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South East Asia.

Malay Archipelago (Maritime Southeast Asia): ° Bangladesh ° India ° Indonesia ° Malacca Strait ° Malaysia ° Maldives ° Myanmar (Burma) ° Pakistan ° Philippines ° Riau Islands ° Singapore ° Sri Lanka ° Thailand ° Timor


° Andaman and Nicobar Islands ° Bengal ° Bombay (Mumbai)  ° Calcutta  ° Cawnpore ° Delhi ° Gujarat ° Indore ° Jodhpur  ° The Konkan Coast (Goa) ° Madras (now Chennai)  ° Patna (Bihar) ° Tellicherry ° Varkala

British India: Bombay, Mysore, Malabar Coast, Lakkadives. Mapmaker: W. & A. K. Johnston. 1897

British India.

The history of British India began with the royal charter awarded to the East India Company in 1600. Despite early Portuguese oppositon to its intrusion, and faced with Dutch hostility in the Spice Islands to the East, the Company focused on its India trade: textiles (calicos and muslins), silk, pepper from the Malabar Coast, saltpetre, etc.

The Bombay Dock was completed in July 1735 and is in use even today. The period of 4000 years between Lothal and Bombay Dock, therefore, offers tangible evidence of the seafaring skills the nation possessed in the days of sail. Thus, in the early seventeenth century, when British naval ships came to India, they discovered the existence of considerable shipbuilding and repair skills, and a seafaring people—an ideal combination for supporting a fighting force.

Until the end of the 18th Century, India was a maritime nation, making her own ships, manned by Indian crews, carrying the trade of Indian merchants.


August 19, 1893, Colonies and India
London, Middlesex, United Kingdom

The Bombay Riots.

Merchantman off the Indian Coast. 1867.

Merchantmen off the Indian Coast at Dusk.
1867. Charles Henry Seaforth

The religious riots between the Mahomedans and Hindoos in Bombay have been on a scale of magnitude and danger without precedent in that great town, where there are many intervening elements the Parsee element, for example to keep these hereditary foes apart. Seventy-six per cent, of the population of the Bombay Presidency are Hindoos, whilst only 17 per cent, are Mahomedans, so that in point of numbers, the Mahomedan is tremendously over-weighted. For his numerical deficiency he compensates by his greater pugnacity and the memory of those far-off dominant days when the Hindoos crouched at his conquering feet. The remedy for these religious fights is simple and effective. The combatants are separated by a bayonet charge, or, in desperate cases, by a volley of musketry. In the present instance the disturbances have extended over so wide an area as to be beyond the immediate control of the authorities. It is no easy task to cope with 50,000 riotous fanatics.

The public mind, meanwhile, has been impressed by the accounts in the newspapers, and the riots should serve as an admirable object lesson to those Radicals anxious to see India ruled by Universal Suffrage. What would happen if we were to leave the country is clear enough. The Mussulman of the North would fight his way to the top, and triumphantly slaughter the sacred cow in every Hindoo fane between Peshawur and Pondicherry. The truth of the now famous allegory, suggested by the beasts in the Zoological Gardens, which Lord Roberts applied with so much felicity in his recent speech at Glasgow to the permanent race conflict in the great dependency, has had startling proof.

Shah Allum Mogul of Hindostan,
Reviewing Troops of the British East India Company, c. 1781
Shah Allum Mogul.

Shah Allum Mogul of Hindostan.

In 1857, the American clipper James Baines, Captain Charles MacDonald, loaded a cargo in Calcutta consisting of 2,200 bales of jute, 6213 bales of linseed, 6,682 bags of rice, adn 40 bales of cowhides for delivery to Liverpool, England. In Liverpool, when the stevedores removed the lower hatches, volumes of smoke poured from the afterpart of the main hold and were unable to stop the fire. The James Baines was scuttled, the main and mizen masts fell, crushing the roofs of the dock sheds; then the foremast came down, and by evening the ship was burnt to the water's edge. The sudden end of this powerful clipper, considered one of Donald McKay's finest creations, stunned Liverpool, was spoken of as a national disaster, and Captain McDonald did not long survive his ship: He retired broken-hearted to the cottage of his widowed mother at Glengarriff, contracted pneumonia, and died some days later.

