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Festivals of Midnapore District
Festivals of East and West Medinipur (Midnapore)
Books on Midnapore (Medinipur) District
The Diary of the Wolf-Children of Midnapore
Economics of Mat Industry - A study of P.S. Sabang, Midnapore
Anselm Beaumont - Bangal Merchant (By Dr. P A K Covey-Crump)
Life of an English Memsaheb in India in the late 19th Century (By Rajeswari Chatterjee)
LAL JAL Rock Painting

Anselm Beaumont
Bengal Merchant


Written by

Dr. P. A. K. Covey - Crump


Anselm Beaumont was baptised on 4 January 1715 at Christ Church Greyfriars in Newgate London, the son of the apothecary Anselm Beaumont and Anne Pincke. His father died intestate in early 1726 and reference [1] valued the household possessions at £175-7-0 and stock in trade at £3395-19-6; after debts the net estate was valued at £1824-15-6.
Anselm Beaumont went to India as a Free Merchant, probably in the mid 1730’s. During the Siege of Calcutta, he was serving in the Militia and escaped to Fulta, after which he was appointed a Factor for the East India Company “because of his honourable conduct and his great losses in the late general calamity” [reference 2]; in particular he helped to value the houses near the Fort which were to be levelled [reference 3]. His first appointment was to the Court of Cutcherry where he appears as one of the signatories on a letter dated 19 January 1759 to the Board protesting against the interference of the President with the discharge of their duties. In November 1759 he was the Provincial Military Store Keeper and in 1763 the Military Store Keeper at Fort William. Beaumont is one of Englishmen featured in the painting by Benjamin West, Lord Clive Receiving the Grant of the Diwani, currently on loan to Powis Castle from the India Office Collection, although he was not present at the ceremony on 12 August 1765.

Beaumont kept copies of his business letters of which 217 have survived, written between March 1763 and his death in February 1776. In letter 46 dated 5 October 1763, he wrote to George Challoner, a London merchant “the Company have sent out an Assay Master which I should have been well pleased with if I was to have remained in the Country as a proper person in that Station will take off a great deal of trouble from me [in the Mint] as I have always superintended that particular Branch tho’ I find according to the reports in the Tower we have not been very Accurate in our Assays neither do I believe there is any Method yet found out of an absolute Certainty in the fineness of Money”. His letters are contemporary with Harry Verelst’s letter book for 1762-63, which contains about 25 letters to Beaumont or to Beaumont and Watts between January 1761 and October 1762 [reference 5] and letters written by Richard Barwell to Beaumont between 15 September 1765 and 1776, transcripts of which may be found in references 6 and 7.

In letter 17 dated 26 April 1763, Beaumont wrote to Thomas Waters (an EIC director): “it was resolved to send two members of the Board in Order to confer with the Nabob & to Amicably Adjust all disputes with him it was likewise determined that a Senior Servant should attend them & be left behind in the Character of Resident this Latter I applied for & being the Senior Servant in Calcutta I did not imagine they could refuse me Mr Vansittart the very morning before the Appointment was made assured me of his interest & friendship on this Occasion saying at the same time that he should be glad of the Opportunity of placing me in a Situation that would be agreeable to me I acquainted him at that time that I had heard & was persuaded that some of the Members of the Board were inclined in favor of another person he again Assured me of his Interest & every argument in his power to recommend me to the Board the next morning came on the Appointment & instead of its being offered (as usual in such instances) to the Senior Servant a Candidate was proposed & accepted & it was Accordingly put to the Vote the Governor & 9 of the Council were present besides which the Major of the Kings forces1 & the Major of the Company2 Five of the Council did me the honor of their Votes in my favor & four were against me & the Major of the Companys forces – Major Adams of the Kings tho’ much pressed to it declined giving his Vote on this Occasion saying that as there was no Military Concern he thought he was not entitled to give his Vote the Major of the Companys forces not withdrawing his Vote for the same reason made the Voices equal – it then depended on the Governor who being asked for his Vote after much hesitation & how disagreeable it was for him to decide an affair between two people for both whom he had the highest Esteem & who were so equally unexceptionable for the Employ he gave his Vote in favor of a person at least a Dozen below me in the Service”. An almost identical letter was sent to another director, Christopher Baron. The new Resident appointed to Monghyr was Thomas Amphlett, Chief Engineer at Fort William, who was murdered at Patna on October 3rd by Mir Kasim – Beaumont was lucky not to be selected. In letter 74 dated 7 January 1764, he wrote to John Pybus, Resident at Masulipatam, “Major Carnac who thought proper to give his Vote (which he had no right to give at all) against has occasioned a coolness between us” Following this disappointment, he resolved to return to England at the end of 1763. However he wrote to Richard Gamon, a London merchant and partner of Challoner, in letter 54 on 25 November 1763: “the troubles that we have had here has prevented me so fully collecting in my affairs as is necessary & likewise the little prospect of that Ship being
dispatched early has made me determine to stay one year more & in consequence of which I have accepted of the Chiefship of Midnapore a post if I was to remain two or three years would be very Advantageous however I do not purpose to be tempted by any Emoluments to continue longer than next November & if there had been any hopes of dispatching the Boscawen early I should have most certainly taken my leave of India this Season” and to George Challoner in letter 60 dated 7 December 1763: “I wrote you before the many disappointments & ill treatments that I had met with in the Service however my Appointment to Midnapore was unanimous & unsollicited & since that the Governor has sent his Brother to me & invited me to an eclairisement when he made so many Apologies for his former Conduct to me & that I could not with any Decency refuse a Reconciliation however I told him my Sentiments upon it very plainly but concisely & finished the Conversation by telling him that the less that was said on that subject the Better& we are to be good friends in future”.

At Midnapore, one concern was the completion of the Fort. He wrote to Henry Vansittart, Governor of Bengal, in letter 61 dated 8 December 1763: “The Fort as far as Major Knox left directions is now near compleated but as it is absolutely necessary to build the Ramparts to the Curtains & proper Lodgements with all expedition & as I have nobody here that knows how to direct & superintend that work I request the favor that you would order a proper person to be sent here that it may be finished before the next Rains, I must likewise request that you would Order to be sent here two good Smiths to compleat the Iron Work for the Gun Carriages”. In letter 64 dated 13 December 1763, he wrote: “I do not think a professed Engineer necessary for that purpose as the principal part now wanting to make it defensible are the Platforms to the Curtains as at present they are on Bare Walls without any communication from Bastion to Bastion to form the Musquetry upon”. In letter 92 dated 7 March 1764, he wrote; “there is a large Magazine under one of the Bastions but by an Error in the construction (air holes having been omitted) it is excessively damp consequently unfit till rectified to deposit any Stores in – Mr Polier3 when he was here formed a plan of what was necessary to complete this Fort but left me no Directions how to process in any part of it indeed he told me that I had no person here proper to superintend the Work without committing many Errors but promised to propose to you the sending Mr Huygens (whom he could spare) for that purpose & in expectation of his coming I have been making Bricks & collecting all materials Necessary for the proceeding in the Business, but as it is now more than a Month since Mr Polier left Midnapore & Mr Huygens not arrived I am at a loss to know whether I should continue employing so many people as are at present entertained therefore I shall esteem it a favor your Orders & if you do not approve of the Fort being as yet compleated I would discharge a great Many as all the business which poor Major Knox gave directions about is now finished excepting the Esplanade which had better be deferred till the rains set”. In letter 102 dated 2 April 1764, he wrote: “I have mentioned to Mr Roper to have particular attention & Care to the Small Arms & indeed he is very diligent & assiduous in
disciplining the Men to make them fit for Service I shall be obliged if you would us a Supply of Chunam4 as soon as possible if not the full quantity I mentioned as much as you can spare as I fear we shall very soon be distressed for it we being obliged to reject a good deal that they bring in from this Country”, and in letter 103 dated 8 April 1764 he wrote:

“Inclosed I send you an Indent for the Arms wanted for this Battallion & have mentioned to Mr Roper in regard to the Supernumerary Jemauldar which it seems was only inserted as he was received here but he was immediately provided for in this Battallion & as I hope it will be compleated the Month all the things you mentioned will be rectified in the next return & we should be glad if you would Order the Sergeants to be sent us as soon as possible was we are in want of them having only one here – I shall try the expedient you propose for the Chunam but I doubt much of success as I fear the Boats will have left Rangafulla before my people can et there therefore I hope you will contrive some Method that we may not be distressed”. In letter 105 dated 8 May 1764, he wrote: “Your will know our danger here better than I can inform you if the Enemy should detach a body of horse to these provinces it will not be in our power to prevent them ravaging the Country but if it is not considerable & they do not bring Artillery with them I do not apprehend that they will be able to make any impression on the Fort – Mr Roper tells me that he gave you last month an exact return of the Ammunition which does not amount to above 30 Rounds a man which he says will go but a little way in case we are attacked therefore I should be obliged if you would to order a supply immediately & to send us some Sergeants as we have only one here & it will be impossible for Mr Roper & him to go through the fatigue of the Attention that will be necessary if we are besieged”.

He also corresponded with Vansittart on Indian affairs. In letter 61 “I have wrote to the Committee of Lands acquainting them that I had consulted with Mr Burdett5 in regard to adjusting the Jeskish for the ensuing year & as by what I can Learn from him that they will not admit of an increase I shall proceed Directly to settle it in the same manner as last years however after having finished that business I shall use all the means in my power to obtain as exact a valuation of the Lands as possible in order to form a general Statement of the whole for your Approbation”. In letter 72 dated 4 January 1764, he wrote: “This evening was brought to me a Hircarra6 which was stopped by my people at Jellasore with the four Inclosed Letters for yourself Meer Jaffeir Roy Dullub & Angroo Sing Hircarra the Hircarra informs me that he left Cuttack about ten days ago & ten days before that time there were arrived at Cuttack One Bimbagee with 4 Jemauldars & five thousand horse from a Place called Sambalpore which by what I can learn is about Twenty days from Cuttack I shall detain the Hircarra here till I am favored with your Answer”. Three days later he wrote in letter 75 “I have been informed that Shaik Ian Mahommed Jemauldar to the Moorbunge Raja came on the 2nd of Jan with an armed force & plundered & burnt Raybunnia & Fullatta villages belonging to the Fort & on the 4th the Moorbunge Raja himself with a considerable Army Arrived at Almarra & his intentions are said to keep possession of those places which if he
effects [the] Raytts7 of Danton Razgur Jellasore & Lampachoor will not be able to remain there & they are much alarmed at the Rajas arriving in those districts you will know by the Letter that I sent you of Shubutts disposition & whether this may be in Consequence of his intentions & are sensible that I have no force here at present to send to Jellasore nor anybody to conduct a proper party if I could spare one for this Service I have wrote to the Moorbunge Raja that if he does not desist from these Violences that I will immediately send a force to plunder & to destroy his whole Country the which I hope that you will enable me to do & that you will see the Necessity of always having a Detachment at Jellasore”. Two days later on 9 January, he wrote in letter 76 “by my Advices from Jellasore of the 8th he had taken Rayabunnee Fort & was Advancing to Burdea a Kellah8 about four Coss9 from Jellasore I have ordered a Company of Sepoys to Jellasore more with an intention to intimidate than any effectual Service that I can expect from so small a party& only a Subadar to command”, and in letter 78 dated 12 January “I hope to hear to morrow what effect that & my letter has had on the Moorbunge Raja who has been encouraged by our having no force there to collect as I hear many of his people together & is advancing so that probably I shall be obliged to send there another Company with a Couple of Guns but for that I shall wait for the Arrival of an Officer & the Burdwan Company to go on that Service as if our Troops are obliged to Cross the River it will be necessary to punish him with some severity to prevent these outrages in future”. He wrote in letter 92 “the Borderers of both parties are continually plundering each Other but for the Jemauldar of Rajabunna so far from harkening to him when he came to me I dismissed him with a very severe reprimand I ordered him indeed to be put in possession of his Kellah but gave him to Understand that if I heard any more Complaints against him I would immediately take from him his Pergunnah10 & give it to some person who would keep the people in better subjugation I have before wrote you the substance of my Correspondence with the Moorbunge Rajah & in my reply to his Last Latter to me I told him that if he had complained to me I would have taken care to have fully redressed him but that I would allow no one but myself to punish the Company’s Ryatts in their District & for the Violences that he had committed I expected that he would send a Vakeel11 to me to Adjust the Damages that he had done the Company this I apprehend has been the Occasion of his application to you, it seems that he looks upon it as an indignity to him to send a Vakeel but if you write to him & give him such Orders I believe he will comply with it as to his Claims I cannot at present inform you how far he is entitled but since my Adjusting the Jeskish I have been endeavouring to obtain an exact Account of the Companys possessions here & shall very soon come to the districts he mentions when I shall make particular enquiry into the force of his pretensions”. He wrote in letter 103 “my Moonsey12 who has been to Jaggernaut
pagoda is arrived with me & gives me following intelligence (that during his stay there) were about 40 horses he heard from different people that as soon as Shubut returned to Cuttack that he intended an Expedition to Bengal my Moonsey who left Cuttack about 12 days ago & Ballasore 5 days says that there were no forces at either place but that he was informed Mocund Punditt had marched from Cuttack about a month since with seven thousand Horse to the Northward through the Jungles and as some said to Moorbunge & Others with an intention to enter these provinces he tells me likewise that he heard at Cuttack that One Godah Punditt had arrived there some time since from Meer Cossim to Sollicit some forces – I was informed about 3 days since by one of my Hircarras that about five thousand of Shubuts forces were arrived within 3 days of Ballasore & that they intended to proceed to the Moorbunge Country but as I had received Letters of a Later date from Mr Marriott13 & the Moonsey at Ballasore which made no mention of any such particular I gave no Credit to it Mr Marriott informed me the 30th Ultimo that Shubut was returned from Jaggernaut & that he had sent a Letter to be forwarded to you therefore if you have rec’d it you will be able to judge if he has any intentions this Way the Moorbunge has for this Month had many of his people assembled about Almarreh under pretence of Celebrating some marriages but they have continued very quiet on their own Side of the River”. Finally in letter 106 dated 8 May 1764, he wrote “I have received your favor of the 10th Instant by which I conclude that we are in
no danger here of a Visit from the Northward but I fear we are not so secure from the Southward as I apprehended as by a Letter Last Night from Mr Marriott he informs me that the Godah Punditt who I formerly wrote you was sent by Meer Cossim with presents to Shubut was now in great Esteem & more Caressed by Chimnasa the new Suba than he ever was by Shubut & that he was now on his March to Ballasore under pretext of fixing Basque punditt in the Fouzdarry14 Mr Marriott further Adds that it is reported the Gannoogie has sent some forces to Meer Cossim but does not mention the number or from whence detached, in Case we should be attacked here it will take three Companies to Man the defences of the Fort by which you will observe that a Batallion in Garrison will but just be sufficient to form
the necessary relieves to prevent the Troops being too much fatigued – I mention these things that you may judge how far the detachment from hence you order may be spared to be sent to Burdwan and which it shall be in readiness to dispatch by the time I can receive your Answer to this but in case you think it necessary to detach the five Companys from hence I shall be obliged to order in the party from Jellasore the consequence of which will be that Moorbunge Raja & the Companys Ryatts will Commence plundering each Other which will throw that Chucklah15 into the greatest confusion & I shall not be able to remedy the Evil”.

Another issue was the speed of communication with Vansittart. In letter 102, he wrote “I have received your favors of the 28th & 29th ultimo and now Inclose you an Account the Stages for the Tappies16 from Calcutta to Ballasore (Copy No 1 that which you sent me & on the Other side one that I have obtained here) by which Route they may come at all Seasons of the year without Boats excepting from Bouge Bouge17 to Cross the river only to proceed to Ouly Barriah from whence for Midnapore there are always Boats ready to cross the little Nullahs with occasioning their Stay a Moment if you should think proper to try the Route I have now sent you I request that you will give Orders for the hour of Dispatch to be marked on the outside of the packet that I may be able to inform you whether there has been any Neglect in the Tappies as I apprehend there frequently has in your dispatches to me they sometimes arriving here by six of Clock in the morning & at other times not before 3 or 4 o Clock in the afternoon which I imagine must have arisen from the head Man of the Tappies detaining them till the Tide serves to send them a considerable part of the Way by Boat By the route which I now send you if the Tappies do their duty they may go from Calcutta to Ballasore this Season of the year in very little more than two days & during the whole Rains in three days or less”.

Beaumont’s principal mercantile concern appears to have been salt. Harry Verelst, the Resident at Chittagong, had written to Beaumont on 31 August 1762 “I have not yet disposed of your salt the person who was about it is gone over to Luckypore to look after the means, the money to pay for it he told me before he went if he could raise the money he would take it however you need not give yourself any concern whether he does or not I doubt not of disposing of it to equal advantage otherways thirteen of your boats with thirteen thousand Gunny18 Bags are arrived at Rajabarry19 the bags I shall take on my account” and on 5 October 1762 “Your salt is not yet disposed owing to the trouble and interruption the Nabob’s people are willing to give us in every quarter they have stopped the Sale of this article at
Rajabarry and other places about And have forbid anyone having dealings with our people on any account. However you may be assured it shall not remain on hand much longer.” However there were problems with the boats and Beaumont wrote in letter 18 on 29 April 1763 “I had your favour of the 8th of April with a Letter from Gocul20 for my Banian which is the first that he has received & which Gocul in a manner acknowledges by pleading a miscarriage of Letters which could scarcely happen as all yours have arrived safe here I wrote you in October Last & my Banian wrote at the same time to Gocul which went inclosed in mine that the Mangees21 of the Boats were willing to return all the Money that had been Advanced them (excepting some trifling allowance for those with the Gunnys) on Condition of being released at Rajabeharry as their Boats as they said were improper to proceed to Sundup22 was to have been settled by your Gomastah there but as the Boats have been detained now so much Longer I conclude they will expect to be paid something considerable on that Account which will be hard for me to suffer as it has been Occasioned by Goculs Remissness in not giving Orders to your Gomastah to adjust that affair My Banian has not Rec’d any Advice from Islamabad of that affair being as yet settled therefore I request the favour of you to order it to be immediately finished& an Account to be transmitted me As I cannot tell what to Debit your Account till that is done the Mangees have had Advanced to them CR 4300 & my Gomastah had their receipts & Accounts for the Money therefore there could be no difficulty on that Account”.

