Home >> Business Encyclopedia And Legal Adviser >> Abandonment to Bank Of >> Adventurers

Adventurers

company, trade, english, companies and regulated

ADVENTURERS, Merchant.—There have been two kinds of English companies engaged in foreign Regulated and (ii.) Joint-stock. The latter were those which traded upon a joint stock, each member sharing in the common profit and loss in proportion to his share in the stock. Regulated companies did not trade upon a joint stock, but were obliged to admit any person, properly qualified, upon his paving a certain fine and agreeing to submit to the regulations of the company, each member trading upon his own stock and at his own risk. It is to the class of regulated companies that the company of merchant adventurers belonged. This company came into existence in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and it consisted of a great number of wealthy and experienced merchants dwelling in various large cities, seaports, and other parts of the realm, such as London, York, and Bristol. These men bound themselves together in company to trade abroad in cloth and other English commodities. At various times they obtained charters and exclusive powers from the English Crown, as well as liberty to trade abroad, especially in various cities in the Netherlands. The result of this was that in the sixteenth century Antwerp became the great market for English cloth ; which, purchased there by merchants from all parts, was eventually sold both in the far east and in the west even to Brazil. In the meanwhile, they found strong trade opponents in the merchants of the Staple, and the German merchants of the Hanseatic League ; until at the close of the sixteenth century the fight with the latter resulted in the expulsion of the English from the German Empire, and retaliation in the shape of expulsion of the Germans from England. After

this period the merchant adventurers fixed their foreign depots in Holland, and towards the end of the seventeenth century in the free city of Hamburg, where they became known as the Hamburg Company.

The merchant adventurers greatly furthered the trade of England in its early stages, and were useful for the first introduction of many branches of commerce, by making at their own expense experiments which the state might not have thought it prudent to make. Regulated companies, on the model of the merchant adventurers, were an important factor in the development of English trade from about the middle of the sixteenth century. Thus the Muscovy Company, chartered by Queen Mary, opened up trade with Russia. And so, too, within their respective territorial limits, was our foreign trade extended by the Baltic Company in 1579, the Turkey Company in 1581, the Mauritiana Company in 1585, and the Guinea Company in 1588. The main defect in the constitution of Regulated companies was, from the modern point of view, the absence of any settled common fund for the purposes of outlay which had consequently to be casually provided for out of admission fines and corpora tion dues. Again, the directors were unlikely to be keenly careful of the general good of the company, inasmuch as they had no interest in the prosperity of the general trade of their company, and might even have been gainers by its limitation.