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Title: Private enterprise and the China trade : British interlopers and their informal networks in Europe, c.1720-1750
Author: Von Brescius, Meike
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 4480
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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Access to China and its wealth of manufactured goods was long sought by the European ‘monopoly Companies’, yet a direct and regular trade between Europe and the South China coast was only established around the turn of the eighteenth century. By focusing on the private trade and interloping activities of British-born China traders, this thesis shows how this branch of commerce took root and expanded within a transnational European trading arena between c.1720 to 1750. Interlopers, or free agents, I argue, played a highly integrative role for the development of European markets for Chinese goods and the networks of supply and capital that underpinned the trade. British-born Canton traders, who were operating in the smaller interloping East India Companies established close connections between Britain and the continent and between the different ‘national’ East India Companies. Private trade records, merchant letters, and East India Company materials form the large source base of this study and are used to analyse the ways in which cross-border mobility encouraged the transfer of expertise, capital, and information between different East India ventures. Methodologically, this work draws on, and builds upon the extensive scholarship on networks and the transnational. It is not biographical, yet follows a number of key individuals and their largely overlapping networks in order to shed light on the question how Canton traders (and British-born interlopers in particular) operated in the European market place – not merely as collective importers of foreign consumer goods, but as independent merchants, whose trade in Chinese goods ranged from wholesale buying and selling, brokering, smuggling, and the fulfilment of special commissions for clients across Europe.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: European Research Council ; Economic History Society
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HC Economic History and Conditions