The year 1765 marked a turning point for The East India Company (EIC). Following the Battle of Buxar, the Treaty of Allahabad secured to the company the Diwani rights, the right to collect taxes on the Mughal emperor's behalf directly from the people in the eastern province of Bengal-Bihar-Orissa. The British began consolidating their hold on India in the wake of the company's military and diplomatic victories, building on more than a century and a half's worth of experience operating on the subcontinent. Parliament ruled India through the EIC, a corporate proxy whose military and financial escapades drew criticism from some MPs, and whose tea ended up in Boston Harbor in 1773.
Just as they did in Britain's North American colonies, Scots pursued new opportunities in the EIC and British India. Scots, including General Sir Hector Munro, 8th laird of Novar, figured prominently among the military and political establishment. Merchants traded for spices and other goods, soldiers served in British regiments under the EIC's command, and Scots filled a variety of lower-ranking government and company offices. They formed the connective tissue that bound Scotland and India together in empire.
The cases presented here highlight Scots' involvement in India. Many feature soldiers who served in the EIC's employ while others detail economic ventures. They reveal the flow of human and financial capital between Scotland and India in the early years of formal British rule.
|Cockburn v. Duncan||1802||Heritage, Rents, Deeds||Janet Cockburn Haldane, Margaret, Euphemia and Elisabeth Haldane, daughters of Mr. George Haldane, brought an action to recover the payments and rents over the lands of Geneagles. George Haldane had inherited the real estate from his uncle Robert Haldane by virtue of a deed of tailzie and bonds of provision. The defendant, Viscount Duncan, argued that the pursuers’ allegations were unsupported because Robert Haldane has given to him the right over those properties.|
|John Zephaniah Holwell, and his Attorney v. Lady Cuming||31 May 1796|
|Duncan Stewart v. Lieutenant Alexander Graeme||7 Mar 1799||While working abroad in the service of the East India Company, Lieutenant Duncan Stewart remitted £1000 to Scotland. He assigned a power of attorney to William Stewart and John Taylor, allowing them to manage the money. Lieutenant Stewart directed the men to invest his money in heritable securities and give the interest to certain family members. He died in India, leaving a holographic memorandum of a will that provided for the money in Scotland to be “applied in the manner already directed.” Lieutenant Stewart’s executors initiated a court proceeding to determine who was entitled to the £1000. The court determined that the fund was heritable property that should pass to Lieutenant Stewart’s heir-at-law, his sister Elizabeth Stewart Bowman. Bowman then died, leaving the residue of her estate to her natural son Lieutenant Alexander Graeme. Lieutenant Graeme claimed that he was entitled to the £1000 based on Mrs. Bowman’s will. However, Duncan Stewart, Lieutenant Stewart’s cousin in Jamaica, claimed that he was the Lieutenant’s heir-at-law and should inherit the money because the £1000 was a heritable subject and Bowman never made up a title to it. Case documents include a reproduction of Lieutenant Stewart's detailed memorandum disposing of his personal effects.|
|John Boog and Attorney v. The Common Agent in the Ranking of Margaret Watt's Creditors||11 Dec 1800||Conflict of Laws||A Scotsman named Daniel Morgan went to London and purchased goods on credit from John Boog, a merchant. Morgan then departed for India as steward on an East India ship, leaving his wife Margaret Watt in Dundee. Morgan died during the outward passage, and Boog eventually sought payment from Watt. Watt argued in court that Boog’s claim was barred by the “triennial prescription,” a statute of limitations, but Boog secured a “decree in absence” after Watt exhausted her ability to pay for a legal defense. Other creditors of Watt initiated a ranking and sale of her heritable property. In that proceeding, the common agent renewed the defense of prescription against Boog’s claim. Boog answered that English law—which had no triennial prescription—should apply because Morgan never returned to Scotland.|
|Macpherson, etc. v. Hannay||17 Jan 1801||Ramsay Hannay amassed a fortune while living in India and sent a considerable portion of his wealth to be managed by his brother, Sir Samuel Hannay, in Britain. Having collected nearly £50,000 of Ramsay’s funds, Sir Samuel granted him a heritable bond secured by all of Sir Samuel’s lands in Scotland. Ramsay did not take infeftment on the bond until after Sir Samuel’s death—that is, he did not complete the steps necessary to realize his interest, which are comparable to registering a deed. When Sir Samuel died, it was discovered that he had been insolvent for some time, including when he granted the bond to Ramsay. In a ranking and sale of his estate, the creditors objected that the bond gave Ramsay a fraudulent preference. However, the Court repelled the creditors’ objections, and the decision was affirmed in the House of Lords.|
|Ralston and Lamont v. Lamont||1800||Petitioner William Henry Ralston advanced substantial sums to Hugh Lamont while both were serving with the 100th regiment of foot in India. After Hugh Lamont died, Ralston sought payment from Hugh’s widow. John Lamont, Hugh’s brother, also sought payment of certain debts. Because the available funds were not adequate to pay both claims, multiplepoindings were raised to adjudicate them. Case documents include several financial accounts.|
|George Mackenzie v. Henrietta Cockburn||1767||Succession||William Alves, a doctor in India, left his entire estate to defender Henrietta Cockburn, his aunt. However, William’s will provided that if Cockburn predeceased him, the estate would go to Basil Alves, his brother, with legacies to other relatives including pursuer George Mackenzie, William’s uncle. Although Cockburn survived William, Mackenzie sought to collect the legacy.|
|Neilson, et al v. Sinclairs||1787||Documents available. Full description in progress.|
|Hunter v. Smith||1793|
|Frank and his Tutor v. Frank, et al.||1793|
|Mrs Margaret Dick v. George Heriot||1797||Documents available. Full description in progress.|