Formed circa 1773, the Society of East India Commanders represented the interests of the commanders of the ships to the East India Trading Company. Members first met at the Queen Arms Tavern in St Paul's Churchyard; in 1775 they met at the Antwerp Tavern and from 1780 at the Jerusalem Coffee House.
Robert Williams (d. 1812) was a commander in the East India Company. As recorded by the inscription on the present lot he was elected to the board of Directors in 1809. His accounts of the waters of the East Indies as commander of The Thames were published in J. Huddart, J-B-D d'Après de Mannevillette, The Oriental Navigator, or, New Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, London, 1801. He married in 1810 but died suddenly in 1812.