The East India Company connection

In December 1599 another of the Chirk Middletons, Robert, was one of the original petitioners to Queen Elizabeth for the granting of a charter for what was to become the East India Company. Sir Thomas was one of the Campany’s first investors, directors and stakeholders and Christopher’s brothers were present at the very first meeting which resolved to create the company to seek out new trading opportunities in lands barely known at that time. John, Henry (later Sir) and David were archetypal merchant adventurers, licensed privateers looking for a personal advancement through enterprise, bravery and endeavour. They took part in all the early Company voyages to places such as the Malucca and Banda Islands, sailing literally uncharted waters and exposing themselves to all the inherent dangers of seafaring at that time.

John the eldest brother died at sea during the voyage but Sir Henry and David went on to have successful adventuring careers for the next decade and more. Their expeditions were often hair-raising and accounts of their exploits were made famous during their lifetimes. They both feature as the “Seamen of Chester” in Thomas Fuller’s “Worthies of England” first published in the 1660s and, more recently appear in Giles Milton’s page turning account of those intrepid times “Nathaniel’s Nutmeg”.

Life in the East India Company tended to be nasty brutish and short and the fates of David and Sir Henry were inescapable. In 1613, Sir Henry died in the East Indies aboard his foundering ship the “Trades Encrease”, and his brother was lost when his vessel sank off Madagascar in 1615 when David was bringing home news of his brother’s death. Their legacy is considerable though, and the wealth amassed by the brothers is passed on to David’s son, also Henry, who, as nephew to Christopher, is the first person recorded as living at our Middleton Hall.