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 6 of 33)
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and communication, the characteristic of man, is wholly lost.
What then is to be expected here, where sordid thrift is the
only science ? After which, notwithstanding there is so
general an inquest, few there be acquire it : For in five
hundred, one hundred survive not ; of that one hundred,
one quarter get not estates ; of those that do, it has not


been recorded above one in ten years has seen bis country :
And in this difficulty it would hardly be worth a sober man's
while, much less an ing-enuous man's, who should not defile
his purer thoughts, to be wholly taken up with such mean
(not to say indirect) contemplations ; however, a necessary
adjunct, wealth, may prove to buoy him up on the surface
of repute, lest the vulgar serve him as ^sop's frogs did their
first revered deity/'

Knfriish Dr. Fryer visited Boml)av in stirring times. Sivaii

embassy to * » o tj

sivaji. -^^^ established his Mahratta kingdom in the Kon-

kan. He was preparing for his coronation as E,aja.
The English at Bombay sent an embassy to the
Raja in the hope of opening up a trade through his
dominions into the Dekhan. Fryer describes the
progress of the embassy. Sivaji held his head -quar-
ters at the great hill fortress of Uairee. At this
time he was absent on a pilgrimage. Accordingly
the Eni^lish ambassador halted at Puncharra, a town
situated at the foot of the hill. Here he had an
interview with Naraiuji Pundit, one of the Mahratta
ministers. He begged the Pundit to persuade Sivaji
of the profit that would accrue to him by the open-
ing up of the trade ; for, as the Raja had been a
soldier from his infancy, it was possible that he
paid no attention to such matters. The Mahratta
minister replied to the following effect :

'' That he doubted not but it would be effected in a short


Minist'er of State time; for that the King of Bijapur, who is owner of those
tcEng the lish. cQuntrics (from whence most sorts of wares come) being
weary of wars with his master, had sent several embassies to
conclude a peace with him ; which he thought would be made
up in two or three months, and then the ways would be free,
and the merchants have os^ress and regress as formerly.


That the Rajali, after his coronation, would act more like a
Prince, by taking care of his subjects, and endeavouring the
advancement of commerce in his dominions ; which he could
not attend before, being in perpetual war with the Great
Mogul, and King of Bijapur. This is the substance of his (the
ambassador's) discourse with Narainji Pundit, who seemed to
him to be a man o£ prudence and esteem with his master: so
after a little sitting he took his leave of him, having first pre-
sented him with a diamond ring, for which he expressed a
liking ; and his eldest son a couple of Pamerins, which are
fine mantles.

'^They continuing under their tent, found it very hot and Kairoe.
incommodious ; wherefore they were glad when they heard
the Rajah was returned from Purtabghnr, when the ambas-
sador solicited Narainji Pundit to procure his leave to pass
up the Hill into Rairee Castle : the next day they received order
to ascend the hill into the castle, the Rajah having appointed
a house for them ; which they did ; leaving Puncharra about
three in the afternoon, they arrived at the top of that strong
mountain, forsaking the humble clouds about sun-set.

" Rairee is fortified by nature more than art, being of very The luii.
difficult access, there being but one avenue to it, which is
guarded by two narrow gates, and fortified b}^ a strong wall
exceeding high, and bastions thereto : all the other part of
the mountain is a direct precipice, so that it is impregnable,
except the treachery of some in it betray it. On the moun-
tain are many strong buildings, as the Rajah^s Court, and
houses of other Ministers, to the number of about 300. It is
in length about two miles and an half, but no pleasant trees or
any sort of grain growls thereon. Their house was about a
mile from the Rajah's Palace, into which they retired with no
little content.

" Four days after their ascent, by the solicitation of Narainji Audience with
Pundit, the Rajah gave them audience, though busily em- '^"■'''
ployed by many other great affairs, relating to his coronation
and marriage. Our ambassador presented him, and his son
Sambaji Rajah, with the particulars appointed for them ;


