According to the High Court and a panel of eminent historians in 2003, this is not the day that Calcutta was founded by Job Charnock, that sullen Lancastrian who was disliked by his peers but so appreciated as an honest man by the East India Company that they put him in charge of anti-smuggling operations at Cossimbazar. He can’t have been entirely heartless though as he also managed to fall in love with a Hindu woman who was being burnt alive as a Sati on her husband’s funeral pyre.
She converted to Christianity and took the name Maria. They stayed together for 25 years and had three daughters all of whom made good marriages with wealthy Englishmen. In fact the first recorded English marriage was of Charnock’s daughter Mary to Charles Eyre, the gentleman who built an impressive mausoleum for Charnock & his daughters (incidentally it was hewn from a rock found in Chennai named after old Job himself – ‘Charnockite’). Charnock was believed to have fallen in the eyes of many who suspected him of being a closet Hindu.But Maria was given a Christian burial when she passed away. She lies buried somewhere near Barrackpore.
Charnock came to Bengal in January 1658 and died in another January in Calcutta in 1692/93. He might not have founded the city but he was responsible for the setting up of the Company’s capital in Calcutta rather than in Madras or Bombay, both sea ports better suited to trade.
(In the Ain-i-Akbari, Abul Fazal included a copy of a list of taxes dating to 1582 with the names of 19 Sarkars in Bengal, which were then further sub-divided into 689 Mahals. One of these Sarkars, Saptagram or Satgaon extended from Plassey in the north to Sagar Islands in the south and contained 53 Mahals. The 35th Mahal was Kalikata which together with the 36th and 37th Mahals paid a revenue of Rs. 23405. So, it was clearly in existence by the time Charnock arrived in 1658.)
Images: The net.