The English Factories in India, Volume 4: 1630-1633

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Introductory notes

"The English Factories in India" published in thirteen volumes was compiled by Sir William Foster a Vice-President. Sir William Foster, born in 1863, entered the India Office in 1882. He worked most of his his official life on the archives of the East India Company. Sir Arthur Wollaston, the then Registrar, and Superintendent of Records, gave Foster the opportunity to begin work on the monumental calendar, on the English factories in India. The English East India Company for commercial enterprise set up factories at different locations in India in the 17th Century. "The English Factories in India", was meant to be a compilation of documents emanating from or directly relating to these factories compiled from the archives of the British Museum, with addition from the East India Series at the Public Record Office. The English Factories of India was eventually published in thirteen volumes by the Oxford University Press, between 1906 to 1923. In 1907, Foster became the Superintendent of Records and in 1923 the post of Historiographer was temporarily revived in his honour; he held it until his retirement (1927). For the Hakluyt Society, of which he was Secretary (1893-1902) and President (1928-1945), he edited nine volumes, the last appearing in 1949. Foster passed away in 1951.

The fourth volume of "The English Factories in India" was published in 1910. The fourth volume deals with the correspondences between Company's factory agents in Surat, Swally(now Suvali), Bantam(now Bantein), Masulipatnam, Persian and with the Council in London, between the years 1630 to 1633. The selected correspondences offer a picture of the ravages and pestilence caused by the great famine of 1630-31.

Selection details

The fourth volume of "The English Factories in India" was published in 1910. The fourth volume deals with the correspondences between Company's factory agents in Surat, Swally(now Suvali), Bantam(now Bantein), Masulipatnam, Persian and with the Council in London, between the years 1630 to 1633. The selected correspondences offer a picture of the ravages and pestilence caused by the great famine of 1630-31.

[Page 57]

1. PRESIDENT RASTELL AND COUNCIL3 AT SURAT TO WILLIAM BURT AND OTHER FACTORS IN PERSIA, OCTOBER 6, 1630 (Bombay Record Office: Surat Factory Outward Letter Book, vol. i. p. 25).4

[Page 59]

The controversy between Wylde and Boothby they leave to be decided at home. The fact that the Charles and the Jonas have lost their monsoon this year for England has led to the decision that the Discovery and Reformation shall go home straight from Gombroon. Warn them to have ready their accounts relating to the Old Stock for dispatch to the Company by those ships. Will send particulars of goods freighted from Surat by private individuals, in order that the full amount due for customs may be exacted. Division of freight money between the various accounts. The famine in India has caused a great scarcity of indigo. The merchants who came from Persia in the English ships, finding themselves debarred from proceeding to the Deccan for the purchase of finer goods, owing to the wars in those parts, have bought up the whole of last year's crop. The price is now 18 and 18 ½ rupees per maund, and the [Page 60] factors have little hope of securing much of the new season's crop, 'unlesse that with you there be some discreete preventions or restrainte of passengers on our retourning shipps from thence this yeare.' Thank them for their relation of the wars between the Persians and the Turks, 'together with the Portingalls pettie preparacions.' 'Advices by the way of Mocha since doth seeme to ascertayne that the Turke hath received a fatall overthrow; and of the Portingalles proceedings in these parts you have allready heard our discourse; their supplye out of Europe this yeare being onely a carrack and one gallion, which will very much disapointe the Vise-Kinges designes by the want of men, mony, and usefull provisions, which intelligence tells us are things he greatly stands in need of. That which wee here most dread are his stratagemes by fire in Swally, and his friggatts intercepting of your boats in Gumbroone.' Suggest that the Khan of Shiraz should be asked to assist by lending country boats and musketeers. The Company will no doubt investigate their complaints of the badness of the cloth received last year; trust that the consignment now to be sent them will make amends. Note their remarks regarding the esteem of gold and the value of various gold coins in Persia; but desire further particulars, 'more especially touching the intrinsicall vallew of uncoynd gould, whether in ingots or other formes, and whether in your payments or bartar with the King the same would not passe as currant as other specie, or part in that and parte in ryalls etc., as may best arise to the highest proffitte of the Company. It is a subject that hath begotten great dispute at home; therefore wee pray you not to passe it over slightly, the rather also in regard of the scarcity of ryalls, not to be purchast now under 4s. 10d. the ryall of eight ready monye.' Will not omit to show all fitting courtesy to any Armenians that may desire their assistance. A supply of gunny, ropes, etc., for packing, and also of houseprovisions, will be furnished by the fleet. Expect in return some Shiraz wine, vinegar, 'accharr of grapps,'1 pistachios, rosewater, etc. 'Above all let us not come behinde the Dutch for some of your Persian horses of noate to content this warlike prince, etc.' The shipping of horses for private individuals should be prohibited. Difference in accounts between Burt, Malachi Martin, and the late [Page 61] Richard Predys. The list sent of Indian commodities suitable for Persia did not specify either prices or quantities requisite; this should be rectified in future advices. (Copy. 6 ¾pp.)

[Page 73]

2. PRESIDENT RASTELL AND COUNCIL AT SURAT TO THE FACTORS AT MASULIPATAM, OCTOBER 27, 1630 (Bombay Record Office : Surat Factory Outward Letter Book, vol. i., p. 51).

Note the extraordinary loss sustained in putting off their goods. Would be glad to know the remedy which Sill has in mind; also whether a small vessel, if provided, would be safe from the Portuguese frigates, and whether this expense could be saved by an earlier supply of goods direct from England. A point to be considered is what employment could be found for the ship or ships between the date of arrival and the time when a cargo would be ready. Regret to hear of the bad sales of European goods, owing (as here) to war and famine. Their relation of Dutch successes and misfortunes has been for the most part confirmed by 'this comandore' [i.e. the Dutch chief], who also declares that a fleet has started from Batavia for Surat. Suspect that, if so, it has gone to Persia first, leaving the English to deal with the Portuguese singlehanded. Suppose that the Portuguese frigates are not idle on the Coromandel Coast; and as Sill appears to intimate some imminent peril therefrom, they would be glad to receive any suggestions for a 'fitting course of prevencion'. Desire also the opinion of the factors concerning the continuance of Armagon, and what expenditure would be necessary to make it safe against the enemy. Note the goods sent in the Dove to Bantam, and the reason of the poor quality of part of them. Would do their best to assist in the timely provision of funds for the next investment if they had a small vessel to spare, but this is unhappily not the case. The detention of Read or any other servant on that coast is left to the discretion of Sill (the Agent being absent). Intimate that if Lawrence Henley cares to remain, he 'shall not have cause to repent him thereof '. The accusations against Cartwright have been examined, but they do not appear to be of serious importance. (Copy. Damaged. pp.)

[Page 97]

3. PRESIDENT RASTELL AND COUNCIL AT SURAT TO THE COMMANDERS AT SWALLY, NOVEMBER 17, 1630 (Bombay Record Office: Surat Factory Outward Letter Book, vol. i, p. 87).1

Wrote to them only a few hours ago, but have since received the amended inventory, which is now satisfactory. Repeat the directions in their previous letter. Have tried to agree with the 'pragmata' 2 for two of the water boats now at Swally, but he will not part with them; so have procured two others. The frigate to be retained should not be altered until 'Naggee Shaw' and his companions have surveyed her. 'You cannot be unprivy to the universall callamytie of this countrie, by reason of dearth and famine, nowe growne to such an extreame that wee ourselves are become behoulding for corne even to supply our househould provisions. How destitute therefore wee are of all meanes and hopes to furnish you with either bread or rice from hence let this just complaint of ours informe you, and make you sensible of the miserye. It remaynes hereupon that you therefore put your people to a shorter allowance of bisket, though you inlarge the more in flesh. Of rack [arrack] you may not expect any more then one but to be sent you before your departure hence for Persia. What we shalbe able to provide in your absence wee cannot promise, the distillers being all of them (or the most part) with their famylies departed into the parts of more hoped plenty, as are many thousands besides, as well weavers, washers, dyers, etc.; that puts us allmost into dispaire of a competent lading for the succeeding yeares home retourns; and yet these are but the beginings of greater woe yet to come.' (Copy. pp.)

[Page 117]


The departure of the Falcon has been delayed by foul weather and the bad dealing of the Governors of Masulipatam and Petapoli. Send copies of their last letter, with the bill of lading, etc. Their [Page 118] hopes of a better cargo than that sent by the Dove have been frustrated. The woven cloth of this place is particularly bad now. 'Yet cannot wee justly blame our heere merchants, if wee conscider the dearenes of cotton, beeing fower times the price of former times and yeares, with the extraordinarie dearth and famine that hath predominated over all these partes, which hath consumed, meerely through want of sustinance, in each towne and villadge soe many of the people (and espetially the poorer sorte) as allmost incredible to reporte, were not ourselves spectatours. But to recount the many miseries in theis parts this yeare would better becom a historic then a letter of advise. And should the goodnes of the cloth have bin corrispondent to former times, our price must have followed; which wee verry well know the condicions of these people [i. e. the purchasers in the Far East] to bee such that they would not bee drawne thereto; whoe rather rule themselves by an accustomed price then the goodnes of the commoditie they buy; neyther can they bee sencible of its heere dearth and scarecetie when the Dutch and wee shall fill our there factories (which this yeare will bee) as if noe obstacles were heere to the contrarie. Heerewith wee send you coppies of our President and Councell at Suratt their letters to us heere, whereby you will understand that this plague of dearth and famine hath soe fully possest those parts as to make them doubt the loosing of a monsoone for England.' The Company's letters will apprise them of 'the diverting of your there Presidencie to an Agencie, of which title this place is dispossest (as is but reason), with order heerafter to give an accompt to the President and Councell in Suratt.' Send copy of their general letter to that place, and refer to the bearer, Lawrence Henley, for further information about affairs on this coast. Lading of the Falcon. Division of the Masulipatam charges between the two stocks. Request advice of how the several goods sent in the Dove and this ship find vent. Money due from a native merchant to be recovered and transmitted to Surat. Satisfaction to be given to the Dutch for a cable supplied to the Falcon. Passage granted to two Danish merchants, one of whom rendered them great service in a dispute at Petapoli; they desire to go to Macassar, to meet their General. Three Danish soldiers also given passages to Bantam. They had been enlisted 'in the time of the Portugall [Page 119] forces uppon this coast', but since dismissed, owing to the Company's order that none shall be admitted into their service except with their approval; and owing to the famine they have petitioned to be taken out of the country. (Copy, Received at Bantam February 11, 1631. 2pp.)

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[Page 125]

