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 8 of 33)
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other abuses there are among the soldiery. There are also
some of the Writers who by their lives are not a little
scandalous to the Christian religion, so sinful in their drunken-
ness that some of them play at cards and dice for wine that
they may drink, and afterwards throwing the dice which


shall pay all; and sometimes who shall drink all, by which
some are forced to drink until they be worse than beasts.
Others pride themselves in making others drink till they be
insensible, and then strip them naked and in that posture
cause them to be carried through the streets to their
dwelling place. Some of them, with other persons whom
they invited, once went abroad to a garden not far ofl',
and there continued a whole day and night drinking most
excessively, and in so much that one of the number died
within a very few days after, and confessed he had con-
tracted his sickness by that excess. A person worthy of
credit having occasion to go the next day into the same
garden could number by the heads 36 bottles, and the best
of his judgment they were all pottles, for it is their frequent
custom to break bottles as soon as they have drunk the wine,
and this they have done sometimes within the walls of the
Fort, and withal, sing and carouse at very unseasonable hours.
And this their drunkenness is not alone, but in some attended

with its ordinary concomitant uucleanness."

^ * ■^ ^ *

Nepiect of " They can find time and leisure for these things, but cannot

pu icworsiip. ^^^ ^^^ ^.^^ ^^ leisure for the worship of God, which is

exceedingly neglected by all, notwithstanding your orders
to the contrary. I have sometimes, having waited long
enough, been forced at length to begin duty with only three
or four persons present, and when we have done there hath
not been above twelve or thirteen in all ; but who amongst
the Writers are most guilty in this, your Worships may know
by the enclosed list of their absence taken by me indifferently,
some appointed thereunto by the Governors; of others no
account is taken.
Immorality of " g^t bccausc it is no less a sin to condemn the iust than
j. to justify the wicked, I must bear witness for most of the

young men, that they cannot, to the best of my knowledge,
be accused of the former enormities. There are but a few
of them that are guilty in the manner before described ;
whose names I would have inserted, that so I might clear the


others, but that tliey have been lately sick, and some small
hopes there are that they may amend ; they have given some
g^round to expect it. But if they shall return with the do^
to the vomit, I will, if it please God to spare me so long",
give your Worships a more full account thereof by word of
mouth, upon my arrival with the next ships; for as you
liave already been informed, I intend to return with them,
and 1 hope with your good leave so to do. Therefore what
I have written may in charity be supposed, not to proceed
from expectation of any advantage to myself, but from
respect to the glory of God, and their good, and the encour-
agement of succeeding ministers.

" I did write, what the last year's ships give an account, in s»iutoata
a letter to Captain Broockman, upon the civil usage I met
with from the Governor and others of Council, and indeed
generally from all as to mine own person, which I do not
now retract, only I could wish they were more zealous.
When I have complained of those former abuses, I have
been told by several that persons here are a good deal more
civilised than formerly they hav^e been. If it be so, there
is a great cause to admire the patience and long sujQPering
of God, but withal cause to fear that if those things be not
reformed He will not always keep silence. The Governor
I understand hath refused to listen to any that would prevent
his firing of great guns, and then voUies of small shot by
all the soldiers in garrison, at the consecration of a popish
church within the walls ; if he be therein acquitted by you
I have no more to say, but pray that God himself would dis-
countenance that idolatry and superstition so much counten-
anced by others, and prevent the hurt that may redound to
the place and to your interests thereby.

" One Mr. Mallory, formerly Surgeon's mate in the Presi- Maiiory and
dent and now Surgeon's mate in this place, and another,
Barnes, who formerly went to sea as master of some small
vessel, but having wasted the money entrusted to him, lives
now idly and out of any employment. These two are con-
stant companions with any of the young men in whatever


debaucheries they were guilty of, and it gives ground for sus-
picion that they may be guilty of enticing them thereunto.
Warner's return. " There are somc other things that I would humbly have
remonstrated to your Worships, but because I intend, if it
shall so please God, to see you with the next ships, at which
time if it be acceptable it may more conveniently be done.
I do therefore at present forbear, only praying that God
would continue to prosper your undertaking and enable you
faithfully to design His glory therein, and lead you to the
reasonable means that may conduce to His glory, in the en-
couragement of godliness, and restraint of sin in these places
where your power reacheth. I am or desire to be,

Right worshipf uls,
Your faithful servant.

