a1 University of New England
The English East India Company's Coromandel trade provided a spectacle of steady, if unspectacular, growth from its first inauguration early in the seventeenth century. It was not subject to the violent ups and downs, or the extremes of great success and utter failure that characterized the Company's trade in some other regions of India and Southeast Asia. An expanding trade on this coast was matched by an expanding presence. By the end of the century it was well-founded in two substantial Forts (St George and St David) and a number of residencies in important ports of outlet from Vizagapatnam in the north to Cuddalore in the south. By investment and enterprise, by diplomacy and force, English interests and influence on the coast grew and their settlements became nodal points of Indo-British exchange and interaction. The timely demonstration of controlled power, both when faced with threats from the ‘country’ powers of the hinterland and from European rivals on the seafront, helped in the growth of these settlements beyond mere centres of trade. Providing, as they did, not merely trade and investment, but also security of person and property, they were naturally an attraction to many groups in Indian society in the hinterland.