Your commission injoyning a large investment this yeare in both sorts of indicoe, that wee might the better make choyce of the fewer quantities of callicoes required, is greatly crost by the great want of raines in these partts, especially about Amadavad, where their this yeares whole cropp on the ground is not likely to produce above two or three hundred fardles, which in former tymes hath not been soe little as 4 or 5,000. And for that of the passed yeares growth, the many buyers, as well Dutch as Persians, Armenians, etc., having furnished themselves with the choycest ware at excessive high rates, there is left but a poore remaines of refuse stuff behinde, enough only for this countryes service, and yet that not to be purchast under 18 rupes the maund; which therefore wee determine not to meddle with, though at farr lesse rates, in respect of its badd condition.' In lieu of Sarkhej they will send an increased quantity of Biana indigo. If they buy any gum-lac they will be careful as to the quality; but they think it can be got better at Masulipatam. In each ship they will send a quantity of doubly refined saltpetre to serve as ballast; will put as much as possible into casks, but cannot thus pack the whole. Cotton yarn shall be provided as far as space is available in the absence of more valuable [Page 126] goods; at present, owing to the dearth, both that and cotton wool are at double their usual prices. Will send no spikenard, sugar, dry ginger, aloes Socotrina, quilts, or carpets until further orders. As regards the long pepper bought here for the Company at 27 mahmudis per maund, while the mariners procured some at 10 mahmudis, they explain that the latter was of a meaner sort, obtained at Bantam, 'which this here doth farr transcende in goodness.' Note the orders concerning green ginger and bloodstones. 'Cinamon being a bulkey comoditie, and deare withall, is more fitt for Persia, but not profitable hence for England.' As the James is to call at Surat on her way back from Bantam it will be cheaper to procure a lading of pepper from that place; and on her arrival part of her cargo can be shot loose into the holds of the other ships (to fill up vacant spaces), and the room thus left can be utilized for richer goods. Have ordered the factors, in packing their goods, to use the best cotton wool and dutties. Have forbidden the shipment of oil, to avoid damage by leakage. Note the instructions regarding the 1630 and 1631 fleets. Most of the factors called home for private trading, etc., have already gone on the Charles and Jonas. Have been obliged to detain Skibbow (who is one of those named) because his accounts are not yet completed. They have found him both temperate and discreet; and although he is not one of the three selected for the Council, yet in consideration of his position and long service he is permitted to take part in their consultations. Barber is returning in these ships (if he can finish his accounts in time); and as Richard Predys and William Price died before the arrival of the fleet, they are so shorthanded that they are obliged to detain Thomas Wilbraham and Richard Belfield to assist them. One, if not two factors, must necessarily follow the court, 'for the opposing of complaints and the solliciting of other occasions'; but when the King returns to Agra this expense can be saved, as the factors resident there can undertake the duty. Persia and the southern factories are still worse off as regards assistants. In the case of the former, captains' boys and other young men have been taken on shore for this purpose; but they shall now be replaced by pursers or pursers' mates. It will be more difficult to supply the southern factories; at present they are waiting to hear from Sill and his colleagues on the subject. The goods [Page 127] already laden for Persia on the Company's account amount to 56,234 mahmudis. A further consignment, which has cost about 98,826 mahmudis, is on its way from Ahmadabad and Cambay, but they fear the ships will not be able to wait for it. Would gladly have enlarged the investment, 'did not both warr and famine even frustrate all hopes in the vend of our English comodities, whose provenu [produce] wilbe a great want unto us for the accomplishing of other investments.' Cannot tell who were the owners of the silk mentioned by Burt. The sword-blades sent for a trial are still detained in the customhouse; so it is impossible to say anything regarding their saleability. In case of transfer of stock, etc., from one Voyage to another, they will follow the directions given. Have laden on the Discovery and Reformation for England 456 fardles of Agra indigo, 579 bales of calico, 250 bales of cotton yarn, 597 bales of saltpetre (in lieu of ballast), and 4,509 maunds of Priaman pepper. These, with the 1,400 bales of silk expected to be shipped in Persia, will nearly equal the whole estate of the First Persia Voyage. The goods provided in India (as also 800 bales of Sarkhej indigo, to be sent home next year) have been bought partly with the money of the Second General Voyage; the cargoes must therefore be considered as sent on joint account, and the proceeds will have to be divided between the two Voyages. Cannot at present advise the exact proportion, but it will probably be two-thirds for the First Voyage and one-third for the Second. The Sarkhej indigo is kept back, partly to accelerate the dispatch of the ships, but chiefly to enhance its price at home, to compensate for the dear rates at which it has been bought here, viz. 16¼ rupees per maund. The calicoes, on the other hand, are cheaper than usual. The accounts now sent will show that they stand indebted (for the Old Stock) nearly 41,000l., 'besides its dayly growth by the addition of intrest uppon intrest att 1 1/8 per month.' Trust that the Company will take steps to discharge this liability, which is not only wasteful in itself but obliges them to conciliate their creditors to the prejudice of their business.

[Page 144]


Enclose a copy of a letter, dated December 31, 1630, which was sent them by the Intelligence. Confirm the injunctions therein, except as regards their making Gombroon their first port, 'which our advices from the Agent there residinge geves us cause to annihilate.' To afford them timely knowledge of this change of plan, and lest the James and Blessing should be detained at Bantam and thereby be hindered from joining them at Johanna by the date assigned, the William has been ordered (after touching at the Coast of Coromandel) to carry this letter to them at the Comoros. Order them to wait at those islands until the end of August for the James and Blessing, and then, if those ships have not arrived, to proceed to the coast of India and await them there [Page 145] in lat. 18° until October 10. The conjoined fleets are to make for Surat, keeping together and in readiness to encounter the enemy. The famine raging here renders it advisable that they should collect any rice or other grain they can get at the Comoros. For this purpose they may barter some of their goods, and they may also open one chest of the rials delivered to Captain Wills, using, however, strict economy in both directions. (Copy. pp.)

[Page 145]

7. PRESIDENT RASTELL AND COUNCIL AT SURAT TO THE AGENT AND COUNCIL AT BANTAM, APRIL 22, 1631 (Factory Records, Java, vol. iii. part ii. p. 535)

