The East India Company can trace its roots to 31st December 1600, when Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to "George, Earl of Cumberland, and 215 Knights, Aldermen, and Burgesses" under the name 'Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies'.
Over the next two hundred years, the commercial power of the company was largely unrivalled, and it developed and maintained a monopoly on many different trades between Europe, South Asia and the Far East. The Company’s operations were underpinned by the ‘factory’ system; when the ships returned to Europe, agents known as ‘factors’ were left behind at trading posts to negotiate with local merchants for the sale of current stocks of goods and the procurement of return cargoes for the next year’s voyage.
The East India Company developed beyond a purely commercial enterprise when war between Britain and France spread to India in the mid-1740s. The Company established military supremacy over rival European trading companies and local rulers, culminating in 1757 in the seizure of control of the province of Bengal.
By 1803, at the height of its rule in India, the British East India company had a private army of about 260,000 men —twice the size of the British Army. The company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. It governed through three Presidencies (Bengal, Bombay and Madras), with each Presidency having its own army. Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 and lasted until 1858, when, following the Indian Rebellion, the Government of India Act led to the British Crown assuming direct control of the Indian subcontinent in the form of the new British Raj.
The India Office, a new department set up following uprisings in India, became the new vehicle of British power in the region. Territories overseen by the India Office included the modern-day nations of Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, and Pakistan.
About These Records
The records list the employees, both civil and military, of the East India Company and later, the India Office. You may be able to find (where available):
- Military Rank
- Place of residence or military service
- Date of death
- Place of death
- Date of marriage
- Name of parents