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1630 (a): The Great Famine, year 11630 map
Documented causes: drought + war
Documented effects: cannibalism; misdirected Imperial relief effort

"The history of India : as told by its own historians. The Muhammadan period" (vol. VII, 1877)
p24: Abdu'l Hamid Lahori "Badshah-Nama": 1040 A.H. [1630-1 CE]
… "During the past year no rain had fallen in the territories of the Balaghat, and the drought had been especially severe about Daulatabad. In the present year also there had been a deficiency in the bordering countries, and a total want in the Dakhin and Gujarat. The inhabitants of these two countries were reduced to the direst extremity. Life was offered for a loaf, but none would buy; rank was to be sold for a cake, but none cared for it; the ever-bounteous hand was now stretched out to beg for food; and the feet which had always trodden the way of contentment walked about only in search of sustenance. For a long time dog's flesh was sold for goat's flesh, and the pounded bones of the dead were mixed with flour and sold. When this was discovered, the sellers were brought to justice. Destitution at length reached such a pitch that men began to devour each other, and the flesh of a son was preferred to his love. The numbers of the dying caused obstructions in the roads, and every man whose dire sufferings did not terminate in death and who retained the power to move wandered off to the towns and villages of other countries. Those lands which had been famous for their fertility and plenty now retained no trace of productiveness. * * * The Emperor in his gracious kindness and bounty directed the officials of Burhanpur, Ahmadabad, and the country of Surat, to establish soup kitchens, or alms-houses, such as are called langar in the language of Hindustan, for the benefit of the poor and destitute. Every day sufficient soup and bread was prepared to satisfy the wants of the hungry. It was further ordered that so long as His Majesty remained at Burhanpur 5000 rupees should be distributed among the deserving poor every Monday, that day being distinguished above all others as the day of the Emperor's accession to the throne. Thus, on twenty Mondays one lac of rupees was given away in charity. Ahmadabad ['Inayat Khan "The Shah Jahan nama of 'Inayat Khan" (trans. A.R. Fuller et al., 1990) adds: "and Gujarat"] had suffered more severely than any other place, and so His Majesty ordered the officials to distribute 50,000 rupees among the famine-stricken people. Want of rain and dearness of grain had caused great distress in many other countries. So under the directions of the wise and generous Emperor taxes amounting to nearly seventy lacs of rupees were remitted by the revenue officers — a sum amounting to nearly eighty krors of dams, and amounting to one-eleventh part of the whole revenue. When such remissions were made from the exchequer, it may be conceived how great were the reductions made by the nobles who held jagirs and mansabs. "
Lieut. Col. A.T. Etheridge, "Report on Past Famines in the Bombay Presidency" (1868) [Reports collected by local officials in all districts]
p39 [Ahmedabad, by Acting Collector Borradaile, from "records of the former Padshahee Dewan"]: "The year Hijree 1040, A.D. 1623 [recte 1630/1], known as the 'Satyasee.' The distress is described as having been very great, and it is stated that the people were driven to cannibalism. The account of this famine is, however, chiefly interesting, as being the only one which records any measures of relief adopted by Governments previous to our own. The following extract from the account is a sufficient and close translation, and shows also the extent of country affected by the calamity:-
'Orders were issued by the Badshah to the Deputies at Ahmedabad, Surat and Burhanpoor, in accordance with which Lungurkhanas were opened, at which sufficient food was distributed to meet all wants. The Badshah, being of opinion that the people of this part of Goozerat suffered more than others, issued another order to the Dewan of the Soubah to distribute to the people here Rs. 50,000 from the Royal Treasury. The famine arose from want of rain, and the ryots being much distressed the Badshah assisted them both this year and the next, with land and money, taken from his own (Khalsa villages).'
Peter Mundy "The travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667" (vol. 2, 1914)
p38 [Mundy left Surat for Agra on 11 November 1630]: The begininge of the greate Famine
About the tyme of our departure for Agra began a Famine, the Secondary cawse thereof the want of rayne this last Season, and much feared will prove very greivous, poore people begininge to die for want of Sustenance. God shewe mercie on all men.

p39: Wee departed from Suratt att eveninge, and that night came to Cumwarra, where wee mett, as wee expected, one Mirza Mahmud Saphee, a Persian, travellinge to Brampore to the Kinge, unto whome the President had recommended us for our better safetye and accomodation in soe hazardous a tyme; for there was a great famine begun, causeinge the highwayes to be as it were unpassable for Theeves and others whoe infested it, not so much for desire of riches as for graine etts. Food. [Thanks to a shared loathing of the Roman Catholic Church, the British at this time tended to get on quite amicably with Muslims]
[14 Nov] Wee came to Kirka, a poore Towne, halfe burnt upp and almost voyd of Inhabitants, the most part fledd, the rest dead, lyeing in the Streets and on the Tombes. ... Heere were the bancks of a faire River, but the water neere dryed upp.
[16 Nov] ... wee came to Dayta ... In this place the men and weomen were driven to that extremitie from want of food that they sold their Children for 12d, 6d and [blank] pence a peece; yea, and to give them away to any that would take them, with manye thancks, that soe they might preserve them alive, although they were sure never to see them againe.
[18 Nov] ... wee came to Netherbarre, a greate place, where wee were much troubled to finde a roome convenient for our little Tent, by reason of the number of dead bodyes that lay scattered in and about the Towne. At last wee tooke up our lodginge amonge the Tombes. ...
[19 Nov] Here wee stayed all day, where Mirza supplied himselfe with some needfull provision for his Companye, there being to be had here, although att unreasonable rates. All this day our noses were infested and our bodyes almost infected with a most noysome smell, which after search, wee found to come from a great pitt, wherein were throwne 30 or 40 persons, men, weomen and children, old and younge confusedly tumbled in together without order or Coveringe, a miserable and most undecent spectacle. Noe lesse lamentable was it to see the poore people scrapeinge on the dunghills for food, yea in the very excrements of beasts, as horses, oxen, etts. belonginge to Travellers, for graine that perchaunce might come undigested from them, and that with great greedienesse and strife among themselves, generallie lookeinge like annatomies [i.e. all the bones identifiable under their skin], with life, but scarse strength enough to remove themselves from under mens feete, amny of them expireinge, others newe dead. This was their estate in every Streete and Corner; And from Suratt to this place (in a manner) all the high way was strowed with dead people, Our noses never free of the Stinck of them, especially about Townes; for they dragg them out by the heeles starke naked, of all ages and sexes, till they are out of the gates, and there they are lefte, soe that the way is half barred upp. Thus it was for the most part hitherto.
[20 Nov] ... (Limbgoore [Nimgul]) ... arriveinge here in Twilight, there were 3 carts Cutt of from the Caphila [convoy untill our arrivall att Brampoore.] by theeves in the reare, and carried cleane away, the people escapeinge but not without wounds. ... att our comeinge out of Suratt, Mirza and all his people, our selves and all the Strangers that came with us from thence were not in all 150 persons and about 15 or 20 Carts with some Cammells. And now I thinck there were noe lesse then 17 or 1800 people and 250 or 300 carts, besides Oxen and Buffaloes of burthen. For the Countrie, hearinge of our Comeinge this waye, resolved, for their better securitie to take hold of this oppertunitie to save their lives by avoydinge the famine and repaireinge to places of better releife. Soe that as wee passed their Townes, they dayly joyned to us by multitudes, and likely soe to continue untill our arrivall att Brampoore.
[several more attacks from bandits over the next few days]
[23 Nov] Wee passed through a Towne called Firpoore, about which all the high waies were soe full of dead bodyes, that wee could hardly passe from them without treadinge on or goeinge over some, and from thence to Talnear all the way strewed with them.
[25 Nov] ... Chopra ... The Bazaree or Markett was prettie well furnished with provision both for horse and man, which was a great ease to our mindes. Neverthelesse the people lay dead upp and downe the streets.
[26 Nov] ... (Rawood [Adavad]) where the people were neere all dead and fledd, soe that there was little to be hadd.
[27 Nov] Wee proceeded to Bewaly [Byaval], a bigg Towne with a great although ruynated Castle. This was the first place about which wee saw any fruitefullnesse, heere beinge feilds of Paan or Beetle [betel], Sugar Canes and Beares, a fruite as bigg as a Damson ...
[28 Nov] ... Navee ... Heere in the midle of the Bazaree lay people new dead and others breathing their last with the food almost att their mouthes, yett dyed for want of it, they not haveinge wherewith to buy, nor the others so much pittie to spare them any without money (there being no course taken in this Country to remedie this great evill, the rich and stronge engrossinge and takeinge perforce all to themselves).
[29 Nov] ... Baderpore, a learge Towne with a faire streete or twoe and a plentifull Bazare. ...
[30 Nov] ... the Cittie of Brampore ... The Bazare or markett place which joynes to the Castle is very faire and spacious, and now, by reason of the Kinges beinge heere, plentifully stored with all provisions, beinge supplied with all thinges from all parts, farr and neere, which otherwise, it may bee believed, would feele the same Calamitie with her Neighbour Townes, for there is litle or nothinge growes neere it for many miles. ...
[6 Dec: after thanking Mirza Mahmud Saphee for all his kindness, Mundy's party left Brampore]
[7 Dec] Now in our Journieinge (Burghkeesara), wee began to bee freed from the sadd Spectacle of dead men, but their places were supplyed by innumerable Carkases of dead beasts, as Elephants, Cammells, horses, Buffaloes, Oxen, etts. but the greatest number were of Cammells.
[9 Dec] By the way hither (Cheanpore), wee conceive it had rayned, for there was appearance of grasse, but burnt upp againe with the Sunne. All the waie from Suratt gates (or as I may say from the English Garden there), wee seldom sawe any grasse or greene thinge till wee came hither. ... Att this Towne there seemes to have bene a faire goodly River, now dried upp, only some standing pooles in the Channell.
[10 Dec] The Countrie now began to shew it selfe with a litle better countenance than hetherto. The small Townes and villages as wee passed were stored with graine in the streets or Bazares, And all the way as wee went wee met with many thousands of Oxen laiden with Corne goieing for Brampore.
[14 Dec] ... Eechahore ... This day wee mett with may Bannjares, which are great drovers of Oxen and Buffaloes laden with graine etts. provisions for Brampore; about the Towne a Champian [obsolete English, from French "champ" a field] Countrie with some greene feilds of Corne.
[18 Dec] This daie also wee mett many Baniares, or Caphilaes of Graine, Butter, etts. provisions goeinge to the Campe at Brampore, where the kinge lyes to prosecute his warrs against Decan. ...
[22 Dec] ... many thousand of Oxen laiden with provision. It was att least 1 1/2 miles in length, and as many more returninge emptie to bee reladen, and all the face of the earth, as farr and distant as wee could descerne, covered with greene Corne. But of all this aboundance poore Guzeratt was never the neere, where there was most neede, it beinge all sent to Brampore to supplie the kings Laskarrie (or Armie) lyeing there against Decan as aforementioned. This place (Mogolca Sara) is in the Province of Malwa.
[Christmas Day: The party feasts on "roast beef" (actually near-indigestible buffalo), tongue, and salt pork which their Muslim servants reluctantly serve them, with tongs, Mundy acknowledging that "Hoggs flesh is held an abhomination by Moores, Turkes, as also by Jewes"]
[3 Jan 1631: arrived at Agra, where he remained, apart from local trade excursions, until August 1632 when he journeyed to Patna in hopes of expanding the Company's trade, not returning to Agra until December]
Public Record Office, "Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series. East Indies and Persia 1630-1634" (=vol. 8, 1892)
p100 (summary of letter from Armagon [predecessor to Fort St. George] 27 Dec 1630): "Since the Dove's dispeed from Masulipatam in September last no convenient opportunity of conveyance has been proffered, and this has been delayed by foul weather and the bad dealings of the Governors of Masulipatam and Pettapoli. ... Were very confident, when that was sent, of this ship the Falcon's more timely dispeed and with a far better conditioned investment; but so adverse are the times that they shall not equal it from Masulipatam and Pettapoli, and for the paintings and woven cloth of this place, the last was very bad, but never worse than those now sent, yet cannot justly blame their merchants if they consider the dearness of cotton, four times the price of former years, and the extraordinary famine in each town and village. Had the goodness of the cloth been correspondent to former times, the price must have followed. They will understand by letters of the President and Council at Surat that this famine has so possessed those parts as to make them doubt the losing of a monsoon for England." [which I think means the Company's Indian factories may not be able to gather enough goods to make a worthwhile shipment before the monsoon wind, favourable for the westward voyage, dies away]

p102 (summary of letter from Surat, 31 Dec 1630): "Universal dearth, the country wholly dismantled by drought, and no grain to be bought for either man or beast tho' at seven fold the former price. The labouring men, weavers, washers, dyers abandon their habitations in multitudes who have perished in the fields for want of food. Greatly hindered in their business at first by the want of carts and beasts of burden.
Famine and war hinder the trade and frustrate all hopes of vending English commodities."
[This letter also reports an attempt by the Portuguese fleet to intercept the East India Company's ships as they arrive at Surat, repulsed with heavy losses for the aggressors, and notes that "The Dutch send no ships from Bantam to Surat this year, which savours rather of treachery to leave us in the lurch unto the strength of the Portugals, and to shift us off singly into the jaws of mischief"]
'Inayat Khan "The Shah Jahan nama of 'Inayat Khan" (trans. A.R. Fuller et al., 1990)
p42: [Expedition by forces loyal to Shah Jahan, southwest towards Nashik, in the territory of the Nizam al-Mulk, AH 1040, after the rains (late 1630 CE)] "Owing to the inhabitants of Nizam al-Mulk's territories having gutted their houses and fled into the woods and mountains, the country had been rendered desolate and there was a scarcity of grain. Since the royal forces were therefore much desperate for provisions, Rukn al-Sultanat directed that one of the three contingents should every two or three days make an incursion into the hilly and broken ground, and carry off all the grain and fodder they could lay hands on. Consequently at every foray, they seized immense supplies of provisions besides destroying and taking prisoners many of the enemy."
East India Company, "The English factories in India, 1630-1633 " (1910)
p19 (President & Council at Swally Marine to the Company in London, 13 Apr 1630): [Various reasons for the high price of indigo include:] ""The want of raines these three passed yeares hath been alsoe greate cause of itts improving in price; halfe the quantitie scarcely made of what usually in former times. This yeare giveth hopes of a greater aboundance …"

p60 (President & Council at Surat to Company factors in Persia, 6 Oct 1630): [Indigo problems continue- editor's summary] "The famine in India has caused a great scarcity of indigo. The merchants who came from Persia in the English ships, finding themselves debarred from proceeding to the Deccan for the purchase of finer goods, owing to the wars in those parts, have bought up the whole of last year’s crop. The price is now 18 and 18½ rupees per maund, and the factors have little hope of securing much of the new season’s crop, ‘unlesse that with you there be some discreete preventions or restrainte of passengers on our retourning shipps from thence this Yeare.’ "

p79 (staff at Masulipatam to the Company in London, 2 Nov 1630): … "On this coaste is a great and mortall dearth, which begann three yeares since and still increaseth; which with the unusuall great cargazone invested this yeere in this place, with the many free traders, Dutch and Danes, etc., hath raised the prise off cloth to an extraordinary rate, and scarce to be so procured, and hath allso beaten downe the prise of gold, allum, and broadcloth, that in one hundreth yeeres there hath not, neither may be expeckted, the like, to the great hinderance and losse to our parte of the Second Generall Voyadge. God grant that the rest marketts, as of cloves, etc., be not forestalled in the like kinde. The cloth of theis parts is growne very deceitfull, as wanting in both lengths and breadths, which wilbe very prejudiciall to the proffitt and vend thereof …" [This report also used for 1628 page of this website]

p97 (President & Council at Surat to the ship commanders at Swally, 17 Nov 1630): "You cannot be unprivy to the universall callamytie of this countrie, by reason of dearth and famine, nowe growne to such an extreame that wee ourselves are become behoulding for come even to supply our househould provisions. How destitute therefore wee are of all meanes and hopes to furnish you with either bread or rice from hence let this just complaint of ours informe you, and make you sensible of the miserye. It remaynes hereupon that you therefore put your people to a shorter allowance of bisket, though you inlarge the more in flesh. Of rack [arrack] you may not expect any more then one but to be sent you before your departure hence for Persia. What we shalbe able to provide in your absence wee cannot promise, the distillers being all of them (or the most part) with their famylies departed into the parts of more hoped plenty, as are many thousands besides, as well weavers, washers, dyers, etc.; that puts us allmost into dispaire of a competent lading for the succeeding yeares home retourns ; and yet these are but the beginings of greater woe yet to come."

p122 (President & Council at Surat to the Company in London, 31 Dec 1630): [Reporting on problems encountered at Surat, beginning with a full-scale attack by the rival Portuguese] "… These were the disturbances which your President, etc., were to struggle with at their first arrivall. And not these alone, but others also, though not so daungerous, yet difficult too, by reason of an universall dearth over all this continent, of whose like in these parts noe former age hath record ; the country being wholy dismanteled by drougth, and to those that were not formerly provided noe graine for either man or beast to be purchast for money, though at seavenfould the price of former tymes acustomed ; the poore mechaniques, weavers, washers, dyers, etc., abandoning their habitacions in multitudes, and instead of releife elcewhere have perished in the feilds for want of food to sustaine them. Hence it came to pass that for many dayes after our arrivall there were noe carts or beasts of burden to be had upon any condition whatsoever ; by which meanes for a while wee were greatly hindred in the usuall prosecution of our bussines, till from the inland countrye (where was some better plenty for cattell) wee were otherwise provided."
[Editor's summary of the continuing indigo saga, as outlined in the same letter:] "The factors at Agra write that they have bought upwards of 400 bales of round indigo, but 'in regard of the often itterated drougth and many greedy buyers’, the price has risen to 38 rupees per maund, and not much is to be had at that rate."

pp129-30 (letter of 31 Dec 1630 ctd.): "This direfull tyme of dearth and the Kings continued warrs with the Decans disjoynted all trade out of frame; the former calamitie haveing fild the waies with desperate multitudes, who, setting their lives att nought, care not what they enterprize soe they may but purchase meanes for feeding, and will not dispence with the nakedest passenger, not soe much as our poore pattamars with letters, who, if not murthered on the way, doe seldome escape unryfled, and thereby our advises often miscarried on the other side. The warrs with Decan having stopped up all passages, the usuall intercourse of trade, the ordinary travel of caphilas, and accustomed conflewence of marchants to and from those parts are intercepted, whereby the vend, not only of your currall (whose greatest expence is in Decan) wilbe hindered, but likewise your fraight and customes in Persia much lesened by the want of those finer goods out of Decan, in whose liew your ships are only fraught with these of groser quallitie."

p134 (James Bickford at Swally to the Company Secretary in London, 8 Jan 1631): [Summary of events surrounding the arrival of staff from England on 27 Sep 1630, including the Portuguese attack and:] "a most mizerable mortall[it]y amongst the natives of this country, who for want of food (with [i. e. like] Jacobs sonns) with there whole famylyes dayley travell into forrain partes to seeck bread. And for want of this last yeares rayne is soe much augemented that, onely for want of sustenance with food, the poore people lye as a woefull spectacle to behould in our streetes and highwayes as wee passe along, dying and dead in great nombers."

p117 (staff at Armagon, then the Company's trading hub for the Coromandel coast, to staff in Java, 27 Dec 1630): [Apologising about the quality of their stock of cotton cloth] … "Yet cannot wee justly blame our heere merchants, if wee conscider the dearenes of cotton, beeing fower times the price of former times and yeares, with the extraordinarie dearth and famine that hath predominated over all these partes, which hath consumed, meerely through want of sustinance, in each towne and villadge soe many of the people (and espetially the poorer sorte) as allmost incredible to reporte, were not ourselves spectatours. But to recount the many miseries in theis parts this yeare would better becom a historie then a letter of advise. And should the goodnes of the cloth have bin corrispondent to former times, our price must have followed ; which wee verry well know the condicions of these people [i.e. the purchasers in the Far East] to bee such that they would not bee drawne thereto ; whoe rather rule themselves by an accustomed price then the goodnes of the commoditie they buy ; neyther can they bee sencible of its heere dearth and scarecetie when the Dutch and wee shall fill our there factories (which this yeare will bee) as if noe obstacles were heere to the contrarie. Heerewith wee send you coppies of our President and Councell at Suratt their letters to us heere, whereby you will understand that this plague of dearth and famine hath soe fully possest those parts as to make them doubt the loosing of a monsoone for England." [i.e. they may not have acquired sufficient goods, by the time the Indian Ocean wind conditions are at their best, to justify sending a cargo fleet to England]
Johan van Twist, "Generale beschrijvinghe van Indien" (edition of 1648)
pp7-9 (Chapter 3): [The 1648 copy from which this text was transcribed uses one of those fancy Germanic typefaces with easily-confusable letters like f and tall s, so accuracy is not likely to be high] "Om dan tot de Particuliere beschrijvinge, ende den oorspronck van desen dieren tijdt in de Landen van Gusuratten te komen, soo dient aengemerckt dat dese Landen hebben haren seeckeren Regen-tijt, te weten 4 maenden in't Jaer, die beginnen met de Maent van Junius, wanneer de Son naer de Tropinis Cancri gaet, ende eyndende met de Maent September; ende soo't buyten dien tijt Regent, is't extraordinaris, ende wort voor een aenstaende vruchtbaer Jaer ghehouden; want in de andere 8 Maenden is het hier soo fraeyen ende helderen weder, dat daer qualijcken een Wolck ghesien wordt; inden voorschreven Regen-tijdt wort het lant bearbeyt ende 't Koorn geraeyt, 't welcke door den Reghen bevochtight wordende, soodanighen overvloedt van granen placht voort te brengen, dat alle omlegghende Landen daer van ghespijst wierden; desen grooten seghen van Godt, hebben vele van de Inwoonders misbruyckt, ende zijn daer door in soodanighe vermeynde seeckerheydt ghevallen, dat sydes daeghs soo veel ghewonnen hebbende, daer op konden leven, niet meer souden ghearbeyt hebben, om yedts over te winnen, om in voor-raedt te vergaderen teghens den Ouden dagh eenighe sieckte, ofte dieren tijdt haer overvallende, ende schoon eenighe yedts overgegaert hadden, soo verteerden ende verflempten sy dat op haer duyvelsche Feest-daghen oock veeldes anderen dagh: Welcke oberdaet ende alderhande soorten van grouwelen die konnen bedacht worden, welcken onder die verscheyde Natien ende volckeren van dese landen in swangh gaet, Godt den Alderhooghsten Rechter in sijnen rechtvaerdighen Toorn ontsteecken, dese Landen seer jammerlijcke besocht ende ghescraft heeft; sendende in den Jare Christi 1630. Een alsulcken drooghte, dat inden tijdt van 12 Maenden niet en regenden, ofte immers soo weynigh dat het Koorn 't welcke alreede ghezaeyt was, tot perfectie ofte volkomen wasdom konde geraecken, ofte eenigh gras op-ghekomen is, waer uyt sulcken grooten ende lastighen dieren tijdt sproot, dat niet alle de Beesten als Offen, Koepen ende Buffels (die hier in groote menigte waren) zijn ghestorven, maer oock de menschen in Steden, Dorpen, velden ende wegen, in groot getal doodt bleven leggen, 't welck sulcke stanck vermeckte, dat het schrickelijcken was de passagien te gehruycken.
De Koeyen sach men door gebreck van Gras doode Lichamen eten, de menschen namen gedroogde Huyden van Beesten, sommige gingen op de mishoopen soeckende de beenderen die lange tijdt te voren vande Honden geknaecht waeren, bradende de selve op Koolen ende hebben die ghegeten; in somma de menighderhande kocagie die daer ghemaeckt wierde, soude te lanck zijn te verhalen.
Desen Honger is dagelijer soo vermeerdert, dat veel haer Steden ende Dorpen verlaeten hebben, haetende hun eygen Huysen, als of den dieren tijdt alleenlijck by haer geregneert hadde; over al sach men de mensch machteloos loopen ende rennen, haer ghedaente was vreeslijck om aensien, de oogen stonden diep in 't hooft het aengesichte dick geswollen, de lippen ende mondt bleeck, de tanden van slijm, loeterende, de huyt seer hardt, door welcken men de beenderen sagh legghen, voorts den buyck niet anders als een ydelen sack hangende, den grooten hongers-noot hadde de kneuckels ende schijven van de knyen doen bloot leggen, d' een kreet ende janckte van honger, ende den andre lagh ter aerde ghestreckt gevende deerlijcke sijnen Geest; werwaerts men sich wenden ofte keerden sagh men niet anders also doode lichamen legghen.
Hoe jammerlijck sachmen de mannen haer Vrouwen ende Kinderen verlaten, de Vrouwen verkochten haer selven tot slavinnen ende lijf-eyghenen, de Moeders hare kinders, de kinderen (van haer Ouders verlaten zijnde) haer selven om den hongher te ontgaen: Sommige huysgesinnen hebben uyt desperaetheyt Fenijn inghenmoen, ende zijn soo ghelijcker-handt ghestorven; andere willende de doodt verrassen hebben haer selve in de Revieren ghestort; Eenighe Moeders om de onlijdelijcke pijn van hongers-noot voor te komen, zijn met haer kinderen op de kant van de Revier gaen sitten, ende malkanderen handt aen handt ghevat hebbende, ghelijcken in 't water ghevallen ende haer selven verdroncken, soo dat de Revieren vol doode luyden dreben. Sommighe hebben doode krenghen ende Beesten gegheten; andere de lichamen vande doode menschen op snijdende, hebben 't ingewant daer uyt-ghehaelt, ende 't selvighe mede ghenomen om haer hongerige buyckte vullen; jae veel op de straten versmacht legghende ende noch niet doodt zijnde, wierden van anderen de buyck op-ghesneden de Lever daer uyt ghehaelt, den eenen mensch heeft den anderen levendigh gegheten; soo dat men qualijck vermochte alleen langhs de straten te gaen, veel min de weghen te bereysen, sonder groot ghevaer vanden keel afgesneden ende ghegeten te werden; want het is gheschiet dat in Brodera, dat een Jonghen van 7 ofte 8 Jaren op den Besar ofte merckt, van een Bedelaer by den hals ghenomen, ende den strot is af-ghesneden, meenende sijn hongher daer mede te stoppen.
Diergelijcke schrickelijcke Tragedien sach men dagelijcks gheschieden, ende een Heydens herte ontsettede en ontfarmde hem, wanneer men verstont, dat een Moeder haer eenighe Soon gheslacht ende ghebraden hadt; veel meer sal een Christen ghemoet sich ontsetten wanneer als men hoort dat verscheyde mannen haer vrouwen, de vrouwen haer mannen, de kinderen hunne Ouders ghegeten hebben; in somma de miserien ende droevighe spectaculen in 't bysnoder te beschrijven soude te langh vallen, om alles naer de waerheydt uyt te drucken; menich hondert duysent menschen jijnder van hongher vergaen, soo dat de aerde over al met doode lichamen was bedeckt, dia also onbegraven bleven legghen, 't welck soodanighe stanch veroorsaeckten, dat de gantsche lucht daer van vervult ende gheinfecteert wiert: Eenighe van anse Nederlanders, komende van Amadabat, hebben sommighe luyden vinden sitten mit een weynigh vyer voor haer, daer menschen hande ende voeren op lagen om te braden, een schrickelijck dinck om sien; maer noch schrickelijcker, dat bevonden in een Dorp (Susuntra geckennt) alwaer 't menschen vleesch openbaerlijcke op de merckt verkocht wiert.
