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The Pirate and the Colonial Project: Kanhoji Angria

by Derek L. Elliott
20 Dec 2009 • Comment (0) • Print PDF
Posted: Pirates and Piracy [5] | Article

In the annals of Indian Ocean history the foremost pirates of the West Indian coast were Kanhoji Angria and later his sons. Today largely forgotten, Angria founded a dynasty in the late 1690s that became the main obstacle to the rise of the English East India Company (EIC) as a hegemonic power in the Bombay region.  The Company tried to suppress the maritime depredations of the powerful Angrias for more than fifty years, yet to no avail. Eventually only a joint Anglo-Maratha force of over 10,000 troops and 100 vessels was able to put an end to the dynasty. In their day stories of Angrian piracies were popular and widely printed. The only problem with such stories is that the Kanhoji Angria was not a pirate at all, nor were his progeny. Instead, they were the commanders of the navy for the Maratha Confederacy. The EIC knew this was so and recognized Maratha rights to sovereignty and referred to the Angrias as agents of that state. For example, on May 24, 1724, William Phipps Governor of Bombay penned a response to Kanhoji Angria warning, “any state bordering upon a neighbour that lives on plunder and robs under colour of friendship must necessarily be careful for their defence.”[1]  Angria was and had been careful.  Over the previous seven years the Company had launched five major attacks against the Angria’s coastal fortresses. All without success and all causing a great many more deaths among the invaders than the defenders.

A study of this little remembered figure in early colonial history allows for an engaging exploration into how Indian polities interacted with the incursions from European mercantilist companies. Far from the standard narrative of an all-powerful West forcing itself upon a weak East, Indian states were able to compete, on equal footing, with Europeans. Indeed, only through actions of intense violence, and in conjunction with other Indian polities, were Europeans able to impose themselves in South Asia.  Demonstrating that there were no forgone conclusions to European supremacy in the subcontinent Angria stands as a prominent figure that fought successfully against three European and several indigenous powers for over half a century. As a result has Angria has become a defender of indigenous sovereignty and been adopted as an early figure of resistance to colonial incursion. Though his sons carried on his legacy, this analysis will only focus on the founder of the Angria dynasty Kanhoji, who died undefeated in 1729.

Precisely because the dichotomy of Kanhoji as pirate and as naval commander persists, the case allows for a unique exploration into how histories are created and carried forward in distorted forms to engender new discourses serving particular political entities. Colonial misconceptions and manipulations have been handed down in the historiography by generations of historians who have uncritically accepted and adopted metropolitan perceptions and definitions of indigenous institutions in pre-colonial India.  First, agents of the colonial project in the form of adventurers and employees of the Company chronicled the Angrias in picaresque narratives laden with the prevailing orientalist, racialised, and Eurocentric sentiments of the day.[2] These perceptions were carried forward by another generation in the nineteenth century through the scholarship of official Company historians such as Robert Orme[3] and other independent researchers[4] Though these studies did advance knowledge and understanding of Indian history they too nevertheless carried the prevailing racialised sentiments of their day. Nothing substantially differed in the early 1900s when trend of the metropole writing the history of the colony continued.[5] Perhaps not unsurprisingly, it was the Indian scholars themselves who, in the mid twentieth century, brought about the most significant reinterpretation in the historiography of Angria. Informed by the political sentiments of post-independent India, Kanhoji was now seen not as a pirate but rather as an early resister to colonial incursion.

In part this was due to the Angria’s role within the Maratha Confederacy. The latter was lauded as the first true Indian empire because it was the first indigenous Hindu empire that successfully fought a succession of military campaigns against the Muslim Mughals. In this light the Marathas become a source of nationalist pride. Thus under the politics of partition the role of Kanhoji as a naval commander and not as a pirate was finally brought to light in scholarship.[6] This sentiment pervaded the popular imagination to the point where one of the first warships of newly independent India was named after Kanhoji Angria who was now adopted as the father of the Indian Navy.[7]

