Citation
The Thalang letters, 1773-94: political aspects and the trade in arms.

Material Information

Title:
The Thalang letters, 1773-94: political aspects and the trade in arms.
Added title page title:
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies; 26:3 (1963)
Creator:
Simmonds, E. H. S. (Edward Harold Stuart), 1919-
Place of Publication:
London
Cambridge
Publisher:
SOAS University of London
University of Cambridge Press
Manufacturer:
University of Cambridge Press
Language:
English
Thai
Physical Description:
p.592-619. : ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
British -- History -- Malaysia -- Penang -- 18th century ( lcsh )
Arms transfers -- History -- Thailand -- 18th century ( lcsh )
Commerce -- History -- Thailand -- Malaysia -- 18th century ( lcsh )
Commerce -- History -- Malaysia -- Thailand -- 18th century ( lcsh )
Temporal Coverage:
1773 - 1794
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Thailand
Asia -- Malaysia -- Penang
Asia -- Malaysia -- Pulau Pinang
เอเชีย -- ไทย
เอเชีย -- มาเลเซีย -- ปีนัง
Coordinates:
15 x 101
5.4145 x 100.3292

Notes

General Note:
Reprinted from: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 26, pt.3, 1963.
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : Simmonds, E. H. S. (Edward Harold Stuart), 1919- : URI http://viaf.org/viaf/215112200
Statement of Responsibility:
By E.H.S. Simmonds.

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SOAS University of London
Holding Location:
Archives and Special Collections
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
516558 ( aleph )
Classification:
SCRR Ref.059 ( ddc )

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Full Text
The Thalang letters, 1773—94 ะ political

aspects and the trade in arms

BY

E. H. S. SIMMONDS

Reprinted from the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London, Vol. XXVI, Part 3, 1963.






THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94:

POLITICAL ASPECTS AND THE TRADE IN ARMS

By E. H. S. Simmonds

Colonel Low mentioned the schemes of Francis Light and James Scott for
a British occupation of Thalang or Salang (Junk Ceylon) in Logan’s Journal
in 1849,1 and, since then, some attention has been paid to the official sources
in English on this subject.1 2 Gerini comments on ‘ the silence of the local
annals about such land-grabbing schemes on the part of the British ’.3 He
points out that the only reference to Light in Siamese chronicles is that in the
Annals of Ayuthaya for 1776 where Light, already described as governor of
Kg Mali (Penang) because this, like most chronicles, was written up at a later
date, is said to have sent 1,400 flint-lock muskets and certain presents to the
King of Siam.4

The forwarding in 1785 of a letter in Siamese from Pia Pimon (Phya
Phimon), governor of the island of Thalang, to Lord George Macartney in
Calcutta offers a hint that material in Siamese on the question existed.5
Examination of a set of letters written in Siamese by various persons on
Thalang to Francis Light, preserved by Marsden, provides further information
on matters of politics and trade in which the first governor of Penang was
concerned both before and after his assumption of authority on that island.6

Through the Thalang letters the development of various aspects of Light’s
connexion with the island can be traced. Political affairs, trade, and personal
relationships are referred to. The letters represent, of course, only one side of
the correspondence and even this is probably incomplete. The history of
Thalang at this period is not well documented, especially on the Siamese side,

1 ‘ An account of the origin and progress of the British colonies in the Straits of Malacca
Journal of the Indian Archipelago, ed. Logan, III, 10, 1849, 600.

2 The most complete accounts are to be found in ะ Arnold Wright and Thomas Reid, The
Malay Peninsula, London, 1912 ; and H. p. Clodd, Malaya's first British pioneer : the life of
Francis Light, London, Luzac, 1948, ch. iii, ‘ Light on Junk Ceylon 24—42.

3 G. E. Gerini, ‘ Historical retrospect of Junkceylon island ’, Journal of the Siam Society, II, 2,
1905, 121-268, ref. to p. 137, ท. 2.

4 The passage quoted by Gerini occurs in Phongsawadan Phraratchahatlekha, Bangkok, 1952,
IV, 143 (year c.s. 1138 = A.D. 1776). In this article reference is made to this work (pp) in
preference to the original edition of the Ptu'ang Phraratchaphongsawadan Krung Kao (Annals of
Ayuthaya) printed by Bradley in Bangkok, 1863, because of the rarity of the latter, pp differs
mainly in the orthography which has been adjusted therein to suit modern Bangkok tastes.
It contains a supplement for the years 1790-1809 compiled by Prince Damrong Rajanubhab.

5 See below p. 595, ท. 1.

6 The Thalang letters. A set of 59 MS. letters in Siamese, Marsden Collection, 12157A, Library
of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. While this article was in
the press, the writer received ‘Siamese documents concerning Captain Francis Light’, by Kachorn
Sukhabanij in K.G. Tregonning (ed.), Papers on Malayan history, Singapore, 1962, 1-9, in which
reference is made to several of the Thalang letters. Mr. Kachorn Sukhabanij suggests that the
title ‘ Phyaratchakapitan ’ (see below, letter no. 30) was conferred on Light by King Taksin in 1778.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

593

and these letters by no means resolve all the uncertainties and ambiguities,
but, taken in conjunction with the chronicles and other sources, they add
materially to existing knowledge.

This article is mainly concerned with the information to be gleaned from
the letters about Light’s part in the political history of the island and with an
important corollary, the provision of arms and ammunition both for use
locally and for the royal government at Bangkok.

The years 1773-80

The early letters illustrate Light’s role as a trader. The 12 dated letters
between 1773 and 1780 are proposals or contracts for the purchase of rice and
trade goods, loan agreements, bonds, and guarantees.1 Light had probably
visited Thalang as early as 1771.1 2 In a letter to the Hon. John Macpherson,
23 January 1786, he makes the claim that he has traded among the Malays
and Siamese for 16 years.3

In 1772 Monckton reported that Light went to settle in Thalang in May 1772
as a private trader.4 This was after the failure of his early scheme to establish
a settlement in Kedah. He was well received by the governor and people of
the island but found himself in difficulties later that year when trouble broke
out as a result of local resistance to a force sent by the King of Siam to depose
the governor.5 This struggle may have centred round the appointment of
Khang Seng, a man sent from the capital.6 * 8 As will be seen, the government of
Thalang was very much a family business. Light said then, according to
Monckton, that the British could have had the island on any terms if a force
had been sent. Monckton merely sent a ship to take Light off the island if he
felt it necessary to leave.

Thus it is clear that Light’s trading activities had led him towards political
involvement as early as 1772. Conditions in Siam were extremely unsettled at
this time following the destruction of Ayuthaya by the Burmese in 1767 and
the continuing threat from them to the provinces of the peninsula. When
pressing the case for Company occupation Light was concerned about the

1 Thalang letters nos. 3, 10, 16, 20, 24, 26, 27, 32, 38-40, 49, and 14 undated, 25(?), 50(?).

2 Light to Lord Cornwallis, 18 June 1787, Council Minutes, 27 July 1787, India Office Library,
Straits Settlements Consultations, II.

3 Light to Macpherson, 23 January 1786, postscript to letter from Governor-General to
Secret Committee of the Court of Directors, 26 January 1786, India Office Library, Bengal
Secret Letters, XXIV.

4 Report of Hon. E. Monckton to Presidency Council, Fort St. George, 12 October 1772,
India Office Library, Factory Records, Sumatra, XV.

5 The Siamese chronicles record an expedition, presumably led by the King, against the

ruler of Nakhfjn Si Thammarat, who claimed jurisdiction over Thalang, in 1768-70. pp, IV,

16-22. Thalang may have been affected by the aftermath of this campaign.

8 Phongsawadan Mu'ang Thalang, ed. Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, Prachum phongsaivadan,
II, Bangkok, 1914. This was compiled locally in 1841. Gerini had access to a similar text which
he prints and translates, op. cit., 238^47. The Damrong text is better and fuller.

VOL. XXVI. PART 3.

42


594

E. H. ร. SIMMOXDS

general threat of the Dutch in the area and also the possibility of French intrigue
for trading rights with the Burmese who claimed jurisdiction over the coast as
far south as Thalang.1

Between 1773 and 1780 conditions were evidently settled enough for Light
to carry on trading. On 22 September 1777 Light wrote to Calcutta that he
had had conversations with the King of Siam who expressed a strong desire to
cultivate a friendship with the Company.1 2 Koenig (March 1779) confirms
Light’s connexion with the island at this time.3 He arrived there in Light’s
ship, the Bristol. Koenig does not state that Light resided on the island but
the latter makes this claim for himself for 1780 :

‘ I look upon part of this island to be my property, it was granted by
their own free will, the ground cleared at my own expense, and tho’ unjustly
driven off I think myself at liberty to resume it whenever I have power ’.4
It is interesting that there is a gap in the continuity of the letters at this point,
from 1780 to 1784.5 The reasons for Light’s apparent exclusion are not known
but a hint of trouble brewing is given by Koenig in his diary entry for
26 June 1779 ะ

‘ The atmosphere on land was rather unsafe for Europeans during the
last days, on account of some quarrels between some English captains and
the King. I was therefore called back to the ship ’.6
Letter no. 31 may bear on this subject. The letter, written on 3 January 1788
by Phya Thukkharat, acting governor [of Thalang?], is an apology to Light in
the name of the King (Rama I) for a swindle carried out when Phya Tak Sin
was king (1768-82) by a royal representative, Phya Thammatrailok.7 The
official said that the culprits had been punished and that the King wished to
see Light on political matters.

On Thalang Light developed friendly relations with the governor, Phya
Phimon. This is the Pee Pimont named by Forrest as being governor in 1784.8
He is mentioned in local records, and by Forrest, as a former governor of Kra.9

1 e.g. letter from Light to Andrew Ross, Fort St. George, 18 March 1784, Straits Settlements
Consultations, I. For French intrigues at this period see D. G. E. Hall, Michael Symes : Journal
of his second embassy to the Court of Ava in 1802, London, 1955, introduction, pp. xxix-xxxv.

2 Clodd, op. cit., 29.

3 An English translation of Koenig’s Danish MS (British Museum) is given in Journal of the
Straits Branch, Royal Asiatic Society, No. 26, 1894, 59-201, and No. 27, 1894, 57-133 ; quoted
by Gerini, op. cit., 152-61.

4 Clodd, op. cit., 31.

5 Light was captured and held by the French off the coast of India in 1782, and Scott by
the Dutch in 1784 ; see Clodd, op. cit., 33-5.

6 Gerini, op. cit., 159.

7 Pee Tukerat is mentioned by Thomas Forrest in A voyage from Calcutta to the Mergui
Archipelago, London, 1792, quoted by Gerini, op. cit., 159, also see below, p. 604. Phya Thamma-
trailok, see below, p. 602.

8 Gerini, op. cit., 159.

9 Phongsawadan Mu’ang Thalang, 57, translation by Gerini, op. cit., 239, and Forrest quoted
by Gerini, 169.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

595

It was his letter that Scott forwarded to Macartney in 1785.1 Gerini supposed,
incorrectly, that he was transferred to Thalang soon after the accession of
Rama I in 1782 and that he married the Lady Chan of Thalang about 1786.1 2
Letter no. 3 (5 August 1777) shows that Phya Phimon was already governor
during the reign of Tak Sin. The Phatthalung Chronicle supports this. It states
that he was made governor of Phatthalung by the ruler of Nakhqm Si Tham-
marat (the immediate overlord) before 1768. He governed Phatthalung for
two years only and this was at a time when he was temporarily estranged from
Lady Chan.3 In 1768 he fled to Patani when Tak Sin, removed his patron at
NakhQn Si Thammarat. It is likely that his exile was merely temporary and
that on or soon after his return he became governor of Thalang.

