A Reply On Behalf of the Present East-India Company

A Reply on behalf of the Present East-India Company, to a Paper of Complaints, commonly called, The Thirteen Articles, delivered by their Adversaries, to the Members of the Honourable House of COMMONS.

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1. A Reply on behalf of the Present East-India Company, to a Paper of Complaints, commonly called, The Thirteen Articles, delivered by their Adversaries, to the Members of the Honourable House of COMMONS.


THat they did procure Illegal Commissions from the late King for Martial Law, whereby some Persons have been Executed.

HOW far a Power to grant Commissions of Martial Law in Foreign Plantations, in the Case of Rebellion, is by Antient Prerogative vested in the Crown, is not fit here to be debated, much less determined; though the Author of this Article here presumes so to do. But this is true, That the Commission here stiled Illegal, was no other, than what hath been from time to time granted to the said Company; more particularly, at its first Institution in the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. As doth appear by the Original Commissions ready to be produced.

That the said Commission was grounded on the same Power with their Charter, and their Charter on the same Power with all the Charters of the respective Plantations in the West-Indies; Upon which Charters, several Persons have been Executed both by Civil and Military Judicatures, and never yet call'd in Question; and is no more than what all the European Joynt-Stocks make use of in India.

That the Governour of St. Helena caused to be put to Death two Men, before any Commission was obtain'd.

What the Governour of St. Helena did before the Commission arriv'd, was without the Order or Privity of the Company here, and so they not answerable nor blameworthy for the same.


Art. II. That the Company did procure, of the late King, the Ship Phoenixto be sent to India, to seize the Ships and Goods of their FellowSubjects; And also gave Orders to the Commanders of their own Ships to do the same.

Answ. These Fellow-Subjects here mentioned, are such as did break in on the Trade of the Company, contrary to His Majesties Charter, and are usually stiled Interlopers. Now it being generally granted, and likewise declared by the Honourable House of Commons, That the East-India Trade will be best manag'd by a Joynt-Stock, exclusive to all others. It's humbly submitted to the Judgment of all Persons unconcern'd, what other Measures the Company could have then taken, or can be taken for the future, by this or any other Company, on such an Exigency, for the preservation of the Trade to the Nation and themselves, than those which the Objection would render Criminal?


Art. III. That they did procure their late Majesties Proclamations, for the putting the Powers granted to them by their Charters, in Execution, and commanding all persons from their Employments and Settlements in those Parts, to repair to the Companies Garisons in India, or return home.

Answ. This Article is no more, than that they did procure from their late Majesties, their respective Proclamations for the Confirmation of their Charters, and putting the Powers therein given them, in Execution; which is usual, and hath been the practice of most, if not all Companies established by Charter. Nor was it ever until now objected as a thing Criminal so to do, nor had they done it now, but to restrain Interloping.


Art. IV. That they did in the two last Reigns, commence vexatious and chargeable Suits against their Fellow-Subjects.

Answ. The Company being, as they humbly conceive, in Possession of a Right, it was never yet accounted Criminal by any Persons, to maintain that Right in Westminster-Hall.


Art. V. They have caused several Ships fitted and design'd for India, to be Illegally stopt; and also one Ship homeward bound, to be unladen at Portsmouth. In order to which, they procured a Letter from the late King, to the Judge of the Admiralty, commanding him to order the said Cargoe there to be Landed.

Answ. As to this, that, as is before hinted, in answer to the second Article: It being generally agreed on, and declared by the Honourable House of Commons, That the East-India Trade will be best managed by a Joynt-Stock, exclusive to all others. It's humbly conceiv'd, it was no ways Criminal, for them to apply to His then Majesty, and His Courts of Admiralty, for such assistance as that Court could afford them, to preserve the Trade to themselves, exclusive to others, according to their Charter. But as to any such Letter, as is here suggested, it being matter of Fact, it must rest upon them to prove it, by producing the same.


Art. VI. That the Company have expended great summes of Money, under the title of secret Services, and presented to the two late Kings, several ten thousand Guineys.

