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British Industrial History

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James Cosmo Melvill

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Sir James Cosmo Melvill (1792–1861), director of the East Indian Railway, was a British administrator who served as the last secretary of the East India Company.

1792 Born at Guernsey, he was the third son of Philip Melvill (1762-1811), later lieutenant-governor of Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, by his wife, Elizabeth Carey (died 1844), youngest daughter of Peter Dobree of Beauregarde, Guernsey; Henry Melvill was his elder brother.

1808 February. He entered the East India Company

Melvill rose rapidly to the top permanent position at East India House. In 1824 he was appointed auditor of Indian accounts. While in this position he gave evidence in 1830 before a parliamentary committee, defending the company's conduct of its China trade from an attack by William Huskisson; and again in 1832 before another committee on Indian affairs in regard to the accounts of the company.

In 1834 he became financial secretary, and in 1836 chief secretary, a post which he held until the termination of the company's existence as a governing body in 1858.

After his retirement from the service of the company Melvill was appointed government director of Indian railways. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 14 January 1841, and was created K.C.B. on 5 September 1853.

1861 July 23rd. Died at Tandridge Court, near Godstone, Surrey

In March 1815 Melvill married Hester Jean Frances (died 10 April 1864), youngest daughter of William Marmaduke Sellon of Harlesden in Middlesex. They had a large family


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