Asia 1793-1796 – part 1

To introduce these chapters on Asian news, I have provided a personal view on a topic that is well-known – Rudyard Kipling’s ‘East is East and West is West and ne’er the twain shall meet.’

In the East, the politician was the inheritor of an ancient system that was known to induce to social happiness by maintaining popular satisfaction in unchanging tranquillity. The ‘jack-in-the-box’ of Asian social organisation was luck. Changes in luck were often presaged by drought or flood causing famine and plague, exodus and re-establishment.

The political organisation of Asia was always based on honourable conduct. It is expressed in the Indian histories – the Chanakya and the Mahabharat and in the statements of Mahavira and the Buddha and of Confucius in China. It is generally described in the west as the rule of propriety. The accumulation of power by anyone is refined and restrained by concurrent insight into the Celestial priorities as revealed by national advantage and adversity.

Comets, meteor showers, the appearance of a new star, an earthquake or volcanic eruption were all auspicious and meaningful but ultimately the means to secure Celestial protection in the settled agrarian states of Asia was always for the government to act honourably. The Chinese had an expression for it, adopted I believe in the Han at the time of Christ, which reveals the Social Contract in that country – ‘the King rules justly, the people obey; the King rules unjustly, the people rebel.’

Power without the knowledge to use it was opposed to everything the East knew of reality – whether it was the warlord or the merchant. Without restraint either one could work endless mischief. China learned this lesson in the period of warring states and has kept it before its people by recital of a splendid story – the Romance of the Three Kingdoms – in which ‘might over right’ in respect of a southern neighbour is considered and repudiated. It is a great story with a fund of original thought on how to deal with a recalcitrant and violent neighbour.

Those who can evidence their understanding of the Heavenly principles by examination will become politicians or administrators. Those who cannot will be governed and there is nothing to chose between any one of them – they all obey the same law and receive the same result.

That law is the moral law derived from an insistence on social harmony. Every act should at least maintain if not elevate society. An individual might complain his neighbour over a lack of respect of this law, but his own position in the family and society depended on others (necessarily according with his luck) and ultimately it was the numbers that identified the correct response. If an individual’s opinion was disputed by others, it must be wrong – an example of genuine democracy absent from the litigious residents in the “Great Democracies” of the west.

To request for some personal advantage was effectively a rebellion against the fundamental law of Heaven which distributed the advantages and disadvantages in accordance with one’s luck – something the British traders at Canton never understood (in India having usurped the government they were always satisfied). Personal advantage was something that might be granted by agreement but always solely as an indulgence or concession and never as a right – that would give rise to an expectation on the part of others and tranquillity would be endangered.

This turned the Eastern analysis of reality, as propounded by the Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tse, etc., into a workable political system. Luck was identified as the basic process out of which cause and effect appeared to manifest.

I’ll give a single but profound example. Land in India was not owned by anyone or, more precisely, it was owned by the Rajah on behalf of the community he managed. A farmer’s son got married and the family went to the Rajah to petition for another field for the son’s expected family. The son would clear his new bit of jungle and plant. He had to meet the Zemindar’s demands but these were negotiable. If the rains failed or disease reduced the crop, the farmer adjusted his contribution. This system is comparable to the stakes that miners registered in California, Yukon, Australia when valuable minerals were found in those places – you had the use of the land so long as you worked it. If you abandoned your stake, someone else could move in and try his luck.

Then Cornwallis arrived with instructions to introduce land ownership in Bengal. The landowner peeled off another layer from the farmer but, unlike the Zemindar’s share, the rent was immutable. The farmer either paid or emigrated with his family to the lands of a native prince where the Company’s Writ did not reach and started over. In some places (the Circars come to mind), the Company’s army would solicit fees from any farmer wishing to emigrate. In this way the villagers were kept immobile and on the razor’s edge of bare maintenance whilst the majority of their production flowed to landowners in the cities.

This simplistic review of different philosophical values is too brief. I believe the important thing to hold in mind is that, for the Westerners, there was no insight into their own motivations, none of that self-questioning that is so intensely Asian in character. Every thought-chain started from the system that conditioned their thinking. Whatever underlay that, evidenced by those occasional twinges of conscience, was analysed and rationalised. The Western world-view starts with birth and ends with death. A body has its five senses that accumulate perceptions and store them as memories providing the database on which all actions are predicated. It goes no further. The Asian response to this mindset was captured by Su Tung Po:

the yee and the teih (types of foreigner) cannot be governed in the same way as China is ruled. They are like brutes and to apply to them the great principle of government would produce anarchy. The former Kings knew this and ruled over them by misrule. To govern by misrule is the way to govern them completely.”

One might say as a statement of existence and a statement of the different viewpoints, that spiritually one knows that God exists whilst intellectually one knows He does not. Ours is a non-interventionist God who can be detected in the extraordinary concatenation of astronomical events that led to life appearing on this planet and in acts of selflessness amongst those life-forms. This is a paradox that arises from unbalanced brain activity and continues to perplex an inquisitive species like ours. Byunbalanced brain activity, I mean respectively selfless and selfish acts.

In the first of the above two states of consciousness we are intensely social and co-operative, as though there is a spark of divinity in everyone that, if it ever united, in the process that started when an archaeum and bacterium united to form the first cell, would be God – the ‘transmission of mind’ of the Chan and Zen schools or ‘where two or three of you shall meet in love” of the Christians. This view carries a certainty of rightness. In the latter we look after ourselves and, when successful, throw a bone to those who cannot. This rational view is based on the counterfeiting of perceptions, by almost unconsciously infecting them with egocentrism, and presenting them as true originals. It is full of confusion and noise – the ‘forest of views’ –  as the Buddha called it.

In the east the natural productivity of the soil and the seas and the long history of husbandry made survival skills useful only when a natural disaster occurred. There was time to watch the grass grow and reflect on the significance of existence. It seems it was the Indians who first evolved the techniques of stilling thought. At any rate the main body of present-day understanding of this subject comes from them. It transpired that those ‘explorers of the mind’ discovered the end of thought was not the end of life – abandoning the ego did not result in death or in becoming a mindless entity – instead there was a new world of deep satisfaction, free of fear, to be had that expressed itself in a feeling of comfortable independence from the usual concerns of mundane living – a release from mortality – and a turning around of the mind to focus and promote the interests of the entire species in so far as one’s colleagues were still caught in the web of objectivity.

While the West sought to conquer the physical universe of time and space; the East left those endeavours to Heaven and focused its attention on the inner world, the self-concept, and by disciplined insight into the root of perception, to remove the objective field from the subjective observer, and, as it were, push him off the heap of supposed logic on which memory dictated his position into the sea of objectively unknowable but essentially real existence.

This act of closing-down thought to escape the grip of the Ego and permit reality to emerge, is the feature of humanity that religion has attempted to monopolise and direct. At an earlier day it was recognised and expressed in the west by the Knight’s vigil, the monk’s retreat, “the dark night of the soul,” the 40 days in the wilderness and it remains precisely that – an endeavour for the few, not a systemic foundation for the many. Western people do not spend months in a monastery as a majority of Thai adults chose to do at some time in their lives. I believe this is the crucial difference between East and West.

These are of course my personal views and a better informed person might reach quite different conclusions.



The first few articles in this chapter relate to the prosecution of Warren Hastings by the British Parliament for maladministration of British India during his Governor-Generalship. The prosecution of Hastings was procured by Burke, Sheridan and the other liberal Whigs on evidence largely obtained by Hasting’s deputy councillor Francis and seems to have been intended primarily as a means of attacking the British King’s patronage and diminishing the monarchy vis-à-vis parliamentary democracy.

Burke sent his brother to India to collect the evidence. It was intended, in the case of a guilty verdict by the Lords, to impugn the imperial system as operated by the India Company and bring Asia within the ambit of Britain’s other colonies governed from London. This would have denied the King his Indian revenue and Indian patronage which would have been transferred to parliament to distribute.

The prominent barrister Sir Thomas Erskine1 delivered an opinion on the Company’s Asian Empire during his successful Defence of the publisher John Stockport at King’s Bench in 1790, against a charge of libel. Stockport had published a pamphlet defending Sir Warren Hastings.

I have included five paragraphs of that successful Defence here as an introduction to the newspaper articles concerning Hastings’ trial.

“… It is mad and preposterous to bring to the standard of justice and humanity, the exercise of a dominion founded upon violence and terror. It may and must be true that Mr Hastings has repeatedly offended against the rights and privileges of Asiatic government, if he was the faithful deputy of a power which could not maintain itself for an hour, without trampling on both: He may and must have offended against the laws of God and nature, if he was the faithful Viceroy of an Empire wrested in blood from the people to whom God and nature had given it: He may and must have preserved that unjust dominion over a timorous and abject nation, by a terrifying, overbearing, insulting superiority, if he was the faithful administrator of your government, which having no root in consent or affection, no foundation in similarity of interests, nor support from any one principle which cements men together in society, could only be upheld by alternate stratagem and force.

“The unhappy people of India, feeble and effeminate as they are from the softness of their climate, and subdued and broken as they have been by the knavery and strength of civilisation, still occasionally start up in all the vigour and intelligence of insulted nature. To be governed at all, they must be governed with a rod of iron; and our Empire in the East would over and over again have been lost to Great Britain if civil skill and military prowess had not united their efforts to support an authority which Heaven never gave, by means which It can never sanction.

“I (Erskine) have not been considering this subject through the cold medium of books, but have been speaking of man and his nature, and of human dominion, from what I have seen of them myself amongst reluctant nations submitting to our authority. I know what they feel, and how such feelings can alone be repressed. I have heard them in my youth from a naked savage, in the indignant character of a Prince surrounded by his subjects, addressing the Governor of a British colony, holding a bundle of sticks in his hand, as the notes of his unlettered eloquence. “Who is it,” said the jealous ruler over the desert encroached upon by the restless foot of English adventure ….. “who is it that causes this river to rise in the high mountains and to empty itself in the ocean? Who is it that causes to blow the loud winds of winter and that calms them again in the summer? Who is it that rears up the shade of these lofty forests, and blasts them with quick lightning at his pleasure? The same Being who gave to you a country on the other side of the waters, and gave ours to us; and by this title we will defend it,” said the warrior throwing down his tomahawk upon the ground and raising the war-sound of his nation. These are the feelings of subjugated men all round the globe; and depend upon it, nothing but fear will control where it is in vain to look for affection.

“These reflections are the only antidotes to those anathemas of superhuman eloquence which have lately shook these walls that surround us; but which it unaccountably falls to my province, whether I will or no, a little to stem the torrent of; by reminding you that you have a mighty sway in Asia, which cannot be maintained by the finer sympathies of life, or the practice of its charities and affections: What will they do for you when surrounded by two hundred thousand men with artillery, cavalry and elephants, calling upon you for their dominions which you have robbed them of? Justice may, no doubt, in such a case forbid the levying of a fine to pay the revolting soldiery: a treaty may stand in the way of increasing a tribute to keep up the very existence of the government; and delicacy for women may forbid all entrance into a zenana for money, what ever may be the necessity for taking it – all these things must ever be occurring. But under the pressure of such constant difficulties, so dangerous to national honour, it might be better perhaps to think of effectually securing it altogether, by recalling our troops and merchants and abandoning our Oriental empire. Until this is done, neither religion nor philosophy can be pressed very far into the aid of reformation and punishment.

“If England, from a lust of ambition and dominion, will insist on maintaining despotic rule over distant and hostile nations, beyond all comparison more numerous and extensive than herself, and give commissions to her Viceroys to govern them with no other instructions than to preserve them and to secure permanently their revenues; with what colour of consistency or reason can she place herself in the moral chair, and affect to be shocked at the execution of her own orders; adverting to the exact measure of wickedness and injustice necessary for their execution, and complaining only of the excess as the immorality, considering her authority as a dispensation for breaking the commands of God and the breach of them as only punishable when contrary to the ordinances of man.”

The charges against Hastings were ultimately dismissed by a large majority of the Law Lords but the transcript, so far as it was reported in the newspapers, provides useful background to the India Company’s early development of its role as sovereign, first in Bengal and eventually throughout the sub-continent.

Saturday 5th September 1795

Warren Hastings was called to the House of Lords on 23rd April. The committee that reviewed the hearing recommended the Lords vote ‘not guilty’ on the 1st seven charges:

  • The 1st charge was that on pretence of war in Europe in July 1778 (of which he had no formal confirmation and his Treasury was already abnormally full), Hastings harassed Cheyt Singh with a requirement for three battalions of sepoys and 500,000 rupees to pay them.
  • The 2nd charge was that in 1779 he demanded another 500,000 rupees from the same man.
  • The 3rd charge was that on 22nd June 1780 he demanded another 500,000 rupees although he had been bribed in 200,000 rupees to desist in the demand.
  • The 4th charge was that he harassed the Rajah of Oudh for money.
  • The 5th that he took a force of troops to the Upper Provinces to arrest the Rajah of Oudh and, in the following unjust war, dispossessed him of his lands.
  • He then (6th charge) attacked the Rajah’s mother in her land of Bidjegur and plundered her.
  • He then (7th charge) appointed Markham to Benares with instructions to force Cheyt Singh’s successor to accept £400,000 to surrender the opium monopoly to the Company.

The 2nd group of three charges related to the Begums:

  • On 21st May 1781 he conspired with the Nabob of Chunar in a treaty that purported to resume the jaghires of the Nabob’s relatives but in fact impoverished them.
  • That he accepted £100,000 from the Nabob as a sweetener at that time, and
  • That he sent Middleton to Fyzbad (where the Nabob’s relatives lived) to occupy the town and extort their wealth.

The 11th – 16th charges concerned bribes he was said to have received:

That on 30th September 1773 he received £40,000 from Nuncomar for putting that man’s nominee in charge of the Bengal Treasury. That Nobkissen paid him a £34,000 bribe. That he took £40,000 from Kelleram as fee to farm the rents of Bihar. That he took another £5,000 from Nundoolal, 1,000,000 rupees from the Vizier and £40,000 from the Zemindar of Radhanny for other inappropriate reasons.

The 4th group of charges related to contracts:

  • Hastings gave the opium monopoly he had just bought to Stephen Sulivan, son of Company’s then Chairman Lawrence Sulivan, for a term of four years. Young Sulivan sold this contract to John Benn for 350,000 rupees annually. Benn sold the contract to Young for £14,900 annually and thus the Company’s government received a reduced income from a valuable commodity.
  • Secondly the contracts for provision of oxen to the Company’s army was sold to Mr Crofts for £50,000.
  • Illegal payments to General Eyre Coote of £18,000 annually.
  • Approving a 15% surcharge on all the Company’s shipping and freight charges ex India when it was fixed by the Directors at 5%.
  • Approving a surcharge of 30% to John Belli in 1776 on all the stores and provisions he bought for Bengal Presidency.

The charges were read individually to each Lord and each voted. Within an hour the opinion of the House was obtained and provided by Cooper to the Lord Chancellor. There were only 27 Lords who voted.

The Lord Chancellor and Earl of Carnarvon voted guilty on all charges; Norfolk, Suffolk and Mansfield voted for conviction on one or two charges each. The result was 21/6 for acquittal. The Lord Chancellor then pronounced the decision of the House – not guilty, absolved by a majority and acquitted.

Upon hearing this news the Company awarded Hastings a pension of £4,000 pa.

During the session, the Stadtholder and his family were in the Queen’s box with Prince William; the visiting Turkish ambassador and his staff were in the Foreign Ministers’ box.

Saturday 12th January 1793

Hasting’s impeachment – The main allegations were that he made unjustifiable demands on Cheyt Sing for money for the public service and for the arrest and expulsion of Cheyt Sing after the massacre of British troops.

Hastings is being prosecuted by the House of Commons. The Judges are the House of Lords. Ellenborough (Edward Law) defends Hastings.

Editor’s comment – “At least he has Law on his side”

Cheyt Sing is not now described as a vagabond or wanderer. Actually, he enjoys the protection of Madajee Sindhia, the great Maratha King, and sits in his Court.

Law says “Hastings is of an advanced age at which his character can be accurately determined by his former acts. No man in the decline in life becomes malicious for the first time. Malice is lodged in the heart and tinges every act throughout life. Many character witnesses have come forward to attest to the fine feelings of this ‘oppressor of suffering nations.’”

NB – the Company operates an Indiaman called ‘Warren Hastings’ and continues to do so throughout the long trial.

Saturday 31st August 1793

Editorial – The trial of Warren Hastings in London is finally coming to an end. We wish Cornwallis would be allowed to take his seat in the House of Lords and be a judge of the case – he knows how his predecessor was instructed. In the normal case of imperial expansion ‘approbation follows success’. In Hastings’ case it is the reverse.

Saturday 31st August 1793

The 102nd day of the trial of Warren Hastings was involved in the examination of Colonel Williams for the defence. A letter in Persian was produced which, it was said, proved the intrigues of Subbah Singh and his brother against the English. Mr Hallet produced a translation but as the letter was unsigned, the prosecution objected to its presentation. The matter was deadlocked until Hastings himself stood and said:

“The hearing is about to be adjourned to allow the court to go on circuit. I had hoped to close my case before that happened. I beg you to sit from day to day to permit completion.

“It is six years since I was accused in this court. Prior to that there was a two year investigation by the Commons. In 1790, when my case was suspended on the dissolution of parliament, I had expected it to be concluded the following year. Now many of my witnesses have died and yesterday I learned of the death of another – John Scott – an important defence witness. Others have been attending here day after day, year after year, and I fear they might also die before being heard. Colonel Duff has come from India to give evidence and he cannot remain here in perpetuity. He may have to leave before he is examined. I ask that the present session of parliament be continued until my case has been presented.”

Burke commenced a reply but their Lordships noted it was 5.30 pm and Lord Sydney made the motion for adjournment.

The following day William Law (later Ellenborough), counsel for the defence, continued his presentation. He established the right of Asofah al Dowlah in Mohamedan law to inherit the estate of Suraj al Dowlah. The mortgage that the Nabob of Oudh made to Suraj’s widow was under a guarantee of the Company which contained the stipulation that, should the money lent be employed prejudicially to the Company’s interest, the right of Assusul to inherit would revive and, as part of his property, it would be available to creditors with claims upon him. So long as she adhered to the conditions of the guarantee she was protected from the demands of her son.

Law argued that Francis forgot this stipulation and proposed to take one million Rupees from the Begum. Hastings recalled the stipulation and declined to do so. Later on another difference arose between the Begum and her son which Mr Bristow resolved by negotiating an agreement between the parties whereby the Begum paid 8.3 million Rupees to Asofah purportedly to pay his troops and quell a mutiny. Hastings thought Bristow had exceeded his instructions but a majority of the Council approved his act.

Law then moved to 1781. In that year our forces under Colonels Baillie and Fletcher were cut to pieces. Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sultan raised Mysore against us; the Marathas and the Nizam were threatening to destroy us in central India, and Cheyt Singh with 30,000 cavalry was on the Bengal frontier.2

It was a time when the Council should have been unanimous. It was at this time that Hastings resolved to make his trip to Lucknow to gauge the disposition of the Nabob of Oudh and investigate the conduct of the Begums. The only Council member present was Wheeler and he approved. Hastings is accused of ambition for this but similar powers were granted to both Clive and Cornwallis.

Arriving at Lucknow, Hastings found the Begums in open revolt. Colonel Gordon and a detachment of sepoys was unable to enter the Begums’ lands because they had erected a battery at the river crossing. While Gordon pondered, the Begums’ agents bribed his force and all but 20 of his men deserted. Gordon and his small group were saved by a British merchant who resided at that place. A similar fate was met by Colonel MacDonald and his detachment. Then rewards were offered in three tiers for the heads of British officers, British troops and the Company’s Indian troops.

Hastings resolved to resume the Jaghire that had been granted by Asofah to the Begums under the Company’s guarantee and to appropriate the funds arising from that land to meet the costs of the war he proposed to fight against them. Recall that Hastings was earlier condemned for not demanding the debt due from Suraj when the contractual condition was broken; now he is again condemned for demanding it.

The prosecution complains that the eunuchs of the Begums were treated with relentless barbarity by Hastings. Contrarily they were lightly confined and allowed every luxury. The Begums were then probably the richest people in the world. The court has been told the ladies were plundered and impoverished by Hastings yet they were now disposed to befriend him!

Law concluded that Hastings had displayed the appropriate balance between severity and leniency in these transactions.