which they took well satisfied with them ; and the Rajah
assured them we might trade securely in all his countries
without the least apprehension of ill from him^ for that the
peace was concluded. Our ambassador replied, that was our
intent ; and to that intent the President had sent him to this
Court to procure the same articles and privileges we enjoyed
in Indostan and Persia, where we traded. He answered, it
is well, and referred our business to Moro Pundit his Peshwa,
or Chancellor, to examine our articles, and give an account
what they were. He and his son withdrew into their private
apartments, to consult with the Brahraans about the ceremo-
nies preparatory to his enstalment ; which chiefly consisted
in abstinence and purifying ; till which be over, he will
hear no farther of business. They likewise departed to their
Sivaji weighed " About this time the Rajah, according to the Hindu custom,
was weighed in gold, and poised about 16,000 Pagodas, which
money, together with an 100,000 more, is to be distributed
among the Brahmaus after the day he is enthroned, who in
great numbers flock hither from all parts ©f his territories.
Grants the '' Being earnest to press on his errand he came for, the

EugUsh." ^^ ambassador sent to Narainji Pundit to know what was
transacted in the articles ; but was returned for answer : — The
Raj ail stopt his ears to all affairs, declaring he had granted
all the demands, except those two articles, expressing our
money shall go current in his dominions, and his on Bombay;
and that he shall restore whatever wrecks may happen on
his coasts belonging to the English, and inhabitants of Bom-
bay : the first he accounted unnecessary to be inserted, be-
cause he forbids not the passing of any manner of coins : nor
on the other side, can he force his subjects to take those
monies whereby they shall be losers ; but if our coin be as
fine an allay, and as weighty as the Mogul's, and other
Princes, he will not prohibit it. To the other he says, that it is
against the laws of Koukan to restore any ships, vessels, or
goods, that are driv,eji ashore by tempest, or otherwise ; and
that should he grant us that privilege, the French, Dutch,


and other raeicliauts, would claim the same right ; which be
could not graut without hreaking a custom has lasted many
ag-es : the rest of our desires he willingly conceded, embracing
with much satisfaction our friendship, promising to himself
and country much happiness by our settlement and trade :
notwithstanding Narainji Pundit did not altogether despair
of obtaining our wrecks, because we enjoyed the same privi-
lege in the Mogul and Deccan country.

"Near a month after they had been here, Narainji Pundit The Ambassador
sent word, that to-morrow about seven or eight in the morn- the coronation.
ing, the Rajah Sevaji intended to ascend his throne ; and he
would take it kindly if they came to congratulate him there-
on ; that it was necessary to present him with some small
thing, it not being the custom of the Eastern parts to appear
before a Prince empty-handed. The ambassador sent him
word, according to his advice he would wait on the Rajah at
the prescribed time.

" Accordingly next morning he and his retinue went to Coronatiou
Court, and found the Rajah seated on a magnificent throne,
and all his nobles waiting on him in rich attire ; his son
Sambaji Rajah, Peshwa Moro Pundit, and a Brahman of
great eminence, seated on an ascent under the throne ; the
rest, as well officers of the army as others, standing with great
respect. The English made their obeisance at a distance,
and Narainji Pundit held up the diamond ring that was to be
presented him : He presently took notice of it, and ordered
their coming nearer, even to the foot of the throne, where
being vested, they were desired to retire ; which they did not
so soon, but they took notice on each side of the throne there
hung (according to the Moor's manner) on heads of gilded
lances many emblems of dominion and government ; as
on the right-hand were two great fishes heads of gold, with
very large teeth ; on the left, several horses' tails, a pair of
gold scales on a very high lance's head, equally poised, an
emblem of justice ; and as they returned, at the Palace gate
stood two small elephants on each side, and two fair horses
with gold trappings, bridles, and rich furniture ; which made


them admire how they Lrouglit them up the hillj the passage
beiua: both difficult and hazardous.
TheRaj;ih " Two davs after this, the Kajah was married to a fourth

marries a fourth .«.,. iiji ii

Wife. Wife, Without state ; and doth every day bestow alms on the

sivaji sigus the " Some days after, Narainji Pundit sent word the Rajah had
Articles. signed their articles, all but that about money. Then the

rest of the Ministers of State signed them, and they went to
receive them of Narainji Pundit, who delivered them to the
ambassador with expressions of great kindness for our nation,
and offered on all occasions to be serviceable to the English
at the Court of tlie Rajah. ^'

Value of the The description of the reception bv Sivaji of an

forearoiiig *"

description. English ambassador is very valuable ; it brings the
English reader face to face with the court of the
once famous Mahratta. Strangely enough it is not
noticed in Grant Duff's Historv of the Mahrattas,

Attempts at a




WHILST the English were establishing them-
selves at Surat on the western side of India, the castem^sldc

' of India.

they made many futile attempts to effect a settle-
ment on the eastern side, known as the Coast of
Coromandel. The trade on the Coromandel Coast
was very valuable. The natives in this quarter had
brought the art of painting or dyeing calicoes to the
highest pitch of perfection. They w^re in great
demand in Europe. Above all, they were in great
demand in the countries further to the eastward ;
in Burma, Siam and the Indian Archipelago ; espe-
cially in what were known as the Spice Islands.

