured the English designs, and on the 18th of the month he prevailed on a Madras officer there imprisoned to write to the Chief at Tellicherry, signifying his desire for peace. This letter was in due course forwarded to Colonel Wood, and on 20th August the Chief was instructed from Madras to reply as follows :—


“I have communicated to the Governor of Madras what you wrote to me at the desire of Hyder Ally, the 18th June, to which I have received the following answer :—


“‘In the letter you sent me from the officer at Biddanora it is said Hyder Ally is desirous that a general peace may be effected through the mediation of Bombay. I have no objections to receive his proposals for peace ; if Hyder Ally has anything to propose on that subject and will write to me, I shall answer his letters. If he rather chuses to write to Bombay ’tis well, it will only prolong the negotiations, the end will be the same. It is said also in the same letter that Hyder Ally desires not to make war with the English but with Nabob Muhammad Ally only.


"The English are always true to their friends and faithful to their allies and therefore must look on the enemies of the Nabob Wallajah as their enemies. Whether the forts we have taken be of mud or stone ’tis not necessary to explain here, ’tis enough that Hyder Ally knows what they were worth to him, and I know well their importance to us. As to his threats of laying waste these countries and destroying the inhabitants, of what avail are words—they cannot hurt and merit not a reply—’Tis not my custom to threaten but to act.’ ”


Hyder Ali’s threats were not empty words, however, as the Madras council learnt to their cost when in November 1768, Fazlulla Khan in command of one column and Hyder Ali himself in command of another made a rapid and unexpected descent on Coimbatore and Salem, and Colonel Wood’s weak and scattered posts, designed more for the Nabob Muhammad Ali’s extortionate exactions of revenue than for military operations, fell an easy prey to the Mysoreans, some by treachery and some by force.


Lieutenant Bryant and his sepoys, being well apprised of treachery within their own lines, left Palghat by night, and marching south-west into Cochin territory eventually reached Madras by way of Travancore and Cape Comorin. Hyder Ali fulfilled his threat by scouring the country up to the very gates of Madras itself and almost1 dictated peace within sight of its walls on the 3rd April 1769.


The Tellicherry factors were not too well pleased with the terms obtained, although the Honourable Company’s trading privileges were confirmed, and recorded their opinion that Ali Raja should either be obliged by Hyder Ali to restore Kolattunad to the Prince Regent, or be compelled to give it up by force of arms.


The fact was that Hyder Ali had insisted, as a special condition in the negotiations which Madanna, the Civil Governor of South Malabar, had opened with the various Malabar chiefs in December 1768, that Ali Raja should remain undisturbed, and as Palghat was also studiously omitted, Hyder Ali had thus previously secured two points on the coast from which at any time he could resume his designs on the province.


Excepting Kolattunad and Palghat, therefore, and perhaps Kottayam and other petty chieftains, whose territories Hyder Ali’s officers had never so far been able to command, the Malayali chiefs eagerly adopted the terms offered, and "Hyder’s2 provincial troops, whose escape would otherwise have been impracticable, not only retreated in safety, but loaded with treasure—the willing3 contribution of the chiefs of Malabar—the purchase of a dream of independence.”


NOTEs: 1. Wilks, I. 383.

2. The Kadattanad Raja paid as much as Rs. 80,000.-— (Factors’ Diary, December, 1768). END OF NOTEs


The Malabar contingent of troops thus relieved in December 1768 formed a respectable portion of the army with which Hyder Ali and Fazlulla Khan a few months afterwards, ravaged the Carnatic plains, and forced the Madras Government to accept the terms of peace above alluded to.


Ali Raja’s territory did not however in the factors’ view, or in that of the native chiefs’, extend to the south of the Anjarakandi river, and accordingly, in December 1768, the factors shelled his people out of a bamboo fort which they had erected on Nittur point close to the Tellicherry limits on the opposite side of the Koduvalli river. And this fort was in due course made4 over to the Kottayam Raja, its rightful owner, and he in return finally waived his claim to some land on the Honourable Company’s Island of Darmapattanam, regarding which he had from time to time been troubling the factors ever since 17351.


NOTEs: 1. Treaties, etc., i. LXXXVIL.

2.Treaties, etc., i. XXVII, XXVIII. END OF NOTEs


At the conclusion of the peace with Hyder Ali in 1769, affairs in Malabar seem to have settled down into their usual quiescent state. In 1770 the factors were once more reinstated in full possession of the district of Randattara. And in the following year the Dutch, following out their policy of reducing the number of their fortified places, sold Fort St. Angelo at Cannanore to Ali Raja, and about this same time or a little earlier the equipments of their forts at Chetwai and Cranganore were materially reduced. Cochin fort too was in a ruinous state, and Governor Moons set to work to repair it.


While the Dutch were thus still further reducing2 their hold on the country, the English factors were busy, but in another way, in strengthening their position. On 12th March 1772 the factors began to levy a regular land revenue assessment. Private gardens were taxed at “25 per cent, of the produce,” rice lands belonging to the Honourable Company paid 40 percent, of the gross produce, and the factors were at a loss to know what to impose on other lands of that description. A reference to Bombay brought hack, on 24th April, an order that “the estates and verges3 not yet assessed must be taxed at 10 per cent, on account the Honourable Company.”


NOTEs: 2. Under the circumstances, it is not a little curious to know that even at so late a date as 1790, the Dutch at Cochin passed a formal resolution that the English factory at Anjenge should be destroyed.

3. Paddy flats.—Port. END OF NOTEs


The officer charged with collecting the revenue of Randattara was styled “Inspector of Randattara.”


Hyder Ali had meanwhile after suffering many reverses been forced by the Mahrattas to make a disadvantageous peace. In a short time, however, his treasury was again replenished at the expense of his subjects and his forces were reorganised : so that when dissensions broke out in the Mahratta camp consequent on the death of Madu Row in November 1772, Hyder was ready “for4 whatever event the page of fate should unfold ;” and in little more than six months, between September 1773 and February 1774, he managed to repossess himself of all the territories he had lost during the English and Mahratta wars.


NOTEs: 4. Wilks, I. 388. END OF NOTEs


Coorg fell to him in November 1773, and a force despatched under Said Sahib and Srinavas Row Berki pushed through Wynad and descended on Malabar about 27th December by a new and direct route via the Tamarasseri pass. The Malayali chiefs yielded without striking a blow, and Srinivas Row remained as Foujdar (or military governor) assisted by Sirdar Khan, while Said Sahib, returned to Seringapatam with the cavalry and other troops not required as a garrison.


About a year later (1775) Hyder Ali appears to have made up his mind that any idea of an alliance with the English was hopeless. The latter had agreed in the Treaty of 1769 to assist him against the Maharattas, but Muhammad Ali, the Nabob of the Carnatic, had by intrigues in England effectually prevented the fulfilment of that part of the treaty in order to carry out an ambitious scheme of his own.


Hyder Ali appears to have fathomed the Nabob’s designs, which, as a preliminary to still more ambitious schemes, required Hyder Ali’s own destruction, and he accordingly determined to break with the English. His relations with the Mahrattas, however, led him to temporise for a time. Meanwhile if he could possess himself of Travancore he would not only replenish his coffers, but would secure an advantageous position on his enemy’s flank for his contemplated invasion of the Carnatic.


In 1776 then he demanded of the Dutch at Cochin a free passage through their territories into Travancore. The Dutch still held possession of their fort at Cranganore, which effectually protected the western flank of the Travancore lines, and which was regarded on this account, and also because it commanded the great natural water communications between north and south, as the key of the country. Hyder’s demand to be allowed to pass was refused on the plea that a reference had to be made to Batavia ; but ten .years previously this very same request had been met by this very same reply.


Hyder Ali knowing that the Dutch had had ten years to consider his proposal, not unnaturally regarded the reply as evasive and threatened the Dutch with annihilation.

Sirdar Khan was accordingly set in motion at the head of about 10,000 men. He invaded in August 1776 the northern portion of Cochin and took the fort of Trichur. The Cochin Raja agreed to give a nazar of 4 lakhs of rupees and 4 elephants and to pay an annual tribute of Rs. 1,20,000 ; but the Travancore lines blocked a further advance southward of Sirdar Khan’s force and the Dutch were beginning to hope there would be no more trouble.


“The Dutch now congratulated themselves on the disappearance of the Mysoreans, but a letter soon arrived from Sirdar Khan in which he claimed the Chetwai territory on the plea that it had formed a portion of the Zamorin’s dominions wrested from him by the Dutch, who had promised to return it after a certain period. That time having elapsed, and Hyder being now by right of conquest the successor to the Zamorin, the Cochin council were requested to give up the lands, which they declined doing.


“On October 9th, Sirdar Khan crossed the Chetwai river near Poolicarra, a little to the north of the Dutch fort, and took possession of the customs-house, making a prisoner of the writer who was sent to him as the bearer of a message. The Mysore forces now divided into two bodies, one of which proceeded southwards towards Paponetty, from whence the Dutch Resident retired into the Cranganore fort, taking with him the company’s treasure.


"Sirdar Khan now threw up strong works at Paponetty and despatched a letter to the Governor of Cochin, stating that Hyder Ali considered that he had met with a premeditated insult from the Dutch Governor, who had given no decided reply to his letter. Still he wished to be friends, but a free passage for his troops towards Travancore was essential; and were such refused, it would be considered equivalent to a declaration of war.


“Governor Moens replied that he was glad to understand that the Mysoreans wished to be regarded as friends, and he should feel obliged by their evacuating the Dutch territory, and not allowing their people to approach the Cranganore fort. But before his reply could reach its destination, Sirdar Khan attempted to surprise this fort on October 11th, but failed. He then wrote another letter, stating that having taken the lands of Paponotty, he should feel obliged by the accounts of the last twenty years being forwarded. He also demanded the territory the Dutch Company had received from the Zamorin in 1758, as well as a nazar and a free passage towards Travancore.


“Without sufficient troops to hold their own by force, surrounded by native states outwardly friendly but secretly hostile, attacked by the Mysoreans, and awaiting instructions from Batavia, Moens’ position was a very difficult one.


"A common danger, it was true, bound the Cochin and Travancore States to the Dutch, but it was feared that they did not possess sufficient forces to afford any effectual barrier against the advance of the Mysore troops. Still Moens considered it advisable to sound the dispositions of the two Rajas, so wrote and informed them that he was ready to commence offensive operations against the Mysoreans, but he first required a categorical answer as to how far he could depend upon their support ; he also proposed a plan on which all would have to act in concert against the common enemy. The Raja of Travancore replied that he had entered into an alliance with the Nabob of Areot and the British, in which it had been stipulated that he was only to act on the defensive, and not to be the aggressor, otherwise he would receive no aid : so he regretted being unable to join the Dutch, except for defensive measures. Should the Mysoreans advance on his territory, British and Arcot troops were promised for his assistance.


“Urgent requests were despatched to Ceylon for more troops as there were only 200 effective soldiers present and the safety of Cochin itself was now endangered, for it was ascertained that a fleet, consisting of one three-mast ship, six two-mast grabs, and twenty well-armed gallivats, were preparing at Calicut to take troops by sea past Cranganore to the island of Vypeen. It was suspected that the Ayacotta fort would be first attacked, and should it fall, that Cranganore would be besieged from the south, whilst Sirdar Khan invested it from the north.


"An armed sloop was placed at the entrance of the Cranganore river, and two armed merchant ships further out to sea to cover the coast. The Raja of Travancore and Cochin improved the lines, which commenced from the rear of the Ayacotta fort and were carried along the southern bank of the river towards the ghauts. The Cranganore and Ayacotta forts were strengthened, the first and most important by having a retrenchment thrown up under its guns, and the latter by being repaired.


“Some Travancore sepoys were now sent to Ayacotta, which the Mysore troops prepared to attack ; but unwilling to come to blows, the Travancoreans retired to their own country. Fortunately at this critical time a Dutch detachment arrived by sea, and consequently the Mysoreans retreated. A strictly defensive policy was now decided upon, for fear of giving offence to the British and the Nabob of Arcot, but in November, as a further reinforcement had arrived, the Dutch considered themselves strong enough to become the aggressors.


“The Muhammadans had invested Chetwai, the garrison of which place sent a message to Cochin, representing that they could not hold it much longer, so Governor Moens now determined to attempt its relief. Provisions and ammunitions having been packed in casks, 189 men embarked in the ship Hoolwerf, having some small boats in tow for the purpose of landing the men and stores. On the same afternoon, November 11th, they arrived before Chetwai, but the surf being high, the wary Muhammadans had the satisfaction of perceiving that they delayed landing until the next day. A chosen band of Sirdar Khan’s troops was told off, and in the dead of the night placed in ambuscade close to the beach where the landing was most likely to be effected, and in silence awaited the disembarkation of their prey.


“The morning dawned, and the Dutch having examined the shore, could see no vestige of an enemy, all appeared perfectly quiet, and they congratulated themselves on surprising Hyder's troops. The landing commenced, the first boat upset, but the troops waded to the beach with their loaded muskets wet, and their ammunition of course spoilt. Suddenly the ambuscade rushed out, and finding advance impossible, the Dutch retreated in good order to the beach ; but their boats were gone, and the terrified native boatmen were pulling quickly away from the scene of strife. Some of the detachment were killed, and the remainder obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war.


"The Europeans were disheartened and abandoned the attempted relief whilst the Muhammadans were greatly elated and the fort of Chetwai was compelled to capitulate on the 13th, one condition being that the garrison should be permitted to retreat to Cranganore, a promise which was of course broken.


"The prisoners were plundered of everything, even to their very clothes, and with the women, children and slaves, were sent to Calicut. From thence the military were despatched loaded with chains to Seringapatam, where all took service with Hyder, excepting the Commandant of Chetwai and the Resident.


“The whole of the island including Chetwai, Ayroor or Paponetty, and the territory of the Raja of Cranganore (excepting the Dutch fort), all of which were tributary to the Dutch, now succumbed to Hyder’s general ; but he found his further advance impeded by the Travancore lines. The Cochin council now decided upon still further strengthening the Cranganore fort and on not again breaking up their troops into detachments.


“On January 9th, 1777, the answer to Hyder’s letter arrived from Batavia, and with it the customary presents, which with an apologetic letter from the Governor of Cochin, were forwarded to Hyder’s camp. On February 25th the Commandant and Resident of the Chetwai fort arrived in Cochin from Seringapatam and informed Governor Moens from Hyder that most of the prisoners, including the women and slaves, were set at liberty (some soldiers were induced to remain in Hyder’s service) and that they were commissioned by Hyder to say that he was still anxious to enter into a treaty of friendship with the company, upon which subject he would shortly write. Hyder’s letter disowned Sirdar Khan’s proceedings, and stated that he had only despatched him into the sandy1 country to inquire after some of the Zamorin’s lands ; that he had no unfriendly feeling towards the Dutch, and whilst returning the prisoners trusted all matters of dispute between them would be rapidly and amicably settled.


NOTEs: Chetwai Island is some times called Manapuram, i,e., sandy place from the nature of the soil. END OF NOTEs


“Hyder Ali in a secret correspondence became very pressing to carry into effect his former propositions for entering into an alliance with the Dutch. He now reduced his requirements to 400 European infantry and 100 artillery men. Governor Moens evaded this application without declining it, and held out hopes which were never carried into effect. He foresaw that neutrality with the English and Travancore must cease should he join Hyder. The Dutch council also wished to prevent the Travancore Raja, who was becoming alarmed at Hyder’s increasing power, from forming too intimate relationship with the British, so they tried to induce him to believe that from Hyder he had nothing to fear.

*******

“On January 8th, 1778, the Dutch planned an expedition to recover their lost ground. They stormed and took the Cranganore Raja’s palace, which had a garrison of 300 men, and pursued the enemy to Paponetty. The succeeding day the Dutch forces reached Bellapattoo, and on the evening of the third day arrived before Chetwai, At once the guns began to play upon the fort, and continued all that night and throughout the next day. On the third day they unsuccessfully attempted to storm ; the attack was continued seven days, but the enemy commencing to assemble in force on the opposite side of the river, the Dutch were obliged to retreat to Cranganore on January 19th with the loss of some guns. On the morning of March 3rd the Mysoreans attacked the Cranganore palace with 3,000 men on foot, 150 horse and 4 guns. After ten hours’ fighting the Dutch retired to the Cranganore fort with the loss of 6 men.


“In March the Dewan of Travancore came to Cochin to have an interview with Governor Moens, who pointed out to him the necessity of preventing Cranganore from falling into the hands of Hyder, and urged that it was to the interest of the Travancoreans to join the Dutch as they were running a risk of losing their country, whilst the Dutch could only lose a little strip of territory, which Moens hinted might even be avoided should he join the Mysoroans.


“About this time Hyder, who was now most indignant with the Dutch, was obliged to go to war with the English and the Nabob of Arcot. On his way he found time to plunder the Dutch store-house at Porto Novo and make a prisoner of the Resident.”

* * *

“In 1783 the Raja of Chetwai was peaceably reinstated in his dominions by the Dutch when they retook the place from Tippu’s forces ; but in the following year orders arrived from Batavia to return this territory to Tippu, Hyder having died in December 1782.” — Day's Land of the Permauls, pages 149 to 155.



Meanwhile in North Malabar, in consequence of Ali Raja’s failure to pay the stipulated tribute, the Prince Regent of Chirakkal (Kolattunad) had been restored to his dominions and a Mysorean officer had been sent to administer the revenue. On 25th April 1775 the Prince Regent, backed by the Mysoreans, forced the Kurangoth Nayar, backed by the French of Mahe, to come to terms, and on 5th May the French paid Rs. 80,000 and procured the withdrawal of the enemy.

In June the Prince Regent proceeded into Kottayam to reduce various forts : all guns taken were sent to Hyder Ali. The Prince Regent however during all this time continued to supply the Tellicherry factory with pepper, and thereby the factors incurred the jealousy of the French Settlement at Mahe. M. Law de Lauriston wrote to Warren Hastings, complaining of the entire ruin of French trade on the coast through the factors “new treaties” with the Prince Regent “for all the pepper and other productions of the country.”


Notwithstanding this aid, however, in their mercantile pursuits, the Tellicherry factory had not for some years past been a paying investment. On 8th January 1776 advices were received by the Gatton that what had been impending for some years had at last been ordered to be carried out. The factory was to be reduced to a residency and the troops removed. At this juncture the principal inhabitants of all classes came forward voluntarily and presented a petition, “representing the deplorable situation they will be reduced to in case the Honourable Company withdraw their protection from them, and as they learn that the great expense of this settlement is the cause of the Honourable Company’s resolution to withdraw their troops, they have agreed to raise a sum sufficient, with the present revenues, to maintain a force for their protection by a tax on their oarts1 and houses as specified at the foot of their petition.


NOTEs: 1. Port. Horta = garden. END OF NOTEs


The officer commanding estimated that the force required would cost Rs. 60,000 per annum, and the new tax and other revenues were estimated likewise to produce that sum.


The petition was accordingly sent to Bombay for orders, and the factors pointed out that, unless the settlement was kept up on a more respectable footing than a residency, it would be impossible to provide for the annual investment in pepper and cardamoms, except at exorbitant rates.


It remained as a residency—-with an establishment of a Resident, and one or sometimes two factors — until 27th January 1784, on which date the chiefship was re-established, and it continued on this footing down to 1794, when the factory was finally abolished. On March 13th, 1778, the French recognised the declaration of American independence and thus brought on another war with England.


The news reached Tellicherry via Anjengo on the 20th July, shortly after a French reinforcement for Hyder Ali had been passed on to him through Mahe.


Mahe was at this time of more importance to Hyder Ali than even Pondicherry itself, for it was through that port that he received his guns and ammunition and French reinforcements. He was busy wresting from the Mahrattas the territory lying between the Tumbadra and the Kistna rivers, when the English laid siege to Pondicherry on August 8th, 1778, and he failed to make a diversion in their favour. Pondicherry fell on 18th October. The news reached Tellicherry on 3rd November, and shortly after that date the factors heard that it was in contemplation to reduce Mahe also. But the reduction of Mahe would have cut off Hyder Ali from his base of supplies, so, although not yet prepared finally to break with the English, he appears directly Pondicherry fell to have sent orders, which resulted in the Prince Regent of Kolattunad joining the French at Mahe with 1,500 of his Nayars. Besides which 200 of Hyder Ali’s own sepoys were thrown into the place ; and orders were sent to Kadattanad to reinforce Mahe with 2,000 more men, and Kolattunad was to send a like further number.


Kadattanad, however, inclined to the English alliance, and so did the Zamorin and Kottayam. The factors at Tellicherry took every possible means to secure these allies, and as the event turned out, the Kolattunad Prince was the only chief who remained faithful to Hyder Ali’s interest until after Mahe had fallen.


On January 3rd, 1779, the siege stores for Mahe came in from Bombay. On February 6th the Kolattunad force1 in defence of Mahe was reinforced by 2,000 men from Coorg. On February 21st the first division of Colonel Brathwaite's expeditionary force, 800 sepoys under Captain Walker, reached Tellicherry. On February 24th there arrived another battalion under Captain Fraser. On March 2nd there came the Terrible bomb ketch Asia, man-of-war, and on March 12th H.M.’s ships Sea Horse and Coventry, with the Resolution in convoy, carrying Colonel Brathwaite and a European battalion.


NOTEs: 1,000 men and 2 guns. END OF NOTEs


At 4 p.m. on that day the colonel landed under a salute of 15 guns, and at 5 p.m. the first gun was fired by the French at the British advanced posts. On March 15th the Royal Charlotte brought Major Clifton and three companion of artillery. And the force being now complete, Colonel Brathwaite, on the 16th March at 3 p.m., summoned M. Picot to surrender the place. Lieutenants Bate and Williams, his messengers, returned with M. Picot’s refusal at 8 p.m. on the same day.


But meanwhile the Prince of Kolattunad had, on February 27th, thrown a cordon round Tellicherry and stopped the import of provisions. The factors, however, effectually replied to this move by supplying Kottayam with military stores and despatching him on March 11th to recover his country. The Prince Regent thus found himself with Kottayam and the British actively hostile on his rear and right flank, and Kadattanad and the Iruvalinad Nambiars passively hostile on his left flank, and it became at once apparent that he was helpless to assist the French unless they could feed him and his men.


The position was hopeless for the French, so on the 19th March, at 7 a.m., proposals of capitulation were received from M. Picot. Brathwaite’s reply was accepted1 the same day, and at 4 p.m. the British colours were hoisted on “Currachee redoubt”.


NOTEs: Treaties, etc., i. LXXXIX. END OF NOTEs


Chimbrah and Fort St. George were handed over next morning under a salute of 21 guns, and the British colours were flying in Mahe itself at 6 p.m. on the evening of the 20th. The garrison marched out with the honours of war, but all arms, stores, etc., were surrendered, and the forts, etc., were placed at the disposal of the Honourable Company.


The Prince Regent of Kolattunad effected his retreat from Mahe through Nittur after suffering defeat from Kottayam and sustaining considerable loss, and both Kottayam and the Zamorin for a time recovered most of their dominions from Hyder Ali’s troops.

The Company was, however, still nominally at peace with the latter, and no overt encouragement, beyond the grant of supplies of arms, etc., was held out to the country powers, though the circumstances might have justified the adoption of active measures, for Mr. Wm. Freeman, the Company’s Resident Factor at Calicut, had, by order of the Governor, been obliged, on March 18th, summarily to leave that place, and the Company’s goods and some of their employees had been left behind by him at the mercy of Hyder Ali’s people there.


The Mysorean provincial troops had consequently no difficulty in putting down the rising in the south, and the Kolattunad Prince, after, joining Bulwant Row, returned to the Kottayam country, dispersed the Kottayam force, and then proceeded to Kadattanad, where the Senior Raja, who had sided with the English, was deposed in favour of a young prince.


The effect of these measures was soon apparent, at Mahe and Tellicherry. On June 24th young Kadattanad’s force closed in on Mahe and began erecting fortifications. On August 20th a washer-man belonging to Brathwaite’s force camped at Mahe was carried off. Restitution was demanded, and in a collision which occurred in consequence eight of the Kadattanad Nayars were slain.


Hyder Ali approved of young Kadattanad’s conduct, and the latter beheaded the unfortunate dhobi in the presence of a peon of Brathwaite’s, who had gone with a message, and of a horsekeeper who had also been entrapped. The two latter, with their hands cut off, were permitted to return to Mahe.


It soon became apparent in short that Hyder Ali, by means of the Malabar chiefs in his interest, meant to become actively hostile. The country powers intercepted letters and stopped the supply of provisions, and in October still more active measures were undertaken by them—first against the British outpost at Mount Deli in the beginning of that month, and towards the end of it the British district of Randattara was overrun by the Kolattunad Prince with his force.


The Mappillas of this latter district undertook to assist the British to maintain their hold of the province, but when it came to the push their hearts failed them. A small force sent out to assist the Randattara Achanmars was obliged to retreat before overwhelming numbers to Darmapattanam Island. On October 24th the factors recorded their opinion that Hyder Ali intended to break with the Honourable Company, and that the native chiefs were acting under secret orders from him.


On October 31st young Kadattanad attacked the British outpost at “Moicara” and seized it and Andolla and Tira Malas, and as the factory was now attacked on all sides, the factors sent a requisition to Colonel Brathwaite to come to Tellicherry to assist in its defence.


On November 1st, 1779, the factory diary thus runs : “As the enemy seem to be gaining ground—resolved that agreeable to the Company’s orders, we deliver the keys of the fort to the Military Commanding Officer, who is to take all possible means for the security of the fort and districts.”


From this date till January 8th, 1782, the town was in a state of close siege on the landward side, and the keys were only returned to the Resident on the 24th of this latter month.

Colonel Brathwaite accordingly evacuated Mahe and brought his Madras troops to assist in the defence of Tellicherry. Part of the British Island of Darmapattanam was seized by the enemy so early as November 3rd, but the rest of it was held till July 18th, 1780, two days prior to the date on which Hyder Ali finally threw off the mask and descended on the Nabob of Arcot’s territory with his array of 99,000 men in pursuance of his plan with the Mahrattas of annihilating the English power. And it was on that very day, July 20th, 1780, that the factors were at last authentically apprised by a deserter that Hyder Ali was at war with the Company. The only remaining outpost at Mount Deli was evacuated in November 1780.


Prior to these events the state of siege was maintained ostensibly by the Kolattunad and Kadattanad Princes ; for Kottayam was throughout the siege firmly attached to the Honourable Company’s interests, and helped materially, with a body of from 1,000 to 1,300 of his Nayars, to enable them to hold the town successfully. The post was not a strong one, although it was protected on three sides by the sea and the river with redoubts1 on all positions of importance, but there was cover available for the enemy up to within 200 yards of the main fort itself if they had once broken through the “extensive2, but indefensible” outer line of defence.


NOTEs: 1.“Cuchicundy”, Koduvalli, Pallikkunnu, Morakkunnu, Chirakkalkandi, Tiruvengad temple and Mailan were the principal outworks.

2. Wilks’ "Historical Sketches”, II. 1 END OF NOTEs


Into this small and insufficiently protected area flocked every one who had property to lose. Hyder Ali’s “Buxy” (Bakshi — paymaster) at Mahe, in a letter of May 29th, 1780, to the Resident put the matter very forcibly thus : “I know perfectly well that you have been guilty of giving an asylum to people that ought to pay to the Nabob lacks and lacks of rupees, and given assistance to the vassals of the Nabob. You also keep in your protection thieves, who ought to pay lacks and lacks of rupees.”


Hyder Ali himself, too, in a letter to the Resident received on February 4th, 1780, complained of the protection afforded to the Nayars and their families and of the assistance given to them in arms, etc., in order to create disturbances, whereby “my country of 20 lacks of rupees revenue is entirely ruined, and I cannot get the same increased.”


This security of property and perfect trust in the Company’s officers probably did more than anything else to bring the siege to a successful issue, for there was no other spot on the coast, not excepting the Dutch settlement at Cochin, where such perfect security to person and property could be found. The persons who flocked into Tellicherry from all the country round accordingly fought and watched with the courage and vigilance of despair, and every effort of the enemy to break through the slender line of scattered outworks was defeated.


On December 6th, 1779, Sirdar Khan, accompanied by some European officers, minutely reconnoitred all the posts, and on January 17th, 1780, the factors reported to the Governor-General (Warren Hastings) that Sirdar Khan was expected shortly with a large force from Seringapatam.


On February 17th, 1780, the news arrived that he had reached Tamarasseri and wished to treat with Kottayam, the Honourable Company’s only native ally at this time, for the restoration3 to him of his country below the ghats. The negotiation took place: a demand was made for five lakhs of rupees, of which two lakhs were to be paid at once. Kottayam could raise but one lakh ; an application to the factors for the loan of another lakh was of course refused, although it would have gone hardly with the besieged had the Kottayam Nayars been withdrawn.


NOTEs: 3. It appears that Kottayam had previously received from Hyder Ali a “Phirmaund for Vaenatoo” (Wainad). END OF NOTEs


Eventually Kottayam paid Rs. 60,000 to Sirdar Khan, but this was not enough to satisfy the latter, and his request to be restored to his dominions was accordingly refused. The result of these negotiations was to attach Kottayam more strongly than before to the Company’s interests.


On December 23rd, 1779, Brathwaite was relieved of the command of the town by Major John Cotgrave, another Madras officer. On July 8th, 1780, Sirdar Khan appeared at Mahe with a large force, which three days later he began to pass across the river, and on the morning of the 12th the force reached “Mellure.” This led to the evacuation of Darmapattanam Island and to the concentration of the Honourable Company’s force within the lines of Tellicherry. Sirdar Khan refused to assign any reasons for his action; but it was no longer doubtful that Hyder Ali had finally broken with the Company.


