Shipowning in Boston, Lincolnshire, 1836-1848

By Stephanie Jones, published November 1979


This paper analyses patterns of ship ownership in Boston, a minor East Anglian port, from 1836 to 1848. An application to register a merchant ship, required since 1786, had to include details of ownership and the Boston registers show fascinating patterns of ownership. Many ships were owned by a few dominant families, with only one joint-stock company on the registers. More than half the ships were owned by a single individual and in half of these cases they were owned by a master mariner. Surprisingly, people of relatively humble status, such as labourers and domestic servants, owned a proportion of the shipping. The registers reveal that Boston’s dominant trades were timber, grain, wines and tobacco. Fluctuations in the number and tonnage of Boston ships corresponded closely to the national trade cycle.

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Filed under: North Sea | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Administration | Merchant Marines

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