Clive, Robert, first Baron Clive of Plassey
- H. V. Bowen
Robert Clive, first Baron Clive of Plassey (1725–1774)
Clive, Robert, first Baron Clive of Plassey (1725–1774), army officer in the East India Company and administrator in India, was born on 29 September 1725 at Styche Hall, Moreton Say, near Market Drayton in Shropshire, the eldest of the thirteen children of Richard Clive (c.1693–1771), lawyer and MP, and his wife, Rebecca, daughter of Nathaniel Gaskell of Manchester.
Early years and education, 1725–1743
Although his family had been long established as members of the Shropshire gentry, Clive experienced a somewhat peripatetic childhood and he spent much time away from his parents, who were struggling to cope with a large number of children. Between the ages of three and seven he lived with his aunt and uncle, Elizabeth (d. 1735) and Nathaniel Bayley, of Hope Hall, Eccles, Lancashire. He then attended a series of schools and educational establishments around the country: Dr Eaton's at Bostock, Cheshire; the grammar school at Market Drayton; Merchant Taylors' School, London (1737–9); and finally Mr Sterling's at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire (1739), where he learned bookkeeping procedures. Clive was no more than an average scholar, and contemporary reports suggest that he was a boisterous and at times aggressive child who engaged in a wide range of adventurous pursuits. As early as 1728 Nathaniel Bayley reported that Clive was 'out of measure addicted' to fighting, and in his dealings with his five-year-old nephew he was endeavouring to 'suppress the hero, that I may help forward the more valuable qualities of meekness, benevolence, and patience' (Malcolm, 1.33). Clive's youthful activities and feats of daring in Market Drayton, most notably his climbing of the local church tower, earned him a certain amount of notoriety which in later years gave rise to a number of colourful local myths and legends about his adolescent behaviour. No doubt by nature and temperament unsuited to follow his father into the law, Clive's future career path was marked out for him on 15 December 1742, when, at his father's prompting, he was appointed to serve at Madras as a writer or clerk in the East India Company. Clive left London for India in March 1743 but his voyage, which was an unusually lengthy and hazardous one, lasted for almost fifteen months and was interrupted by an enforced visit to Brazil, during which time he learned the rudiments of the Portuguese language.
By the 1740s the East India Company had established three coastal footholds in India at Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. Each of these presidencies was administered by a governor and council, who supervised the company's ‘servants’ as well as a small number of licensed private merchants. Not yet a territorial power, the company was dedicated almost exclusively to the pursuit of commercial objectives and the procurement of local goods for export. Only a small number of armed men were deployed to defend the company's main fortified settlements against incursions from unfriendly local rulers or other European trading organizations. In particular, Anglo-French rivalries caused problems for those in Madras, and by the time Clive began his first term of company service the political situation on the Coromandel coast was already inflamed to the point that it threatened the stability of the entire region.
Clive arrived in Madras in June 1744, impoverished by debts incurred during the journey and without any connections or acquaintances in the small British settlement of Fort St George. These circumstances made for a miserable existence, and in February 1745 Clive confessed that 'I have not enjoyed one happy day since I left my native country' (Malcolm, 1.145). It was around this time that he attempted to commit suicide, his life being saved by the fact that his pistol twice misfired. Although Clive appears to have believed that fate had marked him out for higher things, such aspirations to greatness were not shared by his colleagues, many of whom found him to be a difficult individual, prone to fits of black depression and melancholy. As several serious disputes and quarrels indicate, he had already developed the capacity to make lifelong enemies, and he distanced himself from all but a few of his immediate circle. Clive's official duties were initially of a secretarial nature, but in 1746 he transferred to the accountant's office, where he acquired a wide range of technical skills while dealing with the company's commercial affairs. He also sought to improve himself and broaden his education in other ways. He made regular use of the well-stocked Fort St George Library, and developed the capacity to think independently and absorb large amounts of factual information.
A rather tedious life of routine industry was rudely interrupted by events which, after the outbreak of war in Europe, saw Madras fall to the French in September 1746. Following the sacking of the city by the forces of Joseph Dupleix, Clive escaped south to Fort St David, where he assisted with defensive duties. He formally entered the company's military service, having been awarded an ensign's commission after catching the eye of the local authorities. Clive soon enhanced further his reputation when, under the command of Major Stringer Lawrence, he helped with the successful defence of Cuddalore against Dupleix's forces in June 1748. Then later the same year, following the arrival of artillery reinforcements from Britain led by Admiral Boscawen, he performed capably and acted bravely during an ill-judged and poorly executed attempt to capture the fortified French settlement of Pondicherry.
These actions, which represented a testing military apprenticeship, earned Clive promotion to lieutenant in the company's forces in March 1749, and helped him to forge a close working relationship with Lawrence. This partnership was strengthened during the Tanjore expeditions of 1749, when British forces were deployed in support of a displaced Maratha prince who offered the company the port of Devakottai in return for assistance with the return of his throne. Two attempts were made to take Devakottai. The first, a small-scale overland expedition in which Clive took part, ended in some disarray; the second, a seaborne operation, was successful, with Clive leading the troops who, not without considerable difficulty and losses, eventually stormed the town's fortifications. Clive, with some luck and considerable bravery, played a pivotal role in the action, prompting Lawrence later to comment that Clive's 'early genius' suggested that he had been 'born a soldier', with 'courage and judgement much beyond what would be expected from his years' (Malcolm, 1.103–4). His reward was to be appointed as Lawrence's quartermaster when Madras was returned to the English company by the French under the terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 1748.
By the end of 1749 Clive had returned to civil employment, although he was fortunate to obtain, through Lawrence's patronage, the lucrative position of commissary for the supply of provisions to the company's troops. The profitable opportunities opened up by the levying of commission on all goods purchased on the army's behalf were considerable, and in a short period of time Clive was able to lay the foundations of his private fortune. His entrepreneurial activities were interrupted, however, in early 1750 by illness and nervous disorders of the type that were to punctuate the remainder of his life. Intense physical pain was coupled with depression which necessitated frequent recourse to medication, and on this occasion Clive undertook a first visit to Bengal, where he recuperated in Calcutta.
By the time Clive returned to Madras the East India Company was once more engaged in hostilities with its French counterpart, both having become embroiled in a struggle for military and political supremacy in southern India after backing local rival claimants for the position of nawab of the Carnatic. As a result, Clive resumed his company military career with the rank of captain in July 1751. His first actions were to accompany convoys and reinforcements from Madras to Trichinopoly, which, although in the hands of the British ally Muhammad Ali, was being threatened by the French-backed Chanda Sahib. The British, whose strategy was being planned by Governor Thomas Saunders of Madras, decided that relief for besieged Trichinopoly could best be effected by a diversionary action. It was agreed that a march on Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic, offered the best opportunity for such an operation. Clive, whose role in the development of the final plan is a matter for debate, volunteered to command the small, inexperienced body of troops allotted to the task.
Clive's force of 800 men left Madras on 26 August and arrived five days later at an undefended, hastily evacuated fort at Arcot. The dilapidated fort was occupied, and Clive began to prepare it for a siege, this work only being interrupted by raids into the surrounding countryside, to where the garrison had fled. Clive's tactics had the desired effect, and Chanda Sahib was soon obliged to send a detachment of troops from Trichinopoly to Arcot. These troops, joined by French soldiers from Pondicherry, occupied the city of Arcot on 23 September, and a blockade of the fort began. The ensuing siege lasted for fifty days until it was lifted on 14 November, by which time the defenders had overcome heavy odds to prevent the enemy from breaching the walls of the fort. That the company's force was able to withstand such a lengthy assault in the face of overwhelming numbers owed much to Clive's leadership and organizational skills, and he proved able to command loyalty from his Indian and British troops alike. The final outcome was determined by stubborn resistance and the approach of a relieving force, as much as by any fighting, but Clive acquired the status of a hero and his actions did much to raise the standing of the British in the region. Building on his success at Arcot, Clive then went on in quick succession to take a number of forts, defeat the enemy at the battle of Arni, twice recapture Conjeeveram, rout a small French force during a night-time engagement at Kaveripak, and lay waste to the town of Dupleix Fatihabad.
These actions, all important but hardly decisive in their own right, were only a prelude to a major expedition mounted to relieve Muhammad Ali, who was still besieged at Trichinopoly. Clive was recalled to Fort St David from his roving campaign to lead the expedition, which was reinforced by troops from Bengal. Because Stringer Lawrence had recently returned from Britain, however, Clive eventually found himself acting as a willing deputy to his mentor. On 16 April 1752 the company's forces began to engage the enemy troops, besieging the fort of Trichinopoly, and by fighting off relieving troops, blockading the besiegers, and capturing key positions to the north of the fort, they finally compelled the enemy to surrender on 13 June. Clive had again not only made several telling tactical contributions to the victory but, more importantly and to greater effect, had always been in the thick of the action. According to contemporary reports, he narrowly escaped death on several occasions. He often appeared to be blessed with good fortune, and this served only to enhance his growing reputation as a bold and successful commander.
Clive remained well to the fore in the operations that followed the Trichinopoly campaign, but his health once more deteriorated quite rapidly and by the end of the year he had decided to return to Britain. Before he did so, however, he married Margaret Maskelyne (1735–1817) [see Clive, Margaret, Lady Clive of Plassey]. His new wife, the seventeen-year-old sister of his close friend Edmund, had recently arrived at Fort St David, and, according to legend, Clive had been captivated by her beauty as displayed in a miniature portrait. The marriage took place at Madras on 18 February 1753. The couple sailed for Britain on 23 March, two days after Clive had arranged for all of his estate in India to be invested in diamonds.
Clive received a warm welcome in London upon his return in October 1753, and he accepted gifts from a grateful East India Company as well as accolades from public figures. His private wealth stood at £40,000, a sum that was substantial enough to support his political and social ambitions, but it began to attract attention and criticism from those who envied his success. Clive was generous towards his friends, but at this stage of his life his spending was never reckless, and outgoings were closely monitored in meticulously kept personal accounts. Family debts were paid, including much of the £8000 mortgage on Styche Hall; allowances were settled on relatives; and property was purchased, before Clive began to seek an entry into parliamentary politics. He was fortunate that a general election was called in April 1754, and he was afforded active support by the influential though unpopular earl of Sandwich, who was patron of Margaret Clive's brother Nevil Maskelyne, the future astronomer royal. Clive stood for one of the two seats for the borough of Mitchell in Cornwall which, under the control of the Sandwich–Scawen interest, had been represented by his cousin Edward between 1741 and 1751. Clive and his fellow Sandwich-sponsored candidate John Stephenson were returned after a hotly contested poll of the fifty or so voters, but their position was threatened immediately when the result was disputed following protests from the candidates standing on the rival government interest.
The Mitchell petition struggle was a complicated, long-drawn-out parliamentary episode which was not resolved until 24 March 1755, when Clive and Stephenson were finally unseated following a vote in the Commons which divided the house along partisan lines. Not only were Clive's immediate political ambitions thwarted by this set-back, but his electioneering had been a considerable drain on his financial resources. Perhaps with this in mind, he had already welcomed several approaches from the company about a possible return to India. With further hostilities likely against France, Clive had been offered the position of second-in-command (with a royal commission) of an expedition to be mounted from Bombay against the French-backed nizam of Hyderabad. The company's offer, made before the vote in the Commons, also included the governorship of Fort St David, a position which, by placing him as deputy to the new governor of Madras, meant that he would in due course become governor of the presidency. These were offers too good to refuse before the age of thirty, and Clive signed his commission at the end of March 1755. A couple of weeks later he and Margaret sailed for India at the end of a short and ultimately unsatisfactory sojourn in Britain.
When Clive arrived at Bombay in October 1755 he found, somewhat to his surprise, that the Hyderabad expedition had been abandoned by the local authorities. Instead, the combined forces assembled under Admiral Watson were deployed against the pirate fortress of Gheria, which surrendered after two days of heavy naval bombardment. Clive and Watson then sailed on to Madras, and Clive formally took up his position as governor of Fort St David on 22 June 1756. He did not have long, however, to enjoy his return to familiar surroundings. In mid-August news arrived that the young nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daula, fearing the growth of European strength in the region, had seized the city of Calcutta, which contained the company's settlement of Fort William. The nawab's success had been followed by the notorious ‘black hole’ incident in which forty or so British prisoners died during the course of a cramped and stifling overnight confinement in a small room.
The British response was to mount a relieving expedition, led by Watson and Clive, which eventually set sail from Madras on 16 October. This combined operation was hampered by disagreements over tactics, and by disputes over prerogative between Clive, still a company soldier, and the regular naval officers serving in Watson's squadron. Clive confided to a friend in early January 1757 that 'I cannot help regretting that I ever undertook this expedition' (Malcolm, 1.156). Nevertheless, Clive's troops, after meeting resistance at Budge-Budge, recaptured Calcutta without a struggle on 2 January 1757, but then had to confront a major assault on the city from a large army led by the nawab. The effectiveness of a boldly conceived night-time counter-operation was undermined by several misjudgements made by Clive, but the action of his forces was robust enough to persuade the nawab to withdraw and open negotiations with the British. Clive, now in a position of some advantage but racked by increasingly characteristic battlefield indecision, hesitated before pressing for acceptance of his terms. Agreement was reached on 9 February 1757, when, by the treaty of Calcutta, the nawab restored to the British the position they had held before the outbreak of hostilities, and he also granted them reparations and important new privileges.
Although arrival of news of the outbreak of the Seven Years' War suggested that Clive would soon return to Madras to meet an anticipated French offensive, continuing fears for the security of Calcutta dictated that he remain in Bengal, not least to try and prevent any alliance from being formed between the nawab and the French. Acknowledging the threat posed by the French forces stationed at Chandernagore, Clive attacked the settlement on 13 March 1757, but the arrival of Watson's ships ten days later made the decisive contribution to victory. The nawab, much alarmed by this turn of events, was in a vulnerable position, and he was also threatened by a conspiracy among followers who were aiming to remove him from power. Now fast emerging as the main power brokers in the region, the British were drawn into the conspiracy when offered the prospect of peace and stability which could be strengthened by their own active sponsorship of an acceptable candidate as nawab. After much political manoeuvring, Clive and the British authorities in Calcutta became involved in negotiations with such a candidate, Mir Jafar [see Bengal, nawabs of], who was a general in the nawab's army. Acting as a go-between in the negotiations, but not trusted by the British, was the Calcutta merchant Amir Chand, who had previously enjoyed a close relationship with the nawab. Amir Chand made heavy financial demands which he wished to have settled during the course of any coup, and he appeared to be taking advantage of his influential position by insisting that these demands were met in any treaty drawn up between the British and Mir Jafar.
These uneasy circumstances formed the background to the infamous episode in which Clive ordered two treaties to be drafted. One fictitious treaty was destined for Amir Chand and contained a clause detailing a large payment to be made to him in the event of any transfer of power, while the authentic treaty placed before Mir Jafar mentioned no such sum of money. If this action was in itself duplicitous and offered considerable ammunition to later generations of Clive's critics, then so too was the forging on the fictitious treaty of the signature of Watson, who was seemingly reluctant to put his own hand to the document.
In whatever moral context these actions may be set, they paved the way for the overthrow of the nawab, which occurred at the battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757. In military terms, the battle was a rather desultory affair with relatively few casualties. Clive, although again courageous, was once more hesitant in the field and did not greatly distinguish himself as a tactician, even though the nawab, surrounded by disloyal officers, was defeated. The aftermath of the battle saw the British triumphant in their new role as king-makers, and Siraj ud-Daula was, as planned, replaced as nawab by Mir Jafar. In July 1757 Clive was able to report to the company's directors that 'this great revolution, so happily brought about, seems complete in every respect' (Malcolm, 1.271).
The transfer to British-backed power in Bengal was accompanied, according to local custom, by lavish gifts or ‘presents’ worth over £1.2 million which were bestowed upon leading British figures by the new nawab, and the company itself was also compensated for the sacking of Calcutta. Clive was generously rewarded by a grateful Mir Jafar and, although his reasons for sanctioning the overthrow of Siraj ud-Daula in the first place cannot be ascribed to the narrow motives of personal financial gain, he certainly took full advantage of circumstances and was able greatly to enrich himself. He received presents worth £234,000 in 1757, and two years later, following the successful defence of Bengal against invasion by the son of the Mughal emperor, Mir Jafar bestowed upon Clive a much solicited jagir, a grant of land revenue worth around £27,000 a year to the recipient. These sums represented substantial personal gains which allowed Clive to invest £30,000 in Golconda diamonds at Madras in 1757, and during the aftermath of Plassey he was also able to negotiate the purchase of £230,000 bills to be drawn on the Dutch East India Company. Such actions later encouraged others to follow Clive's example and seek similar rewards, and they also began to attract considerable attention from those in Britain who were becoming increasingly uneasy about the ill-gotten gains being obtained by rapacious company servants, or ‘nabobs’ as they became known. Indeed, Clive was to spend the rest of his life seeking to preserve both his reputation and his jagir.
It had originally been intended that after the defeat of Siraj ud-Daula Clive would return to Madras, which was once more threatened by the French. In the event, however, he became de facto chairman of a newly appointed governing council in Calcutta before he received news in November of his appointment as governor of the presidency of Bengal. He spent his time in office dispatching troops to beleaguered Madras and attempting to bolster the British position in Bengal, a process which, as he reported, involved 'Bullying and Keeping under the Black fellows' (Clive to Sir George Pocock, 25 Aug 1759, BL OIOC, MS Eur. G 37, box 3). In November 1759 he sanctioned Francis Forde's destruction at Badara of threatening Dutch troops who were advancing as reinforcements towards their settlement at Chinsura.
During 1756–7 Clive had been presented with a set of circumstances in which any British conquest of Bengal was far from inevitable or unavoidable. His actions and decisions nevertheless determined an outcome which not only restored the British position after the initial loss of Calcutta but also saw company power and authority then quite systematically extended and consolidated in Bengal. As part of that process the British, through Clive, had first established political control over the nawab, and one important consequence of this was a great expansion of inland trading activity. Clive had then sought to eliminate the threat posed by the French and Dutch, and this left the British, for the time being, in a position of uncontested supremacy in the region. Neither Clive nor anybody else in the company had sought, in premeditated fashion, such an outcome, but there is no doubt that, as events unfolded before him, he had taken advantage of opportunities to establish considerable economic, political, and strategic advantages for the company. He was certainly aware of the implications of what he was doing, and this suggests that he had developed a clearer vision of the company's long-term future than many of his contemporaries.
Clive also began to take a wider view of British interests in India. He outlined his ideas in a letter to William Pitt in 1759, and suggested that the British government should now take a fuller responsibility for the territories now under the company's control. Declaring that 'so large a sovereignty may possibly be an object too extensive for a mercantile Company', he asked Pitt to consider whether the nation would derive greater long-term advantage from the Indian territories if they were brought under the management of the state (Forrest, 2.175–7).
