Asia Economy 1793 – 1804 – part 1

This chapter consolidates those articles dealing with the economic aspects of the Company’s form of government in India. There are numerous interesting articles recording the contention between monopolists and free traders at Charter renewal in 1813 which expose the Company’s concerns rather well.

There is a fascinating article in the 22nd August 1812 edition that reports Lord Kenyon decided a prize case in a way that required Dundas to enact new law permitting Americans access into the Company’s Chartered area. The 13th article of Judge John Jay’s treaty with Britain permitted American trade to India. Britain conceded that because she needed American intermediaries to carry her manufactures into Europe. Dundas consequently required the India Company Directors to construe the 13th article liberally. American access to Asian trade became a serious matter of contention with British free traders who themselves were excluded from the continent until the 1813 Charter after which they obtained access under onerous restrictions which did not improve until the Company’s commercial monopoly in Asian trade was revoked in 1833.

The second part of this chapter contains a review of David Urquhart’s 1833 book on Turkey which expresses, in a few idyllic paragraphs, the simple commercial system of those people in comparison to all the impedimenta of British commerce that the insertion of the capitalist between producer and consumer requires. It is in an article datelined 13th October 1835.

The economic aspects of China trade, which is mostly comprised of trade statistics, are retained within the China chapter.

On a point of presentation, wherever figures like 2/3d are mentioned it represents the former style of writing 2 shillings and 3 pence when a Pound Sterling had Twenty Shillings and a Shilling had Twelve Pence.

Saturday 12th Jan 1793

Calcutta Gazette – The amount of Company debt paper in circulation in October 1792 was 29,947,012 Rupees and in November 31,614,019 Rupees. The amount available for the discharge of debt this month is 3,902,238 Rupees.[1]

19th/20th January 1793

Notice – all bonds, certificates and promissory notes issued by this government will be received at the Treasury in subscription to the Company’s annual remittance to London at the exchange rate of 2/4d per Bombay Rupee.

19th/20th January 1793

The Court of Directors write that the quality of Indian indigo has been improved beyond the American and French competition and will soon rival the Spanish. M/s Charters, Gilchrist, Wm Orby Hunter, Perreau, Gervais Robinson and Stephens are all to be congratulated on the quality of their produce. Public congratulations will inspire other planters to emulate them.

Sat 2nd Feb 1793

Calcutta reports that all the debt paper issued up until 3rd October 1789 (when the Company’s cashflow started improving) will be discharged at the general Treasury on or after 21st December 1792.

Thereafter salaries, commissions, stipends and pensions will revert to cash payment (formerly they had been half cash, half paper). December salaries for the troops will be paid after 7th January and the civil staff after 10th January.

Sat 9th Feb 1793

The Calcutta Insurance Office has appointed Boehm and Co as its London agents, authorised to issue policies, adjust losses and pay claims.

Sat 17th Feb 1793

Notice – the Bombay government is raising money on transferable Promissory Notes paying 8% p a and will pay the interest annually until the funds are no longer required.

The Notes are issued at an exchange rate of 2/4d per Bombay rupee. Repayments of principal will not commence until all other debt of this Presidency has been discharged.

Sat 2nd Mar 1793

General Abercromby has concluded a contract with the Rajah of Travancore (at the southern tip of India) for the provision of an annual quantity of 1st class pepper at advantageous rates to the Company (thus adding quality pepper to the company’s other monopolies – China tea, silk, porcelain and purges, Mocha coffee, Indian cotton, indigo, etc)

Sat 9th Mar 1793

For sale – A few cases of Hyson Skin tea just imported by Captain Philips on the Jehangir. Contact him at his home near the Portuguese church or at the Lyceum.[2]

Sat 9th Mar 1793

A Charter for the Company has been drawn up by the new Board of Control for submission to parliament. It is said to be beneficial to the shareholders.

Sat 30th March 1793

Notice – The officers and men who procured the victory over Tippoo Sultan at Seringapatam will receive six month’s batta in addition to the gratuity promised by Lord Cornwallis to them out of the money taken from Tippoo.[3]

Sat 6th April 1793

A list of holders of the Company’s debt under its Promissory Notes (to be paid off on 8th March) is published – many Parsee and English names, a handful of Portuguese, Muslim Indians and Arabs.

Tues 9th Apr 1793 – extraordinary

Long description of the siege of Seringapatam by Cornwallis. Tippoo paid one crore Rupees (c. £1.2 million) as indemnity and surrendered many valuable lands.[4]

Sat 13th April 1793

The list of bondholders that was commenced in the 6th April 1793 edition is concluded in this edition. One is John Barretto of the premier Portuguese mercantile family; another is Pestonjee Bomanjee of the leading Parsee family.

Sat 4th May 1793

The Bombay Presidency has issued 118 promissory notes for 1,293,032 Rupees between 29th March and 30th April 1793. During the same month it has issued 81 Certificates of Discharge on Bengal Presidency for 800,476 Rupees leaving additional promissory notes of Rupees 492,556 in circulation.[5]

Sat 18th May 1793

Notice to the owners of pepper vines in Malabar (excluding Cochin):

I propose to relinquish the monopoly on pepper except for a claim as sovereign to one half of your production. This notice is issued before the rains to permit all those interested in cultivating pepper to make preparations timely.

Issued by the President-in-Council, Bombay Castle, 15th April 1793.

Sat 25th May 1793

Dundas raised the subject of renewal of the Company’s Charter in the House of Commons. 12 month’s Notice had been given to the Company of the expiry of the Charter and a proposal for its renewal was expected but, if not forthcoming, he would make a statement to the House of the India Company’s concerns.

The Board of Trade had last summer obtained statements of the Company’s export trade and revenues. Dundas intended to publish all details so MPs were fully aware of the Company’s business and could form an opinion on renewal.

His examination showed the Company was well advanced in repayment of its debts to England and he expected it would soon be aiding this country rather than seeking for aid from us. He moved that commercial reports of the Select Committee of the Directors be tabled in the House.

Sat 1st June 1793

Current Account statement for May 1793 – Promissory Notes issued by the Bombay Presidency in exchange for Bills on Calcutta. Total 1,518,476 Rupees.

Sat 1st June 1793

The business of the Khalsa[6] in opium and other branches of revenue will today be transferred to the Company’s Board of Trade.

Sat 8th June 1793

The following creditors of the Company’s bonded debt will be paid-off on 10th June – John Barretto et al

Sat 8th June 1793

Calcutta news:

  • Sales of government salt are averaging 263 Sicca Rupees per hundred maunds (the Maund is a little over 82 lbs or 37 kgs).[7]
  • The late rains have encouraged the farmers to commence planting. Indigo growers have some expectations for this year although many native farmers say the long dry weather could produce a famine.

Sat 15th June 1793

Calcutta – The drought in Bengal has ended.

Tax on the lands of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa has been assessed under the Regulations for the Decennial Settlement of the Revenue and is now fixed in perpetuity – land occupiers are to have ten year leases.

Sat 29th June 1793

Notice 19th June 1793 – The Governor-General has reduced the interest payable on Bengal Promissory Notes from 8% to 6%. He wishes to establish a uniform rate of interest applicable to the Company’s notes throughout India and establish a single issuing authority at Calcutta. The Bombay Presidency is co-operating.

6% notes of Bombay will be exchanged for 6% notes of Bengal. They will qualify for subscription to the Company’s annual remittance to England at the exchange rate of 2/4d per Bombay rupee.

Bengal 8% notes will be exchangeable for all Bombay Promissory Notes currently issued. For all future transfers only 6% Bengal notes will be available.

Sat 29th June 1793

The Tobacco monopoly for Bombay will be sold in the Hall of Government House on 10th July. It will be valid from 1st August 1793 – 30th April 1795.

Sat 29th June 1793

Repayments of the Company’s bonded debt will be made to the following people on 1st July – 74 English and 55 mostly Parsee names appended.

Sat 29th June 1793

The Governor-General has abolished handling fees on the Company’s Bills of Exchange and on the Certificates issued to officers of the Company’s fleet. New Bills are available for purchase in sets of £500.

Sat 6th July 1793

Loan Certificates on Bengal exchanged for Promissory Notes of Bombay in June totalled 56,898 Rupees. Balance of notes in circulation – 1,993,678 Rupees.

Sat 6th July 1793

Notice 5th July – Bombay government has paid 737,000 Rupees for the discharge of loan certificates held by the following people – 13 names mostly English, one Parsee.

Sat 3rd August 1793

In July a further 83,000 Rupees of the 6% promissory notes were issued in exchange for Certificates on Bengal. The value of Bombay Promissory Notes still in circulation is 2,064,094 Rupees.

Sat 3rd August 1793

Notice – 500,000 Rupees will be applied to the discharge of the Bond Debt of Bombay Presidency this month. The following creditors will be paid-off and receive no further interest. List of ten English and four Parsee names appended.

Late Notice – A further 8 English and 3 Parsee holders of the Company’s bonded debt will also be paid off at the same time.

Sat 3rd August 1793

A plan is in agitation to permit British merchants to conduct trade in India through the Company on fixed terms. On 22nd February 1793 a General Court of Shareholders was held at India House concerning the renewal of the Charter. A letter to the Directors from Dundas (President of the Board of Control) outlined the terms agreed:

  • The Company should conform its commerce with modern principles and the exclusive trade to and from India should be regulated so as to encourage British exports.
  • In return, the Company might pay a dividend on their stock of 10% per annum instead of 8%.
  • The company should pay £500,000 per annum in reduction of its debts in India and £500,000 in reduction of its debts to the public.
  • The Company should issue and sell additional shares sufficient to discharge its bond debts in England.

The shareholders agreed a Directors’ proposal they furnish four ships for each of Madras and Calcutta and two for Bombay every year, all ships of 800 tons (i.e. 8,000 tons in total), in order to transport the cargoes of the private English merchants at £10 per ton freight. It reserved an exclusive right to send recruits to India in the extra ships in war time.

The Court agreed to instruct its Presidencies to issue Bills on the Company in London at the following exchange rates:- 2/- per rupee in Bengal, 2/3d per rupee in Bombay and 8/- per gold pagoda in Madras.[8] If British exporters wished to buy and ship Indian produce to England, they might use as much space as their imports to India occupy, at a freight of 12% per ton ad valorem. The Company requires all goods to and from England to pass through its own warehouses in England and be subject to its own handling charges.

The opening of free trade to China is resisted but if Macartney gets any trade concession from the Chinese Emperor, the Company would be agreeable in principle to extending the offered Indian arrangements to China, however the British merchant must pay his profit in bullion to the Company at Canton in exchange for Bills at the prevailing exchange rate.

The Directors were authorised by the shareholders to negotiate the above terms with the Board of Control under the fundamental imperative that any innovation must preserve the Company’s trade at its present extent without impairment to its ability to send money to London (the Home Charges) each year.[9]

Sat 3rd August 1793

The Company’s Board of Trade has entered the market for Indian indigo. It will buy minimum quantities of 5 factory maunds (400 lbs per Maund) per supplier.

Sat 24th Aug 1793

Notice – Promissory Notes issued by the Bombay Government will not in future be exchangeable for Bills on London to discharge the Bond Debt (as subscriptions to the Company’s remittances to London).

They will only be exchangeable for Promissory Notes of the Bengal Government at 116 Sicca Rupees per 100 Bombay Rupees. Sgd 11th August 1793

Sat 24th Aug 1793

India House – The Company’s shareholders met on Thursday to consider Dundas’ letter. The Directors asked for time to review the Board of Control’s proposals. Henchman said he did not oppose an adjournment but wondered if the separate fund was secured to the old Shareholders. The Chairman said he did not know. He says the Directors rely on HM Ministers to secure the shareholders in their full enjoyment of the separate fund. Lushington said it did not signify as the new shareholders would contribute in proportion. They would all get the same advantage.

Randall Jackson thought the Directors should have itemised Dundas’ main points for the attention of shareholders. As they had not, he would list the points:

  • First is the prohibition of muslins. If muslins became unfashionable in England they would be unfashionable all over Europe. This would hurt both the Indian manufacturers and the Company. He thought justice required the exporters of muslins be protected.
  • Second, Jackson thought the shareholders should participate in the accumulated surplus before the public got any part of it.

Lord Kinnaird reproved Dundas – his first paragraph says there is no hurry; the next says the Charter will expire in March 1794. He suspected that Dundas wanted to let matters slip so there would be no time for considered responses and he might do as he please on renewal. We know Dundas, said Kinnaird. He is won over by whoever spoke to him last – first the Directors had counselled him, then British manufacturers infected his view. Now the Directors clearly had to restore their advice again.

Browne said he had been buying muslins for 30 years and if Dundas got his way he would ruin the trade. The manufacturers’ best interests were to continue trading through the Company. The manufacturers had been misled by reports that the import of cotton would be £1.2 millions yearly whereas it was only £300,000, which would only produce for each manufacturer about £1,000 per year. If muslins are prohibited, other countries would engross the trade, factories would appear at Ostend and British muslins would be excluded. He offered to sit on a committee to met delegates of the producers and refine their position.

Lushington said by restricting the import if Indian muslins to 5,000 pieces per year, the Board was merely indicating that muslin was used in India and was enticing British manufacturers to send muslin there.

Jackson defended Dundas. He said throughout the negotiations Dundas had been candid and, far from limiting the Company’s interests, he had done everything he could to increase them. He cited several instances in support.

Jackson then adverted to the claims from various manufacturing districts for participation in Indian trade. He said the Glasgow manufacturers asserted Jacobin principles.

The Chairman thanked the Shareholders for the hint thrown out. A copy of Dundas’ letter and the resultant Company Resolutions was then read:

My resolutions are attached. They address the two problems which the British government and the India Company must solve:

  • increase British exports to India and
  • decrease clandestine trade from Europe to India.

Peel and the Manchester manufacturers want the use of muslin in this country prohibited. I think this is too narrow a view and is probably negotiable.

Sgd Henry Dundas 16th March 1793

The Company’s Resolutions, drafted by shareholder Francis Baring:

  • The lands and revenue of India remain the Company’s together with the exclusive trade thereto. We only agree to some appropriation of our territorial revenue and trade profits as may be authorised by parliament.
  • A Board of Commissioners be appointed to control the civil and military government of India, same as was done at the last renewal. The expenses of the Board will be paid by the Company.
  • The King retains the power to recall any Company officer.
  • The trade monopoly to continue for 20 years until March 1814 and to be determinable then on 3 years notice having been given.
  • The Company to provide 3,000 tons of freight between 31st Oct – 31st Jan every year for the private traders of England to India. British exports in peacetime will be freighted at no more than £5 per ton. The return freight will not exceed £15 per ton. The Company’s profit from private trade with England will be applied to defray firstly military costs in India; secondly paying-off the interest on the Company’s debts; thirdly in defraying the costs of the civil and commercial establishments in the Company’s various settlements; fourthly 10 million Rupees will be applied to the Company’s annual investment to London; fifthly as the debts are paid-off, the funds ear-marked for (but saved by) repayment will be provided to the commercial boards for their investments abroad or to the liquidation of debts in India or anything else. Finally, that up to 500,000 Rupees in the Company’s debt be remitted to London by Bills issued by the various Company presidencies at equitable rates of exchange.
  • While the monopoly continues, the Company’s profit from sale of goods in London, both their own and the private and privileged trades, shall be applied to – first, payment of the dividend at £10 per cent per annum on the Capital stock of the Company, commencing mid-summer 1793; second, payment of up to £500,000 per annum to discharge Bills of Exchange until the Company’s debt in India is reduced to rupees 30 millions (c. £3 millions), and third £500,000 per annum to the King’s exchequer.
  • When the Indian debt is reduced to £3 millions and the bond debt in London to £1.5 millions, and after paying all the charges listed above, one sixth of the remaining surplus will be for the Company to distribute in augmented dividends and the rest will go to the King’s exchequer.

…. Remainder illegible

Sat 24th Aug 1793

Charter renewal – Committee of Correspondence report at 1st April 1793:

We got Dundas to agree that our exclusive trade may continue, as it results in revenue being remitted to England. The way he put it was ‘to ensure that British manufacturers had a way of meeting the full demand in India for their products, and that raw materials sourced in East Indies may be brought to England at the most reasonable rate.”

We then negotiated with Pitt and Dundas and have detailed below the progress of each resolution which are numbered the same as in the government proposals.

Res 1 – The amount of revenue and profit appropriated should be inflexible but always have our prior agreement.

Res 2 – Gives the Board of Control power to appropriate revenue without our consent.

Res 3 – Raises the Governor-General’s position. We prefer to operate under the existing system.

Res 4 – the Court of Directors must have the same power to recall servants as they presently enjoy.

Res 5 – We need a 20 year term of exclusive trade with 3 years notice from parliament thereafter if it is to be ended. We need repayment of the debt due to the Company by the King / government.

Res 6 – opens trade in all Indian goods to this country, not just those raw materials that are needed by British manufacturers. Ministers failed to properly confront the factory owners. We do not require manufacturers to become import merchants but we offer them Bills of Exchange for their money. The promotion of manufacturing in England should not extend to general Indian merchandise which involves the national revenue and forms part of the Company’s remittance. This will impede the Company and assist foreigners to participate in Indian trade. At all events piecegoods should be excluded – they can only damage British manufacturers. Competition on Indian piecegoods will raise prices and lower quality. Only a slight increase in the amount imported will reduce the value obtainable on sale.

Res 7 – We insist on £15 per ton for the return freight rate on private trade.

Res 8 – The private trade must pay demurrage if it causes delay to the Company’s ships.

Res 9 (and 11 & 12) – The Company is only obliged to provide adequate tonnage not to provide dedicated ships for private trade.

Res 10 and 15 – Are Agents in India to get commissions from foreigners to facilitate a foreign trade in Indian goods? To address this, we will require the free traders in India to make new restrictive covenants with the Company as a term of their residence in India. We also wish to exclude military officers from direct involvement in trade.

Res 20 – your committee commends that the debt in India be reduced to £200,000. Dundas had no objection.

Res 21 – the new Company stock to be sold publicly will produce funds to reduce the bond debt to below £1.5 millions. Any excess will be applied to other Company debts in England. Any remainder required will come from normal income and the Company’s cash balances. This Clause does not recognise the Company’s Indian debt or the new arrangement of £500,000 that will replace the existing loan of that amount. Reserving £500,000 of our profit to the public every year is onerous. We understand that after the above debt payments are met, the public is to be paid from surplus cash up to £500,000. Paying this fixed sum may ruin the Company, particularly as the public claim on the Company’s profits is increased from three quarters to five sixths. The Director calculate a surplus of £1.2 millions. Dundas supposes it is more. Deducting £500,000 for debt repayment leaves £700,000 which would pay a larger dividend (on the old ¾ – ¼ distribution). The shareholders have not agreed. They get 2% additional dividend while the public gets £500,000. If the Company’s trade does not withstand the free trade, the shareholders should get more. Dundas should recall that after the Company’s Indian and English debts have been reduced as he requires, he agreed that the shareholders might have an additional dividend after which the guarantee fund was to commence and be accumulated until it totalled £5 millions. That fund is to be the security underwriting the Company’s stock in case of disaster. It ensures payment of the increased dividend at 10%. If all the Company’s profits are earmarked in this way we will have nothing for day-to-day operating costs and will have to borrow, although we are required to not increase the bond debt.

Res 23 – 25 – These clauses will ruin the company and those piecegood buyers who attend the Company’s sales. It tends to throw the whole business into the hands of foreigners and it will not benefit English manufacturers. Either muslins will be smuggled into England or the cloth will become unfashionable and a great branch of trade terminated.

Res 27 – after paying the bonds, the balance should be applied to discharge other debts.

Res 28 – The Company may require to borrow money temporarily and the limit of £1.5 million must be allowed to be exceeded from time to time.

Conclusion – If ministers do not renew our exclusive trade, the change will have ramifications throughout our business which are difficult to foresee. There is no time for an investigation. The Charter expires in March 1794.

The government is not concerned at our patronage and power or the great extent of our wealth. It is concerned for the safety of India and an end to our indebtedness in England. We rely on the continuing candour of ministers to meet our objections and provide us with reasonable expectations for the future.

Sat 7th Sept 1793

Contract terms for clothing the Bombay Presidency’s army are published:

20% payment on execution of the contract; 15% on 1st July; 15% on 1st Oct.; Balance on completion. Two acceptable securities must bind themselves jointly and severally with the contractor for the value of 50% of the advances. They will each be responsible to pay 25% of such part of the contract as is not performed according to terms.

Sat 7th Sept 1793

Bombay Promissory Notes, account at August 1793 – 50,000 Rupees in Promissory Notes have been exchanged for Bengal Bills on London this month. The balance of notes in circulation is reduced to 2,044,024 Rupees.

Sat 7th Sept 1793

Notice – the amount of bonded debt to be discharged in Bombay Presidency in September 1793 is 388,000 Bombay Rupees. This will discharge the balances due to W G Farmer, Solomon Solomons and Lewis Cochrane.

Sat 7th Sept 1793

Company trade news – the tin shipments that the Company has made to China during the last 2-3 years have been profitable and the Directors have resolved to ship more on every ship in the coming season.

The Company has contracted for 15% of the entire production of the Cornish Stannaries at £70 per ton.

The value of cargo from Bengal to England this year will exceed all previous records. Hitherto an investment of 8 – 9 million Rupees was considered large. This year (1793 / 94 season) the cargo will be worth 12 million Rupees.

Sat 7th Sept 1793

The House of Commons is debating the India Company’s accounts:

Dundas said the practice of requiring annual accounts from the Company had caused better accuracy of accounting and a more vigilant supervision over the expenses of the civil, military and commercial establishments. Hitherto the Company had reported income and expenditure from each territory from which the amount available for commerce and repayment of debt could be calculated. Now he had required accounts to show not just income and expenditure but assets and debts both in India and England and a combined statement of surplus revenue and commercial profit.