Saturday 23rd November 1793

Before 1773 it was permitted for Company employees to receive presents. At that time, there was only Clive’s Oath to comply with. That Oath was introduced to ensure presents were received for the benefit of the Company and not individual employees. According to General Claverling and Colonel Monson, the presents which the Begum gave to Hastings were for entertainment. It is customary. High ranking Company officers are allowed 2,000 rupees a day whilst they reside at the Nabob’s court. There is no bribery in this matter of the Begum’s presents.

At the time of the matters in the charges against Hastings, a confederacy had been formed against the Company by different powers in India and Hastings purpose was to dismantle it by detaching some of the powers from it. He was opposed in all his plans by Francis and Wheeler. He sent Major Carnac to Sindhia’s capital but the Council opposed him because of the expense. Hastings then applied 200,000 rupees he had received from Cheyt Sing to the venture. He had to advance this money as his own property because Francis and Wheeler, had he called it ‘presents received for the Company’, would have used Clive’s Oath to prevent his using it. Hastings explained to the Directors in London what he had done by the first ship of the season. He was not hiding anything.

Saturday 1st March 1794

The Bengal Hircarrah in its 4th February edition intimates that Wm Windham is being considered for Governor of the Presidency of Bombay. Mr Windham is one of the managers of the prosecution of that great and good man whose virtues are deeply felt in India (Hastings).

The Bengal Hircarrah Editor is accordingly ashamed of his information and has hidden it in a dark corner of his paper where it will be largely overlooked.

Windham is the 2nd greatest landowner in Norfolk (after Coke) and we suppose his absence from England would be detrimental to his own affairs. He is not ambitious for it is well-known he was offered a peerage (to end the persecution of Hastings) and refused it. We hope his brilliant abilities will be found absolutely necessary in England.

Saturday 28th June 1794

The trial of Warren Hastings will continue in the current session of parliament (January 1794) and should include Marquis Cornwallis’ evidence which is expected to be favourable to the defence. There is a mutual esteem between great men that arises from a knowledge of their abilities. Cornwallis will have been able to judge Hastings from his own subsequent tenure as Governor-General.

Saturday 6th September 1794

The Marquis Cornwallis has at last been examined in the Warren Hastings case. He says Hastings was esteemed by the Bengal natives. The Prosecutor asked which zemindars had provided that estimation. Cornwallis said he received all information through his English staff and believed it was correct but he did not speak any Indian languages himself.

He had heard the allegation that Hastings had taken money from Rajah Kelleram of Patna through a third party Ounga Govind Singh but he did not examine into the past, preferring to look forward.

Burke produced a letter of Cornwallis dated 2nd August 1789 which said ‘agriculture and domestic commerce has been declining for many years. All except the Shroffs and Banyans are becoming poorer’. Cornwallis forgot writing it but supposed it was correct at the time. Did he remember going on to say in the same letter ‘even the Zemindars in the Company’s lands are impoverished, partly due to their indolence and partly to our former defective administration.’3 He did.

Another letter dated 18th September 1789 said ‘one third of the Company’s lands is now jungle. Will a ten year lease induce a Proprietor to clear the jungle and encourage ryots to cultivate, when at the end of the decade he faces a new assessment’?

Another of 3rd November 1788 says ‘from frequent changes of system, amongst other reasons, the zemindars and other leaseholders have been impoverished. This country however has fertile soil and industrious farmers. Moderate taxation and good justice should produce great riches to England and the Company.

‘Speculators have talked-up the possibility of immediately increasing revenue whereas a gradual program of increased production will be more enlightened. Desperate adventurers will pay any price for land in the expectation of profiting from the farmers’ production on it. We have often experienced their activities. This is an inhumane policy that distresses the farmers and disappoints the revenue and might result in the depopulation of Company lands’.

Cornwallis remembered writing both letters.

Charles Grey then asked Cornwallis if he recalled receiving a letter from Captain Kirkpatrick, the Resident at Hyderabad, ‘our former character and policy have caused all the Indian rulers to see us as insincere’. He thought he remembered that but did not necessarily agree with Kirkpatrick. Did he think Kirkpatrick’s representation was unfounded? I have given every answer I can, he said.4

Saturday 13th September 1794

Warren Hastings trial 29th April:

Prosecutor Burke MP said he was going to introduce a new line of evidence to convict Hastings of fraud, robbery and forgery in this ‘everlasting’ trial, because William Larkins (the Company’s accountant at Calcutta) had palliated the charges as due to negligence and forgetfulness. Edward Law, for the Defence, was unable to prevent Burke’s initiative.

Readers will recall the trial started 8 sessions ago in parliament with the law lords sitting in judgement. The original charge was that Hastings had diminished the welfare of the Indian people, reduced the revenue of the Company and brought Britain into international disrepute. Burke made little progress in evidencing these complaints. Then he called Larkins, whom it was said, would show Hastings in his true colours. Larkins’ evidence did not progress the prosecution case as expected.

Then Burke produced Nobkissen, a Jewish banker, who had loaned Hastings 300,000 rupees which Hastings paid into the Company’s treasury. When Nobkissen discovered the money had not gone to Hastings but to the Company, he asked for repayment and then issued a Writ and claim. Hastings declined to answer Nobkissen’s complaint while the hearing of his action was pending in the Company’s own commercial courts. Burke said that refusal was tantamount to an admission of guilt. Fox and Angelo Taylor both contended for the admission of Nobkissen’s evidence in the instant case. Burke said the law of parliament is different from the law of the land and had its own precedents for admissibility. Law, Plummer and Dallas for the defence all argued for its exclusion saying Nobkissen had been induced to make his claim four years after Hastings’ trial commenced in order to provide the prosecution with new grounds of complaint. The Law Lords ruled the evidence inadmissible.

The trial has already cost £100,000 (Editor – equivalent to the annual expense of the American Federal government) and there is still no end in sight. It is hoped to be concluded in this session.

Saturday 6th December 1794

The trial of Warren Hastings, 28th May:

On this 140th day of trial (its being heard at a rate of about 20 days a year), Burke for the prosecution told their Lordships that the honour of the Commons required a conviction:

This prosecution was not commenced flippantly. Neither was it forced upon parliament by the will of the people. It resulted from laborious enquiry and debate. We spent years investigating. An acquittal of Hastings would be a conviction of the entire House of Commons and we managers of his prosecution will retire from the Bar in shame.

In 1782 several resolutions were proposed to MPs by Dundas, the then Lord Advocate of Scotland (now a principal Secretary of State). Those resolutions were agreed by the House and referred to a committee of enquiry which confirmed the determination of the Commons in its report.

In order to relieve their Lordships of great detail, a considerable amount of evidence was excluded and we proceeded on only four charges – the first two are the Benares and Begum charges which were to show Hastings’ violence and tyranny; the last two were to show his greed.

The defendant has been insolent throughout the proceedings, Burke continued. He is impeached before the highest court in the land and all he says is the MPs are misguided and have used violent language against him. He says, he has done nothing wrong and he brings character witnesses. That’s the entire Defence.

At an early part of the hearing, Hastings petitioned the Lords to say he had spent £30,000 on his defence and the corresponding expenses of the Commons in prosecuting him, which are enormous, were obviously and alarmingly over-stated. Well, one item in that £30,000 is £6,000 for copying clerks, however, the Company’s Directors have told the prosecution that they permitted Hastings to have copies of whatever he wanted gratis. So this £6,000 is a lie.

Hastings has told you that in India ‘the power of the sovereign is everything, the rights of the people are nothing’. He says the Indian people have no sense of honour, no notion of equity or justice, and that they live in slavery without property. Burke contrarily noted that Indians are amongst the most honourable of people. That there are cases of Indian women being accused and acquitted with honour who then killed themselves because of the stain of the prosecution on their characters. He noted cases of Indian sepoys condemned by the Company to be blown apart at the mouth of a cannon, who still maintained their honour in the face of this dire punishment. As regards equity and justice, I refer to Halbed’s recent book on Indian law which shows it is as good as ours (and incidentally shows that the people have property). There are many other facts that reveal all Hastings’ comments on India and the Indians are nonsense.

Saturday 10th January 1795

Chamberlain John Wilkes (of North Briton fame) has given the freedom of the City of London to the Marquis Cornwallis on 5th April 1794. In his eulogy Wilkes said:

“The City thanks you for your services in the East. You have extended the empire and added an annual income of £500,000 (the estimated land revenue from Tippoo’s cessions) to the Company. You are also honoured for your care of the troops and mild administration of the natives.

“You have effected the plan of Warren Hastings and adhered to it with liberality. Hastings rose above great difficulties to preserve our empire – you have extended it.”

Saturday 7th February 1795

House of Commons: Pitt moved that the managers of Hasting’s impeachment be thanked. Dundas seconded the motion. Sumner, one of the India Company’s MPs, said it prejudiced Hastings to call for a vote of thanks before judgment. The Speaker of the House noted that in the earlier cases of Lord Macclesfield and Dr Sacheverall, thanks had been voted before the judicial decision was made.5

Sumner reprobated the terms used by the prosecution managers (actually Burke) to describe the Company’s officers – ‘thieves, robbers, swindlers’ – that degraded every man who had served in India. He particularly resented the prosecutors’ demand of the Lords that Hastings must be convicted to uphold the dignity of the Commons. Wigley agreed. Windham defended the prosecution language and said it had to be understood in context. Fox also defended Burke. A vote on Sumner’s motion for reprobation failed 21/50.

A vote to give parliamentary thanks to the Prosecutors then passed 50/21. The Speaker thanked the managers of Hastings’ prosecution – “You have acquitted yourselves well and maintained the honour of this House. You have established a valuable precedent – that impeachment is not interrupted by a dissolution of parliament. The command of this House is to give you its thanks.”

Editor – Burke then announced his retirement from politics. We have searched the London newspapers but, whilst they report the thanks of parliament to the prosecutors, there is still no report of the judgement. As parliament is now prorogued, we suppose judgement is reserved until the next session.

Saturday 25th July 1795

The House of Lords was cleared of strangers on 2nd March prior to the Lords giving their judgment on the prosecution of Warren Hastings. The reasoning of the judgment is not recorded but Hastings was acquitted on all counts.

Saturday 17th October 1795

The British residents of Calcutta have been organised by Colonel Morgan to present their congratulations to Warren Hastings on escaping the violence of the House of Commons. A Committee of ten drafted the address:

“When you left here we told you of our great appreciation. Now we congratulate you on your acquittal. We admire your patience and fortitude. The justice of your cause is established. Your acquittal is a triumph for you and for our system of justice. This long trial has prevented your attending to your own interests. We hope your remaining years will compensate for that loss.”

The Address has been left in Lefevre’s Tavern (ex Le Gallais tavern) for the signature of anyone who wishes to join-in our happiness.

(The Governor-General and CiC repudiated this initiative in the 7th November edition – not recited in this text)

Saturday 31st October 1795

The Company’s shareholders met at India House to consider paying for Warren Hastings’ defence. Sir Stephen Lushington was in the Chair. W Lushington moved the proposal – the charges against Hastings concerned those of his public acts that produced great wealth for the Company. He did not personally make anything out of them. He has now been acquitted of impropriety and we wish to reimburse his expenses.

Hastings became 2nd in Council in 1762 and assumed control in 1772. We had a serious cashflow problem then. He squeezed an extra £800,000 a year out of the salt monopoly. He adopted other revenue-improvement measures which all together increased our Bengal income by £2 millions a year. This enhanced revenue augmented the dividend.

Hastings receives a pension of £1,000 per year and his wife has an income of about twice that. On that income he cannot maintain his family in the way we would wish. The cost of his defence was £70,000 which he is responsible to pay.

  • Lushington wished to obtain shareholder approval for payment of the costs as a first step.
  • His second proposal was for Hastings to provide a statement of legal costs which the Company would meet.
  • The third was for a grant to Hastings of £5,000 per year from 1783 for twenty years.

Lord Kinnaird and M/s Knox and Adair spoke warmly of Hastings’ virtues. Haywood thought the proposals were ultra vires. Randle Jackson agreed that the proposals would better come from the Directors after taking legal advice. He thought Hastings should first apply to the House of Commons for his costs – it was Burke and a few other MPs who put him to the expense. Major Scott recalled that Hastings had already explored the recovery of his costs but Pitt declined to recommend it to the King. Pitt thought, as the Company was the beneficiary of Hastings initiatives, it should pick up the tab. The first two proposals were then approved. The third proposal of a grant of £5,000 was also approved but is to commence last 1st January and continue until Charter renewal in 1813.

The matter was debated in the Commons the next day on a motion of one of the Company’s MPs. Dundas said territorial revenue was controlled by the Board of Control and could not be applied as suggested by the shareholders. The other source of company income was from commerce – the sale of Eastern goods in England. He thought the payments might come within this latter head if they appeared as expenses, charges or other outgoings associated with commerce. He concluded that the Company’s structure since Clive’s shareholder rebellion had denied any power to the owners – they could vote nothing. The Directors might issue the money but would retain a personal liability for the legality of their acts.

Saturday 14th May 1796

A Directors’ meeting was held at India House on 15th October 1795:

David Scott was in the Chair. Lushington said Warren Hastings’ merits needed no review. He proposed a motion “this Court regrets that its resolutions of 2nd and 3rd June approving payment of Hasting’s legal bills had not been acted upon.” Hastings increased the Company’s Bengal revenues by £1.5 millions per year. Lushington recalled the Court approved a payment of £10,000 to Verelst after he was criticised.6

Tolfrey recalled the Company had paid the legal expenses of the Patna Council at the time they were prosecuted at the passage of the last India Bill. The successful defence by Hastings had pre-empted the need for the Company to repay the money he took – it was worth a reward. Hastings was the first person to survive a parliamentary impeachment on the merits of his case.

Twining was for paying the legal costs but not an annuity. Hastings was already old and any annuity would soon devolve on some unworthy relative, he thought. The Deputy Chairman, Sir Francis Baring and Mr Inglis both spoke in praise of Hastings. It was agreed that another Court would be called to decide the matter of reward for Hastings.

Saturday 1st October 1796

London – the Board of Control has permitted the Directors to pay Warren Hastings a 28-year annuity of £4,000 per year, backdated to June 1785 to ensure it expires before next Charter renewal.

Saturday 19th March 1814

Warren Hastings has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford for his extensive knowledge of literature, arts and sciences. A large crowd was unusually warm in its appreciation and an orchestra played.

Dr Phillimore, Professor of Civil Law, presented the degree and eulogised Hastings in a fine Latin speech.

Thursday 18th August 1814 Extraordinary

Warren Hastings was made a Privy Councillor in May 1814. (the selection of Privy Councillors is made by the Monarch.)

Tuesday 14th March 1815 Extraordinary

The Board of Control has approved a number of Company pensions that had been left pending Charter renewal inter alia £4,000 a year for life to Warren Hastings.



That completes what I have recorded from the newspapers respecting Warren Hastings. This document now resumes with general Asian news in chronological order.

I will note that from the date of Plassey, the East India Company assumed a political character and its commerce was maintained only as a means of remitting the wealth of India to London for its shareholders and ex-employees. John Nicholls MP describes the Company’s structure quite delightfully in his splendid Recollections and Reflections Personal and Political – “The Company became a Republic. The Proprietors of stock were the Citizens of that Republic, and the Directors the Senate, through which the Company conducted its affairs …… This Republic was an empire within an empire: it stood in need of protection from the nation; and in granting this protection, it is not wonderful that the Ministers, at different periods, availed themselves of the Company’s necessities to usurp a portion of the patronage.”

By the 1790s the India Company had some 60+ Members of Parliament acting in its interests as shareholders and Directors. From the reported debates in the Commons on Company affairs there was seldom more than a hundred MPs present. I am unaware of the numbers of MPs constituting a quorum at that time but it appears probable that the Company legislated for itself. Dundas (Melville) was skilled in getting the Company’s wishes enacted but Castlereagh’s early attempts, which are recorded in the newspaper articles of this period, were laughable and, one supposes, could not have succeeded had the Representatives not already made up their minds to be supportive. These considerations seem to explain why successive London ministries were unable to exert much influence on the Company.

In this chapter are reports on the assimilation of the India Company’s army to the King’s. This was one of the very few London initiatives that succeeded. The reader will also find articles recording events in Burma and Assam and with the Muggs; the conquest of Dutch colonies; the Madras army mutiny; the birth of Singapore; Crawfurd’s abortive mission to Thailand, together with considerable reporting of day-to-day matters.

Matters relating to France in Asia, Afghanistan and its neighbours, Tibet & Nepal, and such reports as reveal something of the economic policy of the Company are in their own dedicated chapters but they all, more or less, rely on some knowledge of the information in this chapter. I should also say that some articles about Mysore appear only in the France in Asia chapter.



19th/20th January 1793

John Shore has been appointed Governor-General of India in Bengal.

The Scotsman Murdoch Brown, Imperial (Austrian) consul general to Portuguese Asian possessions, has arrived at Goa on the Henrietta.7

19th/20th January 1793

Calcutta News – The Company has chartered the Pitt to carry 7,000 bags of saltpetre from Diamond Harbour (within Diamond Point) to London.8

The American ship Aurora (Meek) has arrived Bombay from Mauritius

19th/20th January 1793

The Malwan pirate fleet on the west coast attacked the coasting merchantmen Ceres and Hunter but was beaten off.

Saturday 2nd February 1793

The Ceres has arrived Bombay. She left Batavia 12th November when Lord Macartney and his embassy were daily expected. 17 Dutch Indiamen had just left that port for Europe, each half-loaded with coffee.

The annual Portuguese ship from Timor had just arrived at Batavia and reported Captain Bligh had visited Timor from Otaheite on 2nd October 1792 with 1,800 breadfruit plants and some other exotic vegetable.9

Saturday 2nd February 1793

Abuses in the Mofussel courts of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa have precipitated a demand for their abolition and the substitution of British courts and judges. The new arrangements are expected to occur contemporaneously with the revision of the duties of the Collectors. It is also proposed to appoint supervisors over the Collectors.

Editor – This is all rumour but it is expected the Governor-General will confirm the fact before he leaves.

Saturday 9th February 1793

The Dundee (Hunter) has just arrived at Bombay, having been taken by pirates off Gheriah, on the South West (Malabar) coast of peninsula India (a pirate base for decades). She had been en route to Surat with a cargo of silk. The pirate fleet was comprised of one ketch and six gallivats.10

Hunter had bought a pass (issued by the Bombay Government in July 1792 pursuant to a treaty which the Company made with the pirates) and showed it to their chief who said it had expired. Captain Hunter was then killed and the 2nd Mate seriously injured whilst the Chief Mate escaped.

The survivors say the theft of the cargo continued for five hours.

Saturday 9th February 1793

Our new settlement on the Andamans is sited near the mouth of an excellent harbour and we have called it Port Cornwallis. A few years ago we avoided these islands supposing they were occupied by cannibals. We have since found the natives to be friendly.

They are short people, almost naked. They seem to be monogamous. They are experts with the bow and arrow which they invariably carry.

The islands have fertile soil and all the common tropical fruits and vegetables are readily available. The seas teem with fish.

The Company previously had a factory at the other port11 but has removed to the new location. There is a waterfall nearby for vessels to water. The factory itself is supplied from a tank. Captain Blair, who commands the settlement for the Company, is constructing houses at the new location.

Saturday 9th February 1793

The Eton Club dines with Lord Cornwallis today. There are now 16 Old Etonians in Calcutta and 8 graduates of Westminster School, the two prime academies in England. In 1759 there were not 35 liberally educated men in all Bengal. The consequences for India are obvious.

Saturday 2nd March 1793

The Company’s ships Rockingham, Thetis, Hornby and Middlesex sailed from Canton on 1st January 1793 on their return to India and England. So did the country ship Gungaver (Robertson) for Surat.

Saturday 2nd March 1793

The Rajah of Colapore is the chief of the Malwans.

Saturday 9th March 1793

The Surat fleet arrived Bombay last Monday under convoy.12 Several fires are reported at Surat including a large one near the Durbar that consumed 200 houses.

Saturday 30th March 1793

Notice – Thomas Herring has been appointed Paymaster General to the Company’s Army. He has accordingly relinquished his partnership in our company. Signed for Rivett Wilkinson & Co, 22nd March 1793.

Saturday 6th April 1793

Notice – M/s John Forbes & Co., will auction Madras and Bengal piece goods on 8th March at their godown next to Mr Galley’s house in Bombay.

Saturday 13th April 1793

Sir John Shore landed at Fort William on 16th March 1793. He went to Government House and met Cornwallis. On Tuesday 18th March he breakfasted with Cornwallis but did not attend the subsequent levee.

Saturday 13th April 1793

The frigate HMS Blanche sailed from England on 28th October 1792 on a secret assignment. She has provisions and stores on board for a long voyage and is believed to be intending a cruise in Far Eastern waters. She was spoken off Madeira but did not reveal her destination.

Saturday 20th April 1793

Courts of Appeal have been established at Patna, Calcutta, Dacca and Moorshedabad and staffed. City courts have been created at Dacca, Patna and Moorshedabad. 23 subsidiary courts have been established in other towns. The inferior Judges at Sylhet and Ramghur are also the district Collectors.

Saturday 4th May 1793

There is a shipping report in each edition of the Bombay Courier. Most of the local Bombay shipping trades with Surat bringing back Maratha cotton; some French vessels come in from / to Mauritius. There is also a small amount of trade down the coast to the south, which increases with the Company’s new Malabar possessions; to Calcutta; to the Persian Gulf for frankincense and infrequently to Mocha (Al Mukha) at the mouth of the Red Sea for coffee. The only ships so far this year that are published as going to China are Company’s ships.13

Saturday 18th May 1793

Lowjee Family (Elmore) has arrived at Bombay from China14

Saturday 11th May 1793

Colonel Hartley’s detachment of troops, who are entitled to a share in the property seized at Chow Ghaut, may receive their share at M/s Bruce, Fawcett & Co on or after 15th May 1793

Saturday 11th May 1793

The President in Council has resolved that the escort provided to the Company’s Resident at Poona (to the Court of the Peshwa), will be considered an independent corps in the same manner as the escorts to the Residents at Hyderabad (to the Nizam) and to the court of Madajie Sindhia.

The escort will comprise two companies of 82 men each. Capt Heirne and Lt Ward will continue on the strength of the corps but will return on demand to Poona.15

Saturday 11th May 1793

Calcutta news – The brig Venus has arrived from Macau. This ship, together with Halcyon (Barkley), was fitted-out by Lambert Ross & Co for the N W coast of America.16 M/s Lambert & Ross have opened many new areas to trade. The Venus sailed on 1st January 1791 and parted company in the Eastern islands from whence the Halcyon sailed to Kamchatka and thence to the American west coast.

The Venus sailed up the American west coast starting in June and met the Spanish warship Princessa. At Nootka Sound she met the Spanish frigate St. Estradez. The Spanish commodore Don Guadro is living ashore there. The Spanish force is at Nootka to settle the dispute with Britain in terms of the recent convention.

Venus left the American coast in November and arrived at Hawaii in the Sandwich Islands in December. She reports that the islanders remain friendly to Europeans and she received a good supply of meat and vegetables and water from them.

The rumoured hostility arose from the activities of the Daedalus storeship at Oahu. The crew became impatient with the islanders, who deliver water in calabashes, and tried to send their own watering party with casks. The islanders understood this as an attempt to take water for free and attacked the boat’s crew, killing the victualler, the ship’s astronomer and one of the crew. No-one else attempted to land and the traditional slow watering method was then resumed.

The Venus arrived in China in February.

Saturday 11th May 1793

Asian news from Calcutta:

  • A ship has arrived from Pegu17 and reports peace between the Thais and the King of Ava. The Pegu people have captured Tavoy. The ships detained by the King of Ava for his service are being returned to their owners and they have been licensed to export a stated amount of Burmese rice and timber as compensation to the owners.
  • The Sarah from Ostend touched at Aceh where the Sultan is in conflict with his neighbours. The Captain was pressed to assist but declined. Gunpowder is in great demand at any price.
  • An action in Banka Straits has occurred between an armed Dutch cutter and pirates. The action was long and bloody and eventually the Dutch were forced to retreat with the Malays pursuing.

Saturday 25th May 1793

Local news – Captain Burgess has brought out some London goods on the Earl of Chesterfield which he now offers for sale:

Millinery, watches, jewellery, shoes, stockings, new sheet music, a barrel organ, a ladies’ side saddle, cloth, hats and sundries.

Visit the house lately occupied by Commodore Robinson for inspection.

NB – there are two other advertisements in this edition for London goods ex Brunswick (wine, beer, salt fish and meat) and Bombay Castle.18

Saturday 25th May 1793

Lt Thomas has brought off the remaining Madrassi settlers from Coco Island. They were taken there by a European trader to express coconut oil. He built a windmill for the purpose but the venture was not commercially workable and he left.

The greater part of the people he brought to Coco Island also left recently on a raft for Pegu and are feared lost at sea.19

Saturday 25th May 1793

The first ship of this season, the Royal Charlotte, left the Downs at end December for St Helena, the Indian coast and China.

Saturday 1st June 1793

M/s White and Nash have bought part of Captain Cooper’s cargo of privileged tonnage ex Brunswick and offer it for sale – wine, food and soap.

Saturday 1st June 1793

The Surat Castle, Benefit, Taxbux and King George sailed from Bombay 27th and 28th May for China.

Saturday 1st June 1793

The ship American from New York has arrived 30th May with a cargo of spars, planks, tar, coal, salt beef and salt fish.

Saturday 1st June 1793

Calcutta news – for the entire month of April, no ship has been able to leave the river due to strong contrary winds.

Saturday 8th June 1793

Calcutta news about the Andamans:

Sufficient space has been cleared at New Harbour on the Andamans for a village or for planting. Scurvy has disabled many of our Bengal settlers but we expect to have vegetable crops harvested soon.

We exist on animal and salted foods.

Disease is common but as we clear away the fallen trees and vegetation and expose the area to the sea breezes, it should reduce.

Lt Wales is proceeding in the Cornwallis to the Pedier coast to contact the Datoos and procure grain. We expect to be able to make reciprocal trade soon.

Saturday 15th June 1793

The Company’s factory at Basra has moved from the city to the island of Carrack.20

Saturday 15th June 1793

Shipping at Bombay – 17th June Washington (Thomas Randall) arrived from New York.

The Company’s ship Warley has arrived. She left England on 19th January. She brings as passengers the writers L G K Murray and R Parry, two free mariners G Stewart and R Burn and some Company cadets.

No shipping departures will be published for the time being in view of hostilities in Europe.

Saturday 29th June 1793

The Maratha chiefs Sindhia and Holkar are still in dispute and the former is winning. A truce held for a while but was broken by Holkar’s men. A military engagement ensued which Sindhia won. Holkar’s infantry was seriously diminished. Boyd and another Englishman and Horneyman, a Dane, were marching some troops to Holkar’s aid when they were captured by Sindhia.

Saturday 6th July 1793

Notice 5th July – all persons may make bricks and chunam for their own use or for sale. Signed for President-in-Council, Bombay.

Saturday 13th July 1793

Notice – The Company’s factory at Basra has moved to Graine and not to Carrack as previously reported.

Saturday 13th July 1793

Letter from Tellicherry, 1st June 1793:

The 2nd Battalion has been sent against some Moplas in the south. They were cornered in a fortified house where Capt Burchall used a gun but effected only a small breach. He then surrounded the house intending to storm it in the morning.

At midnight the Moplas cut their way out, killing 5 sepoys and Lt Gibbons and wounding others. Three were caught and debriefed. They say they are vackeels of Tippoo. During the attack some Moplas came down from the hills and fired on the British party under cover of the jungle.

Saturday 13th July 1793

The sloop Cornwallis has arrived at Bombay. It left Muscat 17th June. It is owned by Major MacDonald who collected a packet of European letters at Muscat containing intelligence from England to end February and from the continent to mid March. We learned that we are at war with France.

Within a few hours of receipt of this intelligence, numerous applications for letters of marque were made by captains of country ships.21 All applicants were told their requests would be complied with.

Saturday 20th July 1793

Mr Greenway (Proprietor of the Calcutta Courier) has announced his acquisition of a copperplate press at his office.

Saturday 17th July 1793

The Royal Charlotte (Stephenson) arrived St Helena on 28th February with General Goddard, Captain Wakefield and his force. The Governor then embargoed all shipping, English and foreign, at that port.

The Royal Charlotte and Goddard’s force departed on 5th March and arrived Madras earlier this month. On 4th April the Governor of St Helena allowed the foreign ships to depart.

Saturday 3rd August 1793

Arrivals – The Hussar (Bruce) has arrived from Mocha with passengers James Hodgson and Richard Church. They have been conducting Company business at Mocha for several months.22

Saturday 3rd August 1793

The American ship Canton (Mackie) has arrived from Philadelphia via the Cape and reports that two Dutch frigates have arrived there and more are expected.

Saturday 10th August 1793

On 7th August General Abercromby embarked on the Swallow for Madras en route to Bengal where he will assume command of H M’s and the Company’s troops in India in the room of Marquis Cornwallis. The Company’s cruiser Scorpion sailed in company.

Saturday 17th August 1793

John Tasker and Hormusjee Bomanjee will launch their newly built teak ship Upton Castle on 21st August. She got in her masts last Thursday in the harbour and was then docked for coppering.

Saturday 17th August 1793

On 10th April, the Company elected six new Directors by rotation – Simon Frazer, Charles Mills, Thomas Parry, Abraham Robarts, David Scott and George Tatem. They were unopposed.

Saturday 24th August 1793

Sale – The Hulk Goodwill and two luggage boats are to be sold by public outcry on the marine hard on 10th September. Any successful purchaser who intends to break-up a vessel must do so at Mazagon.

Saturday 24th August 1793

Notice – Abraham Samuels has died at Cochin on 29th June 1793. Anyone interested in his Estate should send their accounts to Meyer, Rahaby or Solomon Norden at Cochin.23

Saturday 24th August 1793

At the Quarter Sessions last Monday several prosecutions were thrown out, some were deferred and eight natives were found guilty of various (unmentioned) offences. They will be whipped, pilloried, fined or imprisoned as awarded.

Saturday 24th August 1793

From recently received English papers, we see the Captains of the Indiamen London and Barwill have taken their leave at India House but may not sail for some weeks yet as they have to await convoy. Delay should be expected and interested parties need not feel anxious.24

Saturday 31st August 1793

Madras news:

  • The Nabob of Arcot’s galley Success was pursued by two French ships off Aden whilst en voyage from Mocha. She has arrived safely. The ship is used by the Nabob to convey pilgrims to Mecca each year.
  • The native and European merchants of Madras propose subscribing to a fund to build a proper privateer to be given to the Admiral.

Saturday 31st August 1793

Calcutta news:

  • HMS Triton is cruising the Bay of Bengal to protect shipping.
  • Admiral Cornwallis has unsuccessfully chased the French frigate Sybil (44). She is loitering off Pondicherry. The only neutral port on the whole coast is the Danish base at Tranquebar. The Sybil stopped there for information then sailed north but we expect she will return.
  • The Hampshire captured a French snow called Active off Aceh. It was en route from Aceh to Pegu with a cargo of red beetle (cochineal) colouring.
  • Private British and Irish merchants are pressing their claims on the Company for access to Indian trade. If an agreement cannot be reached, they say they will petition parliament to oppose the extension of the Charter.

Saturday 7th September 1793

Pondicherry – The French garrison here intend resistance. They have fired several hundred pieces of cannon without effect.

Braithwaite is besieging the town with 2,000 men of whom 1,200 are Europeans. He has 110 cannon. The French have carefully repaired the damage done in our last siege. It is intended to open our attack on ‘the glorious 10th August’. An enfilading battery has been constructed quite close to the fort’s walls. Our men can hear the French sentries challenging but the breeze is off the sea and they cannot hear us.

On 12th August there was incessant firing from the fort all night. 2 men of the 72nd and a sepoy were killed. A French cavalry officer was captured on the night of 11th August when riding too close to our outpost. He is to be sent to Madras. He says the garrison is riotous and disorderly.

The cruiser Drake has joined the Admiral’s force off the coast.

Saturday 7th September 1793

Bengal news:

  • Penang reports three Indiamen – Surat Castle and King George, both en route to China, and the York, en route to Manila, passed that island on 21st June.
  • The Parsee merchants at Calcutta say the Lowjee Family was captured between Ceylon and Madras. It sailed under convoy from here on 25th July for China.

Saturday 7th September 1793

Madras news – The Company ships Princess Amelia, Britannia, Francis, Rodney and Berrington have arrived from Spithead. They were convoyed by HMS Powerful and HMS Boyne as far as the Cape.

Saturday 14th September 1793

Sheera Singh v Bullechey Singh is an action in the Supreme Court at Calcutta, sitting in its Equitable Jurisdiction, to ascertain title to the Estate of Omichand Baboo, an important figure during the government of Lord Clive. Four letters written by Omichand in Nagree characters were presented by Sheera Singh and appear to constitute a Will. The defendant says another Will was made.

The Plaintiff says the four papers authorise a bequest of 100,000 rupees to Rajah Dialchund and his mother. The remainder of Omichand’s vast Estate was given to Huzreemull to expend on religion. Huzreemull was cauzanshier to the Company and there came a time when he had to leave Calcutta. Then he proposed to leave his son and Dialchand in possession of the Estate but Dialchand objected and he was consequently made sole manager of it. An agreement was drawn-up between Huzreemull and Dialchand which inter alia allowed the former to draw 1,000 Sicca rupees per month from the income of the Estate.25 Dialchand then ran the Estate into debt and when Huzreemull returned, a dispute commenced. Huzreemull took back the management of the Estate. Before his death he made a Will but did not immediately sign it as he required a particular witness who was not then available. This unsigned Will gave the management of the Estate to Mr Levitt, an alderman and member of the Mayor’s court, assisted by Mohan Dutt and was to continue until the present lessor, the Plaintiff, should come of age when ownership would be transferred to him. The Plaintiff is the adopted son of Roy Mulichand, who is the natural son of Huzreemull, who acknowledged the adoption.

For the Defence, Dialchand satisfied the Court that he was the paula betta or adopted son of Omichand and the rightful heir. He produced a Deed in Bengali signed by Huzreemull and Dialchand agreeing when Dialchand came of age, he would inherit the Estate, and he called on Huzreemull to deliver. Huzreemull prevaricated but eventually delivered up the bulk of the Estate and the first two deeds were executed in Bengali, a language that Dialchand says he does not understand. He had it translated and was displeased to find it differed materially from what had been discussed. He called in Kirperaum Ghose, an old servant of Omichand’s, to mediate and the first two deeds were then cancelled and a third one substituted containing the terms settled by Ghose.

Judgment for the Defendant.

Saturday 21st September 1793

Notice – the ships Barwill and London will be dispatched to London at the beginning of November. They will carry the Company’s accounts to London. All Company offices are required to deliver their accounting records in duplicate before 20th October.

Saturday 21st September 1793

The Company’s fleet left Portsmouth on 22nd May convoyed by Lord Hood’s squadron. The Indiamen are Ceres, Thurlow, Prince Wm Henry, Osterly, Houghton, Oxford, Lansdown, Glatton, Fort William, Abervagenny, Wm Pitt and Pigott.

The squadron escorted the fleet to Gibraltar where HMS Ardent took over to Madeira. The fleet captured a French ship laden with indigo off the Cape and sent her to England under a prize crew.

The London and Barwell have now arrived here in Bombay. They bring news from Europe to 20th May.

Saturday 28th September 1793

Advertisement – For sale under the residence of Mr Wales the following books:

The Annual Register, Life of Charles V by Robertson, Political Justice by Godwin, Nicholson’s Dictionary and 11 assorted books on medicine and tropical diseases.

Saturday 28th September 1793

The Bombay Courier has advertisements for lotteries every week, mostly the official numbers-game lotteries operated by each Presidency but infrequently something different, like the following:

Two dwelling houses, a service of silver plate and two excellent palanquins are offered for sale by lottery as 26 prizes.

148 tickets will be issued at Rupees 50 each. If you win but do not want the prize, you can have its declared cash value instead, less 15% administration charge.

Further details are shown on the handbills posted at the Lyceum.

Saturday 28th September 1793

The violent storm experienced last Thursday is called the Elephanta by the natives and, they say, signals the end of the summer monsoon.26 We have seldom been in expectation of such a plentiful harvest as this year.

Saturday 28th September 1793

John Smith Burgess, late Chairman of the Company, was made a baronet by King George III on 4th May.

Saturday 5th October 1793

Notice – all volunteers in the Company’s Bombay Marine are required to return to their stations by 1st June 1794 or be struck off the register.

Saturday 12th October 1793

Editorial – Since the loss of America, it is India that provides a preponderant part of the resources of the British empire.

A book has been published ‘Historical View of Plans for the Government of British India, and Regulation of Trade to the East Indies27 which explains our Indian affairs authoritatively. Parliament is now planning the future employment of this resource.

Land and industry in India should be assessed on principles that both strengthen the attachment of the Indians to us and maximise the commercial value of our possessions. If monopoly trade is to end, the Company has to be compensated in a reasonable way. If the Company’s privileges are to be renewed under Charter, the public may expect a reasonable consideration for the grant.

We think it necessary for parliament to renew the Charter – British territory in East Indies, and the revenue derived from it, should remain with the Company.

People familiar with the methods of the Company will find this book boring. For those who take only a general view of the Company, the minute particulars in the book will be important. Government suitable for the Hindu arises from his history and culture. Perfect systems of administration appear only on paper and, unless they accord with the wishes of a majority, threaten the government of the people who attempt them. In every historical age we find examples of two recurring themes – that opinion always defeats force, and custom defeats innovation. Wise Legislators adapt government to the common usages of the people they administer rather than attempt to force their unilateral ideas on a reluctant and resentful populace. Even when those ideas seem capable of improving the lot of the people they must be introduced gradually and incrementally.

Saturday 12th October 1793

The Zamorin’s Head Minister has been assassinated at Calicut and the Rajah’s 7th son is suspected.28 A reward is offered for information.

Saturday 12th October 1793

Homnabad has become a regional commercial city. Goods from Poona, Hyderabad, Buchampur, Surat, Nagpur, Chundkairy and Aurangabad collect here for forwarding to Tippoo’s territories via Kurpa or Bellary. Horses and camels can travel these routes.

The city revenues belong to Shumse-al-Omrah’s group but (with Tippoo diminished) the Nizam’s minister wishes to get control of them. He is refurbishing Mohamedabad Bider (which stands on part of the site of the ancient city of Bider) to attract the commerce of Homnabad. The Nizam resides there.

The surrounding area for many miles is characterised by stone rich in iron ore which forms a pavement. The water tastes foul but is potable. The wells are 150 ft deep.

Saturday 2nd November 1793

The VOC’s29 governor of Colombo van der Graff is appointed Governor-General of the Company, based at Batavia from next March. Mr V Anglebeck, the governor of Cochin, will succeed him in Ceylon.

Saturday 9th November 1793

For sale, 18th October 1793 – an elegant Bengal Meana30 with hair mattress, together with household furniture, coach, two phaetons and a pair of mules.

Saturday 16th November 1793

Trial by Ordeal in Indian traditional jurisprudence:

The accused is called early, whilst his clothes are still moist from bathing and before he breaks his fast.

For claims less than 1,000 pieces of silver the accused may not be tried by the red hot ball, poison or the scales unless his offence is against his Rajah.

Trial by balance is required for all people, whether lame, blind, sick or Brahmin.

For Sudra, trial is by fire or water or 7 barley corns of poison.

In the trial by balance, the accused sits on one side of the scales and an equal weight is placed on the other. The beam contains a groove with water in it and the level must be marked. The accused then appeals for justice. If he goes up (or if the scales break) he is acquitted; if he goes down he is convicted.

For trial by fire both hands of the accused are thoroughly rubbed with husked rice. 7 leaves of ficus religiosa (a rather small-leafed tree) are placed in his hands and bound in position with thread. The accused appeals for justice. Then the red hot iron ball is placed in his hands. He steps successively in seven small circles and casts away the ball. His hands are again rubbed and if found unharmed, he is innocent.

For trial by water, the accused is immersed in the river and an arrow shot at the same time. A runner retrieves the arrow. When the arrow is returned the accused is raised from the water. If he still lives, he is innocent.

For trial by poison, the accused recites the mantra ‘Oh poison, child of Brahma, steadfast in justice and in truth, clear me from this charge and become nectar to me.’ He then swallows the saranga and if he does not become inflamed, he is innocent.31

For small claims, the priest bathes the statue of the deity and gives the accused three handfuls of the water to drink. If he remains well after 14 days, he is innocent.

Saturday 23rd November 1793

Calcutta news:

  • The insurance Agencies of Calcutta have combined to decline insurance to any ship sailing East until a frigate arrives to convoy the shipping.
  • 20th November – A platoon of Europeans is being sent to the Andaman Islands today. A Sergeant and 12 artillery men will join them. Captain Blair will take them in the Union. They will serve under Captain Robert Hamilton who now commands the island.

Saturday 23rd November 1793

Mr Dundas’ new India Bill contains a clause in which it is intended to replace all the old law in India with a systematic legal system.

Saturday 23rd November 1793

Oudh is a few miles from Allahabad and close to the Company’s territorial frontier. It has collapsed into anarchy. The distress of the poor and the weak is terrible.

Saturday 30th November 1793

Extract from the recent publication Plans of India, the difficulty of engrafting a free Constitution on distant provinces:

Rome, the most free nation in antiquity, made her proconsuls absolute in the provinces but responsible to the Senate and people of Rome. Britain has emulated Rome and made her Governor-General of India absolute to the natives but responsible to the Board of Directors and Board of Control, both of which are responsible to parliament.32 The Governor-General is like one of the ancient Subadars in the Persian system of government in India.

Our government in India and our trade to the East should accord with the usages of the Indian people but we must take care in exercising our power not to upset the British legislature by neglecting the spirit of the English Constitution.

Saturday 30th November 1793

Captain Reynolds of the Bombay army who is presently in Calcutta has been sent to explore the northern frontier of Hindustan. He evolved the idea at Seringapatam after the war with Tippoo.33

Saturday 30th November 1793

England – Wilberforce has asked the Commons to send Anglican clergymen to India at the Company’s expense to proselytise the Hindus and Muslims.

Dundas replied that the natives of India should be permitted to follow the religion of their fathers. The Court of Directors and the shareholders are also using their influence to frustrate adoption of Wilberforce’s idea, which they conceive will have explosive effects if approved.

The final compromise was for the Company to provide a chaplain to every ship over 700 tons. This motion passed and Wilberforce agreed to postpone his own radical motion until after the new Charter terms have been settled.

Saturday 7th December 1793

Our war fleet is fully occupied in home waters and no vessels will be sent East.

The recent hiccup in commercial credit in London has been overcome and prosperity in England is increasing.34 This makes government policy popular and diminishes the influence of the liberal opposition.

Saturday 14th December 1793

India news:

  • The Company has introduced a postage charge on private letters sent in its packets from each Presidency. Under 2 ozs free; over 2 ozs 4 Sicca rupees, over 3 ozs 9 Sicca rupees, etc. The appropriate cost is calculated by squaring the weight to produce the postage in rupees.
  • Director’s letter of 25th June 1793 – A new general instruction dated 8th April has been received, applicable to people permitted to go to England:‘no civil or military officer may remain in England more than 2 years from the date of his arrival there’

Saturday 21st December 1793

India news:

  • The British Resident at the Nizam’s Court in Poona has complained of British subjects entering the Maratha States without passports, ….’An English ship lately entered the Pen River and came up to Mopant where several men landed and walked as far as the village of Shabaz…..’
  • From Goa we hear that a dispute has commenced between Purseram Bhow (the Nizam’s minister) and the Rajah of Malwa and may become violent.

Saturday 21st December 1793

East India House news:

  • The new Charter will require substantial amendment of the Company’s Bye Laws. The Committee of Bye Laws is a sinecure and existing members are either dead or too old for useful work. The Chairman recalled Cherry is a member and he still has his wits. We should ask all of them what they think. Baber said the committee was elected annually and a fresh election should not disturb anyone. He proposed Wm Frazier, Serjeant Watson MP,35 Randle Jackson, T Henchman, Wm Lushington, Captain Twining and Cherry. They were unanimously elected.
  • The proposed annuity to Lord Cornwallis ‘for services rendered’ (in defeating Tippoo and partitioning his lands) was approved at £5,000 p a for 20 years for two lives (if the Marquis or his son Lord Brome should live so long). It will be funded from territorial revenue.
  • Lushington drew attention to those officers on the Bengal establishment who had been in the service for 20 years and were still subalterns. War used to make the Company’s service preferable to European armies. Now the reverse was the case. He mentioned the case of Captain Floyer who had been wounded in the last war. The doctors in India could do nothing and sent him back. He spent two years in England before returning and got £100 compensation for his trouble when he would have had £600 had he stayed in India. Living in England costs more than India and income is less. Are we trying to create the circumstances under which Englishmen will emigrate to India as colonists? The Company should be generous to its servants, he thought.

Saturday 21st December 1793

Hobart of the Irish parliament (Armagh) avers that Ireland has a right to trade east of the Cape and the country had made an enormous concession in agreeing the new terms of the Charter. He wants to put the Irish on the same footing as the English.36

He proposed that an 800 ton Indiaman visit Cork annually to load Irish manufactures for the East. He thought the same 5% of value as freight rate applied at London should apply to Cork. He noted the immense fortunes being made in India and repatriated to Ireland by individuals and thought Irish manufacturers should get their share too.

He noted that the VOC was at a standstill and only the English Company traded in the East. The only thing England has that China wants is silver but some Irish products might also find a market.

He requested leave to bring in a Bill to regulate Irish trade to / from the East. Leave granted.

Saturday 21st December 1793

Calcutta, 21st November – Sr Thomas de Souza married the daughter of Sr Louis Barretto last Saturday. (Nicholas de Lima e Souza is married to Anna Barretto)

Saturday 28th December 1793

India news – a novel case has come before the Supreme Court at Calcutta. A Muslim has sued his elder relative for abandoning the faith and becoming a Christian.

Under its existing rules, the Court is obliged to apply Muslim law in respect of litigants who profess that faith.

The Plaintiff says his family has been disgraced and, according to the Koran, the apostate’s property should be seized and passed to his heir (the Plaintiff). The Company’s Judiciary is accordingly required to apply law that is unconstitutional in England.

Editor – If William Wilberforce and Charles Grant had succeeded in their plan to send out Anglican clergymen to proselytise the Indians this sort of action might have become more common. As they were defeated, it is likely a one-off.

Saturday 4th January 1794

India news:

  • The Directors have received many complaints of abuses by passengers clearing their personal effects from the Company’s warehouses in London. George Patterson, James C Hyde and Henry Hedges are appointed as the Directors’ Agents to construe the tax regulations properly.
  • The Company’s island of St Helena has been distressed by war. It is intentionally not self-sufficient in anything and requires all provisions to be shipped in,
  • Henry Chichley Plowden has arrived at Calcutta on the Warren Hastings.
  • Mr Haydn, son of the composer, is engaged in Madras to play subscription concerts.

Saturday 11th January 1794

Batavia, 20th September – the pirates hereabouts are troublesome. They come from the Celebes and Borneo in large proas with many men.37 As there are no warships on station, they come right into the roads. The Dutch government has fitted-out and armed a large Indiaman to stand-by off Edam Island.

Saturday 18th January 1794

18th January 1794 – The Governor-in-Council has appointed the following officials to the Bombay Presidency:

John Hector Cherry to be Senior Merchant

James Rivett, Supernumerary Senior Merchant

Charles Watkins & John Donelan, Merchants

John Agnew & James Stevens, Junior merchants

Richard Torin, Supernumerary junior merchant

George Brown, assistant to the Secretary in the Public Dept.

Saturday 15th February 1794

Notice – underwriters of the ship Nerbudda are requested to meet at the Bombay Tavern on 17th February at 11 am.

Saturday 15th February 1794

Madras news – 27 Dutch Indiamen are reported to be lying in Batavia roads but only 105 seamen are available to man them due to an epidemic of fever. The captains have been ordered to run their ships ashore on the appearance of the enemy.

Saturday 22nd February 1794

The Mayor’s Court has heard an action for Criminal Conversion of the wife of the Plaintiff Mr J K (i.e. adultery) by the Defendant Mr L. Judgment for the Plaintiff in 10,000 rupees.

Saturday 22nd February 1794

The death of Rajah Madajee Sindhia has been announced. It will effect the political balance at Poona. He has added considerable territory to his domains in his lifetime.

The present fighting in Angria is said to relate to a feared usurpation by the late Rajah’s illegitimate son in preference to his lawful children who are infants.

Saturday 22nd February 1794

The disappearance of the Company’s cruisers Antelope and Princess Royal has been accounted for. They were sent to Basra with dispatches for Baghdad and the date of their return is unknown.

Editor – not to be confused with the Company’s Indiaman Princess Royal (Horncastle) which was taken as a prize of the French on 10th October.

Saturday 1st March 1794

The late Herjee Jevanjee was a Parsee merchant whose wealth and mercantile influence placed him at the head of his group.

His brother, the well-known ‘Ready Money Muncher’ and he were amongst the first Parsees to abandon the Parsee cultural distaste for venturing on the seas.

His initiative produced a fortune estimated at 2 million rupees. His remains are deposited in the family tomb with those of his brother and will not be exposed as is usually the Parsee custom.

Saturday 1st March 1794

A list of Justices of the Peace has been published at Calcutta. It is not solely comprised of Company employees.

Editor – the office pays handsome allowances.

Saturday 1st March 1794

The Company’s new Colony on the Andamans at Port Cornwallis is flourishing.

The Surveyor General from Madras, Major Kidd, has resigned his employment to act as Governor of the new settlement. He just awaits orders from Fort William before departing in HMS Seahorse.

The government has been persuaded to send Indian convicts to the Andaman Colony – it gives prisoners more choice as to how they serve their sentences, their labour will help develop the Colony and they will be trained concurrently in diligence and industry. It is hoped that many of them will be reclaimed from their vicious propensities.

200 convicts have opted for transportation to the Andamans and have embarked on the Daphne which will sail soon.

Saturday 1st March 1794

The new Charter has abolished the police at Calcutta. No new Commissioners will be appointed.

The role of Police Commissioner is assumed by Justices of the Peace, appointed by the Government.

The first JPs are Sir John Richardson and M/s Joseph B Smith, Charles Fuller Martin, Levi Ball, Thomas Harding and Jessop.

The assessment of the Agency firms for liability to pay import / export duty, formerly a lucrative job of the Police Commissioner, now passes to the Collector of Customs.

Saturday 8th March 1794

Business forms for sale at the Bombay Courier’s printing office:

  • insurance policies on goods and on block;
  • Respondentia Bonds,
  • bottomry bonds,
  • interest bonds,
  • Bills of Lading,
  • Articles of Agreement between ship owners / commanders and Serangs (heads of Lascar crews).

Saturday 8th March 1794

Bombay Presidency Notice – On the death of William Paddock, William Bowler is raised to the rank of Senior Merchant and Christopher Piele becomes a Junior Merchant.

Saturday 8th March 1794

Captain Kirkpatrick has succeeded Sir John Kennaway as British resident at the Nizam’s court and has arrived at Hyderabad.

Saturday 8th March 1794

Editorial – Pirates are infesting the inshore waters of Bombay at night and harassing boats that take goods and passengers out to the shipping. The pirates’ practise is to board suddenly at different places and their great number precludes any chance of resistance.

On the last occasion that piracy was a problem in 1787, we lost five gentlemen.

Do not suppose that they will not attack Europeans. We should emulate Dr K who in 1778 saved himself by ignoring the rowers and constantly shooting the pirate steersman. In this way, having disabled three steersmen, the pirates abandoned their pursuit of the Doctor.

Saturday 15th March 1794

The Company’s ships Belvedere and Earl William are on this coast and private letters for England will be accepted by them. The box packets are open until 19th March.

Saturday 15th March 1794

The Bombay Tavern warehouse has a large stock of pickles, tea, coffee, salt meats, butter, cheese and mustard at listed prices. Also dry groceries.

Saturday 15th March 1794

The American ship John (Folger) has arrived at Madras from London. She left the Downs on 25th September 1793 and brings news to that date:38

  • The internal state of England is tranquil.
  • The King is fit and popular.
  • Pitt retains his political influence although no end to the war seems in sight.
  • It is rumoured that Lord Hobart, currently Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, may be recommended by Dundas for one of the Indian Presidencies.

Saturday 22nd March 1794

Piracy – On 11th March five boats carrying cotton from Broach to Surat for M/s Rivett & Wilkinson, under convoy of the armed boat Hope, were attacked by a fleet of Kuli boats and taken to New Bunder.

The Rajah of that place sent the Hope back with her surviving crew and set her adrift off Surat where Company boats picked her up.

It appears the Kulis and the Malwans are continuing their practise of last year of predating on our trade. The country merchant Robinson, coming here (Bombay) from Tellicherry in a pattamar was chased on 6th March by three Malwan gallivats. The pirates first hailed Robinson, discovered his boat contained British property, and requested to see its pass (the Company issues annual passes to British traders identifying them; if a pirate plunders them, he risks retaliation from the Company’s armed ships).

Disregarding the pass, the boat was taken into Natary and plundered. Once the Malwans had completed their theft and departed, another group of Marathas came aboard and searched the vessel again, finding some money that the Malwans had missed. They kindly returned 30 rupees of the loot to Robinson to allow him to buy necessary supplies. The pattamar continued her voyage and on 9th March put ashore in Tippoo’s country for water where the watering party was detained. The tindal went ashore to investigate and he was seized and the others released. The inhabitants of Malabar now show hostility and only a single pot of water was permitted to the pattamar. On 11th March they reached Goa and obtained water and provisions from the Hornby.

Saturday 22nd March 1794

Some 10,000 Burmese have entered Chittagong in the last couple of weeks and camped on Company lands. They have made trenches and other defensive preparations. They have presented a list of 2,000 names of men wanted by them, whom they say are being sheltered by the Company. They say they will not leave without the men.

One European battalion, two battalions of sepoys and a detachment of artillery under Lt Colonel Erskine has been sent to Chittagong. The sepoys from Barrackpore will travel overland (they decline to board ships) whilst the Europeans and cannon will ship through the Sunderbunds.

The 25th battalion of native infantry at Dacca has been placed on stand-by to reinforce Capt Rayne’s battalion which garrisons Chittagong. The Burmese are equipped with some European arms and fire-locks and are accompanied by French advisors who are said to direct their operations.

Saturday 22nd March 1794

Shipping news:

  • The Indiamen now under dispatch from Bengal, starting with those carrying sugar cargoes, have been given increased crew and mount 26 guns each (for protection against Mauritian privateers).
  • The Phoenix (Moore) has sailed from Bengal for N W Coast of America. This is her third voyage on this run.

Saturday 29th March 1794

Minutes of Council in the Bombay Military Dept., 21st March 1794:

Lt McLean is reportedly dead. He was recently appointed translator to our new province of Malabar (ceded by Tippoo – see the France in Asia chapter).

Lt Joseph d’Acre Watson is qualified to be translator. He will succeed McLean on the same allowances. For this purpose Watson is posted to the 9th battalion of native infantry.

Saturday 29th March 1794

The Bengal Hircarrah, 11th March – an American ship lately arrived from London has news to 15th October 1793:

Lord Hobart, son of the 3rd Earl of Buckinghamshire, will assume the government of Madras. The frigates Diomede (44) and Orpheus (32) will escort him out.

Saturday 5th April 1794

Political news:

  • The war in Angria’s country continues and reinforcements have arrived at the Maratha camp.
  • Madajee Sindhia died at Poona on 12th February 1794.

Saturday 5th April 1794

Calcutta news, 25th February:

  • The effect of French privateers on our shipping is manageable but a stagnation of maritime trade has arisen here due to lack of credit. There is little money in circulation. The shipping is laid-up in port. It may take months to recover.
  • The Calcutta Government has sold 600,000 maunds (c. 82 lbs per maund) of salt at its recent monopoly sales for an average 281 rupees per 100 maunds (1.69 million Rupees in gross sales).
  • Bombay Government will pay off 100,000 rupees this month on account of the Register Debt.
  • The Judge in many of the Company’s domains is also the Land Tax Collector or Salt Agent or some such revenue job e.g. Official Appointments 5th March 1794 – Charles Chapmen to be salt agent, judge and magistrate at Hidglee and Madras appointments 14th March – S Skinner to be assistant Collector at Nozeed.39

Saturday 12th April 1794

Calcutta news, 14th March – Reports from Rangoon say cargo movements in the port are about to be stopped and everyone is in a hurry to load and depart. There is much low quality timber at Pegu but scarce worth buying.

Saturday 12th April 1794

Madras newspapers, 9th March:

  • The Governor-in-Council has declared a further dividend to the private creditors of the Nabob Wallajah Ameer ul Omrah of Arcot. It totals 100,000 gold pagodas.40
  • A rapacious local capitalist has cornered the market in cowrie shells (which Madrassis use for money as well as ornamentation). His purchases exceed 300,000 rupees and the sale price is now double his purchase price.
  • Last Sunday Colonel Braithwaite, CiC of the Madras army, gave a dinner for his fellow prisoners in the late war with Hyder Ali to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their release. Colonel Smith and Captain the Honourable H Lindsay attended, totally 13 people.
  • Assistant Surgeon Trussin died at Pondicherry after cutting a cheese during which his knife slipped and cut between his middle and fore finger. He died the next morning.
  • A ‘prices current’ just received from London shows that Bengal indigo was selling there at between 7/6d – 9/6d per bale.

Saturday 19th April 1794

Calcutta news, 1st April:

  • No reports of French privateers have been received recently and no news from Europe.
  • The Government of Bombay has dispatched a ship to Suez and it is hoped she will return with late European news via that expeditious channel. The mail route through Suez was shut to the English until recently and, now it is reopened to us (and should be closed to the French due to their depredations on Arab merchants in the Gulf), it should be cultivated.
  • The frigate Bombay (32) is cruising off Ceylon. It was built in Bombay docks and fitted out by public subscription. She is a testament to Indian carpentry skill.
  • The Fort William, Henry and Daphne have been chartered by the Calcutta Government to cruise against privateers.

Saturday 26th April 1794

Accounts from Bengal mention frequent sorties against the Muggs and the other Burmese who repeatedly cross our frontier to enter Company lands. Our excellent troops are well able to deal with them and are getting a good understanding of the geography of the neighbouring countries and tactics of the enemy.

Saturday 26th April 1794

The armed ship Bombay (Robertson) has met with a Malwan pirate fleet of three grabs and six gallivats on the coast 15 leagues south of Goa on 9th April. They approached in line and asked Robertson to lower his sails.

He told them if they came any nearer he would shoot. They did so and he fired several shots to deter them. At noon a strong breeze arose and he was able to enter Goa harbour. The pirates remained at the harbour mouth throughout the following day.

The Portuguese Viceroy kindly made a 32-gun frigate available to the Bombay as escort and this warship convoyed her to Madras.

Saturday 3rd May 1794

Chittagong – The Mugg army is about to retreat from Company lands. Their invasion was caused by a Mugg subject who stole a boat belonging to the King of Ava and fled in it downriver into the Chittagong area. The King ordered his vassal, the Rajah of Hamree, to assemble a force, pursue the thief and recover both him and the boat. Colonel Erskine for the Company declined to comply with the Rajah’s request. It was agreed that the Mugg army would pull down its stockades and retire from Chittagong within six days.

Saturday 10th May 1794

Bombay Government Notice, 9th May – Government has appropriated a piece of land on Colaba for the merchants to store their ship-building materials. They should in future land all such cargo at that place.

Anyone storing masts, spars, etc., on the Apollo Ground or the Esplanade should move it to Colaba within two months or risk its confiscation.

Saturday 10th May 1794

A letter from Madras dated 23rd April 1794 informs that John Pringle has been appointed British Resident at the Cape.

We also hear that part of Admiral Gardner’s squadron is there – Centurion (50), Orpheus (32) and Resistance (32). These ships are expected to patrol the Straits of Malacca and Sunda.

Saturday 17th May 1794

Notice – the Governor-in-Council has appointed this Presidency’s Building Agent, together with the Collector and Chief Engineer to form a committee of three and ascertain the real value of the structures and lands in Bombay for a distance of two miles in all directions from Government House.

The committee will require a return of rents received or produce grown from every owner of land and buildings. This will enable an assessment for rates to be made for the purpose of collecting a fund to meet the costs of cleaning, watching and repairing the streets. Proprietors of all buildings and land are requested to co-operate with the committee.

