Monday, 1 February 2021

National Trust properties of UK and their connection with EIC and colonialism

National trust owned Mont acute House, Britain unsplash.com

Since the unjust capture of Bengal province  (believed to be the imperial “golden goose”) of the Indian subcontinent  in the later part of the 18th century by Robert Clive and his cohorts of the EIC, hundreds of research paper  and news paper articles  had dealt with the subject  of  dishonest colonial expansion, the greed for land expansion, looting, exploitation of Indian resources and labor and how the vast  Indian revenue  helped  England bring about the industrial revolution in that country. In 1750, India accounted for 25% of world economic production in contrast to  England’s 1.9% . Bengal was at the center of that production..  Robert Clive said, “We have at last arrived at that critical period, which I have long foreseen; I mean the period which renders it necessary for us to determine whether we can, or shall, take the whole to ourselves.”

During the early English rule under the EIC, the proxy government under the dictates of the British Crown, the corrupt and oppressive company rule saw countless Britons becoming filthy rich after their long stint in  the English company and how many of the pilferers were rewarded with a  peerage by the crown administration, London. Living in a palatial villa back home with their retinue, their style of living was almost similar to affluent Maharajahs and Nawabs of India. But the nouveau  riche English men with weird titles lacked   just one thing;  harem which almost every Indian ruler had;  apparently an acceptable  custom among the Indian monarchs. 

 A new revelation by UK’s National Trust  has  surprised the English people and those from the former British colonies.  The National Trust never minced its words and told the media about the source of  at least 50  valuable properties in England and Wales  and their links with the East India Company, whose employees earned a bundle  till 1857  in India and returned home and lived like Maharajah and Nawabs  building  large stylish houses  with all kinds of embellishments. Some of  their decedents followed suit and lived in splendor  and  style worthy of  their special title. 

Robert Clive's statue, Britain. hindustantimes.com

Above image: A statue to Robert Clive in Shrewsbury, Britain. His house in Claremont, Sussex, purchased from wealth he made in India and the Powis Castle in Wales, which has a large collection of Indian items are among properties managed by National Trust.(Reuters.)

The National trust   owns and effectively manages  large country houses,  hundreds of historic houses, forts, castles and pastoral  public spaces. Source of money:  Without any hesitation and scruples the British Bobs  looted the treasures from the fallen rulers' palaces, forts,  etc., got hefty commission from the rich rulers and other royal members. In the early stages while running the trading operations in Bengal, the English company never paid the customs duty to the ruler for years. Apart, the administrators in collusion with their employees, on the side line, carried out mercantile trading activities without any permit from the ruler. This way many had  multiple sources of income. Obviously, they were wallowing in money  and had the audacity to carry on this unethical trading activities with their muscle and firing power.   

The wealthy  retired individuals  fresh from India referred to as ‘White Nabobs had all the luxurious under the  stars and sun and, obviously, had  political clout  and access to the royal court. There were many of them in the power corridor of the royal palace  and found a niche  in the Westminster Abbey in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The death of Floyd in the USA by the city  cops  of Minneapolis  last year had  created a public backlash  against racism  across the USA and Europe,  especially, in the  U.K, giving emphasis to "the Black Lives Matter" campaign.  This  initiated  many governments and organizations to  go down to the roots of  ancestral properties of the rich   and the National Trust has identified 93 properties  that had links with  colonialism,  slavery and slave traders  during the heyday of British Empire.

Naional Trust, England. en.wikipedia.org

Above image: National Trust, UK: A   charity and membership organization for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, there is a separate and independent National Trust for Scotland.  Founded in 1895 by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley to "promote the permanent preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest".   One of the largest landowners in Britain, it was given statutory powers, starting with the National Trust Act 1907. 

Robert Clive, founder of British Empire. Alamy.com

 
The said  National Trust properties are popular tourist destinations in the UK with people in thousands daily making a beeline to them. Such  time-honored  places  castles, forts,  both  archaeological and historical  monuments, parks,  etc., attract large people from all over the world.

Powis castle near Welshpool, Wales, owned by NT. ibritannica.com

This  frank public acknowledgement by  the National Trust  that their properties'   financial sources came from the East  India company operations in India and elsewhere, and to slavery and colonialism, is first of its kind  and their bold revelation should be appreciated. Of the many properties, two of them have links with .Robert Clive, the first governor of Bengal presidency: his house in Claremont, Sussex, purchased from wealth he made in India and the Powis Castle in Wales, which has a large collection of Indian items. He started of his life in Chennai (Madras, Tamil Nadu as a clerk in the settlement of Ft. St. George. 

Powis Castle, Wales interiorn.pinterest.com

Siraj-ud-dualah's palqui, Bengal.bricklanecircle.org

Above image: A palqi that once belonged to Siraj-ud-daula of Bengal which ended up here in this place. It was left by Siraj-ud- daula, when he fled the Battle of Plassey (BengaL) on 23 June 1757?. It became the property of Robert Clive.

Tipu Sultan's personal tent. artfund.org

Above image: Tipu Sultan's tent owned by Edward Clive; the British dwon the battle against Tipu Sultan  of Mysore at the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799.  In contrast to the plain-colored fabric of the exterior, the interior is highly decorative, consisting of panels with repeated acanthus-cusped niches, with vases of symmetrical flower heads and stems.. 

