British Empire
The rise of the British empire - India
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British East India Company document showing ships and trade in 1692
(Catalogue ref: CO 388/2 f41)
  • This source comes from the records 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.
  • This source shows the ships, tonnage of ships and men involved with each ship. In the 1690s this was an enormous amount of men, money and resources. By the mid 1700s the British East India Company was so powerful it had its own armies in India.
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