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 9 of 33)
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cil told them, that it did not lie in their power totally to
excuse them from contributing towards the charges of this
Garrison, in regard it was the Right Honorable Company^s
positive orders, they commanding to have the Black Town
walled round at the charge of the Inhabitants ; and there

the Madras


was no remedy but that they must be conformable thereunto,
it being a very small matter, only three fanams a year for a
small house, six fanams for a middle size house, and nine fanams
for a great house, which could be no burthen to them. But
they continued very obstinate, and declared themselves un-
willing and unable to pay, for reasons given in their Petition;
and farther that it would breed a custom, and they feared it
would be increased hereafter. But it was still replied it
must be done, and they as positive on the other hand refused,
offering two of their heads, if that would satisfy, to excuse
them from this tribute and heavy yoke, as they call it.
After which they were one by one asked whether they would
leave the town, make war upon us, or submit to our orders
and government ; to which they every one answered they
would submit, but on a sudden all at once denied what they
had said, and that they would not pay do what we would to
them ; which forced us to cause the drum to beat, and declare
our resolution that we would execute our orders declared to
them yesterday by beat of drum of pulling down their houses,
selling their lands, and banishing them the place. Which
when they perceived us so much in earnest, at last submitted,
promising to be obedient to our government, and that they
would take off the prohibition laid upon their people and our
prohibitions, and that all things should be at peace and q,uiet.
So they were dismissed, and after awhile, the shops were
opened, provisions brought in, and the washer-men, muckwas,
catamaran-men, coolies, and servants returned to their several
businesses ; and now it only remains that they be obedient
in paying their contributions.^^

There are various entries in the Madras Con- siave hade at
sultation Books respecting slaves. Tliey are print- .
cd together in the present place, as they throw
considerable light upon tlie public opinion of the
time as regards slaves : —

Monday f 18th Septcmler 1683. — " There being great
number of slaves yearly exported from this place, to the


great grievfiuce of many persous whose children are very
commonly privately stolen away from them, by those who
are constant traders in this way, the Agent and Council,
considering the scandal that might accrue to the Government,
and the great loss that many parents may undergo by such
actions, have ordered that no more slaves be sent off the
shore again."

Monday, 13th November 1683. — " An Order in English,
Portuguese, Geutoo [^. e., Tamil], and Malabar, for the pre-
venting the transportation of this country people by sea and
making them slaves in other countries, was read and past and
ordered to be hung up in four public places of this town.
The contents are as followeth : —

" Whereas formerly there hath been an ill custom in this
place of shipping off this country people, and making them
slaves in other strange countries. We, therefore, the present
Governor and Council of Fort St. George, have taken the
same into our serious consideration, and do hereby order that,
for the future, no such thing be done by any person whatso-
ever, resident in this place. And we do hereby also strictly
command all our officers by the water side, whether they be
English, Portuguese or Gentoos [i. e., Tamil-speaking Hindus],
to do their utmost endeavours to prevent the same ; or else
suffer such punishment, either in body or goods, as we shall
think fit to inflict upon them. And if any person, being an
inhabitant of this Town of Madraspatanam, shall hereafter
presume clandestinely to do anything contrary to this our
order, by shipping such slaves of this country and it be
proved against him, — he shall pay for every slave so shipped
off or sent away, fifty pagodas, to be recovered of him in the
Choultry of Madraspatanam ; one-third for the use of the
Honorable East India Company, one-third to the poor, and
one-third to the informer.''''

Monday, 1st August 1683. — ''The trade in slaves grow-
ing great from this Port, by reason of the great plenty of
poor, by the sore famine, and their cheapness, — it is ordered
for the future that each slave sent off this shore pay one


pagoda custom to the Right Honorable Company, and that
the Justices do receive no more for the usual fee for register-
ing and passport, than two fanams a head till the Council
shall think fit to alter it as formerly."

Thursday, 29{h Sejdember 1687. — " We do now order that
Mr. Fraser (who being Land Customer has the best oppor-
tunity for it) do buy forty young sound slaves for the Right
Honorable Company, and dispose them to the several Mussoo-
la Boats, two or three in each, in charge of the Chief man of
the Boat, to be fed and taught by them ; and to encourage their
care therein, it is ordered a short red broad cloth coat be
given to each Chief man ; and that the Right Honorable
Company's mark be embroidered with silk on their backs
with the number of their rank and the boat, which are also
to be so numbered, whereby we shall have them at better
command, our business go more currently on, and easier
thereby discover their thieveries."

Thirsday, 2nd February 1688. — " In consideration of the
several inconveniences that have happened by the exporta-
tion of children stolen from their parents, to prevent which
for the future, — it is ordered that no slaves shall be shipped
off or transported, except such who are first examined by the
Justices of the Choultry, and their several names registered
in a book for that purpose ; for which the Justices are to
receive two fanams for each slave. And whosoever shall
offend against this same rule, and shall be convicted of
stealing people, are to pay for the first fault five pagodas,
and for the next to lose their ears in the pillory. And
this order shall be fixed upon the several gates and in the

Monday y 14th May 1688. — " The custom by the export- Final prohibi-
ation of slaves here, being now of little advantage to the trade.
Right Honorable Company by their scarcity, and it having
brought upon us great complaints and troubles from the
country government, for the loss of their children and
servants spirited and stolen from them, which being likely to
increase, by the new government of the Mogul's who are


very averse, and prohibit all such trade in his dominions, and
has lately expressed his displeasure therein against the Dutch
for their exporting" of slaves from Metchlepatam. To prevent
which prejudice and mischiefs for the future, and we having
received a late letter from the Seer Lascar about it, — it is
agi'eed and ordered that, after the 20th instant, no person
inhabitant of this place, either Christian or other, do directly
or indirectly buy or transport slaves from this place or any
adjacent Port (whereby the Government may be any ways
troubled or prejudiced) upon the penalty of fifty pagodas for
each slave bought and transported against this our order.
But in consideration that several persons in town have
formerly bought slaves which still remain by them, by reason
of their sickness or want of opportunity to transport them : —
It is agreed tbat they be permitted to ship off such slaves,
provided they give a list of them to the Justices of the
Choultr}^, and produce them publicly there, to be duly ex-
amined and registered. And the better to prevent any
demands upon them hereafter, the Justices are ordered to
proclaim the same by beat of drum; that no person may
pretend ignorance thereof, and that all may come and make
their demands for children and slaves stolen, and upon due
proof, they be delivered to them free of charge.''^

Goikonda Meanwlille there had been a great change iu the

threatened by i»«i-i« t n, i t n

Aurungzeb. political horizon. In 1685, the Sultan of Golkonda
was assailed by the Moghul Emperor Aurungzeb.
The details of the war are of no interest. The
Sultan, however, was in sore extremity ; he called
upon the English at Madras to help him against
the Moghul. The point is only important from its
having elicited the following remarks from the
Court of Directors ; they are evidently penned by
Mr. Josiah Child : —

icstrncfionsof "We know the King of Golconda is rich enough to pay

the Directors. „ ., ... -ii-T i

for any assistance you give him, either in diamonds or


pagodas ; and tlicrefore we intend to l)e at no cliarge for his
assistance against the Mogul, but what he shall pay us for
beforehand, or put diamonds into your hands for the security-
of our payment, both principal and interest.

" For the King of Golconda's writing to you, you may English defy the
acquaint him in a decent and friendly manner, that we are Goiuoiuia.
none of his subjects; wherein we would have you be guided
by the old Proverb, '' suaviter in niodo fortiter in ve." But
if nevertheless he pretend to any dominion over your city,
you may, when you are in a good condition, tell him in plain
terms that we own him for our good friend, ally, and con-
federate and sovereign and lord paramount of all that country,
excepting the small territory belonging to Madras, of which
we claim the sovereignty, and will maintain and defend
against all persons, and govern by our own laws, without any
appeal to any prince or potentate whatsoever, except our
Sovereign Lord the King, paying unto him the King of
Golconda our agreed tribute of 1200 pagodas per annum.
And if ever he break with you upon these terms, we require
you to defend yourselves by arms, and from that time renounce
paying him any more tribute. It being strange to us that
while he is oppressed by the Mogul on one hand, and by a
poor handful of Dutchmen on the other, you should make
yourselves so timorous and fearful of asserting our own King's
just right and prerogative to that important place/' 1

