Over the long eighteenth century, thousands of men and women from the English provinces lived and worked in the East Indies. Yet the provincial commitment of human, financial and social capital to ventures in the East Indies has largely been disregarded. This book challenges the widely held view that British rule in India was driven primarily by the interests of London merchants and national political elites. Based on extensive original research, including the piecing together of biographical fragments of over 400 men and women from the Cumbrian counties, setting them in their family, social, financial and cultural networks, and outlining the details of their sojourns in the East, the book portrays a provincial world heavily implicated in the East Indies. It discusses how provincial people's encounter with the East Indies was driven by the desire of middling folk and gentry to promote, sustain, and, in some cases, revive fortunes, position and influence in their own provincial milieu, and thereby demonstrates how provincial preoccupations shaped the East Indies, and how East Indies experiences shaped provincial life.
Kay Saville-Smith is Director of the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment in Wellington, New Zealand. She completed her doctorate at the University of Lancaster.