Letter no. 3, 5 August, 1777, makes it clear that Light was already engaged
in the arms trade, as indicated by the chronicle entry for 1776 :

‘ From Than Phya Surintharacha and Phya Phimon Qya, given to
Captain Bangken.4 With reference to Captain Bangken’s carrying 490 guns,
type chat turamat,5 6 for disposal at Thalang, at 6 guns per phara of tin, that
is 81 phara, 5 phaen, 3£ bat—these 490 guns have been received. As for the
tin, Captain Bangken said he was going to Malacca first and thereafter he
would return for it. When he comes back I will send tin to the value of the
guns according to this contract.... Sealed Tuesday, 2nd day waxing of
the ninth moon, year of the cock, 9th of the decade, 1139 sakarat ’.

Letter no. 26, 11 July 1777, provides the information that guns for Bangkok
were entering through Thalang. At this time both Tavoy and Mergui, normally
more important trading ports, were occupied by the Burmese and thus denied
to the Siamese as ports of entry.

£ Letter given to Captain Mangku [Buncle?]. Captain Lek [Light] sent
Captain Mangku to obtain tin—an advance of 100 phara against the value
of 926 guns [?] and asked him to take these 926 guns to Bangkok.

Now Captain Mangku has kindly offered to take the guns and silk cloth
which the governor and council have arranged to buy—900 chat cheramat
and 926 chat sutan,% together 1,826 guns, and 136 phan (bolts) of silk cloth.

1 James Scott to Lord George Macartney, 28 October 1785, Minutes of a Council at Fort
William, 2 March 1786, Straits Settlements Consultations, II, fols. 1-29. Scott says that he
attaches a translate [sic] but the matter and style of the alleged translation, which sets out
detailed terms for establishing a settlement on Thalang, suggests rather a compilation by Scott.
The letter itself has not been traced.

* Gerini, op. cit., 182.

3 Phongsawadan Mu’ang Phatthalung, Prachum phongsawadan, XV, Bangkok, 1920, 19.
The marriage probably took place between 1754 and 1766.

4 Probably Captain John Buncle mentioned as an associate of Light and Scott in a letter
from Light to Calcutta, 3 April 1780. Phya Surintharacha may be the Pee Siring of Forrest,
see Gerini, op. cit., 170.

5 Jaturamata\Bojatceramat
6 ‘ A kind of musket in great esteem among the Siamese ’, ร. J. Pallegoix, Dictionarium
linguae Thai, Paris, 1854, 263. Sutan, also, may be a term of Malay origin. A variant of this
type is used for sultan on the west coast of Sumatra, see below p. 612. The writer is indebted to
his colleagues Mr. J. c. Bottoms and Mr. Kassim Ahmad for information on Malay terms in
the letters.


596

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

He has in fact already taken them to Bangkok. The tin to the value of the
guns and cloth which the governor and council have bought has been given
to the owners of the guns and cloth at Thalang according to the value
stated above. Dated Friday, 7th day waxing of the second 8th moon, year
of the cock, 9th of the decade.’

Light’s first attempt to create a Company settlement on Thalang was made
in 1780. His optimism that the islanders would have welcomed a British
settlement arose perhaps from his awareness of the feeling of isolation which
the officials and people of Thalang and of the peninsular provinces generally
must have had in the troubled years of Tak Sin’s reign. There could have been
little fear of or confidence in the central authority in the face of Burmese and
Malay intrusions. In such circumstances the rulers of tributary states, or even
provincial officials appointed by the central government, who at this time
were often members of local families, might well have merited, sometimes, the
traditional accusation made by Siamese kings that they were ‘ birds with two
heads ’, that is, rulers who offered allegiance not only to the King but also
elsewhere. The possibility of European intervention, especially if directed by
men like Light and Scott, who were personally well known, could have seemed
an insurance against the schemes of Asian neighbours. The desire for local
autonomy was also a motive. This was the probable cause of the initial resistance
to Tak Sin’s attempt to reimpose central control.

At a date unspecified but probably early in Tak Sin’s reign, Thalang had
suffered a Malay invasion and the Laksamana of Kedah instituted an oppressive
rule there for a short period.1 In a letter to Lord Cornwallis, Light described
the skilfully organized revolt by which the local Siamese regained control of
the island. He commented ะ ‘ The Laxamana constantly regretted the loss of
this Island and offered me 8000 men when it was proposed to Mr. Hastings to
establish a settlement there ’. This refers to the proposals of 1780 which Light
stated had been sanctioned by Warren Hastings.1 2 The funds were to be
provided by subscription from interested merchants, and vessels and troops
dispatched by the Company. The imminent outbreak of hostilities between
the British and French prevented the execution of the design.

The Burmese attack and further annexation plans, 1785-7

In 1784 Forrest, who had been sent to survey the coast, said that Phya
Phimon would willingly throw off his dependence on Siam if he could get
support. The immediate cause of irritation was a tin duty of 25 per cent imposed

1 If the undated events in the Thalang annals are set down in chronological order, which is
not necessarily always the case, this invasion occurred between the governorship of At, a son of
a former local chief, who ruled after the official from Bangkok had come to the island, and the
arrival there of Phya Phimon ; Phongsawadan Mu'ang Thalang, 57 (translation Gerini, op. cit.,
239).

2 In Light to Cornwallis, 18 June 1787, Council Minutes, 27 July 1787, Straits Settlements
Consultations, II.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

597

by the central government. Forrest probably got bis information from Scott
wbo, be said, was at Tba Ru’a on Tbalang at that time.1 Forrest adds
significantly ะ £ How far bis having associates in government might prevent
such an attempt, I cannot say, possibly their appointment is with that very
intention by the despots of Siam . . . ’.1 2

Light had reason for continued optimism for he c still had the same influence
with the Governor of Salong ’.3 Scott had his eye firmly fixed on the profit to
be obtained from a development of Thalang’s tin and birds’ nests industries.
On 28 October 1785 he wrote at length to Lord George Macartney recom-
mending the occupation of Thalang by February 1786. He thought that
French aid would be given to Annam which would, in consequence, join with
Burma in a concerted attack on Siam in the dry season of 1785-6. This would
result in the entry of France upon the coast, a contingency to be avoided.
On the other hand, if Phya Phimon were to allow the establishment of a
Company settlement which, according to Scott, he was willing to do, a
weakened Siam would not be able to respond immediately. Bangkok would
not hear the news until April and then, since nothing could be done during the
rains, it would be eight months before the King could send a force to the area.
In setting out proposed terms for a political agreement with Phya Phimon,
Scott said, somewhat unscrupulously ะ

‘ In order to enable him to put himself into a state of defence [against
Bangkok] without suspicion I have improved the rumour of a Burmese War
and Invasion against which he is now providing as I offered my aid to repel
this invasion they mean to give me people to construct a fort which shall
be sufficiently strong to serve as a place of arms and have Cajan lodging for
3-400 men. The Burman invasion is to continue the ostensible course of
preparations untill Febry or untill a force arrives from Bengal ’.4
The Burmese invasion was no mere rumour. Scott himself reported that
the van of their fleet appeared off Tha Ru’a on 8 February when he sailed for
Tranquebar. He said that Phya Phimon had died at the beginning of
December 1785.5 Light confirms this date and states that the attack was
carried out by ‘ 3000 of the Barmar army in 80 large Prows ’.6 The date and
force total is confirmed by the Siamese chronicle for the year which puts the
attack on Thalang in perspective.7 The main Burmese effort was made in the

1 Gerini, op. cit., 173.

2 ibid., 175.

3 Light to Cornwallis, in Council Minutes, 27 July 1787 (referring to 1785), Straits Settlements
Consultations, II.

4 Scott to Macartney, 28 October 1785, Council Minutes, 2 March 1786, Straits Settlements
Consultations, II.

5 Scott to Governor-General, 31 March 1786, Council Minutes, 2 May 1786, Straits Settlements
Consultations, II, fols. 95-7.

6 Light to Governor-General, 3 April 1786, Council Minutes, 6 April 1786, Straits Settlements
Consultations, II, fols. 83-5.

7 pp, IV, 235-70.


598

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

north and towards Ayuthaya with a strong ancillary attack from Martaban
across the Three Pagodas pass to Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi. Another
land force moved across from Mergui and down the east coast of the peninsula,
through Chaiya and Chumphgn, to Nakhgn Si Thammarat. The ruler of that
place and his family fled because they believed a rumour that Bangkok had
been captured. Nakhgn Si Thammarat fell.

The force sent against Thalang came from Mergui. The Yewun, the
Burmese naval commander, took Takua Pa and Takua Thung. The Kinwun
Mingyi attacked Thalang, a few miles further south.1 The widow of Phya
Phimon and her sister, with the co-operation of the governor’s council, formed
two strongholds (see Scott’s remarks above) and resisted the Burmese for a
month. At the end of that time the invaders found themselves short of food
supplies and retired without taking the place.1 2 The heroism of these two
women was duly rewarded by the King of Siam (Rama I) who granted them
titles and elevated a daughter of the widow to be one of his palace ladies.
She later bore him a girl-child.3

The dated Thalang letters for this period number 20.4 Letter no. 37,
written on 6 December 1785 by Lady Chan, the wife of Phya Phimon, forecast
the attack on Thalang ะ

‘ Letter from Than Phu Ying [title of wife of high official] to Latok [for
Dato’, a Malay title applied to Light in this correspondence]. I have received
your letter and I would have taken it to the governor of Thalang to apprise
him of its contents, but he is very ill. You say that your trading at Thalang
has shown a great loss over a long period. I appreciate your difficulties and
indeed it is because you have been so kind to me that you have extravagantly
wasted all your profit and caused yourself this trouble. Now 1 have heard
that you are making ready the ship to leave and we have received news
that the Burmese are coming to attack Thalang and the governor is very ill.
If the Burmese come I must depend on you as a post to cling to. As for the
tin to the value of the cloth, the governor is still very ill and I have not yet .
consulted him. Once he is a little better I will call his attention to the
matter ....

Also the men set to guard the town and the fort are short of opium.
Please have Captain Iksakat [Scott] bring up nine or ten thaen.5 And if you
can come yourself please do so. Dispatched Tuesday, 5th day waxing of
the 1st moon, year of the small snake, seventh of the decade ’.

1 The Burmese title signifies ‘ Minister of Customs ’.

2 pp, IV, 265-6.

3 See genealogical table, on p. 614.

4 Nos. 6, 11, 12, 17, 18, 21, 22, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 43-17, 51, 55, and nos. 2, 7, 23 undated.

5 Probably a Southern Thai variant of Central Thai thaeng, see text, p. 616. This term is not
a recognized weight or measure. It may mean a small cake of opium. Opium in bulk was broken
down at Penang into cakes of approx. 3 lb. 5£ oz. ; Council Minutes, 6 November 1792, Straits
Settlements Consultations, IV.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

599

Letter no. 23 (undated) from Mae Prang, a daughter of the Than Phu Ying,
was written about this time.1

‘ . . . I shall depend on you as a protector. Now, with the Chao Khun
[term of reference for the governor] dead, I see nobody but you in his
place . . . ’.

Letters nos. 37 and 23 both refer to the impending departure of Light.
Letter no. 51, dated 28 November 1785, from the Yokrabat,2 indicates that
Light was sailing for Bengal. He was asked to obtain cloth of a special pattern
for the King. Letter no. 45 states that Light was in Bengal when the Burmese
attacked. This was indeed the case for he had gone there to confer with the
Council on the question of establishing a settlement at Penang, or Thalang, or
at both places.

