The Crown Agents Office played a crucial role in colonial development. Acting in the United Kingdom as the commercial and financial agent for the crown colonies, the Agency supplied all non-locally manufactured stores required by colonial governments, issued their London loans, managed their UK investments, and supervised the construction of their railways, harbours and other public works. In addition, the Office supervised the award of colonial land and mineral concessions, monitored the colonial banking and currency system, and performed a personnel role, paying colonial service salaries and pensions, recruiting technical officers, and arranging the transport of officers, troops and Indian indentured labour. In this important book, the first in-depth investigation of the Agency, David Sunderland examines each of these services in turn, determining in each case whether the Crown Agents' performance benefited their clients, the UK economy or themselves. His book is thus both an account of a remarkable and unique organisation and a fascinating examination of the "nuts and bolts" of nineteenth-century development.
David Sunderland is Reader in Business History, Greenwich University.
Introduction The Office of the Crown Agents Supply monopoly and the purchase of goods Service provision: costs, delay, quality The department system of infrastructure construction Construction by contractor, private sector and public works Public loan issue The external finance safety net; monitoring the Crown Agents External finance, the remittance of funds and colonial investments after 1899 Concessions, currency and stamps The Crown Agents and personnel The enquiries of 1901 and 1908