RSS Feed


Of the Kings great Officers,

and the Governours of theProvinces.

There are two, who are the greatest and highest Officers in the Land. They are called Adigars, I may term them Chief Judges; under whom is the Government of the Cities, and the Countries Page 50also in the Vacancy of other Governours. All People have liberty in default of Justice to appeal to these Adigars, or if their causes and differences be not decided by their Governours according to their minds.

To these there are many Officers and Sergeants belonging. All which, to be known, carry staves in their hands like to Bandyes, the crooked end uppermost, which none but they dare carry. The sight of which staves upon what message soever they be sent, signifies as much as the Adigars Hand and Seal. If the Adigar be ignorant in what belongs to his place and office, these men do instruct him what and how to do. The like is in all other places which the King bestows: if they know not what belongs to their places, there are Inferiour Officers under them, that do teach and direct them how to Act.

Next under the Adigars, are the Dissauva’s, who are Governours over Provinces and Counties of the Land. Each Province and County has its Governour; but all Governours are not Dissauva’s, nor other great Officers known by other names or Titles, as Roterauts and Vidanies. But all these Generals or Chief Commanders, who have a certain number of Soldiers under them. These great men are to provide, that good orders be kept in the Countries over which they are placed, and that the Kings accustomed dutie be brought in due season to the Court. They have Power also to decide controversies between the People of their Jurisdiction, and to punish contentious and disorderly persons, which they do chiefly by amercing a Fine from them, which is for their Profit for it is there own: and also by committing them Prison. Into which when they are once fallen, no means without mony can get them out again. But be the fact never so hainous (Murther it self) they can put none to death. The sentence of death being pronounced only by the King. They also are sent upon expeditions in War with their Soldiers, and give Attendance, and watch at Court in their appointed Stations.

These Dissauva’s are also to see that the Soldiers in their Countries do come in due season and order for that purpose.

They are appointed by the King himself, not for life, but during his good pleasure. And when they are dead or removed, oftentimes their places lay void, somtimes for months, somtimes perhaps for years; during which time the Adigar rules and governs those Countries; and for his labour receiveth all such Incoms and Profits as are accustomed and of right do belong to the Governour.

The King when he advances any to be Dissauva’s, or to any other great Office regards not their ability or sufficiency to perform the same, only they must be persons of good rank, and gentile extraction: and they are all naturally discreet and very solid, and so the fitter for the Kings employment. When he first promotes them, he shews them great testimonies of his Love and Favour, (especially to those that are Christians, in whose service he imposeth greater confidence than in his own people, concluding that they will make more conscience of their ways, and be more faithful in their Office) and gives them a Sword, the hilt all carved and inlaid with Silver and Brass very handsomly, the Scabberd also covered with Silver, a Knife and Halberd; and lastly, a Town or Towns for their maintenance. The benefit of which is, that all the Profits which before the King received from those Towns, now accrues unto the Kings Officer. These Towns are composed of all Page 51sorts of Trades and People that are necessary for his service to whom the King hath given them a Potter, a Smith, a Washer, And there is a piece of Land according to the ability of the Town, which the Townsmen are to Till and manure, and to lay up the Corn for his use. Which matters I mentioned before in the third Chapter. And besides the Customs or Taxes that all other free Towns pay to the King, there is a due, but smaller, to be paid to the Governour out of them. But these are not all his advantages.

When there is a new Governour made over any Countrey, it is the Custom that that whole Countrey comes up to appear before him at the Court, for there his Residence is. Neither may they come empty handed, but each one must bring his Gift or Present with him. These also are expected at other times to be brought unto him by the people, tho they have no business with him, no suits or causes to be decided: even private Soldiers at their first coming tho to their due watch, must personally appear before their Commander, and if he have nothing else, he must Present him with forty leaves of green Betle, which he with his own hand receiveth, and they with both their and delivers into his, which is taken for an honour he vouchsafes them.

These Governours, nor any other admitted to Court into the Kings service, are never after to return home, altho they are not employed at present, and might be spared, neither are they permitted to enjoy their wives: and they are day and night to stand guard in certain stations, where the King appoints them.

Things thus standing with them, they cannot go in Person to visit and oversee their several Charges themselves. They have therefore several Officers under them to do it. The chief of whom is the Courlividani. This person beside his entertainment in the Countrey unto which he is sent to Govern under the Dissauva, hath a due revenue, but smaller then that of the Governour. His chief business is to wrack and hale all that may be for his Master, and to see good Government, and if there be any difference or quarrel between one or other, he takes a Finefrom both, and carrieth to the Governour, not regarding equity but the profit of himself and him that imploys him. But he hears their case and determines it. And if they like not his sentence, they may remove their business unto the Governour himself, whose desire is not so much to find out the right of the cause, as that that may be most for his own interest and profit. And these carriages cannot reconcile them much love among the people; but the more they are hated by the people for their rigorous government, the better they please the King. For he cares not that the Countrey should affect the Great men.

The Dissauva’s by these Courlividani their Officers do oppress and squeez the people, by laying Mulcts upon them for some Crimes or Misdemeanors, that they will find and lay to their Charge. In Fine this Officer is the Dissauva’s chief Substitute, who orders and manages all affairs incumbent upon his Master.

Next to him is Congconna, An Overseer. Who is to oversee all things under the Courlividani. But besides him, there is a Courti-A-chila like our Cunstable, who is to put that in execution that the Governour orders, to dispatch any thing away that the Land affords for the Kings use, and to send persons to Court, that are summoned. And in the discharge of this his Office, he may call in the assistance of any man.

The next Officer under the Governor is the Liannah, The Writer. Who reads Letters brought, and takes accounts of all Business, and of what is sent away to the Court: He is also to keep Registers, and to write Letters, and to take notice of things happening.

Next to him is the Undia. A word that signifieth a lump. He is a Person that gathers the King’s Money: and is so styled because he gathereth the King’s Monies together into a lump.

After him is the Monnannah, The Measurer. His Place is to go and measure the Corn that grows upon the King’s Land. Or what other Corn belongeth to him.

The Power of these Officers extends not all a whole County or Province over, but to a convenient part or division of it. To wit, so much as they may well manage themselves. And there are several sets of the like Officers appointed over other Portions of the Countrey. As with us there are divers Hundreds or Divisions in a County. To each of which are distinct Officers belonging.

These Officers can exercise their Authority, throughout the whole Division over which they are constituted, excepting some certain Towns, that are of exempt jurisdiction. And they are of two sorts. First, such Towns as belong to the Idol-Temples, and the Priests, having been given and bestowed on them long ago by former Kings. And secondly, The Towns, which the King allots to his Noblemen and Servants. Over these Towns, thus given away, neither the forementioned Officers, nor the chief Magistrate himself hath any Power. But those to whom they are given and do belong to, do put in their own Officers, who serve to the same purposes as the abovesaid do.

But these are not all the Officers; there are others, whose place it is, upon the Death of any Head of a Family to fetch away the King’s Marrals, Harriots as I may call them; Viz. a Bull and a Cow, a Male and Female Buffalo, out of his Stock. Which is accustomably due to the King, as I have mentioned before. And others, who in Harvest time carry away certain measures of Corn out of every Man’s Crop according to the rate of their Land.

These Inferior Officers commonly get their Places by Bribery; Their Children do pretend a right to them after their Father’s Death, and will be preferred before others, greazing the Magistrate.

None of these have their Places for life; and no longer than the Governor pleaseth. And he pretty often removes them or threatens to do so upon pretence of some neglects, to get Money from them. And the People have this privilege, that upon Complaint made of any of these Officers, and request that they may be changed and others made, They must be displaced, and others put in; but not at their Choice, but at the Choice of the Chief Magistrate, or Owner of the Town.

