The Swedish East India Company SOIC
Trading to China 1731-1812

Original charter of the Swedish East India Company given in 1731

Original charter of the Swedish East India Company given in 1731
Ex: JE Nilsson Collection

The Swedish East India Company Charter of 1731

BY THE END OF the 1720s, King Charles XII of Sweden was dead. The nation was ruined. A large portion of its male population had either fallen on the battlefield or was held as enslaved prisoners in Russia. The era of Sweden as a Great Power had ended, though this reality was not always acknowledged in the minds of the Swedes, or indeed, in those of our neighbors.

However, despite its fame Sweden lacked manpower or financial means to match its reputation.

To put the nation back on its feet there was a general consensus that industrialization was necessary, and capital for the required investments was sought everywhere. The Swedish Minister of Finance, Goertz, took the exotic step of forming a secret agreement with the pirates of Madagascar, trading gold and armed ships for their naturalization as Swedes. However, due to several unfortunate events, including the beheading of Goertz himself, this interesting solution never came to be.

An important source of both capital and knowledge would instead come from the Swedish East India Company. On the 14th of June 1731, a trade monopoly - an octroy - was granted to Niklas Sahlgren, Colin Campbell, and Henric König, a Swedish financier of German descent.

His partners were the Scottish nobleman Colin Campbell and the Gothenburg businessman Niklas Sahlgren. The charter, which granted a monopoly for all trade 'East of Cape of Good Hope,' was valid for a period of 15 years. The charter was printed and announced in several languages.

Below is the text in its entirety. In its own way it serves as an excellent description of what was to follow. The translation, made by Jan-Erik Nilsson in 2023, is appended after each section, is intended as a general guide. The subtitles are also my own to give a better over view about what is regulated. I apologize in advance for any errors, as the original was written in Old Swedish and contains specialized terms that might have meanings not fully understood today.

His Royal Majesty's Open
The Commissioner
A voyage and Trade with East India.

Given in Stockholm in the Council Chamber on the 14th of June Year 1731.

[L, S.]
H, Cederereutz,