Fort St. George, India

Fort St George (or historically, White Town[1]) is the first English (later British) fortress in India, founded in 1644[2] at the coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai. The construction of the fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally an uninhabited land.[3] Thus, it is a feasible contention to say that the city evolved around the fortress.[4] The fort currently houses the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and other official buildings.

Fort St George
Part of Tamil Nadu
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Fort St. George, Chennai 2
Fort St George, the seat of Government of Tamil Nadu
Fort St George is located in Chennai
Fort St George
Fort St George
Coordinates13°04′47″N 80°17′13″E / 13.079722°N 80.286944°E
Site information
Controlled byGovernment of Tamil Nadu
Site history
Built byBritish East India Company
Garrison information
OccupantsTamil Nadu legislative assembly–Secretariat
Plan de Madras pris par les Francais en 1746
Plan of Fort St George made during the French occupation of 1746–1749
Fort St. George, Chennai
An 18th-century sketch of the fort
Fort St. George
Corner of Fort St George with cathedral, ca 1905


Fort St George Madras 1858
Fort St George in 1858
In the Fort, Madras (MacLeod, p.124, 1871) - Copy
In the Fort, Madras (MacLeod, p 124, 1871)[5]

The East India Company (EIC), which had entered India around 1600 for trading activities, had begun licensed trading at Surat, which was its initial bastion. However, to secure its trade lines and commercial interests in the spice trade, it felt the necessity of a port closer to the Malaccan Straits, and succeeded in purchasing a piece of coastal land, originally called Chennirayarpattinam or Channapatnam, where the Company began the construction of a harbour and a fort. The fort was completed on 23 April 1644 at a cost of £3000,[6] coinciding with St George's Day, celebrated in honour of the patron saint of England. The fort, hence christened Fort St George, faced the sea and some fishing villages, and it soon became the hub of merchant activity. It gave birth to a new settlement area called George Town (historically referred to as Black Town), which grew to envelop the villages and led to the formation of the city of Madras. It also helped to establish English influence over the Carnatic and to keep the kings of Arcot and Srirangapatna, as well as the French forces based at Pondichéry, at bay. In 1665, after the EIC received word of the formation of the new French East India Company, the fort was strengthened and enlarged while its garrison was increased.[7]

According to the 17th century traveller Thomas Bowrey, Fort St. George was:

"without all dispute a beneficiall place to the Honourable English India Company, and with all the Residence of theire Honourable Agent and Governour all of their Affaires Upon this Coast and the Coast of Gingalee, the Kingdoms also of Orixa, (Orissa) Bengala (Bengal), and Pattana (Patna), the said Governour and his Councell here resideigne, for the Honour of our English Nation keepinge and maintainneinge the place in great Splendour, Civil and good Government, Entertaineinge nobly all Foraign Embassadors, and provideinge great quantities of Muzlinge (Muslin) Callicoes (Calico) &c. to be yearly transported to England."[8]

The Fort is a stronghold with 6 metres (20 ft) high walls that withstood a number of assaults in the 18th century. It briefly passed into the possession of the French from 1746 to 1749, but was restored to Great Britain under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession.

The Fort now serves as one of the administrative headquarters for the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu state and it still houses a garrison of troops in transit to various locations at South India and the Andamans. The Fort Museum contains many relics of the Raj era, including portraits of many of the Governors of Madras. The fort is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, with the administrative support of Indian Army.[9][10]

The church

St Mary's Church is the oldest Anglican church in India. It was built between 1678 and 1680 on the orders of the then Agent of Madras Streynsham Master.[11] The tombstones in its graveyard are the oldest English or British tombstones in India. This ancient prayer house solemnised the marriages of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale, who later became the first benefactor of Yale University in the United States.


Ra 2012 018
Victoria memorial hall
Flag post
Flag post at Fort St George

The Fort Museum, which is the only ticketed institution of Archaeological Survey of India in the complex[12], exhibits many items of the period of English and later British rule. This building was completed in 1795 and first housed the office of the Madras Bank. The hall upstairs was the Public Exchange Hall and served as a place for public meetings, lottery draws and occasional entertainment. These relics are reminders of British rule in India. The objects on display in the museum are the weapons, coins, medals, uniforms and other artefacts from England, Scotland, France and India dating back to the colonial period. Original letters written by Clive and Cornwallis make fascinating reading. One set of quaint period uniforms is displayed for viewing, as well. However, the piece de resistance is a large statue of Lord Cornwallis.

The National Flag of India was designed by Pingali Venkayya and adopted in its present form during the meeting of Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, a few days before India's independence from the British on 15 August 1947. The first ever flown flag after the independence is stored in 3rd floor of the museum. Public are allowed to see but not to touch or take photographs.

The museum is mentioned in the novel The Museum of Innocence, by Nobel-laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Wellesley House

The first floor of the building includes the Banqueting Hall, which holds paintings of the Governor of the Fort and other high officials of the Regime. The canons of Tipu Sultan decorate the ramparts of the museum. The 14.5 ft statue stands at the entrance near a stairway in the museum. This statue was created by Charles Bank in England to be brought to India. The pedestal of the statue is carved with a scene depicting Tipu Sultan's emissary handing over Tipu's two sons as hostage in lieu of a ransom he was unable to pay to the British. It takes its name from Richard Wellesley, Governor General of India, and brother of the Duke of Wellington.

Flag staff

The flag staff at the fort is one of the tallest in the country. Made of teakwood, it is 150 feet (46 m) high.[13]

Namakkal Kavingyar Maaligai

Namakkal Kavingyar Maaligai is a 10-storeyed building at the campus and is the power centre of state secretariat. It houses offices of the secretaries and departments. Between 2012 and 2014, the building was renovated at a cost of  28 crore, with additional facilities like centralised air-conditioning and new electrical wiring system.[14]

In recent years

The entire complex is administered by the Department of Defence. The fort building is a three-storeyed one housing the offices of the chief minister and other ministers, the chief secretary, home ministry, treasury, etc. The remaining offices are housed in the 10-storeyed Namakkal Kavingyar Maaligai, which houses more than 30 departments.[15]

Fort St George complex housed the administrative buildings of the Government of Tamil Nadu till March 2010. The Legislature of Tamil Nadu and the secretariat (with headquarters of various government departments) was situated in the fort. The fort itself was open to the public however only to a certain area. The main building or the secretariat was open only to government officials and the police. The cannons and the moat which guarded this old building have been left untouched. In 2010 the legislature and the secretariat moved to a new location and the old assembly complex was converted into a library for the Central Institute of Classical Tamil.[16] Following the 2011 assembly elections and the return of J Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister of the State, the Tamil Nadu Assembly and the Secretariat have been restored to Fort St George.[17]

Other monuments

An arch commemorating the diamond jubilee of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly is under construction near the Fort on Rajaji Salai close to Napier Bridge. The structure is a replica of Fort St George's façade. The arch will be rectangular in structure with a height of 41 ft and 80 m width being built at a cost of  1.33 crore. The structure will be a mix of old and modern architecture, inspired by the frontage of Fort St George. The legend 'Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly diamond jubilee commemorative arch' would be inscribed in English and Tamil, in addition to the words '60 years'. The chief minister J Jayalalithaa laid the foundation stone for the arch on 30 October 2012. Earlier, the arch was planned to be constructed close to the entrance of Fort St George, but was later relocated beyond the prohibitive zone, as per AMASR Act. A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Madras High Court opposing the move stating that the arch would choke Rajaji Salai that leads to the High Court. However, the petition was dismissed by a division bench on 9 January 2013.[18]

