Narrative Abstracts of General Letters to and from Court of Directors, Revenue Dept, Vol. 6



[Page 19-21]

15 Oct 1785: letter signed Gov. Gen. and Council refers to a representation from the Resident at Tipperah [Tripura] [19 Aug] asking for the grant of remission “to the Inhabitants of that Province on account of the Calamities they suffered last season from Inundation".


[Page 53-54]

24 March 1786:The Governor General has laid before us a letter addressed to him in the Foujedarry dept from the Magistrate of Burdwan, representing that the Rajah at that station had prepared with his consent a body of his Nugdean Troops to go against Sonna Dodie and Jewan the heads of a notorious gang of dacoits or Plunderers, who have long infested and committed great Depredations in that Quarter but as this measure did not meet with the Governor General’s approbation from an apprehension that their irregular and undisciplined state rendered them unfit for the service, he therefore immediately sent directions to the Magistrate to restrain the Rajah from deputing his troops, which were only an undisciplined Rabble on this Service, and he has since recommended to us, with a view to the better preservation of the peace and Police of the Province of Burdwan the placing of the household troops of the Rajah on their former footing, and putting them under the command of an European Officer, which has been accordingly Resolved on, and Lieutenant Gordon in consequence appointed to the Command.”

Governor General and Council


[Page 113-114]

17 Feb 1787: “we are sorry to inform you that on a Board from the Board of Revenue grounded upon an Enquiry made by the Collector of Midnapur into the damage sustained in that Collectorship by the breaking of the waters in the course of the last Rainy season thro one of the principal pools or dykes there we have found ourselves obliged to allow of the Collectors granting a considerable remission to the amount on the whole of about sixty thousand rupees in the settlement of the current year, in respect to which we had indeed hardly any option, considering on one hand the minuteness of Mr Pearce’s report, and on the other the lateness of Time when the Question was submitted for our Determination, but the consideration of this subject has led us to form a general regulation for the more public, authentic and satisfactory Investigation of all such claims in future by the Deputation of an officer from the Presidency to investigate them as they may hereafter occasionally happen, of which we doubt not you will approve, and for further particulars on this subject we beg leave to refer to the consultation noted in the margin [29 Jan 1782]”

William Bruery Secretary


[Page 148-149]

15 Sep 1787: letter signed Charles Smart and John Shore. Encloses an abstract of occurrences since 31st July.

“The disturbances excited in Cooch Behar by the attempt of Nazir Deo to seize the Rajah and Ranny of that District, in which he was successful, have been suppressed, and the release of the persons who were seized has been effected.”

“A variety of Representations have been preferred to us through the Board of Revenue of the Inundations in different parts of the country more particularly in those situated to the Eastward, that these Representations are well founded we have no doubt and they are indeed confirmed by the evidence of our own Observations as far as regards the excessive fall of Rain: We think it our duty to mention a Circumstance which has not only prevented the manufacture of Salt being carried to the extent we expected, but will probably affect the Revenues in some degree. We have on this account been obliged to admit of a temporary relaxation in our demands of Rent in those places where the floods rendered this indulgence indispensable, but we shall be particularly attentive to distinguish between artificial Pleas which the Renters on such occasions never fail to avail themselves of and real distress. The same cause operated to affect the Collections in 1784 and we hope it will not be more prejudicial this year than it was at that season.”


[Page 211-212]

9 Jan 1789: “it is with concern we acquaint you that the periodical Rains have failed in Benares, both in the beginning and latter end of the Season, and that grain already bears a very high price in that District. The Resident has given us reason to hope that the scarcity will not be so great as to occasion a famine. The Measures we have authorized him to take to avert this Calamity will appear on our proceedings noted in the Margin [28 Nov, 8 and 17 Dec], and upon receipt of the replies of the several Collectors within the Province to our references we have directed to be made to them regarding the state of the crops in their respective districts, we shall lose no time in affording such relief to the Inhabitants of the Zamindary of Benares as may be in our power.”


