In naming our India Pale Ale, Sabut Jung, we have paid tribute to a Shropshire hero. Robert Clive was one of the most influential Salopians. He was involved in key battles that undoubtedly changed the course of history.
The first of these was the battle of Calcutta in February 1757. This inspired a series of victories that led to the decisive win at the Battle of Plassey in June that year. Clive engineered British rule in India, fighting several key battles with the French for control of trade in the sub-continent. This helped cement the economic power that allowed the British Empire to grow, as well as forging the strong connections between India and Britain that still exist today.
In 1746, hostility between English and French empire builders boiled over. Madras was captured by the French, and Clive and several others escaped to Fort George 20 miles away, which remained in British hands. Here he joined the East India Company’s private army and found his role in life: That of soldier, imperial statesman and politician.
Clive quickly began to build a reputation for courage and skill in battle in the wars against the French and their Indian allies. Soon his reputation reached England when he was given command of an expedition to seize Argot, the capital of the Carnatic and hold it, dividing the enemy’s forces.
With a force of just 200 Europeans and 300 native soldiers, backed up with a handful of guns, Clive took the central fort and proceeded to hold it against all the odds.
For 50 days the young captain inspired his men to hold the citadel, until a final, desperate assault spearheaded by elephants (wearing armour!) was driven off and the enemy withdrew.
This exploit won him the name Sabut Jung, or ‘the daring in war’ in India, as well as a European reputation. Back in England, Prime Minister Pitt pronounced the youth of 27 a “heaven-born general”.
He returned home in 1753 a hero, marrying Margaret Maskeylne and living in a fine London house.
Clive also began to make his mark in Shropshire, paying for the rebuilding of Styche Hall and buying the Walcot Estate at Lydbury North.
But India was in his blood and he returned three years later as a Lieutenant Colonel and Deputy Governor of Fort St David.