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The Rise and Fall of a Lisbon Family Business, 1710–1773: The Case of the House of Torres

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2019

Abstract

By weaving the political economy of the Portuguese empire into business history, this article highlights the role of metropolitan and colonial tax farming in the rise and fall of an elite that dominated the business scene in both mainland Portugal and colonial Brazil between roughly 1730 and 1760. It takes the Torres family business as a case study and argues that, while tax farming undoubtedly represented an opportunity to accumulate private wealth, it was also a risky business. Adding to the irregularity of fiscal income, tax farming imposed strict rules on tax farmers, deriving from the legal framework for public finance, while the Crown's policy of seeking to maximize revenue through competitive bidding also increased the risks to which they were exposed. While being highly concentrated on tax farming in Portugal and the South Atlantic empire allowed the Torres family business to amass extraordinary wealth, it also proportionately increased the firm's exposure to those risks, which were then further compounded by a succession problem that eventually led to its demise.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2019 Research Institute for History, Leiden University 

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Footnotes

*

João Paulo Salvado is research fellow at CIDEHUS, University of Évora. His current interests comprise state formation, empire-building, business history, and merchant elites.

1

Holder of a post-doctoral grant funded by FCT—Foundation for Science and Technology (Portugal)—and POPH/FSE (EC) (SFRH/BPD/88967/2012). This work is also financed by national funds by FCT under the project UID/HIS/00057/2013 (POCI-01–0145-FEDER-007701), FCT, COMPETE, FEDER, Portugal 2020.

