Social Scientist. v 16, no. 181-82 (June-July 1988) p. 35.

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The Ryotwari Land Revenue Settlements and Peasant Resistance in the 'Northern Division of Ar cot' of the Madras Presidency during Early British Rule

Early in the nineteenth century, many significant changes took place in South India: viz., the establishment of British authority over several tracts; the introduction of new land laws which brought about major structural changes in society; the fall-out of events in the southern pollams, ceded districts, northern sirkars, Chittoor pollams; and 'the changes effected with regard to the position of the poligars and zamindars. These factors began to transform the Northern Division of Arcot (present North Arcot of Tamilnadu and Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh) and the Chittoor pollams (in the present Chittoor district) of the Madras presidency also. As a part of these changes, settlements were made either with the landlords (zamindari settlements) or with the peasants (ryotwari settlements) in the sirkar lands and in those resumed in the poligars1 (Chittoor) territories. The desire to extract as much surplus produce as the land could yield underlay the growing tendency to make settlements directly with the cultivators.1 An assessment of the effect this had on the ryots is, hence, essential for an understanding of the rebellion of the Chittoor and North Arcot ryots2

When Stratton was appointed as the first British Collector of the Northern Division of Arcot in 1801, after its acquisition from the Nawab of Arcot in that year, he was given power to make revenue settlements. While making his first settlement in fasli 1211 (1801-1802), he adopted the system of village rents in the sirkar lands and also in the resumed parts of poligari lands.3 This was in fact the re-establishment of the old mirasi system but with certain alterations.4

Stratton was succeeded by David Cockburn (1903-1805), who was transferred from the district of Salem to the 'Northern Division of Arcot and Baramahal and the Balaghat districts'. With the experience he had with Munro under Captain Read in Salem, he introduced the ryotwari system in place of Stratton's village renting system.

The settlement of land revenues under the Ryotwari system of Munro was, in general, with the actual cultivators of the soil, without joint

^Lecturer in History, Jawahar Bharathi, Andhra Pradesh

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