Who was Jagat Seth? India’s Richest Banker With Assets Worth $1 Trillion

India, today’s developing country, was once one of the world’s wealthiest and most important centers of business and trade. We come across merchants, dealers, bankers, businessmen, and women who made significant contributions to the country’s rich history as we explore deeper into it.

Prior to British domination, India was a center of wealth and home to some of history’s wealthiest people. Jagat Seth of West Bengal’s Murshidabad district is one such name. According to a TOI article, he was a trader and banker in the 18th century with a net worth of Rs 8.3 lakhs and assets worth $1 trillion in today’s currency.

In 1723, Muhammad Shah, the Mughal emperor, bestowed the title of Jagat Seth to Fateh Chand. After then, Fateh Chand’s entire family became known as the Jagat Seth Family. Jagat Seth, known as the “Banker of the World,” was a tremendously successful banker in Bengal during the first half of the 18th century.

Manik Chand, who arrived in Dhaka from Patna in the early 1700s to start a business, is the ancestor of the Jagat Sheth dynasty. Manik Chand moved to Murshidabad after the Bengal government moved there. In Murshidabad, he gained the Nawab’s favor and climbed to the position of banker and financial advisor. In 1712 in Delhi, Emperor Farruk Siyar bestowed the title “Nagar Sheth” on him.

Jagat Seth family (Source: Scoopwhoop)


Fateh Chand, Manik Chand’s adoptive son and nephew, took over the family business after his father died in 1714. When Fateh Chand was in charge of the Jagat Seth family, it prospered greatly. Because of their clout, even the East India Company conducted business with them, including loans and the purchase and sale of precious metals.

According to British historian Robert Orme, the head of this Hindu merchant family, which was the richest in the Mughal empire, had a great influence on the Murshidabad government, and they financially assisted the Mughals and later the Britishers.

In terms of prominence, the Jagat Seth family’s enterprise was compared to the Bank of England. They assisted the Bengali government with a range of tasks, including tax collection and financial administration. They even made their own money and dealt in foreign cash, which boosted their fortunes.

According to a TOI article, the Jagat Seth family’s riches was greater than the British Empire’s in the 1720s. They possessed property worth at least $1 trillion today. According to British newspapers, they allegedly possessed more cash than all of England’s banks combined.

Manikchand Sahu, Hiranand’s son, and Murshid Quli Khan, the first Nawab of Bengal, were friends. Almost every large city in pre-independence India had a Sahus, or Seth, office at the time. Their offices were very similar to those of a modern bank. They even devised an internal communication system that featured messengers and other technologies to facilitate trade between cities. They also profited greatly from assisting the British, French, and Portuguese colonial powers in their conflicts against minor Indian kingdoms.

In 1744, Mahtab Chand succeeded his grandfather Fateh Chand. During Alivardi Khan’s reign, Mahtab Chand and his relative Maharaja Swarup Chand wielded enormous influence. When Sirajuddaula took over, however, everything changed, and they eventually joined up with the English to plot against him. Following the Battle of Plassey, Mir Jafar became the new Nawab. According to India Times, in 1763, he plotted the murder of several members of the family, including Jagat Seth, Mehtab Chand, and his cousin Swarup Chand, and tossed their bodies from the Munger Fort ramparts.

The house of Jagat Seth


They lost possession of the vast majority of their estates, and the British East India Company was never paid back. The rebellion of 1857 was the final straw for them. By the 1900s, the Jagat Seths had vanished from public view.

Their descendants, like those of the Mughals, remain unknown. Jagat Seth’s residence, located near Hazarduari, has since been converted into a museum in Murshidabad.

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