Wednesday, 19 November 2014

William Watts, a conspirator and Robert Clive !! - fall of Bengal

EIC chief, Calcutta William Watts.showalter.blogspot
Book on Bengal Revolution credit: www.amzon.com
Robert Clive (also known as Clive of India (?), Commander-in-Chief of British India, a British officer and soldier of fortune) of British East India company was very particular about taking absolute control over the rich, productive and money-spinning Bengal Province which was ruled by Nawob Siraj ud Daulah with whom the British were not on good terms. He found it difficult to deal with the British merchants who lacked credibility, honesty and sense of fairness. As for business agreements, the British never stuck to the trade deals and showed more interest in violating them than following them by letter and spirit. Apart, on personal level,  they were arrogant, mean and full of conceit.


Robert Clive. animatetim
 

In order to grab Bengal Robert Clive finally made up his mind to get rid of the Nawob by hook or crook. So, he chose  William Watts (1722 - 4 August 1764), another senior official of the English company, and gave him  the responsibility of acting as a representative  of  the company in the Nawab's  court at Murshidabad. Watts, who was chief of the Kasimbazar (or Cossimbazar) factory of the British East India Company had been a resident in Bengal for sometime and was proficient in Bengali, Hindustani and Persian languages. This special language skill put him in a better position to deal with the local ruler.

William  Watts was born in 1722 in Glasgow, Scotland. On 24 March 1749, he  married twice-widowed Frances Altham, née Croke (10 April [1725] 1728 – 3 February,1812) in  Calcutta, daughter of Edward Croke (1690 – 12 Feb. 1769),  the Governor of Fort St. David, Cuddalore, about 100 miles south of Madras. she and her husband were  treated with respect and honors by the Nawab of Bengal. Mrs. Watts returned to India from England around 1769 after settling her husband's estate, the reason being she didn't feel comfortable in England She died in Calcutta on 3 February, 1812. Her memorial in St Johns Church, Calcutta states,  "The oldest British resident in Bengal, universally beloved, respected and revered".

Watts, Jafer & his son Miran-1757 treaty (Bengal).wikimdedia.org




Robert Clive engaged Watts to work out a secret plan – a sort of conspiracy for the final overthrow of Siraj Ud Daulah and to install a favorable Nawob on the masnad. Because the Nawob was not cooperative,  a bottleneck and a source of trouble for the British and their aspirations to slowly, but steadily tighten their grip on Bengal. If the Nawob is out of the way for good, the task will be much easier for the British to manipulate the new head and finally seek complete takeover of Bengal. Watts  had set out on so difficult a task to get hold of people who would be ready to betray the ruler. Among the Muslims in India,  betrayal of trusted  friends and  associates was a bad act, an heinous sin.  Being a white man,  it was the most difficult job undertaken by him, risking his life and name. His continuous search for a traitor did not go waste. At last he succeeded in establishing  the needed contact with the dissident Amirs of the  Murshidabad  Durbar,  including Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan. William Watts played  a pivotal role in forging  the grand conspiracy against Siraj Ud Daulah, the most difficult and powerful ruler,  which finally led to his final overthrow at the Battle of Plassey and later his assassination in Mir Jafer's residence, a dirty job executed with skill, precision  and proper planning. Now, the British's crafty  nature  was in full play. Watts on 5 June 1757 personally visited Mir Jafar and  obtained his oath of allegiance in the name of Allah, so that he won't go back on his words.

Mir Jaffar and Robert Clive after the Battle of Plassey,Pinterest

In recognition of his dedicated, but risky services at a crucial period,  Watts was given a reward of £114,000.00 from the Nawob's treasury and made the Governor of Fort William on 22 June, 1758, in place of Roger Drake who had deserted the fort,  when it was attacked and captured in June, 1756 by the Nawob's army. This was the location of the Black Hole of Calcutta on 20 June, 1756.
William Watts Amelia.daughtercredit: stangestory.net

 Four days later he resigned the post in favor of Robert Clive to return to England. He wrote a book 'Memoirs of the Revolution in Bengal' which was published first in 1757.

Book on Bengal Revolution. credit:homeshop18.com

On his return to England, he built the  South Hill Park mansion which lies to the south of Bracknell,  Berkshire  which is now an arts Center. In June 1764, he wanted to buy Hanslope Park, Hanslope, Buckinghamshire, but died in  August. The sale was completed for his son Edward, who became Lord of the Manor. William is buried in the Watt vault in Hanslope church.

The original South Hill Park  mansion was built in 1760 for William Watts for his retirement from service as a senior official of the Bengal Government. 

So, when Robert Clive laid  the strong foundation for the British Empire, right here in Bengal, William Watts played a crucial role in eliminating the non-cooperative, hostile  Nawob Siraj-Ud-Daulah. Thus, the British laid the very first foundation stone for the  British Imperialism dishonestly. For the Indians, it was the beginning of a dark era that lasted till the British  left the Indian shores in August,
1947.

Ref:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Watts