British Colonial India in the 19th Century

Key Developments and Dates in the Expansion of British Power in India QUESTIONS on British Rule, 1857-1914.

Maps of India 1798, 1836, 1857, 1909, 1780-1947

Mugal Empire of India, 1560s to 1770s

Extent of Euopean Colonial Control, 1760-1938

Research question: Did British rule foster economic underdevelopment or development?

On line British Parliamentary Papers [find India in the subject catelog]

Figures on Indian Economic Development 1881-1891


British women ("Memsahibs"), c 1850

Hindu Indian women

Mount Holyoke Women in India: The Example of Ruth Parker White (class of 1917)

Architecture of Empire

Taj Mahal of the Mughal Empire

British Empire

Figures and Report on Education in India, 1892-1897




Cultural Exchange: Incorporating the colonial in British upper-class life. The example of an Indian servant girl in the household of Robert Clive, director of the English East India Company and the victor over the Mughal army in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. This portrait is by the famous English portraitist, Joshua Reynolds, and was created around 1765, after Clive's victory in India.


Architecture of Empire

Headquarters of the Calcutta Presidency of the East India Company c.1820 [Compare the Taj Majhal built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan 1632-53 ]
The neo-classical architecture, elaborate gate, and dramtic gardens and avenues invoked the imperial connection with Rome. There were two other Presidencies, one at Madras and the other at Bombay. Saguna takes place near Bombay.

College Hospital in Calcutta, ca. 1850
British Law Courts in Madras
Old Entrace Gate and Anglican Church in Bombay, c. 1850

Architecture and Infrastructure: Building railways in British Indian, ca. 1860s.


British Plan for New Delhi, built after the 1857 Mutiny. It was in "Old Delhi" that the Indian Mutiny broke out in 1857.


Indian Peasants
Under the East India Company, the peasants, who made up the bulk of the Indian population, paid very high taxes that were collected by the company and formed around 80 to 90 percent of all taxes collected. (Compare French peasants of the same period.)


Hindu Women

British Women: Memsahibs

From the 1820s, more and more British women came to India to accompany their husbands, while every year numerous single British women arrived to make matches with colonial officers and administrators. The married women often participated in missionary work, along the lines described in Saguna. Their growing presence in India altered British social life and introduced a minor moral revolution. Before their arrival, British men dined together and enjoyed local entertainments, many keeping Indian women as mistresses. These practices diminished greatly with the arrival and growing presence of British women, who brought with them the "Victorian morality" of their day.


Mount Holyoke Women in India: The Example of Ruth Parker White (class of 1917)

Online primary sources for the British in India: