Die Jovis, 6 Maii 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
John Hodgson Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:
What Situation did you fill in India?
I served the Company for Seven-and-twenty Years. I was
Assistant to the Collector of Land Revenue; Secretary to Government in the Revenue and Judicial Departments; Secretary to the
Special Commission for settling the Land Revenue permanently;
a Member of the Board of Revenue from the Year 1803 to the
Year 1809 inclusive, with the Exception of a Furlough of Three
Years to England; a Member of the Council of the Government
at Madras for One Year; and should have been in the Commission
of Government with Sir Thomas Munro had I been able from the
State of my Health to have remained.
Will you state whether any Improvements were effected in the
Judicial Administration of The East India Company during the
Period of your Residence in India, and what they were?
Certainly; very great. When I first entered the Service there
was no Judicial Administration whatever legally provided for in
any Shape under the Presidency of Madras. The Northern
Circars, the oldest Territory of The East India Company, ceded
in 1765, the Jaghire Lands forming a Part of the Carnatic ceded
to the Company in 1765, were administered by local Officers in the
Northern Circars-by Chief and Council. The Administration of
Justice by them was confined exclusively, I may say, to the Towns
and Factories within which they were placed. Of Criminal Jurisdiction there was none. There was no Law providing for the
Infliction of the Penalty of Death or any other Penalty. The
Land Revenue was collected through the Agency of Zemindars, of
whom there are a great many, hereditary and others; and if not
through them, by means of public Contractors. The Settlements
with them were either annually or periodically. The Chiefs in
Council had very little Authority in their Districts; and of course
every Zemindar could interfere in the direct Administration of
Justice. If they, the Chiefs and Councils, did interfere, Balances
very frequently accrued, which were attributed to that Interference
as the Cause. There is no Registry whatever that I am aware of
in any of the Records of the Government, either of the local Chiefs
in Council or those succeeding them when they were broken up in
1794, and the Records sent to the Presidency, of any recorded
Trials or Appeals, or any thing that then came under the Shape
of a Judicial Proceeding. Cases of Disputes respecting the Succession to those Zemindarries were certainly inquired into by those
local Chiefs in Council, but the ultimate Decision generally rested
with The Governor in Council at Madras. On the Report of the
Proceedings of those local Officers in the Carnatic, the Circar
Lands which were ceded to the Company, which formed Part of
the Carnatic-the Country, was rented out to One large Proprietor,
who was supposed to be an Agent of the Nabob who had ceded
those Provinces to the Company. This Contract existed 'till the
Year 1784, when Hyder invaded and desolated the whole of the
Carnatic, including the Jaghire. After the Peace made with
Tippoo, in that Year, 1784, during Lord Macartney's Government,
the whole of the Revenue of the Jaghire was rented out in Contract
to large Contractors, by Pergunnahs, which are Divisions of many
Villages; the Contractors being to the Number of Ten. After a
short Time Superintendents were appointed over these Contractors.
The Lease was for Ten Years, on a progressive Demand to meet
the supposed gradual Restoration of the Country. During the
Period of those Contracts European Superintendents were appointed
to see that Justice was done to the Ryots, who were the Payers of
the Land Revenue. They inquired into Civil Questions, and
certainly decided summarily in Matters of Civil Complaint, and
perhaps in Criminal Matters on a small Scale; but they had no
specific Rules for their Guidance, and were left much to their
Discretion in all Judicial Questions of whatever Nature, Civil or
Criminal. This may be said to have been the State of Things
'till the Year 1802, in all the Factories and other Dependencies of
the Company on the Madras Establishment. In 1802, Regulations
were framed upon the Principle of those in Bengal, and Courts of
Justice were established first in those Districts in which a permanent
Settlement of the Land Revenue had been made; subsequently, in
the Year 1806, they were extended; generally, Criminal Courts
were established, I should say, in 1802; generally, those continued
upon the same Principle 'till the Year 1816. In the Year 1816,
a Departure so far from the previous leading Principles that had
been adopted was made, in separating the Office of Magistrate from
that of the Judge, and adding it to that of the Collector; in taking
the Police from under the Magistrate, and placing that also under
the Collector, as Magistrate, with the Aid of his Native Officers;
in the Extension of Native Judges - Commissioners appointed
under the old Principle, by giving them a fixed Salary, which they
had not before, and in extending their Jurisdiction and increasing
their Number. The Number of the Zillah or District Courts
were also decreased in 1816. And, as far as regards the Company's Territories, those are the principal Alterations I at present
In the Absence of positive Law, which you have described,
previous to the Year 1802, were no Punishments inflicted for
Confinement in several Instances occurred in the District in
which I was myself in Charge as Collector, and previous to that as
Assistant, (when the whole Civil and Criminal Business fell on me,
together with the other Duties,) in Instances of a Man stabbing
another, an atrocious Murder, he remained in Confinement for a
long Period of Years withour the Means of bringing him to Trial;
also a great Number of Gang-robberies. I recollect Money going
down for Investment being plundered; the Offenders were supposed
to have been detected, but the only thing that could be done
was to keep them in Confinement. Those that remained in Confinement were acquitted, on the Courts being appointed, for Want
No Capital Punishments were inflicted by any Authority for the
No; there was none beyond the Jurisdiction of the King's
Can you state the Ground which led to the Alteration, in the
Year 1816, by which the Authority of the Magistrate was transferred
to the Collector?
I should consider it to have arisen chiefly from Revenue
Arrangements. It is necessary to explain, that under the Presidency of Madras there was originally but One Mode of Revenue
Settlement. This existed under the Orders of the Government at
Home for a long Period of Years, as far as the Records can be
traced, from 1600 down to probably 1792. The only Means by
which the Land Revenue was collected was through the Agency
of Zemindars, or public Competition by Contractors; there was no
direct Agency with the immediate Payers of the Soil. In the
Year 1792 a Cession of Territory was obtained from Tippoo Sultan,
after the Fall of Seringapatam, in that Province which is above the
Eastern Ghauts of the Peninsula, and what is described in Revenue
Language a Dry Grain Country. Colonel Read, and Three
Military Assistants, were appointed to the Charge of them. The
first Settlement was made in that Province by Villages. It was
afterwards abandoned by Colonel Read; and under his Suggestion
and Recommendation what is called the Ryotwar System was
adopted. The Ryotwar System means, that the Revenue shall be
collected direct by the Officers in the Pay of Government from the
actual Cultivators of the Land; that the Payment of Revenue shall
in all Cases be in Money; that it shall be fixed on each Field, and
not vary with the Produce of that Field. Now the former Practice
had been, in many Istances, to collect the Revenue in Kind from
irrigated Lands-artificially irrigated Lands; an invariable Money
Rate from Lands cultivated by the Rains. In this Province the
sole Judicial Revenue and Police Administration, such as then
existed, was under the entire Controul of Colonel Read and his
Assistants. When the Carnatic was ceded to the Company in 1801,
and the Ceded District obtained from The Nizam in 1800, it came
under the Consideration of the Madras Government, and under the
Recommendation, I may say, of Colonel Sir Thomas Munro,
whether it would not be expedient to introduce the Ryotwar System
of Assessment and Collection into every Province not under
Zemindarry Agency. This Course was adopted; and Instructions
were issued for carrying the Ryotwar Plan of Assessment and Collection into Execution throughout the whole of the Carnatic. Its
Progress was going on, under Sir Thomas Munro, in the Ceded
Districts obtained from The Nizam; and was finally completed there
before he quitted the Country. In 1807, the Perusal of Sir
Thomas Munro's Reports in England, and the Wishes of the
Court of Directors and local Authorities in England, led to an
anxious Desire that this Arrangement should be made general, and
should be perpetuated. Sir Thomas Munro was consulted here
upon the Subject, and many other of the Servants of the Company,
Civil and Military; and Orders were sent out between the Years
1813 and 1816 for carrying this Plan into Effect; and it was considered necessary, for the due Accomplishment of this, that all the
Authority in the Ryotwarry District should be vested in the Head
of the Revenue Department, as well to secure the successful
Accomplishment of this Plan, as, in the Opinion, I believe, of Sir
Thomas Munro, for the better Government of them. The Orders
were hardly discretionary; as far as regarded the local Government,
they may have been almost said to have been positive; they were
not the Result of any Communication from the local Government,
but were adopted from the Views of the Government at Home,
formed from all that was on Record, and all the Information they
had been able to obtain.