[Page 217]

53. The price of Salt having contrary to our expectations continued at a very enhanced Rate, and apprehending that it might use still higher in consequence of the deficiency of the produce of the last Season, unless further measures [...]taken for increasing the quantity in the Market, we accordingly advertised for proposal of contract for the delivery of Six Lacks of Maunds of Coarse Salt at Calcutta between the 1st May and 1st October 1789. The importance of this quantity added to the 3 Lacks of Maunds which Mr Tyler has contracted to deliver us notified to you in our address of the 6th November by the William Pitt, will we hope be the means of Reducing [Page 218] reducing the price of this article to a mediate Standard.

54 A sale of 3,92,437 Maunds of Salt took place on the 1st October, and of 1,65,000 Maunds on the 22nd December. The average of the former Sale was Sicca Rupees 384,,11,,1 and of the latter Rupees 354,,13,,8 per Hundred Maunds, and we have every reason to believe that the Reduction of the Price at the second sale has in a great measure been occasioned by the above mentioned advertisement for the importation of Salt from the Coast of Coromandal.

55 Servants at the commencement of the late Rainy season having thrown up a bank of Sand across the Bed of the River Teestah in Dinagepore, the waters being obstructed in their passage overflowed the [Page 219] the Banks, and opening a new Channel found their way into the Zogat, a small River running through Rungpore, in consequence of which that District has been Inundated during a considerable part of the Year, to the great injury of the Inhabitants and loss to Government. We have accordingly deputed Lieutenant Parlby and Mr Thomas Lyon to the Spot to ascertain the works necessary for restoring the Teestah to its former Channel, and have directed the former Gentleman to produce the construction of them without delay, in order that they may be completed before the commencement of the ensuing Rains.

Lieutenant Palby having declined entering into engagements for the pairs of the Pools of Luskerpore, Bettovato and Boosnah on the terms of his agreement for Last year, we have published an advertisement for proposals of Contract for the [Page 220] repairs of these embankments for the ensuing Seasons.

57 It is with satisfaction we acquaint you that the Crops throughout we acquaint you that Crops through this Province as far as we are enabled to judge from the accounts hitherto transmitted to us have in general been plentiful, and that Rice is now fallen to a moderate price. Previous however to taking off the embargo on the exportation of Grain by Sea, we have deemed it advisable to call upon the Board of Revenue for now particular information on the state of the Crops in the several Districts, we have further induced to suspend this measure in order that we might obtain more certain intelligence how far the apprehended scarcity of Grain in the zemindary of Benaras and the Countries to the westward might affect the price of that article within [Page 221] the Provinces, and whether the quantity we might be able to spare for exportation would be more than sufficient for the relief of their necessities.

58 The many Robberies lately committed by the Dekoits in the Sunderbunds having attracted our serious Notice, we thought proper to depute Mr Henry Lodge with a special Commission to take the necessary measures for suppressing the Depredations of those freebooters, and discovering and apprehending the Person concerned with them, and also to suggest such measures as he might deem best calculated for the future protection of that navigation; any further steps we may deem it advisable to take to effect this object shall be pointed out to you at a further opportunity should we judge them deserving of your attention. Our instruction to Mr Lodge are recorded on the proceedings noted in the Margin.

59 A list of the appointments which have taken place in this Department from the beginning of October to the end of December is transmitted a separate Number in the Packet.

1.6.1. The state of the Treasury is as follows To the Hon'ble Court of Directors for affairs of the Hon'ble the United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies

Hon'ble Sirs,

We transmit to you a set of our Proceedings in this Department for the year 1788, also the broken set of our State of General Treasury the 8th January, 1789 Ready Money Golmohurs 24252,8, 388200,, ,,450312 ,, ,, Siccas 205,715,515,2 239,790.00 Copper Coin 3079.....3307,10,3 Bills Receivable 3707,13,11,430096.3 Current Rupees 11,23,305,00 Balance account Deposits 131903,3,4 Ditto accomptant General to the Mayor's Court 11,5910,3,3 Ditto of the Bonded debt on which the Interest has ceased by public advertisement 35,302,, 2 New Bonded debt at 8 percent...............115,40,270,10,2 3880263,,13,,10 Ditto Ditto Ditto account Madras Military arrears Ditto Ditto Ditto acc. to Bombay 1505407,,11,,2 Military arrears 4 per cent Remittance Loan 20000....17331873, 9.. Errors accepted

J. Mury, Sub Treas.


[Page 225]

10 Mar 1789: “it is with satisfaction we acquaint you that our apprehensions of a Scarcity of Grain in the Zemindary of Benares, communicated to you in our letter of the 9th January last by the Kent, have been wholly removed, by the accounts lately received from the Resident and for which we beg leave to refer you to our Proceedings noted in the Margin. [4 Feb]”


[Page 226-227]

“Grain We are happy to acquaint you that from the accounts we have received from the Collectors subsequent to our last despatch, it appears that the Crops throughout Bengal, with the exception of one or two Districts, have in general been plentiful. In part of Behar and Benares the fall of Rain was by no means sufficient for the cultivation and the Rice harvest suffered considerably in several Pergunnahs. We have no reason however to apprehend that the inhabitants in any part of your territories will experience any inconvenience from a scarcity of Grain during the present year. But as the price of Rice in many places in Calcutta in particular is higher than the ordinary Rate, we have determined to continue the Embargo on the exportation of Grain for some months longer.”


[Page 236]

“Poolbundy In our letter of 9 January last by the Kent we informed you of the devastations in the District of Rungpore occasioned by the river Teestah having forsaken its proper channel, and forced a new passage for itself through that district, and of the measures we had taken for restoring it to its former Course. It has since been represented to us that the works necessary for this purpose, and for securing the Country from a repetition of this Calamity, cannot be completed for a less sum than two lacks of rupees. We have called upon the Collectors of Rungpore and Dinagpore to report to us whether in the event of its appearing upon an accurate survey of the River that such works will be necessary and that they cannot be completed at a less expense. The evil consequences resulting from allowing the Teestah to continue to flow in the new Channel which it has made through the District are such as to compensate and justify the disbursement of the above sum of money for the removal of them.


[Page 239-240]

complaints against Rajah of Benares for extracting too much from Ryots. “under the pressure of the Governments demands upon the Rajah combined with his incapacity an d want of resolution to adopt salutary regulations for the restoration of the prosperity of the country, by relieving the Ryots from exaction and affording them security against arbitrary demands, the resources must annually have diminished equally to the Loss of Government and injury to the Rajah himself.

Our concern in observing the insufficiency of the ordinary funds in 1196 for making good the stipulations to government for that year was more than counterbalanced by the following considerations. That in the present state of the Zemindary no provision could have been made for the complete discharge of the amount without rackrenting the country and inducing future impoverishments. That the Ryots have been delivered from many impositions in their nature arbitrary and in their amount unlimited. That by due regulation a bar has been opposed to future exaction, and that the demands upon the Ryots have been simplified and rendered definite; that the public revenue has been provided for in real and ascertained funds, to the general advantage of all responsible for it, and that confidence and security have been established.

When we further consider that these objects have been promoted and attained by the abolition of duties and tolls, affecting the commerce of the country, and the community at large, we have no hesitation in affirming that the diminution of the Jumma was expedient and necessary, and a moderate sacrifice to the future prosperity of the country with which the British Nation are so immediately connected.

Notwithstanding the deficiency of Rs 101.814.15.4 … on a comparison of the Province with the amount of the Rajah’s stipulation we were by no means willing to adopt any measures for supplying this amount that might have a tendency to shake the confidence of the inhabitants of the Province in Government, or induce them to impeach its humanity. Whatever increases may arise from the Customs over and above the estimated receipts of them we deemed a fair resource, but any diminution of charitable allowances to the pensioners, would, we conceive, have been highly unadvisable, and we accordingly did not think proper to authorize it. But we were not equally aware of the impropriety of an Investigation of the Mofussil allowances and charges comprehended in the sum of Rs 83156..11..6. under a limitation that extravagance only should be retrenched and that charitable donations should be confirmed. Some investigation therefore with a view to ascertain the particular nature and necessity of these charges appeared to us necessary. Which we accordingly instructed Mr Duncan to make: and we authorized him in the event of the result of a partial enquiry being such as to show any prospects of increasing the public funds by a revisal of the whole, to prosecute it to a completion: acquainting him at the same time that we did not wish it should be carried on with an oeconomical rigour that might diminish the just rewards of service, or with a strictness that might disgust or distress any objects of compassion. The charges of the Moolky, Civil and Criminal Courts, as the Rajah is not responsible for the realisation of the settlement, fall of course upon the government, but if the Settlement had been made by him, we could not under the Circumstances of the District have placed them with propriety to his account.”


