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Part 1 of 4

Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto
Vol. I: 1748-1756
Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna
Published for the National Archives of India by the Manager of Publications, Government of India
1958

[PDF HERE]

GENERAL EDITOR’S PREFACE

In the words of Grant Duff the records of the East India Company are the best historical material in the world. Research scholars working in various parts of the country would undoubtedly like to have this raw material in a readily accessible form. But to bring the voluminous records within easy reach of scholars would be a superhuman task. While that task has not been attempted, the Government of India has, on the recommendation of the Indian Historical Records Commission, accepted a scheme which envisages publication of the correspondence between the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London and the Fort William Council in Calcutta. This correspondence forms a very small part of the records of the Government of India but its value and importance are without question. While it does not give the detailed story of every action or every policy, for which one has to go to the discussions, minutes, decisions etc., available in the proceedings of the Board, it nevertheless gives a bird’s-eye view of the Company’s activity in all its aspects, which enables the reader to form a clear idea of the history of the time. This series of records was considered suitable for in extenso reproduction. Since the Company’s records of the period earlier than 1748 are not available in the National Archives of India, except for some stray documents, the series was started from that date. As a first instalment it was decided to publish the records of the period between 1748 and 1800 in 21 volumes as follows:

Volume / Nature of records / Period

I / Home Department / 1748-56
II / Do. / 1757-59
III / Do. / 1760-63
IV / Do. / 1764-66
V / Do. / 1767-69
VI / Do. / 1770-72
VII / Do. / 1773-76
VIII / Do. / 1777-81
IX / Do. / 1782-85
X / Do. / 1786-88
XI / Do. / 1789-92
XII / Home, Separate (Revenue) / 1793-95
XIII / Home, Separate (Legislative) / 1796-1800
XIV / Secret, Select Committee / 1752-81
XV / Foreign, Secret / 1782-86
XVI / Secret & Separate / 1787-91
XVII / Foreign, Political & Secret / 1792-95
XVIII / Do. 1796-1800
XIX / Military Department / 1787-92
XX / Do. / 1792-95
XXI / Do. / 1796-1800


These volumes were to be edited by scholars working in Universities and learned institutions under the general editorship of the Director of Archives, Government of India. Apart from the individual editor’s introduction accompanying each of the 21 volumes, there is to be a general Prefatory Note to be written by the General Editor covering the entire series. It was felt that a knowledge of the period prior to 1748 when the series starts would be indispensable to a proper appreciation of the history of the succeeding period. The note is therefore to give a general survey of the Company’s history and activities from its establishment up to 1748. In addition, it will highlight the trends of the Company’s policy as unfolded in the letters now being published, in order that they may be appreciated more easily. The original intention was to include this review in the Prefatory Note in Volume I of the series. But the idea has been given up and it is now proposed to have a small separate volume for the purpose. For one thing, Volume I has become quite bulky and further addition to its bulk was considered undesirable. Secondly, as the Preface is to survey also the period 1748-1800, it was felt that the preparation of the Preface might conveniently await the completion of the editorial work of all the volumes in this series.

The present volume, though fourth in order of publication, is the first of the series. It had been sent to the press as early as 1952, but in view of other urgent work its printing was given a relatively low priority. The unfortunate delay in publishing the volume and the comparatively low standard of production are regretted.

The General Editor is grateful to the Commonwealth Relations Office, London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for permission to publish certain portraits and paintings from among their collections, and to the Director General of Archaeology, Government of India, for supplying photographic copies of some of the illustrations included in the volume.

T. Raychaudhuri
Director of Archives
Government of India
National Archives of India, New Delhi, 27 August 1958

CONTENTS [PDF HERE]

• General Editor's Preface
• Contents
• List of Illustrations
• Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the East India Company, 1748-56
• Directors of the East India Company, 1748-56
• Governors of the Presidency of Fort William, Bengal, 1748-56
• Members of Board, Fort William, Bengal, 1748-56
• Governors of the Presidency of Fort St. George, 1748-56
• Governors of the Presidency of Bombay, 1748-56
• Introduction
LETTERS FROM COURT
• 1. 28 November 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 319-23)
• 2. 19 December 1753 (Home Public : Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 324-30)
• 3. 23 January 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 2-43)
• 4. 23 January 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 44-45)
• 5. 15 February 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp.47-50)
• 6. 2 March 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 51-59 )
• 7. 15 March 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp, 60-61)
• 8. 15 March 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, I754-55 pp. 62-67)
• 9. 29 November 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 75-95)
• 10. 29 November 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 96-99)
• 11. 31 January 1755 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 17S4-55, pp. 106-07)
• 12. 31 January 1755 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 1-51)
• 13. 14 February 1755 (Home Public : Vol. I, 1755-59, p. 52)
• 14. 26 March 1755(Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 53-57)
• 15. 16 April 1755 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, p. 146)
• 16. 10 October 1755 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 59-64)
• 17. 3 December 1755 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 67-69)
• 18. 19 December 1755 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 69-74)
• 19. 11 February 1756 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 75-125)
• 20. 29 December 1756 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 127-34)
• 21. 29 December 1756 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1755-58, pp. 139-42)
LETTERS TO COURT
• 1. 10 January 1747/48 (Home Public: Bengal Letters from the Coast and Bay, Vol. XIII, 1747-48)
• 2. 24 February 1747/48 (Home Public: Letters from the Coast and Bay, Vol. XIV, 1748, pp. 1-67)
• 3. 26 July 1748 (Home Public: Bengal Letters from the Coast and Bay, Vol. XIV, 1748, pp. 68-69)
• 4. 19 November 1748 (Home Public: Bengal Letters from the Coast and Bay, Vol. XlV, 1748, pp. 70-91)
• 5. 22 December 1748 (Home Public: Bengal Letters from the Coast and Bay, Vol. XIV, 1748, pp. 91-102)
• 6. 27 January 1748/49 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1748-49, pp.1-11)
• 7. 11 February 1748/49 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1748-49, pp. 13-18)
• 8. 24 February 1748/49 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 1-13)
• 9. 10 August 1749 (Home Public: Vol. I, 1748-49, pp. 21-43 )
• 10. 22 August 1749 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, p. 14)
• 11. 13 January 1749/50 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp.15-70)
• 12. 8 February 1749/50 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 71-80)
• 13. 25 February 1749/50 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp.81-91)
• 14. 24 August 1750 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 92-144)
• 15. 30 December 1750 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 145-55)
• 16. 12 January 1750/51 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 156-62)
• 17. 4 February 1750/51 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 163-205)
• 18. 18 February 1750/51 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVl, 1749-51, pp. 206-10)
• 19. 19 February 1750/51 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 211-15)
• 20. 24 February 1750/51 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 216-24)
• 21. 20 August 1751 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 225-79)
• 22. 2 September 1751 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVI, 1749-51, pp. 280-86)
• 23. 2 January 1751/52 (Home Public: Vol. II, 1751-52, pp. 61-95)
• 24. 16 January 1751/52 (Home Public: Vol. II, 1751- 52, pp. 96-104)
• 25. 31 January 1751/52 (Home Public: Vol. II, 1751- 52, pp. 105-13)
• 26. 17 February 1751/52 (Home Public: Vol. II, 1751-52, pp. 114-20)
• 27. 23 February 1751/52 (Home Public: Vol. II, 1751-52, pp 121-26)
• 28. 18 September 1752 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 68-115)
• 29. 1 January 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 130-47)
• 30. 15 January 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 149-57)
• 31. 29 January 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 168-74).
• 32. 11 February 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 175-201)
• 33. 1 March 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 227-42)
• 34. 3 September 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 247-307)
• 35. 17 September 1753 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVII, 1752-53, pp. 308-09)
• 36. 31 December 1753 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 1-3)
• 37. 4 January 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 5-67)
• 38. 17 January 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 68-72)
• 39. 18 January 1754 (Home Public : Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 74-79)
• 40. 28 February 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 81-99)
• 41. 6 September 1754 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 70-73)
• 42. 9 September 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 100-30)
• 43. 7 December 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 132-205)
• 44. 20 December 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, p. 206)
• 45. 22 December 1754 (Home Public: Vol. III, 1753-54, pp. 208-09)
• 46. 9 January 1755 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 108-13)
• 47. 30 January 1755 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, p. 114)
• 48. 3 February 1755 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII 1754-55, pp. 115-31)
• 49. 1 March 1755 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. XVIII, 1754-55, pp. 132-45)
• 50. 3 September 1755 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 1-11)
• 51. 11 September 1755 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 12-31)
• 52. 28 September 1755 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 32-42)
• 53. 24 November 1755 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 43-44)
• 54. 8 December 1755 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 45-120)
• 55. 5 January 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 141-44)
• 56. 26 January 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 121-23)
• 57. 17 February 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 124-25)
• 58. 21 February 1756 (Home Public Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 126-40)
• 59. 23 February 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV,1755-57, pp. 145-69)
• 60. 26 February 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 170-75)
• 61. 4 March 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 176-80)
• 62. 16 July 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 193-210)
• 63. 17 July 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 181-92)
• 64. 17 July 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 211-14)
• 65. 18 July 1756 (Home Public: Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 215-21)
• 66. 17 September 1756 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 222-31)
• 67. 25 October 1756 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 232-39)
• 68. 30 November 1756 (Home Public: Copies of Records obtained from India Office, Vol. IV, 1755-57, pp. 240-331)
• Notes
• Bibliography
• Index
• Corrigenda
• Facsimile of a letter from two members of the Board at Fort William to the Court of Directors, 26 February 1756, From the original in the National Archives of India
• Plan of the territory of Calcutta when attacked and taken by Sirajud-Daulah on 18 June 1756, Courtesy of the Survey of India.
• J. Z. Holwell, Reproduced from Curzon of Kedleston's British Government in India, published by Cassell and Company Ltd., London. Copyright reserved by the publishers.
• Motijhil, Murshidabad, Courtesy of the Department of Archaeology, Government of India.

CHAIRMEN AND DEPUTY CHAIRMEN OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY* 1748-56

Year / Chairman / Deputy Chairman


1748 / Chauncey, Richard / Braddyll, Dodding**
1749 / Baker, William / Chauncey, Richard
1750 / Chauncey, Richard / Gough, Harry
1751 / Drake, Roger (Sr.) / Baker, William
1752 / Baker, William / Chauncey, Richard
1753 / Chauncey, Richard / Drake, Roger (Sr.)
1754 / Drake, Roger (Sr.) / Chauncey, Richard
1755 / Drake, Roger (Sr.) / Godfrey, Peter
1756 / Godfrey, Peter / Payne, John

DIRECTORS OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY 1748-56

Baker, William** / 1741-52
Barwell, William / 1753-59, 1761-64, 1766
Benyon, Richard** / 1745-48
Bootle, Capt. Robert / 1741-49, 1752-53, 1755-56
Boulton, Henry Crabb / 1753-61, 1763-65, 1767-70, 1772-73
Boyd, John / 1753-61, 1763-64
Braddyll, Dodding** / 1728-48
Braund, William / 1745-54
Burrow, Christopher / 1735-58, 1760-61
Chambers, Charles / 1755-57, 1763-66, 1768
Chauncey, Richard / 1737-55
Creed, James / 1749, 1755-58, 1761
Cutts, Charles / 1749-54, 1758-61, 1763-66
Dorrien, John / 1755-58, 1760-63
Drake, Roger (Sr.) / 1738-58
Ducane, Peter / 1750-54
Feake, Samuel** / 1733-51
Fonnereau, Abel** / 1749-52
Fonnereau, Zachary Philip / 1754-55
Godfrey, Peter / 1710-17, 1734-57, 1759-60
Gough, Charles / 1749-57, 1759-62
Gough, Capt. Harry (Sr.)** / 1730-33, 1736-51
Gough, Harry (Jr.) ** / 1735- 51
Hope, John** / 1738-41, 1744-52
Hudson, Capt. Robert** / 1721-29, 1732-34, 1745-48
Hume, Alexander** / 1737- 48
Impey, Michael / 1736- 57
Jones, Robert / 1754-57, 1765-68
Law, Stephen / 1746-56
Linwood, Nicholas / 1754- 55
Mabbott, William / 1741-55
Manship, John / 1755- 58, 1762-65, 1767, 1769-77, 1779-82, 1784-87, 1789-92, 1794-97, 1799-1802, 1804-07, 1809 Newnham, Nathaniel (Jr.) / 1738- 58
Payne, John / 1741- 57
Phipps, Thomas / 1742- 58
Plant, Henry / 1745-58
Raymond, Jones / 1734- 58
Rider, William / 1738-54
Rous, Thomas / 1745-53, 1755, 1757-58, 1760-62, 1764-67, 1770-71
Savage Henry / 1755-58, 1760-62, 1764-67, 1770- 77, 1779-82
Snell, William** / 1742-,64, 1767-69
Steele, William** / 1742-48
Sulivan, Laurence / 1755-58, 1760-61, 1763-64, 1769, 1771-72, 1778-81, 1783-85
Thornton, John** / 1749- 50
Tullie, Timothy / 1750- 58, 1760-63
Turner, Whichcott / 1742-56
Walpole, Thomas / 1753-55
Western, Maxmilian / 1755-58
Wilberforce, William (Jr.) / 1753-55
Willy, William / 1746-55
Winter, James / 1754

*The lists are based on the following sources: the text of the letters published in this volume; C. C. Prinsep’s Records of Services of the Honorable East India Company's Civil Servants in the Madras Presidency, 1741-1858 (London, 1885); the Alphabetical List of Directors of the East India Company from 1758 to 1858, compiled by C.H. and D. Philips and published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, October 1941; and the List of the Heads of Administrations in India and of the India Office in England (Imperial Record Department, 1939).

**These names do not occur in the letters but have been included on the basis of C. C. Prinsep’s Records of Services of the Honourable East India Company's Civil Servants in the Madras Presidency, 1741-1858 (London, 1885).  

GOVERNORS OF THE PRESIDENCY OF FORT WILLIAM, BENGAL 1748-56

Barwell, William / 18 April 1748 — 17 July 1749
Dawson, Adam / 17 July 1749 — 5 July 1752
Fytche, William / 5 July 1752 — 8 August 1752
Drake, Roger (Jr.) / 8 August 1752—22 June 1758

MEMBERS OF BOARD, FORT WILLIAM, BENGAL 1748-56

Amyatt, Peter / 1756-58
Barwell, William / 1748-49
Becher, Richard / 1751-60, 1766-71
Bellamy, Humffreys / 1748-50
Blachford, James / 1750-52
Boddam, Thomas / 1756-59
Burrow Thomas / 1749-52
Collet, Mathew / 1753-58
Cruttenden, Edward Holden / 1748-55
Dawson, Adam / 1748-52
Drake, Roger (Jr.) / 1748-58
Eyles, Edward / 1748-49
Eyre, Edward / 1753-56
Forster, John / 1748
Frankland, William / 1752-59
Fytche, William / 1748-51
Hollond, John / 1750-51
Holwell, John Zephaniah / 1752-60
Kempe, William / 1748-49
Killpatrick, James / 1756-57
Mackett, William / 1752-59
Manningham, Charles / 1750-59
Pattle, George / 1748-49
Pearkes, Paul Richard / 1751-52, 1754-58
Rooper, Samuel / 1749-50
Watts, William / 1749-52, 1756-58

*The years mentioned against the names of the Members do not necessarily indicate the entire terms of their membership but merely show that they were members during the period stated as verified from the Correspondence.

GOVERNORS OF THE PRESIDENCY OF FORT ST. GEORGE 1748-56

Floyer, Charles / 16 April 1747—21 August 1749
Boscawen, Edward / 21 August 1749— 11 October 1749
Lawrence, Stringer / 11 October 1749—6 December 1749 (Deputy Governor)
Prince, Richard / 6 December 1749—19 September 1750 (Deputy Governor)
Saunders, Thomas / 19 September 1750—14 January 1755
Pigot, George / 14 January 1755—14 November 1763

GOVERNORS OF TOE PRESIDENCY OF BOMBAY 1748-56

Wake, William / 26 November 1742—17 November 1750
Bourchier, Richard / 17 November 1750—28 February 1760  

INTRODUCTION  

The correspondence in this volume covers the years from 1748 to 1756 A.D., which form a significant period in the history of India. The disappearance of political unity and administrative order which followed the rapid decline of the Mughal Empire generated various disintegrating forces which accelerated India’s decay in all respects and contributed to make European penetration into her politics bolder, quicker, and deeper than before. A careful and comprehensive study of these forces is an indispensable prerequisite for a correct understanding of the genesis of the political revolutions in India, and her rapid economic decline during the 18th century.



Alivardi

Alivardi was the subahdar of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa during this period. He seized the masnad of Bengal after defeating and slaying his patron’s son and his own master Sarfaraz at Giria, near Rajmahal, on 10 April 1740, and occupied it till his death on 9 (or 10) April 1756. Southern India was then distracted by the evil effects of the bitter conflicts between the English and the French trading companies and the civil wars among the rival claimants to the rulerships of the Deccan and of the Carnatic. By considerable vigilance and tact Alivardi was able to keep his province immune from the pernicious effects of the southern wars. But Bengal suffered much from the repeated onslaughts of the triumphant Maratha imperialism of the time and from the insurrections of the Afghans, both of which caused a tremendous strain on its government, traders and common people. The government of Alivardi was only partially successful in combating these evils. His death was, however, followed by general disorder which emboldened the European trading companies to interfere in the politics of Bengal just as they had been doing in southern India during the preceding few years.

Economically the period was brighter than what was to follow after Plassey.
But the signs of the coming change had already appeared and the main lines of economic decline resulting from the prevailing political troubles were discernible; the situation after 1757 only hastened the process.

Bengal, rich in varied resources, naturally excited the cupidity of the Marathas who were then invading and plundering different parts of India. When the ambition of Raghuji Bhonsle I of Berar, virtually an independent chief, to dominate the affairs of his master, Shahu, at Satara, had been foiled by the superior tactics and ability of Baji Rao I, his eyes fell upon Bengal as a very suitable sphere for the extension of his influence and for acquisition of wealth by the imposition of chauth. His general Bhaskar Pant invaded Bengal at the head of a large army in the spring of 1742. Alivardi heard of this near Midnapur, on his way back from the Orissa campaign, and marched to Burdwan in April to oppose the Marathas who had already reached that town. But taken unawares by a surprise Maratha attack on his camp at dead of night, he retreated towards Katwa, 35 miles to the north-east of Burdwan, his troops fighting their way through the enemy ranks and suffering acutely from lack of even ordinary shelter and food. Not only important cities like Murshidabad, Hooghly, Burdwan and Katwa, but also several localities in the interior of the province were plundered by the Marathas, and their inhabitants put to unspeakable tortures. In the course of two or three months, the whole of West Bengal and part of Orissa passed under Maratha control. Only north and east Bengal and the city of Murshidabad remained under the Nawab’s authority. The English in Calcutta anxiously watched the movements of both parties and took precautions for their own safety. The Nawab’s Government, however, made effective arrangements to prevent Maratha advance into east Bengal and succeeded in driving them beyond the Chilka Lake in December 1742.

The first Maratha raid was thus warded off. But in the meantime early in December 1742 Safdar Jang, the subahdar of Oudh, had marched into Bihar, ostensibly to befriend Alivardi under the orders of Emperor Muhammad Shah but with the ulterior motive of adding Bihar to his dominions. Disgusted with Safdar Jang’s domineering conduct at Patna, Alivardi managed to secure imperial orders for his recall, and Safdar Jang left Bihar by the middle of January 1743.

There was, however, no relief for Bengal from Maratha incursions. With ambition unsatiated Bhaskar Pant instigated Raghuji Bhonsle to invade this province at the head of a large army in February 1743. Himself reduced to complete political [un]importance and incapable of prompt action, the Emperor sought to counteract this menace by persuading Raghuji’s great rival, Peshwa Baji Rao, to march into Bengal to oppose him there. Alivardi met the Peshwa in a conference at Plassey on 31 March 1743 and secured his alliance against Raghuji by agreeing to pay chauth for Bengal to Shahu and by presenting him with 22 lacs of rupees and some costly articles. By the end of May 1743 the allies forced Raghuji to leave Bengal with heavy losses, after which the Peshwa also returned to Poona.

The baffled Nagpur chief did not remain idle for long. Early in March 1744, he deputed his generals, Bhaskar Pant and Ali Bhai Qarawwal, [He was “one of the Maratha leaders who had embraced the Muhammadan faith and was surnamed Ali Bhai”. Ghulam Husain Salim, Riyazus Salatin (English Tr. A. S. B.), p. 347.] to invade Bengal. Realising that the exhaustion of his army and of his treasury would make an open encounter with the enemy risky, Alivardi now took recourse to finesse and stratagem to frustrate Maratha designs. Plying Bhaskar Pant with sweet messages and presents, the Nawab persuaded the Maratha general to meet him, without any military escort, at Mankarah on 31 March 1744, and had him assassinated. A large number of the leaderless Maratha soldiers were thereafter massacred by the Nawab’s Afghan troops while the rest took to their heels.

This perfidy naturally roused a desire for revenge in Raghuji’s mind. Next year the rebellion of Mustafa Khan, the foremost among Alivardi’s Afghan generals, afforded him a suitable opportunity to strike again. Raghuji, in fact, allied himself with the distressed followers of Mustafa Khan in Bihar after the latter had been slain by the Nawab’s troops near Jagdishpur on 20 June 1745. A number of engagements were fought between the Marathas and the Nawab’s army at different places in Bengal and Bihar, till finally Raghuji was defeated near Katwa in December 1745 and returned to Nagpur. But practically the whole of Orissa remained under the control of his deputy Mir Habib, and roving bands of Maratha soldiers were still scattered in different parts of Bengal.

Alivardi’s attempt to recover Orissa in 1746-47 failed, largely owing to the treachery of his generals Mir Jafar Khan and Ataullah Khan. Meanwhile Mir Habib had been reinforced by a large army under Janoji, son of Raghuji, which entered the districts of Burdwan and Murshidabad. But undaunted by these difficulties, Alivardi, though an old man of seventy-one, took the field against Janoji, defeated him near Burdwan and compelled him to flee to Midnapur, which remained the eastern limit of the territories under Maratha control during 1747.

The second Afghan insurrection in 1748, more serious than the first, the reappearance of the Marathas in different parts of west Bengal and their alliance with the Afghan insurgents in Bihar greatly embarrassed Alivardi. Some Maratha troops advanced up to Thana fort (near Matiaburuz, Calcutta), many reached the vicinity of Murshidabad and some tried to proceed towards east Bengal. The Dacca factors ["factor": a company agent in the service of the East India Company] informed the Council in Calcutta on 4 March 1748 of “the utmost confusion in that city on news of the Marathas coming by the way of Sunderbund". [Letter, to Court, 19 November 1748, para 80.] Many important centres of trade and manufacture were plundered and some goods of the English East India Company in charge of Ensign English were lost. The allied Maratha and Afghan armies were, however, completely defeated by the Nawab at Ranisarai (or Kala Diara) on the south bank of the Ganges 26 miles east of Patna on 16 April 1748. At this juncture Janoji heard of his mother's death and withdrew precipitately to Nagpur. Mir Habib, however, remained at Midnapur at the head of the major portion of the Maratha troops and continued to exercise control over Orissa.

In March 1749 Alivardi marched into Orissa and recovered it from the Marathas during the third week of May. He appointed a cavalry officer Abdus Subhan Khan as deputy governor and started back for Murshidabad. But within a week of his departure, the Marathas came out of their forest retreats and re-occupied Cuttack. The Nawab fell seriously ill as a result of the hardships of the distant campaigns. His illness continued till the middle of October 1749 and the Marathas were left free to plunder different parts of Orissa. They even threatened the English factory at Cuttack. Towards the end of the year a Maratha detachment reached the neighbourhood of Calcutta. On recovering from his illness Alivardi proceeded to Midnapur in December 1749 and forced the Marathas to retreat. But soon he had to come back to Bengal as “a body of several thousand Morattoes had passed him (early in March 1750) and plundered the country as far as Rajamaul.” Mir Habib, with 12,000 cavalry, advanced within four miles of Murshidabad and in a skirmish with Mir Jafar's troops “obliged them [Mir Jafar’s troops] to retreat nearer the city... the two armies were then encamped near each other and the Morattoes were daily sending out parties to burn and plunder all round them." [Letter to Court, 34 August 1750, para 164.] The raiders then retreated to Midnapur and the Nawab again went there determined to stay there for some time so that he might take effective steps to stop forever the Maratha incursions into Bengal. But an ill-advised attempt on the part of Sirajud Daulah in June 1750 to seize the government of Bihar by removing the Nawab’s agent Janki Ram compelled Alivardi to march to Bihar at once. Old and in poor health the Nawab got no rest or peace owing to the continuance of Maratha inroads during the remaining few months of the year 1750 and the beginning of 1751.

Sorely tried by the hard campaigns of about eight years both the parties considered it advisable to come to a settlement and signed a treaty in May or June 1751. According to its terms the Bengal Government was to pay to the Marathas twelve lacs of rupees a year as chauth of the Bengal Subah “on condition that the Marathas would never set their foot again" within its boundaries. The Marathas agreed not to march beyond the river Subarnarekha near Jalesar, which was fixed as the boundary of the Bengal Subah. Mir Habib was left as Deputy Governor of Orissa under Alivardi and as his employee. But Mir Habib’s days were numbered. Jealous of his elevation to a high position his enemies poisoned Janoji's mind against him. When Janoji came to Orissa in 1752 as his father’s deputy in charge of the Maratha infantry kept there for defence, Mir Habib was murdered by Janoji’s troops.

The repeated Maratha inroads produced some significant consequences. They not only embarrassed Alivardi’s government but also proved to be a terrible calamity to the province of Bengal with adverse effects on the economic life of its people in all respects. There was no opportunity for the country to repair the economic damage as it was soon confronted with other baffling problems.

While the Maratha inroads were a severe strain on Alivardi, he was faced with a grave internal danger. His Afghan soldiers, who had previously rendered him valuable services, rebelled against him for various reasons about five years after the commencement of his subahdarship. Their alliance with the Marathas added to the gravity of the situation. Their first insurrection in 1745 under the leadership of Mustafa Khan was suppressed after they had been defeated by Zainuddin Muhammad Khan, nephew of Alivardi and naib nazim of Bihar, near Jagdishpur (18 miles south-west of Arrah town, Bihar) on 20 June 1745. Soon after this, Mustafa Khan was slain by an officer of Zainuddin. Mustafa’s son and his followers fled to the village of Magror, 14 miles west of Chainpur on the bank of the river Karamnasa. On account of the intrigues of the Afghan rebels with the Maratha chief Raghuji Bhonsle, who had invaded Bihar in September 1745, the Nawab formally dismissed them all from his service, whereupon they returned to their respective habitations in Darbhanga.

The Afghan generals rose against the Nawab once more in 1748. This formidable insurrection indeed cost Alivardi much. The Insurgents killed his nephew Zainuddin, tortured his brother Haji Ahmad to death on 30 January and made the members of their families captive. They usurped Patna and held it for three months, subjecting the people to acute miseries.

The news of these heart-rending mishaps reached Alivardi on 30 January 1748. He soon recovered from the first shock and made a firm resolve to recover Patna from the hands of the Afghans. He started from his camp at Amaniganj near Murshidabad on 29 February 1748 and completely defeated the allied Afghans and Marathas at Ranisarai on 16 April. By the first week of May, he found himself completely relieved of the Afghan menace. [Letter to Court, 19 November 1748, paras 84-85.] The European traders in Bengal and Bihar too suffered some losses on account of the Afghan insurrections. In January 1748 the insurgents plundered the Dutch factory at Fatwa, near Patna, and Shamshir Khan, their leader, demanded “a general tax from the 3 European nations [the English, the French, the Dutch] of 40 or 50,000 Rupees.” [Ibid., para 81.]

On account of all these troubles the Bengal masnad did not prove to be a bed of roses for Alivardi. Still, by acting with tact and prudence he maintained an efficient administrative system, and exerted his authority in all quarters. The European traders in Bengal (the English, the French and the Dutch companies and the Danes, the Prussians, and the Portuguese) had to acknowledge it, and he did not tolerate any infringement of the laws. At the same time these traders were not unduly harassed. They had to make financial contributions to the Nawab only when the latter was called upon to meet extraordinary needs occasioned by the Maratha raids and the Afghan insurrections. Fully alive to the necessity of promoting the economic interest of his province, he encouraged in all possible ways the different classes of traders. All the European traders sought to conciliate him as best as they could, though they occasionally murmured or complained when impeded. In some of their despatches the Court of Directors emphasized that maintenance of friendship with the Nawab’s government would be a prudent course.

The firm attitude of Alivardi towards the Europeans and his constant vigil of their movements in southern India saved Bengal from being converted during his lifetime into one of the theatres of hostility among them. In July 1745 Alivardi issued a parwana enjoining upon the Europeans the observance of neutrality in his dominions from Point Palmyras. [Point Palmyras is a promontory and a small town on the coast of the Bay of Bengal to the south of Balasore.] This neutrality was once violated when towards the end of 1748 the French at Chandernagore forcibly took possession of the Dutch Company’s garden at Chinsura, situated in the centre of Fort Augustus. The Dutch and their allies, the English, protested, and the garden was restored to the Dutch in April 1749, after the close of the War of the Austrian Succession.


The Relations between the European Powers

Thereafter the European powers in India were apparently friendly to one another till the echo of the Seven Years' War reached this land and caused a recrudescence of hostilities. On 23 December 1754, Godeheu had signed a provisional treaty with Saunders, the validity of which depended on its final ratification by the respective home authorities.

The Second Carnatic War (1749-54) was a struggle for power between various Indian claimants to power in southern India, each supported by the French or the British. The First Carnatic War had been a direct conflict between the two European powers, but in the Second Carnatic War both of them officially acted in support of rival local claimants in Hyderabad and the Carnatic.

The war was triggered by a succession struggle in Hyderabad. Here the Nizam was officially the viceroy of the Mughal Emperor, but he was increasingly able to act as a semi-independent Nizam of Hyderabad. The incumbent, Nizam-al-Mulk, died in 1748, nominating his grandson Muzaffar Jang as his heir. This appointment was confirmed by the Emperor, but was contested by Nizam-al-Mulk's second son Nasir Jang. Nasir Jang was able to take possession of Hyderabad, while Muzaffar Jang travelled in search of allies. In the upcoming struggle the British supported Nasir Jang, while the French supported Muzaffar Jang.

Further south there were also two candidates for the Nawabship of the Carnatic, a subsidiary post officially dependent on the Nizam.

Anwar-ud-Din had only been appointed Nawab of the Carnatic in 1743, after Nizam-ul-Mulk had been forced to intervene to restore order in the province. Anwar-ud-Din was one of the Nizam's officers, and so the death of his protector left the Nawab vulnerable. Anwar-ud-Din would be killed early in the war, leaving his son Mohammed Ali to claim the Nawabship.

Chanda Sahib was the son-in-law of a previous Nawab of the Carnatic, Dost Ali (1732-39). He had been an effective ally to the French, before in 1741 being besieged in Trichinopoly by the Marathas. After a three month long siege he was captured and imprisoned, although his family remained safe in Pondicherry.

While travelling in search of allies Muzaffar Jang met the imprisoned Chanda Sahib. The French agreed to pay his ransom, and provided him with 2,000 Sepoys and 400 European soldiers. Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib then advanced towards Arcot, the capitol of the Carnatic. Anwar-ud-Din met them at Ambur (3 August 1748), southwest of Arcot, where he was defeated and killed. Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib entered Arcot, and Chanda Sahib became the de facto Nawab of the Carnatic. The allies then moved to Pondicherry, before wasting a significant amount of time besieging Tanjore. This siege lasted into December 1750, but had to be lifted when Nasir Jang appeared on the scene at the head of a large army.

By the end of March 1751 the two main armies were facing each other near Gingee. Nasir Jang had his own forces, as well as 600 European troops provided by the British East India Company and a larger force under Mohammad Ali. He was facing the combined armies of Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib, with a French contingent.

The two armies faced each other for the next two weeks. During this period the French position appeared to collapse. The French troops mutinied, weakening the entire army. Muzaffar Jang was so worried about the situation that he surrendered to Nasir Jang. Dupleix restored his position with a dramatic night attack on Nasir Jang's camp (12 April). This was so successful that Nasir Jang retreated back to Arcot. With their main ally gone, the British retreated to Fort St. David, leaving Mohammed Ali isolated.

The French decided to take advantage of their enemy's setbacks by occupying a strong position at Tiruvadi, dangerously close to Fort St. David. Both Nasir Jang and the British reinforced Mohammad Ali, who then launched an attack on the French position. This ended in defeat (first battle of Tiruvadi, 30 July 1750). In the aftermath of this defeat the British argued with Mohammad Ali and returned to Fort St. David, leaving him dangerously exposed to attack. The French took advantage of this, and on 1 September inflicted a second defeat on him (second battle of Tiruvadi). Mohammad Ali's army retreated to the strong fortress of Gingee, where it suffered yet another defeat (battle of Gingee, 11 September 1750).

In the aftermath of this disaster, Nasir Jang decided to advance from Arcot, but no battle resulted. Instead the two armies settled down into a two-month long deadlock close to Gingee. Nasir Jang soon entered into negotiations with Dupleix, but on 16 December he was killed by some of his own supporters. Muzaffar Jang, who had been with Nasir Jang's army, was acclaimed as Nizam. The French supported candidates were now in power in Hyderabad and the Carnatic.

In mid December 1750 Muzaffar Jang was officially proclaimed as Viceroy of the Deccan, in a lavish ceremony held in a splendid tent in the central square of Pondicherry. Dupleix sat alongside the new Nizam, and was seen to share in his power. Dupleix was appointed Nawab of the area south of the River Krishna, down to Cape Comorin, while Chandra Sahib was recognised as Nawab of the Carnatic. The French was also granted new possessions close to Pondicherry, and a vast amount of money.

The only remaining obstacle to French dominance in southern India was Mohammad Ali, who had taken shelter at Trichinopoly. Early in 1751 negotiations began between Mohammad Ali and Dupleix, and it looked to only be a matter of time before the issue was resolved. When Muzaffar Jang asked for French soldiers to accompany him on his return to Hyderabad, Dupleix was thus happy to agree, sending Bussy with 300 Europeans and 2,000 Sepoys. The journey north ended disastrously for Muzaffar Jang, who was killed in a clash with the same people who had earlier betrayed Nasir Jang. Bussy retrieved the situation, and Muzaffar Jang's uncle Salabat Jang was appointed as the next Nizam. The new Nizam and his French allies reached his capital of Aurangabad on 29 June 1751, and with Bussy's aid Salabat Jang became firmly established.

Dupleix had misjudged Muhammad Ali. He now made it clear that he would not surrender Trichinopoly, and began to openly cooperate with the British. At first this appeared to be only a minor nuisance. The British and Mohammed Ali were defeated at Volkondah (19-20 July 1751) and forced to retreat into Trichinopoly, where they were besieged by the French and their allies. Most British troops in southern India were now trapped, although Robert Clive, who had been at Volkondah, returned to Fort St. David. If Trichinopoly fell, the French would have been triumphant in Southern India, and the British restricted to their tiny footholds on the coast.

The British position was partly restored by Robert Clive's first major success. After getting a convoy into Trichinopoly he returned to Fort St. David, where he suggested a dramatic way to distract Chanda Sahib. He believed that Chanda Sahib's capital of Arcot would be weakly defended and could be captured with the limited forces available on the coast. The plan was approved, and Clive was given 500 men. With this tiny force he captured Arcot, and then successfully defended it against a counterattack led by Chanda Sahib's son Raju Sahib (siege of Arcot, September-November 1751). This success restored British prestige in southern India, badly damaged over the previous years, and began to erode support for Dupleix.

After the siege Clive pursued Raju Sahib, inflicting a defeat on him at Arni (3 December 1751). He then captured Conjeveram (16-18 December 1751), before returning to Fort St. David.

Conjeveram was soon retaken by Raju Sahib, who then threatened Madras. Clive was forced to abandon his preparations to lift the siege of Trichinopoly, and instead moved to Conjeveram. This time no siege was required, for Raju Sahib had already moved towards Arcot. Clive followed, but in his eagerness to prevent the fall of Arcot fell into an ambush. The resulting battle of Kaveripak (28 February 1752) was a hard fought battle that ended as a British victory. Clive was then recalled to continue with the relief of Trichinopoly, although command of the army passed to Stringer Lawrence, who had returned after a visit to England.

In late March the British relief force successfully entered Trichinopoly, eluded a series of French attempts to intercept them. Law, the French commander at Trichinopoly, effectively abandoned the siege and retreated onto the island of Srirangam. The tables were now turned, and the French were besieged on Srirangam (April-13 June 1752). A French relief force surrendered at Volconda, and on 13 June Law surrendered. Chanda Sahib surrendered on terms, but was then murdered by order of the commander of the Tanjore force, and his head sent to Mohammad Ali, who for a brief spell was the uncontested Nabob of the Carnatic.

After their success at Trichinopoly, the British moved north into the Carnatic, but they were soon forced to return after Mohammad Ali fell out with his Maratha and Mysorean allies. The British left a stronger garrison in the city. Their campaign in the Carnatic was thus hampered by the reduced size of their army, although Tiruvadi was captured on 17 July. Stringer was then forced back to Fort St. David by illness, as was Clive, leaving the less able Swiss officer Gingen in command. The British then weakened their own position by attempting to capture Gingee (6 August 1752), but this attack ended in failure and a costly defeat.

Dupleix took advantage of the arguments between Mohammad Ali and his allies. The Mysoreans and Marathas agreed to change sides, although only if the main British army could be distracted. Dupleix responded by sending a force towards Fort St. David. The British gathered a similar sized army at Madras, and moved to block the French, They withdrew towards Pondicherry. Once they were on French territory, Dupleix's men were safe, for the British were under orders not to cross the border. The British then retreated in apparent disorder, and the French followed. The British then turned back and attacked the French, winning a significant victory over them at Bahur (6 September 1752).

The British made the next move. Mohammad Ali asked them to capture the French-held fortresses of Covelong and Chingleput, around thirty miles to the south of Madras. Governor Saunders agreed, but had limited resources available. Clive volunteered to take command of this army, and successfully captured Covelong in September and Chinglapet in October. After these successes Clive's poor health forced him to return to England to recuperate, leaving Lawrence as the key British commander in the last years of the war.

The last two years of the war were dominated by a renewed French siege of Trichinopoly, and by a series of battles fought close to the town. Dupleix spent the last months of 1752 trying to detach Britain's Maratha and Mysore allies, and by the end of the year he had succeeded. The British at Trichinopoly found themselves blockaded by their former Mysorean allies on Srirangam, and by the Maratha cavalry elsewhere. For much of the next two years the British appeared to be on the back foot, often short of supplies and penned in around Trichinopoly, although they normally had a field army in the area (commanded by Stringer Lawrence), and the blockade was often broken. Three significant battles were fought outside the besieged city during the year. The first battle of Trichinopoly, or battle of the Golden Rock (7 July 1753) saw the French fail to take Lawrence's main stronghold outside the city, the Golden Rock. The second battle of Trichinopoly (18 August 1753) saw Lawrence successfully return to the city with reinforcements and supplies. The third battle of Trichinopoly or battle of Sugar Load Rock (2 October 1753) saw Lawrence attack the French camp, capturing the French commander M. Astruc. Despite these British successes the siege dragged on. A French assault on the city on 9 December nearly succeeded, and supplies began to run very short during the spring of 1754. In May the British won another victory, allowing another convoy to reach the city. The danger finally ended when Lawrence returned with a sizable army in August, and pushed the French back to Srirangam. In the same month Dupleix was recalled to France, where his failures at Trichinopoly had fatally undermined his position.

Dupleix was replaced by M. Godeheu, who had orders from Paris to negotiate an end to the fighting. Governor Saunders had received similar orders from London, and in late October 1754 the two men agreed to a suspension of arms. In January 1755 a conditional peace treaty was agreed, officially ending the Second Carnatic War (although it is generally considered to have ended in 1754, when the fighting stopped).

Although the war ended with a series of French setbacks, they had actually gained the most from the fighting. Their candidate held the post of Nizam of Hyderabad, and they had been rewarded with most of the Northern Circars (now the coast of Andra Pradesh, to the north-east of the Carnatic). They had also gained a significant amount of territory around Pondicherry. The British had also gained some land around Madras, but the French appeared to be the big winners.

-- The Emergence of British Power in India 1600-1784 - A Grand Strategic Interpretation, by G.J. Bryant.


But the interests of the English and the French in different quarters were then too much in conflict to admit of a cordial settlement. As a matter of fact, a war between the two powers was imminent and its formal declaration was only a question of time. The Court of Directors communicated due notes of warning and advice to the Council in Calcutta and asked them to be well on their guard. [Letters from Court, 31 January and 14 February 1755.] Some positive instructions in this respect were communicated by the Court of Directors to the Council in Calcutta in paras 7-10 of their letter dated 26, March 1755. They emphasized therein the need of mutual harmony and assistance among the three Presidencies. Apprehending that the French might exploit the confused state of affairs at Delhi, after the overthrow of Emperor Ahmad Shah in June 1754, to further their own interests at the cost of those of the English, the Court of Directors asked the Council in Calcutta in their letter dated 16 April 1755 to do the needful for the security of their “trade rights and privileges” against what they described as the “artful designs” of the French. After war had been formally declared on 18 May 1756 the Court despatched information about its course to the Bengal and Madras Councils. They asked the Bengal Council to use all “care and prudence for the future safety of our valuable settlements in Bengal” and even recommended that they should do all in their power “to engage the Nabob [Sirajud Daulah] to give you his protection as the only and most effectual measure for the security of settlement and property". [Letter from Court, 29 December 1756, paras 3, 4 and 25.] The repercussions of the Seven Years’ War on Indian politics were profound. They included two of the decisive battles of Indian history, Plassey and Wandiwash, fought in the course of it. The British capture of Chandernagore in March 1757, followed by the expulsion of the French from Bengal, deprived Sirajud Daulah of the almost certain alliance of the French against the English and thus improved the latter’s position on the eve of the crucial battle of Plassey. As for the battle of Wandiwash, it undoubtedly dealt the severest blow to French political ambitions in India.

Bengal was kept immune from the political effects of the southern wars by Alivardi. But their economic influence could not be wholly averted. The province was very often required to send assistance in the shape of provisions and funds to the south for the successful prosecution of the Company’s military activities. In fact, the needs of the Company’s southern wars were responsible for the origin about this time of one of the forms of economic drain on the resources of Bengal, which developed so much in subsequent years. In December 1748 Alexander Murray, agent for the squadron under Admiral Boscawen's command, requested the Council in Calcutta for two lacs and thirty thousand rupees for His Majesty's service. Taking into consideration their other expenses the Council advanced him only fifty thousand five hundred rupees. The “demands" on the Bengal Presidency "running so high" the Council in Calcutta directed the members of the subordinate factories in Bengal to "desist from drawing any bills of exchange" on them as they "had not money in the treasury to answer them" and also "to be as sparing as possible in their expenses in every respect particularly buildings and repairs”. [Letter to Court, 22 December 1748. paras 9-11.] In February 1749 Captain Thomas Field and Captain John Macnamara, commanders of the Company's ships the Royal George and the Rhoda, were supplied with 3,000 bags of rice each for the use of the garrison of Fort St. David. [Letter to Court, 11 February 1749, para 2.] Fort St. George and Fort St. David also secured supply of gunpowder and soldiers from Bengal. [Letter to Court, 16 January 1752, paras 5-8.] The protracted wars in the south could not but produce adverse effects on the economic condition of Peninsular India as also to some extent on that of other parts. The troubles on the south-eastern coast had "greatly detrimented if not entirely ruined the markets there” so that some goods sent there from Bengal had remained unsold for three or four years. [Letter to Court, 3 September 1753, para 87.] The owners of these goods incurred a loss of forty or fifty per cent. So the Council in Calcutta permitted the Bengal ships to touch at ports other than Fort St. George or Fort St. David, where the scarcity of boats was an additional inconvenience. In June 1755 the Council at Fort St. George complained that the practice was against a standing order of the Company issued in 1734 and that it badly affected the Company's customs. The Council in Calcutta had already requested the Court of Directors not to enforce that standing order “till the times by a more favourable turn admit” of their "complying with the tenour thereof". [Ibid.] They again requested the Court in 1755 to "take this affair once more Into serious consideration” and "to reverse the orders” they had passed prohibiting this practice. [Letter to Court, 8 December 1755, paras 100-04.]

Mutual Intercourse and co-operation among all the Presidencies in all spheres was very much needed, and frequently stressed. In fact, assistance rendered by one Presidency to another in critical moments had much to do in turning the scale in favour of the English. There are copious references in contemporary records to the frequent despatch of reinforcements in men, money and provisions from Bengal to the other Presidencies during the wars in Peninsular India.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:45 am

Part 2 of 4

European Fortifications and the Nawabs of Bengal

The European trading companies (the English, the French and the Dutch) began the construction of 'fortified' settlements in Bengal during the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, chiefly as a measure of security against possible political disorders in the country. The English also believed that such a "show of power” was "the best way to keep the English in India free from the Natives’ Insults and will most effectually keep off Piscashes [presents] the Consequence of most quarrells”. [Extract from General Letter from the Court to Bengal, 4 Febtuaty,1709. C. R. Wilson, Old Fort William in Bengal, I, p. 76.]

There were two matters which troubled the Court. One was the difficulty which so often occurred with the native ruler, who governed the country round Madras in the name of the King of Golconda. He was called the Nawab and was a most rapacious individual, always looking for presents, (or piscashes) for himself, which were nothing more than bribes. At the same time he demanded increased rent and customs for his sovereign. When his demands were refused, he seized upon the supplies of food and merchandise going into the Fort, half starving the Company's servants with a kind of blockade, and paralyzing trade. The old account books of Fort St. George are studded with items of piscashes given to grasping natives, who were too strong to be resisted. The Directors grudged the expenditure over bribes even more than over fortifications. But it was impossible for the President to assure an independent front with no army at his back. There were actually at that time not enough men to man the guns on the walls; and, much against the grain, conciliatory measured had to be used, when the President would fain have tried the effect of powder and shot.