Saturday 17th May 1794

The death of old Sindhia caused his vassal, the Rajah of Duttiah, to rebel and young Daolat Rao, Sindhia’s appointed successor, necessarily had to punish him. Gopal Rao Bhow was sent off with a brigade of troops under the command of Captain F (a Company man in Sindhia’s service).

On entering the jungle surrounding Duttiah’s capital, the brigade was attacked by 12,000 Rajputs, Panwas and Baudlees. Captain F was able to bring his cannon to bear and considerable slaughter followed with the enemy falling back towards the capital. The battle became one of sword and bayonet and the Rajah lost some 600 men (of whom two were of the Rajah’s family) while Sindhia’s brigade lost 300. Sindhia’s men remained entrenched near Duttiah’s capital, harassing its communications and trade, until the Rajah came out and submitted to the conditions prescribed for him.

Daolat Rao has been acknowledged as Sindhia’s successor by both the Peshwa at Poona and the Grand Mughal at Delhi with the same titles and prerogatives of his predecessor.

Elsewhere in Maratha lands the country is quiet.

Saturday 17th May 1794

Calcutta news, April 1794 – Mr Thomas Baring, assistant to the magistrate of the Zillah Court at Dinagepore, is appointed assistant to the examiner of the Diwani Adaulat.

Saturday 24th May 1794

India news:

  • Sallah Chilabi, the wealthy merchant of Surat, has died.41
  • The military detachments in Chittagong are unable to return to Bengal as the Burmese infiltrators are still increasing in numbers. Captain Welsh has taken the capital city of Assam but the enemy army has not diminished (see the report in 7th June edition below). They watch our movements, harass us on opportunity, but do not engage.

Saturday 7th June 1794

For sale – a few copies of that celebrated work Plans for the Government and Trade of Great Britain in the East Indies by Henry Dundas.

Saturday 7th June 1794

The Ville de l’Orient sailed from Calcutta last year before we knew of the outbreak of war. She discovered the fact on her homeward voyage to France and diverted to New York. We see in the New York Daily Advertiser that her valuable cargo was advertised for sale there at end February.

Saturday 7th June 1794

The annual (registered) ship from Lisbon, the Conceicao, has arrived at Goa on 17th May. She sailed last September.

The home government has ordered the Viceroy Francisco de Cunha Eminesas to hand over his seals of office to his military commander, Lt General Francisco Antonio de Veiga Cabral, who assumed the government of Portuguese India and its dependencies on 22nd May.

Three senior judges have come out on the Conceicao to adjudicate cases of heresy – Francisco Jose de S. Joaquim becomes Inquisitor-General in place of the man who died a couple of years ago. Sr Frebent is 2nd Inquisitor and The Rev Padre Pedro Figuerhedo, 3rd.

Saturday 7th June 1794

Assam 18th April – We brought our boats to within 20 miles of Rungpore, the capital of Assam, where we landed and commenced to clear a camp. We were attacked by the Mahmariahs, the people of the usurping Rajah, and chased them back to within 7 miles of Rungpore where we were reinforced and then took the town and the fort without opposition.

Rungpore is a fine town with wide straight raised streets and tolerably well-constructed housing. The fort is at the town centre with a 15 foot wall but no ramparts although they have cannon and many gingals. The number of gold, silver and ivory items is huge and the town appears to have been rich.

The Rajah we have been supporting, Surjey Deo, has returned all the plunder the people took from residents of British India. We have collected plate and silver worth about 25,000 rupees. Provisions are cheap and everything is available in abundance. The countryside surrounding the town is like a garden with well-ordered fields. Every hut has its own enclosure. It appears we will be able to promote a vibrant trade with the Assamese. For payment, they have gold, copper and ivory in abundance.

The difficulty in developing trade relates to the unsettled state of society. Assam is a frontier province and has been the scene of civil war for years. Many farmers and artisans have emigrated elsewhere. The usurper who has been causing these difficulties is called Bhurraut and he is widely detested. He rules by force and tolerates no criticism. He is neither a Hindu nor a Muslim. His followers, the Mahmariahs, are feared by all the farmers.

Saturday 28th June 1794

The Company’s 2nd battalion of European troops was reviewed at Bombay last Wednesday.

Editorial – there have been no arrivals at Bombay and only one departure for a week. Our trade has stagnated and with it our receipt of news.

Saturday 2nd August 1794

Captain Reid of Madras has been honoured by his friends at that place. They have bought the prize Duguay Trouen, ex Princess Royal, and given him command.

Saturday 2nd August 1794

Company forces under Colonel Prendergast have done battle with 18,000 men under Vizeram Rao at Bimlipatam near Vizagapatam and defeated them. They first tried to negotiate but failed.

They then marched on the Rajah’s positions. When Rao’s men opened fire, Prendergast responded with grape shot and slaughtered a great many of them, including the Vizeram. Our loss is 50 – 60 sepoys.

The Rajah’s baggage, camp equipment and a large amount of plunder was left by the fleeing enemy in a nearby village and captured by our men.

Saturday 9th August 1794

News from the East:

  • The Royal Charlotte (Douglas) says the Dutch at Batavia have bought the French prizes Resolve and Vengeur as cartel ships to transfer French prisoners to Mauritius. They are due to sail in July.
  • The American ship Canton (Mackie) was unloaded at Batavia to thoroughly check her cargo. At first the judges were persuaded to condemn her for the English cargo on board. Later they were reminded of the Dutch treaty of 1782 with the United States and settled for 10% as salvor’s rights. Mackie plans to sail to China as soon as possible.
  • The Count de la Peyrouse was commissioned by the late French King on a voyage of discovery in the ships Le Bonsolle and l’Astrolabe. Nothing was heard after 1788 and it was supposed they had sunk. He recently appeared off Java and learned of the Revolution. Some of his crew mutinied but he prevailed over them and sent them ashore. He then sought the assistance of the Dutch government which sent two armed Indiamen and impounded the French ships at Surabaya.
  • From Rhio (Riau Islands) we hear that Malay pirates are in force off Singapore and have taken 8 large Chinese junks. They are ransoming the crews at $3 per head. The residents of Bintan have also been repeatedly attacked by the pirates. They have since abandoned Bintan, embarked in all their 50 proas and sailed for Penang where they propose to settle.
  • Commodore Mitchell stopped two rich American ships from Manila. They had no American papers and lacked full shipping documents for the cargo. They were both sent into Batavia with prize crews and are expected to be condemned.

Saturday 10th August 1794

Letter from Malabar (Tippoo’s lands), 14th July – Captain MacDonald’s battalion is pursuing the Moplas. He has caught many. Their leader, Moota Musa, has been driven to the fortified houses on Pandalor Hill that are cleverly built on perpendicular rocky outcrops. MacDonald has destroyed or burnt 23 fortified houses and expects to capture Musa soon.

Saturday 10th August 1794

The Kawdry, an Arab ship, has arrived from Mocha with coffee and silver. Some Europeans came on her as passengers.

Saturday 23rd August 1794

Jamsetjee Rustomjee is auctioning some Bombay property:

Lot 1 – 340 ft x 258 ft containing a house, a mango grove of 200 trees and two sweet wells.

Lot 2 – 210 ft x 192 ft hilltop land with an old bungalow and a date plantation.

Lot 3 – 168 ft x 130 ft plot below Lot 2 with a small house and well with assorted fruit trees

Lot 4 – House at Bycullah with outhouses, stables, a good well and fruit trees.

Saturday 23rd August 1794

The Dutchman Titsing, late Governor of Chinsura and Batavia, is returning to the Netherlands.42

Saturday 30th August 1794

Bombay Presidency General Orders, 23rd August:

Two provincial battalions are to be raised from the Nairs and Mopillas (or Moplas)  of Malabar. One captain and four lieutenants will be appointed to recruit each corps. Non-commissioned officers will be loaned from the regular native infantry. Each recruit will receive the same bounty as the native infantry recruits.

Saturday 30th August 1794

London news – The election of the 24 Company Directors in April 1794 resulted in the following obtaining places on the board:

Sir Francis Baring, Wm Bentley, Sir J S Burges, W Devaynes (Chairman), W Elphinstone, Walter Finer, Brian Frith, Thomas FitzHugh, J Hunter (Dep Chairman), Hugh Inglis, Sir Stephen Lushington, John Manship, P le Mesurier, T Metcalfe, Charles Mills, W Money, Thomas Parry, Thomas Pattle, Abraham Robarts, David Scott, Nathaniel Smith, George Tatem, John Travers and Steven Williams.

Jacob Bosanquet, Thomas Cheap, Lionel Darrell, John Roberts, Robert Thornton and John Townson retire by rotation.

Saturday 6th September 1794

The Company’s fleet to the east this year departed Portsmouth in May. It comprises forty ships of which ten are for China direct, four for Madras and China, nineteen for Calcutta, six for Bombay, one for St Helena and Bencoolen and the Surprise for Botany Bay which last is carrying the Scottish sedition convicts Muir, Palmer et al to commence their sentences of banishment (a mutiny was reported on board en route by dissenting crew-members which was suppressed and the ringleaders put in irons).43

Saturday 13th September 1794


  • Mr James Amos, late of Madras, has opened an office in Camomile Street, Bishopsgate, London to conduct money agency business in general. Government and Company bonds, shares of trading companies, canals, etc., bought and sold on commission. Loans on mortgage security negotiated.
  • Mr Monteith, surgeon of the Bridgewater, will sell at Mr Harding’s house on Saturday 13th September, part of his investment comprising hats, watches, stockings, shoes, buttons, saddles, guns and books. (a similar advertisement of Captain Wm Wells is also published)
  • The late F W Pemberton’s house Breach Candy and surrounding estate and his house Cliff Dale on the Malabar Hills with attached estate will be sold by public outcry this afternoon.
  • Jamsetjee Rustomjee’s four property lots (see above) will be sold at the same time.

Saturday 13th September 1794

Bombay General Orders, 6th September – The Directors await Cornwallis’ report on the military establishments of India. Any alterations may require legislative sanction.

We wish to reassure officers that it will continue to be our policy to fill vacancies immediately they arise by promotions in India (if the rank involved has no supernumerary officers on the spot).

All officers returning to India after the new arrangements take effect will assume supernumerary rank until a vacancy arises. A similar notice is being published in London so all officers have a chance of returning to duty in time to assure they receive an immediate benefit under the new system once it is promulgated in India.

Saturday 20th September 1794


  • 12th September – Tenders are invited for a long list of stores for the Bombay Marine.
  • 18th September – sundry old marine stores will be auctioned on 2nd October.
  • London 19th February – The Directors require that last season’s shipments and all future shipments of indigo to London be described by measurement not weight.

Saturday 20th September 1794

Notice – The late Callastan Sattoor, an Armenian merchant of Bombay, bequeathed 8,000 rupees to be invested and the interest used to maintain the Armenian Chapel in this town.

We, the majority of Armenians in Bombay, dissent from the bequest and warn the executors against payment.

Sgd Jacob Petrus, Simon Marcar, Pagos Shatoor, Coostan Terpetroos and Johannes Marterius. Undated

Saturday 27th September 1794

7th September a fleet of five Kuli pirate boats attacked a native cargo ship off Denace near Damaun whilst en route north to Surat. The Kulis took 10,000 rupees in treasure and 25,000 rupees of goods. One hundred passengers, men, women and children, were also taken as hostages.

The Company has arranged an early expedition by land and sea against the Kulis.

Editor – we hope the subsequent object of vengeance will be the Malwans.

Saturday 27th September 1794

Mr van der Graaf, late Governor of Ceylon, is appointed Governor-General at Batavia. On 5th September he was in Madras en route to his new appointment.

Saturday 4th October 1794

Letter of 19th February from the Directors to the Governor-General:

“The problem in the ceded territories (Tippoo’s lands) is that we have few speakers of Malabari. If we do not know the language, how will we discover the value of the productions in Malabar; how will the Company quantify its share?

“We do not want to become prey to a group of intermediary interpreters as occurred in the Circars in Bengal or on the Coromandel coast.

“It is essential to the proper running of the Company that staff study and understand all the languages of India. Please encourage your junior officers to take up this study and restrict all appointments in Malabar to those who make the attempt.”

Saturday 4th October 1794

Letter from the Directors, 23rd April – Under the new Charter, all staff, other than council members, who spend more than 5 years absent from India will lose all their rank and office. This applies to both military and civil branches. Please ensure we are informed of the dates of departure from India of all your staff.

Saturday 4th October 1794

Action against the Kuli pirates:

The Company’s cruisers Princess Augusta, Queen and Princess Royal have sailed for Surat with the grenadier companies of the 2nd Bombay Regiment and of the 5th, 9th and 11th battalions together with the flank companies of the 8th battalion.

Two 6-pounder field pieces will be operated by half a company of artillerymen plus 30 Lascars.

Captain Little will command the combined force.

Saturday 18th October 1794

Indian news – The Kulis have captured another Surat ship off Henery. She belonged to the Parsee merchant Cursetjee and carried 36 bales of cotton, bags of almonds and other sundries to a total value of 10,000 Rupees.

Saturday 25th October 1794

Pirates on the (Carnatic) coast are charging 400 – 450 Rupees to passing vessels to permit their unhindered passage. Ships buying these licences may water and provision at Marathan ports.

Saturday 1st November 1794

The Bombay Courier’s printing office is removed from 9 Rampart Street to 9 Military Square with immediate effect.

Saturday 1st November 1794

1st November – Julius Nash informs the public that John White has resigned his share of ownership in the Bombay Tavern and Hotel. His 2 shares are transferred to John Grantham and Robert Berry. The business will continue under the style of M/s Nash, Grantham and Berry trading as Bombay Tavern.

The new Directors will continue the previous policy to ensure patrons are not inconvenienced. They will continue to act as Agents for Indian exports and always carefully select and ship the goods they are asked to supply.

Saturday 1st November 1794

For sale – A seven-barrel rifle made by Nock – 500 rupees. All barrels discharge at the same time – good for jungle shooting.44

Saturday 1st November 1794

The punitive squadron sent against the Kulis has achieved an initial success. It met 8 Kuli boats east of Jaffiribad, sank three and captured the other five. The pirates were stubborn and on one boat they all leapt into the sea rather than be captured. Captain West and a number of sepoys were killed. The fleet anchored the next day off Jaffiribad and a party was sent ashore for provisions and water.

The remaining men marched on the village of Rajapore where the Kulis have a fortified house. The village, the fortified house and 8-10 boats were all destroyed. The force then sailed to Nowa Bunder where more fortified houses and pirate boats were found. Captain Tydd and 2 other Europeans were killed in the exchange. The Kulis lost 30-40 men. Two fortified houses and 12-14 boats were destroyed. Thereafter part of the force proceeded to Surat and convoyed the cargo ships to Bombay. The other part sailed to Suterpara, west of Diu, where another pirate fleet was reportedly based but nothing was found.

Saturday 1st November 1794

The Bombay Courier offers thanks to Mr Cowper, the Company’s Resident at Malacca. He has been sending proas up and down the Straits to seek out French privateers and provide warning of their locations. The India Company’s China fleet has been a frequent beneficiary of his intelligence.

Saturday 1st November 1794

The foreman of a Grand Jury on 19th August 1793 told the Judge that the police of Bombay fail in their duty to preserve the peace, prevent crime and bring suspects to justice. Many recent armed robberies have been accomplished by gangs but the criminals remain undetected.

The Jury see it as their duty to inform the bench of these defects in policing. They request an investigation and the implementation of measures to protect people from injury and loss.

Signed John de Ponthieu, Foreman.

Editor – In August there were robberies nightly. Four gangs predated on the people. Each gang had its Muccadum and he and 4-5 men were armed with swords. Another 4-5 men were unarmed and merely carried the goods away. Receivers of the property were in the Fort or at Dungaree. Sometimes, the loot was rowed across to the mainland and sold there.

Suttoo Ancootia, the Muccadum of one gang, is worth 15,000 rupees amassed during a career of 10-12 years of robbery. The incidence of robbery declined after February 1794 when the perpetrators of five robberies and murder were arrested, tried and convicted.

Another robbery in early summer at Mahim, 9 miles from the Fort, was done by Gopal Arzoon’s gang. Gopal has a long list of previous convictions from 1782. He has been twice banished from the island but has returned. On this occasion he was executed.

Saturday 8th November 1794

All land and building owners are advised by the Committee of Buildings that they must permit the Surveyor to enter their properties for measurement. Any disobedience will be reported.

Saturday 8th November 1794

Part of the late John Lampard’s estate of Packry Vall at Byculla is for sale by public outcry. The house and grounds are held on a perpetually renewable lease. Details from Henry Fawcett and John de Ponthieu

Saturday 8th November 1794

Capt Blair, Commodore at Surat, has reported a trick of the Kuli pirates. He was preparing to sail from Bownager to Surat with numerous boats under convoy. The Tindals of each boat came on board to pay him their convoy money. One of them appeared suspicious and was escorted back to his boat which was boarded and found to be a pirate boat with arms, etc.

The crew jumped overboard and the ship was taken as prize by Blair.

Saturday 15th November 1794


14th November

For Sale

Bombay Presidency invites tenders for shipment of 224 barrels of gunpowder to Basra.

The land and buildings at the junction of Bell’s Lane with Rampart Street. One commodious house, coach-house, stable, godown and out houses on 662 square yards. Annual rent due to the Company only 9 rupees.

Saturday 22nd November 1794


  • M/s Nash, Grantham and Berry have bought the entire shipment of Madeira wine that M/s Pedro Jorge Monteiro & Co imported on the Marquis de Anjega and are selling it at the Tavern Warehouse at 315 rupees per pipe.45
  • Anyone wishing to buy an allocation of privileged tonnage to import permitted English goods should apply to Leonard Jacques of Bombay. COD plus commission.

Saturday 29th November 1794

The Company’s attempt to raise two Corps of troops from the Nairs and the Moplas resident in Tippoo’s ceded domains has failed. No Nairs enlisted at all.

About 400 Moplas were recruited but they heard some rumour about the discipline or the dress they would be required to wear and they all absconded.

Captain Grant is left with one Mopla under his command.

Saturday 6th December 1794

Notice – Wm Dring of Dring Cleland & Co of Calcutta has joined a partnership at Madras which will trade as M/s Dring, Gordon & Hamilton w.e.f. 1st January 1795.

Saturday 6th December 1794

On 1st December Capt Urmston of the Company’s ship Sir Edward Hughes arrived from China with the Company fleet – Thetis, Pitt, Walpole – and six sugar ships for Bengal. They met the Company main fleet of 18 ships off Manila. That fleet included a whaler, one Spanish, one Portuguese and four American ships and was convoyed by HMS Lion, Sampson and Argo.

Saturday 20th December 1794

The India Gazette of 24th November reports some sepoys were escorting treasure from Midnapore to Calcutta when they were attacked by ten armed Europeans, routed and the treasure was stolen.

A short while later, the sepoys caught up with the thieves and vigorously attacked them, recovering the treasure and capturing all the Europeans.

Saturday 10th January 1795

Notice – Charles Featley is selling a variety of indigenous animals – rams, antelopes, mongooses, monkeys and numerous coloured birds – in the Parsee Bazaar.

Saturday 10th January 1795

Our allies the Peshwa and the Nizam are in dispute over a piece of land which the Marathas gave to the Nizam after Ragoba’s war and which they now want to get back. It is a valuable and productive territory and the Nizam appears prepared to fight to retain it.

Saturday 10th January 1795

An article from Asiatic Miscellany on methods of hunting game in India.

Saturday 24th January 1795

Letter from Rangoon, 25th November 1794:

The King of Ava’s minister now lives at Pegu, about 60 miles NNE of here, and an old capital city. The chief Hindu Brahmin at Ava advised the King to re-establish government at the same place as before the Burmese conquest. He accordingly sent his minister to Pegu to start work. At its height the walls of Pegu measured 6 leagues all around.

The Burmese conquest of Pegu happened in 16th century. Pegu was at war with Thailand and sought the assistance of the King of Ava, 500 miles up the Irrawaddy. Ava sent a huge army and this was the crucial factor in driving-off the Thais. The men of Ava thought the Pegu people were a soft-living bunch and usurped their government, uniting the country with Ava.