As soon as the state of the season permitted, Sirdar Khan commenced operations by sea as well as by land, and on October 1st, 1780, the factors reported that they were “blocked by sea by a ketch and a great number of armed manchuas and toneys.”


But this did not last long, for on October 6th came the “Drake,” and "Eagle” cruizers, which disabled the enemy’s ketch and drove away the smaller vessels into the creeks and rivers, where, however, they lay ready for future operations.


When the news of Bailey’s defeat by Hyder Ali arrived on November 1st, matters assumed a very serious aspect, as it was supposed the Madras troops under Major Cotgrave would be withdrawn, and the evacuation of two redoubts called Whippey’s and Connor’s created shortly after this quite a panic in the town. But a day or two later (November 27th) matters began to look brighter when Sir Edward Hughes with H.M.’s ships Superb, Exeter, Eagle, Worcester, and Burford and others in convoy put into the roads.


Just about this time the Mahratta Angriah, in command of Hyder Ali’s fleet, consisting of two ships, two snows, six ketches, and two gallivats, sailed south as far as Cannanore to attack the ships in the Tellicherry roadstead, but he did not like the aspect of the shipping when he arrived there and wisely retreated.


Directly, however, Sir Edward Hughes sailed north to Bombay, the enemy’s fleet again began to give trouble, and to remedy this Captain LcMesurier of the Ponsbornc was appointed Cammodore of the Tellicherry roads.


In March and April 1781 the enemy’s exertions were redoubled, but the garrison reinforced by two 12-pounder guns and 60 marines from the ships successfully repelled the attacks. The following singular account of one of the modes of attack adopted by Sirdar Khan is given by Wilks1 on the authority of Sir Barry Close, “one of the besieged” :—


“Sirdar Khan had no acquaintance with the European science of attack and defence, but, after failing in several assaults which were repelled by the bravery of the defenders, and finding every ordinary battery opposed by corresponding and more skilful defensive means, or destroyed by sorties, adopted a species of offensive work, which from its height should enable him to see and counteract the designs of the besieged, and from its construction be exempt from the dangers of assault. An immense extent of base served as the foundation for several successive storeys, constructed of the trunks of trees in successive layers, crossing each other and compacted by earth rammed between the intervals ; the contrivances in the rear for raising the guns were removed when the erection was complete, and enormous inaccessible towers rearing up their summits by the successive addition of another storey as the besieged covered themselves from the proceeding, exhibited a system of attack too curious to be dismissed in silence, but too imperfectly impressed by distant recollection to be well described.”


NOTEs: 1. Wilks’ “Historical Sketches, etc.," II. 2. END OF NOTEs


Shortly after this, on May 7th, Sir Edward Hughes’ squadron again came into the roads with troops and stores and Major Aldington as “Major Commandant” in succession to Major Cotgrave, who with the Madras troops sailed with the fleet on May 16th.


On May 17th and 18th ineffectual attempts were made by the enemy to set fire to the Sea Horse in the roadstead, nor were their efforts by land more successful.


On August 6th, however, they opened a fresh battery of 5 guns against Morakkunnu, a redoubt by the river side, and in consequence of the incessant firing kept up in reply, the gunpowder supply of the garrison began to run short and became “very alarming.” An urgent requisition was sent to Anjengo, and Mr. Firth, one of the factors, proceeded by sea to Cochin to endeavour to get a supply from the Dutch. A day or two after he had gone (August 27th), the news arrived that England was at war with the Dutch. Mr. Firth was accordingly detained as a prisoner of war at Cochin, and the money and other things that he carried with him were seized.


As the British fire slackened, the enemy came closer to the lines, and in spite of the news of Sir Eyre Coote’s victories on the East Coast in July and August, the enemy were no whit less assiduous in the siege. On October 11th they had, Major Abington reported, mined “under and even within our lines.” But on that day also arrived the first instalment of the long looked for supply of gunpowder and hand grenades from Anjengo, and the anxiety so long felt was removed.


On November 22nd Mr. Firth was released at Cochin in exchange for a Dutchman, a relative of the Dutch Governor Van Angelbeck. With the beginning of December 1781 came the news from the East Coast of the retaking of Arcot and of Hyder Ali being in “a very perilous situation at a place called Convy”.


And by this time the Bombay authorities had matured their plans for relieving the settlement. Accordingly, on December 18th, the Resident and Major Abington had a consultation and agreed on a plan of operations to be put in force directly the expected reinforcements arrived.


The plan appears to have been much the same as that already long before proposed by the Kottayam Raja in December 1780, and then warmly approved by Major Cotgrave. Kottayam was to advance from the fastnesses of the ghats in rear of the enemy opposing the Morakkunnu redoubt. The garrison were to join hands with him there and thus cut the besieging army in half and afterwards vanquish it in detail.


Besides this, the cruisers were to be stationed to the south of Mahe to prevent a retreat of Sirdar Khan’s force by sea. The cruisers protecting the roadstead at this time were the Morning Star and the Drake, and as a preliminary to the further operations, they, on 21st December, set upon Hyder Ali’s gallivats, took one of them, and drove the remainder in a very shattered condition into the Valarpattanam river. On the same day the enemy sprung two mines at Fort Mailan, but without doing any damage, and that post was made stronger than ever. On December 28th, the Travancore and Zamorin Rajas were addressed to assist in crushing Hyder Ali’s force on the coast as soon as the Tellicherry siege was raised. It was necessary to maintain the strictest secrecy in regard to the intended movements, and hence the addresses to these Rajas were not sent sooner.


On December 30th, 1781, the expected reinforcements arrived from Bombay, consisting of the 2nd and 8th battalions of sepoys and 40 artillery men with four 6-pounders, besides lascars.


With this force, and as many of the troops in garrison as could be spared, Major Abington left his trenches at 5 A.M. on Monday, 8th January 1782, and “stormed and carried the enemy’s batteries, took their cannon, ammunition, etc., and a number of prisoners, etc.” And the further results were thus described by him in a note addressed to Mr. Freeman, the Resident, written from “Guerechee” at 11 o’clock: -


“Sir, I congratulate you on our success, and I believe our whole loss does not exceed 30 killed and wounded. We are in possession of Guerechee, Putney, Bench Hill and I hope by this time of everything under Moylan, all the guns and 2 brass field-pieces. Scirdar Caun is now setting with me, and all his family; he is wounded and seems very ill; the Buckshee of the irregulars is killed, and they have suffered very considerably. Poor Woodington is the only officer wounded. Yours very sincerely —William Abington.”


Fort St. George at Mahe surrendered at 9½P.M. on the 8th, and Mahe at 5A.M next morning. The left attack being thus annihilated, the remainder of the besieging army on the point of Nittur and on Darmapattanam Island evacuated their positions on the 9th.


The keys of the fort were re-delivered to the Resident on January 24th. The Nayars rose all over the country, and Major Abington pushing on southwards took Calicut on February 13th, and by the 20th of that month "Palicatcherry" was reported to be the only place of importance, though this fact is doubtful, remaining in Hyder Ali’s hands in South Malabar.

“Sirdar Caun departed this life at 9 o’clock this morning” (February 26th).


Hyder’s affairs at this time were in a very unprosperous state — Sirdar Khan’s army destroyed at Tellicherry ; disappointed and, as he thought, deceived by the French, foiled in every battle by Sir Eyre Coote. Rebellions in Malabar, in Coorg and in Bullum, and finally threatened by a Mahratta invasion from the north, “he determined1 to concentrate his force, to abandon his scheme of conquest in Coromandel, and to direct his undivided efforts first, for the expulsion of the English from the Western Coast, and afterwards for the preservation of his dominions, and for watching the course of events.”


He had to reduce his army in the Carnatic considerably in order to despatch the three expeditions required to put down the rebels. Mukhdum Ali was sent to Malabar, Woffadar (a Chela) to Coorg, and Shaikh Ayaz (Hyat Sahib,2 another and more remarkable Chela) was ordered from Bednur (of which he was appointed governor) against Bullum.


NOTEs: 2. The story of this man is remarkable. Wilks gives the following account of him : —

Among the prisoners carried off in the first inhuman emigration from Malabar, was a young Nair, from Chereul, who had been received as a slave of the populace, and to whom, on his forced conversion to Islam, they had given the name of Shaikh Ayaz.* The noble port, ingenuous manners, and singular beauty of the boy attracted general attention ; and when at a more mature age he was led into the field, his ardent valour and uncommon intelligence recommended him to the particular favour of Hyder, who was an enthusiast in his praise, and would frequently speak to him, under the designation of “his right hand in the hour of danger.” . . . .In the conversation of Muhammadan chiefs, a slave of the house, far from being a term of degradation or reproach, uniformly conveys the impression of an affectionate and trustworthy humble friend, and such was Ayaz in the estimation of Hyder.


To the endowments which have been stated, incessant and confidential military service had superadded experience beyond his years ; and Hyder selected him for the important trust of civil and military governor of the fort and territory of Chittledroog. But modest as he was, faithful and brave, Ayaz wished to decline the distinction, as one to which he felt himself incompetent ; and particularly objected, that he could neither read nor write, and was consequently incapable of a civil charge.


“Keep a corlat at your right hand ” said Hyder, “ and that will do you better service than pen and ink,” then assuming a graver countenance, “place reliance ” added he, “on your excellent understanding ! act for yourself alone ! fear nothing from the calumnies of the scribblers ! but trust in me as I trust in you ! Reading and writing!! how have I risen to empire without the knowledge of either?”


In addition to this Hyder Ali was in the habit of publicly drawing very invidious comparisons between his son Tippu and his favourite Shaikh Ayaz. Reprimanding the former on one occasion for attempting secretly to embezzle some plunder, he called him “a thief and a blockhead” ; observing that he had not the common sense to perceive that he was stealing from himself : for “unhappily,” said he, “ you will be my successor; would that I had begotten Ayaz instead of you !”


Directly therefore Tippu assumed the reins of Government on the death of Hyder Ali, he despatched secret instructions to the second in command at Bodnur to put Ayaz to death and assume the government.