Clive made significant progress towards his aims during his time as governor of Bengal. At the same time he found himself steadily becoming embroiled in acrimonious disputes not only with some of those in India, such as the regular army officer Eyre Coote, but also with the company's directors, many of whom he felt had been insufficiently swift to acknowledge his success and endorse his elevation to the position of governor. From this time on he retained a low opinion of those directors who were not members of his personal following. In particular, and despite outward displays of friendship, he came to regard the director Laurence Sulivan as a great rival whom in time he was prepared to 'hurt', 'if he attempts to hurt me' (Malcolm, 2.195). It was in these increasingly troubled circumstances that Clive resolved to return to Britain, and he set sail from Bengal with his wife in February 1760.
Clive arrived in Britain in July 1760, in possession of a fortune worth about £300,000 and his jagir income, having been lauded by William Pitt in 1757 as a 'heaven-born general' (Richard Clive to Clive, 6 Dec 1757, BL OIOC, MS Eur. G 37, box 4). Once more he received a hero's welcome and numerous official honours. Even so, he was disappointed in his attempt to secure an English peerage, receiving instead an Irish barony (as Baron Clive of Plassey) in March 1762. Two years later he was made knight of the Bath.
Clive again devoted much of his time to politics, and was obliged in particular to defend himself within the East India Company against the charge that his jagir had been obtained against the company's best interests. Although Clive eventually managed to have his right to the jagir confirmed and then extended for ten years, this deeply contentious issue soon translated itself into a bitter ongoing struggle for control of the company. This saw the votes of Clive's supporters regularly being deployed in ballots and elections against those commanded by his great rival Sulivan. As a result, throughout the 1760s events at East India House, together with a vigorously contested propaganda war fought out in pamphlets and newspaper articles, regularly captured public attention and held the centre of the national political stage.
Clive also sought a return to the House of Commons and, having had the ground prepared for him by his father during his absence in India, he was elected unopposed as MP for Shrewsbury in April 1761. He then built up around him a small group of followers, including his father (MP for Montgomery since 1759) and John Walsh, a close company associate who had been elected MP for Worcester. After initially supporting the duke of Newcastle (who had obtained his barony for him), he threw in his hand with George Grenville, prime minister in 1763–5, in return for assistance with the campaign to secure the jagir.
Clive again took great trouble to look after the well-being of his family and close friends. He did this through a series of generous gifts and settlements, providing a new house for his parents on the Styche estate. Although for a while Clive and his family lived in an enormous house at Condover near Shrewsbury, he also began to acquire a number of substantial new properties which enabled him to consolidate both his political and social position. These included a modest Irish estate, which was renamed Plassey to mark Clive's greatest triumph. Lord Montfort's 7500 acre Shropshire estate was bought for £70,000 in 1761, and the nearby 6000 acre Walcot estate and house were purchased for £92,000 in 1763. A fashionable town house, 45 Berkeley Square in London, was rented from Lord Ancram, and this too was eventually acquired for an outlay of £10,500.
Still afflicted by ill health, Clive spent his time outside politics in a state of semi-retirement, often at Bath, but he and Margaret displayed great enthusiasm for concerts, operas, and plays. In early 1764, however, the arrival of news from India of several serious military set-backs experienced by the company at the hands of Indian forces prompted calls for his reappointment as governor of Bengal and commander-in-chief of the army. With a strong tide of popular support from a majority of the company's stockholders running behind him, Clive took advantage of the situation to assert his supremacy over Sulivan and secure his jagir. Then, accepting the task of restoring the company's fortunes, Clive was charged with both settling external relations with Indian powers and bringing order to confused and corrupt internal affairs. Central to the first aim was the need to regulate private trading activity, a cause of conflict which had drawn the company into war with local rulers, notably Mir Kasim, who, with British support, had replaced Mir Jafar as nawab of Bengal in 1760. The second objective was to be achieved largely, and most controversially in view of Clive's earlier career, through the prohibition of present taking by company servants. To help him overcome any resistance from disaffected company servants in Calcutta, a new five-man select committee was established and empowered to overrule the Bengal council whenever necessary. Clive set sail for India, without his wife and children, on 4 June 1764. He was determined, as he later put it, to cleanse 'an Augean stable' (Forrest, 2.257) which, with an irony that was not lost on many contemporaries, his own earlier activities and example had in large part served to create.
Clive's voyage to India again took longer than usual, and he was much delayed at Rio de Janeiro. By the time he arrived in India, reaching Madras on 10 April 1765 and Bengal on 3 May, the company's hitherto precarious military position had been transformed. This had been achieved largely as a result of the battle of Buxar, fought on 22 October 1764. The company's forces, led by Hector Munro, had secured a decisive victory over the combined armies of Mir Kasim (who the previous year had been overthrown when Mir Jafar had once more been installed as nawab of Bengal by the British), Shuja ud-Daula, the wazir of Oudh, and Shah Alam II, the Mughal emperor. Accordingly, not only did the company find itself firmly in control of Bengal, but it had been presented with the opportunity of a military advance as far as Delhi, the seat of the emperor. With the young Najm ud-Daula (recently installed as nawab of Bengal following the death of Mir Jafar) and the much weakened Shuja ud-Daula now seeking British support to prevent invasion of their territories by marauding Afghan and Maratha forces, there seemed every prospect that the company might extend its influence across much of northern India.
Clive firmly rejected any ambitious expansionist schemes, preferring instead to consolidate the company's economic and political position in Bengal. To this end, the treaty of Allahabad, signed by Clive on 12 August 1765, contained a settlement which, among other things, saw the imperial authority of Shah Alam acknowledged by the British. The company was granted the lucrative office of diwan, or revenue collector, in the Mughal provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa in return for military support and a ‘tribute’ payment of 26 lakhs of rupees a year to the emperor. With the diwani transferred from the nawab to the company, the British gained direct access to the considerable wealth of Bengal, which enabled them to sustain the growth of their armed forces and increase the annual investment in goods for export to Britain. The nawab was almost entirely dependent upon the company even though, for the sake of outward appearances, he retained some independent control over local police and judicial functions. The collection of revenues also remained in Indian hands, but company officials closely monitored the entire operation. This division of governing responsibilities in Bengal established by Clive gave rise to what became known as his ‘dual system’ of government, an administrative scheme of arrangement which survived until it was superseded by reforms engineered by Warren Hastings during the early 1770s. Few contemporaries were in any doubt, however, that Clive's settlement had enabled the company firmly to secure de facto control of Bengal and its adjacent territories.
