Revenue Board Consisting of the Whole Council, 5th February-30th March, 1773

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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. Between 1769 and 1786 the revenue administration was managed by various intermediate agencies like the Resident at the Durbar, Provincial Council of Revenue, the Calcutta Committee of Revenue. 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.

On May 1772, the Court of Directors decided to hand the revenue administration to a board, consisting of the President and four other members, while the title of the supervisor was changed to that of the Collector. The whole council that was constituted, to sit two days in the week, or if necessary more; the members of the council were appointed to act as auditors of accounts, each a week in rotation, The Revenue Board in the Whole Council continued to operate till 1774.

Selection details

On May 1772, the Court of Directors decided to hand the revenue administration to a board, consisting of the President and four other members, while the title of the supervisor was changed to that of the Collector. The whole council that was constituted, to sit two days in the week, or if necessary more; the members of the council were appointed to act as auditors of accounts, each a week in rotation, The Revenue Board in the Whole Council continued to operate till 1774.


[Page 744]

1.1. At a Consultation Present The Hon'ble Warren Hastings Esq President William Aldersay Richard Barwell Henry Goodwin and William Lambert Esq

[Page 746]

The President represents to the Board that Mahomed All the present phoujdar of Houghly is a very near relation of Mahomed Rizza Cawn and was placed in that station by his appointment that his continuance n a Charge of such importance may have an ill tendency on the minds of the people impressing them with the Belief that the authority and influence of Mahomed Rizza Cawn Still prevail in the administration of the affairs in the province that such a belief may move [...] both to the system newly established and to the enquiry into the conduct of Mahomed Rizza Cawn now depending that as may other dependant of Mahomed Rizza Cawn of any consequence has for these reason been removed there will be an widest impropriety in offering a person immediately [Page 747] [...] of with him to continue in an office which has the control and execution of every transaction with the other European Colonies settled in Bengall and virtually subjects them to the influence of his [...]that the Hon'ble Court of Directors in their Letter to the President by the [...] of the Commanded him to arrest every partisan and dependent of Mahomed Rizza Cawn at the same time that the person of their master was [...] and although it was thought advisable for the peace of the Country to dispence with this of their orders yet it will certainly be expected that the spirit of them will have been so far attended to as to have affected the removal of every amounting to that description from any Share in the administration of the publick affairs. We therefore recommend that Mohamed Ally be removed from the Phoujdary of Hougly and that choice be made of another person to fill the office who shall not be liable to the same [...].

[Page 760]

1.2. On a representations of the Farmers of Midnapore that this is the proper season for farming the [...] Banks to prevent Inundations agreed that the following letter be written,

To Mr Edward Baber Resident of Midnapore

As it was determined at the Settlement of your District that the Expence of Poolbundy should be [...] by Government arguable to the Custom [Page 761] which prevails in the Provinces of Bengal. We are of opinion that in the conducting of this Business the landholders themselves will be the properest agents and most likely from the Interest they will have in the Work to Attend to its being Completed in a secured manner should this mode however be adopted checks will be necessary to prevent over changes and [...] accounts as also to see that the work is properly executed and on a desirable plan which we [...] you to attend.

We are & c

[Page 764]

1.3. At a Consultation Present The Hon'ble Warren Hastings Esq President William Aldersay Richard Barwell Henry Goodwin and William Lambert Esq Messrs Reed and Lane indisposed The General left the Presidency The Roy Rayan absent at the Khalsa Read the Consultation of the 16th Instant

[Page 769]

Representations having been made that many persons have refused to abide by the former usage of the Custom House at Calcutta it is hereby ordered that [Page 770] no grain shall be landed within the limits of the city of Calcutta but by a permit from the Custom Master Specifying the quantity ad that no grain shall be sold but in the presence of the Ryalls or officers of the Custom House who shall be authorized to Receive their established Kyalleee Dustore agreeably to the ancient and immemorial usage of this settlement and the province in general.

[Page 776]

1.4. Mr Barwell delivers the following Minute

I gave my assent at our last meeting to the proposed measure for removing Mohamed Ally Cawn from his station at Phoujdar of Hooghly. The [...] which influenced my concurrence to that proposition is not a Conviction of its expediency but a particular Dilemma Occasioned by the orders of the Company respecting his Excellency Mahomed Reza Cawn the conduct of very member of the Council in a point which it may be Said effects him required the utmost [...] and is in itself of so Delicate a nature as I am to prelude in a manner the possibility of a negative nevertheless when I consider that this unhappy man has been continued in Office almost twelve months Since the receipt of the Letter of Lapwing and that the Principle upon which the order in that Letter is founded is the Scarcity of the peace of the Country Planned but esteem his dimension from it now as a Hardship upon him our Honorable Employers are never swayed to particular Distinctions [Page 777] in their orders but from and ideas of their necessity therefore the order extended to the Dependents of his Excellency were doubtless traditions from the Supposition that [...] he might hold an Interest in the Country which might be employed to Disturb the peace of it such influence is however is founded to have insisted and therefore I confess on this occasion loath to aggravate his afflictions who is already pressed down by the most severe reverse of fortune after so long and underneath proof as has been given by the continuation of Mahmud All Cawn in the Fouzdary of Houghly. [...] not well be urged that the continuing him longer in it will be in any respects attended with wish to the Publik Service. Or that the Company will be [...] on just a [...] of the groundlessness of their apprehension as if in this ____ particular instance only there v has been [...] or more properly speaking their Expectations _ [...]__ [...]exertion of that Rigor has been for as the extension and the end proposed to be effected by their Order is equally obvious that end is _ [...]of and accomplished. [Page 778] Can it be said that Order is not complied with or is not most fully . I am convinced that the Hon'ble President and Member of the Government are equally influenced with myself by a principal of Humanity to treat with [...] [...]every one to whom no Crime is objected and whose only unhappiness it is to be related to Mahomed Riza Cawn. I therefore give with freedom my Sentiments on the order which Touches such men and set it before you in that Light which Imagine it may be weaved with the greatest propriety in point of duty Obedience and Deference to our Superior but if after having this weaved the subject. The Board shall judge an omission in their having so long Continued Mahmud Ally Cawn in office an only be rectified by his removal from it he must submit to his fortune To give Satisfaction to our employers is the first and greatest Object of our wishes and if that is thought in any degree precarious by our [...]Mahmoud Ally Cawn the Phoujdary of Houghly. He doubtless [...] the part most become [...] by removing him from it.

Richard Barwell


[Page 851]
To Mr George Hurst Acting Chief, & Council of Revenue at Patna

We have received your letter of the 29th January and 8th Ultimo with their several enclosures.

From the additional arguments you have set forth in your letter of the 29th January in favour of the new mode of settlement you have recommended to us, for the Bahar Province we are inclined to approve of the Plan in general, and We desire that you will receive any proposals which may be made to you in consequence by the present farmers and transmit them to us for approbation with your opinion of the responsibility of the men and the sufficiency of the term.

We have further come to a resolution to publish advertisements at the Presidency, Moorshedabad and Patna for receiving any other proposals for farming the lands of Bahar for the term of one Life [Page 852] to be [...] upon at the expiration of the present leases. A copy of this advertisement We now transmit to be published by you and as in the Statesmen, you sent us , you have [...]that Sircar Tirhut would [...]a new division we desire you will _ [...]us such a plan you judge most convenient and you will transmit any new proposals you may arrive in the same manner as those from the present farmers.

We desire also that you will furnish us with Persian Copies of the Collections from the Commencement of the year 1173 to the end of 1179 of the three years settlement, which was made and of the attestations which have since taken place.

We are & c


[Page 938]
To the Hon'ble Warren Hastings Esq President and Governor and to the other Gentlemen of the Council of Revenue at Fort William
Hon'ble Sirs,

I here with transmit the Accounts of my Collection for last month I flatter myself the Balance incurred will be realized by the end of this on the 10th of next month excepting those Mahals regarding which I had the honour to Address you on this ultimo and I now avail your Command as to the measures to be pursued with respect to the Farmers and Securities of them.

I have as yet had not answer from Mr Middleton on the Subject of the Poolbundy. I hope to receive your Orders regarding it very Shortly as people in general Begin to be very Apprehensive of the Consequence to expected from its being inundated so late in the Season.

I am & c
T Pattle Collector, Lushinpore
[Page 955]

1.7. Agreed that the following Answer be written to Mr Jacob Rider Collector of Nuddea


We have received your Letter of the 6th December 23rd Ultimo 10th & 15th Instant with the Several [...] [...]mentioned to be enclosed as yet [...] The Com _ [...]against Baucheram Sircar is now in Calcutta we desire you will order the latter to proceed immediately to this place to answer for his conduct when the complaint against him will be full enquired into.

With regard to the Demand of your farmer for a Deduction in their Rents on account of the encroachment of the River as you agree in Opinion with as that they can advance no claim on this account previous to their entering upon their late [...] [...]their demand for the Encroachment of the present appears to us so much the more exaggerated and improbable and we think they will be amply compensated for any real loss they may have incurred by an allowance of Six Thousand Rupees, which mode of compromise we could rather prefer as the Expence of continuing [...] [...]

Survey would be very considerable .We direct you therefore to settle with the farmers the several proportions of their demands agreeably to these [...] in the best __ [...]you are able.

We cannot admit of you continuing the allowances to the four [Page 956] additional [...] [...]as they will exceed [...] [...] [...]Establishment but as you have given us so good Character of the old Servants we are inclined to consent to their being appointed but must previously desire to know from you how the new Officers come to get their employment in preference of the former servants considering these [...]

We have given the necessary order to the officers of the Khalsa that you [...] as well as Remittances of ready money may be duly credited in their Books and enclosed in the [...] which will be regularly delivered to you Vakeele.