-- Fort St. George, Madras: A Short History of Our First Possession in India, by Fanny Emily Penny


As a precaution against the repercussions of the political troubles during the Persian incursion of 1738-39, the Maratha incursions into Bengal from 1742 onwards, and the wars in the Deccan, the Court of Directors and the Council in Calcutta thought it highly necessary to strengthen their fortifications in Bengal. In June 1748 the Court sent instructions to the Council in Calcutta "an Order to put the Company’s Possessions and Estate in Bengal in as perfect a State of Security” as possible. They expressed their desire to "have such necessary Works set about in the most Expeditious and Frugal manner that can be conveniently done’’ [C.R. Wilson, Old Fort William in Bengal, p. 206.] and particularly instructed the Council in Calcutta to make all possible efforts to convince the Nawab that these additional fortifications in Calcutta were "calculated only for Self-Defence” and "Security against European Enemys”. [Ibid I, p. 207.] In case the Nawab objected to the construction of the new fortifications, the Council in Calcutta were to let him know that they were acting under the orders of the Court of Directors, that they would stop issuing “any Money for Trade” to the prejudice of his revenues and the trade of the province in general, and that the King of England "having the Protection of the Company greatly at heart, as they may perceive by the Strong Force he hath sent to the East Indies, to chastise the French for their Insolence at Madrass, His Majesty will support the Company in whatever they think fit to do for their further Security.” [C.R. Wilson. op. cit., I, p. 208. "The Strong Force” refers to the expedition under Rear-Admiral Boscawen, who reached Fort St. David on 29 June 1748. Orme, The History of Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan, I pp. 98-100.] It was also suggested that if after all precautions were taken the Nawab still attempted to “Attack or Disturb” the construction then the English would immediately “stop all Navigation upon the River” to the utmost of their “Power in every Branch, Suffering no Vessel or Boat to stir whether Laden or Empty, except such as belong to European Settlements who have a right to give Dusticks [dostaks] or Passes for the River”. [Ibid I, p. 210.]

The Court of Directors were sanguine that on the adoption of these measures the Nawab would “soon come to reason”. But in this they had made an incorrect estimate of Alivardi’s character. As has already been noted, during the Anglo-French conflicts in southern India, Alivardi closely watched the movements of the Europeans so that they might not interfere in the field of politics in Bengal as they had done in the Deccan. Thus, on hearing that the French and the English had begun adding to their fortifications in Chandernagore and Calcutta respectively, he immediately asked them to discontinue these works. He often said to the French and the English vakils, “You are merchants, what need have you of a fortress?” [S.C. Hill, Bengal in 1756-57, III, p. 161.]

Such a view was not acceptable to the English, but practically nothing was done for the time being about fortifications or buildings in Calcutta because the Court of Directors had ordered the Council in Calcutta to form suitable plans for fortifications in consultation with Major Mosman.
[He was appointed Major of the Garrison of Fort William on 25 F.] Mosman reached Calcutta in March 1749, but died of fever on 30 April. In December 1749 the Court of Directors deputed Benjamin Robins as their Engineer-General in India, furnishing him with necessary instructions about the fortifications in Calcutta. Robins reached Calcutta on 11 March 1751, and on the 21st asked the Council to supply him with the materials required for the works with which he had been entrusted. The Council were trying to meet his requirements when he died at Fort St. David on 29 July 1751. In December 1752 the Court of Directors appointed Caroline Frederick Scott their Engineer-General in the East. Though he was to look after all the principal English settlements in the East, the “primary object” of the Court of Directors in appointing him Engineer-General was to arrange for the effective defence and security of Fort William. They ordered on 24 January 1753 that the President of Fort William, the Chief of the English factory at Kasimbazar and Colonel Scott should form a Committee to adopt proper measures for securing permission of the Nawab's government in this respect. To make persuasion more effective, they empowered the Committee to offer presents to the persons in authority in the Nawab’s Court to the maximum of about one hundred thousand current rupees.

Colonel Scott reached Calcutta in September 1753. He drew up a comprehensive plan of fortifications to be implemented over a period of several years, as well as a short-term plan for immediate defence. The Council in Calcutta approved of the latter; so did the Court of Directors, who ordered its execution as soon as possible. The chief features of Scott’s second plan were the completion of the Maratha Ditch, erection of two large redoubts at Perrin’s and Surman’s gardens, that is, the northern and the southern extremities of the British settlement, and the building of stronger defences on the river front of the Fort.

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A redoubt (historically redout) is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, although some are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat". Redoubts were a component of the military strategies of most European empires during the colonial era... A redoubt differs from a redan in that the redan is open in the rear, whereas the redoubt was considered an enclosed work...

From 1715 onwards, the Order of Saint John built a number of redoubts in Malta, as part of an effort to improve the coastal fortifications of the islands. They were built in the middle of bays to prevent enemy forces from disembarking and outflanking the coastal batteries.

The design of the redoubts was influenced by ones built in the French colonies. In all, eleven pentagonal redoubts and a few semi-circular or rectangular ones were built....

Four tour-reduits were also built. These were redoubts built in the form of a tower, with rows of musketry loopholes.

-- Redoubt, by Wikipedia


But Scott had to leave Bengal for Madras in response to a request of Saunders and his Council on 18 March 1754, and died there on 12 May. According to the directions left by him, Lieutenant Wells was engaged to carry on his work in Bengal. But Wells died on 18 August 1755, whereupon Bartholomew’ Plaisted was entrusted with the work jointly with O’Hara, an assistant engineer. Haisted was soon dismissed from the Company’s service and O’Hara and Simpson, a subaltern in the army, were employed as engineers. Under their supervision the redoubt at Perrin’s garden was completed and something was done to repair the line of guns on the river front of the Fort, though the fortifications were not made sufficiently strong.

The Court of Directors reiterated in one of their letters to Bengal, dated 29 November 1754, their instructions about securing the permission of the Nawab’s government to fortify Fort William without any obstructions or impediment.” They again suggested the offer of pecuniary inducements to the Nawab or other suitable persons to the maximum of one hundred thousand rupees, and hoped that their efforts would be "attended with success” because of the advanced age of the Nawab and the depleted condition of his exchequer. The Council in Calcutta communicated the suggestions of the Court of Directors to William Watts, Chief at Kasimbazar, in their letter dated 6 August 1755, and asked him for his opinion, which he duly forwarded.

There are some striking points in the Calcutta-Kasimbazar correspondence. We notice therein a strong inclination on the part of the Chief at Kasimbazar and the Council in Calcutta to ignore the instructions of the Court of Directors. They claimed that they had a right to strengthen the fortifications of Calcutta on the strength of an imperial farman [Firmaun, Phirmaund: Order, mandate; an imperial decree, a royal grant, or charter] and that the permission of the Nawab’s government was therefore unnecessary. There is also a clear reference in Watts’ letter to the '“golden” means of bribing a high officer of the Nawab’s government to prevent any possible obstruction to their work. It further says that the Nawab had never “taken the least notice of the ditch cut round Calcutta” or “any other works since carried on there.” But as has been already pointed out, the Nawab was not indifferent to the building of fortifications in Calcutta. He had tolerated the construction of the Maratha ditch and the fortifications at Kasimbazar because of the repeated Maratha inroads into his province. He would not acquiesce in any violations of his authority after the Maratha menace had passed away.

Watts’ contention that the Company had a right to strengthen the fortifications in Calcutta on the basis of an imperial farman [Firmaun, Phirmaund: Order, mandate; an imperial decree, a royal grant, or charter], evidently that granted by Farrukhsiyar in 1716-17, is not supported by the said farman. The fortification of Calcutta after Shova Singh’s rebellion (1696-97) had been carried out with the permission of the then Nawab of Bengal. But the troubles of Alivardi in 1755-56, of which it was quite possible for Watts to be cognisant from the proximity of his residence to Murshidabad, encouraged Watts, and at his suggestion the Council in Calcutta, to express and maintain a point of view which undoubtedly amounted to a defiance of the Nawab’s authority. It is unintelligible why Mr. Holwell regrets, in his letter to Court dated 30 November 1756, that “the favourable moment,” when "everything was in confusion and both parties [Sirajud Daulah and his rivals] were employed on their own schemes and designs”, had not been suitably utilised by the English in Calcutta for the building of fortifications. In fact, during Alivardi’s illness both the French and the English began, without any concealment, to repair and strengthen their fortifications. [S. C. Hill, Bengal in 1756-57, I, xivi.] The Bengal Council wrote to the Court of Directors on 21 February 1756 “of the redoubt at Perrins being nigh completed."


The dying Nawab could not naturally take proper notice of these and Sirajud Daulah must have been occupied in checkmating the ambitious designs of his kinsmen on the subahdarship of Bengal. On receiving information from the Court of Directors of the possibility of the renewal of Anglo-French hostilities, the English in Calcutta “began to put the settlement", as Holwell writes, “into as good a posture of defence as we could" [Holwell’s Letter to Court, 30 November 1756, para 9.] in May 1756.

Military Establishments and Appointments

To meet the exigencies of war or other political troubles the English not only strengthened their defences but also improved their military establishments in India in certain ways. Determined to make the artillery of the three Presidencies much more efficient than before, the Court of Directors issued a circular letter on 17 June 1748, ordering, the formation of a company of artillery in each Presidency on the model of that in the royal service. The offices of the Gunner and of all attached to the Gun-room were abolished. A military store-keeper was appointed to be in charge of the stores which had been so long looked after by the Gunner. A new military establishment was also started at the same time in Calcutta and regulations were framed for the administration of both. On 25 February 1748 James Mosman was appointed Major of the garrison at Fort William in Bengal by the Court on the same terms as Major Lawrence at Fort St. David. The Council in Calcutta informed the Court of Directors on 24 February 1749 that the army in Calcutta would be regulated according to their directions on the arrival of Major Mosman. On coming to Calcutta in March 1749 Mosman took his seat as the third of the Council in Calcutta according to the orders of the Court of Directors, and inspected the Gun-room crew, who were dismissed on 15 March because of the formation of the company of artillery. Mr. Roger Drake took charge of the office of the Military Store-Keeper on 20 March and on the same day the Council in Calcutta directed the commanding officers at Kasimbazar and Dacca to send to the Major a statement of the names of the military officers and a list of ordnance at their respective stations.

In 1751 the ‘regular military establishment’ of the English Company in Calcutta probably consisted of five companies of infantry and one company of artillery. As a precaution against apprehended Maratha onslaughts on Calcutta, the Council had formed on 24 April 1742 a regular militia of the local European, Armenian and Portuguese inhabitants and the Court of Directors had duly approved of these measures.
On 16 January 1752 the Court sent orders for the training of the militia and ordered their formation into two companies. A body of militia was soon, formed in Calcutta with Col. Cruttenden as Commander. [Letter to Court, 1 January 1753, para 14.] Some inhabitants of Calcutta having absented themselves from the militia, the Council in Calcutta decided on 27 November that a list of their names should be affixed at the Fort gates and a notice given that for “non-attendance in future they may expect to meet with proper resentment’’. [ Long, Selections from Unpublished Records of Government I, p. 39.] In 1753 the militia mustered 200 men. Evidently the militia had not been formed according to the instructions sent to the Council in Calcutta by the Court of Directors in their letter dated 16 January 1752, and the latter asked the former on 11 February 1756 to establish a regular militia “for the better defence of the settlement." In his letter to the Court of 30 November 1756, Holwell complained strongly of the inefficiency of the Company’s militia in Calcutta at the time of its capture by Sirajud Daulah.

Military officers with superior commissions were sometimes sent by the Court of Directors from England to India. But the subaltern officers in Bengal soon remonstrated against this practice of sending out annually from Europe gentlemen with military commissions superior to their own; and in February 1755, the Council in Calcutta forwarded their remonstrances to the Court for their favourable consideration. [Letter to Court, 3 February 1755, para 16.] The Court observed in their letter of 11 February 1756 that in view of the complaints of the military officers in the Company’s service regarding their supersession they would not send out anyone that season above the rank of ensign unless circumstances created a real necessity.

Anxious for the safety of the Company’s settlements in India in case of a renewal of conflicts with the French and also as a measure of precaution against any injury to their interests by country powers, the Court of Directors not only sent occasional reinforcements for the Company’s army in the different settlements but also advised the respective Councils to tap useful sources of recruitment in India. The district of Shahabad in Bihar was one such important area of recruitment. The Rajputs settled there were recruited for police and militia duties both by the Nawab’s government in Bengal and the English East India Company and they are referred to in contemporary records as Buxuries (Baksaris).

In 1754 Colonel Scott suggested the recruitment of Rajputs of Bihar. [Letter from Court, 29 November 1754, para 55.] The Court of Directors recommended its careful consideration by the Council in Calcutta and the Bihari Rajputs began to contribute from this time not an inconsiderable quota to the ranks of the East India Company’s Indian troops.


The Squadron of Admiral Watson

Not long after the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the English and the French in India entered into another period of conflict as allies of the rival candidates for succession to the governments of the Deccan and the Carnatic.

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Celebration of the Peace, by Jacques Dumont

The 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, sometimes called the Treaty of Aachen, ended the War of the Austrian Succession, following a congress assembled on 24 April 1748 at the Free Imperial City of Aachen.

The 1740 to 1748 War of the Austrian Succession (German: Österreichischer Erbfolgekrieg) was the last Great Power conflict with the Bourbon-Habsburg dynastic conflict at its heart, and marked the rise of Prussia as a major power. Related conflicts include King George's War, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the First Carnatic War, as well as the First and Second Silesian Wars.

While the pretext was Maria Theresa's right to inherit from her father Emperor Charles VI, in reality France, Prussia and Bavaria saw an opportunity to challenge Habsburg power. Maria Theresa was backed by Britain, the Dutch Republic, and Hanover, collectively known as the Pragmatic Allies. As the conflict widened, it drew in other participants, among them Spain, Sardinia, Saxony, Sweden and Russia.

There were four primary theatres of the war: Central Europe, the Austrian Netherlands, Italy, and on the seas. Prussia occupied Silesia in 1740, then repulsed Austrian efforts to regain it, while between 1745 and 1748, France conquered most of the Austrian Netherlands. Elsewhere, Austria and Sardinia defeated Spanish attempts to regain territories in Northern Italy, while by 1747, the British naval blockade was crippling French trade.

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) reflected this stalemate; the commercial issues that led to the war were left largely unresolved and many of the signatories were unhappy with the terms. Despite nearly bankrupting the state, Louis XV of France withdrew from the Low Countries for minimal benefit, to the dismay of the French nobility and populace. The Spanish considered their gains in Italy inadequate, had failed to recover Menorca or Gibraltar, and viewed the reassertion of British commercial rights in the Americas as an insult.

Although Maria Theresa was acknowledged as her father's heir, she did not consider this a concession and deeply resented Britain's role in forcing her to cede Silesia to Prussia. For British statesmen, the war demonstrated the vulnerability of George II's German possession of Hanover to Prussia, while many politicians considered they had received little benefit from the enormous subsidies paid to Austria.

The result was the realignment known as the Diplomatic Revolution, in which Austria aligned itself with France, marking the end of their centuries-old enmity, and Prussia became an ally of Britain. These new alliances would fight the 1756 to 1763 Seven Years' War.

-- War of the Austrian Succession, by Wikipedia


The two main protagonists in the war, Britain and France, opened peace talks in the Dutch city of Breda in 1746. Agreement was delayed by British hopes of improving their position; when this failed to occur, a draft treaty was agreed on 30 April 1748. A final version was signed on 18 October 1748 by Britain, France, and the Dutch Republic.

The terms were then presented to the other belligerents, who could either accept them, or continue the war on their own. Austria, Spain and Sardinia had little choice but to comply, and signed separately. The Duchy of Modena, and Republic of Genoa joined together on 21 January 1749.

The treaty largely failed to resolve the issues that caused the war, while most of the signatories were unhappy with the terms. Maria Theresa resented Austria's exclusion from the talks, and blamed Britain for forcing her to accept concessions, while British politicians felt they had received little benefit for the financial subsidies paid to her. The combination of factors led to the strategic realignment known as the Diplomatic Revolution, and the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756.

-- Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), by Wikipedia


The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) was a global conflict, "a struggle for global primacy between Britain and France," which also had a major impact on the Spanish Empire. In Europe, the conflict arose from issues left unresolved by the War of the Austrian Succession, with Prussia seeking greater dominance. Long standing colonial rivalries between Britain against France and Spain in North America and the Caribbean islands valuable for sugar were fought on a grand scale with consequential results. In Europe, the war broke out over territorial disputes between Prussia and Austria, which wanted to regain Silesia after it was captured by the former in the previous war. Britain, France, and Spain fought both in Europe and overseas with land-based armies and naval forces, while Prussia sought territorial expansion in Europe and consolidation of its power.

In a realignment of traditional alliances, known as the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756, Prussia became part of a coalition led by Britain, which also included long-time Prussian competitor Hanover. At the same time, Austria ended centuries of conflict by allying with France, along with Saxony, Sweden, and Russia. Spain aligned formally with France in 1762. Spain unsuccessfully attempted to invade Britain's ally Portugal, attacking with their forces facing British troops in Iberia. Smaller German states either joined the Seven Years' War or supplied mercenaries to the parties involved in the conflict.

Anglo-French conflict over their colonies in North America had begun in 1754 in what became known in North America as the French and Indian War, a nine-years war that ended France's presence as a land power. It was "the most important event to occur in eighteenth-century North America". Spain entered the war in 1761, joining France in the Third Family Compact between the two Bourbon monarchies. The alliance with France was a disaster for Spain, with the loss to Britain of two major ports, Havana in the Caribbean and Manila in the Philippines, returned in the 1763 Treaty of Paris between France, Spain and Great Britain. In Europe the large-scale conflict that drew in most of the European powers was centered on Austria's desire to recover Silesia from Prussia. The Treaty of Hubertusburg ended the war between Saxony, Austria and Prussia, in 1763. Britain began its rise as the world's predominant colonial and naval power. For a time France's supremacy in Europe was halted until after the French Revolution and the emergence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prussia confirmed its status as a great power, challenging Austria for dominance within the German states, thus altering the European balance of power...

In India, the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in Europe renewed the long running conflict between the French and the British trading companies for influence on the subcontinent. The French allied themselves with the Mughal Empire to resist British expansion. The war began in Southern India but spread into Bengal, where British forces under Robert Clive recaptured Calcutta from the Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah, a French ally, and ousted him from his throne at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. In the same year, the British also captured Chandernagar, the French settlement in Bengal.

In the south, although the French captured Cuddalore, their siege of Madras failed, while the British commander Sir Eyre Coote decisively defeated the Comte de Lally at the Battle of Wandiwash in 1760 and overran the French territory of the Northern Circars. The French capital in India, Pondicherry, fell to the British in 1761; together with the fall of the lesser French settlements of Karikal and Mahé this effectively eliminated French power in India.


-- Seven Years' War, by Wikipedia


A contemporary, Edward Ives, tells us that “the French had a far superior number of European troops, and had been so artful as to form connections with the most powerful princes of the country; with these advantages they made so considerable a progress, as greatly to alarm the whole of the English settlements and to fill them with apprehensions, lest the day might come, when Mons. Dupleix’s ambition might be gratified in its utmost extent’’. [Edward Ives, A Voyage from England to India, p. 2.] Even after Dupleix's recall, the prospect of the success of the negotiations between the English and the French East India Companies for a convention with a view to “restoring union between them and putting an end to the troubles on the coast of Choromandel [Coromandel]’’ [Letter from Court, 2 Match 1754, para 17.] was uncertain. As a matter of fact, the English apprehended a quick recrudescence of hostilities with the French. The settlements of the English East India Company in India, therefore, “sent repeated accounts of their disagreeable situation" to the Court of Directors in England, who in their turn petitioned His Majesty’s Government for military help to safeguard the Company’s interests in India. [Ives, op. cit. p. 2.]

In response to this appeal, His Majesty was “most graciously pleased to order a squadron of his ships with a body of land forces on board to proceed to the East Indies’’. [Letter from Court, 2 Match 1754, para 2.] The squadron, commanded by Charles Watson, Rear Admiral of the Blue, was composed as follows:


Ships / Commanders / Guns

Kent / Henry Speke / 64 [70 according to Ives.]
Eagle / George Pocock / 60
Salisbury / Thomas Knowle / 50
Bristol / Thomas Latham / 50
Bridgwater / William Martin / 24
Sloop Kingfisher / Best Mighel / 16


The land forces, placed under the command of Colonel John Adlercron, comprised “815 men, officers included” of his regiment of infantry and a detachment of 78 men from the Royal Train of Artillery, the latter being under the command of Lieutenant William Hislop. [Letter from Court, 2 March 1754, para 3.]

Although the destination of the squadron and the land forces was Coromandel Coast, yet considering that there might be occasions for their presence at other settlements of the English, the Court issued suitable instructions for their reception. They instructed the Council in Calcutta on 2 March 1754 to behave properly towards all belonging to His Majesty’s squadron and the land forces and to give them “all necessary help and assistance” in the matter of money, stores, provisions and accommodation. [Ibid., paras 5-12.]

Swiss Companies and Captain Polier

During the wars in Peninsular India the Court of Directors had sent to India four companies of Swiss troops, each composed of 100 men. Their services were utilised particularly against the French. Orme refers to the arrival at Madras in 1752 of two Swiss companies commanded by Swiss captains. [Orme, A History of the Military Transactions of the British in Indostan I, p. 255.] When the French had reached the proximity of Fort St. David in 1752, a company of the Swiss under Captain Schaub was sent on boats from Madras to intercept them. But they were captured by some Frenchmen sent by Dupleix on a vessel from Pondicherry and were detained there as prisoners of war. Immediately on hearing this news, Major Lawrence embarked for Fort St. David with another party of Swiss troops under Captain Gaupp. [Lawrence, A Narrative of the War on the Coromandel Coast, p. 34.]

Captain Paul Philip Polier was the commander of one such company. The services of his company were for some time transferred from Madras to Bengal, most probably in 1752. [Letter to Court, 11 February 1753, para. 61.] On 11 January 1753 he presented himself before the Council in Calcutta and informed the members that his men were daily deserting that place, and that sixteen of them, some belonging to his own town and enjoying his greatest confidence, had already gone. He observed that the French (at Chandernagore) seduced them by indirect means and sent them to Pondicherry, the "open situation” of Calcutta making it impossible for him to prevent their flight. He proposed to take back his officers and men to the southern coast, where he hoped to take effective steps against such occurrences and to render better service to the English Company. [Letter to Court, 15 January 1753, para 4.] Polier joined Major Lawrence with 100 soldiers on 1 April 1753. With this reinforcement Lawrence wished to storm the French camp at Trivadi, but on arriving at Trichinopoly on 6 May 1753 found that, among others, one sergeant and fifteen men of a Swiss company had deserted his detachment. But Polier and his party remained faithful, though, they unknowingly committed a tactical military blunder. On 12 May 1754 Polier commanded some British troops as well. While he was trying to assist one detachment under Captain Caillaud, the French “disabled one of his field pieces” as also one of Caillaud’s. Polier’s battalion served in the army under Colonel Alexander Heron during its march from Madura towards the end of May 1755. Advised by the Madras Council to return to Arcot, the Nawab of the Carnatic left Trichinopoly for his capital on 9 July 1755, accompanied by an escort of 300 Europeans and 1,000 sepoys under the command of Polier. Towards the end of 1755, the Court of Directors decided to stop the recruitment of men from Switzerland for the four Swiss companies and to put them on an equal footing with the English companies in all respects, except that a Swiss company was to be limited to 140 men. Captain Polier, being the oldest of the Swiss military officers in India, was given a new commission investing him with the seniormost rank among them. [Letter from Court, 11 February 1756, para. 113.]

THE REVOLT OF THE TROOPS: OCTOBER 1759

The troops who were protecting Pondicherry revolted. It was not one of those stormy mutinies which begin without reason and end in the same way. Necessity seemed to cast them into it: it was the only way left to them to get paid and have enough to eat. “Give us" they said, “our bread and our pay, or we shall go and ask the English for it.” The soldiers in the corps wrote to the General that they would wait for four days, but that, at the end of that time, all their resources being exhausted, they would leave for Madras...

Whatever the case may be, it was necessary to find money: in India, sedition is not appeased by words. The Director of the Treasury, named Boyelau, gave up the little gold and silver that remained with him. The Chevalier of Crillon lent four thousand rupees; M. de Gadeville the same amount. Lalli, who happily had fifty thousand francs with him, gave them, and even persuaded the Jesuit, Lavour, his secret enemy, to lend thirty-six thousand pounds in silver, which he was keeping for his own use or for his missions, the whole being repayable by the Company when it was in a position to do so. They owed the troops six months' pay, and the pay was high: it amounted to more than a crown per day for every horseman and thirteen sous a day for the soldiers. These may be small details, but we believe that they are necessary.

22ND JANUARY 1760

The revolt was only quietened at the end of seven days, and the good-will of the soldiers was weakened by it. The English came back to the fatal spot, Wandewash: they waged a second battle there which they won completely. M. de Bussi, the man who was the most indispensable to the colony and the army, was taken prisoner there, and then everyone despaired.

ANOTHER REVOLT

After this defeat, the cavalry revolted again, and wanted to go over to the side of the English, preferring to serve the victors, who were sure to pay them, rather than the vanquished who still owed them a large part of their pay. The General brought them back a second time with his money but he could not prevent the desertion of a number of horsemen. [What is the reason of this mad desire to desert? Does love of one’s country get lost the further away one travels? The soldier, who yesterday fired on his enemies, tomorrow fires on his compatriots. A new duty has arisen: to kill other men or be killed by them. But why were there so many Swiss in the English troops, and not one in the French? Why was it that, among these Swiss, united to France by so many treaties, were found so many officers and soldiers who had served the English against France in the same way in America and Asia? What is the reason that in Europe, even during peace time, thousands of French have deserted their flag to take this same foreign pay? The Germans also desert, but the Spaniards only rarely; the English hardly at all. It is unheard of for a Turk or a Russian to desert. During the retreat of the Hundred Thousand, in the midst of the greatest dangers and the most discouraging hardships, not one Greek deserted. They were only mercenaries, officers as well as soldiers, who had sold themselves to the young Cyrus, to a rebel and a usurper. It is the task of the reader, and above all of the enlightened military, to find the cause and the remedy of this contagious malady, commoner to the French than other nations for many years, both in peace and war. (V.)]

-- Voltaire Fragments on India, Translated by Freda Bedi, B.A. Hons. (Oxon.)


The Company’s Servants

The Company’s servants in Bengal were paid low salaries. [In 1712 their salaries, as given by Wilson in his Early Annals of the English in Bengal Part I, pp. 82-83, were as follows: — President and Governor Rs. 1,600 per annum; Senior Merchant Rs. 320 per annum; Junior Merchant Rs. 240 per annum; Factor Rs. 120 per annum; Writer Rs. 40 per annum.] But they made large fortunes through private trade, and indulged in various luxuries and extravagances to which the Court of Directors were strongly opposed. With a view to maintaining the efficiency and integrity of the public services the Directors sought to regulate the conduct of their servants in all respects. In 1749-50 they complained of the “spirit of gaming” that was reported to prevail among their servants in Bengal. To this the Council in Calcutta replied in February 1750 that had they “ever observed the least appearance of this vice” they would have "suppressed it in its infancy” and assured the Court that they would henceforth punctually obey their orders in this respect. [Letter to Court, 25 February 1750, para 8.] The Court of Directors suspected the prevalence of other kinds of abuses also among their servants in Bengal. Thus in their letter of 24 January 1753 they accused them of being “underhand concerned in the contracts for the Investment.” The Council in Calcutta pleaded that this charge was based on false reports of a “malicious nature” and assured the Court that they would do their utmost to check “extravagant and expensive” ways of living among the servants, whose high expenses were due to the dearness of all kinds of provisions and not to “uncommon extravagancies”. They also observed that they would regard it as an act of the “greatest favour” on the part of the Court if the latter took into consideration the “small allowances” received by their servants and did whatever appeared to them to be just in that matter. [Letter to Court, 3 September 1753, paras 61 and 70.] Whatever might be the pleas of the members of the Council in Calcutta to screen themselves and their subordinates, there is no doubt that their ways of living were in certain respects not above reproach. Early in 1754 the Court of Directors sent to the Council a strong note reiterating their previous warning against “prevailing licentiousness” among their servants in Bengal, and also forwarded to them some positive commands for the regulation of their “morals and manner of life.” [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, paras 80-81.] As a luxurious style of living still prevailed among their servants of all ranks in Bengal, the Court asked the Council to take proper steps to check and prevent it. The remittance of large sums of money to England by the commanders of ships through bills of exchange on the Company led the Court to suspect that these were the ‘produce of illicit trade’ and so the Council in Calcutta were asked to take an oath from each commander to the effect that his money was earned through legitimate means. [Letter from Court, 31 January 1755, paras 100 and 111.]

In 1757 the salaries were:

President and Governor Rs. 1,600 per annum
Member of Council Rs. 320 per annum
Senior Merchant Rs. 320 per annum
Junior Merchant Rs. 240 per annum
Factor Rs. 120 per annum
Doctor Rs. 288 per annum
Writer Rs. 40 per annum


All but the Doctors and the Writers also got gratuities in various capacities. They had other sources of income such as perquisites and profits of private trade. (Long, Selections from Unpublished Records, pp. 101-03).

The Court also complained that an “unaccountable negligence appears to have taken strong possession of almost all our servants” and attributed to this the omission on the part of the latter "to send the usual and necessary books and papers”. [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, para 94.] They again observed in 1755 that the accounts were not "exact and methodical”. Suspecting that it was a common practice at all the subordinate factories to present wrong accounts, and to conceal the real amount of allowances granted to the chiefs and other important officers, the Council in Calcutta directed each factory in 1754 to specify "in the plainest manner and under their real heads in their accounts all disbursements, allowances, and charges whatever” for their inspection and approval. [Letter to Court 7 December 1754, para 142.] They agreed to pay the Sub-Accountant and the Accountant-General 250 sicca rupees each per annum and considered payment to the Registrar of the Mayor’s Court at the same rate, on his representation that the new regulations for receiving deposits in the Company’s treasury had increased his work.

At the end of January 1755, the Court of Directors emphasized the need of the “utmost attention” to the conduct of their servants at the subordinate factories whom they suspected of being "unfaithfully” interested in investments at the cost of the Company. For due control over these servants, the Court ordered the immediate formation of a Supervising Committee consisting of the President, Charles Manningham, Richard Becher, and John Zephaniah Holwell. This Committee was to "enquire into the manner of making the investments and the management in general at the subordinate settlements” and into the conduct of their servants employed at those places. [Letter from Court, 31 January I755, paras 56-61.] Taking into consideration the necessity of entrusting the management of the Company’s affairs at the subordinate factories to men of experience, the Court made it a standing rule that there should be among their servants at Kasimbazar two members of the Council and at least one senior merchant, at Dacca one member of the Council and a senior merchant, and at Jagdia or wherever the Jagdia settlement was shifted one of the "best qualified” servants next below the rank of a member of the Council. [Ibid, para 63.] The Court also ordered the formation of a Committee of Accounts "to prevent any frauds and irregularities which are and may be covered or unobserved by this loose manner of passing accounts.” They, however, felt that for due enforcement of all their rules and directions, and for effective management of their affairs, it was necessary to invest the President with sufficient powers as the “general inspector and supervisor of the whole machine” and so asked the Council to attend properly to whatever the President proposed to do for controlling the servants of all ranks and for management of the Company’s affairs. The directions communicated by the Court were to apply to all the subordinate settlements. [Letter from Court, 31 January 1755, paras 101-03.]

The Court at the same time favoured the encouragement by due rewards of such of their servants as proved themselves worthy by virtue of their “abilities, integrity and zealous endeavours to serve the Company”. [Ibid, para 95.] Thus Charles Manningham, who discharged his duty as Export Warehouse-keeper greatly to their satisfaction, was granted by them a personal allowance of four thousand current rupees a year “in lieu of all fees, rewards or perquisites whatsoever as Export Warehouse-keeper” besides his salary as a member of the Council. [Ibid, para 92.]

Early in 1754 the Court of Directors sent some writers to the Bengal establishment, and to put a stop to what they considered the “pernicious custome of employing black people” in writing business, directed the Council in Calcutta to ensure that all their servants were “regularly and constantly employed in their respective stations particularly the younger sort”. [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, paras 75-7.] The Council in Calcutta instructed the heads of their several offices to insist on their assistants attending to their respective duties from 9 to 12 in the forenoon and also, when necessary, in the afternoon as well as evening. [Letter to Court, 7 December 1754, para 143.]

In their letter to the Council of 24 January 1753, the Court suggested the occasional transfer of the junior servants in rotation from one factory to another. The Council, however, observed in their letter of 3 September 1753 that this practice would cause serious inconveniences and decided not to take any action until further orders of the Court were received in this matter. The arguments of the Council were considered unsatisfactory by the Court who ordered them in 1755 to put into execution their previous directions relating to this affair. [Letter from Court, 31 January, 1755, para 97.] To enable all the servants to “acquire a knowledge of Investment” the Court ordered that every junior servant of the Company should be employed for some time in the kotha. [Ibid, para 96.] The Council in Calcutta accordingly directed all their servants above the rank of writers to “attend the cottah every cottah day in order to acquire a knowledge of the Investment”, constituted several committees, and transmitted to the respective factories relevant portions of the Court’s orders. They also granted the Head Assistant at the cutcherry the same salary as the Deputies of other offices, that is 500 sicca rupees per annum. [Letter to Court, 11 September 1755, para 33.]

Mayor's Court

In 1726 the British Crown established, by letters patent, Mayor’s Courts at Bombay and Calcutta, and remodelled the one at Madras. Each of these courts was to consist of a Mayor and nine Aldermen, seven of whom were to be “natural born British subjects”. These courts were to be courts of record, and were authorised “to try, hear and determine all civil suits, actions, and pleas between party and party.” [Cowell, History and Constitution of the Courts and Legislative Authorities in India, (sixth edition revised by S.C Bagchi, Calcutta (1936), pp. 14-15.] The Governor and his Council in a Presidency were to constitute a Government Court of Record competent to hear appeals from the Mayor’s Court. Appeals in cases involving sums above 1,000 pagodas lay from the Government Court to the King in Council. The Government Court was also to be a Court of Oyer and Terminer and to hold Quarter Sessions for trial of all cases except high treason. The Mayor’s Courts were authorised to give probates and exercise testamentary jurisdiction. The Court of Directors observed in their letter dated 17 February 1727: “This Charter being principally design’d for the Government and benefits of Europeans, and many of the Natives who live with you having peculiar Customs of their own, we are willing they should still enjoy them, so as they live quietly and do nothing that tends to publick disturbance or breaking into the settled Rules of the Place. You must continue to be as hitherto you have been very careful to avoid as much as possible the putting any of the Moors to Death, unless the Crime be of a very high nature such as Murther and Piracy and the proofs there of be very positive and plain ....." When the Council in Calcutta requested the Mughal Government to grant them “power to punish the Mogul’s Subjects with Death” they were told in reply that “the Company’s Charter could not extend to them who were Subjects to another Prince”. [Bengal Past and Present Vol. VIII p. 13; Ibid, p. 16.]

The Royal Charter of 8 January 1753 remodelled the Mayor’s Courts at Bombay and Calcutta in order to remove the defects of which the Company had complained. It also created Courts of Requests at these two places for the trial of cases “where the debt duty or matter in dispute should not exceed five pagodas.” This Charter of 1753 excluded from the jurisdiction of the Mayor’s Courts all suits between Indians “unless by consent of the parties” concerned.
[Cowell, op. cit., p. 16.] It also transferred the power of appointing Aldermen to the President and Council. The Mayor's Courts were each to present annually two members of their body to the President and Council who were to select one of them as Mayor for the ensuing year. [Bengal: Past and Present, Vol. VIII p. 18.] Thus the personnel of the Mayor's Courts came to be composed of the nominees of the Governor and Council and were subject to their influence.

On receipt of the Court’s letter of 24 January 1753, relating to the Charter of that year, the Council in Calcutta promulgated the Charter on 5 October, and appointed twelve Commissioners for the Court of Requests. [For their names, vide Bengal: Past and Present, Vol. VIII, p. 25.] As the Charter directed that all suits under five pagodas should be tried in the Court of Requests they ordered that the “Zemindar should not take cognizance of any disputes of property under 20 current rupees, to prevent the jurisdiction of the cutcherry [Zamindar’s court] and that Court from interfering with each other and creating continual contests between them." Three members of the Mayor's Court being absent at the time the Charter reached Calcutta, the Council appointed Messrs. Valicourt, Verelst and Fullerton Aldermen in their places. [Letter to Court, 4 January 1754, paras 140-51.]

Holwell informed the Council in Calcutta on 6 May 1754 that as the Charter of 1753 had “put a stop to the application of Indian natives to the Mayor's Court in disputes among themselves" they had begun to follow the practice of assigning over their notes or bonds to European, Portuguese or Armenian inhabitants of Calcutta, which in his opinion was against the true “intent and meaning” of the said Charter and prejudiced the Company’s 'etlack' ["Under the Mohammadan government, fees paid by suitors on the decision of their causes; also a fee exacted from a defendant as wages for a peon stationed over him as soon as a complaint was preferred against him". Wilson A Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms, p. 346.] (itlaq) and commission. Taking all these points into consideration, the Council issued a notification that by resorting to this practice in future one would subject himself to their “severest resentment”. [Letter to Court, 9 September 1754, para 40.]

The Calcutta court was not much of a success during the first fifty years of its existence. This is apparent from a discussion on its reform in 1802. [Notes on the defects or the court of requests at Calcutta, by Sir John Austruther, Chief Justice of the Calcutta Supreme Court, Bengal Civil Judicial Consultations, 18 March 1802, No. 12.] The fundamental defect of the court as formed in 1753, arose out of its constitution by unpaid commissioners. The court's sittings were extremely laborious and prolonged, often stretching up to five hours a day. It made the commissioners reluctant to undertake this exertion for which no monetary compensation was to be had. As a result, in spite of there-being twenty-four commissioners on roll, it was always found difficult even to secure the attendance of three, the minimum required to constitute the quorum. It was only by making personal approaches to some of the younger commissioners of his acquaintance that the clerk of the court was able to procure the minimum attendance necessary to form the court. [Ibid.]

As such, commissioners who were employed otherwise by the company were unable to spare enough time for the court's business, the court gradually came to be constituted by old civilians out of employment or by young Englishmen who never had any. Devotion or responsibility towards the business of the court could be expected from neither.

Out of the irregularity and laxity in the procedure of the court arose enormous abuses which rendered it more an instrument of fraud and exploitation, than that of justice. [Ibid.] The peons, amlas and clerks of the court found it easy to indulge in all sorts of corrupt practices, much to the harassment of the parties trying to seek redress from the court. Among the many malpractices prevailing in the court that Austruther listed, were:

[T]hat many (defendants) complained that actions were brought and decrees passed against them, of which they had no notice, and by plaintiffs of whom they had never heard; others (complained) that they had attended their cause from day to day to no purpose, but the instant they were gone, the decree (was) passed against them: ... still others (complained) that the causes were (actually) decided by the Amlas after the Commissioners had gone; and that nothing was to be done without bribing the peons or their mates; that summons were issued in the names of fictitious plaintiffs, which were left in the hands of the peons for an indefinite time and were used as a means for harassing persons with names similar to that of the supposed defendants, ... and that the summons contained no definite time for appearance, with the result that the party had to keep attending every day ..., till their cause was called out by the native officers of the Court, who in fictitious suits (brought either by themselves or with their connivance), always cared to have the decree passed in the absence of the defendant. [Ibid.]

Coleman, the clerk of the court, informed Austruther, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Calcutta, that of an average of about 3,000 causes instituted monthly over the preceding four years, at least one third had been entirely fictitious. [Ibid.]

The plaintiffs, on the other hand, complained that the court's decrees were of no avail, because either they were not executed in consequence of the bribe given to the peons by the debtors, or, if they were, the money obtained was fraudulently appropriated by the vakeels and peons of the court. Thus, Austruther observed:

When the amount was paid into the Court, nothing was more common than for the Vakeels to impersonate the real plaintiff and receive the money, and when the real plaintiff came, the amlas were always ready to swear that they were (sic) witness to the receipt (of the decreed amount by the plaintiff) ...... [Ibid.]

-- Evolution of the Small Cause Courts in India -- 1753-1887 with Special Reference to the Presidency Court at Calcutta, by Chittaranjan Sinha, M.A., B.L. (Patna), Ph.D. (Lond.).


Clashes between the Mayor’s Court and the Zamindar’s Court in Calcutta regarding their respective jurisdictions could not always be prevented despite the Council’s efforts. One such clash occurred in May 1755 concerning a decree passed by the Zamindar’s Court on a complaint lodged with it by a European and a ‘Fringy’ against another ‘Fringy’. The matter being referred by Holwell to the Council in Calcutta, the majority there were of opinion that “as it had been the constant practice of the cutcherry to receive complaints from Europeans against natives, the Zemindar might continue to take cognizance of and decide upon causes of property where a European, Fringy or Armenian were complainant against natives as his decision by no means oblige the parties or prevent them from applying to the Mayor's Court afterwards” but that “the Zemindar had no right to determine upon matters of dispute between any Europeans, Fringys, and Armenians” as the Council “esteemed them to have the same title to the benefit of His Majesty’s Charter, as British subjects themselves while they lived under our protection”. [Letter to Court, 8 December 1755, para 141.]

The Company as Zamindar

In 1698 the English East India Company had obtained on the strength of letters granted by Prince Azimus-Shan, Subahdar of Bengal, the right of renting the three towns of Calcutta, Sutanati and Govindapur for an annual payment of about 1,200 rupees. For discharging the duties connected with the ‘Zamindar rights' thus gained, the Company appointed in 1700 a special officer known as the Collector (or the Zamindar), Ralph Sheldon being the first Collector of Calcutta. The Collector was to “gather in the revenue of the three towns and to keep them in order”, for which, in accordance with zamindari customs, he exercised till 1758 both civil and criminal justice through some zamindari courts established in Calcutta. The Collector had under him an Indian deputy, styled the ‘Black Collector'. Govindaram Mitra held this post for over thirty years till he was dismissed for some malpractices by orders of the Court dated 16 January 1752.

In January 1752 the Court of Directors appointed Holwell to the post of Zamindar or Collector of Calcutta, and he assumed charge of this office in July 1752. On 20 July, he charged Govindaram with “heavy fraude” in the management of the Company's revenues, particularly in farming out the bazars in Calcutta, and moved in the Council that he should “give good security for his appearance”. Omichand was allowed to become his “personal security” for six months. [Letter to Court, __ September 1752, paras 85-88.] On 13 and 17 August, Holwell demanded that Govindaram Mitra should be kept in “close confinement’’. This was not done but Govindaram had to pay Rs. 3,397-10-6 to the Company’s treasury. [Letter to Court, 3 September 1753, para 78.] Subsequently the farmers of the ‘gunge* (ganj) were summoned by the Council and asked whether Govindaram Mitra was ever “concerned with or under them in that farm, which they respectively declared he never was directly or indirectly”. As demanded by Holwell in his letter to the Council of 25 November 1754, Govindaram Mitra took a solemn oath on 30 January 1755 that the “accounts he had delivered in of the bazars he had farmed were just and true accounts, and that he had never farmed the gunge directly or indirectly”. He was, however, required, according to the orders of the Court of Directors, to repay with interest the profits amounting to Rs. 4,875 “which he had made on the farms he had held by his own accounts” from October 1752. [Letter to Court, 3 February 1755, para 14.]

By increasing the revenues of the Company in Calcutta to “a very considerable amount without imposing any new duties” and by discharging his duties ably Holwell earned the good opinion of the Court of Directors, who expressed their determination to support him in all his endeavours to serve the Company. The Court also urged the Council to examine, without further delay, the working of the office of Zamindar and to consider if, in view of its very complicated nature involving the discharge of various duties, it would not be advisable to divide it into several branches, each being placed in charge of one man. The Council were further required to inform the Court as to which “duties or fines” appeared to be “particularly grievous upon the poorer sort of people’’. [Letter from Court, 31 January 1755, paras 73, 75-77.]
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Part 3 of 4

The Armenians in Bengal

The Armenians had established their first settlement in Bengal at Saidabad near Murshidabad in 1665, on the strength of a Mughal imperial farman, and since then they had trading concerns in different parts of the province. In 1748 two vessels of the Armenians, on their way to Bengal from [illegible] and Basra, were captured by the English. The Armenians appealed to Nawab Alivardi for redress whereupon the latter “ordered Peons on all their (English) Gomastahs at the Aurungs [Aurung: The place where goods are manufactured] and stopped the boats which were bringing down their goods’’. [Long, Selections from Unpublished Records, I, p. 12.] The Nawab also wrote a ‘menacing' letter to Governor Harwell in Calcutta charging the English with piracy, demanding immediate delivery of the captured goods and effects and threatening chastisement in the event of their non-compliance with his orders. Barwell replied that the goods had been seized by a King’s ship not subject to his control, and that the French, then at war with the English, had captured some goods of the Armenians, wrongly considering these as the property of their enemy.

Not satisfied with this reply the Nawab adopted stern measures against the English traders at Kasimbazar and elsewhere.
Acting on the instructions of the Council in Calcutta, Wadham Brooke, Chief of the English factory at Kasimbazar, tried to conciliate the Nawab through some of his officers and the Seths of Murshidabad. [Letter to Court, 10 August 1749, paras 25-26.] But the Nawab pressed the English to give satisfaction to the Armenians. At last some leading Armenian merchants stated in a darbar of the Nawab held on 15 October 1749 that they had received satisfaction for the losses they had suffered by the capture of their vessels. The Company also paid a “large sum’’ to the Nawab and his officers. It was only then that the Nawab passed orders removing the restraints he had imposed on their trade. [Letter to Court, 13 January 1749-50 para 109.] The Council in Calcutta felt that they were entitled to reimbursement for this amount. So on 28 December 1749 they summoned before them all the Armenians living in Calcutta and asked them to “make good the same”. The Armenians replied that they were not in any way concerned, and on 9 January 1750 the Council felt that, as it was not possible to prove the complicity of these Armenians, they could not be legally compelled to comply with the Company’s demand. They also realised the inadvisability of expelling the Armenians from Calcutta, as the French at Chandernagore would then readily afford them protection and the English Company would incur the loss of 5 per cent customs payable by the Armenians on the export of raw silk and other goods to the Coromandel Coast. The Council, however, suggested to the Court of Directors that the Armenians living in Calcutta should, like the covenanted servants of the Company, the free merchants, and others who lived under the protection of the Company’s flag, be required to pay consulage on their exports. [Letter to Court, 13 January 1749-50, para 151.] The Court approved, and the Council in Calcutta demanded payment of consulage from the Armenians. [Letter to Court, 20 August 1751, para 109.] But the Armenians in Calcutta delivered a letter to the Council on 21 November 1751 stating that they imported goods by virtue of a farman granted to them by the ‘Great Mogul’ for which they annually paid 7 per cent duty and that they did not use dastaks [dusticks: Passes for the river] of the English Company to import goods. They requested the Council to defer demanding consulage from them till further orders were received on this point from the Court of Directors. The Council again referred this matter to the Court of Directors but meanwhile insisted on payment of the consulage. In January 1755 the Court reiterated their former orders in favour of realising consulage from the Armenians on the ground that they enjoyed the ‘benefits’ of the English Company’s protection.