[Page 245-247]

“you will no doubt peruse with much satisfaction Mr Duncan’s observation in the 53rd paragraph of his letter on the beneficial effects of the Settlement with regard to the peace and happiness of the Country which have been confirmed by the General information individually received by us. The Regulations issued by the Resident on the 25th June 1788 were well calculated to promote these objects and a steady adherence to them will be the surest means of rendering these benefits permanent.

That the natives would at once adopt the spirit of these regulations was not to be expected: since in all countries, and particularly in Bengal, an attachment to established customs and abuses is found to oppose the introduction of new and beneficial rules of practice. That so much has been accomplished we can only attribute to Mr Duncan’s interference and attention to hear and redress Revenue Complaints, and to give currency to his own regulations by his own practice. We were much pleased to find that the habit of employing Sepoys in the business of the Collections in Benares has been so much diminished, and we have no doubt that the necessity of their employment at all will shortly be almost entirely superseded.

We are happy to find from paragraphs 85-92 of the Residents letter that under the oeconomical disposition of the Rajah, a considerable surplus is left to him from the increase of his Jaghire and that the future revenue of his Zemindary will supply an addition to it. Under the circumstances you will determine upon the quantum of the Tribute to be demanded from the Rajah, taking into your consideration the deficiency in the estimated funds for his personal expenses at the time when the tribute was fixed.

The restoration of the Rajah to the administration of his country is a matter of serious and important consideration. We sincerely wish that his abilities were such as to render the measure compatible with the good of the country; but we are thoroughly convinced that the execution of it at present would prove the destruction of that system of reformation and regularity which the resident has so strenuously and successfully laboured to introduce [Page 248] the destruction of that system of reformation and regularly which the resident has so strenuously. and successfully laboured to introduce As the beneficial consequences of his conducts and regulations become in the progress of time apparent they cannot fail make an impressions upon the Rajah favourable to the permanency of the System and if he can be induced to reflect upon the consequence of the measures which he pursued he must be sensible that by a temporary deprivations of the management of his Country, he has escaped a Loss which would otherwise have been unavoidable.

He must at the same time acknowledge that the Government has submitted to a deficiency in the amount of the revenue which he was in strictness bound to pay, from a motive only of rendering him more capable of discharging it in future with any intentions of demanding an augmentation in [Page 249] proportion to the improved abilities of his Zemindary.

27. We look forward however to a period when the administration of his Zemindary may again with safety be restored to him and although the Resident's conduct furnish the most useful Lesson for his Instructions we have desired Mr Demiah to omit no opportunity of explaining to him the principles of it, the necessity of a systematical adherence to them, and a constant and steady application to business; and if the notification can be imparted to him without risk to his (the Resident) influence and without exciting apprehensions in the Farmers, to suggest our intentions of recommitting the management to him as soon as we are satisfied that his abilities are equal to it.

28. We have further desired Mr Duncan on all occasions to inculcate in to him the ability of the Courts justice and the indispensable necessity of regulating the Determinations of Justice by fixed Laws [Page 250] instead of discretion, as from habit and education he cannot be qualified to form a just judgment upon these subjects. It was not without reluctant that we adopted measures repugnant to the spirit of the Pottah by which he holds his Zemindarry but the necessary of the Case admitted no suspense and in fact the Establishment of the President's authority is no more than a substitution for the Controul of Naibs, to which we had be on bound to submit.

29. On the relinquishment of the unpaid Balance of 1191, the remission of which we recommended to you in our Letter of the 9th January last by the Rent, shall only observe, that we feel a great satisfaction on finding the expediency of the measure established by the accurate information which Mr Duncan has supplied on the funds of Benares. To have persisted in the Demand [Page 251] would certainly have involved the Rajah in distress and have occasioned much well founded dissatisfaction in his mind.

