Famine and Dearth

Board of Revenue Proceedings, 28th March

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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. 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 818]

1.1. Read the following letter and enclosures from the Secretary to the Governor General in Council

To Benjamin Esq Secretary to the Board of Revenue
Sir,

The governor general in council having taking into further consideration the scarcity of rice in the city [Page 819] and the province of Dacca, and the relief of the inhabitants, has been pleased to direct me to you the order of which I have to you copies to the Collector of Government Customs at Patna, and to the Collectors of Tyrhoot and Sircars Sarun.

I am Sir

1.2.

[Page 820]
To Henry Prewell Esq Collector of Government Customs at Patna Sir,

The Governor General in Council taking into consideration the present Scarcity of Rice in the City and Province of Dacca and being desirous of affording an immediate Relief to the distresses of the inhabitants has been pleased that you published the enclosed advertisement in the of Patna and throughout Province of Bear and invite all persons to contract for the delivery of Rice at Dacca under the stipulations contained in the advertisement to the Collector of the Revenue & the Commercial resident who have been appointed Commissioners for the purpose of distributing Grain for the relief of the Inhabitants of the Province.

Provided the most advantageous proposals are not under twenty Sum of [...] Rupee you will conclude the contracts without waiting for further Instructions, according to the stipulations specified in the advertisement to which you will inform in every respect, but should the most advantageous terms offered below twenty seer [...] Rupee on should [Page 821] no proposal whatever be made to you within the period prescribed the Governor General in Council having the fullest reliance on you Integrity and Zeal for the public Service authorizes you to purchase one lack of maunds of merchantable Rice at the lowest rate at which it can be processes and directs you to dispatch the same with all possible expedition to the Collector of Revenue and the commercial Resident or should only a part of the quantity required be contracted for to purchase and dispatch the preference remainder as above directed.

Whatever sums you may require over and above the amount of your own receipts either for advance to the Collectors or for the purchase of Rice in the event of no Contracts being concluded you will apply for to the Collector of Sircar Sarun and Tarhoot who have [Page 822] who have been directed to answer you Drafts in preference to all other demands.

[Page 822]

1.3. Notice is hereby given,

That the Collector of the Government Customs at Patna will receive Proposals on or before the 10th of April next for ant Quantity of Behar Rice not exceeding one lack of Patna Maunds, to be delivered to the Collector of the Revenue and the Commercial Residents at Dacca on or before the firsts of June next. The Collector of the Governor Customs at Patna is to have the final conclusion of the Contract or Contracts the proposals are to be

The Collector of the Governor Customs at Patna is to have the final conclusion of the Contract or Contracts the proposals are to be [Page 823] opened on the 9th of April at Sunset.

The preference is to be given to the lowest terms under the following Stipulations- The rice to be common merchantable rice, a sample of which will be for public Inspection at the office of the Collector of the Governor Customs at Patna upon the contract or Contracts being concluded the samples are to be transmitted under the Seal of the Collector of the Government Customs at Patna and of the Contractor or Contractors to the Collector of the Revenue and the commercial Residents at Dacca, who are to leave the power of rejecting such rice as they may deem inferior to those Samples. One half of the price of the Quantity contracted for is to be advanced by the Collector of the Government Customs [Page 824] at Patna within three days after the conclusion of the Contracts or contractors the other half is to be paid by the Collector of the Rice at Dacca, Secretly to be given for the money advanced at & for the payments of [...] of eight annas on every maund not delivered as also for every maund rejected unless the same Quantity equal to the sample be supplied within the Period of delivery specified in the Contract.

Revenue Dept. A true copy

1.4.

[Page 824]
To Mr Robert Bathurst Collector of Tirhoot Sir,

The Governor General in Council [Page 825] having thought proper to authorize the Collector of Government Customs at Patna to take the necessary measures for sending me lack of Maunds of Rice to Dacca in order to afford a timely relief to the inhabitants of that Province, you will advance him such sums as he may require of you for that purpose in preference to all other demands.

