Affairs of the East India Company: Minutes of evidence, 02 April 1830

Pages 1035-1039

Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].

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In this section

Die Veneris, 2 Aprilis 1830.


The Lord President in the Chair.

Thomas Harvey Baber Esquire is called in, and makes the following Statement:

If I had introduced the first Trial by Jury at the first Quarter Sessions A.D. 1828, as was designed by the Acting Governor, I should have submitted a few Alterations in the Regulation; but those Alterations were not submitted to Government, because of there being a stop put to the Regulation, as before mentioned.

In what material Particulars did you propose that any Alteration should be made?


The 8th Section of the Regulation in question provides, that, immediately on Receipt of the Circuit Judge's Precept, the Circuit Judge shall take by Lot the Names of the intended Number of Jurors; but in drawing the Lots he shall exclude the Names of all Persons who had been summoned to serve on a Jury at any Time within Two Years, unless the required Number cannot be otherwise obtained than by including them; so that no Man, except in the Case of Necessity, shall be summoned to serve on a Jury oftener than Once in Two Years." My proposed Modification would have been as follows: - "Immediately on Receipt of the Circuit Judge's Precept, the Criminal Judge shall select the intended Number of Jurors, with reference, as much as may be practicable, to the Castes of the Prisoners to be tried, with a view to counteract any undue Bias from Religious or Caste Prejudices for or against the Prisoner, provided that no Man, except in Case of Necessity, shall be summoned to serve on a Jury oftener than Once in Two Years." In the 20th Section of the same Regulation it is provided, that "it shall not be requisite to reduce any of the Evidence into the Persian Language. In Trials not referable to the Foujdarry Adawlut, the presiding Judge may dispense altogether with written Depositions, and in lieu thereof place upon Record his own Notes of the Evidence. In Cases referable to the Court of Foujdarry Adawlut, the Evidence for the present shall be taken down in the current Language of the District; but a Discretion is hereby vested in that Court to dispense therewith, and to admit in lieu thereof the Notes of the presiding Judge of Circuit, whenever they shall deem the same to be expedient." For which I proposed to substitute this: "The presiding Judge may dispense with written Examinations, so far as to substitute in lieu thereof the Substance of the Evidence in the current Language of the Country, which shall be read over to the Witnesses in open Court, in order that its Correctness may be ascertained from themselves." In the 27th Section it is provided, that, "should the Judge of Circuit consider the Verdict not sufficiently specific, either with reference to the Value of the Property stolen, to any Aggravation, or other peculiar Circumstances charged in the Indictment, which under the Regulations of the Mohamedan Law would affect the Sentence to be pronounced, or should he deem the Verdict otherwise defective, objectionable or contrary to Evidence, he shall remand the Jury to amend their Verdict, first explaining his Reason for objecting to it; but if the Jury persist in their Verdict it shall be conclusive, unless a new Trial shall be ordered, under Section 29." My Idea was to omit that Part which commences with, "which under the Regulations or Mohamedan Law would affect the Sentence to be pronounced, or should be deem the Verdict otherwise defective, objectionable or contrary to the Evidence." And also to omit the concluding Part, beginning with, "but if the Jury persist it shall be conclusive, unless a new Trial shall be ordered, under Section 29." Section 29 consequently called for considerable Alteration. The original Section stands thus: "If in any Case the presiding Judge of Circuit shall be of Opinion that the Jury have returned a Verdict contrary to the Evidence, and the Jury, after being remanded, persist in their Verdict, the presiding Judge shall transmit an English Translation of the Proceedings held, or an authenticated Copy of his own Notes, according as the Deposition may or may not have been recorded, to the Foujdarry Adawlut; and that Court shall have Power, provided they concur in his Opinion, to order a new Trial. The Verdict of the second Jury shall in all Cases be final." My proposed Alteration was to omit that Part, "and the Jury, after being remanded, persist in their Verdict, the presiding Judge shall transmit," &c. &c. and to say, "the presiding Judge shall have the Power to order a new Trial." In Sections 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 16, 31, 32, 33 (to be omitted altogether) and 34, there would be required some trifling Alterations, but the above mentioned are those of most Importance.

Had Mr. Ogilvie been employed in both the Territorial and Judicial Lines?

