FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1634 (b): Travancore (famine possibly averted)|
|Documented causes: crop blight + war|
|Documented effects: "calamities"; taxes suspended|
|R. Sathianathaier, "Tamilaham In The 17th Century" (1956)|
|pp121-2: [A Royal edict from spring 1635, following an invasion of Travancore, with elisions, and clarifications in brackets, by the book's author] "Whereas it has been represented to us at our residence at Kalkulam by the nattars (ryots) between Mangalam and Manakudi ... that the country is smitten by calamities, having had no cultivation of the Kar (Kanni) crop of 810 and that as Pisanam (Kumbham) cultivation was not begun owing to the advent of Tirumal Nayakkar’s forces and as the crops raised … suffered by blight, the ryots have not the wherewithal to begin fresh cultivation, we are pleased to command on this the 22nd day of the month of Masi in 810 that the levying of ... (taxes) be given up and that this fact be duly notified to the ryots of the said places in the southern portion of Nanjinad North."|
|1634 (c) [and onward]: aftermath of the Great Famine|
|Documented causes: drought + war|
|Documented effects: collapse of industry|
|Public Record Office, "Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series. East Indies and Persia 1630-1634" (=vol. 8, 1892)|
|p518 (summary of letter from Capt. Richard Allnutt (aboard the Palsgrave at Swally [near Surat]) to the Company in London, 31 Jan 1634): "Heard from brokers they complied with the Governor to buy all the indigo in the country at a certain price, with proviso that the English might have none; whereupon the King, at the Governor's solicitation, took that trade into his own hand, so that all merchants must take it at a certain price, and pay for it a year beforehand, and then take all such trash as he should put upon them. To which President Hopkins[on] had yielded before his death, but Methwold has opposed it. It would have ruinated the country where it grows, for the manurers could not subsist, and many of them were forced to leave the country, on which the King let the same to farm to one of his noblemen, on the terms that in case the Dutch and English should forbear to buy at his price for two or three years together, the King should bear the loss himself; what the event will be God knows, but what with the King's miserableness, the Governor's baseness, and the Dutch cunning circumventing projects, there is nothing to be expected here at present but a great charge to little purpose, unless the trade grow better when the country is more populated. At present the Portugals' forces are not much to be feared, by reason of their poverty and a great mortality which has befallen them in Goa and other places of India since the famine, by reason whereof they have a great desire to have a fair quarter and peace with the English in India as in Europe. If their heart means what their tongue expresses, 'twere better for them and for the Company's affairs, for they cannot long submit from the force of the Dutch, who come yearly to these parts with 10 to 14 ships, so that the poor Portugals cannot go out of any of their ports but the Dutch take them …"|
p582 (summary of letter from Thomas Joyce and Nathaniel Wyche (at Masulipatam) to the Company in London, 25 Oct 1634): ... "The cloths required for England, as long cloth, morees, perenlla, sallampoores, and ginghams, have been these 20 months so scarce and at such excessive prices, exceeding the former 50 to 100 per cent., as last year they durst hardly meddle therewith, fear they will not be able to supply the Jewel for Bantam with half what is listed. Presume Mr. Norris, if arrived, has shown a reason of this dearth's beginning, which was an extraordinary drought for a whole year, that doubled the price of cotton wool, next year fell such abundance of rain as spoilt great part of the corn and most of the cotton wool, bringing the price to full 12d the English lb.; this year has proved very temperate with great signs of a plentiful harvest in March or April, hope it will bring cotton and cloth to the easy prices formerly sold at. Two of the three Factors sent on the Swan, Bannister and Litler, continued in her to Bangala, where the first died, and then the other shortly after his arrival …"
|Sir William Foster (ed.) "The English Factories in India: 1634 - 1636" (1911)|
|p64: [letter from President Methwold & collleagues (off Swally) to the Company in London, 29 Dec 1634] ... "the scarcity and consequently the deareness of cotton wooll, which we conceive doth cheifely arise from the great price which all sorts of graine hath yeilded for some forepast yeares, which hath undoubtedly disposed of the country people to those courses which hath bene most profitable for them, and so discontinued the planting of cotton, which could not have bene vented in proporcion of former tymes, because the artificers and mechaniques of all sorts were so miserably dead or fledd from all parts of the kingdome of Guzeratt ; which is the second cause that hath occasioned this great stand in the callico trade, and cannot be so restored to its pristine estate as that we may hope to see it in it's former lustre for many yeares to come (we conceive for five yeares at least). Yet the plenty of this presente yeare diffused generally through all the vast parts of this kingdome, occasioned by the seasonable raines which have falne universally, in a more fruitfull proporcion upwards into the countrey then hereabouts Suratt, which is somewhat a hotter clymate and requires therefore more abundantly the latter rayne, doth summon downe againe those fugitives which famine forced from their owne habitations ; and we are eye-witnesses of a much greater concourse of people frequenting the citties. The villages fill but slowly, yet it betters with them also; and if the excessive tiranny and covetuousness of the governors of all sorts would give the poore people leave but to lift up their heads in one yeares vacancye from oppression, they would be enabled to keepe cattle about them, and so to advance the plenty which the earth produceth that all things would be much more abundant, and there would be no want but of tyme to make the children capable to exercise the functions of their fathers, whereunto the custome of this countrey doth necessarily oblige them."|
|VOC, "Dagh-register Behouden Int Casteel Batavia ... Anno 1631-1634" (1898)|
|p368 (report of 16 Aug 1634): "Ten aensien vanden onprofitjelijcken Indostanen handel veroorsaeckt door des Coninex monopolie inded indigo ende de dierte der cleden, hebben haere Ed. goetgevonden ende geresolveert, omme haeren olije, arbeijt, middelen ende industrie niet te vergeefs aen te leggen, alle de Industanse comptoiren (uijtgesondert alleen Suratte) vandaer te lichten …"|
p444 (4 Dec 1634, report from the Coromandel coast dated 20 Sep): [state of the indigo trade] "… maer is apparent dat het inde eerste twee jaeren niet veel en sal beschieten alsoo de anijl bouwers meest gestorven ende de landen lange onbebouwt hebben gelegen."
|T. Raychaudhuri & I. Habib (eds.) "The Cambridge Economic History of India" (vol. 1, 1982)|
|pp224-5: "The Gujarat famine of 1630-2, caused a lasting dislocation to the economy of the region. The villages were utterly depopulated; and when they began to 'fill but slowly' late in 1634, the peasants who had survived abandoned cotton cultivation for food crops. The marks of the famine were visible in 1638-9; and even by 1647 agriculture in Gujarat had not fully recovered, since the revenues of the province had not yet reached the level attained before the famine."|
|Adam Olearius & J.A. de Mandelslo, "The Travels of John Albert de Mandelslo … into the East-Indies" (translation, 2nd. ed., 1669)|
|p16: [based on a visit in 1638] "… the province of Gusuratta … comprehends above twenty thousand Cities, Towns, and inhabited Villages, besides the places which were laid desolate some years since by War or Famine. ...|
There is no Province in all the Indies more fertile then Gusuratta, nor any that affords more Fruits and Provisions, which grow in such abundance here, that all the neighbouring Provinces are thence suppli'd: 'Tis true indeed that in the year 1640 [sic, for 1630] the great drought, and the year following, the continual rains reduced it to so deplorable a condition, that the particular account might be given thereof would deprive the Reader of the diversion, which it is our design to find him in this relation. But the Province hath since that time well recover'd it self of that desolation, yet not so as but the marks of it may be seen every where."