FITCH, Ralph. 1550? — 1611. English Merchant and Traveller in India. In February 1583 left London with other merchants (i.a. John Newberry) of the Levant Company. Travelled through Tripolis, Aleppo (May), Baghdad and Basra to Ormuz (September), where all were imprisoned by the Portuguese and sent to Goa. In the end of December they were freed through intervention of Stevens and Linschoten. In April RF escaped Goa together with Newberry and Leedes (the fourth member of the group accepted catholism and remained there). They travelled through Bijapur and Golconda to Agra, where they met Akbar in September 1585. Here Newberry left on his own to Europe, but was lost, probably killed in the Pañjāb, and Leedes accepted service under Akbar. RF went on river-boat to Prayāg, Benares and Patna, then by land to Kuch Behar, Hugli, Chittagong and Serampore, and in November 1586 to Pegu (Burma). After visiting the Shan state sailed on January 1588 from Pegu to Malacca and, after returning to Pegu, on February 1589 to Cochin, where he was retained 8 months. In November to Goa, probably in disguise, then through Chaul, Ormuz, Basra and Mosul to Aleppo, where he remained several months. Sailed from Tripoli and arrived on 29.4.1591 in London. Carried on trade all the time during his travels. In 1600 he participated in founding the E.I.C. and in 1606 was consulted as an expert of Eastern trade, but then was no more heard of
Publications: his journey was published by Hakluyt; J. Horton Ryley (ed.), Ralph Fitch, England’s pioneer to India and Burma; his companions and contemporaries, with his remarkable narrative told in his own words. L. 1899.
Sources: *Ap. Chattopadhyaya, “The Account of R.F. – A Study”, JOIB 40:1-2, 1990, 89-98; C. H. C[oote] in D.N.B. 19, 1889, 77-79; *M. Edwardes, Ralph Fitch – Elizabethan In The Indies. L. 1972; *Oaten 1909; Wikipedia.
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