Sir Thomas Munro (1761-1827) was a Scottish soldier and an officer of the East India Company. He was the Governor of Madras Presidency from 1820 to 1827. A liberal and progressive administrator, Munro laid the foundations of the present revenue, police and educational systems. He originated the present Ryotwari (land to the tiller) system of land administration.
It was Munro who first encouraged John Sullivan to explore and develop the Nilgiri hills. He was the first Governor of Madras to visit the Nilgiris in 1826 at the invitation of Sullivan. On setting eyes on Ooty for the first time, he wrote to his wife, ‘We had a view so grand and magnificent that I shall always regret your not having seen it’.
Though the Board of Directors of EIC had turned down the offer of Sullivan to use his Stonehouse as a sanatorium, Governor Munro recommended to the Board to declare Ooty as a Health Resort for the British invalids in the Madras Presidency. Tragically, Governor Munro died of cholera at Pattikonda in Andhra on July 6th, the very day his recommendation to make Ooty, the first Hill Station of the British Raj, took effect.
For the Irish born Sullivan, Munro’s initial support was, as the Irish saying goes, ‘A good start is half the battle’.
Niligiri Documentation Centre