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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/195
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1554-2005
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 73 production units.
Name of creator(s): Russia Company


Administrative/Biographical history:

A charter was granted on February 26th 1555 to a group of merchants intending to trade with Russia. The company was known variously as the Russia Company, the Muscovy Company, and the Company of Merchants Trading with Russia. Sebastian Cabot was appointed the first governor of the Company in 1555, and 207 other subscribers - the majority of whom were London merchants - formed the first of the great joint stock foreign trading companies.

The charter gave the Company a monopoly of English trade with Russia which included the rights to trade without paying customs duties or tolls, and to trade in the interior. The Company's principal imports from Russia were furs, tallow, wax, timber, flax, tar and hemp. Its principal export to Russia was English cloth.

English merchants were expelled from Russia in 1646, and the Tsar ended the Company's privileges three years later. Trade resumed in 1660, when the Company was reorganised as a regulated company. It lost its monopoly in 1698, but survived as an important City institution and shared the eighteenth century revival of Anglo-Russian trade.

The Company in London appointed agents or factors in Russia, hence the term British Factory for the group of British agents. The headquarters of the British Factory was in Moscow until 1717, when it moved to Archangel. In 1723 the Factory moved again to St Petersburg. The Company also appointed a chaplain to the Factory in Russia. With the expansion of trade in the nineteenth century, the number of trading posts maintained by the Company grew to include Archangel, Cronstadt, Moscow and St Petersburg. Since 1917 the Russia Company has operated principally as a charity.

Trade directories indicate that the Company had offices at 25 Birchin Lane, 1842-53 and South Sea House, Threadneedle Street, 1854-65. At other times, the Court of Assistants appears to have met at various premises around the City, including coffee houses and livery company halls.

The early records of the Russia Company perished in the Great Fire of London in 1666.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Russia Company, including:
- Copies of charters, 1554-1628;
- Court minute books, 1666-1999;
- Financial records, 1699-1995;
- Correspondence, 1879-1943;
- Correspondence and other papers, 1711-1888, 1885-c.1908, 1916-1919, 2005;
- Annual reports, 1905-1953;
- Stamp duty book, 1896-1947;
- Administrative records, 1877-1946;
- Papers relating to the Anglican chaplaincies in Russia, 1894-1917, 1993-7;
- Records of the Council for British Repatriated from Russia, 1919-1932;
- Records of the British Factory, St. Petersburg, 1774-1875.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

CLC/B/195-1: Russia Company;
CLC/B/195-2: Eastland Company;
CLC/B/195-3: Council for British Repatriated from Russia.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

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:

The records were deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in 1966 and later, and catalogued by members of Guildhall Library staff. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For papers relating to the Anglican chaplaincies in Moscow, St Petersburg and Archangel see CLC/351, CLC/358, CLC/331, CLC/332 and CLC/335.

Publication note:

A full list of names of the original subscribers can be found in W. S. Page, The Russia Company from 1553-1660 (1911). Lists of governors 1555-1600, London agents 1560-1603, chief agents in Russia 1560-1602, and information on the types of cargo imported and exported by the Company, have been collected by T S Willan in The Early History of the Russia Company, 1583-1601 (Manchester 1956). This work was compiled entirely from sources outside Guildhall Library. The Handbook for merchants, shipowners, captains and foreigners, visiting and residing in Russia (1888) contains details of merchants, customs agents and ship brokers in St. Petersburg, Cronstadt, Revel, Riga, Odessa and Taganrog. These works are all available in the Printed Books Section of the 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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