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William Schaw Lindsay

Victorian Entrepreneur

Publication Date15th July 2023

Book FormatHardback





From orphaned cabin boy to ship's captain, shipping magnate and MP; the biography of a Victorian titan.
Regular Price £25.00 Online Price: £22.50
Availability: Out of stock

From rags to riches. Born in Scotland and orphaned by the age of 10, he was brought up by his uncle then ran away to sea at the age of 16. The book highlights his life at sea starting as a cabin boy and ending up as a captain. Exploits covering piracy, near-death experiences, and what life was like sailing across oceans in the 1830s. Following his life at sea he became an agent selling coal for steam ships to shipping lines. He set up his shipping company in London and became a ships broker. By the 1850s he owned one of the largest shipping companies in the world. He owned 22 ships, some of which were employed as troop transporters in the Crimean War.

He won the seat of Tynemouth and entered Parliament in 1854 where he focussed on shipping matters. He was vocal in his criticism of the Admiralty’s management during the Crimean War. He visited the Northern States of America just prior to the American Civil War to discuss shipping laws. He met the President Elect Abraham Lincoln and President Buchanan as well as many politicians in the Senate. In fact, his story includes meetings with an astonishing array of Victorian age luminaries: Livingstone, Garibaldi, Gladstone, Disraeli, Lincoln, Brunel, Nightingale, Dickens, Paxton, Emperor Napoleon III and Queen Victoria. Lindsay strove to improve the shipping laws, not only in England, but abroad, particularly in France and the US, and he persistently advocated the removal of all restrictions on free trade in maritime affairs. His magnum opus, entitled 'History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce', was a comprehensive reference on the subject.

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