For the hearing Complaints and doing Justice among Neighbours, here are Countrey-Courts of Judicature, consisting of these Officers, together with the Head-Men of the Places and Towns, where the Courts are kept: and these are called Gom sabbi, as much as to say, Town-Consultations. But if any do not like, and is loath to stand by what they have determined, and think themselves wronged, appeal to their Head-Governor, that dwells at Court; but it is chargeable, for he must have a Fee. They may appeal also from him to the Adigars, or the Chief Justices of the Kingdom. But whoso gives the greatest Bribe, he shall overcome. For it is a common saying in this Land, That he that has Money to see the Judge, needs not fear nor care, whether his cause be right or not. The greatest Punishment that these Judges can inflict upon the greatest Malefactors, is but Imprisonment. From which Money will release them.

Some have adventured to Appeal to the King sometimes; falling down on the ground before him at his coming forth, which is the manner of their obeisance to him, to complain of Injustice. Sometimes he will give order to the great ones to do them right, and sometimes bid them wait, until he is pleased to hear the Cause, which is not suddenly: for he is very slow in all his Business: neither dare they then depart from the Court, having been bidden to stay. Where they stay till they are weary, being at Expence, so that the Remedy is worse than the Disease. And sometimes again when they thus fall before him, he commands to beat them and put them in Chains for troubling of him; and perhaps in that Condition they may lay for some years.

The King’s great Officers when they go abroad into the Countries about the King’s Business, they go attended with a number of Soldiers armed both before and behind them; their Sword if not by their side, a Boy carrieth after them, neither do they carry their Swords for their safety or security. For in travelling here is little or no danger at all. But it is out of State, and to shew their greatness. The Custom is that all their journey Victuals be prepared for them ready dressed; and if their Business requires hast, then it is brought on a Pole on a Man’s shoulder, the Pots that hold it hanging on each end, so that nothing can be spilt out into the road; and this is got ready against the great Man’s coming. So that they are at no charge for Diet: It is brought in at the charge of the Countrey. But however this is not for all his Soldiers that attend him (they must bring their own Provisions with them) but only for himself, and some of his Captains.

The greatest Title that is allowed in the City to be given to the greatest Man is Oussary, which signifieth Worshipful. But when they are abroad from the King, men call them Sihattu and Dishondrew, implying, Honour and Excellency. These Grandees whensoever they walk abroad, their manner is in State to lean upon the arm of some Man or Boy. And the Adigar besides this piece of State, wheresoever he goes, there is one with a great Whip like a Coach-whip goes before him slashing it, that all People may have notice that the Adigar is coming.

But there is something comes after, that makes all the Honour and Wealth of these great Courtiers not at all desirable: and that is, that they are so obnoxious to the King’s displeasure. Which is a thing so customary, that it is no disgrace for a Nobleman to have been in Chains, nay and in the Common Goal too. And the great Men are as ready when the King Commands, to lay hold on one another, as he to command them: and glad to have the Honour to be the King’s Executioners, hoping to have the Place and Office of the Executed. When any of these are thus dispatched, commonly he cuts off or imprisoneth all the Male kind, that are near of kin, as Sons or Brothers, fearing they should plot revenge, and seizes on all the Estate. And as for the Family, after Examination with Punishment to make them confess where the Estate lyes, they have Monthly Allowance out of the same. But the Wife or Women-Kindred are now nothing at all in esteem for Honorable Ladies as they were before. Yet sometimes he will send for the Sons or Brothers of these whom he hath cut off for Traitors, and remand them out of the Prisons where he had committed them; and prefer them in honorable Employment.

It is generally reported, and I have seen it so, that those whom he prefers unto the greatest and weightiest Imployments are those whom he intends soon to cut off, and contrariwise those whom he doth affect, and intends to have longer Service of, shall not be so laden with Places and Honours. Howbeit altho they know and see this before their eyes daily, yet their hearts are so haughty and ambitious, that their desires and endeavours are to ascend unto the highest degrees of honour: tho that be but one remove from Death and utter Destruction. And the Women’s ambition is so great also, that they will put their Husbands on to seek for Preferment, urging how dishonorable it is for them to sit at home like Women, that so they may have respect, and be reputed for great Ladies.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: