Famine and Dearth

Board of Revenue Proceedings, 11th-18th April, 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.

[Page 386]

1.1. Read the following letter from the Collector of Momensing

To John Shoe Esq Resident & Member of the Board of Revenue Calcutta Gentlemen,

I had the honor to receive your letter of the 15th January last directing me to report the present state of Grain, in this district from , [...]what I conceived to be in store of the produce of the past and the current years, the prospect from the Crops of the present season not yet reaped or now reaping the comparative prices with the two last years and how far the quantity may be supposed adequate to the provision of the internal consumption and usual exportation.

As your Letter reached me the [Page 387] 26th January or 12th Maug the usual time of reaping the Aumun crop I [...] an immediate inquiry into the state of it but received such melancholy accounts that I was convinced if true, which I have too much reason to think was the case, the produce of that was by no means adequate, to the internal consumption. I then extended my inquiries about the stores of former years, which from various Reports I was led to convince would have enabled me to have laid before your Board a statement of my [...] which might have been employed towards the relief of the District, but the information I obtained was so [...] and desultory, that I could not venture to report on it, still however imagining there must be stores of Grain the produce of former years, in some parts of the district, I omitted nothing in my power to discover them, but when I found my endeavors were in effectual, and also that the publication, ordered by the Right Hon'ble the Governor General in Council and those of your Board [Page 388] which were proclaimed in every Pergunnah and every market in the division, did not reduce the price of Rice, I conjecture that the exportation made in January and February 1787 had enhanced the [...]who did not look for the calamity, which has been secretly throughout the Province, and has caused the present scarcity.

The Inhabitants however had started to look forward to the Boro crop and presents favourable appearances, price began gradually to fall especially as every pains had been taken to instill into the minds of the people, the intentions of the Government of ordering from the western provinces an ample supply to be imported into Dacca; but the present droughtness has so [...]up and destroyed the Boro Crop, that the greatest distress no is reigns throughout the district and tho by the most [...]care, the medium price of [Page 389] coarse rice remains at about 22 seer of rupee yet it must rise in the course of a few day unless this [...] make unfortunate province is relieved by human efforts, and sole effectual assistance of Government.

Be assured Gentleman I will in future regularly [...]your Price Currents the 1st and 15 of every month, and will accompany them with every information, I can truly gain on this important subject.

In the mean time I do myself, the honour to enclose an account of the Bazar prices of rice during the Pous and Maug Months of the Bengal year 1192, 1193 and 1194 in which it is useless to further remarks.

I am &
W Woughton, Collector
This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

bazar, crops, drought, grain, rice

Source text

Title: Board of Revenue Proceedings, 11th-18th April, 1788

Subtitle: Volume-33.2

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 ) pages 386 to 389

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