The transportation of convicts from the Madras Presidency to the Straits Settlements, 1789 - 1860

  • Gerald Daniel Louis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines convict transportation from the Madras Presidency to penal colonies across the Indian Ocean, particularly the Straits Settlements, between 1789 and 1860. It discusses the transportation of Indian convicts across the Indian Ocean as a carceral network, understanding it as a set of connections and interactions across the Indian Ocean, and alongside the concept of an ‘Indian Ocean world’. The study begins by examining how transportation was understood by the colonial authorities in Madras and around the Indian Ocean, how transportation was imposed in Madras in practice and how transportation was experienced by those transported from Madras. One of its central aims is to examine the role of transportation in expanding East India Company (EIC) control in India and across the Indian Ocean. Through the East India Company’s prisons and its coercive networks that extended across the Indian Ocean, convicts were orientated to prison discipline and rules. Their lives and experiences from the moment of their conviction to their transfer to zillah prisons and their journey from zillah prisons to Chingleput prison and finally to the penal colonies of the Straits Settlements was a long and continuous process of orientation to prison discipline and rules. Examining the transportation of convicts from the Madras Presidency also provides a new perspective on the global networks of migration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries comprised of indentured labourers and migrants from South India. By focusing on the Madras Presidency, this research explores the continuities and divergences across the Indian Ocean world that began with convict transportation across the Indian Ocean in the late eighteenth century.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorEmma Reisz (Supervisor) & Ashok Malhotra (Supervisor)


  • Indian Convicts
  • Convict Transportation
  • East India Company
  • Madras Presidency
  • Indian Ocean
  • Straits Settlements
  • Singapore
  • Penang
  • Malacca

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