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… When Thomas Babington Macaulay, author of the Indian Panel Code, paid a bribe of Rs 100 in Ooty

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Udhagamandalam: The palanquin carrier of Thomas Babington Macaulay, author of the Indian Panel Code, was caught in Ooty in 1834 for an affair with a woman. According to a document from the Nilgiris Documentation Centre, Macaulay, angry, gave a bribe of Rs 100 to the mob and fled. The NDC has recorded this incident in the Nilgiris chapter for Macané, which is based on the book ‘Reminiscences of an Indian Judge’ by Francis Lascelles, who has served as a judge at various places in India, including Ooty.


According to these documents, Lord Macaulay was taken by palanquin from Madras (Chennai) to Ooty for seven days in 1834, when the Governor of Kolkata, Lord William Bentinck, was sworn in as the first Governor General of India at the Ooty Club. . Macaulay stayed in Ooty for about three months. During this, his palanquin bearer made a relationship with a local woman. A few days later, when Macaulay returned to Chennai from Ooty, his palanquin carrier was intercepted by a mob of people near St. Stephen’s Church in Ooty and pulled out. They said that the palanquin carrier had promised to marry the woman.

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According to the Nilgiris Documentation Centre, Francis Lascelles was a witness to the incident. That is why in his book this incident is mentioned in the first person form. Lascelles writes that I was on some late Sunday morning in the month of April 1834 on my way to the Church of Ootacamund which is situated on the road leading to Madras. During this, I caught sight of two palanquins passing by which were surrounded from all sides. Crowds of men and women were preventing the first palanquin from moving forward. Finally, the office bearers had to turn around and were forced to take the palanquin to the office of the commanding officer of the district. Here a person came out of the first palanquin and after that many people entered the office. On enquiry, it was found that Mr. Macaulay and his servants were in the palanquin.
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100 rupees given
Lascelles further writes in his book that in a short while from that office, the gentleman and those who followed him came out. He re-boarded in his palanquin and headed towards the road leading to Madras. Simultaneously, the crowd also quietly returned to the hill from there, just as they had come. He further wrote that I saw a leader and asked him what had happened. He replied that Tom Macaulay saab is a very good gentleman… he gave 100 rupees. In those days 100 acres of land in Ooty could be bought for Rs 100.

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There are many versions of it. The judge addressed his secretary at the breakfast table and said, “Okay so Macaulay left, it was a surprise to everyone and he passed out.” At the same time, Lascelles further writes that you would think that no one knows what is going on, except yourself, pray who tells me everything except Tom, the hairdresser… to help Tom get Macaulay out. Received 10 rupees for assistance. He wrote that it was a stupid case. According to Lascelles, Macaulay was called Silly Tom Style rather than Lucky Tom in the gossip on the Nilgiri Hills.

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