Robert Clive was born on 29th
September 1725 AD, at Styche, near Market
Drayton in Shropshire, the eldest son of Richard
Clive. His mother, Rebecca Gaskell, came from a Manchester family, a
lady remarkable for her virtues, her talents, and her sterling good sense.
His father, Richard, was one of the lesser country gentry, a group whose position was beginning
to be eroded by the encroachments of the large estates. Richard Clive, finding the income from the old
family estate of Styche too small for the support of a large family, followed the profession of the law. He
appears to have been a man of hasty, sometimes violent, temper, who never appreciated his son's merits.
Robert Clive, who was the eldest son, was sent to
Hope Hall before he was three years old, and for
several years was trained and educated in Mr. Bayley's
family. When not more than four or five he had two
severe attacks of fever, which appear to have left a constitutional weakness that was the source of much trouble
in after life. His school life commenced while he was
still very young at Dr. Eaton's
private school at Lostocke
in Cheshire. At the age of eleven he was removed to
the care of the Rev. Mr. Burslem
at Market Drayton,
with whom he remained a few years, and then, after a
brief public school experience at Merchant Taylors', he
went to a private school kept by Mr. Sterling
Hemstead in Hertfordshire.
First Journey to India (1744 AD)
December 1742, Robert was chosen a writer at a meeting of the Court of Directors
of The East India Company
. He was then seventeen. There was no immediate prospect of large and quick
fortunes in India, but the Company was solidly prosperous, and conditions in Madras and Calcutta were
both more spacious and more healthy than they had been earlier; it was known that reasonable wealth
could be acquired over a term of years by legitimate private trade. So Roberts father took a risk
in sending his son to India, hoping that something might turn up to repair the family fortunes.
Clive landed in Madras (India) on 1th
June 1744, at Fort St. George. Clive settled down in the secretarial office,
copying despatches and other documents. The East India Company obtained its charter from
on the last day of 1600 AD, giving it a monopoly of all trade between
India and Britain. The Company was directed from London and managed its Indian trade through presidents
or governors and councils of the three main settlements.
In 1740 AD the War of the Austrian Succession
began with the seizure of Silesia by King Frederick II
of Prussia. Ever since the death of the Emperor, Charles the Sixth, war had been imminent, and as early as
1741 the fertile brain of La Bourdonnais had conceived the idea of capturing Madras, and firmly establishing
French predominance in India by assembling an overwhelming naval force in the Indian seas.
During the continuance of peace the French governors of Pondicherry, Pierre Benoit Dumas
and Joseph Francois Dupleix
, made all possible preparation for the struggle.
By 1742 AD France and Britain found themselves on opposite sides, thus raising the question of
their relations in India. For the British, the fominant fear was that of the rising french trade in India.
September 1746 AD the French under their governor Joseph Francois Dupleix
took over madras. The proud spirit of the young civilian could ill bear the humiliating position at Madras.
With several others Clive escaped to fort St David, where he became a volunteer in repulsing the French attack.
The British were now confined to Fort St David. Clive was then 21, among his new friends were
, his future brother-in-law, Joseph Fowke
. Clive by his conduct before Pondicherry (Madras) won promotion to lieutenant
March 1749 AD.
In 1751 Clive offered to lead an expedition to relieve Trichinopoly (Tiruchirappalli), where Mahommed Ali Wallajah
the British supported nawab, was besieged by Chanda Sahib
the Nawab of the Carnatic, of French support.
With only 200 European and 300 Indian troops, plus three fieldpieces, Clive seized Arcot,
Chanda Sahib's capital, thereby diverting 10,000 of Chanda Sahib's men from Trichinopoly.
His conduct during the siege made Clive famous in Europe. The Prime Minister Pitt the Elder described
Clive, who had received no formal military training whatsoever, as the "heaven-born general
In late June 1752 Clive met Margaret Maskelyne
, the sister of his friend Edmund Maskelyne, at fort St David.
She was, seventeen, fresh and good-looking. It was later said that Clive first saw her portrait
in Edmund Maskelyne's room and declared that he would marry her and no one else in the world.
