SCAVENGER, s. We have been rather startled to find among the MS records of the India Office, in certain “Lists of Persons in the Service of the Right. Honble. the East India Company, in Fort St. George, and the other Places on the Coast of Choromandell,” beginning with Feby. 170½, and in the entries for that year, the following:

Fort St. David.

“5. Trevor Gaines, Land Customer and Scavenger of Cuddalore, 5th Counc1. …
“6. Edward Bawgus, Translator of Country Letters, Sen. Mercht.
“7. John Butt, Scavenger and Cornmeeter, Tevenapatam, Mercht.”
Under 1714 we find again, at Fort St. George:

Joseph Smart, Rentall General and Scavenger, 8th of Council,”
and so on, in the entries of most years down to 1761, when we have, for the last time:
Some light is thrown upon this surprising occurrence of such a term by a reference to Cowel’s Law Dictionary, or The Interpreter (published originally in 1607) new ed. of 1727, where we read:

“Scabage, Scavagium. It is otherwise called Schevage, Shewage, and Scheauwing; maybe deduced from the Saxon Seawian (Sceawian?) Ostendere, and is a kind of Toll or Custom exacted by Mayors, Sheriffs, &c., of Merchant-strangers, for Wares shewed or offered to Sale within their Precincts, which is prohibited by the Statute 19 H. 7, 8. In a Charter of Henry the Second to the City of Canterbury it is written Scewinga, and (in Mon. Ang. 2, per fol. 890 b.) Sceawing; and elsewhere I find it in Latin Tributum Ostensorium. The City of London still retains the Custom, of which in An old printed Book of the Customs of London, we read thus, Of which Custom halfen del appertaineth to the Sheriffs, and the other halfen del to the Hostys in whose Houses the Merchants been lodged; And it is to wet that Scavage is the Shew by cause that Merchanties (sic) shewn unto the Sheriffs Merchandizes, of the which Customs ought to be taken ere that ony thing thereof be sold, &c.

“Scabenger, From the Belgick Scavan, to scrape. Two of every Parish within London and the suburbs are yearly chosen into this Office, who hire men called Rakers, and carts, to cleanse the streets, and carry away the Dirt and Filth thereof, mentioned in 14 Car. 2, cap. 2. The Germans call him a Drecksimon, from one Simon, a noted Scavenger of Marpurg.

“Schabaldus, The officer who collected the Scavage-Money, which was sometimes done with Extortion and great Oppression.” (Then quotes Hist. of Durham from Wharton, Anglia Sacra, Pt. i. p. 75; “Anno 1311. Schavaldos insurgentes in Episcopatu (Richardus episcopus) fortiter composuit. Aliqui suspendebantur, aliqui extra Episcopatum fugabantur.”)
In Spelman also (Glossarium Archaiologicum, 1688) we find:—

Scavagium.] Tributum quod a mercatoribus exigere solent nundinarum domíni, ob licentiam proponendi ibidem venditioni mercimonia, a Saxon (sceawian) id est, Ostendere, inspicere, Angl. schewage and shewage.” Spelman has no Scavenger or Scavager.

The scavage then was a tax upon goods for sale which were liable to duty, the word being, as Skeat points out, a Law French (or Low Latin?) formation from shew. [“From O.F. escauw-er, to examine, inspect. O. Sax. skawon, to behold; cognate with A.S. sceawian, to look at.” (Concise Dict. s.v.)] And the scavager or scavenger was originally the officer charged with the inspection of the goods and collection of this tax. Passages quoted below from the Liber Albus of the City of London refer to these officers, and Mr. Riley in his translation of that work (1861, p. 34) notes that they were “Officers whose duty it was originally to take custom upon the Scavage, i.e. inspection of the opening out, of imported goods. At a later date, part of their duty was to see that the streets were kept clean; and hence the modern word ‘scavenger,’ whose office corresponds with the rakyer (raker) of former times.” [The meaning and derivation of this word have been discussed in Notes & Queries, 2 ser. ix. 325; 5 ser. v. 49, 452.]
We can hardly doubt then that the office of the Coromandel scavenger of the 18th century, united as we find it with that of “Rentall General,” or of Land-customer,” and held by a senior member of the Company’s Covenanted Service, must be understood in the older sense of Visitor or Inspector of Goods subject to duties, but (till we can find more light) we should suppose rather duties of the nature of bazar tax, such as at a later date we find classed as sayer (q.v.), than customs on imports from seaward.

It still remains an obscure matter how the charge of the scavagers or scavengers came to be transferred to the oversight of streets and street-cleaning. That this must have

  By PanEris using Melati.

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