Legal and other formal documents relating mainly to the rights and privileges of the East India Company. When in Dr George Birdwood was appointed Curator of the Indian Museum, he was given a box of documents for the museum's collection. The box had been discovered by Sir John Kaye, Secretary to the Political Department, while clearing out his office on retirement; in it were forty parchments. Sainsbury's work was well-known to the Company as he had catalogued many of its early records.

Birdwood was keen to publicise the records' discovery and presented a paper, 'Some Documents recently discovered in the India Office', to the Royal Society of Literature. Some were new discoveries, having been found in cases that had remained unpacked since the removal of all the records in from the Company's headquarters in Leadenhall Street.

Further related records were discovered in the Accountant General's office. The catalogue appeared in the second reprint of Birdwood's Report in and an expanded Royal Charter East India Company Monarch incorporating later discoveries was printed in the List of General Records Preserved in the Record Department of the India Office, London London, Until the catalogue in the List of General Records remained the standard finding aid to the parchment records.

As new documents were discovered or acquired, successive record-keepers made hand-written additions to the list. In the parchment records were re-arranged but in it was decided to restore the listing to Danvers's original arrangement. The property records remain with the Legal Adviser's records. The documents listed relate mainly to the East India Company Many are records of key evidential value, being proof of the rights and privileges accorded to the Company by the monarch or by his or her ministers.

This corporate body received exclusive rights for fifteen years to trade to the 'Indies', an area that Roya defined as extending from the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan. Monarcu were the grants on which the Company's trade depended. The aim was to acquire spices but as English goods were not in demand in the Spice Islands, the Company used bullion to buy cottons and silks in Persia and India. These goods were then shipped to the Spice Islands where they were traded for the spices needed for the home market.

The licenses were issued because the large Monafch of spice that the Company sold abroad made the constraint that prevailed at the time impractical. The first charters had granted the Company power to govern the activities of its overseas servants but these Exst proved inadequate to maintain discipline Chartdr board ship.

In Roysl Company itself was given the authority to grant these commissions. In Charles I granted the Courten Association a charter to trade to the east independently of the Company. In England went to war with the Dutch. Since the beginning of the century, Dutch trading activities in the Spice Islands had severely restricted English trade in the region. The lowest point was reached in when the Dutch massacred the English factors at Amboyna.

By this time, however, the division of the Company's capital was no longer clear. Aftersubscriptions had ceased to be raised for individual voyages and were instead raised for periods often overlapping periods of several years. In the Company obtained a charter from the Lord Protector Royyal which the Courten Association and other temporary ventures were united with the Company, and the Company's different stocks were drawn into one joint stock.

No copies of the charter are known to survive. The Company was authorised to govern its own settlements, to raise armed forces to protect its trade, to coin money and to arrest and repatriate interlopers unauthorised traders. The marked increase in privileges can partly be accounted for by the Company's readiness to help the monarch financially.

The transactions were often not straightforward; information about the form that individual loans took is to be found in the Court Minutes of the period. The important right of establishing a municipal corporation at Madras was given the following year; the grant enabled the town's representatives to administer civil law.

Meanwhile, merchants excluded by the Company's monopoly from trading to the east were becoming increasingly dissatisfied. Several formed themselves into an association popularly known as Compant 'new' company and in both companies presented their cases to Parliament. In an effort to reach a compromise, Parliament resolved to increase the capital of the 'old' company but to limit the amount of stock that could be held by any individual member.

Compant afterwards the old company inadvertently failed to pay a tax that had been imposed on joint-stock companies and thereby forfeited its charter. In the meantime, the monopoly conferred on the old company by the charter had been successfully challenged in Parliament.

In theory, the eastern trade was from that time onwards open to all although the Company instructed its factors to take no notice of Parliament's resolutions. In the first Act of Parliament for regulating the Bennett Pipeline Company to the East Indies was passed.

As a corporate body within the General Society it was entitled to continue trading; it also obtained a private Act of Parliament Charrter which it continued as a corporation until the government loan should be repaid.

The privileges obtained by the English Company were therefore of no real use to them and in a coalition between the companies was effected. It was decided that the companies would trade jointly, operating under a joint board of directors, and that the old company would wind itself up within seven years.

The charter of the English Company continued but it now covered both companies and the name of the corporation was changed to 'The United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies"".

From onwards, any fundamental changes to the Company's powers and privileges were made by Act of Parliament. A few royal charters were issued in the eighteenth century that related to the Company's powers in India. A series of charters appointing members of the Board of Control was transferred to the Public Record Office in Later documents include many proclamations of loyalty Royal Charter East India Company Monarch by Indians to Queen Victoria, on the Crown's assumption in of the government Chrater India.

One of several, the document was given to the India Suse Company because of the King's position as Emperor of India. Have you found an error with this catalogue description? Let us know. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.

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