At the end of British rule, with a population swollen to some 63 million, the land of the United Provinces was found to be in the ownership of just over two million persons (2,016,783). Of these the vast proportion, or some 85% (1,710,530), were small men falling in the category of revenue-payers of less than Rs. 25. Their average revenue payment was, in fact, only some Rs. 6. Probably more than half paid Rs. 1 or less, the proprietary share of each being well under one acre. Meeting only some 15% of the total land revenue, these 1,710,530 proprietors must have owned (allowing for the favourable differential assessment for the small owner) no more than a fifth of the agricultural land. A further 13½% (276,111) of revenue-payers paid between Rs. 25 and Rs. 250. The remaining 1½%, a mere 30,142 persons, were responsible for meeting 58% of the land-revenue demand. On any reckoning these constituted the economic elite. But as an elite it was far from homogeneous and spanned vast disparities of wealth. Somewhat more than half (16,758) paid under Rs. 500 each, a further quarter (7,491) between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000. Of the remaining 5,893 persons paying over Rs. 1,000 each, there were 804 who paid over Rs. 5,000, the membership qualification for the Agra Province Zamindars’ Association.
Taking the United Provinces at large, the landownership structure can be described, therefore, as a pyramid possessed of an extremely broad base but tapering rapidly to a tall, narrow elite pinnacle.