Kennedy Huggins (d.1836) of Buchour, Tirhoot in West Bengal

Please note that many of the links in this sketch open in new windows. The footnote references are hyperlinked to the Sources section at the bottom of this page. Please also refer to the "Genealogical Note," below.

Kennedy Huggins was probably the son of James Huggins (d.1785), merchant of Calcutta. He was an indigo planter in the Tirhoot district of West Bengal. For a time, he was manager of Rajkund factory, before taking on the factory at Buchour. In his work, History of Behar Indigo Factories, &c. (1908), Minden Wilson wrote:

    I can gain very little information as to the early days of
  Rajkund or Awrai Factory as the natives call it. A rather
  dilapidated cash book, dated 1817-19, shows that K. Huggins
  (I suppose the man who died at Kemna Buchour, in 1836)
  managed and that he drew his cash from Kumtoul. So that most
  likely Rajkund was an outwork of Kumtoul Concern in those
  days. During Mr. Huggins’ time they grew indigo for the sake
  of seed. Boats as well as carts were used to carry Indigo to
  the factory. … Kewan also worked sugar for a time.
(pg. 38) [1]

Kennedy Huggins died at Buchour in early 1836. The East India Register (1837) pubished the following death notice: “Mr. Kennedy Huggins, aged 58, at Buchour in Tirhoot.” His body was buried at Kewan, with the gravestone bearing the following inscription: [1][2]

Here reposeth the

remains of Kennedy

Huggins who departed

this life on the 5th

of February A.D. 1836

aged about 58 years.

Last will and testament:—Kennedy Huggins composed his will at Buchour Indigo Factory on the day before he died. He named as the legatees:

  • his mother, A.M.‡ Huggins of Patna; ‡written elsewhere as M.A.
  • Margaret and Ellen Colvin, daughters of the late Thomas Colvin, indigo planter;
  • his godson, Frank Meiselback;
  • Heyannce, his Khansama;
  • his late mistress, Beebee Phulcover;
  • his brother, William Huggins, of Philadelphia; and
  • David and Margaret Brown of Buchour. [3]

The inventory of Kennedy Huggins’ estate, made on 30th August 1836 by Alexander Colvin, the executor, reflects a man of modest means with little in the way of worldly goods:

  • government promissory notes, totalling Sicca Rs. 4000;
  • a claim on the late firm of Colvin & Co., 9600;
  • cash balance 257-10-7; and
  • sundries, consisting of one each of a writing box, double baralled [sic] gun, cutlass, buggy mare, canister of powder, washing bowl, brass pot, scales, shaving box, and rattan commode. [4] 

The Account Current, representing the final disposition of the estate, was filed 28th June 1838. With one notable exception, the final account reflects the wishes of the late Kennedy Huggins. On the 30th March 1837, funds were set into a government note for his mother, Mrs. M.A. Huggins, and into trust for the children of T. Colvin. On the 30th April 1838, distributions were made to D. Brown on behalf of Kennedy’s godson, his mother Mrs. M.A. Huggins, and Ryanne Knansamah; to Bebee Phulcovirth; and finally, to William Huggins of Philadelphia, David Brown, and Margaret Brown, the residue shared equally amongst them. [5]

The exception was highlighted as a notation at the bottom of the page: a Dependency Claim of Sa. Rs. 9600 on the late firm of Colvin & Co. This amount probably reflected the residue of Kennedy's inheritance from his father. The amount of the claim, or any part of it, was not included in the accounting and therefore, does not appear to have been distributed from the estate of Kennedy Huggins. [5] As it happened, Colvin and Co. had become insolvent in 1834, leaving the sizeable sum of Rs. 1,03,45,105 due to 1,105 creditors. [6]

Postscript—No trace has been found of William Huggins in any of the contemporary U.S. records (e.g., censuses from 1830–1850, newspaper databases, genealogy subscription websites, and directories for the city of Philadelphia from 1824–1841). Neither has a burial record been found for his mother, whose family name remains unknown and whose forename has been reduced for posterity to her initials, M.A.