In the wake of India’s independence, and as scholarship moved forward, nationalist interpretations of history were re-examined and balance was brought to historical analyses of the Marathas, but not so of Angria. Instead the nationalist rendering has since been largely dismissed outright yet not replaced, whereas the Marathan history was corrected and subsequently built upon. Considering that Kanhoji went from being a sub-section of Indian history to, more currently, rarely more than a footnote, this is hardly surprising. The outcome has been a revival in the acceptance of nineteenth and turn of the century British interpretations of whom and what Angria was — namely a pirate, without a critical engagement of the archival or compiled primary material. For example, one author surmises in a summary on the rise of the Angrias in “the weakening of Mughal rule…predation was under the leadership of the Angria family, initially on the behalf of the rising Hindu Maratha power and later for itself when Angria squadrons menaced all shipping off the west coast of India.”[8] Adopting the established ‘Angrias as pirates’ paradigm has continued to obfuscate the nature of the Angria dynasty and how it interacted with European and South Asian polities. This is true even of many of the leading Indian historians who continue to categorise all the Angrias as mere pirates and reactionaries against British incursion.[9] In summary, what occurred in the past and was carried forward into current scholarship has been a miscontextualisation of Kanhoji’s role within the Maratha polity.  This has transpired not only from an uncritical acceptance of previous academic work but also by removing Angria’s story from its geopolitical and historical contextual environment.

According to Maratha chronicles, Kanhoji first rose to prominence when he received from Martaha Emperor Sambhaji the command of the coastal fortress at Survarnadurg in 1688.  Eleven years later Sambhaji’s successor Rajaram bestowed upon Kanhoji the command, or subedar, of the northern section of the Konkan coast, the area surrounding and to the south of Bombay harbour. [10] Angria began using his fleet to extend Maratha sovereignty over their littoral. The method of such political articulation was the pass, also know as the cartaz “according to the ancient Form established by the Portuguese” when they first arrived in the Indian Ocean at the close of the 15th century.[11] Since then the pass had become established as an Indian Ocean institution and formed the basis of how political power was negotiated on the seas.[12] In a telling example, a Dutch East India Company employee reported to his superiors that conditions were such that “…it does not appear probable that this trade alone [Surat to Masquette, a port in Arabia] or the transport of the Company’s commodities would make good the expenditure they have to incur, since passes have to be obtained from the Angrias…the English and the Portuguese, in coming and going.”[13] The method of enforcement for the pass was simple: trade routes and ports were patrolled and ships were inspected.  Those found not in possession of a pass were seized, along with their crews and goods, to be later ransomed. Clement Downing provides an example of being stopped by one of Angria’s vessels during a period of concord between the Company and Angria in 1716,

Then they ask’d where we belong’d to, or whether we had a Pass from the Governor of Bombay; I told them yes, tho’ I did not at that time rightly know so much. They never offered to misuse us, nor do us any manner of Harm; only detained us four or five Hours [while the lead EIC ship in the convoy arrived at the scene]…They releas’d us soon after the Captain came off with the Pass.[14]

Within a few years of his rise to power Kanhoji had established the Marathas as a sovereign power over sea and land in contrast to the traditional role of Indian power, as land-based only. The Company for its part had spent the better part of the last century establishing its dominance in the region. The Portuguese, though present were a diminished power. The Dutch too were on their way out, finding it more profitable to concentrate on their holdings in the Moluccas. The Mughals and the EIC had come to an accommodation in the region by reciprocally recognizing each other’s dominance and jurisdiction on land and sea respectively.[15] As a result this allowed the EIC to control regional maritime trade and shipping charges as they saw fit. The Marathas, by claiming control over the same section of coast, challenged Bombay’s recently established power and disrupted the shipping of the Company to the effect of 70,000 rupees out of Surat alone in 1707.[16] The response from the EIC was quick and certain. They sent an emissary to Kanhoji in 1703 to tell him that

he cant be permitted searching, molesting or seizing any boates, groabs or other vessells, from what port, harbour, place of what nation soever they may be, bringing provisions, timber or merchandize to Bombay…without breach of that friendship the English nation has always had with Raja Sevajee and all his Captains in subordination to him.[17]

Kanhoji replied by asserting the sovereignty of the Maratha state over the rights of the Company, making it clear that the EIC was operating in India on Marathan terms, not their own. Angria informed Bombay that they, “the Savajees,” had been at war with the Mughals for over forty years and they would continue to “seize what boates or other vessell belonging either to the Mogulls vessells from any of his forts or Mallabarr, excepting such as had Conjee Angras passports; the English being at liberty acting as they please.”[18] Angria continued to search out vessels that failed to purchase his pass and the English continued to consider this behaviour piratical. An assessment of Angrian piratical practices can only properly be seen if Kanhoji is placed within the larger political framework of which he was an integral part.

