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Reference item: 1599 or earlier: The
little-known Englishman and vicar, Samuel Purchas, publishes his
book, Purchas, His Pilgrimes, which is to inspire London's
merchant adventurers, somewhat based on reports of Magellan's
Giles Milton, Nathaniel's Nutmeg. Penguin Books, 1999/2000.
Reference Item: 1599: Robert Savage an English merchant works as a
Baltic mast contractor. But despite the volume of shipping involved
over long centuries, British historians have studied the Anglo-Baltic
and Russia trades very little to date.
Albion, Forests and Sea Power, p. 195.
Reference Item: 1600: Capt. Charles Leigh becomes a colonist of
the Amazon area, about 1600. He possibly tries to settle on the
border of Brazil.
Lorimer, Amazon, p. 149. Newton, Colonising Puritans, variously.
To set further scenes... it is convenient to outline a different view of the origin of Capitalism, modern capitalism which utilises a scientific outlook… and a view which in the context of scientific techniques, did not necessarily occur to Karl Marx, who tended to respond to institutionalised injustices.
News in July 2006: The history websites on this domain now have a companion website, and an updating website as well, on a new domain, at Merchant Networks Project, produced by Dan Byrnes and Ken Cozens (of London).
This new website (it is hoped) will become a major exercise in economic and maritime history, with much attention to London/British Empire and some attention to Sydney, Australia.
The proposition is: that as a prerequisite, modern capitalism required exercise of the institution of slavery. This implies, that the study of economics, today, has been divorced from the history of the development of slavery, especially in respect of the price of the input of labour. Economics, as a matter of study, world-wide, remains a dismal science since the historians of economics-as-a-discipline have overlooked such an ubiquitous economic institution - slavery. Allied is an ignorance of similar questions regarding workers in India as East India trade grew. Few if any historians ever ask about workers' remunerations in Mogul and Hindu India after 1600.
Failure to examine these matters is partly the result of historians paying insufficient attention to linkages between the trading history of the East India Company, the development of the Company's repertoires of financial sophistication, and the careers of Englishmen involved in various ways in slavery.
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Though it is difficult to illustrate, it can be demonstrated,
genealogically, that many Englishmen, and/or their families, and/or
their associates were involved in both East India trade, and various
sets of activities linked closely to… slavery. Often, in terms
of individual commercial careers, an individual man, and his
associates or relatives were involved in either/both kind of trade.
Here I have in mind works such as: Robert Brenner, Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993. Theodore K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire: Merchant and Gentry Investment in the Expansion of England, 1575-1630. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1967. E. G. R. Taylor, Tudor Geography, 1485-1583. London, Methuen, 1930. Lists of merchant names are also found in R. W. K. Hinton, The Eastland Trade and the Common Weal in the Seventeenth Century. Cambridge University Press, 1959.
Such propositions might tend to harrass
histories which treat slavery and East India trade separately. It is
rather as though the very activity of studying economic history (as a
numbers game) has distracted economists and historians from
genealogical matters which were noticed by both academic and
popularistic English historians working until about 1939, or, World
War Two. To 1939, considerable work had been done on the extent of
the linkages between business activity and family careers in English
commercial life, and following, the history of English expansionism,
that is, maritime life, from about 1540. Willa's work treated such
matters by 1959, for example, but in general, the themes became lost.
Perhaps, in the 1950s and 60s, British sensibilities about empire
were too torn-up by loss of Empire, and the business of
de-colonisation, for further objective work to be done on the origins
of that Empire?
Thomas S. Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade. Manchester University Press, 1959.
Willan's work on Elizabethan foreign trade in particular claims that many London-based cloth exporters became interested in "Barbary trade", especially sugar importing. But it is not explained if the sugar in question was grown in Morocco or North Africa, (using Negro slave labour?), or anywhere else; or had it come through Arabic or Islamic trade routes from, say, India (Bengal)?
This book began with such observations along such lines, and so I have at times during research abandoned more modern perspectives on the rise of English trade in search of what arises when the preoccupations of earlier writers are re-explored. Where these preoccupations are linked to genealogical inquiry, the reader will find that the lists placed in these files of English merchants interested in Barbary, or Moroccan trade, especially in sugar, will name some names which have genealogical persistence in narratives of English commercial life - sometimes, persistence for centuries. There is another point. I assume that where families became interested in maritime endeavour, this resulted in later generations retaining information and documents, telling stories, passing on a set of traditions. Some of these traditions became the cultural heritage of Anglo-Australia, but a heritage somewhat misunderstood. Any gaps however can possibly be filled in by some technical history...
