FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1768: Bihar and Bengal; prelude to tragedy|
|Fort William - India House Correspondence (vol. 5, 1949)|
|p407 (report from Harry Verelst in Fort William to the Company in London, 28 Mar 1768): "The French and Dutch Company by granting remittances only for such sums as have been paid into their Treasuries in Silver have been amply supplied with Money and they have as amply furnished their agents at the Aurangs with the proper species of Rupees, whilst we have been put to difficulties on that account- To obviate these in some measure and to comply with your orders to the utmost of our Power we have been obliged to curtail the private Trade of your servants at every Aurung to a degree almost of Annihilation.|
… Deprived of this principal branch of Commerce by which alone the Shipping Trade can be supported, interdicted trading in Salt whilst he beholds all the Foreign Nations as well as Natives enjoying the benefit of it under Feigned Names and various pretences too intricate to be unfolded and too deeply laid to be checked, or brought to public view, prohibited all other means of accumulating Money, with small salaries and no emoluments, from whence is a servant to raise a fortune in Bengal- I declare I have as great an opinion of your present set of servants in general as of any body of Men; but with such a prospect before them having the Government of a rich and populous Kingdom, and the Amount of Millions passing through their hands, they must be more than Men to stand the fiery trial-
… I flatter myself you have ere now made choice of a Gentleman to succeed me in the Government .... a series of Nineteen Years dedicated to their service has so entirely destroyed my Constitution, that another years residence in Bengal would in all probability prove fatal.
p431 (second report from the Council in Fort William to the Company in London, 13 Sep 1768): "As the Presidents ill state of Health would not permit him to attend the Poonea Mr. Cartier was desired to proceed thither in his stead which he accordingly did."
|C.E.R. Girdlestone, "Report on Past Famines in the North-Western Provinces" (1868)|
|pp6-7: "The burden of evidence is against the idea mooted by Colonel Baird Smith that the great famine of 1770 had its origin in excess of rain. Drought was really the cause [Footnote: "… The only ground for the supposition appears to be the fact that there had been floods in Behar during August 1768. After this date there was unquestionably drought in Bengal, which continued up to the time of the famine"] ... The autumn crop of 1768 and the spring crop of 1769 had both partially failed …"|
|This project is meant to stop just before the 1768-69 drought, but you may find it worthwhile to read some accounts of events in 1769-70 from British administrators in areas less affected by the famine: Medinipur and Rangpur. Also, here are some reports from the Dutch press.|