ABSTRACT

Anglo-Indian banking was almost coeval with British rule in India. The bank established by the East India Company’s servants in Bombay in the eighteenth century probably had features which borrowed equally from British innovations and Indian customs. 1 Many agency houses dating from the late eighteenth century established their own banks (legally, partnership firms) and almost invariably had Indian banians, shroffs or dubashes attached to them. The first proper joint-stock bank in British India, the Bank of Bengal, had a separate khazanchee’s (treasurer’s) department, with an Indian in charge: the clerks and the cashkeepers were supposed to be, but were not always, recruited by the khazanchee and worked under the dual control of the khazanchee and the (British) secretary and treasurer of the bank. 2 Until the 1850s, the bank accounts were kept in Bengali, and figures were transferred to English account books from these rokars, on separate slips of paper called chits. While the Anglo-Indian banks primarily catered for a European clientele, they also dealt largely with Indian customers, and discounting of the Indian-style bill of exchange, the hundi, or hoondee, was a major source of income for them.