An Economic History of England: the 18th Century

By T. S. Ashton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Internal Trade and Transport

I

'THE home trade', wrote David Macpherson, 'is with good reason believed to be a vast deal greater in value than the whole of the foreign trade, the people of Great Britain being the best customers to the manufacturers and traders of Great Britain.' In a footnote he adds that 'it has been calculated, though I know not upon what grounds, or whether it is at all calculable, that the home consumption of this country is two-and-thirty times as much as the exports to foreign countries'.1 The character of this internal trade varied with the nature of the commodities concerned and the degree of public control exercised: it is impossible in a work on this scale to offer more than a general and imperfect sketch of its features.

Early forms of organisation. persisted. Stourbridge Fair at Cambridge was still a national event, and the traders who assembled there once a year dealt in goods of all kinds. Most of the other fairs, however, had come to specialise in the staple products of the region in which they were held. Such, for example, was so of those held at Norwich for cattle, Northampton for horses, Weyhill and Burford (in Dorset) for sheep, Worcester for hops, Yarmouth for fish, Colchester for oysters, and Ipswich for butter and cheese. But, as population thickened and means of communication improved, weekly markets, at several hundred towns in England and Wales, took over much of the trade that had previously been done at the fairs. These markets tended to specialise increasingly in agricultural or semimanufactured products. There were markets for grain at Maidstone, Ipswich, Lynn, York, Ormskirk, Gloucester, and Devizes, and for wool at Cirencester, Leicester, and Lincoln. Yarn and cloth were disposed of at markets in many towns of East Anglia, Yorkshire, and the south-west -- often on stalls in the streets, but later in the solid, and sometimes gracious, cloth halls that were built at places like

____________________
1
D. Macpherson, Annals of Commerce, vol. iii, p. 340.

-63-

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An Economic History of England: the 18th Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Title Page vii
  • Chapter I - The People of England 1
  • Chapter Two - Agriculture and Its Products 30
  • Chapter Three - Internal Trade and Transport 63
  • Chapter Four - Manufactures 91
  • Chapter Five - Overseas Trade and Shipping 130
  • Chapter Six - Money, Banking and Foreign Exchange 167
  • Chapter Seven - Labour 201
  • Appendix 237
  • Index 255
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