Wednesday, June 30, 2010


In 1661, the islands of Bombay passed to the British Crown, when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. However, the Portuguese garrison in Bassein refused to part with the islands of Salsette, Parel, Worli and Mazagaon.1700 Map

Proceeding roughly south to north, the seven islands ceded by the Portuguese to the British were
  1. Colaba: whose name is a corruption of the Koliname Kolbhat.
  2. Old Woman's Island: (alternatively, Old Man's Island) a small rock between Colaba and Bombay, whose name is a corruption of the Arabic name Al-Omani, after the deep-sea fishermen who ranged up to the Gulf of Oman.
  3. Bombay: the main harbour and the nucleus of the British fort from which the modern city grew; it stretched from Dongri on the east to Malabar Hill on the west.
  4. Mazagaon: a Koli settlement to the east of Bombay island was seperated from it by Umarkhadi andPydhonie.
  5. Worli: north of Bombay was seperated from it by the Great Breach, which extended westwards almost to Dongri.
  6. Parel: North of Mazagaon and called by many other names, including Matunga, Dharavi and Sion. The original population was predominantly Koli.
  7. Mahim: to the west of Parel and north of Worli, took its name from the Mahim river and was the capital of a 13th century kingdom founded by Raja Bhimdev.

This list does not exhaust all the islands that have merged into the modern city of Bombay. In particular,Salsette, the large northern island which remained under Portuguese control till 1739, is not counted among these seven.

 British soldiers captured these islands only in 1665, and a treaty was signed in the manor house on the island of Bombay.
The British East India Company received it from the crown in 1668 for the sum of 10 pounds a year, payable every September 30. Sir George Oxenden, then President of the factory in Surat, became the first Governor of Bombay. The Company immediately set about the task of opening up the islands by constructing a quay and warehouses. A customs house was also built. Fortifications were made around the manor house, now renamed Bombay Castle. A Judge-Advocate was appointed for the purpose of civil administration. Sir George died in 1669.
Gerald Aungier was appointed the President of the Surat factory and Governor of Bombay in 1672, and remained at this post till 1675. He offered various inducement to skilled workers and traders to set up business in the new township. As a result, a large number of Parsis, Armenian, Bohras, Jews, Gujarati banias from Surat and Diu and Brahmins from Salsette came to Bombay. The population of Bombay was estimated to have risen from 10,000 in 1661 to 60,000 in 1675.
The first four governors held Bombay for the Crown:-

1Abraham Shipman19 March 1662October 16642
2Humphrey CookeFebruary 16655 November 16661Acting
3Gervase Lucas5 November 166621 May 16671
4Henry Gary22 May 166723 September 16681Acting

1George Oxeden23 September 166814 July 16691
2Matthew Gray14 July 16697 June 16723Acting
3Gerald Aungier7 June 167230 June 16775
4Henry Oxenden30 June 167727 October 16814
5John Child27 October 168127 December 16832
6Richard Keigwin27 December 168319 November 16841Acting
7Charles Zinzan19 November 168416851Acting
8John Wyborne16852 May 16872Acting
9John Child2 May 16874 Feb 16903
10Bartholomew Harris4 February 169010 May 16944
11Daniel Annesley10 May 169417 May 1694Acting
12John Gayer17 May 1694November 170410

Gerald Aungier established the first mint in Bombay. In 1670 the Parsi businessman Bhimjee Parikh imported the first printing press into Bombay.

 Aungier planned extensive fortifications from Dongri in the north to Mendham's Point (near present day Lion Gate) in the south. However, these walls were only built in the beginning of the 18th century. The harbour was also developed, with space for the berthing of 20 ships. In 1686, the Company shifted its main holdings from Surat to Bombay.
During the Portuguese occupation, Bombay exported only coir and coconuts. With the coming of many Indian and British merchants, Bombay's trade developed. Soon it was trading in salt, rice, ivory, cloth, lead and sword blades with many Indian ports as well as with Mecca and Basra.

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