C. R. Low, a retired officer, compiled his monumental History fourteen years after the Indian Navy was precipitately disbanded in 1863 in the military reorganisation which followed the 1858 India Act. Much of the East India Company archives in London for the Bombay Marine and Indian Navy had been destroyed in the move from East India House to Whitehall after 1861, and Low had the advantage, as no one since, of the fresh recollections of retired officers.
Low´s work has never been surpassed, nor even approached, as a history of the maritime arm of India´s foreign policy in the first half of the nineteenth century. Though many years out of print, it has remained the basis for academic studies of campaigns and exploration wherever the Bombay Marine operated, in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and Arabian Sea, the Laccadives, Maldives and west coast of India, the Andamans, Java and Burma.
The History of the Indian Navy serves particularly as an important source of information for the history of the British presence in the Gulf. For over two centuries the Bombay Marine effectively was the British presence, acting as police force, mail carrier, explorer, ethnographer, surveyor, and (when necessary) strike force. Sir James Elphinstone paid tribute in the Commons in 1862: ´The officers had an intimate knowledge of the usages and customs of the tribes of the Persian Gulf, and were by that means, and by the semi-diplomatic character which they possessed, enabled to preserve the peace of the country´.
The historical style may now seem dated, but the comprehensiveness of Low´s narrative preserves the freshness of his work over 115 years. This reprint makes available again a basic guide for continuing research in political and administrative archives in London, Bombay and the Gulf into the administration of British operations in the Gulf in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Some references pertaining to the Gulf region