High Court Sagas

I went to the High Court much of the time that I was not traveling last week (more on that in a post coming tomorrow—hence why I’ve not been able to update the blog in awhile)

So, here’s a list of things that I’ve found at the ‘Mayor’s Court’ record room in the Centenary building adjacent to the original High Court building.

  1. An original copy of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette Extraordinary from 1781.<— If I can make a soft copy of this then I will have completed in stitching together all of the known issues of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette into a complete copy.
  2. Unlisted trials regarding James Hicky and his debts in 1776, as well as in 1773 when he was a surgeon in the city. These have given me more insight into Hicky, in that he had an active medical practice when he arrived in India in 1772, as well as that he owned a house which he rented out to boarders and mariners. After which he moved into the shipping industry, becoming a merchant and trading goods, before one of his ships was wrecked and his creditors called up his debts, throwing him into jail—in which he struck up the idea to begin a printing press to pay off his debts.
  3. Trials involving John Hyde in 1798 regarding his estate after he passed away and non payment of debts to the East India Company. Rule of thumb is that if you owe the Company money, it’s going to get you. Hyde was a Justice on the Supreme Court and my personal favorite—the most honest of the bunch. He recorded almost every trial that happened in Calcutta from 1774 to his death and wrote parts of it in a pesky shorthand that I am desperately trying to break/have broken.
  4. Numerous trials involving Peter Reed from 1770s to the 1780s, salt merchant and founder of the India Gazette, the rival to the Bengal Gazette. Appears he was notorious for not paying debts.


Today I went to the High Court and submitted my request asking for permission to make a “certified copy.” I had gone to the Court on Tuesday and submitted a request to make a digital copy of the Extraordinary issue. But, apparently I had done so in the wrong form, and had to re-write my letter, where I went to one office where they double stamped and then hole punched and dated it. Then I brought it to the registrar, pleaded my case and he said I could bring it to the Chief Justice and if “his lordship pleases it” I could proceed in making certified copies. Then I brought the form to a person in a little-tiny desk with huge stacks of paper, he took the original form, marked something on it and took my copy and stamped and signed it, “received but not verified” and that was that.

Now I wait to see if “his Lordship the Chief Justice pleases it.” I’ve been here so long that it all doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore.

So, my tasks are now:

  1. Wait for a reply about whether I can make a certified copy of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette from the Chief Justice.
  2. Once done, bring scanner and start scanning away!

Badger certain people at the Victoria Memorial about the shorthand in Hyde’s notebooks Start looking through the manuscript archives of the Asiatic society with Priyanka Build an itinerary for Calcutta Walks based around the city’s Early Newspaper History