Clive's success had a profound effect upon the company's status and fortunes in Britain as well as India. Most notably, when news of the acquisition of the diwani was received in London in April 1766, city speculators began to take a close interest in steadily rising East India stock prices. Clive himself played an important part in fuelling this increasingly frenzied activity, which in the long run inflicted considerable damage on the company's financial position. In September 1765 he had made use of his inside knowledge of developments in Bengal to advise friends in Britain to buy company stock, and he ordered his own London attorneys to raise large loans, liquefy his assets, and make substantial purchases on his behalf. These instructions were followed with great zeal, and by the beginning of 1767 Clive owned £75,000 India stock, although the full extent of these stock market transactions was partially concealed from public scrutiny (and later parliamentary examination) by the use of nominee holding accounts. Clive secured a generous profit from enhanced dividend payments and the timely sale at a high price of half of his accumulated stock in the spring of 1767. Thereafter he continued to conceal his East India holdings so that 'the World may not know what sum or sums of money I have in that stock' (Clive to George Clive, 9 Aug 1767, NL Wales, Clive MS 58, p. 21). Once more he demonstrated his avaricious appetite for private gain from company or public service, but he later robustly denied any wrongdoing when his stock market transactions were examined by a House of Commons committee of inquiry. Clive was not unlike many of his contemporaries when he attempted to exploit his official position and increase his personal fortune, but the extent to which he sought to line his own pockets through actions such as these gave substance to rumours about his fabulous wealth that were by now in circulation.
As far as the company's internal affairs were concerned, Clive's second governorship of Bengal was characterized by a programme of rigorous, wide-ranging reforms. This he deemed to be necessary because he had found the company's civil and military affairs to be in a 'state of confusion beyond what I had even Reason to expect' (Clive to Robert Palk, 4 May 1765, BL OIOC, MS Eur. G 37, box 3). He aimed primarily to eliminate among his colleagues 'Rapacity and Luxury; the unreasonable desire of many to acquire in an instant' (Forrest, 2.257), his view being that substantial financial rewards from Indian service should be forthcoming only for those such as himself who had given long, meritorious service to the company. He set the general tone of his administration on 9 May 1765, when, in an action which caused considerable resentment, he insisted that, as previously instructed by the directors, members of the Bengal council sign covenants which prohibited present taking by company servants. This firmness, together with Clive's sustained and at times vindictive attempts to punish those he believed to have been recently involved in extorting presents from the new nawab, caused bitter, long-running feuds with several senior company servants. These included the councillors John Burdett, George Gray, John Johnstone, and Ralph Leycester, who, along with others, were either suspended or obliged to resign from company service. These disaffected individuals all returned to Britain nurturing deep grievances, determined to pursue personal vendettas against Clive. Moreover, in order to fill the gaps created in the council, Clive sought replacements from Madras, and this caused considerable affront to the British community in Calcutta.
Clive's unpopularity increased yet further when, at the behest of the directors, he began to regulate the private trading activity of company employees. In the summer of 1765 reform of the ‘inland’ trade in salt, tobacco, and betel nut was effected through the creation of a monopolistic Society of Trade developed by William Sumner. The aim was to eliminate abuses, and with fixed prices for commodities it was hoped that the local population would no longer suffer from extortion at the hands of unscrupulous private British traders. Duties on the goods traded by the society would be paid to the company, and a fund was to be established from which regular and generous salaries could be paid to senior company officials in an attempt to dissuade them from engaging in trade on their own account. The scheme had some merits from the company's point of view, but it nevertheless served only to cause disaffection among those, especially in the lower ranks, who felt that perquisites were being denied to them without the provision of adequate compensation. At the same time it appeared that Clive and his favourites were profiting from monopoly arrangements, a charge which gained greater substance when the directors, generally uneasy about involvement in the inland trade, ordered the abolition of the Society of Trade in 1766.
As far as the company's military forces were concerned, Clive, who had given detailed thought to the matter when last in Britain, set about reorganizing and redeploying the army in an attempt more effectively to meet a new set of defensive priorities. Serious problems were encountered, however, when Clive tackled the issue of financial retrenchment and the rationalization of the army's pay and allowance structure. In particular, an attempt to reduce field allowances for officers met with stiff opposition from those who already felt that their financial position had been undermined by the restrictions imposed upon private trade. During the early months of 1766 discontent within the company's officer corps translated itself into a campaign of active resistance against the reforms. A leading figure in this campaign was Sir Robert Fletcher, commander of a brigade stationed at Monghyr, who reported to Clive that all of his junior officers were planning to resign their commissions unless the old rate of allowance was reinstated. Having sent for additional officers from Madras, Clive tackled this dangerous situation by travelling to confront the mutineers at Monghyr on 15 May. He appealed directly to the loyalty of the company's European and Indian troops stationed there and, having won them over, reinstated most of the rebellious officers, one exception being Fletcher who was court-martialled and cashiered. Clive's actions, which were brave but also characterized by a brutal efficiency, had the effect of defusing the situation. The officers' mutiny, which had been threatening to spread throughout the army, was contained and then extinguished. Again, however, one important long-term consequence was that a number of embittered enemies returned to Britain, where, like others, they embarked on a vigorous campaign to clear their names and blacken Clive's reputation.
Clive's time as governor was devoted to politics and administration. He spent £11,000 on ‘table’ expenses during his second governorship, but was often ill at ease and withdrawn in social gatherings unless they took the form of concerts, when he enjoyed listening to the works of Handel and Corelli. Indeed, he only ever relaxed and conversed freely in the company of his closest friends such as his private secretary Henry Strachey, his physician Samuel Ingham, and Edmund Maskelyne, or Mun, who was now serving as his aide-de-camp. Consequently, his countenance often seemed dark and brooding, and his appearance was increasingly defined by a heavy brow and gains in weight. Clive paid close attention to his appearance, carefully choosing his clothing and wigs, but although he was often accused of extravagance he does not seem to have indulged in ostentatious displays of his private wealth in Bengal. A contemporary Indian observer offered a general description of Clive during his times in India, and he contrasted the simplicity of his lifestyle with that of senior French figures in India, reporting that Clive 'always wore his regimentals in the field, was always on horseback, and never rode in a palanquin. … He never wore silks but in town' (Malcolm, 3.384). Clive never mastered local languages, but he did become an enthusiastic if not always discriminating collector of daggers, swords, and oriental art. He also took a collector's interest in animals, and he arranged for several different species to be shipped to Britain.
In a hostile political climate Clive could not be seen to be profiting from present taking or private trade. Thus, in order to avoid any further charges of double standards, he gave away large sums of money to his friends, and the substantial bequest of 5 lakhs of rupees made to him in Mir Jafar's will was used to establish a fund to provide financial relief for disabled or impoverished company soldiers. 'With regard to myself', he claimed, 'I have not benefited or added to my fortune one farthing, nor shall I; though I might, by this time have received £500,000' (Clive to Richard Clive, 25 Sept 1765, NL Wales, Clive MS 236, p. 39). Even so, during his second governorship Clive was still able to remit home over £160,000, a sum arising from jagir payment arrears and the final settlement of his Indian affairs.
