British Privateering Enterprise in the Eighteenth Century by Professor David J. Starkey (Department of History, University of Hull)
An important part of eighteenth-century maritime conflict involved the destruction of enemy commerce and the protection of home trade. In performing these tasks, state navies were augmented by privateers, vessels owned, equipped and manned by private individuals authorised by their governments to attack and seize the enemy's seabourne property. For their reward, the investors and seafarers engaged in privateering ventures shared in the proceeds of any ships and goods taken and condemned as lawful prize. Privateering therefore represented a business opportunity to the maritime community, a chance to acquire instant wealth at the enemy's expense; at the same time, it appeared as a cheap convenient means by which the state might supplement its naval strength. In this important analysis David J. Starkey draws upon a wealth of documentary evidence to throw fresh light upon the character, scale and significance of the British privateering business.