Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 1710, and early arrivals

Cuddalore History, early arrivals

By a curious coincidence Madhusudhanan has chosen to start his blog in July, which by chance is the same month that my forebear John De Morgan first arrived in Cuddalore 296 years ago.

He was a French Huguenot refugee to England, who had enlisted in the East India Company as a private, the most junior rank in the English armies of the time. It is through my research into his life and into his time at Fort St David, that I first came to know Madhusudhanan, and to share our common interests in Cuddalore history.

We hope to illustrate and bring to life the long and fascinating history of Cuddalore, not just in the time of the British, but also in earlier times.

John De Morgan first arrived at Cuddalore as one of 34 soldiers shipped on the Des Bouverie a large three masted East India Company sailing ship, which was bound for Madras, and item 10 on her manifest was a “List of the Soldiers for the Fort on the Des Bouverie.” [i]

The Fort St David records preserved in the British Library show that the De Bouverie had first called at Cuddalore before proceeding to Madras where it arrived on Tuesday 11th of July 1710.

9th of July 1710. This morning arrived a ship from Europe belonging to the Rt Honble Company named the D’Buveree. Captn Raymond Comm’d.

10th This morning said Ship sailed out of this road being bound to Madras.[ii]

Perhaps John was allowed to come up on deck to look at the land that would be his home for much of the rest of his life. Like so many of his compatriots, his voyage had been horrendous, and his life was likely to be short and brutal.

Could he see and smell the sweet musty coast of India as so many other English did as they first arrived?

Des Bouverie was one of a number of East Indiamen that arrived at approximately the same time off the coast of Madras during that year. Another ship in the same fleet, which had arrived on the 4th of July 1710, was the Susanna. John De Morgan was probably very lucky that he had not been put aboard the Susanna, which had made a very fast passage, but had not stopped en-route for fresh supplies of water or vegetables, for most of the Susanna’s men were sick before they even arrived.

“Mr Richard Hunt Paymaster reports that of the 46 Soldiers sent on ship Susanna for this port, there is but 33 surviv’d the Voyage, and most of them in a very weak condition, the comand’r. Having touch’d no where from England.”[iii]

On Thursday 13th of July Richard Hunt reported: -

that of the 34 Soldiers that were sent out on ship Des Bouverie there are 32 come on shore all in very good health the two that are wanting the Commandr. Declares that the one dyed and the other run away with his boat at the Cape.”[iv]

It is possible that John owed his health to William James, the Des Bouveries Surgeon who on Thursday 3rd of August 1710 presented a petition to the Governors in Council: -

“requesting he may be paid the ten shillings per head for the Hon’ble Companys Soldiers that came out on said ship”. The Council “Agreed and Ordered that the Paymaster doe adjust the acct, with him, and pay him what due according to the Hon’ble Companys orders per ship Heathcote.”[v]

Over the coming months we hope to post John De Morgan’s and many other stories, and we hope that visitors to the site will join us in adding to the knowledge of Cuddalore through the ages. John De Morgan went on to eventually rise to the command of the Fort and to fight off the French attack in 1746.

Using documents and tales we hope to bring the past of Cuddalore to light.


[i] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Pages 70 & 71.

[ii] IOR G/18/2 PT2.

[iii] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 70.

[iv] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 72.

[v] Diary and Consultation Book 1710. Page 80.

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