The last letter received from them was dated August 5, and was answered on November 12. The want of carts, owing to the mortality caused by the famine, delayed the dispeed of the fleet for Persia till January 7. From Gombroon the Discovery and Reformation were sent home on March 17; and the other three ships returned to this place on April 5. Even by that date the investments made at Ahmadabad and Cambay for Bantam, etc., had not fully come down to the port; 'and a greate blessing it was that wee procured its transport, though at five tymes the rates of former [Page 146] yeares, amounting not to less then 30 or 40 per centum (the verie charge of cartage) more then prime cost of the goods themselves; which we hope you will consider by its countervaile in sales, especially now that your corrivalls the Dutch have left the rule of this yeares marketts to your single dispose and government; but more principally the small quantities of like goods to be expected the yeare insueing, these parts of Guzerat above all other being bereaft of the greater part of weavers, washers, and dyers, who (such as are escaped the direfull stroake of famine) are disperst into forraigne parts of greater plentie, leaveing few or none of their facullty to putt either themselves or us into action; and God knowes many yeares must pass ere the ordinarie traffick of these parts be resettled againe into its wonted frame and condition.' The cargo now sent in the Blessing consists of 348 bales, the prime cost of which (without carriage) was 191,649 [mahmudis] 12¾. Had at first intended to dispatch both the James and the William to Bantam, thence to proceed to Johanna (in company with the Blessing) to meet the fleet from England and with them make Persia their first port; but, in consequence of advices received from Persia, this design has been abandoned. The James and Blessing will go to Bantam, but the William is to proceed to Armagon and thence to the Comoros to meet the new fleet. The latter is to await the other two vessels, first at those islands and secondly at a rendezvous on the coast of India, until October 10, and then come on to Surat. The distraction on the Coast has forced them to dispeed two factors on the William 'for remove of a late established upstart in those parts'; while Skibbow and Bangham are sent in these ships to apprehend George Willoughby and his abettors and bring them to Surat. While at Bantam, Skibbow is to have the control of all affairs; but on his departure William Hoare is to assume office as 'Agent for the Southerne factories (the Coast of Coromandell and West Sumatra excluded)'. Lawrence Henley is to be encouraged by increasing his salary to 100 marks per annum, if this will induce him to remain, as signified in their letter of December 3. Sill and Read are summoned to Surat to give evidence against Willoughby, bringing with them all relevant documents. To encourage the suppression of private trade, a passage from the Company's private instructions to Rastell is cited, [Page 147] indemnifying him or 'any other in place' in case of an action at law resulting from the seizure of such goods. Inquiry to be made into alleged private trade in the Falcon and Dove etc. If Pearce at Jambi has in his hands (as reported) a quantity of pepper belonging to Gregory Clement, this should be seized. They are urged to prevent the officers, etc., of the ships from 'gleaning up' spices; if this cannot be prevented, full information should be given, with a view to subsequent recovery either at Surat or at home.

[Page 156]

8. PRESIDENT RASTELL AND COUNCIL AT SURAT TO [THE AGENT AND FACTORS IN PERSIA], JUNE 10, 1631 (Factory Records, Surat, vol. lxxxiv. part iii. p. 3).

[Page 158]

Enclose a transcript of their former letter [see p. 156] sent by Capt. Wills; desire a punctual observance of the directions therein, particularly as to the reservation of the cloves for sale in India, these being now worth in Agra 360 rupees per maund of that place, 'being 55 li. haberdepoiz, a price that England will never equall.' Might have written sooner, but thought it well to defer doing so until the first rains, in the hope that the Company from these advices might receive some better encouragement than was contained in their last; 'the raines having already fallen in most parts of Guzeratt, and by all observacion and forerunninge signes, both of aire and weather, this winter is like to be seasonable; which provinge answerably will bringe us into accion againe in the procurement of callicoes, whereof Brodera and Baroch (with the helpe of a seire of corne delivered out to the weavers upon every peece bought) doe produce us about 200 peeces a daie, which the raines, wee hope, will augment; so as, with those quantities already purchased, wee will not doubt the atteyning of 500 bales in all factoryes towards this next yeares returnes; which with 800 bales of Cirquez indico and [Page 159] 800 and od churles of that of Agra now lately compleated, with the promised performance on your parts in 14 or 1500 bales silke, and 200 bales cotton yarne bought and turned over from the Old Joynct Stock, besides 7 or 800 bales of saltpeter for ballast, will not come much shorte of the William and Blessings ladinge for England.'

[Page 162]


Send copy of their last, dated August 14 [O.C. 1362]. Two days later the Blessing sailed to meet the fleet from England. The James arrived at Bantam on August 24, when Willoughby and others came on board and remained all night. Willoughby dealt secretly with Norbury, the master of the Falcon, to take him ashore in his boat, but this intention was not carried out.1 In the morning Willoughby was presented with the warrant from Surat, which he obeyed. Skibbow and Bangham went ashore, leaving him a prisoner aboard the James, as they feared he might stir up resistance if allowed to land. Hoare has accepted the post of Agent, and Henley has also agreed to remain. Disposal of the goods brought by the James. Proceedings at Bantam. Two ships expected from England. Employment of these and other vessels. 'You have been misinformed in the quantetie of suger to be provided in theise parts, for here is not that quantetie made to bee spent in this place and Battavia, namely 400 pecull a yeare; and that which is made verie badd, course, and black, and only in everie baskett they putt a little white suger in the topp and all the lower part is durt, etc. They will not bee diverted from their course upon any tearmes.' It will be necessary to send money from Surat to buy goods and pay charges here, say 25,000 to 30,000 rials of eight; for there is no likelihood of providing funds by the sale of goods. The Mataram is expected to attack Batavia next year. A Dutch fleet of nine sail2 left for Surat before the arrival of the James. Three days ago a ship from Holland, the Prins Hendrik, passed this place.3 She had been 5½ months coming out, and had lost 160 men. She brings news of a great famine in Holland, France, and Italy. Will bring what rice they can collect, but the quantity is not likely to be large. Arrangements for lading the James, which will, it is hoped, be ready to start by the 20th current. (Copy, pp.)

