1600 (31st December)
The Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies was founded by a Royal Charter signed by Elizabeth I
. The charter gave them a monopoly on trade with any country east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. Sir Thomas Smythe was appointed Governor of the company commonly referred to as the East India Company. The Company’s headquarters were at India House in Philpot Lane, London.
1601 (21st April)
Five ships, commanded by James Lancaster, left Woolwich docks bound for the East Indies (Indonesia). They carried letters of introduction signed by the Queen to form trading partnerships. They managed to obtain spices and pepper which they brought back to England.
The East India Company founded a trading post in Bantam, Indonesia.
1604 (25th March)
Sir Henry Middleton commanded a second voyage that successfully traded in South Africa and reached Sumatra in Indonesia.
1607 (12th March)
A third voyage left England for the East. Commanded by William Keeling, this voyage reached Banda in Indonesia and discovered the Cocos Islands as he was returning to England.
1608 (24th August)
The first ships docked at Surat in the Gujarat region of India and set up .
1608 (14th March)
A fourth voyage of two ships commanded by Alexander Sharpeigh left Woolwich bound for the East.
renewed the Company’s charter with a stipulation that if it became unprofitable for three years it would be null and void.
The East India Company founded a trading post at Machilipatnam in the Andhra Pradesh region of India.
The East India Company began building factories in the Surat region of India.
King James I sent Thomas Roe to India. His instructions were to meet the Mughal Emperor Nuruddin Salim Jahangir and arrange a commercial treaty.
1612 (29th – 30th November)
Battle of Swally
This was a naval battle between the East India Company and Dutch and Portuguese traders in the Surat region which saw the Company secure a major victory.
The Clove, a ship belonging to the Company, commanded by John Saris, reached Japan. It carried a letter of introduction and gifts from King James I. The Company was given the right to establish a trading post on the island of Kyushu.
James I agreed a commercial treaty with Mughal Emperor Nurudin Salim Jahangir. The treaty gave the East India Company exclusive rights to build factories in Surat.
The East India Company had been unable to expand their trading activities in Japan but they continued to trade out of Hirado and Nagasaki.
As agreed under the treaty with Nurudin Salim Jahangir in 1615, the East India established a trading post in Surat.
Crosby Hall in Bishopsgate London became the new headquarters of the East India Company.
Unable to make headway in Japan, the Company closed their trading posts in Japan.
1623 (9th March)
Rivalry between the Dutch and the English came to a head when the Dutch executed many English prisoners.
The Mughal Emperor invited the East India Company to trade in the Bengal region of India.
The Company moved its headquarters to Craven House in Leadenhall Street, London.
The Company established Fort St George, a trading centre in Madras.
renewed the charter granting trading rights for the East India Company.
Cloth makers and drapers in England, angry that imports of Indian cloth were threatening their livelihooods rioted and attacked India House in London.
1668 (27th March)
King Charles II gave Bombay, which he had acquired from the Portuguese as part of his wife’s dowry, to the East India Company.
The power of the East India Company was increased when Charles II granted the Company the right to acquire territory, to mint money, to command fortresses, to make laws and use force to protect assets.
The East India Company made a loan of a substantial amount of saltpetre (an ingredient of gunpowder) to the King.
An attempt by the Company to obtain trading rights throughout the Mughal Empire was unsuccessful.
The Company’s spice factory at Bantam was closed.
The East India Company began trading out of Guangzhou, China. Silk, tea and fine porcelain were brought back to England.
The Company established a trading post in Calcutta region of India.
An act was passed that allowed any English company to trade with India.
An English pirate, Henry Every, led an attack on a fleet of Indian ships and pirated around £50,000 worth of treasure from one ship, the Fateh Muhammed, and around £400,000 from another, the Ganj-i-Sawai. The East India Company and the King’s council put up a reward of £1,000 for the capture of the pirate Henry Every. The Mughal Emperor was furious and ordered the closure of four East India facories in India.
The Company built Fort William in Calcutta.
The East India Company was floated in a joint venture between the current stockholders and the state.
China tea was extremely popular in England. The East India company had paid for the tea with silver but they became concerned that too much silver was leaving the country and so began using opium to pay for the tea.
The Company’s import of Indian goods into the UK amounted for 15% of all imports.
The East India Company’s Headquarters in London, which had become known as India House, was rebuilt and enlarged.
China banned the imports of opium. The Company largely ignored the ban.
With increased tension and rivalry for overseas territories between Britain and France, the British government extended the license for exclusive trade in India by the East India Company.
The number of troops owned by the East India Company reached 3,000.
1756 (20th June)
Siraj Ud Daulah, the new Nawab of Bengal, attacked the English at Kasimbazar and took the fort at Calcutta. Those captured were taken and put into a small cell where 123 prisoners allegedly died. Known as the Black Hole of Calcutta, the incident provoked outrage in England.
