OriginsIn 1577, set out on an expedition from England to plunder Spanish settlements in South America in search of gold and silver. In the '' '' he achieved this but also sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1579, known then only to the Spanish and Portuguese. Drake eventually sailed into the and came across the , also known as the Spice Islands, and met with Babullah. In return for linen, gold and silver, a large haul of exotic spices including s and were traded – the English initially not knowing of their huge value. Drake returned to England in 1580 and became a celebrated hero; his eventual circumnavigation raised an enormous amount of money for England's s, and investors received a return of some 5000 per cent. Thus started what was an important element in the eastern design during the late sixteenth century. Soon after the defeat of the in 1588, the captured Spanish and Portuguese ships with their cargoes enabled English voyagers to potentially travel the globe in search of riches. London merchants presented a petition to for permission to sail to the . The aim was to deliver a decisive blow to the Spanish and Portuguese monopoly of Far Eastern Trade. Elizabeth granted her permission and on 10 April 1591, in the with two other ships sailed from around the to the on one of the earliest English overseas Indian expeditions. Having sailed around to the , they preyed on Spanish and Portuguese ships there before returning to England in 1594. The biggest capture that galvanised English trade was the seizure of a large Portuguese , the '' '' by and the at the Battle of Flores on 13 August 1592. When she was brought in to Dartmouth she was the largest vessel that had been seen in England and her cargo consisted of chests filled with jewels, pearls, gold, silver coins, , cloth, tapestries, , cloves, , nutmeg, (a tree that produces frankincense), red dye, and . Equally valuable was the ship's rutter (mariner's handbook) containing vital information on the , India, and Japan trades. These riches aroused the English to engage in this opulent commerce. In 1596, three more English ships sailed east but all were lost at sea. A year later however saw the arrival of , an adventurer merchant who, along with his companions, had made a remarkable fifteen-year overland journey to , the , the , India and . Fitch was then consulted on the Indian affairs and gave even more valuable information to Lancaster.
FormationOn 22 September 1599, a group of merchants met and stated their intention "to venture in the pretended voyage to the East Indies (the which it may please the Lord to prosper), and the sums that they will adventure", committing £30,133 (over £4,000,000 in today's money). Two days later, "the Adventurers" reconvened and resolved to apply to the Queen for support of the project. Although their first attempt had not been completely successful, they nonetheless sought the Queen's unofficial approval to continue. They bought ships for their venture and increased their capital to £68,373. The Adventurers convened again a year later, on 31 December, and this time they succeeded; the Queen granted a to " , and 215 s, , and Burgesses" under the name Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies. For a period of fifteen years, the charter awarded the newly formed company a monopoly on English trade with all countries east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the . Any traders in breach of the charter without a licence from the company were liable to forfeiture of their ships and cargo (half of which went to the Crown and the other half to the company), as well as imprisonment at the "royal pleasure". The governance of the company was in the hands of one governor and 24 directors or "committees", who made up the Court of Directors. They, in turn, reported to the Court of Proprietors, which appointed them. Ten committees reported to the Court of Directors. According to tradition, business was initially transacted at the Nags Head Inn, opposite St Botolph's church in , before moving to India House in .
Early voyages to the East IndiesSir James Lancaster commanded the first East India Company voyage in 1601 aboard the . After capturing a rich 1,200 ton Portuguese carrack in the s the trade from the booty enabled the voyagers to set up two " " – one at on and another in the s (Spice Islands) before leaving.Dulles (1969), p106. They returned to England in 1603 to learn of Elizabeth's death but Lancaster was knighted by the new King . By this time, the war with Spain had ended but the company had successfully and profitably breached the Spanish and Portuguese duopoly, with new horizons opened for the English. In March 1604, Sir commanded the second voyage. General , a captain during the second voyage, led the third voyage aboard the ''Red Dragon'' from 1607 to 1610 along with the ''Hector'' under Captain William Hawkins and the ''Consent'' under Captain David Middleton. Early in 1608 Alexander Sharpeigh was appointed captain of the company's ''Ascension'', and general or commander of the fourth voyage. Thereafter two ships, ''Ascension'' and ''Union'' (captained by Richard Rowles) sailed from Woolwich on 14 March 1608. This expedition would be lost. Initially, the company struggled in the because of the competition from the already well-established . The English company opened a factory in Bantam on Java on its first voyage, and imports of from Java remained an important part of the company's trade for twenty years. The Bantam factory closed in 1683. English traders frequently engaged in hostilities with their Dutch and Portuguese counterparts in the Indian Ocean. The company achieved a major victory over the Portuguese in the in 1612, at in . The company decided to explore the feasibility of gaining a territorial foothold in mainland India, with official sanction from both Britain and the , and requested that the Crown launch a diplomatic mission.The battle of Plassey ended the tax on the Indian goods.
