Awadh in Revolt of 1857 | Summary Settlement of 1856

In 1851 Governor General Lord Dalhousie described the kingdom of Awadh as “a cherry that will drop into our mouth one day”. Five years later, in 1856, the kingdom was formally annexed to the British Empire. The conquest happened in stages. The Subsidiary Alliance had been imposed on Awadh in 1801. By the terms of this alliance the Nawab had to disband his military force, allow the British to position their troops within the kingdom, and act in accordance with the advice of the British Resident who was now to be attached to the court. Deprived of his armed forces, the Nawab became increasingly dependent on the British to maintain law and order within the kingdom.
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned and exiled to Calcutta on the plea that the region was being misgoverned. The British government also wrongly assumed that Wajid Ali Shah was an unpopular ruler. On the contrary, he was widely loved, and when he left his beloved Lucknow, there were many who followed him all the way to Kanpur. The annexation displaced not just the Nawab. It also dispossessed the taluqdars of the region. Immediately after the annexation, the taluqdars were disarmed and their forts destroyed.
The British land revenue policy further undermined the position and authority of the taluqdars. After annexation, the first British revenue settlement, known as the Summary Settlement of 1856, was based on the assumption that the taluqdars were interlopers with no permanent stakes in land: they had established their hold over land through force and fraud. The Summary Settlement proceeded to remove the taluqdars wherever possible. Figures show that in pre-British times, taluqdars had held 67 per cent of the total number of villages in Awadh; by the Summary Settlement this number had come down to 38 per cent. The dispossession of taluqdars meant the breakdown of an entire social order. The ties of loyalty and patronage that had bound the peasant to the taluqdar were disrupted.
In areas like Awadh where resistance during 1857 was intense and long lasting, the fighting was carried out by taluqdars and their peasants. Many of these taluqdars were loyal to the Nawab of Awadh, and they joined Begum Hazrat Mahal (the wife of the Nawab) in Lucknow to fight the British; some even remained with her in defeat. The grievances of the peasants were carried over into the sepoy lines since a vast majority of the sepoys were recruited from the villages of Awadh. Awadh was, in fact, called the “nursery of the Bengal Army’’.For decades the sepoys had complained of low levels of pay and the difficulty of getting leave.

1801 Subsidiary Alliance introduced by Wellesley in Awadh
1856 Nawab Wajid Ali Shah deposed; Awadh annexed
1856-57 Summary revenue settlements introduced in Awadh by the British
10 May : Mutiny starts in Meerut
11-12 May : Delhi garrisons revolt; Bahadur Shah accepts nominal leadership
20-27 May : Sepoys mutiny in Aligarh, Etawah, Mainpuri, Etah
30 May : Rising in Lucknow
May-June : Mutiny turns into a general revolt of the people
30 June : British suffer defeat in the battle of Chinhat
25 Sept : British forces under Havelock and Outram enter the Residency in Lucknow
July : Shah Mal killed in battle
June : Rani Jhansi killed in battle