James Talboys Wheeler.

Early records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio online

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Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 11 of 33)
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point of view. He, moreover, records his own ex-
periences of the English at Bombay. The narra-
tive may prove an interesting introduction to the
story of the proceedings of the Moghuls in the
Carnatic, as told in the Madras records : —

" Every year one of the Emperor's ships went from Surat Moghul ships,
to the house of God at Mecca. There was no larger ship at
Surat. It carried Indian goods to Mocha and Jedda. It
brought back to Surat fifty-two lakhs of rupees in gold and
silver, or more than half a million sterling. Ibrahim Khan
was captain. It carried eighty guns and four hundred
muskets, besides other implements of war.


En{,'iisii viratos. « Tliis royal ship bad come within eight or nine days of
Surat, when an English ship came in sights of much smaller
size, and nothing a third or fourth of the armament. When it
came within gunshot, the royal ship fired a gun at her. By
ill luck the gun burst, and three or four men were killed by
its fragments. About the same time, a shot from the enemy
struck and damaged the mainmast, on which the safety of
the vessel depends. The Englishmen perceived this, and
being encouraged by it, bore down to attack, and drawing
their swords, jumped on board their opponent. The Christians
are not bold in the use of the sword, and there were so many
weapons on board the roj'al vessel, that if the captain had
made any resistance they must have been defeated. But as
soon as the English began to board, Ibrahim Khan ran down
into the hold. There were some Turki girls whom he had
bought in Mocha to be his concubines. He put turbans on
their heads and swords in their hands, and excited them to
fight. These fell into the hands of the enemy, who soon
became perfect masters of the ship. They transferred the
treasure and many prisoners to their own ship. When they
had laden their ship, they brought the royal ship to shore
near one of their settlements, and busied themselves for a
week searching for plunder, stripping the men and dis-
honouring the women both old and young. They then left
the ship, carrying off the men. Several honourable women
threw themselves into the sea to preserve their chastity, and
some others killed themselves with knives and daggers.

Mogimi tiireats. " This loss was reported to Aurangzeb, and the news-
writers at Surat sent some rupees which the English have
coined at Bombay, with a superscription containino- the name
of their impure King. Aurangzeb then ordered that the
English factors who were residing at Surat should be
seized. Orders were also given to Itimad Khan, Superintend-
ent of the port at Surat, to make preparations for besieging
the fort of Bombay. The evils arising from the English
occupation of Bombay were of long standing.


" The Encrlish were not at all alarmed at these threatcniuirs. Preparations of

T. -1 1 • 1 -1 T 1 the l!:iigli8li.

But they were more active than usual in building bastions
and walls, and in blocking up the roads, so that in the end
they made the place quite impregnable. Itimad Khan saw
all these preparations, and came to the conclusion that there
was no remedy, and that a struggle with the English would
result only in a heavy loss to the customs revenue. He
made no serious preparations for carrying the royal order into
execution, and was not willing that one rupee sliould be lost
to the revenue. To save appearances, he kept the English
factors in confinement, but privately he endeavoured to effect
an arrangement. After the confinement of their factors, the
English, by way of reprisal, seized upon every Imperial
Officer, wherever they found one, on sea or on shore, and
kept them all in confinement. So matters went on for a
long time.

" During these troubles I (Khafi Khan) had the misfor- Khafi Khan's
tune of seeing the English of Bombay. I had purchased ^'"^ "^ °"' ^^'
goods at Surat to the value of nearly two lakhs of rupees,
and had to convey them along the sea shore through the
possessions of the Portuguese and English. On arriving at
Bombay, but while I was yet in the Portuguese territory,
I waited ten or twelve days for an escort. The merchant for
whom I acted had been on friendly terms with an Englishman,
i. e., the Governor of Bombay, and he had now written to
the Englishman about giving assistance to the convoy. The
Englishman sent out his vakeel [/'. e., messenger], very kindly
inviting me to visit him. The Portuguese captain and my
companions were averse to my going there with such valuable
property. I, however, put my trust in God, and went to the
Englishman. I told the vakeel that if the conversation,
turned upon the capture of the ship, I might have to say
unpleasant things, for I would speak the truth. The vakeel
advised me to say freely what I deemed right, and to speak
nothing but the truth.

