Thomas Tooke, 1774–1858, British economist, b. St. Petersburg, Russia. A successful businessman, he began to speak on behalf of free trade before Parliamentary committees and was one of the founders of the Political Economy Club (1821). His History of Prices (6 vol., 1838–57) is a classic exposition on the economics of prices. A pioneer of the empirical method in economics, Tooke worked extensively to understand the causes behind price fluctuations, investigating such variables as changing seasons, new machinery, and monetary policies. He was a staunch critic of trade barriers, opposing any governmental restriction on foreign trade.