I believe he had; but I am not acquainted with his History. I recollect his holding Two Situations; first, of Master of the Mint, and afterwards a Judge of the Sudder Adawlut.

Do you know whether many Persons who have been in the Situation of Slaves on the Coast of Malabar have become Proprietors of Estates?

I believe there are Two Instances; but they are peculiar. Generally speaking, they are not permitted to hold Land. Their Owners lay claim to every thing that they do or may possess.

Had you any Opportunity of becoming acquainted with the Inhabitants of any other Part of Hindostan besides the District of Malabar?

Yes; the Southern Mahratta Country, lying between the Kisna and the Toongbudra Rivers.

Do you think that the Natives of the Malabar Coast were more strict Observers of Truth than the other Inhabitants of Hindostan whom you had an Opportunity of observing?

Certainly; decidedly so.

To what Cause do you attribute that?


To their keen Sense of Honour, and high Notions, and Spirit of Independence. An extraordinary Instance of the former occurred in a Trial which came before me. A Female of the Nair Caste had cohabited with a Relation within what they call the prohibited Degrees. The Circumstance coming to the Knowledge of their Family, an Application was made to me to punish the offending Parties, (both the Man and the Woman.) I observed that the Case was not provided for in the Regulations as a Matter of Criminal Cognizance; that perhaps an Action for Damages might lie against the Man, but that I saw no Advantage that would result therefrom to the Family; I therefore recommended to them to refer the Matter to their own Caste; observing that they had the Power to expel the Delinquents from their Caste; that this was the only Remedy I knew of or could suggest. They then petitioned me to have the Parties taken up, and banished the Country; they particularly requested that I would send them to His Highness The Rajah of Coorg, whose District adjoined that Country. This I told them also was not in my Power. The Two Seniors of the Family, who had waited upon me, went away, evidently much dissatisfied. A few Days afterwards a Report reached me, from one of my Police Officers, that this Man and Woman had disappeared. I immediately set on foot an Inquiry of what had become of them; and in my Instructions to the Police Officers directed them to call before them particularly the Two Persons who had come before me as above. As soon as the Two Individuals in question heard of the Inquiry the Police Officers were making, they went and delivered themselves up, acknowledging they had put them to Death, and not therefore to annoy any other Person on that Account; that if there was any Guilt they were the guilty Persons. The Bodies of the Man and Woman were found horribly mangled. The Proceedings of the Inquest, together with the Two Prisoners, were forwarded to my Court, when they acknowledged that they were the Perpetrators of the Murder; and then reminded me that they had appealed to my Authority before to redress the Family Grievance, and thereby vindicate the Family's Honour; that I had not complied with their Request, and therefore they had taken the Law into their own Hands. They were committed for Trial, and sentenced by the Court of Quarter Sessions to be hanged. As usual, the Trial was referred to the Foujdarry Adawlut, which Court confirmed the Sentence of Death, and the Warrant was returned shortly afterwards for carrying the same into Execution. It was my Province, as Magistrate of that Part of the Country, to attend at the Execution, in order to make those Observations which would naturally occur to a Magistrate on those awful Sentences of the Law. Both at the Time that the Prisoners were brought before me to have their Sentence read, and afterwards at the Gallows, the younger of the Two Brothers fainted away; when the elder encouraged him, by saying, "Be a Man. Recollect by this Act, for which we are now going to suffer, we have saved the Honour of our Family." This is one out of many Instances I could mention of the Extent to which the Natives of Malabar carry their nice, though mistaken, Notions of Honour and of Family Pride.

The Mass of the People there are in general in wealthier Circumstances than in many other Parts of Hindostan, are they not?

Certainly, there is more Appearance of Comfort; but still they are in great Distress, compared to what they used to be; owing, I conceive, to Over-taxation. I know indeed that the Revenues bear exceedingly hard upon them.

Is not the Rate of Land Assessment to which they are subjected lower than in most of the other Parts of the Company's Territories?

