Edward Harrison (British administrator)

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Edward Harrison
File:Edward Harrison.jpg
President of Fort St George (Madras)
In office
11 July 1711 – 8 January 1717
Preceded by William Fraser (acting)
Succeeded by Joseph Collett
Personal details
Born 3 December 1674
Died 28 November 1732
Spouse(s) Frances Bray (1674–1752)
Children Audrey Ethelreda Harrison
Signature Edward Harrison (British administrator)'s signature

Edward Harrison (3 December 1674 – 28 November 1732)[1] was a British official[1] who served as the President of Madras from 11 July 1711 to 8 January 1717. Subsequently he was Member of Parliament for Weymouth, and then for Hertford.[2]

Early life

Edward Harrison was born in England to Richard Harrison and Audrey Villiers.[1]

Tenure as President of Madras

War with Gingee

Since its occupation by the Mughals in 1698, Gingee had been ruled by Swaroop Singh, who was actually the Rajput Governor of the Mughal province who had declared his independence and assumed the title of Raja. The English at Fort St David frequently failed to pay their rents to the Raja. On one such occasion when Swaroops Singh did not receive any rent for the villages, he responded by capturing two English officers from Fort St David and imprisoning them. Matters came to standstill in February 1711, when open hostilitiews broke out between the kingdom of Gingee and the British settlement at Fort St David. Three Muslim officers in the service of Gingee and one officer of the British East India Company were killed in the ensuing hostilities. Harrison sent Richard Raworth, a member of the Council of Fort St George along with three ships to the scene of action to settle the matter.

Raworth arrived in Fort St David with three ships as Fort St David was blockaded by Swaroop Singh from land. Raworth's troops ran into a contingent of 400 cavalry and 1,000 foot commanded by Mahobat Khan on 11 August 1711 and barely managed to hold their ground. However, two top officers in the army,Captain Coventry ande Ensign Somerville both lost their lives along with around 140 to 150 men of the Company's army. With matters reaching a standstill,Edward Harrison tried to enthuse the Nawab of Carnatic to come to the Company's aid but failed miserably. In the meantime, Richard Raworth was made the deputy Governor at Fort St David. Immediately on assumption of office, Raworth negotiated terms of peace with the Raja of Gingee. The Raja demanded a war indemnity of 16,000 pagodas in return for which he promised to cede three villages whose names have been mentioned as Trevandrun, Padre Copang and Coronuttum. However, even as the matter was under consideration, hostilities broke out once more when the Company troops attacked the forces of Gingee at Crimambakkam on 25 January 1712.

The war was, however, brought to a conclusion in April 1712 through the mediation of M.Hebert, the French Governor of Pondicherry. Swaroop Singh agreed to a settlement on payment of a war indemnity of 12,000 pagodas.

On 15 November 1714, Gingee fell to the forces of the Carnatic bringing Rajput rule to an end.

Postal service

It was during Edward Harrison's time that a postal service was established between the factories at Madras and Calcutta. This was the first postal system established by the British East India Company in India.[3] Mail was carried by runners or Tappy peons who travelled all the way to Ganjam where they exchanged mails with runners from Calcutta.

Armenian Church

The Armenian church was constructed in Armenian Street in 1712 to cater to the religious needs of the powerful Armenian community of Madras.[4]

Richard Raworth's Rebellion

In October 1713, Richard Raworth, Deputy Governor of Fort St David broke into rebellion and shook off his allegiance to Fort St George. Harrison immediately deputed a small force commanded by Henry Davenport to invade Fort St David and remove Raworth.[5] Henry Davenport was commissioned as the provisional Deputy Governor of Fort St David on 10 October 1713.

The force reached Fort St David on 18 October 1713 after passing through Mangadu, Pondicherry and Cuddalore.[5] Condapah Choultry was taken and a strong ultimatum was issued to Raworth.[5] Besieged and starved for the want of provisions, Raworth finally agreed to a settlement on 10 December 1713 and with the mediation of the French of Pondicherry, Raworth was finally pardoned and allowed to seek asylum in France.

Caste disturbances in Madras

In late 1716, caste disturbances broke out in Madras city which affected life and commerce in the city to a great extent. These disturbances started when a man belonging to the Komati caste which is regarded as a right-hand caste reportedly worshipped the idol of a God woprshipped by the Chetties who formed a left-handed caste. The problem was solved in a few days; but tensions persisted and hostilities resumed at the slightest excuse. The continuous caste-wars forced the painters of Triplicane to leave the area. With the dispute remaining unresolved and continuing to threaten the functioning of Madras city, Harrison's was recalled and replaced with Joseph Collett.

Later life

On his return to England, Harrison was elected Member of Parliament for Weymouth, and then for Hertford.[2][6] He also served as a Postmaster-General from 1725 till his death in 1732.[6]

Harrison had one daughter Audrey Ethelreda Harrison, through his marriage with Frances Bray, who married Charles Townshend, 3rd Viscount Townshend in 1723.[7]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe Person Page - 2615". peerage.com. Retrieved 2008-04-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Martin, John. "Townshend, Etheldreda". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/68358.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Muthiah, S. (12 November 2007). "Beginnings of a postal service". The Hindu: Metro Plus Chennai. Retrieved 2008-04-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Muthiah, S. (2004). Madras Rediscovered. Chennai: East West Books. p. 119. 81-88661-24-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Madhusudanan, Nick Balmer. "Richard Raworth's Rebellion 1713". Retrieved 2008-04-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Paintings in The British Postal Museum and Archive :'Governor Harrison' by Charles Jervas, 1725, accession number: OB1995.142". Retrieved 2008-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "CHARLES TOWNSHEND 1700-1764, 3rd Viscount Townshend". Retrieved 2008-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Talboys Wheeler, J. (1861). Madras in the Olden Time. 2. Madras: Higginbotham & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Preceded by
William Fraser (acting)
President of Madras
11 July 1711 – 8 January 1717
Succeeded by
Joseph Collett