Although Scott reported that the Burmese army appeared off Kra on
20 January 1786 some raiding forces seem to have been in the vicinity at an
earlier date. Letter no. 46, dated Wednesday, 14th day waning of the 12th
moon, year of the small snake, seventh of the decade (31 November 1785)
from Phra Ratchikisongkhram, probably an official of Takua Pa, makes
this clear ะ

‘ . . . When I was at Pak Phra a messenger from Takua Pa told me that
the Burmese were there causing trouble, so I have gone back to Takua Pa.
When I have organized the place I shall return to meet you ’.3
The writer wanted a cure for ear trouble which Light was getting for him.4
Since Light was in the district at that time, letters nos 23, 37, 46, and 51 were
probably sent to his ship off Thalang.

Letter no. 21, dated Saturday, 2nd day waxing of the 1st moon (3 December
1785), from an official of Takua Thung Bang Khli, on the mainland near
Thalang, is an urgent request for 5 hap (666 lb. avoir.) of gunpowder.

Letter no. 30 (12 April 1786) comments on the battle of Thalang. The
writer is Chao Phya Surintharacha, Controller of Thalang-Bang Khli, all eight
districts (mu’ang).5 This high official, a superintendent-general specially
appointed by Bangkok, was thus already at his post of duty early in 1786.6

‘ The letter of Than Chao Phya Surintharacha, Government Superin-
tendent of Thalang-Bang Khli, all the eight districts, to the Phya
Ratchakapitan [Light]. On the occasion of the recent attack on Thalang
by the Burmese, because of the great merit and protective power of His

1 See genealogical table, on p. 614, Lady Chan.

2 The Yokrabat, usually third in rank in the province, was an official specially appointed by
the central government for control purposes ; see H. G. Quaritch Wales, A?K,ient Siamese
government and administration, London, 1934. The Yokrabat was occasionally, though not
usually, a local man.

3 Takua Pa lies some 50 air miles north of Thalang. Pak Phra is between the two.

4 This official was possibly Phra Wichit the Deaf; Phongsawadan Muang Thalang, 65 ;
Gerini, op. cit., 242.

5 On the eight districts see Gerini, op. cit., 170, 186-92, 245.

6 This official may be the same man, raised in rank, as the Phya Surintharacha of letter no. 3
above, see below pp. 608-10.


600

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

Majesty the King, our soldiers of Thalang were enabled to fight and hold
up the Burmese for a period of one month. The Burmese suffered between
300 and 400 casualties, killed and wounded. They broke off the action and
retired on Monday, 14th day waxing of the 4th moon in the year of the
small snake, seventh of the decade ’ [13 March 1786] . . . .’

Light was in Calcutta during the battle of Thalang and for some months
afterwards, while the Governor-General in Council was considering the question
of whether to establish a settlement on the coast of the peninsula and, if so,
where. The relevant meeting of the Council was that of 2 March 1786 at which
the Hon. John Macpherson presided. Scott’s letter of 28 October 1785 is
recorded in these minutes. He wrote in a very prolix and hectoring fashion
which may well have irritated the Council. He suggested a speedy reply ะ

‘ . . . because in all fairness the Governor [Phya Phimon of Thalang]
ought to have the chance to provide elsewhere .... On the 15th Febry
1786 should no news arrive from Bengal I mean to proceed to the Coast of
Coromandel1 to attempt fulfilling a promise I have given the Governor to
assist him in his final Establishment should the hopes he entertains from the
English fail ’.

Apart from such implied threats, Scott appeared to be willing to saddle the
Company with what might turn out to be a heavy political and military burden :
‘ ... If the English Company will take on them the sovreignty of the
Island Jan Salong and its dependencies and send a force to resist any future
attempts from Siam . . . He [the governor] will deliver them the Peaceable
Possession of the Island ’.

Scott, despite his optimism about the weakness of Siam, asked for a strong
naval and military force. He wanted two heavily armed snows together with
armed long-boats and rowing galleys, big guns for two forts, 100 European
artillerymen with field pieces, artificers, and 500 sepoys. It is not surprising
that the Company hesitated.

In recommending the settlement of Penang in a letter written on 23 January,
a few days after his arrival from the Straits, Light wrote more moderately
of Thalang.1 2 He expressed the opinion that it could be taken with the same
force and expense that would be required to occupy Penang, and mentioned
the potential value of the tin industry. He made an appeal on behalf of the
inhabitants ะ

‘ . . . the Inhabitants have for many years strongly solicited me to
relieve them from the cruel oppression of Siam, and as they are capable of
defending themselves, they most want a chief in whom they can confide,
and an assurance that they shall enjoy a reasonable portion of that liberty
to which all men are by nature and reason entitled ’.

1 Meaning Tranquebar which was a Danish settlement at that time.

2 Forwarded as a postscript to a letter from the Governor-General to the Secret Committee
of the Court of Directors, 26 January 1786, Bengal Secret Letters, XXIV. In this letter Light is
spoken of highly.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

601

Light, perhaps with his importunate associate Scott in mind, sent a ‘ postscript ’
communication to the Council on 15 February in which he said that when
recommending the settlement of Penang he did not mean that Thalang should
not be taken also.

The Council had called for a report from Mr. Joseph Price who wrote, on
23 February, that he preferred Penang because it lay right in the China track
while Thalang was too far to the north. The position of Thalang placed it
under the influence of the heavy gales of the south-west monsoon which did
not affect Penang. Light was aware of this and had emphasized the better
geographical position of Penang in communications to the Council. Price,
following Light, thought that since Thalang could be occupied by the same
force that went to Penang the idea of taking it should be borne in mind.

The Council decided in favour of establishing a settlement on Penang and
in the minuted decision of 2 March and the final instructions to Light of 2 May
no mention whatever was made of Thalang.

However, in correspondence between the Governor-General and the Court
of Directors in London the following passage occurs ะ

‘ . . . I shall propose possession to be taken of the Ports and Islands
offered to US by the King of Cudda [Kedah] and especially of Junk Ceylon,
which is occupied by a separate people to the number of 50,000. These
have offered Captain Light the Sovereign Command among them ’J
The Court of Directors had evidently left the Governor-General with con-
siderable freedom of action in the matter. He would have had their concurrence
in establishing a settlement at either Penang or Junk Ceylon or at both places.1 2

The over-playing of his hand by Scott may have been a factor in the
Council’s decision. There were sound naval reasons for preferring Penang but
the possibility of continuing involvement with Siam if Thalang were taken
may have been an influence not openly acknowledged. Events soon showed
that Scott’s view of the condition of Siam, whether this was believed or not,
was over-optimistic. The success and speed with which Rama I repulsed the
formidable Burmese invasion of 1785-6 was remarkable by any standards.
Light himself found it difficult to ascribe this success to Siamese arms alone ะ

‘ . . . On a sudden their army disappeared ; but beat by the Siamese or
occasioned by a dissension among the Generals is uncertain . . . ’.3
Light, Scott, and the Sultan of Kedah were all surprised by the speed of
recovery. To the last-named this surprise must have been particularly painful
as he had been supplying the Burmese army with arms and ammunition, very
possibly bought from Scott.4

1 Letter from Governor-General to the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors,

26 January 1786, quoted by Clodd, op. cit., 39. 2 loc. cit.

3 Light to Governor-General, 12 September 1786, Council Minutes, 9 October 1786, Straits
Settlements Consultations, II, fol. 131.

4 Light to Macpherson, 12 September 1786, Council Minutes, 13 December 1786, Straits
Settlements Consultations, II, fol. 317. Light wrote, ‘ Last year [1785] the preparations of the
Burmans were so great that the King of Queda expected the total destruction of the Siamese ’.


602

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

The high point of the Burmese attack in the south was reached when
Nakhpn Si Thammarat fell in January or early February 1786. Once the
threat to the flank at Ratchaburi was disposed of, Rama I dispatched an army
to the south under the ‘ Second King ChumphQn, Chaiya, and Nakhpn Si
Thammarat were recaptured and the army had reached and subdued Patani
by September. During October the royal armies, having pacified the country
and meted out punishment, returned to Bangkok.1

The aftermath of the Burmese attack on Thalang was famine. Letter no. 30
appealed for rice : 1 2

‘ ... at present the people of Takua Thung, Bang Khli are scattered
abroad because of the destruction of their villages. The whole region is in
disorder. The Burmese burnt much rice and it is in very short supply.
There is insufficient to provide for the settlements until rice is available
again from the fields. Please think of [the problems of] the royal government
[here] and have the captain bring up the trading ship with merchandise
and rice so that the officials may be able to distribute enough for the people
to go on cultivating their fields .... Dispatched ะ Wednesday, 14th day
waxing of the 5th moon, year of the horse, eighth of the decade ’ [12 April
1786] ’.

A further letter (no. 45) of late September or October from the widow of
Phya Phimon describes conditions on Thalang ะ

‘ The letter of Than Phu Ying to Than Phya Ratchakapitan Lek [Light]
for information. Whereas you sent a letter by the master of a Tenasserim
ship saying that when you were in Bengal you had received news that the
Burmese had attacked Thalang and that you did not know whether the
Burmese had taken Thalang or if I and my family had left, but that later
on, having arrived at Sai [Kedah] you discovered that Thalang had not
been destroyed by the Burmese and that I and my family were safe and
that you were very relieved—I thank you for everything you said, I cannot
thank you enough.

Because of the Burmese attacks on Thalang the district is in confusion
at the present time. We are in great dearth of food.

I have organized the digging of tin at Takua Pa3 and have obtained some
which has been used to purchase all the rice available at a high price.

When the Burmese came, Phya Thammatrailok summoned me to
Pak Phra.4 I returned home when they captured Pak Phra.5 Those who
guarded the place had gone away and left it and everything there had been
looted. Now I am destitute, without anything.

1 The Siamese chronicles give a detailed account of the Burmese invasion in the south and

its aftermath ; pp, IV, 262-72. 2 See above, p. 599.

3 Perhaps ‘ in the forest ’, see text, p. 617.

4 An official of this name or title was appointed at Pak Phra on the accession of King Tak Sin.
He was killed during the Burmese attack; Phongsawadan Mu'ang Thalang, 59, see Gerini,
op. cit., 241.

5 On 4 February 1786 according to Scott.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

603

Now that I know you have settled at Pulao Pinang I am very pleased,
especially because when the Burmese came on the previous occasion you
were in Bengal which is so far from Thalang that you could not come to
and fro. Now that you are established at Pulao Pinang near to Thalang
and since you were an old friend of His Excellency who died, I suppose
I can place my reliance upon the benefits of your merit and wisdom [if the
Burmese attack again].

[The letter continues with a request for rice to be sent up by sloop from
Penang or Kedah in exchange for tin.] Dispatched ะ Thursday in the
eleventh month, year of the horse, eighth of the decade ’.

The bearer of the letter was Captain ‘ Linsin ’. This was Lindsay, one of the
signatories of the document establishing the Penang settlement on 11 August
1786, who was master of Light’s ship Speedwell. He had remained in the
Straits when Light went to Bengal.

Letter no. 12, 1 October 1786, makes a more precise request for rice ะ

‘ Letter from Ok Phra Phakdisiphichaisongkhram to Than Phya
Ratchakapitan informing him that the people at Thalang are starving from
want of rice. If you are sympathetic towards me and the people, out of
your goodness have Captain Salat [Scott?] bring up two or three thousand
gunnies [sacks] of rice for distribution to the people to save them from death.