• It may be as well to specify that a pagoda is equivalent to three rupees
eight annas, and that its English value varied from seven shillings to half a
sovereign. A fauam was a smiiU coin worth about twopcuco.



conquered b)'

Destruction of
the English
Factory at


A BOUT 1688 there was a great change in the for-
-^ - ^ tunes of Madras. The Sultan of Golkonda
was conquered by Aurungzeb, and consequently the
English settlement at Madras was brought under
the paramount power of the Great Moghul.

The change was effected at a remarkable crisis.
The English in Bengal had been allowed to esta-
blish a factory at Hughli. They had been prohibited
from building any walls or fortifications, like those
which they possessed at Madras ; they had conse-
quently been exposed to the oppressions and exac-
tions of the Nawab of Bengal ; and on one occasion,
Mr. Job Charnock, the Governor at Hughli, was
imprisoned and scourged by the Nawab.^ The result
was that James the Third_made war upon the Em-
peror Aurungzeb. A squadron of English men-of-war
was sent into the eastern seas to capture and destroy
the ships of the Moghul. xiurungzeb was soon in
alarm. Every complaint was redressed. The war
was brought to a close, but was never forgotten. It
sufficed to keep the peace between the English and
the Moghul authorities for a period of seventy years.

* Orme's Hindustan, Vol. II. The Nawab of Bengal was afterwards
known as the Subahdar. Charnock is often spelt Chaifuock.


The lisfht iu which the war was reo'ardcd by the wa. between
Court of Directors may be gathered from the ^^"'''''"''*
following remarks, which appear in a general letter,
dated 27th August 1688 :—

" The subjects of the Moghul cannot bear a war with the
Englisb for twelve mouths toi^ether^ without starving and
dying by thousands^ for want of work to purchase rice; not
singly for want of our trade, but because by our war we ob-
struct their trade with all the Eastern nations, which is ten
times as much as ours, and all European nations put together.
Therefore we conclude Fort St. George is now much more worth
and secure to us, than ever it was in the mean King of
Golconda's time ; for he had little at sea for us to revenge
ourselves upon ; but now if new injuries should be offered
us, we have a fat enemy to deal with, from whom something
is to be got to bear our charges. Therefore we conclude that
the Moghul's governors will never give us fresh provocations,
nor deny you St. Thome, or anything else you shall reason-
ably and fairly request of him.

" No gi'eat good was ever attained in this world without
throes and convulsions : therefore we must not grudge at what
is past."

The following extracts from the Consultation Mr. chamock at


Books will suffice to tell the story of one result of
the war in Bengal : —

Thunday, 7lh March 1689.^'' Agent Charnock, his
Council and the several Factors and Writers to the number
of twenty-eight persons, being arrived from Bengal, who,
having from tlieir disturbances and sudden surprising depart-
ure thence, laden the Right Honorable Company^s concerns
and remains in great confusion upon the several ships, of
which we have received neither Invoices nor Bills of Lading- :
it is therefore ordered that each Commander shall g-ive a
list of what they have on board."


Nawab of Bengal Mou(laf/,7th Ocloher 1069.— ''l!\ie " Pearl" frigate avriv-
Sush'to ing yesterday from Vizagapatam, and by her came Bengal
return. pcons, wlio brought US several letters and a firman from the

new Nawab of Bengal, Ibrahim Khan, to the President, dated
2nd July, veiy kindly inviting us to return and resettlement,
with assurance of a just and fair usage to the Right Honor-
able Company^s servants and trade, and upon the former
privileges, and to assist us in the recovery of our debts owing
to us in those parts; much blaming the late Nawab^s injustice
and cruelty to our people : which notwithstanding it is most
acceptable news to us as we doubt not it will also be to the
Right Honorable Company ; but our resettlement being a
matter of great weight and importance, it is ordered and
agreed that the Agent, etc., of the Bengal Council be sura-
mond to a Council with us.'^

