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1687 (a) [ctd. from 1685 + on to 1689]: south-east India1687 map
Documented causes: drought + war
Documented effects: depopulation; migration; epidemics

Henry Davidson Love "Vestiges of Old Madras, 1640-1800" (vol. 3, 1913)
p558: APPENDIX VIII: MADRAS FAMINES [summary of the 1686-7 famine as experienced at Madras] Fac. Rec. F. St. G., vol. iv., 19 Aug. and 27 Dec., 1686. O.C., No. 5621, 29 Sept., 1687
Great famine. Relief given by Government and by public subscription. Governor Gyfford reported to Surat that 35,000 persons perished in Madras Town. This famine was experienced also in the Circars (P.C., vol. clxxxi., 8 Feb., 1793)
"Records of Fort St. George: Diary and Consultation Book of 1687" (1916)
p13 (23 Jan 1686/7): "Rec'd a Generall from Pettepollee dated the 15th Instant, giving no hopes of any goods for this Shipping, the Merchants not being able to comply in time with their contract, by reason of the great ffamine."

p45 (Consultation, 17 Mar 1686/7): "In regard that att present Paddy & Rice is Somewhat more brought into Town, then formerly Since the Famine, Itt is thought convenient to order the petty Land Custome to be paid, as hath been usually done, the excusing of itt, haveing been but during our pleasure."

p86 (Consultation, 18 Jun 1687): "Taking into consideration the troubles of this Country, and the encrease of the Famine, so many daily starving round us for want of food, Itt is order'd for the incouragment of all people, to bring Paddy & Grain to this place, that for the present they pay no Custome, And that the poor may bee supplied, Itt is also order'd that none shall engross the same (more then for the expence of their own families) that they may have itt att the best hand for their money, as expressed in the following Order.
By the President & Councill of Fort St George.
Notwithstanding the establish'd Customes upon all Commoditys wee do for the present exempt Paddy and all Sorts of Grain, from paying Custome, that all Merchants traders therein may bee encouraged to bring itt in greater quantities to this Port, And that the poor of this Town, may bee Supplied with the same for their money. Wee do hereby order, that no Merchant or others shall engross Paddy, or other Grain to himself (more then may bee sufficient for his family) by buying itt up in great quantities, to Sell itt out againe to the poor, att dear rates, whereby many not being able to compass itt, doe daily starve, to the great abuse & discredit of our Government. Dated in Fort St George the 13th day of June 1687 And Signed by us.

Order'd that the three foregoing Orders bee put up att the Fort Gate, Sea Gate, and Choultry Gate in English, and the two latter, in Portugues, Gentue, Persian and Mallabar, that no person may pretend ignorance of the same."

p90 (Consultation, 27 Jun 1687): "Order'd that Pag[odas] 50 be given to the Supply of the poor natives out of the Pag 100 Mr Gray rec'd of the Chittees [aka Chettis, a trading and moneylending caste] for a fine for their wronging them, in their price & measure of Grain, the callamity of famine still continuing, the English of this place, our Church, and joint Stock Merchants, having largly contributed thereto."

p108 (Consultation, 30 Jul 1687): "The trade of Slaves growing great from this Port, by reason of the great plenty of poor, by the Soar famine, & their cheapness, 'tis orde[r'd] for the future, that each Slave Sent off this Shoar, pay one Pag Custom[e] to the R't Hon'ble Compa' and that the Justices do receive no more for the usuall fee for Registring & Passport, then two fanams a head till t[he] Councill shall think fitt to alter itt as formerly."

p114 (Consultation, 4 Aug 1687): "Order'd also that they lade what grain &c. provissions they can procure from the Bay, & if possible to the filling up the three ships they shall send us, the famine being still very Severe here, & all sorts of grain & provissions, excessive Scarce and dear, But if their troubles & Warr prevent their provission thereof, then to dispatch two of the three Ships, as early as possibly to Vizagapatam, or rather Pundemarke, thirty Leagues to the Northward, that being the plentifullest Port for Grain, & wee shall order our Chief &c. there, to make provission for them, either for the R't Hon'ble Compa's acc't or upon freight."

