1. The Raja was initially excited when Kunjikrishna Menon was recommended by Resident Macaulay as the minister to replace the exiled Paliath Govindon Achan. Kunjikrishna Menon grew up under the tutelage of late Raja Rama Varma and the present Raja. It was anticipated that he will be supportive of the Royal Family experiencing terribly bad times.
2. However, within six months he became paranoid and vicious. He alienated the Royal Family, the Paliath Family and close confidants of the Raja. In addition, he was found wanting in administrative skills. He managed to hoodwink the Resident, by sheer cajolery and pretending ultimate loyalty to the British.
3. The Raja after a full discussion with the Family wrote a letter to the Resident and requested that Kunjikrishna Menon be terminated immediately. It was an extra-ordinary letter. The family must have been so dejected and demoralised that a desperate decision to do mass suicide was entertained. Earlier the Amma Thampuratty herself had written to Resident Macaulay about the belligerence of Kunjikrishna Menon. The Resident had believed the version of conspiracy and intrigue perpetrated by both the Royal Families (Travancore and Cochin) against Kunjikrishna Menon and even the Resident. Sheer paranoia on the part of Menon had forced the Raja to live in Thrissur much against the latter’s wishes.
4. Finally a letter was drafted by the Raja to the Magistrate of the Zilla of North Malabar, Mr H Baber and was hand carried by Raja’s personal confidants. Mr Baber notified
Resident Macaulay of this unusual communication and proceeded to notify the Governor of Madras.
Extract Fort St George Political consultations
The 21st November 1809_
A. Falconar Esq.
Chief Secretary to Government
Fort St George
Reports had reached me for sometime past that the faction at Trivandrum whose hostilities to the connection subsisting between the Honorable Company and the State of Travancore has been so boldly displayed had opened through the channel of some of the Ladies near the Rajah of Cochin a suspicious communication with that Chieftain, and had succeeded in instigating him to the approval of a course of proceeding towards his Minister, similar in some respect to that taken by the Rajah of Travancore. The Minister of the Rajah of Cochin also has sent me several messages by persons in his confidence to that effect, and has lately intimated some apprehension for his personal safety. To these messages and intimations, I have invariably returned for answer that the Minister might rely upon receiving support in the exercise of his functions while he continued to conduct himself loyally and zealously. His alarms however not diminishing, I have today received from him a letter together with a translation, I have the honor to transmit to be subjected to the Right Honorable the Governor General in Council.-
2. Since Coonjeh Kistneh Menaven became Minister, he has paid into my Treasury about 1, 20,000 Rupees, with the view also of enabling the Rajah to provide without pressure the means of fulfilling his obligations under the Treaty lately concluded, the Minister had projected some reforms in the Administration, that appeared to him well calculated to secure that end without any diminution of the Rajah’s personal State. I had therefore persuaded myself that a just sense of the benefits accruing to his Government from the zealous management of his Minister while his own personal ease and dignity were duly consulted would have rather prompted this Chieftain to encourage than to counteract so useful a Servant.
3. In my Dispatch to your of the 16 of last May, one of the chief advantages attending the selection of Trichur the Capital of the Cochin territories for the permanent residence of the Rajah of Cochin was stated to be the extinction of that sway over the concerns of the Cochin Sircar which the Officers of the Travancore Government have so long held and so often abused, while the Rajah resided south of the Bounds hedge. At that period the Rajah of Cochin with (as he said) the liveliest sensations of gratitude for the generosity of the British Government expressed his ready and unqualified concurrence in the suggestion for his residing at Trichur, He had one ceremony he observed to perform at Triponterah in the course of the Month of August that might require his presence, that finished, he would return to Trichur.
4. I assured this Chieftain in a personal conference that no objections to his occasional visits to any station for the purposes of Worship and ceremonies would be made. Upon this, he returned to Triponterah from Trichur at the commencement of last august, and not only has remained there since that period but has as is reported given reason to believe that he entertained no idea of returning to Trichur. Such a course of conduct on the part of a person so mild & inoffensive by natural disposition as this Chieftain, could have proceeded only from the instigation and menaces of those wicked incendiaries at Trivandrum who are throwing all this country into a ferment, which nothing perhaps short of their arrest can now allay, the moderation hitherto displayed seems to lose all good effect, it serves only to encourage these bold bad men to proceed to the most criminal excesses. I am therefore of the opinion that the public tranquility is in danger unless some very decided measures be adopted with respect to the focus, perhaps of meditated insurrection at Trivandrum.
