Elihu Yale of Yale Univ. USA and Fort St. David, Cuddalore

Ft. David, Cuddalore, TN,India. en.wikipedia.org/wiki


 The East India company came to India in 1600 for trading purpose and after opening a trade post in Surat (now in Gujarat), they felt that it was necessary for the company to have business establishment at Chennapatnam (Madras/Chennai) and built a fort called St. George Fort in April 1644 after getting necessary permission from the local rulers. This enhanced their mercantile trade in spices, etc.,  in the Far East countries. Their flourishing export business encouraged them to have another trading post near Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu on the Coromandel coast to  stay  ahead  of  the  French  who  were  their competitors.The East India company operations were in the early stages then and at this point of time it as a small establishment.

Fort St. David, an ancient English fort  is located  in the vicinity of  Cuddalore, on  the  river Gadilum  on the Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu. This historical monument is now in a dilapidated condition because of negligence on the part of ASI  which is under the central government. This region was under the  Gingee  Nayak rule in the 17th century. Through negotiations, the Dutch traders  were given permission  in 1608 by the local Nayak rulers to build  a fort as they  chose Cuddalore  for their mercantile trades. Since Portuguese had more influence with the ruler, at last, the deal was called  off in the middle, obviously  at the instigation of the Portuguese who found the Dutch their tough competitors.  The fort was initially built by a Hindu merchant in the year 1677. The Marathas took control of this  fort  along  with Gingee fort under  Shivaji' s son Rajaram Chhatrapati. During the Mogul attack, the Gingee fort was under siege and the Maratha ruler sold the Devipatnam (Cuddalore) fort to the highest bidder - the British East India company (1690). They also bought the adjacent villages which were later called ''cannonball'' villages. Elihu Yale was instrumental in getting the control over the fort through successful bidding. The Fort was named Ft. St. David in memory of the patron Saint of Wales. After purchase, the British carried out major repair works in the fort to safeguard their trading activities and merchandise. 

During this time, Elihu Yale (of  Yale university,USA fame), was the Governor of Madras. Regarding acquisition of the fort  near Cuddalore, there were some allegations made against Yale that he purchased the territory for private purposes with East India Company funds, including a fort at Tevnapatam (now Cuddalore). He refuted the charges, however,  his under dealings with the local traders at Madras  against the company and corrupt practices landed him in the soup. He got a bad rap from the higher ups in the British company.

In order to maintain the  colonial garrison and town (Cuddalore) which was a costly affair for EIC,  Yale imposed high taxes,  resulting in disappointment and resentment among the locals  and, further, he failed to develop close relationship with garrison soldiers. This culminated in revolts against his autocratic behavior and Yale used brute forces to quell the upraising  by the soldiers. Here, Yale got his name tarnished on account of his intemperate action  against the natives on his own authority and in one instance,  without scruples, he had a stable boy hanged to death. His crime was, being childish  as he was, the boy rode away with the company horse. His handling of people in the garrison town of Cuddalore was condemned and consequently the company 's name was further damaged  by Yale's antics. The company authorities, having no choice, subsequently removed him in 1692 from the post.

Elihu Yale (1649 – 1721) Gov. of Madras,India. en.wikipedia.org

Above image:  Yale was a benefactor of Yale university, USA which began as Yale college.

James MacRae, the governor of the fort  strengthened it in 1740s  as it became the  British headquarters in the southern region, besides they needed a strong fort against the French attack. The French settlement of Pondicherry was just near Cuddalore. In 1756, Robert Clive (who was to become the founder of the British empire) served as the governor of Fort St David. There were some skirmishes between the British and the French under Dupleix and the control of the fort kept changing. Sir Eyre Coote, KB finally brought stability to the fort and the region. Again another bout of repair work  was carried out by them.

During the Nayak period, overseas mercantile  trade continued and the port became an important source of   cloves, nutmeg, mace, sandalwood, camphor,  green velvet, porcelain, etc.

Fort St. David, c. 1763, Francis Swaine, British Library