Proceedings of the Committee of Revenue, 1st-8th July, 1784

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 1781 the Court of Directors decided to centralise the Committee of Revenue based in Calcutta. The office of the Provincial Councils were abolished on February 9, 1781. The Committee of Revenue was placed in full control aided by a Diwan. Collectors were appointed under the Diwan at various districts. The new Collectors were mere figure-heads, and zamindars were encouraged to pay their revenue direct into the Khalsa or Exchequer at Calcutta. The Committee of Revenue continued to operate till it was replaced by the Board of Revenue in 1786.

Selection details

On 1781 the Court of Directors decided to centralise the Committee of Revenue based in Calcutta. The office of the Provincial Councils were abolished on February 9, 1781. The Committee of Revenue was placed in full control aided by a Diwan. Collectors were appointed under the Diwan at various districts. The new Collectors were mere figure-heads, and zamindars were encouraged to pay their revenue direct into the Khalsa or Exchequer at Calcutta. The Committee of Revenue continued to operate till it was replaced by the Board of Revenue in 1786.



[Page 116]
Referred to Mr Duncan

I have the honor herewith to transmit you the Settlement and Kistbundee of the Sylhett Province, for the Bengal year 1191. Also the Taujee account for the month of Bysack which was not before forwarded, with the accounts for [Page 117] May as the Settlement was not their made together with duplicates of the whole, in the Persian and Bengali language.

It is with greatest concern, I acquaint you of a most dreadful calamity that has befallen this Province from an inundation the situation of the people here at present is truly deplorable.

By an incessant Rain which has fallen with great violence, for these eighteen days past, the water have risen to such a height as the oldest men now living here never remember to have seen, the damage that have been done by it, cannot be a present exactly estimated great part of the Town of Syllhet which stand on one of the highest sites in the whole Province, has been overflowed many of the houses having from four to six feet water in them, and others are rendered inhabitable, the whole country is also laid under water, by the River having overflowed and [Page 118] broken its Banks, carrying everything before it. The greatest part of the Town of Baugh, a large and populous place has been swept away and I am sorry to add that unfortunately many persons have perished and an innumerable quantity of cattle a great deal of other damage has also been done these accounts are daily coming in from other villages, that have shared the same fate, such as I have received contain but a very imperfect description of the damages as the communication with the moffusil is in a great measure cut of, by the severity of the weather, when [...] arrive I shall be more particular; persons who came last from thence describe a Scene, too dreadful for Humanity to behold or words to express.

About two months ago, the zemindars were so unfortunate as to lose their principal Crop (the Bahar Fussil) the [...] which would have been cut in Jayte is also totally lost, the [Page 119] greatest part of the Crop which was last sown, has been destroyed; added to the loss of these crops, a considerable quantity of Rice lodged in Golahs has been washed away in consequence of this disaster, the price of that article has risen considerably for these three days the inhabitants of the Town, have received no supply either from the neighbouring villages or Pergunnahs. Everything in my power has been done for the relief of the unhappy sufferers; and I beg leave to assure you, that no endeavours on my part, shall be wanting to mitigate those hardships which they must unavoidably suffer from the peculiar severity of the Season.

In order to remedy as far as lies in my power, the fatal consequences of this disaster, I have thought it expedient to prohibit the exportation of Grain from this Province for the present, which I hope will meet with your approbation, and that you will favor me [Page 120] with further orders you may judge necessary on this subject.

I have &ca
William Hyndman Act. Collector
[Page 120]

1.2. Agreed we address the Hon'ble Board and reply to the acting Collector to Syllhet as follows

Hon'ble Sir & Sirs

Inclosed we have the honor to lay before you copy of a letter addressed to us by the acting Collector of Syllhet, transmitting an account Settlement of that district for the year 1194 on which there is a small decrease of Cawrer(?)15,890 which in a former letter Mr Lindsay he informed us would happen and recommended it as a necessary indulgence in consequence of the extreme distress to which the people had been exposed from inundations We have directed the acting Collector to withdraw the prohibition [Page 121] on the exportation of Grain.

We are &c


[Page 121]

We have received your letter of the 25th Ulto. Inclosing the Settlement of Syllhet for 1191, which we have submitted to the Hon'ble the Governor General and Council; we are much concerned at the melancholy accident which has happened in your district, we would with chearfullness adopt any measure likely to contribute to the relief of the sufferers but until those are known, we can only recommend them to your attention.

As the Hon'ble Board have desired that there should be not prohibitions to the exporting of Rice from one province to another We cannot authorize your preventing the exportation of it from Sylhet, and must desire that you will take of the prohibition.

We are &ca


[Page 280]

I now do myself the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your Several Letters of the 13th,17th,23rd, and 27th of October and of the 13th of November last on the subject of a scarcity of grain and apprehension of a famine, which I shall now resume in rotation agreeable to their dates to reply to.

It may be previously necessary for my own vindication and for your satisfaction to state some reasons for my seeming neglect in not having replied to the above mentioned letters sooner, but I trust when every circumstance of my situation [Page 281] and the state of the case is laid before you I shall be freed from every charge of in attention forwards your orders or neglect of my Duty.

