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Madras Presidency ( , ,,Tulu /Kannada:ಮದ್ರಾಸ್ ಪ್ರೆಸಿದೆನ್ಚ್ಯ್}}, ), also known as Madras Province and known officially as Presidency of Fort St. George, was a province of British India. At its greatest extent, Madras Presidency included much of southern India, including the present-day Indianmarker State of Tamil Nadumarker, the Malabar region of North Keralamarker, Lakshadweepmarker Islands, the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradeshmarker, Brahmapurmarker and Ganjammarker districts of Orissamarker and the Tulu Naduregion as well as Bellarymarker district of Karnatakamarker. The presidency had its capital at Madras (now known as Chennaimarker).

The Presidency had its origins in the Agency of Fort St George established by the British East India Company soon after the purchase of the village of Madraspatnam in 1639. However, there have been Company factories at Machilipatnammarker and Armagon ever since the early 1600s. Madras was upgraded to a Presidency in 1652 before reverting to its previous status as an Agency. In 1684, Madras was elevated to a Presidency once again and Elihu Yale was appointed its first President. From 1785 onwards, as per the provisions of the Pitt's India Act, the ruler of the Presidency of Fort St George was styled Governor instead of President and was made subordinate to the Governor-General at Calcuttamarker. Madras made a significant contribution to the Indian freedom movement in the early decades of the 20th century. Madras was the first province in British India where the system of dyarchy was first implemented. The Presidency was dissolved when India became independent on August 15, 1947. On January 26, 1950, when the Republic of India was inaugurated, Madras was admitted as one of the states of the Indian Union.

Madras was one of the three provinces originally established by the British East India Company as per the terms of the Pitt's India Act. The head of state held the title of Agent from 1640 to 1652 and 1655 to 1684, and President from 1652 to 1655 and 1684 to 1785, and Governor from 1785 to 1947. The judicial, legislative and executive powers are rested in the Governor who is assisted by a Council whose constitution has been modified by reforms enacted in 1861, 1909, 1919 and 1935. As per the Montague-Chelmsford reforms of 1919, a system of dyarchy was established and regular elections were conducted till the outbreak of the Second World War. The head of the government was known as Prime Minister. In 1908, the province comprised 22 districts each under a District Collector. Each district was further sub-divided into taluks and firqas. The smallest unit of administration was the village.


Before the arrival of the British

The districts, which formed the Madras Presidency between 1685 and 1947 were ruled by different kings at different points of time. The discovery of dolmens has conclusively proved that this portion of the subcontinent had been inhabited as early as the Stone Age. The first prominent historical dynasty to rule over this region was that of the Andhras or Satavahanas who held sway over the northern part of the Madras Presidency between the 3rd century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D. The Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas of the Sangam Age were the southern contemporaries of the Satavahanas. Following the decline of these kingdoms, the country was conquered by a little known race of people called the Kalabhras. The country however recovered under the Pallavas and its civilization attained a golden age under the Cholas and the Pandyas. Following the conquest of Madurai by Malik Kafur in 1311 A.D., there was a brief lull when culture and civilization began to decline. But the Tamil and Telugu countries recovered under the Vijayanagar Empire. On the demise of the Vijayanagar Empire, the country was parcelled out amongst the numerous sultans, polygars and European trading companies.

Early British trading posts

On December 31, 1600, a group of English merchants were granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I to establish the English East India Company, the world’s first joint-stock company. Subsequently, during the reign of King James I, Sir William Hawkins and Sir Thomas Roe were sent to negotiate with the Mughal Emperor Jahangir for the establishment of factories in India on behalf of the Company. The first factories of the English East India Company were established at Surat on India’s west coast and Masulipatammarker on India’s eastern seaboard. Of the trading posts on India’s east coast, Masulipatnam is the oldest having been established in the year 1611. In 1625, another factory was established at Armagon a few miles southward and both the factories were placed under the administration of an Agency based at Machilipatnam. However, soon after the establishment of these factories, the British authorities, owing to the lack of purchasable cotton cloth, their chief item of trade on the east coast, as well as annoyances from the Sultan of Golconda's local officers, felt the need to move their new factory to a location farther south. Francis Day was sent southward for this purpose and after negotiating with the Raja of Chandragiri, succeeded in obtaining the land grant for setting up a factory in the village of Madraspatnam. A fort was constructed at the aforesaid place and christened Fort St George. An agency was created to govern this new settlement and factor Andrew Cogan of Masulipatnam was deputed as the first Agent. All the agencies along India’s east coast were subordinate to the presidency of Bantammarker in Javamarker. By 1641, Fort St. George had been raised to the position of the Company's head-quarters on the Coromandel Coast.

Agency of Fort St George

Andrew Cogan was succeeded by Francis Day, Thomas Ivie and Thomas Greenhill. In 1653, at the end of Greenhill’s term, Fort St George was raised to the rank of a Presidency, independent of BantamAaron Baker was appointed as the first President of Fort St George. However, in 1655, the status of Fort St George was downgraded to an Agency and made subject to the factory at Suratmarker. It remained so until 1684. Nevertheless, in 1658 control was given to Madras of all factories in Bengal. During this period, the British occupied the village of Triplicanemarker near Madras.



In 1684, Madras was once again elevated to the status of a Presidency and William Gyfford was appointed as the first President. During this period, the Presidency expanded manifold reaching its present dimensions in the early 1800s. At the same time, the early years of Madras Presidency were tormentous as the British had to bear the repeated attacks of the powerful Mughals, Marathas and the Nawabs of Golconda and Carnatic. In September 1746, Fort St George was taken by the French who ruled Madras as a part of French India till 1749 when Madras was made over to the British as per the Treaty of Aix-la-Chappellemarker. On September 1774, by the terms of the Pitt's India Act, which was passed by the British Parliament to the regulate the administration of territories owned by the British East India Company and to create an unified authority, the President of Madras was made subordinate to the Governor-General based at Calcutta.

During the Company Raj

From 1774 to 1858, Madras was a part of British India ruled by the British East India Company. The last quarter of the 18th century was a period of rapid expansion. The successful wars against Tipu, Velu Thambi, Polygars and Ceylonmarker added vast chunks of land and contributed to the exponential growth of the Presidency. Newly-conquered Ceylon was a part of Madras Presidency from 1793 to 1798. The system of Subsidiary Alliances originated by Lord Wellesly also created a lot of princely states subordinate to the Governor of Fort St George. The hill tracts of Ganjam and Visakhapatnam were the last to be annexed.

This period also witnessed a number of rebellions. The Vellore Mutiny of 1806 precedes the First War of Indian Independence by half-a-century. The rebellion of Velu Thambi and Paliath Achan and the risings of the Polygars were other notable insurrections against British rule. The Madras Presidency, however, remained relatively undisturbed by the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

The kingdom of Mysore was annexed to Madras Presidency in 1831 on accounts of maladministration. The kingdom was restored to the rightful heir in 1881. Thanjavur was annexed in 1855, following the death of Shivaji II without a surviving male heir.

The Victorian era

Following the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Queen Victoria issued a Proclamation by which Company rule over India came to an end and the British Raj was established. The Victorian era was a period of peace and prosperity. The Indian Councils Act 1861 and the Government of India Act 1909 admitted Indians in the provincial administration. There was a rapid increase in the number of educated classes who qualified for the Indian and Provincial Civil Service. The profession of law was especially prized by the newly-emerging class of educated Indians. In 1877, T. Muthuswamy Iyer became the first Indian judge of the Madras High Courtmarker despite strong opposition. A number of roads, railways, dams and canals were constructed during this time.

During this period, Madras was devastated by two great famines: Great Famine of 1876–78 and the Indian famine of 1896–97. The population of the Presidency fell from 31.2 million in 1871 to 30.8 million in 1881 as a result of the 1876-78 famine.

Indian Independence Movement and the Home Rule League

There was a strong sense of national awakening in Madras Presidency starting from the later half of the 19th century. Of the 72 delegates who participated in the first session of the Indian National Congress at Bombay in December 1885, 22 were from Madras Presidency. The third session of the Indian National Congress was held in Madras in December 1887 and was a huge success attended by 362 delegates from the Province. Subsequent sessions of the Indian National Congresswere held in Madras in 1894, 1898, 1903, 1908, 1914 and 1927.

The headquarters of the Theosophical Society were moved to Adyar by Madam Blavatsky and Colonel H. S. Olcott in 1882. The most prominent figure associated with the Theosophical Society was Annie Besant who founded the Home Rule League in 1916. The Home Rule Movement was organized from Madras and found extensive support in the Province. The freedom struggle was actively endorsed by nationalistic newspapers such as The Hindu and Swadesamitran and Mathrubhumi. Subramanya Bharathy, Tiruppur Kumaran, V. V. S. Aiyar, Subramanya Siva, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Vanchinathan, V. Kalyanasundaram, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, K. Kamaraj, U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, Sir S. Subramania Iyer, G. Subramania Iyer, S. Srinivasa Iyengar, V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Tanguturi Prakasam, Sir P. S. Sivaswami Iyer, C. Sankaran Nair, C. Karunakara Menon and Kalki Sadasivam were some prominent freedom-fighters of the period. India's first trade union was established in Madras in 1918 by V. Kalyanasundaram and B. P. Wadia.

Implementation of the Dyarchy

A dyarchy was created in Madras Presidency in the year 1920 as per the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and provisions were made for elections in the Presidency. Democratically elected governments would henceforth share powers with the Governor's autocratic establishment. In the first elections held in November 1920, the Justice Party,an organization that was established in 1916 to campaign for increased representation of non-Brahmins in the administration, was elected to power. A. Subbarayalu Reddiar became the first Chief Minister of Madras Presidency. However, he resigned soon after a short period due to declining health and was replaced with Sir P. Ramarayaningar, the Minister of Local Self-Government and Public Health. The party split in late 1923 when C. R. Reddy resigned from primary membership and formed a splinter group which allied with Swarajists who were in opposition. A no-confidence motion was passed against Ramarayaningar's government on November 27, 1923, which was however defeated 65-44. Ramarayaningar, popularly known as the Raja of Panagal, remained in power till November 1926. The passing of the First communal Government Order (G.O. No.613) which introduced reservations to government jobs, in August 1921, remains one of the highpoints of his rule. In the next elections held in 1926, the Justice Party lost. However, as no party was able to attain clear majority, the Governor set up an independent government under the leadership of P. Subbarayan and nominated members to support it. In 1930, the Justice Party was victorious and P. Munuswamy Naidu became the Chief Minister. However, the exclusion of Zamindars from the Ministry split the Justice Party once again. Fearing a no-confidence motion against him, Munuswamy Naidu resigned in November 1932 and the Raja of Bobbili was appointed Chief Minister. The Justice Party eventually lost in the 1937 elections to the Indian National Congress and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari became Chief Minister of Madras Presidency.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Anti-Brahmin movement evolved in the Madras Presidency. This movement was launched by a Congressman E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker, who, unhappy with the principles and policies of the Brahmin leadership of the provincial Congress, moved to the Justice Party in 1925. E. V. R., or Periyar, as he was affectionately called, launched venomous attacks on Brahmins, Hinduism and Hindu superstitions in periodicals and newspapers such as Viduthalai and Justice. He also participated in the Vaikom satyagraha which campaigned for the rights of untouchables in Travancore to enter temples.

Last days of British rule

The Indian National Congress was elected to power in 1937 for the first time in Madras Presidency and barring the six years when Madras was in a state of Emergency, ruled the Presidency till India got independence on August 15, 1947. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was the first Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from the Congress party. He issued the Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act and introduced prohibition and sales tax in Madras Presidency. However, his rule is largely remembered for compulsory introduction of Hindi in educational institutions which made him highly unpopular as a politician. This measure sparked off widespread Anti-Hindi agitations even leading to violence in some places. Over 1,200 men, women and children were jailed for participating in these Anti-Hindi agitations. Two agitators Thalamuthu and Natarasan lost their lives. In 1940, the Congress ministers resigned protesting the declaration of war on Germany without their consent and the Governor took over the reins of the administration. The unpopular law was eventually repealed by the Governor on February 21, 1940.

Most of the Congress leadership and erstwhile ministers were arrested in 1942 following their participation in the Quit India movement. In 1944, Periyar renamed the Justice Party as Dravidar Kazhagam and withdrew from politics. When the Second World War came to an end, the Indian National Congress re-entered politics and without the presence of any serious opposition, was elected to power in the Presidency. However, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari resigned from the party leadership in 1946 facing strong opposition in the party ranks. Tanguturi Prakasam was elected Chief Minister with the support of Kamaraj. He served for 11 months and was succeeded by O. P. Ramaswamy Reddiyar. India became independent on August 15, 1947 with Ramaswamy Reddiyar as the first Chief Minister of Madras state.


The first census of the Madras Presidency was taken in the year 1822. It returned a population of 13,476,923. The second census conducted in 1836-37 returned a population of 13,967,395, an increase of only 490,472 in 15 years. The first quinquennial enumeration of the population was made in 1851-52. It returned a population of 22,031,697. Subsequent enumerations were made in 1856-57, 1861-62 and 1866-67. The population of Madras Presidency was found to be 22,857,855 in 1851-52, 24,656,509 in 1861-62 and 26,539,052 in 1866-67.

The first organized census of India was conducted in 1871. It returned a population of 31,220,973 for Madras Presidency. Since then, a census has been conducted once every ten years. The last census of British India held in 1941 returned a population of 49,341,810 for Madras Presidency.

