Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

96 THE HINDOO ZEMINDAR.

Lkcturk zemindar might be a convenient instrument. But whether iv. 6

— these conjectures are of any value or not, it is positively

alleged that there were in Hindoo times hereditary officers corresponding to the zemindar, but that they were only officials, although hereditary.1 The name itself seems to have been little used, if at all; and the precise period at which it was introduced cannot be ascertained. There were certain cultivating brahmins in early times called bhuinhars, or boomees, and sometimes zemindars: the two names being synonymous in meaning and indicating some connexion with the land.2 In Orissa the name was applied to the killadars, or feudal fort-holders, and to the holders of one or more pergunnahs of the royal domain.3 The name, like everything else connected with the zemindar and his functions, has been the subject of considerable controversy. It has been considered on the one hand to imply an absolute proprietary right, and to be almost equivalent to the English word 'landlord.' On the other hand its meaning has been limited to a mere connexion of some sort with the soil without implying any particular rights.* The controversy is, however, probably of less importance at present, since few will be satisfied to attribute to the zemindars the large rights claimed by them upon any arguments based upon the name alone. Growth of the I have already pointed out the way in which the zemindar may have grown up and become powerful. Having grown out of the ancient rajahs, native leaders, and robber

1 Patton's Asiatic Monarchies, 166. Fifth Report, Vol. II, 7.

• Orissa, Vol. I, 244, 247, 248, 264. Harington's Analysis, Vol. III, 240 (note).

'Orissa, Vol. II, 225. Galloway's Law and Constitution of India, 27. Hamilton's Analysis, Vol. III, 314.

THE ZEMINDARY HEREDITARY. 97

chiefs, and out of the various revenue officers, both ancient Lectur*

IV.

and modern, including the headmen and farmers of the — revenue,1 they acquired in course of time a right to collect the revenue of districts varying in size, sometimes consisting of a village or two, and sometimes of a large tract of country. They generally tended to displace the ancient revenue collectors, whether headmen or rajahs, and to absorb their privileges.

The office was an hereditary one, in later times at any The office

hereditary,

rate. This hereditary character is said to have been derived from the Hindoo system, together with the office itself.2 I have already endeavoured to describe the struggle between opposing ideas which appears to have taken place: the object of the Government being to keep the zemindars in the position of mere officers. We shall see still more of this struggle in Jaffier Khan's time : and it was not, according to Mr. Grant, until after that period that the zemindars were recognized as hereditary: this took place after Nadir Shah's invasion of A. D. 1739.3 It is however said that a jungleboory zemindary or one which had gone to waste and had been restored to cultivation was always considered hereditary in the family of the new holder; possibly on the ground that, by cultivating the waste, the new occupant acquired a proprietary right independent of his official right.4

The view which I have endeavoured to explain, that the Conflict ol office was held as an office by persons cherishing hereditary claims, appears to me to go far towards reconciling the some

1 Ante, Lecture II.

* Campbell's Cobden Club Essay, 169, 226. Rouse's Dissertations, 71. Patton's Asiatic Monarchies, 81. Harington's Analysis, Vol. III, 340, 342, 355, 356, 360. Orissa, Vol. II, 228.

• Fifth Report, Vol. II, 156.