I am Sir & C

[Page 825]

1.5. Agreed copies of the advertisement & letter to the Collector of Governor Customs at Patna be forwarded as follows to the Commissioners at Dacca-

To Mr Matthew Day Collector of Dacca & Mr John Bebb Resident

The Governor General in Council [Page 826] having thought proper to authorize the Collector of Government Customs at Patna to take the necessary measures for sending one lack of Maund of Rice to Dacca in order to afford a timely relief to the Inhabitants these we have transmitted for your information Copy of his Lordships order to Mr Rewell with the advertisement directed to be published by him.

Ordered the accountant General be informed of the direction issued to the Collectors of Sircar Sarun.
[Page 898]

1.6. Read the following letters from the collectors of Dinagepore and Sircar Sarun

To John Shore Esq President and & c Members of the Board of Revenue
Gentlemen,

I now reply to your circular letter dated the 15th Instant upon the object of Grain. There is no grain [...]in the District of the Crops of the two last years.

[Page 899]

The Bhadye Tufsul of the present year in general fell short comparatively with the crop of the last year from the uncommon inundation and what was reaped has been equal to the quantity requisite for the internal consumption and has admitted of a considerable exportation.

The Auguinnee Tufsill was deficient from the same cause and the effects of the violent storm which happened at the close of the month of Cartic superadded on the harvest is now reaped and the Boora tufsil in this district is very inconsiderable.

These prices comparatively with those of former years are higher owing to the adventitious causes one the and for grain having been very great from all quarters, the other the transportation from place to place being become very [Page 900] expensive and exceeding dilatory since the closing of the mouth of the River Teesta, tho this latter event at present operates to the benefit of the inhabitants of district in as much that transportation being so considerably obstructed obliges the merchants to retail upon the spot what he otherwise would have sent away.

The quantity of Grains at present in the district I believe to be fully adequate to the internal consumption and yield a surplus the common calls for exportation.

I enclose for the board information a comparative of the price of grain in the month of January 1787 and of the last month comprizing a period of one year.

I am gentleman your obedient servant

1.7.

[Page 901]
To John Shore Esq President and & c Members of the Board of Revenue
Gentlemen,

I received yours of the 15th January requiring Information of the present State of Grain in these Districts, Particularizing what I conceive to be in store of the produce of the past years and the current years, the prospect from the crops of the present season not yet reaped or now reaping together with an account of the price its now bears compared with that in the two past years and also desiring me to acquaint you how far the quantity may be supposed adequate to provide for the internal Consumption and afford the usual Exportation.

Agreeable to your orders I have used every possible endeavor to ascertain the points you require and be leave to acquaint [Page 902] you, that it appears, there is very little, or hardly any quantity of Grain of the past years produce remaining in the Country. I conceive that about three Lack maunds to be in Store of the Produce of current year, & that prospect from the crop not yet reaped, or now reaping by the measurement of the Cultivated lands obtained from the Canongoes, may be estimated to amount to fifteen Lack maunds, and that the quantity estimated for Exportation during the remaining Six months of the year, cannot be supposed to exceed one Lack maunds, a comparative statement of the Price I now enclose.

I am Gentlemen Your most obedient servant
A Montogomeree
[Page 903]

1.8. Agreed we answer as follows

To Dinagepore and Sarun Sir,

We have received your Letter & enclosure of the [...] & request you will furnish us with a similar report every fifteen days.

We are &

This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

grain, relief, rice, scarcity

Source text

Title: Board of Revenue Proceedings, 28th March, Board of Revenue Proceedings

Subtitle: Vol-32.2

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 818 to 819
  • 2 ) pages 820 to 822
  • 3 ) pages 822 to 824
  • 4 ) pages 824 to 825
  • 5 ) pages 825 to 826
  • 6 ) pages 898 to 900
  • 7 ) pages 901 to 902
  • 8 ) page 903

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