References

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Donovan, W. M. Commercial Enterprise and Luso-Brazilian Society during the Brazilian Gold Rush: The Mercantile House of Francisco Pinheiro and the Lisbon to Brazil Trade, 1695–1750. PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1990.Google Scholar
Earle, P. The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society and Family Life in London, 1660–1730. London: Methuen, 1989.Google Scholar
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Fisher, H. E. S. The Portugal Trade: A Study of Anglo-Portuguese Commerce, 1700–1770. London: Methuen, 1971.Google Scholar
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García-Baquero González, A. Cádiz y el Atlántico, 1717–1778: el comercio colonial español bajo el monopolio gaditano. 2 vols. Cádiz: Diputacion Provincial de Cádiz, 1988.Google Scholar
Gauci, P. Emporium of the World: The Merchants of London, 1660–1800. London: Hambledon Continuum, 2007.Google Scholar
Gelderblom, O., and Trivellato, F.. “The Business History of the Preindustrial World: Towards a Comparative Historical Analysis.” Business History 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/00076791.2018.1426750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grassby, R.English Merchant Capitalism in the Late Seventeenth Century: The Composition of Business Fortunes.” Past and Present 46 (1970): 87107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hansmann, H., Kraakman, R., and Squire, R.. “Law and the Rise of the Firm.” Harvard Law Review 119:5 (2005–2006): 1333–403.Google Scholar
Hespanha, A. M. Poder e instituições no Antigo Regime. Lisboa: Edições Cosmos, 1992.Google Scholar
Hespanha, A. M.Carne de uma só carne: para uma compreensão dos fundamentos histórico-antropológicos da família na época moderna.” Análise Social 28: 123–24 (1993): 951–73.Google Scholar
Kniep, F. Societas publicanorum. Jena: Verlag von Gustav Fisher, 1896.Google Scholar
Lindemann, M. The Merchant Republics: Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg, 1648–1790. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
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Monson, A., and Scheidel, W., eds. Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Monteiro, N. G. D. José na sombra de Pombal. Lisbon: Temas e Debates, 2008.Google Scholar
North, D. and Thomas, R. P., The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pares, R.A London West-India Merchant House, 1740–1769.” In Essays Presented to Sir Lewis Namier, edited by Pares, R. et al. , 75107. London: Macmillan, 1956.Google Scholar
Pedreira, J.Brasil, fronteira de Portugal: negócio, emigração e mobilidade social (séculos XVII e XVIII).” Anais da Universidade de Évora 8–9 (1998–1999): 63–9.Google Scholar
Pedreira, J. Os homens de negócio da praça de Lisboa de Pombal ao vintismo, 1755–1822: diferenciação, reprodução e identificação de um grupo social. PhD diss., Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1995.Google Scholar
Pedreira, J.Tratos e contratos: actividades, interesses e orientações dos investimentos dos negociantes da praça de Lisboa, 1755–1822.” Análise Social 31:136–37 (1996): 359–79.Google Scholar
Pereira, A. S.The Opportunity of a Disaster: The Economic Impact of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.” The Journal of Economic History 69:2 (2009): 466–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rodrigues, L. L. and Craig, R.. “Recovery amid Destruction: Manoel da Maya and the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755”. Libraries & the Cultural Record 43:4 (2008): 397-410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rogers, N.Money, Land and Lineage: The Big Bourgeoisie of Hanoverian London.” Social History 4:3 (1979): 437–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Russell-Wood, A. J. R.The Gold Cycle, c.1690–1750.” In Colonial Brazil, edited by Bethell, L., 190243. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Safley, T. M. ed. The History of Bankruptcy: Economic, Social and Cultural Implications in Early Modern Europe. London: Routledge, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Salvado, J. P.O estanco do tabaco em Portugal: contrato-geral e consórcios mercantis, 1702–1755.” In Política y hacienda en los impérios ibéricos, siglos XVII-XIX, edited by de Luxán, S., 133–53. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 2014.Google Scholar
Salvado, J. P. “Fiscal Income and Tax Farming: Dynamics of Interdependence between the State and Businessmen during the Brazilian Gold Cycle.” Paper presented at Early Modern Mercantile Culture Symposium, King's College London, 22–23 June 2018.Google Scholar
Salvado, J. P. “Os grandes negociantes de Lisboa da primeira metade do século XVIII: origens geográficas e perfil social.” Paper presented at XXXIV Conference of the Portuguese Association of Economic and Social History, 2014.Google Scholar
Sampaio, A. C. J. Na encruzilhada do império: hierarquias sociais e conjunturas econômicas no Rio de Janeiro, c. 1650–c. 1750. Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 2003.Google Scholar
Schulte Beerbühl, M. The Forgotten Majority: German Merchants in London, Naturalization, and Global Trade, 1660–1815. Oxford: Berghahn, 2015.Google Scholar
Serrão, J. V.Impactos económicos do terramoto.” In O terramoto de 1755: impactos históricos, edited by Araújo, A. C. et al. , 147–70. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte, 2007.Google Scholar
Sousa, R. M. de. “Brazilian Gold and the Lisbon Mint House.” e-Journal of Portuguese History 6:1 (2008): 122.Google Scholar
Subtil, J. O terramoto político, 1755–1759: memória e poder. Lisbon: Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, 2007.Google Scholar
Yamey, B. S.Scientific Bookkeeping and the Rise of Capitalism.” Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 1:2–3 (1949): 99113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zahedieh, N. The Capital and the Colonies: London and the Atlantic Economy, 1660–1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Zimmermann, Reinhard. The Law of Obligations: Roman Foundations of the Civilian Tradition. Cape Town: Juta, 1992.Google Scholar
Arquivo Distrital de LisboaGoogle Scholar
- Registos Paroquiais, Distrito de Lisboa, Torres Vedras, Freiria, Baptismos, bk. 1.Google Scholar
- Registos Paroquiais, Lisboa, Nossa Senhora da Pena, Casamentos, bk. 8.Google Scholar
- Cartórios Notariais de Lisboa, Cartório do Distribuidor, bks. 80, 86, and 88.Google Scholar
Arquivo Histórico UltramarinoGoogle Scholar
- Conselho Ultramarino, bks. 296–9, 1269, 1278–9.Google Scholar
- Avulsos: Angola, bxs. 30 and 39; Bahia, bxs. 12–145, and Bahia (Castro e Almeida), bxs. 1–27; Minas Gerais, bxs. 2–75; Pernambuco, bxs. 29–94; Rio de Janeiro, bxs. 11–60, and Rio de Janeiro (Castro e Almeida), bxs. 18–88; S. Tomé e Príncipe, bx. 4.Google Scholar
Arquivo Nacional da Torre do TomboGoogle Scholar
- Desembargo do Paço, Repartição da Corte, Estremadura e Ilhas, bundle 1440.Google Scholar
- Feitos Findos, Administração de Casas, bundle 161, doc. 5; Diversos, bundle 11, doc. 1; Inventários post-mortem, Letter E, bundle 28, doc. 13.Google Scholar
- Juízo da Provedoria dos Resíduos e Cativos, Registo Geral de Testamentos, bks. 247 and 300.Google Scholar
- Mesa da Consciência e Ordens, Ordem de Cristo, Habilitações, Letter M, bundle 39, doc. 73.Google Scholar
- Tribunal do Santo Ofício, Conselho Geral, Habilitações, Manuel, bundle 116, doc. 2104.Google Scholar
Ordenações Filipinas, bk. 4. Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1985 (first edition 1603).Google Scholar
Rocha, Manuel Coelho da. Instituições de direito civil portuguez. 2 vols. Coimbra: Livraria de J. Augusto Orcel, 1857.Google Scholar
Silva, António Delgado da. Collecção da legislação portugueza, 1750–1762, vol. 1. Lisbon: Na Typografia Maigrense, 1830.Google Scholar
Sousa, Manuel de Almeida. Tratado pratico do processo executive summario. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1855.Google Scholar
Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S., and Robinson, J.. “The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth.” American Economic Review 95:3 (2005): 545–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alden, D.The Population of Brazil in the Late Eighteenth Century: A Preliminary Study.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 43:2 (1963): 173205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arias Bonet, J. A.Societas publicanorum.” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español 19 (1948–1949): 218–303.Google Scholar
Bonney, R. ed. Economic Systems and State Finance. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002.Google Scholar
Bonney, R. ed. The Rise of the Fiscal State in Europe, c. 1200–1815. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bordo, M., and Cortés-Conde, R., eds. Transferring Wealth and Power from the Old to the New World: Monetary and Fiscal Institutions in the 17th through the 19th Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
Bustos Rodríguez, M. Cádiz en el sistema atlántico: la ciudad, sus comerciantes y la actividad mercantil, 1650–1830. Madrid: Sílex, 2005.Google Scholar
Butel, P. Les négociants bordelais: l'Europe et les îles au XVIII siècle. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne, 1992.Google Scholar
Cardoso, J. L.Pombal, o terramoto e a política de regulação económica.” In O terramoto de 1755: impactos históricos, edited by Araújo, A. C. et al. , 165–85. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte, 2007.Google Scholar
Carrière, C. Négociants marseillais au XVIIIe siècle: contribution à l’étude des économies maritimes. 2 vols. Marseilles: Institute Historique de Provence, 1973.Google Scholar
Casson, M.Institutional Economics and Business History: A Way Forward?Business History 39:4 (1997): 151–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Casson, M., and Rose, M. B.. “Institutions and the Evolution of Modern Business.” Business History 39:4 (1997): 18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cimma, M. R. Ricerce sulle società di publicani. Milan: Giuffrè, 1981.Google Scholar
Coatsworth, J.Political Economy and Economic Organization.” In The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America, edited by Bulmer-Thomas, V., Coatsworth, J., and Cortés-Conde, R., 235–74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colli, A., and Fernández, P.. “Business History and Family Firms.” In The Sage Handbook of Family Business, edited by Melin, L., Nordqvist, M., and Sharma, P., 269–92. London: Sage, 2009.Google Scholar
Colli, A., and Larsson, M.. “Family Business and Business History: An Example of Comparative Research.” Business History 56:1 (2014): 3753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colli, A., and Rose, M.. “Family Business.” In The Oxford Handbook of Business History, edited by Jones, G. G. and Zeitlin, J.. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
Costa, L. F. O transporte no Atlântico e a Companhia Geral do Comércio do Brasil (1580–1663). 2 vols. Lisbon: Comissão Nacional para as Comemorações dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, 2002.Google Scholar
Costa, L. F., Lains, P., and Münch Miranda, S.. An Economic History of Portugal, 1143–2010. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Costa, L. F., Rocha, M. M., and de Sousa, R. M.. O ouro do Brasil. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 2013.Google Scholar
Devine, T. M.A Glasgow Tobacco Merchant during the American War of Independence: Alexander Speirs of Elderslie, 1775 to 1781.” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 33:3 (1976): 501–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Donovan, W. M. Commercial Enterprise and Luso-Brazilian Society during the Brazilian Gold Rush: The Mercantile House of Francisco Pinheiro and the Lisbon to Brazil Trade, 1695–1750. PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1990.Google Scholar
Earle, P. The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society and Family Life in London, 1660–1730. London: Methuen, 1989.Google Scholar
Ekelund, R., and Tollison, R.. Politicized Economies: Monarchy, Monopoly and Mercantilism. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
Fisher, H. E. S. The Portugal Trade: A Study of Anglo-Portuguese Commerce, 1700–1770. London: Methuen, 1971.Google Scholar
Frigo, D. Il padre di famiglia: governo della casa e governo civile nella tradizione dell’ “economica” tra Cinque e Seicento. Milan: Bulzoni, 1985.Google Scholar
García-Baquero González, A. Cádiz y el Atlántico, 1717–1778: el comercio colonial español bajo el monopolio gaditano. 2 vols. Cádiz: Diputacion Provincial de Cádiz, 1988.Google Scholar
Gauci, P. Emporium of the World: The Merchants of London, 1660–1800. London: Hambledon Continuum, 2007.Google Scholar
Gelderblom, O., and Trivellato, F.. “The Business History of the Preindustrial World: Towards a Comparative Historical Analysis.” Business History 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/00076791.2018.1426750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grassby, R.English Merchant Capitalism in the Late Seventeenth Century: The Composition of Business Fortunes.” Past and Present 46 (1970): 87107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hansmann, H., Kraakman, R., and Squire, R.. “Law and the Rise of the Firm.” Harvard Law Review 119:5 (2005–2006): 1333–403.Google Scholar
Hespanha, A. M. Poder e instituições no Antigo Regime. Lisboa: Edições Cosmos, 1992.Google Scholar
Hespanha, A. M.Carne de uma só carne: para uma compreensão dos fundamentos histórico-antropológicos da família na época moderna.” Análise Social 28: 123–24 (1993): 951–73.Google Scholar
Kniep, F. Societas publicanorum. Jena: Verlag von Gustav Fisher, 1896.Google Scholar
Lindemann, M. The Merchant Republics: Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg, 1648–1790. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
Lodge, R.The English Factory at Lisbon: Some Chapters in Its History.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 16 (1933): 211–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malmendier, U.Law and Finance ‘At the Origin.’Journal of Economic Literature 47:4 (2009): 1076–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malmendier, U. Societas publicanorum: Staatliche Wirtschaftsaktivitäten in den Händen privater Unternehmer. Cologne: Verlag Böhlau, 2002.Google Scholar
Monson, A., and Scheidel, W., eds. Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Monteiro, N. G. D. José na sombra de Pombal. Lisbon: Temas e Debates, 2008.Google Scholar
North, D. and Thomas, R. P., The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pares, R.A London West-India Merchant House, 1740–1769.” In Essays Presented to Sir Lewis Namier, edited by Pares, R. et al. , 75107. London: Macmillan, 1956.Google Scholar
Pedreira, J.Brasil, fronteira de Portugal: negócio, emigração e mobilidade social (séculos XVII e XVIII).” Anais da Universidade de Évora 8–9 (1998–1999): 63–9.Google Scholar
Pedreira, J. Os homens de negócio da praça de Lisboa de Pombal ao vintismo, 1755–1822: diferenciação, reprodução e identificação de um grupo social. PhD diss., Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1995.Google Scholar
Pedreira, J.Tratos e contratos: actividades, interesses e orientações dos investimentos dos negociantes da praça de Lisboa, 1755–1822.” Análise Social 31:136–37 (1996): 359–79.Google Scholar
Pereira, A. S.The Opportunity of a Disaster: The Economic Impact of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.” The Journal of Economic History 69:2 (2009): 466–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rodrigues, L. L. and Craig, R.. “Recovery amid Destruction: Manoel da Maya and the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755”. Libraries & the Cultural Record 43:4 (2008): 397-410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rogers, N.Money, Land and Lineage: The Big Bourgeoisie of Hanoverian London.” Social History 4:3 (1979): 437–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Russell-Wood, A. J. R.The Gold Cycle, c.1690–1750.” In Colonial Brazil, edited by Bethell, L., 190243. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Safley, T. M. ed. The History of Bankruptcy: Economic, Social and Cultural Implications in Early Modern Europe. London: Routledge, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Salvado, J. P.O estanco do tabaco em Portugal: contrato-geral e consórcios mercantis, 1702–1755.” In Política y hacienda en los impérios ibéricos, siglos XVII-XIX, edited by de Luxán, S., 133–53. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 2014.Google Scholar
Salvado, J. P. “Fiscal Income and Tax Farming: Dynamics of Interdependence between the State and Businessmen during the Brazilian Gold Cycle.” Paper presented at Early Modern Mercantile Culture Symposium, King's College London, 22–23 June 2018.Google Scholar
Salvado, J. P. “Os grandes negociantes de Lisboa da primeira metade do século XVIII: origens geográficas e perfil social.” Paper presented at XXXIV Conference of the Portuguese Association of Economic and Social History, 2014.Google Scholar
Sampaio, A. C. J. Na encruzilhada do império: hierarquias sociais e conjunturas econômicas no Rio de Janeiro, c. 1650–c. 1750. Rio de Janeiro: Arquivo Nacional, 2003.Google Scholar
Schulte Beerbühl, M. The Forgotten Majority: German Merchants in London, Naturalization, and Global Trade, 1660–1815. Oxford: Berghahn, 2015.Google Scholar
Serrão, J. V.Impactos económicos do terramoto.” In O terramoto de 1755: impactos históricos, edited by Araújo, A. C. et al. , 147–70. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte, 2007.Google Scholar
Sousa, R. M. de. “Brazilian Gold and the Lisbon Mint House.” e-Journal of Portuguese History 6:1 (2008): 122.Google Scholar
Subtil, J. O terramoto político, 1755–1759: memória e poder. Lisbon: Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, 2007.Google Scholar
Yamey, B. S.Scientific Bookkeeping and the Rise of Capitalism.” Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 1:2–3 (1949): 99113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zahedieh, N. The Capital and the Colonies: London and the Atlantic Economy, 1660–1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
Zimmermann, Reinhard. The Law of Obligations: Roman Foundations of the Civilian Tradition. Cape Town: Juta, 1992.Google Scholar

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The Rise and Fall of a Lisbon Family Business, 1710–1773: The Case of the House of Torres
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The Rise and Fall of a Lisbon Family Business, 1710–1773: The Case of the House of Torres
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