pp119-120 (Consultation, 8 Aug 1687): [resolving to sent two ships with supplies, in response to a report from Mr Bloom, a Company's agent at Bencoolen on Sumatra, that:] "there was none but himself alive of the Councill, & but ___ Souldiers, & most of them sick & weak, & few or none left of the numerous company of black people & Artificers of all Sorts, carried with them, by the Resolution & Defence, & that they were in great want of Supplys & Assistants."
"That on these two Ships bee also Sent them, all the Factors Writers or any other English, wee can encourage, perswade or press to go, by reason of their great want there, though we hope the supply on the Priaman Frigat stands good & well, also that one hundred Slaves bee sent them on both Ships they being by the famine, extreamly cheap, also many by us, & that as many handicrafts, & Peons do go, as wee can prevail with, & rather then fail, to give them more then ordinary encouragm't."

p137 (Consultation, 1 Sep 1687): "The new come Souldiers having delivered in a Petition complaining their wages are insufficient for maintenance in this great famine, & having paid them two months Impress mony before hand which they say they have disposed in cloths, diett & necessarys, & that they have nothing thereof left, for their Subsistance, & that their Landlords deny them entertainment, in consideration whereof & that they have Served Six weeks of the two months Impress, 'tis agreed & order'd that three quarters of a months pay more be paid them to Supply their wants, & satisfie their Landlords for their Diett, which the Paymaster is order'd to take care of, that they do not mispend itt.
Also in pursuance of our last Consultation about the Souldiers of the Garrison, & their great necessity by the continued famine & great dearness of provissions, 'tis order'd that an additionall Supply of Six fanams p. Mensem, be given to the Portugues batchelor Souldiers & to the married men. And that the English be allowed 9 fanams more then their usuall wages, tbe acc't thereof to bee kept apart, which gratuity is to continue no longer, then the present Scarcity last, & then to reduce itt to their former pay, which is also promised by the Souldiers."

p149 (Consultation, 22 Sep 1687): "The Quarter Sessions of this Citty being ended, & four Criminalls being Legally tryed by a Jury were convicted of fellonious Roberys, & Sentanc't to death according to Law, But the Court considering that justice enclin'd to mercy, & that these were the first crimes, they were here charged with, & probably instigated thereto, by youth, the Temptation of a notorious Rogue their Ringleader, or from necessity by the long Soar famine, upon which considerations, 'tis agreed that the principall & bold offender, Managattee Tombeane, do Suffer death on Thursday next, according to Sentence, & by his Sad example, to deterr others from the like crimes, & that the other three Criminalls, Pindarum, Verago & Tannapa, be burn'd on the Shoulder, & banish't this place to Sumatra, where they are to remain Slaves to the R't Hon'ble Compa' during life, & never to return hither upon pain of death."

p185 (Consultation, 1 Dec 1687): "Having wrot & endeavour'd all ways about the procury of the Persia freight att Metchlepatam for the Royall James, But this day advised us, that the Dutch had engaged itt att Gulcondah, being a small freight, not exceeding 900 bales, & our Braminee &c. att Metchlepatam write us that itt will not amount to half that number, by reason of the great Famine & Pestelence att Metchlepatam, & those parts, that has destroyed so many, there are few left to carry on the business of making & curing the Cloth, so that 'tis not like to bee a quarter of a Ships lading & so not worth the disputing for."
Francis Cyril Anthony (ed.) "Gazetteer of India: Union Territory of Pondicherry" (1982) [based on Yvonne Robert Gaebelé, "Une Parisienne aux Indes au VXIIIè siècle, pp68-9]
p539: "The famine of 1687 is the earliest that we learn of from records. Accompanied by drought which was almost total, the famine was marked by extreme shortage of food. It took a heavy toll of lives. People migrated to the Thanjavur region. François Martin arranged for the import of rice by boats to be sold here.
Mémoires de François Martin ... (vol. 2, 1932)
p460 (Jan 1687): ... La disette était extrême à Madras; pendant deux jours que le chevalier Duhautmesnil y resta, il y mourut plus de 300 personnes de faim; c'était un ordinaire d'en trouver chaque journée dans les rues de 130 à 160 de morts. Les gens qui venaient du nord étaient si exténués et si abattus des misères qu'ils avaient souffert, que l'assistance qu'ils trouvaient des charités que l'on faisait à Madras, à Pondichéry et dans les autres lieux ne pouvait pas les remettre.

