Talbott, S and Jones, S (2021) Sole Traders?: The role of the extended family in eighteenth-century Atlantic business networks. Enterprise and Society: The International Journal of Business History (Enterprise and Society). ISSN 1467-2227

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Despite significant developments in understanding the role of women in early-modern business, more is needed to fully understand women’s impact on eighteenth-century trading networks. Further, much less is known about the role of wider family members, especially children, in the eighteenth-century Atlantic economy. The formal documentation that is privileged in business histories does not tell the whole story, and it frequently represents mercantile activity as a pursuit dominated by a patriarch at the center of a trading network. This article explores eighteenth-century familial commercial networks through extensive use of the personal family correspondence of three merchant families who lived and traded within different locales of the northern Atlantic: Hugh Hall, a merchant and vice judge of the admiralty in Barbados; the Black family, who were wine merchants in Bordeaux; and Joseph Symson, a mercer and shopkeeper from Kendal, England. This article will show that women appear as autonomous players with the power and ability to make informed and independent decisions that directed the business interests of their families. Moreover, it includes an assessment of the ways in which merchants cultivated the expertise of their extended families to enhance their commercial networks and advance their business pursuits. Focusing on children who supported or enhanced the prosperity of the family firm, this article emphasizes that their participation was intentional, not incidental. This article asks questions about the emotional consequences of such activity—which have rarely been considered in any detail—as well as the financial benefit of operating in this manner.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Oxford University Press at Business and Economic History On-line. - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher. © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Business History Conference. All rights reserved
Uncontrolled Keywords: women; merchants; networks; 18th century
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5410 Marketing. Distribution of products
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2021 11:22
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2022 14:02
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/9258

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