The English, however, wanted something more want of a tem-

mi 1 ^"""y '^^'^ fortiti-

than a factory. They wanted a territory which they '^^''o"-
could fortify. No such territory could be obtained
in the Moghul dominions. The Moghuls would
neither grant territory nor allow of any fortifica-

It would be tedious to narrate the many abortive Purchase of

•^ Madras.

attempts that the English made in this direction.



At last tliey succeeded in buying a piece of land
from a Hindu Raja. It was in the remote Penin-
sula, far away to the south and far away from the
Mosrhul frontier. It was afterwards known as
Madras. It was the first territory which the
English secured in India.

Madras founded, Madras was fouudcd in 1639. A site was chosen
on the sandy shores of the Coast of Coromandel.
The spot was hard by the Portuguese city of
St. Thome. In the sixteenth century St. Thome
was famous throughout the world of Christianity.
St. Thomas the Apostle was said to have been
martyred there. His bones were found, or were said
to have been found, in a neighbouring mount.
The city and cathedral of St. Thome were built to
commemorate the legend.^

Territory and Thc EngHsli tcrrltory of Madras was a mere
strip of land to the north of St. Thome. It ran six
miles along the shore and one mile inland. It was
exposed to the heavy surf which rolls in from the
Bay of Bengal ; but it possessed one crowning
advantage. There was a small island in the strip
facing the sea ; it was formed on the land side by
the river Koum. It was only four hundred yards
long and about a hundred yards wide ; but it could
be easily rendered secure against the predatory
attacks of native horsemen.

1 The story of St. Thomas is told in the tenth book, of the " Lusiad " of
Camoens. The " Lusiad " is a Portuguese epic composed in the sixteenth
centm-y. It is known to English readers through the poetical translation of
William Mickle.



A certain Mr. Day bought tlic strip from the wmtc Town.
Hindu llaja of Chaudragheri.' The English agreed
to pay a yearly rent of twelve hundred pagodas, or
nearly six hundred pounds sterling, for this piece
of land. They built a wall round the island. They
laid out the enclosure in little streets and alleys,
with a fortress in the centre. No one but Eu-
ropeans were allowed to live on the island. It was
accordingly known as "White Town."

There was soon a large native settlement outside Biack Town.
the island. It was inhabited by weavers and other
people of the country ; hence it was known as
"Black Town." White Town and Black Town
were both included under the name of Madras.
White Town was also called Eort St. George.^

1 The Hindu Raja of Chandragheri deserves a passing notice. His name
was Sri Eanga Raja. He was a descendant of the old Rajas of Vijayanagar,
who had been driven out of the western table-laud in the previous century.
He affected to live in state at the fortress of Chandragheri; about seventy
miles to the south-west of Madras. His suzerainty was still respected by
some of the local governors round about. The governors were called Naiks
or deputies of the Raja. The strip of seaboard, afterwards called Madras,
was within the government of the Naik of Chingleput.

Sri Ranga Raja was a genuine Hindu. Like all Hindus, he was ardently
desirous of perpetuating his family name to future ages, hi granting the
land to the English, he expressly stipulated that the English town should
be called Sri Ranga Raja-patauam, or " the town of Sri Ranga Raja." The
grant was engraved on a plate of gold. The English kept the plate for more
than a century. It was lost in 1746 at the capture of Madras by the French.

The Raja of Chandragheri was outwitted by the Naik of Chingleput.
The father of the Naik was named Chinnapa. The Naik set the Raja
defiance. He ordered the town to be called Cliinna-patanam, or " the town
of Chinnapa." The Raja was helpless. The Muhammadans were pressing
towards the south. In 1646 the Raja fled away to Mysore. The English
gave the name of Madras to their town on the Coast of Coromandel. To
this day the native people call it by the old name of Chiuna-patanam.