p471 (Mar 1687): ... Il semblait que tous les fléaux du ciel, la terre et la mer même, eussent entrepris de priver le royaume de Golconde de tous ses habitants. La famine et une espèce de peste y étaient répandues partout; les morts restaient à milliers dans les rues de Bagnagar [= Hyderabad] et dans les campagnes; il n'y avait pas de gens pour les enterrer. Il en était de même à Masulipatam. Une flotte de 80 à 100 barques, chargée de riz qui venait du nord, de la côte de Girgelin, et qui y aurait remis l'abondance, périt entièrement par un coup de vent qu'il fit mais extraordinaire dans cette saison.

p484 (Jun 1687): ... La disette toujours par le manque de pluie et toutes les apparences, si la sécheresse continuait, quer le reste des gens de la côte périrait par la famine.

p485 (Jul 1687): ... La quèche le Saint-Joseph nous apporta du riz des terres de Tanjore; la pluie donna un peu dans ce mois et avec apparence de continuation.
... Nous reçûmes des lettres du sieur Bertrand; elles s'étendaient sur la misère qu'ils avaient trouvée à Masulipatam [he and a colleague, Duval, had been sent there in May to re-establish a French presence in anticipation of regime change in the state of Golconda], les vivres rares et extraordinairement chers, une mortalité à faire appréhender les plus fermes. Les Hollandais avaient quinze ou vingt hommes de la tribu des Parsis entretenus seulement pour enlever les corps morts qu'on trouvait journellement dans les rues et les enterrer. Il y en avait quelquefois un si grand nombre qu'ils étaient forcés de les trainer à la rivière, n'ayant pas le temps de faire des fosses. J'écrivis au sud d'y freter une barque, la charger de riz et la faire mettre à la voile pour Masulipatam.

p491 (Aug 1687): ... Le riz diminuait pourtant, il en venait quantité du sud et toutes les apparences d'une bonne récolte; cependant les gens qui venaient encore du nord étaient si exténués que la bonne nourriture ne pouvait les remettre; la mortalité continauit; les pluies étaient tombées abondamment au nord, mais il ne se trouvait plus de gens pour cultiver les terres; tout avait péri.
Nous reçûmes des lettres du sieur Bertrand de Masulipatam; la disette et la mortalité y continuaient et les toiles à bon prix; il demandait assistance de vivres et de rafraîchissements. Le sieur Duval, sous-marchand, y était mort.
... Nous avions retenu à la rade la quèche le Saint-Joseph pour l'envoyer en Bengale apres l'arrivée des vaisseaux de France; elle fut chargée et mise en état pour le voyage; on y mit dessus des vivres et des rafraîchissements pour le comptoir de Masulipatam ... ils mirent à la voile le 14.

p497 (Oct 1687): Nous reçûmes le 1er october des lettres de M. Deslandes datées de Masulipatam où le navire le Président avait mouillé le 27 août. C'était quelque chose de surprenant et de pitoyable que la misère de cette ville; il n'y avait pas trois cents habitants et encore tous moribonds. Il n'était resté que quatre ou cinq personnes du commerce dans la loge des Hollandais, de vingt ou trente qu'ils y tenaient ordinairement, le reste mort. C'est une espèce de maladie pire que la peste; les gens y meurent subitement et en parlant. Les pluies y ont donné abondamment et même avec excès, mais il n'y avait personne pour cultiver les terres. ...

p500 (Oct 1687): Il fit une tempête la nuit du 17 au 18 de ce mois, mêlée d'éclairs, de tonnerre et de grains de pluie de temps à autre extrêmement rudes; elle fit périr cinq vaisseaux à la rade de Madras qui furent jetées à la côte, deux autres devant Porto-Novo et plusieurs barques et champans. On s'en ressentit presque tout le long de la côte. Il y avait une certaine malignité mêlée dans le vent et la pluie qui grilla toutes les feuilles des arbres, elles paraissaient avoir passé par le feu. Je me souviens d'un nom de rabougris que j'ai lu dans l'histoire de l'Académie et qui convient fort bien à l'état où elles étaient. Le riz dont le grain n'était pas encore formé fut tout perdu. ...

p505 (Dec 1687): Nous reçûmes des lettres de Masulipatam du sieur de Montferré; il me donnait avis que il n'y avait rien à faire pour les toiles, que tous les marchands qui s'étaient engagés d'en livrer étaient tombés malades, quelques-uns morts ...
Henry Davidson Love "Vestiges of Old Madras, 1640-1800" (vol. 1, 1913)
pp478-9: [29 Sep 1687] Fort St. George to Surat. "Our Long and sore Famine (by the Almighties mercy) seems declineing by his Late blessing of Seasonable good raines, which give us hopes of a Fruitfull Harvest, and is a great comfort to the Poore Inhabitants, tho' Graine Continues scarce and deare, and the Countrey so depopulated by miserable necessity that there are scarcely sufficient Left to manure and till the Ground, or to Labour the usuall Manufactories of the Countrey. ... And as 'tis usuall in most parts that Famine concludes with sickness, and generally Leaves some reigning distemper behind, so it happens in these parts, but Chiefely to the Northward, where numbers that outlived the scarcity are devoured by contagions, which is supposed to proceed from the Multitudes of Dead Corps that infect the aire ; they being so inhumane a people as to Lett them rott where they fall without any Care to bury them ; and Metchlepatam and Madapollam, that were the most considerable Ports for concourse and Trade, are now almost desolate. ... By an Accompt kept since the Famine, there has not died Less in this Towne thereby then 35,000, and by the nearest calculation 6,000 Families of the Inhabitants removed to other parts, and reduced many of those that stayed to great necessity and poverty. The graine the whole time has been more plentifull and cheape here then at any place to the Northward of this Coast ; nor are wee Exempted from the too common Fatallity of Sickness, haveing buried within three months 43 English, ... and many more doubtfully ill of this Malignant distemper, a Feavour and Ague ; some haveing sup't merrily and well, and Dead before breakfast." ... (O.C., No. 5621)
"London Gazette", 23-26 Jul 1688 (newspaper)
London, July 23. The 21th Instant arrived the Ship Success, which departed from Bombay, in the East-Indies, the 11th of January last, and brings the following Accounts of the Companies Affairs ...
In Bengall the English Agent, Mr. Job Charnock, had made Peace with the Nabob of Decca's Commissioners, which only wanted the Nabob's Ratification. But on that side of India there had been great Sickness and Mortality; as also on the coast of Choromandell, ensuing their great Famine, insomuch as that at Metchlepatam, of many Dutch Servants, but three were left alive; and of the French but one Person: The English escaped somewhat better, by removing into the Country.
"Oprechte Haerlemsche courant", 10 Aug 1688 (newspaper)
"Londen den 6 Augusti. Met het Schip de Success, den 31 January van Bombay in Oost-Indien vertrocken en den 31 passato gearriveert, heest men tyding ...
dat in dat gewest en op de Kust van Coromandel groote Sterfte geregneert heeft, van een sware Honger gevolgt en daer door te Masulipattan maer 3 Hollanders en een Fransman overgebleven; doch d'Engelste, te Landewaert geweecken, in wat meerder getal gefulveert ziin; …"
"Bengal and Madras papers. Vol. I: 1670-1688" (1928)
(letter from Fort St. George to Company officers in Bengal, 26 Apr 1688): "Wee are in great want of gunnyes, ropes and toyne, nor can they be supplied hear the famine having destroyed most of those mecccanicks …"

(letter from Fort St. George to Company agent at Hugly, 6 Jun 1688): "... wee must also desire you if possible to send us an yearly supply of good provisions and stores, particularly of packing stuff which is very dear and scarce here, and wee doubt grain and provisions will scarcely grow cheaper, the famine and wars still continuing and destroying soe that ye country is very bare of people, grain in many factoryes and wee doubt will not recover to any considerableness in many years."

