Calcutta Peoples, 1876-1901

India'sMostKnownHindoosthan - Solvyn
কলকাতার লোকজন, ১৮৭৬-১৯০১
Calcutta was purchased by the English in 1698, and declared a Presidency Town of the East India Company in 1699. A long time after, following the treaties made in 1765 between the East India Company and the Mughal Emperor and Nawab of Oudh the Bengal Presidency turned into an administrative unit that brought Bengal, Meghalaya, Bihar and Odisha under direct control of the Company.
The characteristics of the Presidency town, its demographic pattern and behavior have been fast changing ever since. Researchers find that the early estimates of the population were partial and untrustworthy. The Calcutta population, estimated by Holwell at 409,000 in 1752, appeared to be ‘very far too high’, and arrived at also by including some outlying villages, beyond the Maharatta Ditch. It also conflicts with the contemporary statistics of Calcutta houses, which was still less than 15,000.

HinduBuildings-Solvyn

Hindu Buildings

It was not before 1876 that a complete Census was taken. The population then enumerated for the whole area of modern Calcutta was 611,784, which grew to 612,307 in 1881, to 682,305 in 1891, and to 847,796 in 1901. On the last two occasions the increases have amounted to 11 and 24 per cent, respectively. The city was seriously overcrowded by European standards,; more than half the population have less than half a room per head and 90 percent, have three-quarters of a room or less. In Burrah Bazar no less than 9,531 persons out of 31,574 are crowded four or more into each room.
In 1901 the mean density was 41 persons per acre for the whole city, and 68 in Calcutta proper. The wards in the centre of the native commercial quarter were the most crowded ward is Colootolla with 261 persons to the acre, followed by Jorasanko (202), Jorabagan (201), and Moocheepara (199). Whereas, in the southern part, the suburbs of Alipore and Ballygunge were of lowest density. The greatest increase in population during the previous decade has occurred in the wards already most populous in 1891.
It can be noticed that young Calcutta with its broad-based multi-ethnic character was destined to be a cosmopolitan city. Only a third of the population of Calcutta in 1901 had been born there, and the rest in other parts of Bengal and one-seventh in other parts of India. The number of persons born in other countries in Asia is 2,973, in Europe 6,701, in Africa 96, in America 175, in Australia 80, and at sea 9. In the whole population there are only half as many women as men. This is due to the large number of immigrants, among whom there are only 279 females to 1,000 males.
Of the number born in other parts of Bengal, the Twenty-four Parganas supplies nearly one-fifth, and large numbers come from Hooghly, Gaya, Patna, Midnapore, and Cuttack. Of those from other parts of British India, the majority are admitted from the United Provinces, chiefly from Benares, Azamgarh, Ghazlpur, and Jaunpur. Of other Asiatics, the Chinese, who congregate in China Bazar and the Bow Bazar and Waterloo Street sections, account for 1,709, of whom only 141 are females. Of those born in Europe, 5,750 are British and 951 come from other countries, France (176), Germany (168), and Austria (108) alone having more than 100 representatives.

EuropeanBuildings-Solvyn

European Buildings

No less than 57 different languages are spoken by people living in Calcutta, of which 41 are Asiatic and 16 non-Asiatic. The Bengali-speaking population numbers 435,000 and the Hindi-speaking 319,000. About 31,000? persons speak Oriya, 29,000 English, and 24,000 Urdu.
By religion 65 per cent are Hindus, 29-4 per cent, Muhammadans, and 4 per cent. Christians, leaving only about 1 per cent, for all other religions combined including 2,903 Buddhists, 1,889 Jews, and 1,799 Brahmos. Hindus preponderate in the north of the city, while the chief Musalman centres are Colootolla and Moocheepara, and the outlying wards near the docks and canals.
Brahmans (83,000) are the most numerous caste, and with Kayasths (67,000), Kaibarltas (37,000), Subarnabaniks and Chamars (25,000 each), Goalas (23,000), and Tantis (21,000) account for more than half the Hindu population. Among the Muhammadans 91 per cent, are Shaikhs and 5 per cent. Pathans, while Saiyids number 8,000. Europeans number 13,571, and Eurosians 14,482. See Imperial Gazetteer of India, v.9 for more

Official statistics apart there are varied types of personal writings, including history, memoir and travel books reflecting on demography and ethnography of Calcutta. There were also some painters who left faithful visual representations of Calcutta populace. Baltazard Solvyns, a Belgian artist, during his stay in Calcutta (1791-18040 did more. He committed himself to portray systematically the people of Calcutta, categorized by race, religion, language and occupation, living in White Town and Black Town. Three of his etchings are being posted here.Courtesy: Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr, Solvyns Project at Texus Univ.

The view at the top is of a marketplace crowded by men and women in varied dress-styles – an etching by Balthazar Solvyns; captioned: Of the Nations Most Known in Hindoostan.

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Calcutta Free School Society, Lal Dighi, Calcutta, 1789

Old Court House, Calcutta
কলকাতা ফ্রি স্কুল সোসাইটি ভবন, লালদীঘি, ১৭৮৯
“On the 21st day of December, 1789, a society was formed in Calcutta, for the purpose of providing the means of education for all children, orphans, and others, not object of the care of the (Military) Orphan Society. The management of this new society was confided, under the patronage of the Governor-general, to twelve governors, viz., the chaplains, churchwardens. Sidemen, and six other gentlemen resident in Calcutta chosen by the subscribers. The governors visit the school in rotation, and meet monthly. The funds were to be raised by a ratable contribution from the civil servants of the Company, and such other contributions as might be procurable: the superintending masters and teachers, male and female, to be elected by the governors: the plan of education to be that usually followed in free schools : the children to be recommended by the subscribers.
As the benefits of the school were designed to be extensively enjoyed, the Governor-generalin Council, at the request of the governors, undertook to communicate the plan and objects of the plan throught the Bengal provinces, and to the governors of Chinsurah and Chandernagore, It was also ordered that the Company’s surgeons should attend the school, whenever it would be necessary, gratuitously; and that such medicines as might be required should be furnished, gratis from the Company’s dispensary. In further promotion of the objects of the institution, the Government consented to allow the sum of Rs. 60 per mensem, for the purpose of employing moonshees, capable of teaching the native languages to the children.” See More

With the change of socio-political scenario and due the growing influences of the orientalist movement, the policy guidelines of the Calcutta School Society raised a serious question as to the extent of benefits it provides to the indigenous people. The Society’s policy was a reflection of the mood of the then Government of India. The Court of Directors also did not encourage the Government of India to do anything for the diffusion of education among the inhabitants. The Marques of Hastings was Governor-General of India when the Charter of the East India Company was renewed in 1813. In their letter to the Governor-General in Council of Bengal, dated 3rd June 1814, the Court of Directors wrote :— “The Clause presents two distinct propositions for consideration ; first, the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and the revival and improvement of literature ; secondly, the promotion of a knowledge of the sciences amongst the inhabitants of that country. “Neither of these objects is, we apprehend, to be obtained through the medium of public colleges, if established under the rules, and upon a plan similar to those that have been founded at our Universities, because the natives of caste and of reputation will not submit to the subordination and discipline of a college. So the Indian Government did not take the initiative in the matter of the education of the people of this country. It was the people themselves who had to take the initiative and to do the needful. See More
The featured picture above represents the view of the Old Court House inside Fort William, Calcutta – the first fortress built by the British after their establishment in Bengal. Though this building is commonly known as the Old Court House, it actually did belong to the Charity School, where the old Court, and also the Town Hall were mere impermanent occupants.
The painting is one of the ’24 Views in Indostan(sic)’ composed by WilliamOrme based on a work by Francis Swine Ward (1736-94).

Charity School, later Free School, Calcutta, estb c1726-1731

Old Court House, Calcutta(crp)

চ্যারিটি স্কুল, কলকাতা, স্থাপনা c১৭২৬-১৭৩১
The first Charity School in Calcutta was founded somewhere between 1726 and 1731. The Charity School and later, its successor, the “Free School” began life as the School, on a site on which today stands the Scottish Church, in Dalhousie square, adjacent to Writer’s Buildings. The Mayor’s Court moved to this two-storied building belonging to Charity School in 1732, which also accommodated the Town Hall of Calcutta for a while. The School was established to provide education for European orphans and children of poor Anglo-Indians in the city. The education given by the School is of a ‘plain practical character and the boys generally become signalers in the Telegraph department, assistant apothecaries, writers in Government offices and mercantile houses, overseers of plantations, or obtain employment on Railways or in printing establishments, printing being an art successfully taught in the School.’ The Calcutta Review of 1866.
The Free School, engrafted on the Old Charity School, founded in 1742, and later settled in “the garden house near the Jaun Bazar *, 1795.” The purchase and repair of the premises cost Rs. 56.800. The public subscriptions towards the formation of the charity amounted to Rs. 26,082, of which Earl Cornwallis gave Rs. 2000. The Free School at this period (1792,) was located in “the second house to the southward of the Mission Church.” – All these we know from ‘Good old days’ of Rev. William Carey.
In the lapse of time the education imparted by the School became quite inadequate to the demand for education; and in consequence of the necessity for providing instruction for the offspring of the poor, the Free School Society was established on the 21st December, 1789. Shortly afterwards the children commenced their schoolwork at no. 8, Mission Row. The property—where once stood the house of Impey’s colleague, Mr. Justice Le Maistre—was purchased in 1795, and for some years to come the School profited much from the proceedings of the annual Calcutta lotteries. In 1841 Free School Street was made by the Lottery Committee, and the Governors of the School were enabled to extend and define their boundaries of the School grounds. A great storm in 1852 played serious havoc with the already decayed buildings, and so in the following year, a New Boys’ School was commenced by Messrs. Mackintosh, Burn & Co. from designs prepared by Col. W. Forbes.st_thomas_church_freeSchool_street – The photograph taken in recent time by unknown photographer shows the edifice of St Thomas Church, which is bound up with that of old Calcutta Free School, now known as St. Thomas’ School. The Church was dedicated to St. Thomas, the Patron Saint of India and the Free School was founded on the festival of that apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, part of the land houses the food and rationing offices. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the authorities decided that the “Free School Street Premises” was “Unsuitable” and thought of shifting the school to Ranchi. The idea was abandoned as parents objected and the choice fell on “Kidderpore House” at 4, Diamond Harbour Road. In 1914 the “Free School Society” approached the government for “Kidderpore House” and the school started in full from there in 1916. In 1917 it was decided, that the “Free School” would be converted, into the St. Thomas’ School for better management and in 1923 the “Calcutta Free School” was officially named St. Thomas’ School after the Apostle on whose day the original “Free School Society” had been founded. See for More
The featured Coloured aquaint by Francis Swain Ward, painted in c1760s, and published in 1804 ln: Views in Indostan by William Orme, Plate 17