Famine and Dearth

Proceedings of the Committee of Revenue, 3rd November-8th December,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.

1.

1.1.

[Page 5]
Gentlemen,

I have the honor to transmit you the Towjee, Account of the Province of Islamabad and Roshnabad for the Month of Assin 1190 or from 14th September to the 14th October 1783 also a copy of a letter received from the Resident of Tipperah.

I am & ca
James Irwin

1.2.

[Page 5]
Sir,

I have the pleasure to send you my Towjee Account fo r the Assin The Balance of 700 Rupees upon this Month's Kist is due from the Pergunnah(Mhurcool) Iriside in for the Farmer of which I am sorry to inform you I shall be under the necessity of requesting a remission of Revenue- the sudden rise of the Goomty in the last month having burst down in many places, the Banks that were raised near Sevednty years ago at a very considerable expence for the security of this and other Pergunnah contiguous to it and caused the greatest inundation that has been known for many years.

The Damage that has been sustained by this event is considerable but [Page 6] I hope not so great as has been represented to me I mean as soon as the Water has sufficiently subsided to cause a local investigation to be made when the quantity of land in cultivation that has been destroyed will be ascertained, in the mean time I have thought it necessary to encourage the farmer with the hopes of obtaining a reasonable indulgence from Government for he must not only for go the idea of collecting anything further from those Ryots whose crops have been destroyed but must make them advances for their support till next year; It is absolutely necessary too that the Banks on each side of the River should undergo a thorough repair before the next rains, or not only a great part of the revenues, of this pergunnah but of the Pergunnah Haminabad, Fitkerra & Gunga Mundul in the Dacca District may be lost.

I am & ca
R.Leeke
[Page 11]

1.3. Agreed we write to Mr. James Irwin as follows

Sir,

We have received your Letter of the 23rd Instant with its enclosures We desire that you will direct the Resident at Tipperah to enquire carefully into the Damage done by the overflowing of the Goomty and transmit an exact and particular account of it- that he also makes out an exact estimate of the expense which will be required to put the embankments of the Goomty into a proper state and transmit it without loss of time When we will take the whole into consideration and adopt such measures as shall appear necessary.

1.4.

[Page 132]
Mootetol

According to the orders of the Committee the Gentlemen of Purnea have ordered the Dutees on every kind of Grain and Provision to be taken off at Allumgunge under the above Zilah this Gunge has existed ever since the time of the Nabob Syf Khan and no Customs are ever leveed there except that the buyers & sellers paid a kind of Tax which is included in the Bundobust of the District, now the orders of the Committee do not specify [Page 133] which is to be taken off the Custom Duties on this Tax, Duties are none, and if this Tax is taken off I shall suffer a great loss I beg therefore you will be pleased to issue your particular Orders on this head.

G.Dandridge
[Page 133]

1.5. Agreed we write to Mr. Heatly as follows

Sir,

We enclose you copy of a Petition which has been presented to us by the Farmer of Purnea.

The orders which have been transmitted to you for abolishing all Duties upon Grain extend to those Duties which were Collected by the Officers of the Board of Customs upon Grain, and passing from place to place, do not affect the Taxes collected in Bazar’s & Gunges for the privilege of selling Grain in them which in fact forms a part of the Land Revenue, and is still to be collected as usual.

We are & ca

[Page 157]

1.6. Agreed the following Circular Letter be written

Sir

Under the present apprehensions of a scarcity of Grain in many of the Districts of Bengal and Beyhar it becomes necessary to obviate the Consequences of such a calamity [Page 158] not only by an immediate interposition of Government to prevent monopolies and the enhancement of the price of Grain beyond the necessity arising from a real scarcity but also to obtain through the agency of Servants of the Company the most accurate state of the resources of the Country in the event of the Calamity becoming more extensive either within the Company’s provinces or in those of the Nabob Vizier or Beneras. As a more effectual mode of acquiring the information We direct that you do immediately make a progress into the Districts under your charge and by careful and accurate enquiry ascertain the quantity of Grain now in deposit by and local observation from the best possible judgement of the state of the Crops now in the Ground and of the comparative produce of the present that of former years.

We rely on an active and zealous discharge of this Duty as well as of every other order transmitted to you by us or the Committee of Grain, and as you will necessarily be obliged to employ the Public Officers in the Mofusil and those chiefly of the lower denominations in many parts of this service. We direct that you form a Register of the names of every person you employ and bind them under the [Page 159] the strictest obligations to a faithful discharge of the duties you may acquire them to perform and make them to the most exemplary punishment in case of a contrary conduct previous to your proceeding into the Mofusil you will issue notice to all the Mundeels of the Villages to prepare and furnish you with an exact account of the Grain in store on every village and after ascertaining the truth of these reports into an account distinguishing the different Pergunnahs you will direct the Mundels to do make these Reports to you as frequently as possible and transmit abstracts of them to us and to the Committee of Grain twice in every month.

In the ____ which you are thus directed to make we require you at the same time to give strict attention to the other duties of your station, and We trust you will frustrate every attempt which may be made to diminish the Current Revenue in a pretext of failure of the Crop or by other artifices which the Renters may avail themselves at the Present period.

We are & ca

1.7.

[Page 177]
Collector of Chittagong Gentlemen,

I have the Honor to transmit you the following accounts and papers.

Charges of this Collectorship for the month of October 1783

Treasury accounts of Chittagong Collectorship for

A Price Current of Principal articles of Grain produced in the Chittagong province also a Bill of Exchange drawn on the Governor General and Council in your favor for Current Rupees 257,,6,,5.
A Receipt for Cash Disbursed on Account of the Fauzdary Establishment at Islamabad for the month of October last.

The several accounts and price Current are accompanied with Persian copies [Page 178] copies and a Letter from Kissen Kissore Churcherbutty Dewan to Gonga Goving Sing your Dewan.

I am & ca
James Irwin Collector
[Page 178]

1.8. Ordered the accounts to be sent to the proper officers

Gentlemen,

Bound by the Strictest engagements annually to repair the Embankments in Lushkerpore Bettoreah and Boosna permit me to request you will favor me with an Order on Mr Dallows to pay me the

10th of November Sa Rs 37500
On the 15th of February Rs 18750
On the 15th of May Rs 18750

Which sums I am entitled by the terms of my contract to receive at Moorshedabad on the Days above mentioned and except I receive the Money in time it may not be in my power to have the Embankments properly repaired in due time.

I am & ca
P. Touchet

1.9.

[Page 315]
Gentlemen,

I do myself the honor of informing you of my arrival in this place some days since an order to forward the business of the Collectors and prosecute an enquiry into the subjects recommended to my attention by Mr. Evelyn on his departure [Page 316] from Moorshedabad- that Gentleman in his last address apprized you of the Drought which prevailed throughout the Country and I likewise stated to you the apprehensions which were entertained of a failure in the Crop. In some places in the event of its continuance I am sorry to say it has continued with a severity that has considerably damaged the Country particularly in those Pergunnahs which being highly situated are termed Burrund. In Neez Rajeshahy it has been very severely felt and there I apprehend the revenue will suffer most hereafter I shall more fully particularise to you those places where the loss is the heaviest and submit to your consideration such measures as may appear to me conducive to their relief. The Balances against the Six Zillahs into which the District of Betereah is described on my arrival stood as follows

Chuplah 16,7001.6,,1
Sounabazar 8764.15,,12
Kuttermull 9489,,12,,6
Meemonshahy 157,87,,3.10
Amrob 18178,,3,,2
Sagatekee 9347,,3,,7

These Balances arise from various causes in some places from the assamies withholding their Rents in others from [Page 317] their inability to ____ them The Chuckladder at the Station lately represented to me the impoverished state of some of the Pergunnahs, as you well perceive by the accompanying arzee, and the impossibility of realizing this year the amount of the Jumma at which they are assessed, I shall in consequence of this representation be particular in my enquiries respecting the causes of their impoverishment and propose the visiting the Zillahs myself in order to ascertain the with greater certainty.

In your instructions to Mr Evelyn under date the 16th of April last year direct an enquiry to be made into the tenure by which Bazee Zemin Property is held as well as a general measurement of the Country for the purpose of ascertaining its real nature and discovering such lands as have either ___ secreted or unduly eliminated from the Hustabood Jumma in detriment to the rights of Government, as the latter measure will be attended with some expence I beg leave to apprize you thereof before I permit it to be carried into execution.

I am & ca
Geo. Dallas

1.10.

[Page 401]
Committee of Grain, Chief of Dacca, Collectors of Chittagong, Rungpore, Rajshy, Chief of Patna, Collectors of Rungpore, Radshy, Mr Pott, Chief of Dacca, Mr Wilkins, Collector of Houghly , Boggrie & Chief of Moorshedabad. Gentlemen,

As the great failure of rain has prevented growth of Rice in many places where the Ground had been previously prepared. We request that you recommend the appropriation of such lands to the Cultivation of Wheat which does not require so moist soil, The season admits of sowing that seed, and we hope that the Nature will avail themselves of so beneficial a plan.

We [Page 402] understand that there is a considerable quantity of this grain in and about Calcutta and doubt not but the prospect of advantage will induce the farmers to use this substitute for the Cultivation of their lands, and for a future alleviation of the apprehended scarcity.

We are & ca
George Cumming Thomas Law G Templar.

1.11.

[Page 422]
Gentlemen,

I have been honored with your letter of the 13th instant directing me immediately to make a progress into the Districts under my charge and by a careful and accurate enquiry ascertain the quantity of Grain in deposit and by local observation from the best possible judgment of the state of the Crops now on the ground and of the comparative produce [Page 423] of the present with that of former years.

I am now making the necessary preparations for executing your orders I shall ____ out on the circuit you have directed as soon as possible after the Kistbundees of the Zemindars are signed and security obtained from them for the Amount of their respective Engagements with Government, I have not hitherto succeeded in realizing any part of the Assin Kist from the principal zemindars nor can it be expected until the above mentioned Points are effected, to take the zemndars with me in my progress into the Mofussil would be distressing to the Inhabitants and detrimental to the present Business, I therefore hope you will approve of my postponing my journey for ten or twelve days when I hope the Causes which not detain me will be removed and in the mean time every possible measure shall be pursued to enable me to perform with effect the duties enjoined me.

I have the honor to be & ca
Charles Grome CollR.
This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

bazar, crops, cultivation, grain, ryot

Source text

Title: Proceedings of the Committee of Revenue, 3rd November-8th December,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 5 to 6
  • 2 ) page 11
  • 3 ) pages 132 to 133
  • 4 ) pages 157 to 159
  • 5 ) pages 177 to 178
  • 6 ) pages 315 to 317
  • 7 ) pages 401 to 402
  • 8 ) pages 422 to 423

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.

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