(letter from Company officers at Chutanuttee [part of modern Kolkata] to Fort St. George, 27 Jun 1688): "We are very sensible wt. Dutch reports are, and not all credulous in that respect, haveing had experiences of their falsity, but what we heard of the famine was confirmed by soe many hands that we had no reason to doubt of it …"
Markus Vink, "Encounters on the Opposite Coast: The Dutch East India Company and the Nayaka State of Madurai in the Seventeenth Century" (2015)
p291: "A fourth boom [in Dutch slave trading] occurred in 1688 caused by a combination of poor harvests and the Mughal advance into the Carnatic. Reportedly, thousands of people from Tanjore, mostly girls and little boys, were sold into slavery and exported ... the boom ended as abruptly as it had started as a result of the abundant pisanam rice harvest of early 1689."
Helle Jørgensen, "Slavehandel i den dansk-indiske kolonihistorie" (in Aarhus University website, "Danmarks Historien", 2013)
[ http://danmarkshistorien.dk/leksikon-og-kilder/vis/materiale/slavehandel-i-den-dansk-indiske-kolonihistorie ]
Denne handel med slaver var uregelmæssig og gav et svingende udbytte, da dårlige høstår med høje fødevarepriser tvang flere til at sælge sig selv eller til at blive solgt af deres kreditorer, mens gode høstår betød et mindre udbud af slaver. Således meldtes skiftevis om dårlig og indtægtsgivende slavehandel fra Trankebar. God gevinst havde man for eksempel i perioden fra 14. marts 1688 til 1. april 1690, hvor slavehandelen indbragte Trankebar 46071 rigsdaler og 4 skilling.
"Bengal & Madras papers. Vol. II: 1688-1757" (1928)
"Fort St. George Letters Sent 1689", p1: [Letter from Fort St. George to Sir John Child, 28 Feb 1688/9. A ship is being despatched to obtain a cargo of pepper from the Company's newly-upgraded trading settlement on the West Coast] "… which if neglected or deserted or that the Pepper trade fails us shall be att an irrecoverable loss, that being the chief dependence for the tradeing most of our Shipps now in Bengall, little being to be expected from those parts, the war or famine has destroyed or removed most of the Weavors in the Countrey so that Cloth is so scarce that we cannot expect to procure more then to lade one Shipp …"

p3: [Letter from Fort St. George to Sir John Child, 30 Apr 1689.] "The greatest troubles we at present labour under is the scarcity of goods which are not procurable on this Coast, the countery being so much desolated by the late famine and continued Warrs that it cannot be expected to replenish in some years …"
John Bruce, "Annals of the Honorable East-India Company" (vol. 2, 1810)
pp656-7 (summary of report from Fort St. George presidency, Jan 1690) : "... the Presidency, from the anarchy in the Carnatic, (the effects of which they stated would be felt for ten years) despaired of being able to obtain an investment:- in illustration, they observed, that so essential an article as long-cloth could not be procured; and though they had offered five per cent. Advance upon their contracts of the preceding year, the merchants would not enter into engagements, for the ensuing season:- the French and Dutch had been obliged to give an advance of ten per cent. on their contracts, and the President could only resort to the expedient of engaging about one hundred families of skilful weavers to settle at Madras, in the hope, from the protection held out to them, that this number might be doubled, and, in progress of time, that the manufacture of Coast goods could be carried on, in the Company's settlement, to supply the home market:- that, however, the [London H.Q.] Court's idea of manufacturing Bengal taffaties, at Madras, was impracticable, as it could not be done without incurring an expence of fifty per cent. Difference, on the prime cost."
Vijaya Ramaswamy, "Weaver communities in Medieval South India ..." (PhD thesis 1980)
p371: "In times of famine the price of paddy shot up by nearly 400 per cent. During the 1688 famine a maund of paddy at Masulipatnam cost Rs. 2, [Source: "Letters to Fort St. George, 13th March 1688, p.26"] while the wages of a weaver ranged only from Rs. 2½ to Rs. 3 per month and that of other classes was even lower."
[Table on p372 indicates that the Masulipatnam prices were originally quoted in Pagodas per Candy of Paddy: typically 5 Pags. in the 1680s, but 12 Pags. in 1688. The table also gives a Madras price from 1689, expressed as 3½ English Pounds of Paddy per Fanam, equivalent to 1.75 Rs. per Maund (Source: "Letters to Fort St. George, 16th July 1689, p.37")- contrasted with a 1692 Madras transaction, 1¾ Garce of Paddy for 24 Pagodas, equivalent to 0.41 Rs. per Maund (Source: "Diary and Consultation, 23rd December 1692, p.11")]

