The families of Madras

A post, more a question, in which I hope I get some answers. I was chatting with a friend recently, and as most of my chats, this too went into the history of Chennai, the people and more.
One little line my friend said, more as a throwaway, “Nobody is from Madras man, they come here from other places”, got me thinking. I do think there’s a bit of truth in what he says. Pretty much most of us trace our family’s roots to places like Trichy, Tanjavur, Coimbatore, Madurai or places north. But 6 years of reading Chennai’s history, through Muthiah, leads me to believe there will definitely have to be a few dozen original Madras families.
Off the top of my head, I can’t recall any one…but I am sure digging deeper will throw up some interesting names. I am hoping you folks will also help me.

5 Comments so far

  1. Anand (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 10:46 pm

    Define ‘original’. Stone-Age Madras, ‘Sangam-Age’ Madras, Pallava Madras/Mylapore?… or are you talking in terms of number of generations of permanent resident ancestors? Next logical question: how many such generations should a family have had, to be counted as ‘original’? I’m not trying to be flippant here, and you know that. Just want a clarification though I am certain that I will not have an answer to your question.

  2. Ravages (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

    Good questions Anand. If we assume a family can trace its roots to about three generations (son, father, grandfather) and perhaps even a fourth, then an ‘original’ would be about 4 generations and back.

    Madras didn’t exists till 1650…so am sure one could find a family that’s been around this part of the country for atleast 4 generations.

  3. Chenthil (unregistered) on July 16th, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

    The 8th generation of Beri Thimmappa’s (Dubash of Andrew Cogan and Francis Day) family is living in Velachery. There was an article in The Hindu about this. And there is the family of Arcot Nawab, who have been here since the time of British. These are the celebrity ones. There must be some regular folks too.

  4. DesiGirl (unregistered) on July 17th, 2006 @ 4:42 am

    Hmm, going by your count, then I am a second-(or possibly even third)generation Madrasi. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers are from the Thanjavur district while my maternal gran is a Madrasi as she has lived in Madras all her life. So has my mom and so did I, till I got married and moved to UK.
    So, what does that make me?

  5. Ravages (unregistered) on July 17th, 2006 @ 4:47 am


    Thanks for the comment.
    Yup. I do guess you would be an ‘original’ Madrasi family, but you do happen to trace your roots (phonetic pun?) to Tanjavur. So perhaps I should also make a clause that the original Madrasi family I am searching for shouldn’t be able to trace their roots to any other city/village
    (How’s that for shifting goalposts?)

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