Charles Alexander Bruce

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Charles Alexander Bruce (11 January 1793 – 23 April 1871)[1][2] was a soldier, explorer and author who is best known for being the father of the tea industry in India.[3][4] Bruce's brother Robert first discovered the indigenous Assamese tea plant in 1823 and told Charles of its existence before his death.[5] In 1824, Bruce fought in the First Anglo-Burmese War, during which he was posted to Sadiya and made commandant of a division of gunboats.[6]

In 1835, Bruce was charged by the British East India Company to start tea plantations, and in 1836 resigned his commission with the gunboat flotilla when he was appointed as the superintendent of the Assam tea plantations.[7] At first, the East India Company tried to plant Chinese tea in Assam, but the Chinese plants cross-pollinated with the indigenous tea plants and the experiment was considered a disaster. In Sadiya, Bruce, acting on his own initiative, planted a nursery that consisted just of indigenous plants. In 1836, he sent a sample of the manufactured tea to the tea committee in Delhi. Lord Auckland approved this and tea experts stated that the tea was "of good quality".[8] By 1837, Bruce had a consignment delivered to the tea committee – the consignment consisted of 46 chests filled with tea from the indigenous plants. Eight chests weighing 350 pounds were sent to be auctioned in London on 10 January 1839.[8]

In 1838, Bruce wrote An Account of the Manufacture of the Black Tea, As Now Practised at Suddeya in Upper Assam, By The Chinamen Sent Thither For That Purpose.[9] In 1871, Bruce received the gold medal from the Royal Society of Arts for cultivation of the indigenous tea plants in Assam.[10] Bruce died aged seventy-eight in Assam, where he was buried in the Christian graveyard at Tezpur.[1]


  1. ^ a b Francis, C. (1902). List of Inscriptions on Tombs Or Monuments in Assam. Secretariat Printing Office. p. 57. 
  2. ^ Church, CNI. "Burial list at Tezpur Christian cemetery". The church of Epiphany. 
  3. ^ Narain, Amarendra; Purendu Kumar; S.N. Singh (2006). Socio-economic and Political Problems of Tea Garden Workers: A Study of Assam. Mittal. p. 28. ISBN 978-8183240987. 
  4. ^ Singh, Bavinder (2001). Role of Women Workers in the Tea Industry of North East India. Classical Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 978-8170543206. 
  5. ^ Rajkumar, Dhriti Kanta (2013). "Raids made out by the Lushai Tribes in the Tea Gardens of Cachar during the Colonial Period: A Study on the Historical Perspective.". Journal of Humanities And Social Science. 4 (9): 43–54. ISSN 2279-0845. 
  6. ^ Barua, Deepali (1994). Urban History of India: A Case Study. South Asia Books. p. 47. ISBN 978-8170995388. 
  7. ^ Kochhar, Rajesh. Natural history in India during 18th and 19th centuries. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali. p. 21. On 11 February 1835, Charles Bruce was appointed in charge of nurseries to be developed in Upper Assam, at Sadiya and other places (Tea Parliamentary Papers 1839 p 40; hereafter TPP). A year later, from January 1836, Bruce was designated Superintendent of Tea Plantations at a salary of Rs 400 p. m. With this appointment, Charles Bruce closed his personal business and resigned the gunboat charge. 
  8. ^ a b Taknet, D.K. (2003). Siddharth Mukherjee, ed. The heritage of Indian tea: the past, the present, and the road ahead. Indian Institute of Marwari Entrepreneurship. p. 21. ISBN 978-8185878010. 
  9. ^ Bruce, Charles Alexander (1838). An Account of the Manufacture of the Black Tea, As Now Practised at Suddeya in Upper Assaam, By The Chinamen Sent Thither For That Purpose. G H Huttmann, Bengal military orphan press. 
  10. ^ Committee, India (1871). Journal of the Royal Society of Arts (Volume 19 ed.). Royal Society of Arts. p. 620. 

External links[edit]

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