The French occupied Yanam in 1723. It ranks third in the antiquity of the Five former French Settlements
Chandernagor – Year 1673
Pondichery – Year 1674
Yanam – Year 1723
Mahe – Year 1725
Karaikal – Year 1739
The tiny town’s history therefore dates back to 1723 when the Compagnie des indes of France established here a trading post of theirs. It was vacated after four years because their commercial operations did not produce the desired results. It was seized again in 1731 during the time of Dupleix. A PARWANA from Haji Hassan Khan authorised the French Representative Fouquet, then Chief of the Company at Machilipatnam (325 kms. away from Yanam) to set up a ‘loge’ at Yanam in the year 1731.
Musafar Jung, the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1750, confirmed the sovereignty of the French over the territory. The place was formally ceded to them only two years later. Like all other settlements, Yanam too fell thrice into the hands of the British. After the Napoleanic War, Yanam along with the factory at Machilipatnam was finally returned to the French early in 1817.
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF YANAM
It is mentioned in the book, the botanic garden of Yanam by Colonel A. Bigot that at first, the French establishment a warehouse here in 1723 A.D. Since the business became slack, it was given up in 1727 A.D. and was re-occupied in 1742 A.D. A `Fireman’ was issued by the Mughal emperor, confirming all the concessions made to the French by Salabathjung, the Subadar of Deccan.
These concessions were in the shape of the donations and the name `Inam’ was changed into Yanam(Yanaon) by the French in the course of time. People say that this region was presented to Mr. Bussy, the French General by a Vijayanagara King as a token of gratitude for the help rendered by Mr. Bussy in the fight against the rulers of Bobbili. We can se his street named after `Bussy’ here. It s believed that Bussy had stayed in a certain building in this street.
In the west of Yanam, we can find `Neelikundilu'(Indiog wells) people say that the Dutch constructed a front here in which they used to keep their currency, minted in the mint at Neelapalli, a near by village.
Yanam is situated on the East Coast, in the district of East Godavary, Andhra Pradesh. It was occupied by the French in 1723. It ranks the third in the antiquity of the Five former French settlements i.e. Chandernagar 1673, 2. Pondicherry 1674, 3. Yanam 1723, 4. Mahe 1725 and Karaikal 1739. Yanam was under the French rule for more than two centuries. It was liberated in 1954. It is now one of the component parts of the Pondicherry State.
It is a small area of 8 square miles in exent, situated on the left bank of the eastern branch of the Godavary River in Andhra Pradesh. Its location is 16o43o northern longitude and 80o5 eastern longitude. It is built on a place where the river Coringa and the Godavary meet and is bounded on the East and the South by these rivers. The Godavary discharges itself into the sea 9 miles south of Yanam town. Thr coringa river divides the town into two parts.
There are 8 villages under the Municipal jurisdiction of Yanam namely Kanakalapeta, Jambavanpeta, Agraharam, Mettakur, Kursampeta, farampeta Darialtippa and Guerempeta. The cobbler community lives in Jambavanpeta. The fishermen Community lives mainly in Agraharam, Mettakur, Kuraampeta and Guerempeta. Wate for irrigation comes from Andhra Pradesh through an age-old small canal called “French Kalva”. The soil is fertile for cultivation but the irrigation facilities are scanty . The main crop is paddy beside the seasonal crops of pulses, chillies and ground nuts.
This tiny town’s history goes back to 1723 when the Compagnie des Indes of France established here a trading post of theirs. It was vacated after four years because their commercial operations had not produced the desired results. It was seized again in 1731 during the time of Duplex. Nabab Roustoumkhan granted a Paravana dated 1735 for French Commerce in Yanam.
It was re-established completely in 1742 and administered by DE Choisis who died here on 27th October 1747. He was succeeded by Sinfray. The annual rent was waived off by a document in 1743 for Yanam. Mir Mohamed Alikhan granted all the rights on the lands situated before the quarters at Yanam in 1747. Unfortunately necessary details are not available for this period i.e. from 1723 to 1750.
The sovereignty of this territory was confirmed in 1750 to the French by Musaffar Yung, Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1753, a Paravana of Salbat Singh, Subedar of Deccan conceded to Bussy the paragaanas of Chicacole, Ellore, Rajahmundry etc. with an annual revenue RS.2,00,000 for the maintenance of the French troops in the suba in recognition of the help of these circars amounted upto 10 lakhs of Ruppes per year. Bussy helped Salbat Singh to be the Subedar of Deccan. The agreement made between the French and Salbat Singh in Aurangabad bears the signature of Said Loukshur, Minister of Salabat Singh, Yanam acquired considerable importance during the occupation of the Northern Circors by the French.
