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SIR THOMAS MUNRO (1761-1827)

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 11 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR THOMAS MUNRO (1761-1827), Anglo-Indian soldier and statesman, was born at Glasgow on the 27th of May 1761, the son of a merchant. Educated at Glasgow University, he was at first intended to enter his father's business, but in 1789 he was appointed to an infantry cadetship in Madras. He served with his regiment during the hard-fought war against Hyder Ali (178o-83), and again in the first campaign against Tippoo (1790-92). He was then chosen as one of four military officers to administer the Baramahal, part of the territory acquired from Tippoo, where he remained for seven years, learning the principles of revenue survey and assessment which he afterwards applied throughout the presidency of Madras. After the final downfall of Tippoo in 1799, he spent a short time restoring order in Kanara; and then for another seven years (1800-18o7) he was placed in charge of the northern districts " ceded " by the nizam of Hyderabad, where he introduced the ryotwari system of land revenue. After a long furlough in England, during which he gave valuable evidence uponmatters connected with the renewal of the company's charter, he returned to Madras in 1814 with special instructions to reform the judicial and police systems. On the outbreak of the Pindari War in 1317, he was appointed as brigadier-general to command the reserve division formed to reduce the southern territories of the Peshwa. Of his signal services on this occasion Canning said in the House of Commons: " He went into the field with not more than five or six hundred men, of whom a very small pro-portion were Europeans. . . . Nine forts were surrendered to him or taken by assault on his way; and at the end of a silent and scarcely observed progress he emerged . . . leaving everything secure and tranquil behind him." In 182o he was appointed governor of Madras, where he founded the systems of revenue assessment and general administration which substantially remain to the present day. His official minutes, published by Sir A. Arbuthnot, form a manual of experience and advice for the modern civilian. He died of cholera on the 6th of July 1827, while on tour in the " ceded " districts, where his name is preserved by more than one memorial. An equestrian statue of him, by Chantrey, stands in Madras city. See biographies by G. R. Gleig (183o), Sir A. Arbuthnot (1881) and J. Bradshaw (1894).
End of Article: SIR THOMAS MUNRO (1761-1827)
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