The Social Networks of Investment in Early Modern England

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The launch of the East India Company in 1599 relied on the engagement of an investing public. Despite this, little is known about how and why ordinary individual investors chose to invest in the corporation or what institutional frameworks supported them. While the later ‘financial revolution’ would radically alter the relationship between the state, investors, and financial organisations, this process does not adequately explain the earlier development of an investing public. Using a newly developed dataset of members’ familial, neighbourhood, civic and business connections, this article reconstructs the social networks of East India Company investors in 1599. This analysis reveals that the company was formulated within an intensely interconnected investment environment – linkages that were used to distribute information and provide access to seemingly illiquid markets. Social networks played a key role in how people decided about where, when, with whom and how much to invest during the expansion of investment opportunities in early modern England.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
JournalThe Historical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020


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