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East India Company, Job Charnock & Baranagar


 
 

East India Company, Job Charnock & Baranagar

Voice-over: Jayanta Baksi

I

Let’s start with a latest report published in The Times of India, Saturday, 30th January 2010, Kolkata. The heading of the report was “Cannon found in sewer line”. The story was revealed as follows:

The civic workers while dig out sewer lines, a Canon was found from a malodorous, clogged municipal sewer line at Jyotinagar Colony near Sarbamangala  Ghat  of  north Kolkata, located on Strand Bank Road near Baranagar.

The cannon had been lying as worthlessness of darkness under 12 feet beneath the soil, whose correct age is unidentified. 10 feet of length with an outer diameter of 9 inches & an inner diameter of 5 inches Canon was seized by the security personnel of North Port Police Station.

A civic official addressed that prior to take away the dirt; initially they were unable to make out the reality. However, to categorize in a proper way, the Canon will be scrutinize by the specialist of Archaeological Survey of India on Saturday. It seems centuries old nevertheless, only the experts may reveal the fact.

A cannon expert of the Indian Army remarks after conclusion of preliminary examination of the rusty & robust article (Canon) that there is no noticeable crack or break on the Canon, looks to be more than 100 years old muzzle-loading Canon, nevertheless, to be certain they require proper scrutiny.  

On & after observing the photograph of the Canon, other expert Sri.Pranab Chattopadhyay comments that it appears similar to a 250 years old European Canon, most probably of British. There should be a batch number embossed on it, if it is an origin of British.

Eminent historian Barun De said that the cannon could help establish the fact that the Baranagar area was used to be a Dutch settlement before the British arrived in Kolkata. According to him, The Dutch had a settlement in the Baranagar area; even they had a piggery there & prevent probable enemy attack & strengthening the security along the riverfront. Thus it is likely that this canon was employed to protect the Dutch settlement at Baranagar region.

According to the opinion of Sri.Barun De, if it can be proved that the Canon indeed belongs to the pre-British era, the existence of the Dutch settlement at Baranagar area will also be categorically confirmed.

Excellent observation & comments were made by the experts. The Canon may or may not be to the pre-British era, even if it is proved that the canon was not of the Dutch too, the establishment of Dutch in Baranagar area can’t be denied. There were lots of evidences through which it was established earlier that prior to British, the entire Baranagar area was under the direct control of Dutch. That particular Canon may include as another evidence of the Dutch settlement at Baranagar, even for the control of British at Baranagar too. But, ‘categorically confirmation’ will not at all depends only upon the Canon.

Now, prior to dig out the myriad legend, just have a look at the “[‘Map of India’ in early 17th Century at the time of Hawkins & Sir Thomas Roe after Portuguese]”. Here you may notice Moghul Empire, Tributary Chiefs & Portuguese Possessions evidently.

 ‘Map of India’ in early 17th Century at the time of Hawkins & Sir Thomas Roe after Portuguese

[‘Map of India’ in early 17th Century at the time of Hawkins & Sir Thomas Roe after Portuguese]”

Now let’s go to watch those scenarios in a flash-back mode! It may be fascinating to reminder about the pay package given to the personnel of the East India Company at the time of 1757 [Just consider the year]:- Hon’ble Roger Drake, Esq., received £200 per annum; Captain Rev. Mr. Cobbe £50; Senior merchants £40; Junior merchants £30; Factors £15; Doctors £36; Writers £5 per annum. These payments were paid in every 6 months interval. Apart from salaries, perquisites system was also there; hence the delay in the receipts of their remuneration was not so problematic. Apart from regular salary & allowance, they also gain more profitable earnings from personal trading.

The English factories were first founded by the British prior to the year of 1690 and a significant urbanization had sprung up around those foundations.

 

Another vital point to be noted: In the year of 1717, The British East India Company acquired 38 villages and added these countryside regions to their property in Calcutta. Later they reconstituted them as 55 villages or Mouzas (Panchannogram). Cossipore was one of those villages. H. E. A. Cotton writes, “The Cossipore Reach was one of the finest on the river, and is lined by a number of villa residences.”[1]

From those days Cossipore had a number of industrial entities. The Government Gun Foundry, the Snider and Rifle Shell factories (originally constructed by Colonel Hutchinson), Sugar mills and Jute screw houses.

Cossipore (Bengali) (also spelt Cossipur, Kashipur) is a region of north Kolkata (previously famous as Calcutta), in the Indian state of West Bengal (presently Paschimbanga). Cossipore is one of the old localities of the metropolis, it has a police station and is an assembly constituency. Entally, Manicktala, Beliaghata, Ultadanga, Chitpur, Cossipore, parts of Beniapukur, Ballygunge, Watganj and Ekbalpur, and parts of Garden Reach and Tollygunj were added to Kolkata Municipal Corporation in 1888.[2]

Cossipore Gun and Shell Factory was set up in the year of 1802 A.D. The more than two centuries old Gun and Shell Factory at Cossipore is the oldest surviving factory in the Indian subcontinent, then known as “GUN CARRIAGE AGENCY, COSSIPORE”.

Land was purchased in 1801 from one Mr.Thorn Hill measuring about 200 Bighas, on the bank of river Gangesto construct “Gun Carriage Agency, Cossipore”. Constructed in the form of tile shed at the centre and surrounded by some thatched sheds was completed in 1802 and production of Wooden Gun Carriage, started on 18th March, 1802. This day is the auspicious day for the entire Organization and celebrated as ‘Ordnance Factory Day’ every year. [3]

After shifting of the “Gun Carriage Agency, Cossipore” first to Allahabadin 1814, and then to Fatehgarh in 1816, its importance & impact was reduced. Finally in 1829, all the machineries, tools & tackles were shifted to Fatehgarh.

Nevertheless, it had the strength of springing back to life again and again. The vacant space was utilized for the much-needed expansion and renovation of the Gun Factory of Fort William. [4]

Picture of “Gun Carriage Agency, Cossipore” [Gun and Shell Factory at Cossipore] of that era

Picture of “Gun Carriage Agency, Cossipore” [Gun and Shell Factory at Cossipore] of that era.

Around 1855, breech-loading steel rifled guns had got its way to the British arsenal, but the Cossipore plant was not properly equipped to undertake manufacturing of such guns. The mini-bullet factory was transferred to Dumdum [Ordnance Factory, Dumdum] [At this time this area was under the direct administrative control of Baranagar Police Station, which was situated on the bank ofGangaat Kuthi Ghat, Harakumar Tagore Strand].

The rifled guns, imported from England, required new elongated shells. It was decided that Cossipore would be utilized for manufacturing of the new shells. It underwent some expansion and the name ‘Gun Foundry’ was changed to ‘Foundry and Shell Factory’ in 1872. Along with the manufacturing of new elongated shell, there was requirement of undertaking manufacturing of modern fuses and cartridges to match the newly introduced breech-loading guns. As a result, supplementary growth, development & expansion took place in 1887 and 1890. [4]

In 1890, a shop was erected for the manufacture and repair of fittings of imported breech-loading guns. In 1892, steel was, for the first time casted inIndia[in modern era], at Cossipore by a Siemen’s Martin Open Hearth Plant. In 1896, a rolling mill was erected at this time. However, the metallurgical units were shifted to Ishapore [District of 24Pgs-North] in 1903 as no additional space for expansion was available at Cossipore.

II 

Prior to the period of “Gun Carriage Agency, Cossipore”, another episode alluded to is said to have happened on the banks of the Hooghly about the year 1678…..Yes, the episode of Streynsham Master & at Baranagar:

 

The Dutch mynheers Streynsham Master was one of the early pioneers of the British East India Company. Master served as the Agent of Madras from 27th January 1678 to 03rd July 1681 A.D., and he is credited with having introduced the first administrative reforms in the Madras Government.

Streynsham Master [1640 – 1724]

Streynsham Master, Preceded by Sir William Langhorne, 1st Baronet & Succeeded by William Gyfford. Streynsham served as the Acting President of the Company’s factory at Surat (Gujrat) during the visit of the President Aungier to the new colony at Bombay. After the return of Aungier, Master served for a few times as a member of the Council. In 1670 he led the British in the successful defense of Surat from the Marathas.

In 1676, even before Langhorne’s removal from power, in advance Master was nominated as the next Agent of Madras in the case of Emergency. In the meantime, till the end of Langhorne’s tenure, Master served as the Agent of the Company’s factory at Masulipatnam and then Bengal, before he was sent back to Madrasto take “in-charge of office” as the second member of the Council.

The foundations of St Mary’s church, the oldest Protestant church in Madras were laid during the Agency of Streynsham Master. The foundation of the church was laid on Lady Day, 1678. The construction of the church was completed in two and a half years and opened on 28th October, 1680.

The population of Madrashad augmented to the point that it seemed difficult to retain the old Choultry courts. Hence, in 1678, the Government of Fort St George set up a judiciary with the Agent and the members of the Council as judges. Two English Choultry judges were appointed to hear cases concerning their Indian subjects.

Specimen Signature of Streynsham Master

Master is credited with having introduced the role of a scavenger who was required to remove the dirt and filth of the streets. Collection of the house-tax and other taxes from the citizen were also empowered by Scavengers. At night, Watchmen were too appointed to protect the settlement. Hotels, Theatres, Taverns, Entertainment-houses etc. had to be licensed.

Richard Master of East Langham, Kent was the father of Streynsham Master. Streynsham married Elizabeth Leigh of Lyme Hall, Cheshire with whom he had a daughter and two sons. In 1692 he procured the Codnor Castleestate in Derbyshire. He served as High Sheriff of that county in 1712. Master and his wife resided at Stanley Grange in Morley.

  • In the 17th Century the Dutch mynheers Streynsham Master had homes at Baranagar.

 

  • Streynsham Master he who visited Baranagar area in 1676 & uttered about the hog factory where about 3,000 hogs a year were slaughtered and salted for export.

 

  • Later Baranagar became the centre for the extensive jute trade, manufacturing gunny bags.

 

  • But, it is completely wrong concept that from slaughtering of hog (as in Bengali the ‘Baraha’ is demarcated for Hog, though, not only ‘Hog’, various religious objects are also being indicated through the word ‘Baraha’ in Bengali) the particular area was christened as “Baranagar”.

 

III

Out of several old epitaphs in Calcutta [Kolkata] that of the founder of “City of Joy” Calcutta — the most honored Job Charnock, *** who is briefly described by ‘Orme’ as a man of bravery, without military understanding, but eager to capture revenge on a Government, from which he had in person received the most embarrassing activities, having been imprisoned and terrorized by the Nawab.

[***However, according to the Court order of Calcutta High Court, the foundation day of Calcutta on 24th August, 1690 by Job Charnock was cancelled on 16th May, 2003].

Captain Hamilton traveled in this country at the time of Charnock, states that Charnock was terrific vindictive in the conduct with the natives.  But, who was this Hamilton? Well, to be acquainted with more information about Hamilton, we will have to discuss a different episode, which is related with Music.

  • The All Bengal Music Conference was initiated by Sri.Bhupendra Krishna along with some associates such as Natore’s Maharaja Jogindranath Roy etc.
  • Bhupendra Krishna Ghosh’s ancestor Ramlochun Ghosh had bought a house including music room at 46 Pathuriaghata Street, Calcutta in October 18, 1782.
  • The plot on which Ramlochun’s house stands formerly belonged to Charles Hamilton and according to the ‘title suit’ of the Privy Council, it was proved that ‘Charles Hamilton’ was the ‘Zamindar’ of that time.
  • It was also documented in the ancient paper book of the Privy Council that how the plot was handed over from Charles Hamilton to Greedhur Dutt; from Greedhur Dutt to Rasmonee Dosse [Eternally Living Legend as Rani Rasmoni, Founder of famous Dakshineswar Kali Mandir].

Amongst the first inhabitants of Sutanuti [Sutanuti was one of the three villages that formed the nucleus of Calcutta] Sri.Gobind Bysack appeared to be the owner from Rani Rasmoni and Bysack vended it to Bulloram Dutt, and lastly it was procured by Sri.Ramlochun Ghosh. Ramlochun also procured an adjoining plot from Nurrohurry Dutt.