Sirajud Daulah and the English

Early in May 1752 Alivardi declared Sirajud Daulah, in whom he lived and moved and had his being, as his successor. The relations of the Europeans in Bengal with Sirajud Daulah were cordial in 1752. In that year, during his stay at Hooghly, Sirajud Daulah “was visited by the French and Dutch Governors with a present equivalent to his dignity”. As suggested by the faujdar [Fowzdaar: Under the Mughals it was an office that combined the functions of a military commander along with judicial and land revenue functions] of Hooghly and by Khwajah Wajid [Wazeed], one of the principal merchants of Bengal who resided at Hooghly, the Council in Calcutta “judged it highly necessary to pay the Nabob the compliment required”. Accordingly, the President, Roger Drake, accompanied by Cruttenden, Becher and the Commandant, visited Sirajud Daulah at Hooghly in the beginning of the third week of September 1752. They were received there, as the Council in Calcutta expressed, “with the utmost politeness and distinction far superior than was paid the French or Dutch’’. [Letter to Court, 18 September 1752, para 112.] Appreciating this cordiality of Sirajud Daulah, the Court of Directors observed in their letter to the Council of 23 January 1754 that they should lose no opportunity of “improving the favourable opinion he seems to entertain of the English nation”. [Para 60.] In another letter, dated 29 November 1754, the Court significantly noted that the “Country Government” (Nawab’s government) had “always shown more preferable marks of favour to the English than to the other European nations". [Para 5.] In the course of three years, however, Bengal became the scene of a sanguinary contest between Sirajud Daulah and the English. The years 1756-57 formed, indeed, a critical juncture in Bengal’s history.

Some are of opinion that Sirajud Daulah was guilty of perpetrating acts of violence and cruelty on the English without any cause. He has been accused of unprovoked acts of aggression, committed in compliance with what Holwell describes as the “death-bed instructions” of Alivardi to “destroy the forts and garrisons of the Europeans and to reduce their trade on the footing of the Armenians". [Holwell's Letter to Court, 30 November 1756, para 18.] But Holwell's testimony is not unimpeachable. Though possessed of ability, Holwell had neither integrity nor veracity. He was accustomed to fabricating facts and inventing stories to vindicate his own point of view. Positive evidence of some English contemporaries of Holwell, all of whom were then in the service of the Company in Bengal (Watts, Chief of the English factory at Kasimbazar, Mathew Collet, second of the Council at Kasimbazar, and Richard Becher, Chief of the Company’s factory at Dacca), proves that his story of the anti-European death-bed speech of Alivardi is a veritable concoction. There are references also in some 18th century Persian works which show that Alivardi had no such evil motive as Holwell imputed to him. [K. K. Datta, Alivardi and His Times, p. 163.] Besides questioning the genuineness of Holwell’s statement, Richard Becher expresses the view that “the English had given Sur Raja Doula sufficient provocation to make him their enemy without any need of his grandfather’s advice”. [S. C. Hill, Bengal in 1756-57, II. p. 162.]

In fact, a quarrel between Sirajud Daulah and the English East India Company had become inevitable because of the conflicting interests of the two. During the last days of his grandfather, Sirajud Daulah protested against certain acts of the English in Bengal as likely to prejudice the authority of the Nawab’s government. He justly accused them of conspiring with the rival party which, under the leadership of Shahamat Jang’s [Shaw Amet Jung] widow, Ghasiti Begam, and her chief diwan, Raj Ballabh [Raagbullob], was opposing his claims to the subahdarship. According to M. Jean Law, they, like some others, were “led away by the idea that he could not have sufficient influence to get himself recognised as Subahdar’’. [Hill op. cit., III, p. 16.] They were even suspected of having “an understanding" with Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea], Nawab of Purnea -- another rival of Sirajud Daulah. [Ibid, pp. 163-64.] Counting on the success of Sirajud Daulah’s rivals and with a view to securing the favour of Raj Ballabh [Raagbullob], one of their leaders, the Council in Calcutta, at the request of Watts, Chief of the English factory at Kasimbazar, gave shelter to Raj Ballabh’s son Krishnadas (Krishna Ballabh) [Kissendass], who had fled to Calcutta in March 1756 with his family and wealth on the pretext of a pilgrimage to Jagannath [Jaggernaut] at Puri. [Letter to Court from Becher and some others, 18 July 1756; Holwell’s Letter to Court, 30 November 1756.]

All this strengthened Sirajud Daulah’s suspicions and he reported to Alivardi about a fortnight before his death in the presence of Dr. Forth, surgeon of the Kasimbazar factory, who was attending on the Nawab, that the English intended to support Ghasiti Begam. Questioned by the Nawab regarding this charge, Dr. Forth described it as a ‘malicious report’ on the part of their enemies and disclaimed any intention on the part of the Company to interfere in political matters. [Hill, op, cit., II, pp. 65-66.]

But this did not satisfy Sirajud Daulah. He levelled three definite charges against the English. The first was that they had “built strong fortifications and dug a large ditch in the King’s dominions contrary to the established laws of the country”. The second was that they had “abused the privilege of their dustucks by granting them to such as were no ways entitled to them, from which practices the King has suffered greatly in the revenue of his Customs". The third complaint was that they had given “protection to such of the King’s subjects as have by their behaviour in the employ they were entrusted with made themselves liable to be called to an account and instead of giving them up on demand they allow such persons to shelter themselves within their bounds from the hands of justice”.
He expressed his intention to “pardon their fault and permit their residence here” if they “will promise to remove the foregoing complaints of their conduct and will agree to trade upon the same terms as other merchants did in the times of the Nabob Jaffier Cawn [Murshid Quli Jafar Khan] [Jaffier Cawn]”. [Nawab's letter to Khwajah Wajid, 1 June 1756; Hill, op. cit., I, p. 4.] A careful scrutiny of the relevant contemporary documents shows that these charges were not baseless. The Council in Calcutta had attempted to improve their fortifications in defiance of the authority of the Nawab's government during the fatal illness of Alivardi. Even if it be argued that no new works of fortification had been undertaken at that time, and that Sirajud Daulah had received false or fabricated reports regarding the preparations of the English and the French, there cannot be any doubt as to their efforts to strengthen such constructions as had already been completed and to carry out certain repairs. Sirajud Daulah was not content to remain a silent spectator in this matter. Like Murshid Quli Jafar Khan and Alivardi Khan, he felt that it would not be advisable to allow the Europeans to build strong fortifications within his dominions, as this would adversely affect his own authority. In view of the military and political exploits and successes of the Europeans in southern India and the virtual subordination of the rulers of Hyderabad and Arcot to their control Sirajud Daulah, like his grandfather, thought it necessary to take adequate precautions for the prevention of European interference in Bengal politics. [Hill, op. cit. III, p. 384.] The Carnatic episodes must have greatly influenced his policy towards the Europeans in Bengal.

It would be incorrect to say that Sirajud Daulah forbade the English to add to their fortifications out of a special bias against them. He wished to enforce the same injunction on the other European nations as well. Even Holwell states: “though liberty of trade is granted to the Danes and Prussians, yet they are prohibited fortifications or garrisons”. [Letter to Court, 30 November 1756.] Sirajud Daulah simultaneously ordered the French at Chandernagore and Drake, the English Governor in Calcutta, to desist from building fortifications at their respective settlements. The former were able to satisfy him. [Hill, op. cit. III, p. 165.] But he became “extremely disgusted” [Ibid, III, p. 394.] at Drake’s reply to the effect that the English were not “erecting any new fortifications” but were only repairing the wharf and that the report of their digging a new ditch was a pure concoction by their enemies, there being only the ditch which had been excavated during the period of Maratha invasions with the consent of Alivardi. Drake further stated that fearing a renewal of hostilities with the French, which was bound to have an echo in India, the English “thought it necessary to be upon our guard and make our place as defensible as we could”. [Letter to Court from Drake and others, Falta, 17 September 1756, para 3.]

When Drake's reply reached the Nawab at Rajmahal, he is said to have exclaimed; “Who shall dare to think of commencing hostilities in my country, or presume to imagine I have not power to protect them?” Holwell regrets that the answer had not been “debated in Council before it was sent”. He also observes; “the whole of it had a tendency to confirm the Suba in a belief of those insinuations which had been already conveyed to him, that the war between us and the French would probably be brought into Bengal besides its carrying a tacit reflection on the Suba’s power or will to protect us”. [Holwell’s Letter to Court, 30 November 1756, paras 11 and 18.]

There is plenty of contemporary evidence to justify Sirajud Daulah’s complaint regarding the abuse of dastaks [dusticks: Passes for the river] by the Company’s servants to the detriment of the revenues of the government and the interests of Indian merchants. It had become an old practice by that time in spite of the previous attempts to eradicate it by the Nawabs as well as by the English Company. [Hill, op. cit. 384.] In 1755 the Court of Directors asked the Council in Calcutta to “be extremely careful to prevent all abuses of' the dusticks”. [Letter from Court, 31 January 1755, para 65.] Referring to the “ill use made of this indulgence” by the servants of the Company, Holwell observed in his letter to Court dated 30 November 1756 [Para 23.] “That the abuse of dusticks should be one cause of complaint, I am not surprised at”. Roger Drake claimed that he “had in a great measure curbed that unlicensed practice”, had “refused applications on that head”, and “was warm to remedy and put those checks which were resolved on to prevent the abuse of that indulgence”. [Hill, op. cit., II, p. 148.] But he could not certainly remove this abuse which was to grow so much in the post-Plassey period.

So far as the third complaint is concerned, it is not really “difficult to understand” [Hill, op. cit., LV.] Sirajud Daulah’s point of view. There is clear reference in the account of David Rannie (August 1756) that the English Company gave protection to the “Nabob’s subjects”, though they were neither their ‘servants’ nor their ‘merchants’. Further, the affair of Krishnadas (Krishna Ballabh) was a sufficiently provocative one. For certain reasons, particularly on account of Raj Ballabh’s [Raagbullob] leadership of a hostile party, there was no love lost between him and Sirajud Daulah. Sirajud Daulah demanded from him an account of the administration of the finances of Dacca for several years. [Hill op, cit,, I, pp. 250 and 278.] Raj Ballabh [Raagbullob], who happened to be then at Murshidabad, was placed in confinement in March 1756, and some persons were deputed to Dacca to attach his property and arrest his family. There is no doubt that Raj Ballabh’s [Raagbullob] family fled to Calcutta, and that the Council in Calcutta continued to shelter the son and the family of an ex-officer of the government, who had incurred the subahdar's displeasure, even after he had demanded their dismissal. Richard Becher wrote that to harbour Krishnadas [Kissendass] in Calcutta in defiance of the Nawab’s demand was a ‘‘wrong step”. [Ibid. III, p, 338.] Other Englishmen considered it to be a risky course. On the eve of Alivardi’s death, Watts himself suggested to the President in Calcutta that it would be ‘‘expedient’’ that ‘‘Kissendass and the rest of Rhagbullub’s [Raagbullob] family should have no longer protection in Calcutta”. Deeming this to be a ‘‘salutary advice” and fearing that the continuance of protection to them till the death of Alivardi ‘‘might be productive of troublesome consequences”, Holwell ‘‘pressed more than once for the dismission of this family”. He admitted, however, that it would have been dangerous to dismiss them, ‘‘the more especially as for some days advices from all quarters were in favour of the Begum’s [Ghasiti Begam’s] party”.
[Holwell's Letter to Court, 30 November 1756. para 4.]

The treatment meted out to the Nawab’s messenger, Narayan Das (also referred to as Narayan Singh) [Naran Sing] [Brother of Rajaram, faujdar of Midnapore and head of the espionage system in the Nawab’s Government] by Drake and some other members of the Council in Calcutta added fuel to the fire, Narayan Das had come with a letter from the Nawab which contained a demand for the delivery of Krishna Ballabh, his family and treasures. He entered Calcutta on 14 April, in disguise according to somer and went to the house of Omichand, one of the most influential men in Calcutta. In the evening Omichand took him to Holwell and Pearkes, as Drake, the Governor, was then at Barasat. On the Governor’s return to Calcutta the next morning, the matter was being discussed by Drake, Holwell and Manningham, when they heard that Omichand and Narayan Das had reached the factory and were waiting for an interview with them. Omichand was then in disfavour with Drake, who, along with his colleagues, at once suspected this to be a trick on Omichund's part to take possession of the wealth of Krishna Ballabh by effecting his transfer to one of his houses. [Hill. op. cit., p. 121.] They decided not to receive Narayan Das or the Nawab’s letter brought by him and under their orders some of their servants turned him out of the settlement “with insolence and derision”. [Orme. op, cit., II. p. 54.] Soon realising, however, that this step might produce bitter consequences, they instructed Watts at Kasimbazar to take necessary precautions to avert such developments. Watts seems to have managed the situation satisfactorily for a time.

The expulsion of Narayan Das was regarded by the Nawab as a serious insult to himself. Becher describes it as “an affront that it could not be expected any Prince would put up with from a sett of merchants ....". [Hill. op. cit., II, p. 160.] There was absolutely no ground for questioning the authenticity of the document carried by Narayan Das and construing the whole affair as a clever and selfish move on the part of Omichand. From Holwell’s letter [Letter to Court, 30 November 1756.] it is clear that he believed in the deputation of Narayan Das by Sirajud Daulah. It is strange that in the same paragraph where Holwell expresses this view, he tries to justify the expulsion of Narayan Das by pleading that the latter “had stole like a thief and a spy into the Settlement, (and not like one in the public character he pretended and as bearing the Suba’s orders).” The real motive of Drake, Holwell and Manningham in turning out Narayan Das can be read in the following statement of Holwell himself: ‘’We were all a good deal embarrassed how to act on this occasion, (seeing) that the same reasons that before forbid the family being turned out of the place after the Suba’s death still subsisted equally strong against delivering them up, as the contest was yet undecided between Surajud Dowla and the young Begum”. Omichand’s statement before Holwell on 14 April was that “Naran Singh had got, in the disguize of a European dress, into the Settlement”. But the jamadar of the chauki, where Narayan Das had landed, reported to Holwell next morning that he "came in the disguize of a common Bengali pikar (broker).” [Hill, op. cit., II, pp. 6-7.]

A jemadar was originally an armed official of a zamindar (feudal lord) in India who, like a military general, and along with Mridhas, was in charge of fighting and conducting warfare, mostly against the rebellious peasants and common people who lived on the lord's land. Also, this rank was used among the thuggees as well, usually the gang leader.

Later, it became a rank used in the British Indian Army, where it was the lowest rank for a Viceroy's commissioned officer. Jemadars either commanded platoons or troops themselves or assisted their British commander. They also filled regimental positions such as assistant quartermaster (jemadar quartermaster) or assistant adjutant (jemadar adjutant).

-- Jemadar, by Wikipedia


[Chauki] Choky, Chokee: A chair, seat; guard, watch. The station of a guard or watchman. A place where an officer is stationed to receive tolls and customs.

-- from the Glossary attached to the fifth Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on Indian affairs, appointed in 1810.


There could be no similarity between the dress of a European and that of an ordinary Bengali paikar.

Watts and Collet wrote to the Court of Directors from Chandernagore on 16 July 1756 “that the Nabob never intended to drive the English out of his province but would have been satisfied with a sum of money”. They asserted that they had forwarded a letter to this effect to Drake from Hooghly through the Dutch Director, but Drake did not agree with them. It may be that the Nawab’s resentment was too intense to be removed in the manner suggested by Watts and Collet. But it can be reasonably said that complete expulsion of the English was not his deliberate and premeditated design. He wrote to Pigot, the Governor of Madras, “It was not my intention to remove the mercantile business of the Company belonging to you from out of the subah of Bengal, but Roger Drake your gomasta [gomastha] was a very wicked and unruly man and began to give protection to persons who had accounts with the Patcha in his Koatey [Kothi-factory]. Notwithstanding all my admonitions, yet he did not desist from his shameless actions. Why should these people who come to transact the mercantile affairs of the Company be doers of such actions?” [Hill, op, cit., I, p. 196.] Drake and his Council did not make sincere efforts to reach an agreement with the Nawab. The little they did was half-hearted and belated. A letter was, if the testimony of Khwajah Wajid’s Chinsura diwan Shri Babu (Shiva Babu) is to be credited, sent by Drake to the Nawab at his persuasion and through him; but it was too late, hostilities having already commenced. [Letter to Court from Watts and Collet, 17 July 1756, para 1.]

Sirajud Daulah had left Murshidabad about 16 May 1756 for suppressing Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea], Governor of Purnea, who had refused to acknowledge his authority. En route, at Rajmahalr he received Drake’s reply of 20 May and heard of the expulsion of Narayan Das [Narayan Singh] [Naran Sing] from Calcutta. He immediately ordered his army to march back to deal with the English. It was no longer necessary to proceed against Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea], as about 22 May Sirajud Daulah had got a message from Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea] recognizing him as the Nawab and his master. The Nawab's troops, invested the English factory at Kasimbazar on 24 May. The Nawab returned to Murshidabad within a few days and brought the Kasimbazar factory fully under his control by 4 June, the English residents being made prisoners, with the exception of some who managed to escape to the houses of their friends. Acting with great promptitude, on 5 June he marched on Calcutta, taking with him Watts, Chief of the Kasimbazar factory, and another member, Collet, who were, however, delivered to the French Governor at Chandernagore with orders to send them “safe” to Madras. On 16 June the Nawab’s army appeared before Calcutta and attacked Perrin’s Redoubt, which covered the approaches to the Chitpur bridge over the Maratha Ditch but failed to take it. Nevertheless, many of the Nawab’s troops, and the looters who were following his army, found their way into Calcutta and the Nawab himself took up his quarters in Omichand's garden in the area known as Simla. Having decided to defend only the European part of Calcutta, that is, the area later known as Dalhousie Square and the region east and south of it, the English set fire to the bamboo and straw huts in the Indian quarter or the “Black Town” during the night of the 16th “in order to drive out the Nawab’s men.” Next day the English caused all the Indian houses to the east and south to be burnt, and the looters accompanying the Nawab’s army also set fire to the great bazar, that is, the old Bara Bazar situated north of the Fairlie Place, and to “many parts of the Black Town, which burnt till Fort on the 16th and next day the Portuguese and the Armenian women crowded into the Fort, as “the military and militia declared that they would not fight unless their families were admitted in the factory.” [ Hill, op. cit., I, pp. 257-58; Ibid., p. 165.]
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The Nawab’s troops attacked the British line of defence on 18 June. At about 10 a.m. on the 19th Governor Drake Commandant Minchin, Mackett, [Mackett is said to have gone aboard to see his ailing wife.] Captain Grant, and many other Englishmen abandoned Fort William to its fate. Frankland and Manningham had already deserted it and taken shelter on board the ships in the river. Those who remained in the Fort were greatly indignant at what has been described as "disgraceful desertion”. Though not the seniormost member, Holwell was selected by them to be the Governor and Administrator of the Company’s affairs. After a feeble resistance, Fort William surrendered before 6 p.m. on Sunday, 20 June.

On the capture of the English factory at Kasimbazar by the Nawab the Council in Calcutta had sent instructions to the other factories to take necessary precautions for their defence and, if necessary, for the safe withdrawal of officers. Peter Amyatt and Thomas Boddam, Chiefs at Lakshmipur and Balasore respectively, managed to escape with much of the cash and property belonging to the Company. They joined Drake’s party at Falta. Richard Becher, Chief at Dacca, was obliged to surrender the factory to the Nawab’s officers and with his subordinates and the English ladies took shelter in the local French factory, whose Chief, Courtin, treated them kindly and lent them a sloop on which they reached Falta on 26 August. According to M. Pierre Renault, the Nawab’s people found in the Dacca factory “more than fourteen hundred thousand rupees in merchandise and silver.” [Hill, op. cit., I, p. 208.] The only factory that was then retained by the English was that at Balaramgarhi lying at the mouth of the Balasore River. [Ibid., II, p. 14.]

We have, as Holwell wrote, many “different narratives and accounts” from his contemporaries of the causes of the loss of Calcutta by the English. This to a large extent is due to the attempt of each important officer concerned to justify his own conduct and establish his own innocence. Some said that Watts’ surrender was a blunder and resistance on his part for some time at least could have prevented the Nawab’s prompt attack on Calcutta. Watts pleaded in defence that it would have been “madness” on his part “to resist the Government” when “so great a part” of the Company’s “estate amounting to many lacks of Rupees was dispersed over the whole country which would have been immediately seized” to the great loss of the Company. According to Holwell, the immediate causes of this “catastrophe” were weak and defective fortifications, remissness on the part of the garrison and insufficiency of military stores, and certain “capital errors” on the part of the officers. He describes it as a “Tragedy of Errors” of which the fifth act was the desertion of the Fort by Drake and others which was a “breach of trust”. The flight of Drake and his companions was not, however, so greatly responsible for the debacle as Holwell tried to show. But there is no doubt, as has been observed by Grey (Junior), a servant of the Company who was present on the scene, that it damaged the morale of those remaining in the Fort and caused a terrible confusion, disorder and tumult which Holwell could not control.  

What happened to those in the Fort who surrendered to the victor? “The Armenians and Portuguese were at liberty, and suffered to go to their own houses.” [Hill, op. cit., III, p. 301.] Several Europeans just walked out of the Fort, and escaped to Hooghly or the ships at Surman’s. [Ibid, I, p. Lxxxix.] Holwell had three interviews with Sirajud Daulah who assured him of safety. The Nawab’s troops “had plundered the Europeans of their valuables, but did not ill-treat them........ Suddenly the scene changed. Some European soldiers had made themselves drunk and assaulted the natives. The latter complained to the Nawab, who asked where the Europeans were accustomed to confine soldiers who had misbehaved in any way. He was told in the Black Hole, and.... ordered they should all be confined in it.” [Ibid, I, p. xc.]

Holwell stated in his letter to the Council at Bombay, dated 17 July 1756: “The Resistance we made and the loss they [the Nawab’s officers] suffered so irritated the Nabob that he ordered myself and all the prisoners promiscuously to the number of about 165 or 170 to be crammed altogether into a small prison in the fort called the Black Hole, from whence only about 16 of us came out alive in the morning the rest being suffocated to death.” But pleading that this letter contained some “errors and omissions occasioned by the wretched state” in which he then was, he wrote in his letter to Fort St. George dated 3 August 1756 that he had “over-reckoned the number of prisoners put into the Black Hole and the number of the dead: the former only 146 and the latter 123”, and that he had done injustice to the Nawab by charging him “with designedly having ordered the unheard of piece of cruelty of cramming us all into that small prison”,' ["A cube of about eighteen feet” wrote Holwell. Hill, op. cit., III, p.136. Eighteen feet long and 14 feet wide according to John Cooke. Hill, III, p. 302. C.R. Wilson calculated that the exact dimensions were 18 feet by 14 feet 10 inches. Wilson, Old Fort William in Bengal, II, p. 245.] as he had only passed ‘general’ orders for their imprisonment and his guards perpetrated cruelties on them in a spirit of revenge for the personal losses which they had suffered. [Hill, op. cit. I, p. 186. He expressed a similar opinion in his letter to William Davis, dated 28 February 1757. op, cit., III, p. 134.] Varying statements regarding the number of prisoners and victims are noticed in some other letters also. [Ibid, I, pp. 43-44, 50, 61-62.] It is very doubtful if there could have been as many men in the Fort on the evening of 20 June as Holwell mentioned, after death, desertion and evacuation had reduced the number.

The veracity of Holwell's story of the Black Hole came to be questioned on strong grounds, some time back by two competent and careful writers, Messrs J. H. Little and A. K. Maitra. Mr. Little describes it as a ‘gigantic hoax’. [Bengal: Past and Present, Vol. XII, 1916, pp. 136-71.] Inconsistencies in a large number of contemporary records which cannot be satisfactorily explained, certain contradictions in Holwell’s different accounts, absence of the mention of Holwell’s story in some contemporary official despatches and documents and in the important contemporary histories, written in Persian, and the physical impossibility of a floor area of 267 square feet containing 146 European adults [This was pointed out several years back by Shri Bholanath Chander.] cannot but lead unbiassed students of history to doubt its authenticity.


Trade and Commerce

The correspondence in this volume contains plenty of material relating to the economic condition of the Bengal Subah during a period of transition. Bengal had an extensive and profitable trade with other parts of Asia and also with different Indian provinces. During the first half of the eighteenth century “the balance of trade”, as Dow wrote about 1770, “was against all nations in favour of Bengal; and it was the sink where gold and silver disappeared without the least prospect of return." [Dow, Hindostan (1872 edition). III, p. 1/xii.] We read in an account of 1756 that till then “the Coast of Cormondel and Malabar, the Gulph of Persia and Red Sea, nay even Manilla, China and coast of Africa were obliged to Bengal for taking off their cotton, pepper, drugs, fruits, chauk [shankha], cowrees, tin, tooth-enague etc., as on the other hand they were supplied from Bengal with what they could not well be without, such as raw silk and its various manufactures, opium, vast quantities of cotton cloth, rice, ginger, turmerick, long pepper etc., and all sorts of gruff goods." [Hill, op. cit., III, p. 390.] Wheat and sugar also were exported from Bengal to these Asiatic countries. In 1755 the annual exportation of sugar “was about 50,000 maunds, which yielded a profit of about 50 per cent and the returns for which were generally in specie.” [Milburn, Oriental Commerce, II, p. 270.] From the early years of the 18th century, “forty vessels from five to six hundred tons burden each,” went annually from Bengal to Assam chiefly with salt which produced 200 per cent profit and also articles like betel-nut and tobacco. They brought in exchange silk, lac, muga dhoties (a variety of silk cloth), ivory and. timber. The chief exports of Bengal to Tibet were cotton and silk fabrics, spices, broadcloth, hardware, pearls, coral, amber and chauk (shankha) etc.,

Image

Vamavarti shankh or vamamukhi shankha that open towards left hand. Vamavarti Shankha is a conch shell which is of ritual and religious importance in Hinduism. Vamavarti Shankh shankha is the shell of a species of large predatory sea snail, which lives in the Indian Ocean. A powder made from the shell material is used for increasing beauty and strength. Shankha is blown at the time of worship in Hindu temples and homes.


... and the imports were gold, musk, woollen cloth and tails of cows. But the political upheavals of the mid-eighteenth century and consequent disorders in various quarters, the insecurity of traffic and the enhancement of imposts by independent provincial governments caused a decline in Bengal’s trade, through her own merchants, with other provinces in India and with Asia — a decline from which it never recovered. The attempts of Warren Hastings to revive Bengal’s Asiatic, coastal and inter-provincial trade did not prove successful. Though there were some signs of revival in the different branches of trade towards the close of the 18th century and again in some of the branches temporarily after 1813, these were mostly in the hands of the Europeans and excepting in China trade there was again a progressive decline soon after.

Trade by Europeans was indeed a highly important factor in the economic history of the province. It is well known that the English, the French and the Dutch had carried on active commercial transactions in Bengal for over a century. French trade began to decline after the transfer of Dupleix to Pondicherry in 1741 and its recovery did not become possible because of want of funds and the adverse influences of the rapid political revolutions in Bengal. The Dutch were the most active commercial rivals of the English till the battle of Bedara (1759); indeed for some time during the first half of the eighteenth century their trade seems to have been larger. The Portuguese and the other minor European trading companies (e.g. the Ostend Company) had by then lost whatever influence or interest they had previously possessed in the sphere of Bengal’s trade, though individual Portuguese traders remained there and some of them were at times guilty of piratical practices. The Danes established their factories at Serampore in 1755 and at Patna in 1774-75.

The trade of the English East India Company was gradually growing in spite of the acute competition of the Dutch and some occasional interruptions caused by other factors. Their factories and aurungs [Aurung: The place where goods are manufactured] were scattered throughout the province. The Council in Calcutta exercises strict control over the chiefs and subordinate officers of these factories, and compelled them to furnish securities for their good conduct. The goods sent by them were subject to close scrutiny and those considered of bad quality were sometimes returned with instructions to improve the quality of investments in future.

To procure commodities, the Company sometimes advanced money to dalals, merchants and manufacturers. They were thus “invested with a prior right to the goods for which they contracted, and hence their purchase in India acquired the name of investment.” Usually at the commencement of each year the Council in Calcutta despatched to the respective factories lists of investments to be collected, musters (samples) of raw silk and cotton piece-goods to guide them in selecting goods, and also bullion or money for payment. The Company tried to keep the merchants under effective control by taking securities for the money advanced to them (dadni), exacting penalties for their failure to honour their contracts in time, duly warning them against supplying goods of inferior quality, insisting on settlement of accounts in the English factories, not admitting in this any arbitration by the “subjects of this country,” and sometimes even holding the securities responsible for payment of the dues in arrears. But, in spite of all this, the merchants often failed to supply the full quantity of goods according to the terms of their contracts, and asked for bigger advances. So in June 1753 the Company abandoned the method of procuring investments by entering into contracts with merchants and introduced the practice of getting them direct from the aurangs through their gumashtahs or agents. [Letter to Court, 18 January, 1754.] To meet the growing demand for garhas, the Council in Calcutta permitted the Kasimbazar factory to start some new aurangs at Ilambazar, Nanur, Moortally and Kagram. [Letter to Court, 9 September 1754, para 27.] In conformity with the orders of the Court of Directors the Council in Calcutta encouraged the weavers to settle in the Company’s territory in Calcutta for manufacturing different kinds of cloth. [Letter to Court, 18 January 1754.]

In their letter to the Council of 31 January 1755 the Court of Directors expressed a favourable opinion of the new method of procuring investments and communicated some instructions for the future. The Council in Calcutta were particularly asked to keep careful watch over the conduct of their servants and to form a supervising committee to look after investments in all the factories and aurangs. Such a committee was formed the same year with Roger Drake, the President, Charles Manningham, Richard Becher and William Frankland as its members.

Notwithstanding its temporary success, the new method of procuring investments did not ultimately produce satisfactory results. It vested the gumashtahs and the agents of the Company with powers “which they frequently abused", as Verelst justly tells us, “to their own emolument; and an authority given to enforce a just performance of engagements, became, notwithstanding the utmost vigilance of the higher servants, a source of new oppression." During the post-Plassey period their influence “proved so destructive of industry" that the Council in Calcutta restored “the old method of forming the investment, by contracting solely with merchants, in different parts of the country.” [Verelst, A View of the Rise, Progress and Present State of he English Government in Bengal (1772), p. 85.]

The principal exports of the European companies from Bengal from the middle of the 17th century onwards were cotton and silk piece-goods, raw silk and saltpetre. The expansion of the English Company's trade in cotton and silk piece-goods during the second half of the 17th century excited the jealousy of the silk and cotton manufacturers in England. An Act was accordingly passed by the British Parliament in 1700 to the effect “that from and after the 29th day of September, 1701, all wrought silks, Bengals and stuffs mixed with silk or herba, of the manufacture of Persia, China, or the East Indies; and all calicoes, painted, dyed, printed or stained there, which are or shall be imported into this Kingdom, shall not be worn or otherwise used in Great Britain; and all goods imported after that day, shall be warehoused, and exported again.” Muslins proper and white calicoes, “which did not come under the operation of the above Act were subjected at this time to an import duty of 15 per cent ad valorem." One effect of this Act was that large quantities of white calicoes began henceforth to be imported from India to be printed in England. So Parliament passed another Act in 1720 prohibiting the use or wear of printed calicoes, whether printed in England or in any other place.

The restriction on the import of Indian cotton and silk piece-goods did not, however, greatly affect these industries in Bengal. England was then but one of the many markets of India; and further, the English traders still continued to import Indian cotton and silk goods for re-exportation to other countries, till the high tariffs of the closing years of the 18th century and the early years of the 19th century, the Continental System of Napoleon, and the Industrial Revolution in the West virtually stopped their importation into Great Britain and the Continent. But the import of raw silk by the English Company was encouraged as it was needed in abundance for the growing silk manufactures of England. Murshidabad was the most important centre of sericulture in Bengal, and the factory of the English at Kasimbazar (started about 1658) was very much concerned with the collection of raw silk for the Company’s investment. The Maratha inroads into Bengal during Alivardi’s regime had an adverse influence on production and manufacture of silk and enhanced the prices of raw silk and silk fabrics. Between 1757 and 1765, silk “imported from Bengal rose, on an average, to about 80,340 small pounds of 16 ounces each per annum.” [Milourn, op. cit., II, p. 252.] To effect improvement in the quality of Bengal raw silk, the Court of Directors sent Richard Wilder to Bengal in 1757. For four years Wilder did his best to carry out the orders of his masters and died at Kasimbazar in 1761. Further efforts were made by the Company after the acquisition of the Diwani in 1765 to encourage the production of raw silk in Bengal.

There was a considerable demand for saltpetre by the European companies and a keen competition existed among them for procuring it, chiefly because of its use as an ingredient for manufacture of gunpowder, and also because it was utilised for some subsidiary purposes (glass-making, preserving meat, cooling water and dyeing). It was manufactured abundantly in Bihar. Patna was the chief centre for its distribution, though for its manufacture and collection the Europeans had factories at some other places in Bihar, such as Singhia (near Lalganj in the Hajipur sub-division), Chapra, Chowndey and Fatwa (seven miles east of Patna on the Ganges). The purchases were made through contracts with merchants like Omichand, Dipchand and Khwajah Wajid. The European wars of the mid-eighteenth century led to an increase in the quantity exported. On 24 July 1751 the Council in Calcutta entered into a contract with Omichand for 86,000 maunds of Saltpetre. “In 1755 the quantity of saltpetre offered for sale in England) was 14,747 bags, the whole of which, under the prospect of a war with France, which took place early in 1756, was disposed of.” [Milburn, op. cit., p. 239.] The following year (1756) the Council in Calcutta tried their best to comply with the directions of the Court of Directors to send 2,000 tons of saltpetre from India. In 1758 Clive secured from Mir Jafar a monopoly of saltpetre manufacture and trade in Bihar and thereafter the Dutch and the French had to purchase it from the English factory at Patna at prices fixed by the Council in Calcutta.

The chief articles imported into Bengal by the Dutch from Europe were precious metals, especially silver, and woollen goods. They also imported copper from Japan, tin and spelter from the Malay Peninsula, and pepper, cloves, mace and nutmegs from the islands of the Dutch East Indies. The imports of the English were very similar to those of the Dutch. Between 1708 and 1756, “bullion formed 74 p.c. of their total imports to Bengal.” Their other imports were broadcloth and other woollen goods, lead, iron, tin, copper, quicksilver, stores and provisions and a variety of minor articles including stationery. The Court of Directors, in their “earnestness to promote the consumption of the English manufactures in India to the utmost extent”, [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, para 39.] sent considerable quantities of woollen goods, the prices of which were however very high. This sometimes caused a glut of these articles in the Bengal markets and many remained unsold and overstocked in the warehouses of the Company. Early in 1754 the Council in Calcutta wished to send half of these unsold woollen goods to Bombay to be disposed of “to more advantage”. [Letter to Court, 4 January 1754, para 43.] But Bourchier and his Council at Bombay refused to accept these goods. Notwithstanding this, the Court of Directors being “still desireous of promoting the national advantage and hoping for a favourable turn in the Indian markets” asked the Council in Calcutta to promote the sale of woollen goods to the utmost of their power. [Letter from Court, 29 November 1754, para 26.]

One obnoxious feature in the economic history of Bengal was the private trade of the Company’s servants, the growth of which can be traced from the early years of the Company’s trading activity in India. Even the President of the Council in Calcutta indulged in private trade. The Court of Directors occasionally complained of the evils produced by it to the prejudice of the interests not only of the merchants but also of the Company itself. But the members of the Council in Calcutta, being themselves interested parties, urged its continuance as "a compensation for the low salaries of the Company’s servants, though in fact their lot was not so hard when the purchasing power of money in those days is considered. In some of their letters to the Court they pleaded that they had taken all possible steps to prevent its abuse. But whatever they might have done the evil continued to increase.

One of the pernicious evils was the fraudulent use of dastaks [dusticks: Passes for the river] by the Company’s servants for their private trade and their disposal of these, for some consideration, to Indian merchants. These malpractices which originated in 1704, if not earlier, caused great loss to the Nawab’s exchequer and the local merchants who had to pay customs according to the current rates. The members of the Council in Calcutta had asserted in the days of Shujauddin Muhammad Khan that the farman of Emperor Farrukhsiyar entitled them to use dastaks for their personal trade. But their standpoint was based on an entirely wrong interpretation of this important document. What that farman granted was exemption from the payment of customs on exports and imports of the Company as a corporate body, and vessels conveying goods on behalf of the Company were to carry, for purposes of identification, dastaks, signed by the President of the Council in Calcutta. Farrukhsiyar never intended to extend this privilege to the private trade of the Company’s servants.

Conscious of the evil effects of this practice the Court of Directors often called upon the Council in Calcutta to check them. Most probably as a result the Council took some steps to regulate the use of dastaks, which, however, proved to be ineffective. The Court reiterated their words of caution in this respect in their letter of 31 January 1755. But the abuse of dastaks continued and the results of Plassey tremendously aggravated it.


The English Free Merchants were sometimes rivals of the Company’s servants in the coastal trade. The latter succeeded in driving the former out of Bengal at the beginning of the eighteenth century on the “pretext of avoiding political complications which might arise from the acts of irresponsible persons,” But the Free Merchants were permitted by the Court of Directors in 1713 to trade in Bengal, and thereafter they began to come in large numbers. The Company’s servants regarded a Free Merchant as “an eyesore, as he interfered with the profits of the Company’s servants in trade.’’[Long, Selections from Unpublished Records of Government, Introduction, p. xxv.] In January 1743, John Wood, a Free Merchant, applied for permission to trade, pleading that without it he would be reduced to “the condition of a foreigner, or indeed of the meanest black fellow.” The servants of the Company were opposed to the grant of such a privilege. Holwell observed that the “foreign trade of the settlement is become much too general”, and the Council in Calcutta, while granting a pass to John Wood for one particular vessel, sent a note of protest to the Court of Directors. [Letter to Court, 15 January 1783.]

Industries

The varied industries of Bengal, particularly her cotton and silk industries, largely contributed to her economic prosperity. There were produced “cloths of all kinds, most beautiful muslins, silk raw or worked.” [Hill, op. cit., III, p. 216.] It is worthy of note that Bengal was as much a manufacturing as an agricultural country, and a fair co-ordination between agriculture and industries formed a striking feature of her economic life in those days. [Orme, op. cit., II, p. 4.] It was only when, during the second half of the 18th century and the first three decades of the 19th century, the cotton and silk industries of Bengal declined to the point of extinction owing to various causes, that she was “reduced”, as Henry St George Tucker observed in 1823, “from the state of manufacturing to that of an agricultural country.” [Quoted in R. C. Dutt, The Economic History of India under Early British Rule, p. 262.] The weaving factories were dispersed throughout the province and produced different varieties of cloth. Dacca was the premier centre for the manufacture of fine muslins and cotton cloths of different types. Each variety of muslin was manufactured from “fabrics of three or four assortments or degrees of quality”, which were described in the Company’s factory as ‘ordinary’, ‘fine’, ‘super-fine’ and ‘fine superfine’.

Saltpetre, an important export of the European trading companies, was manufactured in abundance in Bihar. Sugar, manufactured in Bengal, was exported to different Asiatic countries. This profitable trade in sugar, however, declined due to the general economic disorders in Bengal following the battle of Plassey and the competition of Java sugar in the markets of Western India. Some of the subsidiary industries of the province were opium, lac and hand-woven jute. Good guns were also manufactured. Monghyr was an important centre of this industry and Alivardi used a gun manufactured at this place.

From remote antiquity, ship-building was an important industry of India. We have references in the records of the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century to the use of ships built in Bengal and some other places in India for transporting merchandise even overseas. Various causes ultimately brought about the decline of this famous industry in the first quarter of the 19th century.

Prices, Currency and Banking

Prices of articles rose during this period chiefly because of four factors, viz., (a) the frequent Maratha inroads, (b) imposition of high duties on gross sales of the articles of prime necessity, (c) competition among foreign traders and (d) occasional natural calamities like floods, etc. In 1738 nearly three maunds of rice could be purchased for one rupee and one maund of kapas (cotton) for 2 to 2-1/2 rupees. But by 1751 the prices went up by nearly 30 per cent. Then rice began to be sold at the rate of 1 maund 32 seers for 1 rupee 4 annas, grains (pulses) one maund for 1 rupee, wheat 1 maund 32 seers for 1 rupee 4 annas, flour 1 maund 3 seers for 3 rupees, oil 1 maund for 5 rupees. The prices rose further thereafter, and the Company’s Government in Calcutta took some steps to relieve the consequent hardships of the people.

The state of currency in Bengal from the early years of the eighteenth century was complicated. Coins of different mints in India, or coins of different years struck at the same mint, differed in value. “According to the trade usage of each different market they were liable to different rates of discount, and in order to make exchanges possible the values of actual rupees of every kind were expressible in terms of an ideal rupee known as the current or nominal rupee.” [Wilson, Early Annals of the English in Bengal, II, part I, p. liii.] Thus in Bengal at the beginning of the eighteenth century, 100 sicca rupees were equivalent to 112-1/2 current rupees. Subsequently, a hundred newly struck Murshidabad sicca coins were equal in value to 116 current rupees. But after three years of circulation their value diminished to 111 current rupees and they were then known as sanwat rupees. [Verelst, View of the Rise, Progress and Present State of the English Government m Bengal (1772), pp. 94-95.]

At Madras, where the English Company had a mint of their own, variations in the value of the rupee did not prove to be as troublesome as in Bengal. 89-1/2 ounces of dollar silver could always be converted into a little “more than 218 rupees, allowing two per cent for the cost of coining”, [Wilson, op. cit., II, part I, p. liii.] and so long as the Mughal Court was in the south these passed without any difficulty in southern India and in Bengal. But after the death of Aurangzeb, when the Mughal court was transferred to the north, the Bengal Government no longer required Madras rupees for remittance of imperial revenues, and their value in Bengal consequently went down, a high rate of batta (discount) being charged on them. [Letter to Court, 2 January 1752, para 36.] The Company could not now get for its silver the same number of Bengal coins as before. In June 1752, they had to sell bullion to Jagat Seth at 201 sicca rupees for 240 sicca weight and paid to their merchants 106 Madras rupees for 100 siccas “which was the lowest batta they could take them at.” [Letter to Court, 18 September 1752, para 69.] In the beginning of 1753 siccas were not available at less than 111-1/2 Arcot rupees and 109-1/2 Madras rupees for a hundred. [Letter to Court, 1 January 1753, para 8.] A year later the Kasimbazar factory complained of “scarcity of siccas”. [Letter to Court, 4 January 1754, para 68.] In March 1755 the Council in Calcutta noted that there was no demand for bullion. [Letter to Court, 1 March 1755, para 5.]

To prevent new coins from being replaced by old ones in circulation, there was the practice of charging discount or batta on a coin according to the period of its circulation. Further, there was then absolutely no uniformity of currency in Bengal, because, besides the Madras rupees and the Bengal coins, coins of mints situated in other parts of India poured into the province as a result of its having a favourable balance of trade. These coins were very often debased either by the mints or by some interested persons. The shroffs (money-changers) availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by this debasement to charge batta at arbitrary rates for the exchange of such coins. All this must have created disadvantages for the local traders as well as for the Company.

As the proprietor of the premier banking house of the time, Jagat Seth of Murshidabad had considerable influence in the matter of currency. Watts wrote to the Council in Calcutta on 8 February 1753 that he was "the sole purchaser of all the bullion that is imported in this province by which he is annually a very considerable gainer.” For purchase of investments the Council in Calcutta not only received from Bombay and Madras whatever treasure they could spare but also occasionally borrowed money from Jagat Seth and some minor bankers, which they repaid in bullion. [Letter to Court, 22 December 1748, paras 8 and 12; 4 February 1751, paras 72-75; 20 August 1751, paras 77-78.] Cowries formed the lowest medium of exchange in Bengal and were generally used for small transactions.

To avoid the inconveniences arising out of the exchange of bullion the English Company sought the permission of the Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb and Shah Alam I, to establish a mint near their settlement at Fort William on the ground that the mints at Rajmahal, Dacca and Satgaon were far away. [Wilson, op. cit., II, part II, pp. 263 and 276-77. There was a mint at Patna.] But the Mughal Government did not then allow this infringement of one of its sovereign rights. The Company obtained from Emperor Farrukhsiyar permission for free use of the Nawab’s mint at Murshidabad for three days in a week to coin their own bullion. But they could not avail themselves of this permission because of strong opposition from Murshid Quli Jafar Khan. [Wilson, op. cit., II, part II, p. 232; Letter to Court, 31 January 1752 para 77.]

In 1751 the Nawab’s Government ordered that “all money whether bullion or rupees” should be sent to the mint at Murshidabad “to be coined there into Siccas or disposed of to Jugutseat” [Letter to Court, 17 February 1751/2, para 2.] and that the Europeans should not make payments to their merchants in any coins except new siccas. Fearing that the enforcement of this order would prove prejudicial to their interests, the English, French and Dutch companies directed their respective chiefs at Kasimbazar to act “in concert” in this matter and to make a representation to the Nawab’s Government to grant the usual currency to bullion and the different types of coins. This joint action produced the desired effect. The English continued their efforts to obtain permission of the Nawab's Government for establishing a mint in Calcutta, [Letters from Court, 23 January 1754, No. 3, para 57 and No. 4, para 1; Letter to Court, 30 January 1755.] and they ultimately succeeded in getting it from Sirajud Daulah in February 1757.
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Part 1 of 10

Important Facts regarding the East India Company's Affairs in Bengal, from the Year 1752 to 1760. This Treatise Contains an Exact State of the Company's Revenues in that Settlement; With Copies of several very interesting Letters Showing Particularly, The Real Causes Which Drew on the Presidency of Bengal the Dreadful Catastrophe of the Year 1767; and Vindicating the Character of Mr. Holwell From Many Scandalous Aspersions Unjustly Thrown Out Against Him, in an Anonymous Pamphlet, Published March 6th, 1764, Entitled, "Reflections on the Present State of Our East-India Affairs."
from India Tracts
by Mr. J.Z. Holwell, and Friends.
The Second Edition, Revised and Corrected, with Additions.
1767

-- The Black Hole -- The Question of Holwell's Veracity, by J. H. Little, Bengal, Past & Present, Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, Vol. XI, Part 1, July-Sept., 1915
-- Full Proceedings of the Black Hole Debate, Bengal, Past & Present, Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, Vol. XII. Jan – June, 1916
-- A Genuine Narrative of the deplorable Deaths of the English Gentlemen, and Others, who were suffocated in the Black Hole in Fort-William, at Calcutta, in the Kingdom of Bengal; in the Night succeeding the 20th Day of June 1756., In a Letter to a Friend, from India Tracts, by Mr. J.Z. Holwell, and Friends.
-- Interesting Historical Events, Relative to the Provinces of Bengal, and the Empire of Indostan. With a Seasonable Hint and Persuasive to the Honourable The Court of Directors of the East India Company. As Also The Mythology and Cosmogony, Facts and Festivals of the Gentoo's, followers of the Shastah. And a Dissertation on the Metempsychosis, commonly, though erroneously, called the Pythagorean Doctrine. Part II. By J.Z. Holwell, Esq.
-- Forging Indian Religion: East India Company Servants and the Construction of ‘Gentoo’/‘Hindoo’ Scripture in the 1760s, by Jessica Patterson
-- French Jesuits in India and the Lettres Edifiantes, by Jyoti Mohan
-- Claiming India: French Scholars and the Preoccupation with India During the Nineteenth Century, by Jyoti Mohan
-- Natural Theology and Natural Religion, by Andrew Chignell & Derk Pereboom
-- The Enlightenment and Orientalist Discourse on the Aryan, Excerpt from Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity, by Dorothy M. Figueira
-- Ezourvedam: A French Veda of the Eighteenth Century, Edited with an Introduction by Ludo Rocher
-- Holwell's Religion of Paradise, Excerpt from The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


CONTAINING:

I. An Address to the Proprietors of East-India stock; setting forth, the unavoidable Necessity, and real Motives, for the Revolution in Bengal, 1760.