In letter 22 dated 27 May 1763, Beaumont wrote to Patrick Campbell at Patna “I wrote to you the 24th Instant inclosing Invoices & 2 parcels of Salt on my Account but I forgot to send you at the same time a Muster23 of it which I think very necessary that you may judge whether it has been mixed with anything in the passage which I believe is very frequently practised to avoid which in some measure I have sent you mine in Bags being less subject to that fraud than when sent in Bulk & I apprehend the difference in the quality of the salt is very often the Occasion of the great difference in the price which we hear of here in Calcutta as I think no artifice can well Occasion one person selling that article for near 30 per cent more than another if of the same goodness this I doubt not will claim your attention & that you will sell mine for as good a price as can be obtained with which I shall be perfectly satisfied in my Cash I wrote you to dispose of what may be delivered to you at the Market price but that I leave entirely to your discretion if there is a prospect of its Advancing as I know that in the Months of August & September that Article generally sells better than at any Other time of the year & what I meant by selling at the Market price was that I always wish to have such Adventures terminated soon”. In letter 25 dated 20 June 1763, he wrote “I had the pleasure of your favour of the 5th Instant & wish that with you my salt was safe arrived at Patna but fear that I shall not soon have that good fortune as I have sometime since rec’d Advices of the 1st parcel being arrived at Monghur & Landed there & part of it Sold & now I hear that his Excellency
has Ordered all the English Gholas to be Locked up & not a grain of any Englishmans to be sold on any pretence whatsoever I have given orders to my Gomastah long since on this subject but I apprehend there must be a stop put to our Correspondence as I have had no answer which I ought to have received before now, Watts24 is sensible of the ill usage he has met with in the parcel of Salt you mention & has taken some measures to be redressed I am sorry to hear from you so bad an Account of Our Adventure when your Statement of it Arrives I shall examine a little into it & endeavour to make those people responsible that have been the Occasion of it as I have often told my friend Watts that his too great easiness with those people has encouraged them to be guilty of these impositions & this is not the first that
we have suffered by these Rascals”. In letter 58 dated 7 December 1763, he wrote to Stanlake Batson, the Resident at Cossimbazar, “I esteemed myself much obliged to you for interesting me jointly with you in the proposal I made to you of my Salt & as we have always been successfull in that Article I should now be better pleased with sending it on those Terms & if Money is the only objection that you have to it will be easily removed as I shall not have Occasion here for more than I brought with me & Marriott will receive soon for me more than sufficient to answer All my Commercial exigencies therefore your proportion of the Adventure may be discharged entirely at your own conveniency, in my last to you & before I left Calcutta I wrote to you that I should only be able to get Boats for about 30000/ Maunds & that I must depend on you for to engage the rest& I gave Orders that as soon as Boats arrived that they would dispatch them to you 10 or 15000/ Maunds at a time in order that I might get as much as I could away before the NWesters set in – you will do me the favor to let me know whether you approve of its being sent on a Joint Account if not I will not trouble you with more than what I have engaged Boats – pray let me know what Orders you gave to my Frenchmen & Gomastahs in regard to the proceeds of my sale in Case they should dispose of it at Subgunge”. In letter 67 dated 24 December 1763 he wrote to Batson “I have rec’d a
Letter from my Gomastahs at SubGunge but very unsatisfactory as they make no mention of the Number of Bags they found in the Gholas there but tell me that they find a considerable deficiency in the Weights & that they have sold part of it at 3/11 the Maund I have no objection to that price but apprehend they must be playing some tricks as my Orders to them were on their Arrival at SubGunge to send to the Sudar at the place that he might be present at the opening of the Gholas & take with them an exact Account of what might be found therein not only the Number of Bags but likewise the Weights that a proper Account may be ascertained of the loss I have sustained either by plunder or Otherwise they will write me likewise that they have only collected part of the Money for What they have sold which is quite contrary to the Orders they had from me wherein they were not to sell but for ready Money I have herein inclosed a Letter to them which I request the favor of you to send to them & to order enquiry to be made into their Conduct & if they are as I suspect acting contrary to my interest I shall be obliged if you will order them either to be sent to you or down to Calcutta to Marriott & Barwell that they may be punished, in a few days I hope my people will dispatch to you about 12000/ Maunds of Salt & I shall continue ending as fast as I can get Boats”. In letter 81 dated 28 January 1764 he wrote to Batson “in my last to you I advised that I hoped to dispatch to you about 12000 Maunds of Salt in a few days however
I find great difference in my presence at or absence from Calcutta for instead of having My Salt dispatched last Month I find there has been some difficulty in getting it sent away this & I hear that they have only dispatched about 10000/ Maunds & that within these few days & by my Oracle’s Good Management I do not find that he has the least expectation of getting Boats for more your Boats are not as yet Arrived in Calcutta but it cannot be long first as they have been some time at the Jellup & I have ordered these to be loaded & dispatched with the utmost expedition & whatever Boats more you may send”, and in his undated letter 82 “I am sorry to hear so bad an Account of my Subgunge Adventure as a good deal of the Salt must have been pillaged & my Gomastahs there have behaved very ill during the whole time of their being employed & even according to Le Dains Acc’t the Loss of the Boat he now mentions must have been Occasioned by excessive Carelessness the Amount of this Adventure from Calcutta is near 12000/ with the charges since that you will be a good judge how this affair is likely to turn out to me the quantity dispatched was 4496 Bazar Maunds there was 1 Boat of 300 Bags lost before it arrived there & the same quantity in this last Misfortune which I mention that you may judge of the quantity remaining for by the Acct the Gomastahs have sent to me of that sold at Subgunge they make out 25 per cent was dried away which is impossible for Golajat Salt which this was & lost me 159 Rupees the 100 Maunds Inclosed I send you Invoice of the Salt already dispatched which I have charged at 115 the price of Amyatts & Ellis’s at Outcry25 & which I intended to establish for my whole quantity as between us but as I find that Boats are not to be got in Calcutta & that the Necessity of some for to get the ready Money have made them offer even below that price I
do not desire that you should have any Concern in what may remain at Calcutta after the dispatch of the Boats you sent without you approve of it & can provide Boats for it you will therefore be so good as to let me know whether you chuse that the remainder of my Salt should be kept on our Joint Account or whether I shall dispose of it on my Own I do not
propose to charge you any Interest for the Salt as Amyatts &c was sold at 6 months Credit”.
In letter 91 dated 28 February 1764, he wrote to Batson “I am advised this day that your first fleet of 37 Boats are Loaded& as the Season is so far Advanced I have ordered them to be dispatched by the Jellingee26 as the NWesters being set in going by the Woods would be attended by too great Risque Your Other Boats as soon as they arrive from Jellingee I have ordered to be repaired Loaded &c dispatched the same Way with all the Light Boats to proceed to Patna as soon there is water enough … for regard to my Subgunge Salt I request the favor of you to conclude that Adventure before you leave Patna” and in letter 104 dated 17 April 1764 “I now inclose you Invoice & Muster of the last fleet we were a little unfortunate in the Outset of this last as One Boat was lost before they got out of sight of Calcutta by which you will observe there are about 200 Maunds of salt lost if this is the whole we shall not have much reason to Complain the Other fleet arrived safe at the Jellingee & will proceed as soon there is Water sufficient for them to pass”. Beaumont wrote in letter 114 dated 30 January 1765 to Richard Barwell “I have received your favors of the 4th & 7th with that Inclosed from Wood27 with your Answer which is so fully & so properly that I shall having nothing to write to that Gentleman but cannot help observing that his tenderness for Dandies Mangees28 Burdars & Conductors of Salt fleets must ruin him if he engages in that Business I do not mean that I would be against any reasonable Allowance to them but where their fraudulent proceedings or Neglect is so obvious they ought to have punishment instead of Reward& as Wood mentions 16 parcels in some Boats & 10 parcels in all must proceed from Villainy & as for the pretence of the Boats being pressed is a downright falsity as the Boats contracted with Mr Batson at Patna to return with a Lading of Saltpetre29 so I had nothing to do with them but pay them the Advances as he agreed upon & to Load the Salt which was done as fast as they could take it in which you know as well or better than me” and in letter 125 dated 11 December 1765 “I thank you for your attention to My Salt Adventure with Batson to Patna I observe you charge my Accounts with the whole Money Advanced to that fleet under Ricardo whereas you should have received half of any expenses attending
it from Mr Batson’s Attorney likewise Mr Hatley30 should be charged with his proportion of my half of those Expences I must confess I wish these Adventures were terminated & I hope soon to hear of them being finished tho’ I fear this will turn out a blamish Account while Ricardo was in my Employ I thought he acted with assiduity & fidelity & I was perfectly satisfied with his behaviour which was the Occasion of my sending him up to conduct that fleet & my Orders to him were to send Passoa down to you without harkening to any excuses I do not know how to Account for this strange Conduct of his but I must request that you will look into & examine this Affair & get it finished as well as you Can I can only be sorry for giving you so much trouble if the Boats that the Salt is at present on cannot proceed to Patna I should think it would be most Advisable to Sell it where it is or at the nearest place rather than to Shift on Other Boats which must be attended with a fresh expence which the price at Patna will scarcely Answer however I leave all this to you for you must know better than I can at this distance”. In letter 143 dated 14 May 1766 to Richard Barwell he wrote“I hope in your Next to hear of the Salt being sold at Patna as Johnstone31 tells me it was upon the rise when he came away even to 3½ therefore I conclude an Opportunity will be taken to dispose of it at some price with which I must be content but shall be obliged to you for your continuing attention to the proceedings in this affair”. In letter 66 dated 24 December 1763, he wrote to John Burdett “Agreeably to your prospect I am to pay you the whole Money that you have Advanced being 15000 besides which I am to allow you a profit of 30000/CR which in the Whole amounts to 45000 CR this I am to pay immediately on receiving the Contracts from you & am to Answer all further demands of your Contracts which will be about 15000/ more for which I am to receive 7000/ Maunds of Salt but supposing from Various Circumstances of Weather &c these people that you have contracted with should not be able to make this Season more than half the quantity they have agreed to deliver you are very sensible that all these people are incapable of repaying any part of the Money Advanced them, & in such Circumstances I shall have Advanced the Sum of CR 60000/ & must compell them to fulfill their Contracts as well as I can & till the Last year which was remarkably favorable I never knew or have heard that they were fully complied with Sir give me leave to make my proposal to you which is that I will pay you the full money that you have Advanced & a profit of CR 30 for every hundred Maunds being the 70000/ Maunds Mentioned which will amount to 21000 CR profit on the 15000/ you have Advanced this whether you comply with or not I hope that you will not think an ungenerous offer & as I shall ever wish to retain your Esteem be assured of my highest consideration for you and if you approve of the above proposal I will pay you in Companys Interest Notes which I conclude will Answer your purpose equally the same as Money” Beaumont had interests in opium. In letter 3 dated 20 March 1763 he wrote to Roger Carter, Governor of Bencoolen, “I should gladly Accept of your offer of a Joint Concern in Opium if to be bought at a reasonable price but it is now
Advanced here to 750 Current Rupees per Chest & very little to be had as the whole that has been made this Last Season in the province of Patna does not amount to 1000 Maunds32 & the usual quantity one year with another amounted to about 8000 Maunds at the above price I cannot imagine that it can answer to send you therefore I shall wholly decline that part of your Commission – you will have a small quantity sent you by this Conveyance on the Company Account”. He wrote to letter 114 to Barwell “you have done very right for Watts in disposing of his Opium that great Advantages in that Trade is now over & it must fall in Bengal to its usual price it will not at present sell for anything here it would not fetch Last year at Macao 400 Dollars the Chest therefore Many Adventurers in Bengal I fear will be great Sufferers I think & hope you are not of the Number”. Beaumont traded in various textiles mostly for European customers. In letter 3 to Roger Carter at Bencoolen dated 20 March 1763, he wrote “I shall Comply with your Indent as fully as I can but all sorts of Goods are so very dear & Ordinary that I do not expect to give you so much satisfaction as I used & always wish there is not a piece of Sostromalls in the place & I have only been able to pick up a few pieces of Hummums & some Baftas33 200 pieces of Hummums & 400 pieces of Jugdea Baftas I shall send by the Syria & consign them to Mr Wyatt at Natal 34 & shall insure them None of the sorts of Cossars35 you mention are to be got”. In letter 13 dated 18 April 1763 he wrote to Robert Orme36 in London “in my Last of Feb 18th ultimo I advised you of having sent per Ship Drake six half pieces of striped Dooreas directed as you desired for Lady Holderness37 these as well as what was sent before per Ship Godolphin I hope will arrive safe with you Inclosed I send you the Account of the Cost of Both parcels & have drawn upon you for the Ballance amounting to £45: 7: 2 in favor of Mr George Challoner of London”. In letter 21 dated 15 May 1763, he wrote Charles Bourchier38 “I hope Long before this the Houghton is arrived with you & that you have rec’d the soosies39 & Bandannas40 [for Mrs Bourchier to take with her] I sent you by that Conveyance … sometime since my friend Pybus41 wrote me that he should send for you 4 pieces of Cloth for me in order to be painted for Palampores I shall therefore when you receive them you will oblige me much in getting them finished in the best manner as they are designed for Europe & you will please to let me have them in time to send them by our early ships the next season … I shall esteem it a favour likewise if you’ll send me 10 pieces of the finest Poulicat Handkerchiefs & 2 pieces of fine striped Gingham”.
He wrote to Thomas Waters in London in letter 63 dated 10 December 1763 “under the Care of Capt Shottowe 42 I sent you six pieces of Sannoes43 as you desired they were not very good but the best that the Companys Adventures afforded I have by this conveyance sent you 4 pieces more which I think are very good & I hope will meet with your Approbation
