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1646 (a) [to 1647]: Coromandel Coast to Madurai1646 map
Documented causes: drought + war
Documented effects: heavy mortality; voluntary slavery; cannibalism

Markus Vink, "Encounters on the Opposite Coast: The Dutch East India Company and the Nayaka State of Madurai in the Seventeenth Century" (2015)
p289: "Coromandel remained the centre of a spasmodic slave trade throughout the seventeenth century. In various short-lived booms, accompanying natural and human-induced calamities, the Dutch exported thousands of slaves from the east coast of India.
... the first short-lived boom in the Coromandel exports of slaves during our period occurred during the famine in the wake of the revolt of the Southern Nayakas against Vijayanagara overlordship (1645) and the subsequent devastation of the Tanjore countryside by the Bijapur army." …
Asta Bredsdorff, "Willem Leyels liv og farefulde rejse til Indien" (1999)
p164: "Den 3. september 1646 er 'Christianshavn' tilbage i Tranquebar. Her er der atter en voldsom hungersnød. Prisen på ris er steger til det 28-dobbelte, og hundrede tusinder dor eller sælger sig som slaver. Ganske vist er der nu kommet regn, or risen står godt; men landet er stort set folketomt, og der er alt for få folk til at høste. For at skaffe ris sendet Leyel 'Fortuna' og 'Valby' til Ceylon, hvor kongen af Candy skaffede dem, hvad de behøvede. 'Valby' nåede i god behold tilbage til Tranquebar, inden monsunen begyndte."
"Foreningen Trankebar" website: 1639-55 [ http://www.foreningen-trankebar.dk/402582377 ] [slight variation on the above]
"1646 ... 3 Sep. ... tilbage i Trankebar. Der er igen hungersnød Prisen på ris er steget til det 28 dobbelte. Hundrede tusind dør og for at overlev sælger forældrene deres børn som slaver."
Dr. B.V. Narayanshwami Naidu, "Famines in the City of Madras" (in "The Madras Tercentenary Commemoration Volume", 1939)
pp73-5: "The first famine that visited the city of Madras was in 1646, i.e. 7 years after its foundation. It commenced in September of that year. By the beginning of 1647, 'there hath dyed no less than 3000 people out of our little towne.' In the Portuguese colony of San Thome the mortality was reckoned at the incredible figure of 15,000, 'soe that all the painters and weavers are dead.' The ravages of famine were aggravated by war. 'The body of this kingdom was harried by two forreigne nations,' the Muhammadan powers of Golconda and Bijapur, both striving to 'make a prey of this miserable and distracted people.' In five months time 4000 out of an estimated population of 19,000 perished in the English territory alone. There was not 'above 1/3 of the weavers, painters and washers livinge of what were formerly.' Twentyfive English soldiers at the Fort fell a victim to it and about five were continuously sick 'with the miseries of the time.'
The calamity shook the very foundations of the social fabric. At San Thome many wives deserted their husbands and took refuge in the Fort St. George where relief was available. Slaves fled from their masters. These incidents fanned the flame of hatred already smouldering between the Portuguese and the English. A quarrel ensued and it was not till the famine had run its course that peace was concluded, wives restored and slaves returned. Men offered themselves as slaves to escape from the clutches of death. A brisk trade in export of slaves sprang up which the European powers turned to the best advantage.
The suffering of the English settlers was also great. The Fort ran short of food supply. No meat was available and rice and water had become the sole source of sustenance of the Europeans. The Council pathetically appealed to the factory at Masulipatam for an early consignment of 100 hogs or pigs. Finding that Masulipatam turned a deaf ear to their prayers, they proceeded to detail their woes to Surat."
'We have not, nor is there anything to be bought, to relieve any sick person, unless he will eate carrion beife which wee procure out of the Moores Campp, which we obtain by much favour. This is our missery; yet our friends at Masulipatam will not be sencible of this; notwithstanding our many and earnest requests to them to send us some provissions from thence to relieve us; and wee are now driven to that pass that we are forced to go to lowance of rice, and are not able to subsist longer that 5 or 8 daies. Our wants are such that we are ashamed to make it knowne. Wee also intreat you to send us tentie baggs of wheate for our howse expence.'
Surat rendered timely aid. On 18th April 1687 [misprint for 1647] the factory there despatched the vessels, Endeavour and Francis 'full laden with rice.' They arrived 'very seasonably' and 'to the great relief' at Fort St. George on the 22nd of the following month. The vessels were then sent to Armgaon 'and a little to the northward thereof' to fetch rice.
The famine had a very depressing effect on the Company's trade. It led to a decline in investments of chintz and other cotton goods which had become 'very deare and scarce …... The reason is multitude of buyers, scarcity of weavers and painters and ruine of the country by war and famine.' The price of cloths rose by 15 percent; but little could be procured even at those prices. Contracts for supply of cotton goods to Pegu became difficult to fulfil. Import trade was also adversely affected. European goods were 'quite unvendible' at the Madras port. The consignment of coral from Bantam could not be disposed of as usual. The Swally Marine Factory hesitated to furnish the Madras agents with the usual money for investment purposes. However it speaks a volume for the enterprising zeal of the early servants of the Company at Madras to note that they 'managed to provide for Europe a stock of excellent cloth, though at somewhat dear rates, as it was well bought at Madraspatam, where the famine has raised prices considerably.'
The shrewdness of the Madras agents is evident from a further fact. Trade in textiles having proved precarious, they turned to advantage the import trade in rice. They knew, 'no question but the rice will yeald cent percent proffitt.' And it did yield. The Company thus combined profit with philanthropy. The Surat imports enabled a large number of artisans who produced for the Company to live on; and the surplus went to relieve a large number of Indian residents. Supplies also came from inland parts forced by the 'dear time and by reason of Robbers.' Mr. Thomas Ivy, the Agent directed that a third part of this supply 'bee distributed to the Townes people.'
By 1648, the famine had run its course. As early as January of that year Ivy could write with a sigh of relief 'The Warrs doth yet continue in these parts; butt (God bee thanked) the famine is much abated. But the fear of its recurrence revived in September of that year; and as a precautionary measure it was decided to fill the Blessing with rice on her return from Persia and dispatch her to Madras. These fears were short lived. By April 1649 they were set at rest and the project of importing rice by the Blessing was abandoned."
"The English Factories in India: 1646 - 1650" (1914)
p1: [President Breton and colleagues (at Swally Marine) to the EIC, 3 Jan 1646] ... "notwithstanding we must acknowledg the country to be in a much happier condition then when the Agra investments were first set on foot, yet it doth not, nor will in many years, so abound as before the famine, when in Broach 40 or 50 corge of broad and narrow baftaes were procured daily, wheras at present so many peeces without trouble cannot be acquired."

p54: [Maximilian Bowman (at Colombo) to the President and Council at Surat, 26 Nov 1646] ... "'This day arrived a small vessell from Santomay [Saõ Tomé] with certaine Portugall merchants belonging to this citty, whom report that there is an extraordinary dearth in Santomay off all provissions, that a candy off rice is there worth 200 zerapheens, and all other eatable comodities accordingly scarse; which dearth hath caused many women to leave their husbands and families to runn to the English in Madraspatam for releife; which hath occasioned notable quarrells betweene the English and Portugalls there. The Moores haveing beseeged Santomay with 8,000 foott and 3,000 horse, the English, the Companies servants, tooke an occasion to assist the Moores in their assault against Santomay, where 14 English with many Moores lost their lifes in attempt. But a new Generall being sent thether from Goa, the matter was taken up betweene the English and Portugalls and made freinds; but the citty is still beseeched by the Moores."
[Although this implies that the famine is the result of the siege, a Footnote quotes another letter, from Achin, 26 Oct 1646, reporting the arrival there, 15 days earlier, of a Portuguese vessel from Negapatam, some 300km south of Saõ Tomé: "Ther came uppon this smale vessell uppward of 400 slaves, soe hunger starved that they were scarce able to crawle when they brought them ashoare, and are now sould for 5 and 6 tale per heade, wheras at other tymes the yeeld 10 and 12 tale. They report a very Strang famine to have been for 13 months past, and yett doth continue in those parts, insoemuch as the people give themselves for slaves to any man that will but feede them, all kinds of provisions, especially graine, beeing att excessive rates."]

p70 (report from Fort St. George staff to President & Council at Surat, 4 Jan 1647): [Despite apparent official action by the Viceroy at Goa] "...the Portugalls of St. Thome doe still continue and predominate more and more in their insolencie, without givinge any satisfaction for theire affronts formerly and goods which they have taken away from our inhabitants, but hath since, with the assistance of a great number rogues which are gott into St. Thome for feare of the Moores, which rogues the Portugalls doe protect and live by the pillage which is brought into St. Thome by these theeves in these times of warre, where the country is without government or justice; soe that they stoppd the passage of our towne that nothing could goe in or out. Soe that wee were forced to draw part of the Moores army unto us to open the wayes, who presently uppon view of our letters came readily and willing with 700 horsemen and as many foote men to assist us; uppon which the rouges rann all into St. Thome. ..." [A deputation subseqently came from St. Thome to apologise and promise better behaviour in future, but:] "There is nothing will curbe these insolent people but force. Wee cannot expect any quietnes with St. Thome."
"The warres and fammine doth still furiously rage in these parts, and wee thinke that there wilbe a period sett unto the former before the latter, for the Anna Bobb [Footnote: Al-Nawab] Meir Jumlah hath taken the government of Pullicatte and St. Thome, setting the cuntry all in order as he goeth along, and is now within two dayes martch of the Kings court and noe body commeth to oppose him, the fammine havinge almost destroyed all the kindome, for out of our little towne there hath dyed noe less then 3,000 people since September last; in Pullicatte, as report saith, 15,000, and in St. Thome no less. Soe that all the pramiters [Footnote: "A copyist's error for 'painters' "] and weavers are dead, soe that there cannot bee expected any quantitye of cloth to bee procured here this three yeares."
Henry Davidson Love "Vestiges of Old Madras, 1640-1800" (vol. 1, 1913)
p74: [4 Jan 1646/7] Fort St. George to Masulipatam. ... "wee have sufficiently communicated our desires and necessities unto you, of which wee desire you to take Especiall notice, and to comply with our requirie in Every particuler thereof. Moreover we likewise desire you, if possible to be procured, to send us per the Seaflower 100 good Hogs or Pigs, for here is not any provisions of fflesh to be gott for money; so that if you Supply us not from Messulipatam by all Conveighances, as our drinke is only water, so must our Dyett be only rice. To this miserable Pass are wee and this country brought unto." ... (O.C., No. 2015)
"The English Factories in India: 1646 - 1650" (1914)
p74: [Fort St. George (Madras) to the President and Council at Surat, 21 Jan 1647] "The famine is so great in this kingdome that wee beleive it will bee the destruction thereof. For there hath not fallen any rayne this yeare for the increase of any graine to releive the people, and now the season of the raynes are past ; so that, if the Allmighty doe not send supply from other parts, the country will be so dispopulated that it will bee unpossible to recover it selfe againe in five yeares time. Therefore we earnestly beseech yow to send us by the shipping yow intend hither in Aprill or May next, 100 or two 2 tunns ordinary rice to preserve the lives of those few painters, weavers, and washers which remaine aboute us; by which meanes wee shall bee the better able to comply with yow in the Pegu investment. And no question but the rice will yeald cent, per cent, proffitt; for tis worth here at present two rials of eight the hundred pound weight, and by May or June next no question but it will yeald halfe as much more. Likewise we would intreate yow to supply us with tenn Englishmen to serve here as soldyers, for mortallity and the Moores campp hath taken all away to 25 persons, whereof four or five are continually sick with the misserie of the times; for we have not, nor is here any thing to bee bought, to relive any sick person, unless hee will eate carryon beife, which wee procure out of the Moores campp, which we obtaine by much favour. This is our missery ; yet our freinds at Messulapatam will not bee sencible of this, notwithstanding our many and earnest requests unto them to send us some provissions from thence to releive us; and wee are now driven to that pass that we are forced to goe to lowance of rice, and are not able to subsist longer then 5 or 8 daies. Our wants are such that we are ashamd to make it knowne. Wee allso intreat yow to send us twentie baggs of wheate for our howse expence."

p114: [President Breton & colleague (at Swally Marine) to the EIC, 31 Mar 1647; with editor's simplifications] ...Learning, by letters from the Coast "what a miserable condicion Madraspatam and that whole cuntry are declined unto through warr and famine, and how much your Agent &c. suffer," they have decided to send the Francis thither instead of to Bantam, hoping that "shee will not only doe them very good servis in supplyeing them with provissions, but may happily awe the Portuges, their neighbors, unto better abearances; betwixt whome you will finde there have beene some late differences, which also the Viceroy hath signified unto us, with some complaints of our people, very earnestly desiring they may bee reconsiled ; which wee doubt not facilly to effect, and indeede wee sumthing wonder how it comes to passe they should continue so to differ, wee in these partes maintaning as faire a corrispondency with the Vicroy and that whole nacion, and receave as much respect from them, as wee can expect or desire."

