|Yale with Duke of Devonshire & Lord Cavendish. 1708 painting. credit:zazzle.com|
|Yale Univ. old campus,New Haven,ct,usa. credit:trivia.serendip.in|
|St. Marys Church,Madras.Yale married here. credit. thehindu.com|
Elihu Yale (April 5, 1649 – July 8, 1721) was a British trader and Governor of the British East India Company, Fort St.George, at Madras (now Chennai). He was the benefactor of the Collegiate School of Connecticut, which in 1718 was renamed Yale College in his honor.
Yale's ancestry can be traced back to the family estate at Plas yn Iâl in Wales.The name Yale is the English spelling of the Welsh place name, Iâl. Yale served the British East India Company for 20 years, and became the second governor of Fort St. George, the company's post at Madras , India, in 1687. The Government General Hospital, housed at Fort St. George saw major development during his period.
It is indeed an interesting fact that Yale's wedding with Catherine Hynmers, a widow, took place on November 04, 1680 in St. Mary's Church, at Fort St. George, where Yale was a vestryman and treasurer. His marriage was the first one registered at the church.
During his time there was a flourishing slave trade in Madras and the slave traders were the heartless British traders who had world wide connections. When the demand for Indian slaves was on the increase, the English merchants in order to make quick bucks, started kidnapping young children and deported them to far-off places very much against their will. Consequently the Indian families were in great mental agony. Under pressure from the ruling Mogul ruler to put end to this menace and nefarious, activities of some of the greedy English traders, Elihu Yale, on 2 February, 1688, made it compulsory that slaves should be examined by the judges of the choultry (free inn for travelers) before being transported. Transportation of young children, in particular, was made unlawful through his sustained efforts. However, Yale himself became a slave exporter and saw to it 12 slaves exported each day to Europe.
During Yale's Presidency, with support from Josiah Child, a council member, a Charter issued by the Crown came into effect on 29 September, 1688, and a Corporation was established at Madras, comprising a Mayor. Yale also made vast improvements to the General Hospital operating within the precinct of Fort. St. George.
When the region came under the Mogul control (emperor Aurangazeb), the Mogul granted independence in return for help from the British in their fight against the Marathas. Yale lost his son David in the midst of this crucial period while with the English company here and his son's body was interred in Madras cemetery. In 1689 and 1690 the French ships from near-by Pondicherry port town frequently attacked the English positions all along the coast and caused a lot of damages. The French and the English were at loggerheads over their trade activities in India and the French were the major competitors. At last, through the efforts of Yale, the French were later subdued.
During his tenure with the British East India company at Madras, Yale was an efficient administrator and was known for quick action and decision-making but, unfortunately, he did not have have clean hands. The factor that might have influenced him was, in those days, many of the East India British company officials were corrupt and were not bothered about their integrity and loyalty to their parent company in England. He became over ambitious, wanted to become rich overnight and earned huge fortune by way of secret contracts with Madras merchants, against the East India Company's directives. His connection with the slave trade in Madras got embarrassment for the company. His unethical approach towards the local traders, in spite of company's resentment, continued unabated. By 1692, Elihu Yale was dismissed from the company's services as he became more corrupt far beyond company's tolerance and, further, the company was unable to put him on the right tract, in consideration of his being a good administrator.
Later he returned to England to settle down there for good. In 1718, Cotton Mather, a representative of a small educational institution in New Heaven, Connecticut, USA contacted Yale for help to construct additional buildings. Yale, being charitable as he was, obligingly donated Mather valuable goods that had fetched him 800.00 pounds sterling - a huge bundle in those days. The officials named a building in the Collegiate School of Connecticut after Yale; subsequently it became Yale College. Despite his human frailty, Yale was a great human being, a man of philanthropic disposition. To day, centuries later the Yale university stands as a great monument in honor of Yale, whose fortuitous early career began in Madras in the Indian subcontinent. His dishonesty and slave trade connections in Madras, India may be set aside as aberrations in his early life