August 15, 1863, Allens Indian Mail, London, United Kingdom

India and the British Empire. Douglas M. Peers, Nandini Gooptu.

THE BRITISH EAST INDIA STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY have been no less unfortunate than their magnificent rival. The S. S. Sydney, lately purchased from Government, sailed from Calcutta on Wednesday the 24th June, having on board some 540 men, women, and children, belonging to the regiment of Sikh Pioneers, bound for Colombo. But no sooner did she fairly get out to sea than her total unfitness to be employed on such service was proved beyond a doubt. Between decks the water was frequently knee deep, and not a berth in the whole ship that might not have served as a bath. The misery of the poor soldiers, and their still more helpless wives and little ones, was truly pitiable, but they bore up manfully through their sickness, and worked at the pumps night and day. The greatest fear entertained was lest the fires should be put out, the danger of which was more than once very imminent; however, by constant exertions and by throwing a portion of her cargo overboard, she was kept afloat, and late on Saturday evening passed Saugor on her return to Calcutta.

August 26, 1897, Stevens Point Daily Journal, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Situation on the Frontier is Growing Worse

Prince of Wales visit to India.

Bombay, Aug. 20. The latest dispatches received from the front indicate that the situation on the frontier Is getting worse. It is evident that the Indian government must face a grave crisis, involving heavy expenditure and probably great loss of life. The government is confronted with the following state of affairs: Khybar pass has fallen into the hands of the Afridis; the posts in Kurrain valley are threatened by the powerful tribe of the Orakzal; the Mohand tribesmen are meditating a renewal of hostilities around Fort Shubkdar, while thousands of troops are engaged in crushing the revolt in the Swat valley and two large brigades are holding the Tochi valley, where the Malisud-Mazirls are again restless.

The authorities are convinced that Port Ali-Musjid could only have fallen after desperate fighting, as the native garrison of Khybar rifles was made up of men who rendered valuable assistance in the Black mountain expedition of 1888. The fall of the fort is a very serious blow, for it isolates Fort Lundi- Kotnl, which Is at the extreme end of Khybar pass, garrisoned by 300 Khybar rifles, and necessitates the prompt reconquest of the pass.

Empire of the Sikhs.Empire of the Sikhs. Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit SinghPatwant Singh
Ranjit Singh was one of the most powerful and charismatic Indian rulers of his age, but has been largely forgotten by recent Western historians. Yet his achievements have had a lasting impact. He unified the warring chiefdoms of the Punjab in a northern Empire of the Sikhs, built up a formidable modern army, kept the British in check to the south, and closed the Khyber Pass through which plunderers had for centuries poured into India. He was also humane and just in his victories, giving employment to defeated foes, and honored religious faiths other than his own. This biography uses a variety of eye-witness accounts from Indian and European sources to chronicle his life and the controversial period of the Anglo-Sikh Wars following his death.

India. Storm and Conquest: The Clash of Empires in the Eastern Seas, 1809India.
Stephen Taylor
The Indian Ocean was the final battleground for Nelson’s navy and France. At stake was Britain’s commercial lifeline to India and its strategic capacity to wage war in Europe. In one fatal season, the natural order of maritime power since Trafalgar was destroyed. In bringing home Bengali saltpeter for the Peninsular campaign with military and civilian passengers, Britain lost fourteen of her great Indiamen, either sunk or taken by enemy frigates. Many hundreds of lives were lost, and the East India Company was shaken to its foundations. The focus of these disasters, military and meteorological, was a tiny French outpost in mid-ocean the island known as Mauritius. This is the story of that season. It brings together the terrifying ordeal of men, women, and children caught at sea in hurricanes, and those who survived to take up the battle to drive the French from the Eastern seas. Mauritius must be taken at any cost.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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