Origins of modern capitalism in sugar and slavery: a technical argument
Medieval sugar industries are noted on Malta, Rhodes, Crete and
Cyprus. Later, sugar production arose in the Canary Islands. (We have
already noted the interest of the English Hawkins' in the Canary
Islands from 1562 if not earlier) and Madeira, involving use of Negro
labour. Those production areas were overtaken by Brazilian and West
Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, Viking, 1985., p. 36. On the importers of sugar to England from Antwerp by 1556 and later, see Thomas S. Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 95., p. 159, being William Garrard, John Hopkins, Sir Thomas White, Edward Jackman and others, some of them noted cloth exporters. William Chester and John Gardener were two pioneers of sugar refining in England.
Mintz, an insightful writer on the marketing of sugar to Europe, is nevertheless surprised by K. G. Davies, the historian of the English Royal Africa Company, mentioning sugar production on Java and in Bengal. With the history of sugar and its role in the history of the enslavement of Africans, one early problem is to decide why Europeans did not import sugar in bulk from Bengal, India, and preferred to take it from islands in the Atlantic or Caribbean? Presumably, from the origins by 1600 of the English East India Company, sugar in ship management terms was not a cost-effective cargo to bring home from India? (I have never read a discussion of this matter, although an associate has recalled that one Colebrooke once wrote that Bengal sugar crystallised badly.)
It is possible that Dutch East India Company interests had thought
that too much dependence on Eastern sources for sugar was too
dangerous, unprofitable, that the supply line was too thin, and that
it was better to deal with the Americas and the West Indies for
sugar. In turn, perhaps the British agreed with the Dutch in this? I
do not know.
Mintz, Sweetness and Power, p. 235.
It is here that Willan's failure to mention the actual source of Moroccan sugar becomes intriguing. Encyclopedias may convey: Sugar was cultivated in India between 500-350BC, but its use did not reach Persia till about 500AD; its use was shifted west by the Islamic movement.
Should Mintz have read Willan and placed more pressure on available histories of English merchant families? As we will find, the lists given here of London-based merchants and politicians set up reverberations with long genealogical persistence. This concentration on genealogy removes romance from the history of improvements in navigation and exploration, and enhances appreciation of that history in terms of commercial life - so that we find how sea lanes twisted and turned until finally, Australia grew into the consciousness of the world. Ironically, not so far, actually, from the supposed origin of sugar-cane - Irian Jaya/ Western Papua New Guinea.
English merchants and others interested in Barbary (Morocco) trade, 1540-1680:
It is useful to place at the head of the list, Elizabeth I's famous favourite, Leicester, or, Dudley. One of Leicester's interests seems to have been in allowing English merchants to step into a power vacuum once the Portuguese had been forced to quit Morocco. English mariners sailed also to "the Guinea coast" (the coasts of West Africa, variously). Naturally, some English commercial tendencies entwined with Portuguese interests, during and while England became a larger maritime power. Here, then, a list:
Thomas Wyndham, dealing in sugar by 1551.
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 81. Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 100. Williamson, Age of Drake, pp. 14ff.
A co-founder of the Russia or Muscovy Company, Francis Bowyer.
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 14, pp. 72ff.
Robert Dudley (1534-1584/88), Earl Leicester.
Taylor, Tudor Geography, p. 26. Lorimer, (Ed.), Amazon, pp. 28ff. Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 172, p. 184, p. 225. Ida Lee, ’The First Sightings of Australia by the English’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. XX, Part V, 1934, pp. 273-280. Note: Issues of Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society between 1930-1936 are studded with articles on world navigators of various eras from various countries, rather as though Australians (during a world depression?) were struggling to find a way to speak their presence in world history.
Mariner Sir Martin Frobisher
(1553-1594), a nephew of John Yorke, Russia merchant and an
originator of the English-Guinea trade.
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 20. Taylor, Tudor Geography, p. 37.
Note on the Lok family: Michael Lok's brother John had been with the Guinea expedition of 1554. The Loks, engaged in the Levant trade, were disappointed by Barbary piracy and so became interested in any plans to find a north-west passage to Cathay. Michael Lok became a member of the Muscovy Company (founded in 1555), and in 1574 with the patronage of the first Earl of Warwick helped promote Frobisher's voyage, inspired by Sebastian Cabot's earlier voyages; but Frobisher's failures led to Lok's ruination. Zacariah, an MP who died in 1603, son of Michael Lok, was in the service of Henry Carey, first Baron Hunsdon, noted elsewhere here.
London Lord Mayor, Sir James Harvey.
Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 164. R. G. Lang, ‘Jacobean London Merchants’.
London Lord Mayor Sir George Bond, active 1587.
Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 220. R. G. Lang, ‘Jacobean London Merchants’, pp. 28-47. Burke's Extinct Baronetcies for Leigh of Stoneleigh, Bond of Peckham, p. 70.
Nicholas Stile (died 1615), as part of an extended family
Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 208.
Privateer Henry Colthurst, engaged in Morocco and Mediterranean
trades, associated with the Stile family, who were linked to Simon
Lawrence, who traded cloth to Hamburg.
Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, pp. 205ff. Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering, pp. 100ff.
Roger Oldfield, part of a family operation, about 1584.
Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 195.
Somerset man, Sir John Luttrell.
Williamson, Age of Drake, pp. 14ff. Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 97.
London Salter and sugar importer, Robert How. Privateer George
Henley of Somerset.
Noted in Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade. Henley is noted in Brenner, Merchants and Revolution.
Gerard Gore the Elder, a Portugal trader, with sons becoming early
members of the East India Company. (Long later, the pastoralists
Macansh of Queensland, Australia, would be descendants).
London Lord Mayor Sir John Gore (died 1636), and London alderman
c.1641 William Gore. John Swinnerton, a factor in Morocco, dealing in
cloth-sugar for Gores by the 1580s.
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 385. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage for Temple of Stowe, p. 2393. Burke's Landed Gentry for Elwes of Roxby. Willan, Elizabethan Foreign Trade, p. 213. R. G. Lang, ‘Jacobean London Merchants’. The Australian connection: On Macansh: See L. M. Mowle, A Genealogical History of Pioneer Families of Australia. Fifth edition. Sydney, Rigby, 1978., p. 106.
Thomas Cordell (died 1612), a London alderman, Master of Mercers,
a director of the Spanish, East India and Levant companies, an
investor in privateering, in Ireland and in Virginia, "and a
pioneer in sugar refining in England".
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, p. 111.
By the late 1630s, London customs farmer, Sir Nicholas Crispe
(1599-1666), the founder of the English slave depot and refreshment
base for East India shipping on the African coast, Kormantin, whose
faction once sought a royally-backed monopoly on Moroccan trade.
Crispe's faction was resisted by Maurice Thomson (who is treated at
length in later chapters), as are Thomson's probable allies in
resisting Crispe, the Anglo-Dutch entrepreneur, Sir William Courteen
Snr. (1572-1636), plus Samuel Bonnell.
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 12, pp. 170-174. K. G. Davies, Royal Africa Company, p. 9. Courteen and his partner Jan de Moor are noted variously in Cornelis CH. Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and on the Wild Coast, 1580-1680. Assen, The Netherlands, Van Gorcum and Co., Dr., H. J. Prakke and H. M. G. Prakke, 1971.
About 1650, John Penn, "an old Morocco hand", the
grandfather of the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn.
Andrews, Ships, Money and Politics, p. 171.
A noted figure in seventeenth century power struggles over the
proprietorship of English Caribbean islands, Francis Willoughby
(1613-1666), fifth Baron Willoughby of Parham, in 1660 a grantee of
the "Morocco Company".
Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1730. London, Jonathan Cape, 1973., p. 50.
Some of these names are referred to in earlier files, other names will ring through following chapters.
Sources of commodities:
If we consider Barbados here from
1625-1628, we might also briefly consider sugar imports into Britain,
rather than "gold and slaves", since the economic
inter-linkages involved in trade in cloth and sugar required
long-term investment in genuinely productive capacity. But here we
can also notice, that in the way they treat European-Asian trade
between 1600 and 1900, economic historians mostly treat commodity
gathering (such as pepper or tea) and exchanges of partly or
fully-finished goods, plus bullion. Topics treated less effectively
are the military and other costs of protecting trade routes, the
costs of maintaining distribution pathways once cargoes reached
European ports, and the interests of European consumers, down to the
housewife sprinkling spices on newly-baked cakes.
A good balance regarding all these problematicals is kept well by Goslinga, a Dutch historian. Cornelis CH. Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and on the Wild Coast, 1580-1680. Assen, The Netherlands, Van Gorcum and Co., Dr., H. J. Prakke and H. M. G. Prakke, 1971.
