British Empire
The rise of the British empire - India
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Extracts from the accounts of the British East India Company, 1678
(Catalogue ref: E 140/9/4 f42)
  • This source is one small extract from the accounts of Robert Parker. Parker was the agent of the British East India Company.
  • The East India Company was founded in the early 1600s. It had approval from King James I. The Company was funded by wealthy men who paid for ships and goods to be traded in the East so that the ships could return with valuable goods like tea, spices and silk. These could be sold for large profits back in Britain.
  • At first the main aim of the Company was to build links with China. However, the Company also built up trade in the Indian Ocean and the islands that make up present day Indonesia and the Philippines. From this base the Company merchants built up their trade in India as well.
  • Robert Parker's accounts mainly focus on trade in the Philippines (Manila is the main city in the Philippines). The adventures described in the accounts refer to trading journeys. In this extract he is writing down the goods he has bought or sold on one leg of the trip. In the first stage of the trip he sent about 600 worth of bars of iron, stockings, wine and brandy to Manila. This source shows what he brought back. Parker would then have sold these goods.
  • Several companies of merchants actually called themselves 'Merchant Adventurers' because in the 17th and 18th centuries long distance trading was very risky - it really was an adventure!
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