Sir David Yule


  • Richest of the Rich position: 164
  • Birth/Death: 1858-1928
  • Origin of wealth: Industry
  • Wealth: £15m
  • Net National Income: £4.15bn
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.361%
  • In Today’s Money: £4.005 billion

One of India’s wealthiest businessmen at the height of the Raj came from humble Scottish roots. David Yule’s grandfather was a linen and wool draper and Yule was educated at Edinburgh’s Royal High School. After that he spent three years in Oldham, the Lancashire mill town, learning the cotton trade. This was to prove useful when in 1875, he went out to India to work in Calcutta for his two uncles, Andrew and George Yule who were building what was to become a huge conglomerate based in Calcutta. He initially managed one of their subsidiaries, the Bengal Cotton Mills, but rose to become a partner in the parent firm, Andrew Yule & Co in 1887. His uncles retired back to the UK and Yule acquired the shares of one of them and replaced him as resident partner in India.

David Yule acquired a reputation as a shy and reclusive man, who preferred to live in the mill compound than to move to the fashionable areas of Calcutta favoured by other Europeans. It is said that he never took a holiday, and did not pay a visit to Britain for eighteen years after his arrival in India.

The range of the company’s business interests increased dramatically under his direction. He was largely responsible for increasing the firm’s involvement in the jute industry. In 1895, he had formed the Bengal Assam Steamship Company. The success of this venture encouraged him, in 1906, to form Port Shipping Ltd, Calcutta’s largest lighterage company.

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