Zaildar was a feudal title, and an officer in charge of a Zail in the colonial rural administration of Punjab in British India. Each Zail was an administrative unit, extending between two and forty villages.(p xxv)
Zaildars were equivalent to the Chaudharis (feudal zamindars) of earlier times and were hand-picked by the deputy-commissioner, who based his decision on issues such as caste or tribe, local influence, extent of landholding, services rendered to the state by him or his family, and personal character and ability.(pp97–98)
Zaildars were essentially revenue collectors and village-level representatives of the British Empire who enjoyed remuneration for their duties, life grants equal to one per cent of the revenue of their zails from the assessment of any single village that they chose.
In addition to these life inams, or grants, there were some Safedposhi grants of a semi-hereditary nature enjoyed by some of the leading agricultural families. They were semi-hereditary because one of the conditions of the grant was that on the death of an incumbent, his successor should, if possible, be a member of the same family. If, however, there was no fit member of the same family, the grant could be awarded to some deserving Lambardar of the same tribe, who was not already in the enjoyment of such a grant.
The position was quite important as it extended the influence of the colonial state right into the villages.
- The Indian Army and the Making of Punjab, Rajit K. Mazumder, Permanent Black
- Final Report of Revised Settlement, Hoshiarpur District, 1879-84 By J. A. L. Montgomery