In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Bombay (modern Mumbai), I have expanded the abbreviations for easier reading and added paragraphing and links. The map is in the original. The title-page bears the date 1856, but internal evidence in various entrees makes clear that the text dates from 1851. This discussion of a major city in British India has particular importance because it immediately precedes the 1857 Mutiny.— George P. Landow]

Manufacturing in Bombay

The principal manufactures are of sugar, indigo, and silks; a description of the latter, orna mented with gold and silver, is woven at Poonah; but, with exception of these, there are no other manufactures worth mentioning. The internal trade of the presidency, for the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this article, namely, want of roads and of navigable rivers, is much more limited than it would otherwise be. For an account of the foreign trade, see BOMBAY [presidency]. The population of this presidency, including Scinde, is estimated at about 8,500,000.

Commerce in Bombay: Exports and Impiorts

The trade of Bombay is of great extent and importance. The following table shows the value of the imports and exports each year, from 1844-45 to 1847-48:

Years Exports Imports
1844-1845 £5,126,552 £3,773,2611
1845-1846 £5,801,780 £3,014,948
1846-1847 £4,604,897 £2,701 ,41 7
1847-1848 £4,326,796 £2,949,591

Of the imports of 1848, Great Britain furnished to the value of 1,289,757, and took of exports 951,370. China fur nished to the value of 738,434, and took 2,959,169. After these, but to a much smaller extent, stands the trade with the Persian and the Arabian Gulfs; the coast of Africa; the Portuguese possessions in the East; France, including the isles of France and Bourbon; and America. The shipping, inwards and outwards, at Bombay, for the year ending April 30, 1843, was :

Vessels Number of Ships Tonnage
British 328 175,963
French 7 2,191
Portugese 4 843
American 4 1,398
Arabian 6 2,193
Siamese 1 350
Total 350 18,293

Bombay is the chief Indian port connected with the establishment of steam navigation between India and this country. In 1837, three steam vessels sailed between Bombay and Suez; and in 1843, there were eight. There is now a regular trans mission of mails by steam, every fortnight, by way of the Me diterranean and the Red Sea. Steamers ply between Bombay and Point de Galle in Ceylon, where they meet other steamers which proceed to Madras and Bombay, and also to Canton in China.


A railway terminus completed four decades after Blackie wrote about the city: The Victoria Terminus, Bombay (now Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). Designed by Frederick William Stevens (1847-1900), and completed in 1888. Click on image to enlarge it.

A railway between Bombay and Tannah, a town and fortress on the island of Salsette, about 25 miles North-northeast from the former, was commenced on October 31,1850, and is the first rail way begun in India. The ISLAND of Bombay, on which the city is situated, is one of a cluster of islands, and the largest of all, excepting Salsette, with which it has long been connected towards the Northeast by a mound and arched stone bridge; another connecting mound was formed towards the NorthWest a few years ago. It is about 8 miles long from North to South, and about 3 miles broad, formed by two ranges of rock of unequal length, running parallel to each other on opposite sides of the island; these ranges are united at the extremities by hills of sandstone, which are only a few feet above the level of the sea.

The interior of the island was formerly liable to be overflowed by the sea, which is now prevented by substantial works and embankments, but the lower parts are still covered with water during the rainy monsoon. On the South West, the island terminates in a rocky peninsula 60 feet high, called Malabar Point, stretching far into the sea, and forming the West side of Back Bay, by which the South end of the island is hollowed out. It is adorned with a pleasing variety of country seats, interspersed with groves of cocoa-nut trees, and traversed in all directions by good roads. Magnificent views are obtained from this point. The South East extremity of the island, again, terminates in a similar, but much longer projection, formed, in part, by Old Woman and Colabah islands connected together, and to Bombay, by causeways. This projection, which, by the junction of the islands, appears an entire peninsula, forms the East side of Back Bay. Here, also, are a number of spacious houses, most of which are surrounded by small gardens, and overshadowed by mangoes, palms, and tamarinds. At the extremity of this point, which forms the South entrance point of Bombay harbour, is a light-house.

The Legal System in Bombay

The jurisdiction of the supreme court is confined to the island of Bombay, and to Europeans in the rest of the presidency; the civil and criminal laws are those of England. Bombay is, next to Madras, the oldest of our possessions in the East. At present it rules the whole NorthWest coast of India.

Sources of this entry in The Imperial Gazetteer

Hamilton’s East India Gazetter; Von Orlich’s Travels in India; Porter’s Progress of the Nation; McCulloch’s Account of the British Empire; British Colonial Library; Historical and Descriptive Account of British India; Horsburgh’s East India Directory; The Oriental Interpreter; Private Information, Sic.)


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 7 November 2018.

Last modified 22 November 2018