4 Rouse's Dissertations, 51, 56. Harington's Annlyai', Vol. III, 353.

n

98 THE ZEMINDARY AN OFFICE.

Lkcturk what conflicting authorities upon the question as to the here—- ditary character of the office. Mr. Grant says '* that a possessive tenure of certain subordinate territorial jurisdictions called zemindaries, in virtue of a sunnud or written grant, determinable necessarily with the life of the grantee, or at the pleasure of the sovereign representative, is universally vested in certain natives, called zemindars, that is, technically holders of land, merely as farmers-general or contractors for the annual rents of Government."1 This passage appears to have reference to the original nature of the zemindar's office; as Mr. Grant himself states that, in the confusion of later times, the zemindars assumed, and the Government recognized, an hereditary right in the office.2 Another author says that the office of zemindar "could not be claimed as hereditary, though by long custom, and perhaps out of policy, the children of deceased contractors were very generally admitted as successors to their parents; they were not however in all cases appointed, and sometimes were ousted;" the ground of forfeiture being usually specified in the new sunnud. The ground specified was generally robbery, or protection of robbers.3 And Sir W. Boughton Rouse says that the Government used formerly to sequester the zemindary on the death of a zemindar; but that afterwards it became a custom for his children to succeed.4 On the other hand the authorities already cited maintain that the zemindar had hereditary rights. Amongst others Mr. Francis, in a plan of settlement dated the 22nd. of January 1776, asserts that "the land is the hereditary

1 Harington's Analysis, Vol. III, 361.

» Fifth Report, Vol. II, 156.

3 Land Tenure by a Civilian, 72.

* Dissertations, 53 to 55, 70, 71.

THE ZEMINDAR A PROPRIETOR. 99

property of the zemindar. He holds it by the law of the Lkcturk country on the tenure of paying a certain contribution to — Government." And again, " the inheritable quality of the lands is alone sufficient to prove that they are the property of the zemindars, talookdars, and others, to whom they have descended by a long course of inheritance."1 The larger zemindaries are moreover said to have descended by primogeniture, while the smaller ones were divided ;e a fact which has already been noticed, and which seems to point to the true origin of a zemindar of this class; that he either grew out of the rajah, or was originally an official whose office could only be conveniently exercised by a single individual. The Royroyan says:—" The zemindars of a middle and inferior rank, such as those of Mohummudameenpore, Surfrazpore, &c., and the talookdars and muzkoories at large hold their lands to this day solely by virtue of inheritance; whereas the superior zemindars, such as those of Burdwan, Nuddea, Dinagepore, &c., after succeeding to their zemindaries on the ground of inheritance, are accustomed to receive, on the payment of a nuzzeranah, peshcush, &c., a dewanny sunnud from Government. In former times the zemindars of Bishenpore, Pachete, Beerbhoom, and Roshunabad used to succeed, in the first instance, by the right of inheritance, and by the established practice of their respective families; and to solicit afterwards, as a matter of course, a confirmation from the ruling power."3 It is also stated that the express consent of Government was required for the succession of an adopted son.*

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

100

STRUGGLE FOR HEREDITARY RIGHT.

Lkcturk
IV.

Struggle
between
opposing
principles.

If there was the struggle which I have suggested between the hereditary principle of the Hindoo system and the anti-hereditary1 principle of the Mahomedan, we can understand the Mahomedan Government insisting upon the recognition of its theory, that the zemindary was an office. by the acceptance of a sunnud, at least in the case of the principal zemindars: and it shows which was the stronger of the opposing principles from the first, that the smaller zemindars seem never to have in practice recognized the official theory, even to the extent of applying for a sunnud. No doubt, until the hereditary element was on the way to triumph, these hereditary claims could not be asserted; but whether originally incidents of the office, or derived from the general Hindoo system, these claims were so persistent that the opposing theories of the Mahomedans fell into decay, and the zemindar ultimately succeeded as by right of inheritance; only going through the form in some cases of receiving a sunnud and paying peshcush.2 The same result, of hereditary succession with formal recognition, might, it is true, equally follow in the case of an office becoming hereditary which was originally not so; but in this case there is some reason to think that the hereditary tendency of the office was derived from the Hindoo system; and it is difficult to explain otherwise the triumph of the hereditary principle in a system opposed to it.

The zemindar thus became, in the way I have described, and by a kind of usurpation, an hereditary officer, with a right to engage with the Government for the payment of revenue on the one hand; and on the other hand, with a right to collect the Government share of the produce, and to

The zemindar an hereditary revenue contractor.

1 Campbell's Cobden Club Essay, 152. 'Harington's Analysis, Vol. III, 340.

« ПредишнаНапред »