The Blackheath Connection logo gif - 31481 BytesThis file updated 26 November 2005

Notes on a new project:
on merchant history

Preamble: Due to the popularity of genealogy pages (1720-1900) placed on the Internet as part of The Blackheath Connection since March 2000, a new set of appendices is now being re-edited. Reading British history since the time of Henry VIII, and noting the period of English/British colonisation beginning during the reign of Elizabeth I, it sometimes seems as though British historians have under-estimated the role of merchants in their work. Genealogical work on this proposition however was greatly hampered till about 1993, when Robert Brenner published his work, Merchants and Revolution.

Now you can read, finished!!! The Blackheath Connection website from 28 May 2002 presents Volume One of its complete project... The Business of Slavery ... a website book also designed to bring genealogical studies up-to-date from 1530 to the present-day. Click now to... The Blackheath Connection - Volume One - The Business of Slavery (in English history).

Brenner's work, plus the use of genealogical software, now makes it much easier to discuss merchant life from the 1620s to the time of the American Revolution, 1775.
The material below is compiled by Dan Byrnes, who has been researching merchant life in the English-speaking world for many years. He would be very pleased to hear from anyone with a view that any information presented here is inaccurate, as all information presented can be easily corrected in his genealogical databases. (If you find an error, email quickly, please!)
The lists given below are sometimes composed of terse information. This is merely part of an effort to be economical with data on the Internet. It is hoped that these files will be of interest to those interested in either general history, colonial history, or family history.
The information on merchant careers to be given in this series of articles is already compiled, and only needs to be re-edited before it is placed on the Internet. Various of the information on merchant careers given in this series of articles will stress any engagement in forms of the slave trade, since English merchants had entered such business before the establishment of the English East India Company (1600).
The reader will find that some aristocrats will be listed as "merchants", where it has been found that they deliberately invested in business activity, as distinct from promoting trade or colonisation in a political sense only, or in any role as a minister of government. (In this sense, then, Prince Rupert of the Rhine will be viewed as a businessman with views on "the slave trade".) The treatment of "business life" given here begins with English merchants "going on the sea" for various reasons. In fact, no examination has been made here of the earlier English trades in woolen cloth, or other commodities, which have to do with English linkages with Europe via Calais, that is, with France, and/or, with the Hanseatic League. But of course, no one should underestimate the long-term power and influence of London-based merchants engaged in the English cloth trades. For this reason, particular attention has been given in these articles to the family histories of London Lords Mayor and aldermen.

Please note: This list of influential merchants of the English-speaking world is originally footnoted, and will end in being footnoted on the Internet. The list begins about 1550 and will proceed to about 1900. The word "influential" is used here, since sometimes, even a non-wealthy or a bankrupted merchant can be found to have been influential - as distinct from powerful - in his field. These lists were first placed on the Internet in late November, 2000, as on ongoing project.

Form of citation: Strictly chronological arrangement, roughly, in terms of general patterns seen in merchant activities, 1550-1900. Information on a merchant. Brief reference to sources used. Most books consulted will be properly listed in the bibliography given for The Blackheath Connection website. But see below also for a booklist -Ed

Preamble 1: Due to the popularity of genealogy pages 1720-1900 placed on the Internet as part of The Blackheath Connection, a new set of appendices is now being re-edited. Reading British history since the time of Henry VIII, and noting the period of English/British colonisation beginning during the reign of Elizabeth I, it sometimes seems as though British historians have under-estimated the role of merchants in their work. Genealogical work on this proposition however was greatly hampered till about 1993, when Robert Brenner published his work, Merchants and Revolution. It does appear that Brenner inherited the research files of many historians working before him, which speaks of magnanimity amongst British historians. Brenner's work, plus the use of genealogical software, now makes it much easier to discuss merchant life from the 1620s to the time of the American Revolution, 1775. In all this, the role of noted merchants in the cloth trade from 1550, especially those in London, should never be underestimated. The lists given below are sometimes composed of terse information. This is merely part of an effort to be economical with data on the Internet. It is hoped that these files, in development, will be useful to those interested in general history, colonial history, and/or family history.

