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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/123-05
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1837-1978
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 384 production units.
Name of creator(s): Assam Company | tea producers and traders


Administrative/Biographical history:

The company was established in 1839, when a provisional committee, under the chairmanship of George de Hochpied Larpent, was formed to enquire into the quality and nature of tea production in Assam and ascertain what support would be given by the East India Company to an association for its cultivation and manufacture. The East India Company subsequently made over two thirds of its tea estates to the Assam Company with permission to settle on other lands in Assam. Despite trading as the Assam Company from 1839, the firm was not incorporated in India until 1846. It was registered in England in 1865.

From 1839 to 1864 a "local board" in Calcutta directed affairs in Assam liaising with the superintendents of each of the three divisions into which the tea gardens were organised: the northern, eastern and southern. In 1864, the Calcutta board was abolished and operations were controlled henceforth directly from London via a Calcutta agent. In 1865, the northern and eastern divisions were sold to the Northern Assam Tea Company Limited. Activity thereafter was concentrated on the southern holdings from headquarters at Nazira, near Jorehat. The superintendent's title was also changed to "general manager and agent of the Assam Company in India". The company reformed with limited liability in 1923.

The firm was acquired outright by the Inchcape Group of trading companies in 1980, by which time it had become a holding company for the Assam Company (India) Limited.

The company has operated from a succession of addresses in the Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.: 6 Great Winchester Street, 1839; 57 Old Broad Street, 1839-45; 30 Great Winchester Street, 1846-63; 22 Great St Helen's, 1863-70; 2 East India Avenue, 1870-85; 5 Laurence Pountney Hill, 1885-1965; 40 St Mary Axe, 1966-88.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Assam Company, producers and traders in tea, including papers regarding shareholders; legal papers; papers regarding properties including maps and plans; reports; annual reports; minute books; financial accounts; correspondence and letter books; circulars; press cuttings; and papers regarding the cultivation and manufacture of tea including analysis of tea production and tea garden inspection reports.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Access by appointment only. Please contact staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records of the company have been transferred to the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in four separate batches. Certain papers (Ms 8794-8803) were donated in 1954 by Walter Arbuthnot Prideaux, grandson of Walter Prideaux, first secretary of the company. In 1957 and 1965 the Assam Company made further deposits (Ms 9924-36; 11497-504; 23723-5). The most recent transfer (Ms 27046-103) took place between May 1987 and December 1988 from the offices of Inchcape Plc at 40 St Mary Axe. The records were catalogued in 1988-9. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

This collection is a sub-fond within the Inchcape Group fonds. See CLC/B/123 for a list of all the companies represented in this collection and a history of the Inchcape Group.

Publication note:

For further information about the history of the firm, consult H. A. Antrobus, A History of the Assam Company 1839-1953 (1957), a copy of which is held by the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
January to May 2011.

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