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Autograph letter concerning the East India Company

HORSBURGH, JAMES and INGLIS, SIR HUGH (1744-1820)

  • Published: 13 November, 1812
Autograph letter, 2pp., signed "Hugh Inglis" addressed to "Lord Viscount Melville", mailing folds, Milton Bryand, 13 November, 1812 Sir Hugh Inglis was a British Politician and an East Indies Merchant. He was elected as a Director of the East India Company and held the position of Chairman for several years. This letter discusses a communication Inglis has received from James Horsburgh, Hydrographer to the East India Company, who "professes more knowledge of the Eastern Seas than perhaps any other man now in Europe; he is likewise well acquainted with several of the American Captains who traded to China and India and from his knowledge of their enterprising character he entertains a confidential opinion that heavy vessels will be sent to the Eastward of the Cape". Enclosed is another autograph letter, 4pp., to "Sir H. Inglis" from James Horsburgh, unsigned, mailing folds, 13 November, 1812 The letter is a memorandum detailing how best to protect "all the coasts and the innumerable islands to the Eastward of the Cape of Good Hope where American Privateers could meet..." Horsburgh advises "The track round the cape and down to St. Helena is almost always the same that one sloop on the edge of Aquillas bank and one to windward of St. Helena would protect those two important points." He goes on to make suggestions for Madagascar, the Gulf of Persia, the Red Sea, the Philippines and the China Sea. James Horsburgh (1762-1836) was a Scottish hydrographer and navigator who served in the Royal Navy and went on to become hydrographer to the British East India Company. He mapped many of the seaways around Singapore and the East Indies. Horsburgh was inspired to produce accurate maps after being shipwrecked on the island of Diego Garcia in 1786. He found his way back to India on board a ship employed in trade with China. Many of Horsburgh charts are the direct result of his own unique survey work on board the Carron and later as captain of Anna. From his research, he composed the pilot guide, ​'Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, China, New Holland, Cape of Good Hope' (1809–1811). Horsburghs' monumentally important guide became the standard work for oriental navigation in the first half of the 19th century. His work earned him friendships in London's highest naval and scientific circles, leading to his appointment to the positions of Hydrographer to the British East India Company. Horsburgh's work with the Company elevated the standards of the Hydrographic Department and earned him a Fellowship with the Royal society. These letters contain intelligence important to the British during the war against America.

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