The subject that they treat on, was and is still of the most serious consequence; and it has engrossed much of my attention; more especially as you have so strongly recommended it to my particular attention, and it was necessary on this account to be particular exact, and punctual in issuing the several publication and orders received from you and the Committee of Grain respecting it which as well as the adoption of subsidiary orders and measures, must evidently and necessarily have required and taken up much of my time and indeed the whole of that part, that could be applied independent of the consideration of the other duties of my station.

[Page 282]

On receipt of your first Letter of the 13th of October ….Pewannahs were issued and Mohuleas taken from the zemindars and farmers or their vakeels at the Sudder for the procurement of the account of all deposits of grain and otherwise to comply with the particulars of your orders contained in the fourth paragraph of the same letter.

In consequence of your requisition in the 5th paragraph I had issued an order to Mr Robert Beeby Clerk of the Marketts, who is considered under my [Page 283] authority to make me daily reports of the Price of Grain in the publick markets but upon enquiry and consideration; I found I had but one Publick Bazar under my authority in any the least degree, which is the Calcapore Bazar and this is more immediately under the Management of Mr Gauntforth, so that I could not consistently interfere to procure or regulate the Prices of Grain and forward them to you, agreeable to your Direction.

In answer to your Letter of the 17th of October I beg leave to inform you that I have as [Page 284] as yet only received of two or three persons who have arrived from the upper countries in consequence of the dreaded famine in those parts, and those seek for servitude and are not inclined to turn cultivators of land; when any others you may rest assured your instructions respecting them will be duly complied with.

I have issued Pewannahs to the Zemindars and Farmers requiring of them an account of all unoccupied and uncultivated lands, as I find from my Dewan and amlah such information is only to be obtained from them.

Publications and Perwannah throughout the Districts under my charge have been issued stuck up at each Mofusil Cutcherry agreeable to the terms of the Hon'ble Board resolutions enclosed in the above mentioned letter for the abolition of all Duties, upon every sort of Grain, and they were delivered into the Charge of [Page 285] Hircarrahs to see them properly circulated your further injunctions on this subject will strictly and duly be attended to.

[Page 305]

Having stated the foregoing circumstances to you it is incumbent on me on the Strength of your indulgence to point out how the defect may be essentially remedied and I am fully convinced if the following measures

[Page 306]

1stly that the Hon'ble Governor General and Council may appoint a Company's servant as Superintendent of Grain for the whole division of Moorshedabad to correspond with and receive instructions from the Committee of Grain.

2ndly that he may be vested with exclusive and independent authority of the Revenue officers and the Collector of Government Customs of the Division in the Business and Subject of Grain.

3rdly that he may have an immediate control over the city and environs of Moorshedabad Cossimbuzar, Berhampoor Calcapoor, Bogmangolah and all the Bazars & Gunges throughout the division of Moorshedbad as far as concern matters of Grain.

4thly that the Superintendent of Grain do chiefly reside in or near the City of Moorshedabad.

5thly that he may be allowed a Derogah whose chief [Page 307] chief duty must be to visit the Bazars and Gunges in and about the City daily or as of then in the week as possible to take an account of the Markett Prices of Grain, and the Superintendent himself shall visit them twice a month atleast or oftener if he thinks necessary to see that there is aplenty and free circulation of Grain and that the Price is not at any time unwarrantably or unreasonably enhanced. The Derogah should also visit Bogwangolah the principal Mart & Gunge of the Division twice in every month to take the account of actual deposits and regulate the price at that place.

6thly the Superintendent may be required to take an immediate account of all deposits of Grain in all the principal gunges Bazars and Golahs and in all the Smaller Bazars and gunges in this division and that he may be otherwise required to attend and conform to the regulations & orders [Page 308] 7thly, that no indulgence or permission may be granted to any Publick Officers of Government whether European or native employed in the Commercial, Judicial or Revenue line for the erection of Golah for the lodgment of rice, for the use of the Servants of their department but that an entire prohibition may be made to such a measure.

8thly, that he may be restricted from every other interference in the Mofusil, but as above described or the Mofusil revenue amlah & when he finds occasion and necessity to question the conduct of any of them with respect to the business of grain, that he may be directed to make an application to the Superintending Revenue Officer of District [Page 309] of which the Person is an inhabitant who shall be obliged to produce him to the Superintendent of Grain.

Having submitted this rough sketch for your consideration in which no doubt you will find room for improvement I shall conclude this subject with assurances that from every possible enquiry I have been able to make or information obtained there is evidently no scarcity of Grain; but enough in store throughout the Country for the subsistence of the Inhabitants for near two years at least.

The following monthly establishment of expence which has been necessarily incurred on account the Business of my Circuit I flatter myself you will not think at all reasonable and that you will favor me with your sanction to have it charged in my Monthly account till it is completed.

[Page 310]
I am &ca
E. Fenwick
This is a selection from the original text


authority, crops, rain, rice, settlement, zamindar

Source text

Title: Proceedings of the Committee of Revenue, 1st-8th July, 1784

Original date(s) covered: 1784

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1784

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 116 to 120
  • 2 ) pages 120 to 121
  • 3 ) pages 280 to 285
  • 3 ) pages 305 to 310


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

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