Under that Arrangement, was the Revenue Collector armed
with Authority, as a Magistrate sufficient to enable him to compel
the Collection of any Sums he required, without any Appeal to the
With reference to that Question, it is necessary to explain, that
the Land Revenue throughout all India is a certain Portion of the
produce of all Land cultivated, according to Rates established by
local Customs and Usage; those Rates vary, both in Kind and in
Money; in fact the Irrigation under which the Country is cultivated is so different in the South-west Monsoons and the Southeast that there is a much greater Certainty in the Cultivation under
One Monsoon than in the other. The South and South-east
Provinces of Bengal may be said to derive their Fertility from
Floods and the Works of Irrigation there are to keep out Water.
In the whole of the Peninsula, taking it from the Northern to the
Southern Extremity, the most fertile of our Lands are irrigated by
means of the Rivers which take their Rise above the Ghauts, and
are filled by the Rains of the South-west Monsoon; the other Parts
of the Coast are not watered by those large Rivers. I believe there
are not more than Three: the Mohanuddi, the Godaveray, the
Kistna, the Palar, the Cauveri, and the Tambara Purney. The
Surplus of Water by those Rivers rarely fails. The rest of the
Country is irrigated by means of large Reservoirs called Tanks;
and there are many of great Size; the Banks of some are Three,
Four, and Five Miles long, containing an Area of great Extent.
Those are supplied either by Cuts from Rivers, or the Rains
collected from the higher Grounds; the Supply is precarious, comparatively with the other above the Ghauts. Under the Southwest Monsoon the Rains are more abundant and of longer
Continuance; there is comparatively very little Irrigation; the
fertile Provinces of Malabar and Canara are not irrigated Provinces. Under this State of Fluctuation in the Means of Irrigation,
and consequent Fluctuations in the Produce, a different Mode of
Settlement had been the Practice known by those who rented out
the Revenue in large Contracts below the Ghauts, from what was
the Practice above. When it became necessary to survey and assess
each Field, extensive Powers were considered to be necessary to
enable the Collectors to get through with this Work, and so far the
Authority of the Magistrate being added to that of Collector enabled
him to overcome all Resistance with greater Facility. I should
however explain, that during the Time that the first Ryotwar
Surveys were made, no Courts of Justice existed, and that therefore
there was no Appeal from the Authority of the Collector in any of
those Measures, for commuting the Payments in Kind for Payments
in Money, or changing the variable Rate of Money Assessment to
a fixed Money Assessment, except such as could be made to the
Board of Revenue, or to The Governor in Council; and that under
the Practices and customary Authority of the Revenue Officers under
the Native Government, the Powers of the Collectors were certainly extensive. But if the Office of Magistrate had been
continued under the Judges, and an Appeal allowed to the Judge
from the Revenue Authority, in Cases of Dispute respecting the
Amount of the Taxation, it is perhaps not easy to say whether
the Work would have been accomplished with the same Facility
Do you conceive in point of fact that the Combination of Authority
you have described in the Collector has not been attended with Abuse
The Case may be stated thus: that the Collector in charge of
the Ryotwarry Provinces has a large Body of Native Servants under
his Controul; sometimes from 2,500 to 3,000 of different Grades;
in those Cases the Difficulty is rather in controuling those Native
Officers than probably in preventing Oppression on his own Part,
for I am bound to say that in almost all Cases Collectors have
shewn the greatest Disposition of Forbearance; but it is difficult on
many Occasions to resist the Communications and Recommendations
of the Native local Officers, as well as to prevent their Abuse of
Authority in the several Departments intrusted to their Charge, for
a Native Officer of Revenue is now not only an Assessor, but he is a
Collector of the Portion of the Revenue over which he presides; he
is Superintendent of the Police; he is Magistrate in Cases of minor
Offences; he is empowered to inflict Criminal Punishment to the
Extent, I believe, of Six Rattans in small Cases of Petty Theft,
without being required to record Evidence, or without the Case
being appealable to the Judge of Circuit; he is also of necessity
Purveyor of Provisions for the Troops marching through the
District; and he executes the Collector's Orders in every Branch of
the Business intrusted to him. Numerous Instances have occurred
during the Period I was in Office of great Abuses committed by
those Native Servants in a great Number of Collectorships, and
many Collectors have not been successful in all Cases in restraining
those Abuses. It was this that led to that great Difference of
Opinion which exists on the best Mode of collecting the Land
Revenue of India; the one Party advocating that the Employment
of Native stipendiary Servants to a great Extent all over the
Country has an Advantage; while the other Party equally contend,
on the other Side, that it is a System that is only calculated for the
Acquisition of Revenue Knowledge in the first instance, and ought
not to be continued as a permanent Measure of a wise and benevolent Government.
Do you conceive then the Authority of Magistrate to be chiefly
necessary to the Collector for the Purpose of controuling his own
No; the Authority of Magistrate was added to that of Collector
for the Purpose of confining all Authority to the Revenue Department in every Branch; and not only with a view to prevent any
Clashing of Authority between the Collector and the Judge as
Magistrate, but also, in the Opinion of some, as a better Measure
of Government than having a separate Police and separate Native
Collectors in the same District.
To what Extent did the Power of the Magistrate so vested
in the Collector extend, without Appeal, in the Way of Punishment?
I am not quite certain that I can answer that Question. It is
Ten Years since I quitted India, and those Regulations have undergone great Change since that Time. It extended only to Corporal
Punishments, and Confinement to a moderate Extent, and to Commitments for Trial, according to Circumstances, with certain Cases
open to the Judge of Circuit or the Criminal Judge; there is a
Criminal Judge, though he is not a Magistrate, to whom there is
an Appeal in certain Cases. All Felonies, except what a Magistrate as Police Officer may be considered as entitled to try, are
tried by the Court of Circuit.
Can you state whether the Authority of the Collector as Magistrate extended to Fine and Imprisonment?
To Fine and Corporal Punishment, under the European Magistrate's Regulations.
During the Period of your Observations, were Punishments to
that Extent extensively inflicted by the Collectors in the Exercise of
I have no Means of answering that Question. I quitted India in
the Beginning of the Year 1820, and the Regulation was issued
only the latter End of 1816, so that it had not any great Operation
at the Time I came away; and I do not recollect that it came
under my Observation, not being in the Judicial Department at
Are you able, from your Observation there, or the Knowledge
you have acquired since, to state what have been the Effects, beneficial or otherwise, of the Adoption of the Ryotwarry System, upon
the Revenue, upon the Condition of the Natives, and the Improvement of the Soil?
As I have already explained, the Ryotwarry System first commenced to be carried into Effect in the Year 1801 extensively; for
the first Ryotwarry Assessment the Surveys that were made were
certainly conducted in a very imperfect Manner, and it is much to
be feared that in their Results they were excessively oppressive.
