East indies

Robert Clive 1757
Lord Clive meeting with Mir Jafar after the Battle of Plassey, 1757. Robert Clive became the first British Governor of Bengal after he had instated Mir Jafar as the Nawab of Bengal. Date: Circa 1760. Credit: Francis Hayman. License: Public Domain.

Merchant Adventurers

In Canada, when merchant adventurers are considered, the Hudson’s Bay Company (the HBC) immediately comes to mind.  King Charles II issued a Charter to Prince Rupert and “the Company of Adventurers of England” in 1670, to facilitate trading into Hudson Bay (the fur trade).  This Charter gave the Company a monopoly over all the trade in the vast lands that were drained by rivers flowing into Hudson Bay.  The HBC came to play a significant role in the evolution of Canada.  The HBC has accumulated a 350-year legacy, and it continues to operate as a business in 2020, albeit under American ownership. 

But the creation of the HBC was preceded in 1600 by the establishment of another group of merchant adventurers.  The English East India Company (the EIC), formally known as the Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies, received a Royal Charter on 31 December of that year, from Elizabeth I.  The EIC was also a monopolistic trading body, intent on exploiting trade between the East and Southeast Asia and India.  The Battle of Plassey in 1757 was a major turning point for the Company, as it was then able to assume full administrative power over its territories, including taxation.  It signaled the start of nearly 200 years of British rule in India, and the decline of French influence in the subcontinent.  By the 1700’s the Company had become very large, and dominated the global textile trade.  The EIC even maintained its own armed forces.  Over the period of its operation the Company was involved variously with trade in Indian spices, cotton, and silk, in Chinese tea, and in the illegal opium ‘business’ with China.  The EIC was abolished by the British government in 1858.  

The Company became indirectly linked to Charlotte Taylor through the financial risk-taking of merchant adventurer Hugh Baillie, “a gentleman of Fortune” (as described by London merchant John Shoolbred in 17 January 1775).  He was the youngest son of Hugh Baillie, Esq., Doctor of Laws.  Both father and son bankrolled Commodore George Walker’s trading activities in the Restigouche region of present-day northeast New Brunswick .    

From History of the County of Ayr: With a Genealogical Account of the families of Ayrshire: 1847, by James Paterson
Page 385

Parish of Monktoun

. . . Hugh Baillie of Monktoun, L.L.D.  He had, eighteen years previously, been invested in the barony of Kilbride.  He married Grizel, d/o George Kirkton, surgeon-apothecary in Edinburgh.  In the marriage contract, dated 16th and 22nd February and 6th May 1720, the parties are thus described: “Hugh Baillie, younger of Monctoun, advocate, eldest son of said William Baillie and Mrs. [Miss] Grizel Kirkton, only d/o George Kirkton, surgeon-apothecary at Edinburgh, with consent of Mrs. Jean Gray, her mother and Mr. George Baillie of Jerviswood [George Baillie, of Jerviswood and Mr. Kirkton, the father of the bride, were cousins], whereby the said William Baillie disposed the said lands and barony to the said Hugh Baillie and the heirs made, whom failing, to the heirs female of the marriage”.  By this lady he had eleven children of whom:

  • (3.) William, in the E.I.C.’s [East Indian Company] service . . . perished in the Black Hole of Calcutta, in 1756 – 28 yr. of age . . . had acquired a considerable fortune, which was remitted to his father.
  • (5.) Jean, m. Mr. Kennan
  • (6.) Margaret m. Counsellor Harding
  • (7.) Leslie was bred to the sea, and died a Commodore in the Company’s [East India Company] service.
  • (8.) Robert, commanded a ship in the E.I.C.’s service.  After acquiring a moderate fortune, returned home at age 28.  He married May, eldest d/o Mr. Reid Cunningham.
  • (11.) Hugh was also bred to the sea, and at an early period of life went to India, where he got an appointment in Calcutta.  After acquiring a handsome fortune, he married Anna, d/o Mr. Pearce, Chief Judge of Calcutta.  He and his family latterly resided at Newfield, in Dundonald parish, where he died 27th September 1818, in 81st year of his age . . . 