There is again a dearth of information regarding this place from 1753 to 1765. It was under the control of the English during this period.
A document dated 15th May, 1765 showed that the villages of Yanam and Kapuapalem with other lands were handed over by Jean white hill and George Dolben, the English men deputed by Jean Pybus, the head of the English settlement in Musulipatnam to Yoan Yacques Panon, French Commissioner deputed by Jean Law de Lauriston for taking them over. This document mentions that France entered into possession of Yanam and its dependent territories with exemption from all export and import duties.
Soon after taking possession of this settlement, Panon obtained a paravana from the ruler of Rajahmundry granting the French full liberty of trade at Yanam and another one from the Nabab Nizam Ali calling upon the Samindars of the Circar Mustafanagar not to hinder the commerce of the French.
Yanam was situated in the province of Peddapur in the jurisdiction of Timma Raja. The French had a modest building here situated a league from the sea, on the river Coringa into which small vessels could enter. The documents of 1765 throw light on a dispute of a weekly market or fair in Yanam. A weekly market used to be held here on every Tuesday. People used to come to it for purchasing all their essential commodities once for a week.
Neelapalli, a neighboring village of Yanam was under the British at that time. It is nearly 3 KM. Away from Yanam. The people in this village also used to hold a fair on Tuesday. Thus there was a clash of interests between Yanam and Neelapalli.
After prolonged correspondence with the English authorities at Madras, the French authorities in Yanam succeeded in changing the fair of Neelapalli to another day of the week, Saturday. In this way, Yanam triumphed over its neighboring village Neelapalli.
This is again lack of information because of its subsequent English Occupation.
Yanam was restored again to the French in 1785. Mallhendre took possession of it and he was succeeded by Bluter. It was recommended to them to favor the business of the French Company and to protect the interest of some specified merchants.
After Bluter, Sonnerat became the chief in 1790 in Yanam. He was a scholar. He had a profound interest in Natural Sciences. He wrote a book “VOYAGE AUX INDES ORIENTALES ET En CHINE.” In 3 volumes. He appreciated very much the sonority and the music of the Telugu language. He administered Yanam during the time of the French Revolution.
The French revolution had its effects in different ways in all the former french settlements. Let us study now there action of Yanam during this period . The french trade at Yanam was considerable at that time. Lew stated in his “Memoire of 1767”. It is from Yanam that we get out best “guiness” (fine cloth). It is possible to have a commerce here worth more than a million lives per year under circumstances more favourable than thoses in which we are placed now, but always by giving advances much earlir, which we have never been in a position to do.
From this place we also procured teak-wood, oils rice and other grains both for men as well as for animals”. A port from commerce, Yanam enjoyed another kind of importance “the advantages which may be derived in a time of war from the alliances that we the French may conclude with several Rajas who sooner or later cannot fail to be dissatisfied with the English”. Although the English gained an effective control over the circars, Yanam enabled the French to enter into secret relations with the local chieftains. Yanam had some commercial importance.
It was a center for the manufacture of salt and this salt constituted thje major part of the quantity imported by the French into Bengal,region. It was also an important centre of cotton goods and supplied a large part of the return cargo of the french ships visiting India. A few French citizens in Yanam were fully occupied by these two kinds of profitable business and they had no interest in political and administrative matters which were left entirely to the chief or commandant. Indian residents wanted nothing better than to be left in peace to carry on their trading activities.
Mr.Sommerat,Chief of Yanam, was involved in this business along with other traders. His commercial involvement brought serious consequences to his administrative post. The petitions were made against him in this connection, to the De Fresns the them French Governor in Pondicherry. On 5.6.1790 a French man Mr. Demars complined against him for the Ist time.
He had 40 vessels loaded with salt for Bengal representing the fortune of 10 individuals, he alleged that Mr.Sommerat had been troubling him in caring out his business and requested the Governor and the Ist Committee to rsecall him. By that time, Pondicherry under the influence of the French Revolution, had already formed the Ist representative committee. But no action was taken in favor of Demars either by the Governor or by this Ist committee. Naturally, the French citizens in Yanam were disinterested in the affairs of Pondicherry owing to his failure.