Today we carry on a considerable trade with Pegu. On 19th December there were ten European ships in the river. It has a vibrant ship-building industry.46

Saturday 31st January 1795

Letter from the Directors detailing the approved means to control British immigration to India, 11th December 1793:

“Our staff and the other European residents of India are affected by the terms of the new Charter. We have amended the covenants that European residents made with us to conform with the new law. This applies to every Briton, whether licensed to be in India by us or not. Please get the new covenants signed in duplicate and return one copy of each for us.

“If anyone refuses, banish him.

“It is imperative that we control the right to land in India. The witness to signature must be someone whose handwriting we recognise and can depend upon, so we can prove these agreements in England if necessary.”

Letter from the Directors, 18th May 1794:

“We have found it is easier for us to rely on the securities given here by our staff going to India. We will send you a sealed copy of each security provided to us in London which you should deliver to each man on his signing the new covenant. We have dated the covenants etc., as 1st February 1794 which is the day the new Charter becomes effective.

“Our military officers are not required to put-up security but they must sign the covenants.

“We also send you specimen covenants for free merchants, free mariners and persons we permit to reside in India under our licence. A free mariner must nominate two securities in England to put up £2,000; free merchants and those permitted to reside there must give securities of £500. Send all these covenants and securities to us and we will countersign them and return one part to you.”

Saturday 31st January 1795

Government Notices, 29th January:

The survey of land and buildings at Bombay is complete and the valuations have been approved in our Court of Oyer and Terminer.

The annual rate payable is assessed at 5% of the gross annual value as established at survey.

Tenders are now invited for street cleaning of all Bombay within 2 miles of Government House.

Saturday 21st February 1795

Bombay Presidency Notice – All persons not in the service of H M or the Honorable Company will attend John Morris, the Government Secretary, at the Castle between 12 noon and 3 pm any day from 18th February – 5th March to provide their covenants in the stipulated form. Commanders and officers of ships in the roads are strictly enjoined to sign before departure.

A list of residency licence fees for India is available on request.

Saturday 28th February 1795

Government Notice:

There is an old order requiring the captains of country ships to provide lists of the names and nationalities of their passengers and sea-cunnies before permitting them to disembark.

This order has fallen into abeyance but, with the strict licensing requirements for residents that the new Charter terms necessitate, it will in future be enforced.

Saturday 28th February 1795

Pestonjee Bomanjee has chests of superior hyson tea for sale for cash. Just arrived from China.

Saturday 28th February 1795

Government Notice – The Judicial records of the Quarter Sessions for 1793 are missing. Any person returning them will get 10 rupees, no questions asked.

Saturday 28th February 1795

Mr Manesty is the Company’s Resident at Muscat in the Persian Gulf. He supervises Gulf trade with British India and forwards those mails from Europe that are landed at Syrian port (often Latakia).

Saturday 28th February 1795

The Company’s Directors are contemplating raising and paying for three regiments of infantry as a voluntary gift of the Company for British service. Company officers presently in England will command them.

Saturday 7th March 1795

An express packet was sent from Calcutta overland on 14th February and arrived Bombay 6th March. It contains instructions from the Court of Directors that were brought out on the Indiaman Lascelles.

No details have been revealed but 20-day communications between Calcutta and Bombay is remarkable.

Saturday 7th March 1795

Asiatic Mirror (Calcutta) 28th January – Our increased trade with Pegu has determined the Governor-General to send an embassy to Ava to settle some differences and improve our trade.

Captain Symes is the deputed envoy.47

Saturday 14th March 1795

Advertisement – Captain Robert Scott is selling China goods. Best Hyson tea at 130 rupees per chest, sugar candy at 17 rupees a tub and preserved ginger at 8 rupees per jar.

Saturday 14th March 1795

Sindhia has at last responded to the Maratha Confederacy’s order, from the Durbar, to oppose the Nizam of Hyderabad. He has sent his quota of troops, under the French General Duboigne, to join the Maratha army.48

Saturday 14th March 1795

The pepper crop from Malabar coast will be tiny this year owing to late heavy rains which have damaged the ripening corns on the vines.

Saturday 21st March 1795

The armies of the Peshwa (Brahmin Minister of the Maratha King, based at Poona) and the Nizam Ali Khan (Shia Muslim King of Hyderabad State) have clashed about 90 miles east of Poona and the Marathas astonishingly won.

The Nizam is now encamped, surrounded by Maratha units, short of forage, grain and water, and obliged to sue for peace on whatever terms are available.49

Saturday 21st March 1795

A General Court was held in East India House on 8th October 1794. Devaynes was chairman of the meeting, which was well attended:

Lushington told the meeting that the war is to maintain our property-based system against the French threat of equality.50 Lushington was ready to contribute part of his own property to the contest.

Fitzgerald said the Company had become substantially more profitable and proposed it make a big interest-free loan to government. Henchman said a loan to government would be better use of the money than the proposed new Courts of Justice at Bombay and Madras. He thought the Company should raise new regiments. He proposed a committee of six shareholders (all lawyers) to study the matter and report.

Randle Jackson said it was the Company’s financial support which raised the Bank of England so high in public estimation. We can easily raise and maintain three new regiments right now. Francis Baring said giving money to government is of doubtful propriety – last year we had to go to parliament to do it and it is possible Government will have to forego the £500,000 we gave then. The deficiencies must be carried forward year after year.

Princep proposed the company pay only 8% dividend per annum and give the balance (the increased dividend they had been allowed) to government.

David Scott said the Company was actually short of cash (its new profits are still documentary) but it has not yet started to borrow any of the money that it is allowed to borrow.

Twining thought involving lawyers at this stage derogated from the spirit of the offer. He wanted to raise three regiments first and see how to pay for them afterwards. Serjeant Watson agreed. He said the shareholders could be induced to instantly subscribe an indemnification, as in 1780 when the court had voted three warships to government.

Bentley was for raising new money by a bond issue.

The Lord Mayor wanted an instant decision. Any delay and we might be too late to raise men to defend India House and the Company’s warehouses, which he was sure would be amongst the first objects of destruction in any French invasion.

Serjeant Watson’s proposal (for three regiments) was then voted and passed unanimously.

Saturday 4th April 1795

Bombay public works contract, 3rd April. The Presidency invites sealed proposals for construction of a store house in which the new cotton baling machine from England will be installed. The Civil Architect has a plan of the building which is available for inspection.51

Saturday 4th April 1795

The Bombay Presidency frequently charters private tonnage to move troops and stores around India.

Saturday 4th April 1795

Daniel Seton is selling his three shares in the Bombay Insurance Office, individually by public outcry on 6th April.

Saturday 11th April 1795

Elphinstone, the Postmaster of Bombay, has restricted the weight of a post bag to 4 seers which excludes articles like the Bombay Courier. The dawk couriers find newspapers too heavy.

The Editor now sends the Courier by ship to the Malabar coast for land carriage across Maratha lands to Madras. Delivery has recently been delayed by the quarrel between the Peshwa and the Nizam.

Saturday 11th April 1795

Asseed ul Omrah, the Nizam’s minister, has been in the Maratha camp at end of last month to settle differences with the Peshwa. Nana Furnavese is the Maratha minister with whom he negotiates. Nana insulted Asseed by requiring him to show the customary submission before the Peshwa as a term of commencing negotiations.

Asseed had no choice.

He afterwards pitched his tents to the rear of the Maratha camp. Some Maratha guards were then placed around his tents. Capt Kirkpatrick, the Company’s Resident at Hyderabad, who supports the Nizam, says grain is scarce, water bad and a disease is spreading amongst the troops. On 1st April the Nizam and Peshwa broke camp. The Nizam has gone back to Hyderabad. The Peshwa has triumphed.

Saturday 11th April 1795

A fleet of boats convoyed by the Company’s armed cruiser Bombay has arrived at Bombay from Surat on 8th April with 12,000 bales of cotton. A second fleet will bring 25,000 more bales soon.

Saturday 11th April 1795

A General Meeting of Shareholders of the Company has been held to discuss and approve the Directors proposed donation of cash to Pitt or the agreed alternative plan of raising three new regiments for government free of charge:

Shareholder Collins of Salisbury said that public patriotism should not be the instrument of private injustice. He said the war is ruinous and unfortunate. He thought any donation to government would hazard the dividend and encourage ministers to keep fighting. He asked the Directors to state clearly if the Company could afford the donation. He noted those proprietors who are peers and great men had not commented publicly on the previous proceedings of the shareholders wherein these gifts were approved. He resented allowing private property to be requisitioned by Pitt’s party for its own ends.

Lushington said he was independent of Pitt’s ministry. He had proposed the donation as he thought the Company’s and Country’s interests were the same as the ministry’s. He had proved his zealous concern for the Company by the volume of work he had done at Charter renewal. He had amended his proposal in light of lawyer Randle Jackson’s comments and he moved that the amended address be sent to the King. Jackson Barvis seconded.

Serjeant Adair and Rous (both lawyers) thought the address illegal. The Attorney General and Solicitor General (both shareholders) had withheld their opinions out of delicacy.

Sir Francis Baring was opposed to mixing partisan politics with commerce. He thought, regardless of legality, the donation was insupportable as the Company’s finances were inadequate. The effect of this proposal must be a fall in the stock price. He said the King could legally grant the Company authority to raise only 2,000 men in time of war. The Company’s army officers in India were discontented by the proposal. The officers appointed to the three regiments would ultimately return to India and compete for rank with men who had spent their whole lives there. If the Company sought to increase taxes on its imports of British manufactures to India to pay for the donated force, it risked encouraging smuggling into its market. He thought Directors should act in accordance with the wishes of the shareholders, many of whom were clearly opposed to this measure.

Serjeant Watson disagreed with everything Baring had said. This was not a matter of party or politics. The French system of government was a threat to the Company. He agreed that war was ruinous but thought, as we need to preserve what we have, that England has no alternative but to try by all means to prevail. We have to pay whatever it costs to achieve that result. It may be illegal but co-operation with the minister is fundamentally important and this is what Lushington is saying. And he warned the attendees that if they refused the donation, it might contribute to the death of the Company.

The barrister Jones Adair said he opposed the donation and he had all along been frank and straightforward in his reasons. He was not trying to influence people by clever advocacy.52 Adair thought it very appropriate for the Company to give some evidence of its loyalty to the King and love of the Constitution but it should strictly follow the law. The declinations of both Attorney and Solicitor General to give opinions was the clearest indication of the Company’s legal position. Adair opposed putting the Directors in the position of having to evade the law and perhaps defending themselves against shareholders in Court.

Serjeant Watson said the address was prospective. It says what we wish to do not what we will do. The King is not obliged to accept it.

Director David Scott said the nit-picking legal points were trifling. He thought the company was in fine shape and substantially profitable. The fluctuations in share price recently had been due to brokers manipulating the market – there was no real concern for the Company’s profitability. Some country friends had written to him asking what effect the donation would have on the dividend and he had replied in writing that he had no doubt the dividend would only increase in his lifetime. As regards the morale of the Company’s army officers, Cornwallis had long been finalising an arrangement with government which would completely satisfy them.

Francis Baring insisted the donation was a partisan political initiative, unsuitable for a commercial house to be involved it. Randle Jackson insisted it was not. Ultimately Lushington proposed the Directors raise the three regiments and present the Address to the King.

Baring wished personally to be excepted from the decision.

Saturday 25th April 1795

The European and native merchants of Bombay have ‘prevailed’ upon Commodore Rainier to provide part of his fleet for convoy protection for their shipping.

Saturday 25th April 1795

Maratha News – At the beginning of this month the Nizam moved his camp to obtain better supplies. It is a violation of the humiliating treaty he made with the Peshwa.

On 6th April the Marathas sent part of their army to remonstrate. The following day they moved their whole army towards the Nizam and negotiations were resumed. The terms of the original treaty remain unknown.

(next week it is reported the treaty is concluded, still with terms unpublished, and the Maratha army has returned to Poona)

Saturday 9th May 1795

The President of the Madras Council has told Company military officers resigning or going on medical leave to England that they must first swear that their property does not exceed a certain value.

These ‘certain values’ are the figures in the agreement made by the Directors with Robert Clive on behalf of the employees.

Only after making the declaration may they claim the passage money allowance which ship commanders receive for providing suitable accommodation.

The maximum capital accumulation allowed in Clive’s treaty with the Company is Colonel £4,000; Lt Colonel £3,000; Major £2,500; Captain £2,000; Lieutenant £1,000; Ensign £746.

This Madras regulation does not apply to officers of H M forces on attachment to India but only to the Company’s own army officers. If those officers are ordered home they can apply for relief and each case will be treated on its merits.53

Saturday 16th May 1795

Tenders are invited for the provision of gun platforms to the Company. They should have a solid stone foundation 2 feet thick. They should be 18’ long. The width is 9’ at the front increasing to 18’ at the rear and the whole foundation should slope 10” from front to rear. The five wooden sleepers for each platform are to have a cross section of 7” square and to be each secured into the stonework by five pickets. The planks on the sleepers are to be 2½” thick. All wood is to be bassein timber (Burmese teak). All nails to be 7½” long. A full muster of the platform is available from Lt Colonel Nicholson, Chief Engineer, Bombay Castle.

Saturday 30th May 1795

Died 28th May – Thomas Herring, military Paymaster General and Senior Merchant of Bombay. He fell off his horse at Salsette and hurt himself and then caught a cold whilst recuperating.

Saturday 30th May 1795

Captain Symes, the Company’s emissary to Pegu, has arrived at Rangoon and the Minister of Ava, resident there, has sent Symes’ credentials to the King.

Symes is instructed to propose a permanent alliance, a Company Resident based at Rangoon, and free immigration and trade.

Saturday 30th May 1795

A special type of elephant has been brought from Rangoon by Captain Newton as a present from the Prince of Pegu to his old friend the Nabob of the Carnatic.

Saturday 6th June 1795

Auction on 8th June at 10 am – the plate, furniture and carriages of the late Thomas Herring.

Saturday 6th June 1795

Editorial – People living under despotic governments exhibit little interest in politics. They are not allowed to participate in government so they do not bother themselves about it. This is the usual condition of the Indians. In the courts of all the native princes are officers who transmit regular accounts to other princes. It is only the courts of Princes that take an interest in the proceedings of their neighbours. The Court of Dowlat Rao is a case in point. He has assumed Sindhia’s position. A recent daily Court Circular is appended:

21st May (1st Zulkad) – Dowlat Rao awoke early, completed his routines and worship and took his seat on the veranda of the Chowkay. The Munshee, Guman Roy Cutwell, with Mir Burhan and Cassey Rajah attended him.

It was reported that an elephant had died in the night and another was sick.

Afterwards Dowlat Rao rode to River Chunderbhagar to bathe. He performed Puja and the attendants pitched their tents. He then sent for a turban and 7 saris to give as charity. He also handed out money and four oxen. He then went to Balmucon’s house and later to Gopaljee’s.

At midday he returned to the river to wash. He then rode back to the fort and dined with his nobles. He took a nap then went riding again to worship the deity of Pundapore and Krishna. He thanked the Brahmin who manages the temple.

On his way back he passed the tent of Ankat Rao and stopped and entered. He was given refreshment then he went home. He entered the harem and the officials went away. Later in the evening … etc.

Saturday, 13th June 1795

The Company has chartered 35 Indiamen for the carriage of British goods from London to Bengal for the coming season. Ten more Indiamen are being prepared. The first fleet should sail in April.

Saturday, 13th June 1795

Madras news:

The Rajah of Veragottam continues to defy the Company. His resources are being stopped and he is confined in his own country.

Major Dunwoody with a European regiment has been sent to oppose him.

Saturday, 13th June 1795

Letter from London 8th May – The claims of Indian army officers have received the sympathetic attention of Dundas for the ministry. Cornwallis is also supportive of the officers’ interests. These two are pressing the matter in London. Several Directors (Scott, Devaynes and others) are also assisting.

At present Indian army officers are allowed overseas leave and full pay on certain grounds. We also request for promotions whilst on leave (the Company promotes by seniority). The ministry is considering incorporating the Indian army in the British army but the Directors are opposed. The officers on leave have formed themselves into the London Committee of India Officers to lobby the Board of Control and the Directors on their claims.54

Saturday 20th June 1795

The Company has taken up an increased amount of shipping for the current season. Twelve 1,200 ton ships, mainly for China including Arniston (Charles Marjoribanks) and Gratton (Charles Drummond), and twenty-nine of the 800 – 900 tonners for Bombay, Bengal and Madras.

Saturday 27th June 1795

Editor – Another ship has arrived from Basra but the messengers seem disinclined to bring weighty newspapers across the desert and this packet has only official Company correspondence.

Saturday 27th June 1795

Madras 11th May – a plot to murder Captain Smith of the Revenge and his officers has been uncovered. The plan originated with a Frenchman who had been taken on crew. His plan was adopted by several Malays and a Portuguese. The crew includes many Bengal lascars but they, as usual, declined to involve themselves.

Saturday 27th June 1795

The Dutch employ a Swiss regiment at Colombo.55 These people hold French principles and have subverted the trade of the port. The Dutch governor now sleeps in the fortress with his Dutch soldiers who are not yet influenced.

This Swiss regiment was formerly at the Cape but its behaviour was so wild as to induce the Dutch governor there, van der Graaf, to send it to Colombo. To accomplish this van der Graaf first had to arrest several of the regimental officers. The rank and file are a cosmopolitan group.

Saturday 11th July 1795

Captain Neilson of the 77th regiment has introduced the cochineal beetle into Bengal. He got the idea from Dr Anderson at Madras who has identified a local plant that he believes the beetle would thrive on. Nielson obtained three plants with beetles at Rio de Janeiro.

He gave one to Mason, the King’s botanist, which was sent to St Helena which island produces nothing useful. The second he gave to Pringle the Company’s Resident at the Cape who forwarded it to Dr Scott of Calcutta by hand of a doctor on a Swedish ship which has not yet arrived. The third was given to Dr Roxburgh who superintends the Company’s garden at Calcutta (Sibpur) and, when its traditional plant was expended, the animal was placed on a yellow-flowering shrub that is common throughout Bengal.

It appears to be thriving.

Saturday 25th July 1795

Private letters from Madras indicate a move against Dutch Eastern possessions has been proposed by the Company. This will primarily involve Ceylon and Malacca.

The Catherine and the Ewer are taken up by the Company as troop transports.

(These expeditions were reported to have been abandoned in 1st August edition but restored a fortnight later)

Saturday 25th July 1795

Cornwallis’ negotiations in London to assimilate the Indian and British Armies are being leaked.

The Company’s 12 European battalions are to be converted into 8 King’s regiments of 10 companies each, commanded by a King’s officer but otherwise officered by men of the Company’s army.

The Company’s 80 battalions of native infantry are to be amalgamated into 26 regiments of 2 battalions, each of 10 companies. They will be deployed 12 at Bengal, 10 on the Coromandel coast and 4 at Bombay. A Colonel will command, a Lt Colonel will have one battalion and a major the other. Each battalion will have 7 captains, 1 Captain Lieutenant, 21 Lieutenants and 10 ensigns.

Colonels commanding regiments may live in England with full regimental pay and off-reckonings. Other officers may visit England for up to 3 years and receive pay. After a period of service (not yet fixed), all officers may sell their commissions or retire on full pay. Double batta and diwani are abolished. Half batta is allowed at all stations.

Saturday 1st August 1795

The conquest of the Dutch factories at Ceylon and Malacca has been entrusted to two expeditions, one under Colonel James Stuart and the other under Major Archibald Brown.

Details of the composition of the expeditionary forces are given in the newspaper article.

The Malaccan expedition left 20th July; the Ceylonese on the following day. A force from Bengal will likely reinforce the Malacca conquest.56

Saturday 15th August 1795

Pestonjee Bomanjee has bought the cargo of the American ship Eliza – porter, cider and meats – for local sale.

Saturday 22nd August 1795

The Governor-General has made up a letter packet for the Directors in London. It was taken by the Fly to Basra on 21st August for the overland route.

Saturday 22nd August 1795

The Botany Bay ship Experiment has arrived from Port Jackson via Batavia. Its captain reports dairy and grain farming is particularly successful in Botany Bay.

He says the Batavia markets are all depressed. Opium sells at $300 per chest.

Saturday 29th August 1795

Three galleys of the Nabob of Arcot have arrived from Mocha en route to Madras.57 They are convoyed by the Company’s cruiser Mentor of Bombay. They are the Surprise, Success and Generous Friends. When they left Mocha with their coffee cargoes, there were two Surat ships in port – one of Chilabi’s and the Faz Gowdry. The Company’s supercargoes Soper and Ramsey remain at Mocha to complete their coffee purchases and loadings.