The revenue of the three main presidencies from 1787 / 88 to 1789 / 90 (3 years) averaged £6,897,730 p. a. and the expenses were £5,283,717 p. a. Dundas had formerly thought the accounts of the Directors were unreliable but that was when they took everything at the lowest conceivable value. This was because the Directors feared the government would want a share if they reported the real profit. Dundas had made his own calculations and his figure for revenue was actually £65,895 p.a. less than the Directors’.

The annual surplus of £1,621,050 is applicable to payment of interest or reduction of debt or for use in China trade.

The amount of the Company’s debt in India at January 1792 was £9,084,550. Of this total debt only £6,933,943 was interest-paying at an annual cost of £592,209. Money urgently borrowed for the war with Tippoo at 12% was soon repaid with money borrowed at 8%. The war ended in February 1792.

The indemnity taken from Tippoo was the equivalent of £1.2 millions of which the army claimed £½ million in prize-money and the Company claimed the balance (The Company claims a half share of prize money in India).

Reducing the Company’s territorial profit of £1,621,050 by the interest of £592,209 on debts still left just over £1 million in annual territorial profit.

Turning to commerce, the sale of British goods to India had produce a profit of £350,000 on the company’s own under-stated figures. Exports to India in 1784 had been £400,000 but were now £1 million and increasing. This head of profit should increase.

The Directors propose to send £250,000 (c. $1 million) to China for the annual tea purchases and send £1,127,000 home to pay the dividend, etc. Sending revenue to China is effective as the tea and silk sales in London had produced an average £351,831 nett profit after tax for each of the six years 1787 – 1793. Indeed on the last three years the sales of China goods had produced an average excess over prime cost, freight and charges of £916,497. To this is to be added the tax on private trade which produced £83,393 on average.

Cornwallis is famous for his military victory over Tippoo but his regulations for the Company’s commerce have been equally successful in reducing fraud and increasing profit. The Directors are at last receiving assistance from many of their overseas employees. They particularly note Charles Grant.

On this capital the Directors have to pay the annual 8% dividend of £1,239,241 (valuing the issued capital of the Company at c. £15 million).

Dundas was unconcerned for moneys provided to the Company interest-free. He addressed the balance of Company debt in India of about £7 millions and the debt in England of £14,247,019. He said the accounts valued the Company’s assets (goods and money) in England at £8,815,489 and in India (goods and money) at £4,980,405. Deducting the Company’s issued capital produced £12,913,904 in assets.[10]

It is better for the Company to accumulate debt in England because they retain the advantage of the trading profit on their money (they can send a small value of India goods to China and convert it to a large sum on sale of bartered China goods in London)

Dundas thought it important for the Company to facilitate the transfer of private fortunes from India to England so as to deter employees using their money in competition with the Company (remitting the proceeds in foreign bottoms or Bills to evade detection).[11] He suggested £500,000 of India debt should be transferred annually to England. Interest rates in India were now 8% but were falling with the conclusion of the Mysore War and should soon be 6% (the level at outbreak of war). Eight years of repayment would reduce Indian debt to £3 millions and that would be a supportable level as Indians like to invest in the Company’s funds and aligning the interests of Indian Shroffs with the Company enhances political stability.

Dundas said the home debt could be dealt with in either one of two ways – increasing the Company’s capital or paying-off debt by instalments. He preferred a capital increase as it should elicit an increase of trade.

He wondered if the whole surplus from India should be brought to England and concluded that it should and if the proprietors felt that indicated they should get a bigger dividend, perhaps they should – say to 10%.

He also felt the public should share in the fortunes of the Empire but he did not himself know how to go about it.

Proposals for ending the Company’s trade monopoly have been aired publicly but Dundas assessed it would damage British manufacturers.

He concluded that after all expenses, £100,000 profit is being made now. It should be set aside annually in a public fund to guarantee the dividend. He calculated this fund would increase in 14 years to £12 millions (as the debt is paid-off, the profit will increase plus the interest on it). This would secure their capital in these prosperous days and minimise fluctuations in the stock value.

Dundas was so confident of his opinions that he would print them in a paper of hints to the parliamentary Select Committee that is to investigate the Company accounts.

Sat 21st Sept 1793

Henry Dundas’ propositions to House of Commons on 23rd April for Charter renewal are to be incorporated in a Bill to be presented to parliament in May 1794. The proposals are:

  • All the Company’s additional land holdings and the revenue therefrom will continue in the Company’s possession for their further term of exclusive trade but subject to such appropriations of land revenue and trade profit as is specified below.
  • The King will appoint a Board of Commissioners to control the civil and military government of the Company.
  • All costs of the Board will be paid quarterly by the Company.
  • The governments of Bengal, Bombay and Fort St George (Madras) will be by a Governor and three counsellors, empowered as invested.
  • H M retains the power to recall any Company officer in India and the Court of Directors likewise have this power.
  • The trade monopoly will continue for another 20 years from 1st March 1794 and is liable to termination if notice is given by government at least 3 years prior to 1st March 1814.
  • Any British citizen or citizen of His Majesty in Europe (Corsicans after 1794, Gibraltans and, arguably, Hanoverians) may export goods from London on the Company’s ships to any of the East Indian ports regularly visited by the Company’s ships, except military stores, ammunition, masts, spars, cordage, anchors, pitch, tar or copper.
  • Any European subject of H M in the Company’s civil service or resident in India under the Company’s licence as a free merchant, may consign on the Company’s ships bound for Europe, any goods to London within the limit of tonnage that the Company offers to provide.
  • The Company shall restrict to London discharge, Indian exports of calicoes, dimities (a light cotton weave with thicker lines within it), muslins and all piecegoods made of silk or cotton to its own benefit and the benefit of those private merchants it so licences. If the Board considers the Company’s exports are insufficient for the usual consumption in England, it may permit such British individuals as it selects to supplement the import.
  • The Company is obligated to provide 3,000 tons of shipping between November to January to carry the goods of private merchants to India and to bring back the returns of those merchants. The freight rate will be reasonable.
  • The freight rate in peacetime will not exceed £5 per ton outbound and £15 per ton inbound and in no case will the two together exceed £20 per ton. These rates may be increased in wartime in proportion to the Company’s own increased cost of freight.
  • British exporters will apply to the Company Secretary before the end of August each year for space on the ships of the following season. They will specify the port of destination, the tonnage required and the approximate dates of shipment. Before 15th September they will deposit in the Company’s Treasury the freight and dues required by the Company, which the Company at its sole discretion may substitute for security in lieu of cash. They will deliver to the Company a list of the goods intended to be exported before end October, failing which the freight prepayment will be forfeited.

Sat 5th October 1793

The sum available for the discharge of the Bond Debt of this Presidency during October is 363,000 Bombay Rupees. This is sufficient to liquidate the holdings of M/s Solomon Salomons, Wm Freeman and Bunsaloe Manockchand Roopchand.

Sat 5th October 1793

Discharge of Promissory Notes issued by Bombay Presidency for Sept 1793 is 20,464 Rupees leaving 2,089,276 Rupees still in circulation.

Sat 5th October 1793

Notice – The annual sale of the Company’s imports to Bombay will occur on 25th November. The following goods will be offered for sale to private merchants on the usual conditions:


Long Ells

Lead (1 cwt = 112 lbs)

Copper plate

Copper, fine

Japan copper

538 bales

36 bales

6,700 cwt

900 cwt

2,087 cwt

1,556 cwt

Sat 5th October 1793

The Chief Officer of the Barwell is selling his imports (privileged tonnage) next door to Dr Alvares house (opposite the Portuguese church) – hats, gloves, hosiery, mirrors, perfumes, glassware, jewellery, chandlery, paints, boots, pickled meat and claret.

Sat 12th Oct 1793

The price of cotton is declining. It generally keeps pace with the price of grain and is an important indicator of the value of money and labour throughout India. This decline reflects the restriction on money supply due to reduction in volume of the Company’s debt paper.

Sat 12th Oct 1793

Mr Nathaniel Smith, MP and a Director (long-term Chairman) of the Company, has queried the advice and information provided to the House by Dundas concerning the Company’s finances.

David Scott replied on behalf of Dundas – Dundas’ figures were based on the accounts provided by the Company itself. The company’s affairs have been profitable for several years. Both the revenue and the trade profit increased in each of those recent years. The only changes since the accounts has been a reduction of trade – and an increase of territorial – revenue.

The Directors admit they have been cautious in their estimates – the revenue was probably £200,000 understated, and they showed recent trade as loss-making to the extent of £50,000 per annum when it was actually profitable by that amount. They have not included the expected profit from the full proposed investment of £1.5 millions but only about £1 million of it. The combined effects of all these understatements reduced profit by about £700,000 per annum.

Scott was so confident of his knowledge of the Company’s business that he offered to buy the understatement for £500,000 of his own money. He said the men who produce the Company’s accounts are as able and upright as can be found in the country. If it were not so, their work could never have been presented to this House. He apologised to the House for wasting time and keeping Members up late. He said he would not have done so had it not been for Director Smith’s comments which were as surprising as they were regrettable.

A concise extract of the Company’s financial affairs was published from information provided to the Board of Control by the Directors:

Nett annual income (rent and profits)


Interest on the 4% bond (of £3.2 millions)

8¾% Interest on Indian loans (£6,669,082)

8% Dividend on issued capital (£5 millions)

Surplus for the year












Government is still considering how much of the surplus will go to the Exchequer and how much in additional dividend to shareholders. The intention to pay-off the Indian debt and the economies on freight, etc., will make the future surplus larger. A Sinking Fund for India debt will form part of the surplus in six years time, unless that debt be increased. It is accordingly foreseeable that the dividend should increase in future. Even this year, there is an unappropriated estimated sum of £107,241 which should go to the shareholders.

Sat 12th Oct 1793

Our Assessors continue to examine Tippoo’s confiscated lands. The likely revenues will be substantial but not onerous on the farmers. The commissioners have had important help from the Scotsman Murdoch Brown of Mahé in Kerala, whose local knowledge is extensive. He has been appointed Deputy Chief of Police at Mahé.

Sat 2nd Nov 1793

Promissory Notes, Bombay October Account:

6% Promissory notes exchanged for Bills on London in Oct = 82,789 rupees

New 6% notes issued Oct = 118,991 rupees.

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation = 2,118,477 rupees.

Sat 2nd Nov 1793

Letter from the Directors to the Governor-General, dated 25th February 1793:

Negotiations for Charter renewal continue but we expect to be obliged to liquidate our debts in India. We revoke our previous permissions to draw on us in discharge of those debts. We will shortly advise you of the amount of debt that is required to be liquidated annually under the new Charter.

Sat 2nd Nov 1793

Charter renewal – Beaufoy introduced the subject in the House of Commons.

Fox renewed his objections to the first two clauses, saying no satisfactory answer had yet been made available to MPs. He thought the public had a right to know how the House had formed its opinion. The country is at war and strict economy is requisite. This Bill created two new posts with big salaries. It was particularly inappropriate coming from Dundas who has combined the jobs (but not the salaries) of Home Secretary with President of the Board of Control for so many years.

Chancellor Pitt responded that when a public servant did not draw his salary it was paid into the Civil List.

Dundas replied that under Fox’s India Bill nine new London posts were created and they would have had the patronage of 400 Indian jobs worth £1 million annually whereas Pitt’s Bill left the patronage with the Company and required promotion of Company servants by seniority.

He said it was impossible to regulate India without delegating great powers to the government in Calcutta. The influence of the King was reduced as low as general safety would permit. His proposals would encourage young men, just entering the public service, to pay greater attention to Indian affairs.

The House then approved the clauses on a vote 115:42 and the Bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time next Wednesday.

Sat 2nd Nov 1793

Capt Grant of the London is selling part of his investment for this voyage at the house next door to Mrs James – wines, salt meat, cloth, wall lights and toiletries.

Sat 9th Nov 1793

Notice – Bombay wheat is now 2.9 seers per candy.[13] Bakers may sell bread at the following prices. There follows a list of weights and prices. If bakers sell at less weight they will be fined.

Sat 9th Nov 1793

Those merchants who since 25th June 1793 have sold indigo to the Company in Bengal in return for Bills on London, will continue to enjoy the exchange rate of 2/5d per Current Rupee but the Company will revert to 2/4d if peace breaks out.

Sat 9th Nov 1793

A Directors’ meeting has been held at India House. Chairman Devaynes ordered the two Acts relative to Charter renewal be read.

The Annuity Bill was agreed unanimously.

The Renewal Act contained blanks and voting was postponed until the Select Committee of the Commons had filled them in.

Henchman requested Director’s pay be doubled to £300 p.a. and Chairmen’s pay be doubled to £500 p.a., both backdated to 1st April. The shareholding qualification for Directors should be increased from £2,000 to £3,000. A new Oath requiring honesty, etc., was desirable, he thought.

The Chairman said he did not want to go to parliament on the subject of Directors’ pay or qualifications at this time.

Lushington said liberality should go with responsibility. Salaries are inadequate. If Directors are paid more they are better protected from the temptations which H M ministers hold out to them. He thought parliament might not need to know of an increase as the numbers of Directors might be decreased and the overall cost will appear the same.

Sir Francis Baring agreed generally but feared the increased shareholding qualification might exclude many talented people. He supported the new Oath.

Montgomery Campbell supported higher pay.

Mr Serjeant Watson thought an increase in the qualifying shareholding could only be achieved by Act of Parliament but the salaries could be increased by the revision of a Bye Law.

Mr Thornton liked a new Oath.

Mr David Scott wanted the new Oath introduced immediately. He thought the salary increase required more consideration and the change in shareholding qualification was unnecessary.

Mr Pattle liked the Oath. He noted the Act allowed the Court to increase salaries only to £200 p.a.

Authority to draft a new Oath was then voted and passed unanimously.

Mr Randall Jackson wished to amend the Oath taken at ballots by adding “I am not directly or indirectly interested in this question and my concern is solely as a shareholder of India stock.”

Mr Lushington noticed that if shareholders were excluded from voting on general commercial matters, they might sell out and India stock reduce in value.

Mr Elphinstone opposed Jackson’s amendment.

Mr Randall Jackson denied he was mounting an attack on the old shareholders. He was not resurrecting the matter of the shipping interest which had already been settled. He was concerned solely with commercial matters. He withdrew his motion for the time being but said he might raise it later.

Sat 23rd Nov 1793

Notice – All goods produced in the Company’s lands in India may be shipped to Malabar (the new province taken from Tippoo) free of transit duties and Customs w.e.f. 1st January 1794. Merchants must buy an export certificate at the port of departure and produce it at every Malabari port they discharge at.

Sat 30th Nov 1793

For auction – the Government arrack farm for Bombay from 1st January 1794 – 30th April 1797.

Intending bidders should attend the Hall of Government House on 20th December 1793.

Sat 30th Nov 1793

Investments by the Company’s ships’ officers this season are much reduced. Although an increased number of ships are consigned to Bengal this year, most Europe goods are still selling at high prices in the Calcutta market. The war is preventing the usual trade in English goods that the neutrals used to bring. Fortunately, the Vizier’s minister[14] has made some large purchases of Europe goods which has supported prices. Madeira and brandy are particularly expensive as we fear there will be limited future supplies. Madeira has risen 40% in the last 4 months.

Sat 30th Nov 1793

Resolution of the Bombay private merchants, 23rd November 1793:

The commercial situation of Bombay is as follows – Our trade has stagnated due to the war in Europe; our shipping is unprotected due to the absence of warships for convoy; the Company has discharged its bonded debt and is overflowing with money; the only investment in town is the Company’s paper which now pays only 6% per annum and can no longer be realised when wanted (it has become non-transferrable).

To those investors who have deposited funds with our Agencies at ¾% per month (9% pa) we regret to advise that effective 1st August 1793 (three months ago) we will only pay ½% per month.

Sgd – Forbes Smith & Co, Bruce Fawcett & Co, Alexander Adamson, James Tate, Rivett Wilkinson & Co, Robert Henshaw, John Tasker, Patrick Hadow, Joseph Harding and Miguel de Lima e Souza.

Sat 7th Dec 1793

Old 8% Promissory Notes discharged November = 127,635 rupees. New 6% notes issued = 383,202 rupees. Notes in circulation = 2,374,043 rupees.

500,000 rupees of bond debt will be discharged this month. This will buy up the balances of the holdings of John Hunter, Wm Ashburner and John Griffith.

Sat 7th Dec 1793

England – The India Bill has passed both Houses, received the Royal Assent and become law. It is a huge piece of legislation.

In summary, the Governor-General’s powers, and those of Presidential governors, are increased; the Admiralty Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is extended; Justices of the Peace are appointed throughout India. The new Act takes effect on 1st February 1794 until 1811 with a determination clause requiring three years notice.

On 5th June 1793 there was an interesting speech in the Lords by Guildford, objecting to the two new Commissioners appointed by the Act to the Board of Control. He saw it as increasing the King’s patronage whilst the trend for many years had been to diminish it. He suspected that increased power of the Crown was a ministerial response to French principles and an artful management of the owning class’ fears associated with the notion of ‘equality’.

He noted the former Board of Revenue was comprised of the Treasurer of the Navy and the Teller of the Exchequer in Ireland who both dealt with Indian revenue on their existing salaries. Now the function was assumed by new Commissioners to be paid by the Company.

FitzWilliam agreed. He had formerly approved seven Commissioners because the affairs of the country and the Company were intermingled. Now he felt the thrust of this and earlier initiatives should place India under one man – a Secretary of State for India Affairs, fixed with responsibility to parliament. The appointment of more Commissioners would dissipate responsibility, he feared.

Hawkesbury replied for the government. Since 1689 the influence of the King has diminished as the influence of property and commerce increased. The amount of business was now too great for the Privy Council to handle. Young men must be trained-up to regulate foreign commerce and the Board of Trade was commenced for that purpose.

Lauderdale ridiculed the idea of a political school for the training of statesmen – this is already done in the Houses of Parliament. He also thought persons in public office should be paid out of the revenues of the department they control.

Grenville said Acts of Parliament have to change with the times. He agreed that a Secretary of State for India was a good idea, and Dundas would be the ideal man, but the laborious investigation of affairs was too much for one man. He hoped that no further objections would be made.[15]

Sat 28th Dec 1793

Notice 26th December 1793 – Bonds and Promissory Notes of the Bombay Government will be received at the Treasury in exchange for 5% Bills on the Directors in London at an exchange rate of 2/2d per Bombay rupee payable at 548 days Sight.

If the payments that the Company has to make, as a result of the new terms of Charter requiring liquidation of the Indian Debt, preclude settlement in 548 days, interest will continue to be paid until we can afford to redeem the Bills.

Sat 4th Jan 1794

Bombay Promissory Notes Account, December 1793:

85,645 rupees of old debt has been exchanged for 6% certificates on Bengal.

346,391 rupees of the new 6% debt has been issued.

The amount of promissory notes in circulation is now 2,634,789 rupees.[16]

Sat 25th Jan 1794

The Bombay government invites sealed tenders for the provision of 2,000 bales of Mocha coffee, showing price and the freight rate from Mocha.

Sat 25th Jan 1794

All types of grain are rising in price here due to non-delivery of the usual supplies from the north via Surat.

Sat 8th Feb 1794

Bombay Promissory Notes account, January 1794:

Notes exchanged for Bills on London 70,533 rupees.

New 6% notes issued 166,683 rupees.

Balance in circulation 2,722,055 rupees

Sat 22nd Feb 1794

Notice – subscriptions to the Company’s remittance to London (i.e. purchasers of Bills on the Directors in London) must be made to the Secretary of the Presidency in which you reside. That officer will forward all complete subscriptions to Calcutta. The Governor-General will no longer issue Bills to anyone individually; only to subscribers sending via the local Government Secretary.

Sat 8th Mar 1794

Bombay Promissory Note account for February:

Old Promissory Notes exchanged for Bills on London 13,128 rupees;

new 6% Notes issued 37,750 rupees;

Notes in circulation 2,746,678 rupees.

Sat 22nd March 1794

Promissory Notes issued before 11th Aug 1793 will not be accepted at 2/4d per rupee in exchange for the Company’s remittance this year.

(The Company relies on private funds to make-up the annual remittance. It is exchanging the old 8+% Promissory Notes for 6% Notes and declines to pay 2/4d per Rupee to holders of the old Notes to whom it is paying high interest)

Sat 29th March 1794

Notice – Annual interest due on Bombay Government Promissory Notes Nos. 7 – 117 will be paid during April 1794.

Sat 5th April 1794

Bombay Promissory Note account, March 1794:

Promissory Notes withdrawn 18,958 rupees;

6% Notes issued 50,638 rupees;

in circulation 2,793,378 rupees.

Sat 26th April 1794

Notice – the Bombay Government want 200,000 lbs of fine gunpowder to be delivered between August 1794 – May 1795. The tender specifies Company saltpetre (part of the Salt monopoly) and charcoal made from the Milk bush (Euphorbia tirucalli). The powder to be contained in 2,000 casks of 100 lbs each. Barrels and hoops will be supplied to the chosen contractor. All other expenses for his account. Proposals before 1st May to Bombay Castle.

Sat 3rd May 1794

Account of Promissory Notes issued in Bombay in April:

Certificates exchanged for new 6% promissory notes in April 4,194 rupees;

other new 6% promissory notes issued 45,981 rupees,

Total in circulation 2,839,359 rupees.

Sat 17th May 1794

Public credit is somewhat reduced in Bombay. The 6% Promissory Notes are selling at 4% discount to face value; the old 8% certificates sell at par.

Sat 24th May 1794

Notice, 14th April – the Governor-General–in-Council approves Bombay discontinuing to exchange subscriptions for the Home Remittance at 2/4d per Bombay rupee. In future all bonds and Promissory Notes will be exchanged at 2/2d without distinction as to the date of their issuance.[17]

Sat 7th June 1794

Bombay Promissory Notes account for May:

Governor-General’s certificates discharged in May 27,693 rupees;

6% Promissory Notes issued May 47,107 rupees;

balance in circulation 2,881,934 rupees.