I have the honor to be
Quilon ( Signed ) C. Macaulay
30th October 1809 Resident
Translation of a letter from the Minister of the Rajah of Cochin to the Resident, dated 13 of Tula Masam 985 corresponding to the 27th of October.-
I have before informed you of all occurrences in this quarter
What is now going forward it is not possible to commit to writing, it must be verbally explained. When I am permitted to wait upon you I shall inform you of all matters in detail, in mean time I shall only state that, I have reason to know that some evil disposed persons of this side have entered into combinations for the ruin of the Country. – They have got the Chief Lady to write to the Rajah of Travancore and to other parts; that she has written the Rajah of Travancore is certain, these writings must be prejudicial. Being in your confidence, I could not omit reporting this – In compliance with these feelings all those here (at the Durbar) are meditating strange things, particulars shall be personally explained.
Unless you take timely precautions against these people, the trouble and difficulty of doing so hereafter will be great.
I expect your reply and orders
(Signed) Coonjee Kistnen
A Falconar Esq...
Chief Secretary to Government
Fort ST. George
I found the enclosed plain letter upon my table yesterday evening, but I have not seen the messengers, its tenor can now afford no surprise. By a reference to the date, it will be perceived that the resolution to cut off the Rajah of Co chin’s Minister must have been taken in concert with the conspirators against the authority & life of the Dewan of the Rajah of Travancore.-
I have the honor to be
31st October 1809 (Signed) C. Macaulay
Extract Letter from the Resident at Travancore
Dated 2nd November 1809
I have requested the Minister of the Rajah of Cochin to repair without delay to Quilon that I may confer with him on the subject of his late letter and the concerns of Cochin previous to my departure for Trevandrum.-
Alexander Falconar Esq:
Chief Secretary to Government
Fort St. George.
The Minister of Rajah of Cochin visited me today at noon accompanied by a Servady Kariacar named Ana Putter a man who has long served the State of Cochin. I received him under the salute due to his station. The Minister laid open such a scene of intrigue & of hostile projects at the Durbar of Cochin as evinced that nothing but the power to attempt open hostility was wanting, he states his own life to have been in considerable danger for more than a month, the Rajah of Cochin is represented to be exempt from the suspicion of countenanced these projects. It is not however possible to absolve him from a high degree of culpable negligence in not checking them, for it is not pretended that he was ignorant of the criminal plots that were hatching._
Quilon I have the honor to be etc etc
6th November, 1809 (signed)
Extract Fort St George Political Consultation
21st November 1809
Minute of the Governor General Dated the 20th Nov 1809
As the secret correspondence alleged to have been carried on by the Durbar of Travancore with that of Cochin is a direct violation of an article of existing Treaty, and as the avowed object of it is to excite the Government of Cochin to the renunciation of its alliance with the Company it may not be superfluous to advert to the principal facts of that transaction.