What follows is thus narrated by Wilks :—“ Whatever may have been the ultimate intentions of Ayaz at this period, it is certain that apprehensions of treachery were mixed with all his deliberations : he had taken the precaution of ordering that no letter of any description from the eastward should be delivered without previous examination ; and being entirely illiterate, this scrutiny always took place with no other person present than the reader and himself, either in a private chamber, or if abroad, retired from hearing and observation, in the woods.


"On the day preceding that on which the ghauts were attacked, and while Ayaz was occupied near Hyderghur, in giving directions regarding their defence, the fatal letter arrived and was inspected with the usual precautions ; the Brahman who read it, and to whom the letter was addressed as second in command, stands absolved from all suspicion of prior design by the very act of reading its contents ; but in the perilous condition of Ayaz he durst not confide in a secrecy at best precarious, even for a day ; without a moment’s hesitation, he put the unfortunate Brahman to death to prevent discovery ; put the letter in his pocket, and returning to his attendants instantly mounted, and without leaving any orders, went off at speed to the citadel to make the arrangements for surrender which have been related, it may well be presumed that this horrible scene could not have been enacted without some intimation reaching the ears of the attendants, and the very act of abandoning the scene of danger contrary to his usual habits, spread abroad among the troops those rumours of undefined treachery which abundantly account for their dispersion and dismay.”


He accordingly surrendered to General Matthews the fort and country of Bednur, of which he was the governor, on the condition that he was “to remain under the English as he was under the Nabob (Hyder Ali).”


Of the unhappy results of General Matthews’ expedition it is unnecessary to say anything. Shaikh Ayaz fled precipitately from Bednur on hearing of the approach of Tippu with the whole of his army, leaving General Matthews and his army to its fate, and his flight was so sudden that he lost the small remains of property belonging to him. He appears to have fled to the protection of the Company’s settlement at Tellicherry, and there “on the 7th of the month Kany,” in the year 1783, he obtained under pretence of using his influence with the English to procure for his quondam sovereign, the reigning Kolattiri Prince, the restoration of his country, a grant for his family of three taras or villages in the Chirakkal taluk ( Treaties , etc., i. XCI.).


The grant was subsequently pronounced invalid as having been obtained by fraud. Tippu tried in vain to persuade the English to give up his enemy Ayaz under one of the conditions of the treaty of peace executed in 1784, which provided for a restitution of prisoners captured. Ayaz eventually retired to Mazagon in Bombay in enjoyment of a money allowance granted to him by the Supreme Government. It would appear that he was originally a Nambiar by caste belonging to the Valia Putiya house in Chirakkal. END OF NOTEs


* The same person afterwards Governor of Bednur at the accession of Tippu, and called in most English accounts Hyat Saheb.

t. A long whip of cotton rope, about an inch and a half in diameter at the thick end, where it is grasped, and tapering to a point at the other extremity ; this severe instrument of personal punishment is about 9 feet long; and Hyder was constantly attended by a considerable number of persons too constantly practised in its use.


Shortly after Major Abington had, on 13th February 1782, taken Calicut, there arrived at that place from Bombay, under the command of Colonel Humberstone, a portion of the force despatched from England under General Medows and Commodore Johnson. Col. Humberstone’s force consisted of about 1,000 men, and it appears that the original plan was for General Medows’ whole force to co-operate with Sir Edward Hughes’ squadron in an operation against the Dutch settlements in Ceylon. But it was diverted from this object through instructions received from Mr. Sullivan, the British Resident at Tanjore, and Colonel Humberstone accordingly proceeded to make a diversion against Hyder Ali by advancing from Calicut against the approaching army of Mukhdum Ali.


The following is Colonel Walk's narrative1 of the events which followed : —

“The naval and military officers commanding this portion of the armament having received the communication from Mr. Sullivan, which has been described, and deeming the attempt to reach the opposite coast, while the French were understood to have the superiority at sea, as a precarious undertaking, determined that the troops should be landed at Calicut in aid of the proposed diversion, and that the ships should return to Bombay in furtherance of the same design. Colonel Humberstone, as senior officer, assumed also the command of the troops which had hitherto served under Major Abington, and being joined by a body of Nayars anxious to emerge from a long and cruel subjugation, he moved about twenty miles to the southward (of Calicut) and close to Tricalore,2 came in contact with Hyder’s detachment under Mukhdum Ali, already adverted to.


NOTEs: 1. Wilks’ “Historical Sketches," II. 28.

2. On 8th April 1782.—(Tellicherry Factory Diary, 13th and 15th April 1782.) The place appears to be identical with Tirurangadi in Ernad taluk. END OF NOTEs


“That officer, confident in superior numbers, estimated at 7,000, waited the result of an action in a strong but most injudicious position, with a deep and difficult river in the rear of his right ; from this position he was dislodged, and the retreat of the left being interrupted by a judicious movement of the English troops, a large portion of the Mysorean right was driven into the river with a loss, in killed alone, estimated by Colonel Humberstone at between three and four hundred men, and among that number Mukhdum Ali, their commander ; 200 prisoners and 150 horses were secured, and the total loss in killed, wounded and prisoners may thus be estimated at from 1,000 to 2,000 men, while that of the English was inconsiderable.


“Colonel Humberstone followed the route of the fugitives as far as Audicota. but finding pursuit unavailing, he resumed his plan of proceeding to the attack of Palghaut cherry by the river Paniani, which passing near to that fort discharges itself into the sea at a town of the same name with the river, distant about sixty miles, and is navigable for boats to distances fluctuating with the season, but sometimes for thirty miles. While moving southward for that purpose and waiting the arrival of the boats which conveyed his stores, a violent gale of wind, attended with five days’ incessant rain, dispersed the boats, spoiled the provisions, and damaged the ammunition ; and the soldiers, from exposure to the inclemency of the season, becoming sickly, he was induced, as soon as the violence of the weather would allow, to march his troops to the towns of Tanoor and Paniani.


During these events, the Mysoreans rallied at Ramgerry,3 a place situated about half way from the coast to Palghaut cherry, whence detachments of cavalry were advanced for the usual purpose of annoyance. Colonel Humberstone being himself seriously indisposed, directed Major Campbell, in an interval of fair weather to advance towards the enemy, who again awaited the attack in an injudicious position and were defeated with the loss of two guns.


Experience of the nature of the season already commenced compelled Colonel Humberstone to seek for better cover to shelter his troops during the monsoon, and he availed himself of the first favourable interval to return to Calicut after a short course of operations highly creditable to his energies as an executive military officer, but founded on views neither sufficiently matured nor combined by the Governments, who were to supply the means necessary to the execution of the service and finally undertaken at an improper season.


NOTEs: 3. On the cross road between Pattambi and Cherupullasseri. END OF NOTEs


“In contemplating the policy of such diversion, the Government of Bombay were wisely of opinion that no middle course was expedient between measures purely defensive on that coast, and an armament capable not only of penetrating into the interior but maintaining its communications. Previously to the departure of Colonel Humberstone from Bombay, the Government had distinctly objected to a project which he had suggested for employing the troops under his command in the reduction of Mangalore or Cochin, and urged his proceeding to Madras where the reinforcement was expected.


The operations which have been described are therefore to be viewed as resulting from a coincidence of circumstances, and not the effect of digested measures, for we shall hereafter have occasion to see that the combinations which might have rendered them safe and efficient were never practically adopted.


“On receiving intelligence, however, of his landing at Calicut and sending back the ships, although the Government of Bombay state this determination to have ‘disconcerted their measures,’ ‘they nevertheless resolved to take the proper means to assist him’ ; afterwards however expressing their regret that ‘while General Coote is in want of every European we can collect, as appears by the Madras letter received on the 13th ultimo, the force under Colonel Humberstone should be shut up at Calicut in the utmost distress for many necessary articles ; in no situation to render any service to the public ; and out of the reach of support or supply from hence at this season of the year.’


“Sir Eyre Coote, however, judiciously converting his own disappointment with regard to this reinforcement into the means of effecting a secure diversion, placed Colonel Humberstone under the orders of the Government of Bombay, recommending to them such a concentrated and powerful attack on Hyder’s western possessions, as should have the effect of compelling him to return for their defence and thus leave his French allies in Coromandel to their own separate resources.


"Before, however, these measures could be matured, or the season could admit of conveying to Colonel Humberstone the requisite orders for his guidance, that officer was again in motion for the prosecution of his original design. The river Paniani afforded conveyance for his stores as far as the post of Tirtalla, thirty miles inland, and he soon afterwards obtained possession of Ramgerry, a place of some capability, five miles further up the river.


“Fortunately the extreme peril of the expedition was here tempered by the consequences of local inexperience, and apparently inadequate means of communication with the natives; he describes himself to be 'ignorant of the road and situation of the country, and could place little dependence on the information of the Nayars,’ natives of that part of the country, and deeply interested in his success : he consequently determined to leave under the protection of a battalion of sepoys at Ramgerry the whole of his battering train and heavy equipments and marched with six 6-pounders, two 1-pounders, and the remainder of his force ‘to reconnoitre the country and fortress of Palghautcherry, before he should undertake to attack it.


“The remains of the Mysorean troops appeared to make a stand in a position not far from the place, but suffered themselves to be easily dislodged, and retreated into the fort. The colonel proceeded under cover of his troops to reconnoitre the southern and western works ; he moved on the ensuing day to the northward of the fort, and after folding by a complete examination that it was ‘everywhere much stronger than he had reason to apprehend,’ he returned to his first ground to the westward of the place, but in this movement, a judicious and well-timed sortie produced the loss of nearly the whole of his provisions and the discomfiture of all his Nayars, who seem to have gone off in a panic in consequence of being attacked in a morass during a thick fog.


“On the ensuing day he fell back to a little place named Mangaricota, eight miles distant, where he had left some provisions. An attack in force upon his rear repelled with judgment and spirit was of less importance than the distress sustained by rains which fell from the 21st to the 24th with as great violence as during any period of the monsoon, and rendered impassable for several hours a rivulet in his rear. It appears by letters, not officially recorded, that on the 10th November he received at Mangaricota orders from Bombay to return to the coast ; he commenced his march for that purpose on the 12th. On the 14th he was at Ramgerry, about halfway from Palghaut to the coast.


