Charles William Boughton went to India at the age of seventeen in 1764, in the employ of the Indian Board in Bengal. Thirteen years later he had risen to become the chief representative in Dacca, a post he retained until 1778 when he returned to England. In this country he continued as a civil servant and then became Member of Parliament for Evesham. Having inherited two baronetcies he was created the same title in his own right in 1791. From 1799 until his death in 1821 he was a Commissioner for Public Accounts at what is now the Public Audit Office.
As well as his official duties, while in India he became a Persian scholar. His original manuscript exercise books from this period are retained by the family; he also built up a considerable library, which has now been dispersed. The library had a number of finely illuminated early Persian works, but the majority of works were obviously manuscripts which must have been new at the time of purchase, books that he would have purchased to read the contents rather than as a collector.
This most unusual dagger has an unusually wide variety of inlaid stones. Carved dark jade inset into lighter jade is occasionally encountered; particularly close similarities can be seen in a crutch handle in the al-Sabah Collection (Keene, Manuel and Kaoukji, Salam: Treasury of the World, London, 2001, no.2.29, p.42). The example, similar to our dagger hilt, has the addition of a pale orange carved stone with the dark jade. What is unusual here though is the wide variety of other stones which are inset, making this dagger very different to those normally encountered. Its purchase certainly shows the same conoisseur's eye at work as in some of the manuscripts which were originally in the same collection.