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