Company’, it was formed by a group of merchants known as the ‘Merchant
Adventures’ in 1599. A charter to the new Company was granted by Queen
Elizabeth (December, 1600) giving it the monopoly of Eastern trade for 15
years. A fresh charter even before the expiry of the first charter was granted
by James I (1609), giving it a monopoly for an indefinite period.
Decision to open a factory at Surat Following the decision of the East
India Company to open a factory at Surat (1608), Captain Hawkins arrived at
Jahangir’s court (1609) to seek permission. Jahangir although initially willing
to grant permission later refused due to Portuguese pressure. But when a
Portuguese fleet was defeated by the English under Captain Best at Swally
(near Surat) in 1612, a farman was issued by Jahangir permitting the English
to erect a factory at Surat (1613).
Arrival of Thomas Roe Sir Thomas came to India as ambassador of James
I to Jahangir’s court in 1615 and stayed there till the end of 1618, during
which period he obtained the emperor’s permission to trade and erect
factories in different parts of the empire. He left India for England in
February, 1619.
Establishment of Factories
West Coast The English established factories at Agra, Ahmadabad, Baroda
and Broach by 1619, all of which were placed under the control of the
president and council of the Surat factory. The company acquired Bombay
from Charles II on lease at an annual rental often pounds in 1668. Gerald
Aungier was its first governor from 1669 to 1677. Surat was replaced by
Bombay as the headquarters of the Company on the west coast in 1687.
South-eastern Coast Factories were established at Masulipatam (1611)
and Armagaon near Pulicat (1626). In 1639 Francis Day obtained the site of
Madras from the Raja of Chandragiri with permission to build a fortified
factory, which was named Fort St. George. Madras soon replaced
Masulipatam as the headquarters of the English on the Coromandal coast, and
in 1658 all the English settlements in eastern India (Bengal, Bihar and Orissa)
and the Coromandal were placed under the control of the president and
council of Fort St George.