When Captain Liki [Lindsay?] was sent by you with a ship to trade at
Thalang he did not know the people and the business was unsuccessful.1
Dated Sunday, 9th day waxing of the 11th moon, year of the horse, eighth
of the decade ’.

Light made some response to these appeals though apparently not on the scale
requested. In a letter to the Governor-General dated 25 November 1786 he
reported ะ

‘ The people of Junk Ceylon after expelling the Burmese are distressed
by famine, and expect another attack this season. I have sent to the
people of Junk Salong 500 bags of rice, in order not to lose entirely the
goodwill of the islanders ’.1 2

Letter no. 45 may imply that the Burmese were still in the area though no
actual attack is mentioned in Siamese sources. However, Light, in the letter to
the Governor-General dated 25 November 1786, quoting a letter from the
Sultan of Kedah of the same date, says that the Sultan has been ordered by
the King of Siam to defend Thalang against an expected sea-borne attack
by the Burmese.3

Letter no. 45, with its mention of Light’s friendship with Phya Phimon,

1 This passage may mean that Lindsay dealt with the wrong people or officials from the
point of view of the writer. Letter no. 18 (see below, p. 604) refers to Lindsay providing rice for
the widow. Alternatively, ‘ Liki ’ may represent another, unknown, ship’s captain who was
unfamiliar with Thalang and did not speak Thai.

2 ‘ Notices of Pinang ’, Journal of the Indian Archipelago, ed. Logan, NS, II, 1858, 202,
quoting Light to Governor-General, 25 November 1786.

3 ibid., 203.


604

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

emphasizes the importance of this official in the schemes of Light and Scott.
Light himself refers to this in a letter of 1787.1

‘ . . . had he lived [I] would have secured a possession of the island.
His death which happened in Dec. 1785 altered the certainty of success to
a dubious point. His widow the only person of estimation would willingly
have given up her power. Her sons and nephews beseeched me to take the
Government of the Island, could I have had assurance of support from
Government I should have embraced the offer and secured both these
Islands. I requested that they would wait two months and if I did not
return with troops to provide for themselves.’

Scott emphasizes the importance of Lady Chan.

‘ . . . Pia Pimon deriving his influence from his wife’s family and they
being the great promoters of the proposed Revolution his death made little
difference.’ 1 2

As a daughter of an old hereditary chief of Thalang, Lady Chan certainly
occupied a position of great importance.3 Her second husband, Phya Phimon,
was an c outsider ’ and Scott probably made a just appreciation of the situation.
It is likely that Lady Chan, even though she was given a title by the King,
began to lose influence after the Burmese attack in which she had played a
heroic role.

The presentation of her daughter to the King may be seen as an effort to
maintain her power, but she was a woman and whatever the strength of her
family influence she could not be governor herself. The increasing stability of
the Bangkok regime from 1786 onwards resulted in the reimposition of full
control by the central government. Changes in the administration were
inevitable. Lady Chan had taken Phya Phimon into the family by marrying
him, and it is likely that her first marriage to Mgm Si Phakdi had its political
aspect. She could not do this for a third time.

Letter no. 18 (1786) suggests, however, that Lady Chan was still concerned
with affairs. It was written by a close associate of hers, possibly a relative, but
perhaps no more than a hanger-on.

‘ Letter from me, the Phya Thukkharat of Phuket [a district of the
island] to the Phra Ratchakapitan. I cannot properly express our gratitude
to you for sending Captain Lin [Lindsay] with some rice for Chao Khun
Manda [the widow]. I have been to Songkhla [Singora] to the royal
authority but at the time I had little to offer [as gifts?]. I had only one
case of Arab gunpowder and eight sutan guns. I sent up to the royal
authority the government funds held by the late Governor together with,
as usual, the taxes 4 due from trading in tin. The royal authority has first

1 See above, p. 597, ท. 3.

2 Scott to Council, 31 March 1786, Council Minutes, 2 May 1786, Straits Settlements
Consultations, II.

3 See genealogical table, on p. 614.

4 Possibly ‘ profits ’ ; see text, p. 617. The term is sometimes so used in Southern Thai.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

605

of all appointed me Phya Thukkharat, and has said that later there would
be an order making me Phya Thalang [governor]. The Nai Luang Wang Na
[‘ Second King ’] has been very kind to me.

In the waning of the 3rd moon [mid-February 1787] Chao Khun Manda
and I will go to have audience in Bangkok. We shall go by way of Talipong
island. Can you please send a ship to take Chao Khun Manda. I shall come
to see you at Penang [about this]. Out of your goodness please get ready
some guns and merchandise as gifts for His Majesty.

Hereafter I shall be a person of importance. At present the Chao Phya
Thalang [governor of Thalang] and I are not on good terms. I am sending
Nai Phet, Nai Th details. Please send a small gun of good make for my own use.

If, on going to Bangkok this time, the King grants my wish, should you
have need of tin I will provide you with as much as you require.

Dispatched ะ Monday in the year of the horse, eighth of the decade.’

This expedition may have been delayed for Lady Chan wrote to Light in
July 1787 saying that she was going to Bangkok for an audience of the King
(letter no. 28). She asked for 50 sutan guns and other gifts, and intended to
send the Phya Thukkharat and Phg Chui, her son, to meet Light.

She wrote again early in 1788 saying that she was definitely going to
Bangkok. She had started late in 1787 but was held up by a flood at Na Toei,
on the mainland near Thalang. At that point she was recalled by the governor
who wished to discuss with her certain matters relating to trading activities in
tin carried out by the late governor, her husband (letter no. 33).

Light and Scott continued their campaign for the occupation of Thalang
after the establishment of the colony at Penang on 11 August 1786. Andrew
Boss, whose influence in the matter had been solicited by Light, had written
from Madras in support of the Thalang project on 18 July.1

Scott wrote to the Governor-General on 4 September congratulating the
Council in somewhat patronizing terms for establishing the settlement at
Penang.1 2 Though writing favourably of Penang he strongly recommended the
acquisition of Thalang. At a time when the Company was concerned about
expenditure he pointed out, shrewdly, that profits at Thalang were more
quickly to be gained and would be ‘ enough to defray the expenses of both ’
[settlements]. Lord Cornwallis, who had a reputation for caution, was indeed
worried about Company finances generally and was anxious that there should
be good hope of a return for expenditure on Penang.3 From this point of view
the island was kept under close scrutiny for some time to come.

Light, as the new superintendent at Penang, could not easily write so

1 Clodd, op. cit., 53, source not quoted.

2 Scott to Governor-General, Council Minutes, 9 October 1786, Straits Settlements Consulta-
tions, II, fols. 139-43.

3 Governor-General’s statement, Council Minutes, 13 December 1786, Straits Settlements
Consultations, II, fols. 343-6.


606

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

strongly in favour of Thalang. In a letter dated 12 September he fully accepted
the advantages offered by Penang from the naval point of view.1 This was an
opinion firmly held by the Council. But he also recommended the occupation
of Thalang to keep the French and Dutch off the coast. He mentioned the
valuable revenues to be obtained from tin and other commodities.

A further letter from Light in October mentioned a severe flood in Siam
and the return of the southern army to Bangkok, thus confirming statements
made in the chronicles. He said that the Burmese were expected to attack
early in 1787. Of Thalang, again more enthusiastic, he said that the island
could offer a little-known and easily fortified harbour suitable for men-of-war.
Mutton and beef could be raised in sufficient quantities to supply a fleet.
He sent a sample of tin.1 2

Light and Scott had agreed, perhaps, on the timing of these letters. They
had jointly established a ‘ House of Trade ’ at Penang soon after the founding
of the colony in August. Kyd’s report on Penang criticized Light and Scott
for monopolizing the trade in their own hands with the danger that private
rather than public interests would be furthered.3

A final effort was made in 1787. In a report on Penang Light wrote ะ

‘ The present Governor, titled Choo Pia [Chao Phya] Salang, is one of
the greatest villains who has raised himself by ingratitude, deceit, murder
and rapine from a low and indigent state. He wrote me a letter expressing
great esteem and Friendship which I did not answer. A few days ago he
sent a Messenger to assure me that if I would next November send a vessel
with some Troops he would deliver the Island to the English and only
require a small allowance for himself, could this Island be obtained by
Treaty or with the unanimous consent of the Inhabitants for the King of
Siam is only the usurper of yesterday and may probably share the fate of
his master \4

Light suggested the possibility of acquiring Thalang by the more regular
means of treaty or by a grant from the King of Siam twice only, in the letter
quoted above and in a communication to Andrew Ross in 1784.5 Both in 1784
and in 1787 Light’s influence at Thalang was not at its strongest. It may be
supposed that plans for a British occupation, with the connivance of at least
some of the members of the original ruling family, reached their most advanced
stage between these two dates.

1 Light to Macpherson, Council Minutes, 9 October 1786, Straits Settlements Consultations, II,
fols. 129-39.

2 Light to Macpherson, 5 October 1786, Council Minutes, 13 December 1786, Straits Settle-
ments Consultations, II, fols. 181a-89.

3 Kyd, ‘ Memoir of Prince of Wales Island ’, Council Minutes, 14 September 1787, Straits
Settlements Consultations, II.

4 Light to Cornwallis, 18 June 1787, Council Minutes, 27 July 1787. This is the most complete
of the contemporary descriptions of Thalang. The so-called ‘ usurper ’ was, of course, King
Rama I whose ninth lineal descendant sits on the throne in Bangkok in 1963.

5 Light to Andrew Ross, Fort St. George, 18 March 1784, Straits Settlements Consultations, I.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

607

The letter of friendship mentioned by Light has not been traced. But
letter no. 17, 11 November 1787, refers to friendly relations, though with an
accompanying hint of menace.

‘ Letter from the Chao Phya Thalang to the Phra Ratchakapitan.
When the captain of the sloop brings merchandise to sell here, according
to the customary practice the governor and council and the chief merchants
will agree on prices. They undertake the selling of goods to the people and
make a small profit. You were here formerly and so you know all about this.
You sent Captain Wirasen [Wilson]1 with opium, husked rice, silver, and
cloth to sell at Mu’ang Thalang recently and fixed a price for opium of
6 phara [of tin] per pip [container of medium size].

They arranged to buy the opium, silver, and cloth and then Captain
Wirasen sold direct to the people at a lower price than that at which he
sold to the officials and leading merchants, who had bought a large quantity
and lost money on the deal. This is contrary to the rule and custom of the
state. If we take legal action it may be, since you are far away, that you
will misunderstand and think we are acting in a cavalier fashion, so we are
sending this letter to inform you. We ought not to destroy our friendship.
If you do not strictly control your captain and he does this again there will
be a quarrel between the captain and the council. You will be angered and
our friendly trading relations will be broken for the future .... [The letter
continues with a request for 600 muskets for the king.] Dispatched ะ Sunday,
4th day waxing of the 1st moon, year of the goat, ninth of the decade.’

The letter, though justified and reasonable in tone, does indeed mention
friendly relations but it is without warmth. It is the necessity for friendship
rather than friendship itself that is implied. Light’s own remarks indicate that
he regarded the governor of that time with some suspicion, and a further
suggestion that relations between Light and the governor were not good is
contained in letter no. 47, though written by an interested party.

The period of Light’s political influence was clearly coming to an end and
letter no. 47 marks its conclusion in a touchingly human way. The writer was
a minor official who was perhaps a member of the local family. He was possibly
the same person as Khun Thit Phrom (letter no. 18) who appears to have been
a close associate of Lady Chan, perhaps one of the nephews.1 2 The letter is
undated but was probably written late in 1786 since Light is already established
at Penang.

‘ Letter from Khun Tha Phrom to the Phra Ratchakapitan with the
greatest respect ะ

This is to let you know that I am undergoing the most extreme degree
of hardship and difficulty. This trouble has come upon me because of my

1 This was Captain Thomas Wilson who is recorded at this time as master of the Minerva
snow and other small trading vessels plying between Penang and Thalang, in shipping reports
which appear as appendixes to Light’s letters to the Governor-General.

2 See above, p. 604.


608

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

love and loyalty for you. In the Burmese attack on Thalang many of
my friends were lost to me, killed in the fighting. The Governor and
Council do not trust me because I am your man. I have placed myself at
your feet. That I have so far escaped death may be due to the merit gained
through my loyalty to you, but what will happen now I cannot tell. I am
in this great trouble because I have carried out our agreement to the limits
of endurance. But now if you do not concern yourself with my life and with
the agreement to govern Thalang I must take leave of you and of Thalang
in death . . . . ’ [Then follows the reference to Light being in Penang.]
Among the Thalang letters dated after 1787 there are only two, apart from
no. 33, which refer to Lady Chan and her family. Letter no. 36 (4 January
1788) from Mae Prang, Lady Chan’s daughter, seems to express genuine
friendship but emphasizes that she has fallen on hard times. She sent Light
ten melons and asked for two pieces of chintz and a little rose-water. She wrote ะ
‘ ... At present I am in great distress and I think of you night and day 1
for nobody troubles about me and my affairs. I still feel very grateful to
you and because I am so poor I cannot repay you . . . ’.

In letter no. 53 (May 1792) Phya Phetsirisi[phichai]songkhram, superintendent-
general of the eight districts and governor of Thalang said ะ

‘ Please spare a friendly thought for Khun Manda [Lady Chan].1 2 She
has aged very much lately and is not in such good health as she used to be.
Mae Prang has died. Please send some white cloth for ceremonial use
[mourning?] . . . ’.

The writer was probably not the man to whom Light referred as governor in
letter no. 17 above. The governor was asking Light for guns and he had
evidently included in the letter a request from Lady Chan for some bowls and
brass-ware. Perhaps old age as much as the turn of the wheel of political
fortune accounted for Lady Chan’s decline.

The later letters, 1788-94 3

The re-establishment of firm control by the central government took place
after the defeat of the Burmese in 1786. A superintendent-general for all the
eight districts, Chao Phya Surintharacha, was appointed as early as 1786
(letter no. 30 above).4 Earlier, in 1777, a Phya Surintharacha, the rank of
Phya being one grade lower than that of Chao Phya, appears in letter no. 3
(above) with Phya Phimon, the governor of Thalang. His name comes first

1 A conventional expression.

2 For Chao Khun Manda ? The use of the term does not necessarily imply that the writer
was a son of Lady Chan but he seems to have been on good terms with the family.

3 21 dated letters ะ nos. 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 15, 19, 29, 33, 36, 41, 42, 48, 52-54, 56-59.

4 Further evidence for the reorganization is provided by letters nos. 9 and 54 (1790) which
refer to the appointment of a new official in charge at Takua Thung Bang Khli at a date which
must have been after the Burmese invasion of 1786. In letter no. 34 (1787) the governor of
Phatthalung wrote that he had been recently appointed to the post.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

609

and this suggests seniority. This official, perhaps the ‘ Pee Siring ’ of Forrest,
was probably the same man as the later Chao Phya and therefore was simply
promoted in rank when the reorganization took place.

The new governor of Thalang who wrote letter no. 17 (above) in November
1787 is not known. Unfortunately, the letters do not provide clear evidence on
this point. Confirming the statements made in letter no. 18 (above), the
chronicle records that officials from Thalang waited upon the ‘ Second King ’
at Songkhla and also sent a report on the fighting to Bangkok. After the
return of the ‘ Second King ’ to the capital, and therefore not before November
1786, a royal order was sent appointing an unnamed official‘ who had performed
satisfactory service during the war ’ as governor of Thalang.1

The first named governor after 1786 is Phya Phetsirisiphichaisongkhram
who was in charge in 1791. In the intervening period most of the letters were
written by junior officials. One of these was the Yokrabat. This was probably
Nai Chu mentioned in the Thalang annals as the Yokrabat who eventually
became governor.1 2 He wrote as Qk Phra Phon Phakdisiphichaisongkhram on
1 October 1786 (letter no. 12) and as Ok Luang Phetphakdisiphichaisongkhram,
Yokrabat, on 2 March 1788 (letter no. 59) and on 25 August 1789 (letter no. 56).
Other letters came from a deputy-governor at this time. This official wrote as
Phya Thukkharat, Phya Palat on 8 January 1788 (letter no. 31).3 There is a
letter from a deputy-governor dated 25 August 1789 (letter no. 41). Possibly
the royal order did not come from Bangkok as early as the chronicle entry
suggests. In any case that entry is datable only by reference to the return of
the ‘ Second King ’ in October 1786.

It seems likely that the hopes of Phya Thukkharat mentioned in letter no. 18
(above) were not fulfilled and the governorship fell eventually to Phya
Phetsirisiphichaisongkhram. Phya Thukkharat may have acted as governor
for a time and perhaps it is he to whom Light referred in such uncomplimentary
terms. The one certain appointment made, or confirmed, in 1786 seems to have
been that of Chao Phya Surintharacha as superintendent-general (letter no. 30
above). He may have acted also as governor in 1786 immediately after the
battle and is perhaps the person mentioned by Phya Thukkharat in letter
no. 18 above.

Chao Phya Surintharacha was the son of a high official of the reign of the
last king of Ayuthaya. He served in the capital and later went to Nakhpn Si
Thammarat where he was made Uparat (vice-chief) by the ruler. When the
latter was punished by Tak Sin, Chao Phya Surintharacha was given another
post in the capital. He had married into the family of the rulers of Nakhgn Si

1 pp, IV, 271-2.

2 Phongsawadan Mu’ang Thalang, 58 ; Gerini, op. cit., 240. He was already Yokrabat in
November 1785 (letter no. 51). A son of Lady Chan, Chui, did however become Yokrabat but
there is no mention of him as governor in the annals.

3 Thukkharat ะ duklcharasdara, a curious term. This official was normally junior to the
Yokrabat; see Phongsawadan Mu'ang Phatthalung, 47. Palat ะ deputy.

VOL. XXVI. PART 3.

43


610

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

Thammarat. He then went back to the provinces.1 Though long resident in
the area he does not seem to have been connected with the old Thalang family.
He appears as superintendent-general in 1777 (probably), 1786, early 1791,
and mid-1792. In between these last two dates, however, another official took
his place. This was Phya Phetsirisiphichaisongkhram who was the writer of
letter no. 53 in which he appealed for Light’s sympathy for Lady Chan.
In letter no. 1 (late December 1790 or January 1791) he appears as governor
of Thalang in the preamble but, in the body of the letter, he claims to have
been given the supreme authority over the people of all the eight districts, in
an audience of the King.

There is a story in the Thalang annals, also given by Prince Somnot, that
Chao Phya Surintharacha was summoned to Bangkok to take the post of
Kalahom ‘ Minister of War ’ after the holder of that post had disappeared in
battle at Tavoy. Surintharacha represented to the King that he was too aged
to perform such onerous duties satisfactorily and also pleaded that he preferred
life in the country. He was eventually allowed to return to Thalang.1 2

Such events could provide the reason for the claim by Phya Phetsirisiphi-
chaisongkhram to what would have been the temporary charge of the eight
districts. The two officials appear together as superintendent-general and
governor respectively in letter no. 15 (17 April 1792). But, according to the
chronicle, the death of the Kalahom did not take place until 1793.3

It may be that Chao Phya Surintharacha, of whom the chronicles make no
mention at this time, was invited to take a position in Bangkok which was not
that of Kalahom and left to do so in 1791. He might have visited Bangkok in
that year because a letter from a junior official (mid-1791) stated that he was
forwarding a letter from Chao Phya Surin who appeared to be away from
Thalang (letter no. 5).

Light continued his trading operations. They did not always go smoothly.
Letters nos. 19 (1790) and 13 (1791) refer to violent incidents involving the
Captain Wilson mentioned by the governor in letter no. 17 above.

Letter no. 42 (date partly defaced—25 June 1792) was written to Light by
the Kalahom in Bangkok.

‘ . . . Whereas His Majesty at Krung Thep Mahanakhpn [Bangkok] . . .
has been graciously pleased to declare that, on the 2nd day waning of the
4th moon in the year of the hog, 3rd of the decade,4 the ruler of Tavoy
sent an ambassador with a letter on plates of gold, gold and silver flowers,
and other royal tribute to His Majesty in order to come under the protection
of Bangkok according to ancient royal custom, and that Mergui has not yet

1 Prince Somnot Ampraphan, Ru'ang tang ปี}lao Phraya nai Krung Ratanalcosin, Bangkok,
1918, 2, 25. Chao Phya Surintharacha’s son Ru’k wrote the Thalang annals referred to in this
article, in 1841. Another son succeeded his father as superintendent-general according to Gerini,
op. cit., 191.

2 Phongsawadan Mu’ang Thalang, 60-1, and Gerini, 188-9.

3 pp, IV, 352-3.

4 The chronicle date is one day later ; pp, IV, 333.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

611

acceded like Tavoy.1 In the eleventh month of the year of the rat, 4th of
the era His Majesty will command the ‘ Second King ’ to lead an army
against Mergui and he will send a naval force to attack Martaban, Bassein,
and Rangoon, and go up as far as Ava. The royal army, the Lao army,
and forces raised in the northern territories will attack the Shan states,
Pegu, and Taungu as successive objectives. His Majesty himself will go by
land route to attack Martaban and will then proceed to join forces to
attack Ava. Therefore many troops will be required at this time. A naval
force from Kedah will transport rice to Thalang.

You have engaged in friendly trading activities with Bangkok and now
that a major attack is to be launched against Ava it is hoped that you will
see your way to providing friendly assistance by hiring out a ship [or ships],
buying and loading 400-500 kwian of rice 1 2 and by arranging for the captain,
crew, labourers, and officers together with guns big and small, ammunition,
priming powder, and weapons to be sent to Thalang at the same time, as
supplies for the royal army. If the £ Second King ’ issues operational
instructions to such an effect, your ship’s master should move with the
army. The cost of hiring the ship and payment to the labourers and officers
will be provided from royal funds according to custom. Ships captured at
Tavoy will be a royal gift to you.3 ... if you do not give friendly assistance
to the government on this occasion .... 6th day waxing of the eighth
moon . . . .’

Letter no. 42 was delivered at Penang by an ambassador on 22 September.
Light reported that he made a cautious response by pointing out that he was
not permitted to give aid to belligerents but that he would raise no objection
if the ambassador succeeded in obtaining private assistance at Penang.4

Letter no. 4 from Phya Phetsirisiphichaisongkhram, governor of Thalang
(23 October 1792) refers to the projected attack on Mergui and asks for army
supplies to be sent by the end of November. The plan for the attack, which
never came fully into operation because of an unexpected initial set-back at
Tavoy, is dated by the chronicle in November 1792.5 A force of 40,000 is
mentioned and there are brief references to orders for mobilization in the
north and to the naval forces of the £ Second King ’ whose first objective was
Mergui. However, the letter from the Kalahom provides additional information
and it is interesting that the plans should have been revealed so fully to a
foreigner.

1 The ruler of Tavoy was shortly to repudiate this renewed allegiance to Bangkok.

2 Cartload ; a weight, 3,375 lb. avoir, according to Thomas Maccauly, The Indian trader's
complete guide, Calcutta, 1816.