Foothold in IndiaCompany ships docked at in in 1608. The company established its first Indian factory in 1611 at on the Andhra Coast of the ; and a second at Surat in 1613. The high profits reported by the company after landing in India initially prompted James I to grant subsidiary licences to other trading companies in England. However, in 1609 he renewed the East India Company's charter for an indefinite period, with the proviso that its privileges would be annulled if trade was unprofitable for three consecutive years. In 1612, James I instructed Sir to visit the Mughal Emperor Nur-ud-din Salim (r. 1605–1627) to arrange for a commercial treaty that would give the company exclusive rights to reside and establish factories in Surat and other areas. In return, the company offered to provide the Emperor with goods and rarities from the European market. This mission was highly successful, and Jahangir sent a letter to James through Sir Thomas Roe:
ExpansionThe company, which benefited from the imperial patronage, soon expanded its commercial trading operations. It eclipsed the Portuguese Estado da Índia, which had established bases in , , and – Portugal later ceded Bombay to England as part of the of on her marriage to King . The East India Company also launched a joint attack with the Dutch (VOC) on Portuguese and Spanish ships off the coast of China, which helped secure EIC ports in China. The company established s in (1619), (1639), Bombay (1668), and (1690). By 1647, the company had 23 factories, each under the command of a or master merchant and governor, and 90 employees in India. The major factories became the walled forts of in Bengal, in Madras, and . In 1634, the Mughal emperor extended his hospitality to the English traders to the region of , and in 1717 completely waived customs duties for their trade. The company's mainstay businesses were by then cotton, silk, , , and tea. The Dutch were aggressive competitors and had meanwhile expanded their monopoly of the spice trade in the by ousting the Portuguese in 1640–1641. With reduced Portuguese and Spanish influence in the region, the EIC and VOC entered a period of intense competition, resulting in the of the 17th and 18th centuries. Within the first two decades of the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company or ''Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie'', (VOC) was the wealthiest commercial operation in the world with 50,000 employees worldwide and a private fleet of 200 ships. It specialised in the spice trade and gave its shareholders 40% annual dividend. The British East India Company was fiercely competitive with the Dutch and French throughout the 17th and 18th centuries over spices from the . Some spices, at the time, could only be found on these islands, such as nutmeg and cloves; and they could bring profits as high as 400 percent from one voyage. The tension was so high between the Dutch and the British East Indies Trading Companies that it escalated into at least four : 1652–1654, 1665–1667, 1672–1674 and 1780–1784. Competition arose in 1635 when Charles I granted a trading licence to Sir William Courteen, which permitted the rival to trade with the east at any location in which the EIC had no presence. In an act aimed at strengthening the power of the EIC, King Charles II granted the EIC (in a series of five acts around 1670) the rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops and form alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the acquired areas. In 1689 a Mughal fleet commanded by Sidi Yaqub attacked Bombay. After a year of resistance the EIC surrendered in 1690, and the company sent envoys to Aurangzeb's camp to plead for a pardon. The company's envoys had to prostrate themselves before the emperor, pay a large indemnity, and promise better behaviour in the future. The emperor withdrew his troops, and the company subsequently re-established itself in Bombay and set up a new base in Calcutta.
Slavery 1621–1757The East India Company's archives suggest its involvement in the slave trade began in 1684, when a Captain Robert Knox was ordered to buy and transport 250 slaves from Madagascar to St. Helena. The East India Company began using and transporting slaves in Asia and the Atlantic in the early 1620s, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, or in 1621, according to Richard Allen. Eventually, the company ended the trade in 1834 after numerous legal threats from the British state and the Royal Navy in the form of the West Africa Squadron, which discovered various ships had contained evidence of the illegal trade.
JapanIn 1613, during the rule of Tokugawa Hidetada of the Tokugawa shogunate, the British ship , under the command of Captain John Saris, was the first British ship to call on Japan. Saris was the chief factor of the EIC's trading post in Java, and with the assistance of William Adams (sailor, born 1564), William Adams, a British sailor who had arrived in Japan in 1600, he was able to gain permission from the ruler to establish a commercial house in Hirado, Nagasaki, Hirado on the Japanese island of Kyushu: However, unable to obtain Japanese raw silk for import to China and with their trading area reduced to Hirado and Nagasaki from 1616 onwards, the company closed its factory in 1623.
Anglo-Mughal WarThe first of the Anglo-Indian Wars occurred in 1686 when the company conducted naval code against Shaista Khan, the governor of Mughal Bengal. This later caused the Siege of Bombay and led to the intervention of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and ultimately the English company was defeated and fined.
Mughal convoy piracy incident of 1695In September 1695, Captain Henry Every, an English pirate on board the , reached the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, where he teamed up with five other pirate captains to make an attack on the Indian fleet on return from the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The Mughal convoy included the treasure-laden ''Ganj-i-Sawai'', reported to be the greatest in the Mughal fleet and the largest ship operational in the Indian Ocean, and its escort, the ''Fateh Muhammed''. They were spotted passing the straits en route to . The pirates gave chase and caught up with ''Fateh Muhammed'' some days later, and meeting little resistance, took some £50,000 to £60,000 worth of treasure. Every continued in pursuit and managed to overhaul ''Ganj-i-Sawai'', which resisted strongly before eventually striking the colours, striking. ''Ganj-i-Sawai'' carried enormous wealth and, according to contemporary East India Company sources, was carrying a relative of the Aurangazeb, Grand Mughal, though there is no evidence to suggest that it was his daughter and her retinue. The loot from the ''Ganj-i-Sawai'' had a total value between £325,000 and £600,000, including 500,000 gold and silver pieces, and has become known as the richest ship ever taken by pirates. When the news arrived in England it caused an outcry. To appease Aurangzeb, the East India Company promised to pay all financial reparations, while Parliament of the United Kingdom, Parliament declared the pirates ''hostis humani generis'' ("enemies of the human race"). In mid-1696 the government issued a £500 bounty on Every's head and offered a free pardon to any informer who disclosed his whereabouts. When the East India Company later doubled that reward, the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history was underway. The plunder of Aurangzeb's treasure ship had serious consequences for the English East India Company. The furious Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered Sidi Yaqub and Nawab Daud Khan to attack and close four of the company's factories in India and imprison their officers, who were almost lynched by a mob of angry Mughal (tribe), Mughals, blaming them for their countryman's depredations, and threatened to put an end to all English trading in India. To appease Emperor Aurangzeb and particularly his Grand Vizier Asad Khan, Parliament exempted Every from all of the Acts of Grace (pardons) and amnesties it would subsequently issue to other pirates.
AfghanistanDuring the Great Game, the East India Company wished to control Afghanistan to prevent a Russian Empire advance through the Afghan mountains towards India, although other motivations were also cited such as fear of a religious uprising in the princely states. The British allied with Afghan emir Dost Mohammad Khan, but following the latter's contacts with the Russians and Qajar Iran, Qajar Persians to extinguish the Sikh Empire in Punjab, the company's "Army of the Indus" invaded Afghanistan to put Shah Shujah Durrani on the throne. However following the start of an Afghan insurrection, the company was 1842 retreat from Kabul, forced to retreat from Kabul in 1842 in what became one of the worst British military disasters.
Forming a complete monopoly
Trade monopolyThe prosperity that the officers of the company enjoyed allowed them to return to Britain and establish sprawling estates and businesses, and to obtain political power. The company developed a lobbying, lobby in the English parliament. Under pressure from ambitious tradesmen and former associates of the company (pejoratively termed ''Interlopers'' by the company), who wanted to establish private trading firms in India, a deregulating act was passed in 1694. This allowed any English firm to trade with India, unless specifically prohibited by act of parliament, thereby annulling the charter that had been in force for almost 100 years. When the East India Company Act 1697 (9 Will. c. 44) was passed in 1697, a new "parallel" East India Company (officially titled the ''English Company Trading to the East Indies'') was floated under a state-backed indemnity of £2 million. The powerful stockholders of the old company quickly subscribed a sum of £315,000 in the new concern, and dominated the new body. The two companies wrestled with each other for some time, both in England and in India, for a dominant share of the trade. It quickly became evident that, in practice, the original company faced scarcely any measurable competition. The companies merged in 1708, by a tripartite indenture involving both companies and the state, with the charter and agreement for the new ''United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies'' being awarded by Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin. Under this arrangement, the merged company lent to the Treasury a sum of £3,200,000, in return for exclusive privileges for the next three years, after which the situation was to be reviewed. The amalgamated company became the ''United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies''. In the following decades there was a constant battle between the company lobby and Parliament. The company sought a permanent establishment, while Parliament would not willingly allow it greater autonomy and so relinquish the opportunity to exploit the company's profits. In 1712, another act renewed the status of the company, though the debts were repaid. By 1720, 15% of British imports were from India, almost all passing through the company, which reasserted the influence of the company lobby. The licence was prolonged until 1766 by yet another act in 1730. At this time, Britain and France became bitter rivals. Frequent skirmishes between them took place for control of colonial possessions. In 1742, fearing the monetary consequences of a war, the British government agreed to extend the deadline for the licensed exclusive trade by the company in India until 1783, in return for a further loan of £1 million. Between 1756 and 1763, the Seven Years' War diverted the state's attention towards consolidation and French and Indian War, defence of its territorial possessions in Europe and its English colonization of the Americas, colonies in North America.Thomas, P. D. G. (2008)
Saltpetre tradeSir Sir John Banks, 1st Baronet, John Banks, a businessman from Kent who negotiated an agreement between the king and the company, began his career in a syndicate arranging contracts for Victualling Commissioners, victualling the navy, an interest he kept up for most of his life. He knew that Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn had amassed a substantial fortune from the Levant and Indian trades. He became a director and later, as governor of the East India Company in 1672, he arranged a contract which included a loan of £20,000 and £30,000 worth of saltpetre—also known as potassium nitrate, a primary ingredient in gunpowder—for the King "at the price it shall Candle auction, sell by the candle"—that is by auction—where bidding could continue as long as an inch-long candle remained alight. Outstanding debts were also agreed and the company permitted to export 250 tons of saltpetre. Again in 1673, Banks successfully negotiated another contract for 700 tons of saltpetre at £37,000 between the king and the company. So high was the demand from armed forces that the authorities sometimes turned a blind eye on the untaxed sales. One governor of the company was even reported as saying in 1864 that he would rather have the saltpetre made than the tax on salt.
Basis for the monopoly
Colonial monopolyThe Seven Years' War (1756–1763) resulted in the defeat of the French forces, limited French imperial ambitions, and stunted the influence of the Industrial Revolution in French territories. Robert Clive, the governor-general, led the company to a victory against Joseph François Dupleix, the commander of the French forces in India, and recaptured Fort St George from the French. The company took this respite to seize Battle of Manila (1762), Manila in 1762. By the Treaty of Paris (1763), Treaty of Paris, France regained the five establishments captured by the British during the war (Pondicherry district, Pondichéry, Mahé, India, Mahe, Karaikal, Yanam, French India, Yanam and Chandernagar) but was prevented from erecting fortifications and keeping troops in Bengal (art. XI). Elsewhere in India, the French were to remain a military threat, particularly during the War of American Independence, and up to the capture of Pondichéry in 1793 at the outset of the French Revolutionary Wars without any military presence. Although these small outposts remained French possessions for the next two hundred years, French ambitions on Indian territories were effectively laid to rest, thus eliminating a major source of economic competition for the company. The East India Company had also been granted competitive advantages over colonial American tea importers to sell tea from its colonies in Asia in American colonies. This led to the Boston Tea Party of 1773 in which protesters boarded British ships and threw the tea overboard. When protesters successfully prevented the unloading of tea in three other colonies and in Boston, Governor Thomas Hutchinson (governor), Thomas Hutchinson of the Province of Massachusetts Bay refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain. This was one of the incidents which led to the American revolution and independence of the American colonies. The company's trade monopoly with India was abolished in the Charter Act of 1813. The monopoly with China was ended in Saint Helena Act 1833, 1833, ending the trading activities of the company and rendering its activities purely administrative.
East India Company Army and NavyIn its first century and half, the EIC used a few hundred soldiers as guards. The great expansion came after 1750, when it had 3,000 regular troops. By 1763, it had 26,000; by 1778, it had 67,000. It recruited largely sepoy, Indian troops and trained them along European lines. The military arm of the East India Company quickly developed into a private corporate armed force used as an instrument of geo-political power and expansion instead of its original purpose as a guard force. Because of this, the EIC became the most powerful military force in the Indian subcontinent. As it increased in size, the army was divided into the Presidency Armies of Bengal Army, Bengal, Madras Army, Madras and Bombay Army, Bombay, each of which recruited its own infantry, cavalry, and artillery :Honourable East India Company regiments, units. The company's merchant ships, called East Indiaman were usually well armed to defend against pirates. The EIC also maintained a naval arm called the Bombay Marine; in 1830 this was renamed the Indian Navy.
Opium tradeIn the 18th century, the EIC had a trade deficit with Qing dynasty, China, little demand for the company's own manufacture in China, and a desire to reduce the flow of bullion to China. Dutch and Portuguese merchants had been profitably supplying Batavia and Canton with purchased via the Mughal syndicates of Bengal, Bihar, and Malwa, for over a century, a trade the EIC elected to enter in the early 18th century. On being awarded diwani (revenue collecting) rights in Bengal Treaty of Allahabad, in 1765 by the then Mughal emperor Shah Alam II, Shah Alam I, the EIC identified the existing system of opium syndication as a potential means to increase revenues and reduce the Chinese trade deficit, through inserting itself into the existing system of issuing licences and advance payments for opium cultivators' entire harvest, with the intention of gaining control of much of Bengal's opium production, setting the purchase price, and the ability to direct the consumption of Bengali opium. In 1773 the company attempted to monopolise syndication in by prohibiting the licensing of independent opium cultivators, a decision that yielded additional revenue, despite the widespread illicit cultivation of opium in the territory it administered, with illicit production estimated to account for over half production in the Presidency in 1822, and having to compete with Malwa opium supplied primarily by Sindia and Holkar families, Turkish opium, and the illicit Bengal and Bihar opium, for the China trade. Licensing and illicit opium cultivation continues to the present day. As the opium trade was illegal in China, Company ships could not carry opium to China. So the opium produced in Bengal was sold in Calcutta on condition that it be exported. Despite the Chinese ban on opium imports, reaffirmed in 1799 by the Jiaqing Emperor, the companies' licensed opium output was smuggled into China from Bengal by traffickers and agency houses such as Jardine Matheson Holdings, Jardine, Matheson & Co., David Sassoon & Co., and Dent & Co. in amounts averaging 900 tons a year. The proceeds of the drug smugglers landing their cargoes at Lintin Island were paid into the company's factory at Guangzhou, Canton and by 1825, most of the money needed to buy tea in China was raised by the illegal opium trade. The company established a group of trading settlements centred on the Straits of Malacca called the Straits Settlements in 1826 to protect its trade route to China and to combat local piracy. The settlements were also used as penal settlements for Indian civilian and military prisoners. In 1838, with the amount of smuggled opium entering China approaching 1,400 tons a year, the Chinese imposed the death penalty for opium smuggling and sent a Special Imperial Commissioner, Lin Zexu, to curb smuggling. This resulted in the (1839–1842). After the war Hong Kong island was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking and the Chinese market opened to the opium traders of Britain and other nations. The Jardines and Apcar and Company dominated the trade, although Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, P&O also tried to take a share. A Second Opium War fought by Britain, the company's regiments, and France against China lasted from 1856 until 1860 and led to the Treaty of Tientsin, which legalised the importation of opium. Legalisation stimulated domestic Chinese opium production and increased the importation of opium from Turkey and Persia. This increased competition for the Chinese market led to India's reducing its opium output and diversifying its exports.
Indian Rebellion and disestablishmentThe (also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Indian Mutiny or Sepoy Mutiny) resulted in widespread devastation in a limited region of north-central India. The crisis began in the company's army in February, April and May 1857, when scattered mutinies coalesced and to a major revolt. Entire units revolted, killing their British officers and rousing the populace. There was wide support among both Hindu and Muslim elements, ranging from peasants to princes. However the Sikh soldiers supported the British cause. Historians have identified multiple overlapping causes—some recent and some stretching back decades. In 1854 Britain went to war with Russia, but fighting bogged down in the Crimea. London sent many of its best troops to the Crimean front. The extremely bloody stalemate led to widespread rumours to the effect that the army was not nearly as strong as its reputation had claimed. It also opened the possibility of a Russian intervention in India that would overthrow the British—indeed London throughout the 19th century was seriously worried about such a threat. Company leaders had ignored long festering cultural grievances among numerous factions inside India. The company's army was composed largely of high-caste Hindu gentry, who increasingly resented the deterioration of service conditions. They had learned how to organize and fight but were losing their respect for their British officers. Ambitious peasants resented the rising taxes and the changes in land tenure that made it harder to become successful farmers. At the highest social level princes and their entourages were angry with the systematic takeover of lapsed princedoms where there was no direct heir. Religious anger emerged from the criminalisation of traditional practices. The Hindu Sati (practice), suttee (burning widows alive when their husband died) was criminalised and replaced with legalised remarriage. Religious leaders were outraged at this intrusion, and stimulated the formation of Hindu language newspapers which every week attacked the company. Indian nationalists were angry with Christian missionaries, who were trying to convert the peasants. Muslims who did convert to Christianity were now allowed to inherit from their families, despite the rules against that in Muslim sharia law. The final spark came when the Company introduced new cartridges for its Enfield P53 rifle-muskets, which were supposedly greased with pork and cow fat. To load his rifle the soldier had to bite off the paper, thus horribly polluting himself; both Muslims and Hindus saw a plot to force a mass conversion to Christianity. Historians agree that neither side understood the other, and the company was unaware that the crisis was building. British leaders condemned the East India Company for permitting the events to occur. In the aftermath of the Rebellion, under the provisions of the , the British Government nationalised the company. The British government took over its Indian possessions, its administrative powers and machinery, and its presidency armies, armed forces. The company had already divested itself of its commercial trading assets in India in favour of the UK government in 1833, with the latter assuming the debts and obligations of the company, which were to be serviced and paid from tax revenue raised in India. In return, the shareholders voted to accept an annual dividend of 10.5%, guaranteed for forty years, likewise to be funded from India, with a final pay-off to redeem outstanding shares. The debt obligations continued beyond dissolution, and were only extinguished by the UK government during the Second World War. The company remained in existence in vestigial form, continuing to manage the tea trade on behalf of the British Government (and the supply of Saint Helena) until the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act 1873 came into effect, on 1 January 1874. This Act provided for the formal dissolution of the company on 1 June 1874, after a final dividend payment and the commutation or redemption of its stock. ''The Times'' commented on 8 April 1873:
Regulation of the company's affairsThe British government issued a series of regulations over the years. The Regulating Act of 1773 was the first but did not prove to be a success and subsequently in 1784 the British government passed Pitt's India Act, which created the India Board to regulate the company's governance of India. Following this the government intervened more frequently in Company affairs in a series of East India Company Acts.
WritersThe company employed many junior clerks, known as "writers", to record the details of accounting, managerial decisions, and activities related to the company, such as minutes of meetings, copies of Company orders and contracts, and filings of reports and copies of ship's logs. Several well-known British scholars and literary men had Company writerships, such as Henry Thomas Colebrooke in India and Charles Lamb in England. One Indian writer of some importance in the 19th century was Ram Mohan Roy, who learned English, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Greek, and Latin.
Financial troublesThe company kept good financial statistics. Although the company was becoming increasingly bold and ambitious in putting down resisting states, it was becoming clearer that the company was incapable of governing the vast expanse of the captured territories. The Bengal famine of 1770, in which one-third of the local population died, caused distress in Britain. Military and administrative costs mounted beyond control in British-administered regions in Bengal because of the ensuing drop in labour productivity. At the same time, there was commercial stagnation and trade depression throughout Europe. The directors of the company attempted to avert bankruptcy by appealing to Parliament for financial help. This led to the passing of the Tea Act in 1773, which gave the company greater autonomy in running its trade in the American colonies, and allowed it an exemption from tea import duties which its colonial competitors were required to pay. When the American colonists and tea merchants were told of this Act, they boycotted the company tea. Although the price of tea had dropped because of the Act, it also validated the Townshend Acts, setting the precedent for the king to impose additional taxes in the future. The arrival of tax-exempt Company tea, undercutting the local merchants, triggered the Boston Tea Party in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, one of the major events leading up to the American Revolution.
Establishments in BritainThe company's headquarters in London, from which much of India was governed, was East India House in . After occupying premises in Philpot Lane from 1600 to 1621; in Crosby Hall, London, Crosby House, from 1621 to 1638; and in Leadenhall Street from 1638 to 1648, the company moved into Craven House, an Elizabethan mansion in Leadenhall Street. The building had become known as East India House by 1661. It was completely rebuilt and enlarged in 1726–1729 and further significantly remodelled and expanded in 1796–1800. It was finally vacated in 1860 and demolished in 1861–1862. The site is now occupied by the Lloyd's building. In 1607, the company decided to build its own ships and leased a yard on the River Thames at Deptford. By 1614, the yard having become too small, an alternative site was acquired at Blackwall Yard, Blackwall: the new yard was fully operational by 1617. It was sold in 1656, although for some years East India Company ships continued to be built and repaired there under the new owners. In 1803 an Act of Parliament, promoted by the East India Company, established the East India Dock Company, with the aim of establishing a new set of docks (the East India Docks) primarily for the use of ships trading with India. The existing Brunswick Dock, part of the Blackwall Yard site, became the Export Dock; while a new Import Dock was built to the north. In 1838 the East India Dock Company merged with the West India Docks, West India Dock Company. The docks were taken over by the Port of London Authority in 1909, and closed in 1967. The East India Company College, East India College was founded in 1806 as a training establishment for "writers" (i.e. clerks) in the company's service. It was initially located in Hertford Castle, but moved in 1809 to purpose-built premises at Hertford Heath, Hertfordshire. In 1858 the college closed; but in 1862 the buildings reopened as a Public school (United Kingdom), public school, now Haileybury and Imperial Service College.Farrington 1976. The Addiscombe Military Seminary, East India Company Military Seminary was founded in 1809 at Addiscombe, near Croydon, Surrey, to train young officers for service in the company's armies in India. It was based in Addiscombe Place, an early 18th-century mansion. The government took it over in 1858, and renamed it the Royal Indian Military College. In 1861 it was closed, and the site was subsequently redeveloped. In 1818, the company entered into an agreement by which those of its servants who were certified insane in India might be cared for at Pembroke House, Hackney (parish), Hackney, London, a private History of psychiatric institutions, lunatic asylum run by Dr George Rees until 1838, and thereafter by Dr William Williams. The arrangement outlasted the company itself, continuing until 1870, when the India Office opened its own asylum, the Hanwell#Healthcare, Royal India Asylum, at Hanwell, Middlesex. The East India Club in London was formed in 1849 for officers of the company. The Club still exists today as a private gentlemen's club with its club house situated at 16 St James's Square, London.
Legacy and criticismsThe East India Company was one of the most powerful and enduring organisations in history and had a long lasting impact on the Indian subcontinent, with severe harmful effects. Although dissolved by the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act 1873 following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, rebellion of 1857, it stimulated the growth of the . Its professionally trained armies rose to dominate the sub-continent and were to become the armies of British India after 1857. It played a key role in introducing English as an official language in India. This also led to Macaulayism in the Indian subcontinent. Once the East India Company took over Bengal in the treaty of Allahabad (1765) it collected taxes which it used to further its expansion to the rest of India and did not have to rely on venture capital from London. It returned a high profit to those who risked original money for earlier ventures into Bengal. During the first century of the East India Company's expansion in India, most people in India lived under regional kings or Nawabs. By the late 18th century many Moghuls were weak in comparison to the rapidly expanding Company as it took over cities and land, and built roads and bridges. Work began in 1849 on the first railway, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, running for 21 miles (33.8 km) between Bombay (Mumbai) and Tannah (Thane). The Company sought quick profits because the financial backers in England took high risks: their money for possible profits or losses through shipwrecks, wars or calamities. The increasingly large territory the company was annexing and collecting taxes was also run by the local Nawabs. In essence, it was a dual administration. Between 1765 and 1772 Robert Clive gave the responsibility of tax collecting, Dewan, diwani, to the Indian deputy and judicial and police responsibilities to other Indian deputies. The Company concentrated its new power of collecting revenue and left the responsibilities to the Indian agencies. The East India Company took the beginning steps of British takeover of power in India for centuries to come. In 1772, the company made Warren Hastings, who had been in India with the Company since 1750, its first governor-general to manage and overview all of the annexed lands. The dual administration system came to an end. Hastings learned Urdu and Persian and took great interest in preserving ancient Sanskrit manuscripts and having them translated into English. He employed many Indians as officials. Hastings used Sanskrit texts for Hindus and Arabic texts for Muslims. Hastings also annexed lands and kingdoms and enriched himself in the process. His enemies in London used this against him to have him impeached. (See Impeachment of Warren Hastings.) Charles Cornwallis, widely remembered as having surrendered to George Washington following the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, replaced Hastings. Cornwallis distrusted Indians and replaced Indians with Britons. He introduced a system of personal land ownership for Indians. This change caused much conflict since most illiterate people had no idea why they suddenly became land renters from land owners. The Mughals, Maratha Empire, Marathas and other local rulers often had to choose to fight against the company and lose everything or cooperate with the company and receive a big pension but lose their Empires or Kingdoms. The British East India Company gradually took over most of India by threat, intimidation, bribery or outright war. The East India Company was the first company to record the Chinese usage of Bergamot essential oil, oil of bergamot to flavor tea, which led to the development of Earl Grey tea. The East India Company introduced a system of merit-based appointments that provided a model for the Indian Civil Service (British India), British and Indian civil service."The Company that ruled the waves", in The Economist, 17–30 December 2011, p. 111. Widespread corruption and looting of Bengal resources and treasures during its rule resulted in poverty. A proportion of the loot of Bengal went directly into Clive's pocket. Famines, such as the Great Bengal Famine, Great Bengal famine of 1770 and Great Bengal Famine of 1943, subsequent famines during the 18th and 19th centuries, became more widespread, chiefly because of exploitative agriculture promulgated by the policies of the East India Company and the forced cultivation of in place of grain. When the Company first arrived, India produced over a third of the world's GDP. Critics have argued the company damaged the Indian economy through exploitive economic policies and looting.
Coat of armsThe East India Company's original coat of arms was granted in 1600. The blazon of the arms is as follows: "Azure, three ships with three masts, rigged and under full sail, the sails, pennants and ensigns Argent, each charged with a cross Gules; on a chief of the second a pale quarterly Azure and Gules, on the 1st and 4th a fleur-de-lis or, on the 2nd and 3rd a leopard or, between two roses Gules seeded Or barbed Vert." The shield had as a Crest (heraldry), crest: "A sphere without a frame, bounded with the Zodiac in bend Or, between two pennants flottant Argent, each charged with a cross Gules, over the sphere the words " (Latin: God Indicates). The Supporter (heraldry), supporters were two sea lions (lions with fishes' tails) and the motto was (Latin: Where God Leads, Nothing Harms). The East India Company's later arms, granted in 1698, were: "Argent a cross Gules; in the dexter chief quarter an escutcheon of the Coat of arms of France, arms of France and Coat of arms of England, England quarterly, the shield ornamentally and regally crowned Or." The crest was: "A lion rampant guardant Or holding between the forepaws a regal crown proper." The supporters were: "Two lions rampant guardant Or, each supporting a banner erect Argent, charged with a cross Gules." The motto was (Latin: Under the auspices of the King and the Senate of England).