Thursday, 10th October. — " Agent Charnock and Council
being this day joined with us in Council, the NawaVs letters
and firman from Bengal to the President were perused and
long debated on, and being concluded to be a happy good
opportunity to return and settle in Bengal, that Government
being under that famously just and good Nawab Ibrahim
Khan, who has so kindly invited us to it, and faithfully en-
gaged our peace and safety, of his honour the Agent has had
long experience at Patna; . . . but the war continuing
still at Bombay ... it is agreed that the General of
Surat be advised as soon as possible thereof, and copies of the
firman and letters sent bim, with our opinion thereof, desiring
his advice and orders therein, and that a small vessel be fitted
for that purpose, the overland passage being very uncertain
and dangerous."

Madras, a Durinff tliG latter years of the seventeenth century

Sovereign State. o •/ »*

Madras underwent a great change. It was no
longer a fortified factory ; it had hecome a sovereign
state. Accordingly other qualifications were neces-
sary in men holding the higher appointments than


bad been necessary in tbe earlier days of tbe settle-
ment. Tbe following remarks in a general letter
from tbe Court respecting tbe appointment of a
Mr. Higginson to be Second Member of Council
are wortby of preservation. Tbey are as applicable
now as tbey were two centuries ago. It is difficult
perbaps to say wlio penned tbem ; but from all tliat
is known of Mr. Josiab Cbild, it miii^bt be safelv
inferred tbat be was tbe autbor : —

" Let none of you think much or grudge at the speedy Qualifications
advancement of Mr. Higginson. We do not do it out of any counciL°
partiality to him, for he has no relation here to speak for him,
nor ever had the ambition. to think of such a thing himself;
neither have we done it out of any ill feeling or disrespect to
any others now being of our Council, hut sincerely as we
apprehend for the public good ; knowing him to he a man of
learning, and competently well read in ancient histories of
the Greeks and Latins, which with a good stock of natural
parts, only can render a man fit for Government and Political
Science, martial prudence, and other requisites for ruling over
a great city. This, we say, with some experience of the world
and knowledge of the laws and customs of nations, can alone
qualify men for such a Government, and for treaties of peace
or war, or commerce with foreign Princes. It is not being
bred a boy in India, or studying long there and speaking the
language, understanding critically the trade of the place, that
is sufficient to fit a man for such a command as the Second of
Fort St. George is, or may be in time; though all these
qualifications are very good in their kind, and essotitially
necessary to the well carrying on of the trade ; and little
science was not necessary formerly, when we were in the
state of mere trading merchants. But the case is altered
from that, since his Majesty has been pleased, by his Hoyal
Charters and during his Royal will and pleasure, to form us
into the condition of a Sovereign State in India, that we may



between the
Directors and
the Council.

Form of Muni-
cipal Govern-
ment : Natives
mixed with

offeudj or defend ourselves, and puuish all that injure us in
India as the Dutch do.

" The great trouble we labour under is, that you cannot
get out of your old forms, and your cavilling way of writing,
or perverting or misconstruing, procrastinating or neglect-
ing our. plain and direct orders to you; as if you were not a
subordinate but a co-ordinate power with us ; which has and
will (till you conform to our known minds and intentions)
force us to make more changes in your Council than any-
thing else could have induced us to; of which we hope we
shall have no more hereafter, but that your well understand-
ing and performance of our orders will cause us to change the
style of our letters to you, as we hoped to have done before
this, for which we more earnestly desire a fit occasion than
you can yourselves."

The Court of Directors at this period were
anxious to form a municipal corporation, in which
natives were mixed with English freemen. The
question is an interesting one. The following
paragraphs are extracted from the original instruc-
tions sent out from England : —

" If you could contrive a form of a corporation to be estab-
lished, of the Natives mixed with some English freemen, for
aught we know some public use might be made thereof; and
we might give the members some privileges and pre-eminen-
cies by Charter under our seal, that might please them (as all
men are naturally with a little power) ; and we might make
a public advantage of them, without abating essentially any
part of our dominion when we please to exert it. And it is
not unlikely that the heads of the several castes, being made
Aldermen and some others Burgesses, with power to choose
out of themselves yearly their Mayor, and to tax all the in-
habitants for a Town Hall, or any public buildings for them-
selves to make use of, — your people would more willingly and
liberally disburse five shillings towards the public good, being
taxed by themselves, than sixpence imposed by our despotical


power (notwithstanding- they shall submit to when we see
cause)j were Government to manag-e such a society, as to
make them proud of their honour and preferment, and yet
only ministerial, and subservient to the ends of the Govern-
ment, which under us is yourselves.

