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This new database details the orders sent out by the East India Company to its four principal commercial centres in Asia – Madras, Canton, Bombay and Calcutta – between 1708 and 1753. The four Excel workbooks, one for each of these commercial centres, are based on the annual lists of goods to be procured that were conveyed to the Company’s Asian ‘factories’, contained in the India Office Records series IOR/E/3 (‘despatches to the East’). Specifically, the spreadsheets have been compiled from the Lists of Investments in books IOR E/3/96 to E/3/111.

The spreadsheets list not only the amount, different types and qualities of goods ordered from London over this period, but also include references to additional contextual information in the E/3 letters. These are detailed in the ‘comments’ columns, as explained below.

These pages explain the format of the database and provide some historiographical background and relevant contextual information related to the East India Company’s system of trade in the eighteenth century.