Famine and Dearth

Fort William-India House Correspondences, Vol-XV: 1782-1786

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 Indian Historical Records Commission instituted in 1919 as an advisory body on preservation and publication of historical documents, envisaged the publication of correspondence between the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London and the Fort William Council in Calcutta.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 fifteenth volume of the Fort-William India House Correspondences was published in 1963 by the National Archives of India. Cyril H. Philips and B.B. Misra were joint editor of this volume. C.H. Philips was the director of School of Oriental and African Studies, London and later became the Vice-Chancellor of University of London. Bankey Bihari Misra was known for his works on the administration of the East India Company. Volume-XV of the Fort William-India House Correspondences covered the letters to and from the Court of Directors in London, by the Foreign, Political and Secret Departments of the Fort William Council, between 1786 to 1788.

Selection details

The fifteenth volume of the Fort-William India House Correspondences was published in 1963 by the National Archives of India. Cyril H. Philips and B.B. Misra were joint editor of this volume. C.H. Philips was the director of School of Oriental and African Studies, London and later became the Vice-Chancellor of University of London. Bankey Bihari Misra was known for his works on the administration of the East India Company. Volume-XV of the Fort William-India House Correspondences covered the letters to and from the Court of Directors in London, by the Foreign, Political and Secret Departments of the Fort William Council, between 1786 to 1788.

[Page 122]

1. LETTER DATED 8 APRIL 1782

[Page 124]

15. On the 2nd of August the Bengal Detachment commanded by Colonel Pearse joined the Army under General Sir Eyre Coote a few Miles to the Northward of Madras. The Troops marched on the 16th against Arcot depending on the Assistance of a large Supply of Grain which the Enemy was supposed to have laid up in Trippasore that Fortress was besieged and taken but the Store of Grain proved insufficient to enable the Army to proceed on the destined Service to Arcot the Garrison and Defences of which had been encreased by Hyder. Sir Eyre Coote therefore marched out to meet the Enemy in the Field and on the 27th he came up with and found Hyder advantageously posted at Perembaukin on the Spot where he had defeated Colonel Baillie. An Action ensued in which our Troops drove them from the Ground with severe loss on both Sides and returned to Trippasore whence they marched again to the Mount. On the 16th September the Army moved to the Relief of Vellore which was besieged by the Enemy. In the way they surprised and routed a Party of 4000 Horse and 2000 Infantry which were ravaging and destroying the Pollams. Colonel Owen was afterwards detached with a Convoy towards Vellore but being attacked by Hyder a whole Army was compelled to Retreat, which he effected without Loss. Sir Eyre Coote then proceeded with the rest of the Troops, obtained a signal Victory over the whole of Hyder's Army which would have been totally defeated had ours been able to pursue their Advantage. Sir Eyre Coote afterwards accomplished the Relief of Vellore retook Chittor raised the Siege of Trippasore and again returned to the Mount for the Rain, himself in a very bad State of Health. About the 20th December Hyder retook Chittoore with a Garrison of one Battalion of Sepoys. On the 3rd January Sir Eyre Coote marched with Army tho' he was still labouring under a very severe Disorder which on the 5th at Trippasore had nearly proved fatal to him, however he recovered and on the next Day continued his March at the Head of the Army under every [Page 125] Disadvantage both from the Want of Cattle and Provisions, with Intention to effect the Relief of Vellore, which was invested by a powerful Detachment of the Enemy, and reduced to extreme Want. Hyder's Army continued retreating before him 'till the 10th when they attacked the Convoy and cannonaded It for 4 Hours, but were repulsed. On the 11th Vellore was relieved. On the 13th the Army left that Place to return to Madras, but was attacked again by Hyder's whole Force on the same Spot as before with worse Success, and on the 18th it arrived safe at Tuppassore, whence it proceeded to the Mount and was there encamped as late [as] the 5th March, watching the Motions of the Enemy, and ready to march on the earliest Notice to oppose them.

[Page 160]

2. LETTER DATED 4 DECEMBER 1782

[Page 162]

We are still continuing these remittances by every possible effort, indeed the amount of them is likely to be increased by the Monopoly made at Madrass of all the Rice imported there which is to be seized on the Compan[y's] Account and paid for at a very advanced rate by Bills upon this Government. This measure was thought necessary by the Government there for the immediate relief of that Settlement and we consequently resolved to Freight no more Vessels with Grain on the Company's account in order to leave the exportation from hence entirely free to individuals but we shall persevere to the very last in our endeavors to save and maintain your establishment on the Coast of Coromandel which we deem of such essential consequence to the British Interests in India that no possible means should be left unattempted to protect them from the danger of such powerful Enemies as we have at this time to Cope with.