2 The accompanying drawing of Fort St. George in 1677 is taken from
Frver's Travels.


Early perils. The Eiiglisli at Madras were at first exposed to
great danger. The Hindu Raja was soon conquered
by the Muhammadans of the neighbouriug kingdom
of Golkonda. The officer of the Sultan of Golkonda
w^ho commanded the country round about Madras
was known as the Nawab. He was never contented
with the yearly rent ; he wanted presents and exact-
ed fines. Sometimes he laid an embargo upon all
goods and supplies going to Madras until the money
was paid. Sometimes he besieged the place. After
the walls were finished, no native army ever cap-
tured Tort St. George.

Else of Madras. ^Qr somc ycars the houses in White Town were
very few in number. The Europeans were few.
There w^ere twenty or thirty servants of the Com-
pany, and a few soldiers. The Portuguese at St.
Thome were invited to build houses at Madras ;
and many were glad to come and live under the
protection of the English guns.

Absence of Llttlc or uothiug is kuowu of Madras in those

records prior to -i ■% r

i6'0. early days. There are no records at Madras before

1670. The times, however, were very bad. In Eng-
land there was civil war, followed by the Common
wealth and the restoration of Charles the Second.
In India the advance of the Sultan of Golkonda
into the Peninsula, and the occasional inroads of
Mahrattas, were a great hindrance to the trade.
Capture of St. About 1662 a general of Golkonda captured the
jfuhammadaus cltv of St. Thomc. Numbcrs of Portuguese were

ot Golkonda. *' ^

driven out of the town. Many took refuge in


Fort St. GcorgCj and built houses there. This
Portuguese population strengthened the place for a
time, but caused much inconvenience in after years.

In the year 1672 Madras was an important place. Madras in 1672.
White Town contained about fifty houses laid out
in twelve streets. In the midst was the large
house of the Governor, where all the Company's
servants took their early dinners. Some of the older
servants were married, and lived in separate houses ;
bat all were expected to be present at dinner, and
to maintain order and decorum.

The establishment at Madras was on the same plan E«ropean

■•■ establishment.

as that at Surat, which has already been described.
The Governor or Agent was of course the first
member of Council. The Book-keeper was second in
Council ; the Warehouse-keeper was third ; and the
Customer was fourtli. The duties of these officers
may bs gathered from their names. The duties
of Customer were peculiar to the English settle-
ments. He collected all customs, rents, and other
taxes ; he also sat as Justice of the Peace in Black
Town. The administration of justice will be brought
under consideration hereafter.

The Council met every Monday and Tuesday consnitations

" * and general

at eight o'clock for the transaction of business. ''^""■^•
Everything was discussed and decided in Council.
All that concerned the Company or their servants
down to the most trifling point was duly laid before
the Council. The Secretary was always in attend-
ance. He kept a diary of all proceedings and



consultations. A copy of the diary was sent home
every year, together with a general letter review-
ing the proceedings; in reply a general letter
was received from the Court of Directors. These
records have heen preserved either in India or in
England down to our own time.
Merchants. '£]xQ mcmhers of Council were known as Mer-

Faetors, Writers,

and Apprentices, gj^^uts. Thosc uudcr thcm were graded as Factors,
Writers, and Apprentices. The salaries were very
small. The Governor of Madras drew only three
hundred pounds a year ; the second in Council drew
one hundred ; the third drew seventy ; and the
fourth only fifty. Pactors were paid between twenty
and forty ; Writers received only ten pounds, and
Apprentices only five. But all were lodged and
boarded at the expense of the Company.

The salaries were very low. They were mere
fractions of the real incomes. Fortunes were some-
times acquired by private trade. Every servant
of the Company was allowed to trade to any port
in the East, so long as he paid the custom duties
levied by the Company, and did not interfere with
the trade between India and Europe. Again, it
was impossible to prevent the receipt of presents
from native merchants and others who sold goods
to the Company. Throughout the whole period
of the Company's monopoly there were always
suspicions and complaints under this head.

