Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
Henry Valentine Conolly


Henry Valentine Conolly was, like most of the native-English officials of the English East India Company, quite a dedicated individual. He was the Collector of the Malabar district during the rule of the English East India Company from February 1840 to September 1855 as per this book, Malabar.

The problem that he faced was a complicated one, which the English administration did face in many locations. Whatever good they did was misinterpreted by some persons to create a ruckus.

He did a lot of good deeds in Malabar district. However, what are generally mentioned are the Connolly Canal in Calicut and the Teak Plantation in Nilambur.

South Malabar did have the severe problem of solitary attacks on the Hindus (Brahmins & Ambalavasis) and their supervisor caste, Nayars. The basic problem that led to this was the feudal content in the local languages. The exact route of these solitary attacks on the higher castes has been discussed in the relevant section in this Commentary.

The English administration actually could not understand what was going on. For, even their peons’ (kolkars’) verbal exchanges with the Mappillas did contain terrific codes of provocation which could lead to homicidal mania in the adversely-affected Mappillas.

The English administration being committed to maintain law and order had to face the brunt of all criticism for trying to curb a communal frenzy between the higher castes and the Mappillas, many of whom were recent converts from the lower castes.

Conolly, as the District Collector, could have been easily blamed for the provocative verbal codes used by the native-officials on the Mappillas. And also for trying to save the Hindus (Brahmins &c.) and the Nayars from such attacks or for taking steps to capture the persons who had attacked them or had entered Hindu (Brahmin) temples, with insidious intentions.

Actually if it had been a local raja’s rule, the king would have literally allowed the non-Mappillas, who included the Hindus and the lower castes to attack and finish off the Mappillas. However, the English administration could not allow such a thing to happen.

In fact, there were suggestions to remove all Mappillas from the English armed forces. However, the English Company refused to be partial to any of the sides in the ongoing communal belligerence.

QUOTE: The District Magistrate, Mr. Conolly, in reporting on the outrage and wholesale murders of January 4th-8th, suggested that a commission should be appointed “to report on the question of Mappilla disturbances generally. I wish,” he stated, “for the utmost publicity. If any want of, or mistake in, management on my part has led in the slightest degree to these fearful evils (far more fearful in my time than they have ever been before), I am most desirous that a remedy be applied, whatever be the effect as regards my personal interests. END OF QUOTE.

The problem that he faced was there were not many persons in the Mappilla side to understand the administrative steps. On the other hand, the Hindu section (Brahmins and their Nayars) would also misinterpret the events to both sides, to the Mappillas and to the English administration. Their main aim would be catch fish in troubled waters.

The Hindu (Brahmin) side naturally would want the English to fight their wars with the Mappillas. This foolishness is actually continuing in all native-English nations. Outsiders are very coolly entrapping the native-English nations in all their native-land fights.

QUOTE: Mr. Conolly had received an anonymous letter warning him, but unfortunately thought it needless to take precautions, and had not even mentioned it to Mrs. Conolly.” END OF QUOTE.

It is quite sure that some Mappilla social leaders did try to warn Conolly about the impending attack. However, they could not openly reveal the information to Conolly. For, the native-officials would leak the name of the informants.

QUOTE: On the very day (17th February) that the Government appointed Mr. Strange as Special Commissioner, Mr. Conolly reported that 10,000 to 12,000 Mappillas, “great numbers of whom were armed” met at Tirurangadi and held a close conclave with the Tangal on rumours being spread that he was at once to be made a prisoner and disgraced. END OF QUOTE

There is a very slender and yet significant information hinted out here. The Nayar and higher castes officials working in the English administration would spread rumours that the Tangal was being questioned by the police with words such as Nee, Eda, Enthada &c. This would provoke terrific homicidal mania in the Mappilla who saw the Arabian Tangal as their leader.

However, it is seen that even on the Mappillas side, the Tangal was being misinterpreted, to give out a feeling that he was supporting terror acts. Actually, the reality was different.

See what were the Tangal’s own words:

QUOTE: Mr. Conolly had been successful in his negotiations to induce Saiyid Fazl to depart peaceably.

The Tangal avowed that he had done nothing “to deserve the displeasure of the Government ; that he repudiated the deeds of the fanatics ; and that it was his misfortune that a general blessing, intended to convey spiritual benefits to those alone who acted in accordance with the Muhammadan faith, should be misinterpreted by a few parties who acted in contradiction to its precepts. END OF QUOTE

The issue here is that the Mappilla individuals who were nursing an antipathy for the Hindu side would also be spreading false stories that the Tangal had given the go-ahead for various terror attacks.


It was apparently these letters of Mr. E. B. Thomas which eventually decided the Board of Diroctors to send out orders to legislate in the matter, for in their despatch of 27th July 1842 they first sent orders “for the entire abolition of slavery”, and in a second despatch of 15th March 1843 they called the special attention of the Government of India to the question of slavery in Malabar where the evils, as described by Mr. E. B. Thomas, were so aggravated “as compared with other portions of India”.

The Government of India thereupon passed Act V of 1843. On the passing of the Act, its provisions were widely published throughout Malabar by Mr. Conolly, the Collector, END OF QUOTE

Conolly was doing his best to eradicate the slavery of the Cherumar. However the Mappillas included the Cherumar who had converted into Islam, and so they were not bothered about slavery. For, they had already escaped from that.