Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.511722
Title: Glasgow merchants in colonial trade, c.1770-1815
Author: Devine, T. M.
Awarding Body: The University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 1971
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Abstract:
The avowed, aim of the study was to examine various aspects of the Glasgow colonial merchant community at a crucial time in its history. Specifically it was intended to ascertain the number of Glasgow merchants involved in trade to North America and the West Indies between 1770 and 1815 to discover their origins, the degree of mobility among them, the extent of their social and political dominance in the city and the surrounding area and the nature of their trading methods and organisation. A second intention was to investigate their reactions to the American War of Independence and their activities during the period of hostilities. Since the experiences of these merchants during the way has been a subject of some controversy in recent writing on Scottish economic history Part II of the thesis was devoted entirely to a discussion of these problems. The final part concentrated on an examination of the role of the colonial merchant group in domestic industrial and agricultural change. It was concluded that there were about 165 merchants operating in Glasgow's colonial trades during this period. This relatively small number is probably explicable because of the atypically extensive financial resources required to prosecute such commerce successfully. Entry into this established elite was possible though very difficult: between 1770 - 1815 about fifty per cent of the merchants came from outwith the community itself. The fathers of these men were from middling social groups such as lairds, large farmers, lawyers, bankers, clergymen, teachers and merchants in other trades. The open-endedness of the community was preserved by insolvency among established members, by social mobility into the The avowed, aim of the study was to examine various aspects of the Glasgow colonial merchant community at a crucial time in its history. Specifically it was intended to ascertain the number of Glasgow merchants involved in trade to North America and the West Indies between 1770 and 1815, to discover their origins, the degree of mobility among them, the extent of their social and political dominance in the city and the surrounding area and the nature of their trading methods and organisation. A second intention was to investigate their reactions to the American War of Independence and their activities during the period of hostilities. Since the experiences of these merchants during the way has been a subject of some controversy in recent writing on Scottish economic history Part II of the thesis was devoted entirely to a discussion of these problems. The final part concentrated on an examination of the role of the colonial merchant group in domestic industrial and agricultural change. It was concluded that there were about 165 merchants operating in Glasgow's colonial trades during this period. This relatively small number is probably explicable because of the atypically extensive financial resources required to prosecute such commerce successfully. Entry into this established elite was possible though very difficult: between 1770 - 1815 about fifty per cent of the merchants came from outwith the community itself. The fathers of these men were from middling social groups such as lairds, large farmers, lawyers, bankers, clergymen, teachers and merchants in other trades. The open-endedness of the community was preserved by insolvency among established members, by social mobility into the professions and landownership and by the rapid expansion of colonial commerce which stimulated recruitment. Although social and political control of the city was in the hands of the colonial merchant elite at the beginning of our period, by the end it was reduced more to the level of yet another commercial interest in Glasgow. This resulted from the rise of domestic entrepreneurs, the collapse of the tobacco trade and the difficulties of West Indian commerce in the 1800a. Part II cast doubt on traditional interpretation of merchant response to the American war. It was stressed that opinion, though aware of emerging difficulties between colonies and mother country, did not expect rebellion, that debt owed Glasgow by American planters was much greater than is often suggested; that West Indies trade stagnated during the war and that though the community was under great pressure, bankruptcies were few because of profits from tobacco sold at wartime boom prices and because of long experience in handling a speculative commodity. The role of mercantile funds in industry was seen to be important with extensive linkages in a miscellany of units including coal-mining, cotton spinning and iron finishing. In agriculture, the extensive penetration of merchants into landownership was regarded as a fundamental factor In agriculture change in West - Central Scotland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.511722  DOI: Not available
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