. . . Dr. Baillie [Doctor of Laws] had the misfortune to get into embarrassed circumstances, by having large shares in the South Sea Company.  He sold the barony of Kilbride, in consequence, to his brother, but retained Monktoun, upon which he built a large house called Orangefield.  In the end, however, he was obliged to sell Monktoun also, as well as all his property upon Kilwinning.  He afterwards had a farm left him, near Mid-Calder, called Selms, which was also sold.  On a particular occasion he accompanied George II to Hanover, when his Majesty presented him with his picture, which is still in the family.  He was soon after appointed to be Chief Judge of the Admiralty in Dublin.  During his stay in Ireland he was left on an estate called Balleymeca, in the County of Wicklow, which he also sold.  After his wife’s death, he returned with his two unmarried daughters, and lived in Aryshire.  His son, the Commodore, died about this time in India, and left him the life rent of his property.  He then went on to London, where his society was much courted, on account of his intelligence and conversational talent.  He married after the age of 80, Miss Spence, by whom his latter days were rendered comfortable . . . 

In consequence of Dr. Baillie’s embarrassments, the estate of Monktoun or Orangefield, was put into the hands of trustees, by a deed dated 9th and 11th November, 1734 . . . From these Trustees the estate was purchased in 1736 by “James McCrae of Blackheath, in the County of Kent, Esq., late governor of Fort St. George in the East Indies”.           

Notes from Mary Lynn Smith: My research has refined the Baillie family tree, and this work is presented below:

William Baillie
circa 1656-1740 married Margaret Cunninghame in 1688.  A monument placed in Kilwinning churchyard in his memory.  They had at least five children:

Hugh Baillie (Esq./LLD)* circa 1693 (See below for his family details). 
John Baillie circa 1694 (Merchant in Glasgow, two daughters). 
Anne Baillie circa 1695 (Married 1719 to Hugh McBride; she brought £5,000 to the union). 
Robert Baillie (Commanded an EIC ship. Nearly shipwrecked off the Bombay coast.  Married an Indian lady. Two daughters).
Francis Baillie (Captain of Dragoons. Married an Irish lady. Very handsome man, and esteemed the greatest beau of his time. Had a large estate in Ireland). 

Note from Mary Lynn Smith:
1.  Hugh Baillie’s (Esq./LLD) will was written 6 September 1775, and probated on 26 August 1776.

Hugh Baillie (Esq./LLD) circa 1693-1776*
First married Grizel Kirkton 17 Feb. 1720 and second married Frederica Charlotte Spence in 1773.  A list of the children of his marriage to Grizel Kirkton is shown below:

Jean Baillie Born 1 Jan. 1723.  (Died before 26 Feb. 1727).
Grizel Baillie Born 10 Feb. 1724.  (Twin).  (Died at Canalbank on 21 May 1796, per Edinburgh Advertiser 24 May 1796).).
Margaret Baillie Born 13 Jan. 1724.  (Twin).  (Married to Councillor Harding, Dublin, Ireland).
Susan Baillie Born 17 Feb. 1726.
Jean Baillie Born 26 Feb. 1727.  (Married to Mr. Kennan, Dublin, Ireland).
Leslie Baillie Born 3 Dec. 1728.  (Said to have been bred to the sea.  Died 1759 as Commodore in EIC service.  Left his father a Life Rent).
William Baillie Born circa 1728.  (Died 20 June 1756 in the Black Hole of Calcutta, in East India Company service.  Left a fortune to his father).  
Robert Baillie Born 20 August 1731.  (Commanded an East India Company ship, made a moderate fortune while in India.  Came home at age 28.  Married Mae Cunninghame, 5 daughters, 2 sons.  Son John was taken prisoner, and died in India).  
Katharin/Catherine Baillie Born 28 April 1733  (Twin).  (Said to have died young).
Hugh Baillie Born 28 April 1733 (Twin).  (Also bred to the sea.  In the service of the EIC acquired a handsome fortune.  He married Anna Pearce, daughter of the Chief Judge of Calcutta.  Died 27 September 1813, in the 81st year of his age.  His only son Hugh went to India and died there in 1806.  His  eldest daughter married Mr. Davies, the Judge Advocate of Calcutta).
Philadelphia Baillie Born 2 July 1739 (Female).

