William Finch (merchant)

English merchant

William Finch (died 1613) was an English merchant in the service of the East India Company (EIC). He travelled to India along with Captain Hawkins during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jehangir. The two of them attended on the emperor at the Mughal court and established trade relations between England and India. Finch subsequently explored various cities in India and left a valuable account of them in his journal, which was subsequently published.


  • Here [at Ayodhya] are also the ruins of Ranichand[s] castle and houses, which the Indians acknowledge for the great God, saying that he took flesh upon him to see the tamasha of the world.
  • But with the passing of time, a peasant became a tribal and from tribal a beast. William Finch, writing at Agra about 1610 C.E., describes how Jahangir and his nobles treated them - during Shikar. A favourite form of sport in Mughal India was the Kamargha, which consisted in enclosing a tract of country by a line of guards, and then gradually contracting the enclosure until a large quantity of game was encircled in a space of convenient size. “Whatever is taken in this enclosure” (Kamargha or human circle), writes Finch, “is called the king’s shikar or game, whether men or beasts… The beasts taken, if man’s meat, are sold… if men they remain the King’s slaves, which he sends yearly to Kabul to barter for horses and dogs: these being poor, miserable, thievish people, that live in woods and deserts, little differing from beasts.”
    • Finch, William, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • William Finch writing at Agra in about 1610 says that “in hunting the men of the jungle were on the same footing as the beasts” and whatever was taken in the game was the king’s shikar (or game), whether men or beasts.
    • William Finch in Foster, Early Travels in India; quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • “To Oude (Ajodhya) from thence are 50 c.: a citie of ancient note, and of a Potan king, now much ruined, the castle built foure hundred yeeres agoe. Heere are also the ruines of Ramchand(s) castle and houses, which the Indians acknowled(g)e for the great God, saying that he tooke flesh upon him to see the tamasha of the world. In these ruines remayne certain Bramenes, who record the names of all such Indians as wash themselves in the river running thereby: which custome, they say, hath continued foure lackes of yeeres (which is three hundred ninetie foure thousand and five hundred yeeres before the world’s creation). Some two miles on the further side of the river is a cave of his with a narrow entrance, but so spacious and full of turnings within that a man may well loose himselfe there, if he take not better heed, where it is thought his ashes were buried. Hither resort many from all parts of India, which carry from hence in remembrance certaine grains of rice as blacke as gun-powder, which they say have beene reserved ever since. Out of the ruines of this castle is yet much gold tryed. Here is great trade, and such abundance of Indian asse-horne that they make hereof bucklers and divers sorts of drinking cups. There are of these hornes, all the Indians affirime, some rare of great price, no jewell comparable, some esteeming them the right unicorns horne.”
    • quoted in Kishore, Kunal (2016). Ayodhyā revisited. ch 11
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