What genealogical inquiry does, is press us to ask more questions about the English families involved in trade - down to their social history, and the way they shared their history with their contemporaries.
Amongst the main supply-line factors providing broad, brutal
connectivity were - sugar and slavery. The first Englishman to
actually process raw sugar was Colonel Holdip on Barbados in 1641.
Antwerp merchants were refining sugar by 1508. English merchants,
likewise by 1544. When Spain sacked Antwerp, sugar bakers migrated to
London, providing expertise, and probably, various linkages between
English and Dutch capital and expertise.
G. G. Birch and K. J. Palmer, Sugar: Science and Technology. London, Applied Science Publishers Ltd., 1979.
Mintz provides a revised appreciation of the origins of modern
capitalism, in terms of a capitalism that relies on scientifically
predictable outcomes. This is an origin of capitalism that
escaped the attention of Karl Marx, who was little interested in
science and technology; but this kind of origin of capitalism fits
well the history of technology and science, generally - as well as
the histories of sugar-growing and the rise of navigation. As the
history of Barbados shows for the English case, this capitalism began
in the early seventeenth century, and relied on slavery.
Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18; Rabb, Enterprise, p. 111; Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering, pp. 76ff.
In this sense, there is traceable one of the distinguishing characteristics of modern capitalism, which is - the capitalist's resentment at paying workers a living wage - call this matter, equity or wage justice - although capitalists surely appreciate a profit. This resentment existed, exists, and persists, because of early-modern capitalism's reliance on slavery in the Caribbean. Particularly, the resentment of the English capitalist - which resentment was certainly expressed in multi-faceted ways during the English industrial revolution.
This form of capitalism, criticised by Karl Marx, and memorably
identified by Tawney in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism,
was of course translated to the first British colony in Australia
after a form of semi-slavery, convictism, was planted there.
R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: A Historical Study. Ringwood, Victoria, Pelican, 1966. In the light of this, it is illuminating to consider the variety of crops and agriculture which by the 1840s had been tried in New South Wales, and failed to be unprofitable - including tobacco - one reason that wool production captured the Australian imagination as it did.
Yet any forms of semi-slavery in Australia, convictism, were distinct from the slavery of Negroes at the time, from 1788, because of the legislation backing convict transportation to Australia. European Australia escaped the worst excesses of slavery, although to 1830, many notable figures influencing life in the colony of New South Wales has seen slavery in the Caribbean at first hand, as an inspection of Australian Dictionary of Biography quickly reveals.
The distinguishing characteristics of this form of Capitalism, as
outlined by Mintz, included:
(1) concerted investment at the outset in property and productive facilities;
(2) regular production by a trained work force;
(3) regularly applied accountancy;
(4) with production, some reliance on a scientifically predictable outcome relating to rates of production and a capacity to make reliable future projections;
(5) a growing market for product.
Given the period, from 1600, people's views of physical time, "agricultural time" and a changing human sense of time should also be measured. Europeans began to rely on time measured into various packets, as by a clock, as historians of the Industrial Revolution generally point out. Mintz sees all these necessary characteristics evident earlier than the Industrial Revolution in so-called agricultural operations, sugar plantations of the Caribbean, decades before they were seen in the factories, the "dark satanic mills", of England's industrial revolution, which required new working practices.
In particular, where the sense of time, and the production of a predictable outcome are concerned, Mintz draws attention to the way sugar slurries were crystallised. This was a heat-using and seasonal process where skill and timing were crucial. As a post-agricultural phase of production, it was managed for longer than all-night sessions by skilled slaves. The process was crucial, since it reprocessed much of the year's production. If this process was not successful, the plantations year became a financial disaster.
It was to this part of the "capitalistic production process" that the best of the science-of-the-day could be applied. So in this sense, the sugar industry rapidly absorbed new science and technology and harnessed them to old-fashioned forms of labour, including the use of slavery. With all this, the history of a small Caribbean island, Barbados, uninhabited till whites arrived, allows us to see how sophisticated urban financiers, writers and commentators, the managers of royal monopolies, small planters, ship managers, all worked to apply science to redevelop an agricultural pursuit, producing… Capitalism. Capitalism, for example, as still seen in agrarian Virginia after the American Revolution in the income flows of a founder of the modern United States, Thomas Jefferson. A Capitalism which profoundly, consistently and unjustly undervalued a fair labour price, a living wage for a worker.
