Archive / Papers / Hunter-Blair Papers


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  1. Letters from Charles Stuart to James Hunter 1761-69. Charles Stuart served with the East India Company and became a member of the Supreme Council of Bengal. He was a son of Lord Blantyre:
    • From Lennoxlove 17 August 1761. Has received Grossett’s letter with recommendations to three members of Parliament, the Director of the India Co., and ‘2 or 3 Eqrs’; going to visit Lord Tweedale.
    • From Lennoxlove 24 August 1761. Has visited Lord Tweedale and received invitation to visit in London, and has the promise of Lord and Lady Tweedale’s assistance; they are acquainted with Lord and Lady Bute; he will get letters of recommendation; has heard from J. Lyon from Bengal who wants him to come out ‘slap-dash’.
    • From London 14 September 1761. Has little room in Duke Street, York Building, near J. and T. Coutts who are kind; he dines there when not engaged. Met McDougall living at Charing Cross; he had his pigtail cut off by some ‘dogs’ at the theatre; Charles has seen Carrick act Ranger, going with Lady Hamilton and Miss Stirling; gossip about the new king and queen; he is going to the Coronation; been to coffee houses – the British, Fittyard, St. George, Somerset, Jerusalem; he has met acquaintances Mrs. Grant and Miss Fordyce; his affairs he does not yet know about; dined at J, and T. Courts at their country house, Fulham ‘3 or 4 miles from town’; no further news of his affairs; wishes he was not so shy and could swear more.
    • From London 23 October 1761. Sent account of Coronation to Caledonian Gazette; seen everything in India; not heard yet from Lord Bute; will return and wait twelve months if he does not hear whether he will be a factor or a writer; will be sure to get out through City interest; seen Garrick again in Richard III.
    • London, 29 October 1761. Lord Bute has promised to recommend him to the India Company.
    • London, 15 November 1761. Now almost at top of list of writers for Bengal; could not get a factor, but will be taken care of by the Company; has been waiting on Lord Bute and all the other aristocrats assiduously; will now ask him his commands for India; probably leaving in two months; silk stockings not worn; hears of Mr. Hepburn’s house being burnt.
    • (New date 24 October ? November) Changed lodgings to Spring Gardens to keep out of the way of his creditors; last lodgings 5/- per week full of bugs, lice and fleas, sorry to leave Mr. Marjorybanks a wine merchant with good claret; new lodgings 8/- per week, very dear; James Coutts gave him news and James would have heard that he could not get to India that year because of the trouble with Mr. Pitt.
    • Calcutta, 5 November 1762. Sent by the Admiral Watson, Indiaman; has arrived after good voyage with a captain who ‘used me very genteely’; met his friend Mr. Lyon, through whose offices he has met a kind reception from the Governor of Bengal, which may be of great use ‘in forwarding his scheme of returning home with a sufficiency to keep him alive’; Mr. Lyon going to visit Nabob and Charles Stuart to look after his business; hopes James is in Coutt’s family in London, making money; likes Calcutta; the inhabitants drink only claret and Madeira; James can be of use in the Commission Way.
    • Fort William, 21 February 1763. Now settled and thinking of doing business on own account; Company’s servants have good opportunity to trade as respected by black merchants and their goods go almost duty free; must have capital though; can only raise money in India at 9 per cent; is with Vansittarts family; one has to have encouragement to live in India as `it is a favourer of the Churchyard’; hopes to hear James is in London because of mutual benefits in business; very busy dispatching ships.
    • No place, no date, but answered 26 April 1764. Letter from James Hunter brought by Mr. Fullerton; the latter unlucky enough to arrive just after troubles broke out so could not do business; says ‘free’ merchants always find difficulty in employment, so he joined army and shortly got an Ensign’s commission; his brother was taken prisoner in Patna by the Nabob – in Mongeer; new Nabob’s bribe to the army of 25 lakhs (1 Lakh = £1 ,000); everyone in the army, except few sailors belonging to Royal George, Ashburnham and Osterly; Charles is drill serjeant to the lst Company of Militia; has met a Miss Halbert.
    • Burdwan, 20 September 1768. Not expecting to return for five or six years; has not been so lucky as some who have completed making their fortunes; sorry he could not help Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Hunter; the settlement so full of people; Europeans not allowed up country; glad James is prospering; may be slower, but pleasanter with friends and in a good climate; knows Andrew Hunter, cousin to James who is surgeon at Burdwan, Robert Hunter surgeon to one of the Company’s three brigades and contractor to the army; greetings to Charles Fordyce.