See also


  1. ^ James Talboys Wheeler (1881). The History of India from the Earliest Ages. N. Trübner. pp. 489–.
  2. ^ Roberts, J: "History of the World" (Penguin, 1994)
  3. ^ Muthiah, S (12 August 2002). "A centenary's links with Chennai". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 October 2003. Retrieved 6 September 2002.
  4. ^
  5. ^ MacLeod, Norman (1871). Peeps at the Far East: A Familiar Account of a Visit to India. London: Strahan & Co. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ Keay, John (1991). The Honourable Company A History Of The English East India Company (1993 ed.). Great Britain: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-00-743155-7.
  7. ^ Talboys Wheeler, James (1861). Madras in the Olden Time. 1. Madras: J. Higginbotham. p. 72.
  8. ^ Bowrey, Thomas (1895). Temple, Richard Carnac, ed. A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679. p. 4.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Jesudasan, Dennis S. (10 August 2018). "Business group may adopt Fort St. George". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  11. ^ Talboys Wheeler, James (1861). Madras in the Olden Time. 1. Madras: J. Higginbotham. p. 104.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Fort St. George, Chennai". Maps of India. Retrieved 12 Jan 2013.
  14. ^ Mariappan, Julie (10 July 2014). "Jayalalithaa opens renovated exterior of Namakkal Kavignar Maligai". The Times of India. Chennai: The Times Group. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  15. ^ "புதுப்பிக்கப்பட்ட நாமக்கல் கவிஞர் மாளிகை: ஜெயலலிதா நாளை திறந்து வைக்கிறார்". Malai Malar (in Tamil). Chennai: Malai Malar. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Old Assembly Chamber to turn reference library". The Hindu. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  17. ^ "New secretariat in Chennai to be converted into hospital".
  18. ^ Sasidharan, S. (19 February 2013). "Work begins on Assembly arch". The Deccan Chronicle. Chennai: The Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 22 Feb 2013.

External links

Coverage of Google Street View

Google Street View was first introduced in the United States on May 25, 2007, and until November 26, 2008, featured camera icon markers, each representing at least one major city or area (such as a park), and usually the other nearby cities, towns, suburbs, and parks. Many areas that had coverage were represented by icons.

Dawsonne Drake

Dawsonne Drake (1724–1784) was the first British governor of Manila from 1762 to 1764, during the British occupation of the Seven Years' War. Prior to his term as the Manila administrator, he was the governor of White Town from 1742 to 1762.

Gabriel Roberts

Gabriel Roberts (c. 1665–c.1734) of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, was an official of the East India Company and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1713 and 1734.

Roberts was the second son of William Roberts, vintner, of St. Katherine Cree, London, and his wife Martha Dashwood, daughter of Francis Dashwood, merchant and alderman of London. In 1678, he inherited a third part of his father's estate, and in 1683 he joined the East India Company as a writer. He spent six years at Fort St. George, India, where he married Elizabeth Proby, daughter of Charles Proby on 25 August 1687. He was Receiver of sea customs at Fort St. George from 1688 to 1689. He returned to London and became a member of the Levant Company in 1691 and was assistant at the Royal African Company from 1695 to 1701. In 1696 he was a commissioner taking subscriptions to land bank. He served with his uncles, Sir Samuel Dashwood and Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Baronet on the committee of the Old East India Company from 1698 to 1701. In 1701, he was sent back to India and in 1702 took became second of council at Fort St George under Thomas Pitt . He was deputy-governor of Fort St. David, Madras from 1702 to 1703 and from 1704 to 1709. He resigned his place when Pitt left in 1709, but stayed in India until 1711. On his return to England, Roberts acquired a property at Ampthill, Bedfordshire from the Bruce family. He was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament for Marlborough, on the Bruce interest at the 1713 general election. He was inactive in Parliament and was classed as a Tory although he had many dissenting connections.Roberts lost his seat at Marlborough at the 1715 general election but was seated on petition on 13 May 1717. He supported the Administration, voting for the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts and the peerage bill. He was re-elected in a contest at Marlborough at the 1722 general election. In 1724, he became a Director of the South Sea Company. He changed seats to Chippenham at the 1727 general election, when he was returned unopposed. He voted with the Opposition on the arrears of the civil list in 1729 but from then on with the Government.Roberts married as his second wife, Mary Wenman, daughter of Sir Francis Wenman, 1st Baronet of Caswell House, Curbridge, Oxfordshire at a date unknown. He ended his term as a director of the South Sea Company in 1733 and did not stand at the 1734 general election. It is not known when he died. He left an only son Philip by his second wife. This son, Major Philip Roberts, married Anne Coke, daughter of Edward Coke and took the name of Coke in place of his patronymic in 1750. He was the father of Wenman Coke, MP and ancestor of the Earls of Leicester.