Sat 28th June 1794

Notice – In future the Bombay Presidency will pay interest on its bonded debt and on its Promissory Notes in precedence to all other calls on the revenue. Interest on the bonds will be paid 1st May each year; on the Promissory Notes on the expiration of 12 months from their dates of issue.

The Treasury is open for the purchase of 6% Promissory Notes at a discount of 2% from face value. Subscriptions to the Company’s home remittance will be received at an exchange of 2/2d per Bombay rupee. The exchange rate is 116 Current rupees per 100 Bombay rupees.

Sat 5th July 1794

The recent Act of Parliament renewing the Company’s charter includes provision for private merchants to ship goods to India on the Company’s or their own ships.

The Bombay government has issued the following notice on 2nd July:

  • Clause 81 (of the Act) says ‘Any British subject in Europe (Hanover, Gibraltar, Corsica) may export any British goods to the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, Bay of Bengal ports and Sumatra. Company employees and licensed country merchants in India may export any goods to London on Company or other ships.’
  • Clause 87 says ‘The company will provide 3,000 tons of shipping each year for the purpose. The Company may vary the amount of tonnage dependent on the need and subject to the directions of the Board of Control.’
  • Clause 89 says ‘the Company’s freight rate in peacetime is £5 per ton London to the East and £15 per ton India to London. The war rate will be higher.’
  • Clause 93 says ‘Any person wishing to ship goods from India to London will give the Company reasonable notice of same and deposit the complete freight payment at the same time or provide acceptable security for payment at destination. If goods are not delivered as specified, the freight prepayment will be seized.’
  • Clause 94 says if the 3,000 tons is not fully utilised, the Company can take up the balance. If the allowance is over-subscribed, private traders will get their pro-rata share.’
  • Clause 103 says ‘private traders will give the marks and numbers of their goods to the Company and obtain a Company licence for the export. Any unlicensed goods will be confiscated and the shipper prosecuted for ‘carrying on an unlicensed trade’’

In consequence of the present war with France the Directors have announced the freight rate India to London is currently £22.10.0 per ton.[18]

Sat 5th July 1794

Notice 4th July – Dady Nasservanjee regrets to inform his customers that the reduction of interest rates on the Company’s Promissory Notes prohibits him from paying 9% to investors any longer.

He will pay off all balances he holds on or before 31st July 1794. Effective 1st August he will pay 6% interest per annum on deposits. All repayments will be by 30 day Sight Drafts.

Sat 19th July 1794

The approach of the Company’s China fleet has caused all prices to rise at Madras except the cheapest types of rice (in prospect of the ships requiring provisions – it happens every year).

Sat 26th July 1794

India Company news:

Director David Scott was permitted to send an 800 ton ship to India for some private trade but on reconsideration it was thought approval for the voyage should be given in the General Court of Directors. The vote was 10:10 and the Company Treasurer used his casting vote to disallow Scott’s voyage.

In response, Captain Twining has requested that shareholders’ approval be sought for all Directors to trade with India on their own accounts.

Sat 2nd Aug 1794

Bombay Presidency Promissory Note Account for July:

Governor-General’s old certificates exchanged for Bills on London 3,665 rupees;

new 6% promissory notes sold 35,663 rupees;

balance of promissory notes in circulation at Bombay 2,915,894 rupees.

Sat 9th Aug 1794

All Company bonds and Promissory Notes received for purchase of Bills on London for the Home remittance this year will be exchanged at 2/2½d per Bombay rupee.

Sat 23rd Aug 1794

The Calcutta Insurance Company has retained M/s Edward Boehm & Co, as its claims settling Agent in London. The exchange rate for claims settled in London is 2/- per Current rupee.

Sat 23rd Aug 1794

Editorial – The abundance of rice in Bengal this year has been a curse. Prices have fallen so low that coolies can now earn enough in five days to buy a month’s supply of food. These people only work to obtain sustenance. They are disinclined to save because the Mughal system never protected property.

This is disastrous because the indigo crop is ready for harvest but no-one will do the work at commercially workable rates. It is one of the most abundant crops ever and may now rot in the ground. We should fix the coolies’ wages in proportion to the price of rice so they cannot earn too much.[19]

Sat 6th Sept 1794

Bombay Promissory Note Account, August:

Certificates exchanged for Bills on London 18,487 rupees;

6% promissory notes issued 256,191 rupees,

amount in circulation 3,053,598 rupees.

Sat 13th Sept 1794

Letter from the Directors to the Bombay Presidency:

Our appointed officer in charge of Tellicherry may not buy salt meat for the Company and charge us a commission on the transaction.

The officer responded to us that charging the Company a commission on goods bought for its account by employees is customary. He says the agent providing the goods received only a fair market price but voluntarily offered the commission from part of his profit.

We disapprove. You will require the officer to refund the commission. Please make it public that employees accepting commissions on our purchases will in future be dismissed.

Sat 13th Sept 1794

The Bombay merchants have complained that Clearance Certificates for their ships departing Bombay are too expensive. The Directors note that the amount of traffic at Bombay is greater than the other Presidencies. They authorise a reduction of the fee from 1 rupee to 2 annas per ton for all ships.

Sat 27th Sept 1794

The Bombay tobacco monopoly will be relet for the period 1st Nov 1794 – 30th April 1797 (2½ years). Tenderers should attend at Government House on 14th October.

Sat 4th Oct 1794

Bombay Promissory Note account for September:

Certificates exchanged for Bills on London 273,617 rupees;

6% promissory notes issued 99,398 rupees;

balance of promissory notes in circulation 2,879,379 rupees.

Sat 4th Oct 1794

House of Commons, 15th April 1794 – The Bill empowering the Company to continue its bond debt was read for a 3rd time. This allows the Company to increase its share capital by £2 millions or borrow money.

Francis MP said Company staff told him issuing bonds was not the same as raising loans. He knew the Shareholders had just increased their annual dividends, had agreed to pay £500,000 to government every year and had granted new pensions to various individuals. He thought they should pay off their debts before they spent all their money.

20 years ago, when they last tried this (at the previous Charter renewal), we characterised their demand as fraudulent and brought in a Bill to stop them. Now parliament is actually helping them. The only thing the Company should use to meet its obligations is its profit. Year after year, the Company comes ‘cap in hand’ to parliament to borrow money and we enquire for what purpose. Now they just ask and we give it.

Lord Mornington said Francis has confused the total amount of the Company’s bond debt for the amount it now seeks to raise. The new Charter requires the Company to reduce its bond debt to £1.5 millions. They have done so by an increase in wealth of £500,000 (the amount of bond debt paid off). They now seek to be allowed to resume £2 millions of bond debt and to add £1 million more if necessary. The consequent increase could not be more than £1.5 million. But this year the Company has paid £500,000 that they did not have to pay previously. The Company has provided evidence of bills shortly due for payment of £1.5 millions and has trade debtors of £500,000. Mornington concluded that the Company was less indebted now than previously.

Francis complained the Bill still did not indicate how the money was to be applied. Nevertheless, the Bill was read and passed and Dundas carried it to the Lords.

Sat 25th Oct 1794

Notice – 6% Promissory Notes for sale at 4% discount. The Notes qualify for the Company’s home remittance at 2/2½d per Bombay rupee or for exchange for Bengal Promissory Notes at 116 Current rupees per 100 Bombay rupees.

Sat 8th Nov 1794

Promissory Notes account for October:

Certificates discharged 231,031 rupees;

Certificates exchanged for Bills on London 385,397 rupees;

New 6% notes issued 692,287 rupees;

Amount of promissory notes in circulation 2,955,238 rupees.

600,000 rupees of the bonded debt of Bombay Presidency will be discharged this month to settle balances due to Chowacara Mussa, John Griffith and Alexander Adamson.

Sat 15th Nov 1794

Notice, 7th November 1794: The minimum value of Promissory Notes for sale will in future be not less than 500 rupees.

Sat 15th Nov 1794

The dividend payable to the Company’s shareholders is increased to 10½%. This shows its profitability and should raise the Company’s reputation even higher.

Sat 15th Nov 1794

Wm Devaynes chaired a meeting of the Company’s shareholders on 17th June. The Directors had resolved to declare a dividend on the capital stock of 5¼% for the first half of this year.

Lushington reminded the proprietors that the first half-yearly payment of £250,000 to government, agreed under the new Charter, was due and they should check the accounts first to ensure that cash was available to permit the dividend.

The Chairman said payment of the dividend took precedence to payment to the government which took its share from the residue. The increased level of dividend was then approved.

Sat 6th Dec 1794

Bombay Promissory Note Account for November:

Certificates on Governor-General exchanged for Bills on London 252,243 rupees;

New Promissory Notes issued in Nov 980,782 rupees;

Amount of Promissory Notes in circulation 3,622,631 rupees.

Sat 13th Dec 1794

Lloyds brokers’ are quoting for war-risks cover on British ships via India to or from China at 12 guineas (per ton); American ships to China and back 20 guineas per ton.

Sat 3rd Jan 1795

Bombay Promissory Notes account for December 1794:

Certificates on Governor-General exchanged for Bengal Notes 334,170 rupees;

Certificates on Governor-General exchanged for Bills on London 177,994 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 932,400 rupees;

Promissory Notes in circulation 4,042,575 rupees.

Sat 7th Feb 1795

Bombay Promissory Note account, January 1795:

Governor-General’s Certificates exchanged for Bills on London 422,035 rupees;

Governor-General’s Certificates exchanged for Promissory Notes 717,543 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes sold 2,317,323 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 3,794,421 rupees.

Sat 14th Feb 1795

Government tender, 13th February 1795 – The Bombay government seeks for proposals on 16th February for the supply of 1,000 candies of Ahmood cotton, free of seeds and dirt, for delivery before 10th May.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

Notice – Muscat salt (rock salt) may be imported into Bengal, Bihar and Orissa only in ships coming directly from Muscat and certificated by the Muscat Customs (the India Company has a Resident there). The maximum import on any one ship is 500 maunds.

Muscat salt imported other than in accordance with these regulations will be confiscated and sold for the Company’s benefit. Informers will get 25% of the proceeds. Government officers effecting the seizure will get 25% too. If government makes a seizure without information, those detecting officers will get 50% reward.

All Muscat salt, to be legally imported, must be consigned to Government and delivered to the Company’s salt depot near Sulkey. The Treasury will pay 200 Sicca Rupees per 100 maunds on production of the Company’s Salt Office receipt.

The old duty of 30 rupees per 100 maunds and customs duty of 4% of the Company’s unilateral valuation are discontinued for Muscat salt.

Sat 7th March 1795

Account of Bombay Promissory Notes, February:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 210,170 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 39,671 rupees;

8% Promissory Notes surrendered 77,371 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 231,685 rupees;

Total Promissory Notes in circulation 4,026,106 rupees.

Sat 7th March 1795

The Bombay Presidency invites loans of 500 rupees of more from the public. This entitles the investor to a 4% discount (or whatever the rate may be at that time) on purchase of the new 6% Promissory Notes.

Sat 7th March 1795

A large quantity of East Indies raw sugar has been permitted to be shipped to England on foreign ships. Mr Lambert is alone said to have shipped 4,000 hogsheads (c. 1,000 tonnes). The West Indies sugar lobby has remonstrated with Privy Council.

Sat 21st March 1795

On 18th March the Mentor (Richardson) sailed from Bombay for Surat and thence to Mocha where it will load the Company’s investment in coffee for carriage back to Bombay and trans-shipment to an Indiaman for London.

Sat 28th March 1795

Notice – The Governor-General permits Bombay 6% promissory notes to be exchanged for Madras 6% promissory notes at 345 Bombay rupees per 100 star pagodas.

Sat 4th April 1795

Bombay Promissory Note account, March 1795:

Governor-General’s Certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 103,824 rupees;

Bombay 6% Promissory Notes issued 223,122 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 3,785,535 rupees.

Sat 25th April 1795

Notice – The Company has the exclusive trade of the East Indies. Subjects of George III in Britain and Europe may export any British productions or manufactures into the Company’s exclusive trading area. Officers of the Company’s Indian civil service or merchants resident in India and licensed by the Company may export Asian goods to London.

To facilitate this trade to the mutual advantage of both countries, the Company will provide at least 3,000 tons of shipping each year, out and back, but should the amount be excessive or insufficient the Company has the right to vary the quantity in accordance with the directions of the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India (the Board of Control). The tonnage will be provided in December each year for goods home. The Company will charge shippers £5 per ton out and £15 per ton home. In war time the Company will charge higher freight in accordance with market conditions. These rates are solely for ocean freight. Delivery to / from the ship and storage in the Company’s warehouses is for shippers’ account.

Shippers in the Company’s territories in Asia will give reasonable notice of their requirements to the Company describing the nature and weight of the goods and the date of shipment. They will pay the entire freight in advance or give security for payment. If they fail to produce the goods for shipment as declared, their freight payment will be confiscated. If there is an excess of space for goods for shipment the excess will be apportioned pro rata amongst the shippers and the Company will give shippers 7 days notice of the change. If the space is not used, the Company may appropriate it for its own goods.

For all private goods a licence will be issued by the Company to the shipper. Unlicensed goods will be confiscated.

Sat 2nd May 1795

The Bombay Insurance Society has been reconstituted for the current year and is offering 6% premiums on voyages to China and 11% on voyages from China, both prices ad valorem. As eastern seas have been cleared of French privateers for the time being, the ships are permitted to sail singly.

Sat 9th May 1795

Bombay Promissory Notes account for April:

Promissory notes discharged 13,643 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 10,797 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 12,861 rupees;

New promissory notes issued 393,298 rupees;

Balance of promissory notes in circulation 4,141,532 rupees.

Sat 9th May 1795

Government Notice – Articles imported into Bombay Presidency and its dependencies (the nearby islands plus Surat and Broach and now Malabar and the Persian Gulf ports of Bushire and Basra) from Bengal will be exempted from duty after 1st June 1795 on production of the usual certificates.

Editor – This may not refer to Bushire and Basra as the Company’s trade regulations for Persian Gulf ports differ from its Indian territories.

Sat 6th June 1795

Account of Bombay Promissory Notes for May:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 17,073 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 24,402 rupees;

Notes surrendered 20,454 rupees;

New 6% Notes issued 506,044 rupees;

Notes in circulation 4,585,577 rupees.

Saturday, 13th June 1795

Notice – The Governor-General has banned the import of saltpetre into Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. A Marine Board is created, which includes some members of the Board of Trade, to administer the new regulation.[20]

Sat 27th June 1795

The Directors have won agreement at a meeting of the Company’s shareholders on 12th January for them to personally trade to India, either as Principal or Agent. Numerous Directors had been identified as involved in Indian trade as Agents in a report recently made by Woodfall.

Tolfrey was the man who wanted shareholder approval and David Scott supported him. So did Baring, who saw the matter as a struggle between the shipping and the commercial interests and felt sure the ships officers, having the advantage of free freight, would never be inconvenienced by it. Henchman agreed.

Alderman le Mesurier extolled the virtue of the British businessman and assured shareholders that their Directors could be trusted. The Directors had split 10/10 on the issue and brought it before the shareholders. The motion received a majority of 193 shareholder votes.

Twining had made a motion to the opposite effect.

He had noted the Directors’ Oath of Office expressly prohibited their private trade and he thought it would adversely affect the wealth of the ships’ captains and officers. He mentioned in comparison, the wise law that prevents merchant bankers from acting as Bank of England Directors, and thought the same principal should apply here. His original motion was to refresh the prohibition on Director’s personal trade.

Elphinstone seconded. He thought the Directors’ private trade would diminish their ability to control their staff in India all of whom would expect the same advantage. Lushington agreed. The honour of the Directors rested on the restriction, he said. The Directors regulate Indian commerce and by combining they might defeat the expectations of the ships officers who will then necessarily consign their goods to one or other Director. He hoped Scott had not got the support of the Board of Control for the measure.

Serjeant Watson also opposed and Jackson Barwis, who appears on Woodfall’s list of Directors acting as Agents, had since changed his mind and opposed Directors’ private trade.

Sat 27th June 1795

East India House, 16th December:

  • A dividend of 5½% for the half year has been declared.
  • A letter from Dundas to the Company’s Directors dated November 1794 has been received: The minutes of your recent Court contain a letter from Mr Charles Grant on the old subject of freight rates. The Directors have agreed to pay more freight than they think is reasonable. They say there is an influence upon them (the shipping interest) which requires excessive payment. I wish to tell you that this ministry repudiates this form of dealing and will not defend it in parliament.

Sat 4th July 1795

Bombay Promissory Notes account for June:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 48,143 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 9,131 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 224,140 rupees;

Balance of promissory notes in circulation 4,752,611 rupees

Sat 1st August 1795

The Bombay Treasury is having a sale of the new 6% Promissory Notes at 4% discount to face value.

Sat 22nd Aug 1795

The practise of Indian army officers encumbering their pay with annuities is popular. It is estimated that £100,000 is outstanding on the security of pay.

Lt Thomas Lidderdale receives £40 p.a. half-pay and in 1782 he borrowed £120 from Edward Benyon, arranging to repay £20 p.a. from the half-pay. The whole amount of half-pay was assigned to Benyon who accounted to Lidderdale for the balance over £20.

The arrangement worked flawlessly for four years until in 1786 Robert Stone bought the annuity from Benyon for £132.13.0d and the transfer was backdated to the original transaction date. Payment was received timely and in full but Stone did not account for the excess balance to Lidderdale.

In 1788 the Pay Masters-General withheld payment on the instructions of Lidderdale and Stone sued. It was argued by the Pay Masters General in Court that half-pay is not assignable. A decision is awaited.[21]

Sat 12th Sept 1795

Bombay Government Debt, August 1795:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 71,045 rupees;

6% promissory notes issued 96,247 rupees;

Promissory notes in circulation 4,860,537 rupees.

Sat 26th Sept 1795

Notice, 25th September – The Company’s Residents on the coast (at Surat, Calicut, Malabar, etc) have been cashing an excessive amount of Promissory Notes to fund their administrations. This practise must stop.[22]

Sat 26th Sept 1795

M/s Soper and Ramsey, the Company’s coffee buyers at Mocha, have arrived at Bombay on the Stamboul, a ship of Chilabi, the great merchant of Surat.

Sat 3rd Oct 1795

Bombay Promissory Notes account, September 1795:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 237,964 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal notes 55,947 rupees;

New 6% promissory notes issued 357,307 rupees;

Balance of promissory notes in circulation 4,923,933 rupees

Sat 10th Oct 1795

Those Bills on London that were issued by Bengal Presidency between 11th August – 25th November 1793 on 548 days Sight are to be cashed now without postponement.

Sat 31st Oct 1795

Dundas addressed the House on the Company’s accounts. He used the last three years accounts (1791 – 94) to ascertain an average annual income and converted that from local Indian currencies into Sterling:


Revenue (estimated)

Revenue (Actual in 1793 / 94)

£5,432,768 (average of 1791 – 94)


The increase in revenue was due to increased sales of salt and opium and an unexpected increase in land revenue.

Charges £3,331,978

Charges exceeded estimates by £93,638 because:

  • the Company’s donation of three regiments to the British army mid-year and
  • the salt and opium monopolies are operated by advancing costs to producers and deducting the advances from the Company’s purchase prices on delivery.

The resultant profit to the Company on its territorial account in Bengal was £2,539,968 and he estimated profit for 1794 / 95 would be £2,301,972.


Revenue (estimated)

Revenue (Actual in 1793/94)

£2,232,077 (average of 1791 – 94)


The costs of local wars and the taking of Pondicherry had increased expenditure whilst the new treaty with Tanjore will increase revenue.

Charges £1,999,376

In 1792 / 93 the Nabob of Arcot paid the Company 100,000 Pagodas in advance and it was expected he would again pay in 1793 / 94 but he did not do so. This may be related to the treaty the Company made with the Nabob concerning the Polygars which we forced upon him to end disputes between the parties and restore production. This caused his dissatisfaction and he delayed payments. There was also a famine affecting the Circars for some of the year which likewise delayed payments. Dundas hoped that Madras would soon become self-sufficient.


Revenue (estimated)

Revenue (Actual in 1793 / 94)


£277,898 (average of 1791 – 94)



Bombay charges were proportionately increased by

  • Giving the same donation to the army as Madras,
  • Establishing the Bombay Marine for the protection of the west coast, Red Sea and Gulf and
  • The costs of settling a government on Tippoo’s ceded lands in Malabar.

Rather than publish figures from the Company’s individual Far Eastern factories (in Burma, Sumatra, Malaya and China) Dundas gave global figures for the whole business:

Revenue £8,294,399 less Charges £6,181,501 producing a profit of £2,112,895. Interest on debts was £458,043. Imports, sales and certificates produced £475,994. Fund for buying the tea and silk plus factory charges in 1794 / 95 is £2,130,846.

Loans due from the Company in India total £7,305,462 of which £5,597,299 is interest-bearing.

Assets of the Company in India (in stock, cash and receivables) £8,807,600

Dundas then discussed the situation of the Company in England:

When the Charter was renewed in 1793 he estimated the profits from sales by averaging the prior three years. In fact the sales for 1794 (in Sterling) were greatly in excess of that average:

Sales of tea, silk, etc., in 1794

Privileged tonnage sales, gross

Nett proceeds to Company of both


Dividend at 10½%

Cost of tea

India debt discharged

Bonds paid-off

Remaining debt in England







933,095 (1,008,697 in 1793)



Finally Dundas disclosed the Company’s assets:

Value of assets at 1794

Assets in China and at St Helena



He said the Company had increased its assets and reduced it debts by £600,000 in both India and England producing £1,200,000 increased assets, less the debt in China and St Helena of £101,725 but add the value of shipments from India to England of £303,530 = c. £1.4 million. Thus, Dundas said, the Company was nearly 1½ millions richer at March 1795 than it had been a year before.

