East India Company College

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East India Company College
Hailey, Hertfordshire

The former East India Company College, now Haileybury and Imperial Service College

The East India Company College, or East India College, was an educational establishment situated at Hailey, Hertfordshire, nineteen miles north of London, founded in 1806 to train "writers" (administrators) for the East India Company. It provided general and vocational education for young gentlemen of sixteen to eighteen years old, who were nominated by the Company's directors to writerships in its overseas civil service. The college's counterpart for the training of officers for the company's Presidency armies was Addiscombe Military Seminary, Surrey.

The East India Company was nationalised and the college closed in 1858, becoming a public school with continuing ties to the former college. The college buildings survive and are now occupied by the public school's successor, Haileybury and Imperial Service College, a private school.


Charles Grant, Chairman of the British East India Company and a Member of Parliament (MP), was closely involved in the foundation of the college. It was first located in Hertford Castle but it was evident that a purpose-built seat of learning would be more suitable and in October 1805 the company purchased an estate just outside Hertford Heath for the sum of £5,930 for this objective. The foundation stone of the new buildings were laid on 12 May 1806. The buildings cost the East India Company £92,000 at the time of their erection to the designs of the architect William Wilkins (who later designed the National Gallery in London). The grounds were landscaped by Humphry Repton, his most notable work here being the terraced area to the front of Wilkins' main range and ponds to the west of this.[1] Repton submitted his final account for work undertaken here just eight days before a carriage accident which left him crippled.[1] The new buildings were occupied by students in 1809.[2]

The East India Company had been incorporated in 1600 as a commercial entity. For two hundred years its administrators had been recruited, largely by patronage, to oversee commercial transactions in Asia. By 1800 they had become the de facto government for millions of people in those areas, but without much training for the role. The college was intended to address these shortcomings. In fifty years it trained over two thousand so-called "writers" to administer the Indian subcontinent.

The curriculum was wide, detailed, and targeted to the career responsibilities. It included political economy, history, mathematics, natural philosophy, classics, law and humanity and philology. Languages included Arabic, Urdu (Hindustani), Bengali, Marathi, Sanskrit, Telugu and Persian. Among the tutors were some of the finest minds of the day, many from Oxford and Cambridge, with lavish annual salaries as much as £500.[3]

The college was customarily referred to as "Haileybury" in contemporary accounts, debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons and by the administrators of the East India Company and the Colonial Civil Service. From 1839 the college had a journal known as the Haileybury Observer.[4]

The East India Company itself was seen as too powerful. There was pressure for meritocracy to replace recruitment by patronage. Graduates of universities in Great Britain should have the chance to serve in India, without needing to pass through the college. In 1855, Parliament passed an act "to relieve the East India Company from the obligation to maintain the College at Haileybury". King's College, London, hosted the first open competitive examinations for appointment to the Indian Civil Service.

Closure and later use of buildings[edit]

In the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and in anticipation of the winding-up of the affairs of the East India Company itself, the college was closed in January 1858. This left the puzzle of what to do with the imposing buildings. For a brief period, they became a military depot for troops destined for India, and during this interregnum the college's Master, Henry Melvill, and Registrar, the Reverend James William Lucas Heaviside, continued to live in their residences on the site and oversaw the maintenance of the buildings. In 1861, the estate was sold at public auction, when it was bought by the British Land Company for £15,000.[5]

A Hertford publisher, Stephen Austin,[6] who had been the official printer to the East India Company’s College and had thus become one of the leading printers of books in various Oriental languages, led a campaign to ensure the buildings were returned to some sort of academic purpose, and in 1862 the site reopened as the public school Haileybury College. This was formally constituted by a royal charter dated 30 August 1864. During the Victorian era, the difference between the two periods of education on the site was referred to as "Old Haileybury" and "New Haileybury".

In its early years, the new Haileybury College retained close links to those involved in colonial administration, and in 1942 it merged with the struggling Imperial Service College to become Haileybury and Imperial Service College.



The college had four principals:


The position of dean was filled by one of the professors:


The position of registrar was filled by one of the professors:




Political Economy[edit]

Mathematics and Natural Philosophy[edit]

Classical and General Literature[edit]

  • Edward Lewton (1806–30)
  • Joseph Hallett Batten (1806–15)
  • James Amiraux Jeremie (also Dean) (1830–50), elected in 1850 Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.
  • W. E. Buckley (1850–57) previously tutor and fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford and Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (1844–50), and a member and subsequently vice-president of the Roxburghe Club.


Assistants in the Oriental Department included Maulavi Abdal Aly (1809–12), Maulavi Mirza Khedel (1809–19), The Revd. Robert Anderson (1820–25), and David Shea (1826–36). Moonshy Ghoolam Hyder and Thomas Medland taught oriental writing.[13][14]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b Desmond, R. G. C. (1978). "A Repton Garden at Haileybury". Garden History. 6 (2): 16–19. doi:10.2307/1586693. JSTOR 1586693.
  2. ^ Danvers et al. 1894, p. 18.
  3. ^ "The East India College". Haileybury. Archived from the original on 22 December 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  4. ^ East India College (1839–1843). "The Haileybury Observer". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  5. ^ Richard Rhodes James, The Road from Mandalay: A Journey in the Shadow of the East (2007), p. 191
  6. ^ Ayto, Jennifer. "Stephen Austin's Diary: extracts from 1850 to 1888". Our Hertford and Ware. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  7. ^ Moriarty, G. P.; Haigh, John D. (revised) (2007) [2004]. "Henley, Samuel (1740–1815)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12933. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ a b Minchin, James George Cotton (1901). Our Public Schools: their influence on English history. London: Swan Sonnenschein. p. 263. joseph batten east india.
  9. ^ Boase, G. C.; Matthew, H. C. G. (revised) (2004). "Melvill, Henry (1798–1871)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18540. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  10. ^ Rosane Rocher, ‘Sanskrit for Civil Servants 1806–1818’, Journal of the American Oriental Society 122, 2002, p. 381-390.
  11. ^ Bendall, Cecil; Loloi, Parvin (revised) (2004). "Johnson, Francis (1795/6–1876)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14878. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ Lane-Poole, Stanley; Loloi, Parvin (revised) (2008) [2004]. "Eastwick, Edward Backhouse (1814–1883)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8418. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ a b c Sir Richard Temple (1882). Men and Events of My Time in India. London: John Murray. p. 18. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
  14. ^ a b c F. C. Danvers, M Monier-Williams; et al. (1894). Memorials of Old Haileybury College. Westminster: Archibald Constable. ISBN 9788125022527. Quoted in A Dictionary of Public Administration by Shriram Maheshwari.
  15. ^ The Mulfuzāt Timūry (Autobiographical Memoirs) of the Moghul Emperor Timūr p 16 accessed 9 Oct 2007 Archived 6 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Memorials of old Haileybury College. Westminster, A. Constable and Company. 1894. p. 23.
  17. ^ Shattock, Joanne (2016) [2004]. "Empson, William (1791–1852)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8800. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  18. ^ Curthoys, M. C. (2004). "Dealtry, William (1775–1847)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7382. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  19. ^ Binns, Sheila (2014). Sir Edward Colebrooke of Abington and Ottershaw, Baronet and Member of Parliament: The Four Lives of an Extraordinary Victorian. Guildford, Surrey: Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd. p. 16. ISBN 978-17814-86948.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]