Some Survey Memoirs of South India

The East India Company (EIC) sponsored topographical and revenue surveys of many South Indian regions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Each project typically yielded large scale maps of its target region, as well as narrative ‘memoirs’ that describe the place, people, animals, and climate. These documents are of considerable research interest to the modern historian because they were based partly on direct observation and partly on pargana, district, taluk, and village records, including such diverse, and now quite rare, sources as khanasumari census returns, kaifiyats, kaditas, temple records, and local genealogies. Few of these invaluable surveys were ever published. Most reside as old manuscript drawings and narratives tucked away in Indian and British archives where few researchers, and even fewer modern residents of the surveyed regions, ever see them.

This post is a working list of of lesser known published memoirs. Please feel free to email me with bibliographical information about memoirs and journals not mentioned here, or add this information in a comment at the end of this post.

General Background

Black, C. E. D (1891) A Memoir on the Indian Surveys, 1875-1890. London: E.A. Arnold. — Takes up where Markham (1878) leaves off.

Buchanan, F. (1807) A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar. 3 vols. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies. — While it was funded by the EIC, Buchanan’s focus was neither topographical nor revenue based. His three volumes give a unique cultural and geographical picture of South India right after the end of the 4th Mysore War. (Vols. 1, 2, 3)

Markham, C. R. (1878) A Memoir on the Indian Surveys. 2nd edition. London: W. H. Allen. — Important and readable history of the Indian surveys; complements Phillimore (1945-1958).

Phillimore, R. H. (1945-1968) Historical Records of the Survey of India. 5 vols. Dehra Dun: Office of the Geodetic Branch, Survey of India. — THE key beginning point for research on the Indian surveys. (Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Walker, J. (1862) Atlas of India. London: W. H. Allen. — These map sheets include some of the earliest, if not only, published editions of many early 19th century South Indian topographical surveys (scale of 4 miles to the inch). Walker’s atlas, sanctioned by the EIC, built on the foundation laid by Arrowsmith’s (1822) Atlas of South India.

Karnataka

Connor, P. E. (1870) Memoir of the Codugu Survey. 2 vols. Bangalore: Central Jail Press. — Survey of Kodugu (Coorg) during 1815-1817. Connor also spelled his surname as “Conner”. Walker (1862) incorporated Connor’s cartographical data in Sheet 43.

Lambton, William (1828) Journal of a Route Through Mysore, the Coorg Country, Canara, and Malabar. The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register 25: (May) 603-611, (June) 763-771 — Journal of a survey performed in 1804-1805.

Kerala

Conner, P. E. (1833) Extract from the General Memoir of the Survey of Travancore. Madras Journal of Literature and Science 1: 1-7 & 2: 54-83. — Survey conducted during 1816-1821. Walker (1862) incorporated Connor’s cartographical data in Sheet 63.

Ward, B. S. (1891) Memoir of the Survey of Travancore and Cochin, 1816-1820. Selections from the Records of the Madras Government. Madras: Government Press. — Journal describing the day-to-day activities of the survey project.

Ward, B. S. and [P. E.] Connor (1840) Descriptive and Geographical Account of the Province of Malabar. Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society 4 (Aug): 33-124. — Survey conducted between 1825-1829. Walker (1862) incorporated the cartographical data in Sheets 44 and 61.

Ward, B. S. and [P. E.] Conner (1893) Geographical and Statistical Memoir of the Survey of the Travancore and Cochin States. Selections from the Records of the Madras Government 4:1-123 — Survey conducted between 1816-1821. Walker (1862) incorporated the cartographical data in Sheet 63.

Tamil Nadu

Fox and Turnbull (1840) Descriptive and Geographical Account of the Nilgiri Hills. Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society 4 (Aug): 9-33. — I have yet to find background information on this item. Turnbull may be the Madras field surveyor Thomas Turnbull. No surveyor with the Fox surname is listed in Phillimore or Markham, but a missionary named Henry Watson Fox was in the Nilgiris around the right time.

Lambton, W. (1840) Extract from the late Colonel Lambton’s Notices of Malabar. Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society 4 (Aug): 1-9. — Addresses the Coimbatore region.

Mather, J. and A. Read (1825) Letters regarding the Baramahal Survey [improvised title]. The Baramahal Records 21: 148-154. Madras: Government Press. — Mather’s maps and memoirs of the Baramahal are available only in manuscript. Published here are a few letters exchanged between Mather and Read about the survey’s progress. Walker (1862) incorporated Mather’s cartographical data in Sheet 78.

Ouchterlony, J. (1848) Geographical and Statistical Memoir of a Survey of the Neilgherry Mountains. Madras: Military Male Orphan Asylum Press. — (pdf missing p. i) Survey conducted in 1847.  Reprinted in John Shortt’s (1868) An Account of the Tribes on the Neilgherries. Madras: Higginbotham.

Read, A. (1989) Socio Economic Survey of Salem and Dharmapuri Districts: The Report of Col. Alexander Read, 1800 AD. Edited by Thamizh Naadan. Dharmapuri: Sri Vivekananda Charities and Endowments — A rare book published in a mimeographed edition of only 100 copies. At the end of the 3rd Mysore War, Read was charged with administering the newly acquired Salem and Baramahal regions in what is today Tamil Nadu. Working between 1792 and 1796, Read and his staff compiled invaluable topographical, cultural, and revenue data. I am uncertain how much of this material also appears in the Baramahal Records published in the early 20th century by the Madras Government.

Ward, B. S. (1837) Memoir Descriptive of the Vurragherry and Kunnundaven Mountains. Madras Journal of Literature and Science 6: 280-294. – Survey conducted between 1815-1824 of the Varahagiri and Kannandenan mountains region in what is now part of Dindigul and Madurai districts.

Ward, B. S. (1880) Geographical and Statistical Memoir of a Survey of the Neelgherry Mountains in the Province of Coimbatore made in 1821. In A Manual of the Nilagiri District in the Madras Presidency, compiled by H. B. Grigg, pp. lx – lxxviii. Madras: Government Press.

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