Soldier‐statesman who helped to secure British control over India. Born in Shropshire, he joined the East India Company in 1743. Eight years later, when war broke out between Britain and France in India, he volunteered for military service and, against all the odds, seized and held the city of Arcot. In 1756 he moved to Bengal, where the French‐supported Siraj‐ud‐Daula had taken Calcutta. Clive organized a small force to recapture the city in January 1757, but Siraj was still a major threat. Clive marched inland with no more than 3,200 troops to face Siraj's army of 50,000 at Plassey. The battle was fought on 23 June 1757; for the loss of only 23 men, Clive routed the enemy.
By now the undisputed master of Bengal, Clive returned to England in 1760, where he was raised to the Irish peerage as Baron Clive of Plassey (1762). He returned to India in 1765 as governor of Bengal, and introduced a series of reforms to company administration. Corruption remained, however, and in 1772 he was forced to defend himself before Parliament. Although exonerated, he committed suicide on 22 November 1774.
Subjects: British History.