The Early Annals of the English in Bengal

About this text

Introductory notes

The Early Annals of the English in Bengal was published in 1990. It was written by C.R. Wilson. It is an account of Bengal under the British rule. Charles Robert Wilson was born in 1863. He was attached to the Indian Education Service, an erstwhile organisation dedicated to controlling educational bodies in British India. He passed away in 1904. Selections have been made from The Early Annals of the English in Bengal with an emphasis on the naval situation in Calcutta in the 18th century as well as observations regarding the city. Primary Reading Wilson, C.R., The Early Annals of the English in Bengal,Thacker,Spink &co. Secondary Reading Fryer, John, A new account of East-India and Persia, R.R.


[Page 344]

During the years 1709 to 1718.

Particulars extracted from various sources.

The Frederick; 350 tons, 70 men, 28 guns. Sailed out of the Downs, the 9th March, 1708.[i.e. 1709]

Richard Phrip, C; John Wynn, Ist M; Hawes Newport, 2nd ; James Langster, 3rd; Henry Barnard, 4th; John Bayley, P; Robert Tonge, D; 65 other officers and seamen; 37 soldiers.

Passengers :—Ricd. Carleton, Henry Carleton, Ant. Burton, Kath. Seagood, Frances Holcomb, Hester Brannack, Mary Owen, Sarah Brannaok; Kath. Cooper.

[Page 345]

2. The Loyall Bliss. Sailed out of the Downs the 8th March, 1708 [i.e 1709].

Robert Hudson, C; John Sparrow, 1st M; John Alisinor, 2nd ; James Naish, P; Zachari Hicks, 3rd; John Pennin, 4th; William Penyooat, D; 68 other officers and seamen; 40 soldiers.

Passengers:— Cook the gunner and his wife, two daughters and a son.

3. The Hallifaz. Sailed out of the Downs the 9th March, 1708 [ie 1709].

Henry Hudson, G; John Crowther, Ist M; Eobert Wynn, 2nd; Gerard Collier, 3rd; Henry Glegg, 4th; Eichard Davenport, P Oliver Colt, D; 66 other officers and sailors; 39 soldiers.

The St. Georce; 450 tons, 90 men, 30 guns- Mustered at Portsmouth, the 10th January, 1709 [ie 1710], by Mr. Blakley

Samuel Goodman, C; James Courtney 1st Mate; Thomas Towton, 2nd; James Lawrence, 3rd; George Willmore, 4th; Nicolas Trevethan, 6th; Thomas Stewart, D; 91 other officers and sailors; 44 soldiers.

Passengers :—Robert Brooke, writer, Mr. Stone.

[Page 383]


On the 26th Nov- 1712 the writer anchored in 4 fathoms near 'Kedgery ' river and was visited in a ' Willock ' by ' Cojey Surratt a merchant and prime factor of that nation [Armenian] resident in Calcutta ;he Brought with him his tusick consisting of a Georgian violin, two small kettle drams and the like number of Hautboys with which he entertained us; the instruments were costly and of curious, workmanship, to the violin the drams were added in concert, assisted with the voice of the musicians, whose ill tun'd notes and imperfect cadence made most lamentable discord.

When they had sufficiently persecuted our ears with this melodious piece of concise harmony, the hautboys went to work; one running to the pitch of double Gamut whilst the other served as a drone, they playing upon them with such vehemency and force, which beating upon the drum of my ear so benumm'd my senses that I could hear nothing than the discharge of a demi culverin; they kept us up pretty late, and about 2 in the morning returned aboard their ship in order to proceed on their voyage.

[Page 384]

After passing 'Roages river' tho writer came to 'Tana, a great town to the larboard side of the river, having for its defence a large brick fort to the river, with four round bulwarks;' he describes the 'Cheeky ,' and then continues

'Having passed this piece of defence with a fine easy gale near two leagues we opened Calcutta our desired port; it gratifying us with, a most agreeable prospect which when we were come its length we dropt anchor before the fort, saluting the garrison with 7 guns, who returned us the like compliment.'

The succeeding paragraphs give an account of the writer's short stay in Calcutta

I shall not here enter into a description of the remarkables in Calcutta, seeing my abode of 4 days there hath not furnish'd me with a sufficient supply, but shall only inform you on my arrival I paid my respects to the Governor (John Eussel Esqr- to tender him an offer of my service, which he told me he would take into his consideration, upon which taking my leave I repaired to my brother officers of the military, who entertained me with abundance of civility, among them was my good friend Captain Hercules Courtny, a gentleman that had been very serviceable to the Company in the wars at Fort S' David, but had run through the same misfortune as myself, being cashier'd a little before me at Madderass, he coming hither for employ, but meeting with disappointments laid hold of the opportunity of going up to Hugley, where the Moors were embroiled in a war, he entering into the service of Juda Con managed the face of affairs so well that it much enlarged his credit, receiving from the Nabob several rich presents for his good service, tho' not so much as was before promis'd him, upon which in a disgust he left them, and was but lately arrived at Calcutta.