& as I am now situated in the Country near where that Cloth is made I shall try if I cannot get made some of a superior quality than what I have seen for some years”, and in letter 101 dated 19 March 1764 “I wish Mrs Waters had sent me a Slip of any sort of Cloth that she had wanted as I then could have got it made for her as most of the things she mentioned to have seen have been made purposely for those Ladies however I must Beg of you to make my
Compliments to her & I will write to a friend at Dacca to get for me some fine Muslin & if there is anything curious & fit for a Gown to be provided I will send them next Season”. He wrote from London to Francis Charlton, second in command at Dacca in 1765, in letter 134 dated 20 February 1766 “you have provided for me 12 ½ pieces of Dooreas for Lady Holderness & 4 pieces of Chicon Work & 2 pieces of White Bord Handkerchiefs the 2 Latter Articles I could
never get the Value of from you & which I shall now be obliged for you may know what is due to me & whatever it may be I should be obliged if you would send me in very fine Muslin if to be got what is curious either Mulmuls Tanjeebs44 or Corded”. Other items that he handled included cloves and cinnamon for Roger Carter (letter 3) “I have rec’d from Capt Skottowe
the Chest of Cloves &c the former will always Answer here if Good & the usual price is from 8 to 9 Rupees the seer45 as the present price is only 6 Rupees Occasioned by a large quantity in the place that part you mention to be flung out are of no Value here & when mixed with the Cloves (which often happens) always diminishes according to the quantity mixt with them the Musters of Cassia46 are the finest that I ever saw from the West Coast the fine thin Quilly sort will fetch 40 Rupees the Maund & the Other 25 or 30 & I should apprehend it would prove greatly to your Advantage to encourage the Collecting of the first Sort for the Europe Market where it will always will sell to great Advantage I have sent you as per Invoice 50 Bags of fine Rice & shall send you per Nancy Ketch 50 more which I apprehend will not be disagreeable tho’ you do not mention it & all things will be sent freight free”. Charles Bourchier (letter 21) was asked for Russian leather “I must further request of you that upon receipt of this you will enquire whether there are any Bulgar Hides47 at your Market & if to be purchased at 2½ or 3 pagodas48 the pair of the Large sort you will be so good as to buy
on My Account two or three to 4 hundred pair & send them to me per first Opportunity at as easy a freight as you Can if they are not of the Large sort they will not suit me at any price therefore I request your attention to that particular the Large sort should weigh seven to 8 pound each Hide they generally are brought out 5 pair in a Bundle which if the proper sort will weigh from 35 seer to one Bengal Maund the five pair if you can purchase such as above at 2½ pagodas the pair you may send me 400 pair at 3 pagodas the pair you will only send me 200 pair but you may go as far as 3¼ pagodas the pair but if you are obliged to give that price you will only send me 100 pair”; however in letter 29 dated 20 July 1763 Beaumont wrote “the person must have been much imposed upon if he gave the price mentioned in the Acc’t of the Bulgar Hides as the Dearest that I ever knew them in England was 16d per pound & I think there is a drawback of 2d each pound but the usual price is 14d a piece I should have been glad of 100 pair at the highest of my Limits & if to be purchased at that price or a trifle more as the Exchange is favorable you will be so good as to send 100 pair per first Opportunity”. In letter 111 dated 25 December 1764 he wrote “I inclose to you Invoice & Bill of Lading of One Bale of Cow tails”. Beaumont also traded in claret and Madeira; in letter 38 dated 24 September 1763 to Harry Verelst, he wrote “I have bought for you six half Chests of Claret which I tasted yesterday & I think very good Wood tells me that he has bought for you two whole Chests all which I conclude will be sufficient if not let me know Madeira you must be
well stocked with Joyon has bought with him 30 pipes49 the price of which is fixed at 800/ 20 of them have been bought by the Army there is very little Beer come this Season I have only been able to get 1 Cask for my family which Gregory spared to me some bought in his Vessell from Madras Wood says he supplied you a few Months since with a large Stock therefore be carefull of it he will take care to provide you with Cheese hams pickles & minutiae if anything particular you want inform me & I will get it for you if possible”. Beaumont acted as the agent in Bengal for several London dealers in precious stones but these were proving difficult to sell because of the conflicts in Bengal. In letter 8 to Moseh, Jacob & Raphael France in London dated 15 April 1763 he wrote “I have now remaining three Chests of Coral of yours unsold & your String of Pearl the former I hope to dispose of in time to remit you per first Ship next Season but the Latter I have not the least prospect”, but in letter 52 dated 25 November 1763, he was able to write “I had little hopes of disposing of your String of Pearls consigned to Mr Culling Smith & me however I have tempted a Gentleman with them who is going up the Country & have sold them for Sonnat Rupees 10000/ which produces neat something more than you Limited the proceeds”. He wrote in letter 46 to Challoner“the Manufactory of Sound Coral that I have received from you I have never had any Objection to but the Colors have been lower than should be for this Market & which will always prevent the Sale & as I have often before wrote to you you had better to leave out the very low Colors then send them as they affect the price of the Whole so Essentially; we never sell them separate for if you was to send me a Chest of Grossezzes50 of 7 or Eight Colors I do not sell each Color at a different price but the whole together as one Estimation the Merchants here I doubt not make their first Valuation separately & then offer a price for the Whole they would very gladly buy the High Colors out of each Chest which if I
was to comply with the low Colors would remain to Eternity … Your 2 Chests of Compound Glass remain invendible here if we have a Ship to China this year I will freight it there on your Acc’t … there is no Prospect of a Demand here [for the two chests of coral] while the troubles subsist & I do not believe that a Seer of Coral has been sold in Calcutta these six Months Ross51 sends me his Valuation of [Chest] No 23 at pagodas 5100/ but I apprehend he must be greatly mistaken”. He wrote in letter 60 “All your Pearl & Emeralds likewise … your Lapis Lazuli & philosophers stone I have consigned to Capt Webber52 (who is going to China)” and in letter 93 dated 10 March 1764 to Mann Horner in Canton, he wrote “I hope you will be more successfull in it than I have been the three Large Pearl valued at £1050/ was originally
sent to China Under the Directions of Mr Wood but he having no offer so near the Value consigned it to me, Mr Gamon writes me that he was offered 1900/ Taka53 for them which he mentions he says for my Government”. On his own account he wrote to Patrick Campbell in letter 20 dated 24 May 1763 “you will observe that there are a parcel of Boxes& Tweezers part of a very bad Adventure I have long since had from Europe I could often have sold the Boxes at a very good price but I was inclined to get rid of both together the mounting & utensils of Boxes & Cases are of silver double gilt which it seems enhanced the price” and in letter 25 “It is over two years since Mr Batson consigned to Mr Fullerton54 at Patna a small Chest of Amber Beads on My Acct & it is now more than a year since Mr Fullerton Advised Mr Batson that he was offered 22 Rupees the seer which tho’ lower than the Cost he was desired to accept”. On the social side, he wrote to Harry Verelst in letter 1 dated 10 March 1763 “Watts … was most certainly in a very miserable situation deeply smitten with the charms of Miss Fenwick but he received from her sweet Mouth a Plump Refusal and declined writing that family in Order to recover of the Wounds he had received however within these ten Hugh has had