Photo of Alex Taylor.Alex Taylor

Title: Venting Smoke: The Trade and consumption of Tobacco in Early Modern England and Wales c 1625-1685
Period: 1500-1800
Funded by: Wolfson Foundation Postgraduate Scholarship
Start year: 2014
Email: ATaylor2@sheffield.ac.uk

Supervisors:
Primary: Professor Phil Withington | Secondary: Dr Tom Leng

Research

Academic background

  • Sept 2013 – August 2014: MA in Early Modern History, University of Sheffield (Distinction)
  • Sept 2010 – June 2013: BA in History, University of Sheffield (First class with honours)

Research topic

My thesis explores the wholesale and retail tobacco trades of the seventeenth century. The research project encompasses overseas official and unofficial trade, the procedure of manufacturing tobacco into a vendible commodity, distribution and retailing, and domestic cultivation.

I aim to reconsider the early modern tobacco trade, particularly in light of evidence from the southwest of England. Conducting extensive research in record offices from Cornwall to Yorkshire, I use a range of local and national sources – including court depositions, probates, petitions, treasury records, state papers, civic records and trade books – and combine qualitative methodologies with quantitative analyses.

My research helps us to better understand how consumers in early modern England accessed new 'exotic' commodities and ultimately contributes to the exciting new field of the history of intoxicants.

Publications

Conference papers

  • 'Leafy Habits: the informal spread of tobacco in early modern England', Habitual Behaviour Conference, Sheffield (2/6/2017)
  • 'Patenting smoke: tobacco retail licences, economic practice and state formation in early modern England', Economic and Social History of the Early Modern World, Institute of Historical Research, London (26/5/2017)
  • 'The outports versus the metropolis: practical responses to restrictions on the overseas tobacco trade in seventeenth-century England', Economic History Society Conference, London (31/3/2017)
  • 'Economic Discourse and Trafficking Tobacco in Seventeenth-Century Bristol', Intoxication, Discourse and Practice Conference, Sheffield (1/10/2016)
  • 'Tobacco Fraud in seventeenth-century Bristol: Corruption or Social Crime?', Social History Society Annual Conference, Lancaster (21/3/2016)
  • 'Tobacco Retail Patents in 1630s England: Monarchical Discourse and Social Practice', Discourse and Practice Workshop, Oldenburg (6/2/2016)
  • 'Retailing tobacco in early modern England: the formal and informal trades', Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution, Wolverhampton (10/9/2015)
  • 'Drinking smoke: The Licensing of tobacco-retailers in early modern England, 1633-1640', Drinking Studies Network Annual Conference, Leicester (7/6/2015)
Teaching

Teaching

  • Part-time associate tutor on HST112 (Paths from Antiquity to Modernity) and HST115 (The Disenchantment of early modern Europe)
  • Group facilitator on ThinkCreate programme
Public Engagement

Public engagement

  • Research Poster at 'the Intoxication Station' Festival of Arts & Humanities Millennium Galleries, Sheffield (21/5/2016)
  • Panel Member at 'Jolly Good Ale and Old: A conversational evening of drink history and song' (University of Sheffield Alumni event) London (19/5/2016)
  • Panel Member at 'Jolly Good Ale and Old: A conversational evening of drink history and song' (Being Human Festival) Sheffield (19/11/2015)
Affiliations and Awards

Awards

  • Royal History Society (RHS)
    Towards funding for Connections in Commerce and Consumption conference, 15-16 September 2017 (£300)
  • Petrie Watson Exhibition Award
    Towards funding for Connections in Commerce and Consumption conference, 15-16 September 2017 (£265)
  • University of Sheffield department of History Research Clusters Award
    Towards funding for Connections in Commerce and Consumption conference, 15-16 September 2017 (£300)
  • Wolfson Foundation Scholarship
    October 2014 – September 2017 (£16,000 per annum stipend plus £5,000 expenses)
  • MA University of Sheffield tuition fees scholarship
    October 2013 – September 2014 (£5,000 tuition fee waiver)