Districts and Agencies of Madras Presidency
District District Headquarters Area (in square miles) Year of incorporation Population
1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941
Anantapur Anantapur 5,557 1800 741,255 599,899 727,725 788,254 963,223 1,166,255
Bellary Bellary 5,714 1800 911,755 726,275 880,950 947,214 969,436
Chingleput Saidapet 5,079 1763 938,184 981,381 1,202,928 1,312,122 1,321,000
Coimbatore Coimbatore 7,860 1799 1,763,274 1,657,690 2,004,839 2,201,752
Cuddapah Cuddapah 8,723 1800 1,351,194 1,121,038 1,272,072 1,291,267
East Godavari Cocanada 1765 - - - - - - 1,756,477 1,976,743
Ganjam Berhampur 8,372 1765 1,520,088 1,749,604 1,896,803 2,010,256 -
Godavari Cocanada 7,972 1765 1,592,939 1,791,512 2,078,782 2,301,759 1,530,000 2,583,250 - -
Kistna Masulipatam 8,498 1765/1801 1,452,374 1,548,480 1,855,582 2,154,803 1,997,535
Kurnool Kurnool 7,878 1800 914,432 678,551 817,811 872,055 889,000
Madras Madras 27 1639 367,552 405,848 452,518 509,346 518,660 526,000 645,000 776,000
Madura Madura 8,701 1761/1790/1801 2,266,615 2,168,680 2,608,404 2,831,280 1,861,000
Malabar Calicut 5,795 1792 2,261,250 2,365,035 2,652,565 2,800,555 3,015,119
Nellore Nellore 8,761 1781 1,376,811 1,220,236 1,463,736 1,496,987 1,296,000
Nilgiris Ootacamund 958 1799 49,501 91,034 99,797 111,437 80,000
North Arcot Chittoor 7,386 1781/1801 2,015,278 1,817,814 2,114,487 2,207,712 1,822,000
Salem Salem 7,530 1792 1,966,995 1,599,595 1,962,591 2,204,974 1,766,680
South Arcot Cuddalore 5,217 1781/1801 1,755,817 1,814,738 2,162,851 2,349,894 2,272,000
South Kanara Mangalore 4,021 1799 918,362 959,514 1,056,081 1,134,713
Tanjore Tanjore 3,710 1799 1,973,731 2,130,383 2,228,114 2,245,029 2,362,639
Tinnevely Tinnevely 5,389 1761/1801 1,693,959 1,699,747 1,916,095 2,059,607
Trichinopoly Trichinopoly 2,632 1781/1801 1,200,408 1,215,033 1,372,717 1,444,770
Vizagapatam Waltair 17,222 1794 2,159,199 2,485,141 2,802,992 2,933,650 2,231,874
West Godavari Eluru 1765 - - - - - -
Total Madras 141,705 31,220,973 30,827,218 35,630,440 38,209,436 41,870,160 42,794,155 46,740,107 49,341,810
Princely States of Madras Presidency
Banganapalle Banganapalle 255 45,208 30,754 34,596 32,264
Cochin Cochin 1,362 601,114 600,278 722,906 812,025 979,080 918,110 1,205,016 1,422,875
Pudukkottai Pudukkottai 1,100 316,695 302,127 373,096 380,440 411,886 400,694
Sandur Sandur 161 14,996 10,532 11,388 11,200
Travancore Trivandrum 7,091 2,311,379 2,401,158 2,557,736 2,952,157 3,428,975 4,006,062 5,095,973 6,070,018
Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of India


Linguistic map of the Madras Presidency

The languages spoken in the Madras Presidency were Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Tulu and English. Tamil was spoken in the southern districts of the Presidency from a few miles north of Madras city as far west as the Nilgiri hills and Western Ghats. Telugu was spoken in the districts to the north of Madras city and to the east of Bellary and Anantapur districts. Kannada was spoken in the district of South Kanara , the western part of Bellary and Anantapur districts and parts of Malabar. Malayalam was spoken in the districts of Malabar and South Kanara and the princely states of Travancore and Cochin, while Tulu was spoken in South Canara. Oriya was spoken in the district of Ganjam and parts of Vizagapatam district. English was spoken by Anglo-Indians and Eurasians. It was also the link language for the Presidency and the official language of British India in which all government proceedings and court hearings were conducted.

According to the 1871 census, there were 14,715,000 people who spoke Tamil, 11,610,000 people who spoke Telugu, 2,324,000 people who spoke Malayalam, 1,699,000 spoke Canarese or Kannada, 640,000 people spoke Oriya and 2,94000 people spoke Tulu. The 1901 census returned 15,182,957 speakers of Tamil, 14,276,509 Telugu-speakers, 2,861,297 speakers of Malayalam, 1,518,579 were speakers of Kannada, 1,809,314 spoke Oriya, 880,145 spoke Hindusthani and 1,680,635 spoke other languages. At the time of India's independence, Tamil and Telugu speakers made up over 78% of the total population of the Presidency. Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu speakers made up the rest.


A village shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyanar, c.a.

The population in 1901 was divided into Hindus (37,026,471), Muslims (2,732,931), and Christians (1,934,480). At the time of India's independence in 1947, Madras had an estimated population of 49,799,822 Hindus, 3,896,452 Muslims and 2,047,478 Christians

Hinduism was the predominant religion in the Presidency practised by around 88% of the population. The main Hindu denominations were Saivite, Vaishnavite and Lingayat. The Smartha doctrine was quite popular among the Brahmins. The worship of village gods was strong in the southern districts of the Presidency. The mutts at Kanchimarker, Sringerimarker and Ahobilammarker were regarded as the centres of the Hindu faith. The largest and most important Hindu temples were the Venkateswara temple at Thirupathimarker, Brihadeeswarar temple at Tanjoremarker, the Meenakshi Amman templemarker at Maduraimarker, Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam, Krishna temple at Udupi and the Padmanabhaswamy templemarker in the princely state of Travancore. Islam was brought to the southern part of India by Arab traders. However, most converts were made from the 14th century onwards, when Malik Kafur conquered Maduraimarker. Nagoremarker was the holiest city for the Muslims of Madras Presidency. The Madras Presidency also had one of the oldest Christian populations. Branches of the Syrian church were established by St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ who visited the Malabar coast in 52 AD. Christians were mainly concentrated in the Tinnevelymarker and Malabar districts of Madras Presidency.Native Christians formed over one-fourth of the total population of the princely state of Travancore.

The hill tribes of the Nilgiris, Palani and Ganjam hills such as the Todas, Badagas, Kodavas, Kotas, Yerukalas and the Khonds worshipped tribal gods and were often classified as Hindus. Till the early years of the 20th century, Hindu communities such as the Pallar,Paraiyar, Sakkiliar, Pulayar, Madiga, Izhava and Holeya were regarded as untouchable and were not allowed inside Hindu temples. However, along with the abolition of female infanticide, the removal of purdah and advocation of widow remarriage, untouchability was also slowly eradicated through legislation and social reform. The Raja of Bobbili who served the Premier from 1932 to 1936 appointed untouchables to temple administration boards all over the Presidency. In 1939, the Congress government of C. Rajagopalachari introduced the Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act which removed all restrictions on untouchables entering Hindu temples. Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Ayyar, the Diwan of Travacnore, had earlier introduced a similar legislation, the Temple Entry Proclamation in the princely state of Travancore in 1937.

The Hindu Religious Endowments Bill was passed by the government of the Raja of Panagal in 1921 to regulate the management of Hindu temples. As per the provisions of this bill, government-controlled trusts were set up in the Madras Presidency to manage Hindu temples and monitor the usage of funds so that they were not misused. The Raja of Bobbili introduced reforms in the administration of Thirumala-Tirupathi devasthanams.


The Madras presidency was administered by a governor and a council, consisting of two members of the civil service, which number may be increased to four. There was also a board of revenue of three members. For legislative purposes the council of the governor was augmented by additional members, numbering 45 in all, of whom not more than 17 may be nominated officials, while 19 were elected by various representative constituencies. Members of the legislative council enjoyed the right of interpolation, of proposing resolutions on matters of public interest, and of discussing the annual financial statement.

In 1911 the province was divided into 24 districts: Ganjammarker, Vizagapatam (Visakhapatnammarker), Godavarimarker, Krishnamarker, Kurnoolmarker, Nelloremarker, Cuddapahmarker, Anantapurmarker, Bellarymarker, North Arcotmarker, South Arcotmarker, Chingleputmarker, Madrasmarker, Salemmarker, South Canara, Malabarmarker, Coimbatoremarker, Tiruchirappallimarker, Tanjoremarker, Maduraimarker, Tirunelvelimarker, The Nilgirismarker, and Gunturmarker. Each district was under the charge of a collector, with sub-collectors and assistants. The districts were not grouped into divisions or commissionerships, as in other provinces.

The principle of local devolution was carried somewhat further in Madras than in other Raj provinces. At the bottom are union panchayats or village committees, whose chief duty is to attend to sanitation. Above them came taluk or subdivisional boards. At the head of all were district boards, a portion of whose members are elected by the taluk boards.

Five princely states fell under the political authority of Madras Presidency: Banganapallemarker, Cochin, Pudukkottai, Sandurmarker, and Travancore.


A British officer in the Madras Light Cavalry

The city of Madras had its own garrison ever since 1665, when the British East India Company was first permitted to set up its own garrisons to guard its settlements. Notable amongst the army's early operations were the defence of the city from Mughal and Maratha invaders and the forces of the Nawab of Carnatic. In 1713, the Madras forces under Lieutenant John de Morgan distinguished themselves in the siege of Fort St David and in quelling the mutiny of Richard Raworth.

When Dupleix, the Governor of French India began to raise native battalions in 1748, the British of Madras followed suit and established the Madras Regiment. Though native regiments were subsequently established by the British in other parts of India, the distances that separated the three presidencies resulted in each force growing up on divergent principles and with different organizations. The first reorganization of the army was carried out in 1795. The Madras Army was reconstituted into the following units:

  • European Infantry:Two battalions of 10 companies.
  • Artillery: Two European battalions of 5 companies each, with 15 companies of lascars.
  • Native Cavalry. Four regiments.
  • Native Infantry. Eleven regiments of 2 battalions.

A Jamadar of the 20th Deccan Horse

In 1824, there was a second reorganization of troops. The double battalions were abolished and the existing battalions renumbered. The Madras Army, at the time consisted of two brigades of horse artillery, one European and one native; 3 battalions of foot artillery of 4 companies each, with 4 companies of lascars attached; 3 regiments of light cavalry; 2 corps of pioneers; 2 battalions of European infantry; 52 battalions of native infantry and 3 local battalions.

From 1748 to 1895, the Madras Army like the Bengal and Bombay armies, had its own Commander-in-Chief who was subordinate to the President, and later, the Governor of Madras. The Commander-in-chief of the Madras Army was, by default, a member of the Governor's Executive Council. The Madras Army participated in the conquest of Manila in 1762, the 1795 expedition against Ceylon, the expedition against the Dutch and the conquest of the Spice Islands in the same year and in expeditions against Maurutius in 1810, Java in 1811, the wars against Tipu Sultan and the Carnatic Wars of the 18th century, the British attack on Cuttack dring the Second Maratha War, the siege of Lucknow during the Indian mutiny and the invasion of Upper Burma during the Third Anglo-Burmese War.

The 1857 mutiny, which caused drastic changes in the Bengal and Bombay armies did not affect the Madras Army, the least. In 1895, the Presidential Armies were finally abolished and the Madras regiments brought under the direct control of the Commander-in-chief of British India.

The Madras Army derived heavily from the Moplahs of Malabar and soldiers from the Coorg.


Land revenue was the main source of income to the Government. The total revenue exacted by the Madras Government include the land rent as well as an income tax based on the tenant's net profits from the land.

In ancient times, land appears to have been a common property and an individual could not sell the land without the consent of other owners, who, in most cases were members of the same community. The concept of individual proprietorship of land first sprung along India's west coast. The land revenue system under the British did not have any marked differences from that which had prevailed earlier. By the time the British arrived, individual ownership seemed to have displaced communal ownership of property. However, still, the landlord never sold the land without the consent of other members of the community. The name of this communistic right to property was known as kaniachi among the Vellalars, swastium among the Brahmins and mirasi among Muslims and Christians. In the Tanjore district, the whole mirasi in the village were vested in a single individual and was called "Ekabhogam". These mirasidars were required to donate a certain amount of money called "Mirei" to the village administration. The mirasidars paid a certain amount of money to the Government. In return, they demanded the non-interference of the government in the internal affairs of the villages.

The system of land proprietary system was entirely different in the district of Malabar and the states of Cochin and Travancore. Communal ownership of land did not exist in these areas. Instead, land was individual property. Most of the land here were owned by individuals from Namboodhiri, Nair and Moplah communities who did not pay land-tax. Instead, the Nairs supplied the king with fighting men in times of war while the Namboodhiris managed the upkeep of Hindu temples. These landlords were rather self-sufficient with their own police and judicial systems so much so that the personal expenses of the Raja were minimal. However, the landlord lost his immunity from land tax if he sold his land. Hence, mortgage of land was more common than sale. Individual propreitorship of land was also common in the Telugu-speaking areas of the Presidency. The chieftains of the Telugu-speaking districts had more or less maintained an independent existence for ages. They furnished the sovereign with armies and equipment in times of war. In return, their right to the revenue of the land remained unmolested. During the time of the British, most of land in the northern districts of the Presidency were parcelled out among these petty "Rajahs".

The Islamic invasions caused minor changes in the land proprietorship system. Taxes on Hindu land owners were raised and private property weakened.

When the British took over the administration, the system of land proprietorship that had existed for centuries was left unmolested. The British appointed middlemen to collect land revenue in lands which were not under the control of local Zamindars. In most cases, these middlemen did not care for the welfare of the farmers and exploited them to the most. A Board of Revenue was established in 1786 to solve the issue but to no avail. At the same time, the Zamindari settlement instituted in Bengal by Lord Cornwallis was highly successful and this was implemented in the Madras Presidency starting from 1799 onwards.

However, the Permanent Settlement was not as successful as it had been in Bengal. When the Company did not reap the expected level of profit, a new system of settlement known as the Village Settlement was implemented between 1804 and 1814 in the districts of Tinnevely, Trichinopoly, Coimbatore, North Arcot and South Arcot. As per the new settlement, the land was leased out to the principal cultivators, who, in turn, leased the land to ryots. However, as the Village Settlement had very few differences with the Permanent Settlement, it was eventually discarded and the Ryotwari Settlement was implemented by Sir Thomas Munro between 1820 and 1827. According to this new settlement, land was handed over directly to the ryots or farmers. As per this new settlement, the ryots paid their rent directly to the Government. The land was assessed and the revenue was fixed by the Government anmd taxable land was made known. This system had a number of advantages as well as disadvantages for the ryots. In 1833, Lord William Bentinck implemented a new system called the Mahalwari system as per which the landlords as well as the ryots entered into a contract with the Government.

In 1911, the greater part of the land was held by cultivators or ryots who paid rent directly to the Government. Zamindari estates occupied about , more than one-fourth of the whole presidency. The peshkash or tribute payable to government in perpetuity was about £330,000 a year. Inams, revenue-free or quit-rent grants of lands made for religious endowments or for services rendered to the state, occupied an aggregate area of nearly . In 1945-46, there were 20,945,456 acres of Zamindari estates which yielded a revenue of Rs. 97,83,167 and 58,904,798 acres of ryotwari lands which yielded a revenue of Rs. 7,26,65,330. Madras had a forest cover of 15,782 square miles.

The Land Estates Act of 1908 was passed by the Madras Government in order to protect cultivators in Zamindaris from being exploited. According to this act, ryots were made permanent occupants of the land. But far from protecting the ryots, this legislation proved to be detrimental to the interests of the cultivators in the Oriya-speaking northern districts of the Presidency who were actually the intended beneficiaries, as it tied the cultivator to his land and landlord in chains of eternal serfdom. In 1933, an amendment to the Act was introduced by the Raja of Bobbili to curb the rights of Zamindars and safeguard the cultivators from exploitation. This act was passed in the legislative council despite the strong opposition of Zamindars.

Agriculture and irrigation

A 1936 map of rice stations in Madras Presidency

Almost 71% of the population of Madras Presidency was engaged in agriculture. The agricultural year usually commenced with the 1st of July. The crops cultivated in Madras Presidency included cereals as rice, corn, kambhu and ragi, vegetables as brinjal, sweet potato, ladies' finger, beans, onion, garlic and spices as chilli, pepper and ginger, vegetable oils such as castor oil and groundnut oil and fruits as lime, banana jackfruit, cashew nut, mango, custard apple and papaya. In addition to these, cabbage, cauliflower, pomelo, peach, betel pepper, niger seed and millet were introduced from Asia, Africa or Europe, while grapes were introduced from Australia. The total cultivated area used for food crops was 80% and cash crops, 15%. Of the gross area, rice occupied 26.4 percent; kambhu, 10 percent; ragi, 5.4 percent and Cholam, 13.8 percent. Of the cash crops, cotton occupied , oilseeds, 2.08 million, spices,0.4 million and indigo, 0.2 million. In 1898, Madras produced 7.47 million tons of food grains from of crop grown on of ryotwari and inam lands with a population of 28 million. The rice yield was 7 to 10 cwt. per acre, the cholam yields were 3.5 to 6.25 cwt. per acre, khambu, 3.25 to 5 cwt. per acre and ragi, 4.25 to 5 cwt. per acre. The average gross turnout for food crops was 6.93 cwt. per acre.

Irrigation along the east coast is carried out mostly by means of dams across rivers, lakes and tanks. The main source of water for agriculture in Coimbatore district were tanks.

The Land Improvement and Agriculturists Loan Act was passed in 1884 to provide funds for the construction of wells and utilization in reclamation projects. In the early part of the 20th century, the Madras government established the Pumping and Boring Department to set up borewells and electric pumps. The Mettur Dammarker, the Periyar Project, the Cudappah-Kurnool canal and the Rushikulya Project were the biggest irrigation projects launched by the Madras Government. The Mettur Dam was constructed at the mouth of the Hogenakkal Falls on the Madras-Mysore border in 1934 to provide water for the western districts of the Presidency. The Periyar Dam (now known as the Idukki Dam) was constructed across the Periyar river near the Travancore border. The purpose was to divert the waters of the Periyar river to the east in order to irrigate the arid lands to the east of the Western Ghats. Similarly,the Rushikulya Project was launched to utilize the waters of the Rushikulya river in Ganjam. This project brought over of land under irrigation. The British also constructed a number of dams, anaicuts and canals for irrigation. An upper anaicut was constiurcted across the Kollidam river near Srirangam island. The Dowlaishwaram anaicut across the Godavari river, the Gunnavaram aqueduct across the Vaineteyam Godavari, the Kurnool-Cuddapah canal and the Krishna anaicut are some of the major irrigation works created by the British. In 1946-47, the total area under irrgation was 9,736,974 acres acres which yielded a return of 6.94% on capital outlay.

Trade, industry and commerce

Workshops of the Madras Automobiles Ltd., c.a.

The trade of the Madras Presidency comprised both the trade of the Presidency with other Provinces and the overseas trade of the Presidency. External trade made up 93 percent of the total trade of the Presidency and internal trade made up the remainder. 70 percent of the trade was with foreign countries while 23 percent was with other provinces of India. In 1900-01, imports from other provinces of British India amounted to Rs. 13.43 crores while exports to other provinces amounted to Rs. 11.52 crores. During the same year, the exports to other countries amounted to Rs. 11.74 crores and imports amounted to Rs. 6.62 crores. At the time of India's independence, imports of the Presidency amounted to Rs. 71.32 crores a year while exports were valued at Rs. 64.51 crores. Trade with the United Kingdom made up 31.54% of the total trade of the Presidency while Madras was the chief port accounting for 49% of the total trade.

Cotton piece-goods, cotton twist and yarn, metals and kerosene oil were the main items of import while animal hides and skins, raw cotton, coffee and piece-goods were the main items of export. Raw cotton, animal hides, oil seeds, grains, pulses, coffee, tea and cotton manufactures were the main items of sea trade. Most of the sea trade was carried through Madras which was the principal port in the Presidency. Other important ports were Gopalpur, Kalingapatnam, Bimlipatnam, Visakhapatnam, Masulipatnam, Cocanada, Madras, Cuddalore, Negapatam, Pamban and Tuticorin on the east coast and Mangalore, Cannanore, Calicut, Tellicherry, Cochin, Alleppey, Quilon and Colachel on the west coast. The port of Cochin was taken over by the Government of India on August 1, 1936 and that of Madras on April 1, 1937. There were Chambers of Commerce in Madras, Cochin and Cocanada. These chambers nominated a member each to the Madras Legislative Council.

Cotton-ginning and weaving are some of the main industries in the Madras Presidency. Cotton was produced in large quantities in Bellary district and was pressed in Georgetownmarker, Madras. But the scarcity of cotton in Lancashire caused by the damage to the trade with the United States of America during the Civil War gave an impetus to the cotton and textile production in the Presidency that cotton presses were established all over the Presidency. In the early years of the 20th century, Coimbatore emerged as an important centre for cotton textiles and earned the epithet "Manchester of South India". The northern districts of Godavari, Vizagapatam and Kistna were famous cotton-weaving centres in the Presidency. There was a sugar factory at Aska in Ganjam run by F. J. V. Minchin and another at Nellikuppam in South Arcot district run by East India distilleries and Sugar Factories Company. Tobacco was cultivated in large quantities in the Telugu-speaking northern districts of the Presidency. The tobacco produced was rolled in tobacco leaves into cheroots. Trichinopoly, Madras and Dindigul were the main cheroot-producing areas. Until the discovery of artificial aniline and alizarine dyes, Madras had a thriving vegetable dye manufacturing industry. Madras also imported large quantities of aluminium for the manufacture of aluminium utensils. The Madras Government Chrome Tanning Factory was started in the early 1900s for the manufacture of high-quality leather. The first brewery in the Presidency was founded in the Nilgiri Hills in 1826. Coffee was cultivated in the region of Wynadmarker and the kingdoms of Coorgmarker and Mysoremarker while tea was cultivated on the slopes of the Nilgiri Hills. Coffee plantations were also established in Travancore but a severe blight at the end of the 19th century destroyed coffee cultivation in the kingdom and almost wiped out coffee plantations in the neighbouring Wynad. Coffee-curing works were located at Calicutmarker, Tellicherrymarker, Mangaloremarker and Coimbatoremarker. In 1947, Madras had 3,761 factories with 276,586 operatives.

The Madras Presidency also had a thriving fishing industry. Shark's fins, fish maws and fish curing-operations comprised the main sources of income for fishermen. The southern port of Tuticorin was a centre of conch-fishing but Madras, along with Ceylon, was mainly known for its pearl fisheries. Pearl fisheries were harvested by the Paravas and was a lucrative profession.

The total revenue of the Presidency was Rs. 57 crores in 1946-47. The makeup was as follows: Land revenue, Rs. 8.53 crores; Excise, Rs. 14.68 crores; Income tax, Rs. 4.48 crores; Stamp revenue, Rs. 4.38 crores; forests, Rs. 1.61 crores; other taxes, Rs. 8.45 crores; Extraordinary receipts, Rs. 2.36 crores and revenue fund, Rs.5.02 crores. The total expenditure for 1946-47 was Rs. 56.99 crores. 208,675 k.v.a of electricity was generated at the end of 1948 of which 98% was under government ownership. The total amount of power generated was 467 million units.

The Madras Stock Exchange was established in Madras citymarker in the year 1920 with a strength of 100 members but it gradually faded away and the membership was reduced to 3 in 1923 and had to be closed down. However, the Madras Stock Exchange was successfully revived in September 1937 and was incorporated as the Madras Stock Exchange Association Limited. EID Parry, Binny and Co. and Arbuthnot Bank were the largest private-owned business corporations at the turn of the 20th century. EID Parry manufactured and sold chemical fertilizers and sugar while the Binnys marketed cotton garments and uniforms manufactured at its spinning and weaving facility, the Buckingham and Carnatic Mills in Otteri. Arbuthnot, owned by the Arbuthnot family, was the largest bank in the Presidency till its crash in 1906. Reduced to penury, its disillusioned Indian investors established the Indian Bank with funds donated by Nattukottai Chetties.

In 1913-14, Madras had 247 companies. In 1947, Madras led in the establishment of registered factories. However, Madras employed only 62% of the total productive capital.

The first Western-style banking institution in India was the Madras Bank which was established on June 21, 1683 with a capital of one hundred thousand pounds sterling. This was followed by the opening of the Carnatic Bank in 1788, Bank of Madras in 1795 and the Asiatic Bank in 1804. In 1843, all the banks were merged together to form the Bank of Madras. The Bank of Madras had branches in all major cities of the Presidency and the princely states as Coimbatoremarker, Mangaloremarker, Calicutmarker, Tellicherry, Alleppymarker, Cocanada, Gunturmarker, Masulipatnam, Ootacamundmarker, Negapataam, Tuticorinmarker, Bangaloremarker, Cochinmarker and Colombomarker in Ceylon. In 1921, the Bank of Madras was merged with the Bank of Bombay and the Bank of Bengal to form the Imperial Bank of India. In the 19th century, the Arbuthnot Bank was one of the largest private-owned banks in the Presidency. The City Union Bank, the Indian Bank, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank,Nadar Bank, Karur Vysya Bank, Catholic Syrian Bank, Karnataka Bank, Bank of Chettinad, ING Vysya Bank, Vijaya Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and the Bank of Madura were some of the leading banks headquartered in the Presidency.

Transport and communication

Map of the Madras and South Mahratta Railway lines

In the early days, the only means of transportation were bullock-carts, jhatkas and palanquins. Tipu Sultan was considered to be a pioneer in the construction of roads. The roads connecting Madras to Calcutta in the north and the kingdom of Travancore in the south were actually created to serve as lines of communication during wars. Starting from the early 1900s, bullock-carts and horses were gradually replaced by bicycles and motor vehicles . Motor buses were the main means of private road transport in the early 1900s. Presidency Transport and the City Motor Service were the pioneers, operating buses manufactured by Simpson and Co. as early as 1910. The first organized bus system in Madras city was operated by Madras Tramways Corporation between 1925 and 1928. In 1939, the Motor Vehicles Act was passed imposing restrictions on public-owned bus and motor services. Most of the early bus services were operated by private agencies.

The first organized initiative for the construction of new roads and maintenance of existing roads in the Presidency was made in 1845 with the appointment of a special officer for the maintenance of main roads. The principal roads under the of the officer were the Madras-Bangalore road, Madras-Trichinopoly road, Madras-Calcutta road, Madras- Cuddapah road and the Sumpajee Ghaut road. The Public Works Department was started by Lord Dalhousie in 1852. In 1855, an East coast canal was constructed for the purpose of easy navigation. Roadways were handled by the Public Works Secretariat which was under the control of the member of the Governor's Executive Council in charge of public works. The principal highways of the Presidency were the Madras-Calcutta road, the Madras-Travancore road and the Madras-Calicut road. In 1946-47, Madras Presidency had 26,201 miles of metalled roads and 14,406 miles of unmetalled roads, and 1,403 miles of navigable canals.

The first railway line in South India was laid between Madras and Arcot and opened for traffic on July 1, 1856. This line was constructed by the Madras Railway Company which had been formed in 1845. The railway station at Royapurammarker, the first in South India, was constructed in 1853 and served as the headquarters of the Madras Railway Company. The Great Southern Indian Railway Company was formed in the United Kingdom in 1853. The Company established its headquarters at Trichinopoly and constructed its first railway line between Trichinopoly and Negapatam in 1859. The Madras Railway Company operated standard or broad-gauge railway lines while the Great South Indian Railway Company operated metre-gauge railway lines. The Great Southern Indian Railway Company merged with the Carnatic Railway Company (established in 1864) and was renamed as the Southern Indian Railway Company in 1874. The Southern Indian Railway Company merged with the Pondicherry Railway Company in 1891 while the Madras Railway Company merged with the Southern Mahratta Railway Company in 1908 to form the Madras and South Mahratta Railway Company. A new terminus was built at Egmoremarker for the Madras and South Mahratta Railway Company. In 1927, the South Indian Railway Company shifted its headquarters from Madurai to Chennai Centralmarker. The company operated a suburban electric train service for Madras city from May 1931 onwards. In April 1944, the Madras and South Mahratta Railway Company was taken over by the Madras Government. In 1947, there were 4,961 miles of railway in the Presidency, in addition to 136 miles of district board lines. Madras was well-connected with other Indian cities as Bombay and Calcutta and with Ceylon. The 6,776-foot Pamban railway bridge connecting Mandapammarker on the Indian mainland with Pamban islandmarker was opened for traffic in 1914. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was inaugurated between Mettupalayam and Ootacamundmarker in 1899.

The Madras Tramways Corporation was promoted in Madras city in 1892 by Hutchinsons and Co. and began its operations in 1895, even before Londonmarker had its own. It plied six routes in Madras linking distant parts of Madras city, covering 17 miles in all.

The chief navigable waterways in the Presidency were the canals in the Godavari and the Kistna deltas. The Buckingham canal was created in 1806 at a cost of rupees 90 lakhs and connected the city of Madras to the delta of the Kistna river at Peddaganjam. The ships of the British India Steam Navigation Company frequently touched at Madras. They also provided frequent services to Bombay, Calcutta, Colombo and Rangoon.

In 1917, Simpson and Co. arranged for the test flight of the first aeroplane in Madras. A flying club was established at the Mount Golf Club grounds near St Thomas Mountmarker by a pilot named G. Vlasto in October 1929. This site was later used as the Madras aerodrome. One of the early members of the club, Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar established an aerodrome in his native Chettinad. On October 15, 1932, Royal Air Force pilot Nevill Vintcent piloted J. R. D. Tata's plane carrying air-mail from Bombay to Madrasmarker via Bellary. This was the beginning of Tata Sons' regular domestic passenger and airmail service from Karachi to Madras. The flight was later re-routed through Hyderabad and converted into a bi-weekly. On November 26, 1935, Tata Sons started an experimental weekly service from Bombay to Trivandrum via Goa and Cannanore. From February 28, 1938 onwards, Tata Sons' Aviation division, now renamed as Tata Airlines, started organizing a Karachi to Colombo airmail service via Madras and Trichinopoly. On March 2, 1938, the Bombay-Trivandrum air service was extended to Trichinopoly.