According to my station,

Patrick Warner.
■January 31si 1676"

Change of Sir William Langliorn left Madras in 1677.

Governors at

Madras. j^e was succeeded by a gentleman named Mr.

Streynsham Masters. It was at this period that
Sivaji, the founder of the Mahratta empire, attain-
ed the height of his power. He had assumed all
the insignia of a great Raja ; and, as already seen,
an English deputation from Bombay had been
present at his coronation. Suddenly he entered
upon a campaign which is a marvel in history. It
was more than equivalent to marching an army
from Bombay to Madras. He set out from his
country in the Western Ghats ; marched through
the Dekhan from the north-west to the south-east ;
and entered the Peninsula and went to Tanjore. On
his way he passed by Madras. The entries in the


diary or consultation books of tlie Madras Presidency
will show the general state of alarm : —

"14th May 1677. — Having this day received a message sivaji, the Mah-
and a letter from Sevaji Raja by a Brahmin and two others
of his people, requesting some cordial stones and counter
}>oisons, we resolved to send him some, together with a civil
letter, by a messenger of our own, as a small present, to-
gether with some such fruit as these gardens afford, and
to bestow upon his Brahmin three yards of broad cloth and
some sandalwood, not thinking it good to require the money
for so small trifles, although offered in his letter ; considering
how great a person he is, and how much his friendship does
already and may import the Honorable Company as he grows
more and more powerful and obvious to them/'

The value of the present thus sent to Sivaji is
stated in the records at Madras ; the cost of the
whole was something like sixty pagodas.

A few days afterwards Sivaji sent for more Departure of

T • Sivaji.

cordials and medicmes. The English gladly re-
sponded to his request. Indeed, Sivaji was the
terror of India. Madras was constantly alarmed
with rumours that he was about to attack the
English and Dutch settlements. After a while
the English were gladdened by the news that the
Mahrattas had retired to their own country after
having some bloody battles with the Naik of

The Mysore ruler was at this period a sovereign condition of
of the same type as Sivaji. His army, like the
Mahratta army, was composed of bandits. They
committed atrocities worse than those of the Mah-
rattas. The following extract from the Consultation


book of January 1679 shows the general character
of their warfare : —

" Their custom is not to kill, but to cut off the noses with
the upper Hps of their enemies; for which they carry an
iron instrument with which they do it very dexterously, and
carry away all the noses and lips they despoyle their enemys
of, for which they are rewarded by the Naik of Mysore ac-
cording- to the number, and the reward is the greater, if the
beard appear upon the upper lip. This way of warfare is
very terrible to all that those people engag-e with, so that
none care to meddle with them ; they being also a resolute
people, and have destroyed many that have attempted them,
for though they kill them not outright, yet they die by
lingering deaths, if they make not themselves away sooner,
as for the most part they do that are so wounded, the shame
and dishonor of it being esteemed greater than the pain and
difficulty of subsisting."
Tbenose-cutting Thc account in the Madras records is fully con-

Eaja of

suranpatan. ^j-jj^ed by Dr, Eryor. lie refers to the Mysore
ruler as the Eaja of Saranpatan, which is doubtless
the same as Seringapatam. The extract is curi-
ous : —

" The Raja of Saranpatan must not be slipped by in silence,
because his way of fighting differs from his neighbours; he
trains up his soldiers to be expert at a certain instrument to
seize on the noses of his enemies with that slight either in
the field or in their camps, that a budget-full of them have
been presented to their Lord for a breakfast ; a thing, because
it deforms them, so abashing, that few care to engage with
him ; and this he makes use of, because it is against his
religion to kill any thing. He enjoys a vast territory on
the back of the Zamerhin."

The following miscellaneous extracts will ex-
plain themselves. They also serve to illustrate the
character of the early Madras records.