List of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu

The complete list of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu consists of the heads of government in the history of the state of Tamil Nadu in India since 1920. The area under the present-day state of Tamil Nadu has been part of different territorial configurations under Madras Presidency and Madras State in its history.

List of ports of call of the British East India Company

The East Indiamen of the British East India Company (EIC) passed many places and stopped at many ports on their voyages from Britain to India and China in the 17th to 19th centuries, both on the way and as destinations. Some of these places were simply landmarks, but a number of the places were the locations of EIC factories, i.e., trading posts.

In many cases the spelling of the names of these locations has changed between then and now. One purpose of this list is to link, where possible, the names as given in ships' logs with the modern name. Names in italics represent cases where the modern and older name are different.

List of vessels of the Bengal Pilot Service to 1834

The Bengal Pilot Service (BPS) was an arm of the British East India Company (EIC). Its pilot boats were responsible for guiding East Indiamen, and other vessels, up and down the Hooghly River between Calcutta and the sea. The BPS vessels and their role were transferred to the Indian Navy in 1834.

The information in the tables below comes primarily from Phipps (designated with a "†"), or Hackman (designated with a "‡"). The vessels listed are those one source or the other identified as serving the Bengal Pilot Service. Where the two sources disagree with respect to some datum such as year of launch, or burthen, the first datum mentioned is from Phipps and the second is from Hackman.

Records of members of parliament of the United Kingdom

This article about records of members of parliament of the United Kingdom and of England includes a variety of lists of MPs by age, period and other circumstances of service, familiar sets, ethnic or religious minorities, physical attributes, and circumstances of their deaths.

Santhi Soundarajan

Santhi Soundarajan (also spelled Shanthi Soundararajan,Tamil: சாந்தி சௌந்திரராஜன், born 17 April 1981) is an Indian track and field athlete. She is the winner of 12 international medals for India and around 50 medals for her home state of Tamil Nadu. Shanthi Soundarajan is the first Tamil woman to win a medal at the Asian Games. She competes in middle distance track events. She was stripped of a silver medal won at the 2006 Asian Games after failing a sex verification test which disputed her eligibility to participate in the women's competition.

Spanish and Portuguese Jews

Spanish and Portuguese Jews, also called Western Sephardim, are a distinctive sub-group of Iberian Jews who are largely descended from Jews who lived as New Christians in the Iberian Peninsula during the immediate generations following the forced expulsion of unconverted Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497.

Although the 1492 and 1497 expulsions of unconverted Jews from Spain and Portugal were separate events from the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions (which was established over a decade earlier in 1478), they were ultimately linked, as the Inquisition eventually also led to the fleeing out of Iberia of many descendants of Jewish converts to Catholicism in subsequent generations.

Despite the fact that the original Edicts of Expulsion did not apply to Jewish-origin New Christian conversos —as these were now legally Christians— the discriminatory practices that the Inquisition nevertheless placed upon them, which were often lethal, put immense pressure on many of the Jewish-origin Christians to also emigrate out of Spain and Portugal in the immediate generations following the expulsion of their unconverted Jewish brethren.

