Famine and Dearth

Revenue Board Consisting of the Whole Council, 20th November-30th December, 1772

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. 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.

1.

[Page 574]

1.1. Read the three letters from the Resident at Burdwan date the 19th, 23rd & 28th Ultimo

To the Hon’ble President & Council of Revenue
Hon’ble Sir & Sirs

As the Damage which the Bunds of this Province have sustained by the Severity of this Province have sustained by the severity of the last Rains has been very considerable; The Farmer(..) have represented to me the necessity of beginning the Repairs as early as possible, and have requested that some advances should now be made for Commencing the Work. The reasons urged by the farmers are, that if the advances are not given [Page 575] early in the Season they cannot Collect the materials, and procure sufficient to Compleat the Repairs, so as to have them dried and settled before the Returning Rains & Consequent swelling of the Rivers; so that they are again liable to give way to the force of the Currents. This Gentlemen is certainly in a great measure the Reason of the Bunds being Broken in many places and as it makes little difference to Government making the advance more early, and must greatly tend to Strengthen these Works so Essential for the Security of the Lands, I beg leave to submit it to your Consideration whether some advances should just now be made on that account or not. As it is the Interest of the Farmer & the Ryotts to attend to the business of the Poolbundy, I am humbly of Opinion that it is much more eligible to make the advances , through that Channel than to Employ Drogas who having no risqué or Interest in the Lands have been found to Carry on the Works in too tedious and Superficial a manner with a View of continuing in employment from year to year, but as a still further spur to the [Page 576] Farmers. I beg leave to propose that my Assistant Mr McDowal be sent to Superintend the business, to Direct the Farmers & to give me the necessary Information where any of them are found to be tardy or lax in their labour that I may take the necessary Steps to keep them to their Duty. This Gentlemen appears to me the most effectual method for repairing the Bunds, and if it is so happy as to meet with your approbation, I hope to be favored with your Orders, that it may be carried into execution before the Season is further Elapsed.

I am & c
Charles Stewart Resident

1.2.

[Page 578]
To The Hon’ble The President And Council of Revenue
Hon’ble Sir & Sirs

I had the honor to write to you the 23rd instant enclosing the Account of Deductions claimed by the Farmers of this Province on Account of the Duties struck off. I was in hopes of being able to carry [Page 579] on the Collections without falling short ‘till favored with your Orders, but the Farmers have repeated their Complaints and declare themselves unable to Compleat their Kists. ‘till this allowance is made in consideration of its being discontinued in the purgunnahs, and tho’ I have indulged them several Days over the limited time of paying their last Kists a large Balance remains; they Declare that Grain is remarkably cheap, unless this Allowance is made to them. Which they have already struck off in the Moffussil and also a Consideration made to those whose Farms being near the Rivers have suffered by overflowing of the Waters. That it will be impossible for them to pay the Heavy Kists now begun. I must therefore interest Hon'ble Sir & Sirs that you will favor me with your Orders as Speedily as possible regarding the Claims on Account the Reduction of the Duties with which, and the indulgence I was formerly necessitated to Give them of setting a part of sum for the Damage sustained by the Rivers till their Accounts could be investigated, will enable me I hope to Settle with [Page 580] them in such a manner as to secure the Regular payment of the remaining heavy demands, but without which every Kist must now fall short without any recourse but to Severity, an Alternative I am convinced will be productive of the Worst consequence.

I am & ca
ChaS. Stewart Resident

1.3.

[Page 761]
To the Hon’ble Warren Hastings Esq President & Governor & Ca Council of Revenue At Fort William
Hon'ble Sir & Sirs,

This accompanies the general Accounts of Settlements and Receits & of Receits and Disbursements of the Province of Boglepore for the Behar year 1179 to which I beg leave to refer. The Balance of Rupees 19540,, 14,, 6, which has been incurred in the Purgunnah of Chahee, is due from those lands which for want of Proper People to take them in Farm, I was necessitated to keep under the Disadvantage of Coss Collectors. The Rents of his Purgunnah has been decreasing annually for some years past, owing in part to the Late General Calamity & in part to the intrigue & Collusion of the Zeminda[rs} who have taken every advantage of the necessity of the Times, & used every Endeavour to counteract those measure which were adopted [Page 762] for the Recovery of the Country and the Security of its Revenue: for these reasons I thought it most advisable to trust to the management Sezawile where Farmers could not be procured rather than to rely on those Zemindars who have an Interest in decreasing the present value of the their possessions; from the Accounts of the Sezawill which have been minutely examined, it appears the whole produce of the Coss lands has been properly brought to account, & that the Deficiency proceeds rather from the unusual Cheapness of Grain rather than from any other Cause;- for as the greatest part of the Revenue is received in kind, the Price of Grain determines the Amount of the Revenue.