Tlnmday, 28th October, 1G80. — ''The new ehnveh was Foundation of

•'^ ' ' n Protestant

dedicated by virtue of commissions directed to the Govern- f;i">rch at

*' _ ... Madras.

raent, and to Mr. Richard Portman the minister, from his
Lordship the Bishop of London. The solemnity was per-
formed in very good order, and concluded with vollies of small
shot fired by the whole garrison drawn out, and the cannon
round the Fort. The church named St. Mary's as at first
intended, and from this day forward all public service to be
there performed.

" It is observable that at the dedication of a new church
by the French Padres and Portuguese in 1675, Sir William
Langhorn, then Agent, had fired guns from the Fort; and
yet at this time neither Padre nor Portuguese appeared at the
dedication of our church, nor so much as gave the Governor
a visit afterwards to wish him joy of it.''

Monday, 22nd March, 1680. — " It fell under consideration Marriages of

., T- 1'j ^ • L I'l'otestantB and

whether it consisteth with our religion and interest to admit cathoUes.
of marriages between Protestants and Roman Catholics in
this place, and upon the debate resolved : —

"1st, That it is not against the law of God in Holy
Scripture, nor the laws of England, and hath frequently been
practised in England for Protestants to marry Roman

" 2nd, That the Roman Catholics of this place, being the
offspring of foreign nations chiefly Portuguese, and born
out of England, and not liable to the laws of England
provided against Roman Catholics, they always owning
themselves vassals to the King of Portugal.

" 3rd, That it is our interest to allow of marriages with
them, especially our men with their women, to prevent
wickedness, and in regard there is not English women
enough for the men, and the common soldiers cannot main-
tain English women and children with their pay, as well as
they can the women of the country, who are not so expensive
and not less modest than our ordinary or common people are,
and in matter of marriages we have already gained by them
many hopeful children brought up in the Protestant religion.

mixed marriages.


" It is also further to be remembered that these Komau
Catholics of the Portuguese nation were invited hitherto
upon our first settlement ; ground was given them to build
upon ; a church and French Priests were allowed^ to encourage
them to come in and inhabit here ; and they have been loyal
and serviceable in the defence of the place in time of war,
and are a great security to us on that account. Moreover,
our greatest income arises from the customs upon their

ofTspringof TliG Protestaiit feelings which prevailed at the

time were far too strong to permit these rules to he
carried out. Two Chaplains were consulted hy
the Governor and Council. The following rules
were then added, for the maintenance of Protest-
antism : —

Thursday, 25th March, 1680.— "The marriages of Pro-
testants with Roman Catholics being again taken into con-
sideration, the Honorable Company's two Chaplains, Mr.
Richard Portman and Mr. Richard Elliot, were sent for into
the Council, and upon the debate it is concluded, resolved,
and ordered,

" That upon the marriage of a Protestant with a Roman
Catholic, both the parties to be married shall solemnly promise
before one of the Chaplains of the place by themselves, or
some for them, before the Banns shall be published, and also
in the Chapel or Church by themselves in person, upon the
day of marriage and before the parties shall be married, that
ALL the children by them begotten and born, shall be brought
up in the Protestant religion, and herein due care shall
always be taken by the overseers of the orphans and the

Oppression of Jn 1680 thc Enf::lish settlement suffered much

Liugapa. ^

from a Golkonda general, named Lingapa, who had


been appointed to the commancl of the district.*
His object was to raise the yearly rental from
twelve hundred pagodas to two thousand ; or rather
to threaten to raise it in the hope of procuring a
present for himself. The records are too volumin-
ous for extract. A native officer entered Black
Town with drums beating and a flag flying, as
though he had been high in command. He de-
clared that he had been appointed to take the com-
mand of the town for the Sultan of Golkonda.
The Governor sent three files of soldiers after him
and brought him into the Fort. After a short exa-
mination the man was sent out of the town.