The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was an edict issued on 31 March 1492, by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordering the expulsion of all unconverted practicing Jews from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, including from all its territories and possessions, by 31 July of that year. The primary purpose of the expulsion was to eliminate the influence of unconverted Jews on Spain's by then large Jewish-origin New Christian converso population, to ensure that the prior did not encourage the latter to relapse and revert to Judaism.

Over half of Spain's Jewish origin population had converted to Catholicism as a result of the religious anti-Jewish persecution and pogroms which occurred in 1391. As a result of the Alhambra decree and persecution in prior years, it is estimated that of Spain's total Jewish origin population at the time, over 200,000 Jews converted to Catholicism, and initially remained in Spain. Between 40,000 and 80,000 did not convert to Catholicism, and by their steadfast commitment to remain Jewish were thus expelled. Of those who were expelled as unconverted Jews, an indeterminate number nonetheless converted to Catholicism once outside Spain and eventually returned to Spain in the years following the expulsion due to the hardships many experienced in their resettlement. Many of Spain's Jews who left Spain as Jews also initially moved to Portugal, where they were subsequently forcibly converted to the Catholic Church in 1497.

Most of the Jews who left Spain as Jews accepted the hospitality of Sultan Bayezid II and, after the Alhambra Decree, moved to the Ottoman Empire, where they founded communities openly practising the Jewish religion; they and their descendants are known as Eastern Sephardim.

During the centuries following the Spanish and Portuguese decrees, some of the Jewish-origin New Christian conversos started emigrating from Portugal and Spain, settling until the 1700s throughout areas of Western Europe and non-Iberian realms of the colonial Americas (mostly Dutch realms, including Curaçao in the Dutch West Indies, Recife in Dutch areas of colonial Brazil which eventually also fell to the Portuguese, and New Amsterdam which later became New York) forming communities and formally reverting to Judaism. It is the collective of these communities and their descendants who are known as Western Sephardim, and are the subject of this article.

As the early members of the Western Sephardim consisted of persons who themselves (or whose immediate forebears) personally experienced an interim period as New Christians, which resulted in unceasing trials and persecutions of crypto-Judaism by the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions, the early community continued to be augmented by further New Christian emigration pouring out of the Iberian Peninsula in a continuous flow between the 1600s to 1700s. Jewish-origin New Christians were officially considered Christians due to their forced or coerced conversions; as such they were subject to the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church's Inquisitorial system, and were subject to harsh heresy and apostasy laws if they continued to practice their ancestral Jewish faith. Those New Christians who eventually fled both the Iberian cultural sphere and jurisdiction of the Inquisition were able to officially return to Judaism and open Jewish practice once they were in their new tolerant environments of refuge.

As former conversos or their descendants, Western Sephardim developed a distinctive ritual based on the remnants of the Judaism of pre-expulsion Spain, which some had practiced in secrecy during their time as New Christians, and influenced by Judaism as practiced by the communities (including Sephardic Jews of the Ottoman Empire and Ashkenazi Jews) which assisted them in their readoption of normative Judaism; as well as by the Spanish-Moroccan and the Italian Jewish rites practiced by rabbis and hazzanim recruited from those communities to instruct them in ritual practice. A part of their distinctiveness as a Jewish group, furthermore, stems from the fact that they saw themselves as forced to "redefine their Jewish identity and mark its boundaries [...] with the intellectual tools they had acquired in their Christian socialization" during their time as New Christian conversos.

St George's Castle

St George's Castle, or variants, may refer to:

Castle of St. George (Castello di San Giorgio), part of Ducal palace, Mantua, Lomardy, Italy

São Jorge Castle, Lisbon, Portugal

Castle of San Jorge, Seville, Spain

St George's Castle, Cephalonia, Cephalonia, Greece

Elmina Castle, the Castelo de São Jorge da Mina (Castle of St. George of the Mine), Elmina, Ghana

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