The opposition to the authority of the Minister of Cochin and the efforts for his removal, combined also, as it would appear with designs against his life and resulting from his fidelity to the duties of his situation, correspond with the acts and proceedings of the Durbar of Travancore, with this difference, that the Rajah of Cochin is exempted from the suspicion of having countenanced him. The Minister has stated the chief Instigator and the leader of the hostile faction of Cochin, is the brother of his perfidious predecessor- that with him are united the three principal Namboory Bramins and the chief Tambrattee or the Queen herself, whom he asserts to have heartily entered into the conspiracy against his life, with the avowed design of resisting the operation of the subsisting alliance with the Company. That this woman and the Namboory Bramins authorized the brother of the late Minister to assemble the heads of casts and to combine and marshal an eventual opposition and that these persons actually proceeded to the length of assembling the principal Nayars,Teer, and others, and of arraigning the Minister before them, informing them that Ama Tambrattee would not consent, and that they themselves would not consent to abide by the new treaty, and that Tambrattee was resolved on displacing the Minister. The Minister further informed the Resident that letters were written and dispatched by Tambrattee and by the brother of the predecessor to the Rajah of Travancore expressive of those sentiments. He asserts indeed that messages were constantly passing between the two Durbars and specifies a principal member of the faction as the person through whom this inter course was conducted.-
The Resident has noticed various facts which tend to establish the accuracy of the Ministers statement. The acts of contumacy and open opposition to the servants employed by the Minister in the current concerns of his office, as recited by the Resident, the letter addressed to him by the Tambrattee, as being strongly corroborative of the belief of her participation in these hostile measures and the information communicated by the Resident to the Dewan of Travancore, of the brother of the late Minister of Cochin having addressed both the Rajah of Travancore and himself in terms of distinct enmity towards the Minister are all collateral proofs of the truth of the latter’s assertions.-
The prosecution therefore of intrigues and machinations at the Durbar of Cochin, precisely similar to those which had previously been pursued at the court of Travancore, and the secret inter course declared on the concurrent authority of the Ministers of both those States, to subsist between the two Durbars, justify a conviction that the hostile proceedings of the faction formed at Cochin, are instigated and supported by the Durbar of Travancore.-
The factions and hostile proceedings pursued at the Durbars of Cochin and Travancore, having a common origin, may probably be checked by the measures adopted with respect to the latter, I therefore deem it advisable to await the effect of them before any measures of a similar character are adopted at the Durbar of Cochin.
To the Resident of Travancore
I have the honor to inform you that Koonota Pattary Narainaen & Tachapilly Ramen, the three persons most in the confidence of the Cochin Rajah presented a letter to me yesterday bearing the signature and the envelope in the official Seal of Cochin Rajah complaining the conduct of the present Wallia Servady Karrickar & expressing in terms too intelligible to be mistaken a desire that the Honorable Company would take upon themselves the management of the country and requesting that I would forward this application up to the Government.
Such a request from a personage who was in no way subject to my authority, and at a time while there was a British representative not so far removed as North Malabar, was so extraordinary that I should have determined upon returning as I have done the Petition presented by the principal inhabitants ( a copy of which was forwarded to you ) had not the persons who brought it been so very urgent that I should comply with the Rajah’s request, at the same time they informed me that they were charged with similar letters to all the local authorities in Malabar.
I have after much hesitation, for the case was so new and unprecedented, forwarded a copy to the Government, but not until these people made me the most solemn assurances that they would proceed immediately to you and that both the Rajah and his subjects would conform strictly to whatever you might prescribe for their conduct.
I may have exceeded the strict line of my duty, but I feel confident that I could not have upon the broad principles of Justice and humanity refused their request and which had I done, I should certainly have committed a violence to my own feelings.-
Copy of the Rajah’s letter is herewith forwarded.-
Zillah North Malabar I have the honor to be ~
8th December 1809 ( signed ) T.H. Baber
The Writing of the Cochin Wira Karula Raja_
To Mr. Baber Judge and Magistrate Zillah North Malabar
You must be well aware of the regularity with which I have paid my tribute and obeyed the orders of the Honorable Company since my first coming under their protection; accordingly when Colonel Macaulay notified thro’ Rama Linga Moraliar to me that it was his wish that I should appoint Cheruparambil Koony Christnen the manager of my country, I observed that I was afraid that he was unequal to the task, as well from his youth as want of abilities, but of course that as it was Colonel Macaulay’s wish, he should be appointed. He was appointed accordingly Wallia Servady Karriakar;/Prime Minister/ after this Cunhy Christna commenced his proceedings in a manner highly improper, in having squandered the money away which he had collected without any kind of authority or even my knowledge, besides which he committed various oppressive acts to me, the members of my family and to the people at large without any distinction. It must be observed that in the event of the tribute falling short in consequence of this misappropriation of the public funds I am ultimately responsible; by writing from Colonel Macaulay I have been informed that the orders of the Government are that I am to reside at Trichuva parur . I obeyed and went immediately and resided at Trichiva Paroor, my former place of residence however was Tripoonetoora, at which place there are various ceremonies which can only be performed when I am present, besides myself and the Members of my family have contracted sickness on which account and the unwholesomeness of the climate of Trichuva Paroor, it is a grievance to be obliged to reside at that place. I have sent Koonata Pattary who is dearer to me than life, Narayun my most confidential Minister and Tachapilly Ramen my household Minister to explain particularly all these circumstances to you. When you learn from them all that I have to represent_ my wish is and in this I hope for your favor and countenance that Cunhy Christnon may be removed from the situation and called upon to refund the money he has misappropriated and the Honorable Company will appoint any other person, they think proper, to collect the revenue and pay to me therefrom the share that has been pledged to me in writing and to permit me to go and live at my former place of residence Tripoonitoora. If the Honorable Company , instead of appointing any other person to manage the country, continue Cunhi Christna Menon in that office, the grievances of myself and my People will never be redressed. I pray and beseech, that through you, the above may be sent up to the Government, and a recommendation in favour of a compliance therewith_ I hope for account of your being in health _ Dated Wreschegam 17.
