Raiding and Trading Along the Spanish Lake: The Woodes Rogers Expedition of 1708-1711
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Woodes Rogers is best known for rescuing Alexander Selkirk, the castaway who formed the genesis for Robinson Crusoe and as the governor of the Bahamas who virtually extinguished piracy in the West Indies. However, Rogers first achieved fame through a 1708-1711 cruising voyage in which he circumnavigated the globe and captured a Spanish Manila galleon. His privateers and investors, and their place in the maritime world of the early eighteenth century, are the subject of this dissertation. This study explores how the cruising voyage and its organization illustrate important commercial, legal, and social facets of the contemporary world. Its examination of the socioeconomic status of the “Syndicate” investors who financed and directed the enterprise shows that many were heavily engaged in Bristol politics and charitable organizations before the voyage. The Syndicate obtained letters of marque licensing the two ships of the expedition to capture enemy vessels, and at the same time instructed the expedition to explore the possibilities of trade with Spanish settlers on the Pacific coasts of the Americas. The Syndicate also appointed a “Council” to govern the expedition during its voyage. Next, the dissertation describes the expedition’s circumnavigation of the globe including its raid on Guayaquil and capture of a Manila galleon, and its shift to peaceful trading as it crossed the Pacific and returned to Britain via Dutch-controlled colonies. The final chapter describes the sale of the ships and their cargoes, the payments of wages and expenses, the calculation of the net profit of the enterprise how it was distributed, and the settlement of lawsuits brought by the East India Company and the expedition members against the Syndicate. The conclusion traces what became of many of the investors and sailors after the voyage ended. Many Syndicate members remained in Bristol politics, and others used their profits to engage in Bristol civic life for the first time. Some officers used their profits to become ship-owners themselves while others went back to sea. Again, the work shows how the figures ended their lives as part and parcel of the contemporary maritime and economic worlds.
Abbey, Ian I (2017). Raiding and Trading Along the Spanish Lake: The Woodes Rogers Expedition of 1708-1711. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from