26 September, 2020

Memsaabs In The Mating Season

A mass of fascinating trivia based on the vivid memoirs penned by many members of the fishing-for-a-husband fleet

Memsaabs In The Mating Season

In the history of the East India Company and the British Raj, they don’t merit even a footnote. Yet it’s worth wondering if the men who ran the Empire would have lasted three centuries on the subcontinent if they hadn’t found mates who shared their spunk and spirit. In The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj, Anne de Courcy tries to do the right thing by the British women who made India their home with fortitude and grace. At the end of it, however, the reader may find themselves agreeing with the oversight, instead of questioning it.

That is not to undermine these young women, first inveigled to India with annual allowances of £300 in the late 17th century, and then—as word spread that there were four eligible English men for each English woman in the subcontinent—forced to pay a premium of £200 for each passage. Anyone daring to make the epic sea journey in search of a home in a strange country is worth more than passing respect. However, by aligning her own lens to their personal perspective as husband-hunters,...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Sumana Mukherjee

Latest Magazine

October 05, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section