Fort William-India House Correspondence, Vol-X: 1786-1788

About this text

Introductory notes

The Fort William-India House Correspondences was published under the Indian Records Series, by the National Archives of India, at the recommendation of the Indian Historical Records Commission. Indian Historical Records Commission instituted in 1919 as an advisory body on preservation and publication of historical documents, envisaged the publication of correspondence between the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London and the Fort William Council in Calcutta. Noted scholars attached with Universities and academic institutions were invited to edit each of the volumes under the General Editorship of the Director of the National Archives of India.

The tenth volume of the Fort-William India House Correspondences was published in 1959 by the National Archives of India. Raghubir Sinh was the editor of this particular volume. Raghubir Sinh, a prince of the Sitamau State in Malwa, was known for the historical work on Malwa, "Malwa in Transition Or a Century of Anarchy: The First Phase, 1698-1765". Raghubir Sinh also served as the corresponding member of the Indian Historical Records Commission twice. Volume-X of the Fort William-India House Correspondences covered the letters to and from the Court of Directors in London by the Public Department, between 1786 to 1788.

Selection details

The tenth volume of the Fort-William India House Correspondences was published in 1959 by the National Archives of India. Raghubir Sinh was the editor of this particular volume. Raghubir Sinh, a prince of the Sitamau State in Malwa, was known for the historical work on Malwa, "Malwa in Transition Or a Century of Anarchy: The First Phase, 1698-1765". Raghubir Sinh also served as the corresponding member of the Indian Historical Records Commission twice. Volume-X of the Fort William-India House Correspondences covered the letters to and from the Court of Directors in London by the Public Department, between 1786 to 1788.

VOL.X: 1786-1788

[Page 253]


[Page 259]

39. (50 & 53) We have received great pleasure from the perusal of Lieutenant Colonel Kydd's Letter referred to in these Paragraphs proposing the Establishment of a Botanical Garden and give our most hearty Approbation to the Institution, as the Charges thereof are Estimated at not more than 200 Rupees per month. The experiment respecting the Cinnamon Tree in particular must be made in different parts and Soils of those extensive provinces in order to ascertain with certainty whether this Spice can be produced in Bengal equal to that which grows on the Island of Ceylon.—We have likewise perused a former Letter from Lieutenant Colonel Kydd of the 13th [15th] April 1786, relative to the Sago Tree, and its efficacy and importance in cases of Famine and Pestilence. We hope you will give this Subject all the consideration it may appear to merit. You must keep us constantly advised of the progress that may be made in the Botanical Garden and continue to send us drawings of such of its productions as you may deem worthy of our attention. We are aware that by extending your experiments too far the expence may increase to an amount of which you may not at present have any Idea.—The establishment therefore must be confined in the manner pointed out by Colonel Kydd as mentioned in the last Paragraph but one of his Letter of the 1st June last.

[Page 396]


6. Having received a letter from the President and Council of Fort St. George stating that their Garrison stock of Grain was much reduced and desiring, as it might not easily be in their power to complete their Store, that we would send them as early as possible, a supply of Thirty to Forty thousand Bags of Rice; [Page 397] We resolved to comply with their request; and in consequence of the recommendation from the Governor Mr. Davidson; written at the desire of his Council in favour of Mr. Hugh Boyd, and in full confidence of the ability of this Gentlemen to furnish this supply, under the responsibility he owes to the Presidency of Fort St. George; we accepted his offer of providing it by Agency; and accordingly issued advances sufficient to enable him to purchase, and defray the charges attending the transportation of Thirty thousand bags, referring him to the Presidency under which he acts for such allowance for Agency, or Commission, as the President & Council shall consider him entitled to.

[Page 555]


[Page 560]

3.1. Miscellaneous Occurrences

[Page 561]

57. The late Inundation having affected some parts of the Country more than others we have Authorised the suspension of the Duties on Grain for the Period of six Months to encourage the Transportation to such places as have suffered most.

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[Page 569]

37. We acquainted you in our Advances from the Revenue Department Pr. Thetis that we had authorized a general Suspension of the Duties on Grain for six Months, in order to encourage the Transportation of it to such places as have suffered most by Inundation We afterwards Imposed an Embargo on the Exportation of this Article with an exception of the rice to be dispatched to the Presidency of Fort St. George to complete Mr. Tyler's Contract for the Delivery of two Lacks of Bags. This measure was stated by Mr. Tyler [Page 570] as operating to his disadvantage, and, as his Engagements with the Merchants of the Country would, if taken off his hands by the Company throw in a considerable Supply tor the immediate Relief of the inhabitants, we have agreed to this Measure, taking the Rice at the actual Cost settled in his Contracts with the Proprietors, and we have appointed a Committee to make the Adjustment with him accordingly. We have acquainted the President in Council at Fort St. George, that if the want of rice there should make a supply from Bengal indispensably necessary, we will, on his representation, provide any Quantity that our own necessities will admit after the operation which we trust will be successful of the Measures we have taken to alleviate the Distress of this Country. Copies of Mr. Tyler's Letters and of our Resolutions on them are transmitted in the Packet.

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18. The great distress in the lower districts of the Country rendered it necessary to lay an embargo on the exportation of all kinds of grain and means were likewise taken to draw supplies to Dacca where the sufferings of the poor inhabitants were the greatest from Bahar and Benares, where the crops had been abundant.

19. It was at first intended not to interrupt the supply which had been engaged to be furnished by contract to Madras: but hearing that there had been a plentiful crop in the Carnatic and the scarcity increasing to an alarming degree in some of the provinces of Bengal, it was thought expedient to comply with the Contractors request that the Contract should be annulled. We agreed therefore that the Rice which had been delivered by him at Madras should be paid for according to the terms of the Contract, and he consented on his part that the rice in his possession in Bengal should be delivered over to the public at the price which it had actually cost him. Under those conditions the Company has relieved him from all his engagements for freight, which however will be partly repaid by the reasonable profit which will be obtained on the sale of the rice that he had then upon hand.

20. I was induced to make part of the necessary remittances to Fort St. George in the article of rice, by the comparative advantages [Page 575] that offered for accomplishing it by Contract instead of Agency, which had been a frequent mode at this Presidency. The rice which was provided by Agency when I arrived in this Country cost the Company 3a; Rs:5. 4. 09/29 per Bag exclusive of the Agent's commisson, risk of all kinds, and an exemption from duties at Fort St. George; and by contract it was obtained first at Rs: 4.12 and afterwards at Rs: 4.10 per Bag, the Contractor paying the Madras duties, and delivering it there upon the beach entirely at his own risk and hazard. Advantageous however as those terms appear to be, this mode of remittance has proved more expensive to the public than the less complicated means of common Bills of Exchange. And therefore unless some new circumstances should arise to render the measure necessary or more economical, it is not my intention to engage the public in sending any more rice to Madras.

21. The great deficiency in quantity of the last year's Salt which was occasioned by a most unfavorable season induced some rich dealers in that article to endeavor for a short time to extort an exorbitant price in retailing the Stock in their possession; But to protect the public against that species of oppression, I thought it right to bring forward earlier than usual the sales of the Salt of this year's Manufacture, and it has now fallen again to a moderate rate.

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[Page 595]

7. We think it necessary to inform you, that the Directors of the General Bank, upon a full consideration of their own interests thought it their duty to propose that it's connexion with Government, upon the present terms, should be dissolved, and the flourishing state of the public Credit, rendering it unnecessary for us to grant terms more advantageous than those that were originally settled, we made no difficulty in agreeing to their proposition; But as great inconvienience would have resulted from the payments of the loan precisely at the periods at which the different promissory Notes became due, we requested that they might continue with the Bank, until the Certificates granted as Collateral security for them, should fall in course of payment, and to compensate to the Bank for the delay, we agreed to allow an Interest of twelve P. Cent Pr. Annum which is the legal interest of the Country on the respective Sums that may not be paid when they fall due, until it comes to the turn of the Certificates to be discharged. The receipt of Bank notes at your Treasuries, the payment of your Registered Certificates thro' the medium of the Bank, in short, every transaction with it will cease as soon as the whole of the original loan shall be paid off or such part of it as remains liquidated, shall commence to bear the Interest we have stated at 12 P Ct. Pr. Annum.

8. Our supplies to the Bombay Presidency have amounted in the last three months to 24,57,289. Ct. Rs. and as the whole surplus of the Benares and Bahar Revenues, after the discharge of the current claims, is to be appropriated in future, to the Service of Bombay, we trust that from time to time we shall find no difficulty in supplying the further necessities of that Presidency.

9. We have the pleasure to inform you that the distresses which have been suffered by the Scarcity of Grain, in different parts of the Country, and particularly at Dacca, have been of late much relieved, and we hope that in the course of a few months the favorable appearance of the new Crop, will justify us in taking off the Embargo on the exportation. The effect of the various Calamities [sic] of the Season to seen [sic] your Revenues has been much less than We apprehended it would be.

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[Page 619]

37. At it's commencement there were great obstacles to contend with from these causes already touched on, decay and alienation of the Aurungs, competition of other Dealers, the indisposition of the Manufacturers and the demand of encreased Rates. All these circumstances some of which had their origin from the former System, tended to oppose the success of this, and the Establishment of the new, strict and detailed method of transacting business, laid down in the general Instructions to the Agents, of March 1787, instead of the former general, loose method has proved no easy task, but the severest opposition of all has been found in two successive Years of calamity, in the first of which Inundations and Tempest, and Drought in the second, by distroying or preventing the fruits of the Earth, have occasioned a general dearth, and most affecting distress and mortality among the people.

38. Not half the usual quantity of Silk has been procurable either in the last or present Year, and the encrease of price unavoidably great. The Cotton Crops have also every where failed; Grain, not always to be had in every place, has been three times it's usual price, the labour of the Manufacturers at the usual rates could not support them, which necessarily must have forced them to apply too great a proportion of their Advances for the subsistence of their families, giving in consequence Cloths of inferior value, and tho' the cares of Government to Administer relief have not been remitted, not a few of this class of people have perished. It was impossible but that providential dispensations so wide and fatal in their consequence, should have retarded and obscured the effects of the Agency System; Instead of the full display which might in a happier time have been expected, of improved qualities and cheaper Provision, the realization of a moderate Investment at a moderate price without great loss by balances was the necessary, immediate object substituted. Nevertheless, I have good reason to believe that the most substantial parts of that System are already secured, and it's essential principles as set forth in the Instructions before mentioned, brought into practice. Besides the milder treatment which the Manufacturers have experienced at a time when they stood in the greatest want of it, the real Cost of the Goods and all the detail of the Charges of Provision have been and continue to be minutely and satisfactorily exhibited, the qualities of the most valuable fabrics begin to improve, there is a general spirit of attention and exertion, and as far as can be judged by a very close inspection, of fidelity also. I am in a word satisfied that there is now no Systematic or practised abuse in the Commercial Department. I do not even conceive there is a single Agent employed in it who ventures to state an Article beyond the terms actually advanced by him, I therefore regard that Department as clear and as now furnishing the Investment intelligently and attentively provided at it's genuine and fair cost without any charge upon it but what has been actually expended and necessary. Having obtained this poi[nt] I consider the merit and success of the Agency System by your own Servants as established.

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8.1. Behar

[Page 664]

327. The Collector of Midnapore having in the year 1786/7, stated that heavy losses had been sustained by the Zemindars from drought and inundation, the Board of Revenue relying upon the detailed representations of the Collector and with a view to relieve the destresses [sic] of the Inhabitants were induced to allow and recommend a remission of 61,000 Rs. in the Assessment of that District.

328. In the following year 1787/8 the Collector again stated that the Zamindars has [sic] suffered losses exceeding those of the former year, from the Storm which happened in the month of November last, and urg'd the necessity of affording them relief.

[Page 668]

8.2. Grain

350. In the 39th, 40th & 41st Paragraphs of our Letter of the 12th February Pr. Atlas we acquainted you with the measures we had taken to alliviate the distresses under which the Inhabitants in several parts of the Country laboured from the scarcity of Grain occasioned by the destruction of the Crops by inundation.

351. The evil appears not to have been felt in any considerable degree beyond the lower parts of Bengal, which from their Situation were particularly exposed to the effects of the Inundation. The Inhabitants of the Dacca District have been the principal sufferers. Our exertions to relieve their distresses as well as those of the Inhabitants of Calcutta, and the Country adjacent will appear from our Proceedings noted in the Margin.

352. It is with the greatest satisfaction however we acquaint you that the present Season has in general been remarkably favourable the crops, with some few exceptions, are in a flourishing state, and afford the most flattering prospect of returning plenty. The destress at present extends to a very fine [[few?]] and principally to those, who have been tempted by the Charitable Distributions of Rice to repare to Calcutta.

This is a selection from the original text


crops, distress, drought, grain, inundation, rice, scarcity

Source text

Title: Fort William-India House Correspondence and other Contemporary Papers Relating Thereto

Subtitle: Vol X: 1786-1788

Editor(s): Raghubir Sinh

Publisher: The National Archives of India

Publication date: 1959

Original date(s) covered: 1786-1788

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: Delhi

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from print at the National Archives of India. Original date(s) covered: 1786-1788

Digital edition

Original editor(s): Raghubir Sinh

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 259
  • 2 ) pages 396 to 397
  • 3 ) pages 560 to 561
  • 4 ) pages 560 to 561
  • 5 ) pages 569 to 570
  • 6 ) pages 574 to 575
  • 7 ) page 595
  • 8 ) page 619
  • 9 ) page 664
  • 10 ) page 668


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Genre: India > official correspondence > india office records

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