In the later phase, the grandson of Ramlochan Ghosh, Khelat Chandra Ghosh (1829-1878) shifted out of the nearly 300 year’s old family house at 46 Pathuriaghata Street & constructed a luxurious house at 47 Pathuriaghata Street in 1850–1855 A.D. Pathuriaghata area was one of the strongest monopolies of aristocrat Bengalis of that time.

Now, let’s come to the point of our so called discussion:

"Plan for the intelligence of the military operations at Calcutta, when Attacked and Taken by Seerajah Dowlet, 1756"

You may observe the above map containing “Plan for the intelligence of the military operations at Calcutta, when Attacked and Taken by Seerajah Dowlet, 1756,” of John Call & J.Cheevers, London, 1756. It was a well known episode of Seraj Dowllah & British, which was occurred 255 years back from this day. Hence, if it is confirmed that the aforesaid canon is about 250 years old, then devoid of such map of ‘Military Intelligence’ how one may establish the presence of Dutch settlement in Baranagar?

A Map of Hindoostan 1788 By James Rennell

 Regarding Rennell, we will discuss later however, give pleasure to grant your valuable glance right now.

India Before Wellesley – 1795

You may scrutinize a different authenticate map containing “India Before Wellesley – 1795”. It is clearly mentioned & fairly visible from this map that not only Baranagar but also the entire Bengal & Bihar areas of that time were theterritoryofBritish.

Here, I am producing a few maps which may fascinate your reading.

Map of Calcutta from actual survey in the years of 1847-1849

It’s  a ‘Map of Calcutta from actual survey in the years of 1847-1849’

By Frederick Walter Simms

Note: The suburbs of the town are from surveys subsequently furnished by Major H.L. Thuillier; executed by himself & Captain R. Smyth; reduced and engraved by J. and C. Walker. Note: East is at the top of the map    

Please note that these maps are arranged according to the time of publication or time of Historical events.

A French Map of  Calcutta - 1839

A French Map of  “Calcutta” – 1839 Map credited to Dufour and Benard, published by Rouard. Note: East is at the top of the Map.        

Plan of the City of Calcutta – 1883

            Plan of the City of Calcutta – 1883

           Note: East is at the top of the map

We are discussing about Job Charnock. Let’s come to the point of our so called chatting. Captain Hamilton traveled in this countryside at the time of Charnock and remark that Charnock behaved with the native with a terrific cruel mode. On the other hand, Job Charnock was not been very rigorous with all natives; specially with the attractive & youthful Hindu widow, whom he rescued as she was about to become Sati, and appropriated to himself.

Satidaha Ghat, Baranagar

                                      Satidaha Ghat, Baranagar

Charnock appears to have affectionately loved whilst living, and according to Captain Hamilton, deeply mourned when dead, sacrificing a fowl, it is said, at her tomb on every anniversary of her death as long as he lived, which would appear to show that she must have become a Moslem when she was cast out from the pale of Hindooism; and this is likely enough, for the natives prefer to belong to any caste rather than to none.

We must not pass over the romantic incidents in the life of Job Charnock which was described by “Joseph Townshend” a Pilot of the Ganges, [bears a date subsequent to the 17th century, the 24th June 1738] he who revealed in his ‘rhyme’ as follows: —

“I’ve slipped my cable, messmates, I’m dropping down with the tide;

I have my sailing orders while ye at anchor ride.

And never, on fair June morning, have I put out to sea.

With clearer conscience, or better hope, or heart more light and free.

 

Shoulder to shoulder, Joe my boy, into the crowd like a wedge!

Out with the hangers, messmates, but do not strike with the edge!

Cries Charnock, ‘Scatter the faggots? Double that Brahmin in two!

The tall pale widow is mine, Joe, the little brown girl’s for you.’

 

Young Joe (you’re nearing sixty) why is your hide so dark!

Katie has fair soft blue eyes — who blackened yours? Why hark?

The morning gun. Ho steady. The arquebuses to me;

I’ve sounded the Dutch High Admiral’s heart as my lead doth sound the sea.

 

Sounding, sounding theGanges— floating down with the tide.

Moor me close by Charnock, next to my nut-brown bride.

My blessing to Kate at Fairlight — Holwell, my thanks to you.

Steady! – We steer for Heaven through scud drifts cold and blue.”

What ever may be about the so called  ‘rhyme’,  it may be good or may be bad in taste to describe, but we are unfolding the history. History is completely helpless to satisfy one’s ego.

Then, let’s move toward & previous to 1684-1685, the trade of the Company in Bengal had been subject matter to regular turbulence from the wish of the Viceroy. The seat of the Factory was at Hooghly, and then the port of Bengal, which was ruled by the Fouzdar [Mohammedan Officer] with huge troops to control & commanding the utmost power of that particular place.

Thus Company’s officers had no means of resisting offense & the Company’s dealing was entirely depended upon the sympathy of Fouzdar. In Bombay & Madras lands & settlements as well as Company’s business were well equipped under their command but in Bengal they were not capable to obtain similar control rather constantly receiving hindrances.

Undoubtedly, the Court of Directors were worried to obtain the equivalent autonomy from Bengal &  always reminded of the drawbacks. As a result, they instructed their president to claim of the Nawab and through Nawab, the Great Mogul to grant of territory where they might set up warehouses and enhance security for self defense.

While these demand was under consideration, the oppression of the native government brought matters to a point. The Contractors, at Cossimbazar, were Rs.1,00,000.50 in debt to the Company’s agents, and rejected to deliver new supplies for the investment speculation without a fresh advance of same amount. Charnock declined to comply with the commanding demand. According to the request of contractors Nawab decided in their favor.

Charnock still remained firm. An extremely inflated representation of the situation was propelled to the Emperor of the disobediences of the British. All their trade was at once blocked, and their vessels were sent away mostly in vacant.

When the essence of such information reached to England, the Company discussed the state of affairs to James The II. To establish by force  &  to control, the monarch approved & declared for warfare against the Great Mogul.

Accordingly British sent out a huge armor under Captain Nicholson, consisting of 10 ships, of  from 12 to 70 guns  &  additionally 6 companies of  infantry at the same time. The Directors ordered their officers to augment the strength of Chittagong  with  200 [Two Hundred] pieces of canon, and create the area as settlement in favor of  business and to capture the Capital – Dacca, troops ought to march up against the Dacca– however the plan was never carried out.

But in actual, only a part of the British convoy arrived at Hooghly; however while the president was waiting for relaxes; an annoyance was caused by 3 soldiers on 28th October 1686, at Hooghly and which transfer on a common meeting.

According to the order of Captain Nicholson the town (read Calcutta or Kolkata) was charged with massive bombing together with violence, resulting 500 houses destroyed completely by fire & out of  fear and to expand the time, Fouzdar solicit for a treaty. As  Hooghly was an open township, the Company’s officers set on to drag and throw the town & reproduced their position during the treaty.

  • On the other hand, in spite to obey the orders, soldiers had received from home of proceeding to Chittagong, they retired to Chuttanuttee, a little below the Dutch factory at  Baranagore, where they landed on the 20th November 1686.
  • The English / British flag was for the first time placed in the spot destined to turn into the capital of a great empire & crafted for a potential history of the sub-continent, which was not apprehended at that time.

[Spelling & lingo’s are mostly untouched to sustain the magic charm of that era – Jayanta Baksi]

 

References & Further Reading:

1. Cotton, H.E.A.,CalcuttaOld and New, 1909/1980, p. 221, General Printers and Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

2. Bagchi, Amiya Kumar, Wealth and Work inCalcutta, 1860-1921, inCalcutta, theLivingCity, Vol. I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, p. 213, Oxford University Press.

3. “Gun & Shell Factory Cossipore”; Bicentenary Calendar 1802 – 2002.

4. “Two Centuries of Guns and Shells”. Sainik Samachar.

5. Sen, Ajit, Ancholik Etihas – Baranagar.

Email: jayanta.baksi@rediffmail.com

 

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