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The Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720

By Scott, William Robert

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Book Id: WPLBN0000658883
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 25.44 MB.
Reproduction Date: 2005

Title: The Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720  
Author: Scott, William Robert
Language: English
Subject: Political science., Economics and literature, Economic & political studies series
Collections: Economics Publications Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: Archive for the History of Economic Thought


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Scott, W. R. (n.d.). The Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720. Retrieved from

Economic Theory Literature

Preface: In the study of economic progress, more especially in relation to capital, the development of the joint-stock system occupies an important place. This method of organization became prominent at an early period in England, and the investigation of it has all the fascination arising out of the small beginnings of a type of association which eventually attained great magnitude. In a number of ways this enquiry contains much both of interest and romance which would scarcely be expected in a work that necessarily includes a large amount of statistical material. At the present time joint-stock management has been standardized. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries methods were still to be discovered, and the conflict between different practices is suggestive and instructive. Not only were the methods new, but the system itself was applied to enterprises which were then novel. Thus early companies were concerned in voyages of discovery, privateering, foreign trade, the exploiting of new inventions and the financing of the government. In these early ventures there is a remarkable freshness in the point of view of the shareholders, and their speech and writings are characterized by vigour and directness.

Table of Contents
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I PAGE PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . v LIST OF AUTHORITIES . . . . . . . . . .xxv ii PART I. THE GENERAL HISTORY OF ENGLISH, SCOTTISH AND IRISH JOINT-STOCK COMPANIES TO 1720. CHAPTER I. THE VARIOUS LINES OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WHICH CONVERGE IN THE FIRST ENGLISH JOINTSTOCK COMPANIES. The earliest English joint-stock companies might have been evolved either from the medieval partnership or from the idea of a c~rporat~ion. (a) The Soeietas or Commenda-the societas was extensively used by Italian financiers in England during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Italian influence declined after the failure of the Bardi in 1346. (b) The development of the Corporate idea-traces of the conception of perpetual succession implicit in the Saxon gilds. Brotherhood inside the gild resulted in exclusiveriess outside, and from the latter the monopoly of early trading societies was derived. The government of gilds, feasts and processions involved the ownership and management of property by the gild, and also general meetings and audit of accounts. The monopoly of the gilda mercatoria led to collective bargaining. Government of the gild merchant became established as consisting of a governor with a council to assist him, or to be associated with him, whence was later derived the governor and assistants of the regulated company. The internal organization of the Staple and of the hlerchant Adventurers -by the sixteenth century groups of members had been formed within regulated companies, who traded in joint-stocke, and transactions are recorded which approximate to the early joint-stock type of a corporate Purchase followed by a commodity-division. When this stage was reached the transition to a joint-stock company would soon follow, and the same result was possible by an extension of the societas. A third possibility was the transplanting of a joint-stock constitution from the Continent-instances of the latter tendency are wanting, though allowance must be made for foreign influences in early English joint-stock companies as determining some minor points in their organization . . . . . . . . . .


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