The Company had agreed in the new Charter to pay £500,000 annually to the people. They could clearly afford to do so but had not. He told the MPs he allowed them not to pay because they need the cash for imponderables and they are now obliged by law not to increase their debt. The Company’s finances and policies were predicated on peace, Dundas said. To deal with war risks the Company had deployed part of its fleet protecting the Indian coast etc., and had been prevented for using those ships in trade. The cost of this protection was accounted at £800,000. Next year (1796) the Company would be paying war rates on freight as well as protecting its factories and coasts. These extra costs and the Company’s liability for Bills issued in China would reduce available cash next year.

Last year because of ‘bad sales’, the House had allowed the Company to borrow an extra £2 – 3 millions but it had not done so. This was an indicator of its underlying wealth. Why had they not paid the £500,000? The Company said the credit of £1 million given by parliament had strings – it was for reducing indebtedness – so it could not be applied to the £500,000 donation to the government. The Company needed its funds. If it had to pay parliament, it would borrow £500,000 at the London market rate (4%) by issuing bonds but this would have attracted criticism as they are now paying bi-annual dividends of 5½%. Dundas said they must therefore raise funds at a rate of at least 5½% and such an issue would reduce the value of all their other bonds.

The Opposition have said that if war disrupts the Company’s trade, it should accept reduced trade, and apply the excess territorial revenue to pay-off the debt in India. That saves the £900,000 in extra (wartime) freights. Although this may be true, Dundas said, one of the purposes of the new Charter is to make the Port of London the premier emporium of Eastern goods in Europe and that was facilitated and encouraged by maintaining the trade and providing for Company employees to bring their fortunes back to this country for investment here, thereby increasing British capital, lifting British trade and strengthening British control on Indian trade.[24] If the Company’s employees were not so encouraged, they might put their capital and trade with the neutral Danes or Swedes who would undersell us in foreign markets and when we resumed trade after the war it would be at lower prices and reduced profitability. Diminishing the India trade diminishes the employment of Indiamen, which are huge specialist ships only suitable for Eastern trade. It ties up British capital in unprofitable assets. Thus a temporary gain becomes a long-term loss.

Dundas said all indications showed British Indian trade was increasing. The increased salt sales in Bengal revealed an increasing population. The increased land revenue likewise. The previous temporary tenures discouraged land improvement for production; now Cornwallis’ permanent tenures encouraged it and lease payments were coming-in more regularly. Indian confidence had increased with the wider recognition of equal laws.

The same comments can be applied to the specific case of Madras. By relieving the Nabob (of the Carnatic) of his possession of the southern Polygars, we have relieved the inhabitants of those states of fluctuating taxation and have given them justice and mildness. Dundas hoped a similar mild government could soon be settled on the northern Circars. He thought, once Madras recognised the advantage that Bengal had obtained by providing for the security of the farmers and winning their hearts and minds, the Presidency would become more profitable.

Bombay revenue came from Tippoo’s lands. They had not yet produced what they were producing under Tippoo but with good government they will be repopulated and it would surpass the former amount. The first year we got a revenue of 300,000 rupees, the second 1,100,000 and the third 1,700,000. The direction is clear.

In the home market, whilst all Europe was at war, the Company’s business was expanding. The entire private trade of Europe is being done on British account in British ships. He no longer feared opening India trade to all nations and abandoning the commercial monopoly as open markets benefited the Company.

Dundas thought the Company deserved praise for donating £60,000 to raise men for the army. The Company’s revenues are completely appropriated to government so the gift must be indemnified.

He referred to the Company’s armies. Their structure differed from European armies. Originally they guarded our small factories on the coast. Now British India has become huge. Yet the highest rank in the Company’s service was Colonel. Officers stayed for life and promotion was a matter of ‘dead men’s shoes’. He proposed to create field officers and start a plan of promotion for all officers. This would increase costs but was fair. Indian army officers spent 30 years fighting wars in that dangerous climate. They return without any public notice or reward for a lifetime’s service. He proposed that after a qualifying period of service, officers should have the option of returning home on full pay for their rank. He also proposed that regular leaves to Britain be allowed without loss of rank or pay.

In answer to a question of the House, Dundas said the Company was not in debt to the country.

Hussey recalled the Company had profits of £5,536,532 in 1781 and this year it had £5,493,774 (both exclusive of capital stock). Issued stock in 1781 was £3.2 millions; now it was £7.5 millions. He thought it did not appear to be getting better as Dundas said. Pitt replied that the Company’s accounts were formerly unreliable. In 1781 the war with France and America was occurring and the Company was increasing its debts. These had been understated by millions. Now the accounts were improved but had only started to be more reliable after the conclusion of war. He suggested the earliest year at which comparative analysis might be done was 1786 when the accounting improvements became effective.

Scott MP, one of the Company’s Directors, said that before 1787 the Company could not value its business without a margin of error of £3 – 4 millions and that the revenue now was £2 millions more than then. No MP disputed this.[25]

Sat 7th Nov 1795

Bombay Promissory Note account, October:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 34,452 rupees;

6% Promissory Notes issued 51,301 rupees;

Promissory Notes in circulation 4,940,782 rupees.

Sat 7th Nov 1795

The Company’s Treasury is open for sale of 12-month Sight Bills on London at 2/3d per rupee to finance the purchase of Surat cotton piecegoods which will form the security underlying payment of the Bills.

(i.e. these piecegoods are going to London)

Sat 7th Nov 1795

The Company has been authorised to ship a large quantity of grain to England. It will charter tonnage to effect the shipments. The Indiaman Milford (Henderson) is loading rice here for London and it is said the Helen (Seton), when she arrives, will also do so.

Sat 5th Dec 1795

Bombay Promissory Notes, November account:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 170,837 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal promissory notes 4,826 rupees;

New 6% promissory notes issued 236,458 rupees;

Balance of promissory notes in circulation 5,001,577 rupees.

Sat 5th Dec 1795

The Company has a judgment against Shri Crisus Crustnajee, Tulsi Vedeather and others, holders of the Company’s Bombay arrack farm, for non-payment of the monopoly fee. It is selling off their property – numerous oarts,[26] houses and pieces of land – by public auction to recover its revenue.

Sat 26th Dec 1795

According to Calcutta papers the Company has been permitted to ship Bengal grain to London duty free in whatever ships are available. The offer requires departure Indian port before 30th April. The irresistible temptation to speculators is the linked permission to export British merchandise of any type (except war materiel) back to India on the ship that imports the grain to London.

Since 1790 wheat in England has been worth an average 45/- to 50/- per 70 lb bushel but in July 1795 the price had risen to 80/-. At the same time the London price of rice, which had averaged 15/- – 16/- per cwt (112 lbs), rose to 38/- per cwt.

Sat 2nd Jan 1796

Letter from the Directors, 8th July 1795:

In our letter of 11th December 1794 we adjusted the freight rate payable by private individuals for shipments on our extra ships to £7.10s.0d outwards and £22.10s.0d homewards per ton.

By the Acts of 12th Charles II and 26th George III, ships built within the Company’s exclusive trading area that belong to British subjects and are registered with the Company’s local government are entitled to all the privileges of British-built ships. Please ensure such ships are properly registered with you and certificated as required by law.

This session of parliament has passed an Act allowing such ships to import Indian, Chinese, etc., goods to England and export British goods (apparently anywhere) for a limited time.

Sgd John Morris for Governor-in-Council, 1st January 1796

Sat 16th Jan 1796

The Company is moving quickly to monopolise the parliamentary allowance of grain shipments to London. 8 ships have been chartered – Harriet, General Meadows, Chichester, Britannia, Duckinfield Hall, Catherine, Berwick and Eliza Jane – and the first 3 have sailed. They carry 54,000 bags of rice to London.

Sat 6th Feb 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for January:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 118,767 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for 6% Bengal promissory notes 39,245 rupees;

new 6% Promissory Notes issued in January 409,311 rupees;

Balance in circulation 5,199,592 rupees.

Sat 13th Feb 1796

The Collector of Bombay advises all persons that the Wheel Tax that was instituted on 1st August 1783 and determined 31st January 1795 must still be paid for the period of its validity. Defaulters’ names will be sent to the Board for further action.

Sat 27th Feb 1796

The following country ships have been chartered by the Company to carry grain to England – Royal Charlotte, Abercromby, Bellona, Isabella, Anna, Berwick, Prince of Wales and Warren Hastings.

Sat 5th March 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes Account for February:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 205,010 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for 6% Promissory Notes 2,086 rupees;

Expired Promissory Notes redeemed 50,700 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 95,523 rupees;

Promissory Notes in circulation 5,037,318 rupees.

Sat 12th March 1796

London news: On 8th May 1795 Owen MP,[27] a director of the Company, tabled the Parliamentary Select Committee report on the accounts of the Company:

The annual revenues of Bihar, Bengal, Orissa and from Benares to Oudh for mint (coinage) dues, post office collections, Benares revenue, Oudh subsidy, land revenues, Customs dues and receipts from the salt and opium monopolies, taking an average of the three years 1791 – 1794, was 54,253,171 current rupees.

The revenue in 1794 was slightly above average at 58,719,460 current rupees.

The charges for 1794 were 33,319,778 current rupees.

The revenue of Madras in 1794 (including the Carnatic and Northern Circars) including all the same income as noted for Bengal, above, plus subsidies from the Nizam, the Nabob of Arcot and the Rajah of Tanjore (exclusive of Tippoo’s payments) totalled 4,270,657 star pagodas. The charges for the same period were 4,998,439 star pagodas.

The annual revenue of Bombay and its subordinate territories (Surat, Tannah and Calicut in Malabar, etc.) in 1794 was 2,776,567 rupees. The charges for the same period were 6,967,038 rupees.

The average annual revenue of Fort Marlborough (Bencoolen) on Sumatra and its dependencies from 1791 – 1793 was $19,362.

The debts of the Company in the various Presidencies total 73,054,619 rupees. The part of the debt that bears interest (Promissory Notes) is 55,972,994 rupees and the interest paid was 4,370,469 rupees (c. 8%).

The assets of the Company in India (cash, receivables, goods in transit, salt and opium stocks plus debts) are valued at 88,076,009 rupees.

The balance of stock in favour of the Company for its China trade is £939,040.

The Company’s assets in England (annuities, cash and goods) in 1795 was £10,413,354 (no indication of the Home Debt)

Sale of goods in England in 1794 was valued at £5,521,858

Sat 19th March 1796

Notice – The Presidency invites tenders for provision of 30,000 gallons of Batavia arrack. Proposals to the Company before 25th March

Sat 26th March 1796

The American ship John & Jane has been chartered by the Company to carry grain to London under the recent temporary dispensation.

Sat 2nd April 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for March:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 30,973 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 11,003 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged this month 61,515 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 69,630 rupees;

Balance of 6% Promissory Notes in circulation 5,003,456 rupees.

Sat 2nd April 1796

Notice – The Company still requires 100,000 rupees for its investment in Surat cotton. It invites a loan of this amount in exchange for Bills on London at 2/4d per Bombay rupee. The cotton is available as security for payment of the Bills.

Sat 9th April 1796

The Company invites tenders for 50,000 gallons of Batavia arrack and 50,000 gallons of Indian rum to be delivered by March 1797 at any seaport of Malabar.

Sat 9th April 1796

All persons paying Bombay revenue late will be surcharged at 12% interest p.a.

Sat 16th April 1796

Cleansing, watching and maintaining the streets of Bombay costs money. The owners of all property (valued at over 60 rupees – i.e. excluding temporary structures) are to pay for it. Their properties have all been assessed. Some of them tried to cheat but their rental values have been deemed. It’s the same with leases – you must disclose the real rental value or government will deem it. All property owners will pay 5% of the assessed values of their properties. Francis Warden is empowered to sign receipts for same. Any complaints – tell the Judge.

Sat 23rd April 1796

The Company is getting its ropes made at its own Bombay workshop (called the Rope Walk) by supplying the annual contractor with 21 maunds (1,722 lbs) of coir and requiring it be converted into 20 maunds (one candy) of rope.

The contractor makes all the Company’s ropes in Bombay and the Company may sell any surplus privately. The Company provides the Rope Walk, storage for coir and ropes, and two supervisors. The contractor supplies the tools of his trade.

Tenders are invited to provide rope to the Company. Successful contractor to provide 5,000 rupees security for performance.

Sat 7th May 1796

April account of Bombay Promissory Notes:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 73,263 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal promissory notes 5,795 rupees;

Promissory notes discharged 58,450 rupees;

New 6% promissory notes issued 16,531 rupees;

Balance in circulation 4,882,479 rupees.

Sat 21st May 1796

Tenders are invited before 31st May to operate a Mint at Bombay from 1st June 1796 – 30th April 1799.

Sat 28th May 1796

Company notice – Salt is a Company monopoly in India. Anyone shipping salt to Bengal must have a licence or the salt will be confiscated. Any ships used to import salt without a licence will be held until the owners pay a penalty to the Company of 10 Sicca rupees per maund of salt imported – no payment, no ship; it will be sold to obtain the penalty and any balance in value will be forfeit to the Company.

Sgd at Bombay Castle, 24th May 1796

Sat 4th June 1796

Bombay Current Account – Promissory Notes, May 1796:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 16,560 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 25,716 rupees;

6% Promissory Notes issued 4,289 rupees;

Notes in circulation 4,844,492 rupees.

Sat 4th June 1796

Bombay Prices Current this week:

Randeer cotton

Broach cotton

Bownaghur cotton

Cutch cotton (loose)

Tellicherry heavy pepper

Tellicherry light pepper

Eastern heavy pepper

Sandalwood 1st class


125 rupees per Surat Candy (21 maunds)

122 rupees

119 rupees

102 rupees

210 rupees per 4 robins

140 rupees

180 rupees per 21 maunds

180 rupees per 588 lbs

260 rupees per maund of 42 seers

Sat 18th June 1796

The Swift has arrived from Mocha with a useful supply of specie, the proceeds to date of Mocha’s sale of this year’s coffee crop. (the Emir buys Company Bills and invests in the London market)

Sat 2nd July 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for June:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 77,794 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 12,436 rupees;

Balance of notes in circulation 4,769,133 rupees.

Sat 6th August 1796

July current account of Bombay Promissory Notes:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 4,148 rupees;

Notes discharged this month 10,000 rupees;

6% Notes issued 3,074 rupees;

Balance in circulation 4,759,414 rupees.

Sat 6th August 1796

The Bombay Presidency has reinstated the wheel tax on all vehicles and added a scavengers’ tax.

Sat 6th August 1796

The 5% annual rate on assessed property values in Bombay is payable within 8 days of receipt of the demand. Those people have not paid for 1794 / 95 must do so instantly or their property will be sold.

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for August:

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 1,950 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 4,751,364 rupees.

(This brings repayments on the Register Debt of the Bombay Presidency up to Sept 1793 – i.e. no outstanding loan is older than three years)

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

The Company’s shipping interest (those Directors / shareholders owning the ships that the Company charters) has been dealt a blow. English ships are far more expensive than Indian ships.[28] The cause of this realisation is the low prices paid by the Company to charter tonnage in India for the recently-shipped extra grain to London. The Directors fear that unless some change is effected, foreigners will exploit overcharging by the ‘shipping interest’ and remove the British from this important aspect of maritime trade. It is feared the Company’s monopoly will not be sufficient to prevent the transfer.

Accordingly, a new regulation is drafted to open the provision of shipping to the Company to competition. The Directors have taken up the usual 50,000 tons this year plus a further 30,000 tons in smaller ships of 300 – 400 tons to carry gruff goods from Bengal. In discussions, they have agreed a deduction with charterers of £183,316 on the 50,000 tons and have negotiated additional savings on the ad hoc chartering. A reduction of £1.10.0d per ton on every voyage of the regular ships is also conceded by the shipping interest.

The Directors have also considered the position of officers of ships that became unseaworthy or sink who are accordingly denied their full enjoyment of the perquisites of Company employment. It was agreed to compensate officers affected in this way up to £5,000 for the loss of their income from a Company ship. The Directors also fixed the duration of employment on Commanders to six voyages on old ships starting this season and thereafter to perform their agreed number of voyages on a new ship.[29]

Sat 3rd Sept 1796

The import of indigo from India to London last year was greater than the provision of this commodity from all other sources. The price of the article has dropped accordingly.

Sat 1st Oct 1796

There has been a debate at India House on the shipping. This year’s shipping is costing £183,000 less than last year’s due to cheaper charter rates with the new ship owners and discounts provided by the old ship suppliers. The perpetual employment by the Company of the ships of the cartel ship owners is ended. The old monopoly of a few owners will no longer inflate the cost of the Company’s goods. The Company estimates it will save £2½ millions over 12 years.

The terms offered to the old Indiamen Captains are liberal. Every captain may make six complete voyages or receive £5,000 compensation. Twining queried this and the Chairman said every Captain had of course chosen the six voyages.

Henchman calculated the shipping cost as £1 million in peace time and £1½ million in war. This large business was now thrown open to British merchants. The saving would enhance the annual dividend by 3½%, he supposed. He recalled in 1788 (peacetime) the annual rates settled with the owners had been £33 per ton and they had steadily fallen since then to £23 per ton now. In justifying these rates the owners said the fitting-out of Company ships was quite different from ordinary ships and cost £18,000 (later amended to £20,000) per ship. Henchman had been surprised that as the fitting-out cost increased the freight rate fell. It was now apparent the Company had overpaid £2½ millions (over the last 12 years) in excessive charter rates. Henchman said the profit formerly divided amongst 27 ship owners (the shipping interest) would now accrue to the Company shareholders.

Serjeant Adair asked for more time to consider. The ship owners are respectable businessmen. Have they really been extorting from us for so long?

Palmer said the accounts of the Company are unreliable, particularly the estimate of £2½ millions in savings. He asked for an audit.

Scott said the accounts are accurate but the Company pays too much for everything. Insurance is accounted at 20 guineas when it could be bought any day at Lloyd’s for £15. He said there is as great a difference between Lloyd’s and the public insurers as there is between the Bank of England and private banks. Freight is claimed by the ship owners at £20 but the Company has always paid £21.10.0d. This was a matter for the Directors to explain but they had received letters from people in high places, and concluded there was no choice but to comply. He accordingly supported the motion.

Lushington said he heard the freight rate in 1783 had been £38 and the private rate at that time was very similar. “Since then our understanding of nautical science and particularly finance had improved and these were the real causes of the falling freight rates.” He agreed he was a major supplier of ships under the old system but said he had no fears of the new.

Le Mesurier hoped that the illegal practice of Captains buying the goodwill of ships would be ended (the Captains have a prescriptive right to sell their commands).

Finally on a vote of 120 / 70 (this is a shareholders’ meeting although the items discussed seem unusually confessional of the Directors) it was agreed to postpone a decision until the accounts supporting the proposed change had been printed and circulated.

On 4th March the proprietors met again to conclude their deliberations on the shipping interest. The Deputy Chairman (David Scott) was in the Chair. Palmer described the accounts as ‘an attempt to rescue the old ship-owners from the accusation of over-charging’. Lushington, for the shipping interest, said it would be dangerous to change the system.

Peter Moore, formerly of the Company’s Bengal establishment, attributed this ‘long overdue change’ to the presence of 13 young Directors on the Company’s board of whom six were due to retire by rotation and the replacements might not share their views of economy. He noted the last four lines of a Director’s Oath of Office absolutely required fair and open competition. If this was heeded, he thought it would produce an increase in the dividend not of 3% but of 30%. Moore thought the Company had changed direction – “a revenue of £7 millions had been obtained by conquest while ‘commerce had drooped its head.’”

The Directors then voted and a majority favoured again adjourning consideration of the changes.

The Directors took this matter to the shareholders again on 5th March. A general court was held and the investors balloted on their preference. The Directors proposed the motion ‘that our ships and our officers are the best in the world and any change in our system will jeopardise the security of our foreign possessions and commerce’. It was rejected by the shareholders 343 / 718.

Sat 8th Oct 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for September 1796:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 65,994 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 45,101 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged in Sept 11,491 rupees;

new 6% Promissory Notes issued 162,994 rupees;

Promissory Notes redeemed 18,450 rupees;

balance in circulation 4,810,121 rupees.

Sat 15th Oct 1796

Paris, the Critique – The ability of England to keep all Europe agitated derives from her possession of India. War is supported by specie; the richest country wins the war. England obtains greater wealth from India than even Spain gets from Peru.

A secretary of Mr Warren Hastings told me (the Critique Editor) the British East India Company remits an average £13.75 millions annually from India to London. This enables her to buy food and subsidise armies. It is inadequate for us to build new fleets to overthrow this Colossus unless we sail to Calcutta. That is the place to strike.

Sat 22nd Oct 1796

Notice, 21st October 1796 – the trade in arms, ammunition and military stores in the Company’s jurisdiction is granted to the Company and those people licensed by the Governor-in-Council alone. This includes saltpetre.

It applies to English or Indian residents and to all nationalities of ship registry. Recently several people have been found to be exporting these illicit goods without a permit from the Customs-Master.

In future any illicit exports will be confiscated and the people responsible will be prosecuted. They will lose their licence to reside in India on conviction. All persons giving information to the Company will receive 25 – 50% of the value of the goods seized as a result of their information. Information is to be given to the Customs-Masters or anyone in charge of an arsenal.

Sat 22nd Oct 1796

Notice – The Calcutta Government is offering 12% interest on an extraordinary issue of Promissory Notes valid one year with an option for the Company to extend their validity a further 12 months. The minimum subscription is 500 rupees.[30]

Sat 29th Oct 1796

Sheriff’s sales on 9th – 12th November for non-payment of rates by Bhimjee Ramsett, Wiswanain Bhimjee, Ragoba Rangajee and others. Their following properties have been seized and are offered for sale:

  • On 9th November – Two houses in Borah Street now occupied by the Ramsett family .
  • On 10th November – The Marada coconut plantation at Breach Road with the house on it and an agricultural lot on Salsette Island between the villages of Ghorebunder and Cassey.
  • On 11th November – A piece of waste land at Byculla the property of Mrs Anne Brome; a lot with sheds belonging to Andrew Nesbitt, and the land called Malcondum at Omercurry.
  • On 12th November – Four coconut groves at Mahim.