Clive's private papers and letter-books from this period reveal him to be a man who was engaged in the single-minded pursuit of his domestic and Indian political ambitions. He would not accept criticism or alternative points of view from anyone, and at times this was translated into extreme forms of high-handedness and arrogance. Thus while he always remained deeply affectionate and loyal towards his family and inner circle, he was often withering in his assessment of those whose qualities he deemed to be limited or flawed. He had a vengeful streak within him, and in his correspondence he often rejoiced at the political and personal misfortunes of his enemies. At the same time he displayed all the characteristics of a determined self-publicist, and he took great care to ensure that news of his successes was spread far and wide.
During the summer of 1766 Clive continued actively to settle the company's affairs, but in the autumn he again fell ill, once more exhibiting the symptoms of acute nervous and physical disorder. He admitted to the directors that the combined effects of the climate and hard work had 'destroyed' his constitution and reduced his body and mind to a 'state of imbecility' (Clive to the directors, 6 Dec 1766, BL OIOC, MS Eur. G 37, box 3). Only large doses of opium relieved the agony, but Clive was entirely incapacitated and in much distress for several months before, having made a slight recovery, he left India for the last time, setting sail from Calcutta on 29 January 1767.
Last years and death: Britain, 1767–1774
Clive arrived back in Britain in July 1767 and was once more honoured with many official marks of gratitude. He estimated that his personal fortune now stood at just over £400,000, but public condemnation of his private wealth, as well as criticism of his actions as governor, began ever more to force him onto the defensive. His cause was not helped by the fact that, as a foretaste of things to come, in early 1767 the East India Company had been subjected to the first parliamentary inquiry into its affairs, and this had focused attention on recent developments in Bengal.
Now a man without an official role in public life, Clive did not at once seek to play an active part in Westminster and company politics. Instead, having received George III's encouragement, he hoped to act as a detached, statesmanlike figure who would advise the government and company on East Indian affairs. This was far from easy, however, because the supporters of Laurence Sulivan and others had further fuelled hostility towards him within the higher echelons of the company. Clive in turn made no secret of his contempt for many of the directors, even though he sought to liaise with them over the development of further detailed plans for reform of the company's army. Pursuit of his political ambition was also hampered by the fact that his patron George Grenville was now in opposition. Perhaps more importantly, the return of illness eventually obliged him to seek recovery, first at Bath in late 1767 and then on the continent in 1768.
Even so, an eight-month absence in France did not prevent Clive, through his representatives John Walsh and Henry Strachey, from playing a prominent part in the general election of 1768. A variety of schemes were floated and a large amount of money was spent in an attempt to try and increase the size of his following in the House of Commons. His £30,000 purchase, from Walter Waring, of another Shropshire estate in November 1767 had given Clive complete control over both seats at Bishop's Castle. In March 1768 an estate at Usk and Trellech was bought from Clive Morris for £43,000 in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to establish a parliamentary interest in Monmouthshire. Clive later made several smaller purchases of land totalling £5400 in the Usk area, but then, wishing to concentrate his attention on Shropshire and Montgomery politics, he abandoned his Monmouthshire venture in 1772. Always seeking to drive a hard bargain, he was nevertheless able to make a handsome profit from his brief foray into Monmouthshire when he sold all his property in the county to Lord Beaufort for £57,000. As far as the general election of 1768 was concerned, heavy expenditure was not matched by results and only three members were added to the Clive group in the Commons. Clive himself was returned, in his absence, for Shrewsbury in the face of a stern challenge from John Johnstone's brother William Pulteney.
Clive did not seek to involve himself in parliamentary politics, often declaring that he was now above party or faction. Even so, on 27 February 1769 he took a prominent part in a Commons debate about the renewal of an agreement established with the company in 1767. Steadfastly opposing the policy of the directors and the terms of their agreement with ministers, Clive made a notable speech, during the course of which he outlined his personal view of recent events in India. He also advanced plans for the root-and-branch reform of the company's affairs. His speech was well received but did not influence the new settlement in any way, an outcome which served only to increase his hostility towards many of the company's directors. This hostility had also developed to the point that from 1768, contrary to many claims of a lack of interest in internal company politics, he renewed his efforts to carve out a position of strength for himself and his followers in the general court and court of directors. There was an urgent need to do this because of Laurence Sulivan's continuing influence within the company. At the same time Clive had to counter the increasingly concerted efforts of company factions and those individuals who were seeking to restore their reputations and once more challenge Clive's right to the jagir, the term of which had been extended by a narrow majority of stockholders in September 1767. As a result, Clive devoted considerable time and energy to alliance making within the company, notably with the banker Sir George Colebrooke, and his financial resources were channelled once more into company electioneering on a grand scale.
Election expenditure was not so great, however, that it prevented Clive from spending £25,000 in 1769 on the purchase of the Claremont estate in Surrey from the widow of the duke of Newcastle. Two years later the Oakly Park estate (with its electoral influence at Ludlow) was bought from Lord Powis, and he also purchased the Okehampton estate in Devon. Indeed, Clive's wealth was now such that he sanctioned the demolition of the old, and to his mind uncomfortable, Vanbrugh-designed Palladian mansion at Claremont. In its place was built a rather more simple house designed by Capability Brown and Henry Holland.
The struggle for supremacy within the East India Company during the late 1760s did not produce a decisive outcome, but there was a need to put the company's affairs in order. This became only too apparent during the early summer of 1769, when reports arrived in London of serious military set-backs suffered in the Carnatic at the hands of the forces of Haidar Ali of Mysore. In May this news caused a fall in company stock prices, which had remained buoyant since 1766. At a stroke many of the leading figures within the company were ruined because vote creation activity had resulted in their being caught with stock in their possession which had been bought at a high price with borrowed money the previous autumn. Clive did not get his fingers burnt to any great degree, but he did now reluctantly acknowledge the need to negotiate with Laurence Sulivan in an attempt to secure agreement on ways of addressing the company's serious problems in India. The favoured way forward, much discussed during the summer of 1769, was for the company to dispatch ‘supervisors’ to India in an attempt to secure compliance with the directors' orders. Clive advocated the appointment of a governor-general, but eventually a three-man supervisory commission was established, including Clive's close friend Luke Scrafton and a representative of the Sulivan ‘interest’, Henry Vansittart, the former governor of Bengal, who was hoping to repair his and Sulivan's recently shattered personal finances. The third member of the commission was Francis Forde, who was supposed to exert a mediating influence but was in fact well disposed towards Clive and his followers. The supervisory commission thus offered Clive the opportunity to reassert some degree of direct control over Indian affairs. But any hopes that he might have entertained about this were dashed when the frigate carrying the supervisors to India disappeared after leaving Cape Town at the end of December 1769.
