Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Tanjore District (Madras Presidency)

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Establishment of the district

Tanjore District (Madras Presidency)

Negapatam(1799-1845)Tranquebar(1845-1860)Tanjore (1860-1950)

Tanjore district was one of the districts in the erstwhile Madras Presidency of British India. It covered the area of the present-day districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam and the Aranthangi taluk of Pudukkottai district in Tamil Nadu. Apart from being a bedrock of Brahminism, Tanjore was a centre of Chola cultural heritage and one of the richest and most prosperous districts in Madras Presidency.


Tanjore district was constituted in 1799 when the Thanjavur Maratha ruler Serfoji II ceded most of his kingdom to the British East India Company in return for his restitution on the throne. Tanjore district, which is situated on the Cauvery Delta, is one of the richest rice-growing regions in South India. It was scarcely affected by famines such as the Great Famine of 1876–78.


Tanjore district was inhabited at least since the first millennium B. C. and was the traditional homeland of the Chola Dynasty. The Early Cholas ruled Tanjore from the 3rd century B. C. to the 3rd century A. D. The town of Poompuhar or Kaveripoompattinam served as an important port trading with Rome. Following the Kalabhra interregnum, Tanjore recovered its past glory under the Pallavas and reached the zenith of its prosperity under the Medieval Cholas and Later Cholas. In the 13th century, Tanjore was annexed by the Pandyas who were later defeated by Malik Kafur. Tanjore was ruled for brief periods by the Delhi Sultanate and the Madurai Sultanate, till the 15th century, when it was conquered by the Vijayanagar kings under whom it recovered much of its glory. Tanjore was a part of the Vijayanagar Empire and its successors, the Madurai Nayaks and the Thanjavur Nayaks, until 1674, when it was conquered by Venkoji a brother of Chattrapathi Shivaji, who founded the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom. The British East India Company began to play a major part in the affairs of the region from 1749 onwards. In the 1760s and 1770s, the Thanjavur Maratha ruler, the Nawab of Carnatic and other major powers of the region were brought under the British sphere of influence. In 1799, the British East India Company assisted the deposed Thanjavur Maratha king Serfoji II in regaining his throne. In return for British assistance, Serfoji II retained his hold over Tanjore city and ceded the rest of his kingdom to the British East India Company. Tanjore city was eventually annexed by the British as per the Doctrine of Lapse in 1855 on the death of his son Shivaji without a surviving male heir. The district of Tanjore was created in about 1800, its limits almost the same as that of the preceding Thanjavur Maratha kingdom.


Tanjore district covered a total area of 9,600 square kilometres (3,710 sq mi). It had a population of 2,245,029 in 1901. 91 percent of the population were Hindus, 5 percent were Muslims and 4 percent Christian. The population density was 234 inhabitants per square kilometre (605/sq mi). As of 1901, Tanjore was the most densely populated district in the Madras Presidency with Kumbakonam, Negapatam and Mayavaram being some of the most densely populated taluks.

Kallars, Vanniyars, Vellalars, Thondaimandala Mudaliars, Paraiyars, Reddis, Udaiyars and Tamil,are the Castes here. Telugu and Maratha Brahmins. During the 19th century, the Thanjavur Maratha aristocracy provided most of the Diwans of the princely state of Travancore. The Imperial Gazetteer of India 1908 lists Thanjavur, along with the South Canara and Ganjam districts, as the three districts of the Madras Presidency where Brahmins are most numerous. Throughout the British rule, Tamil Brahmins from Tanjore district dominated the provincial politics and civil services. Until the 1960s, the economy was primarily feudal with most of the land in the hands of upper-caste Brahmin, Vellalar and Moopanar mirasidars and zamindars who cultivated their land by employing Paraiyar agricultural labourers.

In 1901, Tanjore had a literacy rate of 10.1, the second highest in the Madras Presidency, with a male literacy rate of 20.3 percent and a female literacy rate of 0.9 percent.


As of 1901, Tanjore district was made up of nine taluks.