“A chasm occurs in the materials which the public records afford from the 30th of October till the 19th of November, when Colonel MacLeod, who had been sent by Sir Eyre Coote to assume the command, landed at Paniani. On the 20th Colonel Humberstone with his whole force came in, having made a rapid retreat before Tippu and Lally, who followed him by forced marches with a very superior force the last march being from Tirtalla, thirty miles. The public despatches are silent with regard to his numbers and the fate of the battering train, but the circumstances which led to this attack are better ascertained.


“After the defeat of Mukhduni All, Hyder had made all the requisite arrangements for endeavouring to repair that misfortune as soon as the season should permit. Tippu’s usual command including the corps of M. Lally had been reinforced and improved, and towards the close of the rains in Malabar, affected to be meditating some blow in the neighbourhood of Trichinopoly in order that when the state of the season and of the roads should be reported favourable, and above all when Colonel Humberstone should have advanced a sufficient distance from the coast, Tippu1 might be enabled by a few forced marches to come unexpectedly upon him. The receipt of orders from Bombay for his return to the coast, considered by himself as a public misfortune, may be deemed the efficient cause of the preservation of the troops under his command.


NOTEs: Colonel Humberstone, on 16th June 1782, when at Calicut, received information that "Tippu Said will most undoubtedly command the army on this side in the ensuing campaign. (His letter in Tellicherry Factory Diary, dated 1st July 1782.) END OF NOTEs


“Tippu commenced his forced march from the vicinity of Caroor in the confidence of finding Colonel Humberstone at Mangaricota advancing his stores for the siege of Palghaut. Tippu arrived at the latter place on the 16th, when his enemy had receded to Ramgerry ; it was not however, until the 18th2 at night, that he had any intelligence which satisfied him of the necessity of retreat at four o'clock on the ensuing morning ; but from an official neglect to send the order to a picquet of 150 men stationed at the extraordinary distance of three miles, five hours were lost ; incessantly harassed and cannonaded throughout the day, he attempted without success to pursue his route on the right bank of the river which was not fordable, but found himself stopped by impenetrable swamps.


NOTEs: 2. Apparently he had intended marching on the evening of the 18th (Tellicherry Factory Diary. 22nd November 1782.) END OF NOTEs


“The early part of the night was passed in anxious search for a practicable forth and at length one was found so deep as to take ordinary men to the chin ; yet by clinging together in silence, the tall assisting the short, the whole got across without the loss of a man. Tippu supposing the river to be everywhere impassable, employed the night in making dispositions for destroying his enemy in the snare in which he supposed him to be entrapped ; but by daylight on the 20th the detachment had performed the largest portion of the march and was only overtaken within two miles of Paniani. The hope of intercepting him was thus frustrated by an unexpected event, but Tippu determined to persevere in the attack.


“Colonel MacLeod, on examining his position3 at Paniani, began to strengthen it by some field works, and on the 25th attempted to surprise Tippu’s camp by night, an enterprise from which he desisted on forcing a picquet and discovering regular military arrangements and a strong position. On the morning of the 29th, before day, the field works being still unfinished, Tippu attempted the strong, but weakly occupied position of Colonel MacLeod by a well-designed attack in four columns, one of them headed by Lally’s corps; but such was the vigilance, discipline and energy of the English troops that the more advanced picquets were merely driven in on the out-posts, not one of which was actually forced ; support to the most vulnerable having been skilfully provided and M. Lally’s corps having fortunately been met by the strongest, each column before it could penetrate further was impetuously charged with the bayonet.


NOTEs: 3. The Tellicherry factors sent him 500 bags of rice on the 27th, there being only 13days' provisions in store at Ponnani. - (Tellicherry Factory Diary, dated 27th November 1782.) END OF NOTEs


“The errors incident to operations by night divided the columns, but the English tactic was uniform. A single company of Europeans did not hesitate to charge with the bayonet, a column of whatever weight without knowing or calculating numbers. M. Lally’s dispositions were excellent, if the quality of the troops had been equal, a pretension which could only be claimed by a portion of one column out of the four, and the attempt ended in total discomfiture and confusion, the Mysoreans leaving on the field 200 men killed and carrying off about 1,000 wounded; the loss of the English was 41 Europeans and 47 sepoys killed and wounded, including eight officers.


“Sir Edward Hughes proceeding with his squadron from Madras to Bombay, came in sight of the place on the ensuing day ; and on learning the circumstances in which the troops were placed, offered to Colonel MacLeod the alternative of receiving them on board, or reinforcing him with 450 Europeans. He adopted the latter, from considering that while Tippu should remain in his front, the small body under his command could not be better employed than in occupying the attention of so large a portion of the enemy’s army, and that while at Paniani he was equally prepared, as at any other part of the coast, to embark and join the concentrated force which he knew to be preparing at Bombay.


“The return furnished by Colonel MacLeod to the Commander-in-Chief at Madras of his total number, after receiving from Sir Edward Hughes the reinforcement of 450 men, was European 800, English sepoys 1,000, Travaneorean troops 1,200, showing that the number of Europeans engaged in the late encounter were fewer than 400 men, and as he had been accompanied in landing by 40 men, the number with which Colonel Humberstone returned to Paniani could not have exceeded 300 men, out of the thousand with which he had landed in the preceding February.


“Tippu after this ineffectual attempt1 retired to a further distance to await the arrival of his heavy equipments in order to resume the attack on the position at Paniani ; but on the 12th of December, the swarm of light troops which had continued to watch the English position was invisible, and successive reports confirmed the intelligence that the whole Mysorean force was proceeding by forced marches to the eastward, whither our narrative must return.”

*****

Hyder Ali died on the 7th December 1782 and Tippu was in full march back to secure his father’s throne.


On hearing of Colonel MacLeod’s position at Ponnani the Bombay Government determined to despatch their Commander-in-Chief, Brigadier-General Matthews, to relieve him with such forces as were immediately available. In his progress down the coast General Matthews heard of the hasty retreat of the enemy’s force, and instead of going on to Ponnani, he commenced, under special orders from Bombay, a hasty and ill-considered scheme for an advance on Bednur. For this purpose he sent ships to Ponnani and brought away Colonel MacLeod and the force under his command. The factors at Tellicherry were alarmed at the withdrawal of the force, as it exposed the settlement to great danger in the event of its being again attacked.


It is unnecessary to follow in this narrative the unhappy issue of the campaign thus rashly undertaken or of the defence of Mangalore which brought it to a glorious but unfortunate close. The shattered remains of the Mangalore garrison, with their brave commander, Colonel Campbell, reached Tellicherry on the 3rd February 1783 in the ships Sulivan, Hawke, and Alfred, escorted by the Morning Star and Drake, cruisers.


As a diversion in another quarter to draw Tippu’s attention away from Mangalore after his breach of the armistice at that place Colonel Fullarton, in command of a force1 of 1,700 Europeans and seventeen battalions of sepoys which had been organised by Mr. Sullivan, the Resident of Tanjore, to operate in Mysore, pushed westwards from Dindigul via Darapuram towards Palghaut as soon as he had been apprised2 by the factors of Tellicherry of a recommencement of hostilities at Mangalore.


NOTEs:1. One European and three sepoy brigades, besides four flank battalions that acted as a fifth brigade.” Also “65 pieces of cannon, with field ammunition and 10,000 battering shot; the engineer’s department was stored with besieging tools and other implements ; the pioneer corps was strengthened ; our cavalry, excepting three troops, were natives and irregulars ; they amounted to 1,000 men ”—Col. Fullarton’s letter to Madras Government, 7th January 1785. The figures given in the text are taken from the Tellicherry factory diary.


2. This was on 3rd October 1783. They had, the previous day, received secret intelligence of the fact from Mr. Murdoch Brown written, as alleged, at the peril of his life from Valarpattanam ; but. the fact was subsequently not confirmed. Mr. Brown's information was that Tippu taking advantage of an opportunity “seized and put in irons the troops, general, and gentlemen, who were out of the fort” at a time when Tippu's own force was apparently dispersed ; but the General (MacLeod) arrived at Tellicherry on the 12th. END OF NOTEs


“The immediate object of this movement was the relief of Mangalore : the ultimate object was the reduction of Hyder’s family, or at least the attainment of a respectable accommodation.”



The vaguest ideas regarding the topography of the country prevailed, and Mangalore was found to be too distant to be reached by the force, but the seizure of Palghaut “as an intermediate place of strength and resources” and to serve as a magazine of stores and provisions for the prosecution of our undertaking or to secure a retreat if necessary,” with a view to the carrying out of the ultimate object for which the force had been organised, appeared to Colonel Fullarton an operation of the greatest importance.


His own account3 of his Palghaut campaign is thus related : - “Palghautcherry4 held forth every advantage; it was a place of the first strength in India, while its territory afforded a superabundance of provisions. The mountains that bound the pass which it commands are strengthened by thick forests and surrounding woods, and the intersections of the Ponnani river, through deep rice grounds, all concurred to enable a small body of infantry to defend the territory against any number of horse. It commanded, further, the only practicable communication between the coasts of Coromandel and Malabar, and promised us possession of all the countries from Trichinopoly by Darapuram, in a reach of more than two hundred miles.


It opened the means of supply from Travancore, Cochin, and other places on the Malabar coast. It afforded confidence to the Zamorin and other disaffected rajas, from Cochin to Goa, who were struggling to shake off the yoke of Hyder. It left us at liberty to disguise our movements and to proceed either by the route of Coimbatore and Gudgereddy, or by Calicut on the Malabar coast, and the pass of Damalcherry,1 to the siege of Seringapatam. It was, besides, of such intrinsic consequence to the Mysore Government that the reduction of it could not fail to weigh essentially in the negotiations for peace, then said to be in agitation, and promised to make Tippu Sultan raise the siege of Mangalore, in order to oppose our farther progress.


NOTEs: 3. “A View of English Interests in India,” etc., Madras 1867, pp. 26-30.