ShipsShips of the East India Company were called East Indiaman, East Indiamen or simply "Indiamen". Their names were sometimes prefixed with the initials "HCS", standing for "Honourable Company's Service" or "Honourable Company's Ship", such as and . During the French Revolutionary Wars, French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the East India Company arranged for Letter of marque, letters of marque for its vessels such as ''Lord Nelson''. This was not so that they could carry cannon to fend off warships, privateers, and pirates on their voyages to India and China (that they could do without permission) but so that, should they have the opportunity to take a prize, they could do so without being guilty of piracy. Similarly, the ''Earl of Mornington'', an East India Company packet ship of only six guns, also sailed under a letter of marque. In addition, the company had its own navy, the History of the Indian Navy, Bombay Marine, equipped with warships such as . These vessels often accompanied vessels of the Royal Navy on expeditions, such as the Invasion of Java (1811), Invasion of Java. At the Battle of Pulo Aura, which was probably the company's most notable naval victory, Nathaniel Dance, Commodore of a convoy of Indiamen and sailing aboard the , led several Indiamen in a skirmish with a French squadron, driving them off. Some six years earlier, on 28 January 1797, five Indiamen, ''Woodford'', under Captain Charles Lennox, ''Taunton-Castle'', Captain Edward Studd, ''Canton'', Captain Abel Vyvyan, ''Boddam'', Captain George Palmer, and , Captain John Christian Lochner, had encountered Admiral Pierre César Charles de Sercey, de Sercey and his squadron of frigates. On this occasion the Indiamen succeeded in bluffing their way to safety, and without any shots even being fired. Lastly, on 15 June 1795, ''General Goddard'' played a large role in the capture of seven Dutch East Indiamen off Saint Helena, St Helena. East Indiamen were large and strongly built and when the Royal Navy was desperate for vessels to escort merchant convoys it bought several of them to convert to warships. ''Earl of Mornington'' became HMS ''Drake''. Other examples include: * * * (1795) * (1804) * * Their design as merchant vessels meant that their performance in the warship role was underwhelming and the Navy converted them to transports.
RecordsUnlike all other British Government records, the records from the East India Company (and its successor the India Office) are not in The National Archives (United Kingdom), The National Archives at Kew, London, but are held by the British Library in London as part of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections, British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections. The catalogue is searchable online in the ''Access to Archives'' catalogues. Many of the East India Company records are freely available online under an agreement that the Families in British India Society has with the British Library. Published catalogues exist of East India Company ships' journals and logs, 1600–1834; and of some of the company's daughter institutions, including the East India Company College, Haileybury, and Addiscombe Military Seminary. ''The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and its Dependencies'', first issued in 1816, was sponsored by the East India Company, and includes much information relating to the EIC.
Early Governors* 1600–1601 : Sir Thomas Smythe (first Governor) * 1601–1602 : John Watts (merchant), Sir John Watts * 1602–1603 : Sir John Harts * 1606–1607 : Sir William Romney * 1607–1621 : Sir Thomas Smythe * 1621–1624 : Sir William Halliday * 1624–1638 : Maurice Abbot, Sir Maurice (Morris) Abbot * 1638–1641 : Sir Christopher Clitherow
East India Company* ** Economy of India under Company rule ** Governor-General of India ** Chief Justice of Bengal ** Advocate-General of Bengal ** Chief Justice of Madras ** ** Indian independence movement * List of East India Company directors * List of trading companies * Old Protestant Cemetery in Macau, East India Company Cemetery in Macau * :Honourable East India Company regiments
General* British Imperial Lifeline * Lascar * Carnatic Wars * Commercial Revolution * Political warfare in British colonial India * Trade between Western Europe and the Mughal Empire in the 17th century * Whampoa anchorage
Notes and references
Further reading* * * ; 14 essays by scholars * * * * * * Collins, G. M. (2019). "The Limits of Mercantile Administration: Adam Smith and Edmund Burke on Britain's East India Company" ''Journal of the History of Economic Thought'', 41(3), 369–392. * William Dalrymple (historian), Dalrymple, William (March 2015).
Historiography* * * Van Meersbergen, G. (2017). "Writing East India Company History after the Cultural Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Seventeenth-Century East India Company and Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie." ''Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies,'' 17(3), 10-36
External links* s:Charter Granted by Queen Elizabeth to the East India Company, Charter of 1600 *