  • Kumbakonam (Area: 890 square kilometres (342 sq mi); Headquarters: Kumbakonam)
  • Mannargudi (Area: 780 square kilometres (301 sq mi); Headquarters: Mannargudi)
  • Mayavaram (Area: 730 square kilometres (283 sq mi); Headquarters: Mayavaram)
  • Nannilam (Area: 760 square kilometres (293 sq mi); Headquarters: Nannilam)
  • Negapatam (Area: 620 square kilometres (240 sq mi); Headquarters: Negapatam)
  • Pattukkottai (Area: 2,350 square kilometres (906 sq mi); Headquarters: Pattukkottai)
  • Shiyali (Area: 440 square kilometres (171 sq mi); Headquarters: Shiyali)
  • Tanjore (Area: 1,780 square kilometres (689 sq mi); Headquarters: Tanjore)
  • Tirutturaipundi (Area: 1,260 square kilometres (485 sq mi); Headquarters: Tirutturaipundi)
  • Administration

    The administration of the district was under a District Collector who was from the Indian Civil Service. The District Collector of Tanjore resided at Vallam. The district was sub-divided into six divisions, some of them administered by British civil servants and the rest by Indian Deputy-Collectors. The following were the sub-divisions of the district

  • Kumbakonam sub-division: Kumbakonam taluk
  • Mannargudi sub-division: Mannargudi and Thiruthiraipundi taluks
  • Mayavaram sub-division: Mayavaram and Shiyali taluks
  • Negapatam sub-division: Negapatam and Nannilam taluks
  • Pattukkottai sub-division: Pattukkottai taluk
  • Tanjore sub-division: Tanjore taluk.
  • As of 1901, there were five municipalities in the district: Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Mannargudi, Mayavaram and Negapatam. From 1800 to 1840, the District Collector of Tanjore was also the agent of Pudukkottai state. However, Pudukkottai was later transferred to the jurisdiction of Madura and then Trichinopoly.


    During British times, Tanjore district was famous for its metal work. Brass, copper and silver utensils were manufactured in large quantities. The South Indian Railway Workshops were established at Negapatam in the 1860s. The chief centres of land trade were Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Mayavaram and Mannargudi while the chief centres of sea trade were Tranquebar, Muttupet, Negapatam, Adiramapattinam and Ammapatam. The town of Kumbakonam was known for its silk sarees and rice and flour mills. It was also one of the leading producers of betel leaves and nuts. Tanjore city was known for silk-weaving, lace, embroidery, jewellery, pithwork and manufacture of metal work and musical instruments.

    List of Collectors

    The list of district collectors of Tanjore from its formation in December 1799 till the abolition of Madras Province and its conversion to a state on January 26, 1950 is given below:

