British Trade with Spanish America, 1763-1808

BookBritish Trade with Spanish America, 1763-1808

British Trade with Spanish America, 1763-1808

Liverpool Latin American Studies, 9


March 27th, 2014



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In this erudite and comprehensive study Adrian Pearce offers a detailed survey of British trade with Spanish America in the latter half of the eighteenth century drawing together a variety of sources and looking at all aspects of commercial activity. The history and vicissitudes of the free port system are documented in a much fuller way than heretofore and the interests of competing interest groups are mapped out. Pearce re-examines the share of British export trade provided through Spanish America in one of the most important interventions in the field in recent years.


'This is without doubt the most important contribution to Anglo-Spanish (and Latin) American trade history since D.C.M. Platt’s Latin America and British Trade, 1806-1914 (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1972)... This is an outstanding monograph, very well written, very engaging, which I am sure will become the definitive work on this subject.'
Manuel Llorca-Jaña, Business History

'Pearce concedes that some of his conclusions are provisional – an almost unnecessarily modest remark since many readers will be at a loss to suggest what more he might have done... His argument is credible precisely because it is so well rooted in the records of the age.'
David Maclean, Journal of British Studies

Journal of British Studies

Pearce conveys all of this beautifully in a book that I wish I had written but am very pleased that he has... Pearce’s is a grand and very important story, impressively told. Bravo.

Economic History Review

... British Trade with Spanish America is certainly an important piece of work. It also hints suggestively at broader themes and at avenues for future research. Perhaps most importantly, Pearce’s work indicates the rich rewards to be pursued through histories of the Americas which consider interactions between Francophone, Hispanic, Lusophone and Anglophone regions.

English Historical Review, Vol CXXV

Presents a detailed study of British trade with Spanish America in the latter half of the eighteenth century.

Journal of Economic Literature, Vol 46, no. 3

All students of colonial Spanish American history and British imperial and economic history should read this fine study.
Mark Burkholder, International History Review

International History Review

'His research in twelve archives in six incredibly impressive. The presentation of the research findings is exemplary; Pearce is always cautious, presenting alternative interpretations to test his own argument, and seeking points of strength among his collation of fragmentary and incomplete sources.'
Matthew Brown, Bulletin of Latin American Research

'This ambitious work manages difficult, complex material in a carefully reasoned, engaging manner. The first comprehensive treatment of Britain’s trade with Spanish America in modern times, it will undoubtedly remain the standard work for years to come.'
Allan Kuethe, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

'Pearce’s detailed and cautious study is of great interest... Magnificent.'
Renate Pieper, Anuario de Estudios Americanos

'Moves..towards a broader and more modern vision that goes beyond the strictly national horizon, to seek to throw light on problems common to the mercantilist nations and their (diverse or similar) means of participation in European trade with the Atlantic.'
Ana Crespo Solana, Revista de Indias

Revista de Indias

Author Information

Adrian J. Pearce is Profesor-Investigador at the Centro de Estudios Históricos, El Colegio de México.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
Table of Contents8
List of Tables and Maps9
List of Abbreviations16
Note on Exchange Rates and Values17
Introductory Essay by Professor John R. Fisher20
1 The Origins of British Trade with the Spanish Colonies, Sixteenth Century to 176340
2 The ‘Spanish Trade’, 1763–83: Geographical Expansion and the Free Ports80
3 The Comercio de Colonias and the Consolidation of the Free Port System, 1783–96119
4 Trade during Wartime (1796–1808): The Spanish Licensed Trade in the British West Indies158
5 Trade during Wartime (1796–1808): British Contraband and the Spanish-American Perspective200
6 Trade during Wartime (1796–1808): Neutral Trade, the Bullion Contracts, and the ‘Secret Trade’229
7 Conclusions269
Statistical Appendix: British Trade with the Spanish Colonies, 1788–95300
Note on Archival Sources327
Bibliography for the Study of British Trade with the Spanish Colonies329