Charles Grant (Teàrlach Grannd in Scottish Gaelic) (16 April 1746 ��� 31 October 1823), was a British politician influential in Indian and domestic affairs who, motivated by his evangelical Christianity, championed the causes of social reform and Christian mission, particularly in India. He served as Chairman of the British East India Company, and as a member of parliament (MP), and was an energetic member of the Clapham Sect. The "Clapham Sect" were a group of social activists who spoke out about the moral imperative to end slavery. Henry Thornton founder of the Clapham sect regarded Grant as his closest friend, after Wilberforce, and Grant planned and paid for a house called 'Glenelg' on Henry's estate in Battersea. It was a twin to, and lay near to the house built on the same estate for Wilberforce after his marriage, the location of which is marked by a plaque at No.111 Broomwood Road, west of that section of Battersea Rise now called Clapham Common West Side. Grant later moved to live in Russell Square.
Grant was born at the farmhouse of Aldourie, Inverness-shire, Scotland on the same day his father, Alexander Grant (known as 'The Swordsman'), was fighting for the Jacobites, against the British Crown, at the Culloden. His father was severely wounded but survived, joined a Highland regiment which the government raised for service in America and died at Havana in 1762, of fever he contracted during the siege of Havana. Charles Grant's mother was Margaret MacBean, daughter of Donald Macbean Esq., Tacksman (tenant) of Aldourie in the parish of Dores, descended from the Macbeans of Kinchyle. However, Charles Grant himself was one of the growing number of Scots who prospered in the service of the British Empire. In 1767, Grant travelled to India to take up a military position. Over subsequent years, he rose in the ranks of the British East India Company. Initially, he became superintendent over its trade in Bengal. Then, in 1787, having first acquired a personal fortune through silk manufacturing in Malda, Lord Cornwallis the Governor-General appointed Grant as a member of the East India Company's board of trade. Grant lived a profligate lifestyle as he climbed through the ranks, but after losing two children to smallpox he underwent a religious conversion. Viewing his life, including his efforts in India, from his new evangelical Christian perspective, moulded his career for the rest of his life.
Grant returned to Britain in 1790 and was elected to Parliament in 1802 for Inverness-shire. He served as an MP until failing health forced him to retire in 1818. However, his relationship with the East India Company did not end. In 1804, he joined the Company's Court of Directors, and in 1805, he became its chairman. He died on 31 October 1823, at his home, No.40 Russell Square, London, at the age of 77.
His eldest son, Charles, was born in India and later followed his father into politics, eventually becoming a British peer as Baron Glenelg. His other son, Robert, followed his father into the Indian service and became Governor of Bombay, as well as being a Christian hymn writer.
In 1792, Grant wrote the tract "Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain." It was a Christian propaganda machine devised to raise funds from Christians using untruth. In spite of good advice from his friends in India that Indians will never convert to Christianity as their own spiritual traditions are far superior and we have yet to raise to their standards.Yet, he was bent on spreading lies about India and convert people into Christianity and change opinion.he said'India could be advanced socially and morally by compelling the company to permit Christian missionaries into India, a view diametrically opposed to the long-held position of the East India Company that Christian missionary work in India conflicted with its commercial interests and should be prohibited. In 1797, Grant presented his essay to the company's directors, and then later in 1813, along with the reformer William Wilberforce, successfully to the House of Commons. The Commons ordered its re-printing during the important debates on the renewal of the company's charter.
As Chairman of the Company, Grant used his position to sponsor many chaplains to India, among them Claudius Buchanan and Henry Martyn.
Grant was part of an evangelical Anglican movement of close friends which included such luminaries as the abolitionist Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay, John Venn, Henry Thornton, and John Shore, who lived in close proximity round Clapham Common south west of London. For some years from 1796, Grant himself lived in a large villa called Glenelg in proximity to Wilberforce and Thornton. This 'Clapham sect' welded evangelical theology with the cause of social reform. Both in India and in Britain's Parliament, Grant campaigned for the furtherance of causes of education, social reform, and Christian mission. In 1791, he helped established the Sierra Leone Company, which gave refuge to freed slaves. Also in 1791, as an influential supporter of the abolition of slavery in all its forms, he was elected to the London Abolition Committee. He served as a vice-president of the British and Foreign Bible Society from its establishment in 1804, and also supported the Church Missionary Society and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. As a director of one of the largest businesses of the day, Grant was a remarkably effective social reformer.
- Gregorian Calendar 4 April
- Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. .
- Tomkins, Stephen, The Clapham Sect: How Wilberforce’s circle changed Britain (Oxford: Lion, 2010)
- Blue Plaques Guide - 111 Broomwood Road
- Wikimedia Commons: William Wilberforce - 111 Broomwood Road Battersea London SW11 6JT
- Survey of London: Battersea (Volumes 50 - chapter 17: 'Between the Commons 1'). Editor: Andrew Saint. Historian: Colin Thom. Published by Yale University Press for English Heritage (2013).
- Roger Logan, 'Between the Commons: South Battersea’s Formative Years'. Wandsworth Historical Society, Wandsworth Paper 15, 2007
- The Life of Charles Grant, Sometime Member of Parliament for Inverness-shire and Director of the East India Company. By Henry Morris, Madras Civil Service (retired). London: John Murray, Albermarle Street, W. 1904. (pages 1-3)
- Francis James Grant: 'The Grants of Corrimony', 1895
- 'A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire' by John Burke and J. Bernard Burke. 10th Edition (1848) Page 432 'Glenelg'
- Hindmarsh, Bruce A Long Reach: The Clapham Sect's impact in India—and the world. in 'Christianity Today' Issue 53 1997 
- 'The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
- 'The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year 1825, Volume IX' (London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, rees, Orme, Brown and Green, Paternoster Row, 1825). Page 25.
- Extracts may be found on the William Carey University Feb Website (accessed 18 February 2007)
- Jennings, Judi (1997). The Business of Abolishing the British Slave Trade, 1783–1807. Routledge. pp. 67, 82. ISBN 0714646970.
- "Charles Grant Biography". William Carey University website. Retrieved 16 February 2007.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 353. .
- Embree, Ainslie (1962). Charles Grant and British Rule in India. George Allen & Unwin.
- Charles Grant - A ship that sailed for the East India Company between 1810 and 1833
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Charles Grant
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
John Simon Frederick Fraser
| Member of Parliament for Inverness-shire
1802 – 1818