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 7 of 33)
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bastions are square, sending forth curtains fringed with
battlements from one to the other; in whose interstitiums
wdiole culverin are traversed. The Governor's house in
the middle overlooks all, slanting diagonally with the court.
Entering the garrison at the out-gate towards the sea, a
path of broad polished stones spreads the way to pass the
second guard into the Fort at an humble gate ; opposite
to this, one more stately fronts the High-street; on both
sides thereof is a court of guard, from whence, for ev^ry
day's duty, are taken two hundred men : There being in
pay for the Honourable East India Company of English
and Portuguez 700, reckoning the Moutrosses and Gunners.

Langhoru Agent.


Neat Dwciiinga. " The sti'eets are sweefc and clean, ranked with fine mansions
o£ no extraordinary height (hecause a garrison -town) though
beauty, which they conciliate, by the battlements and
terrace walks on every house, and rows of trees before
their doors, whose Italian porticos make no ordinary con-
veyance into their houses, built with brick and stone.

Portuguese " Edifices of common note are none, except a small Chapel

Chapel. JIT* 1 1-1 TIT-

the Fortugals are admitted to say Mass in.

" Take the town in its exact proportion, and it is oblong.
The English "The truc posscssoi's of it are the English, instaled therein

masters ot '^ o ->

Madias. \fy qyio of their Naiks or Prince of the Hindoos 90 years

ago, 40 years before their total subjection to the Iloors j'
who likewise have since ratified it by a patent from Golconda,
only paying 7000 paffods yearly for royalties and customs
that raises the money fourfold to the Company; whose

Sir William Agent here is Sir William Laughorn, a gentleman of inde-
fatigable industry and worth. He is Superintendent over
all the Factories on the Coast of Coromandel, as far as
the Bay of Bengala, and up Huygly river (which is one
of the falls of Ganges, viz., Fort St. George alias Maderas,
Pettipolee, Mechlapatan, Gundore, Medapollon, Balisore,
Bengala, Huygly, Castle Bazar, Pattana. He has his Mint,
and privilege of coining; the country stamp is only
a Fanam, which is ^d. of gold ; and their Cash, twenty
of which go to a Fanam. Moreover he has his Justiciaries;
to give sentence, but not on life and death to the King's
liege people of England ; though over the rest they may.
His personal guard consists of 300 or 400 Blacks ; besides a
band of 1500 men ready on summons : He never goes
abroad without fifes, drums, trumpets, and a flag with two
balls in a red field; accompanied with his Council and
Factors on horseback, with their Ladies in palenkeens.

^ Dr. Fryer is mistaken in his chronology. Madras was founded'about
thirty-five years before his visit. He is also mistaken about the rent paid to
Golkonda, which was only twelve hundred pagodas.


" The English here are Protestants, the Portugals Papists,
who have their several Orders of Fryers; who, to give
them their due, compass sea and land to make proselytes,
many of the natives being brought in by them.

" The number of Enorlish here may amount to three hundred ; Number of

1 -n CI /-« Enerlish and

of Portuguez as many thousand, who made Fort St. George Portugais.
their refuge, when they were routed from St. Thomas by the
Moors about ten years past, and have ever since lived under
protection of the English.

" Thus have you the limits and condition of the English
town : Let us now pass the pale to the heathen town,
only parted by a wide parade, which is used for a bazar,
or market-place.

" The Native town of Maderas divides itself into divers Black Town.
long streets, and they are checquered by as many transverse.
It enjoys some Choultries for Places of Justice ; one Exchange ;
one Pagoda, contained in a square stone-wall ; wherein are
a number of Chapels (if they may be comprehended under
that class, most of them resembling rather monuments for
the dead, than places of devotion for the living), one for
every Tribe; not under one roof, but distinctly separate, visited a Pagoda

n j'-r»i*"" Heathea

though altogether, they bear the name ot one entire Pagoda, xempie.
The work is inimitably durable, the biggest closed up with
arches continually shut, as where is supposed to be hid their
Mammon of unrighteousness (they burying their estates
here when they die, by the persuasion of their priests,
towards their viaticum for another state) admitting neither
light nor air, more than what the lamps, always burning,
are by open funnels above suffered to ventilate : By which
custom they seem to keep alive that opinion of Plato, in such a
revolution to return into the world again, after their trans-
migration, according to the merits of their former living.
Those of a minuter dimension were open, supported by
slender straight and round pillars, plain and uniform up to
the top, where some hieroglyph ical portraiture lends its
assistance to the roof, flat, with stones laid along like planks
upon our rafters. On the walls of good sculpture were



