A previous blog of mine (see link), in tracing Vizag's history, mentions that European traders referred to the coast between the Godavari and Puri as Gingerlee. I kept wondering where in the world that word came from. Some light crept into my sleepy brain last night as I looked through the Hobson-Jobson dictionary. The book says the word possibly originated from the Portuguese word for sesame seeds “Gergelim”; the English too called the sesame seed oil gingelly oil.
Hobson-Jobson says: “The following quotations show that Gingerlee or Gergelin was a name for part of the E. coast of India, and Mr. Whiteway conjectures that it was so called because the oil was produced there.
“1680-81 – ‘The form of the pass given to ships and vessels, and Register of Passes given (18 in all), bound to Jafnapatam, Manilla, Mocha, Gingerlee, Tenasserim, & c.’ Fort St. Geo. Cons. Notes and Exts., App. No. iii. P.47
“1701 – The Carte Marine depuis Suratte jusq’au Detroit de Malaca, par le R. Pere P.P. Tachard, shows the coast tract between Vesagapatam and Iagrenate as Gergelin.
“1753 – ‘Some authors give the Coast between the points of Devi and Gaudaweri, the name of the Coast of Gergelin. The Portuguese give the name of Gergelim to the plant which the Indians call Ellu, from which they extract a kind of oil.” – D’Anville, 134.
“(Mr. Pringle [Diary Fort St. Geo. 1st ser. iii. 170] identifies the Gingerly Factory with Vizagapatam).”
Thomas Bowrey -- "A geographical account of countries round the Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679")
Henry Yule, A.C. Burnell, and William Crooke – “Hobson-Jobson – A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases”