Civil servants and mariners
in Human capital and empire
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The chapter surveys the timing and nature of Irish, Scottish and Welsh involvement in the English East India Company’s elite commercial, administrative and merchant shipping sectors. Personnel in these areas of the corporation were never especially numerous, with only 3,393 civil servants securely identified between 1690 and 1813. In this context of elite but limited opportunities, the movement of Irish, Scots and Welsh into corporate employment developed slowly. In both the civil service and among the merchant marine officers of the Company’s fleet, metropolitan provincial numbers remained insignificant until the 1740s and 1750s. During the 1690s and early 1700s, London-based expatriates from Wales were able to sponsor clients into the civil service at a greater per capita rate than their Irish or Scottish equivalents. By the mid-eighteenth century, however, the number of Scots in both the administrative and merchant marine branches had significantly outpaced that of the other two metropolitan provincial groups. The quality of the Company’s archives makes it possible to reconstruct the educational and career backgrounds of many of those joining the Company’s upper echelons. Previously unknown regional patterns, including the prominence of individuals from South Wales, Leinster and east-central Scotland demonstrate the way in which regional connections to London were projected outwards into the eastern half of the empire. In this context Edinburgh and Dublin assume a new importance as key ‘sub-metropoles’, providing investment networks and educational infrastructure that shaped patterns of participation in the Company’s civil service and merchant marine.

Human capital and empire

Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British imperialism in Asia, c.1690–c.1820

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