[Page 172]


By order of the President and Council of Surat they embarked in the Royal James and Blessing on April 27, and after a tedious passage arrived (in the former vessel) at Bantam on August 24. They were ordered by commission to apprehend Agent Willoughby and bring him to Surat to answer for 'some exorbytancies committed on the Coast of Choromandell'; and with him Messrs. Matthew, Grove, Barnes, Hall, Gardner, and Bearden. Further, they were instructed to carry to Surat Sill and Read, whom Willoughby had seized by violence at Armagon, 'planting there John Hunter of his owne faction, for whose remove the William was by the President, etc., sent to the Coast (comming allsoe from Surat in our company); in whome they sent John Norris and Thomas Robinson, with commission to send John Hunter and Osmond Smith, corporall in the fort, to Suratt, to answere to such demands as they had to proponde unto them.' In accordance with instructions, have established William Hoare as Agent in place [Page 173] of Willoughby, with Messrs. Vernworthy, Henley, and Croft as Council. Factors much needed. Hoare does not intend to stay long, and Henley is 'decrepite in his hands and feete', but will 'doe his endevour' till assistance arrives; while in the subordinate factories some are dead and others crave to be gone. The President and Council of Surat, hearing from Persia that it would be undesirable for the fleet expected from England to make Gombroon their first port, dispatched a pinnace to Madagascar and the Comoros, to warn them to wait for the William, James, and Blessing, and then to proceed to Surat. On learning from letters received from Bantam that the fleet would consist only of two ships and a pinnace, which, even with the addition of the William, would not be strong enough to encounter the Portuguese, it was decided to send the Blessing to join them without further loss of time, while the James took on her cargo to Bantam. The former sailed accordingly on August 16, leaving the latter about eight leagues north of 'Ballambeen pointe' [see p. 148] . . . . . . . Doubt not that the Company have heard from Surat of the great famine in those parts and throughout India, 'insoemuch that all trade is decayed, most of the weavers and washers being dead,' and should there be no rain this last westerly monsoon the whole country will be desolated . . . . . . Skibbow intends, on his return to Surat, to take the first opportunity of going home. (3½pp. The remaining three pages deal with affairs at Bantam, etc.)

[Page 174]


[Page 175]

Note the contents of the Company's letter to Surat (now returned), and will duly respect the powers therein conferred on Rastell and his Council. Have surrendered to Skibbow, as desired, the royal commission to this Presidency. Have laden in the James all the sugar, rice, etc., that they could get; but the President and Council are mistaken in thinking that large quantities of sugar are available here. This place affords very little and that of poor quality; nor would the store heere made suffice Battavia aloane, were it ten tymes multiplied.' Rice will be got from Macassar and Japara. . . . 'Richondas Hass1, a Bannyan, and his consort Hirgee wee have dismissed the Companies service and retourned them both upon this shipp, for reasons expressed in our formers; desireing that neyther any more of their cast nor any others with goods to sell may be permitted to take passage hither upon our shipps, in regard wee find them very prejudiciall to the Companies business.' . . . . On October 1 the barge of the London brought news of the approach of that ship and the Palsgrave; also letters from the Company, copies of which are enclosed. The Agent and Council are much grieved to find that no money has been sent in these vessels, and earnestly entreat a supply from Surat.

[Page 176]


Little has occurred since he wrote from Persia. The Portuguese gave them no further trouble at Surat. The ships left that port very late, through the delay in bringing down goods caused by the scarcity of carts and camels owing to the famine; and consequently the voyage was a very long and tedious one. In unlading the goods at Bantam, he found great store of private trade (over 200 bales, according to the purser), but whose they were he does not know. He is certain that Rastell was not aware of this, as he 'tacketh a stricter cours then any that ever I knew in the depressinge of privatt trayd'. On reaching Surat the writer will cause the purser to deliver the bales by inventory to the President, who will thus be enabled to give the Company full information. The ship is tight and well-conditioned, and there has been but little mortality among the men. The distraction among the factors is out of the writer's element. Forbears to enlarge, as he hopes to be home soon after this letter arrives. (1p)

[Page 177]