Notes from Mary Lynn Smith:
1. Grizel and Margaret Baillie Born 1724 may have been one daughter named Grizel Margaret Baillie (if they were not twins).  In Hugh Baillie’s (Doctor of Laws) will, written on 6 Sept. 1775, probated 26 Aug. 1776, there was no visible comma between the names of Grizel and Margaret.
2.  No birth or baptismal documents for William Baillie found by Mary Lynn Smith.  All others were accounted for.  Were he and Leslie twins, or were William and Leslie one and the same, e.g., William Leslie Baillie?
3. Hugh Baillie’s (the son) will was written 7 June 1810, and probated on 30 April 1814.
4. Robert Baillie’s (the son) will was written 31 October 1818, and probated on 11 November 1820. 

From The London Chronicle or Universal Evening Post Tuesday June 7-Thursday, June 9, 1757

An extract from a letter received by the India Ships arrived in Ireland, containing a partial account of the unfortunate Affair at Bengal.

. . . The same Night 170 of us were crammed into a Hole not large enough for 50 of us to breathe in; the effect of this was, that only 16 were alive the next morning.  Four of us were sent to the Nabob’s camp and put into irons.

. . . A list of the persons killed in the Defence of Calcutta  and Fort William, when attacked by Moors in June 1756, also those who died in the Black-Hole overheated, and for want of water . . . William Baillie, Esq., with a shot to the head.

From New World Encyclopedia

The Black Hole of Calcutta

This incident refers to the 43 British soldiers and their Indian comrades-in-arms who perished in the Fort William brig, 20 June 1756.  The events leading up to the Black Hole of Calcutta involved a campaign by the Nawab of Bengal against the British East India Company security forces in Bengal.  In June 1756 he marched on the Company’s settlement with a sizable force of 30,000 foot soldiers, 20,000 horsemen, 400 trained elephants and 80 pieces of cannon.  Faced with overwhelming superiority, most of the British soldiers fled along with their Indian troops.  (The Nawab) took captive the few who remained, putting them into the brig at Fort William for the night.  The brig had been called the Black Hole by the British, and the name stuck after the events of the night had passed.  20 June 1756 proved a sweltering night, 43 of the 64 prisoners perishing from heat exhaustion and suffocation.  Robert Clive, the man who proved most important in establishing the British East India Company as a colonial power in India, led a putative expedition defeating the Nawab and the Marathas.  Clive contrived over the next 11 years, until 1766, when he left India, to set up the British East India Company in firm control of much of India.

From www.quebecheritageweb.com  Quebec Heritage Web – Matapedia – Restigouche Heritage Trail by Dwane Wilkin

Notes from Mary Lynn Smith: 1757 (The Battle of Plassey), 1759 (the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec), and 1760 (the smaller Battle of the Restigouche River), were ‘Annus Mirabilis’ [remarkable or auspicious] years for Britain.

The Battle of the Restigouche River in July 1760 was the last British/French engagement of the Seven Years’ War.  Three French ships, with supplies from France, were caught by British warships while taking refuge in the estuary of the river.  The French, with their Acadian and MicMac allies, were unable to resist the British force; the French vessels were scuttled.  To-day, artifacts from the scuttled French frigate Le Machault (of 26 guns) are on display at the Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site at Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec. 

