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    Early modern London merchants and the mercantile community around 1700

    Yang, Xu (2022) Early modern London merchants and the mercantile community around 1700. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This thesis studies the London mercantile community at the end of the seventeenth century, a period of profound change in their social, political, and economic environment. It investigates who these merchants were, how they practised their profession, both individually and as a group, and how they maintained and expanded their networks under changing exogenous constraints. It demonstrates how the community built on existing institutions and developed new socioeconomic tools to manage transaction costs in their trade, utilising both formal and informal institutions that specialized in facilitating either personal or impersonal exchanges. Though primarily an historical study, the thesis draws on terminologies and analytical paradigms from other subjects, notably New Institutional Economics and Marxist Materialism, to display the organic and intricate networks that underpinned the trade and business of early modern London merchants and helped to shape them into a dynamic and interconnected community. The London portbooks are used to establish a sample of 238 ‘active’ merchant firms, from which the individuals featured in later chapters are drawn. During this period the merchant class relied on different types of family networks, explored here though case-studies, to internalize and personalize the uncertainties and costs that must be otherwise managed in the open market, and to perpetuate and secure mercantile property rights. Later chapters investigate the more formal constraints and frameworks that require the coordination of mercantile organizations and associations, in the joint-stock model exemplified by the Bank of England and the reorganization of the East India Company, and in the more personal model of the regulated companies, taking the Levant Company and the Turkey merchants as examples. The last chapter discusses the operation of the mercantile facilities in Exchange Alley, showing how different facilities may have influenced the merchants’ networking behaviours, and how they would evolve towards a more impersonal mercantile network.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2023 11:47
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:00
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/50423
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.18743/PUB.00050423

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