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Yale's presidency coincided with the 'Glorious Revolution' in England, 1688-9, when the Roman Catholic King, James II, was replaced by his daughter, Mary, and her husband, William, Prince of Orange, Stadtholder and military commander of the Netherlands. 

Only four years previously the accession of James II had been celebrated with some pomp in Madras:

"Thursday, 13th August, 1685. No Consultation. This morning our dread sovereign king James the Second was proclaimed with this following solemnity.

"The whole Council, with the Commanders of Ships, and the rest of the Right Honorable Company's servants and English Gentlemen inhabitants of the city, came to attend the President at the Garden house, in a handsome equipage on horseback. After that came Peddy Naik with his peons, and the chief merchants, with great number of the inhabitants of the Gentoo town, all in arms, bringing with them also elephants, kettle drums, and all the country music. From thence we set forward with this numerous Company of people through the Gentoo town, the houses and streets being adorned all the way. Peddy Naik's peons, the chief merchants, and Gentoo inhabitants went first; elephants carrying our flags, the kettle drums and music playing before them. After that went 12 English trumpets with silk banners, and 6 hautboys, all in red coats, playing by turns all the way. Mr. Coventry (Clerk of our Court) on horseback, bare headed and with his sword drawn, carried the proclamation in his hand open. Then the President and Council, and the rest of the English gentlemen went in due order. The troop was commanded and led by the President, Mr. Thomas Lucas, Cornet; and the rear was brought up by Mr. Elihu Yale. And when we came to enter the garrison at the Choultry Gate, (one of the chief entrances into the city), there was in readiness three complete companies of soldiers, and all the principal Portuguese, to receive the President and Council, and other English gentlemen, who marched before them to the Fort Gate, Sea Gate, and back to the Choultry Gate, (three of the principal places of the city); at all which places the proclamation was read by Mr. Coventry, all persons being uncovered and their swords drawn. The proclamation ended with great shouts and joyful acclamations, crying " God bless king James Second", and at every place of reading there was a volley of small shot, the trumpets sounding, and hautboys playing. Which done, the President, etc. returned in the same order to the Garden house, the great guns both of the Fort and Town firing all the way; and after that all the Europe and country ships did the like. And soon after the President, etc., were returned, the Persian and Siam ambassadors, with great state and a numerous retinue, came to congratulate our solemnity, and to bring their good wishes for his Majesty's prosperous reign; who after some small stay, being handsomely saluted and treated according to their quality with a banquet, music, and dancing, they took leave and departed to their houses with great satisfaction. And then a general invitation being made, we drank his Majesty's health and long and happy reign; and at night there was bonfires and fireworks, wherewith this solemnity ended."

But the transition to William and Mary seems to have been accepted with equanimity, despite the huge investment that the directors in London had made in the form of bribes to James' court. The change did, however, have important consequences. Under the Stuarts, England had been aligned with France in opposition to the rest of Europe - the papacy, the Holy Roman Empire and, most significantly for the English in India, the Dutch. Now they were aligned with their old enemies the Dutch in opposition to the French, who were becoming much more active in the East Indian trade. Since 1673 they had had a station at Pondicherry, between Madras and Cuddalore, in what was now Mahrattas territory. In August 1690 there was a sea battle outside Madras between a French fleet and the newly allied English and Dutch. 


One might have thought that these external threats would create a feeling of solidarity among the company's servants in Madras but in fact the council was riven by a number of very vicious and personal disputes. Among them was a dispute over Yale's defensive measures - that he built a temporary fortification round the Black Town which other members of the council thought was a waste of money; and also his purchase of the fort at Tegnapatam, near Cuddalore. The purchase, in 1690, was negotiated with the local representatives of the Mahrattas by Yale's brother, Thomas, whom Yale also wanted to be appointed as its first governor. Other members of the council opposed this venture on the grounds that 'Fort Saint David', as Yale called it, was too close to Fort Saint George to be useful and that it was in an area that was likely to be the scene of conflict between the Mughal and the Mahrattas. Thomas Yale's trading activities on his brother's behalf were also regarded with suspicion and there seems to have been a feeling that Yale was carving out a personal fiefdom for himself at the company's expense.

Yale's personal life was also a cause for scandal. He had one son and three daughters by Catherine Hynmers. The son died, aged three, in 1688 and soon afterwards Catherine Hynmers departed with her daughters to London. At that point, Yale took up with another wealthy widow, the Portuguese Jewess, Hieronima de Paiva. In a short essay on The Portuguese Jewish Community of Madras, India, in the seventeenth century, Mordechai Arbell says of her husband:

"One of the first Jews who came to Madras with special permission to reside and trade there was Jacques (Jaime) de Paiva (Pavia), originally from Amsterdam. Through his good relations with the rulers, he acquired mines in the kingdom of Gloconda [sic], neighboring Madras. At the same time he managed to convince the English authorities to permit Jews to settle in Madras, and he was the one who organized the Jews into the semblance of a community. On a plot of land in the suburbs he established a Jewish cemetery. During one of his trips to the mines he owned, he fell ill and died in Madras and was buried in its Jewish cemetery. On his tombstone we find that he died 'in the month of Tishri 5548–1687'."

Arbell's essay begins by quoting a poem by the Sephardi poet Daniel Levy de Barrios which evokes 'six holy Jewish communities' in English cities, "three in Nieves [Nevis in the Leeward Isles in the Caribbean], London and Jamaica; the fourth and fifth in two parts of Barbados, and the sixth in Madras-Patan."  Yale, under instructions from London, formed a municipal government in Madras, designed to reflect the weight of power and influence among the different communities. Out of twelve aldermen it included three Jews.

Hieronima de Paiva moved in with Yale not long after Catherine Hynmers' departure and in July 1690 she bore him a son. Like his relationship with the widow of Joseph Hynmers, the relationship with the widow of Jacques de Paiva was very profitable. Yale and Hieronima were joined later in the 1690s by Katherine Nicks, wife of John Nicks, who had been imprisoned by the company for commercial activities, some of which had been conducted on Yale's behalf. Katherine Nicks continued to act as Yale's agent in India after his return to England.

Yale was dismissed as governor in October 1692 and replaced by Francis Higginson, an American who had originally been sent to London to act as Mayor for the new municipality of Madras. Higginson came from Connecticut and was, as it happens, related to the American Yales by marriage. Much of the rest of Yale's time in India was spent defending himself against numerous charges that he had abused the trust of the company to build his huge personal fortune (in a letter written in January 1691, Yale said that he had accumulated 500,000 'pagodas' - the Indian coinage of the time - which his biographer, Hiram Bingham translates as $5,000,000 in the values of 1937). Yale, however, was vindicated after an appeal to the Privy Council made by Thomas and two of his other associates in 1695. The Company's reply to this appeal complained that Yale had "amassed a great estate injuriously, and committed such unprecedented crimes and abuses that the whole Council of the Fort protested against, and separated from him, and wrote two letters ... Soon after which, all who subscribed the said letters dyed, except Mr Fraser, not without suspicion of being poisoned."

It has to be said that Yale did profit from a number of timely deaths - in addition to three of his enemies on the council there was the death of Joseph Hynmers in 1680 and of Jaime de Paiva in 1687. As Bob Dylan remarks in a song that evokes a similar situation: 'I can't help it if I'm lucky.' Bingham quite convincingly clears him of some other unpleasant charges brought against him, for example that he had had a stable boy who absconded with a horse for a couple of days hanged. 

Higginson was replaced in 1697 by Thomas Pitt, an old friend and business associate of Yale's, nicknamed 'Diamond Pitt'. He was the grandfather of the Prime Minister, William Pitt, 'the elder'. Under Thomas Pitt, Yale was able to leave India in style, bringing with him five tons of valuable merchandise. It seems, according to an article published in The Hindu, 24/4/2000, that he was accompanied by Hieronima but that she died on the journey.