The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3

Allen, Thomas


The East India House, 1620.



The present structure was raised in the place of the former India-house, which was built in on the spot where stood the mansion of sir William Craven, a merchant, who was lord mayor in ; this ancient edifice, represented above was for a considerable period, the office where the company transacted their business. The building erected, prior to the present edifice, only extended the breadth of the western wing, and was occupied by a single director; but being unequal in accommodation and splendor to the increasing trade and opulence of the company, it was thought proper to remove it, and to erect the present noble building upon the old site, and that of several private houses purchased and taken down for that purpose. The present erection, or rather the enlargement and new fronting of the original building, took place in , under the direction of Mr. R. Jupp. Some apartments have since been built by Mr. C. Cockerell; and considerable alterations have been subsequently made by Mr. Wilkins. The principal entrance from is by means of a portico of fluted columns of the Ionic


order, supporting a frieze, decorated with antique ornaments, surmounted by a pediment; in the tympanum of which is an elegant group of emblematical figures, by Mr. Bacon; the principal, representing his majesty George III. leaning on his sword in his left hand, and extending the shield of protection with his right arm, over Britannia, who is embracing Liberty. On side Mercury, attended by Navigation, and followed by tritons and sea horses, emblematical of Commerce, introduces Asia to Britannia, before whose feet she spreads her productions. On the other side, appears Order, accompanied by Religion and Justice. Behind these appear the city barge, and other emblems appertaining to the metropolis, near which are Integrity and Industry. The western angle contains a representation of the Thames, and the eastern, that of the Ganges. On the apex of the pediment is a fine statue of Britannia, holding in her left hand a spear and a cap of liberty upon it. On the east and west corners are Asia seated on a camel, and a beautiful figure of Europe on a horse.

Under the portico is the door of the hall; the principal entrance forming a recess from the portico, with a handsome pediment, and windows on each side. The wings are plain, except the basement windows, which are arched; above these are others of a square form. The wings are surmounted by a handsome ballustrade. Under the portico the door of the hall leads to a long passage, taking a southern direction, and also leading to a court and court-room, surrounded by offices and apartments of various descriptions. In the former are of Tippoo's long tyger guns, the muzzles of which are contrived to represent the extended jaws of that ferocious animal.

The grand court room on the right of the passage is very elegantly fitted up, and is extremely light. The eastern side, or extremity, is nearly occupied by a chimney-piece, of the finest white marble, the cornice being supported by caryatides of white, on pedestals of veined marble; these, with the brackets, &c. also of white, form a beautiful contrast. But the greatest ornament of this room, is the fine design, on bas-relief, in white marble, of Britannia, sitting on a globe, under a rock by the sea-shore, looking to the eastward. Her right hand leans on an union shield, whilst her left hand holds a trident, and her head is decorated by a naval crown. boys appear behind her, looking regardfully at her; the other diverting himself with the flowing riches. Britannia herself is attended by female figures, emblematical of India, Asia, and Africa; the in a reclining posture, presenting a casket of jewels; the , holding in her right hand an incense vessel, as an emblem of spices; and in her left, the bridle of a camel. The figure representing Africa, is decorated with the spoils of an elephant, and rests hand upon the head of a lion. Old father Thames appears upon the shore, his head crowned with flags; a rudder in his right hand, and a cornucopia in his left. In the back ground is seen mercantile labour, and the ships riding on the ocean. The arms of the


company crown the whole, elegantly adorned. The western extremity of the room exhibits a grand Corinthian portico, with an elegant clock: the south side has ranges of windows; the of the architecture is excellent; and an uncommonly fine Turkey carpet covers the whole flooring.

From the room on the south-east is an opening to the committee room, in which, over a beautiful marble chimney-piece is an excellent portrait of general Stringer Lawrence. The north door of the court room leads to the old sale room. The west end of this apartment is semi-circular; and here, niches contain marble statues of lord Clive, admiral sir George Pocock, major-general Lawrence, and marquis Cornwallis, in Roman habits; with an excellent statue of sir Eyre Coote, in his regimentals, and Warren Hastings. For the accommodation of bidders, there is a considerable ascent of steps to the east; and on the top is a stately colonnade of the Doric order.

The New Sale Room is a fine specimen of the abilities of Messrs. Jupp and Holland, and is lighted from the ceiling. It is ornamented with pilasters, and contains several paintings illustrative of Indian and other commerce.