  • Charles Harris (December 1799 - May 1804)
  • John Cotton (May 1804-October 1804)
  • J. Wallace (Oct 1804-April 1811)
  • J. Cotton (May 1811-February 1814)
  • James Hapbrew (February 1814-December 1816)
  • J. Thackeray (December 1816-September 1817)
  • James Hapbrew (September 1817-September 1819)
  • G. M. Ogilive (September 1819-February 1820)
  • J. Cotton (February 1820-October 1826)
  • A. S. Chair (October 1826-February 1827)
  • A. D. Campbell (February 1827-January 1828)
  • R. Nelson (January - February 1828)
  • N. W. Kindersley (February 1828 - July 1839)
  • S. Scott (July - August 1839)
  • H. C. Montgomery (August 1839-August 1841)
  • S. Scott (August 1841)
  • J. F. Bishop (January 1842-January 1843)
  • S. Scott (January 1843)
  • J. F. Bishop (February 1843-May 1844)
  • J. J. Cotton (May 1844- September 1844)
  • H. C. Montgomery (September 1844-October 1846)
  • J. J. Cotton (October 1846-February 1847)
  • G. Ellis (July–August 1847)
  • J. Bird(November 1847-January 1850)
  • I. W. Goodwyr (July 1851-May 1852)
  • P. G. Rant (November–December 1852)
  • W. M. Cadell (March–April 1853)
  • Henry Forbes (April 1853-May 1856)
  • W. M. Cadell (May–June 1856)
  • J. W. Cherry (June 1856-January 1857)
  • H. D. Phillips (January 1857-January 1859)
  • G. A. Ballard (February 1859-April 1862)
  • G. L. Morris (April 1862-May 1863)
  • G. Barbery (May 1863-September 1866)
  • W. L. Hathway (February 1870-May 1870)
  • H. D. Arbuthnot (April 1873-October 1874)
  • H. S. Thomas (October 1874-March 1877)
  • F. R. H. Sharp (March 1877-June 1877)
  • E. F. Webster (April 1878-June 1881)
  • C. S. Crob (June–October 1881)
  • F. E. Gibson (October 1881-November 1881)
  • D. Brick (November 1881-March 1882)
  • F. E. Gibson (April–June 1882)
  • W. S. Whiteside (June–August 1882)
  • H. E. Stokes (August 1882-June 1883)
  • J. B. Penning (June 1883-August 1886)
  • E. Gibson (September 1886-September 1889)
  • V. A. Happel (September 1889-January 1890)
  • E. Gibson (January–May 1890)
  • D. Murdack (May 1890)
  • J. Thomson (May 1890-July 1891)
  • R. N. Campbell (July 1891)
  • L. M. Winter (July 1891-August 1893)
  • R. B. Clegg (August 1893)
  • J. Strooch (August–October 1893)
  • L. M. Winter (October 1893-September 1894)
  • J. Thomson (September 1894-January 1895)
  • R. B. Clegg (January–July 1895)
  • E. C. Rovson (July–November 1895)
  • Gabriel Stokes (November 1895-May 1896)
  • H. Moberly (May–July 1896)
  • Gabriel Stokes (July–October 1896)
  • J. Andrew (October 1896-June 1897)
  • W. B. Agling (June–July 1897)
  • J. Andrew (July 1897-March 1898)
  • W. B. Agling (April–June 1898)
  • J. Twigg (June 1898-April 1900)
  • J. Andrew (April 1900-June 1902)
  • F. D. P. Oldfield (June–December 1902)
  • J. Andrew (December 1902-February 1903)
  • H. D. Taylor (February 1903-February 1904)
  • R. F. Grimby (March 1904-February 1905)
  • E. B. Ellwin (February -December 1905)
  • Lionel Davidson (December 1905-November 1906)
  • T. P. Bedford (November 1906-June 1910)
  • R. F. Austin (June 1910-June 1911)
  • N. R. Brodie (November 1911-March 1912)
  • J. N. Roy (March–June 1912)
  • R. B. Wood (June 1912-August 1916)
  • J. R. Huggins (September 1916-April 1920)
  • P. C. Dutt (April 1920-July 1921)
  • C. E. Jones (July 1921-April 1923)
  • H. S. Shield (April 1923-March 1924)
  • H. M. Hood (March 1924-December 1925)
  • H. S. Shield (December 1925-September 1927)
  • S. V. Ramamurthy (September 1927-January 1928)
  • Charles Hilton Brown (January–March 1928)
  • J. Gray (March 1928-January 1929)
  • D. H. Boulton (January–July 1929)
  • J. A. Throne (July 1929-June 1931)
  • W. Scott Brown (June 1931-March 1932)
  • Charles Hilton Brown (April 1932-June 1933)
  • A. G. Leach (June–July 1933)
  • M. V. Vellodi (July 1933)
  • E. R. Wood (July 1933-April 1935)
  • M. V. Vellodi (April 4, 1935 – June 1, 1936)
  • Zinda Sahib Mohazir (June 2, 1936 – August 8, 1936)
  • Subbiah Naidu (August 9, 1936 – April 1, 1937)
  • D. D. Warren (April 1, 1937 – February 25, 1938)
  • H. R. Uzielli (February 26-April 1, 1938)
  • Zinda Sahib Mohazir (April 2-August 29, 1938)
  • Diwan Bahadur V. N. Viswanatha Rao (August 30, 1938 – February 25, 1939)
  • R. M. Sundaram (February 25-October 7, 1939)
  • C. K. Vijayaraghavan (October 9, 1939 – April 22, 1942)
  • S. Venkateswaran (April 23, 1942 – August 10, 1942)
  • M. S. Sivaraman (August 11, 1942 – February 15, 1943)
  • J. W. Pritchard (February 16, 1943 – April 22, 1944)
  • Rao Sahib R. D. Paul (April 24, 1944 – July 31, 1944)
  • Khan Bahadur Mohammad Ismail Saheb Bahadur (August 1, 1944 – January 20, 1947)
  • J. R. Bett (January 27, 1947 – March 2, 1947)
  • H. C. McLanghlin (March 3, 1947 – April 9, 1949)
  • T. K. Sankaravadivelu (April 10, 1949 – January 26, 1950)
  • References

    Tanjore District (Madras Presidency) Wikipedia