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'An Exact and Industrious Tradesman': The Letter Book of Joseph Symson of Kendal, 1710-1720

Edited by S. D. Smith

in OUP Catalogue from Oxford University Press

Abstract: The eponymous hero of this book is an old man, who lived in a small provincial town, remote from fashionable centres of polite society. Yet the letters of Joseph Symson provide a rare glimpse into the public and private life of an inland merchant who was also a member of England's urban elite. The volume reveals how Symson organised his trade and attempted to organise his family. It details his responses to the political, economic, and religious uncertainties of the early years of the eighteenth century. Joseph Symson's letter book inhabits two worlds. The first is an insular, closely-knit society of prominent north west mercantile and ecclesiastical families - a world of connection, regional affiliation and kinship. From his home in Kendal, Symson documents aspects of Lakeland society before the advent of tourism and Wordsworth. His correspondents, however, included merchants and kinsmen based in London, Liverpool and Manchester. In consequence, the book yields insights into the commercial communities of what Symson himself described as the great trading towns of England. His was a society becoming increasingly integrated with the economies of England, Ireland and Scotland - a world linked to the expansion of the Atlantic economy. The volume provides a detailed account of the Symson family, and an appendix profiles some 200 correspondents, including many north west families. Available in OSO:

Date: 2002
ISBN: 9780197262580
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