Related Content

Related Overviews

East India Company

replica ship

John Paul Jones (1747—1792) naval officer in the American and Russian services


See all related overviews in Oxford Reference »


More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • History


Show Summary Details


East Indiamen

Quick Reference

The name given to the ships of the various East India companies. The great national importance of these companies, particularly those of England and Holland, coupled with the rich returns of their monopoly of trade in the East, resulted in the building of proud and magnificent ships, as much for national and company prestige as for the actual trade. Ships of these companies, as large as any built in the world, were highly gilded and decorated with carving, and were finished internally as much for comfort and luxury for the officers and passengers as for cargo capacity. They were always armed as warships for protection against piracy and against the warships of other nations, and were very effective not only at protecting themselves but at taking the fight to the enemy as did the one commanded by John Paul Jones.

In 1609 the English company built its own dockyard at Deptford, on the River Thames, where its East Indiamen were built, and the Dutch company also had its own dockyard. It was only in the 19th century, when the monopoly of eastern trade began to be eroded by private competition, that the British company gave its shipbuilding to outside interests, the greater part of it to the Blackwall yard of Green and Wigram.

Throughout the long histories of the individual companies, East Indiamen were regarded as the ne plus ultra of the shipping world.

See also replica ship.

See also replica ship.

Subjects: History

Reference entries