The first organized postal service was established between Madras and Calcutta by Governor Edward Harrison in 1712. The system was reformed and a regularized postal system was started by Sir Archibald Campbell and came into effect from June 1, 1786 onwards. The Presidency was divided into three postal divisions: Madras North up to Ganjam, Madras South-West to Anjengo (erstwhile Travancore) and Madras West, up to Vellore. In the same year, a link with Bombay was established. In 1837, the Madras, Bombay and Calcutta mail services were integrated together to form the All-India Service and on October 1, 1854, the first stamps were issued by the Imperial Postal Service. The General Post Office (GPO), Madras, was established by Sir Archibald Campbell in 1786. In 1872-73, a bimonthly seamail service was started between Madras and Rangoon. This was followed by the commencement of a fortnightly seamail service between Madras and ports on the eastern coast.

Madras was linked to the rest of the world through telegraphs in 1853 and a civilian telegraph service was introduced on February 1, 1855. Soon, telegraph lines were established linking Madras and Ootacamund with other cities in India. A Telegraph department was set up in 1854 and a Deputy Superintendent was stationed in Madras city. In 1882, the Colombomarker-Talaimannarmarker telegraph line, which was established in 1858, was extended up to Madras thereby connecting Madras with Ceylonmarker. Telephones were introduced in the Presidency in 1881. On November 19, 1881, the first telephone exchange with 17 connections was established at Errabalu Street in Madras. A wireless telgraphy service was established between Madras and Port Blair in 1920 and in 1936, the Indo-Burma radio telephone service was established between Madras and Rangoon.


The first schools imparting Western-style education in the Presidency were established in Madras city in the 18th century. In 1822, a Board of Public Instruction was created based on the recommendations of Sir Thomas Munro and schools teaching students in the vernacular languages was established. A central training school was established in Madras city as per Munro's scheme. However, this system appeared to be a failure and the policy was altered in 1836 in order to promote European literature and science. The Board of Public Instruction was superseded by a Committee for Native Education. In January 1840, during the viceroyalty of Lord Ellenborough, a University Board was established with Alexander J. Arbuthnot as the Joint Director of Public Instruction. The central school was converted to a high school in April 1841 with 67 students and became the Presidency Collegemarker with the addition of a college department in 1853. On September 5, 1857, the University of Madras was established as an examining body on the model of the University of London and the first examinations were held in February 1858. C. W. Thamotharam Pillai and Caroll V. Visvanatha Pillai of Ceylon were the first graduates of the University.Sir S. Subramaniya Iyer was the first Indian Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Similarly, the Andhra University was established by the Andhra University Act of 1925 and in 1937, the University of Travancore was established in the princely state of Travancore.

The Government Arts College, established in Kumbakonammarker in 1867, was one of the first educational institutions outside Madras city. The oldest engineering college in the Presidency, the Guindy Engineering College, was established as the Government Survey School in 1794 before being upgraded to an Engineering College in 1861. Initially, the only course taught was Civil Engineering, but later other disciplines as Mechanical Engineering in 1894, Electrical Engineering in 1930 and Telecommunication and Highways in 1945 were introduced. The AC College, which emphasized on textiles and leather technology was founded by Alagappa Chettiar in 1944. The Madras Institute of Technology, which introduced courses such as Aeronautical and automobile engineering was established in 1949. The first medical school in the Presidency was established in 1827 and the Madras Medical College was founded in 1835. In 1856, the Government Teacher's College was established at Saidapetmarker in order to train teachers in the Presidency.

Among private institutions, the Pachaiyappa's College, established in 1842, is the oldest Hindu educational instituition in the Presidency. The Annamalai University, established by Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar in his native Chettinad in 1929, is the first residential university in the Presidency with hostel facilities Christian missionaries were pioneers in promoting education in the Presidency. The Madras Christian College, St.Aloysius College at Mangalore, Loyola College in Madras and the St. Peter's College at Tanjore are some educational institutions established by Christian missionaries.

The Madras Presidency had the highest literacy rate of all the provinces in British India. In 1901, Madras had a male literacy rate of 11.9 percent and a female literacy rate of 0.9 percent. In 1950, when the Madras Presidency became the Madras state, the literacy rate was slightly higher than the national average of 18 percent. In 1901,there were 26,771 public and private institutions in the Presidency with 923,760 scholars of whom 784,621 were male and 139,139 female. By 1947, the number of educational institutions had increased to 37,811 and the number of scholars to 3,989,686. Apart from colleges, there were 31,975 public and elementary schools and 720 secondary schools for boys and 4,173 elementary and 181 secondary schools for girls in 1947. Most of the early graduates were Brahmins. The preponderence of Brahmins in the universities and in the civic administration was one of the main causes for the growth of the Non-Brahmin movement in the Presidency. Madras was also the first province in British India where caste-based communal reservations were introduced.

In 1923, the Madras University Act was passed. The bill was introduced by Education Minister Sir A. P. Patro. As per the provisions of this bill, the governing body of the Madras University was completely reorganized on democratic lines. The bill asserted that the governing body would henceforth be headed by a Chancellor who would be assisted by a pro-Chancellor who was usually the Minister of Education. Apart from the Chancellor and the pro-Chancellor who were elected, there was to be a Vice-Chancellor appointed by the Chancellor.

Culture and society

Hindus, Muslims and Indian Christians generally followed a joint family system. The society was largely patriarchal with the eldest male member of the family being the leader of the family. Most of the Presidency followed a patrilineal system of inheritance. The only exceptions were the district of Malabar and the princely states of Travancore and Cochin where the system of marumakkathayam was practised.

Women were expected to confine themselves to indoor activities and the maintenance of the household. Muslims and high-caste Hindu women observed purdah. The daughter in the family rarely received education and usually helped her mother in household chores. Upon marriage, she moved to the house of her in-laws. In her in-laws house, she was expected to serve her husband and the elder members of the family. There have been recorded instances of torture and illtreatement of daughter-in-laws. A Brahmin widow was expected to shave her head and was subjected to numerous indignities.

The rural society was made of villages where people of different communities lived together. Brahmins lived in separate streets called agraharams. Untouchables lived outside village limits in small hamlets called cheris and were strictly forbidden from having residences in the village. They were also forbidden from entering important Hindu temples or approaching a high-caste Hindu.

With the influx of Western education starting from the middle of the 19th century, social reforms were introduced to removed the ills in traditional Indian society. The Malabar Marriage of 1896 legalized sambandham. The marmakkathayam system was abolished by the Marmakkathayam Law of 1933. Numerous measures were taken for the upliftment of Dalits. The Thirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams Act (1933), which included Dalits in the devasthanams administration and the Temple Entry Authorization Act (1939) enacted in the Madras Presidency and the Temple Entry Proclamation (1936) of Travancore were aimed at elevating the status of Dalit and other low castes to a position equal to that of high-caste Hindus. In 1872, T. Muthuswamy Iyer established the Widow Remarriage Association in Madras and advocated the marriage of Brahmin widows. The Widow Remarriage movement was spearheaded in Godavari district by Kandukuri Virasilingam Pantulu. Most of the pioneers of social reform were Indian nationalists.

The traditional pastimes and forms of recreation in rural areas were cock-fighting, bull-fighting, village fairs and plays. Men in urban areas indulged in social and communistic activities as recreation clubs, music concerts or sabhas, dramas and welfare organizations. Carnatic music and bharatanatyam were especially patronized by the upper and upper-middle class Madras society. Of the sports introduced by the British in the Presidency, cricket, tennis, football and hockey were the most popular. An annual cricket tournament known as the Buchi Babu Memorial Tournament was held between Indians and Europeans during Pongal.

