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Tea drinking was so popular that many people turned a blind eye to the activities of the smuggling gangs. Because it was an illegal trade, it is impossible to know exactly how much tea was smuggled into Britain during the years of high taxation in the eighteenth century.


The East India trading company, founded in the late 16th Century was given exclusive rights to trade with India and the far east by Queen Elizabeth. East India Company ships, known as East Indiamen, were the largest of their time and were described as 'the aristocrats of the navy'.


Commander, Honouable East India Company uull dress coat, crcaa 1818. Tail coat of fine blue wool lined with white silk twill. Large, heavy button back lapel faced with black velvet and embroidered with a twist pattern, outlining the buttonhole. The embroidery is done in satin stitch with metal thread. Each lapel has 10 gilt metal buttons with the coat of arms of the Company. The coat also has a large stand up collar of black velvet embroidered with metal thread.


Source: British Library British East India Company advertisement of curiosities of the day - 1704


March 20, 1602: The Dutch East India Company is founded. The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-indische Compagnie) was founded through the sponsorship of the Dutch government, who granted it a monopoly over trade in the East Indies through a charter that was set to expire after twenty-one years. The company could, through this charter, build forts and conduct military and diplomatic activities in the area, which would help to protect and direct Dutch trade in the East Indies


April 27, British parliament passes the Tea Act in 1773. It gave the British East India Company control over the tea trade. It created protests among the colonists which led to the Boston tea party.