The English

The English

many images : The floor is stoned, they are of no great
altitude ; stinking most egregiously of the oil they waste
in their lamps, and besmear their beastly gods with : Their
outsides shew workmanship and cost enough, wrought round
with monstrous effigies; so that oleum et operam j^erdere,
pains and cost to no purpose, may not improperly be applied
to them. Their gates are commonly the highest of the work,
the others concluding iii shorter piles.

"Near the outside of the town the English Golgotha,
or place of sculls, presents variety of tombs, walks and
sepulchres ; which latter, and they stand in a line, are an
open cloyster; but succinctly and precisely a Quadragone
with hemispherical apartitions; on each side adorned with
battlements to the abutment of every angle, who bear up
a coronal arch, on whose vertex a globe is rivited by an iron
wedge sprouting into a branch; paved underneath with a
great black stone, whereon is engraved the name of the party
interred. The buildings of less note are low and decent ; the
town is walled with mud, and bulwarks for watch-places
for the English Peons ; only on that side the sea washes it,
and the Fort meets it. On the north are two great gates
of brick, and one on the west, where they wade over the
river to the washermen's town.

" Without the town grows their rice, which is nourished
by the letting in of the water to drown it : Round about it
is bestrewed with gardens of the English ; where, besides
gourds of all sorts for stews and pottage, herbs for sallad,
and some few flowers, as jassamin, for beauty and delight;
flourish pleasant topes of plantains, cocoes, guiavas, a kind
of pear, jawks, a coat of armour over it like an hedge-hog's,
guards its weighty fruit, oval without for the length of a
span, within in fashion like squils parted ; mangos, the
delight of India, a plum, pomegranets, bananas, which are a
sort of plantain, though less, yet much more grateful ; betel,
which last must not be slipt by in silence : It rises out of
the ground to twelve or fourteen feet heighth, the body of
it green and slender, jointed like a cane, the boughs flaggy


and spreading", undov wliof3G arms it brings forth from its
preg-nant womb (which bursts when her month is come) a
cluster of g-reen nuts, like wallnuts in green shells, but
different in the fruit; which is hard when dried, and looks like
a nutmeg.

''The Natives chew it with Chinam (lime of calcined ^vhat Pawn is.
oyster-shells) and Arach, a convolvulus with a leaf like the
largest ivy for to preserve their teeth, and correct an un-
savoury breath : If swallowed, it inebriates as much as
tobacco. Thus mixed, it is the only Indian entertainment,
called Pawn.

"These plants set in a row, make a grove that might delude
the fanatic multitude into an opinion of their being sacred ;
and were not the mouth of that grand impostor hermetically
sealed up, where Christianity is spread, these would still con-
tinue, as it is my fancy they were of old, and may still be the
laboratories of his fallacious oracles : For they masquiug the
face of day, beget a solemn reverence, and melancholy habit
in them that resort to them ; by representing the more in-
ticing place of zeal, a Cathedral, with all its pillars and
pillasters, walks and choirs ; and so contrived, that whatever
way you turn, you have an even prospect.

" But not to run too far out of Maderas before I give you xatm-e of tuo
an account of the people ; know they are under the bondage
with the Moors, were not that alleviated by the power of the
English, who command as far as their guns reach : To them
therefore they pay toll, even of cowdung (which is their
chiefest fireing), a prerogative the Dutch could never obtain
in this kingdom, and by this means acquire great estates
without fear of being molested. Their only merchants being
Gentues, forty Moors having hardly cohabitation with them,
though of the natives 30,000 are employed in this their

" The country is sandy, yet plentiful in provisions ; in all The country.
places topes of trees, among one of which, on the top of a
withered stump sate perching a Chamelion, clasping with its
claws its rotten station, filling himself with his aerial food,



St. Thom6.