II. A Refutation of a Letter from certain Gentlemen of the Council at Bengal, to the Honorable the Secret Committee.

III. Important Facts regarding the East India Company's Affairs in Bengal, from the Years 1752 to 1760, with Copies of several very interesting Letters.

IV. A Narrative of the deplorable Deaths of the English Gentlemen who were suffocated in the Black Hole in Fort William, at Calcutta, June 1756.

V. A Defense of Mr. Vansittart's Conduct.

ILLUSTRATED WITH: A FRONTISPIECE, representing the Monument erected at Calcutta, in Memory of the Sufferers in the Black Hole Prison.

Image
A View of the Monument. This Horrid Act of Violence was as Amply as deservedly revenged on Surajud Dowwla, by his Majesty's Arms, under the Conduct of Vice Admiral Watson and Col! Clive. Anno, 1757.

TO SIR WILLIAM BAKER, Knt., WILLIAM MABBOT, Esqr. and JOHN PAYNE, Esqr.

GENTLEMEN,

THE following small Tracts, in consequence of unprovoked injuries, were hastily thrown together, during the late clamorous disputes between Directors, Proprietors, and Candidates for the management of East-India affairs at home and abroad.-- How they came to be so hastily produced, and as hastily published, it seems requisite I should explain a little more at large.

At the beginning of these intestine broils, I was determined to avoid engaging on either side; and, to shun solicitation, I disposed of all the stock I stood possessed of', without retaining as much as might entitle me to a single vote; so truly desirous I was to enjoy in quiet that peaceful retirement, I had dearly purchased at the expense of so many difficulties, miseries, and heavy misfortunes as fell to my lot, while in the service of the Company.

Such, I say, were my resolutions, to which I should most strictly have adhered, if I had not found my character first indirectly, afterwards openly attacked, by the basest calumnies which were levelled against me in a manner, sudden, unmerited and unexpected.

UNDER these circumstances, there was a necessity of speaking for myself, and, which was still more unpleasing, I found myself likewise constrained to enter upon my vindication without delay. -- The pungency of these accusations -- the precipitancy of the times, and a disposition to take every thing for granted that was not immediately refuted; obliged me not only to dispatch them as quickly as was possible, but also to produce them in like hurry to the public eye.

IT was from these accidents, which I could not either foresee or avoid, that they came into the world not so well digested, and with much less accuracy, than the candid part of mankind have a right to expect in every production that claims their consideration, and is submitted to their judgment.

To the same causes I may very justly refer those errors of the press, which were in some of them so numerous as scarce to to leave the sense intelligible; to say nothing of other mistakes in orthography and diction, all arising from the utter impossibility of allowing me time requisite to revise and correct the proof sheets.

IT is from a just sense of these involuntary imperfections, that I have been led to review, to reform, and to cast into somewhat a different shape, these little pieces, that were thus exposed; and to render them still clearer and more satisfactory, I have added some other Tracts, which, however reasonable, I had not the leisure to prepare, and which, from my observing the obscurity arising from their Omission, I conceived it my duty to add as soon as opportunity would permit.

My narrative of the fatal catastrophe at Calcutta, and that unexampled scene of horror to which so many subjects of Great Britain were exposed in the prison of the Black-Hole, has so close a connection with one of the pieces that precede it, has scarce to require an apology for reprinting it in this edition; prefixing, as a frontispiece to the Volume, a Print of the Monument which I erected, at my own expense, to the memory of those unhappy sufferers.

MANY, if not most of the matters contained in these sheets, are to you, Gentlemen, very well known, as having been often the subject of your deliberations; and, therefore, to whom could I so properly address them as to yourselves? -- Two of you first incited my endeavors, and directed my labors for the Company's interest. -- Mr. Payne, with the same distinguished zeal, encouraged and supported them; a zeal truly disinterested, for I was a stranger to you all; so that you could have no motive to the favor you bestowed, and the protection you so generously afforded me, except the warm and pure regard which you ever showed, rather than professed, for that respectable body, whose concerns were then committed to your care.

You have, Gentlemen, frequently done me the honor to say, I did not disgrace your patronage, or disappoint your favorable expectations: to me this was the most ample reward -- but I could not help thinking there yet remained something due on my part; and that I ought to attempt the justifying your choice to the knowing, the ingenuous, and the judicious world.

This became more especially incumbent on me, when I found Envy and Malice arraign the character of him, whom you had espoused, and whom you had so long honored with your friendship. -- This, I thought, I could not better effect than by publishing the following Pieces.

WITH all possible submission, I lay them in their new dress before you, as thereby I am favoured with what I have long and ardently wished, an opportunity of giving this public testimony of a grateful heart, for the many and repeated proofs I have received of your respectable patronage.

I am, GENTLEMEN, Your most obliged, and most obedient humble servant,

J.Z. HOLWELL.

Mount Felix, Walton upon Thames, July 3, 1764.

***

Explanation of Certain Persian and Moorish Terms in the Following Sheets.

A.
Amdanny and Russtanny: Imports and Exports.
Arzgee: A Peitition.
Arzdasht: Idem.
Assammees: Dealers in different Branches of Trade.

B.
Banka Bazar: Formerly the Ostend Factory.
Begum: Princess, meaning without Care.
Buxey: A Paymaster of Troops.
Buckserrias: Foot-Soldiers whose common Arms are Sword and Target only.

C.
Chowkeys: Guards at the Stars, or Landing-places.
Chinam: Lime.
Cossid: A Foot-messenger, or Post.
Chubdaar: An Usher.
Cooley: A Porter.
Chout: A Fourth Part.
A Coss, or Corse: A Measure from two Miles to two Miles and Half.
A Corore of Rupees: An hundred Lack, or one Million Sterling.

D.
Dewan: King's Treasurer.
Dewanny: Superintendancy over the Royal Revenues.
Dussutary: An Impost of ten per Cent.
Durbar: Court or Council, and sometimes a Levee only.
Decoyt: A Robber.
Dummadah: A River.

F.
Fowzdar: A Military Officer.

G.
Gomastah: Factor or Agent.
Gwallers: Carriers of Palanquins.
Gunge: Grain Market.

H.
Hackeries: Carts or Coaches drawn by Oxen.
Harkarahs: Spies.

J.
John Nagore: A Village so called.
Jaggemaut: The Gentoo Pagoda.
Jemmautdaar: An Officer of the same Rank with the Roman Centurion.

M.
Mackulka: An Obligation with a Penalty annexed.
Moonskee: A Persian Secretary.
Musnud: Throne.
Moories: Writers.
Maund: A gross Weight between 70 and 80 Pounds.

N.
Negrai: A new Settlement at one of the Pegu Islands.
Nobut: A Drum, a mark of Royalty assumed by the Subahas of Bengal.

P.
Perwannah: An Order or Command, sometimes a Grant.
Purranea: In the Province of Bengal; a Nabobship subordinate to the Suba.
Phirmaund: A Royal Mandate, or Grant.
Pykes: Officers relative to the Service of the Lands.
Ponsways: Guard-Boats.
Podor or Shreff: A Money-changer.
Peons: Infantry.
Pottahs: Grants.
Pondary, Foorea: Farmers distinct Allowances on Grain at the Gunge.

R.
Rumnah: District for the Royal Game.

S.
Seer, Chetac, Maund: Forty Seer is one Maund, and sixteen Chetac one Seer.

T.
Telinga: The Carnatic Country on the Coast of Coromandel.
Tanksal: A Mint for Coinage.
Tanners and Buzbudgea: Forts on the River Ganges.
Tunkabs: Assignments upon Lands.
Tuzsaconna, Ginanah: Wardrobe and Seraglio.

V.
Vaqueel: English Agent or Resident at the Nabob's Court.
Vizerut: The Grant for the Visiership.

W.
Wazeed: A considerable Mahometan Merchant who resided at Houghley upon the Ganges.

Z.
Zemin: Ground; Zemindary; Relative to Lands.

***

An Address To the Proprietors of East India Stock; Setting Forth the Unavoidable Necessity and Real Motives for the Revolution in Bengal, in 1760.
by John Zephaniah Holwell, Esq.

**********************

Mr. Holwell's Refutation of a Letter from certain Gentlemen of the Council at Bengal, to the Honorable the Secret Committee. Serving As a Supplement to His Address to the Proprietors of East-India Stock.

**********************

Important Facts regarding the East India Company's Affairs in Bengal, from the Year 1752 to 1760. This Treatise Contains an Exact State of the Company's Revenues in that Settlement; With Copies of several very interesting Letters Showing Particularly, The Real Causes Which Drew on the Presidency of Bengal the Dreadful Catastrophe of the Year 1767; and Vindicating the Character of Mr. Holwell From Many Scandalous Aspersions Unjustly Thrown Out Against Him, in an Anonymous Pamphlet, Published March 6th, 1764, Entitled, "Reflections on the Present State of Our East-India Affairs."

To the Proprietors of East-India Stock, and The Public.

The anonymous Pamphlet, published Tuesday the 6th of March 1764, under the title of "Reflection on the present State of our East-India Affairs," being plainly calculated to answer the purpose of a day only; it should seem hardly worthy your notice: nor indeed should we have thought it worth ours, did it not afford us a favorable opportunity of laying open some material facts, which we think claim your attention, and will deserve your thanks.

The title-page of this Pamphlet says it is wrote "By a Gentleman long resident in India;" but surely no Gentleman could fall so much below that character, as this anonymous author does, in low personal abuse and scurrility; though the obvious venom of the heart that dictates through the whole, will defend against its influence and intended impressions. -- We rather think, from the mixed style, that this production is the joint efforts of two small geniuses; the one, pert, coxcomical, affecting wit and metaphor; the other, of meager, dusky aspect, stalking forth with pompous diction! sounding epithets! long-winded, metaphorical bombast! and tedious declamations! -- From the bilious complexion of this Shakespeare's Cassius, what can flow, but envy, rancor, and bitterest reflection? Whether these things clubbed their geniuses, or transfused each to other his spirit for this paltry talk, is not very material; -- none but they, or such-like, could surely be capable of such a performance.

Whatever may have been the Author's intention by the exordium, labored progress, and conclusion of this anonymous Pamphlet, the whole of this unconnected piece seems huddled together, more particularly to introduce the personal attack in the center; against this attack we shall chiefly raise our batteries, -- previously demolishing some of their scattered out-works, (unsupported by each other) as they fall in our way, and intercept our march.

The false and scandalous lights which Anonymous throws on the motives that induced Col. Clive's successor to form some change in the political state at Bengal, are so fully confuted in that Gentleman's Address to you, that nothing more is wanted here, to enforce conviction to honest impartiality. The partial and malicious are not to be convinced by facts or argument; indeed it makes not for their present purpose to own it, though they are: To these we do not write. These are hardy enough to charge this Gentleman (page 37) with forming a scheme to depose Mhir Jaffier, in favor of Mhir Cossim, "almost as soon as he came to power;" though he has proved, beyond contradiction, that he supported Mhir Jaffier with spirit and perseverance, as long as there was a remaining possibility of doing it, almost to the ruin of your affairs; so tenacious was he of the treaty subsisting between the English and Mhir Jaffier, even though he had violated every article of it, in effect, by the single step of bringing the Dutch troops into his dominions. This Gentleman has also undeniably proved, that his views for the Company's benefit extended much higher than the system of "Nabob changing," which, he saw, could produce no solid and lasting advantage, either to the Company or the Provinces. And he has likewise demonstrated, that he had neither any hand in, nor intention, or wish, to depose Mhir Jaffier in favor of Mhir Cossim; but on the contrary, took every precaution, which his then scanty power gave him, for the security of the dignity, person, and property of the former, however little he deserved it.

The partisans of Mhir Jaffier have very studiously evaded owning the charge against him, of bringing in the Dutch forces, foreseeing that would silence every attempt urged in justification of him; but here truth and conscience for once steps in between them and their machinations, and makes them unwarily give up the point, in the following words, page 30, "He was not unacquainted with the designs of the Dutch, and would not have been sorry to have seen an European force introduced into his dominions, to prove a check on the power of those, likely to become his masters instead of his allies. However, his deep respect and awe of Colonel Clive, prevented his acting openly upon this occasion." Here, let it be also remarked, that these partisans, in page 19, set forth, that "This Nabob was supported with honor by his maker, so long as he continued in India." The battle of Plassey gave this man the Subaship in June, 1757. In October, 1758, or thereabouts, he must have planned his iniquitous scheme with the Dutch; as about this time a small vessel was dispatched express to Batavia, and our armament for the Southward was on its departure. That the Dutch would have meditated a scheme of this kind, without the encouragement and participation of the Suba, no one in his senses can believe. Here we see this man hardly established in his government, planning to destroy and countermine that power which raised him; and this without any shadow of complaint against us, for he had been supported with honor. His being only acquainted with the designs of the Dutch, without communicating those designs to us, his allies, was virtually a breach and violation of that whole treaty he had so solemnly entered into. That he did not act openly on this occasion, was owing only to his fears, and the deepest treachery both to the Dutch and us. If the Dutch had proved successful in the river, and on the plains of Bederra, we should soon have felt the effects of his open conduct, and not an individual of the colony had escaped slaughter. Let it be remembered too, that by Col. Clive's orders, Coja Wazzeed (a man of family, character, and rank) was taken prisoner, on his passage from Moorshadabad to Chinsura, brought under a strong guard to Fort William, imprisoned there, and died under his confinement. So extraordinary a step would want justification, had not the Colonel received the fullest proof and conviction, that this man (though a pretended friend to the English) was the negotiator with the Suba, on the part of the Dutch, in the treaty for bringing in their forces. In short, let the whole of this transaction be viewed in any light whatever, it would, if these partisans had a grain of modesty and candor among them, utterly silence every plea they have urged in his defense, and pretended commiseration for his misfortunes, thrown out at this period only to answer a poor unworthy purpose.

Page 31 of this Pamphlet exhibits the following: "The superiority of this extraordinary genius, (Col. Clive) predominated so far over that of the Nabob, that when he quitted India, he left this Prince in such a state of dependence, and the affairs of the English in such an exalted and powerful situation, that even the Kites and Owls that followed, had it in their power to gorge themselves with that prey (M. J.) which being beat down, was at the mercy of, though spared by, this generous Eagle." -- Oh! metaphor! how art thou tortured! how art thou prostituted! Let us examine a little what mercy this poor prey found, and how spared, by this generous Eagle? It is confessed, page 19, "that Mhir Jaffier distributed among his new allies all the treasures of his predecessor, and mortgaged two of his richest provinces to them, for the payment of a farther sum," besides "large tracts of land to the Company;" the rents of which were first paid by the Company to him, and subsequently given to this generous Eagle. Such was the mercy he found, and thus was he spared.

It may be said this Eagle raised the game, and had a right to beat it down as low as he pleased. Suppose it so; let us see the consequences.

Mhir Jaffier, thus stripped, had better never been born, or at least never raised to this dignity; for having no treasures of his own, and but small present resources from the revenues of his country, the foundation was here laid of all his future misfortunes. His supplies not being equal to the support of his extravagancies, the pay of his troops, and other absolutely-necessary calls of his government, and he finding himself incapable of relinquishing or retrenching his licentious expenses, his affairs fell into that state of ruin and confusion so justly painted by Mr. Holwell in his Address. So that (to pursue this notable metaphor) you see, after all, if the poor Kites and Owls that followed this generous Eagle had been an hungered, there was nothing left for them to gorge, but the bare bones of the prey.

With regard to the exalted and powerful situation of the Company's affairs, as pompously recited in the foregoing quotation, the real fact stands thus: When Col. Clive left Bengal, your Treasury was at a very low ebb, and further supplies cut off, before he was well out of the river; but of this you have been sufficiently informed in the Address above referred to. And as to "Col. Clive's extraordinary genius predominating so far above that of the Nabob's," we think Mhir Jaffier's introduction of the Dutch forces affords no proof of it.

Leaving the other parts of this Pamphlet to the plain and natural conclusions and sentiments of the Public, we proceed, pursuant to our Titlepage, in our promised justification, from materials left with us by this Gentleman on his last departure for India, and others transmitted by him after his arrival there; in the course of which many important circumstances and facts will occur, worthy your consideration, which will throw a new light on some interesting periods in your affairs, and at the same time manifest and illustrate the great and eminent services this Gentleman has rendered you; services so striking, that, though they never obtained common justice or gratitude, from your Court of Directors at home, yet gained him the public thanks of your Bengal Presidency on your behalf, even after he was superseded in the government of your affairs. This Pamphlet is not the only instance of party rage, whereby this Gentleman has been basely traduced, and by some even of those in your Direction, who had set their hands to higher encomiums on Mr. Holwell's integrity and abilities, than had ever before been bestowed on any one in your service, and without any the least shadow of cause to impeach his conduct, or alter these favorable sentiments of him. Mr. Holwell himself disdains a reply to the several low attacks, made by malice and envy on his reputation: but on us his friends, it is incumbent, and we hope hereby to atone for our neglect of not doing it long ago, and own our obligation to this anonymous Writer, for giving us so favorable an opportunity.

To clear up, and explain many passages, touching men and things, we think it necessary to introduce our defense, with an account of the disputes in Leadenhall-street, at the latter end of the year 1757, and beginning of 1758; when this Gentleman unhappily (for himself) became the object of contention between two parties in your Court of Directors, and fell a sacrifice to the perseverance of his (and we may truly say your) friends. This just detail was then drawn up by one, minutely acquainted with the concealed, as well as open springs of action at that period, in manner following:

***

NARRATIVE of the Domestic Wars in Leadenhall-Street, from October 1757, to the 20th of April, 1758

Like Homer, and other recorders of battles, we will begin with a list of the combatants; it will save some trouble in the course of the engagement.

Messrs. PAYNE, Chairman.
2 Burrow
3 Jones
4 John Raymond
5 Sir James Creed
6 Saunders
7 Western
8 Jones
9 Browne
10 Dorrien
11 Stevens
12 Manship
13 Hadley
14 Chambers
15 Impey
16 Sullivan, Deputy
17 Godrrey
18 Plant
19 Dudley
20 Savage
21 Tullie
22 Gough
23 Phipps
24. Rous


It was not without much previous debate, heat, and animosity, that the above Gentlemen came unanimously into a scheme for the government of Bengal, by a rotation of four, to wit, Messrs. Watts, Manningham, Becher, and Holwell. The plan was designed as a temporary expedient only, until further advices from Calcutta; the Hardwick carried out these determinations, signed by the whole court, under date the 11th of November, 1757, and harmony seemed again to be established. A general reform of the settlement of Fort William was next taken into consideration, planned and adjusted at various meetings, consisting only of the two chairs, Mr. Holwell and the Secretary. During these operations, Discord again began to exert her influence; and entering the breasts of the Bombay faction, who she knew were ripe for her purpose, urged them to move and insist that another Gentleman should be appointed to succeed to the rotation of four, in case of death or absence. The Bombay faction, consisting of the Deputy Chair, and the eight immediately following him on the above list, (acting under their General L--w) carried their point in the Committee of Correspondence, by a majority of 6 to 3, Sir James Creed and Governor Saunders being absent. The next Court-day Mr. Payne brought the affair before a full court, where the resolution of the Correspondence was over-ruled by a majority of 15 to 9, as being not only contrary to the determinations unanimously signed to by the Hardwick, but also to the very principle and motives, which urged those determinations. From this hour Peace took her flight from Leadenhall-street, Civil War took place, and Discord reigned with uninterrupted sway.

This defeat of the minority was far from discouraging them. They now, under the auspices of their General, (who was most active behind the curtain) planned a stroke at the rotation itself, which they intended to execute at the next Quarterly General Court; but advices of the revolution in favor of Jaffier Aly Cawn arriving about this time, gave them a plausible opportunity to attempt abolishing the rotation in the Court of Directors, without waiting for the Quarterly General Court. Accordingly, when the Court of Directors met to confer on the advices they had received of the revolution, and unanimously determined to make a compliment of the government of Bengal to Col. Clive during his residence in India, the Bombay faction moved, "that the important change in their affairs at Bengal, made the expedient of the rotation no longer needful, but that Mr. Watts should be appointed to succeed the Colonel."

The majority of 15 (as they stand prior on the list) urged on the contrary, "that as the change regarded the situation of their affairs only, without any sufficient proofs transmitted to them, that gave any more favorable impression of individuals in their service, they judged it premature to make as yet any further alterations in the government of Bengal, the same causes still subsisting which first urged the expedient of the rotation."

This difference of views and sentiments occasioned debates to run to the most violent heights, in the course of which the majority lost all regard to decency and manners; to put a stop to which the Chairman put the question, "Whether Col. Clive should be appointed to the government of Bengal, and the rotation of 4 take place on his absence, as before appointed?" On this, fresh feuds arose; the Bombay faction insisting that the question should be divided. This was opposed by the Chairman, and brought on the previous question, which being put, it was carried against a division of the question 15 to 9. On this the minority no longer observed any measures; Messrs. Sullivan, Godfrey, Phipps, and Plant, quitted the Court, and the rest of the faction refused to ballot.

The majority however proceeded to business, and unanimously appointed the Colonel to the government, and the rotation to take place on his absence. The general letter containing this resolution, and the other general reform of the settlement, was signed the eighth of March, by the 15 only, the minority refusing to sign.

The faction, not a whit dismayed at these repeated defeats, "but, like Anteus, gathering strength from blows," had now recourse to their expedient of the Quarterly General Court, and began to beat up for volunteers amongst the Proprietors. Their General took up his residence, in a manner, for many days in the city, and went about begging single votes, in which he was most industriously followed by his Mirmidons; whilst the majority of 15, conscious of the propriety and integrity of their own conduct, made it a point not to speak to a Proprietor on the subject: A maxim (in politics) founded on a false principle; for when a body of men in power are conscious of the rectitude of their intentions, in any measure adopted for the good of the community, it is incumbent on them to secure that measure by every means possible. This error in judgment of the majority, gave the greatest advantage to the minority. The majority likewise rested in a false security, that a Quarterly General Court, which was not summoned on special affairs, could not go into any matters, but what were regularly brought before them and specified in their summons, the same having no precedent, and being contrary to all propriety, as well as the established laws of the Court; in which, however, they found themselves mistaken. Thus the minority came to the Quarterly Court fully prepared, and with their united force; whilst the majority came totally unprepared, and without any force at all.

Here it is necessary to recite a circumstance, which greatly favored this attempt of the minority. The rotation was as little relished by the bulk of the Proprietors, without knowing why, or wherefore, as by themselves: It was (as before hinted) with much difficulty that the Bombay faction were brought to assent to it at first, and they were now determined to abolish it, though, with it, they abolished the power, and every effectual authority of a Court of Directors.

The indefatigable activity of the minority, and inactivity of the majority, produced each their adequate effects at the Quarterly Court. The usual business and forms over, Mr. Law began the attack by an invective against the rotation, as being a strange, motley, many-headed monster, in which he was seconded by Mr. Phipps, supported by Mr. P. Godfrey, in a written speech, which he desired permission to read.

The Chairman, in a short, but strong speech, urged "The irregularity of the Quarterly Court's entering into special affairs, for which they were not summoned; and that a procedure of this kind must have fatal consequences, and end in the utter subversion of the government of the Company's affairs; that the Court of Directors, not suspecting such unprecedented attempts, were not prepared to lay before the Court the reasons which moved them to adopt the expedient now objected to. That the Proprietors had a right to demand a General Court, which he was ready to summon on the shortest warning, and that such their reasons should then be submitted to their consideration."

When the Chairman had ended his speech, Mr. Alexander Hume took up the same side of the question, and moved to adjourn; in which he was seconded by Sir Alexander Grant and a few others, and the question for adjournment being put, it was carried in the negative almost unanimously, but with unheard of clamor and indecency. They then proceeded, in the same temper, to demand the questions should be put, "Whether the rotation of four should be abolished, and the government of Bengal be conducted by a single Governor and Council as heretofore?" And both questions were in like manner carried in the affirmative, Mr. Law and the Court declaring, it was not their intention to interfere in the appointment of such Governor and Council, which they left entirely to the choice of the Court of Directors; and with this gracious indulgence the Quarterly Court broke up: and the minority, as they thought, gained a complete triumph.

Thus a measure adopted and assented to at the beginning by the whole Court of Directors, and subsequently supported and confirmed by a majority of fifteen, became condemned and abolished, from the minds of the Proprietors being poisoned by every artful insinuation against it, without once hearing a single reason or plea in its defense.

The Minority, notwithstanding their triumph at the Quarterly Court, apprehensive they should gain little by it, whilst the majority of the Court of Directors were against them, began to work with other tools; and agreed to make any concession to Mr. Payne and his friends, provided they would relinquish the single point of Mr. Holwell's having a share in the government of Bengal: It was proposed that he should have rank next to Mr. Becher, with the Chiefship of Cossimbuzar; be one of the Select Committee, and have any emoluments appointed for him, that himself or friends would desire; or if these were not acceptable, that he should be sent to Bombay to succeed Mr. Bourchier, or be appointed Deputy-governor of Fort St. David, and to succeed next to Mr. Orme, who was appointed to succeed Mr. Pigot.

These alternatives were at different times intimated to Mr. Payne and the Majority, (the first before the rotation was fixed, the others after it was abolished) who were steadfast in this reply, "That however Mr. Holwell's services and sufferings merited the notice of the Company, the real interest of their affairs was their first object, and not Mr. Holwell's emoluments: That his abilities would be of more use to the Company at Bengal than elsewhere; and that the exigencies of their affairs required his having a share in the government of them."


The Majority of fifteen, thinking themselves most injuriously treated by the Minority, and proceedings of the quarterly general Court, were loud in their resentments; and having resolved on a plan for their future conduct, the Chairman summoned a full Court for the appointment of a successor to Colonel Clive, to meet on the 23d of March. The Minority, in the meantime, were assiduous to take off a sufficient number of the Majority, and thought they had succeeded.

It is not difficult to conceive in what temper the Court met. As soon as the Chairman had opened the cause of their meeting, the merits of their servants at Bengal became the subject of debate, and much altercation ensued, not worth reciting. Mr. Peter Godfrey moved, that their servants should be balloted for according to their ranks in the service, beginning with Mr. Watts; in which he was seconded by Mr. Sullivan, and some others of the Minority. This motion was opposed by Mr. Robert Jones, or Mr. Jones Raymond, (which we cannot recollect) who moved that Mr. Holwell should be first balloted for. Both motions being seconded, brought on the previous question, which was carried in favor of the last motion. Accordingly they proceeded to the ballot, and Mr. Holwell was elected to succeed Colonel Clive in the government of Bengal, fifteen to nine.

This proved a thunderbolt to the Minority, who now found that their violences had promoted, in a higher degree, the very man they had so much labored to debase. The Deputy Chairman, with the rest of the Minority, made a motion as if they intended to quit the Court; but the former being requested by the Chairman to suspend his resolution and judgment, produced the following letters, which Mr. Holwell had sent into Court to him.
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To John Payne, Esq.; Chairman.

23d March, 1758.

"Sir,

SOME of my friends flatter me, that the appointment of a successor to Colonel Clive in the Government of Bengal, may probably fall on myself: Should this be the case, I then take the liberty to request, you will please to present the enclosed Address to the Honorable the Court of Directors. Should the information of my friends prove groundless, the enclosed then becomes impertinent and useless; and as such I beg the favor you will return it to, Sir, Your, &c.

J. Z. H."

***

To the Honorable the Court of Directors, &c.

"May it please your Honors,

UNDERSTANDING this day is appointed for the election of a President and Governor of Bengal, in succession to Colonel Clive, and learning from the information of my friends, there is a probability your choice may fall upon myself; that steady zeal for the Company's interest, which has ever been the guide of my actions and sentiments, since I had the honor of your service, now urges me to address you with that humble freedom, which my duty dictates, at this critical conjuncture of your affairs in that part of the world.

"During the heaviest weight of my misfortunes and distresses, I had yet comfort in the reflection of having done my duty in the trusts reposed in me, but more so, that my conduct was honored with the repeated approbation and sanction of your Honorable Court.

"In the execution of trust, it has ever been an inviolable maxim with me, that private interest should ever give way to the public utility; a maxim I have often sealed to, in your service, though to my own cost; a maxim, which now leads me, contrary to my own private weal, to prevent, if possible, your taking any measure which may, in its consequences, deprive you of one of the most valuable servants you have abroad.

"In the course of your affairs, although I have sometimes differed in opinion from Mr. Manningham, yet I have ever had the highest opinion of that gentleman's integrity and abilities, and have not failed doing honor to both on every occasion; for the truth of which I can appeal to some gentlemen who constitute your Honorable Court, and to many others, who were lately members of it.

"Permit me, Gentlemen, to represent to you, that a servant of Mr. Manningham's character and capacity is not every day to be met with, nor can be parted with at this period, without a certain injury to your affairs: A disregard of his merits, will, in all likelihood, determine his return to Europe; the contrary will as probably determine his stay; and may not only lay a foundation for harmony at home, but for success abroad.

"These considerations, and these only, move me humbly to request, that should the voice of your Honorable Court be in my behalf, I may then be permitted, with thanks and gratitude, and without offense, to decline the honor you intend me, in favor of Mr. Manningham, under whom I am most ready and willing to serve the Honorable Company, as long as his residence in India may be consistent with his health or inclination. I am,

May it please your Honors, &c.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 1758.

J. Z. H."

***

When Mr. Holwell's Letter was read, the Minority attempted to look wise, shook their heads, and declared they would ballot no more. The Chairman put the question, "Whether the court should proceed to a new ballot in consequence of Mr. Holwell's letter?" which being agreed to, without a ballot, they proceeded, and Mr. Manningham was elected to succeed Colonel Clive, by fourteen only, one of the fifteen having thrown in a negative. The fifteen then balloted for a successor to Mr. Manningham, when Mr. Holwell was unanimously chosen, and Mr. Becher to succeed him: And here the Court stopped.

From the whole tenor of the proceedings of the Minority, it must appear to an impartial eye, that they were actuated by pride, violence, personal connections, and personal resentments, and by their conduct struck at the very principle and foundation of all government, hence they acquired the title of "the Faction," (a circumstance we thought necessary to explain, lest we should be thought to have bestowed it on them in this our narrative only.) They seemed to think they had a right to over-rule the sentiments and resolves of a majority of near two to one against them; or failing here, to throw the affairs of the community they had in trust, into the utmost confusion and difficulties; and this at a time, when dispatch, harmony, and unanimity, were essential to the well-being (we may say, the very being) of the Company: and when examples of this kind were so necessary at home, to influence the same salutary conduct in their servants abroad, which they themselves had, in their letter by the Hardwick, inculcated and commanded in the most lively and enforcing terms that language could dictate. The Minority, in consequence of their late defeat, had several private meetings with their General, where it was resolved, as their last resource, to form a Proprietors list of Directors for the ensuing year, in opposition to the House list. Consistent with this resolution, the Deputy Chair and the Minority agreed, that they would not meet the Court, nor assist at forming the House list as usual. The Majority, on this message, met immediately, formed their list, and had it published a day before the Proprietors list came out.

Had the Majority continued the same vigilance in securing the election of their list, they could not have failed effecting it; but here they continued in the same error, and false punctilio of honor, which had occasioned their defeat at the Quarterly General Court; until roused by the activity both public and private of the Minority, they thought it necessary to exert themselves, when it was too late. Had they begun twenty-four hours sooner, they would have carried their whole list, and the Minority, to a man, had quitted the direction. The last defeat they received was on the 23d of March, from which time they had labored, without ceasing. The election was to come on the 5th of April, and it was the second, before the Majority attempted to solicit a single vote.

Mr. Holwell arrived the 2d of April at Portsmouth, where he received the result of the General Court, which did not break up until two in the morning of the 6th, when the following Gentlemen were declared duly elected:

Messrs. W. Barwell*
H. C. Boulton*
John Boyd
John Brown
Chr. Burrow*
Sir James Creed
Charles Cutts*
Roger Drake, Deputy*
John Dorrien
George Dudley
H. Hadley
John Harrison
John Manship
N. Newnham *
H. Plant*
T. Phipps*
F. Pigou
John Raymond
Giles Rook
J. Rous*
H. Savage
G. Stevens
L. Sullivan, Chairman*
T. Tullie*


By the election of this list, the late Minority gained a sure Majority, both in Court and in the Committee of correspondence, the members of which are marked *: They lost no time in exercising their new acquired power, in a manner quite consistent with their former violence: They met the 6th, when, after electing their Chairman and Deputy, and appointing the several Committees, Captain Tullie moved, that an express should be immediately dispatched to Portsmouth, to stop the Warren and London, until further orders. This was strenuously opposed by Mr. Drake and others; but was however carried, on a ballot, in the affirmative, fourteen to eight; upon which the following Gentlemen entered a strong protest on the behalf of the Company, against the injurious detention of their ships so late in the season, and when convoy for them was procured with so much difficulty: viz.

Messrs. Drake
Burrow
Newnham
Brown
John Raymond
Hadley
Dorrien
Stevens


These Gentlemen would have been joined by Sir James Creed and Mr. Manship; but the one was confined by the gout, and Mr. Manship's sister lay dead in his house. The express reached Portsmouth the 7th, in the morning, just as the Warren and London were going to sail, under convoy of the Eagle man of war, and Bonetta sloop. It was pretty obvious that Mr. Holwell needed not any very great foresight to predict what would follow, with respect to himself, expecting the utmost effect of united malice and power.

The resolution of detaining the ships being carried, the Chairman proposed proceeding immediately to business; this was opposed and objected to by Messrs. Drake and Newnham, who urged, that as they could not possibly be supposed acquainted with the grounds, which had occasioned the division between the late Court of Directors, they insisted on reasonable time being given them to consider the subject. This request was, after very high debate, granted, and the 11th appointed for taking into consideration the Bengal dispatches by the Warren and London. Accordingly, like so many Caesars, they came, they saw, they conquered:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a laugh with a television news reporter moments after hearing deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been killed.

"We came, we saw, he died," she joked when told of news reports of Qaddafi's death by an aide in between formal interviews.

The reporter asked if Qaddafi's death had anything to do with her surprise visit to show support for the Libyan people.

"No," she replied, before rolling her eyes and saying "I'm sure it did" with a chuckle.

-- Clinton on Qaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died", by Corbett Daly


For the Chairman, as soon as they were met, produced a short general letter, which he had already prepared for the purpose, consisting of four or five paragraphs only: High opposition arose to this letter from the eight protestors, but it availed little, for the whole received the sanction of the fourteen, and passed into a law, and arrived at Portsmouth the 12th of April. The purport of this general letter take as follows.

"That having maturely weighed and considered the conduct and merit of individuals, they annul and make void every appointment by the Hardwick's letter of the 11th November, with those by the Warren and London, of the 8th and 23d of March, (Colonel Clive excepted) and do now constitute and appoint the establishment of their Presidency of Calcutta. To wit,

Colonel Clive, President and Governor,
William Watts, Esq; 2d, and to succeed Colonel Clive,
Major Kilpatrick, 3d.
Charles Manningham, Esq; 4th, and to succeed. Mr. Watts.
Mr. R. Becher, Esq., 5th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. P. R. Pearkes, Esq., 6th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. William Frankland, Esq., 7th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. M. Collett, Esq., 8th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. J. Z. Holwell, Esq., 9th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. William Macket, Esq., 10th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. Peter Amyat, Esq., 11th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. Thomas Boddam, Esq., 12th, to rise and succeed in turn.
Mr. Richard Court, Esq., 13th, to rise and succeed in turn.


"They likewise revoke and annul all and every nomination to Chiefships, Posts, &c. in their letter of the 8th of March, leaving such appointments to the Board; with this caution, that capable and faithful servants be sent to Cossimbuzar, best known and most agreeable to the Nabob.

"They appoint the Select Committee to consist of Messrs. Clive, Watts, Manningham, Becher, and Major Kilpatrick for the time being. Vacancies in this Committee to be filled up by the President and Members. They also advise, that the Secret Committee at home, consists of Messrs. Sullivan, Drake, Burrow, Newnham, and Plant, any three of whom are a quorum.

Signed,

Sullivan,
Cutts,
Harrison,
Boyd,
Rous,
Boulton,
Dudley,
Phipps,
Pigou,
Savage,
Tullie,
Plant,
Rooke,
Barwell.

N.B. The other ten refused to sign.

***

REFLECTIONS.

The Colonel, in all probability, has, or is near upon leaving India; Messrs. Watts, Manningham, and Becher, by the restitution of private property, and their other late extraordinary acquisitions, will, it is likely, soon follow him; in which case it is worth remarking, where the succession takes place, by the foregoing destination; and we leave it to the world to form natural and obvious conclusions therefrom.

With respect to Mr. Holwell, we cannot help observing, that the Majority of the present Court have not preserved even that mask of equity, which they pretended was the rule of their actions: They have given every writer that remained with him in the fort when Calcutta was attacked, two years of his time in recompense of his perseverance and sufferings. His perseverance was surely equal to theirs, and his suffering eminently superior, and merited some distinction and favor, though ever so small; in place of which, they have stripped him of the post and emoluments they had before appointed him to.

The rash proceeding of the present Majority, in detaining two of the Company's ships "to gratify private resentment," made a great clamor in the city, and alarmed their best friends amongst the Proprietors; and when their other alterations became public, that not only Mr. Holwell was set aside, but Mr. Manningham also, and that the late Majority had resolved to demand a general Court, the clamor still increased, at the other end of the town, as well as in the city.

The phrase of "gratifying private resentments," came originally from the Ministry; upon the applications of Messrs. S--n and B--n, for other convoy, which was refused for some time, Lord Anson telling them, that "in place of laboring for the interest of the Company and the Nation, their sole aim seemed to be the gratifying their private resentments, distressing his Majesty's service, and embroiling their Constituents affairs."

How these intestine feuds in Leadenhall-Street must affect the public weal of the Company, and in them the Nation, is but too obvious. The future authority of a Court of Directors can have no estimation, as their orders and resolutions for the government of their affairs and settlements abroad, will be now liable to be canvassed and controlled by every quarterly General Court; and a still worse consequence is, that no Gentleman of independent fortune, worth and character, will ever, on these terms, accept a seat in the Direction.

***

IT is extremely remarkable, how great the resemblance between the transactions of those times, and the present is: the reflections at the close of the foregoing narrative suiting the one, as well as the other, prove the compiler of it a most judicious prophet, foretelling that the government of your Court of Directors, would be brought to nought by their own self-interested and intestine broils; a prediction now pretty well accomplished. What then can ensue, but the most alarming confusion in your affairs? But to resume our subject. You here see the most unfortunate of your servants fallen the sacrifice of party fury; and you will also see him in the sequel persecuted, slandered, and superseded in that rank they then allotted him, by every following dispatch, and all from the same rancorous cause, as we shall make appear, when we have done with the Pamphlet before us; to which we now return.

In page 37, are the following passages. "After the departure of Colonel Clive, the delicacy that he had used towards him (the Nabob) was entirely thrown aside. His successor in the government, who had been particularly instrumental in bringing down Sou Raja Dowla, and consequently, in occasioning the revolution in Bengal, had arrived at his dignity, contrary to the intention of his constituents, and entirely through the accident of a number of his seniors going home at this time in disgust. Being blessed with a genius, uncommonly fertile in expedients for raising money, and further unclogged by those silly notions of punctilio, which often stand in the way betwixt some people and fortune, he had projected and put in practice several inferior manoeuvres; but this chef d'Oeuvre, this master scheme, though formed almost as soon as he came to power, time did not allow him the honor of executing." Again page 39, "It must here again be acknowledged, that the Gentlemen in the direction showed so little intention, that the accidental governor should have ever come to that trust, that they now removed him to be the seventh in council. Being endued however with a very high degree of what, in some, is called address, enforced by a great share of plausibility in argument, he found these talents of singular use to him on this occasion. His grand plan being now almost ripe for execution, could not be concealed from his successor: he wavered some days about continuing in the service of his masters in that degraded rank." Again, lower down in the same page and page 40. "But it does not redound much to the honor of this degraded governor, nor plead greatly in favor of the disinterestedness of his views, that after such a stigma, such a mark put upon him by his superiors, he could (though during his short government he had acquired a handsome fortune) submit to serve in the seventh place, after having been in the first. "

The last quotation we shall trouble you with from this anonymous author, is where he makes a blundering abusive apology, for all the abuses he has so lavishly bestowed, almost throughout pages 37 to 41, exclusive of those parts we have already noticed. Page 40 exhibits as follows, "I should not have dwelt so particularly, on these seemingly trifling incidents, nor should I have descended so low as to touch individuals, had I not found it absolutely necessary towards drawing one material inference, which is, that this scheme of Nabob-changing borrows no luster from the character of it's original projector." Quere, Who does this pamphleteer mean by the term original projector? It cannot be the gentleman we are defending, for he has most fully proved he never projected any scheme of the kind: therefore this intended abuse, can only touch the projectors of the revolution of 1757, as they only were the original schemers of Nabob-changing. He pleads absolute necessity for drawing one material inference, which is no intelligible inference at all, and only proves his ungovernable appetite to slander, but unluckily mistakes the object.

Leaving the continued indecent strain of this author to revert on himself, we shall confine ourselves to those charges against Mr. Holwell, which, with Corinthian front, the author makes to bear the semblance of facts: These are,

First, (Page 37.) that "Mr. Holwell was particularly instrumental in bringing down the Sou Raja Dowla; and the cause of the first revolution, &c.

"2dly, That his fertile genius in expedients for raising money, unclogged with any checks or punctilios of honor, or honesty, (for this is plainly implied, though not so plainly expressed) had projected and put in practice several inferior maneoeuvres."

"3dly, (Page 39 and 40) It seems objected to this gentleman as a crime, that he was removed to the seventh in Council; and the terms following, of degraded rank, stigma, and mark put him by your Court of Directors, are all very well framed to enforce the opinion, that Mr. Holwell must assuredly have been guilty of some atrocious breach of trust, or other iniquitous conduct in your service, to have deserved being thus removed and thus degraded; for Anonymous himself, allows him abilities and address, therefore he could not have been degraded for want of capacity to conduct your affairs; the uninformed, though impartial among you, will very naturally conclude there must have been some blemish, some crime, some unfaithfulness in this your servant, that drew on him the high displeasure of your Court of Directors, for they are honorable men, and would not, you may suppose, degrade any of your faithful servants without sufficient and just reason, because therein they would be guilty of a breach of THAT TRUST, with which they are invested BY YOU.


Now that this gentleman was so treated, is fact; and herein Anonymous for once speaks truth. To be removed, degraded, stigmatized, and marked by our superiors, when done with reason and justice, carries its own vindication; but when done from partial and unjust motives, stimulated by party rage, these stigmas, marks and degradations, reflect not on the degraded, but on the degraders.

Thus have we inverted the order of our reply, and spoke first to the last charge; we shall persist in our method, and speak next to the second, which is plainly leveled at this Gentleman's conduct in your Zemindarry, (or Court of Cutcherry at Fort William, Bengal) which has been aspersed, particularly in the year 1758, and never sufficiently cleared up. In order to this, it becomes necessary to give you a short count how it came to pass, that this gentleman was appointed to this post of Zemindar, and likewise to explain to you the nature of the post itself.

Your Court of Directors, about the year 1748, coming to the knowledge of sundry abuses and depredations, made in your annual revenues of the Zemindary at Bengal, by one Govindram Metre, (who had been for 28 years the standing Black Deputy in that office, whilst the head of it was continually fluctuating and changing) and being also totally strangers to the nature of the office; a leading Director of your then Court, having more curiosity concerning this branch of your affairs than the rest, wrote in strenuous terms to a gentleman of high rank in your service there: this gentleman having never past through the office, could not give the satisfaction required; but knowing that Mr. Holwell was on his departure for England, with whom he was upon the strictest footing of friendship, he communicated to him the letter he had received from his patron at home, and being sensible that Mr. Holwell by his knowledge in the language, (and having been many years a member of, and two years at the head of your Mayor's Court at Calcutta, where frequently suits were commenced and brought to issue between the natives) had acquired a deeper insight into the nature and frauds of this office, than any other person in the settlement; requested his permission, to refer his friend and patron to him for information, on his arrival in England, which was readily assented to.

In the course of the voyage Mr. Holwell threw into some form, the many materials he had by him respecting this office, and on his arrival communicated them to the Director before mentioned, and to another gentleman, your Chairman, without any view but that of benefiting the Company, as he then, and for many months after, had no intention of ever seeing India again; but finding (as many others who return from India with small fortunes do,) that money does not go so far in England as he fondly imagined, he thought it necessary to return and increase his capital, then lying at interest only, in your cash at Fort William.

Thus determined, he applied to the leading gentlemen in your Direction to be sent out in your service; his application met with success, and he was in January 1752 appointed to the post of Zemindar, and 12th in council at Fort William, not to be removed from that post without express orders from home, nor to rise higher in your council. These two restrictions peculiar to this gentleman, were adopted at his own mere motion and request, for the following reasons; first as he was sensible no reform could possibly be made in the office, whilst the head of it was fluctuating by rotation as heretofore, by which custom it sometimes happened that there were two or three Zemindars within the space of one year; by this ill-judged measure, they were unavoidably kept in the dark as to the real state and nature of this office, and a power in perpetuity devolved to the standing deputy, who was always styled the Black Zemindar: and such, was the tyranny of this man, and such the dread conceived of him in the minds of the natives, that no one durst complain or give information against him, howsoever oppressed; and this consideration made it necessary for Mr. Holwell to insist on this person's being dismissed that service the moment he arrived in Bengal, which was accordingly complied with, and orders sent out to commence a prosecution against him. To give you an idea of this prosecution, and the infinite labor it occasioned Mr. Holwell, we shall in its place insert three of his letters to the Board of Calcutta on the subject.