In addition to the foregoing, there was a Chaplain,
on a hundred a year, who read prayers every day

Private trade
and presents.

and School-


and preached on Sundays. There was also a School-
master, on fifty pounds a year, who taught the
children in White Town. He was directed to teach
Portuguese and native children, provided they
were also taught the principles of Christianity
according to the Church of England.

The administmtion of iustice hy the Collector of A^'^ministratioa

J •' of justice.

Customs was of a primitive character. As far as
natives were concerned there was no difficulty. xA-S
Magistrate in Black Town, he flogged, imprisoned,
or fined at discretion. But Europeans were dealt
with in a different manner. The Governor and
Council became the judges ; and twelve men were
summoned to serve as jurors.

In the White Town the public peace was main- Native police.
tained by the Agent, as commander of the garrison.
In the Black Town it was kept by a native public
of&cer known as the Pedda Naik. In the early days
of the settlement, twenty native servants, known
as peons, sufficed to keep the peace. Subsequently
the number was increased to fifty. In return
the Pedda Naik was granted some rice-fields rent
free ; also some petty duties on rice, fish, oil, and
betel-nut. The office of Pedda Naik soon be-
came hereditary after native fashion. It also
drifted into native ways. The Pedda Naik and
his peons came to an understanding with the
thieves. They suffered thieves to escape on con-
dition of receiving half of the stolen goods.
They imprisoned the people who were robbed, in
order to prevent their complaining to the Agent.


The discovery led to a cliange. The Pedda Naik
was bound over to make good all losses by theft ;
and the new system seems to have worked satis-

Morals. Tlic neiglibourliood of Black Town was not

conducive to the morals of the Fort. The younger
men would climb over the walls at night time,
and indulge in a round of dissipation. There
were houses of entertainment known as punch
houses. They are still called punch houses. They
took their name from the Indian drink concocted
by the convivial Factors at Surat. As already
sbown, it was an essentially Indian drink called by
the Hindustani name which signifies "five."

Tbourielf ^^^- T^ryer visited Madras about the year 1674.

He thus describes the place and its surroundings : —

Went asiiore in « J went asliore in a Mnssoola, a boat wherein ten men

a boat called a •'

Mussooia, paddle, the two aftemiost of whom are the steers-men, using'

their paddles instead of a rudder : The boat is not strength-
ened with knee-timber, as ours are ; the bended planks
are sowed together with rope-yarn of the cocoe, and
calked with daymnar (a sort of rosin taken out of the sea)
so artificially, that it yields to every ambitious surf, other-
wise we could not get ashore, the Bar knocking in pieces
all that are inflexible : Moving towards the shore, we let
St. Thomas, which lies but three miles to the south of
Maderas, and Fort St. George in the midway Maderas river
in great rains opens its mouth into the sea ; having first
saluted the banks of Fort St. George on the west : Towards
the sea the sand is cast up into a rampire, from whence
the fluid artillery discharges itself upon tis, and we on the
shoulders of the blacks must force our way through it.

Landed, .arc well « Though wc landed wet, the sand was scalding hot, which

■wetted at Fort o ' o ■'

St. George. made me recollect my steps, and hasten to the Fort. As


it looked on the water, it appeared a place of good force.
The outwork is walled with stone a good heighth, thick
enough to blunt a cannon-bullet, kept by half a dozen
ordnance at each side the water-gate, besides an half-moon
of fire-guns. At both points are mounted twelve guns
eying the sea, Maderas, and St. Thomas; under these in
a line stand pallisadoes, reaching from the wall to the sea;
and hedge in at least a mile of ground. On the soiith
side they have cut a ditch of sufficient depth and breadth
to prevent scaling the wall, which is a quarter of a mile
in length afore it meets with a third point or bastion,
facing St. Thomas, and the adjacent fields; who suffer a
deluge when the rains descend the hills. From this
point to the fourth, where are lodged a dozen guns more
tliat grin upon Aladeras, runs no wall, but what the in-
habitants compile for their gardens and houses planted
all along the river parallel with that, that braces the sea.
From the first point a curtain is drawn with a parapet;
beneath it are two gates, and sally ports to each for to enter
Maderas ; over the gates five guns run out their muzzels,
and two more within them on the ground.

" Over all these the Fort it self lifts up its four turrets. The Fort de-


every point of which is loaded with ten guns alike : On the
south-east point is fixed the standard; the forms of the

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 6 of 33)