The Presidencies of British India: Bengal, Bombay and Madras

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See also: Presidencies of British India II: Bengal, Bombay and Madras


The administration of British India was divided into three Presidencies: Bengal, Bombay and Madras. These had developed from the East India Company’s* factory bases and existed, in various forms, between 1612 and 1947, conventionally divided into three historical periods:

  • During 1612–1757, the East India Company set up “factories” (trading posts) in several locations, mostly in coastal India, with the consent of the Moghul emperors or local rulers. Its rivals were the merchant trading companies of Holland and France. By the mid-18th century, three “Presidency towns”: Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta had grown in size.
  • During the period of Company rule in India, 1757–1858, the Company gradually acquired sovereignty over large parts of India, now called “Presidencies.” However, it also increasingly came under British government oversight, in effect sharing sovereignty with the Crown. At the same time it gradually lost its mercantile privileges.
  • Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Company’s remaining powers were transferred to the Crown. In the new British Raj (1858–1947), sovereignty extended to a few new regions, such as Upper Burma. Increasingly, however, unwieldy presidencies were broken up into “Provinces”. (Source: Presidencies and provinces of British India)
Map of Presidencies in British India. Picture from: http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Presidencies
Map of Presidencies in British India. Picture from: http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Presidencies

See: FIBIS and Presidencies and provinces of British India for more information on Presidencies.

*The East India Company (EIC) was also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) and ‘John Company’. It was a joint-stock company that was granted an English Royal Charter on December 31, 1600 by Elizabeth I. The British East India Company started out as a commercial trading venture, but grew in strength and eventually virtually ruled India until the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Source: FIBIS

HEIC_Flag
HEIC Flag. Source: http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/File:HEIC_Flag.png

Cover Picture Credit: Wiki


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