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Venting Smoke: The Trade and Consumption of Tobacco in Early Modern England and Wales, c.1625-1685

Taylor, Alexander (2018) Venting Smoke: The Trade and Consumption of Tobacco in Early Modern England and Wales, c.1625-1685. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the trade and consumption of tobacco in seventeenth-century England and Wales (1625-1685). The period under study constitutes the moment when tobacco became a widely available commodity, bringing about huge ramifications for early modern England and beyond. After production in England’s American and West Indian colonies, tobacco was shipped to Europe where it was distributed to manufacturers, inland suppliers and retailers, before ‘vented’ to its users. Paramount to this lifecycle was consumption – above all else in rituals of sociability – which provided the means for continued investment and expansion in the trade. As a result of extensive involvement in its overseas traffic, tobacco became an affordable, everyday commodity, the first ‘exotic’ stimulant to enter the quotidian diets of early modern English men and women. The thesis responds to two broader historiographical traditions, namely the early modern ‘Atlantic world’ and the so-called ‘consumer revolution’. It also taps into more recent inroads made into the history of ‘intoxicants’. Tobacco provided one of the strongest links that ordinary men and women had with the wider world whereas its consumption was a novel form of commodified intoxication that became permanently assimilated into daily life. However, little work has previously focused on the domestic side of the tobacco trade; even less attention has been given to linking up local practices of consumption and production with international patterns of commerce. In responding to these defects, the thesis emphasises the role of non-London ports, the eclectic involvement of dealers, the illegal economy, domestic economic development, and the significance of tobacco consumption as a driving force for commercial expansion. On a broader level, the thesis questions the usefulness of certain historiographical concepts – be they the early modern ‘Atlantic world’ or ‘consumer revolution’ – in analysing economic, social and cultural change in the seventeenth century.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mr Alexander Taylor
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 09:04
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2019 09:04
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23022

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