Treaties relating to Burma

Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

Treaties and Agreements relating to Burma

Trade Agreement between the East India Company and the King of Ava, September 1795

TRANSLATION of the ROYAL MANDATE, accompanying the letter to the GOVERNOR-GENERAL, dated [day omitted in original] September 1795.

To all Killadars and Governors of Ports, in like virtue to the Maywoon of Henzawuddy.

The source of greatness and dignity celestial, whose threshold is as the firmament went, and whose suppliants, when he places the Golden Foot of Majesty on their fortunate heads, like the blooming water-lily, are inspired with confidence unbounded, such are the ministers of exalted rank, the guardians of the Empire from among whom the high and transcendent Minister proclaims these orders :-

Governor of Henzawuddy, whose title is Meen La Noo Retha, Governor the Waters, whose title is Yaa oon or Rawoon; Collector of the King’s Revenues whose title is Ackawoon; Collector of Customs, whose title is Ackoon; Commander of the Troops, whose title is Chekaw.

1. Whereas English merchants resort to the port of Rangoon to carry on trade, in friendship, good faith, and confidence in the Royal protection, therefore when merchants come to the port of Rangoon, duties for godown, rabeat (searchers appraisers) and other charges, all these shall be regulated according to the former established rates, and no more, on any pretence, shall be taken.

2. All English merchants, who have paid the Port Duties, shall be allow to go to whatever part of the country they think fit, having obtained a certifies and order from the Maywoon, or Governor of the Province, and whatever goods English merchants wish to purchase in return, they shall not be impeded or molested, or prevented in their barter, bargain, or purchase ; and if it should be judged expedient to establish any person, on the part of the English Company at Rangoon, for the purpose of trade, and to forward letters or presents to the King, to such person a right of residency is granted.

3. If any English merchant is aggrieved, or thinks he suffers oppression, he may complain either to the Governor of the Province, by petition to the Throne, or prefer his complaint in person; and as Englishmen are, for the most part, unacquainted with the Birman tongue, they may employ whatever interpreters they think fit, previously acquainting the King’s interpreters what person they mean to employ.

4. English ships driven into any Birman port by stress of weather, and in want of repairs, on due notice of their distress being given to the Officers of Government such vessels shall be expeditiously supplied with workmen, timber, iron, and every requisite, and the work shall be done, and the supplies granted, at the current rates of the country.

5. As the English have long had commercial connexions with this Nation, and are desirous of extending them, they are to be allowed to come and depart at their pleasure, without hinderance: and seeing that the illustrious Governor-General of Calcutta, in Bengal, on the part of the King of England, has sent tokens of friendship to the Golden Feet, these orders are therefore issued for the benefit, ease, and protection of the English people.

The original in Birman, authenticated by the great Seal.


Agent at the Court of Ava.

Account of Duties paid by ships on anchoring at Rangoon, agreeable to former Regulations, as follows:

Government Duties.

A piece of flowered cloth.

A piece of madrepauk.

One handkerchief to tie up the aforesaid articles.

To the person who carries the aforesaid pieces of cloth, eighteen cubits of common cloth, a red cotton handkerchief, and two and a half takals in money.

When a ship arrives, the following Duties are usually paid to the Members of the Provincial Government:

Maywoon . . Flowered cloth, one piece.
Madrepauk, two do.

Rawoon . . . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

Ackoon . . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

Shawbundpr, or Ackawoon . . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

Deputy to the Shawbunder . . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

Chockey . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

1st Nakhaun . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

2nd Nakhaun . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

1st Siredogee . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

2nd Siredogee . Flowered cloth, one do.
Madrepauk, two do.

When a ship leaves the port, it is customary to make presents to the Members of the Provincial Government, as follows : two pieces of silee to each of the before-mentioned Members of Government, that is, twenty-four in all.

It being customary for ships, on their arrival and departure, to give as perquisites to the Members of Government, cloth, flowered, figured, and plain, and madrepauk or silee, such articles varying in their price, being sometimes dear and sometimes cheap, the amount therefore being liable to vary, it is established that a ship, in lieu of such presents, shall pay altogether, for entrance and departure five viss of fine Silver called Rowna.

Each ship shall pay for the Linguists eighty takals.

For the Chokeydars, who are stationed at the ghaut, or sent on board the ship thirty-five takals.

For peons, who carry intelligence, five takals.

For the person who accompanies the ship down to the Chokey, ten takals.

Writers and Chokeydars of the godowns, ten takals.

Gate Porter of the Fort, ten takals.

The Chokey called Denouckand, the Chokey where lights are kept, for both ten takals.

To the Writer, for a pass to clear the Chokeys on departure, five takals.

The accountant of Government, fifteen takals.

Pilotage.-A ship of three masts, two hundred takals; a vessel of two masts, one hundred and fifty takals; a vessel of one mast, one hundred takals.

Anchorage.-A ship of three masts, thirty takals; a vessel of two masts, twenty takals; a vessel of one mast, ten takals.

It is the custom on all goads that are imported to take one out of ten, or ten out of an hundred, King’s Duty; likewise the owner of the ship gives five out of the first bale which he brings on shore, and each person who comes in a ship as a Merchant, and not belonging to the ship, shall give one piece.

To the Appraisers and Examiners one and a half out of each hundred.

The Stamper of Cloth, if he stamps three hundred and sixty pieces, he is entitled to one piece.

The Writer or Accountant, who attends on board for registering five hundred pieces, he is to receive one piece.

When a ship is about to depart, an Officer of Government goes on board to examine and despatch her : such officer shall receive seven viss of sugar, a hundred and forty China plates.

Ships resorting from every quarter to the Ports of His Birman Majesty, Duties neither more nor less are to be received or exacted, and on this head the orders of His Majesty have been issued. The account is authenticated, and the particulars specified ; nevertheless, in consideration of the friendship that with the English, henceforth whatsoever ships are bona fide English proper, the Port Duties and exactions from such ships, both at coming and departing be paid at the Port of Rangoon, in silver of twenty-five per cent. standard, to the Birman language Mowadzoo, or twenty-five per cent. silver.

The original annexed to the Viceroy’s letter to the Governor-General.


Agent to the Covert of Ava.

Treaty of Yandaboo, 24 February 1826

TREATY of PEACE between the HONORABLE EAST INDIA COMPANY on the one part, and HIS MAJESTY the KING of AVA on the other, settled MAJOR-GENERAL SIR ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, K.C.B., and K.C.T.S., COMMANDING the EXPEDITION, and SENIOR COMMISSIONER in PEGU and AVA; THOMAS CAMPBELL ROBERTSON, ESQ., CIVIL COMMISSIONER in PEGU and AVA; and HENRY DUCIE CHAD, ESQ., CAPTAIN, COMMANDING BRITANNIC MAJESTY’S and the HONORABLE COMPANY’S NAVAL FORCE the IRRAWADDY RIVER, on the part of the Honorable Company; and by MENGYEE-MAHA-MEN-KYAN-TEN WOONGYEE, LORD of LAYKAING, and MENGYEE-MARA-HLAH-THUO-HAH-THOO-ATWEN-WOON, LORD of the REVENUE, on the part of the King of Ava; who have each communicated to the other their full powers, agreed to and executed at Yandaboo in the Kingdom of Ava, on this Twenty-fourth day of February, in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-six, corresponding with the Fourth day of the decrease of the Moon Taboung, in the year One Thousand One Hundred and Eighty-seven Gaudma Era, 1826.


There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between the Honorable Company on the one part, and His Majesty the King of Ava on the other.


His Majesty the King of Ava renounces all claims upon, and will abstain from all future interference with, the principality of Assam and its dependencies, and also with the contiguous petty States of Cachar and Jyntia. With regard to Munnipoor it is stipulated, that should Ghumbheer Sing desire to return to that country, he shall be recognized by the King of Ava as Rajah thereof.


