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Title: British West Sumatra during the Presidency period, 1760 to 1785
Author: Kathirithamby, Jeyamalar
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1965
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It was with the aim of collecting pepper that the English East India Company first established factories on the West Coast of Sumatra in the face of Dutch and Bantamese opposition. Lack of stable indigenous government in the pepper districts, however, hampered the supply of produce by the Indonesians and necessitated the introduction of a form of indirect administration over the Coast. This system was disrupted in 1760 by a French invasion, but revived British interest in Southeast Asia with development of the new trade link between India and China led the Company to re-establish its former control over the Sumatran settlements on the more elaborate lines of a Presidency, Wide divergence between administrative policy and practice, corruption, the arbitrary exercise of power by Company servants, and general ignorance of the botany of pepper cultivation nevertheless seriously hindered increased production. Reforms initiated by the Directors in 1778 to improve conditions on the Coast were ineffective. Efforts made during the Presidency period to diversify the economy by improvement of trade, agriculture and industry proved equally ineffective due to the strategic and geographical disadvantages of the British settlements and Dutch commercial rivalry. The profits from pepper alone did not cover heavy administrative expenditure and the Company eventually relinquished hopes of elevating the Coast to a major role in the new triangular trade pattern in Asia. In 1785 the settlements were reduced to Residency status and the Company transferred its main interests in Southeast Asia to the direct route between India and China, through the Straits of Malacca.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral