The train of circumstances which ended in the establishment of the English in Bombay is certainly as wonderful as anything on record. A group of grey-headed sinners living in London, and another group living in Lisbon, decree that the island of Bombay shall constitute part of a dowery of a Portuguese girl who shall marry Charles II., King of England. The island is 12,000 miles away, and none of them have seen it, except on the map. It does not matter. The deed is done and, as sayeth the clown in the circus— “Here we are!”

What we were bound to receive was Tangier, Bombay and £500,000. Tangier nearly fell into the bands of the Moors, We ultimately received Bombay vithout its dependeocies, and the money payment dwindled down to £200,000 in bills, with some bills of lading of sugar and coffee cargoes to be realised in London. It is related that shortly after this time a gibbet was erected at Lord Clarendon's gate by the populace of London, on which was printed—

Three sights to be seen
Dunkirk, Tangier, and a barren Queene.

For anything we were the better they might have added "Bombay Green," without injuring the rhyme or reason of the inuendo. And had the public known as much as we know now, it would have been there. The whole business was a pure swindle. At this very moment there lay in the strong box of Clarendon a secret article of the marriage treaty, the existence of which was carefully concealed from the public, by which, in consideration of these forts and the gold that fell into the lap of Barbara Palmer, we were bound neck and heel to fight the battles of Portugal through thick and thin in India. In this way, without our consent being asked or given, were our lives and liberties signed away. Hume and Macaulay doubtless knew of this secret article, but neither they nor James Mill allude to it, and it is atrange that Mackintosh, whom we claim as a Bombay man, passes it over in silence. We are indebted to Brace, the paid and painstaking annalist of the East India Company, for searching out the details vhich we now give, with the regret that such a disgraceful document should smudge one page of the History of England.

Had the statesmen of Portugal been strong enough to exact its stipulations (they soon became effete), or had our relations with Holland remained the same as they were when the treaty was signed, we wonld have seen a new and startling evolution of events. The Fortugnese in India apparently soon knew of it. When bard pressed by the Mahrattaa at Bassein, in 1739, they sent a wail across the water. But our tender mercies were cruel. On the security of some old brass guns and church plate, a unique collateral security, we advanced them R[upee]s. 15,000. Governor Hornby knew of this secret treaty, and refers to it, for in 1780, when they again asked assistance, be refused it, and told them to pay us the money already due to us. We are indeed told by a recent historian [Agnes Strickland, Lives of the Queens of England (1851)] that this bond of alliance or marriage treaty is the foundation of all our territorial possessions in the East Indies, and remains unbroken to the present day. We are sorry to hear it, and don't believe it, as far as this secret article is concerned. Both lawgiver and historian unite in common to treat it as a dead-letter and consign it to oblivion. The foundation of English dominion in Bombay lies in the 11th article of the Marriage Treaty, concluded 23rd June, 1661, between his Majesty Charles II., King of Qreat Britain, and Alfonsus VI., King of Portugal. Here it is: —

Article XL

That for the better improvement of the English interest and commerce in the East Indies, and that the King of Great Britain may be better enabled to assist, defend, and protect the subjects of the King of Portugal in those parts, from the power and invasion of the States of the United Provinces, the King of Portugal, with the assent and advice of hia Council, gives, transfers, and by these presents, grants and confirms, to the King of Great Britain, his heirs and successors, for ever, the port and island of Bomhay, in the East Indies, with all the rights, profits, territories, and appurtenances whatsoever thereunto belonging, and, together with the income and revenue, the direct, fall, and absolute dominion and sovereignty of the said port, island, and premises, with all their royalties, freely, fully, entirely, and absolutely. He also covenants and grants that the quiet and peaceable possession of the same shall, with all convenient speed, be freely and effectually delivered to the King of Great Britain, or to the persons thereto appointed by the said King of Great Britain, for Ms use, in pursuance of this cession, the inhabitants of the said island (as subjects of the King of Great Britain, and under his sovereignty, crown, jurisdiction, and government) being permitted to rremain there, and to enjoy the free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion, in the same manner as they do at present. It being always understood, as it is now declared, once for all, that the same regulation shall be observed for the exercise and preservation of the Roman Catholic religion in Tangier, and all other places which shall be ceded and delivered by the King of Portugal into the possession of the King of Great Britain, as were stipulated and agreed to on the surrender of Dunkirk into the hands of the English; and when the King of Great Britain shall send his fleet to take possession of the said port and island of Bombay, the English shall have instructions to treat the subjects of the King of Portugal, throughout the East Indies, in the most friendly manner, to help and assist them, and to protect them in their trade and navigation there. [4-8]


Douglas, James. A Book of Bombay. Bombay: Bombay Gazette Steam Press, 1883. Internet Archive online version if a copy at the University of Michigan. Web. 24 November 2018.

Last modified 24 November 2018