Maritime Empires: British Imperial Maritime Trade in the by David Killingray, Margarette Lincoln, Nigel Rigby

By David Killingray, Margarette Lincoln, Nigel Rigby

Britain's in a foreign country Empire pre-eminently concerned the ocean. In a two-way procedure, ships carried travelers and explorers, alternate items, migrants to new lands, infantrymen to struggle wars and garrison colonies, and in addition rules and crops that might locate fertile minds and soils in different lands. those essays, deriving from a countrywide Maritime Museum (London) convention, offer a wide-ranging and accomplished photo of the actions of maritime empire. They talk about various matters: maritime trades, between them the trans-Atlantic slave alternate, Honduran mahogany for delivery to Britain, the circulation of horses around the immense reaches of Asia and the Indian Ocean; the impression of recent applied sciences as Empire multiplied within the 19th century; the sailors who manned the ships, the settlers who moved in a foreign country, and the most important ports of the Imperial global; plus the position of the army in hydrographic survey.

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Unlike in other parts of the Atlantic world, in the case of the Bight of Biafra there is no evidence that British or other European traders encouraged family members or other associates to live in the region and to serve as resident factors. Nor, unlike in some other parts of Atlantic Africa, is there any evidence of the rise of a mixed race group of traders as a result of ‘miscegenation’ at the coast. Insofar, therefore, as Afro-European trade in the Bight of Biafra depended on personal relations, it did so largely as a result of iterative commercial transactions in which ‘trust’ between African and European parties was built on records of honest dealing and consolidated by social interaction, including visits by the offspring of local traders to Europe.

III, CAP XXXVI. 7 These papers provide not only insight into the mechanics of the trade, but they also expose aspects of shipboard life, the social network through which the wood was carried, patterns of communication across the ocean, and the web of authority, as well as its limits, within Britain’s far-flung maritime empire. Structure of the business The prominent residents of the settlement at Honduras, those who had both land claims and slaves to harvest the wood, were only able to oversee the local activities that brought the product out of the forest and down to the coast.

Its remit in such matters was confined to protecting the interests of its own members, and, despite claims by some historians to the contrary, there is no evidence to suggest that before 1807 British traders were allowed to join the society. 29 For such traders, credit protection at Old Calabar depended on other mechanisms. The key mechanism for credit protection in international exchange at Old Calabar before 1807 was human pawning. 31 In resorting to pawning, British creditors seem to have insisted on introducing more precise timetables for completing contracts than was customary within local practice.

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