The Company as Zamindar

In 1698 the English East India Company had obtained on the strength of letters granted by Prince Azimus-Shan, Subahdar of Bengal, the right of renting the three towns of Calcutta, Sutanati and Govindapur for an annual payment of about 1,200 rupees. For discharging the duties connected with the ‘Zamindar rights' thus gained, the Company appointed in 1700 a special officer known as the Collector (or the Zamindar), Ralph Sheldon being the first Collector of Calcutta. The Collector was to “gather in the revenue of the three towns and to keep them in order”, for which, in accordance with zamindari customs, he exercised till 1758 both civil and criminal justice through some zamindari courts established in Calcutta. The Collector had under him an Indian deputy, styled the ‘Black Collector'. Govindaram Mitra held this post for over thirty years till he was dismissed for some malpractices by orders of the Court dated 16 January 1752.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K.K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna (1958)


It was thought a seat at the board of Calcutta was necessary to give a proper weight to this officer, in the reform he had proposed making; he desired his rank might be fixed youngest in council, as thereby he did not carry out with him the odium of superseding any gentleman in your service.

When this gentleman was sent out your covenanted servant, under the patronage of William Baker, Esq. (now Sir William) and William Mabbot, Esq, your Court of Directors consisted of the following gentlemen, viz.

Roger Drake, Esq; Chairman
William Baker Esq; Deputy
William Mabbot, Esq;
William Braurd, Esq;
Chris. Burrow, Esq;
Charles Cutts, Esq;
Peter Ducane, Esq;
Sam Feaker, Esq;
Abel Fonnereau, Esq;
Peter Godfrey, Esq;
Charles Gough, Esq;
John Hope, Esq;
Mich. Imrey, Esq;
Stephen Law, Esq;
Nich. Linwood, Esq;
Nathaniel Newnham junior, Esq;
John Payne, Esq;
Henry Plant, Esq;
Jones Raymond, Esq;
William Rider, Esq;
Thomas Rous, Esq;
Timothy Tullie, Esq;
William Willy, Esq;


Here it becomes needful to add a short explanation of the nature of this officer's duty, in quality of Zemindar.

The Zemindar acts in a double capacity, distinct, and independent of each other, (with very few exceptions) the one as superintendent and collector of your revenues, the other, as judge of the Court of Cutcherry, a tribunal constituted for the hearing, trying, and determining all matters and things, both civil and criminal, wherein the natives only, subjects of the Mogul, are concerned. He tried in a summary way, had the power of the lash, fine, and imprisonment; he determined all matters of meum and tuum; and in all criminal cases, proceeded to sentence and punishment immediately after hearing, except where the crime (as murder) requires the lash to be inflicted until death, in which case he suspends execution of the sentence, until the fact and evidence are laid before the president, and his confirmation of the sentence is obtained. He has also the power to condemn thieves, and other culprits, to work in chains upon the roads, during any determinate space of time, or for life. In all causes of property, an appeal lay to the president and council against his decrees.

Such was the power annexed to this office, when this gentleman was appointed the head of it, and such had it been for a long term of years preceding that period; a power by much too great for any one man to be entrusted with. Therefore in the year 1758, at the recommendation of Mr. Holwell, a stop was put to it by the Court of Directors, who appointed three judges of this court, members of the board, in monthly rotation. Before this gentleman took charge of this important post, there never had been any register of causes or decrees kept in English; but from that time, a register of the proceedings was monthly laid before the board at Calcutta, for their inspection, and annually transmitted to your Court of Directors. Here permit us to remark, that though this gentleman was, for the space of four years, (that is, from the beginning of July 1752, to the capture of your settlement) sole judge of this court, not a single complaint was ever preferred against him in his judicial capacity in criminal causes, and but one appeal from his judgments and decrees in matters of property, and of that, only the half reversed, and the rest confirmed. But the conduct and merit of this gentleman, in this, as well as the other branches of this laborious office, you shall not take upon trust from us his friends, who may be deemed partial, but shall, in good time, have them from stronger vouchers, and superior judges.

We proceed next to the three letters before mentioned, touching the prosecution of Govindram Metre, and then to convey an idea to you of the duty of the Zemindar, relative to the revenues; and this we shall do in this gentleman's own words, without any abridgment, in a work which he entitled A STATE OF THE REVENUES, transmitted to your Court of Directors in a letter to the board of Calcutta. The work is long, and to some may appear unintelligible and tedious, but to others interesting and curious; howsoever this may be, our plan of defense calls for it, in proof of Mr. Holwell's talents, and his indefatigable and unwearied exertion of those talents in your service.

***

To the Honorable Roger Drake, Esq; President and Governor, &c. Council.

Fort William, Aug. 13. 1752.

Honorable Sir and Sirs,

The 20th ult. I thought it necessary to move you that Govindram Metre should give security to the Board for his appearance, on account of some frauds I had traced, regarding the Company's Revenues under his management; and though the short time I have been in the office, and my necessary attendance to the current business of it, will not at present sufficiently enable me to digest all the informations that have reached me, wherein I think the Company have been heavily injured during the twenty-eight years of this man's administration; yet, as far as I am able, my duty tells me I ought to lay before you, without loss of time; the more so, as I am well informed, he is distributing and secreting his ill-got wealth in various places, and by various methods.

The Farms, and monthly charges Jemmidaary, have first drawn my attention, as they are first in consequence to the Honorable Company: my remarks on the duties on exportation of rice, etlach, fines, &c. I must reserve for a subsequent address; but as Govindram Metre may have the subterfuge to plead, of all accounts of the revenues being passed under the hands of the Zemindars, and lest his glaring frauds should seem tacitly to censure the neglect of those gentlemen, I beg your Honor, &c's leave, previously to obviate that, both by saying, that the accounts, frauds as well as errors, are excepted; and that whilst the post of Zemindary was transitory and fluctuating, and this man invested with power, a retrospection into the state of the Company's revenues with any material success, would have been morally impossible, as not one of the natives, from the highest to the lowest, durst with impunity have given the least umbrage to him; and it is they only that could have explored the dark and intricate mazes, in which he has so long concealed himself from the eyes and stroke of justice.

Two of the principal farms, viz. the Rice Farm, and Buzar Calcutta, commonly called the Great Buzar, I must likewise reserve for the subject of another letter, and proceed now to the others, whose annual Pottahs, or grants, bear date the first of November; and here I must begin with confessing to your Honor, &c. an error of my own. I always imagined the farms were sold at public outcry, or auction, in the Cutcherry, in the presence of the Zemindar; and think I told as much to some of our Honorable masters, as believing it impossible to be otherwise; but am sorry to say no such essential and necessary method has been practiced for these ten years; a circumstance I should not mention here, did not what follows make it absolutely necessary: for, on the contrary, Govindram Metre's house, I find, has, for that space, been the place where the prices have been affixed to each farm, not by auction to the highest bidder, but privately at the prices he chose to take the best of them himself at, under fictitious names; that is, those that would yield the best and most certain profit; and disposed of the others that were more precarious, to his friends and dependents: these prices he reports to the Zemindar for his confirmation, and the several Pottahs are ordered to be drawn out accordingly.
Of the farms which he has usually taken to himself under fictitious names, I shall now speak only to the following, viz.

Soota Nutty Haut, and Suba Bazar: In the name of his servant Perethram Huzzurah.

Baug Buzar Haut and Buzar: In the name of Nilmony Gose, his Brother Sookdeb Metre's grandson.

Charles Buzar and Haut: In the name of Nilmony Gose, his Brother Sookdeb Metre's grandson.

Haut Cola Buzar: In the name of Nilmony Gose, his Brother Sookdeb Metre's grandson.

Douba Parrah: In the name of Nilmony Gose, his Brother Sookdeb Metre's grandson.

Suttanutty's Dour Beckry and Koora Pocha: In the name of Nilmony Gose, his Brother Sookdeb Metre's grandson.


It may be objected in his favor, that there might be loss on these farms as well as gain; but this objection will avail him little, when I make it appear to your Honor, &c. that he secures his gain as soon as, or rather before, he takes them to himself, by farming them out again to third persons; so that the case stands exactly thus: -- This man has an absolute trust and confidence reposed in him, in the disposal of the Company's farms, the best of which he farms at an under rate to himself, in a fictitious name, and at the same time farms them out again at an immediate gain; a fraud than which I know not a greater. Your Honor, &c. must be sensible how difficult it must be, to investigate a series of accounts and transactions for twenty-eight years past; the forming vouchers for which, have, without control, remained solely in the power of this man; and whatever evidence might have been against him, as to former times, does possibly now not exist: therefore the utmost that can be done in this case, is to fix him in frauds as near as I can to the present time; and equitably to recommend to your Honor, &c. on behalf of our Honorable Masters, a judgment on the whole of his conduct, from the few specimens I am now going to lay, in as clear a light as possible, before you: and first, I shall prove his having taken the several farms abovementioned to himself at an under rate, in the years 1749, 1750, and 1751, and farmed them out again at an immediate advance, Soota Nutty Haut and Suba Buzar being farmed out in the different articles to different people.

SOOTA NUTTY HAUT. (Anno.)

1749 Farm'd at 3525; Farm'd out again at 4851; Gains per annum 1326
1750 Farm'd at 3600; Farm'd out again at 5315; Gains per annum 1715
1751 Farm'd at 3600; Farm'd out again at 5385; Gains per annum 1785

SUBAH BUZAR. (Anno.)

1749 Farm'd at 3525; Farm'd out again at 2271; Gains per annum 946
1750 Farm'd at 1400; Farm'd out again at 2381; Gains per annum 981
1751 Farm'd at 1400; Farm'd out again at 2672; Gains per annum 1272

BAUG BUZAR and HAUT. (Anno.)

1749 Farm'd at 775; Farm'd to Kitteram Paul at 1200; Gains per annum 425
1750 Farm'd at 765; Farm'd to Purpuram at 1000; Gains per annum 235
1751 Farm'd at 765; Farm'd to Purpuram at 1000; Gains per annum 235

DOOBA PARRAH SAYAR. (Anno.)

1749 Farm'd at 208; Farm'd to Harry Kisson Coyal at 437; Gains per annum 229
1750 Farm'd at 400; Farm'd to Terra Chund Dutt at 474; Gains per annum 74
1751 Farm'd at 468; Farm'd to Terra Chund Dutt at 542; Gains per annum 74.

KOORA PACHA and DUAR BECKRY SOOTA NUTTYA. (Anno.)

1749 Farm'd at 162; Farm'd to Satoo Mastry at 250; Gains per annum 88
1750 Farm'd at 152; Farm'd to Bechue Mundell at 270; Gains per annum 118
1751 Farm'd at 152; Farm'd to Bechue Mundell at 270; Gains per annum 118

CHARLES BUZAR and HAUT. (Anno.)

1749 Farm'd at 378; Farm'd to Kitteram Paul at 416; Gains per annum 38
1750 Farm'd at 240; Farm'd to Purpuram Sircar at 331; Gains per annum 90
1751 Farm'd at 240; Farm'd to Harry Kisson Coyal at 335; Gains per annum 95

TOTAL: 9844


From the foregoing statement, your Honor, &c. may readily judge, how immensely the Company have been injured in the whole of their revenues during this man's long administration; but if we should suppose he has only made this advantage during the ten years last past, that the farms have been in a manner abandoned to his conduct, we shall, by parity of reason, find the Company defrauded, in that space, of no less than the principal sum of Rupees 32813 / 15 / 6 in these farms only; but this favorable conclusion he has no right to expect, as I think I shall be able to demonstrate, there is not any one branch of the Revenues wherein he has not been consistent in defrauding, to the utmost extent of his power.

Before I quit this subject, I think it needful to inform your Honor, &c. that Govindram Metre has, this year, by his own authority, levied a tax from the farmers of 2-1/2 per cent on the amount of their several farms (over and above the 10 per cent usually taken from them, as the allowed perquisite of the Zemindar) which he has converted to his own use.

The monthly charges Zemindary, is the next article I shall at present submit to your Honor, &c's consideration and censure, under three divisions, viz. servants in monthly pay, charges making and repairing Cutcherries and Chowkey houses, and charges.

In regard to the servants in the Cutcherry, I find the Company has been, time out of mind, defrauded by Govindram Metre, in the monthly sum of 166 Rupees, exclusive of his monthly allowance of 112 / 8; the particulars of which are, viz.

27 Pikes, 17 always employed in his own service, 3 whose pay he has always received, and 7 his menial servants under this denomination; 27 at 2 Rupees per mensem = 54
19 Buckserrias, 14 nominal only, and 5 at his town of KissenPoor; for these he receives monthly = 59
Boncheram receives no wages, yet charged at = 8
Kissen Gose, Rogu Metre's Cotta servant = 5
Ramchurnd Tagoor, another servant of Rogu Metre = 3
Barnasa Scatdut, Metre's Maulda Gomastah = 5
Tilluckram, under the name of Bredju Mahone =10
6 Gwallers = 12
Munkindram Mundell, at Metre's Gottabarry = 3
Nunderum Gose, a gratuity = 7
Rupees per mensem = 166


In this particular your Honor, &c. observes the Company has been defrauded of Rupees 1992 per annum; and as we cannot reasonably imagine, he was less scrupulous when he was more indigent, so I think it will not be deemed unjust to charge him with this fraud for 8 years last past; and then it will appear, we have here another manifest claim on him, on behalf of our Honorable Masters, for the principal sum of Rupees 55776.

I am next to represent to your Honor, &c. that I have extracted from the monthly charges Zemindary, the expenses account, making and repairing the several Cutcherries and Chowkey houses, from February 1747, to March 1752; and find in that space no less a sum to that account, than Rupees 9018 / 8; a charge most infamous, and self-evident to every member of this Board, when I further inform your Honor, &c. that 5184 / 8 of this sum is under the head of repairing the great Cutcherry, on which a tithe has not been expended in that time, as I will prove, is needful, from a thousand witnesses; and the same as to the other straw houses, under the denomination of Cutcherry and Chowkey houses; but as l would rather lessen than exaggerate every charge against him, I will suppose the Company defrauded in this period of five years 7000 Rupees only, which, during his administration, will amount to the principal sum of Rupees 39,200.

The charges in repairing the roads, drains and bridges, within the same period of time, I find swelled to the enormous sum of Rupees 7884 / 15 / 9; out of which there stands to the account of repairing the Dumdum and Barrasut roads, Rupees 2810; of which, 1036 / 7 are appropriated to the years 1750 and 1751. Now, to give your Honor, &c. a specimen of his frauds in this part of the monthly charge, I will observe, that the Company is debted by him in October 1751, Rupees 520 / 4, for the repairs of the Dumdum and Barasut roads; whereas, by the accounts I have laid before me, it appears there was really no more expended on these roads in the years 1750 and 1751, than 342 cound, 6 pund and 10 gundas of Cowries; and these collected from the neighbouring riots or tenants, which has always been practiced towards repairing the out-roads of the town (though where a Rupee has been collected, not more than six Annaes have been expended, and the Company besides constantly charged for this article at an immense rate; a double fraud, that merits the highest censure and punishment. From the consideration of these particulars, it is manifest the Company has yearly been defrauded of almost the whole that has been charged on this account, a small expense on building and repairing two or three bridges excepted; which, with the utmost indulgence to Govindram Metre, cannot reduce the fraud within the five years above specified, to less than 600 Rupees; and, on the whole of his administration, to the principal sum of 33600 Rupees.

Last year I observe a charge continued for ten months, at the rate of 32 Rupees per mensem, on account of looking after Cutmah's houses: the ponsways and guard employed for this service, were the monthly servants of the Company; and yet the Company is not only by Metre debted on this account, but I am very credibly informed, he likewise levied the same from the Cutmahs. I mention this article chiefly with a view of demonstrating to your Honor, &c. that every intervening bye-path to knavery has been as regularly traversed and infested by him as the high road of iniquity, in which he has so long and unmolested raised contributions from the Company, as well as from every one of the inhabitants that have unluckily fallen within his grip, or that of his son Rogu Metre. Instances of this last nature are so many, that by what I have already heard, I fear if I had as many ears as Argus had eyes, they would be much too insufficient to receive them; but those, with the proofs I am possessed of, touching his connections with the common murderers and robbers of the town, I must reserve for a volume by themselves, and close this present remonstrance against him with recapitulating and throwing into one total the foregoing principal sums, for which, I am of opinion, the Company has an immediate and specific claim on him, with interest that may be due thereon; just premising, that as wages are, or at least ought to be, deemed the reward of service and faithfulness; and as this man, in the place of promoting the service of the Company, has, in breach of his trust and duty, injured their affairs by every wicked practice in his power, so I think he has very justly forfeited whatever wages he has received, and therefore submit it to your Honor, &c. whether he should not be mulcted [mulct: extract money from (someone) by fine or taxation] in a sum equal thereto; and as I cannot doubt but I shall meet your concurrence in so equitable a charge, I will add it to the others, viz.


9 years, at 30 Rupees per mensem = 3240
12 years, at 50 Rupees per mensem = 7200


GOVINDRAM METRE (Dr.)

To frauds on the farms held himself = 32813 / 15 / 6
To frauds in the monthly charge of servants = 55776 / 0 / 0
To frauds account charges repairing the Cutcherrys = 39200 / 0 / 0
To frauds account charges repairing the roads, &c.= 33600 / 0 / 0
To frauds account the guard on Cotmah's house = 320/ 0 / 0
To the mulct of his wages = 161709 / 15 / 6


I beg leave to represent to your Honor, &c. that when the interest which is strictly due to the Company is calculated on the first total, it becomes a sum of no small importance; and therefore l humbly insist, on the behalf of our Honorable Masters, that Govindram Metre be immediately committed to close confinement, until the same is discharged; and that a sufficient military guard be, without loss of time, placed on his several houses; and that his son Rogu Metre be obliged to give good security for his appearance.

The Company’s Servants

The Company’s servants in Bengal were paid low salaries. But they made large fortunes through private trade, and indulged in various luxuries and extravagances to which the Court of Directors were strongly opposed. With a view to maintaining the efficiency and integrity of the public services the Directors sought to regulate the conduct of their servants in all respects. In 1749-50 they complained of the “spirit of gaming” that was reported to prevail among their servants in Bengal. To this the Council in Calcutta replied in February 1750 that had they “ever observed the least appearance of this vice” they would have "suppressed it in its infancy” and assured the Court that they would henceforth punctually obey their orders in this respect. [Letter to Court, 25 February 1750, para 8.] The Court of Directors suspected the prevalence of other kinds of abuses also among their servants in Bengal. Thus in their letter of 24 January 1753 they accused them of being “underhand concerned in the contracts for the Investment.” The Council in Calcutta pleaded that this charge was based on false reports of a “malicious nature” and assured the Court that they would do their utmost to check “extravagant and expensive” ways of living among the servants, whose high expenses were due to the dearness of all kinds of provisions and not to “uncommon extravagancies”. They also observed that they would regard it as an act of the “greatest favour” on the part of the Court if the latter took into consideration the “small allowances” received by their servants and did whatever appeared to them to be just in that matter. [Letter to Court, 3 September 1753, paras 61 and 70.] Whatever might be the pleas of the members of the Council in Calcutta to screen themselves and their subordinates, there is no doubt that their ways of living were in certain respects not above reproach. Early in 1754 the Court of Directors sent to the Council a strong note reiterating their previous warning against “prevailing licentiousness” among their servants in Bengal, and also forwarded to them some positive commands for the regulation of their “morals and manner of life.” [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, paras 80-81.] As a luxurious style of living still prevailed among their servants of all ranks in Bengal, the Court asked the Council to take proper steps to check and prevent it. The remittance of large sums of money to England by the commanders of ships through bills of exchange on the Company led the Court to suspect that these were the ‘produce of illicit trade’ and so the Council in Calcutta were asked to take an oath from each commander to the effect that his money was earned through legitimate means. [Letter from Court, 31 January 1755, paras 100 and 111.]...

All but the Doctors and the Writers also got gratuities in various capacities. They had other sources of income such as perquisites and profits of private trade. (Long, Selections from Unpublished Records, pp. 101-03).

The Court also complained that an “unaccountable negligence appears to have taken strong possession of almost all our servants” and attributed to this the omission on the part of the latter "to send the usual and necessary books and papers”. [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, para 94.] They again observed in 1755 that the accounts were not "exact and methodical”. Suspecting that it was a common practice at all the subordinate factories to present wrong accounts, and to conceal the real amount of allowances granted to the chiefs and other important officers, the Council in Calcutta directed each factory in 1754 to specify "in the plainest manner and under their real heads in their accounts all disbursements, allowances, and charges whatever” for their inspection and approval. [Letter to Court 7 December 1754, para 142.] They agreed to pay the Sub-Accountant and the Accountant-General 250 sicca rupees each per annum and considered payment to the Registrar of the Mayor’s Court at the same rate, on his representation that the new regulations for receiving deposits in the Company’s treasury had increased his work.

At the end of January 1755, the Court of Directors emphasized the need of the “utmost attention” to the conduct of their servants at the subordinate factories whom they suspected of being "unfaithfully” interested in investments at the cost of the Company. For due control over these servants, the Court ordered the immediate formation of a Supervising Committee consisting of the President, Charles Manningham, Richard Becher, and John Zephaniah Holwell. This Committee was to "enquire into the manner of making the investments and the management in general at the subordinate settlements” and into the conduct of their servants employed at those places. [Letter from Court, 31 January I755, paras 56-61.] Taking into consideration the necessity of entrusting the management of the Company’s affairs at the subordinate factories to men of experience, the Court made it a standing rule that there should be among their servants at Kasimbazar two members of the Council and at least one senior merchant, at Dacca one member of the Council and a senior merchant, and at Jagdia or wherever the Jagdia settlement was shifted one of the "best qualified” servants next below the rank of a member of the Council. [Ibid, para 63.] The Court also ordered the formation of a Committee of Accounts "to prevent any frauds and irregularities which are and may be covered or unobserved by this loose manner of passing accounts.” They, however, felt that for due enforcement of all their rules and directions, and for effective management of their affairs, it was necessary to invest the President with sufficient powers as the “general inspector and supervisor of the whole machine” and so asked the Council to attend properly to whatever the President proposed to do for controlling the servants of all ranks and for management of the Company’s affairs. The directions communicated by the Court were to apply to all the subordinate settlements. [Letter from Court, 31 January 1755, paras 101-03.]...

Early in 1754 the Court of Directors sent some writers to the Bengal establishment, and to put a stop to what they considered the “pernicious custome of employing black people” in writing business, directed the Council in Calcutta to ensure that all their servants were “regularly and constantly employed in their respective stations particularly the younger sort”. [Letter from Court, 23 January 1754, paras 75-7.] The Council in Calcutta instructed the heads of their several offices to insist on their assistants attending to their respective duties from 9 to 12 in the forenoon and also, when necessary, in the afternoon as well as evening. [Letter to Court, 7 December 1754, para 143.]

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K.K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna (1958)


On entering my office, I found it heavily burthened with sinecures, perquisites, and unnecessary servants, which I have the pleasure to inform your Honor, &c. stand reduced for this month of August, to the amount of 550 Rupees, amongst which the charge of Pykes was a very needless and considerable one; for of the 143 retained in the service, I found 64, (exclusive of Metre's 27) stationed as a nightly guard to the several inhabitants houses; as I saw no propriety in the Company's bearing this expense (trifling to each individual, but a heavy one to them) I thought it reasonable to retrench that amongst the rest, having still retained the Head Pyke, his 11 Niabs or deputies, and 35 Pyke only, as needful for the service; the Head Pyke still remaining, as usual, security for any night guard he sends, at the request of the inhabitants; and further than this, they are of no use towards the guarding or safety of the town; for, on strict review and muster of the whole body, I could not pick out more than 30 that were trained Pykes, or had any pretension to that title, further than as they (occasionally to pass muster) were loaded with their usual arms. I am, most respectfully,

Honorable Sir and Sirs,
Your most obedient humble servant

***
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Part 3 of 10

To the Honorable Roger Drake, Esq; President and Governor, &c. Council.

Fort William, Aug. 17, 1752.

Honorable Sir. and Sirs,

As it appears to me beyond a doubt, that Govindram Metre will not only make every delay in his power, in giving in his answer to the charge contained in my letter, addressed to your Honor, &c. under date the 13th instant, but will, by every art and means, endeavor to take off the evidence against him; I think it extremely necessary now to lay before you the nature of the proofs I have to support the charge exhibited against him; which I request may now he examined before the Board, or a Committee appointed, without loss of time, for that purpose; of which, (as this affair is of no small consequence to the Company) I beg leave to move that the President may be one.

In regard, first, to the farms taken to himself, and farmed out at an immediate advance, the particulars, as laid before your Honor, &c. I think he will not contest or deny; but if he should, I have the several accounts thereof ready to be laid before you.

Touching the overcharge of servants in monthly pay, I need only refer your Honor, &c. to the Buxey's roll of the Pykes and Buckserrias [Buxuries/Baksaris], and to the Cutcherry Podar, or Shroff, who is at hand with their several accounts.

The district of Shahabad in Bihar was one such important area of recruitment. The Rajputs settled there were recruited for police and militia duties both by the Nawab’s government in Bengal and the English East India Company and they are referred to in contemporary records as Buxuries (Baksaris).

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


The overcharge account repairing the Cutcherrys is so self-evident, that I need only refer your Honor, &c. to your own judgments, but more particularly to the gentlemen who have preceded me in the office.

In regard to the double fraud and exorbitant charge of repairing the roads, I have ready to lay before this Board the Banian's books, employed on this service, and the Head Peon attending him.

Touching the article of Cotmah's guard, I have now this further circumstance to add, that in place of 320 Rupees charged the Company, and collected from the Cotmahs, I am well informed, he exacted from them on this account, October 26, C. Rs. 654. viz.

On account Bolly and Perith Cotmah = 327 / 0
On account Duloli Cotmah = 163 / 8
On account Ponchu Cotmah = 163 / 8
C.Rs. = 654 / 0


For proof of this article, your Honor, &c. will be pleased to order the Cotmahs to appear before you, and declare, on their oaths, if this fact is or is not as I have represented it.

On the whole of these five articles, I can scarcely think he will be hardy enough to deny or contest any of them, as they each of them almost prove themselves; however if he should, the proofs, I may say, are now in a manner in the hands of your Honor, &c. and you will doubtless take such resolutions therein, as will equitably conduce to the interest of our Honorable Masters.

It is some concern to me, that I should have so far differed in judgment from so great a majority of this Board, when I thought the charge exhibited against Govindram Metre was self-evident enough to enforce the necessity of his confinement; but though my remonstrance had not weight sufficient, either to procure that, or even a guard for the security of his effects, yet that must not slacken my endeavors in search of the Company's rights; as I will still hope I shall not always be so unlucky, or so far mistaken in my judgment as to want the approbation and concurrence of your Honor, &c. in what I shall lay before you.

On taking charge of my office, I found the last monthly account of revenues delivered into council was the month of March; on which I thought it expedient to hasten the accounts of April, May and June, as much as possible, but found the delays in Metre without end; when sending for him into the public Cutcherry, and asking him the reason of these delays, his answer was, That it was occasioned by some articles that he had recollected, which ought to have been brought to the credit of the Company sooner, an account of which he then gave me, to the amount of C. Rs. 2809 / 3 / 9, telling me he wanted to bring them to credit in the account of revenues for April; to which I objected, that as he was sensible I had traced those very frauds, and that some of them were five years standing, I could not admit of more being brought to credit in April, than were really the transactions of the preceding year, which I likewise represented to Mr. Manningham, and met with his approval; accordingly, in the accounts revenues for April, laid before your Honor, &c. the 13th instant, Rupees 842 / 8 of the above sum are brought to credit, so that according to his account delivered me, there remains a balance due to the Company of C. Rs. 1966 / 11 / 9, account stands confessed, in the several articles of duty on Rice Sallisnammah, (or arbitration bonds) Russey Sallamy, (or measuring contested grounds) Gut Huzreys (or servants wages forfeited) and Mooriannoes, from April 1747, during the several Zemindaries of Messrs. Kempe, Eyles, Cruttenden and Watts; I justly call these frauds confessed, not only as he knew I had traced them, but because I have this convincing argument to allege, they never would have been brought to credit, but as a consequence of the scrutiny I had begun to make into his conduct; for he had as early as the 29th of June, adjusted the account revenues for the month of April, and closed the credit side of the account; and the whole was wrote fair, and wanted only balancing and signing, and not one of these recollected articles brought to credit. But as almost every hour comes freighted with his frauds, it is my duty to lay them before your Honor, &c. as they occur.

Unteram Dutt stood during Mr. Forster's government, a pensioner on the Cutcherry books, at 20 Rupees per mensem, which he received till Mr. Eyles struck him off. In the beginning of Mr. Rooper's Zemindary he was again restored, and received one month's allowance; but since that it has been received by Metre or Rogu Metre, on pretense of a balance due from Unteram to the latter, 24 months at 20 Rupees, which is 460: for proof of which the Cutcherry Podar, and Unteram are in waiting.

The 15th, Gosebeg Jemmautdaar complained to me, that he had not received a Cowrie of the wages due to him and ten Peons, that were placed as a guard at Govindpoor Gunge in March last, to look after the rice. Recollecting a charge of this kind, I turned to that month's account revenues, and found the Company debted for Rs. 232 / 10 for this service, account 20 Buckerserrias and two Ponsoys, whereas there were in truth only the Peons above mentioned, and 10 of the Company's Buckserrias from the different Chowkeys on board the Ponsways, and the expense of the Ponsways I find was paid by Moideb Huzzarah; and though the charge is continued to the Company for two months and four days, yet they were actually no longer on this service than one month and seven days,
-- as Gosebeg, Sowanny, Ponswaar, and Lallmun Mangu, are now in waiting to prove.

By complaint from Nour Cawn, I find, that in a long family dispute between him and his brother Hassein Cawn's widow, the amount of 2107 C. Rs. has been collected from them both, 200 Sicca Rupees of which were received by Metre on account of duty on raw silk, and the rest in fines, neither of which has been brought to the Company's credit. The particulars of this infamous affair are too prolix to enumerate to your Honor, &c. at present, therefore shall only request he may be interrogated as to the fact.

The next article I have to submit to your Honors, &c. judgment, is of a most flagitious [flagitious: criminal; villainous] nature, and at the same time, will prove as well his perfidiousness to the Company, as his connection with the common robbers, and murderers, that have so many years infested the settlement: I may too justly say, under his wing and protection, to the lasting stain I fear of our name and government: About the latter end of April 1750, the Head Pyke informed Govindram Metre, that he had taken a notorious Decoyt named Diaram, (commonly called Dia) in the house of one Moideb Cussarry, who was likewise known to be connected with these Decoyts. To give your Honor, &c. the result of this affair in as few words as possible, the Head Pyke was ordered by Metre, to sell Moideb's house and effects, which was accordingly done the last of May, the former for 300 Rupees, and the latter for two, and the amount C. Rs. 500 paid by the Head Pyke by Metre's order to Diaram Gose, his relation, and head writer in the Cutcherry, and the murderer ordered to be released. The proof of these facts are now in writing, and more instances of this nature, I have ready to produce against him, when your Honor, &c. has more leisure than you have at present to receive them, or than indeed I have at present to enumerate them.

Dacoity is a term used for "banditry" in the Indian subcontinent. The spelling is the anglicised version of the Hindustani word daaku; "dacoit" /dəˈkɔɪt/ is a colloquial Indian English word with this meaning and it appears in the Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases (1903). Banditry is criminal activity involving robbery by groups of armed bandits. The East India Company established the Thuggee and Dacoity Department in 1830, and the Thuggee and Dacoity Suppression Acts, 1836–1848 were enacted in British India under East India Company rule.
The Thuggee and Dacoity Department was an organ of the East India Company, and inherited by British India, which was established in 1830 with the mission of addressing dacoity (banditry), highway robbery, and particularly the Thuggee cult of robbers.

Among the Department's more recognised members was Colonel William Sleeman, who headed the outfit from 1835–39 and is known as the man who eliminated the Thuggee.

In 1874, Sir Edward Bradford, 1st Baronet was made General Superintendent of the Thuggee and Dacoit Department.

The department existed until 1904, when it was replaced by the Central Criminal Intelligence Department.

-- Thuggee and Dacoity Department, by Wikipedia

Areas with ravines or forests, such as Chambal and Chilapata Forests, were once known for dacoits....

In Chambal, India, organized crime controlled much of the countryside from the time of the British Raj up to the early 2000s, with the police offering high rewards for the most notorious bandit chiefs. The criminals regularly targeted local businesses, though they preferred to kidnap wealthy people, and demand ransom from their relatives - cutting off fingers, noses, and ears to pressure them into paying high sums. Many dacoity also posed as social bandits toward the local poor, paying medical bills and funding weddings. One ex-dacoit described his own criminal past by claiming that "I was a rebel. I fought injustice." Following intense anti-banditry campaigns by the Indian Police, highway robbery was almost completely eradicated in the early 2000s. Nevertheless, Chambal is still popularly believed to be unsafe and bandit-infested by many Indians. One police officer noted that the fading of the dacoity was also due to social changes, as few young people were any longer willing to endure the harsh life as highway robber in the countryside. Instead, they prefer to join crime groups in the city, where life is easier.

The term is also applied, according to the OED, to "pirates who formerly infested the Ganges between Calcutta and Burhampore".

Dacoits existed in Burma as well – Rudyard Kipling's fictional Private Mulvaney hunted Burmese dacoits in "The Taking of Lungtungpen". Sax Rohmer's criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu also employed Burmese dacoits as his henchmen.

Indian police forces use "Known Dacoit" (K.D.) as a label to classify criminals.

-- Dacoity, by Wikipedia


I have a single observation to make to your Honor, &c. on two articles contained in Metre's account frauds confessed; Gurr Huzreys from 1747 to 1751, in that space he brings to the credit of the Company on that account 392 / 8 Rupees: now from the nature of things, this deduction must have been always made, more or less, from the wages of the Buxerries, Pykes, &c. -- But what is become of it? for, with the utmost diligence, I can trace no credit given on account of this article.

Anxious for the safety of the Company’s settlements in India in case of a renewal of conflicts with the French and also as a measure of precaution against any injury to their interests by country powers, the Court of Directors not only sent occasional reinforcements for the Company’s army in the different settlements but also advised the respective Councils to tap useful sources of recruitment in India. The district of Shahabad in Bihar was one such important area of recruitment. The Rajputs settled there were recruited for police and militia duties both by the Nawab’s government in Bengal and the English East India Company and they are referred to in contemporary records as Buxuries (Baksaris).

In 1754 Colonel Scott suggested the recruitment of Rajputs of Bihar. [Letter from Court, 29 November 1754, para 55.] The Court of Directors recommended its careful consideration by the Council in Calcutta and the Bihari Rajputs began to contribute from this time not an inconsiderable quota to the ranks of the East India Company’s Indian troops.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K.K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna (1958)


The article Moorianoes, I believe, may need some explanation, as introductory to my observation on it. On every complaint where a Peon is ordered, he receives from the delinquent or defendant three punds of Cowries a day, one pund of which he keeps to himself, one pund 14 gundas belongs to the Company under the head of Etlack, and the remaining six gundas is daily collected apart, out of which the Etlack Mories or writers, are paid their wages, and the over-plus remains to the Company; on account of this article, Metre in his account frauds confessed, brings to credit 370 Rupees from 1749 to 1751, but as I find no credit given since August and September 1743, on this account, I must conclude a further fraud in this, as well as the last mentioned article: both which I submit to your Honor, &c. judgment.

GOVINDRAM METRE (Dr.)

To account Cutmah's guards = 334
To account frauds confessed =1966 / 11 / 9
To account Unteram Dutt = 460
To account the guard at the Rice gunge = 232 / 10
To account Nour Cawn, and Hossein Cawn's widow = 2107
To account Moideb's house and effects = 500
Principal C. Rs. = 5600 / 5 / 9


I am most respectfully,
Honorable Sir and Sirs,
Your most obedient humble servant.

***

To the Honorable Roger Drake, Esq; President and Governor, &c. Council.

Fort William August 27, 1752.

Honorable Sir and Sirs,

I observe that Govindram Metre has (in two letters under date the 17th and 24th instant) put in answer to the two first charges I have exhibited against him, on which I beg leave to remark, that if he is thus permitted to answer in a long and fallacious narrative, to every single charge, I foresee a scrutiny into his conduct may become a work of some years; and will be such a heavy tax on my time, that the needful, and I may say hourly attention to my office, will by no means admit of; because my replying to such answers will be absolutely necessary, or our honorable masters may be imposed on, by the speciousness of their appearance; and my replies may occasion his rejoinders to the end of the chapter. The charges I lay against him consist not in argument, but facts, which it is only incumbent on him to admit or deny. If my informations are wrong, and I fail in the proof of them, he will thereby become sufficiently vindicated; therefore, effectually to put a stop to this tedious method, I will only give your Honor, &c. the trouble of this reply, and in future barely lay before the Committee whatever facts occur to me, subsequent to my present information.

I admit his appeal to the Gentlemen that have filled the station of Zemindar, to be strictly true; and I have long known such application to them, on the sale of the farms, to be his constant method of blinding them, as he well knew none durst give them intelligence of their real worth: His imposition on your Honor, &c. in this argument, I cannot help calling extremely audacious; he says, "he always advised the Zemindars a month before the time of sale, of the utmost price he could get for the farms." -- Why, Gentlemen! the Pottahs, by which he farmed out on his own account the farms now under consideration, and which carry an advance (some of them) of 70, 80, and 100 per cent, bear date the same day with those, whereby he calls them to himself, in a fictitious name, at that loss to our honorable employers: can your Honor, &c. want a stronger proof of matchless fraud and iniquity than this? I think not. I dare say I shall meet your concurrence in giving it these just appellations. He further says, he gave more for the six farms in 1749, than was given the year before; this I admit; and must remark his advancing sometimes, in a trifling degree, the prices of the farms, as another artful means of blinding his masters: but his assertion, that he gave more for the six farms the two next years, than he gave in 1749, is far from truth; for I have only to refer your Honor, &c. to my letter under date the 13th instant, and you will observe, for three of them he gives less, nay though he farms two of the three on his own account at a higher rate in 1750 and 1751, than in 1749. As to the deduction of the dussutary, or 10 per cent for the Zemindar, it does not appear to me in any degree probable, that he would neglect levying this fee from those to whom he rented the farms on his own account; which he might do as justly as he levied the 2-1/2 per cent the last year, notwithstanding the reasons by which he attempts to palliate that act of power and oppression. He insinuates my leaving out Haut Cola Buzar in my second list with design, as knowing he lost by that Buzar: that l was not capable of so unworthy a design, is manifest from my mentioning it in my first list; and 2dly, because l know, and will prove, he neither lost or gained by it in the year 1749 and 1750; but that he gained 40 Rupees by it in 1751, when he took it at 177 Rupees, and farmed it out again to Purpuram at 217 Rupees. He may with equal truth say, it is with design, in the calculate of his wages, where I charge him 9696, instead of 8484; which is as manifest a mistake, as my leaving out the other Buzar in my second list. "He says, that every Rajah's and Zemindar's Duan, over the whole kingdom, is indulged with some farms for his own profit; as he cannot, from his wages, keep up the equipage and attendance necessary for an officer in his station." This is calculated to deceive elsewhere, as he must know your Honor, &c. is better acquainted with the nature of this government. We know it is a very usual thing for a Duan, or a Duan's Niab, to represent to their principal, that such or such a farm or portion of land produces such an annual profit, and solicits that he may hold it himself; but it is as well known, that if he is detected in concealing the real profits, or holds them clandestinely in others names, or is found guilty of oppressing or exacting from the people more than the established duties, the lash, fetters, imprisonment, and confiscation, are the immediate consequence; one crime fully proved against him implies the whole, and he is treated accordingly. To instance one that Metre is perfectly acquainted with. -- About 15 years ago, Sahib Ray was Duan to Kritichund Raja; this Duan had a Niab, or deputy, named Gopee Sing, who was convicted of holding farms clandestinely, of oppressing the people, and of perpetrating other crimes now laid to the charge of Govindram Metre: his punishment was very remarkable; for after severely suffering the lash, chains, imprisonment, and confiscation, he was fixed in the public highway, and an order issued for every passenger to kick him on the head, under which miserable situation he expired. As Metre's own confession speaks his having plundered agreeably to the maxims of his own nation, so he himself has pointed out, that the laws of his own nation ought to be the measure of his punishment, and I am much deceived, if your Honor, &c. will not find in the end, that his crimes are in no shape inferior to those of Gopee Sing's. As to his insinuations touching equipage and attendance, I know not, that from the nature of his employ in this settlement, he was entitled to either, in the sense he would imply: How and by what means he had accumulated a judicial power in the place, ten times greater than nine-tenths of his masters, is a point I will not discuss; but certain it is, that his acquiring any was foreign to his station, which strictly was no more than a head servant of the Zemindar's, and a superintendent of the writers and other servants employed in the revenues; which station someone or other must fill, without the least necessity of his gaining power, name, or equipage; at least I will venture to assure your Honor, &c. none shall, whilst I have the honor of being at the head of the office.

Metre objects to my charging him ten years on the six farms; to which I say, that where a fraud of three years is proved upon him, I see no injustice in concluding, that fraud was extended further, when the means were equally in his power, though perpetrated, possibly, by different methods. In this, I am sure, I treat him strictly conformable to his own laws, which himself has pleaded in his favor; but this charge I will further illustrate to your Honor in similar instances, where his clandestine gains have been much greater than those already laid before you. The Nimmuck Mahal, or Salt Farm, was farmed by Narratun Biswass, at 1651 / 10 / 6 in the year 1751, under a strict stipulation and order of the Zemindary, that he was to levy a duty on that article only of 15-1/2 annaes per cent when his year expired. Metre sent for one Ramram Bose, whom he took into his service, and placed in the management of that farm, telling him, the duty was now to be collected on the Company's account, with orders to let him know, at the end of two or three months, what it produced: this produce amounting, in the months of November, December, and January, to between 900 and 1000 Rupees, Metre takes the farm to himself, in the name of one Conju Bose; and as an instance of his merit and vigilance, advances to the Company 152 / 4 / 3 more than it farmed at the year before; this farm has ever since been in his hands, in fictitious names, at a small annual advance; and he has, according to my information, made in these 10 or 11 years, a profit of at least 40,000 Rupees on this farm: the proofs of this must in some degree rest with your Honor, &c. by strictly ordering the Amdanny and Russtanny accounts, or imports and exports of that article, to be laid before the Committee. When this farm was last year put up to public sale, by order of Mr. Burrow, your Honor, &c. may remark, it rose from 2400 to 4034 Rupees; a strong proof of the frauds committed in it.

The Vermillion Farm produced in 1738, Rupees 412; in 1739 Metre takes it at 200; and it has been in his hands clandestinely, in the names of his servants, ever since, and only raised to 225. His profits on this farm, I am informed, during these 13 or 14 years, amount to Rupees 30,000 at least
: the proof of which must likewise, as in the last article, rest on your Honor, &c. by ordering him to lay the accounts of both, on his oath, before the Committee.

In the duty on Chinam, timbers, and sale of boats, I find, by extracts from the several Assammees Books, Rupees 960 / 2 collected by Connuram Tagoor, from November last to June inclusive, of which there is only brought to credit annually about 300 Rupees; so that there has been an annual fraud in it at least of 1000 Rupees: and I think no body will say or believe, that this servant of Metre's can have secreted this annual sum.

After all, it might have been imagined, that, since the Company had been thus defrauded in the annual sale of their farms, those sums for which they were sold (howsoever less than their real value) would at least have been brought to their credit; but on the contrary, I am sorry to advise your Honor, &c. that has not been the case; for having ordered the best Moories I could employ, to draw out, by way of account current, a statement of the yearly amount of the Pottahs and the credits, as they stand in the monthly account revenues, from 1738 to November 1751, I find no less a sum than Rupees 7219, not brought to credit; so that it is too strictly verified, what I have before asserted, that there has been no method unessayed by this man, where there was a possibility of his injuring the trust reposed in him.

I have nothing more to trouble your Honor, &c. with, in reply to his answer of the 17th, than to aver, he has never been debarred inspecting any book whatever in the Cutcherry, that he might think necessary for his defense; and I have given orders, that he may take any copies from thence he pleases. His letter of the 24th needs no reply, as the confuting it wholly depends on proofs to be laid before the Committee: for my own part, I must once more repeat my opinion, that his frauds are too obvious to afford a doubt; but the most convincing proof of them will appear in the increase of the revenues, which points out to me an expedient for your Honor, &c.'s deliberation, that in my own judgment carries great equity with it, and would save us from a most tedious task, which must result from a particular enquiry into every article of his frauds.

I believe it can hardly be imagined, that, with our utmost vigilance and attention, we shall be able to make so much of the Company's revenues, as has been made of them whilst under his management; notwithstanding which, I would propose, that he give good and sufficient security to refund two-thirds of the medium of the increase on two years revenues, commencing from the first of July last; and the better to estimate in what sum he shall be obliged to give security, I will suppose a medium increase of 30,000 Rupees, (and less, I will venture to say, will not be and yet the poor in many circumstances relieved) two-thirds of which shall he deemed the sum the Company has been annually defrauded of, whilst the revenues have been under his conduct; hence the security will be in the sum of 560,000 Rupees. I am afraid your Honor, &c. will think me too indulgent to Metre in this proposition, as there will be so considerable a loss of interest to the Company: however, I will submit it, as it is, to your determination. Touching the examination in council of Anderam Dutt, and Rogu Metre, I beg to be indulged a few words more, just to observe that the contested accounts between them are foreign to my charge; it is enough that it is supported by the confession of Rogu-Metre, and the depositions of Anderam Dutt, and Bulram Podar; so that I must still be of opinion, the Company have an undoubted claim on Roju Metre for the 460 Rupees, as neither he, nor anyone else, in my judgment, can be justified in making a property of the Company to reimburse themselves, even supposing he had any just demand on Anderam, which I have too much reason to believe was not the case. I remain, most respectfully,

Honorable Sir and Sirs,
Your most obedient humble servant.

P. S. Since my closing the above, my Moories have brought me in their report of the deficiencies in the duty on exportation of Rice, by which I find the Company defrauded of Rupees 8605 / 8 / 6 from Anno 1738, to April 1752, including 1175 / 15 / 6 Rupees, which stand in his account frauds confessed. Permit me to remark, that as Metre has been hardy enough to embezzle such considerable sums on the farms, and on this last mentioned article of duty on Rice exported, though both under the check of an English register, what bounds can we suppose restrained him during the preceding 14 years on the whole of the revenues, when he had no check at all upon him: for I can trace no Cutcherry accounts prior to 1738. If I ask for the accounts of the Gunge before it was farmed I am told they were washed away in the great storm; and if I enquire for any other accounts relative to the revenues, antecedent to the above year, I am told the White Ants have destroyed them.

I am, (ut supra.)

***

To the Honorable Roger Drake, Esq; President and Governor of Fort William, &c. Council.

Honorable Sir and Sirs,

In obedience to your commands touching our Honorable Masters letter of the 16th January 1752, I now lay before you, the result of my enquiries into the several particulars relative to the office of the Zemindary, and state of the Company's revenues; but as a scrutiny of this kind is entirely new, and accompanied with very few traces to guide me in the search, your Honor, &c. I hope will not think I have been tardy in the execution of your orders. As the task assigned me has really been a very heavy, though necessary one, yet I have had this satisfaction attending it, that thereby the Company's revenues will in future be put on such a footing, that it will be scarcely possible for further depredations to be made on them of any consequence, as not only the board, but every succeeding Zemindar, may at any time, and at one view, acquire a knowledge of every branch of the Company's duties. The accounts of which, to the minutest article, are now kept in English, by which means the President and Council will have it in their power, to be a constant check upon the Zemindar, as collector of the revenues, and the Zemindar on the subordinate servants of the Cutcherry, to whose management (from the fluctuating post of the Zemindar, his deficiency in the language, and the want of some work of this kind) the revenues have in a manner been abandoned, though unavoidably so, from the above causes.

2d. A reply to the latter part of our Honorable Masters first paragraph will with more propriety come from your Honor, &c.; however I must beg leave just to give you my thoughts on the subject, which possibly may coincide with your own, otherwise you will doubtless reply to it more fully, and correct me where you think I may have erred. As to a rehearing of any matter determined in the Cutcherry, to a certain value, I submit it to your Honor, &c. whether an established order or rule of Cutcherry to this purport, would not be attended with the utmost inconvenience; for as these people are beyond doubt the most litigious people existing, it is as certain that no cause to that value would ever be determined without a rehearing. At the same time, permit me to observe, that it is hardly to be imagined a Zemindar would refuse to rehear any cause, upon proper representations made to him; but our Honorable Masters will be convinced, from copy of the judicial proceedings transmitted them, that the Zemindar who pursues the same method, will need little check on his judgments regarding property; for it will there appear an invariable rule, to have every cause determined by arbitrators of the parties own choosing, unless in claims so obvious as to admit of no contest, such as those arising on mortgages, &c., or those of very small value, where the parties are so indigent as not to be able to pay the fees on the arbitration bonds. And when the arbitrators happen to be equally divided in their judgments, the Zemindar interferes no farther than in nominating an umpire, who shall be acceptable to both parties; but if objected to by either, then each to nominate an umpire, and chance to determine; but an instance of this last kind has not happened since I have been in the office. Wherever it appears that the Zemindary embezzles the Company's revenues, oppresses the people, or is guilty of corruption in his judicial proceedings, our Honorable Masters have left it to your Honor, &c. the redressing these evils, by suspending him from his post; but an appeal from his judgments I do not think the nature of the office will admit of, as they are put in execution as soon as pronounced; but if your Honor, &c. think otherwise, I shall most cheerfully submit to any orders you shall transmit me on that head. Our Honorable Masters, by ordering an English register of the proceedings and fines to be regularly kept, and from time to time to be laid before you, and directing the assistants to attend on Cutcherry days, appear to me to have been the best checks on the Zemindar that could have been devised, to which permit me to recommend to your Honor, &c. that you issue an order from the board, that no Zemindar in future presume to determine any cause privately at his own house, but in public Cutcherry, as the contrary practice may give a latitude to much iniquity.

3d. Under your Honor's, &c. influence and orders, the intentions of our Honorable Masters as set forth in their second paragraph, are already in part put in execution. The farms have been sold at public outcry, agreeable to their instructions, and the poor are relieved by remitting six of the lowest farms, as producing little more to the Company than discredit. The season being now arrived for measuring the ground, my utmost care and attention shall be employed in putting our Honorable Masters orders on that head in execution. In conformity to your Honor, &c. orders, I have made the strictest scrutiny into the several charges of Banians, writers, and other servants of the Cutcherry, under the denomination of Pikes, Peons, and Buckserries; also the charge of Chowkey Boats; and for the reduction made in these articles, I refer you to the several monthly accounts revenues for July, August, September and October, ready to be laid before you, as soon as the months of May and June are passed in council: I have also made the like scrutiny into the heavy charge of repairing the roads, drains, &c. and making and repairing the several Cutcherry, and Chowkey houses, the exorbitancy of which will best appear from the future charges in these particulars. And to illustrate the benefit arising to our Honorable Employers from your orders touching the monthly charges Zemindary, I beg leave to inform your Honor, &c. that I have taken the medium of the last three years nominal and real current charges of this office, as being the lowest, and find it amount to Current Rupees 29818 per annum: the charge of servants under every denomination and Chowkey Boats stands for October reduced to 1567 Rupees per mensem, (or thereabouts, for it is impossible to specify within five or ten Rupees) or 18804 Current Rupees per annum, to this I will add the large allowance of 1200 Rupees per annum, account repairing the roads, &c. and making and repairing the several Cutcherries and Chowkey houses, and other incidental charges; which makes the whole annual charges Zemindary amount only to 20,004 Rupees, from which I think it cannot vary 200 Rupees. Thus I have the pleasure of demonstrating to your Honor, &c. an annual saving of near 10,000 Rupees. And if the present charge can in any shape, with propriety, be further reduced, my utmost endeavors shall not be wanting. In regard to the last part of this paragraph, and part of the third, I have only to observe to your Honor, &c. for the information of our Honorable Masters, that the Dussutary, or 10 per Cent on the annual sale of the farms, from the best intelligence I can acquire, has been exacted from the farmers, (I believe with the knowledge of the board) by every Zemindar (Mr. Jackson excepted) as an established fee or perquisite; but how this custom obtained, or by what appointment it became established, I cannot learn. Be this as it may, it will require very few words to demonstrate, the Company have suffered this deduction on their farms for 13 or 14 years, and that they, and not the farmers, have been the losers. The value affixed to each farm has been in current rupees; but the Dussutary collected has been always in Madrass Rupees, (the Gunge excepted) which is adding 10 per Cent upon the Dussutary. This article is now brought to the credit of the Company, and points out another gain of current Rupees 645, as per account sales of the farms 20th October, already before you. I have only to add, that every Cutcherry allowance, fee, and perquisite, formerly appropriated to the Zemindar, are now also duly brought to the Company's credit.

4th, Our Honorable Masters 5th paragraph remains now only to be spoke to, wherein we are directed to transmit them a particular description of the several branches of duty belonging to the Zemindary, with the several articles of revenue, under the inspection of the Zemindar, and explain the nature of them. To make this description the more intelligible, I think it expedient to divide the whole of the Company's revenues under three heads; viz. Ground-rent, Farms, and the several duties arising on articles not farmed, but collected daily, and arising from the current transactions of the Cutcherry. Touching the first head, I imagine I shall have occasion to address your Honor, &c. largely, when I have completed the measurement of the ground; so that what I lay before you now on this subject, I take as standing at present on the Cutcherry books, and would only have it esteemed as a short introduction to that period.

The town of Calcutta is divided into four principal districts, under the denominations of Dee Calcutta, (under which John Nagore is included) Govindpoore, Soota Nutty, and Bazar Calcutta; to each of which, and to the great Bazar, are appropriated a distinct Cutcherry, whose accounts are all transmitted to, and center in the great Cutcherry of Dee Calcutta. These four districts contain 5472-1/2 Bega of ground, (each containing 20 Cotta) on which the Company receive ground-rent at 3 Sicca Rupees per Bega per annum, some few places excepted, hereafter to be specified, which pay a less rent. Exclusive of the above 5472-1/2 Bega, the Company possess 733 Bega, which pay no ground-rent. The distribution of ground that pays rent, and that which pays none, is as follows, viz.

Ground-rent received on (Bega Cotta)

Dee Calcutta 1704 / 3 Containing houses 3422
Soota Nutty 1861 / 5 / 1/2 Containing houses 2374
Govindpoor 1044 / 13 / 1/2 Containing houses 1753
Bazar Calcutta 560 / 2 / 1/2 Containing houses 989
John Nagore 228 / 1 / 1/2 Containing houses 606
Baag Buzar 57 / 17 / 1/4 Containing houses 173
Lott Buzar 10 / 9 Containing houses 81
Santose Buzar 5 / 8 / 1/2 Containing houses 53
Total= 5472 / 733 / 0 / 1/2
Total of the Company's Ground = 6205 / 0 / 1/2
Potta's, or houses. Each potta or house possessing on an average something short of 1 Bega and 15 Cotta of Ground, i.e., 1-3/4 B. = 9451


Ground on which no rent is received. (Bega Cotta.)

Ground occupied by the Company 310 / 5 / 1/2
Donations 16 / 11
Churches 7 / 19
Moors Mosques 15 / 7 / 1/2
To Gentoo Idols 13 / 13
Given to sundry Bramins 242
Given to the Gentoo Poor 14 / 12
Given to the Moors Poor 30 / 15
Grounds bought by devout persons to make Tanks 62 / 18 / 1/2
Indulgences 18 / 10 / 1/2
Total Bega = 733


Within the Company's bounds, there is also ground possessed by proprietors, independent of our Government, to the amount of about 3050 Bega, according to the exactest estimate I can at present make, viz.

The district of Simlea = 1000
Molunga = 800
Mirzapoor = 1000
Hogulcourea = 250
Total B. = 3050


These 3050 Bega, calculated agreeably to the foregoing proportion, will be found to contain 5207 houses; which, added to those under the Company's protection, will make the whole amount of houses 14718. I add them together, because they equally contribute to the consumption of those articles, on which the Company's revenues arise. The independence of the above 4 districts arose from the towns originally belonging to different Proprietors; and when the Phirmaund gave us a grant to purchase these towns, with the restriction of satisfying the Zemindars, some of them could not be prevailed upon to alienate theirs: so that in consequence they have remained distinct and independent ever since. The proprietors of the above 14718 houses, for distinction sake, I will call Principal Tenants, or Holders of Pottas; who have again their lodgers or under-tenants, within the limits of their respective Pottas, in the following proportion on an average, agreeably to the exactest judgment I can make, as well as the best information Ihave acquired, viz. each principal Potta-holder, who possesses 1 Bega of ground, has five under-tenants who hold of him; therefore, adding the 3050 Bega contained in the four independent towns, to the 5472 Bega, the property of the Company, the whole amount of Bega's will be 8522; and this again multiplied by six, will give the number of houses that are properly in Calcutta, viz. 51132; and this sum again multiplied by 8, a very moderate estimate of the inhabitants contained in each house, it gives the number of souls in Calcutta, viz. 409056 constant inhabitants, without reckoning the multitude that daily come in and return, but yet who add to the consumption of the place. I will trouble your Honor, &c. at present on this subject, no farther than just to reduce the Bega into English measure, and point out to our Honorable Masters the extent of ground they possess in this settlement. The Bega is in length 126-1/2 feet, which, multiplied into itself, gives 16,002 square feet in a square Bega; an acre contains square feet 43,560: therefore a Bega is to an Acre, as 367 to 1000, or as 11 to 30 the nearest.

5th. The farms come next under consideration; and first of the Gunge, or Mondy Bazar, situated in the district of Govindpoore. Touching this article, I can obtain no accounts prior to the year 1738, all preceding accounts of it being (as I am told) destroyed in the great storm. This farm has produced to the Company, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738-6501
1739 - 6505
1740 - 9025
1741 - 6655
1742 - 6655
1743 - 7600
1744 - 8500
1745 - 11200
1746 - 13201
1747 - 17002
1748 - 18203
1749 - 14004
1750 - 10100
1751 - 12010
1752 - 22760
Current Rs 169921 The medium 11328 per ann.


The several articles on which a duty is collected at the Gunge are Rice, Paddy, Gram, and all other kinds of Grain; as also on Tobacco, Gee, Matts, Poultry, Bay Leaves, Thread, Beeds, Cloth, Oil, Gunnys, Coposs, Seeds, Beatlenut exported: in short, on every article that comes within the denomination of common food, or the common necessaries of life. The duty collected by the Farmer of the Gunge on Rice, at 1 Maund per Rupee, is the nearest 8 per cent and on every other article 3 Pices Sicca per Rupee, or 1 Rupee 9 Annaes per Cent. Concerning this farm, I shall trouble your Honor, &c. with nothing more here, as I shall again speak to it in some general remarks on the farms, after I have particularized each of them, to which I shall now proceed in the order of their sales the 20th of October last.

6th. Soota Nutty Market, and Suba Buzar, have yielded, since they were first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 3504
1739 - 3539
1740 - 3397
1741 - 4012
1742 - 3532
1743 - 3758
1744 - 3991
1745 - 4332
1746 - 4171
1747 - 4370
1748 - 4422.
1749 - 4599
1750 - 4849
1751 - 5000
1752 - 7510
Current Rs 65037 Medium per ann. 4835 / 12-1/2


Soota Nutta Market is held twice a Week, viz. on Thursdays and Sundays, on which a Duty is collected by the Farmer, viz.

Retailers of Cowrees
Cotton Thread
Apothecaries Shops
Oil Shops
Hard-ware Shops
Tyar Shops
Milk Shops
Jaggree Shops
Sweetmeat Shops
Smiths Shops
Silversmith Shops
Chinam Shops
Tobacco Shops
Fire-wood Shops
Straw
Matts
Bamboos
Braziers Shops
Beetlenut Shops
Greens
Sugar-canes
Plantien Shops
Tamarind Shops
Cucumber's Shops
Fishmongers
Trees
Roasted Rice Shops
Weavers Shops
Potters Shops
Salt Shops
Cloth Shops
Rice Shops
Venison Shops
Shoe-makers Shops
Paddy


These several articles have an established charge or rate, from one Gunda of Cowries to 6 Pund per diem, on each shop, bundle, bag, or piece according to the different value and species of goods.

Gram, Horse, Mustard Seed, Wheat: Imported from Hougley, and other places up the River, pays 6 Gundas of Cowrees on Each Rupee.

Oil, Ghee, Gram, Wheat, &c. imported from Arung Gotta, each boat 3 Madrass Rupees. Gram imported from the country round, pays 6 Pice on each Sicca Rupee, or 3 R. 2 per Cent.

Sugar, on each Bag = 2 Annaes
Ghee, on each Dupper = 6 Annaes
Honey, on each Dupper = 2 Annaes.


Coarse Ps. goods pay a duty from 4 to 15 Gundas on each piece. Rice retailers pay 15 Chitants, or 15/16th of a Seer, on each Rupee worth.

I have been the more particular on this market, that I may not be under the necessity of specifying so minutely the articles on which the duty is collected in the other markets and bazars, as they are nearly the same; and the same estimation of duty will in general hold with very little difference; only, for the information of such of our Honorable Masters as have not been conversant with these parts, I will add, that a Gunda is 4 Cowries, 20 Gundas 1 Pund, 16 Punds 1 Cowand, and 2 Cowands, 10, 12, or 13 Punds, (according to the value of Cowries) make one Rupee Arcot. Soota Nutty market, and Suba Bazar, have been generally held by the same person, as the one may be called the key to the other: and is in different hands, would occasion endless disputes; the articles on which a duty is collected in Suba Bazar are nearly the same as in the market, though in a less quantity, and in a more retail way.

7th. Connected with the foregoing Market and Bazar, are the following seven farms; for they have been generally, for the above reasons, held by the same person, as being all in the district of Sooty Nutty, though sold separately, and now in one lot; viz. Baag Bazar Market, Baag Bazar, Charles Bazar Market, Charles Bazar, Doobaparrah Bazar, Hautcolla Bazar, and Soota Nutty's burthen'd Oxen. These different Markets and Bazars have produced, from their being first farmed, as follows: viz.

Ao 1738 - 1255
1739 -1364
1740 - 589
1741 - 627
1742 - 1891
1743 - 1845
1744 - 1879
1745 - 1939
1746 - 1560
1747 - 1519
1748 - 1612
1749 - 1697
1750 - 1732
1751 - 1761
1752 - 2001
Current Rs 23271 Medium 1551 / 6 / 4 per ann.


The duties levied in these Bazars and Markets, as well as the articles on which they are levied, so nearly resemble those already specified, that it is needless troubling your Honor, &c. with the particulars. Soota Nutty's Koora Pacha, or burdened Oxen, is levied as follows:

Every tenant who keeps oxen, to convey merchandise out and into the town, pays the farmer, 8a. 6 p. per each oxen, per annum; with these exceptions, that those employed in the Salt Trade pay only 6 a. 6 p. per annum each; and those employed to import and export Meal, pay only 3 Annaes Sicca each, per annum.


8th. The Great Buzar, under the district of Dee Calcutta, is farmed out in three partitions, (but generally held by the same person) under the heads of, 1st, Jow Bazary, or duty on greens, fish, roots, pans, &c. common necessaries of life, as to food and utensils. 2dly, Iron, gee, sugar, beetlenut, &c. merchandise. And 3dly, the duty of Koyally or Jouldary. The first of these is farmed in November with the rest of the farms, but the 2d and 3d in April, The Jow Bazary has produced, since it was first farmed, viz.

Ao 1738 - 1650
1739 - 2029
1740 - 1980
1741 - 1765
1742 - 1804
1743 - 1994
1744 - 2007
1745 - 2307
1746 - 2185
1747 - 2185
1748 - 2285
1749 - 2400
1750 - 2400
1751 - 2600
1752 - 3500
Current Rs 33091 Medium 2206 / 1 per ann.


The duties collected by the farmer on the above mentioned articles are nearly in the same proportion as specified in my 6th paragraph.

The 2d partition of the Great Bazar is the duty on iron, gee, sugar, &c. the Pattah for which, as well as for the Jouldary, does not expire till April next. This Farm has produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 1101
1739 - 1155
1740 - 1156
1741 - 1156
1742 - 1250
1743 - 1150
1744 - 1200
1745 - 1320
1746 - 1347
1747 - 1345
1748 - 1345
1749 - 1367
1750 - 1662
1751 - 2100
1752 - 2100
Current Rs 20754 Medium, 1383 / 9 / 7 per ann.


R. A. P.

Iron pays a duty of 1 / 15 / 3 both when imported and exported.
Ballasore Stone Dishes pay 16 / 0 / 0 per 100 Dishes.
Ballasore Stone Cups, 8 / 0 / 0 per 100 Cups.
Beetlenut pays a duty of 1 / 15 / 3 per cent both imports and exports.
Pepper, Copper, Tootenague, Lead, Dammer, Cotch, Chanks, pay a duty of 2 per cent on imports and exports.
Sugar pays 4 Annaes, per each Oxen Load of 2 Bags.
Gee pays 8 Annaes, 6 Punds per each Oxen Load.
Honey, wheat and Wax, 2 per cent on imports and exports.
Oil and Jaggree, 2 Seer, per each Oxen Load, and 5 Pund for each Ox
Ophirim, 2 per cent.
Rice and Grain imported, 2 Seers, 8 Chittack, per each Oxen Load.
Rice and Grain exported, 1 Seer, 4 Chittack, per Rupee.
Gram, imported, pays 6 Punds, 1 Cowrie, per Rupee.
Turmeric, Ginger, Sandle Wood, Red Lead, Long Pepper, Saltpetre, Lack, Gunnys, &c. sundries, pay a duty 2 per cent.
Tobacco imported, pay 2 Annaes, 3 Ps. per Oxen Load.
Tobacco, exported, 2 per cent and 2 Punds of Cowries for each Ox.
Brass Plates, pay a duty of 8 Annaes per Maund, on both imports and exports.

 
10th, The third partition of the Great Buzar, farmed in the Month of April, is the Jouldary, or Weighman's duty, of 1 Seer, 4 Chittacks, Per Rupee, levied on all Rice, Paddy, Gram, Wheat, &c. Grain imported in the Great Buzar. This duty has produced to the Company, since the first farming; viz.

Ao 1738 - 726
1739 - 717
1740 - 716
1741 - 731
1742 - 1108
1743 - 700
1744 - 1036
1745 - 1139
1746 - 1164
1747 - 1164
1748 - 1180
1749 - 1219
1750 - 1337
1751 - 1900
1752 - 1900
Current Rs 16737 Medium 1115 / 12 / 2 per ann.


Govindpoore Market, Beggum Buzar, and Gostallah Buzar, are sold in one lot, and have been generally held by the same person, as lying nearly contiguous to each other. They have produced to the Company, since their being first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 992
1739 - 1058
1740 - 1150
1741 - 1096
1742 - 1106
1743 - 1468
1744 - 1468
1745 - 1568
1746 - 1567
1747 - 1708
1748 - 1868
1749 - 2048
1750 - 2100
1751 - 1905
1752 - 2305
Current Rs 23407 Medium 1560 / 6 / 4.


Govindpoore Market is held twice in a week, viz. on Tuesdays and Saturdays; and the articles on which a duty is levied by the Farmer are nearly the same as in Soota Nutty Market; the duties from 4 Gundas to 6 P. 10 G. on each piece, bundle, basket, or shop, per diem, according to the different value, consumption, or estimation of the goods.

12th, Loll Buzar, and Santese Buzar, situate in the district of Dee Calcutta, have yielded to the Company; viz.

Ao 1738 - 1584
1739 - 1780
1740 - 1857
1741 - 1640
1742 - 1792
1743 - 2255
1744 - 2255
1745 - 1660
1746 - 1635
1747 - 1560
1748 - 1720
1749 - 1840
1750 - 2000
1751 - 2090
1752 - 1855
Current Rs 27523 Medium 1834 / 12 / 9 per ann.


The article: and duties nearly the same as already particularized in the other Bazars.

13th, Nimmuck Mohul, or the Salt Farm, situated in Soota Nutty, has produced, since it was first farmed; viz.

Ao 1738 - 316
1739 - 607
1740 - 723
1741 - 1651
1742 - 1651
1743 - 1825
1744 - 1825
1745 - 1900
1746 - 1900
1747 - 200l
1748 - 2025
1749 - 2100
1750 - 2400
1751 - 4030
1752 - 5150
Current Rs 30104 Medium 2006 / 14 / 11.


The duty levied on Salt imported and exported, at 3 Pice Sicca per Rupee, or 3 Rupees 2 Annaes per Cent.

Jouldary, or Weighman, 6 Annaes Sicca per Maund.

On Oxen employed in this service, 1 Rupee per 20 Oxen.

Retailers of Salt pays 2 Annaes Sicca per 0/0 Maund.

There is an exemption on all Salt imported on account of Coja Wazeid, who pays only 1 Rupee per 0/0 Maund, both on Salt imported and exported.

The whole duty levied on Salt amounts to 3 Rupees 15 Annaes per cent.

14th, Dee Calcutta's Market, and the Duty on the Roads, and Salt in Baskets, have produced, since it was first farmed; viz.

Ao 1738 - 578
1739 - 577
1740 - 605
1741 - 605
1742 - 412
1743 - 700
1744 - 475
1745 - 700
1746 - 513
1747 - 597
1748 - 648
1749 - 682
1750 - 703
1751 - 715
1752 - 620
Current Rs 9130 Medium, 608 / 10 / 8


Dee Calcutta Market is held in the Chourangey Road, leading to Collegot. Articles and Duties as in other markets already specified. The duty on the Roads had its rise on this occasion: Collegot Market and Govindpoore Market being held both on a Saturday, numbers of the tenants resorting to Collegot Market, to the injury of that at Govindpoore, it was found necessary to check this resort, or counterbalance it, by levying a tax on every article imported from Collegot, in proportion to that levied on the same articles at Govindpoore Market. The duty on Salt imported in baskets on Cooleys heads, is 7 G. 1/2 of Cowries, and one handful of Salt: and when resold or exported, it pays a duty to the Salt Farm, of 3 Pice Sicca, per Rupee.

15th, Sam Buzar, and New Buzar, both situated in Dee Calcutta, and now thrown into one lot, have produced to the Company, since they were first farmed, as follows; viz.

Ao 1738 - 1237
1739 - 1340
1740 - 1391
1741 - 1427
1742 - 1450
1743 - 1895
1744 - 1993
1745 - 2571
1746 - 2233
1747 - 2434
1748 - 2483
1749 - 2483
1750 - 2833
1751 - 4600
1752 - 4500
Current Rs 34920 Medium 2328 Ann.


16th, John Buzar, and Burtholla Buzar, situated in Dee Calcutta, and, from their neighborhood, united in one Farm, have produced as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 550
1739 - 577
1740 - 576
1741 - 576
1742 - 576
1743 - 577
1744 - 577
1745 - 577
1746 - 600
1747 - 602
1748 - 725
1749 - 624
1750 - 1324
1751 - 1124
1752 - 1836
Current Rs 11421 Medium 761 / 6 / 4


Articles and Duties as in other Bazars.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:59 am

Part 4 of 10

Abstract of the net balances of the Revenues, paid annually into the treasury, from April 1738, to April anno 1752, inclusive.

1737, to 1738 / 26206 / 6 / 6
1738, to 1739 / 39273 / 13 / 3
1739, to 1740 / 42518 / 1 / 3
1740, to 1741 / 38062 / 13 / 0
1741, to 1742 / 35656 / 13 / 0
1742, to 1743 / 37267 / 10 / 0 
1743, to 1744 / 44249 / 13 / 6
1744, to 1745 / 39202 / 14 / 0
1745, to 1746 / 32858 / 11 / 0
1746, to 1747 / 34755 / 7 / 9
1747, to 1748 / 30124 / 13 / 6
1748, to 1749 / 37679 / 7 / 3
1749, to 1750 / 46461 / 1 / 0
1750, to 1751 / 39449 / 13 / 3
1751, to 1752 / 34506 / 15 / 0
Total / 295039 / 2 / 9


By casting out the middle year 1744 to 1745, your Honor, &c. will observe that the net produce of the revenues in the first seven years, exceeded the net produce in the latter seven years by Rupees 7399 / 2 / 9, which at first sight would appear an incident very amazing, when we see the farms increased in a duplicate proportion; but when you consider the foregoing sheets, and the scenes so lately laid before you, I believe the causes will be too obvious longer to occasion any great wonder, or to require my giving you the trouble of a farther explication; therefore should now relieve you by closing this very long address, did not a letter laid before the Board by Govindram Metre, under date the 20th November, loudly call for a reply from me, which I cannot more properly convey to you than in the channel of this work, as it is so pertinent to my subject. Your Honor, &c. was pleased the ult. on motion from a member of the board, to order Metre to be called before the council, and asked how it came to pass, the farms sold so much higher this year than they did the last? I will not enquire what motive urged this question at this particular juncture, only with all submission say, it never could have been moved for, or granted with less propriety; for these reasons: It is no longer ago than the 11th October, that a majority of the Board voted (in my humble judgment, contrary to the very nature and essence of trust and servitude, as well as to Metre's own concession) that Metre was not from the nature of his office in trust for the Company; then, to what end this question? for as he was deemed not in trust, he consequently could not be deemed accountable: Why, Gentlemen, was not this question asked him the last year, when on Mr. Barrow's knowledge of his being the farmer, the Salt Farm was sold at public outcry, and produced 1600 Rupees more than it did the year before? Why was he not asked the like question, when, on the same intelligence, Mr. Manningham, by previous and public notice given of the sale of the two latter partitions of the great Bazar to the highest bidder, obtained 1000 Rupees more for it than it produced the preceding year? Had you, Gentlemen, been less attentive to whatever causes urged this motion and question, you would have been more so to what has been before you, and would have been sensible that the farms (the Gunge excepted) were so far from selling at an advanced rate this year, that in truth they have sold for less than they did the preceding one, though Metre, and not our Honorable Masters, was the gainer; which gain the majority voted he was not accountable for. Had due regard been paid to my letter of the 13th August, your Honor, &c. would have recollected that Soota Nutty market, and Suba Buzar, with their dependent seven farms, sold in 1749, 1750, and 1751, (the years Metre confesses he held them in fictitious names) as follows, wherein I shall beg leave to remind you at one view of the Company's credits, Metre's gain, and the sales for the present year.

Year / Company's credits. Soota Nutty Haut, and Suba Bazar, bought by Metre. (Rs.) / Confessed to be resold by Metre on his own account for / Sales 20th October 1752. Soota Nutty Haut, and Suba Bazar.
1749 / 4850 / 7122 / 7500
1750 / 5000 / 7696 / --
1751 / 5000 / 8057 / --

Seven dependent farms.
1749 / 1523 / 2303 / --
1750 / 1557 / 2075 / 2001
1751 / 1625 / 2147 / --


It is pretty plain, I believe, now to your Honor, &c. what little real foundation there was for this question at the juncture it was moved for, and granted; and I wish it may not appear something strange to our Honorable Employers, that, instead of it, Metre was not asked, how the above farms the three last years came to sell for so much more on his own account than he favored the Company with? Had you, Gentlemen, done me the honor of asking me the question you put to Metre (to whom I must think it more properly belonged) I should, in few words, have informed you of two very obvious causes, which I conceive occasioned so much more to be brought to the Company's credit on their farms this year than was the last, or any heretofore, viz. 1st, Public and unbiased sale to the best bidder. 2dly, Metre not having it in his power to keep the Salt Farm, the Great Bazar, the Vermillion Farm, Soota Nutty Haut, Suba Bazar, the seven Dependent Farms, &c. in his own hands, at what price he pleased. Your Honor, &c. must smile when you reflect on the labor Govindram Metre has taken in his said letter of the 20th November, to account for a fact that does not exist, since I have proved, and he has confessed, the above farms sold last year in reality for Rupees 693 more than they have this; which verifies a conclusion I have made elsewhere, that notwithstanding our utmost assiduity, it will hardly be in our power to make that gain on the Company's revenues, that he has done whilst under his conduct: the above farms were those only I was then enabled fully to detect him in; but I will conclude similar methods were used in the disposal of the rest, as they have sold this year at a proportional advance on the credits of last year. To conclude, I will suppose the fact which Metre would account for; and yet the solution which he has so artfully and speciously drawn out, must appear to have no solid foundation on the (lightest examination; for it is impossible the dearness or cheapness of grain can much influence the rise or fall of the revenues, though the duty is collected on the gross sales; for is this is enhanced by a year of scarcity, a year of plenty will make the balance nearly equal to the farmer, by the larger quantity imported: for his position, that the consumption must be nearly equal, is also very fallacious, or we should not have beheld the multitude we have this season dead, and dying in our streets, or the many thousands of walking skeletons this scarcity has produced; nor should I have been witness to so many afflicting instances of parents selling their children for a Rupee a-piece, or giving them away for want of food to support them, if the consumption had been nearly equal. But facts speak themselves: it is evident this scarcity has not influenced the revenues, or if it has, that in truth it has influenced them in a sense opposite to what he would prove, as the farms produced more last year, though grain, at the time they sold, was more than as plentiful again than it has been this year; that the Gunge should sell for so much more this year than ever it did, is to me not so astonishing, as that it has not always produced it very nearly, at least for many years last past. The annual imports of rice to the Gunge, from the best information I can acquire, amount at least to 400,000 Maunds, on which the farmer's duty on the importer of 9 Pice Sicca per Rupee, and his duty from the buyer of Koyally of 1 Seer 4 Ch. per Rupee, comes to 7 Rupees 13 Annaes 1 per cent, estimating 1 Maund per Rupee; and if we add the Poudary, Foorea, and the duty of 3 Pice Sicca per Rupee on the articles specified in my 5th paragraph, we shall find, on an average, that the farmer collects above 9 per cent on the whole of the imports at the Gunge; but if we estimate only on the 8 per cent, the nearest which he collects on rice, we shall find his duty on 400,000 Maunds, at 1 Maund per Rupee, will yield 32,000 Rupees. Eight years out of 15 that the Gunge has been farmed, it has been held by Metre wholly or in part: And further, to disprove his reasons in the abovementioned letter, he pays for it in 1747, Rupees 17,002, though rice was from August to December, from 1 Maund to 1 Maund 15 Seer per Rupee; and the year following he pays 18,203 Rupees for it, and rice from 33 Seer 1 Maund 10 Seer per Rupee; and though I believe there never was a greater prospect of plenty than the ensuing year promises, yet it has sold for Rupees 22,760, which is quite sufficient to evince, that other causes than dearness or cheapness of grain, &c. have influenced the rise and fall of the revenue. What those were, and the farther investigation of them, I must submit to your Honor, &c. as well as the redress I must humbly insist is due on the behalf of our Honorable Employers. That injurious advantages have been made of their revenues, I have proved beyond a doubt; on you, Gentlemen, it lies to determine where, and to what uses they have been sequestered. I am most respectfully,

Honorable Sir and Sirs,
Your most obedient humble servant,
Fort William, 15th December, 1752.

J. Z. H. Zemin.

***

17th, The Glass-Makers Farm has produced, since it was first farmed, as follows; viz.

Ao 1738 - 142
1739 - 149
1740 - 287
1741 - 478
1742 - 220
1743 - 506
1744 - 396
1745 - 420
1746 - 380
1747 - 380
1748 - 400
1749 - 400
1750 - 500
1751 - 550
1752 - 865
Current Rs 6073 Medium 404 / 13 / 10


To the Farmer is granted the sole right of manufacturing this Article; and whoever is proved to set up any shop, or otherwise interfere in it, without his license, is liable to fine and imprisonment.

18th, The Vermilion-Farm has produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 225
1739 - 200
1740 - 225
1741 - 225
1742 - 225
1743 - 225
1744 - 225
1745 - 225
1746 - 225
1747 - 225
1748 - 200
1749 - 200
1750 - 200
1751 - 200
1752 - 900
Current Rs 3925 Medium 823 / 1


The sole manufacturing this Article is also granted to the Farmer, as above.

19th. The Caulker's Farm has produced, since it was first farmed, at follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 863
1739 - 864
1740 - 991
1741 - 991
1742 - 991
1743 - 1100
1744 - 991
1745 - 900
1746 - 800
1747 - 800
1748 - 800
1749 - 500
1750 - 500
1751 - 525
1752 - 730
Current Rs 12346 Medium 823 / 1


The right of exercising the Ship-Caulker's business is solely invested in the Farmer, who gives his license to the Workers, and receives a stated tax from them of 1 Pund of Cowries per diem, and 10 Gundas on each Rupee their labor produces.

20th. The Tobacco Shops were not farmed till the year 1740, since when they have yielded as follows, viz.

Ao 1740 - 150
1741 - 143
1742 - 143
1743 - 143
1744 - 143
1745 - 143
1746 - 143
1747 - 143
1748 - 143
1749 - 123
1750 - 148
1751 - 123
1752 - 200
Current Rs 1888 Medium 125 / 13 / 6


The Farmer has the sole right of vending this article in the Bazars, and no shop can sell it that is not licensed by him.

Bang Shop's Farm has produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 1101
1739 - 1101
1740 - 1521
1741 - 1599
1742 - 1700
1743 - 1980
1744 - 1840
1745 - 1900
1746 - 1900
1747 - 1900
1748 - 1700
1749 - 1700
1750 - 1700
1751 - 1725
1752 - 1730
Current Rs. 25097 Medium 1675 / 2 / 1 An.


This Farm is conducted on the restrictions with the Tobacco Shops.

22d. The Farm of the Chest-Makers commenced not till the year 1748, and has yielded as follows, viz.

Ao 1748 - 150
1749 - 60
1750 - 70
1751 - 72
1752 - 75
Current Rs 327 Medium per Ann. 65 / 6 / 4


Every person employed in this business, is in the service of the Farmer, or works by his license.

23d. The Red-Lead Farm has subsisted only since 1746. The article of Lapis Tutiae is now, for the first time, added to it; the Farm of the Red Lead has produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1746 - 201
1747 - 201
1748 - 251
1749 - 121
1750 - 121
1751 - 130
1752 - 245
Current Rs 1270 Medium per Ann. 181 / 6 / 10


The sole right of this Manufacture is appropriated to the Farmer, nor can anyone engage in it without his license, for which he receives 2 Rupees per Mensem for each Furnace.

24th. The Dammur and Oakum was first farmed in the year 1746, and has produced, viz.

Ao 1745 - 336
1746 - 400
1747 - 424
1748 - 436
1749 - 500
1750 - 540
1751 - 680
1752 - 940
Current Rs 4256 Medium per Ann. 523


The sole right for vending these articles is invested in the Farmer, and none can deal in them without his license.

25th. Dee Calcutta and Govindpoore's burdened oxen have produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 192
1739 - 133
1740 - 192
1741 - 192
1742 - 175
1743 - 220
1744 - 220
1745 - 230
1746 - 230
1747 - 230
1748 - 240
1749 - 300
1750 - 350
1751 - 192
1752 - 575
Current Rupees 3671 Medium 244 / 11 / 8


Every person who keeps oxen for burden, within the districts of Dee Calcutta and Govindpoore, pays annually a tax to the farmer, of six Annaes each.

26th. Dee Calcutta and Bazar Calcutta's ferry-boats have produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 153
1739 - 154
1740 - 155
1741 - 155
1742 - 155
1743 - 155
1744 - 151
1745 - 155
1746 - 155
1747 - 155
1748 - 155
1749 - 155
1750 - 168
1751 - 164
1752 - 105
Current Rupees 2290 Medium, 152 / 10 / 8


The farmer of the ferry-boats of Dee Calcutta and Bazar Calcutta receives,

For each passenger, four Gundas of Cowries.
For each basket of greens, &c. ten Gundas.
For each cow, calf, horse, &c. one Pund.


27th. Fire-Work farm has produced, since it was first farmed, as follows, viz.

Ao 1738 - 64
1739 - 70
1740 - 72
1741 - 72
1742 - 75
1743 - 56
1744 - 59
1745 - 49
1746 - 56
1747 - 65
1748 - 66
1749 - 42
1750 - 59
1751 - 42
1752 - 150
Current Rupees 997 Medium 66 / 7 / 5


The manufacturing and vending all fire-works are invested in the farmer, who gives his license to others, on receiving a consideration satisfactory to the parties.

28th. Connected with Suba Bazar, were two small Bazars, the one situate at Harry Naut Duwan's stairs, and the other at Patrea Got, or the Stone stairs; these were always the perquisite of the Zemindar's Banian, and produced annually to the Company from 95 to 99 Rupees; they have now, by your Honor, &c's permission, been thrown into one farm, under the title of Ram Bazar, and produced, the 20th of October, 510 Rupees for the present year.

29. The duty on chinam and timbers imported, is now, for the first time, by your permission, farmed out, on representation of the frauds committed by the collectors of this duty, (vide proceedings Zemindary, under date the 8th instant;) it has sold this year for Current Rupees 437, more than double what has ever been brought to credit. The farmer levies two per cent on all chinam and timbers imported.

30th. The purchasing and vending old iron, tea-cattys, and old nails, was first farmed Anno 1751, for Rupees 60; its Pattah expired the first instant, and then sold for Rupees 565.

I have now gone through the several branches of the Revenues, contained under my second head of the farms, and beg leave to lay before your Honor, &c. at one view, in what degree they have increased, from the year 1738.

Anno 1738 - 22865
1739 - 24236
1740 - 27495
1741 - 26143
1742 - 26196
1743 - 30222
1744 - 31547
1745 - 35764
1746 - 36721
1747 - 41154
1748 - 43120
1749 - 39166
1750 - 37666
1751 - 44941
1752 - 60599


And supposing the remaining two partitions of the great Bazar sell in April next for 5000 (which is the least I will suppose) your Honor, &c. will have the pleasure of seeing the farms under your influence produce 65599 Rupees, a further gain to our Honorable Masters (for this year at least) of 20658. We see above, the farms, since 1738 to 1751 inclusive, have increased (within a trifle) in a duplicate proportion; and how the net balance of the revenues annually paid into the treasury will answer this proportion, is a circumstance I will beg leave to discuss, when I have gone through my third head of those articles not farmed out, arising from the current transactions of the Cutcherry.

32d. The third head of the revenues consists in the following articles, viz.

1. Duty on piece goods.
2. Fines.
3. Etlack.
4. Sale of boats and sloops. 1
5. Sale of slaves.
6. Pottahs.
7. Arbitration bonds.
8. Commissions on recovery of debts.
9. General releases.
10. Mortgage bonds.
11. Marriages.
12. Russey Allamy.
13. Sallamy on sloops.
14. Mooriannoes.
15. Duty on exportation of liquors.
16. License for a treat.
17. Order for beat of drum.

18. Duty on exportation of rice.


All which I shall explain to your Honor, &c. as distinctly as possibly I can; as there is not one of them, in which there has not been manifestly very considerable frauds committed by some body or other; and must unavoidably be so, without the utmost vigilance of the Zemindar.

33d. The Company levy a duty of two per cent on all piece-goods sold in the Bazars, which are not imported under their dustick. To point out the frauds committed by the collectors of this duty, I shall take the produce arising from May 1749, to April 1752, as they exceed former credits.

Abstract of the duty on Piece-Goods, as taken from Account Revenues.

1749
May 75 / 0 / 0
June 75 / 0 / 0
July 35 / 0 / 0
August 52 / 0 / 9
September 35 / 15 / 3
October 71 / 8 / 3
November 174 / 11 / 6
December 116 / 3 / 6

1750
January 35 / 14 / 9
February 77 / 0 / 6
March 40 / 11 / 0
April 163 / 7 / 6
May 21 / 8 / 0
June 77 / 3 / 0
July 30 / 2 / 9
August 31 / 2 / 9
September 59 / 7 / 3
October 75 / 10 / 0
November 171 / 5 / 6
December 44 / 9 / 6

1751
January 66 / 11 / 9
February 43 / 3 / 0
March 60 / 11 / 6
April 270 / 7 / 0
May 27 / 3 / 9
June 33 / 10 / 0
July 28 / 15 / 9
August 33 / 14 / 0
September 55 / 4 / 9
October 85 / 8 / 3
November 175 / 5 / 6
December 45 / 14 / 6

1752
January 76 / 12 / 6
February 40 / 6 / 3
March 56 / 5 / 6
April 275 / 3 / 6
Current Rupees 2839 / 0 / 6

 
By the above abstract from the monthly account revenues, we observe only 2812 / 0 / 6 brought to credit in three years; whereas, in the last five months there has been collected and brought to credit 1127 / 12 / 3; and I am not free from suspicion of some frauds yet in this duty, notwithstanding the strictest eye I have been able to keep on those entrusted with the levying it.

Anno 1752.
July 58 / 9 / 9
August 252 / 11 / 9
September 191 / 10 / 3
October 321 / 5 / 3
November 303 / 7 / 3
Current Rupees 1127 / 12 / 3


34th. The article of fines is a very important one in the Company's revenues, if duly brought to their credit; this method of punishing, as well as the lash, is so essential a one, in the nature of the country government, that there would be no order or rule preserved amongst the natives without them. The original institution of fines in all countries was doubtless with a design of correcting the manners of the people; of being a check on such kind of rogueries as did not require the lash or other corporal punishments; and consequently, of being a defense to the property of honest men: but I am sorry to say, I have too much reason to think these intentions have been kept very little in view; and a power assumed to inflict fines, and oppress the people, where by no means it ought to have been allowed; and which has been raised from motives much worse, and applied to baser uses, than were the crimes for which it was imposed. Your honor, &c. have had some instances of this kind laid before you; and I do not want materials to point out many more to you; but to what end? The nature of this branch of the revenues will not admit of an annual estimate to be made on it, with any degree of exactness, as will, pretty nearly, the foregoing article of piece-goods; whose yearly imports, I believe, do not vary greatly. However, I shall lay before your Honor, &c. the produce arising on this article, from May 1746, to April 1751, inclusive.

Abstract of Fines, as taken from the monthly account Revenues, viz.

1746
May 157 / 5 / 0
June 115 / 15 / 0
July 27 / 10 / 3
August 1116 / 1 / 3
September 146 / 2 / 0
October 97 / 11 / 0
November 8 / 2 / 3
December 10 / 4 / 3

1747
January 0 / 0 / 0
February 22 / 7 / 9
March 51 / 4/ 9
April 47 / 3 / 6
May 349 / 4 / 3
June 232 / 0 / 0
July 103 / 1 / 0
August 97 / 15 / 9
September 58 / 12 / 6
October 132 / 10 / 9
November 131 / 11 / 6
December 100 / 8 / 3

1748
January 10 / 1 / 9
February 31 / 4 / 3
March 0 / 0 / 0
April 0 / 0 / 0
May 151 / 10 / 6
June 338 / 13 / 0
July 33 / 9 / 0
August 52 / 11 / 9
September 45 / 8 / 9
October 141 / 13 / 9
November 109 / 11 / 0
December 122 / 4 / 9

1749
January 25 / 8 / 3
February 109 / 6 / 9
March 10 / 2 / 0
April 37 / 3 / 9
May 173 / 7 / 9
June 59 / 0 / 9
July 33 / 12 / 6
August 141 / 2 / 0
September 102 / 10 / 6
October 114 / 15 / 0
November 151 / 15 / 9
December 10 / 13 / 6

1750
January 25 / 7 / 0
February 222 / 2 / 6
March 0 / 0 / 0
April 36 / 2 / 6
May 7 / 1 / 0
June 0 / 0 / 0
July 0 / 0 / 0
August 60 / 9 / 3
September 6 / 1 / 9
October 112 / 3 / 9
November 50 / 11 / 0
December 0 / 0 / 0

1751
January 8 / 0 / 3
February 0 / 0 / 0
March 18 / 2 / 0
April 137 / 12 / 3
May 36 / 11 / 3
June 73 / 7 / 6
July 18 / 12 / 9
August 80 / 1 / 6
September 409 / 15 / 0
October 197 / 0 / 0
November 201 / 6 / 6
December 92 / 6 / 3

1752
January 37 / 1 / 9
February 6 / 7 / 6
March 132 / 12 / 3
April 917 / 9 / 3
Current Rupees 7892 / 14 / 3


By the foregoing abstract, there appears to be fines brought to credit in the account revenues, current Rupees, 7892 / 14 / 6, in the space of six years. I will submit it to your Honor, what proportion this bears to the fines that have really been imposed and levied in that time. I will suppose by other authority than that of the Zemindar for the time being; who, in a multitude of instances, I dare say, was totally a stranger to this piece of iniquity; and when I inform your Honor, &c. that I have brought to the Company's credit on this article, the last five months, current Rupees 3171 / 14 / 6, I must not appear before you as having acted with greater severity than any of my predecessors; as this is an article I would by no means should increase the Company's revenues: but the cause of this very extraordinary difference arises from this, that what fines are imposed, are now in truth brought to credit. They are before your Honor, &c. I think I have been studious to observe as much leniency in them, as the nature of the offense could with propriety admit of. If it should bear a different aspect, it lies in your breasts to remit and relieve any whom you may judge to merit your indulgence.

