About this text

Introductory notes

Published by Red Lion in 1739,A New Account of the East Indies, written by Captain Alexander Hamilton, is a travelogue of the Scottish sailor’s journey in the Indian sub continent. The main source of information about Alexander Hamilton is from A New Account of the East Indies. He was engaged in the service of the East India Company before becoming a private trader. After that, Hamilton would be appointed as the Bombay Marine commander. Selections have been made from Volume 1 and Volume 2 of A New Account of the East Indies. There is a lot of descriptive detail about the various parts of India and the various ways of living that Hamilton got to witness first hand from the court to the crowd. Primary Reading Hamilton, Alexander, Captain, A New Account of the East-Indies, Volume 2,Red Lion Suggested Reading Cope,Captain, A New History of the East- Indies,archive.org

A NEW ACCOUNT OF THE EAST-INDIES: BEING THE OBSERVATIONS AND REMARKS OF Capt. ALEXANDER HAMILTON, From the Year 1688, to 1723. Trading and Land, to most of the Countries of COMMERCE and NAVIGATION, between the Cape of Good- Hope, and the Island of Japan.


[Page 1]

1. C H A P. XXXIII. Treats of the Towns, Cities, Country and Customs of Bengal, particularly on those near the famous Ganges, With Some historical Accounts anci ent and modern of Fort William.

PIPLY lies on the banks of a River, supposed to be a branch of the Ganges, about 5 Leagues from that of Ballasore; former ly it was a Place of Trade, and was honoured with English and Dutch Facto ries. The Country produces the same Com [Page 2] modities that Ballasore does; at present it is reduced to Beggary by the Factory's removal to Hughly and Calcutta, the Merchants being all gone. It is now inhabited by Fishers, as are also Ingellie, and Kidgerie, two neighbouring Islands on the West Side of the Mouth of die Ganges. These lslands abound also in tame Swine, where they are sold very cheap, for I have bought One and Twenty good Hogs, be tween 50 and 80 Pound Weight each, for 17 Rupees, or 45 Shillings Sterling. Those Islands send forth dangerous Sand Banks, that are both numerous and large, and make the Navigation out and in to Hughly River, both troublesome and dangerous, and after we pass those Islands, in going up the River, the Channel for Shipping is on the East-side, and several Creeks run from the Channel among a great Number of Islands, formed by diffe rent Channels of Ganges, two of which are more remarkable than the rest, viz. Coxes and Sagor Islands, where great Ships were obliged to anchor to take in Part of their Cargoes, be cause several Places in the River and too thal low for great Ships to pass over, when their whole Cargoes are aboard.

There are no Inhabitants on those Islands, for they are so pestered with Tigers, that there could be no Security for human Crea tures to dwell on them; nay, it is even dangerous to land on them, or for Boats to anchor near them, for in the Night they have [Page 3] swimmed to Boats at Anchor, and carried Men out of them; yet among the Pagans, the Island Sagor is accounted holy, and great Numbers of Jougies go yearly thither in the Months of November and December, to wor ship and wash in Salt-Water, tho' many of them fall Sacrifices to the hungry Tigers.

[Page 4]

Along the River of Hughly there are ma ny small Villages and Farms, intersperst in those large Plains, but the first of any Note on the River's Side, is Culculla, a Market Town for Corn, coarse Cloth, Butter, and Oil, with other Productions of the Country; above it is the Dutch Bankshall, a Place where their Ships ride when they cannot get farther up for the too swift Currents of the River. Culculla has a large deep River that runs to the Eastward, and so has juanpardoa, and on the West Side there is a River that runs by the back of Hughly Island, which leads up to Radnagur, famous for manufacturing Cotton Cloth, and Silk Romaals, or Handkerchiefs. Bussundri and Tresinddi, or Gorgat and Cot trong, are on that River, which produce the greatest quantities of the best Sugars in Bengal.

A little higher up on the East Side of Hugh ly River, is Ponjelly, a Village where a Corn Mart is kept once or twice in a Week, it ex ports more Rice than any Place on this River; and five Leagues farther up on the other Side, is Tanna Fort, built to protect the Trade of the River, at a Place convenient enough, where it is not above Half a Mile from Shore ta Shore, but it never was of much Use; for in Anno 1686, when the English Company quarrelled with the Mogul, the Company had several great Ships at Hughly, and this Fort was manned in order to hinder their Passage [Page 5] down the River. One 60 Gun Ship ap proaching pretty near the Fort, saluted it with a Broad-side, which so frightned the Governor and his Myrmidons, that they all deserted their Post, and left their Castle to be plundred by the English Seamen. About a League farther up on the other Side of the River, is Governapore, where there is a little Pyramid built for a Land-mark, to confine the Company's Colony of Calcutta, or Fort William. On that Side, and about a League farther up, stands Fort William.

[Page 9]

The Company has a pretty good Hospital at Calcutta, where many go in to undergo the Penance of Physic, but few come out give an Account of its Operation. The Company has also a pretty good Garden, that furnishes the [Page 10] Governor's Table with Herbage and Fruits ; and some Fish-ponds to serve his Kitchen with good Carp, Calkops ,and Mullet.

Most of the Inhabitants of Calcutta that make any tolerable Figure, have the same Ad vantages; and all Sorts of Provisions, both wild and tame, being plentiful, good and cheap, as well as Clothing, make the Country very a greeable

[Page 12]

The Colony has very little Manufactory of its own, for the Government being pretty arbitrary, discourages Ingenuity and Industry in the Populace; for by the Weight of the Company's Authority, if a Native chances to dis oblige one of the Upper-house, he is liable to arbitrary Punishment, either by Fine, Impri sonment or corporal Sufferings. I will give one Instance, out of many, that I knew, of the lnjustice of a Governor of the double headed Government in Anno 1706.

[Page 17]

2. C H A P. XXXIV. Is a Continuation of the Description of BENGAL.

BARNAGUL is the next Village on the River's Side, above Calcutta, where the Dutch have an House and Garden ; and the Town is famoulsy infamous for a Seminary of female Lewdness, where Numbers of Girls are trained up for the Destruction of unwary Youths, who study more how to gratify their brutal Paffions, than how to shun the evil Consequences that attend their Folly, not withstanding the daily lnstances of Rottenness and Mortality that happen to those who most frequent those Schools of Debauchery. The Dutch Shipping anchors there sometimes, to take in their Cargoes for Batavia. And those are all that are remarkable at Barnagul or Barnagur. There are several other Villages on the River's Sides, in the Way to Hughly, which lies 20 Miles above Barnagul, but none re [Page 18] markable, till we come to the Danes Factory, which stands about four Miles below Hughly, but the Poverty of the Danes has made them desert it, after having robbed the Mogul's Subjects of some of their Shipping, to keep themselves from starving.

Almost opposite to the Danes factory is Bankebanksal, a Place where the Ostend Company settled a Factory, but, in Anno 1723 they quarrelled with the Fouzdaar or Governor of Hughly, and he forced the Offenders to quit their Factory, and seek Protedion from the French at Charnagur, where their Factory is, but, for Want of Money, are not in a Capacity to trade. They have a few private Families dwelling near the Factory, and a pretty little Church to hear Mass in, which is the chief Business, of the French in Bengal.

[Page 19]

Hughly is a Town of a large Extent, but ill built. It reaches about 2 Miles along the River's Side, from the Chinchura before mentioned to the Bandel, a Colony fornierly settles by the Portugueze, but the Mogul's Fonzdaar governs both at present. This Town of Hughly drives a great Trade, because all foreign Goods are brought thither for Import, and all Goods of the Produet of Bengal are brought hither for Exportation. And the Mogul's Furza or Custom is at this Place. It affords rich Cargoes for fifty or fixty Ships yearly, besides what is carried to neighbouring Countries in small Vessels; and there are Vessels that bring Salt-petre from Patana, above 50 Yards long, and 5 broad, and two and an half deep, and can carry above 200 Tuns. Thev come down in the Month of October, before the Stream of the River, but are obliged to track them up again, with Strength of Hand, about 1000 Miles. To mention all the particular Species of Goods that this rich country produces, is far beyond my Skill ; but, in our East-India Company's Sales, all the Sorts, that are sent hence to Europe, may be found ; but Ophium, long Pepper and Ginger are Commodities that the trading Shipping in India deals in, besides Tobacco, and many Sorts of Piece Goods, that are not merchantable in Europe.

The Bandel, at prefent, deals in no Sort of Commodities, but what are in Request at the Court of Venus, and they have a Church, where [Page 20] the Owners of such Goods and Merchandize are to be met with, and the Buyer may be con ducted to proper Shops, where the Commodities may be seen and felt, and a Priest: to be se curity for the Soundness of the Goods.

Muxadabaud is but 12 Miles from it, a Place of much greater Antiquity, and the Mogul has a Mint there; but the ancient Name of Muxada baud is changed for Rajahmal, for above a Century. It was, in former Times, the greatest Place of Trade and Commerce on the Ganges, but now its Trade and Grandeur adorns Cassem bazaar.

[Page 21]

Patana is the next Town frequented by Europeans, where the English and Dutch have Factories for Salt-petre and raw Silk. It pro duces also so much Opium, that it serves all the Countries in India with that Commodity. It is the Place of Residence of the Prince of Bengal, who is always of the Blood Royal. The Town is large, but the Houses built at some Distance from one another. The Country is pleasant and fruitful; and the Town lies in 26 Degrees of Latitude to the Northward of the Equator.

Bannaras lies about 100 Miles farther up the River, celebrated for its Sanctity by all Persons over India, where Paganism prevails. Here are Seminaries and Universities for the Education of Youth, and to initiate them into the Mysteries of their Religion. Aurenzeb restrained the Priests from shewing the Madness of their Zeal, for they found out some weak Dotards, who, for Ostentation, would go to the Top of an high Tower, and leap down where divers pointed Weapons were placed in the Spot they were to fall on, and among them they ended their silly Lives. It is still in so much Veneration, that I have known young and old Banyans go from Surat thither over Land, out of Devotion, which is computed to be 400 Miles.

This is a selection from the original text


plenty, provision, tigers, trade

Source text

Title: A New Account of the East-Indies, Volume 2

Author: Captain Alexander Hamilton

Publisher: Red Lion

Publication date: 1739

Original date(s) covered: 1688-1723

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive: http://archive.org. Original date(s) covered: 1688-1723

Digital edition

Original author(s): Captain Alexander Hamilton

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) Tp
  • 2 ) pages 1-5
  • 3 ) Pages 9-10
  • 4 ) Pages 12
  • 5 ) Pages 17-21


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 > non-fiction prose > travel narratives and reports

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