The fleet, consisting of the Mary, Exchange, and Speedwell, left the Downs on February 2, and passed the Canaries on the 20th. The next day they met Capt. Roe in a small ship belonging to 'Millbrooke',1 to whom a brief letter was entrusted. They crossed the line on March 22, and passed 'Cape Boone Esperance' on May 12. On May 30 they reached the Bay of St. Augustine, where they found the pinnace Intelligence with letters from Surat, requiring them to wait at Johanna until August 20 for the James, Blessing and William. Also found there 'a smale shipp named the Seahorse, of burthen about 100 tuns, belonginge to our Kings Majestie and ymediately sett out by him (one Capt. Richard Quaile comaunder), as by comission under His Majesties hand and seale appeareth, with instruccions alsoe annexed thereunto to goe for the Redd Sea and there to make purchase [prize] (as well as anywhere elce) of any he could meete with that were not frends or allyes unto His Majestie. Haveinge scene his comission and the force of it, and alsoe the examinacion of his people, whome wee deteyned as prisoners aboard our severall shipps, and findinge nothinge that he had done contrary to his comission, it was generally thought safest to release him and his people, after wee had deteyned them and theire shipp two daies. I hope what wee have done wilbe acceptable to Your Worshipps, although wee know his ymployment in theis parts and upon such designes cannot be pleaseinge, nor hath not bin to any of us.' Having refreshed their crews and refitted their ships, they sailed on June 21 and reached Johanna on July 1. Mr. Burley, master of the Intelligence, had informed them that, owing to the famine in India, the James and other ships had been forced to buy provisions in Persia at very dear rates; so they resolved to open a chest of rials and buy rice and other fresh victuals for the ships, in order to save their sea stores. In this way they expended 1,700 rials of eight. 'The rice wee had 100 lb. neate for one royall; gravances [see the 1618-21volume, p. 121] 175 lbs. for one royall; [Page 178] melio1 (another sort [of] graine) and paddy wee had likewise 175 lbs. for one royall.' On August 30 [sic] they heard of the arrival of the William at Mohilla, and received a letter from the President and Council of Surat, ordering them to wait for the James and Blessing until the end of August, and also directing them to come straight to Surat. Further, they were instructed to procure all the rice and other grain procurable, 'not only for our owne stores, but for the market in India.' In this they did their uttermost, but could not get much, as the advice came so late; however, the small quantity they have brought (which cost not above 400 rials), if sold at current prices, will defray the charge of all they purchased at the Comoros or in Madagascar. Having waited for the time appointed, the fleet sailed for India on September 1; and on October 6 met the Blessing on the coast of India. Owing to their late departure from Surat she and the James lost their monsoon, with the result that the former had to return before reaching the Straits of Sunda, while the latter is not likely to be able to get back to Surat this season. The result will be that the William and the Blessing will lack pepper to stow among their goods, to the hindrance and loss of the Company. On October 7 they met with nine Dutch ships from Batavia, with whom they kept company till they reached Swally, which was on the 14th. 'Here at our arrivall wee found the Presidentt in health, but all the merchants in this factory either dead or sicke, those liveinge hardly able to helpe one another; the towne itselfe and all the countrey adjoyneing in a manner unpeopled. Soe that the tymes here are soe miserable that never in the memory of man any the like famine and mortallity hapened. This that was in a manner the garden of the world is nowe turned into a wildernes, haveinge fewe or noe men left to manure theire grownd nor to labour in any profession; soe that places here that have yealded 15 bayles cloath made there in a day hardly yealds nowe three in a moneth. Amadavaz, that likewise yealded 3,000 bayles indico yearely or more, nowe hardly yealds 300; yett a plentifull yeare for yts grouth, but fewe men liveinge to gather it, but lies rottinge on the grownd. Agra hath [Page 179] not bin toucht with this famine nor mortallity, but continewes in its former estate; but that place affords little to satisfie soe maney buyers, espetially the Dutch and English towards the ladinge of our shipps; and whatt we shall doe to gaine our ladinge against the next yeare God Almightie only knowes, for wee knowe not. And yours and our unhappines is the more for the losse of Mr. Rastell, our late Presidents whoe deceased the 7th November last, and left not a man behind him in this factory Suratt able to manadge your affaires in theis miserable and distracted tymes. Mr. Hopkinson is left only that knowes your busines, but is soe sicke and weake that he is not able to performe whatt he should endeavour. Those that live in the subordinate factoris have likewise bin sicke, but at present wee heare are well recovered, vizt. Mr. Mountney at Amadavaz, Mr. Rann at Cambay, Mr. Joyce at Broatch, Mr. Witch at Brawdro [Baroda].' The dispatch of their caravan for Ahmadabad (carrying all last year's quicksilver and other goods, with some of the chests of rials lately arrived) was delayed by the sickness and death of the President, and still more by the perfidious dealing of the Governor of Surat. The result will be that the goods from Ahmadabad, etc., cannot be at Surat till at least the middle of January ; so that the fleet will probably be forced to start for Persia without waiting for them, as otherwise they may miss their monsoon for Bantam, like the James and Blessing. This letter is sent by the Dutch, who are now under sail for Gombroon, whence two of their ships will return to Holland. The factors have a quantity of goods (indigo, cotton yarn, and saltpetre) ready for shipment for England, but the Governor delays their passage through the customhouse, his purpose being apparently to prevent the ships from starting without some Persian friends of his, whose goods have not yet come down, and also to have their protection for some junks which are likewise bound for Persia. The William and Blessing are both intended for England and probably one of them will be dispatched direct from Persia, if the goods here can be got on board. About half the indigo and saltpetre has been embarked, and they hope to receive the rest shortly; they will then immediately set sail. 'Your busines in our oppinions would have gone better forward had wee not bin diverted from your first injuncions for Persia.' The goods consigned to Surat are all landed, but are come to a most miserable market, [Page 180] especially the quicksilver and vermilion; the price of both at present is not above three mahmudis a seer, in regard of the great quantities brought by this Dutch fleet. That sent last year was still undelivered when the fleet arrived, and payment (at 140 mahmudis per maund) was not due till four months after delivery in Ahmadabad. Last year's coral is also lying in the factory, but whether sold or not the writers are uncertain. The James, William, and Blessing sailed on April 27, and got off the coast with much difficulty. The William left the other two on May 14 and proceeded to Armagon, where she arrived nine days later. Captain Wills was ordered to bring away John Hunter (made Chief there by Willoughby) and Osmond Smith, the Lieutenant of the Fort. In their places John Norris was left Chief, with Thomas Robinson for assistant, and Robert Adams as Lieutenant. The William sailed again on June 4, rounded Madagascar on August 5th, reached Mohilla on the 13th and came to Johanna on the 20th. The Hopewell arrived at Armagon about June 25, and will remain there until the middle of the present month. 'Att our arrivall here at Port Swalley wee understood by the Presidentt of Capt. Quayls arrivall some 20 dayes before us, and of his then beinge in the River of Surratt. Wee likewise understood that he had taken two Mallabarrs juncks on the coast of Arrabia, out of which he gott some smale quantity of offim [opium] and some other pillage of smale value. Since his arrivall here he hath had great mortallity amonge his people, insoemuch that of 50 men brought out of England he hath lost 27; the remainer for the most parte very sicke and weake. God send all noe better successe that come out on such designes.' (Copy. 5 pp.)

[Page 180]