As the English East India Company grew from 1600, and expanded
operations in India, Bengal sugar was not profitable-enough a cargo
at the time, and was only consumed by the upper classes of Europe.
Gradually, the consumption of sugar was democratised. My argument
above is owed to Mintz’s excellent book, to which I would add
(1) Genealogically, many descendants can be identified, of Englishmen involved in this elaboration of slave-based capitalism in the seventeenth-century Caribbean - including Duncan Campbell (1726-1803) the subject of a later portion of this series of books. Including, Campbell's "nephew-in-law", William Bligh "of the Bounty".
(2) In English economic history, what historians have missed is a recurrent flip-flop of capital between "slavers", or, those involved in the sugar industry, and men usually seen as involved chiefly with the English East India Company. Usually, historians see England's slave-based enterprises as distinct from East India Company business, and so they treat the two sorts of enterprises separately. This is chimerical, as I will demonstrate.
The nexus of this recurrent "flip flop of capital" between these large-scale, capitalistic enterprises, sugar-slavery and East India business, was the City of London, or rather, the usual dealings of financiers in the City - which involved the fortunes of families. (And this is without even going further into the complexities of Anglo-Dutch trading patterns, which as Goslinga indicates, could be complicated indeed.)
Genealogy can be helpful with illustrating how this happened. The
history of Barbados also helps us to unfold these dismal aspects of
In outlining Mintz’s perceptions here, I have relied also on material in the following titles in respect of relevant English history. James A. Williamson, The Age of Drake. London, 1938. On West Indian privateering, Kenneth R. Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering: English Privateering during the Spanish War, 1585-1603. Cambridge, England, 1964. Theodore K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire: Merchant and Gentry Investment in the Expansion of England, 1575-1630. Cambridge Massachusetts, 1967. Here, Rabb, especially, has lists of over 6000 persons investing in overseas commercial ventures about the 1630s. Dunn finds some interesting names are not on this list, such as Thomas Modyford. Also helpful is Dunn, Sugar and Slaves, p. 11, p. 58. On English anti-Spanish activity see Arthur Percival Newton, The Colonising Activities of the English Puritans: The Last Phase of the Elizabethan Struggle with Spain. New Haven, Connecticut, 1914.
An early question to be answered is: Why did England's East India traders not deal in sugar from Bengal after 1630 or so? Initially, after 1600, the English East India Company found it difficult to gain hegemony in India's eastern ports. By the time the English could have exported Bengal sugar, England was so committed to Caribbean interests, there was little point in bothering. The turning point took effect from the 1640s, when Barbados was turned over from more diversified agriculture to monoculture - sugar - and slavery - as Cromwell's power took hold at home. And it was between the 1650s and 1718 that the transportation of English convicts came to be intensified - with felons sent to work in areas where the slavery of Negroes was already common. This is partly how the transportation of English convicts came to be linked with slavery. Later, economies devoted to tobacco production were dependent on slavery.
Sugar cane originated in western New Guinea (although, there is a
botanists' debate about this). Gradually, the use of sugar made its
way west, and sugar was produced in Bengal, as Europeans noted. The
English found it uneconomic to import Bengal sugar. By the time of
Cromwell's Western Design, the 1650s, England's East India traders
still had relatively little experience in investing in sugar-based
enterprise. What, if anything, changed this situation? It also seems,
that from about 1627, the first West Indian ventures in sugar were
supported by Dutch capital, with the English following Dutch
Mintz, Sweetness and Power, p. 53.
Beyond the Levant: The travels of Ralph Fitch in the East:
Overviews given in this book see events not in terms of any point
of view relating to the seat of power, London. They seek rather to
concentrate information found on the fringes of what became an
empire. By 1640, one of those fringes, seen only faintly in the eyes
of the Anglo-Dutch financier, Sir William Courteen Senior, was
Australia, or, Terra Australis Incognita.
Material used for the preparation of this section includes: E. G. R. Taylor, Tudor Geography, 1485-1583. London, Methuen, 1930. R. G. Lang, 'Social Origins and Social Aspirations of Jacobean London Merchants’, Economic History Review, 2, V, 27, 1974., pp. 28-47. Thomas S. Willan, Studies in Elizabethan Foreign Trade. Manchester University Press, 1959. Kenneth R. Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering: English Privateering during the Spanish War, 1585-1603. Cambridge at the University Press, 1964. J. H. Parry, The Age of Reconnaissance. New York, Mentor/New American Library, 1963. Ramkrishna Mukherjee, The Rise and Fall of the East India Company: A Sociological Appraisal. Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1973., pp. 62-64. Citations on Ralph Fitch include: Robert Brenner, Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653. Cambridge University Press, 1993., p. 20, pp. 168ff. Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480-1630. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984., pp. 168ff. Information on Michael Lok's family is found in James A. Williamson, The Age of Drake. London, Adam and Charles Black, 1938., pp. 153-159; Who’s Who in Shakespear's World, pp. 153ff. . P. W. Hasler, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1558-1603. Vol. 1, 2, 3. London, The History of Parliament Trust, 1981., p. 485. James A. Williamson, The Age of Drake. London, Adam and Charles Black, 1938., pp. 28ff. Alderman William Lok of London was a player in the Spanish trade by the 1560s, and he evidently gave Michael his entre to trade. Hasler, The History of Parliament, Vol. 3, p. 350, entry for Sir John I Savile, MP, d.1607. On Sir Christopher Hatton, p. 109 of Who’s Who /Shakespeare's England. G. R. Elton, England Under the Tudors. London, Methuen, 1955. DNB entry on Anthony Jenkinson. W. Foster, England's Quest of Eastern Trade. London, 1933., on Fitch, pp. 79-109. Jonathan Israel, (Ed.), The Anglo-Dutch Moment: Essays on the Glorious Revolution and its World Impact. London, Cambridge University Press, 1991. Ian R. Christie, British ‘non-elite’ MPs, 1715-1820. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995. Sir John Clapham, The Bank of England: A History. Two Vols. Cambridge University Press, 1944. A. Jessopp, (Ed.), Roger North, The Lives of the Norths. Vols. 1-3. London, Greg International Publishers Ltd., 1972., Vol. 3, p. 180. Oskar H. K. Spate, The Pacific Since Magellan. Canberra, Australian National University Press, 1979-1988. Vol. 1, The Spanish Lake. Vol. 2, Monopolists and Freebooters. (1983) Vol. 3, Paradise Found and Lost. (1988). H. R. Fox Bourne, English Merchants: Memoirs in Illustration of the Progress of British Commerce. London, Chatto and Windus, 1886. Ian Bruce Watson, Foundation for Empire: English Private Trade in India, 1659-1760. New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House, 1980. In following merchant careers, the maritime history of English expansionism, and links between aristocrats and merchants, I have relied on some of the following titles, especially for genealogical material, apart from Brenner, Merchants and Revolution. Joyce Lorimer (Ed.), English and Irish Settlement on the River Amazon, 1555-1646. London, The Hakluyt Society, 1989. Theodore K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire: Merchant and Gentry Investment in the Expansion of England, 1575-1630. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1967. Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1730. London, Jonathan Cape, 1973.
But before we meet Sir William Courteen and his Association, we
meet Ralph Fitch and his fellow-travellers of the 1580s...
C. R. N. Routh, Who’s Who in History. England: 1485-1603. Vol. Two. London, Basil Blackwood, 1964. On matters genealogical in general here, see variously: John Burke and John Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland. Second edition. London, John Russell Smith. [Facsimile of the 1964 edition]. Hereafter, Burke's Extinct Baronetcies. Vicary Gibbs, (Ed.), The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. [Extinct, extant or dormant]. London, St. Catherine’s Press, 1910. [Hereafter, and as usual form of citation, GEC, Peerage, given name of title(s), or surname(s), page references] W. A. Shaw, The Knights of England. Two Vols. London, Heraldry Today, 1971. Burke's, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry. London, Edn. 18., Burke's Peerage Ltd. Patrick Montague-Smith, (Ed.), Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. (Australasian edition) London, Debrett's Peerage, 1980. Also, Charles Kidd and David Williamson, (Eds.), Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. London, Macmillan's/Debrett's Peerage Ltd., 1985. R. G. Lang, ‘Social Origins and Social Aspirations of Jacobean London Merchants’, Economic History Review, 2, V, 27, 1974., pp. 28-47.
Ralph Fitch was racing to compete with the Dutch, and so he was a kind of economic espionage agent, a scout for London's merchant interests. One historian, Routh, considers Fitch one of the greatest of England's merchant adventurers. If so, we would be unwise to overlook him. And we need now to consider more of the notables of London's commercial life - given as they often were to infighting.