another interview & whether (notwithstanding she has many admirers) nothing better has Offered he has I believe now obtained permission to pay his Addresses in form & things appear to go on to his satisfaction & I apprehend it will not be long before everything will be Concluded the World here says that the 2 Majors were in the List of Swains & that the Company appears somewhat disappointed at the rapid progress of Hugh who tells me that his future happiness depends on her Smiles” and he wrote in letter 18 “Hugh Watts could not keep Lent & prevailed upon Miss Fenwick to Accept of him the 27th of March55 She is a fine Girl & I hope they will be very happy they live Chiefly at the Garden house which will be very handsome when the Upper Rooms are finished”. He wrote in letter 46 to Challoner “Miss Hyett I understand comes out on the British King you may be assured that I shall shew her all the Civilities in my power but I am astonished at her Relations sending out a Young Lady to this Country without any Connections or without any Acquaintance that I can find such a young Lady as Miss Hyett should have been recommended to the protection of some Lady here for there is no Asking anybody here to take her into their family which must be attended with considerable expence as well as trouble & Calcutta is not Like London where you can Lodge & Board in reputable familys – the Market here is by much Overstocked & the young fellows are not so fond of Matrimony as they used & there are very few of them that have thousands instead of Laaqs We have at present on hand 8 or 9 spinsters of a former importation not yet disposed & many of this year that I fear will be disappointed in their
expectations I hope it will not be Miss Hyetts Case if Mrs Watts who came out this year could have been prevailed upon to take her Under her protection you would have acted properly if she is strongly recommended to Mr Vansittart he will certainly engage some Lady or Other to take Care of her but for my part I am not intimate enough with any of them to ask such a favor”; however in letter 88 dated 16 February 1764 to Thomas Waters, he was able to write “I have none of your favors by the British King saving that by Miss Hyett & you may be assured that Young Lady would have claimed my Utmost Attention if my Residence had been in Calcutta She has not much depended on the Golden Tales she may have heard of Bengal as she thought proper to engage herself to Capt Pigou before her Arrival & was married soon
after56 I cannot think her prudence in any Shape impeached by this Step as he has the Character of a very Worthy Man besides she might have heard that the Bengal Market was well stocked with fair Candidates for the Nuptial State however by that description I have of her it would have depended on herself how long she would remain Single as I hear she is a very Amiable young Lady”. At the end of 1764 Beaumont returned to returned to England on HMS Medway with Henry Vansittart. He found England expensive; in letter 130 dated 20 February 1766 to Richard Barwell, he wrote the “great part of my time since my Arrival has been passed in the Country Six Weeks at Bath where are always to be seen many pretty Women but I do not thirst after Conjugal Joy it would be a dangerous place for you Nothing but Money is wanting to make old England Agreeable when you are in the Way of quitting do not be in too great a hurry to leave India for it is not a little will do especially for those in the Connubial Way I have already found out that Economy will be very necessary for me in my
Limited Station as every Expence is greatly enhanced I have taken Lodgings in Pall Mall for which I give 100 Guineas a year & I have built a Carriage but have Job horses which Cost a 100 Guineas a year more this Method I shall try for One year by which time I shall discover the inconveniences; it appears to be the easiest for those who are not always in London which will scarcely be my Case as I still have a propensity to roving & I have many friends in different parts of the Country & what with visiting them & publick places will take up Six or Seven Months of the year therefore I apprehend that Lodgings will be more convenient than a house for me as with the Latter I must keep an extraordinary Servant or two to take care of it during my Absence”. In letter 131 to Hugh Watts dated 20 February 1766, he wrote “I would not Advise you to be in too great a hurry [to return to England] if your health does not require it as a Little Money will not do, every Expence is so much increased especially with a family I already find that Economy will be very Necessary for me as you may Judge by what I have wrote you however I do not as many Others have done repent Leaving India as I am arrived at a time of Life that I shall not want so much nor be so fond of Gaiety however it must now do, & I shall wish to have it all here to be certain of my Income which will prevent me running into an excesses as I do not think of attempting to make any increase as Indians being unqualified for business here I write all this to you that you may be enabled to Judge a proper time for yourself but I would not have you Limit yourself to less than 50 57 which with prudence will do very Genteelly in private Life”. He eventually leased a house in Argyle Street in the Parish of St James, Westminster. His most frequent correspondent was Richard Barwell, to whom he wrote 39 letters while he liaisied with his family and acted as his attorney in London, and Barwell acted for him in India. Like many former Bengallers, Beaumont had considerable trouble transferring his fortune back to England. When the EIC stopped issued bills, he tried unsuccessfully to buy diamonds to transfer his wealth before considering bills issued by the French and Dutch companies, preferring the latter. He even took out a Respondentia bond on a caravan from Basra to Aleppo and then transferred the proceeds using bills drawn on Messrs Hubsch & Timons at Constantinople. In letter 204 dated 24 November 1773 to Richard Barwell, Beaumont wrote “I am going abroad in a few days to Italy where I shall probably be Absent for five or six Months”; he was one of the party accompanying Lord Clive on his travels to France and Italy “to escape harsh weather and to procure works of art for the new house at Claremont” and he wrote to Margaret Clive from Paris on 6th December 1773 (quoted in reference [4]): “And how much we were delighted
at the Opera last night. We were placed in the Amphitheatre among the Ambassadors. My Rotundity to be sure was not much considered as it ought to have been for my Ease, as the Master of Ceremonies fixed me on a Bench one of 5, which would not with propriety contain more than 4. And my being at the End I had not more than Six Inches of bench to sit
upon.” His rotundity is confirmed by a comment in letter 142 dated 27 March 1766 to Barwell “I shall be obliged if you will get Made & sent to me One Dozen of Malda Cossars which Cost with you from 7 to 8 Rupees the piece the shirts to be Made full 2 Courds long & very large both in the Body & in the Sleeves you will remember my rotundity which
is rather increased”. Beaumont died on 8 February 1776 and his “well chosen library in fine condition” was auctioned by Mr Christie on 14 May 1776. His total estate was approximately £50,000 of which about £20,000 was still in India, and his bequests included £500 each to former Bengal colleagues Hugh Watts and Richard Barwell and “£500 to be laid out in rings of equal value to be given to each of those gentlemen who lent him £1,000 at the time of his distress after the capture of Calcutta in 1756”. However it is not clear that all his Indian assets could be realised. Richard Barwell wrote to Ralph Leycester58 (letter number 551 dated 31 December 1777): “I now trouble you with Beaumont’s accounts with me as made up an rendered to him from 10 November 1768 to 10 Jan 1774 whereby a balance of CRs 114,398-11-6 appeared due to him from me” After some allowances he calculates that £11,738-13-5 remains due to the estate. “This I think is a fair way of stating his account ands sufficiently compensates from my having omitted to make the remittance at the time of the Company’s Treasury was open.”


[1] Court of Orphans, City of London CLA/002/02/01/3225.
[2] Hill, Samuel Charles. India Records Series: Bengal in 1756-1757. London: John Murray, 1905. [Public General Letter from the Court 3 March 1758]
[3] Letter from the Council at Fort William to the Court of Directors, 21 Jan 1757.
[4] Woodfield, Ian Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in the Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Indian Society. Oxford: OUP, 2000.
[5] Harry Verelst’s Letter Book 1761-62. British Library, India Office Records Mss Eur F218/79.
[6] ‘The letters of Richard Barwell’, Bengal Past and Present, 8–18 (1914–19).
[7] L. S. Sutherland, ‘Two letter-books of Richard Barwell, 1769–1773’, Indian Archives, 7 (1953), 115–45; 8 (1954), 14–42.


1 Major Thomas Adams took command of the King’s forces in 1762
2 Major John Carnac took command of the Company’s forces in 1760.
3 Antoine-Louis Henri Polier replaced Thomas Amphlett as Chief Engineer at Fort William
4 A lime made of burnt shells.
5 John Burdett was the previous Chief at Midnapore.
6 A soldier or messenger.
7 A peasant or farming tenant.
8 A fort.
9 A measure of distance about 2 miles.
10 A small district consisting of several villages.
11 An attorney
12 A munshi is a secretary or interpreter of Persian.
13 Randolph Marriott was a member of Council at Calcutta in 1763
14 A native criminal court.
15 A territorial subdivision.
16 A tappal is a runner carrying mail.
17 Otherwise known as Baj Baj, a fort on the River Hoogli, about 12 miles downstream from Calcutta.
18 Coarse sacking sacks made from the fibre of jute.
19 Near Dacca. Beaumont spells the pace-name Rajabeharry.
20 Gokul Ghosal was Verelst’s banyan (Hindu merchant). Beaumont’s banian was Chaund Holder.
21 The steersman of a boat.
22 Sandwip is an island near Chittagong where salt was produced.
23 A commercial sample.
24 Hugh Watts was Beaumont’s partner in Calcutta and succeeded him as Resident at Midnapore
25 The auction of effects belonging to William Ellis and Peter Amyatt, both executed by Mir Kasim
26 Jalangi was ariver near Calcutta from the Hoogly to the Ganges.
27 Mr Wood was the agent responsible for receiving the salt manufactured for the Company.
28 A dandy was a boatman and a mangee a steersman of a boat on the Ganges.
29 In letter 114 dated 30 Jan 1765 to Barwell Beaumont wrote that when disposing of the effects in his house, “the Boilers for refining
Saltpetre you may do with as you please”
30 Parker Hatley is mentioned in Verelst’s letters.
31 John Johnstone was Resident at Burdwan.
32 A standard unit of weight in Bengal equal to about 82 pounds.
33 Sostromalls, hummums and baftas were types of cotton cloth.
34 Natal is a port on the west coast of Sumatra.
35 A shirt.
36 Robert Orme was the Histographer to the EIC from 1767 to 1770.
37 Lady Holdernesse was the wife of the 4th Earl, a former Secretary of State.
38 Charles Bourchier was Governor of Madras from 1767 to 1770.
39 A fine coloured cloth.
40 A handkerchief or headscarf made of coloured silk or cotton.
41 John Pybus was the Resident at Masulipatam.
42 Captain of the Royal George.
43 A type of cloth.
45 A fortieth part of a maund, i.e. about two pounds in weight.
46 An inferior kind of cinnamon.
47 Russian leather.
48 A gold coin, used in South India, valued at eight shillings.
49 A pipe is a cask of wine of two hogsheads, equivalent to about 105 gallons.
50 Grossezze is a size of coral.
51 Andrew Ross was a Free Merchant in Madras.
52 William Webber was Captain of the Lord Clive.
53 A coin in Bengal equivalent to the rupee.
54 The surgeon Dr William Fullerton was the only European captured at Patna who was not executed.
55 Hugh Watts married Elizabeth Fenwick on 27th March 1763.
56 Peter Pigou, Captain of the British King married Catherine Hyett on 6th February 1764
57 Shorthand for £50,000.
58 Ralph Leycester, formerly a Member of Council in Calcutta, worked as Beaumont’s partner in London after his return to England
in 1765.





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