Famine and Dearth

Board of Revenue Proceedings, 15-26th August, 1788

About this text

Introductory notes

The early records preserved in the West Bengal State Archive pertains to the administration of the land revenue system by the East India Company. The Company attained the revenue rights of the Province through the Grant of Diwani in 1765. The records in the repositories of the Archive date back to the Select Committee Records in 1768. In the early the revenue administration was managed by various intermediary agencies, these committees reflect the early experiments and confusion of the East India Company over revenue collection.

The Court of Directors decided to reconsider the revenue administration in 1785. On this line the Court wrote in their General Letter, dated 21st September, 1785, that, there would be a Board of Revenue comprising of one of Junior Member of Council, and four other senior servants of the Company. The department would manage the whole administration of settlement, collection and receipt of every branch of the Revenue department together. The Board of Revenue at the Fort William operated from 1786 to 1822.

Selection details

The Court of Directors decided to reconsider the revenue administration in 1785. On this line the Court wrote in their General Letter, dated 21st September, 1785, that, there would be a Board of Revenue comprising of one of Junior Member of Council, and four other senior servants of the Company. The department would manage the whole administration of settlement, collection and receipt of every branch of the Revenue department together. The Board of Revenue at the Fort William operated from 1786 to 1822.

1.

1.1.

[Page 56]
To C. Cornwallis K.G. Governor General in Council My Lord,

We have the honor to transmit

[Page 57]

Copies of a letter and enclosure from the Collector of Dacca, respecting the balances of that District for the past year 1194, and beg leave to submit for your determination the following proposition on the arrears of the several mahals.…….

[Page 61]

We have deemed it expedient to call on the Collector to transmit us the original accounts of the Sezawul Employed in the management of this Mahal- Chuckla Habibgunge 3794,,10,,16,,2- Relying on the accuracy of the circumstance stated by the Collector of the losses sustained from the Inundation, We on the 12th Instant recommended that such part of this balance be give up as shall appear to have been lost by the Zemindar. [Page 62] Pargunnah Beermohun 1,492,,12,,9.

For the reasons assigned by the Collector we recommend that this balance be given up.

We also recommend that the remaining balance of Rupees 11,074,,10,,3, stated to be due from a variety of petty Mahals and to have been incurred by the inundation, [...]be given up.

We are &C..

1.2.

[Page 63]
W.Mackenzie

As I do not deem the Collector Explanations of the heavy outstanding balances in his District, amounting to no less a sum than two lacks and four thousand Rupees, either so satisfactory or conclusive as to warrant, a Recommendation on our part for a relinquishment of them. I not only object to the proposed letter to the Governor General in Council, but move that a Civil Servant be depicted to make a local and minute investigation into the causes of such losses, and Mr Paterson being now on the spot I am of opinion that we should apply to the Right Hon'ble Board for permission to Employ him on this important duty.

I desire the substance of this minute may be added to the letter to the Governor General in Council.

Acting President-

[Page 64]

As the heavy arrears have been stated by the Collector to have been created by the inundation and also by the loss of Inhabitants from the Scarcity which has prevailed for many months past in the Dacca Districts, facts the notoriety of which leaves no doubt in my mind of their Existence. I am not aware of any benefit Government could derive from a further investigation into the causes of balance, but on the contrary being satisfied that a certain expence would be incurred without any return I am against Mr Mackenzie’s motion for the deputation of a civil Servant, and particularly to our recommending Mr Paterson for that Service to our recommending Mr Paterson for that Service as his attendance has been required at the Presidency by the Governor General in Council on the [...] ensuing month to take charges of his office as Superintendent of the Bazee Zemin Duftur.

I propose [Page 65] however that a letter be written to Mr Paterson calling upon him to furnish us with such information as he may have collected on the Subject of the inundation in conformity to the last paragraph of his original instructions. I have no objections to a complete Copy instead of the substance only Mr Mackenzie’s minute being transmitted to the Governor General in Council together with the Copy of mine in reply.

[Page 476]

1.3. Read the following Letter from the Collector of the 24 Pergunnahs

To John Shore Esq President & Member of the Board of Revenue Gentlemen,

I am sorry to be under the necessity of making another request for one Hundred Rupees to be allowed me out of the Treasury which joined to some other Resources I hope may be of essential Service in preserving the remains of life to many of these miserable Wretches numbers of them are more dead after last night's severe Rain.

I have the Honor to be
William Pye Collr. 24 Pergunnahs
[Page 477]

1.4. Agreed we reply as follows

To Mr Pye Collector of 24 Pergunnahs Sir,

We have received your Letter of the 22nd instant and authorize your disbursing the Sum of One Hundred Rupees for the relief of the distressed inhabitants of the Districts under your Charge.

We are & C.

[Page 492]

1.5. Read the following Letter from the Collector of Rangamatty

To John Shore Esquire- President & Members of the Board of Revenue Fort William Gentlemen

Yours of the 11th ultimo I have been duly honored with the utmost attention shall be paid in distributing the 1000 Rupees allowed for the relief of the poor, which will be of Great service. At this very critical time the [Page 493] distress of the poor has been beyond description and Great numbers have died. Yours of the 11th ultimo is this Instant came to hand you have been pleased to mention 200 rupees to be advanced for the provision of the order from the Board of Trade. I beg [...]to acquaint the Board, that the Completion of the order will require above three times that Sum which I shall advance you will please to Receive enclosed a price Current.

I have & C
M Baillie
This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

collector, distress, inundation, loss, misery, money, rain, rain, relief, revenue, scarcity

Source text

Title: Board of Revenue Proceedings, 15th-26th August, 1788, Board of Revenue Proceedings

Subtitle: Vol.49

Original date(s) covered: 1788

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1788 West Bengal State Archive

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 57
  • 2 ) pages 61 to 62
  • 3 ) pages 63 to 65
  • 4 ) page 476
  • 5 ) page 477
  • 6 ) pages 492 to 493

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 > state archives > West Bengal

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

Acknowledgements