In the room for the Committee of Correspondence is a portrait of marquis Cornwallis, in a general's uniform, and another of Warren Hastings, esq. on each side of a handsome inlaid chimney-piece. The portrait of the famous nabob of Arcot, and of the late Persian ambassador, decorate the north and south ends, and by their trappings afford a striking contrast to the plain dress of Mr. Hastings. This room also contains a large painting by West, representing the presentation of a Dewannee to lord Clive, by the great Mogul, and the following views, painted by Ward, exhibiting interesting specimens of Indian architecture, viz. a View of Trichinopoly ; a curious rock, called Viri Malli; the Bath of the Bramins in Chillimbrum; Madura to the east; Tippy Colum; Tanks, and Mausoleum of the Seer Shaw; Choultry of Seringam; south entrance to the Pagoda at that place, with various Choultrys, &c.

The Library is situated in the eastern wing of the building. It is not capacious, measuring only feet in length, and in breadth. On the south side there is a semi-circular recess with a bust of the duke of Wellington by Turnevelli; and another of Colebrooke, the orientalist. Over the chimney-piece are busts of Warren Hastings, and Orme. the historian of India.

Every book known to have been published in any language whatever, is to be found here, relative to history, laws, or the jurisprudence of Asia. The company also possess an unparalleled collection of manuscripts in all the Oriental languages; but the most of them were presents from gentlemen employed in the service. Many of these manuscripts are written upon the smooth silky paper of India, and are ornamented with historical and mythological designs executed in the most brilliant colours, with burnished gold.



Tippoo Saib's copy of the Koran, brought from Seringapatam, is of the most remarkable, next to a plain manuscript in the Persian character, relating his dreams; the whole of which seem to have resulted from his ruling passion, the destruction of the British power in the East. The Malayan manuscripts in this library are said to have been scratched with a sharp pointed tool upon the leaves of the palm-tree, joined at the ends and made to open like a fan. Others, folded up in the ancient manner, extend several yards in length when they are opened. Besides these, there are many cases containing original maps or charts of the countries in the east; with several forts, &c. belonging to the company. There are likewise several volumes of drawings of Indian plants, and other representations of the arts, manners, and costume of the orientals. Here is also the only collection that has been brought to England of the printed books of the Chinese, consisting of some hundreds of volumes; each set including or , enveloped in a blue cover, with a flat and button, in the manner of a pocket book. Next to the Library is the Museum, containing the Babylonian inscriptions originally written in what is called the nail-headed character. The discovery of some of these inscriptions at Persepolis by the celebrated Danish traveller, Niebuhr, induced the directors to order Mr. Harford Jones, resident at the court of Persia, to collect all the remains of this kind he could procure. The specimen transmitted by him were bricks, apparently baked by the heat of the sun upon a matting made of flags, the impression of which remains visible on the bottom of them; each of these bricks measuring inches square by inches in thickness, the upper, or outer sides, containing an indented or impressed inscription of several lines, not less than , or more than , of what is called the nail-headed, or Persepolitan character. These bricks were by Mr. Jones's procurement dug out of some very deep foundations near the town of Hillah on the banks of the Euphrates. These foundations were strongly cemented together by bitumen. The inscribed books are supposed to have been the facings of a wall. A fragment of jasper is to be seen here, presented by sir Hugh Inglis to the court of directors; it resembles a block of the pebble kind, upwards of feet in length: the sides and the extremities are entirely covered with inscribed characters, ranged in columns, and not less than lines in the whole.

To the credit of the court of directors, for the gratification of the curious, they have caused engravings of the whole of these remains of antiquity to be made from the drawings of Mr. Fisher, a gentleman in their service, a part of which only have been published by him. Some fragments of the ancient city of Gour of great extent, and which formerly flourished near Patna, on the shores of the



