Interview with Sir John Crawford Burns [sound recording]

Scope and Content

Oral history interview, given 1984, by Sir John Crawford Burns (b 1903), employed by James Finlay & Company in the management of their Bombay Cotton Mills 1924-40 and 1946-57; President, Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1952; Chairman, Bombay Millowners Association 1956; commenting on the Managing Agency System and on his career in India. [summary available].

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir John Crawford Burns - Employed by James Finlay & Co. Ltd in management of Bombay Cotton Mills of which Finlays were the Managing Agents, 1924-40. War service 1940-46; returned to employment under Finlays in Bombay 1946-47. President of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1952, Chairman of the Bombay Millowners Association 1956, Director of James Finlay & Co. Ltd. 1957-74.

Access Information

Sound recording currently unavailable at SOAS Library due to preservation reasons. Researchers can access a copy of this audio recording at the British Library Listening & Viewing Service. For more details see or contact / 020 7412 7418.



Addendum to Summary of Interview with Sir John Burns - The long pause here results from an erasure of some of Sir John Burns's comments on the ability of shareholders in the managed companies to dismiss the managing agents which he subsequently, wished to correct. Sir John has clarified this point as follows: Finlays had a shareholding in the managed companies of some 75%. Such a shareholding of course enabled them to outvote any motion to dismiss them. Managing Agents could be and often were criticized by the minority shareholders at the Annual General Meeting but that was as far as it could go. The interview reverts to the relationship of the managing agents with the managed companies near the beginning of Side 2 where Sir John again corrects his earlier statement.

Conditions Governing Use

Private study only. For publication or broadcast please refer to Archivist

Copyright held by British Library

Custodial History

Recorded as part of the ’Memories of the British in India’ project by India Office Library & Records [subsequently the Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library]. This recording was previously held at SOAS Library as part of the 'British in India Oral Archive Project' collection [Reference OA2], removed from this collection in August 2014 to reflect the recording’s alternative provenance as part of the ‘Memories of the British in India’ project.

Location of Originals

Original sound recording of interview available at British Library Listening & Viewing Service [Reference: C63/124-126]