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The Second Known Example of The First Scientifically Constructed Modern Map of Chennai (Madras).

Fine example of William Faden's plan of Madras (Chennai), published in London in 1816.

The map was produced at time of explosive commerical growth in Madras, fueled by the expansion of English commercial interests. The map was most likely produced as part of the "Survey of the Carnatic" (the broad area around Madras) undertaken in 1808-1816 by students of the Military Institution of Madras. Prior to the production of this map, the only detailed map of Madras we could locate was a manuscript map, described by Saunders as follows:

"Topographical Survey of MADRAS and its ENVIRONS, by the Officers of the Senior Class of the Military Institution. Lieuts. J. J. O'Donnoghue, II. Walpole, M. I. Harris, J. Galling, W. Biss, J. D. Burnett, A. Tulloch, W. Chavasse, J. Swinton, J. C. Raester, J. Dalgairns, J. Bayley. During the months of February, March, and April 1806. Scale, 2 inches to 1 mile ; size, 78 inches by 49. MS." (Saunders, Trelawny, [attrib.]. A Catalogue of Manuscript and Printed, Reports, Field Books, Memoirs, Maps, etc., of the Indian Surveys, Deposited in the Map Room of the India Office. London: W. H. Allen, 1878.)

The map shows in meticulous detail the geographical and topographical features of the Madras area, locating dozens of individual landowners, buildings, roads of other features, including Brick Kilns, Hospitals, the Pantheon, gardens, govenment buildings, etc.

The map shows a reconstructed Fort St. George, which has absorbed the area south of the original fort, which in former times constituted "White Town," the traditional residential section for Europeans in the earliest years of the British presence in Chennai.

By 1798, Madras had grown to encompass the original Fort area and 16 neighboring villages. British trade was booming in the region, resulting the need to conduct a modern survey.

The present map shows Madras at a time when it had absorbed a number of neighoring villages, including Triplicane, Ryapooraum (Royapuram), Tundahoor (Tondiapret), Vasurvelly, Vepery, Persinboor (Peramboor), Peraloor, Coonnoor, Ianaveram (Ayanavaram), Chindadrepett (Chindatripet), Poothoppetta, Egmore, Amenjikairy (Amaindhakarai), Chetooput (Chetpet), Persawauk (Purasawalkam), Periamoot (Periyamedu), Kilpauk.

South of the river, the communities of St. Thome or Milapoor (Mylapore), Tanampetta (Teynammpet), Alwarpetta (Alwarpet), Choultry (near Anna Colony--Choultry is a generic Indian name for a resting place with rooms and food), Sydapetta (Saidapet), Coodambaukum (Kodambakkam), Cundapilly Choultry (perhaps a reference to Kondapalli?), Royapetta, Meer Saib-petta, Kistnampetta, Wallajah, Irambauk and Nongumbacum (Nungambakkam).

The map is without question the finest mapping of the region, far surpassing any other map of the period. While likely produced by The Military Institute, the timing of the production of this map likely grew from the so-called Great Trigonometric survey. The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India started on April 10, 1802, with the measurement of a baseline near Madras. Major William Lambton selected the flat plains with St. Thomas Mount at the north end, and Perumbauk hill at the southern end. The baseline was 7.5 miles long. Lieutenant Kater was despatched to find high vantage points on the hills of the west so that the coastal points of Tellicherry and Cannanore could be connected. A 36-inch theodolite was used for triangulation and a zenith sector for determining astronomical latitudes.

The survey line was completed in 1806. The East India Company thought that the full project would take about 5 years, but eventually it took more than 60 years, lasting past the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the end of company rule in India in 1858.

Historical Overview

The routes of the European influence in Madras date to 1522, when the Portugese set up a colony which they called Sao Tome de Meliapore (illustrated on this map). The Portugese monopoly continued relatively unabated until 1612, when the Dutch took power from the Portugese and established a base near Pulicat.

