RYOT, s. Ar. ra’iyat, from ra’a, ‘to pasture,’ meaning originally, according to its etymology, ‘a herd at pasture’; but then ‘subjects’ (collectively). It is by natives used for ‘a subject’ in India, but its specific Anglo-Indian application is to ‘a tenant of the soil’; an individual occupying land as a farmer or cultivator. In Turkey the word, in the form raiya, is applied to the Christian subjects of the Porte, who are not liable to the conscription, but pay a poll-tax in lieu, the Kharaj, or Jizya (see JEZYA).

[1609.—“Riats or clownes.” (See under DOAI.)]

1776.—“For some period after the creation of the world there was neither Magistrate nor Punishment…and the Ryots were nourished with piety and morality.”—Halhed, Gentoo Code, 41.


“To him in a body the Ryots complain’d
That their houses were burnt, and their cattle distrain’d.”

The Letters of Simpkin the Second, &c. 11.

1790.—“A raiyot is rather a farmer than a husbandman.”—Colebrooke, in Life, 42.

1809.—“The ryots were all at work in their fields.”—Lord Valentia, ii. 127.


“And oft around the cavern fire
On visionary schemes debate,
To snatch the Rayahs from their fate.”

Byron, Bride of Abydos.

1820.—“An acquaintance with the customs of the inhabitants, but particularly of the rayets, the various tenures…the agreements usual among them regarding cultivation, and between them and soucars (see doai--dwyeSOWCAR) respecting loans and advances…is essential to a judge.”—Sir T. Munro, in Life, ii. 17.

1870.—“Ryot is a word which is much…misused. It is Arabic, but no doubt comes through the Persian. It means ‘protected one,’ ‘subject,’ ‘a commoner,’ as distinguished from ‘Raees’ or ‘noble.’ In a native mouth, to the present day, it is used in this sense, and not in that of tenant.”—Systems of Land Tenure (Cobden Club), 166.
The title of a newspaper, in English but of native editing, published for some years back in Calcutta, corresponds to what is here said; it is Raees and Raiyat.

1877.—“The great financial distinction between the followers of Islam…and the rayahs or infidel subjects of the Sultan, was the payment of haratch or capitation tax.”—Finlay, H. of Greece, v. 22 (ed. 1877).

1884.—“Using the rights of conquest after the fashion of the Normans in England, the Turks had everywhere, except in the Cyclades,…seized on the greater part of the most fertile lands. Hence they formed the landlord class of Greece; whilst the Rayahs, as the Turks style their non-Mussulman subjects, usually farmed the territories of their masters on the metayer system.”—Murray’s Handbook for Greece (by A. F. Yule), p. 54.

RYOTWARRY, adj. A technicality of modern coinage. Hind. from Pers. ra’iyatwar, formed from the preceding. The ryotwarry system is that under which the settlement for land revenue is made directly by the Government agency with each individual cultivator holding land, not with the village community, nor with any middleman or landlord, payment being also received directly from every such individual. It is the system which chiefly prevails in the Madras Presidency; and was elaborated there in its present form mainly by Sir T. Munro.

1824.—“It has been objected to the ryotwári system that it produces unequal assessment and destroys ancient rights and privileges: but these opinions seem to originate in some misapprehension of its nature.”—Minutes, &c., of Sir T. Munro, i. 265. We may observe that the spelling here is not Munro’s. The Editor, Sir A. Arbuthnot, has followed a system (see Preface, p. x.); and we see in Gleig’s Life (iii. 355) that Munro wrote ‘Rayetwar.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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