With reference to the Nature of the Land Tenures in Malabar and Canara, perhaps it is. By those Land Tenures there exists an intermediate Rank, which is not, I believe the Case in other Parts of India. Besides the Cultivator, there is a Proprietor, as well as the Government, to be satisfied out of the Gross Produce. Say it is Tenfold: Five, or the Half, would go to the Cultivator, out of which he has to subsist the Slaves, to purchase the Seed, Implements of Husbandry, Cattle, &c. &c. and subsist himself and his Family; of the remaining Moiety, Six Tenths, or rather Three Fifths, go to the Government; the Remainder to the Proprietor. But this Three Fifths is nominal, arising from several Causes; the Two principal of which are, first, the great Inequalities in the Assessment, varying from Twenty to One hundred per Cent. the other is the Rate of Conversion of the Produce in Kind to Money, the Government receiving none but Money Payments, which upon the Average is Fifty per Cent. more than the current Rates, or the Market Prices; so that in many Cases not One Fifth remains to the Proprietor. I have known indeed a great Number of Estates wherein, from Failure for Want of Means of Payment of the Assessment, the Government have dispossessed the Proprietor; and that, after they have had it for Years under their own Management, the whole Proceeds, after paying all Charges, have been found insufficient to discharge the Assessment. Some of those Proprietors I have known; for they have been under my Custody, as Judge of the Zillah Court, sent there by the Collector; and some have been confined for Years for the Arrears so created. Proprietors also very generally mortgage their Estates to the Tenants, or others, when the Interest of the Mortgage Amount is paid from or deducted by the Tenant from the Proportion of the Rent which would otherwise have become due to the Proprietor.


In your Evidence on a former Day, you mentioned that you had known Instances in which, when Sales of Land for Arrears of Revenue have taken place, they have not been sold for above One Fifth of their Value?

I have.

Did you mean their full Value, supposing them to be unincumbered?

I meant the full Value, subject of course to the Incumbrance. I have a Report from Sir Thomas Munro, in which he particularizes a certain Number of Estates (Rice Fields) which were sold as above mentioned to satisfy a Revenue of about Nine hundred Rupees, when their Cost to the Proprietor was upwards of Four thousand.

To what Circumstance do you attribute their being so sold?

To Over-assessment.

What becomes of the Proprietors of Estates generally who have been so dispossessed?

They are thrown upon the World to exist as they can. Some of the first and most respectable Men of the Country are in that State of Poverty at this present Moment.

Persons subject to no other Imputation of Misconduct than this Misfortune which has devolved upon them?

Not the slightest. Their Lordships will, I trust, pardon a little Enthusiasm, while pleading the Cause of the Inhabitants of Malabar. I have been placed in a Variety of Situations of very considerable Peril during Times of Trouble. Often have I been opposed to Persons in open Rebellion, with no other Defenders but Nairs, and invariably have I found them faithful, nay, devoted to me; and even have been killed and wounded by my Side; and in order to shield my Person from Danger, they have surrounded me; and forced me behind a Tree. From a Principle of Gratitude, therefore, I am bound to speak with more than ordinary Feeling of them.

Were those Occasions where you were subject to Attack from other Nairs?

Yes, and Mopillas. At Times I have had no other Defenders but the Nairs themselves.

What Proportion does the Rent which accrues to Government bear to the Proprietor's Share?

Fifty per Cent. to the Cultivator, out of which he has to provide Stock, live and dead, and subsist the Slaves. Of the other Fifty, Thirty to Government, and Twenty to the Proprietor.

In the Province of Canara, you stated the Rent of Government at Twenty-five per Cent.?

Yes, of the Gross Produce.

Did you mean to state, that after the Government has got Possession of the Lands of Proprietors, in Default of Payment to the Government, it is the Practice of the Government to keep those Proprietors in Prison?

Of the Collector it was, for the Deficit which may have accrued previously to dispossessing them, or which may have accrued after they were dispossessed, of which I have known several Instances.

Did you say for Years?

Yes; perhaps for Two or Three Years. I have now a Petition (English Translation) from some of those Defaulters themselves, addressed to the Court of Appeal while I was a Judge thereof.

And after it had been ascertained that the Lands were overassessed?

Yes; I can adduce a Correspondence with the Collector on the very Subject, in which that Fact is fully admitted.


Were you in Malabar before the Introduction of the Monopoly of Salt?

I was; and for Years both before and afterwards.

Can you state whether any Salt was manufactured, and in what Manner previous to the Monopoly?

There are what they call Ooppadana, Anglicè, Salt Pans, all along and in a parallel Line with the Coast. The Lands are overflowed by the Sea; some of them are dammed up, into which the Salt Water is admitted, which, by the Heat of the Sun, being evaporated, leaves the Salt Residue.

Was that a Source of Income to the Proprietors previously?

Very considerable; the Diminution of which is a Source of great Grievance to the Inhabitants.

Was any Compensation made to the Proprietors of Salt?


To what Extent?

Not by any Means equal to what they enjoyed before the Monopoly.

Was more Salt manufactured in the Aggregate before the Introduction of that Monopoly than has been since?

Considerably. One Reason is, that a great deal of Foreign Salt, from being more profitable to the Government, has been imported from Goa, Bombay, Cutch, Mocha and the Gulf.

Has the Price of Salt been enhanced in consequence of the Monopoly?

From Three hundred to Four hundred per Cent. in some Parts of the Country. I have known it stand the Consumer perhaps as high as Six hundred or Seven hundred per Cent; but this and other Grievances of the People I noticed in a Memorial to The Honorable the Court of Directors in August last, which, if it is the Pleasure of your Lordships, I can produce.

Have you been in any Situation in which you had an Opportunity of observing the Personal Conduct of the Punchayets?

I have; particularly in the Southern Mahratta Country.

They acted under your immediate Orders?

Not in my actual Presence, but under my Instructions.

Was the Conduct of those Punchayets generally satisfactory?

By no Means.

What was your Objection?

Because not presided over by an European.

Had you Reason to doubt their Integrity?

I believed them to be very corrupt, as Mahratta Brahmins generally are; but I believe it is in the Power of a European, who will take the Trouble to superintend them, to prevent any thing glaringly dishonest or grossly partial.

Do you conceive, in the Opinion given by Sir George Walker, that a Decision by a Punchayet is equivalent to the drawing of Straws?

No; I think he is labouring under a most unfortunate Prejudice.

What Reason have you to suppose that their Integrity would be greater when acting as a Jury than when acting as a Punchayet?

Because they would be selected and superintended by a European Judge, acquainted with their Language, with their Customs, with their Characters, and whose very Appearance would overawe them, provided that the presiding Judges were selected as they ought to be; that is, with reference to these indispensable Qualifications.


Do you think in that Case any Weight is due to the Observation that a Regard to Caste would influence the Verdicts, and that a Brahmin would never be convicted?

Not so universally, by any Means, as alluded to. Nothing is more common than Brahmin Witnesses against Brahmins; but in all my Experience as an Executive Servant for nearly Thirty-two Years I have never had Reason to suppose that they favoured each other more than any other Caste; and if Caste would not have that Effect as Witnesses, I do not see why it should as Jurors.

If there was any Bias of this kind, do you think the Decision by Three Fourths of the Jury, instead of the Whole, would be sufficient to counteract it?

Certainly. The Regulation provides that Nine out of Twelve, (Twelve being impannelled,) or Three Fourths, shall be sufficient for a Verdict of Conviction.

Have you any Half-castes in that Part of the Country?

In Malabar and Canara, I imagine, there are altogether perhaps about 60,000 Christians, of which 10,000 may have been originally descended from Europeans, though not a Twentieth Part of that Number carry any Appearance of it in their Complexions.

Are there any of that Description, the Children of Europeans?

Yes; about Fifty or Sixty, the Offspring of British Subjects.

What is the Character of Persons of that Class?

From the Want of Education, deserted by their Fathers, and with no other Protection than their Mothers, it may be naturally supposed that they must be exceedingly indolent and immoral; the Females in general follow the Example of their Mothers.

Are the Sons employed by the Government?

Some of them.

In what Way?

As English Writers, Translators, and Clerks in the Public Offices. Speaking of those that are employed, I should say that a more meritorious or trust-worthy Set of Men cannot be.

Are they respected by the Natives?

Those in public Employ; but I imagine it is owing to that Circumstance that they are respected.

Do you think they might be admitted into Situations higher and of more Trust than those into which they are admitted at present?

Some few might, undoubtedly; some that I know are worthy of any Confidence.

They are generally Christians, are they not?

All of them; but chiefly Roman Catholics.

Are they chiefly at the Presidency, or dispersed about the Country?

Christians are very numerous on the Western Coast, from Bombay to Cape Comorin; wherever there are European Stations they are most numerous.

Have any of them acquired Property?

Yes; some few Landed Property also.

You ascribe their Immorality to Want of Education?

