East India Company

     An English association or company to trade with the East was formed in 1599 under the auspices of a group of merchants known as the merchant adventurers. The company, popularly known as the East India Company, was granted a royal Charter and the exclusive privilege to trade in the East by Queen Elizabeth on Dec. 31. 1600. A chronology of long journey to power of the East India Company in India is given below:

  • 1608: The English made their first attempt to establish factories in India.
  • 1609: Captain Hawkins reached the court of Jahangir at Agra.
  • 1611: The English established a factory at Masultpatnam, the principal port of the Kingdom of Golkonda.
  • 1613: Jahangir issued a firman permitting the English to establish a factory permanently at Surat.
  • 1618: Sir Thomas Roe remained constantly at Jahangir's court from the end of 1615 till the end of 1618.
  • Feb. 1619: Thomas Roe left India. The English had established the factories at Surat, Agra, Ahmedabad and Broach.
  • The best quality of Indigo was manufactured at Biyana.
  • 1626: The English opened another factory at Armagaon. north of the Dutch settlement of Pulicat.
  • 1632: The Sultan of Golkonda granted them the "Golden Firman" by which they were allowed to trade freely in the ports belonging to the Kingdom of Golkonda on payment of duties worth 500 pagodas a year.
  • 1633: The English established factories at Hariharpur in the Mahanadi Delta and at Balasore.
  • 1639: Francis Day obtained the lease of Madras (Chennai) from the ruler of Chandragiri. successor of the ruined Vijayanagar Empire and built there a fortified factory which came to be known as Fort St. George.
  • 1651: They established a factory at Hugli under Mr. Bridgeman.  Sultan Shuja issued a firman granting the company the privilege of trade in return for a fixed annual payment of duties worth Rs.3000.
  • 1656: Another firman was granted which laid down "the factories of the English Company be no more troubled with demands for custom for goods imported or exported either by land or by water, nor that their goods be opened and forced from them at under rates in any place of government by which they shall pass and repass up and down the country; but that they buy and sell freely, and without impediment."
  • 1658: All settlements in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. and on the Coromandal coast, were made subordinate to Fort St. George.
  • “The times now require you to manage your general commerce with the sword in your hands"-wrote. Gerald Aungier, successor of Sir George Oxenden as President at Surat and Governor of Bombay (Maharashtra) to the Court of Directors.
  • 1672: Shaista Khan (died in 1694) issued a firman granting the English exemption from the payment of duties.
  • 1680: Aurangzeb issued a firman ordering that none should molest the Company's people for customs or obstruct their trade.
  • Oct. 1686: The English sacked Hugli,
  • Dec. 1688: Sir John Child. brother of Sir Josiah Child. blocked Bombay (Mumbai) and Mughal ports on the western coast, seized many Mughal vessels and sent his captain to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf to arrest the pilgrimage traffic to Mecca.
  • Feb. 1690: Aurangzeb granted pardon, and also a licence for the English trade.
  • 1690: The President and the Council of Bombay concluded a peace with the Mughal Emperor.
  • Aug. 1690: Job Charnock returned to Bengal. and established an English factory at Sutanati.
  • Feb. 1691: Ibrahim Khan. the successor of Shaista Khan in the government of Bengal, issued a firman granting the English exemption from payment of customs duties in return for Rs.3000 a year.
  • 1694: The House of Commons passed a resolution to the effect that all the subjects of England had an equal right to trade in India unless prohibited by statute. (The Government in Britain was that of the Whigs.)
  • 1698: The Company acquired Zamindari of the three villages 'Sutanati. Kalikata (Kalighata=Calcutta) and Govindpur on payment of Rs.1200 where it built Fort William around its factory.
  • 1700: The English factories in Bengal were placed under the separate control of a President and Council, established in the new fortified settlement which was henceforth named Fort William. Sir Charles Eyre was the first President of Fort William.
  • 1702: The “English Company of Merchants" and the old Company resolved upon amalgamation, which came into effect under the award of Earl of Godophin in 1708-09. The two Companies were henceforth amalgamjated under the title of "The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East lndies".  The legal monopoly of the United Company remained untouched till 1793. 
  • 1715: An Embassy, conducted from Calcutta by John Surman, assisted by Edward Stephenson, was sent to the Mughal court.  William Hamilton accompanied it as a surgeon and an Armenian named Khwaja Serhud as an interpreter.   Emperor Farruhsiyar issued a firman of concessions. 
  • 1716-17: A firman was issued which was described by Orme as the “Magna Carta of  Company”.
  • 1717: The English took possession of five villages near Madras (Chennai), which Thomas Pitt Governor of Madras from l698 to 1709 had originally obtained from the Nawab of Carnatic 1n 1708.   
  • June 1720: The Company was reconstituted as the "Perpetual Company of the Indies"
  •  1721: French occupied Mauritius, Mahe on the Malabar Coast in 1725 and Karaikkal in 1739.
  • 1739: The English-Maratha Treaty: In alliance with Peshwa an attack was launched against the Angrias Suvarnadrug was captured by Commodore James in 1755 and in 1757 Clive and Watson captured their capital, Gheria. 
  • June 1748: A large squadron was sent out from England under Rear Admiral Boseawen to avenge the capture of Madras (Chennai); now the English besieged Pondicherry.
  • June 1756: Siraj-ud-daula seized the English factory at Cassim Bazar.
  • June 2, 1756: Fort William, the English stronghold in Bengal, surrendered to Siraj-ud-daulah.
  • Black Hole Episode: It occupies a place in the narrative of Holwell. 123 died of suffocation (out of 146 persons incarcerated in a small cell by the troops of Siraj-ud-daulah.
  • Jan. 2, 1757: The English captured Calcutta.
  • June 23 1757: Battle of Plassey was fought. Clive deposed Siraj-ud-daulah and installed his puppet Mir Jafar as new Nawab.  The English thus became the virtual rulers of Bengal. 

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