1687 (a-extra1): Deccan
Documented causes: drought
Documented effects: official extortion; epidemic

"The history of India, as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period" (vol. VIII, 1877)
p36: Muhammad 'Ali "Burhanu-l Futuh": A.H. 1099 [1687-8 CE]. — A pestilential disorder broke out in Burhanpur and the Dakhin, which continued till A.H. 1104, and destroyed half the people.
A. Loveday, "The history & economics of Indian famines" (1914)
p141: {events contemporary with Aurangzeb's siege of Golconda] "In 1687 the people were apparently compelled to give up their private stores. Mackenzie MSS., vol. iv. pp. 33-5.
The following, which is a translation from a contemporary native document in the Mackenzie MSS., is of interest owing to the curious policy of the Emperor's officials:-
'Then he who held the office of Dasakee, Munna Roosoon and Savarami, named Croostanee Bavanah Mawnu-Karoyoodoo, began to send his peons to the places where grain was buried in pots, which he took by force with other effects; he also exported [?=extorted] money from the merchants and other affluent people: he was joined in this by Narrayana Royoodoo coming sometimes to Patakamoor, his place of residence, and to Condaveed Mamoola Cotah, where his brother Jangannah resided." ...
Then follows an interesting list of prices [No details given] … The famine spread over the 'Carnatic, Veedarba, Mucha, Magada, Panda, Roolenda, Andra, Callinga, from the south sea to the east sea as far as Davaradee.' - Mackenzie MSS., vol. iv. pp. 33-5."

pp26-7: "A contemporary writer states that in 1677 'all persons were destroyed by famine excepting two or three in each village.' [Source: Mackenzie MSS., vol. iv. p. 34.] But from the detailed list of food prices which he adds, grain never appears to have risen above three times the normal level …" [Given that page 34 ought to deal with the same events as pages 33 and 35, "1677" is likely to be a mistake for 1687. The Mackenzie manuscripts were collected early in the 19th century by Colin Mackenzie, surveyor-general of India. They have been catalogued, but never printed in full.]

1687 (a-extra2) [ctd. from 1685]: Golconda
Documented causes: siege and scorched-earth warfare
Documented effects: cultivation impossible; heaps of corpses

Jadunath Sarkar, "History Of Aurangzib" (vol. 4, 1929)
pp439-40: [Emperor Aurangzib's siege of Golkonda, events of May-June 1687] The enemy's fire was still unsubdued, and the ditch far from filled up. The Mughals also now fell into the grip of famine. During the preceding year there had been an utter failure of rain throughout the Deccan, and the millets (jawari and bajra) which are the chief food crops of the peninsula, had dried up on their stalks. In the Haidarabad district, rice was the staple produce; but the war had prevented the sowing of the fields, and this fertile region had become a desert. The Deccanis and their Maratha allies infested the roads and prevented the transport of grain to the Mughal camp. Then, in June, the rain descended in torrents …"

