Archive / Papers / Scott-Moncrieff Papers


Robert Scott Moncrieff

Given by Miss K. Scott Moncrieff

Microfilm No. 30


  • Calcutta, 3 May 1867: help to prisoners;
  • Calcutta, 7 May 1867: material sent home, clothes required;
  • Calcutta, 7 May 1867: finance;
  • Calcutta, 10 May 1867: condolence;
  • Calcutta, 19 May 1867: good balance sheet for 1866-67; health.
  • (Microfilm indecipherable.) Seventeen and a half years since in India.
  • Calcutta, 3 June 1867 to father: Elected President of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce (which usually leads to being offered a chair in the Legislative Council of the Government of India, which he will refuse as he did the seat in the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal’s Council);
  • Calcutta, 11 June 1867: arrangements for leave; description of illness; substitutes during his absence;
  • Calcutta, 15 June 1867: (almost indecipherable) about leave;
  • Calcutta, August 1868: business letters from Dollar.
  • Calcutta, Letter about dismissal on 30 April 1870 from company (enforced by two other members.)
  • Calcutta, 15 December 1868. Zenana work in Calcutta.
  • Bengal, February 1869: business;
  • 5 February 1869: indigo cultivation mentioned as a possible business venture;
  • 5 March 1869: indigo and crop mentioned;
  • 2 June 1869: the indigo plant briefly described.
  • 23 June 1869: his partners have no confidence in his ability to run an indigo concern; description of starting the indigo factories; methods used; Scott Moncrieff’s unusual kindness ‘no thrashing’; the results of his policy of kindness; no oppression by manager; silk plants also (filatures); attitude of managers to workers; quality of silk; difficulty of getting ‘sober managers’; profits.
  • Attached, a statement of ‘Costs and results of indigo cultivation at Salghurmoodea, during twelve seasons from 1848-49 to 1859-60 inclusive’.
  • Letters written 24 June, 1,2 and 5 September 1869: his capital in the firm repaid; Sunday closing questioned. 158pp.

Diary, Vol. 1:

  • 1 April 1868 – Dalkeith. 15 April – news of fighting near Kohat, in Calcutta newspaper, received in Dollar. 24 April – requests to return to India in place of ill partner; news of his brother-in-law’s death from wounds. 30 April – attends meeting in London, in aid of Calcutta Female Normal School.
  • 18 September – leaves home travelling via London, Paris, Aix-les-Bains, Turin, Genoa, Florence, Leghorn, Pisa, Florence arriving in Rome on 1 October 1868; then Naples.
  • 6 October – embarks on the steamer Cairo from Brindisi to Alexandria; train to Suez by the new route via Zig-a-Zag. 11 October – leave Suez on the Madras; account of voyage. 25 October – arrive Bombay. 29 October – Nagpore, missionary circles; hears of vacancy, through death of manager of the Darbungal estates in Tirhoot (in the gift of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal). 30 October – fourteen miles from Jubbulpore; Jubbulpore; Allahabad; Mirzapore; Benares; Shahabad.
  • 9 November – Dehree-on-Soane, visiting three indigo factories of the Dehree concern. 10 November – Balleah factory; Scott Moncrieff talks to manager about oppression; Seepah factory. 14 November – Monghyr; prospect of severe famine in C.P., N.W.P. and Punjab; failure of rains; Government inaugurating measures for relief; he writes to the Governors of above provinces. 22 November – Calcutta; Doualdpore; Murjowe. 28 November – Calcutta; takes breakfast with the Viceroy, Sir John Lawrence and talks about indigo and famine; talks to Mr. Guy, the Lieutenant Governor; goes to Barrackpore which he likes very much.
  • 18 December – Jiffaghur. 31 December – finds no support from merchants in wishing to give Sir John Lawrence a farewell address; he is in disfavour.
  • 12 January 1869 – his address to Sir John appears in newspaper, signed by Europeans; Earl Mayo arrives to be sworn in as Viceroy. 16 January – says goodbye to Sir John Lawrence. 25 January – arranges to buy Salghurmoodea silk filature near Kooshka for Rs 40,000; description of sale and what it meant.
  • 9 February – Salghurmoodea factory; goes to take over the Kooshka factory; his arrival and subsequent work in getting factory going; no indigo planting that season, no Sunday work; later entry describes means of persuading ryots to cultivate indigo, very liberal in outlook; plans to sell off part of the property, and realizes he has been rash.
  • 20 March – they go to the factory where the ryots have taken the advance money for indigo-planting and have not planted it; the manager wants the ring-leaders flogged; Scott Moncrieff will not allow it; persuades ryots to sow. 27 March – silk of very good quality being turned out.
  • 14 April – indigo sowing begun.
  • 30 May – description of small riot against Scott Moncrieff, the consequences and reasons for it; has made it known he will not bribe officials. 232pp.