Dwane Wilkin writes that “the fall of New France marked the beginning of a new era for the Gaspé.  It’s fish, timber, and fur resources lured Scottish ? traders ? George Walker and Hugh Baillie to the Restigouche in 1768;  English merchants John and Henry Shoolbred soon followed.  Then, in the aftermath of the American Revolution, many New England Loyalists came north along the St. John River from the Bay of Fundy and cleared land.  They were later joined by waves of Irish, Acadian, and English homesteaders”.

From Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants by Donald Whyte.  Source Publ. Code 9758.

Hugh Baillie arrived NS in 1768.

From archivesportaleurope.net United Kingdom – British Library: Asia, Pacific, and Africa Collections

“The Clive Collection, comprising the papers of Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of Plassey (1725-1774), Governor of Bengal 1757-1760 and 1765-1767, Edward Clive, 1st Earl of Powis (1754-1839), Governor of Madras 1798-1804 and other family members”.

1. Mss Eur G37/18/10 ff.4.5 Petition from Hugh Baillie, Doctor of Laws, to the Court of Directors between 1769-1773

Requesting the payment of money owed to his son William Baillie who died in the Black Hole of Calcutta.

2. Mss Eur G37/18/10 ff.6-7 Petition of Hugh Baillie to the Court of Directors after 1773

This petition is in response to their refusal of his earlier petition for the repayment of money owed to his deceased son William.  He requests that his question may be assessed by two Directors, one chosen by the Court of Directors and the other chosen by himself or Clive.  An annuity would be acceptable to the petitioner as the repayment of the desired sum.

From Department of Agriculture – Archives Sessional Papers, Volume 28, Issue 6 – 1895 Canada 58 Victoria Sessional Papers (No. 8B) A 1895

Page 301

[In margin 1770 June 12 London] . . . Power of Attorney by Hugh Baillie, L.L.D., Hugh Baillie, junior, and Allan Auld, to George Walker, empowering him to apply to the Governor and Council of Nova Scotia for 30,000 acres at Caraquet, in the Bay of Chaleurs , in the name of Hugh Baillie, L.L.D., 30,000 acres on the south side of the Rustigore [Restigouche], including the salmon fishery in the name of Allan Auld; the river Merimachee [Miramichi] with the fisheries above and below those granted to Davidson and Corte, with three miles back and the branches of the river, in name of Hugh Baillie, junior; 10,000 acres at Nepesiquit [Nepisiguit], with the rivers and fisheries, and 1,000 acres at Belldown [Belledune], with the beach and pond, in name of George Walker, late commander of the squadron of private ships of war, now of Nova Scotia.
Colonial Correspondence N.S. Vol 6 P.8.  

[In margin, June 12 Halifax] This application was enclosed in Campbell’s letter of 22nd December; a duplicate is in B.T.N.S. Vol 26.           

Pages 304 and 305

Memorial (undated) for land, received by Lords of Trade on the date in margin [1771 April 19].  George Walker, formerly commander of the “Royal Family”, private ships of war; Hugh Baillie [son], late of Bengal; William Semple, late of Bengal; Hugh Baillie [father] Doctor of Laws; and Allan Auld, Merchant in London, for 15,000 acres in Nova Scotia . . . 

[In margin, 1771 May 4, Whitehall] Secretary of State (Hillsborough) to Campbell.  The proposals mentioned in a letter to George Walker are before the Lords of Trade on a memorial presented by the gentlemen interested.  The importance of having the Indians settled near Halifax, if that can be done without expense to the public, shall be glad of an opportunity to promote the rewarding of Baillie and to assist the commendable object in view.

Note from Mary Lynn Smith: Hugh Baillie arrived in NS 1773.  From Scottish Emigration to Canada Before Confederation.  Source Publ. Code 9775.5 

Page 313

[In margin 1773 June 16 Miramichi]  Contract between Hugh Baillie and William Davidson for the sale of lands by Davidson to Baillie [Miramichi was part of Nova Scotia until 1784, when the Province of New Brunswick was created].  The papers are endorsed: “Original papers belonging to Hugh Baillie Esq., concerning certain lands possessed by W. Davidson at Miramichi in the Bay of Chaleurs, 13th May, 1789.  N.B.  Mr. Baillie’s memorial respecting these lands was sent to the Privy Council, the 16th of October, 1786.