pp163-5: [Fort St. George to the EIC, 9 Oct 1647; with editor's simplifications] ... Cannot dispose of the coral, owing to war and a cruel famine which has now lasted two years. Half the people in this kingdom are dead. No goods will sell, except a little broadcloth for the use of the soldiers. "How violent the famine hath bine here tis not to bee credited, for out of the towne of Madraspatam died in five months time 4,000 people; out of Pullicatte 15,000 in as little tyme ; and out of St. Th. [Saõ Tomé] no less then out of Pullicatte ; so that heere is not above 1/3 of the weavers, painters, and wasshers liveinge of what were formerly." This has made cloth 15 per cent, dearer than formerly, and little can be procured even at those prices; while European goods are quite unvendible. ...
On May 22 the Endeavour and Francis arrived from Surat with rice, to their great relief; both vessels were then sent to Armagon "and a litle to the northward thereof," to fetch rice for the relief of the inhabitants of Madraspatam, and the freight thus earned has defrayed the charges of both ships while on the Coast. On June 7 the Antelope came in from Gombroon, and two days later was sent on to Masulipatam with the money she brought, to be there invested for Persia. She was ordered to return at once to this place with a lading of rice; but the factors were unable in fifty days to procure more than a fourth of the quantity required, and at last time would not permit of the voyage being made before the date on which the vessel was to leave Masulipatam for Surat. On July 2 the Farewell anchored here, bringing the Company's letters and some treasure, "but not one dropp refreshing in this time of missery, when the least would have bine very acceptable and comfortable unto us, to have washed our heavie harts from the stench of the dead carcazees that lieth most fearefully to beehould in all places that wee goe, as well as the noise of the dyeing people, which can bee noe less terrours to the herers thereof." … [they add a sour joke about the market for coral, of which they had, some time ago, bought a large stock:] "as dead at present as the dead mens bones that lyeth about our towne" ...
Have managed to provide for Europe a stock of excellent cloth, though at somewhat dear rates, as it was all bought at Madraspatam, where the famine has raised prices considerably as compared with Masulipatam, which is outside the famine area. There are now only nine factors on the Coast ...
… now rice is much lower in price, owing to a quantity having recently arrived and to good rains having fallen.
Mrs C. Bhavani, "Economic History of Tamilnadu from AD 1600 to 1857" (PhD thesis, 2008) [ http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/jspui/bitstream/10603/139552/13/13_chapter%207.pdf ]
pp364-5: "The famine of 1646 was the unkindest of all the times. It is recorded that this year witnessed many gory scenes, which were never seen and heard before. It was due to the continuous failure of rain in the preceding years, the velocity of the famine was heavy. The death rate was so heavy that it was impossible to bury all the corpses fell victims to this famine. Those who lived were only moving corpses. To keep living, they started eating dogs and donkeys and other unclean animals.5 Some even went to the extent of appeasing their hunger by relying on the remnants of the human flesh from the dead corpses found in abundance at streets during this year.6" [Footnotes: 5) Leon Besse, Op.cit. (La Mission Du Madura), Vol.1, Trichy,1914,p.12.
6) Meersman, OFM, Op.cit (Achilles Meersman, OFM, "Notes on the Charitable Institutions the Portuguese Established in India", Indian Church History Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, Dec 1971, (pp. 95 – 106)), p.333.]
Henry Davidson Love "Vestiges of Old Madras, 1640-1800" (vol. 1, 1913)
p75: [9 Oct 1647] Fort St. George to the Honble. Company.
"How violent the famine hath bine here, 'tis not to bee Credited; for out of the Towne of Madraspatam died in five months tyme 4,000 per[sons]; out of Pullicatte 15,000 in as little tyme, and out of St. Th[ome] no less then out of Pullicatte. So that heere is not above one third of the Weavers, Painters and Wasshers livinge of what were formerly, which causeth cloth in these parts to bee 15 per cent dearer then formerly, and little or none at all to be procur'd. ...
Here hath (God bee thanked) fallen of late plentie of Rayne, beside 1,500 tonns Graine which hath arrived here in this few dayes, so that now Rice is cent per cent Cheaper then it was six weekes hence." ... (O.C., No. 2046)

p142: [retrospective, written cApr 1654 by two Brahmans: Venkata (Vincaty), the Company's merchant in Madras, and his brother Kanappa (Connapa), governor and magistrate of the town, in dispute with Thomas Ivie's successor as Company Agent in Madras, Henry Greenhill, who favoured Seshadri (Sesadra), Venkata's debt-ridden predecessor as Company merchant]
... "In the deare time and by reason of Robbers, the husbandmen hereabouts brought in their Paddy to this towne; and Mr. Ivie appointed a third part to bee distributed to the Townes people, our Father and Ninapa having the Adigarshipp and disposure of the graine. Sesadra and the Taliars brought severalls to complaine they were abused; and then Mr. Ivie intrusted Sesadra therewith, and made Surwa Raz Adigar, whoe togither, in the Paddy delivered them, are yet Debitors." ... (O.C., No. 2441, 4th April, 1654.)