It was a match of deliberation and attraction rather than romance, but it seems to have turned into a
partnership of good feeling. Margaret remained loyal to Robert throughout his life.
On Sunday morning, February 18, 1753, five days after he had leave to take his passage for England,
Robert Clive was married to Miss Margaret Maskelyne in the small, picturesque
St. Mary's church
within the walls of Fort St. George. His bride, besides grace and beauty, combined practical
sagacity with a love for music and letters. On the evening of March 23, 1753, Clive and his bride
sailed from Madras on board the Bombay Castle
Clive settled in a house in Queen Square, and was soon drawn into the whirlpool of London fashionable life.
Bengal at that time was famous for its textiles, cotton and silk, and its sugar and saltpetre were in demand.
It was these which attracted Europeans in the 17th
century, including the English. The British established their
first factory in 1650-51 AD, at Hughli. In 1690 AD Job Charnock
, a tough country
character who sacrificed cocks to the goddess Kali, founded a new settlement in a swamp girdled site near
, about 35 miles down-river. It got its name Calcutta
from Kalikata, a village named after the
goddess Kali on the site of the modern Bow Bazar. Here the English prospered. A local rebellion in 1696 AD
enabled them to get permission to fortify the factory under the name of Fort William (after William III)
and 4 years later it became the seat of a presidency under the name of Fort William-in-Bengal.
In 1717 AD a Mughal grant gave the Company free trade in Bengal for its own commerce and the right of
settlement in the interior for an annual payment of £10,000; further land was rented round Calcutta.
Bengal's products had also attracted the French, the Dutch and the Danes. The French founded a station 25
miles up-river from Calcutta in 1688 AD at Chandernagore
. The Dutch were based
(founded 1653 AD)
three miles further upstream, and the Danes at Serampore
(founded 1755 AD,
also called Serampur, Srirampur, Srirampore, Shreerampur, Shreerampore
twelve miles north of Calcutta.
Second Journey to India (1755 AD)
After running unsuccessfully for Parliament, Clive returned to India in 1755 as governor of
Fort St. David and as lieutenant colonel in the royal army.
Following this action Clive headed to his post at Fort St. David and it was there he received news of
twin disasters for the English. Early in 1756, Siraj-ud-Daulla
had succeeded his grandfather Alivardi Khan
as Nawab of Bengal.
The foundations of the British empire in India were, it is said, laid by Robert Clive, known to his
admirers as the "conqueror of India
". Clive first arrived in India in
1744 AD as a civil servant of the East India Company; he later transferred to the military service of the
Company and returned to England in 1753 AD, where he was able to follow a comfortable life-style.
But his desire for extravagance and ostentatious displays of wealth, just as much as his electoral loss in
his attempt to gain a seat in the House of Commons, opened him to the attacks of his creditors and political
opponents. Meanwhile, in Bengal, where the British and the French were contesting for supremacy, the
Company required the services of an able commander. Clive was eager to return to India; and soon the summons came.
He arrived in India in 1756 AD and at once secured the British forces in Madras. He then moved to Calcutta, which had
been captured by the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulla
and early in 1757 he recaptured Bengal.
Later that year, on June 23rd
, he defeated the Nawab, largely by means of bribes, at the
Battle of Plassey
. The Battle of Plassey was the breakthrough
of Clive's career. The successful Company's general of south India had become the master of Bengal,
with all its potential wealth. The gurrilla leader had become an empire-builder.
Third Journey to India (1765 AD)
In declining health Clive went to England in 1760.
In 1762, Clive was raised to the Irish Peerage with the title of Baron Clive of Plassey.
Additionally, he was created a Knight of the Bath in 1764.
Emperor Shah Alam too adorned Clive with a string of titles which include Dilar Jang
(Courageous in Battle
), Saif Jang
(The Sword in War
Mamiru ul Mamalik
(The Grandee of the Empire
Sabdat ul Mulk
(The Select of the Kingdom
), and so on.
In 1765, when administrative chaos and fiscal disorder brought the company near
disaster in Bengal, he returned to Calcutta as governor and commander in chief.