The Nabob’s galleys carried pilgrims to Mecca on the outward voyage, escorted by the Nabob’s sloop. On arrival at the port of Mecca, the sheriff sought payment from the Nabob’s vackeel to permit the passengers to disembark, however Lt Sneyd of the Nabob’s sloop overheard the demand and intervened.

Later the pilot provided by Mecca to steer the sloop out of port, directed her course towards sunken rocks. A lookout saw the danger and the pilot’s course was changed but the sloop still struck and was slightly damaged. She had to put back for repairs. The pilot jumped overboard as soon as he was detected and made his escape whilst the crew were trying to avoid the danger.

It seems a landing fee per pilgrim is customary at Mecca.

Saturday 29th August 1795

India Gazette (the Calcutta government paper) of 3rd August:

The Company’s emissary to the Burmese, Lt Symes, was well received at Rangoon and has since left for Ava on 30th May with a large fleet of river boats, escorted by the King’s Viceroy at Rangoon and some 3,000 Burmese retainers. Symes arrived at Prome on 13th June and expected to arrive Ava on 3rd or 4th July.

At that time we had four ships at Pegu – the private traders’ ships Anna, Pseuton and Favorite and the Company’s armed brig Seahorse.

Saturday 29th August 1795

The American sloop Betsy (Gibb) has arrived at Madras on 30th June with a cargo of pepper from Aceh. She left New York a year before with instructions to collect the American consul McCarthy from Mauritius and take him home.

Gibb arrived at the island in December. The ship was searched and her provisions removed by the government whereafter she was embargoed. The island has had no contact with France for many months. At end March Gibb managed to obtain the release of his ship but not the Consul. He then did the Sumatra voyage.

Gibb says the lack of provisions on Mauritius has become serious. The only supplies they can get are bullocks from Madagascar.

The privateers Prudente and Sybille sailed before the Betsy, intent on intercepting some Dutch Indiamen on the homebound leg of their voyages. The Dutch ships were expected to have valuable cargoes of tea and silk.

Saturday 5th September 1795

Notice 2nd September – The President and Council of Bombay have ordered that no further covenants to free merchants or mariners will be provided after 15th October.

Saturday 5th September 1795

Three of the Company’s fleet for this season arrived 3rd September at Bombay from Portsmouth. The passage took one hundred days. They sailed to San Salvador in Brazil and picked up the wind there for the Cape of Good Hope. Approaching India the fleet separated with the contingents for Madras and Bengal veering off to the east.

Saturday 5th September 1795

The Direction of the Company after April’s elections is now in the hands of the following 24 shareholders:

Francis Baring, Jacob Bosanquet, Joseph Cotton, Lionell Darell, Wm Devaynes, Thomas Fitzhugh, Simon Fraser, Charles Grant, Hugh Inglis, James Irwin, Paul le Mesurier, Stephen Lushington (Chairman), John Manship, Thomas Theophilus Metcalfe, Charles Mills, William Money, Thomas Parry, Abraham Robarts, John Roberts, David Scott (Deputy Chairman), George Smith, George Tatem, Robert Thornton and John Townson.

Saturday 5th September 1795

Open letter of 10th September 1794 (a year ago) from the officers of the Company’s Bombay army to the Directors:

Henry Dundas said he would take Cornwallis’ advice and resolve the argument over the terms of our military service. We have waited a long time. We have now seen the papers. All the Company’s officers are devalued by the proposals and the security of India is threatened by their consequent amotivation.

London’s plan is based on taking all the Europeans and natives into His Majesty’s service. It proposes to incorporate the artillery and engineers in the King’s army. It also says the European regiments serving here will be regularly relieved. It suggests a separation of the Sepoy line from the European line.

All these Europeans will cost a fortune. The proposals will strengthen your European force and weaken the Sepoy army. Everybody knows that Europeans cannot tolerate the Indian sun without years of acclimatisation. On the other hand men who are acclimatised to India cannot tolerate English winters.

A knowledge of the geography, culture, languages and manners of India is essential. H M’s officers have studied Europe whilst we have studied India.

We also object to the British army customs of

a) purchasing rank and

b) promoting by selection

which are incompatible with our ways.

The plan requires that Company officers appear beneath H M’s officers on the seniority lists. This will instantly devalue Company officers serving in England by 50%. The chances of promotion are almost entirely removed. The British lists contain a huge number of supernumerary and brevet field officers whose numbers together far exceed the conceivable requirements of the army.58 The separation of European and Sepoy lines will encourage incoming King’s officers to prefer employment in native regiments whereas we will face hardship and under-employment in Europe. With so little for the British army to do, they will no doubt pour over here and create an inequality of promotion prospects between the two lines.

We finally remind you that, of the strength of the native regiments in the Bombay military, two thirds are men from native states which are not subject to the Company’s government. They will resist any attempt to move them overseas or to another Presidency.

In such circumstances they may be expected to go home and spread the word thus making recruiting more difficult.

Please resist the assimilation of the armies.

Saturday 19th September 1795

The reinforcement of troops, stores and the battering train for the reduction of the Dutch enclave of Cochin (on the Malabar coast) is on its way under Major Wiseman and will arrive mid-September.

Saturday 19th September 1795

A Portuguese Indiaman has arrived at Madras from Portugal via Madeira on 28th August with 700 pipes59 of Madeira wine and $900,000 in silver.

Saturday 19th September 1795

Hyderabad – The rebellion of the Nizam’s son Ali Jah at Beder has persuaded His Highness to call on the English under his treaty of 1768. We have sent two battalions under Major Roberts to assist.

Saturday 19th September 1795

London 15th May – Dundas has spoken in the Commons about the Company’s shipping. He told MPs that the British-built ships chartered to the Company for India trade had necessarily been surrendered for British government use.

Some alternative transport is necessary for Indian trade. The House resolved itself into a committee and decided to permit non-British-built ships to carry the India and China trade.60

Saturday 19th September 1795

Three shallow-draft Spanish ships (with French names – La Decouverte, L’Audacieuse and La Sybile) started a voyage of discovery in July 1789. They examined the Argentinian coast and then entered the Pacific and sought to determine the existence of the North West passage ( by exploring the Hudson Strait and Foxe Basin). They also visited the Machas, Marianas and Philippines. They discovered a passage between Mindanao and New Guinea. They continued to New Hebrides, New Zealand, New Holland and the Friendly Islands.

Saturday 26th September 1795

Mr Manesty, the Company’s Resident at Muscat has now removed to Basra. He has sent despatches via Muscat to the Bombay government. A few private letters and newspapers are said to be included in the packet.

We hear from the delivering ship’s crew that a Dutch ship has arrived at Muscat with sugar and spices from Batavia and that another was expected.

Saturday 3rd October 1795

Jonathan Duncan, one of Warren Hastings ‘bright young men’, was Resident at Benares (Varanasi) in 1791 – 1795. He established the Sanskrit College at Benares; concluded the treaty of commerce with Nepal in 1792 (2½% duty on all trade either way)61 and supervised the new opium monopoly.

He arrived Calcutta on 4th September en route to Bombay where he will be installed as the new Governor of the Presidency.

His brother will assume the duties of Collector at Benares.

Saturday 10th October 1795

The Orpheus (Newcomb) and Resistance (Pakenham) sailed 10th August with the troop transports for the invasion of Malacca.

Saturday 17th October 1795

Notice, 16th October – the terms of the Company’s Treaty with the Bibi of Cannalore dated January 1784 are in dispute. A committee is appointed and will inspect all relevant records and take depositions of witnesses. Everyone is required to co-operate with the Committee.

Saturday 17th October 1795

The survey of Tippoo’s ceded lands in Malabar is continuing. The productions of the country are being calculated, historical taxes identified and the value of the acquisition to the Company ascertained.

Lt Emmitt has been doing the survey but has resigned. He is replaced by Ensign Bryce Moncrieff.

Samuel Ince has been registering buildings in Malabar but has reported sick. He is replaced by Robert Lewis.

Moncrieff and Lewis are to sail to Cannanore to assume their duties.

Saturday 17th October 1795

Letter from the Cape, 14th August – Admiral Sir George Keith Elphinstone is in Simon’s Bay at the Cape with the Company’s squadron. The Dutch have received him amicably and he has requested the surrender of the Colony to us. His terms were rejected.

He landed 2,000 marines and soldiers and attacked the Dutch stronghold of Muizenberg, between False Bay and the Cape, with assistance from two war sloops. The place was ours in 30 minutes.

Since then there has been only minor skirmishing.

The Arniston brought another 400 men with treasure and supplies. General Craig expects to have command of the Cape in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday 27th October 1795 – Extraordinary

Mr Manesty, the Company’s Resident at Basra, has re-established the Company’s factory on Graine Island on 4th September.

Tuesday 27th October 1795 – Extraordinary

Captain Pruin has written to Madras dated 2nd September, reporting the fall of Malacca to British arms. The expedition arrived 17th August and the Dutch hardly attempted a defence. On 18th the fort submitted in the name of the Stadtholder.

The civil administration will be untouched but the Dutch garrison is being sent to Madras in the first instance.62

Saturday 31st October 1795

The Peshwa died on 27th October at Poona. Savoy Mahadowrow Pundit Purdhun ruled the Maratha Empire and generally united the feuding princes. His presumptive heir, the son of Ragoba, is presently a state prisoner.

Saturday 31st October 1795

The American ship Samson has arrived Bombay and reports Elphinstone is in possession of the Cape. General Craig has cleared all opposition and has approached to within 10 miles of Capetown where he is encamped awaiting reinforcements from the Indiamen.

Monday 2nd November – Extraordinary

The Dutch were confident of protecting Cochin from us because they had 122 cannon in the fort. On 17th October they opened fire on our trench works. We got our batteries established within 800 yards of the walls and opened fire on 19th October. The following day the Dutch surrendered. Governor Vanspall marched his troops out with full honours. They laid down their arms and surrendered.

Our men then got drunk and looted the town. Vanspall was injured trying to protect the place. Many of the buildings are said to have been badly damaged. There were few injuries on our side.

Saturday 7th November 1795

Editorial – The death of the Peshwa at Hyderabad (seems this should be Poona as previously reported) and the subsequent disturbances and fighting in Maratha lands is worrying. We have no clear idea why they are in dispute but assume it relates to the succession.

Various rumours are circulating, all mutually contradictory, and we have no idea who is to assume the power. It is expected that a convocation of the Maratha chiefs will be called to settle the leadership.

Saturday 7th November 1795

The new Governor of Bombay is confirmed to be Jonathan Duncan, formerly the Company’s Resident at Benares.

Saturday 7th November 1795

The taking of Malacca was achieved with the assistance of the China fleet of Indiamen. They were convoyed down to Malacca from Penang and their boats were used to land the troops at night. The Dutch were accordingly surprised at the speed of the operation and surrendered immediately but we did not take possession until the following morning (18th August).

Capt Newcombe will sail to Rhio tomorrow to take off our garrison and stores and abandon that place. Now we have Malacca it is no longer required.

Saturday 7th November 1795

Letter from Cape Town, 28th August – The British squadron arrived 8 weeks ago in False Bay but has not yet attempted to enter Table Bay. The British have repeatedly demanded the surrender of Cape Town and the Governor has repeatedly refused.

Three groups are vying for power – the Dutch supporters of the Stadtholder; the democratic Dutch who want the French system and the English party who offer trade and personal wealth – this last group is most numerous.

The Dutch have called out their militia which is based at Stellenbosch and Rode Huys and the Governor believes the English force is inadequate to prevail.

The English have made three attacks on posts at False Bay and taken two of them. Wine and wheat are abundant. Everything else is expensive.

Saturday 7th November 1795

Madras news – Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah, Nabob of the Carnatic (sometimes Nabob of Arcot), died on 13th October. He has been a stout friend to the Company. He is succeeded by his son Umdat ul Omrah who seems disposed to maintain friendship with us.

Saturday 14th November 1795

Notice – Nathan Crow is appointed Resident at Basra. Le Mesurier will assist him and McIntyre will be the factory surgeon.

Saturday 14th November 1795

Letter from Madras, 29th October – HMS Heroine (Gardner) with the Company’s armed ships Suffolk (Admiral Rainier), Arniston (Marjoribanks), the galley Surprise and the transport Mary, have sailed east. It is supposed they sail against the Spice Islands.

Saturday 14th November 1795

Midnapur, 7th October – The 15th battalion of Native Light Infantry has mutinied. The complaint of the mutineers was the requirement they serve in the expedition to Malacca – Hindu sepoys are reluctant to serve outside India.

The Company says their English officers agreed to overseas service on behalf of the men but the sepoys were not consulted and declined to go. They refused orders and insulted their European officers but did not harm them.

Colonel Erskine organised the European officers. They took command of the fort and called in the guards. Capt Grant brought the 29th battalion to the parade ground where his force was outnumbered by the mutineers two to one and was fired upon.

The English then fired grapeshot at the mutineers from two field pieces and after just five minutes the dissidents threw away their arms and absconded.

The colours of the 15th battalion have been ceremonially burnt and the battalion disbanded.

Saturday 28th November 1795

Same advert as 7th November (now dated 20th November) for funds to buy Surat piecegoods and offering the Company’s Bills of Exchange to remit the proceeds to London at 2/4d per Bombay rupee (1d more than the previous advertisement)

Saturday 28th November 1795

Privileged tonnage – Capt George Seton will sell a few chests of Hyson and Pekoe tea at 100 rupees per chest through his Bombay Agent M/s Bruce, Fawcett & Co

Saturday 5th December 1795

Lullaboy, the pundit of Broach, is imprisoned in Gujerat on suspicion of extorting property from the Purgunna of that land. He is in heavy irons and is being physically injured daily.

He is believed to have many assets but seems reluctant to say where they are.

Saturday 12th December 1795

Cotton Bowerbank Dent, the senior member of the Arcot Board of Trade, married Harriet Neale on 17th November at Arcot.

Saturday 19th December 1795

General Smith MP’s speech in the Commons, 10th March 1795:

1,600 good officers of the Company’s army in India have requested me to redress their grievances. They earlier send numerous petitions to the Company and one to the King. They worry that the reorganisation of the Indian army will entrench an inferior status upon them.

They have three main complaints –

  1. that they are not cared-for when they complete their service,
  2. rank in India will no longer relate to length of service or responsibility (the number of men commanded) and
  3. Indian staff officers are not considered equivalent of British staff officers.

There follows columns of whinge on these three points …..

In the present state of affairs it is widely expected that France will soon send troops to the East. The National Convention has recently sent three deputies to the East. But the French have been removed from every factory they once held in Asia except Mauritius and Reunion. These deputies are going to re-establish French influence.

M. Guby of the National Convention told that assembly:

“Our Asian possessions have fallen to the English. We are not yet strong enough to restore them. We must be both bold and wise. It is dangerous to dare too much or too little. England is exhausted but the enormous revenues she gets from Asia sustain her. The goods are now so extensive that the Company’s fleet is inadequate to carry them. History reveals that the rulers of Hindustan have been the most opulent in the world – the ancient soil is continually productive.

“It is the wealth of Asia that enables the ‘tyrant of the seas’ to dispute with us. It is in Asia that England must be attacked. The empire she has usurped overseas is the source of her wealth and must be destroyed. This will be fulfilled by the ruin of British commerce in India. So long as England retains Asia she has the funds to raise enemies against us externally and internally.

“It is inconsistent with our principles to retain possessions in India. Once the English are expelled the trade of Asia will be opened to all. Mauritius commands all India. From there we will retake the old French and Dutch possessions and drive the English out. Without Mauritius we can never fight battles at a distance of 5,000 leagues.”

H M’s forces in India represent less than 10% of the Company’s total army establishment. The Company’s army is peopled by officers with great experience. We need a well motivated force to contend with France should she dispute control of India with us.

A second matter is the temptation to Company officers to enter service with native princes. Our mastery of India relies on dividing the native princes, preventing their establishing armed and disciplined infantry and more importantly on preventing their understanding the proper use of artillery. The acquisition of lands in India has been achieved by a small force. In England you would not for a moment consider sending such a small force to obtain such a great prize.

We maintain these lands in Company ownership with a native force nearly as numerous as the combined forces of the native princes. Our tactics are slowly recognised and understood by the Indians and every renewal of war teaches them new lessons. We depend entirely on the native troops for our preservation. Their superiority over their countrymen is due to the training we give them and the skill and example of the Indian army officers in directing them. In this way native troops have been steady in the face of bayonet charges by French infantry.

The native princes recognise our advantage and begin to understand our military science. They already employ European officers to train their infantry and superintend their use of artillery. Hyder Ali, the late ‘usurper of Mysore,’ employed French officers to completely reorganise his army. He learned from us not simply the value of training and discipline but also the importance of regular payment. He became so formidable that all his neighbours feared him. His son Tippoo Sahib built on his father’s work. He compelled British prisoners to provide training for his army. He absorbed the lands of his neighbours and came to have a frontier contiguous with ours. We were forced to diminish him but the effort was enormous.

The same facility to lease Company officers allowed the great Maratha Madajee Sindhia to acquire land, wealth and influence. A few years ago a Company officer, seeing no prospect of promotion in the Company’s army, resigned his commission and joined Sindhia. Very soon he was promoted to General and given the command of ten battalions of sepoys and an appropriate amount of artillery. Since Sindhia’s death the same officer continues in the same high rank under his successor, Dowlat Rao.

It is not simply a matter of outbidding the native princes (which we cannot do) but of giving Company officers better prospects and a competency when they retire. British officers serve in the armies of Russia and the Netherlands (and until very recently France) because they get better terms and promotion prospects.

In Europe the armies are all similarly trained and no particular advantage derives to a country employing foreign officers. It is not so in India. Dundas should know that this is not a complaint of a few officers but the entire establishment. It is not extortion but justice.

I remind the House of the alarming circumstances that Clive faced in April 1766 by a combination of his officers against him. He wrote to Calcutta “such a spirit must at all hazards be suppressed at its birth, unless we determine on seeing the authority of the President and Council insulted, and the government of these provinces pass from the civil to the military department.” Fortunately that spirit was suppressed. A full history of the transactions is contained in the records of House of Commons.

This matter is under discussion between the Board of Control and the Company but a wide difference exists between the positions of the parties. This difference of opinion includes an important constitutional question.63

Saturday 26th December 1795

The Company’s cruiser Intrepid (Selby) sailed from this port on 20th December for Basra with dispatches by the overland route for the Directors in London.

Saturday 26th December 1795

Madras news:

  • Alexander Macleod is made Resident of Tanjore. All other Europeans are prohibited from interviewing the Rajah of Tanjore except through Macleod’s intermediary.
  • the Swiss regiment de Meuron, formerly in Dutch service, is transferred to British service w.e.f. 2nd December. Pay and allowances will duplicate those of King’s regiments serving in India.

Saturday 26th December 1795

Cape of Good Hope, 4th September – 2,500 troops have been landed at False Bay to augment the existing British force. They came on Indiamen via San Salvador, Brazil. With the 2,000 marines from the shipping we now have 5,300 men under arms. They will invest Capetown.

We have no battering train but will use the ships’ great cannon from the lower decks. We rely entirely on the ships for provisions and cannot maintain a long siege of Capetown. Two line-of-battle ships and an Indiamen will take provisions for 1,500 men to Table Bay and land the supplies as soon as we are able to protect them.

Saturday 2nd January 1796

From Bengal we learn that the Bombay ships Royal Charlotte and Mentor have been both sold there for 120,000 and 90,000 Sicca rupees respectively.

Tuesday 5th January Extraordinary

We have captured Capetown. South Africa is ours.

General Clarke marched an army of about 5,000 men to Muisenburg. On 14th September HMS America, HMS Echo and HMS Rattlesnake with the Indiaman Bombay Castle commenced a diversion in Table Bay.

On 16th September the army marched to Wineburg where a negotiation was held between Admiral G K Elphinstone and General Clarke for Britain and the Dutch Cape Governor, his Council and Colonel Gordon (serving as the Dutch CiC) for the Netherlands.

The Dutch offered their terms of capitulation which were accepted.

The Dutch garrison comprised about 5,500 men. They had 350 cannon in Capetown. HMS America will remain guard ship at Table Bay whilst the rest of the fleet will sail to India and the East. General Craig will command Cape Province.