( Signed ) by the Raja
The envelope sealed with the Rajah’s official Seal
Translated by T.H. Baber Magistrate ( signed )
Translation of a letter from Amma Tambratty, the chief of the ladies of Cochin to the Resident of Travancore dated 23 Cana Masoom 985_ corresponding to 7th October 1809
When you visited Triponterah everything was known to you.
At this time Coonjee Kistneh Menaven injures and oppresses my people & my children, continuing and beating them. He uses unbecoming language towards me and suggests to my brother( the Rajah) to withhold from me even necessary sustenance._ All this has made me uneasy. _
Confiding in the Honorable Company that they will preserve me in respect and honor I am unable to comprehend the motives that drive a Minister to treat me in such a manner._
I had given orders to take up some persons who had spoken improperly of me and of my children – made them to write( Kace chits) declarations and ordered their imprisonment within my own Palace. Coonjee Kistnah Menaven said to my brother that those persons should be released without delay, observing “ that he was a servant of the Company and if we refused that he would keep us all in one place” with other such menacing words – In consequence of which my brother having made all this known to me desired the release of those persons, and I released them._
At length my brother became himself uneasy on discovering that he ( the minister ) had beaten and otherwise injured some of my brother’s people.
Seeing that he was placed in the situation of Minister by your consent, out of respect to you, we have endured all this. You will no doubt arrange all this in a proper manner, confiding in this I ask your permission to dismiss Coonje Kistneh Menaven from his situation and appoint another to manage the collections.
The bearer will communicate to you further particulars. In reply to this be pleased to inform me of your health.
(Signed ) C. Macaulay
To the Rajah of Cochin
The letter received from you through Lieutenant Cadogan in reply to mine of the 14th instant does not specify so clearly as is desirable, whether you ; seriously intend persevering to claim the benefit of resigning the management of your country to the Honorable Company as you propose in your letter to Mr. Baber, this is the point and this alone on which it is now important that you should distinctly explain yourself. Wishing you health and prosperity – What need I say more?
Ponterah (Signed) C: Macaulay
19th December1809 Resident
Translation of a letter from the Raja of Cochin to the Resident of Travancore dated 9th of Danoo Masoom 985 corresponding to the21st December 1809.
I have received your letter and understand its contents. My intention in the letters written to you and to Mr.Baber in asking the dismissal of Kunjee Kristneh Menaven from the office of Minister, and the nomination of another in his place to manage the country, to collect the produce, and to pay me my dues according to the treaty – was the following.
Seeing that Kunjee Kristneh Menaven was fixed as Minister by the Honorable Company- one of my own nomination should be put in his place to manage the collection and to pay me what belongs to me.-
On account however of the wrong he has done I shall be deeply distressed that Kunjee Kristneh Menaven remains manager, rather let the Honorable Company themselves collect the produce and pay to me my share- I shall be satisfied.
Be pleased to communicate good tidings of your health and all other news.-
/ True Copies and Translations / (Signed) C; Macaulay
The British Government in Madras, after much deliberation, replaced Mr. Mcaulay as Resident of Travancore and Cochin. This was the year 1810. Mr. Mcaulay's cousin, Dr. Macaulay acted as interim resident till John Munro took over as Resident.
As part of the Oral History collected from the family at the Cochin Royal Family Historical Society seminar of 2002, a direct descendent of Kunnath Pattery, Mr. K.C.P Anujan Namboodiripad mentioned the letter written by that Raja to an Englishman during very troubling times in Cochin. The letter given above from Mr Baber mentions that it was one ( Koonota Pattary ) Kunnath Pattery that delivered to him the letter from the Raja.