[...]of your Farmers [...] Securities who are now Considerably in Arrears for their Rents and who cannot immediately discharge their Ballances or give [...] [...] [...] Security for the payment of them together with the Rents in the Course of the ensuing year. We direct you to seize and bring down with you to Calcutta after sending proper People into the Pegunnahs to attend to the cultivation and to secure for the Government whatever may be collected from the Ryotts before the Completion of the future adjustments which we shall make of these in Places in which the farmers have failed. We desire also that you will order the Rajah of your district to accompany you to the Presidency as his presence may be necessary in making the said adjustments tho you will not allow him to be attended with any unnecessary Parade.

We are & c


[Page 1088]
Hon'ble Sirs

Accompanying I have the Honor to send you a remittance of One lack of Sicca Rupees on account of the Collections of this Collectorship and also enclose you a bill of lading with an invoice of the Same.

We are & C
Wm Lushington


[Page 1089]
Hon'ble Sir & Sirs

The close of the Bengall year being at hand the farmers proposed for the payment of the Ballances due upon their Annual Rents they have preferred an Account of Claims for deductions which are principally drawn founded upon that Article of the [...] which entitles them to a Remission of the Rents [...] lands as are overflowed with inundations from the river.

The Claim in [...] admissible but [...]Decision objected against and may be appealed from [...] [...] think it necessary to refer the points for your determination.

The Construction I put upon the Article quoted in support of their Claims and which I have explained to them in that the peculiar situation of the Land or a sudden and extraordinary rise of the waters might extend the calamity of inundations for as to render the loss sustained thereby [...] [Page 1090] to an individual or at least beyond all proportion with the responsibility which [...] of the farmer might require in the farmer that Government therefore [...]to grant relief to the farmers in such unforeseen distress but that to extend the benefit of the Article to the Variations which must unavoidably happen in the Banks of such river as the Ganges the Course of which being [...] [...]Such that in an extent of two Miles or less probably within the limits of the Same Farm what is lost by the encroachment of the river in one place may be recovered in another by a favorable alteration in the Chanell of the water and which besides the chance of benefit or loss being so even, are so very inconsiderable that if a Scrutiny was made Every year the advantage to the farmer in being allowed a suitable Deduction or to Government in Claiming the rents upon all recovered Land could not be deemed an object sufficiently great to merit an express stipulation regarding it. But whatever Interest the Claimants of such deduction may propose to themselves I am confident [Page 1091] that if they are attended to and regulated by the result of a Scrutiny Government will being every instance the suffering Party for exclusive of the imposition and Collusion which may be practiced in the execution of the Scrutiny. The officers of Government have not any certain and declared [...] whereby to discover what Land has been relinquished by the water.

The farmer will hardly have honour enough to confess the recovery of such land but his interest will always prompt him to Claim a Deduction for such as may have been lost by the encroachment of the River. Therefore such a Construction of this Article of the Lease as shall leave this point open and be settled by a local enquiry which is the only method in that case. [...] remains to be pursued must over turn to the [...]of Government.

These claims are preferred by the farmer of Mahomed [...] but as the amount is not very considerable I have thought it unnecessary to send you a particular account of them.

I am & C
Wm Lushington
[Page 1093]

1.10. Agreed upon following Answer

To Mr Wm. Lushington

We have received your letter of the 20th and 25th Instant.

We desire you will explain the manner in which the difference between the old and new Establishment of Servants [...] accounts of charges Collections for January We cannot [...] of any allowance being paid to those of the new Establishment previous to its Commencement accepting to the [...] Appointments took place in the present year- [...] any of the officers have received pay upon this fooling [...]you to demand it each from them and replace in your Treasury and We now return to your account to be rectified accordingly.

We are of opinion that the [...] [Page 1094] the lease does not entitle the farmers to a remission of rents on account of inundations With respect to land carried away by the encroachment of the river we entertain the Same idea of it as you do and accordingly recommend it to you settle the claims of the farmers in such a manner as that the Government may sustain no loss from imposition or groundless [...].

Untill the delivery of the present years salt which is appropriated for the discharge of the Ballances are concluded the Collection of the Districts upon it must necessarily [...] to be made where the [...] managed and will consequently transferred to the Khalsa

We are & c

This is a selection from the original text


farmer, grain, province, remittance, settlement

Source text

Title: Revenue Board Consisting of the Whole Council, 5th February-30th March, 1773, Revenue Board Consisting of the Whole Council

Original date(s) covered: 1773

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1773 West Bengal State Archive

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 744 to 747
  • 2 ) pages 760 to 761
  • 3 ) page 764
  • 4 ) pages 769 to 770
  • 5 ) pages 776 to 778
  • 6 ) pages 851 to 852
  • 7 ) page 938
  • 8 ) pages 955 to 956
  • 9 ) page 1088
  • 10 ) pages 1089 to 1091
  • 11 ) pages 1093 to 1094


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.