Preamble 2: These appendices present chains of merchant names gained from a wide variety of books, articles and original documents. The chains stretch from 1620 (and before) in London, Virginia and the Caribbean, to 1835 in Sydney, New Wales in Australia, and to other Australian colonies, as well as areas in India, South East Asia and China. Where appropriate, using a genealogical database, the lists have been enchained genealogically, which presumably could give added weight to any implications cast by linking the names to texts and bibliographic material. In particular, the first-appearing list below has been developed after perusal of Robert Brenner's recent book, Merchants and Revolution: Commercial change, political conflict, and London's overseas traders, 1550-1653. (Cambridge University Press, 1993).

Brenner's research has emphasised commercial linkages between Robert Rich, the second Earl of Warwick, and one of his (formerly unknown) business managers, Maurice Thomson. Those linkages greatly assisted the early development of Virginia (and information on those linkages).

I have anyway tried to follow Brenner's lead in: Dan Byrnes, 'A Bitter Pill: An assessment of the significance of the meeting between Thomas Jefferson and Duncan Campbell of the British Creditors in London, 23 April, 1786'. November, 1994 Unpublished. Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.

Convict transportation to Australia developed a long and odious tradition. Oddly enough, some "convict relics" sent to Australia bear relation to the career of Jonathan Forward, who is listed below; he died aged 80 in 1760, leaving much property to a grandson, Edward Stephenson, including a share of the Iron Gate Wharf, by St. Katherine's Dock.
[See Peter Wilson Coldham, Emigrants in Chains. Phoenix Hill, Far Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire, Allan Sutton, 1992., p. 86].

By 1972, some "convict relics" from St. Katherine's Dock were sent by the British Tourist Authority to be presented to the Lord Mayor of Sydney; a flagstone and a piece of railing. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 March, 1972, p. 7.] The flagstone was "part of the last dry land on which many of our ancestors stood in England until they landed in Australia to begin their sentences as transported convicts". ..."It was at St. Katherine's dockside next to London's Tower Bridge... men waited there between 1827 and 1828, building storehouses and vaults. The piece of railing was from the barring of vaults... from the flagstones of St. Katherine's Dock, hard by the Tower".

Despite the tradition referred to, Australian historians for generations have erred with some information concerning linkages between English expansionism, merchant activity, and names which ought to be mentioned in respect of England's maritime heritage. This mistake has been in mentioning Hakluyt as a commentator on maritime matters, deflecting attention from John Dee (1527-1607 see below). Correcting this error assists us in seeing how an entire tradition developed to the point where "relics" were sent from St. Katherine's Dock in London, to Sydney, Australia.

The English convict contractors (working from 1718) felt their brief was to help provide labour. At times, the literature on convict transportation suggests that the contractors' activities could have been motivated by punitive, personally-held views based on an ideology of the repression of convicted persons. This emphasis, however, can be misleading, so much so, the history of the export of North American tobacco to North America has been distorted. For it is from this early point, during the apogee of merchant Perry's career, that the histories of the Virginia-London tobacco trade and convict transportation have been rendered divergent, instead of convergent.

By tracing the careers of several London-based convict contractors, revised information leads straight to consideration of the severe disruption of London's tobacco trade, a re-export trade, at the outbreak of the American Revolution. This disruption of tobacco shipments has eluded examination by historians, with the result that the history of convict transportation to North America has been further distorted. In particular, information on the career of Duncan Campbell (1726-1803) of London has been distorted.

This history must have been distorted if Bailyn could write, quite wrongly, as he wrote in Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of the British Peripheries in the Eighteenth Century. [Canberra, The Australian Academy of the Humanities, Occasional Paper No. 5, 1988; (p. 19)], that, "I might put [it] this way: I have never found a single reference to a convict in any genealogy or history of an American family, nor, in any other way does a single one of the 50,000 convicts sent to America appear as such in American history." However, according to usually-quoted statistics, about 40,000 English convicts were sent to North America between 1718 and 1775. Irish, about 15,000. Up to 55,000 convicts.

