|Ft. David, Cuddalore, TN,India. en.wikipedia.org/wiki|
Fort St. David, an ancient English fort is located in the vicinity of Cuddalore, on the river Gadilum on the Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu. This historical monument is now in a dilapidated condition because of negligence on the part of ASI which is under the central government. This region was under the Gingee Nayak rule in the 17th century. Through negotiations, the Dutch traders were given permission in 1608 by the local Nayak rulers to build a fort as they chose Cuddalore for their mercantile trades. Since Portuguese had more influence with the ruler, at last, the deal was called off in the middle, obviously at the instigation of the Portuguese who found the Dutch their tough competitors. The fort was initially built by a Hindu merchant in the year 1677. The Marathas took control of this fort along with Gingee fort under Shivaji' s son Rajaram Chhatrapati. During the Mogul attack, the Gingee fort was under siege and the Maratha ruler sold the Devipatnam (Cuddalore) fort to the highest bidder - the British East India company (1690). They also bought the adjacent villages which were later called ''cannonball'' villages. Elihu Yale was instrumental in getting the control over the fort through successful bidding. The Fort was named Ft. St. David in memory of the patron Saint of Wales. After purchase, the British carried out major repair works in the fort to safeguard their trading activities and merchandise.
During this time, Elihu Yale (of Yale university,USA fame), was the Governor of Madras. Regarding acquisition of the fort near Cuddalore, there were some allegations made against Yale that he purchased the territory for private purposes with East India Company funds, including a fort at Tevnapatam (now Cuddalore). He refuted the charges, however, his under dealings with the local traders at Madras against the company and corrupt practices landed him in the soup. He got a bad rap from the higher ups in the British company.
In order to maintain the colonial garrison and town (Cuddalore) which was a costly affair for EIC, Yale imposed high taxes, resulting in disappointment and resentment among the locals and, further, he failed to develop close relationship with garrison soldiers. This culminated in revolts against his autocratic behavior and Yale used brute forces to quell the upraising by the soldiers. Here, Yale got his name tarnished on account of his intemperate action against the natives on his own authority and in one instance, without scruples, he had a stable boy hanged to death. His crime was, being childish as he was, the boy rode away with the company horse. His handling of people in the garrison town of Cuddalore was condemned and consequently the company 's name was further damaged by Yale's antics. The company authorities, having no choice, subsequently removed him in 1692 from the post.
|Elihu Yale (1649 – 1721) Gov. of Madras,India. en.wikipedia.org|
James MacRae, the governor of the fort strengthened it in 1740s as it became the British headquarters in the southern region, besides they needed a strong fort against the French attack. The French settlement of Pondicherry was just near Cuddalore. In 1756, Robert Clive (who was to become the founder of the British empire) served as the governor of Fort St David. There were some skirmishes between the British and the French under Dupleix and the control of the fort kept changing. Sir Eyre Coote, KB finally brought stability to the fort and the region. Again another bout of repair work was carried out by them.
During the Nayak period, overseas mercantile trade continued and the port became an important source of cloves, nutmeg, mace, sandalwood, camphor, green velvet, porcelain, etc.
Fort St. David, c. 1763, Francis Swaine, British Library