Catalogue of the Archives of the Dutch Central Government of Coastal Ceylon, 1640-1796

Description of the Subordinate Components

   The Governor in Council.



The Malabar Coast.
The Malabar coast is the west coast of India from Cape Comorin northwards. Valentijn [1] remarks that there exists some difference of opinion as to how far it extends; he considers that it would be correct to call the coast Malabar as far as Mangalore, whereas in his actual description he includes Goa. In 1743 J. Canter Visscher explained that the coast of the country where the Malayalees live is the Malabar coast, which view is also held by Mr. Galetti in his preface to "The Dutch in Malabar".
On the modern map "Malabar" seems to correspond with its namesake in the 18th century: all authorities at least agree that its southern point is Cape Comorin. The most important Dutch comptoirs here were Quilon, Caliculan, Porca, Cochin, Cranganore, Paliport and Chettay. Cochin, the residence of the commander or governor, was a fortified town, whereas Chattay, Cranganore and Quilon had fortresses.
The Dutch did not always possess the same comptoirs on the Malabar coast during the period included in this catalogue: after the rise of the British power the Dutch gradually abandoned them.
An early Dutch settlement in this part of India was Wingurla, founded in 1637, just north of Goa, obviously with the intention of causing damage to the Portuguese. The decisive blow against this nation did not, however, come from this place but from Ceylon.
There is much similarity between the Coromandel and Malabar comptoirs and their relationship with Ceylon. On both sides the numerous native states were penetrated at the coast by European settlements, of which the Dutch at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century were by far the most powerful. On the Malabar coast the chief trading article was pepper. Rijckloff van Goens snr. here appears as the "strong man" [2]. On the 1st of July 1657 he was appointed Admiral of the fleet in addition to his post of High Commissioner of Coromandel, Ceylon, Malacca, Surat and Bengal and Wingurla.
After the capture of Jaffna in 1658, by which the Portuguese were entirely driven from Ceylon, and after the fall of Negapatam, which brought the Coromandel coast largely under the command of the Dutch, the Malabar coast was vigorously attacked. For years the main object had been to drive the Portuguese from Goa. This, however, did not succeed. Rijckloff van Goens then turned against Cochin, which town after a strong resistance had to capitulate on the 7th January 1663. The success was partly gained with the help of the Ceylon lascarins. Rijckloff van Goens, planning a Dutch colonial empire with its main seat in Ceylon, wanted Malabar to be a dependency of Colombo to the same extent as the Madura coast and South Coromandel. Till the year 1663, the Malabar coast was completely under the governor of Ceylon. A commandeur was then appointed in Cochin, who was directly responsible to Batavia, and the Malabar coast became one of the Western comptoirs of the V.O.C. Nevertheless, the governor of Ceylon often acted as a kind of tutor for this comptoir, and this can be understood if we take into consideration the fact that several of the governors of Ceylon had been "commandeurs" of Malabar. The correspondence with the "commandeur" Corijn Stevens, regarding his difficulties with the native states, during the rule of the governor Julius Valentijn Stein van Gollenesse, gives a good example of this relationship.
In 1769 a governor was appointed over Malabar; it remained in this state of a governorship till the surrender to the British forces in 1796.
When in 1814 with the treaty of London the Dutch colonies were handed back, Cochin was exchanged for the island of Banka. That meant the end of the Dutch rule on the Malabar coast.
The regular correspondence with the Malabar coast has been entered here. For the extraordinary correspondence and other documents, the series "external affairs", should be consulted. The secret correspondence with the Malabar coast is bound up with the secret correspondence with the Outstations.