The London backers of Fitch's travels:
London Lord Mayor, Sir Edward Osborne (1530-1592), was a
co-founder of the Spanish Company and the Levant Company. He was born
a first son in 1530, and was commercially active by 1577. His father
was Richard Osborne of Kent, spouse of Jane Broughton, and Edward's
own spouses were firstly Anne Hewett, and secondly Margaret Chapman
(by 15 September 1588). Osborne was a clothworker who became a
financier and international merchant, earlier an apprentice of his
father-in-law, Lord Mayor Sir William Hewett.
GEC, Peerage, Leeds, p. 507. Alfred C. Wood, A History of the Levant Company. London, Frank Cass, 1964.
Osborne traded with Spain and Portugal, also the Levant, and re-exported cloth to the Baltic. In 1575 he and Richard Staper sent agents to Turkey to reconnoiter before signing a treaty. Osborne also became governor of the Levant Company, and he and Richard Staper personally financed the travels of Ralph Fitch and John Newbury to the East when England was first considering developing international trade by sea, not by overland routes.
It has been noted, in the context of Osborne helping to finance
Fitch's travels, "It was apparently Fitch's report, on his
return, that led the Levant Company merchants to seek the inclusion
of the overland route to the East in their renewed monopoly charter
Routh, Who’s Who in History, pp. 435ff on Ralph Fitch and John Newbury. Hasler, History of Parliament, Vol. 3, p. 157 for Sir Edward Osborne (1530?-1592), London Lord Mayor in 1583, who helped finance Fitch's activities. W. Foster, England's Quest of Eastern Trade. London, 1933., on Fitch, pp. 79-109. Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, pp. 20ff. Also, there was a Thomas Fitch, active by 1641, intended to be deputy-governor of the Puritan-inspired Providence Island operation intended to harass the Spanish. (Providence Island was off the Nicaraguan coast). Newton, Colonising Puritans, pp. 304ff.
So, by about 1581, England had set up four merchants, only, to trade to Turkey, but soon London saw to the origin of the Levant Company, incorporated in 1592 as the Turkey Company, involving twelve merchants. Meanwhile, Elizabeth I became a leading shareholder of the Venice Company.
Another Lord Mayor (in 1590), and a Puritan, Sir John Hart (died
1604) was a grocer, moneylender, a member of the Levant and Muscovy
companies. Hart's spouse was Anne Haynes, his father was Ralph Hart,
who was often governor of the Muscovy Company between 1583 and 1600.
He was a friend of Humphrey Smith of the Grocer's Company, of which
he was a member. As a Puritan, Hart hoped in his will to be "of
the elect". By 1602 he was investing in the East India Company.
Hasler, History of Parliament, Vol. 2, p. 264. Burke's Extinct for Bolles, p. 69.) Hart worshipped at St Dionis Backchurch, London. From 1583, he and Richard Staper helped Fitch's travels. GEC, Peerage, Leeds, p. 507. Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 18, p. 72. Hasler, History of Parliament, Vol. 2, p. 264, Vol 3, pp. 156ff.
In all, the linkages between merchants of the Levant and Muscovy companies were genealogically complex, a factor which flowed into the character of the English East India Company from 1600. And so it seems, that the English East India Company was greatly influenced by merchants who were already experienced in conducting the international trades of their day. Ralph Fitch's travels should be seen in this light - he was intended to expand horizons for London’s international traders - many of whom were intermarried, though not exactly a class by themselves. And here, I imagine that unless inhibited by commercial competition, intermarried people normally talk, gossip and discuss their family legends; and international trading families must have had many legends...
Fearing the Portuguese maritime hegemony at the Cape of Good Hope,
the Levant Company in February 1583 sent men out via Syria and
the Persian Gulf to find what could be bought and sold in Asia, and
to visit Akbar, the great Mogul emperor of India. The travellers
included Ralph Fitch and a jeweller, John Newberry (Newbury), Leeds,
John Newberry (Newbury), via Aleppo, of the Turkey Company, was active by 1580. Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, p. 20. Pedro the brother of Henry the Navigator of Portugal from 1418 travelled the Mediterranean, researching trade between India and the Mediterranean, to London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Constantinople, Alexandria and Cairo, Jerusalem, Sinai, Mecca, Medina. Pedro explored trade implications for Germany as well. With sailing from Lisbon to India, the later object of Portugal would be to break the commercial hegemony of Genoa, Barcelona, Marseilles, Florence and Ragusa (which had Venetian protection). See Gilbert Renault, The Caravels of Christ. (Translated by Richmond Hill). London, Allen and Unwin, 1959., p. 82.
