Glasgow's tobacco lords : an examination of wealth creators in the eighteenth century
This thesis examines the group known as the `tobacco lords' of Glasgow who made up the inner circle or elite of merchants trading to the American colonies in tobacco during the greater part of the eighteenth century, c. 1700 - 1780. As much work has already been done in the past to explain these merchants' activities and successes in the economic sphere, this thesis focuses instead on the social and ideological history of this group as related to their particular eighteenth-century environment in the city of Glasgow. This examination starts with an attempt to establish the criteria under which the personnel can be justifiably viewed as forming this inner circle; and thus establishes their numbers and origins and examines the process of their growth and expansion as they absorb new members in successive waves, as the importance and size of this elite develops throughout the eighteenth century with the expansion of the tobacco trade. The thesis then examines their business policies and the qualities which arose from this to give them success in their commercial ventures. Next, having established their place in the expanding commercial life of the city, the thesis turns to the less measurable aspects of their influence and examines first their political effects. It establishes the dominant ideological outlook as shown by their activities as leading members of the Town Council. As their wealth increased, giving them an opportunity to consolidate their social position through the acquisition of property in land, their political outlooks and views can be established also to some extent by examining the sides they took in electorial activity at the county level.