Sat 5th Nov 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for October:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 35,278 rupees;

Promissory Notes expired this month 15,944 rupees;

New 6% Notes issued 2,306 rupees;

Notes in circulation 4,761,204 rupees.

Sat 19th Nov 1796

Public Notice – the Governor-General has a temporary cashflow difficulty. The shortage of money in Bengal is increasing. The non-availability of specie means property cannot be converted to cash except on ruinous terms. We do not know where all the silver has gone.

The Governor General has authorised each Presidency to sell 31-day Sight Bills. He offers 100 Sicca Rupees for every 100 Bombay Rupees (no interest but effectively 1% a month on the favorable exchange rate). You can chose Bills payable by the Governor General or the Collector of Murshedabad. Three month’s notice will be given to investors should the Company cease to require this funding.

Sat 3rd Dec 1796

Bombay Promissory Notes account for Nov:

Notes discharged this month 20,000 rupees;

New 6% Notes issued 112,850 rupees;

Balance in circulation 4,854,054 rupees.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

The scarcity of money in the Company’s territories is very inconvenient. Where has all the silver gone? India is at peace and trade is increasing. We hope the government’s 12% loan will be revoked soon – it has soaked-up what little silver remained for ordinary exchange.

All the Company’s paper (the 6% Notes, what is left of the 8%s and the recent 12% short loan) are now all selling at a discount. There is no money left.


All the 1797 editions of the newspaper are missing.


Sat 6th Jan 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for December 1797:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 8,000 rupees;

Promissory Notes expiring this month 12,500 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 11,695 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 4,500,202 rupees.

Sat 6th Jan 1798

Notice 29th December (published in English and Gujerati. Hereafter Bombay government advertisements for tenders are bilingual):

The Treasury in Bombay, the Chief and Council of Surat and the Commissioners on the Malabar coast are all authorised to receive loans from the public of at least 500 rupees which will earn 12% per annum for one or two years certain but not exceeding four years. Government reserves the right to pay off all principal and interest at any time after the first year by substituting 6% Promissory Notes. All repayments will be made at Bombay.

Sat 27th Jan 1798

Interest on the Company’s 9% notes will be paid during February – April as each certificate reaches its anniversary.

Sat 27th Jan 1798

The Grand Mughal has interviewed Sir John Shore and acceded to the latter’s request he lend the Company 5 million rupees (>£600,000). Terms are unknown. The silver is required by the ministry at home.

Sat 27th Jan 1798

The Company’s extraordinary bullion remittances to London to relieve the shortages at the Bank of England have left India short of cash. It is a rare course of action for a commercial company. Here are the prices of Company paper in Bombay this week:

The Company’s debt paper: Buy Sell
12% notes par 8% discount
3% notes 12% disc 14% disc
Company Bonds 14% disc 14.8% disc
6% notes 19% disc 19.8% disc

Sat 3rd Feb 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for January:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for 6% Promissory Notes 32,458 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

Amount in circulation 4,457,262 rupees.

Sat 17th Feb 1798

Letter from the Directors, 9th May 1797 – the 5% duty we charge on all types of gold imported to India is cancelled with immediate effect.[31]

Sat 3rd March 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes, account for February:

Governor-General’s Certificates exchanged for Bills on London 16,397 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for 6% Promissory Notes 51,009 rupees;

New Promissory Notes issued 12,598 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

Balance in circulation 4,392,996 rupees.

Sat 3rd March 1798

Proclamation of the Bombay Governor-in-Council, 16th February:

The military incurs expenses on Company account but does not submit details until long after. There is no reasonable explanation given for the delays. The extent of the problem makes our accounting to London imprecise.

In future, to preserve validity for repayment, all bills must be submitted within eight days of the end of the month in which they were incurred.

Sat 10th March 1798

The cashflow difficulty in India is continuing:

Purchasers at the Company’s General Sales at Bombay and Surat of August 1797 will get a 5% discount on agreed prices on the goods they clear if they pay before 31st March.

Sat 17th March 1798

Government Notice, 9th March – The 5% rate on all buildings in Bombay for last year 1797 / 98 and the coming year 1798 / 99 will be collected now.

If payment is not made in 8 days, your land and buildings will be sold.

Sat 17th March 1798

Asiatic Mirror 21st February – The results of the Governor-General’s recent acts to engross the circulating currency are becoming apparent. Reports from Lucknow say 1.4 million Rupees has been remitted from there to Calcutta and a considerable amount more is expected. The native hoarders of silver are being persuaded that Calcutta offers a safe and profitable haven for their wealth.[32]

Sat 24th March 1798

The Company’s ships Princess Amelia and Woodcote have completed loading Surat cotton here and will sail from Bombay for the Malabar coast to complete their cargoes with pepper shipments before sailing to London.

Sat 31st March 1798

Company’s paper trading at Madras:

  • Bengal Bills of Exchange at Sight are 385 rupees per 100 pagodas.
  • Bencoolen debt certificates are at 22% discount.

Sat 7th April 1798

March account of Bombay Promissory Notes:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 400 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Promissory Notes 5,000 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 4,166 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 4,381,762 Rupees.

Sat 28th April 1798

Government Notice, 13th April – The cost of the Company’s civil service is unknown. Every department is to prepare a list of all the people employed in it with their names, salaries and other emoluments and send it to the Civil Auditor’s Office. Every covenanted employee is to give a statement of his monthly, annual and other allowances from every office he holds.

Sat 5th May 1798

April account of Bombay Promissory Notes:

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 4,191 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 4,375,955 rupees.

Sat 12th May 1798

Government Notice, 1st May:

A three year lease of the monopoly of the tobacco farm for Salsette will be sold at auction by the Collector-General on 25th May.

The farm for the monopoly sale of toddy and spiritous liquors on Salsette Island for three years will be sold at the same time.

The Company’s lease on its coconut plantations on Salsette are also for sale.

Sat 19th May 1798

To relieve ship owners and advance commerce, new rules of the Port of Bombay are enacted:

The 20% duty on all timber and marine stores of Indian origin for shipbuilding is abandoned. In future ship owners will pay the Company a one-off charge of 1,000 rupees for every 100 tons of shipping constructed in the port.

Items coming into the docks for the repair of ships will be taxed at 10%. The fees for the dock facilities remain at 200 or 300 rupees per vessel depending on size.

Sat 19th May 1798

Government Notice, 15th May:

The Company receives husked rice (batty) from Salsette and Caranja as part of its revenue from the land-owners at those places. It invites sealed proposals for the sale and purchase of Salsette batty. Purchasers may offer to buy one, two or three year’s supply and from one or more islands.

Successful purchasers will be required to collect the batty themselves and pay all import, export and transit duties applicable to this type of grain.

Sat 26th May 1798

The shortage of specie in England which caused the Bank of England to cease payments is being addressed by the power centres close to government.

As a part of its own contribution to mitigate national embarrassment, the India Company’s Public Department has issued the following declaration on 18th October 1797:

We wish to encourage people to send silver from India to China and buy Bills on us there. We have ordered the Select Committee at Canton to fix the exchange rate on one year Sight Bills at 5/6d per ‘old head’ (King Carlos) Spanish dollar for the next two seasons. We prefer people to buy 2 year Bills and will pay 5/10½d per dollar for those investments.

This will reduce the amount of silver the Company itself has to pay to China for tea and stimulate Indian exporters to ship Indian goods to China and convert the proceeds of their sale into Company Bills.[33]

Sat 2nd June 1798

May account of Bombay Promissory Notes:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 5,000 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for 6% Promissory Notes 71,673 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,001 rupees;

No new Promissory Notes issued;

Balance in circulation 4,289,280 rupees.

Sat 30th June 1798

Notice 26th June – The Company is selling or leasing its plantations on Caranja Island. The sale price will relate to the historical value of production on the island, using the Company’s figures for 1796 / 97 season. The lease price is determined on a lease of 21 years whereafter the island will revert to the Company.

Offers for all or part of the plantations are acceptable. Submit them before 27th July. Tenderers should attach details of suitable securities for farming the lands

Sat 30th June 1798

A meeting was called by Nathan Crow, the Bombay Sheriff, last Thursday to solicit voluntary contributions to the war effort in Europe. He said the Company’s dignity and security in India were so intimately connected with the British Crown that politically we had to support both. He wished to avoid any patriotic gestures being misunderstood by the natives as desperation. When that had been understood, Henshaw was elected Chairman and proposed liberal donations.

P Hall alluded to the happiness Englishmen enjoyed under their political system and the need for unanimity and patriotism to support it. Colonel Bellasis gave his zealous support. Then the following resolution was adopted:

We will collect voluntary subscriptions from every person in the Presidency regardless of rank or nationality. A committee is formed. All the collections will be paid to the Company’s Treasury in first instance, and when a considerable sum has been collected, the best way of remitting it would be considered. Subscription books are opened at the Secretary’s Office in Bombay Castle; at the Adjutant General’s office and at the Superintendent of Marine’s office.

The Governor, CiC and other members of Council immediately subscribed 69,000 rupees. The men of the 75th regiment (European) followed with a donation of one month’s pay. This obliged their officers to do likewise.

Sat 7th July 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for June:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bills on London 1,826 rupees;

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 91,613 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New issues nil;

Balance in circulation 4,185,840 rupees.

Sat 7th July 1798

Mr Henshaw has imported a machine that compresses and bales cotton. It is the invention of M/s Bramah and Sabatier. It incorporates two inventions which the designers have patented – one is a steam-powered press producing a closing pressure of 212 tons, the other maintains pressure on the cotton after it is removed from the press by means of iron bars and wooden planks. Henshaw expects his 196 lb bales will in future occupy no more than 5 cu ft.

The Company is generously supporting Henshaw. It has given him a piece of land opposite the mayor’s court to erect the machine and has passed an Act applying a duty of 1% on all Bombay cotton sent to England that has been baled by this machine. This will be collected by the Company and shared with Henshaw for the first 14 years.

Sat 28th July 1798

The Company is raising another loan, irredeemable for ten years, paying 10% a year on the following terms:

  • Interest payable annually in arrears in cash or 15 month Bills on London at 2/6d per Bombay Rupee.
  • Principal repayable after ten years in cash or Bills as above, with an option for the Company to delay repayment for 1 – 2 years
  • Subscriptions will be received in Bombay Presidency at Surat, Malabar or Anjengo of not less than 1,000 Bombay Rupee equivalent. The date of receipts issued in those dependencies will mark the commencement of the loan for interest payments.

This is the final repudiation of the Company’s legislative duty to reduce debt under the renewed Charter terms of a few years ago. The money is to help the home government fight the war.[34]

Sat 28th July 1798

The voluntary subscription in Bombay to support the home government has resulted in a first payment being sent off to London on 8th July. It was sent as Bills on the Admiralty for £4,000 by the Royal Navy representative at Bombay (Philip Dundas) to Henry Dundas for the Treasury.

Sat 4th Aug 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for July:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 49,769 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged this month 10,800 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued nil;

Balance in circulation 4,134,271 rupees.

Sat 11th Aug 1798

The liquor monopoly for Caranja Island is for renewal. It is for three years w.e.f. 1st September. Terms will continue the same as enjoyed by the present holder, Burjorjee Coverjee. Send your bids to Bombay Fort (the government office).

Sat 18th August 1798

Government Notice – Anyone buying 100,000+ rupees of 6% Promissory Notes will get a special deal. If you deposit your money before 20th September, your Promissory Notes will be endorsed ‘transferable to the Bengal Register debt’ and qualify for exchange into 18 month Bills on London at 2/2½d per rupee.

No other Promissory Notes will be issued throughout the period of this offer.

Sat 25th Aug 1798

The voluntary subscriptions to the European war effort have reached £50,000 at Calcutta. Everyone is chipping-in.

The Governor-General will authorise collections throughout Bengal, Bihar and Orissa i.e. at the sub-treasury at Calcutta, the Residency at Lucknow, the Collectors at all the revenue stations and the military paymasters in the interior. They will all open subscription books.

As funds accumulate they will be remitted by Bills on London at the special exchange rate of 2/6d per Sicca Rupee.

Sat 1st Sept 1798

The Bombay President Duncan says applications for Bills on Bengal (the 10% special loan) has reached the maximum Bombay is permitted to send. He will issue 6% Promissory Notes that are transferable to the Bengal account at the current exchange rate (Bombay rupee to Sicca rupee) to meet the demand.

Sat 1st Sept 1798

195,000 Rupees of voluntary subscriptions has been collected in this Presidency for the British government.

Sat 8th Sept 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for August:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 47,761 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged this month 10,278 rupees;

New Promissory Notes issued 12,000 rupees;

Balance in circulation 4,088,231 rupees.

Sat 8th Sept 1798

Voluntary subscriptions from residents in Bombay Presidency to the British war chest have reached 244,000 rupees.

Sat 15th Sept 1798

The merchants (John Spencer, James Hartley, Alexander Dow, Joshua Uhthoff, etc) and the garrison of Calicut have voluntarily subscribed 50,000 rupees for the British war effort. Bengal has collected £89,000; Madras 138,000 Gold Pagodas.

Sat 22nd Sept 1798

The front page of this edition contains details of collections for the voluntary subscriptions to the war. They involve mainly military staff in Bombay, Malabar (Cotta Peramba), Tellicherry and Cannanore.

£100,000 has been remitted to London in Company Bills so far.

Sat 29th Sept 1798

The freight rates for goods from / to England that are freighted on Company ships under the temporary dispensation to private merchants is fixed per ton for this coming season at £7.10.0d from London and £22.10.0d from Indian ports for the return leg.

Sat 29th Sept 1798

The value of voluntary contributions from Bombay and its dependencies has reached 2¾ million Rupees.

Sat 6th Oct 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for September:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Promissory Notes 54,881 rupees;

Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 37,840 rupees;

Balance in circulation (of Notes issued since 1793 and expiring before 1799) 4,061,189 rupees.

Sat 13th Oct 1798

The trade of India to Europe is largely in the hands of the Company and somewhat in the hands of neutrals like the Americans and Danes. English residents in India have historically got worse treatment than neutrals but the Company is persuaded by war and law to relax its monopoly.

It is intended that all ships built in British India will soon qualify for a Company licence to ship Asian goods to London. It will no longer be necessary to freight goods on Company ships at onerous freight rates and inconvenient times. The India ships will be allowed to bring back a cargo of British manufactures or silver. This should result in England recovering a large share of the traffic that has hitherto been handled by neutrals.

Sat 27th Oct 1798

The voluntary contributions at end September – Bengal £128,193; Madras 192,200 Star Pagodas; Bombay 294,853 Rupees. Native troops, particularly the 12th and 13th regiments, are subscribing as well.

Bombay is giving part of the collection to the Royal Navy in return for Bills on the Navy Board which young Philip Dundas, son of Henry, has sent to the Treasury from ‘the British inhabitants of Bombay’.

Sat 3rd Nov 1798

Bombay Promissory Notes account for October:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Bengal Promissory Notes 60,624 rupees;

Old Promissory Notes discharged 10,000 rupees;

New 6% Promissory Notes issued 34,062 rupees;

Balance in circulation 4,024,626 rupees.

Sat 3rd Nov 1798

Two of the Company’s Indiamen are sailing to Malabar to load this year’s pepper cargo for London.

An innovation in the Company’s usual arrangements has occurred this year. The fleet has increased to 110 ships. Three extra ships – Malabar, Contractor and Caledonia – are destined uniquely for China and Bengal. Normally the China fleet returns directly to London (an anti-smuggling and revenue protection measure); these will return via Calcutta. The wish is to increase the number of ships that can bring back silver from the East and spread the shipments over more bottoms to mitigate the loss in event of capture.

Sat 10th Nov 1798

Notice, 7th November – The Company will charter ships built and registered in British India for voyages from Bombay to London. Owners will be allowed to carry their own cargoes. The goods must be manifested at the Company’s Export Warehouse.

The Company will maintain its monopoly in respect of tea, Chinese raw silk and Nanking cotton cloth. The Company reserves 1% of the cargo space on the return voyage for stores from London to St Helena for which it will pay £12 per ton in 60-day Sight Bills on London. Each ship will be expected to carry and deliver dispatches for St Helena or London free of charge.

No passengers.

Two securities, not being business partners, are required and their undertakings will accompany your application.

Successful applicants may then bring back any legal goods from London except arms, ammunition and military stores.

Details of the ships, owners, commanders and dates of availability to be sent to the government before 1st January 1799. Government reserves the right to survey any ships and reject any of them without reason .

Sat 2nd Feb 1799

January account of Bombay Promissory Notes:

Governor-General’s certificates exchanged for Promissory Notes 3,836 rupees;

New 6% Bengal Promissory Notes issued 25,098 rupees;

Old Promissory Notes discharged this month 10,000 rupees;

Balance in circulation 3,977,115 rupees.

Sat 9th Feb 1799

For sale – the alcohol monopoly on the island of Caranja for three years commencing 1st March 1800. Terms available from our Resident on the island.

Sat 9th Feb 1799

The Company is opening the sea carriage of salt to outsiders. All British and native residents of Bombay who have built ships on the island, may use those vessels to carry Bombay salt to Calcutta. Ships from Damaun, Surat or elsewhere do not qualify for this concession.

Applications are invited, showing where the salt was made. The Company will pay 57 Sicca rupees per 100 maunds within ten days of production of our godown master’s receipt being issued. The import permit must be surrendered to the godown with the salt. If the quality is poor the ship owner will make good any shortfall sustained at the Company’s monopoly sales. If we find you are bringing foreign salt, you will be expelled as unlicensed traders.

Sat 16th Feb 1799

All those people who buy Company goods and leave them in storage at the Company’s warehouses until required, are offered a special deal – if you clear out your goods now you will get a 9% discount on the storage rates.

The Bombay Presidency is selling off its stock of woollens and metals on 4th March. The deposit required of successful bidders this year will be 10% instead of 5% as previously.

Sat 2nd March 1799

Bombay Promissory Note account for February:

No Promissory Notes were issued or surrendered last month.

The balance in circulation is 3,938,180 rupees.

Sat 9th March 1799

The Danish ship Norge arrived Calcutta on 10th February with $200,000 Spanish for the Danish East India Company.

The Danes at Tranquebar and the Dutch at Chinsura both provide a discreet Bill service for themselves and some of the English whereby money can be forwarded to Europe. It finances their operations. Their income has lessened due to recent British patriotism and the Governor-General’s prodigious effort to mop-up bullion from India and transfer it to London.

Sat 16th March 1799

General Orders – the high price of tobacco at Bombay, a necessary for the natives, deters recruits from joining our army and causes mass desertions when units are brought in to Bombay from the outposts (the Company’s tobacco farm within Bombay is a monopoly and the natives won’t pay the price). An extra quarter rupee a month is to be paid to all native sepoys posted to Bombay as ‘tobacco money’.

Sat 6th April 1799

Bombay Promissory Notes Account for March:

Promissory Notes discharged this month 10,000 rupees;

New Promissory Notes sold or exchanged nil;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 3,928,180 rupees.

Sat 6th April 1799

The tobacco monopoly for the island of Caranja for the next three years will be sold by tender. Apply to the Resident on the Island or the Secretary’s office in Bombay Castle.

Sat 4th May 1799

Bombay Promissory Notes account for April:

Promissory Notes discharged in April 10,000 rupees;

Promissory Notes sold in April nil;

Balance of Promissory Notes outstanding 3,928,180 rupees.


The second half of 1799 and all 1800 is missing from the British Library copy.


Saturday 3rd Jan 1801

Bombay Promissory Notes account for Dec 1800:

Promissory Notes discharged 21,074 rupees;

New 8% Promissory Notes issued 1,192,674 rupees;

Balance of Promissory Notes in circulation 5,788,825 rupees.

Sat 10th Jan 1801

The Bombay Governor is raising a loan from the residents by issuing a new Promissory Note. It is non-transferrable. He will accept cash or 9% or 12% notes or bonds on the Seringapatam loan. Minimum sum is 2,000 rupees.

The Governor will pay a 5% premium to subscribers. 10% interest is payable annually in cash or Bombay Bills or 15-month Bills on London at 2/6d per rupee. The Governor undertakes to give 18 months notice of repayment.

Army officers can transfer funds through their unit paymasters. Instalments are permitted but the whole is to be received before 19th May.

Sat 31st Jan 1801

The Bombay Presidency has received title to the first batty from the annual crop as part of its revenue from the islands of Salsette and Caranja. Its for sale.

Prospective buyers will be required to provide securities to guarantee their performance. They must collect the batty themselves and pay all existing duties on its export, import or transit.

Sat 7th Feb 1801

Bombay Promissory Notes account for January 1801:

Promissory Notes discharged this month 11,459 rupees;

8% Promissory Notes issued 32,556 rupees;

Balance in circulation 5,788,922 rupees.[35]

Sat 14th Feb 1801

Directors’ letter of 11th June 1800 – the freight rates for private traders shipping goods to / from London on our ships, as was permitted in 1793, are continued at £7.10.0 per ton London to India and £22.10.0 India to London.

Sat 28th Feb 1801

Notice – 15 month Bills on London for sale. 4,000 rupees minimum but you can pay by up to five instalments. 9% interest payable from date of receipt.

Sun 1st March 1801 Extraordinary

This edition contains only a Company advertisement in English and Gujerati to buy 30,000 Robins of Canara rice to be delivered in Bombay before 15th April.

All purchases must be approved by the Company’s rice agent. Tenders for all or part are welcomed before 6th March.

Sat 28th March 1801

Mooring fees in Bombay harbour are increased from 2 to 3 rupees per day in the off-season and 6 to 8 rupees per day in the trading season. The last mooring chain we laid is charged for use at the special rate of 350 rupees per month.

This Regulation applies to H M ships as well as merchantmen.

Sat 4th April 1801

Jonathan Duncan, the Bombay Governor, permitted a merchant to ship a few chests of raw Indian silk to London. No precedent was intended.

Actually individuals are prohibited this trade which forms part of the Company’s monopoly. No further permissions will be granted.

