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this he consented, and having brought twelve or fourteen shipwrights with him, selected the present spot for the dock yard, and thus laid the foundation of that establishment, which now is considered the finest naval arsenal in India, and that period may be considered an era in the history of Bombay, as the prosperity of the island began rapidly to increase, and in little more than a century the place, formerly an insignificant and small island, now ranks amongst the cities of Hindoostan, and promises to become one of the best in India.
Lowjee afterwards brought up his two sons Manockjee and Bomanjee to his own profession, who each had a family of four sons, some of whom were also brought up as shipwrights, but Jamsetjee, the son of the latter, built the largest and the first ship for the British navy, the “ Minden," of seventy-four guns, and afterwards six other ships of the line. He was well known as a naval architect to all naval commanders, and men that went to India; and his own as well as his predecessor's services have frequently called forth the testimony of the Honourable East India Company and the Boards of Admiralty, from whom he had from time to time received numerous marks of approbation.
The present master builder has also built
several ships for the navy, namely, the Asia, Bombay, and Calcutta, all of eighty-four guns, and which are acknowledged to be the finest and strongest two-deckers in the world.
There have been in the whole ten ships of the line, several frigates and smaller vessels; and numerous other vessels for the Hon. Company and the merchants of India have been built at Bombay, besides the defects of Indian squadrons under several eminent admirals have been repaired, and in fact the dock yard may be the just boast of the Honourable Company, for the advantages and prosperity it has afforded to the commerce of Bombay. Several members of the Lowjee Family have distinguished themselves in other points, Hormasjee Bomanjee was well known in India and England for his commercial enterprise ; and the extensive trade he carried on, in conjunction with the celebrated house of Forbes and Co. (the oldest in Bombay), tended much to benefit Bombay by paving the way for others. Pestonjee Bomanjee was also a partner in the well known firm of Bruce, Fawcett, and Co., now Remington and Co.
Nasserwanjee Manockjee, also a member of the same family, encouraged French com. merce, and his son, Jehangeer Nasserwanjee carries on the same business. Almost all French
ships that come to Bombay are consigned to him, as also French ships of war, and the creditable and regular manner in which he conducts the business, has excited the approbation of his Majesty, the King of the French, who sent him a very handsome present of a gold medal, and deputed the celebrated Marshal Soult to write to him and to say that it was a special mark of the King's favour. In addition to this, he has the American ships consigned to him, so that it may not be presumptuous to state that our family has been very instrumental in promoting the commerce and the prosperity of Bombay.
We ourselves are the fifth generation from Lowjee that continue to serve the Honourable East India Company, with fidelity and attachment, through a period of one hundred and six years as ship builders. But we heard much of the progress making by that giant Steam ; we found that it was becoming more extensively applied to marine purposes; that instead of its being only used for inland navigation and short distance, vessels were sent to Bombay to keep up the communication between India and England; we were informed that vessels of immense tonnage were designed to cross the Atlantic, and that steamers were applied to purposes of war; that, indeed, there appeared to be no bounds to the mighty strides that it was
taking from the applicability of steam as a propelling power to ships of all sizes.
The Head Builder was, therefore, advised by many of his friends that though as constructors and builders of ships, himself and his ancestors were highly complimented for their skill and ability, yet a new era had arrived when the attention of scientific men must be turned to that form of a body, which was to be rapidly propelled through water by wheels, instead of by the power of wind and canvass, and that he should, therefore, send two or three young men to England, where steam vessels of all descriptions were being designed, --- from a small river boat to those magnificent passage vessels employed in crossing the Atlantic, and those still more noble fabrics constructed in the several royal yards for the conveyance of mails, and also those destined for
men of war.”
Among the friends that thus advised him the foremost was John Seppings, Esq., surveyor of shipping to the Honourable East India Company at Calcutta, who had come to Bombay in February, 1838, to return to England by the overland route, he strongly urged the necessity of taking such a step in order that Bombay dock yard should keep pace with the improvements of the day, and being an eminent naval architect himself gave the head builder the assurance
of our having every opportunity of perfecting ourselves in that branch of naval architecture in England.
Having been encouraged by Mr. Seppings, and hearing the same thing from the then worthy superintendent, Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, he at once applied to the government for sending two of us to this country. Government approved of the measure, and very kindly promised to recommend us to the notice of the Honourable Court of Directors of the East India Company.
To these two sincere advisers of our Father and Uncle we owe every thing, they were actuated by the best of motives, and a disinterested anxiety for our welfare, which we shall never forget. It was through Sir Charles Malcolm and Mr. Seppings that we have had the good fortune of coming to England, and we here beg to convey to them our best thanks and grateful feelings for it, as well as for the kindness and attention we subsequently received from them in England.
With the specific object, therefore, of acquiring a correct knowledge of the construction of steam vessels and ships, we left our relatives and friends at Bombay, and embarked on the 29th of March, 1838, on board the Buckinghamshire, with our friend and preceptor, Dorabjee Muncherjee, and two servants of our own caste. We