He went to Allahabad and obtained from the titular emperor the right of Dewani
of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa
for the East India Company in exchange for a regular payment of 2.6 million rupees.
Clive limited the company to Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, bringing these states under direct company control.
He reformed the company's administrative practices, restored financial discipline while abolishing abuses,
and reorganized the army. His efforts made the company sovereign ruler of 30 million people who produced
an annual revenue of £4 million sterling.
The Last Days
Clive had three problems, and never really got on terms with any of them.
- The first was psychological. He was a man of action, a spirit only ardent on the march.
But in London there was no critical situation calling for heroic action, no great enterprise calling for
- His second problem was his health. He had already had three serious breakdowns,
besides lesser ones (at Madras, on his return to England in 1760 AD, and in Calcutta in late 1766 AD).
- And the third was the political problem.
Clive left India for the last time in February 1767. On 19th
May 1773 AD he was charged illegally acquiring wealth while he was in power in India.
Clive moved restlessly from place to place, now better, now worse. He disapproved the Regulating Act which had
just been passed. When Hastings took over the revenue administration from Clive's appointed deputy,
Muhammad Reza Khan
, his attitude changed. There was not enough inner reserve to
combat these disillusionments on top of his mounting disabilities.
The attacks of the cruel malady which in the years of vigorous manhood clouded his intellect from time
to time and struck him into melancholy, now became more requent. He Was also assailed by another disease,
gall-stones, which caused him acute and continuous torture. "How miserable I am,
" he Wrote to Strachey
his most devoted comrade and friend. "I have a disease Which makes life insupportable, but which Doctors
tell me won't shorten it an hour
". A few months Were left him of life.
The end came on 22nd
November 1774 AD.
The family was preparing to leave London for Bath. A thud was heard in an adjoining room and people rushed
in to find Clive dead. Horace Walpole had a story that, agonized by pain, he took a double dose of
laudanum against the doctor's orders. But it is second - or - third-hand and the version of throat-cutting
seems more authentic. There seems no doubt that it was suicide. Clive's body was removed by night and
buried without trace in the little parish church of Moreton Say
outside the gates of Styche Park
Only a brass inside inside the door bears the inscription :
Sacred to the memory of Robert, Lord Clive, K.B. Buried within the walls of the church. Born 29 September 1725. Died 22 November 1774. Primus in Indis.
Family Tree :: Robert Clive
Richard Clive MP; Born: 1694, Baptised: Moreton Say, Shropshire, England 12th Feb 1694, Died: May 1771, Marriage: Rebecca Gaskell. he had 13 children.
Maj. Gen. Sir Robert Clive 1st Baron Clive of Plassey KB FRS Born: 29 September 1725 AD, Styche, Shropshire, England; Died: 22 November 1774 AD, London, England (Age 49) Married:15 March 1753 Margaret Maskelyne [Born: 26 October 1735 Died: 28 December 1817 (Age 82)]. They had five daughters and four sons.
