Hull Connection – handelshusen i Hull och den svenska järnexporten

Del 1 av 8 i serien Hull Connection

Handelshusen i Hull spelade en stor roll för den svenska järnexporten under större delen av 1700-talet. Hull stod för en stor del av importen av svenskt järn och deras representanter (faktorer) i olika svenska städer stod för en stor del av exporten. Tidigt fanns brittiska faktorer i Helsingör och från slutet av 1600-talet fanns faktorer i Göteborg och Stockholm.

Bland de som fanns i Göteborg märks Thomas Grundy, Thomas Mowld, Henry Maister, John Wilson, Robert John Hall, John Jarrat och William Williamson. I Stockholm fanns William Maister, nån Grundy, John Fenwick, Nicholas Fenwick, Woodworth och Richard Adamson. Genom att de var faktorer hade de inte alltid någon firma i Sverige då de ofta inte hade burskap utan agerade för den brittiska firman. I Göteborg spelade sådana formaliteter ofta mindre roll. I Helsingör fanns flera ur familjen Fenwick och andra. Grundy tycks ibland ha varit Maisters faktor och ibland Broadleys. Thomas Mowld och William Williamson representerade Mowld & Williamson, sannolikt Storbritanniens största järnimportör under andra halvan av 1700-talet:

As early as 1636 a Maister had settled in Helsingore to organise the Scandinavian trade ; there was still a Maister there at the end of the 17th century, though not for much longer. The factors were on the move. Gothenburg became their headquarters for a time, but the letters tha t have survived indicate that factos toured the major ports of the Baltic, and that by 1725 and probably earlier there were at least two groups of inter-related Hull factors residing in different ports, usually Gc rhenburg, Stockholm and Narva or Riga, but soon to include St. Petersburg as well. Sometimes they co-operated, but more often they were rivals, even to the extent of forcing up the price of iron by their competition. By the 1730s the Maister group were handling some 40 percent of the iron exported from Gothenburg, and though the Maisters soon appeared to have left for home, in the 1750s the Gothenburg English factory still contained a goodly proportion of recognisably Hull names: John Jarrat, two of the Halls, John Wilson and William WilIiamson. The latter, who was the partner in Sweden of George Carnegie, represented a firm which, by the union of Mowld and Williamson interests, was to become perhaps the most impor tant iron importer in Britain, and certainly Hull’s greatest merchant house in the second half of the century.

Ovanstående citat överdriver dock Hullköpmännens andel av exporten från Sverige. Enligt Kurt Samuelsson, De stora köpmanshusen i Stockholm 1730-1815, från 1951, stod Maister (Maister, Henworth & Co) för 7,6% av exporten från Göteborg år 1730, Grundy (Grundy & Ridout) för 16,5% medan Mowld (Thomas Mould & Co) stod för 14,4%. Samma år stod Maister för 11,7% av järnexporten från Stockholm och var Stockholms största järnexportör följd av Grill och Lefebure. Worster, som sannolikt också var faktor för en Hull-firma stod för 6,2% och Wordworth för nästan lika mycket.

I Stockholm hade Richard Adamson och John Fenwick en gemensam firma som sen blev Adamson & Wennerquist (ibland Adamson & Co) och ännu senare Wennerquist & Co. Nicholas Fenwick var för sin del kompanjon med John Montgomery i Stockholm men senare drev han en rörelse i Bordeaux.

Senare ökade de Hull-anknuta firmorna andel av exporten från Göteborg rejält. 1752 stod John Jarrat för 14,1% och Cornelia Hall för 10,9%, 1760 stod Jarrat för 17,2%, 1770 var andelen mindre och John Hall & Co stod då för endast 2,6% av järnexporten från Göteborg medan andlen år 1770 var hela 29,8%. 1790 och 1800 var John Hall & Co totalt dominerande i Göteborg med 76,2% respektive 48,1% av exporten. Sannolikt sålde John Hall & Co huvuddelen av sitt järn till Mowld & Williamson i Hull. John Hall d.ä. var ju en tid anställd i firman George Carnegie & Co där William Williamson var en av delägarna. I Stockholm var Maisters en av de dominerande firmorna fram till början av 1740-talet för att därefter förlora sin betydelse.

Handelsmännen i Hull var utestängda från den brittiska handeln med Indien och Kina. Något som betydde att de efter att Svenska Ostindiska Kompaniet grundats kunde bli intressenter i detta. Såväl John Wilson som Robert John Hall (den äldste Hall) investerade i Svenska Ostindiska Kompaniet och John Wilson var direktör under den andra oktrojen. Thomas Mowld var en av de större exportörern av ostindiska varor under den första oktrojen. Via Göteborg kunde alltså Hull-köpmännen indirekt delta i handeln med Asien och de tog säkerligen del i tesmugglingen till Storbritannien. Något som var mycket profitabelt.

Genom sin geografiska belägenhet spelade Hull inte heller någon roll för den transatlantiska handeln, slavhandeln eller för den brittiska exporten av kol. Därför satsade handelshusen i Hull på handel med Östersjö- och Nordsjöländerna. Till en början var traväruimporten från Norge viktig, senare fick Sverige och Ryssland större betydelse. För järnexporten var Sverige viktigast:

Until the advent of Cort’s process in the 1780s, and indeed for some time afterwards, the British iron and steel industry was heavily dependent upon Swedish iron for the manufacture of high-grade products. (fn. 22) The Sheffield cutlers, ironmasters, and steelmakers consequently played a prominent part in the movement to improve the River Don. (fn. 23) Apart from the interruption caused by the Northern War, the import of Swedish iron grew steadily throughout the early part of the century and continued to be substantial until the effects of the introduction of Cort’s process were felt. The tonnage of iron imported through Hull was 2,356 in 1702, only 353 in the war year 1717, 2,581 in 1728, 3,964 in 1737, and 6,058 in 1758. By this time cheaper Russian iron was also available. In 1783 Hull imported 7,879 tons of iron, of which nearly 50 per cent. probably came from Russia.

Timber was another leading import from Scandinavia. In the early part of the century Norway was the principal supplier of deals, or sawn boards, on which customs duties were levied by the hundred of 120 pieces, and not on cubic measurement. (fn. 24) Hull’s import of deals from all sources rose from 1,498 hundreds in 1702 to 2,804 in 1758, 3,224 in 1783, and 4,530 in 1796. During the course of the century Hull’s timber came increasingly from Russia and Prussia and these cargoes consisted not of deals but of ‘common timber’, which served largely as pit-props. (fn. 25) Measured in loads of 50 cubic feet, the quantity imported through Hull rose from 1,135 in 1758 to 6,928 in 1783, and to 14,813 in 1796. Smuggling, however, extended even to such a bulky commodity as timber. John Holland, the yard-foreman of the Hull timber merchants Haworth and Stephenson, appears to have been involved in it (fn. 26) and if there were others like him the amount of timber arriving in Hull may have been considerably more than the official figures suggest.

Göteborg var också en stor importhamn för bly och Hull stod för en stor del av exporten av detta bly:

Lead from Derbyshire and Yorkshire mines was another important export from Hull, especially in the middle of the 18th century. The amount of lead and lead shot passing through the port rose from about 2,000 tons at the beginning of the century to 3,347 tons in 1758. Thereafter it declined to 3,244 tons in 1768 and 2,074 tons in 1783. Exports of red lead rose from 1,848 cwt. in 1717 to 24,322 cwt. in 1758 and 81,119 cwt. in 1783. Exports of white lead, which began in the 1730s, rose from 735 cwt. in 1758 to 12,903 cwt. in 1783.

Både exporten och importen via Hull dominerades av ett fåtal stora handelsföretag. Antalet ökade inte med tiden, men de flesta handelshusen i Hull fick fler delägare. Det var av speciella skäl enda möjligheten att dra in nytt kapital och nya intressenter i verksamheten:

At the beginning of the 18th century much of the shipping trade of Hull was concentrated in the hands of about two dozen merchant houses. In 1702 116 individuals made shipments outwards but 94 of them made fewer than 10 shipments and many made only one or two. Of the remaining merchants, eleven made between 10 and 20 shipments, four made between 20 and 40, and seven more than 40. (fn. 57) Later in the century the degree of concentration was much the same. Of the 174 shipments outwards in the third quarter of 1783 55 were made by two firms, (fn. 58) and in 1793 a petition from the principal merchant houses about the situation of a new dock had 22 signatures. One of the reasons for the constancy of the number of great merchant houses, despite the growing volume of trade, was that until the first dock was opened no merchant could develop a sizeable business who did not own or have access to a private staith. These private wharves were limited in number but far exceeded the area of the public staiths. As a result, new capital could be brought into the shipping trade only by amalgamation with existing firms. In the early 18th century most of the big merchant houses were run by individual proprietors, such as William Crowle, John Thornton, Philip Wilkinson, and Daniel Hoare. Later in the century the partnership was the dominant form of organization. Sons were often brought into the business, as in the case of Joseph Sykes & Sons, or firms such as Williamson & Co., Stephenson & Co., and Wray & Hollingsworth were created.

Vissa järnkvaliteter från Sverige var mer eftertraktade och det gällde främst vallonsmidet från Uppland. Allra mest eftertraktat var stångjärn från Leufsta. Därför uppstod i praktiken en slags monopol vad det gällde importen av detta järn till Storbritannien och Joseph Sykes & Sons var Hulls representant i den kartell som försökte upprätthålla monopolet. Andra deltagare i kartellen var Graffin Prankard i Bristol och familjen Shore i Sheffield. Samuel Shore d.ä. (1676-1751) var gift med Jane Sykes (1681-1750), dotter till George Sykes. Sannolikt var denne släkt med Hull-familjen Sykes:

Merchants tended to specialize in particular trades. It was from Joseph Sykes & Sons, who later secured a virtual monopoly of the trade, that the Huntsmans obtained the supplies of Swedish iron necessary for the production of crucible steel. (fn. 59) But specialization was rarely complete. The timber merchants Haworth & Stephenson handled Norwegian iron, imported hemp and flax from the Baltic, and traded with Holland in ironmongery, lead, and cloths. (fn. 60) The Maisters were principally iron and tar importers, but they also exported lead to France and corn to Portugal and Spain. (fn. 61)

Most of the important merchant houses employed inland correspondents and travellers, and also oversea factors to advise them on the state of the market and to place orders. For several generations such families as the Maisters, Mowlds, and Wilberforces had at least one member representing them in Scandinavia or Russia. (fn. 62) The house of Haworth & Stephenson enjoyed the services of Thomas Fearnley, a merchant who settled in Norway in 1753. In order to evade the customs regulations Fearnley visited the Swedish district of Uddevalla to assemble timber cargoes which were then shipped from Norway. The factor sometimes arranged the means of payment. As soon as a cargo was loaded a bill of exchange was drawn on the importer; it was customarily at two months’ sight and for preference payable at London. A more favourable rate on foreign financial centres would occasionally lead to bills being drawn on them. Fearnley, for example, arranged in 1754 to draw on J. A. Crop & Co., of Amsterdam, when it should be of advantage, and did so at thirty days’ sight in the same year. The Fearnley letters and accounts also make it clear that some degree of barter persisted throughout the 18th century in the Hull timber trade. (fn. 63) Similar conditions no doubt prevailed in other trades and would help to explain the rarity of complete specialization.

The Hull merchants became a powerful and wealthy group which dominated the life of the town. Many of them were active in politics, local government, and the administration of charities, and they formed effective caucuses in the controversies which surrounded the improvement of the harbour.

Joseph Sykes dotter Mary-Anne Sykes var gift med Henry Thornton. Familjen Thornton var en framstående handelsfamilj från London, som hade intressen i sockerbruk (Thornton, Watson & Co) i Hull och familjemedlemmar bosatta i St. Petersburg där de hade handelsföretag och verkade som brittiska faktorer.

1750 kontrollerade Sykes och Maisters 60% av Hulls järnimport med Mark Kirkby och Williamson som andra viktigare importörer. Mark Kirkby var tredjen störst och hans dotter Mary Kirkby gifte sig med Richard Sykes, Joseph Sykes far. Vid hennes död ärvde Richard Sykes d.y. (äldre halvbror till Joseph Sykes) landegendomar och handelsverksamheten från henne ochs enare från hennes bror.

Konkurrent till kartellen var bland andra Henry Norris i London, vars faktor i Stockholm var Robert Campbell. Robert Campbell skötte på 1730-talet uppköpen på bruken medan svärsonen John Montgomery exporterade produkterna till Norris. Henry Norris sålde till ståltillverkaren Abraham Spooner i West Midlands medan Prankard sålde till konkurrenten John Kettle i Birmingham. Norris sålde även till familjen Crowley. I Stockholm hade Prankard främst förbindelser med Jennings. Ett annat handelshus i Hull med släktrelationer till Spooner var Wilberforce. Wilberforcefamiljen var också relaterad till Thornton. Även Thornton och Sykes hade släktrelationer.

Långt senare kom Hull också att bli den stad i England dit emigrantfartygen från Wilson Line gick. Och den som var ansvarig för verksamheten i Göteborg var John West Wilson, av allt att döma en sentida släkting till den första John Wilson i Göteborg, direktören i Ostindiska kompaniet. John West Wilson grundade också Wilson & Co i Göteborg.

Andra källor:
Ostindiska kompaniet – affärer och föremål, 2000
Kurt Samuelsson, De stora köpmanshusen i Stockholm 1730-1815, 1951
Staffan Högberg, Utrikeshandel och sjöfart på 1700-talet, 1969

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