I have already stated, that there was no Appeal, except to the
Board of Revenue or The Governor in Council, from the Proceedings of the Collectors, in conducting those Surveys; the Consequence was, that they were conducted upon different Principles
in almost every Province, and in their Results were generally exceedingly high; that is, that the Assessment was much heavier than
the People could afford to pay. It did not leave those who had,
under the Native Government, for a long Period of Years, been in
the habit of rendering the Dues of Government in Kind, to continue that Practice; it did not permit those who had paid a variable
Money Rate, arising out of Circumstances of Climate and of Soil,
to continue that variable Rate; it compelled them to accept the
Terms of Commutation offered by the Collector. It is true, that
at a subsequent Period considerable Modifications and Reductions
have taken place in most of the Ryotwarry Provinces; but much
remains to be done in order to effect the original Object of the
Ryotwar Assessment, which has been declared by the Government,
by the Board of Revenue, and by the Collectors, to be in Theory
a moderate Assessment on each Field, to be paid in Money under
all Circumstances, with whatever it may be cultivated. The former
Theory of the Ryotwar was to leave the People to cultivate as
little Land as suited their Convenience; to convert the Field that
then was without the Means of Irrigation, by digging a Well, into
a Garden; to raise a superior Produce of Sugar, Tobacco, or any
other Article, as it might suit their Purpose, on the Fields that had
this fixed Money Rent. The Practice has unfortunately differed
from this; it was found that the Rates were so variable and so
unequal, that it became necessary for the Cultivators to abandon
very often good Land, on account of the high Rate of Assessment
upon it, and to take to inferior Soils. This took place in the Province of Dindigul to a very great Extent indeed, and has more or
less been the Case in almost every Ryotwar Province; so that it
became necessary, to meet the Reductions of Revenue that would
result from this Abandonment of Land, to compel the Ryots to
take a certain Quantity of what was considered good and what was
considered bad Land, in their Engagements for their annual Cultivation. This is of course an Arrangement that they would not have
consented to had there been a Third Party appointed to decide the
Case between them, or had not the Authority of the Collector been
considered such as it was, useless to resist. In one small Province
of Letwaid, Part of the Carnatic, the Ryotwarry may be said to
have been established on correct Principles; it yielded Six-from
Six to Seven hundred Pounds annually. It was a small District
attached to a Collectorate under the permanent Settlement. He
had much Time and Leisure to bestow upon it. The Reduction
of One Fourth he made was a Sum that attracted very little Notice.
He proceeded also upon the Principle of making a large Deduction for the Expences of Cultivation, so that when the Assessment
was concluded the Government Tax was only Two Fifths-the
Ryots were left with Three Fifths of the Gross Produce; but unless
the Price of Produce had been taken at a very moderate Valuation,
even this Deduction in favour of the Ryots might not have been
probably beneficial, but the Result of the whole has been certainly
most satisfactory. I was in that Province on a Tour of Pleasure
in 1817; and adverse as I had in general been to the Ryotwar
System, I have every Reason to say that in this Province at least it
has tended exceedingly to promote the Welfare of the Ryots; and
if there are no great Fluctuations in Price, which I very much fear
there will be, it will also tend to increase the Revenue of Government. In Canara, which was originally acquired in 1799, after the
Fall of Seringapatam, the Revenue had been paid Time immemorial
by Proprietors of Land holding their Estates upon quite a different
Principle to that which existed in other Parts of India, inasmuch as
each Man has his separate Farm; he has his Rice Lands, his
Pepper Vines, his Garden Land and others, in one contiguous
Farm; and although that Country is not irrigated, yet the abundant
Rains of the Southwest Monsoon render the Produce much more
certain than elsewhere; they have also had a very abundant Export
Market in that Province, which has now been in our Possession
very nearly Thirty Years. There has been no very considerable
Increase of Revenue that I am aware of; on the contrary, at one
Time it was decreasing. It was Sir Thomas Munro's Opinion that
the Land Revenue of that Province ought to have been reduced
lower than he ever reduced it; unfortunately, the Necessities of
the Government, which periodically occur, have prevented these Reductions taking place. Up to this Time, the Export is pretty nearly
the same, but the Price has considerably fallen. There has been,
I apprehend, an increased Difficulty in collecting the Land Revenue
of this Province, though it may be considered the most moderately
assessed of any under the Madras Presidency. The Export Trade
of Rice to Arabia and Foreign Ports has unfortunately been prevented in Seasons of Home Scarcity. I should explain: there is
no Manufacturing Population in Canara; it is chiefly Agricultural;
but occasionally, when Troops are stationed there or in the Neighbourhood, there have been Complaints of Prices rising, when
Exports have been carried to an Extent to raise the Home Price;
the Consequence has been, in my humble Opinion, an unfortunate
Tampering with the Trade, so that the Cultivators there have at
one Time been deprived of the Advantages of high Price, and subjected to the Loss of low Price; and a Danger may arise, if this
Practice continues, of inducing the Merchants to go to Bengal
and other Ports in search of Grain. The Land Assessment of
Canara, being in Money, will require to be reduced. It does
not necessarily follow, that to perform all the Ryotwarry Assessments and Surveys well, that those extensive Powers should be
held by Collectors, or that there should be no Appeal from their
Proceedings; on the contrary, it is more than probable that great
Advantages would result from placing the Collectors and their
Native Officers under certain Controul in their Assessments, and
giving the People Invitation and Opportunity to apply to a Third
Party to settle Disputes between them. Under this Impression,
the Board of Revenue at Madras prepared in 1818, just before
I quitted that Board, a Regulation for a Ryotwarry Assessment
and Collection in every Province, and the utmost Pains were taken
to render it perfect, by submitting it to Sir Thomas Munro, to all
the Collectors who were Advocates for the Ryotwarry System, or
had been instrumental in conducting it; and the Rules were
intended to be enacted in the Mode and Manner prescribed by
Act of Parliament. Sir Thomas Munro's written Opinion to the
Government of Saint George was, that it would be better to send
this Regulation as Instructions to the Collector rather than as Law,
and that Recommendation was followed, for I am not aware that
to this Day any Law has been passed for the Guidance of Collectors, in assessing and collecting under the Ryotwar Plan. The
Errors of the Ryotwarry, therefore, I beg to explain, are not a
necessary Consequence of that System. It may be done well, provided the local Circumstances admit of it; but there is a great
Difference of Opinion, whether all Districts under the Government of Fort St. George, so variously situated as to Climate and
to Water, are equally adapted for the Introduction of this System.
You are of Opinion then that a great Part of the Evil of the
Ryotwarry Settlement has arisen from the unequal and oppressive
Estimate of the Value of Land which formed the Basis upon which
it was introduced?
Most unquestionably. The anxious Desire of the Officers of
Revenue to keep up the Revenue, at the Beginning, necessarily led
to a heavy Assessment in the End. Sir Thomas Munro's Plan,
the most moderate of all, was to take the Average of past Collections, and to divide it upon Districts, and then on Villages, leaving
the Villages to assess their own Fields; the Collector revising the
entire of the Assessment. I wish to explain, that in the Province
where Ryotwar was first attempted, where there was One European
Superintendent and Three Assistants, they being at that Time
Men of mature Age-for Sir Thomas Munro, when he entered on
that Service, was at the Age of Thirty-the Assessment of the
Three Subdivisions varied in the Degree of Three and a Half per
Cent. above the past Collections; in one, Twenty-nine and a Half;
in another, Thirty-six and a Half; the most moderate, it is due to
Sir Thomas Munro to say, was in his Division. The Rates were
not revised 'till the District was sold under the permanent Settlement. The Purchaser of those Estates had, it is understood, as
well from Necessity as Policy, reduced those Rates in the largest
Proportion of the Provinces over-assessed.
Supposing it to be practicable, from Experience, to arrive at a
just Estimate of the Average Value of the Land, do you still think
there are Districts to which, from the Circumstances of the Seasons,
a Ryotwarry Settlement would not be usefully applicable?
One great Objection of the Ryotwarry Plan arises from the
Interference with Village Concerns, and the Separation of the joint
Interests of the Ryots; that Interest is materially connected with
the Means of Irrigation. The Land is not so much the Question
of Interest as the Water, for without it, in the South-east Monsoon,
Land would be of very little Value; of course, in each Village the
Land that is nearest the Works of Irrigation is the most productive.
If a large Reservoir is only Three Quarters full one Year, or Half
another, it still will bring to Maturity the Crops immediately under
its Bank. Those Lands, therefore, instead of being the Property
of any one Person in the Village Community, are the joint Property of the whole Community; the Occupation of them is assigned
to the Community either annually or at Periods of Three or Four
Years, and is settled by Lots amongst themselves; so that a Portion
of that which is not liable to Drought, and that which is less liable
to Drought, and that which never fails, is allotted to each Class of
Cultivators, in proportion to his general Interest in the Village.
