University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number 2008.9.305
Object Name Cup, Coffee
Description This cup is from a service made for Charles Grant (1746-1823), a director of the British East India Company, member of Parliament, and philanthropist.

Born in Scotland, Grant's early life was colored by the defeat of Scottish forces during the Jacobite rebellion in 1746. Charles was named after Charles Edward Stuart, the Catholic claimant to the throne of Great Britain, and according to family legend, during his christening swords were clashed over his cradle to dedicate his life to the Jacobite cause. However, shortly after his birth his father was wounded at the Battle of Cullodon and his family estates were destroyed, leaving the family in reduced circumstances.

Like many Scots, Charles turned to trade as a way of rebuilding his family fortunes. He became a merchant, and traveled to India in 1767. He spent more than twenty years in India, and it became the focus of the rest of his career and of his personal life. He prospered, and eventually returned to Britain in 1790 a rich man. He became director of the British East India Company in 1794, and was a champion of the East India Company's monopoly on trade with India in the face of increased pressure from independent merchants.

Grant was a passionate evangelical Christian, especially following the death of his two daughters from smallpox, which he saw as divine retribution for his sins. He was an ardent supporter of Christian missions in India, and unlike many of the British in India, actively sought to improve the lot of the Indian population. Upon his return to Britain he was active in the Scottish Society for the Promotion of Christianity, opposed the slave trade, and worked for the Christianization of India.

In 1773 Grant married Jane Fraser (1755-1827). They had seven children, five of whom survived into adulthood. They lived in India, Scotland and London. Grant died in 1823. In recognition of his thirty years of service, the East India Company paid for a monument to him in St. George's Church, Bloomsbury.
Year Range from 1773
Year Range to 1777
Material Hard Paste Porcelain
Place of Origin Made in Jingdezhen, Decorated in Guangzhou (Canton), China
Collection The Reeves Center
Collector David Sanctuary Howard Collection of Armorial Porcelain Coffee Cups
On View Reeves Center, Chinese Armorial Gallery