Ever since the founding of the Marathas by Shivaji in 1674, they had been at war with the Mughals. This was an almost constant feature of the Maratha state and would lead eventually to the weakening of the once mighty Mughals. However, the Marathas were also fighting a civil war during the early eighteenth century over a succession dispute between the reigning Queen Regent Tarabai and Shahu, the proper heir to the throne. Shahu had been held in captivity by the Mughal Emperor for eighteen years and escaped in 1707 amidst the chaos resulting from the Mughal’s own succession dispute following the death of Emperor Aurangzeb. Once free Shahu challenged Tarabai’s legitimacy over the throne and within a year had developed a following among some of the deshmukh, or noble influential landholding families who made up the Confederacy. Angria was a strong supporter of Tarabai who in return gave him the title of Sarkheil, or commander, of the navy in 1707.[19] By 1713 Tarabai’s power was in decline. Her strongest supporter remained Angria yet in that same year Shahu sent his Peshwa, Balaji Vishvanath, to attempt to bring Angria over to their side. They were successful, Angria in return receiving several more forts and territory among other privileges.[20] Soon after, Tarabai’s support collapsed altogether and she removed her claims from the throne after a period of imprisonment. Angria was clearly a prominent figure in Maratha politics, and not his own sovereign as so often claimed by the Company, who played key roles domestically as well as internationally through his maritime policies.

Angria was and could afford to be aggressive in the extension of Maratha control over their littoral because the EIC was relatively weak. Bombay, Downing[21] remembered, “was unwalled, and no Grabs or Frigates to protect any thing but the Fishery; except a small Munchew.” It would remain so until December 1715 with the arrival of Governor Charles Boone. Under his authority the Company built 25 vessels within a year, carrying from five to thirty-two guns each, at the cost of £51,700.[22] Now with offensive and defensive capabilities established, an attempt could be made to bring Angria, the upstart Maratha power, to the Company’s terms and become once again the undisputed power over the seas.

The first target was on the island of Kenerey situated at the mouth of Bombay harbour. This had been under Angria’s jurisdiction for the past four years when Emperor Shahu transferred its administration over to the admiral.[23] Two frigates, the Fame and the Britannia were sent with a company of sepoys to attack from land and sea the fortress of Vingorola.  They were joined by another frigate, the Revenge and a dozen or so gallivats (small oared twin-masted sailing vessels) to land the troops.  Biddulph[24] claims the force returned after unsuccessfully bombarding the fort and being unable to even land the troops for the main assault. The expedition’s leader was blamed for the failure, accused of being a coward, and dismissed from service. Later the same year another force was assembled of over twenty vessels and 2500 European soldiers and 1500 sepoys and topasses. The target was Kanhoji’s headquarters: the fortress of Geriah. This undertaking too proved a failure. The only result was to declare the castle impregnable at the cost of two hundred men killed and three hundred “dangerously wounded.”[25]

In early November 1718, the same fleet that had attacked Geriah was sent to Kenery to make another attempt on the fortress. The besiegers brought their broadsides to bear on the fortress and “cannanaded the Island very hott, lykewise the Island them.”[26] The barrage was kept up from the 3rd of November till the 5th when troops were landed but forced to hold back due to the “brisk Fire the Enemy made, and the cowardice of two of the Land Officers.”[27] The 6th and 7th of the month also saw attempts at gaining access to the fortress but these too were repelled, though “more by the force of stones hove from the rocks than fier arms”[28] causing “several of our Men killed, or rather massacred, when they made this sudden Retreat.”[29] On November 8, the attack was called off.

Governor Boone proved himself not to be one to give up easily. Over the following year, while negotiating a peace settlement with the Marathas and receiving compensation for goods and ships seized by Angria to the amount of 22,000 rupees, preparation for another all-out assault on Geriah was planned.[30] Boone was also trying to bring other polities into alliance with the Company against Angria such as the Persians, prominent Surati Mughal merchants, and the Siddis.[31] Fortunately for Angria these negotiations all came to naught. Boone also had a new type of ship designed and constructed for the attack called the Phram, “the great and mighty floating machine”[32] which had a large strengthened deck and shallow draught and could thus be towed in close to fortress walls in order to cannonade them. As was typical for the period a factory employee led the expedition, Walter Brown, who commanded from the deck of the London whose Captain, J. Upton had left an account of the battle in the ship’s logbook.