In all the Cases in which I was personally employed no such things
as Ryotwar had ever been heard of or applied for. I was present
at the making of a Three Years Village Lease in the Jaghire
Lands alluded to before; and I have made Village Settlements
myself upon the Produce of Two Years; the first being a Year of
comparative Drought, and the other a Year of short Produce. In
that Year a Tank Five Miles long and Fifteen Miles in Circumference, watering nominally Fifty Villages, but say Thirty Villages,
was completely dry, and the Bed of it sown with Indian Corn. I
know another Instance where the Lands of another Village produced in the Proportion of Seventy-four in one Year to Two
thousand five hundred in the next. Under these great Fluctuations, and under the Works that are to be performed in common
for preserving the Sources of Irrigation and the Means of Irrigation in repair, it seems extremely difficult to understand how the
Ryotwarry Assessment on the Field of the Individual, the Collection of it from each Cultivator, can be either acceptable or
beneficial to a Village Community so situate. In the Districts
above the Ghauts, to shew how distinct the Nature of the Cultivation is, the Hamlets attached to Villages are quadrupled and
quintupled the Number they are below the Ghauts, shewing that
the Inhabitants separate themselves upon Land that is not irrigated,
and carry on their Cultivation, as may naturally be supposed,
separate and distinct. Any Person who can procure a Plough, or
borrow one, can, above the Ghauts, under the superior Abundance of the South-west Monsoon Rains, cultivate a few Acres of
Land; but such is not the Case below the Ghauts. And it is very
rarely that the Government have succeeded in obtaining Persons
whom they have been desirous of pensioning; for instance, the
Nabob's Army when it was dismissed; the whole of them were
offered waste Land to cultivate, on what may be said to be their
own Terms; but I know not a single Instance where the Offer was
accepted. I merely mean to shew by this, that the Nature of Cultivation above and below the Ghauts is quite distinct even in its
Effects on the Return to the Cultivator; and that therefore, though
the Ryotwarry may be exceedingly applicable and probably beneficial in Districts above the Ghauts, it may be very doubtful
whether it is adapted to Provinces below the Ghauts; indeed so
much so, that I believe in the Province of Tanjore, one of the most
fertile under the Madras Government, and most productive possessed by Landed Proprietors, to use that Term as far as regards
the Ryots, who have a very valuable Property in the Land, and
have been always able to secure the Benefit of it, the Attempt at
Ryotwar has been abandoned, and the Village Leases, triennial or
quinquennial, have been substituted; but I am bound to say, that
in the Northern Division of Arcot, also a Part of the Carnatic, and
in the Southern Division, the Ryotwarry has been attempted, and
local Surveys, conducted in the Manner I have described, have
been reduced by subsequent Collectors; and it is understood, that
even in the irrigated Villages in those Districts Ryotwarry is considered by the Gentlemen who made those Reductions, and had
the Conduct of the Revenue Affairs of that Province, to be as well
adapted to that Province as any other; so that upon this Subject
there still exists a very great Difference of Opinion.
What are the Advantages of the Zemindarry System, as compared with the Ryotwar, as applicable to any particular District?
When the Company first acquired Territory, they found an
intermediate Agency existed every where. Wherever Territory
has been acquired by Conquest or by Cession, at a later Period,
that Agency has also existed; the Agency has in many Cases
been permanent, in others only temporary. In all the Provinces
acquired in Malwa, it is stated that the Revenue was collected
by intermediate Agents, under the Denomination of Jaghiredars,
or of Renters, as they are called, Farmers of the Revenue, many
of whom have continued for a long Period of Years under the
Native Government to hold the Land Revenue. There is, as
far as I have been able to trace from Investigation and from Inquiry,
no Evidence whatever of either the Hindoo or Mohamedan Government having collected the Land Revenue by Ryotwarry, that is,
by Means of their own stipendiary Officers. I have already stated,
that in the Madras Provinces Ryotwar was not practised' till the
Acquisition of Territory in 1799; that in the Northern Circars,
a Territory yielding from Twenty-five to Thirty Lacs of Pagodas,
it had been the uniform Practice to make Engagements with the
Zemindars; it became necessary therefore to consider whether it
was expedient to remove those Parties for any better System, or
to continue them in Possession. Few Persons doubted the Expediency of making a permanent System, which might supersede
the periodical annual Settlements which had been made with them.
Upon that Point there appears to have been very little Doubt.
But when it became a Question whether those Zemindarries should
be sold for Arrears, and those came into Possession of a Third
Party not originally Zemindars, the Principle came under Discussion, whether it would not be equally advisable to extend this
Mode of Settlement to other Territories, and to create Zemindars
where they did not exist, that is to say, to place a Landed Interest
between the Government and the Proprietor of the Soil; for,
admitting that the Ryots had the best Right to be called Proprietors, and that it was perhaps an Error to call the Zemindar
Proprietor, yet still we had abundant Evidence that there is a
beneficial Interest belonging to both Parties. We had numerous
Applications; and numerous Grants have been made to Civil,
Military and Commercial Native Officers in every Department of
the Government; and One, Two, Three and more Villages were
granted as a Reward for meritorious Services. It is evident, therefore, that it is a Property which Natives covet, and which they are
extremely desirous to possess. Those Grants have been made
without any other Stipulation in favour of the Ryots than that the
Grantees should deal justly towards them, previously to the Courts
of Justice being established, and by placing them under the Courts
since the Courts have been established. In the Province in which I
resided so many Years, there were at least Three hundred Villages
of this Description. I have every Reason to say, that they were
as well administered in their Revenue Capacity as those under
the European Collectors; and I might add, that the Ryots in
those Villages have been less harassed by the Changes which have
taken place under European Management than in the Villages
which have continued under the European Collectors and Superintendents. They have continued to pay their Revenue in Kind
or in Money, according to local Circumstances, to those created
Zemindars. In Principle, there can be no Distinction whether
One Village is placed under a Zemindar, or Ten, Thirty or an
Hundred are placed under another. It is therefore unjust to one
Village to place them in that Situation, or it is not unjust to place
the whole. In this Province of the Jaghire, there being no Zemindars, except in the Instance of Three hundred Villages I have
named, the District was divided into small Estates, consisting of
Ten, Twenty, Thirty, or according to the Number of Villages.
The Rights of Government in those small Estates were declared
to be transferrable to Parties who were to become Purchasers; the
Estates were put up to Sale; I was present at the Sale; I was
not in Authority at the Time; I went there as a Visitor; and I
saw great Competition, and an anxious Desire was shewn to
become possessed of this Landed Superiority, and much Competition was excited. A large Body of Ryots were present, with
great Numbers of whom I had, from long Residence in the
Country, been acquainted. I have not the least Recollection of
there being the slightest Complaint of the Government doing an
Act of Injustice by transferring them to the Authority of a Third
Party; or that they expected to suffer more Injustice from them,
or less Justice from them, than they had received from the European
Authority. Unfortunately, the Assessment, as in every other
Attempt which had been made at Madras, was too high. Most
of those Purchasers failed to perform their Contract, and many of
the Villages have come back into the Possession of the Government.
The Advantage, therefore, in this Case, was, the withdrawing the
European Collectors from all direct Interference with the Cultivators of the Soil; placing them under Persons of their own Habits
and Customs, capable of listening to their Complaints, and of
redressing them, it being their Interest so to do; and introducing
that System which has been in general Practice throughout India,
in the Advantages of a Third Party, a Judge, to decide between
them; and the Collector, if necessary, to add Weight to the
Decision, being no longer the Creator or Assessor of the Revenue;
and permitting the Management to be conducted according to the
mutual Interest of the Parties; declaring that the Purchaser had
no Right to levy any extra Rate of Demand, or any Addition to
existing Rates. Of course, under this Management, Native Servants
were to be employed, as well as under European Collectors, particularly if any of the Estates are extensive; but the Controul of
the Native Servants would be under the Superintendence of a
Native, accustomed to their Habits, knowing their Practices; and
in small Estates it enabled the Parties to employ their own Relatives
in the Collection of the Revenue; it permitted Commercial Men,
Natives as well as Europeans, to negociate with such intermediate
Persons for the Introduction of any other Culture than that of
edible Grain; it permitted all Parties who might possess Money,
whether acquired by Trade or any other Means, or even Native
Servants who might have obtained Money by improper Practices,
to invest Money in those Landed Superiorities. Those were considered Advantages which counterbalanced any of the Evils which
were supposed to arise out of the Question. The Evils are
certainly not few, but they have arisen in a greater measure from
the Errors which have arisen in the making of Settlements than in
the Principle itself, and it has happened in every one, whether
permanent Grants to the Zemindar, or Village Leases, or Ryotwar,
-One Circumstance has pervaded them all -they have all failed
upon that Ground chiefly. The great Question is, which is best
calculated to effect the Object of good Government. The Evils of
Over-assessment have led to much public Correspondence, arising
out of the Sale and Sequestration; the Estates are liable to be
subdivided for the Liquidation of private Debt under Decrees of
Courts of Justice, and certain other Causes incidental to the
Management of them when they come under the Hands of the
Collector, or when the Collector sold, under the then existing
Settlement. It was the Principle of a permanent Settlement with
the Zemindars, to take Two Thirds of the gross Collections in
Money of the previous Year as a Standard; but it was not
permitted to the Zemindars to point out how injuriously that might
affect their Interests as far as regarded the Change in local Circumstances, and so forth; there was no Third Party appointed as a
Referree. The Evils that have arisen under the permanent
Settlement may be obviated, should that be a System which is
declared to be the best to be adopted, hereafter. Other Objections
are made to it, as closing the Door to the Attainment of Revenue
Information, leaving the Collectors in the Dark when they have
any Duty to perform, or in respect of any Estate or Zemindarry
that may fall into their Hands. This is certainly true, but it does
not necessarily follow that it should be so, for there cannot be the
least Difficulty in carrying on Surveys under the Zemindarry
Settlement as well as any other. No Objection would be made
by a Zemindar to a Survey being made of his Territory, or it
might be provided for in the first Instance; all that he would
object to would be, that you should not interfere with him in the
Assessment of his Ryots, or the Alteration of the Demand Government had made upon him. The Abandonment of the permanent
Settlement being resolved on -positive Orders exist that it should
no longer be attempted-it is not perhaps of great Importance to
say more upon the Subject. I wish to add, that the Zemindarry
System is supposed to be preferable in Lands that are liable
to great Fluctuations, from the Money Contract being upon a
greater Scale, and in most Cases supposed to be made, or at any
Rate able to be made, with Persons of Capital, which no Ryot,
either under the Ryotwar or a Village Lease, can possibly possess.
It also enables the Individual to controul Circumstances of Remission, in Cases of Drought, with much greater Success than the
European Offiers can; and it must be evident that any Contract in
Money, with whomsoever made, must be liable, more or less, to
the Circumstances of Season and of Drought to a great Extent;
and though under the permanent Settlement it was not intended
that Remission should be granted, except in very peculiar Circumstances, yet as far as regards the Cultivators themselves, it would
be absolutely necessary that those Remissions should be annual or
periodical, to a certain Extent, in almost every Province. It was
also thought that the Works of Irrigation would be better looked
after, and better managed, under Individuals, whose Interest was
so materially connected with them, than under the Officers of
Government; that the Abuses which had been practised in carrying
those Repairs into Execution, with the Frauds committed in the
Advances of Money to aid Cultivation, where they had been made
to poor Ryots, would be rendered unnecessary on the Part of
Government; at least that the Frauds and Embezzlements in
Repairs to which Government had been subjected while carrying
them on under the Controul of their own Officers would also be
prevented. For these and many other Reasons, following up the
Principles laid down by the Bengal Government, and the Court of
Directors and Authorities in England, at One Time, it was considered desirable to extend this System generally. It has its Evils
-it has its Good.
Have the Zemindars been in general found possessed of sufficient
Capital to do Justice to the Advantages of the Zemindarry System,
as affording the Means of meeting the Changes arising from the
Inclemency of the Seasons?
Zemindars, in the old Territories of Madras, must be taken in
the Light of Princes; they were Rajahs; they were brought up in
all the Pomp and Ceremony of a Petty Court; they were certainly
not the best calculated for a good Revenue Administration, but
they were not fit for any other Administration; and, after all, it
was necessary to continue them. Where the Estates were settled,
or where the Zemindars were created, those who bought them, or
had them conferred upon them, knew perfectly well what they undertook, and were perfectly competent to the Management of them;
so far then -I do not mean to say that the Zemindars hereditary
and Zemindars by Purchase have not occasionally been guilty of
Oppression, or that they have not occasionally mismanaged their
Districts -but I mean to say that, generally speaking, when
People have understood their own Interests, they have in general
followed that Course of Measures which was likely to promote it.
I can only speak from Hearsay; but with all the Errors of the
Bengal System, I believe the Southern Provinces, so far as I have
been able to learn, are in a flourishing Condition, far superior to
any of the Territory under the Madras Government, both as
regards the Produce and the internal Commerce and Export of
the Produce of the Soil. So far as regards the Northern Circars,
the Success, with reference to the Revenue, the Tranquillity,
Reduction of the Troops, and the Power of Collectorial Interference
with Ryots, has been eminently successful; and in progress of
Time, when a better educated Race of Men rise to the Management of their Patrimonial Estates, I look forward to very satisfactory
Results. In Three large Western Zemindarries, settled in 1802,
there has been, so far as I have been able to learn, no Default of
Payment whatever, nor any vexatious Interference with the
internal Management of the Country, nor any Complaints made,
more loud or unusual than in other Parts, of Oppression on the
Part of those great Western Zemindars.
Can you state whether the respective Merits of the different
Revenue Settlements are the Subject of frequent Consideration
among the Natives themselves, and whether the more intelligent
give a Preference, with reference to their own Condition, and the
Improvement of their Property?
One of the great Difficulties which attend a just Consideration
of these important Questions arises out of the little Communication
which had been had with the Natives on the Subject. They were
not asked whether they liked Ryotwar, and certainly were not
asked whether they liked Zemindars better, or a Village Lease,
except in the Case of Tanjore; there the Committee, of which
I was one, did apply to the Natives, to know whether they would
prefer Village Lease to Ryotwar, and they gave the Preference to
Village Lease. In those Cases where I have had personal Communication with them, I have Reason to know that in all irrigated
Lands they would prefer paying the Revenue they owed according
to the Hindoo Practice. I also know that great Difficulties did
oppose the Introduction of Payment in Grain or Payment in Kind
in those Provinces where Ryotwar was first attempted, such as the
Countries ceded by Tippoo in 1799, and The Nizam in 1800; but
those Difficulties were of course removed by the Collector not
permitting any other Course of Assessment to prevail. I believe
that in all the Cases where it has been optional with the Parties,
they have uniformly preferred the Payment in Kind to the Payment
in Money; but I am bound to explain that this Objection probably
has been chiefly founded upon the high Rate of Demand in Money,
rather than a Reluctance to pay in Money. It is not improbable
the Money Payment might be so much reduced as to make it
acceptable to all Classes. The Question then would be narrowed
into, whether it should be an Assessment individually, or whether
it should be by Villages collectively; and if it were left optional
also, and left to the Consideration of the Natives, the Question
would be still further simplified; and we should proceed, leaving
it entirely optional, for that would be the true Ground of Assessment
-entirely optional with the Parties to accept the Terms proposed
to them, or on their Refusal to pay collecting agreeably to the previously established Rates. Were such a Course pursued, we should
be sure we were not doing an Act of Injustice. When the Terms
were accepted, it would then only resolve itself into the Practicability of the Payment in Kind enduring with any sort of Justice
under the great Fluctuations of Produce, the great Diminutions of
Commercial Capital, and other Causes, which have reduced the
Value of Produce under the Madras Presidency.
Which of the Systems has been found most favourable to the
Introduction of a new Species of Culture, and to the Promotion of
internal Commerce and Exchange of Commodities?
