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1738 (a) [from 1737]: Coromandel Coast to Tanjore1738 map
Documented causes: drought + war
Documented effects: businesses ruined; French Compagnie buys extra farmland

Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1738" (1930)
p47 (consultation of 24 Feb 1738): [Storekeeper's report:] "He also acquaints the Board that he has not yet been able to get the fifty Candys of Salt Petre delivered him this year made into Gunpowder, the present maker refusing absolutely to undertake it at the price hitherto given urging for his reasons the long continued Scarcity & dearness of all Sorts of provisions by which the poor people who used to work at that business are so much reduced and enfeebled that it cannot be performed with the same number as formerly and that the present price will not afford the hiring a greater number. The Board being convinced of the truth of this, & considering that the Powder has been much better in the present Price of Maker's time than ever before agreed rather to advance the price from three & three quarters 3 3/4 to four 4 Pagodas Pr. Candy than by changing hands, for the Sake of that small difference run the risque of having the powder Spoiled."

p52 (consultation of 4 Mar 1738): [letter responding to Council queries about bad business at Vizagapatam] "... the necessity there is of throwing a Dependance upon more than one or two People who otherwise Cramps the Gomasters in the Price, & they the Weavers, and the Merchant at the same time complaining of the hardships, as the Excessive Price of Cotton, The great Famine, the large Ballance in the weavers hands, this last is a hardship the Company must have suffered by had I employed those People I did the year before, for they were as little able to make good a Loss as those Gomasters and Weavers that had nothing of their own, and Eat faster than they worked, But if Your Honour &c. will please to permitt me to take two or three more Merchants seperately and advance them such Sums as I find necessary according to their performance & allow a ballance of Two thousand Rupees for every hundred Bales they have provided within the Year, I may have more hopes of Succeeding better both in Quality, and Large Number of Bales, but to be pin'd down to one person for the sake of his being a Man of Substance and so little probity is the Reason I cannot give the least hopes of succeeding better then I have done for this last Year past."

p96 (consultation of 23 May 1738): [letter from a sea captain in the port by Fort St. George] "As I presume your Honour &c. have by some of the late Shipping Received advices from Bombay of the Condition of that Island, and that the scarcity of Grain is not so great, as at first Apprehended,
I beg leave in behalf of my Owners to request your Honour &c. if no ways prejudicial to my Hon'ble. Masters, to be unloaded here, that I may return to the Bay again in Order to be dispatched early for Europe ...
I am likewise to inform you that the Rice which I have, either from the length of time being on Board, or the heat of the Ship's hold, is at present but indifferent, and I fear will be almost perished before I can arrive at Bombay."
[Council agrees to the request]
"Procès-verbaux des délibérations du Conseil souverain de la Compagnie des Indes" (Vol. 3, 1914)
pp133-135: (meeting of 22 Mar 1738) [Both Soukourama and the older merchants have approached the Conseil, warning that they will be ruined if forced to comply with the terms of their current contracts, due to "la cherté des cotons et la misère extrême où tout le pays a été réduit par la famine et la sécheresse" [ so it is agreed to pay them extra]

p174: (meeting of 29 Nov 1738) [The surety for the South Indian purchasers of 48 cases of coral back in 1734 explains why they are having difficulty meeting the payment schedule:] "... que la famine, qui règne dans le pays depuis dix ans, ayant été un obstacle à la déffaitte de cette marchndise, ils auroient beaucoup perdu sur cette partie de corail, que le pays de Trichnapaly et de Tanjaour ayant ensuite été ravagé, depuis plusieurs années, par les armées du Nabab, plusieurs de leur débiteurs étoient devenue insolvables ..."
"Correspondance du Conseil Supérieur de Pondichéry et de la Compagnie ... 1736-1738" (Vol. 2, c1920)
p144 (letter of 18 Oct 1738): "... nous nous étions proposés d'envoyer prendre possession de la forteresse de Karcangery, de l'aldée de Karical [modern Karaikal, in the fertile delta of the Kaveri river], qui est très considérable et marchande, et des dépendances de ces deux endroits dont le revenu monte à cinq à six mil Pagodes, indépendamment des motifs de commerce et de l'espoir de procurer des secours de grains à cette colonie que la disette désole depuis si longtemps."

