Mendenhalls and the Dutch
In the Gentleman’s Magazine, for 1802, is given list of Priors of several religious houses in the diocese of London. It is stated that the Prior of St. Mary Bethlehem, in the year 1388 and some years subsequent, was John Mildenhall. This appointment happened in the eleventh of Richard II, the successor of Edward III, who had consequently been dead only eleven years.
“It was no sooner known in London that the Dutch had penetrated beyond the Cape of Good Hope, than the English merchants determined, at all hazards to keep pace with their rivals. An Association was formed in 1599, and a fund raised by subscription, the management of which was intrusted to a committee of fifteen persons, while a second application was made, with greater earnestness than before, for the royal sanction upon the company preceedings; but Elizabeth, though well inclined to the measure, was deterred from giving it her countenance in consequence of the treaty then pending between England and Spain. she contented herself, therefore, with referring the memorial to her Privy Council, which made a favorable report; and in the course of the same year, John Mildenhall was sent overland, by the route of Constantinople, on an embassy to the Great Mogul.”
In 1599 the Dutch, who held control of the whole of the East India trade, raised the price of Pepper in this country from 3s to 6s and 8s. The direct result of this action was a combination of London merchants who formed themselves into an association to trade direct with India. Queen Elizabeth encouraged the venture and dispached Sir John Mildenhall as her Ambassador to the Emperor of Delhi to obtain trading facilities and privileges. Thus was laid the first stone of our Indian Empire.