Diary Vol. II (from Tuesday 8 June 1869):

  • 20 June – native Christians from Calcutta are to visit his factory, to see whether others from Calcutta would settle there.
  • 13 July – meets some Christians who wish to migrate. 22 July – at factory, finds Christians want to return to Calcutta. 31 July – indigo harvest begun – good; hears complaints at Tribanee about Christians’ indolence; he speaks to then severely.
  • 7 August – Christians improved; indigo crop very good.
  • 5 September – returns from indigo factories; good in comparison with others.
  • 17 September – gets loan of Rs. 20,000 at 11 per cent per annum; shows indigo to brokers; very fine quality; valued at 320/- Rs.; sells crop at 317.8.0 Rs. – over 100 per cent profit on cost of indigo; the market affected by Napoleon III’s illness; arrangements for going home; superintendence etc.
  • 20 October – starts for home.
  • 6 November – leaves Bombay; voyage in detail.
  • 2 December – arrives London.
  • Spends December 1869 – April 1870 in Scotland; 30 April – 20 June touring in France. 20 June 1870 – in Scotland
  • August – news of Franco-Prussian war; the war makes it impossible to sell silk and indigo; news of effect on commerce in India.
  • September – begins to prepare for return to India; news bad from indigo plantations through floods.
  • 8 October – leaves England; news at Aden of indigo and silk crop; 5 November – arrives Bombay; 14 December – prospect of opening another factory.
  • 7 January 1871 – concern over ill-treatment of natives.
  • 2 March – Serryah; a steam engine used here and Dooriah for the vat-heating machinery and pumps; a great saving. 13 March – silk filatures not financially worth while and reasons.
  • 16 May – inspects greater part of indigo cultivation at all factories; survey.
  • 13 June – examines accounts at end of Bengalee year and finds his position critical. 22 June – spring crop nearly ruined.
  • 17 July – mismanagement at Pearpore factory. 19 July – very grave financial situation. 26 July – prospect of selling his property to pay off debts. 28 July – scheme for winding up property.
  • 14 August – his partners resolve to sell the whole of his property. 16 August – offered post in London.
  • 15 October – conveys whole property to company; faces ruin. 27 October – more about accounts and money.
  • 4 December – leaves Calcutta for Suez; in Mediterranean Sea on 31 December 1871.
  • 16 January 1872 – arrives back in Edinburgh; later entries all from Scotland, contain news of his indigo business which he hears from India, and on which his finances depend.
  • 7 January 1873 – decides to return to Calcutta to seek employment, and supports family.
  • 2 February – offered job for one year. 27 February – leaves London for Calcutta.
  • 28 March – arrives Bombay.
  • 18 April – arrives Calcutta; his prospects in Steel’s firm good, if health holds out.
  • 15 May – assessment and value of estate which is for sale; indigo crop good.
  • 2 August – visits Kalliachuck factory, HQ of Goamalty concern, one of the oldest in Bengal; reads over letters addressed to Mr. Grant (later Lord Glenelg) proprietor, dated 1791-1807. 5 August – visits house of first Baptist miss in Bengal (in 1788).
  • 21 September – volume ends, with him saying how he has been stripped of this world’s goods. 413pp.