Calendar of Persian Correspondence, Vol.IV: 1772-1775

About this text

Introductory notes

Calendar of Persian Correspondences was published under the supervision of the Imperial Records Department. The Imperial Records Department was founded in 1891 at Calcutta, to examine and catalogue records of various governmental departments. C.R. Wilson who became the officer in charge of the Department conceived the scheme of publishing the entire series of Persian records. These Persian correspondences formed some of the oldest documents pertaining to the East India Company. The Calendar was to present a summary version of the correspondences between the East India Company and 'Indian rulers and Notables'. The first volume of the Calendar of Persian Correspondences during the tenure of E. Denison Ross as officer in charge of the Imperial Records Department in 1911. In 2013 Mushirul Hasan, the Director-General of National Archives of India took initiative to republish the Calendar. With introduction from two contemporary historians, Sanjay Subramaniam and Muzaffar Alam the series of Calendar of Persian Correspondence was published by Primus Books, New Delhi.

The fourth volume of Calendar of Persian Correspondence covers the years between 1772 to 1775. The fourth volume was published in 1925. The selections from the volume highlight on the impact of the Famine of 1770-71 and introspections by the Company on the factors responsible for the ravages caused by the famine.

Selection details

The fourth volume of Calendar of Persian Correspondence covers the years between 1772 to 1775. The fourth volume was published in 1925. The selections from the volume highlight on the impact of the Famine of 1770-71 and introspections by the Company on the factors responsible for the ravages caused by the famine.

[Page 2]

1. Apr. 21, 1772

7. To Nawab Shuja'u'd-Daulah. Refers to the Nawab's letter to Mr Curtier about the request he had made to General Barker for a brigade of the Company's troops and the explanation given for not communicating with the Governor on the subject. Points out that although the English troops stationed at Benares have orders to assist the Nawab in case there are disturbances in his dominions, the interests of the Company being inseparable from those of the Nawab it was not proper to have asked General Barker for a brigade of their troops without informing the Governor. General Barker acceded to his request since it was made so pressingly. Now that the rains have set in, it, is not likely that for some months there will be any disturbances in his country, and there will thus be no need for the Company's troops to move. It is however prudent that there should be no lack of preparations for cases of emergency. Instructions have therefore been issued to General Barker to hold himself in readiness to march the troops under him to the assistance of the Nawab whenever called upon to do so. As regards the Company's troops that are now with the Nawab, requests that in case their services are not required at the present moment, they may be allowed to return to the province of Behar the defence of which is weakened by their absence. Moreover their presence in the Nawab's country entails expenses on him that can very well be avoided. As regards the expenses that have already been incurred on that head, General Barker has been instructed to speak to him.

[Page 6]

2. May 22, 1772

33. To Nawab Muhammad Riza Khan. Sends a translation of the charges framed against him by the Court of Directors in their letter dated 28 Aug. 1769:—(1) That during his zamindari of Jahangirnagar (Dacca) he realized large sums of money, being balances of revenue, and never paid them into the Treasury. (2) That for three years he granted sanads to merchants for trading in salt although he knew that this was against the Company's orders. The result was that the Company's revenue suffered. (3) That he oppressed the people of Bengal and committed acts of injustice. For instance in the famine of 1769 when boats laden with rice and other foodstuffs were proceeding to Murshidabad, he stopped them, and having forced the owners to sell him the rice at 25 to 30 seers for the rupee he resold it to the people at 3 or 4 seers for the rupee. (4) That in ahuse of the trust placed in him as Naib Diwan of the Company, he raised very considerable sums of money by unjust means and appropriated them to his own use. (5) That he never gave an account of the large sums of money that were annually paid through him to Nawabs Najmu'd-Daulah, Saifu'd-Daulah and Mubaraku'd-Daulah for the up-keep of their household and expenses on their dependants and soldiery.