History of
St. Thomas,

St. Thomaa

a banquet which most other creatures else arise an hung-ered
from : But to be confirmed in the truth of what we have only
by tradition, I caused a Black who had a bow there, to fell
him with an earthen pellet, which when he had, and after a small
time he revived, and making- a collar of straw for his neck,
he carried him to my lodgings, where I dieted him a month
on the same provant. That he changes his colours at a con-
stant time of the day, is not to be contradicted ; but whether
he live by the air alone, I will not stand to it, unless there
were a dearth of flies in the country : though for my part I
never did see him eat any. In shape he comes nearest a newt ;
wdth his lungs his body does agitate itself up to its neck ; he
crawls on all four, and has a tail longer than his body, which
all together was no more than half a foot ; he has teeth, and
those sharp/^

Dr. Eryer also furnishes the following curious
particulars respecting St Thome : —

" St. Thomas is a city that formerly for riches, pride, and
luxury, was second to none in India; but since, by the
mutability of fortune, it has abated much of its adored

" The sea on one side greets its marble walls, on the other a
chain of hills intercepts the violence of the inflaming heat ;
one of which, called St. Thomas his Mount, is famous for
his sepulture (in honour of whom a chapel is dedicated, the
head priest of which was once the Metropolitan Bishop of
India), and for a tree called Arbor Tristis, which withers
in the day, and blossoms in the night.

" About this Mount live a cast of people, one of whose legs
is as big as an elephant's; which gives occasion for the
divulging it to be a judgment on them, as the generation of
the assassins and murtherers of the blessed Apostle St.
Thomas, one of whom I saw at Fort St. George.

"Within the walls seven Churches answertoasmany gates;
the rubbish of whose stupendous heaps do justify the truth
of what is predicated in relation to its pristine state.

" The builders of it were the Portun^als. "


Such was tlic condition of Madras between 1G70
and 1677, as told by Dr. Fryer. It may now be as
well to glance at the general daily life of the
English at Madras, as it is told in the Government

" Madras in llu
Oldcu Time."




THE Madras records were investigated by the
present writer seventeen years ago. At that time
he published a number of extracts in three volumes
under the title of "Madras in the Olden Time."
The mass of these extracts has but little interest
outside the Madras Presidency. It wiU be easy to
indicate their subject matter by the following nar-
rative, which has been drawn up from the earher
records, and in which a selection of the more
interesting extracts will be found incorporated.
^i"c^'"",V?^V* Sir William Lans^horn was Governor of Madras

of Sir William ^

lon'-mi. from 1670 to 1677. He was present at Macbas
at the time of Eryer's visit. He is indeed duly
noticed by Eryer. The times were stormy. Charles
the Second had been ten years on the throne of
England. There was an alliance between England
and Erance against the Hutch.

A Erench fleet arrived in India. A Erench
force landed at St. Thome, and took the place
by storm. The Muhammadan army of Golkonda,
under the command of a General named Bobba
Sahib, was endeavouring to recover St. Thome
from the Erench.

Madras in Sir William Langhorn was thus hemmed around

with daugcrs. He dared not help the Erench lest

French invasion.



lie sliould provoke the wrath of Bobha Sahib.
MeauAvhile, Bobba Sahib was angry because the
English would not join him with men and guns to
light against the French. All this while a Dutch
fleet was cruising off tlie coast of Coromandel. The
Dutch fleet had attacked the French at St. Thome,
but was repulsed. It was daily expected that the
Dutch would attack Fort St. George.

At this juncture Sir William Langhorn resolved uobbasawb.
in Council to propitiate Bobba Sahib by sending
him a present of scarlet broadcloth and looking-
glasses. Bobba Sahib, however, was still as angry
as ever. In after years Bobba Sahib had cause to
regret this exhibition of hostility, as will be seen by
the following extract from the consultations of
the Agency, dated 6th May 1678 :—

" Bobba Sahib, formerly General of the King of Golconda^s
force against the French at St. Thome, and in those days a
Litter enemy to the English, but now in disgrace and debt,
has been some days here trying all ways to borrow money,
and to have an interview with the Governor^ which is refused
him by reason of his former unkindnesses when he was in
power, and he in despaif quits the place for Pullimalee, intend-
ing to go to his own country.^'

A year and a half passed away, and the French Proposed aban-

I'll ' 1 • ' p oi 1 mi A -r-r-r. ■. . doiimeiitot'

still remamed in possession oi St. Thome. Withm Madras.
that time they had established a camp at Triplicane,
the Muhammadan quarter of Madras ; and fortified
it far more strongly than the English were fortified
at Fort St. George. Sir William Langhorn and his
Council were at one time contemplating the advis-
ability of abandoning Madraspatanam altogether ;


but afterwards decided on more energetic measures.
At a Consultation held on the 2nd February 1674,
it was recorded that the interests of the Honorable
Company, as well as the lives of the residents at
the Presidency, were staked upon the issue of
the siege. Their enemies at sea and land were
within musket-shot; their walls were slight and
tottering ; they were pestered with the great native
town close to them ; and the Dutch Governor-
General was daily expected with a large fleet.
Under these circumstances they resolved, after
mature consideration, to enlarge and strengthen
their fortifications as much as possible ; but their
efforts in this direction do not seem to have much
increased their strength, or to have rendered
them more independent of the belligerent powers.
Pour Erenchmen from Java were staying in Fort
St. George; and in May, the Dutch and Mussul-
mans peremptorily demanded their removal. For a
long time Sir "William Langhorn refused to comply,
because of the English alliance with France ; but
at last the Muhammadan army fairly laid siege
to Fort St. George, and would hear of no further
delay. The Frenchmen, on their part, refused to
leave the place unless they were permitted to go
to St. Thome, and there the Dutch and Muham-
madans would not allow them to proceed. At last,
the President in Council resolved to send them
under passports and an escort to Bijapore, another
Muhammadan kingdom in the Western Dekhan>
There thoy seem to have gone, loudly protesting,


however, against tlie proceeding, inasmuch as
they were subjects of the King of France, a friend
and ally of the Crown of England.

Por two years the Prencli held possession of sumndcr of ho


St. Thome. At length, on the 26th August 1674.,
they surrendered to the Dutch, on the condition
that the garrison should be transported to Europe.

Fortunately for the Madras Agency, at that mo- Poate with the
ment the news arrived from Europe that in the pre-
ceding January peace had been concluded between
England and Holland. But for the happy peace, the
Dutch would have followed up the capture of St.
Thome with the siege of Fort St. George ; and there
can be little doubt that the fall of the place would
have followed, for the fortifications were still but
weak, and there were only two hundred and fifty
men in garrison.

Sir William Langhorn was a disciplinarian in Moral mies
his way. He tried to promote public morals by lay-
ing down the following rules. As far as drinking
was concerned they were certainly liberal ; but
those were the days of Merrie King Charles.

No one person was to be allowed to drink above
half a pint of arrack or brandy and one quart of
wine at one time, under a penalty of one pagoda
upon the housekeeper that supplied it, and twelve
fanams upon every guest that had exceeded that
modest allowance. Drunkenness was to be punished
by a fine and the stocks. All persons addicted in
any way to the social evil were to be imprisoned


at the discretion of the Governor, and if not re«
claimed were to be sent back to England. All
persons telling a lie, or absenting themselves from
morning or evening prayers, were to be fined four
fanams for each offence. Persons being out of
White Town after eight o'clock, would be punished ;
and any one committing the heinous offence of
getting over the walls of White Town upon any pre-
tence whatever, was to be kept in irons until the
arrival of the ships, and then to be sent to Eng-
land to receive further condign punishment on his
arrival. It was also ordained that all persons swear-
ing, cursing, banning or blaspheming the sacred
name of Almighty God should pay a fine of four
fanams for eacli offence ; that any two persons
who should go out into the fields to decide a
quarrel between them by the sword or fire-arms
should be imprisoned for two months on nothing
but rice and water ; that any soldier giving another
the lie should be made fast to a gun, and there
receive ten blows with a small rattan, well laid on
by the man to whom he had given the lie ; and
that any officer who should in any way connive
at the offence, or at any mitigation of the punish-
ment, should forfeit a month's wages.
Low state of Notwithstanding these and other similar rules,
public decorum was often outraged. Brawlings
were not unfrequent, and were by no means con-
fined to the barrrcks, the punch shops, or the
warehouse, but even were to be occasionally heard



