1734 - List of goods ordered at Canton

This extract lists the various teas and silk textiles that were ordered in 1734 at Canton for the ships Wyndham and Compton. Many of these commodities had obscure names: types of tea included Bing, Congoe and Queen; silk products included taffatyns, gorgoroons, and goosees.

By the early 18th century the East India Company was trading regularly with the Chinese from Canton, buying mainly tea, silk textiles and inexpensive porcelain, in exchange for silver. Over the next 100 years tea became a very popular drink in England, and there was a fear that too much silver was leaving the country to pay for it. To stop this happening, the company became involved in a triangular trade by smuggling opium (a drug) from India into China. They were paid in silver for opium and used this to buy tea. This was a very dangerous thing to do because opium was banned in China.

About East India Office Trading Documents

 

This is part of a collection of documents from the British Library's India Office, all of which relate to British trade with Asia from the late 1600s to the 1800s. The East India Company's first ships arrived in Bengal in 1608. By the end of the 17th century the company had factories, forts and settlements in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It was importing cotton, silk and indigo, and making inroads into the Dutch domination of the spice trade.

Early in the 18th century, Company ships began to sail onward to Canton and the trade in tea ('cha') and porcelain ('China ware') began. From this time on the East India Company became more of a ruling power than a trading company in India, with the increasing involvement of the British government. A period of progressive domination and annexation followed so that, by 1858, when the East India Company was dissolved and the administration of India was taken over by the Crown, Britain controlled India, Burma, Singapore and Hong Kong.

 

Taken from: India Office Trading Documents
Date: 1734
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: BL OIOC: G/12/36,f.14