It was soon discovered that Lingapa was at the Embar-o
bottom of these proceedings. He placed an em-
bargo upon the English settlement. For months no
goods or provisions were procurable from the sur-
rounding villages. Matters grew so serious that
the English garrison was forced to make raids into
the country to procure provisions and fuel. The
English Governor contemplated leaving Madras alto-
gether, and removing to the country of some Hindu
Rajah further south. The embargo was broken
through, but Lingapa continued to be very trouble-
some. To make matters worse, he protected certain
objectionable ship captains, who carried on a trade
with India in defiance of the Company's charter.
The Company had always regarded these interlopers

* The Sultan of Golkonda was a Shiah Mubammadau. The name of
Lingapa shows that he was a Hindu.


as pirates. The Governor of Madras was at last
forced to come to terms with Lingapa. Seven
thousand pagodas were sent to Lingapa, equivalent
to about three thousand pounds sterling. Matters
quieted down at once. Lingapa ceased to protect
the interlopers ; the yearly rent of Madras was again
fixed at twelve hundred pagodas. The Sultan of
Golkonda sent a firman to the Governor of Madras ;
and it will be seen from the following extract that
the firman was received with every honour : —

Firman from Mondajj , 12tJi November, 1683. — '' This afternoon at four

o'clock, the Agent and Council (being- attended with the
Factors and Writers, the Company's Merchants and two com-
panies of soldiers) went to the Hon'ble Company's new Garden-
house to receive the King of Golconda's firman ; after
which, at the drinking of the King of Golconda's health, there
was fired three vollies of small shot, and thirty-one great guns.
When the ceremony was ended, the messenger that brought
the firman attended upon the Agent to the Fort, where after
drinkinar a health to Madana and Accana, the Chief Ministers
of State, there was one volley more of small shot fired, and
so the messenger was dismissed for the present."

Troubles at Not loug aftcrwards there were internal troubles

Madras. .n -i i .

at Madras. There was a strike about taxes amongst
the men who dyed the native calicoes and were
known by the name of painters. The whole body
left the Company's jurisdiction and went away to St.
Thome. They threatened to murder all the native
servants of the Company who refused to join them.
They also stopped all provisions and goods coming to
the town. The Governor and Council took strong
measures. They entertained a hundred black Portu-


giiese to keep guard over the washers, to prevent
them following the evil example. The wives and
children of the mutineers were taken out of their
houses in Black Town, and driven into the pagoda.
At last it was proclaimed hy beat of drum that unless
the mutineers delivered themselves up within ten
days, all their houses, goods, and chattels within the
jurisdiction of the Company w^ould be confiscated.
Eight days afterwards the ringleaders were arrested
at St. Thome, and brought within the Company's
territories. They were at once committed to prison ;
the same evening all the rest came into the town
and made their submission.

Meanwhile a new Governor was appointed to Mr. wiiiiam

^ ^ Gyflbrd.

Madras. His name was Mr. William Gyfford.
In after years, the Directors referred to him as " our
too easy Agent Gyfford." The origin of this epithet
involves a story.

At this period Mr. Josiah Child was Chairman Mr. joBiah

^ ChUd.

of the Court of Directors. Child was a man of
mark, but hard and overbearing in his ways. The
Court of Directors had been anxious to raise a quit
rent from all the householders in Madras, native
and European. They hoped by so doing to defray
the yearly charge for repairs and fortifications.

Mr. Masters had succeeded in raising such a tax ; Local taxes.
not for repairs or fortifications, but for promoting
the sanitation of Black Town. On his departure
all the native inhabitants of Black Town petitioned
against the tax ; and " our too easy Agent Gyfford"
abolished the tax.


Eesointionof Oil tliG 20tli September 1682, the Directors

the Uirectora. i /• -» t i

wrote to the Government oi Madras as follows : —

" Our meaning as to the revenue of the town is that one
way or another, by Dutch, Portuguese, or Indian methods,
it should be broug-ht to defray at least the whole constant
charge of the place, which is essential to all governments
in the world. People protected ought in all parts of the
universe, in some way or other, to defray the charge of their
protection and preservation from wrong and violence. The
manner of raising which revenue we shall leave to your
discretion, as may be most agreeable to the humour of that