Sat 2nd May 1801

Bombay Government advertisement, 27th April – The House of Commons has enacted that for every hundredweight (112 lbs) of rice that a merchant exports before 1st September 1801 from India to England for public sale, he will receive a bounty of the balance in price under £1.12.0d per cwt.[36]

For this purpose the Company will licence private ships coming to India from London for the trade. They may take advantage of the trading permission to bring British exports to India that was previously announced. Ships coming from London under this permission must clear the rice from Customs at Indian port of departure before 1st January 1802. All ships must make a direct voyage with no stopping en route. The ships must load 75% capacity with rice. The balance, if any, must be those goods which private traders are permitted to ship. Quality must be best cargo rice or better. Quality has to be approved by the Company.

The Company offers to loan ship owners the cost of rice and provide 90 day Bills on London for repayment at 2/6d per Sicca Rupee. Company funds are also available to fund imports from London to India. All the goods arriving either in India or London are to be sold at the Company’s own auctions. The usual 3% fee that the Company charges for warehousing and administration will be waived for rice shipments.

If there is no rice in the market, the ships may carry other permitted goods including gruff goods.

Ship owners answering this advertisement must covenant with the Company for performance. If foreign ships from foreign settlements in Asia bring rice to London it will also be acceptable provided it passes the Company’s quality check.

Sat 23rd May 1801

The Promissory Notes that the Presidencies issue are commonly valid for about 6 – 8 years after which period they are incrementally withdrawn.

When holders sell, the Notes are not replaced as local interest rates fluctuate.

The rates since 1793 have been between 6% – 12% depending on Company need (the higher rates have occurred at times of British bullion shortage but there was one short 10% loan to fund the recent fight against Tippoo – called the Seringapatam Loan.

Sat 30th May 1801

Government Notice, 25th May – The South Sea Company’s whale fishery fleet and the convict ships to Botany Bay are both suspected of introducing European goods into India on their voyages out and thus diminishing the Company’s trade monopoly. They are permitted to export goods from Britain but they are supposed to take them to Australia.

The Company strictly regulates the importation of European goods to Asia and has the Chartered monopoly to do so. If anyone is caught, their goods will be confiscated and their licence to trade east of the Cape will be revoked.

Sat 6th June 1801

The Company’s issue of Promissory Notes in Bombay has increased again this year, as it did in 1794 and 1795. The issue in 1799, 1800 and so far this year is again over a million rupees and the outstandings at end May were 7 million Rupees. It seems likely the debts at Madras, Calcutta and elsewhere are also increased.

Sat 13th June 1801

Bombay Castle, 19th June 1801 – The Presidency is issuing Treasury Bills of minimum 300 Bombay Rupees each which pay interest of ¾% per month. They are valid for 12 months unless the Company varies their terms.

Government will issue the Bills in discharge of Bills of Exchange or advances on account of contracts or payments to civil or military personnel (this last is limited to 300 rupees per month).

They may be used in payment of Bills on the Directors or any public loan or at the Company’s sales of its own imported goods or for settlement of Customs dues.

Sat 20th June 1801

The Company receives many complaints about British seamen abandoned in Asian ports by country ships (i.e. those ships owned by private merchants whom the Company has licensed to trade east), often as a result of the sale of the ship. The Directors have enacted a new Regulation.

No sale of a country ship may legally occur except in an English port from whence the crew may easily take passage to return to their homes.

The Company’s covenants with owners of country ships are unilaterally modified. No sales of country ships to Americans or other foreign persons or companies is allowed without a special licence from the Governor of the Presidency where the ship is registered. No sale of a country ship can be legally made in Asia unless it occurs in a British Indian port. 13th June 1801.

Sat 20th June 1801

The Bombay Governor-in-Council has from time to time permitted the import of goods to Bombay without payment of the legal Customs duty. That practice has now ceased and no future exemptions will be allowed. 5th June 1801

Sat 20th June 1801

Last November and December the Revenue Court of Tannah gave judgement to Bhosker Dadajee, who holds the Company’s monopoly for sale of tobacco, snuff and cannabis in Bombay, against three cheroot farmers (also Parsees). He won the Revenue judgment and issued a Writ of Fieri Facias.

The Defendants’ assets are being sold on 6th July to provide a settlement fund for Plaintiff’s claim. The Defendants’ lands and houses will be sold by auction and the proceeds paid into the Court within fourteen days.

By order of H W Diggle, Registrar, Tannah.

Sat 1st Aug 1801

The fishing monopoly at Broach is up for renewal for one year. The successful contractor will settle the agreed sum in quarterly payments to the Company starting 1st October 1801.

Sat 22nd Aug 1801

10th August 1801 – The Company is offering all land on Salsette for long lease. Buyers will have full rights to sell, bequeath or mortgage the land subject only to a fixed revenue payable annually to the Company. The amount of ground rent will equate with the former grain assessment (that part of the harvest that was due to the Company as tax) and is payable in money or in grain.

The Company’s exchange rate for grain production is 20 rupees per moorah of white rice and 15 rupees for black.[37]

The amount of assessment will be written in the Deeds and fixed in perpetuity. The value of the production applicable in the new leases will run for ten years certain. All increase in production during that time is for the enjoyment of the leaseholder.

Sat 22nd Aug 1801

9-month Bills of Exchange on London are for sale at 2/6d per rupee. The Company might unilaterally extend the term to 12 months by payment of 5% interest on the extension.

Sat 29th Aug 1801

The farm for the provision of arrack on Salsette is for sale at auction for three years from 19th October 1801. Terms will duplicate the previous contract.

Sat 14th Nov 1801

The Bombay Governor in Council has proclaimed that silver coins have become scarce and commerce is impeded. We have minted small gold coins which rank pari passu with the silver Rupee in value. These are legal tender for all sorts of exchange at Bombay, Surat and Malabar. The new coin is 92 touch, exactly like the Gold Mohur we minted in 1800 and 1801 at Bombay. 15 of these new coins weigh 1 Tola (11.66 grammes)

Sat 19th Dec 1801

The Governor-General has made another treaty with the Nawab Vizier of Oudh on 10th November at Lucknow. The negotiation was conducted by the Governor-General’s brother Henry Wellesley and Lt Colonel William Scott.

The Nawab cedes to the Company half the province of Oudh producing an annual revenue of 13.5 million Rupees in commutation of the subsidy hitherto paid by the Nawab to the Company to enjoy our protection. The principal revenue–earning lands ceded are Chucklah, Chucklah-Corah, Chucklah-Etawa, Kurrah, Barielly, Asophabad and Keelpoory.

Henry Wellesley becomes Lt Governor of the new lands. Scott becomes Resident at the Nawab’s Court.[38]

Sat 23rd Jan 1802

On 29th January the Company will auction all the trees on Butcher’s Island for ready money. The trees are to be felled and removed within a month of purchase.

Sat 13th Feb 1802

Passengers’ baggage on Indiamen sailing to London has become too bulky. A recent sailing had 63 tons of passenger baggage. In future passengers are permitted a bed, a sofa or two chairs and 2 – 5 tons of baggage depending on rank. One half of this allowance is permitted for accompanying wives, if travelling alone wives get 2/3rds. All baggage in excess of this allowance will be charged as freight at the Charter Party rate per ton.

Sat 20th Feb 1802

The Bombay presidency is raising a loan. The advert is dated 18th February 1802. You can make your investments at the Treasuries in Bombay or Surat or to the Residents at Malabar, Anjengo or Basra.

Minimum loan is 500 rupees – cash or Treasury Bills. A premium of 5% is available on all payments.

In return the Company will issue a new Promissory Note at 8% annual interest, payable twice yearly in cash (or in 15-month Bills on London at 2/6d per rupee so you can have the interest paid here or in London.) The term is at least 18 months.

Sat 10th April 1802

The issue of Promissory Notes by Bombay Presidency has increased. The value collected so far in the 1801 / 02 financial year is 2,746,201 rupees.

Sat 10th April 1802

The 8% loan that the Company advertised on 19th Feb has closed today.

Sat 10th April 1802

The Company’s salt pans at Mahalon on Caranja are being sold by public auction on 14th April at the Collector’s Office on Caranja.

On 20th April the lease on the ferry connection from Caranja to Bombay will also be sold by auction together with exclusive use of the boat presently used. Terms are three years certain commencing 1st May 1802.

Apply to Richard Church, Caranja Collector.

Sat 17th April 1802

Sir William Pulteney has proposed closer trade links between London and India as envisaged under Clause 81 of the 1793 Charter.[39] He says the use of India-built ships by British merchants would save money and British timber. By making all India ships call only at London, it would support the merchants of that port. He noted that the restraint on Indian country ships at London had diverted their trade to other ports.

The ministry says it is imperative to use Indian teak in ship construction for the navy. Earl St Vincent has been unequivocal on this subject. The supply of English timber is not restricted by building ships in India. The freight on such ships should provide a great saving to government. The best Calicut teak only costs 30 Rupees per covid. Coir from the Laccadives is 80 Rupees per maund. Malaya Dammer (a vegetable resin used as tar in Indian ship-building) is 25 Rupees per maund (same price as a single barrel of tar).

Lord Glenbervie said India-built ships should have their own register.

Addington seems agreeable to Indian ships being used in private trade – it creates more employment for British seaman although they will mainly be crewed with Lascars. Addington noted the Company had not provided the facilities it was required to provide under the 1793 Act (the opening of Indian trade to British merchants) and this allowed parliamentary intervention to wring concessions from the Company to private traders.

The 1793 Charter renewal committed the Company to liberate private trade in India but the Directors have frustrated it at every turn and their decisions are always confirmed by the shareholders. As the Company is implacable and uncompromising, Pulteney made a motion that private trade to Asia be extended by legislation.

History – The first Charter gave exclusive trade to / from India to the Company for the purpose of raising money. Another Company also made the attempt and the two were later joined, whereupon all individuals were excluded from Asian trade for having inadequate capital. The Company then became sovereign over an extent of territory and fell into that inevitable trap of sovereign trade from which no advantage to anyone is derived. Fox had proposed removing control of the Company from the shareholders and vesting it in the government but that was thought to be unconstitutional. Instead Pitt placed the Company under the regulation of a Board of Control which was supposed to direct the Directors by censoring every dispatch they sent to India.

However the Board had no control over the Company’s commerce unless it affected territorial sovereignty. That was the state-of-play in 1793. It was notorious that great fortunes were made illicitly by employees of the Company (called ‘the nabobs’ in the British press) which they necessarily remitted to Europe through foreign bankers to hide their own venality. These illicit funds enabled the foreign countries receiving them (mainly Denmark, the Netherlands and France) to expand their own Indian trade to the overall national disadvantage of England.

At the 1793 renewal the Company was vociferously opposed to private trade. The Company’s attitude to private trade was always formally to repudiate it whilst the Governors of India, one after the other, requested greater facilities for private traders to remit their capital to England. In 1798 Wellesley told the Directors he had unavoidably allowed private traders to sent capital to England in India-built ships. No disadvantage occurred to the Company in the result but in 1799 the Directors expressly ordered the Governor not to do it again. They did not assign a reason. That year Wellesley was disabled from permitting it but in 1800 he imperatively needed to do so. The Directors made strong objections and it was clear they intended to cripple private trade in any way that worked. This is why the matter is now before parliament.

The trade of the Company is in two parts – the China trade which was solely commercial and the India trade which, as sovereign, it had always carried on to disadvantage. It was well known that the shipping chartered by the Company was inadequate for the full extent of available trade. Out of the whole trade of Indian goods imported to England, £4.3 millions was re-exported of which £2.2 millions was in the hands of foreigners. Obviously the Company’s commercial regulations leak like a sieve, or enforcement of them is partial, otherwise how could foreigners get such substantial access.

The ministry was not proposing a free trade to / from India but every attempt to loosen Company controls was treated as such. Thus British subjects were denied access whilst foreigners took a large share of the business prohibited to Englishmen. As a result of Company policy, the French port of L’Orient imported £2.5 millions of India goods in 1793. The war has since substantially reduced French trade with India but other foreigners (the Neutrals – America, Denmark, Sweden, etc.) still did it whilst British private merchants continued to be excluded by the Company.

The fact is that 30 Directors resolved to exclude the private British merchant from India trade and a Court of 250 shareholders upheld that decision. This act was completely opposed to the advice London receives from every returning Governor of the Indian Presidencies. Henry Dundas, who knows a thing or two about India, holds the same opinions as the Governors.

The Company’s response to the proposals of government was threefold with a caveat:

1/ our capital is being increased by £2 millions and these extra funds will permit greater trade for the Company and less for the foreigners;

2/ We cannot do anything immediately until we have more capital. If we take it from our expenditure in other branches of activity, the existing level of British trade will be diminished;

3/ if individual British traders are encouraged, colonisation will ensue and the even tenor of Indian social life will be disrupted by foreign enclaves,

4/ and cave the dangers of permitting large numbers of Lascar crewmen to come to England

Pulteney says the Company has already warded against colonisation. No-one may go to India without a licence from the Company and no-one may own land in India except the Company.

The Company says it is by the sacrifice of health of its employees in India that the present level of trade is maintained. It says it is well-known that the Indian climate is unsuitable for British people and they must return to recuperate after a few years. It would appear on its own argument that there is no danger of colonisation.

There would be no difficulty in providing ships with European crews now the war is over and Royal Navy manning is being reduced. It is also the case that fine timbers are available in India at remarkably low prices and the ships built there are of the highest quality and workmanship. Those tropical hardwoods would be welcomed in England where the repair of ships has become a more lucrative business than actually building them. Now we are at peace, we should secure the Indian trade before France makes a return to that market.

Pulteney proposed a committee be formed to rigorously examine the situation and Jones seconded.

Pitt said Pulteney had elucidated the situation clearly. He referred to 1793 when the Charter had last been renewed. Prior to that renewal, private trade with India was held to be injurious to British national interests. The 1793 Charter recognised private trade for the first time and permitted it under restrictions. A stated tonnage was required to be provided by the Company for private traders and a mechanism for the Board of Control to adjust that tonnage was also provided. The private trade received no encouragement from the Directors but nevertheless expanded. The increase in 1794 was substantial and in each year since then there had been a slight increase. If private trade was promoted by the Company Pitt thought it would increase very quickly.

Pulteney had adopted Wellesley’s opinion to promote his argument. Wellesley had encouraged the trade. He had suggested using all the shipping engaged in the expedition to Egypt to carry private trade from India to London when they concluded their military duties. The Directors have agreed to that and in 1802 agreed to authorise the Governor to supply any deficiency in the needs of private traders to carry their goods home. Pitt thought it thus appeared that the private trade was being adequately well cared for until Wellesley’s plan is reviewed. It seems to show that the Directors are willing to assist the private trade. Dundas is an expert on India and he supports private trade too.

Addington said there was a polarisation of opinion, for and against private trade, and the best policy is to compromise in the middle ground between the contending views. Until 1793, the private trade was abandoned to foreigners and that was why L’Orient got so much of it. His main question was whether the Company had given the encouragement to private trade that it was required to give under the Charter. He thought they had not but they might do so in the future.

This private trade makes use of capital accumulated by Company employees, civil and military, who invest their wealth either in Company debt paper or in private trade through making interest-bearing deposits with the Agency Houses. The capital of employees has greatly increased in recent years.[40]

The private trader requires a licence from the Company which permits him to deal in all the range of fine goods and all the coarse goods (coffee, sugar, indigo, etc.) after the Company has made its own purchases of fine and coarse goods. The Company thus retains the best goods for its own trade. It also restricts trade in military stores like saltpetre to its own account. The Agency Houses of India can buy everything that a foreigner can buy. The only difference is that the foreigner needs no Company licence for his trade.

Addington thought, as a generalisation, that British private traders were not discriminated against and got as good a deal as foreign traders.

The importance of Indian trade to England was for our merchants and for our navy. The Directors had assured ministers that they will encourage ship-building in India to take advantage of the low timber prices and labour rates. These ships will be supplied to England where timber has become ruinously expensive (the owners of British forests have cartelised themselves).

There was a difference between the Governor-General and Directors on this – the Governor-General wanted India-built ships used for private trade whilst the Directors insist that British-built ships be exclusively used. This difference may be readily resolved by obtaining agreement between the parties to use the cheapest ships, wherever they were built.

Addington wanted to give this plan a chance before re-considering the rights of the private trade of India. He knew the private trade required little capital, involved little risk and produced great profits. The country should focus on retaining profitable business and allow foreigners the less-profitable business. The great attraction to promotion of private trade to India is that it would make London stronger as the exclusive emporium of Indian goods in Europe.

However Addington noted the Directors remained sceptical of the utility of increasing private trade. They said Lascar sailors would cause trouble in London and British traders would emigrate to India and disturb the natives by introducing their own religious and social habits. He thought both fears groundless but he conceded to the Company the right to form its own proposals for a permanent system which would make a basis for discussion.

Johnstone said the concession required of the Company had been mis-stated. It was said the ships that took the expedition to Egypt would suffice for the private trade from India to London in 1802 and 1803. The tonnage sent to Egypt was about 40,000 tons of which half had already returned to India; some other ships were merely local charters and uninvolved in the calculation and what remained would assuredly be inadequate for private trade. He wished to know if the Company was willing to provide other shipping for private trade.

Addington said the Company had agreed to everything it could to ensure adequate shipping was made available.

Johnstone said the plan for private trade has been agitated every year since 1798. It had been allowed in a time of national desperation in 1796 but the Company says private trade will ruin its own business. This whole thing about private trade is just the latest manifestation of the differing interests of the Company and its employees. The staff in India want private trade to grow their own capital; the Directors in London do not for the same reason.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to think the private trade of India is merely a remittance trade, a means of transferring accumulated capital from India to England.

Johnstone disputed the minister’s belief that British and foreign traders were on an equal footing in trade. He said the British Agency Houses had a vast array of administrative requirements placed on them by the Company which never inconvenienced the foreign traders. Johnstone opposed colonisation because he feared the natives would learn how we derive our strength and become ungovernable as a result. They are many and we are few. They might well seek to eject us if they knew how to do it.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the Company would accede to stated terms but would preserve its legal rights.

Wallace characterised the debate as an attack on the Company’s monopoly. The House was being asked to approve a private trade, exclusive of the capital of the Company, which trade was to be brought home in private India-built ships. At present the Company monopolises the trade but private merchants, seeing the fabulous profitability of the monopoly wanted to share in it.

This matter is already before the Board of Control but Pulteney has introduced it here and applied for the papers. It looks like an attempt to pre-judge the issue before the results of the Board’s enquiry are available. The Board is not empowered to investigate the Company’s trade but the Board distinguishes the trade of private Britons from the Company’s trade and believes itself authorised to examine the prospects of the former.

The Directors see this as a purely commercial question which should not involve the Board (although they refer to the private trade as a matter of great national importance). He concluded that the House was the only forum that could properly resolve the matter.

Sir Francis Baring said the claim to private trade had been made by people who owe everything they own to the Company – like children contending with parents. Baring believed the Directors had been reliable trustees of British interests in Asia. He believed none of the Directors were involved in private trade.

The 1793 Charter had sought to encourage export markets for British manufactures and 3,000 tons had been allowed each year. At that time the Directors had offered double if that would satisfy the private traders – they merely wanted to know the limits so they could plan accordingly. The Directors inevitably opposed the use of teak-ships with Lascar crews and preferred British oak-ships with British crews.

The private traders say, if they are indulged, they will capture the trade of foreigners in India and bring it to London. They conceive they would trade more cheaply than the foreigners. This is contentious. We have documents for some shipments that show British private trade is not cheaper than foreign-carried trade – the reverse is the case.

The British merchants also argue that as private trade increases, foreign-carried trade will diminish. The statistics do not support this argument either. The returns for 1799 and 1800 show the private trade increasing but the foreign trade nearly doubled in the same period and both these increases appear to be reflected in diminished Company trade. It is highly arguable that our private trade does not interfere with foreign trade but is taken from the Company’s trade.

Baring also objected to the use of teak ships – the only people to buy large timbers in England is the Company (actually the ship owners who build to the Company’s specifications). The Navy Board offers too little to attract landowners into making the very long investments necessary to harvest large timber (the Navy buys its timber in the Baltic). If the Company stops buying large timbers, no-one will replant the forests and domestic timber will become unavailable in this country. The Company disagreed with Wellesley on this point. The Company always sought to promote the export of British manufactures whenever the natives of India could be induced to take them (even at prime cost).

Metcalfe said that an illegal private trade had existed for years under foreign flags. It was run by Englishmen in India through their connections in London. Austrian, Danish, Tuscan and Genoese ships were used for the trade and, on one memorable occasion, he recalled there had been 50,000 tons of foreign shipping at Calcutta pursuing this private trade. It was only controlled in war by British warships and the Company’s Governor of St Helena who interdicted the trade and confiscated some ships.

Baring observed that Wellesley had been uninformed about India until he got there and he evolved his opinion about private trade within two weeks of arrival. He thought the Governor-General had been imposed upon by certain residents in India who induced his recommendation to the Directors. It is a Chartered right of the Company to insist that no ships be used in Indian trade that are not Company ships.

Dundas did not go so far as Wellesley – he just noted that parliament should discourage British capital being brought home in foreign ships. Baring said the Company’s Directors were principled men and did not act from self-interest. Pitt’s 1793 Act certainly gained important advantages for the Company but he did not like to hear MPs talk of the ‘spirit of the Act’ when the words were precise and clear. This private trade is a backdoor whereby the Company is being divested of its advantages in trade, advantages this House has guaranteed by Charter. The attack was being made by people who owe their fortunes to the Company and to the opportunities they receive from that employment.

Baring noted that Charters were commonly disrespected in the British system – a capitalist had recently proposed to establish a new National Bank to rival the Bank of England – perhaps the Charter of the City of London would in future be amended as well, he mused.

The private traders say the Company always objected to teak ships but in point of fact the only two ships that the Company actually owns are both made of teak (they are the Company’s warships. The trading fleet is all chartered shipping, mainly from London ship owners)

Baring concluded by saying that the ministerial approval of this motion was so opposed to the future prospects of the Company that he had been selling off his stock in the Company and in the these two weeks had disposed of £20,000.