4. Palghautcherry was completely re-built by Hyder since the war of 1767 with the English, and was furnished with all the advantages of European construction and defence.

1. Tamarassori. END OF NOTEs


“We marched from Putney in October, reduced the forts of Cumalum, Chucklygerry, and Annamally, and passed through a rich country abounding with dry grain, cattle, wood, and rice-fields. At Poliatchy the ground attains its highest elevation, and the streams run east and west to the Coromandel and Malabar seas. During our whole march through this part of the country, the flank brigade, under Captain Maitland, moved constantly in front, occupied positions, and secured provisions for the army.


“From Annamally our progress became truly laborious ; we had to force our way through a forest twenty miles in depth, extending thirty miles across the pass of Palghaut. Our object was to reach Calingoody,2 a post on the western side of the forest, within fifteen miles of Palghaut cherry. The frequent ravines required to be filled up before it was possible to drag the guns across them ; innumerable large trees which obstructed the passage, required to be cut down and drawn out of the intended track, and then the whole road was then to be formed before the carriages could pass. The bridges were distributed to succeed each other at intervals, preceded by pioneers, in order to clear what the advanced body had opened, for the guns and stores that were to move under cover of the rear division.


“While we were thus engaged, an unremitting rain, extremely unusual at that season, commenced. The ravines were filled with water, the paths became slippery, the bullocks lost their footing, and the troops were obliged to drag the guns and carriages across the, whole forest. I forced on with the advance to Calingoody,2 in order to make the necessary arrangements with the people of the Zamorin, who had prepared for the future subsistence of the army. The disposition of the inhabitants towards us, and their means of supply, exceeded our most sanguine expectations.


NOTEs: 2. Kollengode. END OF NOTEs


“The Zamoria’s vakeel informed the Brahmans that we were friends to their cause, and eager to deliver them from the yoke of Hyder ; that we only wished to receive the public proportion of grain, but none from individuals, and that any person belonging to the camp who should attempt to plunder, would be hanged in front of the lines. On hearing these declarations they testified the strongest satisfaction, and their confidence increased when they found that the first offenders were executed.


“The rains continued fourteen days without intermission, the passage through the forest became daily move distressful, and the troops were exposed, in their whole progress, without the possibility of pitching touts or of affording them either cover or convenience.


Calingoody1 is fifteen miles from Palghautcherry, and the road lies entirely through rice grounds, with intersecting ridges covered with cocoa and other trees ; the water and embankments necessary for the cultivation of rice render it difficult for guns to pass and impracticable for cavalry to act. As soon as sufficient, force got through the wood, the advance corps moved to the bank of the Ponnani river, within random shot of the works of Palghautcherry. There we took a secure position and prepared to attack the place.


NOTEs: 1. Kollengode. END OF NOTEs


My Brahman Hircarrahs2 had executed a model of the fort in clay, a work at which they are extremely dexterous, and on all hands we had received accounts of it that appeared exaggerated ; but on a near inspection, my admiration of its strength was mingled with serious apprehensions that much time might be wasted on its reduction.


NOTEs: 2. Hircarrahs are people who give intelligence, show roads, etc. END OF NOTEs


“On the 4th of November the main body of the troops, not including the rear division, arrived at our position on the river, which we crossed next day, and encamped about two miles east from the fort across the great road that leads from Coimbatore. The engineer’s stores arrived and a post for them was established, where all the preparations for a siege were collected. As our next object was to circumscribe the besieged and accelerate our approaches, with this view we occupied the pettah, or open town, on the east and north faces of the fort ; and on each of these faces we carried forward an attack.


"During the whole period of our approaches, and in the construction of our trenches, parallels and batteries, the besieged kept a continued fire on our covering and working parties. The battering train and stores, under cover of the 4th brigade, reached our encampment on the 9th, after a succession of toils that would appear incredible if recited in detail.


“Apprehending much delay from the strength of the defences and the obstinacy of the defenders, especially if they should force us to approach by sap to the crest of the glacis, and to proceed from thence by regular gradations across the ditch, we resolved, at a seasonable opportunity, to attempt the gateway. We found it, so strongly flanked and fortified that it appeared almost secure from any attack ; however, having no drawbridge, we founded our hopes of accelerating the siege on this circumstance.


“We did not permit any heavy metal whatever to be fired till the 13th when we opened with twelve guns and four howitzers from two batteries, at four hundred yards’ distance from the east and north faces of the fort, and before sunset the defences were so much damaged that the fire of the besieged considerably abated. The fortunate circumstances1 attending our attack, and the surrender of the place during the night, are explained in my letter of the 15th November.


NOTEs: 1 “The Honourable Captain (now Sir Thomas) Maitland being on duty in the trenches, had taken advantage of a heavy fall of rain to drive the enemy from the covered way which was not palisaded, and pursuing the fugitives through the first, and second gateways, struck such a panic into the garrison so as to cause its immediate surrender.” (Wilks’ “Historical Sketches,’ II, 80.) END OF NOTEs


“On the surrender of Palghautcherry, I appointed Captain Dewar, one of your ablest officers, to command there, and the 19th battalion with a few Europeans and some irregulars to garrison the place. The heir apparent to the Zamorin left his retirement in the woods and remained with me during the siege. In answer to his urgent solicitations that I should restore him to the dominions, of which Hyder had deprived his family, I declared that, in the event of our moving by Calicut, I hoped to effect his re-establishment there ; and that, in the meanwhile, he should be reinstated in the territory of Palghaut, an ancient dependency of the Zamorins, requiring only from him that he should furnish grain for the army while in that vicinity, without any other obligation until the termination of the war, or until your Government should make some regular agreement with him.


“To establish more fully the Zamorin’s authority, and to afford him the necessary support in his present situation, a large body of Brahman hircarrahs, who had constantly remained with me in camp, were employed, and proved not only of material service in the business of intelligence, but of material influence in conciliating the Gentoos. Accompanied by them we frequently rode through the adjacent villages, assembled the head people, and assured them of protection.”


Finding that the physical difficulties in the way of effecting a junction with General MacLeod’s force at Tellicherry with a view to a combined movement against Mysore were insurmountable, Colonel Fullarton still bent on reaching Mysore, turned eastwards, and on 26th November received the surrender of Coimbatore.


Two days later he received instructions, which he at first sensibly disregarded, from the peace plenipotentiaries proceeding to Tippu’s camp, to abandon his intentions of aggression against Mysore and to retire within the limits held by the English on the 26th July preceding. But the orders received confirmation from Madras, and Fullarton on 28th December began reluctantly to obey them. Hardly however had he reached Dindigul once more, when the government of Lord Macartney changed its mind and he was told to stand fast in his possessions.


It was too late, however, the evacuation had been carried out and as Mr. Swartz, the famous missionary, forcibly expressed it, “they had let go the reins and how were they to control the beast !”


Palghaut had been occupied by the Zamorin of Calicut as soon as the British force retired. Fullarton applied for and received four battalions of Travancore sepoys, which he despatched to the place to help the Zamorin to hold it till further assistance could arrive, but before the succour arrived, the Zamorin’s force despairing1 of support had abandoned the place and retired into the mountains. Tippu’s forces, thereupon, speedily re-occupied all the south of Malabar as far as the Kota river, at which point a detachment of troops from Tellicherry was stationed to prevent the enemy from encroaching on the Kadattanad country to the north of the river.


NOTEs: 1. Fullarton, in his narrative, gives the following curious account of the reasons for abandoning the place :—"The Zamorin and his followers of the Nayar caste are rigid Gentoos and venerate the Brahmans. Tippu’s soldiers, therefore daily exposed the heads of many Brahmans in sight of the fort. It is asserted that the Zamorin, rather than witness such enormities, chose to abandon Palghautcherry.” END OF NOTEs


Meanwhile, an independent expedition had been planned against Cannanore, "that nest of enemies” as the officer in command, Brigadier-General Norman MacLeod, styled it. The reason for attacking it was that some 300 sepoys on their way from Bombay to join General MacLeod’s army had been wrecked on the coast in a storm. Two hundred of them had been detained by Tippu as prisoners, and the rest had similarly been detained by the Bibi of Cannanore.


There are very few particulars in the records regarding this expedition, of the reasons for which the factors were not informed until after the place had fallen. Genera] MacLeod arrived at Tellicherry on October 12, 1783, almost simultaneously with the detachment of French troops under Colonel Cossigny, which had taken part in the earlier operations against Mangalore, but which had left Tippu’s service on the conclusion of peace between the English and French.


On October 20th there arrived the squadron of H.M.’s ships under Sir Richard Bickerton bringing with them from Madras “800 of H.M.’s troops” for General MacLeod’s command. More troops came from Bombay shortly afterwards, and by 11th December General MacLeod reported “everything in great forwardness in the siege.” And three days later, or on 14th December, the place was carried. The 42nd and 100th regiments and two companies of the Tellicherry grenadiers took part in the operations.


On the 8th of January 1784 the General and the Bibi of Cannanore entered into an agreement2 of peace and friendship, stipulating for repossession of all the countries, of which the Bibi stood possessed before the English army entered the country (thereby including3 the greater portion, if not the whole, of the Kolattiri northern dominions), for a war indemnity of 1½ lakhs of rupees, for an annual tribute of another lakh, and for the Bibi’s protection against the Nayars, retention of the forts by the English, and offer of the pepper crop at a reasonable price.


NOTEs: 2. Treaties, etc., i. XCII


3. The reigning Kolattiri prince, while a vassal of Tippu’s, had in 1782 joined General Matthew’s force. This was the signal for the Cannanore Mappilla family to rise and re-possess itself of the territory which it had held under Hyder Ali from 1766 till 1777. END OF NOTEs



This engagement was however disavowed subsequently by the Bombay Government as having been concluded without authority, but afterwards it was temporarily confirmed during the armistice with Tippu or until peace should be concluded.


And peace was now near at hand, although it was not a peace of which the English could be proud ; for Tippu, already in possession of all the territory which the English held as guarantees of peace excepting Cannanore and Dindigul, was in a position to flout the peace plenipotentiaries, and he on the 11th March 1784 acquiesced eventually in the articles1 only when he learnt that the English were again preparing in earnest for a further conflict.


