Engagements, sometimes yearly, sometimes for a term of years, were entered into with the zamindars to pay a lump sum for the area over which they exercised control.
The zamindars of that time were raised to the status of landlords, with rights of transfer and inheritance, subject always to the payment in perpetuity of a rent-charge.
While the claim of Government against the zamindars was thus fixed for ever, it was intended that the rights of the zamindars over their own tenants should be equally restricted.
At the same time the operation of the revenue sale law had introduced a new race of zamindars, who were bound to their tenants by no traditions of hereditary sympathy, but whose sole object was to make a profit out of their newly purchased property.
The authorities in England favoured the zamindars system already at work in Bengal, which appeared at least calculated to secure punctual payment.
The Madras Government was accordingly instructed to enter into permanent engagements with zamindars, and, where no zamindars could be found, to create substitutes out of enterprising contractors.
The attempt resulted in failure in every case, except where the zamindars happened to be the representatives of ancient lines of powerful chiefs.
Throughout the rest of Madras there are no zamindars either in name or fact.
Zamindars, or government farmers, whose office always tended to become hereditary, were recognized as having a right of some sort to collect the revenue from the actual cultivators.
Hastings had the reputation of bearing hard upon the zamindars, and was absorbed in other critical affairs of state or of war.
In 1793 Lord Cornwallis declared their rights perpetual, and made over the land of Bengal to the previous quasi-proprietors or zamindars, on condition of the payment of a fixed land tax.
The settlement is made with the landholders or zamindars, who are frequently a group of persons holding distinct shares in the land, and may be themselves petty cultivators.