Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chennapatnam – Fort St.George - East India Co getting rights from the ruler

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Madraspatnam. Ft.St.George settlement. credit:wikipedia.org
Madraspatnam-Old St.George Fort. credit:peopleindia1868-1875photos,blogspot.in
Madras - light House -1844 with Madras High Court behind. credit:flicker.creativecommons.photos

The present day city of Chennai began as an English settlement known as Fort St. George. The Vijayanagar rulers who controlled the area, appointed chieftains known as Nayaks who ruled over the different regions of the province almost independently. Damerla Venkatadri Nayaka, who was a Telugu King, and an influential Padma Velama

 Nayaka chieftain under the Vijayanagara King Peda Venkata Raya based in Chandragiri-Vellore Fort, was in-charge of the area of present Chennai city when the English East India Company arrived to build a factory in the area. It was Damarla who gave the British in 1639 a grant of a piece of land lying
 between the river Cooum and the Egmore river up to their confluence. On this piece of waste land was built Fort St. George, a fortified settlement of British merchants, factory workers, and other colonial settlers. The English over a period of time expanded their colony adjacent to their fortified settlements to include a number of other Europeans.

Madras  Black Town 1851 by Fred.Feibig.credit:peopleindia 1868-1875photos.blog.in

 Francis Day on 22 August,1639, secured the Grant for the company from Damarla Venkatadri Nayaka, of Wandiwash, that gave them rights over a three-mile long strip of land, a fishing village called Madraspatnam, copies of which were endorsed by Andrew Cogan, the Chief of the Masulipatam Factory. The agreement copies are even now preserved today.. The two year Grant gave rights to the Company to build a fort and castle on about five square kilometers of its strip of land.
Upon expiry, the English went on a mission to Chandragiri to meet the new Raja and finally got a fresh grant renewed, copies of which are still available. It is dated October - November, 1645.

Madras - preindipendence. a street scene.johntheprince.blogspot.in
Francis Day and his superior Andrew Cogan can be aptly considered as the founders of Madras (now Chennai). They began construction of the Fort St George on 23 April,1640 and houses for their residence.
By the 1646, the settlement had a population of 19,000 persons and with the Portuguese and Dutch populations at their forts substantially more. To further consolidate their position, the Company combined the various settlements around and expanded Fort St. George, including its citadel and  also a larger outside area surrounded by an additional wall. This area became the Fort St. George settlement. 

As stipulated by the Treaty signed with the Nayak, the local ruler, the British and other Christian Europeans, for unknown reason,were not given permission to decorate the outside of their buildings in any other color but white. Apparently all the buildings were  in white; so,over a period of time, the area came to be known as 'White Town'!!

Initially the term 'white Town' did not carry any racial overtones. But, after the development of settlements around the fort later, where mostly natives lived, the term 'Black Town' crept in.

Ref: wikipedia.