[Page 243]

3. LETTER DATED 5 JULY 1784

[Page 251]

23. We received three Letters from your President and Select Committee at Bombay under date the 23rd February and the 6th and 7th March in which they communicated to us the accounts of the Loss of Mangalore and of the Difficulty of procuring the Admission of Supplies of Provisions to Onore. They also enclosed to us the Copy of a Letter from the Peshwa to their President requiring them to join the Maratta Army against Tippoo, and of their President's Reply In which he declined a Compliance with this requisition. They acquainted us that they had it in Contemplation to depute a Gentleman to Poonah to press the Peshwa to exert himself against Tippoo, and that they meant to appoint Mr Callander to execute that Duty. They represented at the same Time their very great Distress from Want of Rice and Money and requested us to assist them as soon as possible with Supplies of both. As we had it not in our Power to send them any Immediate Supply of Specie, we acquainted them that we hoped their Distresses would be relieved by the Bills which their Chief of Surat might be able to procure on us, and at the same time we issued Orders to our Sub Treasurer to allow their Bills a reasonable Preference at the Treasury to all other Demands. We referred that Part of their Letter which related to the Scarcity of Rice to the Committee of Grain, and in our Reply to their several Letters above mentioned, which is recorded on our Proceedings of this Day, we acquainted them With these Resolutions, and at the same Time, as we had it in Contemplation to appoint [a] Resident at Poonah on the Part of this Government, we requ[ested] the Gentlemen at Bombay to repeal their Resolution (if possible) for the appointment of Mr Callander.

[Page 293]

4. LETTER DATED 13 NOVEMBER 1784

[Page 295]

3dly "That in Reply to the Letter from the new Council at Chinsura we should inform them that we are ready to carry into Effect the stipulations of the Preliminary Articles of Peace with the States General and to put the Dutch Council in Possession of Chinsura, and the Factories dependent on it on the Footing on which they formally possessed that Establishment but as the 9th Article of the Said Preliminaries directs that the Restitutions and Eventions [sic] In Favor of the Dutch shall be made at the Same Periods With those between France and Great Britain, and as the M de Bussy has not yet agreed to deliver to us Trichinapoley and Cuddalore, so we cannot agree to their taking formal and regular Possession of Chinsura till we hear from the M de Bussy to whom we shall went for a deferent Answer about the Restitutions stipulated in the Treaty with France. That in the Mean Time they may take Possession of the Warehouses of the Dutch Company at Chinsura, and land their Goods and establish their own Regulations in every Point but in hoisting their Colours, or introducing any Troops or Military Stores, that they may be assured of every just Protection to themselves and their Trade, and that a Commissary only on the Part of this Governor should be left at Chins[ur]a to correspond with them and with us until Matters are adjusted with the M. de Bussy and the Administration of Ceylon for a formal Restoration to the Dutch Company of all their Establishments according to the 9th Article of the Preliminaries between Great Britain and the States General, that we shall send a Reply in the same Terms to the Governor General and Council at Butavia, by whose favorable Attention to our first Application to them to assist in relieving the Distresses which the Presidency of Fort St George Labor'd under from a Scarcity of Rice, we think ourselves indebted, and to whose Recommendation of their Ministers at Chinsura we [Page 296] shall pay the utmost Attention.

[Page 346]

5. LETTER DATED 31 JANUARY 1785 [Secret Department of Inspection]

[Page 351]

29. The objects proposed In the Establishment of the Committee of Grain have now been answered, and the necessity that dictated the Establishment in its present extent no longer exists. We have the satisfaction of knowing from the Governor General, who acquainted us from undoubted Authority, that the Natives in General acknowledged with Gratitude the Obligations they owe to this Government for their timely and effectual interposition to save them from the dreadful effects of a Famine, and that the Establishment of the Committee has contributed to rescue many thousands probably from misery and destruction. We could not but feel the most sensible pleasure in contemplating the beneficial effects of this institution, and as the same necessity which required its formation might again exist, as an Office of this kind could only act with advantage and efficacy from experience, and as that experience could only result from a constant and permanent Operation, we resolved that a partial abolition should be made of this Office, being convinced that your Honourable Court must approve the continuance of an Establishment that had for its object the preservation of the lives of your Subjects. We have resolved therefore that the Establishment of the Committee be abolished, but that the President of it do still remain invested with the same powers and Control that the Committee now exercise, and under such further regulations as we may hereafter deem necessary, to assist him in discharging the Duties of his Office one Assistant and one monthly writer will be sufficient.

[Page 560]

6. LETTER DATED 9 JANUARY 1786

[Page 561]

7. The Proposals offered by Sir Charles Blunt, and accepted by us, are those which he made to us on a Supposition that the present State of Peace might continue, and that there might be no Season of scarcity or Famine during the Existence of his Contract, which is to last for one Year, an Option being left to us Continuing the Contract to Sir Charles or not for two Years longer as we may think proper.

8. In either of the Events of War or Famine happening before the [Page 562] Expiration of Sir Charles Blunt's Engagements such further Arrangements are to be made as may appear necessary on these Accounts and such Compensation as may be Agreed on is to be made to the Contractor for the additional Risk and Expence which he will consequently incur. A Copy of Sir Charles Blunt's Proposal is transmitted a Number in the Packet.

This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

distress, famine, rice, scarcity

Source text

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

Subtitle: Vol.XV, Foreign and Secret, 1782-1786

Editor(s): C.H. Philips & B.B. Misra

Publisher: The National Archives of India

Publication date: 1963

Original date(s) covered: 1782-1786

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: 1782-1786

Digital edition

Original editor(s): C.H. Philips & B.B. Misra

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 124 to 125
  • 2 ) page 161
  • 3 ) page 251
  • 3 ) pages 295 to 296
  • 3 ) page 351
  • 3 ) pages 561 to 562

Responsibility:

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

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