3 Text defaced from this point.

4 Light to Cornwallis, 26 September 1792, Council Minutes, 9 November 1792, Straits
Settlements Consultations, V. The minutes contain a rough translation of the letter, fols. 118-23.
The date is given correctly as 25 June. It was understood by the translator that a ship at Tavoy
would come under Light’s command, not that he would receive ships as prizes.

5 pp, IV, 347-8.


612

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

The Siamese were interested in two general categories of guns—cannon and
small arms. The cannon were usually of 4 in. and 5 in. calibre. In one case
(letter no. 15) bronze or copper cannon were specified in an order for the King.
The term used for a cannon is bariam or barian. Pallegoix cites bariam simply
as a kind of cannon.1 Bariam occurs frequently in the chronicles. Its history
may be < meriarn (Malay) a kind of cannon called Mary, < miriarn (Arabic)
< a European source-word? 1 2

One type of musket is merely described as flint-lock. French flint-locks
were also asked for and these presumably came from French factories in India
which were well known in the eighteenth century for small arms of good quality.
Sutan and Cheramat are, however, the types most frequently specified. If these
terms are of Malay origin it would be an indication that Siam was one of the
regular outlets for the arms trade in which the sultans of the peninsula engaged.3

There is a total of 19 requests for guns in the letters. Quantities are speci-
fied in 17 cases. The total involved is considerable bearing in mind that the
correspondence is incomplete and that arms may have been carried on specula-
tion from time to time without firm orders being laid in advance. 50 cannon
and 8,372 muskets were asked for in all. Most of these were wanted by the
King but a total of 1,000 muskets is specified as being for local defence in the
Thalang region and the actual proportion may have been higher.

It is important to ask how many of these guns actually arrived. The letters
give only a limited answer. In 1777, 1,826 muskets arrived at Thalang and
were sent on to Bangkok and in the same year 490 were received for local use.
In addition, the item in the chronicles for 1776 states that 1,400 flint-lock
muskets arrived in Bangkok. There is only one complaint about failure to
deliver (letter no. 48, 1793). This concerns two muskets that were required as
a present for the King.

A price in Spanish dollars can be quoted. A royal request of 1787 (letter
no. 55) offers 1 phara of tin for 8 muskets. Ten years earlier the rate was 6 per
phara. These rates give 6 and 8 $ Sp. per musket taking 13 dollars as the price
of a picul of tin.4

In addition to guns, shot, black powder, priming powder, sulphur, and
flints were requested. The largest order was from the governor of Takua Thung

1 op. cit., 49.

2 See R. J. Wilkinson, Malay-English dictionary, 1932, 135 ; พ. Marsden, A dictionary of
the Malay language, 1812, 323.

3 A consignment of 2,200 muskets sent to Bangkok from Trengganu in 1770 is mentioned in
Phongsawadan Krung Thonburi, Prachum phongsawadan, LXV, Bangkok, 1937, 33.

* Forrest quotes tin on board at Junk Ceylon at 12-13 $ Sp. per picul (1784). Light’s price
works out at 17 ร Sp. per picul of 133 lb. (1787). Scott (1785) claimed to be able to buy at 8£
but this low price was used when calculating the potential profitability of the island and enabled
him to quote a high total figure. Even the Dutch were paying something over 10 $ Sp. per picul
in Perak (Glass to Governor-General, 29 April 1787, Straits Settlements Consultations, Ii).
Taking a mean figure of 13, the price of tin was 48 $ Sp. per phara. The Thalang bahar (Siamese ะ
phara) varies but approx. 485 lb. avoir, is given by พ. Milburn, Oriental commerce, London,
1825, 320.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

613

in 1791 (letters nos. 54 and 9—the same order) which consisted of 15 piculs of
black powder, 100 piculs of priming powder, 10 piculs of sulphur, and 5 phara
in weight of 3 in., 4 in., and 5 in. cannon-balls. In 1787 the governor of
Phatthalung asked for 5 piculs of sulphur and 5,000 flints. One price only is
quoted (in 1787) ; 2 pip of black powder to 1 phara of tin.1

When Light reverted, as he did in the later period, to his early role of
trader he was fulfilling what, to official eyes in Bangkok, had always been his
primary function, that of purveyor of arms and other commodities to the
King of Siam. Colonel Low criticized Light and, particularly, Scott for their
involvement in politics. He accepted Scott’s expert knowledge of local
commerce but he implied that both men were not aware of the nature of the
relationships between the central government and Thalang and the Malay
states. This is not the case. In their correspondence with Calcutta both Light
and Scott showed that they appreciated the difference between the tributary
position of Kedah and the provincial situation of Thalang even though this
was not then so marked as it became later. They were at fault because they
underestimated the military genius of Rama I and perhaps exaggerated to
themselves the stability of the political position of the local family and the
probable degree of permanency in its desire for British intervention. Lady Chan
was certainly a powerful figure behind the scene but she and her associates
were in an impossible position. Political manoeuvres at Thalang, as in many
small states, were motivated by the incompatible wishes for security and
independence. It would be easy to say that security was the greater need and
that it could be gained only by allegiance to Bangkok. Two factors stand in
the way of making this easy assumption in respect of that time. The obvious
one is the lack of certainty about the strength of Siam which must have been
felt in the south. The other is the Malay connexion of the family. The Malay
states further down the peninsula were a ready refuge in times of political
trouble even for the rulers of so comparatively important a province as
Songkhla. The local lords of nearby Phatthalung rejected Islam in favour of
Buddhism only in 1772.1 2 Lady Chan’s mother was a Malay.

The Malay connexion no doubt provided a strong psychological basis for
secessionist feelings but there was little reflection of this in effective political
terms, for one reason because the local family never succeeded in obtaining for
themselves the most important political post, that of superintendent-general.3

In such circumstances the plans to establish a British settlement might
well have miscarried. If they had succeeded the military costs of continuing
an occupation must have been high. The response of the Siamese government
would have been more determined and long-lasting than was the case with
Penang, a mere jungle-covered island belonging to Kedah. At Thalang the

1 A quantity or weight for the pip is not known.

2 Phongsawadan Mu'ang Phatthalung, 20.

3 See Forrest’s remarks, above, p. 597.


Genealogical table

05

h-*

BAN DQN FAMILY1
Chiang (1) = Chqm Thao = (2) Dam

BAN TAKHIAN FAMILY

Chqm Rang = Ma Sia (Malay from
Kedah)

Chiat Thqng
(governor of Thalang
c. 1766 dismissed)

Ru’ang

(became dep-gov.
of Thalang)

Mom Si Phakdi (1) = Chan (Z) BHYA U
(of Talcua Thung) (Lady Chan, created
Thao Thepkasatri)

(2) Phya Phimon

(governor of Kra c. 1754
(Forrest), Phatthalung 2
c. 1766-8, Thalang
early 1770’ร (but
probably after 1772)
to 1785, d. Dec.)

Muk (f)
(created Thao
Sisunthpn)

Ma (f.)

BAN LIPHON FAMILY

Ch (executed for treason
late Ayuthaya period?)
this family played no part
in local government from
that time

At

(became governor of
Thalang c. 1772,
killed by (Malay?)
pirates)

Ru’ang (m.)
(became a
junior official
at Thalang)

Mae Prang Thian

(d. 1792) (governor of

Thalang c. 1768?)

Mae Thong = Rama I
Ubon (f.)

Chui Niam Mae Kim (f.) Mae Mu’ang (f.)

(became Yokrabat, (became a

after 1792?) court page)

พ

พ

Compiled from ะ Annals of Thalang and Phatthalung,
Thalang letters, Western documents.

^ Chore Thao and Chom Rang were half-brothers by the same father but of different mothers. It is interesting that the ancient distinction between the
territorial family groups maintained by the Thalang annals appears to be in terms of female lines.

2 Phya Phimon was governor of Phatthalung when temporarily estranged from Lady Chan (Phatthalung annals).

SIMMONDS


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

615

security of a potentially rich province was threatened. Bangkok’s inevitable
anxiety that a British settlement on Thalang might prove a focus for
secessionist tendencies in the whole middle peninsula would have forced strong
action upon her. The East India Company was wise not to have become
involved.

The texts 1

Letter no. 3

หน"'งสือทานพญาสุรีนทราชาพญาพม0ลอยไใหไวแกกบ1ต'นบ"งเกน ดวยกบตํ'นบ"งเกนบ่นทุกปีนชาดตุรหม*'ด

3

มาจำหนายณเมิองถลาง ศรีรอยเกาสืบบอกคดหํกบอกตอภารา เปนดีบุก แปดสืบเอจกราหา

แผนสามบาดสลง แลใดร"'บเอาบนชาตุรหม"'ดศริรอยเกาสืบบอกไวแลว แลดีบุกน"'นฝายกบต"'นบ*งเกนวาจ'

4

ไปยเมิองมลากากอรจรีงจ่กลํบมารํบเอาดีบุก ถากบต"'นปงเกนกลํบมาแตฌิองม,ล่ากาแลว จงจ'สํงดี

บุกคาบนไหตามหน"'งสือส"'รญาซึงทำใหนี นีตราไหใวณว"'รรองคารเติอนเกาเซึนสองคำศ"'กรายพ่นรอยสาม
สืบเกนเรกานพศก

No. 26
6

กฎหมายไหแกก'บต"'นม"'งกูดvวยก'บตํนเหลกใหก'บตํนม่งกูอยูรํบดิบุก ในจำนวรพระราช่ทานก'บต*,นเหลก

ไปยเปนทุนรอยภารา คำบนเการอยณูอสืบทํกบอก รอยภารา แลวใหกะบต"'นม"'งกูคุมเอาบนเการอย
ณูอสืบหํกบอก เฃาไปยสํงณ'กรุงเทพม'หาณ'คอร และปตน กบต"'นม*งกูนีนำไจย ร'บเอาบนแลพ่รรผาแพร
ซึงข'ไหล‘'วงกรํมการจ'ตซึอเฃามาส์งดวยเปนบนชาดเจะร่ม"'ด เการอยบอกเฃํ้าท'นก'บบนชาดสุต'นเการอย
ญิอสืบทํกบอกเปนบนพ่นแปดรอยณูอสืบหํกบอก ก*'บพ่รร่ผาแลแพร ๑๓๖ พ่นใดสิงไหกบต'นม'งกูบ,น

ทุกกำบนเฃามาสิงกรุงเทพมหาณ่คอร แลดีบุกคา ■HL ซึงฃไหลวงกรํมการซึอท่งนี ใดจ'ตติบุก คา JSj1"1
’ ’บน 'ปน

ไหแกเจรผาเจาบน ณ่เมิองถ'ลางตามร''ดราย ราคาอยูแลว ก0ฎหมายไหไวยณว'นศุกเดีอนแปดทุติยสาดขน

เจดคำบรกานพศก

No. 37 (major extract)

หน"งสือทารผูญืง มาเถงลาโตกดวยนีหน0งสือไปยนํนใดแจงแลว คร่นจเอา หน"งสือเรียรแกพญาถลางๆ
บวยหนไาอยู แลซึงวามาค1 2 3 4 * 6าขายณํเมึองถลางฃาดทุนหน"กหนำชานารแลว นนเหนทุระของลาโตกอยู

1 In the late eighteenth century orthography was still unfixed. Variants from the modern
convention are noted here only in cases of lexical confusion or of special interest. The writer,
while accepting full responsibility for errors and inadequacies in the readings and translation,
wishes to express his thanks to Mme Chaluay Vudha for her valuable assistance in these matters
and to Dr. Vichintana (Chantavibulya) Panupong for information on southern dialect.

2 For บน

3 Southern Thai; cf. Central Thai ะ กระบอก.

4 For จึง ; the form จึง also occurs in line 4.

B The combination of archaic and modern forms is interesting.

6 For จดหมาย. 7 For คำ.

8 ญ for ย (ญิอ for fj) with implication of /p/ for /y/, a Southern Thai feature.


616

E. H. ร. SIMMONDS

แตบิากว็าลาโตก เม0ดตา เหนดูฃา เจาจง เปลืองทุน เปนอ'นมากทํนระ มารอยู ดวยความเหนดู แล1ขืงวา
แตงทำบนแล9วจํลากล'บไปย แลมิราวข่าววาพํม9าจ0มาตเทีองถ'ลาง ทารพญาถลางเจ9บหน'กอยู ถาพํมา
ญํกมาจึงฃนจาจใดพงลาโตกเปนหล'กทีอณ0ดตอไปย แลซืงวาจ0เอาดืบุกคาผานํ'นทารพญาถลางญํง เจ1บ

5

หนํกมิ1ใดปรืกษา วากลาวกอร ถาทารพญาถลางคลายบวยแล9วจํใดปรืกษาวากลาวจุด [?] เตีอนให______

อํนงค0นซืงร'กษาบานฝาวคายนันฃํดสํนด9วยหญาผนพอจกืนใหลาโตกชวํยวาทํบตํนอีกสะกํดให ๆ หญา

ผืนขืนมาศกเก9าะแทนสืบแทน แล9วถาพอลาโตกจขืนมาใดใหขืนมาศ'กทีอ ทน'งสือมาณวน ๓ ฯ®
คำบมแสงสํพศก

No. 23 (extract)

... ฯฃ9าฯจเอาพระกุนทานเปนทีพงสืบไปย และบํดนิสินบุนเจากุนแล9ว ฯฃาฯ ใหมทีทีอเหนหนาไครย
เหนแตหนาพระกุนทานเสทีอรตวเจากุน....

No. 46 (extract)

... คร่นมา เถิงปากพระคํน1ขืนมา แต เทีองต่ก'วปาบอกวาบาน เมองดก'วบารูกราพมาทำ วูนวายอยูจิง

กล'บลงไปตก'วปาจ'ดแจงบานเรือนแล9วจกล'บมาใหพํบทานพญาราชกบ1ต'น-------

No. 30 (extract)

หนํงสอทานเจาพญาสุรืนท'ราชา ผูสำเรฎราช'การเทีองถ'ลางบางคลท'งแปดห9,วเมอง มาเสืงพญาราชก'บ
ตํนดวยพ'บิไย0กกองทิพมาตเทีองถล่างครํงน เดชะพรบอรํมโพทธิสํมภารสํมเดจพระเจาอย ห,วบกเกลา
บกกระหมอม แลท'แกล9วท'หารชาวเทีองถล่างใดรํพพุงตานตอดวยพ'ม9ารํงราก‘นอยูเสืงประมาร'เดอนนง
ฝายพ'ม9าลํมตายเจบปวยลํงประมาร่ “0๐ ค0นพ'มาย0กเสืกแตกไปแตณ่ว'น ๒ฯ๔ คำบม่เสํงสํพศกนํ้น

No. 30 (extract continues to complete text of letter)

แตบํตนฝายชาว เทีองต'ก9วฑุงบางคสิเปน เทีองเชิงทรํงบานเริอน เริยรายกนอยู พ'มาเผาเข9าเสืยเปน

อ'นมากเฃาข'ดสํนเหนไมภ่1อเสิยงบานเทีองไปจํนจใดเฃาไน ^รช ไหพญาราชก'บตํนเหนแกการแผน

“ I 12 “ 0 นา " J 0

ดนพระเจาอยูหว สืบไป ใหชวยจ‘ตแจงนายเรอแลสลุพลูกคาบินทุกสินคาแลเฃามาจำหนาย ณแขวง
เมองต'ต'วทุงบางคล แตกอจ'ใดเจึอจายไปแกราษฎรๆ จใดทำไรยนาสิบไป คร'นบตราตำแนงทีอซืง
เค่ยบดไปมาแตกอร มิใดเอามา เอาตรารูปค0นบดมาเปนสำค่รร หน0งสือมาณ'ว'น ๔'3ฯ ๕ คำบมเทียอ'ฎศก

1 ร Thai, cf. CT เอ็นดู

2 For ที. 3 For ข่าว.

4 ญู for ย, see p. 615, ท. 8 ; four examples in this letter.

5 A ST variant.

6 (For เกา) this spelling has the implication of glottal closure with vowel shortening, a ST
feature in this environment.

7 A ST variant; Pallegoix has แทํง ะ ‘ pastillus ’, op. cit., 806. See p. 598, ท. 5.

8 For ไป.

9 For บิว. In certain letters there is some free variation in the use of 97 and ^ in relation
to function.

10 For ไดขาว-

11 For ใ'บิ,.

12 For สบ่.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

617

No. 45 (major extract)

หนํงสือทานผูหญงจำมรืนมาญํงทานพญาราชกบ1ตนเหล่1กใหแจ9ง ดวยถืหนังสือฝากใหแกนายเรือต'หนำว
ถือมาเถืงเปนไจยความวาเถือทารอยูณ'เถืองม'งลารูซาวไปยวาพ'มาญ0กมาตียเถืองถ'ลวงจ'ใดเถืองถ'ลวง
ปรก'ารได3,ย และตูฃาลูกเตานังบวงจ'ใดไปดวยฤๅปรการไดยมิใดแจง ตัอทานมาแางเถืองไซยรูไปวาเถืองถ
ล่างใหนํเสืยแกพ'มาแลตูฃาลูกเตาท'งบวงอยูตีตีนตียคอยวางไจลํงไนยหนังสือมเถือความเปนหลายบ่1รการ
นัน ขอบไจยเปนนักหนัาพระคุนหาทิยสุทถืใด9,แลอยูทุกว'นถืณ'เถืองถล่างพ'มาตียบานเถืองเปนจุหลาจ0น

คํษเซาปลาอาหานเปนนักหนำ ตูซาญ0กํมาต''งท0าดบุกอยูณ'ต'บา ไดตีบุกบางเลกนอยเอาซือเซาแพ'งใดเทา
ไดยซือสินเทานัน แลวอ'นงเถือพ'มาญ0กมานํ้น พญาธร!ไตรยโลกใหเก1 * 3 4 * 6าะเอาต3,อดูฃาลํงไปไวณ'ปากพระ

คร'นพ'มาญ0กมาตียปากพระไล่ กล"บแล่นชินมาณ'บานแลคํน'ซึงใหร้กษาบานเรือนอยูนํนแลนทุมบาน
เรือนเถืย เซาซองท',งปวงเปนอ'นณ'รายถืคํนเก'บรืบเอาไปยถืน แลอยูทุกว'นณญากจํนฃํดสํนเปนนัก

แจงมาวาทานมาต'งบานเถืองอยูณ'เก3าะปูเหล่าบิ1หนังนัน แลตูซาคอยญินตีเปนน'กหนา มาดเถืงพม่าจ'
ญ0กมาตียเถืองถล่างเล่านัน แตกอรทานอผูณ'เถืองม'งฆ'ลาๆนับเถืองถล่างหํนทางรญ่ะไกลนันกานนักจ'

ไปมา1ข0ดสํน นัดถืทานมาต'งอยูเกาะปูเหล่าบหนังแลว ใกลนับเถืองถล่าง แลทานนับทานผูตายใดเคย

เปนถืศนันมาแตก3อน เหนวาจ'ใดพล่อยพึงบุนรอดชิวิตเพราะล่ตีบนญาของทานสืบไป________หนังสอมา

นัแพระนัดเตีอนสบเอจบม'เถืยอ'ฎ'ศก

No. 12

หนังถือทานออกพระภ0ลนักตีศรืพึไชยสํงครามบอกมาญ0งทานพญาราชกบ1ต''นใหแจง ดอยราษฎรนัว

เถืองถล่างอํดเขาทรอดโทรลํงเปนนันมากอยูแลว ถาทานพญาราชกบต'นจเหนดูขาพเจาแลราษฎรชาว

เถืองนัน ใดIเตงใหกบ1ต0นสหลาดนันทุกเขาสารนักสองพ0นสามพ'นกุหถื เอามาจำหนายราษฎรภํลเมอง
จรอดจากความตายดวยบุญทานพญาราช' อถืงซืงทานใช้ใหก'บต'นสิถืเอากำบนมาคาขายเถืองถล่างนัน
กบ1ต'นสิตีมิรูจ‘กราษฎรก'น จซอขายนันขดสํนอยูฃ่ อบอกปรานีบดมาว'นอาทิด เดอรสิบ เอ3จขืน เกาคำบ

มเถืยอ'ฎศ๊ก

No. 18

หนังสอฃาพเจาเถืองภูเกจผูเปนพญาทุกราชใหมาญ'งทารพญาราชกบตน ดวยทารพญาราชนับต'น

ใหกบนันลนทุกเซาสารมาจำหน3าย ใหแกเจากุนมานดาบางนันคุนของทานพญาราชอยู แกซาพอเจามาก
หาถือสุดมิใดอยูแล3วๆซาพ'เจาเซาไปยเฝาของหล3วง ณ'เถืองสงฃล3าคร‘งนิไปยโดยข'ดล่นหาถืของ ซืงจ่

เอาไปยถว3ายเปนอ'นมากในัม ฯขฯใดแตตีนอํหรํบไปยถว้ายทิบหถืง นับบนสุตํ้นแปดบอก แล่วขาพ'
เจาอ'ดษากราบทูนล่วยเงีนหล่วงซืงคางอยูแกเจากุนผูตายแลภาศรืตีบุก ซืงใหเรืยกกราช‘งน'นกโปรด

ใหซือฃาย เหมถืนแตกอรจีงถืร'บนัง วาแกซาพ'เจาว3าให ฯ'ซาฯเปนพญาทุกราช ออกไปยกอนเทิด
เซามาครงหล'งจงจ'ใหเปนพญาถลางออกไปย น'นไนยของหล่วงว'งหบ3าเหนตู ฯข3าฯ เปนอ'นมากอยู

1 For ตก”วบๅ ? But see above p. 602, ท. 3.

■ ST for CT ทํ้ง.

