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Yesterdate: This day from Kolkata’s past, May 20, 1854

Mutty Lall Seal passed away on this day at the age of 62

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya | Published 20.05.23, 04:27 AM
Mutty Lall Seal

Mutty Lall Seal

Mutty Lall Seal, described as the “richest and most virtuous Baboo”, passed away on this day. He was 62.

Seal was as extraordinary a businessman as a philanthropist. His generosity was legendary.


He was born in the suvarnabanik community. He began as a bottle and cork dealer for a beer importer. He became a supplier to military officials at Fort William and eventually a speculator in the Indigo market in Kolkata.

He was a spectacular success as a speculator and also as a “banian” (intermediary between European and Indian businessmen) and was appointed as a banian in leading Kolkata agency houses. He made a fortune from commissions from the indigo, sugar, rice, salt-petre, silk and opium trades. He brought several properties in Kolkata and other places in Bengal.

He was among those who saw the advantage of steam navigation, like Dwarkanath Tagore, and pioneered its use. He bought a steam tug and owned several ships.

He was a member of the Agro-Horticultural Society and a tea pioneer, founder-director of Assam Company Limited. He encouraged Oriental Life Insurance Company to underwrite insurance for the benefits of the Indians.

In 1840, he donated Rs 1 lakh for the education of students of Medical College. He donated the same amount to set up a facility for pregnant women. He set up establishments where free meals were distributed. He promised to pay Rs 1000 to any widow who would remarry and raised his voice against the sati practice.

He built a Kolkata landmark: Mutty Lall Seal’s Free College in Central Avenue. He built the imposing Mutty Lall Seal Ghat next to the Armenian Launch Ghat.

He had famously criticised the Dharma Sabha members, asking them to be generous towards the poor.

Last updated on 20.05.23, 04:27 AM

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