Proceedings of the Committee of Circuit, 2nd February-9th February, 1773

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. These committees reflect the early experiments and confusion of the East India Company over revenue collection.

The Committee of Circuit was founded on 14th May 1772 and it continued to operate till February 1773. On August, 1771, the Directors of the Company, instructed the Company to take upon itself the entire care and management of the revenue. There upon, Warren Hastings, formed a Committee of the Board,, consisting of himself and four members to settle the land revenue in the various districts on the spot.

Selection details

The Committee of Circuit was founded on 14th May 1772 and it continued to operate till February 1773. On August, 1771, the Directors of the Company, instructed the Company to take upon itself the entire care and management of the revenue. There upon, Warren Hastings, formed a Committee of the Board,, consisting of himself and four members to settle the land revenue in the various districts on the spot.


[Page 38]

1.1. In the meantime the Committee intending to proceed the Enquiry into the Complaints which were prefer [...] against Davy Sing at Moorshedabad Read the following Petitions Representations of the Riots of the Pegunnah of Durrumpoor, [...] Purnea, Seerpoor, Sullahpoor, Suzahpoor, and Tajepoor in Districts of Tajepoor, Purnea

That Rajah Deby Sing having been appointed to the Superintendence of the Province encourages the [...] to cultivate their grounds, by favourable Pottahs, but afterwards in the seasons of Collection he disregards these pottahs and at the Beginning of the harvest sends [...] the different villages and seizes the produce of the Ground as well as [...] & ca and gives credit for it at an under rate in the way that at the same time using weights at the [...] in the beginning of the year of Famine he purchased the produce of the ground at an under price of 2maunds of Rice and some place two & half maunds per rupee and towards the end of the year he send his people who violently broke open the houses took the rice a one maund each rupee and some places thirty seer, and having loaded it on Bullocks and transported it in his own granaries at Purnea he sold it at the rate of three of four seer the rupee also in the year 1179 fuzzelles(last year) in the Purgannah of Darrumpoor he gave a pottah for the whole that was to be collected which was signed in English and contain an increase of 5 [...] [Page 39] on the foregoing year of the Zumma and with many [...] obliged by force to accept it yet contrary to his promise he collected an increase of 7.5 annas. The Riots in the different Tehsells be reduced to poverty in the time of the Famine , could not cultivate the ground of the former year jumma and their lands were left lying waste, from them whose grounds were untilled and waste he collected [...] thrice by different ways he imposed arbitrary taxes and the like violence and oppressions were never heard of. In many places he forcibly seized the moveables and oxen o the Riots and sold them and also send sugar and pepper into the several villages and obliged his [...] to take it at short weights and the price of the Sugar was 1.5 seer the Rupee.

For these reasons we came to Mr John Graham at Moorshedabad in the Months of Ashar who referred us to Mr Ducarell, and he agreeing to restore the [...] [...] carried us to Purnea. At last he referred to Deby Sing The said Rajah unjustly and maliciously burnt several Persons in different parts of their body with a hot iron. An Account of the Rajah’s balances we were therefore again returning to Moorshedabad, when he had us seized by the way and imprisoned and he set a Watch at the Ferries and Chowkies and we having been plundered have [...] our faces towards [...] but some of us having escaped to Moorshedabad, and have now sent Mahmoed Syed as Vaquel, The season for seizing the grain is passing we therefore [...] in case it is intended to regard our complaints another [...] may be sent instead of Deby Sing That we may [...] to the cultivation of the country with confidence otherwise the country will hence become desolate.

[Page 41]

Complaint of Rarjah Purtub Sing Zemindar of the Purgunnah Durrumpoor in the District of Tyrhoot

That since raja Deby sing has been place over the country he exercised much oppression on the Raiyats that it is impossible to describe it. During the Famine when the harvest was ready he collected the Balances of the Raiyats in every Pergunnah by the Way of Zat(in grain) and gathering the different kind of goods into his Magazines at an under rate [...] and only small quantities necessary for food and from the granaries yet this he afterwards seized again and sending seapoys broke open the houses and carried the Goods in Purnea where he collected. It together having taken the [...] from merchants he [...] it at an arbitrary price of three or four seer each rupee, By these means the said Rajah became rich and all the Inhabitants as well husbandmen as other having no grain, died.

