FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1669 (a) [to 1670]: Bombay area|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: influx of beggars; prohibition of grain hoarding and export; public health problems|
|"The English Factories in India: 1668-1669" (1927)|
|p217: [Discussion of the problems of the local 'Corumbine" peasants, Bombay consultation, 9 Feb 1669] "... bound by their tenure to take, occupy, and manure [i. e. cultivate] certeine peices of land of this island and to pay soe many morais of batty yearely to the Company, they owing for the yeare passed 29 morais, which, for the scarcity of raine, they pretend themselves unable to pay, should bee therefore favoured, according as the matereses [Footnote: "Mr Edwardes identifies this word with the Marathi mhataras, 'elders of the community' ..."] should judge; which was thought reasonable and just, being that the said matereses are sworne to bee impartiall in their valuations."|
|"The English Factories in India (The Western Presidency): 1670-1677" (1936)|
|p15: [Editor's summary of events around Bombay, in 1670] "Another source of disquiet was the 'daily resort to the Island of a company of idle sturdy beggars …'|
This influx of beggars was probably due to the scarcity of grain, as to which [Deputy Governor] Gray reported in April: 'rice is scarce and dear, being risen to 15 zeraphins the more. Those who have it, hoord it up, by reason none is brought from the Maine. In June the hoarding had forced the Council
'to make a general search and take an account what every man had in his house, enjoining them to sell rice at the rate of 15 zeraphines per mora, a price not overburdensome to the poor, and equally profitable to the seller, yet they will be obstinate and sometimes bring none to the markett . . . . That which troubles us most is the thoughts wee have that there is not enough on this Island to susteine it three months, and of wheat there is very little, yet we fine it will be neither generosity nor policy to drive these people off the Island, who are fled hither from the armes of Sevagee [=Sivaji, founder of the Maratha kingdom] for refuge.' [Bombay letters, 11 June]
The export of grain was also prohibited, but in October [Gray's successor Philip] Giffard, at the solicitation of the chief inhabitants, when they came to make the customary congratulations to the new Deputy Governor, withdrew the order prohibiting the selling of rice at above 15 zeraphins a mora, and issued a proclamation allowing import of any quantity and its sale at what it could fetch in the market, with a view to encourage its import from the mainland, and in hope of getting it as cheap or cheaper than when the price was limited. This course was approved by the Council at Surat.
In addition to this difficulty, there was considerable sickness and mortality among the European community attributed largely to the late monsoon. …"