Primers for Mercantile History

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    H. D

    Spurred by the suggestions for naval history it occurs to me that those researching the merchant navy have a difficult task. The subject is vast and with a wide variety of topics. Some random starting suggestions from my shelf might be:
    Marc Levinson “The Box”
    Ralph Davis “The Rise of the British Shipping Industry”
    Basil Greenhill “The Merchant Schooners”
    Gordon Jackson “The History and Archaeology of Ports”
    Ronald Hope “Poor Jack”
    Not forgetting Conway’s History of the Ship series.
    Helen Doe

    Frank Scott

    As you say the commercial world is hard to cover, there is after all no ‘merchant navy’ merely a large number of companies.
    For the early years I would rate Peter Earle’s “Sailors: English merchant seamen 1650-1775”, and Capt. R.W. Eastwick’s great memoir “A Master Mariner” (surely worth a reprint).
    Must say that I regret that Ronald Hope’s “Poor Jack” includes so much from the RN – I think that it would have been better without.
    Some company histories are good – the two volumes by JF Gibson on “Brocklebanks 1770-1950” come to mind. However, many others are merely PR puffs.
    Frank Scott

    P.S. B

    W S Lindsay’s “History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce”, 4 vols. London 1874-76, should not be overlooked, particularly with respect to 19th century developments and how they appeared to a contemporary participant in the industry.
    Peter Beeston

    P. H

    Dorothy Burwash, English Merchant Shipping 1460-1540 (University of Toronto, 1947). Although only a snapshot, it is absolutely magnificent.
    Paul Hughes


    The first volume of Lindsay’s History is available on Google Books. Unfortunately, Eastwick’s book (see Frank Scott’s post in this thread) is there but only with no preview available (I would check regularly to see when they put it online).

    Robert Legge
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