“A Sort of Republic for the Management of Trade”

Philip J. Stern

in The Company-State

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393736
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896837 | DOI:
“A Sort of Republic for the Management of Trade”

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This chapter examines the nature of the East India Company’s claim to authority over English affairs in Asia. Though often regarded as possessing a monopoly over the English trade to and from Asia, the Company in fact insisted it maintained a jurisdiction by virtue of its charters not just over the trade but also the traffic of any English subject in the East Indies. Evidenced in instruments like Company shipping passes and Admiralty Courts, this position reached its most vibrant expression in the Company’s suit against the interloper Thomas Sandys in the Court of King’s Bench from 1682 to 1684. Company advocates clearly articulated a vision of the Company as both a counsellor to the English state and a public government in its own right in the East, with a responsibility over the safety, prosperity, and souls of English subjects and other European and Asian residents of its settlements abroad. Company opponents in turn expressed their objections to its exclusive rights not simply in anti-monopolist and free trade terms, but as a critique of the Company as a legitimate constitutional form.

Keywords: charters; shipping passes; jurisdiction; Admiralty Court; Thomas Sandys; interlopers

Chapter.  9617 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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