I do not think that any of the Systems have had a sufficient
Trial to enable me to speak decidedly on that Point; and unfortunately the Attempts at the Introduction hitherto of a new Species
of Culture have not been attended with very great Success. I have
a List which I prepared some Time ago of the Attempts which
were made. The Result is, that an Attempt was made in 1796 to
1803 to introduce the Culture of Sugar, under some Gentlemen,
in the Ganjam Province; the Result was unsatisfactory; in fact,
as far as it has hitherto gone, both for Silk and for Cotton, and
other Things, all the Attempts hitherto made for an Alteration in
the Nature of the Culture have not been attended with Success,
with the single Exception of the Cultivation of Bourbon Cotton in
the Province of Tinnivelly. In that Province, owing to favourable
Circumstances of Soil and Climate, a considerable Extent of
Ground is cultivated with superior Seed received from the Isle of
France; but the Climate has opposed the Extension of the Culture
of that Article. I should say, so far as my humble Opinion went,
that the Zemindarry System was better calculated than any other,
for the Introduction of the Culture of any Exotic, or introducing
a better Species of Cultivation through the Means of Capital, to be
employed either by Europeans or by rich Natives, inasmuch as much
greater Facility would be afforded in conducting the Arrangement
with the Zemindars than there would be with the Native Officers of
the Collector, or with the Collector himself. Indigo, although
cultivated under the Madras Presidency to a certuin Extent, is not
an Article that has been attempted in every Part, or very generally; whether it might or might not, would depend entirely on the
Views that Individuals might take upon the Subject; but certainly
their Arrangements would be materially facilitated if they had to
make their Agreements for Land, or with the Cultivators of the
Land, unshackled by Arrangements with Revenue Officers in the
Pay of Government. It does not follow that a Gentleman might
not give considerable Encouragement, and might not facilitate, in
certain Cases; but speaking generally, I should say that the
Natives would prefer negociating with Natives for Land for those
Purposes, to undertaking it under the Controul of a Collector.
This is a List of Instances where, under the Madras Territory,
Attempts have been made to cultivate Silk, Cotton, Cochineal and
other Articles, during the Time I was in India.
The Witness delivers in the same; which is read, and is as
Presidency of Fort St. George.
||Nature, Extent and Object of Grant.
||Between 1796 and 1803
||Grant of Land for the Erection of Sugar Works, to Messrs. Smith and Colley, reverted to a Mr. Dick. The making of Rum tried; Sugar was not cultivated by these Gentlemen; the Cane was bought.
||1800 to 1803
||A Lease of Two Pergunnahs, containing many Villages, to Major Evans, Superintendent of the Company's Stud, to facilitate the breeding of Horses. Cocoa Nut Plantations on a great Scale were tried. Major Evans was here a Farmer of Revenue, or European Zemindar.
||Unsatisfactory, as regarded the breeding of Horses and rearing Cocoa Nuts.
||A Lease of many Villages to Messrs. Campbell and Keating, for the Cultivation and Manufacture of Indigo, &c. These Gentlemen were European Zemindars during the Period of their Lease.
||Unsatisfactory, as regarded Indigo.
||A Grant of Land to Dr. Roxburgh, near Samulcottah, for Sugar Plantations and Exotics. This Grant was not of any great Extent, and did not include the Superiority over any Native Village. Pepper tried, I believe.
||Unsatisfactory, and abandoned.
||Various Grants of small Plots of Ground were made in these and the Provinces named above, for the Creation of Mulberry and Opuntia Gardens, for the rearing of Silk Worms and of the Cochineal Insect.
||Unsatisfactory, as regarded Silk and Cochineal.
|Nellorre and Ongole.
||1801 to 1804
||Grant of Privilege to work Copper Mines, to Captain Ashton, H.M. 12th Regt.
||Unsatisfactory, as regarded Copper.
||Grant of Land (Part endowed Land of a Pagoda at Vulloor) to Mr. Popham, for the Cultivation of Bourbon Cotton and Mulberry Plants; not a Grant of Village Superiorities.
||Transferred to Mr. W. Webb, who tried Rope-making from the Alve.
||Grant of Land to make Mulberry Plantations, to Mr. Robt. Wolfe and to several Natives.
N.B.-In all Cases of Grants of Land, (not being entire Villages,) the Possession and Occupation of the Land was obtained for Buildings and Plantations for Mulberry Trees by private Agreements made with the Cultivators.
||Large Occupation of Land at Vellout, Fifteen Miles from Madras, under a Company's Superintendent, for a Mulberry Garden and Silk Filature. Expensive Works erected.
||Grant of Land and Lease of Villages to Messrs. Roebuck and Abbot, for the Cultivation of Indigo, &c. Expensive Works erected. Much Correspondence with the Collectors and the Government.
||Nursery for Trees and Bamboos on an extensive Scale, by the Collectors at Parambaucum.
||Grant of Land to establish a Weaving Village, &c. to Mr. Jordan near St. Thomas Mount, Fifteen or Twenty Miles from Madras.
|Cuddalore, South Arcot
||1802 to 1805
||Grant of Land for a Sugar Manufactory, to Mr. Campbell.
||Failure, as regarded Sugar.
N.B.-Not certain whether the Sugar Cane was cultivated by Mr. Campbell or purchased from the Natives.
||Grant of Land for the rearing of Exotics, and experimental Agriculture and Horticulture, to Mr. Meyther.
||Grant of Lands for Indigo Works.
||Grant of Lands for Indigo Works.
||1793 to 1808
||Establishment, under Commercial Resident, of Plantations of Cinnamon and Nutmegs, and Coffee Plantations. Introduction of the Cultivation of Bourbon Cotton. The Bourbon Cotton has succeeded; the Cinnamon and Coffee Culture has been abandoned. The Bourbon Cotton cannot be greatly extended; the Plant thriving only either in a peculiar Soil or Climate: the latter most likely.
||Successful, as regards Cotton; abandoned, as regards Cinnamon, Coffee and Nutmegs, owing to the Acquisition of Ceylon.
||Grant of Land to Mr. Young, Son-in-Law to Dr. Anderson, and afterwards to Mr. Hughes, for Cultivation of Cotton Manufacture, of Indigo, &c.
||Failure as regards Mr. Young, Mr. Hughes going on.
||A Lease of Village and Grant of Land to Mr. Murdock Brown, for various Purposes; rearing of Pepper, &c. Entailed much Correspondence and Discusion.
||Successful, it is believed, asconcerned Mr. Brown.
||Grant for the Erection of a Saw Mill, and Advances on the Company's Account by Governor Duncan.
||Failure, with much Loss.
Experiments: successful Efforts of Europeans.
||The Introduction of the Potatoe into Mysore. It has become an Article of Export to Madras and elsewhere.
||The Introduction of the Apple, Peach, Strawberry and other Fruits.
||1818 to 1820
||Introduction of European Fruits, &c. on the Mountains of Nalgony.
||The Introduction of Bourbon Cotton.
|Arcot and other Provinces
||1800 to 1805
||The Manufacture of Indigo in an improved Process from the cold Infusion.
||The Introduction of all sorts of Articles manufactured in Tin; now a most extensive Native Manufacture in every large Town.
||A Canal dug by Mr. Cochrane, opening a Communication between Madras and Pulicut, highly successful.
||The Improvement in stamping instead of painting of Cotton Goods, and Introduction of improved Patterns.
||An Improvement in the Manufacture of Steel.
||The Cultivation of Coffee is spreading in Mysore and Bengal, it is said.
||The Cultivation of Oats in Bengal and Behar.
N.B.-The Occupation of Land and Farms of Land Revenue by Europeans increases the Public Correspondence with Judges and Magistrates, Collectors and the Government; but I am not aware that under any of the Grants and Leases enumerated in this List the European Grantees were oppressive Superiors. Their Native Servants, like a Collector's Native Servant, occasionally domineered and oppressed, and were perhaps able to conceal their Oppressions from their Master 'till Complaint was made to a higher Authority.
||Silk at Bungalore.
||Indigo in Tanjore, Salem and Tondiman's Country.
Can you suggest any Regulations under which the Growth of any
Foreign Articles of Produce might be more effectually encouraged
than it is at present?
The best Encouragement, I think, would be to leave the Parties
to settle themselves the Terms on which the Land should be cultivated or should be procured, or to facilitate the Object of it by
the Removal of Inland and Export Duties on the Article.
Would not the Settlement of a greater Number of Europeans,
possessed of Capital, in the Country, tend to the increased Growth
of other Produce?