Yes; and their being deserted by their Fathers, and left to the Protection of Persons totally unfit for the Office.


Are there no Means adopted by the Government for their Benefit?

No. I myself established a Seminary at Tellicherry, (at one Time I had more than a Hundred Youths,) to which many Natives, both Hindoos and Mohamedans, contributed. Some very good Scholars were turned out; and as many as have been employed in public Offices have done Credit to the Institution.

The Mothers are necessarily of low Caste, are they not?

Generally; though some of them have been Persons of high Caste, but who have lost Caste from their Connection with Europeans.

Is there not a great Number of Native Christians?

There are about 10,000 in Malabar, and about 50,000 in Canara. Great Part of them are Descendants from Dutch, Danes, French, Portuguese, and the rest Converts, chiefly from low Castes, or Persons of high Caste who have lost Caste.

With regard to the Native Christians, are there not some Native Christians who have been established from a remote Period?

Yes; in the Provinces of Cochin and Travancore they may comprise about 100,000, Roman Catholics of Syrian Origin included. About 1,000 are to the Eastward of Cochin and Choughaut, in Malabar Proper; they are what are called Nestorians, or Syrian Christians.

Are they an orderly well-regulated Race?

They are, I believe, the best Subjects the Travancore and Cochin Rajahs have; they are the most industrious, moral and obedient, and many of them, I believe, opulent.

Have you known any Instances of their emancipating Slaves they have acquired by Purchase?

I have known only a very few Instances; they were, by way of Experiment, made by myself and Mr. Græme; I know of no other.

Do you think the Christians an increasing Body?

Not the Native Christians, except the Increase from the ordinary Course of Population.

Not by Conversions?

No such thing is known as a Convert by any of our English Missionaries. I have heard of such a thing indeed as a Person who has forfeited his Caste turning Christian, but otherwise it is a thing quite out of the Range of Possibility, and for a very good Reason: they lose their Civil Rights, that is, their Birthrights, immediately on becoming Converts. They are disowned by their Family, and in fact are looked upon as a degraded People.

They are called Syrian Christians?


They have Priests?

They have a Metropolitan from Antioch. Their Priests are called Catanars. A great Number of Corruptions had crept into their Church, which have been reformed by the Metropolitan, with the Co-operation of The Rev. Mr. Jo. Fenn, formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge, and other Gentlemen of the Church of England, sent out by the Church Missionary Society. They have done a great deal of Good also in establishing Parochial Schools and an Academical Institution for the Education of the Catanars, at a Place called Cotym, in the Heart of the Travancore Country. I have understood that at one Period their Numbers were about 300,000.


In the early Part of your Evidence, speaking of Malabar and Canara, you stated that Four Fifths are Hindoos, and the remaining Fifth chiefly Mohamedans, except 10,000 Christians?

Yes; and about 50,000 Christians in Canara besides.

Can you state the Number of Mohamedans?

I can with respect to Malabar. There were about Two hundred and forty-five thousand Mopillas, as given in a Census taken Two Years ago; but not Half that Number in Canara.

The whole Population of the Province of Malabar would be about a Million and a Quarter?

About 1,100,000 Souls.

How do you define the Province of Malabar?

Malabar Proper is that Part of the Coast where the Maylayalum Language is spoken purest; it is South of Canara; the Northern Boundary is Kagnyarote, and the Southern Cochin.

It is between the Sea and the Ghauts?


That Province is very thickly inhabited, is it not?

Yes; I imagine about 120 to a Square Mile. The Population has nearly doubled within the last Thirty Years. I think the Population when I went to Malabar first was hardly 600,000; now, as I have before said, it is upwards of a Million.

To what do you attribute that?

The ordinary Increase of Population.

By what Law is it that Native Converts to Christianity are deprived of their Civil Rights?

The Hindoo Law as well as their own local Customs, according to which the Company's Courts are bound to regulate their Decisions in Matters of Civil Rights. The Mohamedan Law is the Criminal Law of the Land.

You stated in a former Part of your Evidence that the Regulations of the Government have nearly superseded the Mohamedan Code, did you not?

Yes; both as regards the Scruples of the Mohamedan Law Officers, as before stated, and also as regards the Law itself. For instance, a Mohamedan Law Officer in his Futwah finding the Prisioner guilty of Robbery by open Violence would, under a Sentence of Hudd, adjudge him to suffer Amputation of Two Limbs; this of course is not sanctioned by the British Government, and is therefore commuted to Imprisonment for Fourteen Years, at the Rate of One Limb for Seven Years. If convicted of Kutl Amd, or express Murder, and Kissaâs, or Retaliation, is barred, from Failure of Heirs to prosecute, or on account of Prisoner's Relationship to deceased, or the deceased being Prisoner's Slave, or any other Ground of personal Distinction and Exception from the Rules of natural Justice, such Objections are over-ruled. The Distinctions by the Imams, as to the Mode or Instrument with which a Murder is perpetrated, are not to be adhered to; but the Act is to be judged by the Intention. When Prisoners are convicted of Homicide, and the Law Officer awards Deyat, or Price of Blood, then the Fine is commuted to Imprisonment. There are other similar Modifications.

Are there many Suttees in that Part of the Country?


None. In Canara there have been Four or Five to the best of my Recollection, of the Cheetapauven Brahmin Women, since 1815, but carried on in the most clandestine Manner. In Malabar some Attempts were made, in 1805 I think it was, by a Description of Brahmins called the Paulgat Puttars. The Nairs came to the Knowledge of it, and compelled the whole Party over the River into the Coimbatore Country. The Nairs hold Sagamanum or Concremation in great Abomination. In Seringapatam Two Instances occurred, one in 1816, the other in 1819. In the Southern Mahratta Country they do occasionally occur, both by burning and burying alive.

What is the Disposition of Property among the Natives?

In Malabar and Canara chiefly in the Female Line. If there are no direct Heirs or Sister's Children, then to the Maternal Aunt's Female Descendants.

There is no Inducement held out for Suttees in the Disposition of Property?

None whatever, I may say; it is a Practice not tolerated on the Western Coast.

Is there any thing in the Disposition of Property in the Southern Mahratta Country which encourages Suttees?

No. I verily believe the Inhabitants would readily aid and support Government in abolishing it. I witnessed one particular Instance myself of such a Disposition in the Buljeewar Caste. I was making a Circuit of the Country at the Time the Information came to me that a Thely named Murthama had died, and his Widow, Deyvucky, was preparing for a Suttee. Both the Mamalutdar and Zilladar of that Part of the Country had endeavoured to dissuade her, but in vain. I ordered them to prevent it, until I came there to see what I could do to dissuade the Woman; and in the mean time dispatched another Zilladar, a Jungum, the same Caste as this devoted Widow, and also one of my principal Mohamedan Revenue Officers, named Goolam Hoossein, with Letters to Deceased's Relations, and all the Jungums, wherein I used all the Arguments I could to convince them of the Sin of Suicide. The Result was, that owing to the Co-operation and Influence of the Jungums, the Woman was persuaded to give it up altogether. Three Days afterwards, I received a Letter from the Woman, thanking me for my Interference.

Did she lose Caste in consequence?


Had any Gold been discovered in Coimbatore before you left India?

Yes; not only in Coimbatore, but throughout that Tract of the Country lying West and South of the Neelgherry Mountains and Koondanad. I have often seen the whole Process, and have purchased Gold extracted before me.

Is it found there in any Quantities?

Yes. The whole of the Country West of the Neelgherry Mountains, in the Taloogs of Parakameetil, especially at Nelliala, Cherangote, Koonyote Kotah, Nambolacota, Daraloor, &c. &c. also the adjoining Koondanad and Gâat Mountains, and all the Rivers and Cholas (Watercourses) down as far West as Nellambore, and South-west as Caladicota, Karimpure, Aliparamba, &c. the whole Tract, including the Mountains, perhaps comprising 2,000 Square Miles, I may say, is impregnated with Gold. Even the very Stones in the Beds of Rivers, when pounded, have been found to contain Particles of that valuable Metal.

Do you know whether any considerable Quantity has yet been brought from that Country, or in large Pieces?

I have seen Pieces perhaps weighing Half-a-Guinea; solid Pieces; but generally it is in extremely small Particles.

Is it found in washing the Sand of the River?

Yes, in all the Rivers as far as Nellambore, Karimpure, &c. as well as in the Soil.


Is the Right of searching for it confined to the Government, or to the Proprietor of the Land?