Inundation at Meantime there had been a great inundation of

Madras. . ,

the sea at Madras. The cn-cumstance is described
in the following entry : —

Tuesday, 11th July. — '^ The sea having for about 10 days
past encroached upon this town, and we, hoping as it is usual,
that it would retreat again of itself, forbore any remedies
to keep it off; but now that instead of its losing it mightily
gains ground upon us, and that without a speedy course be
taken the town will run an apparent hazard of being swal-
lowed up, for it has undermined even to the very walls, and
so deep that it has eaten away below the very foundation of
the town, — and the great bulwark next to the sea side, with-
out a speedy and timely prevention, will certainly, in a day
or two more, yield to its violence : it is therefore ordered
forthwith that the drum be beat to call all coolies, carpenters,
smiths, peons, and all other workmen, and that sufficient
materials be provided, that they may work day and night to
endeavour to put a stop to its fury : for without effectual
means be used in such an eminent danger and exigency, the
town, garrison, and our own lives, considering all the fore-
going circumstances, must needs be very hazardous and in-


On the 31st May 1683 the Directors remarked Directors insist

. on local taxation.

on the event in the lollowmg terms : —

" We take notice of the great iniiudation that endangered
our Town and Fort^ and we would have you endeavour to
prevent such future * accidents by laying such a deep and
strong foundation with chuuam, as you mention, that may
be sufficient in all human probability to prevent damage by
any such accident hereafter. And in all other respects we
would have you to strengthen and fortify our Fort and Town
by degrees^ that it may be terrible against the assault of any
Indian Prince and the Dutch power of India, if we should
happen to have any difference with them hereafter. But we
must needs desire you so to contrive your business (but with
all gentleness) that the inhabitants may pay the full charge
of all repairs and fortifications, who do live easier under our
Government than under any Government in Asia^ or indeed
under any Government in the known part of the world.
Their saying they pay customs is a frivolous objection, and
relates only to their security at sea under our Passes, and
under the guns of our Fort in port ; but the strong fortifying
of the town, etc., and the raising new works is a security to
their lives, houses, wives, and children, and all that belongs
to them.''

These orders were frequently repeated from home. Petition of

Ntitivcs of

The results are set forth in the followin^^ extracts Madras.
from the Madras Consultations : —

Monday, 4th January 1686. — " This morning the heads of
the several Castes appeared before the President and Council,
to be heard according to their desire ; and after begging pardon
for the great crime they had committed in raising such a
mutiny, delivered in their Petition, translate whereof is as
follows : —

" ' To the Hon'ble Governor and Council.

" ' The inhabitants of this town declare, that it is now forty
years and upwards, from the foundation of this Fort, and
that they were invited to people and increase the town upon


the word and fiivouv of the^Eng-lish, under whom they have
till now lived, receiving many honours and favours without
paying any tribute or rent. Only in the time of the past
Governor Mr. Master, who imposed a tax upon arrack, and
upon paddy, and causing us to pay for cleansing the streets;
also increasing the Choultry customs of goods imported and
exported; also the rents of the fields of paddy, and ordered
that double custom should be received of tobacco which came
from other places, and because the owners could not pay said
custom, they carried their tobacco to St. Thome, by which
means the Choultry hath been hindered of the customs for-
merly paid. Also the close siege this Town suffered, which
upon your Honour's arrival was taken off, whereby this
Town was newly revived from death to life, hoping that your
Honour would have relieved us from all tributes and rents ;
but instead thereof we find you go about to impose and
increase other new tributes upon our houses, which can in
no wise be, nor ought your Honour to do it. Wherefore we
beg your Honour for the sake of the most high God, and in
the name of the most serene King of England and of the
Hou'ble Company, that you will free this Tuwu from so
heavy a yoke, as is this tax laid upon our houses, seeing we
are a poor people, and live upon our labour and trouble ; this
Town having the fame, and is called place of Charity, and
we shall live confident in your favours and assistances, and
the whole Town lightened by your goodness, as they hope
from your Honour.

" ' Signed by the heads of the several Castes underwritten,
viz.f chuliars, painters, tailors, husbandmen, coolies, washers,
barbers, pariahs, comities, oilmakers, fruiterers, shepherds,
potmakers, muckwas, patanava, tiaga, cavaree, nugabunds,
pally, goldsmiths, chitties, weavers.''
ProceediDfrs of " Upou perusal of Said Petition, the President and Coun-

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 8 of 33)