[Page 12]

3. Jul. 5, 1772

52. To Raja Kishan Chand. Has received the Raja's letter intimating that he has safely arrived at Cossimbazar, and that he has had to struggle through heavy rain and storm. As requested hy him, has written to the Chief [at Cossimbazar] to allow him tn return to his zamindari.

[Page 13]

4. Jul. 19, 1772

59. To Nawab Shuja'u'd-Daulah. Has received the Nawab's letter intimating that the Mahrattas are near his territories and desire him to surrender to them Kora, Allahabad and Benares as well as his claim on the Rohillas, that he is unable to meet these demands, and that he proposes to have recourse to arms, after the rains have subsided, and settle matters once for all. Will think over the contents of his letter and let him have a reply in due course.

[Page 14]

5. Aug. 2, 1772

63. Notification issued by the Governor in Council calling for information about persons who during the famine that lately ravaged Bengal, were guilty of having hoarded grain and sold it at exorbitant rates.

[Page 17]

6. Oct. 5, 1772

84. To Nawah Shuja'u'd-Daulah. Has received the Nawab's letter intimating that provided he agrees, it is the Nawab's intention to remove once for all the Mahratta menace, that the Nawab is not disinclined towards peace if the Mahrattas would have it but if they should continue bellicose he is prepared to meet them and proposes to march against them with the aid of the Company's troops. Points out in reply the advantages of peace in contrast to the horrors of war, adding that the late famine in Bengal and the consequent devastation of the province renders it difficult for him to help the Nawab in foreign enterprises. Moreover has no authority to allow English troops to proceed beyond the Nawab's dominions. Assures him of the Company's support in case of trouble within the limits of his territories.

[Page 18]

7. Oct. 5, 1772

92. To the King. Is honoured by His Majesty's shuqqa. His Majesty writes that in the days of Lord Clive and Mr Verelst the tribute from Bengal was sent regularly but that from the time Mr Cartier assumed the reins of office its transmission has been suspended. Says that during the administrations of Lord Clive and Mr. Verelst the country was prosperous but such is not the case now, the great famine of length having very considerably reduced the revenue. The effects of the famine are still evident everywhere: men cannot be found to cultivate the lands and the utmost misery prevails in the province. Hopes that with the advent of better times he will be able to resume the transmission to his His Majesty of the Bengal tribute. Gratefully acknowledges the receipt, through Nawab Muniru'd-Daulah, of a khil'at with jewelled sarpech and a necklace of pearls for himself together with more khil'at and jewelled sarpeches for other [English sardars.

[Page 19]

8. Nov. 26, 1772

93. To Nawab Muniru'd-Daulah. Has received several letters from the Nawab on the subject of His Majesty's commands concerning the Bengal tribute. Says that the Nawab has himself seen the effects of the famine that lately ravaged Bengal. Hopes that when there is improvement in the condition of the peasantry and the revenue is normal, arrangements will be made to resume the payment to the King of the tribute from Bengal. Will always be happy to see the Nawab who has expressed a desire to pay him a visit in Caleutta but says that it will not be nccessary to take the trouble of such a long journey. Will himself proceed in a few days in that direvtion anll hopes to have the pleasure of meeting the N awa L.

[Page 28]

9. Jan. 23, 1773

145. From the King. Has received the Governor's letter in which he acknowledges the receipt of the Royal shuqqah calling for the remittance of the Bengal tribute. The Governor says that Muniru'd-Daulah has also repeatedly written to him on the same suhject but that he is unable to collect any money at present owing to the ruin caused to the country by the late famine. He also expresses a hope that the country will soon flourish when he will have the honour of transmitting the tribute. From the previous conduct of the English sardars the King had understood that they would under no circumstance deviate from their engagement but will continue to pay the stipulated tribute regularly. It now transpires from the Governor's letter that although he is fully aware of the monetary difficulties of His Majesty he has still failed to adhere to the terms of the treaty which in no way justify him to withhold the tribute. Probably designing men and liars have poisoned the Governor's ears. Will send a letter to Europe giving an account of this affair and demanding an explanation. Desires the Governor to act with promptitude and send the tribute as before. In view of His Majesty's present difficulties the Governor ought to have made an addition to the stipulated tribute instead of withholding its transmission altogether, as he has done.

