|Early British traveler in India. Sir Thomas Roe. credit:telgraphindia.com|
|Thomas Roe at Jahangir's court. credit: www.bbc.uk|
In 1607, William Hawkins (born Bet. 1565 - 1585 in Tavistock at Devon) commanded the ship "Hector" for East India Company on a voyage to Surat and Aden loaded with letters & presents from the King of England James I. He arrived in Surat in August, 1608 and lived in the court of Mogul emperor Jahangir till 1611. Despite his close friendship with the king, he was unable to win his trust and confidence to commission a factory at Surat,Gujarat due to excess Portuguese influence on the Mogul emperor. Further, courtiers in the Mogul court were regularly bribed by the Portuguese merchants who ha a close relationship with Mukarab khan, a close associate of the royal family and who wielded a lot influence in the Mogul royal household. Hawkins was not familiar with nuances of diplomacy with respect to Indian rulers and the protocols to be observed.He was arrogant and hated by the people around the Mogul. Having failed to strike a trade deal with Emperor Jahangir in spite of his sincere efforts, Hawkins returned to England in November,1611 disappointed.
|Thomas Roe at the Mogul court,Ajmir. credit:explore-parliament.net|
This was the first step made by the British to set their foot on this vast subcontinent. Indeed, a small beginning!!