GYFFORD was instructed from above to ease the situation and resume normal trade. At this time Kudaman Pillai died and was succeeded by his young and alert nephew. Gyfford bribed Vanjimuttom Pillai to patch up differences. Vanjimuttom, a partisan of the king of Kollam arranged to crown the sister of the king as queen of Attingal.27 Gyfford was invited to pay up arrear tributes to the new queen and resume trade. Accordingly on April 14, 1721, Gyfford with 120 merchants and about 30 slaves proceeded to Attingal Palace about six kilometers from Anjengo fort, leaving only four men incharge of the fort apart from the women and children and the sick and old. The delegation carried with them the arrear tribute for seven years and presents to the queen and the Pillaimar, ie, about 17,000 panam per year besides velvet and Venetian clothes. Burton Fleming Malheiro and Gyfford led the march. They were received at the palace by an enthusiastic crowd carrying arms. It was normal that the Nayars always carried arms. Within the palace compound Kudaman Pillai was incharge of the ceremony. Discussions about the amount payable to each Pillai took place.28 Cowse, who was more experienced in the ways of the local people sensed trouble. He advised Gyfford to finish the job quickly and leave; but he was rebuffed. After finishing the transactions, Gyfford ordered a volley of fire indicating successful completion of the job. Immediately the Nayars disarmed the Englishmen and collected their arms.29 Gyfford also suspected some foul-play. He sent a note through a native informing his assistant, Sewell, of possible danger to the party and to be prepared for any eventuality. The Englishmen were advised to spend the night in the palace premises in small batches. During the night, the natives fell upon the Englishmen and cruelly butchered one and all. The body of the ring leaders of the English settlement like Malhiero, Fleming and Gyfford were cut into pieces. The tongue of Gyfford was cut into pieces and threw it into Vamanapuram river.30 Later the queen blamed Kudaman Pillai for the heinous act; but the Raja of Travancore blamed the queen for the massacre. The Dutch records also blame the queen for her connivance.31
Samuel Ince, the gunner took up defence of the fort against any possible attack. Women and children were sent away in a ship that was cruising nearby. The treasure and food stock were shifted into the fort. Reinforcement came by sea. Every thing was ready when the attack on the fort took place a few days later. The first attack was repulsed with heavy loss to the attackers.32 But attacks took place intermittently for six months. Although it was Kudaman Pillai, the rival of Vanjimuttom Pillai who masterminded the massacre, it is doubtful whether he had any hand in the attack on the fort. The queen went away to Kollam promising not to return to Attingal until order was restored. She never came back. Another sister of Rama Varma, king to Travancore took over as queen of Attingal.33
Midford who succeed Gyfford as Chief of Anjengo was more dishonest than his two predecessors. He too was dismissed from service.34 His successor Alexander Orme was a friend of Travancore. This antagonized Vanjimuttom who instigated the Madampis of Travancore against their king. The efforts of Travancore to suppress the Pillais and Madampis of Travancore had met with success in 1729, when Martanda Varma became king of Travancore. He was able to capture the eight Madampis who organised attacks on the English fort in 1721 and handed them over to the English.35 By 1729 Martanda Varma eliminated all the Pillais and Madampis of Travancore, Attingal too was annexed and consolidated to the Travancore state. The unchallengeable supremacy of Attingal declined subsequently.36
The revolt of 1721 is one of the earliest of the anti-English, anti-Christian and anti-foreign upheavals of India staged thirty six years before the Battle of Plassey and 136 years before the 1857 struggle for freedom. It is unreasonable and illogical that this fight has been sidelined in all India stream by historians.
1 A Sreedhara Menon, Kerala and Freedom Struggle, DC Books. Kottayam, 1997, pp 16-18; 2.Leena More, English East India Company and the Local Rulers in Kerala,IRISH, Tellicherry, 2003, pp 91-115; 3. TP Sankarankutty Nair, Early Resistance to the English, mimeo graphed paper presented to the Naitonal Seminar, Trivandrum, 2007; 4.Dr AP Ibrahim Kunju, Rise of Travancore- A Study of Martanda_Varma,_Kerala Historical Society, 1974, Passim, Trivandrum, 5.Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer, Studies in the History of the Princess of Attingal, Trivandrum, mimieo 1964, pp 17-30, 6. Ibid, Also see T.I. Punnen, The Rise and fall of the Dutch in Malabar, University of Kerala, Trivandrum 1968, Passim; 7. Ibid; 8.TK Velu Pillai, The Travancore State Manual, Vol.IV, P 657, Also see Dutch Records No 13, P 54, Quoted in TP Sankarankutty Nair, A tragic Decade in Kerala History, Kerala Historical Society, Trivandrum, 1977, pp 1-17; 9.The Pillamar referred to here are Ettuveter i.e. eight houses situated in close proximity but in different villages viz (1) Kulathoor near Sreekariyam (2) Kazhakuttom (3) Chempazhanthy (4) Kudaman (5) Pallichal (6) Venganoor (7) Ramanamatam (8) Marthandamatam. 10. Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, London, 1930, Passim’ 11. Leena More op.cit 42-65; 12. K Sivasankaran Nair, Venandinte Parinamam (Mal.) Trivandrum 1997, Passim.; 13.Leena More op.cit; 14. Anjengo Factory Records 1704-1709 Letter of Simon Cowse to the Court of Directors, June 1704, PP 4-17. ; 15.Anjuthengu literally means five coconut trees. This might have been an identification of the Attingal Coast where there were five coconut trees at one point of time, located or identified by the English; 16. There is a peace treaty signed in 1679 at London in which England, Scotland, Ireland, Netherlands, and France had agreed to accept the colonial monopoly of any of these countries once they raise their flag to establish a fort in a particular area. The fort constructed with 70,000 stone was completed in 1699. Its cost was about 70,00 Pounds. About 60 cannons could be used from the fort at a time. It was located in between Vamanapuram river in the East and the Arabian sea in the West. About 400 persons could stay there at a time.; 17.Tamil Nadu Archives Letters to John. Brabourme from Madras, 1696 May, PP 138-166; 18. Ibid ; 19. Supra. End note No. 16; 20. John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of EEIC, New York, 1991, PP 245-258, Also see Leena More.; 21. William Kyffin (Anjengo) to the President and Council, Bombay dt 11 January, 1718, PP 10-13, Also see John Biddulph, The Pirates of Malabar and an English woman in India, London, 1907, pp 270-278. Also see, Talboys Wheeler, A History of British Settlements in India, Calcutta, 1879.; 22. Ibid; 23. Ibid; 24. J.H. Parry, Trade and Dominion – The European Overseas Empires in the 18th Century, London 1871, PP 60-67.; 25. Ibid; 26. Ibid; 27. Anjengo Factory Records, Anjengo to Bombay castle 6th February 1722, pp 67-76; 28.Ibid; 29. Ibid; 30. Ibid; 31. Leena More op.cit; 32.A.P. Ibrahim Kunju op.cit; 33.Anjengo Papers, Bombay Archives, 1721-28, 3 volumes, Letters from Anjengo to Bombay.; 34. Ibid; 35.Ibid
(The writer is Former Head, Dept. of History, University of Kerala and can be contacted at P.R.A.G. 58, GPO Lane, Trivandrum – 695 001)