Page 439

[In margin 1785]  . . . Memorial of Hugh Baillie [son] that his lands should not be escheated, in view of the large amounts he had expended in his improvement from 1772, until the time of the disturbances in America, when the settlers had no security.  A+WI Vol 597 p. 286.

The date of the memorial is noted in pencil as “23 December 1783”, a modern conjecture; that was the date of Lord Sydney’s appointment to be Scty of State, an office he held till May, 1791.  The memorialist did not return from the East Indies till 1784 so that the conjectured date of 1785 is at least approximately correct.

Observations upon the estimates for the civil establishment of the colonies for 1786  . . . BTNS Vol 55 (These include N.S., N.B., St. John (PEI), and Cape Breton, also the Bahamas and Bermuda.  There is neither date nor signature).

From Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations Jan 1768-Dec 1775 K.H. Ledward editor 1937 p. 186-190.

Journal May 1771 Vol 78

The following petitions and memorials for grants of land in America were read and ordered to lye upon the table VIZ.

Nova Scotia

Petition of George Walker, formerly Commander-in-Chief of the royal family’s private ships of war, to the Board, praying for a grant of fifteen thousand acres of land in Nova Scotia . . . 

Folio 105
Petition of Hugh Baillie [son], late of Bengal in the East Indies, praying for a grant of 15,000 acres of land in N.S.

Petition of Hugh Baillie Doctor of Laws [father] to the Board, praying for a grant of 15,000 acres of land in N.S.

Petition of Allan Auld, merchant in London, to the Board, praying for a grant of 15,000 acres of land in Nova Scotia.

From Newspapers.com.

The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland)  24 April 1732, Thursday.

Note from Mary Lynn Smith: The Caledonian Mercury excerpt shown below provides an example of the ‘deep cut’ inflicted by the South Sea Bubble hoax on Hugh Baillie, Esq., Doctor of Laws.  The Encyclopaedia Brittanica says that “the bubble, or hoax, centred on the fortunes of the South Sea Company, founded in 1711 to trade (mainly in slaves) with Spanish America, on the assumption that the War of the Spanish Succession, then drawing to a close, would end with a treaty permitting such trade”.  The market for South Sea stock collapsed in 1720, ruining many highly-placed individuals.  

. . . That the lands of MILNQUARTER, in the Parish of St. Quivox and Shire of Air, within half a mile of the Town of Air, upon the water thereof: Are to be exposed to Sale by a voluntary Roup [auction], upon the Twelfth Day of May next, betwixt the Hours of Two and Four after Noon, in the House of Mrs. Hutcheson in Air.  The yearly Rent of the Lands is 86 Bolls 7 Pecks Bear, and 29 Bolls 12 Pecks Meal, with £103 06 08 of money; out of which, there is payable to Hugh Baillie of Monkton, Superior, £13 10 sh. Scots of Feu-duty yearly, and 4 Bolls Meal to the Minister of St. Quivox.  The Rental, Progrel’s of Writs and Conditions of Roup, to be seen at the Town-Clerks Chamber in Air.

The Public Advertiser (London, Greater London, England) 12 April 1765, Friday.

. . . They write from Leghorn, that a Revival of their East India Company, is again on the carpet, and two large ships are now fitting out on a trading voyage for three years to the Coast of Chine.  Note from Mary Lynn Smith: Wikipedia – Livorno, an Italian port city, traditionally known in English as Leghorn . . . western coast of Tuscany on Ligurian Sea.

The Derby Mercury (Derby, Derbyshire, England) 02 Jan 1746 Sunday.

. . . Dublin, Dec.20.  On Saturday last was condemned by Dr. Hugh Baillie, Judge of the Court of Admiralty, the ship called L’Amiable Maria of Bayonne, taken, by his Majesty’s ship the Inverness, Capt. Legg, Commander; and yesterday was condemned the Leopard of Bayonne, a privateer of 22 Guns and 200 Men, taken by his Majesty’s ship the Windsor, Capt. Dennis, Commander.