To prevent all future disputes respecting the boundary line between the two great Nations, the British Government will retain the conquered Provinces of Arracan, including the four divisions of Arracan, Ramree, Cheduba, and Sandoway, and His Majesty the King of Ava cedes all right thereto. The Unnoupectoumien or Arakan Mountains (known in Arakan by the name of the Yeomatoung or Pokhingloung Range) will henceforth form the boundary between the two great Nations on that side. Any doubts regarding the said line of demarcation will be settled by Commissioners appointed by the respective governments fur that purpose, such Commissioners from both powers to be of suitable and corresponding rank.


His Majesty the King of Ava cedes to the British Government the conquered Provinces of Yeh, Tavoy, and Mergui and Tenasserim, with the islands and dependencies thereunto appertaining, taking the Salween River as the line of demarcation on that frontier ; any doubts regarding their boundaries will be settled as specified in the concluding part of Article third.


In proof of the sincere disposition of the Burmese Government to maintain the relations of peace and amity between the Nations, and as part indemnification to the British Government for the expenses of the War, His Majesty the King of Ava agrees to pay the sum of one crore of Rupees.


No person whatever, whether native or foreign, is hereafter to be molested by either party, on account of the part which he map have taken or have been compelled to take in the present war.


In order to cultivate and improve the relations of amity and peace hereby established between the two governments, it is agreed that accredited ministers, retaining an escort or safeguard of fifty men, from each shall reside at the Durbar of the other, who shall be permitted to purchase, or to build a suitable place of residence, of permanent materials ; and a Commercial Treaty, upon principles of reciprocal advantage, will be entered into by the two high contracting powers.


All public and private debts contracted by either government, or by the subjects of either government, with the others previous to the war, to be recognized and liquidated upon the same principles of honor and good faith as if hostilities had not taken place between the two Nations, and no advantage shall be taken by either party of the period that may have elapsed since the debts were incurred, or in consequence of the war ; and according to the universal law of Nations, it is further stipulated, that the property of all British subjects who may die in the dominions of His Majesty the King of Ava., shall, in the absence of legal heirs, be placed in the hands of the British Resident or Consul in the said dominions, who will dispose of the same according to the tenor of the British law. In like manner the property of Burmese subjects dying under the same circumstances, in and part of the British dominions, shall be made over to the minister or other authority delegated by His Burmese Majesty to the Supreme Government of India.


The Kink of Ava will abolish all exactions upon British ships or vessels in Burman ports, that are not required from Burmah ships or vessels in British port nor shall ships or vessels, the property of British subjects, whether European or Indian, entering the Rangoon River or other Burman ports, be required to land their guns, or unship their rudders, or to do any other act not required of Burmese ships or vessels in British ports.


The good and faithful Ally of the British Government, His Majesty the King of Siam, having taken a part in the present War, will, to the fullest extent, as far as regards His Majesty and his subjects, be included in the above Treaty.


This Treaty to be ratified by the Burmese authorities competent in the like cases, and the Ratification to be accompanied by all British, whether Europe or Native, American, and other prisoners, who will be delivered over to the British Commissioners ; the British Commissioners on their part engaging that the said Treaty shall be ratified by the Right Honorable the Governor-General in Council ,and the Ratification shall be delivered to His Majesty the King of Ava in four months, or sooner if possible, and all the Burmese prisoners shall, in like manner be delivered over to their own Government as soon as they arrive from Bengal.




Civil Commissioner.



Captain, Royal Navy.




The British Commissioners being most anxiously desirous to manifest the sincerity of their wish for peace, and to make the immediate execution of the fifth Article of this Treaty as little irksome or inconvenient as possible to His Majesty the King of Ava, consent to the following arrangements, with respect to the division of the sum total, as specified in the Article before referred to, into instalments, viz., upon the payment of twenty-five lacks of Rupees, or one-fourth of the sum total (the other Articles of the Treaty being executed), the Army will retire to Rangoon. Upon the further payment of a similar sum at that place within one hundred days from this date, with the proviso as above, the Army will evacuate the dominions of His Majesty the King of Ava with the least possible delay, leaving the remaining moiety of the sum total to be paid by equal annual instalments in two years, from this Twenty-fourth day of February 1826 A.D., through the Consul or Resident in Ava or Pegu, on the part of the Honorable the East India Company.




Civil Commissioner.



Captain, Royal Navy.



Ratified by the Governor-General in Council, at Fort William in Bengal, this Eleventh day of April, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-six.





Commercial Treaty between the East India Company and the King of Ava, 23 November 1826

A Commercial Treaty, signed and sealed at the Golden City of Rata-na-pura, on the 23rd of November 1826, according to the English, and the 9th of the decrease of the Moon Tan-soung-mong 1188, according to the Burmans, by the Envoy Crawfurd, appointed by the English Ruler the Company’s Buren, who governs India, and the Commissioners, the Atwenwun Mengyi-thi-ra-maha-nanda-then, Lord of Sau, and the Atwenwun Mengyi-Maha-men-lha-thi-ha-thu, Lord of the Revenue, appointed by His Majesty the Burmese rising Sun Buren reigns over Thu-na-pa-ran-ta-Tam-pa-di-pa; and many other great countries.

According to the Treaty of Peace between the two great Nations made at Yandaboo, in order to promote the prosperity of both countries, and with a desire to assist and protect the trade of both, the Commissioner and Envoy Crawford appointed by the English Company’s Buren, who rules India, and the Coy sinners, the Atwenwun Mengyi-thi-ra-maha-nanda-then Kyan, Lord of Sau the Atwenwun Maha-men-lha-thi-ha-thu, Lord of the Revenue, appointed by His Majesty the Burmese rising Sun Buren, who rules over Thu-na-pa-ra-Tam-pa-di-pa, and many other great countries: these three in the conference to the landing place of Ze-ya-pu-ra, north of the Golden City of Rata-na-pura mutual consent completed this Engagement.


Peace being made between the great country governed by the English Prince the India Company Buren, and the great country of Rata-na-pura, which over Thu-na-pa-ra-Tam-pa-di-pa, and many other great countries, when mere with an English stamped pass from the country of the English Prince and merchants from the kingdom of Burmah pass from one country to the other, selling and buying merchandize, the sentinels at the passes and entrances, the established gatekeepers of the country, shall make inquiry as usual, but without demanding money, and all merchants coming truly for the purpose of trade; with merchandize, shall be suffered to pass without hindrance or molestation. The governments of both countries also shall permit ships with cargoes to enter ports and carry on trade, giving them the utmost protection and security : and in regard to Duties, there shall none be taken beside the customary Duties at the landing places of trade.


Ships whose breadth of beam on the inside (opening of the hold) is eight Royal Burman cubits of 19 1/10 English inches each, and all ships of smaller size, whether merchants from the Burmese country entering an English port under the Burmese flag, of merchants from the English country with an English stamped pass entering a Burmese port under the English flag, shall be subject to no other demands beside the payment of Duties, and ten takals 25 per cent. (10 sicca Rupees) for a chokey pass on leaving. Nor shall pilotage be demanded, unless the Captain voluntarily requires a pilot. However, when ships arrive, information shall be given to the officer stationed at the entrance of the sea, in regard to vessels whose breadth of beam exceeds eight Royal Burman cubits, and remain, according to the 9th Article of the Treaty of Yandaboo, without unshipping their rudders, or landing their guns, and be tree from trouble and molestation as Burmese vessels in British ports. Besides the Royal Duties, no more duties shall be given or taken than such as are customary.


Merchants belonging to one, who go to the other country and remain there, shall, when they desire to return, go to whatever place and by whatever vessel they may desire, without hindrance. Property owned by merchants, they shall be allowed to sell ; and property not sold and household furniture, they shall be allowed to take away without hindrance or incurring any expense.


English and Burmese vessels meeting with contrary winds or sustaining damage in masts, rigging, etc., or suffering shipwreck on the shore, shall, according to the laws of charity, receive assistance from the inhabitants of the towns and villages that map be near, the master of the wrecked ship paying to those that assist suitable salvage, according to the circumstances of the case ; and whatever property may remain, in case of shipwreck, shall be restored to the owner.



Lord of Sau.


Lord of the Revenue.

Ratified by the Right Honourable the Governor-General on the first day of September, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-seven A.D.


Secretary to Government.

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