12°: xxviii, 352 pp., plus 1 folding map and 1 folding table, rebound in early 20th Century quarter calf with marbled boards (Very Good, internally quite clean, just some light even toning and a few light spots of discolouration; spine a little faded; circa 1940s bookplate of ‘Ernest J. Martin’ inside front cover).
The East India Company (founded in 1600) was a corporate entity that governed Britain’s interests in the Indian Subcontinent. During its first century and a half, it was primarily a commercial trading entity; however, in the wake of its conquest of Bengal in 1757, it embarked upon a lengthy camping to progressively take over and govern many regions across India. During the time that the present work was printed, the EIC was engaged in the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1805), a key part of its epic struggle to conquer what is now Maharashtra from the mighty Maratha Confederacy. The EIC presided over a massive civil bureaucracy that governed hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory and tens of millions of people. This was in addition to its ever-growing commercial empire, all of which was protected by a trio or armies (of the Bengal, Madras and Bombay Presidencies).
The present work is the official record of all persons associated with EIC, updated to midyear 1803. It meticulously records the names, positions and geographical stations of the thousands of the EIC’s employees in the various civil, military and marine establishments. It also lists the names of all mariners involved the India trade (including those not directly employed by the Company); the names of merchant vessels employed on the same; as well as the shipping returns for the period. The information contained is of great value, as it features the only comprehensive and accurate record of the personnel of British India during a critical juncture in its history. It was compiled from the best authoritative information by John Mathison and Alexander Way Mason, who were employed at the Company’s headquarters in London, the East India House.
The work is illustrated with an attractive folding map of the Subcontinent, ‘Hindustan. From the Latest Authorities’, plus a folding table of shipping returns.
The EIC issued the first edition of the register and directory series in 1800 under the title, A New Oriental Register and East-India Directory, which was changed to An East-India Register and Directory beginning in 1803; the final edition appeared in 1858, the year that the EIC lost its charter, giving way to Crown rule over India. In many years, two editions of the directory were issued, one in January and another updated ‘Second’ edition, issued in July; the present issue is of the Second (July) edition for 1803.
All individual issues of An East-India Register and Directory are scarce, with early editions, such as the present example, being especially uncommon.
References: Princeton University Library: 764. 406 1803.