Ganges, are not less interesting than the curiosities already described. The company also possess some beautiful pieces of Chinese rock-work, in hard bronze wood, with temples of ivory, the men, trees, birds, &c. seen about them, being formed of silver embossed, and mother of pearl. There is also a large painting, representing a Chinese festival, executed very much in the European style. The whole of these were intended as presents to the late emperor Napoleon, when consul, but were taken by an English vessel at sea. The trophies obtained from Tippoo Saib, form some of the in value in this repository; the most gratifying are his standards, which have been described as displaying a ground of party coloured silk, sprinkled with the tiger-spot, with the sun in its meridian splendour. These standards have been perforated by a number of bullets, &c. The footstool of his throne, which is also preserved here, is of solid gold; its form exhibits that of a tiger's head with its eyes and teeth of crystal; the velvet carpet on which he reclined, is also here. The throne itself, constructed by his orders soon after he succeeded to the Mysore territory, was a most splendid fabrication of massy gold, elevated about feet from the ground, under a canopy supported by pillars of gold, and embellished with jewels and pendant crystals of unusual magnitude; but this was broken up and the parts disposed of, the produce being distributed as prize-money in the British army. But here are several pieces of his armour, consisting of waistcoats and helmets of cork with various coverings of silk, faced with green velvet, supposed to have been capable of resisting a musket ball. His mantle, which is preserved here, has also some Persian writing upon it, conveying the superstitious idea of its being invulnerable, from the circumstance of its being dipped in the holy well at Mecca.

The most celebrated of all the spoils found in the palace of the tyrant, beyond all doubt, is the musical tiger, a kind of hand organ, contained in a case made to represent that ferocious animal in the act of tearing out the heart of a human victim. This instrument, which is partly musical, may be played upon, having keys like those of an ancient organ; and the sounds emitted from it were designed to resemble the groans or cries of some unhappy victim its prey, with a hoarser note at times made to imitate the horrid growl of the tiger. Upon this instrument, it is said, Tippoo would often exercise his skill, with no other view than to excite in his imagination those acute agonies in which it was his common practice to indulge.

In order to form some idea how the vast concerns of the East- India company are managed at home, as well as abroad, it is to be observed, that a proprietor of stock to the amount of whether male or female, native or foreigner, has a right to be a manager, and to give a vote in the general council; is a qualification for a director. The directors are in number, including the chairman and deputy chairman, who may be re-elected in turn.



There are directors annually chosen, in place of who go out by rotation, and remain in office for years successively. The chairman and deputy chairman have each a salary of a year, and each of the other directors has a salary of The meetings of the court of directors are to be held once a week at least, but they are oftener summoned if occasion require it. There are several committees formed of these directors, and each committee has the superintendency of the various branches of the company's business and concerns.

A commercial association for trading with India had been formed in , when persons subscribed, to the amount of l , in various sums from to but in consequence of the pending treaty with Spain, the government delayed to sanction it. The charter of this great commercial company was dated on the , and its duration limited to years. The money subscribed by the adventurers was augmented to , of which was expended in the purchase and equipment of ships; was appropriated to the bullion, and which, with goods to the value of were carried out to commence a traffic with the mighty empire of Hindostan.

The expedition of the East India company sailed from Torbay on the : it proved successful, as, with a single exception, did others that followed, the profits varying from to as high as per cent. In the company obtained a revival of their charter, without any limitation as to its duration, except that if it was found injurious to the nation their privileges should, after years' notice, cease and expire: but so far was this from being the case, that when the years of the renewed charter had expired, this privileged body became a joint-stock company.

In the infancy of all great undertakings, and before rules and ordinances become respectable through long use, a want of subordination often occurs; and thus we find, that, by the year , a merchant named Bragge petitioned the king and company for a redress of his grievances; wherein he says,

Heare the right, O lord my king, and consider unto my righteous cause: and let my pretence come forth from your most gratious presence, and see right and equitie done unto me and my poore partners.

And to sir Thomas Smith and the company he thus addresses himself:

Nowe, brethren, in the name of our lord Jesus Xt, that yee all speake


thing, amid that there bee no dissentions amongst you; but bee knitt in


minde and in


judgement; for itt hath been declared unto me that there are contentions amongst you.

His claim is for ; and, in the progress of his statements, it is curious to observe the mixture of religion and merchandize, and the cutting applications of particular texts of Scripture.



The following item does him credit.



negroes, or Indian people. Well, for the estimation of theis poore soules, they are not to be vallewed at any price. The cause why, I will shewe unto you. Because the lorde Jesus hath suffered death as well for them as for all you. And therefore will I not reckon the price of Xtians. For, in time, the Lord may call them to be true Christians; the which I most humbly beseech.

He adds, that the arrival of of his ships kept an island of theirs from starvation; and charges moderately for several articles.

item more.



doggs and a greate many carts, which, under God (as by your booke written of late) ridd away and devoured all the ratts in that island, which formerly eate up all your come, and many other blessed fruits which that lande affoarded; well, for theis I will demaund but


. apiece for the doggs, and lett the catts goe.

The articles imported were at these prices, .