[Page 33]

10. Feb. 12, 1773

172. From Nawab Shujau'd'-Daulah. Colonel Champion reported that he had been desired by the Governor to send an English battalion with the requisite number of officers from his brigade to Allahabad and to collect grain in the fort there. In view of the danger Which which his forces as well as those of the Company were threatened, did not think it advisable to part with a battalion from the Colonel's brigade, but despatched one of his own battalions with muskets, 500 additional men with both muskets and matches, 4 large pieces of artillery and 4 small ones to the fort of Allahabad. Thus there is now a force of 3,000 men there and provisions enough to last for 4 months. The Colonel has been asked to appoint his own officers to the command [Page 34] of the battalion. Having left Fyzabad has now reached the banks of the Ganges on the other side of Cawnpore. After making a bridge of boats he will remain there in order to repel attacks on Allahabad, Kora and Kara. Is not actuated by any warlike motives but has been obliged to take this course in defence of his own dominions. It is known to all that Kora, Kara and Allahabad were formerly in his possession but were subsequently handed over to the King agreeably to the desire of the English sardars, whose pleasure and satisfaction was the foremost object of his heart. But being averse to the transfer of these places to the Mahrattas, is determined to defend and retain them in his own possession. Is confident that in keeping with the terms of the treaty the English sardars will always help him and support his cause. Najaf Khan, who is coming with the Mahrattas, has written that he wants to leave them and side with him on the field of action. The Khan has heen informed that his proposal has been accepted. Mons. Madec who has also asked leave to join him, has been permitted to do so. Colonel Champion, who was consulted, said that there was no objection to complying with Mons. Madec's request when the Gentlemen of the Council had pardoned him for his previous conduct.

[Page 34]

11. Feb. 12, 1773

173. To Nawab Muzaffar Jang [Muhammad Riza Khan]. Today the inquiry into his case was taken up in the Council. On Wednesday next the charge against him of having bought and sold rice during the late famine will be inquired into. He is requested to be Present in the Council on the aforesaid day in order to watch the proceedings.

[Page 46]

12. Apr. 2, 1773

236. From Nawab Muniru'd-Daulah. After much discussion between the Vazir and the General [Barker] it was decided that he (the writer) should devote himself to collecting the outstanding balances due from Kora and Allahabad during the season of the spring crops. Accordingly on 20 March he took his leave of the General and the Vazir and set out for Kora. Probably the Governor has been informed of this by the General. Requests the Governor to correspond frequently with him.

[Page 48]

13. Apr. 12, 1773

244. From Saiyid Muhammad ['Ali] Khan. Has been offered by Sheobans Ray Rs 260 instead of Rs 800 a month which is the amount he used to receive formerly, although he was told by the Governor at Cossimbazar that he would receive his previous salary. It is almost impossible for him to maintain himself with this sum when he found it difficult to do so even with his former pay. Requests the Governor to write to Mr Middleton and the [ Munni] Begam on the matter and thus save him from misery and want.

[Page 62]

14. May 25, 1773

324. From Nawab Muhammad Riza Khan. As an enquiry has now been set on foot with a view to examining the charge against him for monopolizing the supply and sale of grain during the late famine in Bengal, he finds it necessary to say that when a person of character is impeached it is the duty of the Government to see whether his guilt has clearly been proved or not. It has already been decided that after [Page 63] all the witnesses have given their evidence he will be allowed to defend himself. Is now surprised to learn that some of the witnesses whose depositions have not yet been recorded are about to go away to different places. Hopes orders will be issued asking them not to leave their quarters until they have given their evidence.

