The Fall of Arbuthnot and Co

The Fall of Arbuthnot and Co

Product ID: 18014

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Author: Rangaswamy Srinivasan
Publisher: East West Books
Year: 2005
Language: English
Pages: 327
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8188661406


Almost one hundred years ago, in October 1906, the citizens of Madras were stunned to learn that one of the most venerable firms in the city, Arbuthnot and Co., had gone out of business. Although Arbuthnot and Co was not identified as a bank by name, it fulfilled all the functions of a bank as far as the public was concerned. Bank failures are not uncommon in countries around the world. What, however, was different about Arbuthnot and co was its awesome size and the cachet carried by its very name. Most important of all was the eminence of the person who headed the firm, Sir George Arbuthnot, who was second only to the governor in the eyes of the public.

Europeans and Indians, the affluent as well as the less well-to-do, had deposited their savings with the firm. Therefore the magnitude of the disaster was staggering. At the center of this maelstrom was the partners of the firm, Mr Macfadyen (who committed suicide when the firm failed) and Sir George Arbuthnot (who was arrested and prosecuted).

The prosecution and defence teams, the judge, jurors and even the witnesses at the trial of Sir George were all Europeans with the sole exception of the prosecution vakil, Mr T Narasimha Iyengar, who played a significant role in the court proceedings. This piqued the curiosity of his grandson, Dr Rangaswamy Srinivasan, who, after painstaking research, has recreated the events that led to the downfall of the firm and its aftermath, in The Fall of Arbuthnot and Co. It is the first full-length book on this spectacular financial catastrophe, which became an important part of the history of Madras and of the British Empire in India. The author’s perceptive insight make the book all the more compelling.




October 1906

November 1906

Summer 1907

The Trial-Prosecution

The Trial-Defence

The Trial-Summing up and Verdict

October 1907