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Sources from The British Library, London

Part 6: Bombay, 1669-1710

These records cover the early history of the East India Company's Bombay Factory - or Trading Centre - from 1669-1710.

The East India Company's ships visited Bombay for the first time around 1626. Trading took place at Surat further up the coast but Bombay was considered a better point to organise trading activity along the west coast of India. The Company had tried to seize the town from the Portuguese unsuccessfully but in 1661 it was ceded to the English as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza on her marriage to Charles II. In 1668 the king granted it to the Company and in 1687 Bombay replaced Surat as the headquarters of trade in western India and places westward. Bombay assumed also a supervisory role over the factories around the Persian Gulf and on the Red Sea Coast. Over the eighteenth century trade on the west coast of India began to decline. Bombay remained a centre of trade but in relation to Bengal and Madras its importance decreased and in 1773 the government of Bombay was placed under the overall control of the Government of Bengal.

The Factory Records for Bombay, 1669-1710 are divided into the following types of document:

  • Consultations, 1670-1704. These are detailed records of meetings of the factors, describing goods exported to London, warehouse reports, prices of goods, trade with other areas, meetings with local officials, movement of foreign ships and many other issues
  • Copies of Letters despatched to London, 1670-1710 and Copies of Letters received at the factory, 1670-1704. These cover all manner of topics from concerns about piracy to the cost of goods.

Also included are:

  • Papers relating to disagreements between Deputy Governor Henry Young and his subordinates, February to November, 1669
  • Diary of events during the siege of Bombay by the Sidi, February to June, 1690
  • Extracts relating to the "passes" of Tanna and Karinja

The Factory Records of the East India Company for Bombay are an indispensable tool for researchers interested in the early trading networks in South East Asia.

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