FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1735 (a) [from 1733; to 1736]: Madras area [+ inland to Arcot etc.]|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: Company flexibility|
|Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1735" (1930)|
|p27 (consultation of 10 Mar 1735): "Then the President acquainted the Board that having receiv'd information of two Boats of Grain belonging to Mooper Chitty Eyana, and Corrala Mulliah being directed to unload at St. Thomé, He had sent and order'd those Boats into our Road and told those Merchants as they lived under the protection of the English he expected they shou'd import their Goods among the English, But that instead of Complying therewith they were themselves gone to St. Thomé haveing before they went given out that they shou'd be follow'd by all the Northern Merchants.|
The Consequences of this Affair at a time that we are in apprehensions of a continuance of the scarcity and famine which has now lasted upwards of two Years being consider'd, It was agreed to put the Company's Duroy on their Effects and Seal up their Godowns, But that the further Consideration of this Affair be deferr'd till we see what Effect this proceeding has on them."
[The issue was resolved at the consultation of 24 Mar, after the production of some fairly feeble excuses, by fines of 600 and 400 Pagodas (p38)]
p50 (consultation of 30 Apr 1735): [the Madras town Scavinger presents accounts in support of his request for an increased street cleaning budget, noting:] "the hard Labour I have put the Buffaloes to in the three Months I have been Scavinger, and the Small Allowance for Food for them in this time of scarcity has kill'd four of them"
p76 (consultation of 1 Jul 1735): "The President acquaints the Board that agreeable to the resolution of last Consultation he had receiv'd proposals from two persons by name Mannapaucum Chintomby, and Pegue Nella Chitty for Renting Egmore &c. Villages, but that they made many difficulties on account of the tanks being so extreamly out of repair and it was as much as he cou'd do to bring them to give the same Bent as the last farmer on prolonging the Lease two years more than the last, they alledging that they had as exactly as possible calculated the expence of repairing the said Tanks &c. which wou'd stand them in at least a thousand Pagodas to put them into the good order they ought to be.
It being a term of the last Cowle that the Renters shou'd keep the Hedges, fences, Ditches &c. well and Sufficiently Scoured, and repair'd and at the expiration of the Lease shou'd deliver them up in the same condition, the Executors of Poncala Kistna were call'd upon for the same and in excuse urged that there is also another Clause in the said Cowle that in case of a great Drought so that the Tanks fail and for want of water the said Renters are not able to manure their Grounds the Company will on due proof allow such deduction in the Rent as they shall make appear they are Sufferers thereby. That this Board cannot but be Sensible there has been for several Years past a great drought and famine that they have not been able to manure their Grounds, and that their Inhabitants and People have been oblig'd to seek a Livelyhood in other places, that nevertheless they have paid the full Rent specify'd by the Cowle when they had so just a Claim to an abatement, and that they therefore hoped the not repairing the Tanks, which had they done wou'd have been a Considerable addition to their Losses already sustain'd will not be imputed to them as a breach of their Cowle, but putt in the Ballance against the severe Drought and famine they have so long Labour'd under to their apparent great Loss, and detriment.
Which defence of theirs the Board thought very reasonable and allow'd of."
p104 (consultation of 2 Aug 1735): [petition from the heads of the Washermen at Madras] "... from several Years they have been servants to the Honourable Company as Washermen, and has allways used their best endeavours in their service which was carry'd on by 500 Washers and that the severe famine which begun to continue from Mr. Macraes Government till the end of Mr. Pitts forced great part of the said Washers to quit the place, and fly to those parts where they cou'd procure Grain &c. cheaper some of them being infirm, and unable to walk died, at last most part of those that remain'd and escaped were oblig'd to dispose of themselves, their Wives or Children &c. So that by these misfortunes great many familys are come to decay, and the number of them is very much decreas'd that at present there is no more but about 100 Washermen that are fit to work, who unless your Petitioners shou'd send for many others to join with 'em in their Business as we have annually done since the continuance of these famines, will not be able enough to carry on their business to which purpose your Petitioners are oblig'd to send for some from the Country though it is a great trouble for them.
Your petitioners are very sorry to assert that some of their people were so unfortunate through their wicked proceedings, and offences to bring themselves under confinement, and exasperate your Honour so far against them as to create in your Honour a design of sending them to the West Coast (as your Petitioners were inform'd) Your honour therefore is earnestly entreated to consider that their ill behaviours proceeded from the change of their stations into a most misserable condition by means of the famines abovemention'd, and they being of very illiterate, and vulgar spirits are consequently very ignorant of all right, and well manured behaviours whatsoever.
Your poor Petitioners therefore most Humbly presume to beseech, and pray your honour begging that Your Honour through your Candour, and well known Goodness will be so pleas'd to pardon, forgive, and excuse them the foremention'd prisoners from their crimes whatsoever that they may thereby be releas'd from their confinements, and enter themselves into the Number of their familys with whom that they may preserve their healths in a very gratefull remembrance of Your Honours undoubted favour w'ch. is hop'd to be conferr'd towards them poor creatures by Your Honour, …"
[Council's decision (p101):] "The said Head Washermen with Tomby Chitty offering to pay the expences the Company had been at in the maintenance of the said Delinquents the board agreed to indulge them in their request."
[NB: At the same consultation, the developers of a new village for weavers, Chindadre Pettah (modern Chintadripet) petitioned the Council for payment of a promised development grant, noting that they gave the early settlers of the village financial help because they "were destitute of Money, and other necessarys and much distress'd and impoverished by the course of a long and Severe famine". Council approved the payment.]