" When I entered the fortress {i. e., at Bombay) I observed Rombay castic.
that from the gate there was on each side of the road a


line of youths of twelve or fourteen years of age, well-dressed,
and having excellent muskets on their shoulders. Every step
I advanced, young men with sprouting beards, handsome and
well-clothed, with fine muskets in their hands, were visible
on every side. As I went onwards, I found Englishmen
standing, with long beards, of similar age, and with the
same accoutrements and dress. After that I saw musketeers,
young men well-dressed and arranged, drawn up in ranks.
Further on, I saw Englishmen with white beards, clothed,
in brocade, with muskets on their shoulders, drawn up in
two ranks, and in perfect array. Next I saw some English
children, handsome and wearing pearls on the borders of
their hats. In the same way, on both sides, as far as the
door of the house where he (the Governor) abode, I found
drawn up in ranks on both sides nearly seven thousand mus-
keteers, dressed and accoutred as for a i*eview.
Bombay " I then wcnt straight up to the place where he was seated

on a chair. He wished me ' good day, ' his usual form
of salutation, then he rose from his chair, embraced me, and
signed for me to sit down on a chair in front of him. After
a few kind enquiries, he enquired why his factors had been
placed in confinement. I gave him to understand that it
was on account of the capture of the royal ship. He
replied, ' those who have an ill-feeling against me cast upon
me the blame for the faults of others ; how do you know
that this deed was the work of my men ? ' 1 told him that
* there were English on board that were in his service. '
He said those Englishmen had deserted him and turned
Mussulmans, and afterwards had gone away and joined the
pirates. I thanked him for his explanation."

1 Khafi Khau translated by Professor Dowson in Elliot's History of
India, Volume VII. The Professor has done good service in translating this
work. I had formed a poor opinion of Khafi Khan for the undeserved praise
he bestowed on Shah Jehan, But other contemporary writers of undoubted
integrity, have taken the same favourable view out of pity for the misfortunes
of that ill-fated sovereign. Professor Dowson's translation proves that Khafi
Khan is at least honest, and not a court scribe. Many of the new facts he
has brought to light are confirmed by European authorities.


Tlie procecdincrs of the Moffliuls at Madras were demands of the

i- ^ O Moslml on

of an equally violent character. The following «"^^™*"^ i''''-
extracts from a letter, addressed by Governor Pitt to
Nawab Daiid Khan, explains the nature of Aurung-
zeb's demand from a European point of view : —

" To His Excellency Daiid Khan.

" This moruing- our Moollah came to me, who shews me
the copy of an order said to be from the great Asad Khan,
charging all Europeans with piracy, and that by a writing"
they are answerable for the same. We have been informed
that there was such a writing extorted from the English,
French, and Dutch at Surat, which amongst us is of no
value, being forced from us ; nor will the same be regarded
more particularly by us, who have been so great sufferers
ourselves ; and besides, our King have not been at so little
charge as two hundred thousand pagodas to extirpate those

" Your Excellency said to the Moollah that you care not
to fight us, but are resolved if possible to starve us by stop-
ping all provisions. We can put no other construction on
this, than declaring a war with all Europe nations, and ac-
cordingly we shall act. Dated in Fort St. George, 6th
February, 1702.

Thomas Pitt.''

Next day Madras was in some trepidation. The commotions at

•^ ^ Madras.

following extract from the " Consultations " shows
the agitation which prevailed amongst the na-
tives : —

Saturday/, 7th. — " This day the Nawab's forces plundered
our out-towns of some straw and paddy, and drove away the
inhabitants ; and the poor people that lived in our suburbs
and Black-town, being so intimidated by the approach of the
Moors army, and the preparations we made for our defence,
several thousands deserted us; and the farmers of the
tobacco and betel complaining that they could not collect


the revenues by reason of these troubles, and more parti-
cuhuly betel being stopped, which would in a few days oc-
casion great clamours amongst the inhabitants ; so that for
the encouragement of all to steal it in, we have ordered that
the farmers cease from collecting these revenues till the
troubles are over. "
Romoiistrancc of TliG foUowiiig Gxtract Is talvGn from another

Governor Pilt. ^

letter of Governor Pitt to Nawah Daiid Khan : —

" We have lived in this country nearly one hundred years,
and never had any ill designs, nor can Your Excellency, or
any one else, charge us with any ; and it is very, hard that
such unreasonable orders should be issued out against us only,
when they relate to all Europeans, none excepted as I can
perceive; and whether it be for the good of your kingdom
to put such orders in execution. Your Excellency is the best

