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Risk, networks and privateering in Liverpool during the Seven Years War, 1756-1763

Haggerty, Sheryllynne

Authors

Sheryllynne Haggerty



Abstract

Privateering has often been portrayed as a particularly risky business. Some historians have posited that it was undertaken only by disreputable merchants, whilst others have argued that profits would not have been made if systems of control had been absent, and that merchants were in fact rational when they invested in privateering. So far, however, no-one has sought to gauge or measure the perceived riskiness of privateering by the merchants themselves, and the rationality of those who participated in it. Using the Seven Years War as a case study, this article seeks to measure the extent to which Liverpool merchants perceived privateering to be a risky proposition. As a measurement of the perception of risk, the network size in Liverpool’s privateering voyages is compared to those in the Liverpool slave trade, another trade known to be risky, but one in which Liverpool merchants excelled. In the case of ‘private men of war’, the network size was usually at least as large as those in the slave trade, and often larger. Therefore, the analysis presented here demonstrates that Liverpool’s merchants did perceive privateering—especially its ‘deep water’ variant—as a particularly risky activity during the Seven Years War. By their use of their networks, however, through which they both spread risk, and brought in wider financial and human capital, they were essentially rational in their pursuit of this particular business.

Citation

Haggerty, S. (2018). Risk, networks and privateering in Liverpool during the Seven Years War, 1756-1763. International Journal of Maritime History, 30(1), https://doi.org/10.1177/0843871417745742

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 13, 2017
Publication Date Feb 1, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2018
Journal International Journal of Maritime History
Print ISSN 0843-8714
Electronic ISSN 2052-7756
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 1
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0843871417745742
Keywords privateering, Liverpool, Seven Years War, risk, networks, slave trade
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/48462
Publisher URL http://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/7HR5TbWYbkXV5hgvHanm/full
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information Copyright © 2018 SAGE Publications. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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