The Penny London Post or the Morning Advertiser. (London, Greater London, England) 22 June 1747

Last week Dr. Hugh Baillie, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty condemned the Grand Allexin a French Privateer, being a ship belonging to English Proprietors, and restored her to the first owners, they paying Salvage to the Captors, and a Commission was ordered to take an inventory of her Apparel and Furniture, with whatever had been furnished since her being taken by the French to be given to the Captors.   

From 08_Chapter 2.pdf-IR@INFLIBNET Chapter II, Colonial Penetration.

Page 56

Although the East India Company was not directly involved in the opium trade as the Chinese government declared it illegal it had the lion’s share of the profits.

Page 59/60

Ever since the middle of the 18th century some of the Bengal-based European concerns were carrying on trade with Assam [NE India state, in the valley of the Brahmaputra, noted for the production of tea].  The profits earned by Traders could not escape the Company’s attention.  In 1765, Lord Clive est. Society of Trade to compensate the chief officers for the loss sustained by them as a result of the strict observance of the covenants that prohibited acceptance of nuzzeranas or presents and participating in inland trade consisting mainly of salt, betel-nut, and tobacco.  The Society was to deal only in these articles and the profits were to be distributed in alloted shares, to the Governors and Councillors and the senior civil servants and military servants.  The Committee of Trade which was responsible for carrying into execution the objects of the Society appointed European agents to transact its business in different parts of the country.  Hugh Baillie, one among the eleven agents so appointed, was posted to Goalpara to supply the articles of inland trade to Assam and other neighbouring countries.  It was not known what success Baillie obtained at Goalpara on behalf of the Society of Trade.  The Society itself ceased to exist since August 1768 when the inland trade was thrown open to all persons, Indians and Europeans.  Baillie, however, intended to make use of his exclusive knowledge and experience of the Assam trade to advance his cause as well as that of the company.

From Anglo-Assamese Relations by S.K. Bhuyan, 1771-1826 Second Edition, Gauhati, 1974, p. 67.

. . . It was only in 1774 that the Baillie [the son] was allowed to go to GOALPARA.  Though the Court of Directors had systematically referred to Baillie as “resident of Assam” and he himself had described his nomination to Goalpara as an appointment ‘by the Hon’ble Court of Directors to be resident for the Company in the Kingdom of Assam’, he was admitted officially in the service of the Company only in 1777.   

From www.merchantnetworks.com.au/timelines/timelines4.htm  The Cozens/Dan Byrnes  Merchants Networks Project Up-dated March 2012

For 1750

The British East India Company assumes control of Bengal and Bihar, opium-growing districts of India.  British shipping dominates the opium trade out of Calcutta to China [Reference: Opium: A History, by Martin Booth, Simon and Schuster Ltd., 1996.]

. . . Problematically, as well, to the present day, trade in opium from India to China from the 1760’s (for the British) . . . remains a bone of contention.  Just who of British and US traders profited most from the opium trades is a problem that continues to worry many “researchers” . . . In fact, it is impossible to seriously pursue . . . commercial careers, without also considering traffick in opium . . . the question of 18th and 19th century family involvement in convict transportation also seems to bother a variety of British families, who prefer not to advertise their families’ maritime endeavours . . . reminiscent of the prejudice . . . of feeling shame at the discovery that a family has a convict ancestor.

. . . Gull marks 1773 as a turning point for Britain’s fresh emphasis on opium dealing (E.M. Gull, British Economic Interest in the Far East.  London, Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 13) . . . The year 1773 was the earliest recorded for British merchants importing opium into Canton . . . Before 1773, the Chinese had taken about 200 chests of opium per year into China; by 1773 the volume increased to 1,000 chests per year and it provided an acceptable substitute for silver “in balancing the trade with China” . . .



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