1757 (2nd January)
Robert Clive regained control of Calcutta.
1757 (23rd June)
Battle of Plassey
This battle was between the East India Company, led by Robert Clive, and Sirajuddaula, the Nawab of Bengal was a victory for the English and allowed them to take control of Bengal.
The number of troops owned by the Company reached 26,000.
1763 (10th February)
The Treaty of Paris brought an end to the Seven Years War. Under the terms of the agreement France regained Pondichery, Mahe, Karikal, Yanam and Chandernagar in India, all of which had been taken from France by the British during the war. Although the French were banned from keeping troops in Bengal elsewhere the same did not apply and they remained a threat to the East India Company.
The Company gained permission from the Moghul Emperor to collect revenue in Bengal.
The Bengal Famine saw the death of a third of the population.
A famine in Bengal led to the death of around a third of the native population. It also led to a reduction in production of goods and trade while at the same time administrative costs were rising.
The East India Company created a British monopoly on opium in Bengal by prohibiting private cultivation of the plant. The opium was then sold in Calcutta from where it was sent illegally, to China to be used to pay for goods.
1773 (10th May)
In a bid to avert bankruptcy of the East India Company, this act was passed. It exempted the East India from paying tax import duties in the American colonies. In protest against the act, American colonists subsequently boycotted all tea imported by the East India Company.
1773 (18th May)
Regulating Act of 1773
This act was passed to reform the management of the East India Company’s activities in India. It also established the fact that Parliament had ultimate control over the Company. A governing council was established in Calcutta, led by Warren Hastings.
1773 (16th December)
The Boston Tea Party
Protesters against the Tea Act boarded East India Company ships and threw their entire consignment of tea into Boston Harbour.
These were a series of acts in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party. Massachusetts’ rights to self-government were taken away.
1775 (19th April)
American War of Independence
All thirteen states of America protested against the British for the punishment of Massachusetts. The protests turned violent and resulted in the outbreak of war.
The number of troops owned by the East India Company reached 67,000.
1784 (13th August)
Pitt’s India Act
This act set up a Board of Control to oversee the administration, finance and diplomatic functions of the Company. It also covered the military expansion of the company.
East India Company Act 1793
This act renewed the East India’s charter for twenty years.
1813 (21st July)
East India Company Act 1813
This act asserted British control over Indian territories controlled by the Company. It also removed the Company’s trade monopoly with India, though it retained a monopoly on trade in tea and trade with China. Extended the Company’s charter for a further twenty years.
An outbreak of cholera in India led to the deaths of 10,000 British troops and thousands of Indians.
Assam tea was discovered by two Company employees, Charles Alexander and Robert Bruce.
Despite the ban on opium by China, the Company was paying for all the tea it exported from China with illegally imported opium which was stored in the Company’s factory at Canton.
East India Company Act 1833
This act removed the Company’s remaining trade monopolies and extended its charter for a further twenty years.
The first shipload of Assam tea reached England.
In a bid to stop opium entering China, the Chinese made opium smuggling an offence punishable by death. Lin Zexu was appointed Special Imperial Commissioner to stop the smuggling.
1839 (18th March)
The First Opium War
This broke out between the Chinese, anxious to stop the illegal import of opium into the country and the British who continued to use opium to pay for Chinese tea.
Aden, a port in Yemen, was conquered by the East India Company.
1842 (29th August)
Treaty of Nanking
The British victory in the First Opium War led to this treaty which gave the island of Hong Kong to the British crown.
A botanist named Robert Fortune was hired by the East India Company to use the finest tea plants from China to establish tea plantations in India. He set up his plantation in the Himalayas growing Darjeeling tea.
Government of India Act
This act stated that the Company would continue to administer British India until Parliament decided otherwise.
Second Opium War
This was a continuation of hostilities between Britain and China following the First Opium War.
The Indian Mutiny
This began after the British introduced the Enfield Rifle that used cartridges greased with pig or cow fat. Soldiers had to bite off the end of the cartridge prior to use. The majority of Indian soldiers were either Muslim or Hindu and refused to put the cartridges into their mouths. The protest of the soldiers spread to a general uprising against the rule of the East India Company.
1858 (2nd August)
Government of India Act 1858
The East India Company was nationalised by the British government
1860 (24th October)
Treaty of Tientsin
Following victory over the Chinese in the Second Opium War, this treaty allowed Britain, France, Russia and the USA to establish embassies in Peking (Beijing). It also allowed for an increase in trading posts and the allowing of foreigners into the interior of China to trade, travel or as missionaries. China was also required to pay compensation to Britain and France.
East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act
This act formally dissolved the East India Company and ceded all governmental duties over India to the Crown.
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2017). East India Company 1600 – 1873. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/east-india-company-1600-1873 Last accessed January 28th, 2020