In another startling discovery, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Nick Balmer who is a descendend of Mr. Baber who confirmed from his research that Mr. Baber was residing at Palghat at the time. Being the Magistrate at North Malabar, it was an unusual personal matter that brought Baber to Palghat. Baber also appears to have had a reputation for fairness in his dealings with natives which probably prompted the Raja to approach him with this difficult matter.
For a short film on Raja Veera Kerala Varma and John Munro CLICK HERE
Resident John Munro
When John Monro arrived in Cochin, state of affairs was chaotic. System of revenue collection was defunct with rampant corruption. Treasury was deplete. Law and order was missing with people resorting to bribes to get justice or favours. Raja and the people were in dire straights. He studied and understood the situation and implemented reforms that transformed Cochin to a state of prosperity and peace. At the request of the Raja, and with British approval, he accepted the position of Dewan of Cochin in addition to being Resident of Cochin.
The first order of business was the removal of Kunjee Kristna Menavan ( Kunji Krishna Menon) as dewan. It was done in a fair meticulous manner. In his notes ( British Library - Political No 18 P.C 88- 9816 Fort St George 15-17 Oct 1812) he made the following points:
" When I arrived last year at Cochin I found reason to approve of the proceedings of the Walia Servadhi Karigar Koonjee Kristna Menaven, his conduct towards the Rajah had been peculiarly offensive, towards his personal enemies vindictive and severe & in the management of the country improvident and irregular”
“ Raja indicated that he had many complaints to make, that the situation in which he found himself was exceedingly disagreeable, and that he would rather abandon his country, or even seek death itself than continue in a position so pregnant with humiliating reflections and painful feelings”:-
“ The Rajah added that , Koonjee Kristna Menaven, was supported and educated from his infancy by the Rajah’s family, and owed all he possessed to their care, that in return for these favours he manifested the most marked ingratitude; that his actions and language was insulting to the Rajah and the ladies of the family;”
“It was brought to my attention a very singular account of the means said to have been employed by the minister in affecting the death of late Eliah Raja of Cochin by magic”-
He ordered the dismissal of Menavan. The Raja confered a pension on him. The administration of Monro in Cochin is covered at length elsewhere in this web page giving John Monro the credit he richly deserves.
Dewans after Monro
Dewan Nanjappayya, groomed by Monro, able, tactful and energetic, replaced John Munro in 1818. His first priority was to please the Raja by reopening all the oottupuras closed by Mcaulay when Kunji Krishna Menon was Dewan. He further modified the judicial system started by Monro setting up detailed code of procedure for civil and criminal cases. A new Akbari system was introduced to increase State revenue. A department of forestry was created and thousands of Teak trees were planted. Vaccination was introduced for the first time. He encouraged one Reverend Dawson to open a dispensary and an English school.
Slave owners who had the privilege of indiscriminate punishment were barred by Law. He successfully negotiated many boundary disputes between Cochin and Travancore. The most important measure he undertook was the survey and settlement of ‘ Kandezhuth wet lands’. A Hukum-nama issued in 1821 set up rules to measure and assess undocumented claims and the officers in charge were kept under vigil to avoid corruption.
After seven years of service, Nanjappayya passed away in 1825. Seshagiri Rao took over as Dewan. He was honest but lacking in governing skills. Increasing demand for Raja’s extraneous charities and expenses posed a drain on the treasury. Seshagiri Rao continued as Dewan for the successor Raja.
Raja Vera Kerala Varma had a very difficult time under Kunjikrishna Menon and Resident Macaulay. But Dewans Munro and Nanjappayya redeemed his long reign untill the last few years. This Raja was weak both physically and mentally and dis interested in ruling the State. He suffered from chronic arthritis from a young age. He lost his wife Rathny after which he married Lakshmi of ' Kannezhthu Madom' and later married her sister Coonjikavu as well. They took care of him and nursed him. His only solace was his ardent devotion to Lord Vishnu and allied religiosity and scholastic and spiritual pursuits. He is credited with the authorship of Poornathreyesa Sathakam, Dashavathara Slokamala and more than fifty Kathakali scripts. He died in 1828 after a prolonged period of suffering.