The Global Interests of London's Commercial Community, 1599–1625: Investment in the East India Company

29 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2018

Date Written: November 2018

Abstract

The foundation of the East India Company coincided with a dramatic expansion of England's overseas activities brought about through new trading, colonial, and exploratory ventures. This period has received considerable attention in relation to the development of the British Empire, but little is known about how merchants and other commercial actors invested in and contributed to these organizations. Using a newly developed dataset of membership and investment in overseas activities, this article reconstructs the individual portfolios of East India Company members in 1599, 1613, and 1624. This analysis reveals that investors took advantage of opportunities across the globe, and diverse portfolios were common. The implications of this are two‐fold. First, this article makes clear that our current understanding of the East India Company as closely connected with the Levant Company is not sustained with evidence from investment patterns. Second, the interests of London's commercial community suggest new avenues for understanding the early British Empire as a tightly connected, globally focused set of institutions, people, and networks.

Suggested Citation

Smith, Edmond, The Global Interests of London's Commercial Community, 1599–1625: Investment in the East India Company (November 2018). The Economic History Review, Vol. 71, Issue 4, pp. 1118-1146, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3264258 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ehr.12665

Edmond Smith (Contact Author)

University of Kent

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