To the Proprietor of the Mountains and Places where it is found, which are equally private Property as the Lowlands.

Are there any Establishments formed for the Purpose of seeking for it?

None. The Persons employed are the Slaves of the Proprietors.

How long has it been known to be produced in this River?

As long as we have known any thing of Malabar. The Process is, as your Lordships may suppose, with such People, extremely simple.

How does it happen, if it is so abundant, that it has never been sought for on a greater Scale?

Because the Land belongs to Individuals, who are exceedingly jealous, and will allow no Persons but themselves to dig for it. They probably extract as much Gold as their Means will enable them.

Are the Proprietors poor?

Generally very poor.

Would it require Capital to carry on this simple Process?

Some Capital, certainly; but unfortunately that Part of the Country is so very unhealthy that few Strangers could stand the Climate.

Is there any Gold on the Neelgherry Hills?

Some was brought to me from about Halfway up the Western Hills, by the Koties, Potters and Basket Makers.

The Climate of the Neelgherry Hills is very good, is it not?

It is perhaps the finest in the World. The Thermometer ranged from about 50° to 55° during the Time I was there.

Have the Agents of the Company ever been instructed to make an Attempt to establish a more extensive Search for it (the Gold?)

Never. The Government derive a Revenue from the Pattees, or the Trays in which the Gold is washed. Each Pattee pays so much per Annum; I forget the Amount; but I know it is a very few Rupees.

Have you any Notion of the Quantity that has been found; is there any Account of that?

No, I have not; and the People themselves are very averse to give any Information. They naturally suppose that our Object, in all Inquiries of this kind, is to raise our Demands upon them.

Are not the Government aware of the Amount?

No; they merely lay an Assessment on the Pattees or Trays employed.

It has no Reference to the actual Quantity of Gold produced?

Not that I am aware of. The Revenue, I believe, is merely nominal; merely an Acknowledgment.

You said that Gold Dust was imported from Arabia?

Yes; and from the Gulf also.

Are there any Mines in Malabar?

Those are the only Mines I am aware of. They dig sometimes very deep; but from Want of Machinery have no Means of going on, not being able to prop up the superincumbent Ground.

Have they ever found this Gold in very large Masses?

The deeper they go the larger the Particles are, generally.


Have they ever pursued any Vein of it?

No; but there is not a Part of the Country where they can dig that they do not find it, in larger or smaller Quantities. The largest Quantity is found during the Monsoon, being washed down the Hills by the Torrents of Rain at that Season.

Would the Proprietors of Land be indisposed to let their Lands for the Purpose of permitting the Gold to be got?

They would be very glad to sell their Land.

Would they be glad to sell it at such a reasonable Rate as would make it worth the while of Persons of Capital to take it?

I am sure they would.

Are there any Difficulties arising from the Regulations of the Company that preclude such an Arrangement?

On the Part of Europeans, undoubtedly. No European is allowed to go into the Interior without special Permission.

Are there any Difficulties that regard the Natives?

Yes; the Nature of the Climate. Whenever I have been there myself I have experienced the ill Effects of it.

And this Physical Obstacle would therefore apply to Europeans?

Not perhaps to that Extent it would to Natives, owing probably to their Difference of Living. I think Europeans would have a better Chance of their Health than Natives.

Have the Company endeavoured to search for it on their own Account?

Never, that I know of.

Was it Part of your Duty to suggest to them Things of that kind when you were there?

I think I did write on the Subject to my Superior, when I was in charge of Wynând, in 1805-6; but I was a subordinate Officer at the Time. I think my Suggestion was to have some scientific Persons sent to explore that Part of the Country.

Was any thing done upon that?


You are not aware that the Company have taken any Steps to see whether they can increase the Production?

No. I am pretty certain they have not.

Do you think that has been prevented by the extreme Jealousy of the People on the Subject?

I rather think the Government have never turned their Mind to the Subject; the Income derived is so trifling, it was not perhaps of sufficient Consequence to attract their Observation.

What is the Character of Slavery in Malabar?


