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The Company-StateCorporate Sovereignty and the Early Modern Foundations of the British Empire in India$
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Philip J. Stern

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393736

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393736.001.0001

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“A Sort of Republic for the Management of Trade”

“A Sort of Republic for the Management of Trade”

The Jurisdiction of a Company-State

Chapter:
(p.41) 2 “A Sort of Republic for the Management of Trade”
Source:
The Company-State
Author(s):

Philip J. Stern

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393736.003.0002

This chapter examines the nature of the East India Company’s claim to authority over English affairs in Asia. Though often regarded as possessing a monopoly over the English trade to and from Asia, the Company in fact insisted it maintained a jurisdiction by virtue of its charters not just over the trade but also the traffic of any English subject in the East Indies. Evidenced in instruments like Company shipping passes and Admiralty Courts, this position reached its most vibrant expression in the Company’s suit against the interloper Thomas Sandys in the Court of King’s Bench from 1682 to 1684. Company advocates clearly articulated a vision of the Company as both a counsellor to the English state and a public government in its own right in the East, with a responsibility over the safety, prosperity, and souls of English subjects and other European and Asian residents of its settlements abroad. Company opponents in turn expressed their objections to its exclusive rights not simply in anti-monopolist and free trade terms, but as a critique of the Company as a legitimate constitutional form.

Keywords:   charters, shipping passes, jurisdiction, Admiralty Court, Thomas Sandys, interlopers

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