Sunday, 3 June 2012

The adventures of Robert Adams,

One of the earliest and most influential Chiefs of the English Factory at Tellicherry was called Robert Adams.

It is not entirely clear when he first arrived in Tellicherry but he is recorded as having retired on the 10th of March 1728.

Adams was believed by Alexander Hamilton to have made considerable sums in private trade during his time in India. This allowed him to retire to live in Cavendish Square, one of the grandest addresses in London at that time, having been developed by the 2nd Earl of Oxford and John Prince starting in 1717.

The Square was home to so very well off people including the Dukes of Portland and Chandos.

On his death in 1738, the following curious note was included in the Derby Mercury dated 13th April 1738.  That paper had most probably picked it up from an earlier London Newspaper published a few days earlier.

"On Saturday last died at this house at Cavendish Square, Robert Adams Esq; one of the Directors of the East-India Company, and formerly Governor of Tellicherry in India, for the Said Company.  The above Gentleman, when in India, being once a Hunting, and being separated from his Company in the Woods, was attacked by a Tyger, who seiz'd him by the shoulder, but he at the same time pierced him with a Lance thro' the Body, which occasioned their both falling; but he happily disengaged himself. and the Tyger died of his Wounds.  Mr. Adams brought the Skin of the Tyger over into England, and has had ever since the Tyger added to the Family Arms."

Much of the money that Adams had made during his time in India is believed to have come from making loans of Tellicherry Factory funds to the Zamorin, who used it to fund his wars with the Dutch from Cochin and especially those at Chetwai.

These loans had not been sanctioned by the Board of Directors of the East India Company, and so Robert Adams found himself in some difficultly when the Zamorin was later in many of the repayments.  Mr Adams made a journey to Calicut in order to try to recover the money.

The EIC authorities fearful that he might abscond, placed his wife (sister to Alexander Orme at Anjengo.) under restraint at Tellicherry to prevent them both running away. However after a while she was able to board the Decker, a vessel bound for Fort St. George, and in this vessel she collected her husband at Calicut.

William Logan writing in the 1870's was unable to trace the Adams subsequent movements, but thanks to the power of the internet we now know that they got away to London to a comfortable retirement.

1 comment:

Maddy said...

While the Adams story is certainly one with much intrigue, the reasons behind the loans were to get the Dutch incited. Both Koshy in his book on the Dutch in Malabar and the Logan account provide the base details..I am sure it was mutuality beneficial in the scheme of things and the loan may never have been a loan at all..