||John Mildenhall is a member of the royalty, nobility or aristocracy in the British Isles.|
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- The Travels of John Mildenhall
- John gained a good deal of experience on merchant ships and became a ships captain in the employ of Richard Staper, a merchant of London. He had traveled as far as Constantinople and the Mesopotamian region by 1598. Late that year he returned to London.
- In Feb 1599, he set sail on an epic, ten year journey to the Far East. He set sail first for Constantinople in the "Hector" and arrived in October.During that winter he heard that an expedition sponsored by Queen Elizabeth to launch a British trading venture with India had failed. John decided to do it himself.
- England wanted to enhance its economic and political power. To do this they had set up the British East India Company to establish trade rights and possible monopolies with the Persians and the old Mogul Emperors of India. Privy Council Papers of 1599-1600 record letters from Queen Elizabeth to Sir John Harte, Alderman Banninge and their fellow adventurers setting off for India. She wished them well and gave a few instructions.They had six ships financed by the Crown.
- Previously in 1583 and in 1591 the British Levant Company had sent expeditions to India and had failed. The 1599 expedition likewise failed,not even succeeding in getting around the Cape of Good Hope.
- Meanwhile John was at Constantinople and decided to travel the overland route to reach the Mogul Emperor Akbar. He organized a large caravan of 600 persons.
- John spent some time in Persia and bought and sold in order to augment his funds. He finally arrived in Lahore, India in 1603. His plan was to claim to be the Queen's personal ambassador in order to arrange trade concessions. He could then greatly profit by offering these trading privileges to the English Crown. He spent three years in Agra. He saw the Mogul and presented him 29 Persian horses and jewels and was very convincing as an ambassador. He requested trade facilities like the Portuguese had and non-interference in the war the British were fighting then with the Portuguese. The Mogul refused. There were Portuguese Jesuits there who opposed the Englishman. The Mogul offered some money and some trading privileges but John refused, deciding to wait him out.
- While waiting he learned the language and in six months got all he requested from the Emperor. He even promised to have Queen Elizabeth's ambassador come to live there as a hostage for the peaceable behavior of his countrymen. They signed papers and then also signed papers with Akbar's son, Emperor Jahangir, who ruled in Eastern India at that time.
- This accomplished, John started on his way back to England in Oct 1606.He stopped over again in Persia and sent a letter to the East India Company. In it he declared what privileges he had obtained. He offered his documents and services in exchange for Â£1500 and a high position in the East India Company. The company deferred its decision saying John's demands were unreasonable, particularly his demand for a high position. By 27 Jul 1609 he was back in England and appealed to King James directly. He said he had just completed ten years of travel and had discovered great trade in the dominions of the Great Mogul. He even asked if he could conduct the trade privileges himself. Finally the Company gave in and appointed him as a factor and paid him a substantial sum.
- Within two years the English began establishing trading stations on the east coast of India. From there the company grew to dominate the Far Eastern trade and eventually the British Empire itself developed from that.
- John remained at odds with the East India Company and couldn't wait to get out of London again. He sailed with a shipment from Staper and other London merchants. He went to Constantinople and this time tried to sail on farther, through the Black Sea. But the Turks attacked him there and pursued him for many miles. Finally they captured him and accused him of being a Persian spy because he spoke their language. He was saved by the nearest English ambassador and continued on his journey. This was only the second journey by an Englishman through the Black Sea. He arrived in Apr 1614 at Ajimer where the Indian Royal Court was located. But he became illa nd died within two months. Before he died he sent a letter back to London.It read, "English cloth will not sell; it is only bought by great men to cover their elephants and make saddles for their horses; for garments they use no such thing in these parts, neither in rain nor in cold."
- John had married a Persian woman and kept her in Persia. In addition to the children of his first wife he had two children by his Persian wife.When he died he left his estate to the children of his Persian wife. He was buried in Agra, India in the Catholic Cemetery. It is the oldest known gravestone of a Mildenhall/Mendenhall and is the oldest English monument in India. He was the only Englishman to visit both of the royal courts of the Emperors Akbar and Jahangir.
The family name is Mildenhall. The Mendenhall version of the name came to be when the great, great grand sons of this John; John and Benjamin emigrated to America in the 1680's and started using the surname Mendenhall.
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