At Claremont, purchased with the wealth he (Clive) had made in India, he built a new house, intended to be his main residence and to display the treasures he had amassed. In the early 1770s, Clive had begun acquiring Old Master pictures, which were intended for the Great Room at Claremont” according to  Lucy Porten of the National Trust:“  At the time of his death, the house, unfinished and unfurnished, was a repository for his various collections, including that of ‘Indian Curiosities’ (still unpacked at that point). Robert’s son, Edward (1754–1839), would become 1st Earl of Powis, following his marriage to Lady Henrietta Herbert (1758–1830) in 1784, and Governor of Madras in 1798”.

 Claremont House, England. victorianweb.org

Above image:  When the Duke of Newcastle died in 1768, his widow sold the estate to Robert Clive, founder of Britain's Indian Empire.  Then just 50 years old, it was aesthetically and politically out of fashion.  So, Lord Clive, now a fabulously rich British Nabob, wanted a big mansion  with better design  and impressive frontage matching his wealth looted from Bengal  in the late 1700s. Old structure came down and it was replaced by  a new one.  Lancelot "Capability" Brown to build the present Palladian mansion on higher and dryer ground.  Clive  spent over £100,000 on rebuilding the house and a complete remodeling of the celebrated pleasure grounds. However, Clive never got a chance to adorn the richly appointed interior with his collection of Old Masters, Indian artefacts and other fine works, let alone test his new home’s marble plunge bath and other novel amenities. He committed suicide in 1774, the year of its completion  The Battle of Plassey benefitted the Company and its officers in Bengal at the expense of the Indians. After the fall of ruler Siraj, Clive looted his  treasury, leaving  nothing for the new puppet ruler Mir Jafar, Clive’s ally.  Clive took a jagir, an endowment of tax revenue for life, and, at the age of 33, became one of the richest men in England ..............

Their heterogeneous  collections, totaling  about  1,000 objects from about 1600 to the 1830s, are now on display  at Powis Castle and include ivories, textiles, statues of Hindu gods, ornamental silver and gold, weapons and ceremonial amour from India and East Asia.”

Lord Curzon's Kedleton Hall. artuk.org/

Above image:  The Kedleton properties, etc owned by Lord Cuirzon's descendents. George Nathaniel Curzon (1859–1925), who gave Bodiam and Tattershall Castles to the National Trust, had been Viceroy of India from 1889 to 1905. He was the main organizer of the Delhi Durbar (1903) and first man to start a Golf  Course  up on the hill  of Naldehra, close to Shimla (Himachal Pradesh).  It was one of the highest golf courses  in the world, first one in India. Being a lover of Indian monuments, he brought an Eastern flavor to the house. An Indian museum remains, along with the fine sculpture and furniture, all of which Francis Curzon (1924–2000), 3rd Viscount Scarsdale, gave  to the National Trust, with the assistance of  the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, in 1987.Lord Curzon  was an upright and efferent administrator and he never had a scandalous life in India. His favorite hill station was Shimla, the summer capital of British India. 

Included in the list of India-related properties are:  Lord Curzon’s Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire; former governor of Madras Ronald d’Arcy Fife’s Nunnington Hall in Yorkshire; the home of Francis Syke (one of the ‘nabobs’), Basildon Park, Berkshire; and Rudyard Kipling’s home Bateman’s in east Sussex.

The trust manages  innumerable  properties   purchased at different periods  covering a wide span of tine with ever changing political, cultural and social  scenarios globally,  but their research into their links with the slavery, colonialism, etc  is part of  their s commitment to  correct historical narratives  as they are classified in a broader sense.  It will help us give proper information on the relevant properties and the historical facts they carry. 

A significant number of those in our care have links to the colonization of different parts of the world, and some to historic slavery. Colonialism and slavery were central to the national economy from the 17th to the 19th centuries”. according to the officials of NT. This post is based on the following articles. 

Tit-Bits

Britain and slavery. scotsman.com
Britain and  slavery. ehsthelongrun.net

Above image: From the cartoon ‘Slave Emancipation; Or, John Bull Gulled Out Of Twenty Millions’ by C.J. Grant. In Richard Pound (UCL, 1998), C.J. Grant’s ‘Political Drama’, a radical satirist rediscovered‘. Available at <https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/project/logo

"Previously unseen documents reveal how Britain’s wealthiest families received millions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished in Britain’s colonies in 1833.  Their descendants include Prime Minister David Cameron", the man who on his visit to Jallianwalla Bagh, Punjab. India a few years ago  mumbled when he was asked about Britain not tendering apology to the Indian people for the atrocities committed  during the colonial rule in India by the EIC and later  by the Crown admiration. 

 According to a study conducted   over a period of three years by Historian Dr Nick Draperas  based on  46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners "as many as  many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived their fortunes from the slave trade and the records show exactly who received what in payouts from the British Government when it was abolished – to the potential embarrassment of their descendants who still indirectly enjoy the proceeds.  The British Government paid out £20 million to around 3,000 families for loss of their ‘property’ when slave-ownership was abolished.  This represented a staggering 40% of the Treasury’s annual spending budget and equates to around £16.5 billion in today’s terms

By judiciously investing their slavery compensation money in banks that made  them  special offer - cash and credit, the planters who owned the slaves,  could prolong and even expand their place in economies and societies built on the plantation system and the exploitation of black labor.

".https://www.abroadintheyard.com/19th-century-british-slaveowners-given-huge-payouts-after-abolition/

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/uk-country-houses-properties-linked-to-colonial-india-under-new-scrutiny/story-2tvOAb06FXp9U0cxoqII5N.html

https://ehsthelongrun.net/2018/08/23/wages-of-sin-slavery-and-the-banks-1830-50/

http://webs.bcp.org/sites/vcleary/modernworldhistorytextbook/imperialism/section_4/robertclive.html