[Page 68]

15. Jun. 9, 1773

354. From Nawab Muhammad Riza Khan. As for the last 14 months he has been kept under surveillance he has been obliged to borrow a considerable sum of money for his subsistence. It would be very humiliating to sell the effects of his house in order to meet the demands of his creditors. Has repeatedly written to the Governor asking for a loan but received no reply. Proposes to sell his house in Calcutta. It will be quite suitable for the Company to purchase, because it is located near the Government House. If the Company are unable to pay for it at present, a bond may be given for the price of the house. Will assign it to some of his creditors on account of their dues. With regard to his own expenses he will be content with the decision of the Governor whatever it may be.

[Page 78]

16. Aug. 5, 1773

421. To Nawab Shuja'u'd-Daulah. Has received the Nawab's letter stating that incessant rain and consequent flooding of roads and swelling up of rivers have retarded his journey to Benares. Has himself had to face similar difficulties but hopes to leave Azimabad 'to-morrow' and expects to reach Benares before the Nawab arrives there.

[Page 78]

17. Aug. 6, 1773

422. From Nawab Shuja'u'd-Daulah. has despatched his tents towards Benares. Is ready to proceed there but has been detained by the incessant heavy rain. The roads are so much flooded that horses and elephants are unable to move. If the Governor arrives there a day or two before him, it is hoped he will excuse the unavoidable delay on his part.

[Page 88]

18. Sep. 1, 1773

481. From Hafiz Rahmat Khan, Chief of the Rohillas. Represents that when the King and the Mahrattas advanced with their troops and crossed the Ganges to enter his country he retired to the forests below the mountains on the Kumaon borders. At this time the Vazir and General Barker arrived at Shahabad and sent for him and he had an interview with them. An agreement was concluded by which they undertook to drive away the Mahrattas, but eventually they returned towards Fyzabad without doing anything in this respect. When the rains set in the Mahrattas crossed the Ganges and encamped in the [Page 89] Doab threatening him with hostilities. The General antl the Vazir were repeatedly invited to come to his help but to no effect. When the rainy season was drawing to an end the Mahrattas approached near the banks of the Ganges and demanded of him a sum of money which he was obliged to pay. The Mahrattas then having obtained a sanad from the King for Kora [and Allahabad] wanted him to let them pass through his territories towards Oudh. When such negotiations were going on, the Vazir and the General arrived and prevented him from entering into any terms with the Mahrattas and assured him that they would do everything necessary both for his present and future security. Enraged at this the Mahrattas plundered Moradabad and Sambhal. The Vazir and the General then promised that they would canton on the other side and drive away the Mahrattas. But they did no such thing and returned to their homes leaving him at the mercy of the Mahrattas. Has stated the facts above in the hope that the Governor will hear them in mind when the expected conference takes place [at Benares].

[Page 133]

19. Jan. 4, 1774

742. From the Raja of Burdwan. Reports that an inundation has caused great damage to the salt which was manufactured under contract for the year 1179 Fasli. An investigation in the mufassal was held and an account of the loss was made out and sent to the Khalsak. Mr Bathoe has also written to the Council on this subject. If any compensation is allowed to the manufacturers it will mean great loss to the Government.

[Page 149]

20. Feb. 23, 1774

845. From Khan Jahan Khan, Faujdar of Hooghly. Complains of the attitude of the Director of the Dutch Company. He ignores him (the writer) entirely. There are many persons who have grievances against the Dutch but he pays no heed to representations made to him on the subjects. Has received instructions from the Governor to seize the boats of grain, etc. belonging to the Dutch Company and to keep a proper check over them if they deviate from former practice. Has not yet taken any measures against them. Requests the Governor to give definite directions for his guidance and also to ask the Nawab at Murshidabad to reprimand them and issue a parwanah empoweing him to stop their boats of grain, etc.

