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Title: The life and times of Thomas Speed
Author: Harlow, Jonathan Antony Sturges
ISNI:       0000 0004 2668 8288
Awarding Body: University of the West of England
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis reconstructs the life of Thomas Speed (1623-1703), a Bristol Quaker merchant, constituting the first full-length study of any Bristol Quaker or Bristol merchant in this period. It links his personal experiences with his early conversion to, and later distancing from, Quakerism. The thesis supplies a new reading of the civic history which led up to the establishment of Quakerism in Bristol. The influential work of David Sacks on the role of the Society of Merchant Venturers is contested. The outstanding success of Quakerism in Bristol is for the first time recognised as needing explanation. The explanation is found in a combination of the factors which operated in favour of Quakerism elsewhere but with two special features, not previously identified. One was the erosion of Bristol's parish ministry in the period after the Civil War, largely through the policies pursued by the Corporation. The other was the kinship between a group of radicals who came to the fore under the Republic and then furnished the local leadership which protected the Quaker missionaries and their converts from official and popular hostility. One of these radicals was Thomas Speed, who is here re-instated as a leading figure in the first decade of Bristol Quakerism. His life also illustrates the re-assimilation of Quakers into the wider body of religious dissent which was an important factor in the survival and prosperity of the Bristol Quakers. The thesis also builds a picture of Speed's trading activity over forty years, based on intensive use of the Merchant Venturers' Wharfage records and of Speed's previously neglected Ledger for the 1680s. It finds that his accounts were designed to help him keep track of obligations, not to measure, still less to maximise, profits His business was driven more by family needs and circumstances than by market opportunities. The commercial culture in which he participated was based on the values of honesty and friendship rather than religious ideology or impersonal contract.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Not available Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available