pp449-50: [July-September 1687] "The famine grew worse than before, and pestilence appeared as its inseparable companion. 'The scarcity of grain and fodder was so great that even rich men were reduced to beggary, while the condition of the poor baffled description.' (K.K. [Khafi Khan's history of Alamgir] ii. 336.) As the official history records it, 'Wheat, pulse, and rice disappeared. The city of Haidarabad was utterly depopulated; houses, river, and plain were all filled with corpses. The same condition prevailed in the Mughal camp. At night piles of the dead used to accumulate, and next day the sweepers used to fling them, without funeral, on the bank of the river. This happened day after day. The survivors in the agony of hunger ate the carrion of men and beasts. For miles and miles around, the eye rested only on mounds of corpses. Happily, the ceaseless rain melted away the flesh and the skin, otherwise the rotting carcases would have poisoned the air and despatched even the men spared by the famine. After some months, when the rains ceased, the white piles of skeletons looked from a distance like hillocks of snow.' (M.A. [Masir-i-Alamgiri] 292.)
'Many of the Mughal soldiers, unable to bear the pangs of hunger, deserted to Abul Hasan; others, in secret league with him, gave help to the besieged.' (K.K. ii. 337; M.A. 295.) The reinforcements brought by Ruhullah Khan and Prince Azam only added to the scarcity of food."
Saqi Must'ad Khan (trans. Sir Jadunath Sarkar), "Maasir-i-Alamgiri" (1947)
p178: [events from about Feb 1687 onward in the region round Golkonda fort] "At this time owing to excess of rain the river Manjera raged in flood. No provision could come from the neighbourhood. Famine prevailed; wheat, pulse and rice disappeared. Cries of grief at the disappearance of grain rose from the famished on all sides of the camp. Of the men of Haidarabad, not a soul remained alive; houses, river and plain became filled with the dead. The same was the condition of the camp. At night piles of the dead were formed round the Emperor’s quarters. Daily sweepers dragged them and flung them on the bank of the river from sunrise to sunset. The same thing happened every day and night. The survivors did not hesitate to eat the carrion of men and animals. Kos after kos the eye fell only on mounds of corpses. The incessant rain melted away the flesh and the skin; otherwise the putrid air would have finished the business of the survivors. After some months when the rains ceased, the white ridges of bones looked from a distance like hillocks of snow. Through the grace of God to the survivors, the rains abated, the violence of the river ceased, and provisions came from the surrounding country. In the place of Sardar Khan, karori-ganj, Sayyid Sharif Khan, son of Mir Sayyid Muhammad Qanauji, the spiritual guide of Shah Jahan, and an honest, able and accomplished man, was appointed. Thanks to the gracious aim of the Emperor, the custodian of the livelihood of the people, the scarcity was removed, and cheapness restored."

p199: [postscript to the above; c Jun 1689] "Mir ‘Abdul Karim, a favourite of the Emperor was rewarded with the title of Multafat Khan for his good services as karori-ganj, when he made abundance and cheapness to appear in stead of scarcity and famine at Haidarabad, and thus deserved the Emperor’s recognition."

1687 (a-retrospective): looking back from c1700
Documented effects: long-term economic damage and population shifts

"Records of Fort St. George, vol. VII: Letters to Fort St. George, 1699-1700" (1921)
40 [8 Apr 1700]: FORT ST. DAVID
"... each European Private centinell is Paid here 100 of your fanams pr. mensem, & yours of the Same conditions are paid but 91 fan: at Madrass which is 9 Small fanams difference and was establish'd some years agoe by the late Governour Hatsell, Probably in time of ye famine …"

41 [31 Mar 1700]: VIZAGAPATAM
"... our merchants wont be indebted upwards of Pagodas 18000 one half whereof is and will in a months time be Embaled and the remainder they will Discharge gradually being their old Debt occasioned by the Severe famine and Setterams rebellion when ye Dutch at Brimlipatam deserted their factory [The Dutch VOC abandoned its fort and trading post at Bimlipatnam (now Bheemunipatnam, Andhra Pradesh) in 1687] and had it plundered …"

