Cumbria's encounter with the East Indies c.1680-1829:gentry and middling provincial families seeking success

Saville-Smith, Katherine Julie (2016) Cumbria's encounter with the East Indies c.1680-1829:gentry and middling provincial families seeking success. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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In both the historiographies of Cumbria and empire respectively, there are numerous allusions to Cumbrians in the East Indies. However, the importance and implications of that encounter have never been systematically explored. This thesis enumerates well over four hundred middling and gentry Cumbrian men and women who travelled to and sojourned in the East Indies as well as a host of Cumbrians whose East Indies interests were operated from the British Isles. There were many more Cumbrians implicated in those East Indies ventures although they may not have been directly involved or sojourned there. For middling and gentry Cumbrian families, the East Indies presented a promise of success. This thesis explores their hopes and fears around ventures in the East Indies. It shows how gentry and middling families mobilised the resources necessary to pursue East Indies success and how East Indies sojourns were enmeshed with expressions of success in Cumbrian society. This thesis illuminates the connections between individuals, families, and place in local, national and global settings. Using the new flexibility and reach provided by the digital world, it incorporates and layers quantitative and structural analysis; thematic analysis around experience, sensibility and identity; and, biographical narratives that trace the contingent and complex trajectories of people’s lives. The Cumbrian encounter with the East Indies brings a new lens to historiographies beyond Cumbria’s regional history: the changing fortunes of middling ranks and gentry, the social and economic history of provincial life, and British imperial expansion. It underscores the importance of regional or provincial cases in understanding experiences usually treated as a nationally determined and driven by national imperatives. It highlights, too, how the pursuit of success by individuals and families has ramifications beyond themselves and their kin.

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Thesis (PhD)
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10 Jun 2016 15:38
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:18