According to Upton they sailed down to Geriah on the 21st of September 1720 and began the assault the following day. Brown having no military experience ordered troops ashore without first softening Geriah’s defenses or making sure to secure his troops’ retreat. The result was six soldiers dead on the first day “besides about twenty wounded.”[33] Some of his own forces had yet to even arrive from Bombay, including the Phram. When it did arrive, the vessel was put into action immediately and found to be defective in the design of its hull openings causing the protruding cannons to not even be able to “fling a balle Pistolle shot out of the water, the mussells of her guns pointing directly down.”[34] For the next several days the force from Bombay sat in the harbour of range of Geriah’s guns beset by problems with the officers and men “drinking from morning to night and noe command carryed.”[35] A landing force was again organised for the 29th and ended in fiasco when one of the Phram’s guns exploded killing the five sepoys manning her. After several more days of “continnal disturbances in the ship dayly by the Officers ixcessive drinking & noe manner of Command carryed,” the fleet finally weighed anchor to attack another of Angria’s forts, Tamana, to the south near Goa.[36] This was at the request of a local potentate and Captain Upton opined that Brown used this as an excuse to abandon the failure that had become their attempt on Geriah. Subsequently the allied potentate never appeared with troops to assist in the taking of Tamana and as a result Brown ordered the fleet to return to Bombay. On the way back the Phram was purposely set alight and scuttled.

1721 saw the most ambitious attack yet: a joint operation with the Portuguese starting in November to take the island and fortress of Kolaba. This time the Royal Navy was brought in under the command of Commodore Matthews and thereafter no non-military Company servants led military expeditions. The Portuguese were to march overland a short distance from their own territory in Chaul with 2,500 land forces while the EIC were going to supply a similar force with the addition of five ships, on top of the Royal Navy, to bombard the fortress from the water and land artillery on shore. When victorious, the Portuguese were to receive Kolaba and the EIC Geriah.[37] Both parties agreed to be full allies and not to enter into separate peace with the enemy. Commanding on the Portuguese side was the Viceroy of Goa himself, Don Antonio de Castro and the General of the North. Kanhoji, having learned of the planned attack, had earlier been able to secure the assistance of 25,000 of Shahu’s troops, which were on their way from the ghats.[38]

Almost from the start the campaign was beset by problems. There was little co-ordination between Commodore Matthews and the Viceroy. Clement Downing, who was present at the battle offers an interesting, if not one-sided, account of it and states the English, “came boldly up to the Castle-Walls…where they pitch’d their Scaling-Ladders and gallantly ascended the Walls” meanwhile,

The Angrians came down in a great Body, with several Elephants; which the General of the North perceiving, he broke the Order of his wing [and…] the whole Army fell into Confusion. So soon as the Enemy saw that the Portuguese were on the Retreat, and the whole Army was confused, they came down upon them, and made a terrible Slaughter amongst the English Soldiers and Seamen; great part of our Artillery was taken with most of the Ammunition.[39]

The ‘Angrians’ Downing refers to here are the Maratha forces sent to assist Kanhoji. Due to the day’s debacle, “the Commodore come on shore in a violent Rage, flew at the General of the North and thrust his Cane in his Mouth, and treated the Viceroy not much better.”[40] At this juncture, the Portuguese, seeing a loophole in their agreement, decided to open negotiations with the other Maratha commander.  As the EIC labelled Angria a pirate they did not consider waging war on him to be waging war on the Maratha. This left the Portuguese open to conclude a separate peace with the other Maratha general. Of this Downing wrote, “the Angrians defeated us this time, intirely by the Treachery of the Portuguese, who seem’d to design only to lead our People on, and then to leave them in the lurch.”[41]

The British force arrived back in Bombay in early January. Governor Boone, whose replacement William Phipps had been waiting in Bombay for over several weeks in order for Boone to end his tenure on a victorious note, took over on January 9, 1722. Thus ended the failed military ventures of Governor Boone.

Bombay went on the defensive. It was told by London that its “warlike preparations against Angria has been too excessive to be longer supported by us [the EIC]” and that they were only to “maintain no more than sufficient to defend ourselves from Insults between Surat Bombay and the neighbouring places.”[42] Furthermore, the English were losing allies. The discord with the Portuguese over the manner in which their failed joint expedition resulted was exploited by Kanhoji, who offered the Viceroy very favourable terms to come to peace. The Company complained bitterly that the Portuguese had even “Harbour’d Angrias Vessells when purssued [by the EIC]” and when confronted by Angria’s ships at sea the Portuguese “would not give the English any assistance.”[43]

The years 1722 to 1729 saw Angria consolidate Maratha control over the Konkan region mainly at the expense of local potentates allied to the Mughals or European powers such as the Portuguese when their alliance broke down. On the seas Angria’s ships continued to enforce the pass on European and country vessels alike. The sheer firepower of British trade vessels made them difficult targets, compounded by the fact that the Company’s ships now sailed in convoy. These years are filled with both failures and successes in Angria taking British prizes. Minor skirmishes at sea made up the bulk of the military interaction. On the diplomatic side, Angria and Governor Phipps exchanged a series of letters in attempts entreat with each other. However, lack of trust and unwillingness on both sides for the cessation of hostile activities while negotiating seemed to kill any agreement before talks got off the ground.

Angria died in 1729, having never lost a battle against the English. Neither had the Company ever seized any of his vessels at sea. The only victories the EIC had over Angria were defensive ones. Of course this would change but it would be over two decades for this to occur. Angria successfully extended Maratha sovereignty over the seas against not only the English company, but also the Dutch, and the Portuguese estado. Nevertheless, in spite of such glaring evidence to the contrary why then did the English persist in labeling Angria as a pirate, “Rebel Independent of the Rajah Sivajee?”[44]

Partly this could be due to the confusion and subjectivity over where loyalties lay during the Maratha civil war. If one determined that Shahu had always been the legitimate Emperor of the state then those who supported Tarabai, like Angria, could be considered as independent from the Marathas.  However, this view still ignores that fact that on one side or the other, both were still Marathas. Kanhoji never acted or saw himself as separate. The Company knew this as early as 1706 when Angria wrote to them during a treaty negotiation that he could accept the agreement offered, “provided the terms of friendship are agreed upon with the Rana [Tarabai].”[45] A commander checking with his sovereign is hardly acting of his own accord. Malgonkar[46] contends that one reason the EIC labeled Angria as a pirate was so that they could write off the losses incurred by the latter with insurance companies. There may be some truth to this, though more research needs to be carried out to substantiate the claim. If the Company were fighting an active war with the Maratha Confederacy insurance for its vessels or goods may have proven costly to purchase or may have been denied outright. Furthermore, the EIC had only 30 years ago concluded a war, initiated by themselves, with the Mughals that ended on disastrous and embarrassing terms for the Company.[47] Outright warfare with another Indian empire was not going to find many supporters, especially in the wake of the failures of Boone’s military ventures. These expeditions demonstrated the fallacy of trying to bring Angria to terms on land. On water the Company had not fared much better because though the Company’s ships were superior technologically and militarily, they could not out-maneuver Angria’s small, lightweight, and faster vessels. Furthermore, as in all cases when the British tried to suppress another force on the water, their large ships could not pursue the lighter vessels into the shoals or shallow estuaries.[48] The Marathas for their part could not afford to wage open warfare with the English either as it probably would have resulted in the English joining forces with the Mughals, with whom the Marathas were already in active hostilities. Even if this did not occur, opening another front was not in Maratha’s best interests. Allowing Kanhoji to fight the Company and sending reinforcements to his aid when necessary was a more economical strategy that more-or-less supported the political status quo.

Angria was no more a pirate than was any other admiral defending their state’s territorial shores through the accepted methods of the day. In the Indian Ocean of the early 18th century this was accomplished through the pass system, a European introduction. Trying to put indigenous and European piracy in the Indian Ocean into cultural relativist terms historian Patricia Risso  writes the “[l]ack of details about Kanhoji’s loyalties and objectives generates some confusion about his status.”[49] However, this is only so if one relies on the contradictory European archival and historical records. Indian Ocean scholar Ashin Das Gupta made a useful and valid point when he cautioned against writing Indian history from European sources as they often only incorporate India into the record where it serves as part of a wider European story.[50] The archives in Marathi are all quite clear on Kanhoji’s being an integral part of the Maratha Empire in the capacity of the commander of the navy.

As an agent of the Maratha state, Kanhoji cannot be classified as a pirate according to legal scholar William Hall  because,

A pirate either belongs to no state or organised political society, or by the nature of his act he has shown his intention and his power to reject the authority of that to which he is properly subject. So long as acts of violence are done under the authority of the state, or in such way as not to involve its suppression, the state is responsible, and it alone exercises jurisdiction.[51]

Angria received assistance from the larger Maratha army when necessary and made frequent reference to his subordinate status in letters to the EIC. Interestingly, as has also been demonstrated, the EIC was not consistent in its classification of Angria as a pirate as they would refer to him as subordinate to the “Raja Sevajee.”  Furthermore, the English company had reasons, mentioned above, to not hold the Maratha state responsible for Angria’s actions as this could potentially lead to another war with an Indian Empire.

Angria did successfully challenge European incursions for several decades. However, the enforcement of the pass system also meant that many more country traders, or indigenous merchants, were captured than were European vessels. In this light perhaps Kanhoji makes a better nationalist, rather than national, hero. The rendering of Angria as a folk hero and resister of colonialism has brought out an interesting contradiction as Kanhoji fought against empire as an agent of empire. In doing so it also exemplifies the binary definitional categories that have characterised the historiography of Angria: pirate, Hindu national hero, father of the Indian navy, early colonial freedom fighter. Many of these false constructions served special interests. The rendering of Angria as a pirate by the EIC acted to defame and vilify a figure that, embarrassingly for the Company, put early European colonialism to the test in India. Indeed, Kanhoji was never beaten despite the best efforts of the Europeans demonstrating that the eventual dominance of Europe over south Asia was not a foregone conclusion. More than most cases, Kanhoji Angria stands as a stark example of what happens when the victors write history.


1. Phipps, William. “Kanhoji Angrey’s Letter to the President” in The Angreys of Kolaba in British Records (1719 A.D. to 1884 A.D.), ed. B.K. Shrivastavya (Poona: Prashant Printery, 1950), 10. [↑]

2. For examples see: Anonymous, An Authentick and Faithful History of that Arch-Pyrate Tulagee Angria: With a curious narrative by Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive, in a letter to a merchant in London, from a factor at Bombay, (London: J. Cooke, 1756); and Clement Downing, A Compendious History of the Indian Wars with an Account of the Rise, Progress, Strength, and Forces of Angria the Pyrate, London: T. Cooper, 1737). [↑]

3. Robert Orme, A History of the Military Transactions of the British nation in Indostan from the Year MDCCXLV, Vol. 1, Madras: Pharoah & Co., [1803] 1861. Reprint 4th edition. [↑]

4. For examples see: Grant Duff, A History of the Mahrattas. 3 Vols. (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, 1826); Charles Low, History of the Indian Navy (1613-1863), 2 Vols. (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1877). [↑]

5. See: John Biddulph, The Pirates of Malabar and An Englishwoman in India Two Hundred Years Ago, (The Project Gutenberg EBook #11399, [1907] 2004), [↑]

6. For example see, Manohar Malgonkar, Kanhoji Angrey, Maratha Admiral: An Account of His Life and His Battles with the English, (London: Asia Publishing House, 1959). [↑]

7. Boga, Dilnaz. “I.N.S. Angre to Celebrate Golden Jubilee.” The Times of India (4 September 2001), [↑]

8. J.L. Anderson, “Piracy and World History: An Economic Perspective on Maritime Predation,” Journal of World History 6.2 (1995): 193. [↑]

9. Lakshmi Subramanian, “Of Pirates and Potentates: Maritime Jurisdiction and the Construction of Piracy in the Indian Ocean,” in Cultures of Trade: Indian Ocean Exchanges, ed. Devleena Ghosh and Stephen Muecke (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007). pp. 26-28. [↑]

10. Malgonkar, 54-55; Surendra Nath Sen, Early Career of Kanhoji Angria and Other Papers, (Calcutta: University of Calcutta Press, 1941), 2. [↑]

11. Downing, 31. [↑]

12. Lakshmi Subramanian, “Piracy in the Indian Ocean: Exploring Perspectives,” in Indo-Portuguese Encounters: Journeys in Science, Technology and Culture, Vol. 2, ed. Lotika Varadarajan (New Dehli: Aryan Books International, 2006), 761. [↑]

13. Quoted in Ashin Das Gupta, “Malabar in Asian Trade 1740-1800,” in India and the Indian Ocean World: Trade and Politics (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 92. [↑]

