Gov. Gerald Aungier who made Bombay (Mumbai) a major commercial hub in the 17th century

Governor Gerald Aungier, Bombay

growth of Bombay under Gov.Aungier 1700s

Not very much is known about  Gerald Angier's (1640 – 30 June 1677)  early childhood and education back in England.  Born in a religious family in 1640, the second son of Rev. Ambrose Aungier, Prebendary of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and Grisel Bulkeley, daughter of the Archbishop of Dublin, Lancelot Bulkeley,  Aungier  was the grandson of Francis Aungier, 1st Baron Aungier of Longford. 

It is mentioned that in an early age he entered the service of East India Company operating in India and he  began  his  career at Surat  town  (now a sprawling city and an important diamond center in the world in the state of Gujarat)  as a Factor in 1661 and his rise was gradual. When he was promoted as a warehouse keeper in 1663, he got a  rare chance to accompany an important English royal family member - the Earl of Marlborough who subsequently  claimed the town and island of Bombay in 1662 on behalf of the King of Great Britain. Upon the death of  Sir George Oxenden on 14 July 1669, Aungier became the President of the Surat factory. This high-ranking post then carried with it the governorship of the port and island of Bombay. As a liberal, he emphasized local self-governance, religious tolerance, strong trade and commerce and establishment of court of law to contain civil and criminal offences. 

St Thomas cathedral, mumbai, India, 

Above image: Gov. Aungier established in Bombay, then a small town  the church.  :The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1676, on Bombay Green, at the present site of the St. Thomas' Cathedral, but it took over 40 years before the  construction could be completed. Richard Cobbe, the Chaplain, completed the construction of the building between 1715 and 1718; opened for divine service on Christmas Day 1718. Now a UNESCO recognized heritage site.,........... 

Being hard-working and a visionary  Aungier understood the strategic location of the town and  the islands, so  he focused on the town's development and growth and this culminated in the  support of the government  for encouraging commerce and trade activities. He without reservation roped in the powerful merchant community to open up  their business in Bombay . The establishment of mint (1676) in the fort area made more  traders to move in. Paying more attention to infra structure, etc, he encouraged other professions , artisans and other professionals  to move over to Bombay. He established the first Court of Law here and also the first Angelical Church in the Bombay castle ( now St. Thomas cathedral) to cater to the spiritual need of the growing European community. Later the church became an iconic structure, a landmark in the fort area and  on December 25, 1718.the first services began in earnest. St. Thomas cathedral is still functional (now a UNESCO recognized heritage site) and in the recent past celebrated its 300th Christmas.

Bombay castle where the first mint was set. .

EIC 's coins struck by the royal mint.

Above images; a new coinage emerged, which eventually funded the very foundations of the British Empire. To entice the eastern traders, there was a need for the EIC to use   bullion as a trading commodity grew from the lack of appropriate goods.The coins were readilt accptable on the market. Being traders in metals as well, the EIC  minted  its own trading currency as it grew to become one of the largest bullion traders of its time.  By 1677,the company became quite influential, so King Charles II granted it the right to mint its own currencies in the territory of Bombay. Later EIC operated 14 mints in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.By 1858 being a non-government entity, the EIC consolidated other existing mints and became the main issuer and controller of India's circulating money.  The credit goes to Gov. Aungier, it all began witha small mint  in a part of Bombay castle. ..............

In the wake of Portuguese princess' wedding with King Charles II of England, Bombay and other two islands were given as dowry by the Portuguese. The wedding took place on 31st May, 1661 in a far-off land in Europe. After the ratification of the marriage treaty on 28th August 1661, there was an inordinate delay in the transfer of the lands from the Portuguese to the British Crown. Certain prominent members in the Portuguese community holding power, deliberately delayed the process. However, Aungier,  with patience, deftly handed the delicate position. He also annexed the islands - Colaba and Old Woman islands, but this time his strategy was different. Th trasfer made the East India company the sole owner of the port and the islads and reaped lots of profits. Instead of hefty custom duties and taxes, they paid only an annual rent of 10 pounds. 

Portuguese Gate to access Bombay castle, Mumbai-

Bombay islands, 1764, Berlin map. Wikimedia commons org

It’ was on 23 September 1668  the British East India Company,  founded in 1600 to trade in the Indian Ocean, landed  on a few  islands including Bombay  leased out  to them  by the British Crown. They set the base officially in a  Portuguese manor with a  governor as the head. The political scenario of this area changed and under the British Crown a big transformation had taken place over a period. The EIC was the driving force behind the birth of  a mega polis called Bombay (now Mumbai) the most important commercial center in India, perhaps in Asia. The 2nd Gov. Aungier laid the foundation for its fast the 17th century...........

Since his landing in Bomaby as the president of Western Presidency, he had never slowed down his activities to the see the growth of  Bombay as a major  commercial center in the British empire. Naturally, his foresight pushed him in that direction. His desire of  shifting the Presidency did not occur during his time. He died on the 30th June 1677 at Surat where he was buried.