The East India Company's Maritime Service, 1746-1834

The East India Company's Maritime Service, 1746-1834

Masters of the Eastern Seas

Jean Sutton


Boydell Press



Describes the voyages of East India Company's ships to India and China in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, discussing the nature of trade and the involvement of the Company's ships in maritime warfare.
Awarded the prestigious Anderson Medal by the Society for Nautical Research for the best volume published on an aspect of maritime history for 2010.

This book covers every aspect of the East India Company's trade during the final century of its commercial life as the focus moves steadily eastwards, driven by Britain's unquenchable thirst for China tea. The whole spectrum of the trade, physically and temporally, unfolds through the careers of three generations of an important East India shipping family. Starting as second mate in Salisbury in 1746, William Larkins gained a command, then entered the powerful circle of managing owners who monopolized the supply of the Company's ships. His sons and grandsons followed him, all playing a significant part in the wider struggle to establish Britain's political supremacy in India and dominance of the China Sea trade. From the end of the eighteenth century liberalization eroded their power and wealth: they had to compete in the provision of the Company's ships, while the virile free merchants in the eastern seas finally broke down the Company's privilege of trading between Britain and the east. The last member of the Larkins family to serve the Company adapted to the prevailing conditions following the Company's withdrawal from trade in 1834, carrying British manufactures to China and bringing back tea, boosting his earnings by investing in smuggled opium.

JEAN SUTTON is a maritime historian, author of the highly acclaimed Lords of the East, the East India Company and its Ships (1981, second edition 2000).


November 2010
14 black and white, 10 line illustrations
324 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
The Worlds of the East India Company
ISBN: 9781843835837
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

A Hazardous Voyage
Bombay and 'the Gulphs'
From Malabar to Whampoa
The Worst Voyage: Sumatra
Abuse, Pains and Penalties
The Company in Crisis
The Darkest Years
The Domination of Tea
Diversifying: Brahmins and conflict
Competition and Conflict
An Event Unique in the Company's History
The Fortunes of War
The Machinery of Justice


A brilliant record of a very exciting period of European and Asian history. AUSMARINE

Densely packed with information, the narrative is always clear and readable. (...) As well as providing for the general reader a fascinating account of life on board the East India Company's ships, this book makes a valuable contribution to business history. BUSINESS HISTORY

Sutton brings great knowledge and a mastery of detail to this work, turning a family history into a valuable insight into the Company's ever-evolving business system. ASIAN AFFAIRS

(reviewed together with East India Company's London Workers) These are deeply, intensively researched books rich in detail. ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW

A remarkably rich detailed study. (...) we must acknowledge and praise the enormous research effort that this book represents. ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW

An important addition to the sum of our knowledge on this most important of maritime trading companies. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NAUTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

To be praised as a comprehensive account of the EIC's maritime service. It is an exemplary contribution to the history of British trade and shipbuilding. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY

Meticulously researched, this detailed and eminently readable study will appeal to readers interested in Indian or Chinese history, and in the economic history of South and East Asia. BOOK NEWS

Also in Series