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Child, Sir John

Sir John Child, d. 1690, English administrator in India. In 1680 he was appointed the British East India Company's agent at Surat, then the company's main factory (i.e., trading station) in W India. In 1685, Sir John moved the company's seat of government from Surat to Bombay (now Mumbai), and in 1686 he was given authority over all the company's possessions in India. His tyrannical methods alienated many; his defeat by the Mughal emperor led to a demand that he be removed from India, but he died before the issue was settled. Sir John's activities were supported in England by Sir Josiah Child, 1630–99, who was possibly his brother. A merchant and early mercantilist, he made a fortune supplying the navy and from 1681 to 1690 virtually ruled the East India Company, of which he was deputy governor (1684–86, 1688–90) and governor (1681–83, 1686–88). His New Discourse of Trade (final form, 1693) was an early plea for some of the principles of free trade.

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