3 For ยินตี. fU for ย ะ three examples in this letter ; also ฌํง for นัเ in letters 12 and 18.

4 For ช้ๅว.

6 For ทุกขราษฎร.

6 For ถืๅย.


618

E. H. ร. aiMMONDS

แลณ’เดือนสามคางแรม ฯน้าฯก'บเจาคุนมานดาจ'เฃาไปยเฝาของหน้วงถ]กรุงฯ แลช่ไปยทางเกาตะลิโบง
ใหโตกพญาทารซวยเน้นดู จ'ดเรือ,ไหญยใหมารบสักลำ จ,ใดใหเจากุนมานดาขอไปย แสกตว ฯน้าฯจไปย

กราบเทาโตกพญาทารใหเดืงถ]เก9า เหลำบหน่ง ใหโตกพญาทารชวยจดบนแลของจ่ใดเอาไปยถวาย

1

พร้อกบุนของโตกพญาทาร ฯน้าฯค่จ'ใดเปนไหญํยต่อไปย แลอหนึงณ'เมืองถลาง ทุกวํนน ฯ1ลำฯกบ
เจาพญาถลาง กอวีวาดก่นหาปกก'ดืยกํนโหม แล ฯน้าฯแตงโหนายเพ'ชนายทองแกวนายทดพร'ม

มากราบเทาโตกทารบอกใหรูน้าวพน้างกอน ใหโตกพญาทารช็วยจ่ดบนน่อยหยางดื ฯน้าฯจ'ถือญิงเอง

ใหมาดวย ศ0กบอกนืง แลวถา ฯน้าฯเน้าไปยบางเกาะครํงมื เจานายโปรดส่มความคดออกมา เถืงมาดวา
โตกทารจ'ตองการดืบุกเมืองถลางมากนอยเทาไดย ฯน้าฯ โหมใหขพนปรานสัดมาณว'น ๒ฯ [?] คำบ
มเมืยอ'ฎศก

No. 17 (major extract)

หสังสอเจาพญาถลำง มาเถืงพญาราชกํบตํน ดวยเปนหยำงพำเนยม ถานายสลุบคำบนเอาสนคา
เขามาจำหนาย เจาเมืยงกร0มสารแลลูกคาผูไหญยวาราคาล0งกํนแลว เจาเมืองกร0มการแลลูกคาผูไหญย

จ่ดซือเอาไปยจำหนายแกราษฎรโดกำไมรย,ภาศรเล'กนอยจิงค'าฃํ้ายใด้ พญาราชmVนอยูณํเมืองถ'ลำงก0
แจงอยูแลว แลพญาราชกบต'น แตงใหกบ1ต'นวิราเสน เอาหยาผิ1น เฃำสาร เงนไปยจำหนายณ เมิองถ'ลำง

ครํงมื วาราคาหยาผิ1นก'บเจาเมืองกร0มการบบละห0กภารา เจาเมิองกรํมการจ'ดซือเอาเวีนหยาผนผาโวแลว
กํบต่นวีรา เสน เอา หยา ผิ1นเวีนผา ออ กฃาย ปลก แกรา ษฎรถูก กวา ราคา ฃาย เจา เมืองกรํมการ แลลูกคาผู
ไหญย ๆ ซึงร'บซือโวมากฃ็ๅยขาดทุน พำใหเถืยหยำงท0าเมืยมแผนดินไปยชํมื คร'นจํวากลาวตามกฎหมาย
สำร'บ เมือง เปนความ ไกลยตา พญาราชก0บตํน ๆ จ'ว่า เจา เมืองกร0มกา รท0าขํน เหง จํงมืหนํงถือมาไห
แจงครํงนึงกอร ยาใหเถืยทางไมยตรยแกก่นถืบไปย ถาพญาราชกํบต่นมิโดกาชํบวากลำวแกนายกำบน
ใหพำถืบไปช0นอกเลา น่ายกำบนก่บกรํมการจํวีวาษแกก'นจํเคองเถึงพญาราชกบต'นจ'เถืยทางไมยตรียค่า
ฃายแกก่นถืบไปยภายหน้า ...มาณว'น ๑ ฯ ๑ คำ บมแมนพศก

No. 47 (major extract)

หน้งถือ1น้าพเจา1ขุนน้าพรํม จำเมรีนพระพอนปรานบ'ดมาเถืงท่านพญาราชกํบตํนใหแจงดวยฃรพเจาอยู

ภายหล'งท่านใดความยากอ0ดอยากสำบากเสนษาตองเน้าะจำใดความเจํบน้ายเปนอ'นมาก โดความลำบาก
เพรำะร'กท่าน แลน้ายพํน้ามาดืเมืองถลางครํงน โดรํบพุงน้วยเพีอนเถืยหำยความตำยเปนอ'นมาก แตโหม
ใดควา มชอบใด แตความลำบาก เพรำะโหควา มสํด แกท่านทาวพญากรํมการทอ เมืองถลางเฃาโหมโว
ไจยวาเปนค0นของทาน แลน้วยซึวิทน้าพเจาฃุนน้าอยูโตฝาดืนของท่านแลวๆ มิน้ายรอดน้วยความ
สดตรํงตอท่าน แลครํงมืจํเปนปรการใดยมิใดรูเหล'ย ใดแตความทุกยากเพรำะวาจ0ใครเท่นหน้าตามความ
สันยาของทานจิงพํนอยู ลาแลทานโหมคิดเอ'นลูแตน้าพเจา ฃุนทา แลความสันยาแผนดินเมืองถ'ลาง
ซึวิทน้าพเจาโวจ0ฃ่,อลาท่านไปยเถืยโหตายจากเมืองถ'ลาง — 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 For เพราะ.

2 The use of VI for ฎ is of interest.

3 For ยิงเอง.

4 Note provincial usage. The orthography represents ST pronunciation.

5 For กํๅไร ; note implication of trisyllabic pronunciation, a ST feature.

6 For จำเริญ. ST pronunciation is trisyllabic ; see no. 45, line 1.

7 For ยาก.


THE THALANG LETTERS, 1773-94

619

No. 36 (extract)

... แลขาพระเจาทุกว',นัมีใดความทุกยากอยูนักหนา แลช่าพเจาคิดเถึงพระคุ้นท่านอยูทุกเวลาราตรีย

1

ไชไคร่ยจํมาเหนทุระของขาพเจาหามิใด และพระคุนของท่านญ'’งมิอยแก'ช่าพเจาเปนอ*นมาก แลคร่น
ฃ็าพเจาจ0หาท0ดแทนพระคุ้นท่านนํ้นญ่งแขนจ0นอยู

No. 53 (extract)

2

... โตกทานใดเอนดูแกกุนมารดาด3วยเมีด ดวยทุกวํนัมีก'แกลงกวา[แต]กอร แลวก'ฃ่ดสํนใมสบาย
เหมอรแตกอร แลวแมปรางกตายเสยแล9ว โตกท่านช่วยจํดผ[าข้]าวไหมาทำบนด3วย ...

No. 42

หนังสือ เจาพญาอ'คม'หา เสนาธิบดือก'ยพิรียปรากรํมภาทุสมุหะพระก'ลาโหม มา เถึงพญาราชก'บต'น
ดวยพระบาทสํม เด์จบ่รํมบ'พืทพระพุทธ เจาอยูหํวณ'กรุง เทพพระม'หาณ'ครบอวร'รต'ณโกสืนอนธทรอ'ยุทยา
ม'หาดล0กก0พนํพ'ร'ตราชธามีบรียร0มอุด0มพระราชม'หาส่ถาร มีพระราชโองการมาร'บ่นทูลสุรศรีหะนาฎ
ตำรไๆเหมีอเกลนหมีอกระหมอมสังว่าอยูณ่เดือนสืแรมสองคำบกุญตรีณิศก พญาท'วายแตงใท่เจะสูนํ้นต'
มีดด[?]ยอน3าขํนัดุเรียงษา อ'กุนจ'เรถึสอยตองล'กแอนอรธาถึอหนังสือแท่นทองคุมดอกใบทองเรีนแล
เครีองราชบํรรนำการเขามาทูลเกท่าทูลกระหมอมถ'ว่ายพระบาทสํมเด์จพระพุทธีเจาอยูหิวพงพระบ่รํม
โภชธสํมภาร เบ่นฃาฃอบข'นท' เสมากรุงร'ตณ โกสินอนธอร่อยุทยา พระ ม'หา ณ'คอรตา มบุราถ]ราชประ เพมี

4

แตกอร แลเมีองม'ฤทนนย'งใมเขามาออร่นอมดุจมีงเมืองท1วายหามิใด เดือนสิบเปดบิ1ชวดจ'ตวาศก
จใหล0น เกลาลํน กรํมพระราชว'งบอวรสถา รม่งค0ล เส่ดจยํกท'พออก ใปดืเมีองม'ฤท แล9วจ'ย0กท'พ เรีอใป
ดืเมีองม'ตมะเมีองพ'สิม เมีองยางกุงขนใปจ0นเถึงเมีองอ'งวะกองท'พหลวงกองท'พห'วเมีองลาวหิว
เมีองฝายเหมีอท'งปวงก็จ'ยํกเขาดืเมืองเรียวเมีองหํงษา เมีองตองอูเปนลายทางจ'เสดจพระราชตำ เมีนย0ก

5

ใปทางบ0กดื เมีองม'ตะม'ขินใปบํนัจ0บก'นดื เมีองอ'งวะแลชีงจะใปกระทำการครํงมีรียพํลมาก เกนกองทิพ
เรีอเมิองไทร'ยปนทุกเขาลำเลยงใปพรอมก่นณ'เมิองถ'ท่างแตไนเดือนสืบเบดบี1ชวทจ'ตวาศก
แลพญาราชก'บด'นก'บกรุงร0ตถ]โกสืนก็ไปมาค'าฃายเปนทางไมตรีก่นมาแตกอร คร''งมีกรุงรํตณ่โกสืนจ่

ไปกระทำแกเมิองอ'งวะเปนการใหญ่ ใหพญาราชกบ1ต'นัเหนแกทางใมตรีชวยเช่าสลุบกำบนซือเฃํ้าสารบํนั

6 7

ทุก ใหใดสืรอย เกิยนหารอยเกยน แตงใหนาย'สลุบคำบนกะลาศรีค0นงานกรํม'การสัพ ไปดวยบนใหญนอย

กระสูรรดืนฝ[?]สือ เครองสาตราอา'วุทยํกใปพรอมก'บกองท0พเมีองไทรย เมีองถ'ลำงสํง เปนเส่บยงกองทํพ
ถ3าลํนเก?ทล0นกระหมอมกร0ม'พระราช'ว'งบอวรส่ถารม0งคํลมีตราออกมาไหกองท'พย0กใปประการไดยก'
ใหนาย ส่ถุบก0าบน1ของพญาราชก'บต'นย0กใปก'บกองท'พสังปวง เมีด แลคาเช่าส่ลุบคาเช่าสารเมิย

ว0ดคํนงานกรํม'การมีนจ'พระราชทาน,ใหต,ามยางทำเมียม แลส่ลุบ1ชีงใดใวณ่เมีองท่วายน1นกจ'พระราชทาน

9

ใหพญาราชก'**** มิใดชวยราช'การคร'งมี ทางใมดื**** เดืยวใดมิ*น'งสืออกมา*ฝร'งม ****

เดือนแปดฃีนหํกคำ*จ * * *

1 For 3J.

4 For สิบเอ็ด.
7 For กะลาสื.

2 For ก็นก.

6 For เกณฑ.

8 For สะเมียง.

3 For ขาๆ.

6 For modern เกรียน.
9 * ะ text defaced.






Contents of Vol XXVI, Part 3

c. c. Brown ะ Sir Richard Winstedt, K.B.E., C.M.G., D.Litt., M.A.(Oxon.),
Hon. LL.D.(Malaya), F.B.A.

A. D. H. Bivar ะ The Karri,ska dating from Surkh Kotal

John Wansbrough ะ A Mamluk ambassador to Venice in 913/1507

E. c. G. Barrett ะ Further light on Sir Richard Winstedt’s c undescribed
Malay version of the Ramayana ’

c. Hooykaas ะ Bauddha brahmins in Bali

Eugenie J. a, Henderson ะ Notes on Teizang, a northern Chin dialect

Hla Pe, Anna j. Allott, and John Okell ะ Three £ immortal ’ Burmese
songs

H. L. Shorto ะ The 32 myos in the medieval Mon kingdom

E. H. ร. Simmonds ะ The Thalang letters, 1773-94 ะ political aspects and the
trade in arms

G. B. Milner ะ Liquid consonants and the relationship of Polynesian to
Austronesian languages

J. E. Buse ะ Rarotongan sentence structures

V. L. Menage : Musa Celebi’s nishan of 815/1412