Location of Buchour:—Alternate names for Bachour were Kewan or Kemna.  According to Wilson,

    [Kewan] is situated close up to the Nepaul boundary, and
  one has a splendid view of the Terai and the lower range of
  the Himalayas out of the verandah. This factory and the
  surrounding dehat was once famous for the breed of cattle
  which came from round about.” 
[1]

india-1700-1792-mini

Segment of William R. Shepherd’s Map of India, 1700–1792.

The modern territorial designation for Kewan is a village lying within Rajnagar Tehsil (Block), Madhubani District, Bihar State. It lies about 2km north of the village of Mirzapur. Following are a series of links to maps of the region:

Genealogical note:—There is no record linking Kennedy Huggins to James Huggins (d.1785) of Calcutta. Though the parentage is unproven, several circumstances suggest a familial tie: the forename is very suggestive of his grandmother, Lettice Huggins née Kennedy of Carland and Gortnaglush in county Tyrone; his brother, William, was probably the author of “Sketches in India,” and if so, was an indigo planter in Tirhoot; his last will and testament was administered by Alexander Colvin, the son of the same name and a near relative who also administered Kennedy’s father’s estate in 1785; and the settlement of Kennedy Huggins’ estate, in 1838, cited Sa. Rs. 9600 owing to him as a dependency claim (i.e., the inheritance from his father, held in trust) on the then failed firm of Colvin & Co. of Calcutta.

Links:

Sources:

1.

Wilson, Minden J. History of Behar Indigo Factories; Reminiscences of Behar; Tirhoot and its Inhabitants; &c. Citing the gravestone inscription of Kennedy Huggins at Kewan, who died 5th February 1836, aged about 58 years (pg. 30); description of Kewan for sugar as welll as indigo, views, cattle (pg. 30); that Huggins managed Rajkund factory at one time (pg. 38). Calcutta: Calcutta General Printing Co., 1908. (consulted by Alison Kilpatrick, 10 June 2007.)

2.

List of Old Inscriptions in Christian Burial Grounds in the Province of Bihar and Orissa. Inscription on gravestone: “Here reposeth the / remains of Kennedy / Huggins who departed / this life on the 5th / of February A.D. 1836 / aged about 58 years.” (pg. 12) Published by Bihar and Orissa Government Press, 1923.

3.

British Library. British India Office. Wills and Probate. Supreme Court &c. Ecclesiastical Side. In the Goods of Kennedy Huggins deceased. Petition for Probate Filed & Probate granted to Alexander Colvin one of the Executors Reserving Power ... this 23rd day of February 1836 R.O. Dowd-- Reg’r. Waddington & Wilson Proctors. Archival ref. IOR L/AG/34/29/58, folio 157 (accessed by subscription, and transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick, 10 June 2007).

4.

British Library. British India Office. Wills and Probate. Estate, Kennedy Higgins [sic], Inventory, Filed 30th August 1836 (Signed) W.H. Smoult, Registrar. …. [completed by:] Alex: Colvin, Calcutta, 30th August 1836. Archival ref. IOR L/AG/34/27-112, folio 974 (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick by subscription, 10 June 2007).

5.

British Library. British India Office. Wills and Probate. Estate, Kennedy Huggins deceased, Filed 28th A[—] June 1838, … Estate of Kennedy Huggins in Account Current with Alex’r Colvin Executor. Archival ref. IOR L/AG/34/27-116, folio 471 (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick by subscription, 10 June 2007).

6.

The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany. Vol. XV, New Series (Nov. 1834). “Insolvent Debtors Court, April 19. In the matter of Colvin and Co.” Citing debts of Rs. 1,03,45,105 due to 1,015 creditors; number of creditors consenting to discharge was 535, whose claims amounted to Rs. 66,33,999. (pg. 130). London: Parbury, Allen, and Co., 1834.

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