The capitulation dated 16th September stipulates that:

  • Capetown and its castle are surrendered to Britain;
  • the Dutch garrison are prisoners-of-war but the officers may retain their swords; those officers who agree not to fight against Britain again in this war may go home at their own expense; those who wish to stay at the Cape may do so;
  • All VOC property will be confiscated.
  • private property will be respected.
  • No new taxes will be raised but the present ones may be varied to revive the Colony.
  • No residents of the Colony will be pressed into British service but they are welcome to join voluntarily.
  • Freedom of worship is proclaimed.
  • Britain will underwrite the note issue for a new currency.
  • A further article notes that the security underpinning the paper money that circulates in Cape Colony is the land and property of the VOC in South Africa (other than that paper money lent to individuals that is secured by mortgages on their personal property). Elphinstone and Clarke undertake to represent to the British government the importance of this subject to the continued prosperity of the white people in South Africa.

Saturday 16th January 1796

Yesterday a boat arrived from Basra with a dispatch from Mr Manesty, the Company’s Resident there. The packet contains some European newspapers and instructions from the Secret Committee of the Directors.

Saturday 16th January 1796

A long description of Capetown, from which briefly:

  • …. The Dutch Company has a huge botanical garden at Capetown run by Mr Auge where the natural plants of the country are collected and examined for their commercial properties.
  • Adjacent is the VOC’s dormitory where the slave gardeners live.The slaves also build houses and carry goods to / from the shipping. They are provided by Dutch and French ships from Madagascar. Occasionally Swedish or British ships bring them for auction.

Saturday 30th January 1796

The disputed sovereignty of some Maratha lands is causing commercial distress to the Company. Maratha merchants normally bring their goods to our Bombay market.

Now they are not trading and have instead placed their capital (a large and increasing amount of specie) in Bombay.

Saturday 30th January 1796

The Madras Courier says Dutch attempts to improve their hold on Java have entailed the subjection of the Malay and Chinese residents at Batavia. The oppression has caused an insurrection. There are 30,000 Chinese in Batavia and they have joined with all the other Asian expatriates there.

The emancipation of slaves under the French Constitution, and its inference for Dutch Colonies, has encouraged many of those expatriates to join in an immense protest against the Dutch government.

Saturday 30th January 1796

A detachment from our Penang garrison has reduced the Dutch factory on the Perak River64 and captured 50 Dutchmen and some Malays. 28 cannon were seized.

This factory deals in Malay tin but the stock we expected as prize had been dispersed into the hinterland before our arrival.

Saturday 6th February 1796

Notice – Tenders invited for 81 stone-based gun platforms (same specifications as previous), 60 wooden platforms and 12 mortar platforms to mount on the stone base.

Saturday 6th February 1796

Six pattamar boats will be provided to operate an express service between Bombay and the ceded lands of Tippoo, commencing 1st March. One will leave every Saturday from here to the Cavai River at the northern boundary of Malabar. On the same day one will return from the Cavai River to Bombay.

The land postal service will be extended from Cannanore to Cavai to connect with Calicut etc.

Editor – a cruiser is to be sent north to Surat for the same purpose every quarter of the moon.

Saturday 6th February 1796

The invasion fleet to Capetown returned to Madras on 15th January.

Saturday 13th February 1796

An American ship captain at Bencoolen reports that at Batavia in December 1795 the Dutch governor fitted out 5 Indiamen as 50 gun warships to cruise against British ships.

The squadron is commanded by the frigate captain who brought out the new Dutch Commissioners.

The American captain was unaware of the Chinese riots which were reported earlier. They are accordingly supposed to have ended.

Saturday 13th February 1796

Maratha merchants are again sending goods to our market. Trade is the only connection we have with the Marathas. Nana Furnavese has acquiesced to Ragoba’s eldest son assuming the leadership of the Marathas.

Saturday 20th February 1796

Capt Michael Symes’ negotiations with the Burmese Court at Ava have resulted in a reduction of the fees payable at Pegu. A Government report from Calcutta dated 17th January says new commercial regulations have been issued as follows:

  • British merchants may go anywhere in the country to trade their own goods and buy Burmese goods.
  • They are forbidden to export bullion.
  • On paying import duty at the port of arrival, the goods are certificated and can be sent anywhere (with the certificate) without further inland charges.
  • The 17 customs stations between Rangoon and Umarapora will no longer collect additional fees on British goods.
  • Timber may be brought anywhere and attracts a 5% export duty on arrival at Rangoon prior to export.
  • Complaints may be made by petition to provincial governors or to the King.
  • The former custom of collecting Rangoon port dues in fine silver is discontinued. Rangoon silver (a 75% alloy) will in future be used.
  • All legal charges on trade will be published in a comprehensive tariff.

The Governor-General cautions interested traders that this order of the King rescinds long-standing surcharges and may not instantly be followed by his officers far from Ava who may become obstructive and cause delay. Traders may have to prudently persevere to obtain their rights under this agreement.

Saturday 20th February 1796

The Company has surrendered so many ships for Government service, that it will have to charter 10,000 tons from London, Bristol and Liverpool for its own trade. It has agreed to pay the owners £18 per ton out and home. At August 1795 it had booked over 5,000 tons.

Saturday 27th February 1796

The Carmelite priest Paullini was a missionary in Malabar and is now professor of oriental languages at the college of the Propaganda Fide. He provided the Company with translations of Malabari documents and has researched the religion and literature of the Hindus.

He has now published a book in Rome on the mythology and religious rites of Hinduism. An edited extract appears in the newspaper but is not reproduced here.

Saturday 5th March 1796

On Wednesday the Fly sailed to Suez with the Company’s dispatches for London via Cairo and Alexandria.

(This is an alternative route and should be quicker than the former route via Basra, Baghdad and Aleppo.)

Saturday 5th March 1796

The American ship Camilla (Service) will depart after a three week stay at Calcutta to discharge and load. She is an astonishingly fast ship and will probably reach the Downs before end July. That will be a round trip of nine months – it’s a good opportunity to send letters.

Saturday 5th March 1796

The French General de Boigne,65 who commands a unit of 600 Maratha cavalry, is moving his force (plus camels and elephants) to Lucknow where he is expected to stay for some time.

His cavalry are uniformed and smartly disciplined. Each man has a pair of pistols, a gun and a sword.

Saturday 5th March 1796

Two cautionary tales:

M le Vaissoo, commandant of the troops of the Begum Sumroo (Samru), became so infatuated with his Queen that he married her.66

He was appointed her Minister and dismissed all her old advisers. They responded by seizing the Begum’s son and threatened to kill him if he (the son) did not usurp the throne.

Le Vaissoo set off with his wife and 3 companies of sepoys to intervene. He had not gone far when his force was surrounded by a larger force commanded by the Begum’s son in person. When the Begum heard, she cut herself and announced she had committed suicide. Le Vaissoo was convinced and was so distressed by her act that he shot and killed himself.

The Begum however miraculously recovered and, after a brief imprisonment by her son, has now resumed her government with the old ministers.

And another:

Miller, a Hanoverian man (British army officer on half-pay) in the service of the Nizam of Hyderabad, has been murdered by M Martin, a Frenchman in the same service who was formerly attached to the French factory at Pondicherry.

Miller was sent off with a detachment of the Nizam’s army to subdue rebellious Polygars. All the units of the Nizam’s army were required to contribute men to the detachment, including M Martin’s unit. Martin believed he was better fitted to command the detachment and objected to Miller’s appointment. He took a party of sepoys to Miller’s house and killed him.

Martin has been sent to Madras for trial.

Saturday 19th March 1796

M/s Dring, Gordon & Lushington is the name of the business through which Director and sometime Chairman Stephen Lushington conducts his personal trade with India.

Saturday 26th March 1796

Subscribers invited 26th March – Greenway, publisher of the Bombay Courier, is investing in a new newspaper at Calcutta to be called the Telegraph. Anyone wishing to obtain shares in the venture should get in touch.

Saturday 26th March 1796

The Company’s Resident at Bushire reports a French squadron has been seen at Muscat and is cruising near the Straits of Hormuz. This has interrupted our overland communication and letters from Basra are unavailable. It may explain why the Red Sea route has been preferred for recent overland communications.

1 Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine, is a most attractive British lawyer in my opinion. Having seen plenty of the world before settling down to practice, he had a fine understanding of what was really happening. A very readable biography of him and his times was published in 1947 – ‘For the Defense‘ by the American lawyer Lloyd Paul Stryker – which will assist the perplexed in accessing this contentious period of history. Another biography was published in 1996 by John Hostettler.

2 With the decline of the Mughal Raj it had appeared that the Marathas and their associated groups would assume the government of India but this was frustrated by the Company.

3 Conceivably, a reference to the annual assessment of land tax that Cornwallis replaced with a new assessment valid ten years which, if workable, was to become perpetual, however, ten years is too short a period to encourage investment.

Hence this reference is more likely to Cornwallis’ replacement of the Zemindary system of collective ownership of land that had been generally fair to the ryot (similar to the land stakes claimed by gold prospectors in California and Australia or to the British system prior to enclosure or the African system of communal ownership by a tribe) with a new system whereby a person purported to buy and ‘own’ the land, supported by law. The ryot had access to the land only on that owner’s terms. See “India: Transition to Colonial Capitalism” by Hamza Alavi, 1982 for the full argument.

4 A beautiful review of the Kirkpatrick brothers’ residence in India ‘White Mughals’ has been published by William Dalrymple in 2002. It incidentally traces the causes of British repudiation of consensual policies in India and the rise of British exclusiveness under Wellesley.

5 Lord Macclesfield was Thomas Parker of Staffordshire. He was briefly King of England about three centuries ago but was then convicted of corruption and gaoled until death. Henry Sacheverell was a Tory clergyman who made political sermons against the Whigs in 1709 which caused riots leading a change of government. He was intolerant of non-conformists and enjoyed great popularity.

6 Harry Verelst enjoyed the reputation of the one honest man in British India. As Governor of Bengal in 1770 he dismissed several venal officials. That turned his civil service against him and he had to instantly resign. He was pursued by the employees for compensation in England and spent his savings defending himself. He published View of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the English Government in Bengal in exoneration and then emigrated to France where he lived-out his remaining years.

7 Brown became a successful pepper farmer in 1808 after the cession of Malabar to the India Company following Tippoo’s defeat.

8 Mining and sale of saltpetre, potassium nitrate, was at all times a Company monopoly. It was used both for preserving foods and in gunpowder.

9 Breadfruit is said by some to have a similar taste to bread after cooking. It is eaten fresh or fermented for storage. Its external appearance is like a small jackfruit.

10 A small ship armed with swivels and propelled by both sails and oars.

11 Also called Port Cornwallis then but now known as Old Harbour

12 Surat is in the Gulf of Cambay near the mouth of the Tapti River and was at this time jointly administered by the Company and the Marathas. It contains a British trading station that buys mainly cotton from the Maratha hinterland. The crop is brought down the river and trans-shipped to Bombay for export. The trade is largely in Parsee hands. Bombay became the export centre for a heavy denim-like short-staple cotton cloth from Surat whilst Bengal focused on the production of fine muslins.

13 Frankincense is an aromatic resinous solid from Yemen that is burned in Christian services.

14 One of the few licensed country ships on the China route. The Lowjee Family belongs to the Wadia family – Parsee trading and ship-building descendants of Lowjee Nasservanjee, known through successive generations of this period as Rustomjee, Cursetjee, Framjee, Bomanjee, Jamsetjee, et al.

15 The Company had the local prince pay for protection in this way whilst the detached officers all stipulated that they would serve the local ruler but would not fight against British troops. A substantial part of the Company’s income derived from sale of protection to native princes and to Asia generally.

16 This is the trade in sea otter pelts which were always in demand at Canton.

17 Foreign business in Burma was done mostly in the river at Pegu at this time. It is a source of teak and has a vibrant ship-building industry. The business later moved to Rangoon. Pegu has been renamed Bagu.

18 The nature of the ships officers’ privileged tonnage to India was always declared to be of this type – provisions and luxuries for the expatriate British community.

19 This is the island north of the Andamans.

20 The Editor later corrects the move to the island of Graine. The Company has Residents throughout the Middle East since it assumed the diplomatic functions of the Levant Company. This is the route whereby the Directors presently communicate with India – ship to Syria, camel or horse to the Company’s Resident at Aleppo, thence down the Euphrates to Basra where a Company cruiser visits regularly. This route allows the Governor-General to receive European news a month before the French, Dutch and Danes in India who get theirs around the Cape. Its use enabled the Company to occupy the French Indian possessions at commencement of the Revolutionary War, before French residents knew of events in Paris. Anglo-French warfare in the Levant soon destabilised the Ottoman provinces and made this route insecure. It was then removed to Egypt where the Pasha was accommodating.

21 The Company is sovereign in India and issues its own Letters of Marque authorising ship-owners to arm approved vessels and distress British enemies. The ship-owner, officers and crew all partake of the value of ships and cargoes seized however the Company claims an over-riding 50% of prizes. At this time there was no Admiralty Court in British India.

22 The Company’s factory at Mocha buys mainly coffee for London, occasionally frankincense and myrrh. The East India Company long enjoyed a monopoly on the supply of coffee to the west. All these products come from Yemen and were the source of that country’s former fabulous wealth when it had been known to the Romans as Arabia Felix. They were shipped, sometimes in Arab dhows, to Bombay for consolidation with Chinese / Indian exports on the annual fleet to England.

23 See Nathan Katz’s ‘Who are the Jews of India,’ 2000, for a scholarly and readable account of the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israel and Baghdadi Jews.

24 The ‘interested parties’ mentioned must be the Agents who monopolise the officers’ private tonnage. This suggests Agency connections were not ad hoc but long-standing, perhaps contractual, arrangements.

25 The Sicca Rupee was minted in 1792 and was worth about 11% more than the Current Rupee.

26 A violent wind from the south west bringing heavy rain.

27 By John Bruce. It was most recently republished as a text book in 2010.

28 The Zamorins were Nairs. They ruled Calicut and its environs.

29 Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company, hereafter VOC.

30 A meana is a small litter suspended under a single bamboo, by which it is borne, shaded by a cloth-covered frame. The passenger is carried in a recumbent posture.

31 The bark of the Mexican Lilac tree (Saranga in Bengali) is poisonous.

32 There is considerable emulation of Rome in British military and colonial administration. Every British schoolboy is tutored in Roman history.

33 With Tippoo crushed, the Nizam and Peshwa should come into line, leaving only the northern and western areas of India beyond the Company’s control.

34 See the Europe chapter for this speculative disaster. It required public money to resolve.

35 Serjeant refers to a senior Barrister of at least 16 years experience. Serjeants were the sole source of Judges to the British Judiciary. The rank seems to have been too independent and was replaced at this time by King’s Counsel, probably to bring barristers more fully under the influence of the Lord Chancellor.

36 Robert Hobart is Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He later becomes Governor of Madras and then 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire.

37 The large boats may be 25 – 30 metres long with a shorter parallel hull for stability. Its distinctive feature is it may be sailed forwards or backwards, as when tacking, in which latter case the crew all turn round. It may be rowed or sailed.

38 “The Downs” is the anchorage in the Thames estuary on the north Kent coast.

39 The name of a state on the Coromandel coast made infamous by its Zemindar, who accepted loans from the Madras Agency Houses secured on the lands he owned. By the addition of compound interest, these loans amounted to £30 millions when they were later presented to the British government at the time the Company dispossessed the Zemindar (when its trade monopoly was determined). Over £27 million was taxed-off by assessors and an Act of Parliament settled the balance of private debts with public funds in 1834.

40 These onerous debts to Armenian and British loan sharks in Madras were a significant cause of the Wars with Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sultan.

41 This is the first and incorrect report of his death.

42 Chinsura or Chinsurah was a Dutch possession up-river from Calcutta which did some Bills business.

43 See the Europe chapter for details of this alleged mutiny and its effects.

44 Bad for shoulders. The recoil is such that the weapon has to be fired from the hip.

45 A barrel of about 92 gallons

46 Ava was frequently the capital of the principal state of Burma until 1841. The city was sited on the Irrawaddy River near the main ruby mines. It was a Theravada Buddhist state. The reference to a Hindu Brahmin seems incorrect.

47 Symes returns to Burma repeatedly over the coming years and becomes the Company’s expert on the country.

48 Company information of this dispute comes from officers seconded to both the Maratha chiefs Sindhia and Holkar and to the Nizam.

49 In the next edition, the Nizam is said to have fled so quickly he lost 34 x 24 pounders and 150+ of 9 pounders plus all his grain, ammunition and military stores. He is now dependent on the Marathas for food and water. Dalrymple’s ‘White Mughals’ gives the explanation for this reverse.

50 See the Europe chapter for a brief discussion on the questionable British objection to ‘equality.’

51 The baling press is steam-powered and its introduction heralds a period of spontaneous cotton combustion at Bombay and on Bombay ships until suppliers provide dry fibre. This was a period of continual mechanisation of cotton industry. The Company’s concern, as a trading Company, was to maximise shipments by sea.

52 Lawyers have become somewhat suspect, particularly to merchants and the ministry, for holding liberal views and for generally supporting parliamentary reform which is the platform of the legal opposition to Pitt through the liberal Whigs and the Constitutional Societies.

53 This can no longer be effective. Apart from the nominee investment services of the Agency Houses in each Presidency, there are Dutch, Danish and French bases soliciting gold and silver for Bills of Exchange whereby Company employee can discreetly amass funds in Paris, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. See an article dated 16th July 1803 in the Economy chapter wherein Wm Lushington MP, Elijah Impey and other ex India Company servants are shown as major investors in French funds.

54 The complaints are on rank, promotion prospects and remuneration. The Indian army officers want parity with the British army. They say the Company is always at war somewhere in India and they get plenty of experience – they are not sinecure holders. The Indian army structure makes an officer responsible for more troops than the English army. Since the war with France began, the pace of promotion in India has been slower than England, and the equivalent ranks are lower. When Indian officers transfer to English regiments they are placed below the English officers of the same rank and thus prejudiced for promotion. Their experience in India is ignored. India is unhealthy and the risks of sudden death enhanced.

English officers are paid in Sterling; Company officers in Rupees. The latter has diminished in value faster than the former e.g. an English captain gets 10/- a day and an Indian captain 4 rupees which was formerly equivalent but is now worth only 8/8d and it is noted that the Governor-General, his council members and the Judges are all paid in Sterling. On the other hand, the Indian army gets batta which His Majesty’s regiments do not.

Also note that employees combining for better terms of employment is an offence in Britain at this time.

55 This may be a reference to the de Meuron regiment which was incorporated in the Company’s Madras Army after the British occupation of Ceylon. After the Great War it appears in Canada.

56 Company strategic thinking assesses Ceylon as one of the many ‘keys to India’. It has the enhanced defensive security of an island but is large enough to provision great armies. It additionally has the superb port of Trincomalee.

It thus comprises a good place from which to invade India or, if one is expelled from India, to retreat to in time of difficulty.

57 The Nabob of Arcot is still Muhammed Ali Khan. His son Umdat-ul-Omrah will succeed him in October.

58 A form of patronage. Note a concurrent Letter to the Editor in the Europe chapter referring to child officers in the British Army – it mentions Lt Colonels under 18 years and Captains under 12 years of age.

59 A barrel with 418 litres capacity.

60 Taking on the ‘shipping interest’ is not something the Company can do itself.

61 It appears to have been the presence of the Company’s armed escort at Kathmandu to obtain this trade agreement that somewhat influenced the Chinese reception of Macartney at Peking – see the China chapter.

62 These Dutch surrenders are facilitated by the Stadtholder’s letter that the British ministry procured as part of the terms for providing a refuge to him in England. This calls upon his colonial Governors to surrender to the English. Their colonial accounts are collected in London (by the unfortunately named Bent MP) to permit an accounting to be made once the war is won.

63 The India Company is the King’s Company and its army is under His control. The Constitutional reference appears to be a reference to maintaining a standing army and becomes more clear when the Company becomes involved in making war outside India – Egypt, Philippines, Buenos Aires, Burma, Java, China, etc.

64 The Kedah tin supply is brought down this river for export.

65 Also known as Benoît Leborgne of Savoy.

66 A Begum is the wife of a Nabob (Nawab). The Frenchman is properly known as Armand Le Vasseur.

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