Aug 22, 2008

India - Chennai's founding,369 years ago today

CHENNAI: This is the story of the beginning of Chennai, the founding of a city. On this day, August 22, in 1639, British Administrator Francis Day is reported to have received the grant for privileges in Medraspatam, as it was referred to then. It was officially ‘granted’ that day, and the rest, too, is history.
According to Vestiges of Old Madras by Henry Davison Love, the Naik’s grant, probably drafted by Day, was delivered with a letter signed by Day. Three copies are extant, but only one bears a date, 22nd July 1639, where July is probably a slip for August, since Day did not reach Madras until July 27, Love noted. The original document relating to the grant of the Fort St. George site to the British East India Company is said to have been signed at Chandragiri Fort in what is now in Andhra Pradesh.
The original text of the grant read thus:

‘The firman granted Mr. Day for privileges in Medrasspatam by the Nague Damela Vintutedra.
(O.C. No. 1690, 22nd July
{ ?Aug }, 1639 )
‘Firman granted by Damela Vintatedro Nague unto Mr. francis Day, Cheife for the English In Armagon, in behalfe of the Honble company for their tradeing and fortifieing at Medraspatam, to this effect as followeth:-
‘Whereas Mr. Francis Day, Captain of the English at Armagon, upon great hopes by reason of our promises offten made unto him, hath repaired to our port of Medraspatam and had personall Conference with us on behalfe of the Company of that Nation, Concerning their trading in our territories and friendly comerce with our subjects ; wee out of our spetiall Love and favour to the English, doe grant unto the said Captain, or whomsoever shall bee deputed to Idgitate the affaires of that company, by vertue of this firman , Power to direct and order the building of a fort and Castle in or about Medraspatam, as they shall thinke most Convenient , the Charges whereof, until fully and wholly finished to bee defrayed by us, but then to bee repaied when the said English shall first make their enterance to take possession thereof. And to make more full Expression of our effection to the English Nation, wee Doe Confirme unto the said Mr. Francis Day, or whatsoever other Substitutes or Agents for that Company, full power and authority to governe and dispose of the Government of Madraspatam for the terme and space of two yeares. Next Insueing affter they shall be seated there and possest of the said fortifications; and for the future by an Equall Division to receive halfe the Custom and revenuewes of that port.
‘Moreover, Whatsoever goods or Merchandize the English Company shall either Import or Export, forasmuch as Concernes the dutyes and Customes of Medraspatnam, they shall not only for the Prementioed two years in which they injoy the government , but for ever after, be Custom free. Yett if they shall Transport or bring any commodities up into, or through my Countray, then shall they pay halfe the dutyes that other Merchants pay, whether they buy or sell the said Commodities either in my Dominions or in those of any other Nague whatsoever.
‘Also that the said English Company shall perpetually Injoy the privileges of mintage(e) without paying any Dewes or dutyes whatsoever, more then the ordinary wages or hire unto those that shall Quoyne the moneyes.
‘Iff the English shall Accquaint us before they deliver out any moneys to the Merchants, Painters, Weavers &c, which are or shall hereafter reside in our prementioned port or territories, and take our word for their sufficcency and honest dealeing, then doe wee promise, in case those people faile in their performances, to make good to the English all such sumes of money as shall remaine on their Accounts, or Else deliver them their persons, if they sahllbe found in any part of my territories.
‘That whatsoever provisions the English shall buy in my Countrey, either for their fort or ships, they shall not be liable to pay any Custom or Dutyes for the same.
‘And if any shipp or vessell belonging to the English ( or to any other Countray whatsoever which tradeth or shall come to trade at that port) shall by misadventure suffer shipwrack and bee driven upon any part of my territories, they shall have restitution upon Demand of whatsoever can bee found remaining of the said wrack.
Dated the 22th July, 1639.’

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