The loss of the supervisors represented a heavy blow to the company in its efforts to put its own affairs in order. The company's difficulties then mounted when, contrary to the expectations raised by Clive's settlement of 1765, its financial position worsened markedly during 1771 and 1772. At the same time news began to arrive in Britain about the devastating effects of the Bengal famine of 1769–70, and this heightened unease about company misrule. Clive, held by some to have been responsible for establishing the economic preconditions for the famine, was now routinely condemned along with other ‘nabobs’ in print and cartoons. Demands were also made for inquiry and reform, and it was against this background that Lord North and his ministers began to address the East Indian problem.
Clive now found himself in a difficult political position, and he became rather isolated as friends and allies either died or were abandoned. Scrafton had been lost in 1769, George Grenville and Richard Clive died in 1770 and 1771 respectively, while old associates from India such as Stringer Lawrence and Robert Orme had long been alienated from him. Clive was gradually forced into retreat by enemies who took advantage of the prevailing public mood and pressed home legal and literary attacks upon him. The pressure increased when the directors, acting on information passed on to them by Clive's enemies, attempted to secure repayment from him of money they believed was owed to the company from the salt duties collected by the Society of Trade in Bengal during 1765 and 1766. In an attempt to set the record straight, Clive, who had been assiduously gathering materials to use in his own defence, considered writing a history of his governorship, but he was warned against this by close friends. He was, however, also being courted by ministers who welcomed his expert advice on Indian affairs, and, following the death of George Grenville, he and his followers began to gravitate towards Lord North, the new prime minister. North, through the former Grenvillite Alexander Wedderburn, made approaches to Clive during the second half of 1771 asking for his views and opinions on company matters.
In early 1772 the company acknowledged the need for reform of its affairs and prepared a parliamentary bill which was designed to improve the administration of British justice in Bengal. When, on 30 March 1772, Laurence Sulivan announced his intention to introduce the bill into the Commons, it became clear that many MPs were not prepared to discuss any measure without a thorough inquiry into the company's affairs and recent history. Clive took advantage of these proceedings to offer a detailed defence of his conduct in Bengal, and his two-hour speech included trenchant criticism of the directors and all of his enemies. He argued that he had followed the correct course of action in 1765 and that it was absurd for him to be held in any way responsible for the Bengal famine of 1769–70. The speech was well received, and Clive's oratorical skills were widely praised, but the critics were not silenced and the house eventually agreed to establish a select committee of inquiry under the chairmanship of John Burgoyne. The terms of reference of the inquiry were such that the committee, which included Clive as one of its thirty-one members, undertook a close examination of the company's history since 1756. The committee proceedings did not take the form of a witch hunt, although Clive and many of his former allies were called as witnesses and subjected to searching interrogation. Because of this, Clive later complained in the Commons that he had been treated like a 'sheep stealer' and the committee had attempted to 'mark him' (Cobbett, Parl. hist., 17, 1772, cols. 852–3), but the published reports in fact offered a reasonably objective view of events and Clive's career. The committee's proceedings dragged on for months, offering Clive the opportunity to present lengthy, if at times selective, accounts of his conduct. While Clive's tone was usually measured and controlled, he did occasionally combine defiance with attempts to claim the moral high ground from his detractors. There was no better example of this than when, recalling the riches offered to him by Mir Jafar in 1757, he made his famous remark, 'Mr Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation!' (Spear, 189).
During the summer and autumn of 1772 the company lurched towards bankruptcy, a development which saw, as a prelude to government reform, a second inquiry into East Indian affairs launched in the form of a secret committee of the House of Commons. Clive received some much needed relief from his personal troubles, being at last installed as knight of the Bath in June, and he was then appointed lord lieutenant of both Shropshire and Montgomery during the autumn. But although he emerged relatively unscathed from the select committee proceedings and reports, politicians and the public continued to express concern about the state of British India. It was against a background of sustained hostility towards the East India Company that during the early months of 1773 Lord North and his ministers began to prepare regulatory legislation.
By May 1773 a tense political atmosphere had developed. Burgoyne chose this moment to act upon the findings of his select committee, and by doing so he mounted an attack upon Clive and other ‘nabobs’. On 10 May he made three motions in the Commons, two of which condemned present taking and the appropriation of money by the authorities in Bengal, and he listed the crimes perpetrated by company servants. Clive's conduct was defended with some success by Wedderburn, but Burgoyne's motions were passed and the house agreed further to consider the committee's reports. This was eventually done on 19 May, when, amid great excitement, Clive spoke for over an hour in his own defence and presented a straightforward account of his career. This action was very necessary because Burgoyne had indicated that he would make a motion declaring that Clive had illegally acquired £234,000 after the battle of Plassey. The proceedings were adjourned, however, until 21 May, when Clive made a further short speech which ended with the dramatic and celebrated plea 'leave me my honour, take away my fortune' (BL, Egerton MS 247, 131–4). Clive then left the house, and a lengthy debate took place on Burgoyne's motion. During the course of this debate it became clear that a majority of MPs were now sympathetic towards Clive, and it was eventually resolved that, although he had indeed received £234,000, he had not abused his powers to do so. Sensing the changing mood in the house, Wedderburn then pressed home Clive's advantage. He made the motion that 'Robert Clive did at the same time render great and meritorious service to this country' (JHC, 34.331), to which members assented almost unanimously during the early hours of the morning.
Such an outcome represented a remarkable triumph for Clive, and it was widely assumed that he had bought his way out of trouble. This was nonsense. Clive's success was based upon his own robust and sustained defence of his conduct, and Wedderburn's techniques of backstairs parliamentary management and alliance building. Indeed, the campaign had been so successful that his reputation was enhanced at the very time that many assumed and eagerly anticipated that he would be humiliated.
Following the high drama of these proceedings, the East India Company was reformed by a series of legislative actions, most notably Lord North's Regulating Act of 1773. Clive did not wholeheartedly endorse these measures, but he took a full part in the debates which shaped their final form. This was not the response of a man broken by recent events, and historians have tended to exaggerate the damaging effects that the parliamentary proceedings had upon him. Well used to hostile criticism, Clive did not withdraw from public life, and he continued to play an active part in East Indian politics. In particular, he spent some considerable time advising members of the recently appointed supreme council of Bengal, especially Philip Francis, on Indian policy. Whatever Clive's intentions, however, the outcome of this intervention was damaging to the company in the long run because Francis, when drawing on Clive's advice in India, directed a sustained campaign of criticism and obstruction against the governor-general, Warren Hastings.
