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Title: A study of the business fortunes of William Cotesworth, c. 1668-1726
Author: Ellis, Joyce M.
ISNI:       0000 0000 8077 5797
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1976
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William Cotesworth of Gateshead, c. 1668-1726, was rescued from obscurity during the last war when a collection of his letters and papers were discovered by Professor Edward Hughes. They were later used in the first volume of Hughes' study of North Country Life in the Eighteenth Century (Lond., 1952), which presented Cotesworth as a typical example of the professional, hard-headed 'new men' who were, in Hughes' opinion, seizing both economic and social power from the old-established gentry families of the north-east. However, the recent cataloguing of part of Cotesworth's papers revealed that his voluminous personal and business correspondence could provide material for a study in greater depth, which might offer a unique insight into some of the problems associated with the trade and industry of the Newcastle area during Cotesworth's lifetime. Consequently the object of my research was less to compile a biography than to examine several aspects of the economic life of the area around Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the early eighteenth century, within the framework of the career of one merchant and industrialist. Cotesworth's papers chart his rise through apprenticeship in trade to landed prosperity; from plain Mr. Cotesworth, tallow chandler of Gateshead, to the 'worshipful' William Cotesworth, esquire, of Gateshead Park. It would not be accurate to describe him as a typical Newcastle merchant, for he was not a member of the town's merchant class either by birth or settlement. On the contrary, he was and remained an outsider, conducting his business from the suburb of Gateshead on the south bank of the river, where he was free from both the privileges and restrictions imposed by the ancient Newcastle companies. It is perhaps because he was so untypical that his business fortunes are of particular interest. Cotesworth was a man on the make, coming from outside the established merchant community, and his humble beginnings make it possible to study the opportunities open to a young merchant with ambition but with very few resources other than his own wits. His pursuit of wealth and status involved him at some time or other in most of the major trades and industries of the region: as he admitted with some pride, he 'dealt in Any thing I cd gaine by'. Moreover, his eventual success meant that he was involved in the economic life of the area at a number of levels, from salaried employee or junior partner to independent entrepreneur, ft is this variety of experience, documented by a mass of rich original material, that makes him particularly suitable for a study of this nature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available