Answ. This were much more proper to be objected by the Present Members of the Company, than by those, some of whom at least wise were the chief Promoters of it: And having since sold themselves out, would render the present Managers Criminal, for those very Actions which they committed, while Members of the said Company.

And as to these ten thousand Guineys which were presented to the late Kings, it was alwayes Paid into the Exchequer, for the Publick Service; and was at first introduced, not by the present Managers, but by some of those, who as aforesaid, have sold themselves out, and do now complain against it. But it hath been since taken off by a Present of Seven Thousand Pound stock in the said Company, which his present Majesty, whom God long preserve, doth now enjoy.

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Art. VII. Some of the prevailing Members in the Committee, have sold to themselves great part of the Companies Goods, by Private Contract, to the Prejudice of the Buyers, and the Defrauding the other Adventurers.

Answ. This Objection likewise had been much more proper to have come from the Present Members, than from those who had no Interest in the Company, when these Private Contracts were made: Nor were these Contracts so private, but first by the allowance of the General Court of Adventurers; and then Publication made, that such Contracts were proposed, and all Persons, both Members and others, had full freedom to bid for the Goods intended to be Exposed to Sale. And it is humbly conceiv'd, That it is the Property of every individual Person, and of all Communities, to dispose of their Effects, as they do think most conducing to their present Advantage: Nor is it contrary to the Companies present Constitution. But if it be thought inconvenient for the future; This, as all other Regulations, is by the Companies Petition, humbly submitted to the Honourable House of Commons.


Art. VIII. They have not for many Years past made up their Books, and valued their Stock; although by the General Preamble, subscribed by every Adventurer on his admission into the Company, they are obliged so to do every seven Years: Whereby the late Managers have engrossed a great part of the said Stock, in opposition to the Interest of the Publick.

Answ. This Objection is not true in fact. The Company having made up their Books, and a Valuation of their Stock, in the Year 1685, which is yet within the seven Years. Nor is it true, as is further suggested, That the late Managers have thereby ingrossed a great part of the Stock, in opposition to the Interest of the Publick.


Art. IX. That they have of late made over-large Dividends, whereby they have not only divided their Profit, but the very Stock it self: And that it hath been urg'd (as an Argument so to do) in their Publick Courts, That it was the only way, to put themselves out of the Power of a Parliament:

Answ. This Article consisting of several Particulars huddled up together without any due connexion, must notwithstanding, to render the Answer to it intelligible, be brancht into several particulars.

As to the making the late Dividends, it was occasion'd for want of Liberty to send out Shipping for India; The Company having made several earnest applications for the same, which by reason of the Pressing occasions for Seamen, to Man Their Majesties Fleet, could not be obtain'd: And also they have had certain Advices from India, that by reason of the Great Moguls Warring upon the King of Gulconda, and the grievous Famine and Sickness happening on the Coast of Choromandel, most of the Handicraftsmen being destroy'd, The Companies Agents and Factors could not procure Callicoes for their Money: By which ways the Companies Stock then lying dead, both in England and India, the said Dividends were made; And not, as is falsly suggested, to put themselves out of the Power of a Parliament.

And that thereby they have not left a Fund sufficient to carry on their Trade.

But that by these Dividents there is not left a Fund sufficient to carry on the Trade, is deny'd; and being matter of Fact, must rest upon the Perusal of the Accompts of the Companies, ordered, and intended to be delivered into the Honourable House of Commons.

But are become necessitated to Farm it out to their Fellow-Subjects.

As to the Permission Ships, there was a necessity for it during the time of the War, when Trade might be carried on by private Management of particular Persons, with less noise or notice taken of it, than could then be done by the Company; But that being ceased by the Peace made, They are now restrain'd by the present Company, and therefore ought not to remain an Objection against them.

And likewise to the Armenians.

This was principally design'd for the encreasing the Exportation of the Woollen Manufacture; They being the only Persons that can greatly increase the vent of English Cloth, by carrying it into the Upland and Northern parts of Persia and Tartary, whereby new Markets for the same may be obtain'd. The Factors and Agents of the said Company, being never able to penetrate so far into the Country; And by permitting them to send out, not only our Manufactory, but also Foreign Commodities, which used alwayes to go with the Caravans for Turkey, it would have brought great advantage to Their Majesties Customs, and increased our Navigation, and may in time bring hither, all the Fine Callicoes expended in Italy and other parts, that used to go overland by the great Caravans, to the increase of our, and diminution of their Trade.

And further, that they have permitted the Jewsto Establish themselves in India, and made them a part of their Government there, which has in a manner, given them the intire Possession of the Diamond Trade, to the great discouragement and loss of the EnglishSubjects.

As to theJews being permitted to settle in India, It is no more than what is done in England, and they may as well accuse the Government here, as the Company there: And for their being part of the Government, it was admitted to them, as to all other Nations, thereby to encourage persons of all Perswasions to settle among them, for the greater strengthning of the Place, and increase of the Trade thereof.


Art. X. That they have for many Years past carried on their Trade in an irregular manner, by sending out Ships at improper seasons, and keeping them abroad longer than was requisite, by which mismanagement, together with the War, they have occasion'd the loss of several considerable ships, and the mortality of some thousands of Seamen and Souldiers.

Answ. The taking of Ships for a longer time than was formerly practised, was occasion'd by the War with the Great Mogul, in which it was absolutely necessary, to have a strong force of English Shipping on the place, to secure the English Interest there, and if they staid longer than the time limited in Charter-Party, it was their own voluntary action, they having it in their power by Charter-Party, to return.

Nor was the loss of the English Seamen more in proportion, than of the Inhabitants of the Country; there being then such a Contagion in those parts, as depopulated whole Cities; nor can the Company be more Reasonably accused for the death of their Seamen and Souldiers, than the Government of this City can for the loss of its Members, in times of Contagion.


Art. XI. That the Company have commenced an unjustifiable War against the Great Mogul, and under that pretence, committed many great Depredations on the Subjects of that Prince;

Answ. The War with the Great Mogul was occasion'd by pure necessity, and that necessity did arise, from the breaking in of the Interlopers upon them, in their Trade, when by dividing the English Interest in India, the Natives there took advantage of the said division, to extort very great, and most unreasonable Sums of Money [Page 3] from the Company, contrary to their Phirmaunds given to them, as has been more at large demonstrated by the Company in Print.

Besides, the War was neither commenced nor prosecuted, but by the Direction and Commissions of the late King under his hand. And it was alwayes believed, that the sole Power of making War and Peace, was vested in the Crown; so that this War (being commenced by, and under the then Soveraign Power of this Nation,) can't in Reason be accounted an injustifiable War, as is Objected.

Whereby the English are render'd in all Parts of India, odious and contemptible, and esteemed rather Pyrats than Merchants.

As to that which is further Objected, That the English are in all parts of India render'd odious and contemptible by the War; the quite contrary is true: For should they have tamely submitted to these Exactions and Insults, without endeavouring to vindicate themselves, they had then become absolutely contemptible with the Natives: Whereas now by their endeavour to right themselves, they have gain'd Reputation and Respect, more than any other European Nation in India.

They have been likewise guilty of a notorious breach of Faith, by making Prize of divers Ships, to which they had given the protection of the Companies Passes. And also have seiz'd the Goods and Moneys, which were laden on Freight, on board the Companies own Ships, for which Bills of Loading are still standing out.

As to the first branch of this part of the Objection, it's utterly denyed: For what Ships had the Companies Passes, were either not seiz'd at all, or upon their bringing up to Bombay, immediately discharg'd by the General.