Abstract from the Register of Fines, viz.

Anno 1752

July 166 / 9 / 9
August 339 / 1 / 9
September, 19 days 341 / 2 / 9
October 1035 / 9 / 6
November 1289 / 6 / 9
Current Rupees 3171 / 14 / 6


35th. Though I have already explained what is meant by that branch of the revenues called Etlack, in my address to your Honor, &c. under date the 17th of August, 1752, I yet think it necessary to repeat here what I then said on the subject, that in this work every article of the revenues may have due regard paid to it. On every complaint registered in the Cutcherry, a Peon is ordered on the defendant, in cases of debt; or on the delinquent, in case of assaults, or other abuses. The Peon receives three Punds of Cowries per diem, one Pund, fourteen Gundas of which are brought to the credit of the Company, under the head of Etlack: one Pund is the Peon's fee, and the remaining six Gundas were set apart; out of which the Etlack Moories, or writers, were paid their wages; and the overplus, called Mooriannoes, sequestered to uses I am a stranger to. The article of Etlack has always been a heavy tax on the poor, from whom it has chiefly been collected, whilst those who could by any means obtain favor were excused, though well able to pay it. The contrary method I have pursued, as much as possible; and your Honor, &c. will observe in the Zemindary, how frequent occasions I meet with to remit this fee to the poor, as well to those who are released from the prisons, as those whose disputes are determined without imprisonment. The Cutcherry prison Etlack fees, and Catwall prison Etlack fees, amount each to three Punds of Cowries per diem, from each prisoner; the whole of which is brought to credit. The Etlack fees have, by some Zemindars, been raised to four Punds per diem, and by others reduced to two, the present establishment appears to me the most eligible medium, as the former would be a very heavy oppression on the poor, and the latter would too much tend to keep up that litigious spirit in the people, which possibly is not equaled by any race existing. What injury the Company may have sustained in this branch, I shall submit to your Honor, &c. judgment, by the following abstracts of the former and present credits.

Abstract of Etlack Fees, from May 1746, to April 1752, inclusive.

1746
May 187 / 2 / 9
June 160 / 13 / 3
July 182 / 0 / 6
August 162 / 6 / 9
September 128 / 11 / 9
October 214 / 0 / 6
November 175 / 2 / 0
December 146 / 7 / 6

1747
January 191 / 3 / 9
February 136 / 4 / 3
March 146 / 14 / 9
April 205 / 5 / 3
May 164 / 5 / 3
June 147 / 2 / 0
July 238 / 10 / 9
August 255 / 3 / 0
September 176 / 14 / 0
October 140 / 2 / 3
November 150 / 5 / 0
December 217 / 15 / 0

1748
January 143 / 15 / 0
February 142 / 5 / 6
March 129 / 15 / 0
April 184 / 9 / 3
May 114 / 9 / 3
June 116/ 1 / 6
July 135 / 6 / 9
August 273 / 4 / 6
September 285 / 5 / 6
October 329 / 6 / 9
November 349 / 15 / 3
December 265 / 10 / 3

1749
January 379 / 1 / 3
February 273 / 1 / 3
March 296 / 12 / 3
April 364 / 15 / 9
May 334 / 14 / 3
June 356 / 5 / 9
July 259 / 8 / 0
August 407 / 15 / 9
September 401 / 0 / 6
October / 341 / 10 / 0
November 484 / 1 / 0
December 375 / 13 / 6

1750
January 406 / 6 / 6
February 373 / 12 / 6
March 390 / 13 / 3
April 371 / 12 / 6
May 429 / 11 / 6
June 377 / 12 / 6
July 387 / 11 / 9
August 375 / 8 / 9
September 315 / 3 / 0
October 357 / 3 / 0
November 370 / 13 / 0
December 377 / 3 / 6

1751
January 386 / 1 / 9
February 299 / 12 / 9
March 290 / 11 / 0
April 386 / 14 / 9
May 310 /5 / 9
June 189 / 8 / 3
July 208 / 1 / 0
August 150 / 5 / 6
September 23 / 9 / 6
October 34 / 0 / 0
November 34 / 11 / 6
December 79 / 8 / 6

1752
January 80 / 2 / 9
February 54 / 8 / 3
March 106 / 11 / 0
April 136 / 2 / 9
Current Rupees 17578 / 3 / 9


Abstract of Etlack Fees, from July to November, 1752

Anno 1752

July 208 / 5 / 6
August 424 / 15 / 9
September 19 days 262 / 2 / 3
October 427 / 12 / 9
November 453 / 9 / 3
Current Rupees 1776 / 13 / 6


On the sale of houses, boats, sloops, and all sums recovered by decree or award in the Cutcherry, the Company draw a commission of five per cent.

On every slave brought and registered in the Cutcherry, the purchaser pays duty to the Company of four Rupees four Annaes.

On every Pattah granted, the Company receives a salamy of four Rupees four Annaes.

On all arbitration bonds entered into by appointment, in the Cutcherry, each party pays 20 Punds of Cowries.

On every general release executed by order of Cutcherry, each party pays eight Annaes.

For every license of marriage, the Company receive three Rupees Sicca from each party; but the poor are often remitted this fee.

On all disputes between the Company's tenants, touching the property of ground; where there appears cause for measuring their respective grounds, each party pays a russey salamy of one Rupee.

On every new sloop built by the natives, the Company receive a salamy of 50 Rupees to 100 Rupees, according to her burden.

On every mortgage bond registered in Cutcherry, the Company receive from the mortgager five per cent on the sum advanced by the mortgagee.

On all rice exported, the Company's duty is 1 Seer 8 Che per Maund, and has produced for the last six years, from Rupees 1129, to Rupees 4537, per annum: total on the whole six years, 18979 Rupees. The usual season for exportation, are the months of August, September, December, January and February.

The whole amount of the Mooriannoe Cowries is now brought to credit, distinctly from the Etlacks; and at a medium produces the nearest four Rupees per diem, or 120 Rupees per mensem, or 1440 per annum; the servants wages employed on monthly pay, in the branch of Etlacks, comes to Rupees 44; so that here is a demonstrative gain of Rupees per annum 912, and points out a very considerable sum the Company have been injured in this seeming trifling article of Mooriannoes, which I can trace only brought to credit to the amount of 20 Rupees in two months, anno 1742.

On importation of Batavia and Armenian Arrack, not again exported, the Company receive a duty of two Rupees and four Annaes, per leager.

On every order for public notice by beat of drum, account the loss of slave, cow, horse, &c. the Company receive one Cowand and one Pund of Cowries, from the party requesting such public notice.

36th. Thus, I think, I have laid before your Honor, &c. every branch of duties and revenues relative to the Zemindary, John Nagore excepted; but if my future knowledge in this intricate branch of the Company's business should point out to me wherein I have been defective, I shall beg leave from time to time to represent it to the Board, as well as every other method whereby the revenues may still be improved or put on a better footing. The produce arising on the daily current business of the Cutcherry, you will observe to spring from articles, that in their nature are so precarious, as to make it impracticable the forming any exact estimation of the gain that may result from them, so that I will only compare the credits of last year, in the same months with those since I have had the honor of filling this post.

Daily Collections.
Anno 1751

July 474 / 15 / 0
August 482 / 11 / 0
September 724 / 13 / 3
October 788 / 6 / 0
November 634 / 5 / 0
Current Rupees 3105 / 2 / 3

Anno 1752
July 717 / 8 / 0
August 1556 / 8 / 3
September 19 days 1667 / 7 / 6
October 2245 / 13 / 9
November 2798 / 11 / 3
Current Rupees 8986 / 0 / 9


Your Honor, &c. are sensible I began not to act in the office till near the middle of July, and that my attentions to the frauds of the under servants in the Cutcherry must have been greatly taken off by the scrutiny you ordered into the conduct of Govindram Metre, so that for the first month or two, it must not be wondered at, if I could not arrive at a proper knowledge of the current business. However, it is now clear to me, that the advance on the daily collections Cutcherry, at the lowest estimate, will considerably exceed 1000 Rupees per mensem, or 12000 Rupees per annum; and I shall beg leave to close this head, with throwing into one total, the demonstrative future annual gain to the Company, resulting from your Honor, &c. salutary orders and influence.

By charges Zemindary reduced / Rupees 10000 per Annum
Advance on the sale of the farms / 20658 for this year.
The dussutary paid into the treasury / 6457
Daily collections Cutcherry increased / 12000
Current Rupees / 49115


37th. The out towns of Banian Pooker, Pugg la Danga, Tenggra and Dullond, obtained first a place in the revenues, June anno 1746, under the general head of John Naggore; they contain 228 Bega, 1-1/2 Cotta of ground, for which the Company pay one Sicca Rupee per Bega per annum. John Naggore seems to have produced annually to the Company, arising on the different articles of ground-rent, salamys on Pottas, burdened oxen, markets revenues from June 1746, to May 1752 inclusive, viz.

Anno 1746 / 674 / 14 / 9
1747 / 1010 / 3 / 9
1748 / 1249 / 5 / 3
1750 / 1354 / 5 / 9
1751 to May 1752 / 1500 / 11 / 9
Current Rupees / 6971 / 15 / 0

Deduct ground-rent paid the Rajah, and other Zemindars / 1506 / 6 / 9
Charges repairing John Nagore's roads, Cutcherry and Chowkey houses, for which the Company are only debted in their account revenues / 311 / 14 / 0
Deduct further charges, as per Metre's letter to the Board, under date 3d November, account Salamys and presents made the Rajah for his 42 Bega of ground, which, as Metre asserts, is thrown into the charge of repairing roads and bridges / 964 / 0 / 0
Current Rupees / 4189 / 10 / 3


That the Company have had equal justice done them in this, with every other article of their revenues, will appear to your Honor, &c. beyond a doubt, from the following produce during the five last months, without any new tax or imposts laid on the tenants; and I will venture to promise these towns shall be more beneficial to our Honorable Masters, as soon as the more important concerns of the office will give me leisure to visit them, and make a more particular scrutiny into them.

Net produce of John Nagore, Anno 1752.

July 152 / 15 / 3
August 175 / 10 / 9
September 19 days 129 / 0 / 6
October 548 / 9 / 9
November 118 / 4 / 6
Current Rupees 1124 / 8 / 9


I cannot with propriety quit John Nagore, without advising you that application has been made to me, by one of Rajah Kissen Chund's Gomastahs, for an annual Salamy, or present (exclusive of the ground rent) paid on account of the 42 Bega of ground the Company hold of him, in the out towns; to which I have given for answer, that no such charge appears on the Company's books, and that I could by no means admit of it, as it was highly derogatory to their honor, in which I hope I meet your approval; and submit it to your Honor, &c. whether this charge of Govindram Metre's, is not demonstratively calculated only to make up his fallacious accounts of repairing the roads, for himself holds of the Rajah, to the amount of about 2000 Bega of ground, in his different possession at Charnock, Kissenpoor, Balegossy, and Hocul Koorea, for which an annual salamy from him, may have been necessary; but I trust your Honor, &c. will not suffer the Company to be saddled with a charge, that I am convinced was never paid on their account, and which would be so extremely dishonorable for them to submit to. To which permit me to add, that if this annual Salamy and present had been actually paid, there is not a show of reason why the Company was not openly charged with it, which they have not been.

I must now carry your Honor, &c. back to my 31st paragraph, in which I give you, at one view, the annual increase on the sales of the farms from 1738, by which it appears they were increased in anno 1751, in very near a duplicate proportion, and from thence it might naturally have been expected, the annual net balance paid into the treasury, would have increased in the same proportion, as the same causes which influence the advance on the farms, must from the nature of things equally influence every other branch of the revenues, viz. the increase of inhabitants, and consequently the greater consumption of every article on which the revenues arise, demonstrable from the immense difference in the Bazar prices of them, even to the lowest root or herbage which enter into the food of the common people; but how unaccountable must it appear, when we find that so far are the annual net balances paid into the treasury, from being increased in their duplicate proportion, that, by the following abstract from the general books, we find they have not increased in any proportion at all, but the contrary.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 5 of 10

By the foregoing state of your revenues Zemindary, you see, that in the very infancy of Mr. Holwell's reform, an increase in this branch to the amount of 5000 l. is demonstrated; which, year by year, still swelled, and produced in April preceding the capture of Fort William, 10,000 l. per annum gained and saved to the Company, by the fair sale of the farms, reduction of unnecessary charges, and the collections of their Cutcherry being duly brought to credit. Mr. Holwell, in his sentiments laid before your Directors, only pointed out an increase of 30,000 Rupees per annum; but on his arrival in India, and dismissal of the standing Deputy (against whom now every mouth was opened) every day produced discoveries of frauds committed in every branch of this complicated office for 28 or 30 years preceding; for proof of which we need only mention to you, that under this Gentleman's administration, there was paid net money into your treasury 114,000 Rupees for every 12 months, and that there was a moral certainty the credits of the year 1756, (when your presidency was taken) would have yielded net 1200,000 Rupees; a striking difference, when you see this office never before, on a medium, produced you more than 40,000 Rupees per annum. -- Here was a very important addition to your estate, when considered (as it really was) an addition in perpetuity. -- Let us only estimate it at 10,000 l. per annum for 30 years, you see an accession of 300,000 l. and at the same time you will see how immense the loss you have sustained, whilst that arch plunderer Govindram Metre was entrusted with the executive power of this office. -- After all, the term so often made use of, increase of the revenues, has been improperly applied; for as Mr. Holwell very justly observes in several of his letters to us, he cannot so properly be said to have increased your revenues Zemindary; for, on the contrary, he rather reduced them by abolishing six of your farms, which, he thought, dishonored you, and oppressed the poor under your protection; -- his merit consisted only in the reform of the office, and taking care that the real produce of the revenues arising from it, were honestly and duly brought to your credit. --

Hear the sense of your Court of Directors on this acquisition, and their sentiments of this Gentleman's integrity and abilities, in their several general letters to the board of Calcutta.

***

General Letter per Ship Pelham, under date 23d January, 1754.

Par. 69. "Mr. Holwell has fully answered our expectations, in regulating and conducting the office of Zemindar; and has, by the considerable increase of the revenues, resulting from his good management, and by transmitting to us, such a clear and intelligible account of the nature and state of them, convinced us of what we long suspected, that we have been most grossly imposed on in this branch of our affairs."

Par. 74. "Mr. Holwell's whole conduct in this affair has been entirely to our satisfaction; and his abilities, zeal, and application to serve us are so sufficiently apparent, that we are satisfied it will be in his power, if no obstructions are thrown in his way, to prove himself a very valuable servant to the Company; we shall therefore expect, as you value our future favor, that you give him not only all necessary countenance and assistance in his particular station of Zemindar, but also in whatsoever he shall point out, or intimate, may be of service to the Company, in any other branch of our affairs."

Par. 76. "We must here remark, that the office of Zemindar is of so complicated a nature, and the business so various and burdensome, that it is almost impossible it should be conducted under the direction of one person; you are therefore to consider, whether it may not be divided into several branches, to be managed by different persons; and, if you think such an alteration may be of general utility, you are to point out the proper methods of carrying it into execution. In proposing such a division, we have a view not only to the general utility, which may be the result, but likewise to ease Mr. Holwell, as far as is consistent, from the heavy load of business he labors under, that we may have the benefit of his abilities, in other material branches of our affairs."


***

When this letter, and that of the 31st, which immediately follows, were dispatched to Bengal, your Court of Directors consisted of the following Gentlemen, viz.

William Baker, Esq; Chairman
Richard Chauncey, Esq; Deputy
William Braund, Esq;
Robert Booth, Esq;
Christopher Burrow, Esq;
Charles Cutts, Esq;
Peter Ducane, Esq;
Abel Fonnereau, Esq;
Peter Godfrey, Esq;
Charles Gough, Esq;
John Hope, Esq;
Michael Impey, Esq;
Stephen Law, Esq;
Nicholas Linwood, Esq;
William Mabbot, Esq;
John Payne, Esq;
Henry Plant. Esq;
Thomas Phipps, Esq;
Jones Raymond, Esq;
Thomas Rous, Esq;
Whichcot Turner, Esq;
Timothy Tully, Esq;
William Willy, Esq;
James Winter, Esq;


***

General Letter per Ship Eastcourt, under date the 31st January, 1755

Par. 73d. "We have, with great attention, perused and considered Mr. Holwell's state of our revenues at Calcutta, Mr. Frankland's remarks, Mr. Holwell's reply, and the other papers relative thereto; and we must, in justice to Mr. Holwell, acquaint you, that he accounts for the mistakes which have happened in that state, in a manner that convinces us they were mere inadvertencies, and no ways calculated to impose upon us; -- that he has evidently increased our revenues to a very considerable amount, without imposing any new duties, or oppressing the poor, but on the contrary, several old duties have been abolished, and the poor in many instances relieved. And we must, as a further piece of justice to him, add, that the insinuations of his raising his own character with us at the expense of the reputations of other Gentlemen who preceded him in his office of Zemindar, are entirely without foundation. In short, his integrity, capacity, and application, have rendered him so well worthy our notice, that we are determined most heartily to countenance and protect him in all his endeavors to serve the Company."

Par. 74. "It was very natural to expect, when a piece of such importance as Mr. Holwell's State of Revenues was laid before you, which was so long ago as the 17th of December, 1752, that you should have given it a speedy and serious consideration, in order to have informed us of your sentiments, upon an affair of such a complicated nature; but how great is our disappointment and surprise to find you have not, from that time, to the dispatch of the Falmouth in the beginning of March last, considered it at a board, so as to come to any resolution or opinion for our information; but have transmitted to us the remarks of one member only; who, notwithstanding what you say in your letter of the 4th January, 1754, does not appear upon the face of any of your consultations, to have been authorized to collect and make remarks for your information, as ought to have been done, if you intended to have proceeded with any regularity in an affair of such consequence; and it is very observable, that those remarks were designedly, as we have reason to believe, delivered in so late in the season, as rendered it extremely difficult for Mr. Holwell to reply to them in time, to obviate the impressions they might have made on us, to his prejudice. But however well qualified Mr. Frankland may be, to execute a work of such a nature, it ought to have been the business of a committee, regularly appointed for the purpose, and not the result of the voluntary enquiry of one person only; and we shall be greatly disappointed, if we do not find you took that method upon the departure of the Falmouth, so as that we may receive, by the next ship at farthest, a full and satisfactory account of your proceedings and sentiments upon this affair."

Par. 94. "Mr. Holwell has highly merited our particular notice and encouragement, and the least that we can do for him, is to let him rise in our service, equally with the rest of our servants; we do therefore hereby annul and make void the restriction of our commands, of the 8th January, 1752, by which he was fixed as 12th and last in council, and to remain so without rising to a superior rank therein; and we direct, that on receipt of this, Mr. Holwell take rank, and his seat at the board, according to the time of his arrival at Bengal, in the same manner as if no such restriction had been made; that is to say, next below Mr. Matthew Collet; but however, it is our meaning and direction, that Mr. Holwell do still continue Zemindar, and that he is not to quit that post without our leave."

***

General Letter per Ship Ilchester, under date the 25th March, 1757.

Par. 156. "Having with great attention considered the state of our Zemindary, during the time it has been under the management of Mr. Holwell, it is apparent to us from the accounts you have transmitted, that our revenues in Bengal have been greatly increased, and that this has been done without imposing any new duties, or oppressing the poor; if it had been otherwise, you would, and ought to have given us the necessary informations. With respect to the judicial part of his office, we must take it for granted, that he has acted with the greatest integrity and leniency; as there appears nothing to the contrary upon the face of your consultations, where we must have found it, had there been any reasons to have appealed from his decrees."

Par. 157. "Considering therefore the great service Mr. Holwell has already done, and the further service we have the greatest reason to believe he will still render to the Company; we do agree to allow him an additional salary of four thousand current Rupees per annum to his former one of two thousand Rupees, making together the sum of six thousand current Rupees a year, to commence from the date of this letter; this salary is to be paid him so long as he continues in the post of Zemindar, and is to be in lieu of all fees and perquisites whatever; but it is our pleasure he continue in the rank and standing in council he shall be in at the time this letter shall come to your hands, and not rise to a higher station therein without our further orders."

The Gentlemen who composed your Court of Directors at the Ilchester's Dispatch were as follows, viz.

Roger Drake, Esq; Chairman
Peter Godfrey, Esq; Deputy
William Barwell, Esq;
H. C. Boulton, Esq;
John Boyd, Esq;
Nath. Newnham, jun. Esq;
Thomas Phipps, Esq;
Which. Turner, Esq;
Charles Gough, Esq;
Robert Jones, Esq;
John Payne, Esq;
Jones Raymond, Esq;
Maxim Western, Esq;
Robert Booth, Esq;
Christopher Burrow, Esq;
Charles Chambers, Esq;
Sir James Creed
John Dorrien, Esq;
John Manship, Esq;
Henry Plant, Esq;
Thomas Rous, Esq;
Henry Savage, Esq;
Lawrence Sullivan, Esq;
Timothy Tullie, Esq;
Maxim Western, Esq;


You have already seen in the Narrative before inserted, what various fortunes and difficulties Mr. Holwell had to encounter towards the end of the year 1757, and beginning of 1758, and how at last he was disposed of, and appointed, by 14 of the new Directors succeeding in April 58, 9th in Council at Bengal; divested of his post, and the salary to which in March 1757 he had been allotted by 10 of these very 14 who now degrade him.--

Messrs. Baker, Chauncy, and Mabbot, who had particularly patronized and supported him, had already quitted the direction of your affairs; Messrs. Payne, Jones Raymond, Newnham, Jones, Drake, with most of the 15 who had promoted him in 1758, soon after disqualified themselves; so that Mr. Holwell found himself abandoned to the rage and power of that faction, who had ever shown the strongest propensity to his ruin, though every man of them had repeatedly given the sanction of their hands to his acknowledged zeal, integrity, and capacity.

Thus circumstanced was Mr. Holwell, when the necessity of recovering a lost and broken fortune, as well as Constitution, forced submission; he returned in the Warren, Captain Glover, for Bengal, where he arrived with unabated zeal for your interests: and with this noble and elevated sentiment, (frequently expressed in his letters to us) "that it would be cruel and unjust, a whole body of people, and many among them widows and orphans, should suffer for the ingratitude, partial and self-interested views of their trustees; and that he had in his heart (and hoped ever should) always made this just distinction between the body of Proprietors, and their Directors." -- A short period gave him an opportunity of manifesting this principle.

The lands ceded to the Company by Jaffier Aly Khan, distinguished by the name of the 24 Purgunnahs, had been held in the Company's hands, and in the space of 16 months had produced net about 384,000 Rupees, exclusive of 222,000 for Col. Clive's Jagire. -- This small produce, from so large a territory, drew Mr. Holwell's attention; he reflected, that if the trifling district of the Zemindary of Calcutta was capable of yielding a net profit of 120,000 Rupees a year, that of the 24 Purgunnahs ought to yield more than double what it appeared to do. -- Upon this reflection, he labored to acquire the real value of those lands, which, after about three months indefatigable private search, he effected, and found the same chain of rogueries here, that he had traced in the Zemindary Calcutta; and that their specific worth greatly exceeded his first conjecture.

The board of Calcutta seemed sensible that some other measure must be adopted, than that of keeping these lands in the Company's hands, but were greatly divided in opinion which to choose, among the many expedients proposed.

Mr. Holwell, thus fully armed, threw the following letter into the board.


***

To the Worshipful Charles Manningham, Esq; &c. Council.

Calcutta, June 11, 1759

Worshipful Sir and Sirs,

I beg leave to trouble you with a few sentiments on the disposal of the Company's lands, which has for some time past been the object of our councils; the subject is of importance to our Honorable Employers, and cannot be too much deliberated upon.

I believe we are all unanimous in some circumstances which more particularly require our attention in this affair, to wit, the honor of the Company, the acquiring a perfect knowledge of the value of the lands, the making this branch of the revenues less complicate and intricate, as well as less expensive in the collecting; -- but with respect to the means, we seem not quite so clear. -- Any one gentleman declaring fully his opinion on your consultations, may possibly make us unanimous here also.

The step we are already determined in, of divesting the farmer of all power in the royalties and judicial authorities of the Purgunnahs, bids fair for the security of the Company's honor; as these articles heretofore, being also farmed, became the source of heavy cruelties and oppressions on the tenants. But still there seems to be something wanting, to give us a perfect security in this particular; and that is, to take the utmost care in our power, that the whole body of the lands do not, by any junto or private confederacy, fall into the hands of people with whom we should not trust any part of our own fortunes or confidence. I am urged to this precaution, from the proposal laid before you the fourth instant, by six or seven conspicuous natives of the settlement, of an advance of 110,001 Rupees on the whole lands. With respect to their proposal, I will only add an offer of 10,000 Rupees more per annum, on their terms: Not that I wish myself, or any one else, in possession of them on terms so vague and artful.

That keeping the lands in our hands will never lead us to a knowledge of their real value, is now (to me) proved beyond contradiction. -- Some of those who signed the proposal of the fourth are well conversant in the nature of their undertaking; and better judges still (as I am informed) are concerned, though, as yet, they act behind the curtain; and
to me it is inconceivable, that these Eastern Machiavels in finesse would offer such an annual advance, without a moral certainty of adequate gain. In this position I am still more confirmed, by the advance offered from other quarters, on distinct and garbled parts of the Purgunnahs, which in fact exceeds the others.

If we have been hitherto kept so far from the knowledge of the real value of these lands, after 16 months possession, what are we to expect when, from the course of the service, they are no longer under the conduct of the present collector, whose knowledge in this branch must be greatly superior to any gentleman that succeeds him; and whose vigilance in the execution of this trust cannot be exceeded. From the experience I have had in infinitely a less, though similar object,
I know it is impossible for any one gentleman, with the most extensive talents and integrity, to superintend this revenue in such manner as to prevent the company being injured; his attention cannot be everywhere; confidence must be placed in a multitude; and it happens most unluckily, that this confidence centers from necessity in a race of people, who, from their infancy, are utter strangers to the very idea of common faith or honesty.


The other plan of disposing of the lands to the multitude of people who have offered an advance on particular parts of each Purgunnah, I have strong and equal objections to. I am sensible these objections should have been laid before you sooner; and would, had I thought myself sooner master of the subject. -- We know not what or who these people are. I foresee a very great risk of deficiencies in the rents, as well as much confusion and needless expense entailed on this expedient, and ourselves removed as far as ever from gaining a knowledge of the real value of this new and important acquisition. On the whole, therefore, I am of opinion, that there is no effectual method to arrive at this knowledge, and make the lands yield every advantage to our Honorable Employers; but by putting them up to public auction, in single Purunnahs, under the restrictions already published. -- People of substance will be the only bidders for an entire Purgunnah; the bad and unprofitable parts will go with the good and valuable, and the risk of deficiencies in the rents be guarded against; the expenses of collecting will, in a manner, be reduced to nothing; and this branch of the service be rendered less complicated and intricate, by our having 25 purchasers only to account with us, in place of 5 or 000.

I am, with respect,
Worshipful Sir and Sirs,
Your most obedient humble servant,

J. Z. Holwell.

***

This letter lay for consideration, the Board suspending their final resolution until they were joined by Governor Clive, who was then absent. On his arrival Mr. Holwell communicated to him the result of his researches, touching the Purgunnahs; and at the same time laid before him the following estimate he had formed of their real value, and the means by which he had acquired his knowledge.

A moderate ESTIMATE of the value of 24 Purgunnahs. (Sicca Rupees)

Magra and Satull 130,000
Azeemabad 90,000
Mora Gossee 90,000
Mydon Moll, Ekubberpore, Pycha Koolec 90,000
Burridge Hotee, Ektearpore 75,000
Gurr 15,000
Hotteagur, Myda 35,0000
Ballea, Bussundree 70,000
Calcutta, Amirpore, Maanpore, Pykon 65,000
Shawpore, Shawnagore, Karry Juree, Duccan Sagur 28,000
Cosspore 10,000
Northern Purgunnah 52,000
Sicca Rupees 750,000 per annum.


The first time the council met, the debate upon the Purgunnahs was resumed, and Mr. Holwell's letter of the 11th of June read a second time, when Governor Clive did him the honor to declare the reasons he gave for putting those lands up to public sale were unanswerable; which concurring with the sentiments of the Board, it was unanimously resolved to throw the Purgunnahs into 15 lots, and farm them out for three years certain to the highest bidder at public auction, reserving to the Company the royalties of the lands, as the judicial power, fines, confiscations, buried treasures, &c. &c. They were accordingly sold, and produced seven Lack, sixty-five thousand, seven hundred Sicca Rupees, 15,700 Rupees beyond what Mr. Holwell had estimated they would produce per annum. Let us add the produce of the royalties, very moderately estimated at one Lack and a half a year; the whole gives 9 Lack 15,700, besides the value and produce of a large tract of land, taken from the Purgunnahs next adjoining to Calcutta, to enlarge its bounds. We will not say what thanks were due, on this occasion, to the zeal, integrity, and capacity of the gentleman we are defending; we leave that to your candor. -- These were the inferior Manouevres which the anonymous propagator of scandal, in his Pamphlet of March 6th, sarcastically mentions as reflections upon this gentleman's character. -- But we do not stop here: -- We proceed to show you, his attention and capacity was not confined to this branch of your revenues and lands only; in order to which, we shall insert the following letter from Mr. Holwell, to a gentleman who, a few years past, was at the head of your affairs at home; to whose integrity, abilities and application you stand, we will be bold to say, as highly indebted, as to any gentleman that ever sat in your direction. -- We have his permission for liberty; and indeed, the inserting it is, in some sort, necessary to confirm and explain facts just now recited, that you may not think we have picked them up to answer any present purpose.

***

To John Payne, Esq;

Calcutta, Dec., 30, 1759.

Dear Sir,

To shorten my remarks on the important subject of your lands, I enclose you copy of my letter to the council, of the 11th of June, when the Colonel was upon the Patna expedition; it then produced no other effect than postponing our resolves until his arrival; when the affair being resumed, he did me the honor, with the rest of the board, of thinking my reasons for a public sale of the lands, by auction, unanswerable, and the same was resolved on unanimously; the event more than answered my expectation. I had taken great pains in ferreting out the real value of the lands, which was covered with almost impenetrable obscurity and difficulties; and by an estimate I gave the Colonel at his return, ventured to pronounce they would yield at least seven Lack and a half; and the total of their sales, on the 31st of July, amounted to seven Lack [Lakh = 100,000], sixty-five thousand seven hundred Sicca Rupees, exclusive of several reserves in favor of the Company, such as a considerable tract of land taken from the Purgunnahs adjoining to Calcutta, to extend its bounds; and all advantages resulting from holding the royalties and judicial proceedings, &c. in our hands, on the Company's account; so that I judge, the whole produce of these lands (the before-mentioned reserves included) will be annually between nine and ten Lack, the sum I think l guessed they would produce, when once in conference with you upon this subject. From this the Colonel's Jaggier, of two Lack twenty-two thousand Rupees, being deducted, there will remain a net annual revenue to the Company of about seven Lack eighty thousand Sicca Rupees per annum, on the same lands which yielded net to the Company, the last year when the revenues were collected on the government's plan, only three Lack, eighty-four thousand, or thereabouts, as you will learn from the accounts of this revenue, now transmitted to the Company. I see the Court of Directors stare with astonishment at this increase; you will stare too, my dear Sir, as a proprietor. -- Methinks I hear them and you cry out, What the devil became of this difference the last year, as it must have been collected, beyond the possibility of a doubt; or from whence can this advance answer to the present farmers? The answer is easy and obvious -- the difference fell short in its way to the Company's treasury, by the self-same roads your former revenues were dissipated, prior to my beginning the reform in your Zemindary by the harpies employed in collecting. It may be farther asked, as the difference is so important and striking, How comes it to pass, that no retrospection seems to have been thought of? Here, I answer for myself: -- I fought the Company's battles for a series of five years, and what encouragement and reward I received for it in the end, you and the world have seen; the old farms producing an advance, on an average, of 46 per cent, at their first fair sale, was proof enough of former frauds, the more so, as this advance increased every year, and the other branches in proportion. As our former Zemindars could not justly be deemed culpable in that case, from the frequent changes in the post; so in the present, no blame properly falls on your collector, the trust being too extensive and complicate for the due execution and attention of any one man existing; though the frauds here are equally obvious from the extraordinary increase at a fair and public sale, where the farmer was laid under every possible check and restraint, that can either prevent his debasing the lands, or oppressing the tenants; and yet there is a moral certainty of profit to him at the expiration of the three years; and that they will then yield a further increase to the Company. But not to lose sight entirely of a retrospection; I, for my own part, think, that at present the operators are too well prepared for a scrutiny they must for many months have expected; they have been in absolute possession of all accounts and papers relative to the lands, and have cunning enough to take care these accounts shall tally with the credits: besides, should we even succeed in our proofs, we should find this plunder divided into such a multitude of hands, our gain at last would be only our trouble for our pains. That I should have no stomach to take the lead in an enquiry of this nature, you will readily account for; and if I do not, I am sure nobody else will. It appears incumbent on Mr. Frankland, if on anybody, to account to the Company for the extraordinary difference between the present sales and his last year's collections; but this I conceive he will hardly think worth his while so near his departure; and nobody knows better than himself the small probability of its being attended with success, or credit, or thanks from his employers, who have, I believe, pretty well cooled the zeal of their servants for attempts of this kind. The very detection of frauds, and increase of the Company's revenues, though founded on the principles of faithfulness, honor, equity, and humanity, were (by fools, influenced by knaves) brought in bar against my receiving the reward and commiseration, which justice extorted from them in favor of the most junior servant in the Presidency.

Before I entirely quit my subject of the lands, I must clear up to you a circumstance that may possibly be cause of wonder to you, viz. by what means I arrived at their real value. -- In the first place, I had long and full conviction that the same system of frauds and chicanery ran through every Zemindary of the provinces; and from a general knowledge of the countries granted to us, it appeared to me most astonishing, they should yield no more than was brought to the Company's credit, at the close of the year, in April last; when so small a territory as Calcutta produced, on a scrutiny and reform, an increase of 73 to 80,000 Sicca Rupees per annum. -- I tried various means to trace out a satisfactory reason, and to account to myself for it, but without success, until I learnt, by accident, that three or four of the old standers, employed as tax-gatherers and writers in the Purgunnahs, had been dismissed, at the instigation of the new operators. I sent privately for one or two of the most creditable of them, and enquired into the cause of their dismissal; and this brought on an opening of the whole scene, and gave me sufficient foundation for forming my letter of the 11th of June: had that failed in bringing the lands to a public sale to the highest bidder, I had formed my resolution to lay the lights I had received before Mr. Frankland (from which I knew, on the whole, he was kept in the dark) and if this had fallen short of my views, I should then have laid them before the Council; but by the issue I have the pleasure of seeing the Company in possession of pretty near the value of this princely acquisition, without being myself involved in debates and contention. Thus, Sir, having made you master of this subject in as short a detail as possible, I shall close it with this remark, that the same chain of frauds runs through the revenues of the whole empire, but more particularly in these three provinces, to the heavy annual loss of the crown, a circumstance which may, in a future favorable conjuncture, be well worth consideration; at present we have but to ask and have, a more easy acquisition of the Subadary than that we have already obtained of the Purgunnahs; but the times are not yet ripe for so great a grasp, nor have we sufficient strength to hold it; though it is certain, were we Subas of the provinces, the Emperor would regularly receive more than double the revenues these provinces ever produced to him; and the East-India Company become, in a short time, the richest body of subjects in the world.

Little need be said with respect to your Import Warehouse. On my taking that charge, I found my predecessor, Mr. Becher, had left me little or nothing to reform or regulate; for which the Company and I owe him thanks. That you may be convinced the sales of their imports have not suffered under my conduct, I enclose you copies of the only two made since my being at the head of this office; the second sale's falling something short of the first, must be attributed to the quantity of goods of the first sale laying on the merchants' hands, at the period appointed for the second, occasioned by the long alarm of the Shaw Zadda's advance into the provinces, which put a total stop, for some months, to the trade of the country; and for some time to the provision of your arung investments.

You will find by this ship's advices, the board have made pretty free with your orders, touching the sea customs; the present times, in fact, not admitting the carrying them to a greater height, without a risk of the total loss of trade to your settlement. As the customs and duties are now stipulated, I judge they will, with vigilance, produce a very acceptable revenue to the Company. It is the very worst policy in the world to load trade with the utmost duty it will bear, or to push up the sales of either your lands or imports to their greatest value, an opening for a fair profit should ever be left to the merchant and farmer, or the consequence, in the first instance, will be an illicit trade, oppressions on the tenants, and no sales at all of your imports of woollen goods, &c.

I really want courage to touch, or animadvert on your immense standing expenses, as I see not any present plan we can fall on for the reduction of them.

You will remember, Sir, that, from a rough calculate I made at home of receipts and disbursements, I pronounced the gentlemen here had been too hasty in their advice to the Court of Directors, that they should want no supplies of money for three years. We have felt the consequence of that precipitate paragraph, and were reduced to the necessity of opening the treasury doors, in August last, for the supply of Madrass and our current service. We took this opportunity of reducing the usual interest of nine per cent to eight; it was proposed to reduce it to six per cent; but had we persisted in that, we might have shut our doors again; for since the large sums remitted the last year, money has recovered its former value from its scarcity, as everything else does.

I am, Sir,
Your most obliged humble servant.

***


We shall add one remark only on this subject of the Purgunnahs, and that from good authority, viz. that there was a moral certainty of yet a very considerable advance upon the next sale, for they were not at the first sale, pushed up to their utmost value, but a latitude left for the farmer to make a handsome profit, which we have good assurance was the case, one lot excepted, which was purchased too high by a spiteful competition between two of the natives. The farmers, for their own sakes, will improve the lands and revenues; and consequently their value at the next sales must be enhanced, which we hope has so proved for your sakes; and we doubt not but the Maneouvres of our friend hitherto, will reflect honor upon his character, in place of the insinuated reproach of this anonymous slanderer; and that his first charge, which for certain reasons we speak to last, will appear to be equally false and scandalous.

This charge, so boldly asserted against Mr. Holwell, is, in its nature, of so black a dye, that did we think there was a shadow of foundation for it, we should blush to take up the pen in his defense. Lest you should have lost sight of it, we think it needful to present it again to your view. (Anon. page 37.) "His (Colonel Clive's) successor in the Government, who had been particularly instrumental in bringing down Sou Rajah Dowla, and consequently in occasioning the first revolution in Bengal:" -- that is, neither more nor less, than without reserve, charging Mr. Holwell with being the cause of all the desolation and misery which overwhelmed your settlements in 1756.
Let this Prober, as he somewhere calls himself, answer this charge to the Prober of all Hearts, whilst we, from the materials in our power, proceed in our defense against it.


But in what light must their present and future princes regard us? Meer Jaffeir [Jaffier] Alli Cawn, the first Nabob made by us, could not help looking on us with an evil eye. Having, as I had occasion to mention before, been vested by us in a government to which he otherwise had no pretension, he had improvidently given away what, when cool, he could not help regretting the loss of: besides his grants of money and lands, he had parted with the splendor and independence of his predecessors; and notwithstanding his Maker did support him in these points as much as circumstances would permit, yet could not he prevent this poor prince from being obliged to swallow many a bitter pill.

After the departure of Colonel Clive, the delicacy that he had used towards him was entirely thrown aside. His successor in the government [John Zephaniah Holwell], who had been particularly instrumental in bringing down Sou Rajah Dowla, and consequently in occasioning the first revolution in Bengal, had arrived at his new dignity contrary to the intention of his constituents, and entirely through the accident of a number of his seniors going home at this time in disgust. Being blessed with a genius uncommonly fertile in expedients for raising money, and further unclogged by those silly notions of punctilio [a fine or petty point of conduct or procedure], which often stand in the way betwixt some people and fortune, he had projected and put in practice several inferior maneuvers; but this Chef d'Ouevre [Masterpiece], this master scheme, though formed almost as soon as he came to power, time did not allow him to have the honor of executing. Being formed, however, we may imagine, that under such a governor, daily mortifications, and in various shapes, were not wanting to this ill-starred Nabob. The prince who depends on the will of a superior, ungenerous and incapable of humane or delicate sentiments, is in a more mean and wretched state, than he who depends on a common prostitute for his daily food. Our Nabob quickly found himself reduced to less than the name of prince, insulted by the most contemptuous flights of those whom he called his allies, and who, to pave the way to the projected change, embroiled his affairs, and used all other means in their power to render him odious; despised, reviled, and cursed even to his face by his own subjects, who laid to his charge all the miseries they suffered by war, all the hardships and injuries to which they had been subjected by foreigners, into whose hands he had resigned the substance, on condition he might enjoy the shadow of government; his very domestics treated him with contempt and neglect. His son, who had acted as his general, was suddenly taken from him. This active young prince in the midst of his own, and the English camp, was most singularly struck by lightening. [!!!]

About four months after the departure of colonel Clive, a gentleman from Madrass arrived at Calcutta, to take upon him, by order of the directors, the government of their affairs in Bengal. It must here again be acknowledged, that the gentlemen in the direction, showed they had so little intention, that the accidental governor [John Zephaniah Holwell] should have ever come to that trust, that they now removed him to be the seventh in council. Being endued however in a very high degree with what in some is called address, enforced by a great share of plausibility in argument, he found these talents of singular use to him on this occasion. His grand plan being now almost ripe for execution, could not be concealed from his successor. He wavered some days about continuing in the service of his masters in that degraded rank. During this space it may be imagined, that he was employed in using his influence to prevail on the new governor, who was a stranger there, to adopt his views. At last this person [John Zephaniah Holwell], who had been hitherto but slightly esteemed by his successor, was by him taken into the most intimate favor and confidence, and admitted into the secret committee, which is composed of a few select members of the council there. This was but a bad omen for the unfortunate Nabob, as from this very symptom we may conclude, that the scheme and measures of the former, were now embraced by the present governor. But it does not redound much to the honor of this degraded governor [John Zephaniah Holwell], nor plead greatly in favor of the disinterestedness of his views, that after such a stigma, such a mark put upon him by his superiors, he could, (though during his short government he had acquired a handsome fortune) submit to serve them in the seventh place, after having been in the first. However, he had the spirit to remain in it no longer, than till he had fairly packed off the then governor on the execution of his plan, and on that very day he resigned.


-- Reflections on the Present State of our East-India Affairs; With Many Interesting Anecdotes Never Before Made Public, by Gentleman Long Resident in India


And here it is with the deepest grief and concern we find ourselves obliged to open a wound, which we hoped had been closed for ever; but thus pressed, thus stimulated, what can we do? Shall we abandon our friend to the impressions of this infamous accusation, when we know the rectitude of his heart and conduct? Forbid it, Truth! forbid it, Justice! The real causes of that calamity and ruin have been long hid from the public, under the veil of secrecy, in Leadenhall-street. We will unfold no more of it than friendship exacts from us. -- There was a period when justice to individuals should have moved your Court of Directors to have laid the whole before you, but partial views forbad it. It has plainly appeared to you, by the Letter of the 25th of March, 1757, that Mr. Holwell was then marked for destruction; the force of evidence and facts could not withhold the applauses and acknowledgments due to his merit and services, but the clog in council was again put on, which was so politely and justly taken off in 1755. This was a favor not much coveted by him; but, when granted, did him honor. Greater dishonor was the consequence, when this restriction was again imposed upon his rising. It did, as was plainly intended, lessen him in the eye of the natives and your servants abroad, and sufficiently declared the sentiments of that Bombay Faction, which soon after obtained the lead in your Direction. But to resume our subject.

Mr. Holwell obtaining his liberty at Moorshadabad, promised, (in a short letter he wrote to the two other Presidencies of Bombay and Madrass) that he would transmit to the Company a particular account of the real causes, which drew on your Presidency of Bengal such fatal calamities. Accordingly, at Fulta, he made good that promise in the following letter, addressed to your Court of Directors, through the channel of your Council there. Little did he then think he should ever have occasion for, or be under a necessity of producing it in his own vindication.


In a letter to the Court of Directors, dated Fulta, 30 November 1756,16 [Hill's Bengal in 1756-1757 Vol. 2, p. l.] Holwell is at pains to prove that the protection given by the Company’s servants to subjects of the Nawab was not the cause, as had been alleged, of Siraj-ud-daula’s attack on Calcutta. He asserts that Alivardi Khan “had long meditated to destroy the forts and garrisons of the Europeans,” and in support of this statement he quotes “verbatim, the last discourse and council which Mahabut Jung (Alivardi Khan) gave his grandson (Siraj-ud-daula) a few days before his death,” which, he adds, "I had from very good authority at Murshidabad, after my releasement.”

-- The Black Hole -- The Question of Holwell's Veracity, by J. H. Little


***

To the Honorable the Court of Directors for Affairs of the Honorable the United Company of Merchants of England, trading to the-East Indies.

Fulta, 30th Nov. 1756.

Honorable Sirs,

Immediately on my being released from my imprisonment and fetters at Muxadabad, I addressed your two Presidencies of Bombay and Fort St. George, on the subject of the loss of your possessions in these parts, under date the 17th of July last, and again on my arrival at Houghly, under date the 3d of August, when I duly forwarded to them duplicates of those I dispatched from Muxadabad, and requested the advices I gave there might be transmitted to you by the most expeditious conveyance; and at the same time referred to a particular narrative of the causes, and various accidents, which brought on the heavy loss you have sustained; this I promised to forward as soon as my health would enable me. The slow recovery of my sight, much impaired by the shock and injury my nerves suffered that fatal night in the Black Hole, and from being exposed to the sun on my passage to Muxadabad, must plead my pardon for your not receiving the narrative I promised, by the ship dispatched, I understand some time this month, from your Presidency of Fort St. George, and by which I am sensible you will receive many different narratives and accounts of the causes of our misfortunes; leaving those to your impartial consideration -- I sit down to discharge this part of my duty, humbly entreating you will believe me determined to pay the strictest regard to truth, to the best of my knowledge; and that I will not, by any representation, either in reasoning or facts, endeavor to mislead your judgments, or influence them either in favor of myself, or to the disfavor of any one else, further than justice to myself, and the state and nature of things, will make it unavoidable; shunning, as much as possible, any repetition of matters already transmitted you in my letters of the 17th of July, and 3d of August last, which I request may be kept in your view, as I do not find cause to retract any essential part of them.