[Page 158]

21. Mar. 5, 1774

905. From the widow of Salahu'd-Din Muhammad Khan. Says that last year she procured a 5 years' lease of the pargana of Saidpur in the name of her adopted son Mirza Muhammad. She has hitherto regularly paid her rents. During the present year she allowed the ryots a deduction for inundation and drought at great personal sacrifice. This fact is well known to Mr Charters. She lately sent her son to the pargana where he began to practise violence and oppression upon the ryots. When he was recalled he fled to Calcutta. It is now heard that he has, by underhand means, obtained the lease of this pargana for himself. Seeks the Governor's protection and requests him to continue to her the lease in her favour till the completion of the 5 years' tenure.

[Page 178]

22. Apr. 29, 1774

992. From Pahalwan Singh, an inhabitant of Gaybari. In the year 1179 Fasli the revenue of Gaybari and Jafarganj, which were dependant on the district of Purnea, was settled at Rs 1,300 and in the following year it was increased by Rs 4,000 being duties on grain, bringing the total to Rs 5,300. Hari Gangi, the lessee for whom he stood security, could not collect more than Rs 1,400 as grain duties as the merchants in the mufassal defied him. The zamindar then denied that after deducting Rs 1,400 [which had been paid] the balance should be realized by the sale of the effects of the surety. But Ramnar Singh, the zamindar's Diwan has unjustly realized from him Rs 1,400 as well. Requests the Governor to send for the Diwan, make an enquiry into the matter and recover the money which has been unjustly taken from him.

[Page 201]

23. Jun. 27, 1774

1119. Hukmnama. Dealers in rice are informed that in view of the scarcity of grain at Madras the Council there have abolishd the duties on imports till Oct. 1774.

[Page 203]

24. Jul. 5, 1774

1133. News.—The King has received intelligence that the widow of a Bairagi of Kashmir burnt herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband. All persuasion failed to make her change her mind. Before she went up to the pyre she said in answer to a question that there would be plenty of rain in the country, that grain would be cheap and the ryots happy, that the empire would flourish and that destruction awaited His Majesty's enemies.

[Page 218]

25. Aug. 9, 1774

1208. Col. Champion to the Vazir. In compliance with His Excellency's repeated requests the English brigade is held in readiness to march, though such action is highly imprudent at this time. It is very likely that a large number of troops will perish from fatigue, marching in the wind and rain, and from a scarcity of necessaries. It is believed that the Governor and Council would also refuse to countenance such a march. According to the treaty the English forces cannot go beyond Najibgarh which is the limit of the Rohilla country.

[Page 219]

Nawab Shuja'u'd-Daulah to Col. Champion. Has received his letter remarking that the march of troops [to Najibgarh], if undertaken now in the rainy season, will be attended with dire consequences and that the Governor and Council will not approve of such action either. Says in reply that it is a short march of eight or nine days, that the roads through which the army is to pass are in good condition and that there are several very large cities on the other side of Najibgarh where the troops can be suitably stationed. The Colonel need not therefore entertain any anxiety about the safety of his troops. The Governor will not resent this action because while returning from Benares he himself ordered the English troops to march back to their own country during the rains. It is to check the growth of fresh enemies and to bring his business, as desired by Mr Hastings, to a speedy conclusion that he requests the Colonel to march his troops. Has already left his cantonment and the news of his march has spread on all sides. To abandon it now will be regarded as disgraceful. Najibgarh which is on this side of the Ganges has been for a long time a part of his own country and he himself had given it in farm to Najib Khan. Therefore if the English troops go on the other side of Najibgarh they will be undoubtedly in his own country. According to the treaty the English troops shall march into every part of the Rohilla country from this side of the Ganges to the foot of the mountains (the Kumaon range of hills).

[Page 225]

26. Sep. 5, 1774

1252. From Birj Kishor Ray, Diwan of Burdwan. Reports that the apprehensions caused by the scarcity of rain were entirely removed hy a heavy rainfall which continued without ceasing for 4 days, throughout the Burdwan District.