NOTEs: 1 Treaties, etc., i. XCIII.- Which contains only those articles relating to Malabar affairs. END OF NOTEs


In the first article the parties stipulated for peace on behalf of their “allies and friends” among whom the English particularly cited, as theirs, the Rajas of Tanjure and Travancore and the Nabob of the Carnatic, and among those whom Tippu similarly cited were “the Bibi of Cannanore and the Rajas or Zamindars of the Malabar Coast”.


The peace plenipotentiaries were not in a position to protect their friends. Warren Hastings pertinently remarked that the proper place for the plenipotentiaries to have arranged terms with Tippu would have been at the head of Colonel Fullarton’s force instead of which they went as suppliants to Tippu’s camp at Mangalore. The Tellicherry factors addressed them at that place under date the 16th February, begging earnestly that the dominions of the Coorg, Kolattiri, Kottayam and Kadattanad Rajas and of the Iruvalinad Nambiars might be secured independence, inasmuch as the welfare and trade of the company’s settlement, and their China investments, depended upon the degree of independence which might he secured for these chieftains.


“They pointed out that Coorg had been independent since the close of the siege of Tellicherry, that the company through their conquest of Cannanore were now in a position to reins-state the Kolattiri prince, that the Kottayam2 family had never bowed their necks either to Hyder Ali or to Tippu’s rule, had preferred exile in their mountain fastnesses to submission to the conqueror, had in company with Kadattanad rendered “very essential service to the company during the siege of Tellicherry,” and had, since January 1782, been in independent possession of their country, and finally that Kadattanad,1 though a feudatory of Hyder Ali's from 1774, had in 1779 evaded his demand to assist the French at Mahe, had on being driven out in favour of his nephew taken refuge in Tellicherry, rendering also good service to the company during the siege of that place, and had since the raising of it been in independent possession of all his own territory.


NOTEs: 2. The Resident at Tellicherry had in August 1782 submitted to Bombay proposals from Kottayam and Kaddattanud and the Iruvalinad Nambiars to pay annual tribute to the extent of Rs. 1,00,000, Rs. 50,000, and Rs. 25,000, respectively, in “consideration of the countenance and protection” of the Honourable Company (See Treaties , etc., i. XC).


But the Bombay Government were not yet prepared to undertake such responsibilities, and on the 30th September of the same year the Resident was informed that “we do not think it advisable to enter into engagements for taking them (Malabar powers) under our protection." The country powers had fully realised by this time that the traders could fight as well as trade, and were eager to have their protection as tributaries. The empire of India was being forced on the acceptance of a humble company of foreign traders, whose only object was to buy pepper, ginger, cardamoms and piece goods as cheaply as they could. END OF NOTEs


Tippu was admittedly in possession of South Malabar, but from the Kota river northwards the chiefs and the company were exclusively in possession. On the 17th March, Messrs. Staunton and Hudleston, two of the plenipotentiaries, arrived by sea at Tellicherry, bringing news of the peace, and of the Malabar chiefs having been included by Tippu among his “friends and allies’’ !!



The fourth article stipulated that Cannanore should be evacuated by the English and restored to the Bibi as soon as all the prisoners2 are released and delivered.”


On Tippu's inhuman treatment of his prisoners, it is unnecessary to dwell. Beginning with the brave Captain Rumley, he had already poisoned, or destroyed in other ways, all whom he thought from their gallantry or abilities would be dangerous opponents in a future struggle. But he was not without a grievance himself owing to the summary manner in which the fort of Cannanore had been evacuated in April by General MacLeod in express breach of this fourth article.


Without waiting to hear of the release of the remaining prisoners, MacLeod in April disbanded his force which included the 42nd and 100th regiments, sending some to the east coast, some to Bombay, and some to garrison Tellicherry, and he himself left Tellicherry on the 27th of that month. There were doubtless reasons-near approach of the monson, difficulty in obtaining transports, and difficulty in feeding the force—for evacuating the fort so soon ; but these ought to have been set aside in favour of strict adherence to the terms of the treaty.


Tippu complained bitterly of this evasion, and, on the 25th May, the Chief at Tellicherry had a letter from him complaining1 further that the Cannanore fort had been looted of everything, “and the said fort made empty as a jungul, and then your troops went away. By this it is certain that the heart is not clean :—What more is to write !!”


NOTEs: 1. It is clear the Tippu expected the guns and stores to be handed over with “the fort and district; ” but there is nothing in the article to countenance such an interpretation of its clauses. END OF NOTEs


The eighth and ninth articles renewed and confirmed the Honourable Company’s trading privileges in Malabar and stipulated for the restoration of the fort and district of Mount Deli and of the Calicut factory.


Among other prisoners taken at the raising of the siege of Tellicherry in 1782, the Kurangoth Nayar, chief of a portion of the petty district of Iruvalinad, lying between the English and French settlements, had ever since remained a prisoner at Tellicherry. When the peace with Tippu above cited was concluded, all the English acquisitions along the coast were relinquished, except this Nayar's territory. He continued to pay tribute to the Honourable Company for some time.


The French on receiving2 back on 15th August 1785, their settlement of Mahe in pursuance of the treaty of Versailles (3rd September 1783) claimed the Nayar as their ally, not as their dependent. The Nayar appears to have been set free, but in 1787 he was seized by Tippu, who hanged him and in spite of French remonstrances annexed his territory to the Iruvalinad collectorship.


Tippu’s affairs were not well managed in Malabar when he recovered possession of it. The exactions of his revenue collectors appear to have driven the people into rebellion. Ravi Varma of the Zamorin’s house received in 1784 a jaghire in order to keep him quiet, and even Tippu’s Mappilla subjects in Ernad and Walluvanad rebelled.


In 1784-85 Tippu unwisely separated the civil from the military authority of the province. The latter was entrusted to Arshad Beg Khan, “a Mussulman of rare talents, humanity and integrity,” who had previously, since Hyder All’s death, been sole governor, and the former was bestowed on Meer Ibrahim. The civil governor broke through all the engagements with the Malabar chieftains, imposed new exactions, and of course rebellions broke out on every hand.


Foreseeing the evil consequences, Arshad Beg Khan, in 1786, tendered his resignation of his post, and asked to be permitted to visit Mecca. And some time afterwards he earnestly requested Tippu to come in person and avert the threatened destruction of his authority in Malabar.


This request was eventually complied with after Tippu had succeeded in making peace with the Muhrattas and the Nizam. It was on the 4th April 1788, that the factors at Tellicherry heard that Tippu was shortly coming3 to the coast and that a great magazine of rice was being laid in at Calicut, and next day they received the alarming intelligence ” of his being actually “this side of the Tamalcherry (Tamarasseri) Ghaut.”


The Calicut governor was meanwhile engaged with the “Insurgent Moors”. The Calicut Resident was at the time at Tellicherry, but he was sent post-haste back to his appointment at Calicut, with instructions to beg for the removal of the embargo laid on articles entering the Tellicherry settlement from the districts lying round it, which appeared to have been in force more or less ever since the treaty of Mangalore, and in spite of the specific terms of that treaty.


Various alarming rumours were current as to what Tippu’s intentions were, and the factors set earnestly to work to repair their defences which had fallen considerably into disrepair since the close of the siege ; but more re-assuring news came from the Resident directly he reached Calicut. Tippu had only 5,000 men and 100 field pieces and no battering train.

Calicut was not well placed for the operations then in hand, the subjugation of the “rebellious Moors,” and shortly after having had an audience with Tippu on 14th April, the Resident sent word that “the Nabob has been twice to Beypore, where on the 12th he began the construction of a strong fort, and it is supposed he intends to transfer the trade of Calicut thither,” and next day he reported that the Nabob was to proceed that day to Beypore to select a site to build his new city.”


On April 25th the Resident (Mr. Gribble) had another audience of Tippu, but failed to extract any promise from him in regard to trade. Tippu’s formal reply to the factors’ letter, with the delivery of which and of the customary present the Resident had been charged, was given into Mr. Gribble’s own hands, and Tippu insisted that he himself should convey it to Tellicherry. This very unusual request was complied with. When the reply was opened it was found that Tippu referred the factors to Mr. Gribble for full details of business, and Mr. Gribble had none to give, his conversation with the Nabob having been of the most, general character!


On May 3rd, Mr. Gribble was sent back to Calicut with another letter from the Chief, and another audience produced no better results although on this occasion some verbal promises were made. On the 11th it became quite certain that the Nabob was preparing to leave the place and on the 12th the report was—“The Pasha is now in the country lately infested by the rebel Moplas (Mappillas) to the southward of the Beypore river, from whence, it is said, he will proceed to Panany (Ponnani) on his way to Palacatcherry (Palghaut).”


The monsoon was on him before his journey was completed, and he arrogantly said that he would order the clouds to cease discharging their waters till he should have passed but the rains showed no respect to him and his army suffered the greatest hardships on their march.


On the 25th May 3 1788, the factors at Tellicherry received proposals from the Bibi of Cannanore to take her under their protection ; and her message stated that Tippu had advised her to make up her quarrel with the Kolattiri prince and to pick one with the English.


The reason for this seems to have been that the Kolattiri prince was just then in high favour with Tippu, and had been confirmed in his tenure of his own dominions. The Bibi and her ministers had, on the other hand, desired to be reinstated in the position of Governor of Kolattunad conferred on the Cannanore chieftain by Hyder Ali in 1766, and had been disappointed, and so, for the time being, they leaned to the English alliance.


On May 27th the Kolattiri or Chirakkal1 prince began to show his zeal for Tippu’s cause by demanding a settlement of accounts with the factors, and by asking for an immediate payment of one lakh of rupees, for which purpose he sent one of his ministers with orders to remain at Tellicherry till he was paid that sum. The factors were astonished at the demand since the accounts showed that the prince was over four lakhs in the debt of the Honourable Company. The Chief stopped the minister’s “diet money,” invariably paid while such officers remained in the Company’s settlement, and the minister after some demur departed.