Raja Rama Varma was the son of Chittamma Thampuran's daughter Amba and cousin of the late Raja. Bad relationships within the personal lives of the Rajas surfaced again. Raja Rama Varma refused to sign the petition for the pension recommended by the Dewan for the family of the deceased Raja. The Dewan disagreed. So did Resident Fraser. A long argument ensued. Several long letters were exchanged between the Raja, Resident and the Dewan. Ultimately the Government of Madras decreed that a pension should be provided as recommended by the Dewan from the private treasury of the Raja.
Raja’s argument given below throws light on the system of matrilineal heirship and caste system and why a son’s family or a Raja’s consort and children could not be entitled to Royal family assets. He argued that enough and more of landed property had been given to the consort.
To paraphrase excerpts of the Raja’s letter “our caste allows us only to constitute Nephews as heirs and it is not customary to marry a wife: - but in cases of a legal marriage only the woman is called a wife, and after her husband’s death a widow; such is not the case in the present instance. Coonje is a Shoodra woman, she was first married to our Paramboth Comy, a shoodra who for some time lived with her, that after his departure to Caushy, she lived with a merchant named Veeraswamy Putter of Pandy residing at Tripoontorah, and when she was 4 months pregnant my Brother took her and Coonjee’s Eldest boy Raman is the son of Veeraswamy.
The particulars of the property given for the benefit of Coonjee and children are more than that given in the line of my ancestors to their Neithyarammas,
I beg to mention for the information of Government...that to Carumpatta Sheemoocooty, a Shoodra woman and boy, a dancing girl, the Neithyaramma of my powerful Uncle who died in the year 981; to Williyavattathoo Nangiar of the ambalavasey caste, the Neithyaramma of my uncle who died in 984, and to Rethny a Shoodra woman, the Neithyaramma of my uncle who died in 1003, landed properties on anoobogham tenure and money were not given as has been granted to Coonjee. An allowance of 30 Rupees per mensom was given to Carimpatta Shemoocooty and boy and they are on the receipt of the same up to this day. Williavattathoo Nangiar having died nothing was allotted to her and Rethney was in the receipt of 15 Rupees per month; but having died in Vrischigam last, her allowance ceased. My uncle who died in the 1003 had also two Neithyarammas of the Kshatriya caste named Canneyathu Lechsmey and Coonjeecavoo, and he being continually troubled with cholic and rheumatism – Lechsmey and Coonjeecavoo had served him for a long period and thereby suffered great deal of inconvenience and they lived with my said uncle continually, the former for the space of 30, and the latter for about 19 years; that Coonjeecavoo having also 7 children, my said uncle had issued a Teetooram granting landed property yielding 15 Pagodas a month to Lechsmey and 10 Pagodas to Coonjecavoo on anubhogam tenures, allowing the perpetual enjoyment of the same;……………..” (F/4/1835)
Venkitasubbayya was eventually removed from office with the assurance of the Raja that the Dewan Peishkar Sankara Variyar will assume the role of the Dewan.
DEWAN SANKARA VARIYAR
He was born in 1797, in Edakunni Variyam, in Ollur near Thrissur. He was educated in Sanskrit and at age seventeen went to Ernakulam and worked as a petty clerk in the Appeals Court. He got transferred to the Dewan’s office soon and his hard work and intelligence was noticed by the Dewan Nanjappayya, who mentored him and promoted him to the head of the Correspondence Department. He spent most of his spare time studying English. His next promotion was to the Sheristadar’s office dealing with finances and revenue. But he was drafted to the Resident’s office in Travancore by Resident Casamajor. He served three residents for a total of eight years before he was appointed Dewan Peishkar of Cochin. He was made Dewan in 1840. “From the accounts of his contemporaries he appears to be a man of sturdy independence, boundless energy, untiring industry and a glowing enthusiasm, and his long administration of seventeen years was crowded with solid achievements in all departments.” – Achyutha Menon
Ambadi Ikkavamma in her book about Dewan Sankara Variyar, gave the following details. He married while in Ernakulam from Tottekkat Family an average Nair Family then. Kunjipilla amma was the wife’s name. Dewan Sankunni Menon and Dewan Govinda Menon were born to them. Unfortunately Kunjipilla amma died at age 35. Sankara Variyar married again Kunji amma of Kurupath from Thrissur who already had a boy and girl from previous marriage. Interestingly, Sankunni Menon married this girl.
Sankara Variyar managed the finances of the State as well as that of the Raja remarkably well. He invested in the Company security schemes with excellent returns. Raja Rama Varma’s private funds appreciated in seven years significantly and this enabled the Raja to initiate for the first time the Valiyamma Thampuran Kovilakam Estate funds of 2 – 3 lakhs of rupees. The rest of course was the Palliyara Muthalpidi or Stanum funds when he died.
Another area The Dewan made a great difference was in the public works department. Many of the roads, bridges and culverts were planned and finished during his time. Water transportation also was greatly improved. Trichur to Ernakulam boat traffic improvement and the Thevara – Kundanur canal to facilitate travel from Ernakulam to Tripunithura was constructed during his time. A large number of Chiras to contain water was also built during this time. Most of the large public ponds in Trichur, Tripunithura and Chittur were dug up during this time.
He abolished burdensome taxes. Levy of transit duties were eliminated or cut down. Tobacco taxes were diminished.
Another important reform was the abolition of slavery in conjunction with Travancore. Various measures had been taken from the very time of Colonel Munro almost 40 years ago.
It was during his time an English school and a charity hospital was opened in Ernakulam. In 1846, he brought in Robert White as English tutor to the Princes. The latter held this appointment for 40 years. Consistent congratulatory remarks continued to emanate from the Madras Government and the Court of Directors of the East India Company.
Raja Rama Varma died in 1844