Rowland Mainwaring (1745 – 1817), one of my fifth great grandfathers, was the fourth of the five sons of Edward Mainwaring (1709 – 1795) and his wife Sarah Mainwaring nee Bunbury (1709 – 1798). As a younger son, Rowland was unlikely to inherit the Mainwaring estates. Expected to make his own way in the world, he joined the army, becoming a captain in the 1st Regiment (Royal Scots) and later a major in the Staffordshire Militia.

Rowland married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth Mills of Barlaston, died soon after their marriage in 1777. There were no children. In 1780, three years later, he married Jane Latham, daughter of Captain Latham (d. 1762) of the Royal Navy. From this second marriage there were seven children, with four sons:

  • Edward Henry Mainwaring 1781–1807
  • Rowland Mainwaring 1782–1862
  • Thomas Mainwaring 1784–1834
  • Charlotte Margaretta Mainwaring 1785–1836
  • Elizabeth Mainwaring 1787–1869
  • Susannah Jane Mainwaring 1788–1871
  • George Mainwaring 1791–1865

Three of the sons joined the Honourable East India Company. Rowland (junior) enlisted in the navy.

Edward Henry Mainwaring

Edward Henry Mainwaring began his military career in the Staffordshire militia. In 1795, at the age of fourteen he became an ensign without purchase in the 13th Regiment of Foot (Light Dragoons). He became a lieutenant by purchase in 1796 but retired 9 months later. He is recorded as a cadet in the Bengal Army, appointed ensign from 23 September 1797. On 10 September 1798 he was made a lieutenant. He died unmarried in 1807.


July 22 1807 At Dacca, in the East Indies, Lieut. Edward Henry Mainwaring, of the 3d Regiment of Native Infantry, eldest son of Rowland M. esq. of Northampton. While out at exercise he complained of a sudden attack in the head, and died in a few minutes, in consequence of a rupture of a blood-vessel in his brain.

Death notice in The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1808

Rowland Mainwaring

I have written elsewhere about Rowland’s career:

Thomas Mainwaring

Thomas Mainwaring was educated at Mr Kelly’s Northampton Academy, with emphasis on writing and accounts. In late 1800 or early 1801, at the age of sixteen, Thomas petitioned to become an East India Company Writer, the organisation’s most junior rank. He arrived in India on 23 August 1801.

A view of Calcutta from Fort William (1807). Aquatint from a set of prints published by Edward Orme. New arrivals sailing to the city first passed Fort William. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
The Writer’s Building Calcutta in about 1860 photographed by Francis Frith. The building was where the writers (clerks) worked in Calcutta). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

At this time, a considerable part of the revenue of the British East India Company derived from its monopoly on salt. In the 1780s salt was its second largest revenue source, and in 1858 10% of its income was still from salt. Many of Thomas Mainwaring’s appointments were in the Company’s Salt and Opium Department.

  • 1804, 15 March Second Assistant to the Superintendent of the Western Salt Chowkies. (Chowkies are stations for collecting customs on all branches of trade)
  • 1805, 20 May Assistant to the Superintendent of Eastern Salt Chowkies
  • 1808, 2 August In Charge of the Office of Superintendent of the Eastern Salt Chowkies
  • 1810, 5 July In Charge of the Office of Superintendent of the Salt Golahs at Sulkea (A golah is a warehouse. Sulkea was opposite Calcutta on the west bank of Hooghly River; Sulkea was originally a place where salt was brought and stored in warehouses. Present day Salkia)
  • 1811, 1 November Sub-Secretary to the Board of Trade, Salt and Opium Department
  • 1814, April Nominated to Endorse Stamp Papers
  • 1815, 11 March Collector of Tipperah (the princely state of Tripura now located in the present-day Indian state of Tripura.)
  • 1815, 21 March Acting Superintendent of the Western Salt Chowkies
  • 1819, 1 March Collector of Juanpore (present day Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh)
  • 1824, 19 March Collector of Inland Customs and Town Duties of Calcutta
  • 1824, 8 July One of the Magistrates of the Town of Calcutta
  • 1831, 15 February Commercial Resident at Cossimbazar
  • 1835, 22 January Acting Salt Agent at Tumlook (present day Tamluk)
  • 1835 He was granted furlough to Mauritius and died on the way there on 6 May.

Deaths: On the 6th of May, on board the ship the Duke of Roburgh, on his way to the Mauritius, where he was proceeding for the benefit of his health, Thomas Mainwaring, Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service

English Chronicle and Whitehall Evening Post of 24 October 1835
Map of Indian places mentioned in the careers of Edward, Thomas and George Mainwaring

George Mainwaring

George Mainwaring was accepted as a Writer in 1807. His petition to join the civil service of the Honourable East India Company was dated 23 December 1806. He was about fifteen years old. He attended Haileybury College from 1807 – 1809. He was appointed to the company in 1810 and arrived in India on 30 July 1810. Some of his early appointments also included the administration of salt:

  • 1815, July 18: Assistant to the Salt Agent at Tumlook.
  • 1815, Oct 27: Officiating Superintendent of Eastern Salt Chowkies.

He became a Civil and Session Judge of Benares and agent to the Lieutenant Governor of Benares. He retired in 1841 and died in England.

Benares, A Brahmin placing a garland on the holiest spot in the sacred city. 1832 Lithograph, by the Anglo-Indian scholar and mint assay master James Prinsep. Image taken from Benares illustrated, in a series of drawings. Calcutta : printed at the Baptist Mission Press, Circular Road, 1830-1834. Image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.
In 1832 George Mainwaring was Officiating Judge of the Provincial Court of Appeal at Benares

Salt agents in Bengal

In Bengal salt was not made by solar evaporation—the usual process—but by boiling concentrated brine, extracted from salt-rich soil by washing with seawater. Bengal salt was known as panga. The Bengal method followed a boiling process because Bengal’s extreme humidity made it difficult to crystallize brine by solar power alone and readily available fuel such as grass and paddy straw made panga production possible there. The brine was boiled for long hours in small earthenware pots at low temperatures producing fine white salt.

The interior of a boiling house in Tamluk, with two malangis (salt labourers) boiling brine with grass or paddy straw. Source: Notes on the Manufacture of Salt in the Tamluk Agency, by H.C. Hamilton, Salt Agent, Dated September 23, 1852, Appendix B, BPP, vol. 26, 1856.

At the end of the 18th century, the East India Company divided the salt-producing areas of Bengal into six agencies run under salt agents — Hijli, Tamluk, the 24-Parganas, Raimangal, Bhulua and Chittagong. In the early 19th century, to make the salt tax more profitable and reduce smuggling, the East India Company established customs checkpoints throughout Bengal and an inland customs line was built across India from 1803 to prevent smuggling of salt from coastal regions in order to avoid the substantial salt tax; it was initially made from dead thorny material.

The agents would contract with the malangis, salt labourers, and pay advances to them as well as supervise the entire process of salt production, the storage of salt in the Company’s warehouses, and its delivery to merchants. Agents were also required to be on the lookout for illegal production and smuggling. A chain of native officers at different stages in the production process enabled a salt agent to manage the entire scope of commercial activities within his region. The salt agents were responsible for producing the authorized annual quota; success or failure in production would determine the Company’s salt revenues. Salt agents were active in production. For example, salt agents advanced money to the malangis, the salt labourers, and occasionally helped the malangis procure fuels in order to prevent delay to production.

Relatives in high places

When looking at the Writers’ petitions for Thomas and George, in both cases I noticed that in presenting the nomination to Henry Strachey the petitioner was a grandson of Lady Strachey. Jane Latham’s widowed mother Jane Latham nee Kelsall (1738 – 1824), had married Henry Strachey in 1770. Henry Strachey was private secretary to Lord Clive from 1764. Jane Strachey nee Kelsall, was first cousin to Margaret, wife of Lord Clive.

From the petition by Thomas Mainwaring to join the East India Company (file viewed through FindMyPast)
From the petition by George Mainwaring to join the East India Company (file viewed through FindMyPast); Henry Strachey was a baronet from 1801 and hence his wife was now Lady Strachey.
Sir Henry Strachey. Image from the University of Michigan which holds many of his papers including correspondence with his wife Jane.

As younger sons of a younger son, Thomas and George Mainwaring did not expect to inherit the estate. A career was necessary and it seems their maternal grandmother’s second husband, Henry Strachey, helped with their introduction to the East India Company.