30. We have received much satisfaction in the Contemplation of the beneficial effects mentioned in the 97th and 98th paragraphs of the residents Letter of the institution of the Adawluts at Gazipore and Mirzapore in the increase of Commerse and population and we entirely concurred with the resident in the Propriety of establishing a revenue Court, as suggested in his Letter of the 12th of September, constituting the regulations of the 12th June 1788 as the rule of its guidance previous to the Investiture of the Rajah with the management of his Country, and although Mr Duncan personal attentions may render the establishment of it not immediately necessary we thought proper to leave it to his discretion to make it whenever he might think proper.

31. In reply to the 99th and 101st Paragraphs of Mr Duncan's Letter regarding the Establishment of Cannongoes we acquainted him that introduction of Leases [Page 252] for a number of years appeared to us the __ expedient to disobey the excessive influence obtained by those officers; and that on the other hand, their influence must increase by a frequent change of renters. That the institution however under the Circumstances of the Zemindarry was essentially necessary and we did not regret the diminution in the public funds applied to the maintenance of it. That we approved his intention of regulating the Department of Canungoes as well as of his dismissing some of the Canongoes by way of example to others, and that a permanent provision for the Cauzier throughout the District appeased proper.

32. The Statement referred to in the 102nd and 103rd Paragraphs of Mr Duncan Letter are very satisfactory and render the accounts of the revenue concerns in that province complete.

[Page 253]

33. We examine with attention the vouchers No30 referred to us in the Postscript of Mr Duncan's letter relative to the augmentations of revenue proposed by the Predecessor Mr James Grant. The first article respecting the old balance of 314,664,,2 required no remark; on the second, [...], the saving of 50,000 by the reduction of the adawlut establishment, we thought proper only to observe, that although the liberality of the Adawlut establishments under the Nabob Ali Ibrahim Khan, might admit of some reduction which may perhaps hereafter be carried into effect yet considering the zeal and assiduity of Ali Ibrahim Khan, and his successful discharge of the duties of his situation, any attempt to limit the scope of those exertions in the Establishment were inexpedient and impolite. Mr Duncan's Letter of the 12th September 1788 and his address now referred to you prove the impracticability of [...] the expectations of the increase of two Lacks of rupees per annum for five years suggested in there Article. The same [Page 254] observation applies to the encrease of one Lack of rupees per annum for four years from 1196, and one Lack of rupees for three years commencing from 1197 specified in the 4th Article, and we could not but admit the solidity of the Resident's reflections on this subject . The profits of the opium attended to in the 5th Article from a resource of which we have already awaited ourselves, and you will no doubt be pleased to find the estimate of them in future so considerable.

34. Accompanying our reply to the Residents letter now pointed out to your notice, we thought proper to transmit to him a copy of our Letter to the Board of Revenue, containing our Instructions relative to the formation of a permanent Settlement with the Landholders in the Province of Behar, a Copy of which we have already observed is forwarded to you a separate number in the Packet.

35. We acquainted Mr Duncan that altho a Lease [Page 255] for a term of years was less exceptionable than are annual Settlement, we could not be of opinion that the benefits arising from it were very inconsiderable when compared with the great and lasting advantages that would result from a system, which had for its object the ascertaining and limiting the Demand of Government upon its subjects and securing to them in perpetuity the quite enjoyment of the fruits of their Industry. That the instructions transmitted to him had been framed with a view to those objects and it occurred to us that the system might be introduced into Benaras with equal benefit to the Rajah and Country, at large. We may further in this place add that considering the Character of the Rajah, and the distance of Benaras from the seat of Supreme Control, the argument for Permanent arrangement not subject to the Fluctuation of Discretion acquire additional strength.

36. We therefore directed him to lose no time in [Page 256] communicating to us his sentiment on the expediency and practicability of introducing a similar Plan of Settlement into the Province of Beneras at the Commencement of the ensuring year, either partially or generally, and whether any and what modification of it would be necessary arising either from Differences which might exist between the Landed Tenures in Benaras and Those in Behar, or from the relative education of the Rajah and the Landholders and Cultivators in the Districts under his authority. We further desired the resident in the event of his being of opinion that the System might be adopted in Benaras with success, to give the Clearest Explanations of its Principles to the Rajah, and if he could be convinced/ of which could scarcely entertain a doubt/ that it would equally land to promote his own Interest and the happiness of the People, [Page 257] and should consequently appear inclined to give his heart assent to the Plan to take such preparatory measures as he might think proper either for the partial or general introduction of it at the commencement of the ensuing year, suspending the final execution of them untill he should receive our [...] for that purpose.