William Dundas produced papers to suggest that both the private and Company trade had increased of late years. He denied Baring’s suggestion that only one or the other could survive. He noted that at the time Wellesley had been persuaded to recommend opening trade to private merchants, there had been 50,000 tons of foreign shipping at Calcutta and if he had not opened trade to private merchants, everything that season would have been shipped back to Europe in foreign bottoms (he later said the 50,000 tons of shipping was a more recent occurrence noted in the latest accounts of the Company). He concluded by noting that teak was approved for ship-building by the Navy and the Company had offered to ship back to London whatever quantities of teak beams and planks were needed.

Metcalfe spoke again. He said Britain should not exclude foreign shipping from India entirely. Our Navigation Laws have involved us in disputes with every country in Europe and with the Americans and the subject will have to be discussed in detail in the peace talks. Our decision will influence the likely duration of the peace.

Jones said the situation of the Company, and particularly its debts, required an enquiry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says the Directors have given every encouragement to private trade but it did not appear to extend to that particular trade envisaged in the 1793 Act. This matter is merely a grievance of the Company’s employees against their employer.

Tierney said Charters are not immutable. The paramount concern is for the interests of the British people as a whole. When the Legislature grants or renews a Charter, it represents the people in achieving a balance of interests. But he did note that the judicial arrangements in India, made subsequent to the Charter, were not found to be sufficient cause to amend the Charter itself but were made the subject of separate legislation. The 1793 Act was clear and competently drafted. That Act left the monopoly with the Company subject to two restrictions:

1/ that the profits of the Company be limited and, when they exceed that limit, the public shares in the excess, and

2/ the provision of 3,000 tons of Company shipping for the imports and exports of the private traders.

The only basis, on which the Legislature might interfere, was if the Company had mismanaged its business and affected the public interest. Tierney said there were about 300 people in the whole country who supported the Company’s view – 250 shareholders supported it and 40-50 others had signed the petition. Apart from them, there were no men of commerce who wanted to disturb the existing arrangements. He had already noted the reluctance of parliament to amend Charters mid-term. The persons who promote the free trade measure are invariably Company employees. They had the usual rights of Englishmen but not to particular favours. They say their trade benefits the public and threaten all sorts of disaster if they are denied.

Pulteney has called Dundas and Wellesley to his support and their opinions carry great weight but Dundas was the author of the measure on which this debate is grounded. Dundas had been wrong in 1793 and there was no particular reason to suppose he is right now. Some of his prophecies were far from fulfilment. Does anyone remember the assertion that the Company would pay £500,000 into the public revenue each year or that, by the end of 13 years, the Company would have an extra £18 millions in its treasury, after paying all its debts (both originating with Dundas)?

Tierney’s concern was to maintain the master / servant relationship that should exist between an employer and its employees. It appeared to be the ‘shipping interest’ amongst the Directors (those Directors and Shareholders that owned and operated ships chartered to the Company) that promoted the private trade of the employees.[41] Once an amendment of a Charter is done, there would be a precedent for doing it again and again. Any argument against monopoly, and generally they are all about ‘cheapness’, would cause another amendment.

Would the private traders confine themselves to the port of London as the Company reliably did? This House will receive applications for free trade in India from Bristol and Liverpool and the Irish ports and they will all have to be admitted.

Can these 300 petitioners really bring all the benefits they say they can? The private trade has already increased from £800,000 in 1793 to £2 millions today. The evils of excessive colonisation were a genuine evil to be guarded against. Free trade will worsen that situation.

We have a huge army in India. What would the commanders think of these arrangements – would they see them as tending to their advantage or not?

The free traders talk of advantages to the mother-country but which country is that? A major part of the advantages would accrue to British merchants in India. This motion will transfer a large part of British ship-building industry to India and all this country would get is the repair business – a trifling amount, he thought. Increasing private trade is too great a concession to properly ask of a Company protected by this Legislature under Royal Charter.

Lord Glenbervie disagreed with Tierney about the freedom of parliament to amend the Charter. The Company had departed from the strict construction of its 1793 Charter as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had already indicated. The Legislature might reasonably emulate the Company in this respect. He did not think there was a likely future shortage of British timber nor that India-built ships were inappropriate to British trade. It is not a matter of cheapness – teak ships were fully equivalent to oak ships. The thing is that, once private trade is legally approved, there can be no telling what will happen. We have procured an indulgence from the Company in respect of private trade for the next two years. This is a great advantage to the private merchants with which they should be satisfied for the time being until it is clear how the measure affects our other interests.

Sir William’s motion was then negatived.

Sat 24th April 1802

Clauses 81, 87, 89, 93, 94 and 103 of the Charter are reprinted in a Bombay Government notice advertising the terms of private trade for the 1802 / 03 season. These are the clauses permitting a licensed private trade in India.

The freight rates payable by private merchants under this dispensation are contained in separate Indian Regulations and are onerous.

The Company’s terms require all trade to be settled long before shipment, consequently, no speculations are possible. Private shippers may pay freight in advance or use the Company’s capital and pay a surcharge on delivery at destination. The fee includes high storage costs in the Company’s warehouses and high insurance costs as well as high interest on the loan. Security for the trader’s performance of his contract is required.

The underlying attitude of the Company appears to be that it is granting a favour and that its regulation will increase the private merchant’s prices as much as possible. It warns private traders it will confiscate their securities if they do not precisely perform. It can hardly be said to encourage private trade.

Sat 8th May 1802

A large increase in the issue of Promissory Notes at Bombay has occurred in April this year. 5,797,506 Rupees were subscribed in 1801-02 and the balance outstanding on all issues in this Presidency is now 11,213,916 Rupees.

Government has paid off Promissory Notes up to 1793 / 94 year and the outstanding balance post-dates that year. The issue that has attracted most investor attention is the current 8% note.

Over 3 million Rupees of 8%s were sold in April alone.[42]

Sat 12th June 1802

The Company is asking investors to lodge their Promissory Notes in its Treasury, whereupon it will automatically pay the interest in Bills on London.

Sat 19th June 1802

The Bombay Treasury is open for the receipt of money in exchange for 9 – 12 month Bills on London at the rate 2/6d per Rupee. The Bills pay 5% per annum. Governor Duncan will close this subscription without notice once the necessary (but undisclosed) amount of funds has been received.

(NB – this is in addition to a concurrent advertisement for loans of 1,000+ Rupees to buy the Presidency’s Promissory Notes paying 8% interest)

Sat 19th June 1802

One of the Company’s MPs in the House of Commons has introduced a motion to incorporate Bencoolen within the Madras Presidency. (Bencoolen, located on the northern coast of Sumatra,  is the Company’s former source of pepper but a better and more convenient source is now available in Malabar.) It is one of the earliest factories and pre-dates the creation of Presidencies in India.

The Company appoints employees to work at specific factories or Presidencies, they cannot be transferred between Presidencies because of the seniority qualification for promotion. Under the Company’s present system, if Bencoolen is closed, the employees are effectively deprived of work. The Company wishes to reduce Bencoolen to a mere out-station because it can now achieve the purposes of the settlement by cheaper means.[43]

To avoid dismissing the redundant staff, the Company has solicited parliament to pass an Act incorporating the Bencoolen staff in Madras Presidency. This Presidency has lately increased in size due to the cessions of Tippoo and the arrangements with the Nizam. These additional lands will require regulating and the ex-Bencoolen staff might be advantageously redeployed in this new employment without much affecting prospects of promotion at Madras. The Bencoolen staff will retain their ranks but will be entered in the employment lists below the people already in the new territories from Madras in that same rank. Those wishing to resign their employment will be pensioned according to the salary attaching to their rank, without adjustment for the salary attaching to their former office. The continuing factory at Bencoolen will be privatised and administered by and responsible to Calcutta.

The Company is trying to economise. One successful initiative is to privatise all the little trading stations around Sumatra like Padang and Tappanooly. They will in future be operated by resident private merchants who buy Company protection, generally 30-40 sepoys and a gunner. This exposes them to occasional attack by French privateers during war, should it recommence, but the initiative of private commerce has caused the cultivation of spices in these little island bases that were formerly only available from the Dutch Moluccas (Celebes). These spice saplings were taken during the brief British occupation of the Spice Islands and planted in most of the Company’s territories. A harvest of spices will make the bases richer and more capable of self-sustainment than they were under the Company’s monopoly.

Sat 26th June 1802

The Governor-in-Council has suspended last year’s law (requiring parents of children sent to England for study to pay deposits against unexpected travel expenses to the academy). Any parent who has paid may bring his receipt to the Treasury for a full refund.

Sat 7th Aug 1802

Promissory Notes sold in Bombay this year now approach 6 million Rupees in value. It is several times more than was sought in previous years. Total Presidential indebtedness for Promissory Notes at Bombay now stands at 11 million Rupees.

The Company always sets the exchange and interest rates for its loans – not so the British Navy, they simply advertise for money in exchange for Navy Bills and ask tenderers to indicate how much they will loan and at what exchange rate. The controls of public money spent by the Navy are more relaxed than Company money.

Sat 21st Aug 1802

The Indian rice that the Company shipped to London and sold in response to the bounties on grain totalled nearly 100,000 bags. This is the greatest import of anything from India in the history of the Company.

Sat 4th Sept 1802

The export of grain from Bombay is allowed from 3rd September. Bombay is to be a grain emporium. People who have previously imported grain to Bombay may continue to do so or re-export it as their self-interest dictates.

Sat 18th Sept 1802

Lord Glenbervie has asked parliament to enquire into the precise terms of the Company for granting licences to people to trade in the East. The Company’s requirements are inscrutable, he says.

Sat 9th Oct 1802

Government Notice – Re-statement of parts of the British navigation law:

  • This enacts that all trade imported to or exported from a British port (including colonial ports) by a British ship, requires such ships to have a British captain and 75% British crew.
  • All coasting trade from a British port shall be done in British ships with British captains and entirely British crews.
  • British fishing ships may have 25% foreign crews for the purpose of instructing the 75% British crew how to cure fish.
  • Disobedience risks confiscation of cargo and ship.

Sat 9th Oct 1802

There is a powerful body of Indian Agency Houses who assert their right to transport the surplus trade of India to England in India-built ships. They say freight on the 3,000 tons allowed to private merchants by the Company is far more expensive than freight on foreign or India-built ships.

They say the quantity of shipping space provided is adequate. They merely wish to export any of those goods that are not included in the Company’s investment. They are willing to permit the Company to control the timings of shipments so as not to interfere with the Company’s sales in London.

They say the capital of the Company is inadequate to engross the entire Asian export market, which has increased beyond the Company’s ability to monopolise it. They object to the proscription on India-built ships trading to England.

They say, if the Company does not realistically address this matter, the trade will be driven further into foreign hands (as was the case before the war and will soon become the case again) and those ships will take the goods to Copenhagen, Hamburg and Amsterdam depriving London of the Customs duty. They note that no free merchant may reside in India without a licence from the Company, which licence controls the extent and nature of his permitted trade, although foreigners are not similarly restricted.

The Company says allowing India-built ships (necessarily with Lascar crews) into London is contrary to the Navigation Acts. They say if permission was granted it would lead to the establishment of businesses in London specifically for this trade and would open Asia in the same way the West Indian trade has been opened, which would be inconsistent with the shareholders’ Chartered monopoly.

They say if the trade was allowed, it would lead to colonisation of Asia by Englishmen whereas it has been consistent Company policy to discourage colonisation to protect the culture of Indian natives.

The difficulty is in finding a way that promotes British trade in Asia without advancing the trade of the foreign factories along the coast. One possibility is permission to country ships, under the control of the Company (i.e. presumably chartered to the Company), to carry this trade. That should satisfy both parties but the Company would have to moderate its freight rates to make it work.

Wed 20th Oct 1802 Extraordinary

The Company’s Directors have discussed private trade to India. It has grown greatly in recent years. The permission to send Indian-built ships to London is revoked with the peace and the Directors are discussing the situation with the Earl of Dartmouth who is now President of the Board of Control.

The Board is not supposed to interfere in the Company’s commercial affairs, but Dundas, who is trusted by the Directors, has been spearheading the introduction of private trade into India. The City bankers want a share of the trade-financing business and all the London merchants think Indian imports and exports can be greatly increased.

The Company takes its traditional view. Profits from the tea trade are actually sufficient for its commercial endeavours. Growth of Indian exports is inconvenient because the Company needs to match the quantity of British imports to ensure a balanced trade. The Company needs to establish its view that British imports to India cannot be increased – they are items for the expatriate British whose numbers it intends to keep constant.

It knows cheap Indian exports of cotton and indigo would be attractive in London, but they would disrupt the existing trade in those commodities with America and Spain and that might attract those Liverpool and London Houses to look for alternative profits in India.

If it can obtain general agreement in London for the position that there is no realistic expectation of increasing British exports to India, it automatically avoids discussion on increasing the return trade – no-one wants to increase Indian imports to London if it means exporting gold and silver to settle the trade balance, which will draw the attention of the City and ultimately the Ministry if not redressed. Thus exporting Indian goods to London will bring about the predictable opening of Indian trade to all-comers.

There is a course of dealing established between the Company and the City which is based on mutual non-interference and helps each party to regulate its market in a predictable way. Therefore the Company will not stimulate Indian exports.[44]

Sat 23rd Oct 1802

Paris, 20th June – The French government is expected to permit free trade to India. It recognises that the merchants are the best judges of commerce and they are, to a man, in favour of free trade. Its not just the merchants of the ports.

The people of Lyon deplore the granting of exclusive privileges too. They say all the monopoly companies of the last century have lost money and failed and the English only maintain theirs by mingling the profits of territory with the profits of commerce. The most extensive trade France ever did in Asia was through private merchants at L’Orient during 1775 – 79.

The monopoly companies inevitably sacrifice their national interest to the personal interest of their Directors and staff. So far as manufacturing is concerned the monopoly companies only buy best quality and leave the inferior stuff alone but the private merchants find buyers for everything. They also import Indian produce at cheaper prices than monopoly companies.

Sat 27th Nov 1802

Notice, 23rd November – The exclusive fishing rights at Breach Water are for lease from the Company for 3 years. Apply to the Collector for details.

Sat 11th Dec 1802

The Governor-General issued new instructions for the private trade of India to / from England on 10th November. The advertisement is appended. It was published in English without Gujerati or Persian versions:

As much tonnage as the private merchants require will be provided to them by the Company. These ships will repeatedly be used for carriage of private trade. They will not be commandeered by the Company for any reason. They will depart throughout the sailing season. They must be registered in Bengal.

The Company reserves 1% of the cargo space to its own use for which it will pay freight of £10 10.0d per ton payable in 60-day Sight Bills on delivery at St Helena. Every ship must carry and deliver the Company’s dispatches to St Helena and London free of charge.

All Indian goods may be exported to England except piece-goods and saltpetre (which require a Company licence). No Chinese tea, raw silk or nankeens may be exported. British exports will be received in the Company’s warehouses in India and Indian exports delivered to the Company’s warehouses in London. They will be sold by the Company. The Company’s fee for landing, warehousing and selling private goods in London is 3% ad valorem.

No passengers may be carried without the Company’s licence.

Any British goods may be brought back to India except arms, ammunition and military stores. Ship owners are to employ as many British sailors as available and top-up with Lascars or natives of Asia or Africa. Ship-owners undertake to bring back all such Asians to India unless they are dead.

If private merchants cannot fill a ship, the Company will complete its lading with gruff goods on its own account.

Only properly registered traders in India are qualified to engage in this trade.

The ships will be built either in England or India and the Company will contract with the owners for eight voyages. The ships will be constructed in conformity with the Company’s present requirements for ships carrying gruff goods. Ships already built may partake in the trade but only for two voyages and provided they do not exceed the freight rate paid by the Company for similar ships. The Company will also sub-charter whole ships to private merchants at cost price.

All the ships that conveyed the Madras / Bombay / Ceylon army to Egypt may sail to London this season with private cargoes under the same terms as issued previously (the 3,000 ton arrangement)

Sat 8th Jan 1803

The Treaty of Amiens concluding war with France confirms British sovereignty over Ceylon. This gives us a monopoly of the valuable cinnamon trade. Ceylon produces 5,000 bales a year. Cinnamon is popular in the German states which trade was formerly engrossed by the Dutch. Now we will be able to improve our connections with German merchants by offering best cinnamon.

The evacuation of Amboinya and Banda required under the Treaty means we lose the monopoly of nutmegs, mace and cloves but all those spices have been transplanted to other British Asian possessions (as indeed has cinnamon). The mace saplings we imported into India are beginning to grow well.

Sat 8th Jan 1803

The new arrangements for private trade between London and India include some restrictions. The Company’s regulations are long and detailed. Principally the Company want the private merchants to take bagged sugar and saltpetre to London as ballast and one third of their lading will be in these commodities. There is a long list of fines and forfeits for a variety of acts that the Company feels may threaten its monopoly.

It also requires private merchants to build the necessary ships to a design fixed by Company regulation. They will be chartered to the Company for 8 voyages. The freight rates for all common Indian exports are fixed. The Company reserves the right to employ the ship on its first voyage on a trip to Calcutta, Madras etc., to collect cargo for England.

Expressions of interest are required before 5th February 1803.

Sat 5th Feb 1803

The freight rate this year for private traders’ cargo to London on Indiamen is fixed at £7.10.0d per ton outbound to India and £17.10.0d homebound to London. Freight homewards on extra ships is set at £12 per ton.

N.B. The effect of the cash shortage in London is revealed by the increased extent of issues of Promissory Notes in Bombay, probably in the other Presidencies as well. Normally Bombay sales of promissory notes total less than a million Rupees a year. In 1801 / 2 they totalled 6 millions and in 1802 / 3 they were 5 millions. This, together with Wellesley’s enormous hit on the Nabob of Oudh, has enabled the Company to ship over £1 million in specie to London, independent of the surplus derived from the favourable balance on Far East trade.

Wed 9th Feb 1803 Extraordinary

The Company is re-advertising its request for loans. The present subscription is extended until 30th April 1803. Send multiples of 100 rupees and the Company will issue 8% Promissory Notes with interest payable half-yearly payable in cash or 12-month Sight Bills on London at 2/6d per rupee.

Payment may be in cash, Treasury Bills, Bills of Exchange or by transfer of any other form of Company debt. A discount of 2% is available on all these forms of payment; however, payment by transfer of the 6% loan notes will earn a 5% discount.

Sat 26th March 1803

The first 14 of the 10% Promissory Notes issued 1st August 1799 in respect of receipt of 143,490 Rupees have been lost and the holder, Daniel Seton, has applied for replacements.[45]

Sat 23rd April 1803

Government Notices:

  • The farm for collecting tolls to cross the Sion Causeway (that connects Bombay Island to Salsette Island) will be auctioned on 29th April for one year commencing 1st May.All people, animals, carts and carriages and cargo of all descriptions are liable to pay the toll. The Company’s civil and military officers are exempt from payment. Children are exempt.
    The successful bidder will provide security for performance. He must pay the rent quarterly with the 1st instalment due on 1st August. Any overcharging of customers will be fined at 50 times the overcharge and paid to the complainant.
    The requirement of Pass Notes to travel from one island to the other is ended except for people travelling to Salsette to take ship to the Maratha states. They are still required to obtain Passes. A policeman will stand duty at both ends of the Causeway to maintain Law & Order.
  • The monopoly on the ferry service to Tannah and Mandavim will be relet on 26th April. Apply to the Bunder Customs House for information.

(NB – both the above advertisements are in English and Gujerati)

Sat 4th June 1803

The Bombay Government’s issue of 8% Promissory Notes produced about 6 million Rupees in 1801-02 and 5.3 million in 1802-03. The total Presidency loan outstanding at end May is 15,121,182 Rupees.

Sat 11th June 1803

The Company’s extra ship Experiment, 549 tons, is available for private traders to ship goods to London. The freight rate is £11 per ton. The ship will sail for Europe as soon as she has a full lading. Send in your tenders before 24th June, ‘first come, first served.’ All other terms are the same as in our Notice of 11th August 1802.

Sat 16th July 1803

The monopoly for supply of arrack at Caranja is for sale on 25th July at Government House. The farm lasts for three years from 1st August 1803. Conditions available from the Government Secretary.

(advertisement in English, Gujerati and Parsee)

Sat 23rd July 1803

Notice, 20th July – The Company is selling nine month Sight Bills on the Directors in London. The term may be extended unilaterally to 12 months with 5% interest paid for the extra period. Send your money to the Treasury before 10th August.

Sat 6th August 1803

14th March – Castlereagh has addressed the House on the India Company’s Accounts:[46]

These are the same accounts that the House saw last session. The latest accounts have not yet arrived from India. The House is concerned at the extent of debt of the Company. Appropriate measures have been taken and the accounts now appear very pleasing. If peace should continue, there will be a large reduction in the Company’s debt. The Company’s revenue for 1801 / 02 is now estimated at £11,322,029 and the charges at £10,326,820.

The interest payable on the Company’s debts at home is £1,542,854 which produces a nett deficit on the home account of a little over £500,000.

The actual debt in India is £18,500,000 of which £16 millions is interest-bearing. The increase of debt in India is £3,034,130 (by the issue of Promissory Notes in all the Presidencies) so the nett increase of debt is £2,462,824.

The adverse balance against the Company at 1st March 1803 was £1.4 millions.

The Company’s proposed operation of a Sinking Fund requires £2 millions be appropriated each year until annual interest payments are reduced to £4 millions. It will take six years of £2 million payments annually to remove £12 millions of debt.

The Company will raise new capital by issue of £2 million shares worth £4.4 millions at current market prices. It wishes to also issue £1 million bonds with the permission of the Treasury.

Castlereagh congratulated the Marquess Wellesley on his Governor-Generalship. He had 24,400 regular troops (of which 17,000 are in King’s regiments), 89,900 native troops and about 10,000 irregulars (Eurasian-officered cavalry and the like) producing an armed force of 120,000+ men for the defence of India.[47]

Previous to the late war with France, the Company’s debt had increased £10 millions but its revenues had nearly doubled in the war.

Johnson said the increased revenues were extraordinary and mainly resulted from the territorial acquisitions that the Company made in war (the Ceylon cinnamon monopoly and pearl fishery, the Dutch spice trade of Amboinya and Ternate etc., plus the lands ceded by Tippoo and the Nizam in which a new Malabar cardamom monopoly had been created)

Inglis said India trade last year produced £2.7 millions profit (inflated by the bounties on grain shipments to London) and almost equalled in value the China trade profit of £3 millions.

Francis said a condition of the Charter of 1793 had been an annual payment of £500,000 to the British people for public services received. This had been paid in only one year. Dundas (now Lord Melville – he was President of Board of Control until 1801) had promised to resume payments soon. He did not attribute Company poverty to the war as Castlereagh had sought to do; Francis said Dundas knew the Company profited from war and that was why he had so readily promised a resumption of payments.

About sixty of the Directors and shareholders of the Company are MPs and routinely sit on House Committees investigating the affairs of the Company. Francis found the accounts they had provided were peculiar. He recalled that formerly the investments of the Company had appeared as a debit in the accounts; now they did not appear at all. The charge on the investments was £7 millions and this did not appear in the accounts either. These omissions permitted the superficial appearance that the Company was suddenly profitable. If the suppressed items were replaced in the documents and accounted for, and the advances due to government added (which Castlereagh had not suggested would be repaid), the Company’s financial position is not even slightly flourishing.

William Dundas defended his relative who had a cold. He said the prospects of the Company, as revealed to him by Melville, were well-founded.

Francis Baring said Castlereagh was a young man attempting to do what older men would find onerous. He recalled that Dundas had recommended steps to the Directors for the reduction of debt without increasing the Company’s capital. The Directors were reluctant to follow Dundas plan and neither did they want to increase the capital (more capital, same turnover = smaller dividends)

Metcalfe defended the Directors against the charge of fabricating the accounts and commended that the dividend be increased to 11%.

The debate continued on 22nd March and is recited in Sat 13th August 1803 edition:

Francis reiterated his objection to the absence of the Company’s capital from its accounts. It is a large figure (£12 millions) and the ministry is widely said to have guaranteed that sum to the shareholders. As parliament is said to be securing the Company, it is reasonable to ask 1/ is it true there is a guarantee and 2/ if yes, what are the terms.

Sir Theophilus Metcalfe accused Francis of slandering the Company. By inference, he is suggesting that the Directors had sought to deceive the House. Francis should not discuss the matter in debate but commence impeachment proceedings (a lucid reminder of the international embarrassment that flowed from the impeachment of Hastings, of which Francis was an initiator). Metcalfe however would explain the matter and leave Francis to consider what his response should be. He said Francis should recall that an Act in the 33rd George III provided one sixth of the annual additional surplus should go to the shareholders’ dividend and five sixths to the discharge of public debt. Metcalfe requested the Clerk to read the Order of the House in respect of the accounts of 1793 / 94. The Clerk complied and Metcalfe said the Company’s finances were now in better shape than they were in 1793 / 94. In the last ten years the Company has exported £17 millions of British products and manufactures and had sent out £10 millions of silver to the East. Over the last three years the Company has paid £5.7 millions to government in duties.

Castlereagh thanked Metcalfe and said it was now unnecessary for him to say anything more.

Francis complained that his questions had not been answered.

W Dundas said Francis could not expect amicable treatment from the House unless he offered it first. He defended his relative (Melville) from the accusations of Francis.

Johnston thought the Company’s balances were £2.2 millions less than Lord Melville had previously told the House. The Company had agreed to pay £2+ millions to the government in 1793 / 94 but had not done so. They could not do that in peacetime. Since the war commenced the Company had proudly promised a further £1 million for the national effort. They had not paid that either. It appeared to him that a meaningful surplus never accumulated on the Company’s account.

Wallace said Melville’s Presidency at the Board of Control (1793 – 1801) had been characterised by an improving aspect in the Company’s accounts, year after year. Melville had made allegations in 1796 and 1798 about the Guarantee Fund that the Company was supposed to maintain but he never took an absolute position concerning those comments – obviously they were unsustainable (i.e. the ministry was unlikely to have guaranteed the shareholders, at least in the absence of a reciprocal guarantee from the Company’s Directors to pay it back). The Indian revenues are subject to all sorts of unexpected calls. The war that commenced in India in 1798 (Wellesley’s war with Tippoo) had called for an immense investment by the Company. Francis should take better care.

Kinnaird said he was pleased to hear Metcalfe’s assertion that the Company’s affairs were flourishing however he would be more reassured if he could hear whether there were any monies credited to the Guarantee Fund during the years between the start of the new Charter and the start of war in India (between 1793 – 1798).

Castlereagh replied that no payments were paid into the Fund in that period because the Company’s debt in 1793 was nearly £16 millions and this was being paid-off first. He said the debt is now £2 millions.

Kinnaird was satisfied and Castlereagh’s proposal to accept the accounts was then agreed.

Sat 13th August 1803

There have been large imports of silver to British India this year. Our circulating medium should become more free. The Bengal indigo and cotton crops are good and a bumper harvest is expected.

Sat 3rd Sept 1803

The Company’s extra ship Huddart will shortly be dispatched to London. Private merchants wishing to ship goods should notify their requirements to government by 9th September.

No tea, China raw silk or nankeen cloth may be shipped (the Company’s most lucrative China monopolies).

If anyone applies for space and does not load their goods they must still pay the freight.

Sun 25th Sept 1803 Extraordinary

The Company will charter teak-built ships of 300+ tons to carry private trade from India to London in the 1803 / 04 season. The ships will not return to India but will be sold in England. Ships must be three decks or two decks and a poop. They must be fit for the installation of cannon proportionate to their size. The hulls must be copper sheathed. All ships subject to survey. The crews must be two thirds European, if available.

The senior officers will all be permitted to return to India regardless of how they got here in the first place. The Captains will be permitted a private trade of 5% per registered ton. They may carry passengers on their own account. The cargo will be one third sugar or saltpetre or anything similar that is suitable for ballast. All cargo will be delivered into the Company’s warehouse in London. Send in your terms before 5th October.

The Company intends to give equal opportunity to its extra ships and to private ships to carry the private cargo of India to London, but if there is a Company ship and a private ship both calling for cargo, the Company ship will be loaded first. If Lascars are taken on crew, the ship owner is responsible for repatriating them. Freight will be paid in arrears at Bombay on production of a certificate of delivery from England. It is expressly agreed that the Company has no liability in General Average.

Sat 1st Oct 1803

27th September – The following articles are exempted from Town Duty (the tax paid by farmers to the Company to bring their produce into Bombay for sale):

Ghee, oil, turmeric, jageree (a coarse palm sugar), molasses, chillies and paun (paun are leavened bread buns – these are all basic foods used by Indians). Also the duties on all food imports from Salsette and Caranja to Bombay are suspended.

Sat 15th Oct 1803

The monopoly for the sale of tobacco in Bombay for 1st November 1803 – 31st October 1806 will be sold by auction at Government House on 25th October.

Sat 12th Nov 1803

All the Bombay Presidency sub-offices (at Baroda, Broach, Malabar, Anjengo and Surat) are authorised to receive loans of minimum 1,000 Rupees from the populace.

Subscriptions may be in Bombay Treasury Bills, Bills of Exchange (drawn on the Governor), Bills for Arrears of Salary (civil or military) and all other authorised Public Demands. The army is also requested to subscribe.

Loans of 100 Rupees minimum in cash are also solicited. All subscribers will receive 8% Promissory Notes in return.

You can get repaid here or in London at an exchange of 2/6d per Rupee.

Sat 28th Jan 1804

The Company has asked for some tax concessions on its trade:

The tax on imported porcelain is 109% but the Company, which is the only importer, has asked for it to be reduced to 50%. They import Chinese porcelain as ballast under the tea. The ministry was supportive and had included the new rate in its draft legislation but English domestic manufacturers found out and protested. To satisfy them, the ministry has revised the proposed import duty to 80%. If that is insufficient protection, the matter will have to go to the House for consideration.[48]

The importation of silk handkerchiefs from Bengal is prohibited but they are nevertheless widely available in England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had approved a 25% duty ad valorem on Bengal silk handkerchiefs and had agreed to restrict the Company’s imports to a maximum of their average annual import over the last seven years.

Now we are at war the ability to smuggle will be reduced. The duty will be suspended and prohibition again enforced.

Sat 4th Feb 1804

Bombay’s JPs will be issuing liquor licences at the Sessions House on 16th February. The Company will continue to ban liquor licensees within the walled town. Only applicants for premises outside the wall may apply.

Sat 4th Feb 1804

The bounties paid on grain shipments to England during the recent shortage (largely paid to the Company) totalled £524,000.

Sat 3rd March 1804

The Directors have instructed the Governor of Bombay to promote the import of Madeira wine to England by private traders.

There is a general supposition amongst Madeira (and Port) drinkers that these wines are improved by exposure to the heat of a voyage across the equator. As a result wine carried to India and back around the Cape commands a higher price.

The freight from Madeira to India will be £4 per pipe (110 gallons) and £8 per pipe on the return leg (the Company equates two pipes with 1 ton for freight purposes). This will provide a harmless consumable for return cargo.

The Company expects private merchants to ship mainly cotton, indigo and sugar on the outward voyage to London.

Sat 3rd March 1804

There is a dispute between the Company in London and the wholesalers who attend its auctions. It devolves on the variety of allowances that the Company gives to its major buyers. The confrontation commenced when the Company offered a shipment of tea and said it would not give the customary allowance on sale of 1 lb free per chest. The wholesalers are a cartel and unitedly declined to bid. The Company offered the lots three times but no sales could be made. The Directors were unwilling to have their decision questioned.

They withdrew the tea and tried again with sugar for which there is a larger number of wholesalers and the strength of the ring accordingly reduced.

On 15th September Robert Thornton conducted the sugar sale and announced the 1 lb per bag allowance would no longer be available. All the usual traders abstained although the price fell to between 30/- and 35/- below its usual sale price. It was all eventually knocked down to some Jewish merchants whom the Directors had asked along to try their luck. After a few sales had thus been made and the Company had received £1,000 less than expected, Thornton called a halt and adjourned further sales to 19th September.

On that occasion the Company sent Devaynes to supervise the sale. He withheld the Company’s own sugar to limit its prospective loss and offered the sugar of its ships’ officers (their privileged cargo). Those officers imperatively needed to sell the goods, pay off their loans and make up their accounts. Devaynes then encountered Godwin, a major sugar wholesaler and coincidentally a shareholder in the Company. Godwin publicly demanded, in the name of the Company’s shareholders, that the sale be abandoned unless it was conducted in the usual way. Devaynes appeared to acquiesce and put up the first lot. Mr B Travers requested confirmation on the terms of sale before bidding commenced. Devaynes had to announce the allowance was not available. Travers protested the ‘encroachments’ the Company had been making at successive sales. He attributed the Directors’ motives to either poverty or greed.

He then addressed the assembled buyers from the floor of the auction room and read a Resolution of the Wholesalers Committee made in the City Coffee House on 17th September. They agreed the withdrawal of rebates was in violation of the usage of the trade; that the Company has a monopoly on Asian sugar and should act responsibly; that the trade will not sanction a potentially loss-making unilateral initiative, and that they would withhold their orders until the grievance was removed. He then asked Devaynes to adjourn the sale.

Some other wholesalers objected too – they were also Company shareholders.

Shareholder Simpson told Devaynes that the tea wholesalers were so incensed they had obtained an appointment to interview Prime Minister Addington and would ask for his intercession. Devaynes then adjourned the sugar auction.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Most of this debt is issued as Promissory Notes and subscribed in India by the Company’s employees, the few Agency Houses of the day and many of the so-called native princes. There is also a small amount held by retired employees in England as, at this time, interest is invariably payable in Bills on London which accordingly form a popular means of accumulating savings or funding lifestyle in England. Company loans pay higher interest than any similar quality investments in London and represent the Company’s means of raising capital in India without becoming indebted to / influenced by the London banks or stockbrokers.
  2. Whilst China tea was a jealously guarded monopoly of the Company, ship’s officers were permitted to carry back small amounts in their privileged tonnage for sale and consumption in India. The fact of monopoly supply, discharge at London only and consequent limited opportunity for smuggling made tea an ideal commodity for high taxation at London.
  3. Batta was an allowance paid to the Company’s armed forces when out of cantonments and particularly as reward for military success. Its amount was predicated on the recipient’s salary, thus ‘six month’s batta’ in this case. The Company, as a commercial venture, chose to keep its army fighting more or less constantly in one place or another. Batta was an important contribution to earnings.
  4. The lands are partly kept by the Company and partly provided to neighbouring native princes to create several middling states in place of Tippoo’s one powerful state, just as Napoleon will later do in Europe in creating buffer states between the powers. It seems Tippoo’s greatest offence in the Company’s eyes was to repudiate the Mughals, through whom the Company purported to rule India, and his submission to the Ottoman Porte as the Caliph of Islam.
  5. This is an operation to reduce the Company’s Indian loans to a uniform 6% interest. Similar schemes are attempted and abandoned throughout the period under review.
  6. A name used by the Sikhs to denote an authoritative assembly.
  7. The Sicca Rupee was worth about 11% more than the Current Rupee.
  8. Madras continues to prefer a gold currency for the next 20+ years in view of the proximity of the Kolar Goldfields to the city. The Star Pagoda contains 3.35 grammes of gold alloy.
  9. The Home Charges primarily derive from the annual dividend, interest on London debts and pensions to retired staff.
  10. All newspaper reports of Commons debates detailing the Company’s accounts throughout this work are thoroughly inscrutable.
  11. The Europe chapter reveals Sir Elijah Impey and many other Nabobs have investments in French funds. Dutch and Danish bills are also popular in India. Some part of the income available to Company servants is not remitted through the Company’s own Bills service.
  12. The dividend is here assessed as a percentage of the issued price of shares. In Dundas’ earlier accounts it appeared to be a percentage of the market value. In other articles below it might be a percentage of the annual profit. The East India Company may have been a convert to that favoured Indian pastime – two sets of books.
  13. The Bombay Candy is about 560 lbs (20 Maunds of 28 lbs each); the Seer is also a weight, equivalent to the silver weight of 80 Rupees. During the Company’s sovereignty, weights and measures varied throughout India with only the names – rutty, masha, tola, seer, maund – being the same.
  14. The Vizier is the minister at Lucknow. This minister’s minister, as mentioned in this article, must presumably be a financial officer in his employ.
  15. In this debate Grenville conceded that the ministry had no control over the Company’s shipping activities, only over its government in India and commerce to England.
  16. The supposed reduction of Company debt in India, agreed under the new Charter is not happening in Bombay Presidency where debt is increasing, even at lower interest rates
  17. The value of money depends on its availability. Company shipments of silver back to London this Spring have tightened credit in India, changed the Sterling exchange rate and interest rate on deposits.
  18. The Company was able to successfully discourage the legislative permit to private traders by port regulations in India. It was not just the high freight rate which occasionally rose to £40 even £50 per ton – the Regulations required private shippers to pre-book space and pre-pay, no flexibility was permitted, pre-payments were subject to confiscation for numerous reasons, the Company’s warehouses, cargo-handlers and auctions had to be used and their fees were inflated like the Company’s own. The Company might change sailing dates and reduce space available without notice. There were many disincentives.
  19. This is a splendid example of the Company’s attitude to the Indian people and the rather predatory nature of the financial system adopted by Britain. Incidentally, this diminished individual property protection reveals one of the Indian Army’s benefits from war in India – the troops of the native Princes often carry their valuables with them. The company’s battles are usually artillery against the native infantry causing many casualties on the battlefield
  20. There is a large and increasing export trade in saltpetre to London. Its is one of the Company’s monopoly products. It is presumably sourced from compost and urine.
  21. There is discussion of half-pay in the Europe chapter. It had formerly been supposed to be a pension but in the early course of the Revolutionary War it was legislatively deemed by inference to be a retainer for military services.
  22. The Company welcomes funds but prefers its creditors to be employees or merchants in British India under its control, not potentially hostile Marathas in native states.
  23. This extraordinary figure suggests the dividend percentage is payable on the market price of the stock which can be calculated at over £42 millions. The published quotation of the share price a couple of months later is £202. The face value of the Company’s issued shares (£100 each) is now said to be £7.5 million. A couple of years ago the share capital was entered at £5 millions. On another occasion above the share capital is said to be £15 millions. There are too many errors to be solely typographical. The Company made-up its accounts for the Commons. Note also the cost price of the tea, which includes the Company’s enormous freight cost. It is about one eighth of sale price, upon which inflated price the ministry raises another £3-4 millions in import tax – the joys of monopoly.
  24. All goods in Asian trade are loaded / discharged in London docks to protect the revenue, particularly the swingeing duty on tea.
  25. There is so much that is contentious here. Suffice to say, as mentioned elsewhere in this work but can helpfully be recited here, that debates on India in the House attract less than a hundred MPs. As the Company has over 60 MPs in its interest, it legislates for itself.
  26. Gardens or orchards. This is one of numerous actions in Bombay under fieri facias Writs. They permit the sale of a defendant’s assets to accumulate a fund to settle a Judgment debt. Both the Company and the major trading firms use the facility regularly.
  27. Probably William Mostyn Owen, MP for Montgomeryshire.
  28. The enormous ships chartered by the Company limit the ports they can enter to 2 or 3 in India. Even at Canton they have to await high tide to enter the river. This is a restrictive practice to create a specialised market for which the Company pays top dollar. It should be noted it also limits off-loading in England to London.
  29. This increased tonnage, originally for provision of grain to England, will enable the Company to carry the goods of the former Dutch and French colonies that have been occupied.
  30. This is to soak-up surplus capital in India to feed Pitt’s desperate needs in London. It causes a dearth of exchange in British India that reduces prices
  31. Gold and gold-dust are widely used in Sumatra and Celebes as currency and is available at Canton. The Company wishes to encourage its remittance back to India – another aspect of London’s need.
  32. This is the result of Sir John Shore’s treaty with the Nabob of Oudh. Saadat Ali Khan gave the strong fort of Allahabad to the Company with the right to conduct foreign affairs and defence on behalf of Oudh. He agreed to pay 7.6 million Rupees annually to the Company for protection. This was a giant step on the path to subjection of the Mughal. Lord Wellesley’s acts in furtherance of this policy are reported in the Asia chapter.
  33. This indicates the role of China-trade in the British financial system. Several hundred thousand Pounds of Indian goods, mainly cotton and, increasingly, opium, are sold in China each year and the proceeds used to buy mainly tea which was auctioned in London for c. £4 millions, on which the government took a large Customs levy of about the same amount. Neither the Company nor the government could forego this immense windfall income. Only the West Indian sugar trade provided a similar amount of Customs revenue although the sugar wholesalers made nothing like the Company’s profits on China tea.
  34. And perhaps to help the Company confront the coalition that is forming against it, led by Tippoo in the South and Zaman Shah in the North.
  35. A note in the paper indicates the Presidency issued 2 millions in 1794/95, 1.2 millions in 1795/96, 1 million in 1799/00 and 1.5 million in 1800/01. It issued under 100,000 rupees in each of the years omitted from this list.
  36. The UK government has set 32/- as its buying price but if the rice market pays less, the Indian exporter will receive the balance. The price of wheat in England has risen from 75/- per sack to 120/- per sack whereas rice has risen from 23/- per cwt to 46/- per cwt. With government paying 32/- per cwt this scheme still allows a saving to consumers and a handsome profit to importers.
  37. The Moorah is equivalent to a candil or candy; 560 lbs..
  38. Lord Wellesley, the Governor General, had intended to take the entire province in breach of Shore’s 1798 treaty. Henry’s compromise was more politic. Wellesley sold the prospective revenue from the ceded lands to the private English Agencies at Calcutta and remitted the proceeds back to London for the war effort. This caused a shortage of circulating medium throughout India.
  39. In this debate Pulteney is representing the private British trade. He is the owner of many boroughs and a power centre in his own right. The Minister will try to accommodate him.
  40. There has been a slight improvement of pay scales in the army and batta has been more readily available from the many expeditions for suppressing internal dissent and the occupation of Dutch colonies. These last have produced considerable prize-money. There is also the extent of new lands which appears to contribute a major part of the ‘great increase’ mentioned.
  41. This allows the inference that the private trade developed historically from the privileged tonnage of the officers – a perk the owners allowed them to limit their private trade.
  42. Where all this new surplus money is coming from is not clear from the newspaper.
  43. An out-station does not merit a garrison.
  44. There is the existing privileged cargoes of ships’ officers in tea and silk from China to India and the coastal Chinese junk trade in all sorts of Chinese produce to South East Asia either or both of which could become a loophole in the Company’s restraint on access to China trade. There is already a tea trade to Amsterdam and Hamburg (and discreetly to Liverpool) done by the Americans in peace time which puts fine China teas into the European market at a fraction of British prices. Fortunately the Company has been able to rely on the Hong merchants to supply best quality to itself but some of those Chinese merchants, most notably How Qua, will shortly become willing, with American help, to oppose the Company’s requirement for restraint of trade.
  45. A merchant with the Company in 1780s and privately subsequently. There is a memorial to him in Bombay Cathedral.
  46. In the early part of this debate the papers were called accounts, later they were called estimates and finally, as the omissions became glaring, they became the Company’s budget.
  47. Two or three times the size of the British national army.
  48. The Company used to have a large business in blue and white Chinese porcelain from King Tak Chun (Cantonese Romanisation) in Kwangsi. It received the orders for personalised designs from the foreign community at Canton, sent them off to Kwang Si and shipped the completed goods in the following season. Once domestic British producers were able to produce chinaware they solicited a high Customs duty on this trade sufficient to divert most of it to their own productions. The Company has now sought to restore its share of porcelain trade.

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