The brokers of human capital
Shareholders and directors
in Human capital and empire
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The chapter explores the processes by which Scots, Irish and Welsh began to appear as shareholders and directors of the East India Company. The analysis initially considers the relatively marginal Irish, Scots and Welsh presence among the shareholders and directors. It is noticeable that metropolitan provincials tended to secure positions on the directorate after returning from successful careers in Asia. This trajectory of accessing London via the empire explains the careers of a number of important directors. It encompassed figures as diverse as the Irish and Welsh military officers Sweny Toone and William Jones, the Irish free merchant Robert Gregory, the Scots Company civil servant Charles Grant, the free merchant David Scott and the East Indiaman commander William Fullerton-Elphinstone. Despite these similar pathways to involvement at the apex of the Company, the number of Scots acquired directorships was noticeably higher. This had major implications for the sponsorship of clients into the employment in Asia. The chapter conceives of such patronage was a form of ‘brokering human capital’, with local networks connecting to the metropole through the directors. The reconstruction of almost two thousand instances of patronage demonstrates that a conspicuous climate of favouritism towards networks, families and individuals from the director’s place or region of origin. With more directors with Scottish backgrounds able to undertake this function of mobilising human wealth, substantially greater numbers of Scots found their way into the elite sectors of employment compared to the Welsh or Irish.

Human capital and empire

Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British imperialism in Asia, c.1690–c.1820

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