The first newspaper in the Presidency was the Madras Courier which was started on October 12, 1785 by Richard Johnston, who was a printer employed with the British East India Company. The first Indian-owned English-language newspaper was The Madras Crescent which was established by freedom-fighter Gazulu Lakshminarasu Chetty in October 1844. Lakshminarasu Chetty is also credited with the foundation of the Madras Presidency Association which was a fore-runner of the Indian National Congress. The number of newspapers and periodicals published in the Presidency totalled 821 in 1948. The two most popular English-language newspapers were The Hindu established by G. Subramanya Iyer in 1878 and The Mail, established as the Madras Times by the Gantz family in 1868.

Regular radio service in the Presidency commenced in 1938 when the All India Radio established a station in Madras. Cinemas became popular in the Presidency in the 1930s and 1940s. The first film in a South Indian language was R. Nataraja Mudaliar's Tamil film Keechaka Vadham which released in 1916. The first sound films in Tamil and Telugu were made in 1931. The first Kannada talkie Sati Sulochana was made in 1934 and the first Malayalam talkie Balan in 1938. M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and M. S. Subbulakshmi were the prominent film actors in the Presidency. There were cinema studios at Coimbatoremarker, Salemmarker, Madras, Karaikudimarker and Kakinadamarker. Most of the early films were made in Coimbatore and Salem. However, from the 1940s onwards, Madras began to emerge as the principal center of film production. Until the 1950s, most films in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam were made in Madras.

Image:Tamil brahmin couple circa 1945.jpg|A Westernized middle-class urban Tamil couple. c.a .1945Image:Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar aerodrome.JPG|Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar (third from left) at his aerodrome in Chettinad. c.a. 1940.Image:Ambikapathycolour.jpg|Tamil film actor M. K. Thyagaraja BhagavatharImage:Nambudiri house 1909.jpg|A Nambudhiri Brahman's house, c.a. 1909Image:Hindu devotees Secunderamalai Madurai.jpg|Hindu devotees in procession around the temple at Tirupparamkunrammarker, c.a. 1909Image:Kapu bride and groom 1909.jpg|Telugu bride and groom belonging to the Kapu caste, c.a. 1909Image:Kalki 03 1948.jpg|Cover of Tamil magazine Kalki issue dated March 28, 1948Image:William Henry Jackson-Refreshment stall.jpg|Refreshment stall at a railway station in the Madras Presidency, c. a. 1895

See also


  1. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 138-142
  2. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 248
  3. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 247
  4. History of the Tamils, Pg 535
  5. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 249
  6. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 2, Pg 6
  7. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 5
  8. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 6
  9. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 7
  10. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 19
  11. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 26
  12. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 26
  13. Newell, Pg 18
  14. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 281
  15. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol I, Pg 282
  16. India Office List 1905, Pg 121
  17. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 251
  18. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 252
  19. A History of India, Pg 245
  20. Codrington, Chapter X:Transition to British administration
  21. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 254
  22. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 255
  23. Read, Pg 34–37
  24. Kamath, Pg 250
  25. Kamath, Pg 250-253
  26. Tercentenary, Pg 223
  27. Romesh Chunder Dutt, p10
  28. Mazumdar, Pg 58
  29. Mazumdar, Pg 59
  30. Annie Besant, Pg 35
  31. Annie Besant, Pg 36
  32. Slater, Pg 168
  33. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 179
  34. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 180
  35. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 182
  36. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 190
  37. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 196
  38. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 197
  39. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 199
  40. Caste in Indian Politics, Pg 116
  41. Rajagopalachari, Pg 149
  42. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 327
  43. Ganjam district was transferred to the newly-formed province of Orissa in 1936
  44. In 1925, Godavari district was bifurcated into West Godavari and East Godavari districts
  45. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 120
  46. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 121
  47. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 6
  48. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 260
  49. Statesman, Pg 174
  50. Statesman, Pg 141
  51. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 337
  52. An Universal History, Pg 110
  53. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 137
  54. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 73
  55. Madras in the Olden Time, Vol II, Pg 198
  56. Armies of India, Pg 4
  57. Armies of India, Pg 7
  58. Armies of India, Pg 20
  59. Armies of India, Pg 21
  60. Armies of India, Pg 14
  61. Armies of India, Pg 15
  62. Armies of India, Pg 57
  63. Armies of India, Pg 123
  64. Armies of India, Pg 126
  65. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 82
  66. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 83
  67. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 85
  68. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 86
  69. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 88
  70. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 89
  71. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 90
  72. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 91
  73. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 92
  74. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 93
  75. Official Administration of the Madras Presidency, Pg 94
  76. 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  77. Statesman, Pg 154
  78. Statesman, Pg 155
  79. Thangaraj, Pg 287
  80. Patnaik, Pg 330
  81. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 193
  82. The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 276
  83. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 194
  84. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 195
  85. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 196
  86. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 197
  87. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 199
  88. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 200
  89. The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 274
  90. The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 278
  91. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 199
  92. Gough, Pg 130
  93. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 203
  94. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 205
  95. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 206
  96. Statesman, Pg 175
  97. Imperial Gazetteer of India, Pg 297
  98. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 354
  99. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 43
  100. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 36
  101. Imperial Gazetteer of India, Pg 298
  102. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 208
  103. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 210
  104. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 211
  105. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 212
  106. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 213
  107. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 214
  108. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 216
  109. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 219
  110. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 220
  111. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 223
  112. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 222
  113. Muthiah, Pg 264
  114. Muthiah, Pg 261
  115. Muthiah, Pg 262
  116. Muthiah, Pg 263
  117. Muthiah, Pg 338
  118. Muthiah, Pg 339
  119. Sinha, Pg 44
  120. Provincial Geographies of India, Pg 185
  121. Muthiah, Pg 323
  122. Mill, Pg 134
  123. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 303
  124. Muthiah, Pg 321
  125. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 301
  126. Muthiah, Pg 322
  127. Indian Empire Souvenir, Pg 14
  128. Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908, Vol 16, Pg 304
  129. Muthiah, Pg 127
  130. Impressions of Ceylon, Pg 207
  131. Muthiah, Pg 54
  132. Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908, Vol XVI, Pg 383
  133. Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908, Vol XVI, Pg 338
  134. Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908, Vol XVI, Pg 339
  135. Encyclopedia of Political Parties, Pg 74
  136. Craik, Pg 260
  137. Muthiah, Pg 239
  138. Muthiah, Pg 240
  139. Muthiah, Pg 241
  140. Indian Empire Souvenir, Pg 41
  141. Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908, Vol XVI, Pg 343
  142. Seal, Pg 103
  143. Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908, Vol XVI, Pg 345
  144. Mehrotra, Pg 23
  145. Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908, Vol XVI, Pg 361
  146. Home Life in India, Pg 62
  147. Home Life in India, Pg 22
  148. Home Life in India, Pg 63
  149. Home Life in India, Pg 64
  150. Home Life in India, Pg 65
  151. Home Life in India, Pg 66
  152. Home Life in India, Pg 35 - 41
  153. Muthiah, Pg 50
  154. Muthiah, Pg 53
  155. Muthiah, Pg 54
  156. Muthiah, Pg 51
  157. Muthiah, Pg 164


Cover of the Provincial Geographies of India, Madras issue

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