    • Burdwan, 4 April 1769. Commenting on letter from James; Gilbert Lowrie and Sir Laurence Dundas have taken seat in Parliament for Edinburgh from James Coutts; the climate a decayer of constitutions; McDougall going on a scheme to Florida; hopes to return some time; wishes to be remembered to Sir William Forbes and John Wordie; peaceful in Burdwan; a war on Coromandell Coast with Hyder Ali.
  2. Seven letters from Andrew Hunter to his cousin James Hunter 1767-85:
    • From Pigot Indiaman 19 October 1767. Details of voyage home as surgeon and arrangements to borrow £100.
    • From London 11 January 1768. Repays £100.
    • From Rumna near Burdwan 17 November 1771. Has been made trustee, with Robert, for the estate of Glen; congratulates James on his recent marriage; his nephew has been ill and is well again; difficulty in getting commissions in the army as there are so many officers.
    • From Calcutta, 26 January 1778. Loss at sea of Mr. Burnett while on passage from Madras to Bengal; the ship was French; distressed at the death of his brother Jamie and concern for his family; regret at death of Dr. Hunter at Patna, bad management of estates in India; family and business matters; difficulty in collecting debts in the Burdwan province; has no other inducement to stay in India except the settlement of his affairs.
    • From Calcutta, 15 May 1781. Arrival of Mr. Graham with letter of introduction from James; Graham to share quarters with his friend Seton; Graham is learning the language of the country; it is eighteen years since he came to Bengal; war on the coast, and no peace with the Marrattas.
    • From Calcutta, 1 September 1784. Thanks his cousin for his letter which arrived when he was at Cawnpore with the 2nd Brigade to which he has been appointed Surgeon Major; gives suggestions to Robert on sending his daughters to Bengal, to travel with Mrs. Busby; they should be elegantly and fashionably dressed and the captain is to be instructed to prevent any connections being formed on board; he knows of no unhappy marriage formed in Bengal and the Company’s service is a certain fortune in time.
    • From Calcutta, 31 January and 16 March 1785. Political charges in Bengal; three vacancies in the Supreme Council; requests help from James in obtaining promotion.
  3. Two letters from Robert Hunter to his cousin James Hunter 1767, 1784:
    • From Calcutta, 20 January 1767. Thanks James for his letter which was delivered to him by Andrew Hunter; he is afraid that Andrew can only be appointed surgeon’s mate, a very disagreeable station and has advised him to return home as surgeon in Captain Richardson’s ship; has let Andrew have £400 and say he should get a warrant signed in England appointing him as surgeon to Calcutta or to the army.
    • From Calcutta, 9 March 1784. Details of money received; he hopes to have his debts cleared in a year.
  4. Letters from Robert Blair to his brother-in-law James Hunter, 1770-74:
    • Calcutta, 20 October 1770. Death of brother Thomas, four days after arrival; nothing sold from ship – a bad assortment; trade bad; asks brother-in-law to tell Lord Cassells he is not neglecting his brother’s affairs; wrote last by the Grafton; left Captain Cathcart’s employ; four months out of work; obliged to join the army: does not like it; hopes of being appointed a writer next year; has not had news of him or his friends this year; will write by next ship which is probably the Varsittart.
    • Camp near Benares, 24 March 1772. Received letter of 7 February 1771 about six weeks previously; by the Colbrooke; says he has not received letters from Sir James Cockburn to friends in India which his brother-in-law says he sent; they would have been of great use; still a soldier; had been trying for a writer’s appointment for four years; really wants a mercantile life; camping with lst Brigade under the command of Col. Champion because of a body of Marrattas attacking Suja Dawla country which they are going to support; his brother David sailed some time ago.
    • Bunar, 20 November 1772. Has written by the Nottingham which sailed two months ago; received letter of 7 January 1772; the letter on the Nottingham in answer to one of 28 June 1771 inviting Robert to return home; also had one from brother John dated January 1772 saying not to return home as he had hopes of effecting an appointment, and a letter dated in March mentions his having had a positive promise from Sir George Cobbrook’s Party for appointment as a writer; has received no answers from the gentlemen Robert has written to; sending this letter by the Aristogo.
    • Camp near Furrackabad, 6 March 1773. Wrote from Bunar three months ago, 1etter went home by the Greenwich; has been marching ever since; are at present place at the request of Suja Dawla; expect a Marratta attack on his country; there are about 5,000 of the Company’s troops and 30,000 of Suja’s; further inquiry and discussion of his appointment and letters from home.
    • Camp near Fizabad, Oude Province, 8 September 1773. Saddened by news of brother’s death; thanks for the trouble he has taken on his behalf; discusses ways and means of becoming a writer and the best thing to de; has made a friend in James Hunter’s cousin, Mr. Hunter of Burdwan; the Marratta army will not be provoked to battle, although they outnumber the British by 30,000 to 5,500; expecting to go to Calcutta, a place dreaded for its expansiveness, where he hopes to see Mr. Hunter; deputation from the Board at Calcutta in Benares consisting of the Governor and two members transacting business with Suja Dawla.
    • Calcutta, 20 December 1773. Has written three months before from Sultanpore; still uncertain. whether to return to Britain or not; writing by the Bridgewater will either return by next ship, or will write; only thing which prevents him is uncertainty of regaining rank.
    • Calcutta, 8 March 1774. Last wrote by the Bridgewater; has decided to stay because of obstacles to return; Hon. Charles Stew art is in Calcutta but has not written to him so he cannot call; hopes to meet him some time; hopes for letters; 2nd Brigade at the request of Suja Daulat (sic) against Marrattas.
  5. Correspondence between Keith Stewart and James Hunter 1773-85:
    • James Hunter to Keith Stewart 6 December 1773. Inquiries concerning Robert Blair’s prospects in India in the mercantile business or in promotion, and asking for his patronage.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 17 March 1774. About election of directors.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 23 November 1773. Asking how he can help Hunter’s young brother-in-law Robert Blair.
    • Copy – James Hunter to Keith Stewart, London, 28 March 1774. About Robert Blair; about getting votes for the election on 13 April – Lord Sandwich assisting; R. Wombwell will probably be voted against; also mentions Sir Robert Harries, D. Blair; Aimee married to John Bell, writer to the Signets.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 12 April 1774. Replies saying that he is afraid Sir Robert Harries and Dunlop canvassing (for Robert Blair) had not been successful; also mentions Brandon and Gemmells, and Miss Clemmie’s marriage.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 16 April 17774. No luck in elections; Wombwell kept out; thinks this a blow to Blair’s chances; will approach Lord Sandwich again, but without hope.
    • Copy – James Hunter to Keith Stewart 21 April 1774. In answer to his of 12 and 16 April.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 10 May 1774. (In answer to 21 April 1774.) Lord Sandwich has not the influence Sir Robert Harries says he had, but Robert Blair is second on his list and so they must hope for the best.
    • Earl of Sandwich to Keith Stewart, Admiralty, 10 May 1774. Saying that his first duty is to Mr. Ireland in the way of appointments; the people to whom he was going to apply for favours lost their place in the elections, therefore he cannot promise anything for Blair at present.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, 9 October 1774. Encloses Lord Sandwich’s letter of 10 May; regret at not being able to help Robert Blair.
    • Copy (kept by Mr. Hunter) – James Hunter to Keith Stewart, 26 January 1775. Saying he has been in London, and has hopes of Lord Sandwich now being able to perform his promises in favour of Blair, because of support of Wombwell, who will probably be made a director, and Mr. James who is already; no writers have been appointed for eighteen months.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 31 January 1775. Answering letter of 26 January; has seen Lord Sandwich, who still said his first duty was to Mr. Ireland, then Blair, but no more writers were to be sent out; apologies for ‘Having lumber’d your cellar … with … Hock’.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, 15 July 1775. Bought a house with cellars, and would be grateful if Hunter would send him the hock.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 11 April 1775. About wine purchased for him; had seen Lord Sandwich – little hope for a recommendation; bought a house in South Audley.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, London, 12 May 1775. Saying same about Lord Sandwich, and an opening for Blair.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, Trentham, 4 October 1775. Directions for bottling off some claret.
    • Keith Stewart to James Hunter, received 14 November 1775. Further about wine.
    • Keith Stewart to ? James Hunter, Portsmouth, 5 December 1778. About ‘so enormous a loss’.
    • Keith Stewart to ? Mr. Hunter Blair Newtown, ? 23 December 1785. Congratulations on appointment; mentions his mines at Cramine.
  6. Two letters from Captain Patrick Hunter to James Hunter, 1783-84:
    • From Calcutta, 5 April 1783. No possibility of promotion as the Court of Directors have reduced the number of officers; the Marratta peace will save the Company a great deal of money; Lord Macartney to be appointed next Government; hopes that James will be able to recommend him to any members of the Government as promotions go by recommendation from home. From Lucknow, 17 March 1784. Has been ill but is improving; political matters and appointments.