in the Council chamber itself. One little circum-
stance which took place during the meeting of
Council on 6th June 1676, is singularly illus-
trative of the disturbances which occasionally
arose. Nathaniel Keeblc, buyer of jewels, uttered
some provocative words concerning the wife of
Mr. Herries, a member of Council. Herries was
of course present, and a fight took place in the
Council chamber. The combatants were soon
parted by the Governor and Council; but Keeble
had received a bloody nose from the clenched fist of
the indignant husband, and swore to be revenged
upon him though he were hanged for it. Herries
then swore the peace against Keeble, and the Gover-
nor ordered the latter to be confined to his chamber
until he had furnished security that he would
keep the peace for the future. The same day, how-
ever, Keeble broke from his arrest, leaped down
the Fort walls, and sprained his leg; and was
accordingly ordered to be confined in the " Lock
house" until the arrival of the ships, when he
could be dispatched to England. The next day,
however, the whole matter was arranged. Natha-
niel Keeble sent in his humble submission and
promised amendment, and the Government merci-
fully forgave him. Incidents such as these are
sufficient to prove that, however strict rules might
be laid down, yet the times were as lawless in Fort
St. George as they were in Covent Garden or the
Strand. That they were not worse is abundant-
ly proved by the character of the literature and



Rev. P.itrick

condition of the people of England during the reign
of the second Charles.

About this period a certain Reverend Patrick
Warner was Chaplain at Port St. George. He
was much shocked at the low state of the morals
in the settlement. He was also alarmed at the
countenance which Sir William Langhorn had
given to the Koman Catholics. It appears that
the Portuguese had built and consecrated a new
church within the Port, and that Sir William Lang-
horn had ordered salutes to be fired in honour
of the ceremony. Under these circumstances Mr.
Warner wrote the following letter to the Court
of Directors. It is dated 31st January 1676.

" Right Worsliipfuls,

Letters to the

Vicious lives.

" It is my trouble that I have so little acquaintance with
your Worships^ because of this I could not take the confi-
dence of writing to you, nor had I anything worth the
writing, having then remained so short a while in this place ;
but now having been a servant under you in the ministry of
the Gospel some considerable time, I have to my grief met
with that which maketh me, contrary to my inclination,
break off my silence, and give you the trouble of these lines.

" I have the charity to believe that most of you have so
much zeal for God, and for the credit of religion, that your
heads would be fountains of water, and eyes rivers of tears,
did you really know how much God is dishonoured, his
name blasphemed, religion reproached amongst the Gentiles,
by the vicious lives of many of 3'our servants. Did I not
therefore complain of them, I should not be faithful either
to God or you, or to their own souls. And if it be not a
desire to approve myself in some measure faithful unto all
those, God the searcher of hearts and tryer of reins will one


day discover, if it be not, I say, such a desire that moves

me to the present uudertakiug-.

" It may be for a lameutatioii to hear and see the horrid DrunkennesB.

swearing and profanation of the name of God, the woful and

abomiuable drunkenness and uucleanness that so much reign

and rage among the soldiery ; and these not secretly or

covertly, but as it were in the sight of the sun, and men

refuse therein to be ashamed, neither can they blush/'
•je ^ * * -x-

" Most of those women are popish christians ; and if those Popcry,
that marry them do not fall into the former inconveniences,
they hardly escape being seduced by their wives and wives'
families into popery. There have not been wanting in-
stances of this also. Since I entered into this place, I have
constantly refused to celebrate any such marriages except
one that I was urged into, and this not before she had
solemnly and before several witnesses renounced popery,
and promised to attend upon ordinances with us ; but she
had not been many weeks married when at the instiga-
tion of some popish priests here she perfidiously fell from
those promises.

" I wish your Worships may consider it be not requisite to Evil marriages,
inhibit such marriages, for the children turn either infidels
or popish. I do also earnestly wish there may be more
inspection taken what persons you send over into these
places ; for there come hither some thousand murderers, some
men stealers, some popish, some come over under the notion
of single persons and unmarried, who yet have their wives
in England, and here have been married to others, with
whom they have lived in adultery j and some on the other
hand have come over as married persons, of whom there are
strange suspicions they were never married. These and

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 7 of 33)