The few Raiyats who survived the famine have suffered in the following manner in last year setting aside the Pottahs and consolidating the different taxes he strictly collected the rents upon which adding 5 annas above the former revenue and calling by the name of Cowaya and [...] Pottahs signed in the English to be made out [...] forcibly delivered them to the different [...], with solemn [...] that no person should take course more than his pottahs yet afterwards breaking his promise and disregarding the Pottah he took in some places 27 annas and in some 5 annas so that with [...] and Sowaya together it has amounted to 7.5 or 8 annas. In order to realize this and the rent of the uncultivated he has committed unheard violences The cattle and whatever that was to found he has taken and sold. The Raiyats he the greatest [...] taken [Page 42] to flight and those that remain are in despair. The season of laboring is now approaching and the rowing and sowing has already suffered greatly. Your petition from his duty as zemindar represents the particulars of the desolation of the country & the oppression of the [...] in your [...] Not this time the raiyats are encouraged and another master is not send the country, will hence forward be desolate and great loss will arise to the Government. [...] to represent this.

The [...] and other allowances which are made to use by Government has been seized by the said Rajah. Who has only given a small portion for the charges of the [...] and embezzled the remainder.

The accounts of the Desolate state of the Country my Vakeel will relate in your presence to which I hope you will be pleased to attend.

[Page 65]

1.2. Committee agreed on the same Day we write him the following answer

To Captain Robert Stuart Commanding the 19th Battalion of Seapoys,

We have received your Letter of the 24th & 27th Instant.

Having learnt from the latest Intelligence that a Body of Sannyasis consisting of upwards of fur thousand had made themselves the master at Rahimgunge a for about 2 coss distance from the Nabobgunge to the northward of Dinagepore and that they had proceeded from thence with an intention of joining Durup Deo the Jaghirdar of Bycantpoor We are of opinion you should immediately march into that part of the country after them, you will please to apply to the acting Collector at Dinagepore for every assistance you may have occasion for, in respect to proper guides and further intelligence of the Motion of this body and we leave it to your judgment and direction to pursue such measures as you think will be [...] you [...] the purpose for which you have been order ordered with your Battalion.

We are &c.

[Page 91]

1.3. Perwannah of which the following is translation. Instructions to Mir Mabulla under the seal of Syed Mahomed Ali Cawn date the 19th of Jyaistha 1177.

As the scarcity of grain in the City of Purnea is in such a Degree that the inhabitants are perishing for the want of and as is represented that the Baparries and Gomosthas of English Gentlemen as well as the Canongoes and Zemindars agents are hoarding up large quantities in the Moffusil without offering to sale . You are therefore appointed to proceed into the under mentioned Pergunnahs where on your arrival, you are to [...] Publick Notice to the Inhabitants for whosoever of them has grains [...] it themselves to Alumgunge and there sell it at the Buzar Price. If this method has the desired effect it is well, if not you are to search out the Places where the crops are hoarded up making out a list of the Proprietors names dispatch them with their Grain and scales to weigh it with hither should not you be able to find out the proprietors you must seize the grain whosoever it may be and informing me of it obey what orders you may afterwards receive. You are with concurrence of the Aumil of the Place not to bring away any quantity which the raiyats may have received for seed or for their subsistence for 2 months so that no [...] may be thereby put to cultivation, From the Byparries Ryots or Gomosthas you are not to receive any single Daam on account sell away. [...] this afterwards appear you will be a victim to government, You are also to inform yourself particularly of the quantity and price of grain in the Purgunnah and write me an account and thereof [...] this occasion [...] the strictest injunction.

Note: A true translation
This is a selection from the original text


crops, famine, gomastha, grain, rice, ryot, sannyasi

Source text

Title: Proceedings of the Committee of Circuit, 2nd February-9th February, 1773, Proceedings of the Committee of Circuit

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 38 to 42
  • 2 ) page 65
  • 3 ) page 91


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.