Clive spent much of the winter of 1773–4 in Italy in the company of several companions but not his wife. The purpose of the trip was twofold: to escape harsh weather and to procure works of art for the new house at Claremont, which was now approaching completion at a cost of around £30,000. The summer of 1774 was then spent in Shropshire, where guests were entertained and preparations were made for the forthcoming general election. In early November, however, Clive fell ill, as a common cold steadily worsened. He travelled first to Bath for the waters and then moved on to London. By the time he arrived at Berkeley Square on 20 November he had been in considerable pain for some time, and his old ailments had returned with a vengeance. He resorted to large doses of opium, which brought some respite, but on 22 November, having abandoned a game of cards being played with friends, he was found dead on the floor of an adjoining room.
Mystery long surrounded the circumstances of Clive's death, and both contemporary and historical accounts offer a variety of often lurid versions of his final minutes. Most modern biographers, drawing on contemporary rumour and speculation, have argued that he died by his own hand, having sought escape from acute pain by plunging a penknife into his throat. However, a recent well-documented and convincing counter-claim (Prior, 345–7) suggests that Clive, in great discomfort, took an excessively large dose of opium which led ultimately to a fatal seizure or epileptic fit. The arrangements for his funeral were conducted along normal lines, which does not suggest that the family entertained any great concern about the religious consequences of death by suicide. Clive was buried inside the parish church of St Margaret at Moreton Say on 30 November, and his presence there was marked by a small plaque bearing the words 'Primus in Indis'.
With assets worth over £500,000 at the time of his death, Clive left his family well established as members of the landed élite, and by securing this he had undoubtedly achieved one of his major ambitions. He was survived by his wife, who lived until 1817, and by two sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Edward Clive (1754–1839), later became governor of Madras and earl of Powis.
Clive's career and achievements were matters for great debate during his lifetime, and a process of re-evaluation and revision has continued ever since. Always a figure of great controversy, his reputation has changed as the tides of British imperial fortunes have ebbed and flowed, and as attitudes towards the empire have altered over the last 200 years or so. Adopting often quite different moral perspectives and critical standards, successive generations of biographers from diverse historiographical traditions have seldom been neutral in their attitudes towards him. Their verdicts have ranged from wholehearted praise for the bold man of action through to outraged condemnation of his greed, corruption, and double standards. If these contradictory views reveal anything at all, they demonstrate that he was simultaneously a man of many qualities and shortcomings who was very much a product of his time and the unique situation in which he found himself. These views have also ensured that he has remained prominent in popular consciousness, a position sustained through fictional and cinematic representations of his life. That his thoughts and actions were decisive in shaping the early expansion of British India is beyond any doubt, but so too responses to the events of 1756–9 and 1765–7 served to determine imperial attitudes and policy long after his death. For these reasons Clive was more than simply a soldier and statesman: he was an architect of empire whose influence has cast a lengthy shadow over the history of Britain and India.
- M. Bence-Jones, Clive of India (1974)
- P. Spear, Master of Bengal: Clive and his India (1975)
- J. Malcolm, The life of Robert, Lord Clive, collected from the family papers communicated by the earl of Powis, 3 vols. (1836)
- G. Forrest, The life of Lord Clive, 2 vols. (1918)
- A. M. Davies, Clive of Plassey: a biography (1939)
- T. B. Macaulay, EdinR, 70 (1840), 295–362
- B. Lenman and P. Lawson, ‘Robert Clive, the “black jagir” and British politics’, HJ, 26 (1983), 801–29
- H. V. Bowen, ‘Lord Clive and speculation in East India Company stock, 1766’, HJ, 30 (1987), 905–20
- H. V. Bowen, Revenue and reform: the Indian problem in British politics, 1757–1773 (1991)
- P. J. Marshall, East Indian fortunes: the British in Bengal in the eighteenth century (1976)
- M. Archer, C. Rowell, and R. Skelton, Treasures from India: the Clive collection at Powis Castle (1987)
- HoP, Commons, 1754–90, 2.223–8
- BL OIOC, Clive MSS, MS Eur. G 37
- NL Wales, Clive papers
- D. L. Prior, ‘The career of Robert, first Baron Clive, with special reference to his political and administrative career’, MPhil diss., U. Wales, 1993
- parish register, Moreton Say, Shrops. RRC, 4257/Rg/2 [burial]
- BL OIOC, corresp. and papers, MS Eur. G 37
- BL OIOC, corresp., journals, papers, Home misc. series
- Herefs. RO, letters from various Indian rulers [copies]
- NL Wales, corresp. and papers
- Shrops. RRC, estate papers
- Shrops. RRC, papers
- BL, letters to George Grenville [microfilm]
- BL, letters to Warren Hastings, Add. MS 29131
- BL, corresp. with duke of Newcastle, etc., Add. MSS 32685–32987, passim
- BL, letters to Robert Orme, Add. MS 44061
- BL OIOC, corresp. with John Carnac, MS Eur. F 128
- BL OIOC, Ormathwaite MSS, MS Eur. D 546
- BL OIOC, Sutton Court MSS, MS Eur. F 128
- BL OIOC, corresp. with Henry Strachey, MS Eur. F 128
- BL OIOC, corresp., mostly letters to Harry Verelst, MS Eur. E 231
- BL OIOC, corresp. with Harry Verelst, MS Eur. F 218
- BL OIOC, letters to Harry Verelst, MS Eur. K 016
- BL OIOC, corresp. with John Walsh and J. Fowke, MS Eur. D 546
- TNA: PRO, letters to John Ashby, C109
- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Ames Library of South Asia, letters to Sir George Pocock
- P. Scheemakers, marble statue, 1764, BL OIOC
- J. van Nost and C. G., silver medal, 1766, NPG
- N. Dance, oils, 1770, Powis Castle, Montgomeryshire [see illus.]
- N. Dance, oils, 1772–1774, NPG
- J. E. Thomas, marble bust, 1845, Powis Castle, Montgomeryshire
- J. Tweed, statue, 1912, ‘Clive Steps’, King Charles Street, London
- J. Macardell, mezzotint (after T. Gainsborough), NPG
- oils, NAM
Wealth at Death
over £500,000: will, 1773