" We are upon the defensive part and so shall continue,
remembering the unspeakable damages you have not only
done us in our estates, but also in our reputation, which is
far more valuable to us, and will be most resented by the
King of our nation. "
Threats of Thc followin"" Gxtracts tell their own story : —

Nawali Uii'id " ''

^''''"' Thursday, 12th Februari/ 1702.—" This day the Governor

summoned a General Council to acquaint them with what mes-
sage the Moollah had brought from the Nawab at St. Thome,
which was such rhodomantade stuff that we could hardly give
credit to it. He demanded possession of our Mint; that his
people should come into our Town and view our Godowns, and
take an account of our estates ; and that we should put one
hundred men of theirs in possession of the Black town ; and that
then he would write to the King (Aurungzeb) that we had
obeyed his order, and make an attestation in our behalfs, unto
which we must wait an answer. Otherwise he would fall in
upon us, and make us surrender by force of arms, and cut us
all off. He also told the Moollah that if we were merchants,
what need had we of such a Fortification and so many Guns;-
which is anarirumcnt which has been much used bv the New


Company's servants, since their droppinq- into this country ;
and, as we have been informed, the same has been urg-ed to
the King" and the great men of the Kingdom at the Camp.

" It was agreed that no answer be returned to this message,
as not being worth our taking notice of, but tacitly to defy
their threats."

JFednesdaj/, Slh April 1702. — '''The Nawab and his army siege of Madras,
having lain here a considerable time, stopping all trade and February to
provisions, and very much increasing the Company's charges, ^" "
which has not only been very prejudicial to the Company in
their trade and revenues, but likewise to the whole place in
general; and finding now that they decline very much in tlieir
demands, which we impute to the advice they have that the
merchants' demands at Surat are satisfied ; we have thought
fit, to prevent greater inconveniences, to employ our Selim
Beague, an inhabitant of this town, to offer them the sum of
18,U0U Rupees ; provided they deliver up to our merchants the
goods and money they have seized belonging to this place and
Fort St. David ; which sum of 18,000 Rupees, considering the
veiy long time they have been here, we believe will be no
inducement for him to come again, or any of his successors
hereafter ; and accordingly it is agreed that the President pays
the said sum upon the terms aforesaid, and not otherwise."

Sunday, 3rd May 1702. — " The Nawab and King's Officers The English
having lain before this place upwards of three months, and '**''^'^ *"™*-
interdicted all manner of trade and provisions coming into
this place \ the latter growing dear make it uneasy to the
inhabitants ; and there having been some overtures of ac-
commodation from the enemy, whicii the Governor has been
daily importuned by all sorts of people to accept of, occa-
sions his summoning this General Council ; whom he ac-
quainted with every particular as entered after this consulta-
tion. Which being debated, it was agreed much by the
majority that the proposals be accepted of; and that the
same be negociated and settled by Chinna Sera])a and Narraiu,
acquainting the Governor from time to time what progress
they make therein.'^



DitidKhan " Wliercas by a late ovdei' fVom the King- all trading' and

raises the siege, pro^igio^g ^^ith tlie English has been interdicted at Fort
St. George and Fort St, David, we the Nawab and Dewan
do now reverse the said ordex*, and do grant them free liberty
to trade in all places as heretofore they have done, without
let or molestation; and to confirm the same to our people, do
promise to give them our perwannas directed to all Foujdars,
Killadars, Corrodees, Deshais, Destramokys, Poligars, and
inhabitants of all places whereto they trade, to be carried by
our Chobdars.

" That whatever moneys, etc., have been taken away, either
upon the roads or in towns, or in any place whatever, said
moneys, etc., shall be returned to the value of a cowry, and
our merchants set at liberty.

" That the Villages, and all that has been taken from them,
shall be returned, and due satisfaction made for all damages
according to account.