The British History in Madras began in 1626, when the British East India Compay initially set up a factor north of Madras in Armagon. In 1637, the British East India Company began to expand its sphere of influence to the South, resulting in its securing a grant from the Damarla Venkatadri Nayaka, Nayaks of Kalahasti, for a three-mile-long strip of land and the city of Madras. Construction of Fort St. George by the British East India Company began on April 23, 1640. As the British trading community began to thrive and the Dutch and Portugese fortunes faded, the Fort St. George area grew, ultimately becoming the area then known a White Town, the only color which the British were allowed to use when decorating the exterior of their buildings.

The success of Fort St. George and White Town as trading centers also brought an increasing number of non-Christian traders and others, primarily Indians of Hindu and Muslim faith. As these population grew and unrest occasionally broke out between the Hindu and Muslim communities, the non-Christians were re-located to a new settlement, which was known as Black Town. The combination of the three areas, Fort George, White Town and Black Town would become the community referred to as Madras.

Over time, there was signficant conflict and change outside the walls of Fort St. George, with the settlement reshaping itself and growing outward around the settlement. In 1693, a perwanna was received from the local Nawab granting the towns Tondiarpet, Purasawalkam and Egmore to the East India Company, which continued to rule from Fort St. George.

For a brief period of time between 1746 and 1749, the French took control of Fort St. George and Madras, before the British took it back in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. In the latter half of the 18th century, Madras became an important British naval base, and the administrative center of the British dominions in southern India. The British fought with various European powers, notably the French at Vandavasi (Wandiwash) in 1760, where de Lally was defeated by Sir Eyre Coote, and the Danish at Tharangambadi (Tranquebar). Following the British victory in the Seven Years' War they eventually dominated, driving the French, the Dutch and the Danes away entirely, and reducing the French dominions in India to four tiny coastal enclaves. The British also fought four wars with the Kingdom of Mysore under Hyder Ali and later his son Tipu Sultan, which led to their eventual domination of India's south. Madras was the capital of the Madras Presidency, also called Madras Province.

By the end of 1783, the British were securely in control of Madras and most of the Indian trade. Consequently, they expanded the Chartered control of by encompassing the neighbouring villages of Triplicane, Egmore, Purasawalkam and Chetput to form the city of Chennapatnam, as it was called by locals then. This new area saw a proliferation of English merchant and planter families who, allied with their wealthy Indian counterparts, jointly controlled Chennapatnam under the supervision of White Town. Over time and administrative reforms, the area was finally fully incorporated into the new metropolitan charter of Madras.

The development of a harbour in Madras led the city to become an important center for trade between India and Europe in the 18th century. In 1788, Thomas Parry arrived in Madras as a free merchant and he set up one of the oldest mercantile companies in the city and one of the oldest in the country (EID Parry). John Binny came to Madras in 1797 and established the textile company Binny & Co in 1814.

We note only the copy in the British Library, which is referenced in Catalogue of Maps, Prints, Drawings, etc., forming the geographical and topographical collection attached to the Library of his late Majesty King George the third, etc., London, 1829 The map is mentioned in Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society..., Volume 19.

Condition Description
Minor offsetting.
William Faden Biography

William Faden (1749-1836) was the most prominent London mapmaker and publisher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His father, William Mackfaden, was a printer who dropped the first part of his last name due to the Jacobite rising of 1745. 

Apprenticed to an engraver in the Clothworkers' Company, he was made free of the Company in August of 1771. He entered into a partnership with the family of Thomas Jeffreys, a prolific and well-respected mapmaker who had recently died in 1771. This partnership lasted until 1776. 

Also in 1776, Faden joined the Society of Civil Engineers, which later changed its name to the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. The Smeatonians operated as an elite, yet practical, dining club and his membership led Faden to several engineering publications, including canal plans and plans of other new engineering projects.

Faden's star rose during the American Revolution, when he produced popular maps and atlases focused on the American colonies and the battles that raged within them. In 1783, just as the war ended, Faden inherited his father's estate, allowing him to fully control his business and expand it; in the same year he gained the title "Geographer in Ordinary to his Majesty."

Faden also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801, a map of Kent. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts.

Faden was renowned for his ingenuity as well as his business acumen. In 1796 he was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Arts. With his brother-in-law, the astronomer and painter John Russell, he created the first extant lunar globe.

After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice. He died in Shepperton in 1826, leaving a large estate.