'After our departure from Batavia wee arived att Suratt the 23th [13th O. S.] October last. And goinge ashore to a villadg called Swalley, wee sawe there manie people that perished of hunger; and wheras hertofore there were in that towne 260 famillyes, ther was not remaininge alive above 10 or 11 famillyes. And as wee travelled from thence to the cytty of Suratt, manie dead bodyes [Page 181] laye uppon the hye way; and where they dyed they must consume of themselfes, beinge nobody that would buirey them. And when wee came into the cytty of Suratt, wee hardly could see anie livinge persons, where hertofore was thousands; and ther is so great a stanch of dead persons that the sound people that came into the towne were with the smell infected, and att the corners of the streets the dead laye 20 togeather, one upon thother, nobody buir[y]ing them. The mortallyty in this towne is and hath bin so great that there have dyed above 30,000 people. The Englishe house and ours is as yf one came into the hospitall of Bata[via]. Ther is dead of the Englishe factors 10 or 11 persons, and of ours 3. Those that remaine alive of the Englishe are verey sorowfull for the death of Mr. Rastall, their President, who dyed about 20 dayes sythence. In these parts ther may not bee anie trade expected this three yeares. No man can goe in the streets but must resolve to give great almes or be in danger of being murthered, for the poore people cry with a loude voice: "Give us sustenance or kill us." The faire feilds herabout are all drowned with great fluds and the fruits of the earth cleane washed away with these waters. The waters were so highe in the cytty, by reason of the fludds, that wee could passe from one house to the other butt by boats; which was never knowne in the memory of anie livinge man. The Englishe shippes and ours arived here togeather. And upon the admirall of the Englishe came a great lord, being the brother-in-law of Buckingham, called the Earle of Denbigh. Ytt is conceaved that hee cometh ambassador to the Mogoll; which the tyme will shew. Her is also arived a small shipp called by the name of the Kinge of England shipp, with a strong comission; the principall comaunder therof is called Captaine Quaile, and his leyftennant Mr. Robertson [Robinson]. This captaine hath bin in the Redd Sea att Mocha, and from thence hath brought no small store of ducketts; butt the certainty herof I cannot learne. The Kings comission given hime is to saile round about the world and to give the Kinge accompt therof. Hee caryes out the Kings flagg, in despyte of the Englishe that lye in the Roade, and they maye not putt out anie other flagg then the whyte flagg with the redd crosse.1 Ther is great opposi [Page 182] cions betweene them, which seemeth strange to us. The Kings captaine came with his comission to our Governor and desired helpe and water from us in spyte of his owne nation, for his company is verey sickly.' (3pp.)

[Page 182]


Sailed for Surat on October 7, but found it impossible to proceed, the monsoon being settled, and therefore returned to this place on November 6. Captain Morton, immediately after leaving Bantam, fell sick 'of the barbiers',2 and died on November 21. Disposal of his private trade goods. Pepper and cloves borrowed and bought by the James from the Joint Stock. Willoughby and Barnes applied to be sent home in the Palsgrave but this was refused as against the orders from Surat. Private trade aboard the James. Changes among ships' officers; John White placed in charge of the James. The Palsgrave about to sail for England. The James will proceed to Mauritius, to recover her sick men, and in the hope that she will there receive directions from Surat for meeting the next fleet. If the William or Blessing (or both) be met there, arrangements may be made for two out of the three to be dispatched to England with the combined cargoes. This failing, the James will remain at Mauritius till June and then go to St. Augustine's Bay or Johanna to meet the fleet from England. The Dutch are sending home five ships from Batavia this year, besides about three more from Surat. 'Itt seemes all goes nott well betwixt England and them, for they have order not to send their shippes through the Channell, butt to goe aboute the back side of Ireland and [Page 183] Scotland.' A supply of factors much needed. No news received from Surat. 'From the Coast of Corromandell, by letters in Julye, they advise that it had nott rayned there, and the dearthe and famine continued and likely to encrease. Wee hope God hathe been mercifull in releeving the northerne partes.' Concerning the Hopewell they have only`heard of her arrival at Armagon. (4pp. Received July 1, 1632.)

[Page 183]


With much trouble they have procured and shipped on the Hopewell 269 bales of goods, which, though not answerable to expectations, are the best the time would afford. If the Company were aware of the losses they sustain by these posting voyages', they would apply the remedy so often pointed out, viz. 'meanes aforehand for tymely investments'. The invoice will show how all sorts of the 'cargazoone' demanded have been reduced; this is due to the 'miserable tymes, full fraught with the calamitie of warr, pestilence, and famine'. About 40 bales more were purchased, but could not be brought down to the coast, and must therefore remain until next year. When writing last (on September 8, by a Danish vessel) they anticipated that the Hopewell would leave here by the end of October; and this they would undoubtedly have effected, had not the occasions aforesaid disabled all ('as well our commatees [komati, a merchant: see the 1622-23volume, p. 135] as washers') from keeping their engagements. Hope, however, that the ship will receive a quick dispatch from Bantam and thereby be enabled still to get to Macassar. 'Hir voyage to Bengala (by reason of foule weather not permitting to land hir goods) fayled of its expected successe; yet proved not altogether frutelesse, having thereby laid a good begining to a future hopefull trade, when wee shalbee thereto inabled.' For next season they have contracted in Petapoli for about 70 bales of goods, to be delivered in six months, at rates nearly six per cent. cheaper than those recently [Page 184] paid; which shows what could be done if they had means beforehand, 'till when the goodnesse of these partes cannot bee truly discerned, nor you supplied as is necessary'. The letter from Surat will show the miserable state of that country, which cannot possibly be restored to its pristine condition for many years. This may induce the Bantam factors to raise the price of their [Indian] commodities, especially as the Dutch are like to fail of their supplies hence this year, none of their ships being yet arrived. The same letter will show what directions have been given from Surat for the conduct of business here. 'The Gennerall of the Danes hath provided in Maslipatan another cargazone for Maccasser, intending in a flute1 to accompanie itt thither; but the report goeth shee is unservisable, which if true, hee must attend with patience untill the next yeare, and spend the interim in repairing of his two rotten vessells. It is marvelous to see what great benefitt that trade hath produced unto him; and would bee worth our partaking, had wee but meanes accordinglie; for cloves are here the sole commoditie in request, and (if well bought att Maccasser) will yeild cent. per cent. profitt. Sandallwood and turtleshells will also offe at good rates; our Europian commodities being at present a drugg. At the instant request of the Danes Gennerall, wee have given lycence to two of his cheefe people2 to take theire passage for Bantam on the Hopewell. They intend for England on some of our shipps; which, as you see occasion, maie bee permitted them. They are men of quallitie, and their master, the King of Denmarke, will doubtlesse gratifie the Company in as great a measure as that courtesie can desearve.' At the request of the Governor of Pulicat, they have also allowed an Englishman (a freeman of the Dutch) to take passage for Batavia. Could not supply the 40 pieces of fine 'beetelias' asked for, owing to the wars, 'which have shutt upp the passage from Golcondah, so as nought can bee transported from thence'; have, however, procured here 21 pieces of better quality than usual, and these are now sent. Forward their last year's accounts for transmission to Surat. The cape merchant of this ship, Mr. John Reeve, has been furnished, in obedience to the Company's orders, with copies of all transactions on the Coast since [Page 185] the arrival of the Hopewell. Their brevity is due to want of time. (Copy. 3pp. Received at Bantam January 26, 1632, and in London September 4, 1632.)

[Page 192]

17. PRESIDENT HOPKINSON AT SURAT TO THE COMPANY, JANUARY 23, 16321 (Abstract only, made in London. Factory Records, Miscellaneous, vol. i. p. 137).

The Hopewell reached Armagon on June 25, and the Company's letters to Surat were duly received from her overland. Money sent to Sumatra in the Speedwell, 'without which no trading there.' Indian goods provided for [Page 193] Bantam before the arrival of the fleet; amongst them 1,000 corge of calicoes, which were not half 'bleaked' [bleached] and could not be finished for want of workmen. Money lost through the recipients having died or run away. 'The countrie in a miserable estate through famyne and mortalitie. Inundacion of waters admirable. A mortalitie unspeakeable. Swally and the places neere adjoyning wholly dispeopled. No carriadge for our goods; 2¾ rup[ees] per small maund betwin Amadavas and Surratt. Our owne marriners imployed at Surratt instead of porters. A great mortalitie in our howse. Wee recalld all our people to Surratt from all our other factories.' Mountney's time being up, he would have returned, but could not be spared. No workmen left, 'insomuch that one half for reaping and making the crop of Cirques [Sarkhej] indico was offred for that labour.' The only indigo they can hope to obtain is that of Agra. The Intelligence dispatched to Bantam to advise that the James be sent home direct from that port; then the pinnace was to proceed to meet the fleet from England, with directions to make Persia their first port. Advantages of this course, notwithstanding the objections alleged by the Persia factors. Ships to be sent to the Coast of Coromandel, to seek a freight there for Persia. The Speedwell has been ordered to return to Surat; she is not fit to be laden home, but will be employed out here. 'We purpose by hir to attempt trade in Syndy. A hopefull trade upon the coast of Bengala; some discourse of the same.' Intend to send the William and Blessing home together. It is hoped that 1,400 or 1,500 bales of silk will be ready for them in Persia. 'George Willoughbies rex 1 and pranckes (as he calleth them).' Hunter commended. Skibbow sent to Bantam about Willoughby's business. The James and Blessing did not sail till April 27, and so lost their monsoon for Bantam. 'This countrie beginneth nowe to be repeopled. Great discommendacions of the Magull himself and the wicked Governour of Surratt, who hath by a bribe of 10,000 li., procured a longer contynuance of his goverment in Surratt. Your great debt here groweth greater daily; the damage whereof by increasing is more [then] the gaines of the comodityes bought therewith. . . . We have bin constreined to paie Virgee Vora 8,000 li.; [Page 194] he is creditor yet 12,000 li.. If you send not mony in your next ship to paie your debt, you maie shutt up your shopp dores.' Quicksilver sold at Ahmadabad for 4s.. 8d. per lb.; no more to be sent for two years. To pay Virji Vora they were forced to land 26 chests of money at Surat, sending only 14 to Persia; but the factors there have been instructed to supply their needs from the proceeds of the Surat goods (to the value of 3,500l.) sent thither. Ships to be laden for England. Complaints of the coarseness and bad condition of the broadcloth. Two or three pieces wanted of the finest scarlet procurable. Knives missing. 'The Erle of Denbigh was lodged at Surratt in our howse, but had his own table, etc. We intended to accomodate him to the courte with the Companies and private mens horsses, but the wicked Governour would have our horsses himself. We accomodated the E. of Denbigh with servitors out of our ships.' The Governor wished to buy His Lordship's scarlet. A suit of Sir Francis Crane's tapestry was sold but returned. A suit of his unsold; also the tapestry belonging to Alderman Perry and Mr. Andrewes. John Willoughby discommended. Advise that no private individuals be allowed in future to send out tapestry. It is hoped that the debt due to Crane will be recovered, for though the debtor be dead, the son has 'land of inheritance, from which he is not removeable'. 'Thirteen of our people in Surratt named to be dead, besides divers others; all have bin sicke.' Barnaby and Allen sent to Sumatra; also Sherland and Fall to Persia. Will answer by the next ships the letters received by the Mary. (1½ pp.)

[Page 194]


'The great mortallity fallen amonge us this yeare, to the deprivinge us of so many of our friends, and the little time it is since some of us were able to crawle abroad or putt our hands to business,' must excuse the brevity of this letter. Have been forced to detain three of the chests of rials consigned to Persia, in order to stop the mouths and clamours of the creditors of the Old Stock. Wylde had not arrived in England when this fleet started; and the Company, being ignorant of the extent of the debt, has sent [Page 195] no means for its extinction.

This is a selection from the original text


dearth, goods, market, merchant, rain, ship, sugar, trade

Source text

Title: The English Factories in India, Volume 4: 1630-1633

Subtitle: A Calendar of Documents in the India Office, Bombay Record Office, Etc.

Editor(s): William Foster

Publisher: The Clarendon Press

Publication date: 1910

Original date(s) covered: 1630-1633

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: Oxford

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive: Original date(s) covered: 1630-1633

Digital edition

Original editor(s): William Foster

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 57
  • 2 ) pages 59 to 61
  • 3 ) page 73
  • 4 ) page 97
  • 5 ) pages 117 to 119
  • 6 ) page 120
  • 7 ) pages 125 to 127
  • 8 ) pages 144 to 145
  • 9 ) pages 145 to 147
  • 10 ) pages 158 to 159
  • 11 ) page 162
  • 12 ) pages 172 to 173
  • 13 ) page 175
  • 14 ) pages 176
  • 15 ) pages 177 to 180
  • 16 ) pages 180 to 182
  • 17 ) pages 182 to 183
  • 18 ) pages 183 to 185
  • 19 ) pages 192 to 194
  • 20 ) pages 194


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > official correspondence > india office records

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.