A jeweller, Leeds, and Storey, who went to India, were arrested by the Portuguese as heretics and were given to the Inquisition at Goa, but they escaped with help from an English Jesuit. A related story is that an English priest in India (Goa) sent information back to his father, a London merchant, and that this information helped stimulate trade interests.
They escaped anyway with help from an English Jesuit. Some of these English, however, did manage to inspect the Mogul splendour of northern India. During 1584, Fitch went down the Hugli River of Bengal, then to Chittagong (present-day East Pakistan), then by boat to Pegu in Burma, to Rangoon, then to Chiengmai in northern Siam. These were all territories which possessed little naval power, or, if they possessed it, they did not emphasise it, a situation which would continue.
As part of the curiosity and exploration of the day, Edmund Fenton of the Muscovy Company (who had married Thomasine, daughter of Benjamin Gonson the naval administrator of England) was also active by 1583, and he visited the Moluccas and the Spice Islands, although Houtman for the Dutch was the first European to exploit Sumatra successfully. Fenton made a voyage partly of discovery, partly of plunder, with the backing of the first Earl of Leicester, Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586, who was married to Frances, the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham) and Secretary of State, William Cecil (1521-1598), Lord Burghley.
The Muscovy Company as a body had provided a large direct
investment. Fenton's supporters included Thomas Pullyson, William
Towerson, Thomas Aldersey, Thomas Starkey (all Spanish Company
directors) plus Sir George Barne (died 1593), a founding Spanish
Company director and a co-founder of the Turkey Company. (Barne's
father was deep in the Spanish trade from the 1560s.)
On Barne, Governor of the Muscovy Company in 1580 and 1583: Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, pp. 18-20, p. 63. Burke's Extinct Baronetcies for Garrard, p. 214, and , p. 446. Hasler, History of Parliament, Vol. 3, p. 571 for his daughter's marriage to Walsingham. Conyers Read, Mr Secretary Walsingham and the Policy of Queen Elizabeth. Vol. 3, Oxford University Press at the Clarendon Press., pp. 425ff. Valerie Hope, My Lord Mayor: Eight Hundred Years of London's Mayoralty. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson in association with the Corporation of the City of London, 1989.
Also, Martin Calthorpe, and the
powerful trade overseer Sir John "Customer" Smythe
(1558-1625), Sir Richard Martin (Turkey Company founders) and Thomas
Cordell, a co-founder of the Venice Company. Also, Robert Sadler was
a co-founder of the Venice Company.
( The third governor of the Levant Company, from 1600, was Sir Thomas Smith, whom I cannot well identify genealogically.)
Wood, Levant Company, Appendix IV). Some confusion exists on the genealogies for families Smythe/Smith (one individual has dates 1556-1608), which is unfortunate as his family was notable in customs collection - in connection with the man or men known as Sir Thomas "Customer" Smythe. I have here avoided these difficulties, since they need separate treatment. Sadler was a co-founder of the Venice Company. As privateer-merchant of the Levant Company of the 1590s, Sadler backed ventures by Drake and Fenton; Brenner, Merchants and Revolution, pp. 20-21. Rabb, Enterprise, p. 112.
It is difficult not to see Fitch's and Fenton's travels as
coordinated in London. Making a thorough survey, Fitch had moved on
to Malacca near Singapura, or, the later Singapore, and noted the
vital strategic role of the Straits of Malacca. Then he turned back,
going to Pegu, then Ceylon, up the west coast of India to Cochin,
then to Goa, then Basra, Babylon, Mosul, Aleppo, and back to London.
(Newberry meantime on his way home died in the Punjab area.)
On the Malaccas, see also Antonie Galvano, The Discoveries of The World. Amsterdam/New York, Di Capo Press, 1969. (Galvano was governor of Ternante, chief island of the Malucos, Indonesia.) (Translated by Richard Hakluyt and dedicated to Sir Robert Cecil.)
In all, Fitch was away eight years. Except for the mention of
Ceylon, it would appear that Fitch mostly used local, coast-hugging
ships for his surveys. Fitch had thought some of the countries he saw
were much wealthier than his own, which was doubtless correct. Pegu
was bigger than London! More importantly, as many writers say,
Fitch's information was sifted by merchants and helped inspire the
creation of the English East India Company. Long later, Imperial
Britain ruled many of the areas Fitch had visited. Which hardly seems
On Fitch, see also Sir Percy Sykes, A History of Exploration: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. London, Routledge and Sons, 1975., p. 154.
Copyright © by Dan Byrnes, Australia, 2002
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