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company ensign 1660-1707
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The Maritime Service 1600 to 1834

From its first charter in 1600, the English East India Company operated one of the world's most extensive commercial shipping operations in support of its trading enterprises during the colonial period.

The Maritime Service was the company's merchant or mercantile fleet. It was responsible for carrying cargoes outward to the east, returning richly laden with exotic goods which found a ready, and profitable market in Europe.

The East India Company had obtained a monopoly of trade to the east. This was strictly enforced, and no other ships could trade in territory where it had established its bases. The rules were relaxed a little in 1813, and other ships were licensed to trade in some areas, but not in all. For example, it was still only Company ships that were allowed to trade in China.

In 1834 the Company's entire monopoly came to an end, and the Maritime Service was disbanded, although the Company continued to administer its territories in Asia for many years, and ships belonging to many nations were then trading to and from the east.

This website aims to provide some basic information on the many ships and voyages of the East India Company's Maritime Service.

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