It was in 1793 that the "citizens of Madras", as represented by the Council in Madras, sent a letter to the President of the Royal Academy in London, expressing a desire to memorialize the military achievements of General Charles, the 1st Marquess Cornwallis. During his tenure as the Governor General of India between 1786 and 1793, Lord Cornwallis defeated Tipu Sultan in the 3rd Anglo-Mysore War. That was the crowning glory of his military career; a career that might have been consigned to the ashes when he surrendered to George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau after the siege of Yorktown in 1781. Luckily for him, King George III was favourably disposed to him and instead of being left in the cold, he was sent to India as the Governor General, where he redeemed himself in no small way.
And so the request from the Council at Madras, that the Royal Academy send them a statue executed under the "inspection of the Academy". The Academy assigned the task to Thomas Banks; the final sculpture, 14.5 feet tall, showing Cornwallis in all his lordly mien, standing upon a pedestal reached Madras sometime in 1800. One account has it that the statue was erected in Fort St George, while another says its first home was under a cupola at the junction of Mount Road and (today's) Cenotaph Road. That's a fine point, but the statue did spend time at that junction, which was when Cenotaph Road got its name.
The pedestal shows Tipu Sultan giving up his two sons as hostages, to be held until Tipu was able to pay the multi-million pound indemnity to win them back. Many thought this particular depiction was in poor taste (compounded by poor execution - the work on the base of the statue suffers greatly in comparison with the detailing of his Lordship) and that was probably one reason why the statue was moved to the Fort in 1906, overlooking the Parade Ground. In 1925, it was moved to the gates of Bentinck's Building, the then collectorate of Madras. That location was too close to the sea and the salt air did not agree with his Lordship. In 1928, he was moved to the Connemara Library and then, in 1950, he was moved to the newly purposed Fort Museum - and here, he only has room under the stairs!