I should certainly think the only Chance there is of much
increased Growth taking place would be the Introduction of
increased Capital, or Europeans setting the Example with the
Introduction of increased Capital.
Should you apprehend any Influence to arise, as connected either
with the Peace of the Country or the Happiness of the Natives,
from an increased Settlement of Europeans for those Purposes?
None whatever, provided the Europeans were placed under
adequate Controul, and were made amenable to local Laws for Cases
not amounting to that which will bring them under the Jurisdiction
of the King's Courts. Foreigners, not being British Subjects, are
at this Time amenable to the local Courts; and the only Question
would be as to the Number. I conclude, that in the first instance
their Establishment must be very gradual. Of course, no Person,
such as an Artisan or Labourer, or Person without Capital, can
find Employment in any other Way than by superintending the
Works of others.
Do you know of any Instance in which Europeans have settled
in the Madras Territory?
Yes, I know of some; they are enumerated there.
Is there a favourable or an unfavourable Feeling generally
prevalent among the Natives towards European independent
I should say that the Number of those Settlers under the
Madras Presidency bears no Proportion to those under Bengal. I
do not know that at this Moment there is a single Settler in any of
the Provinces under Madras, or that the Number exceeds Three
or Four, at any Rate. There were Grants of Land, which may be
called European Zemindarries, granted for the Cultivation of
Indigo; and Parcels of Land granted for the Cultivation of the
Mulberry for Silk, as enumerated in the List I have delivered in.
There was also a Grant of Land for the Cultivation of Bourbon
Cotton. It was obtained by Purchase from the Inhabitants of the
Village; and what is singular, the Revenue on the Land belonged
to the Temple of the Village; the Right of the Government therefore had to be purchased from the Officer of the Temple for the
Time, and from the Cultivator of the Soil also. This Land, from
the Abandonment of the Project, reverted as Revenue to the
Temple, and the Land to the Cultivator. Disputes and Correspondence with the Collector, and with the Board, and with Government, did certainly take place to some Extent with those European
Settlers; but I am not aware that it can be said, generally, that
the Natives had any Objection to be placed in communication with
Europeans, in Cases where they are under adequate Controul, or
where they are Men of Education, and disposed, as they are in most
Cases, to do Justice to all around them.
Are you of Opinion that Natives might not be more generally
employed, and in Offices of a higher Description, than they are,
both in the Administration of Justice and the Collection of the
Certainly. I think that Natives may be gradually made fit for
Employments in the higher Situations of Revenue, Judicial, Commercial and even Political. To a certain Extent, the Experiment
has been tried, since the Regulations of 1816, of extending the
Jurisdiction of the District Judges, with much Success. A further
Experiment has been tried, of creating a Native Judge in the Town
of Seringapatam, where an European Judge formerly presided; and
I have no doubt that the Result will be satisfactory, wherever the
Selection is properly made. There must be occasional Disappointment, no doubt; but unless a Commencement is made, no favourable Progress or Result can be expected. When I state this I also
wish to state, that in the Revenue Department I should consider
that a Native is quite as fit to be the Administrator of a Province,
and of his own Concerns, as he was to be employed in those Situations of the Judicial Department; that consequently there appears,
in my humble Opinion, a great Inconsistency in advocating, that in
the Revenue Department no Man shall become possessed of a Territory, or have the Management of a Territory; that all our Institutions shall be Ryotwar, and all Money Revenue collected by
means of stipendiary Servants. It would follow, that a Man, being
capable of judging on the private Fortunes of others, and competent,
in a Criminal Case, to act as a Juror, or probably in the higher
Office of a Criminal Judge in minor Cases, was not fit to be trusted
with the Management of Twenty or Thirty Villages as his own
Property, without Fear of his oppressing those under him, or being
guilty of Acts of Extortion and Injustice. I am therefore of
Opinion, that it would be wise to promote the Natives to Offices of
higher Trust in every Department, gradually, and under due
Selections made for the Purpose. There is a College established
at Madras for the Purpose of educating Pleaders in the Courts of
Law, Officers and Pundits, and examining all those who are Candidates for Office in all those Laws. I think I have heard that it
is intended to extend it to Revenue Officers to be employed in the
Interior. Advantages have resulted from it in the Judicial Departments, and I have no doubt the Benefits may be made much more
What Education would you give in the College to the Persons
intended for the Revenue Department?
When I stated that I believed it had been extended to the Revenue Department, I spoke from Hearsay. I do not myself know
what Objects the Promoters of the Plan of Extension have in view;
but I should say, that the great Outline and leading Principles of
Revenue Administration might be laid down to Natives in the
College, and the Necessity of departing from the Practices of the
Native Government be pointed out; that the Object of the Government was to protect the Ryots under all Circumstances, and to
make Justice a superior Consideration to Revenue: but so far as
regards the Details of Revenue Management of the Country, they
can be acquired only in the Interior Provinces.
The Instructions in the College would therefore be moral, not
At what Period did you make this Paper of the Experiments of
It was made at the Request of a Director, about Six or Eight
Months ago, and I applied for it back again the other Day.
Have you any Information as to the Presidency of Madras,
which would enable you to speak upon this Subject, subsequently
to the Year 1805?
I quitted Madras in 1820; that is the latest Period to which I
can speak; but I do not know of any Experiments, except an
Indigo Plantation formed in the small Province of Tondamar, a
small District excluded from all Jurisdiction of our Courts of
Justice. There is a Manufacture of Indigo carrying on there, I am
told, by an Individual. I believe that is the latest. That is the
only one I personally know of.
Subsequently to the Year 1805, there appear to have been only
Two Grants to Individuals for the Purpose of Experiment on Cultivation, one in Malabar in the Year 1808, to a Mr. Murdoch
Brown, another in the Year 1812, in Barramahal, for Indigo
Works; are you aware whether there have been any other Lands
granted, except in those Two Cases, during the last Twenty-five
I should say not; even the Applications have been very limited.
Are you aware of any Applications having been made and
No; I rather believe that when they were made there has been
no Reluctance that I am aware of; indeed, in the Southern Provinces, for the Cultivation of Cotton, there has been a Grant made
in Tinnivelly to a Mr. Hughes, that has been extended, I believe,
and he has since become the Contractor for the Supply of Bourbon
Cotton in that Province, and the Commercial Residency has been
Can you say that any of the Land that had been thrown out of
Cultivation, which was peculiarly liable to suffer from Fluctuation
of Season, is under the Zemindarry System?
Yes, a great deal; almost all the Lands under the Zemindarry
System are below the Ghauts, and therefore all irrigated Lands, to
a certain Extent; not the whole, but a Proportion, are liable to a
Fluctuation under the South-east Monsoon.
What has been the comparative Result of the Ryotwar System
and the Zemindarry System, with respect to the Persons it affected?
I have endeavoured to explain, in the former Part of my Evidence, that the Ryotwar in the first instance was exceedingly ill
done; that it was conducted without specific Rules, without specific
Laws, or without the People being first adequately under the Protection of the Law. So far then, as I have stated, the Effect of the
Ryotwar had been extremely injurious; but I wish at the same
Time to add, that I believe the necessary Consequence of the
Ryotwar, if well conducted, as I have illustrated in one small
Province, has been attended with extremely beneficial Results to
the People. I am therefore only desirous to draw the Attention
of the Committee to the general Principles of the Two, that a
Third Party should decide between the conflicting Opinions which
exist among the Civil Servants of The East India Company, which
of the Two Systems possessed the soundest Principles in themselves,
not only as regards Revenue but the internal Government of the
What has been the Result of your own Opinion on the most
improved System of each, since the Period they have been commenced by Government; whether beneficial in the Places where
the Ryotwar System has been established, or in those Parts of the
Country where a Zemindarry Establishment had been made?
Both Systems having been very badly established under the
Madras Presidency, great Evils have followed from both. Overassessment has been the Case in both Systems. The Zemindars
have suffered under the Zemindarry System; but the Ryots have
not suffered under the Zemindarry System the same as they have
under the Ryotwar System, where that System was badly introduced.
Has not the Result of the Zemindarry System been to bring a
vast Quantity of Land that was in the Possession of the Zemindars
Considerably. It was the necessary Consequence of Overassessment, that the Land should be sequestrated when the Revenue
could not be paid.
Can you state what Proportion that has been in that Part of the
Madras Presidency where that System has prevailed?
The total Amount that was permanently settled amounted to
Twenty-eight Lacs of Pagodas; but I cannot state the Quantity
sold. Nearly the whole of the Jaghire sold under the permanent
System has reverted to the Company, owing to the exorbitant
Amount of the permanent Assessment.
You stated one of the Objections to the Union of the Power of
the Collector and the Zillah Court was, that there was a Want of
a Third Party to whom Reference could be made, which was a
Court of Justice?
Do you recollect that one of the great Objects of making that
Arrangement with respect to the Union of those Two Powers was,
that the Courts of Justice to which the Ryots could previously
appeal were found quite insufficient for their Protection?
I have heard that stated, certainly, and it has been very generally
stated so in Bengal; but that certainly was not the Case at Madras.
Either the People, from long Experience of European Character,
or some other Cause, had found their Way to the Court; and I
think that the Instances I have stated shew that they knew where to
appeal when they were oppressed.
Were not the Courts found, in many Instances, in the Madras
Territory, insufficient to defend the Ryots from Over-assessment
and undue Collections, from the Poverty of the Persons, and from
their Apprehension of incurring Resentment by appealing to the
Certainly not, at Madras, to any Extent to deserve a general
Answer: that particular Instances have occurred there is no doubt,
but not to deserve a general Answer in the affirmative.
Was not that one of the Grounds on which Sir Thomas Munro
placed that Separation?
It was so; he pledged himself, before the Courts were established,
that that would be so. It was stated by one Party, that we had
established Courts of Justice to which the People would not go; it
was stated by another Party, that the People would be drawn to the
Courts on all Occasions, and the Cultivation would suffer; it has
been stated, that a great Inconvenience has arisen from letting in a
Torrent of Arrears, consequently that the Courts of Justice, instead
of taking up the Administration of Justice from the Period at which
they were appointed, were over-burthened with Arrears. In these
Three Propositions there is somewhat of Inconsistency; because, if
there had been an Administration of Justice before the Courts had
existed to any beneficial Purpose, there would have been no Arrear.
Then, if we had created Courts to which the People would not go,
there would have been no subsequent Business; the Appeals would
have soon been disposed of. Then, if the Administration of Justice
cannot take place when the People are under Zemindars, how can
Justice be administered when the Ryots are placed under the
Controul of subordinate Native Officers?
The Ground upon which the Question proceeded, was not a
Supposition that the Administration of Justice did not take place at
all with respect to Ryots, but that it did not take place very
beneficially for their Protection?
I meant, that the Administration of Justice is insufficient for the
Protection of the Ryots, both under the one and under the other;
but I think it will gradually lessen itself.
You stated, that the Assessment under the Ryotwar Settlement
had been one of the great Defects of that System?
Do you recollect the Result of it at first, under Sir Thomas
Are you aware of any Means so effectual, for ascertaining the
Capabilities of the Country to pay Revenue, as the Ryotwar
System, supposing it to be well applied?
It is certainly well calculated to discover the Resources of a
Country, from a Survey of every District to form a Record of
Assessment and Collection; it did not follow, that because the
Revenue Survey was necessary, to discover the Extent of the Land,
under the Village System, and the general Resources of the
Country from the actual Collections, that it was necessary to alter
the Assessment that might have happened to pre-exist. The
Assessments were on certain Principles; they might have been
modified, and the Survey gone on; but in the Ryotwar was
introduced the distinct and predominant Feature of assessing all in
Money-assessing each Field, and the whole collected by the
Officer of Government, and no intermediate Agent.
Was not it Sir Thomas Munro's Plan to establish the Ryotwar
System in the first instance, for the Purpose of ascertaining the
Capabilities of the Country, and afterwards with the avowed
Intention of reducing the Assessment Twenty-five per Cent?
Certainly; it was his Object to reduce it in all Cases.
Then the Ryotwar System was carried into Effect according to
his Advice and under his View, but the Reductions were not
subsequently made; they were sold before the proper Reductions?
No; that District has not been sold; no Ryotwar District has
been sold, except one.
He proceeded with that Intention?
Do you think, supposing that Reduction had been carried into
Effect, they would have been too highly assessed?
In Money, certainly. I consider that in the Fluctuations of
Price the Reduction of Twenty-five per Cent. will not meet the
Fall in Price; and during the Time that the Triennial Leases,
which were substituted, perhaps improvidently, in those Provinces,
during Sir Thomas's Absence in England, the Result was, the
Renters themselves greatly reduced Sir Thomas Munro's Rates;
and though I learnt at a subsequent Time that the Twenty-five
per Cent. was ordered, that will not, I fear, meet the Reduction in
the Prices of edible Grain throughout the Presidency.
The Intention of Sir Thomas Munro was a Reduction to bring it
to the Ability of the People to pay?
Yes; the only Question is, whether the Money Price can stand
You stated that there were some Alterations made under the
express Directions of the Government at Home?
That was under a Dispatch that went out in the Year 1813?
About that Time.
Was not the Purport of that Dispatch in order to make use of the
Punchayets to a much greater degree than they had previously been
Has that been carried into Effect?
To what Extent?
It formed Part of the original Question; but it was Sir Thomas
Munro's Opinion, that the Forms and Machinery of the Regulations
greatly impeded its Establishment, and rendered it nugatory. The
Result was, that in his amended Code he introduced other Regulations, which he thought fitter for the Purpose. The Result of that
has not been satisfactory; but that Part of it which went to transfer
the Native Commissioners for the deciding of Suits into District
Judges, with fixed Salaries, has been attended with very good
How far would the Modification of Punchayets to the Form of
Juries be beneficial, in your Opinion, to the Administration of
Justice in India?
In the Province in which I was placed in early Life there was no
Provision for the Administration of Justice. I was directed on all
Occasions to adopt the Principle of the Punchayets; and I so
instructed others, when the Superior Native Officers were directed to
use their Influence to refer Cases to Punchayet before the Parties
came to the Collector. I have been called out to write a Letter, to
go down to the Government Office, while investigating some Claim
as to Landed Property. I used my utmost Endeavours to make the
Punchayet efficient. I do not mean to say there were great Efforts
made for the drawing up Regulations, as have been since done, but it
was attempted to make the greatest possible Use of them; but I am
bound to say the Result was exceedingly unsatisfactory, both to the
People and to myself. I could seldom get the People to accept it, and
when they did accept it, it generally came back with Two Decisions,
one by one Half of the Punchayet, and the other by the other Half,
with very often Charges of Corruption of one Party against the other;
and I have often met with Cases of Punchayets with Decrees never
carried into Effect under the proper Authorities. I do not mean to
say, that under an Improvement this Judicature, if established on
better Principles, may not be made an effective Instrument, and be
usefully employed where they have not ultimately to decide in Courts
both Civil and Criminal.
In your Opinion, are the Natives better satisfied with the Decisions
they receive from the Native Officers, or from Europeans?
Undoubtedly from Europeans. Their uniform Language is,
"We are here; pray decide it; do not send us to a Third Party."
But whenever there is an Appeal from the Decision, it is absolutely
necessary, to prevent Delay, that there should be Native Instruments
employed in the first instance.
Supposing the same Case might be decided by an European or by
a Native Jurisdiction; which Decision would they be most satisfied
I should say an European decidedly; though I have not been in
the Judicial Department myself.
Do you think it would be a Benefit to the Administration of
Justice, if there were a Native Juror, not exactly in the Shape of a
Punchayet, but under the Superintendence of an European Judge?
I should say certainly the Experiment might be tried in those
Districts where intelligent Natives might be procured to try Matters
of Fact. The Trial of Native Soldiers by Native Officers in the
Army proceeds pretty much upon the same Principle; a Body of
Natives assemble to try Natives; and they might there, as they do
here, try the Fact.
Do you happen to be acquainted with the Manner in which they
have introduced the Trial by Jury in Ceylon?
No, I am not, except by Conversation.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next,