"And whereas their trade has been stopped by the King's
order, goods and moneys seized, it is requisite that an order
from the King be procured to revoke the former, which we
oblige ourselves to do ; and upon compliance with the afore-
said articles, twenty thousand Rupees is to be paid by the
English to the Nawab, and five thousand privately to the
Dewan ; of which sums half is to be paid upon clearing the
Villages, returning the gram they have there seized, taking
off" the stop on trade and provisions^ and sending the Chobdars
to the aforesaid officers with perwannas to all parts of the
country ; whereby to order our trade to be as free as for-
merly, and to restore all goods which were seized, and now
lie in St. Thome ; and when the whole business is completed
the English to pay the other half."

Tuesday f 5th May 1702. — " The siege raised \''
Death of VTilliam the Third died on the 8th March 1702.

William III.

KnTuue""' '^lie news did not reach Madras until the following


September, when Queen Anne was proclaimed with
the following ceremonies ; —

Thursday, 17th September. — " In pursuance to an order
of Cousultatiou, the flag was early this raorniug hoisted, and
at eight o'clock was lowered, when there was two volleys
small shot and one hundred cannon discharged by the half
minute glass, for the death of our late gracious King William
the Third of blessed memory. Then the flag was again
hoisted up, when the Mayor and all the Aldermen in their
gowns on horseback, with twelve Halberteers and a Company
of Grenadiers marching before them, proclaimed our gracious
Queen Anne at the Fort Gate, Town Hall, Sea Gate, and
Choultry Gate, with many huzzas and great demonstration
of joy, with three volleys small shot and one hundred and
one pieces of cannon discharged. And in the evening the
Governor, attended by all the Gentlemen of the Council,
with the Mayor and Aldermen and several other gentlemen
in palanquins and horseback, to the Company's Bowling
Garden, where there was a handsome treat provided ; all
Europeans of fashion in the city being invited to the
same, where they drank the Queen's health, and prosperity
to Old England, with many others."

The same vear a terrible disaster befell the Em- nestmction of a

* Moghul Army.

peror Aurungzeb : —

Wednesday, 4th November. — "The President is advised
from Masulipatam that the Moghul is pitching his Camp near
some great mountains, from which of a sudden came so great
fall of waters, that it swept away about 150,000 people, with
elephants, horses, camels, and baggage, he himself narrowly
escaping." [This event is noticed by Elphinstone, who, how-
ever, reduces the number of people who perished to 12,000.]

Mr. Pitt was Governor of Madras froai 1G98 to J^^.'"*^ ''^'
1709. During this period the native town was
agitated by iutcrminablc quarrels between the right


and left hand castes, about the streets in which they
were respectively to live and celebrate their w^ed-
dings. This antagonism between the two hands is
peculiar to Southern India. The details are far too
lengthy to be introduced here. It will suffice to
say that rules were laid down for the prevention of
all such disputes for the future.

Sri)£'°"' The administration of Mr. Pitt is also distin-
guished by another circumstance. He succeeded
in establishing friendly relations with the Moghul
Court at Delhi. The circumstances were peculiar.
Aurungzeb died in 1707. The event was followed
by a terrible war between his sons. The elder
gained the victory, but was fearful lest a younger
brother should find a refuge in Madras, and make
his escape to Persia. Accordingly a friendly letter
w^as sent to Mr. Pitt, by an influential official
named Zoudi Khan. The Moghul minister pro-
fessed great kindness for the English and made a
tender of his services to the Madras Governor.
Mr. Pitt promptly asked for a firman confirming
all the privileges which had been granted by
Aurungzeb. The request was acceded to with
equal promptitude. Shortly afterwards the prince
who had caused all this anxiety was slain in battle.

Curious trade Thc UGW Padishah died in the bcEfinninEf of 1712.

report, 1712, ~ ~

Fresh wars and revolutions broke out, which
had a bad efi'ect upon trade. The following
extracts from a general letter sent by the Governor
and Council at Madras to the Court of Directors
in London furnishes some curious particulars


respecting tlie changes in trade. The letter is dated
lJ=th October 1712:—

" In obedience to your commands we shall lay before your Madras trade iu
Honours the best account we can get concerning the consump-
tion of broad cloth and other manufactures in the Moirhurs
dominions. The coarse red and green broad cloth is chiefly
used among the soldiers and ordinary Moormen for saddles,
saddle cloths, sumpture cloth, covers, beds and cushions, for
palankeens, carpets to sit upon, mantles to cover them from
the rain and sometimes covering for their tents of pleasure.
The fine broad cloth as scarlet, aurora^ some blue and yellow
is used for the inside of tents, for vests or mantles in the
rainy season among the great men ; covering cloths for the
elephants and hackarys ; cloth to hang round their drums ;
for shoulder and waist belts, scabbards to their swords and
daggers; for slippers and for covers, beds and pillows, and
for palankeens. The embossed cloth is used to hang round
the bottom on the inside of the great men^s tents three feet
high ; for spreading to sit upon, and cushions to lean
against ; and for cloths to cover the elephants and horses.
Perpetuanos are only used among the meaner sort of people
for caps, coats, and covering cloths to sleep in during the

