1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jessore

JESSORE, a town and district of British India, in the Presidency division of Bengal. The town is on the Bhairab river, with a railway station 75 m. N.E. of Calcutta. Pop. (1901), 8054.

The District of Jessore has an area of 2925 sq. m. Pop. (1901), 1,813,155, showing a decrease of 4% in the decade. The district forms the central portion of the delta between the Hugli and the united Ganges and Brahmaputra. It is a vast alluvial plain intersected by rivers and watercourses, which in the southern portion spread out into large marshes. The northern part is verdant, with extensive groves of date-palms; villages are numerous and large; and the people are prosperous. In the central portion the population is sparse, the only part suitable for dwellings being the high land on the banks of rivers. The principal rivers are the Madhumati or Haringhata (which forms the eastern boundary of the district), with its tributaries the Nabaganga, Chitra, and Bhairab; the Kumar, Kabadak, Katki, Harihar, Bhadra and Atharabanka. Within the last century the rivers in the interior of Jessore have ceased to be true deltaic rivers; and, whereas the northern portion of the district formerly lay under water for several months every year, it is now reached only by unusual inundations. The tide reaches as far north as the latitude of Jessore town. Jessore is the centre of sugar manufacture from date palms. The exports are sugar, rice, pulse, timber, honey, shells, &c.; the imports are salt, English goods, and cloth. The district is crossed by the Eastern Bengal railway, but the chief means of communication are waterways.

British administration was completely established in the district in 1781, when the governor-general ordered the opening of a court at Murali near Jessore. Before that, however, the fiscal administration had been in the hands of the English, having been transferred to the East India company with that of the rest of Bengal in 1765. The changes in jurisdiction in Jessore have been very numerous. After many transfers and rectifications, the district was in 1863 finally constituted as it at present stands. The rajas of Jessore or Chanchra trace their origin to Bhabeswar Rai, a soldier in the army of Khan-i-Azam, an imperial general, who deprived Raja Pratapaditya, the popular hero of the Sundarbans, of several fiscal divisions, and conferred them on Bhabeswar. But Manohar Rai (1649–1705) is regarded as the principal founder of the family. The estate when he inherited it was of moderate size, but he acquired one pargana after another, until, at his death, the property was by far the largest in the neighbourhood.