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Tim Davies

Welcome to my ePortfolio!

I left Warwick in 2013 after 8 years as a student, teacher and researcher. I began working towards my PhD in the Department of History in 2009, having also completed both my BA and MA at Warwick. I submitted my thesis in October 2012, which was successfully examined in January 2013 by Professor Giorgio Riello (Warwick) and Professor Huw Bowen (Swansea). I worked as a Research Assistant on the Europe's Asian Centuries: Trading Eurasia, 1600-1830 project in the Global History and Culture Centre from October 2013 to August 2013. My research interests include eighteenth century transnational trade, the English East India Company, the early modern Indian Ocean world and global history.

Please explore my ePortfolio using the links above, and keep up to date with my current projects on

My Research

British ‘Private Trade’ Networks in the Arabian Sea, c. 1680 - c. 1760 

By the early eighteenth century, British East India Company employees had built up complex and extensive ‘private trade’ networks across the Indian Ocean. Although lying outside the 'monopoly' of the Company, this branch of commerce has long been seen by historians as an important factor underpinning commercial hegemony by extending British influence into areas untouched by Company trade. Studies of private trade by Holden Furber, Peter J. Marshall, Pamela Nightingale, Elizabeth Saxe and Ian Bruce Watson have all emphasised its close relationship to the development of imperial control in India.[1] Recently however, new historical approaches have led to explorations of this topic that move away from a rigid concentration on Empire. Private trade networks have come to be characterised as transnational enterprises that formed an important part of an emerging early modern global economy. For instance, Soren Mentz has argued that it was financial connections with the City of London that were most central for the success of Madras private traders, while Emily Erikson and Peter Bearman have argued for the importance of the trade of Company captains for connecting disparate regional markets in the Indian Ocean with global economic processes.[2]

Drawing on some of the insights from this recent work, my thesis seeks to situate British private trade in the eighteenth-century Indian Ocean within the framework of global history. Through archival research in the UK and Mumbai, it will concentrate on British private merchants based in the Arabian Sea and their networks of associates and correspondents. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which the functioning of maritime trade was dependent on a complex web of local, regional and transnational connections, not merely comprised of commodity trade and capital transfer - 'Company men' functioned within a world of inter-personal associations and their commercial ventures were dependent on social networks that facilitated the exchange of information and the purchase of goods.

[1] See Holden Furber, Bombay Presidency in the Mid-Eighteenth Century (London, 1965), Peter J. Marshall, East Indian Fortunes: The British in Bengal in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1976), Pamela Nightingale, Trade and Empire in Western India 1784-1806 (Cambridge, 1970), Elizabeth L. Saxe, Fortune’s Tangled Web: Trading Networks of English Entrepreneurs in Eastern India (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Yale University, 1979) and Ian Bruce Watson, Foundation for Empire: English Private Trade in India, 1659-1760 (New Delhi, 1980).

[2] Soren Mentz, The English Gentleman Merchant at Work: Madras and the City of London, 1660-1740 (Copenhagen, 2005) and Emily Erikson and Peter Bearman, ‘Malfeasance and the Foundations for Global Trade: The Structure of English Trade in the East Indies, 1601-1833’ in American Journal of Sociology112/1 (2006), pp. 195-230.

Academic Profile

Education and Employment:

2012-2013 - Research Assistant: Europe's Asian Centuries: Trading Eurasia, 1600-1830 project, Global History and Culture Centre, University of Warwick

  • Click here for further details of the project.

2009-2012 - PhD in History. 

  • Title: 'British 'Private Trade' Networks in the Arabian Seas, c.1680-c.1760'.
  • Examiners: Prof Giorgio Riello (Warwick) and Prof Huw Bowen (Swansea)

2008-2009 - M.A. in History (Distinction).

  • Thesis title: 'Private Merchants and Global Trade: Commercial Networking in the Eighteenth-Century Indian Ocean'.

2005-2008 - B.A. in History (1st Class).

  • Dissertation Title: 'What did Indian Merchants Do? Gujarat and the trade to East Africa 1600-1800'. (This essay won the WHA Annual Student Paper Prize 2008).

(All under the supervision of Prof. Maxine Berg @ The University of Warwick)

Professional Development


  • Forthcoming (2014): 'Trading Letters: Correspondence and Anglo-Indian Private Trade in 18th C Western India', Special Issue of Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture on Trans-cultural networks in the Indian Ocean world.
  • Forthcoming: 'English Private Trade in the Arabian Seas During the Eighteenth Century' in Angela Schottenhammer (ed.), Transfer, Exchange and Human Movement Across the Indian Ocean World, Vol. I.
  • Forthcoming: 'British Private Trade and Metropolitan Connections in the Eighteenth Century' in Maxine Berg, Hanna Hodacs, Chris Nierstrasz and Felicia Gottmann (eds.), Goods from the East: Trading Eurasia 1600-1800 (Palgrave, 2014).
  • Under review (recommended for publication in 2014 after revisions): 'English Private Trade in the Arabian Seas, c.1680 - c.1740'.
  • Under review: '"Scandall" and "Infamous Connivance": Corruption and the East India Company's Servants in Western India'.
  • 'Review of James R. Fichter So Great a Proffitt: How the East Indies Trade Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism', Enterprise and Society Vol. 13, Issue 2 (June 2012).


Other Responsibilities


Recent and Upcoming Papers

'Private Trade and Monopoly Structures: The East India Companies and the Commodity Trade to Europe'
IHR Economic and Social History of the Pre-Modern World Seminar, 24 May [jointly authored paper with EAC project team]
'New Perspectives on Eighteenth-Century Private Trade: British Merchant Networks and the Western Indian Ocean'
Goods From the East: Trading Eurasia 1600-1830, Warwick in Venice, 11th - 13th January
The Gateway to India: Bombay/Mumbai as a Global City
'The Birth of the Modern Global City' workshop, EUI, Florence, 9th - 11th December
'Trading Letters: Correspondence and British Private Trade Networks in the Indian Ocean World'
Crossroads Between Empires and Peripheries - Knowledge Transfer, Product Exchange and Human Movement in the Indian Ocean World, University of Ghent, Belgium, 21st - 23rd June
'Scandall' and 'Infamous Connivance': Malfeasance and East India Company Merchants in the Eighteenth Century
EHS Annual Conference 2012, University of Oxford, 30th - 31st March


Traversing the Arabian Seas: The ‘Worlds’ of British Trade in the Indian Ocean, 1680 – 1760

IHR British Maritime History Seminar, 29th November

Correspondence Networks and British ‘Private Trade’ in the Arabian Sea, c.1680 – c.1760

Networks: History Lab Annual Conference 2011, 22nd - 23rd June

'Carrying on a Losing Commerce'? Eighteenth-Century English Trade in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea

Warwick Postgraduate Conference 2011, 6th - 7th June

'Trading Letters: East India Company Merchants and Circulations of Private Correspondence in the Eighteenth Century'

Warwick Arts Faculty Seminar Series, 9th February


'Managing a Merchant Network: Correspondence and the Transnational Dimensions of British Private Trade in the Arabian Sea'

Economic History Society Residential Training Course, 8th - 10th December

'Principals, Agents and Procurement in Eighteenth-Century Commerce: The Management of an Anglo-Indian Private Trading Venture in the 1750s'

New Horizons in Maritime History Conference, Cambridge, 15th - 16th October

'Local Networks and Global Commerce in the Eighteenth Century: British Merchants, the Indian Ocean, and Transnational History'

Doing Transnational History in the 21st Century', International Doctoral Workshop, Sestri Levante, Italy, 14th - 15th April

'Local Networks and Global Trade: British Private Trade in the Arabian Sea'

Encompass Conference II 'Monsoon Asia in the Age of Revolutions: Changes of Regime and their Aftermath', Mumbai University, India, 12th - 14th January


Warwick Postgraduate Conference

Other Events Attended

  • 2008 - European University Institute Summer School on Comparative and Transnational History

Tim Davies

timothy dot davies at alumni dot warwick dot ac dot uk

Department of History
University of Warwick

Main Supervisor:

Maxine Berg


Other Reseach Networks:


Global History and Culture Centre

Europe's Asian Centuries Project


See articles here and here for info about 'Practical Piracy' a series of educational workshops for primary school children I coordinated based around the theme of piracy



Navy and the Nation, 1688 - Present

The Birth of the Modern Global City

Crossroads Between Empires and Peripheries Conference

Economic History Society

History Lab

IHR British Maritime History Seminars

Warwick Arts Faculty Seminar Series