14. Downing, 21-22. [↑]

15. Lauren Benton, “Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean Regionalism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 47.4 (2005): 716. [↑]

16. Sen, 9. [↑]

17. The ‘Raja Sevajee’ refers to the Emperor of the Maratha Confederacy founded by Sevaji in 1674. IOR/P/341/2 “Bombay Public Proceedings,” in Asia and Pacific and Africa Collection [APAC], (London: British Library, 1704-1707), 15. [↑]

18. IOR/P/341/2, 90. [↑]

19. Malgonkar, 119. [↑]

20. Stewart Gordon, The Marathas 1600-1818, The New Cambridge History of India Vol. II.4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 109; André Wink, Land and Sovereignty in India: Agrarian Society and Politics under the Eighteenth-century Maratha Svarājya, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (1986), 71. [↑]

21. Downing, 10. [↑]

22. Low, Vol. 1, 96. [↑]

23. Sen, 12. [↑]

24. Biddulph, 41. [↑]

25. Anonymous, 48. [↑]

26. IOR/L/MAR/B/703A, “Journal of the Addison,” in APAC (London: British Library, 1718). [↑]

27. Anonymous, 50. [↑]

28. IOR/L/MAR/B/703A. [↑]

29. Downing, 39. [↑]

30. ”Re: Trade with Angrey: Accounts,” in The Angreys of Kolaba in British Records (1719 A.D. to 1884 A.D.), ed. B.K. Shrivastavya (Poona: Prashant Printery, 1950), 8. [↑]

31. The Siddis were the autonomous maritime arm of the Mughal Empire. “Public Department Diary 1 A,” “Bombay Castle, June 1720,” and “Bombay Castle June 1720: Translate of Shaik Eslam Couns. Letter” respectively in The Angreys of Kolaba in British Records (1719 A.D. to 1884 A.D.), ed. B.K. Shrivastavya (Poona: Prashant Printery, 1950), 3-4. [↑]

32. Downing, 48. [↑]

33. IOR/MAR/B/313A, “Journal of the London,” in APAC (London: British Library). [↑]

34. IOR/MAR/B/313A. [↑]

35. IOR/MAR/B/313A. [↑]

36. IOR/MAR/B/313A. [↑]

37. Biddulph, 64. [↑]

38. Malgonkar, 250-251. Malgonkar does not cite a source directly for this number though he probably received it from Marathi chronicles, which, while factual, are known for their romanticising of events. Shahu’s force was probably large but this number should be treated with some skepticism. [↑]

39. Downing, 58. [↑]

40. Downing, 59. [↑]

41. Downing, 59. [↑]

42. “Decreasing the Strength of the Navy,” in The Angreys of Kolaba in British Records (1719 A.D. to 1884 A.D.), ed. B.K. Shrivastavya (Poona: Prashant Printery, 1950), 8. [↑]

43. IOR/H/60, “The United East India Companys Answer to the Portuguese Envoys Memoriall Complaining of Outrages Comitted by Mr. Phipps Governor of Bombay,” in APAC (London: British Library, 1723). [↑]

44. Biddulph, 37. [↑]

45. IOR/P/341/2. [↑]

46. Malgonkar, 133. [↑]

47. For an account of the war and coming to terms see, Alexander Hamilton, A New Account of the East Indies, Vol. 1, (Edinburgh: John Mossman, 1727), 217-237. [↑]

48. Indeed this was a problem experienced universally when trying to establish jurisdiction or bring justice to known pirate haunts. The British struggled with it for years and never did actually solve the problem. For a good description and history of the problem see the Peter Earle, The Pirate Wars (London: Methuen, 2004). [↑]

49. Patricia Risso, “Cross-Cultural Perceptions of Piracy: Maritime Violence in the Western Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf Region during a Long Eighteenth Century,” Journal of World History 12.2 (2001): 303. [↑]

50. Ashin Das Gupta, “Some Problems of Reconstructing the History of India’s West Coast from European Sources,” in Merchants of Maritime India, 1500-1800, (London: Aldershot, 1994), 175. [↑]

51. William E. Hall, A Treatise on International Law, 4th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895), 268. [↑]

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Derek is an Erasmus Mundus scholar of Global Studies at London School of Economics and Universität Leipzig. His primary research focus is on the conception of piracy and the interaction among precolonial polities in the Indian Ocean world system.
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