p209 (report to the Compagnie, 15 Oct 1738): "La famine n'a point cessé à la coste et le riz a toujours valu de 80 à 100 pagodes la garce, il est depuis trois mois à ce dernier prix."
A.R. Pillai "Private diary of Ananda Ranga Pillai : dubash to Joseph François Dupleix ... 1736 to 1761" (vol. 1, trans., 1904)
p67 (entry for 6 Nov 1738): [note of a statement he made to a Compagnie official] "The country having been smitten with famine, the customers who purchased coral of me have failed to pay me no less than 5,000 pagodas. Nevertheless, I have had to make the amount good to the Company, which I did by borrowing it from others. …"

1738 (b): Bengal
Documented causes: storm [Sep 1737]
Documented effects: Company relief efforts in Calcutta

Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1738" (1930)
p136 (consultation of 21 Aug 1738): [summary of letter from Fort William, 15 Jun] "advising of a Famine in Bengal which had occasioned a Prohibition against the Exportation of Grain ..."
"Old Fort William in Bengal; a selection of official documents dealing with its history" (vol. 1, 1906)
169: "Extract from Abstract of General Letter from Bengal to the Court. Fort William, January 29, 1739.
  75. The Annual Expences exceeded some years ago particularly Charges Merchandize which were occasion'd by the Storm [see 1737 for initial reports of this disaster]
  76. Which levelled most of the Walls in the Town, shattered and threw down many of the Buildings and blew up the Bridges, the Tide some days after broke in upon and carried away some of the Wharfs Slips and Stairs, the Places most Damnified are the Peers on the ffactory Wharf, Wharf and Slips at Soota Loota, Walls round the burying place and powder magazine and the ffactory Points, Church steeple was overthrown.
Shall Repair them in the most frugal and Secure manner its Deferred hitherto by Chunams Dearness and Scarcity.
  77. A Sad Effect of the Hurricane was a Famine that raged all round the Countrey best part of the Year, were obliged to forbid the Exportation of Rice the 5th June, which affected Private Trade, more particularly Mr. Elliott who had two Ships laden with Rice.
  78. Took off the Duty on all rice brought into the Town the 12th June, Hughley Government had done the Same Rice was bought on the Companys Account Delivering it out in small Quantitys at the Buzar rate, when Rice grew Cheap again, the Duty was Levied as formerly and Madrass was supplied with a large Quantity.
  79. Revenues were naturally Decreased hereby and the Impoverished Tenants were Indulged with Time to Pay their Rents, but when the ffamine was over revenues arose as Usual."

1739-40: aftermaths

Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1739" (1930)
p127 (consultation of 21 Aug 1739): [complicated negotiations with merchants Tomby Chitty, Moota Yencaty Chitty and Collatty Chitty Tagapa, who are in debt to the Company, and wish to introduce their relations Tellisinga Chitty (Tomby's brother) and Nellamoota Comrepa into the business, though these two, contrary to the assurances of Tomby etc., say they do not wish to share responsibility for the old debts. Tomby etc. are therefore asked] "what security they had to give for their paying in annually the five thousand Pagodas promised in their proposals in discharge of their debt to which they answered They had none but that Tellisinga & Nellamoota Comrepa by mak'g. fresh advances in the Country would enable the Weavers (who have been disabled by famine for so many years) now that there was a prospect of plenty to pay a part of their old Debts by which means & by the profits they hoped to make on the Broad Cloth they expected to receive from the Board, they should be able to perform their promise."
[Council agrees to try the new arrangement, with a review next April]
Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1740" (1931)
p157 (consultation of 8 Sep 1740): [farming out of right to collect duties on tobacco and betel:] "… the Betle & Tobacco Farm having been such a losing affair to the last Farmers owing to the scarcity & dearness of Tobacco & other accidents proceeding from the late Famines, he had found the Letting that Farm at the old rate, attended with difficulties almost insuperable, & was once afraid we should be obliged to abate considerably of it for the ensuing Term.
The Board being satisfied That the late Betle & Tobacco Farmers suffered considerably in the time they have had the Cowle, & also the difficulty of keeping it up to the Old Rate desired the President to use his endeavours to perfect the agreement between Sasachilum & the other persons as soon as he returns from the Country …"
H.Dodwell (ed.) "A Calendar Of The Madras Records 1740-1744" (1917)
p70 (summary of letter from the Company in London to Madras, 21 Mar 1740): "... Rejoice at the active trade of Madras indicated by 120 ships calling in a year. Trust that the famine is completely over."
Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1744" (1931)
p30 (consultation of 26 Jan 1744): [from a statistical document relating to a request from the Mayor's Court of Madras for increased financial support] RENTS & REVENUES: 1736, Pagodas 102-25-3; 1737, 15-13-29; 1738, 14-9-1; 1739, 154-16-8; 1740, 237-35-74 ... [Most of these revenues were from duties levied on rice and other grains; 1737 & 1738 are noted as "Two years of scarcity"]
"Correspondance du Conseil Supérieur de Pondichéry et de la Compagnie ... 1739-1742" (Vol. 3, c1921)
p32 (30 Sep 1740, responses to Company queries dated 26 Sep 1739): "Le commerce constant et uniforme que la Compagnie fait depuis quelques années, luy a procuré de riches et copieuses cargaisons, mais quel remède cela peut-il apporter aux révolutions et évènements extraordinaires arrivés depuis quelques années dans ces pays, par exemple les aldées ou villages où l'on fabriquait des toiles de trente et trente six conjons et des percales, etc. ont été pillés et ruinés, les tisserands mis en fuitte et dispersés de coté et d'autre, de sorte qu'il nous est presque impossible d'avoir de ces qualités de marchandises, quelques soins et peines que nous nous soyons donnés. Des guerres continuelles ont ravagé depuis quatre ans les terres du Tanjore et de Trichinopoly qui ont plusieurs fois successivement changé de maitres, des sécheresses inouies suivies d'une famine affreuse, ont fait périr de soif et de misère des village entiers et la plus grande partie des bestiaux."

1739: more on Karaikal

"Résumé des lettres du Conseil supérieur de Pondichéry à divers …" (1933) [Council of the French East India Co., 1725-42 & 1749-1760]
163 (27 Jul 1738): ... "avisant que la France s'est décidé à faire l'acquisition de Karikal et de ses dépendances, le Conseil ajoute que M. Dirois, l'un de ses membres, en prendra possession au nom du Roy et de la Compagnie. ... Le Conseil ajoute que la France a acheté au Roi de Tanjore Karikal et ses dépendances dans l'espérance d'en tirer des grains pour soulager la disette qui sévit depuis 10 ans dans la Colonie."
184 (10 Feb 1739): "Le Conseil avise ... que, dans le but de parer à une disette de vivres et de grains qui sévit depuis dix ans, il a été ouvert un établissement à Karikal."
"Procès-verbaux des délibérations du Conseil souverain de la Compagnie des Indes" (Vol. 3, 1914)
pp179-180: (meeting of 9 Feb 1739) "Le Nabab Chandasaheb, général de l'armée de l'Empereur Mogol dans le pays de Tanjaour, qui, dès le mois de juin, avoit promis à Monsieur le Gouverneur de le mettre en possession de la forteresse de Karkangery, Karikal et dix aldées en dépendances ... le Conseil, sentant l'utilité de cet établissement, tant pour les grains que nous en pouvons tirer pour le soulagement de la colonie, qui depuis un tems infini est dans une grande disette, que pour la commerce de la compagnie par les différentes sortes de marchandises qui se fabriquent dans ces quartiers ... a délibéré et arrêsté, d'une voix unanime, d'accepter l'offre ..."
"Correspondance du Conseil supérieur de Pondichéry avec le Conseil de Chandernagor" (vol 2, 1916):
p54 (Pondichéry to Chandernagor, 12 Mar 1739): "... Karikal ... Nous espérons tirer de cet établissement de grands avantages tant pour la Compagnie que pour la colonie; pour cette dernière, par la quantité de grains que nous pourrons en tirer et des environs, ce qui sera une ressource assurée et à notre porte, dans les temps de disette; pour la Compagnie, par la quantité de marchandises qui se fabriquent dans ces quartiers là et qui peuvent entrer et entrent pour la plupart dans les carguaisons d'Europe, et que nous pourrons peut-être par là nous procurer à meilleur marché. "
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