89 [29 Jul 1700]: VIZAGAPATAM
"Yo'r: Hon'rs: Information of the State of Vizaga. ffactory with submission has been imperfect noe part of the Country haveing been more subject to revolutions than this place haveing been for these many years past oppressed with Warr, ffamine and Scarcity of Cotten ...
The Occasion of Buddy Narrans &c. Debt being encreased to that Bulk has been by a constant succession of warr, and ffamine, Seconded with a Scarcity of Cotton w'ch: has made them unhappy loosers by severall contracts …"

107 [14 Nov 1700]: FORT ST. DAVID
"The Dimity Weavers with us are no more than six looms, who were forced hither some sev'll: years ago, in the extremity of the then famine from their native country of Metchlep'm: and have continued here ever since …"

20 [sic] [10 Dec 1700]: FORT ST. DAVID
[Report on the murder of one Cooly Chittee, aged about 18, by "a crew of villians" led by Ranga with his brothers Wootundy and Sueka] "... the first two mention'd are Brethren in iniquity as well as naturally by birth, they having about some three years agoe murthered one Vancattee ... w'ch: they upon examination then confess'd & were sentenced to be transported and banished to Acheen a punishm't: too favourable for so hainous a crime and were accordingly shipp'd off on board a ship of Agmud Mercons, bound for ye afores'd: Port, but he touching first at Porto Novo, dropt [W]ootundy & left him there, Ranga being carried w'th: him to Acheen, & from thence back againe ye same voyage to Cuddalore, where he hath sculked & nested himself ever since, w'ch: is no wonder of Agmud Mercon, when it is Consider'd how serviceable both the Brothers have proved to him by their decoying & kidnapping (in ye late famine) so many poor country people as were sold and transported as slaves. …"
"Records of Fort St. George: Diary and Consultation Book of 1703" (1927)
[I have assumed, given the mention of "Ancient inhabitants," that these 1703 documents are referring back to the 1686-7 famine]
p57 (Consultation, 5 Aug 1703): "Rice and Provissions being tollerable cheap to what they have bean of late Yeares, and whereas in the time of the Famine the hire of all day Labourers, such as Cooleys, Carpenters, Bricklayers &c. was considerably advanced on that consideration, which we think reasonable should now be reduced, and in order thereunto the Governour promisses that he will consult the Ancient Inhabitants about it, and inspect what they formerly was paid before the Famine."

p58 (Consultation, 12 Aug 1703): "The Governour having inquired into the hyre of day Labourers before the Famine, which he finds Generally was not then above two thirds of what it is a[t] present, which was raised in consideration of the Famine and excessive dearness of all Provisions, the reason of which now being in good measure removed; Provissions being tollerable cheap particularly Paddy from 38 to 40 Mercal for a Pagoda 'Twas thought a seasonable time to reduce their hyre to what it was formerly, and in order thereto the Governour sent for some of the Ancient Inhabitants to advise thereon, who acquainted him that Paddy before the famine was from 70 to 100 Mercall for a Pago': and all other Provissions in Proportion, besides the Company had then noe Farmes of Beetle, Tobacco, Ganjees, nor Arrac w'ch lyest heavyest on the poorest sort of People, who are not able to subsist without it, therefore desired us by no meanes to think of lessening their hyre for that if we did the Poor would not be able to support themselves and familyes all which the Governour acquainted the Council who unanimously agreed with him to lay aside for the present any farther consideration of this matter."

1687 (b) [+ years after]: Marwar
Documented causes: war
Documented effects: cultivation impeded; epidemics

Sir T.W. Haig et al. "The Cambridge Shorter History of India" (vol. 2, 1935)
p448: "After the departure of Akbar Mirza for Persia in 1687, the faithful Durga Das had returned to Marwar, where warfare continued for thirty years, rendering the cultivation of the soil always difficult and sometimes impossible, and where famine and pestilence were often rife."
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