In India.In England.
 Sold at
A book of muslin 20s.30s. and 40s.
Zuratt satins per piece 40s.3l.
Taffata quiltsfrom 10l. to 20l.
Raw silk20s. per lb.
Indigo6s. 8d. per lb.
Long pepper2s. per lb.

When the expedition to India was sent out by the company, queen Elizabeth gave the commander, captain Lancaster, letters of introduction to the several potentates to whom he might have occasion to apply. The traffic had, however, become of so much importance in , that it was determined to send sir Thomas Roe, as ambassador to the Mogul court: his mission was completely successful, for he obtained a treaty, giving permission to the English to establish factories in any part of the Mogul dominions, particularly Surat and Bengal. Sir Thomas, justly enough presuming on his success, was very careful in communicating his advice to the directors of the East India company; he particularly cautioned them against all territorial acquisitions and military expense, and pointed out a more powerful and less hazardous mode in which they might succeed:

Half my charge,

says he,

shall compel all this court to be your slaves. The best way to do your business in it, is to find some Mogul that you may entertain for

one thousand

rupees a year, as your solicitor at court.

Whether the directors followed the advice of their ambassador or not, does not appear; but it is more than probable that it was not wholly lost on them.

The trade to India soon became much too extensive for the capital employed in it, and in - a joint stock company was formed, with a capital of : the company now consisted of proprietors, and had ships of various


burdens, from to tons each. In a joint stock company was formed, with a capital of ; but it was not until the year - that the important settlement was made in India, by the erection of a fort at Madraspatam, which was called Fort St. George, and was afterwards erected into a presidency in -. The directors, like sir Thomas Roe, were at opposed to making territorial acquisitions, but they soon abandoned that line of policy, and saw

a goodly prospect tempting to the view

in establishing their power in India.

A new East India company was formed in , with a capital of millions; but after a feeble government of years, it was united with the old company, which took the name of

The united company of merchants trading to the East Indies.

The business was now managed regularly at home, and in India there were presidencies, at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, all independent of each other, and accountable only to the government of England.

Although the desire of the directors to acquire somewhat more than a commercial footing in India had long been apparent, yet so late as the year the territory belonging to the company at Madras, which for upwards of a century had been the principal settlement, extended only miles along the shore, and did not exceed a mile in breadth. The number of English did not exceed persons, of whom were soldiers in the garrison.

The French had by this time become very active in India, and not only seized on Calcutta, but excited a revolution in the Carnatic. Fortunately for the English East India company, colonel (afterwards lord) Clive was at that time in India, and although employed in a civil capacity, displayed talents which proved him qualified him for more important services. With a force of Europeans and Seapoys, he seized on Arcot, and defended it for days against a force of men. This extraordinary man effected a complete revolution in the affairs of the East India company;--had his measures not been as skilful as they were gigantic, their trade might have been annihilated.

The territorial acquisitions of lord Clive were successively extended under the governments of Warren Hastings, the marquis of Cornwallis, and the marquis of Hastings, until they became that vast empire which at present constitutes the possession of the East India company in India.

The commerce of the East India company has kept pace with its territorial acquisitions. The imports have been continually augmenting, and the exports, since the trade to India was by the act of partially thrown open, have been singularly increased. It appears by the parliamentary returns, that our exports in merchandize, which in only amounted to , had in the year increased to , but as the market was considerably overstocked, and the exports in the following year were not more


than half that sum, the amount may not annually much exceed millions. Independent of the commerce with their possessions in India, the company has an exclusive trade in tea with China, and all the islands and ports between the and the Straits of Magellan. How much this branch of the trade has increased may be known from the circumstance, that the order given by the East India company for tea was in -, when their agents were directed to send weight only, and in the quantity consumed in England was nearly millions of pounds weight, yielding a revenue to the government of upwards of millions sterling!

In was formerly a mansion-house of the king's, called the king's Artirce, and on the west side of the same street, was another mansion, having a chapel on the south, and a garden on the west, belonging to the lord Nevill: which garden now forms the green-yard of Leadenhall. This house, in the of Richard II. pertained to sir Simon Burley, and sir John Burley his brother; it was taken down afterwards, and the front new built of timber, by Hugh Offley, alderman.

