David’s research focuses on British overseas trade in the long eighteenth century. He is particularly interested in the connections between commerce, colonialism, and consumerism through the study of chartered trading companies, commodities, merchants, retailing, and distribution.
In November 2016, David completed his PhD at Northumbria University and has subsequently taught history at Newcastle University. His doctoral thesis studied the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-century British Atlantic fur trade, a timeframe that encompasses the zenith in both the volume of the trade and rivalries between fur-trading companies. During this period, the British Atlantic fur trade gravitated towards monopolistic forms of trade organisation and his thesis argued that the factors behind this transformation were multifaceted. Ecological constraints, more distant trade routes, the need for long-term credit and security, and the actions of Cain and Hopkins’ ‘gentlemanly capitalists’ coalesced to bring about the Hudson’s Bay Company’s new-found dominance of the trade in 1821.
As EHS Anniversary Fellow, David will write his first monograph on the subject of the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-century British Atlantic fur trade: a publication that advances his doctoral thesis beyond the records of the Hudson’s Bay Company by using new research into Scottish-Canadian merchant papers undertaken in Montreal, Ottawa, and Winnipeg. By locating the British fur trade within the wider ‘Atlantic World’, the book explores what this trade suggests about the institution of empire, the emergence of an integrated Atlantic economy, and the circulation of commodities in an era of protoglobalisation and burgeoning consumerism.