Three days being expired I went to know his honours mind, who ingenuously told me he had no vacancy, all his commissions being full otherwise he would give me service, but advised me to go home on board one of the Europe ships. I answered I had not a hundred Pagodas to pay for my passage and seeing I could not now go home to my friends handsomely, I was resolved to stay in India till I could, or necessity forced me to the contrary; so would have taken my leave of the Grovernor but he called me back [and] would oblige me seeing he had not service for me to give him my word of honour I would not take up service under the Moors; I answered I might as well give him the same that I would receive no sustenance for a twelvemonth, for seeing as in duty bound I had first made proffers of service to my country, which they not accepting I held myself no longer obliged, but was at my free liberty to go take service where I pleased, so that those whom I served were no enemies to my King and Country.

He replied all this is reasonable but then these nations among whom we dwell being ignorant of the law of arms, and the recourse of Englishmen to side with either party might be detrimental to the Company's affairs.

I return'd his honour was only capable of remedying the ills that might thereby accrue, and that to sustain this mortal body bread was required, which it the Company would not give me I should (with his honour's leave) go to them that would; so accordingly taking my leave I went to inform Captain Courtany [Page 385] of my success, who advised me by all means to go up to Hugley, and take service under the Emmer of Bengal, giving me his word, if nothing of consequence inter posed he would be soon up after me; we passed the time with various discourse upon that subject and at parting he gave me letters to Monsure Attrope, governor of the Danes factory at Gundulparra who he told me was his friend.

The writer then gives an account of his visit to the governor of the Danes and a description of their factory, and a short history of the war then in progress, couched in very amusing terms, the leading figures of which are 'Shalium', 'Mursed Cola Con' 'Juda Con' 'Kingcarson' 'Holy beg' 'Collbeg Con' 'Forixear ' On reaching the Dutch Factory at 'Chinchura' the writer presented his letter of introduction to Mynheer Hoffmaster, the second in Council, and stayed with him for a fortnight, during which time, he adds,

"I wrote to Captain Courtnay and received letters from him, wherein he informed me of the troubles he was in at Calcutta, the Governor designing to impede his voyage up by sending him to Madarass least he should come to the assistance of the Emlner of Bengal, which as I afterwards heard he effected."

The writer's dealings with the 'Emmer' brought him nothing but misfortune and he resolved to leave the camp. He concludes his letter with a description of 'the Chinchura, Hugley, Golgutt and the Ban dell.'

"Golgutt an English factory, subordinate under Calcutta is seated in the city of Hugley on the banks of the river, it here forming itself into a Cove, being deep water ships riding 16 and 18 fathom not a stcnes cast off shore; being landed and ascended the back you enter the factory through a large gate beauti fied and adorned with pillars and comishes in the Chanam work, and on the top of all is the flagstaff fixed into the brick work whereon they hoist S George's flag; being entered the gate you come into a small Court yard, on the right hand being a row of apartments, and on the left a Viranda for the guard; you ascend into the house by steps, having under it two square cellars with staircases to descend ; the hall is indifferent large, besides two indifferent apartments with chimneys there are other rooms and closets in the house, the whole consisting but of one story.

Behind the house is a garden, in which grows nothing but weeds, in the middle is an ugly well, and at one corner upon the wall is built a round sort of a business like a sentry box, but much larger, you ascend it by a narrow Chenum staircase, which have no rails or fence to keep you from tumbling into the garden, and when entered you see nothing worth observation having a door but never a window tho' it yields an excellent echo, it being contrived as I have been informed as a magazine for powder.

[Page 386]

At the end of the garden are the ruins of several apartments the roofs being fallen in, and indeed all the outhouses are in the like condition of which there are several, you may ascend to the top of the factory by an old wooden staircase which is well terras'd with seats all round and a small oblong place included by its self, from whence you have a prospect of the river; to conclude it is an old, ugly, ill contrived edifice wherein is not the least spark of beauty, form, or order, to be seen, being seated in a dull melancholy hole enough to give one the Hippocondra by once seeing it; the Company have no factor at present that is resident here, being left in the charge of a Molly and two or three Punes, tho' in truth it is hardly worth looking after."

This is a selection from the original text


body, duty, factory, gunpowder

Source text

Title: The Early Annals of the English in Bengal

Author: C.R. Wilson

Publisher: W. Thacker & Co.

Publication date: 1900

Original date(s) covered: 1709-1718

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Internet Archive: Original date(s) covered: 1709-1718

Digital edition

Original author(s): C R Wilson

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) selections from Ships for Bengal, pages 383-386


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 > non-fiction prose > travel narratives and reports

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