" And now we are upon this subject, we must inform
your Honours that at least nine-tenths of the woollen manu-
factures vended in these parts is among the Moors ; the
Hindus making very little or no use of them. The greatest
consumption is in the MogliuFs camp, which, when at Lahore
or Delhi, is supplied wholly from Surat and Persia; but
when at Agra, partly from Surat and partly from Bengal
by way of Patna, from which ports the conveyance to the
camp is easy and safe. But what is disposed of hereabouts
is dispersed among the Nabob's flying armies in the Caiyiatic
country, Bijapore and Golcondah, seldom reaching so far as
Aurungabad, because the carriage is very changeable, and the
roads are difficult and dangerous to pass. When King Shah


Alum' came down to GolcoiulaU with his army in the year
1708 to destroy his brother Kam Bakhsh, we immediately
found a quicker vent than ordinary for our broad cloth ;
and indeed for all other sorts of goods consumed among
them. And when Daiid Khan was formerly Nawab of
these parts, he always kept a good body of horse in
pay, which obliged the neighbouring Governors to do the
same, being always jealous of each other. And among
these horsemen by much the greatest quantity of our
broad cloth then imported was consumed, the trade
from this place to their camps being very considerable.
But now our Dewan, who is Subah of all this country,
seldom keeps above five hundred horse with him ; and the
Government in general being grown much weaker than in
Aurungzeb's time, none of the great men keep up the
number of horse allowed by the King, but apply the money
to their own use ; and this has brought a considerable
damp to our trade in general, but more especially upon
the sale of your manufactures. For we have not only lost
the camp trade, but the roads are become impassable for
want of these horsemen to scour them as usual ; so that the
merchants are discouraged from coming down with their
money and diamonds to buy up and carry away our Europe
and other goods as formerly ; and we cannot see any likeli-
hood of better times till the Government is well settled and
some active man em]:)lo3red on the Government of these

Later records. TliG Madras rccords of a later date contain little
matter that will interest general readers. Between
the years 1717 and 1720 a Mr. Collet was Gover-
nor. At tliis period the English at Madras pos-
sessed slaves in considerable numbers. Many kept
slave girlSj and two charity schools were built for the

* This Kiug or Padishah is known in history hy the name of Bahadur
Shah. He was the sou aud successor of ^uruiwzcb.


cliildren of these slaves. There are many allusions
to these slaves in the records, but nothing of perma-
nent interest. A good understanding prevailed be-
tween the English at Madras and the Nawab of
Arcot, and on one occasion Mr. Collet had the
honour of entertaining the minister of the Nawab,
just as Mr. Pitt had entertained Daiid Khan.

Mr. Collet's administration is also remarkable n.an-cs in

marriage laws.

for a change in the marriage laws laid down by
Mr. Streynsham Masters. The following extracts
explain themselves : —

Thursday^ 2nd April 1719. — '^ The President represents
tliat the Portuguese priests of St. Thome had very lately-
taken the liberty to marry some Eng-lish people belong-ing to
this city without leave; which practice he apprehended to be
of dangerous consequence ; many of the young- Gentlemen in
the Company's Service being of good families in England,
who would be very much scandalized at such marriages as
were like to be contracted here, without the consent of the
President; particularly that one Crane, late chief Mate of
ship " Falconbridge,'' was married to a Frenchman's daughter
of this place on Sunday last ; and in order to it renounced
the Protestant religion, which he had professed all his life till
within a few days before. The other was one Dutton, an
ordinary fellow, who was married a week befoi'e at St. Thome
to Ann Ridley, whose father was formerly Governor of the
West Coast. Her small fortune being in the hands of the
Church, the minister, as one of her guardians, refused his

Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 11 of 33)