From the Protection which I have been enables to give the Inhabitants residing under the Hills, by means of the Battaleon which is stationed in my Districts, I have had the Satisfaction, fully to realize the Revenue of last year from the Purgunnahs of Boglepore and Colgong & also to recover a part of the former years Ballances; but as a great Part of the Boglepore Provinces is situated on the high Road, where the Inhabitants are too frequently [Page 763] Oppress’d by the March of Troops, as well as by Travellers passing thro’ it is yet necessary that some further steps be taken for their Relief;- for this Purpose I submissively beg to recommend to you, that the Contractor be obliged to establish Golahs at convenient Distances from each other on the High Road, which should be furnished with Grain, provisions and necessaries of all kinds required for the Subsistence of Detachments, so that the march of Troops might be ________ & the Inhabitants freed from an heavy Oppressions.

The frequent Depredations committed by the Banditti of the Mountains and some late alarming incursions which they have made , notwithstanding the vigilance of the Chokeys which have been established with a view to intimidate them , obliged me to request you will by pleased to order and Augmentation to the force already doing Duty in my districts , and as a few Companies of Seapoys might be successfully employed either in extirpating this Race of Plunderers or in reducing them to obedience, I humbly take the Liberty in consequence of a Conversation which I have had with the Hon'ble President on this Subject, to recommend [Page 764] such a plan to be Adopted as shall appear to you most likely to accomplish so desirable a Purpose.

From the situation of my Districts and the many Gentlemen residing in parts to remote any Advice in case of Necessity I am induced to trouble with a Request that a Surgeon may be appointed to my Collectorship.

I am with respect Gentlemen Your most obedient Humble Servant
W Harwood CollR.

1.4.

[Page 878]
To the Hon’ble The President & Council Of Revenue
Hon’ble Sir & Sirs

Having received & Investigated as nearly as possible the Claims of the Farmers for the Loss of their Crops from the overflowing of the Country I beg leave to inclose you the Account of them, the demands are heavy and unreasonable, but the reduction made upon the Scruting brings the Balance to what is necessary to Enable them to pay the remaining heavy demands without falling to a much more considerable Amount. In this Balance is included the same which they Claim and have had Admitted every year for the Articles Nudee Shecuste and Balloopurra Land wasted away or Covered with Sand for which they have a Clause in their Agreements & has generally amounted to [Page 879] between 30,6650,000- After this Allowance and even the whole of the Claim for Zemindarry Chokies I have the Satisfaction to inform you the neat Rents will nevertheless amount to as much as any Other year since our possession of the Province without the risqué of the failure of any of the Farmers & the Russet Accruing the remaining years of the lease will occasion a Considerable Addition to the Rent Roll, so that the measures you seem desirous of pursuing for the case of the Province & the permanent Security of the Rents, will not on the whole lessen the Receipts for the Hon’ble Company upon a Comparative View of the Collections for 10 years past I beg to be honored with your final determination and orders as soon as possible as this is the most Critical Season for the Collections of much depends on Clearing the Farmers Accounts that they may exactly know what they are to pay & prepare as they are best able.

I remain with respect Hon’ble Sir & Sirs Your most Obidient Hble Servant
CharS. Stuart ResidT.
[Page 886]

1.5. Agreed upon the following Answer

TO the Hon'ble Resident at Burdwan
Sir,

We have received your three Letters of the 8th & 10th Instant, the former accompanying a dispatch of Treasure.

With respect to the representation of your Farmers of the loss they have sustained by the overflowing of the Country, we are willing to admit of a reasonable deduction for it, but can by no means consent to the extravagant Claims delivered in by the Farmers, as it so far exceed those of the former years- We desire therefore that you will make an exact & particular scrutiny into these Losses & after informing yourself of the actual damage sustain’d you will transmit [Page 887] us an Account of it when We will determine on the deduction to be admitted. In the mean time the demands of the Farmers must remain suspend.

The President informs us he has already transmitted you a further Explanation of our Orders regarding the abolition of Zemindarry Chokeys to which we desire you will conform.

We are

This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

farmer, relief, zamindar

Source text

Title: Revenue Board Consisting of the Whole Council, 20th November-30th December, 1772, Revenue Board Consisting of the Whole Council

Original date(s) covered: 1772

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1772 West Bengal State Archive

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 574 to 576
  • 2 ) pages 578 to 580
  • 3 ) pages 761 to 764
  • 3 ) pages 878 to 878
  • 3 ) pages 886 to 887

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