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THE ENGLISH REVENUE SYSTEM UP TO THE PERMA
Early connexion of the English with Bengal - Acquisition of the Twenty-four
Pergunnahs—Acquisition of Calcutta-Acquisition of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong-Accession to the Dewanny-Fiscal machinery-Instructions to the Supervisors-Khamar lands-The zemindars-Protection for the ryotgThe hustabood-Direct management of the revenue by the English-Revenue farmed for five years—Abwabs and cesses prohibited - Revenue administered from the Presidency-Review of revenue administration-Preparations for a permanent revenue system-Enquiries set on foot-Annual settlements— A permanent plan again contemplated-Settlement for 1188—Register of revenue-free land-Rules for resumption-Settlements for 1191, 1192 and 1193-Centralisation-Instructions for decennial settlement-Settlement for 1194—Regulations for the conduct of the Collectors—Regulations of 25th April 1787–Legislation of 1790—Summary-Power of alienation restricted
Proprietary rights—The fiscal machinery, We have now reached the period of British rule. The Early con
nexion of the connexion of the English with Bengal appears to have English with
Bengal. begun in 1640, when the trade with Bengal was first opened under the protection of the Emperor Shah Jehan, who granted the English considerable privileges. In 1698 they were allowed by Azeem-oo-Shan, the grandson of Aurungzebe, and then Soubahdar of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, to purchase the talookdary right in Calcutta and the adjacent villages of Sootanootty and Govindpore subject to a revenue of Rs. 1,195.
In 1707 Calcutta was declared to be a Presidency, accountable only to the Directors in England.'
For a long time the English continued to trade without acquiring any further territorial rights; but in 1757 considerable progress was made in the acquisition of rights
· Harington's Analysis, Vol. I, 2.
in the land. In February 1757 they had been allowed to fortify Calcutta, and to place themselves in an almost independent position; and after the battle of Plassey, which was fought on the 23rd of June of that year, they obtained from Meer Jaffier, whom they had raised to the position of Nawab Nazim, the grant of the zemindary of the Twenty
four Pergunnahs in the neighbourhood of Calcutta. Acquisition of It is of course not my intention to trace the progress of the Twentyfour Pergun- English conquest, but it will throw some light upon our
present subject to notice the main steps in the acquisition of the Twenty-four Pergunnahs and of Calcutta. The first grant of the Twenty-four Pergunnahs by Meer Jaffier was made by a perwanneh or order, directed to the officials of every kind within the pergunnahs and also to the ryots, announcing the formation of the pergunnahs into a zemindary in favor of the East India Company, and commanding obedience to the Company as zemindar. This being only a preliminary step to the formation of the zemindary, it was followed in 1758 by a formal dewanny sunnud under the seal and signature of the Provincial Dewan Meer Mahomed Sadoc. This contained the usual representation that the inhabitants were not satisfied to pay their rents to the new zemindar, until they could be assured by a sunnud of the authority of the Company to exercise the functions of zemindar. The sunnud then followed the usual form with which we are already acquainted, and contained particulars of the lands included in the sunnud, and of the jumma to be paid for them, which amounted to Sicca Rs. 2,22,958."
See the perwanneh in Aitchison's Treaties, Vol. I, 15.
This grant appears to have completed the formation of the zemindary, which it seems had been previously administered in the usual way by chowdhries, talookdars, mokuddims, &c.; a great deal of the revenue having moreover been assigned or remitted, since a considerable portion of the zemindary was described as bazee zemeen.' The next step was to obtain from the Emperor a confirmation of the acts of his deputies Meer Jaffier and Mahomed Sadoc. Accordingly in 1765 a firman was obtained from the Emperor confirming the Company in the zemindary as an altumgha. At the same time a similar grant was made with respect to the chucklahs of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong, the revenue of which had been in 1760 assigned by Cossim Khan to the English for the maintenance of their troops. But in the meanwhile the State had granted to Lord Clive in jageer the revenue payable by the Company as zemindar of the Twenty-four Pergunnahs. This was done on the 13th of July 1759 by a new kind of jageer sunnud from the Emperor and Meer Jaffier, granting to Lord Clive all the royalties, rents, and dues payable by the Company. Thus Lord Clive represented the State in its relation to the East India Company as zemindar. His sunnud appears to have been of a special kind, consisting of two documents—a patent from the Emperor for the munsub, corresponding to the first part of an ordinary jageer sunnud, which granted a certain dignity and title, and a perwanneh from Meer Jaffier directing the East India Company as zemindar to pay their revenue to Lord Clive as jageerdar. On the
· Fifth Report, Vol. I, 484.
Harington's Analysis, Vol. I, 5. Fifth Report, Vol. I, 487. · See the sunnuds in Aitchison's Treaties, Vol. I (Appendix).
23rd June 1765 the jageer was renewed to Lord Clive for a period of ten years as an unconditional jageer.' A jageer of this kind it will be remembered did not pass sovereign powers, but only the right to revenue. After the expiry of the term of ten years the Company was to succeed Lord Clive in perpetuity; so that after that period the jageer and zemindary rights would be combined, and the result would be that the zemindary would be held free of revenue. This grant to Lord Clive with succession to the Company was made by a perwanneh from the Soubahdar of Bengal. Lastly, on the 12th August 1765, the grant was completed by the Emperor's firman, which at the same time confirmed the Company in the zemindary as above-mentioned.?
We have seen that the Company had been allowed to acquire the talook of Calcutta and some neighbouring villages. In 1717 the revenue of the talook was fixed, and the Company confirmed in the talook by a firman from the Emperor Farokshir: and in 1758 the port and city of Calcutta were made lakhiraj, or free of revenue, in the hands of the Company; the remission of revenue being made by an instrument under the dewanny authority, which specified the public grounds on which the revenue was remitted. The Company at the same time were required to compensate and indemnify all other persons interested in the revenue.' The Company had thus acquired by the year 1765 all the rights in the revenue of the Twenty-four
See the sunnud and firman in Aitchison's Treaties, Vol. I (Appendix).
* Harington's Analysis, Vol. I, 5. Fifth Report, Vol. I, 487.
• Harington's Analysis, Vol. I, 3. Fifth Report, Vol. I, 488. See the sunnuds in Aitchison's Treaties, Vol. I, 25.
Pergunnahs and of Calcutta and its villages; and was in LECTURE the same relation with the cultivators as the State was when, instead of employing any intermediate agency, it collected its revenue direct, or as it is called khas. Consequently, the acquisition of the dewanny, which took place at the same time, caused no alteration in their position, except the addition of the sovereign powers delegated to the dewan. We find it stated that the principles of the native system were maintained in a greater degree in these districts than anywhere else under English rule :1 and this is accounted for by the easy transition to complete sovereignty which took place. I have mentioned the acquisition of the revenues of the Acquisition of
Burdwan, chucklahs of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong. I may Midnapore, and
Chittagong as well give briefly the details. In 1760 the English had resolved to displace Meer Jaffier from the position in which they had placed him; and by a treaty of the 27th September of that year, it was agreed between the Company and Meer Mahomed Cossim Khan that the latter should succeed to the Soubahdary of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, and that the Company's forces should hold themselves ready to assist the new Soubahdar in all his affairs, and that in return the chucklahs of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong should be assigned to the Company to defray all charges of the Company and its forces, including provisions for the field. Cossim Khan after his elevation carried out this treaty, and by his sunnuds granted the revenues of these districts to the Company; specifying as the condition of the grant that the Company was to maintain troops thereout for the protection of the State. By these sunnuds
· Fifth Report, Vol. I, 489.