The East India Company & Edinburgh. A large and exciting scrap book kept by John Trotter of Bush [1788-1858]



INDIA & EDINBURGH. An 1840s scrap album kept by John Trotter of Bush & Castlelaw, sometime Mint Master of Calcutta and Head of Customs, Salt, Opium & Marine Boards of the Honourable East India Company.


John Trotter of Bush and Castlelaw, D.L., J.P. [1788 – 1858]


A large , folio scrap book, 14 x 10 ins & 3 ins thick. This highly interesting collection of ephemeral material was put together between 1844 and 1848 when Trotter was back in Edinburgh after a very successful career in the Bengal Civil Service of the East India Company. It does also contains manuscript papers etc inserted from his earlier life in India.

The book has 223 pages of newspaper cuttings, notes in Trotter’s bold hand, maps, original letters. Documents, and notices followed by some blanks. No pages have been removed. The front hinge is split along the cords from the text block although the block itself is sound.


Lineage: John Trotter was the eldest son of Robert Trotter of The Bush and Castlelaw 1749, Postmaster General of Scotland, descended from a distinguished Midlothian based family for details of which see Burke’s Landed Gentry of Great Britain, The Kingdom in Scotland, 19th Edn Vol 1 [2001] Trotter of Brin p 1336. John married [1817] Matilda, 4th daughter of Sir Francis Workman Macnaghten, 1st Baronet of Dundarave and sister of Sir William Hay Macnaghten [1793-1841], the British Envoy who was murdered by Akbar Khan in Cabul. John and Matilda, who both died in 1858, had no children and he was succeeded by his brother Archibald, Postmaster General in Bengal.

Career: Trotter’s seniority in the Company’s service dates from 1807 and he became a Senior Merchant in 1820, Naval Storekeeper and Mint Master at Calcutta 1821-2, Secretary at the Customs and marine Boards 1826, Opium Agent at Benares 1833 [his brother held the same post in Behar], Senior Member of the Boards when he retired in 1842. His retirement in Midlothian [at The Bush] and in Edinburgh is illustrated in this book showing a continuing strong interest in India but also in railways, trade, politics, postal service, the law, and agricultural & scientific development.

Scrap Book: Most of the scrap books one comes across from the Victorian era were put together by women of leisure and have a preponderance of sketches, fashion plates, poetry, greetings cards. This is quite different and displays the serious interests of a well connected member of Edinburgh Society with the broad interests in the traditions of the Scottish Enlightenment. The illustrations to this entry will give a taste of the book. Amongst the highlights are three unusual large illustrations of an Entertainment to Lord Ellenborough at Calcutta Town Hall from copies of the Calcutta printed Englishman and Military Chronicle of 1844. There are two hand drawn examples of Trotter coats of arms, one delicately painted in full colour, the other drawn in ink from an example at the Heralds’ Office in London and dated 5th July 1795. There are maps and battle charts from the Sikh Wars including the Battle of Sobraon and Sketch of the Positions of the British and Seikh Armies on the Sutledje [both published by James Wyld. A handsome double page hand drawn and coloured map entitled Sketch map of the Guruckpore District reduced by Geo Osborn 1838 shows an area between the Nepal border and the Gograh or Dewa River. Trotter was very proud of the letter pasted on p 129 showing the Governor of Bengal appointing him Senior Member of the Board of Customs, Salt and Opium. and of the Marine Board. He has written beneath this, In the Obtainment of this Appointment I may be said to have reached the Top of the Tree in regard to ? and Emolument. He notes that the first board had a turnover of 8 million Sterling per annum and the second controlled the Indian Marine. A fascinating letter of Feb 1845 is signed Metcalfe by the former Governor General when he had lost almost all is sight. I am impressed that this postally sent letter was simply addressed John Trotter, Esqre,. The Bush, Scotland. Written by hand on vellum is Trotter’s Commission as a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Edinburgh or Midlothian dated 1848 and signed by the Lord Lieutenant Buccleuch & Queensberry, LL with his red wax seal impression.

A unique personal record like this could be the basis for a biography.     jun3/1