Gardd Fotaneg Genedlaethol CymruNational Botanic Garden of WalesNational Botanic Garden of Wales
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Taboo

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An insight into the Power of the East India Company

Will the wild, exotic and terrifyingly untamed James Delaney manage to out thwart the all-powerful Honorable East India Company’s designs on Noutka Sound, the land he has inherited on the west coast of the Americas, that he intends will bring him all the tea in China? Could it become part of the recently independent nation of the United States of America or will the obsessively self-interested and debauched Prince Regent win the land for the Crown?

This Saturday night TV BBC drama, with a star cast including actors Tom Hardy (Delaney), Mark Gatiss (the Prince Regent)and Tom Hollander (the chemist Dr Cholmondeley),  tells its thrilling and intriguing story woven through the truth of the political and economic  reality of the early 19th century.

Links to Middleton Hall

The history of the East India Company is inextricably linked with that of Middleton Hall. The Company, founded in 1601, was created to explore and exploit new trading opportunities which were opening up to the east of India. The Middleton family were a part of its creation and the three Middleton brothers (David, John and Henry), as captains of the Company’s earliest voyages, rapidly accumulated a share of the Company’s extraordinary wealth. However the extreme dangers of the unchartered waters they were plying resulted in the deaths of all three within fifteen year. The riches they accumulated, invested in land by their brother Christopher, vicar of Llanarthne, on behalf of the family, brought together more than 400 acres of land by 1609.

Two centuries later, the EIC players in the Taboo story were the contemporaries of Sir William Paxton, colleagues and “Company” men. By the end of the 18th century the East India Company was not only trading across the globe it also controlled and effectively ruled vast tracts of land across India with a private army numbering many thousands.

By the time he left the EIC in 1785 Paxton, who had gone to sea as a boy of 12, had become a phenomenally rich and powerful man. He had been the Master of the EIC mint in India and founded of one of the first agency houses in Calcutta, making investments for his colleagues and taking a percentage for himself.

The £40,000 Paxton paid for the Middleton Hall estate (over £4 million at today’s  rates) was just a part of his fortune. Paxton never retired to the quiet life, but continued to wheel and deal with the best the world had to offer.

Make sure you watch on Saturday – all in the name of historical research of course!!!