Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

James R. Farr

Committee Member 1

Melinda S. Zook

Committee Member 2

Saul Lerner

Committee Member 3

Trenton C. Jones


This thesis examines the political economy of tobacco in England and the Chesapeake in the seventeenth century, including production and labor, distribution and shipping, markets, taxes, and consumers. Because of James I’s struggles with Parliament, tobacco achieved a special tax status and thus a special relationship to the English Crown. That relationship persisted through the reign of Charles I, across the Interregnum, and into the Restoration. Tobacco was grown as a cash crop in both England and the Chesapeake. In England, production was exclusively by independent landowners hungry for a cash crop. English tobacco growing was outlawed in 1619, but growing continued and was clearly a financial success. Tobacco was introduced into the Chesapeake under the Virginia Company and supported the colony even though the Virginia Company collapsed. Although there were some slaves in the Chesapeake from 1619 on, due to the success of the head right system production was primarily by independent producers until the mid1670s. English colonial merchants developed the Triangle Trade, increasing their profits. As a result, slave labor substantially replaced independent growers in the Chesapeake. There is no hard data showing when or how Gloucestershire tobacco growing died out, but merchant alliances to stamp out the competition from England may well have had an effect.