Perry of London: A Family and a Firm on the Seaborne Frontier, 1615-1753

By Jacob M. Price | Go to book overview

Conclusion: Choosing a Frame
for the Picture

The rise and fall of the house of Perry, both firm and family, are interesting phenomena in themselves, but, for the historian, take on deeper meaning when viewed in the frames provided by larger-scale developments and broader questions. Such larger contexts can be suggested by questions about the economic evolution of the British-Chesapeake trade during the time of the rise and fall of the Perrys; the social and familial character of failure among their contemporaries; and the psychological or personal components of entrepreneurial success and failure.


The Wider Economic Scene

The business of the firm of Micajah Perry & Co. (under its various styles) grew as part of the growth of trade between England and its American colonies. Between 1663/ 1669, when Micaiah Perry I was first starting in trade, and 1699-1701, when the prosperity of his firm was at its height, London's trade (combined imports and domestic exports) with the North American and West Indian colonies increased 118 percent. 1 Betwen 1699-1701 and 1752-1754, the time of the death of Micajah Perry III, England's trade (imports, exports and re-exports) with the same area grew 151 percent, while her trade with the Thirteen Colonies alone rose a more impressive 286 percent. 2 Within this pattern of steady, if moderate, increase (closely tied to the growth of population in the colonies), the tobacco trade had a more erratic history. With rapid increases in the seventeenth century in both tobacco consumption in Europe and tobacco production in the English colonies, English tobacco imports increased eighty- or

-95-

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