2d. Mahabut Jung (better known by the name of Ally Verdy Cawn) demising on the 9th of April last, was succeeded in the government of the Subaship by his grandson Surajud Dowla, without opposition, excepting from the young Begum, relict [relict: widow] of Shaw Amet Jung, uncle of Surajud Dowla. This Princess, foreseeing her liberty and the immense wealth of her lately-deceased husband, would fall a sacrifice to the new Suba, had meditated for some time the raising another to the Subaship, and with this view retired, before the death of the old Suba, to her palace, (some distance from the city,) named Mootee Giol, with Raagbullob, the Dewan [Dewan: a powerful government official, minister, or ruler] of her late husband, Nazzur Aly Cawn, and others the most faithful of her officers and domestics; where she fortified herself, and raised some troops to oppose the succession of her nephew. When the dispute was near coming to extremities, the old Begum, relict of Ally Verdy Cawn, interposed with her mediation, by which, and the promises of Surajud Dowla, that the Princess should remain in full possession and security of life, liberty, and property, she was prevailed on to disband her troops, submitted to the banishment from the provinces, Nazzur Aly Cawn, and two other officers, and returned to the city; where she was no sooner arrived than she was made a prisoner, and her palaces and possessions seized and confiscated to the Suba's use.

3d. The new Suba having, on his succession to the government, sent advice thereof, with a seerpaw, (or dress) [Seerpaw: a robe of honor or state suit, presented by way of compliment or as a token of either favor or homage] to Shoucutjung, his cousin, the Nabob of Purranea: this latter returned the seerpaw, and disavowed submission to him as Suba of the Provinces; asserting his government of Purranea to be 1st by Ally Verdy Cawn independent of him. This occasioned the resentment of Surajud Dowla, who resolved to reduce him by force, and after he had laid the storm the young Begum had attempted to raise against him, he immediately marched against Shoucutjung with a strong army, which had been raised by the old Suba, foreseeing the difficulties his grandson would have to encounter after his death. Here I must leave the Suba on his march, and go back in point of time to matters no less necessary to investigate the real causes of his subsequent march to Calcutta; which is so blended with some incidents attending the late change and government at Muxadabad, that it is impossible to give a distinct view of the one, without a short recital of the others.

4th. On the death of Shaw Amet Jung, (more generally known by the name of Newaris Mahomet Cawn) and during the life of the old Suba, Surajud Dowla, who had in effect the reins of government in his hands, long before the decease of his grandfather, seized on Raagbullob abovementioned, the chief officer of Shaw Amet Jung, and by imprisonment and other despotic and severe methods, endeavored to force from him a confession and discovery of Shaw Amet Jung's riches; but the minister, faithful to his deceased master, could not be brought to any confession injurious to the interest of his surviving family, and after a few days sufferings, obtained his liberty by the intercession of the young Begum, with her father and mother, Ally Verdy Cawn and his Begum: but Raagbullob being sensible the resolution he had shown for the interest of the family of his deceased master, (between whom and Surajud Dowla there had been a long hatred and animosity) would never be forgiven by Surajud Dowla, thought it incumbent upon him to provide as well as he could for the safety of himself. And in resentment for the usage he had unjustly received for his integrity to the young Begum, readily entered into her Councils to oppose the succession; and finding the death of the old Suba was near at hand, and recollecting his own family and greatest part of his wealth were exposed to danger at Dacca, his first care was to draw them to a place of security; in order to which he applied to Mr. Watts, your Chief at Cossimbuzar, telling him his family were going from Dacca to worship at Jaggernaut, and should take Calcutta in the way; requesting, at the same time, that they might there find a proper reception. Mr. Watts accordingly wrote to the President, and I think to Mr. Manningham, to much the same effect. These letters arrived during the absence of your President at Ballisore, and much about the time that Kissendass, the eldest son of Raagbullob, and the family reached Calcutta, from Dacca; at least I know no otherwise, for in the evening, I think, of the 13th of March, my people at the Waterside Chowkeys brought me intelligence, that Raagbullob's family was arrived from Dacca, and that they had received orders from Mr. Manningham for their admittance, who having occasion to summon a Council the next morning, for the dispatch of the Negrai's supplies, showed me Mr. Watts's letter to the President, who likewise communicated the same to me on his return to the settlement.
This letter, I now understand, the President has lost amongst the rest of his papers; though I often since the commencement of our troubles, as he must recollect, urged to him the necessity of preserving it in his own and our vindication: however, as I had twice perused it, and had since occasion enough to retain in my memory the first impressions I had received of it, I can venture to assert it was near the following purport:

That he, Mr. Watts had been applied to by Raagbullob, the Chuta Begum's Dewan, who advised him that his family had left Dacca with intention to go to worship at Jaggernaut, and should take Calcutta in his way, and requested he would write to their Governor touching their reception there, and that they might be supplied with boats, or aught else they might have occasion for on their expedition; that in compliance with Raagbullob's intimation and request, he wrote, and recommended his family's being received with all possible respect and regard, not only on account of his influence with the Chuta Begum, but as his power at Dacca might be of the utmost consequence to our Honourable Masters affairs there.


In consequence of this recommendatory letter, and the reasons urged by Mr. Watts, they were received in the settlement, and treated with all possible regard. Whether Mr. Watts knew, or can be supposed to have judged, that Raagbullob's family going to Jaggernaut to worship, was a pretense only to facilitate their obtaining a protection in Calcutta, I cannot say; but I recollect the President's communicating to me another letter he received from Mr. Watts, about the time that the death of the old Suba was deemed inevitable, wherein he recommended it as expedient, "That Kissendass, and the rest of Raagbullob's family should have no longer protection in Calcutta, as it was very uncertain what turn things would take after the decease of the Suba." The President will, I doubt not, do me the justice of acknowledging I enforced this salutary advice, and pressed more than once the dismissal of this family, foreseeing they would be demanded; and Mr. Manningham and myself had many uneasy conferences on the protection being continued to them, fearing it might be productive of troublesome consequences, and possibly embroil us with the new government, should they remain in the settlement until the Suba's decease. Why the President delayed their dismissal, I am at a loss how to account for; but certain it is, had they been obliged to quit the place, a handle would have been taken away from many, who have been too ready to urge and maintain the protection given to this family as the greatest, nay, the sole cause that drew on us the Suba's resentment; which I doubt not of convincing your Honorable Court is very distant from the truth. Their dismissal, however, would have saved us from a most difficult situation which we presently fell into; for we no sooner received advice of the death of Ally Verdy Cawn, than we had notice also of the stand made against Surajud Dowla's succession, by the young Begum and her party, of which Raagbullob was the chief minister and favorite of his mistress; so that it became at that juncture a dangerous step to the Company's interest to turn his family out of the settlement, the more especially as for some days advices from all quarters were in favor of the Begum's party. Notwithstanding which, as the new Suba has been proclaimed in the city, the President wrote the usual congratulatory letter to him, which was favorably received.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 6 of 10

5th. Here it becomes needful to recite, that some little time before the old Suba's death, the President received a private letter from Mr. Watts to the following purport: "That there was a multitude of the government's spies at Calcutta; that the small strength of its fortifications and garrison, and the easy capture of it, were the public discourse of the city and durbar; and that it behooved Mr. Drake to be upon his guard, and by some means prevent the government's spies bringing daily intelligence to the durbar of the weak situation of the place." This letter the President communicated to me, and gave me orders, as Zemindar to make a strict enquiry after such as might justly be suspected, and that had no real call of business in the place; and also that I would issue orders to the several Chowkeys, or places of guard, to admit none to land, or be admitted into the town without his orders. These instructions I immediately obeyed, and several suspected persons were, in consequence of them, turned out of the place, and none admitted without a strict examination.

6th. On Raagbullob's withdrawing himself, with the young Begum, to Mootee Giol, Surajud Dowla dispatched Naran Sing, brother to Rajaram, the Fowzdaar [Faujdar: Under the Mughals it was an office that combined the functions of a military commander along with judicial and land revenue functions] of Midnapore, to Calcutta, with a perwannah, [perwannah: was an order or letter of authority] the contents of which were, to demand Kissendass and his family to be delivered up between eight and nine in the evening of, I think, the 14th of April.
The President being at Barasut, and Mr. Manningham at his country residence, Omychund came and advised me that Naran Sing had got, in the disguise of a European dress, into the settlement, and had the Suba's perwannah to demand Raagbullob's family, and was at his house asking whether I would permit his bringing him to visit me? As he had got entrance into the place, I thought it advisable to see him, and Omychund brought him accordingly in about half an hour. I received him with the respect due to a brother of Rajaram, an officer in much trust and confidence with both the late and present Suba; he tendered me his perwanah, but I excused myself from receiving it, as it was addressed to the Governor, who I told him would be in town in the morning, on which he took his leave well satisfied. In the morning early I sent for the Jemmautdaar of the Chowkey where Naran Sing landed, and was going to punish him for admitting any one in the settlement without orders, when he informed me that Naran Sing came in the disguise of a common Bengall Pykar; that he opposed his landing, but that soon after Omychund's servants came to him with a message, signifying that he was a relation of his house, and that he might admit him. Soon after, on advice that the President was returned to town, I waited on him with the report of this transaction, and found with him Messieurs Manningham and Frankland; we were all a good deal embarrassed how to act on this occasion, that the same reasons that before forbid the family's being turned out of the place, after the Suba's death, still subsisted equally strong against delivering them up, as the contest was yet undecided between Surajud Dowla and the young Begum. The result at last of our deliberations was, that as Naran Sing had stole like a thief and a spy into the settlement (and not like one in the public character he pretended, and as bearing the Suba's orders) the President should not receive him or his perwanah; which resolution was put in execution, and the President sent one of his Chubdaars to him, with orders to quit the settlement, which he did: and instantly letters were dispatched to Mr. Watts to advise him of the affair, with instructions to guard against any ill consequence which might arise from it.

The treatment meted out to the Nawab’s messenger, Narayan Das (also referred to as Narayan Singh) [Naran Sing] [Brother of Rajaram, faujdar of Midnapore and head of the espionage system in the Nawab’s Government] by Drake and some other members of the Council in Calcutta added fuel to the fire, Narayan Das had come with a letter from the Nawab which contained a demand for the delivery of Krishna Ballabh, his family and treasures. He entered Calcutta on 14 April, in disguise according to somer and went to the house of Omichand, one of the most influential men in Calcutta. In the evening Omichand took him to Holwell and Pearkes, as Drake, the Governor, was then at Barasat. On the Governor’s return to Calcutta the next morning, the matter was being discussed by Drake, Holwell and Manningham, when they heard that Omichand and Narayan Das had reached the factory and were waiting for an interview with them. Omichand was then in disfavour with Drake, who, along with his colleagues, at once suspected this to be a trick on Omichund's part to take possession of the wealth of Krishna Ballabh by effecting his transfer to one of his houses. [Hill. op. cit., p. 121.] They decided not to receive Narayan Das or the Nawab’s letter brought by him and under their orders some of their servants turned him out of the settlement “with insolence and derision”. [Orme. op, cit., II. p. 54.] Soon realising, however, that this step might produce bitter consequences, they instructed Watts at Kasimbazar to take necessary precautions to avert such developments.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K.K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna (1958)


7th. The foregoing is, Honorable Sirs, a faithful narrative of the protection given to Kissendass, the son and family of Raagbullob, which has been industriously and maliciously by some, and erroneously by others, circulated as the principal cause of the loss of your settlements in Bengal; an event which, I will soon demonstrate, had much deeper and more remote foundation: for on your Chiefs at Cossimbuzar making a proper representation of this affair at the Durbar, [durbar: the court of an Indian ruler] it hardly occasioned any emotion or displeasure in the Suba, nor ever had a place in any of the subsequent complaints forwarded to us, through the channel of that subordinate.

The expulsion of Narayan Das was regarded by the Nawab as a serious insult to himself. Becher describes it as “an affront that it could not be expected any Prince would put up with from a sett of merchants ....". [Hill. op. cit., II, p. 160.] There was absolutely no ground for questioning the authenticity of the document carried by Narayan Das and construing the whole affair as a clever and selfish move on the part of Omichand. From Holwell’s letter [Letter to Court, 30 November 1756.] it is clear that he believed in the deputation of Narayan Das by Sirajud Daulah. It is strange that in the same paragraph where Holwell expresses this view, he tries to justify the expulsion of Narayan Das by pleading that the latter “had stole like a thief and a spy into the Settlement, (and not like one in the public character he pretended and as bearing the Suba’s orders).” The real motive of Drake, Holwell and Manningham in turning out Narayan Das can be read in the following statement of Holwell himself: ‘’We were all a good deal embarrassed how to act on this occasion, (seeing) that the same reasons that before forbid the family being turned out of the place after the Suba’s death still subsisted equally strong against delivering them up, as the contest was yet undecided between Surajud Dowla and the young Begum”. Omichand’s statement before Holwell on 14 April was that “Naran Singh had got, in the disguize of a European dress, into the Settlement”. But the jamadar of the chauki, where Narayan Das had landed, reported to Holwell next morning that he "came in the disguize of a common Bengali pikar (broker).” [Hill, op. cit., II, pp. 6-7.] There could be no similarity between the dress of a European and that of an ordinary Bengali paikar....

Sirajud Daulah had left Murshidabad about 16 May 1756 for suppressing Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea], Governor of Purnea, who had refused to acknowledge his authority. En route, at Rajmahalr he received Drake’s reply of 20 May and heard of the expulsion of Narayan Das [Narayan Singh] [Naran Sing] from Calcutta. He immediately ordered his army to march back to deal with the English. It was no longer necessary to proceed against Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea], as about 22 May Sirajud Daulah had got a message from Shaukat Jang [Shoucutjun, Nabob of Purranea] recognizing him as the Nawab and his master. The Nawab's troops, invested the English factory at Kasimbazar on 24 May. The Nawab returned to Murshidabad within a few days and brought the Kasimbazar factory fully under his control by 4 June, the English residents being made prisoners, with the exception of some who managed to escape to the houses of their friends. Acting with great promptitude, on 5 June he marched on Calcutta, taking with him Watts, Chief of the Kasimbazar factory, and another member, Collet, who were, however, delivered to the French Governor at Chandernagore with orders to send them “safe” to Madras....

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K.K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna (1958)


8th. The probability of a breach with France had been the subject of discourse for some time, before it was confirmed to us by the arrival of your letter on the Delawar; and as about the same time we received news of the taking Gyria by his Majesty's squadron, both became the subject of much speculation at the Durbar, where the military and naval strength of the English in India were greatly exaggerated, and no small pains taken to instill a dread of it into the government; and if the agents for the French East-India Company (whose garrison at Chandanagore did not, at this period, amount to 50 men) were not at the bottom of these reports, it is at least, I hope, no breach of charity to conclude, they used every means in their power to confirm them; at least such was our information, when it was confidently asserted in the Durbar at Muxadabad, and gained belief, that the English had sixteen ships of war, and a strong land-force coming to Bengal.

A contemporary, Edward Ives, tells us that “the French had a far superior number of European troops, and had been so artful as to form connections with the most powerful princes of the country; with these advantages they made so considerable a progress, as greatly to alarm the whole of the English settlements and to fill them with apprehensions, lest the day might come, when Mons. Dupleix’s ambition might be gratified in its utmost extent’’. [Edward Ives, A Voyage from England to India, p. 2.] Even after Dupleix's recall, the prospect of the success of the negotiations between the English and the French East India Companies for a convention with a view to “restoring union between them and putting an end to the troubles on the coast of Choromandel [Coromandel]’’ [Letter from Court, 2 Match 1754, para 17.] was uncertain. As a matter of fact, the English apprehended a quick recrudescence of hostilities with the French. The settlements of the English East India Company in India, therefore, “sent repeated accounts of their disagreeable situation" to the Court of Directors in England, who in their turn petitioned His Majesty’s Government for military help to safeguard the Company’s interests in India. [Ives, op. cit. p. 2.]

In response to this appeal, His Majesty was “most graciously pleased to order a squadron of his ships with a body of land forces on board to proceed to the East Indies’’. [Letter from Court, 2 Match 1754, para 2.] The squadron, commanded by Charles Watson, Rear Admiral of the Blue, was composed as follows:


Ships / Commanders / Guns

Kent / Henry Speke / 64 [70 according to Ives.]
Eagle / George Pocock / 60
Salisbury / Thomas Knowle / 50
Bristol / Thomas Latham / 50
Bridgwater / William Martin / 24
Sloop Kingfisher / Best Mighel / 16


The land forces, placed under the command of Colonel John Adlercron, comprised “815 men, officers included” of his regiment of infantry and a detachment of 78 men from the Royal Train of Artillery, the latter being under the command of Lieutenant William Hislop. [Letter from Court, 2 March 1754, para 3.]

Although the destination of the squadron and the land forces was Coromandel Coast, yet considering that there might be occasions for their presence at other settlements of the English, the Court issued suitable instructions for their reception. They instructed the Council in Calcutta on 2 March 1754 to behave properly towards all belonging to His Majesty’s squadron and the land forces and to give them “all necessary help and assistance” in the matter of money, stores, provisions and accommodation. [Ibid., paras 5-12.]


-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K.K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna (1958)


9th. On the receipt of your letter by the Delawar, we began to put the settlement into as good a posture of defense as we could; and as the parapet and embrasures, as well as the gun carriages of the line to the westward of the sort, were much out of repair, they became the first object of our attention; a number of workmen were employed, and I believe the parapet and embrasures (the greatest part of which we were obliged to pull down) more than half run up, when the President was surprised with a perwanah from the Suba, to the following purport:

"That he had been informed we were building a wall, and digging a large ditch round the town of Calcutta: That he did not approve of our carrying on these works without his permission: And ordered Mr. Drake to desist immediately, and destroy what he had already done."


10th. The French having strengthened their fort by an additional bastion, which they had at this time completed, received, at the same juncture we did, a perwanah to the like effect; both of them having been dispatched by the Subah, as he was on his march against the Purranea Nabob; and the answers to them reached the Suba on the same day at Rajamaal, a city about three days march from Muxadabad; and the French, by the completion of their bastion, being enabled to desist immediately, answered him accordingly; assuring him at the same time, that they had built no new works, and had only repaired one of their bastions which had been injured by lightning: With which answer he appeared satisfied.

11th. The reply your President returned to the Suba's perwanah, was, to the best of my remembrance, as follows:


"That the Suba had been misinformed in respect to our building a wall round our town, and we had dug no ditch since the invasion of the Moratters, at which time we executed such a work at the particular request of our inhabitants, and with the knowledge and approbation of Ally Verdy Cawn; that in the late war between our nation and the French, they had attacked and taken the town of Madrass, contrary to the neutrality we expected would have been preserved in the Mogul's dominions, and that there being at present great appearance of another war between the two crowns, we were under some apprehensions they would act in the same manner in Bengal; to prevent which we were only repairing our line of guns to the water-side."


It is fruitless now to wish this answer had been debated in Council before it was sent, where I think much impropriety would have appeared in it, as the whole of it had a tendency to confirm the Suba in a belief of those insinuations, which had been already conveyed to him, that the war between us and the French would probably be brought into Bengal, besides its carrying a tacit reflection on the Suba's want of power or will to protect us. The consequence was adequate, for he was much enraged at the receipt of it, and immediately ordered your factory at Cossimbuzar to be invested; which was accordingly done on the 22d of May, by Roy Dullob, of which we received advice from the gentlemen there the 25th, and several other subsequent letters, informing us of additional forces being added on the factory, from time to time, and that they expected every moment to be attacked, and that the Suba was on his march to Muxadabad. The subject matter of complaint, assigned in every letter, still regarded the new works we were carrying on in Calcutta.

12th. On the first advice received from the gentlemen at Cossimbuzar, we forwarded to them a copy of the President's answer to the Nabob's perwanah, and in our several dispatches recommended to them to use every salutary means in their power to put a stop to the Suba's resentment, and obtain a currency to our business, (which was now obstructed at every subordinate and arung). We directed them to assure the Suba we were carrying on no new works; that we had dug no ditch; that our enemies had misrepresented us; that if he gave no credit to our assertions, we entreated anyone he could confide in to inspect them, and wrote the Suba repeated letters to the like purpose. We likewise gave the gentlemen instructions to remonstrate and expostulate strongly against this hard treatment, and to endeavor to trace out, if possible, whether one or other of the European nations was not at the bottom of it, with intent to embroil the Company's affairs, and benefit those of their employers, and to use all means of knowing from his ministers if the Suba's intentions were to extort a sum of money from us (conformable to the unjust and usual method of his predecessors) withal giving them positive orders to make no concession, or give any promise touching the demolition of our fortifications.

13th. Thus, Honorable Sirs, you see us reduced to the necessity, either of resisting the arbitrary orders of the Suba, or of abandoning and leaving open your Presidency to the mercy of the French, contrary to your orders and intimation to us by the Delawar;
for to all our remonstrances we could receive no satisfaction from the gentlemen at Cossimbuzar, but was still advised, the Suba insisted on our demolishing our new works, (when in fact we had made none) and fill up a ditch we had never dug.

14th. Under date, I think, the 1st of June, we received a letter from your Chief and Council at Cossimbuzar, advising, that Roy Doolob had told Doctor Forth, that the Suba's resentment was caused only by the draw-bridge and works we had built at Baagbazar, and the octagon which Mr. Kelsall had rebuilt in his garden: And that if we would write the Suba we would demolish those works, the forces would be immediately withdrawn: And the gentlemen likewise enforcing this as a necessary and effectual expedient to put an end to the troubles, we in full council took it into consideration; and reflecting on the heavy loss and disadvantage you would sustain in your investment, by the continuance of the stoppage of your business, and judging these works and draw-bridge at Baagbazar so far detached, as to be of little use in the defense of the place against an European enemy, we unanimously agreed and determined, to promise the demolition of them, and the octagon at Mr. Kelsall's garden; and to that purport, as soothing a letter as could be indited was instantly drawn up, to the Suba, from the President, and enclosed to Mr. Watts and his Council, to whom we also wrote, advising them of our compliance and readiness to demolish those works which had given him displeasure. Triplicates of this arasdass and letter we dispatched in four hours, to arrive in thirty-six hours; and ordered a large reward to the Cossids if they arrived in the time.

Colonel Scott reached Calcutta in September 1753. He drew up a comprehensive plan of fortifications to be implemented over a period of several years, as well as a short-term plan for immediate defence. The Council in Calcutta approved of the latter; so did the Court of Directors, who ordered its execution as soon as possible. The chief features of Scott’s second plan were the completion of the Maratha Ditch, erection of two large redoubts at Perrin’s and Surman’s gardens, that is, the northern and the southern extremities of the British settlement, and the building of stronger defences on the river front of the Fort...

Image

A redoubt (historically redout) is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, although some are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat"...

[ I]n Malta... eleven pentagonal redoubts and a few semi-circular or rectangular ones were built.


-- Redoubt, by Wikipedia

[T]he redoubt at Perrin’s garden was completed and something was done to repair the line of guns on the river front of the Fort.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto
Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna



15th. We received another short letter under the same date, viz. the 1st of June, wherein the gentlemen informed us, the forces on the factory amounted to 12,000, with a train of artillery, and that positive orders were arrived to attack it, requesting they might be reinforced with an hundred men; on which a council was summoned, their request taken into consideration, and the five Captains called in, and desired to give their opinion, whether it was possible this reinforcement could be thrown into the place? They withdrew, and after debating it amongst themselves, gave us their opinion in writing, declaring the thing impracticable, and that the force the gentlemen had in the fort was, in their judgments, sufficient to defend it against the troops brought against them. This opinion we immediately dispatched to them, directing them, if they were attacked, to make as good a defense as they could; and when they found they could defend the factory no longer, to make the best retreat in their power: but I believe neither this letter, nor some of our preceding ones, reached the gentlemen, the Suba having for some days cut off all correspondence between us; a plain indication that an accommodation was not the mark he aimed at.

16th. On the 6th of June we had a rumor of Cossimbuzar's being taken by the Nabob, which was confirmed to us the 7th, by a letter from Mr. Matthew Collet, your second at that factory; which, according to my best recollection, expressed as follows:

"That upon the Nabob's repeated orders to his Generals to attack the factory, unless the Chief went in person to him, Mr. Watts, by the advice of his Council, thought it more advisable to go to the Nabob, than risk involving the Company in a war with the Government; that he accordingly did so on the 2d of June, and on coming to his presence was made a prisoner, and orders sent for Mr. Collet, (and I think Mr. Batson) to attend him; likewise to sign, jointly with Mr. Watts, a makulka, (or obligation, with a penalty annexed) which order they obeyed; but in place of being set at liberty, upon signing the makulka required, Mr. Collet was sent back to the factory, with directions to deliver it up to Roy Doolob, which he was obliged to comply with, and was then giving up the account of the cannon, ammunition, and military stores; that the factory was not plundered, and the Nabob was determined to march to Calcutta with his whole army, estimated then at 50,000 men, besides a large train of artillery."


The reasons which swayed Mr. Watts to quit his government at such a juncture as that, and trust himself in the hands of the Suba, (on whose character or principles no reasonable faith could be had) without any proper security, hostage, or safeguard for his person; or those which urged Mr. Collet to follow his example, when he knew his Chief was made a prisoner; and that consequently the trust, command, and government of the factory, fort, and garrison, devolved upon himself; or why this your settlement was thus given up, without a single stroke being struck for it, I am totally a stranger to, and can only hope, for their sakes, and the honor of their country, they have, or will justify their conduct to you in those particulars.

The Nawab's troops, invested the English factory at Kasimbazar on 24 May. The Nawab returned to Murshidabad within a few days and brought the Kasimbazar factory fully under his control by 4 June, the English residents being made prisoners, with the exception of some who managed to escape to the houses of their friends. Acting with great promptitude, on 5 June he marched on Calcutta, taking with him Watts, Chief of the Kasimbazar factory, and another member, Collet, who were, however, delivered to the French Governor at Chandernagore with orders to send them “safe” to Madras....

Some said that Watts’ surrender was a blunder and resistance on his part for some time at least could have prevented the Nawab’s prompt attack on Calcutta. Watts pleaded in defence that it would have been “madness” on his part “to resist the Government” when “so great a part” of the Company’s “estate amounting to many lacks of Rupees was dispersed over the whole country which would have been immediately seized” to the great loss of the Company.


-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


I will not subscribe to the opinion of our five Captains, as already recited, and say their force was sufficient to resist and defend the place for any long time against the Suba's army; but had it been defended at all, he could not have attacked and taken it, without the loss of time, many of his people, and probably some of his principal officers. A stroke of this kind might have had happy consequences to your affairs; it might have inclined the Suba to an accommodation, by cooling still more the zeal of his ministers, generals, officers and people, who almost to a man were averse to this expedition against the English, as well knowing the consequence would be as fatal to his country as to us, though he succeeded in it. A defense of only twenty-four hours would, in its consequences, have retarded, in all probability, his march to Calcutta for many days, and would have been a point gained to us of the utmost importance, by having more time for the completion of many requisites, which for want of it we were obliged wholly to neglect, or they remained unfinished at the time we were actually invested. A detention of his army before Cossimbuzar for two or three days, would have brought on dirty rainy weather in his march towards us, and incommoded him greatly, as well in the passage of his troops and cannon, as in the attack of our settlement; whereas, by the easy possession he acquired of Cossimbuzar, he was enabled to march against us without lots of time, or obstruction from the weather, which afforded not a drop of rain through the march and attack of Calcutta, but on the 21st, at night, whilst I was prisoner in the camp, it rained heavily, and dirty weather succeeded for many days after; during which his musketry, being all matchlocks, would have been rendered in a manner useless. We should also have had an important succor, in the arrival before the fort, of the Success galley, the Speedwell, and Bombay frigate; these vessels having passed Tanners the 19th and 20th, and joined the Dodaly and the rest of our fleet about Govindpore, after they had fell down from the fort, though before it was surrendered. Many more are the advantages I could enumerate, which would have resulted from the smallest defense and resistance made at Cossimhuzar, and can only regret now its not having been done; repeating my hopes, the gentlemen in trust there will give you sufficient reasons why it was not done. Their treatment could hardly have been worse, had they been obstinate in its defense; they themselves being continued prisoners in the Suba's camp, under many hardships, until, I think, the latter end of June; their effects plundered, and the gentlemen in the factory, viz. Messrs. Hugh, Watts, and Chambers, with the whole garrison, put in irons, and sent to the common prison at Muxadabad; the fate Messrs. Batson, Sykes, Hastings, and Marriot, would have undergone, had not luckily the two former made their escape, and the two latter been at the Arungs.

17. On Cossimbuzar's being invested, we wrote to the several subordinates, and to all our Gomastahs at the several armies, advising them of the several proceedings, and to be upon their guard, and hold themselves in readiness to retreat with the Company's effects, &c. and on intelligence of the capture of the place, and the Subah's march to Calcutta, we sent them orders to withdraw, and join us with all expedition. But these orders were too late, excepting with respect to your factory at Luckypore, as I have already intimated in my letter of the 17th July. Mr. Boddam, your Chief at Ballisore, received our orders in time to withdraw himself, with the few soldiers he had there, and about 6000 Rupees of your effects; the remainder, to the amount of about 40,000, were sequestered, and your factory-house in part only demolished at Ballasore; but Bulramgurry, by its situation, having escaped the government's notice, and by the prudent conduct of Mr. John Bristow, (left Resident at Ballasore by Mr. Boddam) is still retained. Myself and Mr. Boddam were dispatched to take a formal possession of it the 18th September, and to negotiate other matters, which will be transmitted on the face of our Fulta consultations; and we have thought it necessary to nominate Bullramgurry your Presidency, being divested of every other possession you had in these provinces. But to resume my narrative: Dispatches were likewise forwarded express to Bombay, Fort St. George, and Vizagapatam, the 8th of June, for a reinforcement of troops, stores, &c. and succors demanded of the French and Dutch settlements on this river; the success of which last negotiation you have likewise in my said letter of the 17th July. The militia were under arms for the first time the 7th June, something too late, I am afraid you will say, to be of much service, just coming to action.

18. I am now, Honorable Sirs, come closer to the unraveling the real causes which stimulated the Suba to the lengths he has proceeded against us: How far my conjectures and assertions will be supported by a probable system of politics in him, and by the tenor of his own conduct considered together, I humbly submit to your judgments. And first, I beg leave to remark on the three articles contained in the Makulka, which your Chief and Council were obliged to sign in the Suba's camp, when before Cossimbuzar; the terms of which were, viz.

"That we should not protect the King's subjects. -- That we should not misuse the liberty of our dusticks [dastaks or Passes for the river], by covering the trade of the native merchants. -- And that we should refund and make good whatever sum it should be proved the King had been defrauded of in his revenues and duties by this practice; and that we should demolish our fortifications."


Beside the business which the factors and agents of the Company were engaged to perform on the Company’s account, they had been allowed to carry on an independent traffic of their own, for their own profit. Every man had in this manner a double occupation and pursuit; one for the benefit of the Company, and one for the benefit of himself. Either the inattention of the feebly interested Directors of a common concern had overlooked the premium for neglecting that concern which was thus bestowed upon the individuals entrusted with it in India: Or the shortness of their foresight made them count this neglect a smaller evil, than the additional salaries which their servants, if debarred from other sources of emolument, would probably require. The President of Calcutta granted his dustucks for protecting from the duties and taxes of the native government, not only the goods of the Company, but also the goods of the Company’s servants; and possibly the officers of that government were too little acquainted with the internal affairs of their English visitants to remark the distinction. The Company had appropriated to themselves, in all its branches, the trade between India and the mother country. Their servants were thus confined to what was called the country trade, or that from one part of India to another. This consisted of two branches, maritime, and inland; either that which was carried on by ships from one port of India to another, and from the ports of India to the other countries in the adjacent seas; or that which was carried on by land between one town or province and another. When the dustucks of the President, therefore, were granted to the Company’s servants, they were often granted to protect from duties, commodities, the produce of the kingdom itself, in their passage by land from one district or province to another. This, Jaffier Khan, the viceroy, declared it his determination to prevent; as a practice at once destructive of his revenue, and ruinous to the native traders, on whom heavy duties were opposed: And he commanded the dustucks of the President to receive no respect, except for goods, either imported by sea, or purchased for exportation. The Company remonstrated, but in vain. Nor were the pretensions of their servants exempt from unpleasant consequences; as the pretext of examining whether the goods were really imported by sea, or really meant for exportation, often produced those interferences of the officers of revenue, from which it was so great a privilege to be saved. Interrupted and disturbed in their endeavours to grasp the inland trade, the Company’s servants directed their ardour to the maritime branch; and their superior skill soon induced the merchants of the province, Moors, Armenians, and Hindus, to freight most of the goods, which they exported, on English bottoms. Within ten years, from the period of the embassy, the shipping of the port of Calcutta increased to 10,000 tons.

-- The History of British India, vol. 3 of 6, by James Mill


[Sirajud Daulah] levelled three definite charges against the English. The first was that they had “built strong fortifications and dug a large ditch in the King’s dominions contrary to the established laws of the country”. The second was that they had “abused the privilege of their dustucks by granting them to such as were no ways entitled to them, from which practices the King has suffered greatly in the revenue of his Customs". The third complaint was that they had given “protection to such of the King’s subjects as have by their behaviour in the employ they were entrusted with made themselves liable to be called to an account and instead of giving them up on demand they allow such persons to shelter themselves within their bounds from the hands of justice”.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


These, Honorable Sirs, are the purport of the three articles of the Makulka, howsoever I may have varied the wording of it, by not having it before me. Had the Suba any intention of being satisfied with our concession to these articles, he certainly would have rested here; your Chief Council, fort and garrison of Cossimbuzar were in his possession, the Gentlemen had signed and executed the obligation demanded of them; he knew their signing of it was not valid or binding without our approval; and if he had ever inclined to an accommodation, he would have transmitted the terms they had complied with, and at least have desisted until our reply could have reached him, in place of cutting off, for some days, the means of all correspondence or intelligence between us and your factory; and marching directly against us, without ever replying to, or taking notice of many Arassdasses received from us:

Watts and Collet wrote to the Court of Directors from Chandernagore on 16 July 1756 “that the Nabob never intended to drive the English out of his province but would have been satisfied with a sum of money”. They asserted that they had forwarded a letter to this effect to Drake from Hooghly through the Dutch Director, but Drake did not agree with them. It may be that the Nawab’s resentment was too intense to be removed in the manner suggested by Watts and Collet. But it can be reasonably said that complete expulsion of the English was not his deliberate and premeditated design. He wrote to Pigot, the Governor of Madras, “It was not my intention to remove the mercantile business of the Company belonging to you from out of the subah of Bengal, but Roger Drake your gomasta [gomastha] was a very wicked and unruly man and began to give protection to persons who had accounts with the Patcha in his Koatey [Kothi-factory]. Notwithstanding all my admonitions, yet he did not desist from his shameless actions. Why should these people who come to transact the mercantile affairs of the Company be doers of such actions?” [Hill, op, cit., I, p. 196.] Drake and his Council did not make sincere efforts to reach an agreement with the Nawab. The little they did was half-hearted and belated. A letter was, if the testimony of Khwajah Wajid’s Chinsura diwan Shri Babu (Shiva Babu) is to be credited, sent by Drake to the Nawab at his persuasion and through him; but it was too late, hostilities having already commenced. [Letter to Court from Watts and Collet, 17 July 1756, para 1.]

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


But the truth is, his jealousy of the independent power of the Europeans in his country was at this juncture confirmed, which he was determined to reduce; and being sensible ours was the most formidable to him, we became the first objects of his just politics. To support this my conclusion, I must here refer to three letters, which Wazeed's Gomastah in my presence read your President, (copies of which, l believe, are in Mr. Drake's possession) addressed to his master Wazeed, from the Suba, all three, to the best of my remembrance, bearing date in May last.

In each of these, he avows his intention to reduce the power of the English, forbids his interfering on their behalf, asserting his having long intended it, and swears by God and his Prophets, that he will drive them out of his country, unless they are satisfied to trade in it on the footing they did in Jaffier Cawn's time (by which he meant before the time the Honorable Company obtained their Phirmaund [Farman] [Firmaun, Phirmaund: Order, mandate; an imperial decree, a royal grant, or charter]).

One of the pernicious evils was the fraudulent use of dastaks [dusticks: Passes for the river] by the Company’s servants for their private trade and their disposal of these, for some consideration, to Indian merchants. These malpractices which originated in 1704, if not earlier, caused great loss to the Nawab’s exchequer and the local merchants who had to pay customs according to the current rates. The members of the Council in Calcutta had asserted in the days of Shujauddin Muhammad Khan that the farman of Emperor Farrukhsiyar entitled them to use dastaks for their personal trade. But their standpoint was based on an entirely wrong interpretation of this important document. What that farman granted was exemption from the payment of customs on exports and imports of the Company as a corporate body, and vessels conveying goods on behalf of the Company were to carry, for purposes of identification, dastaks, signed by the President of the Council in Calcutta. Farrukhsiyar never intended to extend this privilege to the private trade of the Company’s servants.

Conscious of the evil effects of this practice the Court of Directors often called upon the Council in Calcutta to check them. Most probably as a result the Council took some steps to regulate the use of dastaks, which, however, proved to be ineffective. The Court reiterated their words of caution in this respect in their letter of 31 January 1755. But the abuse of dastaks continued and the results of Plassey tremendously aggravated it.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


Your fort at Cossimbuzar, (esteemed by all judges more regular and tenable than that at Fort William) so near his capital, appeared too dangerous a hold, at a time he was influenced to believe our strength in India was four times more formidable than it really was; and that we were on the eve of a French war, which would be probably brought into his country: Consistent with this was his expression of resentment, at Rajamaal, on receipt of your President's letter: "Who shall dare to think of commencing hostilities in my country, or presume to imagine I have not power to protect them?" And it was current in the mouths of all degrees, when I was at Muxadabad, that Mahabut Jung had long meditated to destroy the forts and garrisons of the Europeans, and to reduce their trade on the footing of Armenians.

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Muxadabad's Mouths of all degrees


And here I hope it will not be deemed impertinent, if I recite, verbatim [verbatim: in exactly the same words as were used originally], the last discourse and council which Mahabut Jung gave his grandson, a few days before his death; and which I had from very good authority at Muxadabad, after my releasement.

"My life has been a life of war and stratagem: For what have I fought, for what have my councils tended, but to secure you, my Son, a quiet succession to my Subadary? My fears for you have for many days robbed me of sleep. I perceived who had power to give you trouble after I am gone hence. Hossein Cooley Cawn, by his reputation, wisdom, courage, and affection to Shaw Amet Jung, and his house, I feared would obstruct your government. His power is no more. Monichund Dewan, whose councils might have been your dangerous enemy, I have taken into favor. Keep in view the power the European nations have in the country. This fear I would also have freed you from, if God had lengthened my days. -- The work, my Son, must now be yours: Their wars and politics in the Telinga country should keep you waking: On pretence of private contests between their Kings, they have seized and divided the country of the King, and the goods of his people between them: Think not to weaken all three together. The power of the English is great; they have lately conquered Angria, and possessed themselves of his country; reduce them first; the others will give you little trouble, when you have reduced them. Suffer them not, my Son, to have fortifications or soldiers: If you don't the country is not yours."


19th. How consistent the Suba has been in his adherence to this last counsel of his grandfather, we have woefully felt; but that we were not solely the objects of his resentment and designs, is evident: His perwanah to the French was dispatched the same day with ours: When he marched against us, he sent perwanahs to both French and Dutch, with orders to provide, and join him with ships, men, and ammunition, to attack us by water, whilst he attacked us by land: They refused; in consequence of their refusal, he invested their several forts and factories, and demanded an exorbitant sum from each. The French were glad to accommodate matters for the payment of three Lack and half of Rupees; the Dutch for four Lack and half, after having had, for a day and half, a body of the Suba's troops in their settlement, waiting orders to attack it; and a man stationed with an ax in his hands, to cut down their flag-staff and colors. The French had not money to pay the mulct laid on them, but gained Roy Doolob to become their security: The Dutch were reduced to immediate payment; and both did then, and ever since have been obliged to endure the most audacious and exasperating insults, from the lowest Peon in the service of the government. That there was this difference in the sum extorted from them has been accounted for, (how justly I will not say) by the supplies of ammunition given the Suba privately by the agents of the French at Chandanagore. The thing, however, was verified by two of our ships, who brought us intelligence, that the French, by night, crossed over 200 chests of powder to the Suba's army, lying near Banka Bazar.

20th. Still consistent with the last advice of Mahabut Jung [Ally Verdy Cawn], he appeared at Rajamal satisfied with the answer from the French Director; though no one can imagine his intelligence was such, that he was really imposed on as to the pretence of repairing the damage they had sustained by lightning; he manifested sufficiently his resentment and intentions against both French and Dutch; but their time was not yet come; it was not his business to have the three nations to encounter at once, but to compromise, at the present, for as much as he could get from them; but that the French were, and still are, the next object of his arms, will not admit of doubt, no more than that he would have proceeded immediately against them, had not his advices from court obliged him to proceed against Shocut Jung, the Purranea Nabob, as an object more important; for when I was twice conducted into his presence, after the surrender of the fort, his first question to me was, "Will you all engage to join me against the French?" Uniform has been the conduct of the government to another part of Mahabut Jung's [Ally Verdy Cawn] advice; for though liberty of trade is granted to the Danes and Prussians, yet they are prohibited fortifications or garrisons. And in further proof of the resolution of the government to divest the Europeans of their forts and garrisons, and that we were the objects of his policy, and not of his resentment only (from either one particular private cause or other, that may be transmitted you) I may justly add, the apprehensions of the French and Dutch themselves, who, on the first approach of our troubles, sent strenuous dispatches to their Principals at Batavia and Pondicherry, for the most expeditious supplies of men, ammunition, &c. and I doubt not it will be soon their turn to regret the having so quietly given us up as a sacrifice, unless the Suba should be vanquished in his present expedition against Shocut Jung.

21st. The 3d instant (November) a Perwannah reached the Dutch, from the Suba's camp -- demanding them to join him against us, with threatenings, if they refused; and, the same day, a Perwannah came to the French factory, purporting that the Suba was informed they were carrying on their fortifications, and if they did not immediately desist, he would pass through the Dutch factory and settlement, and with their (the Dutch) soldiers, destroy their fort, and drive them out of the country, as he had done the English; and the government has already obliged the French to take down their colors erected on the bounds.

22d. I believe, Honorable Sirs, it will by this time appear clearly evident to you, that the governing principle in the Suba was political, and the real object of his proceedings the demolition of your forts and garrisons, as his demands always expressed; not that I will be hardy enough to aver, he had no concurring subordinate causes, that had a specious color of resentment; and this reflection leads me to consider the other two articles of the Mackulka, as their being inserted carry the appearance of complaint, though never before urged by him in any of his demands, as transmitted us by your servants at Cossimbuzar.

23d. That the abuse of Dusticks [dastaks or Passes for the river] should be one cause of complaint, I am not surprised at: the face of your consultations just before the dispatch of your last year's ships, will give you, Honorable Sirs, my sentiments of the ill use made of this indulgence to your servants; my motion and minutes on this subject were, after the dispatch of your ships, taken into consideration, and such remedies and checks resolved on, as were judged might put a stop to the abuse.

24th. That we should not protect the King's subjects, is an article will bear a much larger discussion. This prohibition, in the extent it might have been carried by the government, whenever it was inclined to obstruct your business or plunder your merchants, would have rendered your trade most precarious; had the article been explained so as to prohibit our giving protection to those who were actually servants to the government, or others not born in or for a term of years settled under our colors, it would, I think, have carried nothing unjust or unreasonable in it; but that was by no means the real intention of it.

There is clear reference in the account of David Rannie (August 1756) that the English Company gave protection to the “Nabob’s subjects”, though they were neither their ‘servants’ nor their ‘merchants’. Further, the affair of Krishnadas (Krishna Ballabh) was a sufficiently provocative one.

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


The article had a latitude in expression, that would include your merchants and inhabitants whenever the Suba or his ministers were pleased to call on them; a call they would never fail in, on some pretense or other, whenever they had got anything worth taking; so that in truth it would have been as impossible for us, consistent with your interests, to have subscribed to this article, as to the other, regarding the demolition of your fortifications; and the most favorable terms intended for us (which I could with the utmost diligence learn when at Muxadabad) were, that if we had paid an implicit obedience to the Suba's commands, by delivering our forts, and dismissal of our garrisons, we should then have been permitted to trade, on paying Armenian duties; admitting a Fowzdaar [Faujdar: Under the Mughals it was an office that combined the functions of a military commander along with judicial and land revenue functions] into your settlement on the part of the government, and relinquishing to them all duties of consulage, revenues, &c. Terms scandalous and injurious to your honor as well as commerce; terms which we could never have submitted to, even if we had received no alarm from the side of France, without sacrificing the rights of your Phirmaund, giving up every part of our trust, and breaking through your repeated standing orders for more than 30 years past.

Watts’ contention that the Company had a right to strengthen the fortifications in Calcutta on the basis of an imperial farman [Firmaun, Phirmaund: Order, mandate; an imperial decree, a royal grant, or charter], evidently that granted by Farrukhsiyar in 1716-17, is not supported by the said farman. The fortification of Calcutta after Shova Singh’s rebellion (1696-97) had been carried out with the permission of the then Nawab of Bengal. But the troubles of Alivardi in 1755-56, of which it was quite possible for Watts to be cognisant from the proximity of his residence to Murshidabad, encouraged Watts, and at his suggestion the Council in Calcutta, to express and maintain a point of view which undoubtedly amounted to a defiance of the Nawab’s authority. It is unintelligible why Mr. Holwell regrets, in his letter to Court dated 30 November 1756, that “the favourable moment,” when "everything was in confusion and both parties [Sirajud Daulah and his rivals] were employed on their own schemes and designs”, had not been suitably utilised by the English in Calcutta for the building of fortifications. In fact, during Alivardi’s illness both the French and the English began, without any concealment, to repair and strengthen their fortifications. [S. C. Hill, Bengal in 1756-57, I, xivi.] The Bengal Council wrote to the Court of Directors on 21 February 1756 “of the redoubt at Perrins being nigh completed."

-- Fort William-India House Correspondence and Other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto, Vol. I: 1748-1756, Edited by K. K. Datta, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, Patna University, Patna


25th. Thus, Honorable Sirs, it will appear to you, that submission could not have been paid by us to two articles of the Mackulka, executed by your Chief and Council of Cossimbuzar, and that we had many months before guarded against (as much as in us lay) the complaint laid in the third; if the honors and consciences of men were to be influenced by checks the most binding and solemn: But it is plain the two articles of complaint were at the last inserted, to give a coloring for enforcing the third and only one (our fortifications) the Suba until then insisted on, and had really in view. I am sensible, no small pains will be taken to throw the rise of your misfortunes here, on every cause but the right.
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