It appears, that what has been left out of the picture, which today can be seen to affect family history studies, has included, maritime history. There are connections between family history, commercial and social history which be not been recognised sufficiently, in "British Imperial history".

A partial bibliography for this series is given below:..

On genealogy proper:

GEC, The Complete Peerage. [English].

M. Athar Ali, The Passing of Empire: the Mughal Case, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 9. 3, 1975.

S. Arasaratnam, Trade and Political Dominion in South India 1750-1790, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1979., p. 25.

Karen Armstrong, A History of God: From Abraham to the Present: the 4000-year quest for God. London, Mandarin Paperback. 1994. [Regarding Islam].

Mujeeb Ashraf, Muslim Attitudes Towards British Rule and Western Culture in India. Delhi. Idarh-I Adabiyat-I-Delhi. 1982.

H. R. Fox Bourne, English Merchants: Memoirs in Illustration of the Progress of British Commerce. London. Chatto and Windus. 1886.

K. N. Chaudhuri, Trade and Civilisation in the Indian Ocean: An Economic History from the Rise of Islam to 1750. CUP. 1989.

P. N. Chopra, B. N. Puri and M. N. Das, A Social, Cultural and Economic History of India. Macmillan India. 1974.

K. G. Davies, The Royal African Company. London. Longmans. 1960 edn. [First pub in 1957].

M. Edwardes, The Battle of Plassey and the conquest of Bengal. London. Batsford. 1963.

H. Furber, Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient, 1600-1800. Minneapolis. Univ of Minnesota Press. c. 1976.

H. Furber, Bombay Presidency in the Mid-Eighteenth Century, Chapter 2, Asia Publishing House. nd?

Bamber Gascoigne, The Great Moghuls. London. Jonathan Cape. 1971. A. Das Gupta, Trade and Politics in 18th Century India, in D. S. Richards, (Ed), Islam and the Trade of Asia, Univ Pennsylvania Press. 1970., pp. 181-214.

Jan Hogendron and Marion Johnson, The Shell Money of the Slave Trade, London. CUP. 1986.

P. M. Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton and Bernard Lewis, (Eds), The Cambridge History of Islam, CUP. 1970. Two Vols., variously.

Bernard Lewis (Ed), The World of Islam: Faith People Culture. London. Thames and Hudson. 1976.

P. J. Marshall, East India Fortunes: The British in Bengal in the 18th Century. 1974.

G. E. Mingay, Georgian London. London. Batsford. 1975.

Ramkrishna Mukherjee, The Rise and Fall of the East India Company: A Sociological Appraisal. Bombay. Popular Prakashan. 1973 edn.

Frank Perlin, Proto-Industrialization and Pre-Colonial South Asia, Past and Present, No. 98, Feb. 1983., pp. 30ff.

George Pratt, (Ed), Papers Relating to the Ships and Voyages of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, 1696-1707. Edinburgh. Scottish Historical Society. 1924.

John Prebble, The Darien Disaster. London. Secker and Warburg. 1988.

Sri Ram Sharma, The Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors. Munshram Man Oharlala Pub. p.l. 1940-1948. (Revised edn).

Richard Sheridan, The British Credit Crisis of 1772 and the American Colonies., in The Journal of Economic History, 20, June 1960., pp. 161-182.

Percival Spear, (Ed), The Oxford History of India (by the late Vincent A. Smith), Third Edition, Delhi. OUP. 1858. (1974 impression).

Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Vols. V, VI. (Copy, Dixson Library, UNE). London. OUP. 1951 Impression.

Barbara Tuchman, The March Of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. London. Abacus. 1985.

Pierre Vilar, A History of Gold and Money, 1450-1920. 1976.

Ian Bruce Watson, Foundation for Empire: English private trade in India, 1659-1760. New Delhi. Vikas Pub. House. 1980.

Ellis Archer Wasson, The House of Commons, 1660-1945: Parliamentary Families and the Political Elite. English Historical Review, July, 1991, pp. 635-651.

Charles Wilson, (pamphlet). Mercantilism, Historical Association, London. 1967 reprint.

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