37 We were aware of difficulties arising from the existing Settlement yet they did not appear to us of sufficient magnitude to impede the plan of a Permanent Jumma. We further intimated to the Resident that the Principal points for consideration exclusive of those immediately recommended to his notice were whether the circumstances of the Country were adapted to the introduction of such a system or whether it might be established with more advantage at a future period.

38 We have not yet received the Resident's reply to this subject, but expect it daily, and such measures as we may adopt in consequence of it [Page 258] we shall advise you of by the next dispatch.

Thinking it necessary to lay up a quantity of Grain in Calcutta to prevent the Merchant enhancing the Price upon any alarm of a scarcity we deserted the Collector of Purneah, in whose districts the Crops of last year were remarkably plentiful to dispatch a Lack of Maunds to Calcutta as soon as the rivers might be navigable. The disposal of its arrival will depend upon the Crops of the present season, which at present wear the most promising appearance throughout the Country The rains have hitherto fallen with great regularly and sufficiently plentiful for the purposes of Collection, and no where as far as we are at present informed in such Quantity as to occasion inundations. We have thought it advisable in consequence of the accounts we have received from the several Collectors to continue the embargo over [Page 259] one or two months longer by which time the Crops will be so far advanced towards maturity as to enable us to determine whether they will be sufficiently productive as to permit of the large exportation of Grain which may be expected to take place immediately upon the Part being opener inconvenience to the Country.


[Page 264-266]

problems in Cooch Behar. Report in proceedings of 13 May – “it will no doubt convince you of the necessity of the deputation, as well as of the propriety and expediency of the measures we have adopted in consequence”.

“upon a due consideration of the wretched state of the country as described in the report of the commissioners, the incapacity of the Ranny, the improper conduct of her dependants, and the helpless state of the infant Rajah, we could not but be of opinion that the interposition of the authority of this government, without any view to its own advantage, but solely to re-establish good order throughout the country, and restore the Rajah to his independent rights as soon as he might be capable of exercising them, was not only justifiable under the relation in which he stood to this Government, but in every respect consistent with the principles of equity, humanity, and good policy.

We accordingly thought proper, in conformity to the recommendation of the Commissioners, to depute Mr J.N. Short as Commissioner to Cooch Behar, to assume the entire management of the affairs of the Rajah in Trust for him on the part of Government. A partial or limited interference would have rendered his deputation of no avail, we accordingly thought proper to vest him with the powers contained in his Instructions a copy of which is recorded on our proceedings referred to in the Margin [13 May].

You will observe that the leading Principles of these Instructions is the Preservation of the rights of the Rajah, and the restoration of him to his independency as soon as he may be capable of taking charge of his own affairs, and we requested the Gov Gen to state this circumstance in the most explicit manner in his letter to the Rajah and Ranny, informing them of the Commissioner’s appointment. You will also perceive that we have particularly instructed the Commissioner to attend to the education of the Rajah, and to take every means in his power for qualifying him for the management of his own affairs.”

This is a selection from the original text


authority, calamity, grain, inundation, plunder, rain, scarcity, settlement

Source text

Title: Narrative Abstracts of General Letters to and from Court of Directors, Revenue Dept, Vol. 6, Narrative Abstracts of General Letters to and from Court of Directors, Revenue Dept

Subtitle: 29 January 1785-7 December 1789

Original date(s) covered: 1785-1789

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1785-1789 West Bengal State Archive

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 19 to 21
  • 2 ) pages 53 to 54
  • 3 ) pages148 to 149
  • 4 ) pages 211 to 212
  • 5 ) pages 217 to 221
  • 6 ) page 225
  • 7 ) pages 226 to 227
  • 8 ) page 236
  • 9 ) pages 239 to 240
  • 10 ) pages 245 to 259
  • 11 ) pages 264 to 266


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

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Genre: India > official correspondence > state archives > West Bengal

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