[Page 225]

27. Sep. 5, 1774

1253. From Nawab Shuja'u'd-Daulah. Has been prevented by illness from going to Fyzabad. Faizu'llah Khan taking advantage of his being in ill health sent an army of 15 to 20,000 men against him. [Page 226] Marched from his cantonment and arrived within 15 or 20 kos of the enemy's army. Could not proceed further on account of the rains. There is now great consternation among the enemy. Will punish them according to their deserts.

[Page 240]

28. Oct. 5, 1774

1330. To the Zamindars and Mustajirs of the chaklas Hooghly and Hijili. They should at once provide the men of Commodore Sir E. Hughes with articles of food at a reasonable price.

[Page 291]

29. Mar. —., 1774

1662. Mhd Riza Khan submits a description of the past and present state of the country. Says that in the time of Nawab Mir Mhd Ja'far Khan many corruptions creeped into the administration and the revenue sustained a great loss. After the death of the Nawab, Lord Clive charged him (the writer) with the working of the government and he systematized business which was conducted efficiently and expeditiously. Says that in former times the ryots were treated kindly and when it was noticed that they were suffering from effects of drought or for other reasons a capable officer was at once sent to the spot who in conjunction with zamindars and ta'alluqdars lowered their rents and granted them new pattahs. The cultivators are fewer now than formerly owing, no doubt, to obstructions in their sale and purchase of their produce. The regulations are foreign in their nature and are not suited to local conditions and the natural dispoaition of the people. When the ryots are burdened with heavy taxes they ought to be encouraged to till more lands for which they should have new pattahs at low rates. New ryots should be provided with necessaries of life, utensils and pattahs under zamindars. Formerly the weavers, salt manufacturers, etc., enjoyed freedom in their work. The result was that every thing was produced in plenty and was sold cheap. Now they have to work under compulsion for the investments. The articles are now inferior in quality though much dearer. Again the change in the procedure of collecting revenue is detrimental to the interest of the Company. The bandobast as settled by Nawab Mir Mhd Ja'far Khan and Mir Muhammad Qasim Khan was oppressive and resulted in the decrease of revenue. Then when the Company assumed the Diwani the bandobast was made after a careful investigation and a competent man (i.e., the writer himself) being at the head of affairs the machinery worked [Page 292] smoothly. Bnt the present mode of settling the bandobast is to farm out lands to the highest bidders. The farmers fleece the ryots and general poverty results. The revenues suffer in consequence.

Justice was rendered to the people agreeable to the ancient established laws with which the people were satisfied. The ruler appointed law courts to decide all sorts of complaints. The one called 'Adalat-'Alia tried criminal cases while the other called Khalsa tried cases of a civil nature. Courts were established in every province. An appeal lay from these courts to the Sadr where the cause was ultimately determined.

This is a selection from the original text


famine, grain, rain, ravage, zamindar

Source text

Title: Calendar of Persian Correspondence

Subtitle: Vol.IV, 1772-1775

Publisher: Government of India, Central Publication Branch

Publication date: 1925

Original date(s) covered: 1772-1775

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: Calcutta

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from print at the National Archives of India. Original date(s) covered: 1772-1775

Digital edition

Original editor(s): C.R. Wilson

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 2
  • 2 ) page 6
  • 3 ) pages 12 to 14
  • 4 ) pages 17 to 19
  • 5 ) page 28
  • 6 ) pages 33 to 33
  • 7 ) page 46
  • 8 ) page 48
  • 9 ) pages 62 to 63
  • 10 ) page 68
  • 11 ) page 78
  • 12 ) pages 88 to 89
  • 13 ) page 133
  • 14 ) page 149
  • 15 ) page 158
  • 16 ) page 201
  • 17 ) page 203
  • 18 ) pages 218 to 219
  • 19 ) page 225
  • 20 ) page 240
  • 21 ) pages 291 to 292


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