The Rise and Fall of Mr Nicks, East India Company Servant in Madras

Margaret Martyn documents the troubles of a seventeenth century British trader, after twenty years in India.

‘John Nix, a very good and hopeful youth allso’ was how his Chief, Major Puckle, described him in 1674 after his first five years as an apprentice in the service of the East India Company in Madras. But on February 18th 1690/1, the Court of Committees - 24 Directors - sitting in Leadenhall Street, wrote to Fort St George:

‘We do hereby expell from our service that expensive and unjust person, Mr Nicks’.

What, in twenty-two years, had happened to John Nicks?

On September 18th, 1667, John Nicks, son of John Nicks, draper- who had been admitted to Christ’s Hospital from the parish of St Sepulchre, Holborn in 1657 - was presented by the Treasurer of the school to the Directors of the East India Company ‘to be entertained in their service as the Court should think fitt’. With Nicks were nine other ‘blew Coate’ boys - ‘youths that have been brought up to writing and ciphering, four of whom being grammarians’.

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