They are absolute Property, as much as the Cattle upon a Man's Estate; they are bought and sold in the same Way. A Slave generally sells from Five Rupees to about Twenty, or about Ten Shillings to Forty Shillings; when leased out the usual Patom or Rent is Four Fanams, which is about Two Shillings a Year. I could give a List of the several Castes comprising the whole of the Slave Population. There are upwards of 100,000 of them in Malabar alone, and they are in that abject degraded State that it is Matter of Astonishment that no Legislative Provisions have been enacted to improve their Condition. The very Appearance of them, particularly those in the Eastern and Southeast Parts, bespeaks their Wretchedness. Small in Stature, spare Arms and Legs, with large Stomachs, in fact more like Baboons than Men. Perhaps there is no Person who has had the Opportunity I have had of seeing and knowing these unhappy Creatures.

How are they dressed?

In the most retired Parts of the Country, with nothing but a Plaintain Leaf tied round their Waists; in the more open and cultivated Parts, a Waist Cloth, perhaps about Three Feet in Length and about a Foot broad, secured by a Knot in Front.

In what Kind of Labour are they more generally employed?

Agriculture; never as Domestic Servants. They are not allowed to come within a certain Distance of several of the Hindoo Tribes, or their Houses. Mopillas employ them occasionally in Domestic Labour.

But the Hindoos never?


Are they all Natives of the Soil, or are any imported?

There are none imported now, I believe. There were some imported from Travancore and Cochin, or rather kidnapped; many of them free-born Children, stolen during the Night-time. Many of them I discovered on the Plantation of a Native-born British Subject.

Was he convicted of having kidnapped those Slaves?

No, though he ought to have been. His Agents, that is, Persons in his Employ, were brought to Trial, and I think discharged in consequence of some Scruples on the Part of the Mohamedan Law Officer.

Did it appear that he was cognizant of their having been kidnapped?

The Resident of Travancore, Colonel Munro, sent me a Letter, which this same British Subject had written to him, soliciting his (the Resident's) Protection of his (the Writer's) Agent, who had been taken up in Travancore for this very Act, and requesting he would obtain his Release on whatever Terms might appear to him reasonable. This Letter, and all the Correspondence it gave rise to, I can produce, if it is their Lordships Pleasure.

What became of the Children?

I sent the whole of them back to their Parents, for which I received, through the British Resident, the Thanks of the Government of Travancore.

Can you speak as to the Character of Slavery in any other Part of the District?

In Canara, Malabar, Coorg, Wynând, Cochin and Travancore, it is of the same Description, and perhaps the whole Slave Population amounts to 400,000 Souls.

Is their Condition, as far as you have had Occasion to observe, much the same throughout all that Range of Country?

I think in Canara the Landholders treat their Slaves better than they do in Malabar, from the Circumstance of the Landholders being better Farmers and in better Circumstances.

In fact the Effect of the very heavy Demands of the Government from the Landholders falls on the Slaves?

To a certain Extent, certainly; as far, that is, as impoverishing their Proprietors?

That causes them to exact more severe Labour?

It is not on account of the Labour they exact, but that they do not subsist them as they ought to do. Often may they be seen in the wildest Part of the Forests and Mountains, digging for wild Yams for their very Subsistence.


They are quite a different Race from the other Inhabitants of the Country?

Quite different.

Is there not some Idea that they were the Aborigines of the Country?

They are supposed to have been the Aborigines of the Country. Their History, which, like all the other Indian Stories, is wrapped up in Fable, is as follows; Srb Parasu Rama was incarnated to destroy the Rajahs (Kheterees) then oppressing the Earth. After Twenty-one different Battles, he slew them all. To expiate which, it being a great Sin to slay Heroes, called Virahatirju dosham, he went to Gokernum, and having there performed Sacrifices, and prostrated himself to Varuna, he made the Ocean retire, and thus created 160 Kadums of Land. (fn. 1) He then went and brought the Arya Brahmins of the Sixty-four Grams, and to induce them to remain he went in Search of the wild People who inhabited the Forests and Mountains, collected them, and presented them to the Brahmins as Adiars, or Slaves, since which Period they have been considered as Jelm Property equally with the Soil itself.

What is the State of Cultivation in Canara; is it fertile?

Certainly. I think they are much better Farmers there than in Malabar; they take more Pains to improve the Soil than they do there. In Canara Leaves are strewed over their Fields, and then ploughed up. This is the general Mode of manuring.

The Witness is directed to withdraw.

Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next, One o'Clock.



  • 1. The Tract of Country lying between Gokernum and Kanya Kumari, (Cape Comorin.)