Origin of the first Registration District in Kerala
There are several myths and legends associated with the district of Kannur. The name Kannur is said to have been derived from two Malayalam words “Kannan” (Krishna) and “Ur” (place). It is quite common in India that the names of villages and districts are associated with Indian mythological characters, even if there is no mention of such a village in the respective mythology. The name “Kannur” also is not an exception. According to another version, “Kannur” is a derivation of Kanathur, an ancient village, the name of which survives even today in one of the wards of Kannur municipality. Another version is that Kannur might have assumed its name from one of the deities of the Hindu pantheon, a compound of two words, “Kannan” (Lord Krishna) and “ur” (place) making it the place of Lord Krishna.

The Portuguese explorer Vasco da gama visited Kannur in1498, and shortly thereafter it became a Portuguese settlement. The Portuguese built St.Angelo`s Fort north of Kannur in1505. In1558, the Kolathiris came openly into the field against the Portuguese by providing active support to Kunjali Marakkars of Kozhikode. The Kolathiris and the Zamorins of Kozhikode fought a common war against Portuguese and the besieged Fort St. Angelo . In1564the mid- 17th century control of Kannur passed to the Dutch from whom the British captured it in1783. The East India Company got its first foothold in the district towards the closing years of the17th century, when it acquired a site at Thalassery for the erection of a fort and a factory. In the latter half of the 18th century, Hyder Ali andTipu Sultan, rulers of Mysore, conquered much of the district and came into conflict with the British. In1792, at the conclusion of theThird Anglo Mysore War , the British took over Kannur and the surrounding region, which became the new Malabar District of British India”s Madras Presidency.

Lord Murdoch Brown’s Plantation and formation of first Registration office at Anjarakandy in Kannur District.
A plantation was started by the English East India Company in 1767 at Ancharkkandy and Spices like pepper, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon were cultivated here. Finally cinnamon alone flourished. This plantation was said to be Asia’s largest plantation of cinnamon and Lord Murdoch brown being the owner of this plantation with an area of nearly 500 acres.

Though oblivious of it, Lord Murdoch Brown was creating history at Ancharakkandy in Kannur District in the 18th century by demarcating boundaries of landed properties of local people. He might not have thought that this demarcation was the starting point of a new model of administration or Department of its kind not only in Kerala or India but also in Asia. This was the modest beginning of a core Government department, Registration, is a fact not known to many. As is the case with many other enterprises and Administrative systems, this too came into being felt as a need by the British. In the case of Registration Department, it was the scheming of a sharp intellect of the British to grab and subjugate the land and people of this land.

Lord Murdoch Brown was of Aristocratic lineage. He reached Ancharakkandy through the East India Company in 1850. He settled at “Randuthara”. Gradually, with the help of military, he brought the local areas under his control and arrogated to himself its governance

His foremost objective and mission was to acquire as much landed property as he could. He succeeded well in his mission. He started to measure the length and breadth of the landed property acquired and started to keep records of the same.

Lord Murdoch Browns demarcation of the landed property was the first attempt of its kind in history. Along with this he started to publicize among the local people that this kind of records are necessary and useful to them also. He opened an office in his bungalow and appointed officers to demarcate and prepare records for local people. This was the actual beginning of a Registration Process. At first he started to sign and deliver the records of properties to those it belonged to. Later on it came to his notice that inter lineations are made in the documents without his knowledge and with a view to circumvent this possibility, he started to keep and maintain a copy of the document in his office after delivering the original. Gradually the British Government started giving approvals to these records.

On 1st February1865, the first Government Sub Registry office commenced operation from his bungalow. Lord Murdoch Brown assumed charge as Deputy Registrar and started registering documents.

Though stamp papers and stamp laws were not in vogue at that point of time, Lord Murdoch Brown’s sharp intellect had a solution for everything. He brought the stamp papers from Madras specially prepared by the stamp office there and he himself donned the mantle of stamp vendor and affixed signature on stamp papers in that capacity also and sold it to the needy.
As time went on, the local people also moved the way Lord Murdoch Brown led them. As the rush of those came for registration at the office housed in his bungalow mounted, he brought the matter to the notice of the Government and donated land from his holding in which a building was constructed in 1876.

Even today, the Ancharakkandy Sub Registry office is housed in this very same building. This building stands out as a rare model for its ingenuity in construction marvel. The Sub Registrar sits atop the seat on the same dais that was built in 1876. The pulley through which passed the rope that was used to manually operate the fan still hung from the roof in those days when electricity was unavailable. The other officers use the very same old tables and chairs of that age. The clock with the British stamp, though not in working condition, still perches between the shelves. The same old almirahs are being used to preserve copies of registered documents. To prevent termite attacks, the footrests of iron shelves were made to rest on small bowls filled with water. Those bowls placed during the period of Lord Murdoch Brown still guards the footrests of the shelves at Ancharakkandy Sub Registry office. The ink used at that point of time was made of a solution prepared from a decoction from Kadukka (Entric Myrobelan) remains without any damage even today, whereas the documents prepared since independence have started to fade and smudge and are being copied afresh. Thalassery District Registry Office was opened and Madras was made the head quarters. Later on Sub Registry offices were opened in other states also. Offices were opened at places like Mumbai, Calcutta, Lahore, Allahabad, Nagpur, Assam, Ajmer etc. As it was felt that India required a common Stamp Act and Registration Act, these laws were enacted in 1899 and the administration of registration was consolidated. Later on separate laws were enacted for other states.

Formulation of Present Registration Department
The Registration Department started functioning from 1-1-1865 in Malabar Area, from 1st Dhanu 1043 Malayalam Era (1868 AD) in Travancore Area, and from 1st Edavam 1050 Malayalam Era (1875 AD) in Cochin area. The three units have been integrated to form the present Registration Department with the formation of the Kerala State from 1st November 1956 and the Registration Act 1908 is in force throughout the State.