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Elite private school renames Clive of India house

Elite private school renames Clive of India house over military leader’s links to colonialism and Empire

  • Robert Clive was a notoriously wealthy military leader in the 18th Century
  • He attended Merchant Taylor’s School for Boys in Hertfordshire for one year
  • He went on to become a clerk for the East India Company before rising up 

An elite private school has renamed Clive of India house over the military leader’s links to colonialism and Empire.

Robert Clive was a notoriously wealthy military leader in the 18th century and attended Merchant Taylor’s School for Boys in Hertfordshire for one year before being expelled for fighting.

A low-born Clive went on to become a clerk for the East India Company before rising up to a high position within the British military, reported The Telegraph.

The school’s headmaster Simon Everson wrote a letter to its old boys reading: ‘Robert Clive has always been a controversial figure. 

Robert Clive (pictured) was a notoriously wealthy military leader in the 18th century and attended Merchant Taylor’s School for Boys in Hertfordshire for one year before being expelled for fighting

A low-born Clive went on to become a clerk for the East India Company before rising up to a high position within the British military, reported The Telegraph. Pictured, Merchant Taylors' School in London

A low-born Clive went on to become a clerk for the East India Company before rising up to a high position within the British military, reported The Telegraph. Pictured, Merchant Taylors’ School in London

The house will instead be named after former pupil and Surrey cricketer John Rafael (pictured), who was capped playing rugby for England and later died a war hero in 1917

The house will instead be named after former pupil and Surrey cricketer John Rafael (pictured), who was capped playing rugby for England and later died a war hero in 1917

‘His actions in India were the foundations of the empire, but were also questioned by his own contemporaries. From this moment on Clive House will be renamed.’ 

The house will instead be named after former pupil and Surrey cricketer John Raphael, who was capped playing rugby for England and later died a war hero in 1917. 

The school's headmaster Simon Everson

The school’s headmaster Simon Everson

The name will be changed after a consultation with previous and current pupils at the £20,000-a-year school. 

But the decision has been criticised by historians. Professor Robert Tombs, a Cambridge historian, said there was a ‘craven and mindless attitude being taken towards the British Empire by many public institutions’.

And former pupil and ex-Tory MP Lord Robathen said school chiefs should be ‘ashamed’ of themselves for ‘cancelling’ Clive. 

Clive joined the East India Company in 1743 and attempted suicide before going on to defeat Mughal forces – allowing British expansion into Bengal. 

He was accused of plundering the population and causing starvation by mismanagement. His own contemporaries shunned him and at one point he faced corruption charges, which were later dropped.

He reportedly killed himself aged 49. 

Robert Clive was a military leader credited for laying the foundations of the British Empire 

Robert Clive was born in Shropshire in September 1725 and went on to grow into a difficult child.

He spent his school years in several establishments including Merchants’ Taylor School but was never a high academic achiever.

In 1743, when Clive was 18, he was sent to Madras through a job as a clerk with the East India Company.   

Robert Clive spent his school years in several establishments including Merchants' Taylor School but was never a high academic achiever. Pictured, a statue in London

Robert Clive spent his school years in several establishments including Merchants’ Taylor School but was never a high academic achiever. Pictured, a statue in London

At Madras, Clive was moody and quarrelsome; he attempted suicide and once fought a duel. He allegedly educated himself in the governor’s library.

He then established himself as an exponent of guerrilla tactics. He left Madras with his wife Margaret Maskelyne in 1753 and successfully stood for parliament two years later.

He was sent out to India as governor of Fort St. David and was joined by troops aiming to remove the French from the country.

While there he successfully took command of Bengal, where his first government lasted until February 1760. 

Returning to England in February 1760, he was given an Irish peerage as Baron Clive of Plassey in 1762 and was knighted in 1764.

His critics, led by a former friend who was then chairman of the company, tried to cut off the income from his Indian estates.

In November 1774 he committed suicide at his house in London. 

Source: Britannica 

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