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History of Chambers of Commerce

The members of the earliest chambers

The members of the earliest chambers were a varied lot. Mostly they were merchants, shippers and bankers. But there were also many manufacturers, some wholesalers and retailers, and a few officials linked to trade (Customs controllers, harbour masters, etc.). In general they were spirited and angry with government (in a 'respectable' way). During the American Revolution chambers were generally for 'reform' not revolution. These early members experimented and defined what a private law chamber should be. The basic model has survived for 250 years to provide the oldest surviving voluntary business organisations in the western world. A full analysis of the members is in Local Business Voice (Chapter 14).

Below you can view the membership lists of the earliest chambers. (Lists for all early chambers will be added to this site over the coming months). The aim is to give a resource to other researchers, genealogists and local historians. This will expand research on these important, but often neglected, early organisations. Your comments and any further information on any of the people in these lists are very welcome: e-mail rjb7@cam.ac.uk. This site will be updated to reflect new information received. Other data on the early chambers themselves (rather than their members) is available in a data archive deposit.

Chamber member lists in date order of foundation: