|Job Charnock , founder of Calcutta?Amazing Kolkata|
|Job Charnock establishing the Trading post 1690. Calcutta. en.wikipedia.org/|
|Gov. of Bengal. Shaista Khan Wikipedia|
The English, Dutch and French East India companies all maintained factories at Cossimbazar. In 1658 the first English agency of the East India Company (EIC) was established there. Shaista Khan (reign 1664 to 1688; maternal uncle to Aurangzeb), was appointed as the Governor of Bengal around 1664 by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb during the same period the English company got the Firman from the Mogul Emperor that gave them special privileges and exemption from taxes. As the Firman was vague and not clear about taxes on certain items, frequently disputes arose between the English company and the Governor. Certain incidents in Bihar and disruption of production of saltpeter trade by another English company did not enthuse the Governor. The original East India Company made a request to build a fort in the mouth of Hooghly or on its banks which was immediately turned down by Shaista Khan. He imposed a 3.5% tax in addition to the already existing tax of 3,000 rupees, not withstanding the Firman obtained earlier. Yet another incident with the head of Cossimbazar resulted in altercations between the Governor of Bengal and the company causing their ships to leave Bengal without obtaining cargo. When Charnock took control over the English company after the demise of John Baird, the hostilities between the company and the Bengal forces peaked and never scaled down. The British had a plan to attack the port city of Chittagong, fortify it and make an alliance with the local ruler to intimidate the Gov. of Bengal and Mogul representative. The plan went awry as the ships by mistake arrived and anchored off the Hooghly factory, later joined by ships from Madras. Shaista Khan, Gov. of Bengal, upon hearing the arrival of so many British ships, was furious and ordered the closing and confiscation of all their factories and properties in Bengal and sent a large force to drive out the English from Hooghly.
Having fed up with continued confrontation and failed persuasion with the resident representative of the Mogul ruler, Charnock moved his company's goods and servants down the Hoogley river
(27 miles down stream) and after some struggle finally made a truce and settled in November 1687 in Sutanuti, then "a low swampy village of scattered huts". Later, again mistrust cropped-up and Charnock and his men were forced to move out to a place called Hajli - a dangerous place ridden with poisonous snakes, mosquitoes and tigers. Here, Charnock lost half of his men and survival became a big issue.
Finally, Charnock made a peace treaty with the Governor of Bengal and decided to build trading post in Sutanuti towards the end of 1687. Fate had it during this transition period Charnock suffered a personal loss in the death of his beloved Hindu Wife whom he renamed Mary. They had one son (he predeceased his father) and three daughters. Later, a favorable situation dveloped and several issues and misunderstanding were sorted out and the new Governor Ibrahim Khan made a trade treaty that included certain clauses as demanded by Charnock. Ibrahim Khan gave them permission to protect their own factories, but ruled out any fortification explicitly.
Mr. Job Charnock with 30 soldiers came back to Sutanuti on 24 August 1690 and hoisted the Royal Standards of England on the banks of river Hooghly, thus facilitating the beginning of a new era of British involvement in Bengal. Job Charnock died in 1692, but he made a niche for himself in the history of Calcutta.
A fort was built on the bank of river Hooghly at Sutanuti with mortar brought from Madras, completed in 1701 and was called Fort William after King William III of England. This was the old Fort William and construction for a new one (the present one) started after Siraj Ud-Daulah attacked Fort William in 1756. The five day siege was a long one and the famous black hole incident took place during that time.
|Historical map, Calcutta. India Water Portal|
|Gov. Madras Presidency Elihu Yale. en.wikipedia.org|
Charnock's connection with Madras does not stop with the establishment of a trading post in Sutanuti. It was on August 19, 1689, that his three girls by his Hindu wife Mary, Elizabeth and Catherine, were baptized in St. Mary's in the Fort (Ft. St. George); the entry in the baptismal register still there. Charnock worked for 34 long years. After his death a Mausoleum was built over his tomb in his memory by this son-in-law. It is St. John's Church is Kolkata which is being maintained by the Church of NE India.
|Ft.St. George, Madras (Chennai). commons.wikimedia.org|
|Calcutta 1690. Wikipedia|