Dese sware straffe ende plage Godes is meest over armen ende ghemeene luyden, die niet in voorraet hadden, gegaen, want voor de rijcken ende die gelt hadden wasser noch Koorn te koop, doch seer dier; daer men te vooren placht 45 Ceer Terwe, 't welck 33 3/4 pont Hollants is, voor een Mamoedy (doende naer onse munte, 10 2/3 stuyvers) te krijghen, konde men doen voor de selvighe priis maer 2 a 3 Ceer ofte 2 2/3 neerlantsche ponden bekomen, dat een groote verschil van prijs ende ghewichte is; Edoch Godt de Heere, heest de vermoghenen mede wel weten te vinden." [Continues in 1631]
W.H. Moreland, "From Akbar to Aurangzeb: A study in Indian economic history" (1923)
pp171-2: "The Dutch factor van Twist says that before the famine of 1630, the usual price of wheat was 33¾ Dutch pounds for 10¾ stivers, which makes nearly 82½ lb. avoirdupois per rupee. ...
The rise of prices during the famine was enormous. In November 1630, the English factors bought wheat at the rate of 13¾ lb., and a month later they found that grain was unprocurable 'though at sevenfold the price of former times accustomed'; if the normal was, as suggested, 80 or 85 lbs., this means that the rate had now risen to 12 lb. or less. The year 1631 was marked by further calamities, and in September we hear of 2½ ser for a mahmudi, giving a rate of very little over 6 lb. per rupee; supplies arrived during the winter, and in January 1632 the rate was about 12½ lb., until the supplies were engrossed, when prices rose again. The next quotation I have found relates to the year 1635, when a consignment of wheat was bought for Goa at 33 lb., and this seems to mark the end of the period of pressure; prices were falling, seasonable rain had produced abundance of all sorts of grain, and in 1636 prices were lower than before the famine."
pp212-3: [Translation of part of Van Twist's narrative] "So little rain fell that the seed sown was lost and no grass grew. Cattle died. In towns and villages, in fields and on roads, men lay dead in great numbers, causing such a stench that it was terrible to use the ways. For want of grass cattle fed on corpses; men took the carcases of beasts to eat; some in desperation went about searching for bones which had been gnawed by dogs; as the famine increased, men abandoned towns and villages, and wandered helplessly. It was easy to recognize their condition: eyes sunk deep in the head, lips pale and covered with slime, the skin hard, with the bones showing through, the belly nothing but a pouch hanging down empty, knuckles and knee-caps showing prominently. One would cry and howl for hunger, while another lay stretched on the ground dying in misery; wherever you went, you saw nothing but corpses. Men deserted their wives and children. Women sold themselves as slaves. Mothers sold their children. Children deserted by their parents sold themselves. Some families took poison, and so died together; others threw themselves into the rivers. Mothers and their children went to the river-bank, and drowned themselves hand in hand, so that the rivers flowed full of corpses. Some ate carrion flesh. Others cut up the corpses of men, and drew out the entrails to fill their own bellies; yes, men lying in the street, not yet dead, were cut up by others, and men fed on living men, so that even in the streets, and still more on road-journeys, men ran great danger of being murdered and eaten.
Terrible tragedies were seen every day, even a heathen might wonder and pity when he learned that a mother had killed and cooked her only son: much more might a Christian conscience, when it was known that husbands had eaten their wives, wives their husbands, children their parents- but it would be tedious to describe every thing in detail. Many hundred thousands of men died of hunger, so that the whole country was covered with corpses lying unburied, which caused such a stench that the whole air was filled and infected with it. Some of our Dutchmen, coming from Ahmadabad, found some people sitting at a little fire where hands and feet were cooking, a terrible thing to see. Even worse was it in the village of Susuntra, where human flesh was sold in open market. This terrible divine punishment fell chiefly on the poor, who had nothing in store."
Lieut. Col. A.T. Etheridge, "Report on Past Famines in the Bombay Presidency" (1868) [Reports collected by local officials in all districts]
p63 [Hoozoor, by the Hoozoor Deputy Collector, from the "Miratey Ahmedee"]: "Hijree 1038, Sumvut 1685-86, A.D. 1628-29 [This date is shown to be wrong by W.H. Moreland, "From Akbar To Aurangzeb: A study in Indian economic history" (1923), p207]. This famine is called the 'Satmasia:' it lasted for seven months. No rain having fallen, the people were sadly in want of bread and water, and were compelled to sell their children, for whom purchasers were not to be found. One camel was procurable for one Rupee. The benevolent Nobles could not support the poor. Those who used to support and protect the poor were obliged to beg. The flesh of dogs was eaten like that of sheep and goats, and their bones were ground and mixed with flour, for which the grain dealers were punished. When the people were very much distressed by this famine, they began to kill men, and to use their flesh. If a single person happened to meet three or four persons, he was afraid of this life. The roads were thus deserted, and the loss of life was very great. Men of strength and power proceeded to other countries. The Ahmedabad Zillah was nearly ruined. The Emperor ordered the Chiefs and Nobles at Ahmedabad, Surat, and Burranpoor, to establish Institutions for the distribution of food and water to the sufferers. In Ahmedabad Rs. 50,000 were given by him for their maintenance; large sums were paid from the Royal Treasury, and wealthy Nobles contributed for the support of the sufferers. Taxes of every description were abolished for two years. Next year was blessed with rain. After the famine was over no male buffaloes were to be found at Ahmedabad, and one was brought from Champaneer for Rs. 85."
Ali Muhammad Khan (trans. M.F. Lokhandwala), "Mirat-i-Ahmadi: A Persian History of Gujarat" (1965) [alternative version of the text quoted by Etheridge above]
p179 (Chap. 69): [events of 1040 AH (1630-31 CE)] "An event of this year was scarcity of rain and a famine in all its intensity in Gujarat and the Dekhan. The year is known as Sattasiya among the populace of Gujarat. Inhabitants of this region were in sore difficulties due to scarcity of food and shortage of eatables. They gave life in exchange for a bread and yet no one bought it. They sold a camel for a cacknel [? cracknel / biscuit ?] and yet it was not worth. A hand that always remained extended did not open except for begging a bread, feet that always covered the plain of wealth did not measure except the path of begging. A dog’s flesh was cooked in place of a goat’s meat and bones of carcases mixed with flour were sold. The sellers were punished after it was found out. Ultimately, people began to eat one another’s flesh due to dire necessity. Roads got blocked up for intercourse on account of innumerable deaths. No one moved out alone through fear of some persons meeting him and eating his flesh. Anyone, who after great hardship, obtained respite from promised death and found strength of walking in himself, went to villages and towns of other province. This region which is noted for fertility, not a city remained prosperous. This severe calamity rendered past pestilences and ancient famines, which appeared astonishing in previous ages, unbelievable. Manifestation of Divine mercy His Majesty ordered that the administrators of Burhanpur, Ahmedabad and Surat should establish cooking houses which are known as langar khanas (bede houses [charitable kitchens might be more accurate]) among the populace for entertainment of the poor, the destitute and the indigent. Every day as much soup and bread as were necessary for food of the helpless men were cooked. His Majesty heard that people of Ahmedabad suffered more intense hardship and adversity than those of other regions. He issued an order that the Diwan of the Subah should send fifty thousand rupees from the public treasury in cash for bringing foodstuff to the city. As scarcity of rain and dearness of foodgrains were the causes of ryots’ distraction, large sums of money this year and the next year were remitted from the government land, and the jagirs. It was heard from aged men of this region who heard from aged men who had obtained relief from this calamity that the mercy of God descended upon them next year. As there were no cattle, a he buffalo was brought from Champaner for seventy rupees as there was no stallion for buffaloes."
Nawab Samsam-ud-Daula Shah Nawaz Khan (trans. H. Beveridge), "The Maathir-ul-Umara" (vol. 2 pt. 1, 1952)
pp306-8: [Footnote: "This account of the settlement of the Deccan is taken almost verbatim from Khafi Khan, I, pp. 732-735, note 123" ...] Though Murshid Quli Khan was a brave man and an expert warrior, he also had a clerical understanding. Trustworthiness and fear of the Almighty were characteristic of him. While he was the Divan of the Deccan, he did his utmost for the conciliation and betterment of the peasantry, and exerted himself for increasing cultivation in the area. He settled the land with skill and care, and arranged to take one fourth of the produce as its revenue. He also prepared a code of regulations. It is stated that out of caution, and lest fear or favour should influence, he often took the measuring chain (Jarib) in his own hand and measured out the land. His good nature gained him eternal life, that is, his name on account of this code would long be remembered.
It should be borne in mind that in the spacious, fertile and opulent countries of the Deccan revenue was not assessed on the bigha basis, by measurements or on the different classes of land and their produce, or even upon mutual arrangements. Cultivation was assessed on the basis of a plough and a yoke of bullocks. A small portion of whatever crop was produced— and this varied in different centres and parganas- was handed over to the ruler (the Hakim) as the revenue. No enquiries were made in regard to increases or decreases. Later, when the country for some time was trodden by the armies of the Emperors of India, the peasantry on hearing the name of the Mughals and the new arrangements feared and trembled, and left their homes. Further, a great decrease in rainfall was followed by famine for several years. So great was the desolation that in spite of Emperor Shah Jahan, in the 4th year of his reign [1630-31], reducing the revenues of Khandesh by 30 to 40 krors of dams, the country did not recover its normal condition till Murshid Quli Khan was appointed. He on his own initiative carefully and energetically introduced the revenue system of Raja Todar Mal, which, since the time of Emperor Akbar had prevailed in Upper India.
In the first place he did everything possible to bring back the runaway peasantry, and appointed intelligent officials {Amins) and honest collectors to measure the lands, known as the Raqba. They were instructed to differentiate between land fit for cultivation, and hilly areas and riparian tracts which could not be ploughed. Wherever there was no headman in a village, and his heirs had disappeared as a result of the conditions that had prevailed, a new headman well qualified to look after the cultivators and protect the peasantry, was appointed. For the purchase of cattle and other requisites of cultivation advances — known as Taqavi — were made, and collectors were instructed to recover these advances at harvest time [Footnote: "Khafi Khan has 'by instalments'."]. Three regulations were instituted in regard to cultivation.
Firstly, as was customary in former times, agreements were to be executed.
Secondly, the crop was to be divided— this was known as Bata'i, and this was to be carried out in three ways:-
  (i) crops raised by rainfall were to be divided half and half (viz., half to the cultivator and half to the State);
  (ii) of crops irrigated by well-water; if it was some kind of corn two-thirds to the cultivator aud one-third to the State, if the crop consisted of grapes, sugar-cane, cummin or ispaghul [Footnote: "Plantago ovata Forsk ..."] (isahghul in text) etc. the shares were to be assessed according to the expenses incurred in irrigation and the time required for ripening — the State share varied from one-ninth to one-fourth, and the balance was to be retained by the cultivators; and
  (iii) in areas cultivated by underground channels (karez), or by canals from rivers — and which are known as Pat, [Footnote: "Pat according to Wilson’s Glossary is 'a small raised water-course for irrigating fields and gardens.' "], the division varied more or less against the rates of the well irrigated lands.
The third regulation was in respect of measurements or Raqba. Every kind of crop was inspected in view of the previously executed agreements and enquiries were made as to the rates and cultivation from sowing to harvest and it was thus possible to decide after measurement as to what share should be taken. These regulations were introduced in the three or four provinces of the Deccan — which was the extent of the territory under the imperial rule at the time — and they were known as the Dhara of Murshid Quli Khan."
Balkrishna Govind Gokhale, "Surat in the Seventeenth Century" (1979)
p22 (the 1630 famine): "A Gujarati account speaks of parents fleeing, leaving children to fend for themselves, of mass migrations, of fathers and mothers selling children, those who had supped on dainties all their lives being forced to glean for bits wherever they could find and whole families and communities being destroyed."
J. Nelson Fraser & J.F. Edwards "Life and Teachings of Tukaram" (1922)
[Tukaram, a farmer and businessman who became a preacher in verse, was born in the village of Dehu in the Deccan, probably in 1608/9] pp83-4: … "The rains failed utterly and the cattle died of hunger. Tukaram's family began to starve and in vain he entreated neighbours to help him. One day he sold his last possessions, a few old sacks and a pack-saddle, and purchasing some grain he made some thin porridge for his family. When that was finished the neighbours asked scornfully what Vitthal [aka Vitthoba, his deified ancestor] was doing for him. He felt as a man feels when an ulcer is opened up with a lancet, but he answered them quietly. The husbandman's toil is long and weary, but he rejoices when the harvest ripens; 'even so the spiritual struggle is long drawn out but it ends in the joy of experience. ...' ...
Now at 21 Tukaram had become bankrupt and- 'sorrow's crown of sorrow' in India- he had to face famine, bankruptcy and bereavements. He lost his eldest son; his favourite wife died crying for bread; and he began to reflect on the world …"
Tukaram (trans. J. Nelson Fraser & K.B. Marathe) "The Poems of Tukarama" (1909) [prose translation, with order of poems ("abhangas") rearranged]
p43: "112
My wife died; she was set free; God released her from the world of illusion. O Vitthoba, you and I will enjoy the kingdom; we need no other. 'Tis well that my boy died, God released him from the world …"

It is well, O God, that I became bankrupt, and was crushed by the famine; this is how I repented and turned to thee, so that the world became odious to me …" [The wife and son who died were named Rakhumai and Santu. Anybody curious about the poems should read the full biography first; it's complicated.]
Kailash Chand Jain "Jainism in Rajasthan" (1963)
p218: "The Mughal emperor gave two districts of Jalor and Sanchor to Maharaja Gajasimha who appointed Muhanota Jayamala as the governor. Jayamala carried on the administration successfully. … When a dreadful famine broke out in 1630 A.D., he distributed grains free of charge among the needy and distressed. Besides, he spent his entire property in these charitable activities."
Encyclopedia of Jainism [ http://en.encyclopediaofjainism.com ]
(entry on Thakur Munot Nancy includes this mention of his father:) "Generous hearted Munot Jaimal provided food for one year to the hungry people of Marwar during the severe famine of 1630 there."
A.R. Disney, "Portuguese Goa and the Great Indian Famine of 1630-31" (in A.R. Kulakarni et al. "Mediaeval Deccan History …" 1996, pp135-55)
[A detailed summary of the 1630-1 famine as experienced by officials in Portuguese Goa, with an analysis of their attempts at famine relief, including the knotty diplomacy involved in rice importation from the southern kingdom of Kanara]
Asta Bredsdorff, "Willem Leyels liv og farefulde rejse til Indien" (1999)
p21: "I hele Deccan og Gujarat svigtede monsunregnen i årene 1630-31, og risen visnede og døde på markerne. Kvæget hunne ikke finde græs at æde, og landet blev ramt af en forfæende hungersnød, der som altid ledsagedes af pest. Fattige folk døde i tusindtal, og mange greb til den fortvivlede udvej at sælge deres børn som slaver; et barn kunne købes for et mål ris til en værdi af en lille mønt på 5 fanum, og kobmænd fandt hurtigt ud af, at de samme børn kunne sælges med stor fortjeneste på Sundaøerne. Men der fortaltes også gruelige historier om folk, der slagtede og spiste deres børn eller forgreb sig på enlige, der ikke havde muligghed for at forsvare sig.
Hungersnøden gjorde det vanskeligt at fremskaffe de indiske bomuldstøjer, der sædvanligvis blev givet i bytte for krydderierne i Macassar og på Java og Borneo, og priserne blev drevet kraftigt i vejret. Men her havde Crappe [Roland Crappe, founder of Danish Tranquebar] for en gangs skyld været heldig. Han havde netop ligget inde med et stort varelager af disse tekstiler og kunne derved gøre særdeles fordelagtige forretninger."
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