Edward (Ned) Clive 1st Earl of Powis Born: 7 March 1754, Queen Square, London; Died: 16 May 1839, Berkeley Square, London (Age 85) Marriage: 7 May 1784 Lady Henrietta Antonia Herbert [1758-1830 (Age 72)]
- Edward Herbert; Born: 22nd Mar 1785, Died: 17th Jan 1848, Marriage: 9th Feb 1818 Lady Lucy Graham
- Lady Henrietta Antonia Clive; Born: 5th Dec 1786, Died: 22 December 1835; Marriage: 4 February 1817 Sir Watkin 5th Bt. Williams-Wynn of Wynnstay Williams-Wynn [1772-1840 (Age 67)]
- Robert Henry Windsor-Clive; Born: 15th Jan 1789, Died: 20th Jan 1854, Marriage: 19th Jun 1819 Lady Harriet Windsor
- Lady Charlotte Florentia Clive Born: 12 September 1787 Died: Twickenham, Middx, England 27th Jul 1866 (Age 78) Marriage: 29 April 1817 (Age 29) Hugh 3rd Duke of Northumberland Percy [1785-1847 (Age 61)]
- Richard Clive Born: England 7th Mar 1755 Died: England 1755
- Jane (Jenny) Clive, Born: India 15th Jun 1756, Died: Bengal, India Sep 1759
- Robert (Bob) Clive, When his parents sailed to England in Feb 1760, he was not well enough to go with them. He was left in the care of Dr Fullerton, Born: India 1759, Died: India, Mar 1760
- Rebecca (Becky) Clive, Born: 15th Jun 1760 Baptised: Moreton Say, Shropshire, England 10th Oct 1760, Died: Dec 1795, Married: India 14th Mar 1780, Lt.Gen. John Robinson
- Charlotte Clive, The Queen's goddaughter; Born: England 19th Jan 1762, Died: 20th Oct 1795
- Margaret Clive / Margaretta Clive; Born: England 15th Aug 1763, Baptised: 18 September 1763, Died: 8th Aug 1814, Married: Norfolk, England 11th Apr 1788 Lt.Col. Lambert Theodore
- Elizabeth Clive (Born: England 30th Oct 1764, Baptised: 18 November 1764)
- Lt-Col. Robert Clive (England 30th Aug 1769, Died: 28 July 1833)
- Nathaniel Clive; Born: 1729 Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 23rd May 1729
- Rebecca Clive; Born: 1730, Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 3rd Nov 1730, Died: 1825
- Sarah Clive; Born: 1732, Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 5th May 1732, Died: 1828
- Judith Clive; Born: 1733, Baptised: London, England 12th Dec 1733, Died: post 1757, Marriage: All Hallows, London Wall, London, England 29th Jan 1757 Thomas Wolley
- Frances Clive; Born: 1734, Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 4th Mar 1734, Died: 3rd Oct 1798, Marriage: 7th Jul 1759 Matthew Wilson
- Richard Clive; Born: 1736, Baptised: London, England 22nd Apr 1736, Died: ante 1741
- George Clive; Born: 1738, Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 9th Aug 1738
- Anne (Nanny) Clive; Born: 1740, Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 5th May 1740, Died: post 1766, Marriage: 1st Dec 1766 Hon. George Sempill
- Richard Clive; Born: 1741, Baptised: St. Bartholemew Exchange, London, England 17th Jul 1741, Died: post 1757
- Elizabeth Clive; Born: 1742, Baptised: Moreton Say, Shropshire, England 23rd Dec 1742
- William Clive, MP for Bishops' Castle (1768). The Treble Almanac 1812 (Dublin) lists him in
the Houe of Commons section: Bishop's castle, Shropshire Wm. Clive, esq; uncle to the earl of Powis (Southampton row, Styche, Salop), Born: 29th Aug 1745, Marriage: 25th Aug 1790 Elizabeth Clive Rotton [Born: 1765, Died: post 1806, Buried: Duffield, Derbyshire, England 6th Mar 1765]
- Lord Clive (1893) - By Sir Charles William Wilson 1836-1905
- The life of Lord Clive (1918) - By Sir George Forrest 846-1926
- The Story of Madras - By Glyn Barlow, M.A. (1921)
St Mary's Church
When The East India Company
first set foot in India, and set up a trading post in Fort St. George in Chennai,
they also set up a church in the vicinity. The quaint St. Mary's Church was meant for the devout British residing
in the vicinity, and dates back to 1678-80. It was in this very church that Robert Clive got married.
St. Mary's Church also has the distinction of being the first Anglican Church in India.
The church was built with private contributions, the East India Company having no part in its building.
The moving spirit behind the building of St Mary's was Governor Streynsham Master
(1640 - 1724)
who had been appointed to the post in 1678 after a number of years with the Company based in Surat on the west coast of India.
The architect of St. Mary's Church was Edward Foule
, whilst the plans were executed by William Dixon
, Chief Gunner of the East India Company's Madras Establishment.
The church is a typical fortified structure as one would expect a gunner's construction to be.
But Dixon seems to have surpassed anything in this line. St Mary's is the ultimate bomb proof church
with walls over five feet thick and a vaulted roof that is about four feet thick and not less than two
feet at its thinnest point. The Sanctuary, Tower, Vestry and the Steeple were added in 1795 AD. Back