Belfast Merchant Families in the Seventeenth Century
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With Belfast’s dramatic increase in trade during the seventeenth century, large numbers of Scottish families were attracted by the town’s economic potential, the availability of business premises, the ease with which one could attain the status of freeman, and the atmosphere of tolerance of Presbyterianism. This immigrant community formed the basis of Belfast’s new merchant community. In this book Dr. Agnew provides detailed profiles of over thirty such merchant families, revealing a complex kinship network and a community hierarchy based on wealth, status and land ownership. Insights are given into commercial and social mobility: the merchants of Belfast often attained the position of gentry, and many merchant families used their wealth to move abroad, establishing new trading links and extending their kinship-based commercial network to other centres of Irish, British and European trade.