p147: [as well as Greenhill, the local craftsmen made a joint response to the claims by the two Brahmans] ... "The ffamine caused many People to flock hither with Rice; and the Braminees made a great Parra [i.e. a fraudulently large measuring container], and measured the Graine (brought by severall men) by it into the Bancksall [warehouse]; and at Sale deliver'd it to the buyers in a small just parra. Which made the poore Owners of the Vessells cry out, This Port is Theeves port, saying they durst not come hither againe." ... (O.C., No. 2542, Anno 1654.)
"The English Factories in India: 1646 - 1650" (1914)
p215: [Fort St. George to "the Adventurers in the Fourth Joint Stock," 23 Sep 1648] ... the Dolphin sailed for Tegnapatam and Tranquebar, ... "The Seaflower also voiaged it to the two said ports, from whence shee returned the 10th current; both the ships haveing gathred up about 9,000 rials, cloth being very deare and scearse in those parts. The reason is multitude of buyers, scearcity of weavers and painters, and ruine of the country by war and famine ; which, haveing lately a litle refresht and recover'd itselfe by a respite from either, is like to bee involved againe in the same or not much better condition, for litle provizions hath arrived from abroad and the body of this kingdome is harried by two forreigne nations, who lye within two daies journey one of another with powerfull armies, watching all advantage upon each other, yet both strive to make a prey of this miserable and distracted or divided people. These are the Gulcandah and the Vizapoore [Bljapur] Moores, the latter of which hath brought in 8,000 freebooters, who receave noe pay but plunder what they can ; whose incursions, roberies, and devastacions hath brought a desolacion on a great part of the country round about, especially the three prime cloth ports, Tevenapatam, Porto Novo, and Pullacherey [Pondicherri], of which the two last are in a manner ruin'd, the other hardly preserveing itselfe in a poore condition with continueall presents."
Markus Vink, "Encounters on the Opposite Coast: The Dutch East India Company and the Nayaka State of Madurai in the Seventeenth Century" (2015)
p335: "In an apologia of October 1648 Governor Heussen admitted that he might have overextended Company resources somewhat and taken too many risks. However, Heussen vehemently defended his decision to establish the Company's trade in Gingee, Tanjore, and Madurai. ... These plans, Heussen averred 'to his great sadness and regret', had only been frustrated because of external causes out of his control, such as the chaotic administration and confused political conditions of the country, combined with dearth, famine, and starvation."

1646 (b) [to 1648]: Punjab
Documented causes: drought
Documented effects: heavy mortality; major official relief effort; Sikh charity

Banarsi Prasad Saksena, "History of Shahjahan of Dihli" (1958, from PhD thesis 1931)
p293: "In 1646, scanty rainfall caused a famine in the Panjab. By order of the Emperor ten kitchens for the distribution of cooked food were established in the province, and Sayyid Jalal was commissioned to distribute Rs. 10,000 among the poor and destitute. Sold children were ransomed by the government, and restored to their parents. In February 1647 Shahjahan sanctioned another thirty thousand rupees for relief measures in the Panjab." [Sources: Lahauri ('Abdul Hamid),"Padshahnama" (vol. 2, Bibliotheca Indica) p289 & p632; Muhammad Sadiq, "Shahjahan Nama" (British Museum ms Or. 174) f. 116]
Sikh Missionary College, "Brief History Of The Sikh Gurus" (undated, c2000)
p52: [Life of the seventh Sikh Guru, Har Rai] "Before breathing his last, on 3 March 1644, Guru Hargobind Ji entrusted the responsibility of leading the Sikhs to Guru Har Rai Ji who at that time was 14 years old. The Punjab was hit by a famine in 1646 starving people for three long years during which period many people died. Guru Har Rai followed his ancestors footsteps and provided relief to the people out of Dasvandh [voluntary tithe] amount. The population of Sikhs had increased manifold. Those living in other provinces who had enough for themselves and also to spare, contributed generously for the relief of the people in Punjab."

1646: Kashmir, misdated
Documented causes: n/a
Documented effects: n/a

Pandit Anand Koul, "Geography Of The Jammu And Kashmir State" (2nd ed., 1925)
p105: "Year: 1646 A.D. In whose time: Tarbiat Khan. Extent of damages caused: The autumn crops were spoiled causing a famine. Shah Jehan sent large quantities of grains from Gujrat, Multan and Lahore to be distributed among the famine-stricken"
[The mention of Tarbiat Khan suggests that this is a misdated reference to the 1642 famine]
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