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Managing decline: Lancaster merchants and the West Indies, c.1800-50

Date: 22 January 2014 Time: 17.00.00-19.00.00

Venue: FASS Seminar Room 2/3

Michael Winstanley, Lancaster University

Lancaster's 'Golden Age' in the later 18th century has attracted significant academic and popular interest, but the decline of its West Indies trade after 1800 has received little attention. This illustrated paper uses various shipping records and Lancaster and Liverpool newspapers to explore the changing fortunes of the port of Lancaster in the unstable economic, military and political climate of the time. It also uses business records and material on merchants and ships trading with the British and Danish Virgin Islands collected for a recent publication, Rob David and Michael Winstanley, The West Indies and the Arctic in the Age of Sail: voyages of the Abram, 1806-62 (CNWRS 2013) to explore the strategies to which local merchants resorted in order to retain their interests in Caribbean. Finally it seeks to assess the longer-term legacies of local involvement in West Indian economy for some of the families involved, their diversification into other business and professional activities and their potential contribution to the wider economic development of the Lonsdale area.

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