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Sellers & Sailors: The East India Companies

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  • Major Elliott D'Arcy Todd (1808 - 1845)
    TODD, ELLIOTT D'ARCY (1808–1845), British resident at Herat, third and youngest son of Fryer Todd, accountant, Chancery Lane, a Yorkshire gentleman of good family, and originally of good fortune, was b...
  • Lt Colonel Frederick William Todd (1805 - 1896)
    Lt Colonel Frederick William Todd served with the Madras Army in India. Occupation: Officer in the East India Company Army. Frederick joined the service in 1820 (Army List 1857 p148) and served in the...
  • Captain Fryer Bowes Todd (1800 - 1847)
    Occupation: Officer in the East India Company Army. Fryer joined the service in 1819 and served in the 11th Native Infantry. He was made Second Lieutenant on 5 April 1820, and promoted to Lieutenant on...
  • William Methwold (c.1590 - 1653)
    (From Wikipedia) William Methwold (sometimes spelled Methold), (baptised 1590 in South Pickenham, near Swaffham, Norfolk; died 5 March 1653, Kensington), was an English merchant and colonial administr...
  • Thomas Breton (1614 - 1688)
    Merchant in Surat (India) and East India Co Factor in Pegu (Burma)

Thank you to Geni for making us their Featured Project for July 11, 2011!

From the 17th through 19th Centuries, thousands of European men set sail on behalf of joint-stock companies to reap the riches of the Indian subcontinent. Trading mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, saltpeter, tea, and opium, these companies became the original capitalist mega-corporations as each -- and its royal backers -- fought each other on the seas and tried to conquer Southeast Asia, East Asia, and India for their own benefit.

This project aims to bring together profiles of the financial backers, captains, officers, rank-and-file sailors, and others affiliated with the major East India Companies.

Major Companies

The major East India Companies were:

  • British East India Company (1600 - 1874)
  • Danish East India Company (1616 - 1772)
  • VOC ‧ Dutch East India Company (1602 - 1798)
  • French East India Company (1644 - 1794)
  • Portuguese East India Company (1628 - 1633)
  • Swedish East India Company (1731 - 1813)
  • Ostend East-India Company (1722 - 1731) Please feel free to add anyone to this project who was involved with one of these companies.

Company Lists

Most company lists must be obtained directly through primary source research; however, some websites do exist on-line containing records.

For direct research on British East India Company sailors, this website gives good details on how to obtain records. For secondary on-line research, East India Company Ships ( lists British East India Company captains. You can also find information on obtaining late-period civil service graduate records here. Otherwise, you will need to work with official manifests and government records to locate information, particularly outside the British company.

Cautionary Note

Many men sailed for a flag other than their own. If a record for an Frenchman says, for example "East India Company sailor," he could just as easily have sailed for the Swedes. Keep that in mind when working on individual profiles -- documentation is always key.