" We know this can be no absolute platform for you. You Discretionary
may make great alterations according- to the nature of the ^°"*"^®'
place and the people, and the difference of laws, customs, and
almost everything- else, between England and India; but this
will serve as a foundation from whence to begin your consi-
derations and debates concerning this affair, which will
require great wisdom and much thinking and foresight, to
create such a Corporation in Madras, as will be beneficial to
the Company and place, without the least diminution of the
sovereign power his Majesty has entrusted us with, and which
we are resolved to exercise there during his Majesty^s royal
pleasure and confidence in us."

All this while, however, Madras was exposed to Madras m
great perils. The English were often threatened"*"^''
by the Mahrattas. They were also threatened by
the Moghuls, who had conquered the Sultan of
Golkonda and were taking possession of all his
dominions in the Dekhan and Peninsula as far
south as the river Koleroon.

The following extracts will serve to show the Relations

, ^ between the

early relations between the English and the Moghuls fio^Ms'^anV^^
and Malu-attas. It should be explained that the ^^"^'^''•^''•"'-'
Sivaji, here mentioned, was not the celebrated
f oimder of the Maliratta Empire ; for he had died
as far back as 1680. The name was applied to
his son Ram Raja, who was generally known as
Sivaji, and sometimes as the " New Sivaji."

Saturday, 29tli October 1687. — "Having received a letter Moghuls capture
from Potty Khan, commissioned by the Mogul to be Souba- Madra" s^ilbmits

to the Moghul.


dar of this part of the country, and Governor of Chingleput
Fort as formerly, who advises us that the Mogul has certain-
ly taken Golconda Castle, and the Sultan prisoner; and
that all the considerable Forts and Towns in this country
have already admitted the MoguFs colours and government,
the Towns of Pulicat and St. Thome, our nearest neighbours,
having also submitted thereto ; he also intimating to us
the ceremony and solemnity that was generally performed
at the news of the conquest, implicitly desiring and expect-
ing the same from us ; which being a matter of no great
weight or charge, and may oblige them, and the neglect
do us a prejudice : — It is agreed and ordered that the servant
that brought the letter be presented with perpetuanos, and
that 15 guns be fired at the delivery of the President's
letter to them, and 20 marcalls of paddy given among the
poor, in respect to their customs in such cases/^

Application of a Saturday ^ 7tk January 1688. — This evening the Right
Guardsman. Honorable Company's Chief Merchant acquainted the Presi-
dent that one of the Mogul's Life Guards, seutj down into
these parts to receive his rents, desired to wait upon him
to-morrow ; but doubting he might be too prying and in-
quisitive of the garrison, the President excused his coming
then, as being Sunday, and desired it may be at nine this
night. Three other Members of Council were sent for and
were present at his coming, when after a long discourse of
the Court and Government, he declared the occasion of his
coming was, that he had i-eceived about a lakh of rupees
and 6000 pagodas for the Mogul's account, and had left
it at Poonamallee ; but in regard Sivaji's flying army was
foraging those parts and robbing and plundering, desired
our assistance, supply him with 300 horses, 500 soldiers
and 500 peons to guard it as far as Kistna River; which
he pressed hard, and that it would be most acceptable to
the King (Aurungzeb). But the Governor considering the
unreasonableness and dangerous consequence of undertaking
such a charge, or intermeddling with things of that nature,
returned him for answer, that we should l^e always ready to


serve the Mogul, but that he well knew Sivaji's forces,
and that he had lately taken three Forts and a hundred
Towns very near us, aud done many other mischiefs in the
country, and that this place was also threatened by him, and
that he was within twenty-four hours of us : therefore we
could not spare our forces from our guard. Besides, that

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 9 of 33)