At the north-west corner of , was (of old time)


great messuage, called Benbridge's-inn: Raphe Holland, draper, about the year


, gave it to John Gill, master, and to the wardens and fraternity of taylors, and linen-armorers of St. John Baptist in London, and to their successors for ever. They did set up in place thereof a large frame of timber, containing in the high street


great house, and before it, to the corner of




other tenements, the corner house being the largest; and then down


divers proper tenements. All which the merchant-taylors in the reign of Edward VI. sold to Stephen Kirton, merchant-taylor and alderman.

Adjoining this on the high-street was the lord Souch's messuage or tenement,

in place whereof, Richard Wethel, merchant-taylor, built a fair house, with an high tower, the


in number, and


of timber, that ever I learned,

says Stow,

to have been builded, to overlook neighbours in this city.

In this neighbourhood was also a large mansion, known by the name of the Green gale, and tenanted by Michael Pistoy, Lombard, who held it, with a tenement and shops, in the reign of Richard II., who in the of his reign gave it to Roger Crophull and Tho. Bromeflete, esqrs. by the name of the Green gate, in the parish of St. Andrew upon , in ward; Philip Malpas, alderman, and of the sheriffs, afterwards dwelled therein, and was there

robbed and spoiled of his goods,

to a great value, by Jack Cade, and other rebels, in the year . Afterwards, in the reign of Henry VII. it was seized into the king's hands. And then granted unto John Alston, after that


unto William de la Rivers, and subsequently by Henry VIII. to John Mutas, a Pickard, or Frenchman, who dwelt there, and harboured in his house many Frenchmen, that kalendred wolsteds, and did other things, contrary to the franchises of the citizens. Wherefore on evil May-day, which was in the year , the apprentices and others destroyed his house, and if they could have found Mutas, they would have murdered him. Sir Peter Mutas, his son, sold this house to David Woodrofe, alderman; whose son, sir Nicholas Woodrofe, alderman, sold it to John More, alderman, who next possessed it.

In the year , partly at the charges of the parish of St. Andrew, and partly at the charges of the chamber of London, a water-pump was raised in this high street of ward, near unto corner. For the placing of which pump, having broken up the ground, they were forced to dig more than fathom deep, before they came to any main ground. Where they found a hearth made of Roman tiles, every tile half a yard square, and about inches thick: they found coal lying there also. Then digging fathom into the main, they found water sufficient and set up the pump.

On the west side of , is the ward school of and . On the site of this school was formerly a church called St. Mary Pellyper, or by the Axe, which formerly belonged to the Skinner's company. In the school room is the following inscription:

Ecclesiae et Reijus Seminaria

Anno Dom.



In the room is also an old shield of arms in stone, displaying the following bearings: party per pale ... and .... a saltire counter changed.

This parish, about the year , was united to the parish church of St. Andrew .

In the parish of St. Augustine in the Wall an earl of Oxford had his inn: and the last will of Agnes lady Bardolph, in , was dated from hence, in these words; Hospitio, &c. from the inn of the habitation of the lord, the earl of Oxenford, in the parish of St. Augustines de Papey, London.


[] Brayley. ii. p. 767.

[] This petition, most exquisitely written, is preserved in the King's Library of SS. 17 b. c xvii.

[] Maitland, vol ii, p. 1004

[] Vide ante. vol. i. p. 202.

[] Vide ante, p. 90.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: The site, extent, buildings, population, commerce, and a view of the progressive increase of London
 CHAPTER II: List of the parishes and churches in London, with their incumbents, &c
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of Aldersgate Ward
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of Aldgate Ward
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of Bassishaw Ward
CHAPTER VI: History and Topography of Billingsgate Ward
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of Bishopsgate Ward, Without and Within
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of Bread-street Ward
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of Bridge Ward Within
CHAPTER X: History and Topography of Broad-street Ward
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of Candlewick Ward
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of Castle Baynard Ward
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of Cheap Ward
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of Coleman-street Ward
CHAPTER XV: History and Topography of Cordwainer's-street Ward
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of Cornhill Ward
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Ward Within
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Yard Without
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topography of Dowgate Yard
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of Farringdom Ward Within
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of Farringdon Ward Without
CHAPTER XXII: History and Topography of Langbourn Ward
CHAPTER XXIII: History and Topography of Lime-street Ward
CHAPTER XXIV: History and Topogrpahy of Portsoken Ward
CHAPTER XXV: History and Topography of Queenhithe Ward
CHAPTER XXVI: History and Topography of Tower Ward
CHAPTER XXVII: History and Topography of Vintry Ward
CHAPTER XXVIII: History and Topography of Wallbrook Ward