As to the other part of this Objection, That they have seiz'd the Goods and Moneys, which were laden on freight on the Companies own Ships, for which Bills of Loading are standing out. It is answer'd; That if they mean by these Goods and Moneys, such as did belong to any Englishman, it is utterly deny'd; but if they mean the Goods and Moneys belonging to any of the Natives, then it is acknowledg'd, that there were 179 Bales of Goods, laden on the Emerauld Frigat, design'd for Persia, which were afterwards put on board Charles the 2d. there being a necessity for the Emeralds going a Cruizing; and there being several other Goods, in the hurry of the Moors Invasion, brought on board the said Ship, and laid upon them: The Monsoons would not suffer them, when the Charles was about Lading for Europe, to meddle with her Stowage, and take them out; which was the Reason of their being brought for England: But they were accordingly taken notice of, in the Letters and Invoices to the Company; and a particular Account desired to be kept of their Contents and Sale, to enable the Companies General and Council to account with the Owners; which is paid and done accordingly: It being so promised to the Owners from the beginning, and they were satisfied with it. For what Moneys were laden on the Companies Ships on freight, and seiz'd on, as is alledged by the Objection, the Truth thereof is no more than this, That there was some Money so laden detain'd at Bombay; but is actually restored to the Owners at Surrat, to their great satisfaction, which they have publickly acknowledg'd.

That the Company did make War on the Mogol, without first having made Application to him for Redress of their Grievances.

This likewise is not true in Matter of Fact; for they did make Application to himself, and likewise to his Ministers, before the commencement of this War.


Art. XII. That the Company first contrived to make Advantage, of the Credit and Friendship, which till that time, they had with the Natives, by ordering their Agents to borrow all the Money they possibly could.

Answ. It is well known, that the Company have all along from their first Institution, borrow'd Money at Surrat, as they have had occasion, and have as punctually paid it: And what Money, now said in this Objection to be borrow'd, (which is nothing near so much as is alledg'd) was not done, as is here suggested, by contrivance to make an Advantage, of the great Credit and Friendship our Nation had with the Natives, thereby to defeat them of it; but either is, or will be, as punctually paid when due, as these Suggesters pay their own Debts, and was never otherwise intended.

That they are at last become sensible, and have supplicated that great Prince for a Pardon, which he has condescended to grant them.

It is observable, that these Persons, who in their former Articles did accuse the Company, for not having made their Application to the Great Mogol, for redress of their Grievances, do now in this criminate them, for having made their Application to him for a Peace; which they disingenuously call a Pardon.


Art. XIII. That they did also upon most unjust and frivolous pretences, make War on the King of Syam, which occasioned the Massacre of divers of their Majesties Subjects, and the ruine of several Families.

Answ. The War made by the Company on the King of Syam, was not made, as is here pretended, on most unjustifiable and frivolous Pretences, but upon most just and reasonable Grounds: The Company having received most notorious Injuries, both in their Estates, and in the Persons of their Factors, from that Government.


And now the beforemention'd Objections having received their several Answers; It is humbly submitted to the Judgment of all unconcern'd Persons, whether by them it is made clearly evident, that the Present Company are become a dishonour to this Nation, a great Grievance to Their Majesties Subjects; and that nothing but a New National Joynt-Stock, can retrieve and preserve that Trade, from being utterly lost to this Kingdom, as is suggested, in the Conclusion of the said Paper.

And whereas they have Printed the Phirmaund, or Patent lately Granted by the Great Mogol to the Company, from the stile of which they would insinuate, that the Company have made a base and dishonourable Peace: It is well known to all, who have observed the stile of the Eastern Princes, That it is no other, than what the said Mogol, and others of the Great Eastern Monarchs generally use, in their Treaties, they make with their Neighbouring Princes: But for the particular Articles Granted to the Company for their Trade and Settlement, They are as advantageous as the Company could, or did desire; and beyond what hath ever yet been Granted.

This is the full version of the original text


destruction, necessity, sick, trade, war

Source text

Title: A Reply On Behalf of the Present East-India Company

Author: East India Company

Publication date: 1698

Edition: 2nd edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: Wing (2nd ed.) / R1049 Physical description: 3, [1] p. Copy from: British Library Reel position: Wing / 2076:13

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Original author(s): East India Company

Language: English

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