Sunday, 1 November 2015

Paul Benfield, BEI company worker and his moonlighting!!

 Palace.the first Indo-Saracenic building in India. built by Benfield en.wikipedia.org

Paul  Benfield (1742–1810) was an English East India Company employee, trader, financier and politician. He was targeted by Edmund Burke for financial irregularities and for acting against the English company's certain basic norms  and at last he became bankrupt.

Benfield  landed in  India as a civil servant of the East India Company in 1764, and  drew a meager salary not greater than  two or three hundred rupees a month. While in the employ of the company,  he amassed a fortune running into half a million sterling on the side lines which was quite incongruous and it aroused the attention of higher  ups in England and India.

Upon his arrival at Madras,  he got  into  an understanding and friendship with an Indian trader  and  made partnership with him. In the mean time he also developed close contacts with the local bankers. While on a job, he moonlighted by doing  civil contract work and giving loan at a higher interest rates. Ocourse, he got substantial help from the local bankers. He undertook projects   with the government for the construction of fortifications for the town of Madras and for Fort St. George, East India company's headquarters. He developed  close contacts  Indian elite and royals, in particular, with the Nawob of Arcot for whom  Paul Benfield, is said to have designed  the Chepauk Palace, in Madras (now Chennai,Tamil  Nadu)), the first Indo-Saracenic building in India. The Nawob  took heavy loan from him for the main purpose of declaring war on the Thanjavur Marata ruler  along with the British. He captured the Thanjavur kingdom,  including Dutch settlement that was part of the Maratha rulers.  In 1777,  the British India company condemned this irresponsible act and the modus operandi of such operations that were  against  the Company's interest  and  brought charges against Benfield. He resigned the job and in 1779 returned to England. He told the council that he made large loans to the Nawob and it was  a transparent deal and not a clandestine  one and the Governors and the council were very much aware of it. He further, in no uncertain terms, stated that he indirectly helped the East India company and its interests in India and not against it. Later the  charges   were withdrawn and and his company job was restored to him.
 

Upon his  final return to England in 1793, he married  Miss Swinburne  of Hamsterley, Durham. The marriage settlement was lavish. They had a son and at least two daughters; He, in partnership with Walter Boyd,  founded a company called  Boyd, Benfield, & Co. in London - a mercantile firm that engaged in speculations.  Following the depression of stocks,  and  poor negotiations, his business failed and he became broke.  Leading a miserable existence pushed down from sublime to disgrace, he spent rest of his life in a state of dereliction in  Paris and died in Paris in poverty in 1810.  

Mak paisi
Jantoo cartoons
His funeral expenses were met with through public subscription of the English residents in Paris.


The seesaw eventful life of Benfield reminds of a wise-saying in India:  ''In this transient world nothing  is permanent,  and we leave the world one day the way we came here from  our mother's womb.''
Ref:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Benfield